Monday, May 31, 2010

Ilha Formosa

A caravan of roomies sped me to the airport and I slipped out of the angels with the night wind.  A rather uneventful flight, save some ominous warnings, and I arrived in Taiwan.  Neehow 'o beautiful island as the Portuguese called it.  The bus took me from airport through morning commuter traffic and past the lushness, cantilevered bridges and smog hiding the heights of Taipei.

I arrived to my hostel, chosen for its name: "The Camels Island." A wee bit of confusion left me sitting outside the gates, but a friendly fellow helped me by calling the establishment.  He left and I set up shop waiting in front.  As I sat, reading my Christian Science Monitor, the stranger returned and offered me a welcome present.  Welcome to Taiwan, he said with a smile, and offered me lychee.

"Chiris," they are called here, and I sat on the ground, peeling the bumpy alligator skin off the eye-ball-textured fruit.  The succulently sweet nectar flooded down my throat and covered my hands with stickiness.   Taiwan's brand slogan is "Touch your heart"; to be perfectly honest, I had chided it as I do most branding slogans as not really meaning anything.  Yet sitting on the ground, peeling those lychee, I swallowed my words and actually understood as Taiwan had immediately and irrevocably touched my heart through the simple gift. For a stranger in a strange land, it is often the simplest gifts that mean the most.


Sunday, May 30, 2010

Last Words- Closing the Chapter that is LA

"We make a living by what we get; we make a life by what we give."

An oft-quoted fav quotes by the British Bulldog, one Mr. Churchill.  As I leave behind the angels, and my life in it, I think back to what I gave that made my life here so fulfilled.  I think it boils down to one word: community. I worked to give community in my house,  at my school and in this city.  I tried to give connection to 11 strangers living under the same roof, so that a hostel house became a real home;  I worked to give connection to a cohort of scholars, so that a program became a family; I turned a lobby and a conference room into a hall of humanity; I fought to give a little more compassion to a city of strangers.

I have had a wonderful run here on Portland Street, at USC and in Los Angeles, but, with real bittersweet feelings, it is time to move on.  Off to be a stranger in a strange land yet again.  I conclude this wonderful and fulfilling chapter in the life of one Mr. Paul S. Rockower, MPD with the immaculate words of one Mr. Joseph Conrad.

The last word is not said, — probably shall never be said. Are not our lives too short for that full utterance which through all our stammerings is of course our only and abiding intention? I have given up expecting those last words, whose ring, if they could only be pronounced, would shake both heaven and earth. There is never time to say our last word — the last word of our love, of our desire, faith, remorse, submissions, revolt. The heaven and the earth must not be shaken, I suppose — at least, not by us who know so many truths about either.

To all those who have enriched my life here and made it so wonderful and fulfilling, I end with these sentiments: God Bless, Good Luck and Godspeed until we meet again.

The Talented Rockowers

Just a typical Rockower family phone conversation:

Paul: What are you doing?
Ellen: Making a tomahawk.

洛保羅

Apparently, that is my name in Mandarin.

Friday, May 28, 2010

The Kimchi Warrior and Kimchi Diplomacy

Check out this piece on the Public Diplomacy Magazine blog on the Kimchi Warrior and Kimchi Diplomacy, written by Rick Phillips of the Korean Cultural Center:

“The Kimchi Warrior” is a unique blend of martial arts, comedy, and promotes good health. Based on the premise of Popeye, our hero obtains supernatural strength by consuming the most prominent Korean dish to defend mankind from the world’s most notorious diseases (i.e. The Swine Flu, Mad Cow Disease, Malaria, SARS etc.)

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Senorita Sassypants signs off

LA indy radio legend Senorita Sassypants signed off today. At KXLU, Daniela Montiel- the host of the Senorita Sassypants and the Sassphonics, ran the booth one last time. She had been on the airwaves for 8 years. Rabbi Rockower was a guest on the Sassphonic radio hour. Daniela said that she had a lit-up line of callers wishing her well. 'Tis nice to see the mark you make. She is off to SF to be with her pupusa-eating bear. I counseled our dear DJ to get her own new show in the Bay area. 8 years in one of the world's biggest media markets is cred. I also said she should put in for her own satellite radio show. Also podcasts and a website to stream it live. Senorita Sassypants' saluted last show shows the mark she left on the LA radio landscape.

