Clueless White Woman

July 31, 2008

the dog ate my HIV statistics?

Filed under: cluelessness,international — by clueless @ 4:40 am
Tags: ,

In one of those weird coincidences, my RSS reading for the evening turned up two AIDS-related blog posts:

A positive (1) HIV Treatment Extends Life Expectancy — a scientific study has proven the efficacy of anti-retroviral drugs, another strong argument against HIV denialists (beetroot? BEETROOT?!? I will never stop shaking my head over that)

And a depressing (2) via Anxious Black WomanU.S. Blacks, if a Nation, Would Rank High on AIDS. Quoting from this NY Times article, emphasis mine…

If black America were a country, it would rank 16th in the world in the number of people living with the AIDS virus, the Black AIDS Institute, an advocacy group, reported Tuesday….

Nearly 600,000 African-Americans are living with H.I.V… up to 30,000 are becoming infected each year. When adjusted for age, their death rate is two and a half times that of infected whites, the report said. Partly as a result, the hypothetical nation of black America would rank below 104 other countries in life expectancy.

In a separate report on Tuesday, the United Nations painted a somewhat more optimistic picture of the worldwide AIDS epidemic, noting that fewer people are dying of the disease since its peak in the late 1990s and that more people are receiving antiretroviral drugs….

The Black AIDS Institute… said that more black Americans were living with the AIDS virus than the infected populations in… 7 of the 15 countries that receive support from the [Bush] administration’s anti-AIDS program.

The international effort is guided by a strategic plan, clear benchmarks like the prevention of seven million H.I.V. infections by 2010 and annual progress reports to Congress… “America itself has no strategic plan to combat its own epidemic.”

Why is that? I really don’t get the logic. Is there logic there, even weird logic that I might be able to rationally consider and discuss and rebut? It’s just fucking wrong!

What’s weird/creepy in the story — yes, it isn’t just sad — is this:

The group also chided the government for not reporting H.I.V. statistics to the United Nations for inclusion in its biannual report.

Dr. Fenton said the C.D.C. had ensured that its data were forwarded to officials in the Department of Health and Human Services and was investigating why the data were not in the United Nations report.

Others speaking for the agency said the answer would have to come from the State Department, which did not respond to an inquiry.

CDC sent statistics to HHS, who didn’t send it to the UN, and HHS says the State Department can explain all this, but they won’t. WHAT THE FUCK? We’re supposed to be leading the free world, and we can’t file paperwork properly?

Aren’t we always told it’s pure evil when a country doesn’t provide clear, honest information about problems? Don’t we always hear about how China or some other regime we dislike is supressing true statistics of HIV infection?

So are we incompetent, or are we trying to hide information? (They seem about equally plausible, don’t they?)


July 13, 2008

South Carolina is absolutely not gay

South Carolina Tourism Ad

South Carolina Tourism Ad

South Carolina is absolutely not gay. Indeed, it’s downright depressing.

Joel Sawyer, spokesman for Gov. Mark Sanford, said using tax money to support a social or political agenda is inappropriate.

“Our state tourism dollars should be talking about the beaches and attractions of South Carolina,” Sawyer said.

Social or political agenda?!? Since when is gay tourism an agenda? Is the money of the British gay community tainted? Of course, you can’t come right out and say you hope those damn homos don’t come here, you have to make it about taxpayer money?!? Ugh, I can’t come up with any other words except “UGH!”… I’d encourage gay tourists to come to South Carolina and enjoy its lovely beaches, except I have a nasty feeling that they would NOT enjoy their trip due to the locals making total jackasses of themselves.

As Professor Bartow at USC says about it,

Once again South Carolina’s homophobes in power have inflicted damage on the economy of this state. In addition to driving away not only gay tourists, but also straight tourists who don’t want to vacation in a climate of bigotry, high tech investors will be alienated by this. And so will a lot of other desirable people – see generally.

