iamtheinvisiblehand

Archive for the ‘media’ Category

I’m behind the news as usual, but I was lucky enough (?)  to catch about 45 minutes of the interview Lance Armstrong gave Oprah a few weeks ago and even though it was just a tiny piece of the whole thing, I’m pretty sure I caught the gist of it.

Like everyone who has seen the news in recent years, I’d heard a lot about the accusations against Armstrong regarding the use of steroids that allowed him to win 7 Tour de France. I guess I was always a little suspicious, especially since he was a cancer survivor, and now that I’ve seen the toll cancer treatment takes on its victims,  for a while there I was truly impressed despite my doubts.

But after seeing his interview, if I had to say one thing is that although it was supposed to be some sort of act of contrition to come clean about his doping past, I have never seen more a more calculated and rehearsed speech in my life. And Oprah, with all her years of experience said that she had been surprised by his candour, or something like that. I may not be an expert journalist or have a degree in Psychology or in any field remotely related to human behavior. I am, however, a consummate introvert. I’m  the girl sitting in the corner quietly, paying attention to everyone else, observing their attempts to attract attention and be in the spotlight for a while. I may not have many personal or social skills, but I am definitely a good judge of character. And I can say, without any doubt, that Armstrong did a fine job at fooling everyone.

It was clear that he was mortified for getting caught, but not for what he’d done. That he’d lied over and over to everyone and that when anyone hinted at the possibility that he’d been doping himself he’d retaliate like a spoiled child who is denied the pretty shiny toy he wants and showed no mercy until he got his way, no matter what the cost might have been for others. And for that he showed no remorse, no regrets.

He mentioned his kids, and how he’d finally come clean because he saw that he could no longer have them defend him when all the accusations made against him were in fact true. And again, what I saw was that he was almost angry he’d had to tell them the truth, but not truly remorseful. And you know, now that I’m a mother, I’ve learned one thing that has guided me through a lot of situations, and it’s this: if you can’t tell your kid about it, or have to lie about it and risk them getting hurt as a result, it’s probably not a good idea. If we do something that we become ashamed of and can’t afford to let our kids know about it, then we’ve definitely done something wrong.

He also said it was impossible  to win the Tour de France without using steroids, or whatever it was he used to win. That was a hard slap in the face for all the others who have competed honestly and trained long and hard every year to win that competition. What would legendary cyclists like Bernard Hinault and Laurent Fignon think about that? For that matter, what about all the other cyclists who never had the chance to win the race while he was competing because he was on drugs and they were not? Furthermore, the other competitors still fought their way through the competition even though they knew they slim to no chances of winning while they had to race against Armstrong, and that is a tough psychological component to beat.

I’m not naive, and I’m sure doping has become more common in competitive sports than it used to be before. Nevertheless, Armstrong had no right to imply that everyone was doing it if he was not going to present proof to back his words. Actually, I’m kind of shocked no one from the race-cycling industry has come out yet to set the record straight, but I’m pretty sure they won’t – and can’t afford  to – stay quiet for much longer.

Anyway, after all has been said and done, I’ve concluded the many of us out there simply chose to believe that he was a hero, the kind of person everyone admires and wants to be like, because he is the ultimate survivor, living proof that if you put your mind to something you can accomplish anything. What’s really sad is that I’m sure that he would’ve been just as highly regarded and respected no matter what his ranking was at the end of these competitions, because he’d already accomplished su much and gone so far. It is definitely much easier to see a hero, even though we know deep down that there is nothing more than a liar there.

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On the 3rd anniversary of his death and as a tribute to his life and achievements, here’s what I learned from the greatest artist of our time:

-Moon-walking is hard (in my case, impossible), no matter how smooth the soles of your shoes are.

-Always say “Shamon” instead of “come on”. It keeps people guessing what you’re saying and makes them feel like idiots once they’ve read the lyrics.

courtesy of lastfm.es

-You can’t attempt to do the toe stand if you’re not wearing cropped pants and bright socks.

-The Crotch Grab doesn’t look good on a girl.

