The blogs of InTheFray Magazine.
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
The Taliban and its militants are stepping up attacks against Pakistan, and how does the country respond? By acting like a scared chicken. Instead of insuring security for school children and universities, the government is bowing to the Taliban and closing education institutions. What kind of message does this send to the children of Pakistan? That what the Taliban wants the Taliban gets.
I am against putting children in danger, but closing schools to hide your ineffective security is not the way to deal with terrorists. Pakistan should launch an even stronger offensive against the Taliban and, if needed, close the border with Afghanistan (the main entry points because large parts of the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan are rugged mountainous areas impossible to police). Do what it take, but please do not stop children from learning.
For more on the attack on the Islamic university, here is the BBC's report.
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
In the past few years, breast cancer awareness has exploded into our social peripheries and now ranks in the pantheon of social causes with the likes of global warming and the War on Terror. Originally championed in the 1970s by First Lady Betty Ford, who underwent a mastectomy, breast cancer today extends even into the reaches of the NFL, where certain games are dedicated to the cause and players this season can be seen donning hot pink cleats and sweatbands.
It's easy to get swept up in the hype for searching for the cure, but when the word "pink" begins having just as much social impact as "going green," many people start to wonder where the line of finding a cure ends and plain social cause marketing begins.
It's an odd phenomena, the idea of "going pink," because breast cancer, like any other potentially fatal illness is, at the end of the day, quite a personal matter. And while there are many phenomenally strong and publicly proud breast cancer survivors out there, there are many who are still privately trying to come to terms with something that left them physically and emotionally scarred.
My aunt, who underwent a mastectomy to treat breast cancer in 2005 and then recently underwent a second one to treat a recurrence, said she didn't feel comfortable participating in breast cancer awareness events because "I don't feel yet like it's even really something I had."
It's easy for companies to develop pink products and donate profits for research, but the question then arises: Where does this money go exactly? With all this hype, are we actually closer to finding a cure? After all, breast cancer marketing offers companies an easy bandwagon to jump on, and buying "pink" is something that has indeed become very en vogue.
At the end of the day, I don't have the answers to these questions, and I don't doubt that much of the finances generated by "going pink" have helped pave the way for at least more social acceptance of the disease. If anything, the pink campaign has given survivors who want it an open platform to discuss a disease that was once considered taboo.
It's easy to get swept up in the hype of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, but the fact that this exists also begs us to look beyond wearing pink ribbons and buying hot pink laptops. Much like the "green" campaign, such social tidal waves that become brands almost in and of themselves ask us to look beneath the material surface into other ways we can recognize problems and discuss them in a meaningful way.
As social causes become marketing brands, we risk not only diluting the solutions for the problems we are trying to fix (after all, buying organic food will help the environment, but even the regulations for these have become so convoluted and the organic industry so large, it's now guilty of many of the faults and carbon footprints it originally stood against).
I'm in no way criticizing what hard-won victories many of the champions of the pink movement have accomplished. But while such campaigns raise awareness, it's important to not forget how exactly your pink dollars are helping the cause and the root of the movement, which is not complicated make-up campaigns or large benefit walks or glossy Cosmo covers or guitars autographed by Melissa Ethridge. It's cancer. In all forms. It's the private moments between the individual people and their families. It's the late-night phone calls. Because in the end, breast cancer is like any other disease. And we're still a long way from finding a cure.
Thursday, October 15, 2009
Here is a short background on Blog Action Day from MadMikesAmerica:
"Blog Action Day takes place annually on October 15, 2009. This gives us one day a year for bloggers to focus on just one topic. This year's topic is Global Climate Change. So far, 5,464 sites have registered to participate with a reader following 10,453,869 from around the globe. If participation is anything like last year those numbers will swell dramatically as we get closer to Blog Action Day 2009.
Blog Action Day 2009 is the largest social change event on the internet. It began in 2007 when Australian Bloggers Collis & Cyan Ta'eed (along with help from Envato) decided to have a day when bloggers could focus on one subject. The chosen topic was the environment. That first year over 20,000 bloggers participated."
The initiative is not limited to the United States or Western nations. Bloggers in the Philippines are using this day to draw attention to recent natural disasters in the region.
"Bloggers Kapihan is hoping it will and urges Filipinos worldwide to join “Blog Action Day” on October 15 by publishing blogs, podcasts, and videocasts on why there is a need to reintroduce the discussion about climate change and actions to mitigate its effects, said its member and blogger/journalist Anthony Ian Cruz.
Cruz said the massive flooding, death, and damage caused by tropical storm “Ondoy” and typhoon “Pepeng,” which hit the Philippines in the last three weeks reflected the urgency in which the issue of climate should be addressed."
If you would like to participate, then please visit Blog Action Day's website here and start blogging about climate change.
Thursday, October 15, 2009
"Don't worry. It's okay."
But I am worried. This guy keeps inching closer to me. My first instinct was that he was going to pickpocket me. I clutched my bag tighter and tighter to my chest.
