Monday, January 31, 2005

Movie time...

Well, after a weekend of intense movie viewing - a little recap is necessary to keep it all straight in my head...

Intimate Strangers - This French film from director, Patrice Leconte, is similar to his previous film Man On The Train. Once again, he throws two unlikely characters into the same space and forces them to react. The premise for this film is that a woman goes to see a psychiatrist about marital problems, but mistakenly goes into the wrong office... She tells all of her intimate secrets to a tax consultant even after he reveals the truth. Like Man On The Train, the dialogue is impeccable, but the story is forgettable. Leconte appears to be satisfied with watching the two characters interact with very little "story." Not bad, but ultimately Man On The Train's characters are more intriguing, the story is less contrived, and there is more of a payoff at the end - go see Man On The Train instead.

Maria Full Of Grace - Colombian film that follows Maria Alvarez, an exploited drug "mule", that swallows plastic bags of drugs and smuggles them over the border. By now, most of you probably have heard that Catalina Sandino Moreno is nominated for an Academy Award for her role as Maria. The first half of the story is shot like a documentary and is shockingly moving, but the second half falls apart as the writer tries to find a way to conclude the story. Worth seeing because of the subject matter, but not a fully realized film.

Mean Creek - First time director, Jacob Aaron Estes scores with this story about 6 kids going boating and inviting the school's bully to give him a taste of his own medicine. Things go wrong (as they always do) and we are left wondering, what are they to do? The ending is dissatisfying and the kids initial decision is stupifying, but the film supplied more to think about than either of the two above...

United States Of Leland - Hands-down the best thing I've seen a while. Ryan Gosling does a fabulous job as the troubled youth that commits an unthinkable crime. Don Cheadle is perfect as the concerned/opportunistic teacher, Kevin Spacey nails the asshole father role, and Jena Malone is strong enough as the druggie girlfriend. RECOMMENDED.

Any other recommendations?

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Amazon Maps

Neat/anachronistic post by way of Metafilter: Amazon Maps. Starting in selected cities (lived in by over half of Hard To Get's posters), you can click through the A9 Yellow Pages, find the store/coffeehouse/restaurant location near you, then see a picture of it on the block.

Weird, I thought they stopped these quixotic kinds of projects back in '99 or '00. Here's a view of the local bakery, Larsens. You can walk up or down the street from there and see the Thai cafe or the Bible College. They missed the nearby Tully's by half a block. Course I hear the espresso kiosk in the PetCo parking lot makes good coffee too, but with belly shirts.

On the other end of the spectrum, I've quite enjoyed watching the open source knowledge projects get off the ground like Wikipedia and MusicBrainz. I haven't quite figured out how I want to participate in those - yet. If the momentum keeps up, it's a return to the participatory communities that existed pre-modernism (i.e. virtually building barns).

Obligatory music link: ~Scape records (links to listen to Deadbeat's release on the page). With my (and now many American's) hip-hop background, I find nu-dub to be the most consistently funky and unobtrusive headspace to be in, despite its often non-organic nature. Yet, I can't find this music in any American record stores, beyond random smatterings in small stores like Seattle's Wall of Sound. Do we need more House music? ~Scape is the brainchild of German Stefan Betke, and tends towards the clickity end of the dub spectrum, but the schweet elements are still in there. If only I didn't have to pay import prices.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Turner

You're gonna dig this.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Cooking and Playlists

This last week, we've hosted a couple of dinners over at the house. Got me to thinking hard about technology, food, and changes in community rules over the last ten years.

On Saturday, we cooked for a couple of friends whose kitchen we helped demolish 2 weekends ago. Tangentially, I highly recommend this to anyone who has not done this before - sledgehammers should be wielded at least once in one's life. They are without said kitchen right now and are at the mercy of friends or strange dining establishments for their sustenance. As is my want, I test prepped a dish of Albondigas (Mexican meatball stew) earlier in the week. Our timing was still off the night of the actual event and they showed up early, so we stuffed the four of us in the kitchen for conversation lasting about an hour before eating. Christina is a professional firefighter and has a circadian rhythm that must march goosestep inside her body. Lillian had noticed her "sleep eye" (as opposed to "stink" or "evil eye") about 9:15. Jeannie is an electrician and weekend skier.