-Do not try the anti-gravity lean if you don’t have pegs rising from the floor into the heels of your specially-made dancing shoes. If you do, you will fall face-down. Been there, done that.

-Try listening to “Wanna Be Startin’ Something” and not wiggle your foot, tap your desk or move at all. It’s a physical impossibility.

-Only if you are Michael Jackson you get to set wacky trends every decade or so: a sparkling glove on one hand, jackets in all styles, from red leather to sparkling to military-style, and match with a hat if needed.  

Courtesy of kkdtv.blogspot.com

-You can be as rich and powerful as you want and still be lonely and lost.

-A child that is not allowed to be a child will never really grow up.

-It’ll be a long time before another artist as complete as Michael Jackson comes along.

-And last but not least: If you wanna make the world a better place take a look at yourself and then make a change

Men!  The only animal in the world to fear.  ~D.H. Lawrence

Last week, a terrible crime was committed against a very poor woman in the city where I live.

Not only was she assaulted and raped, but impaled as well. She agonized – while remaining conscious –  for a few hours at the place where she was dumped by her assailant. When the police finally found her, she was showing signs of hypothermia.

As if this weren’t enough, when they found her they asked her if she had medical insurance. She said no. She was then taken to a hospital about 20 minutes away from where she was, instead of taking her to another – private – hospital that was just a couple of blocks away.

The poor woman never stood a chance. She died later on due to cardiac arrest, after enduring several operations and all kinds of procedures to save her.

The worst part was the way the media treated the whole thing. It was pitiful and uninformative, to say the least.

I’ve been thinking a lot about how to write this post and how to approach the broad array of issues that arise from such a hair-raising event, but in the end all I can say is that I’m sad. Sad and enraged.

Truly and deeply sad.

I’m sad because I feel like something inside of me died a little. Maybe it was hope. Because I always thought human beings were essentially good, but it seems to me that this theory has been proven wrong way too many times already for it to be true.

I’m sad because this was a monstrous crime committed against a helpless woman.

I’m sad because of the way she was treated for being poor and because no one should have to suffer what she suffered only to die part of a health-care system that wasn’t willing to help her.

I’m sad because this is not how things are supposed to be.

I’m sad because the justice system of the country I live in had already tried her attacker before for sexual assault and murder and had released him only 15 months after his conviction. Several arrest warrants are still outstanding for his involvement in other crimes of a similar nature, and yet he has just been released, again, after being apprehended this weekend due to “lack of evidence” or some sort of BS story concocted especially to let the perp walk.

I’m enraged because impunity is, in my opinion, the mother of all other crimes. I mean, why even bother making laws if they are only going to be stomped on by animals such as these and their lawyers, who are just as bad?

But what really infuriates me is that this sort of thing happens all around the world and no one seems to know. Or care.

And I’m not only referring to random violent crimes like this one. I’m talking about systemic, reiterative violence. Against women. Against children. Against other human beings.

People will only become aware of these things if the media informs them about it. But if the media hasn’t heard of it or decides it’s not newsworthy, then it’ll just be ignored and that is so unfair. And since this case had to do with a poor woman in some God-forsaken third-world country, no one will ever know.

Because I’m pretty sure the global media has ignored this: I googled the news in English and only found one reliable source that has not even been updated: http://www.ntn24.com/news/news/outrage-colombia-rape-and-impa-13948

So, I’ve decided to inform the few people who read my blog about it. As long as just one person reads it, I’ll feel like I’ve done my part by making that one person aware of what has happened to that woman nobody seemed to care about.

She is just one of the many who are killed, assaulted, raped or abused every single day across the planet. We can’t feel regret or remorse for things we aren’t aware of, but we should, every now and then, think of those who are not sufficiently important to be on the news, but who nonetheless suffer the unthinkable – some of them, every day -.

from topnews.in

I was doing my usual “tour of the news” this morning when I found the following headline on msn.com:

White births are now the minority in the U.S.

