Imma Go to Albania

Yesterday was Holocaust Remberance Day, which depresses the shit out of me and requires me to go searching for reasons not to quit humanity. Fortunately, I didn’t have to look any farther than Albania.

It turns out that Albania, which has a Muslim majority, was one of the few countries in Europe who didn’t just hand over it’s Jews to the Nazis. In fact, Albanian Muslims and Christians veered hard left and not only protected their neighbors, but also protected Jewish refugees fleeing from monsters.  Moreover, Albanians ACTIVELY rescued Jewish people from Nazi occupied areas outside of Albania:

“Many of the rescues took place in Nazi-occupied Kosovo, which is heavily populated with ethnic Albanians and was then part of Yugoslavia. Mr. Alickaj, 59, the New York travel agent, recalled in an interview that his father, Arif Alickaj, was executive secretary of the municipality of Decan and, using popular Muslim names, issued false identifications to allow Jews — many of them refugees from Macedonia and Serbia — to travel to Albania. He too was asked for a list of Jews but insisted there were none, Mr. Alickaj said … Mr. Alickaj’s friend, Arsllan Rezniqi, a grocer, owned a truck that picked up fruit and vegetables from Macedonia, and over time he transported 400 Jews to Decan. Word had come from ethnic Albanians in Macedonia that their Jewish neighbors were in jeopardy. Mr. Rezniqi’s great-grandson, Leka Rezniqi, 28, an anchor of a television news show in Pristina, Kosovo’s capital, said in a telephone interview that Mr. Rezniqi even built a house in the garden as a shelter for refugees. Albanian neighbors knew Jews were hiding on the property and never exposed them.”

“”Why were the Albanians so fokking awesome that awesome will change it’s name to ‘meh’ because it cannot compare to the awesomeness of Albania? Theoretically, it lies in “a national creed called besa that obligates Albanians to provide shelter and safe passage for anyone seeking protection, particularly if there has been a promise to do so. Failure to act results in a loss of honor and standing. “It involves uncompromising protection of a guest, even at the point of forfeiting one’s own life,” wrote Shirley Cloyes DioGuardi.”

Most people didn’t know about this because the USSR invaded and occupied Albania after WWII and the Soviets weren’t big on “open” communication.

Right, so Albanian is now my favorite place on earth. Which is good, because it has gone from the war-torn anarchy of the 90s to a beachfront tourist paradise in the 2010s. Albania is trying to rebuild its economy and the tourist dollar (or Euro or Pound or whatever) is crucial. Plus, the Albania Riviera is hella cheap for the Western tourist. Seriously, you can stay a week in a nice hotel on a sandy beach with blue, warm seas for a couple hundred bucks. Just LOOK at Ksamil Beach:

ksamil-beach

I am very happy to know a vacation there would be morally correct as well as OMG fun.

*squee*

Posted in I like this, dammit., shit I think y'all should know | 1 Comment

Decency Run Amok

I’ve decided to do a ‘happiness blitz’ wherein the next three posts are going to be all about the good shit in the world. Sometimes, you gotta think happy thoughts, no?

Let’s talk about the credit-card processing firm Gravity’s CEO Dan Price. This guy just took a HUGE pay cut to give every single fokking employee of his company a raise to AT MINIMUM $70,000 a year.

