Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Bonowned

Another year

For 12 of the last 18 years she has been under house arrest...and despite the junta's relaxation of policies against humanitarian agencies wishing to provide aid for cyclone victims, she will be there for another year.



Aung San Suu Kyi

Read this and this

The Thomas Crown Affair

What do the Mona Lisa, the Scream, and a gold box by Bill Reid have in common?


They have all been stolen (and, with the exception of this last, returned).




The Scream has been stolen twice, once in 1994, and once in 2004, when it was held for ransom.





In 1911, the Mona Lisa was stolen by Italian workman Vincenzo Peruggia. "Annoyed by how many Italian works were in the French collection, Peruggia took the Mona Lisa from the wall of the Louvre while he was alone in the room and walked out with it under his smock.

It was missing for two years - but the French public queued in their thousands to see the blank space on the wall and the Mona Lisa's fame was guaranteed."

Now there is a bullet-proof casing surrounding the artwork, preventing other walk-by pilferings.



On Saturday, May 24th, 2 million dollars worth of artwork was stolen from the Museum of Anthropology at the University of British Columbia. Most notably stolen were several pieces in gold made by renown native artist Bill Reid, maker of this:


(NOTE: this was NOT stolen)

Though the Thomas Crown Affair is highly fictional, there are elements that are not.

In the still pending case of the missing gold pieces from the Museum of Anthropology, INTERPOL has been called to provide assistance. The FBI also has its own "Art Crime Team" consisting of "12 special agents." Don't believe me? check it out here They even have their own sweet badge:



"Bust-ed"

"Frieze! or I'l shoot!"

"He was caught using a semi-monochromatic"

Fine I'l stop with the art-cop jokes.

Check out the top heists of all time.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

They Say Lil Wayne is the Best Rapper Alive...


Please reconsider.




It ain't hard to tell...



Nas is like...



Half man, half amazing

Friday, May 23, 2008

American news blank.

HAH!

watch this video. I HOPE not to be stuck in this world.





I must bring out this quote again:

"To those who say people wouldn't look; they wouldn't be interested; they're too complacent, indifferent and insulated, I can only reply: There is, in one reporter's opinion, considerable evidence against that contention. But even if they are right, what have they got to lose? Because if they are right, and this instrument is good for nothing but to entertain, amuse and insulate, then the tube is flickering now and we will soon see that the whole struggle is lost. This instrument can teach, it can illuminate; yes, and it can even inspire. But it can do so only to the extent that humans are determined to use it to those ends. Otherwise it is merely wires and lights in a box… "

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Myanmar - random facts.


Myanmar is a state of some 55 million inhabitants. In 1988, the country was taken over by a military dictatorship, which remains in power despite free elections in 1990, resulting in the election of Aung San Suu Kyi (see here). Though it is presently named Myanmar, many countries, including Canada, the United States and Australia have refused to adopt this title in official policy, in an effort to undermine the authority of the ruling junta. Though this is wonderful solidarity, it seems to pale in comparison to the continued human rights violations perpetrated by the ruling dictatorship, and the lack of freedoms the citizens of Burma continue to experience, including the continued detainment of their democratically elected leader. Though western countries hold few strings when it comes to influencing Burma’s domestic policies, China does. It is also another country that has refused to adopt the modern, dictatorial “Myanmar”.

Also...junta is a word stemming from Spanish and Portuguese signifying “a military or political group that rules a country after taking power by force” – I did not know this, and thought I would share the discovery.

In 2005, the capital of Burma was moved from the coastal city of Yangon (Rangoon) to the brand new city of Naypyidaw, located in a more strategic, central inland region. In fact, the city was founded this same year. Despite the problems associated with moving and entire government into a brand new city (no stores, no schools, no hospitals, no police, no telephones etc.) things have ironed themselves out, as the shiny new capital is now home to some 900 000 people, complete with working phones, hospitals, schools and even its own vast slums.

Some have called this new mountain-top capital a fortress in which the ruling General Than Shwe might maintain his military power. It is said that the chosen date of inauguration of the city was suggested from his astrologist, as this day would give General Shwe unending military power.

Others, however, see this mountainous citadel as a way for the General to hide from his own people...

"People should not be afraid of their governments. Governments should be afraid of their people." - V for Vandetta

Or as one philosopher put it...

"the prince who has more to fear from the people than from foreigners ought to build fortresses, but he who has more to fear from foreigners than from the people ought to leave them alone."

(check this out)

Sunday, May 11, 2008

“The Question should not just be why is there war, but also, why is there peace.”


The response to violence is often reactionary. The word vendetta, originally from Italian, describes a situation in which the family of a murdered person seeks vengeance. In law, one is legally allowed to use violence in self-defense. “it is the right for civilians acting on their own behalf to engage in violence for the sake of self-defense of one's own life or the lives of others, including the use of deadly force.” In international law, jus ad bellum describes the circumstances under which a country might legally go to war. This includes the right to react violently to aggression, preemptive war etc. An increase in violent crime is treated with increased police enforcement. The language of violence at every level focuses more on the act itself than the desired state of its resolution. In conflict resolution, one tends to analyze what causes violence, rather than what leads to peace.

