Thursday, September 27, 2007


James Fallows (September 25, 2007) - For once, I'm with Bush on a language issue: it's Burma, not Myanmar
I'm watching CNN in Beijing, which keeps tut-tutting President Bush for saying "Burma," rather than "Myanmar," in his just-completed UN speech, as if this were merely another of his gaffes.

I'm with Bush. For nearly twenty years, since first visiting the country during the violent protests in 1988, I've followed arguments about the twists and turns of what to call the country in Burmese. The complications mainly involve what the various names say about the relations between the Burmese people proper and other ethnic groups within the nation.

But when it comes to referring to the nation in English, there's little debate. Myanmar is the name invented 18 years ago by the benighted junta, known as SLORC* back then and the State Peace and Development Council now, when it seized power through force. When Westerners say "Myanmar," they're not being culturally respectful to the people of a beautiful but oppressed nation. (We don't call China Zhongguo or Germany Deutschland just because the locals do.) They're bowing to the whims of the generals who still imprison Aung San Suu Kyi.

There is no reason to humor them. Say Burma, as George Bush did. And CNN, grow some backbone when it comes to terminology!

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Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Web Gem 2.0

The Official Site of Major League Baseball: News: Major League Baseball News
"The fans have spoken and the asterisk will forever be part of the history of this ball. It is a reflection of fans' sentiments and will be preserved by the Hall of Fame in this manner. This was never about the record. I saw the purchase of the ball as an opportunity to open a national conversation using new media -- the Internet, blogs, videos -- to allow America's oldest sport to have America's most modern conversation. The people should be the arbiters of what is historically significant about this artifact. The opportunities for expression, and our participation in the public square, are endless.

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Monday, September 24, 2007

Rendering unto Caesar

The Volokh Conspiracy - -
More generally, it seems to me that many religious leaders who pronounce on public policy tend to reflexively favor increasing the role of government with little consideration of ways in which the interventions they favor might have perverse results, or ways in which social problems can be alleviated by reducing the role of the state instead of increasing it. Left-wing clergy seek to increase the role of government in fighting poverty, discrimination, and the like, while right-wing ones tend to focus their political energies on promoting "morals" regulation. This may well be painting with too broad a brush, and I'm sure there are religious leaders who are exceptions to this generalization. Nonetheless, it seems to me true as a general pattern (though I welcome correction by anyone who has compiled systematic data).

Learning basic law and economics won't necessarily turn religious leaders into libertarians. But it might give them a greater appreciation for markets, and engender at least a modest skepticism towards government. There are, to be sure, many clergy who don't make a practice of preaching on public policy issues. Danny's argument (or at least mine) doesn't apply to them. But it surely does apply to the many who do.

By the way, I have no doubt that the public policy pronouncements of leaders of atheist organizations often display just as little knowledge of economics as those of clergy. However, few people (even among atheists) give credence to the public policy views of atheist spokesmen merely because of their status as leaders of atheist organizations. By contrast, many religious people do take seriously the public policy pronouncements of their clergy, especially when those pronouncements are linked to religious duties such as Tikkun Olam.

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Saturday, September 22, 2007

Obit for the Overculture

Atlas Mugged: How a Gang of Scrappy, Individual Bloggers Broke the Stranglehold of the Mainstream Media
The twentieth century was the high point of mass culture—or “the overculture” as some call it. Any culture that could produce Citizen Kane, Casablanca, and The Honeymooners can’t be all bad. But eventually, the connection between media elites and their audiences began to fracture. Though apocryphal, the line frequently attributed to Pauline Kael of the New Yorker in 1972 sums up the growing chasm between the overculture—particularly the media—and its audience: “I don’t know how Nixon won. No one I know voted for him.” Just as the Big Three car manufacturers, with a once-monolithic hold on American consumers, seemed unaware that the public wanted a wider choice of cars (until Japan listened and responded), Pauline Kael’s in-crowd of coastal elites has, if anything, become even more clueless and resistant to emerging changes in the culture and dissemination of information. How clueless? In 2004, Jonathan Klein, the former executive vice president of CBS News, described blogging as “a guy sitting in his living room in his pajamas writing.” Last May, Time-Warner CEO Richard Parsons was quoted as saying, “The Googles of the world, they are the Custer of the modern world. We are the Sioux nation. They will lose this war if they go to war. The notion that the new kids on the block have taken over is a false notion.” Just how did the mainstream media (“MSM”) become so monolithic and unresponsive in the first place? And how is the rise of “Weblogs” helping to establish a new, more “fair and balanced” form of journalism?

Read the whole thing.

