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Cool Videos.

13 Oct

Awesome French Animation

Sad State of Global Society

28 Sep

I think we can do better. Though I am not a huge fan of international intervention (In the case of America’s long history of military objects) I do think that international community should push more fervently for a stronger disaster relief policy. Look at the state of Haiti, long the basket-case of the Western Hemisphere, is still struggling to come to gripes with the extremely high levels of loss. This struggle has now taken nine months. Though rebuilding shall eventually come, housing people in refugee like camps will only lead to a weaken state, increase poverty, disease and with the lack of education, there shall be no easy way of out the endemic problems facing the Western half of Hispaniola.

Then came the rising waters of the Indus River. Flooding, not the kind sandbags can stop, but the one that devours whole regions of America’s ally Pakistan. A young democracy with rising demographic and military force, key to America’s Overseas Contingency Operation (Obama’s more PC term for the War on Terror) the country is now paralyzed by this natural disaster. Millions have had their homes and fields damaged nearly beyond repair and for those who lost their houses.

I heard Muslims ask: But why during Ramadan? Is this a message from god? A coincidence? Or merely the way of the still developing world.

Honestly, this flood is just the result of weak infrastructure and a low capacity government, in an over populated area for the amount of public resources. One example has been the failure to supply the more than 1.5 million now displaced with more than 60,000 tents, such a fail. Though terrible, the number of dead will only be in the thousands, while in Haiti there were over 230,000 dead.

So while each of this are horrendous disasters, one, Pakistan is more of a regional issue versus the earthquake, which has literally set the entire country of Haiti back. This is in part due to demographics and geography. So for Haiti to lose that many people its 2.5% of their 9 million, and this excludes a remaining 1 million people homeless. On the other hand, Pakistan there are about 21 million affected people and that represents about 16%. While these are still comparably bad, I have read that  close to 30% of all Haiti’s civil servants perished during the earthquake.

In the end, I think the international community needs to understand the great damage both of these events have caused and should try to help bring stable adjustments. In Haiti especially, emphasis on supplying people with jobs so the economy can get going. It would be good to artificially stimulate some activity over than refugee camps. In the long run, Haiti will not have much hope without some kind of catalyst, there must be more urgency to fix the worst state in the Western Hemisphere. Or maybe all this intervention has failed?  The US has intervened on and off in Haiti throughout the entire last century and if it controlled its economy through direct oversight and even indirect guidance with the World Bank. Let the UN deal with it, but UN hurry up and clean up that place, sometimes jobs need to get done, why not pay all the people in the tent cities to start cleaning it up. So you pay people to take back this rubble filled city?

Hopefully in the coming months, there were be more local relief provided throughout Pakistan. Still, the problems were not be necessarily as long-term, many fewer people have died, the entire economy did not collapse. The agricultural and infrastructural loses are estimated by their own government at about $43 billion. While massive, the national as a whole might find some stability in growth in other provinces.

Overall, I hope future disasters are dealt with more swiftly, so the loses did not need to needlessly rise.  The rich OCED countries could sacrifice some of their wealth to guarantee global disasters are dealt with swiftly, so we do not need this international missteps, when there is so much excessive wealth in home of the Brave.

Ready for a New School Year

22 Aug

People have finally returned to college campuses across America. After days of watching selfish parents imped the roadways so their little girl could walk 100 fewer feet just to move in all their designer clothes and overpriced electronics I have settled into my on campus excuse for an apartment. The rush parties start up, where Freshmen are either mesmerized or underwhelmed by the college experience. Everyone is excited to see forgot friends and classes are starting for some, while others try to stay in a perpetual state of inhibition. This is how it all begins.

The Memphis heat fries my slowed brain as I stare into the crowd of new faces and voices, people playing quarters or flirting with one another. I feel more alone at this party than I have in weeks. Who are these people, what do we even have in common? Breathing oxygen and drinking beer. No, I kid myself, these people are just like me, except they know how to mingle and talk to randos (The lingua franca of sorority sisters) . I don’t even attempt it. I go outside to smoke a menthol, talk to a few more people I know and realize that this is all a mistake. The whole three years, this is how my senior year begins and it is not me enjoying myself. Instead it is just me throwing up in the midst of strangers who words of carrying are as empty as my stomach. If only I had just stuck to boring night with people I actually knew, watched a movie and drank wine – then I would not have fallen into this void of college cliches.

