Umbrella Revolution Wall 2014

Umbrella Revolution Wall 2014
Admiralty, Umbrella Revolution 2014

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Another visitor on Thursday and Keohi update

Our second visitor--Asau Lee from Hawaii, will be coming on Thursday. I've practiced today riding the big tricycle with the umbrella awning top in preparation. I'm pretty good on it except for when it comes to the small hills. I'll be asking him to step down as I am afraid the bike will tip over. Today there was a near miss on the ole Luk Tei Tong bike path, very narrow, just missed the ole bog, with Keohi's nanny and Keohi in the back while I was pedaling. This is a big deal. After all, it's not like Mui Wo is a huge hot spot. Uncle is collecting his 1,000,000 airline miles by taking a trip to HK. Pretty amazing, but I've seen him now in New York, Korea, the Big Island, Hong Kong, talked to him in California, and now will see him again in Hong Kong. He gets around.

I'm into Al Jazeera news. This is hands down the best news show reporting I've seen.
I highly recommend anyone who can subscribe to please do so for some decent coverage of international issues.

Being a loyal Obama supporter I've taken the opportunity to wear my shirt into Central every time I take the ferry in. Go Obama! I'm feeling good about the election possibilities and am posting my absentee ballot tomorrow. Looking up the judges and DAs for the California ballot took some time. One was rather scary as both candidates were given a bad rating by their peer group of judges. Yikes. I had to vote for the lesser of two evils and went with the one with the most endorsements by the organizations that I was mildly familiar with.

Cadbury, Oreos, and Snickers candy has been found to have melamine! I probably have a big wad of various chemicals snaking through my system from the last time I lived here. I ate so many Cadbury bars. I ate a ton about two months ago too--I went through a mad Cadbury fruit and nut bar phase. Poor Keohi probably got some too as he's nursing. Here he is being protected from mass media commercial images like Mickey Mouse and never watches TV due to his prole mom who makes him wear his big ole cloth nappies. She has barely given him any sweet and he probably had traces of melamine in his system. This is life here. Very glad though overall, that he is still nursing.

Again, the government angle and all concerns are focusing on the reputation of Chinese food products instead of the fact that the international formula companies were preying on the poor and uneducated parents who did not understand the ramifications of formula versus breast milk in terms of cost and nutrition. Ugh.

No more China milk from us. No more noodles made in China. No more food from China. Period. Mainland China, that is.

Keohi is on a 2 week quarantine lockdown from all indoor playgroups and playtime. We're trying to isolate his on and off again 3 week cough and determine if it is due to toddler interaction or smog. Smog doesn't seem to be slowing him down at all, but it's because we live here in Lantau, south Lantau where there is less smog. We're a ways from the airport too. Still, I've already figured that he will probably not become a) a marathon runner or sprinter b) a serious mountaineer c) a deep sea scuba diving instructor. He won't have the lung capacity. So his career options are dwindling. And he's only 19 months old.

He went to his first birthday party for baby Nim who turned one. He was being a maniac and kind of did his rock star thing of trying to jump on the furniture, and attempted to throw or smash some wine glasses, spit food on the carpet and tried on someone's high heeled shoes. He tried to climb in the bathtub and on top of the record collection, open drawers, knock over the guitars and throw the glass candle holders on the ground. The worst was how he bolted to the patio fence--19th floor. I think it would take him about 3 hours to have figured out how to climb up and over. I'm very glad we're not in a high rise. Too scary. He's a very bad guest these days. He was definitely the most badly behaved baby. Then again, he thoroughly enjoyed himself. I think the next time he'll be engaging in that sort of the behavior is when he's around 17 years old. His mom, however, will not be chasing around after him and saying "Oh no!".

New words: umbrella (ulla), bear (frequently used now), light, hole, low, and a short sentence other than Neh-neh Boo--Look there! Look there! The big word NO has now entered the vocabulary...hmmm...

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Energy, Arizona, McCain

About MCCAIN in the debates regarding his energy policy:

I lived in Arizona. Arizona is a perfect place to employ solar energy on a private or commercial level.

It is nowhere to be seen. It is OVERPRICED and there are absolutely NO TAX INCENTIVES in this state. This is McCain's home state. Some nerve saying in the debate that he is supportive of solar. If he was a leader in his state he would have done more to work for solar energy so that we are not dependent on foreign oil.

Let me tell you a little story about our experience with solar energy in Arizona. We were shocked and disturbed when we discovered that few, if any used it in that state given the amount of sun that is in that state and the massive energy consumption that is required to run the AC units that are required to get through the hot summers/springs/falls! Many use 'swamp' units (these are units with pans of water) but most do use the traditional AC units now -- new places are rarely built now with swamp units.

