20 January, 2010

Watch your backs...

...all of my smart compatriots! One of the courses I signed up for today is "Capitalism and Culture," so be ready to try and refute all my half-baked and sophomoric econo-political theories and opinions which I believe will be forthcoming!

At least, hopefully, I'll finally be able to keep up with some of you in conversation.

18 January, 2010

The Eyes of an Artist

I was thinking about books I wanted to read, or re-read, once I finish up Phillip Roth, and I thought about continuing my streak of Great Male Authors of the 20th Century with Saul Bellow and either Herzog or Sieze the Day. Then I suddenly thought of another Saul, one whom just the other night I happened to scroll past a picture taken with him and some friends on Facebook. Ah, Saul Williams, hip hop slam poet of the soul.

On visiting his website, I found a rather long and involved post he wrote about his recent trip to Israel and Palestine to read his poetry to a group of 1,000 or so, mostly Israeli youth. He is extremely cognizant of all the tension and troubles the American media can be expected to imbue in your average citizen, but he takes a more compassionate and creative eye to cities themselves. He describes his brief visit beautifully here on his website. Hopefully that link takes you to his "Thoughts" page, where it may still be the first post you see.

It is heartening to me, to read about the peaceful protests of the Palestinian people near Tel Aviv, and their strong desire for a single nation of Muslim and Jew living side by side. The reality of their situation is equally as depressing, though; angering and daunting in equal measure.

13 January, 2010

The tragedy of Haiti

I'm sure you've all heard the news of the devastating 7.0 earthquake that struck just outside of Haiti's sprawling capital yesterday. Casualties will likely be extremely high, given the lack of almost all basic infrastructure and social services, and given the architecturally tenuous position of most of Port-au-Prince's slums that line the city's steep hills. Haiti is about as dysfunctional a place as exists in the world (save perhaps Somalia...) and what little progress it scrapes together day after day is usually washed away or knocked down by tropical storms, riots, or, now, earthquakes.

But the tragedy of yesterday's quake is that, unrecognized by many, Haiti has been making rather enormous strides since the election of the Preval government in 2006 ushered in the the longest period of political stability and legitimacy that the island had seen in nearly a century. At the same time, an increasingly funded and manned UN stabilization mission charged with a broader development and security mandate was making slow but concrete progress towards disarming irregular militias, building an a-political police force, army, and civil service. Yglesias has more on this.

But I think the real tragedy would be if we decided that Haiti is to be forever doomed. It has shown that progress can be made. As much as our efforts have improved, they are still far below what a powerful neighbor like the US can and should do. Here are some ways to help.

09 January, 2010

The Ultimate in Nominative Determinism

Just found this purusing the Times Online. Not much of a link, but it led me to a pretty funny abstract of the work. Higgy, it's a good thing you didn't pursue that career in professional water polo!