“Mr. Price, who started the Seattle-based credit-card payment processing firm in 2004 at the age of 19, said he would pay for the wage increases by cutting his own salary from nearly $1 million to $70,000 and using 75 to 80 percent of the company’s anticipated $2.2 million in profit this year … The United States has one of the world’s largest pay gaps, with chief executives earning nearly 300 times what the average worker makes, according to some economists’ estimates. That is much higher than the 20-to-1 ratio recommended by Gilded Age magnates like J. Pierpont Morgan and the 20th century management visionary Peter Drucker. “The market rate for me as a C.E.O. compared to a regular person is ridiculous, it’s absurd,” said Mr. Price … “As much as I’m a capitalist, there is nothing in the market that is making me do it,” he said, referring to paying wages that make it possible for his employees to go after the American dream, buy a house and pay for their children’s education …  From his friends, he heard stories of how tough it was to make ends meet even on salaries that were still well-above the federal minimum of $7.25 an hour. “They were walking me through the math of making 40 grand a year,” he said, then describing a surprise rent increase or nagging credit card debt. “I hear that every single week,” he added. “That just eats at me inside.” Mr. Price said he wanted to do something to address the issue of inequality, although his proposal “made me really nervous” because he wanted to do it without raising prices for his customers or cutting back on service. Of all the social issues that he felt he was in a position to do something about as a business leader, “that one seemed like a more worthy issue to go after.”

OMG the human decency of this man! I adore him. This is someone who chose his immortal soul (atheist friends: think of it as a metaphor) over Mammon. In fact, I am pretty sure he took a piss in Mammon’s ear. Dan Price is magnificent and I laud him with much lauding!!

Most of you have some inkling of what a difference this will make to his employees. They will use this largess to buy homes, cars, and goods that will churn money back into the economy so it is damn good for Seattle, too. YAY!!!!

I give Dan Price my seal of approval:

Smiling_Seal_

Posted in I like this, dammit., Mammon | Leave a comment

Empire, rinse, repeat

Slate published an interesting article comparing the declining Roman Empire to the current USA, and their points were correct. America, with it’s non-stop expansion wars and concentration of wealth at the hands of a few, is circling the drain as an Empire. It is taking the same route as the English Empire did as well. As Sir John Bagot Glubb wrote, there is a pattern of how empires rise and fall:

From the Assyrian Empire (859 – 612 BC), to the Arabic Empire (634 – 880 AD), to the British Empire (1700 – 1950), each seemed to last roughly 10 generations, or about 250 years. Glubb posits that each empire goes through six predictable phases, outburst/conquest, commerce, affluence, intellect, and finally decadence and fall. This rise and fall pattern is independent of governmental system (despotism, monarchy, republic, democracy), and the idiosyncratic qualities of the race that begat the empire (African, East Asian, European, Central Asian). This pattern is not affected by the technologies of the time (the wheel, horseback riding, seafaring, gunpowder, electricity, etc) and, while the pattern of the rise of great nations appears to be uniform, the pattern of their breakups is diverse, meaning that while all empires are birthed and live in roughly the same manner, how they die varies greatly.

No empire has ever learned its lesson from previous empires.

What strikes me as germane, and which Glubb didn’t talk about as much, is that the Empire is almost always an oligarchy/plutocracy when it collapses; the power is in the hands of a few and those few are the ones with money. America may have had a fighting chance until The Supreme Court decided money = ‘free speech’ because corporations are people, which opened the floodgates and pretty much turned the political process into a spend-off guaranteeing the rich would control political puppets.

I think the average guy/gal in America can tell something is wrong, but are without the knowledge and education to pinpoint the problem as one coming from systemic inequality that allows a few people to become mega-wealthy at the expense of the working and middle class. That’s a complicated issue and hard to fight. It is so much easier to throw the blame on ‘immigrants taking jobs’ than companies getting tax breaks for sending jobs overseas but not for bringing them home. It is so much easier to blame problems on people who are trying to gain access to equality, like minorities and women, than on a handful of rich white dudes exploiting 99% of other white dudes. If the average white guy thinks he is losing power because women’s lib and affirmative action are taking that power away, then he won’t know to blame the handful of billionaires at the top who are sucking away the lifeblood of the country and stuffing it in off-shore accounts. 

Meanwhile, those of us who DO see where the problem lies mostly just rant helplessly on the internet.

Fun times. 

