jueves, agosto 09, 2007

I Can't Stand the Rain.....

I wonder why I keep naming posts with song titles. Maybe it's because my iPod has become an extension of my hand.....In any case, I am feeling hungover and supremely lazy. Add to that the fact that my co-worker will not leave me alone with these fucking travel costs. I'm sayin', how about nobody fucking goes any-fucking-where? Problem solved, everyone's happy, corporization saves money. So my brain is twisting back into knots after I worked so hard to untie it all last night. Maybe a little too hard. So, I'm posting this here article in the NY Times City Room blog about yesterday's events. Read this too. It's called "Constructive Bitching".

Look at the comments that follow the post. I agree with 1, 2, 6, 7, and hell, pretty much all the ones that point the finger at the MTA one way or another and make Bloomberg out to be the lap dog that he is. And where the fuck was Spitzer during all of this? You know, Albany is not that far from the city. I'd hate to think he's another member of the "New York City Drop Dead" contingent. Anyway, read the article.

viernes, mayo 25, 2007

Why I Love John Edwards

I have told this story a million times to a million people, and here it is again: I met John Edwards after a US Airways flight to New York from Washington in January of 2005. I spent the whole flight glancing back at him and his wife, wondering if i should speak to them. I decided not to given the folks already asking for autographs during the whole flight. So when we finally got to the baggage claim at La Guardia, I saw him standing alone, so I went right up, shook his hand and said "Hello, Mr. Edwards. I just wanted to thank you for running in this past election. You gave us hope." He was just about the nicest man ever, with that Southern accent that I love, and said "Well, thank you for that. That makes my day."

One of the perks of being at the UN is that I get a Counter-terrorism newsletter, with articles from all around the world that concern C-T. I've technically left the realm of C-T, but I met the guy in DPI who circulates it and convinced him to keep me on the mailing list. This morning, I read a great Reuters article about Edwards' foreign policy plans. Check it out. Of course, the White House has immediately set to whining, accusing and other forms of bellyaching.

I am officially torn. First, we have Edwards, who tells it like it is. We have Obama, who knows what it is but plays the diplomatic game very well and ends up clouding the message. Then we have Hilary, who is not really sure yet what it is, and is waiting for guidance from her husband (which is not such a bad thing, since things can only go uphill from here).

Right this second, I will say that I love John Edwards with all my liberal heart. I would love to see a man in office who sees things for what they are and expresses his opinions with little to no censorship. I know America is not ready for it, though, and that's really sad. All we can do is hope for redemption. At least Edwards is a sign of intelligence, and I appreciate him for that.

miércoles, mayo 02, 2007


Once again, Bush has stepped in the way of progress. Within hours of getting the Iraq timetable bill from Congress, he vetoed it. In the NY Times article, Bush actually said the measure would “impose impossible conditions on our commanders in combat” by forcing them to “take fighting directions from politicians 6,000 miles away in Washington, D.C.” Don’t they do that already? Wasn’t it those very politicians who made the troops go over there to fight in the first place? His pathetically stupid commentary at every turn takes any logic or reason he may have used to make his decision right out of the equation.

On the BBC website, it makes light of the fact that he has only used two vetoes in his 7 years of presidency. This could be for two reasons: Republicans had the biggest piece of the Washington pie until just recently, so he never had to, and/or, he just recently found out what a veto is for. I think it’s the latter, but I don’t want to seem too pessimistic.

As usual, Bush says that failure is not an option. Of course it isn’t an option, and I don't think anyone in their right mind thinks it is an option for anything. But it happens, and in the case of the war, it is just fact. He needs to stop talking about his obvious fear of embarrassment and accept that both he, as president, and the war are probably the biggest failures this country has ever suffered, at least in the past 100 years or so. I say that because we, as a country, have already suffered a lot of failures, but the failure to learn from any of that is by far the biggest one.

viernes, marzo 30, 2007

Can someone help me out?

After reading this BBC article, I can't understand why it is so important to Olmert's government (and those before) not to agree to go back to Israel's pre-1967 borders. Do they really need to hold on to everything? For what? And what was with Olmert's comment about "the countries who count in the Arab world...."? Doesn't EVERY COUNTRY count in some way? Seriously, I would love and need to hear people's answers to this questions, so if you've got one, bring it here.

jueves, marzo 29, 2007


Firstly, I feel that I've become hyper-aware of the positivity levels in my world. This is thanks in part to J., and as you might conclude, there are some comments that do not quickly cease to upset me, especially because of where and who they come from. According to many, I have a lot of positivity in my life, but some comments, especially those made to my blog posts, wherein I always try to end on a note of at least semiquasipositivity, make me think that that's not shining through enough. Having said this, I'm not about to make any extra efforts to seem all happy and bouncy, but I will say that one or five complaints do not a depresso make. So, yeah, Swandad, it may seem like I am going slightly postal, but rest assured I am really a lovely, HAPPY person. Even moreso after I left that 7th circle of doom known as "my old office". I can be serious, but for the most part, I am very kid-like and smiley, to the point where guys think I am cute, almost never pretty or beautiful, which I guess is OK by me. I am especially childlike when I see things I like, and this can happen even in somewhat somber places like Barney's. Example: I'll find a coat that I particularly love. I clap my hands and go "oh goodie oh goodie oh goodie!". Then I look at the tags. It is on sale. I jump up and down. It is in my size. Yes! I exclaim, much like I did when I hit a baseball out of the park with my aluminum bat as a kid. This kind of thing, jumping up and down and shouting with glee, happens often, although I've never been asked to stop, except by my mom, who is easily embarrassed by me in general. So that's a little insight for you on the enigma that is me. There's just a lot of stupid shit going on in the world, and what kind of blogger would I be if I didn't bring it to your attention? Besides, if I always wrote about happy things and dotted my i's with little smiley faces and shit, you readers would tell me I suck, right? And you all have to admit, a little part of you loves to hear negative shit. It's human nature. It doesn't make you bad. It makes you a normal person.

