Monday, November 20, 2017

Why Migrant

"I long to run back
To the warm embrace of my homeland…
I want to return to the embrace
of what is my own
Golden mangoes ripe in the garden
Heady fragrance of jackfruit in the afternoon air…
My life, my youth are held hostage
And yet I long to love.”
-Bikas Nath, "Why Migrant"

The Analog Revolution

The Analog Revolution is upon us. Hasta la victoria, siempre! You have nothing to lose but your digital chains!
The Luddites

H/T Abba

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Amsterdam Vignette

A blueberry blue morning.
Crisp and cold in fair Amsterdam.
The late-morning light warms the
autumn colors of the tree-lined canal.

The Sunday morning church bells ring
across Centraal Station.

I found a free ferry
across to
North Amsterdam.

Lost in Amsterdam autumn blossom
forests shimmering in yellow
and light green.

A fairy ferry and a double rainbow.
A stellar colored crescent
across Amsterdam's
northern visage.

Because Amsterdam.

Blueberry yumsum
all across the
sun-kissed canals.

An afternoon artist's view
of the city:
towering red brick church
with light-blue cupola spires
ringing the afternoon chimes.

The gilded red brick
Centraal Station
is refulgent
in the afternoon light
and white cloud backdrop.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Can My Children Be Friends with White People?

"As against our gauzy national hopes, I will teach my boys to have profound doubts that friendship with white people is possible. When they ask, I will teach my sons that their beautiful hue is a fault line. Spare me platitudes of how we are all the same on the inside. I first have to keep my boys safe, and so I will teach them before the world shows them this particular brand of rending, violent, often fatal betrayal.

Let me assure you that my heartbreak dwarfs my anger. I grew up in a classic Midwestern college town. With all its American faults, it was a diverse and happy-childhood kind of place, slightly dull in the way that parents wish for their children. If race showed in class lines, school cliques and being pulled over more often, our little Americana lacked the deep racial tension and mistrust that seem so hard to escape now."
-Prof. Ekow N. Yankah, "Can My Children Be Friends with White People?"

H/t Yael

Wither Benghazi?

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

What it is all about....

In the end, this is what it is all about in the Middle East: 'We'll be in the Middle East for the next 100 years,' Boeing senior exec says.

President Dwight Eisenhower was right: "Beware the Military-Industrial Complex."

Meanwhile, I am shocked, shocked to learn that Facebook finally admits that Russia tampered with the Brexit Vote.  I had been waiting for this shoe to drop for a while.

And a very good piece by the New Yorker's Dana Priest, one of the best journalists on intel reporting, on why Russian election meddling was another U.S. intelligence failure.

Finally, Jonathan Chait of New York Magazine ask a good question: why does Trump talk about Putin like Putin's his boss?

Monday, November 13, 2017

Asian-American Cuisine’s Rise, and Triumph

"This, though, is the new American palate. As a nation we were once beholden to the Old World traditions of early settlers; we now crave ingredients from farther shores. The briny rush of soy; ginger’s low burn; pickled cabbage with that heady funk so close to rot. Vinegar applied to everything. Fish sauce like the underbelly of the sea. Palm sugar, velvet to cane sugar’s silk. Coconut milk slowing the tongue. Smoky black cardamom with its menthol aftermath. Sichuan peppercorns that paralyze the lips and turn speech to a burr, and Thai bird chilies that immolate everything they touch. Fat rice grains that cling, that you can scoop up with your hands. (As a child raised in a Filipino-American household, I was bewildered by commercials for Uncle Ben’s rice that promised grains that were “separate, not sticky,” as if that were a good thing.)

These are American ingredients now, part of a movement in cooking that often gets filed under the melting-pot, free-for-all category of New American cuisine. But it’s more specific than that: This is food borne of a particular diaspora, made by chefs who are “third culture kids,” heirs to both their parents’ culture and the one they were raised in, and thus forced to create their own.

Could we call it Asian-American cuisine? The term is problematic, subsuming countries across a vast region with no shared language or single unifying religion. It elides numerous divides: city and countryside, aristocrats and laborers, colonizers and colonized — “fancy Asian” and “jungle Asian,” as the comedian Ali Wong puts it. (She’s speaking specifically of East and Southeast Asians, who followed similar patterns of immigration to the U.S. and who are the primary focus of this piece.) As a yoke of two origins, it can also be read as an impugning of loyalties and as a code for “less than fully American.” When I asked American chefs of Asian heritage whether their cooking could be considered Asian-American cuisine, there was always a pause, and sometimes a sigh."
-Ligaya Mishan, "Asian-American Cuisine’s Rise, and Triumph"

One of those delicious food/identity pieces but looks a bit broader than most-- at culinary trends, history and present examples. 

