Monday, May 8

In the Spring, Young Men's Thoughts

Turn to employment. And love too, I guess. Would be a crappy kind of love if you're broke though. Couldn't buy anything, go anywhere, see anything. You'd be like those couples in Uhuru Park, grass stems hanging from their lips, and air in their stomachs.

Not for me, thanks! I want gainful employment, even though "foreign powers" seem to be colluding to leave me penniless and turning tricks to pay the rent. Shame on you! Money has been poured to finish me!

Etc, etc.

I'm not dead, just tired of posting. I need to build up a store of experience before spilling it out onto the web. Poor neglected readers. I castigate other bloggers in my head when they don't post, but look at me. Hypocrite, yes. I'm OK with that.

My allergies are super-strong this season. What's up with that? Must be global warming. One more thing to blame Dubya for. I should put all my snotty tissues in a box and send it to the White House.

The Million Pieces of Snot Campaign. Has a nice ring to it. Wonder if I can get Moveon.org to jump on board....


Thursday, April 6

Moral Matrix



Your Score

Your scored -5.5 on the Moral Order axis and 4.5 on the Moral Rules axis.

Matches

The following items best match your score:

1. System: Socialism
2. Variation: Extreme Socialism
3. Ideologies: Activism
4. US Parties: No match.
5. Presidents: Jimmy Carter (79.04%)
6. 2004 Election Candidates: Ralph Nader (84.38%), John Kerry (69.22%), George W. Bush (37.42%)

Statistics

Of the 175893 people who took the test:

1. 0.5% had the same score as you.
2. 7.3% were above you on the chart.
3. 89.7% were below you on the chart.
4. 83.6% were to your right on the chart.
5. 11.6% were to your left on the chart.

I'm an extreme socialist! Quelle surprise :-)

Take the test, see where you land!


Friday, March 24

Spring Break!

Don't expect much by way of posting for the next week or so...


Wednesday, March 15

The World Won't Listen




I know I haven't posted about Morrissey or The Smiths lately, which is out of character, especially with Morrissey's new album, Ringleader of the Tormentors coming out next month. Check him out on Myspace and stream "You Have Killed Me"

I was excited to open my email today and learn about an exhibit at the Wexner Center entitled "el mundo no escuchará" by the Brit artist Phil Collins.
Phil Collins
el mundo no escuchara
(2004)

Wed, Mar 1 - Fri, Mar 31, 2006
The Box

In March we're screening Wexner Center Residency Artist Phil Collins's el mundo no escuchara (the world won't listen), an exhilarating karaoke video "album" of Colombian fans singing along to tracks by 1980s' rock band the Smiths.

The British artist produced this project in Bogota, Colombia. While there, he recorded note-for-note backing tracks to the Smiths' 1987 compilation album The World Won't Listen with studio musicians and then captured local fans singing along to their favorite songs in front of an improvised film set. (video, 70 mins.)

The ongoing project reflects Collins's belief that the band piercingly captures the sentiments of isolation and being misunderstood experienced by fans in many countries. As Collins has learned on his travels, the Smiths' music speaks to "isolated bedroom devotees" from Bogota to Istanbul, Turkey, where he has since produced another version of the video.


I just came back from the video installation and it is brilliant. I never quite understood what a global following Morrissey and The Smiths has acquired over the years until I saw an article about the popularity of The Smiths amongst Angelenos, and I began to wonder what it was about an all white band from Manchester that would appeal to so many people, from such diverse backgrounds. The blurb suggests that it has something to do with Morrissey's lyrics striking a chord with the disaffected and the disenchanted around the world.

I guess a parallel but dissimilar phenomenon would be the popularity of Bob Marley in frathouses across the country. The difference being the searing social commentary and call to revolution in Marley's lyrics do not seem to be resonating in those bastions of brute masculinity.

The video is in turns striking, funny and melancholy, much like the Smiths themselves, and the highlights for me were the man in a Mexican wrestling mask singing "Half a Person", and two women (sisters? lovers?) singing "There Is A Light That Never Goes Out" in sweet soprano, one of them cradling a 3 month old baby. However, my vote for most impassioned performance goes to the middle aged man with straggly reddish blond hair and piercing grey eyes, who did an itense rendition of "Sing Me To Sleep", made all the more moving because the camera was in extreme closeup, and his eyes literally took over the screen.

This work makes me think about the possibiliies inherent in cultural production. Possibilities that open up dialogue between cultures and individuals, rather than instating relations of dominance and exploitation. If Morrissey and The Smiths can speak in a language that needs no translation, doesn't this mean that there is the chance for equitable global action? A little naive perhaps, for its probable that the very mechanism that makes The Smiths available to a global audience also entails relations of exploitation.

But still, there's something about watching these fans sing, with such passion that makes you wonder what could be...


Tuesday, March 14

I'm In the Nation!

Well, my blog is only mentioned by name, as an illustration of the diversity of Kenyan bloggers out there. Not even a mention that I'm gay?

Full text below, link here

SMART COMPANY

The diaries of mad Kenyan bloggers


Publication Date: 3/14/2006

Local online diarists are treading where professional journalists won’t dare to shape public opinion on everything from politics, economics to sex. Is this the birth of new media in Africa as faceless authors take on hot subjects? BEN SINGER reports

Nakeel updates her blog at a cyber cafe in Nairobi.Photo by ben Singer
Wambui Mwangi doesn’t look very mad. The political science lecturer at the University of Toronto, Canada, was animated, colourful and occasionally cerebral during the interview at the Norfolk Hotel recently. Could this really be the self-styled Mad Kenyan Woman whose online writings are read by Kenyans and foreigners alike all over the globe?

Ms Mwangi’s Web site, Diary of a Mad Kenyan Woman (madkenyanwoman.blogspot.com) is what is known as a blog (short for Web Log). Every day, from Nairobi cyber cafés to California campus computer labs, Kenyans like Ms Mwangi are online - and blogging. She’s part of a small but vibrant community of online journal-keepers, thinkers, diarists and poets. And some argue they are shaping the future of this country.

A blog is a simple thing: a regularly updated Web site that allows readers to leave comments and interact with the authors. Kenyan blogs have titles like African Bullets and Honey, The Future Diplomat, Nairobi Back in the Day and Invincible Kung Fu, highlighting the diversity in style and subjects. From serious political analysis, to personal diaries and even poetry, it’s all out there.

Mr Daudi Were, a Kenyan working in Manchester, UK, administers the Kenya Unlimited Web site (www.kenyaunlimited.com). It’s a sort of a gathering place for all Kenyans who blog or who want to. Mr Were started his own blog (www.mentalacrobatics.com) in 2003, but when he looked around for other Kenyan bloggers, he knew he needed to create more of a visible community.

“I decided to set up the Kenyan Blogs Webring (KBW) to bring us all together,” he said from England in an e-mail interview. “After a few months the ring started growing rapidly and I decided to set up Kenya Unlimited as the ring home.”

Political postings

The 27-year-old said the first month of KBW brought only three new members, but one-and-a-half years later, the group has nearly 160 and grows by an average of two per week. And this doesn’t include Kenyan blogs not registered with KBW.

Worldwide, the Web site Technorati.com estimates the number of blogs at over 27 million. The origins of the blog phenomenon dates back to 1996, but things really took off in 1999 when a San Francisco-based company launched the site Blogger.com, which uses an easy, non-technical interface to let people create and update their blogs for free.

By 2002 there were about 15,000 blogs and, by 2005, 50 were being created every minute. In the US, bloggers have even recently become major celebrities, appearing on magazine covers and striking multimillion-dollar book deals. Ms Mwangi — the Mad Kenyan Woman — has become one of the better-known Kenyan bloggers with her free-wheeling and overtly political postings. She started blogging last year after being impressed by a friend’s blog.

Online, Ms Mwangi tackles real issues from corruption to colonialism (her own academic speciality) but, on a recent visit to Nairobi, she said the format is a refreshing break from her research life. “(Blog) writing has been a way to keep my mind fresh and, my (academic) writing from going sterile and technical and basically gross,” she said.

Mwangi and Were, like many Kenyan bloggers, live overseas for study or work. Kenyans abroad often have faster and cheaper Internet access than those at home. Plus they are exposed to the blog-mad culture of countries like the US. But there are still many Kenyan voices blogging closer to home.

The most popular blog in Kenya, if media attention is any gauge, is the Nairobi-based Thinker’s Room (blog.thinkersroom.com). Known as “M,” the 29-year-old author’s witty and unflinching take on Kenyan politics and society has garnered quotations in major newspapers and is widely read by Kenyans who want to stay informed. In an e-mail interview, “M”, who works in information technology but wouldn’t reveal his identity for fear of being “pigeon-holed,” said bloggers “act as a mirror on society and an accurate barometer of the status quo.”

