Saturday, July 24, 2010
First read Carlos Eire's very clear explanation, courtesy of Ziva, of just what travel to Cuba supports. Then bearing in mind that Che Guevara was a mass murderer who helped impose the same Stalinist system Dr. Eire describes, read the article that forms the basis of the previous post by Fontova. Oh, the horror.
Monday, July 19, 2010
All of these ruminations occurred because I came across an add for a movie, Cropsey. Sounds like an interesting documentary of sorts: crime story, cultural study of Staten Island, Blair Witch revisited. It struck a chord, because a few weeks before the disappearance of the last little girl, the convicted murderer came into my husband's store and hung around shooting the breeze. I don't remember being afraid of him. I think he was one of the locals. But in light of later events, I am struck by the behavior of my daughter, about three at the time, who spent his entire visit
affixed to my right kneecap. Strange, life.
Thursday, July 8, 2010
What this media ploy demonstrates is the only genius of the ruling military junta in Havana. They have murdered and pillaged, oppressed a people and mismanaged an economy, dragged a nation backwards into the third world, into the Stalinist era. They are surrounded by the desolation they have created, but, hey, they have a diabolical knack for propaganda. For decades it is they who have framed the discussion. This ostensibly humanitarian gesture has seemingly blinded the world community to the continued repression of half a century. And Cuban Americans, as usual, are left looking like... like, well, hardliners.
Let me explain my perspective: suppose a mugger is kneeling on the chest of his victim, applying just enough pressure, not enough to completely kill the unfortunate, but enough to make it near impossible to breathe. In comes Spain and the Church ( Picture it like a morality play) who after much cajoling and pleading succeed in convincing the aforementioned mugger to shift a little to the right allowing the victim just a bit more oxygen. Am I supposed to celebrate?
True, I am gladdened that the victim is afforded a bit more freedom. In this sense, I wholeheartedly rejoice that the beaten and tortured will no longer be beaten and tortured, just forced into permanent exile from their mother country for the crime of having an opinion. But I will not bang cymbals and jump up and down in ecstasy until the criminal is gone and victim is at last freed.
Lo and behold, my very irate neighbor informed me that yesterday, one of the newly hired census people came by to check it out. Then I find a little form nicely requesting a call or expect another visit. My neighbor is correct in this one. What the f*#@? It's empty. They saw it was empty. My neighbor told the woman no one lived there. What more?
Saturday, June 26, 2010
Friday, June 25, 2010
Then I'm watching the streets of a "Cuban" town with nary a spot of peeling paint, evoking the thought that they must have shot this in the Dominican Republic. Turns out the episode was filmed in Puerto Rico. Cuba should look so good. So what does it matter? It matters. It is only ignorance that makes this storyline possible, one that could conceivably infect 7.2 million viewers or so, leaving them with the perception that Cuba is just another Carribbean resort destination, no different from Aruba, or St Maarten, etc.
It is an ignorance only made possible by an interesting phenomenon, the NHH (Nothing Happened Here) syndrome that infects and informs the entertainment industry's love affair with the dictatorship, despite the testimony of millions to the contrary. They know more than people who have lived there, the family members of those who have fled and those who remain. The result is that the Cuba presented in the episode bears no more resemblance to the real thing than I to Walter Cronkite.
To be fair, there were some off notes. One character is convinced that he is being followed by the secret police for buying black market cigars, an impression heightened by the disappearance of the vendor. Scenes from next week's conclusion show the character being whisked away in a big car. Of course, the term kidnapping is used, leading to all sorts of dismay on my part. We'll see.
As my Dad would say, "Manda madre!"
Update: The conclusion of the two-part episode was much better, incorporating a major storyline about a dissident. Still, the overall impression was way too positive.
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
Just where in the Constitution of the United States does it say that a president has the authority to extract vast sums of money from a private enterprise and distribute it as he sees fit to whomever he deems worthy of compensation? Nowhere.
