Category Archives: popular culture


On the way to a conference last week, I was faced with a more or less challenging situation: an intense dialogue among a few colleagues about the significance of different cultures in world history and development.  This is a complex topic and it’s hard to make simple conclusions on the matter.  I want to write about this experience though, not because I am after advertising or defending a particular nation or want to offend others.  This is simply my way of alleviating pain after hearing highly ignorant and uneducated remarks by supposedly educated individuals in the United States.


I was faced with the question of “who contributed the most to our history” or “whose work we should look for when studying the history of art, philosophy, poetry, architecture, literature, and so on.”

I have often noticed that Europe stands out in the American version of history in many different fields.  For example, I happened to take introductory courses to political philosophy and architecture history at Cornell University as an undergraduate student.  I can confidently say that the majority of topics covered were related to Rome and Greece and some times Great Britain. I, like many other students, left our class thinking that these concepts were first introduced by these nations only and others were mostly followers.  Plato’s Republic was introduced to us as a book that marked the beginning of philosophy and political dialogue and such ideas seemed to begin in a society where thinking and logic were encouraged for the first time. Democracy was shown to be the most mesmerizing concept in a world of chaos. We were introduced to every famous architectural piece in Europe and briefly reviewed a few others (i.e. Ancient Egypt, Japan, and India) in the last couple weeks of the class.  Even specialized courses tend to be biased and negative towards eastern nations, following the language used in ancient Greek historical records.  


I was faced with the same dilemma in the car last week. 


Cyrus’ Cylinder: Considered as History’s First Declaration of Human Rights
in Ancient Times is today displayed at the British Museum.
©British Museum, London


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Filed under Africa, America, art, culture, development, India, Iran, lessons, literature, poetry, popular culture, sociology, traditions, War

baby with 2 faces

I was speechless when I read the news.  I only hope this baby’s parents will allow doctors to check her internal organs and make sure surgery is not needed for her health.  It is interesting how different communities look at an event/outcome from different angles based on old beliefs/traditions and that an extremely negative situation in one society may be viewed as a blessing in another society. 


12:24 PM CDT, April 8, 2008


SAINI SUNPURA, India – A baby with two faces was born in a northern Indian village, where she is doing well and is being worshipped as the reincarnation of a Hindu goddess, her father said Tuesday.The baby, Lali, apparently has an extremely rare condition known as craniofacial duplication, where a single head has two faces. All of Lali’s facial features are duplicated except for her ears–she has two. Otherwise, she has two noses, two pairs of lips and two pairs of eyes.

“My daughter is fine–like any other child,” said Vinod Singh, 23, a poor farm worker.
Lali has caused a sensation in the dusty village of Saini Sunpura, 25 miles east of New Delhi. When she left the hospital, eight hours after a normal delivery on March 11, she was swarmed by villagers, said Sabir Ali, the director of Saifi Hospital.

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Filed under culture, India, popular culture, traditions

deeper the roots

A few days ago I went into a Starbucks to get something hot to drink and do some studying.  As I sat down with my hot water with pear & ginger teabag (it shouldn’t deserve to be called ‘tea’) at a small table next to a window, I glanced around the store.  Every store is the same.  The barista was writing about the latest drink special on a chalkboard and I thought, “I bet someone even tells her exactly what to write”.  In a way it is amazing how they can unify all these stores all over the world; the magic of marketing.  But I’m not a Starbucks fan and for many reasons that could be it’s own post.  But as I was looking around, I noticed a new poster that read “THE DEEPER THE ROOTS, THE HIGHER THE TREE”.  Interesting.  Starbucks has tried to market themselves as a socially responsible company and has made an effort to give inspiration to their customers, whether it is from the quotes on the back of the paper cups or the CD’s and books sold in their store.  I suppose they should be given credit for at least trying, but maybe it’s so we don’t feel so bad after overpaying for a cup of coffee.  I found it to be a very interesting phrase and wonder what the origins are:  some marketing whiz in a back corner or another phrase that has been ripped off another culture?   Continue reading

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Filed under America, belonging, popular culture