Friday, September 30, 2005

Eric Swanson: Campus Church Network--MUST READ

Eric Swanson: Campus Church Network--MUST READ: "'THE 13/30 WINDOW'
Missiologoists have coined the term 'the 10/40 Window,' defining the geographical region 10 degrees to 40 degrees north of the Equator, an area of the globe considered by many to be the most unreached and unevangelized region of the world. But what is more crucial for us to consider is not 'the 10/40 Window' but 'the 13/30 Window.' This defines the age group of people between 13 to 30 years old, which is really the greatest harvest field in the world today. First of all, this age group is most open to the gospel. Secondly, it is the most important group because they are the future of the Church and the world. As such, when you reach the youth (who are located on campuses), you affect the future of Christianity and the whole world. Just look at the facts according to the UN Population Division and the Population Reference Bureau (2000):

--60 percent of the whole world are aged 24 and under.
--30 percent (or 1.7 billion) are aged between 10 to 24 years old. This age group is the greatest harvest field because they are the most likely to become followers of Christ.

Surveys say, 90% of all people become Christians before the age of 25. (Barna Research) But who is going to reach them? 'The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into His harvest field.' Matthew 9:37-38"

Hysteria Driven Media, Lies, and Videotape = More Lies and Hysteria

Online NewsHour: Looking at Media Coverage of Hurricane Katrina -- September 29, 2005: "JEFFREY BROWN: And, Mr. Hewitt, same question, what did you like and what did you dislike?

HUGH HEWITT: Well, Keith just said they did not report an ordinary story; in fact they were reporting lies. The central part of this story, what went on at the convention center and the Superdome was wrong. American media threw everything they had at this story, all the bureaus, all the networks, all the newspapers, everything went to New Orleans, and yet they could not get inside the convention center, they could not get inside the Superdome to dispel the lurid, the hysterical, the salaciousness of the reporting.

Hugh Hewitt: I have in mind especially the throat-slashed seven-year-old girl who had been gang-raped at the convention center -- didn't happen. In fact, there were no rapes at the convention center or the Superdome that have yet been corroborated in any way.

There weren't stacks of bodies in the freezer. But America was riveted by this reporting, wholesale collapse of the media's own levees they let in all the rumors, and all the innuendo, all the first-person story because they were caught up in this own emotionalism. Exactly what Keith was praising I think led to one of the worst weeks of reporting in the history of American media, and it raises this question: If all of that amount of resources was given over to this story and they got it wrong, how can we trust American media in a place far away like Iraq where they don't speak the language, where there is an insurgency, and I think the question comes back we really can't."

This is why I don't watch television news. It takes weeks to read and listen to diverse accounts and sort through the lies to figure out what really happened. Usually if it's reported in the LA Times or the NY Times you have to use the same caution.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Don't Say These Words at Bucknell "Two words. At Bucknell University, that's all it takes to get dragged into the President's Office for a half-hour discussion of word choice. And these aren't offensive words, at least not out here in the real world. But Bucknell apparently has a different definition of what is and is not acceptable.

On August 29th, the Bucknell University Conservatives Club sent out a campus-wide e-mail announcing an upcoming speaker: Major John Krenson, who had been in Afghanistan 'hunting terrorists.' Those two words--'hunting terrorists'--resulted in three students being called to Bucknell's Office of the President by Kathy Owens, the Executive Assistant to the President.

According to the students, when they arrived at the President's Office for the meeting, Ms. Owens held up a print-out of the offending e-mail and said 'we have a problem here,' telling the students that the words 'hunting terrorists' were offensive. For the next half-hour, the three students were given a lecture on inappropriate phrasing.

(When contacted, Ms. Owens did acknowledge that the meeting took place, but refused to answer any questions about what transpired. She did not deny the account of the students.)

Last year, while collecting footage for my upcoming film Indoctrinate U, I noticed that the campus was plastered with flyers that screamed 'vagina' in large block letters. Although some people might find these flyers offensive, it is protected speech at Bucknell--as it should be--but apparently the phrase 'hunting terrorists' is not.

(Perhaps someone should remind Bucknell's administrators that the American soldiers who are 'hunting terrorists' are fighting the very sort of misogynistic thugs who would gladly stone a woman to death for talking about her vagina in public.)"

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Gateway Pundit/Hurricane Katrina: Folklore vs. Fact

Gateway Pundit:

"Folklore: The federal government was slow to respond.

Fact: 'The federal government pretty much met its standard time lines, but the volume of support provided during the 72-96 hour was unprecedented. The federal response here was faster than Hugo, faster than Andrew, faster than Iniki, faster than Francine and Jeanne.'

For instance, it took five days for National Guard troops to arrive in strength on the scene in Homestead, Fla. after Hurricane Andrew hit in 2002. But after Katrina, there was a significant National Guard presence in the afflicted region in three."

Back when this all happened, my friend Andy asked if I thought the Bush Administration response was "just a little" slow.

My answer: "compared to what"

Now we know.

Click the link for much more that you can't learn from watching television news. - Sheehan calls McCain 'warmonger' after meeting - Sheehan calls McCain 'warmonger' after meeting: "Peace mom Cindy Sheehan didn't change her opposition to the war in Iraq after meeting Tuesday with one of its supporters, Sen. John McCain, a Vietnam veteran whom she called 'a warmonger.'"

Being tortured as a POW would make anyone a "warmonger", right Cindy?

