Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Sleepless in Sudan

Just read the blog of Sleepless in Sudan - really awesome. http://sleeplessinsudan.blogspot.com/

Although I've been dreading this mission since we suddenly got our visa at the last minute (hurray?), now I'm actually excited to go. Darfur is mystifying and horrible. Last time, I was so overwhelmed by my anger at the 'international community" and their inability to do anything to stop the violence that I ranted and raved for pages upon pages in my diary (which was saved on Mamie's computer and since she left, I no longer have access to). Probably for the best since it's depressing reading.

While I'll not be able to match the pure passion of "Sleepless", I'll do my best while I'm there.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Fashionably Political?

There's a new singer that I like, MIA. She's a Sri Lankan dancehall/grime/hiphop artist who's about 23. Her song Gangalang and SunShowers are catchy and fun but she's stirring up a ruckus in the UK. Her dad is in the LTTE and she's a Tamil. Since I was in Sri Lanka, I feel particulary interested in the Tamil Tigers. In general, I have a fascination with leftist revolutionary movements - I majored in Soviet Studies in undergrad. Sendero Luminoso, Khmer Rouge, the IRA, the Maoists in Nepal, the Zapatistas, FMLN, Sandinistas, Tupac Amaru, the Anarchists in Spain, the Catholic Workers movements...However, how does one get behind a movement that recruits children to fight its wars and pioneered suicide bombing? However, when I see the poverty in the Vanni as compared to the lush relatively rich South and I read about the riots in the 80s, I have a certain amount of sympathy for the idea of Tamil Eelam. Since the prime minister won the recent election (after aligning himself with the marxist buddhist JVP - Sinhalese chauvinists), there's a good chance they'll go back to war. And that saddens me. Although I like the idea of a revolutionary movement and their stated equality for the sexes, when I read about the difficulties that the former combatants have in trying to regain their lives, I can't allow myself to be blinded by the ideology. Yes, there is a certain seductive allure to it - but it helps to be reminded of the sheer brutality of it all. Assassinations of those who disagree with you. Forced abductions of fifteen year olds who are disappeared from their families and taken back into the jungle to be brainwashed. Complete and utter control within the family structure. "Give one child to the struggle." The photo albums of massacred Tamils on the living room table in the LTTE office of the "Peace Secretariat".

But just because you like an artist who uses the Tiger symbols in her concerts, does that mean you are supporting the movement? After all I liked Sandinista Rock in the 80s and knew nothing about the US role in Central America. I'm a socialist and love Social Realism but am opposed to the Stalinist purges of the Soviet Union. I like the Che Guevera tee shirt but am appalled by fact that the women in Cuba have to work as prostitutes for european and american tourists to make a living. Fashion and politics. To be politically fashionable or fashionably political?

Monday, November 14, 2005

Vanity, Vanity, thy name is Sarah

I've developed a disturbing new habit. I'm addicted to googling myself. I've long been addicted to email but now its gotten worse. When I'm bored, I start cruising around on the web. When I'm through reading gawker.com, wonkette.com, defamer.com, salon.com, slate.com - I turn to Google.

The problem is, I have a really really common name. Check it out for yourself. In order to find myself, I have to add a modifier such as "sex". Now you might ask, Sex? Are you secretly a porno star? Nothing that exciting. I wrote a report about sexual exploitation by UN peacekeepers so that's been picked up all over the net. I don't know why I picked up this habit - noone who actually knows me could find me on the web or would know its me because my name is so ubiquitous.

But secretly it amuses me that you have to type in the word sex to find me. What does that mean? Am I a sex addict? A pervert? A sex fiend? I've been going around the UN meeting with military advisors for the UN and talking to them about my report. I feel like its that old Far Side cartoon "what dogs hear" (blah blah blah ginger, blah blah ginger) - all they hear is "blah blah blah sex, blah sex blah blah blah sex sex sex". This was confirmed to me when I visited the Nepali military attache. As I left his office after an hour interview - he put his arm around my waist and tickled me! I guess he thought we had just spent a nice hour talking about sex.