12/30/16

Conversation Still Continues ...

...another response by LM along with my reply consisting of a mixture of humorous, serious and lighthearted comments.

LM:
Always a great scholar....

LV:
Thanks! (lol)

LM:
You're so deep in that academic bs [bachelor of science?] you've basically forgotten that you're doing nothing but disrespecting the honour of your own forefathers. 

LV:
Sorry for being “so deep” for you bro/sister. Actually no disrespect here, believe me.  I love and cherish my culture and heritage, hence our forefathers.  Conversely, if you’re really serious and adamant about flaunting your honor/respect for our forefathers, then you should be well-informed about a particular “prophecy” involving Malietoa when he was told to “tali i lagi [sona] malo”.  Basically “to look to the heavens for a form of government”. That was basically referring to the coming of the Christian missionaries who represent the institution you have been attacking and assailing.  That’s a good example of what I mean by being open-minded - and being wise and learned.  What that very “prophecy” means is that the path of your so-called  “conniving imperialist invaders” will eventually cross with our path as Samoans.  And therefore, who we are today and the type of society we have are results of some type of plan - not happenstance. In other words, you need to understand that in the grand scheme of things, we were not meant to live in complete isolation.That being said, however, we still need to understand how to separate the message from the messengers.   Incidentally, your worldview seems very narrow and shallow - not wide and deep.

LM:
You haven't presented anything new as well, this is just typical Victorian era writing style, full of grandiosity and downright xenophobic and condescending. If you honestly have an open mind then you would probably see things different, so far you're just following the crowd like a typical freshman. 

LV:
Well how about that new thing above (re: Malietoa), if you haven’t deduced a lot of other new things I’ve already presented?  By the way, me, xenophobic?  Let’s see, xenophobia is a dislike of or prejudice against people from other countries. So now you know who the xenophobic one is.  And while you’re the xenophobe, doing your xenophobic thing, I’m wowing - not following - the crowd, because I’m fresh! ... Man! ..hahaa.

LM:
You need to understand that I'm exercising "va fealoa'i" by defending the honour of our forefathers which you blissfully called "savages", is that your version of "perspective" or shall we call that 'ignorant'? The difference between you and me then is that I am prepared to see things from a different perspective while you're more than happy to follow century old prejudices which have no more credibility in this modern era.

LV:
Enough of your “va fealoa’i” fixation. As I said “va fealoa’i” is universal except for those who live the law of the jungle - survival of the fittest. If you’re really able to “see things from a different perspective”, as you said, then it’s time you wake up and see/smell the new iphone, the jet fuel, the keyboard you’re using to type your superficial responses, etc. Oh, did you really say the word “modern era”? Do you believe in such a thing? What constitutes a “modern era” for you?  You don’t have to answer that or you’ll experience an epiphany and be transposed into it (modern era).  And here I was thinking that  you were still living on Nuusafe’e as a savage and hermit.  Welcome to the modern era anyhow!

LM:
For the record, nobody is accusing or vilifying anyone, what I’ve presented are 'facts' something you should consider when writing your next academic essay. 

LV
And for the record too, I found this in your comments: “our forefathers suffered terribly from deceptions and were never prepared for the subtle destruction of our way of life by the conniving imperialist invaders.”  That is an accusation and vilification.  For your information, vilification is when you speak ill of, or slander someone.  And that’s a fact.  Speaking of facts, you seem to have this obsession with “facts”.  Well let me help you out on that. Facts, as a matter of fact, can be very useful, but can also be harmful.  For example, there are some facts about you that would help you and those that would also hurt you.  A double-edged sword, if you will. Yes, some of the “facts” you presented have actually come back to bite you in your facthive  As for the academic essay, I’ve abandoned that; I’ve come down a few notches to your level so that you can/will understand. And that’s a fact! (grin). 

LM:
I'm glad that you have time to research the meaning of "utopia", in my opinion the only place you will find perfection or utopia can only be Heaven. Well the only person that associated "va fealoa'i" and "utopia" is you, I see no evidence of anybody else making that mistake. So which village and itumalo was your lauded “Cleisthenes” from? Ahh I see, he’s a Greek philosopher meddling in other people’s business.

LV:
Yes it was a major research on the meaning of “utopia” - it took me a nanosecond. Just so you know, I had to quote the source for academic reasons, otherwise it’s intuition for me. For your benefit, Cleisthenes is to Democracy as Sir Thomas More is to Utopia.
Utopia and Va Fealoa’i (Mutual Respect) - I still can’t believe you would reject something that is understood using common sense, at the very least.  This goes to reveal a lot about your need of much learning, brother/sister.  Well, since you asked, let me give just a couple of quotes for evidence:

“According to Brennan, the five principles which he believes are necessary to form an ideal utopian society include voluntary community, mutual respect, reciprocity, social-justice and beneficence....”

“Utopia is a place where ... systems nurture the mutual respect and admiration of each other....”

Need more evidence? There’s thousands of such online, whether referring to More’s “Utopia” or experiments on creating a utopia. Why do I have a feeling that you do not quite understand what a “utopia” is?  I kahn’t buuhleaaave it!

LM
In order to move forward we need to acknowledge the past and accept the facts. Our forefathers were no scholars so they were duped into accepting democracy, I don’t know about you but that’s injustice if you ask me.

LV:
Our forefathers were duped?  No scholars? Really?  Do you know what you’re saying? You’re actually saying our forefathers, those who accepted our modern day (yes, modern, dude) government and independence, are not smart. You have just maligned, insulted and disrespected the members of the 1960 Constitutional Convention and all the founding fathers of our present form of government. Now you’re guilty of the very thing of which you accused me - disrespecting our forefathers.  It’s not injustice, but foresight on the part of the forefathers accepting democracy, and it’s ignorance on yours for saying they were duped. 

LM:
For your information, Fa’asamoa gave the Samoans of old equal opportunities and there were no rich or poor people, how about that foreign system you gleefully advocate? 

LV:
And for your information, you just told an egregious lie. 
Why is it that women are just now being given “equal opportunities”?  Maybe because they never had them to begin with?  And why was/is there a huge discrepancy in the ratio of male matais versus female ones?  Maybe because of the “not so equal opportunities” of the past?
Why was it that only matai were able to vote? Etc., etc., etc. Democracy is the key that opened the door to these opportunities, I guess. 

LM:
You made an assumption about an interrelationship between state and government, yet you could not really explain the role of church in Democracy. 

LV: 
Simple. The church’s role in a democracy is to be the source, provider and sponsor of morality.  And you don’t know that?  Anyway, it’s great conversing with you my friend. If I were you I would not respond to this, or you would be digging a deeper hole for yourself. 

Manuia le Tausaga Fou!

12/28/16

The Conversation Continues ...

So another interlocutor responded to my comments (re: previous “palagi” blog post) in the Samoa Observer. I’ve responded using the dialogue format for context, easy reading/reference and understanding. I submitted the original to the Observer but have since updated and added a few expounding points (this copy).  I’m using the respondent's initials (LM) along with mine (LV) here.

