Thursday, November 29, 2007

Knee Jerk Response - Apparently We Can't All Just Get Along

It's rare that I comment on anything about which I don't otherwise have a well-formed opinion so you may well relish this moment of stupification.

I just read a story on MSNBC regarding Rodney King being shot last night in San Bernardino, CA. While I'm glad to hear that his injuries are non-life threatening, it does leave me dumbfounded as to how so many wild, injurous things can happen to one man, in one lifetime.

Of course, when you're standing on a street corner in the crime capitol that is San Bernardino (I, being a native of the Inland Empire can attest to the all-out the lack of safety going on in this city), you might want to be aware of the imminent danger you're most likely in. Especially if you happen to be Rodney King and danger seems to be stalking you at every turn.


Wednesday, November 28, 2007

40 Lashes

When the now infamous Danish newspaper cartoons ran lampooning the Prophet Muhammad, I was upset. While I wouldn't exactly call myself the most P.C. person ever, I feel strongly that it's never o.k. to mock something that someone believes is holy, even if you don't understand why they feel that way or even if you disagree with their belief entirely.

It's decency - not something that needs to be legislated or enforced - just something that, as human beings, we afford each other, like common courtesy. In an effort to achieve some semblance of peace in the world, we could at least try to have a shred of respect for our fellow man.

Having said this, however, I've been following the story of Gillian Gibbons, the Britsh teacher in Sudan who has been arrested and charged with inciting hatred, insulting religion and showing contempt for religious beliefs by allowing her class of 7-year-olds to name the class teddy bear Muhammad, a name that was voted upon by the majority of the students. No doubt, like me, Gillan's met a few Muhammads in her life and probably thought nothing of the children naming the stuffed animal a common Islamic name.

Apparently, this is not only not nothing, it's actually a crime punishable by whipping (40 lashes, to be exact), a fine and six months in prison. I guess Gillian must have been absent the day they taught that in cultural sensitivity training...

Needless to say, I'm positively baffled, and a bit disgusted, by the kind of religious extremism that deems this sort of punishment necessary for a pseudo-offense. This isn't about protecting the holiness of the Prophet Muhammad at all. It's about controlling people through fear and it is a gross perversion of a religion that is centered in peace, compassion and love of God (Allah).

If that gets me 40 lashes, then bring 'em on.


UPDATE: 12/3/07: Sudan Pardons U.K. Teacher in Teddy Bear Case

UPDATE 11/30/07: Gibbons sentenced to 15 days in prison; "gross overreaction" among the Sudanese ensues.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007


I'm not even going to comment on the absurdity of Bush, a war monger and Christian Zionist, making his half-assed attempt at Middle East peace talks (or rather, a series of 'peace' speeches) this week in Annapolis with Israeli, Palestinian and Hamas leaders, among others. I'm just going to say that the protesters aren't any more fooled by this dog-and-pony-show (and a show is ALL it is) than I am.

Judging from the photos coming out of Gaza and the like, I'd hardly call what has resulted from this little meeting of the minds "peace".

Monday, November 26, 2007

Mails from Mom

Today's Mail from Mom is a total fluff piece...pun intended...which I dedicate to my fur child, Merlyn the Cat, who's done this and worse in the pursuit of his raison d'etre: food.

Date: Sun, 25 Nov 2007 17:15:37
From: Mom
To: Jamee
Subject: For anyone who's ever had a cat

So true!



Knee Jerk Response - C-ya Trent Lott

I awoke this morning to the delightful news that Trent Lott will be resigning from the Senate. While there's nothing new I could possibly add to the long list of joyful reasons why it's good see him go, I'll just suffice it to say "Good riddance to bad rubbish...and just in time for Christmas!"

Yes, Virginia, there really is a Santa Claus...


Sunday, November 25, 2007

Blackwater: How Safe Can You Stand to Be?

It's the tail end of the long Thanksgiving weekend and I'm having great fun catching up on on all the t.v. shows I never have time to watch. Since so many of my faves have a political bent it was only a matter of time before I came across blogworthy fodder. And boy, did I ever.

Enter Jeremy Scahill, a journalist at The Nation who appeared a couple of weeks ago on "Real Time with Bill Maher" and his new book Blackwater: The Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army.

While most of us are appalled at the activities Blackwater has been engaged in during their tenure in Iraq, it's their activites in the U.S. which I find downright chilling. Not only was the company founded by Eric Prince, an Evangelical Christian supremacist, but they have, in essence, assembled a shadow military - both in Iraq and here in the U.S. - with better paid troops, better technology and better weaponry than our own military.

Not to sound too much like the conspiracy theorist I am but when you have a firm with as many troops as Blackwater, expanding as fast as Blackwater is (their headquarters is in North Carolina but they are set to open bases in Illinois and California) and with a sense of religious superiority that they use to justify their activities, including murder, you have a situation where the freedom and liberty of the populace of our country are in serious jeopardy.