“They tackle issues that the media are either unwilling or unable to tackle, since bloggers do not have shareholders to account for and are not influenced by boardroom and public politics,” he said.

Western pundits have been quick to credit blogs with becoming the new Fifth Estate, a plugged-in, unfettered group of citizen journalists that would soon eclipse traditional media. A seminal moment for blogging came in 2004 when bloggers revealed false documents were used in an American TV news story about President George W. Bush. The result was much public hand-wringing and the retirement of national network anchor Dan Rather. Another watershed moment came in the lead-up to the 2004 presidential election, when the blogging community helped bolster the campaign of Howard Dean, a potential rival to President Bush.

But Mr Dean’s campaign fizzled and the great blogging revolution really happened. The Financial Times magazine recently opined in an article that the hype has been just that.

But Kenyan bloggers are not so cynical yet. “There is more than enough room in Kenya for both blogs and the traditional media,” said Mr Were of Kenya Unlimited. “The Kenyan blogging community gives voice to those who may not, for a variety of reasons, be able to get their opinions into the traditional media.”

Not all Kenyan blogs get political, though. Some resemble personal diaries that have been opened for anyone with an Internet connection to read.

Nakeel’s blog (nakeel.blogspot.com), for example, contains links to online cartoons, but the 21-year-old journalist in Nairobi, who didn’t want her real name to be used, also writes about personal experiences: the death of a close relative or a traumatic experience of witnessing sexual harassment at the Coast.

“I guess this is just a way to teach people about myself,” said Nakeel at Java House in the city. She said she was shy at first about putting personal posts online, but soon came to appreciate the comments and support of her blogging friends.

“Sometimes you go and read somebody’s post and then you feel this person with some attachment there...like a sister or a brother. You feel like it’s someone you know even though you don’t know them physically.” Some of Kenya’s bloggers know each other in person. There has already been one official KBW “meet-up” and another is planned for this month.

But not everything about the blogosphere is about love and support. Ms Mwangi, of Mad Kenyan Woman, recounted a run-in with an on-line “blog stalker”, who left nasty comments on her site, and even pursued her to other blogs insulting the comments she made.

Village bloggers

But that negative experience ended on a positive note. “I stopped responding to him and then all of these supporters I didn’t know I had jumped in to say, ‘Shut up! We don’t like you! Go away!’” she said. “And that was very exciting.”

While Nairobi is home to most bloggers in Kenya, up-country areas have their fair share. The Kenyan Villager (kenyanvillager.blogspot.com) writes from a rural perspective in Nyeri, while Mombasa-based Maitha (http://bangaiza.kylix.co.ke) may be the only consistent Kiswahili blogger in the country.

“The choice of language was mainly because I saw a lack of the Kiswahili language on the Internet,” said the IT worker who only gave his first name, in an instant message interview. He added the language situation is better, “over in Tanzania,” where, “there are a lot of Swa’ (slang for Swahili) bloggers who I interact with.”


But seriously, this is exciting, no? It's good to see the Kenyan blogosphere getting the recognition that it deserves, and kudos to my double double WM! and thinker'sroom. How funny that right after I change the blog's name, it gets into the papers under the old name!

For anyone visiting for the first time, welcome! Look around, check out the archives, and leave me a comment! None of this going to hell stuff, I've heard it all before and don't believe a word of it :-)


Monday, March 13

The Only Black In the Village?

"Through the challenges, the President has kept his human touch. Touring New Orleans last week, he met a man who had survived for days on canned goods before being evacuated to Utah. “Were you the only black man in Salt Lake City?” Bush asked."

Egads, only Bush can say something so stupid and think he's being a human being...

From Time Magazine


More Jake Gyllenhaal!

Hot new pics from Oh la la Paris



Oh la la indeed!


Wednesday, March 8

Changing Names

In case you've noticed, I've changed the name of this blog. Why? I noticed most of my keyword traffic was coming here to learn kung fu. Ati me I know kung fu or something like that. And how the hell are you going to learn from a website?

Find a real teacher, shenzi nyinyi!

This new title is more expressive of my real interests: Buddhism and philosophy. The phrase "unborn, undying" is adapted from various sources, but most famously, the Heart Sutra

This sutra is short, easy to chant, and is completely baffling. What the hell does it mean? It means many things, and that's precisely why it is so popular. A "teacher" could make a lot of money trying to teach people what he/she thinks it means.

The byline is going to rotate every so often with pithy comments from people like Linji (Rinzai, Lin-chi - it's transliterated many different ways), Dogen, Kukai, Bodhidharma, Hui-neng and anyone else who strikes my fancy. I think the next one is going to be, "You don't drive a nail into the empty sky!"

Nudie pics for anyone who can figure out (correctly) what that means :-)

So now everyone who comes here wanting to learn about Jake Gyllenhaal being a Buddhist can find the following info. Yes, he is Buddhist. Probably Tibetan Buddhist as the esoteric lineages from Tibet are wildly popular, but then again he could be Soto or Rinzai Zen, or mystery of mysteries he could be Shingon! They do have a temple out there in Cali. Yes, his mom's Jewish but clearly you can be Buddhist and Jewish, or Buddhist and anything else for that matter...apart from serial killer or Republican. That would be too much to bear.

I mean just reciting the Shikuseigan should make a Republican break out in hives!

"Sentient beings are numberless I vow to liberate them.

Desires are inexhaustible I vow to put an end to them

The Dharmas are boundless I vow to master them.

The Buddhas Way is unsurpassable I vow to become it."


Oooh, random link time!

Ever wanted to know what the ballroom scene is all about? Fabulous! Check out Rod's summary for more links. And for a photo essay on recent competition check out Frank Leon Roberts. Strike a pose, y'all!


Friday, March 3

What Dreams May Come...Must Give Us Pause

Well I was certainly given pause by this one. Let me know what you think.

The dream starts on the down escalator of an airport which seems to be in Taiwan. Not sure how I can tell this, but I recall being surrounded by packages labelled in Chinese (yes, I know that Chinese and Taiwanese are different languages, but I knew the difference..somehow). I'm waiting for my luggage to come through airport red-tape with someone who might be my bf, or brother, I can't turn my head to look at him. I'm worried that something in my luggage will set off an alarm or something.
Everywhere, in this large room I'm standing in, are piles and piles of boxes, packages and crates all left here in the process of being confiscated for whatever reasons.

Tired of waiting I begin to look at pictures hanging on the wall off to my left. To my surprise I recognize two of them! One is of my Dad who is pictured leaning in to strap some kids I don't know into their carseats in a minivan. I try to see if I am one of those kids, because my Dad looks waaay younger than he is now, and I don't recognize myself or any of the other kids. I feel a distinct sense of unease at this point - how did the picture get here? Who took it? Where?.

The second picture is of a red, or reddish brown car flying off the broken span of a bridge, that straddles a deep green valley. Printed across the bottom are the words, " In Rememberance of [My Sister], 1986, done in that cheesy gold print lettering. You know the one I'm talking about? Feels like it will peel off at any minute? This is when I really begin to feel disturbed. That's the year my parents were in a car crash in Naivasha in our old brown Toyota Corolla, or was it just my Dad and my brothers and sister? I think the date of the real crash was earlier, because 1986 is also the year I have my first and clearest memories of hating my siblings. I remember feeling frustrated because they would not let me sit with them on the swing outside the house with their friends. I was "too young" to be out there with them, I should go inside and go back to Mummy. I was furious. Me, immature? Did they think I was going to misbehave and embarass them in front of their friends? Lookin back on it I think I had a crush on one of their pals and just wanted to be around them and hear them talk. It rankled then, and still rankles now. It was the first thing I thought of when I saw that picture. Did it also symbolize the 7 Years War brewing between my sister and I? That in itself is fodder for another post.

I took the pictures down so I could ask my folks what the hell these pics were doing in Taiwan. Suddenly, the scene shifts in the dream, and we are flying over a green hills and silvery lakes. I feel that we are in Africa now - in Nigeria to be exact. We are on some sort of game flight or something because the other mzungu passengers are talking about gorillas. In Nigeria? I look out the window as they talk about why racist discourse so frequently compares Africans to monkeys. One shouts out, "WM! Do you remember the reasons why they do that?" I say something about connotations of dirt and disease, primitivity and the primal, the almost human-ness of monkeys, the aggression.. The moment I say aggression, the plane just falls out of the sky.