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Free Exchange of Ideas at Columbia -
HOW TO SABOTAGE AHMADINEJAD: Have some scantily-clad coed run up and give him a kiss. Make sure photos are distributed in Iran.

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A new favorite movie comes Once

Friday, September 21, 2007

Morally Bankrupt

OpinionJournal - Best of the Web Today
Next week Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Iran's Holocaust-denying president, who has said that "Israel must be wiped off the map," will be in New York for the U.N. General Assembly session. As the titular leader of a U.N. member state, Ahmadinejad is entitled to visit the city for this reason. But he is not entitled to something else he received, namely an appearance to speak at Columbia University, where he will be introduced by none other than Lee Bollinger, Columbia's president.

Yesterday Bollinger put out a statement defending his decision to authorize the event, and it was filled with high-minded rhetoric:

Columbia, as a community dedicated to learning and scholarship, is committed to confronting ideas--to understand the world as it is and as it might be. To fulfill this mission we must respect and defend the rights of our schools, our deans and our faculty to create programming for academic purposes. Necessarily, on occasion this will bring us into contact with beliefs many, most or even all of us will find offensive and even odious. We trust our community, including our students, to be fully capable of dealing with these occasions, through the powers of dialogue and reason.

But there is one little problem here. As Bill Kristol points out:

As Columbia welcomes Ahmadinejad to campus, Columbia students who want to serve their country cannot enroll in the Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) at Columbia. Columbia students who want to enroll in ROTC must travel to other universities to fulfill their obligations. ROTC has been banned from the Columbia campus since 1969. In 2003, a majority of polled Columbia students supported reinstating ROTC on campus. But in 2005, when the Columbia faculty senate debated the issue, President Bollinger joined the opponents in defeating the effort to invite ROTC back on campus.

The original decision to kick ROTC off campus was the product of 1960s anti-Americanism, but the ostensible reason the policy continues is objection to the law, signed by President Clinton, that prohibits open homosexuals from serving in the military. Apparently some ideas are so odious that they are unworthy of answering "through the powers of dialogue and reason."

So, what is Ahmadinejad's regime's policy on homosexuals in the military? We don't know, but according to Human Rights Watch, Iran is not a terribly friendly place for gay civilians:

On Sunday, November 13, the semi-official Tehran daily Kayhan reported that the Iranian government publicly hung [sic] two men, Mokhtar N. (24 years old) and Ali A. (25 years old), in the Shahid Bahonar Square of the northern town of Gorgan.

The government reportedly executed the two men for the crime of "lavat." Iran's shari'a-based penal code defines lavat as penetrative and non-penetrative sexual acts between men. Iranian law punishes all penetrative sexual acts between adult men with the death penalty. Non-penetrative sexual acts between men are punished with lashes until the fourth offense, when they are punished with death. Sexual acts between women, which are defined differently, are punished with lashes until the fourth offense, when they are also punished with death.

If the U.S. military executed homosexuals instead of merely discharging them, perhaps Bollinger would welcome ROTC back to Columbia.

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Thursday, September 20, 2007


LifeWay: Biblical Solutions for Life - LifeWay Research Uncovers Reasons 18 to 22 Year Olds Drop Out of Church
To uncover the reasons young people leave church, LifeWay Research conducted a survey in April and May 2007 of more than 1,000 adults ages 18-30. Each indicated that they had attended a Protestant church regularly for at least a year in high school.

Should I stay or should I go?

According to the study, 70 percent of young adults ages 23-30 stopped attending church regularly for at least a year between ages 18-22.

In most cases, the decision to leave was not planned far in advance. Only 20 percent of these "church dropouts" agree that while they were attending church regularly in high school they "planned on taking a break from church once [they] finished high school."

Among those who predetermined to leave church, few told anyone about their desire. One reflected, "I just told my parents I didn’t like it," rather than sharing an intention to actually leave. Another said, "I kept my feelings secret for fear of losing my friends."

Why do most young people leave?

Life changes or life situations cause young people to leave the church. In fact, 97 percent of dropouts list one or more specific life-change issues as a reason they left church.

Six of the top 10 reasons church dropouts leave relate to life changes. The most frequent reason for leaving church is, in fact, a self-imposed change, "I simply wanted a break from church" (27 percent).

The paths toward college and the workforce are also strong reasons for young people to leave church: "I moved to college and stopped attending church" (25 percent) and "work responsibilities prevented me from attending" (23 percent).

In addition to moving to college, others simply "moved too far away from the church to continue attending" (22 percent) and, it can be assumed, did not find a closer church.

