Category Archives: Viet Nam

Chemtrails, Southeast Asia, 2017, the NY Times and a reality check

It appears that 2017 will bring not only a continuation, but a ramping-up of the chemtrail assault on our atmosphere. According to many skywatchers in the United States, the skies there are being sprayed in every state, nearly 24/7. Citizens of the great nation of the U.S.A. can no longer gaze upon a blue sky. The daily reality is now a horizon-to-horizon mass of whitish chemtrail goop. The chemtrail haze blocks out a significant percentage of sunlight reaching Earth and the effects of this will continue to be felt for humans as well as plant and animal life. These effects include, but are not limited to:  a decrease in vitamin d absorption for humans, decreased photosynthesis, stunted plant growth, tree death, increased rates of depression and fatigue, and a decrease in pineal gland activation in humans. 

The current situation in Southeast is only marginally better. We still occasionally get a chemtrail-free day with a blue sky. However, on a recent trip I had occasion to witness one horrific spraying episode above my head. I was able to snap some pretty good photographs of the aerial drone assault, complete with checkerboard patterns. The reptilian elites really love to laugh at us, don’t they?

I have in front of me the April 22nd edition of the New York Times, International Edition. The Times has been deconstructed and eviscerated by numerous intellectuals  for many decades, so it’s hardly worth commenting on. However, this copy literally fell onto my lap while I was eating lunch yesterday, so I gave it a glance. On the front page, there is an article with the headline ‘Is it O.K. to tweak nature to fight climate change?‘ The article is written by some corporate hack  named ‘Jon Gertner’, a Cornell boy who gets his articles and books published by Jew-owned N.Y. Times, Jew-owned Penguin, and Jew-owned Random House.

When the controllers wish to tell us, the people, what they are going to do in the near future, they typically will insert an obvious hint in television or movies. In conspiracy circles, we call this ‘predictive programming.’ But we haven’t yet invented a word or phrase to describe the action of telling us what they have been doing. Such is the case with articles like this.

I encourage my readers to juxtapose the photos below with the article to get a clear idea of the lengths that these people will go to in order to mock us. Gertner, along with the Harvard ‘scientist’ he interviews, David Keith, wants us to believe that geoengineering is just a ‘theory’, something that they ‘are studying’, and might put into application many years into the future. In fact, as anyone who bothers to look at the sky knows, geoengineering, aka chemtrailing, has been an ongoing project for at least the last 20 years, and possibly much longer. Either Gertner and Keith have never looked up from their desks at the sky, or they a just writing this piece out of boredom. The NY TImes is run out of Langley, and we know the CIA loves to have a laugh at our expense.

The article is also bizarre on another level. Gertner quotes Keith as saying that geoengineering is a crazy idea that could easily spin out of control and do more harm than good. Nevertheless, Keith is going to  research it anyway. Even if we take the entire article at face value, that  line of reasoning would qualify Keith as a sociopath, at the very least. As most scientists today fit into that category, that’s hardly news, but it’s worth noting.

 


The disappearance of adult music

When I was growing up in the ’60s, ’70s, and ’80s, there was a clear demarcation between youth music and adult music. On the radio dial, the stations which marketed themselves toward the younger demographic played pop, rock, disco, R & B, soul and heavy metal. Alternatively, the stations which had an older, more mature audience played mainly classical and jazz. Most major cities in the U.S.A. had stations which were devoted exclusively to these genres as recently as a couple of decades ago. Those stations are now extinct, or nearly extinct. Teenage pop music, rap, and hip hop have taken over those coveted bandwidths on the radio waves. The adult audience has been unceremoniously evicted from radio.

This dire situation is compounded by the fact that restaurants, coffeeshops and cafes have followed the lead of the radio stations. Only in the most high-end and five-star restaurants can one now listen to classical or traditional music. I live in a large Southeast Asian metropolis, and I go out to eat and drink frequently. I can say unequivocally that teen pop music, along with cover music, has completely taken over the ambience in eating and drinking establishments. It doesn’t matter which neighborhood, which cafe or which restaurant I’m in. It doesn’t matter if it’s a chain or independent establishment. It matters neither whether it is Eastern or Western food or if it caters to tourists or locals, rich or poor.  The music is always the same; shite pop music marketed to teens.

In shopping malls, gourmet markets, clothing stores, and convenience stores, it’s the same. Every time I open a door to walk inside ANY business, my ears are assaulted with the hideous, putrid garbage commonly known as ‘modern pop.’ Most of the time, the music is played at a loud volume. It is far beyond ‘background music.’ In other words, there is no escape. 

What’s particularly interesting about this phenomenon is how utterly unaware people are of it. Whenever I question random people about the music, they reply with answers such as: “Oh, I didn’t notice it,” or “It doesn’t bother me,” or “It’s ok.” When pressed further, they are unable to identify either the genre or the artist currently being  piped over the speakers. Apparently, it’s just some noise with a melody, but they don’t have a strong opinion about it either way.

At the moment, I’m sitting inside an extremely popular and hip coffeeshop chain during lunch hour. Approximately 25 percent of the clientele is over the age of 50 and half of the customers are at least 30 years of age. Yet none of them seem aware, let alone bothered by, the loud pop music wafting from the overhead speakers.

