As The World Burns: The History of Victory – 6/1/2010

History is the story of people. It’s how the present connects with the past. It allows us to understand who we are and how our values were established. Yet, the story has been tainted in the classroom with some of the greatest lies that have been passed as truths.

Traditionally that lie has been the story of how victors of a conflict bragged about how the “inferior and pathetic” opposition was defeated. In academics, that lie has shifted so the history we learn does not offend certain interest groups, while reversing the significance of events and demonizing the story of conquest.

Such is the case regarding the Texas Board of Education and its plan of rewriting history textbooks to have a more conservative slant. You already know this can’t be good.

Among the changes include removing the influence of Thomas Jefferson, downplaying the civil rights movement and ignoring the influence of different ethnic communities.

The most obvious revision regarding the Civil War is ignoring the cruelty of slavery while glorifying the Confederate struggle and portraying the leaders as heroic, who became the victims of “Northern aggression.”

This is the perfect example of why history should always be written by the victors. For the descendents of the subjected to twist the text and change the story is obscene. Sadly, this is just one of many examples of how history has been twisted to tell a fairytale.

Remember being taught in school that early civilization believed the world was flat until Christopher Columbus sailed the ocean blue in 1492.

It’s because of these repetitive lies that I have refused to accept an instructor’s viewpoint on history since my freshman year of high school. Now I learn about history from books, The History Channel, The Military Channel, Wikipedia (I am also a contributor), movies and video games.

In fact, I consider playing “Call of Duty” a better source to learn about World War II than a history instructor, since it has no political bias or any fluff to be politically correct.

In this digital age where wisdom is at our disposal, it feels like the concept of a history instructor is obsolete with corruption. The history according to the Texas Board of Education is all the proof one needs to learn the truth on his or her own or sit back and watch the world burn.

Published for La Voz Weekly
6/1/2010
Original Link: As The World Burns: The History of Victory

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As The World Burns: The DASB Drama Pt. 2 – 5/14/2010

The De Anza Associated Student Body election may be over, but the clash of conflicts is about to begin. Two factions will be fighting for power and control of a million dollar budget in the weeks to come. Regardless of the result, it will be the students who will lose out.

With the voting being done online only, this election catered to the needs of a small minority. Unless you’re a student who has been active on campus, it’s difficult to know what is going on.

For the average student, this is an issue of great concern, since that million dollar budget is supported by the nickels and dimes in our pockets. It’s also more devious that we could have opted out during registration, had we been aware. Hence, we have been conned into funding this elite club in which we have little say.

Sure, members of the DASB are elected officials of a democratic process, but it’s only democratic in the loosest definition possible. Besides only a few people participating in voting, candidates face the penalty of losing votes based on the most trivial infractions at the grievance meetings.

This committee, which is responsible for deciding if coalitions violated election rules, composed of current DASB officials who have their own special interests to protect. There are no third-party officials who could have an open mind to the hearing – just friends trying to protect friends.

Let’s recap: an elite club enters power, based on the votes of a few, while the majority (who pay for the fun) are unaware of the issue, while any opposition is suppressed by a committee with members who have something to gain. Obviously, there needs to be an overhaul of the system.

First, the senate needs a stronger check and balance system that gives more power to the students. An upper house needs to be set up where its members consist of average students. This “house of students” will be responsible to vote on measures proposed by the elected Senate.

The “house of students” could be a political science class with members serving for one quarter as a requirement for passing. Like how intercultural studies introduces worldly culture to students, this “house of students” class will do the same for civic participation.

Second, the election system needs to be reformed where ethics violations are punishable by disqualification before voting. The committee responsible for it should consist of student and administration, with all decisions requiring a majority vote.

Let us stop lying to ourselves that our student government is a democracy. If needed reform is not enacted, then students are taught that unethical actions like gerrymandering are acceptable. In the end, we could just grow up to see our world burn.

Published for La Voz Weekly
5/14/2010
Original Link: As The World Burns: The DASB Drama Pt. 2

As The World Burns: The DASB Drama Pt. 1 – 5/10/2010

It’s election season. Unfortunately, I will not be giving my expertise on the 2010 California election, but instead the upcoming De Anza Associated Student Body election.

It’s hard to be oblivious about the election, since candidates have littered the campus with posters hoping get to everyone’s attention, only to attract a smaller minority than registered republicans at UC Berkeley.

The real fun will come during the grievance meetings, where candidates will put on a comedy show of petty feuds. Good luck sitting through it without giggling.

Why is this the status quo? One would assume a collection of colleagues who gather to serve the needs of the students could solve their disputes in a civilized manner. But if conflict did arise, it would all have ended by hugging it out, Ari Gold style.

The root of the problem is the conflict of egos. Unlike other colleges, where the student government is dominated by the free thinking versus preps of the bourgeoise, in the student senate it’s a battle between the activists versus the opportunists.

The activists are those who have worked with student organizations like Students for Justice or W.I.S.E. 37 – don’t take their dedication for granted. The opportunists, however, are a coalition of overachievers who want to add some extracurricular activity to their college resumes.

