Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Music of the Year + 3 that Got Away

I bought maybe three or four records this year. Two of them from this year. I did get a few freebies and all, but most were ep's or downloads that I only listened to a few times before I lost the copies (which is easy to do in a year when you lose two computers and gain another two...). And although I enjoyed GirlTalk, I'm not drawn into it.

1) Al Green Lay It Down
The Good Rev's return to Stax-sounding soul could be seen as a gimmick, like when modern divas "collaborated" with old dead men or when old classics made "duets" records with present day B-grade stars. But, for the time being, it just feels so right, it's got to be good:

(FWIW, these vids suck - sorry. In this case, the recent concert vids featuring Al suck even more, so I decided not to give my readers a case of motion-sickness and opt for max audio q)

2) She & Him Volume One
After awhile, I think I grew weary of the neo-hipster country ("More slide guitar!" can never replace "More cowbell!"), but there are some wonderful songs on this disc that made me smile. I'm a definite sucker for that wall-of-sound pure pop that made a brief appearance in Arcade Fire's Funeral but then overcame some bighaired girl's record. Here, there is just the right amount and plenty of variety (at least the first several songs, including the Roy Orbison-esque "I Was Made for You"):


Honorable mentions:
I don't have these records... ladies. Or, yet. But I will soon; and when I do, it's over...
Ladies.

Sam Phillips Don't Do Anything
I love her leathery voice. And her penchant for writing poetic yet acidic verse on top of sparse but Beatles-esque pop melodies is unmatched. So, why haven't I bought anything new from her since that Martinis and Bikinis cassette in the mid-90's? Because this album wasn't released until this year, that's why. And here, her skills seem to be in top form.


TV on the Radio Dear Science
I loved the last album so much that I named it my favorite record of the year (actually, it was top 6. But looking back, it may be top 2 or so). And that's when I was able to buy music and a lot of wonderful stuff came out. This one seems to add hip-hop as well as hip-hop optimism. It's like their angry, muted Stax horns are being shared by PM Dawn. And I ain't complainin':


Bon Iver For Emma, Forever Ago
This is the type of quiet, introspective music that I could probably only listen to after some intense TVotR, but nevertheless, I'm getting old and this is just sounding more and more palatable to my ears. But then again, I can stand some falsettos occasionally. It's been rated high enough by enough trusted ears where I'm giving it some more listens and may take the plunge soon enough.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Visited States Map


[EDIT] h/t to Arachnerd
Click here for your own map.

I'm a loser. I admit it. Most of these states were fly-bys (often at speeds exceeding what I'd feel comfy driving at now). But still, these are the - admittedly Midwestern-centric - states that I've visited or at least drove through (if they're on the East Coast, I most likely just drove through them with the exceptions of Georgia and, overnight once a piece, Virginia and New York).

Caveat lector: I'm not sure how Louisiana ended up on this map. I don't think I was any part of any hurricane rescue...

Weekend Links We Like to Link to - Bah hamburglar

1) Because me Spanish is no so good (and yours may need a little workout too):

Click here if vid isn't working.
and, yes, it's very similar to the wonderful First and Second Semester Spanish Spanish Love Songs. Which is why it's so wonderful.

2) Thanks to astute (Micah's World) reader Reg, I now know that my high school students did not have the most interesting names in the world - but they just might if backers of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez get their way. There was a bill being sent through the National Assembly earlier this month, according to the Times, that would make a list of registered children's names and pare that list down to one hundred. So, no more Tutankamen del Sol, Kleiderman Jesús, Yureimi Klaymar, Yusneidi Alicia, Yusmary Shuain, Kleiderson Klarth and Yusmery Sailing.
So long, Hengelberth, Maolenin, Kerbert Krishnamerk, Githanjaly, Yornaichel, Nixon and Yurbiladyberth.

Was that kid's name Mao Lenin? And another was named Nixon? What's next, a Ronald Reagan, maybe a few Hitlers? ohh, nevermind...

3) OK, this is transcendent wonderment. The octogenarian rock & roll choir Young@Heart performing "Purple Haze." The performers seem to take these songs to be both tongue-in-cheek and fun, but yet it's all so touching and real. Really real. Every. Last. Word. Of it.

Again, click here if vid doesn't play.

fwiw, in honor of the couple who came by for dinner last night, I wanted to play one of the two musical geniuses that came out of Seattle. And out of those two, Hendrix beats Cobain in my book most nights. But I just saw this clip the other day and thought it to be a wonderful confluence of art and life. So, there you go.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Baby Urban Outfitters Model?











Note the dispassionate, detached look, the post-ironic koala shirt and vintage sweater, the black skinny-pants and the sparkly shoes. I think we have a toddler hipster on our hands.

My question: if one is posing as a member of a group that is made up of self-aware poseurs, doesn't that automatically make one an authentic member of that group?

In other words, does Joss get a pass to subscribe to Paper and argue about hipster bands that are so new they don't even exist yet? PBR is out of the question, as is American Apparel, but PB&J and the Cool Kids are okay, right?

Friday, December 12, 2008

News of the Weird - In Hizzoner

In honor of the dishonored, here comes a two-fer:
Voters in tiny Sodaville, Oregon, population 290, elected Thomas Brady Harrington, 33, mayor in November, despite a criminal rap sheet that included robbery, eluding a police officer, illegal firearms possession, reckless endangerment, and assorted other charges. One resident trying t explain the outcome suggested that voters might have confused Harrington with his father , local businessman Thomas L. Harrington.
By the way, according to the Lebanon-Express, he took on the incumbent mayor and whooped her behind! A whopping 79-66 votes. Yes, it does make Wasilla look still silly, but still... read on.
Further news from the Express details that Harrington became interested in local politics when he found out that a previous city recorder embezzled $30,000.*

In Massachusetts in November, a Suffolk County judge turned down a compensation claim by Robert Aldrich, described by prosecutors as a career criminal, for income lost during "wrongful" incarceration after he'd been illegally arrested for burglary. The judge said she'd been able to find any "income" Aldrich migh have earned during his six months in jail aside from home-improvement work he admittedly kept "off the books" to avoid paying taxes, but a prosecution spokesman summed it up more bluntly: "The defendant is a career B & E (breaking and entering) man seeking compensation for burglaries he couldn't commit while locked up."

