When reciting sonnets while walking briskly, figure fourteen sonnets per mile. . . . You should be able to balance a good conductor’s baton one and one quarter inch up the shaft from the handle. If it balances any further up the shaft than that, you will find yourself holding the baton incorrectly to compensate. Your arm will get tired.
Three recent polls show that Americans are more sympathetic to the idea of legalizing marijuana than ever before. . . That all three polls show support for legalization passing through the 40 percent barrier may be significant. I compiled a database of every past poll I could find on this subject, including a series of Gallup polls and results from the General Social Survey, and could never before find more than 36 percent of the population (Gallup in October, 2005) stating a position in favor of legalization.
P Sainath, Counterpunch – The number of farmers who have committed suicide in India between 1997 and 2007 now stands at a staggering 182,936. Close to two-thirds of these suicides have occurred in five states (India has 28 states and seven union territories). The Big 5 account for just about a third of the country’s population but two-thirds of farmers’ suicides. The rate at which farmers are killing themselves in these states is far higher than suicide rates among non-farmers. Farm suicides have also been rising in some other states of the country. . .
The spate of farm suicides – the largest sustained wave of such deaths recorded in history – accompanies India’s embrace of the brave new world of neoliberalism. . . . The rate of farmers’ suicides has worsened particularly after 2001, by which time India was well down the WTO garden path in agriculture. . .
What do the farm suicides have in common? Those who have taken their lives were deep in debt – peasant households in debt doubled in the first decade of the neoliberal “economic reforms,” from 26 per cent of farm households to 48.6 per cent. . . . Those who killed themselves were overwhelmingly cash crop farmers – growers of cotton, coffee, sugarcane, groundnut, pepper, vanilla. (Suicides are fewer among food crop farmers – that is, growers of rice, wheat, maize, pulses.) The brave new world philosophy mandated countless millions of Third World farmers forced to move from food crop cultivation to cash crop (the mantra of “export-led growth”). For millions of subsistence farmers in India, this meant much higher cultivation costs, far greater loans, much higher debt, and being locked into the volatility of global commodity prices. That’s a sector dominated by a handful of multinational corporations. . . .
With giant seed companies displacing cheap hybrids and far cheaper and hardier traditional varieties with their own products, a cotton farmer in Monsanto’s net would be paying far more for seed than he or she ever dreamed they would. Local varieties and hybrids were squeezed out with enthusiastic state support. . . .
David Gonzalez, NY Times – For the first time anyone could remember – or even comprehend – the sight of Joe Cuba brought people to tears. For more than half a century, this conga-playing son of El Barrio fronted bands whose music was relentless, hip and happy. Real happy.
But there was no joy on 116th Street Wednesday, at least not at first sight of Joe, laid out in his coffin, though sharp as ever in his black tux, white gloves and a gray homburg. Here was the Father of the Latin Boogaloo, a fusion of Latin and soul music that made him a crossover king in the late 1960s. . .
Outside, under the narrow awning, people huddled to escape the rain.
“I’m going to see him,” Juan Nieves said. “A friend of mine died, too, and I’m going to see her inside. But I have to see him. His music was the best from the ’60s. His sextet was the ultimate. They had all the songs. Oye, ese pito!”
Hey, that whistle! That was the first line to “El Pito” – which was always followed by five quick toots.
For a while in the 1960s, those five notes were the clarion call of an emerging musical . . . The song’s signature chorus is taken from Dizzy Gillespie’s introduction to “Manteca.” The classic whistled opening gives way to hand claps, a Latin-tinged piano line, frenetic vibe playing and maniacal laughter.
In some neighborhoods, the song was a revelation. Where I lived in the Bronx, on Mapes Avenue off 181st Street, teenagers drove people crazy whistling the opening notes while chanting what can only be described (here, at least) as a gleefully obscene twist on Georgia.
Its bilingual lyrics and urban attitude presaged the coming boogaloo craze. The distinctly New York musical form Joe Cuba helped birth reflected the interplay (with the emphasis on play) between Puerto Ricans and African-Americans in this city. Coming at the dawn of a political and cultural awakening among New York-raised Puerto Ricans, it was a heady mix.
If the world were merely seductive, that would be easy. If it were merely challenging, that would be no problem. But I arise in the morning torn between a desire to improve the world and a desire to enjoy the world. This makes it hard to plan the day. — E.B. White