Thursday, 30 December 2010


Remember the wailing and gnashing of teeth I expect to accompany re-districting?
The state of Ohio will lose two congressional seats thanks to the latest U.S. Census figures, and liberal stalwart Dennis Kucinich is worried his seat is on the chopping block.
In an e-mail to supporters Wednesday, the seven-term Democratic congressman and two-time presidential candidate says the Republican-controlled Ohio legislature is likely to eliminate his heavily Democratic Cleveland-area district.
This could just be Kucinich making a play for donations, but I wouldn't be surprised if his seat were eliminated.

Friday, 24 December 2010

To The Game Grid

God bless the internet! I'm planning to watch the new Tron film, and so just had to watch the original again. My first memory of this film involved the rapid destruction of a whole box of Cadbury's Roses - right down to the dreaded coffee creams- by the scene where the protagonists attempt to reach the I/O tower to contact Tron's user. I can't have been much older than five.

The film actually hasn't aged too badly in my opinion, but then again maybe its just me showing my age. I'm sure my niece and nephew would balk at the very dated special effects. I do think that the pace of the film is far too sluggish. Decent performances by Jeff Bridges and Bruce Boxleitner though. Let's see if the re-up is any good - trailers below.

Friday, 10 December 2010

Rethinking Russian Humour

I remember a friend of mine regaling me with tales of her experiences in the Soviet Union, and trying to get me to understand the unique aspects of Russian humour... I laughed at none of the punchlines. I think I may have seen the light, because this dig at the US over Wikileaks has me in stitches.

The Chinese basically got all pissy at what they perceived as Western sanctimony, and went and staged their own awards ceremony, The Confucius Prize. This latest salvo by the Russian government uses Assange - a man I'm sure they'd like to discover has come up missing - to expose the kind of  hypocrisy they would like to keep hidden in the case of their own interests. You have to laugh.

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Oh, My Goodness...

Young City Extraordinaire takes me back.

Fujimama's Boys' Brunches. Abso-fucking-lutely! Good food, beautiful people, great conversation. How I miss those weekend brunches after a night out in good old Tokes. Plum liqueur - made with honey and brown sugar- on the rocks. Pork and rice with chopped okra and kimchi. Yukke at the Korean restaurant in Shin Okubo. Braised taro at the Chinese restaurant in Shiba. Unice, with the great food but awful service. Baobab, great food, greater cocktails, and the one and only Ikuta; keep playing that funk, man.

It was a good time. Will such a thing be mine to experience again, I wonder.

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Sunday, 5 December 2010

Friday, 3 December 2010


Nasa scientists have discovered a species of bacteria that can live on arsenic. A quite exciting find, as it may herald new research into the biological history of life on Earth, evolution, and life on other planets. Stories below.

Image: Mono Lake/Henry Bortman

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

So, about that foul mood...

I had landed a job, a rather good job in some respects. Now it is gone from me. 

At the moment I do not have a mouth with which to tell the tale. I need to get to a better place first, and I fear that will not be happening anytime soon. My good friend tells me I may have dodged a bullet, but I remain haunted by visions of my nascent career being smothered in its sleep.


Can't really say I have too much beef with them. Secretary Clinton's claims that this latest release of data has put lives at risk are an exaggeration, methinks. And only serves to make me tune out the politicians falling over themselves to condemn Julian Assange in the strongest terms possible.

I got a kick out of news that many leaders in the Arab world, wanted the U.S. to take action against Iran's nuclear programme. Mark Klieman's comment elicited a good laugh:
... the Saudis (and our other Arab quasi-friends) are willing to fight Iran to the last American.
 A hit! A palpable hit! Perhaps it's because I've been in such a foul mood lately that I find this whole brouhaha rather amusing.

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Thoughts of She

I came across one of those WTF stories I used to send her, or have her come over to the computer screen to read.

She would read the headline, and sometimes the lede, roll her eyes and ask me why I keep reading Sankei News.


I wish I didn't feel this way.

Sunday, 21 November 2010

Just Because

I've had a pretty shitty week, so here's a cute tune that made me smile:

Monday, 15 November 2010

Maddow Vs. Stewart

I absolutely love Rachel Maddow, mind like a steel trap; and I consider John Stewart one of the best commentators on US politics. So it was great to see this interview where Maddow really pushes Stewart to get at what he's trying to do and his precise role. The interview felt a bit awkward in parts, however. I think this was down to the fact that he was making his points about 24-hour cable news to the person whose show is one of the least representative of the problems Stewart critiques. I do take issue with what I see as a false equivalence in his analysis of political dialogue in the US, which I've written about elsewhere, I've been doing some more thinking, and I'm mulling over his points in the Bush WMD and waterboarding discussion.