Here in Asia, Western music has completely  uprooted traditional music. However, despite the fact that Western music is now ubiquitous and that a large percentage of the youth is studying English, the locals  still can’t understand the lyrics of the songs. The convergence of the popularity of Western pop with the inability of the population to understand the lyrics creates bizarre and sometimes hilarious scenes. For example, the elderly who practice traditional Western dances such as the waltz in the park listen to a song where the singer croons about dumping his girlfriend whom he now despises. The oblivious couples think that they are listening to a ‘romantic’ song. The managers of fashionable clothing stores marketed to tourists play hip- hop songs from playlists downloaded from the internet. Last week, I was in such a store. This is what I heard from the speakers: “Hey motherfucker, whatcha gonna do? Fuck that shit, you can go fuck yourself, bitch….” And on and on. I pulled the young kid who was working on the floor aside and politely told him that perhaps this wasn’t the most appropriate music to be playing and nodded toward the families and kids nearby. He thought for a moment and said, “Yes, ok,” and wandered over to change the music.

What about the  European parents who were in the store at that time? Did they not mind the music? Did they find that music appropriate for their children? They too seemed oblivious. We find ourselves in a predicament now where all of us, regardless of our age or preferences, listen to kids’ music. The adults in the world have abdicated the radio airwaves and the wider soundscape in the public sphere without a fight or even a whimper of protest.

I have found only one man, in Britain, who at least is trying to do something. I can only pray that he can find some support. Here in Asia, the battle is lost. All I can do now is fight a defensive battle and pick and choose the places I frequent with extreme caution if I wish to protect my brain from being scrambled with what passes these days for ‘music.’

 

The Problem with textbooks

Few people outside of the field of education are aware of what has happened to the textbook industry. A small percentage of parents who take an active role in their children’s education have some idea, and perhaps some politicians who are involved  in education know a bit as well. While many in academia see the downward spiral of textbook quality, few are speaking out about it.

The trends in textbook publishing affect all levels of education, from preschool to postgraduate studies. Public and private schools, rich and poor, urban and rural, all draw from the same pool of textbooks. They have little choice in the matter; the textbook industry has gone through the same relentless wave of consolidation as almost every other industry over the past few decades.

The textbooks I am most familiar with are ESL (English as a second language) books since that is the subject I am currently teaching. However, I have looked closely at my students’ textbooks for their biology, physics, chemistry, history, and health classes, and I see the same design and content changes occurring everywhere.

First, the overall dumbing down of the texts is undeniable. One rarely encounters a word that requires  a dictionary to understand. In the secondary school texts, the lexical, grammatical, and syntactical level seems to be stuck at around the 6th grade. At the university level, it’s not much better.

Much of the content presented in modern textbooks is thinly disguised corporate propaganda. Textbook publishers are reluctant to divulge how much of textbook content is taken directly from corporate sources, but we can be sure it is substantial. Corporations are known to write entire and complete legislative bills which they hand to congress for approval.  Corporate lobbyists write speeches for politicians. Transnational corporations now control everything of value on the planet, so it follows that they are writing textbooks as well. Some of this corporate propaganda is subtle and woven into the content unobtrusively.  In some chapters, the propaganda is more blatant, such as when biology texts discuss GMOs. Monsanto definitely has its dirty hands in the education field.

Besides the obvious propaganda pushing GMOs , Darwinian evolution, quantum physics, and space exploration, there’s also the social engineering type of brainwashing. This includes the celebration of rampant consumerism, transgenderism, homosexuality, multiculturalism, hi-tech, celebrity culture, shopping, social media, and general superficiality. Parents who have not looked at an English textbook for 20 or 30 years would  be appalled at what they see. Nearly every page of the ESL text which I used for a recent course discussed one of those subjects. Consumerism and high-tech gadgets such as smartphones are especially popular topics for learning. The not-so-subtle message being taught to students, outside of the embedded grammar lesson, is this: The only meaning you can derive from life is through shopping, consumerism, acquisition, and the acceptance of a multicultural and inclusive world. The only pictures one sees on the pages are photos of models,  smiling and joyful in their sleek modern offices, making loads of money which they will spend in fancy restaurants and department stores.  Traditional families are absent. Pictures of rural life are nearly absent as well. The world is presented as one giant playground, basically. It’s filled with exciting and exotic cities which  you can visit on your next ‘holiday,’ and return home with giant shopping bags filled with the loot you collected overseas. Oh, the joys of being a yuppie! That, essentially, is the dream being sold. Everyone can be a rich yuppie, living in a high-rise in some ‘bustling’ metropolis.

Every page of modern textbooks must have a photo. On some pages, more than 50 percent of the total space is filled with photos. The people in the photos are utterly fake. Most of them are models. They looks about as real as a GMO tomato. They’re always smiling and laughing, of course. They’re always attractive. They always seem to be on holiday. They’re usually talking on their smartphones and striding confidently to their next high-powered business meeting.

Do these photos contribute anything to the lesson being taught? Do they enhance the subject matter or clarify important points? No, they do not, not in the least. They’re just filler. Publishers insert them because they claim that students will not look at a page filled only with text. Actually, the publishers are correct when they state this. I once gave my students a book to read. It had no pictures. They gasped audibly and complained loudly and bitterly to me. How could they possibly read a book with no pictures? It would be so boring….

We must ask, though, how our kids became so frightened and/or bored with a page of text. Television and computers deserve the bulk of the blame, but parents and educators have done too little to instill a love of reading to students. Education publishers help to create this problem, and then turn around and state that they are merely responding to market demand.

