I’m seriously considering shutting down this site. It’s a hard thing to think about, since I’ve maintained this site for my entire adult life. However, there are a number of reasons for me to pull the plug:
- The emerging church is not a major interest of mine any more. This blog is well-known because of my participation in the EC blogosphere back in the day, but as I’m no longer planting a church, the topic is much less interesting to me.
- It has the potential to be a professional liability. It hasn’t been a problem so far, but if you know what industry I’m in, you can probably imagine the possible problems of having 5+ years of half-formed thoughts online and well-indexed by Google.
- I want to move toward actual accomplishments, rather than trying to be “famous on the internet.” I am in a PhD program, and while I’m not doing much scholarly writing yet, I’d like my website to reflect my professional work; combining the posts here with professional work would not make much sense.
- I’m moving toward a much smaller online circle, with a few key friends, rather than (again) trying to be famous on the internet. Twitter currently houses this circle of friends. If you’re not on my friends list, no offense - just trying to keep the size down.
- Privacy is becoming increasingly important. Because my Twitter account is protected, I can speak much more freely there.
- FriendFeed does 90% of what I’d want any website of mine to accomplish.
I really like the configuration of legal scholar Larry Lessig’s site, though he has much more professional material to include. I’ll probably leave most of my stuff just on FriendFeed for now (or the various 3rd-party sites it aggregates).
What do you think - should I shut down this site? What should be in my new site?
The Saturn, due to a minor, minor accident, has been declared a total loss by the insurance company, meaning not that the car is irreparable, but that the slight damage would cost more to fix than the car is worth. So, armed with a folder of craigslist ads, I set out last Saturday to find a replacement vehicle.
I ended up only looking at one vehicle, the truck you see in the photos above. I’m having a bit of work done on it, but it was a steal at 50% of Blue Book. It’s a 1999 F-250 Super Duty long bed, which will allow us to get some other things (like a grill and treadmill) that we’ve been meaning to purchase off craigslist for a while now.
Even after replacing the windshield, fixing the turn signals, and getting the oil changed, we’ll still have insurance money left over, so while it’s not the ultimate commuter vehicle, it’ll do for now. And boy is it fun to drive.
If you are my friend, and you live in the Seattle area, you are hereby barred from moving to a new apartment or house until I am no longer a truck owner.
I have recently started to believe that the world’s most urgent and enduring need is for good governance.
When I look to the crisis in eastern Congo, the crisis in Zimbabwe, the crisis in Darfur, and some of our more serious domestic issues, I cannot help but conclude that better, more accountable leadership is the most direct and viable solution to the challenges we face.
We have placed great faith in Barack Obama as one who promises to be this type of leader, and we must now hold him accountable as his leadership is put to the test. Moreover, we must recognize that he is only one person (and not The One), and that good governance must become a reality that extends beyond the White House.
Because we’re used to a high level of accountability and a lack of corruption among our government officials, it’s hard for those of us in industrialized nations to appreciate the role and scale of corruption in less-developed countries. Bribes, kickbacks, and funds diverted from public projects for personal gain - all play a major role in developing nations’ governance and economic reality.
Larry Lessig, the brilliant open-source Stanford prof, recently decided to focus on corruption, which is probably a weightier issue than his earlier focus on copyright issues. While corruption is at the heart of many problems in governance, fixing corruption does not fix bad government. We need to move out of the bad, but can’t stop there - we must move into the realm of good governance.
Some would say that there’s no such thing:
“That government is best which governs least.”
- Thomas Paine
I would content that this is a cynical perspective that shifts attention away from the actual needs in governance, and simply tries to do away with as much of the government as possible. Why fix something when you’re trying to get rid of it? cough Bush EPA cough cough
But it’s a fair question - shouldn’t the government try to stay out of people’s lives as much as possible, stepping in only when necessary to protect individual rights or the national defense? I respect that perspective, but consider it too expensive. This is too long an argument to include here, but the short version is that prison is much more expensive than school, and the lack of the latter leads to the former.
