Thursday, December 5, 2013

Seven Billion Ways to Start a Revolution: A tribute to Nelson Mandela

Greetings to all my friends and bloggers around the world... yes, The Doctor of Patronomics has returned... you know what that means... tell it Martin Lawrence...

It has been two years since my last post, and my life keeps rolling. Teaching, marriage, life projects, grading, homework, publishing... all those things have kept me busy and they have fueled my fire and my "kung-fu".

Tonight I decided to return to this blog, revamp it, tweak the title a little bit as a tribute to a great man who just left this earth: NELSON MANDELA. Nelson Mandela, former political prisoner, South African President, Nobel Peace Prize winner, and all-around epic human being, left a hole in our souls today when he passed away. He was an example of "putting your money (and your life) where your mouth is", a man whose actions spoke as loudly as his words. His legacy is too big to describe in one blog, and too powerful just to talk about it. 

Mandela was all about social justice, as were many others who walked that road less traveled that he did. He believed that freedom was about one's piece of mind, and he believed in education as a game-changer.

nelson mandela, quotes, sayings, wise, wisdom, education

I haven't stopped believing that education can change the game; that's why I haven't lost my faith and my desire after doing this for 20 years already; that's why I wake up every day to work and try to make a difference; that's what I teach what I teach and how I teach. I still believe, as Taylor Mali once said, that I can "make a goddamn difference" and with God as my witness, the day I don't believe that, I might as well hand in my resignation because I'll harm my students by not giving them an excellent teacher.

Mandela was a revolutionary, not necessarily the Rolex-and-fatigues-combo type, mind you, but a revolutionary nonetheless. He was a freedom fighter, but not in the way some Danish groups have romanticized them in t-shirts and DJ mixes. He was a man of action through policy and politics, contrary to some politicians elsewhere who forgot what Braveheart's William Wallace said, "There is a difference between us. You think the people of this country exist to provide you with position. I think your position exists to provide those people with freedom."

This leads me back to the title of this blog: Seven billion ways to start a revolution... but before this, a musical interlude by Ms. Tracy Chapman:

(Talkin' bout a revolution - Performed at a Mandela tribute)

Ok, after this, let's get into the heart of the matter: Mandela, like others before him (and hopefully many more after him), taught us that there are many ways to start a revolution. While some of them may start or end in uprising, as was the case of the Arab Spring, or in protests, as they did in the Occupy movement, there are many other forms of revolution available. I want for a moment to focus on the "whispers" that Ms. Chapman was talking about. You see, those are the most meaningful ones, the little revolutions that start in the workplace, in the classroom, at home even. Reloading Gil Scott-Herron (whom I've cited in previous thoughts), I would like to revisit my initial thought: Big-size revolutions will be all over Facebook, Twitter, and other outlets... the smaller ones will not, but we need those small-size revolutions to effect some real change around us.

What revolutions am I talking about? Those we can make wearing a suit and tie, as I once told my students. The smallest revolutions are those about acting with a strong moral compass, with a sense of not looking at other until I wonder what that soft surface I'm stepping on is, with a sense of ethics. Those revolutions are about not being a douche and avoid leaving your litter all over the place, or about not cutting off people or cars in a long line. These revolutions are about being a "Good Guy Greg" (citing the famous meme) on a daily basis. These little revolutions are about those who recycle, or pick up their mess, or do not try to cheat their way out of a paper, even if seemingly everybody around them does the opposite. Revolutionary people always "think outside the box" and "go against the grain".

And sometimes it happens that these tiny revolutions lead to bigger ones. We hear examples about folks painting bike paths, as folks in Mexico City and Medellín have done in recent years. We hear stories about grassroots movements that work for education, health, etc. Examples like these are small-scale revolutions, non-violent in nature but powerful in meaning. The idea of "revolution" has been bastardized and romanticized in recent years, with references to Pancho Villa and Che Guevara, with loose references to Freire and McLaren, or the occasional Deepak Chopra or Paulo Coelho moment of zen. 

To me, revolution goes deeper than that. It's about fighting the good fight from wherever we are. When I meet a bank teller, a public servant, or a police officer who does their job well, displaying dignity and politeness, I see a spark of revolution. I see in my teachers who work hard to provide quality education, even if politicians and business people love to throw them under a bus every chance they get... and I see it in those politicians and business people who have the courage to become their allies. Those sparks are everywhere... and as it may happen that the smallest spark can start a fire, I believe that a revolution may start by the sheer combination of those seven billion sparks... sometimes all it takes is doing the right thing, making the righteous choice, not cutting corners. I think it's the simplest actions what may start the deepest revolutions of the think and do... or as post-modern philosopher Michael Jackson would say...

