Friday, September 29, 2006

Darkness Overcomes you

Darkness overcomes you is the title of this painting by shaun tan, from his book "The Red Tree", which is the most brilliant picture book I've ever seen. You can see lots of Shaun's artwork in the picture books section of his web site The Red Tree

world population and calculus

If you click on the photo above, you can see a larger version!. conversely, see the original here at Evidence of Evil. Today I was attempting to work on Calculus while sitting in front of the computer. I had the legitimate excuse for this that I own only a digital copy of both the textbook and the complete solutions manual for the course (as I am awaiting the hard copy textbook to arrive via snail mail). Alas, a problem involving population growth, with, of course, attached graph, distracted me. Off I went to compare the graph in my textbook to the graphs provided by the U.N. and the U.S. and then of course I got sucked in by all the associated paraphanelia. But do you find this disturbing? So 1.2 billion of us live in more developed countries (hereafter MDC), while 5.3 billion of us live in less developed countries (hereafter LDC). Moreover, we in the MDC have .4 births per second among a population of 1.2 billion, while the LDC have 4 (10 times as many!) births per second among a population of at 5.4 billion (only 3.5 times as many) which means that their birth rate per capita is 3 times greater, which means that while we get to continue to wallow in our excessive wealth, they get to continue to fall further into their opressive poverty, if you look at it in terms of resources per capita (if you assume zero sum, which is a rather huge assumption). Still with me?
How about infant deaths per second. We have .003, while they have .2, a rate 66 times greater, and even adjusted for population size, still 20 times greater (for you math whizzes, yes I'm making a lot of largish approximations). That means that for every 1 infant that dies here, 66 die in the developing world.
What steps are we taking to maintain this gargantuan and evil disparity? I think Dr. Paul Farmer would say that whatever the steps are, they are steps that are very institutionalized. The world is set up in such a way that this disparity gets maintained, and as members of the world, we either go along with it, or we are actively fighting it. Hmmmmmm.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Forgiveness and Red Dust

I finally found the perfect storyish (read: postmodern) answer to all the annoying Christians (ok, mostly I mean annoying people in my extended family) who think that forgiveness means something altogether different from what I think it means. So I meant to obtain a movie called ushpizin, recommended by a friend of Megan's. And instead I ended up with a movie called Red Dust, from 2004, which, in my opinion, takes a quintesentially Christian look at the issue of forgiveness in the setting of post apartheid south africa and the truth and reconciliation commission. Best movie I've seen this year by a mile. I highly recommend it. Buy it at amazon here as a used DVD for only US$6.09

Sunday, September 24, 2006

cost of war

Just for those of you who aren't aware of it, please take note of my gnarly new counter on the top right. It's running a javascript based on an algorithim that some brains at the national priorities project came up with to show how much money the U.S. has spent on the Iraq War through the present moment. If you click the link under it, you can visit their website ( and see their comparisons to, for instance, the costs of education, food, etc for just this country. Or for another comparison, Economist Jeffrey Sachs estimates that we could control malaria (Killer of 1.3-3 million annually, mostly among the poor) for a mere $3 billion per year. Try not to stare too long at this counter. When I first saw I it I was sort of mesmerized by it for about a week.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

revolution, slavery, wealth.

Megan's cousin April and her brilliant husband Dave and their 4 excellent children, Taylor, India, Ethan, and the baby came to visit us over the last 24 hours. Very kewl. Dave a part time pastor at Seaforth Baptish Church. For those of you in America, Baptist apparently means something very different in Australia than it does in the usa. Dave is a very emerging church, postmodern type of guy. I think I would be able to cope with the Sunday evening get togethers at his church, which are, from his description, NOT sunday morning churchish.
I'm really excited to attend "You say you want a revolution", a conference by offthemap here in Seattle on November 3 and 4 with keynote speakers Brian Mclaren and George Barna. See here
Heard a story yesterday on NPR about Ota Benga, the pygmy from the Belgian Congo who was purchased as a slave by an American missionary and transported to the US where he ended up on dipslay in the monkey cage of the Bronx Zoo before eventually killing himself while working on a tobacco plantation. All this in the first decade of the 20th century, about 100 years ago. Feeling increasingly guilty about being so filthy rich and having so much leisure in light of conditions in the world. According to Free the Slaves ( there are 27 million people enslaved today, more than at any point in human history. According the U.S. Department of State (see here ) ~700,000 people are trafficked across international borders every year, mostly for the sex industry. 80% of the these are women and girls and up to 50% are minors.
So here's an exercise for you. Open up your local yellow pages, and look under the category of escort services. Then ask yourself how many of the women who work for the companies in this category, many of them paid (or forced with little or no pay) to have sex with lots of guys in your hometown, are among the estimated 14,000 people trafficked into the United States every year?
In light of all this, what the fucking hell am I doing with all the privelege, wealth, education, and so forth that have been lavished upon me? Feels like mostly not a damned thing. Somehow this has to change.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006


