Thursday, April 10, 2008

The Office is back and Kelly is Crazy in Love

Found this through the Office Alliance podcast. Props to 4am insomniac for this great tribute to The Office's craziest lover, Kelly Kapur.

The DVR is set for tonight. Can't wait.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

The New Friendship

WARNING: The following are not necessarily unique thoughts and are not only my own.

But have you noticed lately that friendship has changed? I now have a facebook page. I successfully resisted joining the friendster, myspace, linked-in and other social network revolution, but the facebook wave was overwhelming. I was caught up in it.

Facebook is accomplishing many things, I think, more successfully than a lot of its predecessors. It's got great mobile access. It's up to the minute. You can hug someone, hit someone, bite someone or give them a latte. That is changing the world, for sure. But it has also succeeded in watering down an extremely watered down concept: friendship.

My friend, Bill and I regularly talk about the fact that now that facebook has spread to all generations and is being used as a corporate networking tool in addition to a personal one, it's high time facebook offer some options beyond friendship. I would like to colleague some people instead of friending them (a new social network verb: to friend). Heck, there are people, I would feel totally fine labeling an acquaintance, but friend seems the wrong term entirely.

One of my favorite aspects of facebook is that through it, I have finally connected with some very good high school friends with whom I haven't spoken since the Circle Line docked at the end of our post-graduation cruise around Manhattan. But even that connection begs the question--if I spoke to someone every single day during high school, then haven't even said hi in roughly 17 years, should they be a facebook friend. Maybe they should be a facebook old friend, past friend or I thought we were friends, where have you been for the last 17 years? Is it fair after such frienship delinquency to pick up the conversation where we left off and declare ourselves friends?

John 15:13 says:
"Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends."
Not to be impertinent, but do you think Jesus meant facebook friends or only real live friends?

I recently read that most people can only manage 150 meaningful relationships in their lives. Ok, so what's the big deal? I guess it's that it is very difficult to actually do friendship in light of jobs, families, home responsibilities, dog walking, personal time, physical fitness. There's a lot of demand on our time and it seems irresponsible to label people who are not close enough to actually be friends as friends. Maybe it's because some people feel closer to us than we to them. I'm sure there are people I have friended who would have much rather colleagued me, acquaintanced me or flat out ignored me as a friend. It's kind of like the youth group basketball night I went to in high school with some friends, where they played ball the same way everyone does, except they didn't keep score so no one could lose. Or win for that matter.

I don't expect the geniuses who created facebook to change based on my opinion, but I'd love to know what you think. By the way, I have 230 friends as I write this blog.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Have we seen the Promised Land?

So today marks 40 years since the world lost Martin Luther King, Jr. to senseless violence. With recent conversations going on about Barack Obama and Reverend Wright and with my experience in the Dudley community, a question keeps coming up for me. It's put in sharp relief today as I consider King's last speech in Memphis, as his life was clearly under threat. Particularly, his fearlessness comes out in his concluding paragraph when he said the following well known words:

"Well, I don't know what will happen now. We've got some difficult days ahead. But it doesn't matter with me now. Because I've been to the mountaintop. And I don't mind. Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I'm not concerned about that now. I just want to do God's will. And He's allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I've looked over. And I've seen the promised land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land. And I'm happy, tonight. I'm not worried about anything. I'm not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord."

I think the country and the world were at least interested in going to the mountaintop in 1968. Now I should clarify. I think MLK is referencing both the spiritual mountaintop and the earthly mountaintop of racial equality. I think his view of the Promised Land is a heavenly one and an earthly one. He says earlier in the speech as he is running through all the epochs in time and all the places he could live and saying he wouldn't stop in Egypt or Jerusalem, etc. He says:

"But I wouldn't stop there. Strangely enough, I would turn to the Almighty, and say, 'If you allow me to live just a few years in the second half of the twentieth century, I will be happy.' Now that's a strange statement to make, because the world is all messed up. The nation is sick. Trouble is in the land. Confusion all around. That's a strange statement. But I know, somehow, that only when it is dark enough, can you see the stars. And I see God working in this period of the twentieth century in a away that men, in some strange way, are responding — something is happening in our world. The masses of people are rising up. And wherever they are assembled today, whether they are in Johannesburg, South Africa; Nairobi, Kenya; Accra, Ghana; New York City; Atlanta, Georgia; Jackson, Mississippi; or Memphis, Tennessee — the cry is always the same — 'We want to be free.'"

I think he's right that at that moment of time, there was a lot of attention, a lot of overdue outrage, a lot of the right kind of work being done to overthrow injustice. And great success came from that unified conscience and unified work.

What worries me today about America and I see it particularly in my own city of Boston is that there is a polite denial going on that there are still very grave racial injustices in this country. Only today, instead of outrage at the racial injustice, there's outrage at Reverend Wright and overtones that Obama should denounce him too (or maybe he has to reject him according to Hillary).

Here's just a small slice of what that racial injustice looks like on a national scale:
  • 8% of african-american men under 29 have graduated from college while 17% of same-age white males and 35% of asian males have done so.
  • More than double the percentage of young african-american males is unemployed (19.5%) compared to whites (7.9%), hispanics (8.0%) and asians (7.9%).
  • The prison percentages are staggering. 10% of african-american young men (1 in 10) are in prison compared with 1.5% of whites and 3.6% of hispancis.
  • While african-american young men reepresent 14% of the general population, they represent over 40% of the prison population.
  • (Source:

There are more stats than that having to do with obvious eonomic imbalances, death rates and other health related issues, but I think the points above are enough of a portrayal of injustice, to make the point.

Boston remains a city that is segregated in a de facto fashion. No laws proclaim it, no signs are hung, but forces stronger than signage or laws prevent the city and the surrounding metro area from being truly integrated. I think what bothers me the most about this situation is the constant polite silence regarding the disparities and seperation. It seems to me that no one is talking about it. Very little effort is being made to cross the lines. And no one is outraged.

I think America needs a new civil rights movement. It has to be a movement toward interaction and understanding, not simply a way to control behavior. With all of its world class institutions and its importance to the history of our country, it is shameful that our city and still far too much of America is segregated with people of color enduring not fair and unequal.

Will this bubble up to the consiousness of America? What did MLK and all of those who stood with him accomplish? What remains to be accomplished and who will sound the call? More importantly, who would follow?