Wednesday, November 26, 2003
Tuesday, November 25, 2003
My beef/amusement, was that they showed that little cardboard racer doing more real off-roading than they show the actual vehicle doing in ANY of their other commercials. Sorry, but driving along a hard-packed gravel road is not my idea of off-roading. My Saturn could probably drive in most of the places they show that stupid thing driving. This article takes a different scathing look at the commercial. It's good.
My goal for this ski/winter season, incidentally, is to see an H2 that has slid off the interstate/road due to its drivers complete lack of driving skills/common sense/intelligence. I am almost willing to put money on this happening. After all, almost every car in the ditches in winter are SUVs. Further supports my belief that most people who own them have no clue how to drive them. Yes, they are a lot heavier and therefore don't necessarily hold the road as well and don't stop nearly as well as a smaller vehicle. It's 4-(or all)wheel drive, not 4-wheel stop. It only helps propel you forward. Morons. Wow. This is definitely a blog for another day. I don't have to time to get into SUVs today.
I am hoping that the attacks on Muslims by these radical groups will alienate potential recruits and that their cause will fizzle out. Hopefully. After all, why would you want to join a group that will be killing your own people and fellow believers? Keep the faith folks. It could happen.
The idea of the diet is this-you cut all the carbos out of your diet. So basically you are eating meat. And that is about it. This, to me, seems to contradict everything weâ€™ve been told about eating healthy. However, the times have changed and this is now an â€œacceptedâ€� healthy way to eat. Bread sales are down across the country. Bakeryâ€™s are losing money. Makes me wonder if maybe the Cattlemenâ€™s Association made this diet up to stimulate their sagging sales? Letâ€™s not digress.
Here is my problem with the diet. I can accept the fact that there are many people who need to lose weight because they are in danger of heart attack, stroke, or other physical ailments as a result of their obesity. I do think this diet could be a good way to get the weight loss started as it works quickly and can be good for self-esteem. My problem, however, is more with people who donâ€™t need a drastic weight loss but just want/need to lose a reasonable amount of weight. I am calling this diet the â€œDiet of the Americasâ€� because it represents our society-lazy and looking for the quickest and easiest solution to a problem. Why do I say this? Hereâ€™s why-this diet does not encourage restraint or self-control in the amount of food being eaten. Eat as much as you want, just make sure there are no carbos. It also does not encourage any kind of lifestyle change-say, exercising now and then. When I first started working after college I gained weight and weighed more than at any other time in my life. What did I do? I started exercising and eating better/less. As a result, I lost some weight. I know some people donâ€™t lose weight very easily, but this diet is a cop out. Instead of having to make any changes (God forbid a person do something that changes their routine and might be a bit of a hassle) such as eating LESS and exercising MORE, you are rewarded for maintaining your lazy lifestyle. I think that is the biggest tragedy of this diet. Itâ€™s great that it works, but it doesnâ€™t teach you anything worthwhile. Besides, you are missing out on eating so many good foods! I am flabbergasted by this whole thing. When did doctors stop promoting veggies and exercise? Not to mention moderation in food quantities?
The craze surrounding this diet saddens me. I wish the people supporting this diet would try and convince people that they need to eat less and START EXERCISING! I guess it makes sense though. How much energy can you have if you eat nothing but meat and never get off your lazy ass?
Monday, November 24, 2003
If you love diamonds, you may not want to read this. Then you'll know what you are contributing to (not to mention the shallow and materialistic side of this product). So have some balls, and read it. Like I said in a previous post, selective ignorance is cowardly.
After his initial trip to Sierra Leone, he returned a couple more times to get his story but also to help the people he'd met and the friends who had helped him escape alive. He found the people there to be very strong and caring, and willing to help him no matter what their risks were as a result. Unfortunately, these people are rocked by constant fighting and brutality.
Reading a book such as this leads me to feel that too many aspects of my life are frivolous and lack any real meaning. So what if my front door leaks cold air. At least I don't have to worry about someone breaking it in to steal everything inside and leaving me dead or mutilated. So what if I have to work 8 hours a day in a small cubicle. At least I have a job that pays me money so that I can protect myself from the elements and having food is not an issue.
It's sad how much we take for granted. However, I have to remind myself that just because these people are so miserable, I don't have to feel bad for what I have or the life I live. I do, however, feel that I ened to try and do what I can for people in situations such as these. Even if that is no more than blogging about it or discussing it in a more public venue, I feel that at least getting the word out is doing something.
Among the pictures in the book, there were 2 that really hit me. The first was of a 3-year old girl, who'd had her right arm amputated above the elbow. Not a medical procedure, but a result of the rebels instilling fear in the people. A 3-year old. No anesthetic, just a machete. The other picture was of a young girl, maybe 8, who had also had her right arm amputated above the elbow. Again, by the rebels. This second girl had a little tray with her plastic sculptures on it that she was attempting to sell. Her pretty little face had the sweetest smile, a smile that belied how proud she was of her artwork despite her best efforts to hide it. Just a heart-wrenchingly sad picture. This cute, former-innocent will never be the same either physically or emotionally. I couldn't tear my eyes away from this girl, couldn't stifle my feelings of disgust and sadness.
What caused this civil war? Why did the bloodshed and viciousness begin? Here is an overview from the BBC Africa website:
"What were the roots of civil war? "
Sierra Leone's civil war was bound up with the struggle for control over the country's vast diamond resources. Years of corruption followed the end of British rule in 1961, as a powerful elite ruled from the capital while the rest of the country remained in poverty. The rural poor grew increasingly resentful, so that when the rebel movement, the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) was created, there was no shortage of recruits. Its leader, Foday Sankoh, who was trained by the British army, formed an alliance with Liberian rebel militia leader Charles Taylor - now president - and launched the war.