Second, geez I am really not up on my news these days! I just read today, about a week after the fact, that the House passed a bill calling for withdrawal of troops in Iraq by March 2008. Today, the Senate followed suit, setting a bunch of benchmarks for withdrawal. Hallelujah! But wait....is this feasible? Um, probably not. At least not while Bush and company are around. But whatever afterglow, I mean, effects, of withdrawal (tee hee hee) will not be suffered by any of us Stateside. Even the American ego will only be bruised for about a month, and then everyone will gain perspective on this mistake and realize it was wrong, Cons, bedwetters and middle-of-the-road folk alike. The effects of our troop withdrawal (and God help Blair if he doesn't leave when we do) will be felt by the Iraqis, at least those who haven't already fled for their lives. But I have a theory, and this is where the positive thinking, and perhaps borderline naivite, depending on your leanings, comes into play: I think a large part of the fighting of the insurgents will end once we have the decency to leave. Note here that I said "part" and not "all". There will still be infighting between Sunnis and Shias and possibly the Kurds as well, which I realize qualifies as civil war. But that would be nothing new, as they have been fighting each other since long before God had the idea of creating this America place. Those who say civil war will break out if our troops leave are just a tad full of shit. As if our troops are holding it down. Those kids are getting their legs and arms blown off, that's what's happenening. I just read last night in the Village Voice about this very hot Puerto Rican soldier from the Bronx who lost 40% of his brain to a landmine. Now he is in a VA hospital in the Bronx, being cared for by his mother moreso than the nurses, and back to playing with GI Joes. He has the mind of a 6 year old now. He was tricked. He believed in Bush's cause, volunteered to go, and had his brains blown out. I sure hope Bush appreciates his sacrifice. But I digress.....Look, this be my thinking: We already had our civil war. We couldn't stop the Vietnamese from having theirs. Why do we need to try and stop the Iraqis from having one, especially when we should know by now that we can't?

Hearts and flowers and kisses to you all!!!!

miércoles, marzo 07, 2007

Gray Hairs

On the way home on Friday night, I stopped in ladies and just happened to look in the mirror, and it was then that I saw it...the Omen that would school me on what is to come. I spied my first gray hair, and before I could think about it, I plucked it out, and then remembered that 5 more would grow back in its place. I found those the next day. Anyway, I saved the plucked hair in a little porcelain box I got in London when I turned 29. I told my mother, who was visiting for the weekend, about the hair. She recently let her hair go after years of coloring it and totally rocks it, and was quick to tell me she had absolutely no sympathy for me, even as I stood there sniffing and sobbing and mourning the inevitable end of my good hair days.

Then I turned 31 yesterday. I'm not depressed about it, but I do feel as if God is dragging me through the years kicking and screaming. I'm not ready to go there yet! I don't think my thirties are the end of it all, but I'm just not ready yet. I didn't do anything to celebrate really, but I did have lunch with a few former co-workers of mine. We were actually celebrating one of them getting a promotion and going to another office, but they did a two-for-one deal and took me out, too, which was very nice of them. I had my Sake Ikura Don and a good-sized glass of sake (on the house) and was a happy camper. Then I went for my training session at the gym with S., the most beautiful trainer ever. I know this is true because usually, my admiration for unattainable men quickly goes away after it is drilled into my head that I cannot have him. But not with S. I still check him out whenever he's not looking and make that little purring noise I make when I find someone particularly delicious. Anyway, upon seeing me, he wished me a happy birthday and gave me a huge hug, actually lifting me off the ground with his muscular, football-playing self. Yum. Never mind that he almost squeezed the life right out of me. What a way to go! After our session, I went home, talked to my dad, and went to bed earlier than I have in years.

Turning 31 has made me think about changing some things. First, and I discussed this with mom (who was all gung-ho about it) and then my dad (who was all skeptical because he just bought his apartment and "claims" to not have the money. I have some and I can always get a loan), I am going to go to graduate school. I've picked Washington as the preferred place to do this, because DC is a great place for pontificating big mouths like me, and because I get to be with my parents and friends as I've been wanting to do for a while now. I had an informal look at my options, and GWU has a Latin American studies program within the International Relations graduate program. I am SO there! This year will be about prepping for and then taking the GRE. This time I will actually try to get a good score, unlike the SAT's, on which I let myself bomb because I knew what college I was going to and they did not insist on stellar scores.

The other change may not seem really important, but spiritually, it is. I decided to cut my hair in a pixie 'do. I got this idea from Lenny Kravitz, who said that cutting off his locks after so long was one of the best things he could have done to cleanse his spirit. So I will do the pixie 'do in lieu of shaving my entire head, which would expose the dents left over from my operation, which happened 21 years ago June 5th. This will expose the scar that runs from the nape of my neck all the way to the middle of the crown of my head, but fuck it. Considering that I had shaved the bottom half of my head when I went to college, and then wore my hair up, and was told "you are SO hard-core!", I don't really care.

This be my thinking.

martes, febrero 27, 2007

Not that this is news to anyone.....

.....but I was surprised to see just how many arsenals of nuclear and chemical weapons the US has and where they are located. You could be standing on one right now! Yesterday, it was DocDay on the Sundance channel, and I had just finished watching a doc. on the woman who made "Kandahar" and her search for her old friend in Afghanistan. It was really interesting to see what that country is really like and how people are surviving, especially when all we see on the news is bombed-out Kabul. After the doc., they ran a short where this guy showed a map of where the US keeps the very weapons it uses as reasons to threaten other countries with attack/occupation.

Calls to mind the comment that Amadeo just left for my "If israel Ain't happy..." post: "It's like going to a card game and the guy with an M-16 is bitching cause you tried to bring a snub-nose .38 with you."

viernes, febrero 23, 2007

Rigoberta Menchu: Presidenta de la Republica?

Si la Menchu fuera elegida, me sorprenderia muchisimo. Por mi, hay tres razones por las cuales me sorprende mucho que haya puesto su candidatura:

1. Es mujer
2. Es indigena
3. No es la persona mas honesta del mundo. Entiendo que la mayoria de mandatarios del mundo tampoco lo son, pero la Menchu ya lo ha demostrado.

Sabiendo lo que sabemos del clima Guatemalteco en estos momentos, Menchu no ganara.

Menchu tiene muchas buenas ideas y podria traer una nueva agenda para Guatemala, pero en terminos de infrastructura, no creo que seria una buena opcion.

