Thursday, April 29, 2010

i saw this story on a blog of a blog....of a blog i follow. quite interesting.
the photographer is Marco Vernaschi whose portfolio is pretty interesting. as well. i should probably find a word better than "interesting", but thats all i can think of for now.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

“If they had resources, they would not be killing each other over grazing ground and water.” ~Wangari Maathai

i'm reading a book right now. and i just finished watching a documentary. and the other day i saw a different documentary related to the same topic. and....not too long ago i saw a little video about the same general topic. it's all coming together.... Krishna wants me to know what the deal is.

book= Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer
documentary=Food Inc.
other documentary=Dirt! The Movie

i think watching all or any of these things i just listed really lets you see that things are fucked up. and something HAS to change. there is no way that we are going to be able to live comfortably, let alone live, if we continue doing things the way we do. and by "we", i mean citizens in Western nations; in "first-world" countries. the problems of this system we continue to add to are not as easily seen by us because they don't impact us as much (yet). it's impacting people of color in third world countries. i did a post a while back about photos by Andrew McConnell that literally shows you where our trash ends up, and another link showing you the oceans it collects in. no, it isn't in a huge dump somewhere in Wyoming, it's in the back yards of Ghanaians (among hundreds of other places), piling up in the middle of our oceans, and is being dumped on the coast of African countries.

Eating Animals has been tremendously informative book. not only does it go into the morals and concepts behind eating animals (obviously), but it also goes into arguments by other authors, as well as the politics of the meat industry, the history of it, what fast food has done to it, what capitalism means to it, and the overall health of those that eat meat versus those that do not. i'm a visual learner, do having a book that lists facts and statistics the way this book does is very helpful.
Eating Animals and Food Inc. both do a good job of showing that refusing to eat meat is not only an emotional decision (insert typical image of vegetarians crying over dogs and chickens), but also an environmental one, and one against capitalism, one against abuses against factory workers and one in favor of better health.

the meat industry is one of the most exploitative, unethical and corrupt industries in the United States (note that i am speaking of meat consumption in the United States. it is very different from meat consumption in....a small village in Sri Lanka). theres so much that this industry does that impacts the rest of our lives. rain forests, for example, are being cut down at staggering rates mainly for livestock and factory farms. the soil is then destroyed from having vegetation ripped out and being smothered in the tons (literally TONS) of manure. it then limits the number of resources that can be grown on the land after the factory farms gave ravaged it. which then limits a town's or country's sustainability. this is why we're fishing on the coast of African and getting wood from South America.
politics is another example. individuals that headed factory farms now head organizations like the FDA and the USDA. there are laws that exist that make things like shutting down plants that have shipped out contaminated meat more than once....illegal and things like slaughter houses refusing more they have also fought vehemently against having ingredient labels and country of origin labels not because it is healthier or better for the consumer, but because they know they would lose money were facts to come out. and that doesn't include the lack of respect they have for their consumers, like the examples of the politics i just used, as well as knowing the lack of sanitation in their factories. when cows spend their days standing knee deep in their own feces, and then go into the slaughter house with it caked on their hides, and workers have to kill 500 or more cows in one shift, then theres no wonder the biggest diseases this century have been food born illnesses. the level of production, (which has nothing to do with feeding the poor or the masses, considering most of it is trashed) which is constantly increasing makes sanitation insignificant.
they also have no respect for their workers (mostly minorities and more increasingly undocumented workers) who have more work-related illnesses and injured than the majority of jobs. and they get paid minimally. these are the type of people they hire because these are the least likely people that will sue or quit. it's the pinnacle of exploitation. i could go more into this, but i think this post will be too long....and i haven't even gone into the health statistics the meat industry so happily disregards. not to mention the lack of respect these farm factory corporations have for farmers that actually want to raise their meat on feed they've actually evolved to eat (like grass....crazy, i know. but cows now eat mainly corn, even though it increases the amount of E.Coli that grows in their stomachs) and regard animal husbandry with veneration. but there are plenty of websites (linked at the bottom) that offer more information and statistics on the industry.

the video i mentioned above is also very informative. knowing where and how our resources are used up and discarded i think should impact everyone to change the way they buy and manage their waste. it speaks about capitalism as well and how industries like these thrive in capitalistic societies. i don't buy much crap that i don't need, but i work at Target, and people really do buy shit they don't need all the time. really, how is it that you spend $50 on cologne? $80 on DVDs (bootleg anyone?) ? $15 on a scarf is fairly ridiculous too. and this is not including Christmas, Easter and Halloween, which we all know have no real significance anymore besides buying shit you don't need for absurd prices that you more and likely won't use a week after the holiday. $110 on a life-sized Santa that sings and blinks? really? REALLY? and women, black women specifically spend RIDICULOUS.....ABSURD amounts of money on cosmetics and hair. $200 for a hairstyle? just because you paid $100 less than your cousin does not make you any smarter. you're a fool and so is she. you're beautiful just the way you are. you have to be the first to believe it. anymore than $15 a month on cosmetics and you need to prioritize. it really gets disgusting after a while when you see how frivolous we Americans are with our money. i'm sure we can find better ways to spend our money.

