Monthly Archive: February 2009

Destruction of the World Corporate Structure

I wrote this for a group of hard core youth who were into anarchy:

Injustice reigns in the earth. Capitalism is corrupt, only granting freedom to the wealthy, while the poor get ground in the dust. The 200 wealthiest people in the world, all heads of corporations, control 40% of the world’s wealth, while the poorest 20% of the world live on 1% of the world’s wealth. The 40 wealthiest Western nations have 85% of the world’s wealth.

Perhaps such disparity in the world today wouldn’t be so bad if the governments and corporations of the world were concerned with justice in the world and providing equity for the poor. Instead, the wealthy of the world use their economic power as the whip on the backs of the oppressed.

The developing countries of the world are required to pay a huge amount of interest on loans, and so unable to pay back the loans, and thus their people starve. On the other hand, the United States has a trillion-dollar debt that they can refuse to pay, if they want. The corporations of the West use Chinese labor to do the menial tasks that the workers of the West find demeaning or that don’t pay enough. Then the Chinese oppress their people, telling them where to work, how to worship, where to live and how many children to have. The world corporations are creating oppression as well in Vietnam, Mexico, Haiti, Bangladesh, Singapore, and multitudes of other developing nations. And all this, while not discouraging them to cease the oppression of ethnic, religious and political minorities. (more…)

Facebook as a tool against repression

cross posted from As of Yet Untitled

Last Sunday, a friend of mine got up and shared about the detention of Philip Rizk, a German-Egyptian activist and journalist. Phil had roomed with my friend at Wheaton College and was a best man at his wedding. And now he was in secret detention in Egypt. Two days before he was picked up by an unmarked vehicle during a Gaza solidarity protest. The Egyptian police weren’t giving out any information as to his whereabouts. The only information his family could get was confirmation that he was being held.

What could friends in the US do to support Phil? Like many, they turned to Facebook. In recent years, Facebook has become a tool of choice for campaigners around the world, including Egypt. Last October, Wired magazine ran an extensive article on Egyptian activists who were organizing on Facebook to challenge the repression of the Egyptian government. Now, people from around the world joined the Free Philip Rizk group on Facebook.

For those not familiar with Facebook, it describes itself as a tool for mapping social relationship. When friends of Phil began inviting their friends to join the Free Phil group, these friends in turn could invite their own friends to join at the click of a button. Some people replaced their profile photos with a Free Phil banner so that anyone looking at their profile would see the image. By the time I saw the group on Monday morning there were thousands of members. As of today, there are 7,662 members.

But what’s the point of all this virtual organizing? What good does it do? (more…)

What Men Want: a Valentine’s Day Primer and Quiz Show

The following is both an advice guide and pop-culture quiz. On the one hand, young ladies will learn what men are really thinking (it’s not that hard…) and on the other hand it’s a game that you can earn points with. I don’t have a degree or anything so I’m using all my relationship examples from Hollywood movies and TV shows which are made by liberals and people who are exceedingly arrogant. I’m sure they know what they are doing…Anyway, each pop-culture reference has points associated with it that you can earn if you can identify them and tell me what movie or TV show they are from. (I will award partial points if you can only get some of the movies in each piece of advice)

Number 1: Men want women who are hot. Of course, you knew this. But here’s the thing, we don’t woman who are too hot. Okay, okay, sure…we like hot chicks. But while we all want to be in Inara’s bed, it’s Kaylee who’s getting the ring. Hot, but cute. The fact is, Inara tries real hard, which means she’s high maintenance. But Kaylee is cute as button covered in Engine grease. (15 points) (more…)

YAR’s word cloud as interpreted by Wordle

This evening while browsing the 5 Best Data Visualization Projects of the Year I came across Wordle, a wonderful tool for building word clouds.

What are word clouds? We’ve actually already got our own rather dull cloud of post tags tag cloud way down there on the right hand column. In this case the categories most often used are larger and the categories less often used are smaller.

The first cloud below is based on all the words in recent posts on YAR and the second on all recent comments on YAR. The bigger the word, the more often it is used. I think you’ll agree its a fun and informative look.:

YAR posts
Wordle: YAR - Feb 9, 2008
YAR comments
Wordle: YAR comments - Feb 9, 2008
Note that both of these representations are fleeting as they change as soon as the next comment or post is added.

technology and worship: part 3

(I’m still thinking about our use of technology in worship. This post continues my earlier thoughts: Part 1 and Part 2)

The best books on technology and worship offer methods for carefully appropriating devices that contribute to the unique form of a congregation’s worship. Technologies should not be imposed from above, but should arise from the communal discernment of the church. I’ve already offered two authors who take this route (see links above).

While I appreciate these critical investigations into the liturgical use of technology, they aren’t haunted by the voices that I can’t get out of my head. They haven’t yet exorcised the histories of terror that come with each bit of technology. From their explorations, one is left assuming that devices magically appear in catalogs and electronic stores like Best Buy and Circuit City. But we know that technologies are not creatio ex nihilo. They have a history; they come from somewhere; and they materially remember what we would like to forget.

Walter Benjamin, the tormented Jewish Philosopher, teaches us to be honest about the history of oppression that produces the cultural achievements that we enjoy. In his essay, “Theses on the Philosophy of History” (see Illuminations, pp. 253-264), Benjamin describes how the barbarism of progress delivers to our doorstep the useful fruits of civilization:

Whoever has emerged victorious participates to this day in the triumphal procession in which the present rulers step over those who are lying prostrate. According to traditional practice, the spoils are carried along in the procession. They are called cultural treasures… For without exception the cultural treasures [the observer] surveys have an origin which he cannot contemplate without horror. They owe their existence not only to the efforts of the great minds and talents who have created them, but also to the anonymous toil of their contemporaries. There is no document of civilization which is not at the same time a document of barbarism. And just as such a document is not free of barbarism, barbarism taints also the manner in which it was transmitted from one owner to another.

The record of civilization is also a record of barbarism. (more…)