Shethjuice

Post(s) tagged with "long reads"

The Twitter Trap - Bill Keller

Last week my wife and I told our 13-year-old daughter she could join Facebook. Within a few hours she had accumulated 171 friends, and I felt a little as if I had passed my child a pipe of crystal meth.

I don’t mean to be a spoilsport, and I don’t think I’m a Luddite. I edit a newspaper that has embraced new media with creative, prizewinning gusto. I get that the Web reaches and engages a vast, global audience, that it invites participation and facilitates — up to a point — newsgathering. But before we succumb to digital idolatry, we should consider that innovation often comes at a price. And sometimes I wonder if the price is a piece of ourselves.

Joshua Foer’s engrossing best seller “Moonwalking With Einstein” recalls one colossal example of what we trade for progress. Until the 15th century, people were taught to remember vast quantities of information. Feats of memory that would today qualify you as a freak — the ability to recite entire books — were not unheard of.

Then along came the Mark Zuckerberg of his day, Johannes Gutenberg. As we became accustomed to relying on the printed page, the work of remembering gradually fell into disuse. The capacity to remember prodigiously still exists (as Foer proved by training himself to become a national memory champion), but for most of us it stays parked in the garage.

Sometimes the bargain is worthwhile; I would certainly not give up the pleasures of my library for the ability to recite “Middlemarch.” But Foer’s book reminds us that the cognitive advance of our species is not inexorable.

My father, who was trained in engineering at M.I.T. in the slide-rule era, often lamented the way the pocket calculator, for all its convenience, diminished my generation’s math skills. Many of us have discovered that navigating by G.P.S. has undermined our mastery of city streets and perhaps even impaired our innate sense of direction. Typing pretty much killed penmanship. Twitter and YouTube are nibbling away at our attention spans. And what little memory we had not already surrendered to Gutenberg we have relinquished to Google. Why remember what you can look up in seconds?

Robert Bjork, who studies memory and learning at U.C.L.A., has noticed that even very smart students, conversant in the Excel spreadsheet, don’t pick up patterns in data that would be evident if they had not let the program do so much of the work.

“Unless there is some actual problem solving and decision making, very little learning happens,” Bjork e-mailed me. “We are not recording devices.”

Foer read that Apple had hired a leading expert in heads-up display — the transparent dashboards used by pilots. He wonders whether this means that Apple is developing an iPhone that would not require the use of fingers on keyboards. Ultimately, Foer imagines, the commands would come straight from your cerebral cortex. (Apple refused to comment.)

“This is the story of the next half-century,” Foer told me, “as we become effectively cyborgs.”

Basically, we are outsourcing our brains to the cloud. The upside is that this frees a lot of gray matter for important pursuits like FarmVille and “Real Housewives.” But my inner worrywart wonders whether the new technologies overtaking us may be eroding characteristics that are essentially human: our ability to reflect, our pursuit of meaning, genuine empathy, a sense of community connected by something deeper than snark or political affinity.

The most obvious drawback of social media is that they are aggressive distractions. Unlike the virtual fireplace or that nesting pair of red-tailed hawks we have been live-streaming on nytimes.com, Twitter is not just an ambient presence. It demands attention and response. It is the enemy of contemplation. Every time my TweetDeck shoots a new tweet to my desktop, I experience a little dopamine spritz that takes me away from … from … wait, what was I saying?

My mistrust of social media is intensified by the ephemeral nature of these communications. They are the epitome of in-one-ear-and-out-the-other, which was my mother’s trope for a failure to connect.

I’m not even sure these new instruments are genuinely “social.” There is something decidedly faux about the camaraderie of Facebook, something illusory about the connectedness of Twitter. Eavesdrop on a conversation as it surges through the digital crowd, and more often than not it is reductive and redundant. Following an argument among the Twits is like listening to preschoolers quarreling: You did! Did not! Did too! Did not!

As a kind of masochistic experiment, the other day I tweeted “#TwitterMakesYouStupid. Discuss.” It produced a few flashes of wit (“Give a little credit to our public schools!”); a couple of earnestly obvious points (“Depends who you follow”); some understandable speculation that my account had been hacked by a troll; a message from my wife (“I don’t know if Twitter makes you stupid, but it’s making you late for dinner. Come home!”); and an awful lot of nyah-nyah-nyah (“Um, wrong.” “Nuh-uh!!”). Almost everyone who had anything profound to say in response to my little provocation chose to say it outside Twitter. In an actual discussion, the marshaling of information is cumulative, complication is acknowledged, sometimes persuasion occurs. In a Twitter discussion, opinions and our tolerance for others’ opinions are stunted. Whether or not Twitter makes you stupid, it certainly makes some smart people sound stupid.