According to The Boston Globe, Aldrich the judge may have allowed Mr. Aldrich to make some collection on his "lost" under-the-table dealings, if she had believed that he was making as much as he was claiming. The problem may have been, however, that Aldrich was claiming $4000 per month for a total of sixty-seven thousand dollars. Furthermore, although previous judges had ruled his arrest as 'wrong', she looked over the evidence in the cases provided and had no doubt that he had committed the burglaries.
Natch.

via Chuck Shepherd in "News of the Weird" from Chicago Reader, December 11, 2008 edition, p. 79. (btw, notice how in previous editions of my NotW I would list the page around 100? 88 pages total, this time. Papers are shrinking...)

*The faux-journalist in me says that I should report that he didn't mean it that way, that he seems troubled by the ineptitude of the council and how it has not been looking for solutions for its monies- or water-shortages. But if you want that, that's why we give you the source...

Thursday, December 11, 2008

You Blag-Head!

Bla-Lego-vich is courtesy of spydrz (via Twitter)

Facebook status updates on our dear (ex-? One can hope) gov.

Jason Ol' Rod, we hardly knew ye good side: http://tinyurl.com/5zxpbk.
omg, he was going to use his appointing leverage to get himself a seat in obama's cabinet - as secretary of health and human services! - or as a high-ranking union official for a union-backed candidate, according to the trib.
http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/chi-rod-blagojevich-illinois-governor-2,0,4785755.story

he also, according to the suit & trib, sought to have trib editors fired in exchange for state backing of trib sellings - incl. wrigley field.

i mean, of all the things to soil wrigley w/ (as if frats, gawkers, bad baseball, broken promises, and boatloads of cheap, warm beer weren't enough), this just takes the poop-cake!

DN:
Will he be able to appoint a Senator from his jail cell? And will the Senate seat said appointee? It'll be interesting to see what goes down...

i think that that power is just so wrong in the first place. nobody trusted g-rod w/ that appointment in the first place. but i don't think anybody actually thought... jeepers.

as my wife said, here's to hoping mayor daley follows his accomplice du' nincompoopse.

DN:
That's a good one!

Maybe there's something in the water supply in Springfield...

Jason Dye:
here's the kicker: neither daley, obama nor blags are in the least bit 'friends', but they all live in separate neighborhoods in chicago. i think the last gov (ryan) lived in springy.

here's another thing, daley (like his father) wields a LOT of power, but he's got his machine wielded too tightly to get taken down (at least from where i sit. definitely not by anyone in chicago). he's been tied to one fed-exposed scheme conspiracy after another, but he makes reagan look like velcro. he gets away scot-free every time.

obama's shrewd enough to distance himself (for the most part) from any of these feuds / power-plays. mccain tried to make those associations stick but they couldn't.

g-rod, otoh, was just shrewd enough to get himself elected (based on, of course, good ol' illinois nepotism - that he turned his back on!), but built too many enemies to stay politically viable for long w/o sinking. which is prob why he tried so hard to leverage that appointment...

--------

KS's wondering if Rod will get his hair cut....

Jason Dye:
what a set-up, k---. ok, here goes:

Jason Dye:
only if they could exterminate the bees out first.

Jason Dye:
next preferred style for blagosjovic: corn-rows.

after airing the infamous clip of blags from monday where he says, "I have nothing to hide," john stewart says, "except what is on my forehead. my guess is, it says, 'bribe me.'"

in prison, he'll still carry on his political-given nickname, only amended. cell-mates will be heard saying, "that's G-Rod, Bruno's Be-otch."

KS:
You have way too much free time ;)

i wish. i thought of those during my semi-weekly shower.

but, if you so desire, i'll supply more after i cool down from this craaazy week.

----------

CD would like to know what's going on with our Illinios governors, are they not paying you enough ?

JFD:
I didn't know we had more than one governor.
Unless you referring to the multiple personalities of G-Rod.

CD:
no I was referring to our previous governor that was caught selling cdl's

JFD:
ah yes . . .

Jason Dye:
yeah, seriously, though. i wonder how blaggy kept on complaining that he needed more money and how he came to be in such financial constraints that he would ALLOW HIMSELF TO BE TAPED TRYING TO EXTORT BRIBES...

i mean, besides the fact that he's a big dummy.

fwiw, ryan got the bribes while he was secretary of state. tried to cover it up while gov.

CD:
regardless of that fact, I hate that b'cuz you rose to those ranks does not give you the right to be corrupt while us ppl on bottom are starving

CD:
I hope O'bama does something bout corruptness in our gov't I really hold that mainly responsible for the economy
yep, and he rose through the ranks by marrying a powerful state rep's daughter. and then he back-stabbed that whole family as soon as he got in office!

CD:
well thats our govt for you

------------------

AS can't believe the mockery of goverment in IL.

Jason Dye:
hey, so do you think our next guv will bring up our education status so that we're 48th out of 50? or just get arrested?

DW:
I think we should declare his residence in Chicago as the new Governors mansion, and when he is booted out of office - declare eminent domain, and take it :D

Oh, and he is a tool who steals our money
---------

WVK is proud Illinois is living up to its reputation.

CH:
lol!

RU:
Tell me about it

AT:
Yay for Pat Fitzgerald, for exposing all this. The message--that outrageous corruption is not accepted as status quo--actually fills me with hope.

continuing our long, proud tradition of gubernatorial convicts beginning w/ bugsy malone, al capone and johnny cash.

CBP:
wow...who knew?!

(please note intended sarcasm :) )

WT:
This is pretty low. I hope Illinois doesn't have the potential to go any lower....but I have my doubts.

AP:
What a mess!!!

------------

AT is yet again amazed by Patrick Fitzgerald's cojones, and hopes Obama does not replace him.

fitz is THE MAN!

i would not wanna get on his bad side. i wouldn't want him running for office, becoming mayor or gov or even AG. but, for what he's set up to do, he's the best.

---------------

And finally, the first person to comment on this story in my facebookiverse, my wife:

JFD hopes Daley follows G-Rod to his happy place.

PA:
are there puppies and kittens and rainbows and sunshine in the happy place?

MP:
Preach it.

JAS:
Amen

Jason Dye:
jfd,
let's hope so, babes. although i fear daley's too shrewd.

pa,
i hope not. but then again, blago does strike me a as a bit odd...

