January 2010 Archives

January 22, 2010

The Remarkable Accuracy of Drew Brees

I’m not really into these kinds of shows (because I’m always put off by how long they stretch with b-roll and computer graphics a bit of information that could have fit in 1/10th the time) but this is pretty cool. Who knew quarterbacks were so accurate? guess I made the right choice in not trying out that career…

found here)

January 18, 2010

Understanding Charity from the Crisis in Haiti

One of the more interesting dynamics of humanity lies within the concept of charity. I have three points that should influence our thinking in giving aid to Haiti.

Charity is defined as the voluntary giving of help, but in modern practice there is rarely an offer of assistance without motive or expectation. How many hot meals, for example, would you hand out in your neighborhood if you knew that half the recipients would drop the meal on the ground and spit in your face? Despite the other appreciative half who would benefit, few would endure such disrespect.

It is also worth noting that there are no intrinsic guarantees our charity will be used as anticipated or received at all. From the Korean peninsula to the Middle East region to the African continent we see examples of this.

Finally, it is naive to offer charity without understanding the recipient’s perception of the giver. If your benefactor is also your oppressor, there’s less appreciation. If your angel is in worse straits than you (like when North Korea offered aid to Katrina victims), there may be a devaluation of sincerity.

So what does this all have to do with Haiti? Just as much as it does with your reason for giving. You see stories and pictures of travesty and send money; meanwhile, people in the streets of Port-au-Prince yell, “More doctors, fewer journalists!

Consider the mix of emotions of a person whose family is lying dead on the street, who sleeps next to them because their house is no longer safe to inhabit. Consider them bathing in the streets in unclean water while you come by with big trucks and cameras. Perhaps you’d understand why they’d say “Put down 
the camera and help us.

Now consider that much of the international aid that is not given by NGOs is offered with considerable requirements—to ensure expectations and political motives are met. This has NOTHING to do with helping people, and is essentially the reason why Haiti as a nation is unable to respond to its own needs. I repeat: Haiti is a result of foreign occupation and oppression by the same people who are providing aid right now.

So when your country has been getting royally violated for the the last 70 years by foreign aid, how would you respond? If you weren’t an effective humanitarian but you knew people who were suffering—dying—what would you do?

/via @jody_kiely

Perhaps new thinking is required. Better yet: new action. And a much better understanding and implementation of charity—and reparation. Starting with our brothers and sisters in Haiti, let history be consulted but not repeated. Let’s think beyond what the pictures show us, and let us encourage and assist those who are seeking to commit their energies to improvement while we throw dollars and criticisms from the comfort of our text messages and tweets.

And by all means, keep giving. Better yet: plan to visit Haiti later this year when the media has found something else to show and the country is till poor, still needing, still suffering (like it was before the quake). Show that your heart is connected to your hands and not just your wallet. And to your brain as well; generate awareness and be active in campaigns to forgive debts Haiti has with IMF, World Bank, IDB and others. These points should define our giving and caring as we look to Haiti

January 10, 2010

F.I.T.

Lance Corporal Anthony M. Madonia emerges from...

Image via Wikipedia

I've been generally dissatisfied with my fitness and my energy levels. As the new year came around, I decided to do something about it. I started a facebook event under my B.A.S.T.I.O.N. group called B.A.S.T.I.O.N F.I.T. (Fitness in 2010).

The problem with getting more active is that it really works best when you're doing it with others. Coincidentally, no one wants to commit to something like that. Still, the peer support can do wonders, so with this event you can choose your own goals and method (or select from one of the methods listed) and just use the event as a means of support.

Surprisingly, over 20 people immediately signed up. It seems I'm the only one posting regularly, but it was nice to see others with a similar interest.

I'm working up my stamina, so I'm starting with running and hoping to be at a level where I can do ZenTri's P90x prep pretty regularly. It's a little bit harder than I expected. I'm way out of shape. Started feeling awkwardness in my legs, so I asked a twitter friend who happens to be a triathlete. He said:

"Likely connective tissue tears--where tendon meets bone. If [you] haven't been running, connective tissue [becomes] weak. Muscle pulls away from bone. Light leg circuit weight training at gym (12-15 reps) will strengthen ligament/bone connection."

So it looks like I'll possibly be doing more than just running to get fit. Looking forward to the energy boost @ZenTriathlon promises--and looking forward to being fit and firm when the weather gets warm!

January 4, 2010

Holding Hands in the Dark

I think the first commenter on the article (about a Batman/Star Wars comic crossover possibility) summed up my feelings of this image quite well:

“That picture is so cute. It brings a smile to the lump of coal I call a heart.”

found here.

January 2, 2010

What Israel Can Teach Us About Security

"I once put this question to Jacques Duchesneau (the former head of the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority): say there is a bag with Play-Doh in it and two pens stuck in the Play-Doh. That is `Bombs 101' to a screener. I asked Duchesneau, `What would you do?' And he said, `Evacuate the terminal.' And I said, `Oh. My. God.'

"Take (Toronto's) Pearson (airport). Do you know how many people are in the terminal at all times? Many thousands. Let's say I'm (doing an evacuation) without panic - which will never happen. But let's say this is the case. How long will it take? Nobody thought about it. I said, `Two days.'"

A screener at Ben Gurion has a pair of better options.

First, the screening area is surrounded by contoured, blast-proof glass that can contain the detonation of up to 100 kilos of plastic explosive. Only the few dozen people within the screening area need be removed, and only to a point a few metres away.

Second, all the screening areas contain `bomb boxes.' If a screener spots a suspect bag, he/she is trained to pick it up and place it in the box, which is blast proof. A bomb squad arrives shortly and wheels the box away for further investigation.

"This is a very small, simple example of how we can simply stop a problem that would cripple one of your airports," Sela said.

It boggles my mind that something as international as international terrorism does not evoke a response that is a) standardized across countries, and b) built from the input and training of those most experienced. 

Naturally, and unfortunately, this is just another example of American error. We defer our power to choose effective options to a figurehead who is no more knowledgeable; then we throw money and resources to establish peace through superior firepower.

The story of David and Goliath is both our bellwether and our solution. And it would seem that the rock throwers of the middle east could give us a lesson.

Continue reading What Israel Can Teach Us About Security.

Extinct Toys

These are very well-designed, handcrafted wooden toys by Josh Finkle. They are very cute, but there’s one problem: they are caricatures of recently extinct animals.

Here’s the link

There are obvious reasons that I think he explains rather well as to why these are chosen. I can’t help but wonder though, about their end result—will they lead me to a higher awareness to the fragility of nature… or will I eagerly await the next set of dead species turned in to cute lovable playthings?