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Category Archives: Popular Culture

Where Is The Love (2016 remake)

The Black Eyed Peas

[Intro]
Where is the love ?

[Chorus: will.i.am]
People killing people dying
Children hurting I hear them crying
Can you practice what you preaching
Would you turn the other cheek again
Mama mama mama tell us
What the hell is going on
Can we all just get along
Father father father help us
Send some guidance from above
Cause people got me got me questioning
(Where is the love)

[Verse 1: will.i.am]
Yo what’s going on with the world momma
(Where is the love)
Yo people living like they ain’t got no mommas
(Where is the love)
I think they all distracted by the drama
And attracted to the trauma, momma
(Where is the love)
I think they don’t understand the concept
Or the meaning of karma
Where is the love ?

[Verse 2: Diddy]
Overseas yeah they trying to stop terrorism
(Where is the love)
Over here on the streets the police shoot
The people put the bullets in ’em
(Where is the love)
But if you only got love for your own race
(Where is the love)
Then you’re gonna leave space for others to discriminate
(Where is the love)

[Verse 3: will.i.am]
And to discriminate only generates hate
And when you hate then you’re bound to get irate
Madness is what you demonstrate
And that’s exactly how hate works and operates
Man we gotta set it straight
Take control of your mind and just meditate
And let your soul just gravitate
To the love so the whole world celebrate it

[Chorus]
People killing people dying
Children hurting I hear them crying
Can you practice what you preaching
Would you turn the other cheek again
Mama mama mama tell us
What the hell is going on
Can we all just get along
Father father father help us
Send some guidance from above
Cause people got me got me questioning
(Where is the love)

[Verse 4: Taboo]
It just ain’t the same always in change
(Where’s the love)
New days are strange is the world insane
(Where’s the love)
Nation dropping bombs killing our little ones
(Where’s the love)
Ongoing suffering as the youth die young
(Where’s the love)

[Verse 5: Game]
Where is the love when a child gets murdered
Or a cops get knocked down
Black lives not now
Everybody matter to me
All races y’all don’t like what I’m saying ?
Haterade tall cases
Everybody hate somebody
Guess we all racist
Black Eyed Peas do a song about love
And y’all hate this
All these protest with different colored faces
We was all born with a heart
Why we gotta chase it
And every time I look around

[Verse 6: Taboo +Ty Dolla $ign ]
Every time I look up every time I look down
No one’s on a common ground
(Where’s the love)
And if you never speak truth
Then you never know how love sounds
(Where’s the love)
And if you never know love
Then you never know God wow
(Where’s the love)
Where’s the love y’all ? I don’t I don’t know
Where’s the truth y’all ? I don’t know

[Chorus: Justin Timberlake]
People killing people dying
Children hurting I hear them crying
Could you practice what you preaching
Would you turn the other cheek again
Father father father help us
Send some guidance from above
Cause people got me got me questioning
(Where is the love) x2

[Bridge: DJ Khaled]
Love is the key
(Where is the love)
Love is the answer
(Where is the love)
Love is the solution
(Where is the love)
They don’t want us to love
(Where is the love)
Love is powerful
(Where is the love)

[Verse 7: A$AP Rocky + Jaden Smith]
My mama asked me why I never vote (never vote)
Cause police men want me dead and gone (dead and gone)
That election looking like a joke (such a joke)
And the weed man still selling dope (oh lord)
Somebody gotta give these niggas hope (give us hope)
All he ever wanted was a smoke (not a cosh)
Said he can’t breathe with his hands in the air
Laying on the ground died from a choke
Where is the love

[Verse 8: apl.de.ap + Fergie]
I feel the weight of the world on my shoulder
As I’m getting older y’all people gets colder
Most of us only care about money making
Selfishness got us following the wrong direction
Wrong information was shown by the media
Negative images is the main criteria
Infecting the young minds faster than bacteria
Kids wanna act like what they see in the cinemas

[Outro: apl.de.ap]
What happened to the love and the values of humanity ?
(Where is the love)
What happened to the love and the fairness and equality ?
(Where is the love)
Instead of spreading love we’re spreading animosity
(Where is the love)
Lack of understanding leading us away from unity
(Where is the love)

 

Writing/speaking activities following viewing the video: Students answer the rhetorical question, “Where is the love?” Students pick one of the children in the last frame of the video and imagine/tell their story.