PA:
i wonder how many more secrets are hiding in his hair...

MR:
i'm very curious what daley and roderick are up to, since i'm not in chicago and haven't seen chicago news for a while.

MP:
MR: What are they up to? They are up to no good. As usual.

MR:
well, yeah ... that's a given. and i love how they've retained their offices (probably through the cemetery vote).

i don't know how/why rod got his 2nd term. but richie's got his machine pulling all the right strings. it'd be a beautiful symphony if they were playing the right tune.


I now understand why people don't regularly blog their facebook status updates. Re-formatting was a not-nice piece-o'-work --- so I didn't even finish.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Where's the Thanks?

A recently-ended siege in India ends after over 170 civilians die. A post-election riot in Nigeria kills over three hundred. A temporary Wal-Mart worker gets trampled to death underneath a shopping mob right here in the US of A. And the economy is in the tank pretty much everywhere. What is there to be thankful for?

Seriously, count your blessings:

Jesus (beautiful, wonderful, majestic, love, self-sacrificing, teaches me how to be the image of God, how to be a father, how much God loves me)
God the Father (one with Jesus and the Holy Spirit, righteous judge, everlasting love / wisdom / shalom / justice, sanctified and sanctifying, the Father from whom all other fathers derive their name)
God the Holy Spirit (one with God the Father and Jesus, peace, comfort, guides into all truth)
Wife (generous, considerate, activist, Jesus-loving, green and gorgeous-eyed, wide-smiling, funny)
Daughter (joyous, inconsolably cute, attentive, curious... did I mention really, really cute?)
Extended family (three of them! that's three times the fun!)
Home
Affordable rent
Love
Available internet
Sonseed
Clothes, lots of clothes especially for the baby. So many clothes that we trip over them in our room.
Coffee
Flavored creamer
Steady, free, clean, delicious water
Plenty of food (this may go into negative pile, too)
BubbleLand, (decent) Bank, and Dunkin Donuts/Baskin Robbins right across the street
Christmas
Wonderful friends (from current and past churches, in community, friends of family, friends of friends,
Facebook (which allows us to keep in contact with friends and family)
The funny
Classic Al Green; and neo-classic Al Green
Readily available public transportation (we live not far from downtown; we live a block away from a train station, we live off three major arteries - Fullerton, Milwaukee and Western) and now, thanks to our friend Roland, we have use of a car (and we live a mile from a major interstate)
Living in the Golden Age of Comic-Book-to-Movie adaptations
A working, cozy kitchen
The English language
My small group
The New York Times online
The kick-off of Nexus Foundation (more on that later)
Short, sweet, well-crafted one-liners
Turkey meats
Being paid for writing (hopefully, more of that later)
Pizza
Being insured again
Wife's new full-time job
Finding free and affordable (but guilt-free) music, including long out-of-print albums I used to own (on cassette, of course)
Good health
"Let's Spend the Day in Bed" by Over the Rhine
Trip to Colombia this year
Education
Our church
Zooropa
Available money
Drastically lowering debts
0% APR introductory rates for credit transfers (heck, anything lower than 24.99%) into our own bank
"Sentimental Heart" by She & Him
Obama as president (a black man as president. Someone who's actually been and worked with/for the poor in the White House. Yes, I'm excited)

What else?
I'll keep updating as I think of more. But, please, feel free to put a list of your own as well in the comments.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Weekend Links We Like to Link to - Thanksgiving Tradition

I should just call this blog "Links We Like to Link to," eh?

What is Thanksgiving if not tradition? Sometimes slightly altered tradition (this day, both my wife and I will be hosting our first T-day dinner. That's definitely a first). Stuffing (also, I remembered yesterday while serving at my church's homeless ministry, referred to as "dressing"), cranberry sauce, turkey, ham, pumpkin pie, mashed potatoes, family, fist-fights, parades, watching and playing football, prayers of thanks, Charlie Brown, psalms, turducken, little kids tables, etc. We also need to add to the list reading about Pilgrims (and Puritans) and, of course, flying turkeys.

Books & Culture's book of the week, reviewed by Abram van Engel, a student of the Puritans, is Sarah Vowell's The Wordy Shipmates (you may know her from "This American Life" and The Incredibles). She asks, what is worth redeeming from the Puritans' culture?

WKRP in Cincinatti classic, courtesy of Micah World.

Classic Christianity Today article about Puritans' love of music.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Weekend Links We Like to Link to - The Chicago Reader Edition

In a vain and fleeting hope of keeping this semi-thematic, here goes:
The Chicago Reader is a free weekly alternative press that's been fairly progressive and leftist since it was founded by some old hippies back in the day (I wanna say 60's, but it may have been well into the 70's). Due to what is happening to all print media and the ever-decreasing dollar amount for ad revenue being spread about between more media, it's not what it was even a year and a half ago (when they sold it... man), but it still has good reporting, a lot of history and enough generally to make some fuss about. For instance:

Obama! Love the man, love what he represents. And like a South Vietnamese hooker's promise*, been loving him a long time. And I know that The Reader was also optimistic about having him in the Oval Office, certainly over his rival - even if they weren't given to smitten-ness and blind optimism like Rolling Stone and, y'know, me. Certainly not the scary folks here, many of whom protested the cover to the left as being racist. Because, as you must know, no white elected official would ever be called to question at any point by anybody.

gees please louis.

Just to recap, during the week leading up to the election, the Reader had to decide in true Chicago newsie (Dewey / Truman?) fashion who should end up with their cartoon likeness with something snarky in the title. Obama was comfortably leading, so they decided to go with him. However, it may have come on some bad timing, as many people who did not necessarily support Obama for president were nevertheless extremely joyous that a man of color won the presidency. Also, images and soundbites travel faster than any sort of prevailing context. So to some people, they see a picture of a black man together with a title saying, "Hey, don't screw this up," they automatically assume the worse. All of a sudden, it's no longer about the fact that there's finally a Democrat in power, or a progressive, or even a minority and that the world is looking at him to see how he (representing them/us) navigates it all - but now it's about this expectation that a black man is supposed to take our blundering country to even worse depths than imaginable? If this were National Review, maybe I could see that...