The hundreds or thousands of photos placed into a typical textbook today drives up the cost of the text enormously. The expensive and glossy paper on which the photos are placed is considerably more pricy that simple paper for text. Moreover, it’s not just lots of unnecessary, ugly, and fake photos that one sees on textbook pages. Graphic designers now play a role even more important than content writers. Every page must be a different color. Oh, yes. Pages must be multi-hued with flashy background themes. Black text on white background, white text on black background, green on black, blue on yellow-whatever. Every page must now resemble a website. Many pages are so repulsive to look at that I ignore them when working through a chapter. I don’t want my students to look at something so ugly and so manipulative.

Students coming up through the system today have no idea that textbooks used to be different. With their immaturity and lack of perspective, they naturally assume that things have always been this way. They are unaware that students used to read books with no pictures! And sometimes those books were hundreds of pages long, and filled with highly technical details.

In conclusion, I regard modern textbooks as abominations. They are filled to overflowing with shameless propaganda, touting GMOs and transhumanism, among other things. Their slick and glossy pages, designed by well-paid graphic designers, are all about style, not substance. Content has now receded into the background. Actual text now coves less than half of most pages and the lessons are presented in small doses so as not to stretch students’ minds too much.

 

 

The absolute horror of cover music.

When I was growing up in the 70s and 80s, I was familiar with cover bands. These were what we called ‘garage bands,’ a group of guys who enjoyed occasionally getting together to perform gigs at parties or special events for friends. The band members were proficient enough on their instruments to learn popular songs and play them well, but they weren’t songwriters. Some cover/garage bands were better than others. The best ones spent a lot of time rehearsing and could play a cover song with real gusto and flair. My brothers had cover bands play at their weddings,  and they put on great shows.

There is certainly nothing inherently wrong with a band playing and singing the music of other bands. If people don’t have the opportunity or the money to see their favorite band perform live, then seeing a cover band play those songs at a show can be a satisfying alternative.  I have had many enjoyable evenings listening and dancing to cover bands.

However, in the last couple of decades, an entire industry has been created to record and market cover music. This industry has nothing to do with weekend garage bands. Like all big industries, it is all about money- big money. The epicenter of the cover music industry is in Asia, where people are absolutely infatuated  over cover music. How and why this came to be I have no idea. Cover music is now so ingrained in the culture of Asia that it’s almost become part of the scenery.

I know this because I often visit restaurants, coffee shops, lounges, and bars,  and cover music is played in the majority of these establishments. Managers arrive in the morning, press ‘play’ on the computer screen where there is a ten-hour long playlist of cover songs and then forget about the music for the rest of the day.

Cover music, specifically the recored playlists which are widely played in eating and drinking venues, is an abomination, for many reasons. People, particularly Asians, need to wake up to this fact and demand to hear real music again.

First, the songs which are covered are all from English-speaking bands, usually from the United States and England. Most of the people in Asia listening to this music have not the slightest idea what the songs are about. The lyrics are unintelligible to them. Even locals who have a moderate grasp of English can’t understand the vast majority of songs which are played on the sound systems at their jobs. Even worse, they don’t even try to understand the words. The music, being played all day, every day, just becomes background noise, something that is not worth paying attention to.

Second, the young Asian crowds listening to the songs are wholly unfamiliar with the original songs. They know they’re listening to cover songs, but haven’t a clue who wrote the song in the first place. And they couldn’t care less. They don’t know that the original song was sung nothing like the cover version and had a completely different feeling to it.

Third , the bands whose songs are being covered, recorded, and marketed are not given their rightful  share of royalties. The musicians who wrote the songs don’t have the time, money, or energy to travel around the world with lawyers and try to rein in the huge and ever-growing cover music industry. Intellectual property rights, contracts, and royalties are not the concern of customers who sit and listen to cover music for hours on end in coffee shops in Seoul, Tokyo, and Saigon.

Next, the songs are all covered and sung by young women who change the tempo and feeling of the songs. You see, in Asia, they love what is called ‘relaxing’ music. Music in Asia is seen as  something which should calm the nerves after being out in traffic all afternoon. This is the main reason why Kenny G is a god-like figure throughout Asia. So, in the cover music factory, probably located somewhere in the suburbs of Tokyo or Seoul, the female singers take the songs and sing them in a mellow and ‘soft jazz’ kind of style. Now, that might work for some songs, but the cover music managers have their singers do this for all songs. I’ve been in Asia long enough now to realize that probably every Billboard Top 100 song from 1965 to the present day has been covered, recorded, and sold.  I used to think that they just preferred to cover the ‘soft rock’ hits from the 70s and 80s, like the Carpenters and Terry Jacks, but now I’ve heard nearly every genre covered.

For example, I recently heard the famous hit from The Police, ‘Every Breath You Take,’ being played as a cover song in a Japanese restaurant which I frequent. That song was always creepy; after all, it’s about a stalker. Sting sang it with just the right amount of menace in his voice to make it work. However, in the Asian cover version, the female crooner turns the song inside out and tries to make it into a mellow  love song! “Hey, I’ll be watching you, la-la-la.”

Recently, I’ve been hearing a lot of Bob Marley’s songs on cover playlists. The gourmet market where I shop has been playing this list frequently in the last month. It is bizarre to hear some young Asian female singing “I remember when we used to sit….in the government yard in Trenchtown.” (From Marley’s famous song ‘No Woman No Cry.’) That woman singing the song probably couldn’t even find Jamaica on a map. It was always bad enough to hear cover songs from the Carpenters, but now they’re covering Reggae and Grunge music!

