Thursday, January 29, 2009
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
That was a member of Mesilla board of trustees, reportedly interrupting the mayor's presentation about restricting cell phone use by motorists in order to say GO NOT THERE! Don't you see, the local farmers and business owners NEED to conduct business on the telephone while driving around. It's a recession! No one can afford offices anymore! This is the sweet land of liberty, Mr. Mayor! Keep your laws off of our Motorolas!
It is a fascinating thing to see him tout Mesilla as a tourist destination while simultaneously insisting that people want to spend their time there talking on the telephone. And the argument that the lunch business would be crippled if they make drivers use a headset is pretty interesting, too. "You know, Charlie, I was thinking we could go over to El Comedor for lunch -- but now I can't send text messages while I drive there, so let's just hit the McDonalds on Lohman."
Los Angeles enacted its restrictions on cell phones in cars last July, and apparently tourism has not fallen off dramatically -- and people still eat lunch there. Even so, is the risk just too much for Old Mesilla to take?
A sad story, but here's the punchline. The electric company made an earnest public statement in response to the tragedy -- blaming the neighbors!
Sunday, January 25, 2009
Not an elegant design, I grant, but it communicates. This is a bodhisattva holding up the masks of comedy and tragedy. In the Buddhist religion, the bodhisattva represents to us a being compassionate awareness, resolved to remain in this world rather than escape into nirvana. She is often depicted with a thousand arms (or, as in this case, several pairs of arms) to remind us that the bodhisattva has many ways of functioning in the world, so as to help anyone. Each hand has an eye in it, as well. Among many other tools, the bodhisattva can use the arts of theatre.
Theatre education, as I teach it, need not be concerned with an interest in "show business." Theatre education for the young is an opportunity to role-play social skills, practice elementary language arts, broaden ones use of expressive arts, and as an adjunct to elementary physical education. For older students, theatre is a way of looking within, at the student's own persona, how they made it, and how it works. If we view persona as non-persona, it is possible to tell any story and play any part, because they are all you.
Here's the back of the shirt:
Friday, January 23, 2009
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
I wondered what the kindergarteners would get out of it, but they may remember the day later.
As the term of George W. Bush ended at 12 noon eastern time, I was sitting among fifth and fourth graders, listening to a piece of music I found less stirring than the end of the era itself. George W. Bush was no longer president, and Richard Cheney was no longer co-president. An administration accomplished only in incompetence and disdain for the law was finally out of office. What I felt about this was relief: please, just go.
There is an uncertain cease-fire in Gaza as Israel's soldiers have left the strip and Hamas is holding rallies. Victory rallies, of all things. The lunatics.
Monday, January 19, 2009
This year's contest is underway, as each state gets ready to select their representative for the national event. Deming had its city-wide competition on Saturday night, and your humble correspondent served as one of the judges. Three winners got cash, and the grand prize winner got cash as well as the trip to Santa Fe to compete for the state competition.
The judges made me the award presenter, which I was only too happy to do. I know these kids from the monthly open-mike night, and it was a treat to call their names and hear them applauded.
Sunday, January 18, 2009
And they sang the radical verses, too. Love them.
The new Attorney General, Eric Holder, concurred in his confirmation hearing that waterboarding is illegal torture. He strongly rejected the contrived "ticking bomb" scenario used to put a heroic face on torture. Unfortunately, he also revealed the rationale the Obama Administration will use to sweep war crimes under the rug: "We don't want to criminalize policy differences that might exist between [the Bush Administration and the Obama Administration]."
No. No. No. No. No.
Crimes. Violations of domestic law (i.e. our own), and international law. These are not "policy differences." Why is this man talking like George Bush's lawyer? Policy differences??
As Jonathan Turley says in the clip below: if our laws mean anything, we must apply them. Let the investigations be fair, and if crimes can be proven, hold the culprits accountable. The crimes that have been committed in our name are not "policy differences" -- they are a blow to the moral ground we stand on as a union. We need an orderly enquiry and, where appropriate, rigorous legal trials.
What kind of sick comfort are the Democrats seeking for themselves?
Like Turley says, if we just sweep it under the rug, these will not remain the crimes of George W. Bush and Richard Cheney. They will become our crimes. Perhaps they already are.
Friday, January 16, 2009
Saturday, January 10, 2009
Friday, January 09, 2009
After two representatives from the porno industry requested a federal bailout from Congress (why should the banks and the automobiles get all the billions?), MSNBC anchor Keith Olbermann and Village Voice columnist Michael Musto had a some fun with it. I enjoyed, perhaps you will, too.
