Archive for October 2006

Capitalism and art

One of the books I’ve read recently for school has this to say: “. . . as American culture remains openly and pervasively religious, its devotion to the Gross National Product is clear; witness the relentless spread of consumer goods; the obsession with self-image, wealth, and comfort; and especially the use of things sacred – sexuality, beauty, and language – to promote sales.  Indeed, the blessings of an Infinite God and the infinitely expanding availability of nice things are considered proofs of one another in American culture.  The artist-as-prophet cannot help but prophesy.  But it does no good.  The astonishing ability of capitalism’s market strategies to defuse, aestheticize, and then enlist even the most critical extremes of avant-garde or prophetic critiques into the market’s ambitions has become clear by now.  Both the avant-garde and the prophet are passe.” I’ve hung out recently with college students of a socialist persuasion, which […]

My way of being active in local politics

This past weekend, Michelle and I got a knock on our front door. It was a casually dressed guy wearing a baseball cap. He introduced himself as our incumbent State Representative, and asked if we had any questions about the upcoming election, etc. He also made an off-hand remark about how he and his colleagues were filling our mailbox with advertisements each day during this time of year. He left us by encouraging us to e-mail him with any questions we might have, and he would respond within a day. He was successful in getting us to think about the amount of junk mail we receive every year during election season. Now, we faithfully recycle as much as we can, including these ads, but still, we think it creates tons and tons of waste. So, I took this kind gentleman up on his offer. Here’s what I just e-mailed him: […]


I sat in a coffee shop this past Friday morning, waiting for an appointment.  I had a few minutes to kill, so I pulled out a book I’m reading for school.  I literally could not get through a sentence because of the chaos going on in my head.  I don’t know how many times I directed my eyes back to the same sentence.  Every time I tried, a different distraction, a different item on my task list, a different situation that I need to deal with jumped to my attention.  For a couple minutes there, I couldn’t even focus on my distractions because I would get distracted by other distractions. I found myself just saying the words to myself, “I need a Sabbath.” I don’t need to bore myself or you, dear reader, with the particulars of what’s going on.  I only know a handful of people who wouldn’t describe […]

A weekend away, and a confession

On Friday I completed a 20 year process . . . mostly a trivial one, but hey, that’s the kind of guy I am.  The result?  I have now driven every mile of Interstate 5, from the US/Mexico border to the US/Canada border.  I went to Vancouver, B.C. for a college student conference, which was a lot of fun.  Vancouver’s a great city – super international and compelling.  It’s also a fabulous city for coffee, so you know I checked out that whole scene.  Twice I found myself enjoying Caffe Artigiano.  Mmmmmm.  Unfortunately, Michelle wasn’t able to join me for the trip, so I’ll have to bring her along some time soon. Speaking of Michelle, after I posted about my ambivalence regarding the whole (RED) campaign the other day, I got an e-mail from her (while I was in Vancouver).  Here’s a direct quote: Are you close to shopping?  You […]

What's in a name? How 'bout a URL?

Pretty funny – Universal Tube & Rollform Equipment Corp. has had their website overwhelmed and crashed by new visitors.  Why would millions of people be flocking to a manufacturing company’s site?  Well, since Google announced Monday that they’ve acquired YouTube, people have been trying to check it out – where? .  So close, and yet so far, eh?

Not so sure about this one

Wow, so Oprah and Bono have teamed up to promote consumerism shopping with a cause. [read more here] New clothing lines, and a special version of the iPod are going on sale to benefit HIV/AIDS work in Africa. While I admire the marketing savvy and desire to engage people where they are, pumping up consumerism in order to do has me feeling ambivalent. Kinda makes me want to pass along the notice I got yesterday from Adbusters about this yea’rs Buy Nothing Day – on November 23.

The strange energy of the truth

While I will say that this doesn’t happen nearly as often as would be healthy, I recently got my bell rung. Someone very close to me said a one or two sentence piece of truth – not something hugely profound or anything, but spot on and serious. My reaction to that (so far) has been several hours worth of depression and soul searching, eerily mixed with an energy and drive to do something about it. I can’t say where things will end up, but it’s just very interesting to me how the wound of a well-placed, well-delivered statement of truth can both devastate and empower at the same time.

Gotta love Seattle

O.k., so it’s pretty much a no-brainer that Seattle is a liberal city, one that cares about the environment.  No big shocker, then, that recycling is a big deal here.  The thing that’s funny to me, though, is that one of the most recycling oriented people I’ve met here is a homeless guy that comes around at the end of each week’s free lunch we do for the college students – we give him leftover food.  Like other homeless folks, this guy goes dumpster diving daily – but he actually does it in order to pull cardboard, paper, aluminum, and glass out of the garbage.  Good man.

Globalization and American Ignorance

As I read more about the economic, cultural, and religious aspects of globalization, I really struggle with the degree to which the western world in general, and the U.S. in particular seem to be perpetrating gross injustice on the rest of the world. Our “free democratic,” and especially our economic decisions as individuals are contributing to some horrible things. Growing up in school I remember learning about the World War II era, and the rise of Hitler in Germany. I was flabergasted to think that a whole nation of smart, enlightened people could be so sucked in to a perverse message that they would condone the extermination of millions within their own borders. Now I’m thinking that I’m one of those smart, enlightened people who has not just condoned, but participated in injustice. As a good consuming citizen of this country, I’ve worn my clothing, eaten my food, driven my […]