Sunday, March 09, 2008

"When we blindly adopt a religion, a political system, a literary dogma, we become automatons. We cease to grow." (A.Nin)

While out earlier today, I asked saw a common bumper sticker that could never fully be explained to me by anyone. The "Jesus fish" bumper sticker is one of the weirdest bumper stickers, and I find it to be somewhat bizarre symbol to represent a religion. So to shed some light to my confusion, I turned to the one and only Wikipedia. Apparently there are multiple theories as to why a fish was chosen to be the symbol, but I still have no bloody idea as to what it means. For anyone who is curious, here is the link to the article:

Upon returning home, I decided to finally take a look at today's news, and came across the following op-ed piece by Nicholas Kristof in the New York Times:

This year's political season has been turned into a veritable fight for the Democrats to battle either racism or sexism. It seems that the media has sunken its teeth into these issues, while turning a blind eye to the real problems affecting this election: religion. I am thoroughly disgusted by the rumblings among the American public about Barack Obama's heritage and religion. Hillary Clinton suggested earlier this week that Obama was a Christian as far as she knew. Why is it so repulsive to Americans if he is a non-Christian? And why must fellow "liberals" continue to perpetuate such negative connotations to being a Muslim. Its absolutely disgusting that politicians promote hate and fear (I'm not going to comment on Hillary's much touted 3am phone call ad). I wonder how long this is going to go on in this country, and in most parts of the world. Kristof frames the issue of religion and bigotry well, and I just hope that it is examined more carefully in the following days,

I know that we are a prude nation founded on Puritanical values by racist and xenophobic Europeans, and the founding fathers didn't care about people's liberty. Yet it still does not explain why in this day and age we are still can not accept each other's differences in opinion and beliefs. If I remember correctly, America does not equal Christian, so why must religion matter in our presidential candidates and in our judicial proceedings? I never understood why one has to swear on a Bible when in court, or when one is sworn into office. And George Carlin does a great bit about "God" in America's political and social life in his current tour and on his HBO special.

I'd like to see the day when we finally elect a non-Christian to a high office. Actually, I wonder how many non-Christian judges we have sitting in courtrooms across this country now that I ponder the subject further...

Earlier in the week on the Daily Show during the toss to the Colbert report, the issue of Obama's religion came up again but this time it was a great poke at Hillary:

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Since we can not know all that there is to be known about everything, we ought to know a little about everything (B.Pascal)

Instead of typing this post, I really should be reading about the role of the brain stem in controlling REM sleep periodicty and wakefulness, but at the moment I think I'm appalled at the sheer level of hate and what seems to be ignorance to be abound.

I have a lot of respect for people who voice their unpopular opinions among others. It takes a lot of courage and a safe environment to do so, and not be told that they are wrong. I mean, who is to say what is absolute right and absolute wrong?

However much I respect different opinions, I have a slight problem with ignorance and lack of human compassion. Good friends of mine are of a (political) conservative nature, which is absolutely and perfectly fine, until it goes to the point of being outlandishly offensive to human life.

"Terrorism" is not new. Seriously. If anyone bothers to pick up a history textbook of any kind, you will see that this so called terrorism is not a new invention by any means. Every movement or struggle for freedom has been seen as an act of terror by some person, government or country for thousands of years. The U.S struggle for freedom from the British had its own acts of terrorism. Do you think the Sons of Liberty weren't deemed a terrorist group? The Boston Tea Pary, all the violent acts of rebellion for the Townsend Acts, the Sugar Act, the Stamp Act, the Quartering Act, the Coerervice Acts, etc. didn't look like terrorist acts?

And of course, acts of agression deemed as terrorism have been seen all over the world. The Filipinos used guerilla tactics to achieve independence from Spain back in the 1880s, India did it with the British in the 1940s, hell it even happened during the American Civil War. These are the examples that first come to mind due to what I'm studying, but there are COUNTLESS others.

And so the question becomes, how do you combat this problem? One recent suggestion I've heard is to eradicate the all the countries that might have individuals (ie. Muslims) involved. This suggestion also insinuated that the loved ones of these people in these terrorist nations would not be missed because eradicating them would be the right thing to do to protect the rest of the world (?). That to me sounds like a complete lack of human compassion and genocide. I don't think killing people off in the millions is the solution to any sort of problem.

