Sunday, December 25, 2011

The true meaning of Christmas

It is that time of year again and the holiday spirit is in the air! Or to be more exact, the lavish Christmas decorations, the Christmas songs and most importantly, the over the top Christmas specials in store after store are not only in the air, but in our faces. 

As far as I am concerned, the Gringe did not steal Christmas and will probably have a hard time achieving that if he tried. What stole Christmas (or any other holiday for that matter) is the overwhelming materialism and greed prevailing in the contemporary world of modern conveniences and constant desire for owning more, and more, and more. 

Personally, I will be spending the holidays around and with my family, with a few friends, and with a lot of delicious and homemade food! 

Merry Christmas all! 

 - Krasi

Tuesday, December 20, 2011


We all need a reality check from time to time. Today, mine came in the form of this video.

A man + $1 = 8 lives changed/affected. Changed in a profound way for at least 3 of these people (a way out of poverty and a chance to return home). He did that by paying attention, listening, and interacting. We can all throw money at the issues but is that really the solution? When was the last time any of us stopped to listen and help someone?

- A

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

A "Bad" Day

Ever since the quarter ended, I have tried really hard to be productive by reading some of the materials for next quarter, tutoring, and cleaning (it was about time on that last one!). However, following the three months of watching depressing films on genocide and human trafficking, I am now spending a lot of time watching all kinds of TV shows. One of the Grey’s Anatomy episodes I recently watched mentioned the theme of having a bad day, or what a bad day truly is, and of course, that got me thinking.

Most people, including me, tend to claim, with somewhat of an ease I might add, that they have had a bad day when their bus is late, when someone spills coffee on the new shirt, when the boss yells at them, or when any other such mundane and quite common occurrence takes place. If we really think about it, however, all of the above together should hardly constitute a bad day. Unfortunately, we realize that the above are not even close to having a bad day only when something really terrible happens. We receive a call that a close friend or relative is seriously injured or was killed in a car accident. We find out that we have been laid off with no prospects for a new job. In those moments, we know what a bad day really is. And we wish the bus was late and that were the only “bad” event for the day. 

My point is, people should seriously reconsider their over-use of the “I am having a really bad day” phrase. Because most of the time, we are just having a regular day with common episodes happening to many of us. Spilling coffee is not a bad day; it is simply just another day. Smile, buy a new coffee or a new shirt, and move on!

 - Krasi

Monday, November 21, 2011


This is how my desk area has looked like for the past several weeks:

Lots of reading and lots of writing are certainly the most devoted companions to every graduate student. What prompted me to write this post, however, is not the level of work required in a graduate school, but the thoughts I caught myself having about wanting the quarter to be over. Who hasn’t had those thoughts? Many people go through their daily lives wishing for work to be over, for school to be over, for the mandatory meeting to be over, for chores to be over, for anything mundane to be over. What we don’t realize is that what we truly ask for is for our lives to pass us by as quickly as possible. As unpleasant as the completion of some activities we engage in might seem, they are not simply a part of our lives; they are our lives, our experiences, and make us the people we are. Consequently, even though it is going to be hard, I am planning to do my best to not wish ‘things’ to be over (even if 'the thing' is a statistics class…:) and would rather enjoy and cherish every little boring happening in my life! Maybe then I'll realize that nothing is as boring as we make it out to be.

A great example of what really happens when we wish for so-deemed unpleasant events and occurrences to be over is the movie Click. Adam Sandler is funny and he presents another full of jokes production, but what makes me love this movie is the underlying message of the danger of wishing our lives away. So if you have not already done so, and even if you have, I encourage you to watch the movie. And what better time to do this than right now:)

- Krasi

Sunday, November 20, 2011


To piggyback on Krasi's post, lets talk about the insidiousness of patriarchy. No insidious does not mean scary or evil a la

Patriarchy is a system wherein all things masculine are preferred and promoted. Regardless of who you are (maybe an independent, successful assertive woman) you are inferior because you don't have masculine characteristics that are deemed superior or if you do have those characteristics then that is unnatural and you're weird. How is it fair if you are viewed as less than by the uncontrollable characteristic of having certain chromosomes? Saying patriarchy is insidious means it is subtle yet powerful. What do I mean when I say that? Let's look at a few examples, shall we?

