Friday, April 11, 2003

Can anyone tell me how blogger dates entries? I worked on an entry yesterday and did not post it (see below, I Suppose I'll Have to Figure Out the Rules for Cricket) as per my promise to keep a day of silence. However, when I posted it today, it had yesterday's date. It leads me to assume Blogger dates per "post" not per "publish". Am I correct?

Thursday, April 10, 2003

I Suppose I'll Have To Figure Out the Rules for Cricket
By way of Kos, I found this.

Who are these people, these hyperpatriots, these supporters of free speech "as-long-as-you-say-what-I-want-to-hear", trying to kid? All Mr. Petroskey would have to do is say, look Susan, I know we're on different sides on this, but baseball is the all-American sport and I'd like to keep politics away from Cooperstown. So we talk about the movie and about baseball and we keep the war argument for another day, ok? If she agreed then broke her word he could be as righteous as he wanted about her lack of honor; in fact, she would be handing him a giant baseball bat and pointing to her skull. Instead, Mr. Petroskey has politicized baseball more than Ms. Sarandon could ever do, and confirmed the views of those who believe that this administration and its supporters are trying to destroy freedom of speech.

On the practical side, you have to be several bells short of a peal to think that folk like Saddam Hussein take Susan Sarandon or the Dixie Chicks into account when facing off with the marines. War protestors and anti-war celebrities may be good PR for them in trying to rally their own supporters ("See? Even Americans know this man is evil"), but when it comes down to brass tacks the only thing they count is the number of tanks bearing down on them.

Wednesday, April 09, 2003

A Moment of Silence
I'm going to honor the Cowboy's suggestion. I'll not be blogging tomorrow.

Sometimes the world is too much with us. We need to step back and remember the important things. The important people.

Emigres and Nation-Building
On this whole idea of Chalabi as the new head of the Iraqi government, Molly Ivins puts it like this:

One hesitates to make sweeping generalizations, but anyone who has studied the history of émigré groups knows the endless infighting and delusional quality of the émigré culture. (See if you can think of an example.)

I don't have to think very hard. I live with one.

The older Cuban exiles--the ones who supported Mas Canosa and Alpha 66 and the whole "next year in Havana" business--have always believed that they can go back to Cuba and reconstruct the world they remember. These are people who have suffered massive dislocation, both physical and emotional, and they yearn for the world they once knew as passionately as a Christian yearns for salvation, because it's the only world that makes sense to them. One of my cousins, with more accuracy than kindness, calls it the "Habana 1950 syndrome".

This belief is often represented in the ubiquitous bumper-sticker "No Castro? No problem". They believe, like those who think that Saddam's end means a massive turn to democracy in Iraq, that once Castro is gone, the world will return to "normal" and the years can be, if not erased, at least put right. The exiles will all return home, bringing the benefits of freedom and capitalism with them, and the people of the island will embrace them wholeheartedly. Like in the thriumphant finale of a parallel-world science-fiction novel, the villain's disappearance will wrench the Universe into the path it was supposed to have taken.

Reality is much grimmer than that, as anyone who has thought about it, even for a second, must acknowledge. We Cuban-Americans and the island Cubans have had forty three years of growing apart. Our life experiences have played out in such wildly differing matrices that there is almost no common ground except blood and love and good intentions. And that is not enough to build a society on.

To those who stayed and suffered under a regime, the triumphal return of the emigres and their assumption of power must be yet another slap in the face. Those who at risk of limb and life have tried to change the regime from the inside, who spent their time preparing for the new day, will feel that they are being thrust aside by strangers. And make no mistake, even if they are brothers, strangers they will be.

That's the awful reality of exile, and the real meaning of you can't go home again.

In the few middling to successful transitions we can point at, the people who succeed in ushering it in are usually from the inside: Nelson Mandela, Vaclav Havel, Lech Walesa

Tuesday, April 08, 2003

Blogging Around
Whom do I have to kill to keep this from happening?

Theresa has a great thread going on saints, including my very own patron, the apocryphal (and what do those old men in Rome know, anyway?) St. Barbara. Because of her close connection to towers and lightning, she is the patron saint of gunners, and all who work with high explosives, including astronauts. In one of Robert Heinlein's stories, the spaceport on the Moon is named after her (Troopers, maybe?).

Go read Jeanne. All of it. NOW.

Digby (whose links are bloggered) gives Matthew Yglesias a good answer. Check The Doctrine of Infallibility. So does Kevin.

