Thursday, September 22, 2011

Maybe the media got lost on the way to "Occupy Wall Street"

It looks like "Occupy Wall Street" has been stone-walled by mainstream media -- they're not talking about it! Or perhaps the event is in such a remote and unknown corner of the US that even the most intrepid news team and camera crew cannot find their way there. Maybe. Or perhaps mainstream media has lost its heart, no longer reporting truthful and relevant news, and merely functions as a machine. Perhaps. In fact, one radio talk show host has denounced "Occupy Wall Street" as a futile effort, and this come from someone who touts herself as a liberal talk show host. Interesting. The worst yet: maybe they don't care. Truly, money is the root of all evil. If uses wisely and without greed, money can do a lot of good; but if it's driven by selfish desires and solely for personal gain, then it can create hell on Earth. 

It is high time that the common folk takes action. No matter how minute that act, it will create a ripple effect that reaches out and connects with the heart of the world, the heart of a compassionate humanity. 

Direct from the front line, A Message from Occupy Wall Street:
This is the fifth communiqué from the 99 percent. We are occupying Wall Street.
On September 21st, 2011, Troy Davis, an innocent man, was murdered by the state of Georgia. Troy Davis was one of the 99 percent.
Ending capital punishment is our one demand.
On September 21st, 2011, the richest 400 Americans owned more wealth than half of the country's population.
Ending wealth inequality is our one demand.
On September 21st, 2011, four of our members were arrested on baseless charges.
Ending police intimidation is our one demand.
On September 21st, 2011, we determined that Yahoo lied about being in spam filters.
Ending corporate censorship is our one demand.
On September 21st, 2011, roughly eighty percent of Americans thought the country was on the wrong track.
Ending the modern gilded age is our one demand.
On September 21st, 2011, roughly 15% of Americans approved of the job Congress was doing.
Ending political corruption is our one demand.
On September 21st, 2011, roughly one sixth of Americans did not have work.
Ending joblessness is our one demand.
On September 21st, 2011, roughly one sixth of America lived in poverty.
Ending poverty is our one demand.
On September 21st, 2011, roughly fifty million Americans were without health insurance.
Ending health-profiteering is our one demand.
On September 21st, 2011, America had military bases in around one hundred and thirty out of one hundred and sixty-five countries.
Ending American imperialism is our one demand.
On September 21st, 2011, America was at war with the world.
Ending war is our one demand.
On September 21st, 2011, we stood in solidarity with Madrid, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Madison, Toronto, London, Athens, Sydney, Stuttgart, Tokyo, Milan, Amsterdam, Algiers, Tel Aviv, Portland and Chicago. Soon we will stand with Phoenix, Montreal, Cleveland and Atlanta. We're still here. We are growing. We intend to stay until we see movements toward real change in our country and the world.
You have fought all the wars. You have worked for all the bosses. You have wandered over all the countries. Have you harvested the fruits of your labors, the price of your victories? Does the past comfort you? Does the present smile on you? Does the future promise you anything? Have you found a piece of land where you can live like a human being and die like a human being? On these questions, on this argument, and on this theme, the struggle for existence, the people will speak. 
Note: For the complete message, please visit Occupy Wall Street's website.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Walking down memory lane: teacher's expectations

I was re-reading one of the books on classroom management and when I came to the part about teacher's expectation, an old memory from high school resurfaced. When I was in the 10th grade, my family moved to a different town and I was transferred to a new high school. The guidance counselor placed me in AP History, telling me that it was a special class, handpicked by the teacher, but since my grades from my other school showed that I can handle the challenge, she had decided to place me in his class. I didn't think anything about it.

On my first day of class, the first thing the teacher conveyed to me, in front of the whole class, was that he didn't choose me to be in his classroom since all of his students were special. Imagine how I'd felt: he was saying in so many words that I didn't belong there. Two days later, we had a test and I scored a 98, the highest in the class. Imagine his surprise. The students' attitude toward me changed, because the attitude of the teacher also changed: he praised me and complimented me for doing so well having only been in the class for a few days. 

He turned out to be a not-so-bad teacher who did care for his students. Regardless, had I been someone less capable, or had I gave in to his low expectation of me, or had low self-esteem, and ended up doing poorly in his class -- my entire year in his class would have been a disaster for my personal development. Who knows what kind of emotional scars I would have had of that incident. Even now, even though I did well in the class I aced it, I still remembered the incident, over 20 years later.