  • Male sexuality is celebrated but for women can lead to labels like 'slut'
  • Common terms are masculine aka male-as-norm, e.g. God is a 'he', when referring to both genders, he is put first (he/she), 'man up'
  • Social acceptability of toughness and anger in men but not women 
  • Men become distinguished as they get older; women lose beauty and are undesirable
I could go on and on and on. My point in writing this is to elucidate that we are all part of the system, whether we like it or not therefore men are not the problem, the system is of which both women and men are a part of. Since we are all part of the system, we all take on the problem. We learn what is expected of us from the day we're born. That's what I mean when I say insidious: it's a low level hum that is almost imperceptible but has real consequences. What are those consequences:

  • Women are still paid less than men
  • Women are still objectified for their beauty and bodies
  • Ridicule men receive from other men when they act 'feminine' (i.e. show feelings)
  • Routine inclusion of violence against women in TV and film
So what do we do? First we accept that we're a part of it. Second, we become aware of our participation in it which most simply begins with our words: sexist jokes, words like bitch, crone, and witch. You may be viewed as 'oversensitive' (I know I have!) but as part of the system, we can change it.


Feminist Majority Foundation

Equality Now

What do you folks think? Patriarchy? Do you feel it's insidious?

- A

Monday, November 14, 2011

Men Reign Superior Again...

It is the week of finals and as I am studiously trying to finish my paper on genocide, one interesting topic emerges. I have mentioned it previously, but I am going to provide more detail in this post. The topic refers to the established commonality between all genocidal murderers and that is that they all possess the gene of a killer and that particular gene is the Y chromosome. Yes, the really talented genocidal killers have all been men. As if it is not already hard enough to be a woman, but in the field of mass murder, men reign superior once again.

Throughout history, women have not been used as soldiers and only in recent years, some countries have become more welcoming. They are considered the weaker gender and as such, they cannot be trusted with the important task of being a soldier defending the country. Furthermore, men who refuse to participate in mass murder actions are labeled as cowards and become the targets of jokes and verbal attacks. Therefore, in a twisted and perverse way, those who agree to slaughter innocent women, men, and children are marked as brave and honorable while those who refuse to do so are deemed as weak and cowardly. This, consequently, only goes to prove ChristopherBrowning’s idea that ordinary people are the ones committing evil acts. What is even more disturbing than the ease with which ordinary people commit atrocious acts is the general acceptance of such acts and the excuse that they are normal and necessary in the fight of some global evil. The acceptance of a deviant and aberrant behavior as necessary is just as evil as actually exhibiting it. This is the ordinary and banal world we live in: to kill is courageous; to choose not to is pusillanimous. This is exactly what Hitler believed; in his opinion, if apes could kill outsiders or ‘the other’, why would not humans be able to do it? As if killing is some form of a higher achievement one must be proud of.

Personally, if I have to choose, I am going with the cowards and that is my final answer!

-       Krasi

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Denver Film Festival

It is almost the end of the quarter and instead of thinking about the two 25-page papers I have to write and the upcoming statistics final, I am mostly concerned about the number of films I can go and see at the DenverFilm Festival. What can I say? It is not my fault the event is taking place right before finals! 

As a film fanatic and a budding human rights advocate, I have chosen two films I definitely plan to go and see. One is about the extent of human trafficking in Eastern Europe and the other one is about a journalist who was not afraid to fight for what she believed in and consequently paid the ultimate price. Even though I have not yet seen any of the aforementioned films, I highly recommend them to anyone with a sliver of interest in human rights. 

