Thursday, April 26, 2007

Star Trek: Of Gods and Men (full trailer)

Star Trek: Of Gods and Men (full trailer)

See this is what Paramount gets when they drop the ball with Star Trek and put out JUNK like the last 2 seasons of "Enterprise", fans team up with the stars and make their own movies!

Keith Olberman again... Says it best!

You have to watch this !

Cut and past the following link into your web browser

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

A bit of excitement last night

A warehouse at the end of my street caught fire last night. Four SFFD units responded VERY quickly and kept the blaze from spreading to the large Apartment building next door. The photos were shot with my cell phone camera.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Psalm Sunday Sermons and Soundbytes

Warning: I am about to mix religion and politics so hang on...

" I'd rather see sermon than hear one any day."

-Waite Phillips,
Founder, Phillips Petroleum

I know it may seem strange to some to begin a piece on religion by quoting a famous oil executive, but we live in pretty weird times. So it seemed appropriate.

I can't count how often over the past 4 months I have heard the pundits of talk radio and cable news talk about which candidate will be embraced by "Values Voters."

I am always amused by that term. It suggests that only a select group of Americans take their personal values into account when choosing a elected official. The truth of course is the term is a code word . When the alphabet soup of cable news shows say "Values Voters" they mean conservative evangelicals. There is a popular perception that in order to be favored with the support of this particular group a candidate must first "prove" that he or she has embraced their values and beliefs, and by values, they mean a candidate's stance on abortion, gay rights, immigration and stem cell research.

Yet, just like the values voters of GOP I attend church regularly, I belong to an established faith, and take the values and faith of candidates into account when I step into the voting booth. Yet I will confess my definition of faith and values probably differs somewhat from the voters that Focus on the Family sends pre election mailings out to.

Over the next year, we will hear a lot of talk about values. We already have heard the GOP try to scare up votes with the specter of Speaker Pelosi and "San Francisco Values". Well I live in San Francisco, and I may not have much in common with James Dobson and Pat Robertson, but like most Americans I too am a values voter.

Let me take a moment to tell you what is important to this "values voter".

My faith tells me that where charity and hope are there God is. So I am looking for candidate who understands that having 48 million Americans with out health insurance is morally wrong.

My faith tells me that respect for my elders is a good thing. So I am looking for a candidate who understands that the contract with and promises made to, all generations of Americans through social security, Medicare and Medicaid are not negotiable and must be kept.

My faith tells me that the greatest commandment is to love one another. So I am looking candidate who sees war not as tool for commerce or even domestic political gain but as a true last resort. A candidate who sees the lives of our men and women in uniform as far too sacred to risk on whim or to advance a political or economic agenda.

My faith tells me to be suspicious of people who pray loudly and make their faith a public display. So I look for actions to tell me what candidate believes rather than just words said at fundraisers and prayer breakfasts.

Having looked at all the declared and perhaps soon to declare presidential candidates here is what this religious values voter sees.

I see candidates who are scrambling to redefine themselves to sell their candidacy. I see candidates who make statements and promises that are in total contradiction of things they have said and done only a few years ago. I see candidates desperate to show how he or she harbors the same prejudice against certain Americans as as the groups whose campaign contribution checks they are desperate to collect and cash do.

The best way I know to sum what I am looking for in a "Values Candidate" is to quote a banner on the Edwards campaign website . "Tomorrow Begins Today."

Neo-Conservative Evangelicals seem to be obsessed with the idea of when the "end times" are coming, and even what they can do to help hurry that along.

Yet as a Christian , my faith tells me that the true work of kingdom of God is found here and now. The bible doesn't say blessed are those "waiting around to be raptured." My faith clearly says blessed are the peacemakers, blessed are those of work for justice and who persecuted for standing up for those who cannot stand up for themselves. My faith tells me this planet we live on is a gift and the stewardship of that gift is our responsibility.

My faith and values compel me to find a candidate who understands that tomorrow really does start today. A candidate who can inspire and motivate Americans of all ages and backgrounds to start now to build a better future. A candidate who will show me a sermon by living a faith that resonates with my values, rather than scrambling to convince me that they have the same fears and prejudices that I do.

A true values candidate will embrace my hopes, not play on my fears.

A real values voter understands that the time to work for universal health care is now, the time to stand up and oppose this insane misadventure in Iraq is now, the time to work for real dialog in the Middle East is now. The time to address the issues that impact our environment is now.

Nowhere does the Christian faith say it is ok to ignore these issues because the "end times are near so we don't have to worry about it. "

As a values voter, I would rather see a sermon than hear one any day. So when I hear candidates talk about faith and values, talk is pretty cheap. For me it is actions that speak loud and clear.

A San Franciscan's Dilema

"Don't give them any money, they'll use it to by drugs or booze!" A friend of mine scolded me the other day as I handed a homeless man on Market Street a dollar.

In all honesty he was probably right. Yet it is hard to just "walk by" a man lying on the ground who clearly has not spent a night indoors in a very long time. It is the greatest civic issue facing San Francisco. Our mass of homeless. For years the homeless migrated here for the mild winter, and for cash. The city used to hand out cash to the homeless in lieu of services. Until recently San Francisco had  the highest cash grants to the homeless in the country —nearly $400 a month, and recipients were not required to prove residency or even citizenship.    Well you can imagine what that did. It turned San Francisco into a magnet for the homeless.

I know this for a fact because there was a guy who always used to ask me for spare change on LaSalle Street in Chicago, and last winter, I saw him with his same cardboard sign on Market Street here in San Francisco. I asked him how he got here , and he told me he got enough money together for a bus ticket and came here. He had been told by other homeless, that SF handed out cash to people living on the streets. He was annoyed to discover when he got here, that the practice had ended shortly after a new Mayor took office.

It was  Mayor Gavin Newsom, who started "Care not Cash". A program where instead of getting money, the homeless get housing and other assistance. It has made a difference. In the time I have lived here, as  there has been a reported drop in the number of homeless on the streets. Yet, critics of the program say the impact has been minimal, and still doesnt address what they see as the root causes of homelessness. Critics of those critics, say the "homeless advocates" are apologists for drug use and petty crime, and dont want people to have to take responsilbity for themselves.  Reality as always, probably lies somewhere in the middle.

Yet this past week the homeless seemed to be everywhere. Maybe it's just good old Lutheran Lenten guilt, but it seemed everywhere I went over the past three days, I was asked for spare change .   It got to the point where I just didn't want to make eye contact with anyone anymore. And I felt really crappy about it too. Yet in all truth what good is one dollar, or a hand full of change going to do this person? What they really need is housing, substance abuse rehab and mental and medical health services. None of which I usually carry in my pockets as I walk down Market Street.

The rational side of my brain is quick to remind me that I give every month to my church, which in turn supports programs like the San Francisco Night Ministry. Which does try to provide those real needs I just mentioned. So why do I still feel so rotten when I pretend not to hear "spare any change?" from the guy with the paper cup? Part of the problem is despite programs like Mayor Newsom's the number of homeless that I see doesn't seem to be going down.

Yet I could give every cent I have to every homeless person I see and it wouldn't do anything to help solve the problem. So I keep walking avoiding eye contact and lamenting the fact that in spite of all the non profits, churches and social services working to aid the homeless in this city, it still seemed to boil down to someone asking me for change as I tried to make my way home.

I really dont have a point to make here. I hope that as we move into Holy Week and Passover,  everyone who reads this will find one organization that does good work, and donate to it. Be it the Red Cross, a church, a food bank or shelter. Maybe if we all did, it would accomplish something.