Friday, November 28, 2008

Christian Pacifism

I will be adding to this post. I don't know what to make of this, it does not seem to justify a pacifism, but it does provide perspective of an impossible hope... but still, how dangerous the line between the means and the ends. I only say confidently, I do no know the answer.
I will be adding to this post over the weekend:

Christian pacifism rests not on a naïve belief that if we would only lay down our arms, the other side would do the same. It does not deny that sin has distorted the world; it does not presume that the enemy will be moved by our gestures of peace. It does not suppose that we can always reach a peaceful solution through diplomatic channels. It doesn't deny that in the face of genocide peaceful diplomacy may only provide time for the aggressors to carry out their evil plan. Christians do not become pacifists because they believe it will "work" better. In fact, it will likely make the world more violent, because in some instances it is only the threat of violence that holds violence in check.
The only reason for a Christian to be a pacifist is that one truly believes that God has made peace with the world in Christ and that God
is making peace in the world through our faithful nonviolence. Only if God is actively guiding the world to its harmonious end can Christians risk imitating the nonviolence of Jesus. The point of renouncing violence, then, is not as a strategy for peace but as a witness to the world of the peace that is coming.
One of the books recommended by my professor and Melanie deals with the spiritual and pragmatic responsibilities of Christians in their social settings, particularly those of privilege. There is, of course, a lot of justification for violence across all classes; and it seems to follow that when pacifistic, or at least the nonviolent, argument ensues in scholastic (and by nature privileged) circles, it often comes from a young group of idealistic, educated men and women who never have, and probably never will, face a situation where violence seems a reasonable or even urgent as a course of action. We are just simply too well insulated to engage.
I want to be careful that I am finding my answers to the question of Christian action in the Word - NOT (exclusively) in extra Biblical sources, NOT in my limited & privileged experiences, and certainly NOT in pragmatism - however, these books examining Christian hospitality (the topic of my thesis) expound on the themes of violence across the OT & NT by virtue of addressing human and societal interaction and, in context to Scripture, provide an picture of the relationship between God to humanity and humanity to humanity.
What killed was not irreligion, but religion itself; not lawlessness, but precisely the Law; not anarchy, but the upholders of order. It was not the bestial but those considered best who crucified the one in whom divine Wisdom was visibly incarnate. And because he was not only innocent, but the very embodiment of true religion, true law, and true order, this victim exposed their sacrificial violence for what it was: not the defense of society, but an attack against God... His arraignment, trial, crucifixion, and death also stripped the scapegoating mechanism of its sacred aura and exposed it for what it was: legalized murder...
...The God whom Jesus reveals refrains from all forms of reprisal. God does not endorse holy wars or just wars. God does not sanction religions of violence. Only by being driven out by violence could God signal to humanity that the divine is nonviolent and is opposed to the kingdom of violence. As twentieth-century mystic Simone Weil put it, the false God changes suffering into violence, the true God changes violence into suffering. To be the true God's offspring requires the unconditional renunciation of violence. The reign of God means the elimination of every form of violence between individuals and nations. This is a realm and a possibility of which those imprisoned by their trust in violence cannot even conceive.
From "Breaking the Spiral of Violence" in The Powers That Be
This, like the previous quote is just some food for thought. The following chapter in book addresses some more solid answers.

Matt & I have often had a hypothetical discussion that begins like this, "What would you do if a person with a gun was trying to kick in the door of your neighbor's house?" The premise tries to set up the person being questioned to face the dilemma of resorting to violence to save their neighbor. It creates and equation that assumes that violent action against one saves another and asks, is this worth it? What does a Christian say to this? Are we having to choose which person is more deserving of life? Could we go so far as to even question the eternal state of the perpetrator with a gun and desire to extend the invitation to Christ to them? Is that still important in this very moment? Is it even our place to interfere? Does the potential victim have a specific place in the Kingdom that calls us to action? Do these Christian "obligations" (although they are not, they are choices) conflict?
The agony I allow myself to feel over this situation I can only hope might prepare to act in wisdom should I ever face it. But the only rest that I can find in any answer is that of martyrdom - but should that fail to stop the oppressor from pursuing his or her victim then I choose action NOW, in prayer and in light of and in spite of whatever outcome I could hypothetically foresee. Matt and I have resolved to call on God in such cases, call for intervention now and for the future. We call this "the third option" and it is the topic of Wink's next chapter.