The Price of Sex

A Bitter Taste of Freedom

- Krasi

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Slavery Footprint

If you have not already come to the realization that slavery is not at all an issue of the past, here I am to remind you yet again! Modern-day slavery is a multi-variable issue and it will take a concerted effort from all of us to resolve it. As much as I would not like it to be so, each person, including me, is to one degree or another contributing to the maintenance of modern-day slavery. For example, I just found out that 29 slaves work for me! And I thought I am pretty cognizant about what I use and buy. Anyway, if you want to find out how many slaves work for you, please visit

Please share your results, especially if your number is higher than mine so that I can feel better...

-       Krasi

Sunday, October 30, 2011

First Snow

What time is it? It’s a dose of positive booster time! And who does not need one every now and then? To survive in the contemporary world of constant bombardment with a variety of social, economical, political, and cultural issues, one needs to find a refuge in the little things that make life worth it.

One such event for me has always been the first snow of the winter. I don’t know what it is, but it doesn’t matter how old I get, the first snow always brings back memories of happiness and excitement that lift my spirits. The best moment is when the snow falls during the night and before people start moving in the morning, the scene outside looks as if it came out of a fairytale. Regardless of what the area resembles under normal circumstances, covered in a thick layer of snow, it just looks amazing.

Then, of course, students start moving about and the snow fights begin. The winter wonderland has now turned into a snow war zone! 

For those of you who do not have the luxury of experiencing such a profound moment, here are some pictures to make you feel jealous... or happy:). I am sure there will be more coming up soon. I have to post at least one of a snowman: the ideal product of team work, creative minds, and frozen hands...

         - Krasi

Friday, October 28, 2011

No Apple A Day For Me

Oops! It has been a while hasn't it? Sorry folks. Moving to another state and starting school will do that to you. Obviously Krasi has been adjusting better than I as she has posted. (Thanks for making me look bad Krasi, booooo).

Don't worry friends, I may have been absent from the blog but I didn't give up on my fair trade, ethical consumerism, making people feel bad if they buy Apple products self ;). In fact, my Apple dislike has grown. Every time I hear someone waxing philosophical about Apple my eyes glaze over and I think 'real original'. I think my dislike of Apple is 70% their lack of ethics and 30% I hate to participate in mass trends. Maybe that can translate into a Halloween costume. I can see it now: a wolf in Apple clothing.

Anyhow, exciting news: there is an Amnesty International group in Raleigh! Wahoo! It took me a while to find them (no online presence...why is that?!) but I'm so glad I won't have to start one. I already have too much going on.

I'll also be attending the AI Southern regional conference in Charlotte Nov. 4-6.

Can't wait to meet fellow activists in NC! I'm sure they're super nice, ethical, and Apple unenthusiasts as well. I'll forgive 'em even if they aren't...there's always time to bring them over to my side ;)
Anyone have exciting plans this weekend? For Halloween?

Have a great weekend everyone!

- A

Wednesday, October 26, 2011


What would you do if you see a person struggling to lift a big suitcase off the luggage belt at an airport? The answer to this question depends on many variables including, but definitely not limited to, your level of distraction (Are you focused on spotting your own suitcase and worried about lifting it?) or your physical ability (Maybe you have a really bad back and should not lift heavy items.). One element, however, that invariably determines whether one will help the struggling individual or not is the capacity to feel empathy. 

Empathy has been defined as the ability to feel another person’s frustrations, experiences, and emotions.  In addition, if individuals are able to grasp the frustration of the person in front of them, they will be more likely to assist him/her as they can understand the suffering (or, to use the above example, they can understand the frustration of trying to lift a heavy suitcase off a moving belt). The idea is that you will not analyze the situation strictly from your point of view, but rather, you are able to consider the feelings of the person in front of you. 

In his book The Science of Evil, Simon Baron-Cohen discusses the idea of empathy and proposes that all humans are on a continuum and fall anywhere between having no empathy and having a lot of it. What I find even more fascinating is the idea that where a person places along the continuum depends on a host of environmental, social, and cultural contexts. As such, only very few people have zero empathy or too much empathy. Most people fall in the middle and their behavior is not necessarily consistent across situations. A good example, of course, is the one of the doctors in Nazi Germany who, despite the commitment to caring for others, performed experiments on a certain fraction of the population which hurt, tortured and, in many cases, killed them.  Baron-Cohen further examines the idea of empathy erosion or the process by which a person could lose his or her empathy. 

