Saturday, August 19, 2006

In Glenda's Garden

I was out watering the zinnias late yesterday afternoon and noticed that there were 4 or 5 monarch butterflies, a hummingbird and numerous bees buzzing around in the garden,

If it hadn't been 103 degrees, I'm sure I would have appreciated that idyllic scene even more. There is also a honeybee in the purple ruellia, which proliferates somewhat like bamboo.

Many of the monarchs pass through Texas on their way to winter over in Mexico, where they can be seen lounging on the beaches with tiny sombreros.

You see, the problem is not getting into Mexico, but getting back out, as the border will be heavily guarded by the nonmonarchistas who claim that these butterflies are taking work away from American butterflies.

But you and I know that all butterflies work hard in this country no matter where they come from and the real ones profiting are the corporations, whom no one really likes to talk about.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Apple admits excessive iPod hours

File under, Hey, I love my Mac and my iPod as much as the next person, but...!

and creates the iCowpod,
boosting the economy
as well as
the sales forecast for Apple Computer!

Think this is farfetched?

Apple admits excessive iPod hours

Apple iPod
The iPod is the world's most popular MP3 player
"Apple Computer has said a report of labour conditions at its iPod plant in China found workers did more than 60 hours a week a third of the time.

Staff making the world's most popular MP3 player also worked more than six consecutive days 25% of the time.

Apple said the hours were "excessive" and said its supplier would now be enforcing a "normal" 60-hour week.

The California-based firm said its report found "no evidence of enforced labour" or use of child workers."

OK, does anyone here want to sign up for a "NORMAL" 60 hour work week? Because you know they would do it here if they could. So what is the real problem here?

A report in England's "Mail on Sunday"alleged the plant's workers make roughly the equivalent of $100 per month and often worked 15-hour days, showing photos of dormitories where workers, mostly young women, sleep 100 to a room, and of stark cement buildings from behind high chain-link fences that resemble what we in the West call prisons.

Is the problem that the working conditions are so bad, the hours too long? Is it that Apple allegedly was slow in investigating these claims, perhaps hoping that the furor would die down?

Is the real problem that China and many poor nations have a gross oversupply of non-skilled labour? Lack of education? So when the only choice for poor Chinese women is working in horrid factory conditions or working as a prostitute, what are we to do?

If we boycott the product, does it help these workers? If we all write and demand that Apple and other corporations begin to set better working conditions, does this make a difference?

Will corporations begin to treat workers in poor countries better when their eye is on the stock price and short-term gains? What creates change? Tell me, how do we solve this moral dilemma? What helps poor workers pull themselves up when there is no bootstrap?

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Jon Benet Ramsy's Killer Caught??

Is it possible? Did they really catch the guy who killed Jon Benet Ramsey?? Hot DAMN!!!

Jon Benet was found, murdered in her family's home in December of 1996. She was just 6 years old. I was working as a therapist at a Rape Crisis Center when the news came out about her murder. I thought, as many did, that it had to be someone in the family or someone who knew the family. It usually is. But not always.

There are serial sex offenders, especially pedophiles who stalk their victims or become obsessed with a certain type of victim. A lot of my friends speculated that when the Ramseys made her into a sterotypical "sex symbol" child, they painted a target on her back. There were even rumors that the Ramseys were protecting her brother, and that he was the killer. No one really knew what to think.

Although I am still in the field, it is at a statewide level. These days I think a lot about prevention. Before we can work on preventing this crime, we need to have a better understanding about why people commit sexual assault.

Please tell me, if you will, your opinion: why do you think a person does this? What makes a person rape another person?

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Madame Chiang Kaishek's Kimono

LeftofCenter and Lily asked me to tell this story over at The Blue Republic a while back, and I am reprinting it here for those of you who might wish to read this story.

This is the story of how I came to be in possession of what I believe is Madame Chiang Kaishek's kimono.

My grandmother's younger brother, a rogue and a rascal, was one of the most colorful figures I ever met. We called him Uncle Henri. He was born just after the turn of the last century in New Orleans in the French Quarter, the son of a Frenchman and and Irish mother. When I was a child, he lived all over the world, although he swooped into Texas for holidays and visits.

