Tennessee 2006 Election

Well folks, across the country, Election day is just around the corner. I’m amazed that Tennessee is as progressive as they seem to be in their effort to give everyone a chance to vote. Early Voting has been available for anyone and everyone to go to a number of locations throughout the city and cast their ballot for the two weeks leading up to election day, including Saturdays. Considering how un-democratic our Presidential elections have been, with one day, a work day, not an official holiday, most polls closing after business hours, on top of all the terrible fraud and deception you hear about across the country.
So, my hat goes off to Tennessee who I think our doing an excellent job of making this a truely democratic election.

I don’t want to write too much here, I’m hoping to encourage some discussion in the comments about the election and who folks are planning on voting for and why. I’ll give some material to start us off…

  1. I’m torn between voting for Ford and Lugo. Ford is your standard politician and I honestly think he won’t bring about much change from the status quo. Yet, the possiblity that he might have a chance of getting elected and actually set a precedent or new standard for African Americans in the Senate from southern states seems worthwhile.
    Chris Lugo, seems like the ideal candidate for me. I know him, he’s down to earth. He has an agenda of fighting for peace, promoting many great causes, and challenging the status quo of politicians. I have to believe in the world I want it to become and so I’m definitly leaning towards voting for Lugo. Some will say I’m throwing my vote away, but I believe you have to start somewhere.

  2. I’m disgusted that the Marriage Amendment thing even made it on the ballot. I’ll say it loud and clear, all you Christians who have been promoting and advocating for this amendment, you sadden me. I’m really ashamed to be affiliated with you. I don’t understand what you see as Christian about pushing your moral agenda on other people. The government can never be the means by which we promote or relugate our religious beliefs. You talk about Freedom in this country and yet you advocate it only for those who think and believe like you. That’s not freedom at all. Vote NO on 1.

Any thoughts on my thoughts?

Pushing the podcast: Recent Minutes with Ariah

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I haven’t had time to sit and type as much this week, but I have been putting a lot of short podcast up at the new A Few Minutes with Ariah (the podcast). I figured I should take a minute to pitch it to you so you know some of what inticing sound bits are available:

A short Economic Lesson in Opportunity Cost – You might have learned about it in High School, but let me explain how it should impact your life. Be warned though, it forces you into some pretty troubling conclusions.

First in line at a Buffett for 6 Billion – Close your eyes and imagine with me for a moment… And may it challenge you in how you live today.

No Poor, No Wars? Applying Scripture would be hard! – Some people reference Jesus saying “The Poor will always be among you” as an excuse to not do anything about poverty, I say it’s a blessing from the Lord to help us idiots follow Christ better.

Don’t base your convictions on Probable outcomes – It’s the basic idea of not letting the Ends justify the Means, and yet we as Christians seem to do it all the time. And we call ourselves a people of faith!

The War supporters have their age-old Question to ask the pacifist, now us pacifist have one for you.

For all you email subscribers, the audio for each of the podcast I describe above are embedded right into the blog so you should be able to play the clips right at http://blog.iamnotashamed.net or you can visit the podcast listing at Evoca, or Odeo, or iTunes

Quick, Ariah, Say something Important!

I’ve made a few changes to Trying to Follow, as you can see. The new layout seems to be working well. Hopefully you like it (tell me if you don’t). I also haven’t been posting as much, my way of recognizing that you probably don’t have all the time in the world to read my writings.

I also fixed up my feed/subscription set up and consolidated things. To my shock I found that about 83 people are subscribed to my blog. That means by email, feed readers, etc. about 80 people check up on what I’m writing and posting each day. That doesn’t include the countless others that stumble across my site on a search for images on “tagging” (by far my most popular search referral). The numbers are quite overwhelming.

As far as podcasting goes, I’ve also made a change. In the constant struggle to find time and a consistent co-host for any sort of regularly scheduled broadcasting. Instead, I’ve started to do my own short little daily podcast, which I usually do by phone (sorry about the sound quality):
A Few Minutes with Ariah

I’ll still post a seperate podcast for Trying to Follow when I have longer more in depth audio with co-host and other folks. But for now, if you want to hear some daily thoughts with me, just subscribe to the one above. No more then ten minutes a day normally.