The good news is that the USA will continue, just like Rome and England did, after its empire falls. Moreover, we will be influencing Western culture for hundreds of years after our imperial might has bit the dust — just like Rome and England. Another piece of good news is that some other Nation-State will undoubtedly step up to the plate and keep us from swirling down a power vacuum (my bet is on China with the possibility of the EU if it holds together) and into the second round of the Dark Ages. Technology is unlikely to just disappear. An increasing reliance on renewable resources for energy will make the Big Oil warmongers less able to demand wars. Life will go on. We’ll get to the point where we’ll demand better social safety nets and infrastructure again. If we are very lucky we can end up like Demark; it is not a world power and NOT a UTOPIA (no such beast exists) but in general its citizens are doing well and are happy. Frankly, having happy citizens is better than imperial power for everyone except would-be emperors.

Posted in I've been thinking too much, Mammon, shit I think y'all should know | 5 Comments

What is an ‘irrational’ fear?

It drives me a little batty when people scoff at the “irrational” fears of American health programs by the citizens of other nations – especially if those citizens are brown. This especially comes up on the vaccinate/anti-vaxx battlegrounds. I’m pro-vaccine (except where medically hazardous because vaccines have RISKS and doctors/parents KNOW some kids cannot get the shots), because they – looking at the statistical analysis for myself and using all the freaking statistics skills I had to learn in grad school – save lives.

However, pro-vaxxers can also work my nerves when they act like all issues with vaccines are irrational, especially when people in developed nations refuse them. Pro-vaxxers love to cite/mock the fact that some parents in Pakistan are “concerned that [the polio vaccine] caused sterility in adulthood; others suspected the vaccine, developed and distributed by Westerners, was part of a larger conspiracy to sterilize children in Muslim nations”.

In this case, those fears are (so far as I know) wrong. Nevertheless, these concerns didn’t float in out of thin air.  People in developing nations have learned the hard way that Western doctors aren’t ALWAYS in the “third world” because they looking out for the best interests of humankind. They looks for conspiracies now because there have been proven conspiracies in the past.  Evil for the sake of “science” is still evil and in one example, “US government researchers and their Guatemalan colleagues experimented without consent on more than 5,000 Guatemalan soldiers, prisoners, people with psychiatric disorders, orphans and prostitutes. The investigators exposed 1,308 adults to syphilis, gonorrhoea or chancroid, in some cases using prostitutes to infect prisoners and soldiers. After the experiments were uncovered in 2010, Ramos and others sued the US government, and US President Barack Obama issued a formal apology.”

So-called scientists in America were doing this evil shit to their own citizens around this time period as well. It has happened more than most people realize. This includes cruel experiments on newborns, giving pregnant women radioactive ‘vitamin drinks’,  and releasing diseased mosquitoes on the unsuspecting people of Georgia and Florida.   In the recent past, “U.S. government doctors once thought it was fine to experiment on disabled people and prison inmates. Such experiments included giving hepatitis to mental patients in Connecticut, squirting a pandemic flu virus up the noses of prisoners in Maryland, and injecting cancer cells into chronically ill people at a New York hospital.” The experiment most people have heard of is  the Tuskegee Experiment, wherein poor, black, rural residents of Alabama were told they were receiving free health care from the US government and were instead studied as they died from untreated syphilis. Why? Because the Public Health Service wanted to see what untreated syphilis did to humans … while failing to acknowledge the humanity of the people they were killing.

But nothing like that could happen today right? Har. In 1997, “The most influential medical journal in the United States has assailed as unethical, US-funded medical experiments on HIV-infected women in the Third World. A blistering editorial in this week’s edition of the New England Journal of Medicine compared ongoing experiments in Asia, Africa and the Caribbean with the notorious Tuskegee study, a government-funded project in which poor African-American men with syphilis were studied over four decades without being provided treatment … The specific focus of the Journal’s editorial was a series of experiments in 15 countries on the use of the anti-AIDS drug AZT in preventing the transmission of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) from pregnant women to their infants. The U.S. government funded nine of the studies of more than 12,000 women through its National Institute of Health (NIH) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The 15 countries included in the study Cote d’Ivoire, Uganda, Tanzania, South Africa, Malawi, Thailand, Ethiopia, Burkina Faso, Zimbabwe, Kenya and the Dominican Republic.”

