Friday, August 29, 2008

Even More Surprising

I am shocked. Reports are saying that Sarah Palin, the one-term Republican governor of Alaska, is the GOP's nominee for veep. If McCain really has chosen Palin as his running mate, it's a masterstroke for him. It has to be a ploy to go for all those discontented Hillary supporters.
McCain picks Palin as running mate Alaska governor to be first female Republican VP nominee
BREAKING NEWS
MSNBC and NBC News
updated 19 minutes ago

WASHINGTON - Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain has chosen Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as his running mate, NBC News has learned.

She would be the first woman ever to serve on a Republican presidential ticket. The pro-life Palin would also be the first Alaskan ever to appear on a national ticket.

Palin, 44, was elected Alaska's first woman governor in 2006. The state’s voters had grown weary of career politician Gov. Frank Murkowski, whom she defeated in the GOP primary... [Full story]

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Surprising

How much will Obama cut your taxes?

Click here to find out!

[Does anyone know how accurate this thing is?]

McCain 2008 = Angry Old Man

More and more, McCain 2008 is a far cry from the man I would have supported in the 2000 election (or even 2004!). In this interview, McCain is more than just a grumpy maverick -- he seems as though someone has pi$$ed in his Wheaties! Click the following link for the full story (and access to an audio clip of the interview): McCain's Prickly TIME Interview
Hat tip to: Hrafnkell

Walk Score

How walkable is your neighborhood? Your office building? Walk Score calculates the walkability of an address by locating nearby stores, restaurants, schools, parks, etc., and then sets a score (from 0 to 100). The higher the score, the easier it is to complete errands on foot instead of by driving a car. Their general guidelines for the score are as follows (and I quote from their How it works page):
  • 90–100 = Walkers' Paradise: Most errands can be accomplished on foot and many people get by without owning a car.
  • 70–89 = Very Walkable: It's possible to get by without owning a car.
  • 50–69 = Somewhat Walkable: Some stores and amenities are within walking distance, but many everyday trips still require a bike, public transportation, or car.
  • 25–49 = Car-Dependent: Only a few destinations are within easy walking range. For most errands, driving or public transportation is a must.
  • 0–24 = Car-Dependent (Driving Only): Virtually no neighborhood destinations within walking range. You can walk from your house to your car!
I'm not going to go into how their algorithm works. You can go check out the How it works page or their FAQ. I'm still playing around with it, but I have not seen any results that I would greatly disagree with.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

O-Biden?

So, the long wait is over, and the Obama camp has decided on Sen. Joe Biden of DE as the Veep. And for the past several hours, the news hounds have been dabbling in the question: What exactly are we to make of this? For one thing, this choice ensures that an already exhausting campaign will now be somewhat more entertaining. Biden loves to talk, and he's not afraid of the verbal gaffe. (Would you like to go out for coffee, Sen. Biden? Dunkin' Donuts, perhaps?). There is also his experience and knowledge to consider. Biden has an excellent grasp of history. He has a wealth of foreign policy experience. He has the ability to channel that knowledge and experience into easily digestible communications -- through story. And I feel he is at his best when sharing stories about growing up in Pennsylvania and the lessons he learned from his father and the world. He was, however, just plain terrible during the confirmation hearings for Judge Roberts. And, if I'm not mistaken, it was for those hearings that he may be on record as having asked the longest question that did not actually contain a question. So what do I think of this Veep selection? I feel Biden should be an advisor or analyst, but not a policy maker. That's just my personal opinion on how he would best put his talents to work. Perhaps his selection as VP candidate is a great because it would (if Obama is elected) take him out of the Senate and place him in the ultimate advisor position, one that has been considered a "political graveyard"? We'll have to wait and see how the Obama camp is able to make Biden's long tenure play with the campaign's theme of change. AP via Google News: Official: Obama picks Biden for veep