I am so grateful for anyone who helps me laugh at current events.
On New Year’s Eve, I wrote you a letter with some thoughts about the middle-eastern conflict. Having read the resolution passed by the United States Senate yesterday, I must write once more. I do not know how you voted on this yourself, but it passed easily in the Senate and a similar resolution will surely pass the House, and thus Congress will endorse, uncritically, Israel’s military actions in Gaza.
Sir, it is of course true that Israel not only has a right, but an obligation to defend her people against terrorist attacks. It is not my intention to preach pacifism for Israel while others visit violence and terror on her. Yet I feel that uncritically supporting our friend in her own aggression, and profiting from the arms used in her war, puts the United States and Israel on precarious moral ground.
700 dead on one side in eleven days, and on the other only 10 or 11. This is not a war, this is a massacre. The stated mission is to eliminate Hamas, yet who is dying? These are innocent people who have been living under an occupation longer than my own lifetime, whose livelihoods and whose children suffer from a blockade, whose infrastructure has been targeted by bombs in the name of eliminating Hamas, who now are collectively massacred. This is not a war. Any war has civilian casualties, of course, but in Gaza civilians are the target.
Even as this fawning resolution was being drafted, the International Red Cross was trying to get medicine and food supplies in to the suffering innocents, and found themselves in harm’s way. Israel, which allowed them in and knew their coordinates, continued its barrage all the same, endangering humanitarian workers they knew were there. To call this irresponsible is an understatement. Now the Red Cross has pulled out its aid.
What we know about the situation there is bad enough. There is much we do not know, because Israel is not allowing journalists in, despite an order by her own Supreme Court.
Indeed, Israel has an obligation to defend herself against rocket attacks and other violence, and let no one question that. Does this mean, however, that we must approve any action Israel takes? Must we, as we did with this non-binding resolution, behave like cheerleaders at the scene of a lopsided massacre? Do we not understand that this is an escalation of a conflict which only exposes Israel’s people to more violence and terror? I am appalled not only by this resolution’s bloodlust but its historical stupidity.
Please assure me this did not have your vote. Thank you for your consideration.
Monday, January 05, 2009
And she called me out on my dorkiness. "I find it funny," she said, "That you added Thomas Paine's birthday to our calendar."
Yes, I did do that. I added Benjamin Franklin's, too. Other historical birthdays this month include FDR and Alexander Hamilton, but I didn't bother adding theirs.
Thomas Paine's birthday is on January 29 and during our holiday break I wrote an op-ed essay about Paine, his birthday, and the inauguration of our 44th President. It is going to appear in the Las Cruces Sun-News some time around his birthday -- they informed me of this today. When it appears, we'll link to it here, just to revel in my nerditude.
Another reason to celebrate today is what appears to be a very heartening Obama appointment, someone who has been an outspoken and blunt critic of excessive Presidential power and domestic surveillance, and will now work for the Office of Legal Counsel. Paine, who was on fire about tyranny invading our republic, would approve.
Sunday, January 04, 2009
Hot buttered rum? What concoction is this, and why drink such a thing?
In a mug, put in a little butter, a little sugar, and three teaspoons of rum. Pour boiling water on top, and stir in whatever combination of cinnamon, cloves, or nutmeg you like.
A little treat we are giving ourselves tonight.
Because vacation is over.
Because people keep remarking on how cold it is, yet it feels warm to me.
Because it might snow this week.
Because in America these days, the police might label you a terrorist because you think we should build bike lanes.
Or just because. Here's your mug.
Thursday, January 01, 2009
At 10:00 PM, I did Korean-style kido chanting in the zendo, something the sangha had never heard before. After completing the Kwan Seum Bosal chant we sat, walked outside with firecrackers blowing up around us, sat some more while a bell rang the traditional 108 times, and then there was a brief ceremony outdoors. On slips of paper we wrote things we might wish to jettison with 2008, and burned them in a fire that lit up Jizo's face on a makeshift altar set up for the night.
Finally, we lit candles and offered prayers or statements of intention for 2009. Paul verbalized something most of us had thought as fireworks blew up in the sky, resounding across the hillsides, that he wondered if this was similar to how the skies over Gaza sounded tonight.
Indoors, we enjoyed a champagne toast, and Paul had prepared a traditional Japanese noodle soup. We crammed ourselves into the tiny living room of his house and spent the first hour of the new year in lively conversation with laughter and appreciation of good company.