What happened to Europeans? The evisceration of Europe

I remember twenty years ago when I encountered Europeans in the supermarket, on the street, or in restaurants, how impressed I usually was with them. I recall thinking to myself that I could identify a European amongst a crowd of Americans very easily even without hearing anyone speak. They dressed better, appeared healthier, and had a prouder attitude than Americans, or so it seemed to me at the time.  I surmised that they hadn’t yet been crushed by the vicious form of predatory capitalism which had overrun  the United States and still ate real food as opposed to the junk food diet which had made the U.S. the fattest country in the world.

The economies of most European countries in the mid to late 90s were doing well. Trade was flourishing. Banks were  lending and people were setting up businesses. These were the pre-Euro days, before the EU and the EU commission and central bank ruled everything.

How times change.  Europeans these days look depressingly similar to Americans. They have grown obese. Many have the look of someone who’s just been sucker punched and is looking around him thinking, ‘what just happened?’

Americans, unhealthy  as they are, at least have made an effort to quit the smoking habit. Europeans have kept their smoking rates steady, in spite of all the studies and anti-smoking legislation that have occurred over the past five decades. If you’re otherwise very healthy, you might be able to mitigate some of the effects of smoking. But if you’re fat and smoke, you’ve got a problem.

But its not just the skyrocketing obesity that has changed Europe. The Europeans I see and meet don’t possess  confidence anymore about their countries, the future, or even themselves. More and more, I notice  people with a cynical attitudes  who live only for the moment.

What happened?  Globalization, the European Union, and immigration have combined to squeeze the life out of much of that continent. And furthermore, these forces are still increasing, despite some of the recent gains made by anti-EU parties in the elections.

http://bigstory.ap.org/article/french-idea-restaurant-changes-so-does-law

http://www.ctvnews.ca/world/new-french-law-would-allow-restaurant-dishes-to-be-labelled-homemade-1.1682645

Globalization meant that multinationals  bludgeoned their way into every facet of European life. All of the most loathsome of American corporations now do big business throughout Europe, including the fast food conglomerates and big box chains. McDonald’s, Burger King, Starbucks, Taco Bell and all the rest can be found in all European cities. Budweiser, Coca-Cola, and Marlboro are sold everywhere. This has an effect not only on people’s physical health, but on culture itself. Every week, a news story is published about yet another traditional  facet of European life which is falling by the wayside. Last year, I read an article about the ‘disappearing Irish pub’ in its homeland.  Around the same time, another article appeared chronicling the demise of the traditional fish and chip shop in the U.K. France, home to such an old and proud culinary tradition, recently had to pass a law specifying exactly what constitutes a restaurant. The reason?  A large number of restaurants nowadays, even mid-tier, well-established ones, are simply re-heating food brought in from elsewhere. In other words, there is no cooking going on in the restaurant’s kitchen. 

http://www.spiegel.de/international/europe/economic-crisis-leads-to-mass-closing-of-irish-pubs-a-914375.html

http://www.altreading.com/fish-chip-shops-gone/

Some may argue that there are other forces at work besides globalization, and they may well have a point. In Ireland, the police have increased DUI patrols, thus contributing to  the decline of pubs. In England, many fish and chip shops simply refused to adapt to changing  tastes and simply went bankrupt out of laziness and incompetence.

The EU has been a disaster. It’s stunning to think about, really. This experiment which less than twenty years ago was being heralded as the dawn of a glorious new age for Europe has crashed and burned with a rapidity that I would not have thought possible. How quickly everything unraveled! Those that stayed away from the Euro , like Norway, are doing quite well. Others that kept the EU at arm’s length, like Great Britain, are hanging on. Those that jumped in with both feet are now struggling for their very existence: Ireland, Portugal, Greece, Spain. The rest of the EU is a mixed bag, but what is without debate is the fact that all of those countries gave up a significant amount of their sovereignty to a centralized governing authority run by a bunch of lawyers, banksters and apparatchiks who have no accountability.

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Mass immigration, formerly an American phenomenon, has become a huge issue in Europe. For a number of reasons, many governments in Europe have opened their doors to large numbers of immigrants from Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. The resulting and predictable dilution of native culture along with tension with locals that sometimes flares into violence has further undermined Europe’s stability. When you consider the the secular and liberal culture of a place like Holland or the Scandinavian countries and contrast that with the deeply religious and  conservative culture of many Middle Eastern and African countries from which these immigrants come, it’s hard to imagine how these new neighbors are going to live forever in peace and harmony.

