Category Archives: common man

“The Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975” is the yearbook of the revolution

The Black Power Mixtape 1965-1975 is one of the most spectacularly moving documentaries of radical American history released in 2011, and is sure to be like nothing you’ve seen before. The documentary is composed of film shot by a Swedish news crew following the Black Power movement through the socially explosive era of the 60’s and 70’s. The news reels sat forgotten in a basement archival storage for over 30 years until Swedish documentary filmmaker Göran Olsson brushed off the dust. His resulting work won a Sundance Film Festival award for editing.

What I enjoyed about this documentary was the style. Man, was it cool. It takes the revolutionary spirit of those times and makes it contagious. You can’t help but feel yourself get caught up in the sense of urgency. I do admit, I was tempted several times to throw up my fist. The original Swedish crew takes the viewer deep into the Black Power movement by visiting the Black Panther headquarters in Oakland, the liberation rallies, Harlem ghettos, and prisons, to show the period in its rawest and most unapologetic form. The interviews are charged with the turmoil of a society divided by racial violence. Some of the un-politically correct statements are sure offend some viewers.  We get to hear directly from leaders in the revolution speak out for themselves in their manner that is so iconic to the 60’s and 70’s. There are appearances by civil rights giants such as Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, Huey Newton, Bobby Seale, Angela Davis, Eldridge Cleaver, and Stokely Charmichael.  Angela Davis’s interview is undeterred despite being conducted while incarcerated. Her fierce intellect still has the passion and power to move even the newest generation.

Don’t expect a concise depiction of the Black Power movement. As the name implies, it is more of a mixtape highlighting the movement’s greatest hits. The soundtrack itself is a mixtape of the soul, funk, and jazz that embodied the era. While many critiques dwell on the lack of historical cohesion, they miss the point that this documentary is supposed to function similar to a time capsule. Either way, the Black Power movement is far too vast and complex of an American phenomenon to ever be explained in 100 minutes. Even the interviewees towards the end urge people to read because “Knowledge is king.” The only problem I had with the film was that the modern commentators were almost exclusively recording artist rather than political activist, social scientist, or university professors. Yet the film is never lacking in message.

The Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975 is a super stylish film that makes it fashionable to be intelligent again. It’s a motion picture scrapbook put together by this generation from the memories and history of another. This history is a troubled history, it will engage you directly. You can’t help but feel activated to continue the struggle for a more equal world. I hope you watch and enjoy this great documentary. Let me end this review by honoring all those in the fighting against fascism everywhere. Power to the people.

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reflections on the occupy movement and what protest means today

It was about a year ago that the Occupy movement spread worldwide. Millions of people participated in the protest against global economic inequality. Their rallying point was that the top 1% is accumulating too much wealth, and primarily through exploitative means. There is vast evidence to support these claims. The world is not a very friendly place, I’m sure you already know. So I agreed with their cause and was interested to see how it would develop. I expected an anti-protester stance by the government and corporate world, but what truly shocked me was how the general public reacted. Ordinary people (not all, there was massive support) began bashing on the movement against corporate greed. Even some of my politically apathetic friends began posting “facebook bumper stickers” against the protesters. When the powers that be had enough and ordered the police in to smash the movement, those same people felt America had won some type of battle. In fact it did, but for who?

The Occupy movement failed to bring about any significant change to the global economic system. People are still being exploited for labor and the presidential debate hardly addresses the growing inequality of the 1%. Yet the movement brought to light a disturbing aspect of our government, that future mass protests will most likely be met by the same repressive actions and possibly be intensified. Furthermore, the violence shows that the government has clearly sided with Wall St. The fact that all this happened while our troops were off dying for “freedom” only adds to the hypocrisy of it all. Any meaningful social action against abusive government/corporate practices will be ignored in the least and will be met with raw violence if necessary. Keep in mind that the Occupy movement was largely a nonviolent movement.

Tiananmen Square Massacre, 1989. Chinese protesters rally against government/corporate corruption. This footage is a haunting reminder of the Police State any government could become. Warning: the following BBC broadcast was recorded live on location and contains graphic images of violence and death.

This is not an isolated incident. And if you care enough to read further into the history of Neoliberalism, you’ll find that the Occupy movement is actually a continuing development from what you just watched. A true democracy must tolerate the most unpopular protests or degrade into totalitarianism. Advocating official government repression silences all people.

