Tag Archives: society

The Aztec way of Life

Aztec, a +1000 page book, is the culmination of 12 years of historical research by its author Gary Jennings. First published in 1980, the book narrates the adventures of Mixtli, an aztec native, before & after the arrival of the Spanish conquerors in Mexico. The book serves as a window into a distant time, into an Aztec Empire capable of great beauty and cruelty. But most of all, Aztec demonstrate the unique philosophy of life and way of living of the aztec people.

Tenochtlitan - The Capital of the Aztec Empire

Aztec reminds of us of a time  where everyone believed in “fate”, a place where men coexisted peacefully with nature,  and a society in which money wasn’t the most important thing in the world.

Every time a aztec baby was born, his umbilical cord was cut off. If the baby was a girl, the umbilical cord would be wrapped around a piece of wood and buried under the house. (this should help the girl develop good household skills – the aztecs would say) If the baby was a boy, the umbilical cord would be wrapped around a small wooden shield and given to a warrior. The warrior would then proceed to bury the “shield” in a battlefield. (according to aztec tradition, this would give the boy the courage he needed to be a great warrior) This piece of buried umbilical cord was referred to as an aztec’s “tonali” or fate. The common aztec believe that their human fate was tied to their “tonali” and the will of the gods.

Like many ancient cultures, the aztec’s religion was deeply interwined with the elements of nature. The aztec gods manifested their will through meteorological and astrological acts. Just like the early Christians, the aztecs believed that man and nature where subject to the direct power and intervention of the God(s). But unlike the Europeans of the time who disdained nature, destroyed countless forests and abused of the Earth’s resources; the aztecs lived sorrounded by nature.

Unlike in today’s capitalistic society, money wasn’t  everything in the aztec world. As there was no official currency, the aztec’s often traded using gold powder, copper chunks, jade rocks, and chocolate beans. Honor, prestige, war and power – were more imporant than money. And the aztec tradesmen were members of a guild, known as the Pochteca, and always traded in the name and for the well-being of their Empire. (And unlike those working at Wall Street, these ancient traders would have never allowed their greed to destroy their nation)

And finally... the topic of human sacrifice

Why did the aztecs perform human sacrifices?

According to Aztec folkore, the world and its human inhabitants has been destroyed four times. The first time the entire human population was devoured by jaguars. The second time, destroyed by tornadoes and hurricanes. The third time, by a rain of fire. And finally, by a massive flood like Noah’s (but without survivors). According to aztec religion, these four destructions were sent by the gods because they were not pleased. The gods demanded a more constant supply of human blood, or else they would grow thirsty and destroy. From the aztec point of view, being sacrificied was an honor: they were giving their life for a good cause. Protecting the human race from further divine destruction.

Henceforth the problem: how can you sustain an Empire that constantly requires war prisioners for sacrifice?

The answer is easy: make “fake” wars. During times of peace, the six central Aztec nations would wage their own war simulation, called “Florid Wars”. Every year, 3 Aztecs nations would face off against the other 3 Aztec nations in an open field. The objective of these “Florid Wars” was not to kill the enemy, but to disable and capture prisoners. These “fake” wars would last several days, until all of the generals decided they had captured enough prisioners. Each army would then return to their own nation and commit massive “Florid Sacrifices”. And the gods were pleased.

MEMORABLE QUOTES FROM THE BOOK

Yes, at your age you expect a lot. You can go in any direction you choose. You can go alone or with company. Your companions might travel with you a short or long distance. But at the end of your life, no matter how full your wanderings and days have been, you must learn what everybody eventually learns […] No man has ever lived more than one life, which he himself as choosen and for the most part lived alone.

I believe that memories are the only treasure that humans can ever hope of owning forever.

We had wasted love, which is the most unforgettable waste of all. Time and love are the only two things in the world that one can’t buy, only spend.

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Old School vs. New School

And when I say old school… I mean OLD school. This article is about appreciating those traits that made Greek Academies so great and the current College System… so, so lame. History repeats itself, they say. And looking at the past for knowledge, is a GREAT way to help build a better future.

Let’s start at the beginning.

Students who went to the academies in Ancient Greece went there because they wanted to learn. It was this thirst for knowledge that drove students to visit their classrooms, not a need for a diploma or social pressure.

