Category Archives: News and Politics

Coverage of death in the Middle East

I have BBC news as my homepage on Firefox. It helps keep me aware of what’s happening in the world. Today the frontpage news is the Hajj Stampede. I don’t have much commentary on it specifically. I do know that there have been stampedes like this in the past, and it was never frontpage news, at least it wasn’t before 9/11.
This could be my own bias perception, but I did a quick search on CNN and here’s what I found: Between April 97 and December 99 (3 years) there where 19 stories about the Hajj Pilgrimage in general (searching for ‘Hajj Plgrimage’). In the past year (from Jan 05) there have been 27 new stories and most of them have to do with deaths, crime or weapons of some kind.
I know our interest in the Middle East has increased, but I fear our news coverage of it has leaned more towards the negative and violent coverage. I’m not trying to throw out any government conspiracies, but I worry about how convienent and desensitizing it is to us to hear that those our country seems to dub our “enemies” are killing each other anyways. I worry our negative coverage of Arabs in general is going to make our continued war on “terrorist” easy and cloudy; All Arabs are not terrorist.

Radiant Magazine and sexist assumptions

I’ve written for a number of times now. It’s a decent magazine, targeting 20-somethings with a focus on God, Life, and Progressive Culture. They have a lot of movie and music reviews and they try and stay on top of the latest trends.
Radiant Ad
Recently, the folks at Relevant started promoting a new magazine they would be releasing entitled, Radiant. Radiant Magazine as you can see from the site is geared towards women. What’s so terrible about a magazine geared specifically towards women? Nothing; the terrible thing is that it implies, that Relevant was/is geared toward men. I am not saying Relevant was, or is, a men’s magazine, I’m saying their choice of wording implies that it was.

Take a look at the ad for Radiant on Relevant’s homepage. It says, “It’s Our Turn Now.” Does this mean that Relevant was the “men’s” turn? Clearly the approach towards this new magazine does reveal that assumption (just like so much of our culture). Why wasn’t Relevant a level place for men and women? Why can’t guy’s learn to take turns in the same place, rather then forcing women to go off on their own to have a voice?

If Relevant is a magazine for 20-something males it should say MALES outright. Personally, I don’t think they had any intent for Relevant to be a ‘male’ mag, it’s their choice of wording that hint at the sort of assumption that ‘normal’ or ‘regular’ means male or oriented towards men.

Here I am a male ranting about these things, Do any females want to chime in?

Sharing our feelings on race

Every so often something comes up that brings race and racism to the fore front of many people’s minds. For many these topics are often at the forefront, for some of us white folk it sits absent in the back of our mind until something comes up.

For a lot of people I know, the issue recently came up, prompted by two different events. First, the issue of race was starkly brought up around the events of Hurricane Katrina. If folks didn’t pick up on it from the get-go, they most certainly did after Kanye West made his bold confession on national television. One of the major issues was the bias (though a LOT of people disagree on this) news stories. Also, for those with a little awareness, the clear overwhelming majority of people that where stuck in New Orleans and the slow response of aid should have been disturbing both from an economic and racial perspective.

Second, the movie Crash recently came out on DVD and was viewed by a number of my friends. It is a very in-your-face approach to a lot of race issues and problems. The movie lacks any clear attempt at a solution and that has both a positive and a negative effect. I think on a positive note, they recognized that there is not a simple solution and to attempt to convey one might come across as naive or ignorant. At the same time, the lack of any solution presented leaves some people feeling that there isn’t any solutions, but also that that is then okay and acceptable. I worry that too many people left that movie feeling that that is just the way life is, and that we are all good people in the end, so we shouldn’t make a big deal out of it.

I’m a well-to-do white male, so I’m the last person to be spouting my thoughts and opinions on race, but I will take every opportunity to speak up and add a voice to the cry for justice. There is FAR too much racism in the world today. We must all rise up to the challenge and respond. Do not sit silently as you hear a racist joke, speak up, at the expense of your own reputation, it must be stopped.

In light of all this, I was very interested in providing a way for people to share their personal feelings about race, and about how others have treated them in regard to race. I’ve always found the statement promoted for communication and conflict resolution: “I feel…When you…” I’ve put together a small website for people to have the opportunity to share those feelings and put them out in the open for others to read and learn from. Please stop by and add your feelings.