As a result of this war, nearly half of the country's 4.5 million population has been displaced, almost 500,000 people are believed to have been displaced in neighboring countries, at least 50,000 people died from the fighting and it's estimated that 100,000 people were victims of mutilation. The infrastructure has collapsed and the economy is in ruins.
Are these numbers accurate? I am sure they are a good ballpark guess. But, how many people who live way out in the bush died and were not accounted for?
All these heinous acts, committed for what? For a stupid rock! A sparkly rock, for God's sake, that is "valuable" because the diamond industry not only hoards most of these rocks, but have convinced too many people that they are not so much a luxury, but more a necessity.
I am sure that little girl with her one-arm made sculptures really appreciates that and is glad a certain multi-national corporation (DB?), among others, has created this frenzy.
It makes me sick.
Friday, November 21, 2003
Through his wife, he has smuggled out excerpts from his prison log and has had them published in several publications. Viva la resistance!
Thursday, November 20, 2003
Well, unless you say something that doesn't appear as idol worhip of every animal. As that Idol guy Clay just found out, you'd better not publicly admit to not liking any animal. Granted, after admitting to hating cats (as many people do) he did say he'd run over a cat before. He did not, however, say whether or not it was on purpose. PETA thinks should now publicly say that all animals deserve respect and should be loved by everyone. (I'll be we could get all their members to admit that they do not love every person they've met). What happened to free speech? Aren't we allowed to not like something or someone?
What worries me is this: will they start filing slander lawsuits against people like Clay? People who have the audacity to not like an animal (sweet Jesus no!) and publicly admit it? It makes sense I suppose. If they don't speak up for those with no voice (slugs, cats, etc), then who will?
Let me just use this time now, to make MY case for equality. Lately I have been waking up in the middle of the night to the same nightmare. It goes like this-I am at a fancy restaurant, eating dinner, when all of a sudden the broccoli on my plate sits up and starts screaming out in pain! Then this huge group of plants comes waltzing in the door with placards against cruelty, the walls (wood) take up the cause and start peeling themselves apart dropping the roof in on all of us diners. Right before I wake up, as I'm laying under the remnants of the kamikaze building materials, the table (more wood), snaps it legs closed around my chest constricting my breath! Then I wake up.
So I am here today, to voice my support of plants and trees and all the vegetation that has no voice. Stop mowing the grass! Don't trim your trees! And for God's sake, quit uprooting those weeds! Stop the deforestation-turning a tree into a home is the most massive injustice that can be forced upon those poor giants who can not run!
And there they go....over the top...
This scandal began in the late 1970's. Maybe the story got played out back then?
Is it another attempt to ignore our history (and to once again, not learn from our mistakes)?
Are we as a country loathe to bring to mind something so garishly wrong; not thinking about it being less guilt-inducing than dredging it back up?
I don't know. But I do know that a man is growing older and sicker in prison, denied his rights, for a crime whose evidence points in a completely different direction.
I remain conflustered
More research needs to be done. It will, however, help the oil and gas industry. I tell you what-they had all better chip in and get ole' Bushie something real nice for Christmas.
Wednesday, November 19, 2003
No more than 10 minutes after I posted that blog, I clicked onto Andrew Sullivans blog page to check out his topics of the hour. Lo and behold, he was talking about a memo that was discussing the Iraq/al Qaida link I had just been purporting never existed! I did not get the time until just now to take a more in depth look at what the memo had to say, and now I’ll jot down some thoughts.
First of all, I am not sure government speak is much clearer than lawyer lingo. Which means that the context of this memo was not nearly as clear to me as I had hoped it would be. No matter, the point was made clear. In this memo, that was drafted to serve as a clear (to some folk) document of the intelligence findings on the supposed connection. Based on what I read, if it is in fact all corroborated, I am closer to giving my full support back to Bush’s decision to invade. If these claims are true, then an all too clear link existed, and may still exist today. However, the Department of Defense issued a statement saying that this memo does not draw any conclusions, etc. etc. I am not yet clear on what it is they (the DoD) are trying to say. I am not sure if they are refuting the facts included in this memo or if they don’t want to be seen as saying for sure that its contents are clear when in actuality they have not yet been validated. I am sure more will arise from this in the coming days. I will try to stay on top of it.
My point being, I am back to being severely unsure as to my opinion on this whole affair. As I stated before, I would like to believe we were totally justified in attacking, and that oil was not the main motivating factor. We’ll see what the next few days brings. I do, however, stand by my belief that our officials (Senor Bush) need to do a major overhaul of their foreign relations and work towards repairing our severely damaged international reputation. Somebody, get Bushie a world religions/history/societal teacher!
After reviewing the article and thelist of this year’s top ten most dangerous toys, I thank my lucky stars that this group did not exist when I was young and that my parents’ paranoia did not approach the level of this group’s members. From the toys listed, I wonder if those making the list are not so much worried about child safety but bitter at their lack of a childhood. Some examples from the list include: a slingshot (danger-eye injuries), a soda fountain with realistic smelling “sodas” (danger-ingestion, allergic reaction), and nunchukus based on a popular terrapin based cartoon (danger-blunt impact). Are they serious? My reaction to these toys is this-did these folks never have a slingshot or play with baseballs? Did they never eat dirt/glue/paste/crayons or stick any non-food items in their mouth? Did they ever play with bats? Or sticks? I’m just glad I didn’t see the big fat red whiffle ball bat on there. Surprising, because based on my childhood I’m pretty sure it causes blunt impact.