I realize I am inviting blowback from passionate Tweeters, from aging academics who stoke their charisma by overpraising every novelty and from colleagues at The Times who are refining a social-media strategy to expand the reach of our journalism. So let me be clear that Twitter is a brilliant device — a megaphone for promotion, a seine for information, a helpful organizing tool for everything from dog-lover meet-ups to revolutions. It restores serendipity to the flow of information. Though I am not much of a Tweeter and pay little attention to my Facebook account, I love to see something I’ve written neatly bitly’d and shared around the Twittersphere, even when I know — now, for instance — that the verdict of the crowd will be hostile.

The shortcomings of social media would not bother me awfully if I did not suspect that Facebook friendship and Twitter chatter are displacing real rapport and real conversation, just as Gutenberg’s device displaced remembering. The things we may be unlearning, tweet by tweet — complexity, acuity, patience, wisdom, intimacy — are things that matter.

There is a growing library of credible digital Cassandras who have explored what new media are doing to our brains (Nicholas Carr, Jaron Lanier, Gary Small and Gigi Vorgan, William Powers, et al.). My own anxiety is less about the cerebrum than about the soul, and is best summed up not by a neuroscientist but by a novelist. In Meg Wolitzer’s charming new tale, “The Uncoupling,” there is a wistful passage about the high-school cohort my daughter is about to join.

Wolitzer describes them this way: “The generation that had information, but no context. Butter, but no bread. Craving, but no longing.”

- Bill Keller 

Bin Laden Bites the Dust….What Does This Mean for US?

On Sunday night, May 1st 2011, the world was informed that a small group of U.S. Navy SEALS had killed Osama Bin Laden and obtained his body in Abbottabad, Pakistan. 

When the news hit my twitter feed showed that people were feeling every emotion. 

  • joy - for getting the leader of Al Qaeda, the guy known to be the reason we are at war. etc. 
  • disgust - by people cheering for the death of someone.
  • bisbelief - same as the above AND/OR that we actually got him. 
  • offence - Pakistans offended by what people are assuming of their county. 
  • pride - to be an American and living in a country of “justice” who got the guy on the most wanted list in the world. 
  • annoyance - the people who are not familiar with who Bin Laden is. 
  • etc. 

All of these emotions are justifiable; we’re allowed to have our own opinions here. That’s what we’re taught (for the most part). Bin Laden taught his followers that there is only one right way, the Sharia law (a skewed misinterpretation of it.) After Saudi Arabia invited U.S. troops for help when Saddam Hussein invaded them is when Bin Laden turned his attention to the West. He was outraged that Saudi Arabia wanted non-Muslim help and that they invited them onto their sacred soil. Bin Laden wanted to get back at America for interfering within the Muslim countries. He was angered by Saudi Arabia’s picking USA’s help instead of his. In a letter to America he states: 

(c) Under your supervision, consent and orders, the governments of our countries which act as your agents, attack us on a daily basis;

(i) These governments prevent our people from establishing the Islamic Shariah, using violence and lies to do so.

(ii) These governments give us a taste of humiliation, and places us in a large prison of fear and subdual.

(iii) These governments steal our Ummah’s wealth and sell them to you at a paltry price.

(there is more to this section.) 

 

(3) You may then dispute that all the above does not justify aggression against civilians, for crimes they did not commit and offenses in which they did not partake:

(a) This argument contradicts your continuous repetition that America is the land of freedom, and its leaders in this world. Therefore, the American people are the ones who choose their government by way of their own free will; a choice which stems from their agreement to its policies. Thus the American people have chosen, consented to, and affirmed their support for the Israeli oppression of the Palestinians, the occupation and usurpation of their land, and its continuous killing, torture, punishment and expulsion of the Palestinians. The American people have the ability and choice to refuse the policies of their Government and even to change it if they want.

Yes, we have the ability to change and we have. No, maybe America hasn’t done everything right, but no country has and neither has any human-Being. America for the most part may be a greedy country, but that doesn’t mean its people as a whole are. We may not agree with everything that goes on. We may even hold protests, but no riots that lead to violence. The majority of Americans don’t act out in violence. Violent acts occur, but nothing close to the extent of the acts performed by bin Laden or terrorists groups. Bin Laden believed fully of the story of his religion. There is no fault in that, but there is fault in killing people for being different especially doing so in the name of religion. Not only did he kill non-Muslims; he also killed Muslim faith followers. Even though he claimed that these killings were justified in the name of Allah it gives people of the Muslim faith a bad reputation, one that they do not deserve. 

