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I’m fascinated by the media. I have been and continue to be a consumer, albeit in a more selective manner now than ever before. I have been a contributor of both advertising and editorial content.

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respect and protect

December 1, 2008 — 1 Comment

2008 marks the 20th anniversary of World AIDS Day. Since 1988, the face and response to AIDS has greatly changed. While many of these changes are positive, this anniversary offers us an opportunity to highlight how much more still needs to be done.
For example:
Leaders in most countries from around the world now acknowledge the threat of AIDS, and many have committed to do something about it. As of 2007, nearly all countries have national policies on HIV. However, despite these policies, most have not been fully implemented and many lack funding allocations.
While treatment for HIV and AIDS has improved and become more widespread since 1988, many still do not have access to it – in 2007 only 31% of those in low- to middle-income countries who need treatment received it.
Despite HIV awareness now reaching nearly all areas of the globe, infection rates are still happening 2.7 times faster than the increase in number of people receiving treatment.
While the number of countries protecting people living with HIV continue to increase, one third of countries still lack legal protections and stigma and discrimination continues to be a major threat to universal access.
More broadly, real action on HIV and AIDS and human rights remains lacking. Legal barriers to HIV services still exist for groups such as women, adolescents, sex workers, people who use drugs, and men having sex with men, and programmatic responses promoting HIV-related human rights have yet to be prioritised.

for more information visit World Aids Campaign

music to make love to

June 26, 2008 — 1 Comment

carlin is dead and it saddens me. he was one of my favorite comics and while i think ‘seven words…’ was groundbreaking, there are bits i love more. i think my love of carlin’s work comes from his ability with words. he was brilliant and will be missed.

while vic and i were dating, we spent the night at a friend’s house and i’d brought the freshly minted, at that time, complaints and grievances cd. we had been listening to it in the car and brought it to finish listening to before we went to sleep. all i have to add to this story is that laughing hysterically doesn’t hurt when you’re getting frisky. i honestly think if you can’t laugh during sex, then what’s the point.

Got towel?

May 25, 2008 — Leave a comment

A towel, it says, is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitch hiker can have. Partly it has great practical value – you can wrap it around you for warmth as you bound across the cold moons of Jaglan Beta; you can lie on it on the brilliant marble-sanded beaches of Santraginus V, inhaling the heady sea vapours; you can sleep under it beneath the stars which shine so redly on the desert world of Kakrafoon; use it to sail a mini raft down the slow heavy river Moth;  wet it for use in hand-to-hand-combat; wrap it round your head to ward off noxious fumes or to avoid the gaze of the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast  of Traal (a mindboggingly stupid animal, it assumes that if you can’t see it, it can’t see you – daft as a bush, but very ravenous); you can wave your towel in emergencies as a distress signal, and of course dry yourself off with it if it still seems to be clean enough.

More importantly, a towel has immense psychological value. For some reason, if a strag (strag: non-hitch hiker) discovers that a hitch hiker has his towel with him, he will automatically assume that he is also in possession of a toothbrush, face flannel, soap, tin of biscuits, flask, compass, map, ball of string, gnat spray, wet weather gear, space suit etc., etc. Furthermore, the strag will then happily lend the hitch hiker any of these or a dozen other items that the hitch hiker might accidentally have “lost”. What the strag will think is that any man who can hitch the length and breadth of the galaxy, rough it, slum it, struggle against terrible odds,  win through, and still knows where his towel is is clearly a man to be reckoned with.

this year marks the seventh anniversary of douglas noel adam’s death, wear your towel with pride

Posted below are ten quotes. read, digest, discuss, repost.

