Archive for the ‘Culture’ Category

Frontier Academia

December 21, 2012

So a teacher carries a gun to his classroom and a student carries a gun to his classroom. What kind of teaching environment is this anyway?

Nope, it is not Somalia or the Congo I am talking about.

The state of Missouri legislators, in their infinite wisdom (or infinite serfdom to the gun lobby rather), are introducing a bill that allows teachers and students to carry weapons in schools and on any university campus.

Teaching by intimidation and fear?  You’d- better- undertand- what- I am- saying- or- else pedagogy? We’ll see how long before this pedagogical approach at the “frontiers” of educational innovation leads to a tragedy.

I guess we shouldnt be surprised at anything anymore. Our government sent troops all the way to Iraq to teach democracy with “not so-smart” bombs, tanks, and jet fighters. And it has been, shall we say, an education.


O’Reilly’s own show proves Maher’s point

December 28, 2011


Bill O’Reilly: Do you feel comfortable saying…. you American people…. most of you are dunderheads?… You denigrate their religious beliefs…

Bill Maher: I do.

O’Reilly pretends in the referenced video  that he doubts Maher’s claims about  the intellectual state of most Americans.

Maher had the perfect proof for his statements: O’Reilly’s fact free, propagandistic television show has the highest rating of any political talk show on cable television. I don’t know how this point eluded the usually quick-witted Maher.

I have to sadly admit that statistics  is a pretty damning evidence that the majority of our population lags behind in the critical thinking department; at least  vis-a-vis religion or politics .


The good Catholic and the pothead

December 2, 2011

When the secretary at work told me that her friend and her fiance are moving into the house across the street from mine, my mind kept wondering about the smirk she had on her face while telling me this.  Finally she dropped the bomb.

“But they smoke weeds”, she said.  She waited a few seconds to assess my reaction before adding with a multifaceted laugh: ” you know, they’re potheads” .

I shrugged.  I keep to myself usually and, to the extent that I care who my neighbors are at all, I only worry about whether they’re quiet or not. 

Not until they actually knocked on my door one night, dressed elegantly and smelling luscious, that is.  “Here is our phone number”, they said politely, “in case we get loud tonight. We’re having a graduation party. We’re graduating from college. You’re welcome to attend too!”

Wow! That was a far cry from what I had in mind about potheads. And it wasn’t the only far cry caused by my neighbors; well my next door good catholic couple neighbors this time!  

They practically live in church. I never see much of them. They leave envelopes at my door soliciting donations for one cause or another. And just to be neighborly, I usually oblige.

One time, after a hard day at work, I saw their kind of envelopes at my door, and I began calculating how much money I can spare this time.

Not so fast!

It turned out that it was a scathing note threatening me with court action if I did not remove the bags of leaves I spent the weekend  raking. The bags were too much for the “goodness” of my pious neighbors, I guess.

I waved back at the cheerful face of my pothead neighbor and continued reading.

“Everything is alright neighbor?”, the pothead said smiling. 

 “It is just fall again  and nature is showing its true color”, I said, smiling back.

I wadded the note and put it in one of the bags.


The alternate universe we created

November 26, 2011

Whose story gets to be told and whose story gets forgotten?

Was Troy Davis a murderer as the state of Virginia claims? Or did Virginia execute an innocent man?

Is the history we’re writing and the history we have learned truth or fiction?

Today, our government claimed we killed many insurgents in Afghanistan– a story we’ve been told on a regular basis this past decade. There is another version of this story that is all but forgotten.  Afghani citizens said seven children were killed by the drone attack today. And this story line has been suppressed for the past decade.

Is history such a huge lie of “historical” proportion that  we might as well be living in an alternate universe? And   in the end does it really matter?

Are we a force of good that rushes to spread democracy and freedom around the world — our government’s story? Or are we a selfish force of evil that is surreptitiously  empowering dictators such as Egypt’s Mubarak, Yemen’s Saleh, and the rest of the brutal tyrants around the globe, as most people in those countries believe– again, their version of the story is all  but forgotten?

I have always wondered: How many true and genuine narratives get buried under piles of  disingenuous and distorted versions– versions dictated by the powers in charge– and the world may never know about it.

And if that is the case, are we as a species  progressing for the better?


Kick the Pharisees out of the temple

October 19, 2011

They have literally bought the White House and the Congress.

They have turned what used to be a representative democracy into a bazar.

 They have given bank robbery a whole new meaning, and they have robbed every one of us, literally.

Lets kick those pharisees out of the temple.

Long live “Occupy Wall Street” movement!




This is my slogan for the “Occupy Wall Street” movement.


Islam and the housing bubble

October 16, 2011

“Unprecedented global emergency ” we’re being warned.  Everyone  should be on code red alert! Islam is posing an existential threat to the West.

This is not coming from a raving lunatic of the tea-party variety. It is being spewed out by our intellectual elites who got their education at our elite institutions.

You get the sense that every problem from running away health care cost, to the vast inequality gap afflicting us, to the tax cuts for the rich, to the burst of the housing bubble, or even the filibuster rule in the senate, are somehow caused by Islam.