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Campus Lynch Mob

From the Economist, quoted at -
A striking number of professors were willing to trample all over legal process in their rush to declare the lacrosse players guilty before charge, let along trial. And they did so solely on the basis of the players' race and gender. One professor, Houston Baker, denounced the lacrosse players as “young white, violent, drunken men veritably given licence to rape, maraud, deploy hate speech”. Duke's politically-correct faculty thus produced a mirror image of the worst racism of the South in the 1950s, when people were pronounced guilty—and denied their legal rights—solely because they were black. While all this was going on Duke's president, Richard Brodhead, did little, if anything, to defend the lacrosse players or to criticise the faculty for its lynch-mob mentality. A university that charges students over $40,000 per year essentially abandoned three of them to the bullying of an out-of-control prosecutor.

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Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Does College cause young people to lose their faith?

Crocker Chronicle
There is a commonly held assumption in Christian circles that a Christian youth that goes away to college is going to lose their faith and stop going to church. A recent report seems to contradict this. Some researchers at The University of Texas found in a recent report (you can read more about it here) that college is not the danger that many believe it to be when it comes to matters of faith.

Read the whole thing.

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Survivor Leaders

Survivor Leaderships: Who Survives and Why? : OnMovements
# Survivor Leaders recognize, acknowledge and even accept the reality of their situations. They keep their perceptions and cognitive functions working . . . they notice the details.
# Survivor Leaders stay calm. While they may be afraid, they use fear without being ruled by it. They watch for any mutiny of too much emotion–often using humor to help them stay calm.
# Survivor Leaders quickly organize, set up routines and institute discipline. They are always thinking, analyzing and planning.
# Survivor Leaders take decisive actions; they are bold, but cautious in carrying out small, manageable tasks. They deal with what is within their power from moment to moment, hour to hour, day to day.
# Survivor Leaders celebrate successes. They take joy in completing tasks–regardless of how small. Small successes rejoiced in prevents a descent into hopelessness.
# Survivor Leaders count their blessings and work to help others “survive.” They become rescuers instead of victims.
# Survivor Leaders play mind games, sing, recite poetry, count things, do math problems in their heads. The deeper activities of the intellect stimulate, entertain and calm the mind. They love poetry.
# Survivor Leaders see the beauty. They are attuned to the wonder of the world. Appreciation of beauty opens the senses.
# Survivor Leaders believe that they will succeed.
# Survivor Leaders let go of the fear of dying; they put away the pain. They don’t let the pain or the fear of death dominate their thinking.
# Survivor Leaders do whatever is necessary. To them, anything is possible and they act accordingly.
# Survivor Leaders never give up.

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Tuesday, September 18, 2007

New Media Job Security

Captain's Quarters
As Reuters notes, the dramatic decline in the use of hospitals indicates that the testimony of General David Petraeus was truthful. One emergency ward in an area of previously intense fighting only had two patients in it when Reuters visited. In the morgue, the bodies that remain from the sectarian violence have been there for weeks. The previous month has brought an end to the flood of casualties that had plagued Baghdad, and especially the Sunni areas, for years.

Nouri al-Maliki estimated that violence has fallen in Baghdad by perhaps as much as 75% of what had been previously seen. The Deputy Health Minister estimates closer to 85%. He declared the situation in the capital "calm and stable", and that the violence is much less prevalent than before.

Oddly, this did not get much play in the American media yesterday. The Washington Post, New York Times, and Los Angeles Times all focused on the expulsion of Blackwater rather than the evidence that the security situation has greatly improved in Baghdad. Which story do you think more important to the American people?

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Islamic Reformation

Cleric Turns Against Al Qaeda - September 18, 2007 - The New York Sun
A prominent Saudi cleric once praised by Osama bin Laden has published an open letter condemning Al Qaeda's violence. In the long letter published on an Arabic Web site, Cleric Salman al-Awdah calls on Mr. bin Laden to end the killing of innocent Muslims and others in terrorist acts in Iraq and elsewhere around the world. "How much blood has been spilt? How many innocent people, children, elderly, and women have been killed, dispersed, or evicted in the name of Al-Qa'ida?" the letter says. "My brother Usama Bin Ladin, the image of Islam today is not at its best."

Well, it's not exactly the 95 Theses, but it's a start.

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Oracles and Prophets

Economists v. Ecologists - TierneyLab - Science - New York Times Blog
when it comes to getting the big picture right, when it comes to preparing for environmental catastrophes, economists have a better track record than the scientists who specialize in analyzing environmental trends.