Happiness will fall like rain

BFF Yael is in Israel.  She has a very moving post today on the tears of G-d:
This morning I took the direct bus to Jerusalem and made my way to the Wailing Wall. As I began to write my prayers to leave in the many overflowing crevices of the wall, along with so many others, it began to rain: huge, giant raindrops falling in a short, almost hot rain, a brilliantly timed downpour. Gesh'em. I tried to shield my letter from the rain, lest the ink run, and for a moment I felt like a little child afraid that God would not be able to read the smeared words and therefore not grant what I so long for. But it was perfect. The rain blessed me and my prayers, permanently ending my parched wanderings and washing away any last bits of ash that might have fallen on me from the barge's final inferno.

Rumi on doing

"Let the beauty of what you
love be what you do"
-Rumi.  Thanks Stacy!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Move The Game!

I heard a piece on the radio about a site Movethegame.org.  It is a site petitioning MLB to move the 2011 All Star game from Phoenix over Arizona's immigration law.  Take a sec to add you name to the lineup card.  Over 100k have signed the petition.

Think this sounds a lil too idealistic to work?  When Arizona refused to count MLK day as a national holiday, the NFL yanked the Superbowl from Tempe.  The following year the state held a recount and added MLK day as a holiday.  So help throw a lil' chin music at AZ.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Fatah

Look what was in my spam folder:
Dear Sir/Madam,

I am Mrs. SUHA TAWIL ARAFAT, the wife of YASSER ARAFAT, the Palestinian leader who died  in Paris . Since his death and even prior to the announcement, I have been thrown into a state  of antagonism, confusion, humiliation, frustration and hopelessness by the present leadership of the Palestinian Liberation Organization and the new Prime Minister.

I have even been subjected to physical and psychological torture. As a window that is so traumatized, I have lost confidence with everybody in the country at the moment.

You must have heard over the media reports and the Internet on the discovery of some fund in my husband secret bank account and companies and the allegations of some huge sums of money deposited by my husband in  my name of which I have refuses to disclose or give up to the corrupt Palestine Government.  In fact the total sum allegedly discovered by the Government so far is in the tune of about $6.5 Billion Dollars. And they are not relenting on their effort to make me poor for life. As you know, the Moslem community has no regards for woman, hence my desire for a foreign assistance. You can visit the BBC news broadcast below for better understanding of what I am talking about;

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/3479937.stm http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/3995769.stm
http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1186557435026&pagename=JPost/JPArticle/ShowFull

I have deposited the sum of 25.4 Million dollars (Twenty five Million, Four Hundred Thousand United States Dollars) with a  Security and Financial firm in Europe whose name is withheld for now until we open communication. I shall be grateful if you could receive this fund into your bank account for safe keeping and any Investment opportunity. This arrangement will be known to you and I alone and all our correspondence should be strictly on email alone  because our government has tapped all my lines and are monitoring all my moves.

I was very  lucky that my  consignments simply described as "Family heirloom" was not discovered as the security vault was not raided by the police. You can see  The Police raid of Private Security Firms in London is still on-going. You can read about this on-going police raid at:

http://www.thisislocallondon.co.uk/mostpopular.var.2337939.mostviewed.5
3m_found_during_safe_deposit_raids.php


In view of the above, if you are willing to assist for our mutual benefits, we will have to negotiate on your Percentage share of the 25.4 Million dollars (Twenty five Million, Four Hundred Thousand United States Dollars) that will be kept in your position for a while and invested in your name for my trust pending when my Daughter, Zahwa, will come off age and take full responsibility of her Family Estate/inheritance.

Please note that this is a golden opportunity that comes once in life time and more so, if you are honest, I am going to entrust more funds in your care as this is one of the legacy we keep for our children. In case you don't accept please do not let me out to the security and  international media as I am giving you this information in total trust and confidence

Please expedite action.

Yours sincerely,
Mrs. Suha Tawil Arafat.

THIS IS MY PRIVATE EMAIL:
suha.tawil.arafa@sify.com

An alpha at her finest

Saudi woman beats up virtue cop.  Kudos, you have come a long way, baby,

Monday, May 24, 2010

Sugar Comparisons

My friend John Brown had this up on his blog, images from an article comparing the sugar in soft drinks to their pastry equivalent.




That's right, the equivalent amount of sugar in one Rockstar energy drink is SIX krispy kremes.  It gets worse.  1 starbucks vanilla frapuchino in a bottle is worth 32 nila wafers.