Good Words

I have two awesome blogs waiting in the wings, but they have yet to be completed or adequately refined. So for now, some good words shared by Ashley from My Utmost for His Highest:


"By whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world." Galatians 6:14

If I brood on the Cross of Christ, I do not become a subjective pietist, interested in my own whiteness; I become dominantly concentrated on Jesus Christ's interests. Our Lord was not a recluse nor an ascetic, He did not cut Himself off from society, but He was inwardly disconnected all the time. He was not aloof, but He lived in an other world. He was so much in the ordinary world that the religious people of His day called Him a glutton and a wine-bibber. Our Lord never allowed anything to interfere with His consecration of spiritual energy.

The counterfeit of consecration is the conscious cutting off of things with the idea of storing spiritual power for use later on, but that is a hopeless mistake. The Spirit of God has spoiled the sin of a great many, yet there is no emancipation, no fullness in their lives. The kind of religious life we see abroad to-day is entirely different from the robust holiness of the life of Jesus Christ. "I pray not that Thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that Thou shouldest keep them from the evil." We are to be in the world but not of it; to be disconnected fundamentally, not externally.

We must never allow anything to interfere with the consecration of our spiritual energy. Consecration is our part, sanctification is God's part; and we have deliberately to determine to be interested only in that in which God is interested. The way to solve perplexing problems is to ask - Is this the kind of thing in which Jesus Christ is interested, or the kind of thing in which the spirit that is the antipodes of Jesus is interested?

Tuesday, November 25, 2008


Ugh... I've spent unnecessary hours in front of code, make-shifting HTML widgets and making aesthetic adjustments to my blog... why does Wordpress have to be so annoying? I can see the potential, but the lack of raw material, forced interface, and the obnoxious $15 a year for the ability to edit your CSS code is really getting frustrating!
And exciting... I see the future of my blog as operating soley under, but that future is after a senior sem class and sifficient tinkering with Wordpress.

Ugh... I'm so sad! I LOVE this blog layout! With some minor adjustments and sphere-shaped aquarium it would be PERFECT. I don't want to pick out a generic old given template... go take a look and tell me what you think of these.

Monday, November 24, 2008

The Rocketeer

And we thought this was cool:

It gets so much better!

Wow. It's not the nerd or geek in me whose heart flutters watching this video, but the same spirit of awe with which my young parents and grandparents probably watched space-flight unravel.
Granted this is probably a slightly smaller "step for mankind" than landing on the moon, but it is a terribly over looked accomplishment!
"This man isn't just falling in style" Micah noticed while we watched, mouths gaping- in seconds, he rises above the plane from whence he dove, climbing to heights above the Swiss Alps!
This is no ordinary fantasy Rocketeer...

Some people go fishing on their day off. Yves Rossy likes to jump out of a small plane with a pair of jet-powered wings on his back and loop the loop above the Swiss Alps.

The self-built contraption took the former fighter pilot five years to build and perfect - and yesterday he gave it its maiden flight.

Stepping out of an aircraft at 7,500ft, Rossy unfolded the 10ft rigid wings strapped to his back as he plummeted earthwards.

Scroll down for more...


To infinity and beyond: Yves Rossy soars through the skies

Enlarge the image
Yves Rossy

Dangerman: Yves Rossy had a pair of 8ft wings and a jet-pack strapped to his back for the daring flight over the Alps

Passing from freefall into a gentle glide, he triggered the four jet turbines and accelerated to 190mph above the mountaintops.

Steering with his body, Rossy dived, turned and soared again, flying what appeared to be effortless loops from one side of the Rhone valley to the other.

At times he climbed 2,600ft before diving again, leaving a trail of special-effects smoke in his wake.

Scroll down for more...

Yves Rossy

Goodbye: The former pilot was launched from a plane at 8,000ft

After one last wave to the watching crowd, Rossy dipped his wings as he prepared for the piece de resistance, a manoeuvre he hadn't tried before...He flipped onto his back and levelled out again, executing a perfect 360-degree roll that even a bird would find impossible.

