The long read: After the military victory, Vietnam’s socialist model began to collapse. Cut off by US-led trade embargos and denied reconstruction aid, it plunged into poverty. Now its economy is booming – but so is inequality and corruption
I’ve always been completely fascinated by the Capetian dynasty. A family whose rule started in 987, dominated for five centuries and still has royals to this day in Grand Duke Henri of Luxembourg and on the throne with King Felipe VI of Spain.
In the USA, when royalty is mentioned it is something that belongs in the past, that isn’t a part of modern times. Yet, just a quick look around the world and royalty is not dead, it still holds sway and power in many parts of the world!
It is very interesting to see that Princess Cristina of Spain, also of the Capetian line is now on trial for tax evasion along with her husband. Apparently the masses and hordes of unwashed have finally put royalty in the corner. How this would simply be unthinkable just a short three hundred years ago!! How rude and vulgar those Spanish judges must be to question a royal! Apparently, their small and feeble minds cannot comprehend that royals are a better sort of people and should not be subject to the laws of lesser people.
Here in the USA we do not have royalty but the same sort of mentality persists. Instead of royalty one simply needs to be extremely rich or perhaps in politics to rise above and consider oneself over the rude and unclean common folk. It is quite apparent in the attitudes and behaviors of those that drive BMW cars here in California. It is as if once one purchases a BMW a dark spell washes over them and they become a dark one.
And this is not just my opinion. The San Francisco Chronicle was kind enough to write an article on the subject.
I’ve gotten off track. I’m still captivated by the Capetian dynasty and am looking forward to learning more about them, even if I’m a small minded peasant.
Just finished watching The Interview as as usual for this blog I won’t be rehashing the same themes splashed all over current news.
In short I did laugh at a few parts but on the overall found it just the same old crude high school humor fart joke type of movie that Hollywood continues to spew out. Say something about boners, maybe even show a boner, try to be even raunchier than the previous movies, yes, this is American exceptionalism at its best.
I don’t see why the DPRK should feel threatened since it is movies like this that show exactly how decadent America has become. They could turn it around and use it as propaganda!
Now, what really stood out for me was their mentioning of SEAL Team Six. Mentioning this team is a testament to American’s severe case of attention deficit disorder and extremely short memory. The fact is that the famous members of SEAL Team Six are all dead except (as far as I know) the one who wrote a tell all memoir Matt Bissonnette. And there was even a line in the movie where the protagonist tells the CIA he will make a tell all memoir!
To mention this team where the members are mostly dead in a movie whose main assets are dick jokes seems extremely disrespectful. It is as though there are absolutely no boundaries left when it comes to American “entertainment.”
And furthermore, the story of these dead SEALS has become one of the fastest non-stories I can think of in my life. One minute they are the most celebrated guys in the USA and the next minute they are dead with barely a whisper in the news. Check out this news article: Families suspect SEAL Team 6 crash was inside job…
I’m not one for conspiracy theories but there are just so many incidents these days that don’t add up and oh look, there is a picture of a cat!
That is what the internet and media have come to. A massive amount of stupid information aimed at the masses. In Internet terms the entire internet and media consuming public is getting DDoS’d on a 24 hour basis with packets of junk. It is simply impossible to maintain a connection and concentrate on what is actually important.
On a side note I think I’m the only one I know of who has actually received a post card from North Korea. One of my old classmates was going there as part of a cultural/academic exchange and I donated a few dollars to be used to donate school supplies to the North Korean school children. They sent me a postcard straight from Pyongyang which I think is pretty cool.
Another very long dry spell with no posts! The reason is simply that I now have two kids instead of one. With one kid you’re still afforded a modicum of free time, yet with two, the concept of 100% individual free time no longer exists.
Today I read an article in the New Yorker regarding the nomination of Samantha Power. As usual when seeking public office she had to disavow things she had said in the past which would hurt her chances of getting nominated. This really struck a chord with me as a fine example of how we really cannot express our true thoughts and opinions in public space, especially in a world where everything is increasingly being recorded. The pressure to conform, to self filter and to keep quiet has become great even for those not seeking public office.