Personally, I believe that a person’s ability to observe the world from different perspectives is increased as the person becomes culturally educated, i.e. she or he becomes familiar with and understands diverse cultures and a spate of points of views. For the record, becoming familiar with an idea does not imply acceptance of that idea, but it does lead to better understanding of the person with that idea. The importance of culture learning (not sure if this is a term but I am using it!) will be discussed in an upcoming post so look forward to it. 

What is your opinion on empathy or do you even care?:)

-          Krasi

Friday, October 21, 2011

Are Evil People Really Evil?

 As promised in my last post, and I try to always keep my promises, one of the topics I am interested in writing about is the nature of evil. There are several intriguing sub-topics under the quite capacious umbrella of evil, and I have decided to begin with the one about the reasons behind massive evil acts and those who become members of groups whose goal is to commit an evil act. 

I was more than intrigued by this issue in a class on Genocide that I have the privilege of taking this quarter at the University of Denver. Despite the fact that the volume of reading assignments is larger than any person can physically cover, the topic is so fascinating that I have no choice but to forsake the goal of eight hours of sleep per night. Temporarily that is. 

Who, then, are the people engaging in evil acts on a large scale and why do they do it? Some have argued that the majority of people are followers who simply conform to the order of a select few elites with strong murderous instincts. This theory suggests that a small cohort of men (no women here and on that I shall have a post in the future) with hate agendas manage to convince a whole nation to comply with their ambition to annihilate an established enemy.  Others emphasize that evilness or the desire and willingness to commit a mass murder is embedded in certain cultures. As such, mass killing can only be the result of a specific culture that for one reason or another has the desire for evil. The proponents of that theory persist that the Holocaust could have only happened in Germany because this is what German culture was at that time. 

The theory that I find the most shocking and thought-provoking, however, is the one that claims that it is not a special kind of person that becomes a mass murderer and commits genocide. Rather, most who did, and still do by the way, are ordinary people who under normal circumstances will live quite ordinary and mundane lives. Now how is that for an inspiration? Under the ideal conditions, each one of us can participate in genocide. I am sure that many people will be outraged by such a claim and I can understand the reason. It is quite comforting to believe that those we see as monsters are separate and different from us and by all means, they cannot be referred to as humans. It is easier to hate them and banish them that way. Much evidence suggests, however, that even if some of the ones who committed a genocidal act enjoyed it very much, most despised the action and thought it wrong, but participated anyway. 

Here it is important to note that labeling those who commit evil acts “ordinary people” and finding possible explanations for their behavior do not excuse the nature of what took place. Whether they hated it or not, the fact is, they did it and should be prosecuted for their actions. The answer to their believed inherent evilness, however, is certainly not a simple or a warmth-inducing one. 

-          Krasi

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

In Denver

Wow! It’s been almost two months since I made an appearance on this blog. Contrary to popular belief, I did not spend a really long vacation in an exotic location, away from civilization, and forget about the woes of the world:) As you might remember, I was set to move to Denver and begin a program in International Human Rights at the Josef Korbel School of International Studies

Well, I have arrived and I have been nothing but productive since I first set foot in Denver. The drive itself from Houston to Denver was quite the adventure: it took me fourteen hours just to leave Texas! The move into the apartment was relatively uneventful (if you do not count the neighbor from above trying to flood me as I was moving in!). And then the quarter began and I have not had a dull minute since. Activities, both academic and fun, abound and my goal has been to take advantage of as many opportunities as possible. Hey, I did not drive fourteen hours through Texas just to come here and sit around!