****************************************
LM: 
We have to remember that Democracy was an introduced system which was forced upon the people by imperialist invaders who were basically looking for riches to blunder [sic] from unsuspecting peace loving indigenous people around the world. Just like sexually transmitted diseases and influenza, our forefathers suffered terribly from deceptions and were never prepared for the subtle destruction of our way of life by the conniving imperialist invaders.

LV:
First, let’s start with a familiar academic/scholastic suggestion: Perspective. Perspective. Perspective. You seem to dwell unbendingly on the plunders and pillages of the papalagi (foreigners/”white man”). Your diction is one of accusation and vilification and therefore you’re slow to show a little open-mindedness and tolerance. You sound quite vengeful and resentful - if not patronizing.  Of course the so-called invaders with their three G’s (Glory, Gospel and Gold) banner committed some atrocities and other sins, and I understand your apparent never-ending grudges and grievances; but are they enough to justify the life-long animosity that you’re harboring?  C’mon.  I’m sure there has to be some good that has come about as a result of these past “building blocks” as disturbing as they may have been.

LM:
Yes, we have our own ways of doing things - the Fa’asamoa. Whether it was head hunting or wars or chasing red men out of Samoa, every event in history was basically a building block or “stages of development” or “evolution pattern” you allude to that defines our culture and society and our identity as Samoans.

LV:
True. Sometimes even bad experiences and events can contribute favorably to defining one’s culture and society as you said.  However, in the case of your far-flung positions, you need to be careful about using those events exclusively to spite the papalagi since you are bordering on, if not actively, advocating insularism, isolationism and ethnocentrism in the process.  All of them, in this day and age are feckless, vacuous and shortsighted.  Now, since we both agree on the “evolutionary” patterns of society, what, therefore, according to your seemingly informed historical prognostication, would have been an alternative and/or better path for Samoa’s evolution and development, sans the papalagi experience?  Or you would not want anything to do with the “conniving imperialist invaders”?

LM:
I think it’s very unfair to postulate that “va fealoa’i” can be equated to utopia because that is far from the Truth. Va fealoa’i is simply “Respect” and in a hierarchal[sic] indigenous culture like our culture, maintaining social order, social status and honour can only be achieved with “va fealoa’i” Our forefathers were never warmongers or blood thirsty savages as you painted but they only resort to war as a last resort to decide pressing issues (paramount chief) - they were noble warriors – not “noble savages”. European explorers/invaders of the last century use the term “savages” to describe conquered indigenous people all over the world.

LV:
Unless you’re trying to assign a radical or rudimentary  meaning to “utopia” other than its basic one of “a place of ideal perfection especially in laws, government, and social conditions,” according to Merriam-Webster, you simply cannot dissociate respect (va fealoa’i) from utopia. Respect has to be a key and binding value for those living in harmony in ideal/utopian social and other relationships. Moreover, “va fealoa’i” is a Samoan word, but the concept is universal and Christian, entrenched in the “do unto others ...” canon.  As I said, the flaw that you’re perpetrating is painting Samoa of the pre-contact years with a broad brush of bliss and blessedness. Inasmuch as I’d like to join with you in putting our pre-contact ancestors on your pedestal of “civilized”peace loving and noble warriors, I cannot - and will not. They still lacked many of the things that would have qualified them as equals of their European counterparts in terms of civilized culture. You’d have to swallow your pride and accept that. For example, one of the most important signs and characteristics of a civilized and advanced culture and society is a written language. Our ancestors did not have one; it was introduced. And that’s just one example.

LM:
It was a psychological fix to boost their egos but our ancestors were brilliant navigators and they navigate the sea by reading the stars, not the map so how can our ancestors be savages then?
Another thing worth noting is that in our culture, we never refer to the old days as the "dark days" or “dark ages” This is a flawed and perplexing stratagem by the Church to insinuate their superiority over indigenous cultures. If we are living in the ‘light ages’ why is the world still suffering savagery like the people of the so called “dark ages”?

LV:
Here’s a question, albeit slightly hypothetical: If the two cultures, Samoan and European, were left to separately and independently develop, by today, where do you think the Samoan culture/society would be in terms of advancement? We know where the European culture is, but what about the Samoan culture/society, again, without the fusion? Will we have already worn similar modern clothes of our own making or still wearing siapo and/or leaves?  Would we have already been communicating using similar technologies (phones, emails, texting, etc.) or are we still using drums to send messages?  I am very curious as to how different your own “palagi-less” version of Samoa than what it is today?  Actually, on a second thought, the overall query is not hypothetical - slightly or substantially.  Because we have a modern day example of societies that have been left on their own for thousands of years without outside influence.  I’m talking about the tribes in the jungles of the Amazon that even predate Samoan society by thousands of years.  You seem an informed enough person to know about these tribes. So perhaps the more poignant and stimulating question is: Today, would you rather live like the Amazon tribes or in modern day Samoa?  I hope you see my point because based on your obvious extreme anti-imperialistic positions, you would definitely opt for the former, I’m sure.

As for your denial of “aso o le pogisa” (dark days) reference by the Samoans, I'm sorry but that goes to show your lack of a general understanding about Samoa and Samoans.  If you're a true genuine Samoan, especially a Samoan Christian, then you would know that such a reference does exist.  You should therefore understand the meaning and godless connotation of these words "faapaupau", "pogisa", "tu faanu'u po", "ua ao Samoa", etc. The main reference and difference of course is Jesus Christ being the truth and the light.  Why don’t you ask the Samoans about the role of Jesus Christ in their lives?  And need I remind you that Jesus Christ was introduced by those conniving imperialist invaders?  Again, with your anti-palagi spiel, it’s all a matter of perspective as in one familiar analogy of a person looking at a rose bush, and whether he/she is focusing on the beauty of the flowers or the menace of the thorns. In our case, while you’re dwelling on the thorns and how menacing they are, I’m imbibing the fragrance and beauty of the flowers.  So in practical terms, while you’re angry and pestered by the complicity and connivance of the papalagi, I’m grateful for their constructive contributions and positive influence, and all the while still profoundly appreciative of my Samoan roots, mind you.

LM:
Fa’asamoa is a perfect system in its own environment, it was a system designed by the Samoans for Samoans and so was democracy to the Greeks. The issue with Democracy in Samoa is that, the population needs to be highly educated for them to understand the many complex facets of the system. With Fa'asamoa not completely decimated by the introduced system, the few intellectuals in government are wittingly traversing the blurred boundaries of Fa'asamoa and Democracy/Church to get away with 'dishonesty violations' committed under Democracy laws (OPC Report 2010).