Speaking of Obama and Chicago, Ben Joravsky makes the case that Barack will not be Mayor Daley's dummy in DC. In fact, Joravsky argues, Daley and Bush are like best of friends so Daley will need to get in line this time around a definite step-down.

And speaking of zealots who lose people to their cause, here is a letter sent to Cecil Jones at "The Straight Dope" column:

Dear Cecil:

I was shocked by your highly ignorant column on "when life begins" (can't find article). You have a very conservative approach, and a misogynistic one at that. I appreciate your attempt at explaining brain waves. But what your article lacked was a woman's right to her body, and you had an even more disturbing view on rape. Apparently, you need to take a woman's course or ethics course. You included research on a boy's soul being present at 40 days, and a girl's at 80 days, but you failed to acknowledge how sexist that view is. Furthermore, you genderized your "child" at the end as a "he." True, "he" is one of us, but are you responsible for raising him? A woman's body is her own …

If the child was a mistake, it is up to the woman to decide if she wants to keep him/her. Men have used the power of impregnation over women for too long. Too many men do not understand how much work and money it takes to raise children (the same goes for some women). A woman's right to choose is her ticket to sexual freedom. A man's version of when "life" supposedly begins is HIS DEFINITION OF POWER OVER HER. A man does not know and will never be able to understand what having a child is like.

Silly male monkey, tricks are for kids.

Cecil replies:

Nothing personal, arcane_eye, but you're one of the reasons we got stuck with eight years of George Bush.

While I'm sure you're a splendid human being in person, in your letter you come across as a self-centered ninny, and you make the kinds of arguments that drive the religious right to new heights of zeal.
Read the whole response here.

FWIW, I'm not sure if I would qualify myself as part of the religious right, but she drove me up the wall. Fortunately, Adams answer drove a middle ground that I think more people should seek, at least in terms of policy. (I do consider myself pro-life. But for me and friends like me that means more concentration on ending extreme poverty, war, injustice, domestic abuse, etc. then it does trying to make abortions illegal.)

*From what I've heard. In Platoon.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Ready for our close-up, baby!

First ever YouTube video. I may or may not take it down soon. In fact, you may never, ever hear from me again, depending on how my wife feels after finding out I uploaded this little ditty. (And yes, I always have hated the song in the background.) Anyway, I think all the hot chicks in this video are smookin'!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Weekly Links We Like to Link to: the Mostly Religious Edition

Roger Ebert on the happy occasions of when religions correct their more hateful and fear-inducing trends.

Speaking of religion, if your blasphemy meters register at a low level, you might not wanna click here, but for everyone else who thought that superheroes (particularly Spider-Man) could've done some major help in the Bible, there's this. (h/t to Wasp Jerky Kevin via FB)

Seth Godin wrote a prescient piece on the power of the organized. (It wasn't all about the economy, y'know.)

And, lastly, Jesus Creed-er John Frye does the woman at the well with a Fundie Jesus (Startled, Jesus said, “How is it that you, a Samaritan, ask me, a Jew, for a drink?”), an Emergent-Talking Jesus (A Samaritan woman-”the other to the second power”-approached the community’s gathering space, carrying the symbol of her status in a harsh patriarchal culture.), an Oprah Jesus (Today’s show will feature a Samaritan woman whose story you just have to hear. Her’s is a story of heartbreak and shame, of isolation and pending hopelessness. I’ve invited her to come and tell us some of her story.), and a Sopranos Jesus:

Jesus: Whattaya mean you ain’t got no man? You got a man. Oh, yeah, you gotta man. You’ve had Vinnie, Rocco, Stephany, Michael, and Bracco. And now you livin’ with Tony. Am I right?

Woman (shocked): How’d ya know?! You got some snitch in town? You got no right to go snoopin’ ’round in my life.

h/t to Scot McKnight

God in our own image indeed.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Weekly Links We Like to Link to: Election Day

One of the biggest, ahem, distortions of the McCain campaign that's ticked me off (but in a laughable sense) is that Obama is a socialist or that his policies are socialist. McCain knows that that isn't true in the least, but that hasn't stopped him and his campaign from attacking him as such - even though his running mate strictly "shared the wealth." It's just a stupid call, it's distortive, it's divisive, it's a bastardization of truth and of the work of governance. Let's just cut to the chase, eh?

Eugene Cho lets us know who he's voting for, without directly saying it. And I love this car:



Millenials, I don't know what to say... I was born at the tail end of the "Gen X" era, so it's not like I'm all that separated from this generation, but I can't help but feel that they are the most coddled and spoiled one ever. But then I have to consider that we are both products of the most divisive generation ever. Boomers were the first generation to not just defy their parents (who hasn't), but to openly and disrespectfully do so. Ayers was part of a generational seismic shift and merely spoke for his confused times when he said, "Kill all parents." Millenials are like the youngest children from that generation, and like most youngest children, they see more primarily than the others the hypocrisy of their parents, who ask us to trust them now that they've well broached the age of 35 and have left us all with massive debt (that we're still adding to) while burning resources at premium rates.
Hopefully, that wasn't just a rant (that too, of course) but may give some perspective to this:

"Gen Y" or "The Millennials" Gets Wake-up Call with Economic Crisis- ...and Have Little Faith Either Presidential Candidate can Halt the Economic Meltdown

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Weekend Links We Like to Link to: The All Videos Edition

Author and Native Sherman Alexie on Stephen Colbert. One of the best non-enlightening interviews (well, maybe indirectly enlightening. I wonder how few Americans are aware of the smallpox-soaked blankets distributed during the Trail of Tears) I've seen/read in a long time:



View here if not working.

And, in the interest of non-partisanship and equal time to the other side, The Daily Show. Here they are with a brilliant, although quite late, send-up of the really insipid attacks that certain Republicans and rabid anti-Obamaites have made against community organizers:



click here if not working.

Jared Diamond of the intriguing Guns, Germs, and Steel and Collapse books (about the rises of certain civilizations over others, and the fall of others) on sustainability here (sorry, can't figure out how to embed player). For smaller version, and more context, go here. Note: I haven't read Collapse so I'm not sure myself how he would define the collapse of civilization (as he does early on in referencing Bosnia and Rwanda), but my guess is that it may have something to do with genocide. The fall of the civilization, however, according to him, is not nearly the same as the extinction of its people - yet he refers to one people group that did die out and five points that lead to such extinction. So, I'm also curious how he feels Colombia is near this fall.
It's just something that I'm thinking about doing an article on...

