Once Again, Columbus Day Should Not Be Celebrated

The US once again celebrates Columbus day – and again disappoints those who oppose ruthless murder and exploitation. Murder, slavery, and rape of indigenous peoples was common among Columbus’s crew – and Columbus forced the natives to work the gold mines as slaves and killed those who refused. Columbus’s lust for gold corrupted his mind and made him a slave himself to coin. Five years ago I wrote an article in the Iowa State Daily talking about just this… I remember receiving a lot of negative comments on the opinion piece but my stance on the topic remains the same – I will not support or give honor to a man with such an unscrupulous coin grabbing lunatic.

Freedom to Clean Air and Safe Environment

On most subjects I am a free market proponent, but when it comes to the environment and things that obviously ruin the environment for folks I am a proponent of controls. The planet’s ecosystem has been durable for the larger part of human residency but given the massive quantity of humans and the large footprint that follows their activities have started to hurt themselves and folks thousands of miles away from them. The extinction of honeybees, the shortening lifespans in Asia, and the melting of the polar caps are just three of many consequences of human activity that will surely cause pain in suffering to none other than other humans. From an American perspective, that means the some peoples’ right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness is being denied by others who may or may not have a choice in the environmental harm they commit.

Looking at the lives of people living in heavily polluted cities, such as the ones in China where pollution levels have reached twenty times the dangerous amount and simply breathing in the air is like constantly smoking I would pay thousands of dollars and forgo earning tens if not hundreds of thousands of dollars to not threaten my health with such hazards. Unfortunately the people there don’t have a choice, and the coal power plants along with auto-mobile pollution and factory pollution make this a daily routine. Even though the capital city Beijing has tried to clean up the factories in their city, the change does little as factories dot the surrounding cities and is carried and hovers over the area. Only time will tell how bad this has been on the people but even now medical experts are claiming living in these areas will reduce the average life expectancy around 15 years!

The problem isn’t population per say, as India’s cities are more densely populated than the polluted ones in China, it is the way economic growth has been archived. The United States and especially England went though this period during the industrial revolution and also had massive pollution. This was to a smaller scale, however, since it was between 250 and 150 years ago when populations were smaller and most pollution was isolated to coal powered steam factories and coal power plants. Will the earth ever recover its lost glaciers and reclaim polar ice land area, or will we continue to see a gradual progression to a more arid world with less protection from solar flares and more solar radiation along with conventional pollution?

There are folks out there that seriously don’t care about the environment, they are just trying to get by economically. However, I argue that the same argument can be made from someone stealing bread from another person – the economic gains made through sacrificing the environment impose harsh penalties on others who want to live in a clean world free from newly created environmental hazards they may not be able to afford to protect themselves from.

Possibility of Asian Conflict Rises as China, Japan, and Taiwan Begin Spraying Each Other

The possibility of armed conflict over the Diaoyu Island has increased as of late as hundreds of Chinese and Japanese fishing boats approached the islands and Japanese and Taiwanese coast guard boats skirmished with water cannons.  Today Japan also fended off a flotilla of Taiwanese fishing boats using water cannons. Given the elevated emotions Chinese feel about Japanese aggression during World War II it is not far-fetched that China will try to get back at Japan for past crimes – the rift over the islands certainly isn’t helping ease the tensions and have resulted in Japanese factories being closed in China along with restaurants and other Japanese related establishments. Many Chinese consumers are boycotting Japanese products, and Japanese are also doing the same (however to be honest Japanese  traditionally only buy Japanese products when given the opportunity anyways). Patriotism from both sides is encouraging risky behavior, and politics is forcing those in charge to take a hard stance on the issue. If conflict does happen, it will certainly affect everyone on the planet – it will drive oil prices up and of course may be the beginning of WWIII.

Louisiana Sets Dangerous Precedent – You Can’t Buy or Sell with Cash

cash not accepted

cash not accepted

“Those who buy or sell second hand goods are prohibited from using cash” – That’s the new law in Louisiana, House bill 195. This is outrageous since most people don’t carry checks around and shouldn’t need to be tracked on whatever they purchase. This is also a hit on retailers since all credit and debit cards come with a hefty fee that goes to the financial institutions which have been so vital in ruining our economy and way of life. States should not have the ability to place laws on the use of the official currency of the United States, and is usurping the rights of citizens in doing so.