The classic example is the “population crisis” of the 1960s and 1970s, when biologists like Paul Ehrlich were convinced humanity was about to suffer massive famines and devastating shortages of energy and other resources because the growing population would exceed the planet’s “carrying capacity.” This concept seemed obvious to biologists who study ecosystems, but economists realized there’s a big difference between animals and humans: Humans are remarkably adaptable and creative. When confronted with shortages and environmental problems, they have a long history of coming up with solutions — new methods of farming, new and cheaper sources of energy, cleaner technologies — that leave them better off in an environment that’s less polluted. .

When the economist Julian Simon pointed this out and predicted that humanity wouldn’t run out of food or energy or other resources in an article in the journal Science, the journal was widely criticized by ecologists and other scientists for publishing the work of an ignorant outsider. Paul Ehrlich and his wife, Anne, said that economists like Dr. Simon were members of a “space-age cargo cult.” Trying to explain to these economists that commodities must inevitably become more scarce and expensive, the Ehrlichs wrote, “would be like attempting to explain odd-day-even-day gas distribution to a cranberry.”

So Dr. Simon challenged the supposed experts to pick any resource that was going to become scarce, and offered to bet them it would instead be cheaper in the future. Dr. Ehrlich and two specialists in energy and natural-resource issues, John Harte and John Holdren, picked five metals and bet $1,000 in 1980. Ten years the supposed experts in natural resources had to pay up, because all five metals were cheaper, just as Dr. Simon had predicted.

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Monday, September 17, 2007


This takes me back to my days as a Humanities major. At least it wasn't reified.

Quoted in Best of the Web:

Academentia Watch

Last week we noted a bizarre op-ed piece from Kathy Rudy, a professor of
"women's studies" at Duke, who described herself as a supporter of
animal rights but proceeded to defend erstwhile NFL player Michael Vick's
involvement in illegal dogfighting on the ground that he is black.

readers wrote to ask us or to tell us that Rudy was one of the infamous
"Duke 88," a group of Duke faculty members who signed an ad that
listed quotes, purporting to come from Duke students, about the rape allegation
against lacrosse players, which turned out to be a hoax. The original ad seems
to have disappeared form the Web, but a copy is here.

more, according to this
, Rudy was not among the 89 Duke faculty members (which included some
who had been among the 88 and some who hadn't) who signed a "clarifying statement"
which said the ad had not been intended to prejudge the rape case--not a
terribly believable assertion, but at least an implicit acknowledgment of

--co-author of "Until Proven Innocent," which is reviewed
today by Abigail
and is available from the OpinionJournal
--has more background on Rudy, a tenured associate professor:

first coming to Durham,
Rudy recalled that she "moved quickly into the lesbian community because
there was a growing sentiment in feminist discourse that lesbianism was the
most legitimate way to act out our politics." Within this
"progressive" neighborhood in west Durham, "Many of us thought
that by avoiding men and building a parallel, alternative culture, we were changing
the world . . . I managed to live most of my daily life avoiding men
all together, and spent most of my social time reading, dreaming, planning,
talking, and writing about the beauty of a world run only by women,
. . . free of [men's] patronizing dominance." Rudy and her
fellow radical feminists oriented their activities around "the ideas that
women were superior and that a new world could be built on that

problems soon emerged.

Durham's radical
feminists were white and middle-class, but Rudy's social group had two
"Black women." The duo "began to use race as a category of
political analysis, when they declared that they--as Black lesbian women--were
more oppressed than the rest of us." The two women exposed an
uncomfortable truth: "If one identity-based oppression was bad, two or
three or more was worse."

action, Rudy reminisced, challenged the founding principle of radical lesbians
in Durham and
elsewhere: "That we--as women--were oppressed, so much so that
identification as the oppressor then seemed impossible. For us at that point,
the equation was simple; men dominated and oppressed women . . .
Complexifying this equation to include race meant identifying ourselves as
white oppressors; it meant, therefore that our politics were now less absolute,
we ourselves less pure." This development produced uncomfortable
questions, such as "Could we stand to see ourselves as oppressors and
still exist in such an ideologically pure community? Could we purge ourselves
of racism by loving Black women but not Black men?"

say America
has the world's finest system of higher education. If that is true, there are
scores of other systems--perhaps as many as 200--that are worse than the
one that produced Kathy Rudy. This is going to give us nightmares for a long

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Primitive Religion

Religion has often been used as a tool for enslavement. Environmentalism seems to be no exception.

