Sunday, July 31, 2005

Confessions of a Harry Potter Virgin

I admit it, I have never even so much as picked up a Harry Potter book to look at.

I just don't see the big deal.

My resistance to Harry Potter is not part of the Christian anti-Potter mentality that rejects the books because it involves magic. What a load of crap. The Lord of the Rings is a pseudo-Christian allegory that involves the use of magic. The Chronicles of Narnia is based in a 'magical' other world reality. No, my curiosity in Harry Potter is that many people seem to be willing to give up their precious reading time to books of this nature when there are so many other books out there that need to be read.

I mean there are books out there that are a whole lot more important to understanding the world around us and they don't create the kind of freakish fervor I've seen in the last few weeks. It is bizarre.

I read a lot. Mostly books other people don't seem to read. I'm alright with that. But this Harry Potter thing is off the scale. I've heard of Harry Potter tail gate parties in front of book stores at midnight the day it became available. I heard over the radio that one guy that was interviewed had his name leagally changed to Harry Potter to commemorate the release of the new book. By the way, the guy was 32.

I just don't get it. I mean nobody stood in line when the 9/11 commission report was released in book form. I've read it, I think it is more important than Harry Potter for our world. But it did not generate buzz among the masses. The news media didn't cover the release of Surviving the Sword, Resource Wars, or Collapse. I was crestfallen.

I just don't get it. Or at least I didn't get it until I left the house today. Some of my best learning opportunities happen when I leave my own little self created world and step outside.

I went to the grocery store , did my shopping and then stood in line for check out. For some reason even Vons is selling copies of the newest Harry Potter. A kid, I'm guessing around 10, was pestering his parental unit to buy it for him. The parent resisted the pressure and said no. I was thinking "Good for you for not caving in to the pop cultural pressure of assimilating your kid into this series of books that are over hyped."

But then I thought, wait a minute, this kid is actually asking for a book. In my profession it is a minor work of divine intervention to even get a student to read their homework, much less a whole book, a thick book at that, with no pictures.

Quick, as fast as the Italians switched sides in World War II, I found myself silently cheering for this kid all of a sudden.

He entreated his mother again, "Please, I'll put back the Doritos and Diet Coke". Again, his stalwart mother gave him a firm "No". I almost found myself intervening on behalf of the child. "Aw, come on mom, it's a book he's asking for. Don't you understand the paradigmatic shift his request symbolizes." But I resisted.

As the line moved forward, our underdog gave it one last shot. "Look mom, if you by me the book I won't ask you to take me to see the next movie". Hmm...he's probably lying, but the very fact that he is going to these lengths to get a book and probably, actually, for real, read the darn thing was impressive. By this time I think the mother sensed I was eavesdropping. She looked at me with a smile so barely detectable only another parent could discern its presence. I looked at her and returned the same grin. She then told the boy "Go ahead and get it. But stop bothering me about it. Put the Doritos back like you said, but you can keep the Diet Coke." They checked out and left. I felt nearly jubilant.

Yeah, I think Harry Potter is over hyped. The people who stay up for 48 hours straight to read it the moment they get it are probably weird. But you know, if it can generate the kind of enthusiasm that this kid in the grocery store had, then so be it.

I still won't read a single one of them though.

Be well all.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

What to Do?

Alright, here's the deal. I've posted before on my desire to leave this cess pool that is Southern Californina. I hate many things about it, from the 'diversity' to the traffic to lack of seasons, ridiculous housing prices, overpopulation,lack of greenery and oh yeah, did I mention the friggin' traffic!

Well, as I mentioned several months ago, my wife and I applied to some school districts in the Vancouver area in the hopes of employment...Nothing. Nada. Zilch. Complete and total silence. Not one phone call from an educrat saying thanks but no thanks. Now, we only applied to a very small number of places because given the reduction in pay we would be taking, we had to apply to the few districts in the area that could pay us more than others which I guess limited our prospects to begin with.

So, what do we do now? This was supposed to be the 'go to' year. If the move didn't happen this year then oh well syonara Vancouver, we'll just have to get used to the cess pool. There is just this big, growing part of us that questions the wisodm of that decision. The real epiphany came this spring. As department chair I had the privelege of helping to interview candidates for employment in my department. In all seven interviews I was part of, not one of the people was from out of state or even out of county. Only one candiadte was from another district. Could it be that other schools in other states have a similar employment filter? Locals only. Sorry, if you don't live here, you get the big cold shoulder.