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Simple Answers to Simple Stupid Questions Cont.

After quoting this post from Juan Cole:
Rep. John Shimkus (R-Ill.), who will seek the Energy and Commerce Committee chairmanship maintains that we do not have to worry about climate change because God promised in the Bible not to destroy the world again after Noah’s flood.
About half the newly elected Congressmen are climate deniers (and if past experience is any guide, about a third of them are criminals).
 John Cole asks:
Do other nations look at us and just laugh?
Basically yes, until we realise what the fumduckery of your lawmakers may mean for the rest of us.

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Just Because

Some tunes from a cool Icelandic band, Hjálmar. Caught their song Manstu on a Icelandair flight back home and haven't been able to get it out of my head. It brings to my mind's eye a scene in which I foolishly serenade some poor girl with my boys in tow, and ask her to remember how good it felt to be with me:

I also dig this tune, Líð ég um. Enjoy:

Monday, 8 November 2010

I'll try to keep an open mind...

I've just learned, via my morning read, that Zac Efron has been offered the lead role in an adaptation of anime fan favourite Akira.  

Akira is the name of a manga series -later adapted into an animated movie- set in "neo-Tokyo" a city built following the destruction of the old Tokyo in an explosion three decades earlier. The explosion was caused by the eponymous Akira, a young boy with terrifying telekinetic powers. The central protagonists are Shima Tetsuo and Kaneda Shōtarō. The latter -the role Efron has apparently been offered- is the leader of a biker gang who discovers that his childhood friend Tetsuo is developing similar destructive powers.

Truth be told, I'm not all that enamoured of the anime. Still, my immediate reaction is worry that this will be another Dragonball Evolution, a little disappointment that the rumours do not concern some hot, young Asian actor, and hope that the producers will do more justice to the depth and complexity of the original manga than the anime adaptation.

Thursday, 4 November 2010

Crank Up The Wingnut Wurlwitzer!

I expect lots of crowing from the pundits about "the people" having delivered their verdict on the so-called big government tax and spend policies of the Obama administration, and I shall pay them no mind. I have little time for those who largely kept quiet while an inherited surplus was transformed into a structural deficit with  tax cuts, two wars, and a new programme - all unpaid for. Furthermore I'm quite certain that if you were to ask people specific policy questions they would not opt for a roll back of provisions for people with pre-existing conditions, nor for another transfer of wealth to the rich and super-rich through the Bush tax cuts. 

The economy sucks, incumbents always get soaked when the economy sucks. In fact considering how many people are hurting I'm surprised that the drubbing the Democrats received wasn't much worse 

What annoys me most about the result is that now the Republican leadership has no incentive whatsoever to actually get to grips with the business of governance. These knuckleheads spent the last two years ginning up fear about a secret muslim Kenyan socialist usurper, and they've been rewarded with control of the lower house of Congress and quite a few state legislatures - I expect some real wailing and gnashing of teeth when districts are redrawn. The next two years should be even more fun: crazy bills with no chance of making it through the senate and frivolous investigations (to keep the base nice and angry), increased legislative paralysis, the inaction and its consequences shamelessly blamed on Obama.

I can't wait!

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Simple Answers to Simple Stupid Questions

Bill Maher, upon discovering that the most popular baby name in the U.K was Mohammed: Am I a racist to feel I'm alarmed by that? Because I am.

Not necessarily, Mr. Maher but that's classic bigotry right there.

Friday, 29 October 2010

Oppression and Respect

A great post by Ta-Nehisi Coates reminds me that while Malcolm X may have been admirably humble in turning his critical gaze inward, he did not rethink his positions on gender. Sad.

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

The Very Model of a Modern U.S. President (cont.)

I just have to shake my head at this ish.

Thursday, 21 October 2010

The Very Model of a Modern U.S. President

An impressive spoof of Obama. I almost forgot my beef with the drone strikes, and the fucking with civil liberties thing (don't even get me started on the current U.K government!) 

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

From Sociological Images

an interesting video and post on gender non-conformity in one family. I couldn't help thinking how fortunate the young boy in the video was for having a relatively safe space to express himself, and the debate over Morehouse College's decision to restrict that kind of space.