 

Who’s Gonna Stand Up

Protect the wild,
Tomorrow’s child.
Protect the land
From the greed of Man.

Take out the dams,
Stand up to Oil.
Protect the plants
And renew the soil

Who’s gonna stand up and save the Earth?
Who’s gonna say that She’s had enough?
Who’s gonna take on the Big Machine?
Who’s gonna stand up and save the Earth?
This all starts with you and me.

End fossil fuel.
Draw the line,
Before we build
One more pipeline.

End fracking now.
Let’s save the water
And build a life
For our sons and daughters.

Who’s gonna stand up and save the Earth?
Who’s gonna say that She’s had enough?
Who’s gonna take on the Big Machine?
Who’s gonna stand up and save the Earth?
This all starts with you and me.

Damn the dams.
Save the rivers.
Starve the takers
And feed the givers.

Let’s build the Green
And save the world.
We’re the people
Known as Earth.

Who’s gonna stand up and save the Earth?
Who’s gonna say that She’s had enough?
Who’s gonna take on the Big Machine?
Who’s gonna stand up and save the Earth?
This all starts with you and me.

© Neil Young 2014

The acoustic version of the song has a slightly different last verse:

Let’s build the Green.
Let’s save the world.
We’re the people
Known as Earth.

A live version with Crazy Horse has the 5th and 6th verses substituted for the 3rd and 4th verses and has a additional extended vamp at the end:

Who’s gonna stand up?
Who’s gonna stand up?
Who’s gonna stand up?
Who’s gonna stand up?
Who’s gonna stand up? (and save the Earth?)
You got to!

Russell Brand, in an interview with Jeremy Paxman on BBC’s Newsnight, recently called for “a revolultion, a socialist, egalitarian system based on the massive redistribution of wealth“.

Image

The complete accurate transcript.

Jeremy Paxman: “Russell Brand, who are you to edit a political magazine?”

Russell Brand: “Well, I suppose like a person who’s been politely asked by an attractive woman. I don’t know what the typical criteria is. I don’t know many people that edit political magazines. Boris [Johnson]..he used to do one, didn’t he? So I’m a kind of, a person with crazy hair, quite a good sense of humour, don’t know much about politics, I’m ideal.”

Paxman: “But is it true you don’t even vote?”

Brand:
 “Yeah, no, I don’t vote.”

Paxman: “Well how do you have any authority to talk about politics then?”

Brand: “Well I don’t get my authority from this pre-existing paradigm which is quite narrow and only serves a few people. I look elsewhere, for alternatives, that might be of service to humanity. Alternate means; alternate political systems.”

Paxman: “They being?”

Brand: “Well I’ve not invented it yet, Jeremy. I had to do a magazine last week. I’ve had a lot on me plate. But I say, but here’s the thing that you shouldn’t do. Shouldn’t destroy the planet; shouldn’t create massive economic disparity; shouldn’t ignore the needs of the people. The burden of proof is on the people with the power, not people, like, doing a magazine for a novelty.”

Paxman: “How do you imagine that people get power?”

Brand: “Well I imagine there are sort of hierarchical systems that have been preserved through generations…”

Paxman: “They get power by being voted in, that’s how they get power…”

Brand: “Well you say that Jeremy…”

Paxman: “You can’t even be arsed to vote?”

Brand: “It’s quite a narrow, quite a narrow prescriptive parameter that changes within in the ah…”

Paxman:
 “In a democracy that’s how it works.”

Brand: “Well I don’t think it’s working very well, Jeremy. Given that the planet is being destroyed. Given that there is economic disparity of a huge degree. What are you saying? There’s no alternative? There’s no alternative? Just this system?”

Paxman:
 “No, I’m not saying that. I’m saying if you can’t be arsed to vote why should we be asked to listen to your political point of view?”

Brand: “You don’t have to listen to my political point of view. But it’s not that I’m not voting out of apathy. I’m not voting out of absolute indifference and weariness and exhaustion from the lies, treachery, deceit of the political class, that has been going on for generations now. And which has now reached fever pitch where you have a disenfranchised, disillusioned, despondent underclass that are not being represented by that political system, so voting for it is tacit complicity with that system and that’s not something I’m offering up.”

Paxman: “Well why don’t you change it then?”

Brand: “I’m trying to.”