I also found from the little design survey (view results) that people search this site in all sorts of different ways. So, I’m trying to clean up my categories and tags to make browsing easier for you.

That’s about it for the update here. I haven’t had as much time to punch on the keys, but I have been doing the podcasting a bit, so here is the latest:

How not to celebrate Halloween Stereotype Reinforcement Day

It’s that time of year again. By some bizarre aligning of the moons at the end of October, our society as a whole decides to toss aside thoughts of political correctness, takes off our discrimination filtering glasses and attempts to dumb down our views of people to the lowest common discriminator.
Usually the kids turn out semi-okay. Their costumes reflect the gender stereotypes we and Hollywood have been trying to instill in them at an early age. The girls dress up as princesses and fairies and anything else pretty. We give the boys guns and capes and encourage the machoism out of them. If your girl wants to strut her power she has Catwomen, Supergirl or Violet from the Incredibles to choose from. And your pretty much out of luck if your boy wants to be an angel.
Personally, I think Halloween should probably remain only a kids holiday. It was very likely the carnal instinct that we frown upon in our civilized society that thought up the idea of adults dressing up for Halloween. Now, don’t get me wrong, I see nothing wrong with dressing up; costumes can be fun. Yet, take one glance in most costume stores or websites (actually, your better off not glancing), and you’ll find some indications of the worst thinking in our society.
I don’t really need to go into major details on the costumes that are so bad. It shocks me that we haven’t realized the great harm there is in stereotyping different people groups, regardless of if it is for one night a year. Dressing up as an ethnicity requires you harp on the characteristics most recognized and stereotyped about that people group, which in our extremely racist society, usually carries many negative connotations. Dressing up as different types of people, sometimes glamorizes very bad things (pimps and prostitutes are not living the lavish enjoyable lifestyles we pretend they live on halloween). Finally, as if women in our society didn’t already have enough oppression and discrimination to overcome in the workplace, ‘women as sex objects’ is strongly reinforced this time of year. You’d be hard pressed to find a female costume of any profession that isn’t designed to serve as a sex object. It baffles me that once a year we find it necessary to remind everyone of this terribly warped way of thinking.

And just to drive this point home even further, let me leave you with some great Questions to Ask Your Before Donning a Halloween Costume, from Tolerance.org:

Ask yourself: Is the humor based on “making fun” of real people, real human traits or cultures?

Though intended to be funny, last season’s “Mental Patient” costume by Disguise was considered demeaning, dehumanizing, and humiliating to individuals struggling with a mental illness and their families. Complete with a “Hannibal” type mask and a straightjacket, the costume reinforced stereotypes and fears about persons with mental illness.

Ask yourself: Is the “fear factor” based on real forms of violence or grotesque depictions of human traits?

“This scary stud can empty out a full house just by walking through the door,” touts the tag line for Fright Catalog’s “Vato Loco” mask. The bandana clad, tattooed, brown-skinned vinyl creation makes light of gang violence, which takes a serious toll on families and neighborhoods across the country. The costume also sends the message that Latinos are violent.

Ask yourself: If the costume is meant to be historical, does it further misinformation or historical and cultural inaccuracies?

The “Indian” get-up prevails each year as culture-turned-costume. But did you know few Native Americans wore buckskin and headbands and even fewer wore them together? Did you know “war paint” and feathers carry religious meaning and were never worn by Native American children?

Ask yourself: If the costume is meant to be beautiful, are these characteristics drawn from commercial references, such as movie characters?

Too often, beautiful at Halloween means white, blonde, princess masks. What statement does your Halloween costume make about what constitutes beauty — and about who is beautiful and who isn’t?

Ask yourself: Does the costume reduce cultural differences to jokes?

People like Leigha Baugham, a former communications student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, believe when it comes to picking Halloween costumes, we should “keep our hands out of the melting pot.”