A Rethink

The first Bioshock game was OK but I got a little bored with the gameplay so I swore off the sequel. After seeing this review of a (quelle surprise) well-done African American character I might just give Bioshock 2 a look:
As I read it, Grace becomes a symbol for the desire not to see African Americans succeed and create their own lives, families, and spread as do others. Despite her barrenness, despite her lover being taken from her forcibly, she is given hope, however. It is not hard to see why she would warm to Dr. Lamb, a white woman who believes in the greater good, regardless of race or class. Even though Lamb ends up the antagonist, she is still seen as human despite her hatred towards you. She is not a ‘great evil.’ She and Grace are humans, with concerns, lives, and stories of their own. They also become symbols of their plight, and ideology in the case of Lamb, through their lives.

Sunday, 17 October 2010

ATL Georgia

Back from a ten-day trip to Atlanta, Georgia. I'm one of those fellows who tries to take pleasure in both the journey and the final destination - the Flying Takeshi Monster knows that this effort is especially needed when the journey is 15+ hours. So, some highlights:

  • The aerial view of Miami.
  • The Chicago skyline at dawn.
  • The way that sunlight would transform rivers and lakes into molten gold. 
  • The unbelievably vast expanse of Lake Michigan.
  • Flying through the clouds over London in the moonlight.
I stayed with a close friend in a pleasant little neighbourhood of Atlanta close to Emory University. A friend of mine described Emory's campus as "very beautiful in and Abercrombie and Fitch sort of way". Indeed, these sons of bachateros have the kind of money that would make the vice-chancellor of my old alma mater green with envy. Each building I saw around one lawn, sat there like a huge white and pink marble "fuck you" to the rich neighbours of a poor man who has a sudden windfall.

I also took the opportunity to check out the Martin Luther King Jr. Centre. It was pretty cool if not a little overcommercialised and underwhelming. Visiting his natal home was much more interesting. I had the good fortune to visit on the 30th anniversary of the opening of the centre, so there was a little festival on the street in Atlanta where his natal home is located. There was a street festival a few blocks over filled to bursting with black humanity, and I ate at a soul food restaurant. Chicken, stuffing, gravy, hush-puppies, collard greens and baby lima beans. It was good, but that ish will kill you!

Thursday, 14 October 2010


I've been away for a while on a holiday (of sorts) to Atlanta - more on that in later posts- so I've been trying my best to avoid the daily reads and the ensuing desire to give forth on them, but alas...

A few days after my arrival I noticed, quite by accident, an op-ed in the New York Times by John Edgar Wideman. The article details Wideman's experiences on the train between his home in New York City and his workplace in Providence:
Over the last four years, excluding summers, I have conducted a casual sociological experiment in which I am both participant and observer. It’s a survey I began not because I had some specific point to prove by gathering data to support it, but because I couldn’t avoid becoming aware of an obvious, disquieting truth.

Almost invariably, after I have hustled aboard early and occupied one half of a vacant double seat in the usually crowded quiet car, the empty place next to me will remain empty for the entire trip.
I’m a man of color, one of the few on the train and often the only one in the quiet car, and I’ve concluded that color explains a lot about my experience. Unless the car is nearly full, color will determine, even if it doesn’t exactly clarify, why 9 times out of 10 people will shun a free seat if it means sitting beside me.
The account was so similar to experiences I've had, and those of some of my acquaintances of colour, as to be banal. In hindsight, perhaps it would be nice if some readers became more mindful of their behaviour. Anyway, it wasn't saying anything I didn't already know so I didn't really pay the article any mind. I was therefore, rather taken aback by John McWorther's response.

It really is a thing of beauty.

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

It's Funny

... I was revisiting a post my mate Loco had done on his blog where he talked about his admiration for Malcolm X, I then check out Ta-Nehisi Coates' blog and see a post on -you guessed it- Malcolm X. I urge you to check out Loco's series on race, of which his latest post is a part. Also, the discussion at Coates' place on the Malcolm X post is top notch. There isn't much I can add to it, except to say that I get the sense that as a historical figure Malcolm X really isn't given his due. The man was wrong about many things, but I found his calling America out on it's failure to live up to it's own ideals to be totally on point. It was the way he delivered his criticism, with passion, humour and wit, and the way he turned his critical gaze upon himself that makes me a fan.

Monday, 4 October 2010

Open Up Your Mind and Let Me Step Inside

A little while ago I had the dubious pleasure of watching Highlander, and I am ashamed to say that I had kind of forgotten just how awesome Queen are. I was thankful for the reminder:

The bass guitar at 1:27 is just the kind of dirty I like.

This next one is also great.

Two of my favourite Queen tunes, "Good Old Fashioned Lover Boy" and "Play The Game" after the jump. Enjoy.