And we wonder why those militia guys in Montana and Idaho hole up in cabins with arsenals. Maybe they know something we don't?


Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Giving Thanks

There have been a million reminders today about giving thanks and I've been so busy this morning that my chance to write anything about it before Thanksgiving is on top of us is fastly slipping away.

In stopping to think about all the things I'm thankful for (the real point of writing about it in the first place) it's surprising how many things come to mind. I, the cold realist who sees all the things that are wrong in the world and feels the overwhelming need to right every single one of them, can actually pick out things - lots of things - in my life and in the world that are so right.

From having three new baby nieces born this fall, to my brand new home with my amazing man, there's a lot to be grateful for this year personally. In our country I'm excited that we have an election coming up where a woman or a black man could become our next president. In our world, I see more openness and hunger for truth on an intellectual and spiritual level than I have ever seen before and it inspires me.

What progress we've made. In a world that seems so dim sometimes and more frustrating than I can even put into words, there are some very bright spots and they're worth remembering, acknowledging and and every day.

Here's hoping you have a moment this week to be reminded of the 'right' things in your world, too.


Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Knee Jerk Response - McClellan spills it

As much as I relish the idea of one of Bush's closest (former) aides fingering him (and Cheney and Rove and Libby...) in the Plame Scandal - of all juicy things - I still don't quite feel the satisfaction I imagined I would when such a magical event finally occurred.

Maybe it's because I wonder if Scott McClellan will have the, ahem, huevos, to properly crucify the Bush Camp as they so richly deserve. I wonder, too, if anyone will actually take legal action now that there's essentially a star witness. 'Cause I don't know about you but I'm just not going to be happy until I see Cheney's ass land directly in jail where it belongs.

I suppose we'll all know when the book is finally released in April.


Mails from Mom

Today's Mail from Mom actually started back on Friday night with a link Mom sent about the rise in the desertion rate among the active military.

Date: Fri, 16 Nov 2007 16:58:18 -0800
From: Mom
To: Jamee
CC: Subject: Yahoo! News Story - Army desertion rate highest since 1980

Mom has sent you a news article.

Personal message:> > > > Army desertion rate highest since 1980

It was an interesting article and I had heard a news story earlier in the day about it already. Things progressed, however...

Date: Sat, 17 Nov 2007 12:50:09 -0800
From: Mom
To: Jamee
RE: Yahoo! News Story - Army desertion rate highest since 1980

I was watching C-SPan this AM and heard that the suicide rate of returning vets who can't get proper care is astounding...some 5,000 so far...


This, as they say, is where it all changed. After hearing myriad stories over the weekend myself about the increased suicide rate in the military and then receiving an email from Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) this morning regarding the CBS Report on the subject, I decided it was time to comment.

This is a deeply concerning - in fact, incredibly distressing - issue to me, not just as a citizen but as a minister and as someone who has friends and family in the military. It is absolutely unconscionable to me that we have not made even paltry (let alone effective) efforts to help our veterans physically, psychologically and spiritually as they are engaged in and return home from this war.

Experiencing PTSD and profound despair few of us could possibly comprehend, they have turned to suicide for relief from their pain. My disgust for the shamefully inept VA is no secret but as people like Rep. Jim McDermott (D-WA), a psychologist during the Vietnam War, have been, for years now, warning and warning and warning us that just this sort of thing would happen I have to ask:

How many of our military will have to take their own lives before we start listening?


Monday, November 19, 2007

The Fabulous Ms. KG

Just had to blog a weensy bit about the fab Kathy Griffin show that Melissa, Chelan and I attended Saturday night at the Paramount. It was just as I expected - a total girlfriend-gossip fest and Kathy didn't skimp a bit - on the details or on the time she spent with her hoards of adoring fans. From her girls to her gays, there was something for everyone! We got two hours of the kind of high quality girltalk that truly soothes the soul.

What a diva! We love her! :)

P.S. I'm still kicking myself that I didn't buy one of her shirts. Is this the perfect holiday gift or what? :)


The Not-So-Friendly Skies

I'm writing a piece on customer service tonight for a client and I came across this timely article on the NPR website about the airline industry and its multitude of rightfully disgruntled passengers. On the eve of the biggest travel days of the year, this highlights just the sort of miserably non-customer-oriented "service" and sheer insanity/massive volume of travelers that led me to ditch air travel altogether at the holidays five years ago.

If you're flying this week, I feel for you already...


UPDATE: 11/20/07: Holiday Travel Gets Off to Rocky Start

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Seattle Havana Poster Show

This last Thursday night, Johann and I went to the send-off party for the Seattle-Havana Poster Show at Verite Coffee in Ballard. This was the follow-up event to the original exhibit at Bumbershoot this last Labor Day weekend in which Johann had a piece - the fine feathered pinata featured on this delightful handbill, in fact.

