Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Aloha Colombia

Aloha Colombia!! Time to hula at windmills.


Follow along at Levantine Public Diplomacy for updates from the Ambassadors of Aloha's cultural diplomacy adventures in San Andres and Bogota as we share the Hawaiian spirit of Aloha with Colombia!

Monday, May 23, 2016

Complaints...

If Sanders supporters complained about other things as the did election results.

Like:

CHESS: This game is rigged. The pawns get to move almost NOWHERE, whereas the QUEEN (DETECT ANY RESEMBLANCE HERE???) can just move wherever she likes with no apparent rhyme or reason. She’s not a bishop or a rook. Why does she move like one? Also, the black pieces have to move second, which is TOTALLY unfair and needs to be looked into, unless I am playing with the white pieces today.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

This is how fascism comes to America

"This is how fascism comes to America, not with jackboots and salutes (although there have been salutes, and a whiff of violence) but with a television huckster, a phony billionaire, a textbook egomaniac “tapping into” popular resentments and insecurities, and with an entire national political party — out of ambition or blind party loyalty, or simply out of fear — falling into line behind him."
-Robert Kagan, "This is how fascism comes to America"

Thanks Abba.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

On tragedy

"Perhaps tragedies are only tragedies in the presence of love, which confers meaning to loss.”
-Elizabeth Alexander

Connections on the road

Monday, May 09, 2016

On Death

“Death is our friend precisely because it brings us into absolute and passionate presence with all that is here, that is natural, that is love,”
-Rilke

Hillary will be exonerated for the email faux scandal. It won't matter.

The next best thing to a scandal is a fake one.  On why Hillary will be exonerated, and it won't matter.

Sunday, May 08, 2016

Happy Mother's Day!

What to give to the Mom who has everything?  (Besides a trip to Paris, which she always wants)

A trend I started at Father's Day--to honor my father with a donation in his honor to a charity that he would support, I continued this Mother's Day to honor my dear mom.

In honor of my mother, and her lifetime of work as a feminist, I made a donation in her honor to the National Organization for Women (NOW).  She raised a good feminist son, who thought this would be an appropriate way to celebrate all that she had taught him about the fight for equal rights for women.

Meanwhile, I made a second donation to Planned Parenthood, because she taught me that everyone should have a choice when they want to celebrate Mother's Day.


Saturday, May 07, 2016

On worldviews

"The most dangerous worldview is the worldview of those who have not viewed the world."
-Alexander von Humboldt

Friday, May 06, 2016

Throwing...

There is a maxim: "Don't throw good money after bad."

I will add my own two corollaries:

-Don't throw good time after bad

-Don't throw good energy after bad

The other two can have as much, if not more, value than the first.  Both can be a bit harder too.

Thursday, May 05, 2016

Regulate

we regulate any stealing of his property and we damn good too But you can't be any geek off the street, gotta be handy with the steel if you know what I mean, earn your keep! REGULATORS!!! MOUNT UP!

Forever, Kermie? Forever, ever, forever, ever?



Never Forget

I do not believe it was mere coincidence that the day Donald Trump became the Republican nominee fell on Holocaust Remembrance Day. Let us never forget what happens when demagogues stoke the fires of intolerance and xenophobia.

Wednesday, May 04, 2016

New Hymn of the Republic

My Country, 'Tis of Thee
Sweet Land of Bigotry, 
Of Trump I Sing.

Tuesday, May 03, 2016

Sunday, May 01, 2016

Loire à vélo

One of the main reasons I had come back to Tours was for the biking.  I had found a great deal last time I was here, where I could rent a bike for the price of 2 days (23 euros) but could keep it for 3.5 days because the store was closed on Sunday and Monday (It's France...).

But the weather had not been cooperating.  It had been cold and rainy last weekend, and cold all week.  I was hoping to go this weekend but Saturday was rainy and grey.  I had planned to take the bike Saturday so I could have it Sunday and Monday, which were supposed to be nice.

