May I let my voice be a clarion call. I will use these words for justice. I will use these words for truth. And humour.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007


An Angry Atheist Explains Why

A friend just sent me a link to this post and I thought it was brilliantly evocative. To understand why Atheists are angry, and why its important that they be so, please read this blog article.

Greta Christina's words helped me to identify some inner turmoil of my own (mainly related to anger and ambivalence). I'm a multitheticalist which is a conglomerate system of belief which includes both atheist and theistic models of understanding the world. For more information on what "multithetical" means, check this previous post.

OK I gotta go fill out some important forms for school.

Thanks, and enjoy every sandwich.

lyrics: John Coltrane Giant Steps.

colors: pink and brown.

mood: distracted.


pax hominibus,

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Monday, October 29, 2007


"Keep holding the paper clip!"

#1. Today I came across this article, in which The Gap is investigating allegations of child labor, with respect to some factories in India where some lines of their clothing are made.

What makes me sad about it is that if those clothes are coming over here to the USA.... MOST AMERICANS DON'T NEED MORE CLOTHES!!! Perhaps we might WANT some newer apparel, or we see something with a pretty picture on it, but there are enough clothes to go around in the United States (though somehow the poor and homeless are still left a bit in limbo). A Gap ad comes on with a smiling model/celebrity who's life has been so enriched because she/he is wearing clothes from the Gap, and ppl feel the need to buy. Ugh. If I have clothes that are in decent repair, I don't need new ones. If they need repairing, I'd much rather have them patched up a bit unless they're supposed to be my dressy Sunday duds.

#2. Today I called Linksys tech support regarding the incredible (poor) performance of my router, and talked to a man who spoke English very well, with an Indian accent. The connection wasn't so good so there were quite a few times I had to ask him to repeat himself. Having worked in tech support, I understand that often they get total chowderheads calling who have no clue how to even run a computer, so given the propensity of tech support folks to have to talk down at a simple level, combined with me asking him to repeat, it was an awkward phone call. He started out telling me to look in the lower-left corner for the __asfh__ button. I asked him to repeat, and then heard him say "The Start Button" I laughed out loud. Next he asked me to click the mouse on it and let go. Then he asked if I could find "Run..." on the menu. I tried to tell him I knew what I was doing, but to little avail. We went to a cmd prompt, followed by running ipconfig and ping several times, with a 100% failure rate.

The other part where I laughed out loud was when I realized this absurdity: I was talking on a cell phone via satellites in the sky to a man in India who was (up during the middle of his night working and) telling me that I needed to keep holding onto a paper clip. The potential solution to this tech support riddle was for me to hold an unbent paper clip against a little recessed button on the router for 45 seconds, then to keep applying pressure to the paper clip while unplugging the power from the router, waiting another 30 seconds, then still applying pressure to the paper clip, replug the power and hold the paper clip for 30 more seconds. (Its a good thing I have two working hands, I thought.)

Anyway, during our 45 seconds and 30 seconds downtimes, he asked me briefly and casually if I'd ever been to India. I said "Not yet, have you?" He didn't reply, so I said I've always wanted to. That was the end of the small-talk and then we went back to ping I don't think he found my response humorous, but then again, I wonder how many people in the U.S. and elsewhere know that a large quantity of tech support jobs are going to India. I don't even see it as "outsourcing" any more. Multinational companies hire wherever they can maximize profit and get good workers. And eventually, that will level the standard of living around the globe.

Sure its likely that there will be more rich people in the U.S. than in developing countries, but it's not unlikely that there won't be more and more poor people being exploited in the U.S. if this pattern continues. When/if the sweatshops start showing up in Detroit and Fresno, then what? Will people then know where the cheap big-box store prices come from?

Anyway, I am grateful to the two gentlemen in India for their help, and hopeful that justice will prevail in the economy.

lyrics: Something by Coleman Barks on staying up praying all night.

colors: red. all these computer issues lately have got my patience down, and my fire up. :|

mood: fiery.

chant/prayer/mantra: shed some light

pax hominibus,

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Sunday, October 28, 2007


So sick of computers and networking... (and the bene's of community)

Hi Friends-

In our household, I am the IT guy, in charge of helping our computers work as a workgroup, and to each see the Internet through the router and cable modem. I am not a computer expert, so I do a lot of tinkering to hold things together. I am supposed to be working on homework, and writing applications for chaplaincy residency at hospitals, but computer woes have been sidetracking me mightily.

Yesterday evening, our Internet connection completely bit it (the workgroup still could all see each other through the router (when the wireless aspect was actually working--it's always been spotty even though our apartment is only about 20x20)) and I called our ISP and after an hour or two we got it to a point where now everything could see each other and the Internet.