Que opinan los Guatemaltecos en la blogosfera?

Actualizacion, 27 Marzo

jueves, febrero 22, 2007

If Israel ain't happy, ain't nobody happy

Not that I blame Israel for US meddling in the Middle East, and more recently, Iran, besides the obvious. But I have to wonder if the US would be so eager to attack and accuse in that region if Israel were in Europe, for instance. This article is about Iran being in breach of a UN resolution, which is quite enough of a problem, but would it be such a big problem for the US if Olmert weren't so "uncomfortable" with the fact that Iran is advancing their nuke program more quickly than anticipated?

When the Security Council passed a resolution on Iran, they gave the US full attack privileges. For consistency's sake, a resolution means that the UN will have to give it's blessing to Bush, assuming he comes here to ask permission again. That's what they did when Bush the Elder wanted to get Iraq out of Kuwait. On the other hand, if the US were to attack Iran now, at least it would be somewhat legal and maybe even a little justified.

I was discussing the America attacking Iran issue the other night with a very fickle and rude NYer (hope you are reading this, for you must learn). My argument was that the US would not dare attack Iran for the sole reason that they would plunge themselves (and our wallets) into a two front war. Attacking Iran would unleash both Hamas and Hezbollah, since the two would want to protect their benefactor. Israel has shown military prowess at many points in history. They have also shown the arrogance and utter carelessness that comes with prowess, but that is another story for another time. But would Israel be able to fight off Hamas, Hezbollah and whatever terrorist organization comes out of the woodwork, all at once? In any case, the US would be fighting Iraqi insurgents and Iran in the east, and Hamas and Hezbollah in the west. Rude Boy's argument was that Bush is just stupid enough to do it without caring what the consequences may be, and to be fair, Mr. Pres has already shown a slight lack of forethought. So Rude Boy could be right after all. I hope not, because then America would really be in for it. If we thought 9/11 was awful, just wait and see what would happen to us if Bush attacked Iran. Also, I don't like to be proven wrong by people who clearly lack character.

viernes, febrero 09, 2007

The Love Affair Between Bush and Two Dead Presidents

Former president Harry S. Truman left office with a 22% approval rating in 1951, the lowest in presidential history. Why? Two things: First, Washington's spy in China, Chiang Kai-Shek, was quickly losing ground to Chairman Mao back in '49. Truman, knowing that rescuing his spy would involve the US in an unwinnable war, declined to interfere, despite protest from McCarthy and other reactionary folk. Then the gossip started that the State Department was full of Commies and McCarthy's 15 minutes began.

Second, Truman wanted to defeat the Communists who had invaded South Korea in 1950. The idea was that he'd push them right back to the Chinese border and both North and South Korea would be liberated. But he was not counting on the fact that China was horrified at the prospect of having American troops at their doorstep, which is why they joined the North Korean forces, and that was when Truman decided to throw out the idea of unifying Korea. General MacArthur demanded victory and wanted to drop a gang of bombs on Manchuria to prove his point, but instead, got canned, and thus the 38th parallel was born and the troops went home.

Ronald Reagan, well, most will agree. He sucked. But even he had sense enough to recognize that there are limits on the US' ability to save the world, and that some people just don't want to be saved. In '83, he sent about 1,000 troops to Lebanon to fight the terrorists there who had bombed their headquarters. But 4 months into it, he took back the troops and that was that.

Bush the Minor idolizes these guys. However, he fails to take the necessary lessons from them. One would think Bush crazy enough to be hearing voices from the beyond, telling him to throw down his weapons, but no. Instead, he seems to be competing with Truman to see who can leave office in the most disgrace. See, Truman was eventually exonerated of his "crimes" and now makes all sorts of Presidential "top 10" lists. Why's that? Because historians found that, at the end of the day, Truman exercised pretty good judgement, which is one of the necessary talents for the post of "Decider-in-Chief". Bush expects the same to happen with him. He would be like a painter, and once dead, everyone would realize he was the bee's knees. For all I know, it could happen that way. I would then have to go looking for another, less insane planet to live on, but it might happen.

So that's the history lesson/commentary for today, kids. By the by, Bush's approval rating is now something like 34-35%, meaning that this country is only using a litte over 5% of its collective brain. Let's pray for better days over the weekend.

martes, febrero 06, 2007

"They're like the Viet Cong, they can wait it out"

This is one of the last lines in an article in today's Washington Post in which several members of the American army wonder why Iraqis are so hostile to them. It is those two sentences that say it all....America will lose this one. But what exactly is the criteria for victory?

Does victory happen when more Iraqis get killed than Americans? If that's true, let the army come home, because they won pretty much from the get-go. Does victory happen when there are no more terrorists in the world? That's what Bush seems to hope to achieve, and that would indeed be a great thing, but it will unfortunately never happen. If it does, that's because someone went back in time to the sixties in their De Lorean and schooled the US on how not to support dictators in the Middle East and then supply them with the weapons to fight each other and on how to just leave other countries alone in general. Seems to me that the US just really wants to expand its sphere of influence, so to speak, and get yet a whole other region of the world to do whatever it wants. That most definitely will not happen, and the Middle East is the wrong place to go looking for cooperation. But even if that does happen, it will be a flash in the pan kind of thing. Bush has only to look at what's happening in Latin America to know that if you push hard enough, one day, even the friendly ones turn on you. And the US can't help but push.

Here are a few ways in which the US has been creating the war on terrorism for the past 40 or so years: The US set up the Shah of Iran way back in the day. Once the Iranians got tired of the Shah, many attached themselves to the Ayatollah Khomeini, who's main selling point, like some of the leftist leaders of today, was hatred of the US. That sounded good to most Iranians and they went along with his revolution, and thousands of America-hating terrorists were created, as were the conditions under which Iran would continue to support Hamas and Hezbollah to take care of the western part of the region. Oh, and wipe Israel off the face of the earth (which makes me wonder if Ahmadinejad wants to wipe out Israel because most Israelis are Jewish, because they "stole" Arab land, or because he want to piss off the US?). So, when Saddam wanted to go to war to get at Iran's oilfields, the US, in their playground rivalry, decided to give Saddam all sorts of tanks and jets and things and even went to the Gulf to help him fight the Iranians (maybe that's why Reagan couldn't recall what he did with the weapons he supposedly sold off in the eighties: he gave them all to Iraq). A battered Iran finally gave up the war effort, and thousands more terrorists were created. By the way, this all happened about 3 years before the US went to get Saddam out of Kuwait, which created more terrorists. You see that even the first Gulf war was not the first time the US "had relations" with Saddam's Iraq. After all, the US put Saddam there in the first place. Remember the feel-good image of Rumsfeld hugging Saddam and telling him that the priority was to kick Iranian ass? And so what if he was gassing the Kurds? According to Rummy, he could go ahead and do that and the US would later use the WMD thing to their advantage. Pretty cunning.

