Finding your spark of genius

Albert EinsteinIn the post immediately preceding this one, I spoke about American gypsy girls who are steered into young marriage, followed immediately by a career as a homemaker, no matter their talents.  There’s nothing wrong with being a wonderful mother and homemaker, but one does wonder, of course, whether those girls were deprived of the opportunity to discover a hidden talent within themselves.

I’ve been thinking about the whole “hidden talent” thing a lot lately.  It’s been a part of my thinking for years, actually, ever since my sister went to college.  Her first boyfriend there grew up in a small farming community and was the first person in his family to go to college.  When he got to college, he was required to take his first ever language class.  He chose French, which is where he met my sister.  She was also taking German, as a continuation of her high school studies.

Over the course of just one semester, my sister’s boyfriend became fluent not only in French, which he was actively learning, but in German, which he was passively absorbing, both from my sister’s studies and from my parents German-language conversations.  It turned out that, when it came to languages, he was savant, and could learn any language with passable fluency over the course of a few months.  Had he stayed home on the farm, it’s likely this gift would have remained dormant forever.  As it was, within two years of meeting my sister, he was one of six American college students selected to go on a special Russian language program to the Soviet Union.

I thought of this guy just last week, when my high-school-aged son came home from his first day in art class at school.  He’s never had an art class before, but he brought home an incredibly good representation of his own hand, meticulously worked in 3D.  He didn’t need lessons in perspective; he instinctively understood it.  Had he not been required to take this class as a prerequisite for graduating, he might never have known he has this gift.

And in this same vein, I’d like to recommend a bad, but wonderful documentary.  The documentary is called “Blood Brother,” and it’s playing on PBS.  The young man who made the documentary focuses on his friend, an almost paralyzingly ordinary boy from Pittsburgh, who did wonderful things.  The documentary is bad because it’s poorly constructed, poorly photographed, poorly narrated, poorly everything . . . but it’s still worth watching.

The ordinary young man is Robin “Rocky” Braat.  Rocky grew up in a dysfunctional home, suffered terrible abuse at the hands of his mother’s many boyfriends, got shunted to his grandparents for a few years, and then ended up with his father.  He describes himself as a kid who was so bad in school, he was “marginally retarded.”  When he speaks, he has the slurred, dull cadences of a stoner (although there’s no indication that he is, in fact, a stoner).

Rocky was aimless.  He had a short attention span, and felt that there was nothing for him in Pittsburgh.  He decided for no reason whatsoever to go to India, because he wanted to go someplace “authentic” (although why Pittsburgh, in its own way, isn’t as “authentic” as anyplace else in the world, I do not know).  Once there, Rocky came upon an orphanage.  What makes this orphanage unique is that all of the children and all of the staff have HIV.  Rocky had found his place on this earth.

Although Rocky readily admits that he didn’t like children when he arrived at that orphanage, there was something about the children there that called to him.  Watching the boundless love he feels for them, and the equally boundless love they return to him, is incredibly moving.

The best part of the documentary comes at the end, so you have to stick with it or, if you have it on TiVo, fast forward a bit.  One of the HIV-infected boys, a kid maybe 9 or 10, ends up in the hospital with God knows what.  His skin is a festering, bleeding, peeling mass; his eyes are so crusted and white they look like a corpse’s; he’s coughing his lungs out from tuberculous; and his kidneys are shutting down.  The child looks gangrenous and he’s in an Indian hospital in a remote region where care is minimal and death a certainty.

Rocky cares for that child as if the boy is his own flesh and blood.  Wearing only gloves to product his hands, he bathes the boy’s endless wounds, oils his broken skin, cleans his oozing eyes, and holds him as he cries in pain.  It is an outpouring of selfless love that would make Mother Teresa proud.

It turns out that, when it comes to caring for HIV-infected children in a remote region of India, Rocky is a savant.  Had he stayed in Pittsburgh, he would have been nothing.  If he worked, he would have had a low-level job.  He probably would have drunk too much on weekends, and wasted his days away in a haze of bad television, cheap food, and a kind of nagging existential despair.  Instead, because he wanted something more, he found himself.

