June 29, 2004
Sneak Preview of Tiger Released
Better search. Better Finder (finally). Sweet multi-way videoconferencing in iChat AV. This cool-lookin Expose-ish Dashboard thingamabob. And a Safari RSS client.
Weisbrot: Fahrenheit 9/11 Could Change History
As always, Mark Weisbrot's insights and analyses are interesting and useful. Actually, most of the information that is delivered by the Center for Economic and Policy Research listservs is useful and interesting. I especially recommend The ERR (Economic Reporting Review) and Mark Weisbrot's Columns. (Sign up here.)
I mention these things because I just received Weisbrot's latest column on the popular "feature length op-ed" film Fahrenheit: 9/11 -- the director of this film people either love to love or love to hate or love to pretend to not care. His comments are once again thoughtful, relevant, and useful.
Army to Call Up Retired, Discharged Troops
I am shocked and dismayed by news that "about 5,600 retired and discharged soldiers who are not members of the National Guard or Reserve that they will be involuntarily recalled to active duty for possible service in Iraq or Afghanistan."
These are members of the "Individual Ready Reserve" who, according to denfenselink.mil Reserve FAQ, "consists of: Individuals who have had training, have served previously in the Active component or the Selected Reserve, and have some period of a military obligation remaining."
Army to call up retired, discharged troops
Stop the insanity.
Here's the letter I sent to Congressman Wu:
I am shocked and dismayed by news that "about 5,600 retired and discharged soldiers who are not members of the National Guard or Reserve...will be involuntarily recalled to active duty for possible service in Iraq or Afghanistan." (Quoted from article here: http://www.comcast.net/News/DOMESTIC/XML/1152_Cabinet/ceef2cab-84b5-4ade-be66-1e5bb62ccb40.html)
I understand that the Individual Ready Reserve consists of "individuals who have had training, have served previously in the Active component or the Selected Reserve, and have some period of a military obligation remaining" (http://www.defenselink.mil/ra/secondary/componentsfaq.html). But though this practice may be "legal," I wonder how it can be rationalized when tomorrow was supposed to be the scheduled power transfer to Iraq. (Although, as I understand, the transfer has already happened.) Shouldn't the U.S. be pulling out instead of preparing to send more troops?
Though I understand little about what it takes militarily to ensure the safety and security of a country in transition, I seriously question the recalling of young men and women who have already served in the military most likely enlisting to attain an otherwise unattainable goal of a college education. Though these people may have been aware of the possibility of their recall, it does seem fair to label their recall as "involuntary" and as such should be called into question.
Every day we are brought further discouraging news of the negative effects of our foreign policy and our military presence in places such as Iraq, Afghanistan, Haiti and many other places. Yet I still believe that accountability, integrity, and transparency can be practiced and witnessed by our country. By actively calling into question the acts of those in power, the people, through their elected representatives may ensure that accountability and integrity becomes a real practice in this nation.
I have been very encouraged by your voting record in the recent past and this is why I am making my concerns known to you. Please do what you can to ensure that a system of checks, balances and accountability does its noble work. Please call into question the recall of members of the Individual Ready Reserve for service in Iraq or Afghanistan.
June 25, 2004
Hangin' at the Habbo
Lil' bro Brant and I finally got a chance to check in to the Habbo Hotel. Went to the Boaz Lounge, as per TSK's instructions and had a great chat with a couple guys - one from Australia and the other from Texas. But I think, being a Friday night, the site started getting hit pretty hard and I had to leave the chat because the "words I was typin' just weren't comin' outta my mouth!" (My avatar's mouth, that is!) Oh well...I'll have to try that again another time! It was fun while it lasted.
Check in: Habbo Hotel - Home Page
Brand-name Idolatry and the Disconcerting Silence of the Church
From Naomi Klein's Fences and Windows , page 30 (July 2000):
We live in an era of the high commodity fetish, to borrow a phrase from Karl Marx. Soft drink and computer brands play the roles of deities in our culture. They are creating our most powerful iconography, they are the ones building our most utopian monuments, they are the ones articulating our experience back to us: not religions, not intellectuals, not poets, not politicians. They are all on the Nike payroll now.