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

More tea, anyone?

Matt Taibbi has a piece out on the Tea Party movement that is great to read. I wanted to highlight a couple of exchanges in particular:
At a Paul fundraiser in northern Kentucky, I strike up a conversation with one Lloyd Rogers, a retired judge in his 70s who is introducing the candidate at the event. The old man is dressed in a baseball cap and shirtsleeves. Personalitywise, he's what you might call a pistol; one of the first things he says to me is that people are always telling him to keep his mouth shut, but he just can't. I ask him what he thinks about Paul's position on the Civil Rights Act.
"Well, hell, if it's your restaurant, you're putting up the money, you should be able to do what you want," says Rogers. "I tell you, every time he says something like that, in Kentucky he goes up 20 points in the polls. With Kentucky voters, it's not a problem."
In Lexington, I pose the same question to Mica Sims, a local Tea Party organizer. "You as a private-property owner have the right to refuse service for whatever reason you feel will better your business," she says, comparing the Civil Rights Act to onerous anti-smoking laws. "If you're for small government, you're for small government."
You look into the eyes of these people when you talk to them and they genuinely don't see what the problem is. It's no use explaining that while nobody likes the idea of having to get the government to tell restaurant owners how to act, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was the tool Americans were forced to use to end a monstrous system of apartheid that for 100 years was the shame of the entire Western world. But all that history is not real to Tea Partiers; what's real to them is the implication in your question that they're racists, and to them that is the outrage, and it's an outrage that binds them together. They want desperately to believe in the one-size-fits-all, no-government theology of Rand Paul because it's so easy to understand. At times, their desire to withdraw from the brutally complex global economic system that is an irrevocable fact of our modern life and get back to a simpler world that no longer exists is so intense, it breaks your heart.
I had a house mate at one time with whom I had a rather heated discussion about  the role of government, and the Civil Rights Act came up. What really got to me was how fired up he was about the rights of business owners rather than the denial of human dignity to a whole swathe of the US population that made such a law necessary. I'm loathe to think that what makes me describe myself as a "Dirty Fucking Hippy" as rather than a Conservative or a Libertarian is a concern for the less powerful, as well as the history and structures that have shaped present inequalities, but these days I get little in the way of disconfirming evidence.

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Taxonomy Of Rap Names

I was bumming around on the intertrons, when I found this. As you may already know, I'm a sucker for this kind of representation of data.

... Look at all the pretty colours.

Thursday, 16 September 2010


Another day, another weird dream. This time I was walking along a wet tarmac path at night time. I could tell because of the way the light came off of the path. It reminded me of the path through the little field in my college town that I would walk through on my way to my ex’s house. The sky was clear and the air was fresh and cool, like just after rain. The most striking thing about this dream was just how vivid it was. Everything felt so real, the breeze, the sound of my footsteps, everything. That was until the stars started exploding.

The first explosion caught me by surprise. I couldn’t believe what I’d just seen, but the material from the star, spread out in a doughnut shape like a firework, confirmed what had happened. Then another star went off, and another, and I was suddenly filled with the urge to get closer.

I jumped, higher than humanly possible. I tried to fly but I could only muster a kind of double jump that left me hanging in the air after I had finished accelerating skywards, then falling slowly to the ground. No idea what it meant, but it's better than getting shot in the head by a classmate.

Monday, 13 September 2010

A Western Disease

Over at Ta-Nehisi coates' blog I listened to an NPR interview with Jeff Sharlet about David Bahati (below), the author of Uganda's bill to eradicate gay people homosexuality. I found Sharlet's account of Bahati chilling, and the apparent cynicism of Museveni maddening.

Like Coates, I was touched by the notion that homosexuality is alien to authentic African societies.To my shame, I actually used to accept such nonsense as fact. Growing up I would encounter messaging, both subtle and not so subtle, that asserted the inherent superiority of white people and European culture. It was like the very air I had to breath. It still is to tell the truth, but that's for another post.

Thinking back on it, I realise I believed such a myth because it was was a way to attack the supposed superiority of whites and European societies in all things. The idea that homosexuality is disgusting and unnatural, used to argue that any culture that "produces" gay people is inherently flawed. Et voila. An instant salve the mitigate the smearing of a continent.

Man, the dumb things I believed.

At the age of 14 I'm chasing some guy who coded quite feminine around the playground shouting "battyman!" At 22 I'm getting hit on by gay men, and I don't care. Hell, it's nice to feel attractive, and in Japan I can't say I felt that way very often.

