From the Dec. 8, 1908, edition of the New York Times:

“Blacks can’t rule, Taft tells south”

That’s a pretty big leap to make in just a century … sometimes, I’m right proud of our country.

… reports the Times Machine:

The Lighter Side of the Convention

“The National Convention of 1908,” said Perry Heath, formerly Assistant Postmaster General, “will be known undoubtedly as the whiskerless convention.”

Mr. Heath was right. Looking over the convention, one was surprised to find so few men with hirsute adornment.

In the whole National Committee there were only five, and they affected, with one exception, not the full beard, but a sort of goatee growth, that they smoothed with a lingering fondness.

The story continues, with a ribald anecdote about jaundice. My point being: If this kind of witty reportage persisted, if we had more mustache news, more often, maybe the Tribune’s Zell & Co. wouldn’t be so close to the brink of defaulting.

Resist! … by knitting? Indeed: Yarnbombing, it’s totally hip. Or something. And if you’ve got a great idea for “handcrafted textile street art” (see example above), you could even get published. Woot. Knitta Please has lots of great ideas to get you started.

Incidentally, I find these sorts of cultural interventions much more interesting than the increasingly obnoxious national conversation on feminism vis-a-vis Hillary. Am I dragging down the cause because I prefer the power of reimagining an activity traditionally associated with female isolation in the domestic sphere to campaigning for a candidate merely because we share the same type of genitals? Is my resistance too passive, and thus, in the most pejorative sense of the term, too feminine?

I sometimes verge toward holding our fucking idiot president responsible for the fact that two of my brothers have risked their lives in the Middle East numerous times, but I try to stay rational about it. But….this? Despicable. Unforgivable:

HuffPo: Bush “Envious” of Soldiers Serving “Romantic” Mission in Afghanistan.

This is not bull-fighting in Spain. This is men and women, putting their lives on the line, often not really believing in the mission, but doing it anyway, because they feel a sense of responsibility. This is our youth — often, our underprivileged youth — fighting and dying because they were told to fight, because they were told our idea of ourselves depended on them being there for us. It is fodder for tragic novels, for reflection, for analysis. But it is not romantic.

And if you are really envious, go there. Fight. Subsist on MREs. Point a gun at someone who does not speak your language and may hate you not because you’re American, per se, but because you’re in his country and have leapfrogged diplomacy for conflict. Put your life on the line. Then come back and do it all over again, because you feel you owe it to us, or because you have no better options, or because you feel adrift. But don’t patronize us with your fucking delusions of grandeur, your sepia-toned imaginings of a conflict you wrought and yet seem not to fully grasp.

(HuffPo blurb from Reuters article.)

Recent woman-friendly news from the subcontinent:

  • “Female condom for Rs 5 in India” (Times of India) — “Union Health Minister A. Ramadoss said: ‘When a male partner refuses to wear a condom, women need self-initiated methods to protect themselves against unplanned pregnancies and HIV/AIDS.'”
  • “Women force liquor shops closure” (Times of India) — “The women folk in Akurdi had a reason to rejoice on Sunday as their long-pending demand of closing down two liquor joints — one a country liquor shop and the other a wine shop — had been granted by the district collector. The women had been conducting relentless campaigns against the shops as they were causing nuisance in the area for the past several years. Their efforts bore fruit when the two shops were sealed by the excise department on Saturday night on the directives of the district collector.”
  • “Indian families offered cash to stop abortion of girl foetuses” (The Independent) — “India has launched a dramatic initiative to stop the widespread practice of poor families aborting female foetuses by offering cash incentives for them to give birth to the girls and then bring them up.”

Jezebel reports on a new exhibit in France aimed at educating children and teens about sex. Elsewhere, teachers, parents, and students debated sex ed in Indian high schools; the education ministry in Israel pushed for programs to raise awareness about sexual violence and harassment; and in America, the battle continues over abstinence-only courses and those with a more comprehensive view of sex education. Is it me, or does it seem strange that other cultures are attempting to embrace the availability of information vitally important to public health while America seeks to repress it? Perhaps this is not a fair assessment — indeed, maybe I should be criticizing other countries for not more wholeheartedly embracing sex education to this point — but I am continually amazed about the ignorance displayed by so many of my countrymen (and women) concerning more base affairs than should probably be mentioned in this space. No, I don’t think that 11-year-olds should be trading sexual favors, and in general, I think a lot of people have sex before they’re really ready — but isn’t it more effective to, at the very least, equip those with the options in front of them with basic facts about reproduction, rights afforded by our Constitution (and judicial precedent), and resources they can turn to if they get in a jam?

Ajaa ajaa ajaa ajaa ajaa ajaa ajaaaaaaaaaa!

Barack the vote, from New York to New Delhi!

And, for you non-Hindi speakers, a rough translation of the lyrics is here.

Above, Obama logo as captured by CommandZed on Flickr.¬†Below, an iron grate I saw on the Upper East Side. Coincidence? I think not. Barack the vote! (Bonus link, courtesy NYT: “Is Obama a Mac and Clinton a PC?”)

Today’s rec reading is, inevitably, Gloria Steinem’s piece in the New York Times, in which she argues that “gender is the most restricting force in American life.”

I’m not sure I agree with her assessment (nor do others; my favorite critiques are at Slate and Feministing); I’m not sure you can isolate elements of an individual (race, gender, age, physical ability, wealth, appearance, etc.) and say unequivocally that, by mote of sex, a woman can never be a political front-runner, but I am glad that Steinem is continuing to challenge the subtle pervasiveness of sexism. Because, let’s be honest, Obama getting misty-eyed would be considered genuine and winning, while Hilz’s “emotional” answer to a voter’s question about how she manages everything made four front pages, all musing on the continued viability of her campaign. Harumph.

Violence in the tea-growing region of Kenya, just another piece of the country’s election-fallout story: “Kenya’s tea city Kericho hit by tribal violence” (Telegraph)

 teaoclock.jpg

¬†Interesting (quick) read on Bloomberg about a pretty sizeable drop in tea exports from India. Exports are down 24%, attributable partly to the rupee’s appreciation and partly to an increase in supplies from Kenya.

What are Kenyan teas like? Anyone tried? Can you get all tea snob and check out their estate wares like you can with Makaibari, &c.?

(Picture is from trip to Dharamsala in February — it’s always tea o’clock in my house!)

Communal tensions crackle between Christians and Hindus in Orissa, India: The Hindustan Times, Time

Fallout from Benazir Bhutto’s assasination: The Associated Press, The New York Times

Price increases hitting the tea industry in India: The Times of India

Coffee culture in the subconty: The Independent