Who is Dayani Crystal?

dyaniMovie recommendations: Who is Dayani Crystal? A documentary that tries to find out who one of the many men found dead in the Arizona desert was. It’s available on Netflix streaming now.

I tend to make light of Donald Trump, I’m amused at how he has repackaged the far-right’s talking points into plain talk.  He has scared the hell out of the Republican establishment which figured they could use the rhetoric of xenophobia to command the votes of that part of the electorate whose feelings of financial insecurity – as Hitler described in Mein Kampf – make them easy targets for any sort of chauvinistic messaging.

There is some sordid pleasure in seeing the Republican establishment being bit on the butt by the monster they created.  And I honestly don’t think that Trump means anything he says. I think he’d just as likely to say exactly the opposite if it’d got him the same adulation – but liberals are not as easily fooled (or at least I hope we are not, Hillary Clinton notwithstanding).

But then I go back and think about the men and women who have died in the desert because the US government spends so many resources trying to keep desperate people looking for jobs out. I don’t think Donald Trump is Hitler nor do I believe most Americans would condone a genocide. And yet, isn’t this how it starts? By saying – through our votes – that it’s OK to establish policies that will kill people?  Indeed, by tacitly determining that there are people whose life does not matter?

Watch the documentary, then come back.

Now that you’ve watched it, did you find it a little discomforting to have Gael García Bernal standing for the dead man? I love García Bernal, I think he is one of the best and most revolutionary actors of his generation.  But he also has such an upper class Mexican accent, speaks so eloquently (he’s an actor after all) and is so good looking and famous, that it makes me wonder if the impact of the documentary is that I cannot possibly imagine a man looking and sounding like García Bernal, dying in the desert. That tragedy has greater impact because it’s unexpected, but it is not “Dayani Cristal”‘s tragedy.  As much as I appreciate the fact that García Bernal got this movie made, his presence in the film ultimately looks as misery tourism.

It’s Open Season on Hillary Clinton

Hillary-Clinton-1200I’m starting to feel sorry for Hillary Clinton.  It looks like the Obama administration is throwing her under the bus (justifiably, mind you) with the full complicity of the media.  I anticipate that Biden will be announcing he’s running for President very soon.

Meanwhile, Hillary is finding enemies on all sides:

1 – Two days ago, CNN released a poll that had Hillary at 42%, Sanders at 24% and Biden at 22%. The headlines everywhere were about how Hillary was widening her lead. Today, a Bloomberg poll shows Hillary at 33%, Biden at 25% and Sanders at 24%. The two polls are within the margin of error of each other. However, the headlines today were all about how Biden is competitive with Hillary, how this is a 3-person race or, specially in the conservative press, how Hillary is on the outs.

2 – Meanwhile, for no apparent reason, the State Department decided to clarify that they asked Hillary specifically for her e-mails when they noticed that they didn’t have them, and only later they asked other former secretary of states. The story is sold as Hillary fibbing/lying as to the timeline of what happened.

3 – Soon after, we find out that – as expected – the FBI has recovered some of her deleted e-mails. The headlines are that these are deleted “personal and work e-mails“, though no details of what work e-mails were deleted have come out.  Of course, if she did delete work e-mails that would mean that she both lied and broke the law.  And I think we can all be sure that she deleted work e-mails because that’s the only reason why anyone would get a private server in the first place.

4 – Meanwhile, the court chastises the State Department for not turning in even more Benghazi related e-mails.

5 – As if this was not enough, online tabloids are all excited about a new book to come out next week with all sorts of nasty details about Hillary – including the suggestion that she yelled at Obama and told him to “call off his fucking dogs”.  The writer of the book is described as a former Newsweek editor – but it turns out that it’s been decades since he’s done serious journalism and since then he’s been writing pulp books about politicians filled with disgusting claims. Not helping their case, Clinton’s spokesperson’s response was to call the claims “bullshit”.

6 – Trump, a genius at seizing the moment, is going on a rampage blaming Hillary for “birtherism”.  Hillary has to come out and defend herself against what seem to be plain false accusations.