Greek students choose their teachers. They weren’t assigned to teachers randomly.

Greeks students honored their teachers by referring them to as “master” or “mentor”. Not Mr. Jones, Missy, or simply Emily. Formalities aside, respect toward educators is a thing that is quickly deteriorating.

Ancient students were free to leave a classroom whenever they wanted, and a teacher could refuse to give classes to a disrespectful student.

Students read books because they genuinely wanted to learn, not because of some test or examination.

Greek Academies ran on donations/sponsors…. not on student’s money.

IN THE END

It’s the over-complicated society, the over-complicated life, and over-complicated regulations that have ruined the education system.

It’s a shame how the entire SYSTEM is geared towards teaching students how to work, but NOT how to live. Sure, it’s the parent’s job to take care of the LIFE lessons … but happens to kids with bad parents? or a dumb ones? or broken homes?….. sadly, there is few people around to guide these lost teenagers.

Old School

Read —–> Learn —–> Be a better person

New School

Read —–> Take tests —–> Get diploma —–> Work —–> Make money

In the Society of the XXI Century

Seems like helping students make “future” money is more important than helping them find happiness.

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Wikileaks Scandal – The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

The publication of 250,000 US diplomatic cables last week by Wikileaks.com has caused quite a scandal in both the US and International community. While the legality/morality/goal of such action is dubious, the fact of the matter is that the information is out there and can’t be taken back. That being said, before taking sides on the issue (freedom of speech vs. Assange terrorist), lets analize the effects of such publication:

The Good

  • Like the Pentagon Papers (Vietnam) and the Watergate Scandal, some of the cables published reveal corrupt and inmoral US goverment operations. Operations that our democratic  govermentof should never have to endorse.

1. Hillary Clinton ordered a spy operation on UN leadership. The US diplomats were asked to obtain DNA samples, adresses, credit card numbers, phone numbers, tax and pager numbers and EVEN computer passwords from top UN members. Such operation is a blatant infringement of UN laws and individual privacy.

2. The oil company Shell admits to have infiltrated the Nigerian goverment at all levels. To such an extent that a Shell executive boasted that they know exactly everything that goes on within the Nigerian ministries. Such capitalistic, corrupt infiltration of a goverment is clearly anything but “democratic” or ethical.

  • The publication of the cables also brought to light the high level of corruption, bribery, criminal dealings of the current Russian goverment. Now its up to the russian population to take action (if they can) and try to reform such a obscure goverment procedures.

The Bad

  • Some of the cables published couldn’t have come at a worse time. A time where the economy is bad, the Middle East is unstable and North Korea is highely agressive.
  1. By revealing that China is progessively withdrawing its support to North Korea, the north koreans will feel threatened to lose its biggest patron and thus seek to further distabilize the Korean region.
  2. By revealing that US is backed by many Arab countries in its attempt to contain Iran’s influence/nuclear proliferation; expect the already-radical Iranian president to turn even more radical.
  3. By revealing the weakness or corruption of many African presidents, the publication has put the continent’s stability at test.
  • Also, USA’s political credibility has been weakened worldwide.

The Ugly

  • Several cables revealed that behind the deities of the Saudi Arabian royalty, there are parties that include alcohol, strippers and drugs. Have only two words to say on the matter – PARTY POOPER.
  • The US goverment’s response of prosecuting and shutting down Internet sites goes agaisnt the ideal of freedom of speech. Such action has only made the USA look undemocratic, like China.
  • If people of the likes of Julian Assange can hack into Pentagon archives and shutdown Visa.com; imagine how easily they could steal our passwords and other personal digital information.

Conclusion

While unmasking corruption and inmoral actions is always justified (Vietnam, Watergate, in this case the corruption of Nigeria and American espionage in the United Nations) I believe the problem lies not in the action, but in the indiscriminate manner such information was made public. A responsible person would have taken the time to actually skim through the cables and publish that which is useful for society. The data which helps foment human relations.

What is Julian Assange seeking to gain by publishing “provoking” personal correspondence of US diplomats? (such as the one Hillay Clinton states that the Argetinian president seems “mentally unstable” or another that describes Nicolas Sarkozy as “impatient and undiplomatic”) Does this type of personal correspondence help the international community in any way? Or does it merely seek to obtain notoriety and spark bitterness between world leaders?