Fast forward to Bush the Minor. He insists that the US had a huge hand in "free" elections in Lebanon and Palestine, and of course, Iraq. He just neglected to mention that in these elections, the very terrorists he hopes to rid the world of were put in power by the people. He also failed to point out that after the Lebanese elections, there was that little skirmish with the Israelis, who the US supports without question, which put a bit of a wrench in the whole "democratization" plan. Why is it that terrorists are in power in those countries? I'm guessing because one of their main selling points was hatred of the US. And what does Bush do instead? Blame the Iranians for supporting Hamas and Hezbollah. So its sort of a maze that goes around and around and sort of comes back full circle. I realize that there are many other events and countries that are to blame for what's happening in the Middle East today, but the best example is the US, just because a) it's quite ironic that the US is so ardently fighting what it helped to create, and b) they play these games all the time and apparently have not learned a single thing from their experiences. If it didn't mean hundreds of thousands of people would die, the US' shenanigans would be really funny. The stuff of movies like Canadian Bacon or something.

Read the Post article. I really find these types of articles, where the troops on the ground get to tell their side of the story, a lot more interesting than stories about Bushco greedily wringing their hands and plotting and planning.

lunes, febrero 05, 2007

Rewriting the Constitution, Part 53 of the Mini-series

According to an article in today's Washington Post, Judd Gregg, Republican Senator from New Hampshire, has put forth a resolution stating that, according to our Constitution (how cute of them to pull it out when they need it!) Congress "has the responsibility" to fund Bush's war, or rather, Congress has the responsibility to make us take out our wallets and fund Bush's war.

That's a load of crap, and he should know that from Civics class back in high school.

According to Article 1 Section 8 of the Constitution of the United States:

"The Congress shall have power…To declare war, grant letters of marque and reprisal, and make rules concerning captures on land and water; To raise and support armies, but no appropriation of money to that use shall be for a longer term than two years; To provide and maintain a navy; To make rules for the government and regulation of the land and naval forces…"

I didn't see anything in there about "responsibility" to do anything. Did you? The fact is, Congress has as much power now to declare this war over as they did when they gave Bush our billions last time around. But the problem is always consensus and looking good in the upcoming elections, and the latter is what will dictate the outcome. Let me note here, and I am most proud to do so, that the resolution of opposition to Bush's troop increase was largely drafted by a Republican, Sen. John Warner of the great state of Virginia, the suburbia of my youth.

lunes, enero 29, 2007

Inconvenient Truths

Over the weekend, I saw An Inconvenient Truth and Road to Guantanamo. The latter is about a group of young British men (boys, really) of Pakistani origins who, while travelling through Pakistan and Afghanistan post-9/11, were picked up and taken to Guantanamo. It documents their travels, capture and stay at Guantanamo, which was about two years, with no proven reason for detainment, which is the condition under which most detainees were and are held. Truth needs no explanation.

In Truth, it was said that the US beats out all other countries in terms of releasing pollutants into the air. The US is also, of course, the most lax country in the world in instituting regulations and policies on environmental issues. The good news is that many states and cities are taking the initiative in this regard, and New York City is one of them, although some days you wouldn't know it to breath the air here! But what really got me was how quickly the damage is being done. The fact that we could have longer, hotter summers in my lifetime really scares me, as does the fact that my current apartment may soon be underwater along with the whole of lower Manhattan, not to mention the thought that my kids might have to wear gas masks every time they go outside. I KNOW that Con Ed and other energy services, which are ill-equipped to handle even today's demands, are not at all going to be able to handle the future.

I had to keep telling myself that Guantanamo, while largely the truth about the boys' experiences, may have been embellished a little for effect, not that embellishment was needed. I also realize that theirs may not be the worst of the stories that have come from former Guantanamo detainees. Moreover, I know that the US has yet to corner the market on torture and that many countries do worse. I think we all know that the US government ships their terror suspects to the countries that have made torture their chief export.

I don't have the words to express how embarrassing it is for me, as an American, to be associated with the American military and government. I guess Bob Herbert was right in his editorial about how we are not guilty enough, so scratch everything I said about that. It does seem a shame that we so easily go on with our lives when people are being detained and tortured and worse at the hands of our countrymen and women, especially when those men and women run around the world talking about how they are going to set examples for other, less "democratic" folk.

And here comes the outrageous comment: almost every American president has had an attempt on his life. Most countries have coup d'etats in their histories. Why hasn't someone tried to kill Bush, and why hasn't there been some junta or something to overthrow the government? Be assured, if I had the means to do the latter, I would definitely try it. That would be worth going to prison, to save my country from this regime. But spending the rest of my life in jail for offing white trash, only to leave another in his place? No way.

jueves, enero 25, 2007

Flying Children

Just a note to say that, last night, I heard that an AirTran flight was delayed because a little 3 year old wouldn't sit down, and mommy was too squeamish to make her. Eventually, however, they were thrown off the plane.

My personal experience with flying children: on a TEN HOUR flight from Buenos Aires to New York, I had a lovely man set his child in one of the two empty seats next to me so he could lay down and sleep. This kid must have been having some of those dreams where you feel like you're falling and then you physically stop yourself, because by the time I got off that plane, I had a nice little bruise on the side of my right thigh. And don't think I didn't say something to the father, who just smiled and said "He's only two." So I sicked the flight attendants on him and that was that.