America has long known this moment was coming, and now it’s official. According to the Census Bureau, white births are now the minority in the United States. Data released today shows that white births represented 49.6 percent of all births between July 2010 and July 2011, with births of minorities tipping the scale at 50.4 percent. Overall, white Americans are still the overwhelming majority (63.4 percent), but, as the population ages, it’s expected their proportion will ebb rapidly
I know governments must keep track of what’s going on, even if only for the sake of statistics, but really?
I’ve always been part of the “minority” wherever I’ve been: as a child in the West Indies, I was part of the white minority. Later on, in South America, as a foreigner (even though I’m a citizen) mainly because of my name. As an adult in Europe, again, the immigrant minority. And even though the only place I ever truly had a hard time was in Europe when I was trying to get a job, I have to say I´ve never thought where a person came from or what their color of skin was should make any difference at all. We can’t control the place where we were born or the color of skin we inherit, so why should it be an advantage or a shortcoming, especially since it has nothing to do with the kind of person we are?
I’m not going to get dragged into the whole “immigrants steal jobs from citizens and don’t pay taxes” discussion because that is not the point here, even though I do have a lot to say on the issue, seeing as I’ve seen and lived enough of it to have an informed opinion. I will say, however, that even more disturbing than the way the headline was written, were the comments made by the people who read the article.
I can’t believe there are still people out there who think that belonging to a certain ethnic group makes them somehow better or superior.
A famous Argentinian comic book character named Mafalda once said: “it’s amazing how far humanity has come and how little intentions have changed”. She couldn’t have said it better.
The world is one big melting pot composed of several smaller ones in each country, there is no denying that. We are all a mix of foreigners blended with the indigenous populations of the places where they finally settled (except maybe the pioneers), so where exactly does “purity of the race” lie or that annoying sense of entitlement come from?
If we are still focusing on this, then as a people we deserve no better than our current fate. If we continue to disregard the lessons of past mistakes, then history will definitely repeat itself with a vengeance.

I read that last week Mr. Karl Lagerfeld, the man behind Chanel, recently stated that Adele was “a little too fat”. And what did Ms. Adele do? She just won 6 Grammys and looked absolutely fabulous in the process, wearing Armani I might add. Ha!

When the movie Titanic was the hype, I read that James Cameron would call Kate Winslet, Kate “Weighs-a-lot”. Nasty. And what has she done since then? Every single time she is a part of something she gets nominated for an award, and more often than not, she wins. She also looks like a million bucks every time she’s on the red carpet.

When I lived in Paris, and English friend of mine had a French boyfriend who used to say that Cindy Crawford had “big” thighs. Also in Paris,  I was at the movies watching “Mickey Blue Eyes” with Jeanne Tripplehorn, and at a certain point she is wearing a little something to seduce her boyfriend, Hugh Grant, and the ladies behind me said, “Oh My God, that actress is fat”. I remember thinking that if that was the French standard of beauty, ordinary women like me were doomed.

In what universe are these woman fat?

My younger sister, thin as a stick and childless said, upon watching Heidi Klum hit the runway about 2 months after the birth of one of her children, that all new mothers should get their old bodies back just as quickly as Heidi had instead of making excuses not to do it. My older sister and myself, knowing what childbirth entailed, jumped at her immediately, obviously. Not only is it difficult to focus on anything but your child, let alone yourself, but also, normal women don’t have million-dollar contracts forcing them to be in tip-top shape to parade VS underwear (with all due respect to Heidi and VS), nor the helping hands to get you back in shape while someone takes care of your little one, etc..

How is it that men (mostly, but not exclusively) get to dictate what women should look like and what beautiful means? I mean, why did we gave them the right? But also, why would they impose on us things they don’t really care about when it comes to themselves?

If women had a true say in what beauty should look like, we wouldn’t be subjected to unbearable high heels that make walking, let alone standing, a miserable experience;  we wouldn’t feel the need to wear body shapers to fit into clothes that are usually intended for women on the catwalk; eating properly and exercising would come naturally, since no woman would feel so bad about herself to sabotage her own body for not feeling pretty enough or for not having the stick-thin figure we are forced to believe is the only beauty standard worth living up to.

I’m not trying to criticize or judge, but I do firmly believe that our health and beauty standards have been so distorted throughout the years that we are endangering the future generations’ perception of themselves.

