Thursday, April 28, 2005

How Long Will You Ignore the Truth, Mr. Bush?

More evidence that climate change is real and tied to our own actions.

How much longer will our government continue to do nothing about it?

If I Were. . .

Taking up KMJ's challenge that was inspired by Jaymarie's intitial challenge, here are my musings on alternate careers paths.

If I were a scientist, I would pioneer a harmless gene therapy to cure diabetes. I would consider this my greatest gift to my mother who ultimately died due to related complications of being diabetic for forty years.

If I were a painter, I would finally know the name for the color we painted the bathroom.

If I were a librarian, I would spend every waking moment reading, reading and reading some more. Like Sherry, I get a little manic when I think about all the books that are out there and how I'll never get a chance to read them all. If I were a librarian I would have no such problem. Of course the added bonus of telling people to be quiet for a living also has its appeal.

If I were a psychologist, I would spend the majority of office time trying to treat myself. Talk about a full time job.

If I were a gardener, I would spend my time breathing in the life that is present in the living creation of our God. As environmental issues are a primary interest for me, I would delight in working with creation. Taking in the smell of recently watered grass, the texture of the cool, moist soil and the sounds of animals flying and crawling about in my own garden is one of my favorite ways to pass time. To be financially compensated to do so would be sweeter still.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Mr. Funkiller Goes to Washington

Hello all. I'm back. And none of you knew I was really gone. I hesitate posting that I will be out of town for fear that some of my students may finally find my blog and do something unfortunate in my absence.

Anyhizzle, I'm back after seven days in Washington D.C.. What a trip. In every sense of the word it, was great. Aside from airport security, which is a farce, we are all doomed. I had the great pleasure, along with one of my colleagues, of escorting ten students to the Close-Up foundation's new Americans program. As this was my first time, I too was a student. The students participated in their own program and I came and went through the separate teacher program. Here is what I saw and did in seven days:

Lincoln Memorial

Washington Monument

Jefferson Memorial

Old Post office. Took the stairs all the way to the top. Cool view.

Korean War Memorial

Vietnam Memorial

World War II Monument

Walked the entire circumference of the Reflecting Pool.

Sat in on a session of the House of Representatives along with meeting my district representative.

Saw the a nearly full Senate in action. Saw Ted Kennedy, Lemar Alexander, Trent Lott, Joseph Lieberman, Joe Biden, Chris Dodd, George Mitchell and Rick Santorum debating a resolution to a trade agreement to increase agricultrural trade with Cuba.

Toured the Supreme Court.

Went to the Smithsonian Musuems several times. Air and Space, Natural History, National Gallery, American History and Native American.

Arlington National Cemetery.

National Archives. Got as close as security would allow me to the Constitution, Declaration, and Bill of Rights.

FDR Memorial.

Met Chris Matthews and asked him a few questions.

Spent hours walking around the Library of Congress with my mouth open, not uttering a word.

Went to the National Cathedral. In a word, "wow".

Saw a Play at Ford's Theatre. I sat 15 feet under the balcony in which Lincoln was shot.

Toured the outside of the White House. I saw Marine One land on the south lawn and saw George W. Bush walk out. If only I had some fresh produce with me at the time.

Lafayette Square. Cool French dude.

I paid too much for bottled water. Got really great prices on T-shirts of questionable quality, and walked more miles than I can count.

Rode the Metro between two sates. Mass transit rocks. Yes, that Berlin song played in my head every time I got on a train.

But more than anything, my students had a great time. I honestly think they got someting out of the program. They were exposed to the workings of our democracy, warts and all, and came away, I hope, changed, empowered with the knowledge to be responsible citizens in one of the oldest democracies on the planet.

Suprisingly, I too was changed. After the last election, I had decided that American democracy was so badly broken that it did not matter if I voted or not. I had resolved to no longer vote. I became apolitical. I even called my local registrar to find out how to unregister to vote. I did not want to be part of a process that re-relected George Bush after all the people he has murdered and all the over time pay he has stolen from the working class. But somewhere in the week, I unknowingly began to re-evaluate my decision. There was something about seeing the nation's capital in all it's splendor, excess and dysfunction that made me realize I could not, not vote. Many of the Founding Fathers were probably racist. The Three Fifths Clause of the Constitution still breaks my hearts along with the disenfranchisement of women in the beginning. But I do belive that these dudes knew they were setting up an organic system that could evolve over time and bring more Americans under the big tent by expanding the ideals of the founding documents to more and more citizens. I really do think we have come a long way in the last 229 years and we still have miles to go in some ways. But I know all this and with knowledge comes responsibility. I have a responsibility to vote. I'm not trying to sound overtly patriotic in some misdirected jingoistic sentiment, but I mean it. I have a responsibility to vote, regardless of whether or not I agree with the outcome of an election. Such is the burden of knowledge.

Peace to all who cared to read and even those who don't.

Friday, April 15, 2005

Christy Update

Last summer I posted about a former student of named 'Christy' that I helped get into a recovery program for her drug and alcohol problems.

She came and visited me today at school.

I am happy to report that she celebrated her one year of sobriety last week.

She was on campus to pick up her transcripts so that she could be admitted to adult school to take a class to get her G.E.D. She is still working, getting along with her sister and aunt and looks and feels good. There was a genuine sense of relief about her. She talked about going on to city college after she gets her G.E.D.. It was great to see her and to know that she is progressing in her journey toward some sense of stability. Now that she has past her one year of sobriety she wants to sponsor others and help them on this difficult path.