The government’s decision to suppress the Occupy movement by police force rather than open debate has lead some people to question adherence to nonviolent tactics. In the face of increasing police aggression, a growing number of people are turning to Black Bloc. It is a protest tactic in which a unified mass all wear black clothing and conceal their identities. They use extreme measures such as graffiti, rioting, and destruction of private property, as forms of direct action against the corporate establishment. Mob mentality is preferred and the group is known to be strong advocates of Anarchism.

Whether Black Bloc is an effective protest tactic or counter intuitive to petitioning the government for authentic change is hotly debated. What remains certain is that methods like Black Bloc are a reaction to government’s reluctance to engage the people’s concerns of corporate abuse, and the outright assaults on peaceful protesters only encourage more people to turn away from pacifism. After the inadequate results of 2011’s massive Occupy movement and the government’s brutal repression tactics, the question of what protest means in the United States remains uncertain. The solutions will not materialize themselves from nothing. These Ideas will be born from rational and intelligent debate that is protected by our right to free speech. But all the free speech in the world means nothing if our minds are empty and lethargic. Read books, ask questions, seek out information, and challenge propaganda. Most importantly, see that there is a problem. Both sides will need to evolve as the growing, unresolved tension foreshadows the violent extremities of the not so distant past.

 

Thank you for reading. Feel free to like my facebook page for more of my posts. http://www.facebook.com/BlubberIsland Please share!

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Your iPhone and 2,000 Rioting Chinese Workers

The footage above is of a riot at the Foxconn facility in Taiyuan, China on September 24th, 2012. It’s been reported to have started at the overcrowded dorm rooms (eight to ten people may share a room). The horrid working conditions have been driving workers to the edge. Several have even jumped to their deaths out of desperation, but instead of improving work conditions, Foxconn decided to go with suicide nets. I’m sure this was the more cost effective route.

This isn’t the “social safety net” most have in mind.

The guards had been bullying the workers continuously. “Bullying” is probably an understatement because it was enough to piss off 2,000 Chinese workers into brawling with these pigs. So who’s the bad guys here? I personally enjoy watching riots and tend to root for the home team. The authority figures tend to come fully equipped with the latest in hippy bashing technology. This automatically gives them the edge, further encouragement would unnecessary and thus somewhat ridiculous. A rioter has think outside the box in order to turn everyday items into potential weapons. I am a fan of ingenuity. Not everyone sees it this way.

David Barboza and Keith Bradsher of The New York Times offered their probable explanation for the explosive anger turned riot.

“Disputes involving large groups of migrant workers are common in China. In some cases, workers protest after believing that they have been promised a certain pay package and traveled a long distance to claim it, only to find on arrival that the details are different from what they expected. In other cases, workers from different provinces with different cultural traditions coming together in a single factory have clashed over social issues or perceived slights.”

I think they could be onto something. Workers heard of good pay being offered for assembling world-famous Apple products, only to get there and find:

-Excessive overtime without proper compensation

-The occasional 24 hour work shift

-Overcrowded living conditions

-Poisonous chemicals

-Factory explosions

-Asshole security guards

-Suicidal depression

Expect the unexpected.

As for their second reason, “workers from different provinces with different cultural traditions coming together in a single factory have clashed over social issues or perceived slights.” This explains everything! Why didn’t anyone inform Foxconn that Chinese people are racist against Chinese people? I can just hear the hate slogans: “We keep taking all our jobs!” Man, I’d be pissed, too. As persuasive an argument that David Barboza and Keith Bradsher make, I can’t accept this for one simple fact. How could they hit anyone if they all look alike? Fuck around, and you might end up kicking your own ass! No, this just doesn’t add up. David Barboza and Keith Bradsher are not journalists. They write anti-worker bullshit to reassure rich cocksuckers that they won’t burn in hell with the rest of the slave masters. Let’s hear it instead from somebody who actually works there.