"I'm starting with the man in the mirror"

But, why do I still believe in these silent revolutions, when there is so much evidence of mediocrity and corruption around us? Why do others like me and unlike around the world still do? Because, paraphrasing NIck Fury, we'll need all of us to. 

And here is the time when I return to Nelson Mandela: Why do we still believe in these small revolutions of the think and do? Because we owe him that much! Yes, I believe we owe him and many others a debt: to make this world a better place. It's not just Mandela to whom we owe. We also owe this to other great human beings before him: John Lennon, Dr. Martin Luther King, Mahatma Gandhi, Rosa Parks, Bertrand Russell, Monsignor Oscar Romero... as well as all those unsung heroes at Plaza de Mayo, in Chile, Tiananmen Square, Rwanda, Tibet, and of course all of them in my beloved Colombia. We owe this to all those people who work hard every day to make a tiny difference and those who work hard to make a larger difference. As I said, there are about seven billion ways to start a revolution and change... what is stopping you?

That's it for now. Till my next blog, I bid farewell...

The Blogger, the Thinker, the Provocateur...

Raúl A. (El Patrón Himself / The Doctor of Patronomics)


Friday, November 11, 2011

On the Latest and Definitely NOT Greatest at Penn State

Greetings to my friends and bloggers around the world. It has been a while since I last blogged. That doesn't mean The Doctor of Patronomics has stopped trying to hit the hornets' nest like it's a piñata! On the contrary, the fight is still on from multiple fronts. I will write more about other events in my life soon. Today, I'd like to weigh in on the scandalous and shameful incident at Penn State.

As I mentioned in my last entry, I still have quite a few emotional links with the U.S. I am also a die-hard sports fan of all things Fighting Illini and I follow Big Ten sports quite frequently even from Colombia. So, as an alum from a Big Ten institution, it hits you even harder to hear the news of the sexual abuse incident at Penn State. It hits you even harder to notice how students at that institution rallied and vandalized the campus in support of Joe Paterno (I'll get back to him later) and how it seems that there are so many folks who have forgotten that the ONLY VICTIMS here are those 9 children who were abused, not to mention the possibly dozens who may or may not step forward. Then I read a blog from a parent and it hit me that I needed to get back to the blog and write my thoughts. Just as this blog helped me heal on April, 2007 after the VA Tech massacre, I feel I need to write these ideas to get over the rage (Warning: There will be some foul language here and there, and for that I apologize beforehand.)

Just for starters, let's set something straight:

Those children are the victims here. The adults? NOT ANY OF THEM!

The protests at Happy Valley seemed to imply that Joe Paterno was a victim in this event. Let me make this clear: HE IS NEITHER A VICTIM OR A SCAPEGOAT. Sure, say what you will about his doing the minimum he was supposed to do. But, we're talking about CHILDREN IN DANGER here, not about some football player selling his jersey or something like that, ok? What he really had to do was DIAL 911! Anything else is unexcusable! And yes, I do have a few words for Sue Paterno. You see, when we get married, or at least that's how I did it, we seek for strong women who can also become our compass, especially our MORAL COMPASS. And real men do listen to our wives (we know there's a reason we call them "my better half", you know). So, why didn't Mrs. Paterno told Joe to CALL 911? Yes, ma'am, I am wagging my finger to you and assuring you that the Sandman will stop by to pay you a visit. Enjoy your slumbers from now on, Mr. and Mrs. Paterno!

Hold it! I'm not done, not by a longshot.