We spent some of dinner talking about how confusing it was to deal with friends that would together last minute get togethers via eVite or some other such service. "Why not pick up the phone?" They check their email every couple of days. I probably check mine 2-3 times per day. They often missed these invitations, and had no real reason to be online everyday like Lil and I did for work. On some level creating these blogs, emailing, or IMing has allowed us greater intimacy with friends who live out of state or even out of the country than with folks in town. It's so hard to see people physically any more. We don't have anyone within 15 blocks that I know on a personal level. Maybe this was the somewhat the same for my folks, but it's utterly different from my childhood, where there were always kids next door that we saw every day. Is that just adulthood, American adulthood or Urban American Adulthood?

We spent the dinner listening to a mix I created from music I had ripped on my laptop and quickly assembled and burned before their arrival (a great mix including Dixie Cups, Paul Rucker, Spoon, Eddie Bo, Mirah, and Gene Ammons) . My idea was that they would get to take the disc at the end of night. Indeed Christina, the resident MP3 fiend of the pair, was excited. Maybe this kind of technology was possible 5 years ago, but it was nowhere near usable for me until a year or so ago. Metadata and improvements in user interfaces have finally made it easy for my short attention span music obsession to find tangible results (with a half hour turnaround).

Same thing last night - our old buddy Richard stopped by for a dinner of beef stew and asparagus. God I love cooking for people! Whooda thought. Probably one of the first inklings I had of this was actually at Richard's place two or three Thanksgivings ago. Richard would yearly invite a dozen or more people over, and cook the whole damn thing in one of the smallest kitchens I've ever been in. Traditional turkey, stuffing from scratch, brussel sprouts, two or three decadent desserts. I was shocked at the level of thankfulness I felt in the company of non-blood relatives. Some of it was conversation, music, wine, and some tryptophan and carb overload. We used to stuff ourselves at Grandma's house, but never like that (particularly since she and Pawpaw were teetotalers). And at the end of this meal, there was no TV to escape into, just more good talking or dogs to play with. I was utterly envious of Richard's ability to draw these people into his home for a nice Taz session, and utterly thankful I could be one of those people. He poured so much love into his food and it permeated the room like an aroma.

I liked doing the same thing with my music mixes or simply deejaying when folks were around the house. Music's tough though, real-time deejaying only works when you're doing it and NOT being particularly social. Handing off mixtapes also has a way of feeling like throwing a hand into quicksand. Richard would finish prepping these meals and collapse with a grin in the middle of the room after dinner. Tangible and time-finite. So the 30-minute compilation-burn turnaround was a godsend. Now, "my creation" doesn't require any work during said conversation and cavorting. I lose the real-time reaction aspect, but that's turned out to be more of a blessing than a curse.

Meanwhile, Lillian and I are compiling a menu of things we're good at cooking (upon the suggestion of director Robert Rodriguez on a DVD special feature). That way, we can have staples around the house, and make food for friends on command. We've got quite a few meat dishes, but I'd love to get some ideas for vegetarian entrees. Not vegetables and not tofu (I know vegetarians with soybean allergies). Main dishes, but vegetarian without hippie [read: bland] anywhere in the description. Anyone got any ideas?

Anyway, what a lovely thing to have people over for dinner. One of the last excuses for being in the physical presence of known intimates.

Monday, January 24, 2005

Nazis. I hate those guys.

It's the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz and here in central Europe, feelings are running very high. There's a thoughtful commentary in the Times on the recent scandalous walk-out by Saxon members of the National Party of Germany (NPD) during a moment of silence for the victims of the Holocaust.

There's no denying that Dresden was a bloodbath and that many innocent people lost their lives. I can't do the whole moral equivalency thing where you equate the bombing of Dresden with the millions of lost lives in Europe, Jewish and otherwise. They're all lost lives, ruined by Nazism.

