Friday, December 25, 2009

on the side of the underprivileged

“In a discussion on BBC Radio Ulster in August P A MacLochlainn said that in his view the details of Jesus' life as presented in the Bible led him to conclude that he was a homosexual.

“'I believe that a 33-year-old unmarried rabbi living in Israel, in the time that he was living and having a favourite friend among the apostles called John, was quite clearly a gay man,' he said.

“'I am entitled to that belief as a gay Christian.

“'Christ, if he were alive today, would be on the parade with us, on the side of the underprivileged, not standing superciliously at the side looking on.'”

--Tony Grew, Pink News, 2007 December 31

Saturday, December 19, 2009

the nastier and more dangerous jobs

“'In the same job, doing the same work, who will be paid more, a woman or a man?'

“'The man!'

“If it's true, then employers are practicing shameful sexism.

“But does this even make sense? If employers knew that women would do the exact same job for less money, they'd hire only women...

“Decades ago, Warren Farrell was the rare man who, with Gloria Steinem and other women, went to feminist protests. He's the only man to have been elected three times to the board of the National Organization for Women. He told me, 'I used to wear a "59 cent" pin to protest the fact that men earned a dollar for each 59 cents [now it's 78.5 cents] that women earned for the same work.'

“But then he had his 'eureka' moment.

“WARREN FARRELL: 'I asked myself one day if men are earning a dollar, maybe I'll go out and start an all-female firm and I'll be able to produce products for fifty-nine cents, that male firms are producing for a dollar... I'd get rich! [So I thought] there's something wrong with the statistic.'

“Farrell then spent about fifteen years going over U.S. Census data and other studies. He found that the wage gap exists not because of sexism, but because more men are willing to do certain kinds of jobs. He illustrates this when making speeches.

“He asks people to stand up if they work more than forty hours a week, or, 'if you worked in a field that exposed you to the wind, the rain, and the snow for at least two years of your life...' He goes on to list some of the nastier and more dangerous jobs.

“Again and again more men stand. 'That's why men earn more,' says Farrell. Men take jobs that are more likely to require longer hours, longer commuting times, safety risks, and frequent travel. Those jobs pay more because fewer people want to do them.

“It's not sexism, he said, it's just supply and demand. Women make less because they want different things.

“WARREN FARRELL: 'The women themselves say they're far more likely to care about flexibility. The men say: I'm far more likely to care about money.'”

--John Stossel, Myths, Lies, and Downright Stupidity: Why Everything You Know Is Wrong, 2006

Monday, December 14, 2009

niche political games

"It was the British who developed the idea of the board game as an instrument of moral instruction and exported it to America. There, it was adapted to promote the American Dream of free enterprise and economic success.

"This crusading element in board games is perhaps best exemplified by the best-selling game in history - Monopoly - which celebrated wealth and avarice in the wake of the Great Depression. Ironically, this most capitalist of games was derived from a radical socialist game first published in Britain in 1913....

"The British continue to produce niche political games like War on Terror which plays on satire, but mainstream British games designers have joined the computer games revolution."

--BBC Four Programmes: Games Britannia - Monopolies and Mergers

Sunday, December 13, 2009

the graves we lie in

Earth gets its price for what Earth gives us;
The beggar is taxed for a corner to die in,
The priest hath his fee who comes and shrives us,
We bargain for the graves we lie in...

--James Russell Lowell, "The Vision of Sir Launfal"

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Winter Night

"There is a time of apprehension which begins with the beginning of darkness, and to which only the speech of love can lend security."

--Kay Boyle, "Winter Night"

Monday, December 07, 2009

Linus Pauling, 1962 Nobel Peace Prize laureate

1945 March 7, Los Angeles Examiner:

"Jap Flag Painted on Garage Door

"Altadena, March 6--'Americans die but we love Japs.'

"On the walls of the garage at the home of Dr. Linus Pauling, Caltech chemistry professor, last night were emblazoned those words. Near by, also in red paint was a crude Jap flag.

"Dr. Pauling, developer and chairman of the chemistry and chemical engineering department at Caltech, recently hired a 24-year-old Japanese-American from the relocation center at Hart Mountain to do gardening work for him.

"The young Japanese-American, George Miniaki, was born in Gardena and is a graduate of Monrovia High School. His parents are still at the relocation center.

"Said Dr. Pauling:

"'I do not know who is responsible for this un-American act. I suspect, however, that this trespass on our home was carried out by one or more of those misguided people who believe that American citizens should be persecuted in the same way that the Nazis have persecuted the Jewish citizens of Germany.'"

towards 1941 December 7: weep on the shoulders

"Let us begin with a short and elementary lesson in practical economics.

"The Japanese, cooped up on their little island, and as prolific as Italians, need more land. All the pretty words in the world and all the treaties in the world and all the well-meant speeches of all the well-meaning old ladies and gentlemen in the world won't change this fact....

