Curtain Raiser

Nasty Women Push Back, Colltalers

An off-the-cuff remark by Donald Trump has thrown, almost by chance, the U.S. presidential campaign into global relevance, by adding it to a growing discussion about sexual harassment. It catapulted the issue to center stage, just as allegations against him gained momentum.
By calling his opponent, Democrat Hillary Clinton, a gratuitous, ‘nasty woman,’ at their last debate, the GOP candidate unwittingly hooked up the long and mostly shallow campaign to a wave of worldwide protests against violence toward women. Clinton should thank him.
Internet memes, of course, followed. More importantly, thought, it was a fitting coda for their third confrontation, in the final weeks of a particularly, well, nasty run, that’s barely touched other major issues of our time, such as climate change, poverty, and nuclear weapons.
Now, whether the proverbial half of the population will take the hint and cash it on the polls, it’s another matter. Pollsters have often failed to gauge voter turnout or the precise extent of women’s power to elect officials attuned to issues such as reproductive rights and equal pay.
Also, while some of those issues concern everyone, not just women, when it comes to choosing leaders committed to progressive policies, it’s wise to avoid focusing on gender, or race, or class, for that matter, as that may hinder a more comprehensive approach to change.
This sort of dynamics may explain Trump’s support among females, after even more offensive sexual asides have come to light. Or the surprising number of African Americans who did not feel kin to or endorsed the candidacy of Barack Obama, or cared for his presidency.
It’ll be a historic milestone if the U.S. elects its first woman as president, but in context, the remarkable fact about it is that it’s taken so long, way behind one too many nations that have already done it. And although her tenure will mean a lot to women’s rights everywhere, it’d be too unfair to expect that her election per se, or the power of her office alone, will be enough to settle all questions related to such rights.
Remember, some accused President Obama of not only not having done enough against ingrained racism in this country, but that on his watch, racial hatred has been aggravated, a charge that is as unjust and inaccurate as it’s leveled with the primary intent to soil his legacy.
For in some ways, while the presence of the first African American in the White House may have enhanced racial issues that predate his administration, some of the violence was just another calculated effort to undermine his authority from actually promoting needed changes.
Even that President Obama could not prevent the brutal massacre of black youth in U.S. streets of the past eight years, his election did move the needle of racial equality. The terrifying number of incidents aside, more Americans felt affected by them than in the past, and not always in a negative way. Change travels by bike, while public dissatisfaction moves to the speed of light, specially through social media.
In the case of a woman president, it’s not just the glass ceiling that will come crashing down, but an entire establishment and chain of command, not used to follow a Commander-in-Chief Continue reading

Stay Awake

Top Reasons to Have
Nightmares in October

Despite all fake blood and make-believe spooks, plus the prospect of wholesome fun at movies and parties, the only dread still linked to Halloween is the obscene bite U.S. retailers snack out of it. So, at the intersection of what’s left of a pagan ritual, and the irony of grownups dressed up as bloodsuckers, here’s our own fright list.
True, nothing to bury you alive, or squeeze your sphincter to the point of constipation. Just five anxiety-driving reasons to refill your meds, and toss and turn all night in bed. You know, the usual suspects: fears about the future, or the past, or the future turning into the past, and, of course, crawling creatures and robots.
Now, the ability of some to still be scared means that somehow they care. And not many of us carry the burden of giving anything two flying er schmucks. But for those who do, sorry about the cliché but be afraid, be very afraid. Thus, this abridged inventory for the sake of offering anyone a warning shot about what may lie ahead. Consider yourself warned.
It may serve other purposes as well. Feel free to design a costume based on it, shocking enough to impress jaded friends and floor that cute Michael Meyers who struck your fancy at last year’s parade. In the process, you may exorcise that nasty heartburn. Just add spark and pointed teeth and voilá: even bad news take a break, sometimes.

Leave it to Wall Street to create new distractions, so while we get busy on social media, banksters subtract yet another dime from our future. But Bank of America Merrill Lynch may have broken new ground, even to seasoned con artists like, well, not us. It’s about the Matrix, you know?
In a note to clients, the bank that was found liable for mortgage fraud and paid in 2013 a $1.27 billion fine (in a government ruling since overturned), pompously warns that ‘It’s conceivable that (…) future civilizations could have decided to run a simulation of their ancestors,’ which means you, Keanu Reeves, and everyone else.
We’ve heard that before, of course, which makes one wonder, hey, where did I leave my wallet? For, while BoA, and every deranged preacher you never heard of, may be flashing their cards for our attention, about a future only they know about, it’s simply common sense to swoosh your cape and walk away, just in case.