I ventured out into the cold, drizzly afternoon to pick up the bike.  I arrived at 1:15pm but the store was closing for its lunch break.  I tried to explain that I had just walked over in the rain, but their lunch was sacrosanct so I left and wandered around some department stores and had a coffee to kill time.  I returned at 2pm to get my bike for the sunny days ahead.  Turns out that such arrangements only worked during the low season, and now I would only have it for two days as paid for.  Not wanting to lose a rainy day, I decided I would just return Sunday morning to get it for two days proper.

I studied away the rainy afternoon, until the clouds passed and the day finally opened up.  I stopped in the Forum Les Halles, the wonderful fresh indoor market in town.  I picked up a small hunk of comte for breakfast for tomorrow and for a picnic cycle.  After my market visit, I headed down to the river, and walked along the banks of the Loire River, its turgid waters swelling from the prodigious spring rains.  It was golden hour as the day's fading light cast its bright glory on the spring leaves.  It was warming, as I found what I was looking for: signs of printemps.

I ended my Passover fast over pizza and beer.  I was excited to say the least.  I got a Champêtre pizza, a pizza with tomato sauce, chèvre, emmental, and crème fraîche. They make their pizzas très fancy in France. I said haMotzi over the pizza and a Grimbergen ambree in the bar.  I worked on an essay in French about travel recommendations in Brazil (Le Bresil), before turning in for the night.

Today was bright and beautiful with only a hint of the lingering chill. I made my way down to the bike shop and was there as it opened.  I used my French to get the bike.  The gentleman was giving me the helmet, the pump and my shit.  Okay, I can take my shit.  I was a lil surprised by his cheekiness.  He then asked me if he said it right in English.  What?  The last word, your shit.  OH!  No, you didn't.  That is a sheet not a shit.  Sheeet.  Sheeeet.  We practiced, and I gave him some alternate words to use.  Like form.  This is your form.

And then I found two euros....

Which I took as good karma as a reimbursement for the price of me renting a helmet to protect my cabeza.

I returned to the dorm to have breakfast of baguette pieces with the rich comte cheese and beure, along with my usual coffee and fresh-squeezed orange juice. Also a pain au chocolat that my friend Stela had saved for me in honor of the end of Passover.

And I set out on my ride via the Loire à Vélo route.

I weaved my way out of Tours and down to the path to the lake and park.  I got crossed through the park, getting lost a few times trying to stay on the trail before finally getting myself fully out of the city and into the rolling fields.  I wished some cows grazing: bonjour.

I had been on this path before, but it had changed a bit since the autumn.  Like beautiful fields of yellow flowers.

And it was all yellow...

I sang to myself the Coldplay tune and dreamed of other fields of gold in India and on the road to Poitier.

I biked past the beautiful city of Savonnières, the previous place I had biked to before.  I kept on until I reached Villandry.


Villandry had an interesting history.  Its name came from the original Germanic name Andric, and from the Latin villa or domain.  At Villandry, the Cher River meets the Loire River.  This junction point is known locally as "the end of the world."  Having been to the end of the world at the bottom of Tierra Del Fuego, I laughed at such pronouncements and thought back to a certain lighthouse that graced their fin.

And this tidbit of history of Villandry:

"Its population was at its highest around 1830, 1,054 inhabitants counted in 1836. It fell when the local industry of hemp-growing declined."

It was only midday, so I decided to press on to Chateau Azay-Le-Riddeau some further 16km on.  The Chateau Azay-Le-Riddeau is supposed to be one of the finest in the Loire Valley.

So I continued on the further 13 km to the chateau.  I passed more fields and forests, and cute sheep grazing.

I finally reached the chateau...only to find it closed.  May Day.  Merde.  The place is closed three days of the frekin' year: Jan 1st, Christmas...and May Day.  The Japanese couple who had also just arrived looked on in surprise, and the gentleman raised his arms in a WTF gesture.  I explained it was May Day, and he just shook his head.

