Sunday, November 30, 2008

Why Terrorism is Ridiculous

Well, I honestly can't expect myself to do justice to this topic on a little blog post on one fine Sunday afternoon as I sit on the floor and think about what to make for dinner. But I will say just a few words to try to get the tip of my iceberg of feelings on this issue out there.

After seeing terrorist acts committed by enraged Palestinians as I lived in Jerusalem, I was able to see the reaction of the communities involved. For one, some of the more Orthodox Jewish rabbis would demand the blood of the family members of the terrorists. This will obviously only make things worse, more blood on both sides and a perpetuation of hate.

For another thing, this just teaches the Israeli kids that Palestinians are all bad people that want to hurt them, a false generalization that will also perpetuate conflict and misunderstanding. And then the Palestinian kids see those few Orthodox rabbis speaking out against their countrymen and they develop a hatred towards the Jews in general, again, continuing the cycle of hatred.
Now, let's look at Sept 11. These terrorist attacks led to a war and many deaths on all sides, it led to a worsened stereotype of all Arabs worldwide as being untrustworthy terrorists who just want to blow you up, another HUGE fallacy that has led to hate crimes towards and misunderstanding of both Arabs and Muslims.

So who is benefiting from terrorism? I would say absolutely nobody. It is just making life worse for everyone, Muslim, Jew, American, Palestinian...everybody.

Now about the attacks at Mumbai, my heart truly hurt when I read this devastating news from my laptop at our Illinois hotel this week. I was so saddened at a repeat of this illogical mechanism meant to achieve power through terror. It is so disgustingly selfish of an act and it is not even effective! What a tragedy. My heart goes out to all involved. I looked through some photos of the events, compliments of Yahoo! and I was refreshed to see some people who feel like I do, that is, that terrorism is preventing peace and making Islam look evil, which it is most certainly not. I hope for understanding to prevail.

I'm thankful for NAUVOO

I just got back today from Nauvoo, Illinois, and it was great! It was my first experience in the Midwest (it was actually a lot prettier than I anticipated) and it was the first time being with all of my family for a very long time. The best part, I think, was just seeing my grandparents doing their missionary thing. I got to see Grandpa driving around in his truck early in the morning as I jogged, he was off to fix or restore something or other. I saw Grandma give tours of the historic sites and share tons of interesting information with everyone. And I got to see them both sing and act in a performance the missionaries all put on and they did so great! I am so proud of them and all of the great work that they are doing in service of the Church, they are a great example.
The temple was also so gorgeous and way larger than I had envisioned. It was really breathtaking and I loved being able to go there with all of my family- my family is great. I really feel a lot closer to those early Saints and I feel like I can comprehend their vast hardships so much better now. I am grateful for the early and modern pioneers who paved the way and who still light the path today for people to come closer to peace, joy, and perfection through sacrifice and service.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Rivalry, shmivalry

This week I finally decided that I like BYU. I was walking around at lunch time and I finally appreciated all of the funny things going on and the quirkiness that is just so BYU. I have been given all the opportunities here to pursue my dreams and to learn from a very unique and enlightening perspective and I am grateful to be a student here. That being said, there are a few irreparable things that are a twinge annoying. I will here only discuss one very tiny example.

So apparently it’s rivalry week here at BYU, as evidenced by the statues covered in Saran Wrap all over campus. Apparently Saran Wrap causes deviant Utes to melt or something. Honestly, I don’t really get the whole rivalry thing anymore. When I was a freshman (ya know, back when I actually went to a football game or two) I totally bought into the whole hatred towards the University of Utah and accepted the fact that they must be an inferior breed of students. Honestly, I now have better things to waste my brain cells on (or at least what few I have left after that one rugby injury…). Frankly, if I lived in Utah, I wanted cheap tuition, and I wasn’t Mormon, I would be a Ute myself--big deal. At any rate, every single one of my professors have brought up the rivalry game that is apparently coming up on Saturday- what a waste. No one cared when I played Stanford or Berkeley or UCLA or even New Mexico, which I would call our rival team. I guess I’m just jealous. But seriously, here is your typical football game day plan:

-Wear ugly blue stuff all day
-Walk to the stadium and get there like 2 hours early to get a hot dog at the Cougar United tailgate party for losers with bad grades and no lives
-Wait in the most uncomfortable seats ever for 2 hours until game time
-Wait for 4 more hours in the most uncomfortable seats ever while we get our trashed kicked and it gets really cold outside, possibly snowing, surprise! It’s Utah!
-The paint on your face smudges all over your ugly blue clothes and now you really look like a moron
-Meanwhile, the team can’t keep the ball for more than 5 yards at a time, and that is letting them get a breather every 2 minutes because the game keeps stopping again and again, and did I mention they are wearing pads? (football is for fat woosies)
-Listen to that ridiculous cougar noise coming out of the scoreboard every 5 minutes and lose your voice from shouting things that none of the players could possibly hear, let alone do
-Walk home in shame, having wasted the last 7+ hours

Oh, yeah. Go Cougars.

