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Category Archives: International

Crimea River

To: Dear Commissariat Vlad Impaler
Date: 16 March 2014
Re: Crimea River

After the Put-in, your currency Russian down rapidly past international banks where you missed your Chinese takeout.  Better to practice in the kiddy Simferopool.  No one likes usury; neither a USSRer nor borrower be.  With whom are you in streambed with anyway?  We have tried to brook our differences and open up diplomatic channels, but your runoff from the mouth is constrainer.  A ledge ally, you think we are keeper you from this sticky business?  That’s a dam lie!  But let us broach diplomacy, lest we sandbar each other from the water table; our communiqués have eroded enough, wouldn’t you say?  For far too long have we been bogged down in cold shoulder politics.  This said, do not think for one moment we will merely roller over like bump on logjam, even during this your watershed moment on the wave of so much popularity.  If Ukraine your neck high enough to the sky you will see we have the Kiev to your lock.  Like your Lada to our Ford, Leda to a swan, your Mother Russia-of-pearl before swine purloined is beyond riparian.  Do you have any eddy how bad you look?  First your attack on our gay brothers and sisters.  (How do you expect to harness hydroelectricity without dykes anyhow?)  Now you’re back in the land grab saddle like a Cossack on horseback.  Then again, why buy the Moscow oligarchs, when you get bilk for free?  Paddle do, you might say.  But Huron the wrong side of history, my friend.  Let’s let bygones be, and our past troubled water under the bridge, no?  True, you drove me nearly drove me out of my head when you said you told me love was too plea bargain.  I assumed the interpreter meant to say proletariat.  And now you say you love me again, and ask me to dance the hedgehog and fox Trotsky.  That’s your come-on: Crimea River.  I cried driver, how you say shotgun in your country.  In Putin Empire, Helen of Troika comes to you.

 

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Free the Felines!

Free the Felines!

It was one of those warm summer evenings in July 2010, on a Sunday around 6:00 pm, when a pipeline quietly ruptured and over 1 million gallons of diluted bitumen — aka tar sands or heavy crude oil — spilled into Talmadge Creek, a tributary of the Kalamazoo River in southwestern Michigan.  It took 17 hours for Enbridge, the company responsible for the pipeline, to react — that’s three separate shifts of workers who failed to notice a massive problem.  Meanwhile, despite multiple 911 calls by residents who reported unusual petroleum smells, local authorities were clueless; they hadn’t even known there was an oil pipeline in the area.  It was not until a worker from a gas utility company noticed the spill and reported it that Enbridge did anything.  Contaminating some 38 miles of the Kalamazoo River, this disaster resulted in the largest and most expensive inland oil spill in U.S. history (costing over $1 billion to clean up).  Three years later and three days before the anniversary of the spill, three protesters peacefully engaging in non-violent direct action chained themselves to Enbridge machinery in hopes of halting progress of more installed pipelines (to the same line that ruptured earlier), an act of civil disobedience for which they were arrested as felons — a federal crime tantamount to murder or arson, even though all they were found guilty of was trespassing and obstruction.  They were recently convicted and are currently being held in jail without bond until their sentencing on Wednesday, March 5th.  They stand to be imprisoned for three years.  They should be exonerated.  You can help.
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Bleakonomics 101 for 2012

Bleakonomics 101 for 2012

Spoiler alert: this evening, during the first presidential debate between Obama and Romney, we’re going to hear a lot about jobs and numbers.  It might look something like this:

1 part BS + 1 part PR = 2night

Unlike the rogues gallery of incompetent candidates out of which Mitt Romney ascended to receive the nomination to run on the Republican ticket for the presidency of the United States, the man is at least qualified.  He governed a very Democratic state and did something or other to save the Olympics in the chosen land of his religion’s people, Salt Lake City.  But those are incidental bona fides.  Ask most people why they’ll vote for Mitt, and the response most probable is some wishy-washy allusion to his background in business, Herr Exekutive of Bain Capital; that, in other words, he knows how to create jobs.  Leaving aside this particularly spurious ascription, let’s take a look at what — not even who — does and doesn’t improve the unemployment rate, shall we?
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Miss Swiss

