Monday, December 31, 2007
Sunday, December 30, 2007
The most important story to come out of Washington recently had nothing to do with the endless presidential campaign. And although the media largely ignored it, the story changes the world.There is a negative side:
The story's unlikely source was the staid World Bank, which published updated statistics on the economic output of 146 countries. China's economy, said the bank, is smaller than it thought.
About 40% smaller.
China's political stability may be more fragile than thought. The country faces huge domestic challenges -- an aging population lacking any form of social security, wholesale problems in the financial system that dwarf those revealed in the U.S. sub-prime loan mess and the breakdown of its health system. These problems are as big as ever, but China has fewer resources to meet them than we thought. Read the rest.
Saturday, December 29, 2007
Friday, December 28, 2007
Wednesday, December 26, 2007
Monday, December 24, 2007
1In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. 2(This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) 3And everyone went to his own town to register.
4So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. 5He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. 6While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, 7and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.Luke 2:1-7
Approximately 1,000 Iraqi citizens, of both Shia and Sunni religions, joined together on the sectarian fault line in Rawaniyah, the Karkh District of Baghdad, to march with one another in what they called a “Peace March”, Dec. 19. Read More.
Saturday, December 22, 2007
“Marriage changes men more pervasively and more profoundly than it changes women,” explains sociologist Steven Nock, author of Marriage in Men’s Lives. “The best way to put it is, marriage is for men what motherhood is for women.” Marriage makes men grow up. Nock observes that many men before marriage are indifferent workers, and, after hours, are likely to be found in bars or zoned out in front of a TV. After marriage, they are solid wage earners, frequent churchgoers, maybe members of a neighborhood protection association. But divorce takes that underpinning away, leaving men strangely infantilized and unsure of their place in the world. They feel like interlopers in the stands at their children’s soccer games or in the auditorium for their school plays. Read the rest.
Thursday, December 20, 2007
When seen in this perspective, well, that is just scary.
How old were you when you became aware of who the President of the United States was? Maybe, 5 years old?
I was thinking about the possibility that Hillary Clinton would be elected President in 2008, and then again in 2012. If that were to happen, then it means she wouldn't leave office until the year 2017.
What it would also mean is that anyone in their early 30s, in the year 2017, would only know a world in which either a Bush or a Clinton was President.
Monday, December 17, 2007
A radical new idea has recently been presented by Jean-Pierre Houdin, a French architect who has devoted the last seven years of his life to making detailed computer models of the Great Pyramid. Using start-of-the-art 3-D software developed by Dassault Systemes, combined with an initial suggestion of Henri Houdin, his engineer father, the architect has concluded that a ramp was indeed used to raise the blocks to the top, and that the ramp still exists--inside the pyramid! Read More.
A pastor who says Stacy Peterson confided in him a few weeks before she went missing spilled details of their alleged conversation on national TV a few days ago. Was that ethical?Not on national TV it isn't.
Schori said Peterson blurted out that her husband had killed his third wife, Kathleen Savio. Savio's 2004 death was ruled an accidental bathtub drowning then, but is being reinvestigated.
Schori said he feared for Stacy Peterson, but didn't contact authorities until she disappeared. At that point, he also talked to the media -- a move that some Christian ethicists question.
"If a person is in imminent danger, that supersedes confidentiality," said Vincent Bacote of the Center for Applied Ethics at Wheaton College. "Calling the police is a lot different than going on CNN." Read More.
Saturday, December 15, 2007
As Christmas draws near, Pastor John Foster won't be decorating a tree, shopping for last-minute gifts or working on a holiday sermon for his flock. After all, it's been 50 years since Christmas was anything more than a day of the week to him.
He's one of very few American Christians who follow what used to be the norm in many Protestant denominations--rejecting the celebration of Christmas on religious grounds.
"People don't think of it this way, but it's really a secular holiday," said Foster, a Princeton-based pastor in the United Church of God. He last celebrated Christmas when he was 8.
His church's objection to Christmas is rare among U.S. Christians. Gallup polls from 1994 to 2005 consistently show that more than 90 percent of adults say they celebrate Christmas, including 84 percent of non-Christians.
That's a huge change from an earlier era, when many Protestants ignored or actively opposed the holiday. But as it gradually became popular as a family celebration, churches followed their members in making peace with Christmas. Read More.
Thursday, December 13, 2007
A tow truck driver, upset over a recent ticket, tried to tow a Gresham police cruiser Thursday. Police said Steven Syverson, 32, was arrested after he hooked his truck to the marked police vehicle while the officer was responding to a domestic disturbance call. The police press release said the arrest unfolded this way: Read More.
Sect's Kidney Donations Pose Dilemma for Doctors; A Member's Mom Objects. Read the rest.
This bit of history may sound familiar: Japanese warplanes stage a surprise attack in December on the U.S. Navy. But this incident occurred four years before Pearl Harbor. The sinking of the USS Panay is pretty much forgotten now. But it was one of the biggest news stories of 1937. Read More.
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
The three main minorities in the United States -- blacks, Hispanics and Asians -- have little trust for each other and hold prejudiced views about Americans of different ethnic origins to their own, a poll showed Wednesday.
"This extraordinary poll reveals some unflattering realities that exist in America today," said Sandy Close, head of new America Media (NAM) which sponsored the poll together with ethnic media groups.
Forty-four percent of Hispanics and 47 percent of Asians are "afraid of African-Americans because they are responsible for most of the crime," the survey of 1,105 adults drawn from the three ethnic groups showed.
More than half of black Americans polled and 46 percent of Hispanics said Asian business owners do not treat them with respect.
And half of African-Americans said Latin American immigrants "are taking jobs, housing and political power away from the black community." Read More.
Monday, December 10, 2007
In China it is known as the “sacred doctrine” and it has become one of the country’s bestselling books. Yet it has nothing to do with the thoughts of Chairman Mao and its teachings have been in conflict with the forces of Communism for generations.