Many of the things he said in the letter to America were true, but instead of trying to negotiate he acted out in violence. Some people think that violence is the only way to win, but look at Gandhi, MLK Jr., Anna Hazare, etc. They are people who got and are getting things done without any violence. However, the actions made by bin Laden and his terrorists organizations resulted in war. 

Our country may not experience the war first hand because it isn’t on our soil, but we have been affected by it. From high security laws at airports to color-coded terrorists threats we’ve had a little taste of what Bin Laden has done to this country. The war started because we were told that we need to find the terrorist organizations and stop them. (Of course I don’t think that is the only reason we went to war.) This man was known for the start of it all. 

‎”I mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy. Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.

—someone said marthin luther king said it…then someone said he didnt say it… either way, im glad someone said it, i like it. 

Violence will never bring peace, but if the people who keep practicing violence are gone then we have a better chance of getting closer to peace. We are at war; one that many of us wish wasn’t going on. The fact that we can’t change this (this second) is something we must be aware of. So, by one of the main men who started the terrorists organizations being deceased, we have a greater chance at attaining world peace. Not only was America harmed by his terrorists organizations, but many other countries were and still are. 

The celebration should not be for the demise of Osama bin Laden, but for the hopeful death to terrorists organizations, evil beliefs he instilled in his terrorists groups, and the death to fear. When the Navy SEALS went into the mansion to kill bin Laden they also got all his hard-drives and thumb-drives. This could bring us knowledge on what the terrorists organizations have planned and give us a better chance at stopping them. Talks about negotiations are going on right now.

“How are we going to get there? We can get there by continuing to fight them. I don’t think that’s actually a strategy that is successful. Or we can get there by negotiating with them in such a way to allow a political settlement where they’re part of the government,” Anne-Marie Slaughter.

-http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/with-bin-ladens-death-us-sees-a-chance-to-hasten-the-end-of-the-afghan-war/2011/05/03/AF3TlNjF_story_1.html

With the end of this man-hunt hopefully we can focus on bringing peace within nations. As well as not spending more money on war, but on education, environmental issues, and things that can benefit not only us but the Earth as well. We may not be a country without corruption, but we are better off than most other countries. We don’t have to see wars fought on our land, we aren’t detained for speaking out against the government, we aren’t completely brain washed into thinking our way is the only way, etc. 

This wasn’t written to entertain you or change your view, but to only inform you. You have the freedom to make your own opinions, something that bin Laden was trying to take away. The freedom is yours and never take that for granted. 

(If anything seems biased I apologize. I tried my best not to voice all of my opinions on this matter.)

Institute for Marine Mammal Studies veterinary technician Wendy Hatchett prepares to take a skin sample from a dead bottlenose dolphin that was found decomposing on Ono Island, Ala. and brought for examination to Gulfport, Miss. Since January, 155 young or even fetal dolphins and small whales have washed up dead on Gulf beaches - more than four times the normal amount - according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. A NOAA official called the oil spill “a possible cause” in the uptick in deaths. (Patrick Semansky/AP) 
It’s been a year since the Oil spill and there is STILL oil in the Gulf, beaches, and the marsh. Check out more not so horrific but still heart-breaking pictures and info at 
http://www.boston.com/bigpicture/2011/04/gulf_oil_spill_one_year_later.html
I have to add that I can’t believe BP is trying to start drilling there again! AND if that doesn’t get under your skin let me add this - Transocean Ltd. which operated the Deepwater Horizon drilling, just gave their execs bonuses because the company had completed it’s best year of safety. Yes, I said best year of safety. 

This set off extra payments to management of $250,000. Only after a media outcry and harsh words from Interior Secretary Ken Salazar did the management decide to hand over this share of its compensation to the families of the deceased.

Institute for Marine Mammal Studies veterinary technician Wendy Hatchett prepares to take a skin sample from a dead bottlenose dolphin that was found decomposing on Ono Island, Ala. and brought for examination to Gulfport, Miss. Since January, 155 young or even fetal dolphins and small whales have washed up dead on Gulf beaches - more than four times the normal amount - according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. A NOAA official called the oil spill “a possible cause” in the uptick in deaths. (Patrick Semansky/AP) 

It’s been a year since the Oil spill and there is STILL oil in the Gulf, beaches, and the marsh. Check out more not so horrific but still heart-breaking pictures and info at 

http://www.boston.com/bigpicture/2011/04/gulf_oil_spill_one_year_later.html

I have to add that I can’t believe BP is trying to start drilling there again! AND if that doesn’t get under your skin let me add this - Transocean Ltd. which operated the Deepwater Horizon drilling, just gave their execs bonuses because the company had completed it’s best year of safety. Yes, I said best year of safety. 

