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.

Thursday, May 14, 2009


Fwd: Yahoo! Answers: Your answer has been chosen as the best answer

sweet!  voted up!  my prof for "religion and politics in the US" would be so proud...

Many Blessings,

It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society.
 - Krishnamurti

To knock a thing down, especially if it is cocked at an arrogant angle, is a deep delight of the blood.
 - George Santayana

The best way out is always through.
 - Robert Frost

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Yahoo! Answers <>
Date: 2009/5/13
Subject: Yahoo! Answers: Your answer has been chosen as the best answer

Take me to Yahoo! Answers. I want to answer more questions!

Hey, revjd909, look what you got!

Congratulations, you've got a best answer and 10 extra points!

Your answer to the following question really hit the spot and has been chosen as the best answer:

wat r 3 reasons as to why restrictions on individual rights be necessary in society ?

Go ahead, do your victory dance. Celebrate a little. Brag a little. Then come back and answer a few more questions!

Take me to Yahoo! Answers

Thanks for sharing what you know and making someone's day.

The Yahoo! Answers Team

Get the Yahoo! Toolbar for one-click access to Yahoo! Answers.

Please do not reply to this message. This is a service email related to your use of Yahoo! Answers. To learn more about Yahoo!\'s use of personal information, including the use of web beacons in HTML-based email, please read our Privacy Policy. Yahoo! Answers is located at 701 First Avenue, Sunnyvale, CA 94089.

Copyright © 2007 Yahoo! Inc. All rights reserved. Terms of Service.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009


Miss California

Wow, I can't even comment completely on this right now, but just..... wow.

"Many of the girls use chicken cutlets.", but Miss California had help from the Miss USA competition to pay for her breast implants, shortly before the competition. I wonder what Pamela Anderson would say about all this. The duct tape part I can kind of understand (as Ru Paul says, "Fashion hurts"), but the idea of actually killing chickens and putting the chicken meat onto our beauty contestants' chests? Or for the competition itself to actually help pay for breast implants? What kind of message does that send to our youths about the ideals of beauty in the United States?

And of course, there's the Playboy-esque topless photos taken of 17 year old Carrie Prejean before she was Miss California. How is being 17 an excuse for posing for near-pornographic images? According to our laws, it's dangerously close to being entirely over the line, certainly smudging it.

And of course the real reason we're upset with her (because in my opinion, it's her body and she should be allowed to do what she wants with it, especially as an adult) is because she had an opportunity to actually speak for justice for other peoples' bodies when Perez Hilton asked her that fateful question, and she blew it. She tried to stand up as a really moral person, according to antiquated and hurtful language she'd been taught, and now she makes California look even worse than it actually is.

Overall, her (and the Miss USA competition's) grades from me for setting a moral example:
Using duct tape: B
Using chicken cutlets to enhance "proportionality": D- (though I doubt they use real chicken meat when there are synthetic falsies available)
Her wanting breast implants: I (incomplete - there's a LOT of complicated societal baggage there)
The Miss USA competition helping pay for a participant's breast implants: F
Taking provocative pictures as a 17 year old minor: C-
Being such a visible and outspoken opponent of marriage equity: F

lyrics: "You've got a lotta nerve..."
from Positively 4th Street, by Bob Dylan

chant/prayer/mantra: Come round, Miss California. We want you in our camp.

pax hominibus,
agape to all,

Sunday, May 10, 2009


Socializing the Good Samaritan

Today, I rode my bike to church to get there early, and my sweetie came later in the car, just in time for the 11:30 service, then we drove out to eat for brunch and went home, leaving my bike locked up at the church. This afternoon, I installed the old Yakima bike rack on top of our new car finally, so I could go retrieve the bike. It probably would've been easier to just walk down there and ride back, but we needed to get the bike rack onto the car eventually. All the previous information is prologue to my main point.

