Thursday, November 29, 2007

166. On a Lighter Note--Bad Sex Awards

Thanks to Wrytten Wyrd and Janice Harayda for spreading the word about the Guardian's recent award for the 2007 worst passage about sex in a "literary" form.

The winner: Norman Mailer--The Castle in the Forest. Just too funny! He's got "the Hound," battering ram and piety all tied up in one paragraph.

Some of the other contenders stretch imaginative phrasing to the limit: "keyhole in the door", "streamers of heat", "tropical fish" butt, "private geometry," all made me smile. But my personal fave: "a powerful ethnic muscle scented by bitter melon." HAHAHAHA! That last from ABSURDISTAN by Gary Shteyngart.

Click the title of this post if you want to read more! ROFLMAO!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

165. On Resolutions

Tuesday's newspapers reported on a proposed House Resolution, signed by Stanley Torres and 8 other members, to castigate Ron Hodges for opinions he expressed publicly.

It is the representatives who should be castigated and censured for their tactics of intimidation and repression.

As reported, the resolution gives a nod to the First Amendment. Obviously the representatives have heard of the right to free speech and freedom of the press. Equally obvious, they don't understand what these mean.

I don't know Mr. Ron Hodges personally. I've read his letters in the paper, like many other people have. His letters stand firmly for the protection of human rights, whether the humans are citizens or not. He finds fault with our government leaders and others in the community for failing to accord basic human dignity to their fellow workers who happen to be aliens. And he has expressed frustration at what he perceives as unfair treatment.

I often agree with his sentiments, if not with the details of his proposals. And his "spit in the soup, graffiti everywhere" tirade was one of those expressions of frustration that I disagreed with. As did others who wrote in response with reasoned and heartfelt opinions.

Mr. Hodges responded to their objections, also with reasoned and heartfelt considerations.

This is what the marketplace of ideas is all about.

TO OUR REPRESENTATIVES: We are smart enough to hear ideas and think about them intelligently. We don't need you to protect us from ideas that you find offensive.

I find the Representatives' statement that Mr. Hodges should "not avail himself of island living anymore"--i.e. go back where he came from-- far more offensive than anything he said, and a good example of racism and bigotry in office, trying to stamp on constitutional rights.

I hope the resolution is not passed. And I will never again vote for any of you who sign or vote in favor of these kinds of resolutions.

It's time you worked on the problems of the CNMI. And the solution is not to abuse your legislative privilege to chill the expression of free speech, to attempt with your "resolutions" to silence those of us who point out what we feel is wrong. The solution is to identify the problems and find ways, within the constitution, to address them.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

164. Novel Zone--no time to blog!

National Novel Writing Month--November--is no time to blog!

I'm at 47,000 words on my most recent novel, thanks to the blitzkrieg of NaNoWriMo. My back aches. My wrists are sore. My eyes feel like dried up bits of pain in my face. And my characters keep going off on tangents instead of getting on with the story so I can wrap things up by 50,000 words.

Looks like I'll still be writing into the 60's. Aargh.

So although there are some rants and drones that have come to my brain at times during the last few days (especially today, with our illustrious congressmen passing a resolution to stifle free speech and invite another haole American to "go back where he came from"), they'll have to wait.

Must novel on!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

163. ROBERT'S SNOW-Online Auction Now Taking Bids

RACE FOR THE CURE. The online auction of snowflake ornaments painted by children's book illustrators has started. The first round of ornaments being auctioned are on the block until 11/23/2007 (EST, I think).

This is a chance to donate for a good cause and get a unique and beautiful remembrance in return. I encourage everyone to check it out, and bid, if you can.

You can see some of the snowflake ornaments featured in my earlier blog post, Blogging for the Cure , but the full assembly is at the Robert's Snow link (i.e. title of this post).

Monday, November 19, 2007

162. The Saipan Tribune Advertises--Hilarity Ensues

I laughed out loud when I read this advertisement (copied verbatim) in the Trib today (see page 22).

