What’s going on in West Papua?

Image via theguardian.com

If you’ve been reading the news lately, you’ve probably seen an article or two about what’s going on in West Papua, Indonesia, but most articles don’t give you the full idea, and not many people know the intense situation which is going on. Anyway, let me give you some background here from indonesiamatters.com if you don’t already know.

So, in the 1800s, there was this island called “New Guinea.” The British took the East half, and the Dutch took the Western half, and then it became a part of the Dutch East Indies. Then, in the ’30s, the former colonies of the Dutch East Indies all became independent except for Western New Guinea. But, in 1952, the Dutch prepared the people, for independence, for this remaining colony, and by the ’60s, the parliament of that part of New Guinea (now called West Papua) was formed, and the country created a national anthem, flag, and national seal.

 

Flag of West Papua via freewestpapua.org

Everything seemed to be going well until in 1962 when the Indonesian government started invading West Papua, and tried to push out the Dutch who were staying in the country, taking care of it before its total independence. The Dutch forces successfully stopped the invasion, but then Indonesia went to the Soviet Union for support, and because of Cold War anxiety, the US government tried to help out the Dutch in West Papua.

In August, later that year, an agreement was reached, in New York, between the Netherlands and Indonesia, where the UN gains custody of West Papua until they hold a vote. But, when the vote actually happened in 1969, it was said to be heavily rigged by the Indonesian government, thus making West Papua a province of Indonesia (two provinces actually).

Via worldpoliticsreview.com

Now, according to a paper put out by the International Association of Genocide Scholars, the people, culture, language, and just overall heritage of West Papua is vastly different from the rest of Indonesia, as they are a Melanesian people, more similar to the many different groups within the bordering country of Papua New Guinea, which is VASTLY different culturally and linguistically from the South East Asian culture of Indonesia. The government is said to be trying to force Indonesian culture on the people of West Papua.

This, to some, would be a reason to secede already, but why should we care? The main reason is the deep seeded oppression which is going on within the West Papua region, as  it is one of the longest running modern day illegal annexations/occupations.

There are intense reports of brutal torture as described by a study in 2015: torture seems to be the unofficial form of governance. It is said that the Indonesian regime is not reluctant to use killing, surveillance, and arbitrary arrest to control the illegally occupied West Papua.

An example of this is when graphic footage was leaked to YouTube in October 2010. There are two separate occurring events which were captured in this footage. The beginning shows eight highlanders forcibly stripped naked in front of two Indonesian army soldiers. And while interrogating these terrified Papuans, and calling them “monyet,” “anjing,” or “bajingan” (monkey, dog, bastard), the soldiers kicked their heads with their edged boots, and hit their heads using their helmets.

The soldiers demanded that they would confess to being members of the OPM, which is an independence movement with the overall goal of freeing West Papua from Indonesian control. The latter half of the footage displays two people, with one having a knife to their throat, and another being burnt on his bare skin by Indonesian army men, as so the men would confess the location of OPM weaponry near their town. It was very public, and many people were forced to bear witness.

This is said to be a very frequent occurrence in West Papua, according to that study. Along with that, terrible Indonesian policies which cause environmental damage such deforestation, severely undermines the foundation for West Papuan society and culture.

Via freewestpapua.org

So, it would be evident to say that independence would be a fair option for these oppressed people of West Papua, and that’s what they are trying to achieve now more than ever. According to theguardian.com other Pacific Islander countries, such as Vanuatu, have shown support for the struggle against the oppression. And according to UNPO (Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization) almost 2 million residents of West Papua have signed a petition (which could have had more signatures if it wasn’t heavily kept away by the Indonesian government), practically begging the UN for equal, and fair independence, and self determination for the West Papuan peoples.

Sadly, according to theguardian.com, the UN denied the petition after all that, and said that it damaged the territorial integrity of Indonesia. I believe this is a violation of equal rights, freedom, and the democracy on which the very principals the UN were supposedly founded on. Though maybe, in the future, brave governments such as Vanuatu may eventually speak out loud enough, and take action. I believe that it is the UN’s duty, as a global peacekeeper, to find, and create justice for the West Papuan peoples, as they deeply deserve it.

