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America’s Universities Produce Educated Idiots

My best friend, who I’ll call Mac (Makes Assloads of Cash) is a network engineer who plans on getting an MBA.  He has his choice of jobs anywhere in the world and always makes six figures.  He’s also the stupidest person I know.  He knows all there is to know about whatever he does with computers, but otherwise, is completely ignorant in every other way.  He has an atrocious vocabulary and is prone to making up words a la George W., has no knowledge of history, literature, art, philosophy, the major ideas and events that have shaped world development, is totally uncultured, shallow, doesn’t analyze, or reflect.  In short, he is a creature of our higher education system and is a good little brainwashed consumer.  He knows how to make money and spend it and that is the sum of his life.  He is the epitome of the Modern Educated Idiot that our educational system now churns out.

To be fair, that was the way he was when I first met him.  The reason we were able to be friends is that he appreciates the truth and isn’t afraid of criticism.  He’s Indian (dot, not feather) so he’s used to an angry woman yelling at him, criticizing him, and hitting him and was unfazed by my vehement, blunt tirades.  If you give him a good reason, he is more than willing to admit his mistake, which is rare enough, but even more miraculous, would CHANGE!  And although he was ignorant as a stump, he has intellectual curiosity.  Too lazy to read a book, but happy to have someone explain it and be interested.   As for me, although I am harsh and angrily blunt, he respected that all my rants were based on logic and reason.

It’s all those college papers.  For instance-my thesis statement “You are a fucking dumbass!”  Which is then supported by at least three reasons with evidence and examples, followed by “in conclusion” or “therefore”  “You are a fuckwit.”.

On the other hand,  I am the Classic Educated Idiot.  I was a history major who also took a lot of English lit, psychology, sociology, dabbled in drama, art, mythology and folklore.  Yeah, if it’s esoteric and has no practical application, that’s my forte.  I’m the head in the clouds, ivory tower dwelling intellectual academic type.  Everything I learned had nothing to do with the real world and real jobs.  I have no practicality whatsoever, no technical or math ability, lousy spatial relationships, and loathe business and commerce as the venal pursuit of filthy lucre like a cockroach, greedy and rapacious, eating and tainting everything in it’s path.  Of course, I’m poor as ass and have no career as the things I love to do and am good at have no value in this world.  Besides my antipathy, I also have no ability for the things that make money in our society.  Just like athleticism, it takes a certain type of person to have a talent for those things, and I suck at commerce.

So from his education, he initially saw me as a total loser as I wasn’t a career or commercial success and wasn’t rich.  From my educational standpoint, he was a pathetic, soulless, brain dead waste of a meatbag that was barely human.  Ah, the irony that we became besties!  But it works because we are a good yin/yang combination.  He’s good at the things I’m bad at and vice versa and we bolster each other’s weak points and benefit from the other’s strengths.

The problem with our higher education is illustrated by Mac and I representing the extremes in producing graduates and citizens that lack a complete education to create a well-rounded individual that can contribute both humanity and practicality.

Why do you suppose bankers, financiers, and CEOs are such rapacious, greedy monsters with no conscience?  They have no balance, no appreciation for anything besides making money.  If they are taught nothing of the humanities, of course those are the people who will cut funding for any arts programs since they have no appreciation for those things.

If our leaders studied history, perhaps they wouldn’t repeat the glaring mistakes of the past.  “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it” as the saying goes, and our leaders are doing exactly that.  They are looking to make big bucks in the short term without care for the consequences to people or society.  They ignore the fact that all these policies are the same old tools of oppression that caused untold suffering of the masses, and in the end, resulted in revolution of some sort.

If anyone studied history, the direct parallels between the Industrial Revolution and the social and economic conditions during the Gilded Age at the the turn of the century and today’s Technological Revolution are plain to see.   Vast income inequality, power in the hands of the wealthy industrialists that controlled the laws of the government keeping workers subservient and without rights.  The suppression of unions and the ability of workers to organize.  Crony capitalism and the use of government to further the interests of the elite and use of civil and military force against it’s citizens were rampant in 1919.  Check out the history of labor riots, race riots, immigration riots, and the state of America during that time.  As for globalization and exploitation of foreign workers?  Back then it  was known as colonialism.