Democratic presidential hopefuls Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., left, laughs with Sen. Joseph Biden, D-Del., before the start of a presidential forum hosted by the AFL-CIO at Soldier Field in Chicago, in this Tuesday, Aug. 7, 2007 file photo. Sen. Joe Biden of Delaware is Barack Obama's pick as vice presidential running mate, The Associated Press has learned Saturday Aug. 23, 2008. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast, FILE)

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Blogroll Update

Please welcome Siglind of Tallahassee, Florida, to the Blogroll. You will find her Heathen Scientist musings under THINK in the right column.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Seminar | Spiritual Perspectives and Health Science

Just a little something offered by the Center for Spirituality, Theology and Health:

Spiritual Perspectives and Health Science (PDF)

We are pleased to announce our 1st Seminar of the 2008/2009 Academic Year following our summer hiatus. This year we will also be offering AMA PRA Category 1 Credit(s)™.

"Spiritual Perspectives and Health Science" which is a presentation and discussion by Pamela Reed, PhD, RN, FAAN, Professor, University of Arizona College of Nursing, Tucson, Arizona.

This seminar will address spirituality as a perspective for advancing human health and well-being. Synthesis of spiritual perspectives and science for health care research and the practice will be explored.

The seminar will be offered Thursday, September 11 from Noon - 1:30 p.m. in the School of Nursing Auditorium Room 1014. Lunch will be provided.

To register or for more information, email elizabeth.alford@duke.edu or call 919.660.7556, visit http://www.dukespiritualityandhealth.org/.

Sponsored by Duke University School of Medicine

Accreditation: The Duke University School of Medicine is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical education (ACCME) to provide continuing medical education for physicians.

Credit Designation: The Duke University School of Medicine designates this educational activity for a maximum 1.5 AMA PRA Category 1 Credit(s)™. Physicians should claim only credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity.

Faculty Disclosure: The following speakers and/or planning committee members have indicated they have no relationship(s) with industry to disclose relative to the content of this CME activity:

Pamela Reed, PhD Keith G. Meador, MD Harold Koenig, MD Catherine Craver, MEd

"I Don't Have an Excuse for Bad Morals"

And in a wonderful follow-up to that last post, Memoirs of a Godless Heathen* serves up a simple, succinct explanation for his moral compass:
I would argue that my lack of a belief in God makes me a more moral person than someone who is religious. My moral choices aren't made out of fear of eternal punishment. Just as I don't have a reason to have "good" morals, I don't have an excuse for bad ones, either.
  1. I don't have a religious justification to hate gay people, so I don't hate gay people.
  2. I don't have a religious justification to believe that women are inherently inferior to men, so I don't believe women are inferior to men.
  3. I don't have a religious justification to not see a doctor when I'm sick, so I see a doctor when I'm sick.
  4. I don't have a religious justification to hate someone for having the "wrong" religion, so I don't hate people because they follow a certain religion.
  5. I don't have a religious justification to hate someone for being a member of the "wrong" race, so I am not a racist.
  6. I don't have a religious justification to support certain wars due to a belief that it will fulfill some sort of ancient prophecy, so I oppose needless death and destruction.
  7. I don't have a religious justification to strap a bomb to my chest and blow myself up in a crowded market, so I don't strap a bomb to my chest and blow myself up in a crowded market.
It's almost poetic, don't you agree? * While Memoirs of a Godless Heathen does make for a wonderful title, the "Godless Heathen" part is a contradiction. We Heathens have lots of Gods and Godesses! :)

The Planet Has Been Saved!

