Magical Realism, Writing, Fiction, Politics, Haiku, Books

viernes, octubre 30, 2009

A Hemingway Treasure Trove

The Times says that Hemingway's correspondence and other possession are coming to Boston:

Though the Cuban government did not exactly get along with John F. Kennedy, it has come to an arrangement with the Boston library named for the 35th president to give it copies of thousands of papers from Ernest Hemingway. The Boston Globe reported that Cuba’s Ministry of Culture had given the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum copies of 3,000 letters and documents Hemingway amassed during his years in Cuba, from 1939 to 1960. Among the documents are corrected proofs of “The Old Man and the Sea’’ and an alternate ending to “For Whom the Bell Tolls” (The Globe report did not say what that ending was), as well as correspondence with Robert Capa, Marlene Dietrich, Sinclair Lewis, Lillian Ross, Ingrid Bergman and various members of his family. The library is already home to the Hemingway Archive and the Hemingway Room, which was dedicated in 1980, and includes relics like a lion-skin throw rug, journals of his fishing trips and shrapnel from wounds he suffered during World War I.

This should be fun to read, if you can get permission to leaf through it. If not, you can at least be happy that it's being preserved nearby.

martes, octubre 27, 2009

Celia Cruz, The Times, The Macabre

I know el dia de los Muertos is coming soon, but holy smoke, this has to be the most macabre posting in the NY Times is a while. It begins with a picture of Celia Cruz's tomb in Queens:

And then there's this bizarre text by David Gonzalez:

Celia Cruz’s mausoleum at Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx looks downright homey. Colorful plants flank a modest walkway, and clear side windows let visitors peer inside, where family photos, a rosary and a Cuban flag rest atop the singer’s tomb, along with a framed magazine clipping about “The 10 Unbelievable Wigs of Celia Cruz.”

While titans of industry and government spend eternity hidden behind thick granite walls, there’s a reason her final resting place is so inviting.

The Queen of Salsa is still holding court.

“It was specifically designed so the fans can look in,” said Susan Olsen, the historian for the cemetery. “Someone comes in on a regular basis, cleans it out and changes the photos so there’s always something for the fans to see. It was totally thought out.”

And then there's this riff on royalty, Cruz being the Queen of Salsa and all:
There is enough jazz royalty buried near the Queen of Salsa to form an impressive backup band: King Oliver, Duke Ellington and Sir Miles Davis (the title was bestowed on the trumpeter by the Knights of Malta) among them. And the commoners are not too shabby either: Illinois Jacquet, Max Roach, Coleman Hawkins and W. C. Handy.

Granted, Ms. Cruz might have been royalty only to her legions of fans. But there are a good number of countesses and princesses at Woodlawn.

“During the Gilded Age you had many of these women who had parents with great money,” Ms. Olsen said. “They did the tour of Europe, and of course they wanted to get a title. The American bride brought the money to the table, and the royalty, a bit worn out, brought the title. Then they end up coming home and being buried with the parents.”

Good luck finding them.

Maybe it's just me, but there is something really off putting, really weird about this. I just cannot imagine the same article being written, for example, about a departed poet laureate of England, or a deceased French imperssionist painter, or a famous Italian soprano. It's the tone. Is the dissonance because Celia Cruz was Cuban? Or is it because she was a salsa star? Or is it because her fans tend to speak two languages?

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sábado, octubre 24, 2009

Honduras: A Sign That The Coup Has Won

I know, I know. I'm hypersensitive, I've lost my sense of humor, I'm out of touch with common reality. I'm making mountains out of mole hills. And I sound angry.

All of that about me might be so, but today's Washington Post article about Honduras seems to me to be a sign that the coup has won, as far as the Trad Media are concerned, and that deserves at least brief mention here. Put another way, I don't think you're going to read more about Honduras in the Trad Media until the end of November when the presidential election is held there.