 The piece had some good commentary:


Over the past 50 years or so, we Americans have developed a severe drinking problem. We stopped making our own iced teas and lemonades (recipe: water, lemon, sugar) and started buying them in bottles or mixes, with ingredients like "high-fructose corn syrup" and "ascorbic acid" on the labels. We stopped thinking of a soda as a treat - akin to an ice cream or a candy bar - and started seeing it as the equivalent of a glass of water, drinking two, three, four, or more a day. (The average American now drinks about a gallon of soda a week!) Then we stopped drinking water out of the tap and started demanding that it be artificially flavored and put into bottled with the words "vitamin" or "energy" stamped on their labels. And, in just the last decade or so, many of us stopped brewing our own coffee and started buying things with vaguely European names, like "mocha latte," or swapped out coffee altogether for something called "energy drinks," which taste exactly like what would happen if a crazed pastry chef hijacked a truckload of Smarties and drove it into a battery acid factory. And the result of all this beverage evolution is that, today, walking into a convenience store or a beverage distributorship has become dangerous to our health.




Gross.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Don Pablo Quijote and the Quest for the Stinkiest of the Stinky Tofu

Countdown t-minus 1 week. That is when our fair hero Don Pablo Quijote of the Master Order of Public Diplomacy and Knight-Errantry begins his quest to find the stinkiest of the stinky tofu. Formosa is a foodie paradise and their number one fav food is stinky tofu. This gastronomist is on a hunt to find the stinky-inky.

I'm already bouncing around branding ideas tying Taiwan as an Asian gastrohub and also plans for boba diplomacy. Yes, those gooey balls of boba goodness were born in Taiwan, and I am already planning ways of Taiwan to promote itself through large straws and milk tea.

On Words

There is a weird power in a spoken word... And a word carries far — very far — deals destruction through time as the bullets go flying through space."
Joseph Conrad, "Lord Jim"

“For I have neither wit, nor words, nor worth, action nor utterance,
nor the power of speech, to stir men's blood. I only speak right on. I
tell you that which you yourselves do know.”
- Shakespeare (Thanks Deaglan)

Saturday, May 22, 2010

booze or kids

Nick Kristof has a great piece on some of Afrika's real problems behind the poverty:
There’s an ugly secret of global poverty, one rarely acknowledged by aid groups or U.N. reports. It’s a blunt truth that is politically incorrect, heartbreaking, frustrating and ubiquitous:

It’s that if the poorest families spent as much money educating their children as they do on wine, cigarettes and prostitutes, their children’s prospects would be transformed. Much suffering is caused not only by low incomes, but also by shortsighted private spending decisions by heads of households.
The article reminds me of anecdote I heard in Guatemala. Brazil has a program in place that pays poor parents to keep their kids in school. There are stipulations and the parents only receive money if the kids are legitimately there. Depending who you ask, it has been a relatively successful program to help alleviate poverty while contributing to children's education.

Guatemala tried to initiate a similar program in the countryside and Guatemala's First Lady spearheaded the program that pays rural families for their children's scholarship. Sounds good in theory. However, chatting with a friend in Guate, his anecdotal evidence was that the program was a bit of a flop with serious unintended consequences. Apparently, on the day of payment, mothers would queue up for hours, and fight unmercifully that their children had indeed been attending school, whether or not they actually were. Once victorious in gaining the funds, they would then hand the money over to their husbands, who would go out and get rip-roaring drunk. My friend said that the first of the month usually descended into bacchanalian drinking bouts funded by the children's school pay.

schadenfraude

The definition.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Pablo's Index

Tidbits of info gleaned from Harper’s this month:

“I write out of a greed for lives and language. A need to listen to the orchestra of living. It is often said that a writer is more alive than his peers. But I believe he might also be sleepier than his peers, a sort of narcoleptic who requires constant waking up by his own imaginative creative work. He is closer to sleep and dream, and his memory is more haunted, thus precise.”
-Barry Hannah

Retail price at one Louisiana Walmart in March for an African-American Ballerina Barbie: $3 Retail price for a white Ballerina Barbie: $5.93

Swarming decisions among large honeybees are determined by an oligarcy, and flocking decisions among pigeons are determined by prestige-weighted votes. Studies of humankind’s original states— in China, Egypt, the Indus Valley, Mesopotamia and Peru— suggest that the emergence of bureaucracy catalyzed predatory imperial expansion.

The American Jewish zeitgeist

There is a fascinating discussion going on over pro-Israel support in America related to my generation. Peter Beinart kicked off the latest round with a very thought-provoking piece in the New York Review of Books called the Failure of the American Jewish Establishment. He basically chalks up the loss in support among secular liberal American Jews to an establishment that is out of touch with its base. This is even more evident in relation to my generation and changing generational norms and values.

David Rothkopf has a response that cites more strategic reasons for changing support to Israel in Foreign Policy.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Generation Gap on Immigration

A great NYTimes piece on the generation gap in the immigration debate:

Nicole Vespia, 18, of Selden, N.Y., said older people who were worried about immigrants stealing jobs were giving up on an American ideal: capitalist meritocracy.