But it matters not, truth lies in the journey not the port as Eduardo Galeano wrote.

I sat out under a tree in the tiny city center, and had a delicious lunch.  I ate my fromage comte in crusty baguette pieces covered with honey and confiture de cerise.

After lunch, I stopped in a little patisserie for a dessert snack.  I got a wonderful scoubichac, which I imagine to be a French way of saying "scoobiesnack."  It was a pastry of chocolate and nutella wrapped in buttery pastry dough.  C'est magifique dans le espresso.

I begin my long journey back.  While Chateau Azy-Le-Rideau had been closed, there was another chateau I passed in Villandry on my way back. I headed back past the sheep grazing, and made my way back to Villandry.  The Chateau Villandry was indeed open, so I got a student ticket to visit the chateau and the lush gardens surrounding the estate.

The Chateau Villandry had been a fortress before it was acquired by Jean Le Breton, basically the Defense Minister for King Francis I.  The chateau remained in the Breton family, until it was later acquired by the Marquis de Castellane.  It was siezed during the French Revolution, then later taken by Napoleon, and given to his youngest brother Jerome Bonaparte.

In 1906, it was acquired by Dr. Joachim Carvallo and his wife Anne Coleman.  The Spaniard and the American met in the midst of the Spanish-American War (awkward...) in a research lab in Paris.  It helped that Anne was an heiress to an American iron and steel fortune, and they bought and restored the chateau.
 Apparently, they needed a good place for their panting collection...



The place was lovely in its grace and splendor, and the gardens were magnificent. I strolled through all of it before continuing my final 25km back to Tours.


In total, I did 70km (about 45 miles), which is a personal best.  See what I am capable of with the return of carbs.  More importantly, it was great to just bike and stare out at the beautiful countryside--getting some time to think and also some great exercise.


Saturday, April 30, 2016

Overpass

Au revoir Passover!

So long matza--le pain de l'affliction.

Bonjour croissaints et pain au chocolat!

Friday, April 29, 2016

Not feeling the Bern

"With the Democratic primary basically over, I want to step back a bit and explain the big-picture reason that I never warmed up to Bernie Sanders. It's not so much that he's all that far to my left, nor that he's been pretty skimpy on details about all the programs he proposes. That's hardly uncommon in presidential campaigns. Rather, it's the fact that I think he's basically running a con, and one with the potential to cause distinct damage to the progressive cause.

 I mean this as a provocation—but I also mean it. So if you're provoked, mission accomplished! Here's my argument.

Bernie's explanation for everything he wants to do—his theory of change, or theory of governing, take your pick—is that we need a revolution in this country. The rich own everything. Income inequality is skyrocketing. The middle class is stagnating. The finance industry is out of control. Washington DC is paralyzed.

 But...the revolution that Bernie called for didn't show up. In fact, it's worse than that: we were never going to get a revolution, and Bernie knew it all along. Think about it: has there ever been an economic revolution in the United States?"
-Kevin Drum, "Here is why I never warmed up to Bernie Sanders"

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

The commercialization of empowerment

Hillary the Hawk?

I admit, I read the article about Hillary the Hawk and got a little uneasy.  I have been supremely pleased with President Obama's reticence to get us involved in more wars.  Was she really a vulcan, and where would lead us as president?  I am glad to read this piece that looks a bit deeper at the claims of Hillary the Hawk, and gives it a bit more nuance.  Also, this one about her Iraq vote.  Both stories allay my fears a bit.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Paris Pics

Joyeuse Pâques


"Joyeuse Pâques" as they say in France!

Happy Passover! Matzah goes soooo much better with stinky French cheeses and wine.

Mmm...matzah with chevre and pesto is worth fleeing Egypt... and matzah with bleu cheese and honey is worth 40 years in the desert