So we moved into this gated community type of place (but no gates) and discovered that the communal pool house was not using solar energy and that we, the homeowners, would soon have to replace the pool's pump and heating system. While there is no snow in the winter in AZ, the pool is still going and requires heating. So, Stephen and I go to a meeting and bring up the possibility of installing a solar unit for the water system. I know from a friend who had installed one that it pays for itself in a matter of a few months. And we noticed that there seemed to be some remnants of a solar system on the roof of the poolhouse--we were wondering what happened? Apparently there was an old solar system before and someone (who?) had mysteriously run off with some of the panels? We could not get a clear answer about this. Our suggestion was met with a laugh and we were completely shut down. Sure, we said, it was expensive, but it was an investment for a community, we could afford it, AND it would pay for itself in a matter of months! But instead of the board trying to discuss how to be energy efficient with a future solar water heater, they kept discussing that they would use what they were presently using and not a SINGLE person even wanted to use solar. This is in Arizona.

Mccain's state. Solar and alternative energy? He is not the guy. DRILLING in Alaska and more nuclear power -- he's the guy. Nuclear power? We still don't have a way to properly store it and have it not harm the environment. I wish everyone who supports nuclear power would visit Hiroshima and Nagasaki (extreme bad use of nuclear power) and talk to people who live in small towns and places whose health is suffering due to nuclear power plants. Check out The American West by Alex Shoumatoff for a great section on workers who live around Los Alamos...

To return:

A few board meetings later I was called "one of those environmentalists" by the president of the board (yeah, the old lady with the gun in the purse--oh for gun people, please note that I think people have a right to hunt for food with a gun-- deer, duck hunters etc...just not old ladies with shaky hands, no licenses, are wandering around down my street) when I suggested that we discuss with the landscaping architect and gardener the replacement of plants that required water with those that match the desert environment. There were many local plants, plants that are flowering and survive in the desert that were part of the shared land in the community, but there were also plenty of trees that were not indigenous to the desert. There had been complaints about the high community water bills. BUT DID ANYONE MAKE THE CONNECTION BETWEEN DESERT FRIENDLY PLANTS AND WATER CONSUMPTION? NO!

Watching Al Jazz...tune in, great commentary.

DB VOTER DRIVE SUCCESS!

We handed out and gave forms to at least 75-80 voters. Many were in their 30s and 40s and voting for the FIRST time for Obama. Many were previously from the Republican party and wanted to vote Democrat this election. Some were McCain supporters and now wanted Obama.

Let the truth be known: Americans overseas, from all walks of life, ethnicities and backgrounds and cultural origins, wanted Obama. We also had people from France, the Netherlands, from India, the UK, from all over the world, all over Asia come up to our table and express their support for Obama and said that should they have the privilege to vote, they would vote for Obama.

The bottom line:

We have spent nearly a trillion dollars on a FALSELY perpetrated war in Iraq. We spend 10 billion a month in Iraq. Obama voted against this war. The international community was against this war. Remember we said we went to Iraq because of WEAPONS of mass destruction. THERE WERE NONE -- then, only after that debacle and embarrassment, we said: We went to Iraq to promote democracy.

Oh, for those who say that McCain's party supports the troops. MOTHERS were buying their CHILDREN extra security bullet proof vests!National guard units are on their third and fourth tours...uhm..yeah, the current administration really CARES about our troops.

By the way, we have destroyed Iraq...let's be clear about this.

To move on, as only 9% of the US said that they would vote for a president because of his position on Iraq...we care more about our economy. Somehow we are not connecting the WAR and our economy! Go figure!

The economy has TANKED and the current administration has promoted poor policies that have landed us in this situation. Businesses and banks are collapsing. Who supported this last admininistration? NOT OBAMA.

Our healthcare system is in shambles. Stephen and I get far superior medical care on all levels in Hong Kong. Yep, people here get basic health care where most Americans do not.

Finally, McCain keeps LYING about Obama and his record.

And THE PALIN FACTOR. What kind of fool picks a woman who has governed a state with a population under one million people, who supports drilling and is against the POLAR BEAR and who didn't get a passport until LAST YEAR to be PRESIDENT?

GO OBAMA. OBAMA has the support of the international community, the admiration and respect of the young and the old, and has the intelligence and intellect that we need in the 21st century. McCain is outdated, out of touch, and can't even use email....

So I go on. But it's gotten to the point where I truly think that the people who support McCain at this stage fall have the following qualities:

a) inability to properly judge the CURRENT WORLD SITUATION

b) fear of change (common fear that most have...baaahhhh...baaah --sheep sound)

c) general racism and bigotry (a nasty but unfortunately true phenomenon--look deep inside people and accept it--hard to erase this--how do you erase hatred and evil?)

d) fear of intellect due to their own personal general low intelligence and analytical abilities (look at the education level between the two different candidates and their running mates) so they want a president who is at their own level, rather than a leader who can lead due to his/her intelligence and education and insight.

e) failure to recognize their own situation. After all, how many Americans (5%) make more than 200 grand a year individually? Even if people don't, they will vote against their own interest because Americans have the mentality that they COULD have that much money. Obama will give 95% of the US population a tax break yet so many fools who fall into this bracket will vote against their own interests. Such Americans also do not realize that the gap between the rich and the poor in the US is at the same level that it was over 100 years ago! WE HAVE A SHRINKING MIDDLE CLASS-get it?

f) believer of a narrowly interpreted Christian view of the world. One might call them the Christian Taliban. Uhm...these are the folks who believe that the heavens will open, trumpets sound, little cherubs will fly above their heads with small white wings and that they will ascend without their undies in the buff straight to heaven...uhm...well..what can I say about those kinds of ideas? Sounds kind of like the dreams that the Al Qaeda folks have about the multitude of virgins in the heavens, right? Enough said.