“If someone works better than I do, they deserve to get the job,” Ms. Vespia said. “I work in a stockroom, and my best workers are people who don’t really speak English. It’s cool to get to know them.”

Her parents’ generation, she added, just needs to adapt.

“My stepdad says, ‘Why do I have to press 1 for English?’ I think that’s ridiculous,” Ms. Vespia said, referring to the common instruction on customer-service lines. “It’s not that big of a deal. Quit crying about it. Press the button."
Well said, Nicole.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

oy

Really?  Did Israel have to keep Chomsky out?  I disagree heartily with him and think he is often wrong, but to keep him out of Israel on "security" reasons is beyond dumb.  Way to give clear ammo to the claim that Israeli democracy is a sham.

Swimming in a bubblegum dispenser

How do you feel?
A little like Donnie Darko.  Full of a lot of bittersweet emotions.  Not easy to describe.  I am taking a moment of time to make sense of a nonsensical place. Easier things to describe are the adventures of the day on the way to Cafe Audrey.  In a city that talks to itself, I instead write to myself.  I have been watching people carry out self-narrations.  Often it is to themselves; sometimes it is to hidden blueteeth; occasionally in reciting the lines to a part.

The thing that had me blabbering to myself was photography.  Like PTSD to a vet who offered to find me help.  I had to explain that I wasn't climbing the walls, just merely examining layout.  Today my exhibit came down.   What was color and life has returned to barren and white.  'Twas nice the passing professors and people who said they would miss it.  The grey made it grayer and graver.

LA is not my dream and I was reminded of it by the Dash driver whose narration voice was a reminder that for many it is.

And so it goes in the LA Day/LA Night and the appreciation from one photographer to another.  A Mr. Michael Light whose work of images of Lalaland I found quite good.  I also found an urban cactus garden and a bit of sunshine.  Boulders guarded the entrance and tracks.  Not what I was looking for, but a nice find.

I continued on north and found what I was looking for at Hollywood and Western.  A giant bubblegum jar that I found myself swimming through.  All the different colors of gumball tiles.  Exactly what I was looking for.

I also found a bit of wisdom, as always written by the prophets on the tattered walls:
Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. This is not a way of life at all in any true sense.
Sounds like a commie to me.  Probably some no-good socialist.  Oh, it's Ike.  I like Ike.  Yep, these wise words were uttered by Dwight D.  

Meanwhile, I was wandered down Hollywood, I was faced with the question of who the hell is Van Heflin and why he would warrant two stars on the Hollywood walk o' fame.  And I am here at Cafe Audrey, the point where I was able to take on a little perspective.

What drives you on?
Curiosity.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Masters of Public Diplomacy

"And his opportunity sat veiled by his side like an Eastern bride waiting to be uncovered by the hand of the master."
-Joseph Conrad, Lord Jim



So walked the finest class of public diplomats; the PD Bloomsbury Group headed across the stage and crossed the rubicon into graduation.

The other day I likened our graduating class to the immaculate Museo Iconografico de Don Quijote in Guanajuato, Mexico.  Unlike most museums that are comprised of similar styles for different ideas, the Don Q museum was comprised of many different and disparate styles focused on one ideal.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

MPD

As sayeth the wise man Harry: "MPD? Is that Master of Punching Donkeys?"

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Herbert Hoover and Public Diplomacy of the Deed

A piece for the USC Center on Public Diplomacy that came out of my recent travels up to NorCal.

HERBERT HOOVER AND THE ORIGINS OF AMERICAN PUBLIC DIPLOMACY OF THE DEED
MAY 12, 2010Posted by APDS Bloggers
All posts by APDS Bloggers


APDS Blogger: Paul Rockower

With the recent earthquakes that devastated Haiti and Chile, the concept ofaid diplomacy has arisen in the global consciousness. Aid diplomacy is predicated on the notion that in times of crisis, nations can do well in public diplomacy terms by doing good works for those in need.

Recently, as I wandered around Stanford University, I was reminded of what might be the first case of American aid diplomacy.. On display at the museums and library of Stanford’s Hoover Institution and Hoover Tower is a moving reminder of the remarkable example of aid diplomacy carried out by Herbert Hoover.

With the outbreak of the Great War, the engineering magnate Herbert Hoover undertook efforts to organize relief and transports for Americans stranded on a European continent descending into strife. As bloodshed and chaos played out in the northern European theater of Belgium, global attention turned to care of the starving women and children in the battlefield that the country had become. Hoover’s previous efforts of organizing logistics for relief efforts for those Americans trapped in Europe led the American Ambassador to Britain to ask him to organize theCommission for the Relief of Belgium (CRB).