This worker says she makes less than a dollar an hour. That means for the price of hiring one Mexican illegally, you could get a whole fleet of Chinese workers. They probably wouldn’t bring their own gardening tools, but at least they wouldn’t be blasting mariachi music, right? Give and take, my friend, give and take. Honestly though, less than a dollar an hour? Even hobos begging for change make more than that and on a slow day. So who’s calling the shots? Let’s meet the piece of subhuman shit himself. Introducing Terry Gou, Chairman of Hong Hai Precision (mother company of Foxconn). According to Forbes, he rings up for a net worth of $6.3 billion dollars.

“I give these many shits about my people.”

Apple has always modeled its corporate culture on having a somewhat hippy attitude. This most likely comes from founder, Steve Jobs, who is known to have dabbled with LSD and even encouraged others to fry balls in order to find groovy ways around creative obstacles. He is remembered for being a man of boundless ideas–that is, until he’s faced with the problem of human rights abuses in Apple assembly lines. It’s sort of weird seeing him go from guru to yabbering douche bag in under five seconds.

Straight from the horse’s mouth. The company knows what’s going on in the China factories. So what did Steve Jobs say in response to the suicide inducing work conditions? In so many words, he nicely said, “Fuck them. I’m rich, bitch.” At least that was my interpretation. Steve Jobs died a greedy $36.1 billion asshole. Anyone who can’t see that must be high on acid.

“Now get back to work or kill yourself.”

“Yes sir!” (Fatal explosion at Foxconn)

So what’s the point of all this? No, I’m not going to start advocating throwing away our iShit. I have all my music on iTunes, why the hell would I do that? Instead, I want you to remember the slogan, “Made in USA.” You have to remember it because it’s quickly becoming a relic of the past.

Never Forget

Virtually all Apple products are manufactured overseas by millions of workers like the ones at Foxconn then sold in the US at record breaking figures. What would those millions of jobs mean to Americans in hard times like now? When Apple was asked why it doesn’t manufacture in America, they gave a whole slew of how Chinese companies have out performed American craftsmanship and are more cost effective. On some level this is true, but it’s only possible by breaking the law. We have rights and regulations that protect us from things like “24-hour work shifts” and “less than a dollar an hour wage.” The solution has been to lobby (bribe) government officials in order to “relax” restrictions and create tax incentives for sending manufacturing jobs to other countries that tolerate labor abuse. America loses jobs, workers in other countries are exploited, you put the iShit on your credit card at marked-up interest rates, and the Board of Directors get their chubby little Christmas bonuses.

Forbes Magazine reports 39% drop in American manufacturing jobs since 1979.

Great time to be a CEO. Where can I apply?

It’s these same people telling us, “Hey, nothing personal, just business.” They claim fixing the economy isn’t their problem, as if the sky high unemployment rates had nothing to do with the millions of jobs strategically shipped overseas. Yet, they wish for Americans to continue purchasing their products, for police officers to arrest the thieves who would rip off their merchandise, seek copyright protection and tax breaks under US laws, and the security of the United States’ armed forces.

This should offend you.

These abusive economic practices hide behind deceptive terms such as “Free Trade.” It’s a global scam that amasses wealth in the hands of few at the expense of workers everywhere. Neoliberalism, as it is called, is transcending beyond Republican and Democrat party lines. Our government as a whole has been getting on the “profit over people” track. You have rights and interests as a worker. Those rights are being stripped away through a big business agenda who wish to have Foxconn conditions here at home.

The first thing you can do is simply be aware. Don’t rely exclusively on television to inform you. There are plenty of writers you can check out. I’d recommend Noam Chomsky as a great starting point. I hope you’ve enjoyed my introduction to Neoliberalism and Globalization. Now get back to your iLife.

Feel free to comment and question anything on this post. I’m always happy to recommend additional writers, books, and documentaries.

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Grabbing Waves and Assholes in Safari Hats

Jibs was at home with nothing to do, boredom settled into him. Staying at home all day wasn’t his cup of tea but shear laziness had kept him indoors since waking up late this morning. He looked at the clock, 2:34p.m. Boredom irritated Jibs like a nagging woman. He tried to shake this dullness off without leaving the house. First he went through an entire circuit of calisthenics while listening to to the radio but after he finished he only felt more energized. He made a ham sandwich, it was good, and then it was gone.

