Sunday, November 30, 2008


i've been trying to closely follow the situation in thailand. i'm always interested in protest, whether i find it effective or justified or not. the situation in thailand is interesting because it sits at a strange interstice of justified and effective. is the current prime minister somchai wongsawat's associations with the past prime minister thaksin shinawatra reason enough to oust him from his position? it's hard for me to understand the differences in perspective between the urban thai and the rural folk. i do think however that if a people is seriously concerned and unhappy with the process in which their government operates, it must do everything in its power as a collective to change that government. the protests in thailand, the takeover of the airports, have paralyzed the country. these people are affecting a response from their actions, they have affected their own agency. while the desired response from the government has arrived for the thai protesters yet, i think it remarkable that such a group effort could be effective in this way. taking over an airport seems to be what it takes.
so here's the response from our government and the european union as quoted in an article from the new york times this morning:

"The United States State Department called the airport seizures 'not an appropriate means of protest' and urged protesters to 'to walk away from the airports peacefully.'

"European Union ambassadors in Bangkok issued a statement that called the seizures of the airports 'totally inappropriate.'

"'We urge the protesters to evacuate the airports peacefully without delay in order to avoid a major consular crisis and its economic consequences for Thailand,' the European ambassadors said."

i read this and was appalled. inappropriate? certainly the international community should be concerned that thailand, the government, society, and commerce, has been paralyzed and the protest could potentially be economically devastating. but a people must do whatever it takes to affect change. and who are we to call this effort inappropriate when we invaded a country to change its governmental regime for that country, democratic philanthropists that we are. i think this statement by the state department is completely inappropriate. who ever issued this statement could not even offer a solution or a constructive comment in regard to the situation. he or she just offers this chiding comment directed toward the citizenry of thailand.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

young couples dining out

the alabama senator richard shelby continuously disappoints me, as do almost all Alabama politicians. here in oregon, while there are disappointing politicians as well, some amazing individuals also work for the state as well. however, i read an article this morning from the birmingham weekly (which I still read despite being translocated) concerning senator shelby's opposition against bailouts for American automobile manufacturers as well as Citigroup, an organization that has gained a lot of attention in the past few days. the post by Kyle Whitmire notes that Shelby thinks bankruptcy would be a better idea than any sort of financial bailout, though the only reasoning offered by Shelby in the article is that a bailout might not work and would just be a waste. which is true. would a bailout work? is a bailout necessary? while i believe a bailout is necessary for both the big three car makers in america and Citigroup, i also worry that perhaps these corporations will crumble anyway. the chevy announced that its volt will hit the markets a year later than planned and cost $40,000. while the car is a plug-in and american-made, what will differentiate it enough to make it more desirable over hybrids made by foreign car companies. "american-made" doesn't mean much to the liberal, middle-class individuals and couples who can afford to buy hybrid vehicles. so where is chevy's advantage?

my answer to the economic crisis has been: pretend it doesn't exist. it seems like the best thing to do is to continue to spend money as one would were there not a financial crisis, permitting your budget and projected job stability. this makes sense considering a conservative economic stratagem these past years has tried to stimulate the economy by cutting taxes, supposedly so that the middle class has more money to spend. however, tax cuts and stimulus packages didn't provide enough to truly stimulate spending. however, now the economy surely shows a higher percentage of saving as people consider the economic future. thomas friedman in his opinion piece in this sunday's times even advises young people dining out to go home and save money instead. friedman sees this crisis far from over. contrary to friedman here, it seems to me that spending is generally what will stimulate the economy, however, i will admit that due to the nature of this financial crisis, simple spending will not stop the slow failure of mortgages and in conjunction, the banks which hold those mortgages. so is saving the answer? at this time, like we need an environmentalist to tell us what the average person can do daily to help save the environment, we need an economist to tell us what the average person can do to help the economy.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

tell me why i hate wednesdays

sipping a bowl of my favorite soup, cashew ginger carrot, i'm hoping to warm myself this evening. i've been cold all day. then hot. then cold. then hot. i have the cold and my body can't decide whether it's hot or cold. my throat is sore and i've been coughing all day. my nose is beginning to run. my whole body aches. i almost fell asleep at my desk, and for the half day i couldn't figure out where i was or what i was doing. it was a long day to say the least, especially after waking late and biking as quickly as possible all the way to the southwest. i took the bus back this afternoon so i could avoid the physical expenditure, and i'll probably do so tomorrow. i was so happy two days ago. remember? so, if i've visited you recently, you should probably lysol everything you own you'll be as confused and aching as i am now.

and now, drugs and a movie then sleep.