So I continue to unpack, make a schedule, buy my super cheap used text books through Amazon, clean the wound of my bleeding finger and sip some green tea. I wonder why it is so hard to find and do things that bring us happiness or participate in activities that won’t alienate ourselves?? Ideally we should all try to live and have lives where we optimized the amount of pleasure we have. Sounds a bit Hedonistic, but that is the way I see things. Eat tasty food, work a interesting and fulfilling job for a good salary, find a lover who actually cares about who we are, just doing things we enjoy. Isn’t that the ideal for most of us? Alas, finding those things in life is the constant struggle, it is a continuous battle. Maybe we can all find harmony in something communal or interesting in the future, slowly life falls into place and I am just gonna have to live with it all, even if I am sorta like a cyclops. (Not the one from X-men, but the one who gets beat by Odysseus).

I reach for a pencil to sketch a dragon fighting an eagle when BAAAMMM. Something falls outside my room. But in my state of drunken paranoia I am only aware of unspecific noise. Is that Orbal Redenbacher making me a might night snack? I had wished, instead it was my roommates brother moving into the vacant room that was intended for Josh. Oh Josh the anti-thesis of me. With your planned out medical future for the next 4-12 years. While I have no planned out future because they have not invented a grad. school for the constantly bored and lost.

Hopefully this less than auspicious start for the year is not a premonition of bad times to come, but bodes well for the future I can make for myself. Hopefully people won’t get bogged down by booze and partying not to actualize a reality that they really want.

The Ground Zero Mosque: A fight over America’s true identity

11 Aug

“As a mother and a grandmother, I worry,” Ms. Serafin said. “I learned that in 20 years with the rate of the birth population, we will be overtaken by Islam, and their goal is to get people in Congress and the Supreme Court to see that Shariah is implemented. My children and grandchildren will have to live under that.” “I do believe everybody has a right to freedom of religion,” she said. “But Islam is not about a religion. It’s a political government, and it’s 100 percent against our Constitution.”

Ms. Serfain is quoted in this NYT article talking about the rising number of conflicts between mosques in American communities, which maybe all be happening because of the controversial proposed new mosque near Ground Zero.

I think most people have heard about this issue as it has now picked up huge national news coverage. Basically a group of Muslims led by Feisal Abdul Rauf bought up some expensive building near ground zero at 45–47 Park Place with the intention of building a Muslim community center. The proposed community center, that will contain a mosque, bookstore, restaurant and other aspects of any religious facility. This would not only serve the religious and spiritual needs of its Islamic members, but Rauf felt that his community center could be a focal point for helping to mend the poor relations between Muslims and non-Muslims as a result of 9/11. Instead it has become a flash point showing the intense controversial of putting a mosque near ground zero.

First the name of this debate alone helps present the some of the inherent issues about this debate. This is now called the Ground Zero Mosque, instead of either of its two official names. Not only does this detrach from Mr. Rauf’s message, but disconnects it from the actual site and makes it more about the growth of Islam in this nation. The proposed building was initially called Cordoba House, in an allusion to the city of Cordoba in Spain where Muslims, Jews and Christians peacefully coexisted. The name was meant to help evoke images of understanding and communication, instead politicians like Newt Gingrich, who instead sees the name as a deliberate insult, referencing Cordoba as a center of Muslim conquest over Christians in the middle ages.

This kind of misinttreptation pushed the board to change its offical name from Cordoba Center to Park51, something less political they hoped. But alas, the national media picked up this story and ran with it. Soon polling data showed that most Americans thought this was a terrible idea. (A July poll shows 54%–20% oppose it, these numbers are pretty much the same except in Manhattan where  46% support it over the 36% who oppose it.) Then the politicians like the above mentioned Mr. Gingrich, had to chime in so they could dig into Muslims for not being “sensitive” to the victims of 9/11. Then the purpose behind the center is lost. And in the eyes of the people and politicans Islam is forever a linked religion with terrorism.

This really irks me. 9/11 was a terrorist attack done by 23 people, all trained by al qaeda, which while Islamic in message, is in many ways the fridge within all of the Muslim world.  They do not represent all of Islam, nor any state government. So any comparison of 9/11 to pearl harbor and the holocaust fails to distinguish war from terrorism. Did the Oklahoma city bombing make us forget terrorists come in all colors and origins, they are simply people who choose to use violence for their own political or sociological mean. This proposed community center is being built as a symbol of how we as nation can overcome these terrible moments and live above the clutter of vilifying all Muslims as a hateful.