But the Constitution says that private property is not to be confiscated by the government without "due process of law." Technically, it has not been confiscated by Barack Obama, but that is a distinction without a difference.
BP is unpopular and rightly so. What happens, though, when the precedent is established and the government deems some other enterprise unworthy. Do I hear slippery slope? Read the whole excellent column here.
Saturday, June 19, 2010
No, I'm not going to go off on a paean to the beauty of the beaches, the seas of skies, or even a lament over the torrential rains every afternoon in summer or the brooding possibility of a hurricane. No, my scope is a bit smaller. Start with the ubiquitous lizards that wind up in washing machines or the palmetto bugs, or roaches the size of hamsters. Speaking of size, there are also spiders, all kinds of spiders, including big ones that look like pom poms and carry their young. Squish them at your own peril, as thousand of one day full-sized babies scatter in every direction. I know. There are frogs, mole crickets (scary) and phalanxes of mosquitoes. And snakes, lots of snakes, the National Geographic kind. You know, red and yellow kill a fellow kinda snakes. And did I mention the flies? Never mind, the no-see-ums are the worst, defying any and all insect repellents.
The one nice thing is the absence of the dread yellow jacket. There are few bees, only the fat, good-tempered true (to my mind) bumble bee. At least that was until my neighbor down the block put in a bee hive. I suspect it didn't work out for him, because I haven't seen one around lately, thereby putting the kibosh on my pipe dreams of suing him when the hubster keeled over from being stung. Alas. Back to the issue at hand. Wasps are everywhere: little wasps who tend to leave you alone and large, foul-tempered African-looking creatures who build tiny little nests, packed like Tokyo subway cars, in your mailbox. The former urbanite learns to combat these with a can of foam with a 25 foot reach followed by a quick flight to safety.
So this year, I spotted a wasp by the back door, not an unusual phenomenon. The next day, there were two buzzing around; the following, three. I began recon. They seemed to be coming from under the mouldering box truck by the back porch. Aha. Problem was they seemed to have built a nest on the underside of said truck. The prospect of infiltrating their camp on my back without easy egress was a weighty one. Still, sticking my courage to the sticking place, I went for my weapon of choice. Agh. Godamn, he did it again. He used up the 5 dollar can of Raid and didn't tell me. I run out to the store. All the while, He, the hubster, is insistent that they don't have a hive, that they are coming from foxholes in the ground. I don't believe him.
Armed with my newly purchased and pricey can, I'm still hesitant. I really don't want to suffer the death of a thousand stings. Something seems wrong anyway. A little research, and the dawning realization that hubby was right. Who ever heard of a wasp that doesn't build a nest? Now, how to neutralize what have now become dozens of wasps at the same time when they're not in the same place? The internet yields advice: they don't like wet soil, use soap and water, etc. The paramount consideration for me, however, is not to get stung. I wait for ideal weather conditions. Where is the daily rainstorm when you need it? Finally one afternoon, there is a break. Under cover of a shower, I grab the hose, snaking it ever so cautiously toward the truck. Drat! It falls just a tad short. I take my chances. Turn on the water and pray.
The next morning, I'm greeted once again by the invaders. Frustrated, I decide to consult my expert on all things Southern. Let's call him Buddy. I mean, they must have these things in Mississippi, right? Buddy is a font of quaint and sometimes questionable down home remedies, often involving petrochemicals. Got arthritis in your knee? Spray it with WD-40. Want to keep bugs away from the house? Create a motor oil barrier. Get my drift? But I'm desperate.
"What you got there is them old hornets," he informs me with a sympathetic shake of the head. "Yup...you just take an old golf club and swing it, and you'll see them come after your ass." Huh? That's helpful. I shouda known better.
" One day, Jim Bob was playin' golf, took a swing, and that boy wound up with 15 stings. Only thing you can do... is use some of the dishwashing liquid, you know, Downy. Just pour it on down there and run. Don't dilute it, though, 'cause that syrupy thing gets on their wings and they can't fly."