Rich Bledsoe's Blog - A Visit To Orthodoxy

Entry for September 28, 2005 A Visit To Orthodoxy: "So oddly, Biblical miracles (as opposed to pagan magic) and science are twin brothers with the same patrimony, and they came from the same household. Originally they were not enemies or rivals of one another, but actually implied each other."

Imagine your pastor uttering such things during his Sunday morning sermon. Rich, chewy goodness. I'm going to miss your preaching Rich.

Peter Jackson: a fraction of his former self

If you haven't seen him lately, Peter Jackson has lost 70 pounds and his glasses. Click the link to see pictures of a man you won't recognize.
Wired 13.10: Return of the King: "Peter Jackson's remake of King Kong hits the big screen in December. But for the last year, he's been giving eager fans a behind-the-scenes look at the world he built for the big ape. Posted while the cameras were still rolling, these extraordinary online diaries break every closed-set taboo in Hollywood."

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Katrina Takes a Toll on Truth, News Accuracy - Los Angeles Times

Katrina Takes a Toll on Truth, News Accuracy - Los Angeles Times: "'It just morphed into this mythical place where the most unthinkable deeds were being done,' Bush said Monday of the Superdome.

His assessment is one of several in recent days to conclude that newspapers and television exaggerated criminal behavior in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, particularly at the overcrowded Superdome and Convention Center.

The New Orleans Times-Picayune on Monday described inflated body counts, unverified 'rapes,' and unconfirmed sniper attacks as among examples of 'scores of myths about the dome and Convention Center treated as fact by evacuees, the media and even some of New Orleans' top officials.'"

That's not GWBush. You know it's bad if LA Times can figure it out.

Democrats lied, almost nobody died T-P Orleans Parish Breaking News Weblog: "In many cases, authorities gave credibility to portraits of violence broadcast around the world.

Compass told Winfrey on Sept. 6 that "some of the little babies (are) getting raped" in the Dome. Nagin backed it with his own tale of horrors: ''They have people standing out there, have been in that frickin' Superdome for five days watching dead bodies, watching hooligans killing people, raping people.''

But both men have since pulled back to a degree.

"The information I had at the time, I thought it was credible," Compass said, conceding his earlier statements were false. Asked for the source of the information, Compass said he didn't remember.

Nagin frankly acknowledged that he doesn't know the extent of the mayhem that occurred inside the Dome and the Convention Center - and may never.

"I'm having a hard time getting a good body count," he said.

Compass said rumors had often crippled authorities' response to reported lawlessness, sending badly needed resources to respond to situations that turned out not to exist. He offered his own intensely personal example: The day after the storm, he heard "some civilians" talking about how a band of armed thugs had invaded the Ritz-Carlton hotel and started raping women - including his 24-year-old daughter, who stayed there through the storm. He rushed to the scene only to find that although a group of men had tried to enter the hotel, they weren't armed and were easily turned back by police.

Compass, however, promulgated some of the unfounded rumors himself, in interviews in which he characterized himself and his officers as outgunned warriors taking out armed bands of thugs at every turn.

"People would be shooting at us, and we couldn't shoot back because of the families," Compass told a reporter from the (Bridgeport) Connecticut Post who interviewed him at the Saints' Monday Night Football game in New York, where he was the guest of NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue. "All we could do is rush toward the flash."

Compass added that he and his officers succeeded in wrestling 30 weapons from criminals using the follow-the-muzzle-flash technique, the story said.

"We got 30 that way," Compass was quoted as saying.

Asked about the muzzle-flash story last week, Compass said, "That really happened" to Winn's SWAT team at the Convention Center.

But Winn, when asked about alleged shootouts in a separate interview, said his unit saw muzzle flashes and heard gunshots only one time. Despite aggressively frisking a number of suspects, the team recovered no weapons. His unit never found anyone who had been shot."

More Horrible Than Truth: News Reports "But the media's willingness to report thinly attributed rumors may also have contributed to a kind of cultural wreckage that will not clean up easily.

First, anyone with any knowledge of the events in New Orleans knows that terrible things with non-natural causes occurred: there were assaults, shots fired at a rescue helicopter and, given the state of the city's police department, many other crimes that probably went unreported.

But many instances in the lurid libretto of widespread murder, carjacking, rape, and assaults that filled the airwaves and newspapers have yet to be established or proved, as far as anyone can determine. And many of the urban legends that sprang up - the systematic rape of children, the slitting of a 7-year-old's throat - so far seem to be just that."

Read the whole thing. The Truth will set you free.

EU Rota: EU Environmentalism: A Reminder

EU Rota: EU Environmentalism: A Reminder: "Their mantra, of course, globalwarmingglobalwarming, theskyisfallingtheskyisfalling, thishasneverhappenedbeforethishasneverhappenedbefore. Rinse and repeat ad nauseam. Maybe they can work Halliburton in this time since Houston seems to be the destination.

Going back to 1851, what does the actual data from NOAA say:

Click here to see the data.

Centerfield Productions: Shame vs. Guilt

Centerfield Productions > Ideas: "In the West it seems we are in transition. We are moving away from being a guilt-based culture, towards a shame-based culture. Because of that transition, many of our students have grown up experiencing shame more than guilt, but they’ve done so in a country where the Christian community’s expertise lies in dealing with guilt more than shame. Which probably means that to many of them, and maybe to many of our staff as well, the offer of the gospel has not sounded as sweet as it actually is."