If you were to ask me how I changed I think the biggest thing is my curiosity. I love to know. It's how I came across data that destroyed a lot of the things I thought I knew. Like, "Cleopatra was Greek?!" The truth can mess you up like the blood of Glaurung. It's how I lost my religion. And losing my religion was a huge blow to my homophobia.

People who met me after university, tend to think I'm joking when I say that I was a soldier for Christ. I used to go to this huge evangelical church in London called the Kingsway International Christian Centre with my uncle and his adopted kids, and lift up my voice, and my hands, to the Lord. I kid you not.

At the same time, I couldn't shake the feeling that there was something a little off with basis of my beliefs. My questions were not encouraged, and doubt turned to outright mistrust. When I gave up on religion (sorry Lord, not enough evidence) I no longer had any obligation to view homosexuality as wrong, and the more I learned about human sexuality the less I cared about what sex a person was attracted to.

(Check out my previous post on the anti-gay bill here.)

Monday, 6 September 2010

Little People

"I'm hairy because my dad was really hairy!" my niece asserted. And believe you me, my niece asserts with aplomb. It was like as I was hearing her I watched a medal winning high-dive in my mind's eye.

After regaling me with the difference between a mono/uni-brow and an omni brow*, she put her face to the living room mirror and scrunched up her face - to better reveal the nose hairs she had begun to fret over, I later learned.

"Do you have a tail-comb?"


She ran off to my mum's room and came back with one, then began to style her eyebrows. The most interesting of these was when she combed them up into the shape of a Vulcan's eybrows, like from Startrek.

Yes, I am a bad uncle. I express mild wonder at the beauty of my niece and nephew's burgeoning personalities. I've been away chasing that paper. So I've ended up missing out on siginificant periods of my niece and nephew's growing up. The last time I spent any significant amount of time with them, they weren't in the habit of describing their feelings or opinions in detail or as arguments. Now, as they engage me in discussion  I sometimes think to myself, "My goodness!"

As I looked at my niece scrunching up her face in the mirror, I began to imagine the woman that she would become. I began to wonder about the feelings she might have about her body, and how they could change as she develops. It made me feel some kind of way.

*A mono/uni-brow travels across the brow in a straight line, an omni-brow takes a dip between the eyes. Apparently.

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Whatever, man. I laughed

H/T Andrew Sullivan's blog at the Atlantic

Monday, 30 August 2010

Nwoke'm e jighi beke awa oji

Kilamanjaro! Just got back from an outing with mumsy. A friend of hers had a christening and party for her grandchild. I haven't been in a room with that many Nigerians in a long long time!

My mum's friend is an interesting lady. She's from a place in Nigeria called Arochukwu very close to my mother's own hometown, and the former capital of an old political alliance called the Aro Confederacy. My mother's people, my people, were part of this alliance and fought the British at the turn of the twentieth century.

My feelings on the British expedition into Igboland are captured beautifully by Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart if you haven't read it yet, do so. It really is a wonderful piece of work. I was sympathetic to the protagonists' way of life, but Achebe would point out the ways in which change, at least from a contemporary perspective, improved the lot of the society's most vulnerable.

The Aro Confederacy achieved economic hegemony mainly via its control of the regional slave trade. So while I feel some kind of way about the British colonisation of Nigeria, I can't really say I'm sorry that the alliance is no more.

Friday, 27 August 2010


I woke up with a nasty headache this morning. I dreamed that I got shot in the head, right above my right eyebrow. It was quite funny not quite being able to comprehend why I still lived, blood, fluids and brain matter running down my face while I dialed 911 for the ambulance and worried about how I was going to cover the ridiculous cost of treating my injury.

The person who shot me was a young lady I knew from secondary school called Emily. My peers judged her because they considered it a bad thing for a girl to enjoy frequent sex, especially frequent sex with guys other than themselves. I went right ahead and judged her too.

I have no idea what she was doing in my head. This is the first time I've thought about her in ages. I remember very little of her. In fact the only memory I have of her is when she was being teased about having sex with me. We hadn't. Back then being linked to me in any way was just the worst thing that could happen to a girl. And they would do whatever it took to avoid the merest hint that they viewed me as anything but repulsive. 

I remember one time when one of my classmates, Khalil, was calling me ugly amongst other things, which I vociferously denied. In frustration he appealed to Angie, a relatively popular girl, to adjudicate: "which one of us is better looking, me or him?"

It was obvious that she found me more attractive, she looked into my eyes pleading for me to understand what she was about to do. The dictates of classroom hierarchy meant that her status was forfeit if she challenged the orthodoxy. She said Khalil was more attractive as if she were apologising for stealing from her mother's purse.

