Saturday, December 30, 2006

Sadam Hussein Just Died

Before there is any confusion, Sadam Hussein died not for September 11th 2001, Sadam was hung today for crimes against humanity that took place in 1982, for killing 148 Shiites in Dujail.

The Iraq war and the tragic events of September 11th had nothing to do with each other, except that after September 11th, Americans were more accepting of the prospect of going into a war. Also, the war in Afganistan and the war in Iraq have nothing to do with each other. Get that shit straight.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Pride


We use it like a weapon and we don't even know it.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Happy Christmas Day

My family opened presents and celebrated Christmas last Friday, so Christmas has felt like it's been over for 3 days. It's been a good year, friends have gotten married, friends have passed away and life has barreled on. Regis and Kelly are hosting a parade on TV. I absolutely love the pagentry of these things. Merry Christmas! I hope you are spending it with your family and friends.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Writer's Workshop #1


My good friend Kyle and I have started a two man writer's club. We are sharpening each other, by pushing each other to write. We're not being heavily critical of each other's work, but we are encouraging each other to keep working, and that's probably the majority of the battle. Here is one of my first pieces, followed by one of his first.

*Note the similarity of our stories. We in no way discussed the topic of our writing beforehand...

Just One More Story Before You Go To Sleep - By Anton

It was almost eleven. The fire crackled and popped in syncopated rhythms. Jody sat Indian-style with his elbows on his knees, his chin in his hands looking up at the old man sitting in front of him. His grandfather’s boots were clean and polished, but beneath their black matted sheen there were deep creases and carved out marks that showed that these boots had been loved. On top of them sat dark blue-jeans, pressed and starched with a thick flannel button-down tucked in, the buttons running in a straight line to his grandpa’s weathered but gentle face. “Tell me another one grampa,” said Jody eagerly. His grandpa smiled gingerly. “Alright, but just one more story before you go to sleep,” he told Jody, who repositioned his elbows with excitement. His Grandpa’s eyes shifted focus and he breathed in deeply, recalling the memory. As his deep voice rumbled, Jody was carried off in a red Ford convertible, speeding away down a country road. Soon he was lying with his cheek against the plush rug, the warmth of the dying fire on his back. A soft flannel blanket fell gently over his shoulders and Jody drifted off to sleep.

Regents Park - By Kyle

The taste was one part bitter, one part sweet as he sat on the green, chewing on a long, thin blade of grass. Well into his seventies and accustomed to the hectic city-life, he was now thoroughly enjoying the peaceful time alone, resting against an Oak tree in the middle of Regents Park.
His pants rolled up to his knees and his Velcro shoes slipped off, he was reminded of a time nearly fifty years before, when he sat in this exact spot, with the same bittersweet taste in his mouth.
Memory was changing the landscape in front of him; grass was sprouting up and filling the gravel pathways. A smile crept up his face as he watched the time roll back. A children’s courtyard dissolved into the meadow just as a voice came from behind the tree, breaking his concentration.
“Papa, Papa”
He leaned to peer around the side of the Oak tree. There, appearing from the lingering haze of his memory was his granddaughter. She approached as fast as her little legs would take her, flowers in hand and arms spread wide open.
“Papa, look at the flowers!” she shouted. “Aren’t they beautiful?”
“Ah yes darling, they certainly are,” his gruff American accent was a stark contrast to her youthful British twang. “Come here and let me take a look.”
He picked up her handmade bouquet, roots and all, and began to tidy it up.
“Papa, there are so many colors,” she expressed excitedly.
“Yes dear there are,” he said as he pulled one out and handed it back to her. “And this one is for you. Do you know what it’s called?”
She stood still, her eyebrow furrowed with confusion.
“Well,” he began. “This one is named after the most beautiful little girl in the world. It’s a –.”
“A Lilly?!” she interjected, eyes alight.
Laughing at her excitement he nodded and handed the flower to her. Lilly’s eyes followed his hand as he placed the flower above her right ear.
“Now take a seat dear, here next to me and I will tell you a story.”
“About what, Papa?”
“About why you are who you are, and about why I am who I am.”
“What does that mean?” she asked her grandfather, but his eyes had already drifted, and his mind already wandered back to that same day fifty years ago, when he last tasted that bittersweet feeling in the park.


* * *

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Christmas in Lagos, Nigeria

I just heard the most wonderful story while listening to the BBC World Service on NPR, while I was driving back from Fort Worth to Dallas at 2:30am. A Nigerian pastor was explaining why the Pentecostal denomination of Christianity was so popular in Africa, and also explaining the meaning of Christmas for the people of his country and his congregation. He had such joy in his words as he spoke of their celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. Here is something he said:

"Christmas to me is about my salvation, because if Christ had never been born--no salvation for me."


It was beautiful. And he said it with a sweet Nigerian accent. And then he went on to explain the party that is involved in their Christmas celebration. And with that story my faith has been reaffirmed, because Christianity is not about the Bible-belt. The Bible-belt is an important part, but the Bible-belt is in no way an authority on the church. And that's just beautiful. It was a really good story and I will see if I can find it and post a link to it for you.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

50,000 For Your Belief

Dear Christians, how would you like $50,000?

