Brittle Skillet

Sparks of passion and items of interest.

Archive for the ‘Considerations’ Category

Peace Prize as a Call to Action for the World

with 4 comments


Update: December 10, 2009 War and Peace?

“My task here is to continue on the path that I believe is not only important for America, but important for lasting peace in the world,” Obama said. His goals include stabilizing Afghanistan, mobilizing an international effort to deal with terrorism and combating climate change.

For the whole article, visit NPR’s Obama Defends U.S. Wars As He Accepts Nobel Prize.

Updated October 12, 2009

At a brief address on the front lawn of the White House this morning, President Obama accepted the award of the Nobel Peace Prize “as a call to action—a call for all nations to confront the common challenges of the 21st century.” Does President Obama deserve this award now? This is perhaps the first question that comes to mind upon hearing the news. Even President Obama judges himself undeserving “to be in the company of so many of the transformative figures who’ve been honored by this prize.”

Given what seems to be his life purpose, I believe he is deserving. However, there is still time needed to assess his actual achievements towards peace. Two obvious, top-of-mind areas of long-needed “peaceful” progress are the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. While the outcomes of these conflicts are tenuous and mired in complexity, we are in the middle of creating this history. Ultimately, time will judge how deserving President Obama is of today’s honor.

I have complete faith that Obama’s genuine intentions lead him to work for cooperation and best possible outcomes among a diversity of world views and motivations (which ultimately equates to peace). Can he effectively activate these good and genuine intentions? Can he successfully achieve the cooperation the world needs for peaceful outcomes?

These are questions that will be answered not only by the actions of our president, but also by the actions of leaders of other nations around the world. Cooperation does not come from one source; it is co-operative, necessitating genuine intentions for the best possible outcomes among a diversity of world views from the very holders of those world views.

As reflected in his speech this morning, he is fully aware that, “These challenges can’t be met by any one leader or any one nation.” So, in the end, how will we judge how deserving or not President Obama is? This reminds me that the success of any one of us is not based solely on our own efforts. We need a certain amount of cooperation for any success at all.

To view and hear President Obama’s six-minute reaction to the award, please visit THE BLOG: Building a World that “Gives LIfe to the Promise of Our Founding Documents”.

Related article: Nobel Surprise, by Hendrik Hertzberg

Graphic courtesy of P/\UL 

© Julie Pierce and Brittle Skillet, 2009-2011.


Written by Julie Pierce

October 9, 2009 at 1:22 pm

Our Terminally Ill Situation: Reality Check from the White House

with 6 comments

nurseUpdated 08/19/09

Beautiful! just launched a new site called Reality Check. Here’s where the Obama Administration tries to lay it all out in video and text. Here’s where they make a stab at answering the myriad questions we all have about what the trendy phrase “health insurance reform” actually means, debunking myths and rumors.

If you have a question or a myth that you’d like addressed, pop open the contact form and ask away. You can identify yourself or remain anonymous. The only identity requirement is an email address, which you could create for just this one communication. is a related site that’s been up for a while now. Here, the many different facets of the larger health reform challenge are examined and shared. The site includes examples of state and community health systems that are successful in terms of efficiency and economy — examples to be learned from. Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of the Department of Health & Human Services presents weekly video updates sharing where we are on the map of progress in a generalized summary statement.

Between these two sites, we have the opportunity to gain a real understanding of the challenges, issues, conflicts, dilemmas, and possible solutions of a system that itself is terminally ill. Change is imminent. It must occur. We cannot carry on the way we are now. The cost of health care must be reduced, education for self-care and prevention must be increased, the option to receive care must be available to all Americans, and this can only happen via improved efficiencies.

Don’t give up on the idea that we can have a better health care system. Let’s look at what compromises each side of the debate can make while still not compromising the larger value of a reliable health care system from which everyone — every single American citizen — can benefit. Let’s do what’s necessary to move our country forward.

Setting the Record Straight (launched 08/19/09)
“Where we do disagree, let’s disagree over things that are real, not these wild misrepresentations that bear no resemblance to anything that’s actually been proposed.” -President Obama

Graphic by Jolante

© Julie Pierce and Brittle Skillet, 2009-2011.

Written by Julie Pierce

August 10, 2009 at 3:31 pm

Sotomayor Wins Senate Judiciary Committee Vote

with 2 comments

By Jay Tamboli

What an exciting, historic success! Sonia Sotomayor is well on her way to taking her place on our country’s highest court as the first Hispanic Supreme Court Justice. With the Senate Judiciary Committee voting 13 to 6 in her favor, the expected outcome for next week’s full Senate vote is confirmation.

Despite the GOP’s efforts to distract focus with “look-over-here” tactics, the vote for she who can execute justice according to the rule of law without influence of her own biases and preferences has been firmly achieved. We’re moving forward, people!

Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina was the only Republican to vote today with the Democratic majority for Sotomayor. Who would have imagined? In reaction to the vote, he even went so far as to say, “America has changed for the better with her selection.”

Senator Graham, your choice and standout action to vote against the rest of your party reinforces hope that we are closer to the day when our leaders and representatives are playing less of the politics game and making decisions based more on America’s best interest. Thank you, Sir.

Photo by Jay Tamboli

© Julie Pierce and Brittle Skillet, 2009-2011.

Written by Julie Pierce

July 28, 2009 at 10:49 am

U.S. and China on Common Ground: Strategic and Economic Dialogue

with 3 comments


Once again, we see progress with the Obama Administration. In the area of foreign policy, today was a monumental day. In the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center in Washington, D.C., the U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue was opened with its inaugural session.

In an op-ed piece published by the Wall Street Journal, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Secretary of the Treasury Timothy Geithner explain the objectives of this historical dialogue. The collaborative connection between China and the U.S. is highlighted and emphasized as a significant venture for the global economy and the future of our world.

In a nutshell, there are three main modules of the larger area objectives:

  • Establishment of global economic recovery and sustainable global economic growth
  • Progress with the inseparable challenges of climate change, energy, and the environment
  • Achievement of globally favorable practices in the face of security and development challenges

Although this is an official dialogue opened between the U.S. and China, other nations will need to be engaged as these two work to discover viable solutions. Secretary Clinton and Secretary Geithner write, “few global problems can be solved by the U.S. or China alone. And few can be solved without the U.S. and China together.”

It will be interesting to watch the dialogue develop and unfold. How will these two nations work together? How will their coming together influence the rest of the world’s nations to unify toward global goals? Can we be as encouraged as to hope that human rights will be one of the details under “globally favorable practices in the face of security and development challenges”?

I take encouragement from a front-page article from China Daily. Despite the downplay by foreign press and various “experts,” some in China are seeing the dialogue as an important achievement.

I am optimistic for a progressive turn of events. There is light dawning at the end of a long, dark tunnel. Thank you, President Obama for carrying the torch.

Photo by

© Julie Pierce and Brittle Skillet, 2009-2011.

Written by Julie Pierce

July 27, 2009 at 6:59 pm

The Good Critic: How To Critique

with 2 comments

By PresleyJesus

Everyone’s a critic all right. Sometimes that can be helpful, but most of the time it’s a drag. Especially when your a writer. Who are these people with their slicing comments and degrading suggestions? Why would someone actually say, “This sucks,” even if they don’t like it, or “Why don’t you just slit your wrists now?” It’s nothing but hurtful.

Writing is a process. It doesn’t always come out right the first time. That’s why we need feedback. It helps correct course and approach. But blatantly thrown rocks and knives do nothing but destroy us.

It’s not that we only want to hear the good things, but the difference between constructive criticism and a cruel blow is the difference between an improvement to a manuscript and a really crappy day, wherein we may want to slit our wrists.

So if you are ever asked for your opinion about someone’s writing, be thoughtful and truthful, but also be kind. There’s no need to say, “Well, my friend, you may want to stop with this writing fantasy of yours. Besides you don’t really have time for a hobby.”

Instead, why not suggest that you’re not the best critic for this job because the story is not generally the type you like. Or perhaps you could just smile and pick the one thing you did enjoy about it, like how cool the title is, or how well you like the font.

In her blog post from July 4, 2009, Anne R. Allen lays it out perfectly and offers great advice to writers everywhere, no matter what they write. Her suggestions of how to deal with a self-appointed critic are golden. Anne also tells us where to solicit a critique and where to avoid it. This is the good stuff.

Photo by PresleyJesus

© Julie Pierce and Brittle Skillet, 2009-2011.

Written by Julie Pierce

July 25, 2009 at 6:52 pm

Teaching Our Kids Respect

leave a comment »

By g-hat

We must teach our kids respect. The state of our society depends on it. I’m not sure how or why, but our culture, in the main, seems to have left this lesson by the roadside.

Respect for authority and our elders and choices about what language is okay are important aspects of the bigger picture. But what I’m specifically targeting here is respect for self and respect for others. I believe that if these foundational aspects of respect are instilled from the very start, the other types of respect will fall into place.

I realize that I am making broad generalizations here, but these generalizations seem perfectly appropriate to the prevalent lack of these two types of respect within our larger American society today. CNN’s series Black in America offers great examples of how this segment of our population is addressing the challenge of respect in their own ways within the scope of their larger challenges to give their kids a fighting chance toward future success. But on the whole and across our communities at large, the opportunity and need for these lessons is greater than the response to them.

There is a group of people for whom the natural biological drive is to conquer and control the world around them, abusing resources, including people, to achieve their own pleasure or success. The self-selecting members of this Group A are usually, but not always, boys.