You know that one: a lot of people are afraid of clowns, so why not start a crazy clown wave, with blurry video and threats to little children, just so we’re all on the same page? It’s on everywhere, and in the minds of publicity hounds, who’re smacking their heads, thinking, why haven’t I come up with such genius idea?
Hold on to your big shoes, Bozos, it’s all a fad. And the backlash is already apace, with mobs chasing down recovery pervs just because they’ve got the wrong shade of orange hair. Oh, sorry, that was a Trump rally. Nevertheless. Let’s keep an eye on those whose appearance is no cause for alarm, instead.
Or get rid of this paranoid mania, disseminated by not so clueless officials, that if you see something, you should tell on them to your local war weaponry-equipped Squad team, even if you have no proof of wrongdoing, or are out to get your poor Uncle Bob. That doesn’t mean your kids should like clowns again. Are you crazy? they’re creepy.

This is arguably the most frequent character in people’s nightmares, so it’s no wonder that every October there are some kind of unbearably frightening news about them. For if cats rule the Internet, spiders reign over everyone’s worst possible scenario. But until now, we were not supposed to shush in their presence too.
A new study found that spiders have an acute sense of hearing, and do hear you talking trash about them from across the room. So much for ears: they don’t have them. Still, you can hardly, if ever, hear them back. Until, of course, it’s too late, you’re covered with them, and… STOP!
They’re actually wonderfully creatures, crawling on this earth for some 380 million years. They nurture their young and occasionally eat their mates, but hey, who’ll miss them anyway? (more)
Read Also:
* Happy Halloweeners
* Hallow Talk
* All Hallows Eve
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Curtain Raiser

In Praise of New Americans, Colltalers

Among the many variables to decide the U.S. presidential elections – likely party crossover, Republican gerrymandering, changes in the Democratic base – two could deliver the White House in dramatic fashion: the immigrant vote, and an unexpected surge in overall turnout.
Given its candidate’s rhetoric on immigration, the GOP has reasons to worry about, say, more voting Latinos. But that’ll depend on legal residents becoming eligible in time to vote. As for turnout, it’s been a great puzzle, and an unfortunate handicap for American politics.
Speaking of puzzles, why undecided voters are given such a king maker role in the U.S. electoral proceedings? After almost two years, how can anyone justify being so utterly oblivious to the presidential campaign? Specially considering that both candidates have been such public figures in American life for way over this time, and even people who don’t speak English know very well who they’ll vote for.
To give this kind of deference to a contingent of the population with such staggeringly minimal awareness of what’s going on with their own nation speaks volumes about politics in America, circa 2016, and also may help to explain why so many stay at home on election day.
Of 325 million Americans, 215 million are eligible to vote. Only 153 million, though, have registered to do so, and even less are expected to show up at the voting booth. So much for a presidential contest that may be the most diverse in U.S. history, according to analysts.
On a global scale, considering eligibility percentages and a universe of only 35 nations, the U.S. sits comfortably, probably on a couch with some chips and a cold beer in hand, at the 27th position. And this is a country that loves to lecture the world on the wonders of democracy.
Despite get-out-to-vote campaigns, Continue reading

Nobody’s Children

Argentina’s Stolen Babies & the
Unfair Legacy Thrust Upon Them

As far as G. knew, his was a great upbringing. Only child of a wealthy elderly couple, he grew up in a big house in the outskirts of Buenos Aires, with all the toys he ever wanted, many a happy summer spent in the Alps, and the occasional trip to Disneyland. Papá worked for the president, so he even got to play at the Casa Rosada sometimes.
It was there that he saw the old ladies. Everybody knew about ‘Las Locas de Jueves,’ as mamá used to call them. But now they were often on the evening news, ever so briefly. Then papá got arrested and G.’s world went into a downward spiral. Specially when he learned that his grandmother could be one of those Thursday Crazies.

Not the one he loved so much, and laid to rest at La Recoleta years ago. Someone else. Someone who helped sent his godfather to prison. Someone who called papá a torturer and a thief of kids. From then on, the life he knew began to unravel and almost nothing he ever thought was true, was. That was not his father. That was not his mother.
One day, someone knocked on his college dorm door. He opened it to a spitting image of his, staring back at him. ‘I’m Juan. I’m your twin,’ he said. It was the end of his studies and beginning of a heart-wrenching, gut-spilling, mind-twisting existence. It’d take long, if ever, for G., now, P., to either put pieces together or throw them all out for good.
That year, he’d part with being a teen, and with his entire history, family, and full name. He’d meet a whole new set of relatives he never knew existed, and is still not sure he’ll ever love; come to terms with his parents being monsters even as he wouldn’t be about to ever hate them; and replace his own personal, lived experience, with a narrative told by others.
He would also find out that he’s unwittingly part of one of the greatest tragedies that befell his country, and there won’t be a place for him to hide, or disappear, like what happened to his biological parents. As they, he’s now forever trapped within a tale not of his own making, and likely much bigger than his own life will ever be.
Speaking of life, his still unsure about what his is supposed to be. For the burning intensity of having an organic connection with a group of strangers, who suffered through hell to find and make him one of their own again, has no bearing on or anticipate whether any of his double lives – one of absence and the other, obliviousness – will ever belong to him.

