Thursday, October 27, 2005

'Twas The Night Before Fitzmas !

" 'Twas the Night Before Fitzmas, and all through the (White) House, not a creature stirred (except Karl Rove), not even a mouse."

Will it be the Grinch, or Santa Fitzgerald on Friday? Here's hoping that Santa Fitzgerald will make all of the good little boys and girls in this country's dreams come true! And for our Jewish friends, we also hope for a Happy Fitznukah!

Sunday, October 16, 2005

What The Frick!!!

“You went into jail in the summer. It is fall now. You will have stories to cover—Iraqi elections and suicide bombers, biological threats and the Iranian nuclear program. Out West, where you vacation, the aspens will already be turning. They turn in clusters, because their roots connect them. Come back to work—and life. Until then, you will remain in my thoughts and prayers.

With admiration, Scooter Libby."

What the f@%#! does all that mean? Especially the part about the aspens turning in clusters, "because their roots connect them". It certainly sounds like a message is being sent. Is it a message of some sort of collaboration? Between whom? Do journalists now adopt political ideologies and work with high government officials on hidden agendas, like the manufacturing of disinformation as with WMD's, in order to start phony wars?

This is an excerpt from correspondence between VP Cheney's top aide, Lewis "Scooter" Libby, and Judith Miller, femme fatale intrepid news reporter for the New York Times, as reported recently by that paper as well as other entities, giving Miller permission (again?) to end the false heroics of her imprisonment in defense of the crooked Bush regime. Has an arrangement been made by the rest of the crooks to sell out Karl Rove in return for deals, as some speculate? Or is the reference to connected roots symbolic of a political neo-con alliance between journalists such as Miller and the Bush regime? She has certainly served their bidding in hyping a war based upon the most flimsiest, contrived crumbs of evidence since the Maine was sunk in order to start the Spanish-American war over Cuba.

What a shame, if American journalists now work for the government, instead of reporting on it. Shades of Soviet Russia, or even Nazi Germany, perhaps?

Friday, October 14, 2005

My Ethical Dilemma

So, I have a project to do in my anthropology program, which is causing me some consternation. What it boils down to, is, how does one propose a solution that works within the existing system, when one believes that the existing system is illegitimate? Our issue concerns the lending of small funds (microfinance) to poor, mostly indigenous, women in Bolivia, in order to stir the creation and sustainability of small businesses for these women. The studies have already shown that these microfinance schemes tend not to work, for a whole variety of reasons, but mainly (in my view) that the greater surrounding economic situation of these people does not allow for sustainable enterprises that can grow significantly over time. Bolivia is a nation with a majority Indian population, dominated by a small, European-derived (mostly Spanish) minority population. In many ways the setting, in my view, is reminiscent of apartheid South Africa, in terms of the conditions of the indiegenous majority. How, in this greater context, can these Indian women start and grow small localized businesses that would ever catapult them into anything over a subsistence level, when their surrounding environment of poverty, lack of education, little or no health care, etc., is not situated to engender sustainable business enterprises ( as the studies already seem to show)?

My job, as an "advisor" to a local enteprise by the name of Promujer, an NGO (non-governmental org.) geared to assisting local woman to develop sustainable enterprises by assisting them with small loans, is to find ways to make the complete enterprise successful, meaning the sustainable business success of the women, as well as the sustainability of the lending enterprise itself, all within a context where failure seems largely inevitable, given the conditions. Yet I must, as in the real world, find a way to make this work for these women and the Promujer enterprise in spite of the dismal conditions, to make this work under conditions where these Indian people have always been held to 2nd class citizenship with no assistance by their government that would have enabled them to move away from poverty and lack of education. They can of course, and do, make things to sell or market small commodities, but everyone is so poor that not many buyers exist. Their skills are limited by their historical conditions. Conditions are bleak.

I proposed a revolution as a beginning to resolution of these challenges. And, the revolution has indeed already begun to take place in that country as of more recently. It won't be much longer until Indian people will make be in charge of their own self-determination in Bolivia. But I am charged with making microfinance work for them now, in the exisiting circumstances; circumstances I find to be ultimately, illegitimate. A maddening, but typical Catch-22 situation, which seems to be so often the environment for these intractable types of issues. As they used to phrase it in the 19th century, with the slavery question, the Indian question, the labor question, and now, the microfinance question: "What is to be done?"

I have some ideas, but I'm already not so enthused by their chances for success.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Simone Weil - A Personal Hero

It is, perhaps, a testimony to Simone Weil’s spiritual insight that people with differing views from hers commended her thought and life. From religious conservatives to liberals, political conservatives to left-wing, believers and atheists have praised her. But Weil came to religion from a purely secularist and atheist milieu.