At least I thought this graphic in the Daily Universe was kinda funny. Especially because Dreyer’s actually does make a BYU flavor around here. I wonder if that is just a Utah original considering this state is the per capita ice cream consumption champion (we’ve gotta replace alcohol with something), or if that is common in college towns across the country. Hmmm. Maybe I’ll find out when I blow this popsicle stand and head off to law school far, far away.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Pomegranates: taking over the world 1 smoothie at a time

I had an epiphone this morning while eating my cereal. I had been to Red Mango while running errands with Rach the day before and they were promoting their new pomegranate frozen yogurt and then we went to the farmer's market where we got a free sample of pomegranate juice, and then I looked at my desktop which was oddly enough this photo of the pomegranate tree from outside one of my classrooms at the Jerusalem Center, and then I remembered that I had gotten a Pomegranate Paradise Jamba Juice the day before and it hit me- pomegranates are trendy! And everywhere! In your grape juice, in your smoothies, in your frozen yogurt, on your desktop- everywhere.
I kept thinking about it and remembered in the Old Testament how Solomon's Temple was described as having pomegranates carved into the pillars. I also happened to ask these ladies at the Israel Museum (I saw the Dead Sea Scrolls here, by the way- AMAZING!!!) gift shop while I was there what the significance of pomegranates were in Jewish culture, since they were depicted symbolically on stuff all over Jerusalem and beyond. This was a way rough conversation since their English was broken at best, and my Hebrew was, well, non-existent. It took a while for the question to actually get across and then they just stood there thinking and looking puzzled and saying things back and forth to each other and finally said to me "It means many things." Wow, I could'a told you that one...luckily they continued after quite a while longer of discussing between one another. They eventually got across that it had to do with beauty, family, fertility, love, happiness...after this point I think they started making stuff up to appease the annoying American girl who ought to know Hebrew, but I was really grateful for their time. They definitely had the right idea and they were really kind to help out. I have heard since that in Judaism, it often is associated with the 1st commandment to Adam and Eve to be fruitful and multiply and replenish the earth, which makes a lot of sense since they are packed with hundreds of these red seeds. (hence the name which means "seeded apple" in case you don't know Latin)
Pomegranates also appear in some Christian art sometimes symbolizing the atonement, which I'm gonna guess relates to the blood from every pore scripture with all the moist and shiny red seeds. Likewise, the Koran mentions that pomegranates are grown in heaven. Interesting. I also remember seeing it associated with the goddess Persephone in a lot of Classical art when I did a research project on her once upon a time. Not to be outdone by major world religions of the past and present, Armenia uses the pomegranate (and the apricot, in fact) as a major symbol of itself and they are naturally grown all around that area of the world.
So anyway, this is already way longer of a post than anticipated, but what I really wanted to know at the time of this epiphone was whether or not they have real health benefits or if it is just a fad. So, one Wikipedia search (and beyond, slightly) later and here I am to tell you that although there is not really 100% conclusive results on antioxidant efficacy in humans, the preliminary data is very promising with improvements/prevention being seen in studies on various types of cancer, heart disease, and (randomly) dental plaque. However, it's not really unusually high in any actual vitamin. I suppose being a stockhouse of phytochemicals and free-radical reducing agents gives you that right.
Now that you know way more than you ever wanted to, eat away! Don't be thinking that it is some proven miracle salve, but it is good- and darn tasty. Feed the trend.

Thursday, November 13, 2008


I came across some images of these dolls while doing a Google search for a presentation on the media's effect on gender role development and it all came back to me. I remember walking through the crowded, narrow streets of the Old City of Jerusalem with merchandise in your face at every turn and I remembered being puzzled by the Fulla doll. Here we have your typical American Barbie doll, except she is dressed in Muslim garb, including a modest dress and a head covering. These were sold all over the place, but what really got me is that about half of the ones I saw in stores and on corners were blonde. Half. If you think that half of little Muslim girls are blonde, you are dead wrong. This means that many Arab girls are valuing Western looks, even to the point of wanting a doll with their religious ideals, but someone else's looks. I don not know what the exact sales figures are for white vs arab dolls, but this is just what I saw. At school we talk a lot about the global media and how internet and communication miracles are contributing to a global culture, and I think it is fair to say that some of these girls have been entransed by the glamorous Western women that they see on TV and in movies and that there is something coming across to them that these women are somehow more pretty or superior to them. Now, I had a black cabbage patch doll and a hispanic American Girl doll and I think this was awesome. However, I loved my Josephina doll, for example, because I thought her cultural clothing and story were so interesting. I have all of the Mexican goods to go along with her. White Fulla dolls, however, are literally replacing darker-skinned Fulla dolls by putting on the traditional clothes of a Muslim while still looking American. Something else is going on here. I don't really have an answer, but I think that we all need to be proud of our heritage and be able to celebrate the religious or geographical culture of others without trying to bash our own at the same time or replacing our ideals with other's that some in the world feel are somehow more acceptable. I hope that these little girls know that they are beautiful and that they can celebrate who they are and not feel pressure to live up to a Western view of beauty that is mere convention.