Here is what this dude had to say:

"PS Since this challenge is open to any American, anyone who reads this should feel free to bring it to the attention to any smart Christian they know. Any math whiz, any professor, etc. But I need to warn you that they will almost certainly turn you down. And the reason will NOT usually be because they think they will fail the math test. University professors will probably not fear this college dropout. But given they are expert mathmeticians, their real fear, though they won't tell you, is that you will find out how badly they fail the polygraph."

What an interesting idea! I would probably fail this polygraph. How would you fair?

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Deliberately Happy


I've been asking myself for a long time whether or not happiness can be a choice. There are certain things in life that we cannot control, that is a fact, and those things can definitely subtract from our ability to maintain a positive state of mine, but I don't know, in my experience happy people don't seem to have any better circumstances than anyone else, they're just simply positive.

Why do people have short tempers, and why to people get angry? Why not just be happy? Sometimes it just seems that simple.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Addendum To a Note on Racism

As I've been thinking in depth about race over the past few days, I got to thinking about race distrirubtion across the globe. When we fill out paperwork asking for us to classify our race, it used to be that there were only a few options; white/caucasian, black/african, Asian, Native American, Hispanic, or Pacific Islander. However, recently I have been seeing options for mixed race as well. If I was mixed race, or of a race that didn't fit into one of these categories, like arab, or northern African I'd be pretty offended at not being given an option to classify myself.

So how did all these different races come into existence? Is race distribution similar to breed in say dogs? Because an Irish wolf hound and a dauchaund are quite different. Are people indigenous to Northern Siberia as different from people indigenous to the Southern Amazon as one breed of dog is to another? As a Christian, I am forced by my belief in the Bible to also believe in the adaptation of species, especially in the case of humans. The seeds of humanity, Adam and Eve- If they did indeed give birth to the entire span of human existence, then I am forced to believe that humans are in fact a product of adaptation over a span of time, because nowhere in the Bible does it say that on the 8th day God created Asians.

These distinctions are only to make the point that even though we may look different from one another, we are all really of the same seed. Racial distinctions need to stop, because all they really do is divide us.

Monday, December 04, 2006

A Note on Racism

Meaning to click on this link, which would have taken me to a blog-entry by Malcolm Gladwell, the author of the book "Blink," I accidentally clicked on this link, a read-worthy blog-entry by someone, accusing Wes Anderson of being something called a "Hipster Racist," as well as accusing his movie "The Life Aquatic" of being a failure. I read both of them and they got me thinking deeply about racism all day.

In both cases I was struck by how well-written and logically minded each entry was, and I generally enjoyed reading each piece, however, past that I was pretty disappointed by both authors.

In the entry subtitled "Wes Anderson and the Problem with Hipsters, Or What Happens When a Generation Refuses to Grow Up," I was disappointed by the author's generalizations about race and class by referring broadly to various ethnicities and by using stereotypes of individuals as her key examples.

In Gladwell's piece titled "Defining a Racist," he sets off to do just that, offering 3 criteria by which such a definition is to be derived; content, intention and conviction. This is a good system based in the practice of logical reasoning. To skip to the point, Gladwell's conclusion is this: "There is a distinction between being a racist and simply saying something dumb."

Here is the real problem of racism:

When it comes to belief about race, people believe in a system that has only existed because of the ancient historical confines of geological boundaries, great spans of time, and generations of breeding. People in Scandinavia sort of look the way they generally do because they adapted over thousands of years to look that way. People in the Himalayas sort of generally look the way they do because they adapted over thousands of years to look that way. The Kung San people of the Khala Hari desert sort of generally don't look like the people in northern modern-day Ethiopia because they both adapted slightly differently over thousands of years of general breeding patterns, being separated by thousands of miles and many great geological boundaries.

However, in the last few hundred years, due greatly to technological advances in transportation, but also due to wars, disease, famine and the promise of a better life somewhere else, those naturally occurring boundaries have been crossed and recrossed giving birth to people in every corner of the globe who defy any system of racial profiling, save one based on a lengthy genealogy and an analysis of the passing on of dominant and recessive genes in that individual.

And still, a person born in Mexico City, greatly of Mayan ancestry, a dark skinned person whose ancestry has been living in what is now modern-day Sri Lanka, and a person whose ancestry comes from what is now the Democratic Republic of Congo; still, ALL 3 PEOPLE can be lumped into one racial term - BLACK; it isn't just wrong and illogical, it is the result of an ignorance that will continue, because the only way for people to see past racial generalities, is for them to either be educated in sociology, the biology of adaptation and cultural anthropology, or for them to grow up in a way that they are exposed to such an intermixing of different historical strands of races, ethnicities and family-cultural backgrounds that they can no longer categorize people based on biological stereotypes of assumed visual racial stereotypes.

If any reasoned racial discussion is actually going to take place it must be grounded firmly in these sciences. If it is not, then we are not talking about race, we are talking about current trends and assumptions based on belief about the individual, which is further based on that individual's outward appearance, way of speaking, and upon falsely assumed ideas of racial heritage.