"It's like a second skin," Rossy said later after landing on the shores of Lake Geneva.

"If I turn to the left, I fly left. If I nudge to the right, I go right."

With his first big test under his belt, Rossy, 48, is ready for bigger challenges: he plans to cross the English Channel later this year, before attempting to fly through the Grand Canyon.

To do this, he will have to fit more powerful jets to allow for greater manoeuvring.

The four Germanbuilt model aircraft engines he currently uses provide 200lb of thrust each, enough to enable the 110lb foldable carbon wings, and Rossy in his 120lb flying suit, to climb at 200ft a minute.

"Physically, it's absolutely no stress," Rossy said.

Scroll down to watch Rossy in action...

Yves Rossy

Super speeds: The dare-devil reached speeds of 160mph

Scenery: Yves Rossy said he had no time to enjoy the view or scenery

"It's like being on a motorbike. But I have to focus on relaxing, because if I show any tension, I start to swing around."

Should things go wrong there's always a yellow handle to jettison the wings and unfold a back-up parachute.

"I've had plenty of "whoops" moments," he said.

Rossy says his form of human flight will, for now, remain the preserve of very few.

The cost and effort involved are simply too high for it to be produced commercially, he says.

So far, Rossy and his sponsors have poured more than £123,000 and countless hours into building the device.

Scroll down for more...

Rossy attempts to land with his parachute after the demo flight

But, he believes similar jet-powered wings will one day be more widely available to experienced parachutists.

That is, if they don't mind missing out on the breathtaking panorama unfolding above the Swiss Alps.

"I am concentrating so hard, I don't really enjoy the view," Rossy said.

What was it that Buzz Lightyear said Toy Story?

Are you still using fossil fuels, or have you discovered crystallic fusion?

Saturday, November 22, 2008


I know I told a lot of people about this already... but if you haven't seen the Fosse redux watch this.
At LEAST the first 45 sec of both.
It's been a week and I'm still in awe.

The original choreographed to "Mexican Breakfast" (by Johnny Mandel?):

The redux played against "Walk It Out" (by Unk):

I mean, correct me if I am wrong, but am I looking at popping in the 60s here?
As Dave (my boss and husband of a Rockette), this just goes to show how ahead of his time Fosse was.
And I'm sorry! Only YouTube videos of the above were available. Vimeo is still catching up...)

From the choreographer's website
Born Robert Louis Fosse in Chicago on June 23, 1927, Bob Fosse was the son of a vaudevillian. He himself began performing in vaudeville as a child and by his early teens was on stage in a variety of burlesque shows. He began studying dance at a small neighborhood institution but soon moved on to the Frederick Weaver Ballet School, an academy where he was the only male enrolled.


As an artist, Fosse was known for his thoroughly modern style, a signature one could never mistake for anyone else's. Snapping fingers are omnipresent, so are rakishly tilted bowler hats. Both hip and shoulder rolls appear frequently, as do backward exits. Swiveling hips and strutting predominate, as do white-gloved, single-handed gestures. Fosse himself often called the en masse amalgamation of these moves the "amoeba", and that word as much as any describes his particular style, one at once fluid and angular.

Here is one more video with choreography by JaQuel Knight & Frank Gatson (one of them, I've read is actually the dancer who begins on the right) for Beyonce's "Single Ladies" with very similar dancing. In fact, it would seem some of it is straight ripped off the Mexican Breakfast choreography - but again, Fosse is credited with introducing much of the modern pop/hip-hop style.
Her song was also put to Fosse on YouTube, but "Walk It Out" is far better, for more eerily appropriate match.
[Just a little disclaimer: Beyonce is uh... really shakin' it, in heels and unitard. I'd say my blog is PG, but you might not consider this video to be! ;-)]

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Matt doesn't read my blog

So I'm gonna post his potential Christmas present right here because I found it and I think it's both funny and perfect. And I know he won't read this. But I know you'll think it's funny!
(Don't tip him off, though, just to prove me wrong)

If you have yet to become a fan of Dr.Horrible, please enjoy the videos from hulu or here.

