Monday, February 20, 2012

Navajo greeting on Flickr

Navajo greeting on Flickr by JeremiahOsGo
Navajo greeting on Flickr, a photo by JeremiahOsGo on Flickr.
Have you seen the greetings in various languages when you sign in to Flickr? I typically only give it a quick glance and was surprised the other day to see this NAVAJO! I must say, I was quite taken aback to see a native North American language! And now, every time I log in, I check to see the greeting of the day. How very forward thinking of the programmers. Well done. Bravo, Flickr! Bravo!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Wonderful Electricity!

A Valentine's Day poem dedicated to Cathleen - my best friend, beloved wife and partner of 15+ years. Happy Valentine's Day, my basherte!

Electric. Electricity.
Never a simplicity.
Never in short supply.
Sometimes a bite,
sometimes a warm nose.
Just goes to show...
Fifteen years and still,
we make more!...
Wonderful Electricity!

And thanks to Dirty Vegas for their wonderful album cover art that captured my thoughts on this post!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Gun rights, NRA and the diametrically opposed

Or used to be, anyway...
Writer, photographer and and avid bird hunter Pat Wray wrote a wonderful piece in this morning's Gazette Times newspaper that really resonated with me, in part because I used to be a long-time dues paying member of the NRA but have struggled in recent years with their fear-mongering and heavy handedness. I'm a strong supporter of our Constitution and the 2nd Amendment right to bear arms...but also believe the pendulum has swung too far, perpetuated in large part by the NRA's fear mongering and extremism. And I've long had difficulties resolving my support of the two seemingly opposite viewpoints.
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So when Pat's column came out this morning, and I realized what he was writing about, I sat transfixed, absorbing every word of his story. And I felt like FINALLY!, finally someone else feels like I do, sitting in both sides of the fence, if you will, on a contentious issue. And I was relieved. Relieved that someone else was able to put to words, in the form of a succinct, poignant, thought-provoking "phone conversation" (whether it was real or otherwise is of no consequence), two seemingly diametrically opposed viewpoints. Well done Pat Wray. Well done. I, for one, think you'd be an excellent candidate for the NRA board. So without further ado, here's Pat's column, in it's entirety, as it appeared in today's (Feb. 2, 2012) Gazette Times Outdoors section:

Outdoors: A phone call from the NRA. by Pat Wray. (as it appeared in the Corvallis Gazette Times Outdoor section, February 2, 2012.)
“Hello, Mr. Wray. This is John from the National Rifle Association. How are you doing tonight?”
“Fine, thanks.”
“Mr. Wray, as a Life Member of the NRA I know you are concerned with our right to bear arms. Are you aware of Obama’s under-the-radar effort to destroy our 2nd Amendment rights?”
“You mean President Obama?” 
“Yes, sir.”
“Say it.”
“President Obama.”
“Good. Now for the remainder of this conversation every time you mention his name the word President will precede it. Is that clear?”
“Yes, sir.” 
“Good. Now, what were you complaining about?”
“Well, er, President Obama is conducting an under-the-radar attack on our right to bear arms.”
“What makes it under the radar?”
“His administration is not talking about it.”
“Then how do you know what he plans to do?”
“Well, Mr. Wray, you have to look no further than his appointees. Consider that Attorney General Eric Holder is on record as supporting the re-establishment of the Clinton ban on assault weapons.”
“Holder brought that up within of month of his appointment three years ago and quickly was shut down by the President. Haven’t heard a peep, since. What else you got?”
“Um, he appointed two of the most rabidly anti-gun Supreme Court justices in American history, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan. Given the advanced ages of several of the other judges, a second term may well give President Obama the chance to appoint three more justices.” 
“So, our liberal president appointed two liberal justices. What a surprise! You expected what, another Clarence Thomas? I guess we’ll have to hope that all of his appointees grow an independent streak and decide their cases according to our Constitution. Just like we always do. It’s hard for me to interpret Supreme Court nominees as an assault on my gun rights.”
“Mr. Wray, are you aware that this administration reversed long-standing American opposition and now supports an International Arms Trade Treaty that will ban or restrict our gun ownership in this country? O … er … President Obama knows he can’t get restrictive gun rules through the U.S. Congress so he’s going to come at us through the U.N.”
“You know, I’ve been seeing those emails and so I started doing some checking. It turns out that the U.N. treaty is aimed at restricting dealers who provide arms to insurgencies, rebellions and civil wars. There is specific wording in place, put there by the United States, to protect national sovereignty regarding firearms purchase and ownership.”
“Mr. Wray, our people have done extensive research into the administration’s goals and we know what President Obama is going to do.”
“Sure, you know because of what he said, except that all he’s ever said is that he supports the 2nd Amendment and has no plans to take anyone’s guns. You know because of what he has done, except that he’s made no move in any way to restrict gun ownership. In fact, he’s signed a law permitting guns in National Parks, signed another law allowing guns in checked baggage on Amtrak trains …”
“Those were just a diversion, Mr. Wray, a smokescreen to hide his true objectives.”
“So, even when President Obama does exactly what you guys want, signs laws that you had a hand in writing, you still don’t give him credit. Did all of you intern at Pravda, or what? Here’s what I think, John. I am worried about gun control. I’ve been in Great Britain and Australia and Canada and talked with the people there who’ve had their guns taken away. I know it can be done. I also know there are people here who want to do the same thing. That’s why I’m a life member of the NRA. But the way NRA people simplify and demonize and lie about things — the way you create crises where there are none is abhorrent to me. The NRA singlehandedly created the mass hysteria following President Obama’s election that resulted in ammunition and reloading supplies disappearing off the shelves for more than a year. You did that. And all you can say now is ‘This time he’s REALLY going after our guns! Trust us!’
“Sorry, John. Somehow the words NRA and trust don’t fit together very well for me.”
So what do you think about all of this? Do you have different, similar, or conflicting views on gun control and the right to bear arms?

And to end on a curiosity note, here are some cartoons, images, and pictures relating to these issues that I found particularly interesting. Enjoy!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Origins and the Moral Ethic

A few weeks back, I was listening to an incredibly fascinating episode of This American Life. It dealt with issues of technology and Apple, labor practices and social (in)justice. Mr. Daisey and the Apple Factory contains a remarkable monologue from actor, author, commentator, playwright, and general layabout Mike Daisey. I know what you're thinking - "Great! Just what I need...a boring monologue." It is, however, anything but boring. If you're even halfway interested - heck, in ANY way interested - in where your gadgets come from and under what conditions they are manufactured (and we all should be), I beseech you to listen to this hour-long episode. It will grab your attention and start you thinking about things that may make you uncomfortable. And that's OK. You can't help but think! Maybe you will even go out and get tickets to one of Mike's performances (I sure wish there were some in my area). You can even grab it as a podcast and listen to it on your uber-techy iPod or smart phone on your bike/bus/train ride or walk to work! It's well worth the listen. 

After you listen to it, let me know what you thought about it? Will you change your consumer buying practices? And if so, how? Will I change my practices? I sure like that new Android smartphone and have been lusting after the new iPad for some time...but I'm not sure I can pull the trigger. Would buying it used make any difference, from an ethical standpoint, that is? Does it matter that all these electronics, when they've worn out their newness and the latest gadget comes along, get recycled...but not in the way you think? Shouldn't we, as consumers, be more concerned about all of this? And change our purchasing habits? After all, would you want the waterway in front of your house to look like this one in Nigeria? I sure wouldn't. 
I have to go now...and ruminate on how I can change my buying practices whilst still keeping up with the Joneses and the latest and greatest gadgets (I'll probably have to come to the realization that it may not be possible). I'd love to hear your thoughts, too...