Archive for April, 2010

POWs, Revolution, and the media

I wrote this a few weeks ago and it’s been sitting in WordPress’ “drafts” folder forever. Maybe it’s interesting, despite it’s lack of finality.

All we know is what our general news/media sources allow us. Let’s take that into context using good old CNN (a trustworthy, reliable news source according to most Americans’ viewing habits) as an example and we’ll play a little game:

Let’s see, CNN brings us ‘news’ about a golf player, the story of which I really don’t care to learn. But hey, American hostage in Iraq, whereabouts still unknown? That sure sounds interesting, right? It has to do with terrorists.

So I click it. It’s about the mourning and attempt at closure and the ‘hope’ of his family, back at home. Talking about fundraisers and social networks. Making a brief hypothesis near the end saying that withdrawing troops may be rewarded with the freeing of more hostages. Okay… So I feel completely bad for this guy and his family but… How is this news? So the family’s bummed–I should sure as hell hope so. But bringing this up as “news”–on the front page of one of the country’s most populated news websites–contributes to the situation … how? Is this actually news we need to know?

That point aside, let’s think: what was he doing in Iraq anyway? From

Jeff and Lilly were building a little piece of the American dream in LaPorte, Indiana, as their packaging equipment company, Equipment Express began to grow. Jeff was installing his company’s equipment in an Iraqi water bottling plant when armed gunmen came in and kidnapped him. A day later a video was shown of Jeff being held by hooded and heavily armed captors. In spite of much hard work by the FBI, military intelligence and other groups, there is no information about Jeff’s current status.

And from WikiPedia:

Jeffrey Ake, a contractor, was kidnapped on April 11, 2005, and shown in a videotape two days later. He has not been seen or heard from since. His kidnappers contacted his wife on the day he was kidnapped and demanded $1 million dollars in exchange for his release. After three weeks of negotiations, the kidnappers cut off all communication.

But actually, the source (Washington Post) says this:

Jeffrey J. Ake is 48 now, if he is alive. He is also a husband and son and the father of four children who miss him terribly. He is a storyteller, a Rotarian and a small-business owner who thrived in distant capitals.

He traveled to Iraq, tools in hand, on a private contract to repair machines at a water-bottling plant. Early one morning in April 2005, the telephone rang at a lakeside rambler in LaPorte, 80 miles east of Chicago. An Iraqi man, talking fast in poor English, told Liliana Ake, “We have your husband.”

And you know what’s funny? I can’t find anything else. Nothing of relevance. Family’s in sorrow, has been for years; the business had to file for bankruptcy, he should have demanded better security, yada yada. My question is what was this water-bottling plant? and to whom went the water? Was he a random American fixing the plumbing or was this a private contractor helping out United State resources in an region wanting the United States out? We’ll never know, but my point is simple: this CNN article is by no means news; nor is most of what the news networks distract us with.

Let’s continue to what I’d like to address: who all has heard of  Kyrgyzstan? I sure hadn’t before this week (actually before the Kyrg couchsurfer stayed with us on St. Patrick’s day, ironically). Some little half-Asian half-Eastern European country between Kazakhstan and China. Okay, maybe not half-European but I like the way they dress.

Now I don’t know if you noticed the tiny link to an article displaying pictures of people burying their dead in Kyrgyzstan, but yes indeed there is such a link on that CNN page.

So their’s fucking revolution is going on in Kyrg because of a corrupt, croney-ist government forcing higher energy and public service prices on the people, and apparently another one happened in 2005, the Tulip Revolution overthrowing the “increasingly authoritarian” government. That didn’t work. Now, with cronyism and corruption going on all over the place, the president has actually fled the capital and an interior minister was even killed when the protestors successfully broke in to their white house/palace and took it over. Basically, as the NY Times puts it, the protestors/opposition seek “justice and democracy.”

There’s more involved, since this upheaval could affect affect a US military base that the country had plans to throw out anyway. The base is basically where we keep our troops to watch Russia or something… See the victory photo they even took for the Times to put on their website?

Anyway, search the mainstream media and the “news” will tell you that it’s “opposition” and “unrest” in Kyrg, not revolution nor extreme, and all this opposition is mourning their dead and new leadership is figuring out what to do. Basic enough, who cares about details.