To me, this reeks of our recent trend towards a society that is afraid to do anything for fear of litigation, and also one that will never take responsibility for its own actions. For cripe’s sake, my mom kept a close (too close?) eye on us all the time to make sure we didn’t get hurt. When we did get hurt, she bandaged us up, and we’d be off again. Seems these days all efforts are made to eliminate any opportunity for injury, in my mind depriving kids of any fun. Kids can get hurt anywhere, whether or not they have these “dangerous” toys. I’d be more afraid to be a manufacturer than a parent. Litigation is way too easy and too prevalent.
I say let the kids get hurt a little. As long as it doesn’t kill you, why worry? Besides, chicks dig scars.
It is the kind of place that I would expect to produce maladjusted folks. The youngest membed of the Jackson 5 is trying his best to reinforce this stereotype. Seems once again, Michael “Wacko Jacko” Jackson is under investigation. His ranch was searched this week by authorities based on charges of molestation by a 12-year old boy. The reasons for the search were not disclosed.
As I see it, nothing will come of this (except maybe another large out of court settlement. After all, third time’s the charm, right? Not the second.
It’s sad that an entertainer and musician as storied as the “gloved one” is continuing to destroy his reputation. He’s reclusive, strange, and no one can make any sense of his quirkiness. Unfortunately, parents are still allowing him access to their young children. Whether or not the charges/rumors against him are true, if I was a parent I wou;dn’t let my kids get anywhere near his house. Not to mention that he is a father three times over and wants another, by adoption. If he succeeds in adopting another kid, then I’m prone to believe that it’s either easier to adopt than I thought, or superstars really do hold more sway than the rest of us (hard to imagine, I know).
Maybe Bubbles could do us all a favor and knock some sense into this guy.
Tuesday, November 18, 2003
If the details provided in the memo are indeed true, then Bush did not provide false justification, and it is a good thing the regime has been ousted. In response to this leaked memo, the Department of Defense issued the following statement: :
"News reports that the Defense Department recently confirmed new information with respect to contacts between al-Qaida and Iraq in a letter to the Senate Intelligence Committee are inaccurate... The classified annex was not an analysis of the substantive issue of the relationship between Iraq and al Qaida, and it drew no conclusions."
In essence, this tells us nothing. It neither accepts nor refutes the claims made in the memo. It makes a very interesting read. I need to read it closer before talking about it more, maybe tomorrow.
It does however, pose some interesting dilemmas. If it is true, why is it not all over the news? Well, the liberal media will not propagate something that supports Bush and would most likely gain him more public support. If it is not true, then it still calls into question our true reasons for invading Iraq.
Here is my personal beef-I have very little trust for the media, and Iraq related reporting really makes me leery. Here is one reason: since the Iraq war "ended", some newspapers across the country have received letters from soldiers declaring their happiness at being in Iraq, helping their people, and seeing a huge change there as a result. Here's the kicker-some of the soldiers who supposedly wrote these letters, never did. They have public stated that. Other soldiers simply do not exist. A PR campaign by the military? I do not know, but it's very fishy. I read a blog by an Iraqi lambasting war critics. I read it, wondering the whole time if it was actually from an Iraqi or if it was another PR move. I don't know. As a result, I am severely skeptical. I hope the above memo is legitimate and that the claims have been substantiated. But I do not know. Read it, and decide for yourself.
Monday, November 17, 2003
I think it's time people need to realize what is important-maintaining a highly materialistic lifestyle that necessitates a hig paying job with long working hours, or a simpler and happier lifestyle for which a lower paying job with shorter hours would suffice.
It's all a choice: choose to suffer and be miserable for most of your waking life, or be happy.
Saddam Hussein, the ego-maniacal President of Iraq has done little to nothing to improve living conditions for his people while living an opulent lifestyle, even while in seclusion. He didn't claim to have nuclear capabilities or biological weapons, but based on his regime's atrocities and the "intelligence" gathered that "proved" he was a threat, we invaded their country and are still stuck there. Our main reason for this line of action was that he threatened our way of life and compromised the safety of the world. Turns out our intelligence was a sham, that our reasons were not sound. Furthermore, we ignored the UN and all the countries that opposed this action and invaded anyway. Right or wrong, we are there now and hopefully we can finish up quickly without losing many, if any, more lives be they American, Iraqi or otherwise. And hopefully, VP Cheney and his cronies will not become too much wealthier as a result. But again, that was another blog.
Now let's visit North Korea. The North Korean president, Kim Jong Il, is certifiable. The man is crazy. He is paranoid, vain, and completely unpredictable. There are rumors that he indulges in 4 day banquets while a vast majority of his "countrymen" are starving in extreme poverty. Various other rumors include:
1. Kidnapping young women from Japan and elsewhere to be his "companions" in his luxury villas.
2. He is suspected of being behind the 1983 bomb attack in Rangoon that killed several members of
the South Korean Cabinet as well as the bombing of a South Korean airliner in 1987.
3. Atrocities against his own people that are comparable to those committed in Nazi Germany such as: starvation and deprivation (aid packages meant for the poor actually pay for the luxuries of the affluent leaders), virtually non-existent medical facilities, a "general state of mental depression", etc.
Recently, Kim Jong Il reported that they have the necessary materials for nuclear weapons. This has not been verified, but it is being taken very seriously.