That got us thinking.

Maybe our chances of getting hired in the PNW would be greatly enhanced if we already lived there. Maybe the ability to walk into a school and meet the principal face to face and say "Hi, I'd like to work here. Here is a copy of my really impressive resume. I've worked in the nation's most culturally diverse district, I can handle anything you throw at me." Being able to that might help.

Maybe proximity is the key.

Which got us thinking even further. We should sell our house, sell everything we don't want to carry 1,000 miles and move to Vancouver. Then maybe we'll get jobs.


I don't do things like this. My wife, well she's an artist, I expect this from her. But me, I'm the level headed one. I'm the budgeter(is that a word?), the planner. I have a biblical obligation to provide for my family, not fly off willy-nilly on some half baked, uprooting adventure in the hopes of getting employment somewhere I really want to live. My dad always told me, you never leave one job without another already waiting for you. He should know, he spent large portions of his life unemployed. I know financial instability. I don't want to expose my boys to that intentionally.

Still, there is this restless, discontented, adventurous side of me that thinks. . .

No, it must be insanity.

What to do?

Politicians Suck

Please read this article. Pay special attention to the last paragraph.

Ah, democracy. Truly a mockery of common sense and friend to the wealthy. Especially those good energy generatin' folk down in Texas. Coincidence?

I think not.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

So Who Were You In High School?

Here is a weird little survey I came across. The point is to answer the questions according to what you were like in high school. Go ahead, give it shot. We can compare profiles.

I rated as a Punk/Rebel. Hmmm?

Who were you in high school?

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

A Fish Tale

I just got back from a five day visit up north with my in-laws. Good people. Small town and hot. Daytime high around 109 and overnight low of 92.

It was so hot the sweat on my bald head dried as it dripped down to my eyes.

Anyway, while I was there my father in-law and I went out on what is becoming our annual summertime fishing trip on the Kings River. We left early do avoid the heat and drove his huge truck the short distance down to the river. This truck is so large it must have three engines and it's own zip code. When we arrived at the bank of the river to launch the boat my father in-law let me get behind the wheel and back the truck and trailer into the water while he unhitched the boat. It was the first time I had actually intentionally drove a vehicle into a large body of water. Cool.

Once we got the outboard motor started we proceeded down the river looking for a good spot. We traveled for a while, long enough though for me to conjure mental images of myself as Tom Sawyer navigating the Mississippi as we made our way through the cool, early morning water. Of course Tom might have liked to have an outboard motor and I'm not so sure I'm cut out river life on a longterm basis.

We arrived at a spot that my father in-law was sure would be a good place to catch fish. When I asked him how he knew I reckoned(sorry, had to use it, we are afterall on the river) that he would say something about having come here since he was a boy he knew the good spots. Instead, he pointed to his newest gadget. Mounted on the front of his boat was a digital reading-radar detecting, rootin-tootin, high falootin fish finding toy. This thing actually shows you how many fish are directly under you, how big they are and how deep the water is. Wow.

I asked: "Is'nt that a little like cheating?"

He replied: "Nope. Besides, it aint like the the fish are going to tell the Fish and Game warden."

Point taken.

We sat in the boat for I don't know how long. Nothing. I looked at the radar thingy. There were plenty of fish around us. Tons of them. So many, they were literally jumping out of the water. One would jump to the left of us, then in front, then in back of us. Two fish flew out of the water, shook hands and went back in the water. They were literally jumping all around us. At one point there were so many of them a blue gill perch jumped into the boat, asked for a cigarette and then splashed back into the river.

It was embarassing and humorous.

There we were, two relatively intelligent men, with fishing poles, live bait, a boat and a freaking device that literally draws us a picture of where the fish are and we can't catch a thing. At one point everytime we heard a splash we would burst out laughing at each other. We scoped out a few more places, but to no avail. After a few hours of this we both decided to head back.

As we did, the Tom Sawyer imagery came back, though I'm sure Tom was a better fisherman than I. So I didn't catch any fish. Was that really the point?