Demand for the Bible is soaring in China, at a time when meteoric economic growth is testing the country’s allegiance to Communist doctrine. Today the 50 millionth Bible will roll off the presses of China’s only authorised publisher, Amity Printing, amid public fanfare and celebration. Read More.
Every night, columns of hulking blue and red freight trucks invade China’s major cities with a reverberating roar of engines and dark clouds of diesel exhaust so thick it dims headlights. Read More.
Saturday, December 08, 2007
In today's Washington Post, Pete Hegseth, executive director of Vets for Freedom, has coauthored an op-ed with...wait for it...Major General John Batiste.
Batiste, you will remember, is the formerly "antiwar" general who spoke out against Donald Rumsfeld, and who, until recently, was a Board Member of VoteVets.org (the antiwar MoveOn.org vets front group). Read More.
The passionate, sometimes rhythmic, language-like patter that pours forth from religious people who “speak in tongues” reflects a state of mental possession, many of them say. Now they have some neuroscience to back them up.
Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania took brain images of five women while they spoke in tongues and found that their frontal lobes — the thinking, willful part of the brain through which people control what they do — were relatively quiet, as were the language centers. The regions involved in maintaining self-consciousness were active. The women were not in blind trances, and it was unclear which region was driving the behavior. Read More.
Thursday, December 06, 2007
Rick Warren, the influential pastor of the Saddleback megachurch in Orange County, Calif., invited eight presidential candidates to speak at his third annual "Global Summit on AIDS and the Church," but only Hillary Clinton came. (Five other candidates made appearances via pretaped video.) Read More.
Wednesday, December 05, 2007
Rarely in U.S. history has a political party diagnosed a major failure in the country's approach to a crucial issue of the day, led a national referendum on the failing policy, forced a change in that policy that led to major substantive benefits for the nation — and then categorically refused to take any credit whatsoever for doing so. Read More.
Monday, December 03, 2007
AMID much publicity last year, the National Geographic Society announced that a lost 3rd-century religious text had been found, the Gospel of Judas Iscariot. The shocker: Judas didn’t betray Jesus. Instead, Jesus asked Judas, his most trusted and beloved disciple, to hand him over to be killed. Judas’s reward? Ascent to heaven and exaltation above the other disciples. Read the rest.
So while I believe Osteen is doing a good work in many ways, it just strikes me as not being the whole Gospel message.
Update on Osteen and Warren. Must admit this is a good thing and Warren is spot on.
“You don’t have to be a Christian to get his message of hope — that no matter where you are in life, you can be better and do better,” said Berning, 51.
Osteen connects with a broad audience, including many who do not attend church regularly or watch Christian television.
“My core message is to bring hope and encouragement, and that’s what I’m best at,” he said in a soft Southern accent. Read More.
And Warren makes me proud:
He has not taken a salary from his Houston megachurch for two years. He owns one house — the same one he and his wife, Victoria, have lived in for 13 years — and until recently he drove a 9-year-old car he inherited from his late father. Osteen pays his own hotel bills, and there is no private jet.
Although the upbeat minister does take collections at services, netting an estimated $43 million a year, Osteen does not ask for money on his broadcasts, which reach an estimated 7 million viewers weekly in the U.S. and 100 other countries. Nonetheless, an additional $30 million comes through the mail. His most recent book deal earned him a $13 million advance.
“We make plenty of money from our books,” said Osteen, 44. “But we just live normal lives. We try to be conservative and honor God with our life and with our example.”
Osteen refuses to condemn the targets of Grassley’s inquiry, or Richard Roberts, who quit as president of Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Okla., amid charges that he used school funds and facilities for his family.
“While I never like to hear negative things about friends and other ministers, I choose to believe the very best in them,” Osteen said.
Warren, for example, has repaid every dollar he has earned in the pulpit of Saddleback Church in Orange County, Calif., and pledged to give away 90 percent of his book royalties. He accepts no speaking fees and is not as reluctant as Osteen to criticize those who are less altruistic.
“The opulent lifestyles of televangelists make me sick,” said Warren, of those ministries now under investigation. The scandals, he said, flow from the “prosperity gospel” that many televangelists preach.
“Success in any area often creates a spirit of entitlement — ‘I deserve this’ — that is the exact opposite of servant leadership,” Warren said.Osteen agrees, offering his own definition of the prosperity gospel: “I never preach a message on money,” he said. “I do believe that God wants us to be blessed, to have good marriages, to have peace in our minds, to have health, to have money to pay our bills. I think God wants us to excel. But everyone isn’t going to be rich — if we’re talking about money.” Link.
President Hugo Chavez suffered a stunning defeat Monday in a referendum that would have let him run for re-election indefinitely and impose a socialist system in this major U.S. oil provider.
Voters defeated the sweeping measures Sunday by a vote of 51 percent to 49 percent, said Tibisay Lucena, chief of the National Electoral Council, with voter turnout at just 56 percent. Read More.
Sunday, December 02, 2007
Hate for gays, Catholics, blacks anything that is not there brand of what it means to be a Christian.
I can honestly say don't go to Theology Online. The admin there is petty and a disgrace for what it means to be a Christian.
God grant me the mercy and grace to never be like that.
Friday, November 30, 2007
Republicans are significantly more likely than Democrats or independents to rate their mental health as excellent, according to data from the last four November Gallup Health and Healthcare polls. Fifty-eight percent of Republicans report having excellent mental health, compared to 43% of independents and 38% of Democrats. This relationship between party identification and reports of excellent mental health persists even within categories of income, age, gender, church attendance, and education. Read More.
Thursday, November 29, 2007
Richard Roberts told students at Oral Roberts University that he did not want to resign as president of the scandal-plagued evangelical school, but that he did so because God insisted.
God told him on Thanksgiving that he should resign the next day, Roberts told students in the university’s chapel on Wednesday.
