Tag Archives: Guardian

Winter Storm in Guernsey

The Guardian has published some award-winning landscape photography.  Below is a sample.

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Parasailing Near Hell

Franz Kafka has his tale about hunger artists, people who starve themselves as spectacle. In Kafka’s story, people with money could buy tickets to watch the hunger artists.  Starvation as entertainment. You see a version of Kafka’s tale on CNN and the BBC now, as ratings depend, at least for a while, on what will happen to the earthquake victims in Haiti. Haiti as show and spectacle.

Today, the Guardian ran a story about some well-to-do people enjoying themselves on a vacation in Haiti.

Sixty miles from Haiti’s devastated earthquake zone, luxury liners dock at private beaches where passengers enjoy jet ski rides, parasailing and rum cocktails delivered to their hammocks.

The standard response is to be repulsed by those who are enjoying themselves so close to a massive disaster for human beings.  Yet, how is what is happening on the cruise ship all that different from what has gone on with Haiti for years and years?  Before the recent earthquake, the haves rested in their hammocks, visited tanning booths, went to the movies, purchased tickets for spring break, and parasailed, all while the people of Haiti lived in poverty.  The haves just did not happen to be in such proximity as the people on the cruise ship.  The haves were partying and entertaining themselves in Miami or Long Island or Los Angeles.

Why do we have the ritual of rounding up the homeless in American cities whenever one of the cities hosts a political convention? Is the point to remove the homeless from people’s consciousness, because their proximity would, as the kids says, put a harsh on the (political) party?  No one believes that homelessness has been solved because no homeless people are visible during the political convention.  The attendees accept that capitalism will produce haves and have-nots, though that can make some people uncomfortable when the haves and have-nots occupy the same space — when that space is unregulated.  Much more comfortable to have gated communities, or lovely shops like Starbucks where one can be with one’s own kind, and purchase something overpriced, knowing that a portion of the cost will be distributed without our knowledge or vision to the have-nots, to those who are being excluded from our gated communities.   Why get upset when the party comes to the economic scene of horror in the form of a cruise ship? Is it the distance that is unseemly?

If we are to believe the reports during the first day or two after the earthquake, some foreign rescue crews in Port-au-Prince concentrated their efforts on recovering people from the Hotel Montana, the hotel where former President Clinton said he had visited, and where some of the heads of various missionary agencies dined.  How many Haitians do you think were staying or dining at the Hotel Montana when it collapsed?

Happy New Year

MMX has begun, and the Guardian presents us with numerous literary goodies to which we can look forward.  Some of them are from U.S. authors that have already seen the light of day on this side of the Atlantic, but most not.

The Two Faces of Facebook

The pressure to join Facebook surprises in light of an article in The Guardian about who runs the outfit, and what their aims happen to be.

Facebook is a well-funded project, and the people behind the funding, a group of Silicon Valley venture capitalists, have a clearly thought out ideology that they are hoping to spread around the world. Facebook is one manifestation of this ideology. Like PayPal before it, it is a social experiment, an expression of a particular kind of neoconservative libertarianism.

As with many things ideological, what is happening will not be transparent.  A little digging is required.

"Let Them Eat Cake" from Flickr Creative Commons

"Let Them Eat Cake" from Flickr Creative Commons

While all of us might be operating with good intentions, the people with whom we associate (via their products, services, etc.) might have designs on us.  Another example is Whole Foods, the seemingly wholesome store that brings us organic products and paper bags for our groceries, so that we cause minimal damage to the environment.  That view of Whole Foods might need to be revised in light of John Mackey’s recent opinion piece in The Wall Street Journal.  The man who gives you free trade coffee also espouses an agenda that supports markets ahead of people, because he has read the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, and he did not see anything about a duty to provide care to the sick and suffering, and if it is not spelled out in those documents, it simply is not a duty, and certainly not an American duty.

Health care is a service that we all need, but just like food and shelter it is best provided through voluntary and mutually beneficial market exchanges. A careful reading of both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution will not reveal any intrinsic right to health care, food or shelter. That’s because there isn’t any. This “right” has never existed in America.

Mr. Mackey’s solution to the current problems with health care in the U.S.:  Let them eat (organic) cake.