Criminal editing
A friend just sent me this story from the NYT, which I had already seen: Treasury Department Is Warning Publishers of the Perils of Criminal Editing of the Enemy by Adam Liptak. The Treasury Department has declared it a crime for anyone in the U.S. to edit in any way, translate, add graphics, etc., to any literature from any of the banned countries: Iran, North Korea, Liby and Cuba. But you can still publish the uncorrected, unedited text! This is both ridiculous and frightening, added to the long list of follies by the boys in DC. Among other approaches, we ought to try laughing these fools out of office. Susana & I just saw the Classical Theater of Harlem's production of "Mother Courage and Her Children," and loved it (not all the reviewers did). It reminded me of the true power of satire. It doesn't make the wicked repent, but it does inspirit the good-hearted stay on course and laugh in the struggle.


War, unending war
Last night we saw the Classical Theater of Harlem's production of Mother Courage and Her Children. We loved it, as much as you can love a long, episodic show that makes you squeal with pain. Bertolt Brecht's allegory of the Thirty Years' War is too close to events occurring right now -- not, so far, on our homeland, but in the lands our soldiers are supposed to be liberating, and in other places. See also Uptown Boys by Bruce Weber, on the theater's founders and their aims in this production, from the New York Times.
In the age of the Internet, a nonreview is still a review
Thanks to the website LA Observed, the Great Gray Lady's attempt to ignore the slurs of a wayward son may be self-defeating, calling even more attention to the shame. Check out this amazing memo: NYT memo: Shun Blair book.

It's not the Mexicans, it's the world economy, stupid!

In an article mentioned here yesterday (The Hispanic Challenge, Foreign Affairs, March-April), Samuel P. Huntington argues that so many Mexicans are immigrating to the US, are so resistant to assimilation into America's mainstream Anglo Protestant culture, and can make such a strong historical claim to the areas where they are concentrating (the formerly Mexican territories of California and the Southwest) that they are threatening the whole American way of life. He doesn't say here what the Anglo Protestants ought to do about it; no doubt he is saving that for his coming book on the subject. I shudder to think.

My first impulse was to dash off an op-ed and send it to, maybe, the Los Angeles Times (where I had an op ed on a related topic last year). But I've thought better of that idea. After all, Huntington's fears are not new, and neither is my answer, developed in my book Hispanic Nation. In a nutshell, (a) the numbers of immigrants are hardly unprecedented -- we had more at the turn of the previous century, (b) nor is what nativists' interpret as resistance to assimilation -- in the 1880s, German speakers were talking about establishing a Deutschtum in the United States! They meant a region where German language and culture would dominate, and lots of "Anglo" Protestants feared they would do it. And (c), no large immigrant group in the US (Irish, Italians, E. European Jews, Chinese) simply "assimilates" in one direction into American culture. They change American culture, broadening it, introducing new diet, body-language, spoken languages, religious and other beliefs. And the threat of Mexicans reclaiming as sovereign Mexican territory the lands lost to the US in the 1846-47 war is nil.

But none of this will impress Huntington and others who think like him and who are arguing more out of fear than science. Instead, I hope to develop another argument, quite different and on a much larger scale. I now think this will be my next nonfiction book after we finish the one on Latin American urbanism and architecture.

It is an argument that I first presented in a paragraph in the final chapter of HISPANIC NATION, when I was refuting the anti-third-world-immigrant arguments of English-born Peter Brimelow in his Alien Nation. I want to consider my statement there as a hypothesis, to be confirmed or disconfirmed by economic and demographic evidence. Either way, the examination is bound to help us understand much better these enormous processes that we sometimes call "globalization." Here's what I said, on pp. 237-8:
One cannot, as Brimelow proposes, promote American prosperity by stemming immigration from the poorer countries, because the two phenomena are tied together as parts of the same system. U.S. prosperity is in part dependent on foreign investment by U.S. corporations to create large-scale export industries in poorer countries; these new or enlarged enterprises destabilize the local economies, forcing smaller local enterprises to fold and displacing their entrepreneurs and workers and, by their effects on farm and land prices or their consolidation of larger landholdings, also displace formerly self-supporting peasants. Since the new foreign-based enterprises do not have room for or cannot use the skills of all these displaced entrepreurs, workers, and peasants, those people join a growing pool of potential emigrants. At the same time, entrepreneurs based in the United States, especially in the electronics, clothing-manufacturing, and other industries, are continually creating low-paid entry-level jobs here which absorb some immigrant labor and encourage further immigration. Thus, no drastic slowdown of immigration to the United States is likely without a collapse of the U.S. economy.
I think that has the makings of an interesting book.
Recommended reading
The Iraqi Monkey Crisis, by Mark Engler, on TomPaine.com. "... I think it's safe to say that if George W. Bush were president during the Cuban Missile Crisis, we'd all be dead."


