Thursday, April 5, 2012

Animal Genocide? How about "No".

This headline appeared on my Google Reader update: "Michigan Engaging in True 'Animal Genocide'." The byline reads, "The state of Michigan is only days away from engaging in what can only be called true “animal genocide” — the mass murder of ranch animals based on the color of their hair."

1) This act can not "only be called true 'animal genocide'" because 'animal genocide' does not exist. With the 18th anniversary of the (start of) Rwandan Genocide happening tomorrow, I feel it necessary to point out that genocide is an act committed by humans against humans. I also feel it is ridiculous that such a distinction needs to be made but the term "genocide" has been so conflated by media and pop culture that any instance of mass destruction can be labeled as genocide. This is not so.

2) "Mass murder of ranch animals based on the color of their hair." Way to evoke eugenics. I am sure victims of genocide and their families appreciate knowing their plight is/was comparable to that of pigs.

3) The story is actually about the plight of local/ small farmers who raise heritage-breed pigs and the possibility that these small farmers (ranchers) are being targeted because they are in competition with large-scale farms/ranches. That is a serious scenario and while the state of Michigan may claim otherwise, I am sure the livestock industry has a hand in this. But is it necessary to the inflame passions by glibly throwing "genocide" around? Because then the whole point of the story and the issue at hand is lost with notions of, "The state of Michigan is committing genocide? What the fuck!" rather than, "The state of Michigan is targeting small farmers? Those fuckers!"

4) Finally, let me say I do not agree with widespread slaughter of animals. It's horrible and, at times, possibly even tragic. But it is not genocide.

Still in shock that such a distinction needs to be made.

Monday, October 17, 2011

So, Rush Limbaugh Supports the Lord's Resistance Army

In a spectacular example of supreme dicketry, Rush Limbaugh openly criticized Obama's decision to send 100 troops to Uganda as support for the continued hunt for Joseph Kony, leader of the Lord's Resistance Army. Rush believes that the LRA are Christians fighting Muslims in Sudan, fighting to end the oppression of Ugandans and of gross violations of human rights - the LRA's "objectives", which naturally should be taken at face value. At the end of the transcript someone apparently informed Rush that the LRA is accused of "really bad stuff", such as child kidnapping, torture and murder, but all Rush knows is that "we got a hundred troops being sent over there to fight these guys -- and they claim to be Christians."

FYI, the official name of North Korea is the Democratic People's Republic of North Korea, but that doesn't mean the country is democratic. Same goes for the Lord's Resistance Army, which has terrorized northern Uganda for over 20 years. Attacks there have diminished, but only because the LRA has moved to the CAR and eastern DRC, with massacres happening there despite the presence of the largest humanitarian force on the world (MONUC). I don't know yet how to feel about 100 US troops in Uganda to help the search for Kony - it hasn't worked before and is likely that Kony isn't in Uganda, where the majority view is he should be granted amnesty so the whole ordeal can be dealt with locally, without the ICC - but I do know how I feel about hateful ignorance.

Maybe try Google next time, Rush, before you shit out of your mouth again.

Friday, October 14, 2011

The Ides of March - another Hollywood Masturbation Opus

Though I had seen no previews or read anything about the film, last night I watched The Ides of March based on the suggestion of a friend. I was told it was somehow about presidential elections or something and, after seeing it, the "or something" is the description which best fits. 

Time: Democratic Primaries in March (the ides of March, get it?)
Place: Ohio. 
Characters: 
George Clooney as Gov. Morris, the top contender for the ticket, a man with a vision he actually believes in and refuses to compromise on. "I said I wouldn't make compromises like that and I mean it!" 
 Ryan Gosling as Stephen Meyers, Morris' press secretary, who despite being experienced with the campaign world ("I've been involved with more campaigns than people who are 40!") has swallowed Morris' Kool-Aid and isn't sure if Morris will win, but knows he has to win.
Philip Seymour Hoffman as Paul Zara, campaign manager, a man who smokes a lot and makes seemingly deep proclamation about life and politics.
Paul Giamatti as the campaign manager for "the other guy", who also makes deep proclamations - must be part of the job.
Marisa Tomei as Ida Horowitz, a sassy, cynical reporter for the Times (I assume New York?) who will do anything in order to get the big scoop. You know she is a seasoned reporter because of her large, dark-framed glasses and messy hair. Not a clich├ęd character at all!
Oops! Almost forgot Evan Rachel Wood, who plays Molly, an intern working Morris' campaign, who, much like her Showgirls namesake, gets fucked, literally and figuratively.

Let us begin at the beginning, where thirty minutes into the movie I had to ask myself, "What is the plot of this damn thing?" Up to that point the movie revolved around snappy "in-the-know" one-liners about Washington politics (I was almost convinced that K Street is the only street in DC) and a campaign wish-list spouted by Clooney, um, Gov. Morris: abolish the death penalty; mandatory youth service, which then pays for college; pro-choice; elimination of the internal combustion engine in ten years (yes, this was actually said!); no reliance on foreign oil; and pulling ours heads out the (Saudi Arabian) sand. What reality does this movie exist in? I have no idea, but it is not K Street. Nevertheless, I felt the movie was going the of that other Hollywood masturbation great, Lions for Lambs, which was, of course, a lecture by Robert Redford. A thin plot eventually unfolds: Meyers sleeps with Molly, finds out she is pregnant from a one-night stand with the illustrious governor; she gets an abortion; she kills herself. In the meantime, Meyers meets with the enemy (Giamatti) and is subsequently fired by Zara for this betrayal. Meyers then has to maneuver himself back into the campaign. 