As we made our way to shore I put my hand in the cool, smooth water and enjoyed the natural imagery and sounds around me. Maybe it was therapeutic just being out there. Or maybe it was the hynoptic ebb and flow of the river current that nearly rocked me to sleep a couple of times or that I cut a live nightcrawler in half with my own finger nail to bait my hook. Maybe just being witness to the abundance of bird species and eavesdropping on their conversations was enough. It could have been the simple pleasure of counting the number of frogs I could see in the water that calmed my spirit. Or maybe just the silence of merely sitting in the middle of an actual river far from concrete and paved roads trying to catch something to eat and laughing at myself all the while was the real point.

Be well all.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005


From CNN.


Peace to all.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Lets Do Something

Here is a link to an article discussing an issue that every American should be considering, but few perhaps are. Please read it.

Yet another reason to rethink our 'strategic' partnership with China and to begin to pressure our elected officials to actually do something about our dependance on oil. Peace.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Lessons of London

Below is an article from today's L.A. Times Op-Ed section. Please read it. Pray that God would motivate people of conscience whether they be Christian or not to act upon resolving the real issues behind terrorism and injustice in the Middle East so that the deaths of people in N.Y., D.C., London, Bali, Baghdad or Tel Aviv would not be in vain.

We can't win this war the old way

The bombings in London make it clear that fighting terrorism with armies abroad is not the answer.By Timothy Garton Ash, Timothy Garton Ash is professor of European studies at Oxford University and a Hoover Institution senior fellow.

When the bombs hit my native city, I was asleep in California. Waking, I watched the wounded emerging from those familiar London Tube stations and the wreckage of the No. 30 bus, all mediated through American television. One commentator said, "This shows we live in a world at war." And every fiber in my body cried: No, that is not the lesson of London.

London knows firsthand what war is like. But this is not a war in the sense that American commentators like to imagine it. Wars are won by armies. This one never will be. It must be fought differently.

First, we must acknowledge that there will be more of this. We're not fighting against a single group that can be defeated, like Hitler's Wehrmacht. Terrorism is a technique, a means to an end, made more widely available by what we usually call "advances" in the technology of killing, and by the ease with which people can now move cheaply within and across borders. It will be used, and used again. To some extent, we will have to learn to live with it, as we do with other chronic threats.

This is where London is most impressive. The capital's police chiefs had already warned that the question was "not if but when" a terrorist attack would come. Contingency plans for the emergency services were in place, and seem to have worked reasonably well. The matter-of-fact phlegmatism with which Londoners met Thursday's attacks reflected long experience, notably of 30 years of IRA bombings, as well as national temperament. "Just getting on with it," as Londoners do, is the best answer ordinary people can give to the terrorists.

How much freedom are we now prepared to sacrifice in the name of security? There is a real danger that countries such as the United States and Britain will move toward a national security state, with further curtailment of civil liberties. That must not be — for it will cost us liberty without bringing us any guarantee of security. I, for one, would rather remain more free, and face a marginally higher risk of being blown up by a terrorist bomb.

This does not mean being passive in response to these atrocities. But the right response does not lie, as commentators on Fox News would have us believe, in more military firepower to zap "the enemy" in Iraq or elsewhere. It lies in skilled policing and intelligent policy. Quietly refusing the melodramatic metaphor of war, officials of London's Metropolitan Police described the sites of the Tube and bus bombings as "crime scenes." That's right. Crimes.

Working in the most ethnically diverse city in the world, they have developed patient techniques of community relations and intelligence-gathering, as well as evidence-gathering after the event. That won't stop every attack. It didn't stop this one. But skilled policing at home, not soldiering abroad, is the way to reduce the threat from terrorists who operate and sometimes, as in the Madrid bombings last year, live for years in the immigrant communities of our great cities. If that is true of London and Madrid, it applies equally to Toronto, Paris, Sydney or Berlin.

Then there is intelligent policy. It was right to drive Al Qaeda out of Afghanistan. By contrast, it becomes increasingly clear that the invasion of Iraq was a mistake, almost certainly creating more terrorists that it eliminated. But now we have to make the best of a bad job there. The last thing we should do in response to this attack is to scuttle out of Iraq. On the contrary, now is the time for all democracies to rally round the cause of building a peaceful and halfway free Iraq, while insisting on further changes in occupation policy from a sobered United States, no longer infused with the neoconservative hubris of three years ago.