The point of the article in the Washington Post, if I may distill it for you, is that in Banana Republics, roughly defined as all countries in Central America, including Honduras, El Salvador, Costa Rica, and Nicaragua, where Spanish is spoken, people would rather talk about futbol than politics. And that's how it is, the article tells us. So even if politics at the moment means living with the jackbooted foot of the oligarchy and its US armed military standing truculently on your neck, you still smile and you talk instead about futbol. As bad as things might be in Honduras, as undemocratic and repressive as things might be, as poor as the people are, as oppressive as the golpe de estado is, well, things just can't be all that bad. And why so? Because just like in normal circumstances, Hondurans can still be happy about futbol. Let's let them continue to be happy.

Bring on the stereotypes. Bring on old clips of the Frito Bandito. Bring on anecdotes of laziness. Bring on the claim that the people of Honduras are happy and that they don't really care that their democratic government has been overthrown by a coup d'etat. After all, isn't their national team going to the World Cup?

This is offensive. Especially because the coup continues in full force. And shows no signs of ending. And because nobody, that's right, nobody has a clue about how to end the coup.

On October 14, Honduras made the World Cup finals in South Africa, when its team beat El Salvador and the US beat Costa Rica. This is Honduras's first World Cup finals since 1982, so it's a big deal if you care about futbol. And, of course, the golpistas, who are in charge of the country and its military, have tried to use this event to their advantage, to capitalize on it. They even declared a national holiday.

A bus carrying the triumphant team to visit Honduras' patron saint at Tegucigalpa's cathedral after the win made an abrupt detour to the presidential palace where [interim president and chief golpista Roberto] Micheletti has set up his government. They were paraded on a state-controlled television channel and Micheletti declared a national holiday.

"We had no idea the bus was going to the presidential palace, we thought it was headed to the church," [midfielder Elvis] Turcios said.

The head of the national team selection committee, Jose Ferrari, said he did not make the decision to take the players to Micheletti but that it was practical not political because crowds overwhelmed the church waiting for their arrival.

But Ferrari is the owner of the largest media outlets in Honduras and a Micheletti-backer, and some suspect it was a deliberate political play.

"Some suspect?" Yeah, that would be me. I suspect it. I consider the non-denial from Ferrari utterly laughable, especially because the TV cameras were at the palace waiting for the event and the videos were then run on whose TV station?

Meanwhile, the mother of the team's captain made an opposing gesture of support for the rightfully elected, deposed president Manual Zelaya, who remains in asylum in the Brazilian embassy in Tegucigalpa:

"All of the team's directors are part of the coup, they wanted to use it for their own benefit," said Flor Guevara, a devout Zelaya supporter and the mother of team captain Amado.

Guevara asked her son to autograph a team shirt for Zelaya, which made it past soldiers into the embassy where the toppled leader held it up for photos. And Zelaya's team is keen to portray players as political as well as sporting heroes.

"I know there are players resisting the coup ... many couldn't speak out," his daughter told local newspapers.

Guevara said her gift to Zelaya was personal and not meant to reflect the political views of her son.

All of this was dutifully reported by the Washington Post.

What conclusion do I draw from this reportage? I think the Trad Media in the US are now finished with that Banana Republic Honduras and its 21st century coup. I think that they now realize that the problem of restoring democracy is intractable, that the golpistas are utterly intransigent, and that Manual Zelaya, the rightfully elected president, has no discernible route to being reinstated in his presidency. More important, none of the governments and international organizations who made Zelaya's reinstatement the first priority in restoring democracy to Honduras has a clue of how to accomplish this first step. So, faced with a standoff, the Trad Media are done. Finished. There's nothing else for them to say. Except that things aren't so bad in Honduras because there's futbol. And the World Cup.

The story is now going to die, and in November we'll be told that the election has been held, that there's a new, democratically elected president, who was not put in place by the coup, and that the election was fair enough even though it was conducted by the golpistas during their coup. And eventually, after that election, the controversy will fade in our memory, and the US, and everybody else, will recognize the elected president of Honduras. And we'll all go on. After all, it's just a Banana Republic, and it doesn't really matter to us.

