Culture Journal

Journal Entry – Easter Sunday 2018

It is Easter Sunday 2018 @ 5:23 PM.

Yesterday I did the kids and adults karate classes and made it through just fine.  Hyphen (sp?) gave me a nice back kick to the gut and although it didn’t knock the wind out of me like Yoshi’s a few weeks ago it did knock me back.  I made it through the classes just fine even though I had taken a couple of weeks off.

My buddy Brandon sent me a text asking to play darts so as long as we could do it early I was happy to oblige.  We went to the Longboard Bar and it was nice to see they are redoing the room with the darts.  You can now see through to the main bar and they have two great paintings of Use Your Illusion I and II on the wall plus Metallica Ride the Lightning.  The addition of these paintings now makes this my official favorite bar in Pacifica.

I swept Brandon 4 – 0 in the darts:  two of the games were Cricket and two 501.  It is nice to see I’m still able to check out at the end of the game:  that is where you have to hit the outer circle of half the points you have left to win.  If you end up hitting any other number you either bust or need to ensure the points are even and try again on the half of that number.  After a while Peter and Kazuki joined us and we went over to Go Sushi for dinner.  It has been a very long time since I had dinner only with friends.  I then came back early because I really was pooped but before I went to bed I had to hide all the eggs and put the Easter baskets out for the kids to find in the morning.

My son woke up early and was very excited to find the eggs and baskets but had to wait for his brother to wake up before he could go on the hunt.  We then played outside for a bit then down to Rockaway for some Pokémon Go then back for tacos for lunch.  I then took another long nap because karate had really worn me out the day before.

As for Easter I remember the holiday fondly from my youth.  However, unlike my youth I find the rituals of the religious to be very strange.  I simply don’t understand how in this age, with all of our education, so many people can still subscribe to an ancient religion that makes no sense.

In other news I had to laugh at the Russian responses to the #Metoo movement in America:

Dmitry Peskov says “they earned hundreds of millions of dollars, and after 10 years they say that Weinstein is bad,” according to Russia’s Sputnik news service. He says “none of them went to the police, did not say ‘Weinstein raped me.’.. No! (they) wanted to earn $10 million.”

“What’s the name of a woman who slept with a man for $10 million?” he added. “Maybe, I’m speaking crudely, she’s called a prostitute.”

A few months ago they said that the #Metoo movement couldn’t happen in Russia because flirting is how babies are made.

As for me personally I think everyone (who deserves it) should be treated with respect.  We’re all trying to make the best we can of this life and all have very different experiences.  So while many women do have a very valid point I think that it might be going too far.  This was pointed out in a Dilbert cartoon where everyone had to wear “Anti-harassment” suits where everything you say when speaking with the opposite sex will first be transmitted to Human Resources to check for harassment, scrubbed then sent to the person you’re speaking with.

It seems to me that adults are acting like children and it is sad that we cannot even talk to each other without harassment and have to resort to this all blowing up like something you’d see in elementary school with the teachers having to get involved.

Along these same lines I was reading Reddit and there was a clip of a camera man who focused in on the cleavage of some actress who was wearing a very low cut dress.  Of course the purpose of this low cut dress is to call attention to the cleavage but if you do she’ll tell you her “eyes are up here.”  So show them off but you’re in trouble if you look.  It made me wonder how an advanced society would see the idiocy of our society now.  The women wear very uncomfortable high heels which were originally designed to be able to steady oneself whilst shooting arrows from a horse.  Along with these silly shoes they also show off their cleavage but demand nobody look or feel harassed.  So while I’m all for showing everyone respect it is hard to get on board when many situations are absolutely ridiculous.  Many women crave the attention which is apparent from their outfits but should they get it they cry foul.

I guess this is why I partly agree with the Russians on this point.

Anyway, that is enough for today, I better get back to the family.