I have a few words for Mike McQueary, whom I wish no harm. We need no more violence, enough harm has been done to add blood to this tragedy. But, The Dr. goes on record to call you a COWARD. Sure, you went to Coach Paterno and reported what you saw... now slow down, Cochise... did I just write WHAT YOU SAW? Oh, yes, according to the Grand Jury (I tried to read this and I only made it to page 7 before I had to vomit. Warning: The stuff in this report is so crude and graphic that the writers from Law & Order Speciual Victims Unit can't even think about using as inspiration for an episode!), you SAW the rape take place, and you did what ANY REAL MAN would do, right? You fled and called your dad? And what did your dad do, like any real dad would do? Tell you to call JoePa? Here I have a couple of questions for you and your dad (please answer them while you surrender your BALLS to the Planetary Man Guild... your membership is under review as we speak): 1. Why didn't you stop this? Seriously, why not? 2. Why didn't you call 911? (I think Jon Stewart put it best, "and didn't do the two things most adults would do: Stop it and call the cops, or call the cops to come stop it. Both scenarios involve the police and stopping it") Why didn't your dad? You, sir, deserve to have your mug pasted near the word COWARD in the Oxford Dictionary, right below your dad's. 

And of course, I do have words for Jerry Sandusky, you filthy scum of a human being. I don't give a fuck how you want to spin it: I heard his lawyer on CNN last night saying that, sure, Sandusky and the 10-year-old boy were naked, but nothing happened. In the holy words of the Maharishi, WHAT THE FUCK? You're an adult male, naked with a little boy and NOTHING HAPPENED? That alone is disgusting and if you attorneys are using that as your defense, they're even more despicable human beings (how an attorney, after reading the report from the Grand Jury, can say, sure I'll defend him, makes me cringe. How do they sleep at night, with pillows made with the skins of live chickens?). The fact that you created a foundation, which you later used as your pipeline for your deviant behavior, is inexcusable! You are everything that's wrong with the human race and not only do you deserve to rot in jail, I hope Hell as a place reserved for scum like you!

Then, there's of course, the NCAA, whom I also blame. While sure, I understand that they're letting the investigation run its course, the lack of a strong statement is troublesome. Here's why: The NCAA leaves the impression that if a coach meets adult recruits at his home for a bbq, that's a major violation, but if another coach meets a young child in a shower in the school's facilities, that doesn't even merit a wag of the finger? REALLY NCAA? Are you going to hide behind your "student-athlete" semantics?  It's that double standard what's so effed-up about college sports. Penn State deserves to be penalized big time, if only to show the point that the NCAA cares about those kids so scarred for life that their pain and shame will never let them even be able to "go pro in something other than sports".

Of course, there's the students who vandalized the city. Sure, you respect the coach, but your priority should've been demanding JUSTICE for those children who were abused ON YOUR CAMPUS. You see, the heinous actions of one adult and the heinous inactions of at least five others have brought, as Mercutio would say, a curse on ALL YOUR HOUSES. You shouldn't be demanding that Joe Pa be reinstated, you should be demanding that all the perpetrators and enablers be brought to justice. You should be demanding that the Trustees keep digging deeper. You should be demanding for Penn State not to pay the legal fees of their administrators on leave, but all the counseling and therapy fees that these children (and now adults) will need in order to become once again fully functioning adults. Don't worry so much about Joe Paterno! He lived a good life and for all I care, now that he's retired, he might as well blow 10000 balloons around his home and to go to South America, like the old man from UP (they kinda look alike even). I believe that there must be a lot of good left in Joe, anyway, and I know that right now he knows that mirrors have become his worst enemies for however long he still lives. But, please, worry about the CHILDREN. They are the ONLY VICTIMS here, they are the ONLY LOSERS here. 

In fact, one thing that makes me cringe about the students protesting is the possibility that among that mob, there might be EDUCATION majors, boys and girls who are getting ready to become the teachers of a future generation of children. I just hope that when they are faced with the tough decisions that one faces in the classroom, maybe THEN they'll choose to do the right thing. But, when it comes to them, we have earned ourselves the benefit of the doubt.

Why am I so outraged about this now? It's simple: It's the result of my life. As I read the stories about this incident, I looked back to 2002, when I started grad school.., and then 2006, when my nieces were born... and 2008, when I started dating the love of my life... and 2010, when we got married... and then this year, when we're living together and we are making our own plans to have our own children in the not-so-distant future. I always remember the famous Bill Engvall joke ("I got no problem going back to prison" - Check it out at the 2:50 mark) and I start thinking, like the dad who wrote the blog I mentioned earlier, that I would anything to anybody who would so much as try to harm my nieces or my children in the future. And then, I can't understand why those adults did nothing to stop it because there's no rational explanation whatsoever. I can't understand why some college students (who are supposed to go there to LEARN and EDUCATE THEMSELVES) did what they did on Wednesday night. I can't because I was brought up at home and all the academic institutions to believe in doing what's right and to fight for justice from whatever arena I chose for my career. And yes, as an alum I know that the ideas of the institutions will outlast those men and women in positions of power who forget the very ideals that forged the institutions in first place. I hope that Penn State will rise up again, hopefully not as a "football school'' or a "party school", but as a proud institution that will choose to do what right and not what's profitable. I also hope that all other academic institutions in the world will learn the RIGHT LESSONS from this and if they have to choose between the "swoosh" and the child, they'll choose the latter even if they have to wear uglier jerseys next season.