This fictional account of G., or P., or A., or K., has been multiplied more than a hundred times in Argentina. Ever since The Mothers of Plaza de Mayo picked a Thursday in 1977 to protest the disappearance of their sons and daughters, murdered by the military juntas that took over the country three years before, and lasted till 1983.
When it was obvious they would never return, the madres pressed for their children, many related to them, a humanitarian quest that’d sure to offer everyone hope. Historically, the theft of babies ordered by dictators is akin to the grotesque rape of women by every invading force since Antiquity, on their way to total domination and control of the blood lines of those they’ve vanquished.
It was integral to the wave of right-wing, fascist coups that swept Latin America from the 1960s on, few with the ferocity adopted in Argentina, Chile, and Uruguay. Such nefarious weapon of subjugation (more)
Read Also:
* Dead Presidents
* South American Trio
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Curtain Raiser

Lies We’re Constantly Told, Colltalers

Americans decrying the apparent ‘normalization of lying’ they see the U.S. presidential campaign spearheading, may be concerned out of the damage already inflicted to our collective moral compass. But what they perceive as a domestic phenomenon is clearly a global trend.
While they’re right to demand restoring integrity to the political discourse – and good luck with that -, what’s going on in Latin America and Europe has long extrapolated your garden variety expedience by candidates to public office, to what’s now unavoidable for getting elected.
To be sure, there are fundamental differences in the tactics employed by, say, the right wing coalition that ousted Brazil’s president, or sold the British into exiting the European Union, and the religious politics used to convince Colombians that peace can wait another 50 years.
Fingerprints of a resurgent radical nationalism have always been all over Europe’s politics, usually backing clamors for border tightening and refugee scapegoating. Many see these as neither new nor happening in some vacuum caused by the continent’s toothless democracies.
And it’s also familiar how a growing contingent of the underprivileged, the excluded, and the downright dispossessed, would break ranks, choose to support the policies of the dominant elite, and join in the fight against other impoverished crowds, who only differ from them in basic racial and religious markers. In other words, the current era just found an excuse to reawaken old, and not quite dormant, sentiments.
That politics is dirty, and politicians lie should shock no one not living underground for the past, well, ever. But even psychopathic leaders may unwittingly help usher progressive change, and we take that as long as they’re prevented from using it to consolidate power.
But when critical thinking is hijacked from the collective mind, and a candidate is hailed for trading into chaotic, disastrous times, despite evidence pointing to the contrary, then the problem may er lie elsewhere. Specially if the media volunteers a Greek chorus to chant along.
Verging on insult, matters are made even worst when, in the aftermath of a whole campaign of baseless alarmist claims and fuzzy math, the proponents of such irresponsible views simply abandon, or get dropped from, the rudderless ship, as it happened with Brexit.
Months after one of the most misguided referendums to succeed in tapping public discontent to serve a hidden agenda, their original leaders are already on to better (for them) Continue reading

Every Man

Nobody Told Us That There
Would Be Days Like These

Four years for now, some of us will complete the four decades that separate us from John Lennon’s last birthday, on Oct. 9, 1980. His life had been so intense up to that day, that the same length of time following it seem now warped and much emptier in comparison.
In his last two months, the man was full of hope, ready for a comeback that’d be only partially realized. Whether his best work was really behind him there’s no way of knowing, but since then, we’ve been badly missing whatever was that only he could’ve delivered.
And he has indeed given us plenty, enough to keep us busy going over it even now, so many years later. Like this post below, published four years ago: it’s focused on a particular moment in 1967, that wouldn’t have had such an imprint on all of us hadn’t been for him.
Just another way of marking a date that still holds us under its spell. Even without knowing that the next two months were his final countdown, John lived his life with the intensity that only those who know they’ve got just this one chance to do it, really do it.
He’d have been 76, this time around. Instead, he’ll never age a day older than 40. Amazing to learn that many born since then consider him a friend, and his songs, a guide to live intensely and grow wiser. Happy Birthday, John. Thanks for everything.

Newspaper Taxis

Lucy, Pablo & Tara: Behind
Lennon’s Sgt. Pepper Songs

Some say that John Lennon was the reporter-on-duty for the Beatles. For the most part, his songs do have that matter-of-fact quality, often commenting on the news of the day. Or of his life, for that matter, and always taking a lot of artistic liberties, of course.
Three songs from the 1967 Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album have exquisite stories behind them: Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds, Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite, and A Day in the Life. One family-generated, other on vaudeville history, and another about a crash that may have shaken London society and pretty much no one else, but that did send John ‘into a dream.’
We’re not getting into the slippery slope of ancient rock music critique, for most of these stories have been percolating around for over 40 years. They’re part of the lore and mystique about the Beatles and, we promise, that’s the last word ending in ‘QUE’ we’ll be using on this post. But before we forget, of course, these are outstanding songs, and the passage of time has had no effect on them.
As such, they always had room to inspire apocryphal tales about them, which are sometimes so colorful and detailed that only Apple would care enough to periodically deny them any currency. Reality tramps delusion in the case of these three, however, and their true (more)
Read Also:
* John & Poe
* Dear John
* Dr. Winston O’Boogie
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