One of the blessings of living in America is that so many of us have the opportunity to explore different pathways in life.  Maybe we’ll just have a variety of experiences that we’ll talk about later (and boast about when we’re old).  But for the lucky ones, their travels in America will introduce them to the genius within themselves.

I’ve finally figured out the secret for getting Obama to support Israel *UPDATED*

NewsweekLogo-1 [Converted]Since his first day in office, Obama has both passively and aggressively sought to undermine Israel. Unfortunately, he’s proven to be very good at that, which stands in stark contrast to his administrative ineptitude with Obamacare. Under Obama’s watch, Iran is getting near the nuclear bomb; the idea of a multinational Israel is gaining traction, even though it will probably have the same effect as Iran’s bomb; and Kerry, knowing that Israel is on the ropes now that Obama abandoned her on Iran, is pushing his advantage, to Israel’s disadvantage.

It’s time for Israel to think outside of the box, and I might have figured out a workable strategy. To appreciate this strategy, we need to go for a bit of nation hopping, first to India and then to Russia. The answer to Israel’s survival lies in Obama’s dealings with those two nations.

When you have weak leadership, whether in a business or a country, all the dams break — everything flies apart.  The latest entry in this category is America’s row with India.  America arrested an Indian diplomat, something that always creates a kerfuffle because of diplomatic immunity.  Worse, America treated this diplomat as it would any arrestee, by doing a full body (and body cavity) search.

In the old days, India would have objected strenuously and perhaps sent a few diplomats home.  That was when America was a country to be both feared and respected.

In Obama’s America, however, things are different.  Very, very different:

New Delhi cops used tow trucks and a backhoe to dismantle the American Embassy’s long concrete barriers — which are designed to prevent cars from speeding up to its gates in front of the compound.

In other words, in a nation that’s been subject to its own appalling Muslim attacks, the Indian government just declared open season on the American Embassy.  One assumes that, in doing this, it know precisely how careless Obama’s State Department is when it comes to protecting its outposts overseas.

As the Jews say at Passover, “Dayenu,” meaning “it would have been enough.”  But India wasn’t content to stop there when it came to thumbing its nose at the world’s “super power”:

In other acts of aggression:

  • Several India officials boycotted a scheduled powwow with a US congressional delegation visiting this week.
  • Authorities demanded back special ID cards they issue to US Embassy workers and their families for certain privileges and halted the importing of goods such as alcohol to their commissary.
  • Officials vowed to probe the legal status of household help used by US Embassy workers — and what those employees get paid.
  • One political leader even suggested locking up the domestic partners of gay diplomats in retaliation for Khobragade’s arrest — following a ruling last week from India’s supreme court that essentially made homosexuality there illegal.

If the Indian government had merely removed embassy security, demanded the return of special ID cards, and looked into the legal status of household help, you can be absolutely certain that Obama would have contented himself with issuing one of his government’s mealy-mouthed threats that, at a future date, it will issue threats. (i.e., “The United States is very disturbed about the Indian government’s actions and is contemplating writing a letter of protest in which it promises that, should these actions continue, it will send more letters, with more strenuous protests, including the use of the words ‘dismayed’ and ‘upset’.”)

This time, though, the Indian government went a step too far. Let me explain:

Think about Obama’s past responses to international provocations. Kill a US Diplomat and three other Americans? The Obama government apologizes for the fact that we made videos and then lies about everything else. Go forward with a nuclear program that can destabilize the world and liquidate the Jews? Obama sends money. Use poison gas against thousands of your citizens? The Obama government enters into a partnership with you.

But insult gays? Whoa, Nellie! That’s when the fecal matter hits the fan in the White House. Showing the first sign ever that he possesses functional cojones in international affairs (at least when dealing with any country other than Israel), Obama has taken on the Russian government because of the latter’s wholesale attack against homosexuals:

The White House delivered a strong message of opposition to Russia’s anti-gay laws Tuesday with the announcement of its delegation to the opening ceremony of the Sochi Olympics.