Amazing how he hear's from God, and now this is going to happen.
Roberts said he would return to the full-time evangelistic healing ministry, ‘’which is where my heart has always been,'’ and told students and faculty that he will be praying for them every day of his life. Read More.
Here's something to be thankful for. Amid the potentially deadly turkey dressing, gravy and pie on your Thanksgiving Day table, there will likely be one of the healthiest foods on the planet. In fact, if it were just discovered today, it would probably be ranked among the top medical discoveries of the year, if not the decade. Read More.
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
"Roughly 50 percent of Americans do not possess the competence and drive necessary to carve out a meaningful role for themselves in society," said California Senator Barbara Boxer. "We can no longer stand by and allow People of Inability to be ridiculed and passed over. With this legislation, employers will no longer be able to grant special favors to a small group of workers, simply because they have some idea of what they are doing."
In a Capitol Hill press conference, House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid pointed to the success of the U.S. Postal Service, which has a long standing policy of providing opportunity without regard to performance. Approximately 74 percent of postal employees lack any job skills, making this agency the single largest U.S. employer of Persons of Inability.
Private-sector industries with good records of nondiscrimination against the Inept include retail sales (72%), the airline industry (68%), and home improvement "warehouse" stores (65%). At the state government level, the Department of Motor Vehicles also has a great record of hiring Persons of Inability (63%)
Under the Americans With No Abilities Act, more than 25 million "middle man" positions will be created, with important-sounding titles but little real responsibility, thus providing an illusory sense of purpose and performance.
Mandatory non-performance-based raises and promotions will be given, to guarantee upward mobility for even the most unremarkable employees. The legislation provides substantial tax breaks to corporations that promote a significant number of Persons of Inability into middle-management positions, and gives a tax credit to small and medium-sized businesses that agree to hire one clueless worker for every two talented hires.
Finally, the AWNA Act contains tough new measures to make it more difficult to discriminate against the Non-ables, banning, for example, discriminatory interview questions such as "Do you have any skills or experience which relate to the job?"
"As a Non-abled person, I can't be expected to keep up with people who have something going for them," said Mary Lou Gertz, who lost her position as a lug-nut twister at the GM plant in Flint, Michigan, due to her lack of any discernible job skills. "This new law should really help people like me." With the passage of this bill, Gertz and millions of other untalented citizens will finally see a light at the end of the tunnel.
Said Senator Ted Splash Kennedy: "As a Senator With No Abilities, I believe the same privileges that elected officials enjoy ought to be extended to every American with no abilities. It is our duty as lawmakers to provide each and every American citizen, regardless of his or her adequacy, with some sort of space to take up in this great nation".
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
For much of the past decade, business recruiters, cities and urban developers have focused on the "young and restless," the "creative class," and the so-called "yuspie" -- the young urban single professional. Cities, they've said, should capture this so-called "dream demographic" if they wish to inhabit the top tiers of the economic food chain and enjoy the fastest and most sustained growth...Here's the part that is not surprising.
Married people with children tend to be both successful and motivated, precisely the people who make economies go. They are twice as likely to be in the top 20% of income earners, according to the Census, and their incomes have been rising considerably faster than the national average.
Indeed, if you talk with recruiters and developers in the nation's fastest growing regions, you find that the critical ability to lure skilled workers, long term, lies not with bright lights and nightclubs, but with ample economic opportunities, affordable housing and family friendly communities not too distant from work. "People who come here tend to be people who have long commutes elsewhere, and who have young children," notes Pat Riley, president of Alan Tate company, a large residential brokerage in Charlotte, N.C. "They want to be somewhere where they don't miss their kids growing up because there's no time."
There is a basic truth about the geography of young, educated people. They may first migrate to cities like New York, Los Angeles, Boston or San Francisco. But they tend to flee when they enter their child-rearing years. Family-friendly metropolitan regions have seen the biggest net gains of professionals, largely because they not only attract workers, but they also retain them through their 30s and 40s. Read More.
Why haven't they figured this out already?
As the holiday season begins, 67% of American adults like stores to use the phrase “Merry Christmas” in their seasonal advertising rather than “Happy Holidays.” A Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey found that just 26% prefer the Happy Holidays line.
There is no gender gap on this question and few demographic differences. From a politically partisan perspective, 88% of Republicans prefer “Merry Christmas” while just 57% of favor the saying. Read More.
Monday, November 26, 2007
All Linda Katz had to do was step outside of her house to make thousands on the Internet. Now the Midwestern entrepreneur is building a business selling a piece of the old west online: tumbleweeds. Read More.
Sunday, November 25, 2007
THE Archbishop of Canterbury has said that the United States wields its power in a way that is worse than Britain during its imperial heyday.
Rowan Williams claimed that America’s attempt to intervene overseas by “clearing the decks” with a “quick burst of violent action” had led to “the worst of all worlds”.
In a wide-ranging interview with a British Muslim magazine, the Anglican leader linked criticism of the United States to one of his most pessimistic declarations about the state of western civilisation.
He said the crisis was caused not just by America’s actions but also by its misguided sense of its own mission. He poured scorn on the “chosen nation myth of America, meaning that what happens in America is very much at the heart of God’s purpose for humanity”. Read More.
Saturday, November 24, 2007
For many, the resignation of Oral Roberts University's embattled president, Richard Roberts, seemed to be a question of when, not if, amid the financial scandal that hit the school nearly two months ago.
Roberts, facing accusations in the lawsuit that he misspent school funds to support a lavish lifestyle, resigned Friday.
"Those who have seen what we have seen won't have any surprise about the fact that Richard has stepped down," said attorney Gary Richardson, who brought a wrongful termination lawsuit against Roberts last month on behalf of three of the university's professors. "There was no option, period." Read More.