As for me, I created this blog to be able to express my own opinions and thoughts without reservation. Perhaps another reason I haven’t posted in a long while is that I too am self filtering, afraid to jump into the pool and create waves. Perhaps it is because I’m getting older and cautiousness is a side effect of getting older.
Fortunately, I do have a principle to help me find my way back and that is to always be true to myself and my own ideas, no matter what other people think. Those that retract their ideas, or modify them in a way to be more acceptable to the masses do so because they want something, there is something to be gained by changing their views. As for me, I have nothing to gain and there is nothing I want except to express my views. It may seem absurd to some but one of my main role models is Don Quixote. He may seem crazy to everyone else but he is not afraid to live a life the way he believes to be best and express his own views. When we boil it all down he just wants to make the world a better place and I think in such a decadent culture that we have now we could use a little Don Quixote.
Therefore, I too have decided to do something a little risky and that is to comment on Ferguson and the overall uproar regarding what appears to be a race issue. I also plan to be very brief. After all, I just want to record my own thoughts, there is no sense in trying to convince anyone as opinions in this are pretty much set in stone.
My personal opinion is that if a cop tells you to do something you do it. You don’t shout, fight back, run or do anything else, you do what the cop says. When you don’t do what the cop says you’re inviting trouble.
In both cases that currently have the country in an uproar the victim did not do what the police told them to do and bad things happened.
Yes, they did not deserve to die and there certainly could have been better ways of handling the situations. However, if a person with a gun tells me to do something chances are I probably won’t be fighting back unless the situation was dire. Cops are human beings and although highly trained may react in slightly different ways, especially when under pressure. And cops are under pressure a LOT since they have to constantly deal with the scum of society.
What is also not being discussed is the extremely high crime rate of African American males. It just follows that the cops are going to interact with African Americans and thus the probably of bad incidents occurring is therefore higher. To put this in glaring perspective, when was the last time there was an uproar about a cop shooting an Asian and then all the Asians rioted? There wasn’t.
But being someone who really tries to understand the other side I really try to understand the anger and to be honest, I’m not able to understand it since I’m not African American. So I asked my longtime friend from childhood who is both African American and a cop.
His response, unsurprisingly was that there must be personal responsibility. When a cop tells you to do something you do it.
Being my usual liberal self I argued that due to the injustices of the past the African American community has certain problems that other racial groups do not face. I quoted a highly respected black professor (forget name, university) who said that the struggles continue because black people really have only been regarded as “people” in the USA since the late 1960s. When they were slaves they were not people at all, then after slavery an inferior people, then with MLK finally became full people. Yet since there have only been 40-50 years of being “full people” there is a lot of catching up to do and problems.
Well, my buddy didn’t buy it. He asked me “What color and I.” I responded “Is this a trick question?” He then went back to personal responsibility. If people are not held accountable for their actions then society will not function. In this case, do not fight the cops because without the cops many, many neighborhoods all across the nation would turn into war zones and anyone who denies this is dreaming.
And as for personal responsibility, when we are angry at the system the worst response is to burn down and attack our own neighborhoods. That response only makes things worse as businesses, jobs and upstanding people will want to move away. Peaceful protests have been shown to work but what am I seeing on the news in Berkeley and Oakland? I’m seeing thugs attacking people and looting.
Personal responsibility – get some.
It has occurred to me that the proof for human evolution is right in front of our eyes.
One of my favorite places to think is in the sauna at my gym. The endorphins from the exercise have saturated my brain so I’m naturally high, and the heat makes me quickly relax as the sweat pours out of me. It is at this transition between a hard, intensive workout and deep relaxation that wonderful insights will often present themselves.
