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My Trip to Pecs, Hungary

Anyone who knows me knows I am fascinated by religion. I’m not religious, not in any way, but I love learning about religion and I especially like visiting religious sites. I’ve seen ancient Zoroastrian temples in Kazakhstan, the Registan in Uzbekistan, I’ve been to the Python Temple in Ouidah, Benin, Confucian temples in China,  I’ve seen Voodoo/Catholic ceremonies in Latin America, I’ve seen the Hagia Sophia, Notre Dame, the Hill of Crosses in Lithuania, Newgrange, Ireland, and oh! I could go on and on. This stuff never stops grabbing my attention. 



Recently I decided to take a solo trip to Hungary. While Googling “must see Hungary” I went way, way down a rabbit hole and found a traveler’s blog talking about her visit to an early Christian mausoleum in the Transdanubia region of the country. For those of you not familiar with the geography of Hungary, never fear! I’m here to help. Trans – across, Danube – (the river) so across the river-. Hungary is kinda sorta in the shape of a rectangle. Now, imagine drawing a vertical line right down the middle of it. Now, move that line just a little over to the left. Okay, your line is the Danube river and everything to the left is the region on Transdanubia. They have southern Transdanubia, western Transdanubia, eastern Transdanubia, and northern Transdanubia. The mausoleum is in southern Transdanubia very near to the Croatian border.

A mausoleum from the late Roman Empire??? That is my idea of a vacation destination! I was on my way! I’m currently living in Bratislava, Slovakia and the town is a 6 hour train ride away so I broke it up with a stop in Budapest. I’ll write about that in a separate post. 

So, the mausoleum is in a small town called Pecs. It’s the ancient cultural center of Hungary. Archaeologists trace humans living in the area back 6,000 years ago, those were the Celts. Romans claimed the land and started a city named Sopianae in the 2nd century, the 300s. 

It was shortly after this that Emperor Constantine had his famous dream/vision. What dream was this? Remember, hopefully you remember from middle school social studies class that the Christians haven’t always been the oppressors that they are today. They used to be the oppressed. We’re talking about just a few hundred years after the Jesus guy lived and the stories of his greatness were getting bigger and bigger. The official religion of the Roman empire was polytheistic and you’ve all heard the stories. You know: Jupiter, Mars, Neptune, Vulcan, those guys… and Christians??? They were the weirdos. They were just some freakish cult. But! They gained in popularity over the years and at one point the Emperor, Constantine, was in a war and had a vision. He saw his soldiers fighting under the cross, the sign of Christianity. He made his soldiers paint crosses on their shields and sew crosses on their flags and oh!

They won the battle! I’m sure it had nothing to do with their fighting skills at all, nope, it was a miracle! Jesus saved them! Or… that’s how Constantine saw it. After that he legalized Christianity in the Roman Empire, he banned the persecution of Christians, he even converted to Christianity himself.

After this Christianity spread quickly throughout the empire. It’s called top down spread. We see this all the time. The way I describe it to my students is: When they idolize some movie or pop star and want to dress like them. That’s top down fashion. Or when you start listening to a new type of music just because someone you think is cool likes them. That’s top down thinking. Well, when you convert to a new religion just because your emperor did that’s top down religious  conversion and we see it in history all the time. Lots of people did it. I see this behavior in my own child often. My husband and I are atheists. We’ve taught our teen daughter more about world religions than just about any teen I know but we don’t actually attend any weekly services. Well, I’ve seen my kid make friends with Muslims and suddenly tell me she wants to convert to Islam, then make friends with Christians and tell me she wants to convert to Christianity, then make friends with atheists and suddenly lose all interest in the supernatural, then make friends with a different group of Christians and start talking about converting again. We humans are social creatures. We want to belong. If the group is Christian then we want to be Christian. If the group is Muslim then we want to be Muslim. In the early years of this millennium Christianity was just beginning to become the cool kids’ faith in Rome.   

Christianity became the cool religion to be in the Roman empire by the 4th century.  During that time Sopianae became the provincial capital and a major center for Christianity in the Roman empire. 

