Friday, October 31, 2008

Civic Duty

It's a strange thing, this American democracy we have. A federal constitutional republic, perhaps the most diverse (in any sense) in the world, full of millions of interesting people, still young, but trying its best.

I really do like it. And so I vote.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Interfaith Coalitions and Revolution

I was sitting there in my "Introduction to the Middle East and Islamic Politics" course today, listening to Dr. Hashemi lecture about the relationship between authoritarian states and their effect on political expression. He did this through a case study of Iran, explaining the ways in which politicized Islam grew to be a legitimate outlet for Iranians because there was no other outlet. This is what happens when a government squeezes its own civil society.

As he was speaking, I zoned out, and found myself wondering (because I've never checked it out) where the other religious groups stood in those months leading up to the 1979 Islamic Revolution. Despite Tehran's vociferous condemnations of Israel, Iran still boasts a population of 25,000-ish Jews (they've been there a very, very long time). At the time of the Revolution, there could have been as many as 80,000. There are of course Christians of various shades and Zoroastrians and probably bunches of others. I'm going to do some research and see if I can find out how involved, if at all, these groups were before, during, and after the Revolution. And of course find out if they are involved today.

It's worth noting that interfaith coalitions are really a value-added way to promote revolution/social change. Martin Luther King walked with Abraham Joshua Heschel. Gandhi collaborated with Indian Muslims and the panoply of South Asian faiths. There were Christian/Muslim/Jewish coalitions working to end apartheid in South Africa.

In all these cases, and for our current hour, the power of people of faith cooperating to do good things is readily apparent, and cannot be underestimated.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Official Endorsement of Barack Obama

I would like to announce my official endorsement of Senator Barack Obama for President of the United States of America.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Religion and Politics - A Long Post

New post up at the DU Interfaith Student Alliance blog:

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

My Blood

So funny story - I'm cutting up this apple, right? Only a few minutes
ago. I put it all into a bowl to eat. So I'm sitting in front of the
comprooder eating it when I see that one of the apple pieces has this
gunk all over it. And I'm looking at this gunk and I'm like "That gunk
is my blood."

So I start looking at my hands, checking all my fingers cuz I'm
like "It's early, Tim. You might have cut into a finger without being
aware because you aren't yet awake." But I can't find any cuts and
there's no blood on the keyboard.

And then I realize that the apple slices are sitting on a bed of melting blueberries.

The blood was blueberry juice.

I bleed blueberry.

Monday, October 20, 2008

I've made the switch

Well, I knew it would happen. For a long time, I was an Opera user. I liked using my mouse gestures, my Speed Dial, and my beautiful tab management. Then, for about 20 minutes, I flirted with IE 8. Then it was on to Chrome, which I still love. Believe me, it is a wondrous platform. What it denies me, though, is the ability to do 8000 things at once within a single window.

Granted, my Chrome interface was deliciously simple - there was no title bar to speak of. But with FF3, I can get all I want and more. Goodbye, Chrome.

Espanol y Turkce

So my degree program here at the Korbel School involves proficiency in a foreign language. When I came out here, I just figured that it would be Turkish, since that's what I had spent the most time working on when I was at Aurora University. OK, now that was about 14 months ago and I still haven't perfected my Turkish. Is this a bad thing? Yes and no.

I've decided to switch over and take my proficiency exam in Spanish. I figure that even though for my purposes it is the less attractive option, it will have to suffice. You see, when I got out to Denver, I started working on Latin again made yet another stab at Greek. Midway through the last school year, I found some free Arabic classes on campus, and even got a little teeny tiny bit of Hebrew. Turkish got pushed aside. Oddly enough, I feel that my Spanish is better than usual, due in large part to interactions with Espanol-proficient folks. I'm linguistically greedy, I guess, and if it's useful to be functionally illiterate in six different languages, then bully for me!

I take notes in class with four different alphabets, but if I could pick one and stick with it, I think we'd all be a lot better off. As my old boss used to say, "Knowledge a mile across but an inch deep is dangerous."

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Blog Action Day

Each year, Blog Action Day brings together thousands of bloggers from across the globe to raise awareness of important issues facing our planet and our people. This year's theme is POVERTY. Today, bloggers everywhere are writing about how they see poverty, what they are doing about it, and what other people can do to help.

I would say that I've studied poverty, but that would be somewhat inaccurate. It's more like I've come up against poverty in nearly every research project that I've put my nose to here at the Korbel School. In my work on comparative democratization in particular, I've found that it is a matter of utmost importance.