That actually jibed with some of the internet stuff I'd read. But I'm still left with a problem: the reason the truck is behind that back porch is that like many of my husband's possessions, it died there and thus can't be moved. What now? Stay tuned. Same wasp channel. Same wasp time.
Father's Day is approaching. Purple roses grow in heaven, Lord pick a bunch for me. Place them in my daddy's arms and tell him they're from me. Tell him that I love and miss him. When he turns to smile place a kiss upon his cheek & hold him for a while, because remembering him is easy, I do it every day. But there's an ...ache in my heart... that will never go away.....If your Dad is in Heaven, copy & paste this.
Tuesday, June 15, 2010
Pending "plugging the hole," what is missing is a no holds barred approach to the effects of the spill. Tonight in his speech, he trots out the notorious berms in Louisiana. Very nice. Of course, Gov. Jindal had to plead on every news outlet for weeks and threaten civil disobedience to get permission from the Army Corps of Engineers. Assistance from countries conversant with deep sea drilling has been turned down. Apparently, no one asked for a waiver of the Jones Act. Booms and other equipment to ameliorate the effects on the coastline sit in warehouses thousands of miles away. Where have processes been streamlined to allow communities to defend their beaches? Is this all BP's fault? Who is the kick ass Honore here?
Alas, our President lives in his head and lacks the "common touch" of his predecessors. His is a lawyerly bent. It doesn't necessarily make him a bad person, but it does not make him a particularly good leader in a crisis.
Sunday, June 13, 2010
Also picked up a copy of The Holy Thief by William Ryan, a police procedural set in Stalinist Russia, one of a number of similar novels. I am reminded of Child 44 by Tom Rob Smith. This one I enjoyed.
Oh, and if you can bear to read a screenplay, pick up your free copy of the first episode of The Glades at your local Barnes & Noble. I've got mine. Have to read it. The A & E series is set in a small Florida town on the edge of the Everglades. Murder and mayhem among the mangroves. Already have a question, though, how is the retired Chicago cop played by an Australian actor? Look for it in July.
Sunday, May 2, 2010
As I wiped the tear from my eye, I spied a theme to the evening. In high school, I was introduced to the concept of the "marginal man." (That was in the days before political correctness. One has to wonder what it is now...) Anyway, the marginal person has one foot in either culture, in my experience belonging to neither. Although inconvenient at times, like when you're sixteen and trying to get permission to go to the movies with your friends on a Friday night, it is often incredibly comforting, like when you are cosseted and coddled in a most unAnglolike way, being called El Niño long past the threshold of adulthood by an overly fond grandparent.
As I explained to a young relative in the middle of a genealogy project who was bemoaning that the kids in her class could trace their ancestors to George Washington and the like, leaving her feeling so different: her classmates only have one cultural pocketbook to dig into; we have two.
It has spread like a virus. Used to be that if you stayed away from the news channels, you could avoid liberal propaganda. Nowadays, you can't even watch the commercials. Witness the Amex spots enjoining viewers to volunteer. Really, I don't need a credit card company telling me to be kind to my fellow man. When corporations jump on the bandwagon, it's a sure sign it's time to get off at the next stop.
I've been here before. The mindless adoption of political positions as a badge of coolness is something I lived through in the late sixties. Difference was that in those days, there were adults to keep the country from going to hell. As my father would have said, "Sheesh."
Wednesday, April 7, 2010
Leviathan Lobster? Also at FoxNews is this cute large crustacean, newly discovered in the depths. At the risk of being flippant, wonder what it tastes like?
Lost Link? At last, the disappointment of my first visit to the American Museum of Natural History is righted. According to the Telegraph, the missing link may have been found in South Africa. I'm still trying to get over that genetic Eve. Oh,well, As long as it's not the Piltdown Man.
Thursday, April 1, 2010
For years I kept a collection of my favorite books, as well as the old standards every library should have- Bible, oversized dictionary, etc.... Course, I never had one of those wood paneled libraries to keep them in, and by the time I- in straitened circumstances- moved across the country to Florida, I came to the realization that there were no library ladders in my future, and I really didn't want to pay the freight, literally. So after donating my professional stuff to various libraries, I embarked on my new life, accompanied only by the books of my youth: The Happy Hollisters and Georgette Heyer romances.