LV:
I agree that the faa-Samoa is perfect in its own environment, but you need to remember that the environment keeps changing. Samoa of the 21st century is not conducive to the application of the faa-Samoa of the 1800's.  In fact the faa-Samoa of the 1800's is not the same as the faa-Samoa of the last fifty years. In other words, faa-Samoa can be relative and should be defined within a specific time backdrop for it to be intelligible.  As for democracy, it - in its simplest, direct and pure form - does not necessarily need a highly educated population as you said. In fact, Samoa is perhaps the ideal place for "pure" democracy. According to Cleisthenes and the Greeks, democracy works better, easier and more effectively in a small monistic and homogeneous society, like Samoa, compared to a country like America.  Therefore, if our system of government allows, we can easily elect our PM through a direct popular vote in a matter of minutes because of the smallness of area and population, and especially with the aid of modern technology.

LM:
If there’s an interrelationship between state and church under the watchful eyes of Democracy, then what exactly is the role of Church in Democracy and when exactly should they come into the big picture?

LV:
You have to understand the history of the church and politics; hence church and state - specifically the politicization of religion, historically and in modern times.  Remember that there was only the church throughout much of history and then it got politicized. Democracy guarantees certain freedoms one of which is the freedom of religion (church).  What is the role of religion in a democracy, you ask?  Well, religion (the church) is the source of morality in a democracy.  And that is extremely important.  Ironically and interestingly Samoa is going to be a stimulating case study which may provide more answers for your question. As you may have read recently (here) that the government will now amend the Constitution to provide for a state religion (Christianity), and so you will certainly be edified and kept apprised. And maybe surprised.

Finally, don’t get me wrong, I love and treasure my Samoan culture and heritage.  I’m “proud” of them. At the same time, I’m not one to dwell in the past especially on misdeeds, offenses or ill-treatment. Instead I press forward with hope and optimism - living, enjoying and feeling grateful for life’s offerings.  And as I said in another response of mine, the issues are broad and need to be examined, analyzed and weighed within their totality. An open-minded, educated and balanced perspective, perspective, perspective, I’m convinced, is always the better approach.  

E tatau lava ona fetalaa’i ma fefulifulia’i - ae le o le taotasi ma faauliulito - o manatu i mataupu ogaoga ma le lavelave e pei ona iai nei i le laulau o soalaupulega ma faafaletuiga. 

Sincerely and Open-mindedly!

12/22/16

Those Damn Palagi ("white man"). Huh?

I was reading this column in the Samoa Observer (excerpts below), to which some have responded in support of it.  It was written as a "tribute" to the Human Rights Day celebration.  There is definitely an underlying anti-foreigners/papalagi and somewhat extreme tone to the article - the typical colonial mentality that natives and indigenous people have been exploited and corrupted by the “white man”.  I grew up in Samoa at the time this viewpoint was prevalent.  I was somewhat enticed by it though not completely converted to the idea. Not that I’m fia-palagi (wannabe white), or anything, but the broad issue needs to be examined, analyzed and weighed within its totality.  An open-minded, educated and balanced perspective, I’m convinced, is always the better approach.

Excerpts: 
Human Rights Day ...presents us, tagata Samoa, with an opportunity to reflect on the state of our own human rights as indigenous people and host culture.
To understand our present, as an indigenous people and as a sovereign indigenous nation, we have to look into our past in terms of our relationship with foreign interests.
 ... the papalagi did more than co-exist with our ancestors,... they wanted our ancestors, (tagata Samoa) to be like them (papalagi). In spite of the alofa and much hospitality extended to them, papalagi still maintained, our ancestors were less of human beings, uncivilized, “noble savages” and to a large extent a burden upon which they, only they, (the white man) have the divine and moral obligation to transform and civilize. This was the primary purpose of Christian missionary work since the arrival of Christianity in 1830.
Foreign interests and his twin brother foreign investors are direct descendants of Christianity.  [Our ancestors’] resilience and dignity had persevered in the face of lies of assimilation by Christian churches.
 ...maintaining the va fealoa’i in our Samoan cultural heritage offers us genuine peace and joy in love (alofa), forgiveness (faamagalo) and humility (agamalu/loto maualalo), integrity (tausi mamalu) and reciprocity (osi aiga). These are divine indigenous Samoan values inherent in our indigenous rights as indigenous people.
____________________________________
My Comments:

Interesting column/opinion and responses.  There’s one word that is conspicuously, hence surprisingly, missing from the discussion, much to the chagrin of any political, religious and human rights apologist.  The word is “democracy”. Democracy is the umbrella under which  issues like state, church and human rights/freedoms merge especially when discussed within the context of their collective inter-relationships.

The opinion by Mr. Ale seems to be underpinned by anti-imperialism sentiments of the past - and of the present, albeit more subdued and suppressed.

Societies, in general, go through phases and stages of development. They all start with some type of primitive stage (tribe, clan, village, etc) often living under natural laws.  Status-based societies often emerge and social and political classes/ hierarchies are naturally formed, and sometimes along gender lines. Soon a social contract brings people together and form governments mainly for protection and preservation. This is the evolution pattern into which we can fit Samoa.

Democracy, in one of its ideal roles and functions, is to quash the hierarchical and status-based groups.  And this is where we find the dilemma and conundrum that Samoa faces today. Samoa is still heavily stratified and status-based, and that makes her somewhat antagonistic toward democratic reforms. Sometimes we get indecisive and ambivalent and so we togi le moa ae u’u le ‘afa (let go of the chicken but still hold onto the string).  We embrace new democratic ideals, but still yearn for our “divine indigenous values and rights”. We even become like the Israelites of old in believing that they were better off in Egypt than in the wilderness.  Sometimes, as a country, we are meant to be in a “wilderness” - a metaphor for reform, renewal and recommitment.  Some have even proposed a cultural democracy as a solution and compromise.  Effectively, cultural democracy may very well be the phase where Samoa is presently.

But we also need to remember that things have not always been “divine” and dandy in bygone times, as posited.  There wasn’t always a “va fealoa’i” and/or “paradisal” utopian living before the papalagi.  We had our own culture of inter/intra violence.  Headhunting, warfare among tribes and families (as noble savages) were common. Indeed, I firmly believe that some of the lofty and virtuous aspects of our “culture” that we’re touting were also heavily influenced by foreign forces, especially Christianity.  In fact many of the "indigenous values" listed in the last paragraph are universal, if not patently Christian, and not exclusively Samoan either. Moreover, we Samoans often refer to pre-missionary years as “aso o le pogisa” (“dark days”- our own version of the “dark ages”) and “faapaupau” (savagery).  And so we need to have some contextual time references when referring and talking about culture, otherwise we fall into the trap of mistakenly painting the whole pre-papalagi times with a broad brush of bliss and blessedness.  The column seems to have this nuance and overtone.

Democracy, as we all know, is not perfect, but it’s “perfect” for us today.  Winston Churchill puts it best when he said that Democracy is the worst form of government except for all those that have been tried. So let’s not bully the modern state and church and incriminate the papalagi in a close-minded fashion. I’m sure the institutions, in and of themselves, are good with honorable objectives and goals but maybe the people running them are the real “noble savages” (pun strongly intended).  That’s where our real focus should be.

Lastly, the main difference between “indigenous human rights” and modern human rights is that the former are more about the rights of the group/community while the latter have more to do with rights of the individual.  Ponder that for whatever it is worth in the context of the column, since there seems to be a conflation of the two in there.