I think the U.S government, along with decades upon decades of racism against Muslims, has finally settled into the minds of people as a given truth. Pope Benedict recently used a quote from Byzantine Emperor Manuel II Paleologus:
Show me just what Muhammad brought that was new and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached.
Its comments such as these, which I find to be sheer propaganda in this day and age. The historical context of the Pope's comments are completely sound (comprehensive explanation) but in such a volatile sitauation than the world is in now, why would you even use such remarks? I find comments like that to be used for cemmenting an even greater schism between the religions, and find that it will only lead to further hate. As the Pope, a spiritual leader and guide to many people, this was a completely thoughtless act. Public figures have a certain responsiblity that comes with their exalted standing in society, I just wish some of them would recognize that.

Like the old saying goes, with great power, comes great responsiblity.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

C'est la vie, n'est-ce pas?

It's been an incredibly long time since I have posted to this blog, and for that I'm truly sorry. It is because once I was away from a laptop, it became difficult to spend time on a shared computer and post. And upon returning to campus, time became even less available, which it still is, but scarificing sleep most of the time allows me to do this.

But enough of the rambling excuses but on to more important bits of information. So a little bit about campus, which is still rife with issues and stupid people. The election year is now really underway. For those in Michigan, the last day to register to vote in Ann Arbor is October 10, so make sure to register. Facebook, which is a social networking site mainly for college students, because a significant piece of controversy a few weeks ago, making it to the pages of all college newspapers and even important enough to make it to the New York Times.

Facebook created a "news feed" and "mini feed" that allowed for you to monitor (actually keep track and read up about) the activities of your friends on the networking site. So you knew if John Doe wrote on Jane Doe's wall, or if Sarah said she was in a relationship, or Joe changed his picture. This caused an instantaneous uproar because college students across the country because they felt that their privacy was being invaded, along with the fact that it felt as if the news feed was "stalker-ish".

The massive outrage was quite remarkable for a generation of people who seem to have become very apathetic (at least as a whole). In about 24 hours, over 300,000 people joined the offical petition to have the news feed removed. New privacy controls were added but it seems like most people didn't change the settings anyway because they got used to the idea of being able to watch each other's moves like a hawk.

Regardless, its surprising how many walls are full of debates concerning abortion, the war in Iraq, Israel in Lebanon, Darfud and the other myriad of issues across the spectrum. However as someone who is active in the campus community and otherwise, I wonder where these people are. How can individuals be so involved on facebook in issues that other groups are trying to fight for? Is this just another form of passive activism? And how effective can this ever be? Its so easy to ignore an electronic message on posting wall somewhere on the Internet than a crowd of people at a protest.

Its suprising that Facebook, and other websites in the same vein, are more popular than the social/political/economic/cultural issues that are affecting us each day. We would rather hold Mark Zuckerberg accountable for making facebook for stalker-ish, but we won't take a stand on the gross violations of privacy that the U.S government commits thru the Patriot Act, and this new law to abolish habeas corpus for "enemy combatants"?

What is the world coming to? More specifically, what are young people coming to?

Monday, July 31, 2006

My idea of an agreeable person is a person who agrees with me (Disraeli)

For the third week Israel has continued to bomb southern Lebanon to oblivion. The score you ask?(according to BBC News) 750 to 51 (18 of those being civillans). So who is suffering and living in fear. Certainly not the Israelis.

Not that I side with Hezbollah or anything, but this situation has gone from worse to utterly ridiculous. Innocent civillians, especially children, are being forced to suffer the carnage of war because the government and people of Israel feel that they should while they root out "terrorists".

However, a 48 hour hold on firing is not a "humanitarian gesture" as Israeli Defence Minister Amir Peretz calls it.

The town of Qana according to news reports is a complete ghost town at the moment. Qana previously experienced a significant state of dismay back in 1996 when over a hundred people were killed while hiding out in UN base. "Operation Grapes of Wrath" was very similar in nature to the current one. According to UN reports of the incident, Hezbollah fighters had fired missiles from in front of the base, and Israel responded not knowing that over a hundred people were inside the base. This not knowing of what exactly they are targeting is becoming an overburdening problem for Israel. Why don't people learn from the past?