Attention all fresh college graduates
Do you love to write? Ever considered pursuing a career in
We are looking for fresh college graduates (associate or bachelor's degree)
with strong English writing skills, is willing to be trained to become a news or
sports reporter, and is ready to put in the hard work necessary to become a
professional reporter.
Interested? E-mail your application letter, resume, and a writing sample

I can't help but wonder who will be doing the training, and whether punctuation and grammar will be on the agenda! And let's make sure there are no stale college graduates applying! haha!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

161. NaNoWriMo Write In

There's a NaNoWriMo Write-In this Sunday at 2PM at Coffee Care.

If you're writing your novel this month, or thinking about it but haven't yet started, come. Bring your laptop and be ready for some word wars! Or at least have an extra plot bunny or two to share.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

160. P.L. 15-108. Our New "Labor" Law: What It Says; What It Means; and What I Think About It. PART 1.

P.L. 15-108 is 71 pages long. So I'm going to comment on bits and pieces of it, as I plow through it. These are my initial thoughts. I may revise them as I get to other sections of the law. I may re-think my positions and analysis as information or other comments come to light.

And because the bill is 71 pages long, I won't comment on everything. I haven't formed any strong feelings based on the coverage yet. I've been somewhat amused by all of the back-and-forth debate, wondering how much of it is just over-reaction and how much is warranted.

So here goes--my first foray into P.L. 15-108:

I got to the bottom of page 1 without screaming. Already I didn't like what I was reading. The law begins as most laws do with a statement of "findings" and "purposes." These are often instructive in how the language of the law should be interpreted, so I like to read these.

But this one starts with a purpose of achieving more employment for resident workers. That would be good. But I didn't like the "finding" written into the law that Chamorros and Carolinians should get even more preference than U.S. citizens and U.S. Permanent Residents for training and hiring. I think the notion that such preference is desireable goes against the fundamental freedoms of our U.S. and CNMI Constitutions that provide for equal protection.

And I didn't like the inference that locals should be groomed for management only jobs. I'm not fond of the prejudice against blue-collar work. It crops up again and again here. I don't think it makes economic sense. It runs directly counter to what economists (quoted in our local papers from sources like Wall Street Journal and other reputable business-oriented publications) are saying is the bedrock of an economy that can grow and thrive. And I find the prejudice against blue-collar work morally offensive.

So by the bottom of page 1, I'm not liking this bill much.

At page two, I found this:
The Covenant envisioned the employment of foreign nationals in the Commonwealth in order to create an economic base that would provide the citizens of the Commonwealth the economic opportunities and standard of living that their counterparts on the mainland are able to enjoy because of the vast area and large population from which communities on the mainland may draw employees.

What does this mean? It sounds to me like we get rich off the backs of cheap foreign labor. And we don't dirty our hands with the work ourselves. And that's our glorious vision for the CNMI.

And this purpose is "esteemed" because it's written into our Covenant. It's a bedrock principal!

I've read the Covenant. I've read the committee reports that constitute the legislative history of the Covenant. No where is there any such purpose stated.

The Covenant provided for local control over immigration in order to avoid problems with too many foreign nationals coming into a small community. The worry was not that we needed labor to sustain our industry; we could get that with U.S. controlled immigration. The worry was that the U.S. controlled immigration would not be responsive to our small, local issues and would allow foreign labor to overrun the island and change its character.

How do I know this? I wasn't here then, but as I've said, I read the reports. None of the reports--the House Committee Report (#94-364), the Senate Committee Reports (#94-433, 94-596), the Marianas Political Status Commission Memorandum, the Administration Memorandum, all assembed in a handy Section By Section Analysis prepared by Herman Marcuse of the Department of Justice--mention anything about providing cheap foreign labor so the locals could use them to raise their standard of living. The only comment about the reason for local control over immigration is this, from the Senate Committee Report, echoed in the Administration's Memorandum:

The Immigration and Naturalization Laws (subsection (a) [of Covenant sec. 503]. The reason this provision is included is to cope with the problems which unrestricted immigration may impose upon small island communities. Congress is aware of those problems. See, e.g., Alien Labor Program in Guam, Hearing before the Special Study Subcommittee of the Committee on the Judiciary, House of Representatives, 93d Cong., 1st Sess., pp. 19-25.