Sunday, April 06, 2003

Bubu and the Bath
Now, to begin with, Bubu is a potbellied pig. He was a birthday gift to my sister three years ago. A tiny little bundle of piggery, all soft and sleepy, with a look in his little eyes and a fat tummy that resembled Yogi Bear's buddy.

Well, my sister married and moved into a third-floor one bedroom apartment, and we do have this big yard, so guess who got stuck with the pig? Not that I mind. Bubu's idea of a hard day is to play chase with my Mom around the yard in the morning for fifteen minutes, then collapse in exhaustion under the oak tree until dinner time, then sleep some more on his bed sheet in the porch until sleep time. A good eight hours in his blanket in the family room, breakfast, and he's ready for another hard fifteen minutes. If you are sitting near him he might deign to ask for a tummy rub, but he's not fanatical about it. High maintenance he is not.

Bubu is nothing like those adorable little pink piggies you see on tv. For one, he's a pure bred, and for another, he is a true boar. He has long, coarse but shiny black hair, and little piggy eyes that promise instant death if you stand between him and his favorite snack (apples). Short legs; he has the same kind of rump configuration as a corgi, but a long thin tail. The only thing cute about him is his little triangular mouth, which is just darling when he yawns, until you see the three-inch tusks.

He is not winsome and winning in his ways. He loves my sister, likes me and my Mom and tolerates my Dad and my sister's husband. Everyone else gets a grunt and a cold shoulder. He's been known to chase racoons, bluejays, and the light meter guy, which is a startling thing to see, because at 120 pounds he can still put on a burst of speed that could probably qualify him for at least the first leg of the Kentucky Derby. But mostly, leave him alone and he leaves you alone. About the only thing Bubu hates is taking a bath.

Unfortunately he needs baths. Pigs have no sweat glands, so they get overheated, and their skin can get very dry and flaky in the sun. So every two weeks or so he gets a big soaping with cat shampoo and a thorough daubing with hand lotion. The trick is to get him into his little sleep cage while in the yard and one person soaps and daubs while another feeds him apples. Again unfortunately, pigs are smart animals, and when he sees the sleep cage come out to the yard he knows what's coming. Then it's a race between his greed and his dislike of the water. We coax him with little pieces of apples until he can't stand it anymore and runs into the cage to get at the bowl. Then out comes the hose and the shampoo bottle.

Today we gave him a bath. Excuse me while I go get out of these wet clothes and into a hot shower.

Freedom and Fear
One of the things I remember most about Cuba was the fear.

Not everyday fear; people had normal lives, such as they were. When merchandise arrived at the store you lined up and hoped that by the time you got to the counter there would be something left. Kids still went to school, although you got a heavy dose of propaganda along with a good education. People still had birthday parties, quinces, and anniversaries; everybody pitched in with food and drink, and women made dresses out of carefully preserved pieces of fabric from their mother's or aunts' pre-revolution stashes. Everyone raised or grew something in their backyards, and everybody made do, traded, and shared. People fell in love, and married; out of love, and divorced. They were born and died; all the usual stuff.

But underneath there was a wariness. You watched everything you said and everything you did. You knew every move you made was reported to the authorities for the local Comite de Defensa de la Revolucion. Every block had one of these committees. It attracted all the vicious gossips and frustrated tinpot dictators, and your lives could very well be in their hands. Their job was to sit up in shifts and write down everything their neighbors did in the night. If something was out of the ordinary you would get a visit from the milicianos. Everyone knew someone who had been asked to go to the militia headquarters with them and never returned.

It is difficult to explain some of these things to Americans. To paraphrase one of my favorite writers, you have known nothing but freedom all your lives; do fish think about water? Most of you have never experienced first-hand the loss of those you love to a state's security machine; you have never been humiliated and assaulted for your beliefs by a mob while those supposed to maintain law and order stood by and watched; you have never been arrested and convicted for something you didn't do on the word of an unnamed informant; and you believe those things will never happen to you.

Maybe that is why so many of you hold your freedoms so lightly. You do, you know. You shout your pride about being an American, a citizen of the greatest country in the world. And it never occurs to you to ask what makes this country what it is. You call for the suppression of those who disagree with you "for the good of the country" and because we must "support our troops". You advocate violence against those who do not think like you. You hound, harass and lie.

And with every suppressed voice and imprisoned innocent you chip away at the greatness until nothing will be left that can be called America.