Viva La Vida

Archives: Belief, reason and justice

A call for science…

by JD | June 29, 2011

Yup, the recent SAT’s (those pesky tests most of us took to get into college) just featured a question regarding the authenticity of shows like “American Idol”. In other words, China – you just won!

Well maybe not. I highly doubt that the far eastern juggernaut will eclipse America’s GDP anytime soon (despite being the world’s # 2), but that doesn’t mean we should undermine our emphasis on educating the next generation of global leaders.

While in Ecuador, I further realized that it is infrastructure, technical innovation and quality public administration that advances the well being of a nation; not reality shows or over-priced real estate (especially). But for those former entities to surpass the latter, there needs to be a new push towards higher education, especially in the sciences and liberal arts.

I believe that it is not a coincidence that since JFK gave Americans a deadline to land on the Moon (and signing the executive order to start the Peace Corps ;)  ) there has been repeated cycles of economic and social growth in the United States. The Apollo program inspired students to pursue careers in engineering, aviation and medicine for a chance to join NASA, and while the majority of them didn’t end up working for them, they went on and joined other innovative efforts that maximize the well being and economic independence of our nation.

Now imagine if our sitting POTUS challenges us to land in Mars in this decade. The technology is there; we already understand the mechanics behind heavy-lift boosters and methane/oxygen generators. A challenge will also inspire students to learn hard science, a field that has countless benefits some of which to say the least includes the possibility of engineering alternative fuel cells.

So let’s beat China !

- jd

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In a State of Fortitude

by JD | October 22, 2009

Although I was not able to stay for the entire duration of the speech, I was thrilled to hear about the bold direction of Lynn during today’s State of the University Address delivered by our President Kevin Ross.

What really resonated with me about the overall tone of his speech today was how much Lynn has grown since my freshman year as President Ross first accepted his duties to oversee the overall dynamics of our great university. And to think that neither my graduating class nor President Ross had in mind four years ago as we began our tenure that our nation would plunge into  economic uncertainty, nevertheless our ambitious goals and strategic plans to ensure prosperity into the future have not since yet deterred. I believe that as a community, we collectively faced our economic challenges and:

1) Established the groundwork for a world-class arts performing center

2) Realized the construction for a new tennis complex

3) Attained an NCAA national championship (yet another one)

4) Achieved record fundraising for community service projects (IE. Relay for Life, Food for the Poor)

5) Implemented an innovative Dialogues of Learning curriculum

6) Offered diverse J-term opportunities that span various fields of interests and passions

The list can go on indefinitely but what is important to understand is that by having such a high concentration of unparalleled achievements as a private institution despite a recession should serve as a predicament to future achievements and bold initiatives. Lynn’s involvement with the GI bill and the ambitious Lynn 3.0 degree tailored towards our most daring students are just two examples of how we are moving forward as an institution and responding to evolving challenges presented to us in the new millennium.

I can’t wait to come back as an alumni in the year 2020 and witness the fruit of today’s labor.

Till Next Time- come back next week to read about my musical and foreign policy research presentations at our nations capital!



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I think, therefore, I am

by JD | October 8, 2009

Today as I was walking towards my environmental class the morning air was filled with the song of birds.

This beautiful harmony of music was soon halted by an obnoxious truck horn from a nearby Pepsi delivery.

I looked at our lakes and it reminded me of the Dead Sea from Europe famed for its ultra-high salinity.

Only to find out while after about the alarming rate at which it is receding to a point of nothingness.

And on top of all that we are shooting rockets at our moon.

Contrary to French mathematician Rene Descartes‘ famed supposition: We think we may not be inducing irreversible damage to Mother Earth, but maybe we are.



How To Ruin Your Life…Part One

by JD | September 24, 2009

You might ask, what kind of post is this? Why would anybody want to learn how to ruin the only shot at this beautiful concept called life that we have given to us? The answer is simple- because you don‘t.

Among the most valuable treasure maps conceivable is one where it tells you exactly where the treasure is not located.

And with that analogy I’ll let my readers sink in to its meaning and infer properly what this post is really trying to accomplish.

