Cutting Corners, Costing Safety

I get frustrated with buying things that are made in China Mexico or the like, but because EVERYTHING is made outside of the United States it is pretty much inevitable. I try to buy used goods or find things made ethically but it is difficult when the overwhelming norm is clothes made by underpaid workers (sometimes children), but ubiquitous and cheap for the U.S. consumer

There are a number of reason’s why I despise how much we outsource manufacturing, textiles etc. (reasons such as: jobs, social equality, justice, globalization, etc.), but now I have a new reason; safety.

WASHINGTON – June 14 – Key components of high-tech American “e-passports” are assembled at a manufacturing plant in Thailand with precious little security, according to inspection reports obtained by the Center for Public Integrity and ABC News.

The U.S. Government Printing Office, the agency charged with producing the new e-Passports, has been warned repeatedly since 2006 by its own security officer that the Thai manufacturing site posed a “potential long term risk to the USG (U.S. government’s) interests,” according to the reports.

The sweeping concerns ranged from the political instability of Thailand and difficulty in getting security background checks for factory workers to poor police protection.  And that country is just one of several serious vulnerabilities to the e-Passport production system flagged recently by the agency’s internal watchdog.

Read More

Really? We are outsourcing our national security? Now, I am not a national security fanatic, I actually think we are pretty neurotic and arrogant about some of our thoughts/ideas behind national security. However, passports are valuable tools that do protect the “borders”, if you will, and regulate who is inside the country and who is not. Moreover, it offers freedom for Americans in that they can travel abroad and arrive back home without much frustration. What bewilders me is the fact this move was probably made to save money. The federal press can pay workers less in Thailand than they could in Huntington, Indiana (where I just moved from).

So capitalism wins again – this time by influencing the philosophy of our government – and what matters is not people or even safety, it is saving and making money.

To be honest though, all Americans are  partially to blame. Think about passports costing $20 more than they do now – which there would be some increase if they were made in the U.S. – people would be complaining all the time. Just as our desire for cheap goods helps to drive the negative capitalistic chain via Wal-Mart, Gap etc., it drives the federal government’s desire to save money and offer an inexpensive passport.

So just as with anything, we are all involved.

*The irony is that having passports made in the U.S. would create more jobs for Americans.
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Commentary: Why the Vuvuzela Horn should stay

There has been a ton of push-back against the utilization of the Vuvuzela Horn by fans at the South African hosted World Cup. If you don’t know what a Vuvuzela is, watch below.

There are several reasons the Vuvuzela’s should stay:

–  Vuvuzela’s are apart of South African football culture. If the games were in England, Brazil, Mexico etc. there would be elements of each nation’s soccer culture. We can’t be so ethnocentric as to not allow a nation to express themselves. When FIFA made the decision for the 2010 World Cup to be in South African they knew the culture and what was coming.

– The sound is a response of the joy that is in South Africa – and Africa as a  whole – because the World Cup is actually in Africa.

– Players will get accustomed to the Vuvuzelas. It is annoying but so was/is the wave, drums at games, marching bands, crowd cheers etc.

– Vuvuzelas make the experience unique, everyone will look back and remember when the Vuvuzela was released on the world of soccer. Perhaps they will even become apart of the broader sport culture and add to the multi-culture that is Football/Soccer/Futbol.

– International Soccer has struggled with issues of racism towards Black players and teams. Banning Vuvuzela’s would only add fuel to the fire, but supporting the horns -and a Black culture.

Thankfully, FIFA feels the same way I – and many folks – do. A couple days ago the president of FIFA, Sepp Blatter, commented on a tweet:

I have always said that Africa has a different rhythm, a different sound. I don’t see banning the music traditions of fans in their own country. Would you want to see a ban on the fan traditions in your country? Article

As said on Around the Horn, “There is an inalienable right to horn.”

Return of bloggin

I apologize for not blogging recently; I have just finished graduate school and am now planning to move to Santa Barbara for a Resident Director position at Westmont College (more on this later). I am going to try to start up the blog again however; my wife and I will be traveling out to California on Thursday and will be going to Taiwan (where my wife’s extended family lives) at the end of June.  For organization sake, when I do start into blogging consistently I am going to “limit” myself within four broad categories.

