Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Simplifying your work life

I could learn from this.

via it's all one thing

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Weird Al is a genius

Even if DairyStateMom does think that assessment is a little over the top:

Here's the kicker: I didn't even know until yesterday that it was a parody of this:

Monday, March 29, 2010

I was gonna post my favorite Weird Al song today...

...then I wandered over to Monkey Mind and after listening to Leonard Cohen, that just didn't seem right.

And it also doesn't seem right just to crib the song James Ford posted out of the context in which he posted it.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Caesar's week, God's world

A commenter posted this at the Hot Stove Report (the running update on newly named candidates for UU ministry) on Facebook. It is attributed to the late Roger A. Cowan:

And so we come on our donkeys,
Some from Detroit and some from Tokyo and even a few from Seoul.
With horns blaring and brakes screeching,
We enter the city, the holy of holies.
We know what Caesar wants:
Testing ranges and new arenas while the homeless haunt church basements
and the poor shuffle in the streets.
But we march to a different drummer.
Not many rich, not many mighty.
A vagabond crew in a strange land,
Whose ways are not our ways
Nor thoughts our thoughts.
But let us be of good cheer.
Let the word go out.
The donkey is mightier than the missile.
And flowers have been known to split a rock.
This week moves inexorably toward Friday.
It is Caesar’s week.
But it is God’s world.
And so we take heart and rejoice. Amen.

May it be so.
Blessed be.

Friday, March 26, 2010

A conspiratorial fantasy

A disclaimer:

I don't write much directly about politics here, and I don't profess to be a political analyst, at least in this particular context. I know my own particular points of view on political issues surface from time to time, but generally I prefer to leave a lot of the heavy lifting of debating politics to others.

Now, an exception...

I'll acknowledge being very pleased with the health insurance reform legislation that passed this week. I'll also acknowledge that, if it were up to me, I'd like it to have been a lot different -- probably something much more like a single-payer model. At the same time, I think what we have now is a very good start, and I think the most rabid right-wing critiques of it ("government takeover!" "socialism!" "death panels!") are hooey. Or "bovine feces," as someone else on the net said today about, I think, a somewhat different topic...


I've been reading a lot lately that this is basically Mitt Romney's Massachusetts plan -- mandated health insurance and all. Or that it's very similar to ideas that came out of the Heritage Foundation about a decade ago. Or, in fact, the GOP alternative floated in the 1990s to the Clinton reform proposal. And then we hear people like David Frum lament that the GOP should have engaged the actual bill instead of carping on the sidelines and might have gotten more from it...

(An aside: As a newspaper reporter in the early '90s who covered some ideas in health care reform at the time, through the lens of a Business Desk workplace reporter, I recall doing a story about a set of proposals coming from a guy who at the time worked for Liberty Mutual. It was, in essence, a private-sector approach to universal health care. Mandated insurance was an important part of his proposal.)

And I wonder...

What if all the hysteria on the right -- the Tea Party Town Hall protests, the crazy association of Obama with Hitler -- was just some crazy-ass feint? What if the whole thing was the GOP saying, "Please don't throw me in the briar patch!"? Because in the end, they got their plan from 1994 or so, didn't they?

Just sayin'...

Thursday, March 25, 2010

"Playing with matches"

David Pyle looks thoughtfully at the emotional state of the far right -- and speaks from the distinct vantage point of one who has been there.

"I do not want to write about this to cause fear, because I do not think there really is much for society as a whole to fear. But for individuals on the political left who have been identified as targets, there is certainly reason to be cautious right now… because I believe the far-right of American Politics is an emotional tinderbox, and certain conservative politicians and media icons are playing with matches."

The rest is here.

(Note: The only reason this one isn't categorized under "Stuff I wish I'd written" is because I simply would never have qualified to write it. But I admire it all the same -- if not more.)

The first March on Washington

A fascinating bit of history, via "Heretic, Rebel, a Thing to Flout"

So Coxey decided to bring the unemployed to Washington to petition Congress. Word of Coxey’s plan spread and attracted wide attention, many came to Ohio to join him.

One very small quibble: Patrick says that last weekend's immigration rally

"...attracted hardly a ripple of interest by the news media or concern from authorities while a couple of thousand Tea Baggers spewing racial epithets and threats at members of Congress over Health Care Reform got all of the attention."

I can't speak for other news outlets, but in fairness, both the Milwaukee and the Kenosha (Wis.) papers played Sunday's immigration rally quite prominently.

Update: When I commented on Patrick's blog, he specified he was referring to national TV and cable coverage. Fair enough.

Fish in a Barrel, No. 2

Montel Williams, Sylvia Browne event canceled

Posted: March 24, 2010

The "Up Close & Personal" show featuring Montel Williams and psychic Sylvia Browne scheduled for Monday at the Milwaukee Theatre has been canceled. The promoter blamed "unforeseen circumstances."

