To Spit or Not to Spit on Christopher Columbus’ Grave.

22 Jun

Ray: As a youth in the United States public school system, I was taught to view Christopher Columbus as the great Spanish explorer who boldly set out to prove that the world was round. I was even given a neat little phrase to help me remember this fact about Christopher Columbus should any questions about him appear on a pop quiz: “In 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue.” And that was it. That’s all I knew about Christopher Columbus. Well, that and the fact that every second Monday of October, we as a nation celebrate Columbus Day. The kids love it.

As as adult and one who is passionate about the truth in history, I have to come to understand a completely different Christopher Columbus than the guy I thought I knew all my life. As it turns out, Christopher Columbus wasn’t even close to being the first person to proclaim that the world was round. That credit probably belongs to the Greek philosopher Pythagoras who came to that conclusion almost 2,000 years before Columbus. So now that that’s out of the way, what’s next?

Well, Columbus didn’t exactly set out to prove the world was round. Like most people who are inspired to do great things, Columbus needed money. He convinced King Ferdinand II and Queen Isabella of Spain to finance his trip so that he could bring back gold and spices from Asia. In return, he was to receive 10% of all that he found, governorship over any uncharted islands he discovered, and the prestigious title of Admiral of the Ocean Sea. How’s that for incentive? So with Spain’s backing, he set off into the sunset with the Nina, Pinta, and Santa Maria.

Here’s where things really get messy and made me question the quality of our education of history in the United States.

When Columbus reached the Americas (expecting Asia), he was greeted by the Arawaks of the Bahama Islands. Without going into detail of the Arawak people, I think this excerpt from Columbus’ log paints a great picture of his reception and his thoughts:

They… brought us parrots and balls of cotton and spears and many other things, which they exchanged for the glass beads and hawk’s bells. They willingly traded everything they owned.. They were well-built, with good bodies and handsome features… They do not bear arms, and do not know them, for I showed them a sword, they took it by the edge and cut themselves out of ignorance. They have no iron. Their spears are made of cane… They would make fine servants… With fifty men we could subjugate them all and make them do whatever we want.”

I don’t know about you, but that was NOT the Christopher Columbus I learned about and celebrated since I was a child. But these are his own words! As soon as he discovers that these are peaceful and welcoming people, he plots to overtake them and enslave them.

With that said, in just a few years, the Spaniards killed hundreds of thousands of Indians on Haiti, the Dominican Republic (both of which were once refereed to as the island of Hispaniola in those days), Cuba, and the Bahamas. In fact, during the Columbus conquest, a young priest from Spain who was present at the time named Bartolome de las Casas, gives a very unique report on what happened. His account is so chilling that I will give you a few passages to consider:

… Two of these so-called Christians met two Indian boys one day, each carrying a parrot; they took the parrots and for fun beheaded the boys…

… mountains are stripped from top to bottom and bottom to top a thousand times; they dig, split rocks, move stones, and carry dirt on their backs to wash it in rivers, while those who was gold stay in the water all the time with their backs bent so constantly it breaks them; and when water invades the mines, the most arduous task of all is to dry the mines by scooping up pansful of water and throwing it up outside…

After each six or eight month’s work in the mines, which was the time required of each crew to dig enough gold for melting, up to a third of the men died. While the men were sent many miles away to the mines, the wives remained to work the soil, forced into the excruciating job of digging and making thousands of hills for cassava plants.

Thus husbands and wives were together only once every eight or ten months and when they met they were so exhausted and depressed on both sides… they ceased to procreate. As for the newly born, they died early because their mothers, overworked and famished, had no milk to nurse them, and for this reason, while I was in Cuba, 7,000 children died in three months. Some mothers even drowned their babies from sheer desperation… In this way, husbands died in the mines, wives died at work, and children died from lack of milk… .and in a short time this land which was great, so powerful, so fertile… was depopulated… My eyes have seen these acts so foreign to human nature, and now I tremble as I write…

Funny how they never mentioned that in 3rd grade when I was making stupid Thanksgiving ornaments.

