October 2007

Top Genius “The top 100 living geniuses was compiled by a panel of six experts in creativity and innovation from Creators Synectics, a global consultants firm. The company emailed 4,000 Britons this summer and asked them to nominate up to 10 living people who they considered geniuses.”

Albert Hofmann, the chemist who first synthesized LSD ranked highest in the criteria which included paradigm shifting, popular acclaim, intellectual power, achievement and cultural importance. He is now 101 years of age.

Link: Top 100 living geniuses


South Park

Trey Parker and Matt Stone, the creators of South Park have outdone themselves again. They continue to succeed in mixing vulgarities, grusome dismemberments, and dick jokes with enlightening and potentially perspective changing entertainment. The currently running Trilogy combines Cartman’s epic quest to get Kyle to suck his balls and the US government’s defense of Imaginationland.

Aside from seeing some of wonderful characters from all forms of media, games (Mario), anime, comics (Joker), movies (Luke Skywalker) and Imaginationland being literally chock full of Amanita Muscaria mushrooms, what made me really love this trilogy is the following line, which is repeated several times throughout:

“Do you realize what’s going on here? Terrorists have attacked our imagination and now our imaginations are running wild.”

It reminds me of one The Sheik’s ealier posts: Fear, Panic, and Terror. Same shit, different day.

Imagination land: Episode I
Imagination land: Episode II
Imagination land: Episode III

Hopefully AnimamRecro won’t be shut down and I carted off to jail for posting these.

Bush Protest

Yet another mention of the USA’s proposed missile defense system in the news today. For months the current administration has been seeking to build these bases in Poland and the Czech Republic as a defense against a possible Iranian ballistic strike. Russia has been responding to the USA’s plan with disdain, perceiving the defense systems as being a little too close to home, and has even offered a location in Azerbaijan to take the place of the bases in Poland and the Czech Republic. The USA refused to accept such a compromise.When asked most Czech’s feel conflicted about the proposal and would certainly be much happier if they didn’t have to choose between the power that once occupied their country and the power that is continually encroaching on countries around the globe.

This post isn’t about the missile defense though- at least not in its entirety. On the 4th of June this year a demonstration took place in Prague to protest Bush’s arrival to the Czech Republic and his administration’s plan to build their base. I will tell you about an unprecedented event that occurred on that day, an event that was never reported by the Czech media.

A little background first: On the day Bush arrived in Prague, millions of Czech crowns were spent on security. Most people don’t really consider this but whenever Bush declares a visit a country must prepare hundreds of police officers, anti-terror squads, block of streets and other communications, and so on. On that day the Czechs planned a protest to take place on Venceslav Square. This isn’t just some random location but a place of incredible significance. Here the independent Czechoslovak state was declared in 1918, the occupation of World War II was protested against in 1945, Jan Palach burned himself alive in protest of the Soviet occupation in 1969, and the culmination of the protests which led to the fall of the Iron Curtain in 1989 also took place here. Since then Venceslav Square has seen countless protests.

But on June 4th 2007, no protest took place at Venceslav Square, even though it was a matter of national importance. On that day, for the first time in Czech history a protest was relocated, banned from taking place at this prominent square in the center of town, it was rescheduled to take place behind the Prague castle, where few people ever go and few would notice. The symbolism of appearing before this traditional meeting place was lost completely. The reason: It was too much of a security risk for president Bush’s visit.

Also lost was the significance of this to the Czech people. Being accustomed to protesting where they like, as seen during the CzechTek protests in front of the interior ministry, this relocation was an unexpected inconvenience, but no one seemed to realize how this marginalized the message of the demonstrators. In the USA it’s a common tactic, we are regulated to our “free speech zones” and are often arrested for not staying on the sidewalk. Any excuse is used to arrest a protester. It’s an absolutely genius method of limiting the power of the people, because no one is prohibiting our freedom to gather or our freedom to protest, we are simply being relocated to a less noticeable and less symbolic spot. It completely undermines the message because the demonstrators are taken out of context, appearing like a random group of hooligans.

Why didn’t the Czech media cover this aspect of the story? Maybe they were too focused on the “anarchists” protesting. Maybe they simply weren’t used to such political tactics. Maybe it wasn’t a intentional maneuver at all, but simply a “security issue”. But one thing is for sure…

This day will never go down in the history books.

stan-e-albert.jpgOn October 5, the Board of Consultants of the Foundation of Dagmar and Vaclav Havel in Prague, Czech Republic, granted its prestigious award, Vision 97, for the year 2007 to psychiatrist, consciousness researcher, and psychedelic therapy pioneer Stanislav Grof, M.D. in a public ceremony. Former Czech President Vaclav Havel and his wife Dagmar launched their Foundation ten years ago. Besides distributing money for cultural and social purposes, this Foundation focuses on long-term support and organization of projects and programs that aim for the future, have pioneering features, attempt to break down conventions, and strengthen those avenues of science and culture, which at present do not enjoy support of the majority of people or are not comprehensible to them, but which with their consequences can inspire or otherwise meaningfully influence the future.