Here we have a situation that is potentially much more dangerous than the Iraq situation, a situation in which the people of the country are treated at least as badly and more likely worse than the Iraqi people; this being the backing for a humanitarian imposition (as stated in Iraq). Yet there has been no mention of force, no overt threats such as those used against Hussein, only diplomacy. Granted, Hussein played his game with us for over a decade, so maybe the issue of hurt pride and saving face (on the part of the US) should be considered (as well as the presence of oil, which has already greatly benefited Cheney's "ex"-company. Again, I digress).
Why the differing approaches? Why do we start a war against one dictator but not the other, when the calmer less aggressive approach would seem to make more sense against a true threat (Iraq)? Consistency appears to be suspiciously missing, and our justifications for the Iraqi invasion seem weaker and weaker with each passing day. This only serves to further deteriorate the international community's perceptions of us, and that is a huge failing of this administration. This is yet one more example of our Christian Missionary of a president being unable to discern the nuances between countries; to realize that he will not convert the world to Christianity and that in trying he will only further alienate them; that not every country is the same as the US! This misguided man, who spent almost his entire life in the US, was not exposed to foreign (therefore different) cultures until he took office. That is a catastrophe! He is too closed (simple?) minded to realize that countries are all different! I did not like President Clinton, but I now appreciate his ability to please foreign leaders and BE a politician who knows how to talk to and appease foreign powers. I would almost like him back so that he could try and fix the international damage done to us both as a country and as individuals.
Sorry for the digression at the end there, but those were thoughts just busting to come out. If you look hard and squint, you might see a tenuous connection....
Anyway, I struggle to understand the difference reactions to these situations as well as our avoidance of deplorable conditions in other countries. I struggle to not believe that we started this war for either oil and/or revenge (Saddam did attempt as assassination of Bush Sr). I want to believe that there is much that we don't know in regards to intelligence gathered, but I am having a very tough time. My biggest concern is that more and more of the world will generate hatred towards us and that Americans outside of this country will have infinitely more reasons to fear for their safety.
If you study history (and don't ignore most of it like too many people/leaders do), EVERY GREAT NATION HAS FALLEN. Every single one. And every one had the arrogance and ignorance to feel invincible. This is our attitude. We feel we can not be defeated. Well, why not? If history is right, one day we too will be submissive to another great power. Too often I feel that the arrogance and condescension of our leaders are driving us closer to this end; that the decisions made are serving to speed up the process. We are like a solitary bully in a grade school class-eventually the rest of the class will tire of being harassed and will forego their differences and band together long enough to overcome the bully. I don't like these premises, and I don't like that I am beginning to see us as a bit of a bully.
We are alienating more and more countries and peoples. All the small like to see the great fall. What comes next? Do we become contrite and apologetic? Or continue speeding toward our demise? I hope for the former. I hope Bush either realizes his cowboy attitude is not appreciated, or I hope he is defeated in the next election by someone who understands the need for good international relations.
Pan help us
Where has this left me? Empty, as far as a spiritual life goes. Although I would like to have one, I have not been able to ascribe to any of the few I have done nominal research on. Maybe it’s the engineer in me that won’t allow me to forgo the analytical nature inside me. Maybe I’m waiting for a ‘sign’, an event that many people claim to have had that would bring out the spiritual-ness I think I have hidden deep in the recesses of my psyche.
Losing my spiritual life has brought forth other questions and doubts. If there is no afterlife, if there is no consequence for what we do on this earth, then why spend so much time trying to do good, to be good. To serve others. To be concerned as to how my actions will affect others. Why not live a purely selfish life-to do what I want, when I want, and if others don’t like it so be it? Guilt is an emotion that was buried deep in me and secured with steel tie rods, that won’t allow me to act on these ideas. The guilt doesn’t want to come out. Many times, it rears its nasty little head over inconsequential events, and I have yet to chip away at it, much less purge it from my system. If I do have only one life to live and once it’s over I am nothing but worm fodder, this guilt complex is depriving me of enjoying this life like I should. Another line of thought, is this-what if there is a higher being. What if this higher being did give us this earth for our enjoyment? Throughout history the type of god above has changed-vengeful, forgiving, blinded to our plights. I look at the world around me and the life I have. I live in a beautiful place. I have the intelligence to learn and get more out of life as a result. Granted, my life is multitudes better than the lives many lead. Why is that? Maybe we are reincarnated. Maybe I was a good person in my last life. What if the better we are in our former lives, the better position we are reborn in. What if this upward rise is based not just on how we treat others, but on the enjoyment we get out of our position in life? What if by denying myself certain pleasures (thanks to this wonderful little gnat, aka-guilt) and not enjoying all that I am privy to due to my situation, I am guaranteeing a step backwards in my next life?
Some say that life is what we make of it. Even in a bad situation, a person with the right disposition can find something positive to take from it. Thus, even though things may appear bleak, they can take something good from it. What if this is what we are meant to do? What if every Catholic who lives by the Church’s rules finds him or herself on a train ride back to a new life, and is told by an amused deity that all that the way they lived their life hurt them? That they ignored the pleasures put before them to suffer, and instead of redemption they set themselves up for further suffering?
I like this idea. I like the idea of enjoying life sans guilt; enjoying the good things that I am fortunate enough to have. However, this also means that I have been hurting my chances of a better rebirth by refraining myself from indulging as much as possible.
I like the idea of helping people, of working to make this world a better place. I like working towards helping the environment. Does my latest theory conform to these previous ideals? Let’s check that out.
Helping people-provides gratification to myself and the person being helped. I feel good for helping them and more often than not receive praise and gratitude in return, which furthers the enjoyment
Helping the environment-again, even little steps such as re-using aluminum foil provides some feeling of accomplishment. Plus, in helping the environment I am helping to preserve something I hold dear and something that provides a plethora of enjoyment to my life. Therefore, it’s a two-fold gain on my part.
