Thursday, November 29, 2007

Hooray for the Chinese

I think the Chinese made a great call in recently refusing to let the U.S. "Carrier Strike Group", the U.S. Kitty Hawk and 8 associated ships, to enter Hong Kong.

I mean after all what *is* a U.S. Carrier Strike Group, anyway? It's the world's largest mobile death and mayhem machine. It's the largest mobile death and mayhem machine in recorded history. I wouldn't let them enter my port either.

And I bet Jesus wouldn't either.

from bomb iran to love and compassion

John McCain on YouTube on Wednesday evening:

“We need to sit down as Americans and recognize these are God’s children as well,” he said, “and they need some protections under the law, and they need some of our love and compassion.”


John McCain at a Vets meeting in April:

Bomb bomb bomb, bomb bomb Iran. What's that going to offend? The Iranians?


The last time a republican presidential candidate talked about compassion, he ended up leading us into a $1.6 trillion dollar bomb iraq and afghanistan SNAFU.

You know what's *really* frightening? The possibility that, what with rigged voting machines, intervention by the supreme court, and the fact that the Constitution is all but already suspended, John McCain actually *could* become the next president. And since Americans seem to have pretty much lost the art of mass demonstration, public protest, and so forth, probably no one will do squat about it.

Lessons from the Bible


From 2 Kings 2:23. From here. H/T Jim

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Yesterday

Wednesday:
Bahgdad: US forces fire on minibus, kill 4,
Shaab; US patrol fires on civilian vehicles, kills 2,

I'm a bus rider myself.

Iraq: U.S. forces have killed 75 cvilians in Iraq so far in November, including 2 children.

The American populace continues to more or less not give a flying rat's ass.

Can someone please explain to me how the president of the U.S. can be attending so called "peace talks" in the middle east at the same time during which he is commander in chief of soldiers of an occupying army which is killing civilians in the middle east? I don't get that.

Monday, November 26, 2007

the vicar of dibley

is amazingly funny and watchable.


books I haven't read which I think you should buy


Oh, and definitely try to get to the Deep Shift/Everything Must Change Conference early next year. coming to

* Boise
* Charlotte
* Chicago
* Dallas
* Goshen, IN
* Kansas City
* NYC
* San Diego
* Seattle (HOORAY!)
* St. Petersburg, FL
* Washington, DC

It might even be worth the associated global warming to *fly* if none of these cities are close enough. Maybe.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

semi irregular weekly iraq roundup

Subtitled: What your U.S.$6.6 Billion bought you in Iraq this week. (yes, I know, the price has gone up. But it's 241 weeks since we invaded, and now a congressional panel has determined that the final cost of the war will reach $1.6 Trillion. so 1.6 Trillion divided by 241 weeks works out to ... tada--6.6 billion dollars this week)(that's $22 each for every single american this week. or $88 for a family of four) (or enough to double the entire weekly salary of the poorest billion people on the planet) (and enough to double it again next week, and so forth) ( I think think of a bunch of better things to do with our $88 bucks than help continue a situation where 306 civilians get murdered. hey--but all in all, that's pretty cheap, actually. where else could you get 306 civlians murdered for only $88? Oh, wait--that's per each of "us". I guess the cost per death works out to ... 21 million dollars each. Ouch. Maybe we should have given the money directly to the terrorists. I bet they can kill civilians more cheaply than that. by a mile.)

Okay, by show of hands, how many still think we need more western troops in Iraq? Or that given enough time, we can fix the problem we've created by staying there and doing what we've been doing, only harder? Yes, George, I mean apart from you.

From Iraq body count:

Sunday 25 November: 36 dead

Baghdad: car bombs, roadside bombs kill 18 in Bab al-Muatham, Waziriya, Rostomiya, Rusafa; 5 bodies.
Baquba: gunmen open fire on car, kill 3 members of the same family.
Basra: gunmen kill civilian; 3 bodies.
Mandali: gunmen shoot 2 borthers.

Saturday 24 November: 17 dead

Baghdad: 4 bodies.
Falluja: 2 bodies.
Mosul: roadside bomb kills policeman; 2 bodies -a university student and her mother.
Samarra: car bomb kills 3 policemen.
Hilla: 2 worshippers shot dead outisde mosque.
Tuz Khurmato: body found.
Wajihia: body found.

Friday 23 November: 74 dead

Baghdad: bomb in pet market kills 15; 6 bodies.
Mosul: car bombs hits police patrols, kill 21; 7 bodies.
Jalawla: school guard and wife beheaded in front of their children by relatives critical of their 'western' ways.
Kut: 2 killed in separate attacks; 8 bodies.
Dhuluiya: 3 bodies.
Najaf: body of 17-year-old is found.

Thursday 22 November: 48 dead

Baghdad: 4 bodies.
Hawr Rijab: up to 18 'Awakening' Council guards reported killed in attack by gunmen.
Baquba: 3 village residents killed in attacks by gunmen on two villages.
Abu Saida: 8 residents killed during clashes with militants.
Mosul: car bomb kills 2; roadside bomb kills policeman; decapitated body of University lecturer from Tikrit is found.
Kirkuk: member of municipal council is shot dead; decapitated body found.
Basra: 2 shot dead.

Wednesday 21 November: 67 dead

Baghdad: gunmen kill interior ministry secretary; 9 bodies found, 6 in mass grave in back garden in Saidiya.
Ramadi: suicide car bomb kills 6; mass grave is found, containing 40 bodies.
Hawija: US forces raid house, kill 4 peasants from the same family.
Baquba: 3 bodies.
Mosul: 2 bodies.

Tuesday 20 November: 31 dead

Baghdad: 6 killed in separate incidents, Mansour, Atifiya, Bayaa; 6 bodies.
Zighania: gunmen attack home, kill 3 brothers.
Dhuluiya: 3 bodies.
Basra: 4 bodies.

Monday 19 November: 40 dead

Baghdad: roadside bomb kills 1, Baladiyat; 3 bodies.
Basra: mother and 5 children are killed when a rocket hits their house; body found.
Baquba: gunmen attack police station, kill 3 policemen; 3 bodies.
Falluja: 3 killed by car bomb.
Samarra: 4 bodies.
Tikrit: 5 bodies of policemen found.

a great reason

not to vote for mitt romney. referring to Obama's explanation that yes, he inhaled--that was the point, while talking honestly about the stupidity of his use of drugs as a young man, Romney said:

I agree with the sentiment that nobody's perfect and most of us, if not all of us, in our youthful years have engaged in various indiscretions we wouldn't want to have paraded in the front of a newspaper," the former Massachusetts governor said in New Hampshire. "On the other hand if we're running for president, I think it's important for us not to go into details about the weaknesses and our own failings as young people for the concern that we open kids thinking that it's ok for them.


wow. talk about yotta bullshit. I bet the right just eats that up. Yum. God it would suck to be his kids.

poetry

is truth, sometimes. h/t compassioninpolitics

anonymous

"Anonymous" recently posted this response to my post "the myth of veterans day". My first reaction was a bit of reminiscence. I remember when I used to have an attitude like this. And when I used to be too afraid, in general, to attach my name to such comments. My response follows anonymous' comments.

Anonymous said...