This set off extra payments to management of $250,000. Only after a media outcry and harsh words from Interior Secretary Ken Salazar did the management decide to hand over this share of its compensation to the families of the deceased.

About a week ago I posted a link to an article on today’s music being more “I” then “we” based. I wanna expose you to some mindful music with lyrics that will get your juices flowing and actually get you to think! Along with thinking you can jam out to it too! Perfect right?! 

This song by The Prophet Nathan - “Gates” explores the web of lies spun by corporations, media, and the government. 

“I see in the near future a crisis approaching that unnerves me and causes me to tremble for the safety of my country. Corporations have been enthroned, an era of corruption in high places will follow, and the money-power of the country will endeavor to prolong it’s reign by working upon the prejudices of the people until the wealth is aggregated in a few hands and the Republic is destroyed.”

—Abraham Lincoln

This is a 0 rupee (India’s currency) that was made by a non-governmental organization in Chennai to give to people (mainly government workers) when some one asks for a bribe. This is a type of currency that should be made in every country, but would it be enough to help fight corruption?

Lies are told to us to by the media because the government doesn’t want to dish out what’s really going on behind the scenes. Big corporations run what the media tells us because they own (big) media. When money is involved most human-beings toss their morals in a crevice of their brain. This is how big corporations get to us. We may not at first be giving them our money and mind, but they eventually get to it through media.

Social media is not something people necessarily think is controlled by the government or corporations so let’s talk about how they are. Facebook, one of the biggest social media networks, is connected with:

  • In-Q-Tel- funded by the CIA and putting cah into Visible Technologies, a software firm that specializes in monitoring social media. It’s part of a larger movement to get better at using open source intelligence. Also having deep ties with the commercial world as stated in their website. 
  • Goldman Sachs - A global banking and securities firm. Said to have a revolving door relationship with the government because many employees from Goldman Sachs move in and out of high level government positions.
    Below is from Facebooks January 2011 press release- 

Facebook Receives $1 Billion from Goldman Sachs Overseas Offering; Digital Sky Technologies and Goldman Sachs Also Recently Made $500 Million Direct Investment Investment Values Facebook at $50 Billion 

the deal to U.S citizens buying shares in facebook fell through and is only "available" to overseas investors. 

Also, today Obama went to Facebook headquarters to connect with tens of millions of people who use social network as their primary way of communicating and getting their news. 

These are only a couple of behind the scenes at whats going on with one of the biggest social media networks. Next time you see what is on your sidebar on your facebook page think about how it got there and how close to your interests it is. 

Other media outlets like the news aren’t any different. If you’ve seen OUTFOXED you know what I’m talking about. Of course it isn’t only Fox news that is owned or ran by big corporation CEOs or executives. Every major news outlet falls into that category. This is a reason people want NPR to stop being funded by the government. They think that it is biased towards the liberal and democratic views. 

The major news channels focus on topics that aren’t necessarily as newsworthy, e.g, Snookie or the royal wedding, instead of focusing matters on Darfur or oil still remaining in the Gulf after a year AND BP proposing to get approval on resuming drilling there as early as of July, etc. 

The ties that corporations, media, and the government have go even deeper. The law that passed a year ago stating that there can no longer be a ban on political spending by corporations in candidate elections. (below is from a previous blog post I’ve made) 

Corporations and unions can now spend money directly on ads that advocate electing or defeating candidates for president or congress but are produced independently and not coordinated with the candidate’s campaign. Even though this isn’t going directly to the candidate, it is still very crucial.  Also, they could pump large amounts of money into the campaigns of judges to influence court decisions.  

By having that law into effect who knows how far corruption within these groups will go and how far they’ll bury us in them. 

Also, check this site out on how much corporations spend on campaigns and their taxes. http://thinkprogress.org/2011/04/13/tax-dodging-lobbying-congress/

Being informed through a uncorrupted view and mindset is hard to come by. That’s why it is nice to see musicians like The Prophet Nathan trying to expose our minds to what really is going on around us in a nontraditional and artistic way. 

What does the song make YOU think of? 

To check out more on The Prophet Nathan go to - http://theprophetnathan.com/

Hello, goodbye, or nothing at all.

Hello,

welcomes relationships, adventures, life.

Plants trees, flowers, a garden. 

Exposes your soul to the freshness of the world. 

Excitement built

from the experiences brought to you. 

