Waiting for… Spring? (D’oh!)

Spring’s not coming soon enough, and March has too many weird fluctuating temperatures. ‘Nuff said there.

Yesterday’s NY Times’ article, “Brown University to Examine Debt to Slave Trade” was interesting: Brown – being the Ivy League school with an African-American president, a long history and influence in American history, and a liberal institution – might very well be the ideal place to explore the issue of reparations for the descendants of American slaves. Dr. Ruth J. Simmons, president of Brown, is appointing a committee to explore the historical and other relevant issues of Brown’s ties to American slavery and the feasibility of slave reparations (if it is recommended or maybe something else may help reconcile slavery’s effects). I’m always not sure of what to make of slave reparations in the American context and worry about what it really means (yeah, yeah, wishy-washy lawyer talk/political moderate or what have you talking). So, I at least felt relieved to read the following paragraphs on Dr. Simmons’ view and Brown will consider in its impending two-year investigation:

“Dr. Simmons [the great-granddaughter of slaves], one of 12 children of an East Texas tenant farmer and a house cleaner, said she was motivated by a sense that the multifaceted subject of reparations had too often been reduced to simplistic and superficial squabbles.

“‘How does one repair a kind of social breach in human rights so that people are not just coming back to it periodically and demanding apologies,’ she said, ‘so that society learns from it, acknowledges what has taken place and then moves on. What I’m trying to do, you see, in a country that wants to move on, I’m trying to understand as a descendant of slaves how to feel good about moving on.'”

I certainly agree that “reparations” (whatever they may be) do get reduced to simplicity and superficiality. Too many complicated matters get reduced to simplicity: i.e., when society discusses race, the discussion gets reduced to mere “you bad/me good” stuff. But, nothing is that simple (although, hey, I may be wrong about that – maybe something out there is that simple). Personally (and I may be completely wrong on this), there are lots of good questions that need to be addressed: how do you repair the social breach in human rights? Can we look at a combination of options, and not just put the weight of the world on one option or another? Can we do that without condemning one option or another, as if the option selected is still entirely bad? ( – because, it probably isn’t). Part of dealing with race in America (or other similar kinds of dilemmas in the world) is education – litigation and settlements and things like that may not be the best ways to do. We may never be able to grant the promise that was never quite provided to former slaves back in the end of the Civil War (somehow, I figure the mule and 40 acres of land aren’t that useful the 21st century and I don’t think that throwing money at people will work either), but can we try something and at least go with it with the positive view that trying can be considered a good start? Hmm.

NY Times had a nice profile on Al Leiter, NY Mets pitcher, and his renaissance man ways – he’s a Republican with liberal leanings (i.e., he may have a political future, after his pro baseball career end); he likes Bruce Springsteen (umm, I can’t say much about that); he can talk articulately about baseball (i.e., he would make a great commentator); and he cares enough about baseball that maybe he might stick around to help it remain America’s institution. Hmm.

Now, I’m no drinker and I know next to nothing about whisky, so reading this article by Slate.com’s David Edelstein about whisky tasting was intruiging. Not only did I get to learn a heck of a lot about whisky, I thought it was nice, tight writing.

If you like, check out today’s Sunday Doonesbury. Incredibly funny and a nice point, too, about George W. Bush (or, referring him as the way Doonesbury cartoonist Trudeau draws him as “the guy symbolized by an asterisk”) vs. his father, George H.W. Bush (the president who I’d give a lot of credit for taking foreign affairs seriously, even if he seemed too internationalist and chummy with world leaders for his own good to the mind of a lot of people).

And, going for alliteration, today is Selection Sunday – NCAA will announce who’s going to the Championship tournament and what rankings. Time to make one’s brackets ready and by the next Sunday, I and lots of others will rip those brackets in half. And, yeah, it’s not like my alma mater is in the Tournament (like, ever?), but I always have hope that one day that our league (no, we’re not a conference like Pac-10 or ACC or what, and we’ve no Dukes or Stanfords, with the balance of athleticism and intellect) will make a good show at the NCAA (even if it means that the dreaded rival is the one doing the good show).

Yes, yes, I said that I would blog about a book and I will (tonight or tomorrow; I have to get my thoughts collected about that book). Otherwise, have a nice week.

Missing in Action

Missed your “Simple Saturday” posting SSW :o. I love alliterations.

Looks like a really cold spell in NYC again. I must say that winter this year all over the world (i.e. California, Taiwan, Malaysia, NY/NJ) has just been bizarre. I wonder what that means by way of global warming.



My travails in Malaysia

A story of how Malaysia defeats technology and making life easier and simpler….

So while a lot of my Malaysia trip was loads of fun, I didn’t speak of the “horrors” of doing business there. This one experience sort of typifies the infrastructure limitations of Malaysia and how sometimes I wonder how it would ever drag itself into the modern world. Right now, it’s just a step above Philippines and Indonesia and Thailand but only because those places are just so backwards. Vietnam don’t know much about but they can’t help where they are; they can blame the US for bombing them back to the stone age during the war.

So the situation is this. I needed to receive a faxed copy of my I-130 petition from my lawyer. What should’ve taken 30 minutes turned into a 4 hour morning and early afternoon ordeal. I use jfax so that I could download it anywhere in the world and print it out. Theory is great and works fine in the US… but then there’s the Malaysia experience. Because B- stays in the Cheras neighborhood of KL, we had to find a local i-cafe. We did but it was so slow and we couldn’t actually view it or print it out. Firstly, all the internet cafe’s have pretty much disabled any pict viewers, I guess to protect against porn surfing. So there was nothing on the i-cafe machines that could read a .TIFF file. Doh. Secondly, if if I could find a viewer that could read it, I couldn’t print because internet cafe’s usually don’t have printers. Their machines are just gaming stations, who needs to print? Ipoh was slightly better. B- lives near Coffeenet which is a nice i-cafe. Just they don’t have microphones but lots of sound.

So, we’re running around in downtown KL itself, talking with the lawyer. Now, this itself was a difficulty. My lawyer couldn’t call through to our cell phones which I know exists because when I use a calling card to call Bridget from the US, I sometimes can’t get through too. The solution, buy a Malaysia calling card and call the lawyer. Simple right? Nope, not really. We bought a Flexicard from Digi Malaysia. Well, we couldn’t use that card to dial either from the public phones or the one phone we found at an i-cafe in KL near the bus station, Puduraya. Finally, getting desperate because we needed to get this out, we called on B-‘s friend who happens to work in a big company. Being the Deputy General Manager, he would have the stuff for us to print out. So yup, we gave up, called him and ended up printing out everything in his office, after 3 hours of running around town.