Cool Stories of the Month – January 2017

Sometimes it feels that all you hear of these days is negative stories, people angry, people in pain, and people bitter with the world. There were a lot of controversial political stories this past month and many stories that just upset us and made us feel maybe  – where is humanity going?  Are we really at this point in 2017? Have we not learnt much from history? But all is not doom and gloom. If there is anything we can learn from history is this – good always wins over evil and love triumphs over hate. The world does come together to eradicate hatred, and we will do that again – of that I have faith, faith in people, faith in humanity. So in that vain of positive thinking, let me share with you a few cool articles and stories I came across this past month in January of 2017.  I found these to be inspirational, educational, fun and hopeful. I hope you enjoy these articles from around the world.

My hope is green. I don’t understand people. (No offense.) I don’t believe I am human. I think a mistake was made. From floweralley.org in North Carolina. If you are sick of current politics like I am,  then you can relate to the feelings of floweralley.org  Check it out!   My hope is green. I have been reading about politics and watching the television. I don’t understand people. (No offense.) I don’t believe I am human. I think a mistake was made.

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Pictures From Women’s Marches on Every Continent. Over 1 million march not including DC!  To all the women, girls, grandmothers, fathers, brothers, mothers, sisters, husbands, and anyone and everyone who marched, kudos to you for marching for common decency, kindness to each other, and global solidarity.

I want to share with you some pics of my niece Maya who drove with her school friends from Philly to DC to take part in this historic Women’s March, and also some pics of my friend Rose who attended the women’s march here in San Jose, California.

My niece Maya at the Women’s March in Washington DC on January 21, 2017 !

Hey Dolly Perima! Here are a few pictures from the march!

This is the metro. We were packed!!

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From Rose in San Jose, California

The Women’s March was pretty inspiring – it was a good mix of young, old, men, women and in between!  I’m glad I went!

National Geographic Special Issue. Gender Revolution.  “The best thing about being a girl is, now I don’t have to pretend to be a boy.” 

img_3150Whether you have daughters, little sisters, nieces or nephews, this issue of National Geographic 2017 Gender Revolution is eye-opening, informative, and gives us a view into how young kids of both genders from all parts of the world view themselves and society around them. Pick up a copy at your local bookstore, grocery store or at the newsstand.

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Barack Obama and Me. NYTimes.com Opinion Page. Read this very warm perspective on President Obama from an unlikely proponent – a working-class conservative white man. “As a working-class, conservative white kid, I was supposed to hate him. Instead, he became a model for my life.”  by  from  Barack Obama and Me. NYTimes.com Opinion Page.

Here’s-how-women-of-different-cultures-react-to-a-compliment. from BBC Travel This is a quick little story with mostly images of how a simple “You are Beautiful” compliment can bring a smile to any woman’s face anywhere in the world, as captured by Turkish photographer Mehmet Genç. Here’s-how-women-of-different-cultures-react-to-a-compliment. from BBC.com

What can Albania Teach Us About Kindness from BBC.com A country that actually wants to aid Syrian refugees and take them in? Now that’s something you don’t hear off these days. Check out this awesome article on little known country Albania and their culture of Besa, which is the custom of not turning anyone or any guest away. The article starts off like this: “At a time when refugees are being turned away at borders all over the world, it seems that there is a lot to learn from Albania’s penchant for hospitality….Albania was one of a few European countries to emerge with a larger Jewish population by the end of WWII than at the start, saving nearly all of its original Jews while offering refuge to more than 2,000 others from surrounding countries. Despite pressure from Italian fascists and occupying Nazi soldiers, Albanians refused to yield their guests, as doing so would not only result in great shame but would bind the master of the house to  “clean the blood”, meaning to take vengeance.”  Read more on the Albanian custom of Besa in this article  What can Albania Teach Us About Kindness from BBC.com

 

Multitasking makes our brain suffer  From BBC Capital “A growing number of researchers say that trying to juggle multiple tasks makes you less productive. It turns out, you get more done when you focus on a single task. That’s because our brains are hardwired to do one thing at a time. When we think we are multi-tasking, we’re really not, Instead, as far as our brains are concerned, we are fully switching back and forth between tasks. Doing that repeatedly tires out the brain and lowers cognitive ability, research shows.” Multitasking makes our brain suffer

Let’s not be divided. Divided people are easier to rule by Trevor Noah. NYTimes.com   This is an awesome opinion page by the host of The Daily Show, Trevor Noah who is from South Africa. He gives his perspective on this crazy election of Trump and how all of us here in America can take a lesson from Nelson Mandela and South Africa.