Tasting love and joy. 

Goodbye,

ends a page, chapter, or the entire story.

Sad at times 

many a times,

but not all times.

The leaves that bloomed 

from the tree we planted

have now all blown away.

With the change in the wind, 

we never got the chance to say goodbye. 

After the rain falls,

will the leaves flourish once again?

Has the story ended or just a chapter? 

Nothing at all,

silence. 

The action that speaks louder than words. 

Today will you say,

"hello, goodbye, or nothing at all?"

What have you made up today and how is it affecting you?

I’ve written a blog on thoughts before ( http://shethjuice.tumblr.com/post/3602431495) , but sometimes we all need to remind ourselves about what we need to do with the thoughts our mind come up with. 

We either know something is certain or we’re making things up. When I say “making things” up I mean: 

  • we’re thinking about what someone will think, say, or do because of something we are about to do or have already done
  • we think about how the action we are performing will reflect on us. Will we do it right or wrong?  What will people say if we do it wrong, wait…what will people say if I do it right?
  • like the above- we are afraid of failing at something (without even trying it yet and if we have failed at it before…what if we do again?)
  • what will people think if I wear this? Or if I don’t wear this?
  • Thoughts of unworthiness
  • Judgement of people, places, and things.
  • etc


Most of the stuff we make up involves what others will think about us. But, um, HELLO! We can only control what we think about ourselves. Whatever you think about yourself or what you’re doing will be projected onto others. If you think you’re going to do great, you will! If you think you’re going to be happy, you’re HAPPY! We also tend to make up thoughts about the outcome of an act we are going to do or are in the process of doing. We cannot predict the future. All we can do is focus on the now. 

These made up thoughts are formed by our ego, the false self. I wrote a blog on this as well: http://shethjuice.tumblr.com/post/3477547900/the-false-self. We need to be aware of our thoughts and decide which ones are benefiting us and which ones aren’t. 

Our mind/ego is constantly stirring things up and you have the control to choose what you want to keep in your mind and what you don’t; you are the only one who has the power to control your thoughts.  No one else has this control unless you choose to give them that power. As long as we are aware of our thoughts we are capable of controlling them.  We can laugh off whatever craziness our mind comes up with and forget about it and keep the thoughts that benefit us. Here’s an example of what I mean by the craziness the mind formulates: 

  • Checking out at the grocery store and having a cashier who is rude or has a bad attitude. I get pissed and curse them out in my head, but then I realize “Dude, what if they’ve had a bad day.” 
  • When someone can’t say my name (even my American name) properly I used to get so angry because I thought I had simplified it enough.  I’d wonder, ”How freaking illiterate are you?!” But then I realized I can’t understand people sometimes, so, in turn, I should be more understanding.

We never know what someone is going through fully. Our mind/ego thinks up these thoughts that are sometimes really mean and horrible, but, remember to chill out. We’re all going through stuff, maybe great or maybe horrible, so just laugh off your crazy thoughts and go on your merry little way. Don’t let these crazy thoughts piss you off or get you down. Keep the good shit and dump out that bad shit! Also, be aware of the fact that everyone makes up thoughts. They might not be aware of it like you so have compassion towards them. 

If any of the made up thoughts becomes a fact that isn’t benefiting you, then just brush your shoulders off and laugh it off. The only thoughts that matter are the ones that you decide to keep in your noggin! 

I watched a video by Joyologist, Tricia Huffman, about this. It was an amazing video and reminded me to be more aware of my thoughts. Check her stuff out @ yourjoyologist.com. I always try my best to be aware of my mind’s tricks, but I sometimes forget. I really needed this reminder and hope by reminding myself I’m able to remind you as well. 

Morning talk

During breakfast today I talked to my family about the Quran burning, the possibility of government shutdown, China detaining people, and many other topics. Yes, it was quite a long breakfast we had. Chai and pancakes keeps us at the table I guess? 

I was telling them about Terry Jones and Wayne Sapp and how their actions caused at least 30 deaths. My grandfather told me that situations like this would happen in India and Pakistan a lot. No wonder both countries still find it hard to get along! I told him that hate cannot be solved with more hate. If Jones moves forward with his organization, “Stand Up America,” we’re only going to see more attacks and deaths in return. This is a man who needs to be stopped as well as all the attention he’s getting from the media. He’s going to keep doing more if the cameras are on him. This may be a common thing in other countries, but we shouldn’t tolerate things. Once again I think we are moving in the wrong direction. I agree that America needs to “stand up,” but don’t relate that to Jones’ organization. We need to stand up and show love instead of hate. Show that we can unite and work together. 