In response, we are in the midst of the first stages of an organized political campaign to de-fetishize commodities, to say, no, that sneaker is not, in fact, a symbol of rebellion and transcendence. It's a piece of rubber and leather and somebody stitched the two together and I'll tell you how and how much she got paid for it and how many union organizers had to be fired to keep the price down. Commodity de-fetishization is about saying that the Mac computer has nothing to do with Martin Luther King, Jr. but does have to do with an industry bent on building information cartels. [emphasis mine]
This movement toward "de-fetishizing commoditities," is both interesting and condemning to the church today, IMO. First, it is interesting that intensley branded objects are being described as deities, or in Bible-speak, as idols. Second, it is interesting that this declaration is being made from a grass-roots, cultural, in other words "worldly" perspective. What condemns the church is that the voice of the church is largely absent from this collective declaration (though, there are certainly exceptions to this, thankfully.)
What could this mean? Has idolatry gotten so out of control and the church so overwhelmingly silent and impotent that an "Elijah vacuum" has been created?  And the church, not being willing to fill it, has handed over its power to others who are rising up as (pseduo-???) prophetic witnesses of a viral-like infection of false deities spreading throughout the world at the current rate of "free trade" proliferation?
Where is apostolic power? Where are the prophets? Where is discernment of the truth and a lie, of master and servant, of wisdom and folly, of misplaced love and affection? Where is spiritual fire, violence, and a battle against a real enemy? I fear that too soon these things will be upon us. And that we will be ill-prepared for it.
Even now, I believe, the battle rages and I find myself with so many others staring in the screen of a computer for hours at a time, willingly unwittingly consuming precious resources at an alarming rate and remaining all too ignorant and slow to see, to truly witness the signs: what is happening in the world; the effects of our noble causes, campaigns, crusades, and colonies; the pain, hurt, and the destruction that has resulted from the rejection of the Creator, of the God of love, mercy, justice, and truth.
There is a message for a world in such a state as this. There is truth to be spoken, love to be given, justice to be delivered, mercy to be granted and wisdom to be discerned. It has been given. It has come. There is a Word of love, power, healing and truth that has already come and even lived right here on this very planet. How long will we decline comment and refuse to give the world a Word of hope?
But I'm babbling again. Just raving. Just rambling. And yet haunted by the question, when will I give the world the Word of hope? When will I stop regurgitating disturbing news and begin to act and speak on what I see and hear? Or will I, too, be all-too-surprised by what is to come?
 I'm making quite a few assumptions in this post. One of them is that, I'm assuming you know who Elijah is (from the Bible) and what he did concerning idols. If not, you can read the story here. If anything else needs clarification, feel free to leave a comment or a question.
June 24, 2004
Quotable Insight of the Day
[...]Like the Internet itself, both the NGO and the affinity group networks are infinitely expandable systems. If somebody feels that he or she doesn't quite fit into one of the thirty thousand or so NGOs or thousands of affinity groups out there, she can just start her own and link up. Once involved, no one has to give up individuality to the larger structure; as with all things on-line, we are free to dip in and out, take what we want and delete what we don't. It seems, at times, to be a surfer's approach to activismreflecting the Internet's paradoxical culture of extreme narcissism coupled with an intense desire for community and connection.
Naomi Klein. From the chapter, "What's Next? The movement against global corporatism doesn't need to sign a ten-point plan to be effective" July 2000.
What do you get when you cross a virtual hotel web site with a visionary leader in the emerging Church? The rebirth of "Suddenly Seminary." According to Andrew Jones, the self-described "tall skinny kiwi" behind the blog of the same name,
Suddenly Seminary, in moving over to a virtual space, will continue to be as unorganized and fun as always, and will maintain a commitment to equip people to seed new communities in the emerging culture. Conversation will probably revolve around the themes of spirituality, ecclesiology, new media, and postmodernity. But that will be up to you.
The Habbo Hotel, "a virtual hotel where you can meet your friends and create a room of your own," will be the virtual host of what looks to be a weekly event. Having the seminary online with participants from all over the globe is the very thing I am looking for right now. Just this week, I've been scanning seminary catalogs and programs, looking for a flexible and affordable distance education program -- even if it's just for "personal enrichment" and not toward a degree.