What sticks in my throat and infuriates me nearly beyond words is the blantant racism and sheer stupid insensivity of the NPD. I'm pretty sure no one stopping the NPD - or anyone else for that matter - from commemorating the bombing of Dresden. Hell, we all learned about Dresden in history class and I don't remember being taught that it was an event that glorified the allies and downplayed the loss of human lives. It was a firebombing. There was death and destruction everywhere. Yet the SPD can't acknowledge that Auschwitz, too, was a tragedy beyond description.

Neo-Nazism is on the rise in former Eastern Germany. In Saxony, the SPD got just over 9 percent of the vote. You could conclude that one in ten people you'd meet when walking the streets of modern Dresden supports the SPDs racist platform. This is terrifying. Combine this with the rhetoric coming out of Iran these days about the Zionist agenda (thank you Dick Cheney) and you end up with the world looking pretty scarey for this latke eating member of the tribe.

Friday, January 21, 2005

W.W.Chuck Klosterman.D?

I felt both a little bit spanked and intrigued when I read this in Esquire, excerpted below. An interesting counter to some of my feelings of late about the election, swearing in, etc.

Do you want to be happy? I suspect that you do. Well, here's the first step to happiness: Don't get pissed off that people who aren't you happen to think Paris Hilton is interesting and deserves to be on TV every other day; the fame surrounding Paris Hilton is not a reflection on your life (unless you want it to be). Don't get pissed off because the Yeah Yeah Yeahs aren't on the radio enough; you can buy the goddamn record and play "Maps" all goddamn day (if that's what you want). Don't get pissed off because people didn't vote the way you voted. You knew that the country was polarized, and you knew that half of America is more upset by gay people getting married than it is about starting a war under false pretenses. You always knew that many Americans worry more about God than they worry about the economy, and you always knew those same Americans assume you're insane for feeling otherwise (just as you find them insane for supporting a theocracy). You knew this was a democracy when you agreed to participate, so you knew this was how things might work out. So don't get pissed off over the fact that the way you feel about culture isn't some kind of universal consensus. Because if you do, you will end up feeling betrayed. And it will be your own fault. You will feel bad, and you will deserve it.

Now, it's quite possible you disagree with me on this issue. And if you do, I know what your argument is: You're thinking, But I'm idealistic. This is what people who want to inflict their values on other people always think; they think that there is some kind of romantic, respectable aura that insulates the inflexible, and that their disappointment with culture proves that they're trapped by their own intellect and good taste. Somehow they think their sense of betrayal gives them integrity. It does not. If you really have integrity—if you truly live by your ideals, and those ideals dictate how you engage with the world at large—you will never feel betrayed by culture. You will simply enjoy culture more. You won't necessarily start watching syndicated episodes of Everybody Loves Raymond , but you will find it interesting that certain people do. You won't suddenly agree that Amelie was a more emotive movie than Friday Night Lights , but you won't feel alienated and offended if every film critic you read tells you that it is. You will care, but you won't care.

You're not wrong, but neither is the rest of the world. And you need to accept that those two things aren't really connected.


Insightful or just bullying?

Red State sounds, international beats

Yesterday I went looking for CDs at the public library. In most public libraries, the approach to the collection seems based on what is inexpensive, more so than what would be good for the collection. This means that you might or not be able to find, say, some Duke Ellington. But you can probably find The Nylons.

I checked out STRICTLY THE BEST 19 which is a reggae collection, similar to those NOW THAT'S WHAT I CALL MUSIC collections I see in stores and on TV. There's some good stuff and some peculiar stuff...I'm particularly fond of "Big Man, Little Youth" by Red Rat and Goofy. The whole song is two guys going back and forth about how a woman really prefers him, one because he is a big muscle guy, the other because he's skinny and cute.

However, the strangest is "Bush Wacked" by Josey Wales. The songs on here are all copyright 1997 so it's safe to think that it isn't about W. The song is a country and western song. It's not a bad fake-country song either. Growing up in East Tennessee I remember learning that hillbilly recordings by The Carter Family were played on radio stations whose signals reached Jamaica, therefore 1920s country music had an influence on Jamaican music.