Poor Emily had the misfortune of arriving a little late at our home room at the same time as yours truly. Obviously we had been going at it hammer and tongs, because everybody knew that Emily likes to have sex. "How was his dick?", Ram asked her.

"Very. Very. Small."

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

It was only a matter of time...

I'm sure by now you've heard of Chatroulette. It's basically a site where you randomly video chat with strangers. If, like me, you are aware of all internet traditions, you'd know it goes without saying that that kind  of site just has to have plenty of men looking for some action. Not that there's anything wrong with that. However, it was only a matter of time before someone decided to mess with them.


Gotta say, I laughed. Is it harmless, or is does it reflect some kind of sexual shaming of young men?

How pathetic? This pathetic

Lately I've been playing a pretty old video game called Star Wars: Knights of The Old Republic. Now I'm sure by now some of your alarm bells are going off. The words video game and Star Wars are in the same sentence, and not being used negatively. Stick around, it gets worse.

The plot is a classic fish out of water story. You are thrust into the game as a crew member of a ship under attack and end up having the fate of the galaxy on your shoulders. One of the main plot arcs is the development of the relationship between the main protagonist, you, and a Jedi called Bastila. Depending on how you play the game you can end up with a whole confession of love after the penultimate battle. At one point Bastila says something like, "I can't think of anything better than to be loved by you". And dephlogisticate a man if I wasn't all touched, and identifying with the characters*, and suddenly desiring to hold my ex in my arms and wanting to hear those words.

But I won't hear those words, and I'm finding it really hard to be ok with that. At least 100 percent of the time. The times that I'm not ok with it can be so damned unbearable I wish to tear my heart out, that I may not feel.

* The development of Jolee's character was very well done. All in all it's a pretty good game.

A New Beginning...

Or "Do Not Trust to Hope, It Has Forsaken These Lands."

Goodness gracious me! It's been hard to believe that I've been away from this place for a good five months. As I mentioned a little while ago, I've been struggling with thoughts that I really haven't anything to write that anyone would want to read, or would not be expressed with much more skill elsewhere. I also got it into my head that writing would distract me from the essential task of looking for a job. This blog was originally conceived of as a way of keeping people in the know about the interesting work I was doing in Japan, and it sort of evolved into a spot for some amateur political commentary, mixed in with some posts that revealed my nerd status.

I've been thinking lately that I need an outlet for my thoughts, forget worrying if they're serious enough. So I think that I'm going to excise the poor attempts at applying my professional training and get more personal. I have a new spot for the more politically oriented stuff, but I'm sure the two will occasionally overlap.

Now maybe I'm all energised and ready to post again because I'm in a kind of manic stage, where the loss and mourning and crisis feel distant and I am once again confident in my abilities to elicit woos and yays from the people I interact with. 

I'll hedge and say that my posting will be intermittent. I'm on a motivation rollercoaster these days.

For the longest time I just been way unmotivated to put my fingers to the keyboard to hammer out anything but a cover letter. And believe me, some days I don't feel very much like typing those either. So it is slightly amusing that I'm coming back to my spot now, because it could be argued that I'm actually in a worse place than I was in March.

In March I had a gig, a modest evaluation of some peacebuilding training, and I was in a relationship. I now have neither. The loss of the latter has been pretty hard to take. I wasn't able to find a long(er)-term job in the States and had to leave. Not knowing when we'd ever be able to be in proximity again, a break-up was pretty much inevitable. Trés くやしい.

Yep. Since my return to mumsy's place I've been pretty miserable and pathetic some days.

Anyway, whichever of my vanity projects you peruse (both would be nice), I hope you'll find the content interesting and meaningful.

Sunday, 7 March 2010


I always loved the soft hiss of "defenders" that followed the titular phrase.

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

But, I thought you loved your country

Liz Cheney's group, Keep America Safe,  has released an ad questioning the loyalty of US Justice Department lawyers who advocated for terrorism suspects detained by the Bush administration.

Never mind that in the U.S everyone is supposed to entitled to legal representation. Even people alleged to have commited acts of terrorism. That's right, alleged. A key principle of the US justice system is that the government presents evidence that demonstrates the guilt of the accused. The quality of that evidence must be tested, ergo the requirement for a good legal defense. It isn't about "sharing the values" of the accused, or condoning the crime for which your client has been accused, It's about the very integrity of the justice system.

Jaysis wept.