  1. “Do you know the difference between a woman with PMS and a snarling Doberman pinscher? The answer is lipstick. Do you know the difference between a terrorist and a woman with PMS? You can negotiate with a terrorist.”
  2. “The Quran teaches that [all Muslims have a mandate to kill Christians and Jews]. Yes, it teaches that very clearly.”
  3. “I believe that the Hurricane Katrina was, in fact, the judgment of God against the city of New Orleans…. I believe that New Orleans had a level of sin that was offensive to God, and they are — were recipients of the judgment of God for that…. There was to be a homosexual parade there on the Monday that the Katrina came. And the promise of that parade was that it was going to reach a level of sexuality never demonstrated before in any of the other Gay Pride parades…. The Bible teaches that when you violate the law of God, that God brings punishment sometimes before the day of judgment.”
  4. “The military will have difficultly recruiting healthy and strong heterosexuals for combat purposes. Why? Fighting in combat with a man in your fox hole that has AIDS or is HIV positive is double jeopardy”
  5. “It [Gay marriage] will open the door to incest, to polygamy, and every conceivable marriage arrangement demented minds can possibly conceive. If God does not then punish America, He will have to apologize to Sodom and Gomorrah.”
  6. “It is impossible to call yourself a Christian and defend homosexuality. There is no justification or acceptance of homosexuality…. Homosexuality means the death of society because homosexuals can recruit, but they cannot reproduce.”
  7. “Only a Spirit-filled woman can submit to her husband’s lead. It is the natural desire of a woman to lead through feminine manipulation of the man. …. Fallen women will try to dominate the marriage. The man has the God-given role to be the loving leader of the home”
  8. “I cannot tell you how important it is that we understand the true nature of Islam, that we see it for what it really is. In fact, I will tell you this: I do not believe our country can truly fulfill its divine purpose until we understand our historical conflict with Islam. I know that this statement sounds extreme, but I do not shrink from its implications. The fact is that America was founded, in part, with the intention of seeing this false religion destroyed, and I believe September 11, 2001, was a generational call to arms that we can no longer ignore.”
  9. “Gay sexuality inevitably involves brutal physical abusiveness and the unnatural imposition of alien substances into internal organs, orally and anally, that inevitably suppress the immune system and heighten susceptibility to disease.”
  10. “Only 1 percent of the homosexual population in America will die of old age. The average life expectancy for a homosexual in the United States of America is 43 years of age. A lesbian can only expect to live to be 45 years of age. Homosexuals represent 2 percent of the population, yet today they’re carrying 60 percent of the known cases of syphilis.”

appalled? if not, then move on now. if you are, sit for a spell. quotes 1 – 7 are from pastor john hagee and rev. rod parsley. why do they matter is more important question. you see as the obama campaign continues to get flack for statements in or out of context by rev. wright, these fine gentlemen are apparently john mccain’s spiritual advisors and theoretically the same rules should apply. right?

three months, almost to the day since i last posted here. how things have changed, there was once a time where i’d posted twice, sometimes three times a day. i suppose that’s life, when you reveal that much for that long, there will come a time when you really don’t have that much to say any more. 

i think i do still have a contribution to make. there are a lot of things that have been on my mind lately –  there is an election cycle in progress, my experiences with my new job, developments on the home front and of course the elephant in the room – the state of the global economy.

there have been a couple of milestones in the interim, the beginning of the month of march marked my fourth anniversary in the us and the end of the march marked our first anniversary as homeowners. as the subprime mortgage and equity markets continue to implode i watch in fascination. i understand chasing the dream, but to what ends?

when we decided that we were going to buy a house we worked out how much we were paying in rent and utilities, what size home would keep our utility bills in the same relative bracket and what we could afford if one or both of us  were unemployed for a  prolonged period. and there was one other major stipulation, no exotic loans. we wanted a standard 30 year mortgage, with a fixed interest rate.

even without a degree in economics or an accounting background, the details of these loans were insane and based on an assumption that the value of your house was guaranteed to go up. isn’t the concept of value based on demand and availability? basically this collapse was inevitable and like any good pyramid scheme only the people at the top got paid. i’d posted before about the similarities between the housing crisis and the s&l crisis and the inability of the middle class to provide a bailout. i stand by that statement, but based on the bear sterns bailout, i think we’re going to be forced to pay for it, whether we like it or not.

we approached the mortgage company with our info and asked for the magic number. with the number in hand we then started looking in earnest at houses. to most people it appeared as though we found a house in less than a month, but we’d been looking on and off for about six months with my usual degree of obsessive compulsiveness. in the two weeks before we found the house we’re in now, i think we looked at least 10 houses with a variety of flaws; too far, zero lot lines, too many koi ponds – long story, rotting floors, smoky. and at first blush, vic wasn’t sold on the house. it was only when we got a chance to go in that she was sold and it’s a good thing we acted as quickly as we did, we discovered at the closing that someone else put a cash offer about the same time as the fax with our offer was coming in.