When I got to the church, I saw a man across the street, looking rough, and after two hours wrestling with my bike rack when I should've been working on homework, I didn't feel in the mood to talk to him. But then as I was taking the front tire off my bike and getting my bike on top of the car, he approached me, speaking weakly, with a towel in one hand and a spray bottle and squeegie in the other, asking if he could wash my windshield for some money. I had actually gunked up part of the roof while installing the rack, so I gave him $2 and asked him for the towel and sprayer so I could do it. I don't need the "satisfaction" of watching somebody else clean it for me. Anyway, I asked him his name and what was going on. He said his name was Lester Ray, and that he was going around trying to do people's windshields to get $14, because he was in the hospital yesterday (he still had the plasticy bracelet) and was diagnosed with pneumonia. In order to get the meds, he had to put together a $14 copay, so today he was out walking around (with unmedicated pneumonia) trying to scare up that small sum of money. The two bucks I had given him was all the cash I had in my pocket and I gave him the 50 cents in change I had as well.

After I got into the car, I thought about the fact that I could've taken him to a cash machine and drawn out $20. But we're not exactly rich. Then again, if I had invited him into the car to ride down to the cash machine, he would've seen: a new car, a bike on top, an ipod shuffle attached to the radio, a new baby car seat, and several other things that indicate that we were an order or two of magnitude more well-to-do than him. In the short term, I would've felt better getting him that money anyway, but I didn't. In the long term, there is something more that needs to be done.

You judge a nation by how it treats its poor.

If somebody in need calls to neighbors for help and most of them pass him/her by, then the one who actually is charitable is the one that pays (financially and economically, though they may gain in other ways), and they bear that burden alone. I will call these charitable people the suckers, because they're bearing the burden of . All of the other people who turn the other way, or make sure to stay entirely outside of the neighborhood of those who call for help are trying not to pay and try avoid bearing as much as possible of the burden of helping their neighbor. I will call these Ayn Rand-devoted people shruggers, because they are indeed shrugging off the burden that the suckers consider as needing to be picked up, and would shrug at the cost of allowing any stranger with pneumonia die, because it's "not their problem."

When that burden is spread out across the economy -- when governments levy taxes and put it into programs that create a safety net for all -- it is because the suckers are finally being listened to, and are able to make the shruggers stop shrugging (or shirking). Then, instead of the 5% most charitable people needing to privately pay for 100% of the needs of the needy, we have 100% of the people each paying for 5% of the needs of the needy, whether they believe there is a need or not.

When there is a Katrina survivor in front of you with one missing eye and a mottled leg just let free from the hospital to "go home" to the streets, you better believe there is a need! When there's a man with a decimated personal infrastructure (homeless and/or jobless) needing to acquire a squeegie and a rag to scare up $14 to pay for pneumonia medicine, you better believe there is a need!

To those who argue that providing health care and an economic safety net is just offering hand-outs to lazy people, I have to ask -- HAVE YOU LOOKED AT THE STATE OF THE ECONOMY? There are lots of hard-working and honest people who could use this help. They lost their jobs because of decisions made by bankers and by business owners (mistakes on the part of those who control the means of production), and most of them desperately want to work, if not only for a sense of self-worth, also to put food on the table.

But there are a ton of volunteer jobs out there that need to be done, ranging from picking up litter to planting trees, to tutoring youth to use software, to working for social justice. If those people who were out of work right now could have: 1) Health care, and 2) Enough assistance to cover basic housing and food, they would be able to devote much of their time toward necessary unmonetized volunteer work, and some of their time toward finding a job that pays.

In the meantime, there are many in our communities who are financially devastated. That is not a position in which you can expect somebody to pull themselves up. It's like expecting somebody with a totalled car to get driving. But those of us with cars that do run, I say it's our moral obligation to give them a lift to town and at least get them a bike of their own.

And as a nation, it's our moral obligation to be economically strong and efficient, so that its easier for us to take better care of the poor, and in fact, to provide a better commonwealth of services for everyone. Part of that means having everybody employed. People running around working hard to find jobs (that's exhausting work!) are not doing much for the economy. But if they're actively working (even at volunteer work), they're helping us in real ways that might not be reflected in the GDP or other standard economical measures. But if we're all scrounging around for privatized jobs in a shrinking market, that's a death spiral. Our moral obligation is to NOT go there. Are the local, state, and federal governments up for that? Or is there a way that our churches can start to step in and provide welfare?