The decline and fall of the Roman Empire had all the same elements as the conditions America is living with.  Globalization and displaced workers with high unemployment due to cheaper labor sources.  We have outsourcing and offshore companies, they had conquered peoples and slaves-but most of us are nothing but subjugated wage slaves.  The Roman Senate became a corrupt institution run by an oligarchy who took bribes to further the interests of  preserving the obscene wealth and privilege of a minority upper class.  Hmm, we even have the same name for that same corrupt institution-the Senate (gee, what a co winky dink) as well as the House, the Presidency, and an increasingly corrupt Supreme Court where judges hold their position for life.  Supplicants are now Lobbyists.  Rome propagated it’s own mythology as a Republic where all had the rights and privileges of citizens.  America has it’s bullshit Horatio Alger rags to riches mythos of a meritocracy.  Rome provided free bread to the unwashed masses to prevent riots from desperation and hunger.  Every society is three meals away from revolution as the saying goes.  Rome sponsored dazzling spectacles of chariot races, gladiatorial combats, and elaborate productions to keep  the populace distracted.  America has cheap fast food, a token provision of food aid, and the vast circus of the media to keep people beguiled with the trivial, distracted with the sensational, and fed misinformation and propaganda to keep people ignorant, apathetic, and keep voting against their own interests..  Rome had a massive immigration problem and was eventually sacked by pissed off immigrants living on their borders.  Theirs were Germanic, ours are Mexican.

We are constantly hectored to get a college degree.  But realistically, if we all got one, it would be worthless.  I’ve felt for a long time that an undergrad degree is the equivalent of a high school diploma in the 1950’s.  You need the piece of paper that says “I went”, but other than that, it’s worthless.  You can’t apply for a lot of shitty, low wage office jobs without it, but the return isn’t always worth it when the world is flooded by a mandatory degree.  More doesn’t mean better.

Besides, not everyone is suited for college, they don’t have the interest or aptitude for the type of learning and work skills you learn at university.  If everyone went to college, who’s going to build things, fix things, do all the practical labor that needs to be done in the world?  So is the future going to be filled with janitors that all have a college degree?

Universities also need to balance their teaching of humanities and arts with real world practical skills as well.  Absolutely nothing I learned in college is really applicable to real work.  In fact, it’s the opposite.  In college, you are encouraged to think outside of the box, be an individual, take chances, think for yourself, challenge accepted notions.  The real world mostly demands obedience and is totally rigid and you are a prisoner of group think, dumbing everything down to the lowest common denominator working in teams.

Other than going to grad school and becoming a teacher, there are no other outlets for me to use my history degree.  The divide in our educational system which is reflected in the values of our society shows in the type of pay we reward CEOs even when they fail, compared to how much we pay teachers, daycare workers, health workers who take care of people.

Without a venue for higher thinking and encouraging the arts, we are limiting creativity which inhibits new ideas of not only products and services, but for a different way of life altogether besides our slavish devotion to capitalism.  But then again, that’s what they want.  When ideas, principles, philosophy is absent, all that is left is materialism-that which you can see and hold in your hot little hands.  Bereft of higher thinking, we are reduced to mindless animals-consume, buy, own, eat, drink, sleep, fuck.

America has got to find a happy medium and well-balanced curriculum that creates well-rounded people with practical skills and preparation for the real world.  You  also have to give people the ability to think about things to have valude outside of consumerism, that values ideas and feelings as well as material goods.  Otherwise, you end up with the Unethical Educated Idiot and the Esoteric Educated Idiot.


Obama’s Out of Touch with Folks

I’m a liberal progressive voter and I had high hopes for Obama.  More and more, however, I feel like President Obama’s actions are highly hypocritical and give me the impression that for all his down-to-earth posturings, he is increasingly operating in his own bubble within the DC dome world.

Thankfully, Larry Summers has taken himself (or was pushed, more likely, since he arrogantly has refused to  admit to any past mistakes, of which there are many) out of the running for the position of Federal Reserve Chairman.

But the very fact that he favored appointing a Wall Street insider who is currently a consultant with Citigroup and is typical of Washington’s revolving door policy of legislators who end up working for large financial institutions, shows me that Obama is no different from anyone else in our corrupt government.  He’s part and parcel of the crony capitalism and lobbying that skews regulation in favor of corporations.  He clearly has too many ties that are conflicts of interest for the American people to believe in his fairness and integrity.

As Treasury Secretary under Bill Clinton, Summers backed the deregulation of the banking industry and repeal of Glass-Steagall which led to the 2008 crisis and our continuing problems in the economy.

So he fucked it up big time already, and this is the guy Obama wants to control our monetary policies?  I was dumbfounded that Obama seems to not get what a controversial appointment Summers was and how hypocritical it makes him look.

Despite progressive and women’s groups (Summers has pissed a lot of people off, not only professionally but personally) protesting, Obama paid no attention.  350 economists sent Obama a letter supporting Janet Yellen over Summers.  Reports say this just made him irritated and more recalcitrant.

The main reason Obama wanted Summers?  It seems it’s that after working with him in his first term, it’s purely personal.  Obama just likes and trusts him and it’s all about his personal relationship with him.

That gives me no confidence in a fool of a President that is deaf and blind to the outcries all around him because of his personal feelings.  That is just stupid stubbornness and not wise decision making.  He is clearly living in his own world and just doesn’t care what the American people want.