Sunday, September 25, 2005

The Opposite of Pornography

Telegraph | News | Women bypass sex in favour of 'instant pregnancies': "Women are increasingly seeking inappropriate IVF treatment because they do not have the time or inclination for a sex life and want to 'diarise' their busy lives.

Wealthy career women in their 30s and early 40s, some of whom have given up regular sex altogether, are turning to 'medicalised conception' - despite being fertile and long before they have exhausted the possibility of a natural conception."

All the responsibility, none of the gratification.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Looking the other way

John Leo: "Sheehan, before and after her arrival in Texas, said a great many colorful things that failed to interest mainstream reporters. Some of her acid comments registered with the public mostly because of George Will’s powerful column of August 25 and his similar comments on the Sunday ABC TV news show This Week. A few made it on to cable news. Others simply failed to make it into the mainstream media. It’s worth reviewing what she said: The neocons deliberately allowed the terrorist attacks of 9/11. American soldiers are “being sent to kill innocent people” in Iraq. Her son, Casey Sheehan, “died for oil” and was “murdered” by President Bush. The United States is “not worth dying for.” The president, who “stole the election,” is part of the “Bush crime family,” a “lying bastard,” a “führer,” a “filth spewer,” “the biggest terrorist in the world,” and an “evil maniac” who is guilty of “blatant genocide.” Sheehan also compared Lynne Stewart, the radical lawyer convicted of aiding terrorists, to Atticus Finch, the heroic lawyer who battled racism in the book and movie To Kill a Mockingbird. She has been accused of making vaguely anti-Semitic remarks, but she attributes those remarks to her political opponents. On Hardball, she said the American attack in Afghanistan was “almost the same thing” (i.e., just as evil) as the invasion of Iraq."
With the tragedy of hurricanes in the news, the media has forgotten about Cindy Sheehan. But even before the hurricanes, the media helped American forget who Cindy really is.

Why not just tell it like it is. Cindy Sheehan is not afraid to say it, don't be afraid to print it.

Video Game U

Wired News: A Generation of Game Boys, Girls: "More and more, video game-related courses are being offered in colleges around the country in response to the digital media industry's appetite for skilled workers and the tastes of a new generation of students raised on Game Boy and Xbox."

I have always told students that playing video games wouldn't get them anywhere. Well shut my mouth.

At least it's better than "gender studies".

Friday, September 23, 2005

Evangelicals and Mormon's Together? | Evangelical preaches at Salt Lake Tabernacle: "With Evangelicals and Latter-day Saints sitting together in the Salt Lake Tabernacle for an 'Evening of Friendship,' internationally renowned Christian philosopher Ravi Zacharias told them Sunday night that Jesus Christ's unique claim upon humanity is that he embodied truth and sacrificed himself for a world that often does not recognize him.
But what many Utahns may remember most distinctly is the sermon that came before it.
Taking the pulpit to speak of the event's historic nature, Fuller Theological Seminary President Richard Mouw addressed a capacity crowd of several thousand, offering a stunningly candid apology to members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and noting that 'friendship has not come easily between our communities.' He dubbed the evening 'historic' and apologized that Evangelicals 'have often misrepresented the faith and beliefs of the Latter-day Saints.'
'Let me state it clearly. We evangelicals have sinned against you,' he said, adding both camps have tended to marginalize and simplify the others' beliefs.
Historical animosity dating back to the founding of the LDS Church by Joseph Smith in 1830 has heightened in recent years between the two groups, particularly in the 1990s, when several high-profile evangelical leaders asserted that 'Mormons are not Christians.'
Mouw noted the 200th anniversary of Joseph Smith's birthday next December and several scholarly events planned to celebrate during the coming year. 'I hope many in the evangelical community will take part in those events,' he said."

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Rita, we hardly knew ya...

Any hurricane where the lights don't go out, isn't too bad.

We met all day today and didn't even notice a hurricane.

Thank the Lord.

Monday, September 19, 2005

We're outta here..

It looks like we're leaving the Florida Keys.

Run for high ground!

I think we're headed for Miami.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Run for your lives! - Duck Key, FL

Well, it's been a busy week and there's been no time for blogging.

Now for an exciting update:

I arrived at a conference today. I'm in Duck Key, FL which as you might guess if you click on the link, is in the path of


I'll let you know how it all turns out.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

The Source: Interviews

The Source: Interviews: "So let's talk briefly about your career in Hollywood. You're a Hollywood writer and director whose prior films that you worked on are NOT Chariots of Fire, or even Herbie or Winn Dixie ... they're Hellraiser: Inferno, one of the Urban Legends films, and now The Exorcism of Emily Rose. So ... are Christian's boycotting you yet? Are you from the spawn of 'Teletubbies' as far as Falwell is concerned? How are Christian's reacting to you?

SCOTT: Well, I think early on in my career I created quite a bit of head scratching amongst Christians because I think there was an assumption that if a Christian was going to work in this industry it would be to promote family friendly entertainment, that sort of thing.

JONATHAN: Sure, I could see that being an expectation.

SCOTT: But I think that it's not hard for a lot of young Christians to understand why a Christian should be making genre movies. And the horror genre not only being an acceptable genre but the best genre for a Christian to be involved in because it is such a great genre for dealing with spiritual ideas."

What would Pastor Inqvist say?

This is for my Dad. -: "A PRAIRIE HO' COMPANION: Garrison Keillor threatens to sue blogger for parody? I never thought Keillor had much of a sense of humor."