Signing off from Hong Kong--home of Obama supporters from all countries and cultures...

Friday, September 26, 2008

Hey--again--the French have it right...I think I have to brush up on my French...

French hold out against credit crunch

Unlike Britain, the US and many other countries, France appears to have weathered the credit crunch storm far better.

The BBC's Emma Jane Kirby asks if other nations should take a leaf out of the thrifty Gallic book?

If I had to use one word to describe France's financial system, the word I would choose would be "cautious".

French banks are immensely careful about whom they lend money to and, to limit risks, they spread their investments much more widely than those in the US or UK.

Only about a quarter of banking activity is related to investment banking and dealer-broker activity - the rest is all to do with retail banking.

This meant when the credit crunch bit, the French banks were hit a lot less hard than those in many other countries.

But it is not just about banking investments - this country as a whole simply takes far fewer risks.

In London... it was as if wealth was something you could get from a bank, it's a sort of miracle people seem to believe in England
Francois Artignan, banker

Take the level of household debt. In France, it is at 47% of GDP, while in the UK it is well over twice that.

Its not that temptation does not exist in France - the lure of consumerism is just as strong as it is elsewhere.

But it is very difficult to spend money you do not have in France.

French credit cards are little more than debit cards, so there is no question of simply sticking a couple of flat screen TVs on your credit card and hoping to pay for them later - if there are insufficient funds in your account, your bank will immediately block the transaction.

In the wealthy suburb of St Germain-en-Laye, just outside Paris, I met Francois Artignan, a well-to-do banker who moved back to France two years ago after a long stint of living in the UK.

Francois admits he misses the buzz of London living but says he was alarmed by the way so many British people lived on their credit cards and never saved money.

"It's true that you can note a big difference in consuming behaviours between the French and the English," Mr Artignan says.

"People here don't believe you can just put your debts together and get them refinanced... But in London... it was as if wealth was something you could get from a bank, it's a sort of miracle people seem to believe in England.

"It seems to me people there are very keen to use up all the money they have, and that's a worry when you wonder how people are going to have money for retirement for instance," Mr Artignan says.

Sluggish growth

From his Paris office, the chief economist for market analyst Xerfi, Alexander Law, has been comparing the spending patterns of France and Britain.

Mr Law, who has dual nationality, believes that innate French prudence has saved it from disaster.

"Generally in France you spend what you have and not more," he explains.

"In the US and the UK, the economy has been driven by household spending, consumption has been driven by credit, and a lot less in France, so that's why when there were periods of expansion France grew a lot more slowly than the UK and the US but conversely when it's slowing down, it will slow down in a more moderate fashion than the UK or the US."

France's rate of growth is horribly sluggish - this year it looks set to hover around just 1%, meaning its likely to be way off target for meeting its promise to the EU to bring its budget deficit back under control by 2012.

But although its slow economy is hardly the envy of the world, its reticence to tie its economy into the housing market in the same way the US did has also meant that when the American sub-prime market collapsed, it did not drag the French market with it.

There are far fewer household owners here than in the UK - about 57% of French people are on the property ladder, compared to 70% in the UK.

Although a high earner, Mr Artignan was 43 before buying his first home because in France, unless you have a big deposit, you can forget begging the banks for a huge loan.

Two conditions

President Nicolas Sarkozy is trying to push France into becoming a nation of house owners by building thousands of cheap new homes.

But France still believes in strict rules and regulations, Finance Minister Christine Lagarde says.

"Expect two conditions - a down payment of 20% of the value of the house plus mortgage [repayments] which will not exceed 30% of income.

"You already have a pretty good safety net there and clearly no real estate financing similar to the sub-prime market that has existed in the US and which has hurt the financial system so much," Ms Lagarde says.

France has long been feeling the pinch of the global rise in food and fuel prices and many people here complain that their spending power is falling fast.

In France, 46% of people chose to stay home for their summer holiday this year rather than splashing out on an expensive break away, and so many people are cutting back on dining out that some 3,000 cafes and restaurants went out of business in the first three months of this year.

Sparse spending means sparse growth - but should other countries take a leaf out of the parsimonious Gallic book?

"I'm not suggesting that we have the basic principles right, I'm not suggesting that we can teach the world lessons," Ms Lagarde says.

"But I think it will be for each and every category of players, traders, regulators, supervisors, to examine what they have done, what they should have done and what they should be doing in the future to bring a bit more morality into the system.

"I think we have let this world of fantasy and virtuality overcome reality... There have to be more principles, more discipline and a bit more reality," the minister says.
Story from BBC NEWS:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/2/hi/europe/7635327.stm

Published: 2008/09/26 00:12:37 GMT

© BBC MMVIII

Thursday, September 25, 2008

The DB Voter Drive Part 2 Friday 9/26 Central Pier #2 5-8PM

WE SHALL OVERCOME.

Yep, yours truly is still sluggin' it out and will be doing the voter registration drive with about 3 others.

