Posts in category Culture
A few associates and I are having a gun conversation; as the entire nation is at this time. I think there are some valid ideas the might be flushed out in policy creation. The content of this letter is a longer read, so I would like to start with a summary of the main thoughts-
- Take the Big Government argument out of the equation and provide a competing lobby to the NRA.
- Set some standards and requirements in gun ownership,
- Identify ways to have peers take the keys away from the “drunk drivers” (mentally unfit),
- Include a base cost lf gun ownership and incrementally increase the Expense Vs. Risk equation.
An obvious comparison of guns to other objects of danger often arises, and I think automobile analogies are best in this conversation, where it is a dangerous object causing many deaths each year. Additionally it is a good comparator because as a nation we have constructive conversations about auto policy and public duty in an atmosphere largely devoid of partisan positioning, as opposed to any discussion of guns.
I also think it is fair to complain that it is not the object that kills but the operator, and that mental fitness is the core element of responsible operation of either guns or vehicles.
The debate is most certainly about mental health, the cause is not the gun, but it is also about population density and in a sense… opportunity. We live in a world that is so connected virtually and so disconnected emotionally/physically. One example of school tragedies in China is a fine example of a similar terror, certainly effective horror in that school children are defenseless against insanity… but the analogy stops there as this could not happen in a movie theatre. After 911 I think our entire nation is willing to jump on top of one man with a knife to save the rest. In any case, what we have a nation of Monday morning DB’s and those with guns saying the equivalent of “I wish that happened to me” (see http://www.jokebuddha.com/joke/Southern_Justice).
So let’s not be so black and white and hyperbolic in our argument- we don’t need to say yes/no to guns. Management however is not easy- mental health is not clear, it is not even really understood, more over it requires continuous contact and feedback to monitor. When associated with potential mass violence it is simply not feasible given the number of guns and owners… mental health is not as discrete and manageable as objects with serial numbers and manufacturing dates.
There is an expense our society is paying by allowing a virtually unregulated gun trade and it should not be paid by all of the citizens of the country; it should not be paid in the terms of unaccountability to those who loose loved ones; it should not be paid at the stress and expense of our protection officers. We have evidence that the weapons industry is not self regulating, that the nation has disparate systems undermined by a myriad of policy, enforcement, and funding… obstructions and it is time to make some cohesion in the way we manage all of these issues.
The 2nd amendment is an argument that comes up. There is always interpretation and how that interpretation is set depends upon the conditions and time for which you live. Our forefathers created a document with as much divine influence as they could muster. In a contentious argumentative environment they came up with a work to be admired 200+ years later (Not Bad!). How could they conceive that neighbors would not physically talk to each other? How could they conceive that the publicly available musket could be modified to fire 1000 rounds a minute of armor piercing, projectile tumbling/flesh exploding- bullets?
2nd amendment- Well regulated militias: If a group of enthusiasts want to get together, practice defense against tyrants and blow stuff-up ROCK-ON! Can I come for a weekend?
· How else can we get people to understand and respect the equipment they are using but by having a group of serious and experienced people inculcate a proper weapons mystique to the newbie’s (insert respect + favorite child hunting story here! But lets not confuse this with the need to take an AR-15 deer hunting this weapon is not designed to preserve the maximum edible flesh). Socialization is a critical aspect of developing moral bearings in life and it is a powerful on the ground perspective when individuals are getting out of line.
· The public at large is not well regulated sets of militias!
· There needs to be a PR effort that gets individuals to recognize that no militia group is going to resist the tyranny of the government in any practical way that does not include defection of the army or support of a foreign power (ex. Egypt, Libya Vs. Syria). . The system of militias cannot be allowed to support armed subversive groups of HATE!. Not prejudism, secession, anti-tax (Whiskey Rebellion), wacko Waco Texas stuff. Sure that is impossible to prevent stuff like that from starting, just like it is impossible for people with strong opinions from building coalitions in churches and mosques, but there may be a need to “disband” such a militia (ex. in Michigan). Also there are environmental and safety concerns which need to be addressed- what is done on private property (blowing up tanks of fuel etc.) causes damage to the water air and wildlife, which others enjoy. We are one nation under god and as such we have a duty to all citizens.
-2nd amendment- Keep and Bare arms: To Keep- means to own. I keep my car in a garage; I keep my family heirloom diamond in bank safety deposit box. Keep does not mean that a citizen must have to have immediate access to a weapon capable of “taking-out” multiple targets at distance.
o Also, I really don’t care about the definition or type of weapon if, we are managing “opportunity” for damage in the right way. There is nothing in the text that says citizens do not need to have licenses for different types of ammunition or “Arms”… we restrict explosives based on such a system we could do the same with ammunition. There is nothing in the text that says weapons cannot be securely stored in a way that would prevent you from access when in an unfit frame of mind. i.e. at your militia headquarters or gun range. I contrary to many “Old West” stories many municipalities required cowboys to check their guns at the edge of town. Rural environments need secure storage as well maybe not a gun bank but building up a cache is not really protecting stock from coyotes and wolves.
· To Bare- To use in a functional way, to use against a threat or enemy- Join a militia as noted above! This does not mean that a citizen has the right to bare arms at any and all times to keep said “Arms” under their pillow. In the army are your weapons with you in the barracks? Weapons must be secure and accounted for at all times!
In general there is a now and then aspect to any policy, some ideas discussed:
- Insurance on each gun- insuring that the weapon would not be used in ways that endanger the public. This pays punitive damage claims and weapon related legal fees minimum deductible 1,000- gun owners still need to have some responsibility in the bad judgment game.(Some might call this a tax regulated through private industry- but at least there is a clear service provided)
- It prices risk considering potential damage against experience security of and access to guns- go ahead, get a concealed weapons permit, own an AR-15 or something bigger. (more guns more expense, more public risk, more expense, no insurance no gun)
- Such a requirement provides not only a motivation for a duty of care but;
- funds for restitution and improved psych services, and
- includes lapses in insurance such and/or loss of weapon in such cases there is a funding mechanism for collection. (perhaps another private industry opportunity, or reward for guns that go missing, reducing the number available to criminals).
- This also solves the technical issues of registration and database maintenance, (Again something that all citizens need not pay, but a duty on those who take pleasure in gun ownership).
The government is not in the micro factor risk analysis game, and it should not be their duty.
- Reduced home storage of weapons socially encourage local militias gun clubs and ranges to get into the security and warehousing business. Set limits on the types and number of weapons, amount of ammo allowed in unsecured areas. Some weapons are only allowed to be kept and used in designated areas (race cars are not allowed on the streets, racing fuel is dispensed in restricted areas or to authorized users). (this idea is probably the most problematic but when tied to insurance cost of home storage it might be plausible)
- I don’t trust all citizens’ mental states, at all times, so those weapons and ammunition do not need to be immediately accessible.
