Monthly Archives: March 2014

US Violates Own Laws Through Aiding Ukrainian Gov’t

There is always the interesting conundrum of how laws and the government’s desires affect one another, and this is no different as we are looking at a situation where the US has actually violated its own laws on book.

I am not here to say that the aid to the Ukraine was necessarily wrong, but rather to point out that such a law does exist, and that our “lawmakers” seem to have neither very much foresight nor concern for their hypocrisy…

Washington’s decision to provide financial aid to the coup-appointed government of Ukraine goes against the US laws, Russia’s Foreign Ministry said, urging American politicians to think about the consequences of supporting the radicals in Kiev.

Ukraine’s ousted president, Viktor Yanukovich, said on Tuesday that the US plans to loan $1 billion to the country’s new authorities are illegal.

“Indeed, in accordance with the amendments introduced to the 1961 law (Foreign Assistance Act) a few years ago the provision of foreign assistance is prohibited to ‘the government of any country whose duly elected head of government is deposed by military coup or decree.’ The relevant provision is contained in 22 US Code § 8422,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

“Thus, by all criteria the provision of funds to the illegitimate [Kiev] regime, which seized power by force, is unlawful and goes beyond the boundaries of the US legal system,” the statement added.


It makes the whole thing rather comical because it seems that we have ignored our own laws not so much for aiding a democratic movement, a movement for transparency and superior government in the Ukraine but at this point it seems clear such aid has only come to play some geopolitical games with the Russians.

But what did we really expect?

The US truly concerned with consistency? This, of course, from a country that labels itself the most free but has illegalized having a beer on the street (or selling alcoholic beverages after a certain hour).

This is a rather embarrassing situation.

… Another Nude FEMEN Protest

The FEMEN protests have always been characterized by being way over the top and often invading places that they shouldn’t be. They have become a lot more interesting because of these radical protest actions and they really have found the right formula for getting on the news… But I think this is the case of them actually spinning their wheels and doing nothing.

Some people who already like this ideology will cheer, but a lot of relatively normal people who are somewhere in between “far left” and “far right” (90% of people) are probably being turned off.

Their anti-Hijab protests also backfired like crazy because some of the Muslim women who are even feministic were disgusted by this 100% white, European girl attack on their culture and what amounts to perhaps a mischaracterization of what Hijab is… To us it can be purely a symbol of restriction and oppression immediately and I might be beating a dead horse here but this is not necessarily nor intrinsically how it is.

On some level, I think they are just a media sideshow act at this point because God knows once every month or two someone is going to do something vaguely shocking… But as the shock of it wears off, it just becomes annoying and a grandiose self-parody.

The problem with being shocking is that the meaning is always lost in the wake of the event, and this is no different.

They would do much more for their cause simply by running a mature website with great discussion points. Oh, sure, it wouldn’t get the publicity but this isn’t Hollywood. In the world of ideas there is such a thing as bad press.

Just ask the Catholic church how the pedophile scandals are going.

Is lipstick and flowers a thing for FEMEN now? Heh…

A Small Glimpse Into North Afghanistan

It almost seems like a total joke for someone to refer to something from Afghanistan as lovely. Since the Taliban takeover, the place has been thought of as among the worst of the worst places on Earth. However, Afghanistan does have a rich history, and we shouldn’t be so easily put off by the geopolitical hiccups. After all, what can you say about a place that used to be a common travel destination for hippies?

Mazar e Sharif is a city in northern Afghanistan; demographically, it is a mix of Tajiks, Hazaras (70%, essentially all Farsi speakers) and Uzbeks and Pashtos are also present The city is rich in history and within the Balkh province which has a long history unto itself.

The totality of Afghanistan is very diverse though it generally falls into a divide between Iranian & Turkic groups. Look at this amazing map to see the distribution.

Just so you know: Hazaras are Shi’ites and Farsi speakers; Balocks (Baluchs) speak their own language not that different from Farsi, perhaps 70-80% interchangeable. Tajiks speak Farsi proper but written in cyrillic even though there is now a movement to return to the arabic script. Baluchs, Tajiks and Hazaras are all relatively religiously moderate.

It is the Pashtuns that I have heard generally make up the most of the Taliban. Pashtuns also live in large concentrations in north Pakistan. A lot of the conflict seems to be Pashtuns versus Hazaras, who have a dramatic hatred for one another (perhaps partly due to the Shi’ite nature of the Hazaras).

Pashtuns are known to be quite religious; they are also known to be big fans of dancing and naswar. Naswar is a tobacco and lime mixture with all sorts of little ingredients; it is often placed under the tongue or by the lower lip or cheeks when chewed. It is not uncommon for Naswar to be mixed with opium. Opiate based naswar will numb out your whole face and give you an intense, euphoric feeling. First time users, though, often vomit.

The national language of Afghanistan is, of course, Dari, and it is extremely similar to Farsi. The language had been referred to within Afghanistan as ‘Farsi’ until they changed the name in part to distinguish themselves more from Iran.