7- To add insult to injury, it’s left to Republican Carly Fiorina to express empathy for Clinton.

And I thought that House of Cards and Scandal were fiction!  Personally, I just hope that Hillary and Biden mutually destroy each other and leave room for Bernie Sanders​.

Bay Area Daily Deal Sites

I wrote the entry below on July 16, 2011.  Four years later most of the daily deal sites have disappeared; sometimes their domains have been bought by others.  The deals are no longer daily either, they now remain for days, weeks or months at a time.  Still, a couple of other sites have been added to the survivors, and there are some good deals to be had. Here are the ones I use:

Amazon Local

Similar variety of offerings than Groupon, but fewer offers.

Groupon

The site that started it all

Travel Zoo

It often has flash listings for nice restaurants.

Still Around but Barely

Living Social: It’s still going but seems to specialize in getaway and shares many of its local listings with Groupon.

Gilt City: barely any listings for San Francisco

Plumdistrict: few for San Francisco, even fewer for the East Bay

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I have to admit that I was a very late adopter of Groupon and other Daily Deal sites. I had checked out Groupon early, but as most of their deals were in San Francisco I had paid it no mind. But a little while ago I came across these sort of sites again and realized that many now have offering for the East Bay and even San Leandro. It’s also amazing just how many daily deal sites there are out there that cover the Bay Area, though East Bay deals are less common, there are still quite a few of them. Here are the sites I’ve found. If you know of others, let me know. And if you know of a service that aggregates all the deals into one daily e-mail, please let me know as well. You can see many (but not all) daily deals at Savvy Cities.

Groupon

Got Daily Deals

SFGate Daily Deals

Google Offers

Living Social

Buy With Me (now Gilt City)

Mamasource – children & mom oriented stuff

Bloomspot – travel, food & relaxation

Juice in the City

Plumdistrict

Goldstar – Event tickets

Thoughts on Rachel Dolezal and what it means to be “black”

My one comment in the Rachel Dolezal debacle. This hitherto unknown woman is revealed as passing for African American and it creates a media scandal.

But thousands of people identify themselves as Native Americans, because they’ve heard that they have a drop of Native American blood, and it’s not a big deal, we just accept it.

I think both that racial identity is significant and that it’s complicated.  Being “black” cannot be about physical traits, otherwise blond, blue eyed, fair civil rights leader Walter Francis White, head of the NAACP for a quarter of a century, would not black. Nor would have been his blond, blue-eyed mother, despite having been born a slave.

And surely, African Americans who are not identified as black by others, don’t experience the same degree of institutionalized racism than those that look black do.  So being black also cannot be about feeling racism.

And being black cannot be about the cultural African American experience.  President Obama, after all, grew up within a white family in Hawaii and Indonesia.  While perhaps he did experience some racism as a child, the same cannot be said of the thousands of African and Caribbean immigrants to the United States. Having gone to Africa a couple of times and knowing Africans who live in the US, it’s easy to see the differences between people who grew up experiencing racism and those who did not. It is not unlike the difference between being a Latino immigrant and one born in this country.

Perhaps being black is about genetics. The old “one drop of blood” theory might apply.  Genetically, Walter White was 15% black, after all.  That, of course, is significantly greater than the 1-2% of African blood carried by about 10% of white southerners.  It may yet turn out that Ms Dolezal has that drop of African blood after all.

I don’t mean to speak for a community of which I’m not part. As an fair-skin Argentinian, albeit one with a thick accent that identifies me as non-American, I both embrace my Latino heritage but I’m conscious to understand that my experience does not equate with that of millions of other Latinos who live in the US.  And truth be told, whatever I have to say about the African American or Chicano experience in the US will lack authority – even if I had majored in ethnic studies.  Living is different than studying.

And here, perhaps, lies the answer to the question of why an African-American studies professor and a civil rights activist in lily-white Spokane, would want to live as an African-American woman, with the loss of privilege that that entails.