our house was a realtor flip and going over the closing documents, by the time the realtors paid their cost and what the owed to the bank the made less than $10k. i don’t know if i’m not looking at the big picture but that seems a really small profit margin and with the markets being what they are now, how much smaller are the margins? how many flips do you have to sell to break even? or does the commission on selling the house help? looking at the nashville market, there has been a slowdown but now as drastic as the rest of the country, however it looks like the majority of houses still being sold are older homes and remodels.

the foreclosures and abandonments are reminiscent of trinidad in the late 80s after the ‘money is no problem’ era ended. in 88-89 just before my grandmother moved to trinidad we started looking for a house and with the market being what it was the banks were more than happy to provide their foreclosure lists. we saw a lot of house that still had furniture in them as people just walked away from mortgages they could no longer afford. all the precursors to the recession then are visible here, now and what’s worse is that in this case it’s going to be global. the mortgage crisis is going to continue to ripple out, food and transportation costs are already rising while wages remain stagnant, the value of a dollar decreases every time the federal reserve tries to shore up the economy. greed put us in this situation and it’s going to be interesting to see how we get out of it.

An epic tale

January 14, 2008 — Leave a comment

while i was in trinidad for my grandmother’s funeral, Viacom, the parent company of MTV and CMT, decided that they were going to subcontract/outsource/farm out payroll for permalancers (that’s what we’re called – we’re freelance on the books but we work 40 hours a week, we have to ask for time off, so for all intents and purposes we’re staff). the gist of the announcement was payroll was moving outside the company and we would lose 401k and paid holidays and our health care package would switch to the payroll company.

the holidays pay kind of irked me, but what really pissed me off was the healthcare, the new package sucked. the cap was $25K of coverage (not including hospitalisation) for the year, whether it was an individual or family and $2K for hospitalisation. that about started a riot. actually it started a protest at MTV NY at least. the freelancers started walking out on a daily basis from 3 – 4 in Times Square around the time TRL was going on, so after a couple days they sent out an email saying that those who were already on the existing health plan would keep it and the transition would be put off until February and during the intervening period they would convert some of the positions to staff.

in the midst of all this bacchanal i decide it might be time for me to make a move and see what’s out there. now this is where it gets interesting, the night of December 6, i go home and start to massage my resume and portfolio with the intention to get it up to date and start sending it out, get as far as i though i could and go to bed.  i get up the next morning and there’s an email from a recruiting firm on the email address that’s on my resume. i get all these crap offers on this address so i’m a little skeptical but it’s address directly to me and in my field so i respond and they ask me to come in the following Monday which i do and i hit it off really well. they tell me about the job and who it’s with and say they’ll submit my name as a candidate.

i agree not really expecting to hear anything so imagine my surprise two day later when i get a call from the HR offices of the company to conduct a phone interview. i spend an hour on the phone with the lady and at the end of it she tells me that she’ll pass my info and her notes to the director of marketing, the woman who would be my boss if i get the job. this is December 12, two days later i get a call asking me to come in to interview in person on the 18. i put my nice dan dan on and  go in and interview and the end of which i’m told, expect a call the following week for me to interview with her boss and the other managers that make up the department.

by this time i’m excited and kind of freaking out, the day after Christmas, my phone rings it’s the HR lady again and i have a two hour interview in two days to meet basically the remaining managers of the department and the head of the division and the end of which i’m told i’ll hear from them in the new year.

First week of the new year comes and goes and i’m not quite panicking but i’m a little edgy and then last Monday, i get a call from the HR lady asking me to come in one more time. this would make my fourth interview and i don’t know what to expect. it wasn’t so much an interview as a final opportunity for me to back out. i think they wanted me to realise that i wasn’t going to be working for a ‘hip’ tv company but a more conservative corporate client (and no i don’t have to cut my hair or my beard). i got the offer on Tuesday afternoon and after a little discussion with the wife accepted it.

so there is my little tale. i have to believe this job was for me. it’s the first job i’ve ever taken for the ‘right’ reasons – better pay, better benefits, opportunity for growth and i have a really good feeling about it and i start Feb 4, as the communications and concept developer. i’m going to miss CMT, i have some of the best co-workers there, but i think it was time to move on.

loving you

June 25, 2007 — Leave a comment

it’s been rather remiss of me to let the 40th anniversary of loving vs virginia go by without a comment. 
on june 12, 1967, the us supreme court declared virginia’s anti-miscegenation statute, the racial integrity act of 1924, unconstitutional, thereby ending all race-based legal restrictions on marriage in the united states. interestingly various statutes remained unenforced in some states until as recently as 2000, with alabama being the last to rescind theirs. i’m including below the statement released by mildred loving on the 40th anniversary of the announcement

Loving for All 
By Mildred Loving* 
 
Prepared for Delivery on June 12, 2007, 
The 40th Anniversary of the Loving vs. Virginia Announcement 
 
When my late husband, Richard, and I got married in Washington, DC in 1958, it wasn’t 
to make a political statement or start a fight.  We were in love, and we wanted to be 
married.   
 
