Burroughs Adding Machine

Social justice, arts and politics, life in New York City

Samuel L. Jackson joins the “No on Prop. 8” fray

I’ve been lax in commenting on the ridiculousness that is the ballot measure to ban gay marriage in California. They’re in dire needs of funds because both pro- and anti-gay marriage advocates have been contributing to advertising. I’m in awe: Is it really that controversial? The decision to outlaw marriage between two individuals is discriminatory and wrong. In this PSA, Samuel L. Jackson draws upon our troubled nation’s history of legalizing the internment of Japanese Americans during WWII and our past mistakes in banning miscegenation.

Marriage is a right for all Americans–straight or gay. Do your part by contributing, advocating, or simply persuading. And God knows if you live in California, get out and vote No on Proposition 8.

Filed under: politics, , ,

Early voting at your local supermarket

Interesting article about the success of early voting across the country (a non-partisan feature from a decidedly liberal paper like The New York Times). Can’t beat the images of a row of voting machines opposite a room of slot machines in Vegas, or the anecdote about busloads in Cleveland stopping in to a voting place to do their civic duty before rounding out the day with a fried chicken dinner.

The Times’ video feature that accompanies the article interviews a half dozen early voters from Denver, and many voters–both Republicans and Dems–support my own candidate, Barack Obama. Check out the slideshow of early voting booths.

And if you didn’t catch it last night, here’s a link to the half-hour documentary about Obama’s policies that aired last night on pretty much every channel on the dial. I watched it this morning on YouTube, and was struck by its appeal to working-class voters. I’m a cynic at heart, but got a little teary-eyed–yes, I admit it–at several points listening to Obama’s words and intent (not to mention a little bit of manipulation by the soundtrack, but that’s okay).

When you’re barraged by the campaign slogan of “Change We Can Believe In” a dozen times each day, even staunch supporters like me think the words become a little lifeless. But listening to Obama himself, addressing huge crowds on the campaign trail (here he is yesterday in Raleigh, North Carolina), his sincerity manages to bring the message of “change” and “hope” back to life.

Filed under: government, politics, ,

One way to get your friends to vote

Just got sent this viral video this morning with a headline that read “Obama’s Loss Traced To Ricco Siasoco.”

Needless to say, I was shocked. Then curious. And ultimately, laughing out loud. Move On put together the personalized video, and I’ve gotta say that it’s a great use of technology. The shock of the headline–and the accompanying visuals–is a real doozy. The goatherder from “one of the most remote locations” is absolutely hilarious. View it and then pass it along.

Goes to show you that the Internet really is a powerful medium, especially for citizen journalists. Well done, Move On, well done.

Filed under: politics, pop culture, , , ,

Howard Zinn, animated and articulate, on American Empire

I hate when I discover something too late to use it in the classroom. I was teaching Barbara Jane Reyes’ poem “Anthropologic” a few weeks ago, and my first-year students had such a violent, non-curious reaction to Reyes’ anti-colonialism that I felt I must have been doing a poor job of relating the little-known history of U.S. imperialism. I plan to revisit this topic in the coming weeks, as we begin to discuss Reagan’s failed Presidency in Angels in America. My teaching philosophy of late is evolving to include a strong emphasis on the connection between literature and politics.

“Empire or Humanity?”: This animated video of Howard Zinn on American Empire, only about eight minutes long, is paced well and visually interesting (and narrated with a dry though passionate narration by Viggo Mortensen). I also like the approach of the narrative through the personal history of Zinn himself, and his realization that his participation in U.S. bombing during the WWII–ostensibly for the U.S. war against Hitler’s fascism–was naive. His awakening to the idea of American imperialism is both personal and analytical.

“My motive was to help defeat fascism,” Zinn reflects upon his time as a soldier, “and to create a more decent world, free of agression, militarism, and racism.” But were his thoughts on the ground matched by the design of the architects in Washington? And what’s changed from our impulses toward American exceptionalism? Are current U.S. policies in Iraq and Afghanistan more of the same?

Zinn writes that little has changed since the great wars of the past: “As George W. Bush said in his second inaugural address, ‘Spreading liberty around the world is the calling of our time.’ The New York Times called this address, ‘Striking for its idealism.’ We can hardly ask for a clearer, more blunt articulation of imperial design.”

Filed under: racism

Obama and McCain on fighting global poverty

You’ve heard–and like me, probably appalled–by the statistics like this: one billion people survive on less than a dollar a day. When I was travelling in Ghana and Togo this summer, I was amazed at the absence of the most basic necessities: clean drinking water, functional roads, even availability of toilet paper.

I’ve been listening and learning about the candidates’ policies on foreign policy, and so often it focuses solely on economic sanctions, the Middle East, and Russia. These issues deserve their attention and my own understanding of their positions. But how often do we learn about Obama and McCain’s policy on fighting the incredible poverty that plagues the world’s poorest nations?

This is the method my friend JT and his villagers used to obtain drinking water in Togo. Fortunately, for him and me, the U.S. government--through the Peace Corps--provided a simple water filter in which we added two drops of bleach (yes, bleach) to the river water we drank. His villagers had become immune to the bacteria in the water. In fact, several folks in Ghana and Togo told me they had had malaria and spoke of it like a common cold.

This is the method my friend JT and his villagers used to obtain drinking water in Togo. Fortunately, for us, the U.S. government--through the Peace Corps--provided a simple water filter in which we added two drops of bleach (yes, bleach) to the river water we drank.

If you care about the health of other nations in addition to our own, take a look at this chart detailing Obama and McCain’s policies on fighting global poverty. It breaks down, in a visual way, the basic differences between the candidate’s positions on helping other nations. As the world’s strongest economy (I know this seems like an oxymoron), we have the responsibility to help other nations.

Obama cites statistics like the cost to get all children into elementary school: one billion dollars. He backs this up with a commitment: “I will invest at least $2 billion in a Global Education Fund.” McCain, however, evades a concrete contribution. He sets down a vague policy (or non-existent policy) that says: “This is why we all should agree that a quality education is the right of every child.”

I don’t want to become didactic or to proselytize. Yet it seems so easy for us as Americans–yes, real Americans–to take on the challenge of eradicating these horrible sanitary, educational, and health conditions. I’m not shy to echo Senator Obama and say it’s good to spread the wealth around.

Filed under: africa, global justice, politics, , , , , , , , ,



» "Pinays," AGNI, Spring 2016
» "Dandy," Post Road, Spring 2015
» "Wrestlers," Fifth Wednesday, Spring 2014
» "Babies," Joyland, August 2011
» "Nicolette and Maribel," BostonNow, May 2007
» "The Rice Bowl," Memorious, March 2005
» "The Rules of the Game," Screaming Monkeys: Critiques of Asian American Images (Coffee House Press, June 2003)
» "Deaf Mute," Growing Up Filipino (Philippine American Literary House, April 2003)
» "Good Men ," Genre, April 2003
» "The Foley Artist," Drunken Boat, April 2002
» "Squatters," Take Out: Queer Writing from Asian Pacific America (Asian Am. Writers' Workshop, 2001)
» "Deaf Mute," The North American Review, Jan 2001
» "The First Lady of Our Filipino Nation," The Boston Phoenix, 1999
» "Paper Route," Flyway Literary Review, 1996
» "Brainy Smurf and the Council Bluffs Pride Parade," Generation Q (Alyson, 1996)
October 2008


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Ricco Villanueva Siasoco is a Manhattan-based writer and non-profit manager. More

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