If this type of law becomes prevalent, it would seem that living in other countries would afford more transactional freedoms then the United States. All of this of course is done under the guise of protection, similar to the other outrageous laws enacted in the past – the patriot act (I intentionally lower cased “patriot” because the as Benjamin Franklin put it: “Those who would sacrifice freedom for security deserve neither”). From the TSA stopping passengers for carrying silver on domestic flights, NYPD arresting people legitimately closing their bank accounts, to Presidential assassination without trial for American citizens, American freedom is becoming a ghost of the past and those who serve return home to a country less free.

Tripoli Bloodbath

Now that the rebels have taken over the capital, they have now engaged in the routing up and killing anyone they suspect of being a former Gadhafi loyalist – particularly sub-Saharan Africans.Instead of working to unite a new country, it looks like the rebels have instead resorting to the very barbaric tactics that Gadhafi himself utilized (although I am not sure if Gadhafi was ever involved in ethnic cleansing like the rebels are engaging in Tripoli). The bodies piling up in the streets of Tripoli have both Gadhafi and the rebels to blame, but now it is the rebel’s Trans National Councils responsibility to ensure order in the former capital. NATO, which was crucial in overthrowing Gadhafi, should also play a role in the way new Libya is set up and governed – It would be a monumental failure for Libya’s new government to be more oppressive than Gadhafi’s.

Gadhafi left behind him in Tripoli the charred corpses of those he tortured and executed, and it is well he is now out of power. According to Randall and Owen (2011), regime troops killed over 50 people and burned them in a warehouse – two of the dead were soldiers who refused to carry out the order.

Reference:

“Rebels Settle Scores in Libyan Capital.” The Independent. Web. 27 Aug. 2011. <http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/africa/rebels-settle-scores-in-libyan-capital-2344671.html>.

Randall, David, and Jonathan Owen. “Charred Remains of Massacre Victims Found in Tripoli.” The Independent. Web. 27 Aug. 2011. <http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/africa/charred-remains-of-massacre-victims-found-in-tripoli-2345251.html>.

Steve Jobs – Success

Steve Jobs, the co-founder (along with Steve Wozniak and less known Ronald Wayne) and as of yesterday the CEO of Apple computer (AAPL), is the quintessential image of modern success. Born to Syrian and American parents who put him up for adoption and subsequently being adopted by Paul and Clara Jobs, Steve grew up in Mountain View (the base of Google) and went to high school in Cupertino (the base of Apple). Steve dropped out of college after one semester, and audited classes while sleeping in friend’s dorms. He collected coke cans for money and ate for free at a local Hindu temple. He started attending computer club meetings, and worked for Atari. Eventually Jobs along with the other men previously mentioned started Apple in 1976. In 1985 a man Jobs hired relieved Jobs of his position…

Having being kicked out of the company he started, Jobs went on to buy Lucasfilm’s ‘Graphics Group’ which he renamed ‘Pixar’ which was responsible for Toy story and virtually all 3D Disney movies. In 1996 Apple bought out a company Jobs founded called NeXT, which was a creator of high performance computer systems (similar to Alienware). Jobs later reemerged as CEO and led Apple’s ascension into greatness. Under Job’s leadership Apple went on to produce the highly successful iPod, iPhone, iPad, and experienced higher demand for Mac desktop and laptop systems. Jobs started an orphan, college dropout, and LSD user and emerged as one of the most well known CEOs of our time even though the past years he has been plagued by pancreatic cancer.

I hope the best for Mr Jobs.

The United States National Anthem – Lyrics and Full Song

Not many people know all the versus to our national anthem. The entire song is rarely sung, and I’ve never heard it sung at any sports event. Enjoy

Oh, say, can you see, by the dawn’s early light,
What so proudly we hail’d at the twilight’s last gleaming?
Whose broad stripes and bright stars, thro’ the perilous fight,
O’er the ramparts we watch’d, were so gallantly streaming?
And the rockets’ red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof thro’ the night that our flag was still there.
O say, does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

On the shore dimly seen thro’ the mists of the deep,
Where the foe’s haughty host in dread silence reposes,
What is that which the breeze, o’er the towering steep,
As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses?
Now it catches the gleam of the morning’s first beam,
In full glory reflected, now shines on the stream:
‘Tis the star-spangled banner: O, long may it wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

And where is that band who so vauntingly swore
That the havoc of war and the battle’s confusion
A home and a country should leave us no more?
Their blood has wash’d out their foul footsteps’ pollution.
No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave:
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

O, thus be it ever when freemen shall stand,
Between their lov’d homes and the war’s desolation;
Blest with vict’ry and peace, may the heav’n-rescued land
Praise the Pow’r that hath made and preserv’d us a nation!
Then conquer we must, when our cause is just,
And this be our motto: “In God is our trust”
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

Happy Fourth of July

Two hundred thirty-five years ago the Declaration of Independence was adapted, making the United States independent from Great Britain. Below are a couple of patriotic songs for the occasion.