It doesn't crash, nose-dive or spin. It just falls perfectly horizontally and suddenly. At the moment of impact, I unbuckle myself and start running from the plane. The plane has landed in some kind of marsh, shallow lake, or rice paddy, and somehow the other passengers are way ahead of me, running for their lives. They are all making good time, but I am floundering and fighting for every step. I can't tell whether it's because I'm swimming (can't swim worth a damn) or what, but I can't chomoka like those other guys. Everyone else is screaming for me to hurry, and I'm trying thinking that my asthma is going to kill me. Right then I start to hear gunshots.

As I struggle my way out of this paddy, trying to get across the tarmac road to the safety of the houses beyond, I get shot. I fall to the ground. I struggle back up, knowing that if I can get across the road, I will be safe. As I stagger/crawl/scurry for all I'm worth I hear laughter behind me, and see a vehicle pull up behind me, or to the side where I cannot see, and I get shot 2 or 3 times more, right in the chest. I was almost across the road, and would have made it had they not pulled up right then. The gunshots make it impossible to breathe, and as I lay there dying, gasping for my last breath, I see in the distance a shining African city, bursting with life in the light of an African morning (you know the ones, when the sun and greenery just seem to scream with life and energy), and a young boy with two buckets, out to fetch water.

I die, and wake up.

I was freaked out. What the hell was that about?


Tuesday, February 28

What Dreams May Come..

I had the weirdest dream the other day. So weird that I did something I usually don't with my dreams. I wrote it down before the memory faded.

Watch this space...

Speaking of space, I've decided that I will write my dissertation on space and place in Japanese Buddhist philosophy. I like it, my advisor likes it, and it sounds sexy. To me at least.. :-)


Friday, February 24

I know I announced that I had returned from my silence, but I was stumped for something to write about. I think my next series of posts will be modelled on the Diamond and Womb Mandalas of my main man???, also known as Kukai, aka Kobo Daishi.

I have recently become enamoured with esoteric Buddhism, for reasons entirely unclear to even myself. It is almost reminiscent of the manner in which I was drawn to philosophy in the first place. So here goes my attempt at a mandalic blog series modelled on the Womb Mandala (Skt., Garbadhatu, Japn., Taizo-kai)

Meditation on the letter A





The Letter A is the mother of all mantras, and the source of all language, and is the seed mantra (bija) of Mahavairocana


"If one sees the ultimate state of original non-birth, this is equivalent to knowing one's mind as it really is, and knowing one's mind as it really is corresponds to the wisdom of an omniscient one" (Kukai, Ungi gi)


Kukai loves the Sanskrit letter A because this letter is inherent in all language. When you write Sanskrit (the script older than Devanagari), the letter A is literally encapsulated in every word. If you don't add a modifier to the written word, the letter A is pronounced first. This makes for a perfect symmetry for Kukai, as A is the statement of the fundamentally enlightened character of the universe.

Where does the source of my spring lie? What lies at the core of who I am? What is my letter A? I found myself thinking about this last night as I realized that after nearly 3 years in Ohio, I can count the number of my friends on one hand (boyfriend included!).

Does something lie in the core of who I am that makes me "friendless"? Or maybe it's a manifestation of my inner misanthrope - while I do enjoy the company of people I like, I am not hesitant to express my distaste for the "masses". There's something about a seething throng of people moving aimlessly about, nattering inanely about this and that, and getting in my way that makes me want to smack them in the mouth. Not very Buddhist of me.

People must be able to pick up on that. Maybe that's why I can't hold on to the friends that I do make, and have made. I'm a loner at heart, I feel. Nothing gives me greater satisfaction than a fine sunny day, spent with a good book and the windows open to let in a lavender breeze. Hmm, that reminds me, I should buy some seeds to plant.

Whatever the case, I do keep returning to this question of who and why I am...Don't we all? Maybe I just have a deep-seated fear of rejection, or a streak of selfishness that makes me disinclined to share myself truly with others. In part that's because I don't think people really get me - and by that I just mean they don't really understand the way I think. To do that, they would have to share the same context for my thoughts, and I don't know how to communicate that.

I mean, how do you communicate the feeling of Nyeri sunshine on a 16 year old's skin as he stands outside the library at his school, watching his first crush walk down the hill in his finest grey trousers? I find some memories too precious to share with someone who may just say, "Uh huh, yeah" or "Wow" or "Mmmm." I would need to know that they are feeling exactly what I am remembering feeling or else my memories would be tarnished. That's what frustrates me about telling my bf stories that I think are funny. He just doesn't get them. Makes me go back and repeat the setup, explain the punchline, and then just goes "Mmmm" or which is worse, doesn't laugh!

Most of the time he takes it seriously, like when I joke about back pain, or my asthma, he starts saying I should see a doctor. If I wanted to be serious, I wouldn't have told a joke! So I don't tell him my funny stories, I save them for people who will laugh. Is that mean of me? Probably. I just couldn't go on telling jokes that fall flat like that. I can't tell him he's supposed to laugh, he's just supposed to, it's funny dammit!

And so I remain silent and cradle my wellspring.

Mudra: Wisdom Fist


Wednesday, February 8



My doubly double WM has prodded me into coming back to posting.

I had taken time off to finish up my thesis about the esoteric tradition of "becoming a buddha in this body" [sokushin jobutsu, for those in the know] in the thought of Dogen and Kukai. Its completion was long overdue, and I took all of the Xmas break to recuperate.

So what's happened since I've been gone? I've been taking classes, teaching, and cursing this strange winter we've been having. First it teases you with warm spring like weather, then February hits you like a spitball down the neck. Yeccchh.


Monday, November 7

The Playboy
Random Gentle Sex Master (RGSMm)

Clean. Smooth. Successful. You're The Playboy.

You're spontaneous, and your energy is highly contagious. Guys therefore find you fun to be around, and girls find you compelling. You have lots of sex, and you manage it all without seeming cheap or being hurtful. Well done. You probably know karate, too.

Your exact opposite:
The Mixed Messenger

Deliberate Brutal Love Dreamer
It's obvious to us, and probably everyone else, that you're after physical rather than emotional relationships, but you're straight up with potential partners. And if a guy you want isn't into something casual, it's no big deal. You move on. BEFORE sleeping with him. Usually. At least you try to. Such control is rare.

If you're feeling unfulfilled, maybe you should raise your standards. New conquests will only be satisfying if there's a possibility of rejection.


ALWAYS AVOID: The Mixed Messenger

CONSIDER: The Bachelor, The Poolboy


Link: The 32-Type Dating Test by OkCupid - Free Online Dating.
My profile name: Tetsu-jin


Monday, October 31

What I am Worth



My blog is worth $5,645.40.
How much is your blog worth?




Must be significant because I've just received my first anti-gay comment! Yay! It is relatively well written for a bit of hate speech, and invites me to die of AIDS from taking it up the ass in toilets. Two points spring to mind: one, I'm the one who does the fucking up the ass, and two, the toilet scene is soooo '80s.


Tuesday, October 11

All the Streets are crammed with things/Eager to be held/I know what hands are for..



Could I make every post start with a Smith's lyric quote? You bet! I wonder if anyone's done a serious textual analysis of Morrissey's lyrics...

Anyway..

I had quite a moment in class today. Have you ever had one of those moments? Where a red haze descends over your eyes, your brain suddenly fills with a silvery fog, and the blood rushes to your hands and face? I did, and it was spawned by the racist trash that was spewing out of my student's mouths. Something to the effect that even though American history is littered with the bones and mass graves of the down-trodden and the exploited, that the survivors should just "get over it", quit whining about the past, and get on with their lives.

Naturally, this was upsetting.

I then began to think about that sort of reflexive reaction many Americans have to talking seriously about race, history and hegemony. Does this reaction stem from a refusal to countenance that "they" might be the "bad guys" of history? Or is it a consequence of fatigue stemming from a continual wave of readings and alternative viewpoints that are simply not presented in American high schools? Do these students even possess the critical faculties necessary to process what is being presented to them?

I tried to put myself in their shoes and imagine what my reaction would be if I was presented with evidence that my country/society/family are, quite frankly, evil murderous bastards. Would I respond in the same fashion? With denial, and a nonchalance that chills the heart to the bone? I would like to think not...

It must stem from the fact that there is no such thing as American culture either. They have nothing in their lives and history that would enable them to empathise/understand anyone who presents a history of oppression to them and demands that they take it seriously. My students are so used to thinking of themselves, their society and culture as the norm, that they cannot but take all others as the Other.