This three-pronged assault on the physical, cultural, and political integrity of Europe has taken a terrible toll. Poverty, suicide, and despair are on the rise. Europe is so entangled now in so many different messes, it’s difficult to know where to begin the housecleaning. This recent anti-EU backlash is a good place to start. Countries regaining their sovereignty from the EU and rapacious corporations can be followed by a healthy reinvigoration of the native culture.

Five more disgusting facts about Fifa

The more I learn about FIFA and the world cup, the more sickened I feel about the whole charade. Almost every day I learn something new about this repulsive organization. For example,

1) FIFA is registered as a non-profit. Huh? A non-profit with a billion bucks in its bank account. Not bad.

http://sports.yahoo.com/news/brazil-s-thrilling-opening-match-win-takes-backseat-to-politics–fifa-s-steadfast-corruption-235458789-soccer.html

2) World cup stadiums were built on Indian land.

http://www.zengardner.com/ghosts-world-cup/

 

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3) FIFA strong-armed the Brazilian government to lift its ban on alcohol sales in football stadiums to please its corporate sponsor Budweiser. Money trumps public health and public safety. Need we say this again? Governments don’t rule the world, corporations do.

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-18348012

4) The 2022 world cup will be held in Qatar, where it is not uncommon for the mercury to reach 125 degrees . Now, that’s some pleasant weather for a football match! But the weather is the least of the problems when talking about Qatar.  Workers building the infrastructure for the tournament are wantonly abused and are dying regularly, and most are kept in the country as virtual slaves. Already, 1,000 migrant workers have died. 

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5) Most of the stadiums built in Brazil for the world cup will be ‘white elephants’ after the tournament has ended. They will be used sparingly, if at all, in the future and will simply rot away.

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/jun/10/world-cup-protesters-fifa-demand-reform

And can someone please tell me why the world cup requires twelve cities in which to host the games? I mean, even the olympics, which I thought was the world’s largest international sporting event, only requires one city. Call me crazy, but I have an idea. Can’t we just do the whole thing in one city?  Most major cities in the USA, for example, have a major league stadium, plus a handful of smaller stadiums at local universities. With proper staggering of the game times, this could easily be done. The host cities in Brazil are so far apart that hours long plane trips are required to get from one to the other. This is absurd!

John Oliver tells it like it is:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DlJEt2KU33I

Two depressing new trends on the web

It’s hard to keep up with all the crazy new trends happening on the world wide web, but let’s take a look at a couple of the biggest:

Wacky headline teasers

Are you old enough to remember the days when headlines gave you  basic information on the content of that article?  A quick glance at the headline told you the important information, and then you could decide if you wanted to read the article in full. There’s an ‘old-fashioned’ newspaper in the city where I now reside, and they still use these types of headlines. Here’s a couple of examples:

‘VN urges joint action on mines’…..’Water shortage hits central region’….’Lao Cai Police nab drug traffickers’……..’Water pipe breach hits Ha Noi again’….

Each of these headlines is clear and concise. I can skim through the paper quickly, get an idea of the day’s stories and use the headlines to stop and read the articles that I find interesting.

However, website designers, publishers and marketing companies have discovered that it’s better to use teasers- headlines that give only a tiny (and insufficient) bit of information on the content,  sprinkled with a tantalizing word or phrase. Often these new headlines serve a dual purpose of dishing out needless fear as well. If you want to get an idea of the cutting edge of this trend, look no further than the website for the ‘weather channel.’ They have perfected this loathsome trend and unashamedly splatter their home page with juicy headlines such as:

‘Beware, THIS is invading the U.S.’….’The View you will see’……’One third of the world INFECTED’….’Volcano ready to BLOW’…’Are they INVADING us?’…..’An endless winter, can you imagine?’…

For a more in-depth and hilarious listing of weather.com’s idiotic headlines, check out this article on college humor:

http://www.collegehumor.com/post/6895846/fucking-relax-weather-dot-com

Another website which is quickly gathering readers and fans and which posts many interesting articles is called upworthy. com. My best friend in California recommended  this site and while I enjoy many of the articles, the editors have certainly embraced this teaser headline trend to a fault. Nearly every headline uses this format and it makes me a wee bit nauseated to scroll through the home page with examples like these:

‘Dear straight people, we have to talk’…..’If I told you what this is about, you almost definitely would not click on it’   (I didn’t click on it anyway, nice try)….’If you’re too grossed out to share this video, then you’re exactly why it exists’ ….and on and on.