But regardless of where you stand in your beliefs about the proper size of government, I think we can agree that corruption and the lack of effective government is a huge problem. Somali pirates can run rampant because there’s not an effective government in that nation.
Even in countries with strong governments and decent organization, corruption can play a major role because three factors are missing:
- Preparation - societal leaders are not adequately trained
- Accountability - officials are not monitored and held to high ethics standards
- Compensation - officials are not paid well, except by local standards, and the temptation to take bribes or steal from your people is too great.
While I have no sympathy for corrupt officials and do not wish to defend them in the least, we should at least acknowledge the role that compensation plays. If your pay is good, you’re less likely to steal or take bribes. If your pay is terrible, and you have access to other people’s money, what’s to stop you from trading your integrity for a few bucks? Only the fear of being caught. And if everyone else in the government can be bought, there’s no one to hold you accountable.
While it’s true that some leaders in developing nations were educated in industrialized nations, this is not a solution that can scale, at least not for now, and it does nothing to prevent corruption.
So what should we do about this? I propose that we address all three issues - preparation, accountability, and compensation - by starting an international school of government. It could be sponsored by the US or the UN or NGOs, and could take students from developing nations all over the world. It would cost a ton of money, but it would pay for itself many times over in reduced need for foreign aid and less money lost to corruption.
This school of government would have three major components:
- Rigorous academic and practical preparation for societal leadership - public policy and skills training, specific to the part of the world and section of government in which the individual is being prepared to work. Tuition would be free, and admission would be merit-based. The program would include an internship component.
- Close supervision and accountability on the job - graduates of this program would not be on their own after graduation; they would be subject to regular reviews of their finances, job performance, and political dealings.
- Fully funded, internationally competitive salary - as long as they remain in public service and under the supervision of the program, graduates would receive a generous salary that far exceeded what the government would be able to pay them on its own. This would be a sizeable investment, but would reduce the temptation of corruption.
Ideas? Obama, you listening?
I went out to shoot some photos of Rainier Valley landmark Chubby and Tubby, the now-closed hardware store on my block that’s slated for demolition in the next few months. Full set here.
I’m glad I didn’t miss this opportunity - the Chubby and Tubby building is just about the best you could ask for as an urban photowalk destination.
There have been a lot of emails and rumors circulating in the conservative Christian community about Barack Obama. Some of them have simply pointed out his policy views, while others have been outright smears and lies. Regardless, he’ll be everyone’s President for the next four years, whether you voted for him or not. How are people who aren’t happy with this outcome responding?
Christian writer Kary Oberbrunner, who does not seem to have voted for Obama, says:
After fielding multiple calls about what our response should be to Obama and after hearing several unloving comments about how Obama is the anti-Christ and how the end of the world is at hand, I’ve decided to respond. I can only take one more email about how Obama is Hitler.
Have we as believers forgot who is on the throne? Last time I checked, he wasn’t sitting in the White House. If we think when a Republican is in office (or a Christian) that we are a Christian nation, then we are deceived. Likewise, if we think when a Democrat (or a non Christian) is in office that we are a non Christian nation, then we are deceived.
If we are followers of Jesus, then our battle is not a governmental one, but rather a spiritual one (Ephesians 6:12). If we get caught up in basing our joy, hope, and livelihood on who’s in office, then we are quite unbiblical indeed. link
Wise words - though I would also add that “Democrat” does not equal “non Christian.”
My responsibility is to remember that Obama has been elected President, not king, and not Messiah.
The above poster Yes We Did is by Shephard Fairey, of “Andre The Giant Has a Posse” fame, who designed the original “HOPE” poster featuring Obama’s iconic likeness.
As most educators know, it’s important to screen a video before showing it. I was waiting for this SNL clip to appear online, and here it is in all its Trogdor-esque glory. Might want to use headphones so as not to wake the baby.
Not entirely accurate, but funny. Whole episodes of SNL were actually funny for a few weeks leading up to the election, but I think it’s back to normal now - only one or two truly funny skits in 90 late-night minutes.