You are a really young, naive child. You haven't a clue what the entire world is all about. If you ever get a chance to visit any foreign country and see what life is like there because they have allowed mad, evil men to infiltrate their country, then you will see what it would be like if any of them enter this country. It is not pretty. The fact that you can say what you want is unbelievable and precious. It is a shame you don't know what you are talking about. Yes, some things you say are true. It can be about the wrong reasons. Sometimes it is about being "King of the Hill". Wars have been waged throughout history and no one, absolutely no one likes them really. But, pay close attention to the world around you right now and watch the slow move towards stopping our military. The insidious internet which perpetuates that what we do and who we are is bad. When peace looks good, you should know that somewhere in the world some crazed idiot is going to try to change all that and we start all over again. Freedom to any one country will come at some cost. That is not something that the USA alone is responsible for. We are not the enemy. Innocents always die. People die. I will die, you will die. How we die is not always up to us and yet, how we live is. Honor veterans because they are doing what they are because they believe it will serve a greater purpose. Freedom and peace for all. We want the whole world to live in the same kind of grandiose world we live in here in this country. Everyone in this world deserves a chance to prosper and educate themselves. When some buttwipe wants to take that away from them and they say to us: "Help us." are you asking us to say "No, we can't because some sniveling kids who don't know what they are talking about don't want us to help you?" And there is not one country in this whole world who has not asked us to help them in some form or another. You just don't get to hear all that. But I have. I served. I'm a female VietNam veteran who will fight to the death that my grandchildren remain free and can visit their friends in foreign countries without fear of terrorism. Myth of veterans day....why don't you grow up? I feel really bad for your dad. He is a casualty of war and still living. How old are you? Did you not study history in school? Do you not understand the wars fought throughout mankind's existence?

You are being self-centered and self-serving by making this all about us in the here and now. What about your children and grandchildren? It is not a pretty sight to see what goes on in those other countries. You are being fed selective information to serve one purpose. To stop the US from being anywhere to stop the madness of leaders forcing their own people into what you claim is now our fault. Why don't you take a closer look and do a bit more research into what you believe is a myth. Go deeper then your own home and own experiences and what you read on blogs. This is not fun, it is not games, it is not just about Americans wanting what spoiled Americans want. It is about human rights for all and to stop what you don't want to see, what none of us want to see. But we don't need to free them and bring them here. That is not what Lady Liberty is all about, you know. She is about providing the means in which we can be free to "teach a man to fish so he can eat for the rest of his life". Not to give a man a fish for one meal but to be able to provide for his whole family for the rest of his life. We are out there to help those countries who are oppressed by madmen to learn and develop their own capabilities and join us in freedom in their own countries. To be honest, when I first read your words I believed you were of the Talaban and spreading discontent to break up a great country. Strange should it be that you are who you say you are. Here is a word I would like you to add to your vocabulary when it comes to your father, your homeland and your government (despite the fact that they are not perfect) LOYALTY
Give it a try, you might like it.

Grow up, puppy.


Anonymous,

It sounds like remembering Vietnam, and perhaps especially the way you as a vet were treated when you returned, is still pretty painful. I'm sorry you had to go through that.

some responses to some of your questions comments:

I have had the chance to see, in a foreign country, what evil men being in power can do to a people. I hung out in Charles Taylor's Liberia with a bunch of people who were so completely terrified that if you so much as mentioned anything remotely related to the government, politics, Charles Taylor, they would emotionally and even physically freeze up and refuse to continue the conversation.

I think it's pretty freaking awesome that Charles Taylor will go on trial for war crimes before the UN in about 5 weeks, and, as it turned out, the U.S. didn't have to invade or kill any civilians in order to make this happen. The U.S. military wasn't required at all to help accomplish Liberia's current astounding turnaround. Of course Liberia only has diamonds, not oil (unlike SE Asia and the Middle East).

You seem to be saying it's enough to believe one is serving a good purpose, no matter what the objective reality may be. Did I understand that correctly?

Am I correct in understanding that you think someone in Iraq *asked* us to come "help"? Can you elaborate a bit on that? should just anyone get to ask us to come help? Or does it have to be a majority? Who was it that asked us to "help" in Nicaragua, Guatemala, and Colombia in the 1980's?

Are you of the opinion that we actually *did* "help" in Vietnam? do you envision a worse outcome for the nation of Vietnam had the U.S. never gotten involved? Can you describe that?

Same question re: Laos. who asked us to "help" there by dropping more ordnance than was dropped on all of Europe during world war 2? And how did doing so make Laos a better place in any way? I'm not asking snidely. I'm honestly wondering if you have answers to these questions. If not, must we still honor the vets who were part of the U.S. military machine that destroyed these nations, because they "believed it was for a greater good"? Doesn't such honor strongly lead to further such destruction?

You asked how old I am. I'm 33.

regarding loyalty. You seem to be commending loyalty to a nation. The underlying implication is that the nation can never go bad. Please correct me if I'm wrong. But it seems to me that real love for one's nation requires one to speak out against that nation when one sees that nation doing evil. I mean it seems to me that one of the Nazis' underlying philosophies was a false loyalty to Germany. Real loyalty to Germany would have required thinking people to realize that the evil path the nation was going down would only lead to destruction and heartache for both the nation and many others, and to call the nation away from that path, in terms strong enough to counter the Nazis' call to loyalty.

BICBW

Saturday, November 24, 2007

why I wanted to become a therapist

This kind of captures it.



What I've realized is that I can do this anyway, on the side (which is where life really happens anyway, isn't it) as it were (I'm learning this stuff better from Jim Henderson and co. than I am in school anyway), and I want to study something that will allow me to be more impactful on a larger scale.

H/T Carmen

Hooray!

Not John Howard again. Yay!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Thanking god for genocide

So this really gets to me in a new way this year. The story about Thanksgiving with which I grew is more or less summarized in this Chuck Colson commentary from today. Chuck tells this story about the "pilgrims":

In April of 1623—three years after the first Pilgrims landed—the transplanted Englishmen and women planted corn and other crops. A good harvest was essential to their survival. But in the weeks following the planting, it became clear that a dry spell was turning into a drought.

Pilgrim father Edward Winslow recorded their distress in his diary. “It pleased God, for our further chastisement,” he wrote, “to send a great drought; insomuch as in six weeks . . . there scarce fell any rain.” The crops began to shrivel up “as though they had been scorched before the fire . . . God,” Winslow wrote, “which hitherto had been our only shield and supporter, now seemed in His anger to arm Himself against us. And who can withstand the fierceness of His wrath?”

The Pilgrims decided the only solution was to humble themselves before God in fasting and in prayer. They appointed a day of prayer and set aside all other employments.

Winslow describes what happened next. “In the morning,” he wrote, “when we assembled together, the heavens were as clear, and the drought as like to continue as it ever was.” But by late afternoon—after eight or nine hours of prayer—“the weather was overcast, the clouds gathered on all sides,” Winslow wrote. The next morning brought “soft, sweet and moderate shows of rain, continuing some fourteen days.” The needed rain was “mixed with such seasonable weather,” he wrote, “as it was hard to say whether our withered corn or drooping affections were most quickened or revived, such was the bounty and goodness of our God.”

