The Moon’s My Teacher and I’m Her Student

November 12, 2011

I know I think about it a lot, but I don’t think I’ve ever posted about this before: my beef with Teach for America and Peace Corps. I have a variety of friends who’ve done them/are doing them, and I certainly considered it for a while. But eventually I realized that I would never accomplish what really needs to be accomplished by doing either of them.

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Everything is So Wrong

October 4, 2011

Hi. I have to talk about the Occupy Wall Street protests. I didn’t want to because I don’t want to give them any more attention, but I just have to.

First, I want to post an image of what the latest headlines are for BBC (the international news source I respect and go to):

oh look! Kim Jong-Il's grandson has a Facebook! That's big news.

I scrolled down a little just to make sure:

Looks like pale people need to spend more time in the sun.

Do you see Wall Street protests anywhere in there? In case you can’t read the screenshot, the answer is no. They’re somewhere on the website, yes, but it’s certainly not as newsworthy as, say, the protests in Syria or apparently the announcement of the iPhone 5. (This, I’m sure, is another reason OWS is against the corporatocracy, which they all tweet on their iPhones.) Nowhere on the website says what they want to achieve, no goals listed, no demands. There are some supporters who have suggested demands, but the organization will not ask for anything. If you have no end goal, then what the fuck are you doing?

Before I really get started, I wanted to address the idea that this is has been compared to the events taking place in the Middle East, specifically Tahrir Square in Cairo, Egypt. Sure, if you really want to make the argument, our democracy has become a bit of a corporatocracy. But do you know what was going on in Egypt? Mubarak had been in power for 30 years, assuming power after Sadat was assassinated. The disparity between the rich 1% in Egypt versus the other 99% is that the 99% in Egypt lives on less than the 99% here in the US. Up until January 25, people were afraid to say anything against Mubarak and the government. Here we constantly hear, see, and read a variety of opinions about our government on every media platform possible. And haven’t you noticed that there’s been absolutely no media allowed to cover the Syrian protests for months? Do not compare the occupation of Wall street to the revolutions in the Middle East.

My first suggestion: take all your money out of the major banks – Bank of America, Chase, Wells Fargo – and invest with smaller community banks and credit unions. How many people “occupying” these cities have accounts with these banks? You really want to bring down the corporatocracy? Stop feeding it money. In case you haven’t noticed, this is something I’ve been preaching for a very, very long time. I’ll address you more directly: Dear Occupy Wall Street, please march to the nearest BofA, Chase, and/or Wells Fargo, and have everyone close their accounts with these banks.

Also, why is it that they’re so willing to accept donated food? If the occupiers want to fight the system, why not buy food from smaller restaurants in the area? Even from NYC chains? Why ask people to buy you food and send it to you? Most likely people will buy you cheap food, which is processed by the big chains. And furthermore, why aren’t you personally stimulating the economy? If you want to change the system, why not do it with your dollar? Clearly you do not understand the language of corporatocracy.

I think one of the best illustrations of what I’m trying to tell you is this documentary Beer Wars. 95% of the beer industry is dominated by the 3 major corporations: Coors, Miller, and Anheuser-Busch. Even the precious “working class” Pabst Blue Ribbon is owned by Miller. The film is all about being an informed consumer. So what are you doing on Wall street? Are you telling people how to invest their money? Are you informing them of the power of their dollar? No. You’re camping out on the streets and not contributing to the economy.

Do something productive, or is that too square for you?

UPDATE 10/5/11: I’ve been proven wrong. BBC thinks that the Wall Street march is almost as important as Steve Jobs’s death.

there it is.


Burn It To The Ground

July 6, 2011

Many of my friends have told me that, after hearing me talk about Bond Community Federal Credit Union, they want to join. I figure that maybe I should say something here, especially since I’ve been reminded I haven’t posted in a while. Thanks guys. Keep in mind though, I almost always have something to say about food, so don’t forget about my cooking blog: Cooking with Class.