- Militias, Ranges and Gun Clubs can get into the business of Gun Banking. A nongovernment set of eyes to appraise mental state of owners, hopefully in a personal and friendship level of connection
- Attendance in gun events… not lame safety demonstrations… Live fire hands on use of weapons with colleagues and professionals, building comradery, appreciation, professionalism and a sharing of best management practices. You are required to attend a number of gun events per year
So summary repeated-
- Take the Big Government argument out of the equation and provide a competing lobby to the NRA.
- Set some standards and requirements in gun ownership, identify ways to have peers take the keys away from the “drunk drivers” (mentally unfit)
- Include a base cost lf gun ownership and incrementally increase the expense Vs. risk equation.
Gun collection is a cool hobby but it carries and much heavier responsibility than stamp collecting this has not been priced into the market. Personally I think insurance is the ruin of our nation but it is a mechanism which can induce logical regulation of behavior without more police.
In closing, the nation has disparate systems undermined by a myriad of policy, enforcement, and funding obstructions and it is time to make some cohesion in the way we manage all of these issues. We need you to put forward ideas that take tangents away from the vitriolic cannons repeated by entrenched constituents. It is time to set a clear strategy rather than tactical solutions.
It is time to disarm the anger consuming our national conversation (guns, taxes, religion) and feel safe having a discussion about the issues facing our people.
At home I can set the tone and tenor of a chat but I look to you in creating a similar environment where we can make the best policy for all and our future as a nation.
America is a violent country.
Murders, killings, loss of life, manslaughter, homicide. The words we have to describe the extinguishing of life seem as numerous in our culture as the Inuit have words to describe snow. That another murder will occur today in our largest cities is as sure and expected as the sun is to rise in the east.
Murder in the USA is not simply common but it is also celebrated. This is painfully and horribly obvious in the movies, television shows music and just about every other media venue available today which the population of the USA happily and greedily consume without moderation. Many will point out that these macabre art forms are not real, they are just for pleasure!
Then one will turn on Fox news at the start of a war and feel a rush of exhilaration as their entertainment and blood lust cross over into reality. Greedy eyes scan the screen for an updated and real time body count which as it mounts, 100, 120, 150 almost becomes similar to sexual arousal as the faintest glint of morality gives way to our innate and violent animal urges which evolution has not had long enough to shed.
Evolution has given us however, a larger brain which we use to try and process, try to explain and reason out these primal thoughts. When a murder has taken place we almost always have a need, a great desire to know why. There simply must be a logical reason: insanity, the righting of a wrong, uncontrollable anger, terrorist, protecting freedom. One reason that we will simply not allow any room for is simply that the urge to kill was necessary for millions of years in our evolution. As I read history it seems the furthest we can go back to some sort of civilization is only 10 thousand years or so where one can reasonably expect people began to realize that murder is not a good thing.
Ten thousand years is a very short time in terms of the evolution of mankind. The amount of time is even shorter when a rule was made “Thou Shalt Not Kill,” that seem to spread rather quickly (2000 years) as humankind forced their particular religious brand among the people through the extremely effective method known as war and a persuasion where the only other option was death.
However, many cultures have matured and after many orgies of great destruction have, for the moment, pacified their blood lust. The United States is not among these.
As our culture is awash in violence there are periodic outbursts which seem to be a culmination, an apex which like an exploding volcano releasing a bit of pressure. We are shocked by the tragic results, reflect a little then go back to the status-quo.
This is quite unfortunate but what is truly shocking to me is that we are unable to use our brains and logic to correct this. Changing an entire culture is not something that can be done just by making a new rule.
Instead, it is like the alcoholic that must enter an AA program and take specific steps to rid himself of the affliction.
Step 1: Admit you have a problem
In the USA we cannot get to step one. Admitting we have a violent culture is not something that has entered our collective consciousness.
Because it has been drilled into our brains that America is the best. Admitting that we have a culture of violence is not compatible with the view we have of ourselves. America is the protector of freedom, it is the country that wins the most Olympic gold medals, America invented the car, the airplane, the computer and just about every good thing that has been invented since America was founded!
In fact, if America was a man, then it is obvious that second to “Uncle Sam” America would be represented as, well, Captain America! When a culture has an image of themselves as the “doer of right” there is no room for a problem. If there is a problem then just like the alcoholic it must be hidden away, or there must be an explanation.
“I drink so much because you make me this way!”
I have not come to this conclusion simply on a whim or by daydreaming. It is presented to me on a daily basis by that grand sociological experiment known as Facebook. This is the medium where once taboo subjects, those issues which usually call for a bit of decorum are now laid bare like an overweight Brit sunbathing on a beach in Spain. It is simply shocking yet as the pasty Brits continue to flock to Spain, so do people in my network post their naked and untempered opinions.
On a continual basis something occurs in our society which gets everyone very worked up and people take to the social networks. If I were to take all of these posts personally then in the past week I have been:
1. Threatened with an unfriending if I did not agree or dissented
2. Pleaded with to “simply understand” that their opinion is correct
3. Told that I am flat out wrong
These were not directed at me personally but instead were just random posts. I do not use social media as a soundboard to persuade or threaten my friends. To me, this is best left to those who allow their emotions and animalistic selves to overtake their rational, thinking side.
Now, as is characteristic of this blog and where I do let emotion and my opinions rush forth, let me dive completely in.
The USA has just had the absolute worst incident of violence it has ever had. Adults are killed all the time in our culture, it is expected. But children at school at their desks is the worst thing I can possibly imagine. There can be no worse example and for the first time in a long time I am so severely affected that I cannot and do not want to read the news about this. I think about them, I think about their souls and where they are now in the afterlife. I think about their parents and how I do not think I could bare it. I think that if something like this happened to my child I just might prefer to shoot myself. I am not afraid of death but I am afraid of the pain these parents are experiencing. I cannot dwell on this too much or it will drag me down so low it will take a while to come back out of it.
Instead, let me tell you how disgusted I am with the reactions we have had in our culture. On the social networks this has been said in various ways but can be summed up and accurately represented by this.
I am sad but…….
What came after the “but” was a selfish proclamation, a gauntlet thrown down (to all their friends!) that no situation, no matter how utterly unthinkable would affect their ability to own something.
That something is a gun. The blood was not yet dry from murdered small children and here we have half of the population defending their right to own an item that’s singular purpose is to kill or at least severely wound.
Thinking of this triggers another innate human reaction deep in my gut. The reaction is in the face of something so terribly incomprehensible and sad I chuckle at such blatant idiocy.
I can think of no situation better suited for those who enjoy possessing firearms to keep their mouth shut.
But no no, this is America where an individuals right to do whatever the fuck they want trumps everything else. There is no “we” in the USA anymore, it is simply “I.” It might do well to take “We the people” out of the constitution! It should be replaced by “I the individual!”
Hell, now that I think about it “We the people” sounds so Communist!!!! There you go Fox News, I just gave you a GREAT argument for your stupid viewership.