It surely does not help that they must see me as just another minority person bitching about some past inequality. My subject position is definitely not neutral in this respect, but does that mean that my critiques of hegemony are indelibly coloured by their perception of me? What sorts of strategies (additional) do I need to bring to bear?

My first instinct is to say to hell with them, damn the bad evaluations, full steam ahead! I wonder though, if the conviction that many of them must be feeling when presented with these alternative voices/histories needs to be gently fed and nurtured...Why should I be the one to do that? To be the patient one, holding their hand and nursing them through their neuroses?

I can only say how sorry I feel for them sometimes. I look at them and realise that they have no sense of culture or belonging, of history or extended family..but that sympathy is dulled time and again, when I hear what comes out their mouths - with no hesitation or shame!

And they wonder why the world resents them...

I had intended to post about the concept of the "Public" and how them blogosphere is positioned in relation to that, but I may save it for another day


Wednesday, July 20

A boy in the bush/ Is worth two in the hand



I don't think I've posted about Morrissey and The Smiths before, have I? I'm too lazy to go back and troll through my own archives :-p

I recently purchased Morrisey - Live at Earl's Court. A recording of a live concert he did last year on his birthday, and it just blew me away.

I was introduced to The Smiths by my philosophy advisor. Well, not really introduced..she mentioned one day in class that as a teenage girl she would spend hours locked in her room listening to The Smiths and wading in existential angst. As she was teaching an upper level Existential Philosophy class at the time, it made perfect sense to bring them up at the time...Since I was rather enamoured of existentialism by this point (and of her, I must admit, but in a totally non-hetero way) I decided to download a few tracks and hear what they sounded like for myself.

Half an hour later, I had a representative sample. I queued them up in Winamp and hit play. The result was instant flashback.

Denmark, 2001.

I'm sitting in my host cucu's (grandmother, to you non-Kikuyu types) living room, watching Danish TV and struggling to follow along, when Top of the Pops comes on MTV Europe. It's early on a Saturday night and I don't feel like going out (no money, yechh), so MTV Europe will be about it for the night's excitement, unless my annoying roomie Kip comes home in a state of drunken nerdy spazz frenzy (silly boy). Two unremarkable performances later, they play a "classic" Top of the Pops moment.

Oh great, I'm thinking, 80's snyth, bad hair and skinny waifs singing in falsetto, when's the Top 20 countdown on? It takes me a couple of seconds to realize that it's a guitar I'm hearing and not a synthesizer...by then the singer had started the first verse and his voice just grabbed me by the nads... "I am the son and heir/Of nothing in particular"..His voice curls, sways and swaggers its way around the lyrics, contemptuous and venomous...and when he gets to this verse, no force on earth could have moved me from that couch

There's a club, if you'd like to go
You could meet somebody who really loves you
So you go, and you stand on your own
And you leave on your own
And you go home, and you cry
And you want to die

When you say it's gonna happen "now"
Well, when exactly do you mean ?
See I've already waited too long
And all my hope is gone


When he got to the last line, he ripped his shirt open, and to this day, I'm sure I gasped, because I felt that he was singing my life at that point. Boyfriend less, sex-less, alone in a strange city, desperately trying to find someone to be with in Copenhagen, going out to bars alone, coming back alone. All the heartache and drama I had gone through before I left for Denmark came rushing back as he was singing. I felt like my heart would explode with the intensity of the sorrow and anguish that slight waif had made me feel, but it felt good all at the same time. I felt as if he knew exactly what I was feeling, he'd been there, done that and made it through, and for that I loved him. In the rush of that moment, I didn't catch the name of the band, but I knew that I would track them down if it was the last thing that I did.

New York, 2002.

I hit play, and hear that characteristic wail, and my heart leaps in my chest.

I had found them.


Wednesday, July 13



Ahhh, the beginning of the end...


Saturday, July 2

So Happy err.. Long Weekend!

Too bad I have to work tomorrow and Sunday...8 hours both days..bah.

So while you are choking down your ribs, pilau and kachumbari, think of me will you? I will probably be sitting in the small Diagnostic Transport office with a book in my lap trying to stay awake until my shift ends at 11pm.

Well, enough with the shameless attempt at garnering your sympathies, on to the real substance of this post! Which is...err..Actually, I don't have much substance in mind, which is really indicative of my general state of mind these days. I don't have that much bubbling away in my brain since I started this job. Not that I'm blaming it for sapping my mental energy, it's purely coincidence. What really happened was that I installed a new strategy game on my computer and it has me hooked.

It so happens that I have been playing games in this series since the demo for the first in the series, Shogun: Total War was released in 1999. I had played various strategy games ever since we got our first computer in 1996, mostly the Age of Empires series (that first computer also led to my first encounter with gay porn, but that story for another day) and I had enjoyed those a lot. Great way to while away those dull Sunday afternoons in Nairobi.

This game was something else - real time command of little animated guys on a 3-D battlefield. Amazing! The music, the voices, the setting all worked together to create an immersive experience that had you believing you were the leader of one of Japan's great samurai clans, destined to reunite a country at war and bring peace to the land...by the edge of one's sword if necessary..heh. The demo was a particularly divillish challenge, and I spent hours trying to successfully complete it. I really think that game is to blame/the reason for my fascination with almost all things Japanese. It was latent before I think, but this game just brought it out with a vengeance.

In case you think that when I say I was "hooked" I mean it in a vague general sense, consider this - I put myself $1700 in debt for this game. Yup, I bought a state of the art computer (for the time) just so I could play STW when it was released in the summer of 2000. Hooked doesn't even come close to describing the gaming frenzy that ensued afterwards. I would lock myself in my dorm room for hours and hours on end, emerging only to eat/drink/excrete so that I could spend more time playing. Hours could pass by like minutes when I was immersed and boy was I ever immersed..

I have bought every game that's come out in the series since, and I am currently hooked on the latest iteration, Rome: Total War, which brings the game fully into 3-D, from the strategy map to the battlefield. Yum! The highlight so far has to be the war elephant unit - 18 of the most pugilistic pachyderms ever to raid a maize plantation. Charge a unit of these babies and watch the soldiers fly (literally!)



So basically, when I am not working, cuddling with my bf,cooking,or watching one of the summer's skanky new reality shows (Kept, Strip Search, The Real World), I am playing at elephants and pancakes :-D

Not much time for anything else, now is there?


Tuesday, June 28

Been A While

Hasn't it? Soooo many distractions over the past couple of weeks. I mean, work alone is enough to keep me away from the keyboard. Here's some of the highlights of my work experience thus far...


Walked miles of hospital corridor. Seriously.

Seen more elderly patients than you can shake a walking cane at.

Pushed, pulled, rolled, slid, nudged, bumped, hauled, heaved,tugged, and dragged wheelchairs, beds and carts through those miles of hospital corridor.

Seen only my second dead person, and my first in a morgue cooler.

A basement full of blinking, beeping, whirling, lift using robots. Yes, robots.

I'll have to drop down to one or two post a week, as I am not only trying to survive my job, but finish an unfinished thesis as well as memorising about 3000 kanji by the end of the summer.

So far, I've revised only one chapter of the thesis and done about 250 kanji...yikes..



Thursday, June 16

I Gots Bills To Pay



I guess he needs to pay some bills from his drunk driving arrest... :-)



That's just fine by me!



Work it!

I will not be working at anything quite so glamorous this summer. I will be spending my time wheeling patients from one end of any of six hospitals to another sporting lovely tan Angelica brand scrubs..



Hardly the "height" of couture...hahaha, get it? "height"? eh? eh?

Anyway, since this job involves a lot of walking and lifting, I will probably lose some of the keyboard weight I put on this year - damn thesis writing... grumble grumble...

Buddha only knows what sorts of folks I will be meeting and talking to, but I am sure that they will be a rich source of anecdotes for many years to come, so stay tuned folks :-D

If only for the occasional man-candy..hehehe..


Wednesday, June 15

Telegraph | News | Secret papers show Blair was warned of Iraq chaos

Still more hard evidence that Bush and his lapdog Blair deliberately lied, manipulated, tickled and teased their way to war. It's been a long time coming, and finally I can dream of a real impeachment.


Strange Fruit

Reading this helps me put the Augsburg zoo story into the appropriate context. If we can no longer be lynched physically, we can at least be lynched in a specular fashion, once again the subject of mass spectacle, degraded in public for white enjoyment...


Rise of the Machines!

And so it begins, one hospital robot here, a car assembly robot there, next thing you know it's "Destroy All Humans!!" ringing out in the street, and we're all running for our lives. Matrix 1.0 can't be far behind...


Tuesday, June 14

Gay Warning Labels?

