Thursday, May 15, 2008

Bloggers United For Human Rights Day

Well, that is what I usually do but today it's extra important. May 15 is Bloggers Unite For Human Rights day!!! This event has spread like wildfire thanks to Amnesty International and Facebook. Check it out here.

Some the issues the group is hoping to see blogs promote are:

1. Human Rights in China. This is especially on our minds after their tragic 7.9 magnitude earthquake that struck over the weekend. Amnesty hopes you will sign a petition to Yahoo! to protect Internet free speech in China.

2. Check out tearitdown.org to find how to campaign for an end to the Guantanamo Bay detaining center.

3. The crisis in Darfur, Sudan, which includes civil war, genocide, poverty, rampant AIDS, and a serious lack in education and military stability. Amnesty has a petition you can sign to protect Darfur.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Weddings are expensive!

What is it about the white dress and the flower pedals? What is it about my age that everybody is rushing down the aisle in puppy love and plenty of debt? I have read about the most expensive wedding:
The world's most expensive wedding was thrown by Lakshmi Mittal for his daughter Vanisha Mittal and and her fiancée Amit Bhatia on June 22 2004.

The wedding was held at Vaux le Vicomte a 17th-century French chateau on the final day of a 6 day celebration.

The estimated reported cost of the wedding celebration came in at a mere $60 million USD.

Lakshmi Mittal also holds the record for owning the world's most expensive house.
I suppose it makes sense for the oober rich to own the most expensive house and throw the most expensive shindig.

I'm beginning to think about my own wedding and the madness that will surround it. Will I be a bride-zilla? Will I be a barefoot bride? Only time will tell-- and my Mother.

When asked "What is the craziest thing you've ever seen at a wedding?" THESE photographers have hilarious and unsettling answers! Can you believe some of this stuff actually takes place in front of all one's family and friends?
"I have seen brides: knock over their cake, publicly vomit from drinking too much, stagger into the video tripod and almost knock it over, smoking dope, snorting cocaine, open gift envelopes to pay the caterer and myself, punch out her best friend, attempt to dance on a table that collapsed, get caught in a compromising situation with the best man during the reception. They get worse, so I will stop here."

"A 'kegstand' as I saw it was where the bride and groomsmen each took turns being held upside down over a keg of beer and attempt to see who can drink the most/longest."

"Craziest thing I've seen a bride do was go through with the wedding after the groom, in response to the question 'Do you take this woman, etc?' said 'Ummm, I guess so.' "

"The craziest thing I've seen a groom do is ask me for my assistant's phone number...for the best man, of course."
What you should never, ever do at your wedding! You read for yourself! :)

Friday, May 25, 2007

U.N. on the slow move to Darfur

Making minimal headlines (no one really cares about Africa), huge progress has begun in the crisis area of Sudan's Darfur. The saddening lack of enthusiasm from the U.S. government and media show a lack of integrity and thoroughness when it comes to reporting. The U.N. stepping into genocide crisis in Darfur is years too late and will only work results with international support. You can follow news about this at the Coalition for Darfur. On May 23, from Reuters:

U.N. military personnel set to bolster African peacekeepers in Sudan's war-ravaged Darfur need at least three to four months to get in place, a senior African Union officer said on Wednesday. But the officer, speaking on condition of anonymity at the wind-swept AU base at el-Geneina where some of the African Union's roughly 7,000 Darfur peacekeepers are housed in tents, said only a much larger peacekeeping force could ultimately stem violence in Darfur.

The United Nations estimates that about 200,000 people have died and more than 2 million made homeless since ethnic and political conflict flared in Darfur in 2003 when rebel groups took up arms against Khartoum, accusing it of neglect.

Sudan says only 9,000 have died. A 2006 peace deal between the government and one rebel faction has so far failed to halt the violence.

The U.N. reinforcements, about 1,000 of which will be posted at el-Geneina in West Darfur, are due to come as part of a U.N. "heavy support package" of more than 3,000 U.N. military personnel for Darfur that Khartoum agreed to in April.

Have you tried Meebo??

First it was Firefox- now we all have Firefox. Next it was Gmail- now we all have Gmail. Then it was AIM- now we all have Meebo?? I have been using meebo.com for all my IMing needs (AIM and Gchat in the same window). I have been loving it. What will the nerds think of next?