If you have yest to become a fan of Matt Sheean, please go here and then go here.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Faith, Hope, and the Credit Crisis

As Matt and I enter the second year of our marriage in debt, I find myself freaking out often.
I was angry at myself for being unwise with our finances, but that's just it - I was unwise because I'm inexperienced, but thank God I now know what debt really is!
Mind you, I mean not to thank God for making unwise decisions, but I do thank God that we have not suffered much more than frustration and a submission to simpler life. And a simple life is not uncomfortable by any means. I was raised in life of privilege and I never had to worry about debt; however, I was also told to never ever get myself in debt, so being in this position had a lot of shame wrapped up in it.

This is a very simple article that spoke right to our position. I am writing this paper on hospitality and social action and so much of the Kingdom work we are called to do cannot happen without relinquishing fear. As I studied I found that so very much of the history of God's relationship with humankind throughout the New and Old Testaments is about provision... so much! Miracles are a very important form of God's provision! But more on that later. For now, a some good words from a pastor:

Paul Krugman, professor of economics at Princeton University and winner of the 2008 Nobel Prize in economics, offered a prescient assessment of the nation’s economic condition earlier this year. He noted that the U.S. economy is suffering from a “crisis of faith.” He meant by this a growing lack of trust in our economic institutions and the securities that have backed much of our debt.

At the center of this crisis is the use of, and problems surrounding, the extension of credit. It is worth noting that “credit” is a word that is a part of the language of faith. It comes from the Latin credere—to believe or to trust. The present active form of this word—credo, “I believe”—opens the Apostle’s Creed. In the case of credit, belief or trust is placed in the borrower and her or his willingness and ability to repay. Our current economic crisis is in part about misplaced trust or faith between debtors and lenders.

Neither the $700 billion bailout package, nor a Federal Reserve interest rate cut, nor presidential calls for calm seem to adequately speak to the underlying issues that precipitated this crisis of faith. This is a moment when the Bible and people of faith have both the timely word that can calm fears and the most accurate assessment of what fundamentally led to the current economic debacle.

The word of hope is found in the words spoken to people in adversity throughout the Bible. There are the words of the prophets spoken to the Israelites living in exile after losing everything. To them God spoke profound words of promise: “Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you” (Isaiah 41:10). The psalmists, too, during periods of adversity wrote, “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear” (Psalm 46:1-2).

Jesus seems to speak directly to our situation in the Sermon on the Mount when he says to first-century peasants, “Do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink …. But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matthew 6:25, 33).

And how timeless are those words written to Timothy—instructions for what he was to be preaching to the people of Ephesus: “Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God” (1 Timothy 6:17).

THE CREDIT CRISIS points to the inadequacy of any ultimate credo whose object is anything but God. God is our refuge and strength. And God’s sustaining power is not tied to the Dow.

It is crucial that we invite people to put their hope in God, and offer them the assurance that comes from faith in God. The Bible’s Chron­­­­­­ic­ler wrote Israel and Ju­dah’s history, both to offer hope for a future for the people whose nation had been destroyed and to point out Judah’s sins so that it might repent. In the same way the Christian must not only offer hope, but also an accurate assessment of the ultimate causes for this present crisis, issuing a call to repentance.

The underlying causes of the current economic crisis are not financial, but spiritual. At least five of the seven deadly sins came into play: gluttony, greed, sloth, envy, and ultimately pride all came before the fall. These led to absurd economic practices that bordered on the criminal. It was not simply the CEOs and Wall Street types who danced to this tune. It was every one of us whose 401(k)s prospered by their efforts. And ultimately none of this would be possible without all who abandoned wisdom and prudence and borrowed beyond their capacity to buy houses, cars, and whatever their hearts desired without the ability to repay.

As we face the consequences of the current economic downturn, and as we reflect upon the spiritual causes that led to the fall, we find comfort and truth in the words of Jesus: “One’s life does not consist in the abundance of possessions” (Luke 12:15). Thank God for that! And may the truth of these words guide us to a different future.

Adam Hamilton, senior pastor at the United Methodist Church of the Resurrection in Leawood, Kansas, is the author of Seeing Gray in a World of Black and White. A version of this commentary appeared on

The source of this article can be found on the Sojourner's website.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

What does this even mean?

I saw this diagram and I thought it was interesting.