Journal My Best Posts

What is Marriage? – A Unique Perspective

In the past week there as been a major Federal court decision which declared Proposition 8 unconstitutional.  Proposition 8 was passed last year by a statewide vote which disallowed gay marriage in California.

The proposition states:

Proposition 8 (or the California Marriage Protection Act) was a ballot proposition and constitutional amendment passed in the November 2008, state elections. The measure added a new provision,Section 7.5 of the Declaration of Rights, to the California Constitution, which provides that “only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.” – Wikipedia

This has been chewed over in the media for some time and without delving into the details I would just like to add a unique opinion which has not been discussed but I find quite relevant.  As my passions are history, linguistics and international living I simply would like an answer to the following question.

What is marriage?

Most people will not give this a passing thought and believe the question silly as the answer should be obvious.  But I ask, is it really obvious?  If one is to engage in this societal contract, under which authority makes the union valid?

Is marriage something the state confers upon the couple or is it religion?

Or perhaps it is a promise we make to ourselves and our partner?  How much weight should we give to “authorities” and under what authority do they derive their own authority?  Do they really even matter?

The easiest answers concerning our current “authorities” are perhaps the State and organized religion.

1. The State

The state confers benefits upon married people in terms of taxes, contracts and so on.  Therefore, when we marry it is beneficial to register with the state to receive these benefits and work within the system.

However, should we decide later on to leave the state (the country) for another country then any decision by the state would be rendered  unless the country which we have moved to also recognizes decisions made by the country we have just left.  That is to say foreign countries do not necessarily recognize contracts (marriage contract) made in other countries.

Most couples will register with the State as they have no choice or they are not really married as far as the State is concerned.  But then we could ask ourselves what is a ‘law’ and who gives them the authority to determine whether we choose to be married or not?  The laws are arbitrary and I would guess that they had some sort of influence from organized religion.

As time passes the law can be changed and here in the USA we are a secular nation (with some caveats), and religion should really retain no influence.  Instead, it should be a consensus among the elites or possibly the entire population as to what constitutes a law.  Many people today believe that “the will of the people” is what makes laws but that is not really true.  Congress makes the laws and is often persuaded by lobbying organizations.

Also, as we can see from history, the opinion of the masses is not a very good way in which to craft laws.  If this were the case, interracial marriages would still be banned and society would most likely just have the law of the state follow the mandates of an organized religion.

Since we are creating our own laws, made by consensus among elites and possibly with a dash of public opinion these laws really derive from no higher authority.  The laws are simply made up and may or may not reflect public opinion.

To give additional and possibly final authority to any proclamation from the state many leaders have turned to religion and God.  We still swear on bibles in the court room and the words “Under God” are still maintained on our currency and in our national pledge.  Therefore, it acts as a very strong “supplement” to laws made by the State which adds an additional layer of authority.  In common-speak it says “If you are not willing to respect laws made by man, then you should respect those laws made by God and God gives the State direct authority to make his laws.”

However, as we are now more of an enlightened society we continue to be in the process of stripping religion  from our laws and believe they should be followed on their own merits.

In terms of marriage, most people will not consider this issue and just sign the paper to register with the state while also participating in an organized religious ceremony to add another (if not more important) level to confirm their union.

2. Religion

Again, the USA is a nation that has separated Church and State although a good portion of the citizens fail to recognize or even consider this.  It is to them as though the State and their religion should go hand in hand.  As a very good majority of citizens in the USA are Christians, religion may still play a role in making laws even today.  This is what happened with Proposition 8 and the following Bible verse was used to make a law against homosexual unions.

1 Corinthians 6:9-10 – “Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes norhomosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.”

Now, there are some counterpoints such as the translation being wrong and that the Bible is not really condemning homosexuality.  This is not a point I will discuss here.

My point is that homosexual couples are not asking organized religion to bless their unions.  They are instead simply asking the state to recognize the union as they know they do not have a “snowball’s chance in hell” to have it recognized by Catholicism but have made progress with the Anglicans and I’m not really sure about the others.

