Tuesday, December 21, 2010
Tuesday, November 30, 2010
Greenberg: What do you want to be the result of this release?
Assange: [Pauses] I'm not sure.
Tuesday, November 9, 2010
Sunday, November 7, 2010
Monday, November 1, 2010
Assertion: If there ever was any doubt that Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert are anything but liberal comedians, I felt like the recent "Rally" tore that cover off completely. The rally was clearly held in reaction to conservative groundswell and attended by an unabashedly liberal audience. Maybe my problem is that I just don't think either of them are that funny (And that, yet more proof perhaps, that they are liberal!).
Interesting: Today I used "Project Vote Smart's" EasyVote web tool to gauge who I would vote for if I had happened to have moved and registered in PA in time. Try it here: http://www.votesmart.org/voteeasy/#
The tool displays the candidates for federal office and a menu of issue questions above. As you work your way through the questions, the tool gives you a "% similar" for each candidate in real time, adjusting up and down as you complete the survey. I found with the candidates in front of me, I began with something of a bias in regards to who I thought I should be voting for. But when I concentrated on answering each question, however un-nuanced, exactly the way in which I generally think about them, the % match between candidates was surprisingly similar, no more a 10% spread between the front-runners.
Sunday, October 31, 2010
Wednesday, September 29, 2010
This past week I witnessed an interesting trend that I thought deserved some thought. At my college fellowship our campus minister started in on a series on Christian Identity based on passages from the book of John. Then at the church I attended on Sunday I was surprised to hear the pastor announce his new sermon series entitled: "I Am: Finding your identity in God." This was an interesting coincidence but it didn't turn into a trend until I talked to a friend of mine that afternoon over lunch and learned that he had also received a sermon on "Finding your Identity" at the church he had attended!
Apparently, pastors throughout the area have decided this fall is a season of identity crisis. Well, I hear you Reverends, I'll be working on it!
Monday, September 27, 2010
You be the judge!
Tuesday, August 24, 2010
Tyler's parents were the hipster types, so we kids ran wild. We stampeded from room to room, firing rubber bands at each other and barricading the doors against Tyler's sister. From his bedroom window Tyler pointed out the rooftop where a woman sunbathed topless. Below us, the alley provided ample targets for his wrist rocket. Sirens wailed, and I thought they must be coming for us, but he just laughed.
"The house two doors down caught fire," Tyler informed me, "and the guy died. Want to see it?" His dad led the way into the burnedout house. The fire chief, they said, had found the asphyxiated violinist with the stub of a cigarette still in his hand. Within hours after the last fire truck had left, scavengers ransacked the house for anything of worth. Tyler's dad finally boarded up the house, giving what dignity he could to his deceased neighbor.
I kept thinking about the elderly musician asleep on the couch as flames engulfed the pile of newspapers at his feet. An old upright piano stood blackened in one corner of the room. There were piles of sheet music, smoky but otherwise preserved. Tyler was getting bored. I shook off the sordid feeling that clung to me like soot, and we rushed off to shoot marbles at the alley cats.
—Asa Church is currently sailing on the Chesapeake. He teaches eighth grade but dreams in poetry and prose.
Wednesday, June 2, 2010
Tuesday, June 1, 2010
Bonnie Berkowitz writes in the Washington Post "In Louisiana, damage from the oil spill can be deceiving" http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/05/31/AR2010053103113.html
Thursday, May 20, 2010
Wednesday, May 19, 2010
Tuesday, May 18, 2010
Monday, May 17, 2010
Would you believe that I yell at my kids? Even worse, argue with them? Would you believe that I even sometimes goad them, taunt them, make fun of them in front of their classmates and intentionally try to shame them? (sometimes a sense of shame would be a relief) I do all these things. And that is an area of repentance since what my students need most of all, and admittedly it is the hardest thing to give, is love.
I teach 8th grade students in an inner city school. For some people, that is a pardon more than sufficient for all of my sins. I'm not sure I agree or am willing to let myself off the hook. But then that's not what worries me the most. Because ultimately all of it probablydamages me more than any of my tough skinned students. They do care -that's a lesson I had to learn -but not nearly as much as me. I'll beat myself up at letting them beat me up, then say things I regret and beat myself up some more. Most of all, I'll just feel angry and ugly inside. This can no longer be.