This gym has its amenities that include not only the sauna, but a pool, Jacuzzi and steam bath as well so it is quite popular with a very diverse group of people. It also happens to be located very close to San Francisco one of the most diverse places on the planet. Young, old, fat, thin, Chinese, Japanese, Greek, Persian, Spanish speakers, French speakers, there is no limit on the diversity found there. It is a veritable Galapagos of human specimen contained on three levels and 55,000 square feet.
Now in order for living and irrefutable proof of human evolution one must simply do the following.
Go into the men’s locker room at my gym and open your eyes.
Boom! There before you, is living walking proof of evolution while it dries itself off, applies deodorant, takes a dump and combs its hair.
Not to be rude and trying to be as genteel as I can, the best evidence lies in the last noun of the previous sentence. Hair.
When you enter a locker room with an incredibly diverse array of men you will see hair, and a lot of it. Hair will be in places it shouldn’t be, like on the tops of feet. There will often be more hair running down the back than on the tops of heads! Sometimes the hair is so plentiful on the torso it is as though they might be wearing a very poorly knitted sweater!
The image of man we most commonly see before us in a gym locker room (or any changing area for that matter) could not be farther from the more classical male portrayal best represented Michelangelo’s David. If one had never seen the nude male form before, was first shown a picture of David, then an image of one of the hairier specimens from my gym’s locker room, they could easily be forgiven for not believing the two examples are representations of the same species.
The battlefield for this debate on evolution lies in the classroom. There are monumentous debates among the states as to how the history and scientific books should be worded in regards to evolution vs other ‘theories.’ But just as Darwin emerged from his study and traveled afar for proof of his idea, our young people too engage in ‘field trips’ to further solidify and provide actual proof of what they have learned.
As my gym locker room is a paradise of living, breathing scientific proof, yet undiscovered by the academic community I propose we arrange ‘field trips’ for the most mature of our young scholars. What they will see is indeed shocking, but true science isn’t for the faint of heart! Just march those wide eyed students right on through the middle from the door to the shower and back out again. Let them pause to scribble down a few notes, snap a couple of pictures and gather undeniable evidence for consumption by the outside world. Let the realization that we are indeed descended from the apes sink in right before their own eyes in all its musty, odoriferous and fuzzy glory!
A revolution is at hand my friends. It should have occurred a century ago at the Galapagos islands but nobody lives near the Galapagos islands so how could we be absolutely sure this wasn’t some anti-religious plot to confuse the faithful? Well friends, my gym is in Daly City near San Francisco. And San Francisco is a place everyone wants to visit if they haven’t already. Perhaps in addition to field trips we could also make my gym’s locker room a stop on the big bus open top tour line! Surely then everyone would then see for themselves and the case for evolution will disseminate far and wide as they return to their home countries!
Science is so exciting especially when new discoveries are made that completely overturn long held beliefs!
A revolution indeed!
As I ate lunch today I was thinking about what ‘God’ may say to us should he manifest himself and look around.
I think he might wonder how human beings have twisted their thinking so much that they believe it God’s will to kill other human beings and to do it in God’s name!
For the religious person, God created everything so what would give a person the right to kill another of God’s own creations? In the eyes of a supreme being wouldn’t this be the height of arrogance? And furthermore, the religious books are quite specific when they say “Thou shalt not kill.” I mean it is only one sentence and short sentence at that! It would be rather hard to analyze this sentence and the four words that comprise it to arrive at an interpretation that means the opposite!
Yet, the three majors, Christians, Muslims and Jews simply cannot get the most important commandment through their collective heads!
If the religions could not do this correctly then why should anyone pay even a moments attention to all the other nonsense they’ve spewn forth throughout the ages?
Finally, this thought just suddenly entered my head. I believe it might actually be a miracle because I was eating pizza and thinking about painting when this thought suddenly barged in and implored me to write it down! By God this might have been a mystical experience, a vision such as the Saints have had in the days of old!
Perhaps God has revealed his will through me!
