America


Repercussions of the Norway Attacks

It has been just over a week since the brutal Norway terrorist attacks and it is not at all surprising to see that the news of the attacks have completely disappeared off the western media front. It’s all about debt ceilings, celebrity deaths and anything else that comes to mind ever since it was found out that the terrorist wasn’t Muslim or hadn’t converted to Islam. It is embarrassing and pathetic. Can you imagine what the reaction would have been if the terrorist attacks weren’t carried out by a blue-eyed, blond haired, Norwegian? It certainly wouldn’t have dropped off the news this quickly, that’s for sure.

There was a piece titled “Why Norway Could Happen Here” by Peter Beinart a few days after the attack which stated that “the same anti-Muslim bigotry that influenced Anders Breivik in Norway is widespread among right-wing extremists in America, and could trigger a similar attack here” and you saw that in the immediate aftermath of the attacks. Sure the attacks can happen any where and it is not necessarily just limited to the United States but the tendency to allow military ideology to prey on mentally vulnerable people fosters a hostile culture towards anything that is different.

There were reports left and right that this had the hallmark signs of Al-Qaeda or Muslim extremists but that just wasn’t the case. In a matter of days, the Crown Prince of Norway did apologize in person to the Muslim community there at the World Islamic Mission Mosque in Oslo that there were some in Norway that immediately thought this was an act of a Muslim. That kind of humanity and sincere gesture is something you would never see here in the immediate aftermath.

In the clip below, Stephen Colbert walks through the American media’s early coverage as the news of the attacks were unfolding.

“These journalists were able to get the story they wanted and scoop reality,” Colbert joked. “Even if there was a rush to judgment, we must not repeat that mistake by rushing to accuracy. Just because the confessed murderer is a blond, blue-eyed Norwegian-born anti-Muslim crusader doesn’t mean he’s not a swarthy, ululating Middle-Eastern madman.”

Even more embarrassing than the media’s rush to judgment, though, were the half-hearted retractions that came after. Colbert played a clip of a CNN guest attempting to explain how a Nordic-looking person could have a committed such an attack. “Maybe it was a good disguise?” the guest theorized.

“Yes,” Colbert said, “which is more plausible? That a non-Muslim did this or that Al-Qaeda has developed Polyjuice Potion?”

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First Update From Canada 1

It has been quite the first few days for me since moving back to Canada on the Independence Day of the country I was previously living in. I will try to give an update every week or so in a segment I am going to call “Toonie Tales.” Enjoy reading these, send me back some comments and as always, let me know if you’ll be in the area.

The drive up was relatively smooth, without much traffic and I only took a couple of stops – and thanks to the people of Cortland, NY who provided the free coffee and snacks at the one rest area I did take a break. The radio channels going in and out was a little bothersome though, at one moment you would be listening to some sports update and a fraction of a second later due to channel interference, it would switch to some religious feed with cry for “May the Lord have mercy on all of us.”

First day of work, I went through the motions of a new employee getting a tour, getting my ID and filling out the proper HR paperwork and was pretty uneventful – until it came time to go home of course. Due to the extreme heat in the area, there was a fire that took out a major transformer in the heart of downtown Toronto leaving much of the city without power at peak rush hour time (at 4:45 pm). I was fortunate enough to only have to take 8 flights of stairs down but I know of others who took well over 20 but I guess it is easier taking them down than trying to climb.

The environment outside was nothing like I have ever seen in the “civilized” West with all the traffic signals and crossing lights out of commission, it was initially an every man for themselves situation. Cars were creeping forward from all four directions until one person stopped and the entire row of cars would just follow suit. Hoards of people had taken to the street by this time and were all moving towards Union Station. Although there were some civilians who had taken to the crosswalks and were guiding human traffic and stopping and directing cars as people crossed, most were just anxious to get out of the glaring heat.

With a first day like that, the rest of the week seems relatively unexciting. First week of employment is always a little slow as work starts to streamline in towards you but I did have a couple of meetings yesterday and the workload will definitely pick up big time as more of my software and application requests are approved shortly.

A couple of things to note however: I had really forgotten how much everyone says “eh” in everyday conversation. You tend to lose that sense of reality when you only hear in terms of mocking back in New Jersey. Also the ease at which people travel not only through public transportation and the way they enter and leave work buildings, is a huge contrast from America. You couldn’t enter or leave the main doors without providing professional ID back in the States but here you just say hello to the person at the security desk and you just swipe in on your floor. On public transportations, you have your monthly pass with you but they don’t check every day, heck they haven’t checked for yet and it has been four days already. It really is an “honor system” but the penalty is so severe if you are caught on board without a ticket, that I don’t believe any everyday rider would risk it. Finally, the roads here are so much wider and a lot more fun to drive on. Once you are no longer in the cramped spaces of the tri-state area, you really notice the difference traveling through 3- and 4-lane local roads on a regular basis.

