Friday, January 30, 2009

United by Grief --- Sicily Scene

Today has been the fourth day of a general strike on the beautiful but troubled island of Lampedusa. For newer readers, Lampedusa is often the destination of would-be illegal immigrants from North Africa. Some manage to get as far as its shores unaided whilst many others are rescued from their inadequate boats or from the sea itself and are taken there. The island has a "welcome" centre built for 800 but currently said to be providing accommodation for 1,800 people. The residents of Lampedusa are fed up, as the situation affects their tourist trade and of course changes their lives in other ways not of their choosing.
Now the Italian Government wants to build a second centre on the island and claims that this centre will be used to identify and deport the clandestini more quickly. The inhabitants of Lampedusa believe this will only make matters worse and, at the end of their tether, they began a general strike on Sunday and are also staging protests, led by their Mayor. 600 detainees temporarily escaped from the original centre on Sunday and joined the protest, as they are unhappy about their treatment, especially given the overcrowding. Thus the interests of these two groups strangely coincided and the residents applauded the clandestini.

Continued at Sicily Scene.


Wednesday, January 28, 2009

My Longest Journey ---Sally in Norfolk

On June 13th 2009 I will make the longest Journey of my life.

I will fly from Heathrow to Lima in Peru.

That's a 14hour flight all on my own and I have never even been to Heathrow Airport.

The reason for this trip is to meet up with Geoff and spend two weeks in Peru which will include walking the Inca Trail.

Once I have met up with Geoff in Lima we will make our way to Cuzco to meet up with Emily, who is doing some voluntary work there from April 1st.

Now you will be wondering where Geoff is off to.

Well on April 7th he is off on a three month trip which will include going to Costa Rica, Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands before he finally meets me in Lima.

My emotions about this trip are all over the place, excited, scared, amazed, shocked, and also sad, sad at the thought of Geoff being away for 3 whole months.

Most of all I am very excited as I know this will be the most amazing trip for both of us.

Once he returns from Les Gets we have 2 months to get the trip planned, which will be a very exciting time.

Crossposted at Sally in Norfolk.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Academic Writing --- Zaftig

Once, in a moment of exhaustion after 12 hours of finals-week grading, and after reading a hilariously pretentious academic study about the neoliberal racial rhetoric of America's Next Top Model, another grad student and I semi-jokingly decided to conduct a study titled: "Multiparadigmatic gender modes of hegemonic ape feces in subaltern counterpublics."

We just want to see if we can get a journal to publish it.

A recent post from Ruthie at Zaftig

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

As our banks collapse, Britain must learn to do something else --- The Pub Philosopher

The Iceland on Thames quip made by Brown ally Will Hutton yesterday seems to have struck a chord with a number of people.

Like Iceland, Britain's economy is dwarfed by its banking sector which threatens to drag the whole country down into the the swamp of endless debt. At £2000 billion, RBS's balance sheet is bigger than the UK's annual GDP which, according to yesterday's EU economics data, is just over £1400 billion. Taken together, the UK banks make our economy look puny. 80% of their business is overseas, yet it is the British taxpayer that will pick up the bill for bailing them out.

Via Laban Tall, I discovered this wonderfully pessimistic blog UK Bubble. Yesterday, its author Alice Cook said:

Today was an historic moment. The RBS and its barely comprehensible loss signaled the end of an era. The days when finance was the engine of the UK economy are definitively over. The UK banking sector has become the 21st century equivalent of coal mining; over-staffed, over-paid, and profoundly unproductive.

Continued at the Pub Philosopher, plus you will find many interesting links not reproduced here.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Palestinians as Noble Savages? --- Observations from a Hillside

On my way home from work tonight I walked past a pro-Palestinian nutjob trying to drum up support for a protest "to stop the Israeli attacks in Gaza". I have no problem with people protesting about anything (providing it's done in a legal and peaceful manner) as it's a legitimate part of political participation; but in this case it's pointless because no matter how hard this nutter and others like him try to brush over it, their attitude implicitly recognises a fundamental barrier to a long-term resolution.

Many of the things that the Israeli's are currently doing in Gaza are wrong, I have no doubts about that, but in demanding the Israeli's fall back, whilst not making any demand that Hamas (which is supposedly a democratically elected political party) stamp out the virulently anti-Semitic jihadi nutjobs who continually attack random targets inside Israel, they are merely recognising that the Palestinians are not in control of their own behaviour.

I posted earlier this week about the double standards on display, but the more ludicrous articles I see from apologists for this violent anti-Semitism, especially the truly disturbing ones that try to make some (sometimes thinly veiled) comparisons with the Holocaust, the more I draw the conclusion that many of these apologists see the Palestinians as little more than modern day "noble savages" (though what's noble about violent ant-Semitism is beyond me).

Continued at Observations from the Hillside