Wednesday, May 14, 2008

All those things I must....

...get out of my head if I am ever to have any hope of going to sleep.

1. Edwards endorses Obama. I haven't read the coverage yet, but I'm interested to see how Edwards, whose too-brief (for me) run focused on economic disparity and poverty, addresses the recent claims that Hillary was the champion of the economic underdog. I've always like John Edwards, and hope he will help Obama with that whole potential "elitism" problem (yeah, don't ask me to explain how Obama is somehow more "elitist" than our current silver-spoon, Yale-legacy, daddy-financed executive. Evidently "elitism" has something to do with a fundamental mastery of the syntax of American English).

2. Suffering all over in Asia. The sheer scope of the devastation and misery is unimaginable, and the intentional thwarting of relief efforts is heartbreaking. My adoption has made me feel perhaps naively connected to the people of China, and I am very upset by the string of anti-China news prompted by the Olympic scrutiny. It doesn't help that my in-laws seem to think it's okay to bash China (well, their granddaughter is "just American," according to them) for its economic policies, exploit its laborers, resent its increasing global presence, and minimize the sheer horror of this disaster ("Well, it's not like they had much to lose..."). And things had been getting so much better since the detente (with my in-laws, not between China and the U.S.). I'm haunted by images of forlorn children, or desperate mothers digging through the rubble.

3. Myanmar: see much of above. I don't understand, however, why if Myanmar's current regime is such a sham, why we don't continue to call it "Burma." It seems to me that one of our simplest methods for identifying an "illegitimate regime" (which this one, unlike some of our recent targets, certainly seems to be) is stubbornly to refuse to adopt the preferred term.

4. In general: how can there be so much more suffering than there is relief for the suffering? How can people bear so much?

5. Frontline's magnificent and dreadful episode on Everest last night. I was entranced, appalled, and exhausted when it was over. I've been something of an armchair afficianado of mountain-climbing since reading Jon Krakauer's Into Thin Air. (Yes, I know that Krakauer has a wretched habit of writing every story as though it were about Himself. I know that many people have legitimate issues with his depiction of several key players, and that there are varying interpretations of what went wrong on Everest 12 years ago. I still found the story fascinating. And I read Boukreev's equally self-serving version, too, along with some of the later reconstructions.)

I'm the kind of girl who thinks a car-ride of over 20 minutes must involve provisions, so I have no interest in actually testing myself against the elements. Still, the Brashears/Frontline version was harrowing. The re-enactments were excruciating--the dark, the bleakness, the constant wind-noise, the huddled climbers, frequently all-but-unrecognizable as human, rocking and jerking almost involuntarily. I suspect it's hard for any of us to imagine the kind of climate where leaving people to die is not only the wisest but the most obvious choice, or the kind of conditions where a single wrong step is death, or the situation in which one could freeze to death within 20 feet of safety. I was mesmerized, and completely and utterly spooked after watching it. By what, I don't know. But I was too afraid to take the dog out (thank gawd he has a bladder of apparently infinite capacity) and lay shivering in my bed for a long, long time before I drifted into an uneasy sleep and dreamt of primitive ape-like creatures wielding charred sticks.

6. How much I hate the "trading up" type home-improvement shows. I love the ones where they show you how two paper bags, a ball of twine, and a bottle of nail polish can transform a home from a dump to a palace, but I hate the pretentious, snotty, arrogant shoppers who complain about how the kitchen doesn't have granite, or stainless steel appliances, and vow that as soon as they drop 3/4 of a million dollars on this dump, they are going to rip out the perfectly functional appliances and kitchen, send them to the landfill, and put in something gaudy. I don't want to hear the childless couple going on and on about how they must have the "master suite" with double sinks and multiple showers and a jacuzzi. They are simply unwatchable, of course, juxtaposed with the recent news reports. How many children could you help with just the price of those upgraded countertops? The appliances?



At 7:13 AM , Blogger Portia said...

I have really been enjoying your political commentary lately. I especially appreciate your point here about Obama's elitist label. The whole charade simply makes no sense to me.

At 9:53 AM , Blogger Azulao said...

I agree with Portia. And with you, Dorcasina, about Home Improvement! Aiee!!

At 11:48 AM , Blogger Dorcasina said...

Thanks to both of you. I'm always a little nervous about posting on politics; I don't really claim to be very informed, nor do I want to invoke flaming or draw the attention of the "real" political bloggers. So thank you for the affirmation!

At 7:48 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

No! They don't really think that people didn't have much to lose? By what bloody criteria do they define their lives??? (Sorry, I know they're you're relatives, but man! That's just the most unbelievable thing I've heard in a long time). It took my breath away.

Inside Burma/Myanmar, the US and the UK, among others, do only refer to Burma as Burma (the Brits, of course, naming it such are particularly fond of the term). However, reporters, aid workers etc enjoy less privilege and so are obliged to refer to it as Myanmar, etc.. The reporters, the agencies, including the UN, could be told to leave at any time. (Telling embassies to leave would be an international incident). Thus, they are much more careful about what they say. When listening to in country reporters (media or, for example, the country rep for Unicef) talking about the situation, you can hear this tension and can perhaps read between the lines.

I also really enjoy your political commentaries. They are accessible and beautifully written - as are all your posts.

(ps. I would have made the exact same choice as you regarding your daughter's school - I was going to post that but I chickened out!)

At 11:28 AM , Blogger Nancy said...

I found this to be a very thought-provoking post and thank you for writing it. I put up my own post on the topic. Couldn't find words as eloquent as yours, so resorted to pictures. For now.

Well done.

Nancy, Near Philadelphia


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