Oh lovely, warning labels! What ever would they say?

Warning! May result in good personal hygiene, and fashion sense!

Obviously, this has nothing to do with previous attempts to put warning labels on people, does it?



Future gay "leaders" think being gay is a sin..

Britney's got cooties like you won't believe!

So these are the frontrunners for President, eh? Pssshhht..



Stolen from Afromusing


Monday, June 13

A Complete Idiot's Guide to having a Black Friend

Hahahaha! Wish I could print this out and hand it out to all my classes... Those whitebread cornfed types would have no idea what to say to this!


Saturday, June 11

Camp Hetero Horror

Saturday horror story from Republic of T. I can't imagine what that poor kid is going through...


Friday, June 10

Tagged! (Deux) + The Friday Five

I was too slow to avoid Mshairi and I got tagged with the book meme...

Number of books that you own?

I'd say I own about 80 books right now, if I had my druthers it would be in hundreds. The only thing I dislike about books is how heavy and bulky they are when you have to move apartments :-(


Last book you bought?


Bought two at a go (Thanks to Half Price Books. Best. Store. Ever!): Deleuzism: A Metacommentary and Jane Sexes It Up



Five books that mean a lot to you?

I've read so many good ones! If I had to choose just 5 to go take in exile they would be:

1. The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien
2. Shobogenzo - Dogen
3. Taiko - Eiji Yoshikawa
4. The Book of the New Sun - Gene Wolfe
5. Philosophical Investigations - Ludwig Wittgenstein

Last book(s) you've read?

The Ultimate Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy

The tagging stops here! I want to start a different thing altogether, The Friday Five!

Here's how it works. Put all the music you own onto a single playlist (on your computer, iPod, whatever), set the music to play at random, and post the titles of the first 5 songs that play. Simple, eh?

Here's my Friday Five:

1. Marian Anderson - Go Down, Moses
2. Snow Patrol - How To Be Dead
3. Belle and Sebastian - Chickfactor
4. Morrisey- Let Me Kiss You
5. Biyouna- Tu es ma vie


There Are 14 Defining Characteristics of Fascism

Want to know what the 14 are? Clickety click!

The fight for human rights is being waged in America's schools (free registration required). I hate it when they use the term "culture wars", as if this was about behaviour and habit, rather than real human beings whose lives are constantly under threat - from homophobes, from their own government, and now the judiciary as well. The Democrat's cowardly roll-over on the filibuster has allowed 3 virulently anti-gay judicial nominees to be confirmed with no end to the madness in sight. War? More like extermination to me...


Thursday, June 9




"But I don't want a lover/ I just wanted to be tied to the back of your car" - The Smiths, "You've Got Everything Now"


Ever since the Madwoman posted about political chickens coming home to roost, I have been wondering about what it is in the Kenyan/human psyche that makes our apathy possible. I've since come to the conclusion that the only way to explain this phenomenon is to realise that we allow it to happen: we want to have tyrants, incompetents, brutes lording it over us.

We want the very things we complain so loudly, and at such great length about.

This conclusion is by no means new, I must nod to Antonio Gramsci, Italian Communist, and long-term guest at Mussolini's Hospitality Inn, who wrote in his prison diaries that the only way to explain fascist regimes like the one in Italy, was that the people had been seduced/persuaded/convinced to support a regime that was extremely bad for them - nay, thrived on stomping on "the people" with hobnailed boots (what's a hobnail?).

A recent book I read called Nietzsche Corps/e would like to lay the blame squarely at the mustachioed German's errrr straitjacket. As part of his larger strategy of recovering Marxist critique from the perceived end of Marxism and Communism after the fall of the Berlin Wall, he posits that Nietzsche's theories are quite frankly the enemy of everything that the revolution is working for.

Rather than the democratic, egalitarian society that would succeed the capitalist state,
Nietzsche seeks to install a masculinist autarchy of overmen, who would replace the slavish, herdish masses of all too human humans. Indeed, the appearance of the overman signals the end of humanity in it's snivelling, whining, distracted, life hating, heaven loving state. Nietzsche's fantasy man, is in a word, fascist.

Coded in his works, is his esoteric agenda of bringing about the appearance of the overman, and Waite makes much of the distinction between the esoteric and the exoteric, but only in the breathless tone of the spotty teenage who uncovers his father's stash of Playboy/girl in cupboard. Waite takes any usage of esoteric/coded speech or writing to be proof positive of sinister intention.

There are two points I would like to take exception to; 1) the characterisation of the esoteric as sinister - thinking of Satanic cults and human sacrifice perhaps? 2) self mastery as inimical to the leftist project and humanity as a whole.

Waite clearly has little exposure to the esoteric outside of Western thought. Even a cursory glance at Buddhist texts would reveal new depths (pun intended) to the concept of esotericism. The first being that the esoteric, rather than being mysterious, hidden, secret and veiled, is instead what is the most plain, obvious and available to the eye! The best place to hid something is in plain view, and the esoteric is similarly available and public, as long as one knows what they are looking at/for. A cogent case in point is the recent hit The Da Vinci Code, whose central thesis is that clues to Jesus's marriage, etc., have been placed in the most public, studied, scrutinised artworks in recent history - all in plain view.

A quick review of the writings of Kukai would reveal that the esoteric Buddhist teachings (subject of my soon-to-be-completed thesis) are actually being revealed to us all the time, by the world around us - the universe is speaking the "secret" in us, through us, next to us, around us, all the time, and we know it, even if we don't know that we know it. The esoteric teachings/rituals/ books, etc, are not to uncover, or display what is hidden, but rather to bring out what we already know, see, hear, touch, taste...

The "bringing forth" of what we already know, through esoteric practice and meditation, etc, is also a transformation of being. A transvaluation if you will, that reorients the self to itself and the world, that now speaks in a different register, because the self now has knowledge of itself and other that was not apparent and immediate beforehand. In essence, the self masters itself. As Dogen puts it, "The entire world of the ten directions is nothing but the true human body", meaning (among other things) that in mastering oneself, one has mastered everything. Indeed, the "goal" of Zen practice (if I may make such a crass statement as "goal") is to realise the self in all senses of the word.

I think that a large part of the critique of Nietzsche's proleptic goal of self mastery is fuelled by an inadequate understanding of mastery that equates it with narcissism and power. There are other models of self mastery in Buddhism that have opposite effects, and in fact suggest that once one has truly mastered the self, the narcissism, desire for domination, brutality, etc that are associated with self mastery in the West do not and cannot arise.

I do not have the space (or indeed the energy) to develop this thought properly, but in brief, self mastery closes off all the nasty bits....

I will also state the Waite inadequately treats the subject of Nietzsche's homosexuality, which has much to do with the masculinist imagery in Thus Spake Zarathustra for example, and may indeed change much of the perception of his work. In the end, all Nietzsche may have wanted was for one of the nubile Italian fishermen to tie him to the bed :-)

In the end, I think that fascism is not natural to the human species, following Deleuze and Guattari, I think it's the excess of capitalist schizophrenia, the ghost that haunts the edges of our supposedly democratic society. Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are supposed to be somehow part of human nature, but what if the forces that make such a supposition possible also induce fascistic tendencies in us as well?




Tuesday, June 7

F DUBYA!

No,I'm not just being rude, see?



Anyone have $5000 lying around that we can spend on a license plate no-one will ever see on your car?

I did have a post all planned out about medical technology as one more technique of biopower, how blood tests, skin swabs, immunizations just serve to further delineate healthy and unhealthy populations.

However, it is much too hot and steamy to be talking about biopower, or articulating how university decisions about the presumed health status of its international student body keep the very hierarchies of privilege and normalcy that they claim to be undermining.

I will only say that being forced to undergo a TB skin puncture test, even in the face of documentation that one has been immunized, has never had the disease, or even been exposed to it, really makes one feel like a sore-ridden, sewer encrusted, plague carrying, ship stowing rat.

And that's all I have to say about that.

Coming on a day when Il Papa reiterates his hatred for gays, gay rights, and gay marriage everywhere, it makes me want to bury my head in a bowl of icecream.



(Image courtesy of Towleroad)


Well, since this is symptomatic of global anarchy, maybe I should be tossing scoops of icecream out my window into the street below, and screaming "Down with authority!!!"

On second thoughts, that's a waste of good icecream..


Monday, June 6

I wish they would give colourful bandages to adults...

I could have done with a Flintstones band-aid today. Been poked, prodded, directed, mis-directed and re-directed, peed in a cup, had my precious sangre dribbled into plastic tubes, and all for what? 20 hours a week, $10 an hour.

Yippee!

