Burroughs Adding Machine

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

Citizen Journalists: Tar Balls on NE Florida Beach

Crescent Beach, in the Northeast corner of Florida, is littered with tar. It’s shocking to see the pliable, gummy substance up close. The folks in this YouTube video don’t know whether it’s from the oil spill in the Gulf, but are dismayed nonetheless.

What an environmental disaster. Meanwhile, Tony Hayward, perhaps the savviest PR guy around, parties on with an unknown woman in Texas.

Filed under: environmentalism, oil spill, , , , , , , ,

Slideshow: Climate Refugees and Global Warming

On Earth Day, the Daily Beast compiled a stunning slideshow of images from the world’s most threatened communities. Titled “Climate Refugees” by the U.N., more than 50 million people were displaced in 2008 due to weather disasters. An undisputable fact for wingnuts who still deny the impact of global warming.

For residents in The Maldives or Bangladeshi, the earth’s response–and the impact on citizens–is astounding:

The Maldives, a chain of 1,200 islands, is slowly sinking into the Indian Ocean. Its disappearance would displace its 300,000 residents. Within the next 20 years, 20 million Bangladeshis, already accustomed to a steady stream of natural disasters, may have to relocate due to rising seas.

These images juxtapose the beauty of these twelve endangered locales with the reality of their dire situation. Take action.

Filed under: environmentalism, , , , , ,

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, , , , , , , , ,

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)
November 2019
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https://rsiasoco.wordpress.com/about/

About Me

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

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