The White House delegation will include an openly gay athlete: tennis great Billie Jean King.

It will not include the president, first lady or the vice president, all who headed the previous four Olympic delegations, or a cabinet secretary, only a former one. This marks the first Olympics since the 2000 Sydney Summer Games that a U.S. president, vice president, first lady or former president has not been a member of the delegation for the opening ceremony, which will be Feb. 7 in Sochi.


Gay rights groups viewed the announcement as a strong statement. Andre Banks, the executive director of All Out, said, “It’s hard to look at this delegation without seeing it as a criticism of Putin’s anti-gay laws. … What it’s doing is showing the true power of the Olympics, the ability to move people, to change people’s minds and open them up to new ways of thinking. The delegation is shining a light on the values of the Olympics.”

You realize, of course, what this means. If Israel wants to gain Obama’s sympathy and have him stand at her side, instead of stabbing her in her back, she better act quickly to change her flag:

Israeli rainbow flag

That ought to make the Obama administration finally “feel the love” for that small democratic Jewish outpost in the middle of the genocidal Muslim world.

UPDATE:  Believe it or not, Pajama Guy should be part of this post.  I showed the tweet to a teenager of my acquaintance asked her if the guy pictured was the type of image that would make her buy a product.  “No,” she said.  “He looks gay.  I don’t have a problem with that, and I’m not talking smack about gays, but I wouldn’t want to buy something just because he’s selling it.”

UPDATE II:  More on the “gays as Obama’s natural constituency” meme.

The other one percent

The OWS people have made much of their pathetic status compared to the “wealthy 1%.” As I’ve mentioned before, this is a completely spurious argument, because it makes the 99% sound like a single homogenous lump all similarly situated to medieval serfs. Nothing could be further from the truth. In America, that 99% is a continuum, with subtle gradations from percentage to percentage.

The one thing America doesn’t have is a true bottom 1%. Yes, we have some homeless people, but they are not an economic block. Most are there because of brain damage, either organically or chemically caused.

This video shows what the real 1% looks like. It follows two young people in rural India with cleft lips and cleft palettes. The poverty is overwhelming and almost incomprehensible — yet there is hope, and love, and gratitude. It is an incredibly uplifting video. As you watch it, please consider something the OWSers don’t know or would prefer to forget: to the extent these damaged children in the bottom 1% in the back of nowhere are being offered normalcy and hope, it is the top 1% in America (plus the “evil” corporations), that provides the money that makes hope happen:

Smile Pinki from asg on Vimeo.

If this video doesn’t show, you can watch it here.

Make new friends, but keep the old . . . .

Make new friends
But keep the old
The one is silver
And the other gold.

Song that every school child in my (and Obama’s) age group learned growing up.

It’s becoming very apparent that Obama either wasn’t paying attention in school or that he is willfully disregarding one of the great pieces of folk wisdom — namely, it’s good to add friends, but very, very stupid to offend them.  I mention this because of a little news item today:

Days before Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is to be welcomed in the White House as the first state visitor hosted by President Obama, two perceived missteps by the Obama administration have Indian officials concerned that New Delhi suddenly has been relegated to the second tier of U.S.-Asian relations.

Obama has pretty much inverted entirely the classic rhyme, since he’s offended our allies and merely amused, in a condescending and dangerous way, our enemies.

India on high alert because of American muslim

This is an important story that’s getting almost no play in the American press:  the Indian government believes that an American Muslim who was arrested in connection with a plan to attack the Jyllands-Posten paper, was not only behind the horrific Mumbai massacre, but was also plotting attacks against Indian nuclear power plants.  The Jawa Report has the details.  I just want to say that it’s a total coincidence that this guy is a Muslim.  He is clearly a walking DSM diagnosis who simply has a compulsion to attack entities and countries he feels are hostile or a threat to Islam.  But really, it has absolutely nothing to do with his understanding of the Prophet’s directives to slaughter any entities or countries that are hostile or a threat to Islam.  And because I know you, I’m shocked that you would even think otherwise.  Shocked.