Now today, when I booted up my audio computer, it failed to recognize the external USB/Firewire hard drive. After unplugging and replugging and rebooting FOUR times, I finally got it working by just hooking up the drive through USB only which is significantly slower, but worked. Then when iTunes fired up, it played, but I got no sound. Checked the Control Panel, and the only option is "Bluetooth Audio"... What's frustrating about that is that I have a perfectly good Firewire soundcard that wasn't being recognized. I tried in vain for two hours to get it to work, reinstalling drivers, checking in the Hardware Device Manager, unplugging and replugging, and nothing works. Windows says everything's working fine of course.

I used to work for a company that made audio software, and they made it for Windows only. That's why I've been sticking with Microsoft, but now Windows Vista's kernel plays poorly with the software that had worked nicely on Win2k, Win98, and WinXP. I *might* buy a Windows XP computer and keep it completely clean. But then again, I might be done with Microsoft. Their OS is turning into such a morass of difficulty for me that I can't see sticking with them much longer.

So, do I switch to Linux or Mac? Well, there is now FINALLY multitrack audio software (Ardour) for Linux, so maybe that if there are drivers for my audio device. Doing a google search for "linux firepod drivers" brought me to this forum, and this advice, which is bafflingly complex for a person like me. I'm computer literate, even computer savvy, but not that much of a geek to compile and build my own Linux distro, compile audio drivers, and then tweak them as this person does (though I am certainly envious of his skills). I really wish that the Linux community could find a way to make one or more installable highly stable versions of the OS that are inviting for people who know how to use computers AND have a straightforward way for people to install drivers and software using compiled executables, not requiring them to compile from source, seeking out special libraries and adding compile-time switches.

Switching to Mac might not be a bad idea, but then I need to find, pay for, and learn some alternate software. I'm not against that, as long as it's less frustrating and limited than the version of Garageband I used last year on my boss' Mac mini. Ugh.

What I really would love to see would be living communities develop with specialists in them. Imagine if you lived in an apartment building (or similar multi-unit domicile) with 40 people, one (or more) of whom was a computer specialist, one (or more...) who loved to cook, one who could repair guitars and electronic equipment, one who would take care of the garbage, one to keep the bathroom clean, one to be the treasurer, one who works the garden, one who does the political advocating, one to take care of the pets, several to work at jobs for pay, etc. As it is, with a family of two (as we are), it gets to the point where we're doing all of the jobs above, plus much more. Keeping the living rooms and bedrooms in separated quarters might be nice, but having a common dining area and kitchen would help make the community more efficient. Perhaps the dining area could double as a meeting space and movie theater. I think if human families were to try that on for size, it could make our way of life much better overall, as we'd be able to share 2 or 3 hammers between 10-15 families, cook large-scale meals and keep fresh foods and leftovers from going bad with a dedicated cook on staff. I still think having restaurants and individual family (and individual person) meals would be a good idea as well, of course. To think otherwise, IMO, would be a little myopic and confining.

Every time I bring this up to someone, they always talk about why it wouldn't work. I loathe that attitude. Its the attitude of "haters" as in, "why you gotta be all up and hatin' in my business?" What I want to hear from people is how it could work. What WOULD it take for humanity to develop more communal and cooperative lifestyles? What impediments are there, other than the same old examples shown to us in popular media, and dictated by the Defense of Marriage Act? I'm sure that if the government, and the people who elect their government, wanted to, they could provide incentives for people to live cooperatively. And for corporations to be more cooperative as well. (Oh I have a big long thing to write about corporate cooperativity, but that's for another day.)

OK, I got the computer exasperation whining off my chest for now, and have since digressed into a community-sharing tirade, so I guess I'll sign off. Thanks for reading. Love yr neighbor.

pax hominibus,
agape to everyone,

"Strephon kissed me in the spring, Robin in the fall,
But Colin only looked at me And never kissed at all.
Strephon's kiss was lost in jest, Robin's lost in play,
But the kiss in Colin's eyes Haunts me night and day."
-Sara Teasdale

Once in a while, the time will come
To surrender everything you have to give
Once in a while, the time will come
To surrender everything you have to give
-Flaming Lips, "Superhumans"

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Wednesday, October 24, 2007


Why "the Devil" is "my Savior"....

today while walking the dog, and walking my sweetie to the BART stop, we came across a homeless woman. marie (not her real name) is no ordinary homeless woman. then again, is there really such a thing as an ordinary homeless person?

she went to our church for the first time last week with a friend of hers. so today on the way to BART, we stopped and talked with her for a while, before maggie got uppity to continue her walk and started barking. on the way back, we saw her again, and talked for about 15-20 minutes. she was spare-changing, and as i approached, she was miffed about some people who had just walked by and entirely ignored her as if she wasn't there.