Faafetai

Almost Christmas II

... over this past weekend Dearie and daughters were putting up some final Christmas ornamentation for our home.






















12/15/16

12/11/16

Maui Needs to Maui

Yes the title is correct; it’s not supposed to read “Maui Needs to [be] Maui” (be himself), as some may assume. I’ll explain later.

Based on the so-called hero’s journey model, and therefore according to movie and literature
archetypes, the hero/protagonist is Moana, the mentor is Maui, Tala is the herald, Heihei is the trickster, the Kakamora (three coconuts) as threshold guardians, Tamatoa as the shapeshifter/threshold guardian, and Te Ka as the antagonist/villain/threshold guardian.

Moana and Maui - foils
So far, most Polynesians who don’t seem to like Moana, the movie, are critical of - and repulsed by - Maui, and how he is depicted and portrayed as a Polynesian demigod, let alone a “Polynesian male” (quotes being used purposely). And so what’s their beef, you ask?  Well, they say Maui is not buff, instead he’s beefy/bulky, obese, buffoonish and a blunderer. Baloney, some of them say. And their main outcry and wish is that “Maui needs to maui.”

Now let me digress, if not to address and express.

First of all, Maui (proper noun/name) is pronounced “Muh-wee” ( not “Mow- wee”)  with a short /a/ in the Polynesian vowel pronunciation. The second “maui” (verb) is pronounced “mah-oo-ee”, (with a long /a/) which, in Samoan,  means “shrink” or “deflate”.  A receding tide, a deflated balloon and a shrinking lump or stomach all are said to “maui”, hence “Maui needs to maui” is, simply, “Maui needs to shrink”. Call it a semantic coincidence or a namesake blooper, yet the pair still has a nice ring to it with, hopefully, a profound and deep twist in the context of this review. Anyhow, let’s see if we can deflate the debate.

If I were to grant the Maui critics and disparagers some consolation in their opposition, it would have to be the disproportion and variance between the godly Maui of the myths versus the ungodly Maui of the movie - again, not necessarily in the sense or context of Maui’s physical size.

Traditionally, according to Polynesian myths, Maui is a god/demigod, or a “half-god”. He is quite versatile in his traditional roles.  He is associated with fighting or stealing fire, snaring the sun, fishing up islands, conquering volcanoes, setting off earthquakes, etc.  He is also associated  with bird life, not migratory or sea birds, but a unique colorful bird into which he changes sometimes - as in the movie. Indeed, Maui changing into a bird, and other forms, therefore, is not a Disney creation/innovation. The transformation is original. Maui is similar to Thor, Hercules and other big screen “gods”. Physically, Maui is, more often than not, a young adult, strong, sculpted, handsome and talented, the ideal male archetype. This is the Maui many Polynesians want to see.

Although I too would love to see a similar portrayal, I’m convinced, however, that it’s by design by the film-makers that Maui is portrayed the way he is in the movie - notably for the sake of Moana, the character and the movie.

In the movie, Maui is a quasi omnipotent character. Besides being a mentor, he is easily a herald, shapeshifter, threshold guardian, and a trickster as well.

But Maui also plays perhaps a much more important and key, yet subtle, role. He is a foil to Moana. (In fiction, a foil is a character who contrasts with another character (usually the protagonist) in order to highlight particular qualities of the other character ~ Wikipedia)  So Maui in Moana is NOT necessarily Maui the Polynesian demigod, in other words.  His main role is to make Moana look good (pun intended).

If Maui in the movie is like Maui the demigod in the myths, then Moana will be a different movie.  It will not be about Moana but about Maui. Remember that the movie name is “Moana” not “Maui”. It’s all about Moana. If Maui is to be portrayed as his true original self, then Moana will be dwarfed, marginalized and overshadowed.  Maui will fight every battle and overcome all challenges for Moana.  He’s a god, for heaven’s sake. As a result Moana will not be challenged and tested according to the hero’s journey blueprint.  Moana will not be Moana. If you inflate Maui, you deflate Moana, in other words. Maui is the one that needs to maui (deflate/shrink).

Throughout the movie we don’t see Maui upstaging Moana. Moana has the upper hand, so to speak, even as a protege of Maui. And lest we forget, she’s the one, not Maui, who returns Te Fiti’s heart, although Maui is the one who steals it to begin with. As a true demigod, in an ideal storyline and script, Maui is supposed to and quite capable of returning the heart, but he doesn’t. Here, Maui is again maui and Moana magnified.

In line with the foil literary device, we have Maui the man versus Moana the woman. Maui the god versus Moana the mortal. Maui relying externally on his fishhook for strength and power, versus Moana as being inwardly courageous, resourceful and mostly “self taught”.  Maui's arrogance versus Moana's confidence. Maui doing something bad (stealing the heart) versus Moana doing good in returning it. The makers of the movie, I think, want us to identify more with Moana the mortal, not Maui. Men, or Polynesian men for that matter, should not try to identify with Maui either - physically or otherwise.  He comes across as having a typical man’s ego, one that is occasionally deflated in the movie. He’s arrogant and condescending to Moana (therefore to women? ...hmm).  Actually though he is a god, powerful and strong, Moana is definitely the stronger, persistent, vigilant, confident and more tenacious of the two.

When Maui descends to Tamatoa’s abode (Pulotu/Hades) to retrieve his fishhook, he thinks he can do it alone until he finds out that he needs Moana’s help.  In fact he is surprised that Moana is even able to follow him into the underworld. I’m sure, for Maui, as they both return and surface back to the boat, seawater is easier to swallow than his pride. During much of the subsequent and final battle with Te Ka, Maui is conspicuously absent and even more dependent on his fishhook. Conversely, Moana fights Te Ka using her own skills, resourcefulness and wits.  Again, Maui shrinks while Moana shines.

Moreover, the legendary Maui is a young stud and a heartthrob. Okay, stop! Hold that image. That’s the very image that most Polys want Maui to be. But that’s even more problematic too. Say that we put that same sexy and sculpted Maui right next to Moana. (I hope you know where I’m going with this.) And Bingo! We have Maui and Moana, a Polynesian Ken and Barbie. And so now we have a whole new story, a whole new movie and something that is anything BUT Moana.  Disney doesn’t want that, and we don’t want that.  This is Moana’s moment, Maui will have to wait for his.

All in all, I think Maui in the movie is more a distorted but inflated hologram than his reputed god/demigod self.  If he is the latter, then at least one of his parents is a god (like Tagaloa, his father, in some versions of the myth), but according to the movie both his father and mother are mortals. And that makes him a mortal too, or just a wannabe god.  Either way, Muhwee mahooee!

Maui needs to shrink? He actually does, though not physically but in a profound and deep-as-the-moana sense. And so for those who do not like Maui portrayed as an obese guy, and want him to maui, physically, they would have to wait for "Maui: The Movie" which I’m sure Disney is/should be planning and in the mold of Hercules, Thor and others.  Then we will see the real Maui of the Polynesian myths. But Disney better hurry before The Rock shrinks.