I've just read comments from parents on a blog written by someone at the Washington Post about traveling with children. One comment says something like "let he who has never been a child cast the first stone". Oh come on now. Not for nothing, but I was a well-behaved child, mostly because I knew from a very early age that I would get my little ass whooped if I played too much. This is not at all to say that I was scared of my parents. On the contrary, I had a wonderful childhood, with wonderful parents, and often dream of being three again, and sometimes even act accordingly, dare I admit. When I was a kid travelling to Guatemala, Pan Am had a direct flight from Dulles to La Aurora, a good 4 hour flight. I asked my mom last night after seeing the AirTran bit if I ever resisted and/or misbehaved on the plane. She said "No, Mariposa, you were the best baby. Adult, I'm not so sure." I am sure this is because if I started to act up, mommy would give me the stare, and I would dutifully take my seat and laugh and giggle the whole way. I bet the thought of the marimbas that used to greet us at La Aurora definitely eased any tensions I may have had. I think the worst thing I did as a kid was hide inside the clothing racks when my mom dragged me to Garfinckel's, not that mom noticed until she almost went home without me one day.

So, yeah, the point....Kids are such little brats nowadays. But it's not their fault, and for all you parents that throw up your hands and say "Oh, she's only 2" when the lovely lady in the plane-seat next to your kid complains that your little angel is kicking her, know this: IT'S YOUR FAULT. Yes, that's right, I am thirty, single and childless and offering parenting advice. Do you want to stop getting dirty looks from strangers because you can't won't make your kids shut the hell up? Find a way to make them shut up without hurting them. Let them know that there are consequences for their actions, for one thing, and let them have some ownership of the crap they pull. AND....FOLLOW THROUGH and make good on whatever threat you issue them. If you don't instill in your kids a sense of morality, decency and responsibility early on, you'll have incorrigible little imps on your hands who will only grow up and get worse and become horrible, impish adults. And the cycle will continue with your grandchildren. So, parents, save yourselves, stop being so fucking squeamish with your kids. Give them discipline and they'll thank you later. Take it from someone who thanks her mother under her breath every time she passes some crotchety asshole on the street.

To illustrate my point, here's one from Overheard in New York:
Kid yelling: What are we doing after dinner? [Parents ignore him] What are we doing after dinner?!
Mom, calmly: Stop yelling, or I'll have to kill you.

--10th St, between Broadway & University

Some suggestions for NYC Nightlife

First, read this article about a bar in the East Village called Heathers, which is a small after-hours space that doubles as an art gallery. On weekends, there is even a brunch that doubles as an art auction. Yet, some neighbors with nothing better to do, armed with their $1100 sound meter, anxiously call 311 (NYC complaint line) to whine whenever the level on said meter goes up (check out their picture in the article and you'll see of what I preach). The fact that the owner of Heathers is a cute little momma from Rockville, MD (my old hood, by extension) is not what influences my opinion. In fact, I hate the East Village with a passion and never go there unless I have a dinner date at Momofuku Noodle Bar, my favorite, drinks at the Telephone Bar or Dojo's on St. Marks. The reason: hipsters. I know most of them have up and gone to Williamsburg, but still. And these little boutiques that offer great-looking merchandise, expensive as hell though it is, until you realize that you will have to lose your lunch for the next week to get into anything south of Houston. What does influence my opinion in this particular case is that the purpose of Heathers is to revive the art scene of the early eighties, which is a very worthy cause. I also like the idea of there being a nice, warm, cozy spot in which to gather. Honestly, I have yet to go there, but I will soon, as I imagine it is the kind of spot where a patron will not be judged unkindly because their outfit is not black.

My first suggestion is directed at the neighbors, particularly the ones I mentioned, armed with their little sound meter. Sirs, you live in a neighborhood chock full of bars and restaurants and clubs. No one ever said New York City was "a nice place to live". It's rough and you have to put up with all kinds of shit you wouldn't tolerate anywhere else. A lot of people in NYC live near rattling subways, on busy main streets and avenues, near congested bridges, etc. I am also surprised that after paying East Village rents you still have $1100 left over to spend on a sound meter. My guess is that you are the same guys who, instead of doing a full days work, sit on milk crates in front of the corner bodega and eat Bear Claws all day, getting your money from the State one way or another.

My second suggestion is to those who want a quieter, more sane atmosphere for your watering hole, or what have you: do not admit Meatheads. Meatheads are extraordinarily stupid men, usually Bridge and Tunnel and sometimes with Jersey or Staten Island accents, who like to "throw their weight around" a lot and just generally be obnoxious. This would also make your women patrons feel much safer and improve the quality of those they decide to take home for the evening (because some girls need help making decisions). Although this rule, if followed, might put most Murray Hill bars out of business (sorry, Swandad), it wouldn't be much of a loss, trust me. The Meatheads will find other spots closer to home and other women to threaten.

Third suggestion: Don't let people drink until they vomit all over the bar. Prevention, people. Learn, live, love.

Fourth suggestion: For the love of Pete, let people smoke in bars! That way, they won't congregate outside and yell and scream and whatnot. You realize that noise on the streets was never that big of a problem until the City instituted the smoking ban in bars and kicked everybody to the curb.

Really, it's not like NYC is some old school Havana, with gambling and high-class hookers and whatnot (OK, it is, but only a little). But it's not meant to become an old-folks home either. New Yorkers love the status of their city as the cosmopolitan center of the universe. This means that the nightlife the city is famous for must be kept in tact. If you can't take the heat, get out of the fucking kitchen!

PS - I just had to include this little anecdote from Overheard in New York:

Young woman running up platform, slamming into tourist lady: Damn fucking tourists! Get the fuck out of my way!
Tourist lady: Excuse me, what?
Young woman: Don't be 'what'-ing me. I just gave you a New-fucking-York experience. You should be thanking me.

--Subway station, 42nd St

miércoles, enero 24, 2007

The Fool

The Fool is the tarot card Wonkette put on their site to describe you-know-who. Why?
Well, the why's are obvious, in this case. But today, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, headed up by Joe Biden of Delaware ("Hi....I'm in Delaware"), basically told Bush to go to hell. In their words, the escalation of troops was "not in the national interest."