Here we go:

1) Convince Yourself That It’s All About You, You, You. Ah- yes. Because everything is about you. In fact, the whole universe and its heavenly bodies all aligned themselves harmoniously for the sole purpose to ensure your existence. Mother Earth herself made sure that the weather in Boca Raton, Florida stays shiny for you- only you- all year long. The word ‘rain’ is not even in your vocabulary. And when those nasty clouds come your way, they will only wet everybody else. But who cares, right? As long as you stay dry. And of course  know that umbrellas, cars, the wheel, the educational system, our Government, gold, toasters, Get-Out-of-Jail Free Cards, credit cards, the tourism industry, the Grand Canyon, The Great Wall of China,  the Internet, remote-controls, microwaves, spas, comic books, the New York Times Books Bestseller lists,  MLK & the Civil Rights movement, Free speech, capitalism, Newton’s laws on gravity, Nobel Prizes, pets, whales, phytoplankton, family, backscratchers, , the Flu Shot, the media, the entertainment industry, global religions, the Pope,  Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, government bail-out programs, Cash-for-Clunkers, welfare programs, healthcare reform (maybe), the Revolutionary War, the Holocaust, the sunset, the sunrise,  Beethoven’s Symphonies,  Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, Harry Potter, plastic surgery, HBO specials, Lifetime, BBC, donuts, krispy kream donuts, bottled water, elevators, bell boys, the porn industry, waiters, Wackenhut, Pizza Hut, cell-phones, 911 dispatchers, audio books, media piracy, Hollywood,  Super Nintendo, Super Mario, Super Man,  the Super Bowl- and their commercials, baseball stadiums, FIFA, work-out rooms (but God-forbid you actually have to use one)Martha Stewart, John Stewart, Ebay, facebook, twitter, cleaning maids, hotel maids (my lovely mother is one of them!), professors, RA’s, shortcuts, detours,  extra-credit assignments, teacher office hours for extra help, substitute teachers, the couch, the iphone, the imac, the I-everything,  the Red Carpet, and even our own oxygen were all made possible just for your own comfort’s and enjoyment’s sake. And you don’t even need to say Thank You.

2) Don’t Attempt to Learn Another Language: You really don’t need to, you already speak English! Remember those senseless French, Spanish or Chinese classes that they forced you to take back in high school? That pretty much fulfills your requirement for cultural diversity. Let others learn your language. And of course,  there will be translators just eager to help you out whenever you decide to take a vacation to that third-world country you always wanted to go to. Let’s not forget- you come from the first world! Even if they come from an under-developed nation, you are too over-developed to even learn something new!   It’s their fault for not being able to communicate with you. Maybe that’s why they don’t enjoy the same democratic, opportunity-rich and poverty-free nation that you live in. Maybe in their next lives they will join you and live among the luckiest 10% of the entire global population.

3) Live Beyond Your Means: Please do! Go right ahead! Who cares if you only make less than 100K a year. If there’s a mansion with a view of the beach that is worth 500K, by all means buy it! That’s only five times more what you earn in a year! Nothing will ever financially harm the all-important infallible you. There will always be banks who can provide you that huge mortgage. And then later you can default on that same loan! Hey, it’s not your money anyways- so who cares! And even if it is, money will always grow on that tree outside your window just for you :) .  Just waiting for you to spend it. By the way, you already have a roof on top of your head and food is guaranteed to be on the table every day. But you need more than that! So why save money? Only loosers, geeks and Bill Gates does that.  No, you have to spend, spend spend! And hurry, I hear that your neighbor just bought a home theater system that’s even louder and more obnoxious than yours!

So follow these directions carefully, and if you haven’t been struck by lighting yet- then return to my page for part two!


3 Questions for you…

by JD | September 21, 2009

Answer this:

1) Who actually won the US Open (tennis) this year?

2) Did President Obama actually push for a “public-option” in his last speech to a joint-session on Congress?

3) Which musical video actually won the “best video” category at the VMA’s this year?

If you are like most people in America (including myself) then you probably can’t answer these questions accurately and without doing a quick ‘Google’ search. But instead, I bet that you can actually recall:

1) What Serena William thinks a tennis official should have for dinner tonight

2) South Carolina Senator Joe Wilson’s true impression of our President

3) Kanye West’ personal opinion on what he thinks is the best video out right now

The point here folks is that the media has a tendency to focus on not really what is important, but rather what is ‘news-worthy’ (but we all know that). And soon after we see media ridiculing itself on how much it paid attention to the meaningless topic it helped promote. I call this phenomenon the inevitably shameless media loop.

So next time you read something written by another imperfect human being (nobody is really infallible), just make sure you ask yourself what else is happening that you are not being told directly.


