Sunday, October 30, 2011

Another story to help me appreciate how lucky I am

...and remember that there is something bigger than all of us. Mark Herzlich was diagnosed with bone cancer while he was a football star at Boston College. Again, I said bone cancer. He beat the cancer and with a titanium rod in his leg, worked his way on to the NFL roster. Of course not with out road blocks.

Just the story I need to start off the week.
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Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Told you so...

Condeleeza Rice is releasing her memoir No Higher Honor and reviews/excerpts have been hitting the net. I might read it. Despite the fact that our politics are different, she is a black woman navigating American life and politics and that is not an experience to dismiss lightly. (Funny thing is I read something I wrote about Condi on this blog 6 years back and couldn't stop laughing. ) I also always believed that she like Colin Powell, after leaving the Bush administration and perhaps even politics altogether, would fully acknowledge her role and responsibility to, and further indentify with the Black community.

 I always believed keeping mum on critical issues that affect minorities as a minority was a means of "keeping your job". Condeleeza is no different. In an excerpt she writes: senior advisor, Jim Wilkinson, walked into my suite. “Boss, I should have seen this coming,” he said. He showed me the day’s Drudge Report headline on the Web: “Eyewitness: Sec of State Condi Rice laughs it up at ‘Spamalot’ while Gulf Coast lays in tatter.” “Get a plane up here to take me home,” I said. I called Mariann and Randy and apologized and then sat there kicking myself for having been so tone-deaf. I wasn’t just the secretary of state with responsibility for foreign affairs; I was the highest-ranking black in the administration and a key advisor to the President. What had I been thinking?
She further writes:
There’s never much opportunity at the time to reflect on a crisis like Katrina. In retrospect, the hurricane’s aftermath was the first in a spiral of negative events that would almost engulf the Bush presidency. Clearly the response of the federal government was slower than the President himself wanted it to be, and there were many missteps, both in perception and in reality. I’m still mad at myself for only belatedly understanding my own role and responsibilities in the crisis.

She's human. I'll take that.

Read more of her excerpt from her book at Newsweek.
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Gaddafi was the richest man in the world?? By far?

There is buzz that as Libya stakes stock of the recent happenings they are adding up Gaddafi's wealth and the number being thrown around the Internet is $200 Billion. Yes. This would make him the richest person on Earth.

We know he was rich but I guess people are only now able to appreciate the scope of his investments and holdings.

I still don't know how I feel about it. I always assert that there is lots of wealth in many African countries, but the distribution of wealth is wack.  The L.A. Times writes:
 Revelation of the stunning size of the portfolio may stir anger among Libya's 6.5 million people — about one-third of whom live in poverty. 

They go on to say:
Kadafi was sending vast sums abroad "at a time when Libyans were struggling for the money they needed for schools, hospitals and all sorts of infrastructure," said one person close to the council, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigations are ongoing.
Not to be a complete jerk about this a time when America is struggling for money for schools, hospitals and rebuilding and maintaining infrastructure, the people at the top as a collective continue to horde money and adopt policies to ensure that the hoard continues to grow. Oh and poverty in the States is around 20% (ranging from 15-22% across the nation). I think the more I examine an oppressive dictator, the more I am able to acknowledge the current oppression in the U.S.

I'm sure there are a number of really rich people pissed to the nines at that $200B figure, but plotting on how they can "get their Gaddafi on". I'm just saying.
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Monday, October 24, 2011

Gaddafi is dead and I feel some kinda way about it...

I said some kinda way. If I knew which kind of way I would have written about it by now. I just can't put my finger on it. I do hate the commentary about him being a "clowninsh" or "flamboyant" in regards to his appearance, more specifically his attire. His outfits look like what my father, or uncles or grandfather would wear when giving their daughter away in a wedding ceremony. It take it as a direct attack on all things African not just non-Western garb. Such criticism is spared for the Saudi dignitaries. It makes me a little angry actually.

However, the commentary about his "flamboyant" actions especially in the last few decades are well deserved. What I have learned is to never be persuaded by the West's depiction of a "horrible dictator".  What is the difference between a monarch and a dictator? Really, think about it. Who is doing the defining? After reading up on the former Libyan ruler, my sentiments did not change. He's a man who came to power with amazing ideas and supported many non-(not Anti) Western, Christian, efforts but who in the end was a glutton for power and clung to it by any means necessary. Ok, your standard tyrannical ruler.