‘Recommended for you’

By now, everyone who regularly uses the internet has come across the ubiquitous links at the conclusion of articles that are ‘recommended for you.’ Or, they might read  ‘Around the web.’ Typically, you will see about a half-dozen links with photos which are often tangentially related to the article you just finished. Here’s the rub: those innocent looking links to  web articles and blogs are nothing more than advertisements. They are cleverly disguised as news articles , of course, as all good corporate PR is, but a closer look  reveals them for what they are. Beware.

Rise of the techno zombies, part 2

For most of the first decade of the 21st century, I lived in a small town on the coast of northern California. The nearest big city, San Francisco, is a five hour drive away. The area is home to the largest trees in the world, the famed  Coast Redwood (Sequoia Sempervirens). Locals like to say that they live behind ‘the Redwood curtain,’ meaning that they often feel like the rest of the world has forgotten about them.

Being small, remote, and well off the beaten path, we were always at least a few years behind urban trends, especially technological and social trends. I didn’t purchase my first cell phone until late 2006, seven or eight years after most urbanites had bought their first one. Being on the tech cutting edge wasn’t important for me or for most of my friends.

To assess the impact that new technologies like smart phones, laptops, and tablets were having on society, I relied on reading news accounts and blogs. It wasn’t until I moved to Portland, Oregon in late 2008 and then Seattle in 2009 that I witnessed firsthand the influence that the tech revolution was having on society and culture itself.

The adjustment back to city living after ten years of small town life was difficult enough, but coming to grips with the our new tech crazy world was, and is, really difficult. Here are a few anecdotes relating to my experiences.

There was a wonderful little cafe a few short blocks from my apartment in Portland. They had plenty of comfortable seating, served good coffee, and played music that was not too antithetical to my tastes. But after a couple of visits, I stopped going there. It had a lifeless feel. Some days it would be full of customers , with 20 to 25 mostly young people sitting and drinking coffee. Problem was, everyone was sitting alone at their table and nobody was talking. Furthermore, no one was reading books, magazines or newspapers. Everyone was either on their laptop or smartphone. It didn’t just feel weird, it felt somewhat creepy.

When I moved to Seattle, the scene at every cafe and coffeehouse I visited was exactly the same as described above. No talking, no reading- just texting, web browsing and updating social media. Oh yes, everyone also was drinking from disposable cups, even though they sat at the tables for hours. Starbucks had taught them well.

Technology has a way of inexorably worming itself into every facet of our lives and into every physical space as well, even those spaces which were hitherto considered off-limits to phones, computers, and such. Those physical spaces include the commons, i.e. parks, museums, sidewalks, and bus stops,  private enterprises like bars, clubs, cafes, and retail stores,  and of course,  our homes.

During the two years I lived in Seattle, the city’s largest, most famous and well-established bookstore moved from its location near the waterfront to a different neighborhood which happened to be much closer to my apartment. I was quite excited about this and looked forward to the opening. The new store, not surprisingly, lacked the character and ambience of the old one. The original store had a confusing layout, almost chaotic in a way, which encouraged browsing and serendipity.

kids

The new location had a second floor which contained some of my favorite sections and which also offered a small amount of respite from the noise of the first floor, with it cafe, music and check-out. There was a nice wooden table which the store owners had thoughtfully placed near the stacks. This table, I naively supposed, was where we could sit for a few minutes with a book pulled from the shelves. One afternoon, I saw, to my dismay, that the table was filled with a half dozen students and hipsters who had set up their laptops on the table and were busily working, chatting, and giggling. So much for book browsing. Even though there was a spacious cafe at the bottom of the stairs, with comfortable seats, good food, and free wifi which was built specifically to cater to these customers, they wanted to take the one space in the store that I thought was reserved for book readers. I complained to management, but to no avail.

I had finally come to terms with the fact that coffeehouses were essentially lost, that they had metamorphosed into something unimaginable to me even ten or fifteen years ago. They now resemble something more akin to what are known as  co-working spaces. They have become just a venue for people to plug in their wifi enabled devices. The cup of coffee that is purchased is simply the price of admission  for the table, electrical outlet, and air conditioning. Well, what about bars? At the end of the day, people leave their computers at home and go sit in the dark bar to have a drink and share their troubles with a friend, right?

digital_addiction_by_intellectualdeviant-d4vsm7q

It just so happened that I lived next to one of Seattle’s better dive bars, a small and dark place, but one with a bit of style and which served some of Seattle’s best craft cocktails. With no televisions, great drinks, moody lighting and a decent bar, it was perfect for me. But then management decided, on their own or under pressure from customers, to install wifi. Soon enough, the techies started coming in and setting up at the tables with their laptops. Given the small, intimate space and the low lighting, a few people turing on their fifteen- or seventeen- inch screens had the effect of completely transforming the bar’s atmosphere. One night I was sitting at the bar when a 20-something girl sat next to me and promptly threw down her macbook on the bar and turned it on. We sat only inches apart, so I was forced to bathe in the bright glare of her screen. It was like someone had brought in their television. I protested vehemently to the bartender. He was sympathetic, but ultimately did nothing. Once they installed wifi, and advertised it, the game was up.