A Brief Description of the Aztec City of Tenochtitlan

I am writing this post because the first chapter of The American Holocaust is starting to sink in. A massive civilization with a huge population for the times was already living in the Americas. If you could define a capital city of the Americas, then Tenochtitlan would be it. In 1519 under Montezuma it boasted a population of over two hundred thousand, over twice that of London at the time. Below is a map of Tenochtitlan which is claimed to be the work of Cortez:

cortez map of tenochtitlan

cortez map of tenochtitlan

It was a city of great intrigue, and Cortez actually gave up trying to describe it in his letter to King Charles V regarding the city of Tenochtitlan:

I shall not be able to relate an hundredth part of what could be told respecting these matters; but I will endeavor to describe, in the best manner in my power, what I have myself seen ; and imperfectly as I may succeed in the attempt, I am fully aware that the account will appear so wonderful as to be deemed scarcely worthy of credit ; since even we who have seen these things with our own eyes, are yet so amazed as to be unable to comprehend their reality.

On Commerce in the City

The description of how commerce occurred in the city is best told by the first hand witness:

This city has many public squares, in which are situated the markets and other places for buying and selling. There is one square twice as large as that of the city of Salamanca, surrounded by porticoes, where are daily assembled more than sixty thousand souls, engaged in buying and selling ; and where are found all kinds of merchandise that the world affords, embracing the necessaries of life, as for instance articles of food, as well as jewels of gold and silver, lead, brass, copper, tin, precious stones, bones, shells, snails, and feathers. There are also exposed for sale wrought and unwrought stone, bricks burnt and unburnt, timber hewn and unhewn, of different sorts. There is a street for game, where every variety of birds found in the country are sold, as fowls, partridges, quails, wild ducks, fly-catchers, widgeons, turtle-doves, pigeons, reedbirds, parrots, sparrows, eagles, hawks, owls, and kestrels ; they sell likewise the skins of some birds of prey, with their feathers, head, beak, and claws. There are also sold rabbits, hares, deer, and little dogs, which are raised for eating and castrated. There is also an herb street, where may be obtained all sorts of roots and medicinal herbs that the country affords. There are apothecaries’ shops, where prepared medicines, liquids, ointments, and plasters are sold; barbers’ shops, where they wash and shave the head ; and restaurateurs, that furnish food and drink at a certain price. There is also a class of men like those called in Castile porters, for carrying burthens. Wood and coals are seen in abundance, and brasiers of earthenware for burning coals ; mats of various kinds for beds, others of a lighter sort for seats, and for halls and bedrooms. There are all kinds of green vegetables, especially onions, leeks, garlic, watercresses, nasturtium, borage, sorel, artichokes, and golden thistle ; fruits also of numerous descriptions, amongst which are cherries and plums, similar to those in Spain ; honey and wax from bees, and from the stalks of maize, which are as sweet as the sugar-cane; honey is also extracted from the plant called maguey, which is superior to sweet or new wine ; from the same plant they extract sugar and wine, which they also sell. Different kinds of cotton thread of all colors in skeins are exposed for sale in one quarter of the market, which has the appearance of the silk-market at Granada, although the former is supplied more abundantly. Painters’ colors, as numerous as can be found in Spain, and as fine shades; deerskins dressed and undressed, dyed different colors; earthenware of a large size and excellent quality; large and small jars, jugs, pots, bricks, and an endless variety of vessels, all made of fine clay, and all or most of them glazed and painted ; maize, or Indian corn, in the grain and in the form of bread, preferred in the grain for its flavor to that of the other islands and terra-firma ; patés of birds and fish ; great quantities of fish, fresh, salt, cooked and uncooked ; the eggs of hens, geese, and of all the other birds I have mentioned, in great abundance, and cakes made of eggs;, finally, every thing that can be found throughout the whole country is sold in the markets, comprising articles so numerous that to avoid prolixity, and because their names are not retained in my memory, or are unknown to me, I shall not attempt to enumerate them. Every kind of merchandise is sold in a particular street or quarter assigned to it exclusively, and thus the best order is preserved. They sell every thing by number or measure, at least so far we have not observed them to sell any thing by weight. There is a building in the great square that is used as an audience house, where ten or, twelve persons, who are magistrates, sit and decide all controversies that arise in the market, and order delinquents to be punished. In the same square there are other persons who go constantly about among the people observing what is sold, and the measures used in selling; and they have been seen to break measures that were not true.