Now, I think he might put his head on my shoulder any second. He'd boarded the train two stops after my friend and I did, and ever since then I could feel his eyes boring into the back of my head.
As I've said before, the best thing to do in a situation like this is use evasive tactics. I pretend I don't hear him. My friend, skilled in the ways of the commuter, keeps chatting — about the movie we just saw, about the weather, about Lindsay Lohan versus Britney Spears. Anything to avoid a lull in the conversation because when that happens...
"You are so cute."
Then he taps me on the shoulder. Instinctively, I turn toward him and break the cardinal rule — do not make eye contact under any circumstances. He looks fairly harmless with his backpack and button-down shirt.
My friend whispers, "I don't smell alcohol." Neither do I, but there is something altered about him.
"What language do you speak?" he asks now that he has my attention.
This forces me to move to level two of subway avoidance, which I am not very good at: the freeze out. "English."
"Really? I speak English, too. Yeah, I do. You speak so nice. I was listening to you. You are so cute."
I suppose there is a double standard here. This guy has clearly crossed the line to Creepyville, but had he looked like George Clooney (a girl can dream), I would have already given him my number. This guy does not look like George Clooney. They never do.
"Where are you from?"
Since we're already in the borough, I go with the obvious. "Brooklyn."
"Really? Wow! Me, too! You are so cute."
My friend says, "Do you want to move?" We are still about four stops from home, maybe ten more minutes, which will seem like eternity. Yet, we don't move. It's the same reason I'm not very good at the freeze out. I don't want to seem rude. For some reason I would rather be uncomfortable than to embarrass him or call more attention to the situation. I think this is the good-girl syndrome, as in, "Just be a good girl and don't make trouble," or "Good girls are well-mannered and considerate." Boys don't seem to be raised with the same mantras. It takes good girls a long time to learn to speak up and not be taken advantage of.
Would I tell him to stop talking to me? It seems extreme, so I just sit there and try to ignore him when he suddenly pops up and runs off the train at the next stop. I suddenly felt bad for him. I mean, this is a tough way to get a date.
George, if you're reading this, I'll be on the Q train tomorrow, conductor's car.
Tuesday, October 06, 2009
According to the BBC:
"The cleric, Sheikh Saad al-Shethry, said the mixing of sexes in any university was evil and a great sin.
He demanded the curriculum should be vetted by Islamic scholars to prevent teaching of 'alien ideologies.'"
On its website, KAUST describes itself as "an international, graduate-level research university dedicated to inspiring a new age of scientific achievement in the Kingdom that will also benefit the region and the world."
At True/Slant, author Jessica Faye Carter has posted on co-education in the country and also has a video from Al-Jazeera on the university.
It remains to be see weather the conservative kingdom and its clerics with strong opinions will be able to accept the university and the openness it promises.
Stand-up comedy is like suicide when you are new to the art form. Every time the MC calls your name for you to come on stage, your knuckles go white and you feel an invisible trigger coldly press against your index finger.
"HI! I almost didn't make it to the stage tonight. I got into the room and saw this guy I used to date. My heart just stopped...but then it started again. So all's good!"
"So the other day I went to the supermarket and asked the teller for...."
People start fidgeting.
"You know, before I came here tonight, I practiced my set ten times on my cat...He didn't laugh once."
It's a cold, lonely death; and as you walk off that stage, there's no crowd to comfort you or pay their respects. They have moved onto the next comedian, glad that you are done for the night. All you have is you to beat yourself for not being funny.
I've been doing stand-up comedy over a year now. I've performed seven times, flopped three. The last time I performed, I was so nervous that a lady offered me these pills that slow down your heart.
Reason why I still go back there?
It's an adrenaline rush.
Wednesday, September 30, 2009
According to a Thomson Reuters survey, most Americans are willing to pay for healthcare reform.
"The telephone survey of 3,003 U.S. adults conducted by Thomson Reuters (TRI.N) (TRI.TO) found 63 percent willing to pay for healthcare reform, though most also said they are happy with their own doctors, insurance plans and out-of-pocket costs."
But the conservatives have been saying the opposite all along — that people are okay with the present system and don't want it fixed. They are lying.
And how about the loonies who are comparing healthcare reform to a way to have "death panels" and "rationed care"? The crazy one up in Alaska uttered some sentences on her Facebook page and the lunatics accepted as fact. What is even more baffling is that some people are comparing the proposed reform to the Nazis.
Here is Richard Land of the Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission:
"I want to put it to you bluntly. What they are attempting to do in healthcare, particularly in treating the elderly, is not something like what the Nazis did. It is precisely what the Nazis did."
And this man leads a group on ethics and liberty? He is better suited to be the Alaskan crazy one's propaganda director. Since he knows the Nazis so well, he is suited to do the job.
The way people like Land, Rush Limbaugh, and Michael Steele have polluted the healthcare reform debate, "scam" is a light word to describe it. I prefer to use another word; it starts with a "t" and rhymes with "reason."