“Let’s start over; the only commandment shall be; Thou shalt not kill. That’s it, once you can get that right we can worry about all the other stuff. Just concentrate on that and in your services to me, just repeat it for 45 minutes. You can sing it, mumble it, give a homily about it, but only repeat this over and over, nothing else. When the call to prayer echos over the rooftops say nothing else but that. Jews – what you call Kavanah, just put those four words in the center of it, nothing else.”
Very clear direction there. Unfortunately given humanities track record I would imagine the following will happen:
- They will forget it in the next 5 minutes
- They will find a way to interpret it with the opposite meaning
- By some miracle the killing will stop, but then people will be imprisoned, or perhaps tourtured, or perhaps interrogated by enhanced methods if they happen to be in the USA.
Then we will have to wait another 3,000 years for God to intervene again. Or maybe his instructions will come through a vision or mystical experience as it was known in the old days but whose name and definition has changed in modern times and can be found in a copy of Psychiatry Today.
While reading my Lapham’s Quarterly I came across the “Requerimiento” (Requirement). This was a written declaration of sovereignty and war, read by Spanish military forces to assert their sovereignty over the Americas.
“It was used to justify the assertion that God, through historical Saint Peter and appointed Papal successors, held authority as ruler over the entire Earth; and that the Inter CaeteraPapal Bull, of 4 May 1493 by Pope Alexander VI, conferred title over all the Americas to the Spanish monarchs. The Requerimiento probably had its origins as early as the 8th century in the Dawah messages sent to non-Muslim nations by Arab conquerors, demanding that their recipients submit to Islamic rule (see Aslim Taslam).“
History repeats itself indeed! The ISIS is taking a page from the Conquistadors who most likely took a page from 8th century Arabs! So much for religion being about peace, love and not killing people.
The Christians might say that this was during a more primitive time so it is unfair to compare. My response to that would be another question. Wouldn’t the teachings of the Bible be universal and timeless since it is supposedly the word of God? Therefore, the only answer could be it is man’s understanding of scriptures that have changed. Yes, the Western nations still make war but in all fairness I do not see any “Christian” armies marauding around, trying to take over more land and threatening people to either convert or die. The Christians already went through that phase back with the Inquisition over 200 years ago.
I do however see “Muslim” groups marauding all over the place and killing people. The elite clerics of various countries stress that this is not Islam and these groups should be condemned. It is hard to say this is not a characteristic of Islam when it keeps repeating itself over and over again. Extremist groups are a concentrated version of the overall religion and belief just as condensed milk is an extreme version of cow’s milk. And when I look around I do not see even the extremely concentrated versions of Christianity beheading people.
- “On behalf of the King, Don Fernando, and of Doña Juana I, his daughter, Queen of Castille and León, subduers of the barbarous nations, we their servants notify and make known to you, as best we can, that the Lord our God, Living and Eternal, created the Heaven and the Earth, and one man and one woman, of whom you and we, all the men of the world at the time, were and are descendants, and all those who came after and before us. But, on account of the multitude which has sprung from this man and woman in the five thousand years since the world was created, it was necessary that some men should go one way and some another, and that they should be divided into many kingdoms and provinces, for in one alone they could not be sustained.
- Of all these nations God our Lord gave charge to one man, called St. Peter, that he should be Lord and Superior of all the men in the world, that all should obey him, and that he should be the head of the whole Human Race, wherever men should live, and under whatever law, sect, or belief they should be; and he gave him the world for his kingdom and jurisdiction.
- And he commanded him to place his seat in Rome, as the spot most fitting to rule the world from; but also he permitted him to have his seat in any other part of the world, and to judge and govern all Christians, Moors, Jews, Gentiles, and all other Sects. This man was called Pope, as if to say, Admirable Great Father and Governor of men. The men who lived in that time obeyed that St. Peter, and took him for Lord, King, and Superior of the universe; so also they have regarded the others who after him have been elected to the pontificate, and so has it been continued even till now, and will continue till the end of the world.