Friday, May 14, 2010
Even as a teacher, I am unsympathetic to the mostly Union led outcry over salary freezes in education.
Wednesday, April 28, 2010
Sunday, April 25, 2010
Sunday, April 18, 2010
At the back of the church
Holding the weight of the world
And it's curse
And all of the problems
And all of the hurt
That couldn't be made new
By the man in the hearse.
During the service
They sang his praise
How he gave up belongings
And his space
Called everything nothing
Only to exchange
For water and bread
His mountain of simple ways.
Thursday, April 15, 2010
While Russia's suspension of U.S. bound adoptions in response may be a more political move along the lines of similar posturing in China, it should revive in us a passion for adoption of American children by Americans. Legal red tape needs to be cleared, the rights of adoptive parents protected, and the overall cost and time of adoption reduced. The average cost of adoption through, for example, Catholic Charities is $20,500 according to their website. It may not be true, but my understanding has long been that American couples adopt overseas at a much higher rate than they otherwise would because of the difficulty in adopting an American born child.
4\19 I want to add that this is not so much a matter of an America first argument, or even a take care of our own thing. Instead it is a matter of common sense. Why go overseas when there are so many children who need homes right here in front of us? Save on airfare and avoid international law issues. I can think of some other reasons, legitimate or not, why Americans might prefer foreign adoption. 1) Perhaps there is a quiet fear of having to face birth parents later in life, a complication that while embraced by some, is incredibly intimidating to others. Foreign adoption, you would think, reduces this risk. 2) Foreign adoption leaves adoptive parents with the warm feeling of giving a home to a foreign child who might otherwise live in squalor while being choosy about physical ailments and disabilities. One of the cases in this story from CNN is a direct counter to this though.
3) Many of the children available for adoption or in need of adoption here in the United States are African American living in poverty. A majority of adoptive parents in the United States are Caucasian and upper middle class. (by my estimate)
Wednesday, April 14, 2010
Wednesday, March 10, 2010
Tuesday, March 9, 2010
Route 295 in New Jersey particularly north of the North-South Freeway has long been legendary in the Church household, even more so now with the construction between exits 28 and 32- we have dubbed it the "13th" Wonder of the Modern World.
Who of you haven't been driving south near Woodcrest Station when invisible ropes pull you into a lane that you have no intention of entering. "Keturah, what are you doing.?! Stay in your lane." Only to find the very same thing happening to me the next day at the same spot. Freaky!!
The other day returning from the infamous "Springdale Road" what should appear directly ahead but a miniature man filling potholes with black grit- you know the stuff that lasts the maximum of 12 hours. Whew, swerve a little to the right and I just miss him.
My favorite game along 295 is "chicken". You know when you merge into 65 mph traffic (wait I thought the speed limit was 45 mph in construction zones) from a dead stop- how long is the line behind me??? Or when you are in the lane being merged into- do I slow down, speed up, or close my eyes? My favorite tactic is to shout aloud, "Don't you dare go now" as I pass. The other night it didn't work. Keturah and I were on the way to Medford Lakes in the pouring rain. She was having a pleasant conversation with a nameless college admissions' counselor (power of cellular) concerning a favorite archaic college tradition much loved by the alumni as we approached a car getting ready to merge and I yelled "Don't you dare" and he did. No chance to stop in the squeaky Chevy, no idea what is on my left. GAS It YOU GEEZER!!!! Not a chance! Sure collision!? Now this is one of the mysterious properties of 295- the expected never happens. I honk (weakly). Well at least he ought to know that he should have been rear ended. Keturah to the admissions' counselor, "My mom just almost ploughed into another car." Mom yells, "No, he almost side swiped me." Admissions' counselor doesn't miss a beat in his dramatic tradition description. "Oh rats, maybe my headlights aren't working and he didn't see me. Exiting at Route 70, "No, headlights are on." OK, what is the story? Phantom car? Your guess is as good as mine. Praise on the refrigerator, "avoided an unavoidable car accident.