I don't know enough about music to vouch for that. "Bush Wacked", however, is not influenced by country, it is country. Or at least it is country as much as Jimmy Buffet truly is calypso or whatever.

Every once in a while David Byrne or Paul Simon or Sting or (fill in your own list here) record something influenced by a non-North American culture. These don't get fully absorbed into the culture, they are novelty songs even if some of them are especially thoughtful novelty songs.

Somehow it hadn't occurred to me that this could happen in reverse. "Bush Wacked" is every bit as good a country song as Paul Simon's "Mother and Child Reunion" is a good reggae song.

As a white, American, guy I tend to forget that my culture isn't the main dish of the world. Sometimes my main dish is someone else's condiment.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

A House Divided

Now is a really good time to write to the president and remind him why you didn't vote for him. No, I mean right NOW. I'm just sayin, is all.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

What to do [the 2005 edition]

I recently loaded up a list of goals to a site that posts & lets you track your success, failure & the final value of accomplishment. The site is called 43 Things and is geek heavy (check out their zietgeist page if you think I'm fooling. Ex. #5, Learn Ruby [that's code folks, the latest code]). My goals are under the user name benne and are in no particular order.

The way I structure my goals has changed somewhat over the years. I didn't really start making goals until I was 22, late to the game I know, but prior to that I couldn't shake the idea that all I should focus on was the next thing. When I first started trying to figure out what engaged me, I had a template that I could fill in. It was like an excel sheet, with timelines on the top row & the intended group that the goals would affect, like this:


click for the whole picture.

Pretty heady stuff, plenty of options inside of those boxes. I enjoyed the fact that years after I made the goals from that first try, I had accomplished a lot of what I had set out to do (still working on that dynamic world peace for the next 100 years thing). Anyway, I'm hooked on the idea of charting a course for myself - but have largely abandoned the exercise of reminding myself that what I do has an effect on the world around me. That part I get.

Dune tunes

Hey kids. I have yet to meet a few of you though I say hello to all. Here's to meeting all of you someday. Well, as long as you're good folk. No more room for poopy people in this life, okay?

I was aurally introduced to a Albert Ayler a few days ago and have been pondering the effect this music has been having on me. I picture a vast open area out beyond ideas that is covered with sand dunes. I like to coat those dunes in my mind with a good dose of magic light and throw in a backdrop of a deep blue sky with just enough clouds for interest. This has been the the ironic land of peace where I have supplanted myself since hearing the music of Albert Ayler.

The music requires nearly all of my available energy to listen to. When I dedicate less of my attention I get upset with the music and imagine myself never listening to it again. Think of William Parker + Steve Reich, John Coltrane (during his period of modal exploration) + John Adams (who wrote Short Ride in a Fast Machine), or John Cage + Eminem.

Albert Ayler has enabled me to open myself to the vast open space of existence, as in the sand dune analogy, while grounding me in the fablulous world of all I am. Simply put, I am human. With that, I know that being a human also includes this vast open space called the imagination, where wonderful new things are born. Albert Ayler takes us into a world of imagination, yet demostrates the power focus can have on the experience.

Think about trying to meditate for the very first time with the breathing techniques common in Buddhism. At first, there is much going on in the mind and the practice is far from relaxing. Then you focus on one thing, breathing, in order to open up all other space in the mind. This is the approach Ayler seems to have in his music.

Interestingly enough, Ayler has an album titled "Music Is the Healing Force of the Universe." I'd recommend some of his other albums prior, but check out whatever you can.

See you on the dunes.

Math is hard

I made an idiot of myself on the internet yesterday. Okay, it's not like it's the first time someone has been an idiot on the internet and it certainly won't be the last, but I claimed something was basic math without actually paying attention to the, um, basic math. Homer said it best: Doh.

Math has always been really hard for me. I say that not in a whiney "Math is hard." voice, but in a "Damn, I just don't GET it." tone. I flunked geometry the first time and both algebra and chemistry found me totally flustered. It's like I'm the math equivelant of color blind. I opted out of the sciences early on, even though I'm fascinated with the natural world, because I couldn't do the math.