Have a Maui Christmas! (as in "demi-divine").

11/30/16

Moana Review - Part II

Moana - the “New” Polynesian Woman
Image result for moana disney
“E Au le Ina’ilau a Tama’ita’i” (The women’s roles are just as, if not more, consequential...)

The expression aptly describes Moana’s accomplishment and victory.

The expression is derived from a Samoan legend that tells of a competition between an “aumaga” (untitled men) and “aualuma” (unmarried women) to thatch Sina’s house.  A “battle of the sexes” if you will. On the morning of the competition, the women woke up early and started thatching their assigned rows while the men were still sleeping apparently tired from the prior poula (night of fun and revelry).  When the men finally woke up, they found that the women had completed their task and part of the competition, and therefore had won. The moral is the consequentiality of the role of women. To me, this can be one of the messages/themes of Moana.

Moana, the movie, is all about women. Sorry men, you lose. Again. Well, hey (or is that “heihei”), the protagonist is Moana, for cackling out loud.  And if she’s not enough, the next two key consequential characters in the movie are also ...hmmm...women? Te Fiti and Tala.  Peck that, man!  Okay, chicken humor aside.

Moana, the woman, is the real “wayfinder” and a true trailblazer, breaking traditional barriers and stereotypes. At the end of the movie, the lone conch shell on the top of a tiered pile of rocks on the mountain sums it all up, symbolically at least. The rocks represent in rank and chronological order the past heroes and chiefs, who were apparently all men, who have made worthy contributions to Motunui and its people.  Some of them were mariners and famous seafarers who helped traverse and navigate the ocean using the stars to help find their way to new islands and new homes for their families. But the conch shell, which represents Moana, is an aberration. It represents the first woman worthy and qualified to be on the mountain with the male heroes of the island.  Moana earned her place by accomplishing a near impossible task of returning Te Fiti’s heart, and in turn restoring life to her parched moribund Motunui.

Moana represents a  modern woman - Polynesian woman. She has love for her people, which is the driving force and motivation to complete her mission of restoring Te Fiti’s heart.  During her quest, “Moana of Motunui” - not just Moana - becomes her motto and mantra, a reminder that she is not only part of something bigger, but she also has an obligation to her island and people.  And to accomplish this, including saving the island, she has to venture “beyond the reef”.  She has to give up her comfort zone in the seeming self sufficient, happy, carefree life on the paradisal Motunui.

In today's real life, Moana represents those “wayfinding” Polynesian women in Washington, in local governments on their respective island nations, lawyers, CEO’s, authors, poets, etc. Moana is also like Vaimasenu’u Zita Martel, who, in her own right, is a  pioneer woman mariner of Samoa’s longboats. Moreover, Moana is, and can be, the voice of her island people against the overfishing of their waters, threats of rising sea levels and other effects of climate change. And of course her war cry is: “The ocean is [our] friend”.  Island leaders should tap into and seize Moana’s moment  and start boosting the campaign using the above as the slogan. They need to start delivering the proverbial “heart” to those responsible for the “evil” of rising ocean levels, and reminding them that for most of our Polynesian people, the ocean is still their friend and a major source of their livelihood.  The very threat to their existence of the rising ocean levels can be eerily real.

Moana, as an individual, is a strong woman, though not necessarily in the physical sense.  She has more of the inner strength - courage, determination, drive, resolve, stamina (yes,  Trump), etc.  She is independent and mostly, in her own admission, “self taught”. Though hailed as being chosen and preordained, nothing is automatic and/or guaranteed. Moana still has to fight her battles and challenges to fulfill her calling. It’s true that she does get some help along the way, from her “friend” (ocean) and from others (Maui, Tala and Heihei), but the bulk of the opposition and adversity was overcome single-handedly by Moana herself.  The help of course is to keep her character grounded as a mere mortal versus the “godly attributes” of Maui.  But unlike Maui, whose main source of strength and power is from without (his fish hook), Moana’s strength, again, is from within. The main and critical stage of defeating the evil and fiery powers of Te Ka is the crossing of the channel.  And while Maui is conspicuously absent during that pivotal and decisive time, Moana is fighting it alone, mostly employing her own strength, skills and courage and with some centrifugal help of her “friend”.

And so although there have been prominent Polynesian women in the past - “shells among the rocks” - like Nafanua and Salamasina (Samoa), Queen Salote (Tonga) Liliuokalani (Hawaii) to name a few, Moana represents the modern Polynesian woman. She is a matai (chief), a politician, a lawyer, a doctor, judge, author, a professional athlete, and perhaps most importantly, according to the movie, a daughter of a chief.  OR, according to my LDS lingo, a “daughter of God, The Chief !”

Finally, it may be true that Moana is just a cartoon, as some people raucously and shallowly (pun intended) claim, but Moana also represents an Ideal.  And one cannot fully understand that, until he/she goes “beyond the reef”, to the moana (deep ocean).  In other words “beyond the cartoon level”.  The equivalent Samoan expression is to “lafo le upega i le loloto o le moana” (“cast the net into the deep ocean”) where there are bigger and better fishes.  Simply, go deeper to the “moana” in order to understand and appreciate Moana.

Next Up ... Maui, the wannabe god.

11/28/16

Moana Review - Part I

I have written a few pre-release position posts on Moana here in my blog, in case you didn’t know.  Now that the movie is out, it’s only fair and fitting that I write a review of it.  This review will have several parts so keep checking back for “more-ana”.

Before I get into the crux and meat of my review, let me issue a few acknowledgments and/or some disclaiming points.

First, Moana’s main appeal (emphasis on main) is better understood, hence appreciated, if the viewer has some profound connection and knowledge of Polynesian/island life and background - preferably raised and lived, at least for some time, there. I was born and raised in the islands (Samoa) and except for a few technical and artistic deviations, I am more satisfied than not with the storyline and island thematic aspects of the movie.  In other words, if you are a viewer and/or reviewer, especially of Polynesian descent, born and raised outside of Polynesia, you’ll be hard pressed to take an antithetical stance on the historical background and cultural particulars of the movie.

Second, references and representations of Polynesia in Moana favor Samoa more than other islands. To some, this may seem a bold and audacious claim, but I think I can effectively back it up by pointing out not just the visual elements but also cultural and other references. And I don’t think that it’s by chance that Samoa dominates most parts of the movie, since of the five main islands of Polynesia - Hawaii, Samoa, Tonga, New Zealand and Tahiti - the age-old traditions and “culture” of the region are still alive, lived and practiced more in Samoa than in any of her Poly sisters. (It’s a fact, sorry!) Disney, because of its commitment to cultural correctness in Moana, apparently was aware of this and acted (no pun intended) accordingly. (Re: Update at the end of post to back up what I've said here.)

Why do I need to point out the Samoa primacy?  Well because it’s helpful and advantageous to my review. Samoa is my specimen and case study in explaining Moana. My firsthand experiences and knowledge of Samoa augment and support my comments, analysis and critique.