Amelie Quixote

Telle Don Quichotte, elle avait résolu de s'attaquer a l'implacable moulin de toutes les détresses humaines combat perdu d'avance, qui consuma prématurément sa vie.

Like Don Quixote, she was determined to grapple the unforgiving grinder of all the human sorrows, an impossible fight that consumed her life prematurely...

Nothing better than a rainy monday to sip tea and watch Le Fabuleux destin d'Amélie Poulain. In French with Spanish subtitles to practice both--albeit preferring to have French subtitles that are not available.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Sunday Round-up

-Britain unmoored: "Many Britons see their country as a brave galleon, banners waving, cannons firing, trumpets blaring. That is how the country’s voluble foreign secretary, Boris Johnson, likes to describe it. But Britain is now but a modest-size ship on the global ocean.

Having voted to leave the European Union, it is unmoored, heading to nowhere, while on deck, fire has broken out and the captain — poor Theresa May — is lashed to the mast, without the authority to decide whether to turn to port or to starboard, let alone do what one imagines she knows would be best, which is to turn around and head back to shore.

-A Conservative sucker born every minute: Why conservatives are more susceptible to believing lies

-How the myth of artistic genius excuses the abuse of women: "These men stand accused of using their creative positions to offend — turning film sets into hunting grounds; grooming young victims in acting classes; and luring female colleagues close on the pretext of networking, only to trap them in uninvited sexual situations. The performances we watch onscreen have been shaped by those actions. And their offenses have affected the paths of other artists, determining which rise to prominence and which are harassed or shamed out of work. In turn, the critical acclaim and economic clout afforded their projects have worked to insulate them from the consequences of their behavior."

Trump tell us he believes Putin, who is very insulted. Trump also tells the Japanese emperor that mass-shootings can happen anywhere.  Except Japan, which has never had one.

-Speaking of, Gun Violence in U.S. Cities Compared to the Deadliest Nations in the World: Los Angeles is to the Philippines what Detroit is to El Salvador what Miami to Colombia.

-Gerrymandering continues to save Republicans from drubbings. This, from Virginia, is what gerrymandering does to elections:  "Democrats also swamped the GOP in the state’s House of Delegates races, winning the aggregate vote in those contests by a similar 9-point margin. Most news outlets spun that House of Delegates margin as a Democratic triumph—a “tsunami election” that swept away what had been seen as an ironclad Republican majority. Yet pending a handful of recounts, Democrats seem poised to take just 50 of the chamber’s 100 seats. This 50–50 deadlock may prevent the party from securing the advances it campaigned on, particularly the state’s long-delayed expansion of Medicaid. Democrats rode an electoral wave to a legislative impasse."

-Some good stories on Morocco and the Jews:
(1): Marrakesh
(2) Essouira

-It's fine to spend all your money on travel, says Science....

-And finally....

Charlie's Journey, cont.

One of the most epic travelers I have ever encountered in my own journeys is Charlie Walker. He biked literally across Europe, Asia and Africa.  Some 43,000km on a bike.

I ran into him in Samarkand, in the middle of Uzbekistan when he was just starting to make his way back to the UK via the Central and South Asia, the Middle East and Africa.

He is doing a Kickstarter for a book on the journey, please consider supporting his efforts.

I wrote an article on his journey here.

And you can see his most recent, ridiculous continental trek "Following the Line" (a 5,600KM triathlon) here. 

'These Are Not The Actions of an Innocent Man'

"So, to put it bluntly: At this point in the proceedings, there can be no innocent explanation for Donald Trump’s rejection of the truth about Russian meddling in last year’s elections. Earlier, it may have been suggested, sympathetically, that the case had not yet been proven. That Trump’s vanity blocked him from acknowledging embarrassing facts. Or—more hopefully—that he was inspired by some Kissingerian grand design for a diplomatic breakthrough. Or that he was lazy. Or stubborn. Or uninformed. Or something, anything, other than … complicit. Not anymore....

'Beyond a reasonable doubt' is the standard for criminal justice. It’s not the standard for counter-intelligence determinations. The preponderance of the evidence ever-more clearly indicates: In ways we cannot yet fully reckon—but can no longer safely deny—the man in the Oval Office has a guilty connection to the Russian government. That connection would bar him from literally any other job in national security except that of head of the executive branch and commander- in-chief of the armed forces of the United States."
-David Frum, 'These Are Not The Actions of an Innocent Man'

Friday, November 10, 2017

Lovecraft and Moore

“A reservoir of darkness, black
As witches’ cauldrons are, when fill’d
With moon-drugs in th’ eclipse distill’d.
Leaning to look if foot might pass
Down thro’ that chasm, I saw, beneath,
As far as vision could explore,
The jetty sides as smooth as glass,
Looking as if just varnish’d o’er
With that dark pitch the Seat of Death
Throws out upon its slimy shore.”
-Moore, Thomas not Roy

A Party Unmoored

"It is, of course, true that GOP leaders do not want to be tainted by association with a child predator, and would sing sweet relief if Moore voluntarily stepped aside and allowed another Republican to run in his place.