Poverty retards development, increases political instability, reduces quality of life, and distributes misery and hopelessness. Its chronic nature undermines many honest efforts to improve the condition of those affected by it. But too often, poverty is portrayed as a faceless phenomenon; at its worst simply an economic concern, at its best an abstract human rights issue. I am especially excited with the work that The 1010 Project is doing in this field. (Disclaimer: I work with them.) Our work is not simply about eliminating poverty. At The 1010 Project, we work to show the very human side of poverty; to give a face to a global issue.

On days like this, when bloggers everywhere are addressing the importance of poverty, we should all be mindful in seeking ways in which we can also help break the cycle of poverty. Whether it is big or small actions, we can all do something. Thank you for joining me on this day. 



Sunday, October 12, 2008


Two households, both alike in dignity, 
In fair Verona, where we lay our scene, 
From ancient grudge break to new mutiny, 
Where civil blood makes civil hands unclean. 
From forth the fatal loins of these two foes 
A pair of star-cross'd lovers take their life; 
Whose misadventured piteous overthrows 
Do with their death bury their parents' strife. 
The fearful passage of their death-mark'd love, 
And the continuance of their parents' rage, 
Which, but their children's end, nought could remove, 
Is now the two hours' traffic of our stage; 
The which if you with patient ears attend, 
What here shall miss, our toil shall strive to mend.

I love this stuff.

Choosing "The American Dream"

The Interfaith Youth Core continues to do good work. I've posted at the Bridge-Builders NING site to this effect:

Quarter of a Tenth of a Millennium

So 25 years ago at 8:42 AM, just like it is now, I entered this world. Don't remember much about it, to tell the truth. I think I'm having a lot more fun now than I was back then. Of course, in 1983 I didn't even know what "crushing student loan debt" might be. But I have learned, and I have grown.

Alrighty then. Back to work. I've gotta figure out how John Locke's conception of Commonwealth meshes with that of Thomas Hobbes. Awesome.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Kleen Kanteen Adventure

UPDATE: After posting this, I followed through to Kleen Kanteen's website and actually looked around. Apparently they sell an insulated sleeve (with a handle) for $12. Even though I paid $14 for the bottle itself, I might be inclined to get this thing if it'll keep me from boiling my hand off.

As I mentioned in the previous post, I bought a Kleen Kanteen at REI today. I think I did this only because they were $14 for 27 oz. Oh well. I got a nice green one. Click the picture for the important info:


So when I got back to the hood, I was making me some mate for to drink. I guess I figured that my shiny new Kleen Kanteen would allow me to transport my hot magic drink to campus and work and such. To test my hypothesis, as the mate brewed I boiled a bunch of water and poured it into the Kleen Kanteen. I think I was expecting it to...I don't really know.

You know that feeling you get where you suddenly have NO IDEA what you're doing, and you know it's STUPID but you JUST CAN'T STOP? Yeah, well I filled my Kleen Kanteen with boiling-as-hell water. It took about .8 seconds for the single-wall stainless steel of the bottle to also reach 200-odd degrees. I shouted an expletive and dropped the bottle into the sink. OUCH.

Suffice it to say, the Kleen Kanteen ROCKS for cool drinks. It has a wide mouth so it can even fit ice cubes. But hot stuff...stay away.

Our Young Republic

In class this morning, I peered over at the computer screen of one of my adjacent colleagues. He was surfing a website called SAVEUR, and was looking at a recipe for rib-eye steaks with chimichurri sauce. The steaks, not so much, but I was surprised that the site wasn't familiar to me, given my Foodie proclivities.

After class, I rolled up to REI and got some cold-weather biking gloves, a front fender, and a Kleen Kanteen (refer to the above post for more info/horror). Oh, and there was some world-class thrifting to be had at the local Goodwill and ARC Thrift. I got some killer sweaters!

But as I was saying, upon my return home, I visited this and found a great many wondrous things. One of them was an article detailing the breakfast habits of many of our Washington elites. It was pretty neat to see what all of these people eat, but one of them in particular caught my eye, not so much for his meal, but for his thoughts:
John Nichols, political writer, The Nation: " Wherever I wake up on the campaign trail, I look for a local independent coffee shop. I prefer wood floors, regional newspapers, and conversations about the Constitution. (I've found that everyone in America has an amendment to propose.) In my hometown of Madison, Wisconsin, I start at Ancora Coffee Roasters, on King Street. I know some people get all excited about eggs and bacon, croissants and fresh fruit, but I'm not so inclined. I love my mocha, a chair near the window, and discussing an amendment that might yet perfect our young republic."
The italics are mine. "Our young republic," he says. This nation has 28 years to go before we reach the half-way point of the half-way point of a millennium of existence. We are still young, and there is still a lot of work to do.