Just how bad is this conflict? Last quarter, the opportunists colluded to solidify their power with an attempted political coup. These senators used every dirty trick available to oust their opposition (like DASB President Marlo Custodio and Keith Hubbard, vice president of Campus Environment and Sustainability), with the exception of hiring a mercenary army to take the student Senate and placing in power a student junta.

So why all this drama over power in a student government? The issue is that the DASB has a one million dollar budget to determine what services receive funding. Yeah, you read right: a long time ago some genius thought it was a good idea to give a bunch of kids with big egos a million dollar budget.

The ramifications were visible last quarter when the DASB cut the funding of programs that underprivileged students depend on (like Child Development Center or LEAD) while it increased the funds to purchase movie tickets.

The only solutions to these issues are requiring senators to take POLI 1 (U.S. government) and a class on moral ethics.

When the smoke of the election has cleared, it will be another year of drama over a million dollar budget. In the end, just laugh at the show as you watch the world burn.

Published for La Voz Weekly
5/10/2010
Original Link: As The World Burns: The DASB Drama Pt. 1

As The World Burns: Let’s Talk About Sex – 5/2/2010

Sex . . .

Now that I got your attention, let us turn this taboo discussion into a mentality that has rarely been ventured. Sex is nothing new in our culture, but the subject taken seriously is more absent than a condom dispenser in a red state.

The sensitive nature of this issue has been brought up at Cabrillo College, where the student paper, The Voice, published a column that gives advice on safe sex. The column has received backlash by the Cabrillo faculty and community, since the advice was not abstinence only.

When the discussion of sex is brought up, the two reactions are either outrage over such an offensive subject that is very inappropriate to talk about, or laughter because you said “boobies.” This social dilemma has become an obstacle when trying to teach sexual education.

The only reasonable solution in practice has been for public schools to teach sex ed courses but also to give students the choice of opting out if they find it offensive. However, those who do take it are required to respect the subject matter (like not referring to the act of reproduction in lewd terms).

Sadly, the most popular and ineffective approach to educating students about sex has been the abstinence only program enforced by the federal government. Thanks to the Bush Administration, public schools are forced to teach abstinence or be denied funding (42 U.S.C. § 710b).

Some states (like California) have refused to give in to this blackmail and, to no surprise, have the lowest teen pregnancy and HIV cases in the nation (based on a 2004 Congressional report by Henry Waxman).

So why is our society so sexually repressed? America is a Western nation which should be very open about sex. At the birth of our nation, the Founding Fathers ensured the eradication of John Calvin’s legacy and the Puritan influence on colonial society. Let us also not forget the works of Alfred Kinsey, Lenny Bruce and Hugh Hefner for setting in motion the sexual revolution of the 1960s.

Yet, remember the public backlash from the infamous “Nipplegate,” when Janet Jackson exposed her nipple for less than a second during Super Bowl XXXVIII.

As a Western society, one should have the freedom to be well-educated about sex or to talk about that weekend trip to Santa Barbra on Halloween without feeling ashamed for not waiting until marriage. If our society fails to achieve sexual liberation, enjoy that “happy ending” as you watch the world burn.

Published for La Voz Weekly
5/2/2010
Original Link: As The World Burns: Let’s Talk About Sex

As The World Burns: Right To Bong – 4/23/2010

After being dazed and confused last week on “420” in the midst of the deep provoking thoughts inspired by “Apocalypse Now,” I began to wonder if this will be the last time engaging in this unofficial holiday is a misdemeanor.

The debate of marijuana legalization has been one of the hottest issues that is being marginalized by the media and politicians. While the Obama Administration is trying to ignore the issue, California is taking steps to legalize and regulate this billion-dollar industry.

To continue the enforcement of a law that William F. Buckley Jr. once said “has done far more harm to far more people than marijuana ever could,” is not only ludicrous but also irresponsible on the part of government during this troubling economy.

Regardless of what opponents say, they have failed to make any validation of what could be regarded as a rational counter argument with any factual evidence. The opposition’s argument consists of racial fears, old wives’ tales and the reefer madness concocted by Henry Anslinger (political opportunist and the first drug czar) in the 1930s.

Even then, Ansliger’s crusade was seen as a scam, and his lies were exposed when Fiorello LaGuardia, mayor of New York from 1934-1945, commissioned the first scientific study regarding the effects of marijuana in 1939 (LaGuardia Commission).

The most recent study in support of legalization, “The Budgetary Implications of Marijuana Prohibition,” by the Department of Economics at Harvard University, was published in 2005. The report focused on the economical ramifications of prohibition and how legalization could benefit the economy. The study received the endorsement of 500 economists, including Milton Friedman, one of the most influential economists of the modern age who was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1976.

Legalization would economically benefit communities in Northern California, where medical marijuana farming is a major source of revenue. The legalization would boost revenue and bring in tax dollars to the state government. At the same time, agencies once responsible for enforcing marijuana prohibition will now have to supervise its regulation and taxation.