Back in the day I applied for a credit card with Bond FCU. The loan officer called me a few days later to say all was good and I’d receive my card in the following days. A month or two later I saw that the interest rates for used car loans dropped. I went into the bank, and while I was making my deposit, I asked about the loans. The nice teller behind the little wooden teller window/desk said I could speak with Chris right then and there. Chris is the only one in charge of loans (so it seems). I went into his office, and he spent a good half an hour explaining auto loans to me. All the information he gave me pertained to me. He remembered who I was, what my situation is, and what my job is. And at the end of the conversation, I felt much more well-informed, but not pressured to apply for a loan immediately.

In case you’ve never heard me talk about the Move Your Money movement, here’s a short video they made a few years ago to encourage people to leave big banks:

All in all, I love walking into a bank that has rocking chairs, wooden chairs at the teller window, an annual member fiesta, and staff who remember me. If you have the opportunity to join a local bank or credit union, do it NOW. Take your money out of evil banks like Chase and Bank of America and support your community!


We Are Taking Over (Get Used to It)

February 26, 2011

Yesterday I was really thinking about the immigrant population. The people who own the Package Store in Little 5 Points are Asian. (Chinese or Korean? Not sure.) Seeing them makes me think “Of course Asians would invest in a liquor store in this neighborhood. It’s a steady business.” And it finally hit me that, other than Mexicans, Asians make up a decent number of illegal immigrants in this country. Does this occur to everyone else? Have I just completely missed that these past few years?

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Everybody Hurts Sometimes

November 12, 2010

Whenever I talk about finances and education with people, I always bring up the allowance my parents gave me when I was younger. My allowance started at $6, and it was divided into three piggy banks: spending, savings, and giving. Each week I’d get $2 that I could spend on anything I wanted, whenever I wanted (which I could also save up if I wanted to). My savings piggy bank was for something big, like buying a Madame Alexander doll or a Gameboy pocket. And last but certainly not least, my giving piggy bank was for the holidays when we would buy toys or food to be donated to Viola Blythe, a local community service center.

The lesson I immediately grasped was that it was important to save, and I couldn’t buy anything if I didn’t have the money in my piggy banks. The lesson I just realized five minutes ago was that it’s also important to set aside money to donate, and not just around the holidays. I remember I used to volunteer at Viola Blythe at least once a month because, as my dad put it, people need food all year round. The workers there used to complain about the sudden surge of people wanting to help out around Thanksgiving and Christmas. As much as they appreciated the intentions, they would ask them “Why don’t you volunteer at other times during the year?”

So while I’m giving you this message at the beginning of the holiday season, just please keep in mind that this isn’t the only time you should donate food or blankets or toilet paper. Try to make an effort to donate something year-round, whether it be canned food, a warm coat, cold hard cash, or your time. There are always people out there who need help.


Our Common Goal

August 29, 2010

I’ve read a few articles on the SpouseBUZZ blog about military partner life, and this article about families being “whiners” really caught my eye. (And this article about a family forced to leave their home the moment the husband deployed, but that’s for another post.) One of the main points she touches on is the fact that so many people in this country seem removed from war. And this is why I believe the Wikileak was so important. For some reason, we all stopped being angry about the invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan. And by “we” I mean the civilian population.

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Ramblin’ On My Mind

March 1, 2010

I’ve been following this thread on Change.org about an undocumented student and her experience in the United States. The post is in honor of the DREAM act week of action. I’ve talked about my own complicated views on immigration law and immigrant rights, and this thread is just a continuation.

The question in this thread seems to be about the law and the money. It’s sad that we can’t seem to have a discussion about basic human rights without talking about economics and taxes. I get it. While Andrea’s family paid taxes, I’m sure there are plenty of illegal families who don’t. And I hear the argument “Why don’t they become citizens?”, which is another point I used to agree with.

How easy is it to acquire citizenship? And how much does it cost? And can you apply in languages other than English? It’s not easy. It’s not cheap. And you need to know English. We don’t seem to make it easy, so how can you expect that a girl who just turned 18 would have the resources to become a citizen?