I say it because I’ve seen with my own eyes preschoolers that are worried because they think they have a big belly and refuse to eat to avoid “getting fat”. Ergo, the anorexia this population has been increasingly displaying in recent year. And yet, I don’t see anyone alarmed.

My 5 year-old daughter hasn’t shown any of these signs yet, but if this trend continues, I’m sure it won’t be long for her too. The worst part is that even though as parents we try to instill that beauty is an inner condition, that she must love herself for who she is and that looks mean nothing, if she gets it into her head that she doesn’t look like she is supposed to, nothing we say or do will change that.  Our kids are so exposed to pictures of “perfection” everywhere they go that the voice of the minority – their parents – can’t be heard over the din made by the media.

And so in my house, there is now a blanket ban on saying that people are fat or ugly, on criticizing people on how they dress or look and in general, on anything that demeans another human being on how they look vs. what we think they should look like.

Beauty, as it is frequently quoted, is in the eye of the beholder and I hold that statement as my beacon (along with another: live and let live). As long as you think you are beautiful – in the ways that count, anyway – and love yourself as you are, then everything will make sense. Let the others concern themselves over minor stuff if they like.

I’ve seen so many friends of mine trying to change to look like their husbands or partners wish they would look like, working out their butts off at the gym, starving themselves to death, or letting their hair grow out when they’ve always preferred it short, that it breaks my heart. These women, all of them powerful and extraordinary in their own way, and with so much to give, are constantly insecure about the way they look and feel like they are worthless if they are not appreciated by their significant other.

I understand that our perception of ourself is a great part of our self-esteem, but we can’t expect external factors to boost it if inside we feel like the tiniest grain of sand on the bottom of the ocean. Our appreciation of ourself must come from inside, and it must encompass not only what we are, but who we are. Any changes required must be motivated from the inside, not the outside, because, how can anyone that hasn’t lived inside your body and mind know what you need to feel better about yourself?

Recently, a well-known model (locally, I should say), a stunning beauty, went public on some problems she had with a butt filler. It appears that the doctor who put the hyaluronic acid in her butt used a far-from-ideal product, even though the product itself was duly registered and approved by the local equivalent of the FDA. So while the doctor is suing the lab, the model is now telling everyone that she has now had to endure several surgeries to remove the stuff (or at least that’s what I’ve understood so far).

The irony is that when asked what surgeries she had before, she stated something like this in the following lines: “only breast implants and a nose job, the normal surgeries women get done”.  I wanted to slap her square in the face for saying such a stupid thing. Yes, I know, cosmetic surgery is a reality and millions of people get things lifted, augmented, eliminated or reduced every single day across the globe. But does that mean that cosmetic surgery is now a normal thing for people to do? If it is, then stupid me for thinking that people still cared about the important stuff.

Don’t get me wrong, I know cosmetic surgery changes the life of many people every day, such as burned, disabled or maimed people, but these people truly need it to be able to fully live their lives and regain their self-esteem. Elective cosmetic surgery, such as the model’s choice, is exactly that: elective. You can either choose to live with what you have and make the most of it, or live in misery because you don’t have a bigger backside, smaller breasts or that button nose you think you need to be complete.

So, basically, my thought for today is, forget what other people have to say or what they think. The only opinion that matters, is yours. The only person’s appreciation and approval you truly need to get you through each day is your own. And don’t let anyone try and convince you otherwise.

Before motherhood, going to the movies each week was a given. No matter what was playing, I was sure I’d see it.

Things have changed a lot since then.

The last time I saw all the movies in the run for the Oscars was 6 years ago, right before my daughter was born. That was the year “Crash” won for Best Movie.

Since then, I go to the movies once or twice a month (instead of four or five times) , usually with my daughter in tow, to see The Muppets or Puss in Boots, etc., you know what I mean. And even though I’m not complaining, because I’ve always like kids’ films and never missed a premiere even as a childless adult, I think I have now become an expert in recognizing every single actor’s voice used in animated movies.

Whenever my husband and I find a movie we want to see (The Dark Knight, Inception, Avatar) we set in motion our organization skills so we can have a night out and a few hours to ourselves. And it’s not that it’s difficult, it’s just that we believe that spending the weekend with our daughter is really important, since our time together on weekdays is more restricted.