With my debt situation being what it is, I am highly relucant to leave my job (and my ability to pay my monthly bills) for graduate school. I don't even care about the degree at this point -- I'm just interested in conversing with others wiser than myself and gaining a more solid footing in principles of interpreting and applying the Word of God. So an opportunity like Suddenly Seminary couldn't come at a better time. The only problem is that I will be at work during the proposed time slot. So maybe I can convince my brother, Brant, to participate and then he and I can talk about what was talked about. So potentially I could be vicariously attending seminary through someone who is virtually attending seminary. Ha! Was there ever a time such as this? =)
(Oh, I do hope transcripts will be archived and made available (hint hint). That would be brilliant.)
Here's the "skinny" on Suddenly Seminary from TallSkinnyKiwi's site: Invitation to Suddenly Seminary
Here's to virtual and vicarious equipping of the saints. Happy emerging!
June 23, 2004
Another take on Fahrenheit 9/11
To pathetically remedy what I think may be a bit of "tendentiousness" on my part, here's a bit of perspective on Fahrenheit 9/11 that does not look upon the film with any favor whatsoever. Some food for thought, anyway. Unfairenheit 9/11 - The lies of Michael Moore. By Christopher Hitchens
Hat tip: David.
(For a girl who doesn't read reviews, I sure have been reading a lot of reviews lately. Ahh, the life of the mercurial. I'll try on work on that consistency bit. No promises, though ::wink::)
Inspiring Interview: Economics, Freedom, and Faith
An inspiring and wonderful interview of Wendell Berry is featured in the latest issue of Sojourners Magazine. The complete interview is online here:
Berry has some facinating remarks about economics and freedom -- facinating especially to a suburbanite consumer such as myself.
Definitely worth a read.
HRW calls for independent investigation of detainee abuse
Human Rights Watch also took issue with the statement in President Bush’s Feb. 7, 2002 memorandum to members of his national security team, released yesterday, that "Our values as a nation, values that we share with many nations in the world, call on us to treat detainees humanely, including those who are not legally entitled to such treatment."
"It is incredible that the President is arguing that there is no legal requirement to treat all detainees humanely," said Roth.
NY Times Reviews Fahrenheit 9/11
Here's a delightfully written NY Times review of Moore's latest film:
Unruly Scorn Leaves Room for Restraint, but Not a Lot (Requires login. I set up a generic account for those of you who might not want to bother to register. username: sleepyheadcity password: awake)
Oh, and you might want this close by, too:
June 18, 2004
This week's commuter reading list: PHP, Sustainable Economics, The "Emerging Church", and Calligraphy
Here's this week's commuter reading list: articles on the web printed out on the blank side of former printouts for my light-rail commute-home reading pleasure.
- PHP From The Command Line, Part 1 (SitePoint)
- Web Exclusive: Wendell Berry interview complete text (Sojourners Magazine)
- When We Stop Emerging (TallSkinnyKiwi's Weblog)
And then of course, there's The Illuminated Alphabet: An Inspirational Introduction to Creating Decorative Calligraphy, which I checked out from Central the other day.
I am happy reading.
Seattle Pics and Update on Grandma
Well with all this hospital craziness* in the past few days, I'm glad I got my Seattle pics up on Gallery when I did. (I absolutely adore the iPhotoToGallery plugin -- what a blessing.) So for you close friends and family out there, here they are:
* Update on Grandma Faye: after 2 "episodes" (heart attack?? shingle pain??) Tuesday morning (at mom and dad's -- "call an ambulance") and Thursday Morning (at St. V's), they did a angiogram and found three blood clots, two in major arteries. So they put two stents in the two clogged arteries which immediately cleared up the clots and solved that problem! I saw her about an hour after the procedure was finished and she looked better than I have seen her in a long time! We are really hopeful that solving this problem will help her body combat the shingles she's had for 18 months and now that she has better blood flow (and consequently better oxygen flow), she'll be able to walk without assistance.
June 16, 2004
Donating Dignity for a False Promise
In Antonio D. Sison's article, "For Sale: Third World Kidneys," Sison uses the film Dirty Pretty Things to spark a discussion of human dignity and the cost of justice. Like many underground torrents of injustice (i.e. human slave-trade, prostitution) the black market trade of organs provides yet another false road to freedom for the indigent and destitute at the going rate of "one pound of flesh."