From Trevor Noah: “The past year has been so polarizing and noxious that even I find myself getting caught up in the extreme grandstanding and vitriol. But with extremes come deadlock and the death of progress. Instead of speaking in measured tones about what unites us, we are screaming at each other about what divides us — which is exactly what authoritarian figures like Mr. Trump want: Divided people are easier to rule. That was, after all, the whole point of apartheid.”  Let’s not be divided. Divided people are easier to rule by Trevor Noah

A drive to see Lexington Reservoir in Los Gatos, California. We drove by our local Lexington Reservoir to see how all the rainfall we have gotten over the last month has filled this reservoir and transformed it into a lake. We have had so much rain this past month in Northern California, that we are officially out of the drought here! Can you believe it?  Our local Lexington Reservoir has never looked like this, ever!

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There is so much water now at the reservoir that the city had to open the dam to release all the excess water to prevent flooding on Hwy 17 that heads over the Santa Cruz Mountains to Santa Cruz. Our historic six- years of drought obliterated by one amazing winter storm of rains and record snowfall in Sierra Nevada Mountains. Nature! Always Unpredictable!

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Do you believe California is more a state of mind, than a state in America? A place where creativity abounds, innovation is king, diversity is the norm, immigrants are welcome, and where nature is embraced and protected? Then you will appreciate these articles that show us what makes California so unique and successful at the same time.

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CALIFORNIA V. TRUMP: THE FIGHT BEGINS FOR HEALTH CARE, IMMIGRATION AND THE FUTURE OF AMERICA. from Newsweek Magazine   “The America you see from the Sierra Nevada foothills, the endlessly fertile farmlands south of Sacramento and the coastal ranges of Santa Barbara is really a very good place to live: efficient, inclusive, optimistic—America 2.0…California’s return to greatness didn’t require border walls or trade wars. Instead of rolling back environmental regulations to curry favor with corporate interests, California has passed the toughest green laws in the nation, the first of them championed by Brown’s predecessor, Republican Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. The state’s citizens have voted in measures to increase taxes, restrict the rights of gun owners and enact criminal justice reforms.”  Read more of this very well analyzed article on California’s road to inclusive success over the last 20 years CALIFORNIA V. TRUMP: THE FIGHT BEGINS FOR HEALTH CARE, IMMIGRATION AND THE FUTURE OF AMERICA. from Newsweek

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Governor Brown Delivers 2017 State of the State Address: “California is Not Turning Back, Not Now, Not Ever”  “California Is Not Turning Back, Not Now, Not Ever.” from Governor Jerry Brown’s State of the State Union Address in Sacramento, California.    In this speech that Governor Jerry Brown gave at his State of the State Address in January 2017 where he is quoted as saying about immigration laws in California: “We may be called upon to defend those laws and defend them we will. Yes, Federal law is supreme and Washington determines immigration policy. And let me be clear: We will defend everybody — every man, woman and child — who has come here for a better life and has contributed to the well-being of our state.”  Read more of Governor Jerry Brown’s speech Governor Brown Delivers 2017 State of the State Address: “California is Not Turning Back, Not Now, Not Ever”

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When Laila Alawa is harassed on Twitter, this Trump voter comes to her rescue. from CNN Technology   This article starts off like this: Laila Alawa is a 25-year-old Muslim woman living in D.C. Troy Pflum is a 49-year-old Lutheran man living in Wisconsin. She’s a moderate who voted for Hillary. He’s a Republican who voted for Trump. But Pflum, a truck driver and jewelry salesman, has become an important Twitter ally to Alawa.  While neither Pflum nor Alawa remember exactly when they first connected, Pflum said it was shortly after the Fort Hood shooting in April 2014. The Fort Hood gunman had pledged support to the leader of ISIS, sparking renewed fears that Muslims in the U.S. would be targeted. Pflum said he was looking for someone, like Alawa, from whom he could learn from about Muslim culture and beliefs.

There’s good people in every group and there’s bad people,” Pflum told CNNTech. “We could become friends, and I figured that I could learn about being a Muslim. I didn’t want to go to Google. I wanted to learn from someone who lives that every day.”

Pflum said he thought the U.S. may need to do a better job vetting, but he doesn’t believe it should be tied to religion. He said knowing Alawa has helped him start to understand what life after 9/11 has been like for a Muslim woman in America.  If people don’t like me, there’s usually a reason. An actual reason. For her, [it can be because of] what’s on her head or because she’s Syrian,” he said. It’s not fair, he added: “She’s awesome.”  Read more of this feel good article of an unlikely Twitter friendship When Laila Alawa is harassed on Twitter, this Trump voter comes to her rescue. from CNN Technology

Tragedy Made Steve Kerr See the World Beyond the Basketball Court from NYTimes.com  With everything that is going on in the news these past two days, let me share with you this article again from Dec. 22. 2016.  Tragedy Made Steve Kerr See the World Beyond the Basketball Court from NYTimes.com  Are you a Warriors basketball fan?  If you are, then you know that a lot of credit can be given to Steve Kerr, the Head Coach of the Warriors basketball team for taking this raw, energetic team of young players and molding them into a stealth winning machine. If one didn’t know Steve Kerr’s family background, he would seem like an unlikely source of understanding on the situation in the Middle East and empathy towards other cultures especially the Muslims of the world. But once you read this article you can see how his family background has played a big part on his outlook on politics, religion, and life in general. Once you read about his childhood and how he was raised, you get a better understanding of his coaching style, which is interspersed with many life lessons for his team. This is a deep and thought-provoking article on a man who seems on the surface like any other sports coach, when in fact his life story is marred by terrorism, family loss, and an international outlook.