This is a lengthy, though not necessarily a comprehensive review, therefore, I will divide it into parts. The review will deal more with the thematic, dramatic and cultural/historical aspects, and not so much the artistic and technical elements, unless absolutely necessary.

Moana’s storyline uses the typical hero’s journey template.  Basically this:
“A hero ventures forth from the world of common day into a region of supernatural wonder: fabulous forces are there encountered and a decisive victory is won: the hero comes back from this mysterious adventure with the power to bestow boons (blessings) on his fellow man.”
(Campbell, Joseph. The Hero with a Thousand Faces. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1949. p.23.)

A Cultural/Historical Background
Samoa's primordial belief in man (or woman, in this case) and nature being intrinsically linked and inseparable is sufficiently portrayed and rendered in the movie.

(Update - found this in one online article:
“[Moana’s] ending allows redemption of the baddie ‘in a way in keeping with the movie. There's a problem between man and nature, which ultimately gets resolved when man and nature come together.’" - John Musker, one of Moana’s directors.)

Moana which literally means “ocean” is a given eponymous and grafted link. The “ocean is my friend” is one of Moana’s refrains.  The scenes of Moana’s interactions with the ocean, occasionally being swallowed up, only to be restored back to life and reality are literal demonstrations of the “union” between her and nature. In the end, the shell, a product of the ocean, is Moana's proverbial statue in the museum of past heroes and chiefs on the mountain.

In Tala’s case, her stingray stunt and her reincarnation wish of being a stingray is not cursory or an inconsequential desire.  In fact her stingray tattoo is therefore more than a coincidence and an evidence of the kinship between nature and humans. Tala may actually be hinting at one of Samoa's maritime rituals called “taliga agaga” (spirit acceptance), which may still be practiced by some especially on the outlying islands. The ritual involves a person lost at sea and when his/her fate cannot be ascertained, the villagers would gather on the beach spreading a cloth (usually tapa cloth) and wait for the first sea creature to crawl or jump on it. The creature or object is then considered the reincarnated “spirit” of the dead and the people will then wrap it and bury it as if the person had been found, albeit in reincarnated form. So when Tala says that she wants to return as a stingray after she dies, she actually may be implying the "taliga agaga". (“Taliga Agaga” is a ritual I’m including in a novel I’m working on.)

Most importantly, Samoa’s story/legend of Creation (excerpts below) is apparently the source of some remarkable imagery and allusions in the movie. It actually provides for the backbone of Moana. According to the story/legend, Papa (Rock) and Ele’ele (Earth) represent a creative duo.  Respectively, Papa was the man and Ele’ele was the woman.  Papa is also referred to as heart, or seed-rock (fatu).
“Let the Spirit and the Heart and Will and Thought go on and join together inside the Man; and they joined together there and man became intelligent. And this was joined to the earth ('ele-ele'), and it was called Fatu-ma-le-‘Ele-‘ele, as a couple, Fatu the man, and ‘Ele-‘ele, the woman." (Journal of Polynesian Society).
“Fatu-ma-le-‘ele‘ele; 'seed-stone and earth.' Fatu is a word which, in various forms, is found in all Malaysia, Melanesia, and Polynesia, in the sense of 'hard,' 'anything hard,' 'the hard kernel or seed-stone of fruit.' .... Le ‘Ele‘ele is here regarded as a woman, who, by the ordinance (tofiga) of Tangaloa is united (fa‘a-tasi, 'joined,' lit. 'made-one') to Fatu, the completed man. Fatu is the seed-giving principle, and Le ‘Ele‘ele is the receptacle of the seed.” (Ibid. emphasis mine)

Image result for Moana Te Fiti
Te Fiti
In the movie, Te Fiti is the Ele’ele (Earth/Woman) and is the receptacle of the “fatu” or “seed-stone”, the stone that Moana was commissioned to return. Once the heart/seed-stone is returned, the result is an immediate restoration of life to the plants, vegetation, and everything on Motunui.  Meanwhile, Te Fiti, returns to being the “Ele’ele” (Earth) again, as she slowly morphs into a mountain, hence fulfilling her primordial role. The movie also makes repeated references to the heart of Te Fiti as having restorative and creative  powers, evidenced, again, in the renewal of life on Motunui.

Linguistically, heart, rock and seed amazingly all share a common Samoan meaning and translation of “fatu” - the essence of life.

The universal significance of the “heart” as being an instigator of goodness and virtue is inevitable and is demonstrated by the favorable life-giving effects of its return to Te Fiti, and contrasted well when she's without it, notably in her captor Te Ka's evil and destructive powers. The Tin Man of the Wizard of Oz, hollow and hard without a heart, hinges on the same theme.

Next Up: Moana - The New Polynesian Woman in "E Au le Ina'ilau a Tina".

Update: "Moana Directors say thank you Samoa" (Samoa Observer, 16 Dec 2016)


Speaking to the Samoa Observer, during a traditional Ava ceremony welcome and feast hosted by Conservation International and Samoa Voyaging Society, Ron Clements said they are ecstatic to be in Samoa.
“It feels great to be back in Samoa,” said Ron. “We were here for the first time five years ago, and this place was a huge huge inspiration to the movie. So it’s really wonderful to be in Samoa.”
“Samoa, as Ron said had a huge influence on our film and the way that we were welcomed by the people of Samoa made us fall in love and now we are back.”
Therefore they came and visited the different islands in the Pacific including Samoa to see and learn about the culture and history for their project.
They fell in love with the culture and they draw their inspirations mainly from what they saw and experienced.  “The culture is so alive here,” said Osnat. 
“In terms of the look of the characters, you know we went to both Melanesia and Polynesia in Fiji and all of that,” said John.
“We were trying to put together the faces from all the different islands of the Pacific, but around this area, we really felt so quintessentially Polynesian to us and felt like they have the beauty of the faces and features in the people and their gorgeous hair. 
However, they all agreed that the movie Moana was mainly influenced from Samoa. 
“We drew influences from all over the Pacific islands but the island of Motunui which is named in the film Motunui is kind of a mythical name but in our minds, that was here in Samoa around this area. And that’s kind of where Moana comes from.”


11/27/16

A Date with Moana

... pictures from our movie date to see Moana.  Stay tuned and check back for my REVIEW of the movie... coming sooooon!!  Thank You and You're Welcome! ...or in Havaii, "You're Velcome!"..LOL!!














And some pics from another beautiful family (groom) wedding this past week ...







11/18/16

Utah - The Best State for Business .... Again.

...according to Forbes. 