Monday, November 10, 2008

I love documentaries

You are probably saying, “Oh boy, here she goes again about Palestine” …and you’re kinda right. On a more scholarly note, yesterday I had the priviledge to attend an event with the Middle Eastern/Arabic Studies group here on campus and we watched a documentary on Palestinians in East Jerusalem- right where the JC is located- called "Jerusalem the East Side Story". I was so excited because this was literally a presentation on my old neighbors! I was glad to see the Seeley kids (everyone in that family has an IQ of 30+ points above average and I adore them) as well as Rachel Zackrison (to whom I will give a shout-out since she is so sweet and awesome—and not just because she looks like me) who were a part of my Jeru Crew and we got to see the film together.
It was so great just to see living images of the Holy Land again and I loved every minute of it. Of course, there was an obvious slant to the film and the creator, who answered questions afterwards, caused a few eyebrows to raise, but I still really appreciated his work and I think that he said a few really poignant things. I loved when he said “Don’t be an advocate for Palestine or Israel, be an advocate for peace and justice.” I couldn’t agree more. This is applicable regardless of your political ideology or sentiments. There are real people on either side of any conflict that have unalienable rights and often need help in receiving justice. I also loved when he (even though he was an inactive Muslim) talked about Jesus being the first human rights activist! I had never thought of that before, but I agree here too. Christ turned the tables of the money changers when they were cheating the humble Jews trying to worship at the Temple. He ate with sinners and publicans when others reviled them. He suffered that all mankind might have eternal justice and mercy. Now there is someone to emulate in our modern world.
Seeing this film got me all riled up about international and human rights law and I am just getting more and more pumped about law school everyday! There is so much that an American citizen with sufficient means and education can do in crisis situations around the world. While in Israel, Meg asked me on the bus one time what one of my huge, likely unachievable, life dreams was. Although I had never given it much thought, I found myself saying, “To save a 3rd world country in distress” and I actually believed it. My optimistic bubble will probably be popped the second I step out of academia and into the real world, but for now it is a great dream. I think that Americans need to wake up and realize the influence they can have. I encourage families to take service vacations, going to areas devastated by flood and earthquake to help re-build homes. This will get your kids out of their little world and show them just how much they have, as well as teach them to value of service and the universality of humanity. I love the LDS church’s idea of fast offerings: I don’t eat breakfast and lunch today and give the money I would have spent on food to you. In other words, we are suffering with our fellow neighbors and personally seeing to it that they are a meal closer to making it through. I commend all those who put in the invites of their birthday cards “no gifts please, but you are welcome to make a donation to (international organization or charity here).” Our current global problems are huge, but so is the globe, so is the 1st world population. May we contribute in whatever way we can.

Totally irrelevant, but Provo is SO beautiful right now and I took these photos from my living room window last week.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Fall Update

It has been an amazing couple of weeks! I love the Fall. After a crazy dress-up broomball date (see photo) Colin came down for the Halloween weekend and I, feeling nostalgic about Jerusalem (as usual) had the genius idea of making homemade falafel! Sadly, we didn’t have pitas, but we did have tortillas (yeah, a pretty weak substitute, but it worked) and it turned out great! The falafel seriously smelled JUST like the Old City and I was blown away! Seriously, I thought I would cry. And I made some of my own tzatziki sauce which was actually way great- a triumph!
Then today I slightly helped Rachel in the creation of an amazing culinary masterpiece! We (more like she) created this pear-cranberry pie from scratch and I have probably eaten half of it within the last 2 hours- whoa. Needless to say, she was very proud and we were very proud to have her as a roommate.
In other news, I have now officially submitted 3 law school applications and it feels so good! I am actually gonna try to finish them all this week somehow, so wish me luck. Peace out, homies.

Thursday, November 6, 2008


After many frustrating attempts at getting a bunch of my photos to upload, I have decided to try to update my Flickr account (link at top left of page) and I am also starting an online photo journal at
at least I think that's the site, if not I will update. Obviously I'm still working out the kinks. Stay tuned!