la Tunisie – sustaining revolution?

January 16, 2011

The fleeing-ouster of Tunisia’s former president for 23 years, Ben Ali, can be called a popular revolution, as some journalists are reporting it. For insightful reporting, read Brian Whitaker’s blog, al-Bab. Whitaker (editor for The Guardian) has gathered his pieces on the demonstrations under a section called Tunisia: The fall of President Ben Ali. Some reporting credits WikiLeaks as helping fuel the demonstrations because of documents that indicate the U.S.’s acknowledgment of Ben Ali’s corruption. Two deaths in particular have motivated protests: an impoverished graduate student arrested for selling fruits and vegetables without a license set himself on fire and another unemployed Tunisian electrocuted himself. Other protestors have been shot.



January 13, 2011

Palin’s speech yesterday made me groan. Damn. I’m going to have to write about her again. That’s what I thought. Then I read William Rivers Pitt’s piece called “Poor, Poor Sarah,” and I no longer need to write. Rivers Pitt said everything I wanted to say about Palin’s speech. One of the comments advised us to ignore Palin. I was going to write about her because I think she’s dangerous to ignore. Her brand of jingoism feeds too many too well, and as much as I’d like Palin to fade away, her visibility requires critiquing.

I also agree with another comment that Palin fits the description of a narcissist. I condemn her for taking advantage of the Tucson shootings to advance her own media image. Several posters also mentioned this concern. Here are two other reasons I think Palin’s dangerous: 1) She lies, and 2) she does not take responsibility.

update on how to pronounce “Coetzee”

January 2, 2011

Since my most viewed post is the one from Oct. 2006 called “ignorance is NOT bliss, or how to pronounce ‘Coetzee,'” I thought I’d follow up. A comment from Sept. 2010 by Bob offers a link to a section of the BBC website that helps readers with pronunciation of Booker prize-winning authors, and we get J. M. Coetzee’s own preference for the pronunciation of his name. Here’s the link: How to Say: JM Coetzee and other Booker authors.

grief and guilt

January 2, 2011

Two vibrant and productive friends of mine died at ages 55 and 56. These women, Gay Wilentz and Ana Sisnett, leave powerful legacies as scholars, writers, and activists. Gay’s dates: 1 September 1950 – 6 February 2006. Ana’s dates: 5 November 1952 – 13 January 2009. Gay died of ALS with bulbar complications, and Ana died of ovarian cancer. Both of them dealt with dying in their own ways, both with much courage. Gay was a full professor of English at East Carolina University, where she headed the Multicultural Literature program and instituted an exchange program with a university in Belize, where she had a home — she died there and is buried there, next to the ocean where she swam every day. Ana fought ovarian cancer for three years before she died at home after a short hospice stay. She was executive director of Austin Free-Net, a CTC, or community technology center. She was a poet and artist, a community and global activist.

The three of us spent many hours in graduate school discussing the issues we studied — feminist literary theory and criticism, women writers of color, postcolonialism and multiculturalism. We brought our own multicultural perspective — Gay was a Jew from New York City, Ana was an African Panamanian who immigrated to southern California when she was thirteen, and I am a Palestinian American WASP. In that last sentence, I write “I am” and that’s the problem — for Ana and Gay, I use the past tense. I am 56 years old and wondering why they’re gone and I’m still here.

My sister has been reading Elisabeth Kübler-Ross’s Death and Dying to my brother-in-law, who had open heart surgery in September. This is a book I’ve been meaning to read for decades. So I’ve been reading it, too. And Kübler-Ross discusses the guilt we all feel when someone close dies. Guilt seems to be a strange emotion to associate with death, but it’s tangled all up with grief. I begin this new year with a resolve to investigate my own guilt and deal with it. I want to do this so I can more fully honor Gay’s and Ana’s lives. My guilt is not productive–except as I can learn from it. They both deserve more from me.

Very cool WordPress stuff

January 2, 2011

I love WordPress. This morning, I received an email from them summarizing my blog stats for 2010, and they provided a link so that I could post the summary to my blog. Which I did. (See previous posting.) And now as I’m posting, I see the snow on the page — I noticed this on another blog I was reading and thought the snow belonged to that blog — but now I see it’s a WordPress thing. Very cool.

2010 in review

January 2, 2011

The stats helper monkeys at mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads This blog is doing awesome!.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

A helper monkey made this abstract painting, inspired by your stats.

A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 3,100 times in 2010. That’s about 7 full 747s.

In 2010, there were 4 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 180 posts.

The busiest day of the year was February 11th with 48 views. The most popular post that day was Site Index.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were,,,, and

Some visitors came searching, mostly for coetzee pronunciation, pronounce coetzee, how to pronounce coetzee, coetzee pronounced, and how do you pronounce coetzee.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.


Site Index November 2006


ignorance is NOT bliss, or how to pronounce “Coetzee” October 2006


Joseph Harris’s Rewriting March 2009


about July 2006
1 comment


Taylor Mali’s “What Teachers Make” November 2006