- One of these Pontiffs, who succeeded that St. Peter as Lord of the world, in the dignity and seat which I have before mentioned, made donation of these isles and Tierra-firme to the aforesaid King and Queen and to their successors, our lords, with all that there are in these territories, as is contained in certain writings which passed upon the subject as aforesaid, which you can see if you wish.
- So their Highnesses are kings and lords of these islands and land of Tierra-firme by virtue of this donation: and some islands, and indeed almost all those to whom this has been notified, have received and served their Highnesses, as lords and kings, in the way that subjects ought to do, with good will, without any resistance, immediately, without delay, when they were informed of the aforesaid facts. And also they received and obeyed the priests whom their Highnesses sent to preach to them and to teach them our Holy Faith; and all these, of their ownfree will, without any reward or condition, have become Christians, and are so, and their Highnesses have joyfully and benignantly received them, and also have commanded them to be treated as their subjects and vassals; and you too are held and obliged to do the same. Wherefore, as best we can, we ask and require you that you consider what we have said to you, and that you take the time that shall be necessary to understand and deliberate upon it, and that you acknowledge the Church as the Ruler and Superior of the whole world, and the high priest called Pope, and in his name the King and Queen Doña Juana our lords, in his place, as superiors and lords and kings of these islands and this Tierra-firme by virtue of the said donation, and that you consent and give place that these religious fathers should declare and preach to you the aforesaid.
- If you do so, you will do well, and that which you are obliged to do to their Highnesses, and we in their name shall receive you in all love and charity, and shall leave you, your wives, and your children, and your lands, free without servitude, that you may do with them and with yourselves freely that which you like and think best, and they shall not compel you to turn Christians, unless you yourselves, when informed of the truth, should wish to be converted to our Holy Catholic Faith, as almost all the inhabitants of the rest of the islands have done. And, besides this, their Highnesses award you many privileges and exemptions and will grant you many benefits.
- But, if you do not do this, and maliciously make delay in it, I certify to you that, with the help of God, we shall powerfully enter into your country, and shall make war against you in all ways and manners that we can, and shall subject you to the yoke and obedience of the Church and of their Highnesses; we shall take you and your wives and your children, and shall make slaves of them, and as such shall sell and dispose of them as their Highnesses may command; and we shall take away your goods, and shall do you all the mischief and damage that we can, as to vassals who do not obey, and refuse to receive their lord, and resist and contradict him; and we protest that the deaths and losses which shall accrue from this are your fault, and not that of their Highnesses, or ours, nor of these cavaliers who come with us. And that we have said this to you and made this Requisition, we request the notary here present to give us his testimony in writing, and we ask the rest who are present that they should be witnesses of this Requisition.”
- ——–Update 10.6.2014——————–
- I always enjoy when after I’ve written a post on some thought or idea, a mainstream publication also writes an article on that same idea. It lets me know that my ideas are not that far off and I’m not completely crazy.
- AlJazeera posted Confidence men and their masquerade which compares ISIS to the Spanish Inquisition. To be honest, I think my comparison with the conquistadors is more on the mark but the Inquisition and fanaticism of the Conquistadors are one and the same so I won’t split any hairs.
I was watching the news this morning and they went to a live feed where Dr. Kent Brantly survived the Ebola virus and is going to be released from the hospital.
It is wonderful that he has survived and he is very courageous going into an extremely dangerous zone to try and help people.
In his speech this morning he gave much praise to God and said his recovery is directly related to God’s intervention as a result from all the prayers.
I found it curious that a doctor would thank God for a cure more so than the drugs and treatment so I looked up the organization he works for and it is called Samaritans Purse which of course is a Christian organization. I’m not very familiar with them but for any group that goes into dangerous situations in order to help people is worthy of the highest praise.
Perhaps this belief in a divine being that directly intervenes in our lives as the result of prayer is worth something since it does cause humans to act kindly and try to help people even when it puts their own lives at risk. I would imagine that without this belief people would be a lot less willing to put their own lives at risk to help others. I’m sure many still would but I think it would net out negatively if everyone suddenly stopped believing in God.
