Sunday, January 30, 2011

I'm going to Peru, to climb Machu Pichu in a month!

(actually this video has nothing to do with Peru besides being in Spanish and evoking a tropical climate, but you get the idea).

Monday, January 24, 2011

2004, Response to Rumsfeld

In reading Greg Grandin's excellent history of the 1980s proxy wars waged by President Ronald Reagan in Central America, entitled Empire's Workshop: Latin America, the United States, and the New Imperialism, Grandin notes an Ecuadorean general's response to Donald Rumsfeld's insistence that Latin America begin to "consolidate control" by way of the United States of potential terrorist, drug-trafficking, and guerilla threats,

"'In Latin America,' Vargas retorted, 'there are no terrorists--only hunger and unemployment and deliquents who turn to crime. What are we going to do, hit you with a banana?'"

Sunday, January 23, 2011

2010 Review Part 2

Promising elements of 2010:

1) After a discussion with Robert Perkinson, author of Texas Tough: The Rise of American's Prison Empire and associate professor at University of Hawaii, I had all but given up on the possibility of the emergence of prisoner led movements at all given 2 facts he shared: 1) the capacity of prisons to warehouse people and also use solitary confinement as a means of quelling prisoner dissent, was highly effective, and; 2) and Bill Clinton's reduction of requisite journalist/scholarly monitoring of prisoner conditions (as well as suspending all prisoner led reform cases) make the system almost opaque to reform-minded folk and the general public. Even as tougher laws continue to dispossess prisoners of basic citizenship rights and more and more adult American's (over 10%) are currently serving time, it would seem that even momentary fulminations of resistance should arise somewhere.

A recent prisoner strike in Georgia suggests a different picture that was both organized and peaceful. From Final Call:

Fed up with bad food, unjust treatment, poor education and inadequate health care, thousands of inmates in Georgia's prison system staged “Lockdown for Liberty,” a peaceful protest on Dec. 9, according to activists.

The Black, White, and Latino inmates from Augusta, Baldwin, Hancock, Hays, Macon, Smith, and Telfair State Prisons refused to leave their cells for work and other activities, partly because they feel the Georgia Department of Corrections treats them like slaves, according to supporters who are not jailed.

“I'm talking to these brothers every day, every other minute really, and particularly in Macon, Telfair, Hays and Smith, their decision is they're not going to stop this strike now. One brother told me, ‘We will ride until the wheels fall off,' and that's been the sentiment amongst the men when they started this,” said Elaine Brown, a spokesperson for the strike.

More specifically, the inmates are demanding: a living wage for work, opportunities for higher education, better health care without excessive fees, and an end to cruel and unusual punishment for minor infractions.

They also want more fruits and vegetables, more vocational training, an end to some restrictions on family access, and an end to excessive telephone charges and just parole decisions.

“Part of our purpose for doing this is that Georgia is the only state that does not pay it's inmates at all. Some guys in here work seven days a week and they don't get a dime,” said Dondito, one of the strikers, who requested anonymity.

He said despite reports by the Department of Corrections that no inmates have been hurt, several in Augusta have been beaten up to unrecognizable points, according to their families.


Ms. Brown, former chairman of the Black Panther Party, said she doesn't know how long the men are going to strike but doesn't believe they are prepared to give up after just after one or two days, despite the beatings in Augusta.

“The tactical squad went in to trash their property and give them a shake down to try and break their spirits and force them into some violent confrontation. They cut off visitation for everyone, and are really reacting very violently to what is a non-violent protest,” Ms. Brown told The Final Call.

Dondito said the prisons are doing all they can to break their spirits and the strike, like cutting off the heat and hot water, taking away recreation, feeding them cold sandwiches, and refusing to wash their clothes.

He said strikers intend to stand for as long as it takes to force a change in horrible living conditions, which include being beaten when taken to or in solitary confinement and receiving bad food.

2) Wikileaks continues to churn out important diplomatic leaks, as well as business/banking leaks, despite Amazon and Paypal's decisions to bump the site from their server and from accepting funds in the name of the organization.