I often went to have dinner at a wonderful restaurant in my neighborhood. I almost always sat at the bar to eat and occasionally another solo diner would sit next to me. I recall one evening when a gentleman who looked to be around 60 pulled up a chair beside me.  We immediately began conversing and found out we had some things in common. He was interesting and a good conversationalist, but just when the discussion got rolling, he pulled out his smartphone and said, “excuse me.” He then began playing with the phone and surfing the web. His unapologetic and swift cutoff of our talk seemed harsh, unnecessary and perplexing.  He might as well have said, “I’m done with you now. Fuck off.” Indeed, it was a number of experiences like this that convinced me that I was better off not even attempting to start a conversation with other solo diners.

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At my job, I had the opportunity to see the effect of smartphones on  people whom I interacted with on a daily basis. One young woman was a new nurse who had recently graduated. Unlike most of her peers, she was a book lover and I had even bumped into her a couple of times at the used book store. Whenever I came upon her in the dining hall, she glanced and smiled at me over the cover of the book she was reading. And then one day she bought a iphone. From that day on, I never again saw her reading a book. Whereas before she always noticed me immediately when I walked into the dining hall, now her attention was so focused on the phone that she wasn’t aware of anything happening around her.

After my boss bought her first iphone,  it never left her hand. The first day she brought it to work, , she walked around the facility, visiting every department, ostensibly to share pictures of her recent trip to a southern state for a conference, but in truth to show off her new toy. She insisted on showing me dozens of boring photos on the phone. She knew they were boring  but she couldn’t resist sharing her wonderful new gadget.

As bad as this situation is in America, in Asia it’s even worse. A few days ago, a local paper ran a piece from Agence France Press about internet addiction in Singapore. Psychiatrists in Singapore want the government there to join other countries in recognizing internet addiction as a mental disorder. According to the article, 87% of the population of Singapore own a smartphone. When you discount the under-5 and over 75- age groups, that basically means that everyone in Singapore owns a smartphone.

People are reporting ‘text neck’ or ‘iNeck’ pain according to an anesthesiologist at Singapore General Hospital. Many people have their heads lowered all day while using their phones, even while crossing the street and queuing. A number of Asian countries have set up treatment centers for young addicts. The article goes on to state that China may have as many as 24 million young internet addicts and already has set up 300 internet addiction centers, which , given the figures above, is way too few. Welcome to our ‘Brave New World.’

journalism- the worst profession in the world

Back in the mid-80s, I made one of the worst decisions of my life: to major in journalism.  Even though some courses I took at university offered tantalizing glimpses of an alternative route  (astronomy, for one), I stuck with my original decision and slogged through the mostly boring four years of a communications degree.

In that time, journalism in America had long been in decline, from at least the early 70s. Its downward trajectory has only continued and where the bottom lies is anyone’s guess. With these thoughts in mind, I noticed an op-ed piece penned in yesterday’s Viet Nam News. It was written by a working journalist in Viet Nam, and the article demonstrates clearly that being a journalist anywhere in the world these days sucks. The article is titled ‘Journalism cannot be a mercenary pursuit.’

It begins, “In 2013, global job-search portal CareerCast rated journalism as the worst job in the United States, below lumberjacks, janitors, garbage collectors, and bus drivers. The agency publishes the list annually in its Jobs Rate Reports. Two hundred jobs are ranked based on factors such as environment, income, outcome, and stress.”

While this study focused on the U.S., the writer explains that the situation is the same in Viet Nam, where journalists deal with low pay, high stress, competitiveness and crazy hours. Reporters earn between 200 and 400 dollars a month. As bad as journalism was back when I graduated, the ubiquity of the internet with thousands of citizen journalists and bloggers has made the working newspaper journalist not only endangered but quite possibly obsolete.

This is not a black and white issue. I think society benefits from having trained, professional, and full time journalists working for established news organizations who both support and defend them. At the same time, we as citizens cannot rely on or even expect these journalists to do all the work that is required of a citizenry keeping a check on over-reaching and over-zealous governments. Bloggers and citizen journalists (and whistle -blowers) can fill this gap.