Last Friday night goes to the top of my list of 295 experiences. Yes, the night of the Salao tournament. Not up for 3 hours of sitting on the bleachers waiting game after game, I opt for a period drama in the comfort of home and at 1:30 AM head out to catch the last couple of games. 295?? Tempted to do the roundabout Haddonfield way, but take courage and 295 it. Too many potholes, so I take the express cattle shoot. I always wonder what happens if you break down in this lane-nowhere to go. Lots of trucks heading south to the left- can't they dim their headlights- police action on the right and no you won't believe this one, I hardly did, a horse galloping along the median toward me. I try to slow the car as he moves toward my lane. I check my rearview to be sure no one is following closely. As I return my gaze ahead, something flies toward my windshield and hits it with a thud. I am so surprised I almost duck, but thankfully I keep my nerve and stay on the road shaking in disbelief. After that I have no more "visions" of galloping horses the rest of the way to Bethel. As I get off the highway, I seriously doubt that anything really happened and am convinced that I am really too old for these late night excursions. Upon arriving at the tournament, all is forgotten as audible cheering from the gym changes 2 AM gloom to mid-day clarity.
Next morning, of course, I think it must have been a dream. Upon jumping in the car to deliver some forgotten basketball shoes, I see a substance streaked on the windshield in front of the passenger seat. Investigating, I wipe a sticky pumpkin smelling substance on my hand. What can this be? In a hurry though, so I wipe the pulpy stuff from my hand and mind and am convinced that it must have nothing do to with any incident last night.
Today 295 again, traveling south and there it is again that infamous streak of green spray paint that I see every time I am heading south just north of Haddonfield – Berlin Road exit. But this time not far from it, I also see what looks like a squished orange pumpkin plastered along the shoulder. 295 legends live on!
But then is it always so?
Example two: David Letterman is off the hook after sleeping around with co-workers because the jealous boyfriend was stupid\insincere enough to ask for money for his silence. But what if the guy had simply spread the news? The difference in this case is that it was true. I hardly feel like 6 months of jail, 4.5 years of probation and 1,000 hours of community service is fair given the situation.
Read more about it here
Granted, I don't know what all was in the blackmail letter, but I get the moral of the lesson:
Call the bluff, laugh off your slimy behavior, and if your funny, and you have money, you've got it made honey!
Thursday, March 4, 2010
Wednesday, March 3, 2010
Monday, February 22, 2010
Tuesday, February 9, 2010
Friday, February 5, 2010
Saturday, January 30, 2010
These are the days of regret
Thursday, January 28, 2010
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
I have noticed that a lot of politicians operate under the premise that if the "message" is properly communicated the poor huddled masses will see the light and wisdom of their agenda. On second thought, maybe this is not so much a feature of politicians but academic elites. This type of person possesses a keen sense of their own abilities and the rightness of their opinion coupled with a low regard for the average and less educated American. But ironically, they demonstrate a naive sense of human goodness and moral spirit. Can I be so bold as to suggest that in some ways I am describing "gentry liberalism"?
I have always held the strong suspicion that no matter how much we "communicate" there will be significant disagreements and a general breakdown between idealist notions and the day to day demands of regular people. Surely there is a relationship between this conservative viewpoint and my own Calvinistic convictions of an all pervasive human depravity. A world of good can be done by just talking, by genuine communication. Dialogue can lead to empathy, empathy to understanding, and understanding to compromise. But only sometimes. And if people don't seem to like your message, maybe they just don't like it.
Saturday, January 23, 2010
I enjoyed the blockbuster Avatar immensely tonight. The computer graphics and 3D effects are clearly without parallel and set a new bar. My wife astutely pointed out that the use of 3D is very tasteful, unlike many previous movies. Instead of gimmicky "jump out of your seat" moments that make the 3D obtrusive, the movie was content to let the effects highlight the amazing "natural" scenery of the movie.
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
Saturday, January 16, 2010
I have recently gone through the greatest trauma of my life.
Who would have thought that the miles between exit 36b on 295 and exit 26 could contain such a strange destiny as I made my way home one late night.
What you are about to hear is a true story. Please do not be deceived by the strangeness of this adventure. I would have trouble believing it myself if the handcuff marks upon my wrists didn’t force me to believe the dreamlike events of last night.
So here goes…
I left Maranatha in the darkening gloom with never a thought that this drive would be any different from any other. And besides accidentally getting on to the ramp for 295 north and having to back out of it while hoping I wouldn't get rear-ended....nothing strange happened for quite a while.
So I was driving along pretty normally at a pretty speed of 90 mph listening to the sounds of Q102 and musing on many wondrous things, when this car in front of me, who I'd been quickly approaching but still had some distance on me does something that cars are not supposed to do...