Monday, November 17, 2008

and now for something completely different

the weather and my life here in portland have plateaued. the last leaves fall from the trees, the air is generally cold except for the unseasonable warmth we've enjoyed through the weekend, and i expect the temperature to stay the same for a while until winter fully sets in around us. i found a job answering phone calls to a translation service. it's not glamorous or exciting particularly, but it's a job here in portland, the feat at which i thought i'd never succeed. after working three days now, i understand that while the bus system is warm and pretty convenient and efficient, it's not the quickest way to work. when i leave the house in the morning, i decide whether i have enough energy to ride my bicycle all the way to southwest macadam. by bike, the commute is little over thirty minutes, a little farther than four miles i think. if i decide to ride the train into downtown first and cut my bicycle ride in half, the entire trip takes about forty five minutes. basically, my commute is shorter now than it was when i was driving to work from either the suburbs or downtown birmingham. although, i worry that once the winter weather does brutally set in, it will be too cold to ride my bike all that way, especially considering that right now i am working from six in the morning to two forty-five in the afternoon, so i leave the house a little after five to be at work.

and despite the mean hours, having a job here in portland makes me feel more like i actually live in this city and less like i'm just camping out here or that booth and i ran out of gas here and couldn't drive any farther. josh helps cement that feeling as well. friday night, josh had some of his friends over, and booth and i invited helen, for a game night. we played all the portland usuals; games with mysterious names and instructions like "salad bowl" (which does not reference american multi-culturalism at all) or "the best game ever," which is truly fun, though nothing like you would expect. we also played "apples to apples" which reminded me of the long hours spent working in the coffeeshop at birmingham-southern, where the students would come and play board games for hours, screaming at the top of their lungs while i tried to study or read or watch a movie. alas, we were also probably a little loud as there was plenty of wine to be had, but we didn't have a midterm exam in a week for which to study.

josh and i slept in the next morning through the rally against california's proposition 8, which i really did want to attend. i think it would be exciting to see how excited oregonians can get about certain issues. i haven't seen any coverage on the event yet, but hopefully it was spectacular here in portland. josh and i did however manager to convince booth to sit around with us and watch the first season of twin peaks for hours and hours. it was suddenly dark and we made ourselves stop and be sensible. and after that, what? a quest for pie. i was hoping for pumpkin. the cold wind was against my desires and josh and i decided not to brave the walk to the market. we did waddle over to the blue diamond (the bar behind the house) to inquire into the possibility of pie. our kindly bartender informed us sadly she had none, but she did make a key lime pie drink for josh, which i tasted and which had the affect of only making me crave pie more. in lieu of pie then, we stocked up on junk food, and curled up with the television, something i haven't done in what seems like a while.

sunday, more of the same, more twin peaks, more television. we lied on the couch and relaxed. i hadn't done that in portland yet. just had a lazy weekend. no clubs. no parties. no socializing. and that's when i felt comfortable here: when i was doing absolutely nothing. it was just me and josh curled up on the most ordinary weekend. that's what it was: ordinary.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

yes we can?

in the coming days, obama will hold a news conference to underscore that despite the great jubilation that pours forth from our country after his win, our new president elect will not be able to wave a magic wand and fix our nations woes. the problems our nation faces are substantial and the solution complex, even with a majority in both the house and senate. even i must admit that as i woke yesterday morning dreaming of our new president, it seemed like the entire world was celebrating and changing. It feels like we're living in historic times, and it feels like everything would finally change with the close of the election, that somehow we would feel more comfortable, less worried, that i'd wake up and find twenty dollars. yet really, nothing has changed in this two days. and whatever change does come is going to be slow and difficult. remember what i've been harping on forever: the first hundred days! traditionally, the president is said to have the first 100 days in office to affect any real policy change. nagourney and rutenberg for the times report that barack obama wants something more: "They said they would discourage the traditional yardstick for measuring the accomplishments of a new president — the first 100 days. Mr. Obama told an interviewer toward the end of his campaign that it was more appropriate to talk about the first 1,000 days." but words are not the actual constraints of presidency and barack is no superman. for clinton, health care reform became impossible to pass, which, as you know, has been my big issue this election, and i only hope obama finds a way to deal with this his first term. but at this point, with the country in the position that it is, i couldn't predict anything. i mean, everyone i know, including myself, figured that the stock market would sing for at least a day after obama was elected. instead, "A nearly 500-point drop in the Dow Jones Industrial Average on Wednesday was a reminder that Mr. Obama’s election did not bring the financial crisis to a close." who saw that coming?

despite the uncertainty of our nation's economic and political position, as well as my own personally, i am certain that in less than two hours both sara c. and sara b. will arrive here in portland on this beautiful fall day. and by beautiful, i mean overcast and predictable. they'll get a real taste of portland weather in the cold months. booth and i have no definite plans for the saras right now, but i'm sure we'll find some way to fill our weekend. these are our first visitors from birmingham and i've missed them so much. i might cry when they have to leave on sunday.