Whole Foods gets political- or not

by JD | August 31, 2009

The year 2009 has not even began to conclude and yet America has already witnessed the passing of two  notable individuals of our generation, Senator Kennedy and pop legend Michael Jackson- a downhearted economic landscape which has rivaled the Great Depression and even a global health crises heightened by the H1N1 pandemic which if gets even worse some might even be able draw comparisons to the Black Death from 14th century Europe. Nevertheless, this year has spawned the great health care debate which has unfortunately been tainted with a number of political attacks to groups proposing their versions of adequate health care reform. Colorful town hall meetings, partisan views and a recession have all come together to plaster our news with people’s opinions on what should and should not be done.

My blog is not a political blog- and therefore I will refrain myself from arguing for a specific side. The only thing I agree on, and it seems that most Americans would share my view, is that something must be done to our health care system. America has distinguished itself in contemporary history from other global powers proudly and has succeeded in being the leader in various sectors including the financial, military, intellectual, agricultural, industrial and many others except for one crucial sector -health care.

Although this is not a political blog, it’s still my blog and in today’s post I would like to provide constructive criticism to Whole Food Markets CEO John Mackey for his Op-ed article published in The Wall Street Journal titled “The Whole Foods Alternative to ObamaCare”.

In John Mackey’s article, there is a clear argument against government-run health care which will create “hundreds of billions of dollars of new unfunded deficits and move us much closer to a government takeover of our health-care system”. Mr. Mackey even proposes tort reform to alleviate insurance costs in malpractice cases; recommends a line in our tax forms which would ask taxpayers to give tax-deductible donations to help hundreds of uninsured citizens and he even cites examples of countries already with socialized medicine where there are waiting lists of individuals hoping to get treatment.

Once again let me reiterate that I am not and will not agree or disagree with the views on his Op-ed article, instead I find many flaws in the sole existence of the article in the first place.

Mr. Mackey’s article has spawned a public outcry against Whole Foods Corporation and some liberal groups have initiated powerful boycotts nationwide to deter shoppers to this supermarket. Ouch. Now, are the liberal groups right to attack Whole Foods supermarkets as a whole because of the views of its corporate leaders? That is a question for me to ponder on a next post, but today’s post centers itself on how Whole Foods CEO John Mackey has faulted in publishing his views on a national newspaper. Mr. Mackey has commented on a very sensitive issue, an issue that has reminded that no matter which side you choose in today’s climate there will be somebody attacking either you or your beliefs.
As the leading corporate executive of Whole Foods Markets, Mr. Mackey carries his badge of “CEO” even  when he is not in his office. Therefore, when he makes public statements regarding any issue, it is an inevitable fact that Americans will draw connections between his beliefs and what the company stands for. By choosing a side, which he explicitly did in this WSJ article, there will be citizens- and grocery shoppers- who will not share his views. And when you pick a side as polarizing and controversial as health care, there will be people who will be offended and therefore will try their best to give you or your companies major headaches, which has been happening with the organized boycotts on behalf of liberal groups.
Indeed, after much criticism for his views from the public and from his own customers, Mr. Mackey has apologized in his own blog sponsored by Whole Foods. In fact, he clearly reiterated the fact that his views are his own and do not represent Whole Foods Markets. Perhaps he should have been clear about this from the beginning!

Interestingly enough, as I read John Mackey’s blog I learned that his original article submitted to WSJ was titled simply “Health Care Reform.” It appears that the editors at the WSJ went along and changed his harmless title of “Health Care Reform” to a more hostile title of “The Whole Foods Alternative to ObamaCare.” Mr. Mackey has complained about this title change which was done without his consent for obvious reasons, but whether or not he can be considered a victim of a newspaper’s manipulation of his very own thoughts is a question that I will have to debate about on a future post.

Be safe- and stay logical,



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Executive compensation: The case against unwarranted monetary bonuses to senior executives during an economic downturn

by JD | August 30, 2009

I received news of a series of investigations from the SEC’s division of enforcement against Bank of America (NYSE: BAC) in light of billions of dollars being paid to executives at Merrill Lynch following a deal which was not disclosed properly to the shareholders. As a result, Bank of America will now pay $33 million in penalties. Now whether or not this is a lot for a corporate juggernaut like Bank of America- who knows. But what must be understood is that one of the primary purposes of these penalties is that they are intended by the SEC to have a deterrent effect- similar to the “doomsday device” as seen in 1964 cold war black comedy film Dr. Strangelove(of course, instead of total global annihilation we just have here just a healthy dose of corporate governance).