Sometimes unethical (evil) business practices tar all Americans with the same brush, even when there wasn’t government involvement. For instance, in the late 90’s Pfizer did illegal-in-America drug trials on sick kids in Nigeria. The “team from the US company moved into the Infectious Diseases Hospital in Kano, directly adjacent to Doctors Without Borders. The parents of the sick children evidently believed that the Pfizer staff were members of the aid organization … a little girl, received 56 milligrams of Trovan on the first day of treatment. Although her condition rapidly deteriorated, the doctors maintained this dose. On the third day, the girl died. International guidelines for clinical studies specify that patients who do not react to a test drug should be immediately removed from the study — particularly since Rocephin, a reliable medicine, was available.” Lots of kids died. Lot’s more had severe and long lasting side effects. Now Pfizer is on the hot seat because, as the lawyer representing a class action law suit against them explains, “”Pfizer treated the Nigerians in Kano as if the life of a black child was worth less than the life of a white child … Suddenly the Americans realize that they are dealing with blacks in Nigeria who are intelligent — niggers with brains,” he says, and laughs.”

And we wonder why people in Nigeria resist accepting vaccinations from white American aid workers? You think their fears and suspicions are completely irrational and ungrounded?

Now, more children will die of preventable diseases because parents have been scared away by unethical medical care from Western doctors. It is an ever widening spiral of child death in developing nations, all for the sake of money  — because Big Pharma is a trillion dollar industry. 

Well, that was still almost 20 years ago! Okay, then how about the fact that in 2012 the CIA used the polio vaccination program as a cover to spy on people in Pakistan? “The CIA is not exclusively responsible for the problems we have in getting children vaccinated but it certainly didn’t make it anything easier,’ says Anthony Robbins, the co-editor of the Journal of Public Health Policy. Robbins wrote an editorial denouncing the CIA use of fake vaccination programs back in August of 2012. Even before bin Laden was killed in 2011, the Taliban had banned polio immunization in the parts of Pakistan it controls. The Taliban claimed the polio drops sterilize Pakistani children and vaccinators were American spies.” It turns out some of them WERE spying for the US; if that was true why should people axiomatically believe that the idea vaccines were a cover story to harm them was a complete fabrication? WHY should anyone trust us?

Then there is the fact that at the University of California Davis in 2014 “investigators for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services concluded that hospital administrators repeatedly failed to rein in the activities of two UC Davis neurosurgeons, who performed untested treatments on three critically ill brain cancer patients. Additionally, medical staff were kept in the dark about the doctors’ work or failed to follow hospital policies and professional standards, the report stated. “These failures put all surgical patients at risk for injury and harm, including death,” the report stated.”

Is it any wonder that some people think Big Pharma would cheerfully kill kids to make a buck, and that American doctors would do it for “science”? Or that America/Europe would condone horrible things under the guise of ‘helping’ people? That’s not irrational; that’s reasonable to fear under the aegis that has happened before all too often. 

Now, the death is escalating because health workers – people who were there to try and save the lives of children – are being murdered by radicals. At least 31 polio vaccination workers have been killed in Pakistan since July 2012. Some horrible anti-vaxxers think these murders delightful or justified, and I hope those asshats fall face fist into a sea of cowshit and lego. However, the death of those aid workers should also be on the conscience of the American establishment because without our historical (and not so historical) shenanigans vaccines wouldn’t = Western imperialistic plot in the eyes of the populace.

Excuse me while I rip out my hair in frustration.

Posted in Mammon, racism, shit I think y'all should know, victim blaming | 4 Comments

Riposte from Lilo

When Lilo turned 10 last Sunday she became all about the maturity. Her first words were, “I feel so much more mature now that I am in double digits.” She asked if we could assign her more complicated chores to acknowledge her maturity. With great maturity, comes great responsibility apparently.