“Grrrrrrrr……”

He was bored, yet still refused to go outside. Jibs didn’t particularly hate the day; in fact he loved being outside but a mild case of agoraphobia rooted into him. He looked outside and made a low growl to himself again. Desperate, he went to his library. His hand passed various classics the likes of Mark Twain, Martin Luther King, and Aldous Huxley until retrieving its target. He stared at the DVD box in his hand “Phat Ass’d Anal Princess’s Vol. 3.” He hesitated for moment, shrugged his shoulders, and inserted the movie. Half way through the first scene, he’d seen enough. Finally he gave in and decided the best thing to do now was go out for a drive. Jibs grabbed his car keys and headed outside to his 1972 faded lime green Monte Carlo.

Coasting aimlessly through the neighborhood began to lighten his mode. He took lefts and rights as his heart desired. Feeling the warm summer sun on his face made him smile. ‘Why didn’t I do this sooner?’ He thought to himself with a smile. The car was a gutted out shit-box barely qualifying as an automobile. It was loud, there was no radio or windows, but Jibs could give a damn. A bad day was turning into a good day, and in his mind he was winning. Suddenly as if waking from a half-dream he remembered the joint in the ashtray. To this he smiled an even wider grin. Yes, Jibs was undeniably winning. His eyes went into scanning mode for a discreet place to smoke. After rolling through a few blocks he found it.

Jibs came to a stop in front of a tiny park and killed the engine. Opening the ashtray he found the neatly rolled joint and imparted a look that read a cool “Hell yeah.”  He put the joint in his mouth and quickly eyed around for any neighbors walking their dogs. The coast was clear and with the flick of a Bic the joint was lit. He dragged sweet marijuana smoke into lungs and let out a tiny cough then blew smoke outside the window. Three more puffs and he began to feel the intoxicating waves of ganja goodness span over him. He melted into the driver’s seat. Through half closed, puffy red eyes he wondered just what was wrong with the world. The answers to everything seemed so clear to him. In that soft lull he began to profess stoney wisdom in his mind- ‘ All the unnecessary killing and problems… Man everyone just got’s it all wrong. God and war… it ain’t nothing but’an illusion. The answer… is no answer, the answer can be found… in rays of the OOH SHIT!!!’  Jibs spit the joint on his lap and burned his pinky finger with the cherry. At the end of a block, facing his car, stood a man wearing black pants and a black jacket with a silver-grey badge sown over the left breast. In his stoned brain Jibs attempted to deal with the situation.

‘Fuck man a fucking cop! Awwww…damn where the hell he come from?! Shit, just my goddamn luck. Right when I start turning this shitty ass day around it has to find somehow to fuck me in ass… Alright man stay cool… don’t act suspicious, you’re just minding your own business. Alright check your eyes…’

Jibs looked into rearview mirror.

‘Shit! They’re red like the devil.. Ok man keep cool. Maybe he’ll just leave.’

Man proceeded to light a cigarette.

‘Damn it! .. Ok if I leave, it might look suspicious and he could tell me to pull over, but if I stay then I’ll be fucked for sure. Man, the hell with this, I’m outta here.’

Of all the times the Monte Carlo had failed to start on him this had to be one of the worst. The clicks emitting from the faulty starter grabbed the attention of the jacket wearing man and he walked towards the stalling car. Jibs cursed under his breath while hurriedly throwing a story together. The man was at his passenger window.

Montey won’t start,” asked the man.

                “Yeah … it just….uhh.”

Jibs gave up a big smile and laughed. The badge sown on the man’s jacket was the Raiders’ emblem.

Ha ha….man! I thought you were a cop”

A cop? Would a cop be out here… smokin’ weed?”

The man took a drag off a joint.

I’ll help you pop start her up”

Jibs was confused and relieved. The man got behind the car and yelled out to let off the break. Jibs gave him thumbs up and he started pushing. The car got rolling to a good speed and the man yelled “POP IT!” Jibs popped the clutch and the whole bucket rattled and bounced. The wheels gripped the asphalt for a second as the engine turned The tail pipe coughed out a fat cloud of black exhaust right into the man’s face. In the rear view mirror Jibs could see the man swearing between his coughs. Jibs gave him a friendly wave as he drove along his merry way.

Man, craziness. The last thing I need right now is some cop bullshit. The fuckers are always around to tug on your balls and never around when you actually need the bastards.’