The other thing is that since our outings are few and far between, we now choose what we’re going to see very carefully so we don’t end up ruining it and wasting those precious hours by not enjoying the movie. That’s why most dramas (the ones requiring tissue and entailing ongoing sobbing) or serious award-winning movies (specifically those awarded in Cannes, Berlin, etc.) are out.

For instance, “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” will premiere this Friday (yes, very late compared to the rest of the world, I agree) and we are already setting up the whole thing so we can go. I read all three Stieg Larsson books in a few days and thought they were the best I’d read in a very long time. As if that weren’t enough, my husband and I are huge David Fincher fans, so I seriously doubt we’ll go wrong with this one. 

All this to say that just as these past five years, I haven’t seen any of the movies nominated to the Oscars this year, so I don’t have a clue as to who should win. (That is, other than in the animated Feature Film Category, which I believe should be awarded to Kung Fu Panda 2. If you haven’t seen it yet, do it now – it’s worth the while!).

I saw “Slumdog Millionaire” two weeks ago on TV and thought it was an excellent movie, well made, excellent soundtrack, despite the crude portrayal of what the children endured, which I’m sure is as real as it gets. I also saw True Grit and ended up exhausted with the long journey and the anguish, albeit quite impressed with the Hailee Steinfeld’s performance. I saw “The Hurt Locker” on TV as well but can’t say I particularly enjoyed it. We bought “Black Swan” on DVD, courtesy of my husband, who has a severe weakness when it comes to Natalie Portman AND Mila Kunis, so you can imagine what he thought of the movie…

As a huge “Harry Potter” fan I went to see all 8 movies as well, the last one last year, none of them with my husband because he can’t stand them. I also went to see “The King’s Speech” without my husband (ok, I understand why he wouldn’t want to go), and “Alice in Wonderland”, “How to Train your Dragon”, “Inception”, “Toy Story 3”, “Rio”, “Rango”, “Tangled”, “Kung Fu Panda 2” and I think that ends the list. Please note how many of them are G-rated movies.

So if anyone asks me who should win, I’d have to base my comment on my appreciation of prior roles and on what has happened before. Taking that into account, I would say that it would be nice if a movie that breaks with the tradition wins the Best Movie category, e.g. “The Artist”.

As for the Leading Actress, why is it that Meryl Streep and Glenn Close keep getting nominated each time they’re in a movie? Don’t get me wrong, I believe they are two of the greatest actresses of our time, but the Academy should open the view of their periscope because they are not the only ones out there.  Hopefully, any of the others will win for a change.

About the Leading Actor, I am completely biased, seeing that Gary Oldman is my favorite actor (and sexy as hell) and although he has played many outstanding parts he has never been nominated before, so he should take it home. He is, however, competing against George Clooney (again, he’s good but not thAt good and yet Hollywood seems to idolize him), Brad Pitt (why he hadn’t been nominated before is also a mystery to me), and Demian Bichir and Jean Dujardin, who appear to be just as worthy.

That’s another thing: the press always seems to favor Americans over anyone else, even though the others are just as good. I clearly remember the year fellow Colombian Catalina Sandino was nominated for her part in “Mary Full of Grace”. She was up against Hillary Swank, Annette Bening, Imelda Staunton and I think someone else. It was clear to the press that the only ones competing were Hillary Swank and Annette Bening. None of the others were ever mentioned. Of course, they were proven right in the end, but honestly, I assume the others were nominated for a reason, not just to fill out a minimum. And they are now doing the same thing with Clooney and Pitt. Shame.

So anyway, another year has passed and I am still out of the Oscar-loop. Sigh. Oh well, there are worse things.

I went with my husband to the mall’s food court a few months ago to grab a quick bite before our movie started. There was nothing unusual for a Friday night at the mall, except for the fact that there were 4 teenagers at the table behind us just sitting there in silence.