I just hope that all of us who are adults learn the biggest lesson of all: That sometimes all that children (ours and other people's) have to save them from harm is ourselves. I just hope that I can keep reminding my undergraduate and graduate students in education that they're are the first, the last, and sometimes the ONLY line of defense these children have against those monsters who seek sexual gratification from them. I hope that I can do everything that's in my power when I am a father to live up to the challenge to defend them with my life if need may be (just like my parents did when I was younger). I just hope that we, the adults, teachers, police officers, coaches, etc. who are bestowed the responsibility to look after these children that not doing the right thing when they are in harm's way (especially if they are in danger of being sexually abused) means that we are a COMPLETE FAILURE as professionals, as adults, and worst of all, as human beings. We owe the children that much: Not just to do what's the legal requirement, but WHATEVER IT TAKES to save them. That's where those adults at Penn State failed to do. Let's learn from them and avoid making the same fatal mistake ever again...

... because as Bob Sinclar said in his song, our job "is to save the children, we're all very serious about that because we expect the children to save our soul."

That's it for now. Till my next blog, I bid farewell...

The Blogger, the Thinker, the Provocateur...

Raúl A. (El Patrón Himself / The Doctor of Patronomics)

Friday, February 25, 2011

With Apologies to Martin Niemöller...

Greetings to my friends and bloggers around the world. I've been away for a while, but I'm not gone. The Blogger, the Thinker, the Provocateur (or as I also go these days, The Dr of Patronomics) is still here and speaking louder than ever. 

As you all know, I lived in the US for 8 years. I got my graduate education there, I made wonderful friends, and I even met my wife while I was in Illinois. So, I have a sweet spot for the US of A. Every day, I read the news and I feel that things are not going as they should. The "Land of the Free" is becoming the "Land of the Few", the "Home of the Brave" is being turned into the "Home of the Bully" by the GOP and the Tea Party. Meanwhile, peaceful uprisings are taking place all over Northern Africa and the Middle East: The people are calling for the end of tyranny in that side of the world. Why aren't Americans following suit? 

So, I decided to paraphrase the immortal Martin Niemöller. You may remember his famous Sermon:

When the Nazis came for the communists,
I remained silent;
I was not a communist.

When they locked up the social democrats,
I remained silent;
I was not a social democrat.

When they came for the trade unionists,
I did not speak out;
I was not a trade unionist.

When they came for the Jews,
I remained silent;
I wasn't a Jew.

When they came for me,
there was no one left to speak out.

So, with apologies to Father Niemöller, I had the courage to paraphrase his words and adapt them to the current craziness in America. I know this may come off as rough words, but I've always said that I don't just stir  up the hornets' nest, but that I bang it like it's a piñata! Without any further ado...

First, the Tea Party and the GOP went after the immigrants in Arizona.
I didn't care. 
After all, I was neither a Mexican nor an immigrant, and I wasn't in Arizona.

Then, they went after the union workers in Wisconsin and other states,
I did nothing either;
I was not in a union, or in Wisconsin, after all.

Later, they started plotting against women's rights and putting them in danger with their definitions of "rape" and other attacks.
I remained silent. 
I'm a man (and let's face it, I'm not a rapist) so why be outraged?

At some point, they also they took rights off African Americans,
I wasn't moved one bit.
I'm white, so what's the point? They wouldn't dare come after me!

Finally, those politicians and their followers in the media came for me and others like me,
And at that point, there were no freedoms left for me or anybody else in my country.

It's not too late yet to care. The world is watching!

That's it for now. Till my next blog, I bid farewell.

The Blogger, the Thinker, the Provocateur...