With saying that our country needs to start doing that first. Our government might shutdown if they don’t agree upon what the spending cuts should be. Instead of thinking about a shutdown why can’t they focus that time and energy on coming up with a compromise?! Maybe I just don’t understand, but that makes more sense to me. 

I keep hearing and reading about “the tea-party types, democrats, republicans, ” seriously guys, drop the labels and start doing what our country needs. We don’t need parties; we need people who will do what is needed and best for our country done! Stop blaming and pointing fingers. Just like any company or job manager would tell you, “WORK TOGETHER!” Maybe I just haven’t read enough or understand enough and that’s why I think this way, who knows? 

So then there’s China detaining human-rights activists. This country’s government definitely does work together but not necessarily work together with/for their people. Recently Ai Weiwei, China’s most famous artist as well as an activist, and many other activists have been detained. When Weiwei was detained two years ago, he had to have two holes drilled in his brain to stop internal bleeding. Who knows what they are doing to him or the others now. Freedom of speech means something completely different in China. They can’t even tweet! With the recent events in Libya, Egypt, etc. China wants to make sure and send a message to their people that they won’t tolerate any liberal or reform-minded intellectuals. How can we help? Spread awareness. 

 
If you aren’t aware that an ignorant Florida pastor burned the Quran let me quickly enlighten you. 
On March 20th Terry Jones held a 6 hour mock-trial in which he felt that he found the Quran “guilty.” He supervised Wayne Sapp as Sapp soaked the Quran with kerosene and let it burn away. This was open to the public and had 30 attendees. The Christian Post noted that the latest Quran-burning event was not the first publicity stunt for the Rev. Jones, “who last September drew sweeping condemnation over his plan to ignite a pile of Qurans on the anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attacks.” He did not carry out that burning, after media attention garnered criticism from evangelical leaders as well as condemnation from President Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and Defense Secretary Robert Gates. He states that he gave people of the Muslim faith a chance to defend the book and since they had “failed” to do that, he went ahead with his plan. 
After people in Afghanistan learned what happened in Florida protests were emerging. They started off peacefully, but then became violent once people heard stories about Jones burning more books. At least 30 have died and over 100 injured.
Even with knowing this Jones has launched an organization, Stand Up America, which will protest the Quran. He is the guilty one for being the reason riots were held and people died. Acts of hate will lead to more acts of hate.  
“On May 10th, 1933 the Nazis burned 25,000 books — including those written by Jewish poet Heinrich Heine, who had predicted in 1820 that “where books are burned in the end people will burn,” – and eight years later the Holocaust began.  The connection is not too difficult to discern. Books are repositories of histories, of identities, of values. They are the soul of civilization. A society must abandon basic decencies in order to muster the immoral courage to burn books as a celebratory act. Once it starts burning the souls of civilization, human souls will not be left behind.”
— Middle East Online: DR. Muqtedar Khan, who also counsels his fellow-Muslims, when they see images of the Quran burning, to “recognize this provocation for what it is,” to “let Terry Jones enjoy the monopoly on barbarity,” to remember the teachings of the Quran: “Forgive them and overlook their misdeeds, for Allah loves those who are kind.”

If you aren’t aware that an ignorant Florida pastor burned the Quran let me quickly enlighten you. 

On March 20th Terry Jones held a 6 hour mock-trial in which he felt that he found the Quran “guilty.” He supervised Wayne Sapp as Sapp soaked the Quran with kerosene and let it burn away. This was open to the public and had 30 attendees. The Christian Post noted that the latest Quran-burning event was not the first publicity stunt for the Rev. Jones, “who last September drew sweeping condemnation over his plan to ignite a pile of Qurans on the anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attacks.” He did not carry out that burning, after media attention garnered criticism from evangelical leaders as well as condemnation from President Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and Defense Secretary Robert Gates. He states that he gave people of the Muslim faith a chance to defend the book and since they had “failed” to do that, he went ahead with his plan.

After people in Afghanistan learned what happened in Florida protests were emerging. They started off peacefully, but then became violent once people heard stories about Jones burning more books. At least 30 have died and over 100 injured.

Even with knowing this Jones has launched an organization, Stand Up America, which will protest the Quran. He is the guilty one for being the reason riots were held and people died. Acts of hate will lead to more acts of hate.  

“On May 10th, 1933 the Nazis burned 25,000 books — including those written by Jewish poet Heinrich Heine, who had predicted in 1820 that “where books are burned in the end people will burn,” – and eight years later the Holocaust began. 

