Bourgeois Deviant

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Bad Sleep

For the first time in recent memory, I actually woke up from a bad dream. I don't recall the specifics, but thats not what is important as to why I write this now. What woke me up was the disquieting feeling that my country was unraveling and the world didn't care. In fact, it seemed like the world welcomed it.

Now dreams, direful or otherwise, are seemingly the subconscious mind's attempt to catalog the days events. Mrs. Deviant and BFD went out to see the Grands and left me to my own devices for the weekend. So, what's a 30 something father to do on a Friday night? Go on a news binge of course.

I watched and read a great deal of news content. The News Hour, Washington Week, NOW, TDS, and Bill Moyers. In addition, I read some news from the Times and Post. What stuck with me were George Tenet's book release and the ever brewing Attorney Generals' scandal. The latter was of particular interest to me as I was privy to a private email exchange earlier in the week that left deep impression on me. Though I have no permission to do so, I feel compelled to reprint a few excerpts. The identity of its generator(s) shall remain anonymous. What I viewed last night and the following are responsible for the dreams that woke me.

It is difficult for anyone who believes in truth, facts and government to make sense of this crowd [The Bush Administration] because they do not believe in any of those things. They believe in an ideology; and they have faith in that ideology. You know well the dangers of faith, in anything. Nothing else matters. Anything that does not conform to the ideology either gets warped until it does or ignored.

They are also arrogant: and were allowed to remain so during the 6 years the Republicans controlled Congress. There were no - understand what I said, NO - oversight hearings during all that time. Now, however, there are lots of oversight hearings. Now, the Constitutional system of checks and balances is starting to work. And now it is hard for this crowd to adjust their ideological world to a world where truth, facts and government are valued...

... Yes, it is sad and serious what has happened to the Justice Department. What kind of a statement is it when the President says that he has renewed confidence in the Attorney General "...because he has not committed any crime...."? What kind of a lesson is it when the Attorney General not only uses but abuses the time honored tactic for avoiding a perjury charge, i.e., " I don't remember/I have no recollection, etc."?

The Justice Department leadership has been captured by politicians who surround themselves with young, inexperienced, like-minded, :"baby ideologues", who graduated from Christian focused law schools. And [Gonzales] is right when he says he doesn't know who made various decisions. That is because no ONE person in that circle makes a decision. The circle does: and circles don't leave fingerprints or records. Why should they? It's not just to avoid indictment/impeachment. It's mostly about Group Think according to the ideology. If you are 'with us' fine: if not, you and your views don't count.

The career lawyers at the Department are just waiting it out. What else can they do? If they raise a public protest, they loose their jobs. They are not paid enough to be able to afford that.

On the decision to go to war that Tenet was, seemingly, an integral part of despite his recent and perhaps flaccid disavowal...

... No one in the Executive Branch - or their advisers - had any blood that would be exposed if we went to war. No one ( with one or two exceptions ) in the Congress did, either. Nor did most Americans. The fighting and dying would be done by those in our society who did not know how to register their views. Most of them had enough to do to make ends meet. Their lives, like those of their parents and grandparents, were ones in which they learned how to make the best of what happened TO them. They don't know how to make something ELSE happen to - much less FOR - them.

And why did the decision-makers in both active branches of our government let themselves decide to start a war based on a lie? Because it was the easy thing to do. People were still scared because of 9/11. And no one had the guts to tell the American people that there is no such thing as a risk free society: and that bad things happen not only elsewhere, but also here...

In closing and a statement I wholeheartedly believe to be true:

... Unless we start investing our own well being more closely with our political decisions, we are going to continue to decline as a Nation.

Other people should realize this and quickly.

Bill Moyers asked Jon Stewart if all of his work in examining and parodying the media has made him lose his innocence. His response was that he thought a person lost their innocence the day their first child is born. Not that I was unaware, uncaring or even innocent before, but since becoming a father nine months ago, the depth of my concern and worry about where our country is headed, the nation where my son will grow up, has increased many fold. By necessity, my innocence has become a thing of the past.

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Thursday, April 26, 2007

Idol Chatter

I can't believe that I am writing about American Idol, but I think I have to this one time. Last night, Fox Network broadcast an extended, star studded version of its weekly showcase of some genuine talent and America's truly bad taste (evidenced by the longevity of Sanjaya Malakar). Its purpose was to entertain and to fund raise for charitable causes such as fighting AIDS in Africa, helping Katrina survivors and providing better education to those in poorer parts of America to end illiteracy. All fine causes to donate to and, given the viewer-ship draw Idol has, a rather expedient cash cow for the respective charities.

All well and good. I was flipping to other things and just catching it on the breaks. While it was on, however, it did strike me that they were covering their African component of the evening quite a bit more than the others. Its a big continent with a lot of problems. If they were allotting time as to be proportional to geographic size, wouldn't that be cleaver of them?

Some of the footage they aired was really compelling. Well, not the bits where Ryan Seacrest and Simon Cowell were sitting in various shantytown dwellings with umpteen number of orphaned children, patting them all on the back and giving half hugs telling them everything was going to be OK. That was crap. It felt like wasted air time. It made aforementioned presenters seem impotent and hollow. That they were profoundly affected by the suffering they saw was not in question. They were. And who wouldn't be? So the Idol machine was not providing us with anything more in that respect than we could have found in any other TV based fund raiser. Que Sally Struthers entrance.

Then it hit me. There was no useful information being given. There was some talk of "You," the viewing audience, having the power to change the world. And how is it that we make this great change for the betterment of those who are suffering? Money? Give them your money and everything is going to be alright. I am not sure if this is a uniquely American phenomenon or not, but the gist of most of these fund raisers seems to be geared towards cultivating pity and then relieving your visceral grief and empathy by throwing money at the problem. Then you've done your part and can go on with your life.

