What's going on here?
The more I do good, the better I feel about myself. Truly, to benefit others is to benefit yourself. I hope this journal may inspire others who also yearn to do good. So join me on this journey, if you will, and think about the difference you can make in your own life.
Tuesday, June 30, 2009
Monday, June 29, 2009
Sunday, June 28, 2009
Friday, June 26, 2009
And what better way to acknowledge this tiny miracle than to clean up the area a little?
ONE GOOD DEED: Pick up PET bottles near the seashore.
Celestia is a program that allows you to explore the universe in gorgeous detail. You can fly anywhere, at any speed and at any time in history. The cosmos is rendered according to highly accurate astronomical theory, and planets appear in high resolution. Imagery from Celestia has been used in movies such as the Day After Tomorrow and the Andromeda Strain. Best of all, it is available for download for your home PC, absolutely free.
Let's take a moment to unpack the historical significance of a program such as this...
There was an age when this sort of information was sacred. Access to it was kept secret. Astronomical numerology shows up in the Vedas, Mesopotamian texts, and the king lists of the Old Testament. These texts functioned in part to transmit the sacred knowledge required to decipher the motions of heavenly bodies. Later philosophers were awestruck by planetary motion, which they called the music of the spheres. Now, in the age of computers and the Internet, you can download it in a few seconds, poke around with your little mouse cursor, and go "huh." You don't even have to pay for it. No previous generation has ever had such an opportunity. What's more, if peak oil theorists are right about the impact of declining energy availability, future generations might not have this opportunity either. The Internet and personal computers may become too expensive for the average person, leaving our children to once again gaze up at the starry sky and wonder what makes it all go round.
ONE GOOD DEED: Raise awareness for Celestia, an educational astronomy program.
Thursday, June 25, 2009
ONE GOOD DEED: Pick up trash near the kindergarten.
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
ONE GOOD DEED: Give Minnesota wild rice to a co-worker who'd never seen such a thing before.
Monday, June 22, 2009
Like many I am following the Iran election controversy. I don't doubt that the election could have been rigged, and my heart goes out to the protesters suffering and in some cases dying for what they believe in.
At the same time, I am noticing an extreme bias in certain US reporting. For example, the NY Times has been giving the story massive coverage. It has headlined multiple stories almost every day since the election results were reported (ten days!). This is far out of proportion to coverage we normally see of similar events in countries that are not so strategically critical to our foreign policy. It doesn't take a professional analyst to realize that there is a connection to America's current delicate, potentially explosive, stance toward nuclear Iran. Nor is it arcane that Iran is a key player in the theater of our wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. And perhaps most importantly, it's no secret that the idea of democracy in a Muslim nation tugs at American heartstrings, and can be used to push our buttons.
It's natural that the media should prefer stories that interest the public, so some disproportion in coverage is to be expected. But what's going on right now is disproportionate enough to raise the question of agenda. It was not long ago that we were fed the "Saddam is genociding the Kurds" story, followed by the "our military isn't ready" story, and the "weapons of mass destruction" hoax. And let's not forget that during that same period our very own nation saw an election which was every bit as questionable as the current one in Iran.
Please note that just because the headlines hide an agenda, it doesn't mean they aren't true. Saddam was a bad guy, a really bad guy, and the Kurds did suffer. But those true facts were falsely used to pump us up for wars, actions with motivations other than "good vs. evil." In the same way, Ahmadinejad may be worth questioning. The election results may be worth questioning. And our moral outrage may be required. But we do not have to be dupes about it. If we keep our collective cool and look at this rationally, we'll be much more likely to make wise decisions in the future.
Please also note that the presence of agenda does not necessarily validate conspiracy theories! The public is quite capable of hypnotizing itself, through nothing more than "herd culture" behavior, without anyone directing the panic from behind a curtain. Presidents and other leaders may bear particular responsibility, but ultimately we can only point fingers at ourselves. It's up to us, the public, to grant or withhold assent.
It is particularly difficult to keep our cool when outrage is or appears to be justified. But even when such is justified, uncritical reactions never lead to a happy ending.
So, please, as you follow this story, don't let the headlines hypnotize you. We are only effective when we keep both our hearts and our heads in the game!
P.S. One way to take the brainwashing machine off spin cycle is to compare headlines with foreign newspapers. Check out BBC News, Moscow Times, China Daily, and the like. Look specifically for newspapers with different foreign policy agendas and views contrary to your own. Don't trust any one newspaper over another, but observe overall trends that emerge.
See the following post for the essay.
ONE GOOD DEED: Raise awareness for critical thinking in a time of public outrage.
Sunday, June 21, 2009
ONE GOOD DEED: Organize a farwell party for all the foreign teachers leaving soon.
Saturday, June 20, 2009
Friday, June 19, 2009
I have posted numerous times on the Darfur situation, and since then I've learned a fair amount about it. One thing I've learned is that US military intervention could very well prove counterproductive. The Save Darfur Coalition tends to include a military option within its purview of potential actions, so you have to be careful about what letters you support. This one bears no military language and pursues helpful and necessary goals.
By the way, please do not trust my judgments about the viability of military action. Read up, and make your own decisions.
ONE GOOD DEED: Send a letter asking to Obama to reveal his Darfur peace plan.
Thursday, June 18, 2009
ONE GOOD DEED: Get a neighbor to donate her PET bottle caps!
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
The caretaker of the shrine invited me to a special dinner table inside it, and taught me about its various sacred objects (showing me as much as could be shown without violating taboos).
ONE GOOD DEED: Support my local shrine by participating in its annual festival.
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
ONE GOOD DEED: Give mushroom tea to a sick neighbor.
Monday, June 15, 2009
Sunday, June 14, 2009
Friday, June 12, 2009
Thursday, June 11, 2009
ONE GOOD DEED: Talk to an old lady that always rides the same Thursday bus.
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
Tuesday, June 9, 2009
Invisible Children, which emerged from the above documentary film, educates people about the effects of war on children, and grants scholarships to children in Uganda without enough money to finish secondary school.
ONE GOOD DEED: Raise awareness for Invisible Children on Facebook.
Monday, June 8, 2009
Friday, June 5, 2009
The Come Clean 4 Congo video contest aims to raise awareness for how electronics fuel the deadliest war in the world. Tin, tungsten, and tantalum are mined in the Congo, and those revenues directly fund a war that has claimed 5 million lives, forced children into military service, and inflicted hundreds of thousands of rapes.
ONE GOOD DEED: Raise awareness for the Congo.