Saturday, June 28, 2008

Doo Doo Demographics

The race has a subtext, a historic encounter between the Old America and the New, and suddenly the Old America—those who are literally old, who married a guy who fought at the Chosin Reservoir, and those not so old who yet remember, and cherish, the special glories of the Old—will rise, and join in, and make themselves heard. They will not leave without a fight.

So writes Peggy Noonan of the presidential race. These few lines, taken out of context, evoke thoughts of George Carlin. How we laughed that sneaky, little laugh of the guilty when he would launch into his seven-words-you-can-never-ever-say-on-television bit. But now in the cold light of advancing middle age, how puerile it seems. We were no different than the two year old who learns how to say, “caca,” then proceeds to repeat it endlessly, tittering every time he utters the forbidden word. It seemed harmless enough at the time, but it was the first step in the slow downward evolution of our television, movies, and music into a cesspool of amorality so pervasive that families now have to screen the offerings coming into their homes.

That is the problem with the New America. It was forged by a generation whose very “baby” boomer moniker relates not only to the population demographic, but to the immaturity of its members. They enshrined a Peter Pan syndrome of entitlement, irresponsibility, and self-indulgence as the cultural norm. In other words, it is a generation that didn’t grow up, one that dragged its adolescent antics- the mindless pursuit of “cool,” the indulgence in mind-altering substances, the sexual revolution, and a pervasive distrust and disdain of all authority- well into adulthood and beyond where it has metamorphosed into a Hydra-headed monster. As it moved into positions of power, its members spurned such traditional values as duty and self-reliance and self-sacrifice at the same time they accommodated themselves to the acquisition and conspicuous consumption of wealth, a greed unconstrained by traditional strictures.

So now we jump on political bandwagons without real thought; we expect others to take care of us. There is no such thing as civil discourse. People who disagree with our political positions are incomprehensible, stupid, even evil. We forbid the public mention of God, but subject society to scatological description of every conceivable sexual practice. We neglect our children in the pursuit of our own fulfillment or the McMansion in the suburbs. Then we turn and attack and even sue teachers, school bus drivers, or the police when they impose the limits we have failed to instill in our children. We have forgotten the concept of the well-earned shame. Everything is someone else’s fault. We are a nation of angry people, no one getting quite enough.

As a baby boomer I bear my part of the blame, only I’ve grown up and looked around at what we helped create. Frankly, our sole achievement as a generation has been in the arena of battling discrimination, although even that process was started by the greatest generation and has become tainted with the pall of political correctness, moral equivalence, and just plain excess. So forgive me if I side with the Old America. It was a country that produced strong, independent, god-fearing people. I miss it. We need it. More importantly, our children do, too.


Burt Prelutsky gets the quote of the day in this less than amusing look at the candidate for this one:

Frankly, what I find even scarier than Iran’s getting its dirty little hands on a nuclear bomb is the fact that tens of millions of my fellow Americans are eager to elect this numbskull in November.

Sorry, I had to allow myself one vitriolic, liberal left moment. There, now I am myself again. The entire column here.

Friday, June 27, 2008

While You Were Gone

After spending three days immersed in Stephen King's Duma Key which I found somehow mesmerizing, I have a collection on items I wanted to mention:

Death of a Canadian. José Manuel Caraballo Bravo has a somewhat cryptic piece on Miscelaneas, entitled "Death Surprises Mr. Canada" about an ill-fated tourist. It seems that one known to locals as "Morris," "Mr. Whisky," or just "Mr. Canada" on a return trip to Cuba forsook his resort lodgings for a hotel in town, where not his bad liver but a simple cut on his toe led to somewhat mysterious demise. Horrified at the conditions in the medical socialist paradise- he was heard to utter that he had never seen such a filthy hospital- angered that he was charged for treatment, he betook himself and his festering foot from the hospital to his lodgings where he was found dead in the lobby the following morning. There was a question as to whether he had keeled over or had been the victim of foul play. In Spanish, here.

Death in the Morning. In an even stranger story, a veterinarian was mortally wounded by a rhinoceros named Kiala in the Havana Zoo. In an excess of sympathy, an unnamed colleague characterized it as a tragic accident that could have been avoided if the deceased had taken adequate security measures. At least it wasn't an ape. Under Spanish rules, they probably would have had to try the beast.

