If You Ever Change Your Mind

July 27, 2009

Thank you Tim Ryan and Rosa DeLauro for this beautiful bill.

So now, after my previous post, I’ve read this NYTimes article about politicians finding common ground regarding abortion. If these talks are true, and these promises are sincere, I think I’d be a bit more open-minded to universal health care. It makes me feel better to see our Congress folk work together to make the best health care reform possible. I mean, working together should naturally be part of the process, and I’m sure there’s plenty of dirty bargaining going on, but I really think this bill is a great step towards a comprehensive and accessible health care plan.

I appreciate the seemingly lack of abortion terms in the bill. The pro-choice supporters receive increased birth control options, and the anti-choice supporters receive increased adoption options. I love that abortion does not appear in the bill. It could be because abortion seems to be a sate-by-state issue. It could also be because our Congress folk understand that the abortion debate shouldn’t be about abortion and defining life. The abortion discussion should be about accessible and affordable options.

Limiting options should never appear to be the best choice. Bravo, Congressman Mr. Ryan, Congresswoman Ms. DeLauro, and all other Congress folk for writing this bill. You have restored some of my faith in our government. Now to convince people that abstinence education is, in fact, not the best idea…

It’s a Raggy Waltz

July 25, 2009

A few days ago, I tweeted/twatted my thoughts on universal health care. Don’t get me wrong – I support the idea of affordable, encompassing health care for all. Accessible health care is absolutely a human right. But I don’t trust the U.S. government to establish and maintain a responsible health care program. And my number one reason is why the article I posted was written: maternal and reproductive health care will be at risk.
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The Bible Didn’t Mention Us (or did it?)

July 23, 2009

I recently read this article by Fatemeh Fakhraei about how Muslim women appear to be treated by some (radical?) feminists. It seems that some people in the U.S. assume Muslim women can’t or don’t speak for themselves. While I was taking an International Human Rights Law course at the American University in Cairo (because I’m sooo worldly and such), I read this great article by Madhavi Sunder titled Piercing the Veil. The whole document is great, but since it’s 75 pages, I will extract my few points. (The greater scope of her article addresses and critiques CEDAW and human rights law in regards to religious practices and vice versa.)
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You Took the Word and Made it Heard

July 20, 2009

It always surprises me when government offices sponsor arts education. It’s unfortunate that some believe arts are an extraneous privilege, rather than a necessity in public education. I wanted to compare the Alameda County Alliance for Arts Learning Leadership with a non-profit organization I’ve worked with for years called Art in Action. The Alliance is a network of volunteers, activists, teachers, and parents who want to put arts back in the schools in Alameda County (link to my old school district). Art in Action is a great non-profit that supplies (mostly but not exclusively) Bay Area K-8 schools with art history lessons, art projects, and art supplies. After I started writing, I realized that I don’t know enough about the Alliance to make a sufficient comparison; as a result, I will save that for a rainy day. I do, however, want to tell you about my critiques and criticisms of AiA, and why the art education they supply is some of the best you can get. (I’ve been there. Literally been there, at Art in Action.)
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Pocket Poem

July 16, 2009

In case you were wondering, the title of the about me section (What I Wanted This To Say) comes from a Ted Kooser poem titled “Pocket Poem.” I read it again just now, and I wanted to share it.

If this comes creased and creased again and soiled
as if I’d opened it a thousand times
to see if what I’d written here was right,
it’s all because I looked too long for you
to put in your pocket. Midnight says
the little gifts of loneliness come wrapped
by nervous fingers. What I wanted this
to say was that I want to be so close
that when you find it, it is warm from me.

Take On All Eight

July 14, 2009

I read this post on the TakePart blog about Iranian films. (I would say the first list is much better than the second list, but I’m responding to the second.) I’ve had this discussion with multiple parties regarding film and cultural relevance. Foreign films that make it into Sundance or Cannes or any major cinema usually address political and social issues from within the country of origin. For example, Persepolis is based on a graphic novel released in the States and eventually became a feature film. While I haven’t seen it – and I’m sure it’s a great film – it isn’t the only thing Iranians have to talk about. I’ve always been hyper-aware of these issues (aka the “guilty liberal” complex), and I feel this is a great space for me to vent my concerns.

Take the film Taste of Cherry. It’s a beautiful film by Abbas Kiarostami about a man who believes his life isn’t worth living, and the people he meets the day before he decides to kill himself. And while this film’s underlying message may be about the oppressive Iranian government, it is, above all, about human connections and our love of life. Yes, you may argue that this is what most films are about (human connections, love, commonalities, pain…), Taste of Cherry seems to be the reverse of the films Goldstein lists: Kiarostami puts these commonalities above political messages.

Another example is The House is Black, which is regarded as one of the greatest Iranian films, if not the greatest influence on Iranian New Wave. Forough Farrokhzad, a well-known Iranian poet, produced a black-and-white short film about a leper colony in Iran. There are two great things about this film: 1) the only narration is her recitation of poems; and 2) all the footage is from less than two weeks in the colony (I don’t remember the exact time frame, but it was definitely filmed in under a month). This film is about the universal issue of leprosy and how we, as an international community, treat lepers. Yes, there are definitely underlying religious and political comments, but the main messages of the film are about the miraculous decay and beauty that is human life.

And if you get the chance, hit up the Iranian Film Festival. It looks like there will be some incredible films playing, and I’m disappointed it won’t be in New York. In fact, you should take every chance you can to watch foreign films that aren’t critically acclaimed by Ebert and Roeper or Sundance. If you really want to know what people have to say from oppressive countries or whatever, look at their comedies and dramas that don’t have clear political messages. Usually they’re the most effective as saying what needs to be said.

Worthy of Survival

July 9, 2009

I’ve decided to make another list. This one is called “things I love about being home in the Bay Area”:

1. It smells good. I walked off the plane and it smelled like toast. I kid you not. And then when I got home, it smelled like trees and fresh air – something that is not too common in New York. In fact, nothing really smells like the Bay.
2. Pho restaurants. I have my favorite pho place on the Bowery, but I have yet to find a pho restaurant as awesome as the places here. At home, they’re not as rushed. And the restaurants are just more open and spacious. Same number of tables, but more spacious. It could be because there’s no space to expand in the city.
3. Avocados. I haven’t gone to Jeffrey’s yet, but I will. Oh…I will. And I will consume an avocado burger like it’s my job. And other fruits and vegetables, too. It’s all just better and fresher and juicier here.
4. La Victoria. Their orange sauce has crack in it. I know at least 5 people who would swear by that statement. It’s so tasty and so awesome and so addictive.
5. The water. It seems kind of weird, but I just filled a glass from the tap, and it tastes like nothing. Like air. Recently I’ve had the feeling that New York water is starting to get that chlorine flavor like in Egypt.
6. The weather and the beaches. It’s not #6 because I forgot or think it’s less important. It’s just really, really obvious that the weather and the beaches here are awesome.
7. Everything smells really good. See #1.
8. I love my family. Again, it’s not #8 because I forgot or think they’re less important. It’s just really, really obvious that they’re awesome.
9. In-N-Out burger. It’s tasty.
10. Everything smells fantastic. See #7.

There’s plenty more, but I’m tired. I just wanted to make sure you knew that I love being home, and if you get a chance, you should come here.