Category: Readings (Page 2 of 6)

The thrill of the chase

googlesearch.jpgIf you follow my blog, instead of just coming here looking for some info on thalidomide or on Che Guevara’s death (the two most popular searches that lead to my site), you will have noticed that lately, I’ve been sort of obsessed with buying my children more and more craft kits. I have justified this to myself as my wanting to find things that I can do with the children that I would enjoy as well. But I’ve noticed that while I eagerly await the packages to come and I’m excited as I open them, I’m much less eager to start using them. I tell myself that I need to have the room, or the house, clean for me to feel OK doing something other than cleaning or working (or looking for more craft kits online!), but in reality, doing these crafts is not that much fun. Camila always wants to do everything by herself, and loses interest when she can’t – and Mika will go into grumpy mode if she’s not perfect at what she does. So why do I continue looking for more kits?
Well, Slate, the online magazine, has the answer. It appears (and I’d have to read the article again to get all the facts/science right) that when we are seeking something, whatever it is, the dopamine system on our brain is stimulated – we are flooded with dopamine. Apparently all that dopamine makes us feel very good, so good that people take drugs like cocaine and amphetamines to stimulate the system. The dopamine itself makes us feel eager and purposeful. So what’s not to love?
Well, apparently (and I’m a good example of that), this system has no mechanism to make us feel satiated, the more we do it, the more we want to do it – and moreover, the smaller and more umpredictable the “rewards” are, the more the system is stimulated, making us want more and seek more. With these mechanics, it’s no wonder that we are so addicted to google, facebook and twitter (Salon has a very good article on a twitter addiction) – which provide us with the feeling of the chase by entering a search term or pressing “reload” in our browser. In my case, of course, I’m addicted to searching for craft kits at Amazon (though I’ll branch out elsewhere to look for lower prices).
My addiction for craft kits is not, as you can expect, my only one. I’m also into posting and re-loading a food bulletin board and into looking for recipes for my epicurious or allrecipes for a recipe that uses some specific ingredient that’s on sale or I have at home. I spend an awfully large amount of time doing all three 🙁
At least, now, I understand it – what I need to do now is to find ways to stimulate my dopamine system which are useful to me or others.

Don’t give up – by Mario Benedetti

Here is a beautiful poem by Uruguayan writer Mario Benedetti, who passed away only a couple of days ago. As I enter my 40’s, I can’t but look look with disappointment at all the roads not taken, all the things not done, and wonder if it’s not too late for me. I know other friends have the same concerns. So here is this poem. I’m sure there is an official translation somewhere, but I haven’t found it. I’m a terrible translator, but I hope I can convey the gist.
Don’t Give Up
by Mario Benedetti
Don’t give up, you still have time
to reach up and start anew,
Accept your shadows,
Bury your fears,
Free your burdens,
Fly again.
Don’t give up, that’s what life is
Continue the journey,
Follow your dreams,
Unstuck time,
Move the rubble,
And uncover the sky.
Don’t give up, please don’t give way,
Even if the cold burns,
Even if fear bites,
Even if the sun sets,
And the wind goes silent,
There is still fire in your soul
There is still life in your dreams.
Because life is yours and yours is the desire
Because you have loved it and because I love you
Because wine exists and love is true.
Because there are no wounds that time doesn’t cure.
To open the doors,
Take away the locks,
Abandon the walls that have protected you,
To live life and accept the challenge
Get back laughter,
Practice a song,
Lower the guard and extend the hands
Open the wings
And try again,
Celebrate life and take back the skies.
Don’t give up, please don’t give way,
Even if the cold burns,
Even if fear bites,
Even if the sun sets,
And the wind goes silent,
There is still fire in your soul
There is still life in your dreams.
Because every day is a new beginning,
Because this is the hour and the best moment.
Because you are not alone, because I love you.

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The Coptic Position on Israel

gallo.pngSometimes it seems that every single group in the world has put me in their mailing list. I don’t really mind, as it’s easy enough to delete messages I don’t want to read, and it gives me the opportunity of reading messages that would otherwise not come my way.
This message from the National American Coptic Assembly is interesting because it announces a position towards Israel not otherwise encountered in the Middle East. Given the conflicts between Muslims and Copts in Egypt (e.g. the mass slaughter of pigs in Egypt, raised by the Coptic community, under the pretext that they’d pass on swine flu), this support of Jews and Israel is not altogether surprising. What does surprise me is that this support would be made public at this time. I’m afraid that it may cause even more repression against the Copts living in Egypt. I hope their American brethren know what they are doing.