The current debate however is not about religious acceptance but simply that of the State.

If the State has separated from religion then religion should play no role in whether or not gay couples are allowed to marry.

But even if we believe religion should still play a role in marriage, it might be beneficial to ask on whose authority is religion able to “make a marriage?”  Most people would quickly say “God,” but is there evidence in scripture of this?  At what point in time did the priestly class insert themselves into the important occasions of our lives?  Why is it that priests must be present at an individuals birth, marriage and death?  This question has also been asked in “The Antichrist” by Friedrich Nietzsche.

“Simply this: the priest had formulated, once and for all
time and with the strictest meticulousness, what tithes were to be paid to him, from the largest to the smallest (–not forgetting the most appetizing cuts of meat, for the priest is a great consumer of beefsteaks); in brief, he let it be known just what he wanted, what “the will of God” was…. From this time forward things were so arranged that the priest became indispensable everywhere; at all the great natural events of life, at birth, at marriage, in sickness, at death, not to say at the “sacrifice” (that is, at meal-times), the holy parasite put in his appearance, and proceeded to denaturize it–in his own phrase, to “sanctify” it. . .”

If we throw away the authority of the state (after all, they only last about 500 years or so) then all we have to rely on is religion in that they have an outstanding reputation for longevity.  Yet, if we are to examine religion, it would be beneficial to ask ourselves at what point did the priests interject themselves and gain control of the most important events of our lives?

Are there Biblical references that state a priest must be present at these events?  Do priests have some magical powers to really solidify a union?  I would say no.

But I return to my previous point that homosexuals are not asking for the blessing of organized religion but only that of the state and to be treated fairly and equally under the law of the state.

3. The word marriage

This word is simply that, a word.  It could be called anything but in the English language we have settled on the word marriage to describe this social custom.  The problem arises that we are very unsure as how to define it.  Does it mean a union recognized by the state or by religion?  Can we call it something else like “domestic partnerships?”  I’ve understood that gay couples are afforded the same legal rights under “domestic partnerships” so in terms of the State does it really matter what we call this “union?”

I would say it does if you call one union “marriage” but reserve another title only for gay couples.  This would not be equality and akin to the “separate but equal” issue that was struck down in the past.  Would straight couples be able to obtain “domestic partnerships” or would that seem weird?

4. Authority

As I said above, if a married couple were to leave the state for a foreign country and do not recognize any organized religions that do not allow their type of union then under what supreme authority could the union therefore be recognized?

The state maintains no authority outside its own borders and religion retains no authority unless the individual allows it to do so.

5. Conclusion

So I ask again, “What is Marriage?”  I would say that it is a promise we make to ourselves and our partner that we will stay by them and support them until we die.  This is the most important aspect of a marriage, a promise we make to ourselves.  Whether the State or religion choose to accept this union should play a seriously less significant role.

Concerning marriage and homosexuality there has been a very large shift into how people view homosexuals.  The younger generation most likely happens to know a few and realize that it is just the way they were created and is not “evil” as religion would have us believe.  Therefore, there is absolutely no reason why they should be denied the same benefits as straight couples by the State.  The laws of the State are a reflection of the ideas and reasonings that the elites of the population created, or shall we say simply made up in order to have a properly functioning society.

Again, religion is and has been stripped away due to the separation of church and state and therefore should retain no more influence.

And as our laws are a reflection of “the will of the people” and the people are slowly coming to realize that gay people are not “evil” and that they have been unjustly discriminated against would it not follow that the law should change as well?

I believe those for Prop 8 (against gay marriage) are fighting a losing battle.  The younger generation realizes this mistake and the laws will slowly come to reflect this and give homosexuals equal treatment.

Unfortunately, old habits die hard and the extremist elements in organized religion are trying to maintain their grasp on the lives of citizens everywhere.  They wish the state to craft laws to reflect their values and what they have been taught in their religious books.