As violence declines in Baghdad, the leading Democratic presidential candidates are undertaking a new and challenging balancing act on Iraq: acknowledging that success, trying to shift the focus to the lack of political progress there, and highlighting more domestic concerns like health care and the economy. Read More.
President Hugo Chavez warned his supporters on Friday that anyone voting against his proposed constitutional changes would be a "traitor," rallying his political base before a referendum that would let him seek unlimited re-election in 2012 and beyond.
Brandishing a little red book listing his desired 69 revisions to Venezuela's charter, Chavez exhorted his backers to redouble their efforts toward a victorious "yes" vote in the Dec. 2 ballot.
"He who says he supports Chavez but votes 'no' is a traitor, a true traitor," the president told an arena packed with red-clad supporters. "He's against me, against the revolution and against the people." Read More.
Friday, November 23, 2007
It does not have the drama of the Inchon landing or the sweep of the Union comeback in the summer of 1864. But the turnabout of American fortunes in Iraq over the past several months is of equal moment -- a war seemingly lost, now winnable. The violence in Iraq has been dramatically reduced. Political allegiances have been radically reversed. The revival of ordinary life in many cities is palpable. Something important is happening. Read the rest.
Had Toni Vernelli gone ahead with her pregnancy ten years ago, she would know at first hand what it is like to cradle her own baby, to have a pair of innocent eyes gazing up at her with unconditional love, to feel a little hand slipping into hers - and a voice calling her Mummy.
But the very thought makes her shudder with horror.
Because when Toni terminated her pregnancy, she did so in the firm belief she was helping to save the planet. Read More.
Democrats like to define themselves as the party of poor and middle-income Americans, but a new study says they now represent the majority of the nation's wealthiest congressional districts.In a state-by-state, district-by-district comparison of wealth concentrations based on Internal Revenue Service income data, Michael Franc, vice president of government relations at the Heritage Foundation, found that the majority of the nation's wealthiest congressional jurisdictions were represented by Democrats.He also found that more than half of the wealthiest households were concentrated in the 18 states where Democrats hold both Senate seats.
"If you take the wealthiest one-third of the 435 congressional districts, we found that the Democrats represent about 58 percent of those jurisdictions," Mr. Franc said. Read More.
Thursday, November 22, 2007
A local woman has a good reason to be thankful this holiday. A customer she met at the grocery store where she works left her a big thank-you when he died.Eva Betts has greeted customers with a smile for more than ten years at Cosentinos Market in Brookside, but one customer thanked her for her hospitality in a way she never dreamed possible. Read More.
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
Seattle public schools want a side of political correctness served on your Thanksgiving table.
Washington state's largest school district sent letters to teachers and other employees suggesting Thanksgiving should be "a time of mourning" for its Native American students.
The memo, from Caprice Hollins, the district's director of Equity, Race & Learning Support, included an attachment to a paper titled "Deconstructing the Myths of 'The First Thanksgiving.'"
It includes 11 "myths" disputing everything from what was served at the first Thanksgiving (no mashed potatoes or cranberries) and who provided the food to the nature of the Pilgrims themselves: Myth No. 3 calls the colonists "rigid fundamentalists" who came to the New World "fully intending to take the land away from its native inhabitants."
But what got the Internet abuzz was Myth No. 11: "Thanksgiving is a happy time." It was followed by "Fact: For many Indian people, 'Thanksgiving' is a time of mourning ... a bitter reminder of 500 years of betrayal returned for friendship." Read More.
A pensioner who clocks up more than 250 miles a week cycling across the Brecon Beacons is proving it is never too late to take up exercise.
Bert Brett, 72, from Merthyr Tydfil, has been cycling for only 10 years, but he has sometimes beaten men half his age in time trials.
He will pick up his 10th consecutive trophy for being the fastest senior citizen in town on Saturday.
His wife Elsie, 92, keeps fit by using an exercise bike at their home.
Most days Mr Brett can be seen pedalling his way over the Brecon Beacons, on to Cardiff and then back home to Merthyr. Read More.
The figures are hard to estimate precisely but the process could involve hundreds of thousands of people. The numbers are certainly large enough, as we report today, for a mass convoy to be planned next week as Iraqis who had opted for exile in Syria return to their homeland. It is one of the most striking signs that not only has violence in Baghdad and adjacent provinces decreased dramatically in recent months, but confidence in the economic and political future of Iraq has risen sharply. Nor is this movement the action of men and women who could easily reverse course and turn back again. Tighter visa restrictions imposed by Damascus mean that those who are returning to Iraq cannot assume that they could quickly retreat again to Syria if that suited them. This is, for many, a one-way decision. It represents a vote of confidence in Iraq. Read More.
Monday, November 19, 2007
The story is so absurd, so unfair, so ludicrous, I had a difficult time believing that it could actually happen - even in Boulder.
It's about a couple named Don and Susie Kirlin. They moved to the city in 1980. A few years later, the Kirlins purchased a plot of land near their residence, hoping to someday build a "dream home."
"We took advantage of the market in the early '80s," says Susie Kirlin, almost apologetic for making a smart investment.
Children interfered slightly with the master plan - three of them in the next few years - postponing any development of the property.
As the children began to make their own way in life, the couple decided it was time to finally develop the property in late 2006.
By then, it was too late.
Despite owning the land, despite living only 200 yards from the property, despite hiking past it every week with their three dogs, despite spraying for weeds and fixing fences, despite paying homeowner association dues and property taxes each year, someone else had taken a shine to it. Someone powerful.
Former Boulder District Judge, Boulder Mayor, RTD board member - among other elected positions - Richard McLean and his wife, attorney Edith Stevens, used an arcane common law called "adverse possession" to claim the land for their own.
All McLean needed was to develop an
"attachment" to it. Read More.
History: Karol and I bought this car 19 years ago. When we went to South Africa we sold it to my brother and am now buying it back (at a good price! Thanks bro.)