It is definitely a harsh transition from a smartphone to a regular one but in the meantime, I am enjoying keeping in touch with colleagues from south of the border through Google Voice and even exchange some emails in between. Please, feel free to send a text my way to my new number to keep me occupied during the slow days. Also if you’re somebody important, I might even give you my work contact information in case you need to reach me.


I’m Moving To Canada 7

I have been looking forward and dreading this day for a little while now. I was more than certain to move on from my undergraduate life at Stevens and into the next stage– but I had no idea it would involve me moving back up north to Canada. I was never sure how to make such a decision and how much I would debate it from the moment I know that I might have the opportunity. Slowly but surely, more and more people I know have begun to find out about the next chapter in my life that I have decided to accept employment in the great city of Toronto in Ontario, Canada. It wasn’t my first choice but in the end, it was my best choice because of where I wanted to progress professionally.

The last decade that I have spent in the Garden State has been something remarkable. I was never a big fan of moving down here in the middle of 7th grade but I have since grown fond of this place. I may not have always liked the political decisions made here, their sports teams or even their lack of Mars chocolate bars, but the people were a different story… and seriously, why aren’t there Mars chocolate bars here?

Dating back to 2001, I decided to go to the Middlesex County Academy for Science, Mathematics and Engineering Technologies (MCASMET) for high school which was only in its second year of existence when I first started. I like to think, that along with several people from our class, I had some sort of influence in the way things developed in that school. This is the place where I learned to question facts and not take them at face value. This is a place where I learned to be disciplined while debating with a classmate who was fundamentally incorrect. However, this is also the place where I got into trouble for not being “patriotic” enough during my freshman year but this is also a place where I made a best friend who I rarely go the stretch of a full day without making contact of some sort.

I hope to continue the lasting relationships I had formed not only with those that I was fortunate enough to learn from in my classes but a couple of old teachers and a soccer coach as well. It has been five years since I graduated from MCASMET and I was just at the reunion a couple of weeks and I am already looking forward to where everyone will be in the next five years.

My undergraduate studies just concluded with my commencement in late May and even though I will not say it was everything I hoped it would be, I will add that it wasn’t too bad. I think I am correct when I say the first person I befriended at Stevens became one of my better friends and would go on to become my eventual roommate several times over, including this final year. I had another roommate who was more civil-ized than the rest of us but I am not sure how he survived the constant slew of cheeky insults tossed his way. I was certain he hated me at times but hopefully that’s more temporary than a full time thing. I’m gonna miss competitive games of basketball and racquetball down here in Hoboken and sometimes down right painful games if you played with the right (or wrong) people.

A tidbit: Did you know one of my best friends from high school went to graduate school with a best friend of one of my aforementioned college roommate?

One thing I never did understand was how big the western culture is on moving away from home or disassociating ties from those that raised you. That is probably the one thing that puzzles me the most. Family is the one place you can always turn to whether it is in a time of need, time of celebration or anything in between. It is time to grow up now but moving to another country away from your immediate family will always be difficult but strong faith and belief should see you through. Hopefully, this next chapter is as resourceful as I expect it to be and we’ll see where I go from there.

For those looking to get in touch with me, can still use my same email address or cellphone  number starting July 4th but in order to text me, you should use my Google Voice number because I won’t have an international text messaging plan to start off. If you need any of those information, feel free to contact me and we can exchange information.

Now, who is up for a visit to Toronto to visit me?


Kurt Vonnegut on Americans 1

I saw this on reddit earlier this morning and it seemed like a pretty good excerpt to share: Kurt Vonnegut on America and Americans. Excerpt from Slaughterhouse-Five. Also if you haven’t gotten a chance to read it yet and were contemplating, you should definitely read this book. I read this way back in high school off a recommendation of a friend and it was truly one of the greatest books I have ever read. Anyways, here are the two excerpts from his texts:

“America is the wealthiest nation on Earth, but its people are mainly poor, and poor Americans are urged to hate themselves. To quote the American humorist Kin Hubbard, ‘It ain’t no disgrace to be poor, but it might as well be.’ It is in fact a crime for an American to be poor, even though America is a nation of poor. Every other nation has folk traditions of men who were poor but extremely wise and virtuous, and thereforre more estimable than anyone with power and gold. No such tales are told by the American poor. They mock themselves and glorify their betters. The meanest eating or drinking etstablishment, owned by a man who is himself poor, is very likely to have a sign on its wall asking this cruel question: ‘If you’re so smart, why ain’t you rich?’ There will also be an American frag no larger than a child’s hand – glued to a lollipop stick and flying from the cash register.”

“Americans, like human beings everywhere, believe many things that are obviously untrue,… . Their most destructive untruth is that it is very easy for an American to make money. They will not acknowledge how in fact hard money is to come by, and, therefore, those who have no money blame and blame and blame themselves. This inward blame has been a treasure for the rich and powerful, who have had to do less for their poor, publicly and privately, than any other ruling class since, say, Napoleonic times. Many novelties have come from America. The most startling of these, a thing without precedent, is a mass of undignified poor. They do not love one another because they do not love themselves.”