This dramatic answer to prayer was a witness to the local Indians. As Winslow notes, “The Indians . . . took notice . . . all of them admired the goodness of our God towards us, that wrought so great a change in so short of time, showing the difference between their conjuration and our invocation on the name of God for rain.”

The harvest that fall was abundant—and the Pilgrims survived yet another year.

Today is Thanksgiving—the day on which we recall the three-day celebration in 1621 in which the Pilgrims invited local Indians to join them in thanking God for His blessings on them—not, as some school children are taught today in class, giving thanks to Indians.



Ok, this bothers me on various levels, but the worst is this line
The Indians . . . took notice . . . all of them admired the goodness of our God towards us, that wrought so great a change in so short of time, showing the difference between their conjuration and our invocation on the name of God for rain.


There is such an astoundingly high level of condescension, superiority, and empire behind Mr. Wilson's sentence. And beyond that, It's ... barbarian. I mean I think the people back in the day--the time of Homer, had a better clue than we do about the real nature of the gods. When it comes down to it, we europeans had more powerful, and more evil, gods than the indians did. they were right to be impressed. But they missed the boat if they weren't terrified. Estimates vary, but there were probably at at least 50 million indigenous people in the U.S. Pre-Columbus. Today there are nearly 3 million. Some people have referred to this as "democide", others as "genocide". Call it what you may, If you were a Native American in the 1600s, you had every reason to be impressed and terrified by the Europeans and their gods.

At Off the Map Live earlier this month, Richard Twiss responded to a question about descendants of immigrants seeking reconciliation with native peoples thusly: "Well, think about it like this. What if twenty years ago, you stole my car. And now twenty years later, you come to me and say "You know, I stole your car all those years ago, and I feel really terrible about it. And I'd like to ask your forgiveness and seek reconciliation in our relationship." And I said "Well, that sounds great. But can I have the car back?" And you said "Well, that doesn't seem reasonable. I've had the car all these years. I've maintained it. I've driven it. It's like part of my family now. I can't see giving the car back"

So the response from the predominately white audience was laughter. But the laughter was hiding a certain discomfort, wasn't it?

How can people who claim to be followers of Jesus celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday every year with the lie of a story they tell? Chuck Colson's commentary is heard on 1000 radio stations in the United States. There are a *huge* number of Americans of European descent in this country who will get together today and retell this story, and the vast majority of them won't give a shit that on an "Indian reservation" not too far from them, the last remains of the Indigenous peoples will continue to suffer from extremely high suicide rates, High rates of substance dependence, and other difficulties. Because the White European god won. And they will give this shockingly pathetic thanks to that god. It will involve gratitude for "nice" things. None of them will be saying things like "thankyou that you helped us win, so that we can be the 20% who consume 80% of the worlds resources. Thankyou for helping us win so we can bomb civilians in other countries, rather than them bombing us. Thankyou for helping us win, so we can wrap ourselves in this shell of materialism and denial, and eat enormous amounts of food while 30,000 children in the third world starve to death today."

I think we should start a new tradition for Thanksgiving. I think every American ought to (there, I should'd on you. Consider yourself warned) read this speech by Chief Seattle, given as evening drew down for the indigenous peoples of this country. Here's an excerpt.

"But can this ever be? Your God loves your people and hates mine; he folds his strong arms lovingly around the white man and leads him as a father leads his infant son, but he has forsaken his red children; he makes your people wax strong every day, and soon they will fill the land; while my people are ebbing away like a fast-receding tide, that will never flow again. The white man's God cannot love his red children or he would protect them. They seem to be orphans and can look nowhere for help. How then can we become brothers? How can your father become our father and bring us prosperity and awaken in us dreams of returning greatness?"

"Your God seems to us to be partial. He came to the white man. We never saw Hirn; never even heard His voice; He gave the white man laws but He had no word for His red children whose teeming millions filled this vast continent as the stars fill the firmament. No, we are two distinct races and must ever remain so. There is little in common between us. The ashes of our ancestors are sacred and their final resting place is hallowed ground, while you wander away from the tombs of your fathers seemingly without regret."

"Your religion was written on tables of stone by the iron finger of an angry God, lest you might forget it, The red man could never remember nor comprehend it."

"Our religion is the traditions of our ancestors, the dream of our old men, given them by the great Spirit, and the visions of our sachems, and is written in the hearts of our people."

"Your dead cease to love you and the homes of their nativity as soon as they pass the portals of the tomb. They wander far off beyond the stars, are soon forgotten, and never return. Our dead never forget the beautiful world that gave them being. They still love its winding rivers, its great mountains and its sequestered vales, and they ever yearn in tenderest affection over the lonely hearted living and often return to visit and comfort them."

"Day and night cannot dwell together. The red man has ever fled the approach of the white man, as the changing mists on the mountainside flee before the blazing morning sun."

"However, your proposition seems a just one, and I think my folks will accept it and will retire to the reservation you offer them, and we will dwell apart and in peace, for the words of the great white chief seem to be the voice of nature speaking to my people out of the thick darkness that is fast gathering around them like a dense fog floating inward from a midnight sea."

"It matters but little where we pass the remainder of our days. They are not many."

"The Indian's night promises to be dark. No bright star hovers about the horizon. Sad-voiced winds moan in the distance. Some grim Nemesis of our race is on the red man's trail, and wherever he goes he will still hear the sure approaching footsteps of the fell destroyer and prepare to meet his doom, as does the wounded doe that hears the approaching footsteps of the hunter. A few more moons, a few more winters, and not one of all the mighty hosts that once filled this broad land or that now roam in fragmentary bands through these vast solitudes will remain to weep over the tombs of a people once as powerful and as hopeful as your own."

"But why should be repine? Why should I murmur at the fate of my people? Tribes are made up of individuals and are no better than they. Men come and go like the waves of the sea. A tear, a tamanawus, a dirge, and they are gone from our longing eyes forever. Even the white man, whose God walked and talked with him, as friend to friend, is not exempt from the common destiny. We may be brothers after all. We shall see."

"We will ponder your proposition, and when we have decided we will tell you. But should we accept it, I here and now make this the first condition: That we will not be denied the privilege, without molestation, of visiting at will the graves of our ancestors and friends. Every part of this country is sacred to my people. Every hillside, every valley, every plain and grove has been hallowed by some fond memory or some sad experience of my tribe."

"Even the rocks that seem to lie dumb as they swelter in the sun along the silent seashore in solemn grandeur thrill with memories of past events connected with the fate of my people, and the very dust under your feet responds more lovingly to our footsteps than to yours, because it is the ashes of our ancestors, and our bare feet are conscious of the sympathetic touch, for the soil is rich with the life of our kindred."

"The sable braves, and fond mothers, and glad-hearted maidens, and the little children who lived and rejoiced here, and whose very names are now forgotten, still love these solitudes, and their deep fastness at eventide grow shadowy with the presence of dusky spirits. And when the last red man shall have perished from the earth and his memory among white men shall have become a myth, these shores shall swarm with the invisible dead of my tribe, and when your children's children shall think themselves alone in the field, the store, the shop, upon the highway or in the silence of the woods, they will not be alone. In all the earth there is no place dedicated to solitude. At night, when the streets of your cities and villages shall be silent, and you think them deserted, they will throng with the returning hosts that once filled and still love this beautiful land. The white man will never be alone. Let him be just and deal kindly with my people, for the dead are not altogether powerless."