But most will make no firm demand that he bow out, let alone endorse his Democratic opponent.

If Moore presses ahead, this will be the reason. If he becomes senator despite the new revelations, he will have accomplished no more than Donald Trump did when he sailed to the presidency in the slipstream of GOP indifference to corruption, authoritarianism, and sex crimes. Even if Moore bails out of the race or loses, more Roy Moores will keep crawling out from under rocks and into Republican politics, until Republicans stop showing bottomless tolerance for lowlives, bigots, and crooks, so long as the lowlives, bigots, and crooks can win elections. They can not stem this tide until they reckon with the moral rot they embraced when they made their peace with the current president."
-Brian Beutler, "A Party Unmoored"

Thursday, November 09, 2017

This is the Middle East in a nutshell

"Israel possesses far greater ability to inflict pain, but Hezbollah possesses far greater capacity to absorb it..."
-Robert Malley, "The Middle East is nearing an explosion

Shake the family tree

Something to make your day seem insignificant: your oldest cousins were found in Morocco, some 300,000 years old. Revising the family tree by hundreds of thousands of years. That is a lot of genealogy to recalculate.

Tuesday, November 07, 2017


My Aunt Phyllis died yesterday.

Not quite the opening from The Stranger, but being so far away I was having a hard time processing the grief.

In a surreal fashion, from France I managed to break the news to my parents who were located just outside the hospital.

Early the following morning I arose early in the darkness to leave Nice.  I bade a sad goodbye to the dear butterscotch feline named Phenix.  I will miss that dear cat.

And I was out the door for a place that somehow manages to be one of the longest sojourns I have had in a while.  It's amazing how much a place can become home in just a few short weeks.

I caught the tram to Place Massena, then took the bus out through the pastel Genovese-Belle Epoque Nizza.

The Nice-Cote D'Azur Airport passed without issue, and I took off on the first leg of my voyage north towards Zurich.  The flight out of Nice was spectacular.  The flight took off along the jetty island protruding into the Bay of Angels and then headed straight parallel across the belle Nice cityscape.

For the last month, I had sat on the promenade facing the other direction, watching these same planes take off over the Riviera sky space, while I did my French homework or translated Tintin.

We continued north for a flight over the snowy rugged Alps.  The white-covered cliffs of the mountain chain were awe-inspiring.  

Earlier in the week, I had rented a nice bike and biked some 50km back-and-forth to Antibes.  It was a beautiful ride along the Riviera's coast beach line. I went to Antibes to visit the Picasso museum there.  The museum features Picasso work from his sojourn in the Cote D'Azur.  All sorts of picassoed fruits-de-mer among other reduced images and dreams.  I find that whenever visiting a Picasso installation, I start perceiving faces differently--in more angular dimensions.  I see the cubism in the quotidian.  And on a flight to and through Switzerland, the angles of faces became even more profound.  I picassofy people's triangular noses, circled ears and angular jaws as I try to imagine how Picasso saw the world.

The best thing about flying Swiss Airlines is that they give you real Swiss chocolates.  That made my day.

I changed planes in Zurich, and killed time in the Zurich Airport and its very Zurich dimensions.  The Zurich Airport has some very interesting pockets of beautiful space.

With a quick breath of Swiss autumn cold, I changed planes to Palma.  We flew back down France and passed over some of the area I had just traversed--flying right over Avignon, that other Rome. 

Somewhere over the beauty of the Mediterranean, I stared out over the white-capped swell of the sea's waves.  The book I was reading, Carl Sagan's Contact triggered something deep in me:

"She had spent her career attempting to make contact with the most remote and alien of strangers, while in her own life she had made contact with hardly anyone at all. She had been fierce in debunking the creation myths of others, and oblivious to the lie at the core of her own. She had studied the universe all her life, but had overlooked its clearest message: For small creatures such as we the vastness is bearable only through love."

And I started to cry.  Tears streaming down as I looked out over the vastness of white-capped waves.  The sea stretched on in the horizon into infinity.

Warm, wet tears streaming down my face as I stared out into the vast beauty of the white-capped seas that stretched on.