We're floundering in a quagmire in Iraq. Our strategy is flawed, and it's too late to change it. Our resources have been squandered, our best people killed, we're hated by the natives and our reputation around the world is circling the drain. We must withdraw.
No, I'm not channeling Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. I'm channeling Osama bin Laden, for whom the war in Iraq has been a catastrophe. Al-Qaida had little presence in Iraq during the regime of Saddam Hussein. But once he was toppled, al-Qaida's chieftains decided to make Iraq the central front in the global jihad against the Great Satan.
"The most important and serious issue today for the whole world is this third world war, which the Crusader-Zionist coalition began against the Islamic nation," Osama bin Laden said in an audiotape posted on Islamic Web sites in December 2004. "It is raging in the land of the Two Rivers. The world's millstone and pillar is Baghdad, the capital of the caliphate."
Jihadis, money and weapons were poured into Iraq. All for naught. Al-Qaida has been driven from every neighborhood in Baghdad, Maj. Gen. Joseph Fil, the U.S. commander there, said Nov. 7. This follows the expulsion of al-Qaida from two previous "capitals" of its Islamic Republic of Iraq, Ramadi and Baquba. Read More.
While blondes may have more fun, a new study suggests that fair-haired ladies may be making those around them dumber.
Researchers found that men's scores on general knowledge tests drop when they are shown photos of blonde women, the Sunday Times of London reported.
Upon further inspection, it was found that the test subjects were not distracted by the light hair, but driven by social stereotypes to "think blonde." Read More.
Sunday, November 18, 2007
Last month, James Watson, the legendary biologist, was condemned and forced into retirement after claiming that African intelligence wasn't "the same as ours." "Racist, vicious and unsupported by science," said the Federation of American Scientists. "Utterly unsupported by scientific evidence," declared the U.S. government's supervisor of genetic research. The New York Times told readers that when Watson implied "that black Africans are less intelligent than whites, he hadn't a scientific leg to stand on."
I wish these assurances were true. They aren't. Tests do show an IQ deficit, not just for Africans relative to Europeans, but for Europeans relative to Asians. Economic and cultural theories have failed to explain most of the pattern, and there's strong preliminary evidence that part of it is genetic. It's time to prepare for the possibility that equality of intelligence, in the sense of racial averages on tests, will turn out not to be true. Read the rest.
1. Ron Paul is inconsistent. Though he calls himself a man of principle and is apparently admired as such by his ardent fans, his principles seem somewhat elastic. He rails against the Bush administration for its supposed assault on civil liberties, yet when he was asked at one of the debates whether Scooter Libby deserved a pardon, he said no. “He doesn’t deserve one because he was instrumental in leading the Congress and the people to support a war that we didn’t need to be in.” Notice that he didn’t say it was because Libby was guilty of committing a crime. No, because Libby argued for a policy with which Paul disagreed, he deserved to serve time in prison. Ron Paul, the libertarian, who presumably values liberty above all, is willing to deprive someone else of his because of a policy disagreement?
2. Ron Paul is historically challenged. He argues that by embracing isolationism, he fits within a Republican tradition stretching back to Eisenhower “who stopped the Korean War” and including Nixon “who stopped the war in Vietnam.” Let’s recap. Eisenhower threatened to use nuclear weapons against China. It was the Eisenhower administration that had a hand in toppling Iran’s Mohammad Mossedegh (an intervention that Paul has elsewhere cited as causing the U.S. grief 25 years later when the Islamists took power). Eisenhower also intervened in Guatemala, Cuba (planning for the Bay of Pigs began during his tenure) and Lebanon.
Nixon, an isolationist? Most observers, whatever they may make of detente with the USSR and the opening to China, agree that Nixon was an emphatic internationalist. For the record, he intervened in many countries including Chili, Peru and Cambodia. And he saved Israel by resupplying her during the Yom Kippur war. Neither his successes nor failures grew out of a Paulesque policy of “minding our own business.”
3. Ron Paul is unserious. Suggesting that you will eliminate the IRS, the CIA, the FBI and other government agencies within weeks of taking office is ridiculous. These are bumper stickers, not serious reform proposals. Read More.
This time, the pretext for the "disarmament" of the Karamojong is United Nations gun control. The Ugandan military is trying to round up every last firearm in Karamoja, supposedly for the Karamojong's own good.
The procedure is euphemistically called “forcible disarmament.” It works something like this: The misnamed Uganda People’s Defence Force (UPDF) will torture and rape Karamajong, after which some Karamojong might then disclose the location of some hidden guns. Or the army will burn down a village, after which it might find some guns in the ash left behind.
If the pastoral tribespeople's bloody history with Amin weren't enough, they don't much have reason to trust the current government of Uganda, either. The current government has repeatedly broken its promises of goods, services, and personal protection for tribespeople who voluntarily disarmed. Read More.
Friday, November 16, 2007
When I was growing up, the most famous atheist in America was Madalyn Murray O'Hair. A test case regarding her son, William Murray, occasioned the 1963 Supreme Court ruling banning prayer in public schools. As an adult, William Murray became the president of the advocacy organization, American Atheists. I was therefore amazed when he converted to Christianity in 1980, going on to become a conservative, ordained Christian minister and evangelist.
Many Christians have been equally stunned by the recent announcement that the eminent British philosopher Antony Flew, sometimes billed as "the world's most famous atheist," has come to affirm the existence of God after a lifetime of publicly arguing against such a belief (although it should be noted that Flew has only converted to Theism, not Christianity).
But I wasn't. Between the conversion of Murray and the change of mind of Flew, I had done research on the history of religious skepticism in Victorian Britain, and this had taught me that intellectually rigorous, militant unbelievers convert to Christianity surprisingly often. Read More.