Ten years ago, many media watchers, observing the increasing rate of bankruptcies and mergers in the newspaper industry, along with the increasing penetration of the internet, were predicting that within a decade the newspaper industry would be dead. That hasn’t yet happened and the remaining newspapers are hanging on, though often by just the thinnest of margins. It’s 2014 and I’m happy that I can still wake up and buy a local newspaper to read with my morning coffee. And I salute the journalists who are still ‘out there’ , working for pennies, and often putting their very lives at risk. (70 journalists killed in 2013, with many more imprisoned or beaten).

http://en.rsf.org/71-journalists-were-killed-in-2013-18-12-2013,45634.html

http://www.managementtoday.co.uk/features/1175143/

The vaccine scam- the view from Asia

Last year a number of infants died in central Viet Nam after being injected with a ‘5 in 1’ vaccination.  The Ministry of Health in Viet Nam, like most health ministries in other countries around the world, pursues an aggressive vaccination program, especially for infants and children. Following the tragedy of the infant deaths, the ministry and its multi-national sponsors,  such as WHO and its affiliated programs, had to go into damage control. The children’s deaths, though tragic, were a result of perhaps a ‘bad batch,’ they claimed. The ministry reassured families in the region that a thorough review was being done and all samples would be tested for safety. But most of all, they reiterated in strong language that in no way should parents be fearful of vaccinations, that vaccines are completely safe, and that parents should continue on as before with the full schedule of vaccinations. ‘Nothing to worry about here, go on as before. We have the situation under control….’

BG-eugenics

I have not seen any follow-up stories in the last year. It would be interesting to know how many families in the affected region stopped the vaccinations and how many believed the government’s reassurances. Taken in isolation, the story of a simple ‘bad batch’  could indeed be plausible. But when looked at from a wider angle, with all the stories from around the globe of deaths  and adverse reactions to vaccines, from polio in Central Asia, to influenza in America to smallpox in Africa, the story takes on a much deeper and more sinister aspect.

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Even an average college graduate has little knowledge  on vaccines- their history, their ingredients, their rate of efficacy, potential short and long term effects, and the political and financial aspects to the whole world-wide vaccination program. Imagine then an uneducated, impoverished farmer’s reaction when a a health team shows up at the commune with a bag full of needles and drugs and instructs the women to bring all the children ’round. When the doctors and nurses starts speaking to the villagers about the wonder of these drugs, using medical terminology which is incomprehensible to them, and furthermore stoking their fears with what might happen to them if they don’t get injected- malaria, dengue fever, death!- they easily succumb to the propaganda.

Merck_CDC_Gerberding_Gardasil_Vaccine_Scam

 

Just yesterday, a story appeared in the local news media about the immunization program for Viet Nam. Children already receive eleven    vaccines here. But that’s not enough. Now, they want to add three more. The new shots will be for pneumococcus, diarrhea caused by rotavirus, and cervical cancer.  The Global Alliance for Vaccines has pledged to provide the vaccines for free initially. The GAVI is a Bill Gates foundation founded in 2000, which is a public and private partnership. This, of course, is code language meaning that the drug manufacturers want vaccination rates to increase, as this will increase their profits.  (In a future post, I will examine whether Bill Gates really wants to save children, or eliminate them.) The story goes on to say that the vaccines are expensive, with the cervical cancer vaccine costing nearly 80 USD per shot. And this is in a country with a yearly per capita income of $2,000.

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There is little doubt that at this time next year, we will read a news story that states that the ministry of health has decided to add another handful of vaccines to the regular schedule for children. The fear campaign will be kept ramped up, and the smarmy, gruesome  visage of Bill Gates will be looming in the background. Meanwhile, expect to see more unfortunate deaths and hospitalizations from the millions of shots being given by brainwashed doctors and nurses.

vaccineChildren do not need more vaccinations. What they need now, and have always needed, is clean water, proper sanitation, and pure, fresh food. There is no substitute for a healthy immune system.

‘Primum Non Nocere’- First, do no harm.

http://thanhniennews.com/society/latest-infant-deaths-force-vietnam-parents-to-rethink-vaccination-1723.html

http://english.vietnamnet.vn/fms/society/80025/two-years–nearly-20-babies-die-after-vaccination.html

Ten things I love about Viet Nam

10) The Weather

In the southern half of the country where I live, it’s never cold. Sweaters and coats are unnecessary. My clothing budget is minuscule;  I get by with shorts, t-shirts, and flip-flops when I’m not working. That’s not to say the weather here is perfect. Far from it. The heat, humidity and rain can all be unpleasant.  But overall, the climate here is conducive to my lifestyle and I love seeing the bright sun every day.