I wept for my aunt, whom I would never see again.  I wept for her memories, that were now even more precious to me.

There is a sliver of immortality that rests in the memory of others.  

Perhaps the Speaker for the Dead would agree with such sentiments.

I dryed my eyes and felt a bit of the emotional weight off my weary shoulders.

We continued our flight over rocky rigid Baelric islands, circling over the green mountain plenispheres of Mallorca and Menorca.

We landed over Palma's splendor, and I grabbed my bag and hopped the bus through town.

My journey ended when I spied the windmill in front of me.  My journey ends, and least for the next few days, ensconced between two windmills.   

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

On plunder

"When plunder becomes a way of life for a group of men living together in society, they create for themselves in the course of time a legal system that authorizes it and a moral code that glorifies it."
 -Frederic Bastiat

Monday, October 30, 2017

Matzah balls for the Revolution

Matzah balls for the revolution--the story of the Kosher restaurant collective in the DC area. Bubeleh, consider contributing a lil gelt to get the film made....

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Sunday Round-up

“The paradox is that on one hand, members of this generation don’t want to be ruled by the company. They want to have a life,” said Carolyn Cartwright, senior vice president of human resources for SunTrust Bank. “On the other hand, they’re impatient waiting for job promotions and want all the perks associated with ‘paying one’s dues.'”
-Funny how the language that is used on Millennials us the exact same that was used regarding GenX:

-Forks over knives: the recent history of the semi-recent invention, the fork.

"Netanyahu wants the right to speak as the representative of all Jews. But in America and Europe, he's abandoned all pretense of solidarity with them"
-How Bibi betrayed the Jews

-Morocco is working with the U.S. Holocaust Museum on Holocaust education.

-Why the Republicans secretly yearn for a Hillary presidency.

-A great perspective on privilege in a very tangible manner. 

-How to explain to your kids what is going on in Trump America, Soviet-style.

-On racial profiling at the airport.  Can't wait to come back for Thanksgiving with my beard....

The best; the worst

To riff on something Carl Sagan once wrote: Obama brought out the worst in racists and the best in everyone else; Trump does just the opposite.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

It's Mueller Time!

"I think it means this will be a rolling investigation. Rather than conduct his entire investigation and then wrap things up with indictments and possibly a report at the end, he is doing it in stages, the way the Justice Department might attack a drug cartel or a mafia family."
-Matt Miller, former Obama Justice Dept. official in Axios

Looks like Mueller might be bringing the house against the Trump admin.  One can imagine he had a grand old time following the money.

And the F.B.I. is planning on getting a special order of tiny handcuffs...

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Les Témoins de Jéhovah

I found the best language partners to practice my French: the Jehovah's Witnesses.

Les Témoins de Jéhovah are out in various parks and promenades, and they love to share La Bonne Nouvelle; I am always looking for people with whom I can practice.

It is a match made in heaven.

Now I just need to find some Mormons... 

on perception

"The desire of monks and mystics is not unlike that of artists: to perceive the extraordinary within the ordinary by changing not the world but the eyes that look… To form the intention of new awareness is already to transform and be transformed."
-Jane Hirshfield

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

The Religious Right's Golden Calf

"There is no group in the United States less attached to its own ideals or more eager for its own exploitation than religious conservatives. Forget Augustine and Aquinas, Wilberforce and Shaftesbury. For many years, leaders of the religious right exactly conformed Christian social teaching to the contours of Fox News evening programming. Now, according to Bannon, “economic nationalism” is the “centerpiece of value voters.” I had thought the centerpiece was a vision of human dignity rooted in faith. But never mind. Evidently the Christian approach to social justice is miraculously identical to 1930s Republican protectionism, isolationism and nativism.

Do religious right leaders have any clue how foolish they appear? Rather than confidently and persistently representing a set of distinctive beliefs, they pant and beg to be a part of someone else’s movement. In this case, it is a movement that takes advantage of racial and ethnic divisions and dehumanizes Muslims, migrants and refugees. A movement that has cultivated ties to alt-right leaders and flirted with white identity politics. A movement that will eventually soil and discredit all who are associated with it."
-Michael Gerson, "The religious right carries its Golden Calf into Bannon's battles"

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Sunday Round-up

"The embarrassing decision to leave UNESCO was made at the same time the agency elected its new director general, Audrey Azoulay. France’s former culture minister, she is the daughter of Andre Azoulay, adviser to the king of Morocco, a most impressive and noble statesman, a Moroccan Jew who fought all his life for a just peace in the Middle East, a true friend of Israel. He is ten times more concerned about Israel’s fate than Trump and Haley together. We may presume that the new UNESCO director-general has absorbed her father’s values. Now she will head the agency without the United States and Israel, who are isolating themselves to bits."
-Gideon Levy, "America and Israel against the World"

-The Roots made a re-make of Schoolhouse Rocks:

-How to fix gerrymandering via proportional representation.

-Mayim Bialik on being a feminist in Harvey Weinstein's world

-How Big Pharma spiked DEA enforcement in the Opiod Crisis

Friday, October 13, 2017

Adam Smith & Harvey Weinstein

"'More established actresses were fearful of speaking out because they had work; less established ones were scared because they did not.'

In virtually every oppressive workplace regime—and other types of oppressive regimes—you see the same phenomenon. Outsiders, from the comfort and ease of their position, wonder why no one inside the regime speak ups and walks out; insiders know it’s not so easy. Everyone inside the regime—even its victims, especially its victims—has a very good reason to keep silent. Everyone has a very good reason to think that it’s the job of someone else to speak out.

Those at the bottom of the regime, these less established actresses who need the most, look up and wonder why those above them, those more established actresses who need less, don’t speak out against an injustice: The more established have power, why don’t they use it, what are they afraid of?

Those higher up the ladder, those more established actresses, look down on those at the very bottom and wonder why they don’t speak out against that injustice: They’ve got nothing to lose, what are they afraid of?

Neither is wrong; they’re both accurately reflecting and acting upon their objective situations and interests. This is one of the reasons why collective action against injustice and oppression is so difficult. It’s Adam Smith’s Invisible Hand at work (in both senses), without the happy ending: everyone pursues their individual interests as individuals; the result is a social catastrophe."
-Corey Robin, "Adam Smith’s Invisible Hand At Work: The Harvey Weinstein Story"

Westeros Manga

Wednesday, October 11, 2017


"When Henri Matisse dies, Chagall will be the only painter left who understands what color really is."
-Pablo Picasso

I spent the afternoon at the vibrant Musee Chagall.  As Chagall knew, color affects emotion.

Giant canvasses of Moses in golden yellow receiving the divine gift.

A fiery red Abraham binding his son in hues of green and yellow on the pyre-- as blue and white angels step in to rest his hand.

Dreams of dark blues and violets as Jacob wrestled with his angel.

Giant canvasses of biblical lore, exploding with color from their frames against the backdrop of stark clean white walls.  It was vibrant and glorious.

And Chagall's poetry moved me as well:

Là où se pressent des maisons courbées
Là où monte le chemin du cimetière
Là où coule un fleuve élargi
Là j'ai rêvé ma vie
La nuit, il vole un ange dans le ciel
Un éclair blanc sur les toits
Il me prédit une longue, longue route
Il lancera mon nom au-dessus des maisons
Mon peuple, c'est pour toi que j'ai chanté
Qui sait si ce chant te plaît
Une voix sort de mes poumons
Toute chagrin et fatigue
C'est d'après toi que je peins
Fleurs, forêts, gens et maisons
Comme un barbare je colore ta face
Nuit et jour je te bénis

The Calm Before the Storm

Eminem rips Trump in a BET cypher. H/T BD.


What's cooking in The Rock's office?

The Rock Test on how to avoid accusations of sexual harassment at the workplace. 

H/t Hairball. 

La belle vie

La belle vie is the French Riviera, slowly meandering down the Promenade des Anglais with a cornet de rhum raisin. 

The Baie des Anges (Bay of Angels) is shimmering in the afternoon Côte d'Azur sun.

Manu Chao and Tonino Carotone sing in my ears: "En la Gran Feria de la Mentira, tu eres el rey." Ever the vagabond on the margins of the lap of luxury.

My nerd paradise is conjugating French subjonctif verbs, sitting on a bench with my feet propped up against the rails of the promenade. Homework should always be so nice.

Sunday, October 08, 2017

Sunday Round-Up

-How computers turned gerrymandering into a science.

-Some history and iconoclasm of Babe Ruth's famous "Called Shot."

-Why AP courses are a scam.  Having taken a couple AP courses (US History, European History), and plenty of college courses, I would agree that they are not remotely equivalent.

-An interesting article on how KFC is targeting Africa, Ghana in specific in this article and it is increasing obesity in the continent. And apparently USAID and the Gates Foundation helped this development.

-My old friend Emily Barson, who served in HHS as external director for outreach for Obamacare during the Obama administration, was on Weekend Edition this morning to discuss the Trump administration's sabotage of outreach efforts and what her organization Get America Covered is doing to get the word out for Obamacare enrollment.

-And finally, the "We Love Lamb" commercial that is either heavenly or sinful depending on your sense of faith