The connection is not too difficult to discern. Books are repositories of histories, of identities, of values. They are the soul of civilization. A society must abandon basic decencies in order to muster the immoral courage to burn books as a celebratory act. Once it starts burning the souls of civilization, human souls will not be left behind.”

— Middle East OnlineDR. Muqtedar Khan, who also counsels his fellow-Muslims, when they see images of the Quran burning, to “recognize this provocation for what it is,” to “let Terry Jones enjoy the monopoly on barbarity,” to remember the teachings of the Quran: “Forgive them and overlook their misdeeds, for Allah loves those who are kind.”

Of the 1%, by the 1%, for the 1% ⇢

"Americans have been watching protests against oppressive regimes that concentrate massive wealth in the hands of an elite few. Yet in our own democracy, 1 percent of the people take nearly a quarter of the nation’s income—an inequality even the wealthy will come to regret."

Definitely check out this article from Vanity Fair! 

I wrote a blog post over a year ago on a topic related to this. I can’t believe how true some of my assumptions were. If we don’t start making changes in our government and the income-inequality we’ll end up in situations like Egypt, Libya, Yemen, etc. before we even know it. 

Below is the blog post I wrote on 1-28-10. 

Last year while I was in India, my cousin had the news on and the reporters were talking about the U.S. I never really watched much news back here at home, but I knew most of what was going on; or so I thought I did. The reporters in India and from what I’ve heard in other countries as well, pretty much make fun of the U.S.  Saying we’re arrogant to think we have control over what other countries do and that the American people are ignorant to what’s really going on around us. Is this true? Are we not being told or shown what’s going around in world we live in, or even in our back yards? But we’re the land of the free and justice, so this all just can’t be true…right? 

Are we being shown and told only one-sided stories? Is our media being disloyal? Is our voice being buried into big corporations? Now, please don’t think I hate our government, because that isn’t the case. I just think a lot of what the country is supposed to be based on, isn’t following through.
Recently, the Supreme Court ruled that corporations and unions can now spend a limitless amount on campaigns. Now I must say I agree that candidates should be able to have individuals spend whatever amount on campaigning, but only if it’s money from individuals. However, a corporation is not an individual. Corporations and unions can now spend money directly on ads that advocate electing or defeating candidates for president or congress but are produced independently and not coordinated with the candidate’s campaign. Even though this isn’t going directly to the candidate, it is still very crucial.  Also, they could pump large amounts of money into the campaigns of judges to influence court decisions. This isn’t only limited to United States, there are also corporations controlled by foreign interests; which could lead to candidates being elected to further their agendas rather than for the progress of our nations. This includes banks, pharmaceutical companies, insurance companies, oil companies, etc. If corporations and unions  are allowed to spend any amount, do you really think they’d care what the price-tag is as long as they get their way? I mean if we’re going to nit-pick about the saying how corporations have the right to free speech, then shouldn’t we do the same about equal rights?

Not only is that a huge effect on politics and the way our government will run, but also on our media. Our media is already corrupted and being told only what the head honchos want us to hear. Take for example Lou Dobbs leaving CNN the “world-wide leader in news”  Why would he leave the first and most known news channel? Possibly because they told him he couldn’t keep questioning the birthplace of President Obama and because he became too controversial. Um hello, isn’t that what reporters are supposed to do? I love CNN and the sexy silver fox Anderson Cooper, but come on! Whats up with that CNN, I mean if they wouldn’t let him talk about that..how many other things have the kept their reporters from mentioning? Jim Cramer(Mad Money) from CNBC criticized by Jon Stewart(The Daily Show) on Comedy Central  saying that Cramer advised people to buy Bear Stearns stocks a week before it collapsed. Claims of CNBC shirking its journalistic duty by believing corporate lies, rather than being an investigative “powerful tool of illumination.” There of course is Fox News then, which a few years ago a video “OUTFOXED” appeared interviewing former Fox anchors telling how they were being given what to say and what not to say. The headquarters would send them memo’s in the morning to inform them what topics to cover. There are clip its of actual airings from Fox News who I must say would invite and interview any party, however would cut them off once things Fox reporters didn’t like or weren’t allowed to mention.  Many cases with Bill O’Rielly telling the guest to “shut up.” This is just a few examples of how our news is being manipulated rather than informing the people of whats really going on. I find it pretty upsetting when South Park and Family Guy can inform more of what’s going on than the actual news channels.

Since corporations and unions can now advertise on these networks, there is an even greater risk of more corruption. Networks need and want the advertisements so people will watch their station, and of course they will take loads of moolah for it; no matter what it states. In the 2008 election, $3 billion were spent on political television advertising. Healthcare ads alone totaled around $60 million. We’re already in a recession and corporations want to throw all this money towards politicians just to make sure they get their way. Now that’s just crazy! Couldn’t that money be better spent? Just a thought.