The Anti-Defamation League, a jewish organization really went to far in their criticism of the building of this mosque. The ADL believes that more pain will be caused by the building of this community center so close to ground zero. They suggested that the builders pick another site.  As a reaction to this Fareed Zakaria, a wise scholar and jounralist at CNN decided the ADL has gone too far with their statements about Cordoba House. So he decided to give them back his award that was given to him for protecting the 1st amendment as well as the small monetary gift. He could not keep it in good faith and he went on to say:

” This decision will haunt the ADL for years if not decades to come. Whether or not the center is built, what is at stake here is the integrity of the ADL and its fidelity to its mission.”

First it is sad that an organization who goal is to “..to secure justice and fair treatment to all” seem to overlooked the fact that they are supporting the unequal treatment of these people because of their religion. Not only is this a double standard that the ADL supports but it is a shame that they have not seen this as a healing opportunity to mend the gap between Muslim and non-Muslim Americans.

So the sides have been draw for the continuing battle. They is some support for the construction of this religious center coming from some Jewish Organizations, a portion of 9/11 victims groups, many New York City politicians, including Mayor Michael Bloomberg and other scholar, including some Muslim thinkers. But it seems that religious freedom is not on the minds of the rest of Americans. The 1st amendment can be superseded by one tragedy. So my question is this, did those men and women who died in the twin towers die to preserve the ideal America where freedom is what is valued or did they die so we could have a country with less tolerance and freedom. I do not want to live in a country where we can overcome Muslim stereotypes and allow us to unify as a nation. If this was any other religious organization they could have built their temple or church without being bothered. Instead every American must weigh in the lives of New Yorkers and politicians must condemn those intensive Muslims at Cordoba House, without knowing their true goal. Now throughout the country people are protesting mosques, even here in Tennessee they have been active efforts to stop the growth of Muslim communities. I wish all this bigoted behavior was a passing issue in this country, but the more the war on terror continues, the more it reminds me of the Cold War. Still I hope we can overcome the fear of Islam before it become more McCarthyistic.

Sounds of Mankind: A Music Review

3 Aug

Music is one of the most important stimuli in my life and without those catchy melodies wafting over my cubicle walls, I would never make it through my 9 to 5. Summer has allowed me to explore and search out new music. Flipping from myspaces to proper publications of the industry, I have found quite a few exceptions tracks and artists. A special thanks to Travis for giving me the best selection of music to aimlessly observe and to Colin for pushing me to listen to more hip hop and

Skybombers – They are an Australian rock band that evokes memories of when I first heard Jet in middle school. A blend of driving guitar, drums and a catcthy classic style of music that all gets your head moving. One of their better songs, enjoy –

Lame Impala is another set of Aussie musicians, but this one has a more melodic sound, slightly more poppy sound/ indie sound and they lyrics are a little easier to sing along with. Officially they are a psychedelic rock band that blends tradition and electronic sound to make an album that has become one of the most popular Australian realeases of the year and for me, Innerspeaker is one of the most solid rock albums of the summer.

Fuck Buttons – One of my favorite electronic duos, the combined work of  Andrew Hung and Benjamin John Power help to make some awesome experimental/drone music. Their albums tend to have very minimalist electronic sound, that build into an enjoyable mix of instruments we know and future sounds. One of my favorite of their more ambient song, but don’t miss out listening to all of Tarot Sport, their most acclaimed album.

Afrojack – This Dutch Dj, real name Nick van de Wall is finally getting some recognition in the United States, going between major festivals throughout the land. He has built a reputation of creating innovative songs that really got your heart racing. What this guy to be a rising electronic artist and producer for years to come, until then enjoy this great club music.

Originally a French Canadian indie band, Islands has one of the most fun and uplifting bands I have got addicted to all summer. Overall they sound similar to a few other indie bands and have gone through several new members, I really like their first album Return to Sea with the single – rough gem.

Twin Sister – there are a 5 member electronic group mixes some chilled out keyboard, a guitar that acts as the bass, the steady but decidedly diminished drums all mixed together with Andrea Estella’s hypnotic vocals. So go ahead and listen to “I want a house” which is definitely their best song, hopefully with more to come.