Monday, 1 March 2010

Conflict in the South Atlantic

Great Britain, Argentina, and the Falkland/Malvinas Islands: The saga continues.

Geological surveys have indicated a possible motherlode of oil in the vicinity of the Islands that could make Falklanders very rich indeed. Inevitably the The U.K awarded licenses for oil exploration, and the Argentine government are not happy bunnies.

It's a complex emotive issue. One that's has been unresolved since James Onslow evicted pre-Argentine settlers from the islands in the 1830's. The Argentines have been continuously frustrated in their attempts to negotiate a settlement, and it must kill the Kirchner administration -who apparently made recovery of the islands a part of their platform- that the British could be in for a bonanza, of what they must see as filthy lucre gained by robbing Argentina.

My feeling is that the Argentine government needs to feel that they're respected, and their interests treated as legitimate enough for discussion. Given the history of the dispute I'm more than a little sympathetic to this position. But in order to counter this kind of emotional appeal, the British are likely to impute Argentine calls for serious negotiations to the possible revenues involved. Unless the Argentine government is able to seriously disrupt surveying/extraction operations, I don't see the British government becoming more open to changing its policies any time soon.

Sunday, 28 February 2010

Discussions in Black History Month: On being the "bigger person"

I was bullied from about my 4th year in primary school until my last year in secondary school. Mostly I was just ostracized, but there were times when it got physical. It got so bad at one point that I had to spend my lunch-hours in a classroom to prevent the fights from starting. 

Friday, 26 February 2010

Discussions in Black History Month: Do we need a Black Agenda?

A fellow named Tavis Smiley is looking to hold Obama and numerous other black elites' feet to the fire for not pushing for a black agenda. LINK

As far as responses go, I can't really do better than Ta-Nehisi Coates. He writes:

I don't know what a "black agenda" is. I can think of very few policies which I would say are good for black people, but aren't good for most of America. I think Tavis would agree. (His site says "a black agenda is an American agenda." But that only raises another question: why would we calling it (sic) a "black agenda?" Surely changing the way we approach incarceration would help black men, but were there no black men in this country, we still would do well to think about how we incarcerate people.

I'm at a loss to see what we gain by simplistically racializing problems that may well have a racial component, but aren't wholly, and in many cases even mainly, racial problems. To be clear that component should be called out. But it seems you implicitly alienate allies when you claim that broad problems are the property of specific communities.

Moreover, you do the work of your adversaries. Nothing would please them more than for America to think of incarceration as a "black problem" to be addressed by a "black agenda." People hear "black issue" and they feel relieved--"Oh well, it ain't my problem." Except that it is. And we should make them aware that it is.
Yes, it definitely strikes me as poor strategy. Similar to my point in this post you're more likely to achieve your policy goals if you align the interests of a broad coalition, or at the very least do not mobilise significant opposition.  Emotionally it can be a tough sell, for example my girl N said "Why do we have to be the bigger people?" "Why isn't it enough to just talk about American history and outline the legitimate reasons for policies that benefit black people? Why can't we point to past wrongs and say that we are working for policies of corrective justice?"

Again, I get it. Doing things like avoiding the word "welfare" is not a direct challenge to the prejudiced thinking that changes the meaning of "welfare" to something like "taking money from hard working whites and giving it to shiftless blacks". However I would argue that if the goal is policy that benefits ordinary black people, being mindful of the biases, fears and interests of potential opponents and acting accordingly is not weakness.

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Discussions in Black History Month: Sex and Community

It's a bit late in the day really considering that Black History Month is almost over, but I've had a few thoughts on themes of social justice, and community development that I might want to get out of my head and onto the blog in the next week or so.

My first post in this vein touches on the consistently emotive subject of interracial dating. I've a particular antipathy to the arguments used to cast aspersions on the authenticity of those who profess a desire to see black people succeed and their respective black communities develop, while having a non-black partner. While there are a few variations, the underlying premise is that a non-black partner is a sign of a lack of self-love or love for the black community. If one were really desirous of black success, one would select a black partner.

Saturday, 13 February 2010

It's been a while

I've been putting my blogging on the back burner for a while. This has been for a number of reasons, mainly emotional. My relationship with blogging is a little strange. I write, but I occasionally look at blogging negatively. My feeling is that to blog, one must have the belief that what one has to say is interesting enough for other people to take the time to read. I've always had a hard time believing this of myself. I thought that I wanted to write a novel, but then I read books like The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri, and The Brief Wonderous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz and decided I had nothing to say that they had not said already, and in an immeasurably superior fashion. Researching, analysing and writing is a lot of work, and lately I've not been inclined to do any work that doesn't help me pay my bills or look like it will lead to an opportunity to do so.