it's actually kind of backwards the way we think about eating meat. Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern (one of my favorite shows) is one of the seemingly grossest shows. he eat everything from squirrel brains, petrified shark, and dog to ostrich eggs, camel, and horse. and the other day saw the episode where he goes to the Appalachian mountains and has a meal with those that live in the mountains in ways they did in the 1800's. they had squirrel and deer and they ate every part of the animal. the brain, the liver, the rectum-everything. and my initial response to this is disgust, but if you think about their way of eating (and the way of many other people in other countries) is the most sustainable and respectable way of eating one could do. for one, they hunt their animals, meaning their animals see sunlight, have access to open air, don't wallow in their own feces, and grow on natural foods...none of which can be said for animals from factory farms. they're also aren't poked with electric prods, skinned, scolded or have their limbs severed while being conscious....which again, cannot be said for their factory farm raised counterparts. the book and the documentary, i think, advocate not only for veganism and vegetarianism (or maybe even freeganism), but also for eating meat from farmers that understand, appreciate, and implement proper animal husbandry.

and all this ties in together. the way you eat, the politicians you vote for, the way you all is tied in together. and if one is dysfunctional, the entire system is.

think. change the way you think. criticize. comment.

environmental effects of eating meat:

injustices against factory workers:

ill-managed waste:

respectable farmers:

Saturday, April 24, 2010

cuba and socialism and homelessness

i did somewhat of a book review a couple posts back about this book i'm reading-Black Rage Confronts the Law by Paul Harris and so far it has been really eye-opening. but not just about the "black rage defense", but also about the judicial system, our government as a whole, the supposed morals of our system, and in contrast to the law codes of other nations. here is an excerpt:
"In the united states you have a fourth amendment constitutional right to have your home free from searched without a warrant. but you have no right TO a home. which right would the man sleeping under the Los Angeles freeway prefer? in Cuba, the constitution states that the "socialist state strives to provide each family a comfortable place to live." decent housing for all is a goal of the society, and that goal is expressed in the constitution as a legal obligation by the government. this would raise an interesting legal question if the Cuban state tried to prosecute a homeless person for sleeping in a park. that person's lawyer should be able to defend the case on the grounds that the state failed to strive to provide a decent place to live according to Article 8(c) of the Constitution. actually, the parks and streets of Cuba are not filled with homeless people, even under its present economic crisis. but if they were, the legal system would provide a possible defense for the homeless.

the result in America is totally different, because our legal reasoning presupposes that there is no legal obligation for a government to provide housing for its people. in fact, what is taking place in America is the criminalization of homelessness.

there are many cases around the country dealing with homelessness. in 1995 the California Supreme Court ruled in Tobe v. City of Santa Ana that the city could prosecute and send to jail for six months and person who camps out or stores their personal belongings (a shopping cart for example) in a public park, street, or area. Justice Stanley Mosk, in dissent, angrily criticized the city for arresting person "whose sole 'crime' was to cover themselves with a blanket and rest in a public area." the decision noted the fact that the city provided shelters, but on any given night there were 2,500 more homeless people than there were beds in shelters. in Cuba, such a fact might be used as a defense, arguing that the government was failing to attempt in good faith to provide housing. but in the United States, this fact was considered legally irrelevant to the decision of the court. is being poor legally irrelevant to a criminal case? is being black and suffering actual discrimination legally irrelevant to a criminal defense?"

the case Harris mentioned reminded me of this old Law & Order episode i saw a while back. a homeless man was being prosecuted for murdering a fellow homeless man. he said he killed him over a plate of food one had found int he trash, or something along those lines. his lawyer made the case that he was, in a sense, justified in killing this man because, being homeless meant that he lived under different laws. he was never able to turn survival mode off. and considering this is a capitalistic country, his acts pretty much mimic our governmental system on a smaller scale.
if a plate of food is the only thing standing between you and death, then you may have to kill someone over it. and if you do, then is this really a "crime"? legally, yes, but a moral crime? arguably.

what does it say about a government that does not help one obtain a home, but criminalizes the act of not owning one? what does it say about our, for the most part, capitalistic system? what, ultimately, is the role of the government?

comment. think. read.

Friday, April 23, 2010

found this on a blog i like. now if only they could get the eye color right.....
maybe that'll take another decade...