"Longtime Democrat" Congressman Used National Guard to Visit Home

Headlines we'd like to read. This sounds like something a rich, selfish Republican would do. Go figure.
ABC News: Amid Katrina Chaos, Congressman Used National Guard to Visit Home: "Sept. 13, 3005 — Amid the chaos and confusion that engulfed New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina struck, a congressman used National Guard troops to check on his property and rescue his personal belongings — even while New Orleans residents were trying to get rescued from rooftops, ABC News has learned.

On Sept. 2 — five days after Katrina hit the Gulf Coast — Rep. William Jefferson, D-La., who represents New Orleans and is a senior member of the powerful Ways and Means Committee, was allowed through the military blockades set up around the city"

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

In Search of the Spiritual - Newsweek Society -

In case you missed this, it's an interesting article.

In Search of the Spiritual - Newsweek Society -

Move over, politics. Americans are looking for personal, ecstatic experiences of God, and, according to our poll, they don't much care what the neighbors are doing.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Blacks fault lack of local leadership

Blacks fault lack of local leadership - Nation/Politics - The Washington Times, America's Newspaper: "Some in the black community are beginning to question what happened to the black leadership during the Hurricane Katrina disaster, especially in the city of New Orleans.
While a few black leaders, including the Rev. Jesse Jackson, the Rev. Al Sharpton and the Congressional Black Caucus, have singled out the president for blame, others say Mayor C. Ray Nagin, who is black, is responsible for the dismal response to the flooding that stranded thousands in the city's poorest sections.
'Mayor Nagin has blamed everyone else except himself,' said the Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson, founder and president of the Brotherhood Organization of a New Destiny.
'The mayor failed in his duty to evacuate and protect the people of New Orleans. ... The truth is, black people died not because of President Bush or racism, they died because of their unhealthy dependence on the government and the incompetence of Mayor Ray Nagin and Governor Kathleen Blanco,' he said. "

Doh! or should I say Dough!

Report rates Boston most expensive city - The Boston Globe: "Propelled largely by high housing costs, Boston is now the most expensive metropolitan area in the country, outpacing Washington, D.C., San Francisco, and even New York City, according to a report that will be released today."

Helping victims of Katrina

Regarding Hurricane Katrina there are a few outreaches in the works that you should know about and that you may want to respond to:

Campus Ministry

Five teams of students volunteered this weekend in Long Beach , Miss. , and Slidell , La. They cleaned food warehouses, sorting food and clothing, clearing mud out of flooded homes, cleaning debris from yards, distributing Bibles, and baby-sitting. The Campus Ministry will be coordinating more service projects like this beginning next weekend, Sept. 16-18. You don't need to be a student to participate. For more information, please visit .

Evacuee Relocation Church Partnership

Paul Eshleman is coordinating a partnership of several ministries seeking to relocate over 40,000 evacuees. This program is being coordinated with local churches across the country who will house people and help them get back on their feet. There's a huge need for churches of all sizes anywhere in the country, but especially from the Atlanta and Dallas areas as well as those from the state of Tennessee . Please consider asking your church to look into this opportunity. For more information call 877.964.4673 (HOPE) or visit and click the “sponsor now” tab at the top.

In addition to these, many other ministries including the Military Ministry, Priority Associates, Here's Life Inner City and GAiN are all onsite or headed there in the near future. Please continue to pray for those coordinating and participating in these service projects. You can visit for all of these updates and more.

Disk bogged Blog

I haven't blogged much in days. I've been swamped with stuff and it took me several days to replace the internal hard drive on my laptop.

But, at long last, I did it.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Katrina Reveals Gas Price Folly

Reason Foundation Commentary: "A new oil refinery has not been built in the United States since 1976. During that time, our gasoline use has increased over 25 percent. The nation's 149 existing refineries have been running at maximum capacity trying to meet record demand and, as a result, not only do we import oil, we actually have to import 10 percent of our daily gasoline from refineries overseas.

So when Hurricane Katrina or a refinery fire or anything else causes even just a few refineries to shut down for awhile, there is absolutely no excess capacity nationwide to make up the difference, and prices at the pump skyrocket.

For the wealthiest, most powerful nation in the world this is a ridiculous situation that will only get worse as our insatiable demand for gasoline keeps growing and refinery capacity falls further behind in the coming years.

Just a few new refineries would alleviate the problem and help keep our gas prices lower and steadier.

But getting an oil refinery built is next to impossible, hence the 30-year construction drought. There will always be environmental activists who fight any new proposed refinery, regardless of where it might be located and how environmentally safe it is. And our environmental rules give them the upper hand.

The environmental impact-report process mobilizes the "not in my back yard" elements to oppose any proposed refinery, but it does not mobilize people or groups who are looking at national energy needs. You wind up with a very lopsided discussion where potential problems are thoroughly and perhaps overly represented, but the only group pointing out the benefits of the refinery is the "evil" oil company asking to build it - even though every automobile driver would benefit.

Consider the example of Arizona Clean Fuels, which has been trying to build a small refinery outside Yuma for almost 10 years. It took five years just to get air-quality permits. Now they hope to be operational in 2010, 15 years after they started the project. "

Monday, September 05, 2005

Hope in the midst of despair...

My Way News: "In the last week, Joseph Brant lost his apartment, walked by scores of dead in the streets, traversed pools of toxic water and endured an arduous journey to escape the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in his hometown New Orleans.

On Sunday, he was praising the Lord, saying the ordeal was a test that ended up dispelling his lifelong distrust of white people and setting his life on a new course. He said he hitched a ride on Friday in a van driven by a group of white folks.