For this sorry state of affairs I blame two people. First on the list: my 7th grade geometry teacher. This pale woman with fuzzy blonde hair would stand in front of the classroom openly yawning during her geometry lectures. Under the yellowish glow of the flourescents, she failed to enlighten me one bit about the mysteries of Pythagoras or how to find a hypontenous. Meanwhile, I dozed open-eyed at my desk, wondering whether my teacher had turned transparent, so seemingly absent was she. And this was before the pot-smoking days.

The other person I blame is, naturally, my dad. My dad was a math teacher for much of his life before he became a technical professional, and lately, he's been teaching math again. I think, in retrospect, it must have driven him completely wild that I could not for the life of me get what "x" was. Nor did I care. Numbers, which were his bread and butter, totally bored me. When he tried to tutor me through algebra, it was cold war for the entire term.

I don't think I need therapy to get over my math trauma, after all, I'm a fairly highly functioning adult. (Okay, I get that there's such a thing as denial.) I do, sometimes wish I saw the pattern, though, that I cared what "x" is, that I could make my brain pay attention to the most simple of math problems. I wouldn't mind making myself out to be just slightly less of an idiot than every other idiot on the Web. If you're an idiot on the internet once, you're an idiot forever. It's simple math.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Roll Call

Ya know, I told myself I wouldn't leave another message today for the simple reason that it looks like I'm a slack ass with no work. Then, I reconsidered - most of ya'll already know that information and for those that don't, it's going to become rather obvious anyway. So between yahoo spades, checking the hip-hop message boards for new music, and looking at the new gossip on imdb.com - I thought I'd introduce myself...

Name: Stephen Bennett (yeah, that Jason kid from the city with the Space Needle is my brother)

Age: 26 (but I don't act a day older than 25)

Headshot: Flat, floppy brown hair with a part down the middle to cover up the receding hair line (yeah, it's the best hairstyle I could come up with), deep-set hazel eyes with no dark circles (9 hours of sleep per night - don't tell me, I already know you're jealous), thin lips (think John Cusack thin, then reduce), giant schnaz (think Adrien Brody big, then increase), freckles (I'm not Opie Taylor, but I've got some), redneckesque beard (thin enough for people to suggest shaving - laziness prevails), ears that fit the face (which isn't a good thing).

Interests: Blatant Bush/Republican bashing, listening to independent hip-hop (and knowing all the latest gossip on who has been assasinated by one of Suge Knight's thugs this week), movie critiquing, discussing sports and the implications of Randy Moss' mooning on society as a whole, NBA basketball appreciater (I'm a minority on this one), ACC basketball complainer (why did they expand the league to let in VT and Miami, damnit), playing basketball (when it's not 15 fucking degrees outside), K&W eating (did you know, that I can get out of there for $4 when I eat a four vegetable meal), and enjoying Fox News for the simple reason that I can yell at the television for some reason other than sports.

Trademarks: Still saying, "bitchez" - even though the phrase is more played out than that Rick James line, rubbing on my beard and luring my listener into thinking I'm going to say something profound and then disappointing them with a conversation about Ashlee Simpson's horrendous singing at the USC game, acting like I have answers to life's questions and not having a clue, wearing cargo pants and Tim's in the middle of summer, and sporting the most faded baseball cap imagionable crooked (Jay Z style). And of course, Sinical is the sign off.

Signing off,
Sinical


If America really was a Christian nation...

I hate having my first post on this blog (whatever the fuck that means) to be copied and pasted from a friend's e-mail. However, I haven't heard from my good friend David Hennessey in about 3 months and this e-mail seemed to be entirely appropriate for this group. Enjoy...



There is much talk today of America being a "Christian" nation, founded by Christians. Though this is historically inaccurate, the notion is so popular that it merits public attention. The Republican party considers itself the representative of the Christian moral majority. How does the rhetoric stack up with reality?