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viernes, octubre 23, 2009

Honduras: The Golpistas Raise Their Middle Finger

The news of an impending resolution to Honduras's coup was hopeful, but apparently too good to be true. Today it's clear that nothing has been decided, that rightful, democratically elected President Manual Zelaya is still stuck in the Brazilian Embassy in Tegucigalpa, and that the negotiations to resolve the crises are now totally dead. This should not be a big surprise to anyone.

The New York Times reports:

Ousted Honduran President Manuel Zelaya pulled out of talks with the country's post-coup de facto leaders on Friday, throwing efforts to resolve a months-long political crisis back to square one.

Zelaya pulled his representatives out of meetings with envoys of de facto leader Roberto Micheletti that were the latest in a series of attempts to resolve the political deadlock sparked by a June 28 military coup.

"As of now we see this phase as finished," Zelaya envoy Mayra Mejia said shortly after midnight (7 a.m. British time) at the hotel where both sides have been negotiating for three weeks.

All attempts to reach a deal have snagged over whether Zelaya can return to power for the last few months of his term, which ends in January.

"Post-coup de facto leaders" is an interesting turn of phrase. I prefer "golpistas." Or if you prefer, "leaders of the coup d'etat." But the bottom line is that no matter what you call Roberto Micheletti and his friends in the oligarchy, their coup continues despite virtually universal condemnation. And it only has to continue, as far as the golpistas are concerned, until November 29, 2009, the present date for elections of a new president. That date is right around the corner. The golpistas have no intention, none whatsoever of restoring Manual Zelaya to his rightful presidency. That is the one, single thing they will not permit. And, unfortunately, that's the one single step the rest of the world believes is an essential first step to end the crisis.

This is what is called a deadlock.

The rest of the world may insist on restoration of Manual Zelaya to the presidency as an initial step, and it may insist as well that the coup's running the national election in November undermines the legitimacy of the "democratic election." But the golpistas don't see it that way. At all. To them, surviving all the diplomatic initiatives and the sternly worded verbal condemnations and the impounding of funds until there's an election is the goal. They'll happily argue about the legitimacy of the election after its been held. And nothing is going to budge them from their present stranglehold on Honduras's government or move them to restore Manual Zelaya to the presidency.

The golpistas would rather clamp down on the demonstrators than move their position toward a possible resolution. This is what one should expect of them. The burden of the unrest, and especially the present damage to the Honduras economy fall on the poorest people in Honduras. These are not the golpistas. They are quite powerless to resist the military government and the US equipped and trained army.

And what of the US and it's recently announced "better relations" with Latin America?

The deadlock in Honduras is proving a challenge for U.S. President Barack Obama after he vowed better relations with Latin America. Washington suspended the visas of more figures in the de facto government this week to pressure a settlement.

"The two sides need to seal this deal now. Time is running out," U.S. State Department spokesman Ian Kelly said on Friday. "We have not given up on a deal yet ... We are focussed on these guys sitting down and agreeing," he said.

This is nice. There is no deal to seal. There is no agreement. And now there are no talks. Put another way, US insistence on an agreement is and continues to be an utter non starter. Similarly, negotiations brokered by Oscar Arias. Similarly, the impounding of non-essential US aid to Honduras. The golpistas have raised their middle finger and most observers are making believe it's to tell which way the wind is blowing.

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Soupy Sales, RIP

The New York Times reports:

Soupy Sales, whose zany television routines turned the smashing of a pie to the face into a madcap art form, died Thursday night. He was 83...

Cavorting with his puppet sidekicks White Fang, Black Tooth, Pookie the Lion and Hobart and Reba, the heads in the pot-bellied stove, transforming himself into the private detective Philo Kvetch, and playing host to the ever-present “nut at the door,” Soupy Sales became a television favorite of youngsters and an anarchic comedy hero for teenagers and college students.

Clad in a top hat, sweater and bow tie, shuffling through his Mouse dance, he reached his slapstick heyday in the mid-1960s on “The Soupy Sales Show,” a widely syndicated program based at WNEW-TV in New York.