Mitt Romney has a well-earned reputation as a flip-flopper. But it's one thing to flip-flop on your politics, and quite another to flip-flop on your faith. So it came as something of a surprise when, during an interview earlier this year with George Stephanopoulos, the presidential candidate disputed the suggestion that Christ would someday return to the United States rather than the Middle East. Mormons, he said, believe "that the Messiah will come to Jerusalem. ... It's the same as the other Christian tradition."This was both technically correct and completely misleading: The church's position is that, while Christ will indeed appear at the Mount of Olives, he will also build a new Jerusalem in Jackson County, Missouri, which will serve as the seat of his 1,000-year reign on Earth. Romney had conveniently neglected to mention this part of his church's doctrine.
Needless to say, his fellow Mormons were none too pleased. Read More.
I firmly believe that he is speaking today and the Church needs to stop and listen.
“In the actual practices of the Evangelical community in North America, there is an over-commitment to Scripture in a way that is false, irrational, and harmful to the cause of Christ,” he said. “And it has produced a mean-spiritedness among the over-committed that is a grotesque and often ignorant distortion of discipleship unto the Lord Jesus.” Read the rest.
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
Santas across Sydney are rebelling against attempts to ban their traditional greeting of "ho, ho, ho" in favour of "ha, ha, ha".
Recruitment firm Westaff - which supplies hundreds of Santas across the country - has told its trainees that the "ho ho ho" phrase could frighten children and could even be derogatory to women. Read More.
Update: Some of the changes.
The Book of Mormon has undergone manifold changes since it’s first printing in 1830. Some of these changes have been minor, and some have carried doctrinal impact. When the 1981 edition of the Book of Mormon was published it reflected nearly 100 noteworthy changes from the 1920 edition. Apparently more changes are on the way; one future change to the LDS edition of the Book of Mormon has made its debut in a recent edition of the book published by Doubleday.
The Salt Lake Tribune reports:
“The LDS Church has changed a single word in its introduction to the Book of Mormon, a change observers say has serious implications for commonly held LDS beliefs about the ancestry of American Indians.”
The change to the book’s Introduction is this:
1981 LDS Edition: “After thousands of years, all were destroyed except the Lamanites, and they are the principal ancestors of the American Indians.”
2007 Doubleday Edition: “After thousands of years, all were destroyed except the Lamanites, and they are among the ancestors of the American Indians.” Read More.
Restoring the funds will reduce the squeeze on cash-strapped students, added Ambrosia Ortiz.
"So they don't have to make a choice between their birth control and their cell phone bill or their birth control and their gym membership and their birth control," Ortiz said. "These are choices women that women shouldn't have to make.
"Birth control should be very affordable." Link.
Sometimes you just can't make this stuff up.
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
More than 1 million cases of chlamydia were reported in the United States last year—the most ever reported for a sexually transmitted disease, federal health officials said Tuesday.
Officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said they think better and more intensive screening accounts for much of the increase, but added that chlamydia was not the only sexually transmitted disease on the rise. Read More.
Monday, November 12, 2007
BY any conceivable measure, Frank Buckles has led an extraordinary life. Born on a farm in Missouri in February 1901, he saw his first automobile in his hometown in 1905, and his first airplane at the Illinois State Fair in 1907. At 15 he moved on his own to Oklahoma and went to work in a bank; in the 1940s, he spent more than three years as a Japanese prisoner of war. When he returned to the United States, he married, had a daughter and bought a farm near Charles Town, W. Va., where he lives to this day. He drove a tractor until he was 104.
But even more significant than the remarkable details of Mr. Buckles’s life is what he represents: Of the two million soldiers the United States sent to France in World War I, he is the only one left. Read More.
Saturday, November 10, 2007
While President Hugo Chavez has been molding Venezuela into his personal socialist vision, other transformations -- less visible but equally profound -- have taken hold in the country.
Venezuela has become a major hub for international crime syndicates. What attracts them is not the local market; what they really love are the excellent conditions Venezuela offers to anyone in charge of managing a global criminal network. Read More.
Friday, November 09, 2007
The wave of recent films set against the backdrop of war in Iraq and post-9/11 security has failed to win over film-goers keen to escape grim news headlines when they go to the movies, analysts say.
In a break with past convention, when films based on real conflicts were made only years after the last shots were fired, several politically-charged films have gone on release while America remains embroiled in Iraq.
Almost without exception, however, the crop of movies have struggled to turn a profit at the box-office and in many cases have received a mauling from unimpressed critics as well.
"Rendition," a drama starring Reese Witherspoon and Jake Gyllenhaal about the CIA's policy of outsourcing interrogation of terror suspects, has taken just under 10 million dollars at the box office, a disastrous return. Read More.
Thursday, November 08, 2007
In the Church I pastor our youth group are all connected through MySpace, and stay in touch through the cyber realm. How will this impact the Church today? Good question. One of the ways that I see is the leveling of the leadership role. The traditional top down approach will and is changing. From leadership structures to discipleship, how things have been done in the past will not be how it is done tomorrow... This is a trend that needs watching.
The 417,000 students at California State University's 28 campuses are expected to be civil to one another, the university says in its policy manual.
It sounds innocuous - but a federal magistrate says it's an unconstitutional restriction on speech when the policy is used to investigate or discipline students, such as the College Republicans whose members stomped on two flags bearing the name of Allah during an anti-terrorism rally at San Francisco State last year.
"It might be fine for the university to say, 'Hey, we hope you folks are civil to one another,' " U.S. Magistrate Wayne Brazil said last week at a hearing in his Oakland courtroom. "But it's not fine for the university to say, 'If you're not civil, whatever that means, we're going to punish you.' " Read More.
“I probably would be most useful to her doing something to try and restore America’s standing in the world and build more allies and get us to work together again.” — Bill Clinton, June 10, 2007.
America’s relations with allies have seldom been better.
I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again: France just elected the most pro-American Frenchman since Lafayette.
You know why? The French are scared to death of the Islamic fanatics. They suffered l’Intafada in 2005. Sarkozy calmed the situation down. He succeeds the Weasel Chirac.