I am also tired, and will have to post at length tomorrow.

I leave you with a short meditation on doubles, doubling, and dopplegangers. Courtesy of what was (until the guy that voiced Capt. Murphy died - sigh) the best cartoon show ever. Sealab 2021.





In other news, I hear someone is doubting my kung-fu....


Saturday, June 4

Heroes and Villains

Like many last-borns, my childhood was filled with hand-me-downs; clothes, toys, shoes, beds, and books. Lots and lots of books. In fact, the whole house was filled with books, shelves upon shelves of them, with everything from the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew to dry business texts and settler accounts of the Congo. I spent countless hours browsing through the shelves, and peering into dusty cabinet corners, trying to find the holy grail, a book that I had not read 20 times already.

My mum says I started to read early. I used to pester my siblings to read to me so often, that to get me to shut up and leave them alone they taught me how to read. By age 4 or so, I was happily reading on my own, and the household breathed a heavy sigh of relief. Reading soon became a way for me to escape my own limitations - my lack of friends in the neighbourhood, my nagging sister, my persistent asthma, and books became closer to me than my family almost. I could always rely on books to take me away from it all, show me things that stoked the fires of my imagination, and could leave me feeling happy, or melancholy, or just in awe of what was possible. I soon had a mental catalogue of what books to read to suit my mood; WW II jungle stories when I was mad, Asterix to cheer me up, Steven King when I was pensive, Beano when I was in a silly mood..My books were my nearest and dearest, and I learned to not just read a book, I learned to ingest them, to fold in the paper and ink and glue into my being, hold them next to my heart, feeling the boundaries of the book, taking the words and pasting them over my bones. I learned to inhale books, to read at blinding speed, devouring hundreds of pages at a time, fingers flipping the pages furiously, until the end, when I would sit back with a sigh, and turn to the first page to dive in once more...

One day, I found a small stash of browning comic books from the 70's, and at the bottom was a Spiderman comic. Spiderman was more to my liking as a superhero, I found Superman boring, because he had no weaknesses to speak of, and I just couldn't relate to someone like that. I may have sought escape from my own reality, but Superman was just too much to swallow, I wanted to believe that I could rise above my pudgy self, like Batman - strong, silent, conflicted, but ultimately, human. I digress, because the real treasure I found in the comic was Doctor Doom.

Ah Dr Doom.



Something about him appealed very strongly to me, as I eagerly read the thin, yellowing pages. His genius, his wit, and ultimately the tragedy of his story made me identify so strongly with him. As "the smart kid" at school, I felt isolated by all the knowledge I had accumulated through reading - no matter how much I read, it didn't really help me get along with the other kids at school. I felt Doom's pain keenly, and I wanted so badly to have a suit like his, and pound the dumb but popular kids at school into dust. They would regret their miserable, stupid lives when confronted with the full force of my intellect!!
I could never understand why my skills counted for less than Nicholas's soccer skills, or Jasdeep's killer hockey flick, and I wanted to make them taste the bitter ashes of regret like I had, so often.

Doom was my anti-hero, the geek who gets his revenge, who would stand up for all those who were teased for being smart, or for knowing all the answers to teacher's questions. For everyone who valued a book over a soccer ball, for all the pansies, the weaklings, the nerds, the socially inept, he would wreak a horrible vengeance.

God I hope they do a good job with him in the F4 movie...


Friday, June 3

Freaky Friday


Soldiers of Christ II (Harpers.org)

This is some crazy, crazy shit..

Under Christian dominion, America will no longer be a sinful and fallen nation but one in which the Ten Commandments form the basis of our legal system, Creationism and “Christian values” form the basis of our educational system, and the media and the government proclaim the Good News to one and all. Aside from its proselytizing mandate, the federal government will be reduced to the protection of property rights and “homeland” security.[1] Some Dominionists (not all of whom accept the label, at least not publicly) would further require all citizens to pay “tithes” to church organizations empowered by the government to run our social-welfare agencies, and a number of influential figures advocate the death penalty for a host of “moral crimes,” including apostasy, blasphemy, sodomy, and witchcraft. The only legitimate voices in this state will be Christian. All others will be silenced.


To think that I may live next to, share the same air with, or even have taught one of these fanatical people gives me a severe case of the creeps. Execution for "moral crimes"? Give me a break!

What scares me most is that the people and culture that inspires this kind of blind hatred, is the very same that is behind (at least ideologically) the burgeoning evangelical movement in Kenya. The 700 Club, Rod Parsley, Focus on the Family, and other programs are regularly shown on television stations back home, where this sort of propaganda is passed off as religious discourse. It disturbs me most because when push comes to shove, these rich powerful white "christians" would not hesitate to sell out their black "brothers and sisters" if it meant hanging to their power and authority for one more day.

I mean, these are people who believe that the tsunami was God's judgement on gay holidaymakers in Sri Lanka, Thailand, etc...and Pat Robertson has still not apologised for claiming that 9/11 was God's judgement on America for legalized abortion, separation of church and state and homosexuality. These people are toxic!

How can they claim to represent the Jesus of the New Testament? The one who welcomed all persons; tax collectors, prostitutes, lepers, children to his arms? How does peace, love and understanding get turned into self righteousness and holy hate?

I don't get it. I just don't get it.

For more on this Christo-fascism go here


Thursday, June 2

That's The End...

I'm so relieved that today's the end of my teaching for the spring. I can say goodbye to my 24 students, and "relax" for the summer. No more lesson planning, no more grading, no more second guessing myself, no more awkward silences in class as my students stubbornly refuse to answer my questions...

Teaching has been hard this year, and now that I look back on it, it's been hard the whole school year. I was really unprepared to teach a class on my own, particularly a class that is not directly related to my research interests. I mean, I know how to write, I know what works well in a paper and what doesn't, but that does not mean that I know how best to communicate those skills to students. Furthermore, the focus of the class is unclear, is it simply to teach writing skills, or to provide students with critical thinking skills? The official answer would be both! Impossible to do both in just 10 weeks. You will either produce better writers, or better thinkers in such a short period of time, not both.

That, however, is what I have been trying to do all year. Produce better writers and better thinkers...no wonder I am exhausted!

It just goes to show that my department does not really care to fit its students more directly to their research interests. At the least, it seems they don't care about fitting me with a class that I can really teach. Case in point is the teaching assignment for the fall quarter. I am stuck TA'ing for an introductory 100 level general humanities course, whereas I would much rather be in a religion course, or quite frankly, a philosophy course - after all, it was only my goddamn major!

Now I made my preferences very very clear some time ago as to what I wished to teach in the fall, and it's now apparent that no-one was listening. Students with no seniority get the assignment that I wanted, and I'm stuck with teaching the intro course, or going back to teaching that schizo-writing course.. Not much of a choice, is it? Yet, I remember the official line being that students with seniority get their pick of what to teach...The summer teaching jobs? Gone, without so much as a "Oh, by the way, would you like to..?"

Suddenly, I am very aware of "my place" in this department. An awareness only sharpened by a recent email;

Subject: access to main office
Date: Tue, 31 May 2005 10:40:35 -0400

Hello All,
I understand that some of you or all of you have the access code to the
main office. I believe that some of our faculty gave out the number not
knowing the department policy. Since it is our departmental policy not to
give students and lecturer's access to the main office after hours I have
deleted the code you have. If you need in the main office please be sure
to do so before 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday. If you have any questions
please contact me.
Thank you.
XXXXX



How snarky is that? I'm even more irked now because I was not given the code...

So what can I do? I feel taken for granted here, and yet, I need the money to pay bills and buy luxuries like food and underwear...Am I just being paranoid, or is there really an attitude of "Oh, he'll do anything, just give it to him"? Or am I not sufficiently "American" in my attitude and not pushing hard enough to get the things that I want, or deserve?


Wednesday, June 1

Madaraka Day Special

Oh la la Paris has some verrrry nice pictures of Gael Garcia Bernal from the movie La Mala Educacion, which if you haven't seen yet, you should rush out to see. If only for this scene with the mucho caliente actor.

Well, truth be told, both he and Fele Martinez are sex on a stick....

Looks like the Iranians are following the Chinese model when it comes to speech over the internet.

New report from Behind The Mask on new trends in the Kenyan gay scene (what passes for one, at least. A "gay" club right by University of Nairobi? They must means Simmers or something like that. Needless to say, something to check out when I go home next. With this report, the new book out on homosexuality in Kenya, and the recent surge fairly sympathetic articles in the press, can a sea change be in the wind? Thanks Rod


Tuesday, May 31

Sex and the Second City: Secluded Places

Oooh boy...


