Wednesday, October 23, 2013

If You Just So Happen to Have a Spare Hour...

It's so interesting and eye opening and completely worth it. It's not your average boring Discovery Channel show, well maybe a little but still, give it a chance!
(I tried to get the video on here but I'm not nearly tech savvy enough when it comes to hulu)


Tuesday, October 15, 2013

A Breath of Fresh Air

So I don't know about you guys, but I'm just a tad tired of hearing about our government and its problems. You can turn on any news channel you wish and watch everybody point fingers at everybody else and bla bla political jargon, bla bla Republicans, bla bla ObamaCare, I'm tired of hearing about it and all other world news has basically vanished off of our radar. Remember Syria and their Civil War? Oh yeah them, the ones getting murdered by their government, what happened with that? Unless you really go out and seek this stuff, which lets face it no one really has the time to do since we're not directly affected by it, you don't really know about it. I can understand how it seems impractical to be worried about the rest of the world when right here in America we're having problems, but the difference is our problems could've been avoided (*COUGH COUGH* REPUBLICANS). But anyway, I digress. 

One thing I read happened today was a bomb went off in a crowd of Sunni worshippers while they were leaving a mosque in northern Iraq after finishing prayers for the start of a major Muslim holiday called Eid al-Adha. 12 people were killed and 24 were wounded. No one has taken responsibility yet for the attack, but according to abc news "More than 5,000 people have been killed in Iraq since al-Qaida and other militants stepped up attacks following a deadly security crackdown against a Sunni protest camp in April." Here is one of the links to that story if you'd like to know more information: 

So I don't know about you guys but I never fully understood the bad blood between the Shias and the Sunnis. I knew they didn't like each other, and hadn't liked each other since, well, always, but besides that I was completely unaware of how it all happened.

I am not a Middle Eastern expert, I'm not an expert on Islam, this is simplified, and all that other disclaimer jazz, but let's get started:

Just an FYI:  Shia, Shi'ite, Shiite = all talking about the same thing. 

To really grasp all this we have to go way back...

570 AD to be exact which is when Mohammed was born. He was born in the Arabian Peninsula which at the time was full of tribes. As far as society went your tribe meant everything. They were a Pagan, Polytheistic people and the Peninsula as a whole was very fragmented and not unified whatsoever. 

Mohammed was born into the equivalent of a Middle Class and after the death of his parents at a young age he was raised by his uncle who was really powerful and had a lot of influence. Mohammed becomes a semi-successful merchant and does well for himself.

Mecca is the trading center where Mohammed lives. People from all over come to trading centers and talk and exchange ideas, he heard about Judaism and Christianity and was intrigued by them.

Mohammed was described by others as a noble, just, person who was social and practical and was even used as a mediator between tribes when there were problems. He was an overall good guy.

In his 20's he married a women who was 15 years older than him, and would sometimes go to a cave, away from the hustle and bustle of daily life and apart from society, and meditate. Although he was religiously inquisitive, he was Pagan like everyone around him was at the time. One day during his meditation, he had a revelation and was visited by the angel Gabriel. Gabriel tells him "Proclaim!" The gist of what Gabriel says is from this point on you will be my messenger, there's only 1 God and you will spread that message. Mohammed went home to wife and freaked out. He thought he was having a mental breakdown and was going crazy, but she believed him and thought he was being used by God. 

Over the years Mohammed has other visitations and the manor in which God is to be honored is laid out to him.

This was very different from what everyone else believed, Mohammed still lived in a Pagan, Polytheistic society where people believed in many gods. His life was threatened by the other Tribes who had different beliefs from him and his powerful uncle was a big part of what kept him safe. The more Mohammed spread his message, the more followers he gained and the more trouble there was with the other tribes. Eventually his uncle died and without his protection his chances of being killed were very great so he leaves Mecca thus creating Hegira.

Hegira is the flight from Mecca. Mohammed goes to a place called Medina where he establishes the first Muslim community. The Koran is created here and he gains more followers. 10 years later, Mohammed, with an army of his followers, returns to Mecca and in 622 AD he captures it, turning Mecca into the most important site in the Islamic faith. He goes on to conquer the rest of the Arabian Peninsula and unifies them under Islam.

Islam - submission to God

Muslim - one who submits to Allah's divine guidance 

Someone can't be an Islam, and someone can't practice Muslim. 

Allah - Arabic for the word "God". It's the same Judea/Christian God, just a different word for it. Mohammad liked Christians and Jews,  he considered them "people of the book", children of God, believers of Allah.

Eventually Mohammed becomes very sick, very quickly, and before he can name a successor, in 632 AD, he dies. This is what leads to the split in the faith. One group thinks Mohammed's cousin is the successor, the other group doesn't want to follow the cousin. Eventually the cousin is assassinated and there's a lot of tension between the two groups. The Sunni Muslims, who make up about 85%, didn't want to follow the cousin, they didn't think he was worthy to lead them. The Shia Muslims, who make up about 10-15%, wanted the cousin. 

And that's how it all began. They've literally disliked each other for thousands of years. 

