Friday, November 26, 2010

Hendrix's Star-Spangled Banner

It's been over 40 years since Jimi Hendrix played the National Anthem at Woodstock, but people still talk about what he was trying to communicate with it. Here is a really interesting program from Studio 360 about Hendrix's Star-Spangled Banner.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

My Core Values

"Our deepest calling is to grow into our own authentic self-hood, whether or not it conforms to some image of who we ought to be. As we do so, we will not only find the joy that every human being seeks--we will also find our path of authentic service in the world." — Parker J. Palmer (Quaker teacher & author)

"Know thyself." - Socrates

Anyone who has had children can tell you that each one had a unique and identifiable personality from the moment they were born. There are personality traits and tendencies I saw in my son from earliest childhood that still are an essential part of him. Likewise, each of us is born with a unique set of innate abilities, "leanings" and spiritual gifts. All of these things combined help define who each of us is as a unique person. In the course of growing up, we often try to become something (or someone) other than who we really are--to the point that we can lose touch with our true self. This can lead to dissatisfaction, depression and despair.

In recent years, I've been doing a lot of thinking, praying, pondering, listening, journaling, soul searching, and interacting with wise & discerning friends, and have developed a pretty clear understanding of what my gifts and abilities are (and aren't). I have a pretty good understanding of who I am and of what brings me life and joy vs. what drains me and of what God-given gifts I have to offer to the church and the world. As part of this discovery process, I have also come to identify five "core values" that seem to have been a part of me from as far back as I can remember and that have tended to influence my thoughts and actions throughout my life. Each of these five "core values" carries with them a multitude of ramifications.

My five "core values" are:

1. God is love.
2. Each individual person is important.
3. Injustice should be confronted.
4. Knowledge is empowerment.
5. Conformity is dangerous.

The effect of these values is that I tend to see each day as a gift from God and don't believe anyone is beyond the reach of God's love and God's redemptive/restorative intentions; I find hierarchies, "in-groups", personality cults, celebrity or anything that elevates one person over others to be repugnant; I'm sensitive to injustice and have a hard time ignoring it and will sometimes make a big deal out of an injustice that others seem to be able to ignore; I love to research, learn, seek, explore, get to the bottom of things; I also love to teach and when I teach I like to present multiple points of view on a topic so my students can be fully informed and make up their own minds; throughout my entire life I have been labeled as "rebellious" because I question the status quo, the legitimacy of authority and the assumptions which underlie rules & conventions.

It's no wonder I became a Quaker.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

A great message from Pixar Studios

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Is this what we've come to?

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Hooray for New Jersey!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

The TSA, AIT's and "enhanced pat-downs"

To be irradiated or to be groped--that is the question.

The TSA has now installed Advanced Imaging Technology (AIT) scanners in most major U.S. airports, including SeaTac here in Seattle. AIT scanners bombard a person with a high-speed ionizing X-ray beam or electromagnetic waves (depending on the device) that can produce a remarkably detailed image of what lies just beneath a person's clothing; i.e., their naked body. These images, according to the TSA, are not kept after being viewed but are deleted (although it is a TSA requirement that the AIT scanners have the capability to store and transmit images).

In addition to AIT scanners, the TSA has also implemented what they euphamistically call "enhanced pat-downs". This procedure entails a TSA agent running their hands along a person's body, including the breast, inner thigh and groin area. Generally, if staffing permits, a traveler with be frisked by a TSA agent of the same gender (some scroundrels have asked if they can request an "enhanced pat-down" by an agent of the opposite gender).

The "enhanced pat-down" is to be applied under various circumstances:
* If some form of anomoly appears in the AIT scan.
* If a traveler is wearing baggy clothing (I like to wear loose clothing when I fly and , as a result, have been subjected to the "enhanced pat-down").
* If a traveler refuses to submit to the AIT scan.

There's the rub (as Shakespeare would say): You do have the right to refuse the AIT scan, but if you do, you will be subjected to the "enhanced pat-down". There have been numerous stories circulating about TSA agents attempting to embarrass, intimidate or manhandle travelers who refused the AIT--including shouting "OPT-OUT!!!" while pointing at the refusenik, berating the person for holding up the line, and applying the "enhanced pat-down" in a rough and punitive manner.

The AIT scans and the "enhanced pat-downs" will be used on children, as well as adults (which brings up many troubling scenarios: "Johnny, I know Mom and I told you to never let a stranger touch your private places, but this is an exception." or "How can it be legal for TSA agents to view images of naked children on their computers when people usually get put in prison for that sort of thing?").

I am required to fly fairly often for my job. At this point, I intend to refuse the AIT. I have two primary reasons:

1. Although the TSA assures us that the AIT devices are completely safe, I don't trust them. Apparently, neither do pilots. The unions for the major U.S. airlines have advised their pilots to refuse the AIT and go for the pat-down instead, citing health concerns (many pilots, as a result, are outraged at being subjected continuously to the "enhanced pat-down"). Many medical experts have expressed concern about the long-term health effects of the scanning technology. Here are two recent articles from the Chicago Examiner about this:

2. I have this funny thing about not giving away my rights as a U.S. citizen. Specifically, in this case, the rights afforded me by the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which states, in part:
"The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated..."

According to the TSA, when you purchase an airline ticket and subsequently step into the security screening area, you have voluntarily waived your Fourth Amendment rights. It doesn't feel very voluntary to me.

I have written letters to my Congressperson and both my State Senators expressing my concerns and asking them to put a stop to both AIT scanning and "enhanced pat-downs". The TSA does an important job, but they have crossed the line on this one. I have also written a letter to the CEO of Alaska Airlines explaining that although I am a Gold MVP (woohoo!) I will now be making a concerted effort to fly less, due to the new TSA measures. If many travelers do likewise, it is bound to have an adverse economic effect on the airlines and perhaps they will then apply some pressure to the TSA.

In the meantime, I'm scheduled to fly to New Orleans in a couple of weeks. So, if you're at SeaTac in the near future and you hear TSA agents shouting "OPT-OUT!!! OPT-OUT!!!", it might be me.

(More info:

Saturday, November 13, 2010


Did you know... You are more likely to be killed by a cow than by a shark? (An average of 22 people per year are killed by cows.)

Did you know... You are more likely to be killed by fireworks than by terrorists? (And you are 10 times more likely to be killed by a fire you accidently set in your own home than by terrorists.)

Did you know... About 700 people die each year by falling from high places, but 900 people die each year by falling out of their chair or their bed or by tripping over furniture?

Did you know... You are more likely to be killed while riding a bicycle than while flying in an airplane?

Did you know... That oftentimes we fear the things we fear because we have been manipulated to fear them? Fear is a powerful tool that is often used by the media, politicians, governments, corporations and religious organizations to control the masses.

Did you know... That the Bible tells us over and over to not be afraid?

“Then Jesus said to his disciples: ‘Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. Life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?’” (Luke 12:22-26)

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7)

"For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind." (2 Timothy 1:7)

Thursday, November 11, 2010


Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Election day.

I think it was Otto von Bismarck who compared politics to making sausage: Both processes can be pretty disgusting to watch. Still, as ugly as our democratic process is, I prefer it to most of the alternatives.