By contrast and in compliment, there is a second group of people for whom the natural biological drive is to nurture and support, accommodate and supply. The self-selecting members of this Group B are usually, but not always, girls. By nature, A and B are a perfect fit.

Specifically, and here I continue the broad generalizations, the lesson of society for the Group A member child is that he should make the world his own. Group A member children are taught that complying with parents or other authority is often a good strategy to ultimately get what they want and keep the waters calm. But ultimately, it is for the selfish execution of his own gain, not the cooperative gain, and it leads to the neglect of this child’s own inner moral checkpoints.

In general, members of Group B are taught to gain the positive attention and approval of others, to please others frequently at the cost of their own inner motivations. At some point in childhood, this lesson translates itself into the Group B member child turning these external motivators into internal motivators. This practice leads to the neglect of this child’s own inner voice and her inner moral checkpoints.

I am not suggesting that we deny nature, but rather work with it. The strengths and natural leaning of Group A members and Group B members are useful and good for the cooperative progress of community. However, the natural biological drives, instead of being enhanced by what our culture is currently teaching, should be consciously recognized as such, and then monitored and modified, redirected with intentional choice and an awareness of consequences.

Respect for others builds a foundation for compassion and deters against harming and exploiting others. Respect for self keeps our ears open to our own inner motivations and enables us to exercise a balance between nurturing and supporting others while nurturing and supporting ourselves. Both kinds of respect provide a mechanism of guidance from moral checkpoints that we, presumably, also learn along the way to adulthood. The first place a child of either group learns both kinds of respect is by watching the adults around him model it. Let’s all practice respect.

Resources that suggest how to teach and model respect:

Photo by g-hat

© Julie Pierce and Brittle Skillet, 2009-2011.

Written by Julie Pierce

July 24, 2009 at 6:52 pm

Phone and Crash: Driving While Distracted

with one comment


Updated Aug 27, 2009
Updated Aug 25, 2009
Updated Aug 13, 2009

I have a simple request for every human on our planet: no driving while distracted.

Is it really necessary to be talking on the phone or texting at the very same time you drive from here to there? If you must talk right now, if the conversation cannot wait till your vehicle has come to a complete stop (for the duration of the conversation), then pull over.

This is a matter of life and death. It’s as significant as drinking and driving. The severity of the situation is eloquently explained and supported in William Saletan’s article Driving While Interrogated on He includes quoted information from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in a never-released draft of proposed policy.

I realize it’s easier to suggest pulling over for a phone call than it is in actual practice — there isn’t always a safe and convenient place to pull over. But that’s only one of the suggestions that Saletan makes in his article. In fact, he provides four reasonably conceived solutions that could be effective with enforcement. Well, that’s my opinion. He’s not so sure himself.

Here in Seattle, we do have a not-so-effective hands-free law, which states that you must be using a hands-free technology when phoning while driving. The irritatingly amusing thing is that no one seems to have gotten the memo. It’s illegal to drive and hold the phone simultaneously, Seattlelites! Of course, the law makes talking into a handset while driving a secondary misdemeanor so you can’t be pulled over specifically for that.

Regardless of whether Slaten’s got the answers or not, we must think about the choices we make while driving. It’s not just how our choices have an impact on our immediate world — me, my passengers, and my vehicle — but everyone else on the road too. As with anything that takes our brain away from the task of driving, we are in a state of consciousness that endangers all the other citizens of the road, including the undecided squirrels and misguided armadillos.

Maureen Dowd, distinguished op-ed columnist for the New York Times, is with me and Saletan on this one! How about you?

Added Aug 13, 2009:
More coverage on driving while distracted from the Washington Post brings home the point even further. The fact that many states have laws against talking and texting while driving, and all of these laws are executable only as secondary offenses illustrates the lame jab at the situation taken by lawmakers. There is virtually no way to enforce these laws. And although the American public pays lip service to being irritated by drivers acting irresponsibly in this way, which one of us is driving without talking or texting all of the time?

View the quiz from the Washington Post, and then return here to share your thoughts about talking and texting while driving and related laws.

Added Aug 25, 2009:
A PSA presented in the U.K. leaves no doubts about the dangers. The link in the previous sentence takes you to an article about the PSA, in which you’ll find a link to the PSA itself. Be ware, the PSA is very graphic and disturbing, achieving the desired effect. Perhaps we need a strong message of the same ilk for our public here in the U.S. Without it, are we getting the message?

Added Aug 27, 2009:
John Cook of TechFlash shares another poll from PEMCO about texting while driving and considers whether it should be a primary offense.

Graphic by Mike “Dakinewavamon” Kline

© Julie Pierce and Brittle Skillet, 2009-2011.

Written by Julie Pierce

July 23, 2009 at 7:33 pm