We didn’t get married in Washington because we wanted to marry there.  We did it there 
because the government wouldn’t allow us to marry back home in Virginia where we 
grew up, where we met, where we fell in love, and where we wanted to be together and 
build our family.  You see, I am a woman of color and Richard was white, and at that 
time people believed it was okay to keep us from marrying because of their ideas of who 
should marry whom. 
 
When Richard and I came back to our home in Virginia, happily married, we had no 
intention of battling over the law.  We made a commitment to each other in our love and 
lives, and now had the legal commitment, called marriage, to match.  Isn’t that what 
marriage is? 
 
Not long after our wedding, we were awakened in the middle of the night  in our own 
bedroom by deputy sheriffs and actually arrested for the “crime” of marrying the wrong 
kind of person.  Our marriage certificate was hanging on the wall above the bed. 
 
The state prosecuted Richard and me, and after we were found guilty, the judge declared: 
“”Almighty God created the races white, black, yellow, malay and red, and he placed 
them on separate continents. And but for the interference with his arrangement there 
would be no cause for such marriages. The fact that he separated the races shows that he 
did not intend for the races to mix.”  He sentenced us to a year in prison, but offered to 
suspend the sentence if we left our home in Virginia for 25 years exile. 
 
We left, and got a lawyer.  Richard and I had to fight, but still were not fighting for a 
cause.  We were fighting for our love. 
 
Though it turned out we had to fight, happily Richard and I didn’t have to fight alone.  
Thanks to groups like the ACLU and the NAACP Legal Defense & Education Fund, and 
so many good people around the country willing to speak up, we took our case for the 
freedom to marry all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.  And on June 12, 1967, the 
Supreme Court ruled unanimously that, “The freedom to marry has long been recognized 
as one of the vital personal rights essential to the orderly pursuit of happiness by free 
men,” a “basic civil right.”  

My generation was bitterly divided over something that should have been so clear and 
right.  The majority believed that what the judge said, that it was God’s plan to keep 
people apart, and that government should discriminate against people in love.  But I have 
lived long enough now to see big changes.  The older generation’s fears and prejudices 
have given way, and today’s young people realize that if someone loves someone they 
have a right to marry. 
 
Surrounded as I am now by wonderful children and grandchildren, not a day goes by that 
I don’t think of Richard and our love, our right to marry, and how much it meant to me to 
have that freedom to marry the person precious to me, even if others thought he was the 
“wrong kind of person” for me to marry.  I believe all Americans, no matter their race, no 
matter their sex, no matter their sexual orientation, should have that same freedom to 
marry.  Government has no business imposing some people’s religious beliefs over 
others. Especially if it denies people’s civil rights. 
 
I am still not a political person, but I am proud that Richard’s and my name is on a court 
case that can help reinforce the love, the commitment, the fairness, and the family that so 
many people, black or white, young or old, gay or straight seek in life.  I support the 
freedom to marry for all.  That’s what Loving, and loving, are all about.

more than 1000 words

February 11, 2005 — Leave a comment

the winners of the World Press Photo of the Year have been announced

Indian photographer Arko Datta of Reuters is the winner of this year’s World Press Photo of the Year award.

His picture of an Indian woman mourning a relative killed in the Asian tsunami was taken in Tamil Nadu on 28 December.

Kathy Ryan, photo editor for the New York Times Magazine and one of the competition`s judges, described Datta`s image as “graphic, historical and starkly emotional”.

Here we present a selection of the winning entries.

from the BBC

Republican lawmakers plan to reintroduce a bill to suspend the sale of RU-486, the abortion pill, and probe the process surrounding its approval now that three U.S. deaths have been linked to the drug.

More

for a little bit of perspective, according to a UNESO study, the maternal death rate in the US is 9 in 100,000.

snagged off MEFI