Miss Swiss

The kerfuffle of Michelle Bachman’s application for Swiss citizenship isn’t new, per se, but I’d be most remiss if I let a blip like this pass.  What could have been mere matter of fact — that her in-laws were natural-born Swiss citizens who emigrated, which made her husband a Swiss citizen, and therefore herself one by de jure marriage — was unnecessarily escalated by the revelation that earlier this year, while still running for President of the United States, she was simultaneously applying for her children to be Swiss citizens.  (No word yet about those 20-odd foster kids they’d had and whether those Heathers will become Heidis and Jeffreys Jans, who will trade in those elementary school recorders for alphorns, or renege nacho cheese for fondue.)   Read the rest of this entry »

 

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Watch Wear You Step

Watch Wear You Step

Before I step on any toes by inadvertently insulting anyone (great disclaimer, no?), let me hasten to showcase how slow and behind-the-times I myself am: I had not even heard of TOMS shoes until a week ago or so.  This in spite of the fact that I used to work across the street from a shoe store here in town that sold and even advertised TOMS in their window display.  I saw the unmistakable flag in the window but had no reason to put one and one together.  Frankly, the logo conjured nothing in my mind more than the national flag of Argentina…

and an inscrutable curiosity wondering what “TOMS” could be an acronym for, since it was in all-caps and without any apostrophe.

I rather suspect I am not the target audience for any consumer product, much less anything having to do with fashion, but if I had been included in some sample survey or focus group, I would never have guessed in a million years that a flag with two blue horizontal stripes separated by a white one — or a blue field emblazoned with a white stripe — with a corporate logo reading “TOMS” would have anything to do with footwear.  Indeed, just for kicks, a quick Google search of “what does TOMS stand for” brings up the following:

1.  Total Ozone Mapping Spectrometer
2.  Telecom Operations Management Systems
3.  The male of various animals, such as turkeys or cats.

They b(u)yline of TOMS is “shoes for tomorrow,” so I can only infer that “toms” is short for tomorrow.  Still, as a marketing gimmick, the whole thing is lost on me — but not just for abstract advertising purposes: I myself would not buy a pair of TOMS shoes in the first place, in part because I can’t even afford the flimsy-looking things, but mostly because it represents many of the key problems with charitable giving by way of corporate profit, up to and including the irony of the law of unintended consequences together with its hell-paved path of best intentions.  Read the rest of this entry »

 

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May D(ay) in China

May D(ay) in China

Each year on the near-south side of Milwaukee a few hundred folks gather together to commemorate the Bay View Tragedy, the bloodiest day — May 5 1886 — in the history of the labor movement in Wisconsin.  I won’t bother rehashing the clash right now (you’re welcome to read about it here).  Instead, I would like to reconsider it in the context of our contemporary world, from Fox News and Foxconn to Scott Walker and Steve Jobs.  Read the rest of this entry »

 

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Tax Dodging Rotten to the Core

Tax Dodging Rotten to the Core

I’ve always liked that bumper sticker that reads “If you’re not OUTRAGED, you’re not paying attention.”  (Though of course it can just as easily be stated that If you’re not outraged, you must be paying attention to Fox, but I digress…)  Another slogan I’ve enjoyed goes “I’ll believe corporations are people when a Texas jury executes one.”  To that sentiment all I would add is this: or until they pay they have to pay their taxes like all the rest of us working stiffs.  To wit, today is Tax Day, everybody, so pony up!  You, too, corporations — that is what your name means after all: “corporation” from the Latin for corpus and corporare, literally to make into a body.  (Think “corporeal punishment” or “Marine Corps.”  Or hell, just think corpse, as in the American dream/ social mobility/ public works/ U.S. revenue thanks to tax dodging loopholes.)  Read the rest of this entry »

 

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