Even if one does not like the idea of getting rid of guns completely, then perhaps a rule could be set down that if one is able to kill X number of humans in Y seconds then it could possibly not be a great thing to have on the market?
You see, if you have an urge to kill then you should really use a knife. Using a knife takes COMMITMENT!! You have to get up close and personal with the victim and really DIG INTO IT!
With a gun murder is so impersonal. You can just close your eyes and squeeze the trigger. It takes absolutely no effort and you don’t even need to get your hands dirty.
I’ve heard people say that criminals don’t follow laws so banning guns wouldn’t work. We also have so many guns laying around already so what would a ban really do?
Again, we go back to my argument about the alcoholic. There is no one simple solution, no pill America can pop to simply make things better. However, limiting the amount of alcohol might be a good first step! Or if we need to step down slowly how about just having him drink beer and stopping sales of the 50 proof?
Or hell, how about slapping a 5000% tax on the 50 proof?
But no, America cannot take the first step. America doesn’t want to take any steps at all! Those that scream about their right to own guns, and all types of guns offer no solutions. At least the anti-gun folks want to do something.
As for my personal opinion, I’m not against hand gun ownership. I am against assault rifle ownership. In our society we are having too many instances of mass shootings by one individual. I am against guns that can kill X number of people in Y minutes. I think there should be a limit or at least a very very large tax.
Finally and to reiterate, I am shocked by how uncivil our society has become. For the record more people in my social network did not comment about gun rights after this tragedy. It was mostly the Fox news viewers and they remain in a perpetual state of rage no matter the circumstances.
As Romney said, 47% of the population can be written off for the Republicans. Well, 100% of the Fox News viewership can be written off as they are not intelligent, thinking people.
Right now the society of the USA needs to take a concrete step in the right direction. I do not know what steps those are but I would hate to see this society fall further than it already has.
I just wanted to write down a few thoughts about the embassy attacks that are occurring.
The first is that I find it completely despicable that Romney has used the events to score political points. That was a very stupid move which all the pundits pointed out the day after he made it. I just heard on the news this morning that some are starting to agree with him as the attacks continue to spread.
They say that the Obama policy has made America weak and these attacks are proof of that.
How completely idiotic can we get? The reason that the USA is unpopular in Muslim countries is due to the support of Israel and the wars in both Afghanistan and Iraq. Those are the two principal reasons (bar none!) and even though they are 100% apparent it is something you will not hear much on the news here.
And guess who started the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq?
George W. Bush – Republican
Who has supported Israel? – Well every single administration has so no blame there. Obama has in fact taken steps to stand up to the Israeli lobby unlike most of his predecessors.
After reading the above, a Republican would think me an apologetic liberal. Keep reading and you will see this is not the case.
My second thought is how far the Muslim world has fallen from their days of glory with the Ottoman Empire and occupation of Spain. Spain is what I know and I know that the Muslims brought science, math and much learning to the rather uncivilized Christians of the time.
My how things have changed.
I try hard to come up with reasons for these attacks and can only guess that they may be related to the following.
1. Unstable Governments – These countries really have no or very rule of law at the moment
2. Thugs and terrorist groups have more leeway now that the dictators are gone and can run amok.
3. Due to the dictators, their societies have really not progressed in the past 40 years or so and have actually digressed.
On one hand I understand that a society needs time to adjust and terrorist groups would take advantage during time of weak government.
But in the end, these reasons and excuses have to stop. Much of the Muslim world needs to take a hard look at themselves and yank their societies into the 21st century.
To put this into very blunt perspective let us look at this example.
The most notable achievement of one society is that it has just put a robot on Mars to conduct scientific analysis. The most notable achievement of a few other societies are that they go berserk at something offensive on the internet (imagine that!), burn buildings and kill people while screaming about God.
The people (young people especially) of those countries are going to have to fight their own terrorists in order to drag their societies into the 21st century.
The internet is full of offensive material. I can assure you it is not just Muslims for those of you who have never used the internet before.
Just had a thought pop into my head. I wonder if the TV reporter in Egypt was just being careless with this story and didn’t realize how much havoc it would create or if it was done on purpose.
*9.29.2012 – Update – Well, had some issues with the blog and this post got erased. Trying to put it back as it was but the story in Libya also keeps changing. Apparently it was a terrorist attack by various religious zealots. So, as of 9.29.2012 I only have two comments.
1. It looks like regular Libyans are grateful to the USA for helping them get rid of Gaddafi. I was highly encouraged by these two articles.
And finally, I still find this extremely funny:
I sometimes wonder if the events that happen on the national stage are real or imagined. This has been occurring with much more frequency in the past five years than ever before, so much in fact, that I have begun to question my own sanity. Certainly so many hundreds of thousands of people could not be this absurd!
Perhaps I am living in some sort of computer program that is set to have events become more and more bizarre until the subject (me) either has a breakdown or realizes that what is occurring simply cannot be reality.
This fast food restaurant has been all over the news lately and if you haven’t heard of them, well, you should read more news.
No, I take that back. The news is what propagates the stupid. Better to read a good magazine instead.
I thought about how I would explain this news to one of my former English students in Japan. They would ask what it is about and I can imagine the conversation going something like this. (Level 2 or so in the NOVA ranking system) :)
Student: Why so many people at fast food restaurant?
Me: They don’t want gay people to get married.
Me: Yes, the owner of this restaurant gives lots of money to political campaigns against gay marriage.
Student: So many people want to eat his chicken?
Me: It is America.
Student: Americans not like gay people so want to eat the chicken?
Me: No, they just don’t want the gay people to marry. And they like chicken.
Student: Why eating chicken stop gay people from marry?
Me: They can buy the chicken and the owner of Chick-fil-a will get richer and can give more money to stop gay marriage.
Student: I cannot understand.
Me: Me neither.
After a while it is just funny to think about. It is funny somehow a fast food restaurant has become the focal point AGAINST a social movement! The focal point is not a politician, it is not a murder or violence, it is a FAST FOOD PLACE AND A CHICKEN ONE AT THAT!
That is SO AMERICAN! I tell you we Americans must look like absolute philosophers with absolutely stellar minds to be making our arguments by EATING! And it could not have come at a better time!
It is the Olympic season, the time when we look up to our role models, the absolute best of our athletes and marvel at their exquisitely sculpted bodies. It is at this time that the cream, the absolute best of our corporations have convinced us that sugary, fatty foods are synonymous with athletic prowess.
Only in America.
It is perhaps only here that completely contradictory messages have the ability to become one and to be accepted by a relatively educated population.
Protecting Freedoms = Attack another country
Olympics = McDonalds
Private sector economic crisis = the fault of the (public) President
Sarah Palin / Michelle Bachmann = Intelligence and great leadership
I could go on, but I’m getting silly. If you’re reading this and are a conservative, you would probably think I’m a liberal. That has been more true than not lately but you wouldn’t be entirely right. I’ve jumped on the liberal train as of recent but often change my mind and could easily swing into the libertarian camp completely bypassing the Republicans.