[Sharing your Feelings on race: “I Feel…When You…”]

It’s not just an article in Popular Science

One might say, “It’s just an article in Popular Science, not a statment on gender roles in all of society.” The truth is everything we say and do, and read and consume is a statement (and usually it has something to say one way or another about gender roles as well).

Basically, Ted Kehoe made some colorful bubbles that disappear, thus leaving no stains on furniture and carpets. So Popular Science did an article on it. The article (and this is nothing unique it happens a lot more then it gets pointed out) makes a LOT of gender role assumptions and inferences.

I’ll let A.Z. at the (S)hitlist tell you more:

“So Kehoe pulled out the old pots and powders and set about destroying [wife] Sherri’s new marble countertops.” Now, I thought when people buy a home together, the structural components are collectively owned. Sherri Kehoe must either be really selfish to claim those countertops as her own, or maybe she—like all women, of course!—lives in the kitchen and dreams of marble countertops at night. Clearly, Haney thought it relevant to his topic to communicate that Sherri is the sole owner of the marble countertops, right?

[Read the rest of the commentary]
[read the article]

Social Commentary

I think I’m going to add a new section of posts to this blog. Anytime I think about a different section I wonder if I should be writing seperate blogs. Right now we have a sort of tech/web side and a Faith/Christianity side. Something I’d like to add a bit more on is social commentary. Basically what I mean by that is posting about things that are out there, be it things in the media, stores, trends, etc that it’s worth taking a step back and thinking about. I have a few blogs I go to for my own intake of social commentary, and you’ll probably see me referencing them quite a bit. Here’s the brief list and some explanations.

Angry Asian Man– A lot of what he writes about has to do with Hollywood and movies, but he also post “That’s racist!” posts providing insight into all kinds of things for sale, media coverage, and more that is racist, particularly towards Asians. Definitly one of the more insightful blogs I read.

(S)Hitlist- I’m not a fan of the title of the blog, nor the title of the magazine it comes from (Bitch), but I am a huge fan of their content. I’ll leave the title commentary aside and just say that this list is one of my favorites and I really wish they would post more. Needless to say I really like the things that they have to write and you can be sure I’ll be referencing post from here nearly as often as they come.

Also on the list are some sites and publications that provide a lot of insight, but not currently in the concise, regular blog form.– Sojourners magazine is one of my absolute favorite. They are doing so much good in giving a voice to the large part of the Church that isn’t happy with the religious right. It’s always a pleasure to read their magazine.

Adbusters- Wonderful insight into our consumerist culture. Also not in blog form, but an amazing piece of art and literature.

Wittenburg Door– The only satirical Christian publication that I know of (think of a Christian Mad Magazine). (oh I should throw in Lark News too).

Geez Magazine– Also worth noting, I just got their first issue, so I’m sure I’ll have a lot to say about that soon.

I’m sure there are more I would add I just can’t think of right now. Stay tuned though and let me know what you think of my post.

A list of Definitly NOT Free Trade

Here are somethings I think might fall under the category of Fair trade, or probably more accurately “DEFINITLY NOT FREE TRADE.”

Minimum Wage. It’s too low still in my opinion, but it’s a big step towards human rights and away from the rule of the economic system. We have a minimum wage because we believe there is a certain pay the is dignified, below which is an oppressive payment.
The trouble is we don’t seem to care one iota about that carrying over to other countries.

Agriculture Subsidies. These aren’t fair, but the point is that they certainly aren’t “free.” The USA puts all kinds of restrictions on other countries and yet we subsidies our agriculture making it near impossible for outsiders to get in at a decent and fair price. The truth is that if we let the free market rule we would have NO farmers in the US because we couldn’t afford it. Our food supply would come from others, and they would be free to charge us what they would like for it as well.

Bankruptcy. This is a great element of Fair. In many countries a debt can be held and carried over to the children and grand children. Debt is a modern day slavery for many. The ability to declare bankruptcy and start again from zero is a commendable thing that are society has, but it’s certainly not Free Trade.

More on FAIR trade to come