'Before this whole thing I had a complex about white people; this thing changed me forever,' said Brant, 36, a truck driver who, like many of the refugees receiving public assistance in Houston, Texas, is black."

Friday, September 02, 2005

CCC mobilizes to help victims of Katrina

Campus Crusade for Christ, one of the world’s largest interdenominational Christian organizations, mobilizes to help Gulf Coast victims of Hurricane Katrina.

ORLANDO, FL, September 2, 2005 – Campus Crusade for Christ International is mobilizing for the largest and longest relief and recovery effort in its history in response to the devastation and human suffering left in Hurricane Katrina’s wake.

“Our hearts go out to those who have lost family and friends, and whose lives have been devastated by this event,” says Mark Gauthier, National Director of the U.S. Campus Ministry of Campus Crusade. “This is a time to be in prayer for those families, that God would comfort them and meet them in their hour of need. And, this is also a time that we as a ministry can demonstrate the compassion of Christ toward those who are hurting.”

Several ministry divisions of Campus Crusade are working to coordinate immediate relief efforts while planning long-term recovery projects. Global Aid Network (GAiN) usually organizes international relief efforts. Now they are working on their home turf. GAiN is already shipping 10,000 personal care kits to the disaster zone. Similar to kits used in military deployments, each kit contains 3 bottles or water, 3 high-energy food bars, and special waterless wipes or so called bath-in-a-bag for 2 days of bathing.

The U.S. Campus Ministry of Campus Crusade is preparing to send hundreds and even thousands of college students to the disaster zones and evacuation centers to help provide the manpower for both immediate relief and longer recovery efforts.

One evacuation center already houses more than 900 refugees. Campus Crusade will provide mature students who can listen to refugees who have lost everything. “They just need someone to put their arms around them and love them,” said one evacuation center worker. In a few days, more than 200 children housed in the camp will need people to play with them, teach them and give them hope.

“In the face of so much suffering, I’m thrilled by the generous, co-operative spirit of so many who want to help,” says Jim Topmiller, National Director of Development for the U.S. Campus Ministry. “Students are getting ready to go. We’re partnering with churches, denominations and Christian relief agencies. Corporate partners and thousands of individual donors are all asking, ‘How can we help?’” Campus Crusade has set up a website where people can give at

Founded in 1951, Campus Crusade for Christ International has 60 ministry divisions or projects working with all levels of society. As one of the largest interdenominational organizations in the world, Campus Crusade has 27,000 full-time staff serving in 190 countries. Campus Crusade for Christ is a charter member of the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability.

See for more information.
Contributions may be given on line through

And the winner is... the crowd

This is interesting. It's why millions of blogs are smarter than the relatively few mainstream media outlets:

And the actual number of M&M's in the jar is: 2,166. We had them actually counted by two people two times each!
David Robbins of Campus Ministry guessed 2,168. So did Doug Kennedy of NAMESTAN AOA Office. This left us with an unexpected need for two iPods.
Because David was the first with the closest guess, we have sent him the iPod. But we couldnÂ’t ignore Doug who also guessed the same number, 2 days later. So we have sent Doug an iPod Mini.
Some other interesting information

Total number of guesses: 1,166
Low guess: 132
High guess: 135,000
Correct answer: 2,166 M&Ms (counted twice by two people)
Average of all guesses: 2,328

Average was within 7% of correct amount, even with huge variations in the guess
The average was more accurate than 93% of all the people who guessed.
The wisdom of the crowd
There is an important principle at work here. All of us together are smarter than most of us individually. This is the body concept at work.
Do you remember the Who Wants to be a Millionaire? television show. Remember there were some ways to get help when a contestant was really stumped. One way was to call one of five people they had designated as experts in particular fields and ask them for the right answer.

Another way was to poll the studio audience who voted for what each member thought was the right answer.
Over the course of the years, the "experts" offered the right answer 65 percent of the time. That's pretty good, especially under pressure.
However, the "experts" wisdom could not compare with the wisdom of the studio crowd. These audience members picked the right answer 91% of the time.
In his book The Wisdom of Crowds: Why the Many Are Smarter than the Few, author James Surowiecki documents examples. He says, "On problems ranging from the simple to the very complex, groups are able to offer collectively smart answers even when most of the people within them are not exceptionally well-informed."
Our M&M's-in-a-jar was a repeat of a familiar beans-in-a-jar contest. Our contest had very similar results, with the average being better than 93% of all the other guesses.

Eric's thoughts on the Katrina Disaster

Speaking of Eric Swanson, read his thoughts how how Christians can and should respond to disasters like Katrina.

Truth and the Internet

I wrote this in an email today and we all might benefit:

Well I hate to be the party pooper but, this is a hoax.

The article about decoy worshippers is from a parody newspaper. See the article here:

Lark News is laugh out loud funny. It does for Christianity what the does for the rest of the news.

Both Lark News and The Onion (and for that matter which is probably better than both) present parody news articles.

They are not true.

Sadly, most people don’t check out what they read in emails and therefore often believe things that are false.

The first rule of email and the internet, is never believe anything?

Why should you believe me? You shouldn’t. You should check it out for yourself and until you can verify personally if something is true, it probably isn’t.

I put the words, “Jim”, “Kendall”, “decoy” and “worshippers” into Google and discovered in .47 seconds that this decoy worshipper story is not a real news story.

If it’s that easy then we all must be responsible to check out the truth before we send it off to friends and family as if it were.