The same could be said about the Syria debacle.  Despite overwhelmingly negative polls that clearly showed the public had no appetite for engagement, Obama continued to plead and push his case with seeming disregard for the loud and consistent views of the people that we don’t want to get in involved in yet another Middle Eastern conflict.  Obama kept trying to appeal to Americans from a moral standpoint, but what he doesn’t seem to get is that he is trying to foist his personal morality on a nation that doesn’t care.  Yes, it’s callous of our citizens to not care about the undeniable suffering of others.  But that’s what happens when people are scrabbling for survival-it makes people selfish.  The old trope of “You can’t help anybody if you can’t help yourself” is the situation many Americans find themselves in today.  Want and insecurity make people hard-hearted and Obama should know that.

What angers me the most and is the most egregious act of delusional hypocrisy was when he gave a speech about job growth, middle class, incomes, the economy, et al at an Amazon warehouse.  Amazon is a huge part of the evil empire that blackmails our government into giving them tax breaks, lobbies to pass laws or add loopholes to laws that favor corporations over employees, that contracts temp workers to avoid giving them any rights or benefits, works them like dogs under inhuman conditions and keeps wages low with the threat of unemployment, keeping people so fearful and desperate that they submit.  It’s like the leader of the Rebel Alliance giving a talk to the subjugated peoples of the galaxy promising freedom and scheduling  a pep talk to the foot soldiers of the Rebel Alliance on the Death Star.  Is he really that disingenuous to not realize the bitter irony of this?

I’m flabbergasted.  All I can conjecture is that the intransigence of the Republican party has made Obama paranoid and retreat into his own world where he is surrounded by sycophants and advisers with their own agendas who are also removed from the real world.  Increasingly, it pains me that our “representatives” are doing exactly the opposite and instead of following our will, are thwarting it or completely delusional and out of touch with what we want.


Julie Chen and American Views on Asian Eye Surgery

julie_chen_plastic_surgerySo, the “big” news is Julie Chen’s confession to having eyelid surgery and the controversy over her decision.  This is old news is Asia, especially Korea, the capital of plastic surgery where it’s been almost a rite of passage for the majority of Korean women, who typically get this done in their teens.  In fact, I remember reading about a famous movie director who had to do an extensive search while casting for a historical movie as all the actresses and leading ladies in Korea had the surgery and he was having trouble finding someone with a natural, authentic, and traditional look.

It’s controversial in America because of different cultural norms and ideas.  You can almost always tell a Korean who was born in America, raised here, or adopted because they rarely have the surgery, compared to immigrants or foreign students who have had it done.

Having grown up here, I also thought that those that had the surgery were “selling out”, trying to be more white, bowing to pressure from a racist society.  I realized that I was seeing it only from one perspective or one could say, seeing it through different eyes after talking with two girls from Korea that were ESL students who became my friends after moving in next door.

I had never really had any Korean friends, and especially ones that were Korean, not Korean-American.  One day, one of the girls asked me when I had gotten the eye surgery.  I was surprised, as I had never had it done, though of course I knew it existed.  She said “Your eye job looks so natural, they did it well.”  When I told them that I hadn’t had surgery, they sighed, saying that I was really lucky.  Curious, I asked them to tell me about their experiences.

They both had it done at about age 16, and said that it was de rigeur.  One girl told me she didn’t want to do it, but her mother forced her, which was pretty common in cases of resistance.  Both said that it was painful but to not have it done had a lot of repercussions from family pressure, societal acceptance, to the ability to get a good job.  Especially in places like Korea, women’s looks are integral to their ability to get employment.  The girl who didn’t want the procedure also had the worst time of it.  She said it was really painful and she got a terrible infection that made her eyelids swell up and were covered with crusty sores and oozed pus for weeks on end.  She cried endlessly and blamed her mother, but what was done was done.

I asked if it was done to look more Caucasian, along with the lightening their hair and colored contacts, and if it was conforming to a Western ideal of beauty.  To my surprise, they had a completely different perspective.  They said that Koreans weren’t trying to have Caucasian eyes, just larger Asian eyes.  They pointed out my eye creases as an example.  When they get the surgery, they want the crease to be close to the lash line creating a more open almond shaped eye, rather than much higher on the eyelid with a hollowed out crease as is common in Caucasians.  My poor friend who hadn’t wanted the surgery also pointed out that the surgeon had actually botched the job.  He had cut the crease too far up, and as a result, it gave her a bit of a pop-eyed look as her eyes were considered too round and you could see the whites of her eyes slightly on the bottom.  As for the hair dyeing and colored contacts,  they said “When you live in a country where everyone has black hair and brown eyes, it’s boring.  We don’t want to be white, just different from each other.”  They wanted to stand out from time to time in a homogenous looking society and experiment with different looks for fun.  For them, living in a homogenous society, there weren’t any racist undertones to these decisions, just fashion and individuality.