Thursday, February 08, 2007

TIME's Joe Klein on Affirmative Action

Affirmative Action is a touchy subject in America, from the Hill to the Ivies. It makes no sense for a nation that stands for equality to still struggle so much to bring equal education to each race. TIME's Joe Klein explains,
Affirmative action was never a very elegant solution to the problem of racial injustice... On the plus side, a generation of minority and women college graduates has entered the workforce, creating a significant black middle class and a more integrated society. But the price has been resentment, especially in the white working class, and some real inequities... Even the most passionate advocates of affirmative action agree that it's a temporary fix, that writing racial distinctions into law is corrosive and illogical in a society that presumes racial equality.
So what is a nation to do? A nation that has put all its eggs in one basket, so to speak, settling much lower for racial appeasement rather than equal opportunity? Klein outlines,
Change the Definition. Make it poverty, not pigment. This is an imperfect solution. Yes, a disproportionate number of African Americans and Latinos are poor, but the majority of poor people are white—and more than a few are Asian. If race-based remedies are supplanted by class-based remedies, the number of African Americans attending elite universities, for one thing, will fall... Legacies—that is, the children of alumni—represent a huge chunk of students in most fancy schools, about 1 of every 7 students in the Ivy League, according to some estimates. A 1990 study by the Department of Education found that the average Harvard legacy was "significantly less qualified" than other students in all areas except athletic ability. If we're going to end affirmative action for African Americans, we should end it for Affluent Americans. Change the System. Affirmative action was always racial justice on the cheap. The only real long-term answer to inequality is to provide a better educational system for the poor, and I mean really better: new facilities, longer school days and school years, the best college-prep classes, and significant salary bonuses for teachers who choose the toughest neighborhoods, for starters. This would require nothing less than a revolution in public education... Fudge it. Even if racial preferences are ruled unconstitutional, people are going to find a way to do it anyway... Diversity has been written into the dna of American life; any institution that lacks a rainbow array has come to seem diminished, if not diseased. In fact, there is a general acknowledgment, in all but the most troglodytic precincts, that our racial diversity is a major American competitive advantage in the global economy.
When thinking about affirmative action, or any other racial issue, it is so important to actually think of practical and workable solutions. Joe Klein is one of few voices out there using his brain when it comes to education and affirmative action. After all, the point of affirmative action was to lead to true equality. It is time for the next step.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Jakob and Esau

I have been reading Brian D. McLaren's a Generous Or+hodoxy and other materials about the emergent church trends. I like this line of thinking because it reminds us that Christ's love is for everybody, not just the Christian elite. This is often forgotten and Christianity soon becomes a better-than-thou club.

I wrote this short story based partly on a friend's rejection of Christ and my thoughts recently about the post-modern church. (I do not support the extreme brand of post-modernism that says such wrong ideas that blends truth with everything else-- that is not the idea)


Jakob and Esau

“Jakob the American. No, no, no. Jakob the Jewish-American. Hmmm. Jakob the American Jew-turned-Jesus-Follower. No, it’s all wrong.” Jakob, just Jakob, he decided on. He was young and seemingly ever-changing. He had changed his mind about his political party, religion, and serious girlfriend several times during his short life. Now it was time to apply for graduate school, to hammer out his identity.

He had two sides to him; he called them his Jacob and Esau. The large half of him had grown up in his Jewish roots. They weren’t exactly Jewish, they were American. His father worked too much and his mother kept house. They bought him a fancy car and sent him to private school. Jakob’s mother glowed about the synagogue about as much as she did about him. Their synagogue, built in the sort of neighborhood with churches on each block, stood out boldly, festively. The young synagogue had a rock-lined path connecting it with a Lutheran church. The churches were friends; a mirror of Jakob’s new friendship with Christ.

In high school, he never minded reminding his evangelical friends that he didn’t celebrate Christmas. He didn’t even mind missing visits from the Easter Bunny each year. Up until late in his college career, Jakob enjoyed the blasé identity that he had inherited. After all, Jews like him were considered upper-class, mobile, deep thinkers. Phrases like closed-minded or judgmental were never directed toward his family.

“Go with me to junior prom?” He had asked her the day before. For all her quick fumbling and shopping, he treated her like a princess for the night. Mia had been what seemed like “in love” with Jakob in middle school. Now she was cool, collected, down to earth, and confident. She had developed a liking for church, he knew, but he didn’t mind.

A desire to go to undergrad out of state kept them connected in school. His parents saw the opportunity as a chance for him to enter a land flowing with milk and honey. Soon they started undergrad on different sides of the country. Mia became profoundly Evangelical, while Jakob found himself wandering through a desert of confusion.

Mia wasn’t close-minded and uncultured, he reasoned. She wasn’t even judgmental. She stayed away from the party scene and meaningless relationships, just as he did.

The 700 Club had come up once while he was flipping channels. The speakers talked too fast for him, one pointed at him and cursed him.

Are you a Republican? Do you want to be a stay-at-home mother? Do you believe women should submit to men? Did God create the world in a literal seven days? Jakob drilled Mia with questions, wrestling with his curious heart. For him, the Kingdom of God was not yet restored. For herm, the Kingdom was restored, welcoming any and all into its dance.

He knew he despised baggage. Jakob carried around the baggage of busy parents and no siblings, and an empty feeling about his spirituality. But why, he asked her, why did believing in Christ come with so much baggage? He wanted spirituality that brought truth, love, acceptance, and empathy; he had only found elites in her world.

Broken and compassionate for him, Mia could only muster the words “I’m sorry.”