This is the time period the mausoleum I saw is from. Archeologists have it placed between the years 370-380 CE. You can clearly see the Christian themes painted on the walls. We have Adam and Eve with the Tree of Knowledge and Daniel in the lion’s den in the forefront. To set the scene for you I was underground. The ancient Romans built these mausoleums underground and then built a small chapel/prayer room over the burial room. The chapel was destroyed likely over a thousand years later during the Ottoman invasion but the mausoleum was left mostly intact. This is so cool to me! I knos some people want to go to the beach or Disney World on vacation but this is my idea or a dream vacation. Give me some obsucre history fact and I’m there! 


Across the street from the mausoleum was a super cool cemetery. It was built as a large burial site but few bodies were found at it. Once again, researchers believe this is due to barbarian invasions. They began building awesome burial sites but then were forced to abandon them when they fell under attack. 

It’s difficult for me to choose my most favorite topics to study. I consider myself a Renaissance person. I love mathematics, and science, and photography, and gardening, and geopolitics, and history, and the list goes on and on. I can’t even limit myself to a certain time period in history. I love it all! I just love learning! Oh! I love learning! But, I guess, I do love learning about death customs around the world. That’s in my top three favorite topics. Death and dying and how different cultures celebrate or commemorate it. So I will absolutely take a 6 hour train ride to visit an almost 1,000 year old mausoleum. I have very few regrets in life, very few, I’m a live life to the fullest kind of woman, but one of the few regrets I do have is missing out on a Tibetan sky burial when we were in Larung Gar. It was difficult to get in and out of and our ride was already on the way when we were told a burial was going to happen. 

Charlemagne arrived in the area in 791 and claimed it for the Holy Roman Empire. Wait. What? Holy Roman Empire?? What the heck is that? Think of everyone’s favorite modern day US politician and his “Make America Great Again” slogan, well ya’ know what? That shit ain’t nuthin’ new. Politicians have been making their land great again for as long as politicians have been politickin’. The Holy Roman Empire is only one example of it. The western part of the Roman Empire had collapsed in 476 and here we were hundreds of years later and new leaders were trying to rebuild it. They were Making Rome Great Again! I could go on a hour long tangent here of all the Make X Greats Agains of history but that’s another post for another time. 

By the 9th century the area was a Frankish vassal state known as Quinque Basilicae, five basilicas. Remember, it was a major center for Christianity. Around the year 1000 the area was settled by Magyars. 

In the year 1009 the Roman Catholic Diocese of Pecs was founded. In 1076 a Benedictine monastery was founded in Pecs. This was during the height of the spread of Benedictine monasteries. By 1181 Pecs had a hospital and in 1238 a Dominican monastery was opened. In 1367 King Louis the Great of Hungary opened the first university of Hungary in Pecs and it still serves as a university today serving around 34,000 students. 

The next big thing was the rise of the Ottomans! In the year 1526 the armies of Suleiman the Magnificent, conquered Pecs. Between 1526 and 1543 there was a whole bunch of political back and forth over who should lead Hungary but in June of 1543 it was clear the Ottomans were in control of Transdanubia. The occupied Pecs and turned it into a proper Ottoman city complete with mosques, Turkish baths, madrasas (Islamic school), and minarets (that tall tower thing Muslims do the call to prayer from). 


When the Ottomans invaded the Hungarians attempted to fight them off from this fort. Parts of it still stand today. It was pretty cool to see. I was most impressed with the round doorways. I’ve seen an awful lot of old fortresses but I don’t remember seeing round doorways before. 


Then, in October of 1686 Louis of Baden, the chief commander of the Habsburg Holy Roman Empire’s Imperial Army, re-conquered Pecs for the Christian world. After nearly 143 years of Muslim rule, Pecs was under Christian rule once again. 

They converted the mosque of Pasha Qasim the Victorious into a Catholic church. I went in for a visit and was not disappointed. First, I’ve been to the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul which was originally an Eastern Orthodox church, then converted to a Catholic church, then a Muslim mosque, then a museum, and now it’s a mosque again. So it was fun for me to see a mosque converted into a Catholic church. They left some of the original Arabic art and writings on the wall. That made me happy. The best part though was the ever so hokey mural they have on the second floor wall. Oh how my grandma would have loved it! It’s a tribute to the Crusades. It’s got triumphant looking Christian crusaders with their red cross banners and a sad looking Muslim. And of course there’s a glorious rainbow over the whole thing! One thing I will never understand about religion is how they can take such a horrific thing as the massacre of almost 2 million people and turn it into a cute painting with a rainbow and slap it on the wall of church. And I’m what? Supposed to be inspired by it? 

