Archive for May, 2010

The useless piece of paper

May 12, 2010

How “the value of an education” has reduced our society into a mundane and mediocre experience

In today’s world, most people would equate obtaining a college degree with living a successful life. Unfortunately, that is largely true…

How many years of this will you sentence yourself to?

Everything seems to come down to the classroom: how many hours you have spent in class, how much homework you have done, how many credits you have earned, and the piece of paper you are given as a reward, better known as a degree. There are many companies and employers who will refuse to have anything to do with an applicant who has not done the 4+ year prison sentence, even if they are eager and more than capable of doing what is needed. Now, things are more difficult than ever…community colleges are bursting at the seams and tuition costs for universities are going through the roof. In fact, some people are shelling out $20-30,000 a year only to emerge without the ability to locate Iraq on a map or identify what political party Abraham Lincoln was involved in. How pathetic is that?

As a student, I always find myself thinking of what I’d really like to be doing every time I force myself into the classroom…and it’s not just because I am awash with ADD. Last year, I learned more about life and the world we live in when I visited South Asia. I discovered who I could be and what I wanted to do…and I didn’t even have to assess into a math class. Since then, I’ve come to realize that there are many famous people — in fact, many people who have changed the world — who either gave up or skipped the classroom altogether. Just a few examples…

  • Mahatma Gandhi
  • Harry S. Truman
  • Rush Limbaugh
  • Eminem
  • Abraham Lincoln
  • Bill Gates
  • Andrew Jackson
  • Amelia Earhart
  • Woody Allen
  • George Washington

Many of these people have changed the world in spectacular ways or have accomplished things that many of us only dream of…and the piece of paper that today’s society demands was not even needed. If I had it my way, I would take all the money I will spend on college these next two years and use it to travel and gain the experience in life I need. Maybe everyone should. I mean, come on, its not as if our world, even though it demands degrees from those who seek success, is a perfect place. Far from it, in fact.

My ideal classroom...a visit to Indonesia

In the West, “the value of an education” and its ripple effects produce a population that is enslaved to mediocrity and a boring way of life: you are born, go to school, go to college, get a job, get married, produce a few kids, get a mortgage, plan for retirement, save for the kids’ “education”, suffer a few financial and subsequent health problems, send the kids off to college, weep at the sight of their empty room, pay bills, retire (if you live long enough), and die.

Perhaps you are reading this and thinking I am just a misinformed college student. But…think for a minute about how many lives could be summed up with the above list. I’m guessing there are quite a few…probably even a clear majority who live that way. When I realize this, I can’t help but shudder at the thought of paying tens of thousands of dollars just so I can find a place among billions in a lifestyle that is the same — a depressing, perpetual cycle on a spinning rock in space. It doesn’t have to be that way, though. If you are like me and need some inspiration, do some research on some of the people I mentioned above. Their stories are amazing. The things they accomplished were amazing. They were adventurous and stepped off the path that everyone else took…and some of them ended up leaving today’s world a better place than the world they found.

As for me, I don’t know what I am going to do…I want to have a degree, but I’m not going to punish myself if it proves to be too difficult. Maybe I should book a one-way ticket to some remote corner of the world 😀

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He’s baaaaack!

May 4, 2010

A few months ago I posted about Hakimullah Mehsud, the violent leader of the Pakistani Taliban. Shortly after, he was reported to have been killed in a drone strike, only to reappear in this shocking video, released just in time to coincide with the bombing attempt in Time Square.

Over on Huffington Post, some people in the comments sections are expressing their dismay that the culprit in the attempted bombing was not a “teabagger” or a right-wing extremist (nice to see that America is this divided, eh?). Other publications, such as Mother Jones, are expressing similar lunacy. Hakimullah and his Tehreek-e-Taliban may be disappointed that scores of people were not incinerated in this car bomb attempt, but they must be happy and enthusiastic to see the cracks that are splintering through the United States due to politics. Car bombs aren’t really necessary…America is tearing itself apart on its own.

Meanwhile, I have been commenting on The Long War Journal, where some of my fellow commentators have used the Time Square attack to berate Pakistan. While Pakistan has made some dumb mistakes in the past (USA and all countries have too) it’s not really fair to point the finger at the state of Pakistan because a car bomb was found in NYC. Up until now, Hakimullah’s TTP has largely been targeting Pakistanis, including the ISI (Pakistan’s intelligence agency), which is often accused of supporting the Taliban in Afghanistan. While Pakistan has attempted to route the Taliban from its tribal areas, its cities — the markets, schools, rallies, and government buildings — are paying the price in the form of increasingly deadly suicide bombings that have taken thousands of lives. During these attacks, the commuters in Time Square have gone about their busy days uninterrupted. This car bomb operation is very disturbing, but Americans should not act as if they are the only ones suffering from terrorism. Believe it or not, we have actually been lucky these last 8 years.  The citizens of Lakki Marwat — a small town in Pakistan’s Northwest that was hit by a massive truck bomb at the beginning of the year — might agree.

These new revelations regarding the Time Square plot are confirming my suspicions, which I mention in my first link, that Mehsud and other warlords are filling the vacuum that has been left behind by Osama Bin Laden, who could either be dead or increasingly irrelevant in this seemingly never-ending conflict.

Somalia violence reaches new proportions

May 1, 2010

Today, two powerful bombs tore through a mosque in the heart of Mogadishu, killing dozens of people and opening up a new front of violence that had been limited, for the most part at least, to Iraq and Pakistan, where attacks on mosques and markets are a regular occurrence. Although in this case, the forces fighting for “resistance” (Al-Shabaab and Hizbul-Islam) are targeting each other…instead of innocent Shiite worshipers. A senior leader of Al-Shabaab was supposedly addressing his supporters at the mosque when the bombs went off. From what I have seen so far, the attacks do not appear to be suicide bombings, although Somalia has been faced with several of them. Last week, Al-Shabaab dispatched a suicide car bomber to an African Union Base, claiming it was revenge for the killings of Masri and Baghadi, Al-Qaeda’s two top leaders in Iraq.

Here’s the story about the attacks:

More than 45 people including Al Shabaab insurgents were killed and 100 others wounded in an Iraq-style twin bombing inside a mosque in Somalia’s restive capital Mogadishu, witnesses and security officials told Garowe Online.

Witnesses said the bombs went off shortly after the afternoon prayers inside the Abdalla Shideye Mosque in Bakara Market, a stronghold for the insurgent group, Al Shabaab.

“The explosions were big and occurred inside the Mosque. The place turned dark with huge black smoke everywhere the mosque. I saw several dead and injured people,” said eyewitness Abdinasir Ahmed.

He added that at the time of the explosion, a senior commander of Al Shabaab named Sheikh Fuad Mohamed Shongole was delivering a sermon to the mosque’s congregants.

Ali Muse of Mogadishu Ambulance Service said they have assisted “over 100” wounded people, and some are in critical condition.

Sheikh Ali Mohammed Rage, Al Shabaab’s spokesman, blamed “foreign mercenaries” for the blasts.

Unsurprisingly, Shabaab’s leaders are pointing the finger at “foreign mercenaries” for this attack. At least its not as ridiculous as the claims by some people in the Arab world and American leftists/right-wing isolationists that the CIA is responsible for the car bombings in Iraq.