February 25, 2016

of fever and madness and hate

Her first thought was how big a ship it was, her second that it was too small for all of them to fit inside. It sat lightly on the water. The ship's boat came back and forth, ferrying the captives to the ship, where they were manacled and arranged in low decks by sailors, some of whom were brick red or tan-skinned, with strange pointy noses and beards that made them look like beasts. Several of the sailors looked like her own people, like the men who had marched her to the coast. The men and the women and the children were separated, forced into different areas on the slave deck. There were too many slaves for the ship to hold easily, so another dozen men were chained up on the deck in the open, beneath the places where the crew would sling their hammocks.

Wututu was put in with the children, not with the women; and she was not chained, merely locked in. Agasu, her brother, was forced in with the men, in chains, packed like herrings. It stank under that deck, although the crew had scrubbed it down since their last cargo. It was a stink that had entered the wood: the smell of fear and bile and diarrhea and death,. Wututu sat in the hot hold with the other children.

She could feel the children on each side of her sweating. A wave tumbled a small boy into her, hard, and he apologized in a tongue that Wututu did not recognize. She tried to smile at him in the semidarkness.

The ship set sail. Now it rode heavy in the water.

Wututu wondered about the place the white men came from (although none of them was truly white: sea-burned and sunburned they were, and their skins were dark). Were they so short of food that they had to send all the way to her land for people to eat? Or was it that she was to be a delicacy, a rare treat for a people who had eaten so many things that only black-skinned flesh in their cookpots made their mouths water?

On the second day out of port the ship hit a squall, not a bad one, but the ship's decks lurched and tumbled, and the smell of vomit joined the mixed smells of urine and liquid feces and fear-sweat. Rain poured down on them in bucket-loads from the air gratings set in the ceiling of the slave deck.

A week into the voyage, and well out of sight of land, the slaves were allowed out of irons. They were warned that any disobedience, any trouble, and they would be punished more than they had ever imagined.

In the morning the captives were fed beans and ship's biscuits, and a mouthful each of vinegared lime juice, harsh enough that their faces would twist, and they would cough and splutter, and some of them would moan and wail as the lime juice was spooned out. They could not spit it out, though: if they were caught spitting or dribbling it out they were lashed or beaten.

The night brought them salted beef. It tasted unpleasant, and there was a rainbow sheen to the gray surface of the meat. That was at the start of the voyage. As the voyage continued, the meat grew worse.

When they could, Wututu and Agasu would huddle together, talking of their mother and their home and their playfellows. Sometimes Wututu would tell Agasu the stories their mother had told them, like those of Elegba, the trickiest of the gods, who was Great Mawu's eyes and ears in the world, who took messages to Mawu and brought back Mawu's replies.

In the evenings, to while away the monotony of the voyage, the sailors would make the slaves sing for them and dance the dances of their native lands.

Wututu was lucky that she had been put in with the children. The children-were packed in tightly and ignored; the women were not always so fortunate. On some slave ships the female slaves were raped repeatedly by the crew, simply as an unspoken perquisite of the voyage. This was not one of those ships, which is not to say that there were no rapes.

A hundred men, women, and children died on that voyage and were dropped over the side; and some of the captives who were dropped over the side had not yet died, but the green chill of the ocean cooled their final fever and they went down flailing, choking, lost.

Posted by: hongqigong2015 at 02:01 AM | No Comments | Add Comment
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February 03, 2016

Poland has worked diligently

Poland has worked diligently over the past decade to become an entrepreneurial powerhouse. Once home to businesses focused primarily on app design and outsourcing, social, societal, and economic pressures forced the country’s brightest to start building for themselves. And they did.
I’ve covered Polish startups for almost a decade innokin disrupter, first on TechCrunch and then on a new blog I helped create, ImpactCEE. It was my mission – as it was Poland’s – to show the world that this central European country was a liberal, open, and capable society able to produce some of the best software in the world. I’ve seen the ecosystem grow from a small, suspicious group of former cubicle warriors into a vibrant and exciting scene with multiple accelerators and funds vying for startups. Even the problem of capital seemed to be solved with the creation of a €630 million fund aimed directly at growth and innovation inside the country.
Now that growth is in danger of being destroyed.
I saw the first inklings of a trouble when, at an event dinner in Krakow, a government official stood up and said, in translation, that he invited foreign startup experts to the country but warned, ominously, that he wanted to take their best ideas and innovate past them. This nationalist gumbo, while popular with the country’s aging post-Communist population Health Cabin Discount Code, does nothing for the young entrepreneur who has to decide whether to stay in Warsaw, Wroclaw, or Krakow or simply leave to work for a tech giant in a more stable country.
Now the Polish government is working diligently to secure power for the Prawo i Sprawiedliwo?? party, an increasingly nationalist and religiously-minded political group that appeals to the Poles born during Communism and who remember the "good old days” of food shortages, rationing, and martial law. This party is anathema to the entrepreneurial class. Now the party essentially wants to reform the judicial branch in favor of PiS in order to ensure complete control of the federal government.
"The Polish government has continued to pursue legislation that appears to undermine judicial independence and weaken the rule of law in Poland,” wrote a US State Department representative. "We urge all sides to ensure that any judicial reform does not violate Poland’s constitution or international legal obligations and respects the principles of judicial independence and separation of powers.”
Poland was a beacon that arose from the ashes of World War II and into the chill of the Cold War. It survived pogroms, strikes, third-world status, and, finally, bolted out, panting, into the 21st century. It survived and thrived. All that could change overnight.
If PiS does not stop its efforts to pull Poland backwards it will become a visible example of another failed state torn down by fear Hybrid Cloud, anger, and nationalism.
I reprint below a letter from a number of major figures in the Polish entrepreneurial scene who are, without a doubt, the future of this country. These are her best and brightest and if they see that their homeland is falling backwards they will give up, erasing a decade of amazing growth. There is no hope without forward motion and there is no change without freedom. Without the support of the innovative class, Poland will fall back into ruin and rubble.
Warsaw, July 21st 2017
President of the Republic of Poland

Posted by: hongqigong2015 at 06:11 AM | No Comments | Add Comment
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