Burroughs Adding Machine

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

Debunking a Talking Tea Party Bear

“Did you know our basic freedoms as Americans are under attack?” says an animated brown bear.

“No I had no idea,” the other animatronic bear says, “I wake up every day and don’t feel my basic freedoms are threatened.”

This video (surely it’s gone viral) is reasoned, hilarious, and slightly disturbing at the same time. I like the reasonable response of the non-Tea Party bear to the crazy bear’s fanaticism.

“Obama is worse than Hitler,” the disturbing computer-generated voice of the Tea Partier warns, about four minutes in. “If we don’t vote the Democrats out of office, we will all be living as slaves to the evil liberal elite intellectuals who hate us and hate our freedoms.”

“I’m sorry you live so out of touch with reality,” the rational bear replies.

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Filed under: comedy, homophobia, humor, politics, , , , , ,

Ignore the Actual Cost of Your iPod. What’s the Real Expense?

Consumption. Capitalism. Environmentalism and government intervention and global resource management. Big words, often abstracted to the point of little meaning. What do these “isms” have to do with your iPod?

Writer Annie Leonard breaks it down in The Story of Stuff. “You can’t run a linear system on a finite planet,” she says, before launching into the interrelation between your iPod and the big box stores and toxic ecology and global labor forces. Perhaps a bit simplistic at points, but useful as a primer (or wake-up call). It’s often difficult to remember the tremendous natural resources needed to manufacture and consume the products in our everyday lives.

It shouldn’t be a shock to any of us, but the U.S. is a nation of consumers. It’s the main component of our American identity. Not cultural traditions or human diversity or unified pride in our people. We define ourselves through the stuff we buy. Even comedians recognize our love of stuff, and hilariously skewer it.

A bit of cultural exchange with our Ugandan friends: we brought Jiffy Pop, they roasted corn from their garden.

Maybe a small bit of proselytizing, but I’ll say it anyway: traveling in January to Uganda and Rwanda, a concrete thing I took away was not the poverty of the people, but the excess of American consumption. I and my students had so much stuff. Rarely did we notice the cumulative amount of our things–handheld iPod speakers, baseball caps, four or five bottles of sanitizer–in contrast to the folks we visited.

It was easier for us to discuss how Rwandans had nothing, rather than that we, as Americans, had so much.

So what’s the real cost of your iPod? Not the retail value, but the actual expense on our environment, our quality of life, the complexity of our cultures?

How do we justify, as Leonard points out in analyzing a $4.99 radio, the hidden costs: “the metal probably mined in South Africa, the petroleum was probably drilled in Iraq, the plastics were probably produced in China, maybe the whole thing was assembled by some 15 year-old factory worker in Mexico”? How does our careless spending (the majority here in the U.S.) wreak havoc on limited resources–both natural and economic–across the planet?

Filed under: africa, consumerism, economy, , , , , , , , ,

In love with Grizzly Bear

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Animator Gabe Askew posted an amazing video to virtuoso indies Grizzly Bear and their song, “Two Weeks.” It’s a sweet love story, replete with cardboard freeways and cut-out doors and swirling fishes connecting them all. An ode to GLBT folks everywhere.

Along with the Modest Mouse/Heath Ledger collaboration that I posted about a few weeks ago, I think I’ve fallen in love with the possibilities of animation again.

Filed under: gay life, music, , , ,

Publications

BIOGRAPHY

RECENT PUBLICATIONS
» "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)
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Pics from Africa 2010

About Me

https://rsiasoco.wordpress.com/about/

About Me

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

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