*disclaimer* I am not a Christian, but I believe very much in the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth, as well as many of the other great teachers of the world. As such, this is written from the perspective of one who finds it ironic that the pacifist teachings of Jesus have been co-opted by the Republican party. I believe this is no different from the peaceful teachings of Mohammed being co-opted by the war mongers from the other side; same story, different nouns.

If America really was a Christian nation...

*) Foriegn policy would be dictated by love and a desire to help our fellow man, not paranoia & vengeance. We would certainly not have powerful "intelligence" agencies that operate entirely beyond the control of the people, accountable to no one. We would not empower these people to interfere in other democracies to assassinate elected leaders and install US-friendly dictators.

*) We would pool resources for the common good, such as health care and an end to poverty. This should be easy for the richest nation. Jesus quite explicitly said rich people would not exactly be welcome in his company, so everyone should be very happy to only take what they need & share the rest. We certainly wouldn't close homeless shelters to pay for the largest nuclear weapon stockpiles in the world, capable of blowing up the planet several hundred times over. (After all, you really only need to have enough weapons to do it once, ya know?) And we certainly wouldn't have the largest permanent war economy in the history of humankind, while being behind every single other industrial nation in the world in terms of social services. Is profit really the only possible cornerstone of community?

*) We would love, welcome, and seek to understand our neighbor -- even the gay ones. We would not pour over the Bible in a pathetic attempt to find out who it's "ok" to hate, then make special laws about those people. Our propoganda demonizes Islam for exactly the same thing.

*) We would seek peace at all costs. Aggressive action would be evil to us. Defensive action would be something we'd use with complete restraint, because responding to violence with violence has always resulted in an escalating cycle of bloodshed. History -- and Jesus -- have taught us that it never ends until people are willing to have peace, even if the personal cost is high. When Africa had it's revolution against apartheid, it was peaceful; "liberate the oppressed AND the oppressor" was the mantra. Contrast that with the never-ending war between the Palestinians and Israelis. We certainly wouldn't launch bloody "pre-emptive" wars on third-world countries, then become the oppressors & torturers out of some self-righteous cowboy delusion of spreading freedom with a gun. We'd be intelligent and pious enough to learn from history.

*) We would not all buy into the lie that you use a military to spread democracy, death to spread human rights, & war crimes to advance the cause of freedom. Instead, we would use our excessive riches to invade every country on Earth with unconditional help; food, text books, Internet access, materials to build homes, jobs, and everything else people need to empower themselves to be free. We would offer the better alternative -- not impose it through fear of death (which is, after all, the definition of terrorism). And we would do this for every country, not just the ones with oil. (Why is it that we only find "humanitarian" reasons to invade countries if they have petroleum, but claim it's none of our business if they don't? Why does invading oil-rich countries always some how make us "freer?")

*) When struck, we would turn the other cheek. This is at the basis of Jesus' doctrine of pacifism. We would not succumb to the petty desire for vengeance and blood lust. Instead of asking who we must kill after 9/11, we would be asking *why* it happened in the first place. Why do people hate us so much that they would willingly die to kill us? Are there reasons for this? Should we perhaps ask ourselves if it was wrong to force the Palestinians off their land, killing many in the process, causing several wars, and creating generations of apartheid as a result? Should we ask ourselves if it was wrong to sell WMDs to Saddam Hussein during the Reagan administration? Should we ask ourselves if we invited this when we armed, trained & funded Osama bin Laden to fight the "commies" during the Reagan years? Should we question why Bush Sr. reinstated the brutal-but-US-friendly dictator of Kuwait after the first Gulf War? Should we question our government's policy of providing funding to anti-Iranian terrorist groups? Strangely, none of this was debated prior to our President launching an unending war on a word. We did not question if 50 years of bloody oppression might have caused them to lash out at the first opportunity. Most Americans know very little about the past 50 years of history in the Middle East, and how America has been involved. Yet we're all so willing to "nuke the towel-heads." Wouldn't asking questions be a better place to start, rather than going out and buying flags and being extra-proud of ourselves?