Weil was born in Paris (in 1909), and she was the younger sister of mathematician André Weil. Her ancestry was Jewish, but Simone and André were raised agnostic. Her brother was a math prodigy and Simone herself exhibited precociousness early as well-—reading at an early age books well beyond her years.

Weil excelled from a young age, becoming proficient at Ancient Greek at 12. She came second in her class at the École Normale Supérieure, ahead of Simone de Beauvoir in third place. (First class honours went to a young woman who pursued an undistinguished career in the French public service and was never heard of again.)

In her late teens, she became involved in the worker’s movement. She wrote political tracts, marched in demonstrations, and advocated worker’s rights. At this time she is a Marxist, pacifist, and trade unionist.

She received her teaching diploma in 1931, and becomes a teacher of philosophy at a girls’ school. During this time and for the rest of her life she suffers terribly with migraines and sinusitis. In 1933, she participates in the general strike throughout France by the worker’s unions, protesting unemployment and wage cuts.

In 1931, Weil became a school teacher, a profession she practiced in between punishing stints at factories and farms, designed to increase empathy with the working class. Though she considered herself a pacifist, in 1936 she joined the Republicans in the Spanish Civil War. However, her clumsiness repeatedly put her corps at risk; finally she suffered serious burns which caused her to leave Spain and travel to Assisi to recuperate.

In 1934, she takes a year’s leave of absence and works incognito in two factories as a laborer. Despite her ill health and natural awkwardness, she manages to get through several months. Returns to teaching in 1935, but gives most of her money away. For a month in 1936, she works on a farm, and then later that year decides to observe and help in the fight against Fascism in Spain. While in camp, she accidentally pours hot oil on herself and has to go to hospital.

In 1937, she continues to write essays on labor and management issues, and war and peace. Then in the spring she experiences a religious ecstasy in the same church that Saint Francis of Assisi had prayed in. She prays for the first time in her life. She has another, more powerful revelation in 1938. From this time on, her writings take on a more mystical and spiritual content, while retaining their focus on social and political issues. She was attracted to Roman Catholicism but refused baptism, fearing that the consolations of organised religion would impair her faith.

During World War II, she lived for a time in Marseille, receiving spiritual direction from a Dominican friar. In 1942, she travelled to the USA and afterwards to the UK. In London, she became a French Resistance worker. Her health had always been frail, and the punishing work regime she assumed for the Resistance soon took its toll. In 1943 she was diagnosed with tuberculosis and instructed to rest and maintain a generous diet. However, the idealism which had always informed Weil's political activism and material detachment did not permit her to accept special treatment.

In 1915, when she was only six years old, she swore off sugar in solidarity with the troops entrenched along the Western Front. Twenty-eight years later, Weil limited herself to the rations she imagined her compatriots were subjected to in the occupied territories of France. Her condition quickly deteriorated, and she was moved to a sanatorium in Ashford, Kent, England. She died in August 1943, surrounded by a few devoted friends.

Most of her work was published posthumously.

"Humility is attentive patience."

"Culture is an instrument wielded by professors to manufacture professors, who when their turn comes will manufacture professors."

"A test of what is real is that it is hard and rough. Joys are found in it, not pleasure. What is pleasant belongs to dreams."

"Two prisoners whose cells adjoin communicate with each other by knocking on the wall. The wall is the thing which separates them but is also their means of communication. It is the same with us and God. Every separation is a link."

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Do You Believe In Elves?

Well, do you? This little fella is what is called a Tom DeLay. He is a U.S. Congressman, and the House Majority Leader. He is a diminutive little fellow, and he has been indicted on charges related to campaign finance conspiracy. He, like many other of the little folk, like to roll around in the green, but in his case, it's green money; not in leaves, grass or on lily pads. That's why he's in some trouble now. They say he has little hands and little feet (and you know what that means, ladies), and therefore he takes small little steps when he travels about. He's also kind of a mean as well as a crooked little sprite, whose knickname is "The Hammer" (little fellows like big mean knicknames). And I thought everything that comes from Texas was supposed to be big! Maybe that was just was in reference to those big 'ol crimes that are now starting to roll back in on the Bush Gang and the rest of their league.

Stay tuned. The federal investigation findings concerning Karl "The Creampuff" Rove and Scooter Libby, will be coming in within just a few weeks. George Stephanopoulous from the Sunday "This Week" news program claims to have information linking both the President and Vice-President to the same business, the Plame affair, which is the leaking of CIA operative Plame's name, to which Rove is also linked. Boy, somebody better start believing in some magic soon here, as the curtains are now starting to open up, and the magic is beginning to fade away for all of these elves, fairies ( a lot of these in Bushlandia it seems, as strange as it might ), woodland nymphs, sprites and trolls that frolic about upon the White House lawn and its surrounding environs.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Sunday Morning

Powder blue sky

dotted with wisps of clouds

like little white explosions


on Sunday mornings

the sky seems to last