What else was cool? Oh yes! I saw this small chapel built in 1697 dedicated to the end of the Black Plague. I went as a kind of last minute type of thing. It was near the fortress ruins and someone told me if you’re there you might as well walk up to this old chapel. It’s pretty. They didn’t bother to tell me it is an active pilgrimage site. I got there and there were ancient people dropping to their knees and crying while I’m just there snapping photos. 


There’s also this beautiful middle ages cathedral built right next to the old Roman empire wall. They have a cute park built next to it. 


Pecs also has the oldest confectionery in Hungary. I was a little surprised by how not fancy it was. It’s been open and serving cakes since 1798. I was really excited to go there. I was unimpressed. 

I ate at this restaurant and encountered one of the nicest people I met in the country. I didn’t catch his name but he was my server and he was lovely. We chatted about atheism and geopolitics while I ate crispy duck with risotto and drank Dictatdor 12 rum. It’s very popular here in this part of Europe. 

Last but not least I stayed in a wellness spa and had no intentions of taking advantage of it. I was there for history after all. But in the end I caved, went to the mall and bought myself a swimsuit, and hopped in the hot tub, and oh my god! I am so glad I did! It was the best hot tub experience of my life. I’ve been in a LOT of hot tubs before and this one was the best. I’d take another 6 hour train ride just for that hot tub. But here’s the real story: I met a terribly rude man while sitting in the hot tub. He was from London and had come to Hungary for the wellness spa with his wife. They hadn’t left the hotel in three days. He asked what brought me there and I said the history. He asked “What history?” and as if you didn’t already know I kinda like history and I got really excited and started telling him all about everything I had seen and then what did he do? He insulted me. He asked “What is with you Americans and your obsession with history? Oh yes, it’s because you don’t have any history of your own. Your country is so young you have to study everyone else’s.” 

At this point there were so many thoughts running through my head. Dude, you do know there are historians all around the world right? There are historians in France. There are historians in China. There are historians in Ghana. There are even historians in England. But do you know what I did? I took some deep breaths and told him I had had a long day and wanted to relax.  If you know me then you know what a big deal this is. It took a lot for me to not argue with him. what a jerk he was. I guess I’m finally learning it’s not worth wasting my breath and losing my chill on arguing with strangers. I gave it up online a few years ago and I’m getting better and better about it IRL. I was on vacation after all! I wasn’t going to let a fool ruin my evening.

End of Year Class Reflections

At the end of the year, I always scare my students and tell them the last test will is going to be really, really hard, but then, what I really do is give them a class reflection. I’m often pleased with them. This year I taught 42 students at level World History and I didn’t get any negative feedback. 20 of them were incredibly positve. Three said this was the best class of their life. I think I might be an okay teacher.

Below is a link to a PDF a about half the “tests” I gave. I got really emotional and cried during two of my classes today. It was dumb, but that’s me.

CamScanner 06-09-2023 14.24


Modern World History Fair

I am a Modern World History teacher and I like to have a History Fair each year I teach, but during my past three years of teaching there’s been a pandemic so I couldn’t have large gatherings. This year I’m back at it! I organized the fair at the international school where I currently work.

My students were hesitant and didn’t understand what a history fair was. In the end, they were all proud of themselves and I think they’ll want the school to do it again next year.

It was a six-week research unit culminating in 42 unique projects. The assignment was open-ended. The students were to choose their own topic out of absolutely anything we’ve studied this year, do their own independent research, and then do a project based on that research. It was an 8-part unit where they learned all the key facets of research:

  1. Choose a topic
  2. Create a research question
  3. Write a thesis
  4. Minimum 6 sources
    1. 3 primary sources
    2. 3 secondary sources
  5. Annotated Bibliography
  6. Outline
  7. Come up with an idea for a project
  8. Submit the project

I was brutal on them during the research part. I knit-picked their research questions, I made them re-write their theses so many times I think some of them were ready to curse me and I drilled the difference in primary sources and secondary sources so many times I think they could teach next year’s class. They’ll never forget how to do an annotated bibliography and I was shocked by how many high school sophomores acted as if they had no idea what an outline was.