I ask if this were to be the case, should we go back to stoning women for adultery and throw out all scientific progress simply because a religious book tells us to?

It is time for religion to stop interfering with the laws of this nation and for the USA to give equal treatment to all of its citizens.  Even if we have a very hard time letting go of religion, perhaps we could use the commandment “Love they neighbor,” a bit more and have a little less of the hate.

*Side Note:  Reasons for my view

You may ask how I even came up with these ideas?  Well, it is due to my international experience, especially in Japan.  If a foreign national marries a Japanese outside of Japan things become a little complicated.

a.)  The State

Japan does not automatically recognize marriages outside of Japan.  Instead, the Japanese individual must submit paperwork to the Japanese Embassy to make this “official.”  And to add one more complex element the Japanese individual has the option to change their “koseki” (戸籍) which means “Family Registration.”

A koseki (?) is a Japanesefamily registry. Japanese law requires all Japanese households (ie) to report births, acknowledgements of paternity, adoptions, disruptions of adoptions, deaths, marriages and divorces of Japanese citizens to their local authority, which compiles such records encompassing all Japanese citizens within their jurisdiction. Marriages, adoptions and acknowledgements of paternity become legally effective only when such events are recorded in the koseki. Births and deaths became legally effective as they happen, but such events must be filed by family members.

Most Japanese will register with the Embassy but not change their koseki as it can be a real pain and more trouble than it is worth.  It is due to this that I question the authority of the State and if their decisions even really matter in terms of citizens considering themselves “married” or not.

2. Religion

Most Japanese are Buddhists.  As people in the USA are overwhelmingly Christian would the couple have to go get married in both traditions to have it be valid in terms of religion?  Or could we just dispense with the religious aspect?

For these reasons I started
thinking about how much authority the state and religion have in creating a marriage.  Why is it that they should have a lock on this important event?  What if we really give no weight to their “authority” and simply decide to think of marriage as a promise we make to ourselves?

Just food for thought.


Journal Politics

Nationalism, Tribalism, Political Affiliation and Favorite Sports Teams

What a crazy title.

These are topics that have been on my mind for some time and are consistently brought up in the media. I’m not even sure exactly where to begin but let’s start with the comfort and camaraderie that come with being part of a group.

No, even better to start with self identity and our search for one. One caveat however, there is much more to adolescence and I’m just going to generalize here in order to get to a more important point.

When we are kids we aren’t exactly concerned with “self-identity” but instead want to be part of a group which makes us feel secure. Then around middle school one often wants to differentiate themselves a little bit in order to be “cool” and “special.” So we pick our favorite teams, buy cool sneakers and listen to certain music. If others pick the exact same things as another offense could be taken and it becomes “you can’t like them because I like them!!” Of course a certain amount of sameness is inevitable and others are allowed to like a few of the same things you do which then forms sort of a quasi-group and the feeling of being included. A good example is “boy bands” such as New Kids on the Block, Jonas Brothers etc. If a youth did not like them then they might feel excluded which is not desirable.

This post is not about adolescence however. Moving on to High School being part of a group has serious consequences and depending on which group one joins really determines a large part of the social life for four entire years! Continuing on, in college the former H.S. groups are broken up and we all get a “re-do.”

Now that we are adults we find ourselves without a constant circle of friends but still find the need to be part of a group. The first and easiest way is to enthusiastically support your favorite sports team. One wears the uniforms, goes to tailgates and this is comforting because you can be surrounded by people who like the same thing you do and makes us feel included. Then there are those who in determining their identity find it would be useful to support the rival-team even though there is no apparent connection or affiliation but does serve the purpose of being “different” or unique.

In the USA most people do not bother to research exactly why this social phenomenon takes place. The easy answer is the team is supported because it actually supports the community and is part of the community. Being part of the community ourselves it only follows that we would support the community we happen to be in. But looking further we must look back to our roots in England. Villages would support their lords, and during jousts wave the banners of their villages against another. (Very brief explanation there). In America we find those bonds severed and turned to our universities as pillars of the community thus fulfilling the need to be part of the community. However, I believe we are more tolerant here in America of opposite teams and do get along better unlike the Hooligans and national soccer matches. For them, there is much more at stake then simply loosing a game but is rather taken as a match to show National/Community superiority.

