Thursday, March 30, 2006
Wednesday, March 29, 2006
From the highly acclaimed Ma Jian comes a satirical and powerfully written novel--excerpted in The New Yorker--about the absurdities and cruelties of life in post-Tianamen China. Two men, a writer of political propaganda and a professional blood donor, meet for dinner every week. During the course of one drunken evening, the writer recounts the stories he would write, had he the courage: a young man buys an old kiln from an art school and opens a private crematorium, delighting in his ability to harass the corpses of police officers and Party secretaries while swooning to banned Western music; a heartbroken actress performs a public suicide by stepping into the jaws of a wild tiger, watched nonchalantly by her ex-lover. He is inspired by extraordinary characters, their lives pulled and pummeled by fate and politics, as if they were balls of dough in the hands of an all-powerful noodle maker.
Tuesday, March 28, 2006
But we will also never know how many children were among the dead on May 10, 1993, in Thailand when the factory of the Kader Industrial Toy Company (a supplier to Hasbro and Fisher-Price) went up in flames. Most of the 188 workers who died were described as teenage girls.
We will never know with any certainty how many children died on Nov. 25, 2000, in a fire at the Chowdhury Knitwear and Garment factory near Dhaka, Bangladesh (most of the garments made in Bangladesh are contracted by American retailers, including Wal-Mart and the Gap), where at least 10 of the 52 trapped in the flames by locked doors and windows were 10 to 14 years old.
And we will never know how many children died just last month, on Feb. 23, in the KTS Composite Textile factory fire in Chittagong, Bangladesh. The official death toll has climbed into the 50's, but other sources report that at least 84 workers lost their lives. It's a familiar story: crowded and unsafe conditions, locked exits, hundreds of undocumented female workers as young as 12, a deadly fire. There may never be another tragic factory fire in America that takes the lives of children. We don't lock them into sweatshops any more. There are child labor laws, fire codes.
But as long as we don't question the source of the inexpensive clothing we wear, as long as we don't wonder about the children in those third world factories who make the inexpensive toys we buy for our own children, those fires will occur and young girls an d boys will continue to die. They won't die because of natural catastrophes like monsoons and earthquakes; they will die because it has become our national habit to outsource, and these days we outsource our tragedies, too.
Sunday, March 26, 2006
At our last meeting I recalled that there is a documentary attached to the City of God DVD about violence in the favelas. I've confirmed that-- it's called Notícias de uma Guerra Particular. Of course I recommend City of God itself, as well as the documentary Bus 174 which I saw at the Amnesty International Film Festival a few years ago.
Saturday, March 25, 2006
Friday, March 24, 2006
Thursday, March 23, 2006
Also at All Saints this Sunday, Sister Janet Harris, advocate for incarcerated youth, will be speaking, (same time, only downstairs in the "Forum." I blogged a few months back about this case and the story keeps getting better:
Six years ago, a persistent nun persuaded a large law firm to take, pro bono, the case of a young man she believed to be wrongfully accused of murder. In December 2005, Mario Rocho's conviction was overturned. All Saints' Senior Warden Bob Long, a partner at Latham & Watkins, was the lead attorney on the case. Sister Janet Harris was Mario's advocate. This journey to justice attracted a documentary team who captured the story on film, a short segment of which will be shown in this presentation. Harris came to know Mario Rocho at the Inside Out Writing Program she founded at LAÕs Central Juvenile Hall. A former high school teacher and chaplain, Harris has been an advocate for troubled youth in Southern California for 35 years. Come and be inspired by what happens when individuals put their heart for justice together with their education and training and don't give up!Hope to see a few of you at these events!
Wednesday, March 22, 2006
Tuesday, March 21, 2006
The Library of Congress has a bilingual site, still in development, United States and Brazil: Expanding Frontiers, Comparing Cultures. Check out the Colonial Period section for more information on slavery in Brazil illustrated with engravings and old maps.
And here's a recent article about the uncovering of a mass grave exposing the bones of as many as 20,000 slaves.
A bit more in the way of historical links, lending visuals to the narrative, Joaquim Maria Machado de Assis and Euclides da Cunha have Wikipedia sites with engravings, and da Cunha has his own site. Here's an engraving of Zumbi de Palmares.
Monday, March 20, 2006
Sunday, March 19, 2006
Saturday, March 18, 2006
Here's a short radio interview transcript and here's a newspaper profile. A tidbit about his method:
"I'm not a great reader of history, but I like plundering books for the interesting bits," he says. "Where all the information is so remarkable and entertaining that there is no effort involved in reading it – I admire that. You've got to keep people interested, and interested in things they might not think they're interested in. Maybe people who don't care about slavery might want to read about Brazilian cuisine. One employs the arts of seduction."