Now, before you get your hopes up, let me give you the context for this post's title. Seems that Congresswoman Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) believes we don't need environmentalists, at least not environmentally active politicians, to work on behalf of the planet because someone has already saved it. To be more specific, she called out House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (not someone among my fave politicians anyway) with this comment quoted at OneNewsNow.com:
"[She] is committed to her global warming fanaticism to the point where she has said that she's just trying to save the planet. We all know that someone did that over 2,000 years ago, they saved the planet -- we didn't need Nancy Pelosi to do that."
2000 years ago? Hmmm... to whom might she be referring? Might it be ... Yeshua ben Joseph? (Yeah, that means "Jesus"). Well, I guess we can stop wasting time on planetary woes. On to the next major project! But seriously folks, even without going into a discussion of how Ms. Bachmann and clear-thinking people have a seriously different conception of "saved", this kind of talk is just stupid. It's worse than the "cute" sermon signs ("God answers knee-mail"), but nowhere near as bad as the people who are supposedly in favor of accelerating global problems because they want to hasten the next arrival of their savior. And I'm not certain what to think about folks who are trying to fulfill biblical prophecies with holograms and lasers (yeah, it's an old story, but the only one I have access to at the moment). Ms. Bachmann, let me save you from making any more ridiculous statements. Just remember this simple formula: Political Sanity = Religion | State There is a barrier between them for a reason.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Movie Review | THE DARK KNIGHT

[Cross-posted to my Facebook account] I'm a little late with this (I finally saw the flick on August 2), but I'll throw my few cents worth into the blogosphere. First, you have to know that right after I left the theater, I texted the following to my wife: Movie review = !!!!! Yes, you read that correctly. Five exclamation points. However, over on Facebook, I gave the film 4.5 stars out of 5. How do I reconcile 5 exclamation points with a "mere" 4.5 stars? I will attempt to explain... THE DARK KNIGHT is not a perfect Batman story. For one, it inherits a problem from its predecessor: Rachel Dawes. While Rachel is given a much better portrayal from Maggie Gyllenhaal than Mrs. Tom Cruise could ever evoke, this cannot eliminate the fact that Ms. Dawes has been grafted onto the Batman mythos just to give Bruce Wayne a childhood friend who can double as a potential love interest. Her presence also entices the writers to further the absurd idea that Wayne is somehow caught between his sense of mission and a desire for a normal life. According to all the source material, there is no such conflict in Wayne, at least not at this early stage in his career as The Batman. Another carryover from BATMAN BEGINS --Lucius Fox knowing that Bruce Wayne is the Batman -- is a minor quibble. There have been stories in the source material that imply Fox knew what was going on with Brucie. Besides, an aide who can manage the business while also providing access to high tech goodies is a plus. And it's much cleaner than having to deal with a whole host of experts (as suggested in "The Many Deaths of the Batman" from Batman #433-#435), or having Bruce personally muss with corporate records to hide his Batman purchases and research. Another minor quibble is the Joker's involvement in Harvey Dent's transformation into Two-Face. In the source material, the Joker and Two-Face were often at odds, but Joker did not help "create" Two-Face. I suppose this compacting is the result of finite time within the movie storyline. After all, in BATMAN BEGINS, we had Henri Ducard doubling as Ra's al Ghul and having a hand in the training/evolution of Batman. In the source materials, we do find Henri Ducard as having a hand in Bruce Wayne's training, but he was not in the employ of (let alone a false identity for) Ra's al Ghul. So, while I originally thought BATMAN BEGIN's collapsing/mixing of characters and storylines was a one-time occurrence, it now seems that Nolan's team has established a trend of mixing character origins for convenience. Now, having said all that, I think the film really works. Minor quibbles aside, this is a well cast, well shot, and extremely well exectuted (no pun intended) production. It seems more real and visceral than any "superhero" or comic book movie to date. Compare the Gotham City of THE DARK KNIGHT with that of BATMAN FOREVER. There *is* no comparison. The Gotham of the former comes off more like NYC in the film WORLD TRADE CENTER while the Gotham of the latter is like an amusement park ride. While THE DARK KNIGHT is a large and loud movie, with its roots in the popcorn blockbuster genre, it has one foot firmly rooted in the tradition of the morality play. Like great art, it entertains but asks uncomfortable questions of us. It has the exhilaration of a thrill ride, but it comes with a serious punch to the gut. "How much of your world is like this?" it seems to ask. "And what, if anything, can you do about it now?" The Dark Knight (2008) Director: Christopher Nolan MPAA: PG-13 Running Time: 2 hrs. 30 min. Release Date: Jul 14, 2008 Cast: Christian Bale, Heath Ledger, Aaron Eckhart, Michael Caine, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Gary Oldman, Morgan Freeman, Monique Curnen, Ron Dean, Eric Roberts

