Friday, June 17, 2011

I'm sorry for the long rambly email...ACTUALLY I'M NOT! HA!

I question the technology which mediates our conversations. The platforms we use to communicate shape in such subtle, yet intense ways what we end up saying.

CASE IN POINT: How many times have you apologized for a long email? I know I have. I just read one today with the same little disclaimer. It's bullcrap! You look at those long rambly emails and nine times out of ten they aren't rambly or too long at all. In fact, they're actually pretty short compared to a newspaper article, short story, solliloquy or a number of forms of communication.

Down with the confining norms of email and the apologies we feel obligated to make for expressing ourselves.

P.S. Sorry if this is too long or rambly. he he.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Mavs Beat Heat! Another Victory for Collectivism

They have made a statement that's a colossal statement. Not just about our team, but the game in general. Playing it a certain way. Trusting the pass. Playing collectively. Believing in each other. Our team is not about individual ability; it's about collective will, collective grit, collective guts. We're skilled and talented, too, but our game is on the ground. And the guys we were playing, their game was in the air. Fortunately, as the series went on, we stayed on the ground enough to be able to win it.
~Mavericks Coach Rick Carlisle

After the Nuggets were knocked out in the first round (AGAIN!) I wasn't sure how much I'd follow the NBA playoffs. However, I was able to find a team to hate- The Heat and a team to love- The Mavs. The Heat embody just about everything I hate about professional basketball: egoism, arrogance, raw talent trumping team play, avarice. Of course, all of these are pervasive among players and teams, but making a freaking tv show about yourself choosing what team you'd go to sure does raise the bar of self-righteousness.

The Mavs on the otherhand is a team of veterans and role players. I honestly didn't think all these old guys could match up with the Heat, I really didn't. So many others said the same. "The Heat are just too good" people would say. Yet, they did it!

Yes, they had Dirk Nowitzki, one of the all-time greats in basketball; however, like Jason Terry said in the post-game press conference- Dirk was great this season because of how good he made the players around him. Through it all too, he showed humility and made sure to redirect the spotlight from himself and onto the rest of those deserving it as well.

What is the Role of Exceptional Talent in a Collective-Minded Community?

In my last post on collectivism I appreciated the lack of superstardom of the Nuggets. As I wrote it, I wondered about stardom though. It's certainly not a bad thing to be talented. I'm not interested in some crazy dystopia where people are discouraged from becoming exceptional at something. That's not what collectivism means to me. So what is the role of the exceptional in a collective context? We hear capitalists argue about the exceptional being dragged down by collectivism.

I think Dirk showed how an exceptionally talented person furthers that collectivity- for one he is only as great as those around him. He figured out a way to succeed by maximizing the ability of those around him AND himself. He destroyed the false dichotomy of if I am successful you can't be. In fact he proved the opposite- we can't succeed unless others succeed as well.

It was exactly what the Heat did not understand. When Dirk remained humble both about battling a 102 fever and his performance in their Game 4 win, Lebron and Wade were mocking him off court. While key role players like JJ Barrea and Brian Cardinal stepped it up when Dirk and others struggled, the Heat were directionless as Lebron James was repeatedly a no-show.

So, it was great to see. It was great to see a bunch of old guys (I remember watching Jason Kidd when I was a freaking Middle Schooler!!) who just know how to play ball beat these players who are ridiculously talented. It was great to see collectivism shine again.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Random Thoughts on Floss
Mitch Hedberg - Flossing
JokesJoke of the DayFunny Jokes

I went to the dentist today for my periodontitis treatment. I still have not ever had a single cavity, but I SUCK at flossing. Whenever asked how I've been flossing I mumble "I've been doing ok I guess." I knew he knew and then when he was finishing it all up with a little flossing he said that if I just floss aggressively for two days my gums won't be sensitive to it anymore and it'll all be good. sigh. ok. I'll try.

We bought something like 20 floss dispensers at Costco the other day. Cambria and Ember got into one of them and strung it ALL OVER THE HOUSE. At least someone is using the floss...

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The Denver Nuggets and the Spirit of Collectivism

I sit here writing this minutes after the Nuggets tragically lost Game 5 to the Oklahoma City Thunder by three points. I ended up finishing 3/4 of a bottle of Montes Wine in the process. I'm depressed; no doubt about it. However, I love the Nuggets. I love them so much and not just because they play in Denver, but because their style of ball reflect my politics. The Nuggets embody the spirit of collectivism which I dedicate every fiber of my being to.

Above all, I believe that when we as a people work together we are amazing. When we are allowed to live to our full potential we create beauty. When we are denied the ability to reach that potential it is a grave injustice. When we are denied our basic rights to water and food, to an exciting and inspiring education, to be able to love freely, to have a home we love to bring our family and friends into, to work a job that we know makes a better world and taps into our talents, and on and on then we are being denied life. We are denied what is possible; and if it possible then we should darn well have it!!! It's possible!!!