Herein lies the rub: these companies pumping out cover versions of famous songs can copy the melody and the lyrics, but they can never duplicate or replicate the feeling or the soul of the song. They know this, and they don’t even try. They slow the beat down on every song and just tell the girl to sing it like it’s a lounge song. It simply doesn’t matter if the original feeling of the song is obliterated in the process. The cover music  industry managers do this to every song. Hell, I recently heard ‘Come as You Are’ the famous song from Nirvana played on a cover playlist. It’s not a very good song; it’s completely nonsensical  and the only reason it had success was Cobain’s hoarse and edgy voice and the thumping bass line.

I’ve asked various people over the last few years, both customers and restaurant managers, why they were playing and listening to cover music. After all, since the original versions of the songs are available, for free on the internet, why not just play the originals? Why listen to a 20-year-old Korean girl sing ‘No Woman No Cry’ when you can just play the entire ‘Exodus’ album from YouTube and hear Bob Marley sing it? I’ve never gotten a clear answer. The customers don’t pay any attention to what’s playing, and the managers always say something like, “Well, we like cover music. Her voice is so good. It’s so relaxing. The customers like it.” Or, “My boss likes this kind of music.”

It appears that cover music has taken over Asia. Not only are the original songs being lost, but the indigenous music of Asia has receded so far into the background that it, too, risks going extinct. I protest as much as I can, but I’m just one person. Unless people demand an end to this nonsense, this is what we will be living with in our future: Soul-less, corporate junk music which will continue to lobotomize the public into a permanent zombie state.

 

 

 

 

 

My problem(s) with British English

I don’t like British English. Only in the last couple of years did I realize this. I was born and raised in the United States and wasn’t exposed to much British English during my time there; besides watching the occasional Monty Python movie, BBC documentary or BBC newscast, I heard and read little of it.

However, my circumstances have changed. I am currently  teaching English as a second language in Southeast Asia, and my daily exposure to British English has caused me to form some strong opinions about it. This exposure comes in two forms: 1) the local media and 2) the British  ESL textbooks which most, if not all, language centers in Asia use.

The various print media in Asia , including newspapers and magazines, are always written using British spelling and the British lexicon. The ESL textbooks are often printed by Cambridge or Oxford University Presses. If not, they are  printed by  giant publishing houses such as MacMillan (British) and Pearson PLC (British).

Journalists and writers working in Asia use, presumbably, the Oxford Style Manual when composing their articles. They certainly are not using the Associated Press Stylebook or the New York Times Manual of Style and Usage. Hence, when I am perusing the daily newspapers in Saigon, Phnom Penh, or Bangkok, I always read about ‘labour’ disputes, ‘tonnes’ of rice, and ‘programmes.’

This, then,  is my first major complaint with British English: the spelling. Why do the Brits insist on doing stupid things like adding unnecessary letters to words? Program is just fine as it is. It does not require or need an extra m or e to make it more official sounding. It’s the same situation with ton. T-O-N. It’s simple, direct, and to-the-point. Yet, the Brits want to glop on an n and an e to this word as well. And what is with the equally irritating habit of inserting unnecessary u’s into otherwise functional words such as labor, color, neighbor, and favor? I once had a British colleague here tell me that the extra u ‘softened’ the words. Give me a break.

The list of British English words that are spelled nonsensically is too long to list here. However, it should be noted that it is, indeed, a long list. Why spell complection as complexion? That just looks wrong. Where else do we put an ‘x’ into the middle of a word like that?

The British take logically spelled words like center, fiber, theater and liter and insist on transposing the e and r which makes them look retarded. Last week, I came across one of those glossy travel mags that are often left lying around in 4- and 5-star resorts. It was titled ‘Traveller.’ I had to blink to make sure I was reading it correctly. My first thought was, “Is that possibly a typo?” I mean, that’s not how traveler is spelled. But then the idea hit me: “Is that some stupid alternative British spelling?” I looked it up online and sure enough, adding an extra ‘l’ to words like that is standard practice in the British Isles. Thanks, Oxford and Cambridge.

It gets worse. Words like maneuver and estrogen are bludgeoned  with extra o’s in Brit-land. Just look at this word: manoeuvre. Does that look correct? Yes, I know we stole that one from the French, but we are using English, so let’s use the spelling that makes the most sense and reflects how we pronounce it.

British slang words and phrases are equally tiresome. This too is a long list. Let’s begin with one of the worst- knickers. Does that word conjure an image of something colorful, silky, and sexy under a woman’s skirt? No, not at all. The word panty however does conjure that image. Score one for the Americans.

A Brit might say, “What about the word herb? You Americans, for no logical reason, don’t pronounce the h while we do. Now who’s the silly one?”   It’s a fair observation, but I’m inclined to think the hippies (American)  had a hand in this one. You see, hippies have for a long time used herb as a synonym for marijuana. Every day at 4:20 p.m., they sit down and say, “It’s time to smoke some herb (silent h).  Any hippie will tell you that word rolls off the tongue  so much more smoothly when the hard h is dropped. ‘Erb’ just sounds sexier than Herb. So even here, Americans have been on the right track.