Why bypass the Republicans? Because Republicans have gone bat shit crazy in the past decade. I’m sorry but I cannot put it any more eloquently than that. But this does not mean I cannot see the conservative point of view. I spent 12 years in Catholic school so of course I can see the conservative view as clearly as I can see the tree in my yard!
Without further delay, let’s have some fun! It has been a while since I’ve debated myself and let’s do it about Chick-fil-a.
Before I do however, what the HELL does “Chick-fil-a” mean? This is the dumbest name for a fast food joint that I’ve ever heard! Now being a constant foreign language student I’m used to figuring out words and meanings that might be new to me. I can quickly deduce that “chick” is just a shortening of chicken. I don’t think they mean chick as in a baby chicken. Baby chickens have very little meat so it would not make sense to want to “fil-a” a baby chicken although I cannot be sure. I would also imagine that fil-a means fillet except was written by someone who was illiterate?
Now, why would this be a good name for a fast food joint? If I was on the Chick-fil-a board I probably would have voted this name down unless of course we were targeting the the less well off areas.
I’m not trying to be snooty here at all, it is my guess, without knowing anything about Chick-fil-a, that this is the reason they chose that name. I’m being completely honest.
*Side Note: I couldn’t resist looking up fillet which I know comes from French as the t is silent. The French spell it differently (filet) and I was curious how they came up with that word. Apparently it comes from “fil” which means “wire” or “thread.” Thus, when we “fillet” something it has all those burn line marks in the meat just like a thread.
Wasn’t I going to debate myself? Let’s get started for REALZ this time. Well do it in a stream of consciousness format because I’m lazy.
Those against gay marriage have an absolute right to their opinions. They also have the right to eat as much chicken as they like in support of their beliefs. After all, the liberals like to push everything down everyone’s throat. The “liberal” media is just that, liberal. The main outlets except for Fox rarely print the conservative point of view and liberals on the overall are snotty people you wouldn’t want to drink a beer with.
By eating chicken the conservatives can finally make a non-aggressive point that NOT everyone supports gay marriage and this is a rather easy (and tasty!) way to express their feelings.
The liberals are always comparing this to the civil rights movement and interracial marriage.
*Now, if we went back in time it would be the conservatives who are against interracial marriage. BUT, we are not going back in time, we are staying in the present! Gay marriage just AIN’T the same thing as interracial!!!!! Two people of the same sex just AIN’T natural and the Bible says so!
Now hold on conservative me! Perhaps your problem is that you just don’t know any gay people. If you did you would realize that, as Lady Gaga says, they were BORN this way, no matter how gross what they do in bed is. (did I just say that?) Well, no matter, it is gross and I’ve expressed the same to my gay friends while hanging out in the Castro at the Lookout bar which of course is as queer as a gay bar could possibly be. One night they were selling porn where two guys box each other then get it on.
I was absolutely grossed out. I mean how can those guys do THAT to another DUDE? I think doing THAT is gross when straight people do it so maybe I’m just more of a traditionalist?
Wait, where was I? Wasn’t I supposed to be arguing the liberal point of view? Or perhaps someone’s views cannot simply be placed in this camp or that. Perhaps they can be mixed! And you know we Global Citizen types certainly like to be seen as complex/mysterious/unique and many other adjectives that make us seem sophisticated.
BUT, as I was saying, gay people were born that way, it happens in other species, it happened in Rome and it probably happened in the Catholic Church down the street so what’s the big whoop? It is part of nature and these people should not be discriminated against so let them marry!
Besides, what is marriage anyway? Is it a right conferred by the State or is it a religious thing? If it is a religious thing then what if they don’t belong to that religion? Last time I checked married people get benefits from the State so if being queer is part of nature and is thus “natural” then why is the State being so stubborn? Oh yes, conservative people.
Didn’t I mention something about protecting freedoms above? We have freedom = war = no gay marriage. I don’t even know what to do with that last sentence. I suppose we could just throw it to Sarah Palin and she could come up with something.
And where the hell has she been anyway? Is her show about Alaska still on? I’d like to check it out.
Ah but Conservative me makes a comeback!!!!! Well, I still don’t agree as I think it is not natural and I don’t care what you say liberal me. Besides that, we now have public officials saying they will not let Chick-fil-a operate in their cities? What is this, Russia?
*Liberal me interjects* - You mean Soviet Union?
Conservative me – Yea Russia! Since when has a politician been able to block economic activity only based on a social issue????
Liberal Me – Civil rights era.
Conservative me – You’re a snooty asshole liberal me! It AIN’T the SAME THING!
Well, I’ve made myself angry. I guess the moral of the story is that liberal people are a bit snobby and try to ram all their new and crazy ideas down everyone’s throats. This is very uncomfortable for the conservative types who like things THE WAY THEY ARE and really haven’t wanted to change anything since the Middle Ages AND been dragged kicking and screaming decade after decade, century after century until at last we arrive in modern times.
It would be interesting to point out that a “conservative” society is Saudi Arabia, Iran and just about everyplace where the women have to cover themselves completely. These are the countries that never ever let someone like Elvis get away with hip shaking and still go to church every week. Hell, sometimes they pray 5 times a day!
Well, maybe it wouldn’t be so interesting to point out so I won’t do it. I just do not want to make conservative me any more angry than he already is.
Maybe I’ll go eat some chicken. Wait!!! I actually just had chicken tikka masala for dinner! Sorry conservative me, that sounds very suspiciously like liberal food. I promise you, conservative me, that next time I’ll make some chicken prepared in the “fil-a” style.
In my short 35 year life I have had the great fortune to travel a good portion of the world and experience a great many things. Most of these travels occurred during my twenties but it was not the travels alone that contributed to these fantastic experiences. It was the study of language that gave me very deep insights into the various cultures and changed me forever.
Find here the music which sets the tone for this post:
Once you have enjoyed the music you can find the historical reference here
These languages which changed my life were Spanish, French and Japanese. Spanish and French gave me unique insight into the history of Europe and gave me confidence. That is to say, I thought I actually new something after becoming proficient in these languages. Yet, it was the study of Japanese that really humbled me and taught me that the more I learn, the less I realize I actually know. With Spanish and French I had only learned about the European part of the world. With Japanese I made a small splash into a completely different and wonderful world known as Asia. I was amazed by the insights learning Japanese gave me. It was then I realized that language can really open up a different way of thinking and change how one views the world. I now knew four languages but out of the 6800 or so languages in the world I could only comprehend the mindset of very few.
Furthermore, I never felt as though I mastered any language other than my native English (and that is debatable as well!) No matter how good you think you are at a language, the natives are better.
This post however is not a biography on my experiences and discoveries. Rather, it is something that carries a bit of the same magic that one can experience in their own home without setting foot in another culture.
