Various writings on culture

France: Marginalisation Of Minorities Causes Alienation And Ethnic Strife


Here is an example of why marginalization of minorities is bad for the whole of society.The largest minority group in France are immigrants from North Africa, namely Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia. Coming initially from former colonies as cheap labor, they settled in low income run down housing complex in poor suburbs.While the French society puts pressure on immigrants, accepting nothing less than full assimilation (not mere integration), that society never accepts foreigners who have a different language, different religion, different skin color, and different customs.The result is a no-win situation that leaves many youth feeling alienated. They only have mediocre education if any, have no permanent jobs, and have no hope of keeping up. Many succumb to drugs, crime, or religious radicalism.

Why are Gasoline prices so high?


Oil has been the main source of fuel for machinery in the 20th century. We can argue that it is one of the pillars of contemporary human civilization, powering everything from cars, factories, airplanes, to war tanks, house heating and barbeques. In short, we take it for granted.

Years ago, I recall reading a Scientific American article, The End of Cheap Oil, in March 1998 by Colin Campbell and Jean Laherrere. In that article, the authors predicted a sharp rise in prices due to many factors, the most important of which is producing countries overestimating their reserves to get long term credit from banks. They predict that the shortage is not 50 years away, but rather as near as 10 years away (approx. 2010 or so).

The name Omar in the Western Hemisphere


Every now and then, I come across someone named "Omar" in the Western hemisphere. Having a brother called Omar, as well as my family claiming descent from another famous Omar, I am intrigued.The name Omar عمر is a pre-Islamic male proper name. Several of the Prophet's companions were called Omar, the most prominent of which is the second successor to him, Omar Ibn Al Khattab.In Latin America, the name is popular in the 20th century. For example, we have Omar Sivori from Argentina, Arthur Omar from Brazil, Omar Jose Daal from Venezuela, Omar Cabezas from Nicaragua, Omar Rodriguez Lopez from Puerto Rico, and Omar Romano from Mexico.

Mob Behavior: What separates civilization from barbarism?


After a Virginia, USA school decided to sell their used Apple iBook laptops really cheap, panic and stampede ensued, as humans exhibited their worst behavior. The local newspaper, the Times Dispatch also has an article and even a slideshow showing people pushing and trampling on falling fellow human beings. Slashdot also has some comments, some from those who attended.

V for Vendetta by Alan Moore and David Lloyd


V for Vendetta is a graphic comic book by Alan Moore and David Lloyd. It explores how oppression causes liberation and resistance movement to develop, and often the latter commit atrocities and abhorrent acts in the name of good causes.The hero, the enigmatic masked V spearheads a ruthless resistance movement that uses terrorist tactics. He takes under his wing a young woman that he previously saved. She begins to question the tactics used. Tagline: "People should not be afraid of their governments. Governments should be afraid of their people." As I discuss in another article, the comic book shows that often moral ambiguity and rationalization of atrocities are more prevalent than most people want to think, and that there is a fine line between resistance and terrorism. 

Life Interrupted: Stressed by Distraction


In a previous article, titled Interrupting Interruptions, I discussed how technological advances have affected our daily life.Now, Professor David Levy, of the University of Washington has studied the phenomenon and its effects on us. Read the article in the Seattle Times, which also quotes David Meyer, a cognitive scientist and psychologist.

The Next Mega Tsunami is Expected in the Atlantic Ocean


The next big tsunami may happen in the Atlantic Ocean.Studies by the Benfield Hazard Research Center have indicated that the Cumbre Vieja Volcano in the island of La Palma, in the Canary Islands has not erupted for more than three decades. If this happens, the wave hitting North America would be up to 50 meters high and surge up to 20km inland. Morocco could get up to 100 meter high waves. Brazil would see 40 meter waves.

The Indian Ocean Earthquake and Tsunami of December 2004


By now, the catastophic event of the December 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami is about to be understood by people around the world. A magnitude 9.0 earthquake west of Sumatra caused a series of huge tidal waves (tsunamis) that hit Sumatra, Nicobar, Andaman, Thailand, Malaysia, Maldives, Sri Lanka, India, Somalia, and Kenya. Initially, the magnitude of this disaster was not understood.

Symbolic Movies: Brazil


The movie: Brazil has themes similar to George Orwell's 1984.It depicts a case where a simple typographical error caused an innocent man to be arrested, and eventually disappears in the torture chambers of the oppressive and bureaucratic government. When the main character, a simple government bureaucrat dreaming of a fantasy world, attempts to inquire more, he in turn gets arrested. He is tortured, and his dreams hope for someone to rescue him from his misery, which never happens.


    Subscribe to RSS - Culture