Oba! Yes, I came back. Though, for the life of me, I can't figure out why...
So much, so much to rant about this month...! ;) My luggage, and my mother's, decided to spend a few hours more in Sao Paulo than we did, so we arrived in Curitiba without clothes to change into. (Barbara was luckier.) Both bags showed up, separately, within a few hours, fortunately. The rooms I'd reserved over the Internet turned out smaller, dingier, and smellier than any of us had anticipated. We were able to find something much better for a little less money just a few short blocks away... On the return flight from Sao Paulo, all three of us had to deal with luggage that insisted on visiting Houston without us. Took a bit longer to get the bags back this time, but at least everything was intact, if rifled through.
It's saddening and frustrating to see the shantytowns around the outskirts of any largish city in Brazil. Sao Paulo, Curitiba, and even Ponta Grossa have 'em. The kids running around the streets barefoot at all hours is also a bad sign. These children need to be educated and need to know that there's an alternative to begging or even crime. As bad as one feels, giving change to one of them is not going to help either the individual or the problem.
The Petrobras oil rig disaster was a real shame, too. I was really hoping it wouldn't sink, for the environment's sake and for Brazil's economy's. Oh, well. They tried their best, they righted it for a little while, and it went down anyway...
But enough about Brazil; there are plenty of other topics for this issue. What in the hell is President Dubya thinking, backing out of the Kyoto agreement on global warming and reneging on his campaign promise to reduce carbon dioxide emissions?!? Even EPA Administrator Christie Witless (I think I spelled that right ;) had enough sense to urge him not to reverse his position. It sounds like the President is being influenced by an industry or two, and it looks like he's intent on burying the country's collective head in the sand, and losing America's position as a leader.
It looks as though the conflict in Macedonia is almost over. I hope so. If the Albanians responsible realize that they've brought the world's attention to bear on their situation, then they should back off and let their representatives negotiate for change. Violence is not the answer, and the Balkans don't need another war. The world doesn't need another war. Some serious talks need to be held now, in order to prevent this kind of thing from happening again.
Finally. Milosevic is in jail. He may not be in the custody of the war crimes tribunal, but at least he's been fully discredited now. His political career is over. Maybe he thought it was fun to persecute anyone who wasn't Serbian (ask the Albanians, Bosniaks, Croats, Macedonians, and Slovenes why they wanted nothing to do with the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia) and to watch ethnic wars break out one by one, but I think even the Serbs have come to the conclusion that this was just not worth it. Maybe they won't give him to the tribunal (though hopefully they will), but at least they've finished him themselves.
Sharon and Arafat need to quit the posturing and saber-rattling. I'm pretty sure neither the Israelis nor the Palestinians really want a war. I don't think it's unreasonable of Sharon to require a cessation (or at least a significant reduction) of violence before resuming talks. But I do think that talks must start again, and soon. The more people die, the harder feelings will become, and Israel risks war with not just the Palestinian Authority but with most of the Arab world. This issue needs to be resolved once and for all!
There's still a war going on in Chechnya, even if it's lower-key than it was six months ago. Maybe Putin's waiting 'til everyone has forgotten his embarrassing war before he pulls out altogether. But I'm not going to forget... China has detained yet another U.S. scholar, allegedly for spying. How nice that Chinese-born intellectuals should have to avoid ever going back to visit for fear of being treated like criminals. :P I just heard about the Chinese athlete joining the NBA, though; that could be cool. Wow, a 7' 1" Chinese man...!
Damn the Taliban. Go ahead, put another fatwa on my head, I can take it... But their decision to destroy all the statues in the country, including those famous giant Buddhas, was asinine and stupid and even contrary to Islam, according to many. Pakistan, one of the Taliban's few supporters, even urged them not to do this. Assholes.
And, lest I forget, Tripod can join the Taliban in hell. A week and a half after I E-mailed them demanding an explanation for taking down my site, I got a response asking me to specify the URL or my username; the username was already in the E-mail I'd sent them! So screw them. I don't care anymore. Itsamac.com has treated me very well, I've gotten personal treatment from both Tyler, the technical support manager, and Chris, the president, and I can't do much better for an URL than andersensilva.com
Kudos to the Dalai Lama for visiting Taiwan in spite of China's stern disapproval. That's one man I would love to meet. :)
I don't pay a whole lot of attention to Oscars or Golden Globes or Tonys or Grammys or any other awards, generally, but since I'd seen two of this year's Oscar-winning movies ("Gladiator" and "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon"), I thought I'd mention that while I enjoyed both, I'm not sure that "Gladiator" was the best movie released in 2000. "Crouching Tiger"'s flying scenes could've earned it a Best Comedy award, though... ;) C'mon, it was a great movie, but that was just too hard to swallow!
Well, let me get back to trying to adjust to the temperatures here. Why didn't I stay in Brazil?!? What's wrong with me?!? Heh-heh-heh... - A