The West has caused enough existential threats to the whole world including itself. It does not need the help of Islam in that department.  The latest threat  is still unfolding in front of our eyes in the form of massive economic  meltdown all over the globe. You have to admit this is good old greed and hegemony of the Western culture  variety, among other esteemed Western values.

Islam did not wage the crusades against the holly places in Europe.

Islam did not start the inquisitions nor did it cause the religious wars in Europe.

Islam did not cause World War I, the Great Depression, World War II. Nor did it drop two atomic bombs on Japan.

Islam did not cause the holocaust.

Islam did not start the Vietnam war.

Islam surely is not responsible for the record level of children living in poverty in the US. Nor is it responsible for the obscene bonuses raked in by our elite bankers, and most certainly it did not bail out Wall Street and cause the unemployment to jump to 10%.

Scapegoating can only take you so far.


Beethoven’s Romance No. 2, a cello, and two blonds

October 9, 2011

She hugged her cello passionately may be like a lover, may be like a mother, as if it was her first, or may be her last hug.

She swooned.  Her head waved ever so slightly, as Beethoven’s divine revelations lifted her soul to magical zones few of her audience ever visited.

She shut her eyes tightly to see farther (deep blue eyes shaded with layers of heavenly melodies revealed by Gods with troubled souls) as she  felt the sign of the conductor. Her silky strings of gold, cascading down her right shoulder, sparkled as her impish fingers gracefully caressed her cello’s strings.

The blond in front of my seat started  curling a wisp of her shoulder-length hair with her index finger.  And…… Beethoven’s Romance No. 2 had never been more magical; I’d never been so close to God that I  actually felt him in my tears.

At Saint Joseph symphony’s opening night,   Gods murmured, muses whispered,  and it was a divine pleasure for the senses.  Corners in my soul I never knew existed had awakened. The blonds and the cello were etched in the leaves of my heart.

As I walked out of the theater, I wondered: Could people in this country, in their drive for ill-targeted budget cuts, zeal to fund wars and other imperial enterprises, and the capitulation to the lizard part of their brains, let one of our race’s finest and most humanistic legacies die?

The blonds and the cello fill me with hope that the answer is pleasantly magical!


A New Age God

September 11, 2011

How could we not doubt the very foundations of our Western culture?

I’ll spare you an exercise in walking down memory lane to the horror of WWI, WWII and before.

When astonishingly smart people from amazingly accomplished Western civilizations get herded to one war after another at the snap of a finger from the likes of G. W. Bush and Obama without so much as a meaningful objection, there is something fundamentally wrong in the basic principles of the culture. 

When the world is dominated by self-glorifying righteous elites that cannibalize the weak and grant free pass to the poweful, there is something eerily wrong in this world.

A world guided by the  bottom line  and self-interest, whose elite class’s only job is to justify the whims of its governments and powerful factions,  no matter how unjust, is not progressing for the better.

How valuable is war in the eyes of the “civilized Nations”?

Extremely so! More so than it was for our stone age ancestors.

So valuable that it was fought on credit by the USA and its allies for the first time in history!

So valuable that, in no small measures, it plunged the USA and almost the whole world in devastating economic hardships for the past four years, and we’re still embracing it.

It is more valuable than healing the sick, feeding the hungry,  educating the young.

It is more valuable than giving honest people the dignity of a decent job.

Most egregiously, it is more valuable than the millions of innocent lives lost at the altar of this new age God of ours.

This God for which  we obediently go hungry , kill and impoverish ourselves.

How could we look at such civilizations, their colossal technological achievements not withstanding, and be proud of ourselves?

More importantly, how could we not doubt the very basic foundations of our culture?


The mystery of food labels

July 24, 2011

What is on your dinner plate?

Wild-caught salmon or wild salmon?

Free range chicken or cage free chicken?

Are there no nitrites/nitrates in the processed meat you’re eating or is it sodium nitrate/nitrite-free?

Is your bread slice whole wheat or is it made with whole wheat?

If you feel confused, well may be for a good reason. The EWG prepared a list solving  the mysteries and uncovering the chicanery the food corporations are throwing your way.

One has to wonder though: Why is it easier to do algebra than actually decipher food labels? Why do food labels have to be so convoluted that they may as well be written in hieroglyphics or  dictated by Allen Greenspan? Why do they lack transparency more so than the Obama Administration? And why do food corporations get away with it all?

Whatever it is, it is certainly not  because corporations  are known for altruism or they’re inherently a force of good in our lives.


Two-tier justice system

July 18, 2011

” What had destroyed nations before you was that when the powerful stole they let him go and when the weak stole they punished him”

                                             Imam Ali, a seventh Century Arabic leader

It is ominous when justice starts seeing with one eye. 

Millions of people lost their homes, their retirement funds, and their jobs, not to mention their dignity. New generations are going to be saddled with debts for the rest of their lives.

How many bankers, who  every one agrees caused this economic meltdown, got charged of fraud or wrongdoing of any kind, let alone convicted ? Answer: Zero!

In fact, federal officials are encouraging states prosecutors not to press charges against any banker. Rather, they’re pushing for settlements. A grand total of $30 billion  when they had swindled families across the globe out of trillions of dollars, not to mention the tremendous suffering toll.