However, sports teams are not enough. Soon our interests may turn to politics which used to be rather staid and boring except for the upper class which could actually make things happen and further enrich them. The common man got to vote but they were pretty easily persuaded one way or another and could be manipulated. Now, due to the media and race for ratings politics has become something where everyone can participate and is divided neatly into two camps, Republican and Democrat. Even those that are not politically astute can participate as current beliefs will fall neatly into one camp or the other. The lines do blur quite often, but the media would have us believe that you must be for or against, “with us or against us,” a Republican or RINO (Republican In Name Only).

This does serve a great purpose in that the simple minded can be easily divided and that all difficult answers have an easy solution which is to simply join one party or the other. Again,the lines do blur but the media would not want us to think so. The extremes are on both sides but the Republicans gain more notoriety as of recent because most “middle-of the road” folks have voted Democratic leaving only the “hard core” Republicans who have hijacked the mouth peace of the Republican Party. Rush Limbaugh, Savage, and so on have been called “the mouthpiece of the Republican Party.” This only serves to damage American politics as a whole since it is my view neither side should gain too much power and that extreme right further damages Republican credibility and takes away from even-minded Republicans. On a positive note for Republicans, Americans in general will go “middle of the road” and the pendulum will swing back eventually. However, I do believe Obama is doing a good job even if the Democratic Congress is not. Don’t agree with the Obama statement? Read on…

The Democrats on the other hand are being degraded by Nancy Pelosi who has done a spectacularly awful job as Speaker of the House. Bush divided America quite enough and now Nancy is doing the same but on the other side. It is my view that Obama is much more of a “uniter” than George W. ever was but is being sucker punched by Pelosi who is too arrogant to let Obama tell her what to do and thus we simply have a political pissing contest.

Getting back to being part of a group, it is curious that we now wear our political affiliations on our sleeve just like we do our sports teams. I’m also surprised that we do not yet have team like uniforms to show which political party we support! What we do have is the sports like mentality where should the other side have a point of view, there is a knee-jerk reaction to oppose it because it’s from the other team!!!

It is quite evident in that should the Democratic President make one tiny misstep the media will pounce and everyone goes up in arms. There really is no way to win in this type of mentality. If Obama encourages debate, the other team will say he is not bold enough to make decisions. And if he makes a decision they will all be considered wrong by “the other team.”

This could be simple push back after 4 years of criticizing Bush. In any case, thoughtful, rational debate has long fled from America and now it’s all sensationalism. When I listen to arguments from both sides it is simply regurgitating arguments that people hear on the media and is really not very sophisticated at all. Take the stimulus for example, it does stink but what are the other options? One side will say “he put us all into debt forever, get him outta there!!

Yes, we are in debt forever this is true. However, without it our economy will cease to function and the very people saying this will probably lose their jobs for which they would blame Obama for that too!! Again, it’s true that the stimulus stinks but it’s simple minded to blame one side or the other for the current mess, rather it is simply convenient! Why not have the government do nothing. endure some serious pain, then everyone can blame Obama for the pain. AND it’s easy to blame only one person or another regardless that the office of President is subject to political lobbies, various state and politician interests and does need to rely on an army of advisors. No need to dig into all of this though as the media would have us think we can just blame the President which makes things so simple.

The simplification of every complex issue does nothing to strengthen the nation.

Sensationalizing every issue does not advance the merits of issues either. Now we see people getting angry in the media when there is disagreement. This is extremely childish in my opinion. It is like saying; “Wow, you are very angry, I can see your point so much more clearly now. If you got even angrier I might even agree with you.” Or perhaps it is just to show the level of loyalt
y to one team or another. After the broadcast those in question can retreat to their team clubhouse and all the comrades will say “You the Man!! You go so angry over there, but on point X, I think you could do kick the anger up a notch.”