Tortured Genius =)

You Are 81% Tortured Genius

You totally fit the profile of a tortured genius. You're uniquely brilliant - and completely misunderstood.
Not like you really want anyone to understand you anyway. You're pretty happy being an island.


H/T Sharon

magic

Ok, I know I'm a sicko. But i found this really ... compelling. H/T Bishop Alan

Hooray!

The Georgia Supreme Court unanimously struck down a state law Wednesday that limited where registered sex offenders could live, ruling that the statute was so restrictive it unconstitutionally deprived the offenders of their property rights.

Can I just say that this rocks? Yeah, you all think I'm a sicko now. But "sex offenders" have become the lepers of modern American society. yes, some of them have done really shocking things, and shattered peoples lives.

and gone to prison for it, and gone through treatment for it, and maybe they are sober for years now, and are doing really amazing things with their lives. And nobody cares. Because they are a (oh my god) "sex offender". Meanwhile, nobody prevents George Bush, Daniel Murphy, or Dick Cheney from living in any particular neighborhood, despite the things they've done or instigated which are *way* worse than anything even the most heinous sex offender in the country has ever done (come one, argue with me here)

They're not the bogeymen we make them out to be. They're not monsters. They're human beings who have fucked up. Like the rest of us. Period. Hooray for the Georgia supreme court!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

the difference between obama and hillary

Wow this struck me today. Today is the day before "Thanksgiving", one of the biggest holidays of the American year, which is supposed to be about eating huge amounts of yummy food and focusing on gratitude.

At the top of Barack Obama's home page today: these four lines:

Happy Thanksgiving
Read a message from Barack
Support America's Second Harvest
Support Share our Strength

In the message linked at the top of his page, this quote from Barack

I will be volunteering this week at the New Horizons food pantry in Manchester, New Hampshire. And I encourage all Americans to do what they can to help those in need -- because the best way to show our gratitude for what we have is by doing our part for those who have less."


At the top of Hillary Clinton's Homepage today: these two lines:

Happy Thanksgiving
Read Hillary's Thanksgiving Message

In the message linked at the top of her page, this quote from Hillary
At our campaign offices in California, Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina as well as our headquarters in Arlington, Virginia, we're accepting donations of nonperishable food to help local efforts to fight hunger.

The difference here is enormous and very telling, in my opinion

Wide eyed


I absolutely love this photo. It's from this slide show

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Christmas wish list

I know it's a lot to ask for. But here it is.

  1. A Deep Water well for disease free fresh water in the third world-$18,000
  2. Sponsor a child through World Vision via my wife. Just shoot her an email--Meganady at gmail.com--she is a world vision child ambassador, and has a whole list of children available. Or she can get you a sponsor child per your specifications.
  3. Buy basic immunizations for a child in the third world--$41
  4. Provide malaria prevention for one family-$20
  5. Help provide hope for a sexually eploited girl-$35
  6. Help reunite a child with their family-$75
  7. Help save the lives of mothers and newborns-$116
  8. Help prevent AIDS
  9. Buy 5 ducks for a hungry family
  10. If you must buy a gift to send to Benjamin himself, please try to keep it under $20.

Happiness

Look people--want a simple exercise to increase your happiness? Join my other blog! the people at U Penn--including the super smart one, Martin Seligman, have demonstrated empirically that doing this simple exercise, even for a short time (one *week*) will make you lastingly happier (at least for 6 months). (Of course it also helps to be on the upside of your cyclothymia. but that's another story, and altogether different) By the way, the relevant bit of that PDF (the one linked to the words "demonstrated empirically") is on pages 5-6. although the whole thing is very readable. The key with the exercise is to not only write down three things that went well each day, but *why* they went well.

If you wanna join, just email me. It's benjamin.ady at gmail.com. of course you will have to delete the spaces and change the "at" to "@". I do it that way to avoid spam. although Gmail is fricking briliant for spam--I basically never get any, even thought I don't really guard it that well. which is to say you should get a gmail account if you don't already have one, since everybody knows google is going to rule the world, as soon as they find a way to open sourcishly defeat the current American Empire of the World.

wow I'm glad I'm not running for president. It takes a certain kind of ... stupidity to do that, doesn't it? hmmmm.....

Monday, November 19, 2007

iran next?

why not? I mean what's another 1.6 TRILLION DOLLARS, 80,000 civilian deaths, and 2 million refugees. At least Boeing, ATK Tech Systems, Honeywell Corporation, and Bush/Cheney/Blackwell/Big Oil will just keep getting richer. Hey--trickel down economics, rigth? I mean if *some* people are getting wealthier, it will eventually trickle down to the 40 million Americans who have no health insurance.




Oh, and here's John McCain's take on the whole thing.




And when asked later if his joke was insensitive, he replied "Insensitive to What? The Iranians?"
By the way "The Iranians", which is to say, the Persians, are one of the oldest and profoundly beautiful cultures on the planet. It would be altogether american to bomb them. Thoroughly. Fuck I hate being American sometimes.

Hooray

Obama leaps ahead of Clinton in Iowa polling

Just wait 'til he wins Iowa, and then Edwards pulls out and endorses him =)

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Trivia question

which current candidate for the U.S. presidency has the most doctorates?

Saturday, November 17, 2007

realization

So I am writing an "essay" (it's not really an essay, since it's only allowed to be 300 words long) for my spanish class on U.S. intervention in a country or region of my choosing. I chose Central America, and I am reading up (in English, I must confess) on U.S. interventions in Central America. And what I am learning is pretty freaking shocking.

And what I've realized more than anything, in this study, is that Ronald Reagan was a truly evil man. Worse, perhaps than G.W. Bush, which is saying something. Did ya'll know that during the 80's, which is to say during Reagan's administration, the U.S. was largely responsible for funding and training armies in Nicaragua, El Salvador, and Guatemala which carried out reigns of terror in which hundreds of thousands of relativley normal people were murdered, raped, and tortured? And multiple times Reagan's government completely ignored reports of what was going on under our funding, training, and support. In fact, the U.S. has refused to pay reparations ordered by international courts regarding some of this stuff. I guess we couldn't afford to, seeing as how we needed the money to illegally invade Iraq.

So here's what I wanna know. How is it that nearly 60% of the people who voted in 1984 voted for Reagan? Did they not know? Not care? "We're fine if hundreds of thousand of people are being raped, murdered, and tortured in our name just a few hundred miles to the south, as long as we're rich, comfortable, and safe"? I am increasingly convinced that this country is seriously fucked up. I mean that's not actually strong enough language, but I lack the vocabulary to say it more strongly. maybe someone can help me out. FUBAR, perhaps? I'm sure some of you old military guys could help me out with this.

costs of war

Will buy (approximately):

  • 26,000,000 new houses to shelter the homeless and the poor
  • 70,000,000 four year scholarships to public universities
  • 90,000,000 new deep water wells for communities that don't currently have access to fresh, safe, clean drinking water
OR

barack obama vs. john edwards

So I watched the Democratic candidates debate in Las Vegas a couple nights ago. As you, the regular readers of this blog are aware, I have been an fan of Barack Obama for some time now. Once again I really liked Obama's take on things in this debate. I love the fact that he refused to answer so called "yes or no questions" because he wouldn't buy into the premises behind the questions. I mean we've had a president for 8 years who thinks you can look at the world in a simplistice "yes or no, us or them, good or bad" dichotomy, and the results speak for themselves.

