Archive for April 15th, 2009
To abolish child labor, you need to make it visible. That is the point of this disturbing photo essay featuring lots of young children being worked hard in Bangladesh.
Post-2008-election, I felt as though our country was finally regaining consciousness. I felt hope and optimism rise and my cynicism roll back ever-so-slightly, breezes of fresh thought dispersing the haze. As my vision returned, I could once again engage in conversations that did not fizzle into frustrated non-verbal noise.
I began to see glimpses of a cultural evolution of thought through the wider population. Just glimpses, but they were there, I know it. I felt the whoosh of tired air as egos fat with imaginary power based on non-existent wealth were deflated by the reality of financial correction. I smiled as the facade of organized evangelical religion cracked under self-made storms of condescending hypocrisy. I grinned with sincere joy every time I heard new dialogue about race and culture in the wake of electing our first minority president.
All in all, I saw daily reminders that people, all of us, are truly equal underneath all the cultural trappings. Eye contact became pleasant again. The obvious human connections we share – that we all love and laugh and hurt and seethe and wonder and sigh and ache and even hate – I could see those commonalities beginning to connect us again. We argue and bicker, we debate and discuss, we learn, we teach, we manage, we create, we err and we try. We help, we care, sometimes we dismiss. We each react to information and situations from our own perspectives, wrought upon our own personalities by our own life stories. But we seemed to be listening to each other again.
I hoped anew that as a culture, we were learning that all of those life stories matter. That each one of us brings a unique self to the cultural table and that even when we strenuously disagree, we do not dismiss each other simply because of it.
Last week, a friend of mine was fired. Not a big deal, you might think, as people have been laid off in record numbers (including myself) over the past months of economic strife. Sure, a big deal for him, maybe. But, well, welcome to the masses. Except that this friend represented something we cannot afford to lose, and his firing rips further into the frayed fiber of our local democracy. Sadly, too many will dismiss the loss as no big deal – for the exact reason we so desperately needed Sylvester Brown to stay.
NASA recently held an online contest to name the new ISS module (formerly known as Node 3). After more than a million votes cast, and despite winning the popular vote, Comedy Central’s Stephen Colbert was denied his name on the module. NASA instead chose the name Tranquility.
Bill Gerstenmaier, associate administrator for Space Operations said, “Apollo 11 landed on the moon at the Sea of Tranquility 40 years ago this July. We selected ‘Tranquility’ because it ties it to exploration and the moon, and symbolizes the spirit of international cooperation embodied by the space station.”
“We don’t typically name U.S. space station hardware after living people and this is no exception,” Gerstenmaier joked. “However, NASA is naming its new space station treadmill the ‘Combined Operational Load Bearing External Resistance Treadmill,’ or COLBERT.
Colbert announced the naming live on his show yesterday evening
I saw this at the gym last night, and almost fell off the treadmill! So many opportunities for double entendres – it’s classic! Finally, something to thank our republican friends for!
Although I refuse to imagine being teabagged by the likes of Armey, Beck or Cavuto!
nuff said. Here’s the video! (© MSNBC.com, posted by ThinkProgress)
And now for a romantic interlude in the otherwise dangerous realm of Afghan social morays vis-a-vis the Taliban. A young couple whose families disapproved of their union ran off to get married. Married, mind. Not live together outside wedlock or anything so dramatic, but married. The result? They were shot outside their mosque after a tribunal of mullahs condemned them. Here is the story.
It is difficult seeing this to remember that this sort of thing is really not consistent with mainstream Islam. But, just as with certain splinter groups of so-called christian sects, the Qu’ran is continually used to justify the persecution of women.
Yes, women. Even though the young man was also killed, it is fairly clear that the main issue the Taliban and other groups like it embrace is the control of women. They bar them from school, they bar them from conversation, they bar them from public view, they bar them. All, it seems, they want from women is to be sex slaves for the males selected to possess them and anything—anything—that threatens that is condemned and, as usual, the women pay the price overwhelmingly. There are other issues covered by strict Sharia Law, but we hear little about that, probably because a lot of it is also covered by more tolerant, liberal interpretations of the law. The dividing line is over the women. It is over giving women a voice, a choice, any freedom at all to say no, and defenders of this who deny that it is a mysoginist pathology seem either to not Get It or are lacking any comprehension that women are people.
To be clear, as I stated, christian groups do this, too. Maybe they don’t kill them in the street, but that’s only because in the West, the police really will arrest them for that.
To paraphrase James Carville, “It’s all about the women, stupid.”
There is no compromising on this, as far as I’m concerned. To allow this is to make all of us a little less human.