He drove off. It was a close call and he knew it. Things were tough enough as is, now put an arrest, car impoundment, court date, and legal fees on top of the whole mess and what was a man to do? All anyone wants in this crazy mixed up world a little peace. This life can get to you.  Although the troubles in most people’s lives are everyday struggles, one couldn’t deny it would get under your skin and push your head underwater until you couldn’t take it anymore.

He drove out of the suburbs and got on to Highway 78 West. The car didn’t have a radio and so Jib’s listened to the sounds of the road and cars engines with their dull roars. Warm ocean air blew into his face and the sun moved west in the sky.  The highway looked like gold under the California sun. In Jibs’ mind he thought of very little. Just keeping his eyes on the road, he sped on towards the beach.

He arrived at downtown and eased his car onto the wide, palm tree and liquor store studded boulevard. You had everything there. Marines with their jarhead haircuts walked in packs checking out where to get the booze and some ass, street losers figuring out how to do nothing, surfers carrying boards, bikini girls, and all the nobody’s in between. This was his city and would always be his city. The warm sun felt like a blanket on his skin and he drove on from the south side of the 101 to the north and turned left towards the beach area parking lot. It was a pay lot but Jibs never paid for parking, for him it was a matter of ethics, ‘These places shouldn’t even be pay parking, it’s on the beach, man c’mon.’ But the reality was that parting with 3 dollars would put a sting in his pocket.

He pulled into a front row spot and watched the scene before him. The beautiful girls were sunbathing and surf was breaking in rhythmic pulse. There were other goings on but he wasn’t concerned. Waves built off in the horizon and every surfer jockeyed for the inside position and thus get that ride. All those waves were beautiful, but after the ninth set something special was happening. In the horizon there approached no ordinary wave but this majestic thing of power, a blue mountain rushing like a train from way out showing no sign of slowing down. It built continually higher, surpassing the crest of all the others, its perfect form seemed of the divine. The wave’s radiating energy refused to be ignored and commanded the attention of everyone on the beach. Some suffers paddled away for fear of everything it was, yet others fought to put themselves in alignment. The way it rose seemed impossible and still it did. Five surfers broke away from the pack and reached the magnificent swell. Paddling with everything in them, they clawed their arms into the slope driving themselves downward with every stroke. Two surfers took the lead position, each trying to out paddle the other but there was only room for one and the inside man wanted it the badest. Out hustling the other man, he moved ahead of his rival and stood. The wave curled directly behind him but he glided across the face like a bird against the blue sky, ducking just in time for the lip to throw over his head and explode on the surface in a thundering smash of white water. For three seconds he disappeared into the barrel and everyone thought he was toast. The wave blinded onlookers with a massive section of sun like a massive panel of curved glass. Then within this blinding light his dark figured raced out of the barrel while the wave behind him crashed into an avalanche. He coasted on pure momentum and raised his arms in victory then let himself fall into the sea. Whoever that guy was, he won, he beat life, he beat the odds and everyone else who tried to take this away from him. Jibs looked on and smiled. He got out and stood in front of his car basking in the collective glory of what he’d just witnessed.

That’s right, fuck you world. We won’t all give in that easy. Won’t cave in the way you’d like us to. There’s some of us who still got the will to fight. You can beat us down with all your bills and bullshit, kick us to the ground till we’re spitting up blood and you’ll think we’re finished. But, don’t look too surprised when one of us reaches under our bruised bellies and comes up throwing a face full of dirt and kicking you square in the balls.’

He heard something behind him and turned around. An overweight meter maid wearing a plastic safari hat with an electronic citation dispenser was taking note of his license plate.  “Hey! Hey! Hey! Hold on sir,” yelled Jibs.

“There is no ticket displayed on the dash,” the city worker replied without looking up.