9) Cost of living

Inflation is happening and the bowl of pho that cost 25 cents a few years ago now costs $1.50.  However, the cost of basic items needed for daily living is still a bargain, especially if you shop around. Everything from pedicures to taxis is a fraction of the cost of Western countries.  If you can manage to avoid the more expensive touristy areas and the stores geared toward the wealthier expats, you can live quite cheaply. Shop for food at the markets and share housing, especially with a local family, and you can actually save money.

market8) Street Markets

For convenience, cost, and freshness, you can’t beat the local street markets. Even though there is a family of ten living in this house where I rent a room, their refrigerator is only 1/4 full. Why? Because they shop for fresh food every day at the street market. A refrigerator becomes redundant when you shop daily for fresh produce.

7) Tropical fruits

soursopExotic fruits that I only read about back in the States are now a part of my daily diet. Mangosteen, dragon fruit, durian, rambutan, lychee, jackfruit, soursop and more are just a few steps from my front door. In-season fruits sell for 25 cents a pound.

6) Being in Southeast Asia

Cambodia (with the otherworldly Angkor Wat ruins), Laos, Thailand, Myanmar and the Philippines are all just a stone’s throw away. With discount airlines such as Air Asia offering daily flights all over the region, there is enough to explore here to last a lifetime. A bus fare to the Cambodian border costs a mere ten dollars.

5) Opportunities

constructionViet Nam is a developing country. It is growing rapidly in an economic, political  and cultural sense which means there are many opportunities here for aspiring entrepreneurs. Many young Vietnamese who studied abroad are now returning here from Europe, America, and Australia and helping to build the country.  There is still far too much red tape to navigate for foreigners to start a business, but that is improving, albeit slowly.

4) A respectable English language newspaper

Viet Nam News is published seven days a week and is superior to any daily paper in the United States, and operates  on only a fraction of the budget of papers  like The Washington Post.

3) A sense of optimism about the future

Vietnamese believe that the best days lie ahead.  After two brutal wars of liberation from foreign powers, the country is rapidly industrializing and joining the global market. Foreign investment is flowing into the country and the internet is exposing the population to the wider world. Not just new technology, but new ideas are gaining ground quickly.

2) A well-established ESL job scene

ESL language schools have been around now for over 20 years, (some longer than that), and the demand for English instruction seems to be as robust as ever. This is good news for teachers like myself. Most of the bigger schools are reputable and treat their teachers with respect and courtesy. Now, if the government could just simplify the work permit process….

1) Vietnamese women

The women of Viet Nam are the most beautiful in the world. From their soft skin to their long silky hair, they are gorgeous in every respect.

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Is the world really going insane, or are we just being played for fools? Boko Harem, Isis, and El Shabaab

Some form of mass shooting now occurs  almost daily in the United States. In the Middle East and Africa, mass killings, car bombings, and kidnappings are also a daily occurrence. New ‘terrorist’ groups and cells appear out of nowhere. Now we have an entire ‘terrorist’ army (ISIS) which has, supposedly, come out of nowhere and overrun half a country.  Is there a connection between all these events? Can we connect a few dots here?

To begin with, we the people should, as always, ignore everything we  read in the corporate, zionist-controlled mass media. It is nothing more or less than mass mind control, meant to first instill fear and confusion, and then to ultimately steer and control the masses into the desired outcome.

The recent shootings in America, going back to Sandy Hook and Boston, are all likely false-flag staged events. They are elaborate hoaxes and productions, and the fact that they are coming so furiously now means that the social engineers are busy getting ready to implement some new draconian program, most likely gun control, i.e. confiscation. Thank goodness we have the independent media and researchers who can expose the absurd events as soon as they are broadcast. Anyone who spends a few minutes examining the evidence and circumstances surrounding these shootings comes away with a lot of unanswered questions.

Concomitant with the shootings in America, we have all the recent madness on the African continent and the appearance of this army in Iraq. Boko Harem, which is likely a CIA creation, is busy creating the requisite climate of fear and terror needed for NATO intervention. It is the classic ‘Problem-Reaction-Solution’ program at work. Along with ‘Boko Harem’ (a name probably concocted in some CIA dungeon during a late night drinking session) , we now have a new group of maniacs running loose in Kenya, slaughtering people without remorse. Reuters (Rothschild owned) and AP (Rothschild owned) are telling us that the gunmen are crazed killers (Al-Shabaab) from Somalia. Western powers have a long history of intervention in that strategic country in the horn of Africa, and there is every reason to think that events occurring there have a hidden hand behind them.

dog-D

If you believe all this nonsense with Boko Harem and Al-Shabaab, then we have a doozy for you. With thousands of high-tech satellites hovering over Earth, sophisticated eavesdropping equipment, the NSA, the CIA, military intelligence -not to mention thousands of operatives on the ground all over the Middle East- somehow they failed to detect the presence of an army which has in a matter of days taken over half of Iraq. Yeah, right.