However, during the debate, John Edwards also caught my attention. He said he wants to rid the world of nuclear weapons, including here in the U.S. How frickin' kewl is that? I loved his explanation of how we got NAFTA, which hurt lots of poor people, and didn't get universal health care, all at the same time, because big corporate interests rule Washington D. C.

At this point, I think I'd be pretty happy to vote for either Mr. Obama or Mr. Edwards in the general election. However, I still rather prefer Mr. Obama. This has to do with their backgrounds. Obama lived in Jakarta for four years as a preteen, and attended local schools. Obama's entire career has been devoted to working to help "the least of these". Edwards, on the other hand, is pretty much from the old south, and although in one sense I rather like the fact that as a malpractice lawyer he won some $60 million in settlements for his clients, on the other hand I rather *don't* like the fact that he probably pockets at least $15 million of that. Moreover, I rather don't think that such enormous awards are leading towards a useful or helpful solution to the stupidity of the whole medical system in this country.

That's my 27 cents worth.

Friday, November 16, 2007

killing our friends

So it looks like on Tuesday U.S. forces "accidentally" killed 50 members of a tribal group that had been allies in the so called "war against terror".

Now where have we seen this sort of thing before? How about the way we treated the Hmong?

From the wiki article:

In the early 1960s, the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) began to recruit the indigenous Hmong people in Laos to join fighting the Vietnam War, named as a Special Guerrilla Unit led by General Vang Pao. Over 80% of the Hmong men in Laos were recruited by the CIA to join fighting for the U.S. Secret War in Laos.

and after the war was over?...

the Secret War began around the time that the U.S. became officially involved in the Vietnam War. Following the U.S. withdraw; from Vietnam in 1975, the Lao kingdom was overthrown by the communists and the Hmong people became targets of retaliation and persecution. While some Hmong people returned to their villages and attempted to resume life under the new regime, thousands more made the trek to and across the Mekong River into Thailand, often under attack. This marked the beginning of a mass exodus of Hmong people from Laos. Those who did make it to Thailand generally were held in squalid United Nations refugee camps. Nearly 20 years later, in the 1990s, a major international debate ensued over whether the Hmong should be returned to Laos, where opponents of their return argued they were being subjected to persecution, or afforded the right to immigrate to the U.S. and other Western nations.

Of those Hmong who did not flee Laos, somewhere between two and three thousand were sent to re-education camps where political prisoners served terms of 3-5 years. Many Hmong died in these camps, after being subjected to hard physical labor and harsh conditions. Thousands more Hmong people, mainly former soldiers and their families, escaped to remote mountain regions - particularly Phou Bia, the highest (and thus least accessible) mountain peak in Laos. Initially, some Hmong groups staged attacks against Pathet Lao and Vietnamese troops while others remained in hiding to avoid military retaliation and persecution. Spiritual leader Zong Zoua Her rallied his followers in a guerilla resistance movement called Chao Fa (RPA: Cob Fab). Initial military successes by these small bands led to military counter-attacks by government forces, including aerial bombing and heavy artillery, as well as the use of defoliants and chemical weapons.

Small groups of Hmong people, many of them second or third generation descendants of former CIA soldiers, remain internally displaced in remote parts of Laos, in fear of government reprisals. Faced with continuing military operations against them by the government and a scarcity of food, some groups have begun coming out of hiding, while others have sought asylum in Thailand and other countries.

Friday Video

Diet Coke and Mentos



H/T Tony

happy


Thursday, November 15, 2007

The Christian response to Islam--the best, of hope, and the worst, of fear

I read two extremely different takes on the Christian response to Muslims this week. In My Not So Humble Opinion, one represents the best of christianity, while the other represents the worst.

Brian McLaren, Nov. 14, 2007

(at the start he is quoting his Christian friends Larry and Andrea, who work and live among Muslims in the Middle East)

In my visits to Muslim countries, I have been honored by the friendship and hospitality of ordinary people. What will ordinary Americans offer in return? Will we allow ourselves the "outrageous" experience of seeing the humanity rather than the ugliness in our enemies? Will we reach out to Muslims in our communities and in other countries, and in the process, allow our own lives to be transformed?

Perhaps it is a distant hope to see political leaders gathering around a table in a true gesture of reconciliation and respect. But it is the changed hearts of ordinary people that will help to transform both societies - and our world.

My friends are echoing something Bono said in a recent interview: "But then you've also got to try to cut off the oxygen supply of hatred, which is false ideas about who you are as an American, who you are in the West. I know that sounds like limp liberalism, but it's really not."

When we treat guests in our country with contempt, when we refuse people the dignity of speaking with them, when we focus on the ugliness of our enemies to the exclusion of their humanity, we are reinforcing a pretty ugly idea of who we are as Americans. Ultimately, we're hurting ourselves. Again, to quote Bono, "Isn't it cheaper and smarter to make friends out of potential enemies than to defend yourself against them later?"

As we approach the season of Advent, we will recall our central story: that the holy God who created the universe was mysteriously incarnated in a vulnerable baby among an oppressed people, entering a hostile world full of vicious but beloved enemies to talk to them, walk among them, befriend them, and seek to reconcile with them. What would happen this Christmas if we applied this message to our world and its hostilities today? Preachers, there is a subject for you to work into your sermons. Don't expect such sermons to be popular, but do expect them to be faithful.

Chuck Colson, Nov 14, 2007.

Patrick Sookhdeo, a Muslim convert to Christianity who is also an Anglican priest, is the author of Islam: The Challenge to the Church. Dr. Sookhdeo writes that many Christians are confused by the seemingly capricious way in which their Muslim neighbors relate to them. This is because they are unaware of the many Koranic teachings that regulate relations with those outside the faith.

For example, hospitality and the exchange of gifts is the linchpin of relationships among Muslims, and many Muslims also invite Christians into their homes and give them gifts. But this seldom works in reverse. This is more than simply a concern about eating non-halal food, Sookhdeo writes. “There is also the cultural concept of Christians as being religiously ‘unclean,’ arising from the discriminatory laws against them in sharia. There’s also the fact that accepting a meal means owing a favor to the host.”

Another problem may be your family pet. Religiously observant Muslims may refuse to enter a home that contains a dog, since dogs are considered unclean.

As for gifts—many Muslims will be eager to give a copy of the Koran to Christian neighbors, but they will refuse to accept a copy of the Bible in return. “Muslims are always on the alert for opportunities for mission,” Sookdeo says, “but they guard themselves against anything that might serve to deflect them from the way of Islam, such as the scriptures of another faith.”

In their efforts to reach out to Muslims, Christians must beware of taking part in one-sided events that benefit Islam at the expense of Christianity. For instance, a Christian pastor may invite a local imam to speak from the pulpit as part of a cultural exchange. But all too often, Sookhdeo says, “the pattern is that the imam preaches in the church and the minister merely prays in the mosque.” Muslims view this as a victory. As with the attempted exchange of scriptures, Sookhdeo writes, “Muslims will use every opportunity to promote their faith and to prevent the similar promotion of Christianity.” Christians end up doing all the learning while Muslims do all the teaching.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Sunday, November 11, 2007

the myth of veterans day


Words from the Wikipedia article on veterans day: heroes. honor. service. tribute. grateful nation. homage. solemnly remember. sacrifices. fought valiantly. preserve heritage of freedom. an enduring peace.

