Wow. A big thanks to Joe who gave me the heads up on this life-changing band - Beirut, from the musical genius of Albuquerque's Zach Condon (full All Music Guide bio can be found here). Zach is a trumpeter, among other instruments, and composer. Apparently, he gained an appreciation for eastern European and gypsy music from earlier travels to the region. The music is bold, big, loud, and infectious. Gypsy-ish rhythms with big brass orchestrations blend to create an irresistible unique sound that everyone should hear. I was instantly hooked after Joe sent me an mp3 of their song "Postcards from Italy." Absolutely amazing. The media player on the left should allow you to preview the song.
Since the release of the LP in 2006, he has since released an EP, Lon Gisland, which is also worth listening to.
USA lost (badly) to Czech Republic in their first World Cup 2006 game.
Oh well. I'll listen to some Calexico to raise my spirits...
:: peder ::
MSN has now taken on Google Earth with thier MSN Virtual Earth.
Here's an aerial view of my K-4th grade school in Admire, KS. It's a booming metropolis, as you might tell.
Check it out. The interface is nice, since it features a web-client, rather then more software to download.
I've found this new trend (Google Earth, MSN Virtual Earth) very fascinating (and a real time suck).
Looks like the evacuation is underway in Texas. Hopefully, things will go smoother. Good move on Bush's part to fly to Texas today to check on preparations. More and more, I'm questioning his ability to lead this country in times of crisis.
I read this story this morning. The absurdity of being burned alive while sitting in a traffic jam, trying to evacuate from a threatened hurricaine which may not have even affected these people in a major way. We'll just have to see what this hurricaine does.
I do wonder if al Qaeda and the Taliban look at these hurricaines as God's punishments for America's foreign policy re: the Middle East. It wouldn't surprise me at all if there were people celebrating over the calamities these natural disasters have caused here in the U.S.
It's a wild wild world.
:: peder ::
BBC story here.
Who really cares? If they do, why?
:: Peder ::
On short notice, Holly was able to arrange for a teenager friend to watch Hannah so that we could attend a (rare) lecture by Mr. Paul Rusesabagina at Lewis & Clark College Flanagan Chapel. We arrived early, but there was already an enormous line of people waiting to be seated. Holly was able to squeeze us into a pair of seats that unexpectedly opened (I was parking the car - was she playing up her third trimester body habitus to some compassionate co-eds??).
Mr. Rusesabagina was welcomed to L&C by a standing ovation, to which he responded by introducing his wife Tatiana, who had accompanied him. When the applause melted away, he began recounting his personal, “behind-the-scenes” experience at the Mille Collines Hotel. I was surprised by how factual the movie actually was, although the film didn’t include his wife’s severe beating that fractured her back during a failed escape attempt.
He encouraged us to become publicly involved and active in helping with the current crisis in Sudan’s Darfur region. He said that, like how the West helped resolve South African apartheid, the West’s participation is desparately needed to help move the peace process forward. He urged us to write our congressional and executive leaders, to publicly demonstrate our concern and outrage, and support relief organizations financially. He wasn’t to condem the U.S. and the west for not being involved in Sudan yet but rather motivational instead.
In the Q&A session afterward, it was notable that several audience members kept pressing him to explain how living through that nightmare has changed his faith, his worldview, etc. For several questions, he was intentionally vague. Then, somewhat reluctantly, he explained he felt that God had always been present in Rwanda but that God had abandoned Rwanda in 1994. He elaborated further that he has lost hope in humanity in general (not necessarily individuals) and that he finds it very hard to trust people.
So, it was with heavy but enlivened hearts that Holly and I left the chapel. We enjoyed a long walk, through the beautiful campus, back to the car, earnestly talking, discussing, and chewing on what we had just heard all the while. What are we to do? We’ve agreed to start by writing our leaders (watch out David Wu!) and see where God leads us.
To learn more, or become involved, you can start by visiting these websites:
:: Peder ::
Last week, there spoke at our church (Imago Dei) a reverand from Sudan named Celestin Musekura. I, unfortunately, was speaking at a conference that weekend and missed his sermon (I highly urge you to download the sermon and listen to it: here). This man and his family lived in and through the Rwanda genocide in the early 1990s. He encouraged the church body to see the new movie Hotel Rwanda. He assured us that the movie was a painfully true representation of what happened there.
So, my close friend Josh “Social Activist” Butler suggested that we, the band, take a break from our weekly Monday practice and go watch the movie together. The women couldn’t attend, so it became a sort of “guys’ movie night”. Now I realize that none of us were prepared for what we would see and experience in this movie.
