Word Crimes

Rosencrantz: What are you playing at?
Guildenstern: Words, words. They’re all we have to go on.
           Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead

She chastised me because I used a word. She told me a person cannot be Oriental, since it is degrading. I was out of the loop, I did not know. The preferred word is Asian, a person can be an Asian.

What’s in a word? It helps us communicate and limits our communication at the same time. It can be artificial, complex and ever-changing. There is heaven and hell in those words. Take pleasure in its playfulness and beauty. Find frustration when communication fails.

In Latin, orient simply means east. That was the origin of the word and the end of it became insulting. Evidently people from Asia don’t call themselves Oriental, and it’s best to call people the name that they prefer. I learned that calling a person Oriental is an antiquated term that calls to mind a time when Western peoples viewed Asians in a subordinate way.

So Asian or Asian-American is preferred. And so is African-American. Say Native-American instead of American Indian. An Indian is actually an Asian. We end up chasing our tails.

This whole idea of hyphenating Americans is a bit odd to me since hyphenation carries its own inherent flaws.

The word America is named after Amerigo Vespucci. An Italian explorer, Amerigo stumbled upon what is now part of Brazil. An early mapmaker decided to name this part of the world America after this Amerigo guy and plunked that label onto his map. Soon other mapmakers started to label the lands north of Brazil as America also. So by chance, the continents were called North and South America.

So where does this leave hyphenated Americans? You give up the words like Oriental and Black in exchange for the name of a dead-white man that poked his nose into an indigenous population beyond his own borders. I don’t see a vast improvement. Other words such as black, white, red, and yellow also fail to accurately describe human beings.

The West creates more word crimes than anyone else. Through a modern political lens, Western civilization has a name, and that name is evil. The word and the land America may find itself in jeopardy.

Native-Americans crossed into the the Americas about 25,000 years ago; relative newcomers to this land since humans first appeared on the planet about 160,000 years ago in East Africa.

In more realistic terms, we are all East Africans that have wandered far across the globe. A politically correct analysis: We torment the rest of the animal and plant kingdoms, and tamper with the climate and the earth’s crust. All of humanity is the real evil in this world view. Paradise was lost when humans entered the scene.

The world and the words in it are not perfect and never will be. Can’t we just relax and enjoy our discourse and disagreements without a call to self-flagellation? Do the best we can, do no purposeful harm, and move on. That’s all we have to go on. Go peacefully.

Stardate: 92161.36

An answer to the disproportionate war being waged by Israel against Hamas exists in Star Trek.

Specifically in the 47 -year-old episode called, “A Taste of Armageddon.”

The starship Enterprise carries a diplomat on a mission to a couple of planets, Eminar VII and Vendikar. The entire crew of the ship stumbles into a kill zone near the planets and is declared dead by a computer that carries on a war-simulation program. Everyone on the Enterprise is told that they must begin to enter a “termination booth” that will promptly vaporize them.

This computer-generated war has been waged for over 500 years. Machines indiscriminately select citizens from the two planets, and the rules of war mandate that they must enter the termination booth and die.

Buildings still stand, infrastructure remains intact, blood and body parts don’t litter the ground. If anyone tries to stop the demands of the computer program, real war must start up again.

The computers end up being destroyed at the end of “A Taste of Armageddon,” and the two warring planets decide to negotiate a peace instead of deal with a truly bloody, messy war.

Today the United Nations Human Rights Council believes that Israel’s response to Hamas weaponry should be more proportional. This old Star Trek episode provides a good model for a more proportionate mideast war. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, could even program computers to kill an equal number of people on each side of the war.

This civilized form of warfare is only fair. Navi, switch on your TV, Star Trek holds a sensible answer to your complaint. Or else it opens up a whole new world of absurd. Take your pick.

I Blame My Mother for How I Feel About the Jews

The 78 record was spinning Glenn Miller’s “In the Mood” on the record player. My friend and I just discovered this stash of 78’s in my basement and they were hilarious to us. We made fun of this old music not realizing the connection swing music had to our favorite music, rock and roll.

So “In the Mood” was playing and my mother came in and for some unknown reason started listing great historical and modern problems. She went thought a long list and finally she said, “Do you know who is behind all these problems?” Slight dramatic pause and then she said, “The Jews.”

Glenn Miller just started his loud horn work after a long period of hushed music as she said this. My friend and I laughed our heads off. The music was too funny, and my mother’s comment was so beyond absurd.

How could one group of people be the cause of all the bad stuff that ever happened on earth? Historically, the Jewish people were chased out of every country in the world, and if they were allowed to stay, they were treated like crap. The crap is never ending.

I learned young not to trust my mother’s ideas. She had some crazy ones. So my knee-jerk reaction was to swing (thanks Glenn) to the opposite viewpoint. I’ve been doing this all my life.

I am amazed and horrified by the anti-semetic protests happening in the world right now. Ethnic cleansing is abhorrent to most people, but exceptions are always made in the case of the Jews.

Being Christian is a rough road to travel in large parts of the world too. Killing Christians is also a justifiable act. All you secularists out there, don’t think that you are immune, you just might be on that list too. Where is this thing called civilized society? The dark ages are still with us.

My mother is dead, but the list is alive and well.

The New Cosmos Quandary

I’m hooked on science shows, especially the ones that deal with the creation of the universe. Science fiction is always on my reading list. Yet the new Cosmos television series sticks in my craw.

The cosmic calendar that Neil deGrasse Tyson so dramatically explores for us is riveting. After the Big Bang, human beings appeared on the scene on the last day of the year. Modern man only happened upon the planet during the last 14 seconds. We are so late to arrive to this Big Bang party.

