Thursday, September 30, 2010

It is possible

Today was just me and the housekeeper. She comes only two days per month.

It was my responsibility to cook lunch for the two of us. Luiz and his mother went shopping in Rio.

Is that possible!? Can a gringo cook lunch for the housekeeper? This situation never presents itself without some controversy. (We long ago stopped the housekeeper from cooking – we can do this just fine and we would rather she keep doing the messy cleaning we hate to do.)

Now – keep in mind that “Nemnem,” our twice a month housekeeper, has expressed delight in my cooking in the past. I think she actually likes my fish or pasta or grilled lunches. But the overarching Brazilian forces can’t imagine this as satisfying. So usually I step back.

No beans? No rice? What? So what is for lunch!?

Today we enjoyed a ground meat and vegetable spaghetti sauce over whole wheat rigatonis with steamed broccoli and carrots. Just perfect. We both enjoyed it. But that will not impact the idea that the gringo cannot cook for Brazilians… mark my words.

However – we are happy. Nemnem and I share a secret bond.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Ali, a courageous advocate for Women, Speaks Out Against Oppressive Islam

Ayaan Hirsi Ali is the personification of strength.

Born in Mogadishu, Somalia and raised in a devoutly Muslim household, Ali grew up in an oppressive Islamic society yet surfaced to tell her tale.

Ali, now in her 40s, has lived a life rarely fathomed anywhere but within the pages of an adventure book. After surviving genital mutilation as a child, fleeing to the Netherlands to escape from an arranged marriage in her twenties, condemning her former faith, and surviving multiple death threats, Ali is now a staunch and outspoken advocate for women and human rights in Islamic countries.

Advocating for justice in the Muslim world has not been easy. After receiving asylum in the Netherlands in 1992, Ali earned a degree in political science at the University of Leiden and served in the Dutch parliament from 2003 to 2006 — often speaking out passionately about the plight of women in the Muslim world.

In 2004, Ali partnered with director Theo van Gogh to create a film about the Muslim oppression of women, called “Submission.” Several months after the film aired, a Muslim radical named Mohammed Bouyeri murdered van Gogh on the streets of Amsterdam, stabbing a note to his body warning Ali that she would be next. Since then, Ali has been in hiding, protected by 24-hour security.

Now living, writing, and speaking out in America, Ali continues to reflect on the life she left behind. In a recent conversation with The Daily Caller, Ali explained that she never realized what a risk she was taking when she left Islam and began speaking out against it.

“When I first started publishing and responding to interviews I didn’t know that my life was in danger,” she said. “And when I got the question, ‘So are you, yourself, Muslim?’ The answer I gave was no, I’m secularized and I realized too late that that answer meant, as a Muslim, I am an apostate and inviting violence.”

According to Ali, Islam, as a template for societal organization, is a complete failure.

“If you look at nations that have adopted Sharia law, you see a number of things: you see an upsurge in the violations of human rights — rights of women, gay people, and religious minorities. You see a dictatorship at all times even though it is sometimes presented as a democracy. For instance, because Islamic law is divine law who ever takes control of government puts himself in the position of God,” she said.

Growing up in a culture that shuns women is incompatible with the ideals of feminism, Ali told TheDC, saying that she got the strength to leave Somalia and the culture in which she was raised from within herself and from circumstances in her life that were unusual for women in her situation — specifically having the opportunity to get an education.

“I was sent to school and there are so many Muslim girls who never go to school or never get to finish it,” she said. “Another circumstance which put me in a lucky position is my father left our family when I was about 10- or 11-years old and he returned when I was 21. And that’s the period when most girls get married off. So, if I had been married off at 16 or 17, I would’ve been much more vulnerable — not as strong. But at 22, after having observed what happens to these young women who are married off and how their lives get shattered, that strengthened me even more to say no to these men.”

Ali says that she never reached common ground with her father and has little idea of where her mother is, saying only that she is “somewhere in Somalia.”  CONTINUED

H/T TheDailyCaller

Don't discard - repair

There is a very distinct element of everyday life that separates living in Brazil from living in the United States. Back in San Francisco, if something broke or got damaged in some way, we would simply buy a new one. No big deal.

Here there are two dynamics that interrupt this impulse. First, shit costs, relatively, A LOT more here. A cheap toaster oven at Best Buy costs three to four times more here IF you can even find one with comparable functionality. Usually stuff is as basic as it comes – and is still very expensive.

Second, getting things repaired is very commonplace here – and assumed. Why buy a new mixer when some guy can fix yours for a fraction of the cost?

Today we acted on local impulse and had two cooking pans fixed by the local guy who sits by the tree near the park at his little pan-fixing stand.

One little pan needed the handle re-connected. It had broken through the metal moorings. The other was our small pressure cooker which suffered an extreme situation while cooking beans some time ago. The water ran dry and the pan EXPANDED before we took it off the stove. (Lucky us it did not explode.) Now it had a rounded bottom and lid, no longer making the seal necessary to be functional.

Mr. pan-fixer guy repaired our little pan for R$5 – rather than our buying a new one for R$20. He also brought our small pressure cooker (bought for R$45) back to life for R$10.

I love the entrepreneurs who position themselves on the side of the road. In this case we came out winners.

News Release: State Of Emergency Should Be Declared On Abia State Police Command

The Institute of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law is frightened by the callous-indifference and inaction of Abia State Police Command in arresting the terrifying increase of rape, armed robbery, killings and unending cases of kidnapping in Abia State. The recent kidnap of young and innocent school children, paints a clear and sordid picture of these heartless criminals. It is a thing of grave

News Report: Israeli Special Anti-Terrorism Troopers May Be Deployed To Rescue Kidnapped Nigerian School Children