There is nothing that will take the place of travel and learning other languages. One gains so much insight that it is near impossible to explain to others who have not had the same experience.
But, one can come close.
This post is about Netflix and the historical entertainment it offers us. Never in the history of mankind have we had such access to history portrayed as entertainment. Yes, yes, the plays and theatre of old are spectacular yet, those performances were never on demand, starting at the push of a button. Never have the masses as a whole had the access that they do now to rather accurate historical entertainment.
Unfortunately, even though such entertainment is now available, I wonder how many of the “unwashed masses” actually pay attention. There are so many other shows (of rather stupid subject) that history and historical fact now have to vie with the vulgar prancing around hoping to draw even more attention.
Forgive me, I continue to be extremely upset that even though we have more access to knowledge than ever before in the history of mankind, my brethren choose to entertain themselves with the equivalent of a Cockney lass with huge boobs who just happens to dance or sing surprisingly well. This cockney lass comes not from East London but from Jersey, the new one.
That was cruel. Some are actually very talented. My anger, nay, my disappointment stems from the seemingly endless support for current wars when most of the population do not understand history and choose not to educate themselves, preferring to watch henceforth mentioned Cockney Lass equivalent from Jersey, the new one.
Makes me upset. People are getting killed and the only people that could stop it choose to watch dancing and singing.
I digress. As you know I rarely stay on point and enjoy the frequent side-tangents.
Regarding Netflix, it has given me access to a lot of history that I can use to supplement my previous travels. In fact, it brings it alive!!
Yes, I know it is entertainment, but being a big fan of history, I use my Iphone to check the accuracy on Wikipedia.
*Sidebar – I wrote an argument Wikipedia Inaccurate? when many were calling it inaccurate back in 2006. Just wanted to give props to myself in that my judgement seems to stand the test of time in this case.
So I check Wikipedia and see that the historical truths match up pretty well with what I am seeing on Netflix.
So what am I watching on Netflix? Enough of my rambling already, lets get to the good stuff!!
The shows I’ve recently watched are the following. I thought a Youtube trailor might be able to give you a better impression than my simple explanations.
1. The Tudors
2. The Borgia
4. The Virgin Queen
I think four examples are enough to show how efficiently this new service called Netflix can really bring the past alive!!!
I would imagine there are two schools of thought on this. The first being those that prefer not to study at all and simply watch a show and believe they know something. A show is just a show and does not really confer any knowledge. Well, maybe a little knowledge but it really helps to read a quick biography and historical account about the show to really know what is going on
The second school would be the detractors. Those that believe they understand too much and will not give any standing to some theatrical performance infringing on their focus of study.
Not being an expert myself, I would imagine that the screen writers and movie studios employ enough financial firepower to employ those that do have expert knowledge in these historical matters and thus keep the story pretty accurate n’est pas?
So, for a plebeian such as myself, albeit a rather well traveled pleb and one who knows how to use his Iphone, I am inclined to believe these historical shows so long as they match up with what I read in Wikipedia.
What this does for me is absolutely brings the past alive!!!!!! The past was never brought alive for me in school as it entailed simple words on a page, ideas, places, people that meant nothing to me and were simply things that I must memorize to pass a test.
This changed of course when I actually visited such places. However it was never brought alive as much as it has with Netflix!
It is now time for picture sharing.
Welcome to the Tower of London. I did visit, I took the tour and I payed attention to everything my “Beefeater” guide said. I also read my “Let’s Go” book to inform myself about the history. Yet, the history of the place never came as alive as it did with the Tudors series and Elizabeth the Virgin Queen. I could read a thousand historical books and I believe nothing would leave as deep an impression on me as these various TV (Netflix) series.
I think it was Ben Franklin, although I could be completely wrong, but one of the founders predicted that with the invention of the moving pictures books would no longer be necessary. I have it in my head that it was Franklin but of course I could be completely stupid on this one.
My point is, I visited the tower of London, I tried to feel the ghosts there, I tried to feel the history. I understood what happened and I tried to let it in. I didn’t feel anything. It really didn’t come alive for me.
The only time I ever felt “ghosts” and the sense of history completely washing over me was in Toledo, Spain and I described the ghost part rather clearly in my post Ghosts.
So where else could I find “ghosts” and a real sense of history?
No, I didn’t feel anything in Rome. I experienced neither Cesar nor the Borgias in Rome. I just experiences ruins and various vagrants trying to seal my wallet. The glory of Rome has indeed vanished.
Actually, I did enjoy meeting a lot of young Italians at Piazza di Spagna but that was a rarity. There were more opportunities for bad people to take my wallet than for me to meet the young vibrant youth of Rome at that time. :(
Well, as you know my posts are never long and I grow tired after a few short paragraphs. I guess the lesson for this post is that after watching so many shows about medieval Europe I can now more clearly understand the roots of Catholic vs Protestant, English vs France vs Spain and so on. By understanding the origins, I am able to much better understand the present.
***Quick mind dump ***
I grew up Catholic, a descendant of the Irish who were long oppressed by the English. Why did I grow up this way? Well my ancestors escaped the potato famine and came to the USA. The English on the other hand used to be Catholic but Henry VIII decided to not be Catholic anymore because he wanted to marry another. Throw in a bunch of politics and England didn’t want to be under the Pope anymore. The Pope had gained his authority from an ancient “Cult of Christ” from long ago Rome that never really went away. It was the religion that like the Duracell battery refused to die. Since it was the only one that stood the test of time people took it as the truth. And oh yea, it was the one that had the most military force behind it, so if you didn’t convert, bad things happened. But even before bad things happened most were convinced bad things would happen after they die if they didn’t believe.
So anyway, our friend King Henry the VIII didn’t like the pope telling him what to do. Some people agreed (Protestants)and over time these people eventually came to America. These are the same folks that become our Presidents. Well, except for JFK but he got shot. After that we had more Protestants. Now we have Barack Obama who many believe is Muslim (lol). The Republicans are still crazy incensed that he got elected and have now gone off the rails. Sarah Palin, Michelle Bachmann? For God’s sakes, all you supporters of them should never be allowed in a gentleman’s club again. Wait, the GOP is no longer a Gentleman’s club you say? It is full of idiotic hillbilly Jesus freaks you say? Boy, I really miss the old GOP. The heathens and unwashed are not only at the gate but have been invited in to sit down to dinner! >:(
I’m sorry, I’ve gone off the rails again. I’m terrible.
I’m also tired and become tired of this post. I really should write a book but am absolutely sure it would offend so many that it would stand no chance of being published.
No matter, I live in my own world and prefer to keep it that way.
I guess I’ll end this post with the truth that there is so much to learn. The trick is to keep it interesting which is something these shows and Netflix is very good at! They bring the past alive and make learning about history much more entertaining!