Hoover answered the ambassador’s request, and went on to found and direct what was termed: “[a] pioneering effort in global altruism.” Under Hoover’s leadership, the CRB fed and cared for Belgian women and children who were starving under German occupation as well as from the British naval blockade. The CRB provided food, medicine and clothing to millions of Belgians as well as those in Northern France on a daily basis until the war came to a close.

The museum offers moving anecdotes related to the CRB’s efforts, stating that the Belgian children were: “shivering, grasping bowls and pitchers and the precious little cards that would guarantee them a meal. Upon receiving his or her allotment, each would pause, bow and utter a single word: Merci.”

Meanwhile, when America entered the Great War in 1917, President Woodrow Wilson appointed Hoover as head of the U.S. Food Administration. With the war’s conclusion, Hoover served as the director general of the American Relief Administration (ARA), Hoover coordinated humanitarian relief to more than 20 countries. The ARA even conducted a massive famine relief effort in Bolshevik Russia from 1921 to 1923, and fed more than 11 million people a day at its height.

On display at the Hoover museum and libraries are various remembrances of the aid efforts and its public diplomacy value seen in the “Save the Children of Belgium” posters alongside pictures of Belgian appreciation rallies and letters of friendship to honor American fidelity to the people of Belgium. There were other pictures of later orphan efforts carried out by the ARA in Poland, Austria and Lithuania. Alongside the pressed flower gifts sent as thanks by children in Belgium, there were numerous “Thank You” letters featuring the American and Belgian flags together. Meanwhile, there were sacks of grain in bags declaring the contribution’s provenance from Southeast Iowa or stating its nature as a gift contributed by the People of Kentucky to Belgian noncombatants.

“An American epic,” was what Hoover termed his efforts and declared that it demonstrated American responsibility to the people of Europe. The example offered by Herbert Hoover’s aid efforts are a stirring reminder that the existence of a friend in need is the possibility for good public diplomacy of the deed.



Paul Rockower is a graduate student in the Masters in Public Diplomacy program at USC and a PDiN research intern at the USC Center on Public Diplomacy. He graduates this week and will miss CPD :(. You can follow his misadventures at: http://levantine18.blogspot.com.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Rebrand SanFran

My trip to NorCal has left me with a great rebranding campaign for Frisco:
San Francisco- the only city where hot girls will buy you a drink.

The path towards peace leads through Mea Shearim

Nomi sent over an article about the Fatah sending a delegation to the funeral of Rabbi Moshe Hirsch of Neturei Karta. In it, the Fatah delegate promised they wouldn't give up on Mea Shearim as part of a Palestinian capital in East Jerusalem.  Really?  Promise?  You can have Mea Shearim.  I never knew compromise on Jerusalem could be so easy!  You might even pull the Shinnui crowd over towards the peace camp if you keep talking like this....

Mark Langston; OC Angels

Jim Abbott—the one-armed wonder. There is nothing Los Angeles about this place. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim is a misnomer. Anaheim Angles works. California Angels, fine. Bobby Grich’s finest. No one else claimed the mantle of California.

But fun. Don Baylor fun.  Rally Monkey fun. A decent chicken sausage with peppers, onions and sauerkraut. Some banter with some real fans. Wally Joyner’s sweet swing. Two strike-out double plays, really? Nolan Ryan’s grimacing grin and no-hitter fancy.

But LA Angels does not work.  The park isn't even in LA county. Somewhere Donnie Moore gently weeps; somewhere Chuck Finley smiles. Here is a better idea, how about the OC Angels.  Makes sense as the OC name is also a recognized brand, and more represents both the brand and fan base.  


PS: WTF!  I had to leave the game in the 8th to catch my train back.  It was 4-1 and the Angels were cruising. Figured it was fine.  Nope. Their reliever blew it in the 9th, only to win in 11.  Bollocks! Go Halos

Monday, May 10, 2010

The Arab League of Hip Hop

A great piece in Foreign Policy on hip hop diplomacy. Maybe we can arrange a summit with Hadag Nachash....

Settlers as Sabbateans

Ha'aretz has an excellent piece comparing the Settlers to the Sabbateans. The story of Shabbatai Tzvi and the Sabbateans is a complex one, but a reminder that messianic movements and movements of zealotry for the Jewish people often end in heartbreak.

East vs. West Pakistan Cont.

I received a good comment from Jeffrey, I am posting with my comments:

Jeffrey said...

Those watching Fareed Zakaria on this week's Global Public Square on CNN would have noticed his line-up to discuss radicalization of America's Muslim youth. Strangely, he gathered a Canadian populist, a French author and a Lebanese professor (teaching in London) to discuss what radicalizes some youth in USA.


