Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Do Officials Promote a "Culture of Rape" in American Prisons?

I hesitate to broach so raw and distressing a subject.  But, a whole generation of young men, black males in particular, are being psychologically shattered by a “culture of rape,” which growing evidence shows, is actually fostered by prison officials in the United States.  

Friday, March 25, 2011

Memories of Tokyo During Cherry Blossom Season

My eyes well up with tears, when I remember Tokyo from years past, during cherry blossom season.  The city streets at the end of March would be packed with tourists, from other parts of Japan and abroad, who had come to enjoy the sakura or "cherry blossoms."  Because these delicate flowers have short lives, they represent "impermanence" within the Buddhist culture of Japan.  

This season, called Hanami  or "flower-viewing," is celebrated by gathering together friends and family for picnics beneath the blooming sakura trees, which are everywhere.   However, this year, the crowds of foreign tourists will be thin, as officials struggle to gain control of a nuclear meltdown at reactors less than 150 miles from Tokyo, and the Japanese bury loved ones in mass graves caused by the earthquake-tsunami disaster.  What hasn't changed is the message, which cherry-blossom viewers have been asked to ponder for the past two thousand years.  It is the transient nature of life. 

Sakura, Sakura is one of Japan's most popular traditional songs.





The Tsunami in Japan

Why Hasn't the Meltdown in the Nuclear Industry, Sparked More Serious Discussion about Solar Energy?

“Solar energy” has apparently become the most vulgar term in the English language,  to be avoided as though it were a racial epithet. 

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Let's Spare Young Justin Bieber, the "Michael Jackson Syndrome"

Sooner or later this year, a jury will determine whether Dr. Conrad Murray, the physician charged in the drug overdose death of Michael Jackson, was guilty of involuntary manslaughter.  Whatever the decision taken in a court of law, the fact remains that this man could only have been an accomplice to murder.  The real perpetrator is still at large, combing the planet in search of tender, new victims.   In fact, that perpetrator is us, the “adoring” public.  We colluded with Michael Jackson’s parents to rip and tear away the fabric of this sensitive young artist’s childhood.  And then we stood back and laughed at what we had created, a young man as disjointed as a Picasso painting.   What have we in store for Justin Bieber?  

Monday, March 21, 2011

Where Do I Sign up for the Anti-Nuclear Movement?

What a relief! My Japanese friends have all been accounted for.  Fortunately, none of them were near the northeast coast of Japan when the triple disaster, earthquake-tsunami-nuclear reactor malfunction, struck.  But these are harrowing times for everyone in Japan as they struggle to put their lives back together.

As for me, the nuclear reactor near-meltdowns at Fukushima have me freaked.  MetropolitanTokyo has a population of 35 million, and the Fukushima nuclear plant is only 150 miles up the road.  Radiation has now been detected in the milk and spinach coming from that part of the country.

What is Love?

What is love?  I'm a romantic at heart.  And yet the difference between "intellectual knowledge" and "experiential knowledge,," has always intrigued me, because I believe that knowledge also plays its role in love.  Reading a book about playing the flute, or even learning to read music is "intellectual." The training that goes into making music on an instrument is "experiential." So, what does this have to do with "love?" It has taken me a lifetime to realize a simple truth: "love is acceptance." I've known for years that to love someone is to take that person as he or she is, without conditions. But this is merely an "intellectual" understanding.  "Love is acceptance" is an experiential concept and takes so much training and exercise, that you sometimes feel your arms and legs are about to fall off from exhaustion. But why should that be?

Friday, March 18, 2011

How Sarah Palin & Michele Bachmann Made Me Re-assess Condi Rice

When President George W. Bush appointed Dr. Condoleezza Rice, to become the new Secretary of State in January of 2005, I was mad as hell.  I too had grown up in a black Republican family, but had parted company with the GOP when the liberal wing of the party collapsed.  Condi Rice was by all accounts an intelligent, well-educated and multi-talented  woman.   However, having been instrumental in the decision-making that led to the disastrous war in Iraq, Rice’s performance in my estimation was not that of a geo-political strategist at work.  It was rather that of a woman, who was soulless and lost, the empty clatter of wooden shutters hitting the sides of an abandoned house.  Her loyalty to the Bush family also nettled me.  Rice spent holidays at their home, entertaining them with her classical music playing on the piano.  In one unguarded moment, the new Secretary of State  even referred to President Bush as her “husb---“.  This woman was too much the loyal court retainer.   

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Mystery Surrounds Murder of Jewish Family at Itamar

An Israeli girl returned home Friday night to find her parents, and three of the family's six children stabbed to death in their beds, including a three-month old infant.   The  Fogel family lived in the Jewish settlement of Itamar, located on the Palestinian West Bank.  Both Israeli and Palestinian leaders expressed shock and horror at the murders.  But even before the full investigation into the murders had been launched, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced a massive expansion of illegal Jewish-only settlements in the occupied West Bank, punishing the Palestinians for what he termed "incitement."  A Senior aide to Prime Minister Netanyahu declared: "The Palestinian leadership must be held accountable for continued incitement and failure to stop the glorification of murderers."  That same day, Israeli officials released to the public, bloody photographs of the murdered family, presumably for "informational purposes."

Friday, March 11, 2011

The Tsunami in Japan

An early morning phone call awoke me to the heartbreaking news of Japan being struck by the largest earthquake in recorded history.  Measuring 8.9 on the Richter scale, the temblor produced a tsunami, which devastated  Sendai, a beautiful city on the northeast coast.  It was known by  the Japanese as the "City of Trees" (杜の都 Mori no Miyako), on account of the stately zelkova trees, lining Jōzenji  (定禅寺通 ) and Aoba Streets (青葉通).  The miniaturized version of these trees have been immortalized in bonsai plantings. 

Last time I visited Sendai, the city looked like this.     

The video footage below was taken this morning, shortly after the tsunami struck

I am still trying to contact friends and loved-ones in the affected areas.   My heart embraces all those who have suffered losses in this cataclysmic natural disaster.

RELATED POSTS: What America Can Learn from Japan's Handling of the Tsunami

Memories of Tokyo During Cherry Blossom Season

Where do I Sign up for the Anti-Nuclear Movement? 


Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Healing the Wounds of Africa's Distorted Past

Eurocentric Map of Africa
 Several years ago, I took a visiting professorship at a popular New England college.  Its bucolic campus, nestled amidst fir trees and fragrant walking trails, promised a serenity of the mind and soul.  But to my dismay, I had inadvertently stumbled into an intellectual minefield.   Vehement arguments constantly erupted between Eurocentric and Afrocentric scholars regarding whether the ancient Egyptians were black, whether Socrates was really white, and for that matter, whether Christopher Columbus was a genocidal conquistador rather than a national hero.

The “Eurocentrics, ” composed of traditional classicists, scholars of Greece and Rome, asserted that the African continent lay outside the sphere of intellectual development.  They conveniently lopped Egypt and North Africa off maps of the continent.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

How I Came to Love Justice Earl Warren & Hate Peaches

“Mama, what’s ‘I-m-p-e-a-c-h’ mean?” I bellowed over the engine noise, swashing  through the  open windows of our 1958 Ford country squire.  Fried chicken crumbs flecked my lap. I had been picking and tossing them out the window.  In the process, my attention had lit upon a billboard, with an American flag taking up one side, red and blue words painted across the other in bold lettering.    It was the third such sign I’d seen in the past hour, set along this lonely stretch of road, which cut through rural Alabama.