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Book Review | Passages Handfasting: A Pagan Guide to Commitment Rituals (Passages)

[Cross-posted to Amazon.com] Hovey has written a rather useful introduction to Handfasting. I applaud the attention she has paid to the history of this ritual -- too few pagan writers seem to appreciate the roots, both known and unknown, that have contributed to the way Handfasting is celebrated today. Hovey has striven to provide a rather broad coverage in details of how to find a minister, how to plan/budget for the wedding, etc. She even includes god/desses from various pantheons (while recommending against crossing pantheons/traditions) who, in her mind, are most appropriate entities to invoke. Sidenote: As a Germanic Reconstructionist myself, I think she missed the boat on the Norse pantheon; why did she not recommend Thor and Sif? They are the epitome of male/feminine, sky/earth, etc. pairs. This book is aimed at the general Neo-pagan or Wiccan audience so most Heathen types will not likely find much use for her ritual descriptions. Still, it's an overall good introduction and is likely to be a good reference for interfaith ministers. http://brainwise.org/Images/star.review.gifhttp://brainwise.org/Images/star.review.gifhttp://brainwise.org/Images/star.review.gif

Book Review | Exploring The Northern Tradition

[Also posted to Amazon.com]

Galina Krasskova has written a wonderful and practical contribution to Heathen spirituality. From a very broad outline, Krasskova leads the reader through a brief, but far from superficial, overview of the development of modern Heathenry, basic information about the Gods and Goddesses, and the metaphysical worldview. Along the way, she provides personal examples drawn from her own life along with suggestions on how the reader can develop his or her own devotions. The topics of Wyrd and Soul Matrix were particularly well done and interesting, and the outlines of ritual (Blot and Symbel) are helpful -- though I am familiar with the basics, I found new and inspired details in these sections. I should also point out that I found Krasskova's honest and practical attitude regarding syncretization quite refreshing. While trying to be "non-denominational", this material is slightly slanted toward the Anglo-Saxon varieties of religious reconstruction. This is to be somewhat expected given her own experience in Thaet Angelseaxisce Ealdriht. My comment is not at all meant as a criticism, but merely a piece of information the reader should be aware of. In closing, "Exploring the Northern Tradition" is more than a simple introduction to this spiritual path; it is a very readable reference that the new, or even seasoned, Heathen can turn to on a frequent basis.

Book Review | Last Child in the Woods

[Also posted to Amazon.com] This may very well be one of the most important books I have read this year ... or the past few years. I purchased "Last Child in the Woods" right after I heard Richard Louv interviewed on a local radio program. I was so moved by his message and impressed with the breadth of his knowledge and depth of experience. And it all translates well in the book. "Last Child..." feels more like a conversation a text. It's just that comfortable and open. Yet it very strikingly paints a picture of what is currently happening to children and our world as well as what may yet happen if nothing is done to reverse "nature deficit disorder". But, more importantly, there are also bright examples of hope and suggestions as to what we can do, as individuals and in larger groups, to cultivate appreciation of -- and cooperation with -- the natural world. Anyone who wants to awaken a love of nature in their kids, or simply deepen their own nature walk, should give this inspiring book a chance.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Quotable | Mindfulness Today

Modern civilization is largely devoted to the pursuit of the cult of delusion. There is no general information about the nature of mind. It is hardly ever written about by writers or intellectuals; modern philosophers do not speak of it directly; the majority of scientists deny it could possibly be there at all. It plays no part in popular culture: no one sings about it, no one talks about it in plays, and it's not on TV. We are actually educated into believing that nothing is real beyond what we can perceive with our ordinary senses.” -- Sogyal Rinpoche, Tibetan Buddhist teacher and author