Just like you wouldn’t inform a patient in intensive care that his parents have just suffered a horrible death; when revealing secrets one has to take the timing and possible consequences into account. In this case, some of the cables published about Iran and North Korea seem more likely to trigger violence than “enlightment” or “transparency”. So while I wouldn´t call Julian Assange a criminal, I would definitely label some of his actions as unthoughtful.

And as for the US goverment, instead of trying to control the release of information (which is impossible), your efforts would be better spent in figuring out ways to better protect secrets so they doesn’t get “stolen” in the first place.

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For more information, The Guardian has developed a detailed interface/map of the 250,000 cables

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Utopia vs. Society and Catholic traditions

Utopia, a book written about that a perfect society. Sadly, 500 years into the future, we are still far from achieving such a thing. The world is still full of the same war, poverty, hatred and tiranny that Thomas More observed in 16th century England. Since More´s Utopia is based on the non-existence of money and the sharing of goods (socialist ideals) many of his proposal´s are irrelevant in the capitalist world of today. I will thus focus on: 

Those Utopian proposals that are applicable in a capitalistic society. (some will shock you… trust me)

1. Catholic clerical marriage: Thomas More, a deeply religious catholic himself, believed marriage should be a option available to priests. A priest´s wive is encouraged, not required, to lead a life of commuity help. That way, a motherly figure is made available to give advice about children/family values, should someone seek it. (such measure should also help solve the Catholic Church´s current pedophilia scandal)

2. Few laws and no lawyers: the more simple and clear the law is, the more just it is considered. The fewer the number of laws the better. In order to avoid lawyer´s attempt at circumventing laws and blurring the truth (a practice QUITE common in today´s legal system): everyone over the age 18 will have the obligation represent himself in court.

3. Pleasure as the only and principal source of human happiness: be this pleasure of a spiritual or mundane nature. This pleasure should never come at the expense of suffering (own/another´s), produce excesive fatigue or be followed withdrawal symptoms. Maintaining a healthly, physical and mental balance is considered the greatest of all pleasures.

4. Yes to Euthanasia: Eutasiania is acceptable as long as it´s voluntary and only when the patient is no longer able to carry out his vital functions. Not only is it viable alternative, but it´s considered an honorable death for those seeking to avoid living a life of torment for themselves and their loved ones.

5. Seven Supreme Rulers: elections are to be held anually and two of the ¨rulers¨ are local gobernors, who switch every week. (Instead of two changing rulers, I propose two ¨rulers¨ of a racial minority). This reduction of the political system would truly help reduce the burocratic/political bickering that dominates the politics of today. There are still of course regional elections and governors in charge of the need of their locality.

Thomas More (1478-1538)

6. Pre-Marriage ¨Peep Show¨ and Age Limit: Thomas More states that the age limit for marriage should be 18 for women and 21 for men. This might seem rash, but taking into account the actual high porcentage of divorces; establishing a 21 year uni-sex marriage limit might be good idea after all. Also, More proposes that before the wedding is pronounced, couples should be allowed to see  each other nude during a brief one minute ceremony. This is done in order to avoid traps or unpleasant after-marriage revelations. So sex or no sex, one should at least get a preview of your companion´s nude body before the wedding.

7. Forced Social Labor for Criminals: Thomas More proposes death for grave crimes (first-degree murder/rape…), and enslavement (forced social service) for the rest of crimes. Forced social service in which ¨slaves¨ that present good conduct and behavior are rewarded back with their freedom and those ¨slaves¨ that commit another crime or escape while serving time are killed. I propose replacing the ¨killing¨ part with perpetual arrest. Such measures will greatly discourage ANY kind of crime.

8. Religious tolerance: the belief that in the end we all worship or seek to obtain closer access to the same God. The religious beliefs of all others are to be respected. (atheists included, More said, even if he himself found their logic irrational/despicable). Those who incite violence through religion, and can´t be dissuaded, are arrested as criminals.

9. New Type of Confession: of all the catholic sacraments this is the one whose fundations on the Scriptures is the most shaky and dubious. Thomas More proposes that a real, pure confession should be made by kneeling in front of the person wronged and pleading for the forgiveness of the sin commited.