Paxman: “Well why don’t you start by voting?”

Brand: [Laughs] “I don’t think it works. People have voted already and that’s what’s created the current paradigm.”

Paxman: “When did you last vote?”

Brand:
 “Never.”

Paxman: “You’ve never, ever voted?”

Brand:
 “No. Do you think that’s really bad?”

Paxman: “So you struck an attitude, what, before the age of 18?”

Brand:
 “Well I was busy being a drug addict at that point, because I come from the kind of social conditions that are exacerbated by an indifferent system that, really, just administrates for large corporations and ignores the population that it was voted in to serve.”

Paxman:
 “You’re blaming the political class for the fact that you had a drug problem?”

Brand: “No, no, no. I’m saying I was part of a social and economic class that is underserved by the current political system. And drug addiction is one of the problems it creates when you have huge, underserved, impoverished populations, people get drug problems. And, also, don’t feel like they want to engage with the current political system because they see that it doesn’t work for them. They see that it makes no difference. They see that they’re not served. I say that the apathy…”

Paxman: “Of course it doesn’t work for them if they didn’t bother to vote.”

Brand: “Jeremy, my darling, I’m not saying…the apathy doesn’t come from us, the people. The apathy comes from the politicians. They are apathetic to our needs, they’re only interested in servicing the needs of corporations. Look at..ain’t the Tories going to court, taking the EU to court, because they’re trying to curtail bank bonuses? Isn’t that what’s happening at the moment in our country? It is, innit?”

Paxman:
 “Yeah.”

Brand:
 “So what am I gonna do, tune in for that?”

Paxman:
 “You don’t believe in democracy. You want a revolution don’t you?”

Brand:
 “The planet is being destroyed, we are creating an underclass, we’re exploiting poor people all over the world and the genuine, legitimate problems of the people are not being addressed by our political class.”

Paxman: “All of those things may be true.”

Brand: “They are true.”

Paxman: “But you took…I wouldn’t argue with you about many of them.”

Brand: “Well how come I feel so cross with you? It can’t just be because of that beard, it’s gorgeous.”

Paxman: “It’s possibly because…”

Brand: “And if the Daily Mail don’t want it, I do. Because I’m against them. Grow it longer. Tangle it into your armpit hair.”

Paxman: “You are a very trivial man.”

Brand: “What you think I am, trivial?”

Paxman: “Yes.”

Brand: “A minute ago you were having a go at me because I wanted a revolution now I’m trivial, I’m bouncing about all over the place.”

Paxman: “I’m not having a go at you because you want a revolution, many people want a revolution, but I’m asking you what it would be like.”

Brand: “Well I think what it won’t be like is a huge disparity between rich and poor where 300 Americans have the same amount of wealth as the 85 million poorest Americans, where there is an exploited and underserved underclass that are being continually ignored, where welfare is slashed while Cameron and Osbourne go to court to defend the rights of bankers to continue receiving their bonuses. That’s all I’m saying.”

Paxman: “What’s the scheme, that’s all I’m asking. What’s the scheme? You talked vaguely about a revolution, what is it?”

Brand: “I think a socialist egalitarian system, based on the massive redistribution of wealth, heavy taxation of corporations and massive responsibility for energy companies and any companies exploiting the environment… I think they should be taxed. I think the very concept of profit should be hugely reduced. David Cameron said profit isn’t a dirty word, I say profit is a filthy word. Because wherever there is profit there is also deficit. And this system currently doesn’t address these ideas. And so why would anyone vote for it? Why would anyone be interested in it?”

Paxman: “Who would levy these taxes?”

Brand:
 “I think we do need like… I think there needs to be a centralized administrative system but built on…”

Paxman: “A government?”

Brand: “Yes, well, maybe call it something else. Call them like the Admin Bods so they don’t get ahead of themselves.”

Paxman: “And how would they be chosen?”

Brand: “Jeremy, don’t ask me to sit here in an interview with you, in a bloody hotel room and devise a global, utopian system. I’m merely pointing out that the current…”

Paxman: “You’re calling for revolution!”

Brand: “Yeah, absolutely. I’m calling for change. I’m calling for genuine alternatives.”

Paxman:
 “There are many people who would agree with you..”

Brand: “Good.”