Teachers are the beacons of hope and light for students -- how we guide them will shape and mold them for the rest of their lives. 

Friday, September 9, 2011

Sustainable Eating

A great article by Bill Gee on vegetarianism. Click here for the full article.

Sustainable Eating Part 2: Vegetarian Awareness Month

There is little doubt about it that Americans are addicted to meat, and the evidence is overwhelming that a diet high in animal products is not only bad for your health but it is also bad for the environment. As a person who has not eaten meat for five years, I can tell you firsthand how difficult it is to explain to non-vegetarians the benefits of changing their diets, but getting people to actually consider changing their behavior is like trying to convince a nicotine addict to stop smoking or a alcoholic to stop drinking.

Sustainable Barbeque?
Nathan Myhrvold recently wrote an article for Bloomberg regarding Texan’s love of Barbeque. His headline says it all, “Texas’s Cult of Smoke”. At first glance you might assume that the article will be pointing out the insanity in cutting down acres of mesquite hardwood in order to feed the “eternal fire” at Smitty’s Market in Lowell Texas, but there is hardly a discouraging word in the entire article. The article even points out how bad the beans are so that customers are encouraged to eat more meat like that's a good thing!
In preparing this article, I found it extremely discouraging to not find any articles or studies that evaluated the environmental impact of the cult of barbeque beyond the benefits of propane verses charcoal. Have we become so addicted to the practice that even organizations like the Sierra Club are more content to seek a compromise with long-time barbeque fans rather than pointing out the fact that America’s barbeque and meat habit is destroying natural habitat, polluting the air, reducing the water table, and increasing our healthcare costs at the same time?

Failed Vegetarians
The reason why most people stop eating a vegetarian diet is because they simply don’t know how to eat a diet without meat in it. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve met people who have told me that they tried eating a vegetarian diet, but they got tired of eating salads all the time, and they couldn’t stand the fact that they didn’t have a lot of energy. There is a myth among meat eaters that a vegetarian diet is simply a normal diet without the meat. That instead of a 10-ounce porterhouse and a side of (mostly untouched) greens, the vegetarians will just go for the greens and leave the table hungry.
When I first began eating a mostly vegetarian diet, I cannot tell you how many people told me that my new diet would actually be BAD for my health! At the time, I was overweight, I had Stage One Hypertension, my cholesterol was slipping into the danger zone, and I was often tired, moody, and I was passing kidney stones every other month. In other words, at 35 years-old, I was falling into a high-risk group for a heart attack, stroke, colon cancer, and renal failure, yet my friends and family simply assumed that my diet had nothing to do with that!

Since changing my diet, my blood pressure is under control, my cholesterol is manageable, I have plenty of energy, I’m more productive than ever and I haven’t passed a kidney stone in four years.

Vegetarian Etiquette
A word of warning about taking the pledge: it won’t be easy. When I first made the change to my diet, I cannot tell you how many times I was hanging out with friends and finding there was very little for me to eat. There was one time when I attended a banquet where there was absolutely nothing on the menu I could eat as even the salad and the dinner rolls contained meat. At a family picnic, the only thing I could eat was an ear of corn and hamburger bun. (My family didn’t even bother packing lettuce and tomatoes for their burgers)
Today, rather than depend on my friends and family to prepare enough food for me to be satisfied, I bring my own “main course”. If I’m going to a picnic, I take along a couple of mushroom burgers. If I’m going to a dinner where I know my choices are likely to be limited, I eat before I arrive, or if the meal is “potluck”, I’m sure to bring something that I’ll be able to eat and I know others are likely to enjoy as well.

The one thing you should never do is wear your vegetarianism on your shoulder like a newfound religion. You will never be able to convince anyone to change their diets or improve their health by being an ass about it.

Cold Turkey
In conclusion, in the spirit of doing something good for yourself and the rest of the world, consider taking the pledge next month to eat a vegetarian diet. Do it for a day, or try it for the entire month. As long as you plan your meals carefully, you won’t starve. Being a vegetarian doesn’t mean you’re eating nothing but salads all day. It’ll surprise you how much good food loaded with easily digestible fats and protein is out there.
There may come a time within our lifetimes when sustainable, mostly vegetarian eating will become a necessity, so why not give it a try right now? Your body and your community may thank you for it.