"They live in a country that is smaller than California (155,652 square miles for California and 148,756 square miles for Japan) and of these only 16,000,000 acres can be used for agriculture, which is less than 2% of all the arable land of America. If you want the comparison to come a little nearer home, it is a trifle less than the improved farmlands of New York State alone. Even with the help of one of the best staffs of scientific agricultural experts to be found anywhere in the world, you will see at a glance what sort of problem it is that faces these poor island folk. Living so near the sea-shore they would of course fish; but although they have now reached the point where they are raising certain sorts of fish in the muddy water of their rice fields, the difficulty remains unsolved and unsolvable in view the fact that the population increases by more than 650,000 people a year.

"It was inevitable therefore that Japan should look for more territory; and it was only natural that first of all she should think of the badly administered and sadly neglected lands that lay just across the China Sea.... The road to Manchuria was indicated by the land bridge of the Korean peninsula from which the mainland of Japan was separated by the narrow Strait of Korea. This strait is only 102 miles wide and is conveniently divided into halves by the Tsushima islands, those islands near which the Japanese fleet destroyed the Russian squadron in the year 1905, and killed Russia as a possible rival in eastern Asia....

"The immediate causes for a war are rarely interesting. It is the real underlying motives that count. In this case, as in the case of the expedition of 1592, they were to be found directly and absolutely in the necessity of the Japanese government to provide its rapidly increasing population with food.

"As soon as Japan had defeated Russia and had driven the Muscovite troops back from the Yalu River, the river that separates Korea from Manchuria, Korea became a Japanese protectorate. In 1910 it became a part of the Japanese Empire quite as much as Formosa, which the Japanese had taken from the Chinese in 1895, or the southern half of the island of Sakhalin, which they had taken from the Russians in the year 1905 in lieu of a war indemnity. Today already half a million Japanese have moved in among the twenty million Koreans. The rest will follow in due course of time.

"As for Manchuria, it had long been a bone of contention between the two nations that fought for supremacy in the northern half of the Pacific. After the Peace of Portsmouth, which made an end to the Russo-Japanese war, the fate of the country was sealed....

"Many people seem to experience a profound indignation at what they are inclined to denounce as a brutal expression of 'Japanese ambition'. I would rather call them 'Japanese necessities'. In matters of international policy, a certain healthy egoism is rather a desirable quality. Japan has got to find an outlet for the extra people at home. It is finding such an outlet in northern Asia, in a part of the world that is very lightly populated, and that has been accustomed to such outrageous forms of government that the inhabitants cannot possibly be worse off now than they were ever before.

"If this northern Asiatic safety-valve did not exist, the Philippines, the Dutch East Indies, Australia, New Zealand and the western coast of America would be forever exposed to a Japanese invasion and we would be obliged to station a battle-ship in front of every Polynesian island lest it be towed away over night by a Japanese cruiser.

"On the whole, the present arrangement seems much more practical. Those who feel inclined to shed tears at these callous and selfish utterances, are politely requested to weep on the shoulders of our own Indians."

--Hendrik van Loon, Van Loon's Geography: The Story of the World We Live In, 1932

Dolma Ling Convent fire

"Hi guys,

"Just seeing news that the Dolma Ling nunnery in Ulaanbaatar suffered a major fire. I'm just telling everyone I know who's been there or might have some particular sympathy, so maybe we can get some donations flowing their way to rebuild next year. So heartbreaking.

"Yours in the Dharma,


"Friday morning, about 4AM, fire destroyed the main building of the Dolma Ling Nunnery that housed the kitchen, dinning room and was also home for several of the eldest nuns. Fire officials are still determining whether the fire was due to shoddy electrical wiring (a problem in developing countries due to poor construction standards) or the real possibility that it was deliberately set. It is a miracle that no one was hurt, especially due to the fact that the eldest nun, over 95 years old, had to escape by climbing through a window that fortunately had no bars (most first-floor windows in Ulaanbaatar are barred). The building is a total loss but it might have been partially saved except the night watchman was no where to be found and he had the gate key that the fire department needed to get into the property (the fire trucks arrived within three minutes after getting the call about the fire). All this with night-time temperatures reaching -30F."

Sunday, December 06, 2009

a world about whose values he was so often skeptical

"Melville himself said in Moby Dick, 'to write a mighty book you must have a mighty theme.' Here he had it -- the rebellious struggle of Captain Ahab against the overwhelming, mysterious vastness of the universe and its awesome, sometimes merciless forces....

"What baffled its early readers was the book's wild extravagances of mood and language, its effect of what the modern critic Van Wyck Brooks calls 'a shredded Shakespearean play.' Melville confided to Hawthorne that it had been 'broiled in hell-fire,' referring to the turbulence of his own spirit from which the book sprang. Moby Dick was too powerful for the readers of its time....

"Melville passed the last twenty years or so of his life in almost total obscurity, withdrawn from literary circles. Back in New York, for nineteen years he was a clerk in a customhouse. His long-agitated spirit finally seemed calm. He had withdrawn himself from a world about whose values he was so often skeptical."

--Edmund Fuller and B. Jo Kinnick, Adventures in American Literature: Laureate Edition, 1963