An Associated Press story was just filed at 1:37pm today that indicated the Israel has continued airstrikes in light of the agreement for a 48 hour hold. Apparently there was a condition that Israel would strike in case of "imminent danger".

So apparently imminent danger means attacking a truck that is carrying huminatarian relief supplies!? As well as a truck that is carrying a Lebanese army offical and soliders? To Israel's credit however, they thought the aid truck was carrying missiles across from Syria while the other car had a senior Hezbollah offical in it.

Give me a break. Israel has apparently been misfiring all over the place according to their army officals. I wonder why. From all the reports and news briefs I've managed to scour, I've convinced that Israel has no fucking idea as to what they are doing, absolutely none and are firing whereever there pick. Are they playing some game of pin the missle on Lebanon here?

Later, Olmert continued to defy international pressure for a cease-fire, saying
that fighting would end only when Israel recovers the two soldiers Hezbollah
guerrillas captured in the cross-border raid that sparked the current
''We are determined to succeed in this struggle,'' Olmert said. ''We
will not give up on our goal to live a life free of terror.''

However while Olmert attempts to live a life free of terror, people in Lebanon don't have food and have been hiding out in their homes for the past twenty days.

''We had no food, no water. Everyday we had only one candy each, one candy
that is all,'' he said, grabbing his loose trousers, held together with a pin,
to show the weight he had lost. ''How much you eat in one day is how much we
have eaten in 20 days.''

According to the Red Cross News, relief workers have been unable to get through to towns in need of aid in the southern portion of the country due to continued bombing and fighting. The United Nations and the World Food Program are currently in preparation to send aid to Qana and Tyre, while attempting to overcome security problems in other towns.

Oh, and another reason why England is still our bitch.

Friday, July 28, 2006

I can't listen to that much Wagner. I start getting the urge to conquer Poland. (Woody Allen)

As I opened the Post Express this morning on the long ride to Capitol Hill this morning, I noticed the following:

"Hezbollah attacked Israel. I know Hezbollah is connected to Iran. Now is the time for the world to confront this danger."
- President Bush, sharply condemning Iran's role in the Israel-Hezbollah conflict.
Single quote with a picture on top of the national news page. Not a mention of anything else. What is our intelligent and investigative president implying? Come on, he KNOWS Hezbollah is connected to Iran, that must have taken some intelligent investigative work, right?

The situation in Israel seems to have finally blown up in their face earlier this week with reports concerning the death of 4 United Nations and the entire world clamoring for an immediate cease-fire, but it seems like the United States as gotten away with it again. We're allowing our lap dog Israel to continue bombing away at Lebanon because Condi wants a "sustainable cease fire". Sustainable!? Haven't most cease-fires in the history of war been sustainable?

It is mind-blowing that the US is allowing for Israel to continue targeting civilian sites in Lebanon. It just takes me back to September 2001. We flew off the handle and bombed Afghanistan into oblivion because we said we could. We let thousands die, left a nation in worse blight than before and with a puppet for a prime minister. I fear that it may be a similar situation for Lebanon, especially since they just began to rebuild after suffering from civil wars for

As of earlier this morning, it at least seems as him Israel will not widen its targeted area in Lebanon, though they are starting to call up its reservist troops. But the behavior of Israel is out of hand and are forcing a civilian government and its people to suffer the consequences of their ill-developed plan to hunt out Hezbollah.

This was also in the one of the articles from the New York Times today:

At the Pentagon, senior military planners cast the conflict as a localized example of America's broader campaign against global terrorism and said any faltering by Israel could harm the American efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan.
- New York Times
Israel's faltering can harm the American's efforts!? First, what efforts?And how? Is that people will realize that we did the same thing to Afghanistan?

What's the world coming to these days? I'm sure Sam Huntington has been waiting..

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

The Society That Can Not be Named

Let's talk about secret societies and the people who decide to join them, especially when its the editor-in-chief of the school paper. The ever so arrogant Donn Fresard at the Michigan Daily has announced his plans to join the society formerly known as Michigauma.

Daily Editor in Chief to join senior society - News

(For background information on Michigauma, refer to Robert Goodspeed's blog, the Goodspeed Update.