Of course the story continues, millions of indigenous people die in the Americas, and today we have McDonalds and the Super Bowl. Don’t get me wrong, I love the United States and all its flaws very much. But it breaks my heart to think of the atrocities against mankind and the environment that we have been committing on this great land since the Europeans settled here.  For a “civilized” people, those Europeans were a bunch of money hungry, blood thirsty, Godless savages and it is unfortunate that many of their severe character flaws still linger on in society today.

You can’t change history but at least it should be fairly represented. Knowing what I know now, I cannot let my son grow up thinking that Christopher Columbus was some noble adventurer who discovered America. The truth is, he was none of that. He was Hitler with a sail boat. I just thought you should know.

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Forget the iPad, I’ll take one of these!

8 Jun

Look at what one German company is on the prowl trying to make:

The Gulf: Long on Oil, Short on Expertise

7 Jun

“The uncertainty surrounding the future of drilling is no small concern in a region so heavily dependent on the oil industry.” -The Washington Post, June 6, 2010

Seth: Few things are certain about the disaster (#1) that occurred at Deepwater Horizon. There was an explosion (#2), 11 workers were killed (#3), the oil rig sank with 700,000 gallons of diesel fuel on board (#4), and there is oil leaking from the well, about a mile underwater (#5). What caused the explosion and how much oil is leaking are important unanswered questions that pale in comparison to the question of the solution. Not much is known about drilling for oil at such depths; you can say BP is among the pioneers in the field. By the grace of God, disasters comparable to Deepwater Horizon are rare. However, as we all know, this blessing is the central reason BP has not been able to implement a solution thus far.  The latest attempt, a containment cap (think of an inverted funnel) is capturing about 10,000 barrels (420,000 gallons) of oil daily, which is estimated to be between forty and eighty per cent of the leak. The obvious problem with that estimate notwithstanding, the sheer numbers involved in this disaster are hard to wrap my head around. Take these official government numbers, as of June 5:

  • More than 20,000 personnel are currently responding to protect the shoreline and wildlife and cleanup vital coastlines. 
  • More than 2,600 vessels are responding on site, including skimmers, tugs, barges, and recovery vessels to assist in containment and cleanup efforts—in addition to dozens of aircraft, remotely operated vehicles, and multiple mobile offshore drilling units.
  • Approximately 15.2 million gallons of an oil-water mix have been recovered.
  • 125 controlled burns have been conducted, efficiently removing a total of more than 3.2 million gallons of oil from the open water in an effort to protect shoreline and wildlife.

Considering this enormous response, and the fact the that oil is still getting the best of us should shed light on the vast problem we face. Consensus is, that our best chance for a fix won’t come until August, when two relief wells should be able to plug the leak with cement. Truthfully, I didn’t get a real perspective on the leak until I saw the following pictures:

You can find more pictures here

You can find the government’s timeline of its own response here

This diagram from the Wall Street Journal breaks down the efforts to stop the leak:

There has also been controversy surrounding the Obama administration’s decision to halt all offshore drilling. This six month moratorium was put in place amid public protest concerning lax regulation from the Minerals Management Service, the government branch overseeing offshore drilling. Since that time, others have been clamoring for the moratorium to be lifted, as the oil industry supports more than 40,000 workers in the gulf area. Tomorrow’s edition of the Wall Street Journal reports that President Obama and the Department of the Interior will be releasing new safety regulations to allow for offshore drilling and exploration in shallow water. The moratorium on deepwater activity is not being reconsidered, even with the public’s outcry.

At the end of the day, this is an unbelievable situation that no one was prepared for. The more educated about this I become, the less hopeful I am for a positive resolution. This disaster will forever change the environmental and quality-of-life conditions for those living or working in the Gulf region, and beyond. The federal government truly seems to be responding as quickly and intelligently as possible; I have to give them the benefit of the doubt. However the magnitude of what they are dealing with far outweighs the available expertise.

Going forward, this should be a tremendous learning experience. Hopefully, progressive legislation concerning energy policy is on the horizon. That’s truly the best result we can hope from this mess.

President Obama’s Commencement Speech – Hampton University

7 Jun

Seth: President Obama touches on a variety of important issues in this speech to the graduates of Hampton University. Education is emancipation.