I'm hesitant to go there though, because then the churches that are the best at providing welfare end up being conglomerate suckers, and those churches that focus on serving their own interests and shrug will be conglomerate shruggers (and they may weather the financial storm better, but maybe not the spiritual storm). Then again, maybe the truth will out itself, and people will start leaving the prosperity gospel churches in droves as the masks come off. Then again, I'm only 40 years old, and still trying to figure out human nature in this kind of context. But I think we can dodge the question, just by applying brute force toward green jobs, public works, and other economy-spurring employment for people that will make sure that the physical, material labor that needs to happen actually does take place.

"So when you see your neighbor carryin' somethin',
Help him with his load,
And don't go mistaking Paradise
For that home across the road."
From The Ballad of Frankie Lee and Judas Priest, by Bob Dylan

chant/prayer/mantra: health to us all, especially lester ray.

pax hominibus,
agape to all,

Labels: , , , , , , ,

Saturday, May 9, 2009


Housing the Homeless on a Budget

I just came across this story about a developer in India who is building and selling condominium apartments for between $7800 and $13,400 each. That's not annual rent. That is the price it costs to purchase and own these units. Here's the simple floorplans, ranging in size from 283 to 465 square feet. This is the same guy who developed and marketed the $2000 car.

According to a study two years ago, there were 744,000 homeless people in the United States. The average price of one of these condominiums is $10,000.

Okay, let's do the math. But first, let's say that apartments like this actually cost a little more to build in the United States. Say it costs twice that, so it's $20,000 per condominium. And let's assume that the number of homeless in the U.S. has tripled with this economic recession/depression, so we have an estimate of roughly 2.5 million homeless now.
And let's assume that not every homeless person is single, and that these apartments are going to be suitable for two people each. That means we divide by two.

2,500,000 x 20,000 / 2 = ?

25 billion dollars!
For only 25 billion dollars, the United States could have addresses for every homeless person, and a place to lay their head down and call their own. Without home addresses, it's really difficult to get a job, because where will potential employers contact you? This would only help the economy. We spent 700 billion dollars (and much much more) to try and bail out the bankers (who by and large still have homes after screwing us, thank you very much). That is 28 times as much as it would cost to give all of our homeless people homes.

I've already done this math before. This is the second time I've specifically mentioned this here. My thinking this time agrees with my thinking then.

The United States is a sad, sad place if we can't do this. No, it's not that we can't do it. It's that those who control where resources go refuse (or do not have the will) to do it. Guilt and shame, to the highest order of magnitude, rides upon the heads of all those who have the capacity to make this happen but do not. HERE IS A CASE OF THE GOOD SAMARITAN WRIT LARGE, and being "good Sam" in this case doesn't even require these people to spend their own money to make it happen -- only to dedicate a portion of the budget from our commonwealth. Honor and true pride can swell within those who dedicate resources to making this happen, and see it through.

And I realize that I was here talking about the United States, because that is presently the primary domain of my jurisdiction, but this simple mathematics can be extended to everywhere on the planet. If there are 500 million people without homes across this planet, the math works out to 2.5 trillion dollars. A seemingly large sum, but not when you think about it over the long haul, and of the benefits it would provide.

"Feed the babies
Who don't have enough to eat
Shoe the children
With no shoes on their feet
House the people
Livin' in the street
Oh, oh, theres a solution."
From Fly Like an Eagle, by Steve Miller

colors: Brown, as in the new mud huts for everyone. BTW, I hope that these apartments are eco-friendly. For this to be a real solution, they should be as eco-friendly and sustainable as possible.

mood: Hopeful.

chant/prayer/mantra: A place for everybody.

pax hominibus,
agape to all,

PS- Here's an even more affordable housing design, perhaps preferable, and from a company with a true eco-friendly, people-friendly mission statement.

Labels: , , , , , , ,

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

free page hit counter