Fresard is the editor-in-chief during the academic year, while someone else serves as a summer EIC. And being a daily staff member, I can vouch for Fresard's concerns about editors keeping themselves holed up in the student publications building, which is something that needs to be addressed but not like this. Michigauma has a very turbulent past and has been the cause of increasing concern among the campus community because many notable campus figures have been given membership. This past year the membership of Neal Pancholi and Sam Woll caused concern because both individuals held significant power in multiple groups. Eventually both were made to step down from the South Asian Awareness Network and the Campaign to Cut Coke Contracts (coke coalition) because significant conflict of interest.

Personally, I don't believe Michigauma has reformed itself, especially not by just making the pride of '06 and '07 known to everyone else. The group has a very hostile relationship with other campus groups, making it significant fodder for stories, as well as strong connections to other campus groups that are written about, as well as influential alumni. This itself creates a huge conflict of interest, and the Daily has certain rules that deal with conflict of interest. The most prominent rule being that a staff member of the Daily can not be in student government. I wonder why that is? Is it because we cover them and attempt to hold them accountable for their actions, promises and mistakes? As a newspaper, wouldn't be do the same for Michigauma? Of course we would.

I do give the managing board credit for having a majority against him joining and remaining, but not enough to make him resign. I don't understand what happened and how people thought it was okay. Managing Editor Ashley Dinges resigned in protest, but has also being receiving comments over her rash decision and how it will hurt the newspaper. I admire Dinges for what she believes in, but sometimes you have to fight to make sure he doesn't step over the line.

As a writer, I don't appreciate having my work and its integrity compromised, and I'm going to make it does not happen. As a staffer and not an editor, my opinion, along with all the other staffers, was left out. I'm going to make sure that voice is heard because we're the ones who all the work, instead of keeping our noses stuck in the newspaper instead the drafty old student publications building.

This situation has catapulted its way to the pages of the chronicle for Higher Education, and connected a lot of alumni and former Daily editors/staffers together. Its great publicity, but not the good kind. I honestly fear the situation that will at hand once the academic year begins again because of so many members such as N.Stallings, A.Yahkind, G,Pai and others being in charge of influential groups.

For many, the Daily has served as a place to grow, learn and become deeply involved in our passion for writing, and there is no way something like this is going to happen while I sit on the sidelines. I couldn't join the ranks of the editors because of my time committment to my schoolwork (as a science major, it takes alot of time to study) and campus groups, but as a staffer who's been there forever, I'm not going to let something like rank and title push me aside.

Sunday, July 16, 2006


A month and a half flew by me and many of the thoughts jostling in my head remained there instead of appearing on this blinking computer screen, or even on paper, however that shall be no more.

After a significant series of events (which I'll mention as they were incredibly recent) I am prompted to make sure that this blog does not lose its purpose.

Wednesday, I attended the Campus Progress conference at the Mariott Wardman Hotel in Adams Morgan and was actually pleased at the turnout and plan on the conference, except for how incredibly long it was. Senator Barack Obama was the featured keynote speaker, though overshadowing the many other wonderful people who were there. The first panel discussion I attended concerned the media and investigative journalism, something right up my alley considering I write for the Michigan Daily. It gave a few good ideas as to how to improve the quality of my writing, and some incredibly new story ideas to refresh my beat since it's so ambigous to begin with.

The most intriguing panel was the one labeled "war on science", where former FDA director of Women's Health, Susan Wood was there. I've heard Wood speak before about her resignation and the partisan problems within the FDA( fyi, she quit due to lack of movement on making Plan B [birth control pill taken within 72 hours to prevent unintended pregnancy] over the counter) , however someone brought up a very good question. How come there is always a strom of controversy surrounding women and their reproductive health options, but no one cares when men start popping Viagra like candy? You have to love the hypocritical and male dominated society we live in. I understand the significant differences between the women's reproductive and birth control options and those available for men because of the homrones and biological substances involved that may cause side-effects and other serious problems. But how come a 16 year old girl has to get permission to get Plan B if she doing it for her own preventative measures, while a boy her age can just go to the store and buy a pack of condoms, no questions asked?

Of course there was also the hip hop panel where rapper Fat Joe was present and being speared about his misogynistic lyrics, while his defense is "i'm an entertainer".

And this only further stirs the pot about women and science. Take that Lawerence Summers!

* Don't peg me as a raging feminist, but its taken some work on women's issues on campus and being in Washington DC for me to realize that women still don't have a level playing field to work on.