I first learned this when a ministry partner of mine (a very sincere friend) sent me an email about how the woman who wrote the Harry Potter books had planned all along for her books to lead children into worshipping Satan.

It sounded incredible and I discovered it was when at the bottom of the article I saw the by line as

There are many such parody sights and many more sights that are not a parody but could be (

Even the New York Times struggles with the truth:

Maybe that’s not as surprising at it once was.

Don’t believe it until you verify it. And definitely don’t send it, until you’d be willing to bet at least $100 on it.

The Bishop of Boulder

My pastor is now blogging here.

Good and plenty.

Hugh Hewitt: A Swarm of Relief

Hugh Hewitt: "One example. The Presbyterian Church, USA has a long and pretty good record of responding to disasters. At the website for Presbyterian Disaster Assistance there is a letter to interested volunteers which is straight out of the old top-down model. It boils down to "tell us if you have a team of volunteers, and we'll match you to a need in the next few months."

In the days of restricted information flows, this approach made sense. It doesn't anymore.

Assume there are 10,000 Presbyterian Church, USA congregations around the country, and 100 in the devastated regions. Rather than a group of people in Louisville collecting --and controlling-- info flow, the PCUSA headquarters team ought to post a list of the churches in the area on the web, and ask the PCUSA's 9,900 other congregations
to select one of the 100 and establish contact. Sure, some of the affected churches would get more responses than they need, but very, very quickly, each of the distressed church's staff would have between ten and 100 PCUSA partner congregations around the country upon which they could call for needs and prayer. Right now. Not three months from now. By weekend's end.

Right now people urgently want to help --want to establish contact with victims and volunteers in the area. If facilitated right away, those connections will mature and deepen into hugely effective networks. Only headquarters will have to give up control to make it happen, though as MarkDRoberts' congregation's quick embrace of Canal Street Presbyterian Church in the heart of New Orleans demonstrates, motivated churches and innovative pastors and lay leaders are unlikely to wait for direction from HQ on how to proceed.

Though this will be very threatening to heirarchies, I hope that they will quickly see the extraordinary value to be gained by stepping out of the way and encouraging such self-organizing partnerships as a means of really getting the work begun now, and crucially, getting hope kindled quickly in these devastated communities.

It is fine and a little reassuring to know that Louisville is committed to working on the project.

It would be so much more encouraging to have the names of the churches, the e-mails from the pastors and staff, the concrete promise of financial and other forms of assistance flowing in, and the names of prayer partners. That's concrete. That is so much more real than knowledge that a committee is collecting names of volunteers.

Time is of the essence. In fact, if congregations matched with congregations right now, some families without a place to stay might find themselves a home for the next few months. All sorts of needs could be met once the connections get established.

The same dynamic will apply in a thousand different settings. Now if only the old heirarchies who enjoy their status and their control realize there is a much better way of doing things."

Chrenkoff: Hurricane Quotes

Oh, what the heck.

Here's something that gave me some perspective, especially the bottom.

Read the whole thing. I put the whole thing here.

Chrenkoff: "Arguably not as stupid and inane as some of the quotes following the Asian tsunami (see here and here), one of the biggest natural disasters in American history has nevertheless provided many with a delicious opportunity to bash President Bush and the right side of the politics and the country generally. Here's the selection of some of the choiciest commentary.

1. Robert F Kennedy Jr suggests God is punishing those who scuttled the Kyoto Agreement:

As Hurricane Katrina dismantles Mississippi’s Gulf Coast, it’s worth recalling the central role that Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour played in derailing the Kyoto Protocol and kiboshing President Bush’s iron-clad campaign promise to regulate CO2…

Now we are all learning what it’s like to reap the whirlwind of fossil fuel dependence which Barbour and his cronies have encouraged. Our destructive addiction has given us a catastrophic war in the Middle East and--now--Katrina is giving our nation a glimpse of the climate chaos we are bequeathing our children.

In 1998, Republican icon Pat Robertson warned that hurricanes were likely to hit communities that offended God. Perhaps it was Barbour’s memo that caused Katrina, at the last moment, to spare New Orleans and save its worst flailings for the Mississippi coast.

When in the aftermath of the 2004 presidential election some observers suggested that the Democrats should "get some religion", I don't think that's quite what they meant.

2. Kennedy Jr. finds himself on the same wavelength as Muhammad Yousef Al-Mlaifi, director of the Kuwaiti Ministry of Endowment's research center, who penned an article titled "The Terrorist Katrina is One of the Soldiers of Allah, But Not an Adherent of Al-Qaeda":

When the satellite channels reported on the scope of the terrifying destruction in America [caused by] this wind, I was reminded of the words of [Prophet Muhammad]: 'The wind sends torment to one group of people, and sends mercy to others.' I do not think – and only Allah [really] knows – that this wind, which completely wiped out American cities in these days, is a wind of mercy and blessing. It is almost certain that this is a wind of torment and evil that Allah has sent to this American empire. Out of my absolute belief in the truth of the words of the Prophet Muhammad, this wind is the fruit of the planning [of Allah], as is stated in the text of the Hadith of the Prophet.

But before I went to sleep, I opened the Koran and began to read in Surat Al-R'ad ['The Thunder' chapter], and stopped at these words [of Allah]: 'The disaster will keep striking the unbelievers for what they have done, or it will strike areas close to their territory, until the promise of Allah comes to pass, for, verily, Allah will not fail in His promise. ' [Koran 13:31].