Respecting/being considerate of others-being respected by people is a good feeling. Having something be curious about and respect my opinion also adds to my life’s pleasure. If I show a person no respect or consideration, then I can expect none back, and am therefore depriving myself of receiving their goodwill.
A couple of quick examples, but I think I feel that this new idea of mine (though I am sure it’s not an original) coincides with my existing outlook on life.
The challenge becomes knowing when to ignore what you think is a quest for happiness, and waiting out the moments of regret to reap the rewards. This, I think, is what experience is all about. We have to suffer and lose out to really know what it is that will make us the happiest. And if we don’t go thru this process, we will not be as happy as we could be.
I will have to revisit this topic. Not a bad start though, I don’t think.
Sunday, November 16, 2003
Have you heard of Leonard Peltier? Most likely not. Who is he, you ask? He is an American Indian activist serving two consecutive life sentences for the 1975 murders of 2 FBI agents on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota. The details of his “crime” and punishment are detailed in the website above. Why is this something worth mentioning? I think it’s newsworthy for a couple of reasons.
Native Americans in the US are some of the most impoverished, least employed and least educated people, a fate which would evoke sympathetic news articles and stories were it another group suffering this fate. However, it is very rare that their plight is highlighted by the mainstream media. Would it make a good story? It has all the makings of a scandalous and heart wrenching expose. They are a people slaughtered by our government of old. Forced from their homes and land, to some of the most desolate land we have in this country-South Dakota, deserts of New Mexico and Arizona, forced to live on these reservations which are supposedly sovereign land. Their history is rife with bloodshed, betrayal, and sorrow. Read the books “Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee” and “The Trail of Tears”, and you will garner an understanding of how they came to arrive at their present state. I could launch into a pages long diatribe about the injustices to which they have been subject, but that is a “blog” for another time. Suffice to say, theirs is a history of which this country is not proud. A history which is not taught in high school history classes-classes which stick to stories such as those of Sacajawea and other native Americans whose history is positive and supportive of the “American dream” (manifest destiny), or those who are portrayed as bloodthirsty, cold hearted fanciers of scalps. The real stories and histories are saved for those who indulge in further education, satisfy their curiosity with their own research, and the descendants of those who suffered. We condemn those who practice ethnic-cleansing, yet we refuse to look back at our own history and accept the fact that we too, once embraced the same practices. There is a saying: “those who refuse to accept history are doomed to relive it”. Such is our history as a country. Continual denial of our practices while preaching to those subject to our domination.
But I digress.
Back to Leonard Peltier. Again I pose the question, why do I resurrect a story that is seemingly in the past and no longer relevant to us today? The man killed 2 federal agents. Why question his incarceration?
These facts are known: the trial which imprisoned Peltier was rife with corruption, lies, and blatant disregard for the justice system and Pelier’s rights. Evidence was withheld. Witnesses were intimidated into giving false testimony against Peltier. Witnesses have since recanted their statements and cover-ups have been exposed Despite all this, he remains in jail, parole hearings have been denied, re-trials have been denied, and now it’s nearly 27 years hence and he is still in jail.
For a situation so central to native American plight, why do any relevant news stories always appear deep into a newspaper-for example, page 38 in the Denver Rocky Mountain News, November 5, 2003? And if conditions are so horrid, why do are we not enlightened to their plight?
It is easier to forget our past transgressions than to atone for them and admit the error of our ways, hoping the problem will disappear.
What does this term mean? My definition is this: Someone who practices purposeful ignorance is a person who ignores the facts on an issue or situation while knowing or having a good hunch that there is a darker side to the issue. They do this knowing that there is a possibility that knowing the facts will necessitate a lifestyle or habit change, thus causing an “inconvenience” in their life.
You may say that this is ok. That “what you don’t know won’t hurt you”. Personally, I think this act of cowardice is more worthy of scorn than knowing the facts and ignoring them. Here are a couple of examples:
It is a pretty well known fact that the meat industry practices are not very upstanding. The use of hormones, antibiotics, poor feed (animal parts, garbage, etc) are rampant among the larger producers, and these practices are harmful to people who consume this meat. Books have been written (I.e.-Fast Food Nation, Eric Schlosser) that highlight the poor practices in the industry. I have met many people who have an inkling that there are things that they don’t want to know, and many have said to me that they “would rather not know”. Why would they say this? Why would they not want to know more about something that directly affects their health? Well, becoming informed they may have to stop eating fast food, buy organic (more expensive) consumables, essentially change their lifestyle. It’s easier for them to just not know.
The diamond industry is a pretty shady industry. It’s controlled by a corporation that is a monopoly-the US government has laws prohibiting more than a certain number of executives of this country from being on US soil at any time. Prices are driven way up because this one corporation controls the supply. Many of these diamonds come from countries that have no worker rights, therefore mine working conditions are deplorable-and the miners do not see the profits that the corp. execs do. In fact, this trade has wrought many wars and conflicts on undeveloped countries as a result of the demand for these rocks. Mutilation, murder, and exploitation are common. Most people do not want to hear any of this because they like these shiny, pretty things. They want to avoid the guilt that would result from knowing the details about the industry.
These are just a coupe of examples, but there are countless issues whose details are avoided. This cowardice propagates the problems. What if, back in the day, everyone had turned a blind eye to the way women are treated in the workplace? What if all those who had the power decided that they didn’t want to look at what was going on outside of their little bubble? What if “the Man” had ignored all the injustices being acted out against women and minorities? This is still being done in many countries, and as a result the situation is still desperate for women.