Don’t worry, I’m not going to give any spoilers in this post, but I can tell you that I came away from the movie utterly disgusted with myself and the western world. At a time when we’re at war in Iraq (over less than clear humanitarian reasons and more for political and economical motivations), this movie puts human suffering and genocide on the map.
After seeing this movie and processing it over a few pale ales at the Virginia Cafe with Josh and Anthony “mad MAX driver” Forrester, two strong gutteral responses welled up deep within me: shame and outrage. Shame for my past personal indifference to the Rwandan genocide. Shame for my current lack of involvement in the current Sudanese crisis. Outrage that my country and the world powers did so little to intervene and stop the massive killings (estimated to be around 800.000).Here is a quote from Clinton’s State Department on the issue in June 1994:
“That’s just not a question that I’m in a position to answer.”
“Well, is it true that you have specific guidance not to use the word ‘genocide’ in isolation, but always to preface it with these words ‘acts of’?”
I think the most outrageous aspect of international genocide and human rights violations, is how (apparently) little the Church (i.e., the global Christian church, not just Catholics or protestants, etc) is doing about them. Christ was the ultimate human rights crusader and advocate for the poor, helpless, sick, and downtrodden. The Church appears to me to have (willingly vs. unknowningly?) allowed itself to become marginalized and impotent in these matters. Josh had a great idea: what if we staged a 40 day public fast (say, in Portland’s Pioneer Courthouse Square) for solidarity and to speak of our outrage against the atrocities in Sudan? What if? Lent would be a perfect time to do it (but we’re already now 2 weeks into Lent). Hmm… This summer? Next year’s Lent?
These genocides are absolute travesties. What should I be doing about this? I’m not totally sure of that yet, but I will be thinking and praying about it. Here’s a good place to start too: Passion of the Present (Sudan).
:: peder ::
With a nod to the great Johnny Cash, I was inspired by his song to blog about the states I’ve seen while on road trips.
Thanks to my parents, who made a solid effort to take us on a LONG car-vacation every summer whilst growing up in the Midwest, and some long car-vacations Holly and I took during our early marriage, I can boast that I’ve either stepped foot on or driven through 94% of the United States. Yeah! flex The outliers are Alaska, Hawaii, and West Virginia. See the map below (the green states I haven’t visited).
During our first long car-vacation (to Glacier National Park, MT), Holly and I started a tradition where, upon entering a new state, we would stop the car, get out, and take a photo of one of us standing near the state “welcome” sign. I know, kinda dorky, but we’ve got some great cheesy shots of highway signs because of it. Isn’t it fun being a goofball?
create your own visited states map
or write about it on the open travel guide
Check this out. Amazing. I hate to rail against this again, so soon, but this is an affront to our privacy and self-determination. We are being inundated with advertisements by increasingly invasive and pervasive methods. Our eyes and attention are apparently worth a lot of money, otherwise the advertising industry wouldn’t be doing so well (and by corollary, companies wouldn’t be spending so much money for it if it didn’t have tangible (read: profitable) results).
As the article (see link in previous paragraph) noted, advertisers will not only be putting ads on airplane tray tables but also on the overhead storage bins. I suppose one might argue that by agreeing to this, the airline(s) will be able to increase their profit margins by doing next-to-nothing and that will translate into either lower seat fares or assurance of future airline solvency (both good things, of course). But, I’ll remain skeptical, at least on the former argument.
Is it just asthetics that we should be worried about? Well, to some degree, yes. Ads are often ugly distractions that rely on cliche or a cheap emotional plea to spur us to buy/action.
Perhaps it’s the simple problem of distraction. Ads are often witty, funny, or sexy, and these offer cheap quick “fixes.” At the same time, we’re left with less and less time to think, reflect, and plan our lives effectively. Each second that we spend looking at an ad (via any media), is a second away from doing life, reality. This is a critical issue. Ads have evolved to a point where they sell by entertaining us. Ads are in and of themselves, a diversion. Superbowl commercials are a prime example. They are talked about at the watercooler many weeks after the game. Companies pay exorbant dollars to place their entertaining ad during halftime.
Or, is it an issue with privacy? Shouldn’t our constitutional right to privacy be secured against advertisement invasion? Intellectual privacy is the battleground here. It’s not always possible to simpley avert our eyes and ignore something so prevalent and inescapable. We shouldn’t have to be bothered with this theivery of our sacred time and cognitive energy.