Paxman: “The current system is not engaging with all sorts of problems, yes. And they feel apathetic, really apathetic. But if they were to take you seriously, and not to vote…”

Brand: “Yeah, they shouldn’t vote, they should, that’s one thing they should do, don’t bother voting. Because when it reaches..there’s a point…You see these little valves, these, like, sort of cosy little valves of recycling and Prius and like you know turns up somewhere, it starts reaching the point where you think ‘oh this is enough now. Stop voting. Stop pretending. Wake up. Be in reality now. Time to be in reality now’. Why vote? We know it’s not going to make any difference? We know that already?”

Paxman: “It does make a difference.”

Brand: “I have more impact at West Ham United, cheering them on, and they lost to City, unnecessarily, sadly.”

Paxman:
 “Now you’re being facetious.”

Brand:
 “Facetiousness has as much value as seriousness, I think you’re making the mistake, of mistaking seriousness for solemnity”

Paxman: “You’re not going to solve world problems by facetiousness.”

Brand: “We’re not going to solve them with the current system. At least facetiousness is funny.”

Paxman: “Sometimes.”

Brand: “Yeah, sometimes, Jeremy. So listen. So let’s approach this optimistically. You’ve spent your whole career berating and haranguing politicians. And then when someone like me, a comedian, goes ‘they’re all worthless, what’s the point in engaging with any of them’, you sort of have a go at me because I’m not poor anymore. I’m sorry!”

Paxman: “I’m not having a go at you about that. I’m just asking why we should take you seriously when you’re so unspecific about what…?”

Brand: “You don’t have to take… Firstly, I don’t mind if you take me seriously. I’m here just to draw attention to a few ideas, I just want to have a little bit of a laugh. I’m saying there are people with alternative ideas that are far better qualified than I am, and far better qualified, more importantly, than the people that are currently doing that job. Because they’re not attempting to solve these problems. They’re not. They’re attempting to placate the population. Their measures that are currently being taken around climate change are indifferent, will not solve, will not solve the problem.”

Paxman: “You don’t think it’s possible that, as human beings, they’re simply overwhelmed by the scale of the problem?”

Brand: “Not really, well possibly. It might be that, but that’s all just semantics really, whether they’re overwhelmed by it or tacitly maintaining it because of habitual… I mean like, mate, this is what I noticed when I was in that Houses of Parliament. It’s decorated exactly the same as Eton, is decorated exactly the same as Oxford. So a certain type of people goes in there and thinks ‘this makes me nervous’ and then another type of people go in there and go ‘this is how it should be’. And I think that’s got to change now. We can no longer have erroneous, duplicitous systems held in place unless it’s for the serve…only systems that serve the planet and serve the population of the planet can be allowed to survive. Not ones that serve elites, be they political or corporate elites and this is what’s currently happening.”

Paxman: “You don’t really believe that.”

Brand: “I completely believe it. Don’t look at me all weary, like you’re at a fireside with your pipe and your beard.”

Paxman: “I mean Ed Miliband (inaudible)…”

Brand:
 “Well he went to the same primary school as Boris, didn’t he?”

Paxman: “He did but he then went to a comprehensive school in north London.”

Brand: “Well that’s very good. That’s all well and good. But what I’m saying is, within the existing paradigm, the change is not dramatic enough, not radical enough. So you can well understand public disturbances and public dissatisfaction, when there are not genuine changes and genuine alternatives being offered. I say when there is a genuine alternative, a genuine option, then vote for that. But until then, pffft, don’t bother. Why pretend? Why be complicit in this ridiculous illusion?”

Paxman:
 “Because by the time somebody comes along you might think it worth voting for, it may be too late.”

Brand: “I don’t think so because the time is now, this movement is already occurring, it’s happening everywhere, we’re in a time where communication is instantaneous and there are communities all over the world. The Occupy movement made a difference in, even if, only in that, it introduced, to the popular public lexicon, the idea of the 1% versus the 99%. People for the first time in a generation are aware of massive, corporate and economic exploitation. These things are not nonsense. And these subjects are not being addressed. No one is doing anything about tax havens, no one is doing anything about their political affiliations and financial affiliations of the Conservative Party, so until people start addressing things that are actually real, why wouldn’t I be facetious, why would I take it seriously? Why would I encourage a constituency of young people that are absolutely indifferent to vote? Why would we? Aren’t you bored? Aren’t you more bored than anyone? Ain’t you been talking to them year after year, listening to their lies, their nonsense. Then it’s this one that gets in, then it’s that one gets in but the problem continues. Why are we going to continue to contribute to this facade?”

