Wednesday, December 31, 2008

1 Israeli life = 100 Palestinian lives

That seems to be the current ratio in the latest flare up in Israel/Palestine.
4 Israelis have been killed by primitive Hamas rockets. Nearly 400 Palestinians have been killed so far by the Israeli response. Only when the Palestinians give up trying to solve their problems through violence and instead embrace non-violent resistance will Israel be shamed into changing their treatment of the Palestinians. It worked for Gandhi against the British. It worked for Martin Luther King and the civil rights movement in America. We need to pray for a leader like that to rise up amongst the Palestinians.

Quote of the Day

"Americans are largely unaware that they are surfing the crest of this global military spending tsunami in pursuit of imperial dominance. Most are still under the illusion that the United States is the leading nation in the world for generosity, showering other nations with unmatched aid. Even in terms of brute numbers, though, this is not the case: Japan gives more.

The 2006 budget showed that US military expenditures were twenty-one times larger than diplomacy and foreign aid combined, and that the United States was dead last among the most developed nations in foreign aid as a percentage of gross domestic product. One wonders what would happen if good-hearted Americans realized that a mere 10 percent of the US military budget, if reinvested in foreign aid and development, could care for the basic needs of the entire world's poor. Or if they realized that one-half of 1 percent of the US military budget would cut hunger in Africa in half by 2015. Would there be marches in the streets calling for budgetary reform?

Many Americans may also believe that this rush toward imperial militarization reflects a needed response to 9/11. But actually, it reflects a rather long-standing foreign policy. For example, many will recall the "shock and awe" compaign that launched the second Iraq war in 2003. The term shock and awe (which suggests an almost reverent and worshipful attitude toward crushing miliary attack) was not new at all; its roots can be traced back to 1996 during the Clinton administration, when the Pentagon's National Defense University released a report called "Shock and Awe: Achieving Rapid Dominance." Notice the report's reverential use of capital letters:

One recalls from old photographs and movie or television screens, the comatose and glazed expressions of survivors of the great bombardments of World War I and the attendant horrors and death of trench warfare. These images and expressions of shock transcend race, culture and history. Indeed, TV coverage of Desert Storm vividly portrayed Iraqi soldiers registering these effects of battlefield Shock and Awe.

In our excursion, we seek to determine whether and how Shock and Awe can become sufficiently intimidating and compelling factors to force or otherwise convice an adversary to accept our will in the Clausewitzian sense, such that the strategic aims and military objective of the campaign will achieve a political end.

The similarity between the words "shock and awe" and "terror" should cause every reader some pause: when these 1996 words were put into play as part of the "war on terror" in Iraq in 2003, the US Department of Defense made clear its intent to fight the terror of terrorism with the terror of "Shock and Awe."

Perhaps we could say, then, that the war on terror had identified itself as a war of terror--or a war of competing terrors: organized and wealthy US terror against random and improvised jihadist terror. Such a war seems suicidal for all parties concerned, and for those caught in the crossfire as well."

-Brian McLaren, Everything Must Change

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Favorite bands of 2008

It's time for those end-of-year lists. These are my favorite musical artists/bands that I came across in 2008. See if you can spot a trend in my tastes...

#1: The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain

Top-notch musicianship coupled with dry British humor.

Life on Mars:

Theme from Shaft:

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly:


#2: Bosko & Honey

A delightful couple from Australia who regularly post videos on Youtube. They just completed a worldwide "Ukulele Safari", which you can watch in episode form on their website.


Theme from Midnight Cowboy:

#3: Paula Fuga

Some folks are calling Paula Fuga the next Israel Kamakawiwo'ole in terms of her potential for bringing Hawaiian-influenced music to the mainstream.

Honorable mention:
Gus & Fin's stirring rendition of the Ramone's Blitzkrieg Bop

Sunday, December 28, 2008


Ah, vacation... I've taken last week and this coming week off from work. So far I've done very little, which has been nice. The snowstorms in Seattle hampered local travel. I have a stack of books to read but haven't found the motivation to pick one up. Blogging has been the farthest thing from my mind. Mostly, I've just been sitting around the house, enjoying the presence of my family, and playing the ukulele. Ahhh...

But it's a new week today and I'm beginning to feel motivated again. Off to church this morning. Back to the gym this afternoon. Whittle down that stack of books. Clean the house. Take some day trips. Get some blogging in. And keep working on that ukulele.

Friday, December 19, 2008

After the Forgetting, I Love You

My schedule of late, and the amount of travel I've been doing, have made it difficult to blog. Mostly all I've been able to do is post interesting things that I've come across, such as YouTube videos. I'm taking a nice long Christmas vacation and will, hopefully, have more time to blog my own thoughts.

In the meantime, I heard this program on NPR yesterday while driving in Los Angeles. I was moved to tears by the love and acceptance exemplified by the three people that are profiled. It is an episode of a radio program called Hearing Voices. The particular episode is called After the Forgetting, I Love You.

You can listen to it here.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

"I ain't gonna study war no more."

On April 30, 1967, Martin Luther King delivered a sermon entitled "Why I Am Opposed to the War in Vietnam". If you substitute certain words (Iraq for Vietnam, Al Qaeda for Communists, etc.), you can't help but marvel at the timelessness and prescience of King's words. Take 20 minutes and listen...

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Someone has a "dark" sense of humor!

Monday, December 01, 2008

Don't Obey

I came across these great lyrics by bluesman Scott Ainslie:

Don't Obey

As it was in Hitler's army and Stalin's awful crew,
Hiroshima, Nagasaki, and Pearl Harbor, too;
Across the sweep of history--There's a truth they never tell:
There's more horror in obedience than there'd be if we'd rebel.

So, when they speak to you of glory, and colors bright and true;
And using words like 'good & evil' say it all comes down to you;
When they offer you a weapon and send you out into the fray,
Don't Obey. Don't Obey.
Don't Obey.

From Selma to Sharpeville; Chicago to Bei Jing;
From Kent State to Tiananmen Square; We cry out; we bleed.
From Tolstoy to Gandhi; and Gandhi to King.
From Malcolm, and Mandela, and Biko to me.

So, when they speak to you of glory, and colors bright and true;
And using words like 'good & evil' say it all comes down to you;
When they offer you a weapon and send you out into the fray,
Don't Obey. Don't Obey.
Don't Obey.

Aren't those your loved ones--huddled against the wall?
Can you hear the windows shatter? Feel the building start to fall?
Something's gone wrong with us all-------.
There's shooting in the alley, footsteps in the hall.

If every sin were tallied, if every mother knew
Just exactly what they're asking; exactly what you do;
How long do you think they'd stand there, with their hands by their sides?
Even all wrapped up in bunting--A lie is still a lie.

So, when they speak to you of glory, and colors bright and true;
And using words like 'good & evil' say it all comes down to you;
When they offer you a weapon and send you out into the fray,
Don't Obey. Don't Obey.
Don't Obey.

©2003, Scott Ainslie
All Rights Reserved
You can listen to the song, download it for free and get more info at:
There is also a great set of study notes based on the song, which you can read at: