Monthly Archives: February 2010

Man or Nature

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I can’t really comment on what it is like to be in Chile right now. I think I have felt things in the 4/5 range in Chile— but 8.8! Never. And, yet, it is so hard to be here, on the outside, not knowing what is going on. Waiting for the phone lines to resume and wondering. Even now, after talking to both my families and S, I wonder who I have forgotten, I wonder who is missing.
I can’t tell you how it really was—other bloggers, however, are doing a great job. So far I have read:

I don’t however want to just talk about the experience of watching an earthquake from the outside. I want to talk about how I am feeling on the inside. This episode so clearly demonstrates that it is not earthquakes that kill people, but rather the poverty they live in and the way we as a society have chosen to cut corners to keep down costs. This earthquake was stronger than the one in Haiti; yet, at the end of the day, there will be less deaths. Constructions in Chile are meant to withstand earthquakes—the country is, after all, on a fault line. In fact, there are laws about how sound structures need to be to get permits and be built. Too many of the images I see are of new structures (meaning corners were cut and safety precautions were not taken) or poor neighborhoods (safety was thrown out the window for cost).

I get that there would have been damages anyways. I get that people probably would have died. I get how huge and scary the experience must have been— and I am not trying to take that away from anyone. I am just looking for social responsibility and a recognition that we have the capacity to stop much of the death toll when we want/chose/have the political will/invest to.

I will finish with Nicholas D. Kristof’s facebook post this morning: The Chile and Haiti earthquakes remind us that it’s not just natural disasters that kill, but also poverty. So many died in Haiti because many homes were cheap and fragile. Chile is far better off and though the quake magnitude was 1000 times greater, casualties may be fewer. A 1960 quake in the same spot in Chile was even stronger but killed only 1655 people.

And a shout out on the photo—which I did not take as I am not in Chile. But, the person who took it has great photos in the series. Click on the photo and go check them out!

Photo Wednesday: Fruit Stand

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Fruit stand 2, originally uploaded by coming2cambodia.

Sorry…. I seem to be on hiatus from blogging, but I plan to make a comeback. Also, I have failed at Photo Wednesday. I have decided the return to blogging will start with a Photo Wednesday (please let us ignore the fact that it is Friday night). I am studying Russian– days have no meaning to me.

Fair and equal under the law (or not)

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When I am abroad and people ask what I love about the US, I often say it is the concept and belief that all people are created equal.  Sadly, this is the concept that is sometimes what makes me sad about America– the fact that we give it lip-service but do not live up to the ideal.  I was saddened to read this today:

Virginia: State Employees Lose Protections from Anti-LGBT Discrimination

February 16, 2010 1:52PM
Samir Luther

Gov. McDonnell has signed a new executive order that strips former protections from discrimination based on sexual orientation for employees of the Commonwealth of Virginia, while legislation to protect those employees has died in the state’s legislature.

On Monday, Feb. 8, the state Senate passed legislation to protect public employees from discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity or expression. The bill would have codified and expanded previous policy set by executive orders from former Governors Tim Kaine and Mark Warner based on sexual orientation only, but the legislation died in a House subcommittee on Tuesday, Feb. 9.

state-employment-laws-policiesGov. McDonnell first opposed protecting employees based on sexual orientation when he was Attorney General, arguing that the state’s discrimination policy should be defined by the legislature. His new order, which includes all previously protected categories including race, sex, religion and age – but not the previously protected category of sexual orientation – was signed on Feb. 5, but was first reported on Wednesday, Feb. 10. Current attorney general Ken Cuccinelli supports Gov. McDonell’s legal reasoning. The Governor has released a policy he recently sent to staff members and Cabinet secretaries indicating that his office would not discriminate “for any reason,” but his message could hardly be clearer: discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity is not prohibited.

12 states and the District of Columbia prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity for all public and private employers, and an additional 6 states have an executive or administrative order prohibiting discrimination against public employees based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

Snow as prozak?

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I have already mentioned the snow— and if you are in the region at all, I am sure that you have been inundated with the news of it. How exactly can news shows run 24 hour a day snow watches? I mean, really, isn’t it a bit much.

That said, my commentary is not about the overwhelming coverage and sensationalism of the storm. It is about how the snow effects people.

Every day I walk Harley on the same route through the same neighborhood. Actually, it happens several times a day. Every day, neighbors see me doing it. No one ever greets me. I do my business, they do theres, and most importantly (for me) Harley does hers and we can go home. Then it snowed. I continued to walk Harley. People stop me to make sure she is okay (the snow is well over her head). People comment “what a nice day for a stroll”. They ask if the dog has boots? They ask if I live in the neighborhood and how long we have been here for. Kids ask if I like the snow. I ask if they have made snow angels yet. They show me their fort as their mothers’ look on.

Why is snow like prozak? Why does it take a HUGE storm to make neighbors neighborly?