Everyday we are faced with structures and systems (cough cough capitalism cough cough) which not only deny us these fundamental rights, but are set up to ensure the exact opposite- to exploit, to degrade, to abuse.

And so yes, to get excited about a basketball team where players are paid millions to put a ball into a circular piece of metal is a bit absurd, but it's also exciting and important to celebrate those moments where that spirit of our potential and principle of collectivism shines through.

The National Basketball Association is driven, like most things in this world, by the bottomline- money. A fictitious representation of wealth. As a result, the typical team model is to build a team around one person- a superstar. Team basics are eschewed for the power of a superbeing. I fell into this. I fell in love with the persona of Carmelo Anthony. I fell in love with that smile. I fell in love with the way that we would echo out "Melllllo!" when he made a three. Boy am I glad that my starstruck awe of him was shattered when he was traded. It was also soooo satisfying to see that back-stabbing, attention-loving, ego-maniac choke and lead his team to a sweep in the first round. YEssssssss!!!

Also, I am glad he left because with this new roster I see the amazing force of a team driven not around a single player, but by the spirit of collectivism and teamwork.

There is no one on the Nuggets that is the go to guy and thank god for that! Superstars sell jerseys. Superstars sell front row tickets. Superstars get shoe contracts. Superstars make MONEY. But you know what else superstars make? Superstars make basketball that is sooooooooo freaking boring. Dribble down, clear the court and isolate the star. What the heck?!? That's boring. Sorry, but it is. It's BORING!!!!

So, even though the Nuggets did what they have practically done for what? the last seven years? (basketball nerds- comment with the correct stats)_ lose in the first round- I am both depressed and ecstatic. The reason that this devastating blow is overshadowed by love for this team is because they have broken the mold. They have become a team which is a team, not a set of players built around one person.

Since the blockbuster Carmelo Anthony trade, the Nuggets have surprised basketball fans as they instantly clicked, finishing with 50 wins for the fourth time in a row. After the pre-Madonna Melo left, our assists went up to 24.1 a game and our defense jumped up to holding teams to 97.1 ppg (from allowing 105.2). Announcers, bloggers, columnists, and fans all agreed- it was refreshing to see real team basketball. What the Nuggets lack in stardom, they make up for in team chemistry and depth. Any of their top ten players could be starters elsewhere in the league. This parity of talent and wide array of skills brings a collectivism to the game that is great to watch. You never know who will shine each game.

The NBA has been criticized for its lack of team ball in general. It goes back to that flawed superstar formula. So, the fact that when it comes down to the wire the Nuggets have admittedly said that the final shot is a collective decision, makes me happy. We may have lost and our season may be over, but dang do I love to watch my team. It was a good run guys. You show what happens when the whole team is into the game, is working to win, is working to make sure that every single person reaches their potential. It's a quick snapshot of the world I fight for.

Also, I was able to attend the only game in the series we actually won :) Yesssssssss.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

I Would Teach Them to Walk on the Earth as Humans

I read this poem every morning at work. It reminds me why I do what I do. I guess I don't interpret it literally because it's definitely rooted in an experience (Chicano) that is not my own, but the spirit of it fits right into what I am striving for each day. Here it is, it's by Jimmy Santiago Baca who is probably my favorite poet.

Yellow school buses halt at small groups
of waiting mothers,
rebozos around their shoulders,
like their Indio ancestors,
huddled around a fire at night.
The kids scamper off
like young buffaloes nudging
their mothers' hands to play,
but then they finally dash off.

If I were a teacher
I would roam them along
the Rio Grande; teach them silence,
to listen to the air
brushing sunlight on leaves,
the soft stroking of wind quills
on leaves, sisst-sist-sist,
slowly drawing across the leaf, leaving
thin streaks of yellow, then turning them red and gold-

they would understand that
the poem is given away-
that golden leaves fall to earth,
to the black, warm steaming earth,
where the hands of roots
weave our gifts again into the whole picture
called life.

I would teach them to fight for solitude,
stand their ground like mountain rams-
do not let the city's nightlife
lure them away-demand, shivering
uncertainty in blood, demand solitude.

I would teach them to look-
face the tree and study the bark,
see how the grooves foretell
our lives, how rough-edged it is,
how it holds up the tree, encircling the soft, moist
bark inside. How the tree counts its years
in circles, completing its sorrow each autumn,
enduring its loss of innocence each winter,
turning to meet the circle it drew
with new leaves, offerings of leaves
quivering under the sun god.

I would teach them to walk on the earth
as humans: to regard the cities as they do
their log-cabin toys-shelved
after play hour, as they resume their lives
in the sunlight, under the moon, among the people.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

If Your God Exists, He Needs to Be Taken Down

Yeah, it's kind of harsh and I didn't actually say this to the Christians I met on campus, so here's what really happened.