I applaud the Securities and Exchange Commission for their investigation although I do belief that this case is just one out of many that have occurred or that will occur in the coming years. Financial institutions like these need to be more scrutinized, especially if they are receiving taxpayer bailouts. Corporate greed is an unfortunate reality that has been synonymous with human nature ever since the Roman emperors have been murdered by their own colleagues in order for them to usurp their thrones. Nevertheless, despite the fact of inevitable moralistic flaws- aggressive investigation into the balance sheets of public companies needs to be a priority in our society if we aim to attain a higher order of justice and corporate responsibility.

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The Implausibility Behind there Being a Sole Culprit

by JD | August 9, 2009

I just received word that another individual, finance Chief Frank DiPascali, would be held accountable for the $20+ billion investment fraud which was insidiously plotted out by disgraced financier Bernard Madoff through his ponzi scheme. Upon hearing this news, I have to admit that I received the story with mixed emotions.

For one, I was content upon hearing that Bernie Madoff would not be the only one getting sentenced and there would be another individual who will get incarcerated for allowing such a deceiving scheme to take place. Frank DiPascali was charged with ten separate counts including securities fraud, mail fraud and falsifying financial records. It sickens me to hear that this executive went as far as to retrieve historical stock prices and fluctuations and present them to current investors in order to give them confidence of whichever mutual funds or financial products that was currently being sold to them .

However, after reading this story I was also stricken with melancholy as I told myself, so far the American justice system has only indicted one other person other than Madoff himself? To me, it seems unreasonable that a ponzi scheme- especially one of this magnitude which flushed out untold billions of dollars from law-abiding citizens and institutions- only has a handful of culprits, I just don’t buy it! And to read that there has only been one other individual indicted to such a scheme, it seems to me that there are many other people who are roaming around the streets enjoying their liberty while they helped realize such a preposterous scheme that devastated the lives of hundreds of Americans. Bernard Madoff went on record that he has been the “sole culprit” behind this whole scheme, and that nobody, especially his wife or his co-workers-had anything to do with his immoral and illegal acts. When I used to work at the Palm Beach Court House, I sat through many robbery or even murder cases in which the defendant wasn’t even the one who originally thought about or even executed the crime- and yet he or she was getting tried because they were present in the scene. If these secondary individuals are being tried for those crimes, than I believe that there should be many more executives and family members who have to be held accountable for such atrocities- especially ones of this magnitude.

Now- I consider myself a very logical person, thus I rarely let emotion or subjective thinking impede my judgment. However I must admit that in this case, past experience may or may not provoke such strong language used in this post. Although I haven’t been personally affected by the ponzi scheme, I am closely acquainted with many institutions and friends who have been. I am talking about benevolent institutions-such as the School District of Palm Beach County or even the Boys & Girls Club of America-institutions that serve to advance the well being of society. These types of institutions, and many more, have lost millions if not billions of dollars and consequently have had to cut off many social programs that help hundreds of people in the community. Such financial mayhem cannot happen again- and those responsible for it all have to give up their liberties to learn a lesson and to deter any future fraudulent behavior from white collar criminals.

But like they say- honesty is the best policy,



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“An exceptional and inspiring life story does not qualify you to be a Supreme Court Judge”

by JD | August 6, 2009

The title to this post quotes Arizona Senator John McCain as he critizes Judge Sotomayor on her nomination to the Supreme Court. Upon saying this, the Senator relies on the assumption that Judge Sotomayor’s “exceptional and inspiring life story” are among the only reasons why she would be a good fit to the Supreme Court; an assumption that is far from the reality. Judge Sotomayor has a number of compelling reasons that proove that she may be a good fit for the Supreme Court. After all, didn’t  Senator McCain base his campaign to the White House last year  on his own heroic and inspiring life story as a POW during the Vietnam War?

Once again, politics has not failed to find arguments and counter-arguments to what seems the most logical.

Nevertheless, Congratulations to Judge Sotomayor on her nomination and approval from the Senate today!!!

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somebody must be wrong…

by JD | August 5, 2009

Who would have thought that leading news broadcasters would report inaccurate information to the masses. But tonight, as breaking news emerged from Pennsylvania concerning a shoot-out, there appears to be a major discrepancy between the cold hard facts of the case! Watch for yourselves:




This kind of reminds me of the advice I received once that I should always be skeptical upon reading the news…no matter how prominent the source is. Nevertheless, my heart and prayers goes out to all of the loved ones of the victims…no matter how many there actually were after all.

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