We need to find a way to get rid of this corruption. I’d say a lot of it has to do with the divisions we put between our political parties. Why do we need a republican and democratic party? Why can’t we just have individuals with views and ideas that can help lead this nation in a direction that is best for all. Rather than voting for the person who represents “our party” and being viol to the opposing candidate. Throw the donkeys and elephants out and just vote for the penguin 

Don’t just think outside the box look at it from every angle.

I have said this numerous times; it’s the theme to my blog. It means to look at objects, issues, etc. from every perspective and not just your belief on the subject or the narrow angle you see the subject from.

If you were to look into the mirror straight on you’d see an identical portrait of yourself. However, if you’re at an angle facing the mirror you only see your side profile. You’re looking at yourself through the same object, but you see different views at every angle you turn. In the same sense, if you do that with everything you look at in life you will start seeing it in a very different way. 

No one person has the same experiences or comes from the same background. Therefore, everyone has a different perspective on life based on their own experiences and perception. This isn’t their fault, nor is it yours. Understanding is the key, I think, to learning how to view things from every angle. Some may be completely ignorant to the subject being discussed or grew up with a different view on it. This is why understanding is very vital; if you can do that then you can see why someone may see things in a way you never have before. It comes in handy when having conversations or even arguments. It is frustrating at times when you see things from others’ perspective, but they are unable to see it from yours. In time, though, if you’re persistent and keep your mind open hopefully others will learn to as well. 

Each culture has it’s own set of traditions and values. When living in a world that is a melting pot of cultures, though, it’s vital to blend these views together or to even change some of these into new ones. We live in an ever-changing world and so our thought process has to coincide with it. 

The elders in my family are very traditional and believe things are meant to be done certain ways. When I try to expose them to new ideas it usually gets thrown to the side and disregarded. I know they think they can’t help it because that’s all they’ve ever known to do. Once they’ve been exposed to different ideas (more regularly) it’ll erase any misconceptions and allow them to have a broader view and a more open mind. 

Three years ago I went to FL for Thanksgiving for a mini family reunion. My cousin, who was in his late 20’s at the time, brought his gf. I remember him telling me that he did that to make it easier for the younger ones in the family. That was the first time anyone had ever brought their bf/gf to a family gathering. My brother has a girlfriend who everyone is the family knows about. About 5-10 years ago this wouldn’t have been acceptable to my family. Now she comes on family vacations and over to the house all the time. Whenever my family goes to a wedding and she comes with us, all the elders automatically think that she is my brother’s fiancée. The concept of openly dating is still quite new to the Indian community. It’s starting to be more accepted because people are openly doing it. 

The more open you are the more open people around you will become. People don’t like change or the unfamiliar. It scares the shit out of them. It scares the shit out of me. But change isn’t a bad thing; it’s just different from what you’re used to. It’s okay to change your views or broaden your knowledge. In fact it is more than okay. Not everything is right or wrong, black or white, yes or no. Keep an open mind, about life, and it can be the best thing to ever happen.

A closed box serves no purpose so make sure to keep yours open. 

I went on a cruise to the Bahamas in January for my cousin’s wedding. One night my cousin Sonia were up till late, somewhat pissed we weren’t intoxicated like everyone else by the 15+ drinks we had throughout the day, so we decided to wander around the ship.

It was about 2-3am when we got to her room and we just plopped down and chatted away. We saw some crazies drunkenly stumbling to their rooms. This lady and some random dude that were 2 doors down from my cousin’s room were schmammered and the lady came to chat with us. She was exceptionally odd, telling us about how she’s babysat for Indians and how they’re lovely but crazy people. She finally got in her room and as we were recovering from that strange conversation we see a couple of women dropping a girl off into that same room. 

We came to the conclusion that the girl was the schmammered lady’s daughter. A few minutes after we got over that fact, their door flies open and the lady and guy come out. The lady is rambling how she isn’t a bad mother and stumbling as her and the guy walk away. Two minutes later the girl peaks out of the room. My cousin and I called her over to us asking her if she was okay. She said “not really” and just talked to us about her day and why she was upset. All she needed was someone to lend a ear. We then asked her if she wanted a hug and she said “yes” it was too precious. 

When I saw this quote it really hit home to me because of that experience I had with the little girl. Sometimes all we have to do is lend our ears and arms. 

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Don't just think outside the box look at it from every angle

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