I discovered that the French Revolution, Otto von Bismarck, Joseph Stalin, and the Holocaust are what many of my students enjoyed learning about most this year. I’m impressed with the Bismarck thing; I don’t know how many high school students around the world are enthralled with him.

As is always the case some students obviously threw their projects together the day before it was due and it showed, but others turned in phenomenal work. Many people asked me if this was my AP class, nope this was my at-level class.

I had an amazing poem and a podcast written about the French Revolution and a student even made a pop-up book based on fashion during the French Revolution.

One student made an oil painting representing Napoleon’s invasion of Russia and another wrote a metalcore song based on the Opium Wars!

Two students wrote poems about Otto von Bismarck’s realpolitik rule.

This was made about Stalin.

This student made his own Soviet propaganda posters based on World War II.

Three students based their projects on how art changed in the Inter-War Period, the years between World War I and World War II. He made a scaled paper model of the bat bomb!

I had a project on the Russification of Lithuania and I had a student write a historical fiction short story based on the bombing of Nagasaki told through the eyes of a dog!

This is only a taste of the projects. I hope to continue this tradition year after year no matter where I work.

Kazakh Games

Today is Republic Day in Kazakhstan. October 25th, 1990 is the day they declared sovreignty from the Soviet Union. They didn’t actually get their independence until the Soviet Union collapsed a while later in December of 1991 but today’s the day they celebrate claiming sovreignty.

We went to watch the Kazakh Games at the Almaty Hippodrome and it was amazing. First, I’ve been interested in seeing a game of Buzkashi played live since I was 20 years old.  It’s not called Buzkashi here. It’s called kokpar in Kazakhstan but it’s the same game. It’s played all over Central Asia and the name varies region by region.


So, I’m way over simplifying here but it’s kinda played like football but instead of using a ball they use the carcass of a dead goat. We saw a bunch a guys on horseback on the field, then my husband noticed a couple guys with a goat, and then I noticed they were killing it and I said oh my god!!! I bet they’re going to play that game!!! It’s the game I’ve wanted to see played live for years!!!

I took a very short video of the game. You can see the “ball” with the guy on the white horse in the front.

Then we heard this amazing neo-ethnic folk group  perform. Here’s a link to their performance with bonus horses riding by.

Then we watched Audaraspack! Kazakh horseback wrestling! And wow!!! These guys were so cool! I loved it! I took a video and have the link here. 




We’re Going to Help- You Can Too!

I know you’re used to reading about my summer adventures every year. I met my husband almost 13 years ago and we’ve traveled together all summer every summer since then. I always write about our travels, but this year it will be something different.

We’re off to Poland to help Ukranian refugees. We’ve been in touch with several organizations already and we know exactly where to go when we arrive. We also know what’s needed. What do they need most? Luggage and hemostatic bandages. Refugees have no bags for their belongings and donations in Poland are running dry. Fill your old bags and suitcases with bandages and ship them to me! I’ll get them in the right hands.

I’ve set up a GoFundMe and I’m asking you to donate. I promise any dollar you give will go to help. We’ll use it to buy gas, to pay for transport, to buy supplies, to help in any way we can, and I also promise when we leave I will give every unspent dollar to a shelter.


“I have Hitler in My Bag” and another little story from the first 10 days of the school year

We’re a little less than two weeks into the 2021-2022 academic year and I’m already full of stories but it’s been an exhausting day and I just want to share my favorite two.

  1. Last year, the pandemic year, there were a couple students I taught all year but never actually met face to face. I truly bonded with one of them. On the first day of school, after school, he came to my classroom just to meet me in person. He told me it was really important to him. He told me I was the first teacher he had had ever met that truly cared about him and that he learned more from my class than he had ever learned in all his other classes in school in all his life put together. Well, um, that made me feel pretty good. I don’t really know where to go from there. It was the first day of school. I mean, how do I top that? He has continued to visit me every day after school. He wants to talk about nothing but current events in Afghanistan, what my opinions are, and what I think is going to happen next. I love knowing that I have inspired such immense curiosity in a 16 yo kid.
  2. I teach high school juniors AP world history, high school sophomores world history, and 7th graders cultural studies (social studies). This afternoon one of my 12 year old students walked into my classroom, approached my desk, and very gingerly said “Mrs. Givens, I have something to say” I looked at him and was like, um, okay, and he said “I have Hitler in my bag” and I was sure I must have misheard him so I said excuse me? And he repeated “I have Hitler in my bag”. I had no fucking clue what this kid was talking about and I am sure that was all over my face. I said I don’t know what you’re talking about. He pointed to the wall and I said OH!!!!!!!!!!! So, I have a display of World War II leaders on my wall and Hitler was missing. I hadn’t even noticed. The kid said someone must have been playing a joke on him. He swore to me he did not do it. He got home on Friday afternoon, opened his bag, and found Hitler in it, and had been worried all weekend he was going to be in trouble. Poor kid. I think it’s funny. But I did have to lecture the class. It’s not funny to make him worry all weekend but it was funny for a kid to show up at my desk and tell me he had Hitler in his bag. Kids are funny.