You might be saying "How dare you belittle the chartable spirit of America." Or something like it. I am doing no such thing. What I am doing is illuminating the fact that we are being given the short shrift from fund raisers like the one that Idol put on last night. At no time did any of the vignettes on Africa or the other causes say why things were the way they are. This is not so much a question for the illiteracy in poorer areas of the country, but its still relatively valid. The spread of AIDS in Africa is terrible and we all know that a person gets infected with it via intercourse with another infected person. Mostly, previously infected men will infect healthy women infecting and impregnating them all at once. This is why there are so many orphans in impoverished African nations. Its a cycle. A cycle that isn't widely discussed here or there. What they also do not mention is that a big reason HIV/AIDS is so pervasive in African countries is that many men are promiscuous and it is socially acceptable for them to be so. Their wives may know this but if they refuse their husbands advances, it is not uncommon at all for the man to beat her. Its also not uncommon for these beatings to result in her death. So there are massive cultural problems that aggravating the spread of HIV to such a degree that it begs the question of why aren't we hearing more about this side of it?

Another sub-issue worth mentioning is where the money goes. How much goes to bureaucracy and management on this end? How much makes it overseas? From there, how much gets absorbed by the governments? How much gets taken by corruption, gangs, militias, etc...? I bring this up not to be cynical. Its just the reality of the world that we and they live in. So, is it more efficacious to donate money or affect change by some other means?

On last night's Idol, poverty was the leitmotif of the evening. That and a whole lot of feel good music and celebrity hyjinx. The three go hand in hand, don't they? And, in the end, things like this do more good than harm. My concern is that people will think that this is enough when its really not nearly enough. Its good to give to charity. You help a cause and get a tax write off. But you should also, provided you're able, give of your time and energy. You can be a mentor, you can work at a soup kitchen, you can tutor, you can join projects like Habitat for Humanity and a great many more things. What no one really talks about, especially in commercialized venues like Idol, is that you can also vote with your dollar. You can send a message to the marketplace by buying certain goods over others. You can purchase products generated by women's cooperatives, you can go to farmer's markets, you can not buy gas from certain vendors because they obtain their product from nations that have bad human rights records. This list, like the lists of charitable causes and philanthropies, is endless.

One last time; Idol Celebrity Fund Raiser and other such things like it = Good. Well, rather, they're trying to do good and that's better than doing nothing at all. Just don't get to thinking thats all there is to it. You're not even scratching the surface.

By the way, if Melinda Doolittle doesn't win, America really has no good taste.

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Tuesday, April 24, 2007

We write letters

April 24, 2007

Joseph Chiossone, Postmaster
City Operation
United States Postal Service
1050 Forbell Street
Brooklyn, NY 11256

Postmaster Chiossone,

We are writing to inform you that the mail delivery service that operates out of your Fort Hamilton Station has failed repeatedly to deliver our mail in a timely fashion after the expiration of a hold order. Specifically regarding the hold order with the confirmation number WEH33940912, as of the writing of this letter late this afternoon, we have only now just received our mail dated from Monday, April 9 through Saturday, April 21 of 2007.

Earlier today, given the lack of service, we went to the Fort Hamilton Post Office to file complaint and get our mail. We spoke with the station manager, a woman named Diane. She informed us that the carrier serving our building, a Mr. Hui, must have “forgotten” to deliver our held mail and would surely deliver it today. We then asked that, since we were already there, could we just have it? She went to check and reported back that Mr. Hui had already left with our held mail. It goes without saying that we speculate our visit prompted the delivery. Only Mr. Hui can say for sure and we doubt he will.

The Hold Mail Service available through the USPS website states on the request confirmation in clear terms that:
For Security reasons, your carrier will leave only the mail that fits into your mail receptacle. Your carrier will leave a notification slip and return any excess mail to your local Post Office. If you choose to pick up your mail, you must present photo ID.

We did not receive any notification slip at any time prior and it is worth it to note that all of our mail from the hold period fit easily into our mailbox. Additionally, our incoming mail in the interim has been so little that the held mail could have fit easily into our mailbox on any day prior additional to what was delivered each day.

We find this service sub-par and unacceptable. Let us be clear. Our discontent has not been stirred by this one dereliction alone. Prior to this occasion, we’ve had nearly identical experiences utilizing this same service during the dates March 5th through the 10th of this year and November 28th through December 9th, 2006. On each occasion delivery was delayed by three business days or more. We have not determined if Mr. Hui was the mail carrier during those periods as well.

Outside of our complaints regarding the Hold Mail Service, there have been instances where we have received notice of delivery failure on signature required packages and the reason given was that the “door was locked.” Such notices are left in our mailbox, inside the cited locked door.

One last specific example from Monday, July 3, 2006 at approximately 12:30 p.m. our apartment was rung up by a Postal Service carrier to deliver a package. We buzzed the person in and assumed that they would leave the parcel by our mailbox. Upon going to retrieve our mail, we found no package but a delivery slip that gave notice an attempt was made and that a signature was required for release of the package. They had ample opportunity to inform us that a signature was required, but didn’t say anything to that effect. Frankly, we find this beyond lazy and/or extremely irresponsible.

At the very least, all of this does not speak well for the quality of service that people should associate with the USPS. We are not seeking compensation. However, it is our hope that you understand the problems reported and take steps to restore timely, competent service to this address and the greater Bay Ridge and Fort Hamilton areas.


Mr. & Mrs. Bourgeois Deviant
Brooklyn, NY 11209

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