Words from George Bush's speech today, on veterans day: good. noble. just. promise. sacrifice. honor. blessed. brave. service. valiantly. free. home. magnificent. proud. victory. safely.

why all these words? These words are being used to create/propogate a myth. By "myth" I mean "a traditional or sacred story that attempts to iterate, explain, or justify the thoughts and actions of a people".

The myth we are creating/being created in is strongly related to the myth of redemptive violence.

The reality is this: my father, who is a reasonably good man, has probably been more profoundly affected by his involvement with the Vietnam War than by any other one thing in his life, including his acoholic father. He has spent time in psych wards. He has to take psychotropic medications to function. Apart from very faint memories as a very tiny lad, I cannot remember a time when my dad hasn't suffered from chronic pain of one type or another in his body. He was doubtless exposed to Agent Orange. He was doubltless introduced to the most psychologically toxic horrors over there in Vietnam. He without doubt had to kill people, real live human beings with moms and dads and brothers and sisters. He probably had to kill children.

I'm not saying all this to dishonor my dad. He's pretty damn close to the awesome end of the spectrum, as dads go.

I'm saying it because the myth is bunk. My dad didn't sacrifice his health, his sanity, his humanity, for a good cause. He sacrificed it for a lousy cause--so that we Americans could continue to be the word's most excellent consumers. So we can continue be part of the 20% who consume 80% of the world's resources. So we can work 40 hour weeks, and have nice warm beds, and instant surgery in case of placental abruption, and personal computers upon which we can blog, and unbelieably huge amounts of food to eat, and pocket money, and 60" plasma televisions, and big fancy trucks with big fancy fifth wheels in which we can spend our retirement putzing around this beautiful nation, all while 2 billion people live on $2/day or less, and the continent of Africa can't even control stop malaria, the tools for the stopping of which have been around quite a while already, and 30,000 children starve to death every day, each for the lack of less money than we spend on lattes each day.

My dad sacrificed all that he sacrificed in order to maintain that imbalance in the world. Because such an imbalance doesn't just stick around by itself. He sacrificed so that we the powerful can continue to have so much power at the expense of the weak. And in spite of all the lovely words of George Bush, and all the other deluded Americans who will write and celebrate and weep and remember this weekend--that's a rotten cause. Vietnam, and Nicaragua, and Laos, and Cuba, and Afghanistan, and Iraq (and this list goes on for quite a long time) do not qualify as noble, honor, sacrifice, blah blah blah ad nauseam. They're all based on the same hogwash myth. It's all about hundreds and hundreds of thousands of normal, weak, poor, downtrodden people all over the world dying, just to make sure we stay on top of the heap. I hope today or tomorrow somebody blows up Liberty Enlightening the World, with her yotta-bullshit bronze plaque which reads

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
"Keep ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she
With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"



2 million new refugees from Iraq since 2003.
In Syria alone as many as 500,000 Iraqi girls and women have been forced into prostitution due to economic hardship.
Fewer than 5000 have been accepted into the United States.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Patriotism


and if you're a fucking terrorist, we can use waterboarding on you. And we even have a patriotic new Attorney General who will make sure it's not ("legally") torture.
H/T Rachel

hypercube.


This is too freaking kewl. A tesseract--that is to say--a hypercube. It's the four dimenensional analog of a cube. That is, it is to a cube what a cube is to a square. And this is a 3 dimensional projection (it's shadow) being rotated. It's hard to get your head around becase we not only have the fact that we're trying to imagine the 3 dimensional shadow of a four dimensional object, but we also have the fact that we are attempting to portray that 3 dimensional shadow on your two dimensional computer screen. Someday, I suppose, assuming we find fixes for peak oil and global warming, among other things (peak water?!!?) maybe we'll have holo-monitors for our computers. But not yet.


Or better yet, maybe some 4 dimensional scientist will design some way for us to be able to see in four dimensions. That would be kewl.
This sort of thing is why wikipedia rocks. It's english wiki's picture of the day today.

Sad

This is the saddest story I've run across in a while. A lady named Carol Gotbaum, died by accidental hanging in a police holding cell in an airport in phoenix on September 28th. She was intoxicated, and had been denied permission to board her connecting flight on her way to a enter an impatient alcohol rehabilitation program.

The other day I was at the adult study time at Seattle Mennonite church, and I realized that maybe God ... *isn't* "all powerful", and maybe she feels the same way I do about the horrifically sad realities in this world. "God was sorry that she had made the human race in the first place; it broke her heart."

Mukasey

Fine. He's the attorney general. Until January 20, 2009. I hope some evil Christian terrorist organization (the CIA would work) kidnaps him one weekend and introduces him, by way of first hand experience, to waterboarding. And I hope they let him go when the weekend is over, and he comes back and announces in a press conference that he now feels that he can give his vaunted freaking legal opinion on whether waterboarding is torture.

I know I shouldn't hope these things. but I do.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Posited: the end of malaria by 2012.

Posited: The United States could single handledly *end* Malaria by 2012.

If Jeffrey Sachs is right, we could control Malaria in Africa for US$3 billion dollars a year.

The One campaign is asking U.S. voters to press the 2008 presidential candidates to make a priority out of global extreme poverty and disease.

If the U.S. gave 1% of it's annual federal budget to battle these problems, that would be ... US$30 Billion per year, or 10 times the amount needed to end malaria, thus saving the lives of 2 millions children in Africa every year.

for 1 tenth of one percent of the federal budget, we could be looking back in 2012 saying--hey look, we did it. We ended malaria. yeehaw

That would rock. I feel it. It could happen. why not? We were first to the moon. We broke the much vaunted sound barrier. we (have *almost) eradicated polio. why not? argue with me. I dare you.

And here's anther challenge--see if you can figure out how much money Jonas Salk, or anybody else, for that matter, any big corportation, university, you name it--ever got for the development of the polio vaccine.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

broken promises

Is it true that the Algiers accord, under which U.S. diplomats held hostage by Iranian revolutioaries were freed, contained language by which the U.S. government promised to unfreeze Iranian assets, which have not yet been unfrozen, some 26 years later?

To whom should I apologize for this arrogant outrage?

fucking a. the older I get, the more guilty I feel for having been born part of the dominant culture of the U.S.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

my birthday! and 17 things

Last year for my birthday I wrote My First 16 Years, the Negativity Avoidant 4 minute version. Then on my half birthday I wrote My Second 16 Years, the four minute version.



For today, seeing as how I am 33, and 33 is a very kewl number, being the coming of age number for hobbits, a bit of whose blood I must surely have, and also being the product of 2 primes, and a very excellent number in base 11 as well.

For my birthday, here is a list of:


17 of the best and/or hardest things in my story (you figure out which is which) (not necessarily in any particular order!) (and also not necessarily *not* in any particular order). (Maybe I'll do another 16 for my half birthday):



1. Despite vows of life long bachelorhood and my best intentions, I fell madly in love with Megan Ann Jones, and after fasting for 50 days, finally got "permission" from God to ask her to marry me. And then I did ask her. And then she said "Yes, yes, a thousand times yes" on the funnel deck on LOGOS II under about 10 billions stars sailing through the Adriatic.