This is not ideal. People are rushing to get home. We have been somewhat thwarted by the evil Orwellian elements of Disco Bay who run the corporation that erected this housing/lifestyle development. One might think of the Disney corporation's residential community "Celebration" where they do not allow R rated movies and have extremely strict rules regarding all aspects of "lifestyle."

The truth of the matter is that most gated communities are rather hostile and unwelcoming. They are designed to create an US and THEM element. This reality became very apparent to me during our brief stay at our place in Tucson. Other than a few sets of neighbors, one in particular across from us, most of the people in the housing development were people I WOULD NOT LIKE TO BE GATED IN WITH. Take the head of our board, the previous head, I should say. This was an 82 year old thrice divorced woman from Ohio (think god-fearing, Christian, Palin fan) who carried a HANDGUN in her purse with an aggressive chihuahua at her side and casually talked about "niggers" and the like (never to me, of course, given that I was probably casually referred to as that "nice chink/gook lady" married to that "foreigner" YIKES. Stephen and I had found out later that this woman was running around hasseling a) the only lesbian in the complex b) the only Pakistani family in the complex c) the gay black man who favored purple and gold decor next to us and d) the friendly white Midwestern American couple we liked who were our friends too--she was probably giving them a hassle because they were associating with the likes of us...

So much for gated communities. The way I see it is that I don't like the people INSIDE the gates, I want to be with the peopled OUTSIDE of the bloody GATES. It's the people INSIDE the gates who walk around with handguns in white vinyl clutches teetering on white patent leather high heels with thick glasses and shaky hands. Geez. Dangerous.

Okay, so I digress...

The voter drive continues. And tonight, me, the temporary stay-at-home mom heads back to work lecturing at HKU SPACE -- poetry. Tonight will be William Carlos Williams, Tim Seibles, and maybe a little Sylvia Plath.

As for the updates on Keohi. Yesterday was a big playdate with Isabella. Keohi walks right out of the gates and to her house nearly every time we leave the house. We went to Olivia (mom) and Isabella's (daughter) house yesterday in the AM, then post-nap they came over. As it was raining so hard, it is rather convenient that they are really right next door. All was well until Olivia's keys came out and then all hell broke loose with Keohi and Isabella screaming and fighting for the keys. Keohi had to yield the keys with a great deal of sobbing. Poor guy. He's got the one-child-policy mentality at this stage developmentally, but he got over it. Recent words: goat, hole, umbrella, there, z (the letter z), g (the letter g--both letters are in the ole Doc Suess book), and shoe. I think he has around 40 words now. Still, BALL seems to be the overwhelmingly favored word...

I am hoping that we get some voters registered tomorrow.

About that DEBATE DODGING BUSINESS by the OTHER candidate.

My feeling: if you cannot hold your own in a debate, if you try to squeal out of a debate, then you should not be President. I want an articulate president who can answer questions on his/her feet with a broad knowledge of what is going on. For god's sakes, I can't believe that. How embarrassing. How embarrassing that PAlin is being treated with an "oh it's so unfair that she has to debate Biden" attitude. IF she cannot hold her own against Biden, do you really want her to be the one who will make life and death decisions for OUR COUNTRY? COME ON PEOPLE WAKE UP.

Has anyone watched the way that the UK politicians go for it on TV? The prime minister ON HIS FEET must answer questions, any questions, posed by Parliament and it is televised. It is not scripted. The prime minister does not know the questions in advance. I watched Tony Blair do this some years back. Very very impressive. I HIGHLY DOUBT that George Bush could do this if his life depended on it. If you ask me, ANY leader of a powerful nation, of any nation, should be able, to stand up and get as series of questions fired upon him/her and be able to answer! If you can't take the HEAT then GET OUT OF THE FIRE, BUB.

And so it goes...this is Stephanie, live from King's Road, NOrth Point, Hong Kong in the office of the adjunct lecturers...

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The Sunday DB Voter Drive shut down, public space, and the absentee ballot

The ole absentee ballot arrived today. Hooray.

Also, our Sunday DB voter drive was more or less shut down. Security arrived and came up with all kinds of preposterous excuses to shut us down. They made us take the posters down, said that cookies were bribery, and tried to make a case for us not having a right to gather even and converse about Obama. DB Dems trying to register other Dems was hardly a Tianamen Square event, but there you go. We were shut down, more or less.

HK Dem: "What are they doing?"
Steph: "We're in China."

Yep, this is freedom of speech and expression challenged as we know it. Sounds downright draconian...sounds like uhm...the PATRIOT ACT to me! (After all, in the US they can monitor what books you check out from the library, did you know that?)

This situation is interesting on a few levels. First of all, there is much controversy now on public space in HK--or what constitutes public space. Apparently many private real estate developers erected their structures on public land, or partially on public land. They did not, conveniently, ever inform the public of this. This means that there are quite a few buildings in HK, commercial and private buildings, that have dictated rules about their property that just don't hold up if such land is public space.

