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What name would you give to your car or bicycle, and why?

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I named my bike Wilbur, after one of the world's most famous bicycle mechanics, Wilbur Wright.
24 March 2011 @ 04:10 pm

If you decided to start a band, what would you name your first album?

First question listed was submitted by iloveuniverse. (Follow-up questions, if any, may have been added by LiveJournal.)

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"25 Hours A Day", in reference to my sleep disorder.
20 March 2011 @ 12:54 pm
Well, it's interesting that, since writing my last essay, I've stumbled across two different articles (hooray for Facebook friends linking articles!) that touch on the very subject I'd written about: the consequences of devaluing people by abstracting them.  I will post the links of these two articles here, and provide a bit of commentary.


The consequences of abstracting the poor, courtesy of The Guardian

This comes as no surprise to me.  I've looked at the furor that developed over the push to eliminate worker rights in Wisconsin, and over the elimination of federal funding for public broadcasting.  The outcry was tremendous.  Yet, when Congress proposes a 22% budget cut to public housing, including slashing nearly half of its budget for building maintenance and security, there is no hue and cry, because the poor, elderly, and disabled (the last two groups often comprising the bulk of the first) are faceless in our culture.  It's easy to demean the lives of those who are cut out of public view, who are an "unknown" in the equation.

Lee Atwater on the power of turning people into "issues", courtesy of  (scroll down to "Atwater on the Southern Strategy")

What's amazing in this quote is that this is coming from someone who advocated and used this approach.  It's like, for a second, the curtain dropped on the Wizard of Oz and we could see what was really going on. 

I suppose, for me, what encourages me in reading these articles is realising that I'm not alone in my conclusions (as if any idea is really new, anyway).  And with knowing that I'm not alone brings the hope that like-minded do exist out there, and that a movement for increasing understanding and peace is indeed possible, and perhaps even well within reach.
Current Mood: hopefulhopeful
19 March 2011 @ 12:08 am
The concept of Story is one I've been contemplating for at least a year. It began at a time when I was brought to the point where I had to give a close look at my own Story, and how I was going to share it.

In the time since, I've read and listened to "debates" to no end. We call them "debates", but they don't resemble true debate at all. True debate is measured, calm, well-researched, and deliberate. What we have instead, coming from all sides, are name-calling, belittlement, anger, resentment, hatred, malice, insults, curses, and every imaginable wish of hellish fate you can imagine. Instead of having the power to persuade, all it has is the power to prove is who can shout the loudest and longest, like some playground contest amongst preschoolers. And the second any of us think we are immune to it, we get dragged into it. And I fully own up to the fact that I get dragged into it--this is not about me pontificating; rather, it's as much a polemic against myself as anything.

We are losing sight of our mutual humanity. And when we do that, we quit seeing each other as fellow human beings, but as abstractions. It is far, far easier, to go to war against an abstraction (why do you think they calm them "casualties" and "collateral damage", rather than "deaths"?), to oppress an abstraction, to take rights from an abstraction, than to do any of these things against a fellow human, who shares your breath and your DNA and your heartbeat. And if we can do all these things against abstractions, if the world is nothing but abstractions and a small number that we call "us", there's nothing that is keeping us from bombing those we label "them" to smithereens. We should just drop the nukes and call it a day.

However, I do not believe we need to do that.

There is something that I notice in this whole process of abstracting human beings. It is the need to attach a label to another human being, so that we can group human beings together who share a label, since it is easier to make abstract a group than an individual. We call each other "liberal", "conservative", "gay", "straight", "Christian", "Muslim", "American", "Chinese", on and on and on it goes. You can never run out of the labels you can attach to a fellow human being, and yet it seems the "label" we avoid most these days is "fellow human being".

It seems sometimes that we are hardwired to think of each other in terms of our differences rather than our similarities. This may be the case. But we also have amazing minds that can accomplish feats that they "shouldn't" be able to. I figured that if labels--a simplification and abstraction of our differences-- are helping to speed the destruction of our species, what then are our similarities? So I thought long and hard about what it is that every human being has in common with each other.