To my surprise, I've survived quite nicely since then. Last year, I even sold the Heyer novels on Ebay, no problem. I've found that I feel lighter, the Feng Shui is better in my house. Those of us who live in Florida learn quickly that between the heat and the bugs nothing survives in sheds and garages, so books tend to become dust magnets. Fortunately we don't have basements, and attics are vestigial architectural appendages.
So part of me loves the idea of the ereader. No more searching the house at all hours of the night for something to read, hiring a private detective to locate an obscure author's early novels. Think of the convenience. They're fun. And who wants to be a dinosaur?
I comfort myself with the thought that the disembodied tale floating in cyberspace shares in the paperless state of the storytelling of old. Not so bad. But stories were told around a fire in the company of other human beings. The ereader seems a bit sad, a lonely, sterile undertaking.
Wednesday, March 31, 2010
Yes, we can say Cubans are hungry: hungry for food, hungry for change, hungry for freedom. But these brave men point to a deeper kind of hunger- to be acknowledged in the land of their birth as human beings with all the attendant dignity thereof and not as serfs, slaves, chattel. Deprived by the Stalinist regime of any semblance of self-determination, muzzled, abused, and subject to imprisonment in subhuman conditions at the whim of the current military junta, the hunger strike becomes the ultimate assertion of self, the last resort. They have taken away everything else, but it was Orlando, it is Coco and Franklin and Darsi who chose to exercise the ultimate power over their bodies. How wrong a system is it, when the only possibility of freedom is to dance with death, even that only allowed because it suits the regime?
*Recently Dr Ferrer, who is jailed for allegedly buying black market paint, I believe, and has never been tried, received an award from the US State Department and has subsequently seen the conditions of his incarceration decline. He has declared his hunger strike in response to his maltreatment in prison.
Tuesday, March 30, 2010
Monday, March 29, 2010
Saturday, March 27, 2010
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
Monday, March 22, 2010
I sense that tonight is a turning point. That someday we will look back and see as in a Greek tragedy that this was the moment the idea of America died, although to me it started dying the day they imposed punitive taxation on one group, smokers, to openly transfer it to the children of others. Next comes the cap and trade and/or immigration. There is obviously not enough money to fund all these things. There is not enough now. So what will be the answer, a monumental tax increase?
Worse yet, by the time he and his henchpersons are finished, he will have fundamentally transformed the country as promised. I have to wonder if this was the "change" the independents wanted when they listened to the tripe being published in the media and elected a quasi socialist. Stupid, stupid, stupid. May God help America.
Sunday, March 21, 2010
Thursday, March 18, 2010
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
Does anyone at this point know what's in the thing? We started out with two differing bills, numbering in the thousands of pages. We have yet to see what's in the Frankenstein monster they're cobbling together behind closed doors. No one actually knows what the results of the sweeping changes will be. Think unintended consequences. Most critical, however, is the reasoning behind the political machinations to ram this bill through.
It's apparent that the public in the main wants no part of it, so why pass the thing? Do they suppose that Americans will forget by election time; that the public is so stupid it has been duped by the Right and that it is up to the Democrats to chase us down and make us swallow our medicine; or is it that the majority is immoral to cavil at the expense of yet another entitlement when we can't fund those entitlements already law and thus must be forced into virtue?
There are those who frame the current fight over healthcare as a battle for our Constitutional principles. It is not a big leap to that conclusion when we see the expedients to which Pelosi et al will resort to impose their views on an unwilling public. If nothing else, the passage of Obamacare will be the triumph of the Democrat will. How does this differ from others who rule by fiat?
Get the broom out, folks. November can't get here soon enough.
