What the F*** Do You Think You’re Doing?

madonna.gifNot that I’m in to the retribution and revenge gig, but I thought this was pretty cool/funny. Madonna, it appears, has lent her talents to help her music pimp, Warner Music Group, by speaking an insulting phrase (cf. the title of this entry for an idea as to what it is.) and encoding it into mp3. Warner has uploaded the file under the various names of the tracks on her upcoming album, American Life.

According to this article on Yahoo, many of the denizens of the computing community did not take this very well. In retaliation, they defaced her website and now remixes of Madonna’s infamous query are circulating the web. There is even a site devoted to them, entitled The Madonna Remix Project.

Although I don’t think people should download music as a replacement for buying it, I think it could have a legitimate place in the music-listening experience. At any rate, I really don’t have much sympathy for Madonna, well, for several reasons, but her latest tactic at “combatting piracy” only served to lower her personal image still further, in my opinion.

Look below for more awesome pix of our wonder-diva!

Patriot Madonna

Boxing Madonna

Happy Birthday

Hubble_bday_pic.jpgThe Hubble space telescope is apparently thirteen years old today. I must say, this telescope has produced some of the most amazing pictures I have ever seen. Here is an article from ‘The Times’:

Hubble rides out a storm

Let the heavens praise your wonders, O LORD,

your faithfulness in the assembly of the holy ones.

For who in the skies can be compared to the LORD?

Who among the heavenly beings is like the LORD,

a god feared in the council of the holy ones,

great and awesome above all that are around him?

O LORD God of hosts,

who is as mighty as you, O LORD?

Your faithfulness surrounds you.

You rule the raging of the sea;

when its waves rise, you still them.

You crushed Rahab like a carcass;

you scattered your enemies with your mighty arm.

The heavens are yours, the earth also is yours;

the world and all that is in it – you have founded them.

-Psalm 89.5-11

DNA Discovered

watson_and_crick.jpgDNA was discovered fifty years ago today by an American and a British scientist. Here’s an article on what’s going on.

DNA Discovery’s 50th Anniversary Celebrated

I read the other day that it took a matter of days for scientists to figure out what virus was the cause of SARS, while it took several years to identify HIV as the antecedent to AIDS. It seems that since our discovery of DNA, we have been making extremely swift and significant progress in the field of medicine and its cognates like microbiology. I am just amazed at what has happened in the past fifty years in this regard.

Confused, and yet, not

Iraqis_protest.jpgAs you have probably heard, the first meeting of disparate Iraqi groups has occurred under the auspices of the United States in Nasiriya in order to begin the process of forming a new government. What puzzled me at first was the fact that this meeting was met by large numbers of Iraqi protesters and the refusal of the Supreme Council of Islamic Revolution (I really don’t like that name) to attend. From the outset of the war, I had assumed the actual process of forming a governemt, while difficult on the tribal/people-group level, would be relatively easy. I guess because the Afghan experience was relatively smooth.

So what’s the deal here? From what I could tell, the people who spoke out against the assembly all mouthed a similar refrain: any government involving the Americans is yet another colonial government ruled by tyrants. My initial reaction to this was bewilderment. The protesters are outside a building housing a meeting not of Americans and Britons trying to decide how they will run their newly conquered territory, but of a group of Iraqis representing virtually every major sector of the civilian population of Iraq. I was very confused.

I imagine that if you ask the average American, they’d express absolutely no interest in America’s “occupying” Iraq for any amount of time. What’s crazy is that that scenario isn’t even on the radar. Not even considered. And yet the Arab world is buzzing with such talk. I think the Arab press is largely to blame for this, with the loaded language that is used so freely.

But once I thought about the situation a little more, I came to an uneasy understanding. (WARNING: I’m going to cuss right here, so skip a line, if you need to) Throughout the twentieth century, we totally fucked up the Middle East. I considered using another verb for that statement, but I could think of no other that was so apt. Especially in the seventies, it seems, we really were messing things up and we set up these governments run by insane megalomaniacs… I just don’t know what we were thinking. I think part of what was going on was our frantic policy of “containment” during the Cold War. It just seems we were willing to go to all lengths to halt the spread of Communism and to hinder the Soviet Union at every turn. This, I think, was definitely part of the origins of the situation in Afghanistan.

But Iraq is also a different picture with different dynamics. One of those is Iran and the fact that the majority population is Shi’ite. The Shi’ites are still kind of a black box for me. I haven’t totally figured them out (those of you who have more expertise in this area than I may want to post your thoughts on this). As I mentioned, I don’t like the name of that major Shi’ite faction, and not just because the name is corny. It sounds like the Iranian government!! One question we have to wonder about is how much do the people of Iraq identify with and want to be like Iran? That’s a scary question.

But back to the protesters. Although I understand a wariness of any western government coming in and conquering an Arab nation, the accusations of colonialist motives remains absurd, in my opinion. And I wonder how much of this sentiment is indeed a product of the past experiences in the Middle East (as I am sure some of it is) and how much is a result of media representations of the war. It will be interesting to see if groups like the Supreme Council of Islamic Revolution will end up coming into the fold or not. If they don’t, that will lead to a whole new set of problems.

Arab News: “No to Saddam, No to US”

Palm Sunday 2003

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Open to me the gates of righteousness,

that I may enter through them

and give thanks to Yahweh.