Wednesday, September 30, 2009
In the year 10 BDC (Before Debit Cards) I had visited a friend in the Midwest. I was living in Atlanta and decided that, rather than paying to park at Hartsfield Airport, I could stretch my meager budget by taking the oft-laughed-at MARTA train. (Motto: "Ride MARTA, it's SMARTA." Laugh all you want, MARTA drops you off inside the airport terminal, unlike NYC, where none of the three airports can say that.)
I'd lived large on the small amount I brought, so large in fact, that I didn't realize I had only 60 cents left. And I still had to buy a token for the train ride home. I opened and reopened every pocket in my purse, every zipper in my wallet in that frantic way when you come to the understanding that, since you don't have magic ruby slippers, you will be stuck in the airport forever like a bad Tom Hanks movie and you don't even have a Russian accent.
MARTA was cash-only, and since this was also the year 5 BCP (Before Cell Phones), my options were limited. I could call a friend collect, but it was late and I already felt lame enough. Since the currency exchange accepted credit cards, I gave serious thought to converting 20 dollars into Japanese yen and then converting it back to dollars to get the cash. (Ingenious, no?) But soon after, a grandfatherly gentleman in a business suit asked if I could use some help and I poured out my pitiful story. He gave me the change and I never forgot his kindness.
It was just last week a woman at Grand Army Plaza had the same anxious and pathetic look on her face. In lieu of ruby slippers, she needed a swipe, but she was going about it all wrong.
Those of us who ride the subway frequently have an unlimited Metrocard. For one monthly fee, you can ride as often as you like. The catch is that you can only swipe your Metrocard once every 15 minutes or so. As with the rules of any program, people quickly learn the loopholes — things not possible with the old token system. Let's say you're an entrepreneur (e.g., you sell batteries in the subway cars). If you pay two dollars to get on the train, you'd probably have to sell five batteries just to break even. Now if you ask someone coming through the turnstiles for a swipe of his unlimited Metrocard, no skin off his back and you're making a profit from battery number one.
But the tired woman standing outside the Grand Army Plaza turnstiles was clearly new at the game, asking people who were on their way to the platform, instead of people on their way out. She said, "Excuse me. Could you..."
Before I realized she was talking to me, I'd already swiped my card and was through the turnstile. No going back then. Waiting 15 minutes to swipe again for her is really beyond my rush-hour benevolence. I looked at her drooping face and did what I thought would help. I pointed to the Chinese lady with the batteries who, speaking no English, had just finagled a swipe from a black teenage girl coming out. The woman nodded, now on the right track.
Moral of the story: Since you don't have ruby slippers, always buy your ticket home before you leave.
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
According to the The Huffington Post:
"Rush Limbaugh couldn't resist trying to connect the brutal beating of one student by another on a school bus to President Obama, using it as an example of how Obama is somehow causing racism throughout the U.S."
Only in Lambaugh's stinky books is it racism when students fight on seating choice. Local police clearly say that the fight was not racially motivated, but our dear one is not going to believe the police. He sees a white boy getting beaten up and he sees Obama's hand behind the incident.
I am not saying that the incident should not receive any attention. I am a parent, and to hear the kids are getting into serious fights in a school bus is scary, but let us keep things in perspective. Rush Limbaugh is a nut.It is funny to see how low can this man go. There is no bottom to this pit; it keeps expanding like his gut.
Wednesday, September 09, 2009
Since her unfortunate introduction to the rest of the country last summer (thanks a lot, McCain!), Sarah Palin has proven herself to be many things: corrupt, incapable of debate, completely ignorant of foreign affairs, hypocrite (charging that Obama "palled around with terrorists while she and her husband belonged to a political group that once asked Iran for help in seceding from the U.S.), a liar (by claiming that her husband had never been an AIP member when he was — even McCain staff knew that), unwilling to take advice, and unable to either form or convey a simple thought. After reading her editorial in The Wall Street Journal today, I'm convinced that she has just plain lost her mind. In this embarrassing opinion piece (opinion indeed), she writes:
...is it any wonder that many of the sick and elderly are concerned that the Democrats' proposals will ultimately lead to rationing of their health care by — dare I say it — death panels? Establishment voices dismissed that phrase, but it rang true for many Americans.
Let me explain that last sentence — even though legal and media fact checkers (and anyone who has ever read the healthcare bill) have repeatedly shown that death panels were a myth, a blatant lie, Palin doesn't need those pesky facts to get in her way. She said it, Republicans regurgitated it, and fear-ridden, ill-informed Americans believed it. Hence, it must be true!
She just can't let it go. The term "death panels" must play in her mind like a loop. She must cling to it, mentally, like a reassuring mantra.
Or maybe it makes her feel special. Much like when she told the McCain staff that she loved saying "palling around with terrorists," she just loves saying "death panels." Because when she does, people pay attention to her. Like they did when she was Miss Wasilla. Like they did when she was a fancy tee-vee sports reporter. Like the salespeople at Nordstrom did when she had $180,000 to spend.
But why is anyone listening anymore? And, more importantly, the part that scares me — what future vicious, damaging fabrications will her followers believe?