The anger could also stem from a very self-centered society and if we don’t get what we want we become angry. Just like a child throws a tantrum remember this tactic and believe that since we are angry we have more of a chance to be pacified. “Look at me I’m angry, please let me have what I want and agree with my opinion!!”

If there was a show which showed calm rational debate it is one I would absolutely watch. I don’t really want to hear the same mantras regurgitated over and over. Yet, this is unavoidable because if we really dug into the issues they would quickly become boring. It’s much easier and attracts more followers if the media appeals to emotions and keeps things lively. I’m just waiting for a political reality show where a Democrat and Republican are forced to live together, decide which OC queen to date and who can sing the best. Then we could just support the coolest one and not worry about these troublesome issues!! “Well, the Republican gal is a hottie and dates the strapping David AND she can Tango!!!” What is not to support???

So being all grown up but still needing to be part of a group the political parties can serve this purpose. It also has the added bonus of making us feel smart and sophisticated when we talk about such adult things as politics. Yet, there is another group and is the main issue of this post.
Being regarded as “American” or part of any nation for that matter is the ultimate group and has been used by various governments to legitimize themselves and advance goals. Not so long ago you were un-American if you didn’t support the war. This is extremely powerful because people generally like America and when you call them un-American it might strike a deep cord. It basically boils down to “agree with me or else you cannot be part of your own nation anymore.” This is the dumbest thing I could think of to tell someone. America by nature is made up of immigrants with different points of view and it is exactly this fact which makes America great! To make something stronger it takes people to come in, not conform share opinions and then seemingly by magic things improve!!!

Sports teams know this and will steal a player from another team to become stronger. They will NOT simply gripe and moan about the other team being stronger. However, in politics it is a very difficult thing to actually consider the other side, and really take it in. It is much more fun to simply get emotional then to truly study, keep an open mind and consider why the other side could be right.

But now to my grand and final point. I long for the day when we can truly do this among nations. Currently, we think it fashionable to be “international” and travel. But what hasn’t happened is we do not have the ability to truly understand and simply look at them from the bedrock of our own culture and compare and contrast from the prison/prism of our own culture. Of course there are major obstacles such as language, proximity and so on but for everyone to make an honest effort to truly understand each other would be nirvana. (Diversity courses should be banned though).

Unfortunately, this curiosity is not there in this country and we’ve become more of a “agree with me or else” society. This is my team, if you wear the other color I automatically dislike you because you are not like me. This is my political affiliation and if you do not agree you make me uncomfortable. This is my country and we never make mistakes. You on the other hand are from a far away place, speak a strange language and I really cannot relate to you so either become like me or else.

I long for the day when we can break down all of these barriers but we are not even close yet. In America, we broke down the tribes which was a great feat. Yet, we set up new barriers in politics and by using Nationalism.

The people I admire most are those whose opinions I do not share but can explain calmly and rationally why they think the way they do. These people can also be persuaded to actually abandon their own viewpoint when presented with logical arguments. I admire people who can go to other nations, immerse themselves in it and thus seem almost indistinguishable between the two cultures. These are people I can really learn from and I hope is the direction we are headed.

Again, I think we have broken a major barrier by mixing all types of people here in America. The next step would be to consider ourselves humans and global citizens and even do away with national boundaries!

Now that last point probably seems absurd but I ask why? Individuals became tribes, Tribes became Nations, Nations became Empires and they have all been broken down and rebuilt throughout history. Yet, we become hardened with our sports teams, hardened with our political affiliations and God forbid think of switching national identity ………………………………….. unless the individual in question is switching to an American then it’s ok!

But why is this? The national identity is so strong here that even mentioning the topic probably seems blasphemous. An example of how strongly we think of our national identity goes like this.