Saturday, 23 January 2010


It looks as though Hamas is trying to go straight, according to this story from The Jerusalem Post. A hopeful gesture, but I remain incredulous.

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

MLK quotes

Jay Smooth reads out some beautiful lines from Martin Luther King Jr.

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

You use that word...

I've been more than a little bothered by the language of some of the Haiti coverage.

The Atlantic Wire rounds up some of the pushback.

I really do despair at the frames often adopted to view the poor. Just look at this story from CNN. By all appearances patients, some in critical condition, were abandoned by the people charged with their care. I'm really trying not to judge here because I don't know the whole story, and I wasn't there and subject to the same situation. 

But really? The slightest hint of unrest and they're out?


How are you supposed to be of any use in assisting people if you're so scared of them?

Friday, 15 January 2010


The people have persevered through slavery, debt, natural disasters, and the betrayal of their leaders. In contrast I fear that the state no longer exists.

Short of the governments of rich countries coming together to provide funds for social services, and sending personnel to help administer the country, I'm extremely pessismistic about the long-term future that awaits the survivors.


Matt Yglesias has given me something to mull over:

If I were the government of Japan and people were offering to lend me money for ten years at a 1.4 percent interest rate, I wouldn’t be thinking about austerity, I’d be thinking about what useful investments could I make to seize advantage of this attractive opportunity.
I would tentatively argue that a case can be made for increased immigration as a useful investment. Would the costs (i.e. social services, the right-wing screaming Easter Sunday) outweigh the benefits? I would love to see some real policy analysis on the subject.

I would love to have a crack at an analysis myself *nudge nudge, wink wink*


I'll get my coat.

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Japan: Robot Nation

Interesting vid on possible solutions to Japan's demographic crisis.

In my humble opinion Professor Ono is quite wrong about mechanisation and internal migration as solutions to Japan's labour issues. The internal migration solution to the work shortage has already been played out; Japan's major cities continue to draw young people from the countryside, with deleterious effects on local economies. It is also hard to see how robots could realistically pick up the slack, or most importantly provide the revenues needed to fund social services for the elderly, and finance debt payments.

Moreover, I was a little unhappy with the uncritical way they covered the idea that foreigners=crime. What feeds the perception? Does the perception fit the reality? Questions the report failed to ask. It as if they just wanted to get onto showing off all the cool robots.

Sunday, 10 January 2010

Remember this one?

Some sober analysis

The "climate-gate" emails have made some commentators act as though they're witnessing the fall of Barad Dûr. The creator of this video takes them to task.

H/T Crooks and Liars

Saturday, 9 January 2010

That's OUR word!

It looks as though tensions are rising in Malaysia over the use of the word "Allah" by non-Muslims. The Government had banned a Catholic newspaper from using it in its Malay language editions, however a recent court decision -which the government has appealed- deemed the ban as unconsitutional.

There are sometimes good reasons to frown upon the use of certain words by members of outside groups. You may address your partner by saying,"hey, sexy". There may be fisticuffs if I addressed your partner in the same way.

I don't think that reasons analogous to the above would hold in this case, as to my knowledge "Allah" is a term that was borrowed from Arabic by Malaysians in order to express the relatively new concept of a single deity. Apparently there are concerns that if Christian groups are allowed to use the word "Allah" they may attempt to draw people away from Islam.  This position may be a reaction by more conservative Muslim groups who believe that their interests are threatened by what they see as the encroachment of a  more secular vision of Malaysia of the kind being espoused by the coalition of opposition parties. 

Thursday, 7 January 2010

Wishing the next one would come a little quicker

Nice country you've got there...

Pity if anything were to happen to it.

Seems as though Iceland is being made an offer it can't refuse.

I'm no financial expert, and (If I have my facts straight) there is something to be said about the side effects of letting the government of Iceland pick which obligations it will honour, but I don't know how to describe the actions of the UK as anything but straight gangster.

Saturday, 2 January 2010

It's ok, you can put your raygun away

Happy new year, folks. Rachel Maddow sums up the much chagrining shenanigans that went down since the failed bombing attempt in Detroit on Christmas day. I think I may have a post or two in me about it, but I haven't written anything so far because of my feelings towards the highly problematic media/elite reaction, and my doubt that I could add anything of substance to what has already been pointed out by Maddow, and other better resourced, and far superior writers. I managed to have some fun on new year's eve, which improved my mood somewhat, so perhaps I'll change my mind.