From the average American to politicians to Noble Prize winning figures, the ongoing prohibition has been a blunder. If California fails to get the ball rolling on the movement of legalization, then have fun enjoying that “Emerald Kush” in the closet while watching the world burn.

Published for La Voz Weekly
4/23/2010
Original Link: As The World Burns: Right To Bong 

As the World Burns: America’s Tax History – 4/17/2010

Last week, Americans paid their income taxes. Regardless of what an individual paid, the Tea Party continued across the nation fighting the Obama Administration’s socialist policy of “tax and spend.”

If you are a free-thinking individual, you, too, might have some frustrations regarding the political atmosphere in Washington. Sure, Tea Party activists are just tools of conservative think tanks and the extremist branch of the GOP. But if you could get past all the whining about “socialism” you would realize they do make a point.

The national frustration we are witnessing is simply America’s hatred of taxes, but more of a reaction to the Bush Administration. We have taxation with representation, just representatives who ignore the voters (except during election season). This nation had to endure eight years of the worst corruption in government which facilitated the economic collapse we are enduring.

To better understand how tax dollars have been used in America, one would need to do a comparison with the governments of European nations.

Up to 50 percent of the income of European citizens goes to taxes while Americans barely have to pay a fraction of that amount. The difference is that the European government ensures that their citizens have the best public services in the world, while in America we get nothing.

European nations have some of the best education systems, universal health care, and governments that look out for the best interest of its citizens. In America however, we are witnessing our education deteriorating, public transportation that is lacking infrastructure, citizens who are going bankrupt because health insurance is unreliable and a government that ignores their needs.

Correction: America has the best military in the world, since the government funds it with a large portion of our GDP. That doesn’t even count all the money that is wasted on private contractors such as paying Halliburton billions to fix a leaky pipe with duct tape (watch the documentary “Iraq for Sale: The War Profiteer”).

However, if you’re a lobbyist then the government will cater to the needs of who you are representing. Thanks to some hard lobbying, Wall Street got all the deregulation it wanted just to screw over the nation’s economy.

Hard working Americans have a lot to be upset about, but rather than directing our anger at the Obama Administration we also need to hold the Reagan, Clinton and Bush administrations accountable for their actions as well.

If the American government continues to look out for the interest of lobbyists or their personal needs, then it will only be a few years before the oldest democracy falls prey to revolution as its citizens sit back and watch the world burn.

Published for La Voz Weekly
4/17/2010
Original Link: As the World Burns: America’s Tax History

As The World Burns: The Social Time Warp – 3/14/2010

I hate to say it but its the 1930’s all over again.

Its year 4 ½ of the Global Financial Crisis and it seems that things are going from bad to worse in each passing day. While the economic nightmares have dominated our train of thought, Washington has done almost nothing to help the average American.

On the social front we are divided between the extremely idealist views of the representatives of fantasyland against extremely ignorant representatives from Earl’s trailer park who will kiss-up to Wall Street and Glenn Beck.

All we are missing now are the Public Enemies who roamed the Midwest like the cowboys before them. Sure outlaws like John Dillinger may have been killers, but at least he was a more respectable hero to admire then Bernie Madoff.

On a positive note we really don’t have to worry about a Business Plot since most banks and industries are investing in tea baggers. We also don’t have to worry about any fascist take over since we already laughably endured it during the Bush Administration.

However there is the fear that the nation could split into another civil war the minute some kind of major reform is passed. Our history has shown every time a major act of reform is passed, extremists go on a lynching spree.

Not everyone seems to be suffering in these dark days. All the investors who did not get busted for unethical marketing practices seem to be enjoying the status quo and are hoping their army of barbarians pressure Washington to keep it that way.

Its no surprise as ethics of greed has continued to dominate our moral values that in times of needed change, the most useless of people will join want to preserve it hoping that one day they might be the CEO of a million dollar industry.

There was some hope in the 2008 Election in which President Barack Obama symbol of reform. Instead all hope can be abandon as all the big election only did was give us Herbert Hoover 2.0.

As of 2010, American troops are still in Iraq while Afghanistan is crumbling, the economy is in a recession, and the GOP continues to divide the nation. All this while Obama continues to try and solve the nations ills with a few speeches about hope, reform and the same progressive spiel he gave during the campaign.

The irony is that I have lost faith in the Obama Administration in September 2009 were I had began to distrust the Bush Administration sometime in 2003.

Sure we can wait for some idealist fascist to try building an empire just to unite the nation into fighting tyranny in the hopes that the economy has been reborn in the post-war society. But with so many minor conflicts going on, there is no room for the final countdown.

So is there a reason to give a damn every time some figure comes along and wastes my time with a speech. or should I just turn off my TV, grab a cold drink and go outside to enjoy the view as the world burns.

Published for La Voz Weekly
3/14/2010
Original Link: As The World Burns: The Social Time Warp