Some 20,000 pies were hurled at Soupy Sales or at visitors to his TV shows in the 1950s and ’60s, by his own count. The victims included Frank Sinatra, Tony Curtis and Jerry Lewis, all of whom turned up just for the honor of being creamed.

I know Soupy denied these shows were written, but he said he thought out these shows before he went on. I'm not so sure about that. But it's still endearing:


lunes, octubre 19, 2009

On An Ethnic Slur

When it comes to cluelessness, a characteristic demonstrated repeatedly in rightwing politics, the world record always seems to be harder to reach, always seems to be harder to match. The goal posts just seem to move further and further away. And now we have two South Carolina GOP County Chairman entering the South Carolina division of the clueless sweeps to defend Jim DeMint (R-SC) by invoking an antisemitic stereotype in print, in an guest editorial.

How's that for stepping up to the competition? A breathtaking feat.

Writing a guest editorial for the South Carolina Times and Democrat, Edwin O. Merwin Jr., Chairman, Bamberg County Republican Party, and James S. Ulmer Jr., Chairman, Orangeburg County Republican Party, give us these pithy bon mots:

There is a saying that the Jews who are wealthy got that way not by watching dollars, but instead by taking care of the pennies and the dollars taking care of themselves. By not using earmarks to fund projects for South Carolina and instead using actual bills, DeMint is watching our nation’s pennies and trying to preserve our country’s wealth and our economy’s viability to give all an opportunity to succeed.

Nice. Real nice. No, they are not saying Jim DeMint is a Jew. That's not their point.

And I don't know who might be taking credit for being the source of this "saying," or who might have said it when he wasn't wearing white sheets and a pointed hood and standing before a flaming cross.

But you do have to admit that this writing shows a remarkable degree of cluelessness. These guys actually wrote this down, and then they had it printed in a newspaper with their names on it.

Predictably, this flourish of profound cluelessness was lambasted in the editorial of the conservative Palmetto Scoop:

Umm… who in mainstream America thinks it’s a good idea to write something like that in a guest editorial? Especially in light of the racially-motivated attention garnered by South Carolina Republican activists over the past few months.

It’s people like Ulmer and Merwin that make many folks fear for the future of the once Grand Ole Party.

Lest you forgot, the "racially-motivated attention," referred to, had to do with the remarks of one Rusty Depass that an escaped gorilla was an ancestor of Michele Obama.

That, I thought, had set the previous South Carolina mark for cluelessness. And I expected that remark to keep the title for decades. What an error on my part. Evidently Ulmer and Merwin want to contest the record.

Can we expect the powers that be in the GOP to condemn this remark? More when I stop laughing.

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Miguel Angel Asturias

Miguel Angel Asturias (1899-1974)

Today's Writer's Almanac tells his life story:

It's the birthday of the man who won the 1967 Nobel Prize in literature, Miguel Ángel Asturias, born in Guatemala City (1899), one of the forerunners of Latin America modernism and the style of magical realism. He's best-known for his novels Men of Maize (1949) and El Señor Presidente (1946). He finished El Señor Presidente in 1933, while living in exile in Paris. But the book was not published for more than a decade after its completion because of censorship policies under Guatemala's dictatorship. El Señor Presidente is a fictional account of a real dictator: its model is Manuel Estrada Cabrera, who ruled Guatemala for the first two decades of the 20th century — during Asturias's childhood and young adulthood.

Miguel Ángel Asturias spent much of his life in exile, and a large part of his exile in Paris. He first went there to be a student at the Sorbonne, and there he wrote poems and stories and translated into Spanish the sacred text of the Mayan people, the Popol Vuh. He put together a collection of indigenous Guatemalan myths and legends and established a magazine in Paris called Tiempos Nuevos.

He returned to Guatemala and began a diplomatic career, during which he was posted all around Latin America. But when there was a change of government, Asturias was expelled from his homeland, and the new dictator took away his Guatemalan citizenship. In 1966, a new president was democratically elected. He welcomed Asturias back to Guatemala, reinstated his citizenship, and appointed him ambassador to France, where Asturias spent most of the rest of his life.