Art for the Soul – I have done a couple of these already. Basically, I am going to post a music video, art work, poem, lyrics, etc. and either talk about the significance to our lives or simply post the artwork and leave it for interpretation/discussion.

Media Reviews – Think book reviews, but I am going to expand to albums and movies.  Most will probably be over newer works, but I will probably bring up some books, movies, and albums that I am revisiting.  Some works may even be discussed multiple times at various angles. It all depends on how I feel and how much time I have.  *

Commentary – These will be my discussion on news and current events. It may be about immigration, church relations, multiculturalism, economics, urban development, higher education (my current career) etc.

Perspective – While in the commentary I will point out specific events in society and culture, the perspective section will focus on things that have happened in my life or something, outside of the news, that has made me think. These may be simple one-liners, or they may be longer blog posts; it all depends.

To those who have read my blog in the past, thank you for the support. To those who randomly or just recently discovered my blog, welcome. Feel free to go back and scan through old posts and comment if you wish to. To all, don’t just read, respond, I want to know if you like or don’t like my thoughts and perspective. Getting, respectful, pushback on ideas is how we grow.

*I am very far past due on several reviews of books I was supposed to write so in the next week or so I will be posting reviews of the following: Friendship at the Margins, Between Allah & Jesus, Education for Human Flourishing, and maybe a couple others.

Music 4 tha Soul

Shad . . . if you don’t know Shad you should. His lyrics are impeccable and his style seamlessly combines a jovial spirit, social commentary, and personal wisdom. His most recent album TSOL is an incredible work of art that can be listen to on repeat for weeks over and still be enjoyed more and more each time.  Check out his video for the single “Rose Garden” and if you like his stuff, go find his album, its worth it.


Hip Hop 4 Tha Soul

I was thinking about love and this Common joint came to my mind. Enjoy!

Imagine if the Tea Party Was Black

Tim Wise anti-racist writer and activist wrote an interesting piece on the Don’t Tea on Me Blog (my friend Timmy tipped me off to it)

Let’s play a game, shall we? The name of the game is called “Imagine.” The way it’s played is simple: we’ll envision recent happenings in the news, but then change them up a bit. Instead of envisioning white people as the main actors in the scenes we’ll conjure – the ones who are driving the action – we’ll envision black folks or other people of color instead. The object of the game is to imagine the public reaction to the events or incidents, if the main actors were of color, rather than white. Whoever gains the most insight into the workings of race in America, at the end of the game, wins.

So let’s begin.

Imagine that hundreds of black protesters were to descend upon Washington DC and Northern Virginia, just a few miles from the Capitol and White House, armed with AK-47s, assorted handguns, and ammunition. And imagine that some of these protesters —the black protesters — spoke of the need for political revolution, and possibly even armed conflict in the event that laws they didn’t like were enforced by the government? Would these protester — these black protesters with guns — be seen as brave defenders of the Second Amendment, or would they be viewed by most whites as a danger to the republic? What if they were Arab-Americans? Because, after all, that’s what happened recently when white gun enthusiasts descended upon the nation’s capital, arms in hand, and verbally announced their readiness to make war on the country’s political leaders if the need arose.

Imagine that white members of Congress, while walking to work, were surrounded by thousands of angry black people, one of whom proceeded to spit on one of those congressmen for not voting the way the black demonstrators desired. Would the protesters be seen as merely patriotic Americans voicing their opinions, or as an angry, potentially violent, and even insurrectionary mob? After all, this is what white Tea Party protesters did recently in Washington.

Imagine that a rap artist were to say, in reference to a white president: “He’s a piece of shit and I told him to suck on my machine gun.” Because that’s what rocker Ted Nugent said recently about President Obama.

Imagine that a prominent mainstream black political commentator had long employed an overt bigot as Executive Director of his organization, and that this bigot regularly participated in black separatist conferences, and once assaulted a white person while calling them by a racial slur. When that prominent black commentator and his sister — who also works for the organization — defended the bigot as a good guy who was misunderstood and “going through a tough time in his life” would anyone accept their excuse-making? Would that commentator still have a place on a mainstream network? Because that’s what happened in the real world, when Pat Buchanan employed as Executive Director of his group, America’s Cause, a blatant racist who did all these things, or at least their white equivalents: attending white separatist conferences and attacking a black woman while calling her the n-word.