Sarkozy turns to America for leadership in this battle. Read More.
The smell is a mélange of midsummer corpse with fried-liver overtones and a distinct fecal note. It comes from the worst stuff in the world—turkey slaughterhouse waste. Rotting heads, gnarled feet, slimy intestines, and lungs swollen with putrid gases have been trucked here from a local Butterball packager and dumped into an 80-foot-long hopper with a sickening glorp. In about 20 minutes, the awful mess disappears into the workings of the thermal conversion process plant in Carthage, Missouri.
Two hours later a much cleaner truck—an oil carrier—pulls up to the other end of the plant, and the driver attaches a hose to the truck's intake valve. One hundred fifty barrels of fuel oil, worth $12,600 wholesale, gush into the truck, headed for an oil company that will blend it with heavier fossil-fuel oils to upgrade the stock. Three tanker trucks arrive here on peak production days, loading up with 500 barrels of oil made from 270 tons of turkey guts and 20 tons of pig fat. Most of what cannot be converted into fuel oil becomes high-grade fertilizer; the rest is water clean enough to discharge into a municipal wastewater system. Read More.
Monday, November 05, 2007
What is to become of Pakistan? In the wake of President Musharraf’s declaration of a state of emergency, any number of grim scenarios are imaginable. Before spinning some of them out, consider this true and timely confession from Stephen P. Cohen, one of America’s top Pakistan experts: “I don’t know what’s going to happen....I don’t think any Pakistan expert knows what will happen even tomorrow.” Read the rest.
One of the most famous faces of communism is getting a makeover this week, with a new poster designed to teach students the whole story about Cuban revolutionary icon Ernesto "Che" Guevara."The Victims of Che Guevera" poster, produced by the Young America's Foundation, centers on a collage that uses tiny photos of those killed by Cuba's communist regime to compose the face of the Marxist guerrilla, who has become a popular T-shirt icon. Read More.
An Oct. 26 letter writer suggested limiting the Second Amendment to 18th-century firearms. What an interesting idea.
I'm sure she would also be in favor of limiting free speech to 18th-century forms of communication, and she certainly must oppose the requirement for agents of the government to obtain warrants in order to listen in on telephone conversations or intercept other forms of electronic correspondence. Read More.
Sunday, November 04, 2007
No one can deny that in recent years the need to "save the planet" from global warming has become one of the most pervasive issues of our time. As Tony Blair's chief scientific adviser, Sir David King, claimed in 2004, it poses "a far greater threat to the world than international terrorism", warning that by the end of this century the only habitable continent left will be Antarctica.
Inevitably, many people have been bemused by this somewhat one-sided debate, imagining that if so many experts are agreed, then there must be something in it. But if we set the story of how this fear was promoted in the context of other scares before it, the parallels which emerge might leave any honest believer in global warming feeling uncomfortable. Read More.
Friday, November 02, 2007
Just like so many reports before it, a joint survey by the Project for Excellence in Journalism and Harvard's Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy — hardly a bastion of conservative orthodoxy — found that in covering the current presidential race, the media are sympathetic to Democrats and hostile to Republicans.
Democrats are not only favored in the tone of the coverage. They get more coverage period. This is particularly evident on morning news shows, which "produced almost twice as many stories (51% to 27%) focused on Democratic candidates than on Republicans." Read More.
THERE is a reason Iraq has almost disappeared as an election issue.
Here it is: The battle is actually over. Iraq has been won.
I know this will seem to many of you an insane claim. Ridiculous!
After all, haven't you read countless stories that Iraq is a "disaster", turned by a "civil war" into a "killing field"? Read more.
University of Delaware President Patrick Harker is to be commended for pulling the plug on a program that turned the quest for tolerance and understanding upside down. A report from the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education showed that the university's residential life program made a mockery of intellectual freedom in the way it treated students living in its dormitories. Read More.
The story isn't that the Democrats finally took on Hillary Clinton. Nor is it that they were gentlemanly to the point of gingerly and tentative. There was an air of "Please, somebody kill her for me so I can jump in and show high minded compassion at her plight!"
Barack Obama, with his elegance and verbal fluency really did seem like that great and famous political figure from his home state of Illinois--Adlai Sevenson, who was not at all hungry, not at all mean, and operated at a step removed from the grubby game. Mr. Obama is like someone who would write in his diaries, "I shall point out Estes Kefauver's manifold inconsistencies, then to luncheon with Arthur and Marietta."
The odd thing is it's easier to be a killer when you know exactly what you stand for, when you have a real philosophy. The philosophy becomes a platform from which you can strike without ambivalence. Mr. Obama seems born to be mild. But still, that's not the story. Read More.
Wednesday, October 31, 2007
October 30th is the special night devoted to films credited to members of the Hollywood Ten by the Turner Classic Movies cable channel–-by my count, the fourth such program in the past five years or so. This is the sixtieth anniversary of the hearings conducted by the House Un-American Activities Committee on Communist influence in the motion picture industry-–in those pre-television days 80 million Americans, more than one-half the population, attended a movie every week. The witnesses refused on First Amendment grounds to answer questions about their alleged Communist affiliations, and the hearings became something of a circus, thanks to partisan committee members and some of the witnesses (whose leftist arrogance alienated many of their anti-Communist liberal supporters in Hollywood). Eight screenwriters, one director and one producer were held in contempt of Congress and imprisoned. The hearings led to a blacklist enforced by the studios, which started with the Ten (one of whom later cooperated and went back to work) and widened during the 1950’s.
The story given over and over again on Turner, and which is beloved of left-wing Hollywood (which also is commemorating the anniversary), is that the Ten were innocent progressives deprived of their constitutional rights at the behest of right-wingers, their careers and lives destroyed. But this is only part of the truth. Read More.
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
I got annoyed by a off-handed remark somebody made on the radio today--something about the simple, uncorrupted lives of the members of some Indonesian tribe. A little of that goes a long way with me.