An example of this is the HK Causeway Bay space and shopping area of Times Square. There is a huge outdoor area that leads into the shopping mall. Now it is claimed by various people with art installations, or gatherings as it is officially on public land. Of course, developers fought this because they don't want to recognize public space and what that could possibly due to their property. Some private owners of apartments are also upset as they say, why should we maintain our courtyard and pay fees if anyone in the public can come into this courtyard space and smoke, hang out, or do whatever. Very complicated issue on one level. The fault lies, it seems to me, with rather unscrupulous development and trying to keep the public in the dark about what its rights are concerning space and land.

So the question that the DB drive brought up is this: Is DB, a commercial and private development, entitled to govern every square inch on its piazza? OR does some of it fall under the jurisdiction of public space, which would make it illegal to prevent freedom of expression and speech, and the right to peaceably assemble.

They are now trying to tell us that our Friday drive (we moved tonight's drive to the Central ferry/DB pier) would be dependent on whether or not we follow the rules on displaying signs and also that our wording on our sign is up for approval. They were trying to say, at first, that we can't have any signs that say Obama, only Register to Vote, which is simply not true and against the law. By law, if anyone approaches, HK Dem or HK Repub, we have to register them, but we do not have to advertise like the League of Women Voters, that we are non-partisan.

I smell a rat here...someone or a group trying to silence speech, freedom of expression, the right to gather (they also tried to basically say that we couldn't talk about Obama on Sunday as our own group--until someone luckily told them, someone versed in Common Law, that we can have our own private conversation as we can share our food privately, as we are merely friends gathering) and everything else that would constitute what in the US we would take for granted, as a gathering of like minds for a common purpose.

Supporters of the US Patriot Act should realize what similar legislation might do in our home country and already has in the name of "freedom". We deride countries that stifle free speech, and granted, we have infinitely more rights than people here do, but we are fast eroding them or have--past tense, eroded them with legislation like the Patriot Act.

The drive will continue tonight on the DB side in the Central Ferry pier area. On Friday, who knows where it will be.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Breast is Best

Okay, I’ve hit new levels of political involvement. I baked oatmeal raisin cookies for tomorrow’s voter drive in DB. Wow. I had to get over to Katie’s to do so as I have not set up my oven yet. But I am now motivated to do so for the winter. Since there is no AC in the kitchens in HK, at least most local ones, the thought of an oven heating a kitchen up is fairly unbearable. But I can deal in the winter when it gets rather cold here thanks to global warming. Nothing like environmental havoc to make you feel all snug and cozy inside while it’s freezing outside.

Fun fact: the state of Texas uses more oil than the entire African continent. How’s that for gluttony?

The financial meltdown that is taking place globally looks pretty bleak from this part of the world. I can’t imagine the situation getting worse for some people, particularly those in underdeveloped areas now battling food prices, but it looks as though it will get worse.

About the tainted baby formula in China… I have the following to say about this:

a) first of all, I find it reprehensible and inexcusable
b) second of all, what is more disturbing is that the focus of the press and government and everyone else is soley focused on the bottom line and dollar and shouldn’t be. The bottom line is that most of these families that are gravely effected are impoverished and shouldn’t be buying formula to begin with, but breastfeeding their children as advised by the World Health Organization (WHO) for two years.


My solution would be as follows—on an international scale. Since I am never going to be elected to public office or hold a UN position, of course no one will listen, but they should because my policies make damn good sense:

Mandate workplace laws that allow women to pump to provide breastmilk for their babies. This means that workplaces must provide a place for women to pump that is not the restroom and give ample time to do this. The majority of women in China are working and require this support. California law requires this. Not all states do. Then again the US has one of the worst maternity policies in the world—I think we’re up there with Somalia in terms of our support of mat leave. It’s really terrible and makes no long term financial sense given the numbers of women in the workforce and the loyalty that women show a workplace that has good family policies.

Provide breastfeeding education in hospitals and as part of prenatal care for all women and also as part of the curriculum for obgyns, pediatricians, nurses, and other medical practitioners that deal with women and childbirth.

Encourage the use of public space and areas for breastfeeding mothers. Hey, do you know that people in the US can get ARRESTED still for nursing their children?

Impose strict standards on the advertisement and placement of ads for formula. I’m sure that most have forgotten the nightmare of the Nestle company in India in the 90s. They had powerful ads and distributed the formula to women in India in hospitals. Unfortunately, then the mothers’ milk supplies dried up, and then they could not afford formula for their children. The result was starvation—all because Nestle wanted to turn a buck. Incidentally, Nestle hasn’t really cleaned up its act much in many countries. I’m not a big fan.

Restrict the free distribution of formula in hospitals unless deemed medically necessary by a woman’s physician or attending midwife due to her milk supply.

Financial assistance in the purchase of pumps and breastfeeding supplies for lower income women who are obliged to work.

Okay, that’s it for the lactivism hour… I have to get some z’s for my big day tomorrow in DB…

Keohi’s new words: wall, oh no, goat, eye, low, rub a dub dub, no-no.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Update in Mui Wo...the fall

Fall Update

Running the voter drives in Discovery Bay for Obama and the HK Dems.

Fun fact: the Republicans have taxed Americans more and have overspent with bigger government budgets during their administrations MORE than the Dems period—this is since 1946.

So the labels of Dems being the big spenders on social programs and other government plans is completely off.