Imagine that a black radio host were to suggest that the only way to get promoted in the administration of a white president is by “hating black people,” or that a prominent white person had only endorsed a white presidential candidate as an act of racial bonding, or blamed a white president for a fight on a school bus in which a black kid was jumped by two white kids, or said that he wouldn’t want to kill all conservatives, but rather, would like to leave just enough—“living fossils” as he called them—“so we will never forget what these people stood for.” After all, these are things that Rush Limbaugh has said, about Barack Obama’s administration, Colin Powell’s endorsement of Barack Obama, a fight on a school bus in Belleville, Illinois in which two black kids beat up a white kid, and about liberals, generally.

Imagine that a black pastor, formerly a member of the U.S. military, were to declare, as part of his opposition to a white president’s policies, that he was ready to “suit up, get my gun, go to Washington, and do what they trained me to do.” This is, after all, what Pastor Stan Craig said recently at a Tea Party rally in Greenville, South Carolina.

Imagine a black radio talk show host gleefully predicting a revolution by people of color if the government continues to be dominated by the rich white men who have been “destroying” the country, or if said radio personality were to call Christians or Jews non-humans, or say that when it came to conservatives, the best solution would be to “hang ‘em high.” And what would happen to any congressional representative who praised that commentator for “speaking common sense” and likened his hate talk to “American values?” After all, those are among the things said by radio host and best-selling author Michael Savage, predicting white revolution in the face of multiculturalism, or said by Savage about Muslims and liberals, respectively. And it was Congressman Culbertson, from Texas, who praised Savage in that way, despite his hateful rhetoric.

Imagine a black political commentator suggesting that the only thing the guy who flew his plane into the Austin, Texas IRS building did wrong was not blowing up Fox News instead. This is, after all, what Anne Coulter said about Tim McVeigh, when she noted that his only mistake was not blowing up the New York Times.

Imagine that a popular black liberal website posted comments about the daughter of a white president, calling her “typical redneck trash,” or a “whore” whose mother entertains her by “making monkey sounds.” After all that’s comparable to what conservatives posted about Malia Obama on freerepublic.com last year, when they referred to her as “ghetto trash.”

Imagine that black protesters at a large political rally were walking around with signs calling for the lynching of their congressional enemies. Because that’s what white conservatives did last year, in reference to Democratic party leaders in Congress.

In other words, imagine that even one-third of the anger and vitriol currently being hurled at President Obama, by folks who are almost exclusively white, were being aimed, instead, at a white president, by people of color. How many whites viewing the anger, the hatred, the contempt for that white president would then wax eloquent about free speech, and the glories of democracy? And how many would be calling for further crackdowns on thuggish behavior, and investigations into the radical agendas of those same people of color?

To ask any of these questions is to answer them. Protest is only seen as fundamentally American when those who have long had the luxury of seeing themselves as prototypically American engage in it. When the dangerous and dark “other” does so, however, it isn’t viewed as normal or natural, let alone patriotic. Which is why Rush Limbaugh could say, this past week, that the Tea Parties are the first time since the Civil War that ordinary, common Americans stood up for their rights: a statement that erases the normalcy and “American-ness” of blacks in the civil rights struggle, not to mention women in the fight for suffrage and equality, working people in the fight for better working conditions, and LGBT folks as they struggle to be treated as full and equal human beings.

And this, my friends, is what white privilege is all about. The ability to threaten others, to engage in violent and incendiary rhetoric without consequence, to be viewed as patriotic and normal no matter what you do, and never to be feared and despised as people of color would be, if they tried to get away with half the shit we do, on a daily basis.

THOUGHTS?


DeepSpace5 ‘The Future Ain’t What It Used To Be’

RAPZILLA just dropped the information that Deepspace5’s new ablum , The Future Ain’t What It Used To Be, is available for order. If you don’t know about Deepspace5, they are a Christian Hip-Hop collective consisting of Beat Rabbi, Manwell?/DJ Manwell, Fred B, Listener, manCHILD & DJ Dust of Mars ILL, Playdough, Sintax.the.Terrific, Sivion, and Sev Statik.

Also check the video for From The Outside a song on the album.