I’m Done.

All my life I have always been told I am the friendliest person anyone has ever met. I smile at people, I talk with strangers, I help people even when it is an inconvenience for me. I go out of my way to make people happy. If I know I can do something to make someone else’s life a little easier I always do it. That’s who I am.

People ask me frequently how/why my Chinese is so good after studying so little and I credit it to my personality. I am super friendly and I speak to pretty much everyone I see. I think this is a main reason that I have many experiences in China that lots of others seem to not have. Also, I have not been working so I did not immediately walk into an English speaking environment and an instant circle of friends. When I moved here I spent my days 100% alone while my husband was at work and my daughter was at school. I did not meet my first English speaker for the first 8 months I was here. I was in a sink or swim situation. I was either going to be depressed and crying at home or fucking go out, learn the language, and make friends. Anyone that knows me knows I would choose option B.

It has not served me well. As of today I give up. I refuse to speak to strangers anymore. I will not go out anymore unless it is with the very few people that I know and trust and if any stranger approaches me I very well may tell them to fuck off. It has taken a long time and a LOT of bad experiences to make me, ME, embittered but I am finally there.

I’m not the super friendly, outgoing, smiley, helpful woman that I was two years ago. I’m just not.

I have experiences here that others seem to not have. I have people not believe me, I have people tell me that China is the safest place in the world for women, I have expat women tell me they have never had such experiences here and you know what? Fucking good for you. I’m happy for you. I can already imagine now all the comments I’m going to get saying nothing like that happens/happened to me in China. I have thoughts on why that is:

Most expats I know live in expat bubbles. They only hang out with other expats and the only Chinese people they know are their co-workers and perhaps their co-workers’ friends. They also speak little to no Chinese so they have no clue what strangers are saying to them most of the time. Their Chinese co-workers speak English and are college educated and they base all Chinese people off them. According to Wikipedia 6% of Chinese people speak English and 17% of Chinese people go to college. So they are basing all Chinese people off the maybe 10-15 people they know from the top, top, top tier of society. Sure, maybe they talk to the parents of the kids they teach. You know, the kids whose school tuition is at least 3 x’s higher than the local minimum wage. That’s like a Chinese person going to America and attending Harvard for one semester then basing all Americans off the friends they made there.

I have far more interactions with local people than any of them do. They are at work all day and I’m out talking to people. I talk to 15-20 people a day or more. I stop and have conversations with security guards, I talk to the cashier at the market, I talk to the person next to me on the subway, I talk to the other people that are out walking their dogs while I am walking mine, I talk to the person at the table next me at the coffee shop, I talk to the person in the elevator, I talk to the taxi driver, I talk to the waiter, I talk to the lady doing the awesomely huge cross-stitch I’ve been watching for a year now that sits on the sidewalk every afternoon working on it, I talk to the lady at the cardboard recycling place across the street, I talk to my neighbors. I freakin’ talk to everyone. And my Chinese is pretty decent these days. I can have conversations with these people I speak with.