The vision of the CNMI's founding fathers was local control of immigration to limit the numbers of foreign workers. How badly did we screw up? Our government let in unlimited numbers of foreign workers, and we are overrun. And now our local population is a minority in its own place. That was exactly what the Covenant was supposed to protect against, but didnt work out.

So the "vision" now espoused in this latest law, because we can't admit that we made mistakes and didn't live up to the real vision, is one that our Legislators have concocted, not one that was built into our Covenant.

And it's an awful vision.

With this vision, I see the people of the CNMI standing on the backs and necks of the poor foreign workers. While the people of the CNMI enjoy middle class life, the foreign labor eats the dust on the floor.

That's what these words say to me. That's what is hidden in the text of the purposes. That we must have a social stratification, where locals are the owners and managers and foreigners are the peons.

And it's wrapped up in red, white, and blue--saying that this is what they have in the U.S. and we want it too!

And that's another distortion. In the mainland U.S., all people can enjoy the benefits of the large populaton and industry that can be built with it, but all people are entitled to be treated equally, too. The workers in those factories are U.S. citizens who organize into unions and bargain for better wages and benefits. The owners can't deport them when they complain.

The stated purpose of P.L. 15-108 is designed to keep foreign workers in subjugation to us.

Is there some other reading of this purpose? Is it just a neutral saying that we need foreign workers because we don't have enough local labor force to maintain industries?

I don't think so, because then it would say that we are employing foreign workers to help us create an economic base, where all people in the CNMI could enjoy a better standard of living.

The specific design of this purpose puts the workers on the economic base side and the locals on the enjoying a better life. There's no shared work and no shared benefit. That's by design.

As a purpose for a law that governs how we live, we should be striving for a higher, more ethical way of life. This island is filled with "Christians." Christ argued for a living wage, not exaltation of locals over foreigners. Not special preferences at the expense of others. Christ was a blue collar worker--a carpenter.

We have a long way to go, and a lot of wrong thinking to overcome. Our legislators and Governor should hang their heads in shame for allowing this purpose to be included in P.L. 15-108.

As a small side note: I'm sure someone will say why didn't I address these comments when the bill was being considered. The simple answer is, I can't unless I receive a specific written invitation directed to me (and not the general public or general bar association, etc.). I work for an organization that has regulations prohibiting comment to influence legislation, unless specifically solicited. (And even when I receive a request, I'm sometimes too busy to put my professional time into it. This blog, I do on my own time.) Once a law is passed, it becomes fair game and I'm free to comment.

As another small note: It shouldn't take a comment from me for our Legislators to see how offensive these findings and purposes are. Or to read the Covenant and the historical documents and see what was really said, what the true purpose was.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

159. A Little NaNoWriMo Humor

As you can see, this is by InkyGirl, Debbie Ridpath Ohi. You can see more of her work here. Inkygirl

When you "nano," there are no secrets. I mean, how did Inkygirl know about my 2005 novel? It just needs a little more editing, and I'll get to that sometime, I swear.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

158. Writing that Novel

This is my third year participating in National Novel Writing Month. Each year's experience is different.

The first year, I was totally manic. I had planned a lot--had the rudiments of an plot outline, basic characters with traits figured out, and a novel "cover" with a photo of the scene. I had made a hard-copy chart to keep track of my daily progress. I had files with research on technical issues and details. And I read and posted in the NaNo forums a lot.

On top of work and home, I was busy, busy, busy. And I wrote on schedule, using the holidays to get ahead, and finished on 11/25 with 61,000+ words.

I had put out signs trying to get others to join me, but without luck. And when it was all over, I hosted my own success party where I drank with a few friends, who read out portions of my "completed" printed out novel.

That first year was a great experience. And I love that novel (which I'm still editing!)

The second year, I had planned less, but had some basics in hand. A map of my locale, some news clippings for inspiration. I'd re-read my favorite books on writing and had plumbed my new copy of Chris Baty's NaNo book.

And thanks to the efforts of our local Joeten-Kiyu Library, I had two writing buddies who came to the weekly write-ins. Joe Race finished his first NaNoWriMo novel that year. Julia Allen, then working at the library, made some progress with words on paper, but was more the organizational guru for us.

My novel that year felt flat on first reading, although I liked the beginning. I haven't gotten back to it, but I think it has potential to be worked into a worthy second novel.

This year, I haven't planned at all. I decided on my basic story back at the beginning of Nano 1, when all three books were crying to be written and I had to see which one would be written first, then second and now the third one. I start with a premise. And this year, that's all I had on November 1!

Well, that and more Saipan Nanoers! Joe Race, Nancy Nielsen, Connie Nakamura, and "Marianas Life" are all in the writing marathon for the month. Ken Kramer is thinking about it (and may have started by now).

Having buddies in the Nano online community means I have others urging me on to increase my word count. I am woefully behind this year (now about a 1 1/2 days off target), but I have a few organizational tricks I've learned over the years (like keeping a character chart as I write, so I don't forget whose eyes are grey, and who moved to Oregon and Korea and such). I also use a Chris Baty tip-- I draw--with crayons and kindergarten style. So far this year, I've mapped out one party scene and my main character's home and yard. Coffee Care has brown paper on the tables, with handy crayons available, and these are perfect for this part of the process! (Also the wireless is a nice feature!)

I've also returned to that first year necessity of writing badly--lots and lots of words on the page, to (almost) make the word count quotas. Oddly the freedom to do this adds an energy to the writing and makes it better in some ways.

And of course, I'm using the "dares" from the NaNoWriMo forums again. Nanoers dare each other to do things in their novels--like add talking squirrels and recite ridiculous lines. I love these (although I won't take the talking squirrel dare) because they add a touch of whimsy and the unexpected that can lead to better overall plotting.

It's not too late to join NaNoWriMo. There are people who write a 50,000 word novel in a week! The goal is 50,000 words and a beginning, middle and end to the "novel." There's time to do that--or at least get started.

And all I can say is I love doing this. It's a taste of the writing life, all crammed into one 30 day period. Yay!

Sunday, November 4, 2007

157. Election Results

You can get the election results here. I'm just glad the Saipan Casino Act went down in flames.

Angelo has a discussion going on about the effect of blogs on the vote. I'm sure others are licking their wounds or celebrating in style.

As for me, I'm enjoying the relaxed post-election atmosphere. The tension from the uncertainty has drained away. Good or bad, whether you like the results or not, we now know what we'll be living with for the next few years.

I personally was surprised that so many incumbents won re-election. And I would like to hear what others think is the reason?

Do we not blame them for the present predicament? Are we still having candidates win based on family size? Are the incumbents who won somehow perceived as different than the others? What's up?

Thursday, November 1, 2007

156. On Writing

This bit on writing just in from NaNoWriMo:

It's a bit like being out of control and totally in charge, simultaneously. Tom Robbins

Ah, the joy!

155. Time to Write a Novel

November is National Novel-Writing Month!

It's time to crank out a first-draft novel in 30 glorious days. This is no small feat, but it can be done. I've done it twice. Joe Race also did this last November. And so far 90,000 people world-wide have signed up to try to do it this November 2007!

You can sign up to join the madness here .

With on-line support like interactive forums, radio podcasts, and breezy letters of encouragement from the NaNoWriMo creator, Chris Baty, the experience is fun and amazingly productive.

If you're in Saipan, feel free to join me for the Day 1 writing session (November 1, of course) at Coffee Care in the evening (sometime like 7 PM). Goal: 1667 words. Remember, you can't win if you don't start, as shown on this graph from Dr.Frag of Adelaide, Australia!