You may ask, how is this still relevant? Well, let's take a look at Syria. The Assad Family is affiliated with an offshoot of Shia Islam that's about 12% of the Syrian population. They have tight control over Syria' security services which made the Sunni Muslims, who make up the other 75% of the population, not so happy. Not to say that all of Syria is either Sunni or Shia, the Syrian Kurds weren't so jazzed about ethnic discrimination either, but I'm just generalizing as far as the big religions in the area. Also, on top of all this, Syria's poorer areas are predominantly conservative Sunnis who are discontent with the government. Basically Assad helped his people, he created policies that benefited the minority which just so happened to be people with government connections and the Sunni merchant class. I'm not saying this caused the civil war or the current state of Syria, but it certainly didn't help anything. 

How do you even begin to go about resolving an issue like this, it's practically imbedded in their being not to like each other. It's an extremely delicate situation at best.

And you thought America had problems, HA!


Thought of the day...

A picture is worth a thousand words so I'll let you draw your own conclusions from this.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Well Said Gloria, Well Said

Gloria Steinem on whether this whole Miley Cyrus scandal has set back females:

"You know, I don't think so. I wish we didn't have to be nude to be noticed, but given the game as it exists, women make decisions. For instance, the Miss America contest is in all of its states, forms … the single greatest source of scholarship money for women in the United States. If a contest based only on appearance was the single greatest source of scholarship money for men, we would be saying, 'This is why China wins.' You know? It's ridiculous. But that's the way the culture is. I think that we need to change the culture, not blame the people that are playing the only game that exists."

Earlier on the "Miley" subject she said;

"It seems obvious that certain record companies are peddling highly styled pornography with musical accompaniment."


Sunday, October 6, 2013

Should There Be An Age Limit?

As someone who began competing in track and field at the age of 4, I can relate to this whole child athlete thing pretty well.

I'll come down to practice on the track and there will be kids, little kids, there with their parents training for hours on end. Intense training too; 400s and hills, things of that nature. Kids have a lot of energy, wanting them to get outside and tire themselves out is one thing, but to be competitively training like that, so young, is that even healthy?

That kind of physical stress on such a young body does not bode well for the future. I hear these stories all the time; athletes who were amazing as kids, pure prodigies, who slowly start improving less and less and finally plateau somewhere around 7th or 8th grade. The human body can only take so much. Track is a unique sport in that their is no off season. I did a lot of other sports so I didn't start doing it year round until high school, but that was not the norm. Cross country goes straight into indoor track which goes straight into spring track. And the circle goes on and on. It's an 11 month sport. If since you were a toddler you're training 11 months a year of course you're gonna peak at 12! You just burn out. 

Just this summer there were kids who set world records in the 100 and 400 at junior Olympics. They were five. FIVE. And most of them were as fast as I am now at age 17. Maybe even faster.

I always marvel at how every year records are broken and new ones set and I ask myself, how is this possible? Is it because it's a trial an error process where the up and commers learn from their predecessors and adjust to be more efficient, or is it becuase each year that age group started training a year earlier than the one before it?

I go to training facilities where they have toddler classes, little kids lifting, squatting, doing ladder drills and high knees.

I've talked to some of these parents and here's the rationalization:
Of course there's the parents vicariously living out athletic dreams through their kids and pushing their kids to be the Olympians they didn't have the talent to be, that's always a given, but on the other hand,  College sports are more and more competitive, which means it's harder to get a spot, which means it's harder to get a scholarship. In an economy like this, it's better to spend the $1,000 for a personal trainer for your kid than the $50,000 a year (and going up) for tuition.

I can't say it's not a sound argument.

One sport I know is very political is travel soccer, I have a lot of friends who play it. If you weren't on the rec. team since age 2 and didn't have a trainer, you're less likely to get on the travel team. And if you're not on the travel team you're less likely to get on the high school team. And if your not on a travel or high school team you can't get scouted by a college, which means no scholarship. 

The longer you do any craft the better you'll be at it, that's just fact. For a parent to push their child to reach their full potential in something makes sense...

But is it fair for the kids? 

I mean eventually the sport will become habit, pure muscle memory, if you start them young enough... But that doesn't mean they like it, and they certainly never asked to be born into financial issues. It's kind of like how school was back in the day when you didn't understand the value of an education and all that jazz. School was kind of annoying. You had to wake up early, do stuff you didn't always feel like doing, and it took up a lot of time, but it was sometimes okay because you could see your friends, every so often you did fun stuff, and you vaguely knew one day it would all pay off. 

I'm not saying doing sports as a kid is a bad thing, I actually think it's very important. It lays the ground work for a healthy lifestyle, teaches kids how to socialize, be a team player, be a leader, all that good stuff. BUT there's a difference between recreational sports for fun, fresh air, and exercise,  as opposed to training 4 hours a day 7 days a week with a lifting and diet regimen. 

I understand parents just want the best for their kids and want to put them in the best position possible for a bright future, but that doesn't always translate. There's a fine line between a gentle push in the right direction and a full on shove.

I think kids need time to just be kids. 

Rule of thumb: If your child hasn't reached a double digit age, it's too early to get on them about training/scholarships. 

They'll have plenty of time to worry about money in the future, let them have their childhood.