Ravell Call, Deseret News                                                                                      

"Forbes 11th annual Best States for Business list measures which states have the best business climates and are poised to succeed going forward. Leading the way for the third straight year is Utah, which also ranked on top between 2010 and 2012. Only Virginia in 2013 interrupted Utah’s reign this decade as the Best State for Business.
Utah’s growth prospects are strong in part because of a burgeoning tech sector. Venture capital investment was $1.5 billion combined in 2014 and 2015 compared to $635 million the two years prior. In April, PayPal co-founder and early Facebook investor Peter Thiel, along with Mitt Romney’s co-led venture fund Solamere Capital, announced plans to invest $100 million in Provo-based Vivint Smart Home. In a nod to its neighbor to the west and Utah’s ski terrain, the corridor connecting Ogden, Salt Lake City and Provo has been dubbed “Silicon Slopes.”
The state is home to a handful of “unicorns” like Domo Technologies, Insidesales.com, Pluralsight and Qualtrics. These privately-held firms, which boast VC investments that value the companies at more than $1 billion, can count on a deep pool of young, educated employees from schools like Brigham Young University and the University of Utah... tech stalwarts like eBay, Oracle, Microsoft and Twitter have also expanded operations in Utah in recent years."

Note: Utah was also recently ranked as the happiest state 2016!   Way to go Utaaaaaahhhh!

11/11/16

Trump an Outsider? Think Again!

Trump Campaigned Against Lobbyists, but Now They’re on His Transition Team
New York Times

WASHINGTON — President-elect Donald J. Trump, who campaigned against the corrupt power of special interests, is filling his transition team with some of the very sort of people who he has complained have too much clout in Washington: corporate consultants and lobbyists.

Jeffrey Eisenach, a consultant who has worked for years on behalf of Verizon and other telecommunications clients, is the head of the team that is helping to pick staff members at the Federal Communications Commission.

Michael Catanzaro, a lobbyist whose clients include Devon Energy and Encana Oil and Gas, holds the “energy independence” portfolio.

Michael Torrey, a lobbyist who runs a firm that has earned millions of dollars helping food industry players such as the American Beverage Association and the dairy giant Dean Foods, is helping set up the new team at the Department of Agriculture.

Mr. Trump was swept to power in large part by white working-class voters who responded to his vow to restore the voices of forgotten people, ones drowned out by big business and Wall Street. But in his transition to power, some of the most prominent voices will be those of advisers who come from the same industries for which they are being asked to help set the regulatory groundwork.

The president-elect’s spokeswoman, Hope Hicks, declined a request for comment, as did nearly a dozen corporate executives, consultants and lobbyists serving on his transition team, which was outlined in a list distributed widely in Washington on Thursday.

A number of the people on that list are well-established experts with no clear interest in helping private-sector clients. But to critics of Mr. Trump — both Democrats and Republicans — the inclusion of advisers with industry ties is a first sign that he may not follow through on all of his promises.

“This whole idea that he was an outsider and going to destroy the political establishment and drain the swamp were the lines of a con man, and guess what — he is being exposed as just that,” said Peter Wehner, who served in the administrations of Ronald Reagan and George Bush before becoming a speechwriter for George W. Bush. “He is failing the first test, and he should be held accountable for it.”
(emphasis mine)

11/9/16

Donald Trump is President!

Okay.  Where do we begin?  From the beginning or in medias res?  Hmmm...still not sure.

The story of this Presidential election and its protagonist - Trump - is one for the history books. Not as a fading anecdote. Not as a short chapter.  Not as a thin book.  But as in various voluminous archives. Trump has made more history - let alone in dramatic fashion -  than Hillary Clinton would have made had she been the first female President.

There are so many storylines, subplots and even sub-subplots to Trump’s run. From the get-go to the finish line, last night, I’m sure that more storylines are still being written. But there seemed to have been something ominously eerie and evil to the election. And why not?  It was a vote for “the lesser of the two evils” anyway.  It was almost unreal based on the natural order of things from beginning to end.

During the campaign, Trump has violated all the rules of American politics. He even breached etiquette of civility, decency and decorum - socially and politically.  He has besmirched minorities, belittled women, children and people with disabilities.  And amazingly, he was still “exonerated” and remained the only candidate still standing in the end.  He has defied all odds and also thumbed his nose at the media and others.  In short he has re-written the manual for future political candidates for public office.  He was even found bragging about his alleged and audacious sexual exploits of women and girls.  Still, again, in the end, this will be the same man who will  hold the office of the most powerful person in the world - the President of the United States. And though his archetype may become the new normal in American politics, especially for those who want to run but have skeletons in their closets, I personally hope it’s only an anomaly, and not a standard.

The irony was that Trump was not expected to win. The Republican Party was/is badly divided mainly because of him, and so he had a long shot. Even up to the night of the election he was still behind in the polls, though the margin had tightened a bit.  The media has all but written him off and during their prognostications, the pundits were trying to find any possible path for him to the White House. It proved to be quite a challenge, and one that immediately started evaporating as soon as the results started coming in.

Now, if Shakespeare were reporting on the morning after the election, he would have started his report thusly: “Pundits, Pollsters, Prognosticators and “people”, lend me your ears, you all did not come to praise Trump, but to “bury” him.... And then you even became some of Steve Harvey’s apprentices (pun intended) in the process.”

Trump’s win was a surprise. A big one!  And because of the unexpected turn of events, I’m sure at some point, while waiting for the results, some Clinton supporters saw Trump’s advantage and thought and wondered if the election was somewhat rigged.  I’m even more sure that a few, maybe, of Trump’s supporters will have also thought the same thing, though in their candidate’s favor.  It was amazing and ridiculous at the same time.

Anyhow, congratulations Mr. President-elect!  ... and Cheers for Democracy!!
(By the way, wake me up when THE WALL is finished and all paid for by Mexico.)

Now let me shift gears and comment on something that may have a lasting appeal and application, even long after any voluminous archives on Trump’s victory will have been gone. It has to do with Democracy and Education, which has relevance to this election as well.

Good and proper education is vital to the success and durability of a healthy democracy.  It’s an age-old fact and principle. Aristotle and Plato taught that education is the foundation of democracy.

“Education is the prerequisite to democracy..... Only after proper education should a citizen be granted his democratic rights.” (Sociology Of Education by S.S. Chandra,)

An article in Newsweek states this:
There is a deep connection between education and a successful, well-run representative democracy. Voters need significant education to be able to judge the people to whom they delegate the power to make governing decisions and to assess how their governing system is operating. Without adequate education generally and specifically about representative democracy, the system itself is at risk. (from “Why are white, uneducated voters voting for Trump?”)
From the same article:
“Hillary Clinton is significantly ahead of Donald Trump among college-educated voters, while Trump is more appealing to ...less educated voters.”  But Hillary lost.

During one of his campaign stops in Nevada, Trump said that “he loves the poorly educated.”

By contrast, in 2012, Romney won whites with a college degree by 6 percentage points over Obama, and yet Romney lost.  See the pattern?  The less educated a person is, the more chances that he/she will vote for an incompetent, arrogant and stupid candidate.

The Chicago Tribune posted an article titled:
“Donald Trump won. Let the uneducated have their day.”

Washington Post: 
“Donald Trump’s surge is all about less-educated Americans.” 

If this is an ongoing trend, and the very reason for Trump’s victory, then it doesn’t bode well for the future of democracy in America.  There will still be democracy but not a healthy, efficient and sustainable one.