Friday, October 10, 2008

The Law in One's Own Hands

UPDATE: I really should have titled this one "To Protect and Serve" or something like that. There are so many clever titles out there!


News today out of Chicago. Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart announced that his office will, for the foreseeable future, ignore eviction notices. Dart and his deputies have been knocking on the doors of people who are renting from people who have defaulted on their mortgages. 

These tenants have no idea what is going on, and Sheriff Dart thinks that evicting them for the dishonest practices of their landlords is, quite simply, unfair. 

This is a nice man. For the whole thing, follow this.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

How bad? Pretty bad...

So the DJIA fell approximately 45,000 points this morning, the S&P lost 322% of its volume, and the TED spread just hopped up about 800 basis points. What does this mean to the uninitiated in global economics?


I reiterate: Things are bad. Let's hope a bit that they don't get as bad as they reasonably ought to.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Nous, Naan, Nights

gliding past the bakery where,


we'd take sugared bites of Francophone treasures

after late nights sleeping soundly

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Broken Phone

Once again my Chocolate Phone has let me down. I was receiving a text message yesterday as I left the office and the thing froze up. I de-batteried it, then turned it back on, only to be greeted with a white screen and an occasionally flashing VERIZON sign. Uh oh. The next half hour is a blur, but I biked downtown and got it looked at. I parked on the 16th St. Mall, so my bike got "ticketed." Some kind soul had strapped a little sign to my vert bar that warned me about the possibility of getting a real ticket. How nice!

But anyway, it turns out that the phone eventually booted up all the way, so I could get my numbers. Sadly, I lost a great many stored text messages. I keep the best ones, so it was very sad to see them go. I suppose I still have them; my Chocolate phone is sitting in front of me right now taking up space. But we got everything transferred to a new slider (Venus) and now I am pleased. 

I would have gotten the 2nd generation Chocolate, but they don't make them anymore. The 3rd generation Chocolate is basically a Razr with a clickwheel on the outside. Yucko. Then I biked down to Vine St. and had a salad. Heyo.


I'm not so sure that I'm so sure what's actually going to happen with this whole "worldwide financial crisis" business. Just a while ago, we were talking about $200/barrel oil. Now commodities are slipping, credit is unavailable, our banks are being consumed by either the government or each other, and the average consumer, anywhere, is forced to sit and wait.

We're looking for objects of blame, be they the "greedy bank executives," George Bush, the Democratic Party, or irresponsible borrowers like you and me. 

Well, my guess is that we all bear a certain amount of responsibility for this mess. It's not over yet.

Friday, October 3, 2008

VP Debate


Thursday, October 2, 2008

Small Town America, Big Town America

I grew up in a small town. The owners of a local restaurant (the only one in town) were Kosovars from Kosovo. This was all I ever really knew about them. When they moved away, the restaurant was taken over by...another Kosovar family. It seemed to be a trend. The food still tasted the same. My friends and I knew that they were immigrants, and that they had accents, but it never occurred to us why they might have come to America, or even what religion they may have espoused.

Well as it turns out, they were Muslims, and odds are that they left their country because of horrific religious violence there; I never asked for fear of causing discomfort. I hadn't  really thought of this until I left home for school and encountered other Muslims who I knew explicitly as Muslims. It all made sense to me then. Some of the kids were my age, and in looking back on my time in school with them, their religion was of little concern to me. I suppose this is because my hometown is quite obviously Christian; having never known other faiths, I had just assumed that the family at the restaurant was like everybody else. 

But when I moved to the city, I became very aware of the multitude of different religions swirling around me. Chicago was very close, and when I had reasons to visit, I would notice yarmulkes and hijabs and bindis and crosses and all sorts of other religious paraphernalia. In cities, multifaith existence is a given, but in the country, this may not be so. What I do know is that people in cities, even if they are different faiths, work and live and pray and hang out together.

In the country, even if we're not aware of it, we do the exact same thing. 

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Economics and Expectations

New post up at The 1010 Project's social network: