Archive for January 17th, 2006

E-vo The Sweater

Useful profile of Bolivian President-elect Evo Morales and the challenges he faces to be found here.

Evo has forgiven the White House for saying all those nasty things about him, looks set to meet the egregious Thomas Shannon (whose condescending appearances on CNN en Español put me off many a mojito) and has charmed the world with his lovely alpaca sweater, as this syndicated piece of jejune trash demonstrates:

Bolivian president-elect Evo Morales has drawn curious looks – and caused something of a stir – not so much with his leftist policies, but with the alpaca sweater he wore to greet heads of state at almost every stop on his world tour.

The sweater has apparently inspired a Mexican singer-songwriter:

‘El presidente electo de Bolivia / tiene un suéter nada más. / Él lo lleva a todas partes / y no quiere dar su gas.’

(‘The president-elect of Bolivia / only has one sweater / He wears it everywhere / but won’t give up his gas’).

Annie Murphy in Counterpunch issues a useful corrective to Alpacamania:

‘But it’s not even a sweater. It’s a chompa, a hand knit indigenous pullover of alpaca wool considered appropriate and even refined in Bolivia, which is of course where Morales is from.

The debate over a sweater before Evo Morales has even taken office shows perhaps the central challenge to his presidency; everyone has something to opine about Morales and so little of it involves his political platform. According to publications such as the Spanish sources above, Morales is not only a boor but a renegade who may appropriate the Spanish petroleum giant Repsol. American publications including “The New York Times” and “The Wall Street Journal” have depicted Morales as the “second coming of of Che” (NYT) and the new threat to liberty in Latin America (WSJ).’


Both criticism and praise of Evo Morales’s wardrobe is smoke and mirrors. It’s likely he isn’t trying to insult kings and presidents, nor is he sending messages about poverty and revolution. Morales isn’t President Bush or President Zapatero; when he puts on a pullover it isn’t a PR move meant to reveal disregard or resolve, or even a regular guy. He’s long been the latter. He’s wearing his clothes. If only Morales’s politics were scrutinized as closely as his wardrobe.


On Peter Hain’s statement to the House of Commons the other day concerning the On The Run legislation, particularly the bit where he says:

‘Closure can not be one sided.’

Hearing this I was reminded of a bit in The Human Stain I had read a few days previous, where Coleman Silk overhears a conversation among faculty members about Monica Lewinsky and the culture of which she is part:

“It’s a con these kids have going. The hyperdramatization of the pettiest emotions. Relationship. My relationship. Clarify my relationship. They open their mouths and they send me up the wall. Their whole language is a summation of the stupidity of the last forty years. Closure. There’s one. My students cannot stay in that place where thinking must occur. Closure! They fix on the conventionalized narrative, with its beginning, middle, and end – every experience, no matter how ambiguous, no matter how knotty or mysterious, must lead itself to this normalizing, conventionalizing, anchorman cliche. Any kid who says ‘closure’ I flunk. They want closure, there’s their closure.”

Dis-Ass-ter averted

I’m glad to see that the missing donkeys have returned home after their disappearance late last year. In the days that followed their disappearance, I heard dark tales of golfers coming across severed donkey’s legs on nearby golf courses.

Poetry corner: The Donkey, by GK Chesterton

Bum Notes

A ‘scientists have developed…’ story from the Guardian:

‘”You can talk to [the software]: play me something romantic and quiet, for example,” he said. “Or you’re going jogging and you want something to stay the same rhythm and mix into each other.” Thanks to the music profiles created by the software, the resulting lists of songs will be perfectly matched. “I want to help people find music, and I want artists and labels to find people,” said Dr Whitman.’

For those who might speak unto such software and say: play me something that puts me in the mood to murder my spouse, Rapper Eminem remarries ex-wife


‘The so-called releasing element of music is simply the opportunity to feel something. But the actual content of this emotion can only be frustration. Emotional music has become the image of the mother who says, “Come and weep, my child.” It is catharsis for the masses, but catharsis which keeps them all the more firmly in line. One who weeps does not resist any more than one who marches. Music that permits its listeners the confession of their unhappiness reconciles them, by means of this “release”, to their social dependence.’

Spherical Objective Tests

Spain’s El Pais reports that the Guardia Civil has re-admitted Alba Romero, an agent who had been declared unsuitable after her sex change operation. The verdict of the Guardia Civil’s medical board was:

“no es apto por ausencia de testes [testículos]”

that is,

he is not suitable due to the absence of testes [testicles]”

Alba appealed the decision, and a further examination confirmed that she was indeed a woman.

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January 2006
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