And finally, elections are two days away. Everybody knows who I'm gonna vote for. As for you, you can vote however you like.



Make no doubt about it, these middle school kids know their stuff better than most adults (especially those who aren't voting). This cat has the lyrics.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Post 601

I really should do something special for this one.

So, here you go y'all:

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Weekly Links We Like to Link to: Huh?

No promises on the political front this time. I'll just say that it's not as partisan as I tend to be.

Sand Pirates of the Caribbean?
These cats are taking off with hundreds of truckloads of sand (used for building material) out of both private and public lands. Ecologically, at least, it's a baaad idea. Aarrgh!

Professor Glen C. Rowly considers a time when he was caught between his friend (who self-identified himself as Black even though he could easily pass) and complete strangers at a Black Panther meeting and how we sometimes betray our friends and other aspects and responsibilities of ourselves in order to be accepted into our tribes. - as well as how our tribal identity fits in with our politics and worldview and visa versa. Our identities are complex, and our responses to calls of the tribe should be nuanced (My thoughts, not necessarily his).

What is it now, two weeks? I think this is how the last stretch should end.

via HuffingtonPost
. And thanks to Art for reminding me again that I should always check my posts!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Weekend Links We Like to Link to - Happy News (?)

Sorry it took so long to post. Been trying to get some jobs out there and trying not to post on political stuff.

Good to know that not all rich people are stingy. Warren Buffet (whom I heard really recently overtook Bill Gates as the richest person in the world) is not only the first or second richest person, but also the biggest donor among billionaires (in terms of amount donated vs actual wealth) . Gates is second on this list. How much is Buffet worth? Fifty-two billion dollars. How much has he given recently? Between 2001-2006 he donated over $46 billion. Of course, once you hit over 20 billion smackaroonies, you really gotta ask, "Besides become my own superhero - or trying to take one down - what else could I do with this excess moola?"
via Relevantmagazine.com

I had some thoughts about this topic - Christian teenagers going off to college and (at least temporarily) storing their religion away (and not losing it as popularly believed) - and I recognized that my thoughts on it wouldn't fit into this format. So, I'll continue reading this article (and see what else I can find on it) and post my thoughts up on ChicagoDads.
h/t to MarkO

Okay, here's the happy news:

Can it get any more giddy than that?
h/t to MarkO

Monday, October 20, 2008

Say Hi to your mother for me

I just can't help myself. I think it's the funniest SNL non-political skit I've seen at least since Lazy Sunday.



and the follow-up:

Saturday, October 18, 2008

I think that...

... it's a bad idea to pay people to get signatures through canvassing without first training them in basic electoral ethics and on how to verify identities and then verifying identities and party affiliations yourself. You'll end up with a bunch of phony names (as many of ACORN's freelancers did), or end up 'accidentally' changing people's party affiliations to Republican (as YPM has done in California and Florida). [Update: Please don't send voter registration material to dead goldfish. It only further confuses people.]

... it's not just overly dramatic but disingenuous to state that your opponents' allies are threatening "to tear apart the very fabric of democracy itself" when what your opponents' allies are doing (registering fake voters who could never show up to vote even if they made it through all of the checkpoints anyway) poses no real threat to the democratic process while what your allies do (making it harder for Democrats and Independents to actually vote) does. After all, can anyone believe ACORN itself (and not some of its laziest workers) wants a fictional character like Mickey Mouse to be registered as a Democrat, when it would be so much easier to trick an actual, living registered Republican into switching party allegiance - thereby increasing the odds that he would not vote?

... if a major candidate keeps espousing the inherent goodness and "real patriot"-ism of small town folks, if she quotes from a Dixiecrat apologist who told Bobby Kennedy that he hopes someone would shoot him square in the head in defense of these small town values, then maybe she should expect that those fearful and god-forsaken big cities and suburbs (and the people groups that fill them) will probably not want to vote for her. Maybe, in fact, she doesn't really love all of America herself. But that would make her anti-American.

... if that same candidate says about her foe that she fears that "he just doesn't love America like you or I" while she is married to a man who was part of a secessionist group (you know, if you want to play the associative game here, think of the last great secessionist group - that's right, the Confederates), she should probably shut her big trap.

... when a congressperson calls into question the patriotism her fellow congresspeople based on the fact that they do not believe as she believes or the way that she believes it - and in fact calls for a witch-hunt to snuff out those anti-Americans and un-patriotic Americans from public duty - she needs to be laughed out of public service. Her kind of rhetoric is vitriolic and dangerous. But above all, mentally retarded.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

We educate those we care about.

From Jason Linkins, live blogging the debate at HuffPost.

Let me ask you: Can you remember a debate in which some moderator did not bring up poor math/science scores? Schieffer says the problem is an "obvious" one. Seems to me that it's not, considering that it keeps coming up, again and again. Here's the truth: America is best in the world at education the students that America WANTS to educate. When you exclude the children that no one cares about educating, U.S. scores exceed the world by every measure. Now, who are the kids that no one wants to educate? Well, I'll put it this way: there's a reason that hearing John McCain call education a "civil rights issue" sets my hypocrisy alarm off.

Personally, I'm not saying that McCain's in the wrong on this one. Or Democrats, Republicans, teachers, teacher unions, principals, Congress, presidential administrations (although I despise NCLB). But I think he makes a great point. The students that we don't care to educate are the ones with the crappiest education. We are failing, failing, failing in urban schools and specifically with minority and impoverished students (which would include many rural districts as well). This is evident in the way that the teachers are overworked until they are spent and either leave early (often for greener pastures), retire from classroom teaching, or continue to deaden their senses (there are, of course, remarkable people who stay on and enlarge their profession and everyone benefits. But few and far between...). Pressure is everywhere put on already burdened teachers - especially new teachers who have and then waste all this energy. It's just not sustainable.