today, marie was begging for money so that she could get a pregnancy test for her homeless friend. and she's hoping that soon she can get back into a low-rent housing somewhere. she has a bachelor's degree, and has things surprisingly well together (how together would you have your life if you had no home???). anyway, from the topics of our conversation, including her experiences, her interpersonal care for friends and the homeless community, and her sharp and honest wit, i suggested that perhaps she should look into seminary and ministry for two reasons: first, her ministry could draw upon the wealth of experience and character built up from the adversity she's lived through. and second, she could get student loans and get a leg up off the street.

when you have a project and you want it to get done, to whom is it best to apply the commission of that project? how much better would the disaster relief in new orleans been if the person in charge of FEMA been a new orleans resident, rather than somebody entirely uninterested? would one have a white person as the primary advocate for the rights of blacks, or a straight person for gay rights? true, sometimes people can go against the grain and do great work for communities that they are not "a part of" but that's the exception and hardly the rule. but the person who is going to make the most efficient use of resources and have the most drive is the one who has embodied experience within that oppressed position. those from outside the community, the best thing they can do is offer support -- financial, physical (actually show up and serve at the soup line, or build the low-rent house, for example), spiritual (prayers and positive intention), and mental (teach necessary skills) -- but for an outsider to take on the role of the primary agent for a project is something that will mitigate the strength of the effort, and i'd question why somebody would do that if there is a more embodied person available?

with a little practical experience working with institutions, she would be an ideal leader and advocate for the large-scale homeless project i'd like to see happen. all that would be left would be to get the resources together (monetary, raw physical goods, and human expertise). where would all that money come from?

well let's say there are 100k homeless people in each state. that means 5 million in the United States. my numbers could be off by a little, but certainly not by an order of magnitude, so this would suffice for a mock-up plan.

from the previous post, linked above:
What I really want is to establish a system of dormitory/ashram/hostel - style housing units (30-100 people/unit) where we can have ~four people to a room with:
  • clean cots/beds/bunks
  • decent inexpensive meals (accepting donations from restaurants and grocery stores)
  • clean clothes (accepting donations from anyone)
  • laundry
  • career counseling*
  • mental health counseling*
  • a health-care ombudsman*
  • multi-faith-skilled chaplaincy*
  • a computer room with Internet access (for email and education)
  • massage therapy*
  • vegetable gardens
*weekly, bi-weekly, or semi-weekly visits.
Depending on location (urban/suburban/rural), the housing could be between 2500 and 10000 dollars per person per year. Let's say a round figure of $6000/person/year for housing. Food, done efficiently and spartanly, and with donations, could be $1000/person/year, especially if supplemented by gardening. Clothes, this planet is bursting with clothes -- most can be acquired through donation, and clean socks and underwear can be had for $100/year.

I'd like to take a moment to note that EVERYTHING in this plan will technically happen through "donations" in one sense or another, even the money, EVEN if it comes from tax dollars, or from volunteered labor. After all, aren't our tax dollars supposed to be (consensual - to the degree that we elect our decision-makers) donations toward the commonwealth and the good of the community, for things that we as individuals wouldn't/couldn't purchase on our own?

What about my assumption that career counselors, mental health counselors, and massage therapists would donate their time? Why would they do that? Because they fucking care about other people! (It grieves me deeply that so many people think of genuine caring as the exception, rather than the rule.) They recognize that there are other people who need what they've got, and that they are blessed with the good fortune to have the skills/resources they do. If you think of yourself as a caring Christian or caring person of any religion, and think twice about giving favors for free, you might want to recheck that definition. Sharing is going to be how we survive. And I recognize that sharing runs counter to our individualized "pull resources toward oneself" economic system. I think the sharing should stay, and the greed should go.

In some of my reading for the Bawa Muhaiyaddeen online course, he talks about zakah, or charity, one of the five pillars of Islam. Christians, make no mistake, I think you should hold your own feet to the fire on this one. If I could, I'd set up a charity competition between Christians and Muslims. And I daresay that at present, with respect to many sects of Christianity (the Amish excluded), the Muslims would be winning. Whether the United States of America is a Christian nation or a Muslim nation, it is indeed blessed with riches beyond the dreams of Jesus or Mohammad. The zakah essentially says to tithe according to your assets/wealth (2.5%), and not according to your income (though I think a combination of the two would likely be the most just, so people don't try to get around the rules by not earning, or by spending on perishable goods).

So, what Bawa says (from a very theo-centric viewpoint) is that according to God/Allah, "what people do not realize is that it is I who created the nourishment that is permissible for them. Anyone who claims [the stuff of] this world as his own, anyone who grabs the world and says it belongs to him, has changed into satan and is surely going to hell." Those are pretty strong words and I don't see it exactly that way. I would say instead that to the degree that a person claims property for him/herself they are Satan, and they are in hell. I've seen it happen to me and I've seen it happen to the people who walked by Marie. When they/I walk by, it is with a feeling of "this spare-changing person is asking for my money, for my time," but Bawa essentially says that property is theft from the world's sharable resources, and claiming something as yours puts one in enmity with the world, which will ultimately reclaim any resources we temporarily usurp. Does a tree own anything? I guess technically trees compete for resources (sunlight, air, soil nutrients) with other trees, undergrowth and the like, but if they were able to, I fear they'd do a better job sharing than humans....