The article was on hardwood flooring and its benefit to the environment... but I have no idea what this picture was supposed to represent.

The argument was that hardwood flooring is actually good for the environment - this is because old trees fall and rot and release carbon in the air. OH NO!! OUR OWN PLANET HAS TURNED ITSELF AGAINST US! I thought nature was GREEN!!!!!

So... what do you think this diagram means?

Monday, November 17, 2008

Shut up! You were ALL Trekkie's when Next Generation was airing!

I don't care how nerdy you think Star Trek is. This trailer is still worth wetting your pants over. Thank you JJ Abrams for gracing us geeks with your movie Midas touch!!
But if you made Kirk out to be a vigilante Wolverine in space, I will kill you.
Ah... science fiction fan-dom can be so unforgiving.

Click here to see the trailer in its full glory!

But after watching this trailer for the nth time this morning I have to vocalize a few of my minor critisms. Forgive me if I yield to the vernacular at the expense of lucid argument - this happens when you write on passions of nerdiness... especially nostalgic ones!

I say again, I hope this is the same Captain Kirk I know and love and, as I per the tweet to Thinkgeek contest, the main character of moral metaphors Dad raised his daughters on... I am concerned that they might inappropriately play up some kind of "bad boy" Kirk. But he's an honorable guy! If self-centered and over confident - I'm not a fan of the implied peeping-tom scene.
And come on!! The ONLY solo shot of Uhura is when she's taking her shirt off?! Way to be Star-Trek-progressive. She's the only chick on the crew and that's the screen time she gets in the trailer? What-eeeever. Lame.
But on the more positive side - who is excited about Spock? And Scotty for that matter!
I really shoudl get back to work and stop re-watching the trailer... so I'll just bullet point my final enthusiasms:
  • The Planet Vulcan
  • NCC1701in its construction stages
  • Excessive ship-to-ship combat + explosions
This is gonna be good.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Quotes and Sources from my paper

These are just some quotes I will be using through out my paper. Some food for thought on economics and hospitality for you. =D

THE CREDIT CRISIS points to the inadequacy of any ultimate credo whose object is anything but God. God is our refuge and strength. And God’s sustaining power is not tied to the Dow. - Adam Hamilton, Article from Sojourners "Faith, Hope & the Credit Crisis"

He black power base, political base, is not based on activism, is not supported by commerce, not supported by other Black millionaires, we don’t have that many Black millionaires. So what we have is this dynamic where this Black powerbase is based on the White powerbase. So when you have someone, like Jeff who comes along, who is not tight to the political structure, not tied to the dynasties, that kind of creates a problem for the Black political power base. Because they’re like, “uh oh, I like this guy, this guy is speaking to my issues, he’s exciting my people, but he’s not my bread and butter.” And it’s a shame, but that really is the dynamic that the Black powerbase is really dealing with. We didn't get our own so we have to depend on this other, artificial, but yet real base. - Sylvester Brown, from "Can Mr. Smith Still Get to Washington?"
“Capitalism is wrong because even if it succeeds in delivering the goods, it nevertheless works against Good, corrupting (and perpetuating the corruption of) human sociality in competitive and confliction modalities.” -Daniel Bell

"Justification of ungodly behavior comes from the sanctification of cultural wisdom." - Matt
“… I think the statistics about happiness and satisfaction indicate that, deeper down, we know we’ve been over liberated. There are communitarians and social conservatives and progressives for whose “community” has become a magic word, a mystic goal. But it is our economic lines, even more than our moral choices, that play the crucial role in wrecking or rebuilding our communities. We need to once again depend on those around us for something real. If we o, then the bonds that make for human satisfaction, as opposed to endless growth, will begin to reemerge.” McKibbon, Deep Economy
Concern with getting uor needs met keeps us bound to ourselves – our deceptions, our distortions, and our autonomy. - Newman, Untamed Hospitality
(I did not pick the best quote from this book, but it's one I thought that was good offhand.. I highly recommend read)
“It is the task of economic policy to grow the economy as rapidly, sustainable, and inclusive as possible.” Bill Clinton
"[When] money means grace – it means one has grace; it is an indication of one’s graced state. And [when] grace means money – it means one has money; the grace one has, one’s religious standing, is an indication of one’s economic status.” Kathryn Tanner, Economy of Grace
“You can’t ignore people when God is looking out their eyes at you.” Homan & Pratt, Radical Hospitality
"Sometimes intellectual conversations boil down to the capacity to quote the right authority at the right time." - Henri Nouwen, Reaching Out
“From the beginning to the end, the people of the Bible are people of hope. All of them saw the star of promise in the long night of this world, and glimpsed the first streaks of daybreak colours heralding God’s new day.” - Moltmonn, Jesus Christ for Today's World
"How often is your guest room occupied by a stranger? Isn’t it usually prepared for grandmother or aunt Sue or your college roommate? …
Who knows what rich experiences the next guest at your door may have to share with you. Think how your life has been broadened and enriched by the personalities of your friends. …" - Ahleen Heynen, "Given to Hospitality" published in The Banner
“Everything about me is recessive” – my dad to my grandmother