Don’t think that is a Karl Rove idea, but one that we as the American public have simply come to accept as a matter of course. Learned this fun fact tonight at the Foreign Correspondents Club Debate between Dems and Repubs repping their respective parties in honor of the election. The Dem rep went over all the budgets since 1946…number crunching guy.

Keohi has a homemade Obama shirt saying: YES WE CAN and Obama ’08 but he will not be present for the drive on Sunday as he is too much of a maniac these days to hang out for 5 hours. I may drag him there for part of the drive on Friday during the day, however.

Not much to report. I am starting to lecture in poetry/literature next week for University of Hong Kong SPACE, running 3 voter drives, putting together proposals for creative writing classes and running after Keohi.

Keohi says OH NO and NO NO these days and is really improving his vocabulary. He seems to favor his book of nursery rhymes—truncated versions of the old classic rhymes. ROW ROW BOOK he calls it, as there are the words to ROW ROW ROW your boat in it. Thanks to his nanny, he’s learning Tagalog, which is good. He went over to his friend’s house (he actually walks out of the yard and tries to go to her house whenever he’s let out of the house) and loved the Teletubbies. Of course, there is no TV on at his own house, so he is deprived here of such infant pop culture. He gets a dose now and then of Obama’s campaign or football (soccer) when Stephen is home, but that’s about it. I’ve decided to be more mellow about this TV business though. He can watch it if he goes to someone else’s house (after all, what can I say?) but it can’t be on here.

I seem to recall this is what mom used to do a lot when we asked her for a color TV. I think we were the last people in the entire state of Iowa to get a color TV. When we used to ask for one she’d tell us to go over to someone’s house and watch their TV. It does cut down on TV watching and it was years before I realized that the Wizard of Oz was actually half in color. I even wrote a speech on the superior quality of black and white TV to color TV as I stated that it allowed for more imagination. That’s the perspective of a 16 year old, I suppose.

Over the weekend was the village’s mid-Autumn Festival and Keohi’s nanny won the big prize of a bicycle at the raffle! The banners are all flying lining the bike path these days along with the banners marking the final end of the Olympics. The weather is getting every so slightly cooler…and so it goes in Mui Wo, Luk Tei Tong Village where the women work as trash collectors and the men don’t. Or the men ride bikes and so do the women? How’s about where lots of people have 80s haircuts and flea-bitten dogs abound…

Friday, September 12, 2008

The Guardian and Obama

The world's verdict will be harsh if the US rejects the man it yearns for
An America that disdains Obama for his global support risks turning current anti-Bush feeling into something far worse

o Jonathan Freedland
o The Guardian,
o Wednesday September 10 2008

The feeling is familiar. I had it four years ago and four years before that: a sinking feeling in the stomach. It's a kind of physical pessimism which says: "It's happening again. The Democrats are about to lose an election they should win - and it could not matter more."
In my head, I'm not as anxious for Barack Obama's chances as I was for John Kerry's in 2004 or Al Gore's in 2000. He is a better candidate than both put together, and all the empirical evidence says this year favours Democrats more than any since 1976. But still, I can't shake off the gloom.

Look at yesterday's opinion polls, which have John McCain either in a dead heat with Obama or narrowly ahead. Given the well-documented tendency of African-American candidates to perform better in polls than in elections - thanks to people who say they will vote for a black man but don't - this suggests Obama is now trailing badly. More troubling was the ABC News-Washington Post survey which found McCain ahead among white women by 53% to 41%. Two weeks ago, Obama had a 15% lead among women. There is only one explanation for that turnaround, and it was not McCain's tranquilliser of a convention speech: Obama's lead has been crushed by the Palin bounce.

So you can understand my pessimism. But it's now combined with a rising frustration. I watch as the Democrats stumble, uncertain how to take on Sarah Palin. Fight too hard, and the Republican machine, echoed by the ditto-heads in the conservative commentariat on talk radio and cable TV, will brand Democrats sexist, elitist snobs, patronising a small-town woman. Do nothing, and Palin's rise will continue unchecked, her novelty making even Obama look stale, her star power energising and motivating the Republican base.

So somehow Palin slips out of reach, no revelation - no matter how jaw-dropping or career-ending were it applied to a normal candidate - doing sufficient damage to slow her apparent march to power, dragging the charisma-deprived McCain behind her.

We know one of Palin's first acts as mayor of tiny Wasilla, Alaska was to ask the librarian the procedure for banning books. Oh, but that was a "rhetorical" question, says the McCain-Palin campaign. We know Palin is not telling the truth when she says she was against the notorious $400m "Bridge to Nowhere" project in Alaska - in fact, she campaigned for it - but she keeps repeating the claim anyway. She denounces the dipping of snouts in the Washington trough - but hired costly lobbyists to make sure Alaska got a bigger helping of federal dollars than any other state.

She claims to be a fiscal conservative, but left Wasilla saddled with debts it had never had before. She even seems to have claimed "per diem" allowances - taxpayers' money meant for out-of-town travel - when she was staying in her own house.