The party was a fundraiser to collect funds to ship the exhibition to Havana this Spring to be displayed in a local gallery there. The project itself was a labor of love forged by two local graphic designers, one of whom traveled to Cuba and worked with designers there to bring the beautiful work of a culture we are sadly all-too-divorced from to the U.S. Now we're returning the favor and sending the work of some of Seattle's most talented designers to Cuba for exhibition.

These guys have put together a fantastic body of work on a shoestring budget, bringing together artists who are otherwise so separated from eachother under the umbrella of shared talent, interest and cultural exchange. It was an exciting thing to see.

Of course, my ultimate motivation to be there was seeing Johann's piece in this show. I'll never grow tired of seeing his work displayed and hearing the well-deserved praise he receives for it. :)


Friday, November 16, 2007

Knee Jerk Response - Obama and the National Athem

Here's the first of many postings I'm confident will appear under this heading. Just as it suggests, this is my unfiltered, first-thing-in-the-morning (i.e.; when I'm not yet fully awake) responses to news stories that I, inevitably, have some issue with...

Obama: No hand on heart for National Anthem

First, I'm surprised to learn that I've been breaking this law myself since I was previously unaware that you're supposed to cover your heart with your right hand when you hear the National Anthem. It's a wonder I haven't been hauled out of more than one hockey game in the past several years for this "offense".

I'm very curious as to what Obama's motivation is for the uncovered heart. Mine is a very personal conscientious objection to a government that saw fit to conduct atom bomb testing in the 1950's in rural Nevada and Utah that killed (via cancer, radiation exposure, etc.) hundreds of people including my dad, and that it considered those people killed to be "expendible". Any government that views its citizens in this manner does not, in any way, deserve my allegiance.

Therefore, when I don't cover my heart during the National Anthem or I don't recite the Pledge of Allegiance (although I always stand for both) it's a very personal protest even if no one knows it but me. It's a deliberate decision based on principle.

Thus I wonder if Obama's behavior is also deliberate and if so, if there is some message in it. Perhaps he'll comment on it soon.


Thursday, November 15, 2007

Mails from Mom

My mom sends me a multitude of emails, many of which are articles she finds of interest with one-liner comments like, "Haven't I been saying this all along? Love, Mom".

I, of course, did not inherit the brevity gene from her and tend to write back these lengthy analyses of not only the story she sent me but any and all issues surrounding it. Case in point: today's Mail from Mom.

(By the way, Mom's a music teacher [in addition to being a Spanish teacher] which is probably a helpful insight.)

Date: Wed, 14 Nov 2007
From: Mom
To: Jamee
CC: Subject: Yahoo! News Story - Music lessons pay off in higher earnings: poll

Mom has sent you a news article. > (Email address has not been verified.)
Personal message:> > Duh! I could have told you this all along!

> > Music lessons pay off in higher earnings: poll - Yahoo! News> >

From: Jamee
To: Mom
RE: Yahoo! News Story - Music lessons pay off in higher earnings: poll
Date: Thu, 15 Nov 2007

Well, I'd definitely agree that learning music gives one a huge leg up intellectually. I really don't think there's any doubt about that. However, what they're completely leaving out of this data is the socio-economic factor.

Basically, if your parents had enough money to send you to music lessons then chances are you were expected to go to college, etc. just by virtue of your parents being in the middle/upper middle class/wealthy echelons of society. On occasion you get the kid from the projects who was exposed to music, went to college and became a successful adult but, factually speaking, those numbers are much lower.

On the whole, the kids who got the music lessons tended to be the ones who were going to have a better/easier shot at success in life from the get-go because their parents had a.) the interest and b.) the financial ability (I'm not saying parents from lower socio-economic classes don't have the interest because I'm confident they do. However, for this theory to work most effectively, both factors need to be in place) to create that kind of environment for them - a kind of success 'cocoon'. All those kids had to do was choose whether or not they wanted to put in the effort necessary to achieve success in said cocoon which was, when you consider the challenges the kid in the projects faces, essentially under ideal or near ideal circumstances.

Again, this is not to refute any evidence of how integral music and the arts are in the advancement of society. They're pivotal and it's no coincidence that as we see the demise (and the homogenization) of society upon us, we also see the steady decline in our value of the arts in any measurable way. The kids who are exposed to the arts and music these days, especially those who receive quality instruction, are fortunate and they will have an inarguable advantage in life over those who do not.


Firing the First Shot

At long last I’ve finally taken the plunge and decided to start a blog. I guess you’re supposed to have one of these things if you’re a writer these days but there are a lot of things I don’t have or do or that writers are supposed have and do so at least I should feel some sense of accomplishment that I can check this one off the list, eh?

Thus far, I lack any actual direction or focus for this blog. Considering I live one of those lives where I always have a focus or direction, this is rather luxurious. I think perhaps I’ll just unleash those thoughts/opinions that I have, all day long, that have thus far seemed too random (or silly or offensive…) to roll out in a myspace blog but still, somehow, seem noteworthy enough to explore. As they say, we shall see what occurs…

If nothing else, here’s to working a whole lot less and writing a whole lot more.