Raúl A. (El Patrón Himself / The Doctor of Patronomics)

Friday, April 3, 2009

Getting My FUNK Back and Catching a Virus... Thoughts in the aftermath of Cornel West's Visit

Greetings to my friends and bloggers around the world. I'm taking a break from my academic writing otherwise known as my dissertation for some Gonzo 2.0. In case you're still wondering why I call this Gonzo 2.0, this is my tribute to the great Dr. Hunter S. Thompson, creater of Gonzo journalism and, to me, the godfather of the blog. Before I get into the heart and matter of this posting, a few shout-outs are de rigueur...

First, thanks to all my friends who showed me some love over my mom's surgery this week. Mom had a procedure to fix a hernia; she did quite well and right now she's recovering at home, taken care of by the one man I really want to be like when I grow up: My DAD! Thanks, gracias, merci, spasibo, muito obrigado, for your thoughts and prayers. I know they did make a difference and you'll get the same from me if either you or yours needs some moral support from me. Don't hesitate to ask! Any good you do to my family, I give it back a trillionfold, no hyperbole there!

Second, thanks to good friend Juan José and his laborious efforts, I'll be going to see U2 at Soldier Field in September! It's awesome and I look forward to that concert! Third, a big shout-out to my sister, who's turning Three-Zero at the end of the month! That's pretty awesome and I hope your shindig, whatever it is that you do as a shindig, goes effin'-A great! You deserve that! 

That's it for the time being. Now, on to the main event...

Thoughts After Listening to Cornel West: Bringing Funky Back, Inspoken/Outspoken, and Spreading a New "Pandemic"

Yesterday, a few of us, never mind, a few were that small horde of what I think were frat boys and sorority girls in shorts and swimsuits running on Wright and Daniel Streets to catch a bus to go to the random big party of the month sponsored by the (insert random Greek letters here) frasorterority on campus. There were a lot of us flocking to Foellinger to hear one of the greatest minds of the last 50 years: Dr. Cornel West (no relation to Kanye, so don't go there!), of The Matrix Trilogy fame and a professor at Princeton... one of the truest and most illustrious provocateurs of our modern day. His talk was about how the Dream, à la Martin Luther King, Jr., was still in process of realization and how the Obama administration gave all of us, regardless of creed, color, orientation, or nationality, a chance to really build a society where justice, equity, and being your brother's keeper would mean something again. Those were strong words from a strong mind. I will summarize three salient points right now...

1. Brinking FUNKY Back - Or why the FUNK is actually a good thing?

One thing that Dr. West said, and which I had the chance to share with my friend Abel aka Terco Chicanogradstudent on Facebook was how Dr. West talked about the mainstream efforts to "deodorize the FUNK." It made me realize how even the dictionaries have a negative connotation for funk. A quick look at the Merriam-Webster Online dictionary offered these entries: 
1. a strong offensive smell; 
2. 1 a: a state of paralyzing fear b: a depressed state of mind; 2: one that funks : coward; 3: slump 1 funk> funk>

As you can see, no wonder we need to "deodorize the funk!" That actually made me realize that we need to start listening to James Brown A LOT more often. You see, JB is one of the masters of Funk, along with the great George Clinton and his Parliament Funkadelic. JB really showed the world what the Funk was about when he proclaimed, in the heat of the Civil Rights movement, "Say It Loud, I'm Black and I'm Proud!" (he also acknowledged that even if this is a man's world, we're nothing without a good woman, but that's for another day!). In this sense, one can argue that this Funk is a counternarrative to those negative connotations. That maybe it is NOW that I'm into a Funk, that my mind is in the right place and right time, that my thoughts are flowing more clearly than ever and that I'm getting my sting and my voice back in my writing. 

It also means that having the Funk, as Dr. West said, was all about not losing one's identity, one's flavor, one's style, and one's joie de vivre, if you will. That maybe there's method to the madness in the rhythmic works of the Funk and that we need to start hearing the music more often to actually leave that provoked funk and get into a real Funk, where ideas flow and feelings are real... that's also part of the "Pandemic" I'll talk about later...

2. MJ - Great Highlights... and that's it (With Apologies to any and all MJ's fans)

One of the students who was fortunate enough to raise a question asked Dr. West about his thoughts on the dearth of outspoken [black] athletes. Dr. West was quick to point what have become Exhibits A and B of the inspoken (yes, I just made up a word... I found a blog that's named "inspoken" but that's more like this dude intend to remain anonymous... in case you're wondering, Inspoken would be the polar opposite of Outspoken, especially in a socio-political context) [black] athlete: Michael Jordan and Tiger Woods. Tiger's case, well, he's still got time to go on the lofty goals his father had to be a changer. Sure, Tiger may have done a lot of charity work that may go untold and uncredited, and it should be kept that way. If anything, that's the Christian way of doing charity! But, as Tiger has realized in the aftermath of Obama, this is not a time to remain silent or on the sidelines. He, as much as or even more than Barack, can be a voice that shows us that this is supposed to be a multicultural millennium (especially since his children will be even more multiracial than he was!) and I got this feeling that he's starting to react...