Now, weeks later, I can’t find anything on CNN relating to it…

General Education = more to add to the CSU moneybags

I’m sending this to the school student newspaper…

Hey marine bio professor, we know you want to get rid of us general ed students so you can get back to your research, we see it every morning as you rush through the bullshit attendance quizzes and recycled lectures. We know you know/care little about what lies beyond the box of objective marine biology, as your drifting off and evasion of detail in answering students’ questions of application adequately demonstrate.

We know you could give a shit about what we learn, as the BeachBoard readings you “test” us on only show us your scholarly glory and that the larger issues within the box of marine biology are worthless compared to the minute details of the whaling industry and dolphin slaughters that actually appear on our Scantron tests—larger issues that could maybe get a student caring or thinking about this class in a more practical manner, gods forbid. Plus you shrug off the suggestions & comments we try to offer as your students.

You spend sufficient time recounting anecdotes scarcely-related to the topic at hand yet expect us to proficiently recount any of an infinite number of details from an obscure section of the textbook, further proving your apparent lack of objective in “teaching.” We cram your study guide up to the darkest crooks of our assholes yet it’s the previously-unspecified finer details with no laudable purpose that appear on your exams. Why do I want to be taught by someone who doesn’t want me to learn?

I love learning, and I loved a good number of the GE classes I’ve taken in my four years at CSULB—classes of 200 students in large lecture halls full of eye candy are great for the collective anti-wake-up-for-an-early-class vibe—but when fulfilling vain criteria becomes the sole means of taking required courses, and comprehending a larger picture is irrelevant, I realize that the C in CSU no longer stands for California, it stands for Corporate.

Let’s be quite generous and say there are only 200 students overall enrolled in this mandatory GE class—biology—every semester. I’m going to go out on a whim here and, still being quite generous, say that only about a quarter of that hypothetical number a) have a major requiring this course or simply b) actually give somewhat of a shit about the topic at hand. Where does that leave the other 75%– graduating literature students, senior class film/art majors, fifth-year business administration kids taking this last GE class to finally get their goddam diplomas? I’ll leave that question open.

150 students is roughly four laboratory sections. Does the school pay the aquarium for four lab classes’ worth of entry fees when we have our field trip there? What about the gasoline and crew & captain’s pay for that big boat those four lab classes took out into the bay? Drift from the economics—what about the pollution from taking that big boat out and capturing a bunch of sea creatures, four times? Make that eight times, I hear it wasn’t just my class that had to throw the otter trawl out a second time because they didn’t catch any ocean dwellers the first time. Sounds like a great waste of resources on account of the obligatory “education” of 150 kids that don’t give a shit.

Oh wait, I think I know why those 150 students still have to take the class.

Each of those 150 students—that still don’t give a shit about the subject, in case if you’ve forgotten— still pay $40 for a shiny brand-new iClicker quiz-taking gizmo for the professor to be able to babysit and dock you points when you don’t show up to class. That’s $6000. With a rough approximation of each CSU unit costing $150 (also pretty generous), that’s another $22,500 for the school/program. Oh yeah, the book—$130—$19,500. Let’s be fair and only include half of that money paid for the iClicker and the book, since the school doesn’t produce them—so $3000 and $9,750, respectively—and we have a grand total of $30,000. Rough, yes, but this figure is what the school hypothetically makes from forcing 150 students who don’t give a shit to take an arbitrary class (and that’s also not tallying the $25 lab and lecture manuals—the only way to get the syllabus or take notes or complete assignments!)! $30,000 is a lot of money from students who don’t want to be there in the first place. Sure, maybe some good will come out of it one day. But not when your attitude’s in the gutter upon seeing your achieved D after staying up the last two nights studying for the exam.

It would seem, therefore, that students are no longer paying to educate themselves, but paying simply to employ the faculty, who do research in their non-teaching hours that may someday help the school’s reputation. Cool, but I don’t get it. With mandatory GE classes that do not interest a large percentage of the student body, there is no benefit—economic nor academic—to be profited by the student. Wasn’t this whole go-to-college thing about us in the first place?

I sense the CSU system is an effective parallel to that of our country’s management, albeit localized: as long as consumers believe they’re paying towards their own well-being, they won’t stop to question the world they’ve been born into.

US Military Slaying

From Collateral Murder:

CA to Legalize Marijuana? Why?

As a lawsuit threat letter from Marlboro proves, something like these cig joints were around for a while–until Marlboro got pissed.

There have been stoner rumors for years about how Marlboro has “Marlboro Greens” already patented and tested for the day the green dope is  finally legal, and since it’ll be on the California ballot in a scant half-year, it looks like that day is close since every one and their mother (and in many cases, their grandmother) smokes and advocates marijuana usage.