Can I Push Amerie A Little More

31 May

Ray: You’re supposed to buy albums made by the people you want to continue to make albums. Get me? That’s why I feel the need to push Amerie. If you read this blog (not sure why you would), you would know that I’ve been a huge supporter of hers since day -1. That means I knew about her before any radio station chose to play her music.

As of now, she’s on album #4. The problem is, I don’t think too many people are buying her music. And it’s not because she sucks. I blame it on the marketing plan and not touring with the right people. But the fact of the matter is that if you appreciate GREAT R&B like I do, then you’ll probably love Amerie.

When I describe her to people, I always say that she’s SWV wrapped into one person. Not only is she outrageously beautiful, but her powerful voice and hip hop influenced rhythm is a diamond in the rough when compared to modern R&B. I believe in good music, not gimmicks. I wanted to play a few of my favorite tracks but I have so many that it’s hard to pick. Amerie is the real deal and here’s a reminder of why you should buy her s$%t.

Falling:

Float:

That’s What You Are:

The BP Oil Spill Shows America’s True Enemy

30 May

Ray: By now, everyone in the world is aware of the mega-disaster oil spill caused by British Petroleum in the gulf of Mexico. United States President Barack Obama has had his hands tied trying to deal with the problem. All of the technology in the world and all of the brightest engineers can’t seem to figure out how to stop an estimated 210,000 gallons of oil a day (according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) from being pumped into the gulf.

This oil spill will prove to have an extremely negative impact on the environment for decades and possibly for generations to come. In other words, this is nothing to dismiss as just another thing in the news. Compound the ecological ramifications of this oil spill with the fact that BP has not been forthcoming with information and the United States government had been corrupt in its dealings with big oil companies and you will easily ascertain that big oil companies are designed to destroy humanity. I would take it a step further and argue that the existence of big business in general means death and despair for the human race.

What has become clear over the past few centuries is that corporate entities exists with the sole purpose of keeping themselves alive. To do that, they will conduct business practices that are detrimental to everyone, including the humans who run these companies. For this reason, I am unsure as to why the founders of this great nation chose to treat corporations as individuals when they instinctively act in a way to destroy real people. This should be considered one of the many original flaws of the constitution and should be changed to reflect the true nature of corporations.

Further evidence of big business acting contrary the best interest of real people can also be seen in the financial sector where large banks chose to underwrite risky investments which ultimately lead to millions of people losing their homes, jobs, and any chance at providing a secure future for their children. Big business literally took away people’s rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.  Instead, many are left angry, confused, and have lost trust that their federal government can and will look out for their best interests. I would argue that because of the way governments treat corporations, there’s no way they can look out for the best interests of real people. This can be best summed in the Bible where Jesus explains that “No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other.” It is obvious who our government loves and who it despises.

If my position sounds anti-free market, then I would like to question your definition of “free market”. Is a free market one in which big companies pay lawyers millions of dollars to lobby elected officials for beneficial laws, tax breaks, and rights to conduct business when and where they probably shouldn’t? Is a free market one in which large banks which are entrusted by the public to protect savings are allowed to gamble the publics money away and then charge the federal government for the bill? Is a free market one in which big business pays off  countries around the world for the ability to unmercifully pollute the environment while creating products?  That is not the free market at all. That is corruption. Our federal government has failed us at every level from protecting us from out biggest enemy; big business.

The war on terrorism should come second to the war on big business. If we as a nation don’t do more to protect ourselves from corporate interests, then you can expect more disasters that will quickly destroy out environment. You can expect more financial system failures in which millions lose their retirement savings, homes, and jobs. There is absolutely nothing wrong with the idea of exchanging currency for goods and services. I believe that business run correctly will be rewarded with customers. What I hope to see changed is how the federal government allows business to bully its citizens and rape us of our land and treasure.

I urge President Obama to take a stance and defend us from big business. Bin Laden didn’t raise unemployment to extraordinarily high levels. Bin Laden didn’t leave middle America on the brink of financial ruin. Bin laden didn’t dump millions of gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, destroying millions of animals as it spreads. Please recognize who our real enemies are and change the rules that allow them to hurt us.

How to Fail a Test with Dignity.

13 May

Ray: My friends know that I’m studying for the LSAT right now and I’m not afraid to do horrible. To that degree, I have been given the following images as inspiration on how to go down in flames, the right way.