What we need is a full-frontal attack. Not regulations that have elementary teachers constantly teaching to the test for most of the year (the ramifications will be evident when our inner city schools - which are already behind - produce more students who were not taught to think during those formative years); not shutting down schools to start from scratch (at least not necessarily, and certainly not as a threat); not blaming teachers/parents/principals/students. Solutions to these problems could be as simple and yet effective as running clinics like those run by the Harlem Children's Zone that teaches parents how to raise their kids so that they would have the best options (their so-called Baby College is a series of early education workshops for parents where they teach clear and proven skills like, "Read regularly to your kids," and, "Spanking the children teaches them to use force to resolve differences" and "Put your child first so that she will succeed"). We need to do simple stuff like open more urban (and rural) preschools and doing early intervention. How about encouraging corporations and small businesses to sponsor high schools (not, in any case, exclusively, but as one of many)? How about introducing students to various levels of thought and industry in a hands-on method early on? Empowering churches, synagogues, mosques, non-profits, etc. to do more direct and unified community outreaches (after-school programs or homework assistance, for instance) that are less sectarian and more pro-student.

And then there's the money. Many urban (and rural, for that matter) school buildings are run-down and the teacher-to-student ratio is 1:30 in Chicago (sometimes much, much higher). You invest in that you truly care about. In Chicago we are losing 400 million dollars that should be set aside for schools each year to pet projects for industries (TIFFs). Our future is being flushed down the toilet so that Trump and Boeing will consider doing a few more years worth of business in the city and so that developers will keep having unfettered access to clear out the poor. That is bad business. That is bad economics. That is bad humanity.

The children of poor and minority families are suffering because we don't care enough to put them as high enough of a priority. And that's a shame on all of us. All. Of. Us.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Intentionality and theology of eradicating poverty



Today is Blog Action Day. I was not aware of this day nor its principal action: Fight Poverty. And I'm pretty sure there's a billion ways to talk about this. I could write about how about one half of the world lives on less than two dollars a day. I could talk about the fact that no matter how you try to spin it, two dollars a day is barely sufficient for life no matter where you are. I could talk about how few people get to live the life of luxury that even someone as "poor" as I do lives (I mean, we just bought two computers this year, we have instant access to medical care, we have at least some line of credit, we have clean and running water, our baby is healthy and well-fed and will most likely make it through to the age of three...), I could talk about the fact that though our economy is hitting the sink it really, really effects still-developing countries, I could talk about how many children die of starvation everyday, I could try to convince you to play Save the Planet app of Facebook because then at least you may do something...

Indeed, I could talk about all these things, and they are all tangible things. But I'm not so much into guilt as into motivation. I kind of want make it personal and tell how my mind has changed in the last few years.

It's not that I've never cared before. I would try to help the homeless around me. I would occasionally send money to distant places as a result of a tragedy. I became a teacher specifically for the poor and minorities in my city. These were good things and I'm not knocking them at all, but my faith wasn't at the center of my activities. I did them because I thought God wanted me to do them, sure, but I would have felt guilty if I hadn't. There was no real correlation between my faith and my (sporadic at times) deeds.

What I've discovered since then is not that God wants to bring us all to be with him in heaven forever, so forget about the earth, and you can forget about the poor (eventually), but that God is making plans to bring heaven down to earth. He is restoring all of the heavens and earth to the wonderful way it was at Creation. Lion lays down with the lamb, wipe away every tear, etc. What I discovered is that it is integral to God's mission - through Jesus - to feed the poor, heal the sick, and not just a part of God's mission on the way out of this world.

There is that old adage, Charity begins at home. We've tried to be intentional about that. For us, that means being informed about greater patterns in the world, about being involved in a local level, about welcoming people into our homes (sometimes to stay), about partaking in conversations and trying to gather and spread information that's useful, about making meals, about raising our daughter as a just and kind person. It is about being generous with what we have while preparing groundwork to be even more generous.

I have a lot of debts that we're trying to pay down. Having loads of debt (if this recent economic downturn is teaching Americans one thing, I hope it's this) keeps us from collecting wealth. And those of us with generous hearts, I think, should be gathering wealth to spread it. I think part of the problem is, we wait for the uber-rich, the two percent of the population who hold an ill-proportionate amount of the world's wealth in their hands, to do the work of ending poverty and sharing their wealth. Yet, with few exceptions (think the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation), the wealth consolidate their wealth. There's certainly more reasons to do this than I could possibly fathom, and they're all not selfish reasons at all. The thing to learn from this, however, is:
  1. We cannot wait for a fraction of a percentage of the world's population to do our work for us.
  2. Everyone who reads this blog has the ability - somehow and in some way - to generate and share resources.
  3. Make sure that the ways that we share our resources are sustainable and beneficial. In other words, giving a man a fish is fine, but it only lasts for a day. Teaching that man to fish is also good, but it may be your job to help build a road to the lake, to clean the lake and make sure that fish can survive and thrive in it, to check for bacterial and poisonous levels in the lake and lower them, to teach the man to clean, gut and cook the fish, etc. Not only on an individual basis (the one man) but as a part of a larger campaign.
  4. We play parts in this larger campaign. We cannot afford to spectate nor to all do the same task. We have different talents, different areas of expertise and different passions. Let's use them to eradicate poverty in unity, not conformity.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Finally! McCain's trying to restore order. May be too late for some, though

McCain's come around and is trying to temper-down his base. Unfortunately, the wolves - having gotten used to the taste of human flesh for the last week - among his crowd are booing him when he calls Obama a "decent guy" and someone "that you do not have to be scared about as President of the United States." They booed John McCain because he was willing to re-humanitize Barack Obama.

McCain was again pressed about Obama's "other-ness" and again he refused to play ball. "I don't trust Obama," a woman said. "I have read about him. He's an Arab."

"No, ma'am," McCain said several times, shaking his head in disagreement. "He's a decent, family man, [a] citizen that I just happen to have disagreements with on fundamental issues and that's what this campaign is all about."

At another point, McCain declared, "If you want a fight, we will fight. But we will be respectful. I admire Sen. Obama and his accomplishments." Supporters booed then also. "I don't mean that has to reduce your ferocity," McCain responded. "I just mean to say you have to be respectful."

For my part, I'm still concerned about McCain. Earlier in the day, his campaign released a statement blaming Barack Obama for the riled-up crowds, saying that he was out of touch with their needs (need to shred someone apart? need for human blood? need to fear the black man? I don't follow...). But many prominent Republicans and former aids probably finally talked some sense into McCain. And John McCain is no fool. But, he is a gambler and he is tempestuous; and he allowed his campaign to be carried away with this viciousness and stupidity for too long.