2. We got married on a super beautiful actual sandy beach (and if you live in Seattle you know why I say "actual sandy beach") in beautiful Port Macquarie, Australia, and I sang a country song to her at our wedding, and our friend Glen played the Irish whistle, and we had an astoundingly beautiful Tolkien themed reception at Lothlorien, and then we drove up the coast of Oz and sailed a beautiful 27 foot sailing yacht around for 4 days in the beautiful Whit Sunday Islands for 4 days. The water was so warm that you could jump naked into the water at 5 AM no problem, and when it was dark out there were beautiful phosphorescent plankton which, when you were swimming, would light up wherever there was motion in the water, so one was surrounded by a sort of aura of light.



3. Lovely Megs went into labor with our wonderful, brilliant firstborn daughter Eowyn in the middle of a snowstorm in March 2002 in Seattle. We were going to go out for a walk in the snow to encourage labor when Megs started bleeding *rather* profusely. So instead we got in the car and drove the 5 minutes to the hospital, and parked, and walked up the the maternity ward, and then when they saw how much she was bleeding they put her in a room and a whole bunch of doctors and nurses came in, and they started asking questions and installing IV's and checking Eowyn, and not too long after that they performed and emergent C-section to deliver E. And she was super beautiful and I felt very lonely all alone in the delivery room while Megs and E were away in surgery, all of which was rather contraindicated in our "birth plan" (the best laid plans of mice and men!). But everything turned out well, and I got to hold and wash little beautiful Eowyn, and put her on Megsie's breast when Megsie came back from surgery. And 3 times later that night various doctors came in and told us it was pretty much a miracle that Megs and E had both lived. And part of me thought "Of course it's a miracle". and another part thought "Miracle schmiracle. It is absolutely necessary that they lived" And if I had known then what I know now, another part would have said "how come I'm so lucky, while 2 billion+ people live in such a time/place/circumstance that a placental abruption means, by definition, the death of both mother and baby?"

4. (oh dear. I'll never get to 33 at the current rate of increase in length per item). In February 2004, we experienced the birth of our super delightful second daughter Coco, who regularly comes up to me, lately, and says with a twinkle in her eyes "I like you Daddy! I really like you daddy!"

5. (going to go more random here). My super amazing mother taught me to read at home before I started preschool (or at least that's how I remember it). Thus did she create in me the faint beginning stirrings of a life long insatiable thirst for books, which has rather stood me in good stead.

6. It was either my mother or my lovely Aunt Kathy who, in about 1984, put me onto the man who was for many years my favorite author, George Macdonald, of whom C. S. Lewis said "I have always considered him my master. Indeed, I suppose I have never written a book in which I did not quote him." George was one of the very few voices in my life who kept me relatively sane and gave me permission to question during all those years when I was raised in a very sectarian ultra conservative brand of christianity. If you've not read him, I suggest you start with Lilith and Phantastes--by far, IMNSHO, his best two.

7. At some point someone put me onto J.R.R. Tolkien's super brilliant trilogy, along with the Hobbit. I have read them at *least* four times--I'm thinking the first time as a boy of nine. Now one of our daughters is named after the most heroic female character. Someone said "The world is divided up into those who have read The Lord of the Rings, and those who have yet to read it."

8. In 1997, I took some 12 or 14 young people from my church to see a concert in Seattle--the musician was Susan Ashton, who ... damn--she can sing!. Little did I know that it was a benefit concert for OM and MV LOGOS II, which was docked next to the warehouse down on the waterfront where the concert was. The founder of OM, George Verwer, an astoundingly kewl guy who now says that compassion (i.e. addressing global problems live HIV/AIDS, extreme poverty, and so forth) is *more* important than "proclaiming the gospel" verbally, was there that night, and he said "If you feel like God is calling *you* to move toward getting involved in world missions, stand up. And I said "Ha, no way in Hell I'm standing up (we'll actually, back then I wouldn't have said "hell", but it gives the sense of it.). And then, strangely, I realized I was standing. Looking back, there really wasn't a lot of emotional manipulation going on (and I have some experience with religious emotional manipulation). So I ended up travelling for two years as a Christian missionary aboard the missions ship MV LOGOS II, with about 200 other people from 40 different countries. This was one of the most enriching, eye opening, brilliant, agonizing experiences of my life.

9. In early 2001, in the face of what was in retrospect simply *enormous* emotional pressure from the church leadership to stay, we officially ended our association with the church in which I grew up. That was one of the most difficult and most excellent things I have ever done. so much follows from that that never would have happened otherwise.

10. Our lovely pastor's wife, Cheryl, and her brilliant daughter, Tiffany (who can !*sing*!) helped here and there with voice training, during my years in the sect. Mostly they taught me to listen to myself and others, and to not be afraid to *sing*. Then in 2000, the brilliant Marco Gandolfo invited me to sing tenor with him in an 8 person ensemble. We sang in various ports in Italy and Turkey--four girls and four guys from a bunch of different countries. It was some of the most fun I've ever had, and the only time I've ever gotten to be part of an actual proper singing group. I'd love to do something like that again sometime.

11. In 1997, my good friend Joe and I took a three week train trip around the whole U.S.--on Amtrak. The main destination was the million man gathering put together by the evangelical organization Promise Keepers on the Mall in Washington D.C. I remember being shocked to see people wearing shirts which said "Proud to be Roman Catholic" (thoughts along the lines of "how can they so boldly and unashamedly associate themselves with such an evil organization?") (I was still pretty damn close minded back then). By some reports there were actually over a million guys on the mall that day, which is actually a little frightening if you think about it. We all sang praise choruses, which was pretty freaking awesome. I made a vow to "share the gospel" with an average of 3 people a week for the rest of my life (which is pretty easy to catch up at some point, I guess, since that's only ... 156 per year. it would only take one talk to 1500 people or so). (of course, I no longer have any idea what "the gospel" means.)

Anyway, we had a grand old time on Amtrak, and went down to Florida, and hung out in my birth state of Oklahoma with Mamaw and Papaw and their family for a few days, and spent a great deal of time talking. It was fun. I'm kind of sorry I've fallen mostly out of touch with Joe.

12. In 2003 or 2004, I entered a pretty intense 12 step recovery program, which I dove into rather vociferously (I was pretty frightened/desperate). I spend some 14 months doing lots of homework every week, meeting with my sponsor, going to meetings, and the whole shebang. It affected me rather enormously in lots of ways. I worked through the whole thing with my really awesome friend Tom and another good friend named Alex. I'm super thankful for that experience. If nothing else, even though I'm not a Christian anymore, it gave me a paradigm of church which is about a billion times more attractive than Sunday morning church.

13. In November 2000, a couple weeks before our wedding, I woke up one morning with the feeling of about 10 tons of bricks resting on my chest. God was speaking to me, and he was saying that before I married Megan I was going to have to tell her certain specific bits of my story which I had not yet told her. I'm pretty sure that was the most terrifying experience of my whole life. But it wasn't like he was requesting. So chicken that I was, having never told those bits of my story to *anyone*, I thought I should do it with someone else before I told Megan, so I went and saw a couple counsellors, a man and a woman, at a church in town. One of them was a pastor. They were some of the kindest gentlest people I've ever had the opportunity to interact with, and soon thereafter, when I told Megan, she didn't say she didn't want to marry me anymore, which rather surprised me. I've since been super thankful for that whole experience, because I think it has really impacted our marriage in a positive way.