Tee hee

A bit of humor from

By the way, fellow Pasadenians, did you know that there is a great little farmer's market on Tuesday (ALL DAY Tuesday) at the park at Villa Parke? Here!

View Larger Map

We found it by accident one morning when taking our one year anniversary present Wilson basketball out for some court time at 7:30am! It was complete with a range of florists with exotic collections, several beat up pick-ups delivering vegetables and other organic goodies, and a guy playing classical guitar!

Awesome. You can see US there, too, on Tuesday mornings on the court.

New blog template again.

I don't like this one. It will probably change again in he next few days.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

America Recycles Day!

Please feel free to use any of the text or images below to post on your own blog and spread the word!
Check out the article I wrote and awesome images I designed!!


November 15th, 2008!

Click the flag to read more from the home site!

America Recycles Day Is Coming and ERP Needs Your Change!

November 15th of 2008 the National Recycling Coalition is encouraging us to participate and educate ourselves and our community on recycling!

(Did you know what in 2006, enough plastic bottles were thrown in the trash to pay for the repaving of California highways six-times over?!)

Eden Reforestation Projects also has an idea of how we can make the most of the change coming from recycling! And we’re not just talking about changing the planet, but the change you can get from your local recycling center for bottles and cans!
For most of us, a few dozen recycled sodas only add up to a couple bucks. But in the nurseries of Eden Reforestation Projects, $2 = 20 trees that are planted! $10 = 100 trees! And these aren’t trees just anywhere; the seedlings in the nursery go to the most environmentally injured areas of Ethiopia, Madagascar, Sudan, and Kenya.

As fellow Earthlings in charge of our planet, we’d like to encourage you to practice recycling! Set plastics aside for that special blue bin, consider recycled auto parts, start a compost pile, and, most of all:
Start collecting those precious nickels and dimes from your soda cans and bottles! We need your change!

Use your recycling to plant trees and save lives!

Click here to donate to ERP!

You're welcome to use these images on your own blog!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Friday, November 7, 2008

Paperback Dreams

Paperback Dreams is the story of two landmark independent bookstores and their struggle to survive. The film follows Andy Ross, owner of Cody’s Books, and Clark Kepler, owner of Kepler’s Books, over the course of two tumultuous years in the book business.

Paperback Dreams Trailer from abeckstead on Vimeo.

We saw this documentary Wednesday night at Vroman's on Colorado. The showing also included a panel of two other independent bookstore administrators: Book Soup and Skylight.

I'm not going to write too much, but I would like to highlight some of the most interesting themes that came up in the film and during the panel.

Books have suffered in a most interesting way as a result of our modern culture's lust for speed and information. Patrick, the web-presence of Vroman's, answered an audience question regarding the Kindle and what such technology possibly means for physical books and their retailers. What he said, I thought was slightly brilliant. He pointed out that the format for music has undergone probably 15 manifestations since its recording (the iPod being the most successful & the disks being a bad idea from the get-go), but books, he said, have yet to really evolve and probably never will. "I think books are a more perfect and durable technology." While the Kindle might be popular for the world traveller who doesn't want to bring a library for just the plane rides, there is a much more efficient way to access or transmit classical and popular knowledge that already exists. Even audio books comprise hardly a fragment of the market for any given topseller. As Matt put it, "basciallly, all the Kindle is, is cool. That's all it has going for it."