On another note, the New York Times has put up on their site a "state of the Union in Words" thing-um-a-bob where you can see how many times Bush uttered a particular word in the State of the Union speech last night. Oh goodie! Now I can play Wonkette's SOTU drinking game even though I didn't watch the show. Note here that "Iraq/Iraqis" was uttered way more than "hope", "freedom", "social security", "insurance" and "economy" combined. "Balanced budget" was not even mentioned at all. How sad.

martes, enero 23, 2007

This time it's in North Korea

Check this article from the Washington Times about the latest UN scandal. UNDP runs various projects in North Korea, and people are saying that Kim Jong Il is benefiting from it all. Fox News (which is only kinda sorta news) is screaming about how US taxpayers unknowingly facilitated N. K's nuke test last September. Be glad I didn't link the Heritage Foundation article, or shall I say, "research paper", about how the US should rush in and fix everything. It's really vomit-worthy. Funny...if the US government really wants the UN out of its hair, why do they insist that the UN is their problem to solve?

I won't split hairs and talk about how self-righteous every one's being, accusing the UN of being corrupt by definition, and how pots are constantly calling kettles black. I do agree, very much so, that the UN is in dire need of reforms, and increasing oversight of its projects is foremost. I often wonder about this place and some of the smarminess that exists here, although I still think that, generally, the UN does outstanding work (and that's not just because I work here), or it desperately, desperately wants to. It's a huge organization with many different agencies and offices and a lot on its collective plate, and the issues are not easily dealt with, as if the UN could sweep in and solve it all in a couple of days, like everyone thinks it can. Regarding the scandals, one must consider that, given the UN's size and scope, it really is hard to keep up with a couple of corrupt Cypriots, or wherever the corrupters hail from this time around.

Also check out this response to Wall Street Journal articles about UNDP's activities in North Korea from the Under-Secretary Geenral of the agency. It may also shed some light on the fact that the UN does not and cannot operate without the support of member States. More often than not, this includes the United States. Let us consider this in light of all the US's bellyaching.

viernes, enero 19, 2007

Parking Diplomats

One of my very faithful readers asked me to give "an insider's" opinion on the Diplomatic parking issue. All sorts of grumbles and gripes have surfaced, as well as whole research papers on "the Culture of Corruption", of which the parking issue is but one manifestation. First of all, check out the following stats, taken from the World Bank PSD blog:

A certain amount of corruption is grounded in culture and immune to carrots and sticks.

Scandinavian countries, which perennially rank among the least corrupt in the corruption index, had the fewest unpaid tickets. There were just 12 from the 66 diplomats from Finland, Norway, Denmark and Sweden. Almost all of these tickets went to one bad Finn.

Chad and Bangladesh, at the bottom of the corruption index, were among the worst scofflaws. They shirked 1,243 and 1,319 tickets, respectively, in spite of the fact that their UN missions were many times smaller than those of the Scandinavians.

But the above facts should be balanced with this, part of an article from CNN:

"After two hours, I come back to find a ticket on my car and another diplomatic car, but not on a nondiplomatic car," said Emilia Castro de Barish, the U.N. delegate from Costa Rica.

Let's consider that the City is taking unofficial revenge for this drama. A host of New Yorkers, liberal as they claim to be, want to see the UN leave New York. In other words, they are all for its existence, but not in their back yard, which sounds quite familiar, given that some who clamor for solar and wind power then don't want to have the solar panels or the windmills installed anywhere near their houses. Let us also consider the possibility that if/when the UN goes, a little bit of NYC's rep as the cosmopolitan center of the universe might go with it, seeing as the UN has been in and around NYC since its beginnings in 1947. In my opinion, the UN should stay in NYC, but if it does go, I'm certainly not going with it. I'm staying right here. Now if another RepubliCON usurps the presidency, that's another story.

I heard on NY1 that the Egyptians are among the worst offenders, or "scofflaws", as they say, and the Russians are the worst. Those Russians have this weird devil-may-care kind of mentality. They smoke on the conference room floor of the UN building and they have this non-chalant thing, like they take bong hits and drink vodka all day. And then all of a sudden we hear of one of them banging a shoe on his table at the General Assembly (I'm not necessarily talking about Kruschev, another Russian did that just recently). And let me just mention here, I looooove hearing them speak. They could be talking about their bouts with diarrhea and it still sounds romantic! I'm surprised that diplomats from the poorer African and Asian countries can afford to have fleets of diplomatic cars. I take comfort in the fact that most Latin American mission personnel take the subway/commuter train, I see more than a few every morning, so this parking ticket issue ain't our fault.

Of course these missions should pay up. After all, diplomats get the big bucks, especially when compared to workers in their own countries. Plus, they have all kinds of access to government money. I know the actual UN building is considered international territory, as are the missions (each one is apparently considered national territory, despite the fact that they are located in and are property of the City). That doesn't mean that their cars are also international territory. I realize diplomats are supposed to have all sorts of immunities, but the fact that they live here must be considered, and as they are adults, or reasonable facsimiles thereof, they should show more respect for their host city. In any case, I'm sure this problem exists everywhere there are diplomats, especially in DC, and as always, the UN is singled out simply because it is the UN and it is everyone's favorite scapegoat. That's not to say that the City should let the tickets slide. Giuliani, in his day, was busy showing us just how big his dick was and saying "I'm not a mayor who is easily threatened," and if the UN wanted to leave because of parking tickets (just a stupid thing to even think), he could easily come up with other uses for the land. But Bloomberg is a lap dog who likes to run around with a big stick in his mouth, playing fetch with Washington and barking tough, so I'm anxious to see if he does anything at all, which he most probably will not unless Bush tells him to.

jueves, enero 18, 2007

The UN, Marriage and Iraq - We are not upset enough

The new UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-Moon of South Korea, was in Washington over the past couple of days to meet with Bush. The SG asked for the US's support in the UN's peacekeeping operations. I promise to swallow 5 raw egg yolks while someone sticks flaming bamboo under my fingernails if that ever happens while Bush is in office. The NYT article says that the US is the biggest contributor to UN peacekeeping funds. If you ask around, most people, including both liberal and conservative media outlets, will say the US is the leading contributor to the UN in general, as well as its agencies. According to my father, who used to work as a Project Manager for the UN Pan American Health Organization, we need to think in terms of per capita contributions, and in that sense, the Nordic countries, Norway in particular, beat out the US by far. For one, Norway is one of the leading contributors to the UN Peacebuilding Fund, followed by Sweden and Denmark, while the US has yet to pledge anything at all, not even a paperclip. Let us also consider the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) fiasco a few years back, in which the US and newly elected Bush Co. decided to halt funding to the agency due to agency's family planning programs in China. Bush was convinced they were preaching abortion, when of course they were not, because it was absolutely not feasible to preach abortion in the countryside where people hardly have access to regular doctors. The US is almost always an obstacle to the UN's progress in so many ways, it is almost impossible to count. They didn't even want to form the Peacebuilding Commission (where I work now), even though my old boss, who was at the US mission to the UN when the Commission was formed, took full credit on behalf of the US for creating it.