For a more detailed biography, there's this from the Nobel Prizes.


viernes, octubre 16, 2009

Remembering The Monk

In a book review of Robin D.G. Kelley's new "Thelonious Monk: The Life And Times Of An American Original," August Kleinzahler gets Monk's music just right:

It’s an angular, splintered sound, percussive in attack and asymmetrical, music that always manages to swing hard and respect the melody. Monk was big on melody. Thelonious Monk’s body of work, as composer and player (the jazz critic Whitney Balliett called Monk’s compositions “frozen . . . improvisations” and his improvisations “molten . . . compositions”), sits as comfortably beside Bartok’s Hungarian folk-influenced compositions for solo piano as it does beside the music of jazz giants like James P. Johnson, Teddy Wilson and Duke Ellington, some of the more obvious influences on Monk. It’s unclear how much of Bartok he listened to. Monk did know well and play Rach­maninoff, Liszt and Chopin (especially Chopin). Stravinsky was also a favorite.

Precisely right. And the book itself, according to the review, sounds wonderful.

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miércoles, octubre 14, 2009

Honduras: Is There A Deal To End The Coup?

Maybe. Today the BBC is reporting there's a deal of sorts but it's not giving any details:

The political crisis in Honduras appears to be closer to a resolution after negotiators reached a deal.

However few details are known of the deal which has yet to be approved by ousted President Manuel Zelaya and interim President Roberto Micheletti....snip

Mr Zelaya's lead negotiator Victor Meza said the two sides had "agreed on one unified text that will be discussed and analysed by President Zelaya and Mr Micheletti."

"I wouldn't talk of an end to the political crisis, but an exit, yes," he was quoted by Reuters news agency as saying.

Mr Zelaya has set a deadline of Thursday for agreement to be reached.

Reuters has the same story with some additional comments but no additional details:

The central issue being discussed was the return of Zelaya to power, but neither side was prepared to give details of the agreement and Micheletti's negotiators did not immediately comment.

Still, army chief Romeo Vasquez, a key figure in the coup, also said a deal appeared close. "I know that we have advanced significantly, we are almost at the end of this crisis," he told local radio HRN.
So maybe after all of this time there is an end to the golpe de estado in sight. If the deadline is tomorrow, we should know tomorrow what, if anything, has been agreed to.

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domingo, octubre 04, 2009

Honduras: Finally Talking About Talking

Today is Sunday. Democratically elected, legal President Manual Zelaya of Honduras remains in sanctuary in the Brazilian Embassy in Tegucigalpa. And the military golpistas remain in control of the Government. But today there is the tentative news of a beginning of negotiations finally to end the coup. The end of the crisis and the restoration of normalcy can't come soon enough for the people of Honduras.

AP reports that talks between the two sides have actually begun:

Interim President Roberto Micheletti told reporters that a dialogue is "beginning" between his supporters and those of President Manuel Zelaya...

"We are having talks with different sectors officially, with people from Mr. Zelaya's side and with others," Micheletti said Friday outside the presidential palace, hours after meeting with a delegation of four Republican members of the U.S. Congress.

Jim DeMint (Golpista S.C.) is spinning the possible start of talks as if it were the result of his controversial visit to Micheletti in Tegucigalpa.

And BBC is reporting that

Aides to Manuel Zelaya and interim President Roberto Micheletti will reportedly meet next week.

The talks would precede a visit by the Organisation of American States aimed at brokering a deal, the OAS says.

There have been unsuccessful efforts to have talks since the June coup. Costa Rican President Oscar Arias was to mediate them. The two sides never met; the proposed mediation collapsed.

In the meanwhile, the decree suspending civil liberties remains in effect, although Micheletti says it will be lifted "within days." Zelaya supporters remain skeptical about this. And Radio Globo is still off the air, the golpistas having seized its transmitters, though it is still broadcasting via the Internet.