So, with that, Have a Happy Halloween!

Team Hoyt: Father-Son Triathlon Team an Inspiration to All

The story of the Father and Son Hoyt.

This movie makes me bawl:

You can also watch a news clip about their story.

Visit their website.

Or watch another inspirational video about them.

A Brief overview: Basically this is a Father-Son team that compete in triathlons, full Iron-man Triathlons, not rinky dinky ones, together. You’ll understand together when you see the video
There are many inspirational videos out there, but often times I find inspirational videos a bit cheesy. This one always touches me. I think the song My Redeemer goes so well with it because that song really speaks to the heart of love that is shared. My Redeemer is a great song, and this is a great and inspirational video.

Jesus: “…even greater things than these…”

“I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.”

Usually when I hear folks mention this passage it’s with an attitude of “not sure what he meant, because that’s impossible.” I, on the other hand, seem to find Jesus’ words quite amazing and yet very believable. There are two reasons for this.

One, there are plenty of miracles occuring today. Most of us sitting in our wealth, independent society in the USA have not been privileged to experience the miraculous hand of God in people’s lives, quite the same as it was at work in Jesus’ time. The academics in our society have explained miracles away as a thing of the past, and for us with all our modern technology we don’t see much of a need for a miracle to occur here.
Take a short trip to a great many other places throughout the world and you’ll find out pretty quickly (whether you believe people or not is our choice), that miracles certainly seem to be happening today. I won’t go much into this, because I think we have some strong opinions on these things, but I would argue, there are a lot of folks out there that will testify to God being at work through physical miracles of healing and more.

Second, and this is one that applies to most of us, I think we have each been given plenty of resources to do “greater things” in our lifetimes. I’m not talking about dying on the cross, or literally raising someone out of a grave, but many of the other things are miracles we can help make happen through donation. You could easily feed 10,000 people a meal in your lifetime. You can provide healing treatment for lepers, donate blood or bone marrow so noblemen’s sons might live. We have a great many resources in our midst, let’s make Jesus’ words a reality.

Ode to my mother

“I’ll love you forever,
I’ll like you for always,
as long as I’m living
my baby you’ll be.”

I’m not sure when my mom first started reading this book to me, but the words still bring tears to her eyes. Today is my mom’s birthday. This beautiful women who brought me into the world has spent close to half her life raising me. Words cannot express my gratitude and thankfulness I have for my parents, but I’ll try and say a few things to share what my mother has meant to me.

I used to chuckle sort of awkwardly whenever my mom would read a story to us that would make her cry (Love You Forever, Goodnight Moon, and The Giving Tree to name a few). I guess back then I didn’t understand the depth of love my mom had for me or what those tears meant. Now, I cry whenever I read those words (frequently sent at the end of an email or card from my mom). One thing my mom has taught me is that emotions are okay. I can’t imagine what it would have been like being raised with the warped idea that “real men don’t cry.” I think I would have a lot more bottled up anger and agression then I do. I can remember many different occassions, sitting in my room, in the kitchen, on the side of the road, crying, and my mom was there with me, to comfort me, to listen to me, to allow me to feel, to truly feel. Thank you for teaching me it’s okay to cry.

Occassionly, I’ve heard the question asked, “what’s the most memorable saying or value you remember from your childhood.” I’m usually surprised by how many people’s most memorable things are negative. For me, by far the most memorable value I remember, and still hear today is that I can do anything. This is a strong testimony to my mom’s enthusiasm and pride in her children. To this day, my mom believes I could be an Astronaut or a professional baseball player if I decided to start now. Nothing is impossible for the children of my mother. And the amazing thing is, when you grow up hearing that, you really believe it. I really have always felt in life that I could accomplish anything I set my mind to. I should point out, that this was never done in a way that made me feel dissappointed at failure, I never felt pressure that I would let my mom down if I didn’t win, or make good grades, or become famous.

