Monthly Archives: October 2013

The Truth about Healthcare, Culture, and Taxation in the US


I discuss the myth that higher taxes will result in a better healthcare system and compare the United States to Japan and Switzerland (both countries with Universal Healthcare Options) .

I also touch on the myth that higher healthcare costs and lower life expectancy in the United States versus other developed nations is a result of not having a Universal Healthcare Option. *You can see the charts and statistics better if you expand the video to full screen.

You can check out the all the stats used in this video here.  Also thanks to Phil Ebersole’s Blog for the inspiration on this topic.

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Nightlife in the Southern City of Charleston, SC

Ah yes, Charleston. A town full of Southern charm, old money, beaches, and colonial architecture. It’s the picturesque view of antebellum south and everything that comes with it. Beautiful well dressed women in sun dresses. Courteous gentlemen who open doors for their wives. The clichés go on like a Margaret Mitchell novel.

But the hell with all that – I want to talk about the bars. The hidden side of Charleston. The dirty side. Where liquor is poured like a waterfall until 2am, where college students begin their dependence on alcohol, where fights break out on a Monday, local bands live the dream, and friends gather to sing their heart out after a few too many shots of whiskey. This is nightlife in Charleston, SC.

Squeeze Bar

My adventure in downtown Charleston began innocently – I wanted dinner. On my way to fill up my belly with delicious Southern fried cuisine I heard someone call my name. Maybe not someone, but something. It was a little bar that couldn’t hold more than forty people if it tried. The shelves were well stocked with beverages and a lone patron sat by himself enjoying a conversation with the bartender.

I walked in had a few beers and my night began. The bartender and I talked about life, love, and Charleston history. That’s how I found Big John’s.

Big John’s Tavern

A short walk stumble up East Bay street from Squeeze Bar leads you directly to the best Dive in Charleston. As I approached I over-heard a customer complain that “Big John” wouldn’t hire him because he had a drinking problem. I heard the distinct hum of poorly executed karaoke. I noticed beers were in the tall cans and not the average sized one. My heart ached, I found my Charleston dive bar.

Inside there are bra’s hanging from the ceilings like trophies from hard fought battles on glorious nights. There are war veterans swapping stories about “enemy combatants”. The bathroom is a trough and college kids drink $2 bud lights all night long. Big John’s isn’t for the faint of heart, but for those looking for the best night of their life with below average looking people – Big John’s might be the best place on earth.

Mad River Bar

Utterly defeated after John’s I decided to crawl back to my hotel off church street. That’s when I heard the glorious singing of an angel and combination of piano strokes that could only be created by a genius. It came from a former church turned bar. I entered obediently as God commanded.

Life felt right. I was drinking in an old church turned bar, a guy was destroying the keyboard in the former pulpit, creepy guys were hitting on college girls, and that’s when the fight broke out. A sweaty, disgusting, brawl between two slightly overweight couples. I sat back, enjoyed my beer and the entertainment. My night was complete.

Until you experience multiculturalism please don’t talk about race

I am so tired of reading articles like this one on the Huffington post that claims to have made some exciting revelation about the causes of racial tensions or why black people tend to be democrats.

I’ll bet that the author of this article and the researchers involved have never even had a black neighbor. They probably live in an indistinguishable all white upper-middle-class neighborhood with neatly trimmed lawns and where everyone drives a Subaru. But until you actually live in a multi-cultural neighborhood please stop trying to draw conclusions about race.

My Neighbors: Blacks and Mexicans

For clarification I would like to point out that I live in Atlanta, GA – widely considered the hub of black success and culture in the United States – in a part of the city that is equal parts African America, Latin American, and White. So I deal with people of different race daily (and live next to them, happily).

I get why people have trouble with other cultures and why race relations can be difficult. Cultural habits from one community to the next can be difficult to deal with if you aren’t open minded. So until a person leaves their androgynous community and experiences a true multicultural setting I don’t think they have much to add to the conversation.

For example, until you live next to a Mexican family and realize how loud their family gatherings are you may not understand why a quiet white family would have a problem with that. Or maybe you don’t realize that having a PERFECTLY manicured yard isn’t important in the black guy next door – so you have no idea why these “whities” find it irritating that those three weeds are so obviously ruining the neighbors flower bed – AND RUINING PROPERTY VALUES! (exaggeration implied)

Segregated people have no perspective

My overall point is that the people writing these “studies” have no f*cking idea what they are talking about. They attempt to draw conclusions from data and historical facts (that are sometimes accurate, sometimes not), but add no real value to the situation. It is the classic gap between academic theory and real world practice.

Tension exist between race because you are throwing groups of people together that don’t see the world the same. Not because their skin color has a different pigment, but because they come from a different cultural, economic, and social background. They have different ways of thinking, different traditions, different values, and unique ways of doing things. When you add all of those differences together it’s pretty obvious why there can be friction.

The South isn’t racist – we actually have Multiculturalism

So before anyone writes another article about slavery in the South and how racism is so prevalent here please recognize one thing: The South is actually multicultural. And until you live next to people who are different from you – all with deeply seeded roots, history, and traditions – please don’t pretend to know what you are talking about.

Guatemala: A brief history of Christian conversion by force

In July of 2012 my wife and I visited Guatemala.  We traveled around the country and visited ancient ruins, religious sites, and learned much about the history and culture of the people living there.

One phenomena I found especially interesting was a unique form of Christianity practiced throughout the region – especially prevalent in the rural regions of the country. This form of Christianity incorporated Christian and Mayan traditions and symbols – a unique and beautiful presentation of religious history right there in front of us.

History: Christianity brought to Guatemala by the Spaniards

Much of the Spanish inquisition of Central America centered around greed, not religion. Spanish explorers used religion as an excuse to pillage and destroy villages for resources, land, and glory – rather than in the name of Christianity.

None-the-less religious leaders permitted this behavior in the name of God and Christianity was spread by forced conversion – a convenient  mechanism for the Spaniards to promote their imperialistic goals in and around Guatemala.

“Maya communities under immediate pressure to conform to imperial designs…Under the policy of congregacion…thousands of native families were coerced from their homes in the mountains into new settlements built around churches…For the Spaniards, congregacion promoted more effective civil administration, facilitated the conversion of Indians to Christianity, and created centralized pools of labor to meet imperial objectives.” [Source]

In all, hundreds of thousands of Mayans were killed, millions displaced from their homes, and incalculable history destroyed. “Mayan-Christianity” persist to this day.

Guatemala religion

Mayan Christianity

And though most Guatemalans in these rural villages consider themselves Christian -traditions left over from native Mayan culture remain potent. One example is the Mayan headdress and shirt (shown above) worn by only the elder women in Santioago Atitlan. The fashion is fading away, but remains one of the clearest examples of local culture entrenching itself into modern Christianity.

Spanish Priests also incorporated Mayan symbolism into the churches (shown below). My local tour guide pointed out the altarpiece inside the church:

“Maya traditionalists familiar with this structure merge the Christian symbols in this large carved wood sculpture with their traditional worldviews. The altarpiece is seen concurrently as “a sacred mountain from which divine beings emerge,” the three volcanoes surrounding Santiago Atitlan, and, in the broadest sense, a referent to ancient Maya temples and architecture” [Source]

Guatemala relgions 2

Modern Guatemala

Modern Guatemala is a mashup of native and imported traditions. In the small town of Antigua, Guatemala, for example, there are nearly 40 churches representing different Christian denominations. Each a beautiful, yet painful reminder of the costs of imperialism and religious zealotry.

Note: All photos belong to me.