As a citizen of one of the major oil producing nations in the world, I have a feeling that Al-Mlaifi probably doesn't share Kennedy Jr.'s attitude towards the Kyoto Protocol.

3. Assorted Jihadis, however, are on a similar wavelength:

Islamic extremists rejoiced in America's misfortune, giving the storm a military rank and declaring in Internet chatter that "Private" Katrina had joined the global jihad, or holy war. With "God's help," they declared, oil prices would hit $100 a barrel this year.

4. Robert Kennedy Jr. was just one of a long list of those blaming the hurricane on global warming and therefore on that environmental vandal Bush. Ross Gelbspan in “The Boston Globe” was another one, but with far greater sweep:

The hurricane that struck Louisiana and Mississippi on Monday was nicknamed Katrina by the National Weather Service. Its real name is global warming.

When the year began with a 2-foot snowfall in Los Angeles, the cause was global warming.

When winds of 124 miles an hour shut down nuclear plants in Scandinavia and cut power to hundreds of thousands of people in Ireland and Britain, the driver was global warming.

When a severe drought in the Midwest dropped water levels in the Missouri River to their lowest on record earlier this summer, the reason was global warming.

In July, when the worst drought on record triggered wildfires in Spain and Portugal and left water levels in France at their lowest in 30 years, the explanation was global warming.

When a lethal heat wave in Arizona killed more than 20 people in one week, the culprit was global warming.

And when the Indian city of Mumbai received 37 inches of rain in one day - killing 1,000 people and disrupting the lives of 20 million others - the villain was global warming.

Global warming, currently curdling milk in Bulgaria and stealing pennies from orphans in central Africa, was unavailbale for comment.

5. Germany's environmental minister Jürgen Trittin couldn't agree more, although he didn't have much to say about the recent spate of tornados, earthquakes, freak meteorite strikes and locust that devastated parts of Bavaria:

By neglecting environmental protection, America’s president shuts his eyes to the economic and human damage that natural catastrophes like Katrina inflict on his country and the world’s economy... Many Americans have long been unwilling to follow the president’s errant environmental policy. Indications are multiplying that Bush has more than Katrina’s headwind blowing in his face... When reason finally pays a visit to climate-polluter headquarters, the international community has to be prepared to hand America a worked out proposal for the future of international climate protection. The German Government stands ready.

The citizens of southern states are very much appreciative of Germany's offer to provide them with an emergency new climate change framework, which I'm sure can be used for kindling fires and as a toilet paper substitute (seriously though, as James Taranto points out, the German government has actually offered some real help, which is always appreciated).

6. But Germany's environment minister was not the only one laying into the United States - Germany's economy minister Wolfgang Clement was also on hand to give a free kick:

Germany said on Wednesday the United States was partly to blame for record oil prices and should look to extend its refining capacity after Hurricane Katrina wreaked havoc at U.S. refineries, hitting output.

Economy Minister Wolfgang Clement told German radio that the damage to U.S. refining capacity caused by the storm would likely prompt American industry to buy more oil in Europe, which could further inflate prices.

"On this I must say the United States has had insufficient refining capacity for a long time, and this is presumably now impaired, so the situation is coming to a head," he said.

"It's a U.S. problem, a problem with American policy. It's to do with American planning rights which lead to yield expectations in investments in the sector not being high enough. I hope the American government reacts differently to this."

If I were cynical, I would think that there is an election coming up in Germany and the current Social Democrat government is way behind in the opinion polls. But I'm not a cynic.

7. Foreigners, however, were positively civil and constructive in their criticism of the Bush Administration. The real venom came from one's own, like Bob Brigham at Swing State Project

Remember, this was a top-three "likeliest catastrophic disasters" and Bush shelved the study of how to protect against Category 5 hurricanes like Katrina? For most of Bush's time as President, FEMA has been saying this could be the deadliest scenario facing America. And Bush cut the preparedness funding, sent our strategic reserve National Guard troops to fight an unnecessary war and then went on vacation. Not only is Bush the worst President ever, but he is also a total a**hole for f***ing over New Orleans.

In the same vein, Patricia Taylor at the Daily Kos:

Historically, it is the National Guard, along with other emergency personnel, who attempt to provide emergency services to the community in disaster relief situations like Katrina.

And where are these National Guard right now?


If they are alive.

And Democrank at Democratic Underground:

EMERGENCY! EMERGENCY! I'm taking over for the Commander in Chief since he's busy lounging in California, all tanned and buff. Got to hand it to him.... he's got this wake-me-when-it's-over thing down pat. Just like during the Vietnam War. What a guy.

I want to reach the Louisiana and Mississippi National Guard units stranded in Iraq. Thought I could test this new Iraq "democracy" by asking each of them to vote either "yes" or "no" on coming home to help their family and friends. Katrina wrecked their states.

Or Mary MacElveen at Radio Left:

As we pray for those who are suffering in the aftermath of this horrific hurricane, in their memory let us fight back. Let us expose the duplicity and dishonesty of the Bush administration to all. He spent billions ending lives instead of using those billions to help a suffering people.

The angry left wasn't quite sure whether the Louisiana National Guard was unnecessarily getting killed or unnecessarily killing in Iraq, but all agreed that they should be brought home. A fuller list of natural disasters to pray for is being currently worked out to enable the left to call for the withdrawal from Iraq of the National Guard units from all other states. As an aside, it will be interesting to see whether the left, which criticised the Bush team for not getting the US military to stop the looting in the post-liberation Iraq, will now call for the troops to be brought back to shoot the looters in New Orleans.