Paxman: “I’m surprised you can be facetious when you’re that angry about it.”

Brand: “Yeah, I am angry, I am angry. Because for me it’s real, because for me it’s not just some peripheral thing that I just turn up to once in a while to a church féte for. For me, this is what I come from. This is what I care about.”

Paxman: “Do you see any hope?”

Brand: “Remember that…yeah, totally, there’s gonna be a revolution. It’s totally going to happen. I ain’t got a flicker of doubt. This is the end. This is time to wake up.
I remember I seen you in that programme, where you look at your ancestors, and you saw the way your grandmother were out to brass herself or got fucked over by the aristocrats who ran her gaff. You cried because you knew that it was unfair and unjust. And that was what? A century ago? That’s happening to people now. I just come from a woman who’s been treated like that. I’ve just been talking to a woman, today, who’s being treated like that. So if we can engage that feeling, instead of some moment of lachrymose sentimentality trotted out on the TV for people to pore over emotional porn. If we can engage that feeling and change things, why wouldn’t we? Why is that naive? Why is that not my right because I’m an actor? I mean I’ve taken the right. I don’t need the right from you. I don’t need the right from anybody. I’m taking it.”

Read Brand’s New Statesman guest editorial here.

Read Brand’s 05/11/13 The Guardian response to the backlash brought on by his Paxman interview here.

Dear Chris,

thanks very much for your thought provoking video. i’m an English teacher hoping to use your poetry in my English Literature course this coming semester. i’ve taken the liberty of editing your text for punctuation, grammar, and spelling and to make it conform more closely to the spoken word of your video. Please find my transcription below:

Peace,

rob

Black Does Not Equal Fear

Complete transcript:

George Zimmerman: (edited 911 call)

Hey, we’ve had some break-ins in my neighborhood and there’s a real suspicious guy… this guy looks like he’s up to no good or he’s on drugs or something. It’s raining and he’s just walking around and looking about.

Dispatcher: Did you see what he was wearing?

GZ: Yeah. A dark hoodie, like a grey hoodie, and either jeans or sweatpants and white tennis shoes. He’s here now, he’s just staring…

Chris Beasley:

I am black.

Do you fear me?

Is it from what you’ve heard

Or what you see?

I wear sweatshirts, Polos, and white Ts,

But it’s not my clothes that indict me.

It’s not my actions, education, or personality;

It’s my nose, my lips and my ancestry.

Why does my skin speak louder that the words I say?

We don’t assume all whites are Timothy McVeigh.

If I plead the fifth and don’t add to my case

I can’t escape your ideas of my race.

It’s ok to infer, conclude, perceive.

As long as we know what we deduct can deceive.

Admit you could be wrong,

Cause you don’t know me.

That’s all that I ask, I’m begging you please.

If I have a ball you clap and cheer,

But outside the game you quiver in fear.

I see purses clutched closer, doors lock as I pass,

Words laced with curses. No wonder we clash.

Justice in court

Will always fall short

If we don’t begin to take a fresh start.

The judge tried to exclude race. That’s a fact.

But the jury could not forget that Trayvon was black.

No need to see race and then pick us apart

Cause we all look the same when we stand in the dark.

Now judge me simply by my diction.

Hear my emotion and conviction.

I want to enlighten not divide.

I want respect for your life and mine.

If fear is the cause, that’s something we share.

And fear is caused from not knowing what’s there.

So, like President Obama, let me be clear:

I’m a black man,

And I’m not going anywhere.

I’m part of some gangs you’ve heard all about.

I’m an Aggie alum,

And a proud Eagle Scout.

Entrepreneur starting a career.

I will identify myself so you’ll see there’s nothing to fear.

The idea of being black has been twisted so much.

We’re said to be savage, ghetto, and ratchet,

Threatening, and lazy, and sitting on our butts.

And those that know me still seem to judge.

You call me white cause I’m none of the above.

I’ve been called black, and I’ve been called white

Based on what you believe, neither is right.

I am Chris, one of a kind.

So don’t judge me by your experiences but by mine.

And I’m inclined to tell you, I’m not alone.