Zakaria would have found an expert right in New York who has been examining possible factors contributing to radicalization. Experts point out to a globalization of grievances which push the disenchanted to desperation.

As noted by Scott Atran, the popular notion of a "clash of civilizations" is woefully misleading. Violent extremism represents a crash of traditional territorial cultures, not their resurgence, as people unmoored from millennial traditions flail about in search of a social identity. Individuals now mostly radicalize horizontally with their peers, rather than vertically through institutional leaders or organizational hierarchies: in small groups of friends -- from the same neighborhood or social network -- or even as loners who find common cause with a virtual internet community. Ways must be found beyond our own bombs and bullets to channel this disaffection, through the same culturally-savvy sorts of peer-to peer appeals and interactions that sustain the jihad. Enthralled by the economic opportunities of globalization, we are failing in Pakistan, that most unstable of nuclear nations, as in our own backyard, to help manage the global crisis of cultures that is shattering social and political peace, and grabbing marginalized youth away from us and into the waiting arms of violent extremism.


Paul Rockower said...

Thanks Jeffrey, those are all interesting point you raise. I am familiar with Atran's work. There is another semi-related piece by John Seabrook about the disproportionate nature of those who create violence and a policy of micro-targeting as the best means to stop them.   This particular article is about gangs, but, as they say in SE Asia, a little "same-same, but different" logic can be applied.

East vs. West Pakistan

With the links appearing between the boffed Times Square bomber and the Pakistani Taliban, Pakistan is right back in the news of negative light.  Fareed Zakaria has a good piece about the nature of the Pakistani state as a terrorist supermarket.  It is unfortunate.  I really like Pakistan and find its people warm, friendly and tired of their country maligned for the bad apples in their midst.

The one thing that I always find so interesting is Pakistan vs. Bangladesh.  Hence the title of this blog.  Bangladesh was born as East Pakistan only to break away in the fierce 1971 war.  To paraphrase a quote, I think by Rushdie, Bangladesh saw that it was not included in the acronym comprising the Pakistani state, wised up and decided it was best to leave.

Pakistan and Bangladesh are both Muslim nations, have a similar population size and Bangladesh is a poorer place.  Yet there is no Bangladesh jihad threat to speak of and no one worries about Bangladesh.  I think a lot has to do with the tribal nature of each state.  Bangladesh is an ethnically homogeneous  state of Muslim Bengalis, while Pakistan is an amalgamation of Punjabis (the majority), Pashtuns, Baltis and Balochis plus the Mohajirs (those who left with partition).  My feelings from my cursory glance is that is where the difference lies.

The question remains how to make West Pakistan more like East Pakistan, and that is an answer I don't yet have.  I am very interested in visiting Bangladesh, and will try to make it in the coming year.  I would also like to get back to Pakistan, as I want to do a photo exhibit on Cosmo Pak- the side of Pakistan we don't often get to see. I would also like to get back to see my Seeds of Peace campers.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Israeli PillD; F' You Clown

A good piece on Teva- the Israeli company that is the world's largest manufacturer of generic drugs.  A not-so-good piece on Israel barring a clown from entering.  Reminds me of my fav clown joke....

Tijuana: Not Under Siege

The LA Times has a nice piece on the front page about Tijuana not actually being a war zone and actually isn't under siege.  Oh, but they still file it "Mexico Under Siege."  This gets back to my previously leveled critique about the "under siege" moniker and its speciousness.  If the article is about how Mexico is not actually under siege, don't taint it with such headlines.

While LA Times Foreign Editor Bruce Wallace might not have appreciated my criticisms of his fair rag, another fellow named Chris Jones had this to say about my "Mexico: Under Siege?" piece:
Truly prescient observation. I'm a former journalist and hobby tour operator that has visited Mexico with guests almost every year in the last 10, mostly to Mexico City and points south. The insistence of the media on speaking of the country as though it is entirely in crisis has done tremendous perceptual damage to the U.S. / Mexican relationship. The economic damage to Mexico's tourism and artisania industries is particularly unfortunate.

Vertigo

"Only one is a wanderer.  Two together are going somewhere."
Alfred Hitchcock's Vertigo

California as Nanny State; Liberal TX

One of my biggest critiques of California is that I don't actually find it that liberal.  Or that I actually found Texas more liberal.  My knock on California is that its liberalism is a very legislated liberalism: a smug, nanny state sort of liberalism that seems condescending and intrusive.
Like signs declaring that things are known to the State of California that other might simply not be so knowledgeable or San Fran's fines if you don't compost.  I prefer the Texas version of liberalism, which is much more of a libertarian bent.