There is an editorial in today's NYT (Times Select, so I can't link...sorry) about the way that some people "revere it too highly. They put it on a pedestal, or as Andrew Cherlin of Johns Hopkins puts it, they regard marriage not as the foundation of adult life, but as the capstone." As for me, marriage is neither "the foundation of adult life", nor is it "the capstone". I know that marriage will not make or break me. I do plan on it, for now at least, because for me it is a fulfillment of one of my purposes, which is to give somebody unconditional love and support and to get it back from that person. I realize that I don't have to get married to do this, but it would be nice, and I'd like to have a proper family situation for my kids. But even with a husband, that is a huge gamble. Perhaps tradition influences me in this regard. But I've seen so many reasons NOT to get married: the first is my own parents. There is a huge difference between two people being the best of friends and admiring each other for and being a married couple. They don't necessarily translate. Sometimes it happens that before you marry someone, you get along great and laugh and have a great time, although he is grumpy most times and can be a bit of a bore. Then 20 years down the line, you are still married, and and you realize his problem got worse as he got older and now he is always grumpy and virtually lacks a pulse. Then you start to rationalize the union by saying, "but he's such a good man," while acknowledging that you are rotting inside from lack of activity and from having to take responsibility for a man that hesitates to do it for himself. She has to cater to his wants, but he doesn't have to and will not go out of his way for her. I also don't like the concept of having to hide the things you bought on your latest shopping spree because hubby will get mad. I'm not so into the "fearing the husband" thing. I agree that a couple needs to compromise in most regards including finances, but enough is enough. I don't want to have to "report" to anyone I don't work for. I've seen couples where one will by a house while the spouse is out of town and others where one has to be away from the spouse a certain amount of days during the week in order to tolerate being married to her. None of these are idyllic situations to me, so I understand the hunt will be long and arduous, and in the end, I may end up getting married at 65 or not at all. I think what bothers me more is how my family will react if I don't marry. I wouldn't have the time to be miserable about that, and I don't understand anyone who would, because there are so many other things with which to be concerned. But whatever happens, I'm not going to get all Charlotte-from-Sex-and-the-City about it and make my friends set me up and leave them 50 nasty messages on their answering machines when they do not fulfill their promise. But I always keep in mind that Charlotte ended up marrying a chubby, Jewish (she was Episcopalian) divorce lawyer who she even converted for, so that goes to show that the impossible can quickly become possible (even quicker if you exist in a sitcom).

There is another op-ed in the NYT by Bob Herbert (which I cannot link either), who is getting on my nerves lately. In it, he cites Martin Luther King Jr.'s assertion that “He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it. He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it." I absolutely agree with that. Herbert states that too many people are more concerned with getting MLK day off work than with the lessons he was trying to teach. I absolutely agree with that too. There are too many ignorant idiots running around trying to get holidays off work without understanding what those holidays mean. But the main theme of Herbert's column is that Americans are not outraged enough over Iraq and other issues, such as New Orleans. It is easy for those whose job it is to sit in front of the computer and knock out two weekly op-eds to criticize people for different things. It's easy for me, even though it is not my job, but at least I only criticize people who deserve it. I think there are many, especially in NYC, who would be outraged with Herbert. While it is true that there has not been as much protest over Iraq as there was over Vietnam, there has been considerable protest, in the streets, at home, on blogs and websites, in the news, even from the government itself. There was protesting against the Iraq war before the invasion/occupation even started. There was protesting against Bush the minute he usurped the presidency. There was protest about Bushco's lack of movement when Katrina happened and in its aftermath. It needs to be considered that we are living in different times and people have different mindsets. The government is different, and before the war even started it was widely known that any protest would fall on deaf ears and the government would go ahead with their plans anyway, just as they did even after most of their rationale was found to be a lie. Revolution is not so present in people's minds as it used to be, and maybe Herbert would have a point if he said that people, for the most part, are more resigned these days. But there's a lot of outrage to be witnessed, and I think Herbert is retreating into a world of his own lately. Plus, I don't think he's leaving his desk to do anything but go home at the end of the day.

miércoles, enero 17, 2007

From the midst of dust and drilling

Today (and probably tomorrow as well), I have to work through dust, drilling, walkie talkies and steel beams dropped carelessly by UN construction guys, not to mention a lot of unnecessary grunts and belches, right in my ear. Not only that, but the guys seem to think that our desks are extensions of their offices and use the phones, have very loud conversations and leave their things on our desks. Why do I have to go through this? For two reasons that I've touched on already: Firstly, UN stinginess - They no longer want to pay overtime to their workers, meaning construction doesn't happen on the weekends or at night. It is done during the workday. At least the Professionals (I hate calling them that, because most of them are anything but professional, so they will heretofore be referred to as "bullshitters". I very humbly think that the people who continually have to clean up Professional messes are the REAL Professionals) have their doors to close. But the ones in our office are not doing that, perhaps in a show of solidarity, which is mighty nice of them. Second, it is the bullshitters who have not even come on board yet who have demanded complete offices. One guy who is technically a part of our office is holding onto his old room because "it is much bigger" than any office we could offer him on our floor, and he is at the Director level and should not have to cram himself into a tiny space, blah, blah, blah. Everywhere else I have worked, you just go in and sit wherever they tell you and only the BIG boss gets the nice digs, not the guy who is only sort of high up the totem pole. It is only at the UN that you can accept or reject a contract to work based solely on accommodations or lack thereof. Let us keep in mind that one office costs around $20,000 to build. So there are $40,000 being spent right next to me, and I have no part in it. At least these construction guys aren't showing their ass-cracks.