Twin Sister – Free online EP

Elefant, a great NYC rock band that just broke up on June 30th of this year. Don’t be too hardbroken, they still have 2 albums chaulk full of nearly flawless rock songs. While it does not seem like their will reform, I will keep my fingers crossed.

But if cannot get enough about Elefant, former lead singer, Diego Garcia has put out a new single, a much more mellow and latin flow to this song than his previous music

http://www.popmatters.com/pm/post/128216-diego-garcia-you-were-never-there-mp3-popmatters-premiere/

Pete Rock is not only one of the most influential, but actually one of the best producer of a lot of 90’s hip hop and has since produced some of the most enjoyable, mellow, carefree and still composed beats. His album that is entirely beats and instrumentals is called PeteStrumentals. It contains some of the best songs to freestyle over or just let play when you need to focus. Also, Pete Rock combines many of the instruments of jazz music with the style and rhythm of hip hop creating beautiful ballads. Here is a good example of his work combining jazz into a tight instrumental set.

I left my favorite song of the summer for the end. Bombay Bicycle Club had a wicked good debut album, I Had the Blues But I Shook Them Loose. This indie rock group from Crouch End, London might look like a bunch of punk high schoolers, but this skinny dudes can rock it out, with simple melodies that are easy to remember, but hard to get out of your head. They have also just recorded an entire acoustic record called Flaws, so if you don’t like how they sound with electronic guitars you could check out its single, Irovy and Gold.

Evening/Morning = Awesome

The Government is Too Big to be Managed

31 Jul

I am not a libertarian, let me state this first. I am not making a claim that we need NO government, just that fact that after more and more information flows out of think tanks and researchers about the government, waste, unaccounted for funding, excessive and uncontrollable expansion of the ISA, the Inefficient States of America.

Where is the oversight or accountability. More and more politicians are still been caught in scandals of corruption or abuses of power?

If you have not read Top Secret America IT IS A MUST READ! This is a Washington Post report which is focused on that fact that, “The government has built a national security and intelligence system so big, so complex and so hard to manage, no one really knows if it’s fulfilling its most important purpose: keeping its citizens safe.” This scares me, to imagine the hundreds of billions if not trillions that has been spent to expand national security, counter-terrorism, intelligence and defense; then it has be to research and uncovered by the fourth pillar of this democracy. Two other issues with this massive expansion was that it was not actually a solution to a problem, but the perception that terrorism was a major issues. We all remember 9-11, but how many terrorist has even attempted to attack us at home? Maybe a handful, the Detroit plane guy, the shoe bomber, that silly guy in NYC and non of them were really prevented by measures installed after 9-11, if anything they all got through and were tripped up by their own missteps (Some more literal than others). All were failures at terrorism and likely only became terrorists as a response to our aggressive middle eastern policy in Iraq and Afghanistan. Lastly, by creating a secret network of intelligence agency that are outside of the normal chains of command as well being hidden from the eyes of the taxpayers, who actually are funding all these programs.

That only scrathes the surface - this is just rebuilding money.

Can we wait for the government to fix itself or do we need to take action now? We not only pay for it all, but they serve us, this is a republic of the American people. I am not an advocate of a revolution, but I just want an honest assessment of how we are doing as a governmetn and a country. We cannot sustain over $3 Trillion dollar budgets.

US FEDERAL BUDGET: This excludes state government

If you include the money spent by state and local governments it is an additional $3.209 Trillion, which brings the total to about $6,700,000,000,000 DOLLARS or close to 46 percent of our national GDP, based on the GDP being $14.56 Trillion. That is about 24% of the entire world’s economy if it is about $60 Trillion. So if the $6.7 trillion budget of our entire government is about 10 percent of the world’s entire economic output we should be building a Utopia. Instead we are not even close to the top of of the OECD countries. Alas we are plagued by fewer jobs, a healthcare industry teetering on the edge, infrastructural failure and a low level of governmentally funded research/development. It is only through this kind of investment that the United States will be able to compete in this new multi-polar globe. I just wished we could cut the budget and reduce spending, which I will address in the near future.

REF – http://www.usgovernmentspending.com/#usgs302a

The Dimensionality of Sandwiches

28 Jul
SANDWICH

That is a Sandwich!