That was a real eye-opener.  And yes, I’m being punny.  But it made me think that my perspective and disapproval of the surgery was based on growing up as a minority in an endemically racist society where Caucasian was the beauty norm.  As a result, my views were one-sided and biased and I had connotations with this procedure that the Korean ESL students, living in Korea weren’t subject to, and unaffected by.  I had the proverbial chip on my shoulder from the environment I lived in and my ability to make a judgement was based on a one sided viewpoint and experience and ignorance of the way other people thought about things in their own countries.  Typical American, to impose American views and motives to everyone else without even knowing someone else’s native culture and viewpoints in depth.

In America, to tell anyone they need an eye job would be considered racist and offensive and engender a whole lot of PC outrage.  For Asians, it’ doesn’t have that kind of heat.  It’s just more matter of fact.  Some people have really heavy eyelids and small eyes, and it’s just not aesthetically attractive.  Koreans want bigger eyes, but bigger Asian shaped eyes, not Caucasian ones.

Truth is, a lot of Asians do look better after surgery, or would look better if they got it done.  After all, white people with beady, squinty eyes aren’t considered attractive either.  My brother has extremely small, very heavy lidded eyes and could have benefited from the surgery.  We teased him in the family that it was a wonder he could see at all.

It’s symmetry, proportion, and balance in a face that makes it aesthetically pleasing-so says anthropology and biological  cues throughout the world.  Dr. Steven Marquardt, a former plastic surgeon, invented a grid that maps the proportions of what is considered a beautiful face, based on the Golden Ratio of Leonardo Fibonacci.  It’s pretty amazing.  When you superimpose this grid on images of people considered beautiful, their features conform to the outlines within the grid.  This applies to all races, all ethnicities, and both sexes.  These standards apply and fit whether it’s a modern celebrity or historical figure and works whether it’s Angelina Jolie or Nefertiti.

And let’s not forget, Julie Chen is in a profession where looks matter, and that is a major factor in that business.  Perhaps what would have been crueler but more truthful is that taking the racism out of the advice given her, she just didn’t have an attractive face and her eyes are disproportionately small to the features on her face.  She really needed surgery because she’s visually unappealing in a visual medium, not because her eyes were too Asian.  They were just too small for beauty.

Let me use an Asian star as an example.  Jackie Chan had extremely small and unattractive eyes, which you can see in his early films.  He had eyelid surgery, and while he still isn’t a handsome man, it made him more visually appealing.  Being an Asian star, there was no outcry of racism.  His motivation was not to look white.  His motivation would have been to be more attractive and therefore, appealing to his audience-which were Asians.

Would it have made Julie Chen feel better if they had just flat out told her she was ugly, without bringing race into it?  Because really that’s what the problem was.  She would never be able to work on tv in Asia with that mug, and would have been rejected outright or told the same thing.  When you choose to work in a medium that focuses on looks, what else do you expect?  Live by the sword, die by the sword.  She’s making herself into this poster child for racism and will be viewed as such in America.  In Asia, she’s just a not very pretty woman who was given some brutally honest and realistic advice about how to further her career.

And please, that excessive, overly shadowed and contoured eye makeup is all about trying to make the illusion of Caucasian eyes.  If she’s so proud of her Asian heritage and resentful of being pressured to look white, how come she looks more whitey wannabe than ever?  Now that she is in the position to no longer have to conform, wipe off all that makeup that is applied to make a fake high Caucasian crease, take off the fake eyelashes, and stop heavily contouring her naturally wide (though less than before-clearly a nose job as well) nose to celebrate her Chinese features.  Stop whining and being a hypocrite and playing victim to an audience for ratings!


Hello world!

Bitch.  Negative.  Pessimist.  Mean.  Angry.    Some of the words people have used to describe me.   I’ve also been called honest, sincere, realistic, direct, and passionate.  It’s all a matter of perspective or the other side of the coin.  After all, a cynic is really a failed idealist.

Studies have shown that pessimists are in better touch with reality and their perceptions are more objectively accurate than optimists.  Ignorance is bliss-for the sheeple (sheep people), but as Sartre said “Hell is other people” for the rest of us who have to live amongst them.

Any thinking, aware person with any standards or morals can’t help but be dismayed at the world around us.  Wanting more than the venal and narcissistic society the media sells us or just to eat, drink, sleep, fuck, and buy more useless shit leaves you alienated in today’s world.

While waiting for 2012 or some other event to hopefully wipe out a wide swath of humanity, I’ll express my angry, bitter, caustic, despairing, exasperated, frustrated feelings about life in this blog.   Along with my misanthropic venting are praises for the rare things I love and my shallow obsessions.  It’s going to be a miscellany of rants, raves,  and neurotic navel gazing.

So no, I don’t need a hug, I don’t want the kool-aid, and you know where you can take your kumbaya.