Thursday, April 22, 2010

find something better to do with your trash.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

have you seen the KKK?

yesterday i was talking with one of my coworkers and i mentioned i was from Alabama. his response, like others i've gotten, have been questions about the race relations there (all of these people have been black). "isn't it scary living down there?" or "have you ever seen the KKK?"
moving to New York i had many people telling me this was a dangerous city filled with hoodlums, druggies, rapists and murderers. one of my coworkers in Alabama even offered me her mace when i told her i was moving. few, if any, of those individuals had actually been here, let alone lived here. and thats the same case with the New Yorkers i've encountered that ask me about the south.
it seems as though many northerners believe that the south is stuck in the 60's in which blacks are still being lynched on a daily basis, having to move off the sidewalk to let whites pass, and are constantly bombarded by the N-word. even moreso, they think that the KKK is still....running things, i guess.
my coworker asked me if i'd ever seen the KKK.
no, i haven't. although they do have the occasional rallies member orientation (??) in some smaller neighboring towns (i am from Enterprise. just think south of Montgomery and a little north of Florida). and if i ever had encountered the KKK, more and likely, they would give me some bullshit speech about how they don't really hate blacks and browns and Jews, they really just dislike miscegenation as opposed to real physical danger. i think people should be more alarmed by these blatantly racist groups, otherwise known as "tea parties" more than groups like the KKK which almost no one takes seriously anymore.

but i think the underlying implications are one, that the south hasn't progressed, two, that the north has and/or always was progressive, and third, that racism is always simple and overt.
in retrospect, i have encountered racism, but in ways that weren't really directed at me. i had a friend in elementary school that was forced into breaking up with her boyfriend in junior high by her parents because he was black. while the encounters i've had with her parents have been nothing but normal and pleasant. i've been in conversations with friends, where someone comes up and says to the person i'm talking with something like "did you hear Becky was pregnant? yea, and its by a BLACK man." to me: "....oh, no offense though." and at the time i was completely confused as to whether it actually was offensive. fortunately, i've progressed. other than that, i cannot say i have encountered blatant racism directed at me.

to the second and third point.....we all need to realize that racism exists everywhere. just because theres a ton of black people here, with blacks holding office and living in extravagant brownstones does not mean racism isn't here. it is there when you look at the black unemployment rate, the schools that are being closed down (most pupils being blacks and latino), in the schools populated by blacks and latinos that have less than average test scores and skyrocketing drop-out rates, and in the seat that no one will sit in on the subway more and likely because theres a black man next to it.
the other day my roommate, who is born and raised in Harlem, was telling me about how theres no white people living in projects, or at least not when he was growing up (he's in his late 20's). he said whites all lived in the rich neighborhoods, while almost all the blacks lived in lower-income housing, with no in-between. i asked him if this warped his concept of what he, or any black person could achieve, considering he knew not one black that was well off, let alone middle class....and he said it definitely did. and from what i've experienced, that is pretty much how it seems to be. there are some stops on the train in which only whites get on or off, and these are the rich areas, while any stop that has mainly minorities getting on or off are more and likely low or lower-income housing areas.
i might even go so far as to make the argument that the race relations are more warped in the north than in the south. most Jews are in one neighborhood, most Puetro Ricans in another, most Italians in another, Chinese in another, most blacks in one (which, as i've come to learn, are made of two sub-groups-one being "regular black", which is anyone that has no island heritage in their family, and then theres blacks from the Islands like Jamaica, Haiti, Trinidad, Barbados, etc. the latter is the nighborhood i live in. mostly....non-regular blacks?? irregular blacks??), most whites in another. i mean, one could almost assume that this segregation is government mandated. and with this separation comes ignorance. and ignorance breeds a plethora of problematic and counter-productive concepts, stereotypes, and ultimately racism. not to mention that it makes racist policies easier to implement when all one group is in one neighborhood.
in my hometown, there are whites, blacks, asians, hawaiians...and probably everything else. this could have something to do with the fact that Enterprise is right next to an army base, bringing in people from everywhere. but i think this is the case in the rest of my town. not that there is a lot of diversity-it's still mainly white. my point is more so that all of one group is not living in one neighborhood. there are blacks and whites in all of the neighborhoods. and the schools don't have all latinos and blacks going to one school while the whites all attend another.
then again, this may just be my town in particular considering it is neighboring a military base. maybe it is the anomaly . i don't think i can say the same for the smaller neighboring towns.

if you haven't been to the north, it is not what you think. and if you haven't been to the south, it is not what you think. not everywhere, anyway. then again, i probably can't speak about "the north" and "the south" considering i'm really only mentioning my small town vs. NYC.

think. travel. comment. offer your perspective.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Kwesi Abbensetts

i love the photography by this artist Kwesi Abbensetts. and i especially like the captions he adds to the photos. sample:

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Ghost World

i love this movie.

rent it. watch it. love it.

oh my god. i love this song!
Tevin Campbell was like the Trey Songz of the 90's. not that i think Trey Songz is actually hot (he's a notch below mediocre....), but his popularity with the sistas is up know what i mean.
where is he at these days anyway?
"congregation nod they head
and say amen
the deacon fell asleep again and
i stay woke"
~Erykah Badu

Friday, April 16, 2010

"You show me a capitalist, and i'll show you a bloodsucker."
~Malcolm X

Thursday, April 15, 2010