Apparently some report came out that says Asians are the number one class of immigrants at the moment. Every single news source has jumped on this and although I really do not have time for a long post, I just wanted to record my thoughts on the matter and will get straight to my points without being too wordy.
First let us contrast the opening paragraph of two different news sources.
1. Wall Street Journal
- Asians are the fastest-growing, most educated and highest-earning population in the U.S., according to a new report that paints the majority-immigrant group as a boon to an economy that has come to rely increasingly on skilled workers.
My subconscious is telling me that Asians are positive for the economy!
2. Fox News
- For the first time, the influx of Asians moving to the U.S. has surpassed that of Hispanics, reflecting a slowdown in illegal immigration while American employers increase their demand for high-skilled workers.
My subconscious is telling me, HEY ARE THESE ASIANS ILLEGALS? You know what two words the Tea Party heard in this paragraph? Yep, the ones in bold.
Notice how the Wall Street Journal reflected on the positive while Fox News true to form managed to put the word illegals and possibly something negative in that opening paragraph? Very sneaky of our friends at the ‘fair and balanced’ news organization.
Maybe it is just me, but for some reason I have the nagging suspicion that those so adamantly against “Illegal Immigration” are actually against immigrants overall.
I try to talk myself out of it but the thought just latches on to me and refuses to let go.
So, I try to prove myself wrong as I am sure there will be many positive comments on the FB Wall Street Journal page right???
First, let me post the comments (from Asians) that made me laugh.
- I guess I’m not living up to my potential
- What about East Indians?? or are they all in the hospitals?
- I am Asian, I need to get back to study now
- This is now a scientifically proven fact that eating rice can help your income rise faster and higher.
Unfortunately, in every comment section ever opened to the public there is a 95% chance that the comments will become infinitely more stupid until critical mass is hit and the stupidity cannot be stopped. I mean, it always works in that direction, as I have never seen a comment section become infinitely more intelligent,,,, not ever. It must be a law of physics; once stupidity is set in motion, it cannot be stopped.
It is similar to throwing a stone in the lake. All you need is one really stupid comment and it will ripple and ripple and ripple through the entire thread. Sigh…
It was no different with the WSJ comment section. Let’s get to a few that REALLY MADE ME LAUGH in a sad sort of way.
Mr. X – Many asians, ie Chinese, Indians, Koreans, are people of self control, and so, accomplishment. If it were my choice, I would welcome them and slam the door on most of our immigrant groups.
- Thank you Mr. X for your infinite wisdom and understanding of the Chinese, Indians and Koreans. Interesting choice though as I would have said the Japanese have the most self control but they weren’t even mentioned!
I would challenge him to name the other “immigrant” groups to which he would like to “slam the door.” I bet you he is referring to Mexicans as those “others” and that he got his idea of Asians from the movie Karate Kid or something. Just my thought.
But as I said, it only takes one stupid comment to start the chain reaction of idiocy. There were plenty of responses but the following is my favorite.
Ms. Y: Koreans=self control? Try again! You haven’t seen an asian at the sketchy casinos at Lake Tahoe? Barona? Vegas? Have you heard of Tiger Mom? Please. Self control is for other people. You act like Asians are perfect. Asians got lucky that influential people cared enough about them to push priorities in the right places (wisdom, elders, face, etc.).
Believe it or not I am heading to Lake Tahoe this weekend and am going to keep my eye out for “an asian at the sketchy casinos.” Only problem is I am not sure which casinos would be considered “sketchy” in Tahoe. Tahoe is actually very small/clean and I don’t think I would consider any of them “sketchy.” Maybe I’ll ask Siri to recommend a sketchy casino while I’m there and should I indeed find myself in one I sure as hell am going to look for “an asian.”
But seriously, I’m impressed that this person even knows how to use a computer. (It should be taken away)
Asians got lucky that influential people cared enough about them to push priorities in the right places (wisdom, elders, face, etc.).
Who the hell are the ‘influential’ people she is talking about here? Mao perhaps? Confucius? I would really like to know who these grand influencers of The Asian people are! Also, I have absolutely no idea what she means by “face.” I can’t even make a joke or be sarcastic about it, I simply have no idea what she means!
Ahhhh, it is just too silly and a waste of time to pick out stupid comments and poke fun.
I guess I was just interested that every single news source picked up this story and I knew that the undercurrent (Tea Party, Republicans) of racism since Obama was elected would certainly flare up at such a report.
It is going to be more difficult to focus on “illegal immigration” aka Mexicans when Asians are the new threat to AMURICA!
Besides, it was also just announced that Marco Rubio is being considered by Romney for Vice President! Well doesn’t that beat all!!! How can the Tea Party continue to unleash venom against ‘them latinos’ when their own party is considering one for a top post? Yes yes, the problem of illegal immigration is mostly Mexican but let us not forget Elian Gonzales so quickly people! How can we know for certain that Marco Rubio wasn’t born in CUBA??? I DEMAND to see his birth certificate!
Alright, I’ve gone off the rails. I need to get back on track, just like Amurica.
Given the nature of this report I find it alarming that Asians are taking over the country.
Somethin’ just must be done.
Simple thoughts, free-form writing in this post. Get ready for a roller-coaster.
What is the value of money?
In our capitalistic society money seems to command the top spot, that which is to be desired over everything else.
Money is that which every other desire can be obtained, this idea, this falsity is ingrained and the idea can very rarely be purged.
Perhaps it cannot be purged simply because we are human, and humans need to experience before they believe. The young child never believes the fire is dangerous until he touches it and is burned.
Like fire, money needs to be experienced before one can understand if they can wield it well or not. For most, they will expect that by simple accumulation, happiness will also be accumulated.
The wise people tell us that money does not equal happiness but most cannot understand this. They need to experience it. They need to understand that problems do not simply go away by its accumulation. In fact, problems may multiply by the accumulation of money.
Yes, one can buy nice things with money, but one cannot buy friends, one cannot buy love, one cannot buy the most important things in life. One cannot buy the things that make life most worth living.
This is not to say that one cannot find these things even though they have money. It is my belief that it just makes the equation much more difficult. Is this person my friend, my lover for me, or is it the money?
Many CEOs, many wealthy people have learned this lesson the hard way. How can one ever be sure that friends, lovers are not simply after the money? It does put a very difficult variable into the relationship does it not?
Like most of my posts I enjoy switching gears mid most and not finishing my thoughts. True to form, I’ll start another thought, same vein, in this post.
I happen to know people who work very hard everyday. These people work very hard for money.
Those that do what they can to support their families are to be commended.
However, there is another group of people whose work forms their identity. These are the ones who want to accumulate wealth for wealth’s sake. These are the people that enter into a routine of work and feel uncomfortable when they are not working.
My question to these people is the following.
What value, in monetary terms, would you put on your youth? That is to say, once you have all the money, or all that you would no longer need to worry about its accumulation anymore; how much would you pay to live your 20s or early thirties again? What value would you place on the experiences forgone by the accumulation of money with the hope that such experiences could be bought later?