During World War II, he was a codebreaker and photographer in the Navy because he was gifted with a near perfect memory, one of the better genes that somehow missed me. He could remember the details from a newspaper article he'd read years before and summon up dates and names. The MoMA in San Francisco has a collection of his black and white photographs, as he lived there in his later years.

During WWII, he was on the deck of the Battleship Arizona when it was bombed in Pearl Harbor. Few survived that day. I have Kodachrome slides that he took of the ships and aircraft carriers and navy personnel in Hawaii right before the bombing. Because he was topside that Sunday morning, attending Mass, he survived. He said he helped the priest give Communion to dying soldiers before the ship went down.

He lived in Copenhagen and Italy some years in the 1950s, brokered grain deals between the Pope and Nassar of Egypt, but before that he was in China.

Shortly after the end of World War II, China was engulfed in a full-fledged civil war. It was won in 1949 by the communists, led by Chairman Mao, with the old leader, Chiang Kaishek and the remnants of the Kuomintang fleeing to Taiwan where they were protected from annihilation by a US naval blockade.

This was where my Uncle Henri came in. He was living in China by the end of the war. He worked for IBM, supposedly, but my grandmother said he was really in China as an American spy.

My Uncle Henri told me this part of his story when he was still alive.

He said that when Chiang Kaishek was routed by the Communists, he came to my uncle and asked for help. My uncle went to the American Embassy and somehow obtained a white Cadillac and gave it to Chiang Kaishek for his escape. My uncle said the General was so grateful that he gave him one of his wife's best kimonos.

I showed this kimono to my friend Hong once when she was over for dinner. Hong grew up in China and is an engineer here. She was quite stunned when she saw it. She said it was not a kimono that an "ordinary Chinese person" would have, the workmanship and silk embroidery is too elaborate. She also told me that it is not one that would have been made for mass consumption.

So here is the question...was my uncle telling the truth? Is this really the kimono of Madame Chiang Kaichek?

Monday, August 14, 2006

Keeping Austin Weird

You see, more of the weirdness I live with!

Austin FreakNEWS from the Austin Chronicle:

This was the scene during last week's First Thursday festivities, as neighbors mounted a singing demonstration in front of the South Congress Cafe, protesting the upscale Trudy's spin-off's prolonged refusal to comply with city code centering around an illegally built deck and fence erected atop a city sidewalk – all constructed despite four city stop- work orders.

The city plans to take Trudy's back to court after the business failed to meet the terms of a deferred adjudication agreement made following an initial lawsuit last year. Hard-hat-clad neighbors sang Sixties protest anthems, reworded to decry the eatery's injustices. "We're directing our collective frustration in a creative, South Austin way," said nearby resident Kathie Tovo.
Here's where it got weird.

At about the same time, a handful of fire-and-brimstone evangelicals arrived carrying signs depicting the damned engulfed in the flames of hell, and a dozen or so performers gorily made-up as zombies, advertising a new production, limped past the protest, completely bewildering passers by and creating a freaky scene of Village People meets Rocky Horror Picture Show. "This is so South Congress," someone said.

Just another day in Austin.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Tour of Texas, Signs of the Times

In honor of the fact that I have to drive to Dallas today and back tonight, I thought I would post some pictures of (mostly) rural Texas that I have gathered for your amusement, that you might understand better the climate that Bush was raised in and might even give you, perhaps, some small compassion for his mental impairment and emotional underdevelopment.

Cowboy funeral home.

Not a real speed trap, just a picture of one...perhaps the city budget was shy one police car.

Well, I really didn't have to see this!

Sign for the Knox City Golf Club.

Because Bar-B Que is messy.

We are proud that no child is left behind ...Conan the Barbarian, required reading in this school district.

Pralines, yum!

Almost a palace by Texas standards, entrance through the mouth of the shark.

There's a limo ride in your future at Budget Casket, because burying your loved ones is just too damned expensive!

Truth in advertising in Kyle Texas, just south of Austin.

Perhaps if the troops just drank more of this, they wouldn't have war fatigue.

Get in the swing, seriously.

Mosaic bug. This one's for Mary.

Fuzzy wuzzy was a bear...this is actually a bar in the middle of nowhere.

Pretty self-explanatory.

Ususally there is a gun shop inside as well.

This truck is actually the sign for Little Joe's baithouse.

You also can tell that Texans do love their flag motifs. The flag has the ability to show up on just about anything.