Not only was the night educational, I found a rather powerful metaphor for what my professor and the French call "savage capitalism." I'm sure this was not the intention, of course... but what the film and the panelists had to beg on behalf of the dying industry they represented was for loyalty and patience and a shift in values from their customers. As consumers, we want satisfaction, not opinions; we value more bang-for-our-buck which means abandoning the remotely inconvenient, anything that might consume our precious time (i.e. person to person interaction and physical browsing). But the argument suggest that we might be investing poorly. There is a creativity absent in that is only accessible in a tangible world, it only happens in conversation. One of the audience members pointed out the "curatorial value" independent bookstores offer with their staff picks, intimate familiarity with their selection, and unique customer services.

My favorite point of the night (next to the former owner of Cody's comparing Jeff Bezos to Stalin and Hitler) was when Emily, from Skylight, pointed out one of the most important elements to the success and existence of independent bookstores. She was telling us that we could order the books we wanted from her store on the Internet, but that she also understood the search engines on the website were awful (all panelists agreed to this) and that we can't satisfy the demands of our modern persons' curiosity as it strikes at 3AM, "Search on Amazon, I don't really care, I search on Amazon... search when it's convenient. You can [still] come to the store and pick it up and still participate in this community institution."

Have you ever thought of a bookstore as a "community institution"? Paperback Dreams talks about the "Paperback Revolution" in the 50s (the era of Cody's & Kepler's) when books, and therefore knowledge, became incredibly accessible to the common person for pennies and dollars - bookstores became havens for for free-thinkers and informal informational exchange and discussion, particularly in the 60s. In the cases of Cody's (on Telegraph in Berkley), they even became places of respite for the marginalized and havens for the injured (literally... injured in police marches and such). Emily's expanded on the practical role of this "community institution" as it can be appreciated by consumers on a historical level, "Skylight is 12 years old," she said, "but the a book store (formerly Chatterton's) has been in this place now for some 40 years." Being a "neighborhood fixture" required tenacity from the customers who still visit the store despite the name change and passing of those "some 40 years".

A pertinent point that all the panelists adamantly made was the need for independent booksellers to resist the temptation of serving the whole world (as Powell's showed possible). They even said that their stores are not about trying to expand in order to serve the greater LA area. Being greedy and trying to acquire new markets can lead to forgetting who their community is, and community, the film points out, is how paperback selling began. Rather, they are "the neighborhood's bookstore," a "community institution" that in their steadfastness remembers whose they are.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

What a mess!

Oooh... I know my new blog is missing the parallel lines and minimalism that's so popular right now... but I love it!

I may have been all that great at composition... but my heart is certainly warmed by messy eclecticism. And I'm also kind of impressed with myself for figuring out how to create this using lifted code and experimentation.


P.S. tomorrow LACMA is free for students. Raise your hand if you want to go!

P.S.S tonight there is a free documentary film called Paperback Dreams at Vroman's on independent book publishing. From 6-9. Check out the details on facebook.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Obamamobile visits Pasadena!!

I'm so so sorry that I could not get a video recording of this for ya'll... but imagine these words being spoke as you pull out of your drive-way just behind the Obama-mobile:
(but don't imagine too much enthusiams, this lady has obviously been saying this all day long)

"Yes we can! We can change the nation. We can vote for a president who will change America! We can vote for change! If you need a ride to the polls, hop on board, we'll take you there to vote for Obama! Vote for change! Si se puede! Yes we can! Vote for Obama!"

"May you live to see interesting times"
- (the Chinese "curse" my uncle wrote on a gift to me, which happened to be the New York Times First Pages from 1900-1998)

Free Election Day Stuff

From Kimberly Palmer at

If you waited in line to vote this morning, or plan to later today, you deserve to be rewarded for your efforts -- or at least that's how retailers are framing it. Starbucks, Ben & Jerry's, and Krispy Kreme are just a few of the companies offering to feed you for free.