In the end, I suppose we just need to exercise discernment and limit the number and amount of advertisements we encounter/spend energy upon. Ads are a necessary evil. Due to ads and corporate sponsorship, many of the cultural opportunities, such as low art museum admission prices, cheap symphony and orchestral tickets, and music festivals (such as Merlefest in NC), are accessible to nearly everyone of all economic classes.
This all being said, let me tell you about a great internet jazz station called Dr. Horner’s Classic … ;)
I’m sick. I’m lonely. It’s dark and rainy here in Portland. I’ve got the diet of a college student. I’m surprised my gums haven’t started bleeding (scurvy) yet. Hehe. Holly and Hannah don’t return from Denver and Cabo San Lucus for another 8 days yet. I’ve not eaten so much junk food in one week since I was 18.
I’m sick of reading medical texts and journal articles, but I never feel like I’ve read enough. The fear of not knowing a medical fact that could help/hurt a patient drives me to read. The fear of board exams. The fear of that awkward silence and the eventual answer “I don’t know” given to my attending when asked a question. The fear of not knowing the answer when a student or lay-person asks. The fear of peers. Sure, successful physicians are so because they are “life-long learners.” Often, it seems that the desire to learn for the sake of learning dissipates, and all I’m left with are primitive survival tactics morphed into a culturally accepted (and expected) behavior.
Just for fun, when I’m not riding my bike to work but riding the bus, I’ve been reading (finally!!) some Anton Chekhov short stories. Chekhov (1860-1904) was a physician himself. One of the most poignant passages I’ve read thus far, is in “The House with the Mezzanine” in which the protagonist is debating with a woman (a social activist) over the human condition in (then) present day emancipated (Pre-Communist) Russia. He says,
“Their children as they grow up go the same way and hundreds of years slip by and millions of people live worse than animals- in constant dread of never having a crust to eat; but the horror of their position is that they have no time to think of their souls, no time to remember that they are made in the likeness of God; hunger, cold, animal fear, incessant work, like drifts of snow block all the ways to spiritual activity, to the very thing that distinguishes man from the animals, and is the only thing indeed that makes life worth living. You come to their assistance with hospitals and schools, but you do not free them from their fetters.”
American society, in particular, materialism and consumerism, run exactly opposite God’s ethic and the way we were “wired.” The “incessant work” our culture expects from us, and we succumb to if we’re not careful, keeps us from experiencing the rich, expansive, meditative, serving, and meaningful life that God wants for us. I think this Chekhovian dialogue is timeless and instructive for modernity and us “po-mo’s.”
Why is this issue so difficult for Americans? Because it takes a conscious effort to say “no” to bigger, better, more, newer in a country whose very economy rests on its citizens consuming. From the minute we’re born, we’re raised to become unwitting consumers, fueling the monster American economy with the means for tentacular influence upon all other world cultures. One way in which Holly and I have found to limit this influence upon us and our lives, is to not watch television or read pop magazines, which are, in large part, mediums for advertising to have its way with us and, ultimately, our souls.
Why the rant? I have dyspepsia from my imprudent food purchase tonight (see left). Ahem. Note that these two restaurants are owned by the same big conglomerate, Pepsico. The bitter truth is that this picture contains a representation of what I ate two nights in a row. Holly, please come home soon! My waist line is begging you! If things don’t change very soon, I’ll be a changed man when you return. ;)
Who caught coverage of the Aqaba (Jordan) summit today? I was able to listen to some commentary on NPR’s Talk of the Nation on the way to work this afternoon after clinic.
Disregarding Bush’s difficulty in pronouncing contiguity, the summit speeches contained some profound conciliatory comments and language. Sharon pledged to pull out of “unauthorized settlements” and Abbas declared an end to terrorist activities from the Palestinians. Bush seems to have finally become interested in playing a more central role in the Mid-East peace process.
It seems likely to me that this will be an extremely difficult and unpredictable process. The Israeli definition of an “unauthorized settlement” is assuredly different than the Palestinian, and Abbas will not be able to thwart all Palestinian acts of violence. Unfortunately, I do not see (that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist) any current signs of peaceful Palestinian civil disobedience. The Tax-Revolt of 1988 in Beit Sahour comes to mind. This act of Palestinian Christians (in one of the few West Bank towns left with a large percentage of Christians) serves as a model of how peaceful civil disobedience can be strongly effective in voicing outrage.
The Israeli-Palestinian peace process will be full of religious rhetoric. I am curious as to how much influence (good or bad) Palestinian Christians may have upon the process, if any.