Monday, May 30

Tagged!

Looks like I'm "it" so here goes.. Thanks for the warm welcome(s) Mama Junkyard!


Total number of films I own on DVD and video

Mmm, this is an easy one. I only have 2 DVDs that I can call my own at the moment, simply because I feel such strong buyer's regret whenever I do purchase something! Compound that with the fact that I can borrow movies from the public library at any time, and I subscribe to Netflix, and you come to the inevitable conclusion. I'm cheap as all hell. :-)


The last film I watched

The last movie I saw at the cinema was Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith. A great improvement over the last 2 films, and arguably an improvement over Return of the Jedi and those indescribably creepy, furry Ewoks. The Ewoks cartoon they used to show on KBC was much less creepy, even enjoyable in parts, maybe because I can deal with weird things in cartoons more easily...

Last movie I saw on TV was Bubble Boy. I do love that Jake Gyllenhaal something fierce. Not the best demonstration of his acting range, but he does give a very warm and emotive performance that arguably carries the whole movie. Hard to do in a large latex bubble.

Last movie I rented/ borrowed was Kill Bill volume 2. If there ever was such a thing as an instant classic, this would be it. Swords, blood,
plucked eyes, live burial and all....


Five films I watch alot, or that mean a lot to me

Kaze no tani no Naushika

How do I begin to say what this movie means to me? I saw it for the first time when I was 7 or 8 years old. I had asked my parents to get some cartoons for me from the video place at Sarit in Westlands. What was it called again? Anyway. Usually it would be a mish mash of classics like Bugs Bunny, Popeye (yechh), some 80s fare like Transformers, and the like, and I expected it would be much the same. This time, it was an entire movie, and I didn't know what to expect. It must have been a Friday night because Mum had made fish and chips, and she always made fish and chips on Friday night even though we weren't Catholic. So after dinner I settled down on the livingroom floor to watch the movie, and from the opening credits, I was hooked. There was something about the colour, pacing, storyline and music that just worked a spell on me that hasn't faded over the years. That movie made me cry, it made me hope, it made me happy, it made me melancholy, and quite frankly, it changed my life. It showed me another world of imagination, emotion and being that seeped right into my bones. I could never look out on the world again without seeing it through new eyes, and for that, I am grateful to whoever dubbed that movie...
Needless to say, I've been an anime fan ever since.


Donnie Darko

Hard to believe, but he did this film in the same year that he did Bubble Boy. Those roles could not be farther apart. This movie is impossible to summarize in a paragraph, and I doubt 20 pages would get much further, it has to be seen to be experienced. Jake Gyllenhaal plays the main character, Donnie Darko, a high schooler with a talent for drawing, a penchant for sleepwalking, and just maybe, is a paranoid schizophrenic. Or is he? If you love movies that make you think, this is the one for you...


Shichinin no Samurai

Kurosawa Akira at his very best. Seven samurai are hired to defend a village from bandits, that at least is the main story arc, but much much more happens over the course of the movie. Much of the movie is driven by Mifune Toshiro's excellent performance, but Kurosawa's eye for colour, sense of drama and exquisite pacing complete this excellent package. If you see one scene in this movie, see the one where Kyuzo reluctantly fights a challenger... His later work Kakushi toride no san akunin, inspired George Lucas to make Star Wars: A New Hope, and is a thoroughly entertaining movie as well.


Matrix Revolutions

The most philosophical movie of the trilogy, and oddly enough, the most Buddhist. The idea of a reincarnating salvific figure, cycles of world history, the potential for individuals to liberate themselves, are all very deeply Buddhist. I know the Wachowski brothers publicly speak about Gnostic influences for the trilogy, but I think the Buddhist resonance is much stronger. Besides, I'm a sucker for the "little-girl-as-saviour/destroyer-of-the-world" trope.


Kill Bill

Don't mess with women. Do a woman wrong, and she will wreak terrible vengeance on all those who stand in her way. No portrayals of her as weak, emotional, needy, man-hungry, stupid, "blonde" or any of the not-so-subtle messages that women are bombarded with these days. In a moment of crisis she reaches for her blade, not a hanky... :-)


Tag five people and have them put this in their journal

This could be difficult, seeing as I'm so new... I have no choice but to tag at random! Cirdan the Shipwright , Mshairi, delusions of grandeur, Thinker's Room, My-Own-Private-Mews

Phew! After all that, I think I need a nap...


Friday, May 27

Senate panel considers apology to American Indians - Yahoo! News

And about time it passes too....How many times does this measure need to be brought before Congress before it passes?

I'm not that surprised. After all, the British have never apologized for colonialism in Africa, let alone for the misery and suffering they inflicted on Kenyans at places like Manyani, or during times like the Emergency, when millions of Kenyans were either in detention, or just released. I tried reading Imperial Reckoning by Carole Elkins but I had to stop after just 30 or so pages because I couldn't take it. The accounts of the torture that these poor souls underwent at both Kenyan and British hands was just too much. How is it that human beings can be so cruel to one another? Does it take that little for our empathy and human feelings to be turned off?

The North has much to apologize for. This is just a start.

As always, Republic of T has a very thoughtful piece on this. Genocide? How could it be anything less? 30 million dead, lands occupied, people decimated, culture destroyed...

From the scientists that brought you phrenology, prejudice is now an evolutionary adaptation!

There's still some sense to be found in Texas...Thank you, Senfronia Thompson.

Oh the irony of looking to Germany for socially progressive politics. The leader of Germany's Liberals could head the next government.Oh, and he's gay. What will they call his boyfriend? First Partner? Heee.. :-)

Gaaa! My eyes! What happened to my eyes! I can't seeee!! Oh. Oh, shit..


Thursday, May 26

Netflix: Welcome To Netflix

I'm addicted to Netflix. Fast shipping, great movie selection, and best of all, I do not have to deal with real people at a real store. The fewer people I have to interact with on a daily basis, the happier I am (friends and family excluded of course).

My hatred for 'people' stems from the fact that 9 times out of 10, they turn out to be dumb, Republican, or both. They block you in the aisles, nearly run you over in the crosswalk, talk shrilly about Kenny Chesney concerts, plaster their cars with "Support the Troops" stickers, never miss an episode of "Will and Grace" but vote against gay rights...

Unfortunately, I have to deal with my students twice a week *gag*, which doesn't help my people phobia at all. Netflix, however, does. That is why I love Netflix. And self-service anything.


I think I'm going to start posting here again. It's been too long since I've had the time or the will to vent. Perhaps joining the Kenyan Blogs Netring will get me off my ass :-)


Friday, December 17

It seems that you get what you wish for.

Last post I was bitchin and moaning about how my life seems to be stuck in a rut. Well, not 24 hours later, my apartment burns down. How do you like that?

I woke up at 2 in the am, to the shrieking of the smoke alarm. My first thought was that my bf had left something in the oven, or something on the stove like he does from time to time but when I opened the door, it was an inferno. Yellow flames licking up the front room, black greasy smoke everywhere, and all I could think about was grabbing my cellphone... Somehow, Justin got through to me and I called the fire department. They came not 5 minutes later and put the fire out. Thankfully no-one was hurt and the fire did not spread beyond our apartment. What a way to get what you wish for eh?

My Dad always said that the black spots on my tongue mean that I have the power to curse people, or put spells on them, but who would have thought that I would put one on myself? Don't these things have a failsafe feature? Or in my case, an idiot-proof feature? I'm scared to think or say anything now...


Friday, December 3

What A Difference A Year Makes

It's strange to think how much domesticity changes you.

I've lived with Justin for a year now, and boy do I wish we had a dishwasher (human or machine). It's funny how just a few plates and spoons seem to multiply into towering piles of dishes, into something else "to be done" when I get back from teaching or class. How is it that suddenly there is so much more to be cleaned up, floors to be swept, dust to be vacuumed now that there are 2 of us? I don't remember doing all this housework when I lived alone! Is there some unwritten law of cohabitation that automagically multiplies the mess and possessions when 2 people live together? Hmmm, I'd like to see that equation thank you very much. Hmmph

What's worse is I think I'm becoming a sober, responsible adult. Why? It's been months since I've thought of going out. Can you imagine? I don't even lurk here anymore to see who's playing when and where...Not till this afternoon when my brats handed in their papers and my quarter ended. Not till then did I think, mmmaybe I should go out. I feel like going out. When was the last time I went out. When did I go dancing last? Well, you know when? Last fucking year!

What's happening to me? I look at the archives and see all my impassioned posts from last year and think what died inside of me that quenched that fire? Was it ever there? Am I just posing or playing out a role for myself? What does that say about who I am?

