Saturday, November 24, 2007

Open Thread

Going to an early service tomorrow, so I thought I'd go ahead and post a new thread before turning in tonight.

Haloscan comment thread

Finding the right fit

Originally posted at My Left Wing

For much of the past year I've been way too busy with work and family in one form or another to be able to write a proper essay about anything of substance. At least, I assumed that was the reason I wasn't writing. And, when I occasionally did have a bit more free time, well, I really needed that to actually be free time, you know? But it's actually way more complicated than being busy. I've been doing a lot of thinking, when I went on an overnight retreat at the beginning of last month, and every time I get a few minutes to myself. I think about all sorts of things, but those things revolve around the big picture question of "Where do I fit?"

Where do I fit in the political world?

Where does political involvement fit into my life?

What kind of political involvement?

How can I live more intentionally--acting rather than reacting, choosing where to invest my energies and talents? How can I find balance in all of this--remembering who I wanted to be and making choices that are in keeping with my core values?

While I've done a lot of thinking along these lines, I haven't come up with much that I can write about yet. But Maryscott remarks in the Daily Rant about this site "dying" moved me to try to put at least some of this into words.

I have been revisiting the reasons I started to frequent political blogs. In a nutshell, the emergency of the U.S. invasion of Iraq and later the 2004 election changed me from someone who tuned out most of politics and never watched the news to someone who had to get involved because the stakes were so high.

There's a book called Why Zebras Don't Get Ulcers. I was telling my class about it not too long ago. Zebras don't tend to have chronic stressors. They have the sorts of stressors that end quickly, for better or worse. Either they are captured by the lion or they escape. The classic "fight or flight" situation. One of the reasons humans are prone to ulcers (among other things) is that we deal with more chronic stressors.

I'm sure someone reading this will find flaws with this analogy and want to point them out to me. Just this once, please don't. Whether or not my zebra comparison makes sense or seems appropriate to you, I'm telling you the truth as I see it. Which is is not healthy or adaptive to be in "emergency response mode" for an extended period of time. I do believe that it is part of my "calling" (for lack of a better word) to be doing something toward healing the world. Even just a little part of it. My hunch is, that's something I have in common with a lot of people here, even if we express it differently.

Haloscan comment thread

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Thanksgiving food for thought

Many people across the country today w,ill be having their Thanksgiving dinner at thousands of locations that serve meals to the poor and homeless. But this would be largely unnecessary if our priorities were a little different.

From the Washington Post:

Food banks are a dominant institution in this country, and they assert their power at the local and state levels by commanding the attention of people of good will who want to address hunger. Their ability to attract volunteers and to raise money approaches that of major hospitals and universities. While none of this is inherently wrong, it does distract the public and policymakers from the task of harnessing the political will needed to end hunger in the United States.

The risk is that the multibillion-dollar system of food banking has become such a pervasive force in the anti-hunger world, and so tied to its donors and its volunteers, that it cannot step back and ask if this is the best way to end hunger, food insecurity and their root cause, poverty.

During my tenure in Hartford, I often wondered what would happen if the collective energy that went into soliciting and distributing food were put into ending hunger and poverty instead. Surely it would have a sizable impact if 3,000 Hartford-area volunteers, led by some of Connecticut's most privileged and respected citizens, showed up one day at the state legislature, demanding enough resources to end hunger and poverty. Multiply those volunteers by three or four -- the number of volunteers in the state's other food banks and hundreds of emergency food sites -- and you would have enough people to dismantle the Connecticut state capitol brick by brick. Put all the emergency food volunteers and staff and board members from across the country on buses to Washington, to tell Congress to mandate a living wage, health care for all and adequate employment and child-care programs, and you would have a convoy that might stretch from New York City to our nation's capital.

But what we have done instead is to continue down a road that never comes to an end. Like transportation planners who add more lanes to already clogged highways, we add more space to our food banks in the futile hope of relieving the congestion.

We know hunger's cause -- poverty. We know its solution -- end poverty. Let this Thanksgiving remind us of that task.

Something to think about as we give thanks for the harvest.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

Haloscan comment thread

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Unbelievable this is not butter

Can't seem to fall asleep, so I decided to get out of bed for a bit rather than just lying there feeling frustrated.

Popped over to BBspot to see if today's Daily Links had been posted yet. They had, and I found this one rather amusing. Products whose names were variations on the "I can't believe it's not butter" theme. I thought I'd go ahead and post it now, because I might forget by the time I eventually fall asleep and eventually wake up again...

Now I'm going to go try that thing where I'm horizontal with my eyes closed again and see if it works this time.

Haloscan comment thread

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Short attention span theater

I am slooowly getting over a yucky cold, but it's been gray outside all day, so that's amplifying the usual virus-induced bleariness.

"Distractibility" has been the name of the game for me today, and I've been hopping around various sites on the interwebs, but not really accomplishing anything.

Found this article about the science of cooking interesting. As I was reading it to Demetrius, he said that Alton Brown of Good Eats had addressed some of the same issues. Turns out that Harold McGee, who I'd never heard of before today, was a major influence on Alton Brown. He's got his own web site, Curious Cook, which I will check out when I have a longer attention span.

But from there I moved on to this geography quiz, which I liked because you actually get points for being "close". So I ended up wasting a fair amount of time on that as well.

Eventually, I did manage to get myself out the door to run a couple of errands. While I was out, I thought of a blog essay I wanted to write, and had every intention of starting once I got home. So now that I'm home, I should get to work on that. Actually, I should work on lecture prep first. But...

Look! Some bouncy balls!

Bounce, bounce, bouncy, bouncy--will you look at that? All bouncy and the sun that's hiding behind the clouds today. In that the sun is yellow, I mean, not that the sun bounces. At least, I don't think it does...

Now, what was it that I was going to do next? I'm sure it was important...

Haloscan comment thread

Monday, November 19, 2007

Colds suck

Just sayin'.

Cold virus image courtesy of Purdue News.

Haloscan comment thread

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Open Thread

A picture of Michael Jackson graces the cover of the current issue of Ebony magazine. I don't know about you, but I find that just a teensy bit ironic.

Thriller was 25 years

Haloscan comment thread