What about sweatshops? We have all these activists that donate their time in an attempt to better the condition of workers in third world sweatshops. People who attempt to get American corporations to take responsibility for their use of these sweatshops. How come no one takes up the cause of the people in Sierra Leone who were mutilated by the rebels that cut off peoples’ arms (if they didn’t kill them outright) in an effort to keep control of diamond mines? Where is the media blitz decrying this type of atrocity?
It saddens me to see so many intelligent people purposely avoiding the facts of some situations that would directly affect their lifestyle while taking up the cause of other causes that have no affect on them.
As a country, we need to wake up and realize the influence we have over the rest of the world. We need to take responsibility for the “hidden” effects our actions have on other countries and peoples. We are the most influential country in the world. We acknowledge this. Now we have to start holding ourselves to a higher standard than we hold others. We have to lose the hypocrisy and try and rectify all atrocious situations instead of simply the ones that won’t “ruin” our lives.
I say, grow up people! If you are afraid of knowing the facts, you know you are doing something wrong. Let’s take responsibility, and try to make this world (not just our immediate, cloistered world) a better place.
Friday, November 14, 2003
This is another post that was prompted by my sister's experiences in Uganda. She returned to the states decrying Shell Oil and their practices. When I asked her why, she told me to research Ken Saro-Wiwa.
"WHAT KIND OF COUNTRY IS THIS?"
These were the last words spoken by a Nigerian writer, Ken Saro-Wiwa, before he was hanged by the Nigerian government. Ken Saro-Wiwa led peaceful protests against Shell and their exploitation of the Ogoni land and people, his people. Trumped up charges were filed, and alongside 8 other people, he was hanged. Civil charges were filed against Shell, but I have been unable to find any results of that trial. To me this is another example of a large, wealthy corporation doing business in a small country and taking advantage of them simply because they are poor and have no real means to fight back. Yes, some jobs are provided and more money is brought into that country. And those people at first will welcome the work, now matter how squalid the conditions, because then they will have at least some income. A nice excuse is, "a bad job is better than no job". In my mind, this does not justify the abuse that is levied against these poor people. This large corporation could make a little less profit while conforming to standards accepted in developed countries and treating their new employees like real people.
Similar to sweat shops, moving jobs to third world countries leads to horrible working conditions. When they are caught, these companies like to swear they didn't know what was going on and that they never would have done business with them if they had known. And then they immediately cease their operations there. First of all, I have my doubts that no one knows the true working conditions of these jobs. Secondly, I would think a company like Shell Oil or Nike would have enough profit to make an attempt to IMPROVE a situation they were exploiting instead of ceasing all connections. Wouldn't that prove that they care about the people, like they claim, instead of just their profits, like they swear is not the case?
It's a very weak response to a terrible situation. And in the case of Ken Saro-Wiwa, it's a disgusting display of the greed and single-mindedness of these corporations and their execs. Killing men, simply because they disagreed with their treatment.
Let me put it another way. Let's say oil is found off the coast of Florida. Oil is constantly spilled into the ocean. Beaches are unusable because of the pollution that results from negligence and apathy towards the local residents. People become sick and some die from the pollution. Livelihoods are destroyed from the inaccessibility of the ocean. Protests begin forming. A charismatic leader emerges to unify the movement. He is charged for crimes it is well known he didn't commit, and is executed or hauled off to prison to never be heard from again.
Would the American people stand for this? No. It would never happen.
Why spread this story? So people know what is going on outside of this little bubble most of the people in our country live inside. To use an excuse such as, "I'm just one person. Nothing I do will make a difference." That, also, is a weak excuse. It is another way of saying "I'm lazy, and don't feel like making any change that might cause me to exert myself at all." One person can make a difference. Change has to start somewhere. What am I trying to say? Don't by Shell Oil. Don't buy big unnecessary SUVs and other fuel inefficient vehicles. Become more informed on what is going on in the rest of the world, and for God's sake stop insulating yourself!! This country is way too good at being selectively ignorant-a good way to not "know the truth" (or at least specific details) and therefore not elicit any changes from yourself. But that is a rant for another day.
Interesting, isn't it? He doesn't work there anymore, supposedly. Somehow this same company keeps getting these huge contracts from the government. A coincidence, or more than that? The opening quote was extracted from the article linked above. I like the quote, because since DC and Bushie were elected, I've been wondering where Cheney has been. We know he was hiding out on 9/11, he was here in Denver last week (mucking up traffic and eradicating half the parking spots in downtown), and because he flew into Des Moines around the time the plane that was to take me to Vegas was supposed to depart, I made it to my buddy's bachelor party about 4 hours late (in retrospect, probably a good thing).
It does seem a bit suspicious to me, all these connections. Maybe they are just the best company for the job, I don't know. If I had any faith in our top politicians being honest and dependable, I would not wonder. That, however, is not the case.
This article illustrates the rampant AIDS epidemic in Africa, and why there is so little containment of the disease there. My little sister was stationed in Uganda when she was in the Peace Corps, teaching health to local communities. Her stories definitely echoed this story, and allow me to expand a bit based on what she imparted to me.
Men there do not like wearing a condom. Having sex and having kids is a huge deal to them. They feel they need to have kids (with or without being married) or else they are not a man. My sister was counseling a young guy who did not want his girlfriend to finish school (she had a year or so left). He wanted her to drop out so that they could get married and he could impregnate her. He did not finish school, had no job or money, she had no money, but he did not care. He could not wait for her to finish school, even though it would mean she would be able to get a job and make some money for them to live on. She insisted on waiting. My sister tried vainly to get this kid to understand why he should wait. He ignored everything she said. All he cared about was having a kid and achieving a higher status. You might think, why doesn't she get rid of him? Good question. Different society, different way of looking at things-they laugh at us Americans for being monogamous. They don't think it's natural. This girl did insist that her boyfriend wear a condom. Which he did. But he told my sister he was going to poke a hole in it so that he could get her pregnant. This is a common practice, apparently.