If you live in a room, or group of rooms, inside a building, then you live in an apartment. It’s not a ‘flat.’ That word is properly used to mean ‘level.’ If I am interested in something, then I am, well, interested in it. I am most certainly not keen on it. If I am really interested, then I might say that I am excited about it.

When I was growing up, the word brilliant always meant ‘having or showing great intelligence.’ However, it seems that over the decades more and more meanings have been attached to this overused word, thanks to our British friends who love to use it like confetti: a brilliant goal, a brilliant show, etc. In these circumstances, there’s always a better, more precise word to use in the context, if they would but try.

The loathsome recent trend of saying ‘sorry’ whenever ‘excuse me’ used to suffice must have been started in Great Britain. There’s no way brusque and direct Americans would initiate such a tortured  assault on meaning. Hell, they’re even teaching this now in textbooks!  Seriously. Chapters that teach phone manners, social gatherings and such state that when you interrupt, ask directions, or bump into somebody, you should say ‘sorry’ instead of ‘excuse me.’

Hey Brits, percent is one word, not two. It’s a synonym for percentage, you know. I don’t care if the dictionary says that both spellings are acceptable. The American usage is better and more commonsensical, as usual. And finally, the woman who gave birth to you is your Mom, not your Mum.  Listen to a baby calling for his mama. It sounds like MOM-A, never like MUM-A.  Let’s keep the word Mum with its proper meaning- silent.

 

 

 

Buddhism is lost and hopelessly corrupt

If you go to the bookstore and browse through the section on Buddhism, you will find numerous books discussing the Buddha’s teachings, or the ‘dharma.’ You will see commentaries on the Diamond Sutra, the Lotus Sutra and other famous Buddhist works. You will also notice  various histories of Buddhism and its spread through Asia and now through the West. But you probably won’t find any books discussing Buddhism today; you won’t come across any books written about how Buddhism functions in day- to- day life in Asia.

I find that interesting and the subject is one that should be investigated by someone with knowledge of Buddhism,  East Asian cultures, history, and language. I’ve been living in Southeast Asia for almost three years now and Buddhism is in the news frequently, though not for good reasons. Indeed, whenever I see a story in the local news with the word ‘monk’ or ‘temple’ in the headline, I know I am going to be reading about a scandal.

The scandals usually involve a monk being caught doing something not very ‘monk-like’, such as being the first in line to buy a new Iphone,  driving around in fancy cars with 300 dollar sunglasses or having sex with students.  In the age of the smartphone camera and youtube, monks are being caught doing this stuff with more and more regularity. In the old days, they didn’t have to worry as much about being exposed.

Growing up in the West and being reared in a Christian household, I developed a rather cynical attitude toward religion at a young age. As I got older and read more deeply into the history of the Catholic Church with the Inquisition, the witch burnings, the genocide of Native Americans and the rest, my cynicism only grew. Like many young spiritual seekers, I imagined Eastern religions to be somehow less tainted than Christianity. Certainly, there are no comparable stories of Buddhists burning ‘heretics’ at the stake, or Hindus marching across foreign lands with invading armies trying to convert  non-believers.

Yet, the longer I am in Asia, the less pronounced the differences appear to me between Eastern and Western religions and Buddhism is just as tainted with corruption as any other organization, religious or otherwise. Despite their obvious doctrinal differences, all religions appear to function at a basic level of control. In the West, Christianity has always been used to control and manipulate the masses. In the East, Buddhism performs that role.

Buddhism is classified as  a ‘religion.’ It is considered one of the world’s ‘major religions.’ When people fill out census forms, they are given the choice to check the ‘Buddhist’ box under religion. Yet, any Buddhist monk, religious studies professor or anyone who has simply studied Buddhism for just a few hours will tell you that it is most definitely NOT a religion, at least not in the way scholars have typically defined the term. There are no gods or goddesses to worship, no elaborate rituals, no angels. Buddhism is a way of understanding the world and human suffering. It offers a precise psychological method and system for training the mind through meditation to escape suffering. So, Buddhism has been around for 2,500 years and its practitioners are still calling it a ‘religion’ when they know better. What’s the reason?  Here’s my guess: a religion attracts adherents and followers. A ‘meditative system’ or a ‘teaching of the causes of human suffering’ doesn’t sound as important. People need  a religion. It makes them feel good.

Classifying your organization as a religion also has numerous other benefits, mostly financial. Churches pay NO taxes. I am not as familiar with how Buddhist temples operate in Asian countries, but I strongly suspect they play the religion card to avoid taxes and raise money in the same way that Christian churches do in the West.

Well, the temples must be doing something right in the money game they are playing because they are indeed rich. Don’t be fooled by the shaven-headed monk in orange robes you see on the street with his begging bowl. That’s just for show. He is not an accurate representation of how much money these temples really have. How do the temples get the money to buy so much valuable real estate on which to construct their ostentatious structures? Where does the money to build solid gold Buddhas and golden domes come from? Where did that monk get the money to buy a brand new iPhone 5? The answer is, of course, from the poor people who willingly donate their hard-earned money to the temples, in exchange for ‘blessings’ from the monks. It’s a scam.

Buddhism is a huge business in Asia, especially in Southeast Asia. There are hundreds of thousands of temples sitting on prime land and collecting money to build ever grander Buddhist statues and domes. Many of the temples simply whore themselves out to tourists, selling tacky souvenirs and allowing vendors within the temple walls. Many have neon lights, fluorescent lights and televisions. They resemble amusement parks more than they do temples.