Mazar e Sharif seems like an impeccable place to visit — The city is situated next to some very picturesque mountains:

The mosque of Mazar e Sharif looks to be astounding:

Really an excellent place to potentially go visit.

I was also slightly surprised to see that they do camel fighting in Afghanistan. I had first heard of this being done in Turkey and in Turkish parts of Iran, and it seemed quite exciting and interesting then. I did not know that such a thing was present all the way through to Afghanistan as well:


When you see camels fight, there is one overall tactic: try to get your neck up and above your opponent and rest it on his neck, and thereby bte parts of him; they likewise smash into each other and push each other fiercely to get into position to do this.

They’re also often separated when a winner is found by groups of men simply using large ropes. I wish I could find the old video on camel fighting I saw years ago to more illumine this post.

I seem to recollect, as well, that the camel fights occur only during mating season when the bull camels are all prepared to fight for breeding rights. This is not some artificially induced violence between the camels, but rather it is something that many camels are already naturally inclined to do each year.

Notice the white stuff on the one camel’s back? That is spit; before fighting, the bull camels work themselves into a frenzy and froth spit at the mouth. This is where a lot of our ideas of ‘spitting camels’ come from.

I think it is a shame that so many people overlook places like Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, etc. when they have quite lovely nature and rich culture as well as long and dramatic histories, including surprising links to our own.

It is also relatively silly to look at a place as ethnically diverse as Afghanistan, who also has extremely religiously moderate neighbors like Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, and to write them off as a nation that is purely destined to extremism

It is a nation that can have a very bright future if it develops smartly.

Good Can Be Sought Through Different Means

One of the important questions that we ask ourselves before we devote so much time to political rhetoric: can any single idea embrace the good in its totality and have an entire monopoly on right and wrong?

Is there even any idea that we can recognize as being 100% in the good?

Perhaps the answer really is no: with every choice that we make we give up some other benefit that goes with it.

We can choose to always eat healthy and then we have the benefit of heightened health and peak physical capability; we can also always choose to eat whatever we want and then we have the happiness of food pleasure but we do no have as much health. Of course, a great many people will choose different things at the end of the day, and will have basically different motives.

We see no reason to berate those who disagree with us, though, whether they are the health nuts or they are the hedonistic eaters or, more likely, someone in between. The reason being that we’ve reached some conclusion that what is right for us (or for any one person) may not be right for others.

It is clear to see that the same can be said of ideology. Some people, through religious inspiration, become greater than they are. Others seem to melt. Some become extremely liberal, open books whose religion is fundamentally one of mercy and mass outreach and dismissive of division or discipline, and then there are those who lead an extremely conservative religious path that is more about their own individual journey and the restrictive guidance towards a disciplined life of personal religious practice…

Vincent Van Gogh and his father, a Minister, were diametrically opposed Christians; Vincent a liberal artist steeped in liberal and emotional spirituality, his father a traditionalist and a quiet disciplined conservative.

There is a plurality of options on how to do anything, and likewise there are many ways for us to reach the good and the positive. Not to mention, there are many goals that we all have that can be divergent.

This is precisely where ideas of democracy come into play — and also, the ideas of individual states having a right to their own self-determination. Precisely because different people desire different things and we cannot necessarily condemn any one of them as being so much superior or inferior, but often times merely different.

Some use this to promote societies where people are utterly indifferent towards one’s behavior and fundamentally libertine, but I would prefer to use this to illustrate the idea of national and regional self-determination. When people come together in groups and have power over their own communities and laws they can create an individualized society representative of their own beliefs and ideas, thus standing independently and producing an efficacious and harmonious society.

The former idea seems to promote solely the spilling of a vast flood of indifference across the borders of the globe. It is the precise concept that, as opposed to respecting and honoring the differences within societies and their abilities to create communities which they desire to live in, we ought to universally change the face of the planet towards one that only corresponds to a single desire that is only representative of a small amount of people. It becomes democratic only in the sense that it seems to exaggerate the universalization of libertinism to such an extent that it would violate the rights of groups to erect their own ways of life.

In some sense, the truly democratic method is one of self-determination and not one of disenfranchising and disempowering vast population groups and preventing them from living in the ways they feel that they want to live.

In some very real sense, we have to tolerate the Islamic Republic and the people’s right to pursue their own fate under Shariah law; we also likewise have to respect each individual state’s inclinations towards either the Left or the Right, however they see fit, in determining their individual paths.

Groups are not unlike individuals — and by denying the right of a group to fulfill their own personal political ambitions because of the idea that only one way is correct is dictating a narrow policy not beneficial to anyone.

Precisely because we can all pursue the good through different means and collective efforts, it is wise to allow self-determination to various groups, whether they be Crimean, Afghani, Californian or Filipino. And this self-determination hinges in part on respecting the collective decisions made by the society towards their direction. This does not necessarily mean honoring a tyrant’s right to lord over the masses but merely accepting that large parts of the world have significantly different visions for their own futures.