There is no fault in focusing primarily on the violent aspects of conflict. In approaching such conflicts as the Rwandan genocide, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan or the Palestine-Israel dispute, it is critical that the origins of the violence are understood. Any given resolution will be required to deal with the causes as well as the consequences of the wars. There is, however, a void in analysis of the aftermath. Why is there peace?


Despite the prevalence of violence in today’s news coverage, the last 100 years have been the most peaceful in human history. Why is this? Steven Pinker proposes four reasons:


Firstly he says Thomas Hobbes was right, the state of nature is solitary, nasty, brutish and short, and as a result, one is tempted to engage in conflict so as not to have it inflicted upon them by another actor. His solution to this is the Leviathan, one overbearing agent with a monopoly on the use of violence, capable of punishing perpetrators, thus reducing the temptation for smaller actors to engage in such savagery as in the state of nature. This would stem the usage of preemptive invasions and revenge acts. Pinker sites the rise of strong central governments in Europe, which coincided with a decline in violence. Today, he notes, violence is often the product of anarchic circumstances, he sees this as further supporting Hobbes’ logic.

Secondly, Pinker sites political scientist James Pain’s arguments. Pain opines that life is cheap, but with technology, civilization, life-spans have become much longer, resulting in individuals placing more value on their lives. Consequently, one is less likely to inflict violence on someone else, the more they perceive their own life as valuable.

Thirdly, Pinker cites journalist Robert Wright’s insight into game theory. Wright has proposed the accepted benefits of the non zero-sum game. Co-operation is more likely to benefit both parties in a greater way. Trade, globalization, and the interconnection resultant of increased technological means for positive interactions most often exemplify this.

Lastly, Pinker notes Peter Singer’s expanding circle theory. This contends, “Evolution has bequeathed humans with a sense of empathy.” That is, we inherently treat people in a manner comparable to the way we ourselves wish to be treated. (Think golden rule). This empathy is firstly applied to the smaller circle comprising of family and friends. Singer, however, suggests that over time, this has expanded to include the village, city, province, state etc. It is said that this is likely the product of cosmopolitanism, education and the logic of the golden rule.


Steven Pinker asks us not only to think about what we have done wrong, but also what we have done right….

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Top 5s explained.

Somewhat of a deviation from previous discussions, I shall now “dabble” into the realm of top 5s.

What are they? They are the listing of what one considers their top 5 choices in any given subject matter. At the most rudimentary level, they are a form of entertainment, yet they offer incredible insight. Five strikes the perfect balance between a detailed list and a small sampling. It allows one to selectively chose their favorites without creating a massive exhaustive tome. It is a chance at seriously delving into someone’s interests:

Top 5 movies:
1) The Godfather
2) Apocalypse now
3) Good Night and Good Luck
4) O Brother Where Art Thou
5) The Gods Must be crazy

or swim in the completely random,

Top 5 “YE”’s:
1) KanYE
2) YEmen
3) they be like ludah, and I belike YEEEEAEAAAHHH
4) YEast
5) YEltsin


On that note,

Top 5s… go.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Aung San Suu Kyi


(her name in Burmese)


Sorry for the crudeness of the following, but no matter what, I probably couldn't do it justice anyways.

When one thinks of top 5 best human beings ever, names like Nelson Mandela come to mind. There are others flying under the radar.

Her commitment to the peaceful democratization of her country is humbling.
Aung San Suu Kyi is the rightfully elected Prime Minister of Burma, aka. Myanmar. Instead, she has been under house arrest for the better part of the years between her election in 1990 and the present day. She is also the only Nobel Peace Prize winner to be living under house arrest. On April 25th, 2008, the US Congress Awarded Mrs. Suu Kyi the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest civilian award in the US. Though meaningless in light of the continuation of the military dictatorship within Burma, when one considers the other non-American recipients of the Congressional Gold Medal, (Sir Winston Churchill, Pope John Paul II, Nelson Mandela, the Dalai Lama and Mother Theresa ) one sees her place in the abovementioned top 5…

In his book entitled “Courage: Eight Portraits”, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown accurately describes Mrs. Suu Kyi.

"Suu Kyi's courage is the courage to sacrifice her own happiness and a comfortable life so that, through her struggle, she might win the right of an entire nation to seek happy and comfortable lives. It is the absolute expression of selflessness. Paradoxically, in sacrificing her own liberty, she strengthens its cry and bolsters its claim for the people she represents."


Despite their attempts to bring Burma to the forefront of Human Rights awareness, I feel like it comes across like a PSA... whatever, the cause is important.
New York Times Article on US campaign for Burma.

What the article is talking about.