I wonder how many Buddhist statues are made in factories every year and sold to tourists? Millions? If all that is not vulgar enough, what’s really depressing is that the Buddha shouldn’t even be worshipped. Buddhists should not be placing Buddha statues on their altars to pray to. The Buddha stated clearly, “I am not a god. I’m just a normal man like yourselves  who discovered some fundamental truths about the human condition.” However, so strong is the human disposition to deify our heroes that we’ve made him into a god. Again, the abbots and monks know this, yet they allow the commoners to come to their temples, prostrate themselves, burn incense, and pray to the Buddha. I’ve read a number of interviews with monks who try to explain away why they allow this, and it’s hilarious to see the logical  and verbal contortions they wrap themselves in to justify their actions. If you read carefully between the lines, what they’re really saying is this: ‘the poor and the peasants  are simpletons. They don’t know any better. They either can’t or don’t read and will never understand the inner, deeper teachings of Buddhism. So, we give them something to worship, tell them to lead a pure life and send them on their way. ‘ But not before taking some of their money, of course. It’s a rather cynical stance, would’t you say?

The fact that Buddhism has been able to penetrate so deeply into so many different Asian cultures shows that it has great flexibility and adaptability. But I submit that while many will say this is one of its strengths, it  really demonstrates that Buddhism has a weak foundation. Notice how easily Buddhism has rolled with modernity. Smart phones and other electronic gizmos, neon lights, television, whatever. Buddhism absorbs it all and tells its followers that they can be a consumerist, a capitalist, a communist -even a Christian or Muslim!- and still be a Buddhist. In reality, it demands little from its adherents. In contrast to this, we can point to Islam where the imams at least  have strong criticisms of modernity and urge their followers to hold onto tradition.

I was in Singapore recently and I bumped into a young monk at a museum. He was strolling around taking selfies with his nice camera and selfie stick. Huh? What do they teach in the temples these days? Isn’t there anything about letting go of the ego and moving our concentration away from egoic concerns?

Buddhism has also tried to attach itself to various movements over the years in a desperate attempt to stay relevant. For example, in the  1990s, there was a push by various Buddhist leaders to claim that Buddhism was really a ‘nature religion.’ You know, eco-groovy. They found some obscure quotations by the Buddha saying we should all love the animals or something, and voila! Seriously. Go back and look through back issues of Tricycle magazine from the 1990s.

Some might say that countries with a strong Buddhist influence are more peaceful and the people more gentle. Is that really the case? Thailand is 95 percent Buddhist and many young boys go through a period of training in temples. Are the Thai people generally more honest, moral, and peaceful than anyone else? Look at the amount of corruption and criminal gang activity throughout the country and you will have your answer. Thailand is currently being ruled by a military junta. The Buddhist leaders in Thailand don’t seem to have a problem with that. Of course they don’t want to step on many toes, as they might have some privileges stripped.

Some argue that Buddhism, with its emphasis on the acceptance of suffering, is a perfect religion to keep the poor and downtrodden in their place and was set up for just that purpose. I don’t know. It’s possible. The Buddha said, “Life is Suffering.” If you take that to heart and don’t go beyond it to analyze the subtleties of the teachings, you might interpret it to mean, ‘Don’t protest. Accept my oppression.’

The bottom line is that you don’t need the ‘religion’ of Buddhism to study the dharma. All you need is a copy of the Diamond Sutra, some determination, and perhaps a few companions to share your discoveries with when you practice meditation. The monks don’t have any magical powers. Many are outright charlatans are many more are corrupt.

 

Dissecting more techno cheerleaders in the media. Case study: the iPad in classrooms

For writers, bloggers  and so-called journalists working in the media today, playing to the prejudices of their readers is part of their job. This is especially true for journalists and columnists who write about technology. When your readership consists of people who own a smartphone (or two), a tablet, and a laptop, reminding them that they are ‘cool,’  and ‘cutting edge’ will earn you a loyal following.

Let’s examine a recent article from the same glossy magazine which we looked at in my previous article. The author is a grade 2 homeroom teacher at a well-known international school in Ho Chi Minh City. The article is only six paragraphs long. The editors could have made it longer but chose to use one third of the page to post a color photo of a seven-year-old girl with a huge smile on her face holding an Ipad. We haven’t even gotten to the first sentence and already we know what direction the article is going to take. The upper right hand corner of the page has a professional photo of the author, an attractive woman in her 20s with perfect teeth who is smiling broadly. We, the readers, have been set up nicely to drink the  kool-aid which is being served.

The title of the article is “Techie Students- How tablets have enhanced learning.” The author wastes no time establishing her thesis which she posits clearly in the first sentence, stating…”using iPads in the classroom has been ideal for promoting new ways of learning.” Hmm,’promoting new ways of learning.’ That’s a big statement. She claims that the iPad is not just a tool which can be used in addition to books, but that it helps us learn in new ways.  If she means that all the lessons can now be given on the computer with bright flashing graphics, cartoon characters, and games, than I guess that qualifies.

The following sentence reads like an advertisement from Apple: “The iPad is a perfect digital tool for our young learners because it’s small, portable, visual, and hands-on..” Hey, this woman could be a sales rep. The author goes on to say that she avoids using it as a form of entertainment but rather as a way to empower her students to channel their interests and for ‘discovery, creation and collaborative learning.’ That’s wonderful, but can’t all of those things be done just as well without iPads or computers? Can’t you ‘discover’ things in books? Do you need a computer to create something beautiful and meaningful? All you need to create is a pencil and piece of paper. Or a canvas and paintbrushes. Or an instrument.