God on hatred: "God loves all who hate evil" from Psalm 97:10, The Message.
More evidence that God loves me, since I definitely hate evil (I guess that is to say that God loves the part of me which hates evil). And from my perspective, where is the beginning of evil? Right here. And God I hate it. And I guess God hates it right along with me. Which means, at some level, God feels about me the same way I feel about myself, only he does it better and more wisely and more knowingly and with less fear.
Questions. Is is possible to legitimately hate evil if you start anywhere but "right here"?
See the whole chapter here;&version=65;

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

just leave it blank

I see that I haven't posted anything here in some 6 months. I suppose that means no one will actually ever be checking here again. Ah well.
Latest happenings. I'm over 50 casinos visited in the last 4 months. Very kewl.
Got kicked out of two more casinos just this last week, including receiving my first ever official barring notice.
Have driven or been the passenger in over 13,000 road miles since June 26, including 33 states and Mexico.
Got my official "Husky Card" as an entering freshman student at University of Washington "Go Dawgs".
Good news this week. It appears that perhaps the Lord's Resistance Army is actually going to disband, release all the kidnapped child soldiers, and stop all the atrocities.
Bad news this week. It appears that the government of Thailand is undergoing a military coup.
My beautiful gracious wife very kindly asked me to please attend a sunday morning church service with her. It was actually on a Sunday evening, but you have to realize that I mentally put "Sunday morning church" in quotes whenever I use it, and by it I mean, to put it very simply, a church service that is more like a "typical" "American" "mainstream" Sunday worship service (i.e., boring and irrelevant) and less like a 12 step meeting or an emergent church meeting etc. So I went to Union Church, a church plant of University Presbyterian Church Seattle, part of the PC USA but "We'll, yes, we are officially PCUSA, but we're ... sort of like not really like that" or something along those lines--this in response to my ribbing. I was looking around and thinking "Ok, I'm here because my wife begged me to come, but why are all these other people here?" So I asked a couple of them, but I came to realize later that they were all answering a different question than the one I was asking. So I realized what I really wanted to ask was "What strange series of circumstances, people, and events in your life led you to spend a perfectly good Sunday evenening at a "Sunday morning church" service (within which I would of course have to explain about the quote marks). If I go again, I'll try that question.
Other bits and pieces. I learned how to unethically (although technically not, perhaps, illegally) download complete movies from the internet this week using a technology called "bittorrent" (all one word). first you download and install a bittorrent client, then you use a bittorrent search engine to download a file with mystically point out into the ether somewhere to bits and pieces of the file you want on multiple persons' computers. Then you download and upload that file. All a bit complicated but it works and so tonite my wife and I are watching "My Big Fat Greek Wedding".
What I'm reading. This week I read an article by Dr. Allender with the provocative title "Raping Eve, reflections on war rape, the political process, and Grace" which you can read here and Volume 2, appendix F of the "The Report of the Presidential Commission on the Space Shuttle Challenger Disaster" entitled "Personal Observations on Reliability of Shuttle" by theoretical physicist Richard Feynman (a genius!) which you can read here and I'm also reading "Mountains beyond Mountains" by Tracy Kidder about Dr. Paul Farmer (another genius--see his organization's web site here: ) which is making me want to be more engaged with poverty.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

An exercise in three parts, Part 3.

Part 1 is here.

Part 2 is here.

(If you came to this page first, I would encourage you not to read this, but to go back and do parts 1 and 2 first, before looking at part 3)


Part 3. Now go back to the same line you drew for parts one and two. Make a mark about one centimeter (or about half an inch, if you don't do metric) to the right of the mark you made for where you are right now. Imagine that instead of having whatever amount of time left to live that was indicated by the amount of space between your mark for right now and the right end of the line, instead you only have this centimeter or half inch left to live.

Take a moment to think about the goals that you wrote--the five things you want to accomplish before you die. Do part 2 of the exercise over again--write down 5 things you really want to do before you die, imagining now that you only have the one centimeter or half inch left on your life line. Describe each thing in 1-3 sentences. Take 3-5 minutes to complete part 3 of the exercise, but again, don't stress if it takes you longer or shorter. =)

If you do the exercise, I would *love* to hear how it went, and how it affected you, and so forth. =)