*) We would love our enemy as we love ourselves. Since we do not imprison ourselves indefinitely without trial while torturing ourselves and declaring ourselves outside the protection of humanitarian law, we should not be doing this to our "enemy." We cannot claim the higher moral ground unless we're on it.

*) We would not base our trade economy on foriegn slave labor. If you buy clothes at the mall, you are probably unknowingly supporting slave-wage labor. In fact, almost anything you buy that was mass-produced was made in a sweatshop. This has become the norm, not the exception. It is no longer front-page news to find out that another American company has opened up shop in a country without human rights laws. Is it consistent with Christian values for the rich to exploit the poor? And yet, Walmart is one of the largest and most succesful insitutions on the planet.

*) We would not do business with people who oppress, enslave, torture, and murder. We certainly would not let the crown prince of Saudi Arabia own a large chunk of our economy. And we would be asking hard questions as to why our President is so close to so many oil-hoarding dictators.

*) We would not demand that our country be solely exempt from the International Court of Justice, nor would we demand that our nation be exempt from international treaties that keep peace & humanitarian law intact. Justice, peace & humanitarian law would actually be things we'd want to be the leaders in -- by example, not military demand.

*) We would not make greed & avarice the highest values of our land. We would not pretend not to see homeless people when we pass them, shivering in the streets. We would not begrudge them the 50 cents they ask for by telling ourselves they'd just spend it on booze. We would not have such rampant poverty that 1,000,000 children are homeless in our country.

If you're a Christian, and all this sounds like idealism to you, I have one question for you... What value does Christianity have to you if you don't believe it's teachings *really* apply? Being a Christian nation isn't about putting "under god" into the pledge. It's not about trying to outlaw abortion while ignoring every other issue. It's about the actions of that nation.

It's not just radical fundamentalist Islam that needs reform. Reactionary fundamentalist Christianity has waged far more carnage in the last few years than a rag-tag band of terrorists could ever hope to accomplish. More than 100,000 civillian Arabs have perished, and our President feels there is no need for accountability. America, Israel, and the Middle East are driving conflicts that threaten to engulf the world. Why is bloodshed characteristic of the monotheistic religions? And here at home, it is breeding bigotry and intolerance. It is now acceptable, even fashionable for our leaders to be open bigots. An honest appraisal of what America is really like today -- not 200 years ago, not during World War II, but *today* -- is long overdue.

Could it be that a "Christian nation," "Jewish nation," and "Muslim nation" are all equally bad ideas? Maybe we need to just have *nations*, where all the people are equal. Or better yet, maybe we should just have Earth, with all the people, and forget about the imaginary lines on the map. Those lines only exist because our ancestors were savage. Our religions all teach us that we've become better than those savages. It's time we started acting like it.

Thanks for reading this far...
David

Monday, January 17, 2005

Hey, no formalities, k?

What up all? No idea the complete list of folks invited to post, but I'm looking forward to this. Hopefully it will be a nice extension of the email threads that have been overlapping back and forth via various circles on coasts left, right, and north (word, Drew). So, right to it.


I'm slacking out of the house today - they're replacing the gas line out front and have literally removed the driveway ramp (?) to the street. So I have to make my own coffee. I've got this theory going right now about how Americanos are better for you than drip coffee because of the reduced caffeine content. After 3 cups of drip at Longshoreman's, I'm ON A MENTAL MISSION, and my body parts refuse to listen to me any longer. But I'm stuck with drip today, and a crapload of work, so forward march.

Before I depart, a quick link to a service I've been enjoying for the last couple of weeks. Last.Fm is a streaming site that builds playlists based on what you play - your playlists auto-upload into their database. You need the audioscrobbler plugin (free) for your player of choice, but for any ripped music geeks, it's an easy way to connect to other geeks with similar music tastes. Other folk's playlists/"radio stations" are suggested, and you can add non-ripped tracks to your profile. It's a step up from the typical radio stations on the web(though there are plenty of those worth checking out). I'm on there as StoneRose30.

Peace out,
Jason
[currently listening to BBC 1Xtra - DJ Flight]

Friday, January 14, 2005

Welcome

Let the posting begin!