Which brings us to MJ...

You see, I'm an admirer of MJ's game. He was one of the seven legitimate revolutions in the NBA (another blog that I owe you all!!!!), he changed the game, for better and worse, in ways that we're yet to even appreciate. He was as clutch as there'll ever be; he was ultracompetitive, a passionate athlete, and his tenure is not just a chapter, but a whole tome in the lore of the NBA. He's earned every accolade he's been bestowed upon, and his inclusion in the Naismith Hall of Fame deserves not even its own wing, it deserves building another floor just for His Airness alone. So, you see, I'm not a hater of MJ the player... I'm still more fond of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar though.

However, we cannot deny that right after the highlights, the dunks, the jams, the clutch shots, and the Flu Game, a lot of people will always remember this next to MJ:

"Republicans buy shoes too!"

Yup, that was his response when asked once about Jesse Helms, that controversial senator from North Carolina. Forgive me if I sound sacrilegous, but one man cannot come and step up on the rich tradition of athletes who were not afraid to fight the good fight from the arena of the arena. "Republicans buy shoes too" is a slap in the face to the struggles of Jackie Robinson and the ball players in the Negro Leagues, the ostracism that Tommie Smith and John Carlos faced after Mexico '68, the death threats and letters filled with racial slurs and the N word that Hank Aaron received on a daily basis as he was pursuing Babe Ruth's home run record. It's disregarding the statements, on and off the field, of people like Jim Brown or Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. It's ignoring the scrutiny that Muhammad Ali faced once he refused to go to Vietnam. Do you realize how different it would have been if Smith and Carlos hadn't stood up for what they believed and have gone "Republicans buy shoes too" in Mexico '68? Or if Ali had gone RBST and chosen to go to Vietnam and fight? 

Would we still respect Ali as a man as much as we do today? Would Smith and Carlos be revered and given their due as history so rightfully has today? Would we remember the plights of Jackie Robinson on Hank Aaron with the same passion and utmost respect? Probably not. 

And that's why MJ deserves to be in the Basketball Hall of Fame... and that's it!

3. There's a new Pandemic, a new Virus in town... and you'd be better off catching it! 

One thing that Dr. West said and that resonated highly in me was, 

"You see too many echoes and not enough voices."

It made me recall pretty quickly the lines from Violeta Parra, "si se calla el cantor, calla la vida" (if the singer's silent, life is silent). We need more voices out there, we need to reclaim what's rightfully ours, that was the rallying cry that Cornel West was bringing us. In a way, think of him as another Morpheus, one of several out there, that's inviting us, intriguing us, challenging us, to take the RED PILL and avoid the BLUE PILL at all costs.

You see, that's where the Virus I'm telling you about comes in. There's a new virus going on, it's airborne and it's socially, enviromentally, and even sexually transmitted! It's called INFORMATION! It's called KNOWLEDGE! It's called CRITICAL THINKING! It's called OPINION! It has many strains and varieties. The trick is, unlike other viruses, it's easier to get innoculated from it...

All you have to do is just keep watching what you usually do. Yes, I mean your Tila Tequila, your Hannah Montana, your reality shows on VH1, the Real World (MTV, one day history will remember you at the same level as the Spanish Inquisition and the III Reich for the damage you did to the world, MARK MY WORDS!!!!!), Lost (very adequate name, wouldn't you think?), etc. Don't get me wrong, I like watching TV and I have my guilty pleasures, like Law and Order. But I actually like my life better since I had to cancel cable because I couldn't afford it a few years ago. I watched enough television in my childhood to last me 4 lifetimes... I learned a lot of English and useless facts in the process, and I ended up doing some of my research about how to better use it in EFL classrooms... but I digressed...

I'm not saying stop watching TV, or do if you want... I'm just saying that most of today's TV is the medium and the massage (paraphrasing Marshall McLuhan) that relaxes your brain. Granted, there are efforts out there like the Daily Show and the Colbert Report that are trying to use comedy (as Edward Vizenor would argue) to tilt the mainstream discourse on its axis and show it for what it is: A sad joke at best and a fraud at worst. 