Yet somehow none of this is yet leaving a dent. The result is that a politician who conservative blogger Andrew Sullivan calls a "Christianist" - seeking to politicise Christianity the way Islamists politicise Islam - could soon be a heartbeat away from the presidency. Remember, this is a woman who once addressed a church congregation, saying of her work as governor - transport, policing and education - "really all of that stuff doesn't do any good if the people of Alaska's heart isn't right with God".

If Sarah Palin defies the conventional wisdom that says elections are determined by the top of the ticket, and somehow wins this for McCain, what will be the reaction? Yes, blue-state America will go into mourning once again, feeling estranged in its own country. A generation of young Americans - who back Obama in big numbers - will turn cynical, concluding that politics doesn't work after all. And, most depressing, many African-Americans will decide that if even Barack Obama - with all his conspicuous gifts - could not win, then no black man can ever be elected president.

But what of the rest of the world? This is the reaction I fear most. For Obama has stirred an excitement around the globe unmatched by any American politician in living memory. Polling in Germany, France, Britain and Russia shows that Obama would win by whopping majorities, with the pattern repeated in Africa, Asia, the Middle East and Latin America. If November 4 were a global ballot, Obama would win it handsomely. If the free world could choose its leader, it would be Barack Obama.

The crowd of 200,000 that rallied to hear him in Berlin in July did so not only because of his charisma, but also because they know he, like the majority of the world's population, opposed the Iraq war. McCain supported it, peddling the lie that Saddam was linked to 9/11. Non-Americans sense that Obama will not ride roughshod over the international system but will treat alliances and global institutions seriously: McCain wants to bypass the United Nations in favour of a US-friendly League of Democracies. McCain might talk a good game on climate change, but a repeated floor chant at the Republican convention was "Drill, baby, drill!", as if the solution to global warming were not a radical rethink of the US's entire energy system but more offshore oil rigs.

If Americans choose McCain, they will be turning their back on the rest of the world, choosing to show us four more years of the Bush-Cheney finger. And I predict a deeply unpleasant shift.

Until now, anti-Americanism has been exaggerated and much misunderstood: outside a leftist hardcore, it has mostly been anti-Bushism, opposition to this specific administration. But if McCain wins in November, that might well change. Suddenly Europeans and others will conclude that their dispute is with not only one ruling clique, but Americans themselves. For it will have been the American people, not the politicians, who will have passed up a once-in-a-generation chance for a fresh start - a fresh start the world is yearning for.

And the manner of that decision will matter, too. If it is deemed to have been about race - that Obama was rejected because of his colour - the world's verdict will be harsh. In that circumstance, Slate's Jacob Weisberg wrote recently, international opinion would conclude that "the United States had its day, but in the end couldn't put its own self-interest ahead of its crazy irrationality over race".

Even if it's not ethnic prejudice, but some other aspect of the culture wars, that proves decisive, the point still holds. For America to make a decision as grave as this one - while the planet boils and with the US fighting two wars - on the trivial basis that a hockey mom is likable and seems down to earth, would be to convey a lack of seriousness, a fleeing from reality, that does indeed suggest a nation in, to quote Weisberg, "historical decline". Let's not forget, McCain's campaign manager boasts that this election is "not about the issues."

Of course I know that even to mention Obama's support around the world is to hurt him. Incredibly, that large Berlin crowd damaged Obama at home, branding him the "candidate of Europe" and making him seem less of a patriotic American. But what does that say about today's America, that the world's esteem is now unwanted? If Americans reject Obama, they will be sending the clearest possible message to the rest of us - and, make no mistake, we shall hear it.

· freedland@guardian.co.uk

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

From the Huffington Post--McCain does not have a lead...

Okay, I have included a link... the new USA today polls and others must be looked at again..McCain does not have a lead. Dems have registered more voters...

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2008/09/09/poll-madness-mccain-takes_n_125158.html

DB Voter Registration Drives

I am trying to organise Discovery Bay Voter Registration Drives for the HK Democrats. This is a crucial election. For those who are local, please contact me at 6302-3809.

If you are against drilling in Alaska, are for the development of solar energy and other alternative energy resources, think that the war in Iraq is a shameful and tragic debacle, are tired of corruption in government, believe in a woman's right to choose, believe that science-evolution not a specific Christian religion, should be taught in the public schools, and want to restore the US standing internationally (as right now, we are seriously viewed in an extremely negative light by almost everyone), believe in GLOBAL WARMING (I mean, come on, the state of Texas uses more energy than the entire African continent! We need to get a grip on this as a country and get real!), and think that a US president should be capable of thoughtful intellectual analysis and clear thinking--well--what more can I say? The economy is in shambles. Health insurance is a disaster. I can go on and on...it doesn't take a superior brain to take one look at the US and see its problems. This is no times for ostrich behavior, folks.

We are at a serious turning point in our nation's history. We must go forward. We need a leader who represents who and what we are as a country, and for what we want to become.

It is really true that many will not vote for Obama because he is an African American. His mother white, his father from Africa...people really need to have a think about their ability to open their minds. This is tragic that hate will guide people's decision-making rather than logical sound reasoning.

Okay, off to organise. I can't write about much else at this stage. Next Sunday is the Luk Tei Tong Autumn Festival which will be a village square BBQ, flags are flying now to announce it. I'll be there in my Obama shirt!