I have lived in Xi’an, China for 2 years, 3 months, and 7 days. In that time here are a few the experiences I have had:

  1. While standing at a bus stop with my husband a man walked over and groped my ass.
  2. While reaching in my pockets to find money a motorcycle taxi driver grabbed my breast.
  3. While standing in line for a restroom 3 men tried to drag me into a room. Your guess is as good as mine what they planned to do to me in there.
  4. In an elevator a man grabbed my arm with one hand and my breast with his other while pushing me up against the wall.
  5. A man walked straight up to me on a sidewalk and molested my breasts.
  6. While dancing in a club a woman dropped to her knees and began giving me oral sex through my clothes.
  7. A woman jumped on me and began dry humping me and I had to fight her off me.
  8. A woman grabbed my breasts with both hands and refused to let go.
  9. A taxi driver, while I was handing him money through the bars, grabbed my hand and began kissing it while repeatedly begging me to have sex with him.
  10. I have had 6, yes 6, taxi drivers ask me to go to a hotel and have sex with him during his break.

Is ten enough? Naw… let’s just talk about my past 4 days. Friday night I went to a concert at a very small venue. I was there by myself and I was seated on a couch with some people I did not know. I was my normal friendly self and all of a sudden after about half an hour the guy next to me just takes my hand. I was a bit startled and before I could even react he asked me to go home with him. That’s not even where the story ends. When I refused and he left angry his friends seemed shocked I did not take him up on his offer. They told me he was rich, he could do anything he wanted with women, and I should have gone with him. I told them he picked the wrong woman.

Then today, and remember that was Friday and this is Monday, I was feeling a bit lonely because my husband and daughter are in the US for Christmas and I went to a coffee shop. The guy at the table next to me spoke a little English and was thrilled to practice it. My Chinese is way better than his English so we spoke about 75% Chinese 25% English. He was very pleasant and we had a really nice talk. We spoke for about twenty minutes when I told him I was going to go home. That’s when he said…drum roll please… “I can drive you home and we can fuck.” (In English)

And I haven’t even touched on how many people here so frequently call me fat and ugly since I already blogged about that a few months ago. It hasn’t stopped.6055443e0392de0f563187a91882cf92

Am I saying that every single Chinese person I meet is an asshole or a disgusting pig? No. I have met some truly wonderful people here. Am I saying that I have met enough assholes and pigs here to make me, ME, an angry bitter woman that does not even want to talk to people anymore? Yes.

Can these things happen to me anywhere in the world, even the US? Yes! They absolutely could but the fact is they have not. This is my own empirical evidence based on my own personal experiences. I have never had such a high rate of such incidents in my life and I have traveled in over 20 countries. I know it’s not a China and only China problem. I’m not saying that. What I’m saying is these are some of things that have happened to me while living here. Why do I not write more about all the good times I have here? Because none of the good things need to be changed. If we don’t talk about the bad shit that happens in the world how will it ever get better?

Oh! And here’s the best part. I will have more people call me a racist bitch over this blog entry. I wrote about 12 creepy sexual assaults or comments but if I had to come up with a number I would say I have been either assaulted or been told something sexually crude, called fat and told I eat too much, and/or been called ugly somewhere between 300-350 times. And that’s on the low end. I have lived here 827 days. That means that every 2.2 days here I have been assaulted either physically or verbally. I don’t like it here and I am ready to go. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: maybe I’ll hate the next place too! But I sure am ready to give it a try.

Big advantage of the next place: I will be working too! I get the luxury of English speaking all day and the instant friends.




NAFTA, New Balance, TPP, and Trump

I am deeply saddened from all the pro-NAFTA posts I have seen from my otherwise well informed, left leaning friends. Please stop it. You are doing exactly what the other folks do. Just because Trump is against something does not mean you should love it. Life is not that simple.

Absolutely everything out of Trump’s mouth is not wrong. While the things that he says that are wrong are so very, very wrong I could never look past them, some of the stuff he says is alright. Like NAFTA was a bad idea and the TPP is too. Don’t want to trust me? Bernie Sanders is against the TPP as well. So were many of you until all of sudden now when Trump says he is against it many of you have back tracked and are saying maybe TPP isn’t so bad. I mean if Trump is against it then I have to love it, right? WRONG.

Let me guess… you don’t really, and I mean REALLY, even know what NAFTA is right? Outside of the North American Free Trade Agreement and possibly a middle school level explanation a teacher gave you years ago. It’s okay. No one can see you reading this, even me, so you only have to admit it to yourself.

Let me tell you a little about NAFTA:

Corn farmers in the US get government subsidies. That means the US government pays them to grow corn. Mexican farmers do not get paid to grow corn. That means that in small, local markets all over Mexico corn that was grown in the United States and shipped on trucks all the way to Mexico is still cheaper than the corn Jose right down the road grew on his farm. So Jose goes broke because if you’re a poor Mexican you buy the cheap corn.