Is a burrito a sandwich?

As you may have heard, there’ve been massive arguments about whether or not a hot dog counts as a kind of sandwich, but recently a ceasefire took place between the two passionate sides, as it was officially stated as one by The National Hot Dog and Sausage Council, and with a name like that, you know they mean business.

But now, a hot dog being a sandwich opens up countless opportunities for other food items to be in the threshold of this honorable title. And one of the big contenders of this historic battle, is the humble burrito.

Let’s weigh in the burrito, because for something this important, you need to be in good shape. Anyways, coming in at an average of Chipotle weight, 1 pound and six ounces of pure meat and rice, all the way from the Guanajuato state in central Mexico, it’s covered in carbs but can it take on the Herculean task of being classified as a sandwich? Let’s find out.

So, going on the idea that a hot dog is already a sandwich, as it’s surrounded by bread, we must ask ourselves the daunting question which haunts me as I try and drift off to sleep every single gluten packed night of my life…is a tortilla a kind of bread? And man, oh I did some research, I sure did. I went back into the archives, I unearthed stone tablets of monumental historical knowledge, I needed to make my information reliable, and extraordinary as humanly possible, so I went on lyonbakery.com, aka an Olympian library of gluten-ious facts.

And according to those extraordinarily heroic saints from that website, it’s said that bread, in it’s simplest form, is officially decreed to be a paste of flour and water, cooked over or surrounded by heat. And I don’t know what kind of useless calculus they taught you at Harvard, but according to me, that sounds a heck of a lot like our champ the tortilla here. So, I know what you’re thinking, it’s a done deal right? If a tortilla is a kind of bread, then obviously a burrito is a kind of sandwich?

But you couldn’t be more wrong.

There is one devastating morsel of information we are all forgetting here, it’s that a sandwich has to have an opening; it needs a glorious crevasse rivaling the grand canyon itself in natural beauty, exposing the ingredients of the sandwich to the world almost as if God himself was giving humanity a brief glimpse into heaven above.

And the burrito has no opening, unlike a sandwich of any kind, including the hot dog. A burrito is closed, and it’s just a one and done deal. It’s more or less a shameful sack of delectable ingredients as opposed to a delicate, more pristine and serious sandwich meal.

And thus, the title of the sandwich is just too important to demean it to share the classification with the pathetic loss which is the burrito. I was optimistic at first, but as of now, it seems we may have won the battle, but we lost the war. I’m sorry burrito, we’ll get ’em next time.

Now, as tragic as this tale of woe may seem, there is indeed a silver lining at the end of the rainbow of this gluten packed tale of glory. As some would say; it’s not about the burrito, it’s about the friends you made along the way. That friend being the informative research of that a tortilla is a kind of bread.

Now, with this newfound knowledge, we can now fully state with a clear conscious that a gringas is a sandwich, and has officially, by my sacred decree, has been dubbed thee the noble title of a sandwich.

And if you don’t know what a gringas is, for I have done an expert deep dive into the triple M (Mexican Meal Mythos), and found an official taco encyclopedia of Mexican food in LA) a gringas is a soft flour tortilla filled with cheese, and al pastor, expertly crafted within the great nation of Mexico, along with a sandwich like opening in the side of it making it… a sandwich. Congratulations gringas, you’ve earned your spotlight and solidified your place in the sandwich hall of fame.

 

Should The National Animal change?

When you think America, one of the first images that pops into your head is a majestic bald eagle, as it is heavily advertised as the “all American bird,” and is seen on countless articles of patriotic merchandise. But, what if it changed? It would probably never happen, but here’s why it should.

Image taken from Smithsonian’s National Zoo

First off, how many countries already have an eagle as their national animal? Well, a lot more than you’d think. According to animalsake.com, here’s a list of every single other country that uses some kind of eagle as one of their national animals:

  • Zambia
  • Serbia
  • Russia (has a mythical two headed eagle, but still)
  • Poland
  • Nigeria
  • Mexico
  • Panama
  • Germany
  • Egypt
  • Austria
  • The Philippines
  • And most recently; South Sudan

I dunno, me personally, I think America could use something more unique, more unlike the rest, something that really encompasses what America is, and what it’s all about.