The Virus, the pandemic, is out there! People like Annie Leonard, to whom I was acquainted thanks to my good friend Andrés Salas, and her efforts to take George Carlin's idea that what I own is stuff and what others own is just shit to a whole new level with her video "The Story of Stuff." You see, the Virus has an interesting effect: It's like the sunglasses in John Carpenter's movie, "They Live": It lets you see the truth behind the curtain! It shows you that there may be one "Inconvenient Truth" (as Al Gore would say) but that there are also a lot of "inconvenient truths" that need to be unmasked and put to shame like any Mexican Luchador who loses his mask in a Máscara contra Cabellera (mask vs. hair) event. They need to be called for what they are. 

The Pandemic is getting out of control, even if they don't want you to notice! And governments are noticing! It's no surprise that some governments are trying to "shut down Skynet" (a quick ref to the Terminator movies) because they do know that Skynet is not going anywhere and that Judgment Day is not going to be about a nuclear catastrophe... but about people who are getting their FUNK back and are ready to start holding every last one of them accountable for their sins and crimes. But, you can't shut down Skynet no matter how hard you try and sooner or later, Judgment Day will be upon all of them too.

You see, the Virus is out there and THIS TIME, it can't be contained!!! I don't know if the revolution will be televised, as Gil Scott-Heron (BIG shout-out to Mr. Mertz - my favorite DJ not only because he knows how to work the turntables but because he has the intellectual soundbites to back up his mixes when the music's off - for the reference to the name!), but I know that thanks to a few mavericks out there not named lonelygirl14, the Revolution will be Blogged, Facebooked, and Twittered for and BY a lot of us... 

A lot of people like those few of us that weathered the storm to fill the seats at Foellinger nto listen to Cornel West... there are many more out there who are fighting this good fight, a lot of brothers and sisters who got tired of the lies... a lot of us who have finally decided it's time to rebuild the master's house with a new set of tools that the master thought we couldn't figure out how to use for own purposes... 

The Pandemic, the Virus, is here! The FUNK isn't going anywhere and is going to get us all infected... and the way to get infected is through RESISTANCE... you see, resistant isn't futile... it's the way to get this virus called knowledge... resisting is the way to go...

But in the end, you can still take the blue pill... sorry, I meant you can take MY blue pill if you'd like...

The red pill I took is kicking in as we speak!

That's it for now. Till my next blog, I bid farewell.

The Blogger, the Thinker, the Provocateur...

Raúl A. (El Patrón)


Saturday, March 28, 2009

Call Me an Eco-Freak if You Wish, but I'm Joining Earth Hour!

Greetings to all my friends and bloggers around the world. It's been a while since I added my print to the ongoing Gonzo 2.0 revolution. Well, I have some less Gonzo-like writing to take care of lately so that's kept me away. Before I get into the matter, some quick shout-outs and kudos...
  • Patronapalooza Christmas Extravaganza was out of this world! My girl and I had a great time, so big shout-out to my family and my friends who made it possible. Especially, I want to thank my folks for being SO FREAKING nice while we were there! Also, my good friend Oscar "David Bloodclot" García, who was an amazing host while we were in Boyacá. The meal in Sutamarchán, the afternoon in Ráquira, and the visit to Chiquinquirá with your dad will always be remembered. Another big shout-out to my Colombian brother from another mother, Carlos Rico and his lovely girl, Michelle! It was great seeing you two together... best of luck!!!
  • Seeing the girls, Isa & Manu, was out of this world! They're amazingly bright, lovely, and beautiful... and they can rest assured that for as long as I live, there'll be no hippos bothering you EVER!
  • My mind is now in Medellín more than ever ... Mom's got a surgery to fix a hernia this coming Wednesday. Whoever you believe in, please offer a prayer for her health. If you're not into the whole deity thing, your positive thoughts and wishes are also helpful. El Patrón accepts happy thoughts and get-well wishes in a non-denominational fashion.
  • One final shout-out to my former students in Early Childhood and Secondary Education at the U of I who are graduating in May. I've read in their Facebook statuses that they've passed their certification exams. CONGRATULATIONS!!!! Soon enough you'll learn the happiness one feels as a teacher when his/her students are thriving and succeeding!!!
Now, on to the main event...