How would this thinking be reflected in his presidency?

This is a wordle

I guess there's various ways of doing this. But when I entered my url, it only did a gathering from the most recent of posts. Which means that the words of a certain unnamed governor came out as one of the biggest words.




Seems I got somebody on the mind a lot these days, eh? (click on the picture to see it in its full glory)

Try it. Go to Wordle.net. Enter the URL of a website or cut and paste your own (or someone else's) text. And then you can dabble. And then publish it.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

"Well, he's got the bloodline for it. I mean, just look at his name."

So, why am I scared of Sarah Palin?

Maybe it's her rampant anti-intellectualism (this charge has been leveled at her by no less a conservative and recent Palin-turner as David Brooks). Maybe I don't want an alcoholic-driving-her-kids-to-afterschool-programs's finger on the button. Maybe it's the stupid, stupid, stupid mob mentality of her followers:



As I mentioned in yesterday's post on chicagodads, I'm not in the least bit concerned that this hateful (and considerably racist) rhetoric will win the hearts, minds o"r votes of undecided moderates. But I am fully concerned about how low our level of discourse has sunk; about how many in our nation feel that intelligence and knowledge is something to be mocked; about rampant xenophobia unchecked by our leaders. For Pete's sake, Obama's been vetted by noone less capable than Hillary Clinton. If people want to remain stupid, fine. Just don't go outdoors. Or run for vice president.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

More Supreme Court case wackiness (Or: How I was wrong and learned to be wrong again)

The other day I mistakenly assumed that when asked about her knowledge of major cases in the US Supreme Court, Governor Palin was asked about any of which she knew off-hand. That question would make sense, because she should have some sort of authority on what it is that the Supreme Court has done and does do. As next-in-line for chief executive of the whole United States of America, she should be well acqauinted on the roles, responsibilities and histories of the other branches as they are all intricately and powerfully connected. That's how the founding fathers set this government up, at any rate, with checks and balances up and down and accross the lines.

Apparently, Ms. Palin was asked to name another SC case that she disagreed with outside of Roe V. Wade, which may be a bit harder - at least for the typical American citizen. But again, despite what Fred Thompson declares (that she wasn't prepared for that question because she wasn't handled with a list yet), it should not be beyond her grasp. Not if she is seeking for the office that she is seeking.

But since your all-time high-stakes debate is set to happen in a couple hours, allow me to help you out. Governor Palin, if someone asks you what you find abhorrent and wrong, the answer should always be, "Man's inhumanity to man." Or some such approximation. And the further removed and more So, therefore, if you are allowed to go back into history, choose something distant and universally regaled, such as Plessy v. Ferguson which legalized discrimination based on skin color, allowed "separate but equal" status to blacks in the US, and declared that it is not the job of the government to protect the rights of the individuals suffering under discrimination by other individuals (or local bodies of governance) in local areas.

I mean, no less a conservative than Justice William Rehnquist disagreed with this ruling.

No. Wait, haha. I was wrong again.

Does this racist a**hole think that she's funny?

In playing her attack-dog routine again, Ann Coulter - whom I generally don't listen to because she is an attack dog but now can't ignore - deflects blame off of McCain's role in the Keating Five (which I'm not too sure has anything to do with this current debacle) and shifts the entire blame of the financial crisis on "less qualified minority" members. Specifically, all of those people (she doesn't mention race, per se, but keeps bringing up the word "minority") who receive food stamps, welfare and unemployment checks.

She rips on the Community Reinvestment Act (1977), designed to make sure that underrepresented people get a fairer shake in loans in communities where banking institutions set up shop and says it was wielded in a way where... well, I'll let you read her words:

Instead of looking at "outdated criteria," such as the mortgage applicant's credit history and ability to make a down payment, banks were encouraged to consider nontraditional measures of credit-worthiness, such as having a good jump shot or having a missing child named "Caylee."

Threatening lawsuits, Clinton's Federal Reserve demanded that banks treat welfare payments and unemployment benefits as valid income sources to qualify for a mortgage.

In case you're thinking, "No, she doesn't mean that. She's being sarcastic to prove a point":

That isn't a joke -- it's a fact.
But it's not. Not according to the CRA's website:

Neither the CRA nor its implementing regulation gives specific criteria for rating the performance of depository institutions. Rather, the law indicates that the evaluation process should accommodate an institution's individual circumstances. Nor does the law require institutions to make high-risk loans that jeopardize their safety. To the contrary, the law makes it clear that an institution's CRA activities should be undertaken in a safe and sound manner.

Add to that some other basic, common knowledge such as the fact that the current sub-prime funding crisis did not begin in the 1970's, when the CRA was enacted, nor in the mid 1990's when it was modified (under a Democratic president and a Republican House, which Coulter misrepresents). It happened in the 2000's. Because people who had lots of money wanted more money. And the buying of houses was slowing down. So, lending institutions (which were not under CRA oversight. In fact, they should have been; they needed some direct oversight) decided to risk it for a whole new jump of money and started making up new rules to give substantial loans (which the CRA does not have control over) to people who would not normally be afforded such opportunities. That's what some conservatives who blame the CRA for subprime mortgages miss.

Yes, that includes minorities, but not necessarily and not primarily. I don't know anybody on welfare who got a mortgage. I wouldn't say it never happened, but I would hope to God it didn't. In this instance, Palin was right - it was by and large the fault of predatory lenders who were willing to lend to people who could not afford on a consistent basis to keep up with their mortgages.

(For more on the sub-prime crisis which led to our current uber-crisis, buy/download "The Big Pile of Money" from This American Life. I just saw it on iTunes. Get it before Steve Jobs goes coocoo bananas and shuts the system down.)

The problem here isn't just that Coulter is stoopid, mean, vitriolic, racist, xenophobic, sheltered, unqualified, and evil. It's that we allow her to have a voice. Maybe in some ways I just did too by reacting to her spiteful pile of sh*t. But I fear that a lot of Americans listen to her and think that just because she says a lot of words and that her name is bandied about that means that she's credible. And then their assumptions are justified. I've just heard too much silly nonsense the last half year to believe that the American people are beyond having the racist wool pulled over their eyes.