Lesson to be Learned? In the twilight zone of truth goes this one from the Huffington Post by Martin Carnoy which posits the question whether we could learn from Cuba's education system. I'll skip the indoctrination angle because he does. So I won't take the cheap shot of preschoolers in Peoria chanting "I will be like Che." I confess to being in a quandary. He has both anecdotal evidence and all these neat statistics, although they do require a bit of monkeying. But as to "Cuban teacher education is tightly controlled by the Ministry of Education, which insists that teachers know how to teach the curriculum," I've got a bit of a problem. Since Cuba is now putting teenagers in the front of classrooms (remember the 14 yr old who killed his student), and Raul recently sacked the minister of education because things on the educational front are so dismal, how can this be true? Well, could there be other factors at work? Cultural values? Selective testing? Changes in the past few years?

Rafael in Havana. He mentioned his discourse in a comment, and it's a must read, laugh out loud. Te la comistes, man! Read it here- it's in English. A note of congratulations, too, for reaching 100,000 hits. Wow!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Happy Belated Birthday to Me

You know things are bad when you forget such a momentous occasion. A year ago today, Lou and I started this blog. So thank you to all who have been so supportive, especially my pals, Nanski, Fermi, Ms. Calabaza, my colleagues Gusano,Henry and most especially Val- without whose inspiration and apoyo all this would not be possible. Forgot to mention, Lou who introduced me to the Cubiche blogosphere.

If the Shoe Fits...

Independent journalist Oswaldo Yáñez might very well have the quote of the day. Writing in a vein that is running through much coming from the island regarding the EU’s lifting of sanctions, although a tad more tart, he notes:

Zapatero I, the Illuminati, will come to Havana with Desatinos to drink some mojitos with the tyrant brothers and…to ask for the freedom of the primates in the Havana Zoo, because to the misinformed “gallego” simians (apes) have more rights than dissident Cubans…

All this no doubt a reference to the bill in Spain according apes et al the rights of a human being. Need I say more, so to speak?

Complete text here in beautiful Spanish and translator English.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Cuban Sandwich as Weapon

I think it was last week that I posted about an article by Romanian Poet Andrei Codrescu which posed the question whether the poet could be more precise than the journalist. In his case, the answer was in the affirmative. Today, I came across an article in the young Garden & Gun magazine by Rick Bragg* which also supports this notion. Bragg, noted writer and about as unCuban as you can get (he grew up in the foothills of the Appalachians in Alabama), demonstrates a keen eye and an open heart as he crafts a piece about the political and cultural milieu of Miami through the vehicle of the Cuban sandwich. Contrast this one with all of those reports coming out about new generations of exiles.

In a side note, despite its unfortunate title, Garden & Gun is a gorgeous, classy, not chi-chi, and well-written magazine about the South. It's kind of like Southern Living with intellect and without the gloss. Don't get the wrong idea; I like Southern Living.

* I know, I know, he was a journalist.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Literary Interlude: The Waking

Haven't had one in a while. Ever since I went back to work, don't have many wits left. I like this one because of its mix of dark and light:

I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.
I feel my fate in what I cannot fear.
I learn by going where I have to go.

We think by feeling. What is there to know?
I hear my being dance from ear to ear.
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.

Of those so close beside me, which are you?
God bless the Ground! I shall walk softly there,
And learn by going where I have to go.

Light takes the Tree; but who can tell us how?
The lowly worm climbs up a winding stair;
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.

Great Nature has another thing to do
To you and me; so take the lively air,
And, lovely, learn by going where to go.

This shaking keeps me steady. I should know.
What falls away is always. And is near.
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.
I learn by going where I have to go.

Theodore Roethke

Superficial on a Sunday

Stormcloud Gray. This one from the UK, The Royal Bank of Scotland warning that we could be in for a nasty period in the financial markets. My take is that things don't look good, period. Our economy is incredibly resilient, but it doesn't hurt to be careful. My advice: stash some cash while you still can.

Snow White. Couldn't resist this Staten Island story. Jennifer Lopez surprised a bunch of autistic elementary school children at PS 37 by attending their graduation and singing their favorite song. Read it. It's heartwarming and says a lot more about Jennifer than all those tabloid headlines.

Sunflower Yellow. In a story reminiscent of the immigration woes of the Beatles, Martha Stewart has been denied entry to the UK. Extrapolating from the comments made by a Home Office spokesperson in this International Herald Tribune article, her insider lying conviction would seem to make her a danger to British society.

Kinoki Black. If you're like me, you probably sit up wondering whether those foot pads (sorry about the pun) they advertise in the middle of the night really work. Surprise! According to this on MSNBC, they don't. Save your money, the end is nigh!

Nightshade Red. Up late at night with nothing to do? Nothing on TV? Have nothing to read? No problem. Head on over to Page by Page Books and choose from a plethora of books on line. I found Sherwood Anderson's "Sophistication" there. Happy Hunting!