– An American consular official asks if my wife wants to become a citizen of the USA
– I tell him No, she is Japanese and wants to stay Japanese
– The official is taken aback as if he cannot comprehend why someone would not want to be American.

I can even sense some readers being appalled at this and that proves my point. It’s ok to get out and explore and not be bound by anything limiting, sports teams, political affiliation and yes, even nationality. If we harp on Freedom so much then how about the Freedom to be completely free? Could I have a global passport? Or how about a passport to let me into countries I’m curious about and promise to learn the language and history. Is that such a bad thing? I feel in the current environment this is extremely taboo which is a shame.
Break down every boundary and set your mind free!

Culture Journal

Issues of the Day – Gay Marriage

1. Proposition 8 – Gay Marriage

There was an article in the Wall Street journal about a “black list” of businesses that gay people were protesting due to their support of Proposition 8. It seems like these are extremists and such extremism isn’t really supported by the community. The article told the story of a Mormon woman who although she employed quite a few gay people in her restaurant had supported Proposition 8. As her establishment was being protested she thought it a good idea to offer an apology but could not renounce her belief and thus was shouted at. It’s good to hear however, that most of the gay population does not support this type of behavior and she is absolutely within her right to vote according to her beliefs.

I myself voted No on Proposition 8 (Gays have the right to marry = No vote) and it got me thinking about how we define marriage? I am still unclear on the answer.

Marriage is a traditional custom that transcends culture and is a custom found in almost every society. For tribes without a nation the marriage is upheld by the rules of tribal elders. In our society, the state recognizes marriage and affords married couples special privileges (and penalties). Another authority, Religion, also recognizes marriage.

Gay people are afforded special “domestic partnerships” in California which is very close to the rights of married couples. I’m not sure on all the details but to me it seems that it is simply a change in the word used to define a couple who have made their relationship permanent and public. Religion on the other hand comes in all shapes and sizes and spans every nation. Most religious leaders will not condone gay marriage.

However, if a gay person does not belong to a religion that does not condone gay marriage then who really cares what rules religion imposes. The only thing that matters are the rights afforded by the state and gay people have these privileges in more enlightened nationals and states (USA).

Thus, isn’t this whole debate simply about a word which defines the relationship between two people (Marriage)? What if the word was simply changed? Or perhaps it is simply a matter of having the same exact privilege that straight people have and the gay population wants equal rights.

To demonstrate the point, I am in a straight relationship called “Marriage.” However, I could care less if religious elders did not condone of it. The only thing that really matters is that the state affords me the benefits associated with it, should other people have special privileges as well. If the state provided no benefits, I could also care less if the state recognized it since it would give me no advantage. “Marriage” to me is a commitment I made to my wife and I could care less what any third party thinks unless it was disadvantageous in some way. We could call it something else like “the pact,” “the bond,” the promise,” “you and me babe,” etc.

However, this is from the mind of someone who studies language and the impact it has on mentality, thus may seem quite absurd to non language students. Further, it must hurt to not be included when the rest of the population is afforded something (even if it is only a word). In other words, Marriage is a long tradition and the word “Marriage” defines it and if everyone else is entitled to it then to not be included is discriminatory. But in the end, isn’t it just a word if the same benefits can be received (religion excluded)?

2. Israel and Gaza

Israel has started bombing Gaza again. I listened to the Prime Minister of Israel and can understand his frustration. But haven’t the policies of the USA and Israel been extremely unfair to the Palestinians? There are no jobs and the only thing that flourishes is the resentment of Israel. I have spoken with Israeli soldiers and even they have said policies towards the Palestinians have been unfair. It is such a mess there that countless intelligent people have failed at trying to find a lasting solution. In the end, Israel has the right to exist and not be shot at while the Palestinians have the right to prosper, be free and flourish. Seems to be a downward spiral and very hard for American policy to be balanced as it is shamefully pro-Israeli now. It is my opinion that America should not get involved in this mess or if they must then castigate both sides equally.