“I do have my ticket!” Jibs moved up close to distract him from his little machine. The man looked up unconvinced with a bored expression as Jibs put on his best fake smile. “It’s in my car, sir. If you’d just gimmie a second. I put it in my wallet and it’s in the glove box.” The man stood there not finding Jibs’ smile contagious at the very least.  With a humble bow and raising a finger signaling it would only take a second, he backed towards the driver’s side opening the door, smiling all the while. He sat into the driver’s seat and stirred papers around the glove box. Looking into the rearview he saw the meter maid becoming increasingly agitated. Jibs cheerfully called back, “Just a second, got a lot of papers and documents in here.” But the man wasn’t buying and raised up his dispenser to finish writing up the citation. Jibs knew he was done. He stopped messing around the glove box for the alleged wallet with the imaginary ticket. Jibs watching the fat man spell out his inevitable 60$ parking spot, when a concerned looking women walked up to the man jabbering and pointing at a group of youngsters passing around an open container in brown paper bag. Seizing the opportunity, Jibs went for the ignition. The tires skidded backwards on the sandy lot as he reversed out while cranking the wheel to straighten out. The meter maid broke away from the lady and ran to the driver’s side pounding on the window screaming for Jibs to stop. With eyes strait forward in determination, Jibs punched the gas and sandblasted the fat man and nosey lady in a stinging shower. Jibs shot out of the parking lot, ran a stop sign, and was gone. Gone like a summer breeze.

Jibs made for Highway 78 and drove east away from the beach. With the sun setting behind him, the sky was a magnificent orchestra of reds, oranges, and yellows. He smiled the whole way because he knew that he’d won. He refused to be pushed around by the asshole, gigantic safari hat wearing world. No, not him, he was a fighter just like the surfer was a fighter. And now he was surfing that great beautiful wave and nothing could stop him. It was things like this that kept him going, the tiny victories in the face of overwhelming defeat. Those little neatly packaged “fuck you’s” we manage to pull off. Jibs lay back in his seat taking it all in. Tomorrow he probably wouldn’t be so but that was ok. Sometimes there’s just enough momentum to cruise safely past the next shit storm. After that, well, that’s another story.

 

photo credit http://www.flickr.com/photos/ethnoscape/339126182/

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Bill Nye the Science Guy and the Call to Reason

William Sanford “Bill” Nye (the Science Guy) released a bold video entitled “Creationism is Not Appropriate for Children,” in which he confronts the idea of Creationism and the denial of evolution. He makes his argument that, “Evolution is the fundamental idea in all life science…” and that, “When you have a portion of the population that doesn’t believe in that, it holds everybody back, really.”

Hot off the press.

This short video hit a nerve, immediately getting millions of views. And the reason is not because the evolutionists finally had someone cool to rally around; it was for Bill’s message against the strange American social movement of anti-reason, a philosophical way of life that allows people to deny anything that contradicts their world view, no matter how reasoned or obvious. It’s a movement currently spearheaded by groups such as the Tea Party, a grassroots movement primarily for closet racists that can’t stand the fact a black man is president and see Mexicans as a problem, all the while hiding behind a brittle mask of patriotism. There is also the extreme right-wing Christians who wish to bring about a Christian world order and are so disconnected from human suffering that they’d support a man with the character of Todd Akin whose views on rape and women fit right at home in the dark ages. Their agendas are not based on sound reason or even humanitarian ideas. When you take away the rhetoric they are driven by simple ignorance, hate, fear, and intolerance.

Personally, I’m big on freedom and so I encourage people to believe whatever they choose. But this movement has gained enough momentum to cause detrimental effects at home and abroad. It is a cause of impassioned fanatics who don’t understand what’s going on because they are encouraged to dismiss information as they see fit. This jams the inner working of progress with wasteful infighting that has no end because it does not rely on basic logic. This has grown beyond a tactic of rallying people to cast their votes for a certain party. We are entering a psychological climate that is retrograding and self-destructive in terms of our intellectual and humanitarian advances.

 

I could be guilty of seeing more than Bill intended, but it was his closing statement that leads me to believe I’m not too far off, “And I say to the grownups, if you want to deny evolution and live in your world, in your world that’s completely inconsistent with everything we observe in the universe, that’s fine, but don’t make your kids do it because we need them. We need scientifically literate voters and taxpayers for the future.”

The rational thinkers need to make their stand too. We can’t just sit around and watch this backwards social movement tear everything apart. The earth is flat, manifest destiny, government leaders of divine choice, racial inferiority, denial of evolution and the effects of pollution on our environment are all ideas rooted in the tradition of embracing ignorance. I encourage more people continue to take an active stance in the name of reason, and thus spark an inward revolution that will create a condition favorable for the cultivation of our minds and life.

 

Photo Credits

http://scienceprogressaction.org/intersection/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/fakepost3.jpg

http://other98.com/

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