Former recipients of the award include the author Umberto Eco, former US Secretary of Labor Robert Reich, neurosurgeon Karl H. Pribram, and psychologist Phillip G. Zimbardo.

mushroom-use.jpgCalls for a re-evaluation of the drug grew after a 17-year-old French girl jumped from a building after eating magic mushrooms during a school trip to Amsterdam in March.

Other incidents involving the drug have included an Icelandic tourist jumping from a balcony and breaking both legs and a Danish tourist driving his car wildly through a camping ground, narrowly missing sleeping campers.

“It’s a shame, the media really blew this up into a big issue,” said Chloe Collette, owner of the FullMoon shop, which sells magic mushrooms in Amsterdam.


thomas-friedman.jpgI was reading the New York Times today when I came across Tomas Friedman’s article ‘Generation Q‘.

He writes: “I just spent the past week visiting several colleges… I am impressed because they [students] are so much more optimistic and idealistic than they should be. I am baffled because they are so much less radical and politically engaged than they need to be.”

Friedman calls this generation of college students “Generation Q- the Quiet Americans, in the best sense of that term, quietly pursuing their idealism, at home and abroad.”

He continues: “America needs a jolt of the idealism, activism and outrage (it must be in there) of Generation Q. That’s what twentysomethings are for – to light a fire under the country. But they can’t email it in, and an online petition or a mouse click for carbon neutrality won’t cut it. They have to get organized in a way that will force politicians to pay attention rather than just patronize them.”

“Activism can only be uploaded the old fashion way – by young voters speaking truth to power, face to face, in big numbers, on campuses or the Washington Mall.”

The article incited many conflicting emotions within me. If you follow the Princeton Review, I apparently attend one of the top five most politically active colleges in the United States. So are “we” the exception? Should my college be the model for the rest of the US? No, not really. We certainly attend many protests in our state and abroad, but this is hardly what Friedman is calling for. It’s going to take more than 10 students in front of a Wal-Mart or on the corner of the street with ‘Impeach Bush’ signs to make a difference. Thousands of students meet at protests around the US every year, to what end?

Oh, and “young voters”? Give me a break. What happened to the last kid who confronted a US politician about the bungling of election results?

If our generation is to be the fire lit under this country, then it’s to make people aware of the road this nation is heading down. We need to be seen and heard, and this is where the older generations have failed us miserably. How can we start a fire in a media vacuum? In a country where the government has engineered the most powerful techniques to silence us. Sure we can “protest” as long as we stay in our “free speech zones“. We can be fined and arrested for loitering in malls, and we should be protesting there? Sounds like fun, but when the previous generation organized they faced this. Today, if we organize in mass we face this and this. Rubber bullets being shot at us, getting lodged in our skin, with broken arms and bloody faces. Our message mangled and distorted in the news as we are all dubbed anarchists. And still many of us continue to protest.

Tomas Friedman, we are active and we certainly are outraged but we face a government that has learned from previous generations. In the 60s college students met face to face with the state and learned it was even stronger than they imagined. The government won’t allow such a threat to arise again.

I may come off sounding hard, but I sympathize with Friedman’s message. He is certainly right about one thing: “Virtual politics is just that – virtual.” Many of us have mistaken the tool which enables us to organize for the act of organizing itself. In other words, it’s pointless to form groups on social networks such a facebook for political ends unless students actually mobilize, all at once, and are heard.

There may be another explanation for “Generation Q”, one that Friedman unsurprisingly looked over. As the old saying goes “beware of the quite ones”. Perhaps some of us have learned that protests are inefficient. Perhaps we have experienced the power of the media, of culture, of corporations, and of politics. And perhaps a few of the really smart students are sitting in their library carrels studying hard and hoping to one day make obscenely dirty and wild love with their shadow. If you can’t beat ’em, become ’em.

And please do not miss the irony of my post because – “In the blogosphere, no one can hear you shout.”

With the drama and urgency of a sportscaster, Hans Rosling debunks a few myths about the “developing” world. Rosling is professor of international health at Sweden’s world-renowned Karolinska Institute, and founder of Gapminder, a non-profit that brings vital global data to life.

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