Some Worsts:

1) The failure of the DREAM Act. Let's be clear U.S. policy toward Latino, particularly Mexican, illegal immigrants has been an exchange of the promise of citizenship for status as cannon-fodder for various U.S. wars. This lead to some positive outcomes after WWII for example where veterans of the Mexican-American and Puerto Rican persuasion becamed disillusioned about their chances in already racially/ethnically stratified societies and in many cases this produced some radicalization, beyond assimilation. The Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act, offered a disenfranchised, subordinate, and racialized underclass the same opportunity, with the added possibility of citizenship through college graduation. On the one hand the cannon-fodder element consistently suggests the value for racialized and immigrant lives and its consistent application suggests a continued devaluation of non-white, non-"native" citizenry. That said, the act's failure by five votes also leaves many who immigrated the United States as children without a path to citizenship and enfranchisment; producing an underclass much like the "sans-papiers" of France who remain unintegrated into the nation for generations.

2) Break-ups from long-term relationships can thrust your life into a series of deeply self-engrossed bouts of confusion and self-loathing. Avoid them (or prolonging them), when possible.

3) Haiti, 1 year later, according to community activist Jordan Flaherty:


Haitian poet and human rights lawyer Ezili Dantò has written, "Haiti's poverty began with a US/Euro trade embargo after its independence, continued with the Independence Debt to France and ecclesiastical and financial colonialism. Moreover, in more recent times, the uses of US foreign aid, as administered through USAID in Haiti, basically serves to fuel conflicts and covertly promote US corporate interests to the detriment of democracy and Haitian health, liberty, sovereignty, social justice and political freedoms. USAID projects have been at the frontlines of orchestrating undemocratic behavior, bringing underdevelopment, coup d'etat, impunity of the Haitian Oligarchy, indefinite incarceration of dissenters, and destroying Haiti's food sovereignty essentially promoting famine."

4) Arizona's racist new laws were co-written by the prison industry.

Favorite new vegetarian and vegan recipe:

Chickpea/Seitan Cutlets, at PostPunk Kitchen. For those of you who are like me, and have been vegetarians for most of your lives the possibility of new alternatives to meat, are always welcome. This particular recipe combines ground chickpeas, various spices,, bread crumbs, with vital wheat gluten to produce some tasty fried alternatives to steaks.

Favorite new find, that is already not that new in really any sense:

Pissed Jeans, combining hardcore with noise rock in the vein of Jesus Lizard:

Favorite new accessory, that redudantly fills a need (although it's smaller):

The Scout Pack, by Duluth.

Favorite viral video of 2010:

Favorite DIY Porn Auteur:

Despite my general distaste for the world of twink, The Black Spark represents rather well shot and interesting, but also incredibly hot short films for x-tube, including actual filtering in lenses, play with color, and skilled use of handheld cameras.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

2010 Review Part 1

One of my graduate school friends labelled the 2009-2010 complex as "one of the worst years of our lives." So, because I haven't posted in sometime, and want to find some positives from this year, I will do my best to keep some positives in mind as I proceed, to compile some bests.

Best Tracks of 2010, for me:

Kanye has always been an interesting producer, but here he's becoming a much better songwriter. Also Nicki Minaj's portion of the track makes it to my mind. The psychotic killer vs. the profit motivated gangster cold blooded killer I think is an interesting variation for pop-hip hop

Justin Pearson's musical career shaped my personal aesthetic and sensibility probably more than it should have in the last few years of the 20th and the first few years of the 21st centuries. That said, this turn toward the more danceable and slightly more gay in these two tracks is just what the doctor order (although the quasi-hawk not so much):

I already posted this, but I love British lesbian art music.

Not really one for the ages, but a motivator for right at the end of the semester:

A like songs that occasionally make you feel like your life will or should be over in whatever way. Here is one the years most important with a stunning queer video (sometimes verges on a parody of itself I'll admit. As in, why are those women playing tennis with a liver?):

Kylesa, I will always love Male/female dueling vocals. Spiral Shadow is a fantastic new album:

The lyrics are trite and the video is a little overblown, but I really love this track, and Kelis' lesbic style here:

Best Continuing/ Resurgent Musical Trend:


Brontez Purnell of, being a black gay man of note in the San Francisco punk scene has his own band:

Homo Black Flag cover band with appropriate American Modeling Guild Video: recommended this to me and they were absolutely correct:

First Book Review Published

My first publication is here, at Reviews in Cultural Theory, a new online journal.