Jakob’s ancestors lived religion in their normal, everyday lives. They did not just incorporate stringent views and have a once-weekly acting out of religion. A belief in God led to upright living, hoping, and giving. He knew they did not live elite lives, as one who joins a yacht club might, while Jesus-followers had made him feel like a second-class citizen in America. “I’m sorry,” was all she could say.

Why did you take this religion? Finally, in desperation, he had asked her what he had been aching to ask anyone who could tell him. Mia, carefully and sweetly, told him she did not take religion but Jesus. She did it differently. She molded American Christianity into consideration, kindness, and relevance.

He knew full well that historians no longer debate whether Jesus was actually a man. They have had to accept this, he had too. Now they wonder inquisitively—are His claims true?

Jakob finished up undergrad quietly, he made his parents proud. They would have the same struggle he had if he told them he became a follower of Christ. But Mia had taught him the true way. What his ancestors had hoped for, prayed for, and were promised was fulfilled in the person of Jesus Christ in the first century.

He never became a Republican and he never watched the 700 Club again. He never spanked his children, he never prayed for America. His childhood quietness grew into manhood. No longer needing a fake birthright, Jakob was accepted as a son into his God’s Kingdom. The truth had clung to him, refusing to let go. He had fought it with all of his might, not realizing what it truly was.

Mia lived an unconventional life. She spoke of blessings through suffering, and Christ’s acceptance of everybody. Jakob connected his Jewish roots with a beautiful, struggle-lined path to the truth of Christianity’s Jesus, but he never joined the discourteous camp he saw too often. He lived a blessed life because He found the person of Jesus holding no baggage but rather open arms.


At that time, says the Lord, I will be the God of all the families of Israel, and they shall be my people. Thus says the Lord: The people who survived the sword found grace in the wilderness; when Israel sought for rest, the Lord appeared to him from far away. I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you. (Jeremiah 31:1-3)




I hope to write more short stories and articles, both fiction and non-fiction, about these new ideas. I'm looking to get published, either in complete book form or on a per-article basis. If you have any leads, please feel free to e-mail me. Thinkingsand -at sign- gmail dot com.


Key words/tags:Jewish, Judaism, religion, Christianity, Christian, American, Jacob, emergent, Christ follower, Esau, relevant, church, unchurched, follower of Christ, salvation, conversion, conversation, religious, life path

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

awww... Craigslist shows on-line chivalry

Chivalry! What's that? Craigslist.org has Christmas cheer, that's for sure. The poor company is under scrutiny this week for its unwillingness to put money-making ads on its pages. The New York Time's DealBook blog overs the catastrophe:
Craigslist charges money for job listings, but only in seven of the cities it serves ($75 in San Francisco; $35 in the others). And it charges for apartment listings in New York ($10 a pop). But that is just to pay expenses.
Mr. Schachter still did not seem to understand. How about running AdSense ads from Google? Craigslist has considered that, Mr. Buckmaster said. They even crunched the numbers, which were “quite staggering.” But users haven’t expressed an interest in seeing ads, so it is not going to happen.
Commenter Doug replied thoughtfully:
I would think that this sort of “profits not primary” mentality is something that the establishment could find threatening. Let’s hope it catches on as the internet continues to democratize the population’s ability to interact more directly.
My response? Can't a company not want to rule the Internet with all power and unknowing supporters raising millions of dollars in profits??? (ah-hem... YouTube!) I think most on-line start-ups today are in it for the short run. They want to build, build up, and sell out. The alllll popular Facebook, YouTube, and MySpace come to mind. Facebook, which claimed on their site for over a year that they would never sell out and allow high school students to use their service (they serve a college niche) finally gave in this year. Ads have somewhat unobtrusively found their homes on pages such as Facebook, MySpace, YouTube, even FoxNews forces readers to watch 21 second commercials before news stories. Perhaps Craigslist stays away from this because it is not trying to draw in a crowd from every possible niche and be a global dinner-table-conversation clique. That's okay. Way to be, Craigslist!

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Media spins story over the top

Today headlines filled my feeds about an ice skating rink in Alabama that was torn apart in a thunderstorm. The worst part? The building had 31 preschoolers in it. Headlines looked like this:

Storm destroys skating rink full of preschoolers  (cnn.com)
Storm Destroys Montgomery Skating Rink, Preschoolers Inside (wtvynews4.com)
Devastating Storms Leave Death, Destruction (wdiv)
Storm destroys Montgomery skating rink full of children (The Decatur Daily)
Storm wrecks skate rink; kids inside (Yahoo! News)
Storms wreck Ala. skate rink filled with preschoolers (San Diego Union Tribune)
Preschoolers Hurt in Stormy Weather (First Coast News)
Children escape death in storm (azcentral.com)

Hmmm. Where did your mind go while reading those? Did you think about Columbine,or  the Tsnami? Well, once you click the link and actually read the story you learn that one kid suffered a broken arm and another got a cut. NO ONE DIED. Granted, there was great danger and trauma for the children. But on-line publications are desperate for people to view their ads. They have to spice up headlines, especially ones that play into human emotion... Thanks for conning me into viewing ads, crapfaces. At the expense of kids. Geez.