10. Future Buildings with a minimun three floor height: the future is in building up, not sideways. This way we help to better preserve our natural resources, drainage areas and ecosystems (forests, prairies…)

Human Fraternity Above all Else

Without a doubt, Thomas More was a visionary man with ideas way ahead of his time. He believed that nature invited all mortals to mutually help one another in the search of a happier life. Humans should be able to look at each other as brothers and be able to put aside all religious, political or social differences. (More himself didn´t believe money should exist)

I quote from his book: What shall I think of the rich men who exploit the poor daily? In reality they get away with it, not through their own squemes, but through the protection of our own laws. [… ] I see the sprouting republics of today – God forgive me – like a group of rich people who seek, in the shadows and in the name of the republic, only their own benefit. [ … ] When the rich manage set these social traps in the name of all, their own and that of the poor people, they pass on to become respectable laws.

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Special thanks to those loyal readers that´ have helped me reach the 1000 visit mark. You are the reason I write.

If you have ideas or topics for future posts, be sure to share them in the comment´s section.

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10 Small Things that made a Big Impact

The following is a list of 10 innovations, laws and inventions that changed everyday living forever.

They appear in order of importance, with 1 being the most influential.

10th Place: The Abundant Seas of Trash

The wastelands of the future

There was a time where the garbage man didn’t pass in front of your house, when it wasnt necessary to use plastics trash bags, where everything that was thrown to the earth would decompose and give way to new life. Sadly those times are quickly to coming to an end. With the beginning of the Industrial Revoulution in the 1800’s the amount of synthetic products sored to unpredecented heights. Then came the invention of tin cans, and more importantly the almost-indestructible “plastic”. Just take a look at your supermarket – nearly  70%  of the products there have some sort of plastic around or in them. If the 60,000,000 american families synthetic trash production is enormous, imagine the worldwide production.

Decomposition rates:

plastic bag: 20 years

plastic cup: 250 years.

plastic plate: 400 years.

thicker plastic products: 1000’s of years

9th Place: The Pocket-size Musician

Guess what God sent Jesus on his Birthday

Music has been the passion and profession of billions across history. A melody to a crying baby, a dedication to a loved one, a cure to our every day problems… the list goes on and on. Music has had as much impact in today’s society as it did back in ancient times. Platon states that his master Socrates repitedly had a dream that told him “Oh Socrates, work on composing music”. You see, Socrates believed that there was only two pure things in life: the soul and harmony – and accordingly he argued “that music was pure harmony”. Such harmony has been recorded over the last 123 years into millions of songs and melodies. Imagine the power to reproduce any music any where any time… that is the power of the MP3.

When was the last time you went for a run or travelled by air or walked through the city without an Ipod?

Might be while ago for a growing number of people in our society. Music relaxes you, makes you happy, inspires you. So it is no wonder that more and more people decide to spend their moments of solitude listening to their Mp3’s. Listening to music sparks sweet moments of tranquility where you leave all  worries behind and you are able to only focus on the present. Next time you walk through the city or university try pay attention to the percentage of people listening to their Mp3’s. The results might surprise you.

8th Place: The Unnatural Act of “holding it in”

Good Thing Big Daddy Wasn't rolled in Spain

Yep, cause the price for peeing in a public space or park is worth 250 euros in most European countries. Kind of crazy that a couple hundred years ago one could pee anywhere he wanted: from a bush in the side of the road all the way to the dark corridors of french palace of Versaille. Anywhere was a possiblity as long as one did it discreetly.

But in our society, evolution and social changes have marked certain places where the current human “should” liberate his urges. This being capable of driving a person insane at moments when one can’t find a marked zone. This rather “recent” social norm has impacted human behavior  to such a point that there are people who rather pee themselves than pee in public places.

Good thing “marked zones” exist though  because otherwise the magnitude of bad odor and bacteria would make living in giant metropolis impossible. The only problem is that… We all get emergencies people. I personally find that getting charged 250 euros (350 dollars) is a bit outrageous. Next time you pee in public space, try not to do a victory dance afterwards. = )

The rest of the countdown will be published weekly starting this next Friday 20th, August.

Till then… have a good day!!

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