Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Thought for the day

I pretend to be a food snob, but I like a tupperware bowl full of sugar-free Jell-O instant chocolate pudding as much as the next girl.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Letter to a Congressman

If the U.S. Treasury gets downgraded because of the idiocy of 535 people vying for power in 2012, I am moving to Europe (or Canada, or Mexico, or China. Hell, I would rather move to Greece). I've never written to my Congressman before, but this situation is ridiculous. Alexander Hamilton is crying from his grave right now...

Dear Congressman:

I am dismayed by the performance of Congress over the past few weeks in regards to the debt ceiling. It is quite clear that your objectives are political rather than economic. It seems to me that the Republicans (and some Democrats) in Congress are playing with the economic future of this country for relatively short-term political purposes.

I am twenty-two. I just graduated from college and am starting my adult life. For the last three years I've dealt with the downward spiral of the American economy and fear of joblessness after graduation because of an economic crisis. Neither I nor the American people are ready for another crisis to be imposed on us by irresponsible lawmakers.

I can forgive Wall Street for 2008. Financial institutions have poured money into our economy for the last century. In major cities around the country, they create the wealth that provides a tax base that keeps streets clean, public transportation working, and props up the cultural institutions that give our country character. Furthermore, Wall Street is built on risk. We as an American public accepted that risk when we let our industrial economy be exported. Relying on finance as a major source of our country's wealth (which I didn't hear anyone complaining about in boom years), means accepting that markets are cyclical and every once in a while they are going to crash. It does not take an economist to learn that. Just open a history book.

But I cannot forgive Congress for this insane brinksmanship over the debt ceiling. The impending economic troubles that 535 individuals in Congress are going to inflict on our country (my country) is inexcusable. Has anyone in Congress consulted any economists on this issue? Sure, you and your colleagues have paid lip service to the need for a deal, but thusfar the President is the only person who appears to be moving anywhere on the issue. From my perch here at home (which I admit is a limited view, but the public's view all the same), I see a President willing to compromise and a large group of Republicans holding him hostage by forcing him to either accept 100 percent of a crazy austerity plan or risk being blamed for an economic crash that is sure to impact his numbers in 2012, not to mention 300 million Americans for who knows how long.

That kind of politics makes me sick. Look past 2012 to 2020 or 2030. There are two ways to balance a budget: spending cuts AND revenue increases. It would be irresponsible not to use both options available to ensure that young people get to have the same American experience that their parents and grandparents did.


Shane Ferro

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Things alive and dead

I have found it difficult to write lately. There is too much going on in my life. I have not been able to process it, let alone write about it. Instead, I've decided that I should take a page from the book of one of my favorite blogs, The Awl and create "listicle without comment."

Today's lists:

Things I have seen dead while riding my bike this week.

1. mice
2. rats
3. possums
4. skunks
5. snakes
6. squirrels

Things I have seen alive while riding my bike this week:

1. cows
2. dogs
3. bunnies
4. bluejays
5. crows
6. quail
7. squirrels

The only comment: So glad that the snakes weren't alive.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Let's stop using words whose meanings we don't know

Example #1: Shari'a

Today's post is dedicated to certain members of the Oklahoma and Tennessee state legislatures. And also to the Awl, which is my favorite blog ever.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Two things

First, look what brings us this morning! With the exception of rain on Monday, it is shaping up to be a fantastic almost-Spring week of weather above freezing! 

Second, I wrote about women and opinion journalism at the Columbia Political Review. And how I never give up hope that my byline might actually make me a living someday.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Shamelessly pushing my own material

I wrote a web feature for the Columbia Political Review, which is here. It's part of a larger series that I will be doing about the media and politics for their website.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

The People of the Book

*Disclaimer: This post is not meant to in any way reflect the religious views of the author, nor offend the religious views of anyone else for that matter. It is, rather, a generalized, secular musing on religion and culture in modern society. Furthermore, I'm not looking to try to solve the world's problems, or even tell anyone how to think. I've just been thinking about this lately and decided to write my thoughts down.

Speaking of thoughts, you know you are destined to be a lawyer when your disclaimer is longer than your blog post.