This is the gate of Yahweh;

the righteous shall enter through it.

I thank you that you have answered me

and have become the chief cornerstone.

This is Yahweh’s doing;

it is marvelous in our eyes.

This is the day Yahweh has made;

let us rejoice and be glad in it.

Save us, we beseech you, O Yahweh!

O Yahweh, we beseech you, give us success!

Blessed is the one who comes in the name of Yahweh.

We bless you from the house of Yahweh.

Yahweh is God, and he has given us light.

Form a festal procession with branches,

up to the horns of the altar.

You are my God, and I will give thanks to you;

you are my God, and I will extol you.

O give thanks to Yahweh, for he is good,

for his steadfast love endures forever.

-Psalm 118.19-29

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.

-John 1.5

Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, Hosanna in the highest.

Rejoice greatly, O daughter Zion!

Shout aloud, O daughter Jerusalem!

Lo, your king comes to you;

triumphant and victorious is he,

humble and riding on a donkey,

on a colt, the foal of a donkey.

He will cut off the chariot from Ephraim

and the war-horse from Jerusalem;

and the battle bow shall be cut off,

and he shall command peace to the nations;

His dominion shall be from sea to sea,

and from the River to the ends of the earth.

-Zechariah 9.9,10

They brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks on it; and he sat on it. Many people spread their cloaks on the road, and others spread leafy branches they had cut in the fields. Then those who went ahead and those who followed were shouting,

“Hosanna!

Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!

Blessed is the coming kingdom of our ancestor David!

Hosanna in the highest heaven!”

-Mark 11.7-10

Let the peoples praise you, O God;

let all the peoples praise you.

Let the nations be glad and sing for joy,

for you judge the peoples with equity and guide all the nations upon the earth.

Let the peoples praise you, O God;

let all the peoples praise you.

-Psalm 67.3-5

Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, Hosanna in the highest.

Go through, go through the gates,

prepare the way for the people;

build up, build up the highway,

clear it of stones,

lift up an ensign over the peoples.

Yahweh has proclaimed to the end of the earth:

Say to daughter Zion,

“See, your salvation comes;

his reward is with him,

and his recompense before him.”

They shall be called, “The Holy People,

The Redeemed of Yahweh”;

and you shall be called, “Sought Out,

A City Not Forsaken.”

-Isaiah 62.10-12

Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, Hosanna in the highest.

From the hymn “Ride On in Majesty”

Ride on! Ride on in majesty!

Hark! All the tribes hosanna cry;

Your humble beast pursues his road

With palms and scattered garments strowed.

Ride on! Ride on in majesty!

In lowly pomp ride on to die;

O Christ, your triumphs now begin

Over captive death and conquered sin.

-Henry H. Milman

Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, Hosanna in the highest.

A reflection

This is the day of the Triumphal Entry, Palm Sunday. It marks the beginning of the second most significant week in the history of the world. This was the day God came to his city Jerusalem. N.T. Wright:

Jesus’ last great journey to Jerusalem was intended, I suggest, to symbolize and embody the long-awaited return of YHWH to Zion. This journey, climaxing in his actions in the Temple and the upper room, and undertaken in full recognition of the likely consequences, was intended to function like Ezekiel lying on his side or Jeremiah smashing his pot. The prophet’s action embodied the reality. Jesus was not content to announce that YHWH was returning to Zion. He intended to enact, symbolize and personify that climactic event. And he believed and said in appropriately coded language that he would be vindicated, would share the throne of Israel’s God. (The Challenge of Jesus, p.116)

Jesus made it clear that the time of visitation was at hand. God was truly among us. The true, enlightening light had shown into our midst. And still, God was rejected. “He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him. He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him.” (John 1.10,11)

The psalms command even the gods to ascribe to Yahweh the glory that is due him. On this day, in which God’s glory was ironically revealed through the Galilean riding on a donkey, I ask, do you give him the glory due his Name? God’s holy splendor is all-consuming, and yet he came to us in a way in which we could encounter him. He was hailed with branches, cloaks, shouts of “Hosanna!” and yet was riding on a donkey and weeping. Do you hail the Ironic Glory? Is it the center of your devotion?

I’m off to church.

Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, Hosanna in the highest.

The Hume Lake Experience (TM)

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Snowy_Lake.jpg

I got back on Friday from a week as a counselor at Hume Lake for the school at which I work. Five days of straight high school madness, I must say, was not and still definitely is not my most favorite way to spend a week. Oh the drama!

Despite the general craziness of living with seven high school boys, however, I did manage to have some good experiences. One of the most significant for me was seeing falling snow for the first time. That stuff is cool! I took a few pictures and have posted a couple, as I am sure you have noticed by now.

When I first started teaching, I was pretty concerned about the relatively small age difference between the students and me. In the classroom context it hasn’t been much of a problem, but as a counselor, I must say that it was a little more difficult. When you are around the students practically twenty-four hours a day it is a little difficult to sustain the “teacher” fa├žade all the time. At one point I was with several sophomores and pretty much just had to end a conversation I was having with them. There are definitely a lot of weird dynamics that go on that I still have not figured out yet.

Anyway, I am definitely not jonesing to go back, but I guess I’m glad it happened. Till next year then, I guess!