Friday, April 30, 2010

Battlestar Street

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You Should Ask the "Ask A Ninja" Guy


I've seen this one, too.
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Oh.. Too Late.. Dang...

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Will You Take A Check?


I've seen this one, too. It's great because it actually prevents someone from giving abuse.
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Whoa! Too bright! Possible Safety Hazzard

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Energy Crisis

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Are You ET's Brother?

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It's Good To Keep Up With Current Events

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Cool, I'll Meet You There

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On Second Thought, Just Get Me a Hamburger...

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Is There Still Time for the Shower?

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Michael, Will You Sign This?

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I've seen this sign in action. Yes, people really do throw coins.
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Robbie the Homeless

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Boggieman Approach

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Friday, April 9, 2010

Statistics on the Homeless in Oregon and Portland

These statistics were gathered by the 2009 Homeless Count, and then was released by the county.  I don't necessarily appreciate the homeless count, because they take the one population that doesn't get enough sleep, wakes them up very early in the morning and then asks to count them.  I don't care for their methods, but the info is useful.  One last thing, this is a "head count"-- in other words, they only counted those whom they could see.  Others who are camping in more secluded areas wouldn't be counted, so these numbers are low.

On one day in February, 2009 there was:

In Oregon-- 11,670 homeless
                2,837 are in shelters
                4,066 are chronic homeless (for more than a year)
                2.936 homeless children under 12
                1,377 homeless teens
                378 youth without an adult
                7,346 members of a homeless family with children

In Multnomah County-- 4,808 homeless
                                   864 are in shelters
                                   860 are chronic homeless (for more than a year)
                                   702 homeless children under 12
                                   215 homeless teens
                                   24 youth without an adult
                                   1559 members of a homeless family with children

Washington Co has more than a third as many homeless as Multnomah Co.
Clackamas Co has about 3% as many homeless as Multnomah Co
In Multnomah Co the homeless population is not centered in the downtown Portland area, but they are spread out throughout the county.  However, there are collections of the homeless in downtown, NE, SE, and Gresham.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Deliver Me From Evil

On the Filmspotting Forum, I am a part of something called the Movie Dictators Club.  They pair us up, and we tell another person a movie they need to watch sometime in the month, and we ourselves receive a movie we need to watch.  Then we write on it, and everyone reads our reviews.  It's fun and exposes us to movies we might not otherwise watch.

This month, I received a dictation from someone who wanted me to watch Deliver Me From Evil, a documentary about clergy abuse in the Catholic Church.  

I knew I didn't want to watch this movie.  I knew that either it would be extremely biased, not understanding Jesus' mercy on the repentant, or it would really crush me.

Honestly, it's really well done.  It sets up the issue of abuse of children by clergy in the Catholic church well by presenting in depth interviews with a friendly, honest, out of work priest who just happened to have abused perhaps a hundred children under 12 in Central California.  But the film quickly moves on to the real problem-- how the leadership of the church compounded the problem by neglect, hiding, lying, and just moving a priest from location to location, without actually acknowledging the priest's abuse to anyone-- even the priest or to parishes that he was presiding over.  It's nice to see a documentary every once in a while that isn't about entertainment or self-promotion, but simply presenting the facts.

But it crushed me.  To have a church like that show such neglect to children  is not only immoral and criminal, but, according to Jesus, anyone who "causes ...little ones to stumble, it would be better for him to have a millstone tied around his neck and to be thrown into the sea"-- In other words, the deepest part of hell is reserved for them.  And they are also neglecting the spiritual life of that priest.  If they had put him in the monastery early on, with counselling and careful oversight, perhaps he would have been all right.  But they neglected him as much as the children.  That is certainly the lesser crime, but I'm just saying the church was neglectful of everyone involved.

The Catholic Church isn't my church.  I don't have any right to tell them what to do.  But, honestly, Jesus would smash these people.  The priest he might have cared for early on, if he had been willing to completely change his life.  But the church...  That is not in any way representing Jesus and His people.  The New Testament warns against ambition in the church, as well as the severe penalties on those who harm children.  And as dreadful the harm the priest did, the church leadership took a single incident and spread it throughout a region, among more and more children.  

