Monday, May 28, 2007


I've been approaching my last days in Madison with an air that can only be described as "torpor."
Moving -- especially given my lack of access to a vehicle and ludicrous reluctance to ask anyone for help even though I know they wouldn't mind -- seems to be sucking out what little motivation I have.
Half the time I'm sitting in my apartment asking myself questions like "Will x/y be upset if he/she finds out I've thrown this away?" or "Why do I have so many books? Am I really going to read this ever again or is it just a trophy book? How did I let this happen?" The rest, I've been going out with friends for ambitious ventures like napping on the capitol grounds.
It seems I run at two speeds -- idle and overdrive -- and have a hard time managing anything in between.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

In the spirit of trying to post more regularly even though I don't have exciting things to talk about every day:

Noticed the following on the flyleaf of a library book ("Small Island" by Andrea Levy -- not great but not bad):

" short, an encapsulation of that most American of experiences: the immigrant's life."

Unremarkable, you might think (and believe me, you're glad I cut out the treacle that preceded that). And it would be, except that the book has nothing to do with the American experience. The story is about Jamaican immigrants in post-war London. As in: London, England. There is virtually no mention of America, except for a few brief anecdotes about a Jamaican serviceman's experiences of America and Americans as torn by even more brutal, overt racism than Britain and the British.
So why do the publishers feel the need to do this? Do they have so little respect for American readers of literary fiction as to assume the book won't sell if it isn't labeled as an American story? (I assume the blurb was different in the British editions.) Did they just fail to actually read the book before trying to market it?
I'm expecting some guidance from my readers in the publishing industry...

Friday, May 11, 2007

War on Terror, Reign of Terror

So, the reason I haven't been doing this lately, apart from the usual reasons, is that blogger now requires you to sign up for an account with Google to sign in. I finally did it, just now, and it took about ten seconds, but that proved to be enough of a barrier to keep me away for a few months.
I'm feeling a bit more motivated to try and start posting again, because I'll be finished with school in a week, and, I hope, having a bit more going on, at least for the summer. I'll be heading out to the East Coast for the first few weeks of June, making a brief pit-stop back in Madison, mailing myself and all my belongings out to San Francisco, and then jetting off to the Philippines.
Among other things, I'm hoping to work on a few articles about how U.S. policy on the "War on Terror" is affecting the Philippines. I've spent the past year doing research on the resurgence of human rights abuses under President Arroyo (several human rights groups have said that 2006 was the worst year since the fall of Marcos...and 2007 isn't looking a whole lot better). One of the themes that I keep running into is how the War on Terror facilitates this trend, in a number of ways. It's largely forgotten, but in the early days of the War on Terror, the Southern Philippines, home to alleged Al Qaeda affiliate Abu Sayyaf, was considered one of the prime targets of anti-terror efforts. Throughout, Arroyo has been one of the U.S.'s staunchest allies (despite pulling out of Iraq), ensuring that the Bush administration will block any attempts, within the U.S. or the U.N. to sanction Arroyo for her human right's record. Furthermore, the New People's Army (communist guerillas that have been running an unsuccessful insurgency, concentrated in the North, especially Luzon, since 1969), has been officially listed as a terrorist organization. Essentially, what this has meant is that the United States gives Arroyo unstinting support (politically and financially) to fight terrorism, which Arroyo has been taking advantage of to crack down on the left (legal/reformist and revolutionary) in Central Luzon.
My apologies for all the parentheses.
In any case, it's an interesting (to me at least) aspect of the War on Terror -- the corrosive effects on all countries involved in it. There are also some pretty interesting parallels to the support the United States (even under Jimmy "the Carter Doctrine" Carter) gave to the Marcos regime during the Cold War.
I'm not planning to go to Basilan and get beheaded, but I am hoping to use contacts in the safe areas of Mindanao to get a local perspective on how the conflict is playing out in the South, and also to spend a week or two in Manila and Central Luzon to research the legislative aspects (there's a new anti-terrorism bill) and the social costs of the Philippines' involvement.
Once I get back from the Philippines, I'll have a few weeks to decompress and find a place to live before I start school in Berkeley at the end of August. Perhaps, somewhere in there, I'll take a lesson on how to have a vacation.
I'm excited though.
All I need to do is figure out how to get through two major paper revisions and a ruin-my-weekend 16-page take-home final by the end of next week, and everything'll be great.