It led me to do some casual research on Tacitus--perhaps the first European to indulge in the "noble savage" myth. (To my delight, the first entry to pop up on Google was something written by my friend John Ellis, professor emeritus of German literature at UC Santa Cruz. One of the consolations of middle age is that one has had the time to collect a large number of interesting friends. John is one of those in my collection.) In 1997, he wrote: Read More.
If President Bush really wants to understand today’s Russia, maybe he should spend less time looking Putin in the eye and peer into the eyes of Mikhail Khodorkovsky, writes PJM’s Russia analyst Kim Zigfeld. The former tycoon sits in a Siberian prison convicted of committing corporate fraud. When his arrest and prosecution is scrutinized, Khodorkovsky looks more and more like an old-style Soviet dissident. Read More.
Monday, October 29, 2007
To regret religion is to regret Western civilization.
The British parliament’s first avowedly atheist member, Charles Bradlaugh, would stride into public meetings in the 1880s, take out his pocket watch, and challenge God to strike him dead in 60 seconds. God bided his time, but got Bradlaugh in the end. A slightly later atheist, Bertrand Russell, was once asked what he would do if it proved that he was mistaken and if he met his maker in the hereafter. He would demand to know, Russell replied with all the high-pitched fervor of his pedantry, why God had not made the evidence of his existence plainer and more irrefutable. And Jean-Paul Sartre came up with a memorable line: “God doesn’t exist—the bastard!”
Sartre’s wonderful outburst of disappointed rage suggests that it is not as easy as one might suppose to rid oneself of the notion of God. (Perhaps this is the time to declare that I am not myself a believer.) Read More.
Among pint-sized cheerleaders, itty-bitty beauty queens, and in the malls of America, the sassy-sexy look isn't just for teens anymore.
Some say younger girls are going shorter and barer -- taking their cues from characters like the Cheetah Girls, the Pussycat Dolls and the Bratz dolls -- and some observers are saying they've had enough.
Celia Rivenbark, a mom who hit her breaking point with the shrinking fashions, wrote a book called, "Stop Dressing Your Six Year Old Like a Skank."
"The moms are buying it, the dads are buying and maybe on some level the parents think, 'Oh that's cute, that's harmless, that's innocent' -- but I don't think it is," Rivenbank said. "The children are wearing them down."
And psychologist Dr. Jeff Gardere warns that how a child dresses as young as age three can have serious consequences.
"You can be doing real damage to your child," Gardere said. "They are forming their taste at a very young age. They can hurt their futures. They can hurt their reputations, their chances for success."
Hollywood now proposes that in a new live-action movie based on the G.I. Joe toy line, Joe's -- well, "G.I." -- identity needs to be replaced by membership in an "international force based in Brussels." The IGN Entertainment news site reports Paramount is considering replacing our "real American hero" with "Action Man," member of an "international operations team."
Paramount will simply turn Joe's name into an acronym.
The show biz newspaper Variety reports: "G.I. Joe is now a Brussels-based outfit that stands for Global Integrated Joint Operating Entity, an international co-ed force of operatives who use hi-tech equipment to battle Cobra, an evil organization headed by a double-crossing Scottish arms dealer."
Well, thank goodness the villain -- no need to offend anyone by making our villains Arabs, Muslims, or foreign dictators of any stripe these days, though apparently Presbyterians who talk like Scottie on "Star Trek" are still OK -- is a double-crossing arms dealer. Otherwise one might be tempted to conclude the geniuses at Paramount believe arms dealing itself is evil. Read More.
They call it a documentary. Fred Wiseman it isn’t. Ken Burns it isn’t.
There, on HBO, between the animated "Happy Feet" (PG rated) about the penguin who can’t sing, and Inside the NFL, which I assume is about sports, is an advertisement for prostitution. Work for two years on your back, see a doctor once a week, retire forever.
Right. And I can sell you a bridge in Brooklyn.
I am in St. Louis with my friend Elizabeth, helping her strategize with her brilliant physician client, Dr. Padda, about his new process to help women and men look their best, using minimally invasive procedures. Which is a long way of saying that we’re no prudes, we’re all for sex appeal, but we also have five kids ages 12-17 between us (not to mention six dogs and three cats), and we’re doing something neither of us ever has time to do at home.
We’re watching television, just for fun, in our hotel suite. Maybe a trashy movie, she suggests. Our turkey club has just arrived.
We don’t have a clue. Read More.
Sunday, October 28, 2007
The Tax Policy Center has run the numbers to show how different income groups would be affected by the Rangel tax reform proposal compared to the tax law currently on the books. Here is roughly what the numbers (in Table T07-0300) show:
Thus, as a first approximation, the plan increases the progressivity of the tax code by redistributing income from the very rich (e.g., CEOs, hedge fund managers, superstar athletes and actors) to the upper middle class (e.g., doctors, lawyers, congressmen). Link.
- The bottom three-fourths of households, those making less than $75,000 a year, are not much affected. They each would receive a tax cut of about $100 per year.
- The next 24 percent, those making between $75,000 and $500,000, would receive much more substantial tax cuts. Those in the $200,000 to $500,000 range, who are in the 96 to 99 percentile of the income distribution, would get a tax cut of about $3,600 per year.
- The top 1 percent, those making over $500,000, would pay substantially more in taxes. Those making more than $1 million would see their tax bill rise by an average of more than $100,000.
Friday, October 26, 2007
Democrats are losing the battle for voters’ hearts because the party’s message lacks emotional appeal, according to a widely circulated critique of House Democratic communications strategy.
“Our message sounds like an audit report on defense logistics,” wrote Dave Helfert, a former Appropriations spokesman who now works for Rep. Neil Abercrombie (D-Hawaii). “Why are we defending [the State Children’s Health Insurance Program] instead of advocating a ‘Healthy Kids’ plan?” Read More.