"Africa is, indeed, coming into fashion." - Horace Walpole (1774)


this & that

  • A federal judge has ruled that victims of South Africa's apartheid system can sue corporations that are accused of having been directly involved in supporting the regime's suppression of the country's black majority. Those companies include IBM, Daimler, Ford, and General Motors. Perhaps you've heard of them?
  • Nothing like a little latent racism to get blood pressures up over at the Texas Legislature. Bless her heart, Representative Betty Brown apparently thinks that Asian-Americans aren't like the rest of us, and she let a few words slip that were all but of the "your people" variety. Brown's spokesperson says it wasn't racism, that she was just dealing with the issue of transliterated names in voter ID issues. And I believe that Rep. Brown doesn't think she said anything inappropriate. Problem is, it's horribly insensitive to suggest that one group of Americans aren't "really" Americans and that they need to change something as basic as their names in order to make things easier for the rest of us.
  • The best part of the whole thing? The guy testifying is somebody I know! Ramey Ko is a graduate of Yale and the University of Chicago law school. Check out how well he kept his composure while answering Brown's questions; Ramey is a super-smart guy and sees this as an opportunity to educate. Rep. Brown also apologized to him.

  • Soft power is back, baby. Here's hoping that an increased military role in delivering humanitarian aid doesn't mean that aid workers will be confused for military personnel. I wouldn't hold my breath and will eventually get around to talking about a talk I heard on this very issue the other night.
  • My friend Jonny has a very interesting proposal for what to do with Jerusalem in an Israel-Palestine settlement.
  • I have a post up over at Inspired to Action on the Run for Compassion, coming up in Bryan/College Station on April 18.


    Blogger David McCullars said...

    The real root the whole voter identification problem isn't transliterated Asian names or racist representatives (and for the record I don't get the sense that her argument came from racism but simply from not being overly bright). The problem is that in this country is is possible (and oh too likely) to obtain several different forms of identification that can all have different forms of your name and likewise with the voter registration process. In the database world (where I spend a lot of time professionally), this is solved by proper normalization. In today's world of information technology, it is nothing short of embarrassing that the US doesn't have a nationalized identification program from which all other forms of identification (driver's license, SS, IRS, voter, etc) are synchronized.

    Friday, April 10, 2009 6:04:00 PM

    Anonymous kirstin said...

    That was a frustrating video to watch. She didn't seem overly bright, I agree with the poster above, but she also didn't seem to have much patience for the issue. Your friend handled himself pretty well.

    In our office we are always coming up on problems with the way refugees, especially, have their names written on documents when they come into the country. Siblings who are given different last names (ex: ShakhBandarova, ShakhPandarova, ShakhMandarova) and people whose first names are written as their last names and last as first are the two most common problems I've seen.

    Friday, April 10, 2009 6:24:00 PM

    Anonymous Michael Westmoreland-White said...

    The entire "voter identification" cause so loved by Republicans is a blatant attempt at voter repression. There are very few cases of genuine voter fraud. (Voter registration fraud, perpetuated on those who register voters, is more common. But Mickey Mouse doesn't actually show up to vote.) This is our generation's version of grandfather clauses, poll taxes, literacy tests (in which African Americans had to read and interpret the U.S. Constitution, but whites had to read at the level of "See Spot Run") and the like.
    The racism involved was shown here blatantly, but it is behind the whole movement.

    Friday, April 10, 2009 7:55:00 PM


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