On Religion

This great city contains a large number of temples, or houses for their idols, very handsome edifices, which are situated in the different districts and the suburbs ; in the principal ones religious persons of each particular sect are constantly residing, for whose use beside the houses containing the idols there are other convenient habitations. All these persons dress in black, and never cut or comb their hair from the time they enter the priesthood until they leave it ; and all the sons of the principal inhabitants, both nobles and respectable citizens, are placed in the temples and wear the same dress from the age of seven or eight years until they are taken out to be married; which occurs more frequently with the first-born who inherit estates than with the others. The priests are debarred from female society, nor is any woman permitted to enter the religious houses. They also abstain from eating certain kinds of food, more at some seasons of the year than others. Among these temples there is one which far surpasses all the rest, whose grandeur of architectural details no human tongue is able to describe ; for within its precincts, surrounded by a lofty wall, there is room enough for a town of five hundred families. Around the interior of this enclosure there are handsome edifices, containing large halls and corridors, in which the religious persons attached to the temple reside. There are full forty towers, which are lofty and well built, the largest of which has fifty steps leading to its main body, and is higher than the tower of the principal church at Seville. The stone and wood of which they are constructed are so well wrought in every part, that nothing could be better done, for the interior of the chapels containing the idols consists of curious imagery, wrought in stone, with plaster ceilings, and wood-work carved its relief, and painted with figures of monsters and other objects. All these towers are the burial places of the nobles, and every chapel in them is dedicated to a particular idol, to which they pay their devotions.

On Dwellings

This noble city contains many fine and magnificent houses; which may be accounted for from the fact, that all the nobility of the country, who are the vassals of Muteczuma, have houses in the city, in which they reside a certain part of the year ; and besides, there are numerous wealthy citizens who also possess fine houses. All these persons, in addition to the large and spacious apartments for ordinary purposes, have others, both upper and lower, that contain conservatories of flowers. Along one of the causeways that lead into the city are laid two pipes, constructed of masonry, each of which is two paces in width, and about five feet in height. An abundant supply of excellent water, forming a volume equal in bulk to the human body, is conveyed by one of these pipes, and distributed about the city, where it is used by the inhabitants for drinking and other purposes. The other pipe, in the mean time, is kept empty until the former requires to be cleansed, when the water is let into it and continues to be used till the cleansing is finished. As the water is necessarily carried over bridges on account of the salt water crossing its route, reservoirs resembling canals are constructed on the bridges, through which the fresh water is conveyed. These reservoirs are of the breadth of the body of an ox, and of the same length as the bridges. The whole city is thus served with water, which they carry in canoes through all the streets for sale, taking it from the aquaduct in the following manner: the canoes pass under the bridges on which the reservoirs are placed, when men stationed above fill them with water, for which service they are paid. At all the entrances of the city, and in those parts where the canoes are discharged, that is, where the greatest quantity of provisions is brought in, huts are erected, and persons stationed as guards, who receive a certum quid of every thing that enters. I know not whether the sovereign receives this duty or the city, as I have not yet been informed ; but I believe that it appertains to the sovereign, as in the markets of other provinces a tax is collected for the benefit of their cacique. In all the markets and public places of this city are seen daily many laborers and persons of various employments waiting for some one to hire them. The inhabitants of this city pay a greater regard to style in their mode of living, and are more attentive to elegance of dress and politeness of manners, than those of the other provinces and cities ; since, as the Cacique Muteczuma has his residence in the capital, and all the nobility, his vassals, are in the constant habit of meeting there, a general courtesy of demeanor necessarily prevails. But not to be prolix in describing what relates to the affairs of this great city, although it is with difficulty I refrain from proceeding, I will say no more than that the manners of the people, as shown in their intercourse with one another, are marked by as great an atttention to the proprieties of life as in Spain, and good order is equally well observed; and considering that they are a barbarous people, without the knowledge of God, having no intercourse with civilized nations, these traits of character are worthy of admiration.

Players

Hernán Cortés

Hernán Cortés

Hernán Cortés led the expeditionary force into the Aztec Empire, and was able to capture Montezuma and claim his land for Spain.

Leader of the Aztecs Montezuma II

Leader of the Aztecs Montezuma II

Montezuma II reigned over the Aztec Empire at its apex, and also lived during its capture but died before it’s demise. It was thanks to his generosity and non agression that he was captured by Cortez’s men.