As for my own opinion about God should he exist I think he is doing an absolutely terrible job since he has let 1200 Africans die of Ebola but decided to save Dr. Bradley. Perhaps nobody prayed for all those Africans or they didn’t pray intensively enough? Perhaps Africans don’t given enough money to the church and thus God deems them unworthy of saving?
Apologies, it just infuriates me to see people praising God and giving him credit for helping one person when many hundreds have died from the same disease.
God – You’re doing an awful job and I humbly request a new one as soon as possible.
At the gym today I had the misfortune to look up at the t.v. which was tuned to CNN. They were covering the Israeli invasion and my blood started to boil.
It appears an Israeli soldier was taken hostage and it was being called a “game changer.”
I absolutely detest the way Americans describe war in terms of a sporting event. But perhaps it is fitting as American media continually roots for one team which is Israel while trying to justify the worst atrocities.
I wonder how many children were killed by Israel today. I’m sure there must be some good reason like Hamas was hiding very ineffective missiles there which mostly are intercepted by their much touted Iron Dome anyway. Seems like a perfectly good reason to kill those little Arabs. I wonder what the accepted Israeli ratio is in terms of dead children to a discovered missile cache or tunnel. Is the discovery of another tunnel worth 10 dead children? 20? Perhaps one tunnel is worth unlimited dead children to Israel?
I’ve seen too many articles these past weeks trying to justify dead kids. Most of the articles put the blame on Hamas which is certainly accurate. Hamas is vile. But the fact remains that the damage Hamas inflicts on Israel is negligent. The damage Israel inflicts on Gaza is obscene.
I find this would be a good time for a quote.
Out of our memory…of the Holocaust we must forge an unshakable oath with all civilized people that never again will the world stand silent, never again will the world…fail to act in time to prevent this terrible crime of genocide….we must harness the outrage of our own memories to stamp out oppression wherever it exists. We must understand that human rights and human dignity are indivisible.
Well apparently this quote is moot when the shoe is on the other foot now isn’t it. Gaza looks pretty much like a concentration camp to seeing as the inhabitants cannot leave and the Israelis are doing their best to kill as many as possible. Yes yes, please tell me how they call and warn the residents they are going to come blow up their house only to throw a shell right on the UN school.
Another event in sporting news is that an Israeli soldier was captured and the American media referred to it as “a game changer.” So let me understand this. Over 1500 dead Gazans with a good portion of that being children is not a game changer but one captured Israeli is?
What do you think happens in a war? What do soldiers do in wars? They kill people! It seems entirely reasonable to me that the Gazans might want to do as much harm as possible to the Israeli soldiers wouldn’t they?
So while I was at the gym they showed this Israeli soldiers picture about 15 times in 45 minutes. Please take a guess how many dead Gazan children they showed.
Well, maybe I could just look up the carnage Israel is unleashing on the internet?
Nope!!! Blocked, censored, not allowed! We can only see the image of the captured Israeli over and over and over. No Palestinian dead children allowed please. Nothing to see here.
Here in the US you simply cannot say anything bad against Israeli if you happen to be a politician or in the media. The tentacles of Israel reach deeply into this country and have a stranglehold.
These tentacles run so deep that Israel can commit the most horrible atrocities and the US will not only continue to justify the reasons but fund the bombs that kill these children as well? Why? Because America has a fucking ‘special relationship’ with Israel. Aka, Israel has the US sucking its dick.
And how will all of this play out? Will this latest genocide bring peace to the region and turn all the Gazans into Israel supporters? I think not. Yes, who wouldn’t love a country or race that killed not only someone’s entire family but all the neighbors as well. Hey, after all they sent a memo it was coming didn’t they?
“the North feels the clip, which shows Kim dancing and Kung-Fu fighting, ‘seriously compromises Kim’s dignity and authority.'”