I'd imagine that not all Muslims follow the tithing rule, in much the same way that most Christians don't give 10 percent. The real problem is taxes -- they are supposed to be donations toward the commonwealth and the good of the community. Instead, I just read on a USA Today front page as I walked by the newsstand, that the Congressional Budget Office estimates that the cost of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars is presently at $2.4 TRILLION dollars!! By my estimates, for that kind of money, we could easily have already equipped the entirety of the United States with solar energy.... (I think I might be getting myself mad here (or perhaps its the USA Today article, or perhaps its the Bush Admin's expensive (in oh so many ways) cowboy-style foreign policy)).....

Back to the topic at hand... If it costs us in the range of $10k/year to support the homeless and help them get back into the economy, that would be 10,000 x 5,000,000 people ONLY 50 billion dollars per year. In other words, for the price of these two wars, we could've eliminated homelessness for 50 years (and on reflection, all of our lives would be better for it). Think about that.

you can laugh at my behavior
that'll never bother me
say the devil is my savior
but i don't pay no heed

and i will go on shining
shining like brand new
i'll never look behind me
my troubles will be few
-Supertramp, Goodbye Stranger

colors: red, white, yellow

mood: ready to go to work.

chant/prayer/mantra: help your friends, and that's everybody.

pax hominibus,

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Saturday, October 20, 2007



In my class on the life and teachings of Muhammad Raheem Bawa Muhaiyaddeen, many of the readings have a header of "786" which corresponds to one of the names of Allah.

I wanted to do a little research on it to get a bit more info and came across this scathing opinion piece by somebody who believes that assigning a number to represent God is an arrogant mistake since that diminishes the label to a number. The part that I find humorous then is that the author then goes on to say that the numerologists have their arithmetic wrong, and that the number should really be 787!

Me, I think that Allah's love is going to shine on anybody who cares enough to try and find out the number, and will even shine on those who don't believe there's a number. And I'm sure that part of the love experienced is what the individual practitioner gets back from the efforts of their own devotion. Those who disregard the presence of Allah/God (and I write this from a somewhat multithetically panentheistic place, so the names "God", Nature, Creation, or "their Divinity" would fit for me here as well) are more susceptible of falling into a state of "taking all this for granted" and not having gratitude. By one definition (that of being ungrateful), they are infidels. Then again, even if one does try to be a devoted follower and praise the Divinity, if they are taken to quarreling about the nature of said Divinity, they are in danger of pride and are already falling away from that state of gratitude and calm reception of God's grace.

For those who may be feeling a bit bent out of shape with the God/Divine/Etc language, that's OK too. Visit this nice little video, because the sun does indeed shine on all whether they want it or not, unless they go indoors, or in the basement, or a cave.

For those who have opinions or more knowledge on the nature of this 786 usage, please comment here.

"I am a vampire lamp when I'm stoned, it happens all the time.
I tap prismatic light just like wine from the Divine..."
-from Vamp Lamp

colors: prismatic

mood: limboized

chant/prayer/mantra: not much more to say, just looking for new ways to say it.

pax hominibus,


Sunday, October 7, 2007


Iron Jawed Angels, ERA, Girl Genius, BBWW

Hi All-

My sweetie and I just got done watching Iron Jawed Angels, starring Hilary Swank, Anjelica Huston, and Francis O'Connor. It's a movie about suffragettes during the 1910's who fought tooth and nail for women's rights, and how hard they had to struggle and the jail time they did, just to get the right to vote and to try to get an Equal Rights Amendment for women's equality (still waiting almost 90 years later for that to be ratified by enough states, BTW). See this movie-- it's stunning and inspiring.

Also, while I'm in the mood, here's Girl Genius comics, Big Beautiful Wonder Woman, and Wapsi Square.

lyrics: Something by Velvet Underground.

colors: Pink.

mood: Beat.

chant/prayer/mantra: Make mine Code Pink please.

pax hominibus,

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Saturday, October 6, 2007


The Shock Doctrine!

Hi Friends-

Watch this video (thanks to Andy for the link), to gain a better understanding of how and why the United States has evolved over the last 25 years into a fear-based society.

Its sad that the nation's "leaders" would use psychological abuse to get people to kowtow to them, but says boatloads about their collective character.

lyrics: some funky guitar by Beck off of Mutations.

colors: grainy old black and white

mood: outraged

chant/prayer/mantra: may the people of peace speak their piece always, whether invited or not.

pax hominibus,

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