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.

Sick Beats

January 25, 2011

I can’t help but watch this video and say “I know where that is! I’ve been there! I walked down that street! I fucking walked there!” It’s unreal to me that this is happening.

After 20 years of Mubarak’s “presidency,” I have to admit I’m happy to see this. I don’t know when or how this government will improve, but finally the Egyptian people are uniting. (At least, I hope there are Copts out there protesting as well.) After the food riots and the riots after the swine flu, this will hopefully be the beginning of the end. Solidarity, my friends.

Don’t Tell Me What I Can and Can’t Do

November 1, 2010

There are lots of things I want to tell you about, but right now, I have to tell you this: this is the second election I have not been able to vote in because of the Egyptian government.

The first time in 2008, I was studying abroad in Cairo. I asked my mom to forward me my absentee ballot, rather than change my address. I figured that, if I changed my address to Egypt, I’d have to change it back to California, and so I might as well keep my address in California. Well, because the Egyptian postal service is so retarded, I never received my ballot.

Fast forward to October 2010, as I wait to receive my ballot back in California. I never changed my address, and I received a jury summons last winter. I assumed everything was OK, but I was wrong. I called the registrar to ask why I hadn’t received my ballot. Turns out I was designated an “inactive voter.” Inactive? Inactive?! I’m a pretty active person, if I do say so myself. I asked them why on earth they thought I was “inactive.” For some reason the post office returned something to the registrar to say it was undeliverable.

To make a long rant shorter, I’ve concluded that the Egyptian post office opened my mom’s package to make sure there was no porn, saw my ballot, and sent it back to my county’s voting registrar to say it was undeliverable. Instead of contacting me via all the contact information they have on me (phone number, alternative phone number, email), they choose to save money and just assume I’m an inactive voter. There’s no other explanation. I’ve never changed my permanent address in California. I’ve never contacted the registrar for any reason, and they’ve never contacted me (clearly).

Moral of the story: if you want to vote, be more active than you think you should be. The government and the registrar don’t have the energy or the time to make sure you care to vote. Also, FUCK YOU MUBARAK.

Stop Hatin’

August 21, 2009

A friend I met at AUC came to visit me, and we reminisced about our times in Zamalek, drank, ate, and smoked shisha. She showed me an article the Caravan, the school newspaper, had published about the Arab students’ sentiments about the U.S. and Israel. The majority opinion was that 1) Israel has no right to exist; and 2) the U.S. should stop shoving their noses into the Middle East’s business.

Before I begin, I just want to acknowledge that I have very little and limited understanding of any and all Middle Eastern conflicts. (Then again, who doesn’t?) With that said, I think that such statements regarding Israel’s existence are wildly inappropriate. If this is how Arab students in an Arab country feel, shouldn’t they pressure their governments to support the Palestinians, whom they claim are innocent victims of Zionist policies? Last time I checked, almost none of the Arab nations have done anything to help the Palestinians. They recite anti-Israel propaganda, but do little to compromise, or to take in Palestinian refugees.

In terms of Egypt, couldn’t one argue that the Arabs have no right to be there either? I believe the Coptic Christians are the closest relatives of the oldest (and true?) Egyptians. Same for the U.S. It’s been noted many times that the country technically belongs to the Native Americans/Indians. And I don’t think we can easily get started on all of South America. So if you want to argue about who has rights to land, it’s a lost cause.

My other gripe about these arguments is the assumption that Palestinians hate Israel as much as everyone else. When some friends and I visited Hebron and Ram Allah, we asked some people we met how they felt about Israel. While the few people we talked to may not represent all of Palestine, they said that they just want peace. They have no problem with Israel existing, so long as they can visit their families and not be treated as cattle. This seems reasonable, doesn’t it? For someone to ask for peaceful and humane co-existence?

Asking for basic human rights is not a problem. Demanding that an entire country disintegrates is.

To No One In Particular

August 16, 2009

In Cairo, I met this wonderful man named Gamal. A few friends and I became good friends with him. I continue to write him letters, but I don’t know if he receives them. I don’t know if he can afford to write me back. I also can’t call him because I don’t have his phone number. But I tell everyone about him, and if I ever return to Egypt, it will be to see Gamal.

Cody, Mohammed, Gamal, Kurt, and Mohammed's friend at the Blue Mosque

Cody, Mohammed, Gamal, Kurt, and Mohammed's friend at the Blue Mosque

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We Saw the Operation

August 4, 2009

First things first: check out my new blog, Cooking with Class while in Class. I finally started a blog about cooking well on a college budget. I know it’s not unique, but I thought I’d give it a try.

In other news, I started reading Three Cups of Tea. I had read about it on other blogs about international development, and my brother and mother read it, so I thought I’d give it a try. And to be honest, I’m having trouble getting into it (I’m at the 8th chapter). The mountain climbing stuff is cool, but after around 20 pages of it, I wondered if the book was really about building schools. I understand that it’s for character and setting development, but it just seems to take too long. As the book continues, it seems to focus on Mortenson’s personal struggles, but I still don’t feel a connection with him. Mortenson’s character development, his struggles, his thoughts, and his ideas are not illustrated enough for me to care either way.

The community, however, intrigues me. Relin’s description of Korphe – while geographically different – reminds me of my time in Moqattam. The people are marginalized. I doubt the Zabbaleen have a decent education system. I definitely want to read to learn more about the people in Korphe, rather than read about Mortenson’s struggles and past. I’d like to think that someday, someone will be motivated enough to build a school for the Zabbaleen communities.

Perhaps I’m too jaded by my own experiences and reading development blogs to appreciate his story. I already know the general story and his obstacles, but maybe the way his story is told doesn’t grab me. Kudos to him for doing all this work to build schools in rural, ignored regions of Pakistan. But is his story worthy or interesting enough of a whole book?