Sunday, May 27, 2007

Nazi Raccoons Conquer Europe

It seems that Hermann Goering's legacy lives on.

Monday, May 14, 2007

A Beautiful Day for Baseball

Sunday was a perfect day for a trip to the ballpark for a game between the Hanwha Eagles and the Doosan Bears. Although the Eagles (the Daejeon team) lost 3-1 due to some very sloppy defense in the 4th inning, it was still a great day.

There was a stiff breeze coming directly in from center field which kept a bunch of well hit balls from going out.

Daejeon Stadium was refitted last year with new turf.

I bought a new camera and was trying to get some decent shots of the game action. The safety netting behind home plate was a bit of a pain in the ass.
A pretty decent look at the Eagles new center fielder Jacob Cruz.

Doosan player smacking a double into left which scored two in the 4th.

More fourth inning action as a Doosan player easily steals second.

The MC trying to get the crowd into the game.

Eagle at the plate...

Here's the pitch...STEEERRIKE!!
Why people REALLY go to the games!

The Eagles fight song.

Nice view from the stands.

Faith and Tolerance in America: A Cultural Divide, Pt. 2

Well, it would appear that I'm not the only one who feels that discussion is the way to go with this issue. This article appears in today's Yahoo news. Maybe the "honest to goodness" miracle Metha is looking for is Evangelicals and non-believers sitting down together en mass and TALKING!

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Faith and Tolerance in America: A Cultural Divide

An interesting article appeared in the Washington Post today on whether there is a bias against evangelical Christians among professors in America's secular universities and colleges. The article cites a lawsuit brought by a student against a university professor who required students to write letters in support of the adoption rights of same sex couples. The article also cites two surveys of US university professors on their feelings towards evangelical Christians and other religious people. One of the surveys found that 53% of professors had "unfavorable" feelings towards evangelicals, which the pollster found to show significant bias against religious persons. Others felt the survey showed a reaction to the current political climate in America rather than a particular aversion to religion or those that practice it.

Even more interesting are the readers comments to the article and its findings. The comments are more telling in that they truly reveal the bias and division over religion that the article merely hints at. The commenter's from both sides of the debate (although the majority would seem to be from the "liberal" camp) put forth the kind of spite-filled, narrow-minded vitriol that has kept these opposing camps at each other's throats since time began.

I'm not a member of any religion, nor do I hold any firm religious beliefs (I did pretend to be a Quaker for a while though). At best, I'm agnostic. I've read the Bible, although from a historical viewpoint rather than a spiritual one and have made an effort to understand religious faith in others. The fact is, religious faith for the vast majority of people is simply a way to get through the day. If praying to God, Allah, Buddha, or whoever helps in dealing with our ever more troubling world, more power to you. I believe faith is a personal thing and not political policy or educational curriculum, and not something to be foisted on the unwilling. While I don't want a professor (or anyone for that matter) castigating me for not believing in God, neither do I want that professor telling me that all religious people are ignorant, superstitious, brainwashed dolts. It's the extremism on both sides of the aisle that most people resent.

I offer my own experiences as an example of how people can, if not agree on religious issues, at least come to respect and understand each varying opinion.

When I was 16 - 17 years old, I was a stoned, long-haired high school dropout and a prime target for the bands of Born Again Christians then roaming the streets of Monterey, CA. I'd be sitting at a bus stop with my nose in a book when I'd glance up to see a semi-circle of clean cut, bright-eyed (predatory?) young folks hell bent on saving my soul. I'm always willing to debate the merits of faith and religion with folks who are interested in a frank discussion. However, the majority of the time these young people were so zealous in their pursuit of the damned that they refused to engage in a two way discussion and invariably told me I was going to burn in Hell. Their "point" made, off they'd stomp in search of the next unwitting heretic.

One fine day, I was wandering aimlessly down Alvarado St. when I was approached by a young African-American guy who opened with the standard, "Excuse me? Do you believe in God?" When I said no, he responded with a word I'd never actually heard from an evangelical Christian: "Why?" I began to explain my position and, with genuine interest, this young man suggested we go have a cup of coffee. What ensued was an incredible conversation about faith (or the lack of it), his conversion, God in a historical context, and a variety of other religion related topics. While I'm sure he realized fairly early in the conversation I wasn't going to find God that day, he did display an open-minded respect for my opinions. When we parted about three hours later, I was left with a lot to think about, and the seeds of my current attitudes towards faith and the faithful.

I disagree with a lot of the positions held by the evangelical Christian community, especially those on abortion and gay rights. However, if more people could have conversations like the one I had so long ago, I think there would be a lot more tolerance from people on both sides of this issue

Saturday, May 05, 2007

The Crossing

Next month, June 14 to be exact, will mark the 11th anniversary of my father's death. He died while he and I were on a cross-country trip to the Rockies and the Three Sisters (Bryce Canyon, Zion National Park, and the Grand Canyon). He died while we were hiking up the North Rim Trail from the floor of the Grand Canyon on the last day of our trip. The trip had been the culmination of many years of effort on both our parts to repair a relationship that had gone sour in my teens.

About a month after my father died, I went to see Johnny Clegg and Savuka live at the 9:30 Club in D.C. During the show, the band played a song called "The Crossing". In introducing the song, Johnny Clegg said that in Zulu tradition, when a person dies suddenly, their spirit does not know it. The spirit wanders the Earth feeling all of the things living people feel until it realizes it is not a part of the world anymore and crosses into the spirit realm. Johnny dedicated the song to a band mate who had been killed in Soweto and, " any one else here going through a crossing." I sat on the steps in the club and wept. It's a beautiful song.

I miss my dad.

Johnny Clegg & Savuka

Through all the days that eat away
at every breath that I take
through all the nights I've lain alone
in someone else's dream, awake
all the words in truth we have spoken
that the wind has blown away
it's only you that remains with me
clear as the light of day


O Siyeza, o siyeza , sizofika webaba noma
(we are coming, we are coming, we will arrive soon)
O siyeza, o siyeza, siyagudle lomhlaba
(we are coming, we are coming, we are moving across this earth)
Siyawela lapheshaya lulezontaba ezimnyama
(we are crossing over those dark mountains)
Lapha sobheka phansi konke ukhulupheka
(where we will lay down our troubles)

A punch drunk man in a downtown bar
takes a beating without making a sound
through swollen eyes he sways and smiles
'cause noone can put him down
inside of him a boy looks up to his father
for a sign or an approving eye
oh, it's funny how those once so close and now gone
can still so affect our lives


Take me now, don't let go
hold me close, I'm coming home