3. Christmas movies

To end the post on a trite note, I recognized this Christmas that there are still no good Christmas movies coming out. Hollywood continues to spew forth garbage with no end in sight. I’m dying for another good Christmas movie like one of the following:

1. A Christmas Story
2. A Christmas Carol
3. Old animation Rudolph, Frosty etc.
4. It’s a Wonderful Life
5. National Lampoons Christmas Vacation
6. Elf

I could do without the following:

1. Anything with Vince Vaughn
2. Bad Santa – The worst movie ever made
3. Tim Allen’s Santa movies – I started watching the third in the series as it was the only one I could stream from Netflix but turned it off after 15 minutes.

a.) Since when does Santa get people pregnant
b.) Santa’s wife isn’t happy but instead a whining middle class woman who just has to have her way.
c.) All the elves are just little kids with elf ears stuck on.
d.) They just run around from one catastrophe to the next — Christmas is supposed to be full of happiness!!!!

Message to Netflix,,, please stream any version of “A Christmas Carol” to make your viewers happy. Hollywood monkeys running around screwing everything up is not a good Christmas movie.

—————Message to myself from 2014————-
– Netflix still doesn’t have any good Christmas movies available for streaming. 

Culture International Journal Việt Nam

The Apprentice

Here in Saigon, when I have absolutely nothing else to do, I may wander into the T.V. room and let myself vegetate for a while. In Vietnam, the main source of Television entertainment comes from HBO, BBC, NHK, and for regular sitcoms, Star TV. Star buys most the the shows that do not do too well in the states I think except for a select few.

Keeping in mind that my only source of info and culture from the west comes from the CNN homepage and Star TV I do not have a well rounded picture what so ever.

I recently just got done watching the Apprentice and am curious as to why this television show is so popular. To me, it is a bunch of back stabbers who share an all to common vision of making the big time in the business world and will do anything to achieve success.

When I was in business school, it was mostly about crunching numbers, labor contracts and other pretty dry subjects. It wasn’t until my Senior Seminar that we got to conduct case studies and had to put on presentations. I guess it would have been more exciting if we started yelling at each other or if there had been tense background music. It is intriguing how this reality tv show has glamorized putting together marketing packages and boardroom meetings. I guess this is a boon for business schools across the land but the reality is that business is not as much fun as it would seem. Constantly worring about deadlines, cash flow crunches, and lack of sales does not seem so fun without a T.V. crew around.

Further, in modern society it is hard to imagine why we give such prestige to companies that sell soda water (coke) clothing (levis) and movie stars who serve the same function as clowns, which is simply to entertain. Perhaps it is the power that these companies command which is so alluring. I have met many country managers of companies such as these here in Vietnam and more than a few of them are a bit arrogant. If we look at the big picture, I think they should all be taken down a few notches (who cares if they make soap more sexy) and should elevate those that truly help humanity progress. To me, the scientists at NASA, advocates of Human Rights and those who bridge cultural differences should be elevated.

If we look at what country managers of companies such as Nike and Levis actually do I’m sure it would not seem so attractive as T.V. tries to make it. Imagine those people in dirty sweatshops negotiating with the manager of said sweatshop to produce more orders for less price. This creates more overtime and less pay for the workers. The country managers also have to meet demand for their markets and a budget, but the people actually creating the jeans also have to make a living. The sweatshops often bid for contracts and the winners are those who can do so at the least cost (basic rule of business). But to win, they usually have to break the law and push their employees harder.

It would be fun to see the contestants of the Apprentice be assigned to produce the most amount of jeans in a sweatshop in a 6 month period on a normal workers pay. The US is now a service oriented society and in the position to buy manufactures from the poor countries instead of producing it themselves. I believe this to be a normal path to help countries develop since they had absolutely no economy before and sweatshops at least provide some income where there was none before. It just irks me to see the reality behind all the glamour that the Apprentice creates.