Well, Benjamin Franklin had a pretty good idea, according to history.com, Benjamin Franklin proposed that: as the turkey is a greater “bird of courage” and more “truly American” it should replace the current national animal. And frankly, I agree.

The bald eagle, also isn’t exactly native to America, as it can be seen soaring over many parts of Canada, and bits of Mexico, while the turkey almost exclusively resides within the U.S. of A.

Map of bald eagle distribution across North America, courtesy of Birdsnsa.com

And we don’t even celebrate the bald eagle! Now, if only there was a holiday where we celebrated the greatness of our national animal, or even had a tradition where the president pardons that said animal. Maybe we could call it “Thanksgiving!”

I mean, the pins are all already in a row here. It’s almost meant to be at this point. And I know what you might be thinking, what kind of country eats their national animal? Well, Australia eats kangaroo steaks, so it’s not that out of the ordinary.

So, anyway, that’s why I think we should ditch the eagle, and get with the turkey for our great national animal of the United States.

Toki Pona, the world’s easiest language

As you know, languages have existed pretty much forever. They‘ve obviously changed greatly over time, but one thing about language is consistent throughout the entire world – there are many. There is an estimate of over 6,500 different languages spoken all around the world, thus it’s difficult for everyone in the world to easily communicate. Many countries even have multiple official languages, spoken at a national level by equally large amounts of people. Like in the country of Ethiopia, the languages of Amharic, Tigrinya, Afar, Oromo, Somali, and many others are all spoken on a regular day-to-day basis. And that’s just one country out of over a hundred and ninety.

But what if there was a way we could all communicate using the same means of communication, what if there was a written, and spoken form of communication, that anyone could easily pick up and use? And what if that form of communication was personally tailored to be easily pronounced, and spoken by people of any linguistic background? You’re probably thinking of Esperanto, but no…this isn’t Esperanto, this is better, it’s called Toki Pona! Why is it better? Well, here’s why: According to OxfordDictionaries, Toki Pona was a language created back in 2001, but it wasn’t really used, or even heard of, by a wider population, until in 2014 when Sonja Lang released the book, Toki Pona: The Language of Good. After the book was released, Toki Pona was practiced and spoken on dedicated online chat rooms, and at occasional community meet-ups.

But what even is this language, and why should anybody really care? Well, they should care because Toki Pona is personally crafted to be the easiest, and most realistically potential universal language that could unite the world. And, it’s really easy to learn as the entire language only relies on its 125 root words (and 14 phonemes).

But how does that work? With only 125 words, how would you say…anything? Well, it’s because according to the official book of the language, it’s how you use them. If you were to see a table, you would call it “a table” but what if in your language, there’s an incredibly limited vocabulary, well, then (in Toki Pona’s case) you’d call it a “Four leg wood.” Or, what if you spoke Toki Pona, and ate a hamburger? Hamburger? Don’t you mean “Round meat food?”

Toki Pona is just like that, and it’s surprisingly efficient, as you can add on as many of the root words as you like in order to make the object, or thing you’re describing more efficient. An actual example of this language is the phrase “waso telo” which are the Toki Pona words for “water bird” which means seagull, there’s also “ilo toki” which means “talking tool” which usually refers to a phone. Toki Pona thus heavily relies on context.

Toki Pona also only uses 14 Latin letters which are, “a e i j k l m n o p s t u and w,” but the language also has an official script called Sitelen Pona:

which has a very original design, and somewhat resembles the Ancient Mayan alphabet.

But along with having a Latin alphabet alongside its traditional unique Sitelen Pona, members of the online Toki Pona community have adapted the to Arabic, and Korean script, making it even more easy, and accessible. But for me personally, I think the best way to learn it would be to learn the symbols, because once you learn what those one hundred and twenty five symbols mean, and just get over that hump, that’s it, you’ve learned the entire language, there really aren’t that many rules.

So, anyway, I hope you try and learn about this language, and possibly get a bit closer to us all kind of understanding each other, so goodbye, or in translated Toki Pona: Not hello!