My husband, the African in residence,  is much more astute in the area of African politics. I asked him how he felt about Gaddafi being killed and the manner in which he died and he said "Well, the people didn't want him as a leader anymore and instead of stepping down, he said he'd fight to the death, that he will die in Libya. Why would it end any other way?"

I guess there you have it.

Check out his history in photos here
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Thursday, October 13, 2011

I wish...

I wish I could just sit around and read fun sh*t all day. There is so much to learn and so much available in the net--blogs, Internet magazines etc. I used to sit around and read all day but it was NOT fun. As a graduate research assistant while finishing up my coursework in graduate school all I did was read... and write. The scope of the material and the ability to choose was severely limited. However, I caught myself the other day wishing that I had the day to focus on reading and writing. Maybe, I'd actually finish this dang degree.

Funny how we take things for granted.

p.s. I think I may read this book. Though I'm sure I can write a book of my own. I was such at fool at 20.
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Saturday, October 08, 2011

From the Facebook News Feed...

"Eventually one of two things will happen; either they will realize you're worth it, or you'll realize they aren't."
And sometimes that takes a REALLY long time.
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Friday, October 07, 2011

The Real Price of Education: A Foreword

Before I get into the real costs of higher education in this current economic climate, I would like to note a what I found in my Facebook feed in reference to the recent passing of Apple creator and  CEO Steve Jobs:
"Many people didn't know that Steve Jobs was put up for adoption, imagine how different the world would be if his parents would have chosen abortion."
 Truth be told, this quote didn't even make me think of the pro-choice/pro-life debate. You see, I had just finished watching a bio on CNBC on Steve Jobs (I had no clue he'd passed until they mentioned it at the end of the program) and, Steve Jobs biological mother was a graduate student* who was adamant that her child be adopted by college graduates. (His father was a Syrian man named Abdulfattah Jandali) When Jobs was born, his pre-selected adoptive parents decided that they did want a boy and so the next in line, a working class couple was happy to have him. His mother was upset that she didn't even sign the adoption papers, it was only after his adoptive parents promise that they would make sure the kid went to college did she sign the papers.

Jobs ended up dropping out of college because as he put it--he was wasting his parents' life savings. He didn't know what he wanted to do and didn't see how college was going to help him figure it out. It was dropping out that allowed him to audit classes he was interested in and the flexibility to pursue his own passion and talents.

Instead, where would the world be if Steve jobs were raised by college graduates? Perhaps if he was raised by affluent ones who had the means to send him to college and ability to emotionally pressure him to stay in school when he found little use for it? Or less affluent ones causing him to be saddled with debt, chaining him to the perpetual pursuit of a job to make the minimum payments on his student loan?

The point here is what we most certainly believed would guarantee success---including his biological mother--- it what the sheer absence of it that allowed for his greatness. While all education is valuable, it is not always worth the money we pay for it.
Higher Education may no longer be an aid towards achieving the American dream but what rather is now keeping us from it.
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Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Coupe Dreams

My childhood visions of myself at this age featured a well-paying job, a Chanel handbag and a Porsche coupe. Well, never really imagined myself past the age of 25. Anything after 25 was just 'happily ever after'.  Needless to say I am still dreaming but I am very practical in my adult dreams. I dream about jobs that allow international travel but also give more than 30 days paid vacation time and about which coupe will allow me to carry a few of my imaginary children.

It was in those dreams that I realized how hard it was to translate my childhood dreams of 20 years ago to the reality of today. It isn't because I had some wild fantasies. The economy is not what it used to be and the relationship between the employer and employees has changed. Loyalty is no longer present nor expected. Who's getting 30 days paid vacation at a time when every one's getting laid off?  Secondly, it seems as though parenthood requires a minivan or SUV.  In the late 80's just before the Dodge Caravans etc., my mother would haul 3 children whose ages ranged from 5 yrs to 18 months around town in  her Toyota Starlet, a little red hatchback with tan vinyl seats. I can only recall the vinyl seats being hot against my legs in the summertime otherwise I assume I was comfortable.

But that would be illegal now, with increased safety regulations all three of us would require some sort of car seat. I appreciate the efforts towards safety, but it has a major effect on the quality of life of a family of 5. With car seats in tow, families require much larger cars which 1) cost more to purchase and maintain 2) cost more to gas up. Couple this with fuel prices around being around $3.50 compared to the $0.89 of 15 years ago. There are no subsidies to ease this burden on families and salaries have been pretty stagnant over the past decade. So even with what I consider to be a well-paying job, I'll be working much harder spending much more money trying to live a regular life than anyone would have considered 20 years ago.

Hell, these coupe dreams are dreams indeed.
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