There remain many reasons to end the coup quickly. First, the disruption of Honduras's economy has been disastrous. Poor people in Honduras have been unable to work because of curfews. And businesses generally have been disrupted. The impact of the curfew and the inability to work has been felt most by poor people, who have to work daily to feed themselves.

Second, the Presidential Election in Honduras is set for November 29. And the OAS and others, including the USM, have made it clear that the results of the election will not be accepted if the coup remains in power on the date of the election.

Third, the World Cup qualifying match between Honduras and the United States is scheduled for San Pedro Sula on October 10. There was a question whether FIFA, futbol's governing body, would permit the game to be played amid civil unrest in Honduras, but the game is not going to be moved unless the situation deteriorates. Moving the game will enrage both sides of the controversy in Honduras.

Both sides are finally talking about talking. There is little the US, the OAS, the UN, Honduras's neighbors can do that they have not already done to speed the removal of the golpistas and the restoration of Zelaya to the presidency. The terms under which this will be carried out are going to be important, and they'll be a measure of the degree to which pro-democracy nations stick to their expressed demands that the coup must leave and that Zelaya must be restored.

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sábado, octubre 03, 2009

Starting Over: Pontifications From A Nobody

Yesterday, I put up a diary at GOS decrying how our writing had become so completely predictable, so formulaic, so prosaic. It was derivative, and it was funny. But it was also extremely sad. In many ways it was a commentary on the powerlessness of progressive bloggers: we can yell louder, we can scream, we can write explosive rants. But you know what? It isn't changing anything. And frankly, I'm tired of our dogged, persistent pursuit of something that's not working. And, I suspect, isn't going to work.

Maybe you're lucky and can write face blistering essays on this site and you can have readers tell you how right on you are. How smart, how important, how clear. But if you're poor and without a job, or if you're sick and you don't have insurance, or if you're running out of unemployment benefits and the next job isn't in sight, or if your kids are in trouble and you don't know how to help them out, or if you are overdue to retire and you don't have the funds and have to work, or your wage slave pay isn't going to bail you out unless you win Megamillions and you're not too big to fail, or your kids are in the military, these essays aren't going to help you. Not at all. They're just going to highlight how you have somebody's boot on your neck. And you cannot get it off. And they're bound to inform you, if you don't know it already, about how very weak you are and how very powerless we as a group (I'm talking about progressives) remain.

Look. I'm just a writer. I'm mostly anonymous (though I have a web presence). I have my opinions. I have some ideas. I have my private life. I have my work. I wish, I really do wish, we could all be free from suffering and illness and hatred. I wish progressives had some real power. I wish we had influence. I wish we'd all wake up tomorrow morning and be covered by Medicare. I wish the war in Iraq and the war in Afghanistan would be over. I wish unemployment would be extended until the economy turns around. I wish foreclosures would be stayed. I wish we'd all have enough to eat, adequate shelter, first rate health care, decent education, a whole shopping basket of safety net programs. I wish we would have something that resembled a moderate, socialist European government. But we don't. And despite the electoral win this past November, we're not going to get those things. Ever.

We may have thought, in our desperation and gullibility, that our lives would change. But here we are, October, 2009, and if your life is better than it was in October, 2008, I'll be amazed. In other words, it's the same old same old and it's now time to see it for what it really is. It's the same if not worse than it was a year ago. The fantasy of structural, fundamental change was just that, a fantasy. The illusion that the Government would help is was just that, an illusion. There are still homeless people. Sick people without insurance. Unemployed people in foreclosure. And the prospect of a change for them, a change they can believe in, well, it just doesn't exist. It's not happening this year. Or next year. It's probably just not happening.

Strange as it may seem, I'm not discouraged. To me all of this means that I was making a mistake in what I thought was happening, so now I need to revise my thinking. I'm a writer. I revise all the time. I'm good at editing. I'm good at rewriting. I've spent far more time at that than writing first drafts. So I suggest to my friends who are writers, blogger@s, that we forget about starting to write chapter 2 and go back immediately to rewrite chapter 1. Put another way, we need to rethink all of our expectations, our hopes, our dreams, our demands. We need to remember that the change we can believe in was something we could be believe in, but, alas, it was just another dream. It was not real. And when we woke up, poof!, it was gone.