8. The prize for originality in "blame the Republicans" stakes, however, goes to Russell Shaw at the Huffington Post, for whom basing the current Republican president is not enough:

Would New Orleans and the nearby Gulf Coast be suffering so terribly today if President Carter beat back Reagan in 1980?...

I am wondering if those voters in Louisiana and Mississippi who helped polluter-allied Reagan win in 1980 would have found themselves fated differently under a second Carter term. If Carter came in, we could have had an alternative fuels program and tighter auto emission standards in effect by now.

Ronald Reagan who, as we all know, served as President from 1980 to 2000, should indeed be condemned. Would I be suffering so terribly today if President Carter beat back Reagan in 1980 is indeed a question that I ask myself every day of my life.

9. Aside from bashing Bush, the Katrina disaster has also enabled the left to show their compassionate side, like Blunderford at Blogcritics:

I just stopped at the grocery store to pick up a candy bar... An employee approached me and said, "Would you like to give a dollar for Hurricane Katrina?"

I said, "No."

First off, I'm offended that the store employees are wandering around fundraising instead of helping customers, especially when it's so obvious that the store conglomerate uses these do-it-yourself machines to cut down on the number of employees necessary to help customers so that the store conglomerate can turn a larger profit while having fewer of those pesky union workers to deal with.

But beyond that, I'm sick of footing the bill for George W. Bush and the rest of his so-called compassionate conservatives.

Let Bush open his wallet. I'm sure he's still got a few nickels rolling around his pockets from flipping the Texas Rangers like a Miami condo.

You 60 million losers who voted for this loser open YOUR wallets. This president declared war on the poor long ago, and while some of us cared enough to vote for someone who gave a damn, you buried your heads in the sand, babbled about abortion and family values, and voted for the doofus.

And now you want to act all high and mighty and come asking me for a buck or two to help these poor people? Sorry, Charlie. Take an extra buck or two out of the fund you set aside to buy seventeen Support Our Troops magnets to stick all over your car to show how patriotic you are.

You want disaster relief? Impeach George W. Bush.

Oh well, but they care. Of course, when disaster strikes New York or Los Angeles, we can expect the same reaction from the right. Surely? Guys?

10. Joseph Cannon at BradBlog was initially feeling just as compassionate, but then he changed his mind - somewhat:

So why was I thinking of starting a movement against giving aid to the stricken areas?

Because these are red states. They voted for Bush. These ninnies obviously wanted these policies, and they deserve to live with the consequences of their votes.

A large part of me still believes that many of these W-worshipping numbskulls deserve to suffer and to die. They brought it on themselves. Let them look to Jayzuss for aid: It's time they stopped leeching off the more productive blue staters...

But then (to paraphrase the old song) I thought I'd better think it out again.

Many of the victims, the ones who have suffered the most, are poor. The hardest hit were the blue state folk living among the red state maniacs. New Orleans, we should note, went heavily for Kerry.

And that's why we must help. Although it was very tempting to say otherwise.

But let us make one thing clear: We WILL politicize this issue.

The Republicans did not shirk from making political use of 9/11, and we should not shirk from reminding the country that Bush turned what should have been a mere problem into Ragnarok.

Conservatives may accuse us of lacking taste if we use this sad occasion to point out sadder facts of political life. Cable news pundits will try to pretend that now is not the time for partisan politics.

If they say that, screw 'em.

If the Bush-voters want Californians and New Yorkers and other blue staters to fork over dough, then they damn well had better take our words as well. Republican policies caused this catastrophe. Force them to hear that message -- again and again. That message is the price of the charity they now demand.

Helping people based on the way they voted? Nah, who would ever accuse you of lacking taste?

11. But why not - after all, it has all been a conspiracy to drown the lower class - at least according to Flip Floss at the Daily Kos:

They will be scandal and rioting and rightly so in my opinion as the "Negroes" of New Orleans and tourists were left to drown.

More reading:

Global warming and hurricanes - The hurricanes aren’t historically on the increase, and the number of the most serious – category 4 and 5 – is down compared to previous decades (EU Rota has some nice tables). Hurricanes are also a part of a natural decades-long cycle of changing temperature of the Atlantic Ocean.

Bush diverted the money away from flood-proofing New Orleans - Two problems with that – New Orleans has been on notice since the previous devastating hurricane Betsy in 1965. Bush has been in the White House for only the last five of these past 40 years, so one might as well blame every other President since LBJ for not doing enough – and then ask, why should all the blame be laid at the feet of the feds, instead of sharing it with state and local authorities?

Experts in the Netherlands expressed surprise that New Orleans' flood systems failed to restrain the raging waters.

With half of the country's population of 16 million living below sea level, the Netherlands prepared for a "perfect storm" soon after floods in 1953 killed 2,000 people. The nation installed massive hydraulic sea walls.

"I don't want to sound overly critical, but it's hard to imagine that (the damage caused by Katrina) could happen in a Western country," said Ted Sluijter, spokesman for the park where the sea walls are exhibited. "It seemed like plans for protection and evacuation weren't really in place, and once it happened, the coordination was on loose hinges."

There's plenty of blame to go around for the past four decades."


I haven't had much time the past few days and I haven't felt much like blogging. I've been watching all the devastation from Katrina and struggling with how to put it all in perspective.

I'll have some thoughts soon.

For now pray for God's mercy for those who have felt Katrina's wrath. And help if you can.

In case you're wondering how to help:

Interesting Stuff