14. I had the good fortune to first encounter Sheldon Vanauken's A Severe Mercy during the same time when I was falling in love with lovely Megsie. It remains one of the more brilliant tomes ever penned.

15. I used to have shocking fights with my one and only and super amazing sibling, Kat. I remember I used to hit her, and she used to scratch and pinch, and ... it was awful. At some point back when I was in my earlyish teens, I came to the realization that she was the only sibling I had or would ever had (although I have since come to speculate about the possibility of unknown half Asian siblings whom I shall never meet. But that's another story), so I damn well better start being nice to her. So we were really good friends from the late 80's ish until I left the country in the late 90's ish. She is super awesome, and she's the only person I know who has legally changed her middle name to the name of a Welsh goddess of horses, which is just too fucking kewl for words. Plus her awesome husband, Jim, who is something like 6 feet 3 inches tall, and ... definitely bigger than I am, is a practitioner of Korean sword fighting. Which is is also way too kewl for words. Like if you have to get in a fight in a dark alley, you want him on your side, and he's my rocking brother in law. You rock, Kat!

16. In 2005, some 11 years after I had dropped out of school at the age of 20, I finally managed to work up the courage to go back. I kept finding doors were closed which I rather wanted open because I didn't have a bachelor's degree. Many of the doors involved getting a master's degree, and it seemed you had to get a bachelor's first. My friend Alex helped me enormously overcoming the previously overwhelming trepidation I felt about going back to school. What I've since figured out is that I rather enormously enjoy being in school, and I'm pretty darn good at it too. In fact, I think I'm getting a ton more out of it than I would have back when I was 20. So there. This quarter I'm older than all the students in all of my classes, and older than the people teaching two of my classes. The other day in Spanish, we read a poem called "Hombre Pequeñito", which was about a woman speaking to a man, calling him "Little man" many times, and telling the man to please let her out of this jail, that she wanted her old freedom back, to be able to run and jump and skip again. It was clearly about a woman who was in a relationship with a man who was domineering and brute, and didn't listen to her or care for her that much. I suggested that an alternative understanding of the poem was that the women was speaking to her small boy child, and yearning for the freedom she had when she was childless. I more or less got vetoed on that, with a couple of the girls in the class protesting "NO! A mother loves and guards and cherishes her baby" None of them, including the professor, are married or have children. It brought home to me the different perspective I have. For the most part, I don't notice it too much, however, and see the other students as peers.

17. My family spent 3 years in the former West Germany from 1984 to 1987. I didn't learn much German, or get to know any German people, as I was surrounded by many Americans and much Americannness. But they were 3 of the most brilliant years of my life--really my last 3 years as a child--I was 10 11 and 12 years old. I had two really good friends--the best friends of my entire childhood, named Gary Branam and Neil Compston. The three of us were in a tiny little private Christian American school together--there were perhaps 20 students all told. We played touch football at recess, and every day after school, and all day on weekends, and all summer long, we spent thousands of hours riding bikes through the woods between the 3 little towns where we lived, and flying kites, and sledding on hidden cleared hills in the woods, and stealing carrots from farmers fields, and building forts, and lingering in ccemeteries and in parks, and ... by god we just had a grand old time for those years. When my family had to leave, my profound and extremely secret grief was absolutely devastating, and I can see now that my inability (and lack of help) processing that grief led to lots of other nasty stuff in my life in the ensuing years

Sunday, November 04, 2007

More 10, 20, 30 virus

My friend Jen has posted what she was doing 10, 20, and 30 years ago, in response to my tagging her. I was moved and honored by her honesty. Thankyou Jen!

A quote from her post:

But, one of the things I have been learning in school is that
sometimes the urge to prematurely tie everything up with a nice redemptive bow
should be resisted. These are my stories. And I want to sit with
them without squirming. And it feels okay to invite you to sit with
me.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

weeping

I reread the quote below from George W. Bush in 2001, after reading the quote from him today. I wept. I'm weeping right now. The 2001 quote is so hopeful and beautiful. I wanna be like that, and be from a nation like that. The quote from today is so horrifying. I don't wanna be responsible for the torture, and the horror, and be part of a dominant white American culture that is so desperately trying to weasel its way out of the culpability. I don't wanna be in a place where we *need* to weasel our way out of the responsibility by arguing technicalities and allegations during confirmation hearings.


George W. Bush, November 3, 2007:
Since I sent his nomination to the Senate, Judge Mukasey has provided nearly six hours of testimony. He patiently answered more than 200 questions during his hearings, and he responded promptly to nearly 500 written questions. Yet some senators are working against his nomination because they want him to take a position on the legality of specific techniques allegedly used to question captured terrorists. As Judge Mukasey explained in a letter to Judiciary Committee members, he cannot give such a legal opinion for several reasons. First, he does not know whether certain methods of questioning are in fact used, because the program is classified, he's not been given access to that information, and therefore he is in no position to provide an informed opinion. Second, he does not want our professional interrogators in the field to take an uninformed opinion he has given in the course of a confirmation hearing as meaning that any conduct of theirs has put them in legal jeopardy. Finally, he does not want an uninformed legal opinion to give terrorists a window into which techniques we may use, and which we may not. That could help them train their operatives to resist questioning, and withhold vital information we need to stop attacks and save lives.



George W. Bush, January 20, 2001.
America, at its best, is compassionate. In the quiet of American conscience, we know that deep, persistent poverty is unworthy of our nation's promise. And whatever our views of its cause, we can agree that children at risk are not at fault. Abandonment and abuse are not acts of God, they are failures of love. And the proliferation of prisons, however necessary, is no substitute for hope and order in our souls. Where there is suffering, there is duty. Americans in need are not strangers, they are citizens, not problems, but priorities. And all of us are diminished when any are hopeless. Government has great responsibilities for public safety and public health, for civil rights and common schools. Yet compassion is the work of a nation, not just a government. And some needs and hurts are so deep they will only respond to a mentor's touch or a pastor's prayer. Church and charity, synagogue and mosque lend our communities their humanity, and they will have an honored place in our plans and in our laws. Many in our country do not know the pain of poverty, but we can listen to those who do. And I can pledge our nation to a goal: When we see that wounded traveler on the road to Jericho, we will not pass to the other side.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Friday video

Mars Hill church, unfortunately, just opened a branch campus about 8 blocks from my house. So now this guy's hour plus long sermons are being beamed in every Sunday morning in a vicinity way too close for my personal comfort. Alas. Warning: this may cause naseaua.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

google/myspace/facebook/microsoft

Let's face it. Myspace sucks. Facebook is about a million times better than myspace.

Google rocks.

Now it's google/myspace vs. microsoft/facebook. What is one supposed to do with that?

How kewl is this?

a church in charlotte decided to give back the equivalent of one sunday's offerings to their congregation, charging them to go out into the community and do good with it. Stories of how some of the congregants used their portions of the $40,000 are on this website.