Perhaps such experiences cannot be bought later, as those addicted to work can never fully enjoy a sunset, sliding down a mountain, reading to a child, simply because they do not involve the accumulation of money?
Working as hard as you did, you were duly compensated in monetary terms. The true worth of this monetary compensation has a very profound cost . The true value of this monetary compensation is the time of your life that is now unrecoverable. You have spent a part of your finite life in the pursuit of money.
Now what is the purpose of money? The purpose of money is so that you can buy a certain experience weather it be the sensation experienced by purchasing a material good, a certain feeling of status among the neighbors, or perhaps finally being able to take that long overdue vacation to Scottsdale where the sun appears in winter.
Now, let’s make this more interesting. Let us say we have children. What is the true value of time spent at work? One gains money but not without a very large cost. That cost is time not spent with your child, that cost is time not spent sharing an experience or teaching him or her something. The cost is missing that first smile or seeing them take their first steps.
Why do I point this out you may be wondering?
It is simply that I cannot understand this unthinking pursuit of money simply for money’s sake. In our Capitalistic society we seem to be thoroughly convinced that by attaining more money we are able to attain more happiness. We are convinced that we need to continually attain more goods, more anything, and what do we do when we have attained more? Well, we have to attain more than that.
It is not understood that the time we spend chasing money has a very serious cost in youth, in relationships, in experiences, and in all the things we will absolutely remember when we grow old.
Will you remember that certain trip with a special individual or will you remember that thing you bought at Neiman Marcus?
The time spent being compensated in monetary terms does have a very profound cost. That cost is youth, experiences, and precious hours which never to be recovered, you inch towards death.
I hope that Louis Vuitton bag or Lexus is worth the cost.
—- Or perhaps I have over-thought this. Perhaps, our work is what forms many of our identities? Work makes the man and without work there is no man? Perhaps we are such insecure creatures that many of us need our career to define us? I work, therefore I am? Perhaps money only takes a secondary seat? Money simply determines the pedestal and the more money accumulated the higher the pedestal from which to rank yourself among the others?
Or can we honestly still say that the value our work brings to society is what determines its worth?
Nah, that is too Communist.
I’m going to go buy a gun, buy a sign that trespassers will be shot, put an American flag on the porch and pray to my God (who is a white American) that those fucking immigrants go back to Mexico.
I apologize, I went Republican there for a minute.
A word that I have not been able to escape in all the higher end publications is Solipsist. This is the idea that the self is all you know to exist. They have been using this word not entirely in the philosophical sense, but rather that we are closing ourselves off from our neighbors and our surroundings. We put in our ear buds, close down and only interact with our own minds until we reach our destination at which, we still may not take out the ear buds.
Perhaps this individualistic approach in America has gone too far. There is no one but me and anyone who interferes with my aims must be removed mentality should have its limits.
This is the idea where one takes their own surroundings and attributes those that have not to laziness or stupidity. I am warm at night, you are not, ergo you must be too stupid to buy a blanket? Those that have cannot fathom the life experiences of the other individual, the ability to put ones self in the place and mind of another has been seriously diminished if it ever existed.
Can I provide an example of this solipsistic approach?
I believe I can and it happened just this morning. I was waiting in traffic and a woman decided to honk wildly because traffic was not moving fast enough. I looked in my rear view mirror only to see her yelling wildly and could even make out the words of her mouth. Apparently the driver in front of her must have given her a look because she mouthed “What the fuck are you looking at, you bitch?”
The sad thing is that she also had a young kid in her car.
What is this?
It is Solipsism. This woman believes that she and her circumstances/desires, should trump all others circumstances and situations at that particular moment. She is honking so that her desires be answers although nobody can actually move their car.
This is solipsism and this is what those on the extreme Right in the USA wish to see.
Now, I can appreciate the view that the Government not force anything on the population. If you read this blog with any regularity, you will know that I do like Ron Paul.
But no, the Republicans do not want that which they preach. Ron Paul is perhaps the biggest supporter of small government, but no, they do not wish that which they preach.
Perhaps I can tie this post all together. Mitt Romney has money and with this money I do believe he has bought himself a chance at the Presidency!
Since he is Republican we will most likely go to war yet again since that is what Republicans enjoy doing. Therefore, many young Americans will not even have the choice to spend their time accumulating money for later experiences, or accumulating experiences now.
Instead they will be sent to war.
Does it matter? Tell the population anything, they will pretty much accept any reason. Tell them Iran wants to destroy NASCAR, tell them China is going to invade Dancing with the Stars.
It really doesn’t matter, just tell them anything, you’ll get 50% buy in.
How was that for a rollercoaster? I save the wild bits until the end so when you get off you’re a bit dizzy and confused.
I ran across this link today on Facebook from a globally minded friend.
I knew it had to be from the Huffington Post which has a keen eye for the absurd and sure enough it even came with a video (but to my disappointment no slideshow).
At first it made me laugh. Then the wheels started turning which I had hoped to put off at least until I’ve had breakfast. My neurons lit up so much that I thought a post was appropriate and here we are.
Getting right to the point, let me tell you I think a Latino Day is a bit silly.
Well, Latino is a term that encompasses a huge geographical region, not a specific nationality, race, or person who accomplished a lot for “Latinos.” If we were to create a Latino day then would it not be appropriate to also create an Asian day?
Or perhaps it would be more beneficial to select one major contributor such as Cesar Chavez and thus it would be akin to MLK day? Well, maybe not as Cesar Chavez most of his weight only in California, not the nation as a whole.
I also find the Mexicans using “Latino” as an umbrella term to cover their real intent which is to make it a Mexican American day. Como tu sabes, los Mexicanos piensan que Mexico es el rey de America Latina. ¿Entonces es mejor para decir Mexican American day no? Besides, the majority of “Latinos” in the USA are Mexican so let us get right to the point because in all honesty, how many Chileans or Argentinians are in the US?
But putting Mexican bravado aside, let me put myself in the mindset of a Latino American. I might ask myself, why not? There are many of us and we should have a specific day to recognize our contributions?
However, I find that difficult because here in the Bay Area we have all kinds of days for specific immigrant groups. Just off the top of my head we have: Latino Salsa and Latin Jazz Festival, Tet, Chinese New Year Parade, Carnival, Spring Blossom Festival and so on. I would like to see any number of these deemed a Holiday. Let us not forget that we should also request to get off from work!
In fact, the Bay Area which in case you didn’t know used to be Mexico has a Latino Day everyday should you choose to frequent certain neighborhoods.
Perhaps the lawmaker who is proposing this idea is doing so because he/she believes Latinos are in the minority and need the government’s assistance to be recognized. Well, given the demographic trend lately, Mr. Ash who proposed a “White People Day” certainly has a point when he says “I just want them to assure me that when we do become in the minority you’ll have a day for us.”