My high-tech engineer self and USC professor spouse probably qualify as “desirable”. Indeed, USC seemed pretty happy that they’d landed him. BUT, while I may live here now, I can not wait to move. Part of this is just discomfort at being in a new place… but I don’t want to vacation in a climate of bigotry, and I want even less to live in one. I may like sweet tea, but I can damn well make my own anywhere else.

I am trying for my own sake to confront, adjust, and if necessary ignore my preconceptions. And I had all these preconceptions about The South being, well, you know, THE SOUTH, fully of bigots — but I said, no, that’s just a preconception I have since I’m a Damn Yankee, I’m sure it’s a lovely place. But fuck, here it goes proving my preconceptions right.

I’m trying, South Carolina, I really am. Why aren’t you?

July 4, 2008

German toy maker is ultra-clueless

No, really, it\'s Obama

No, really, it's Obama

Präsidentschaftskandidaten Barack Obama has a new commemorative doll. Made in Germany. And this is what it looks like.

Feel free to exclaim, “Wait, what?!?

It’s not just the skin tone. It’s the combination of skin tone with the childish fat cheeks. Put dark skin with a baby face and “pickaninny” is what will come to mind for a lot of Americans. (Even if they don’t know what a pickaninny is, which I actually didn’t until recently, they’ll recognize it as how black people were caricatured for years and years…)

And he gave it a flag pin.

A good friend of mine is a political scientist in Germany who specializes in analyzing neo-Nazi groups and looking at bigotry trends. So I figured, hey, who better to ask about German racism than a German who studies racists? His response:

You know, first I read only the article and thought, huh, what is the fuss about? I mean, some guy is making money with selling stupid stuff, and he wasn’t able for whatever reason to get the colour right. Who cares? But then I actually had a look at the pictures and thought, well, now I can understand why someone could find this quite offensive.

I dunno, I’d say that this is primarily cluelessness, but one would have to talk to this guy to really find out. I think racism against black people is not really a hot topic amongst german bigots anyway. They’ll tell you that blacks can dance so well and that they admire that and stuff, but leave it at that, as black people are not something they are really interested in. The colonial past of this country is more or less forgotten, since Germany lost all of it’s colonies (and it never had many colonies anyway) already in WWI – and as a result there are only few black people living in Germany, unlike in France or the UK, which had kept their colonies longer.

So it’s possible that Offermann was being a snickering bigot. And it’s possible that he was being clueless and bumbling. Looking at the other dolls he’s made, I think it’s the latter. Try to guess who this one is…

Guess Who

Guess Who

Give up?

It’s Lady Diana. Blond and Caucasian and in a white dress equals Princess Di.

He’s just really bad — or not bothering — to create a resemblance. He’s dressing stuff up in symbolic clothes and calling it commemorative. (Ratsinger, for example, is identifiable only because he’s dressed in papal regalia and is labelled “Pope”.)

All the kerfuffle and intricacies shown in American media is apparently absent in Germany. What they know there is that a black man is running for President. And how do you show that? A pickaninny in a suit with a flag on his lapel. Obviously.

At least he didn’t show Obama breakdancing.

June 24, 2008

Zimbabwe isn’t having fun

Filed under: international — by clueless @ 12:28 pm

I have to admit: I was half-asleep, which isn’t the best condition to understand what’s being said even if it’s without a British accent. But I’m pretty sure that the BBC World Service introduced one of its segments this morning with:

No Fun for Zimbabweans

I don’t know if I’ll be able to find a transcript, or even an audio recording of it — I’ve got no proof. But damn, that’s a stupid headline. “No Fun”? Yeah, that’s what I always say when the democratic process of a country is endangered. “Gosh, this is no fun.” Presidents-for-life are just a buzzkill. Kidnappings and assault on the opposition party are such a downer.

Obviously it’s “no fun” — but it’s so far beyond “no fun” that it’s pretty insulting to say that.

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