A sad state of affairs.
Thursday, November 13, 2003
Last night the Bushmills people had a promotional tasting at the Oxford Hotel here in Denver. A few of my buddies and I headed down there to check things out and expand our repertoire of fine liquors (and indulge in some free shwag). The Oxford is a pretty swank hotel, so the setting was very nice; there were some sit-down tables, stand-up tables, all with flowers and candles. Two bartenders were dispensing the drinks (on the rocks being my choice) and several folks were walking around with hors d'vours (sp?). The food was excellent as was the whiskey.
After an hour or so of socializing, we headed upstairs to the tasting room. Dozens of long tables were set up and at each place setting were snifters with 4 varieties of Bushmills, one with Jim Beam, and one with Johnny Walker Red. The older Irish gentleman conducting the tasting was hysterical. Lots of 'tales', lots of drinking. He had us sample and notice the difference between them first with our noses, and then with our tongues. VERY good comparison test. Bushmills won hands down.
After the tasting, a drawing of sorts was held to give away some Bushmills flasks as well as a few 1/5ths of their whiskey. The tasting was concluded with a sampling of the 21 year Bushmills whiskey, which was excellent.
This was all followed by a couple more drinks and some more snacks back downstairs. On the way out, we received our "goody bags": a small bottle of Bushmills, a t-shirt and a pin.
All in all a great time, and a tasting that puts JW to shame and even out does the Guinness tasting. I foresee a trip to the store to buy a bottle...unless it's too expensive, then I'll send that request along to Santa!
Wednesday, November 12, 2003
This guy, a lawyer (is that a surprise?), gets the ball, no ridicule, and is probably going to make a butt-load of money. I wonder if he was one of the MANY OTHER people reaching for the ball?
Leave SB alone already.
Seems fair to me.
First of all, the separation of Church (10 C's) and State (courthouse) is a stipulation in the Constitution. This guy has decided that he can ignore that. Additionally, he is in a position of power! He and his supports have decided that he DOESN'T NEED to abide by the higher court's order for him to remove it. This gives hope to all those who have been judicially ordered to pay child support, taxes, refrain from murder. Now they can just say, "By the precedent set in the State of Alabama, I am justified in not abiding by the so-called 'laws' put forth by these supposed courts". Wow. I am flabbergasted.
If we wanted, we could even break into Christianity (only my lunch hour is not long enough). The first 2 COMMANDMENTS:
1. You shall have no other gods before Me.
2. 'You shall not make for yourself a carved image--any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth
The second commandment prohibits, essentially, idolatry. Since idolatry is not allowed, by God's decree, then how can this guy justify his need for this monument? Is it not essentially an image? The only message he is helping to spread is the hypocrisy in the Church (what other idols are there? Based on my Catholic upbringing, let's see: Mary, Joseph, Jesus, all the Saints, the Pope. None of these are the Lord God, yet there are prayers to them, statues, shrines, etc. A bit hypocritical?)
But I digress. We (I) were discussing this Alabama fiasco. Let me continue my original rant.
Freedom of religion is guaranteed in the First Amendment to the Constitution. Religious advocates (zealots?) contend that belief in a God is a premise this country was founded on. Many try to argue that it was a Judeo-Christian God. Supporters of this edifice contend that to deny its placement in the courthouse violates the First Amendment. What do I think of that? Hypocrisy. Are we a country sans non-Christian beliefs systems? A Buddhist doesn't believe that God gave these "10 Commandments" to some crazy old man on top of a mountain. What about their rights? These groups proclaiming Christianity as this country's religion, doesn't that violate the rights of these other religions? What about atheists? Why are they discarded? Though not a religion in the traditional sense of the word, they have a belief structure. Why must their rights and beliefs be ignored? Hypocrisy is one of my biggest pet peeves in life, and these groups that supposedly stand for so many good things, lose sight of the bigger picture in their efforts to force their beliefs on the rest of us. If a Muslim group were to demand that a statue of Mohammad be placed in this same courthouse, what do you suppose the reaction would be? Complete disbelief and outrage. I am amazed at how closed and single minded these groups can be. Do they not see the hypocrisy? Can they not put themselves in non-Christian shoes and see why some people may not agree with them? If they can force their beliefs (boy, I'm starting to sound overly repetitive) on others, because they are "right", why can't other religions, who are likewise "right", do the same? If this country decides to identify one belief as "correct", that alienates ALL THE REST!! I get heartburn over this stuff. Maybe I lack some perspective as well, but I feel like so many people have none!
I am glad we have civil rights groups who try and maintain some semblance of partiality in these matters. Not that they do in all cases, but in a case like this where they are truly attempting to defend the rights of all (not one group, large as it may be).
This is why I have a hard time reading the news. I FEEL LIKE I'M TAKING CRAZY PILLS!!
Do I have a point? Of course not. Just rambling.
Tuesday, November 11, 2003
I am the gutsy lioness (though not female) chasing after my motivation (wildebeest), my drive (springbok), and desire to succeed (eland). My work plays the part of the bored lion, watching and waiting for me to catch my elusive prey, thusly enabling imminent involvement and subsequent gorging. My inability to bring down any quarry precludes any involvement on the part of the lion (work).