NAFTA took land away from the indigenous people’s of Mexico and sold it to US corporations. People that had been living on the land for hundreds, even thousands, of years all of a sudden found themselves kicked off their homesteads with nowhere to go. Men in suits came with papers saying this land belongs to us now, built fences, and bull dozed homes. What were the people to do? (Look into the Zapatista movement)

imagesUS corporations, took the indigenous peoples’ land and built factories on it, told them they could then have jobs paying shit in the factory that was on the land their ancestors had lived on since the beginning, the wages are menial, the products are then shipped back to the US (tariff free) and sold at incredible markup to keep the companies getting ever richer.

When people lose their ancestral homes, or lose their farms due to cheaper US foods coming in they often turn to the only thing they can to keep their families alive: crime. Cartels grow, murders grow, kidnappings grow, theft grows, the gun trade grows and more. These gangs are often formed by families that lost their land and lost their livelihood to NAFTA. Most of the drugs are then shipped to the US to be sold to the very people that took away the only way of life they had ever known. So we, the people of the United States, took what was theirs, called it our own, and now blame them for the crime we created.

Others, the ones that don’t turn to crime, may risk their lives to get to the US. They illegally cross the border, to live in the shadows, bust their asses working long hours and living in shit conditions, under the constant fear of being found out and deported and all the while being harassed by the right just so they can send money home to support the families that they used to support with their farm. Their farm they lost because of NAFTA .

And I haven’t even touched on how NAFTA is responsible for the sad state of Flint, Michigan these days. I haven’t mentioned how over one million US jobs have been lost do to NAFTA. And I won’t. You have Google. Go!

tpp_finalNow the TPP is a plan that will do the same things and have all the same effects but on even more countries. New Balance, as a company, is anti-TransPacific Partnership because of the worldwide negative effects it will have. Donald Trump is also anti TPP. When Matthew LeBretton of New Balance said “The Obama administration turned a deaf ear to us, and, frankly, with president-elect Trump, we feel things are going to move in the right direction.” he was not speaking of hate, he was speaking of keeping factories in America. On this topic I agree with Trump and I am not ashamed to admit it. I am anti-NAFTA and I am anti-TPP. It has been a complete PR disaster for them and we, the left, should stand behind them and show them our support.

I will still wear my New Balance shoes and I will wear them proudly. 960x0

Every gun article I saw in 12 hours of one day.

I’ve lived in China a year and a half now and people still ask me almost every day if I miss America. My answer is not really. It’s not that I think China is all that.  It’s just I don’t really miss America. Sure, I miss a few things like clean public restrooms, conversations with strangers, finding clothes that fit, and coffee shops that open before 11AM. And don’t think I’ve forgotten you, I miss some of my friends too but let’s be real we probably talk more now that I’m in China than we did for the 4 years I lived in the hell called Gainesville.

It’s like the gods wanted to remind me of how much I don’t miss America. Yesterday I saw a record amount of gun related stories stream across my Facebook wall. I collected a list. Here is every story I saw in a 12 hour span of one day, January 3, 2016:

Good Guy With Gun Kills Shoots Teen for Ringing Doorbell

Good Guy With Gun Shoots Child in Car

Responsible Gun Owner Shoots 9 Year-Old during New Year’s celebration. 

Responsible Gun Owner Tries to Use Gun as Alarm Clock

Armed Militia Has Taken Over Federal Building

Road Raging Good Guy With Gun Shoots Woman in Head

Student Crashes Car After Being Shot

Open Carry Nut Fatally Shoots His Own Two Toddlers

Man Fatally Shoots Self While Securing Dog to a Chain

Four Dead From Gun Shot Wounds After Arguing Over Laundry

Responsible Gun Owner Mistakes Gun for Wallet, Shoots Self

Gun Discharges in MRI Machine at VA Hospital

US Cops have already killed more since Christmas Than UK Cops Have Killed in the Past 5 Years

Ammosexual Robbed of His Gun at Gunpoint

Man Dies of Stupidity. Puts Gun to Head While Joking. 

Texas Businesses Adapt to Open Carry Law

Man Fatally Shot Inside Fast Food Restaurant

Gun Violence Archives