The news is out that Sen. Barack Obama has formed a presidential exploratory committee. Many think that this means he will definitely run, and those people are already making bets as to who will win the nomination: Barack or Hillary. Conservatives are already discussing which of them has the least experience. I think experience is valuable, but long-range, strategic planning, surrounding oneself with the necessary expertise and ideas, not to mention compassion and an excellent understanding of the principles on which this country was built coupled with the intention to keep those principles in tact are much more important than knowing "where the bodies are buried". I believe that a lot of people back in the day were saying the same things about JFK, that he was inexperienced, that he was riding on daddy's coat-tails (if they only knew what was to come!), etc. And he beat the crap out of Nixon and won anyway, and went down in American history as one of our best presidents, while Nixon went down in history as a criminal, Ford's pardon notwithstanding. Funny how it's always Republiconservatives who end up with bad reputations that last until after they die.

If Barack does run, I will be among the first to volunteer to work on his campaign. I don't care if I have to wake up early on a Saturday and lick stamps until my tongue turns blue. I've never felt so strongly about a candidate, and in such a positive, almost dreamy kind of way. Not even my hatred of Bush is so strong, although it would seem so because I am so loud about it. But remember, Shakespeare (and my dad) said "speak low, if you speak love." I think that's a good enough explanation.

martes, enero 16, 2007


Yesterday was Martin Luther King, Jr's birthday (observed). I was summoned to work, as were the rest of the UN staff, because it is not considered a UN holiday. This is not a campaign to get the day off so I can sleep late. I just wanted to point out, in case you didn't hear me before, that the UN's problems are so deep-seated, they even extend to the schedule of holidays around these parts.

First of all, MLK, one of history's foremost leaders in promoting civil and human rights, is not honored. Not only did we not get the holiday, there were no activities, no presentations, no vigils, no nothing to commemorate the day, even though the UN consistently preaches civil and human rights. Needless to say (although I'm saying it now), these cannot be promoted in such a half-assed way. Let me give you an even more aggravating example of the UN's fault in this particular area: in my old office, the Director will not speak to the human rights advisor, because the advisor had the nerve to make some suggestions, and then, um, emphasize them, because the Director seemed a bit reluctant to implement the suggestions, or so I heard. Rather than take human rights into consideration, since one of the resolutions that mandates that office is a human rights resolution, the Director got his knickers in a bunch because the advisor had not shown enough respect. That's the other thing about the UN that may one day help to bring it down: the "professional" category staff (aka, those with a masters in bullshit) are so busy making sure they have windows in their offices, slaves to arrange their desks for them and that they never have to get their hands dirty, they almost forget that they actually have a job to do. Mo' money, mo' complaining. Cry me a river. As for the "support staff", we are relegated to dark cubicles where we do not have access to the fundamental human rights of quasi-fresh air and daylight. I know this is an omnipresent situation, and I keep trying to get the General Assembly to pass a resolution on that, but they just won't listen.

Back to the holiday issue....We are having a President's day this year. In past years, the Sundance channel has shown anti-Bush documentaries, which is a great way to commemorate the day. You know, showing what a president ought NOT to do. Despite this, why in hell do we celebrate a couple of dead American presidents and not MLK? Because whatever the US mission wants, it has to get, and they're not big on human rights and MLK either.

Eid is meant to mark the beginning and end of Ramadan. I can respect this, as they are days of religious significance, and I will welcome the day off so I can go to the DMV and wait all day to have my ID renewed (and a new photo taken, thank the Lord). In terms of religious holidays, why is it that we only have Catholic and Muslim holidays off? What about the Jewish high holidays? In the interest of equality among races, religions and creeds, another principle the UN injects into everything it does, or says it will do, we should at least rotate religions yearly. But no. Every year, we can count on the Eid's and Good Friday, or at least one Eid and a President's Day.

But there is one day out of the year I am so glad the UN does not consider a holiday: Columbus Day. And if you haven't read far back enough in my posts to know why I hate that day, I'd be more than happy to repeat myself. Why should I observe a holiday which falls around the time some Italian guy turned his back on his country and went to work for Spain made a right at the Canary Islands instead of a left and "discovered" an already populated island, thereby kicking off decades of mass murder and conquest? Like I always say, the conquest was the decimation of a culture by a group of heathens done for no other reason than that culture far surpassed their own. Oh, but they gave us the Spanish language, people say. How big of them. I would be just as happy speaking Nahuatl or Tzutujil Maya.

jueves, enero 11, 2007

A Man Makes a Plan

First of all, happy new year to you all! Hope your holidays/breaks from work were good. As for me, I mostly relaxed with the parents, got my hair done, ate 3 Christmas dinners and graduated from my mom's cooking school. And I realized that American Airlines suck, and if ever you are travelling from New York City to a domestic location, do not do it out of or into JFK. That place is a mess. Not only are there horrid delays, but once you do get to land, the plane has to tour the airport and over a highway to get to the gate, then you have to walk about a mile to get your luggage. I'm going back to the train thing. The plane is no longer the cheaper or faster option for travel to DC.

Last night, Bush made a little speech, in which he finally admitted that he was/is accountable for any mistake made in Iraq. Of course, he had no idea what it was he was taking the blame for, which pretty much cancelled out the whole thing. But the glory of his revelation was cut short when he unveiled his new plan for the war: send over 21,500 more troops. With what money? Ours, natch. What do you do when you make a wrong turn? Gun it, so that it will be even harder to find your way back. Eighty per cent of the violence in Iraq goes on in Baghdad, so says Bush. The solution is to secure Baghdad (which begs the question, what in the hell did we shell out all that money last time around for anyway?). And we'll be footing the bill for that too, in terms of both cash and humans.

But there's this new obstacle: the Democrats. Bush will have to try and get his plan past Rangel and Company in Ways and Means. I read a New York magazine article about him last night, and he doesn't seem like the forgiving pushover type to me. I think we should be in for a good fight.