Thursday, March 4, 2010
Sunday, February 28, 2010
Periodically, voices from the past surface, some who were fellow students, work colleagues, and the like. Invariably, they are now at the pinnacle of their careers. See, unlike me, they kept the faith. It is at moments like this that I confront a truckload of regret. We set out on the same starting line, but like that hare of lore, I who had all the advantages dallied under the nearest tree. Now they are successful, and I am not. Working my tush off in a job well below my earning power, skills, and education, I find myself occasionally partaking in a sizable serving of humble pie. My New Age friends would say that life puts you where you need to be, confronts you with the lessons you need to learn. In that case, a bit of humility would not come amiss, I guess.
The funny thing is that these friends often express their own regrets. At times, amazingly, they seem to envy me. So as I was doing my mental calculations, a fierce thought rose in me: I resent every single hour I have to take away from my life to earn a living. I know the delicious sensation of waking without a single, scheduled obligation, declaring my own Law and Order marathon; the warmth and happiness occasioned by the play of sunlight coming through the window in the middle of the day; the sense of achievement when caulking a window or just mowing my own lawn, working as yet another few hours of diversion. Of course that renders you less independent but makes for a very pleasant life. Camus has Meursault say that nothing, nothing but the sheer act of living has any importance. Perhaps that is the notion that has guided me, for good or ill.
There are other reasons, beyond my control, that I never achieved what I could have, never gone for that brass ring. My mother would say, Dios le da barba al que no tiene quijada. So it goes, whatever we think is an Andersonian lie. And, oh, by the way, I love my humble job.
*Although this is a very personal- and one might say, self-pitying- rumination, I offer it as one perspective. I find that the women of my generation, the first to take advantage of the achievements of women's movement, is at this point in their lives very ambivalent about the choices they have made, myself included.
Thursday, February 25, 2010
In effect, I am paying taxes, but no one is representing my interests. Does taxation without representation sound familiar? Now just about March 16th, the local school board is looking for voters to renew an additional school tax we habitually impose on ourselves. I have always been a faithful supporter of the measure. Guess what I'm doing this year? It ain't voting "yes." If my local government considers me less than human, I won't sully their hands with my nicotine-stained dollars. Heck, if I could figure out a way to avoid paying taxes to them at all, I would.
I'm just not on a soapbox here. The School District has been spending like drunken sailors on school construction, building opulent child warehouses, when smaller schools are more effective. All of which makes it easier to just say "no."
Wednesday, February 24, 2010
The willful blindness afflicting our elected representatives is truly astounding. Since most of them have never worked up a bad, let alone good, sweat in their working careers, I offer them a test. Let's call it the sofa test. You see, the numbers these politicians wield are abstractions to them, bandied about with little recognition of just what those numbers represent. I would ask, "How many sofas should a mover carry on his back to fund pig smell studies in Iowa?" Picture a septic tank cleaner: "How many septic tanks must he pump to fund the National Endowment of the Arts?"
Seen in this light, you have to rethink the role of the federal government. Many of the recipient programs are laudable. They are nice things, but they are not in the rightful purview of government. After much thought, it seems to me that the federal government, just as a private family in straitened circumstances, needs to concentrate on its core obligations- in this case: national security, some sort of social safety net so that no one dies on the streets of hunger, and others.
As things stand, it seems that Congress is in the grip of a mass hysteria, playing a bit of Handel as the HMS State slowly submerges. The woods are burning, boys.
Thursday, January 28, 2010
The conclusion here is that those in power at the Yacht Club are either completely clueless or completely impervious to the misery of their fellow man, or both; else they would not lend countenance to a murderous, repressive regime or celebrate the "golden age of clubs" with those who destroyed them. The thought that these people can go down there in their nifty boats with their nifty clothes and their nifty food in their slightly over-sized bellies amid the hunger, misery and squalor being inflicted on the Cuban people by their hosts is mind-boggling. The moral equivalent to organizing a cross-country ski trip to Stalin's Siberia, it is a stain on the name of Sarasota. They might have been better served if they had consulted the former members of the Havana Yacht Club. Incredible.