Wednesday, April 25

Access to the Experts

"Green chemistry is replacing our industrial chemistry with nature's chemistry book." - Janine Benyus

I sometimes wish I could schedule my time so that I can attend the lectures, concerts, gallery openings of great thinkers, scientists, artists and designers. Two websites give me the opportunity to do this.

On TED, there are audio/video presentations on a wide variety of themes, including art and photography. I am uplifted by biologist, Janine Benyus, quoted above, who gave the speech, "12 Sustainable Design Ideas From Nature." She explores the concept of integrating the elegant and efficient natural processes with human processes. Her talk reveals startling product design solutions.

On Listeningtowords, you can hear/see a lecture on almost any subject. Not all of the formats are easily accessible and sometimes the quality is not great, but there are some gems. I listened to former UN ambassador and US Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright, discuss "Promoting Democracy: Fourteen Points for the 21st Century." Hearing her forthright and clear discussion of the past and present pathways to a democratic world is enlightening. She confirms my belief that the Bush family's Iraq war fetish is the wrong path and will have unrealized consequences for years to come. Her insights on North Korea and the United Nations are interesting. This video and others are well worth the time spent listening. I like being able to replay portions or the entire presentation to better understand concepts discussed.

Both websites provide audio/video presentations by experts in every field of endeavor. Isn't the Internet great! Check them out.

Tuesday, April 17

Something So Ordinary...

...looks sinister today. Something we do every day, like take the stairs to our home, or to work, or to a classroom takes on a darker, deeper resonance after yesterday's Virginia Tech killings.

I live in Los Angeles, home of the LA Riots. The threat of someone going off the rails and shooting at me on the freeway or evading police and crashing into me is part of the landscape. I believe the term "going postal" might have been coined in this city and let's not forget the 1997 North Hollywood bank robbery and shoot out. All of these violent acts and many more contribute to the pervasive caution and unfriendliness of people who live in this area. This city is urban with a capital "U" and only those of us with well honed avoidance skills and short memories can tolerate it. Mayhem is shocking but not uncommon here, but it is uncommon in places like Columbine, Colorado, and Blacksburg, Virginia.

These towns are heartland icons that have had their hearts ripped out and eaten by thrill seeking, suicidal psychopaths. There is no defense against these people. There is no way for ordinary, reasonably well-balanced people to understand these people and that's a fact. Blaming the university, or law enforcement, or anything but the killer is wrong.

Only the money-hungry media benefits from speculating on blame and this blame game inflicts even greater injury on the families of those killed and injured. They get to relive the nightmare on TV, radio, and the internet for days, weeks and even years. Their beautiful children are not people with personalities but "victims" of horror. Their loved ones are not famous for the ordinary and good lives they lived. They are forgotten while the killers are made immortal. We know every detail of the lives and thoughts and writings of the killers, but we know nothing about the accomplishments of those that were shot. This is what the media and those that profit from the media do to our people. We've become a vulture culture. It's all about the biggest bang for the buck and nothing spells m-o-n-e-y like a spectacular death.

Poet Nikki Giovanni, delivered the wisest words today. She suggested that this disaster is as horrifying and senseless as the killing of ordinary people in Baghdad or in Darfur or in tsunami ravaged Thailand. She urged "Hokies" to be strong and resiliant and to continue living worthwhile and beautiful lives. She urged her community to focus on the gifts these people brought to the world before they passed on and to cherish their lives, to comfort their families and transcend the grief. Good advice for the future. Right now, we are all horrified and praying for relief from sadness and fear.

4/19/07 Update: Greiving parent asks us to remember the victims not the killer

Friday, April 13

Junk Food for the Mind

It's bad for you!

Time to go on a mental diet, America, and cut out the empty calories and toxic waste we love to consume. It's not just Imus that needs to go.

Sunday, April 8

Requiem for an Avocado Plant

Well, I am not a good gardener. The pretty little avocado plant that I grew on my windowsill from a seed is dead. It was drown in the last Los Angeles rainstorm and all attempts to revive, resurrect, rejuvenate the little guy were failures! I took a look at it this morning, hoping that the miracle of the resurrection might resonate with the spindly, dried out carcass of this avocado plant, but the lights are out and nobody's home in there.
I suppose the energy of every life form never really leaves the universe. It infuses every structure and being with the urge to create, to regenerate, to contribute and so much more. Today is a good day to think about this transformation or resurrection and reflect on the profound lessons and example of Christ and nature.
May all beings know love and peace.

Sunday, April 1

No Place Like Home

Well, we're back among the crazy folks in So Cal - very sad that the Bruins lost in the NCAA semifinals and just in time for the Burbank fire. We're still sweeping up ashes that fell from the smokey air on Thursday. Also, experienced some major computer problems which we are still trying to solve - ahhhh! Life in the fast lane ' -D!!