I just read this article on Russian officials destroying contraband food illegally smuggled into the country:
Authorities earlier this month started bulldozing piles of cheese, peaches and even frozen geese after Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the destruction of food smuggled into the country illegally.
Now police in the Moscow region say they have arrested six people for producing cheese worth some $30 million (27 million euros) with banned Western rennet, a substance containing enzymes used for cheese production.
Authorities “foiled the activities of an organised international criminal gang in the Moscow region whose members have for a long time been engaged in smuggling sanctioned products from abroad,” police spokeswoman Yelena Alekseeva said in a statement.
My first thought was WTF?! All that food could have helped feed many of the Russian citizens living in poverty. My second thought was “an international criminal gang that smuggles in food? What’s bad about that?”Those were still my thoughts even after I considered that maybe officials feared the food wasn’t inspected. After all, why couldn’t they simply inspect it? So I thought maybe there was some other reason-a really good one-to destroy that food. After all, the number of Russians living in poverty reached 16.1 million last year. I imagine all that food could have been of great use to many of them. I found this article by Russian political analyst Andrew Korybko which attempts to explain and justify the actions of the Russian government:
Continue reading “The lack of concern for Russian citizens by their own government is repugnant”
The word that Mrs. Bronson is unable to put into the hot, still, sodden air is ‘doomed,’ because the people you’ve just seen have been handed a death sentence. One month ago, the Earth suddenly changed its elliptical orbit
and in doing so began to follow a path which gradually, moment by moment, day by day, took it closer to the sun. And all of man’s little devices to stir up the air are now no longer luxuries – they happen to be pitiful and panicky keys to survival. The time is five minutes to twelve, midnight. There is no more darkness. The place is New York City
and this is the eve of the end, because even at midnight it’s high noon, the hottest day in history, and you’re about to spend it in the Twilight Zone.
That’s the opening narration to the ‘The Midnight Sun
‘, the 75th episode of the Twilight Zone, by host Rod Serling. The Twilight Zone was a popular USAmerican science fiction television show that ran from 1959 to 1964 (and saw several attempts at revivals over the decades, as well as a movie). This particular episode is one of my favorites as it involves an apocalyptic scenario in which humanity is helpless. All our intellect, our wits, our technology, our weapons-all of it is useless in the face of a catastrophe of global proportions. The episode served as a reminder that for all our power and accomplishments, for all our money and wealth, we are fragile creatures.
This episode came to mind today as I was giving thought to the ongoing culture wars in society. Progressives have been fighting for decades (longer than that, really) for marginalized people to be treated with fairness and equity. They have fought to extend the rights enjoyed by the majority-white, heterosexual, cisgender, able-bodied men-to everyone else. From the battle for women’s reproductive rights to the fight for LGBT equality to the ongoing crusade by the Black Lives Matter movement to dismantle systemic and structural racism, the culture wars have been fought on multiple fronts. And while some successes have been achieved (yay, LGB people can marry and oh look, some police departments are getting body cameras), there still continue to be setbacks (the reduction in abortion providers across the country and the lack of accountability of police officers around the nation). But not all such cultural battles occur on a national scale, nor do they all occur in meatspace. Some occur on a smaller, more private scale-the Internet. One such conflict-the push for greater diversity and inclusivity in the comic book industry (specifically at Marvel and DC)-has been brewing for a while now. Funny thing though, for all the pushback, it’s clear that just as Hollywood is making progressive strides, so too is the comic book industry. Of course, along with that progression comes the howling and screaming of those opposed to progress.
Continue reading “Such fragile egos these fanboys have”
From the use of excessive force to stealing drugs from suspects…from racial profiling to abusing the power of their badges…from sexually assaulting suspects to planting evidence…there is a never-ending stream of stories of law enforcement officials behaving irresponsibly, unethically, immorally, and/or criminally. Here are five recent examples from across the nation:
Continue reading “Police Behaving Badly 8.18.15”
The pervasive influence of white bias is felt in all corners of society. From musicians to actors, politicians to police officers, firefighters to lawyers, CEO’s to teachers, there is no area of society free from the bias in favor of white people (and, more specifically, heterosexual, cisgender, white men). As a long-time comic book reader, I was long ignorant of this bias in the comic book industry. Growing up as a teen, and later as a young adult, race was never on my radar. It wasn’t until I began to pay attention to matters of race that I began to see the comic book industry through more enlightened eyes. Once I began to view the world with greater clarity and understanding, I began to see that the comic book industry has long been dominated by white men. And that explains why, for the vast majority of the history of USAmerican comic books, white men have been the primary protagonists, villains, and supporting cast members. The same holds true of the film industry. But what if things were different? What if white men were not the sole (or primary) guiding forces behind movies and comic books all these decades? What if people of color were involved as well? What might the result be?
