Bill Keller on Civil War
from William Safire's ON LANGUAGE "First Civil - War"
"I'm searching for the perfect taco."
Honestly, I think the
Spartan warriors were known not just for their valor as legendary descendants of Hercules, but their honor and fidelity on the battlefield. Like Marine Corps training today, the rigorous development of a Spartan warrior brought about close bonds between fellow soldiers. However, unlike today’s “Band of Brothers”, the brotherhood of
Marines often state that the heartfelt concern they develop for their fellow brothers runs so deep that they will never leave a fellow marine behind. In
Now, I am clearly not calling on the forced induction of homosexuality in Marine Corps training. But I would be remised if I did not question the Department of Defense’s judgment in denying the rights of homosexuals to serve in our armed forces. If one of history’s greatest warrior states thrived on the open gayety of its soldiers, why can’t the Armed Forces do the same? So lighten up General Pace and allow a little fondling in the bunkers of boot camp, it might just save a soldier’s life
Look up while wandering the busy streets of Tsuen Wan and you'll notice something completely different: dilapidated tin roofs just barely visible over the tops of buildings. If you take a moment to climb to the roofs of one of these buildings and you’ll find yourself face to face with the remnants of a population explosion fifty years in the making. Half abandoned tin and concrete structures surrounded by a
As a half century of Hong Kong life is being coarsely removed in the interest of pricy real estate development, it is clear that the Hong Kong government, who once turned a blind eye to squatters it could not find housing for, is now finding these rooftop dwellings an ugly stain upon Tsuen Wan’s mounting skyline. God forbid having to look out your 39th floor office window every morning to see the poor hang their laundry out to dry; they were only once the backbone of
The Hong Kong we see today can very much be viewed as a half century reaction to mainland
But the growing number of squatter camps posed a major problem for the
Far from the "Cidades de Deus" of today’s global cities, the rooftop dwellers of Tsuen Wan consist of elder residents heavily integrated into the
The relocation for rooftop dwellers is a complex web of hypocrisy and embarrassment for the
After years of living in the same home, rooftop dwellers are only now finding themselves separated from their friends and neighbours, pushed into the more expensive life of public housing estates and forced to commute long distances to work each day. How these new tenants are suppose to afford their homes has never been addressed by the Hong Kong government, which only recommends a minimum wage of $17-18 HKD an hour in a city where McDonalds pays $15 HKD an hour. As the cost of real estate climbs, developers and private business are actively seeking to develop areas once reserved for
Parsimony is clearly not in the government’s vocabulary for development; only in the treatment of
Something was in the air. People were slowing down and looking back.
The American actress, who had ended up in the rear, could no longer stand the disgrace of it and, determined to take the offensive, was sprinting to the head of the parade. It was as if a runner in a five-kilometer race, who had been saving his strength by hanging back with the pack, had suddenly sprung forward and started overtaking his opponents one by one.
The men stepped back with embarrassed smiles, not wishing to spoil the famous runner's bid for victory, but the women yelled, “Get back in line! This is no star parade!”
Undaunted, the actress pushed on, a suite of five photographers and two cameramen in tow.
Suddenly a Frenchwoman, a professor of linguistics, grabbed the actress by the wrist and said (in terrible-sounding English), “This is a parade for doctors who have come to care for mortally ill Cambodians, not a publicity stunt for movie stars!”
The actress's wrist was locked in the linguistics professor's grip; she could do nothing to pry it loose. “What the hell do you think you're doing?” she said (in perfect English). “I've been in a hundred parades like this! You won't get anywhere without stars! It's our job! Our moral obligation!”
“Merde!” said the linguistics professor (in perfect French).
The American actress understood and burst into tears.
“Hold it, please,” a cameraman called out and knelt at her feet. The actress gave a long look into his lens, the tears flowing down her cheeks.
When at last the linguistics professor let go of the American actress's wrist, the German pop singer with the black beard and white flag called out her name.
The American actress had never heard of him, but after being humiliated she was more receptive to sympathy than usual and ran over to him. The singer switched the pole to his left hand and put his right arm around her shoulder.
They were immediately surrounded by new photographers and cameramen. A well-known American photographer, having trouble squeezing both their faces and the flag into his viewfinder because the pole was so long, moved back a few steps into the ricefield. And so it happened that he stepped on a mine. An explosion ran out, and his body, ripped to pieces, went flying through the air, raining a shower of blood on the European intellectuals.
The singer and the actress were horrified and could not budge. They lifted their eyes to the flag. It was spattered with blood. Once more they were horrified. Then they timidly ventured a few more looks upward and began to smile slightly. They were filled with a strange pride, a pride they had never known before: the flag they were carrying had been consecrated by blood. Once more they joined the march.
Flipping through a recent Sunday New York Times, I caught glimmer of Oprah dragging Bono, RED shopping bags in hand, out of an undisclosed Gap. The accompanying article by Michael Wine asserted that it wasn't just showmanship, but a virtuous persona that gave a handful of celebrities the ability to garner large public support for philanthropy. While Bono's persona of a debt relief-AIDS fighting-rock star may be a bit much, he brings in the dollars and cents. And while that's usually a good thing, it's exactly where this campaign gets muddled.
Wine's article quoted TidBITS.com's Adam Engst calling (PRODUCT) RED a form of “capitalictivism or activicapitalism:” a new breed of convergence between marketing and activism. Engst's fellow staff member, Mark H. Anbinder, described the campaign thusly, “The consumer wins, companies like Apple and Motorola win, and important charities win.” But I would disagree with both Engst and Anbinder. The type of marketing used in PRODUCT (RED) has been around for decades.
Take the most successful attempt at consumer activism: Fairtrade labeling, whose coffee isn't just sold around college campuses and bobo communities, but in supermarkets and mass-retailers worldwide. And Celebrities haven't been sitting on the sidelines either; the
“Capitalictivism or activcapitalism,” as Engst has called it, isn't a new breed of convergence, it just hasn't been done before on a scale like this. Jeff Carlson, another associate from TidBITS.com put it best when he stated, “Of course, you need major brands and major influence (in this case, Apple and Bono) to accomplish this type of deal at such a large level.” And that's exactly what chides me most about PRODUCT (RED): a campaign founded on guiding consumers towards socially conscious goods focuses more on corporate consumption than consumer activism (see this).
As chic as consumer activism may be these days, that new RED iPOD nano or RED Gap t-shirt isn't exactly what the (PRODUCT) RED campaign makes it out to be. Consumers, corporations, charities, and celebrities may all go home and pat themselves on the back, but how much assistance is the campaign actually providing? Unlike Fairtrade coffee, Blackspot shoes, or even American Apparel clothing (with all it's recent criticism), the brand names involved with PRODUCT (RED) aren't founded on socially conscious production. People should not forget that even though the Gap's (PRODUCT) RED line is sweatshop free, the corporation itself, is not.
More deplorable is the campaign's failure to address the issue of illegal Coltan mines in the
Product (RED) may prove to be fabulous at raising money to fight AIDS in