It gets worse. The author claims that ‘the tablets are excellent for developing research skills.’ No, they aren’t. Tablets do not develop research skills. I also work with ‘young learners’ and I can tell you that their research skills are generally very deficient, in spite of the fact that they spend hours per day on computers. Punching in a search term on google does not qualify as ‘research skills.’ Here’s how most students today do ‘research’ : They enter a term on google. They quickly choose either the first or second entry that appears on the screen, rarely even scrolling to the bottom of the page and practically never going beyond page one of search results. They don’t know how to distinguish between different sources and none of them understand that wikipedia is  fallible and biased.

Checking their Facebook in lecture hall:

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I’m only on the third paragraph but the writer’s insipid line of reasoning and her ‘rah-rah’ cheerleading for the the techno-school has left me somewhere between complete boredom and frustration. Check out this line: “Less cumbersome and more effective than dictionaries, we often use google translate or google images when coming across unknown words or concepts.” Is she kidding? A dictionary is ‘cumbersome?’ Actually, looking up words in dictionaries utilizes ancillary skills and often will lead students to other unfamiliar words as they are flipping through the pages. Punching in a word on google requires you to use far less of your brain  than looking it up in a dictionary, but this clueless teacher is so caught up in her flashing lights of her screens that she can’t see that. And Google Translate? If this teacher has really  used it, then she must know that the translations between languages are often horribly wrong. She’s teaching her students that google is God. She claims that she is ’empowering’ them, when what she is really doing is making them into little robotic consumers of digital garbage.

The author claims her grade 2 students are becoming ‘independent in their learning.’ Wow. I’ve read somewhere that Mozart was independent in his learning when he was seven years old, but that’s the only example I can think of. What does this woman think her students are going to do when teacher is not around? Do research on the causes of the French Revolution? No. They will play computer games or go into Facebook. Surely she knows that and we the readers know that, but she thinks her audience is so stupid that she can throw out this drivel and nobody will call her on it.

Who needs books?

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Techno teacher then tells us that she has her students make movies during class time using iMovie. The students even made a zombie movie! Yippee! After hyping iMovie, she then goes on to hype another app, this one called ‘Comic Life.’ You can guess where this is all leading.

This article is about as one-sided as you can get. It, and so many similar articles in the media, pitch the argument that ‘technology is great.’ Also, ‘technology enhances learning.’ And most of all, ‘technology empowers people.’

Since most parents today buy their young children smart phones and tablets by the time they are able to walk, the author is simply cozying up to them and telling them that they are doing the right thing. Furthermore, the school is staying at the cutting edge by ‘utilizing the latest technology in the classroom.’  Digital content and techno learning has not made us any smarter and never will. I suggest the author obtain a copy of “The Dumbest Generation” by  Mark Bauerlein and carefully read it before she writes any more articles.

 

 

Adidas goes all out with neon.

My running shoes are nearing the end of their useful life and so last week I wandered into an Adidas store to browse the selection. To my dismay,  athletic shoes, at least those made by Adidas,  have undergone a drastic style makeover from just a year ago. Whereas previously, the tacky neon styles were reserved mostly for kids and a few pseudo-artsy types, now almost every athletic shoe had neon stripes. Some styles had neon stripes and shoelaces. Some, just the shoelaces. For many, the entire shoe was spray-painted neon.

For adults like me who have no need or desire to dress like a child or appear cool, we are simply SOL. Adidas no longer cares to make shoes for grown-ups. It wants to dress everyone like a child. To try to  examine this phenomenon from an isolated viewpoint would be an exercise in frustration. It doesn’t make any sense. Why would Adidas try to alienate a large segment of their consumer base? Yet if we step back and look at their broader cultural trends of the last ten to twenty years, this marketing decision makes all the sense in the world.

The vast program of social engineering being orchestrated by the CIA, Tavistock Institute, Hollywood, and of course advertising agencies, has been trying to infantilize the population, especially adult males. It’s sad to say, but the average adult male today has the  emotional and intellectual maturity of 13-year-old. And that’s exactly the way they want it. Dressed in children’s clothing, playing video games all day and speaking with a pre-teen’s vocabulary, adults are now ‘adult’ in name only. They may have the physical bodies of 30-. 40-, 50-, or 60- year olds, but they are content to exist in the inner (and outer) world of a teenager.

It’s beyond me how any self-respecting adult could walk around in these fluorescent shoes. Do they want to dress exactly like their children? The old saying “Who wears the pants in the house?” had a meaning behind it. The adult male figure in the household wore pants while the children wore shorter trousers and this was symbolic. Now of course those symbolic markers have been obliterated. Neon shoes are only one example of this trend and we could add dozens more. Professional sports team jerseys, bling, ill-fitting pants, and just about anything related to hip-hop fashion fall into this category.

In the meantime, I will continue my search for shoes that don’t glow in the dark and look like they were fished out of a nuclear waste dump.

 

The vaccination war has begun

The recent story concerning kids at Disneyland who contracted measles is confirmation that we are now in the midst of a global war between two opposing camps. One one side we have the WHO, the CDC, the AMA, the entire allopathic medical industry, the Gates Foundation, most governmental health ministries, the brainwashed masses  and of course the corporate media. On the other side, we have freedom loving individuals who have educated themselves about vaccines and who dare to claim ownership over their own bodies.