What is a sandwich? Is it just bread, meat and cheese or is it something more. An intangible exponent that is crucial to creating the quintessential way to defend against hunger, whilst filling one with gastronomical goodness. Sandwiches are also a mobile, hand edible, compact and very convenient meal. They are a universally eaten food not only bridging the gaps between socially economic divisions, but are a globally unifying food, dynamic enough to evolve and adapt due to local regionalization. Even if a friend is asking for places to eat, sandwiches work every time.

Such a strange word where did it come from? The Earl of Sandwich, of course. So back in the 18th century, John Montagu, the 4th Earl of Sandwich was playing cribbage with his aristocratic buddies and got hungry. He asked his servants to fetch him some meat tucked between 2 pieces of bread, his friend thus asked for “the same as Sandwich” and our commonplace culinary creation had a title. Even though he did not actually invent the sandwich, coining the term has allowed his progeny to exploit history once more. The 11th Earl of Sandwich also named John Montagu (Such creative aristocracy) decided to open up the Earl of Sandwich Restaurant. Enjoy this brief video – The 11th Earl of Sandwich!

Still, the first time sandwich was seen in written English in Sir Edward Gibbon’s (author of The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire) journal, which referred to sandwich as simply as pieces of meat. The OED notes that this journal entry occurred back in 1762, so we know the word sandwich is certainly that old. But back in the 18th century sandwiches for men who drank and gambled, so they could eat with ease. The sandwich slowly crossed over to the United States where it now has become the king of all food. Oh the silly British even have a nickname for their sandwich – sarnies, because it just has to sound more British.

PARTS OF A SANDWICH

First we must delve deep inside the S-dimension. This is the part of the universe where sandwiches become sandwiches as the sum of their parts produces a delicatessen delight that we all hold dear to our stomachs. It is not nearly the gathering of the finest ingredients, but also the way they complement each other. Sandwiches are key in understanding how to construct food, you see each separate item, the lettuce above the ham above the cheddar, but you taste them all. Sandwiches are also the most complete meal as well. Sandwiches combining all 7 major food groups: grains, meats, cheeses, veggies, fruits, spices and condiments – so where else are you devouring the entire modified food pyramid at once? The food court at the Mall or Stouffer’s lean cuisine? Hell NO. They only have 3 or 4 of the necessary food groups and that is why the sandwich is supported by the American Dietetic Association Foundation (ADAF) for helping to stop the spread of non delicious food.

Types of sandwiches

Ones with meat and all the rest.

Basically if a sandwich does not have meat, it is only a sandwich by name. So ice cream and veggie sandwiches are impostor in the world of man. Some might argue that a PBJ or just a grilled cheese is a sandwich, but alas these too are bastardizations of the purest form of sandwich. In my opinion sandwiches can include all the deli standards, rubens, corned beef, pastrami, roast beef, ham, turkey. It also includes all types of hoagies and submarine sandwiches, paninis and other pressed sandwiches are of course counted. Hamburgers are a tough one, they are on bread, and include all seven food groups, but some people might argue it stands alone. For the sake of this discussing I am gonna count it. You gotta have meat to make it a true sandwich.

One of the coolest things about sandwiches has been the globalization of it. Food is one of the fastest cultural phenomenon that can move between societies.

In India they have the Kutchi Dabeli (Double Roti) – a strange tangy sandwich common on the streets of Mumbai.

Double Roti

Here is a cool japanese attempt to make sandwiches that resemble sushi.

Sushi or Sandwich?

Vietnam was able to mix its hertiage with that of France to make the Bánh mì (a baguette filled with pickled carrots, daikon, cumcumber and any variety of meats.)

Vietnam is down with the SAND-WICH

Argentina is famous for their steak sandwiches and whenever you buy one off streets it always comes with delicious chimichurri sauce.

The Middles East – Famous for shawarma and falalfal, both when packed in a pita make a delicious sandwich.

My mom seriously makes these the best!

Sandwiches show how the Socioeconomic division cannot stop men from all partaking in the gastronomical genius that is the Sandwich. We all eat sandwiches, so we have the common experience of sandwich crafting and consuming. We as Americans recognize what makes us American is not our constitution or our civil liberties, but the right to eat meat between bread in whatever form it could be. Sandwiches are a mobile, cheap and delicious means of surviving the hungry pangs of a long work day or enjoying your free time with friends.

The day I stop loving this country is the day sandwiches are banned, because that is the freedom I crave, to eat what I want and have the time to enjoy it.