Eco-Freak? Maybe; Tree-Hugger? Not so much; Concerned about the earth? Absolutely! And that's why I'm shutting my lights off tonight!

Global warming is a fairly heated issue. Whether you adamantly believe in it and think we need to do something to save our planet before it's taken over as parking space (à la Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy), that we need to do something for everybody's future, or you think "global warming" is an invention of some crazies that belong to the Church of Al Gore and there's nothing wrong with a warmer planet because you abhor the winters in the Midwest anyway, we all have an opinion on the matter. I am not here to chastise those who are against environmental efforts, nor will I be so sanctimonious to call myself the Second Coming of Captain Planet. I'm just a citizen of earth who's concerned about what your and my children will be able to call landscapes.

Since 2008, there's an ongoing global effort spearheaded by the other WWF (sorry, in the back of my mind, WWF will ALWAYS be the World Wrestling Federation... we all guilty pleasures and mine is "wraslin'") for people around the world to turn their lights off for an hour, wherever they are, in an effort for more awareness of the consequences of global warming and the lack of concrete policies in regards to the environment (more on that later). More and more people keep joining, and reports indicate that some of our greatest architectural landmarks have gone dark in celebration. Sure, critics of the event have been quick to point out that the WWF is a pseudo-fascist organization that is inspired by obscure commercial agendas that ultimately wants to drive civilization back to the Dark Ages by obliterating what made us progress in the first place: Energy and light. Some of these pundits are in fact inviting everybody and their mother to actually turn every light and appliance you have available and if necessary borrow a few from the neighbors who are celebrating Earth Hour (hey, it's not like they'll be using that stereo between 8:30 and 9:30 anyway, right?). 

As I said, my goal here is not to chastise those critics of Earth Hour per se. But, I'd be failing to the third descriptor in the name of my Gonzo 2.0 page (you know, provocateur) if I didn't lambast them somehow, right? Let's see... turning my lights off will promote a fascist society where progress isn't allowed, yada yada yada... well, the way I see it, turning my lights off and controlling my energy consumption may actually benefit my wallet too. Plus, some of those economic journals need to start thinking of other issues, like why on earth some of them were in cahoots with Wall Street and some of those conglomerates like AIG in creating the clusterf**** of epic proportions under which we are now. It's a good think that folks like Jon Stewart are already doing that for the rest of us (if you haven't seen the Daily Show interview with the Mad Money guy and how Steward owned him, look it up!). I think controlled consumption of our resources might actually benefit our economy to some degree. That's a reason why I'm endorsing Earth Hour.

I'll give some of the critiques to the event something, a little bone I'm throwing at them, if you will. We need to move past awareness  and move on to knowledge and I may add a serious praxis. Those of us into critical theories have heard of praxis: Practice based on theory and reflection. I agree that being aware of something means squat if I don't DO anything about it. It won't do me any good to be aware that gaining too much weight is going to affect the shelf life of my right knee. But I don't go to the gym and exercise, my knee is going to deteriorate faster. Being aware of that won't slow it down. Knowing what to do to and actually doing it, that's the X-factor there. Ditto for the enviroment. A lot of people are aware that the environment needs a hand, that maybe we're wasting too many resources by throwing garbage to the floor or driving trucks with 10 mpg consumption. It's what we actually DO what makes a difference. And that's why I again endorse Earth Hour. 

However, that shouldn't stop there. As I read in a time article recently, action at the political level is also required. We need to push for some change in terms of policies. Smart energy consumption policies are good for your pocket - just to give you an incentive. More energy-efficient appliances will bring lower energy bills! It's also about what we can do at an individual level. I have my own methods and I have my own plans to offset how many trees I'm killing by working on my dissertation. I only invite you to think about what you can do and if you ultimately want to borrow my laptop to watch videos on YouTube while I keep my lights off, do it beacuse you've reflected why that's a good idea. Ditto if you finally turn the lights off in an hour. Do it reflexively, not because it's a cool fad. 

One thing is for sure, I know that one of the reasons I'm doing it is because if I have children one day, I'd like to take them to their mother's homeland to visit the Siberian snows, not the Siberian prarie, or I'd love to show them the beaches of Cartagena, not the shores of Cartagena Island... if you catch my drift...

That's it for now. Till my next blog, I bid farewell.

The Blogger, the Thinker, the Provocateur...

Raúl A. (El Patrón)