In moments like this we all can be strong.

Let our voices be heard. Let them relish the sound.

Cause how can we move forward, if we all stand our ground?

After that verdict, the value of my life seemed bleak.

What are my chances if they demonize me?

So we fear for our lives, to a certain extent,

But this video is our self-defense.

Chris Beasley, July 2013

A facebook friend posted this today: I am definitely unable to provide for Nick as a single mum.. 😦

i replied:

You basically have to provide for three things: Nick’s physical, mental and emotional needs.

Physically he needs good nutritious food, clean clothes and a roof or tent over his head. the food should not be junk food; rice, veg, fruit, protein, mother’s milk. the clothes do NOT need to be new, 2nd hand should be freely available, go to your local church/mosque and get, a roof? (well there’s always mama right?Image)

mental: speak to him in your mother tongue; that way he grows up bilingual, your language plus English which he’ll pick up on the street etc.; another thing to do for his mental well-being, if you’re not already on this page, is to read to him every night at bedtime, research shows that children who are read to will have a vocabulary 4-7 thousand words larger than a child who is not read to. the kids who are read to will have a head start at school that the others will never catch up to.

Emotionally, if you’re breast feeding him he already knows you love him, when you read to him at bedtime you further cement that love relationship + you build up a sense of a stable life with a set of rules and boundaries (invisible but nonetheless necessary) and you start building a life long love of books (should be freely available at your local library); basically you just have to love him, which i’m sure you’re doing. you can also help him by providing him with a strong sense of right and wrong, he’ll follow your lead; so don’t do anything you don’t want him parroting.

A lot happened in 2011. People around the world were affected to a greater or lesser degree by what occurred. i was struck by an, at times, overwhelming sense that i could not do anything to affect change or to help those working for change either here in Sohar, Oman or in the streets of the cities and towns around the world where people are trying to make a difference. In the end, i decided i could, in my small way, bear witness to what was happening and work towards small positive changes that i think i can impact. i would ask that you consider joining me in my New Year’s resolution.

Every year, Jamie Mackinnon, a friend from my Cuso Nigeria days sends out a “Noel News” missive. This year he opined,

“Historical analysis seems to show that, over the millennia (beginning with the rise of the state) and more so in recent decades, violence has been declining globally, and the dignity of the human individual (as seen through the prism of human rights) has been increasing.”

As i read that i reflected on 2011 and what i had witnessed either in real life or through the words and pictures of friends, acquaintances and colleagues. i decided i had to beg to differ with Jamie. i feel that violence is increasing, partly because, at 7 billion and counting, there are more of us human beings around and partly because we are becoming inured to violence, both casual and causal. Violent action and rhetoric are, it seems to me, constantly being ratcheted up in attempts to hold off change and secure the status quo.

Here in Sohar we experienced the worst aspects of the Arab Spring when a citizen was shot and killed as he photographed the nascent movement for change. my workplace was closed for a week while our students demonstrated for change. 

In Cairo twitter friend Mona Eltahawy had her left arm and right hand broken by military security forces while they sexually assaulted her. Mona writes of her experience in detail here.

Also from Cairo came this graphic image of a woman being singled out for gross abuse by the military. She was in the streets demonstrating for an end to rule by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces. If ever a picture told a thousand words this was that occasion. The full story behind the picture can be read here. What is not told is the story of the Coptic Christian who attempted to save this Muslim demonstrator from the beating she was getting. He ended up being shot in the knee for his efforts.

In North America the quotidian use of violence against peaceful, non-violent demonstrators is best summed up by this now infamous picture of one sworn to protect and serve disabusing all and sundry of his role in life. Violence has become banal and utilized indiscriminately by authorities around the world to either maintain their power or the status quo. TIME magazine’s Person Of The Year issue featured The Protester; very fitting but the cover story missed several important protest actions in the MENA region and elsewhere.

If one thing has become crystal clear it’s that money talks. The upcoming election in the USA is up for grabs to the highest bidder. Occupiers are slowly changing the focus away from the 1% who control the pocketbooks to the 99% who should be controlling the streets.

At this time and place in my life i’ve decided that i can best effect change by watching how i spend my money. Going out on the streets while i have four kids in school isn’t a good idea. i won’t be able to help them if i’m occupying the inside of a jail cell.