So I suggest that we retrench slightly, that we retreat, that we pull back. Only for a few moments. I suggest that we stop acting like the Government gives a hoot about what we think or say or write. It clearly doesn't. And I suggest that we go back to basic, modest, local things we can actually improve. That we stop being all puffed up and making believe we're powerful, and recognize that all of that, that dream, that illusion, that hope, wasn't real. No, it wasn't. We need to recognize that the struggle for a progressive America is still ahead of us in the future.

For me this means no more money to politicians or political parties. None. Nada. Zilch. I'm giving the money to local programs that help people who need help (the local co-op, the food bank, e.g.). I'm going to try directly to help people whose suffering is not being addressed.

For me this means no more acting like the national Government is influenced by what I say as opposed to those people who can and have written fat checks to the incumbents and the PACs and the political interest groups. Just look at the health care debate. I want a single payer plan. And I have insurance and in a few years I'll have medicare. It's not my personal battle, as if I would battle for a 5% "public option" anyway. I want all of us to be safe and to have appropriate care. But this debate isn't even about health care any more. Now the Administration refers to it as "Health Insurance Reform." Jeebus. But I digress.

For me this means no more acting like people read what I write on blogs and just by reading it, it changes their views. Only the trolls disagree with what I write, and we all know they suck. The rest of us, those who agree with me, are great and wonderful people. But I'm just preaching to my own choir. I like the choir, really I do. But our singing doesn't matter. Here's an example. I've been writing about Honduras. People who are for democracy agree with me. Golpistas and Republicans don't. There are lots of "Democrats" who don't understand and are so anti-Chavez that they support the golpistas. Who are these people and why are they tormenting me in the comments? If they're not being paid by the Golpe de Estado or Republicans to troll what I write, they need to get a life. And by the way, so do I. Another digression.

For me, what I'm saying means that it is time to get down to basics. Does our writing change anything? I suspect it might if we were talking about something modest, something smaller. If we had good ideas. If we had action steps that were simple. If we had a real plan. If we had command of what was wrong and what had to be done, and it didn't involve enormous, structural changes of the national legislature.

Does what we write have an effect on national or international stories? I doubt it.

What about our fame as writers? Certainly, it's not about the money (which for me has been nonexistent). What about our being recommended, making the recc lists, being "up" for days on end, being famous, being named as famous, being cited? Yeah, that's all really, really nice. And maybe some of us are in it for that, but to be frank, I'm not. I like all of that, don't get me wrong, but that's not what it's about. It's about something else. It's about being heard and having that make some changes in thinking and actions. Does that happen? I doubt it.

For me this means I'm now going to get back to basics. I've taken down the hit counters on my blog. I'm going to stop posting at Naranja. I'll continue here and at my blog and at the other small blogs that I like.

I'm going to try to break out of the formulaic box. I'm going to try to find ways we can actually make a difference. I do hope you'll all join me in that. Our present way of "doing business" is a road to persistent irrelevance.

If it's true that the keyboard is mightier than the sword, and sometimes I have my doubts about that, we need to use it for what it can do rather than as a paperweight.

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Why No Web Counters? Why'd You Remove Them?

I took all of the web counters and anything that resembled one out of the right margin of this blog. Why? Because I'm not competing with anybody, and I'm apparently going to continue writing this blog whether or not documented, huge masses of people read it (there's evidence that many, many people read this).

I don't have a hidden counter somewhere. This feels good to me: I'm not imitating the capitalist bloggers, I have no intention of figuring out how this blog can make money, I am not going to have advertising, I'm not selling anything to or for anyone. To me this feels like a recognition of just what this blog is. Nothing more. No aspirations. Just what it is: decent writing about eclectic topics. Something to be enjoyed.

I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I'm enjoying writing it.

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