national american coptic assembly
Mr. Morris Sadek-ESQ President
Outlines of Coptic Position
The Arab-Israeli Conflict
Since the dawn of history, the Jewish people have been a powerful force for peace and civility. Their remarkable contributions to civilization are a testimony to their love of the human race. Since Christianity came to Egypt in 57 A.D., we, the Christians of Egypt, have not had conflict with the Jewish people. Copts and Jews share a common history of centuries of persecutions by Moslems and Christians alike. Indeed, we share a deeply rooted appreciation for security, and yearning for peace.
Copts have been a marginal population held in captivity for sixteen centuries. They constitute the largest non-Arab, non-Moslem minority in the Middle East. The Coptic Orthodox Church, The Church of Alexandria, is arguably the oldest organization in the Middle East. It continues to exist and function as has done so uninterrupted since 57 A.D. Despite this distinguished history, it is a church that has been under siege since the Islamic invasion. The Church’s relation with foreign counties is dictated by the Arab government of Egypt.
Since the humiliating 1967 defeat of the Arabs in the Six-Days War, the Christians of Egypt have been allowed to immigrate to the United States, where several human rights organizations have actively worked to expose the heinous crimes committed against the Copts in Egypt. These organizations have generally avoided publically, which addresses the Arab-Israeli conflict.
The National American Coptic Assembly recognizes that it is in the best interest of the Coptic people to develop and declare a position regarding the Middle East Arab- Israeli conflict. Our outline of our position is as follows:
We recognize the sacred right of the state of Israel and the Israeli people to the land of historic Israel .
“The right of Return” of the Jewish people to the land of their foremothers and forefathers is a sacred right. It has no statute of limitation. The return must continue to enrich the Middle East .
We recognize Jerusalem as simply a Jewish city, It must never be divided, She is, and shall always be, the united capital of Israel .
The future of the Palestinians lies with the Arab states. A Palestinian state in Judea and Samaria constitute an imminent danger to world peace.
We believe that the Wahabi/Moslem brotherhood religious ideology and its power structures are threats not only to Israel and other non-Arab, non-Moslem peoples in the Middle East, but also to world peace.
It is our opinion that the North Atlantic Treaty Organization should be assigned the historic and critical mission of defeating this Islamic ideology and its power structures.
We believe that the resolution of the Arab-Israeli conflict and the achievement of genuine peace in the Middle East can only be visible with the emergence of tolerant Islamic faith. The toxic combination of Islamic supremacy and extremism and Arab racism is the real enemy to peace in the Middle East. It must be defeated.
In any current or future peace treaty among all parties involved in the Middle East conflict, the following must be part of such treaty :
“All parties to this treaty recognize Mecca and Medina to be the holiest cities in Islam, whereas Christian and Jewish parties to this treaty give up and surrender in full any and all legal and historical rights to these cities. All parties to this treaty recognize a united Jerusalem to be the holiest city in Judaism, whereas all Arab and all Moslem parties to this treaty will relinquish and surrender in full any and all legal and historical rights in
Jerusalem and as such accept it as the united capital of the Jewish state.”
National American Coptic Assembly
Office of the President

Letter from Iranian filmmaker Bahman Ghobadi about Bahman Ghobadi

ghobadi.jpg“To Roxana Saberi, Iranian with an American passeport”
If I kept quiet until now, it was for her sake. If today I speak, it is for her sake.
She is my friend, my fiancée, and my companion. An intelligent and talented young woman, whom I have always admired.
It was the 31st of January. The day of my birthday. That morning, she called to say she would pick me up so we would go out together. She never came. I called on her mobile, but it was off, and for two-three days I had no idea what had happened to her. I went to her apartment, and since we had each other’s keys, I went in, but she wasn’t there. Two days later, she called and said: “Forgive me my dear, I had to go to Zahedan.” I got angry: why hadn’t she said anything to me? I told her I didn’t believe her, and again she said: “Forgive me my dear, I had to go.” And the line was cut. I waited for her to call back. But she didn’t call back. She didn’t call back.
saberi.jpgI left for Zahedan. I looked for her in every hotel, but nobody had ever heard her name. For ten days, thousands of wild thoughts came to my mind. Until I learned, through her father, she had been arrested. I thought it was a joke.
I thought it was a misunderstanding and that she would be released after two or three days. But days went by and I had no news from her. I started to worry and knocked on every door for help, until I understood what had happened.
It is with tears in my eyes that I say she is innocent and guiltless. It is me, who has known her for years, and shared every moment with her, who declares it. She was always busy reading and doing her research. Nothing else. During all these years I’ve known her, she wouldn’t go anywhere without letting me know, nor would do anything without asking my advice. To her friends, her family, everyone that surrounded her, she had given no signs of unreasonable behavior. How come someone who would spend days without going out of her apartment, except to see me; someone who, like a Japanese lady, would carefully spend her money, and had sometimes trouble making a living; someone who was looking for a sponsor to get in contact with a local publisher so her book would be printed here (in Iran); could now be charged with a spying accusation?! We all know – no, we have all seen in movies – that spies are malicious and sneaky, that they peep around for information, and that they are very well paid.

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