Human Rights Are LGBT Rights

Hillary Rodham Clinton gave an amazing address before the United Nations in Geneva today. This is a beautiful speech, both in content and in form, the likes of which I aspire to some day write myself. As I’ve been lacking in original content lately, I figured I’d post something inspiring, interesting, and relevant.

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Continue reading Human Rights Are LGBT Rights


Yesterday was the American holiday of Thanksgiving. I was never particularly taken with the children’s lore of Natives and Pilgrims making peace over shared food as I was always made aware by my academic and sometimes cynical parents about the genocide of Natives and the problems of imperialism.

As a teenager, what I observed most was the sheer gluttony of the holidays; an abundance of food while, in much of the world, people go hungry – we as Americans consume until we enter “food comas”, only to be brought out of them by early morning sales the next day as another display of gluttony and consumerism pervades our collective culture – Black Friday. Continue reading Thanksgiving

Halloween & Samhain

Yesterday was October 31st, which was the holiday of Halloween.

There is an excellent article by Isaac Bonewits about the pagan origins of Halloween, which I highly recommend you read – but I’ll be the first to admit that by now and in mainstream American culture, Halloween is a secular holiday where people dress up in costumes, children get candy, adults get drunk, and everybody has a grand time.

However, I am one of those odd people well acquainted with the pagan origins of Halloween, as I was raised by neo-pagan parents who also happened to be academics. So forgive me as I ramble on about the other less mainstream aspects of this particular holiday. Continue reading Halloween & Samhain

Poetry of the Past – Snippet

Apocalypse Snippet

a burning bush
told me to seek higher ground
to build a boat and float around
for forty days and forty nights
of mighty rain and wind and dark
but there’s no wood for this ark
all the trees have been cut stark
made into paper for a billion Bibles
when all God needed to do was smile
and tell us one word from above: Love

Avens O’Brien, May 2006

I Wasn’t There

Today is September 11, 2011.  Ten years ago today, nineteen terrorists hijacked four commercial airline jets, two of which forever changed the skyline of one of America’s most beloved cities.

I could use this anniversary to talk about how our country came together in the months following the attacks.  I could tell you my perspective on how our politicians did and continue to capitalize on the public’s fear of further attacks.  I could tell you about what I perceive as foreign and domestic policy mishaps prior to and after the attacks, about blowback and wars of concept.  I could tell you that a few months ago we learned that the mastermind behind these attacks met his end at the hands of our Navy Seals.  But those things happened after, and I want to talk about that day, and this one.

I could tell you where I was when it happened.  I could ask you where you were.  But the significance of September 11, 2001 isn’t about you or me.  I can tell you where we weren’t.

Neither of us were one of the nineteen hijackers.

We were not one of the 246 passengers or crew aboard United 93, United 175, American 11 or American 77.

We were not one of the 411 first responding personnel of the FDNY, NYPD, Port Authority Police Department, EMTs or paramedics who died trying to rescue people or fight fires.

We were not one of the 658 employees at Cantor Fitzgerald, nor were we among the 358 employees of March Inc. or the 175 employees of Aon Corporation, all of whom where trapped above the point of impact and had no chance of escape.

In fact, we weren’t one of the 1,355 people in the North Tower at or above point of impact.  We weren’t one of the 107 below who didn’t make it.

We weren’t one of the 630 people in the South Tower, which thankfully had begun evacuating after the North Tower was hit.

We weren’t one of the 125 people killed at the Pentagon, 55 of whom were military personnel.

We weren’t one of the 2,977 innocent people who died that day as a result of this terrorist attack.

I wasn’t there.  I was safe.  I was alive.  I am safe.  I am alive.  I hope you are safe.  If you’re reading this, you are alive.

We are alive.  We’ve been able to process, come to terms with, place blame for, respond, and capitalize on a shared moment in time in which many were murdered – and we live on.

It’s September 11, 2011.  Ten years ago today, nineteen terrorists hijacked four commercial airline jets, two of which forever changed the skyline of one of America’s most beloved cities.

Today is just another day that we are still alive.

I’m appreciative of that fact.  Please, use today to appreciate that fact.

Mid-West Wandering

Dubuque, Iowa.  I cannot believe I’ve been here this long.  The house I’m staying in is set up on a bluff overlooking the city.  If I bothered to wake up early enough, I could sit on the front steps and watch the sun rise in the East over the Mississippi River.  From this vantage point I can see Illinois and Wisconsin.  At night, the same view is littered with blinking and stationary lights – alerting boats and aircraft alike to the position of the bridges. Continue reading Mid-West Wandering

Thoughts on Norway

I was camping in the woods on July 22nd, when Anders Breivik opened fire and killed over 70 people in Norway.

I missed the American media mess of misplaced blame and inaccuracy.  I got back into civilization on July 25th, by then they had figured things out.  However I heard about it, and I feel like Steven Colbert did an excellent job of summing up my thoughts on the subject of knee-jerk journalism.

Along the lines of knee-jerk reactions, I enjoyed this article on how it’s not Islam, it’s Fundamentalism of any faith that causes these sorts of problems.

I’m amused by The Right now claiming Breivik isn’t really a Christian.  They are outraged and offended by the media “labeling him a Christian”.  Sorry, O’Reilly, he is.

I definitely found this particular article interesting, where the writer discusses the crisis of legitimacy – the similarities between American “Birthers” and Breivik’s belief that his own government is illegitimate.

At the end of the day, the events in Norway shocked myself and the world.  They remind us that terrorism can’t be marginalized to a single demographic – it’s not just one religious path, not just one skin color, not one social class.  There are people out there who believe that killing other people, innocent people, will help their cause against their “enemies”.  They are motivated by rationalizations that terrify me, a sincere belief that there is no chance that they are wrong, no perspective to their idealism.  They are fundamentalists – and blood is a perfectly acceptable cost for their cause. Continue reading Thoughts on Norway

Poetry – Wish Gambling

Pin a wish upon a possibility.  Play it safe, or set it free.

Procure a process for consumption, release presumption, let it be.

The chips they fall & scattered lay until we pick them up & say

with which we wished & hoped & prayed & counted upon our hand to play.

She speaks metaphors because she plays with what she’s yearning not to say

but when she pins her wishes high – stars can’t be seen throughout the day.

June 13, 2011

Avens O’Brien

“We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospect.” – Anais Nin