This army didn’t come out of nowhere and they didn’t magically acquire all those light and heavy weapons they are now using so ruthlessly. They are well-armed and well-funded. But by whom?  The Middle East is so awash with weapons smuggled in from everywhere that it would be difficult if not impossible to find out the truth of the matter. All we can do is ask the obvious question: ‘Qui bono?’ Who will benefit from the unfolding madness in Iraq? Arms merchants and banks, for sure. Israel, probably. The Israelis need weak, divided and fractured states in the neighborhood. Don’t forget, the long range plan of the zionists in Tel Aviv is a ‘Greater Israel’ that extends all the way to the Tigris and Euphrates.

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The banksters and zionist war mongers who pull Obama’s strings need to keep the war machine going. It may be as simple as that: more conflict for the sake of …..more conflict. The neo-cons even told us so. This war will go on forever, they said. The psychopaths who sit at the table of the ruling elite need their blood sacrifices.  Humanity will take back our freedom when we stop feeding the beast.

Choosing a major: Avoiding the banking and marketing trap

Choosing a major is one of the most difficult decisions a young adult must make.  For an eighteen- or nineteen-year-old, it is often an overwhelming task, fraught with anxiety. Few teenagers know what they want to do with the rest of their life. Faced with such uncertainty and ignorance, kids turn to parents, relatives and counselors to help them make a decision.

Unfortunately for these kids, much of the advice they are given from well-meaning adults is not in their best interest, and far too often leads them into fields for which they are ill-fitted and in which they will be unhappy.  Parents are prone to forcing their children into majors which they have heard are ‘hot’ fields and will lead their offspring into lucrative careers upon graduation.

These days, especially here in Asia, those ‘hot’ fields are banking/finance and advertising/marketing.  The vast majority -over 80 percent- of the young adults I have met who are attending university tell me they are majoring in these fields. Of the remaining, fifteen percent, most are in business school or economics.  In America, the figures are probably comparable.

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So how this trend bode for those kids and the countries in which they will soon be working? Clearly, these kids did not grow up saying to their peers, “some day I dream of being a banker.”  Nor did they play football in the playground and confide to their playmates, “you know, I dream of working for a giant transnational, helping them boost their bottom line by a few billion by creating a clever marketing scheme.”

Dreams and idealism are drummed out of kids at a very early age now. In Asia, where wealthy parents spend a fortune for their children on private education, bi-lingual  schooling, preparatory courses, private tutoring and extra-curricular activities, the thought of their child choosing any career other than those fields above is  unthinkable. After throwing down 100,000 USD on education, there better be a good job and paycheck waiting at the end.

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However, funneling so many kids into these fields will be disastrous. For the kids themselves, the vast majority will be disillusioned. The smorgasbord of jobs they fancy waiting for them will not be there. The jobs that are available will not be the super lucrative ones they imagined, and they will spend their lives working behind a desk, shuffling papers and selling their souls to a faceless and heartless corporation.

For the society and country in which they live, the consequences are even worse. Countries and economies need well-trained college graduates in a wide variety of fields. We need trained wildlife biologists, water resource managers, early childhood educators,  oceanographers, urban gardeners, astronomers, permaculture designers, urban planners, historians, artists, journalists, engineers, nurses, mechanics, and chefs. And poets.

We need to be honest with the kids and ourselves: bankers and marketers produce nothing for society. Actually, it’s worse than that. They literally suck the lifeblood from an economy, misdirecting people’s energy, money, and wealth. As an educator, I have seen far too often parents and teachers speaking from two sides of their mouths. First, we tell them, “follow your dreams.”  Then we turn around and not so subtly nudge them into these  careers in banking and marketing and turn them into little corporate drones, while telling them to “be practical.”

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There are ways to survive, and even thrive, in this world outside of the narrow paradigm of a university education geared toward a career in big business. But those ‘alternative’ methods require a lot of thinking outside the box, experimentation, risk, and some creativity, not to mention a lot of support from family and peers. Few teachers and relatives of our youth are equipped to guide them in another direction, and  choose the safe routes of recommending university education. Having traveled the conformist path themselves their whole life, they can hardly be expected to counsel kids to do otherwise.