Monday, September 8, 2008

Joined a Funny Facebook Group

I joined the Group: I Have More Foreign Policy Experience than Sarah Palin

Pretty funny group....here's my post...

I have more foreign policy experience as a) I have Korean relatives b) I love Mexican and Italian food c) my husband is English d) My son has a Hawaiian name...wait...I thought Hawaii was a nation, isn't it? :) e) I studied about the Incas in 5th grade f) I grew up in Iowa and had a neighbor whose relatives were from Germany g) my son has toys Made in China h) I studied French in high school i) I own a Turkish rug j) I have used a Panasonic vacuum cleaner k) I have a friend who is half-Egyptian l) Elephants are my favorite mammal and many of them live in Africa m) I enjoy rum from the Caribbean n) I live in a rural Chinese village (no joke--Luk Tei Tong in Mui Wo, Lantau but NO, I am NOT a Communist, really!) o) I love hummus and tabouli p) I know someone who visited the South Pole q) I know someone from Alaska and so I know someone who knows people who live right next to Russia (stole that from Fox News, sort of) r) I know a German who lives in Munich etc...

I could go on forever with this. Very entertaining!


Le Weekend Avec Mr. Keohi Ki-Boo

Alors! It was tres terrible...to the point where Stephen said: This is a total waste of money and the most unrelaxing time I have ever had in a hotel.

We went for a visa run to Macau to the Westin Resort in Taipa. Nice place and I had a fantastic meal of African chicken, a Portuguese big hit food specialty. I devoured it in about 9 minutes, but not because it was so good I had to eat it but because we had to eat in food shifts because Keohi was running around and wanting to pick up all the rocks in the restaurant's garden display and throw them. Or at least steal them.

Well, ole rock star Keohi was up to his usual hotel antics and had a swell time at least. When we came in they gave him a little stuffed baby lamb, kind of a companion to his bigger lamb known as Lambie, and that won him over, probably for life, the poor kid. The Westin logo will be forever embedded in his lil' brain. They say that whatever product you become a fan of before the age of 12 you will purchase the rest of your life. This is why branding and marketing to kids who are young is so insidious. As a result, Keohi has yet to see anything Disney, any cartoons, or any product marketed to infants or young children. I don't want him enveloped by consumer culture until he is able to fend for himself and JUST SAY NO to whatever General Mills, GE or whatever other company is trying to hock.

I remember the days when people did not want to have things with logos on them...yeah, and I also walked 20 miles to get to a one room schoolhouse and never had dessert and always made my bed too...hahahaha...

More later...stay tuned...

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

September but it's still HOT here

Behind and lots to record, but first of all, that lone water buffalo as depicted on the side of my blog. Well, the poor animal had his entire family killed off! He's the only one left. The old villagers are embarrassed by the rural past reminders and kill off these creatures. But imagine, killing off the family except for one!

Kath left, so it's rather quiet. I'll fill in our adventures in a little bit.

Keohi is doing the regular rounds at the playgroups and has a booming social life. Maybe we all would if we communicated in monosyllables and mostly ran around waving toys at each other and didn't worry about actually how compatible we all are or if we have anything in common. Friendship becomes more complicated as one gets older. The other day when Keohi's friend Isabelle left, he actually cried at the sliding glass door. I can't remember the last time I cried when leaving a friend.

He is rather entertaining these days--slapping the walls with an earnest expression to emphasize that he too is killing mosquitoes and waving when his diaper is getting changed. Somehow I haven't really completed the toilet training thing or maybe I've messed it up a bit. He waves the poo goodbye in the toilet, but now he also waves at the toilet and waves whenever his diaper gets changed, and only rarely waves goodbye to anyone when he or any other person is leaving. I'm sure it will all get straightened out eventually. He also says UP UP whether he goes up or down the stairs or whenever he see stairs, for that matter, from his book OPPOSITES by Eric Carle. He also says LOW LOW LOW when he sees skyscrapers in HK (clearly mixing it up with the image of skyscrapers in his book with the word HIGH). Keohi saw the picture of Obama that I had, a button and pointed to it and said DADA. Pretty funny.

The big drag is that he NEVER comes when he is called. In fact, I think he thinks I am playing tag as whenever I say "Keohi" he runs away and expects me to chase him. Luckily I am still faster than he is.

Stephen is so tired and so I am I really, as Keohi has been UP at night, I mean seriously -- last night was 5 times at least. It's ridiculous. I'm looking at those 2 times a night wakings with foggy eyes thinking those were the golden days and wondering if they will ever return.

So I thought I would help out with voter registration here, but in my quest to do so, can't seem to find any Americans in my particular area of Hong Kong. I went to a gathering of HK Dems after Obama's speech. I've met one American here--a Chinese American, but that's it. I know that Americans are supposedly the largest population, but they are definitely not living around in ole Mui Wo. Well, let's face it, there aren't many people at all living in Mui Wo!

It's HOT here. STILL. August is the WORST month in HK so in the future, visitors, please avoid coming during this hot month! Dad actually told me that he would never visit me again in the summer.