Most of my time is spent reading about and watching films on Genocide and Human Trafficking. The classes are intense and the subject even more so, but knowledge is power, right, so I do not have any intention to terminate this quest now.  I am also set to solidify my Spanish, German, and Russian-speaking abilities and with the help of RosettaStone and the DU language center, I might just do that. Not to mention that I actually have fellow-students to practice these languages with. This has been by far the most amazing aspect of the university and the program. The other students are from or have been all over the world, countries I didn’t even know were countries! Even without classes, just listening to their experiences I feel that I am gaining a whole new perspective of the world and the many troubles people of various backgrounds are placing it in. It is true, then. There is no better way to learn about the world and disparate cultures than actually traveling and exploring. 

As expected, I will have an interesting segment on the importance of culture-learning coming up. Also, there will be a couple, or maybe more, posts on the nature of evil, those committing evil acts, and empathy. Before we begin with the somber topics, I decided to lighten up the mood a little and include some photos of the magnificent areas around Denver where one can relax, breathe in fresh, crisp air, and be one with nature. Rocky Mountains, here I come!

     - Krasi

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Ten Years

Ten years ago today I was on my way to my first college class. Bright eyed and bushy tailed, I turned on the radio to jam to some music on the commute in to college. The next 45 minutes, as I listened in horror, the world as we knew it changed. One senseless and vile act took so many lives. I wish that was where it had ended; wasn't that suffering enough? One act shook the world and apparently our moral compass leading us to do some not so great things, leading them to keep on with their mantra of hatred, causing us to....and so we go round and round. I hope in the next decade we can move towards peace.

 'Oh peace train take this country...come take me home again'

Peace for the 2,977 men and women killed 9/11/2001.

- A

Monday, August 22, 2011


Ah fast fashion. You allow the average person the opportunity to wear the latest trends at a reasonable price but at what cost to the greater good? I've written about Forever 21's unethical practices and it seems that another fast fashion retailer is now being investigated.

Zara, a Spanish company, is being investigated by Brazilian authorities after being tipped off about alleged slave labor practices. Different company, same structure/policies/pressure as other fast fashion retailers (see: Forever21). You can read all about it on Forbes.

Have you ever shopped at Zara? I've been in one but didn't buy anything at the time and now don't intend to until the investigation is complete.

- A

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Fugue State

Hello there! Remember me? I apologize for my disappearance this past month. To rejog your memory, I was last planning a move to North Carolina. Well, mission accomplished and here I am in Raleigh, NC! The 1,200 + mile road trip was uneventful (read: boring). For your benefit, some things I learned planning this move:

1. When traveling with family, make sure to stay in a hotel with a free breakfast. Trying to wrangle up a group of tired and hungry folks to go 'out' for breakfast is not fun.

2. Snacks are ESSENTIAL but when the bags of snacks outnumber the folks in the car, you may have gone overboard.

3. Saving money is great. Saving money by parking your car overnight in a public parking lot rather than the $25 hotel parking and then staying up all night worrying about your car...maybe not worth it? (Although, what is up with hotels charging double digits for parking?!!)

4. Double check the address you put in your GPS....if not, you may just end up at a private residence, thinking 'is the Target in there???'

Did I miss anything? Anybody else out there that has moved out of state?

- A

Domestic Violence Awareness Month

In observance of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, The Bridge Over Troubled Waters will host its
6th Annual Men’s Walk Against Violence

October 1, 2011
8:30 a.m.— 12 p.m.

The walk will last approximately 20 minutes, followed by fun activities for the family!  We’re still in the planning process, but we are intending on having a moonwalk, face painting, hot dogs, soda and more. This is a wonderful opportunity to spend time with your family while showing your children & our community we can unite as one to take a stand against domestic violence. One step at a time, we can influence the norms that allow domestic violence to occur.  

Kelly Crittenden
713.472.0753 ext 233

 - Krasi

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The Whistleblower

Ready for another great movie based on a true story about a woman who stands for what’s right and fights for justice for those who have no one else to rely on? Well, the Whistleblower should be your next pick. I am greatly interested in seeing the movie and will do so as soon as I find out where it’s showing. Or I might just have to wait for the DVD (which I don’t want to do). 