Honestly, if one reads Jesus' words carefully-- and he spoke about hell more than any other biblical speaker-- it is clear that hell is not for unbelievers or those of other religions or atheists or the like.  It is for people in the church who act like these church leaders acted.  It doesn't matter if the court system never catches up with them.  They've got it coming anyway.

The Fear of the Police

Jack Collins walked out of the bathroom in Hoyt Arboretum all bloody, holding an X-acto knife.  In seeing this come at him in surprise, Officer Jason Walters says, "I was just totally surprised 'cause I didn't expect a bloody guy holding a knife to open the door, and it took a second, a moment to really register what was going on."  Walters had no back up there, and he ruled out the use of pepper spray, his baton or Taser.  So he shot Jack four times, and Jack was left to bleed to death.

Dehumanization of a kind of person-- like the homeless Jack Collins-- leads to people deciding that they should not be treated as a real person, but as an immediate threat.  There was no real threat to Officer Walters.  I have been in a similar situation myself, facing down a person holding a knife.  I had no gun, no baton, no Taser.  I just went right up to the person and talked to him, in gentleness.  There are only two differences between Officer Walters and me: I was not afraid, and I did not have a gun to enact against any fear I might have.

I don't want you to think that I am trying to demean Officer Walters.  He reacted as he has been trained to react, and he did so rightly.  He yelled at Mr. Collins a number of times to drop the knife and Mr. Collins did not.  His training tells him to shoot anyone with a weapon who could have been a danger to himself or others. So Mr. Collins was shot.  No, my fault is with the system.

What kind of a system trains officers to shoot instead of using other options.  Officer Walters, if he felt that he was endangered, could have backed up-- as Mr. Collins was in no condition to move quickly-- and used his Taser from a safe distance.  The officer could have called for backup and waited until it arrived.  Instead, he used force that was dangerous.  Mr. Collins was near the door of the Arboretum-- if the officer had missed, he could have shot an innocent person by accident.  But his training told him to shoot and so he did.  This training is irresponsible.

The other indictment of the system I have is connected to another case involving a homeless person and a police officer.  In that case, the police officer was also startled and afraid, according to his testimony, and so he tased a woman half his size four times, after she was clearly subdued.  Fear is the emotion that most readily leads to violence-- not anger.  Fear makes one want to protect oneself or others, and would use whatever means necessary to quench the object of one's fear.

If police officers are so afraid of small women or people who are already injured, then what else are they afraid of?  Black people?  Perhaps homeless people in general?  God forbid that these fearful officers actually deal with a gang or any group of teenage males.  It is a matter of public safety to take police officers who are fearful of non-lethal situations and get them off the street.  If an officer is startled so easily as to shoot someone in a situation in which they are "startled" then that officer is too easily trigger happy to be in the public interest.

If an officer is fearful, perhaps they should stay in the office, doing paperwork.  Life is scary, and police work takes courage.  Let the brave ones, who won't hide behind a gun, but work toward peace, do the street work.

About the shooting of Jack Collins:
About the tasing of Mary McGuire:

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Best Ad Campaign Ever

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Just Another Bum

From Epic Win FTW dot com
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The Joy of Discovering Homelessness!

Anawim Christian Community invites you to their first fundraiser, “Sweets for the Homeless”.  This is a desert social, in which people are free to come, eat a variety of delicious homemade desserts, and to find out more about the homeless and the mentally ill.  There will be opportunities to speak to people who have experienced homelessness and to find out what the homeless really need, as well as being able to help Anawim, a community church for the homeless in Portland and Gresham.  Come for as long as you like and join the fun!

Host: Portland Mennonite Church, 1312 SE 35th Ave, Portland—just a block north of Hawthorne Blvd.
When: Saturday, April 24, 2010 from 6:30-8:30pm
Cost: Free, but please be prepared to bring donations!

Also, if you are unable to attend, please invite others in the Portland area to join in!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Easter Greetings

Got this from one of our Anawim folks today:

JESUS IS ALIVE !  (in english language)
यीशु जीवित है!   (in hindi language) pronounced, "YISHU JIVIT HAI !"
ISA ZINDA HAI !  (in romanized urdu)