I came up with only one thing. It's not our genetics (for example, not all human beings have 46 chromosomes). It's not our physical composition. It's certainly not the way we look, dress, think, or believe.

The only thing I could come up with that all human beings share is Story.

By Story, I mean the personal narrative that each of us carries. It is the unique path that has brought each of us to where we are. It is the tale of our triumphs and tragedies, our defining moments and mundane moments, the things that shaped our decisions, beliefs, and character. Not only is Story the only thing that we all share, but, in a very real sense, it is the only thing that any of us has. You can lose your job, your home, your possessions, your family and friends, you can lose absolutely everything--but no-one and nothing can take away your Story.

So, if engaging each other in labelling and pseudo-debate is not only accomplishing nothing good, but accomplishing a lot of very bad things, what would the opposite look like? I believe it would be the sharing of our Story with each other.

Now, it is a very easy thing for me to share my Story with someone who closely identifies with me, who shares my "labels". The trick--for all of us--is to learn to transcend our boundaries in our sharing, to start seeing each other as fellow human beings. Of course, there appears to be an inherent chicken-and-egg failing to this reasoning, yet I maintain that it can--and must, for our species's sake-- start somewhere.

And so, I am working hard not to engage in debate but to share Story. And I fail. A lot. But to keep trying in hopes of success is all I can do. And I know that I can't force anyone to share Story with me. But what I do know is that I'm not responsible for what others do, only what I do. And if I have the option of choosing actions that make the world a worse place, and the world a better place, then I am going to do the latter.

I am one of the poorest persuaders I know. It is not my forte. All I can do is ask you to think about what I say, and I will think about what you say.
17 March 2011 @ 06:02 pm

If you were going to make a signature drink that was named after you, what would you put in it?

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There doesn't seem to be a name for one of my favourite drinks--ginger ale, cranberry juice, twist of lime--so name that after me.  But ginger ale is ridiculously--and to me, surprisingly--hard to find in a bar.  I've had a bartender fake it with Sprite and bitters, and that seems to make a suitable substitute.
13 March 2011 @ 08:45 pm
"Get better, don't just get by."

He also led me to read about the Rosenhan Experiment, and from there I read about the work of Nelly Bly.

Diagnosis means you are given a label, and you are told that you will have this label for the rest of your life.  And some of the racial and socioeconomic issues that have been documented in studies like the ones I mentioned ring very true to my experience.

I have much to consider.
Current Mood: thoughtfulthoughtful
12 March 2011 @ 10:18 pm
I've been decompressing from the trip to Indiana the past couple of days, and haven't got round to posting til now.

I am frankly disturbed and frightened by the near total loss of civility, compassion, and empathy in our culture at the moment.  I really don't know what else to say about this, except that If we have not the hope that things can get better, that we can learn (relearn?) to be civil, to cooperate, to build something good for the benefit of all, then we have already doomed ourselves.  We should just drop the bombs now.

I, for one, am not going to give up hope.
Current Mood: determineddetermined
Current Music: "Free Again" --Time Is Up
07 March 2011 @ 06:28 pm
Distance provides perspective.

Change is not change if it is only a lateral change.

Kids need breathing room to be kids.

Savour the good moments--sacar la vida.

The sense of smell may have the strongest memory, but the sense of taste is pretty dang close.

Someone may love you but not know how to love you.
Current Mood: relaxedrelaxed
Current Music: Around the World--ATC
04 March 2011 @ 04:05 pm
You cannot change people.  You can only speak to them and hope they paid heed.  This is very frustrating when you see people hurting themselves and each other.
Current Mood: pensiveresigned
03 March 2011 @ 12:59 pm
They say you can't go home again.  You really can't.  You change, but home stays eerily the same.

I'm at the public library here.  Had to get away from home and catch up a bit.  Also, I'm using Facebook to coordinate plans with friends.  (Irish Lion, yum!)

I'm more convinced than ever that, though Bloomington raised me, Minneapolis is Home.