Another article in Monster
My second article for Hispanics/Latinos in the career market has just been posted: Careers in Broadcasting. See also A Little Support Offers Big Career Help.
New short story out
My story "From a Trolley Stop in Amsterdam" just arrived in the mail in INK POT: Special Edition: Short Story & Flash Fiction Contest Winners.

My story is in the section "honorable finalists" (sounds like a Japanese honorific). If you don't want to lay out $10 to buy your very own copy (there are lots of other good stories there, too, including the ones that actually won prizes), then RUSH to your library to read it or to demand that they get it.

"From a Trolley Stop in Amsterdam" is a reflection on some of the psychodramatic consequences of colonialism. I think. Or maybe it's just a colorful anecdote about two people in Amsterdam. INK POT: Special Edition


Mexican menace
I'm working now on a response to the latest bizarre, chauvinistic cry of fear from Samuel P. Huntington, The Hispanic Challenge, in Foreign Affairs (March-April). I dealt with all those arguments before, at some length, in Hispanic Nation, which is why I find this a bit tiresome. I'm going to attack it from a different, and wider, angle this time. Stay tuned.


More public funds to private (GOP - "Greed, Oil & Privilege") pockets
From the National Coalition for History Newsletter:
Recent reports show that the U.S. Forest Service, for example, has now spent $23.2 million to outsource positions that have resulted in a net savings of only $6.2 million to the government. Other agencies report similar statistics. But high-ranking Bush administration officials continue to articulate support of a program that critics charge is diverting scarce agency and precious bureau operating funds to line the pockets of private sector contractors who conduct the studies. The A-76 program is now being characterized by some as among the most inefficient programs in terms of cost/benefit ever created by government officials.

Sex and the City
In honor of the demise of this long-running show, I here reprint my comment from three years ago -- before I had Blogger and instead posted such notes under the heading "Unsolicited Comments." I never did see the show, but felt moved to ponder the ideas that I imagined inspired it.

Sex and the city: two good ideas

2001 July 17 Tuesday -- Last week the sidewalk across from our building was lined with huge circular lamps that flooded our bedroom with yellow-orange light, easily penetrating our semi-opaque window shades. It was - we found out next morning - the filming of an episode of "Sex and the City" that forced my bedmate and me to dig out our airline masks, like the one the Lone Ranger used to use but without the slits. The concierge in our building told me that they had scores of extras lined up that night, and the main action was occurring around a nearby rooftop pool where I frequently see, from my home office window, models being posed for photo or film shoots. It seemed like a lot of expense for a single TV episode, but hey, what's money for, anyway?

I've never seen the show, and wouldn't know the actresses if I ran into them in the elevator - which I probably have, given the popularity of our building with such types (we're two blocks from Washington Square, from which New York University and its film school have spread out to engulf most of the territory where East Village meets West). Nevertheless, the incident got me to thinking about sex and the city.

I think they are both good ideas. In fact, I think they are the two best, most civilized and most liberating principles for forming community, especially when they occur together. Sex is pretty good, or can be, anywhere, of course, but in a city - well, it can become part of the project to remake yourself as the kind of person you want to be, which is what cities are all about.

There are other principles for forming community, of course, but they are the opposite of liberating. The worst is tribe, or "race," or ethnicity, or any other label for an inherited status. Creed is another, not quite so bad because it is possible, at least theoretically, to change your creed - but hardly anyone ever does unless s/he lives in a city. For obvious reasons. Back in the village, they never give you a chance to experiment, and the only way you learn about other options is from the tourists. And the reason there are tourists is because cities are constantly sending out people who want to explore other ways of being and new experiences. Including sex.
Be very scared -- and very active
As noted here before, climate change over the next 20 years could result in a global catastrophe costing millions of lives in wars and natural disasters, says the U.S. Pentagon -- while the U.S. White House denies that it is even occurring! Read all about it in Now the Pentagon tells Bush: climate change will destroy us by Mark Townsend and Paul Harris, in The Guardian.