This weekend, 6 days after turning 10, she told her baby sister she didn’t feel like making her a peanut butter and jelly sandwich (one of Lilo’s “chores” is to help her little sisters forage for food in between meals if they get hungry) so Spock had better ask me or Sweet Babou for it.

“What about your new maturity and sense of responsibility?” I asked her.

Lilo thought for a few seconds, then struck a sassy hand-on-hip pose and said:

“I’m entering the difficult teenage phase.”

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

I am irked AND vexed

Taintface and BabyBro are at it again. This time it is BabyBro unfriending me on Facebook – in spite of the fact I have said NOTHING about Taintface or their parenting on my page and don’t comment on his; only look at the pictures and like the ones of the kids. Why? It is either because Gozer is fighting with Taintface over the fact she wants to come to Aunt Betty’s house and see Aunt Betty (and Gozer is raising holy hell about it) OR it is because Taintface is saying terrible things about me BabyBro doesn’t want me to see (and possibly report to Mom like we’re kids?) OR a combination of the two. I know I shouldn’t care, but seeing their pictures when I couldn’t see them was a least a little comfort and now that’s gone.

So, even though I did not start the fight, and he is using Gozer’s autism diagnosis (that would NOT have happened without me) as a way to keep her out of trouble and get her special help at school, and I have therefore helped his daughter profoundly – I am still the bitch who must be punished for being “mean” to Taintface when she called me screaming at me and insulting my kids.

Huh.

There are days when their lack of gratitude, the unfairness, of my “punishment” pisses me off even more than the fact I cannot see Gozer and Gamer. Those are hard days, because my instinct is to fight back against injustice and smoosh the unrighteous but that wouldn’t help and only hurt the kids so I have to just take it. I am not real good with the suffering in silence thing. Then I think about how much Gozer is hurting because she being kept from me and that is even worse.

This bullshit has also coincided with Holy Week and Easter, reminding me about how much I suck at the loving my enemies and those that hate me, so I feel extra bad about the fact I want to punch Taintface’s nose through the back of her head. I try to compromise and just want to kick her ass instead, but the pummel urge is strong within me.

I’m pretty certain the holy water is going to sizzle when it hits my skin this Sunday.

Posted in are you kidding me with this shit?, Asperger's and Autism Spectrum, life as I know it | 3 Comments

Liquor? I hardly know her!

Okay, every time we drive by a liquor store my Sweet Babou says, “Liquor? I hardly know her!” I continue to love him despite this atrocity. Nevertheless, I am have an involuntary shudder with hint of amusement when I hear the word liquor.

Which brings me to our small dog, Fuzzbutt.

Fuzzbutt licks toes. He’ll also lick elbows, ankles, calves, and if you aren’t careful a bare ass fresh from the shower. He doesn’t just give toes (or any random body part) a swift swipe of the tongue either. He laps whilst making the most god-awful slurpslurpslurp sound imaginable.

Our family is split on our reaction to this. Lilo, Stitch, and I ignore it provided the slobbering slavering is below the knee. Sweet Babou and Spock, however, hate it with the fiery heart of a supernova and refuse to allow Fuzzbutt to lave them with his tongue. Today, Spock is home sick with a wee cold. I am typing, sluggishly, at my computer in the office when I hear:

“No! No! Bad dog! Stop licking me! You have a slimy tongue, Fuzzbutt, and you are in my personal space! Down! No! Those are my toes! Fuzzbutt! Quit it, you slimy lick dog!”

I feel mirth welling up in my soul even before I hear the patter of bare feet upon the floor making a beeline for my office. Spock appears at the door, simply vibrating with indignation.

“Mamma!” She is incensed. “That dog is a licker dog!”

Behind me Sweet Babou mumbles, “But he hardly knows you.”

Spock stared at her mother writhing in the floor with laughter, then went back to the couch to finish watching her education kid’s show. I heard her say to the dog, “Mamma is really weird, Fuzzbutt.”

I get such a kick outta my family, y’all.

Posted in daughters, I like this, dammit., life as I know it, motherhood | 3 Comments