The Writing on the Wall.

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DC ballot box. What more can I say?

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Someone doesn’t think very highly of the police. I agree somewhat. Cops can be kinda thuggish sometimes.

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I was kinda baffled by this one. Wasn’t sure if they were making a statement about the plight of families today. Or maybe whoever put it up is just a jerk.

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Immigration, always on people’s minds. Not sure what “Jihad for Mayor” is about, though.

Apparently, White People Like to be the First White People to Try Something New.

A while back, I blogged about foodies and how they are nothing more than affluent trend-chasers. I got some flack on and off the blog for that post, but I stand by it.

Today, I came across a very witty and funny post that, in my opinion, touches on some of the issues I addressed—or at least tried to address—in my original foodie post.

Here’s an excerpt:

In most situations, white people are very comforted by seeing their own kind. However, when they are eating at a new ethnic restaurant or traveling to a foreign nation, nothing spoils their fun more than seeing another white person.

Many white people will look into the window of an ethnic restaurant to see if there are other white people in there. It is determined to be an acceptable restaurant if the white people in there are accompanied by ethnic friends. But if there is a table occupied entirely by white people, it is deemed unacceptable.

The arrival of the ‘other white people’ to either restaurants or vacation spots instantly means that lines will grow, authenticity will be lost, and the euphoria of being a cultural pioneer will be over.”

It’s always nice to read something funny, especially when it’s written by someone who’s thinking about the same stuff that’s on my mind. I especially like the term “cultural pioneer.” I think the ethos of the cultural pioneer is very strong in the foodie subculture.

Go here to read the complete post, especially the comments.

Then read all the other posts. This is by far the greatest blog on the internet.

Better Late Than Never: The Chickens of Argentina’s “Dirty War” Continue to Come Home to Roost.

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This seems to be the week that justice comes to those who had evaded it for far too long. First there was the case of Michael Seifert, the ex-SS officer who was convicted in absentia and recently extradited to Italy, where will serve out a life sentence for committing crimes against humanity 50 years ago.

Today, I heard about Maria Eugenia Sampallo Barragan, a 30-year-old Argentinian woman who is suing Osvaldo Rivas and Maria Cristina Gomez Pinto, the couple who raised her from infancy. She is suing them for kidnapping and falsifying documents. Maria’s biological parents, Mirta Mable Barragan and Leonardo Ruben Sampallo, disappeared—and were presumably murdered—along with thousands of other leftists and dissidents during the “dirty war” waged from 1976 to 1983 by Argentina’s military dictatorship.

It seems no act was too cruel for the Argentinian authorities, who took Maria’s parents away when her mother was six months pregnant—with her! Two months later, Maria was born at the secret torture center in which her mother was being held. The newborn Maria was then give to a childless military couple who raised her under a falsified identity. Her parents were never seen or heard from again.

Maria Barragan discovered in 2001 that she was adopted and DNA tests—coordinated by the group Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo—later helped her learn her parents’ true identity. Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo was formed in 1977 by the mothers of those who vanished during the “dirty war.” The group is dedicated to investigating the disappearances of their dissident children and also to locating the children of these desaparecidos who—like Maria Barragan—were taken from their parents and raised by their parents’ killers and their accomplices.

I’m sure at some point in our lives, we’ve all wished we were adopted, but I can’t imagine what it must be like for Maria to find out that the people who raised her actually knew the people who abducted, tortured, and murdered her parents. I wouldn’t wish that kind of anguish on even my worst enemy.

I guess the silver lining is that the people who murdered Maria’s parents and their fellow desaparecidos are now having to answer for their crimes. So far, four military officers have been arrested and charged for murder and other crimes committed during the “dirty war.” Also, DNA tests have identified about 100 Argentines as children of desaparecidos and reunited them with their biological families.

Better late than never.

“Dog” the Bounty Hunter Gets His Show Back, Proving it’s OK to be a Racist.

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Man, reading the celebrity gossip blogs really pays off sometimes because once in a while, they actually turn up something important. Thanks to my favorite gossip blog, I learned that the cable network A&E announced today that it will resume airing the hit reality show “Dog the Bounty Hunter,” which was taken off the air a few months back after the show’s star, Duane “Dog” Chapman, was exposed as a racist.

Dog’s racism came to light after his son, Tucker, published a recording of his dad repeatedly using the word “nigger” in reference to Tucker’s Black girlfriend. The recording cost Dog his show after A&E started losing advertisers, who probably didn’t want to be associated with such a racist. At the time anyway.

Fortunately for Dog, his period of penance seems to be over and A&E has decided he has done enough apologizing. Apparently, appearing on a bunch of radio and TV programs and expressing remorse for using a racial slur is enough to convince some people that one is not in fact a racist. Who knew.

Here’s the network’s take on their decision to resurrect Dog’s show:

Over the last few months, Duane ‘Dog’ Chapman has taken and continues to take the appropriate steps in reaching out to several African American organizations in an effort to make amends for his private comments to his son which were released publicly. Since the premise of ‘Dog The Bounty Hunter’ is about second chances, we have decided to give him one.”

I love America, home of the second chance, where there are no racists, only people who throw “nigger” around like their lives depend on it. If I had my way, Dog would never be allowed anywhere near a TV camera again. But I’m just a lowly blogger. And I don’t own A&E, which clearly seems to think that being a racist is OK, as long as you spend enough time apologizing not for your racist attitude, but for your choice of words. After all, there’s no such thing as a racist, right? Dog’s not really a racist, is he? He’s just a regular guy who was caught on tape casually using a word that demeans, denigrates, and dehumanizes an entire population. How silly of me to have confused him with a racist!!!

Now, I’m as big a believer in second chances as A&E: I just happen to believe that there should be consequences for holding racist attitudes, which lie at the heart of so many of the divisions and social inequalities that plague our society today. It took Dog a lifetime to become the racist that he is, and I’m pretty sure that spending a few months “reaching out to several African American organizations” is not going to make him less of a racist. But what do I know. I’m not the star of a hit reality show.

Luckily for Dog, his show was popular and I’m sure plenty of people—who have less of a problem with racism than I do—will be happy to start watching it again. But I’m sure few will be happier than A&E executives, whose decision to put “Dog the Bounty Hunter” back on the air probably has little to do with second chances and everything to do with money. Clearly, they think the loss of advertising dollars was too great a price to pay for taking a courageous and principled stance against racism.

Gotta love America.

The Writing on the Wall.

As a longtime DC resident and dedicated patron of the city’s various bars, clubs, and sundry entertainment establishments, I encounter no shortage of graffiti, stickers, and other types of wall art and political messages.

Thanks to the modern miracle that is the cell-phone camera, I can now capture and share these messages, so I’ve decided to add a new feature to my blog that highlights some of these images.

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Whoever wrote this obviously has strong feelings about the war (presumably the one in Iraq) and did not mince words. He also obviously wanted his message to be seen too, because he chose the one surface in the toilet he was sure would be looked at (I assume it was a man as this was in a men’s restroom).

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Immigration’s been a pretty hot topic in American politics for a while now, and this person puts an interesting twist on the issue by alluding to the fact that Europeans are not indigenous to the US. Clearly someone took issue with this point of view.

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These stickers were posted on an electrical box in an alley in DC’s Adams Morgan neighborhood. Seems there’s a strong anti-establishment current in the air.

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The war is obviously on a lot of people’s minds, but whoever put this sticker up is voicing a less literal opposition to the war.

In Côte d’Ivoire, the Ass of Your Dreams is Only as Far Away as the Nearest Market.

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I’ve never been much of a gambler but when I do give in to temptation, I only make safe bets. It seems, however, that once-sure bets are no longer so. Just a few months ago, for example, one could safely have wagered that Cameroon would win the African Cup of Nations and that a Black man would never become a serious contender for the presidency of the United States. Similarly, before today, I would have confidently bet that a West African woman would never pay good money to make her rump bigger. Good thing I never had to make such a bet because, according to the BBC, I would have lost big. Thanks to a new dance craze in Côte d’Ivoire, it seems that some Ivorian women are now using chemical means to increase what their mamas gave them.

The glorification of the female posterior in popular culture is nothing new. Since 1978, when the English rock band Queen informed the world that fat-bottomed girls make the rocking world go round, much artistic talent has gone into lionizing women’s behinds, with the likes of 2 Live Crew and Sir Mix-a-Lot gaining national fame for their videos and lyrics on the subject. Rising to the demands of our butt-obsessed culture, many well-endowed female entertainers have successfully capitalized on their asse[t]s. J-Lo is almost as famous for her prominent (and reputedly insured) posterior as she is for her singing and acting, while Shakira, in addition to her genuine talents as a singer and songwriter, has achieved near-legendary status for her ability to gyrate her rear end. In some cases, a prominent posterior can even compensate for a total lack of artistic talent, as evidenced by Kim Kardashian, whose celebrity appears to rest solely on her prodigious—and allegedly surgically enhanced—backside.

I was therefore not surprised to learn that West Africa, the spiritual homeland of posterior worship, has contributed further to ass appreciation in the form of a new dance called the Bobaraba—which means “big bottom” in the Djoula language of Côte d’Ivoire. What is surprising is that some Ivorian women, apparently dissatisfied with the butts God gave them, are buying enhancements from local markets. These chemical enhancements go for the equivalent of $2.00 and are available as an injectable liquid and as a cream. Besides the fact that $2.00 could be spent on a host of more important things in Côte d’Ivoire, as anywhere, the treatments—whose active ingredient is identified as Vitamin B12—have not been endorsed by the Ministry of Health, and some local medical professionals have expressed skepticism about the safety or efficacy of the medication.

It’s sad that some people will seize any opportunity to capitalize on other people’s insecurities. It’s even sadder that exogenous beauty standards can so erode some women’s self-esteem that they would spend money on dubious and possibly risky beauty enhancements. After all, this is not the first time that artificial body enhancements have appeared on market stalls in that part of the world. For years, skin-lightening and hair-straightening treatments have been top sellers throughout West Africa, especially in francophone countries. Thankfully, some of the women interviewed for the BBC story are perfectly happy with their natural behinds. Which is great, because if Ivorian women are built anything like Sierra Leonean women, they’ve got nothing to worry about. Hopefully the bottom-enhancement fad will soon be a thing of the past.

With the way things are going, I calculate that it’s only a matter of time before someone invents a dance for men with huge bellies. After all, guys with prominent anteriors deserve the right to proudly jiggle something on the dance floor. Any day now.

In the meantime, I’ll keep “training” for that inevitable day. Phew! Is it time for another beer already?

Thanks to A for sending the link that inspired this post.