Spokesman Dan King with All Good Productions said in an e-mail that "all customers have been contacted" about refunds. Ticket prices ranged from $202 to $62.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Social Justice: What Glenn Beck doesn't understand, and what Jim Wallis doesn't address

Love Jim Wallis. But Will Shetterly is right:

Wallis fails to take the next step, perhaps because he's trying very hard to give no ammunition to those who call him a commie: Ending slavery required BIG GOVERNMENT. Ending racial segregation required BIG GOVERNMENT. Ending apartheid required BIG GOVERNMENT. The "vital movements of faith" (including atheists who believe in social justice) needed BIG GOVERNMENT to pass BIG LAWS.

Read the whole thing at "it's all one thing."

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

YouTube hits back at Viacom

For the most part I stay away here from writing much about the evolution of media, for a few reasons. The primary one is that I know a lot less about what's going on in that regard that a whole bunch of much smarter people.

And when I do reflect on the topic, I consider myself primarily a reporter, not an analyst and not, especially, either a champion or a basher of the new digital age. I don't, for instance, line up reflexively on either side of the big divide over how strongly copyright should, or should not, be enforced on the 'Net, although as someone whose livelihood comes from content my sympathies tend to lean toward preserving copyright -- within reasonable limits. But once again, I refer you to the last sentence in the previous paragraph.

But with this revelation, I'm inclined to root for YouTube:
Viacom's efforts to disguise its promotional use of YouTube worked so well that even its own employees could not keep track of everything it was posting or leaving up on the site. As a result, on countless occasions Viacom demanded the removal of clips that it had uploaded to YouTube, only to return later to sheepishly ask for their reinstatement. In fact, some of the very clips that Viacom is suing us over were actually uploaded by Viacom itself.

via Andrew Sullivan.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Teach kids about Food


via Wisdom of the Hands.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

A Song for the First Day of Spring

Saturday, March 20, 2010

A question to anyone who reads this blog

The way this is set right now, all links automatically open in a new window. Do you find this convenient or annoying? Feel free to leave a reply in the comments.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The self as illusion? (Updated)

EmpireStateMom and I have for years had an on-and-off again dialogue about religion. She's an Episcopalian with strong Quaker leanings (but, she'll want me to clarify, not a pacifist). Knowing that I have had a passing fancy with (not anything like a disciplined study or practice of) Buddhism, she passes on thoughts relating to her reading about that subject.

In the Christian Century she read a favorable review of a new book, Without Buddha, I Could not be a Christian, by Paul Knitter, and sent the review on to me.

In her letter, she explained her continued perplexity with the Buddhist notion that "the self" is "an illusion" and her conclusion from trying to understand that concept (from having read certain Buddhist books) that it was a religion "for elites."

I wrote back saying that I didn't perceive it that way at all, that from the little bit of reading I have done (primarily some slim volumes by Thich Nhat Hanh), my understanding is that it is the barriers between people that are illusory. I suggested that, to me, it was a concept very much congruent with the idea of the Kingdom of God as explicated by people like John Dominic Crossan and Marcus Borg (a favorite of hers, and lately, of mine).

Anyway. Checking out Monkey Mind today I came across this post from yesterday by James Ford. It said more clearly and articulately (and with far greater scholarship and spiritual experience behind it) what I was trying to tell ESM, so I printed it out and put it in the mail to her.

Update, Saturday, March 20, 2010

ESM called me this morning and said she was mistaken -- it was Hinduism she meant when she was talking about being "elitist," because of its caste system.

Oh, well...

Happy St. Patrick's Day

St. Patrick's Day has never been very high on my list of holidays. Nothing against it, just it was never particularly special.

A couple of random recollections.

I was in China for 3 weeks some 8 years ago, part of a team of mostly teachers (plus a couple of ringers, including me) from Wisconsin and Northern Illinois who were teaching in a summer school program to offer English language and American cultural immersion. Each of us prepared a lesson on a particular state or major city of the U.S. Having gone to graduate school at The World's Greatest Journalism School, it was natural for me to pick New York City. When it came time to pick a holiday associated with the city, I chose St. Patrick's Day, and on one of my presentations I talked a dear friend and fellow teacher into serenading the class with "When Irish Eyes Are Smiling."

Red hair, of course, is associated with the Irish. DairyStateKid#1 once won a red-headed-kid contest at Irish Fest in Milwaukee. But years before that, he had the greatest comeback ever to a nosy question about his hair. Neither his mother nor I have red hair (I don't have much hair at all, to be sure), and in a restaurant with his mother for lunch one day when he was about 3, he was approached by a well-meaning older woman. "Where did you get that lovely red hair?" she asked.

"It started growing on my head when I was a baby," was his reply.

Finally, here's a lovely little essay on today through an Interfaith lens.

Top o' th' mornin' to you all.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Stewart skewers ChatRoulette reporters

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
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What I like most about this is that Couric, Olbermann, Williams and Sawyer all were willing to help Stewart poke fun at their own profession.