Then Neil begins to state that humankind wields the power to alter the climate of the planet it lives on and that this is important. The machines we build, the power we use, will destroy the planet unless we change our ways.

But Neil, think of what your show brings to light. Even if humankind is the sole force of climate change, does it really matter if humans change their ways or not? Worse case scenario, most forms of life on the planet die. Did you not show us innumerable other planets in the universe with infinite possibilities of lifeforms on them? So earth loses most of its living creatures, aside from cockroaches perhaps, why is this such a monumental loss to the universe? You just brought us into focus with infinity, so who cares about the last 14 seconds?

Mankind built a now crumbling Stonehenge over five thousand years ago (or seconds ago depending on how you view it). The Great Wall of China got its start nearly 25 hundred years ago and has never been fully intact. Both castles and nuclear reactors will succumb to a heap of dust. In the grand scheme of the cosmos, everything we do is so insignificant and fragile. The earth will move on with us or without us, unless we are successful in blowing it up. Then the universe, considering its vastness, may not miss one measly planet.

In the scope of the new Cosmos series, why is climate change such a big deal? To me, that came out of left field.  The series dwells on the insignificance of mankind as it relates to the universe.

The very premise of the Cosmos series negates the consequence of a climate change focal point. Unless . . .  is there a god on our side tipping the balance? Nah, that can’t be it.

What motivates the creators?

 

 

 

 

 

To Deny Is Science: Climate Change

I love science. Even though I studied literature in college, I’ve always love to read about and watch shows about science. Some of my favorite writers wrote in the 19th century, a time when people found a greater freedom to explore science with a lesser chance of getting burnt at the stake or beheaded. A lot of the literature of this time period discussed and criticized the scientific sphere.

I believe in the theory of evolution. I believe in the big bang theory. And I am open to modifications or invalidations of scientific theories. That’s the way science works, so I thought. Science is always up to be challenged.

Issac Newton presented theories that were proven wrong at a later date. So did Einstein. Scientific theories get torn apart to see if they can stand.

So I am disheartened to hear President Obama and his administration assert that “climate change is real” and all discussion is closed. That ceases to be science and starts to become a weird sort of dogma.

Why won’t the believers in man-made climate change debate people that do not buy into this theory wholeheartedly? Scientist vs. scientist. Let there be a free-flowing discussion and experimentation.

The man-made climate change believers are veering onto a pathway to anti-science. Something smells rotten in government. Build upon knowledge, do not create a 21st century Western version of the Islamic Four Great Doctors from the 13th century. I’ve developed a taste for freedom. Let’s be free to think.

Worth a Hill of Beans

For about four or five minutes now the teacher spoke of lofty ideals and grand humanitarian goals.

World peace. End to war and hunger. Equality and fairness. Trust one another. Diversity appreciation. Stop prejudice. A fair legal system.

Then he suddenly stopped and looked at the whole class. He said, “Let’s not fool ourselves, in the end all we really care about is our next can of beans.”

It was an abrupt turnabout. Pragmatism wins over platitudes.

My cousin graduated from high school and expected to get a good-paying job at an auto factory, the same way that his father and grandfather did. By the time he was looking for work, those jobs were gone. He meandered around doing odd jobs that never panned out to full-time careers. He ended up getting killed by being in the wrong place at the wrong time during a drug deal in Detroit.

The economy is global, no longer can autoworkers in Detroit say buy only American-made cars. If your neighbor works for a Nissan plant, why shouldn’t he buy a car from the company that pays him a living wage? A low-skill, high paying manufacturing job is nearly extinct, so grab what you can.

America was on top for too long. Now it is time for her to suffer. Most of the world root for our suffering and demise. Americans must get used to a lower standard of living. The politicians should stop spouting lies. More jobs may never come. The global economy levels off the playing field and those on top will slide ever farther down.

So much for the average worker. Don’t forget to fleece the rich bastards. The Wall Street bankers, CEOs, sports figures, and those in the entertainment industry for starters.

Though I do admire the skills of Alan Mulally and how he managed Ford and other businesses so well that jobs were preserved and the companies prospered. Kim Kardashian makes money off her big butt. I’m sick of people admiring her more than effective leaders in the business world that are only demonized.

But I forget, capitalism is evil.

Now how to take away the money from the very rich around the world? Any ideas? Put a cap on all income? Raid bank accounts? Open up mansions to house the people? Oprah tell us what to do. You can start with throwing your cans of beans into the pile.

 

 

 

 

Racism and the White Woman, 2

I’m from Detroit. A writer of a recent Detroit newspaper article would argue with me on this point since I never actually lived on any street within the city. I am a phony because I only lived near the city of Detroit.

When I lived in Warren, Michigan, I could look across 8 Mile and see Detroit from my kitchen window. (No, I do not hang out with Sarah Palin.)

Before that, I lived in Hamtramck a couple of blocks from the Detroit city limit. Hamtramck is a small city that is completely surrounded by Detroit.

The street I lived on in Hamtramck created and at the same time broke down some racial barriers. I lived on one side of the street where all the houses were occupied by white people. Across the street, all the houses were occupied by black people. Divided right down the middle. At the age of four, all the white and black people sitting on their front porches sort of looked the same to me.

One of my first observations of racism took place in the women’s clothing section of a department store. I was with my mother and grandmother. Two teenage girls debated over the monumental decision of which blouse they should buy.

My grandmother spoke in Polish to my mother, “Just look at that, black people are shopping here!” Her words implied that these black teenagers should be banned from certain places and activities. This is the first time I remember being fed a racist thought.

This was the late 1950’s and within a few years all the houses on my divided street were torn down. The dismantling continued into the 1960’s.