NorCal photos up

Pics from:

From San Fran



From Oakland



From Sacramento



From Stanford and San Jose

The Kimchi Warrior; 2 Scoops of Public Diplomacy

As I mentioned a while back, I sent my article on Korean Tacos and Kimchi Diplomacy to the Korean Consulate and they responded with an invitation to the screening of the Kimchi Warrior. On wednesday, I met my classmates Renee and Candace at the massive Korean Cultural Center for the grand premiere of the Kimchi Warrior.


The reception began with a tasting of some milky rice wine whose name I since forgot but really liked. It reminded me of a sweet version of pulque. The screening got underway to an audience of more than 100 people. The director came and spoke about his influence from Popeye, and how in many ways the Kimchi Warrior was akin to a Korean Popeye.  Brilliant adoption of a Western symbol to an Eastern Context!

We watched the 5 part short series our kimchi hero battling other maladies such as Swine Flu,  Mad Cow Disease and Avian Flu.  The Kimchi Warrior battled the monsters with radish nunchucks and a kimchi gatling gun.


My favorite episode was when the Kimchi Warrior came to the aid of the Curry Warrior to fight the plague of Malaria.  They danced Bollywood on victory.  In one episode, there was even a cameo from Prez Obama, who planned to incorporate kimchi into the healthcare reform.

The series was a cute and unorthodox version of cultural diplomacy.  It had a real cult classic feel, and I enjoyed it.  It is a smart and unorthodox way of promoting Korea and symbols of Korea to different audiences through mass media entertainment.  Meanwhile, I liked the adoption of notions like Popeye and the use of villains combed from the headlines.  It also left me brimming with all sorts of Kimchi Diplomacy ideas that I will unleash shortly.

Keeping with my tales of a hunger-blatherer, a little on Ice Cream Diplomacy.  In my paper about Qatar's niche diplomacy through conflict resolution I mentioned that the tiny gulf nation's efforts in Lebanon to bring the political crisis to a close brought them two scoops of public diplomacy in that an ice cream shop in downtown Beirut started serving the Doha Agreement Cone.



Fast forward to a piece this week in the GlobalPost about Syrian Ice Cream Diplomacy. Ironic, because it was a Syrian who invented the ice cream cone.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Moi, interviewed

The rough cut of my interview for the Docu-thesis project.

Paul S. Rockower, Public Diplomacy, 21st Century Family of Man from Amber Rose Kandarian on Vimeo.

The Ripkin tariq

A cute piece about Iraqi kids playing baseball with the Ironman.

Sunny Days

A good piece by Roger Cohen on Israel and its psyche:
That, I think, is not a bad image of Israel today, prepared to relax slightly but mistrustful; feeling burned and misunderstood; seeing the outside world as hostile (including President Barack Obama); unconvinced of the possibility of peace but not prepared to dismiss it entirely; wanting at some level to think Fayyad can forge a reliable Palestine but also persuaded that Arabs are still bent on its destruction; led by a right-religious-Russian-settler coalition that reflects lasting rightward shifts in its society; enjoying the quiet but disturbed by what’s over the horizon, not least Iran. An Israel that’s shed its body armor for now but still carries a rifle.

He also quotes a poem by Mahmoud Darwish:
“Me or him
That’s how war starts. But it ends in an awkward silence
Me and him.”

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

On Diaspora and disagreements

A good piece in the NY Times on Israel and diaspora disagreements.  Ty Nomi.

Chinglish 101

The NY Times has a piece on chinglish. Scroll through, my fav is number 8.

Whither Small Government?

Dana Milbank has a great piece on who the small-gov people come running to when the oil hits the seas...good ol' Uncle Sam and government. An especially telling bit of info:
An analysis of data from the nonpartisan Tax Foundation by Washington Post database specialist Dan Keating found that people in states that voted Republican were by far the biggest beneficiaries of federal spending. In states that voted strongly Republican, people received an average of $1.50 back from the federal government for every dollar they paid in federal taxes. In moderately Republican states, the amount was $1.19. In moderately Democratic states, people received on average of 99 cents in federal funds for each dollar they paid in taxes. In strongly Democratic states, people got back just 86 cents on the tax dollar.

Our Socialist-in-Chief said:
President Obama tried to remind the government-is-the-enemy crowd of this situation in a speech on Saturday. "Government is the police officers who are protecting our communities, and the servicemen and -women who are defending us abroad," he said. "Government is the roads you drove in on and the speed limits that kept you safe. Government is what ensures that mines adhere to safety standards and that oil spills are cleaned up by the companies that caused them."