As my New Year’s resolution i’m revisiting and renewing several of my long-standing consumer boycotts:

Nestlé because they are still illegally promoting their infant formulas as better than mother’s milk. i’ve been boycotting Nestlé ever since i was working in Nigeria in the late ’70s and i heard of their deadly practice which actually leads to mothers in developing countries inadvertently killing their infants. Maggi is also a Nestlé subsidiary and should be avoided like the plague.

Union Carbide since 1985 because they still haven’t paid full reparations for the Bhopal disaster.

Shell Oil since 1988 when i first started buy petrol/gasoline for their ongoing lousy environmental record in the Niger Delta in southern Nigeria.

i’ve been boycotting Kraft the longest, since 1973, when i attended a Perth County Conspiracy concert. Band members railed against this food processing behemoth which consistently twists the arms of its supplier farmers in its pursuit of profit. There are better quality foods from a host of other more socially responsibly producers.

McDonalds ever since i worked there in 1974. They serve a product; they do not serve food. Nutritional value? Forget it.  Working there, behind the grill, was eye-opening and disgusting.

Just two days ago i decided to add Chik-fil-A when i discovered that they are promoting homophobia. Not that there is any chance of my ever darkening their doors as my wife Kim and i decided to become vegetarians over a year and a half ago. It was, plainly put, the right thing to do, for ourselves and the environment. Meat production utilizes far too much resources.

So while you may feel there is nothing you can do there is. Occupy your wallet, spend your money where it won’t hurt others. Support a political party or politician whose views you agree with. Late last year i finally became a registered member of a Canadian political party despite never being either able or allowed to engage in the Federal political process through the ballot box in my home and native land. i’m now a proud member of the Green Party of Canada and will do what i can, from a distance, to see that we gain more seats in Parliament.

Stephen Harpy, his policies and his politics are the greatest threat to the Canada that i knew and loved growing up in the ’50s and ’60s. So i’ll rage against him and his, in this blog, on twitter and on a ballot if i’m ever allowed to vote as a non-resident Canadian citizen.

No i’ve not changed my stance on controlled substances nor did i find myself afoul of the law here in Oman. i had a 2.3 cm long vesical calculus (stone) lodged in my bladder caused apparently by a slightly enlarged prostate. The stone was causing discomfort and haematuria (blood in urine).

So i spent five days in Sohar General Hospital recently. It was an adventure i would sooner have avoided but, apa boleh buat? (What to do?). Went in last Friday evening for pre-op observation and to ensure that i did not eat or drink anything in the half a day before the procedure.

Dr Joseph, a urologist, told me he would remove the stone and possibly remove my prostrate if need be, the decision for the latter would be taken “on the table”. Saturday morning i woke up to find breakfast waiting for me (the catering staff hadn’t been told i shouldn’t eat). i was a good lad and avoided eating.

i was wheeled into the OR at 11:25 and a spinal was administered. i noted three young trainee doctors there to observe the procedure, i figured why not? i train teachers so why not let student doctors observe me being worked on?

crushed bits of my bladder stone after removal

A green curtain was put up and Dr Joseph entered quietly and immediately got to work. He told me later that the stone was difficult to remove as it was large and the center was very hard.

While he was in there he decided to do an endoscopic resection of my prostate because he felt it was what had caused the stone in the first place. So i’ve kept most of my prostate which is good.

While resectioning my prostate the good Dr found many small stones which he also removed (the smaller bits in the above photo). Then came the insertion of the catheter. This was painless as i was still under the spinal despite already being able to move my feet at this point. The anesthesiologist had done a wonderful job of estimating how much to give me so i would feel what was going on.

After a very short while in the recovery room i was wheeled back to the male surgical ward where i spent the next few days hooked up to a drip into my bladder to help wash the wound. The removal of the catheter was a totally new experience that doesn’t bear repeating. i was rather amazed at how long it was… 30 cm of the 40.5 cm length had been inserted up my yazoo. When the nurse took it out he told me to take a deep breath, i ended up having to take two deep breaths. The coins are the same size as a quarter dollar.

So now i’m supposed to take it easy for the next several weeks, no straining, lifting or bonking allowed… apa boleh buat?