The other point that someone brought up was: “People in this country that are here illegally don’t have rights (except human rights)….plain and simple!” Except human rights? So which rights don’t illegal aliens have? (Someone replied to my reply to generously inform me that the UN doesn’t create laws other countries have to follow, which is, of course, something I am well aware of.) It’s just not a statement I understand, and if you do, please explain it to me.

These issues really come down to simply being American. We’re born with our citizenship. We didn’t work for it (though some of us did). We benefit from taxes because we happened to be born here. How does that make us any more worthy than the people who’ve worked and lived here as long as they can remember? We take citizenship and nationality for granted. I think this video by a girl who went to Haiti (before the earthquake) explores how spoiled we are, and how citizenship and nationality is most definitely a human right:


Save It For A Rainy Day

December 14, 2009

Originally I was going to post about abortion and the public option, but I realized I ranted about that a couple posts ago. Instead I want to talk about a conversation I had with a manfriend of mine.

He goes to West Point and studies economics, so already this is a difficult argument for me to have. (Really smart people get me every time.) We were talking about public school funding, and I asked why doesn’t the government put money into schools in middle- and low-income areas, instead of prisons. His response, while he says he doesn’t necessarily agree with it, was that there is a greater return on schools in high-income areas and building the prisons.

That makes me physically ill. That can’t possibly be true. Is it really more sustainable to put people in prison rather than educate them? I’ve heard the arguments about education being a “white” thing; people in middle- and low-income areas don’t value education as much; and money that has been invested in middle- and low-income schools has not had a great return.

I say it’s a load of crap. It’s like people who argue that human rights are a “Western” idea. You don’t think non-Western people have a concept of what is right and what is wrong? Saying that not investing in some people is economical is wrong. It just can’t be true. I can’t believe that putting money into prisons is better in the long run than investing in schools.

And to be completely honest, can someone please show me studies on this? I want to know how people justify this.


We Are Building A Religion

November 29, 2009

For anyone who doesn’t already know, Switzerland voted and passed a ban on the construction of minarets. But thankfully Justice Minister Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf  “[reassured] Swiss Muslims, saying the decision was ‘not a rejection of the Muslim community, religion or culture.'” Then what kind of decision was it, Ms. Widmer-Schlumpf? It’s kind of like that time France banned headscarves because they were oppressive to women.

I was going to write something facetious about how progressive the European countries are with all this religious tolerance, but I really can’t. It’s just ridiculous. Why do states take it upon themselves to integrate/isolate religions into their societies? I’m not particularly pleased with how the U.S. runs things, but at least policies and laws don’t directly address religious practices. The biggest issue I remember was a few years ago when a Muslim woman wanted to get her driver’s license, but the DMV would not take her picture unless her face and hair were uncovered.

And sure, religion has played a huge role in preventing laws regarding gay marriage and abortion, but I truly believe that when it comes down to the wire, religious definitions and ideals will not stop human rights and law from developing. And in turn, law should not stop religion. If someone wants to build a minaret, how does that encourage extremist ideals? How does the prevention of minaret construction encourage religious tolerance?

I just don’t get it. And to be perfectly honest, I’m disappointed to see a woman be a spokesperson for this.


It’s A Long Way To Go

October 18, 2009

I had a great conversation with a friend last night about the effects of public and higher education. He grew up with friends in the Lower East Side, and was arguing that some people just shouldn’t be forced to go to school. If they aren’t motivated, and if they have no interest, they shouldn’t be forced to go to school, let alone college. He kept using the word mentality, and that you can’t change their mentality. Instead, he offers “real life experience” as an alternative to school. He believes they should be allowed to join the work force as soon as possible, and that they can receive just as sufficient of an education that way.

To some extent, I agree. Some people just aren’t fit to spend four more years at college right out of high school. Some people aren’t fit to go to college ever. I’m sure that’s partly why it’s not required by law. But I do want to point out that primary and secondary education is required until 10th grade. During that time, especially elementary school, children are greatly shaped by their educational experience.

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