You see my mom was there rooting for me every step of the way. Her patented cheer could be heard on the sidelines of my soccer games, karate matches, football, track, graduation, wedding, and even on the phone when I accomplish things here. And her enthusiasm is quite contagious to be honest. When the youth I work with brought home some outstanding grades, I couldn’t help but jump off the walls and cheer like my mom always has for me. You can’t help but feel good about the things your doing and the things you’ve done when she’s there cheering you along. And it’s not just her cheering that let’s you know she’s interested in you.

My mom loves people. Someone wrote me a kind note once about how I made them feel special, I get that from my mom. When you meet my mom, and let her have a few minutes in conversation with you, you’ll go away thinking she might have mistaken you for some TV celebrity. I’m not talking about getting your autograph and taking a picture with you, but my mom loves talking to people and hearing their stories. She’ll ask you questions all night long over dinner and you’ll realize your boring and mundane job is much more exciting then you realized (I should note that my dad also loves people, and asks lot’s of questions. Quite lucky, and sometimes greatly intimidated, is the person who joins us for dinner and faces the interrogation that is my parents. Very loved to be sure). And the truth is, the questions, the interest, the love, it doesn’t get old. Many afternoons during high school went like this. I’d come home off the bus and make myself a bowl of cereal or some ramen noodles. Mom would already be home or arrive shortly there after and we’d talk for hours, about the day, about life, about crazy ideas. Many evenings continued in similar fashion. Me usually sitting on the counter in the kitchen, chatting away late into the night. I can’t even begin to remember all the things we talked about for hours on end. The truth is I think I did most of the talking, my mom just sat listening excitedly, asking more questions and helping me grow and think in ways I probably didn’t ever consider before.

My mom is creative, and we have the people painted on the garage door to prove it. I think I was in seventh or eigth grade when my mom painted those dancing stick figures on our garage. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t embarrased at first. It’s hard for a middle schooler to maintain his idea of coolness and conformity when someone was dropping him off at home. We have a sign in our house that I think reads, “A wacky wild wonderful woman lives here.” Looking back now I realize I had a much more exciting and colorful experience then many people. It’s as if most people grow up in black and white, and we grew up with full color blaring. My mom painted the walls all kinds of funky colors (before anyone else thought it was cool), we had palm trees in the basement, our mailbox, and even our toilet set was painted. My mom taught me to think outside the box, to ‘dare to be different’ (she even gave me a cool bookmark that said that). I know the creative energy that was always flowing through our house had a profound affect on me. It’s taught me to question authority, question conformity and the status quo, and those are all very good things. One of our family’s favorite books, The Giving Tree, really is about our family. My mom has taught me to love life, to live it to the full. This is no time to walk around worried about what other people think of you. Don’t just dream dreams, live them. Live your life in color.

Thank you Mom, I love you, Happy Birthday!

New Look and new features…

Thanks everyone for taking a minute and filling out the survey. If you haven’t I would really appreciate it if you could.
There will obviously be a few glitches along the way but I wanted to try something different, a little more friendly and readable. Let me know your thoughts. I’ll try and continue to make it as useful as possible, but I didn’t want all the clutter. Let me know if anything about it is distracting also.

One new thing I wanted to point out is that for a limited time I’ve been featuring some quotes on the sidebar (on the left) of the frontpage. The quotes are provided by my brother, Keane, which he posts on a xanga. I’d strongly encourage you to check them out here or subscribe to his blog so you can read them each day. Keane seems to find the most fascinating and awe-inspiring quotes around. You probably would do well to just read Keane’s quotes, rather then spending time reading lot’s of entire books.

Also, like I said I’m no longer posting the daily podcast as a blog post. If you want to get it daily you can come to the frontpage of the blog and listen there. Or you can subscribe or visit My Odeo Podcast. I hope you keep listening and let me know if we need a forum for discussion on the podcast posts. Right now I’ve started a “Why?” series on the podcast trying to discuss my own answers as to “Why” I do certain things, from where I choose to live, to what I eat, to why I ride that funky bike. Let me know if you have any other why questions for me.

More writing to come, I just need some motivation…