Monday, October 3, 2011

From Which the Slumbering Beast Awakens

Hi there. I know it's been a while since I've posted and even longer since I've posted anything substantial, but it has been a weird time for me, not to mention the 2-month nap I took to escape the summer heat. It is still a weird time - the past five years have been a weird time - but with the cooler weather that has rolled in with October, at least my nap is over. What does that mean for you?

Remember those genocide posts I wrote a year ago or so? More of those are coming. Unfortunately, there is a ever-growing supply of examples from which to choose.

Have you ever thought about the phrase "30 is the new 20"? I have been dwelling on it for the past several months and the more I think about it, the more I hate it. The topic might extend to several posts - exciting!

And the regular banalities of my life, because what is the point of writing a blog if one the topics can't be you?

For now, here are some bits from the news:

*France refuses to extradite Agathe Habyrarimana to Rwanda. Rwandan authorities seem unsurprised, as am I: Habyarimana's regime had close ties with France.

*However, the ICTR continues to churn out convictions, this time to two former civil service ministers.

*China is duplicitous when it comes to Africa; here are some details.

*The ICC has given prosecutors the go-ahead to investigate post-election violence in Cote D'Ivoire.


Monday, August 29, 2011

Summer Hibernation

Okay, so I know just a few weeks ago I posted in anger about Austinites challenging me over the weather (however, I continue to stand behind what I wrote) but I must take a few moments of your time to write about the current heat wave here in Austin.

Not that it sucks, because this is a given, but because it has turned on my hibernation mode that once only peeked out during the coldest month of winter. Currently I only go outside to get to my car or to another air-conditioned building, much like my summer life in Kuwait. When I am not at work I am at home, where recently all I want to do is sleep. Right after I publish this post I am going to have a little lie-down despite the fact I left bed only three hours ago. I want to be productive, perhaps even active, but more than anything I want a damn nap. I think the temperature is supposed to dip down into the 90s later this week. Maybe then I'll wake up from my long summer's nap and brave the 100-meter walk to the mailbox. Until then, I will pull my covers over my eyes and pretend it's 30F outside - though, at this point, I'd accept 80.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

That's So Racist! Isn't It?

David Sedaris has a new article out in the Guardian; naturally, someone is offended.

In his article, Sedaris recounts a recent trip to China, a trip he admits he did not look forward to as China, and all its wonders, never held much appeal for him. This applies especially to the food, which even Americanized Chinese restaurants barely managed to raise above the level of disgust. Fair enough - it is only necessary to love, or love experimenting with, a cuisine if you are a chef and/or food writer. David Sedaris is neither, yet Jeff Yang over at originalspin takes particular offense at the article's criticisms. How dare Sedaris criticize authentic Chinese cuisine when American Southerners (Sedaris is from North Carolina) eat things like muskrat and chitlins (emphasis from original)? And sure, there may be a saying that "Chinese will eat anything with its back to the sky", but these are Chinese sayings. It is unnecessary and venomous for a Westerner to come over and point out the obvious.

Which makes me wonder if Jeff actually read Sedaris' article. Yes, he was grossed out by much of the food merely because it was different, but at the same time questioned why he reacted the way he did. For instance, when offered a soup made of rooster intestines it was not the intestines that put him off but rather the addition of the cock's comb. Why, he asked himself, am I comfortable eating "the thing that filters out toxins but not the thing that sits on top of the head, doing nothing?" Sedaris also notes his boyfriend, Hugh, and his visceral objection to eating seahorses in China because "they are friendly and never did anyone any harm," as opposed to the vicious and ornery lamb they regularly eat back home. From here Sedaris also delves lightly in to the meat choices of Americans (and the English, I suppose), noting the preference for grazing herbivores such as cattle and sheep, yet drawing the line at horse which is eaten in some parts of Europe and, apparently, is delicious.  I admit there is little depth given to these musings on the arbitrary nature of cuisine. However, I also recognize that I am reading an article for a paper and not an essay in a book.

Friday, August 12, 2011

To Austinites re: the weather

Shut the fuck up.

No, really: I am tired of you trying to one-up me on the badassness of the heat. If you ask me how I'm handling the heat and I respond, Well, it's hot, but I lived in Kuwait and LA before this so, you know, I'm used to it, I am not trying to undersell the reality that yes, it is hot here. I am merely letting you know that Austin, and Texas, has not defeated me with the summer heat - the job market has been much more successful in murdering my hopes and dreams.

You, dear Austinite, do not have to give me reasons why here is so much worse than there. For example, me: "I lived in Kuwait before Austin, so I got used to the heat." You: "Oh . . . yeah, well, there you don't have the humidity."

Ah, how little you know, because I have swum through the air in Kuwait and Dubai and, in order to be completely honest, have experienced humidity in Maryland that far exceeds anything Austin has thrown my way. One summer, years ago, my sister and I were at a minor league baseball game and, being it was baseball, we bought cotton candy - which then proceeded to melt merely because of contact with the air. The butter-thick, humid-ass air. A few years a college friend of mine bemoaned the loss of the tomatoes in her garden: they had rotted, you see, on the vine because the humidity was so thick. That's what I consider uncomfortably humid, but I don't bother to mention this to anyone here because, again just being honest, I don't care.

I don't care that it's hot or that it's humid or that life sucks so badly for five months out of the year, because I didn't pick Austin for the weather. Hell, I don't even know what I am doing here but it is certainly not because I was faced with the reality of leaving Kuwait and thought, I just can't get enough of this desert-y feeling! I don't like it, but I don't believe you particularly enjoy it, either, considering we deal with the heat exactly the same: stay indoors with the A/C running and do not venture outside until well-past dusk.

So unless baiting me with talk about the weather will miraculously make rain fall or a cold front move in, shut the fuck up. Or I will slap you in the face with a breakfast burrito. A delicious breakfast burrito, locally made and as hot as the Texas sun: lukewarm.