Women like UN policewoman Kathryn Bolkovac inspire me and their stories convince me that if one person can do so much damage to traffickers, if everyone joins, modern-day slavery will surely be eradicated. 

For more on the story behind the movie: An Ordinary Woman Doing Extraordinary Things

 - Krasi

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Human Trafficking Awareness Month

Well, I might be getting ready to leave Houston, but modern-day slavery is still around and great advocacy organizations, such as the Human Rescue and Restore Coalition, continue to spread information on the topic and I would certainly encourage any of you in the area to get involved. The following is obtained from the HRRC website.  

The month of September will be human trafficking awareness month in Houston, TX. Houston Rescue and Restore Coalition will host a series of awareness events and training under this year’s theme “I Fight for Freedom.” HRRC strives to spread advocacy and education on the issue of human trafficking and hosts events that provide the opportunity to explore the different way in which each one of us can fight for freedom in our everyday lives. A list of the scheduled events is provided below. For more information, please visit

Human Trafficking Awareness Month Press Conference
Where: Rotunda of City Hall, 901 Bagby, Houston, TX 77002
When: August 30th, 10am
Who: All are welcome
How: No registration necessary
Various advocates from across the city and from different sections will speak about human trafficking specifically as it occurs in Houston and what has been done to combat the nefarious practice. HRRC will be receiving a proclamation signed by the Mayor of Houston officially declaring the month of September as Human Trafficking Awareness Month.
Big Dipper Dash 5K Fun Run/Walk
Where: Tom Bass Regional Park, Pavilion 2, 3452 Fellows Road, Houston, TX 77047
When: September 10th, 6pm
Who: All ages welcome!
How: Race fees vary; register online or on the day of race
For the active bunch, HRRC will start the Human Trafficking Awareness Month with the 5K run/walk that pays homage to the way slaves in the past escaped North by following the stars, like the Big Dipper.

Human Trafficking Film Series
Every Tuesday in September, at various locations
Each evening will highlight a different aspect of trafficking through various films, special guest speakers, and calls to action.

Faith and Freedom Weekend
When: September 15th-19th weekend
Join HRRC as the organization unites all faith communities in the fight against modern-day slavery.

  Fair Trade Scavenger Hunt
What: Search the Houston area for fair trade products and raise awareness about the availability of such items in Houston
Where: Those who register will receive a list of locations on September 19 and will be asked to visit those retailers and itemize what fair trade items they do have and how many.
When: September 19

Texas Abolitionist Workshop
What: An opportunity to acquire tools and resources to establish an anti-human trafficking coalition
Where: Christ Church Cathedral, 1117 Texas Ave, Houston, TX 77002
When: September 24, 2011, 9am-5pm
Who: Participants should have a basic understanding of human trafficking before attending.

I Shop for Freedom
What: Learn more about fair trade and support your favorite fair trade vendors.
Where: The Meeting Room at St. Dominic’s Village, 6501 Almeda Rd., Houston, TX 77021
When: September 25, 2011, 3-5:30pm
Who: All welcome!

Needless to say, HRRC needs volunteers to help with organizing and executing all these events. Please contact for additional information.
Fair Trade Scavenger Hunt
What: Search the Houston area for fair trade products and raise awareness about the availability of such items in Houston
Where: Those who register will receive a list of locations on September 19 and will be asked to visit those retailers and itemize what fair trade items they do have and how many.
When: September 19

Texas Abolitionist Workshop
What: An opportunity to acquire tools and resources to establish an anti-human trafficking coalition
Where: Christ Church Cathedral, 1117 Texas Ave, Houston, TX 77002
When: September 24, 2011, 9am-5pm
Who: Participants should have a basic understanding of human trafficking before attending.

I Shop for Freedom
What: Learn more about fair trade and support your favorite fair trade vendors.
Where: The Meeting Room at St. Dominic’s Village, 6501 Almeda Rd., Houston, TX 77021
When: September 25, 2011, 3-5:30pm
Who: All welcome!

Needless to say, HRRC needs volunteers to help with organizing and executing all these events. Please contact for additional information.

- Krasi