It was one of those real old minvans...(you know the boxy hippy ones???)
So...ok hold on to your seats people...
He slows down and TURNS his FLIPPIN van sideways in the middle of the stinking HIGHWAY!!!! I repeat!!!! He turned his van sideways and just STOPPED, BLOCKING the WHOLE highway!!!!
yeah!! thats what I thought....heck I was so surprised I almost forgot to hit the brake!! Like what the FLIP is going on??? what is this? a bus stop???
As you may well imagine I was pretty confused and quite at a loss at what to do....As I slowly gazed at the unfolding scene, my mouth frozen in the actions of singing "So what, I'm still a rockstar....."
It was like...gosh, I was just waiting to wake up and figure what I'd crashed into!!!!
Well...I've had a lot of time to think over what happened in the next minutes or so....and having to explain the story multiple times while under custody has definitely forced me to get my facts right....
So I managed to narrow down the facts of what happened to a couple points...
1. Minivan pulls sideways blocking highway.
2. Old geezer (one of those skinny but spry looking ones...) with big white mustache gets out sets flares at strategic spots around van.
3. Pulls several potted shrubs and small trees out of van and places them around van.
this is the part that really made my mouth drop...like no lie....the radio went OFF at this point...
So the dude pulls a can of SPRAY paint out of his van and begins to paint on the side of his minvan in lurid Green letters:
STOP DRIVING SAVE THE TREES
can somebody smack me????
As I stared at the words staring back at me, even the increasing shouts, screams, honks, and other assorted vocal expressions of anger that came from all the cars behind me slowly receded into a mixed hodgepodge of incredulity....
A freaking tree-hugger??? What is this California??? I'm in NEW JERSEY for heaven's sake!!!!! What is this ol’ dude doing here???
thats all I'm saying kids...
The next part of the story gets bit blurry for me, but here goes...
Well, you can guess the crowd wasn't exactly as content to stare in wonderment as I was, so I was soon awakened from my reverie by an approaching mob of people with obvious violent intent to remove the old man and his van.
Now I have never been a hero or anything but I've never enjoyed watching an unfair fight....
Anyway...somehow I found myself approaching the old geezer (who had succeeded in painting a large portion of himself green by this time) with some vague thought of mediating the impending argument...
The thing is, the dude wasn't the old hippie I had thought he was...
So he reaches into the back of his van and pulls out a pistol (one of those old looking revolver kinds?) and a shotgun.
HEre's the part you're going to have to bear with me on...
its kind of hard to explain....
So...well he chucks the pistol to me right? and says something...like I dunno....all I could think of at that point while I stared at the loaded pistol chilling in my unresisting hands was the same song over and over again "SO What, I'm still a Rockstar!" again and again.... I raised my eyes to see rows of patrol cars pull up and surround us....
I mean...I've never thought too much about being a rebel, breaking the LAW......OUTLAWRY.....but what was I doing??
You may be thinking right now, "Aijalon you are a stupidhead!" but please understand, when in your a crazy situation like that....and its happening a lot faster...your mind just refuses to put your priorities in the right order...and you just can't reason correctly.... I dunno.
All I know is, when the old treehugger growled with a seasoned old chuckle, "You best get behind the van door for cover."
Something inside of me kind of went "I WANT OUT OF THIS SITUATION!!"
NExt thing I know I chuck the gun and jump on the ground yelling (the cops claimed that I was screaming in a very high pitched tone, but I don't think they liked me so don't believe that) "I DIDN'T DO IT" (again here the accounts vary...the police officer at the station insisted that I screamed "HE MADE ME DO IT!" but again...lies.)
Well..the rest of the story is history...
And while my upcoming court date sheds some gloom on the situation...the fact that I now have a story that will live to be told around my children's children's tables and doubtless be retold until it echoes in the halls of tall taledom brings me great satisfaction.
Whatever happens I know I will never forget the sight of that old man, covered in green spray-paint, being dragged away by two cops screaming at me, "THE TREES ARE ASHAMED OF YOU!!!!!!!!"
Perhaps his bony accusing finger will inspire me to an insanity like his one day......
Saturday, January 9, 2010
Much to my chagrin, Laura volunteered to adopt a hamster for her classroom right before Christmas. I could only imagine the cleaning, smells, and general inconvenience of being responsible for a rodent. Bringing it home on weekends and during breaks just didn't seem appealing.