There are numerous ways to work for oneself, and the age of the internet has opened up enormous opportunities for those with the courage, determination and energy to manifest their dream. As teachers and educators, we cannot simply tell kids to ‘follow their dreams’ and then turn around and walk away. We have to model it and give them practical know-how on how to do it. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gDW_Hj2K0wo

What happened to environmentalism?

The modern environmental movement is traced back to the publication of Rachel Carson’s seminal book Silent Spring in 1962 which gave impetus to  the budding ecology movement in the 1960s that culminated with the first ‘Earth Day’ on April 22, 1970.

Major ‘Earth Day’ remembrances and celebrations were held in 1990 and in 2000,  and smaller gatherings in many countries have been held annually thereafter.

springPrior to the big 20th anniversary event in 1990, I distinctly recall an excitement and sense of optimism amongst my progressive friends and acquaintances who were environmentally conscious. It appeared to us that the shift in consciousness that we had always hoped for was finally happening. Environmental destruction was finally getting the press and the attention that it deserved. At the health food store where I was working, we were phasing out all plastic bags and encouraging people to ‘bring your own bag.’ Taking advantage of the increased attention and momentum, we tried to make our little store as eco-friendly as possible. We imagined, or at least imagined, that within a decade plastic shopping bags would be a thing of the past, a relic of ignorant bygone era.

I can look back on my naiveté  during  that time with a certain amusement now. I had vastly overestimated the average person’s concern for the environment and had in a sense projected my own growing awareness onto the greater whole. Furthermore, in a war between environmental protection and the ever increasing needs of growing economies, the environment will always lose out. The capitalist corporate machine knows no boundaries.

In advanced first-world economies such as the United States and Western Europe,  where the educated class has been exposed to preservationist ideas, things such as littering out of the car window and burning your plastic trash in the yard are frowned upon and can even incur a hefty fine. In the developing world, it’s a different story altogether. Tossing your rubbish out of the car or bus window onto the roadside is normal and not seen as anything ‘bad.’ In South America, some roadsides I saw were heaped so high with garbage that you had to cover your nose when driving past. I remember once taking a bus through a beautiful, pristine mountain park in Ecuador, and the woman next to me casually threw her entire lunch, wrapped in numerous plastic bags, out the window into the wilderness.

Here in Southeast Asia, the ethic is the same. Outside of a few tourist areas, public trash bins are few and far between and people are raised and taught to ‘just toss it.’ The city governments hire thousands of street sweepers to keep the city free of rubbish, but a good amount of trash of course ends up getting washed into the waterways.

The deeper underlying issue is not whether or not the trash thrown onto the thoroughfares will get swept up and thrown away, but whether people can unlearn the dysfunctional habits they have  repeated  from a young age. When you venture into the countryside where there are no street sweepers, the ingrained habits manifest and people still toss it onto the ground, where the trash, if it doesn’t get washed into the rivers, will stay for millennia.

For developing countries such as Peru, Ecuador, Viet Nam, Indonesia and so many others, environmentalism is not a serious issue. It may be given occasional lip service by government ministers, but the name of the game is industrialization and ‘development’- at all costs. Build and develop now, clean up later. China is the poster child for this kind of thinking.  I’m afraid it’s already too late for many who live there, judging by recent news reports on the unbreathable air in many of its major cities.

This model of ‘clean up later’ filters down from the top to the bottom sectors of society. The populace of most developing countries, being uneducated and lacking any ecological perspective, is simply left to deal with the environmental crisis on their own. They are essentially abandoned by their governments who only want to see increasing GDP numbers. Incapable of organizing and  lobbying for laws for cleaner air, they simply don a primitive face mask in the hope of coping with effluent of industrial society.

And the plastic bags that I was so sure would be gone by now? They are more numerous than ever. The world loves plastic bags. Anything that I purchase, from a banana to a razor blade to a beer to a book, is handed to me in a plastic bag. I mostly refuse the bags, but my insignificant little act of eco-grooviness is pointless in the bigger picture. Nobody knows, let alone  cares, why I refuse plastic bags. The shopkeepers and clerks just shrug their shoulders and go about their business. I try to inform and educate whenever I can, especially to my students, but the level of enthusiasm for environmentalism is low.

I’m increasingly doubtful that environmentalism can ever gain any real traction in this world. In order for it to do so, a global consciousness shift would need to occur. Change must first happen in the mind before it can be manifested physically. I think Daniel Quinn pointed the way in his books, especially in Ishmael. As long as we continue to carry around the mindset that Earth is here to be conquered and for humans to use it at our pleasure, environmentalism will be but a pipe dream and a healthy planet only a memory.