Here's where to go for the free sustenance (you may need it given those polling booth lines):

  • Starbucks will give you a free 12-ounce coffee. In fact, you don't even need to prove you voted, because in order to ensure compliance with election laws, Starbucks says it will give the coffee to anyone who asks for it.
  • Visit Ben & Jerry's between 5pm and 8pm, and you'll get a free scoop of ice cream. (You may want to consider arriving early; past promotions have resulted in long lines.)
  • Krispy Kreme is giving away star-shaped doughnuts decorated with red and blue sprinkles.
  • California Tortilla -- the company that came up with the McCain Chilada-Burrito and O-Chili-Bama Burrito -- is offering up free tacos.
  • For more deals, check out the list at

Dang. If there was ever incentive to vote!
But is it reasonable to think that giving out voting incentives is a little tiny bit shady? I mean not shady... but perhaps a little antithetical to the "right to vote" and "democracy" ideas? Kinda like special interests groups. hmmm...

Wait a second I "don't need to prove" I voted! AWESOME!

Monday, November 3, 2008


So I was messing around in Excel because... I dunno.
I guess I was reading about some statistics about human life and its contingency on plant life and picturing pie charts in my head of what kinds of things I eat that are directly and indirectly from plants... anyway, so I started messing with a chart in Excel and I know this is totally 4th grade, but I think the label highlighted in the upper left-hand corner is really funny.
And yea... I do eat that much granola.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Book Swap!

Okay, so I've heard of CD swaps via mail with organizations like and I've heard of ppl swapping books via mail but I've never heard of an organization for book swaps.

Until now!!

Jump on the band wagon, fellas, 'cause this is about the most awesome discovery I come upon in the last few months.

It's called Swap Tree.
It literally takes 8 seconds to sign up and it doesn't require any personal information.

"Swaptree is a new and innovative way for people to easily trade the books, cds, dvds and video games they are finished with, for the ones they want, all for free. With swaptree, your collections stop gathering dust and can be used to acquire other items you want. By offering to trade a single item, you can choose from thousands of books, dvds, cds, and video games that you can receive in exchange. Best part: everything is free, you only pay shipping."

Swap tree matches what you are offering and what you would like to own with others who are swapping out their old stuff and looking for your used stuff. Only Swap Tree uses a nifty compatibility generator so that the swaps can happen three-ways if a two-way swap isn't possibility.

When you are ready to swap for something you provide a mailing address, but other than that, it's your envelope, your stamps, and your books, DVDs, and games for trade!

It's not always instantaneous, but after a few days, a match can be made. The more stuff you have to offer, the sooner your item might become available. If Swap Tree recognizes one of your friends has something you are looking for, it will notify you to save you the postage.

Thus, I'm encouraging you to join forces with me and Swap Tree and rule the world!
Oh wait, that's another train of thought. Anyway. Swap!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

What Weather!

Its about time, Fall!

Now many can attest to how utterly duplicitous it would be for me to ever accuse one of being untimely. After all, the foundation of success in my marriage is the common understanding of time that seems to elude the rest of our culture... (overstatement.)

But really, Fall, where were you? I waited for weeks! You tricked me with a rainy day in October; you even allowed Spring pose as you in the late cool Summer! Deceit!
Why, Fall? Why would you put us through so much?
We were counting on you! We took scarves out from the bottom drawer. We started ordering Pumpkin Spice lattes! But when they asked us "hot or iced," we looked outside and sighed, wiped the sweat from out brow and glumly settled for the plastic cups. I even spend the money I found in my Winter coat... that was for you, Fall. You let Summer rob me.

Still... in your tardiness you managed not to fail the Trick-or-Treaters. In hope they donned long robes and sticky masks, dreading the drench they might face after a warm night. We all woke yesterday with an reminiscent scent hanging in the air: dirt and grass and pavement that we usually don't smell. The water on the ground had unlocked the memories we hadn't dared to resurrect on our own! Could it be? Had it rained?

Today November surprised me. Halloween has that distracting effect. Outside it is unusually dark for the evening and my brother-in-law asks me from only 60 miles away if it is thundering and raining over our house. "Is it there?" I ask, knowing that he is experiencing the future weather to be soon upon us. "Yes!'" he tells me now! And as if on que the birds outside my window explode in chorus and take flight, just before the first thunder begins to roll.

Bring it on, Fall! We've missed you and welcome you with open arms. But... maybe next time you could be a little more punctual?
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