What I see in this exchange between the Latino and Mr. Ash is an “us vs. them” mentality. I can assure you that just as the textbooks have done with contributions from other “minority” groups, (Women, African-Americans, Gays) the same will happen for Latinos as their numbers continually increase.
As for the “White People Holiday,” I believe Mr. Ash was simply being facetious. If he was serious he should fight fire with fire and call it a “European-American holiday,” and not base it on skin color.
Anyway, I’m all for holidays, and days off of work especially, but neither a Latino-American day or a White People day is going to work. White People have enough holidays already and as soon as Latinos are in the majority the purpose of such a holiday is going to be lost.
After all, as the article mentions, we already have Cinco de Mayo which as every white person knows is Mexican Independence day. ;) Let’s just take a day of work off for that. Or even better, let’s celebrate what America is really all about which could be “Corporation Day.”
After all, corporations are people too.
PS: Nobody likes Arizona, can Mexico take them back please? Then Mr. Ash’s request might be a bit more valid.
I’m currently reading a book called “Infinite City – A San Francisco Atlas“
When most people hear the word “Atlas” they think of boring school subjects and perhaps don’t bother to lift the cover. For me however, I opened the cover and this book has kept me spellbound.
As any reader of this blog knows, I enjoy language, culture, history, politics and general discovery. As it happens, these things often come all at once. My mind is able to paint a fuller picture of the things which surround me by combining my knowledge of language, my travels to places not yet explored (by me), interest in history and reading of current events.
I am reminded of this quote by Thomas Paine ““The mind once enlightened cannot again become dark.” Once that spark of curiosity has been ignited it turns into a conflagration consuming as much knowledge as it possibly can.
The “Infinite City” has definitely poured much fuel on the fire.
The first thing I really like about this book is how it talks about “Ghosts.” These ghosts are the past, the forgotten that have been built over yet have contributed so much and define the character of the city.
Every neighborhood in San Francisco is full of these ghosts. Most people cannot see them, they are disconnected from the past by that veil which grows thicker with each passing year.
As I mentioned I have great interest in many things and from my world travels and experiences I actively seek out these ghosts. Sometimes, I know they are there but really have no understanding of the history until I have found the right book and have done my studies. Only then, do they really come alive.
I will not go into the details of these ghosts in this post but instead will just give you a few examples of what I think about when walking through San Francisco.
1. Japan Town – I see the Japanese being boarded onto buses for concentration camps courtesy of the US Government. I see a shell of a place that once was a thriving Japanese community now being bought up by Koreans.
2. The Fillmore – A heart of African American culture where many famous Jazz musicians once played. This was gutted by redevelopment. I also think of how it is named after the US President Millard Fillmore
3. The Embarcadero – In Spanish, a “Barca” is a boat, thus the “Embarcadero” is the place where you board the boats.
Now, take these examples and multiply them by a million and that is how I have come to see this city. Much of my knowledge comes directly from the book I have mentioned.
Now, how can we understand the present without understanding the past?
The fact is, we really cannot. Reading this book I can make greater sense of what is happening politically right now. The 99% vs. the 1% has happened all before.
Very few people would remember the United Fruit Company. It was the UFC that coined the term “Banana Republic” as they controlled many third world nations. This was the behemoth that exploited the poor in the third world countries and put people out of work in the US. In early 1995 the exploitation was expanded by NAFTA to not only include fruit, but also anything possible of being manufactured that really put a lot of people in the US out of work.
I believe it just took a decade or so for the process to lubricate properly, the US citizens to realize that their jobs are disappearing and should they have a job it is stagnant. Meanwhile, the executives of these international companies are making a killing.
The crisis did not start with Wall Street, they are only the profiteers of a system designed to make American citizens much poorer while trumpeting the horn of “efficiency and progress.”
A great point the author makes in this book is in regards to shipping containers. Yes, those large bulky containers they put on ships to transport goods. These are directly responsible for the exploitation of cheap labor from other countries and the declining industrial jobs in the USA. The “working man” started to lose power long before NAFTA, long before Wall Street and Finance went into overdrive.
These containers were responsible for the loss of industrial jobs in SF and the USA as a whole. An interesting fact she makes is that SF could not receive these containers do to limited space thus they went to Oakland and later Seattle and LA where space was available.
She talks about the transition of SF going from human labor to the industrial and technological economy. My favorite parts are here.
“The truth is that we’re drowning in busywork, nonproductive work, everything from “creative” bankingand insurance bureaucracies to the pointless shuffling of data and the manufacturing of products designed to be obsolescent almost immediately – and I would argue that a great deal of what we’re doing shoudl just stop.
The modernization and progress that gave this soul-destroying process a certain inevitability did indeed affect the whole country, and even most of the world. It was not invented in the Bay Area, but San Francisco was one of its earliest epicenters……. As this process unfolded, the white working class lost its identity as workers, mostly fled the cities, sent the kids to college, and took full advantage (by going into massive debt) of the wealth that US militarism and multinational business poured into U.S. coffers.”
Now look at our current environment. We have the Republicans who are the defenders of these multinational robber barons and the Democrats who try to put a few curbs on them but are basically in league as well.
We can never turn back the clock but I think it is about time we take another look at the meaning of “progress.” In the current Capitalistic climate, “progress” means making the profits ever higher no matter what the expense, no matter who is hurt financially. Make more money so you can buy more stuff is the meaning of “progress” in the USA.
Thankfully, the tide is turning ever so slightly. People (in California) at least are more apt to purchase locally, at least where foodstuffs are concerned. Some people are questioning the need to buy ever more goods and giving a thought to at least saving some money.
But, it is all a dream, I highly doubt that the tide can be turned and that people will look away from greed and the desire to purchase more things. On one side you have the business people that employ armies of marketers to make people want to buy, to make them feel they do not have enough. On the other, you have a handful of thoughtful people who realize they are being suckered and would like to opt out of the system. These people are the ones who shop at the local farmers markets and do not fall for every single sales pitch thrown at them on a day to day basis.
To sum up the current climate in the USA, I’d like to take a line from the failed presidential contender Herman Cain. ”It’s you’re own fault if you’re not rich.” It seems that in the USA becoming wealthy is the whole purpose of being, the purpose of life, at least in the Republican party.
But, I digress, as I’ve gone off on a tangent again. I guess my point is that I find it so enlightening to uncover a book like “Infinite City” and realize that these class struggles have been fought way before the current crisis. It is fun to be able to look past all the sound bites from the politicians and realize that we’ve been here all before.
I guess if I were to strive for a point which sums it all up, in the USA we have an electorate who is incredibly ignorant of the past and believe all these issues just started as soon as a Hannity or a Limbaugh opened their mouths.
My advice, is to become interested in the past, to look for those ghosts. Only then, can we really understand where we are and where we are going.
Until we can do that, a “Banana Republic” will remain a clothing store and the world would have begun in 1990.