Monday, December 21, 2009

Monday Round-up

A few blips today: What wonderful news that Mexico City will become the first capital in Latin America (and the third in North America, after Ottawa and Washington, DC?) to ensure marriage equality, with its city assembly's passage of a same-sex marriage bill. The bill passed 39-20, with 5 abstentions. According to this BBC News report, the bill changes "the definition of marriage in the city's civic code - from the union of a man and a woman to 'the free uniting of two people.'"

I meant to post a congratulations to Annise Parker on her victory in the Houston mayoral race a week ago (December 12), but that post vanished into the ether, so let me belatedly do so. Parker becomes the first out lesbian to lead one of the US's top 5 largest cities, and probably among the first to lead a major city in one of the former states of the Confederacy.

Annise Parker, Mayor of Houston
Annise Parker, Houston's new mayor (

Speaking of leadership, Drew Westen, the noted linguist, author of Metaphors We Live By and The Political Brain, and Emory professor, has a devastating article in today's Huffington Post on Obama's lack of leadership, laissez-faire style and content-free politics, and their effects on policies and the Democratic base and independents. (I'll try to write more about this tomorrow.)

Though he may be hands-off when it comes to major issues (the health care reform bill, the global warming/climate change/green technology crisis, the ongoing economic debacle, etc.) or too much of a Bushite (with his own "surge" in Afghanistan, continuation of infinite detentions and the Patriot Act, refusal to prosecute the criminal element that led the US over the last 8 years, etc.), Obama has been very good about appointing Latinos to government posts, many of them Harvardians. He's outpacing both W and his avatar*, Clinton. On the symbolism joint, he's got his act together.

Thomas E. Perez
Thomas E. Pérez, Assistant Attorney General, Civil Rights Division (

In case you were wondering what's in this crapola insurance and pharma-giveaway bill we're all supposed to get behind and believe is the best thing since Medicare or Social Security, McJoan at DailyKos gives a rundown. It's many eggs short of a dozen, no matter how prettily Sheldon Whitehouse and his colleagues try to dress up the carton.

Speaking of Avatar, which I haven't yet seen but am rather curious about, not everyone is rhapsodizing the film. Annalee Newitz at io9 asks, "When will white people stop making movies like 'Avatar'?" Nihilistic Kid offers a funnier but similarly cogent political take. And poet Ruthellen Kocher poses important questions about colonialism and how to discuss this with her youngster when seeing the film.

Annise Parker, Mayor of Houston
Sam Worthington as Jake Sully, in Avatar (

Speaking of colonialism, client states, and warmongering, I keep asking anyone who'll listen: what is really and currently going on in Iraq? On the flight overseas, I came across this New York Times article about black Iraqis. Why hasn't there been more reportage of this? Does the President, a great inspiration to them, know or even care what's going on over there?

I am behind on New Yorkers (by weeks now--this means my graduate fiction students next quarter may not have to read so many of this year's stories), but I enjoyed the snarky piece, "To the MAXXII" (only the audio slideshow's online) on Pritzker Prize-winning artist and architect Zaha Hadid, who's finally seeing her visions realized. Why does the writer keep commenting on her clothes, though? Would this happen to a male (st)architect? Also, Joan Accocella's short commentary on Geoffrey Chaucer-related books and Peter Ackroyd's butchered "translation" of The Canterbury Tales was a highlight. Note to authors: some books do not need to be "updated."

Lastly, it appears that residents of Laredo, Texas, a city of over 250,000 people, will be without a single chain or independent bookstore very soon. Barnes & Noble is closing its "profitable" B. Dalton outlet there, because it's not...bringing in enough money! Disgraceful.

1 comment:

  1. Avatar is awful. I ranted about it for about a few thousand words over on my blog, but the gist is, it is not a very good film, and it left me very, very angry. I can't really see anyone who actually thinks about things they watch not getting mad about it.