Alot of New Pics up

The alot beast has posted many pics:

From A Focus on Global Health




From Yellow roads to SLO



From SLO



From Joshua Tree


From Coalla Gardens (Joshua Tree)



From View from Joshua

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

You've Come a Long Way, Baby

Two interesting articles related to women's rights.  First, from the LA Times on the 50th anniversary of the Pill.  My aunt like to quote Norman Mailer, who weighed in that the golden age of sex was from the advent of the pill to the coming of the AIDS crisis.  During that brief period, sex was never so safe, possible and acceptable.  I have instead grown up in an age when sex was never "safe".

Second on Iran joining the UN's Commission on the Status of Women.  Great, a country that stones adultresses (never adulterers, mind you) is now working to progress women's rights.

PDiN Monitor

PD Monitor has a new edition out on PD publications.  Have a read, 'tis interesting.

Monday, May 03, 2010

Press Freedom Day

Two interesting articles on Press Freedom Day. One from Australia on its role of the Australia Broadcasting Corporation in Fiji. The other in the Los Angeles Times on censorship with an interview with Israel's chief censor.

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Mother Karen

There is a fantastic and terrifying piece on the Karen uprising against the Burmese regime.  It is called "For Us Surrender is Out of the Question."  Very much worth a read.  There are already plans in the works on how to help the Karen with some service on the public diplomacy front.  For now, all payment will probably come in stick soup.  However, after we help overthrow the Burmese regime, maybe we can get paid in Burmese rubies.

Myths about immigration and truths about the debate

WaPo has a good piece on immigration myths.

Frank Rich has a great piece on the debate's deeper meaning:

Arizonans, like all Americans, have every right to be furious about Washington’s protracted and bipartisan failure to address the immigration stalemate. To be angry about illegal immigration is hardly tantamount to being a bigot. But the Arizona law expressing that anger is bigoted, and in a very particular way. The law dovetails seamlessly with the national “Take Back America” crusade that has attended the rise of Barack Obama and the accelerating demographic shift our first African-American president represents.

The crowd that wants Latinos to show their papers if there’s a “reasonable suspicion” of illegality is often the same crowd still demanding that the president produce a document proving his own citizenship. Lest there be any doubt of that confluence, Rush Limbaugh hammered the point home after Obama criticized Arizona’s action. “I can understand Obama being touchy on the subject of producing your papers,” he said. “Maybe he’s afraid somebody’s going to ask him for his.” Or, as Glenn Beck chimed in about the president last week: “What has he said that sounds like American?”

Saturday, May 01, 2010

Superman was an illegal alien

I ceased mopping, rallied and headed out on the town.  I made my way to the dash stop, and while I was waiting a group of old black folks came by and sat down.  A woman was holding a sweet potato.  I asked her where she got the yam, and she and her compatriots chimed in to go to the church behind me, through the gates in the back.  I wandered my way into the end of the weekly barbecue and got a sweet potato. 

“I yam what I yam,” wrote Ralph Waldo Ellison in the Invisible Man.  But I am reminded that love for G-d is borne out of compassion, charity and good works.  This particularly so in sweet potato variety.

I took the Dash downtown and saw la gente coming out of an immigration rally.  I let the trains decide my fate of whether to join the rally or continue on my planned direction.  The Westbound train came first and I headed towards West LA.  I got out at the Vermont/Santa Monica section and was lured in by the smell of tacos.  I grabbed  asado and lengua tacos that oozed juicy goodness and watched the rally.  I finished my fare and promptly headed back the way I came to the rally.

I arrived to the rally down broadway and joined the throngs of the Legalize LA crowds waving yellow banners of John Kennedy’s immortal words on immigration:
"Immigration policy should be generous; it should be fair; it should be flexible.  With such a policy, we can turn to the world and to our own past, with clean hands and a clear conscience."
I once gave that passage to my students studying for the citizenship exam and we discussed those poignant words.  They were duly moved then; I still am.

The scene was a sea of flags, mostly US but also Mexico and other CentAm countries.  Signs declared “Todos somos Arizona” and “Worker, Taxpayer, Citizen.”  The sounds of “si, se puede” and horns filled the air, along with popsicle cart bells, while the smell of bacon-wrapped hotdogs hung on the breeze.  Ah, the sounds and smell of immigration reform.  

Mayday, Mayday

The distress signal call. I woke up at 8am today, superlate for me and an indication I am trying to hide from the world. May is the month that everything changes. June 1st, I will be in Taipei. All of the fulfillment I have found over the last two years comes crumbling down. For someone who loves new experiences and change, I actually handle it very poorly. See under: The Siege.