This wonderful interview with Steve Kerr, the Golden State Warriors basketball Head Coach is eye-opening, and contrary to what I thought about sports figures – “What does a sports coach know anyway about politics and the world.” This article showed a side of sports that is much deeper than just playing a game, it shows that coaches and players come from different walks of life, circumstances, religious backgrounds and ideology, and they do have opinions that they would like to express on and off the field – and it’s okay for them to do that – it’s their right to freedom of speech.

Steve Kerr has risen to prominence in recent years due to the young and energetic Warriors basketball team he has lead to championships. He has even had the honor of meeting President Obama. Did you every wonder what kind of background Steve Kerr comes from? Would you ever guess that his background is in part rooted in the Middle East? Would you guess that his birthplace is actually Beirut, Lebanon? Would you ever think that Steve Kerr’s Father’s family has been Americans living abroad in the Middle East region for almost 100 years? This article paints a captivating family history, is engaging and enlightening.

 “Put yourself in someone else’s shoes and look at it from a bigger perspective. We live in this complex world of gray areas. Life is so much easier if it could be black and white, good and evil.”  Steve Kerr. 

In the article Kerr gives insights into his life with his father who was the President of the American University in Beirut in Lebanon and who got assassinated during a revolt in Beirut in 1983. Steve talks about his Father’s international life and the fond memories he has of visiting the Middle East as he was growing up. He talks about the Middle East with understanding and openness to the cultures in that region that many of us lack.

To quote Steve Kerr: “It’s really simple to demonize Muslims because of our anger over 9/11, but it’s obviously so much more complex than that. The vast majority of Muslims are peace-loving people, just like the vast majority of Christians and Buddhists and Jews and any other religion. People are people.”

Kerr talks about his experiences growing up in both America and traveling to Lebanon during his formative years and how his Father, Malcolm Kerr was always a true believer in humanity and peace. To quote from the article Malcolm Kerr’s foreword he wrote in a collection of essays called The Arab-Israeli Confrontation of June 1967: An Arab Perspective:  The truly civilized man is marked by empathy…By his recognition that the thought and understanding of men of other cultures may differ sharply from his own, that what seems natural to him may appear grotesque to others.” Malcolm Kerr the President of the American University of Beirut (Father of Steve Kerr, Warriors basketball coach).

There is a lot of discussion this past year about the symbolic protests by sports figures like Colin Kaepernick, the San Francisco 49ers quarterback to not stand for the national anthem over the killing of unarmed black men by police officers. I was one of those Americans who was against Colin Kaepernick for protesting in such a raw manner against the national anthem. But after hearing discussions from both sides, I have come to a better understanding on the issue and the stance taken by Kaepernick – there is no right answer, but I do agree it is every American’s right to dissent if they choose to.  If the Supreme Court can rule that it is okay to burn the American Flag, Colin can choose not to stand for the National Anthem. Among those voicing his opinion on this matter is Steve Kerr in this article: “Doesn’t matter what side you’re on the Kaepernick stuff, you better be disgusted with the things that are happening. I understand people who are offended by his stance. Maybe they have a military family member or maybe they lost someone in a war and maybe that anthem means a lot more to them than someone else. But then you flip it around, and what about nonviolent protests? That’s America. This is what our country is about.”   

Read this outstanding article in its entirety on how Steve Kerr has become the go-to voice in sports on issues of a larger meaning that affect this country. Check it out on NY Times online Tragedy Made Steve Kerr See the World Beyond the Basketball Court from NYTimes.com

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Wild Dogs Attack Innocent Man Let me end this post with this very funny and feel good video with puppies!  We all love puppies!! Wild Dogs Attack Innocent Man

Happy February!
Let’s look forward to the month of love.

3 thoughts on “Cool Stories of the Month – January 2017”

  1. So nice to note that Bhanu’s daughter Maya took part in the Women’s March in Washington DC and dharini and her hubby were in that March too – they could have met and hooked up … Maya has grown into a beautiful young lady …

    Like

  2. Kalpana liked this post very much! I have enough reading material to last me for the month of Feb, thanks to you.
    You know what made me happy reading this article” Bay Area exits historic drought!” Will show this to Vivek! Time to plant all you want!

    Thanks

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha!! I know we gardeners are all thrilled about all this rain!! We can actually enjoy gardening now and feed our plants their well-needed water! Let’s work on that veggie garden Basanthi!

      Like

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