I was delighted to find this somewhat belated response from my senator in my inbox today:
Dear Mr. Baeder:
Thank you for contacting me regarding H.R. 7084, the Webcaster Settlement Act of 2008, sponsored by Rep. Jay Inslee (D-WA-1). This bill became public law on October 16, 2008. Should additional legislation related to this issue come before the Senate, I will keep your thoughts in mind. I appreciate having the benefit of your views on this matter.
The views of Washingtonians are very important to my work. I will keep your thoughts in mind, and I encourage you to stay in touch. Please do not hesitate to call on me whenever I may be of assistance.
Again, thank you for contacting me. I hope that you will continue to let me know about this and other matters of interest to you.
I hope all is well in Seattle.
In other words, Pandora is saved! The punitive and unsustainable royalty rates proposed earlier this year are no longer sounding the death knell for Pandora, the world’s best free online music service.
However, Pandora will still have to negotiate with SoundExchange to set royalty rates, and Euros are still out of luck for now.
It didn’t get much press, but Linda Darling-Hammond and Lisa Graham Keegan, education advisors to Obama and McCain, respectively, debated each other last week at Teachers College, Columbia University.
The 90-minute debate is considerably calmer than the candidates’ own debates, but very informative. The difference between the candidates’ plans is stark.
Commentary later - still watching it.
I’ve lost a lot of steam since I started this series. I have several half-finished drafts intended to be as detailed as my articles on unity and the environment. But the election is one week away and I simply don’t have the energy to do them justice. I do, however, want to recap and wrap up the rest of the reasons I plan to vote for Obama. To reiterate, my prayer is not that you vote the way I do, but that you understand the reasoning behind my decision.
I am voting for Obama because I feel he stands the best chance of bringing the country together.
I am voting for Obama because a sound, aggressive energy policy is the path to our economic growth and national security.
I am voting for Obama because the wealthiest, most power nation on the earth must be a leader in environmental stewardship.
I am voting for Obama because of the occupation of Iraq. I feel he showed incredible judgment when he opposed the invasion while most of Congress was voting to charge in. Many criticize his stance on the surge, but I find it more telling that McCain says he’d invade Iraq all over again even with today’s intelligence. We cannot “win” an occupation. It’s time to get back to the business of keeping America safe, not starting unnecessary wars.
I am voting for Obama because something must be done about health care. My wife has a pre-existing mental condition that is only insurable because she’s had constant coverage since before she was diagnosed. In today’s system, a single lapse in coverage could make her uninsurable and put us on a path I don’t want to go down. Obama wants to make coverage available to people like her who were not as fortunate to have constant coverage.
I am voting for Obama because I’m not convinced that conservative economics works as advertised. Does giving huge tax breaks to the rich grow the economy - it sure seems so. But does it “trickle down” to the vast majority of Americans as is claimed? No way. I see the rich getting richer but the poor getting poorer. We need an economic policy which benefits all Americans.
I am voting for Obama because of his cool and calm demeanor.
I am voting for Obama because Republicanism is no longer the same thing as conservativism. As Andrew Sullivan said, “Until conservatism can get a distance from the big-spending, privacy-busting, debt-ridden, crony-laden, fundamentalist, intolerant, incompetent and arrogant faux conservatism of the Bush-Cheney years, it will never regain a coherent message to actually govern this country again.” The Republican party needs to do some serious soul-searching.
I am voting for Obama because I am excited, not frightened, by a man with such a diverse background. America is a pluralistic society and we need a man who can relate to people of many different perspectives.
I am voting for Obama because he is a man of faith, regardless of how different it is than mine. His Call to Renewal speech is still the best speech on faith and politics I have ever heard.
As I close, I am aware that I don’t know everything (anything?) about economics or foreign policy or health care and that I may come back to this post in four years and regret my decision. I also recognize that John McCain is not evil nor is he incapable of running the country. Should he be elected, I will be grateful that a moderate Republican is in the White House and will give him my full support. But I’ve done all the research and prayer I can and have decided Barack Obama is the man I will support for President and, today, have no regrets.