“An educated, enlightened and informed population is one of the surest ways of promoting the health of democracy.” (Nelson Mandela) 


And so what’s the moral and lesson from the election?  Get EDUCATED; Get an EDUCATION ... then prepare to VOTE. Yes, Americans!!!


11/8/16

Tomorrow's Election Headlines??

The Election headlines tomorrow will be a draw for many; I’m sure the media has some lined up.  Here are some of mine, just for fun (in no particular order):

1. “Trump Trumps Hillary”

2. “Trump Takes Back White House” (ahem!)

3. “Trump Wins, Swamp Draining Starts!”

4. “Trump Wins, Money Not Wasted After All”

5. “Trump Wins, Election Not Rigged”

6. “Trump Wins; Election is Fair”

7. “Trump Wins; Tweeter Account Restored”

8. “Trump Loses, Tweets Hillary to Congratulate”

9. “Trump Wins By A Hair” (if Trump barely wins)

10.  “Trump Wins, Praises Media”

11.  “Trump Loses, Back to Business As Usual”

12.  “Hillary Loses, Emails Trump to Congratulate”

13.  “Clinton Elected President ... Again!”

14.  “Hillary Trumps Trump”

15.  “Nasty Woman is US President”

16.  “Hillary Wins Nasty Election”

17.  “Hillary Will Serve Time - As President”

18.  “Hillary Locks Up Election” (re: “Lock her up” chant)

19.  “Election Over, Hillary Wins ...For Now” 

20.  “Hillary Wins; Trump Sues”

21.  “Hillary Wins, Trump Calls Election Nasty”

22.  “Trump Loses; Wasted Time, Energy & Money”

23.  “Trump is Finally Fired” (re: The Apprentice)

24.  “Trump Loses, Blames Media”

25.  “Hillary Wins White House aka Capitol Hillary” (re: Capitol Hill)

Let’s see if a media source will use one of these, then I’ll surely sue!...LOL!!

It's Election Day!

It’s D-Day (as in Decision Day) today! - 

Last night the two candidates held their final rallies in Pennsylvania (for Clinton) and in New Hampshire and in Michigan (for Trump) and the following were said by the candidates as their “closing statements”:

Donald Trump:
"If we don't win, this will be the single greatest waste of time, energy and money in my life." 

Hillary Clinton:
"I know how much responsibility goes with this .... So many people are counting on the outcome of this election, what it means for our country, and I will do the very best I can if I'm fortunate enough to win today."

Exclusively based on the contexts and literality of their remarks, do you have the feeling that one is a Businessman and the other a Politician (aka public servant)?  That the former cares more about his money and the latter for others - people and country?

If we knew nothing of the two candidates except for what they said in the above statements, how would you decipher the two?

When you Vote one, you Veto the other.

Openmindednessly yours!

11/7/16

My Story and I'm Sticking to It

Well, I have been suffering from election fatigue for several months now.  It’s not that I’m actively promoting or "stumping" for a particular candidate, but rather from the election stories and news saturating the media (as always every four years), let alone the derogatory, malicious and abhorrent nature of the campaigns. And so for some antidote and temporary relief to my impairment, I have been writing some more philosophical, humorous and sarcastic posts about the election.

The underlying and nagging question that burdens and bothers most people, and certainly belies this whole political malady is this: “Are Trump and Clinton the best that America has to offer?” This is the country of the most famous and greatest political heroes and figures in modern history.  This is the country of Washington, Jefferson, Madison, Lincoln, Reagan, etc. etc., for crying out loud.  I understand that politicians are not always held to the highest of moral, honorable or trustworthy standards, but c’mon, I’m sure we can do a lot better than Trump and Clinton.  Or are these the only types of political aspirants we have left in America?  Or does money - as what most outsiders ascribe to many of America’s problems -  have a role in this seeming demise of an American tradition?

Well, we may never have satisfactory answers to these queries.  Therefore, let tomorrow’s election be, as it may, and let us (“we the people”) swallow the accountability pill after. For the time being, let me tackle the bull by the horns and be “forthright” about my position and opinion.

For me, Clinton and Trump are on an even par as far as their different, yet equally weighed, flaws.  In other words, to use a familiar cliche, ad nauseam, we have a kettle and a pot - different in shapes yet the same and equal in their smutches.  Hence, flaws aside, and with everything being equal, let me start with a “clean slate” considering their very basic qualifications on who will better serve as President.

And so let me use my own methodology that will include an analogy and a philosophy to delineate and delimit the two, thereby suggesting and hinting at the better candidate (or to use a common expression being used for this election, “the lesser of the two evils”) for President.

First an analogy: 
A man was admitted to the hospital for chest pains.  The ER staff determined that he has to have an open heart surgery immediately.  The only heart surgeon available had a checkered past as far as his reputation and experience.  There was only one other doctor available who was a general practitioner (GP).  The whole hospital staff had to vote on who should operate on the patient, who was also asked for his opinion.  Everyone voted for the heart surgeon.

And the philosophy: 
This is Plato’s definition of justice as found in his famous work, “The Republic”. Justice is necessary in a state in order for it to function properly. And to achieve justice, therefore, is to promote the principle "that one man [or woman] should practice one thing only and that the thing to which his [her] nature was best adopted".  “Justice is thus a sort of specialization. It is simply the will to fulfill the duties of one’s station and not to meddle with the duties of another station.”

Considering most things about the two main candidates (again, sans their flaws), as well as the fact that the President is a political office, therefore, in principle, may the one better “suited and specialized” for political office win. Yep, like the heart surgeon who, despite his past, was more suited and specialized for heart surgery, and not the GP.


11/3/16

Halloween 2016

Our family's annual Halloween party was on Saturday (29th) hosted by one of our daughters and her husband and kids. Again, it was a fun-filled night with the grandchildren (and adults) and their costumes, half of which were homemade.
Among the guests were Cowgirl and Elvis (or Bruno Mars depending on particular times during the party ..lol!) Freddy Fazbear was there and Princess Potty Troll too. Ironman and his friends, a gumball machine, the Spider and Spiderman, Batgirl and a hippie and several others.  Lotsa food and fun.  We had games too and the doughnut eating contest was the funnest.  Here are just some of the pictures from the party.

...on the way to the party

The Spider ... greeted us!




... Freddy and Potty Troll





... Cowgirl and friend





... group picture









Elvis?




...Cowgirl becoming legally blonde











... and then on Halloween Day, I had the honor, again, of greeting the trick-o-treaters and handing out the candies/lollies. Now, I did not want to don my Presley/Mars costume again so I had to come up with something original and creative.  I called Dearie from work to ask if she had a nice lavalava, and she said yes... (I had in mind the recent official opening of the trailer for Moana) and so I got me a sharpie (marker) and glasses and the rest of the story was the dramatic change from Rock 'n Roll (Elvis) to just The Rock..LOL!!

...doppelganger? ...lol!!






... good and fun times!!!