I was walking through Auraria Campus and saw some people mingling around talking to people. They had a dry-erase easel and some literature. I figured they were evangelists or activists. Not sure which one is worse...just kidding, activists are totally annoying.

Anyways, they stopped me as I walked by and asked "Would you do a quick survey for us?"
"Ok, write down where you will go after this life on this board. If it's already on there you can put a tally next to it."
I looked at the board- heaven, hell, purgatory, not sure, I know I will be in heaven because I have accepted Jesus Christ as my one and only savior.

I ended up writing "universe/abyss"

"Interesting, what do you mean by that?" asked the Christian.
"Um, I guess I feel like there is no after life in the sense of me consciously occupying a place, but maybe my life energy goes out into the world in some manner."
"Ok ok," said the Christian. I'm just going to call him Brandon. He was REALLY nice by the way.

"So how confident are you in that?" Brandon asked.
"Probably something like 95%," I said.
"Ok, and if there is a heaven, how confident are you that you'd go there?"
"Hmm, probably 95% again."
"Ok, ok," said Brandon in a thoughtful and understanding way. (Did I say he was really nice?)
Brandon continued, "So why do you think you're going to heaven? I mean assuming there is one."
"Well I'm a good father, I love my kids, I love my wife, I love my friends and I try and do a lot of good in the world. I think if there was a God they'd appreciate that."
"Yeah, yeah totally. Well the thing is that we can never be perfect."
"For sure," I said.
"Well ok and though we can't be perfect we can accept Jesus Christ as our savior as the Bible says and have that imperfection forgiven."
"So basically you have to accept Jesus Christ and this specific God as one's God to get into heaven?" I asked.
"Yes, the Bible says how Jesus died, but it wasn't for free. In return we must accept him as our savior." Brandon explained

This went on for awhile. I said that it seemed a bit petty that God would not let people into heaven who held different belief systems. I wondered aloud to Brandon why a God that is all-powerful would have such a huge ego and such low self-esteem to punish good people to eternal damnation just because they didn't believe in him, or even that they believed in him but in a form he thought wasn't accurate enough. I asked about a hypothetical villager in rural Pakistan who grew up in a completely Muslim town who was good to his family and a great neighbor. He too would be sent to hell? Even though the predominant religion was something other than Christianity?

Brandon quoted some more Bible verses, but the end answer was- Yes. Unless he accepted this specific form of Christianity he would suffer eternal misery in hell.

So I finally said, "I'm sorry but even if you are right, I wouldn't want to go to heaven. I know that's extreme and maybe I'd change my mind if actually faced with this, but I just would not agree with a God like that. I can't imagine being in a heaven where so many of my friends and family and just really good people who I don't even know are suffering in hell. I'd rather just go to hell."

He was sort of taken aback and didn't know what to say. I felt bad because he was really nice so I said, "Well this has been a really interesting conversation with a lot to think about. I really appreciate it," and left.

After reading the Golden Compass and His Dark Materials series I started to change my position on religion some. Before I was really into what the truth is. I still am, but the reality is I don't know what is ultimately true. Still, in the Dark Materials book there is a wrathful God and what is amazing is that some people don't accept that. They try and take that God down because he is unjust. I think that's really powerful. It's powerful to think that even if certain oppressive and unjust beliefs are true, that people of conscious should still reject them and stand firmly on the side of what is right. So yes, if that God did exist, I wouldn't want to be in his heaven. I'd rather be in hell organizing towards a heaven that is open to all, regardless of creed.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Making Funny Comments During Movies

Rules for Making Funny Commentary
- refer to all weird looking people as specific celebrities
- do lots of voices
- finish people's sentences whenever there is any pause in speech
- answer questions before the actors do in humorous way
- poke fun at inconsistencies
- vocalize characters' perceived thoughts
- develop reoccurring jokes
- crack jokes at extras' actions all the time
- sing funny lyrics to theme song

I wrote these down after my friend Matt and I watched the RiffTrax of Raiders of the Lost Ark, which is basically Mystery Science Theater 3000 without the silhouettes and space craft scenes (which were the best!!). Watching made me realize that watching these movies was not just funnier, but it actually deepened my viewing of the movie. You notice the extras, you notice the awkward nuanced actions of the main characters, the flawed dialogue, the costumes, and the specific action moves.

I loved MST3 as a kid. I'd always watch it with my dad. I want to be those guys. I mean, minus the being held captive on a space shuttle by an evil scientist who forces you to watch horrible movies. Anyways, to do that I'm going to have to practice. Hopefully Matt will be up for that because the rest of my friends I see just getting mad at me for trying to provide a hilarious running commentary.