The Disneyland story can only be viewed within this larger context of the war to determine whether we, as sovereign individuals,have the right to  determine what we put into our bodies and whether governments can violate that right in the name of ‘public safety and welfare.’ If you care to see just how confused the average person is over this simple issue, simply ask him, “Do you own your body?” Just a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’  answer will suffice. Watch how many people struggle over this and stumble through an answer. If they don’t  respond with a resounding “Hell yes!” then you know you are talking to a someone who has been conditioned to a hitherto unimaginable extent.

The anti-vaccintion campaign- I would not yet call it a movement- is making strides. Through the internet,  more and more people are becoming educated on the issue. They are reading the reports on links to autism and a host of other diseases, including AIDS. They are reading what’s actually in the vaccines. They are reading reports of deaths and crippling permanent injuries.  And slowly but steadily, people are fighting back. They are refusing vaccinations for themselves and for their children.

But TPTB (the powers that be) are fighting back, just as we knew they would. This ridiculous non-story about kids and measles in Disneyland is only the beginning. Expect to see many, many more such stories in the months and years ahead. We will see a non-stop campaign of fear mongering, disinformation, lies, obfuscation, and deceit. H1N1. Avian flu, swine flu, measles, polio, ebola……the list is endless. And they will add a new disease every year. The new ‘disease’ will be hyped in the corporate press, the fear mongering will go into overdrive, actors will be hired (check out the crisis actors who supposedly had ‘ebola’ in Africa)  and finally the solution will be rolled out in the form of- you got it- a vaccine.

Anybody with a lick of common sense could see right through the silly Disneyland story. Even before any facts had been uncovered, such as how many of those kids had been vaccinated with the MMR vaccine, journalists and the gullible public were screaming hysterically. Predictably, and on-cue, many were quoted as saying, “It’s the fault of parents who didn’t vaccinate their children!”  Never mind that measles is a benign disease which hardly ever kills anyone. Never mind that all of our grandparents had it and got through it just fine. Never mind that just a couple generations ago, parents would purposely have their kids contract measles by placing them near a child who had it, thereby gaining immunity.  Fear, emotion, and knee-jerk reactions have replaced reason, analysis, and facts.

 

 

 

 

Shooting down the ‘Fear the Sun’ psy-op

Of all the sinister psy-ops inflicted on the hapless and ignorant masses over the last century, one of the most evil is ‘the sun causes cancer’ campaign. The ability of the NWO minions to get the population to believe almost anything is truly breathtaking.  Our sun, the giver and sustainer of all life on this planet, the source of most ancient religions, the bringer of warmth and light , has been deftly turned into something to be feared and avoided. How remarkable is that?

People have now been trained to robotically repeat catch phrases like ‘UV radiation’,  ‘SPF 15’, ‘increased risk of skin cancer’ and so on. Go to any  popular beach on a sunny summer day and witness thousands of sheeple dutifully slathering themselves head to toe in gooey layers of toxic chemicals, popularly known as ‘sunscreen.’ These lotions, produced by mega transnationals and endorsed by organizations such as the CDC and the AMA, are sold by the tens of millions. The sunbathers  pat themselves on the back for doing the right thing and taking proper precautions.

Mmmm, jar o’ chemicals:

 

Coppertone-Sunscreen

Interestingly, I currently live in a country where this fear and loathing of the sun has been taken to extremes.  Many Asian cultures, including Viet Nam, have a complicated relationship to the sun and tanned or dark skin. Historically, because the poor classes and farmers had to work outdoors, dark skin became associated with poverty and ignorance. Conversely, light skin was associated with the upper classes, wealth, and a life of leisure. To this day, many Vietnamese, especially women, will go to great lengths to keep their skin as white and pale as possible. They avoid the sun at all costs and sometimes even try to augment their whiteness with creams, lotions or even surgery. Watching Vietnamese women covering themselves from head to toe when venturing outside on a motorbike is an experience. Most of the women I know here laugh good naturedly when I tease them about this and reply, “I know. We look like ninjas, right?”

 

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Actually, they look more like a technician wearing a hazardous material (Hazmat) suit venturing into nuclear waste site. Even when it is 40 degrees celsius outside, the women wear gloves, thick socks, thick sweaters, hoods, and face masks to make sure that not even one square centimeter of their body is exposed to the sun. When queried, they reply with a series of responses both cultural and pseudo-scientific:  “Sun is not good for you!  UV radiation is dangerous! I don’t want my skin to be black!”

When I tell my students that sunlight is actually good for you, they look at me with extreme skepticism, and sometimes downright hostility, as if I am trying to pull a fast one on them. Even when I show studies detailing the importance of vitamin D, and its crucial role in preventing a wide variety of diseases, they are not convinced.

 

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The fact is, mainstream science has not produced any convincing evidence linking sunlight exposure to skin cancer. What they have managed to do produce is a massive fear campaign, coupled with disinformation and bad science. Hundreds of millions of people are now crippling themselves with a double whammy: reducing their intake of crucial vitamin D and absorbing carcinogenic toxic chemicals contained in the sunscreens. Chemicals produced in some factory are never good for humans, in any form, whether inhaled, injected, swallowed, drunk or rubbed onto the skin.

 

Sunlight does not cause skin cancer