"The Jews say, "The Christians are not right,"
and the Christians say: "The Jews are in the wrong;"
yet both read the Scriptures;
and this is what the unread
had said too. God alone
will judge between them in their differences
on the Day of Reckoning.

- The Qur'an; Sura 2: The Cow, verse 113

What exactly is it that causes so much violence among people of different religions? I am taking a class on Islam, so I've been doing a lot of reading of the Qur'an lately. There is a respectful tolerance of all "People of the Book" that pervades the holy Islamic text. It is explicit and outright, in a way that it isn't in the Bible (understandably because of several centuries worth of timing issues).

The Qur'an basically lays out the fact that Jews, Christians, and Muslims worship the same diety in different ways. Each religion has a slightly different interpretation of the revalations made to the prophets. People who practice Islam believe in the prophets of the Old Testament: Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob, and Moses. They even believe that Christ was a prophet - they just happen to believe that he was in the same category as the others rather than the literal son of God. Beyond that, they believe there was another prophet in the seventh century in Arabia, and his name was Muhammad.

Regardless of the arguments over the later prophets, God is God is God in all three major monotheistic religions and this diety serves the totality of those who believe in Him; rather, they serve him. 

Why is it, then, that some people who identify themselves as "good Christians" are distrustful or afraid or hateful of Muslims (or Jews, for that matter)? The most common answer to this is probably, "because they hate us, or they want to kill us."

First, this is categorically not true. To quote the great philosopher of NBC television, Aaron Sorkin, Islamic extremism is to Islam as the KKK is to Christianity (West Wing, Season 3, Isaac and Ishmael). There are 1.5 billion Muslims in the world, and the grand majority of them are "People of the Book." They are people with a moral foundation based on the fact that what they do in this life will affect how God will judge them for the next life - just like all of the Christians out there. If they are truly followers of the Qur'an then they see Christians and Jews as "believers" in God who happen to worship differently.

In the verse above, from the second sura (chapter) of the Qur'an, there is a lesson that should not be unfamiliar to any Christian: God alone can judge people at the Day of Reckoning. It is not up to us to judge the worth of 1.5 billion people who happen to believe that God dictated the words of the Qur'an to Muhammad between 610 and 632 instead of some guys writing down the scriptures of the New Testament a few centuries before that.

The more I read of the Qur'an the more that I realize the differences between Christians, Muslims, and Jews have nothing to do with religion (not that I didn't know that already, but it becomes more apparent as you become more familiar with the teachings of different religions). The hatred, the fighting, and the wars come from distrust of The Other. We are programmed to be distrustful of people who are different than us. We are tribal, clan-like creatures, and the development of our subconscious isn't going to evolve as quickly as the world has globalized. Religion is just a scapegoat for our mistrust of people who live differently than us. There are things about these people that we don't know, and therefore don't understand, and therefore fear.

If you buy that assumption, then the question becomes, how do we fight ignorance? How do we fight an ugly thing in the recesses of our minds that we can't even quite pin down?

Ironically, the answer probably lies in a place banned by one of our most trusted democratic values. The religion clauses of the First Amendment prevent us from seriously educating the population on religion (except in certain cases in Texas - joke). There is no way to teach the Qur'an in public schools to children who are minors. There is no way to force students to continue their education beyond the age of eighteen.

This is a tricky caveat of our system. I truly believe in the power of the first amendment as a guide for a democratic society. I would fight to the death for my right to express myself in whatever way I so choose; to believe in Xenu and immortal souls which originated from a volcano; and to stand and shout moderately nasty things as passers-by during a protest. I love the first amendment. Yet, it's hard to deny that it presents with a few shortcomings. Religion is such a tough subject. It's so entrenched in our culture - in a way which reserves the right to suspend logic - that is keeps our society from being dictated by reason.

Anyway, that is just my opinion today. I reserve the right to change it at any point in the future.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

So it's 15 today...

Yeah, that happened. And I don't mean Celsius.

Friday, January 14, 2011

If you want to know about the deep fryer I got for Christmas

I'm starting a new blog! It's about edible things and will be written in conjunction with Rudy. But I will be keeping this blog (I know, I update so often...).