Saturday, April 5, 2014

God Created the Earth, but the Dutch Created Holland

by Madeleine Kando

Once more, I am visiting beautiful Holland, where my mother still lives and where I grew up. She is settled in the northern tip of this small country, her flat abutting a pristine stretch of green fields dotted with sheep, cows and horses. It is spring time and the high-pitched bleating of newly born lambs calling for their mother, fills the air. Giant white swans slowly navigate the small 'ditches', like miniature barges with elegant wings. I cannot resist driving on these tiny polder roads, barely able to keep my wheels from veering into the trenches that separate the fields.

It is miraculously beautiful. The landscape has not changed since the Dutch masters of the Golden Age immortalized it in their famous paintings. A sliver of a horizon dotted with church steeples and poplars, domed with an immense sky. The light from the intricate web of waterways, lakes, rivers and the surrounding sea is reflected back on a hazy countryside, as if it were bathed in milk. Read more...

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Ukraine



I suppose I should write something about Ukraine. It’s been in the news so much. Plus, our blog is called “European-American” and I come from Hungary. Ukraine borders on Hungary. I have been in Ukraine.

What is there to say? Is Putin an asshole? Yes. Is Russia misbehaving? Yes. Should we go to war over Russia’s annexation of Crimea? Don’t be ridiculous. And if Russia invades the rest of Ukraine? Same thing.

Analysis: Putin’s actions are reminiscent of Hitler’s in the 1930s: It is called irridentism. Look it up:

First, you have country A, whose ethnicity “overflows” across its borders into adjacent country B. This may be the result of war, of redrawn borders, or of some other cause. Country A then uses this as an excuse to annex parts of country B, the parts which are allegedly populated by people of the same ethnicity as country A. Read more...

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Is Believing in God Believable?



The main reason not to believe in God is that there are better explanations for what happens around us, what happens to us, what happens in the world, what happens in nature. It’s called science.

Now many of you might say: “But wait a minute, science can’t explain everything.” True. There is an infinite number of things which science cannot explain. But science makes progress. In ancient Rome, just about everything that happened - storms that shipwrecked boats, defeat or victory in battle, the wind, illness, death during child delivery - all these things were attributed to the Gods. We now laugh at this. Similarly, many things which we do not (yet) understand today will be scientifically explainable in the future. At least, most reasonable people today no longer attribute events to the Gods. Read more...

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Flying Fantasies

by Madeleine Kando

Flying is like signing away your rights as a human being. Not only is your life put on hold, but you never know which side of providence your fate will fall.

On my most recent flight to Holland, I thought lady luck had smiled on me and my fellow passengers, but after we were all seated in the full, upright and locked position, our carry-ons stowed away, we were told that there was a slight problem with one of the landing lights, which would only take 20 minutes to fix. I could see lady luck start packing her bags and by the time we were told that unfortunately they needed to wait for a replacement part to be flown in, which would take at least 3 hours, she had stepped out of the plane altogether.

We were 'deplaned' and asked to wait at the gate, where we were offered complimentary refreshments, a euphemism for the familiar constipation causing mini pretzels and soft drinks. What would that incoming plane do without the part we would be stealing from it, I wondered? Probably wait for another plane to come in, have those passengers wait 3 hours, and so on, ad infinitum. Read more...

Does Culture Breed Poverty?



Republicans and Conservatives are of course wrong on just about every issue, including abortion, equality, sex, public health care, homosexuality, guns, race, the environment, crime, foreign policy and everything else. But the Number One reason why I loathe them is that they want to grab all the money. The desire to be rich at the expense of others is the defining characteristic of the capitalist, it is at the core of the political Right.

Congressman Paul Ryan recently said that “we have this tailspin of culture, in our inner cities in particular, of men not working and just generations of men not even thinking about working and learning the value and the culture of work, and so there is a real culture problem here that has to be dealt with.” Read more...

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Race and Incarceration in America



In November 2012, the 47-year old Michael Dunn murdered 17-year old Jordan Davis in Jacksonville, Florida. Dunn is white, Davis was black. Dunn killed Davis because of loud music. His defense claimed that he believed Davis to be armed. On February 15, 2014, there was a verdict: A mistrial on the murder charge (hung jury) and a guilty verdict for attempted murder. This is clearly another Trayvon Martin-George Zimmerman type case. It is about the explosive mix of crime and race.

Once again many people are calling for “a discussion of race.” Of course. MSNBC and other progressives are in the forefront of this. And of course they are right. There is no way that this country is “post-racial” yet, even after electing a multi-racial president. The only problem I have is that there is a little bit of a cacophony on the Left. Let me give two examples of this:

#1. On Feb. 10, MSNBC complained that when Jordan Davis’ parents appeared in court during Dunn’s trial, they had to show that they had been good parents, which is shameful, considering that THEY are the victims. Read more...

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Disneyland and Osama Bin Laden



Folks: Here is the reason why you haven’t gotten any of my  funny/irritating/boring/whatever  posts for some time:
I am sick. It’s a nasty thing called brachial plexus neuritis. It’s painful, debilitating and can last a long time. I am seeing a million doctors and undergoing a million tests.  With Neurontin and other means, I am trying to gradually function as normally as possible. But for a while, I couldn’t do anything. So here I am, trying to come back with a witty short story:

This year, we celebrated New Years’ Eve in Disneyland. That’s also where we were exactly 32 months earlier, the day Osama Bin Laden was killed. We flew to Disneyland to celebrate New Years Eve with my family - my wife and I, our daughters, our grandchildren, our son-in-law. Plus five million other people.

The attractions are varied: there is the old Disneyland park, the new part called “California Adventure,” “Downtown Disney,” which is a whole bunch of restaurants and shops, and more. You can buy single tickets, or get package deals, or the “one-day hopper,” or the “two or three-day hopper,” etc. So a ticket to the rides can cost anywhere from about one hundred dollars to $400, $500 or more. I asked whether they had discounts for senior left-handed citizens born in Hungary (me), but they didn’t.
Read more...