What did i learn? Well Pete Townsend’s “hope I die before I get old” dictum wears thin after fifty. i’m thinking i’m definitely no longer “young” so i guess i must be getting old or at least older. i’ve also learned that good medical care is priceless. The surgeries cost about OR630 (you do the exchange). Gary, my American colleague said it was a fraction of what it would cost back in the States. my employer provided healthcare should cover most or all of it. Alhumduillah!

i’ve also learned that there are stark differences between Omani culture and ours. Kim’s students couldn’t understand why she wasn’t at the hospital all the time this week; she told them she had to work. Omani families in their hordes descend upon the hospital when one of their members is ill, some even staying over night. Kim came once a day while i was recovering, during the posted visiting hours. It was more than enough.

When i was 13 (in 1968) i clearly recall a friend’s father getting angry at his son when the lad switched the needle on their portable, battery powered, record player from mono to stereo when he put a 45 rpm single on the platter. Dad knew that singles were only issued in mono and that to use the diamond stereo needle which was only for LPs (long play records) on a mono recording would needlessly wear out the more expensive stylus. my friend’s Dad blew his cool but then had to quickly climb down off his high horse when his son showed him that the recently released Beatles single had been released in stereo. (The picture shows the setting for an LP, flip the lever 180 degrees and you get the mono needle.)

i learned a lesson that day: never argue about technological change, especially with a teenager. Change happens so fast that it seems the older generation just can’t keep up.

Recently we moved house and attempted to connect our wireless base station to our iMac desktop and our two Macbook Pro laptops. Last year when i lived in Sohar alone, i connected my Macbook Pro directly to the Nawras modem connected to the microwave roof-mounted receiver. Two weeks ago when i was unpacking our iMac i tried to connect it directly to the internet in the same fashion, i was unable to. i then tried to connect the modem to our wireless base station. i found that my MacBook Pro could connect but that the iMac could not, would not and didn’t care. (it connected to the base station but couldn’t connect to the internet).

At this point i spent quality time on the phone with Nawras technicians at their call center located in either Muscat or New Delhi (you guess). These qualified personel were flummoxed by the Apple OS, they took notes and said they’d be back in touch. True to their word they did get back in touch with someone who supposedly could rectify the problem. He didn’t.

Yesterday afternoon my 14 year old son Rining was able to solve the problem. He managed to trouble-shoot something or other and within minutes of our coming home had us all on the internet via the base station. i bow to his fearless ability to solve a technical problem which had confounded paid professionals!

Luddites, you have nothing to fear with technological change. You only need worry about your inability to keep pace with it.

Queen Elizabeth II rocks! On Thursday July 14, 2011 she met The Prime Minister of Malaysia, Najib Razak, and his wife, Rosmah Mansor, during an audience at Buckingham Palace, London. She made her position on the current Malaysian political scene very plain, for all to see, by wearing bright yellow clothing during her audience with the Prime Minister.

Yellow is the colour of choice adopted by the popular anti-corruption Bersih (clean) campaign in Malaysia which last weekend attempted to hold a rally sanctioned by the Malaysian Agong (King). Queen Elizabeth is the head of The Commonwealth, of which Malaysia is a member. No doubt Najib will see the Queen’s sartorial shade selection as a slight and will seek to withdraw Malaysia from this august group of countries which help each other in times of need.

It is obvious that good Queen Bess is supporting her fellow royal the Malaysian King in his support of Bersih. After all royal families are becoming an endangered species.  It is also patently clear she is 100% behind the people of Malaysia and wanted to get into the P.M.’s face.

She made her point and made it loud and clear in canary yellow! As a citizen of another Commonwealth country i feel moved by QEII’s bold statement and will make sure i wear yellow when i visit my Malaysian family this summer. God save the Queen!

The new Make It Stop (September’s Children) video by Rise Against is a visual, visceral very vocal attack on bullying and homophobia. They may be from the Windy City but they sure aren’t blowhards. The lads have something to say and they say it poignantly and powerfully.

Excellent material that could easily be exploited by teachers concerned with bullying. The three sub-stories which make up the narrative of the video can easily be utilized as writing stimuli. This is perhaps the hardest hitting and socially/politically strong video since Linkin Park’s What I’ve Done was released in 2007. (btw if anyone is interested i’ve done an analysis of this video, edit by edit).

Stylistically the song continues a theme of asking rhetorical questions that has long stood the test of time (remember Black Eyed Peas Where Is The Love). This could be another avenue to look at when discussing the lyrics.