Reflection on September 11th

On September 11th 2001 I was in Shanghai, China and everything was fine. I had school that day, and would have school the next day as well. The morning of the 12th I heard the news, two planes had destroyed the World Trade Center towers. I was overcome with anger, and from then on followed closely the events that followed.

I remember watching the Taliban being shown on TV a few days later being ordered to give up Osama, which they did not do. In class there was one person who said the US deserved what happened, and I considered showing the ‘person’ what it meant to feel pain, but reconsidered because #1 it was a girl and #2 it wasn’t worth it.

For Those on Fixed Incomes, Government Bailout a Scam

Those people who get by month by month on a fixed income should know that the way that the economy is being restored will, in fact, help corporations and banks and get things back in order. However, the way the bailout is structured simply leaves no doubt behind that your dollars will be worth less in a short amount of time.

Think about it like this, banks are going under because of speculation on the prices of real estate, and the easy ways people had of acquiring loans and mortgages, all the while not being able to actually pay them back thanks to a variety of reasons. Money, which traditionally held value thanks to actually backing in gold and silver, can now be easily created using a press of a mouse button. The Internet has also created an easy way to shop, where consumers can spend money they don’t have easily and conveniently from the comfort of their own home. The average savings was abhorrently low, and most people were barely getting by on each pay check.

The result was what we now call the credit crunch, as money had vanished as speculative wealth was evaporated as prices readjusted after the bubble had popped. Some banks went under, but most major banks were given bailouts, large sums of money (in the billions), and the government decided to buy out bad assets. The burden of this bailout was placed on the taxpayer and an increase in the money supply to help alleviate the credit crunch. Interest rates were lowered to about zero, and wild programs such as ‘cash for clunkers’ were hurriedly enacted.

The problem with all this spending and the bailout plan is that the exit strategy is flawed. They plan to simply remove capital (cash) from the system after it recovers. How exactly are they going to do that? Instead, we will see a great increase in prices of oil, food, and other commodities as what more any more seems like ‘play money’ is injected into the system.

How do you protect yourself from this? As the old saying goes, if you can’t beat them, join them. Most of the people making these policy decisions have more than average savings and investments. Investments in the stock market especially in banks would be particularly lucrative as they are the ones that are being handed literally tons of cash, other investments include oil futures and commodities. It causes those who earn mediocre salaries that do not allow for savings to be at a disadvantage, as they are being left out on the beneficial side of inflation and government hand outs and instead on the disadvantageous position of slowly learning less real value per month.

As John Maynard Keynes puts it,

By a continuing process of inflation, governments can confiscate, secretly and unobserved, an important part of the wealth of their citizens…. The process engages all the hidden forces of economic law on the side of destruction, and does it in a manner which not one man in a million is able to diagnose.

The Blind Street Musician who Became a Star

In 1893 a child named Hua Yanjun was born in Wuxi, Jiangsu Province. In 1914, upon the death of his father, Abing took charge of the temple along with his cousin. However, badly run operations at the temple, and an opium addiction, drove Abing into poverty. At the age of 34, he contracted syphilis and progressively lost sight in both his eyes. He became homeless and earned a living as an itinerant street performer. In 1939, he married Dong Caidi, a country widow in Jiangyin. After his marriage, Abing performed every afternoon in a public square in Wuxi. He became famous for incorporating topical issues into his music and songs, especially the war with Japan. After the performance, he would walk through the city’s streets, playing the erhu. This was a period of prolifity for Abing, and his most famous composition Erquan Yingyue was performed in this period.

After the Japanese takeover of Wuxi, Abing travelled to Shanghai, while his wife went to her home village. In Shanghai, Abing played music for a kunqu opera company. In 1939, he returned to Wuxi and his old routine. However, his musical current affairs commentary also irked the authorities, and after 1945 he was prohibited from singing about news items at his usual place of performance. In 1947, Abing suffered a severe bout of lung disease. He stopped performing, and earned a living repairing huqin.

In the summer of 1950, two professors of the Central Conservatory of Music, Yang Yinliu and Cao Anhe, both Wuxi natives, traveled to Wuxi to record for Abing. By this time, Abing had not performed for almost three years. After three days’ practice, and in two sessions, three erhu pieces and three pipa pieces were recorded. However, Abing’s favorite piece, Meihua Sannong, was not recorded when the team ran out of blank records.

The recording brought Abing wider acclaim, and in September he was offered a teaching position with the Central Conservatory of Music. However, he was by this time too ill to accept, and died on December 4, 1950. He was buried in the graveyard of the temple where he was born. His wife also died three months later.

Chinese Article
Erquan Yingyue (song)