Update: for more on this story, check the source.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Palin V. American Intelligence

Sources say that in an interview segment yet to be released by Couric and CBS (as part of their Presidential Questions leading up to the VP debate this week), Governor Sarah Palin could not name one high-profile Supreme Court case besides Roe v. Wade. Apparently not one before nor one after. So, I thought it would be a good exercise to count how many SC cases I could rattle off, just in case either one of the Parties wanted to pick me up in the off chance that a loose-lipped VP candidate bows out. Here's my list and what they signified for the American people:

  1. Brown v. Board of Ed. - The wrongness of the 'Separate but Equal' argument
  2. The People v. Larry Flynt - Free speech (and costly pix) even for moralless creeps like him
  3. Kramer v. Kramer - The right for emotional sappy movies even about divorce
  4. Spy v. Spy - The right to copy Tom and Jerry and Wil. E. Coyote gags
  5. Alien v. Predator - That was just about who could kick who's butt in no-holds-barred terror throw-down

Monday, September 29, 2008

It's the economy, stupid, lazy, shiftless, leaderless...

So, now what?

I'm not smart enough. I don't know what we need. I'd rather us not plunge into foolhearty plans or reward people for acting foolishly with citizens' hard-won and -saved monies. But there needs to be some spine in Washington. I'd rather that we not buy known junk with this idea that we may get our money back (loans would be better, won't they?), but can't someone out there just have the balls to say, "Enough is enough." What happens in Wall Street affects Main Street in this country. Sorry to break the news to you so fast. But we are not an agrarian culture any longer.

We live and die by trading and paper money. Worthless things on their own. Both based on an economy of confidence. Once we lose confidence in what we are trading in, it becomes less than worthless - people's lives are thrown about. I wish I could just slap some of these traders around for a while, but I guess it just doesn't work like that.

But, somehow, whether or not the markets just need to fix themselves, I doubt that the politicos in Washington are doing (or even capable of doing) anything other than posturing and ptoa'ing. And that certainly includes that economically clueless nominee for the Republican Party.

Weekly Links We Like to Link to: Big Ideas (??)

  • I think I figured out what I was created to do: become a career student. When I get some free time in between the more "practical" classes, I'd like to stop over to Auburn and be this guy's "apprentice". (NYT, reg. req.)
[H]e sees philosophy less as a profession than as a way of looking at, of being in, the world. “I am convinced that philosophy is not just about theory,” he told me. “It’s about a life well lived and thoughts truly thought.”

Which is sorta how I look at theology. It shouldn't just be for the theologians and pastors and seminary students and whatnot, but for all of life to look and reflect on the things of God.
h/t to Scot McKnight

  • Were you as disenchanted with the constant back-and-forth spattering of information between the candidates on Friday night? It reminded me of 2nd grade taunts. To help us sift through the distortions (yes, my man Obama laid some out too sadly...) here's our friends at Factcheck with an extensive list. Very. Extensive. List.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

700 Billion Dollars = A LOT of Frustration

Yep. Got me.

I hope to God that these people aren't injecting partisan presidential politics into this fiasco. It's frustrating enough as it is. And just plum risky business.

Let's pray that Congress, Paulsen, Bernanke, et.al., know what they're doing. 'Cuz the rest of us shmoes sure don't.

"I hate to say I told you so..."


Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, in the country for his non-Hillary-protesting event at the UN, doesn't look so crazy right now.

Well, maybe a whole lot crazy, but the whole bit about "the American empire coming to an end..." That could very well be it.

Hopefully, though, we'll still have a strong economy and all that. But prayerfully, maybe we'll just cut back on our wars and all that, y'know, empire stuff.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

And Now the Moment You've Been Waiting for Since Spring...

Yes. The 2nd Semester Spanish Spanish Love Song.



1st Semester Spanish Spanish Love Song can be found here. (Can you believe how long I spent looking for this on my own website? Heck, if you're reading this, you're probably used to time-wasting...)

Monday, September 22, 2008

Weekly Links We Like to Link to: Oh, the economity

The bailouts, the bankruptcies, the empty desks and empty 401Ks. And then there's the "golden parachutes." Newsweek has a gallery on how these golden boys fell and how well they fell.

We constantly worry about developers in this part of the city. Wonder how many developers are trying to stake out a claim here: Shantytowns on the rise.
h/t to Andy Whitman, with a nice nod to Hoover.

And this is not good for any of us: Joe Biden's family, over the last ten years, has averaged $369 a year in giving to charities. That's 0.2% of his earnings. That sucks. That just plum sucks.
h/t to Scot McKnight

Heck, Keith Olberman gave more than that just Friday.

I've neevr flet btteer tahn wehn I'm dinog tihs.

I don't think this works so well with my articles. It's the scrambled reading text. You know, where they change the order of the letters in between the first and the last letters in every word
and your mind unscrambles it because it reads more from context than just straight left-to-right.

There is now a website that, I don't know how they do it. Haven't the phoggiest, really. But you type in the address of a web page and it'll show you that page with the letters all scrambled up. Honestly, I think that mine's a little scraggly even for me to read. Check it out:

Nwes of the Wreid: Wmceloe Bcak Ctetur etiiodn

I wetand to rlol out the ol' NtoW lsat week, but the pkiicn's wree simmelr tahn the cachens of an Aaslakn dnieyng goball wrinmag (eevn Pialn ddin't dney it. She mleery rfteued the csaue of it. She can't pilossby be in any ltiboybss' pcketos). Tihs week, hveweor, we got the run of the leittr, as alebolutsy noodby on ertah syas. So, hufloeply we can do a few tihs week to mkae up for psat snis (and we got a LOT of mniakg up to do).

Aincordcg to one kfnie-widnileg pncaripatit, it was "aytinnhg geos" at a Ghneitrag of the Pcak ciitotpoemn... snoserpod by the Dog Berhotrs fghit culb of Los Alngees. A Rteures rptreeor dieberscd two men wuoihtt pdiandg banetig ecah ohetr wtih havey sktics and atnheor two who fhougt wtih erccltlaleiy carehgd kivens. The kifne deul eendd wehn one of the feitrhgs seplpid a hnad fere form a wilrnsteg hlod and aeldellgy ptlenad a 1,000-vlot cgrhae on his onpepnot. Siad one fuirt-and-vggiee-srtoe meagnar form Cnadaa, "I've neevr flet btteer tahn wehn I'm dinog tihs."

h/t to Marko