The ethical and philosophical questions that arise from trading organs for supposed freedom or immigration documents are plentiful, but the primary issue in my mind is that of wholeness.
There are many things that will deprive a person of wholeness. Trauma, loss, hurt, wrongdoing, violation, injustice and insidious behavior either given or received will deprive a person of fullness, wholeness, and abundance of life. How much more will a person be be deprived of an abundant life and wholeness of self when one donates a kidney for a passport? The organ donation black market seems to me to be a poignant metaphor of what is lost in our very souls when sin enters in.
So where is the hope for these people and where is our heart, as Christ's body here on earth? Have we donated our heart -- our passion and zeal for God, our feeling and compassion for the poor -- for what what some seem to regard as a free ticket to heaven?
Friends, at what point will we boldly announce the coming of hope and salvation and strive to prepare a people ready for the Lord? As the Church, as Christ's ambassadors, to leave all of this injustice and sacrifice for him to clean up when he returns again is an insult indeed to his Name, isn't it? He has already come once and told us what we need to know. Do we really need to be told twice? Let us not insult God's rule and reign by denying the present existence of his kingdom and his power.
I rant at myself as well as the Church. I am tired and desire to be aroused into consciousness, realizing that the thoughts of leaving behind the violence and injustice that only seems to increase each day is only a dream rooted in falsehood.
We are kingdom people and our king has already staked his claim. He has already come once. He is indeed here with us now as the head of the Body of Christ by the Holy Spirit. If you think the sounding of some trumpets is going to make the reality of God's kingdom sink into your heart, then go ahead and wait. I, for one, don't want to be caught with no oil in my lampstand.
We cannot call a people to fullness of life in Christ, salvation, and hope if we, the Church have sacrificed our own heart for false promises. Let us return to the feet of God's throne and rest awhile in his presence. Maybe then we will realize, that all else is for naught.
June 15, 2004
Surviving Creative Burnout
Hat tip: Kevin (from work).
June 08, 2004
Advertising a Call for Justice to the Arab World
My office-mate passed this along to me: it's a Web site called faithfulamerica.org and they have an ad they would like to put on a prominent Arab television station in which several people of various faiths state:
[Ad transcript:] "A Salaam A'alaykum ["Peace be with you" in Arabic]. As Americans of faith, we express our deep sorrow at abuses committed in Iraqi prisons. We stand in solidarity with all those in Iraq and everywhere who demand justice and human dignity. We condemn the sinful and systemic abuses committed in our name, and pledge to work to right these wrongs."
"This message was endorsed and paid for by thousands of Americans. www.faithfulamerica.org" [Appears on screen at end of ad]. Speakers - Rev. Dr. Don Shriver, Imam Feisal Abdur Rauf, Sister Betty Obal and Rabbi Arthur Waskow.
Definitely an interesting idea. Check it out.
June 05, 2004
Been away for awhile. Too busy for words. Even typed words. Need rest. Need peace. Need love.
Something just ain't right. All over, from my dyed hairs to my unpainted toes, something beneath my skin simmers, fires, melts, (refines? I can only hope.)
Learned something the other day. You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink. Or be bothered to show up. (I know, I know. Had to work. I heard. I heard.) This cute little proverb also apparently applies to at least one man. It's too bad about that. (Yes, I know, I know. Had to work. Not his fault. I heard. I heard.)
Somethin' just ain't right. All over the planet. All over my heart. Somethin' just ain't right. Something's brewing. I can just tell. People are moving. Restless. Jittery-like. On the verge of tears, but the tears won't come. On the edge of a knife, but the knife is dull and unsharpened and won't cut for anyone. Somethin' just ain't right.
The dove descending breaks the air
With flame of incandescent terror
Of which the tonges declare
The one discharge from sin and error.
The only hope, or else despair
Lies in the choice of pyre or pyre
To be redeemed from fire by fire.
Who then devised the torment? Love.
Love is the unfamiliar Name
Behind the hands the wove
The intolerable shirt of flame
Which human power cannot remove.
We only live, only suspire
Consumed by either fire or fire.
T.S. Eliot, Little Gidding IV
I want to be done. Well-done. (And not too crispy or crumbly, please.)
When I first met you girl
You had fire in your soul
I want to be done.