I think this is all brought on because it's my birthday next week. 24 years old and in many ways my family still treats me like a child. Ah well...

I have such a fear of being boring but I think that's precisely what I have become.

Damn.


Thursday, December 2

My Linux Desktop


My Linux Desktop
Originally uploaded by green_mountain_walking.
Pretty pretty desktop...That's a shot of KDE 3.3, with my levitating robot wallpaper and running SuperKaramba on a MEPIS 2004.4 Debian system :-)


BRAVO > Project Runway

Mmmmmm...my new fave show! I needed a replacement for Manhunt, which quite frankly could have done with more nudity than just a single episode.

This show has it all; drama, glam, bitchiness and a generous dollop of sheer entertainment! Sure, modelling is fun, but how many times can you see a guy pose before you start to yawn? I'm rooting for Austin, not least for the fact that he plays the harpsichord! *glee* That corn husk dress took some balls to make, and I'm gald he pulled it off, shrinkage or no shrinkage. I'm even happier that Daniel, that prissy, shit for brains, cosmic nut got booted off. "I know what the judges want!" Yeah hun, they want your ass off the show! See ya!

Hehehehe...just in time for the end of quarter. I can't wait. This has been the quarter of hell, and lower and lower circles beckon until the summer. sigh. Least Justin and I get to spend a week in South Beach. :-)


Wednesday, December 1

TV 2 - The Julekalender

This has to be the funniest Christmas TV series I have ever seen. Sadly, it is in Danish. That is also it's greatest strength, because some a lot of the jokes do not translate into English very well. Or at all. Another note to TV execs, quit with the stupid remakes! I shudder to think of an NBC sitcom based on BBC's The Office for example...brrr...

The story has a comatose Santa, squabbling elves, a ditzy country farmwife named the Potato Woman, a downed elf-plane, sinister architecture loving vampire type person, a very cute dog and more singing and beer than 20 Oktoberfests. It's great. If you love me you would buy me the box set. And some beer.


BBC NEWS | Entertainment | TV and Radio | Hindu row over Coronation Street

Oooo..note to TV execs.....GET A FUCKING CLUE!


Certainly not work-safe, but striking nonethless

A link for World Aids Day. People around the world are dying, the AIDS fund for Africa is woefully underfunded, and 1/3 of what would be allocated is going to abstinence education.

Another stupid idea from a dangerously stupid and uncaring Bush administration. I mean please, how is preaching abstinence in the face of this pandemic in any way the Christian thing to do? HELP THEM NOW!!


Monday, November 29

Turn your GMail account into a virtual filesystem

I'm thinking about trying this one out, just for kicks. Not that I need more storage but for the cool factor :-) Prolly would give me +10 geek points ....hehehe..not that I need more proof. I'm already in graduate school, that counts for at least 200 geek points on my scale.

How cool is this by the way? I'm using it to brainstorm for my thesis and I love it. I can free associate and still think that I'm being productive :-) Once I'm through with my thesis I'll have all the bells and whistles mastered. How cool would it be to submit an entire thesis as a mindmap? Hahaha..I'd kill to see the greyhairs scratching their heads about that one!


Saturday, November 27

Iron Chef

I know I'm not the only person addicted to this show! It's just soooo good. Very cheesy, very dramatic, badly dubbed but still....so good! I can't believe that they are going to air an American version of the show. Who will they get to replace the Chairman? No-one can replace him! Just look at his outfits...his flair for the dramatic, and those bizarre ingredients! Some of this stuff you just can't get out of Japan. Really, when are TV execs going to realise that some shows you just cannot remake in America.

Coupling, anyone? Nuff said


Monday, September 20

Behold!

I want one ! I'm tired of forking over cash for developing photos when I can just be lazy and leave 'em to pixellate on my hard drive :-)

Turns out that internet access in Kenya is both slow and prohibitively expensive..I wasn't going to spend hours hunched over a monitor just so I could update this blog. Besides, did any of you really miss me? Uh huh, I thought so..

I wonder what it is I'm doing with my Fedora Core 1 installation to make it randomly "forget" services and settings that I've painstakingly setup and customised. First it refused to recognise my CD burner, despite the fact that it worked just great before I left (you gotta love K3b!) and then 10 minutes ago it conveniently stopped running samba and threw out my printer configuration! I had it all nicely set up to print to my bf's printer and now....grrr... I think I'll be booting more often to my Slackware 10 partition. There's just something weird about this FC1 partition that makes me think it's haunted...muahaha...


Thursday, June 24

Have You Been Counted?







Thursday, June 10


Now that the grades are posted, the final papers shuffled through and sorted, the last emails sent, I can wash my hands of that most horrible of teachers - Davis. I will not bother to eulogise him and that class further than this. He doesn't deserve it. My students did deserve better than that, and I can only hope that they obtained some satisfaction out of my section, and are gentle with their evaluations :) It's over! That means summer is here - icecream, sunburns, languid afternoons spent over a book, beach sand crusting around your ankles... before all that, I did promise an account of my recent migration to Linux.

Migration. I wonder why it is thought of in that way- migration; it conjures up images of catastrophe, of drought or war, or some natural inevitable directive, like the impulses that pull wildebeest across the Serengeti. It is an odd metaphor to use for such a mechanistic event, we think of migration in terms of nature do we not? Birds migrate, not computers! Still, migrate I did, though I fought the impulse to do so for quite some time.

I bought my first distribution off EBay in 2002. Looking back that was a strange thing to do - after all the GPL is all about the free distribution of information. I suppose I wanted some kind of structure, some thing that I could obtain this revolutionary OS from. It is hard to think of a complete operating system being available for free to anyone with an internet connection and time on their hands. It seems so...hackerish...so illegal...you got what off the internet??
Well, I tried to install it a couple of times, foolishly thinking that I could do so from within Windows..haha, how silly I was..of course it did not work so I shelved my Mandrake 9.0 CD's and continued to fight with Windows - blue screens, crashes, frequent reboots, programs freezing..well, you know what it's like I am sure. All the while wishing that I could just screw up the guts to just jump over to the dark side...the penguin side..hehehe...

Fast forward a couple of years to around March when I fix my bf's computer just in time to prevent some nasty territorial disputes around the 'puter - we both use the computer heavily, him to browse his favourite lefty sites and plot GW's overthrow and I because the computer is my life; music, movies, games, work, you name it I do it on my computer.

Flush with that success, I decide that now is the time to make my move. I do my research on sites like Distrowatch, Linux Forums and many many others and I pick Slackware as my distribution of choice; fast, stable and most importantly, not Windows! I picked Slackware on the strength of the Slax live CD which runs right off your CD-ROM drive, loads itself into your system RAM and doesn't touch your OS or HD at all. It's basically a whole OS that runs off a single CD - marvellous. Well I ran Slax for a couple of weeks and loved it, the look and feel of KDE, the security from pop-ups and nasty spyware and adware and the fact that it detected and configured all my hardware correctly. So I figured, what the hell! I'll give the real deal a spin.

I did not realise that Slackware was not the faint of heart...it uses the command line heavily for all configuration, tweaking and generally all customisation that you'll need to do to get it running to your liking. Needless to say, I was not anywhere near ready for that kind of heavy, non-GUI using work. I did however manage to compile a kernel all by my lonesome, rassled extensively with LILO (and hated it to death) and began to realise that a dual-boot configuration was not going to work. Why? Basically, my Windows HD partition table was fucked up by Partition Magic 8, the Windows MBR was overwritten by LILO and I had no idea how to recover it. Panic!! All my files were still on my Windows HD - years and years of mp3's, documents, programs all suddenly inacessible, including the paper I was working on that was due in a couple of days. I was in despair...until I began to google a bit and realised that I could mount my windows HD from a live CD, read my files and salvage my paper...yay!

Sick of Slackware, I formatted the partitions on my second HD and after much searching, I settled on Fedora Core 1. I fell in love from the moment I saw the lovely graphical anaconda installer and we have been a happy couple for almost a month now. Last week I wanted to gve SuSE 9.1 a try, and I formatted my windows HD completely and installed SuSe right over it. I don't like SuSe 9.1 too much, it looks and feels too much like Windows, much of the config is done auto-magically and after Fedora Core 1 I miss the control. What I don't miss is windows..once I transferred my files to my bigger HD I had no more need for Windows. I think I will use my former windows HD to try out other distributions but for me, this is it! No more windows...I'm freeee!

Next week, the bf and I are going down to spend a week at his parent's house on Hilton Head. Sun, sea, sand and some well earned relaxation. I can't wait.