Monday, June 20, 2005

Me, the world, lately...

My life lately has been fairly consumed with dissertation work - see posts below. And with a beautiful Spanish girl... so... what can I say? Things are well.

I am almost positive now that I will go back to Montana for a Masters in Philosophy, to add to my Masters in Buddhist Studies, en route to a Ph.D. in something (maybe zoology?) . So, only one more month in England (for now at least). Maybe I can come back for that Ph.D.

Some interesting things in the news that more of the world should know about:

This, a sad and very powerful article with two letters from loved one's of US soldiers who have died in Iraq. After the Downing Street Memo, which has hopefully been read by everyone out there, more and more Americans are waking up to the fact that we were given lies to justify this war. But where do we go from here? What can people do? Here are some suggestions.

More less-than-happy news: Aung San Suu Kyi, leader of the National League for Democracy party in Burma, has been under house arrest by the military government there for most of the last 15 years. This week she turned 60, celebrating her birthday in an empty house, cut off from the world. Michael Stipe, of REM, this week sent his well-wishes, along with President Bush, and many more.

In good news (!), humanists have been granted the ability to legally perform weddings in the UK. One of my good friends back in Montana , Lori Gilliland, is a certified Humanist Celebrant, which means she can officiate weddings and the likes. It may be a double-edged sword in the sense that many people think atheism or humanism is a religion of its own (which it isn't!), and this may add fuel to that thought. For me, and I think most who would call themselves humanist or atheist, these are simply labels which are useful to express a coherent body of ideas/beliefs about the world. They are not religious because they believe in no supernatural, they hold nothing on 'faith alone', and they do not prescribe rituals or practices to be performed. Some people want to twist the definition of religion to include atheism and/or humanism, but this is more a matter of self deception than real argument. The fact is that religion is difficult to define, but amongst the majority of experts, Humanism/Atheism simply do not fit the criteria (namely those above). hmm... maybe a topic for another post. :)

In other happy news, again dealing with a wedding, is the first gay military wedding performed in Canada. Not much to comment; it's just nice that homosexuality, which could have gotten you killed (and still can in certain places) in the past, is now openly part of the celebrations of life.

So while things aren't so rosy in the US and Burma, England and Canada are taking steps forward toward openness, inclusiveness, and freedom. God bless 'em. And DOOOOO contact your senator about the Downing Street Memo - it will only take 2 seconds and they do take such personal contact an eentzy-teenzy-weenzy bit seriously, which is infinitely more than you get otherwise.

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