But I don’t get it. I don’t understand why everyone’s so stoked on it. Look past the whole “it’s about time the government gets with the times” or the “it was never legalized because they couldn’t figure out how to economize it but now we need it to combat the budget deficit” shit, let’s look at it like any other crop (i.e. tobacco) or any other substance (i.e. alcohol) or other food (i.e. beef) law.

Let’s think about it with a few questions I’d like to raise:

  1. Do we as a general public really have any issues with it’s legality right now? Let’s face it, it’s not simply illegal: it’s decriminalized. Meaning get caught with over an ounce and then you’re fucked with something more than a fine that would be like you picking up three sacs from the dude across the 7-11. An ounce is a lot of dope, a lot more than the average consumer smokes–and even then, to the average consumer that does purchase in that high a quantity, how often are they leaving their house with ALL OF IT (aside to deal it). We still smoke our jays in our houses and backyards and balconies, free of heavy worry for adults, and even for kids they know that they’ll be gone by the time the smell is, by the time the cop could possibly catch a whiff of it. At this point a good percentage of cops–I have no evidence for this–are cool with it and won’t even bother if you’re caught with a dub sack. Think about it. No one who wants to smoke marijuana is scared because it’s illegal.
  2. Just because it’s legal doesn’t mean it’s free of restrictions. Like tobacco and being 18 to smoke outside only, or like alcohol and being 21 to only drink indoors, or like being in Amsterdam and being unaware of the laws behind the legal dope: technically it’s still against the law to smoke it outside in public, outside of the coffeeshop establishments. The simple case-in-point being that in continental Europe no one generally gives a shit as long as you’re not blowing it in kid’s faces and talking shit to everyone. Plus you still can only buy 5 grams per coffeeshop. Relate it to the ten-foot-pole-up-the-ass United States: you won’t be able to smoke in public, you’ll have to be twenty-one, insert something else here. Think about it.
  3. Tobacco’s legal too. But can you buy pure tobacco anywhere? Of course not, because it’s full of preservatives/chemicals/god-knows-what in whatever form you buy it. Cigarettes, pipe, rolling tobacco… It all has some kind of shit in it, even if it claims organic there’s still some type of regulation on the farming of the crop or the seed the farmer uses… So let’s hypothetically place marijuana in the same category: we may be able to grow x amount of plants in our own backyard and not fret, but where will the seed have to come from? Or where will it come from the easiest? Think about it.
  4. Marijuana cigarettes. Literally. Like that image above, fucking Marlboro greens. Why the fuck wouldn’t this happen– we’d rather smoke a fag than roll one, why would we want to keep rolling our own fat jays if they came pre-rolled? And Big Tobacco companies, as they put it, are one of the biggest in the nation/world… Gods know how much herb would actually be inside one of these cigarettes, and the government wouldn’t require them to tell us either–just like with tobacco. We buy a pack of greens for $10 (taxed for another $3) then smoke one every hour to get our small dosage of THC and nico-chemicals… Then somehow crave a real cigarette. Think about it.
  5. Bye bye dealers. Sure, maybe for a few years there would still remain the same dealers we all knew, but with new restrictions being placed on the cultivation and marketing of marijuana (for economic/monopoly reasons, as we’ve been saying for forty years against its illegality), without the proper papers based on its growing or proper license to sell, dealers would still remain just as underground as before–with their prices going up just like in the now-legalized cannabis clubs. They’ll have to work harder to produce and maintain their crop as well as their sales, how could any price just remain steady? Everything will change. Think about it.

I’ll continue to this list as I get more time, but it seems so clear that this isn’t just to make us happy–they would’ve done that twenty years ago if that were the case. False consciousness, people. Look it up.

My opinion is VOTE NO to this proposition on the ballot in November. It’ll just contribute to making rich companies richer, infecting our bodies further with even more chemicals (through something we all trusted and loved and let our lives change for so long), pleasing the working class by making us all think we “achieved” a victory with democracy, disillusioning us even further. It’ll destroy any hope we have left of our flailing generation to make a change, and completely obliterate our children’s generation.

If you read this and have a discrepancy, or valid research to disprove what I’m trying to say somewhere here, PLEASE don’t hesitate to tell me.

Religion in America

Thank you @ All-That’s-Interesting

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Another twenty some odd young adult who believes he sees things from a unique perspective. Here be my poetry & prose, short stories, favored school papers, rantings, and "blogs." Comment, critique, and profit.