A peace settlement between Israel and Palestine would remove another great recruiting sergeant for Islamist terrorists. And, yes, working toward the modernization, liberalization and eventual democratization of the wider Middle East is the only certain, long-term way to drain the swamp in which terrorist mosquitoes breed. Here, it is Europe rather than the United States that needs to wake up, urgently, to the imperative of doing more.

These days, events that happen faraway, in Khartoum or Kandahar, affect us directly — sometimes fatally — as we commute to work, sitting in the underground train between King's Cross and Russell Square. There is no such thing as foreign policy anymore. That is perhaps the deepest lesson of London.

Peace to all.

Friday, July 08, 2005

Of Bombs and Britain

So I've had over a day to percolate on the tragic events unfolding in London. The complete premeditation and brutality of it all shakes me to my core and gives me chills of the morning almost four years ago when commercial airliners were turned into guided missiles in the hands of fanatical beasts. Be strong Britain, America stands with you.

We need to pray for our trans-Atlantic cousins and their leaders who so faithfully stood by us in the wake of 9/11. Tony Blair is a good leader, perhaps even a good man. A good little socialist. I like Tony Blair so much I wish Colin Powell were president, John McCain vice president and Tony Blair, secretary of State. But I digress.

Blair's inspiring words and encouragement to Londoners and Brits in general only confirm his qualities as a leader. Though he supported the war in Iraq, which is my reason for writing.

Now matter how inspiring Blair is, no matter how he or Bush frame the attacks, ultimately this was retribution for Britain's part in the Iraq war. Blood for blood. I'm not condoning the acts of terrorism, I'm just putting them in their proper context.

The U.K. and Blair are the biggest Western proponents of resolving the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. This makes sense, since they created it. Balfour Declaration anyone???

Anyhizzle, it goes against all logic(yes, I know terrorists are not logical people) that with Britain's ardent support for peace in the Middle East that it should be attacked so brutally and the blood of innocents spilled. Therefore, the reason for this barbarism can only be their support of the Iraq war.

What is my point? The events you see at Kings Cross or elsewhere in London may be coming to an American subway system near you soon. If al Qaeda strikes this way at the number two offender just think of what they have in store for the 'Great Satan' that is George Bush's America. Yes, it is one of those posts. Sorry Ian, you might want to stop reading now.

When American civilians are murdered again in the name of terrorism, our Chief Executive will be partly responsible. He invaded Iraq, he has blood on his hands and in the unbalanced mind of terrorists, so do the people who tolerate his rule. It is a concept known as total war. No one is spared. Everyone is considered a legitimate target and all will pay in one way or another. Everyone that is except for George Walker Bush and his puppet master Dick Cheney. They'll be safely tucked away somewhere when the next wave of terror comes to the homeland. Safe so that when the dust settles whoever survives can be honored with the enlightened benevolence of their leadership.

Not until the core issues that create terrorism are dealt with will terrorism itself become an unattractive option. If we continue to invade Muslim nations we are only confirming everything Osama is saying about us and giving him one hell of a recruitment tool. And that is what kills me the most. Tony Blair tirelessly urges George Bush to do something about the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. And what does he get in return?

Practically nothing.

As a demonstraion of his committment to fighting terrorism Blair joined the 'coalition' that invaded Iraq, with the understanding that Bush would do something about Israel. What is Blair and Britain's return on their investment? Over 50 dead civilians and 700 wounded on their way to work on a Friday morning.

George Bush is the one person who could play a significant role in resolving one of the core issues in the Middle East and really claim victory in the war on terror. That issue is the Isreali/Palestinian conflict. He does nothing because he is Ariel Sharon's stooge. He does nothing just like he does nothing about global warming while the sky falls in on us. In order for Bush to actually do something about the one issue that inflames most Muslims in the region, he would need to actually be intelligent, insightful, wise and possess the ability to listen to others and think they might know more than he does. But he is none of these things. His short sightedness has only detracted from the real War on Terror and resulted in the death of thousands of Iraqi civilians, put the lives of American civilians in jeopardy and left a friend and ally with nothing to show for thier faith in him except for blown up subways and shattered lives.

This morning, Londoners emerged from their homes and rather than shrink in fear, went to work. Sixty five years ago Hitler bombed London day and night for a year, forcing citizens to sleep in subways. Today, terrorists saw Londoners back in the very subways they bombed. Twice terror has struck this brave city and both times Brits have gone underground to stand their ground against tyranny. Now that Mr. Bush is resolve.

Be well all.