This is all good news. Please continue to pray for her. If you know anybody in recovery, you know that the journey is sometimes difficult and life long. Pray that God would open up opportunities for me to show her the love Jesus has for her whenever we meet and that she would desire eternal recovery in Him.

Thanks for reading.

Monday, April 11, 2005

The Good News About Rising Gas Prices

In lieu of recent spikes in the price of oil I sincerely feel badly for folks like Troy and others who have to commute long distances to work.

Having said that, on some level, I am very happy about the rising cost of gasoline.

The only way to get the average eco-ignorant American to think about reducing their consumption of gasoline is to hit them in the wallet. Our crack like addiction to oil contributes to global warming (regardless of what Bush says), makes the world more unsafe and actually perpetuates a broken national energy policy.

Once the average consumer realizes that oil prices are probably never going to come down enough to make their Hummer make sense anymore, they might be more likely to pursue hybrids. Once manufacturers see more people interested, they will build more and different hybrids. Who says you can't develop a smart enough hybrid engine to work for a large SUV? If you build it, they will come.

Our national fixation with driving drives our need for more and more oil. Most of the states that sell us large amounts of oil are some of the most despotic on the planet. Saudi Arabia provides roughly 20% of our oil. This is a nation where women cannot vote , drive or cannot go outside unless escorted by a male family member. Think about that. Iran for example is awash in oil profits. Iran will never open it's economy to foreign investment or ideas of true reform unless it is hurting for cash. As long as we are willing to pay any price for crude, and it seems we are, we are actually supporting authoritariansim. In oil rich countries there is a straight line connecting oil profits and support for terrorism. We are fighting the War on Terrorism against ourselves. We are our own worst enemy.

What really kills me is that Californians are so collectively stupid on this issue that according to an LA Times article I read yesterday, our appetite for large vehicles is expected to continue to grow. We need to be vehicularly bitch slapped and if it takes $4 a gallon gas to do it we have only ourselves to blame.

Without rethinking our dependence on oil because of high prices we will never be forced to re-evaluate how we generate energy. Our current national energy policy is a collection of dysfunctional short term fixes better suited to the 20th century. We need new thinking about technologies to generate our energy from a variety of sources. This country has some of the best intellectual resources in the world. It is time to use them in the realm or energy development. If higher oil prices is what drives that than so be it.

Now it is definitely true that the resultant increase in energy costs will adversely affect businesses, especially smaller ones. It is unfortunate and our government should do whatever it can to realistically help. Higher oil prices mean less consumer spending which drives about 2/3 of our national economy and that will have negative short term effects. The sad and sorry truth is that there is no way around these hardships. We are at a crossroads. At the dawn of the Industrial Revolution, custom furniture makers, cobblers and other small businesses of the day felt the pinch of the coming of a new age. We were able to get passed it then and we will now. I don't mean to sound harsh, but from a socio-historical point of view the situation is what it is. We are running out of oil and we can't pretend we are not and that means our paradigm must shift accordingly.

The good news about the rising cost of oil is that it might be a wake up call. An opportunity to realize we must fundamentally change how we view the world, it's resources and our gluttonous consumption of them. Christians should be leading the way. It strikes me as odd that some believers do not regard creation as highly as those who know not the name of Jesus. I even know Christians who say things like "Even if global warming is true, Jesus will probably come back before it gets bad". What the heck kind of thinking is that? I also find it alarming that many Christians do not think of mass consumption or mass consumerism, swallowing up the Earth's resources for no other reason than to make the natural world bend to our every whim as sin?

As oil prices increase perhaps some of us will realize that we truly cannot have everything and maybe we don't need everything. We might even come to grips with the notion that we are not this invincible semi-divine entity that can do as we please without consequence. Our actions affect others. We are not the center of the universe. We might learn that we must become more responsible. And that my friends, is good news no matter what the price at the pump.

Peace to all.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

It's My Blog and I'll Rant If I Want To

So I'm watching a rerun of 'Everybody Loves Raymond' and the epiphany strikes. I think I know why everybody loves him.

He is the perfect typical, stereotypical, shallow, sports obsessed, unmotivated American male who wants to do the right things in life as long as they are not too difficult to accomplish.

Women love Raymond because they all know someone like him, have married someone like him, dated or divorced someone like him.

Men love him because they know, at least subconsciously, that there is a little Raymond in all of us. Raymond gives the average man another excuse to be lazy, unromantic, insensitive to their spouse, or to be focused on the next slice of pizza to come their way. This character gives the average woman a reason to make sweeping generalizations about men and gives the average guy the lame excuse to justify their bad behavior by pointing to Raymond and saying "See, we're all like that, it isn't just me".

Well, not me. I have had it. I refuse to allow this sitcomish caricature of modern man to perpetuate itself. I henceforth declare my un-Raymondness.

Listen, I'm not saying I'm perfect. You all know that I'm not. Many of the men who read this blog do not fit the Raymond mold. I'm just overly annoyed that such a popular show for so long has been able to get away with this. I even let the CBS fat cats get away with it by watching every week. What a dufus I am. Now I know how women feel when they are confronted with stereotypes of little Susie Homemaker as the only means to define them. I'm sorry ladies.

I proclaim my independence from this stereotype with every meal I cook, every dish I wash and every dirty diaper I change. Every bill I pay, each pediatrician's appointment I make
is now striking a blow to the myth of the average American goofball male. With every bag of trash I take out and all the floors I mop I am defining male domesticity in strength of character and personal fortitude. Each homework assignment I help with, every load of laundry I do and every anniversary I remember I proclaim, I am not Raymond.

Alright, I know it is just a television show, but I had to get this off my chest. I'm done now.

Peace to all who care to read.