Alijah Villian is an artist who has tried to imagine just such a world. Using African-American celebrities, he re-imagines protagonists and antagonists from comic books and movies. Take a look:
Continue reading “What if…?”
During a recent appearance on NBC’s Today, singer Janelle Monáe performed her songs ‘Yoga’ and ‘Tightrope. Along with several labelmates (including Jidenna, Roman GianArthur, Deep Cotton, St. Beauty, and George 2.0) she also performed a new song, ‘Hell You Talmabout’. ‘Hell You Talmabout’ is an amazingly powerful song. It literally gave me goosebumps. The song is a protest song in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. It features a series of chants naming many African-Americans who have had their lives stolen as a result of systemic racism. Eric Garner. John Crawford III. Trayvon Martin. Emmett Till. Freddie Gray, Jr. Michael Brown, Jr. Walter Scott. These are some of the names featured in the song. I’ll be honest, while the song affected me powerfully, I was worried for a few minutes that the focus would only be upon African-American men. It is a significant concern because the deaths of African-American women as a result of police brutality are often downplayed in the media. I’m happy to say that several minutes into the song, the names Aiyana Stanley-Jones, Sandra Bland, Miriam Carey, and Sharonda Coleman-Singleton were also featured, which allayed my fears, and allowed me to enjoy the song without regret (because funny me, when I say Black Lives Matter, I’m talking about *all* black lives and last I checked black women are part of that group). I can’t embed the video of her Today performance, but it can be viewed here. Here is a YouTube video of the song at the kickoff night of the Eephus Tour at Union Transfer in Philadelphia, PA (it’s fine, but I prefer the Today version).
Continue reading “Black Lives Matter? Not to NBC”
Hollywood, aka Tinsel Town, is home to the entertainment industry of the United States. Viewed as the land of the rich and famous, Hollywood has long been the destination for many people seeking to make a name for themselves, whether on the small-screen, the big-screen, or in the music industry. Unfortunately, with so many people looking for fame and fortune, Hollywood is a difficult industry to break into, let alone succeed in. Some groups of people have an advantage in the industry, due to a bias in their favor. This bias-which favors white, heterosexual, cisgender men-has resulted in a Hollywood that is not reflective of our culture at large. Because of this bias, members of marginalized communities-LGBT people, women, and People of Color-have greater difficulty making it in the entertainment industry. Whether in front of the cameras or behind them, on the big screens or the small ones, these groups have long been plagued by unequal treatment in Hollywood. The second annual Hollywood Diversity Report (available for download here) examined more than 1,000 broadcast, cable, and digital tv programs from the 2012-2013 season and its results were not encouraging.
Continue reading “The progressive march of pop culture”
My fellow social justice warriors are familiar with white privilege-the sociological concept that describes the unearned benefits and advantages society confers upon white people (as a result of their race) that enables them to move through life with greater ease than those who do not possess white skin. But it’s one thing to understand the concept. It’s another thing entirely to explain it to others in such a way that they understand it-especially people with little to no background in social justice or sociology. Many an SJW has tried explaining this concept to people unfamiliar with the term-often the people most in need of understanding it-only to quickly find themselves deeply frustrated. Responses like “stop trying to make me feel guilty for being white” or “I earned everything I have in life” or “I’ve suffered too” or “I haven’t gotten any special privileges in life” are all too common. Such responses have caused untold facepalms and headdesks. Like many other SJW’s, I’ve had many firsthand experiences with both. And like many others, I have often failed. There have been countless times I have wished there were an easy way to explain white privilege such that people could grasp the concept. Is there a perfect illustration of white privilege that highlights the stark differences between the treatment of white people in society versus the treatment of People of Color? Yes, I think there is:
Continue reading “A white privilege sighting”
Kick back and relax in the Speakeasy! Everyone is welcome for social chit-chat, political talk, and whatever else might be on your mind. Just leave bigotry at the door and play nice.
Yes, I liked the movie Titanic. There. I said it. I even cried once. Or was it twice? I can’t remember. But I definitely did not cry three times. Nosiree. And no, I didn’t see the movie 3 times. ::shifty eyes:: Honestly, I cannot tell a lie. My hand to the Bible…
In addition to crying only once and seeing the movie only once (::eyes are still shifty::), I kinda, sorta, maybe like Celine Dion’s ‘My heart will go on’. But then I like Celine Dion so, that might account for why I think the song is good. But for those that don’t like her music (heathens!), perhaps you’ll like this version of ‘My heart will go on’ by Postmodern Jukebox. It’s vintage 50’s Jackie Wilson style remix and it’s really good. Trust me.
Continue reading “My heart will go on”
Bertrand Russell (b. 1872, d. 1970) was a British logician, philosopher, essayist, social critic, and one of them thar non-believers. In atheist circles, he is known for his criticism and disdain of the religious concept of faith via his china teapot “hypothesis”. His writings played an important role in my rejection of religion.
Continue reading “Quote of the Day: Bertrand Russell”