I hope the bwana (Big Boss Man) remains 2 days behind, tracking my spoor, unaware of the primeval struggle ensuing under the blazing sun (neon).
Misunderstood and subject to scorn.
Ne’er a way for you to be sure
Long since a smile on your face has worn
A youthful tyke becomes an adult boor.
Whose scorn doth cause our flow’r to wilt.
Alone in heart like our sighing Moor,
If only memory could be kilt.
My heart it breaks when sign is seen,
I am powerless to vanquish the Pain
And erase the scars caused by such men.
What I would not give to erase the stain.
To continue along the fast food rant, it appears the obesity case against McDonald's (and other fast foods) has been dropped. I concur with those who think McD's and many other f.f. stores have some terrible practices in regards to poor employee treatment, money-over-everything mentality, but I am glad this case has been dropped. To blame a restaurant (loose interpretation of the word) for your own inability to eat right, exercise, and exhibit some semblance of self-control? Welcome to our "blameless" society; an overabundance of "it's not my fault"-ism, shamelessly blaming another party for your own failings (a fact not lost on anyone) has taken over and allowed "us" an easy way out. Thank you to the lawyers for making this all possible!
Makes me think of all those times I've screwed up in my life, causing pain and humiliation to myself while drawing retribution down onto my scrawny shoulders. In hind sight, I should have ignored my parents' teachings and not taken responsibility for my own actions. Apparently, this old fashioned notion has lost its appeal. The saying, "take it like a man. Take what's coming to you" no longer applies. The new saying should be, "toss around the blame. It's not your fault. Make someone else pay you for your idiocy!". Gutless. Spineless. Have a little self-respect.
Spur of the moment rant. Please excuse the rambling, disjointed comments
Ok, seriously, who wrote that? Out of all that mess above, how much is true? well, not much. though I did have a dream once in which I was "dating" Jennifer A. So I figure, I must look like BP, right? I was just projecting myself into his life which should be mine.
I need a hobby
Monday, November 10, 2003
If anyone actually read my drivel, I might be in danger of receiving hate mail for this blog. As it is, I don't think I have any reason to be concerned. Of what am I writing? The unnatural obsession with the donuts known as Krispy Kreme.
My first exposure to these DONUTS was out in LA on a summer trip to visit a college buddy. I'd never heard of them, but on our way down to San Diego (I had to find my girlfriend. She'd bailed on me a couple days earlier to have some "quality time" with her sis, and she had my flight info) we stopped to grab some KK's for breakfast. My initial reaction was to the foul smelling liquid they were pumping into the parking lot. It reminded me of my college field trip to the local wastewater treatment plant. Not pleasant. We went through the drive-thru, got a box, and headed down. I had a couple, and had a reaction no different than my reaction to the dozens of Dunkin Donuts I ate in high school (losers that we were, we thought DD was a cool place to hang out at night. Oops). However, once we reached San Diego and started walking to the beach (predetermined meeting place), my view on these little pastries changed. After only 50 feet, the first person we tried to pass stopped, blocked the walk, and demanded to know where we had gotten the little treats. We divulged the info, and were offered money for donuts that were now sun heated and congealing. We declined, and were eventually allowed past.
The situation did not improve on the beach. Several people spotted the box hidden under my girlfriend's beach chair and came up begging to have the opportunity to buy these donuts from us. I was flabbergasted! Even the fear induced by my near drowning in the ocean that day did not compare to the fear I felt when people reacted to our box of donuts. Somehow we made it off the beach in one piece and retreated in doors where we could have some peace.
We flew back to Colorado that night, and Krispy Kreme left my mind, temporarily. A couple years later, this burgeoning donut empire expanded its wares to my state. Upon hearing the throngs profess their elation at this new "opportunity" to pack on the pounds, I was reminded of my California trip and became wary. Fortunately, the store opened well south of my neck of the woods, and I felt safe. After an eternal build up, the store finally opened. The news coverage rivaled that of the OJ Simpson trial, and I still found myself confounded by this obsession felt by so many. When they showed the high school teens that had BYPASSED THEIR SPRING BREAK to camp outside the door waiting for the grand opening, I almost swore off the accursed things for life. When I was in high school-granted, we were dorky and did idiotical things, but in my defense I was not allowed to venture out of town during spring break or risk facing the wrath of my track coach-we hung out with friends, saw movies, and camped outside Hooters (MUCH more respectable than some donut shop) to get good seats for a radio broadcast featuring the Professor from Gilligan's Island. Now THAT was worth the ridicule. But I digress. I could not believe the troubles people were putting themselves thru to get these stupid pastries-2 hour waits in line at 5am everyday for months, fights in the lunch room when a sadistic co-worker decided to not bring in enough for everyone, the forest fires for God's sake! (I have a new theory-our state burned up because TB wanted to work for Krispy Kreme, but didn't have an adequate resume, and was hoping the flames would reach the new store....). All in all, insanity.
We have a client that was bringing us boxes of these treats every Friday for months. Then he saw the ballooning bellies (in our defense, we are engineers so the gut is inevitable, apparently) and started bringing donuts instead. During that time I had many varieties of these donuts (who can pass up free stuff? Leave me alone). What is my conclusion? Do I find them better than Dunkin Donuts (a virtual nonentity in CO.)? Are they worthy of worship and self-sacrifice in the quest to consume a box full?
NO!! THEY ARE JUST FREAKIN DONUTS!!!
I do believe it is time for me to head home. Hopefully without getting run off the road, again, on my cycle. Speaking of which, anyone want to buy it?
Tomorrow, the fun begins