Puzzled by the lack of any sign of movement or sound, we turned around to take a look. As it turns out, there were 2 girls and 2 boys (I’d say around age 16), the girls on one side, the boys on the other (it looked like some kind of blind date for one of the couples). Things were fine up to this point. What left us dumbstruck was the fact that they were – each of them – texting on their phones and that kept them from interacting with each other. It was the saddest thing I ever saw.

I know well that times have changed, me being part of the generation that learned to type on a typewriter and gradually made the transition to a PC; to print my first papers on the noisy dot matrix printer and end up with a petit laser printer; from having (and using) regular phones at home to not knowing how I ever managed before cordless phones appeared, and from using the huge devices that were the first cell phones to the minimalistic cell phones available today that have buttons you have to stick your nails into if you want to press them. Or even better: there were no cell phones in my childhood and early adolescence, so we had to use the regular phone (or payphone) to get in touch with our parents to let them know where we were and that were OK.

Oh yes, times have changed.

But does that mean that we now have to be 100% reliant on technology and forget that as human beings, we are social animals and as such have the physiological need to interact with others (even if sometimes we don’t particularly enjoy it)?

I mean, these kids were just a small example of something you see everyday: you’re at a meeting and one person in 3 is busy texting away while pretending to pay attention to what is being said; you’re in someone’s living room, or visiting a relative and there are at least two people (not necessarily teenagers) who have chosen a quiet corner in which they can text away at their leisure. Or even worse: there are two or more people at the same gathering who are texting each other and passing jokes and comments on their phones, not even bothering to speak to each other.

What is going on? Is this what we’re becoming?

I know that most people now have BBs and similar because they need them for work, or at least that’s what they’ll tell you. I wonder if they really do. Of course I admit that current technology has improved our lives in ways we never could have imagined, but I’m also certain that we have become dependent on our “gadgets” in a way that is almost dehumanizing.

I’m quite sure that our parents were just as good and effective employees back in their day as anyone who is currently a part of the workforce. The main difference is, they were able to “disconnect” themselves and do so much more for themselves and their family. Even though many of us had workaholic parents or parents who just had to work extra hard to support their household, at least in my case, when my mother was with us, she was with us heart, mind and soul, if even for a little while. Which is why I find it surprising how nowadays, in spite of the ever-growing array of working options and the greater freedom given by employers worldwide to make it easier for their employees to spend time with their family, people are just not taking advantage of it and are “not all there”. 

For although they can move around a lot more and share some time with their kids and spouses, people are always losing focus on things that matter and concentrating on more “urgent” stuff – a.k.a. everything else. Even when doing something they really enjoy (watching TV, eating out, etc.), people are unable to keep their mind on what they are doing, and instead are thinking of the other million things that are happening while they are “absent” or “disconnected”. It’s almost like things have been reversed: instead of thinking about what you’re missing when you’re not doing what you like the most (e.g. thinking about fishing while at work), we’re worried about what we’re missing while we are doing the things that at some point gave us immense pleasure.

Ever wondered why good TV shows get cancelled so soon? My guess is that, among others, people are not focused on what they’re watching and quickly lose interest in the plot if it requires their full attention and putting down their phone, no matter how good it is.

It’s like our generation and those behind us have lost their “lust for life” and have settled for being permanently hooked on our gadgets as if they were another appendage.

I guess we convince ourselves that what we are doing what must be done in order to live our lives the best we can and as such, every single personal life-related decision is valid. However, once we start losing sight of who we are, and unable of separating it from what we do and what we want, there is no turning back.

Our generation, I believe, is doomed, but there’s still time for the others to straighten their ideas and get it right before it’s too late and the cycle repeats itself: parents not paying attention to their kids, spouses ignoring each other, etc. and therefore the pattern repeating itself with each new generation.

I just hope I’m wrong.



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  • Carrie Rubin: I don't always remember names well, but I remember circumstances. I especially remembered yours because it's such a rare cancer, and you were the firs
  • iamtheinvisiblehand: Thank you for your kind words, but also thank you for remembering it was me....it's amazing that you'd remember this considering the endless stream of
  • Carrie Rubin: I am so sorry to hear about your mother. After you commented on my blog yesterday, I remembered that your mother was the one who had cholangiocarcinom

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