Quoted from Best of the Web:

Trickle-Down Ecology
Brendan O'Neill of the online magazine Spiked calls our attention to an astonishing report that appeared last week in London's Times. You thought this "carbon offset" business was a scam? It turns out it's even worse, as O'Neill explains:

In [the Times article] it was revealed that the leader of the UK Conservative Party, David Cameron, offsets his carbon emissions by effectively keeping brown people in a state of bondage. Whenever he takes a flight to some foreign destination, Cameron donates to a carbon-offsetting company that encourages people in the developing world to ditch modern methods of farming in favour of using their more eco-friendly manpower to plough the land. So Cameron can fly around the world with a guilt-free conscience on the basis that, thousands of miles away, Indian villagers, bent over double, are working by hand rather than using machines that emit carbon.

Welcome to the era of eco-enslavement.

The details of this carbon-offsetting scheme are disturbing. Cameron offsets his flights by donating to Climate Care. The latest wheeze of this carbon-offsetting company is to provide "treadle pumps" to poor rural families in India so that they can get water on to their land without having to use polluting diesel power. Made from bamboo, plastic and steel, the treadle pumps work like "step machines in a gym," according to some reports, where poor family members step on the pedals for hours in order to draw up groundwater which is used to irrigate farmland. These pumps were abolished in British prisons a century ago. It seems that what was considered an unacceptable form of punishment for British criminals in the past is looked upon as a positive eco-alternative to machinery for Indian peasants today.

What might once have been referred to as "back-breaking labour" is now spun as "human energy."

What's more, this is all done so that Cameron can avoid making changes in his own lifestyle, which we are supposed to believe is destroying the planet. Global-warmism is not just some harmless enthusiasm; it can be despicable and inhuman.

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Another Gem from Jason

Holding On

Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompence
of reward.

Hebrews 10:35

When I got sick and had to start using a ventilator to breathe, I had
two possible reactions to God. I could either get bitter and angry toward Him
or I could trust in Him even more. Sadly, I chose to be bitter and angry. I let
go of my trust in Him and questioned why He could allow such suffering to
happen. I turned my back on Him as my Bible went unread and my prayers went
unsaid. I didn't want to live, but I was too afraid to die.

What I didn't realize then is God had great things ahead for me if I
would just hold on to my trust, if I would just have patience in my trials. Six
months after I gave up on God, He reminded me of His love and I put my
confidence back in Him. Little did I know then that my future involved a
ministry where I would use my experiences to reach out to other people. God
allows me show His power through my weakness. If I hold on to God, He will
continue to reward me by using me for His glory and His honor.

And by trusting in God, I have even greater things ahead for me when I
enter His presence after I die. On that day, I will truly be able to stand
before God with strong legs. Indeed, I plan to dance like David danced. On that
day, my lungs will not need mechanical assistance to breathe in the glory of
God and shout out His praises. On that day, I won’t need a hearing aid to hear
the angels sing, "Holy, holy, holy." On that day, I won't need
glasses to see the wonders laid before me.

Hold on, my friend. Trust God in your trials. Great things lie ahead.

(If this devotional has blessed you, please pass it on.)

From a fellow traveler just passing through,

Jason Mitchener

Jason's Music:


To subscribe, visit:

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Saturday, September 15, 2007

Google Enterprise?

This makes me nervous to use Google for anything important.

Google Censors the Claremont Insider | The Foothill Cities Blog

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We've got a fever... -
MASSACHUSETTS DECIDES THAT ROADS NEED more cowbell. Well, doesn't everything?

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Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

The Best Cola Ever

Amazon al Dente's Blog: Royal Crown: The Greatest Cola Ever Permalink
RC Cola lives in a magical taste palace somewhere between Pepsiland and Cokeville. Like Pepsi, it's sweeter than Coke, but it isn't as overpoweringly sweet. And like Coke, it has a fuller "cola" flavor than Pepsi, but doesn't have that lingering stale cola aftertaste.

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Academic Misconduct

Was Duke Rape Case 'Academic McCarthyism'? - Newsweek National News -
"Here, he thought, is a comfortable university president wallowing in self-pity in front of four students who are in grave danger of being falsely indicted on charges of gang rape, punishable by decades in prison."

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Here, here!

State of MP3 Download - New iPods Signal iTunes with Subscriptions? - Popular Mechanics
The subscription model is the future. “You’d pay, say, $19.95 a month, and the music will come anywhere you’d like,” Rubin is quoted as saying. “The iPod will be obsolete ... And once that model is put into place, the industry will grow 10 times the size it is now.”

As the Instapundit would say, "Bring it on!"

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A Thousand Words


Human-animal embryo study wins approval | Science | The Guardian
Plans to allow British scientists to create human-animal embryos are expected to be approved tomorrow by the government's fertility regulator. The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority published its long-awaited public consultation on the controversial research yesterday, revealing that a majority of people were "at ease" with scientists creating the hybrid embryos.

Researchers want to create hybrid embryos by merging human cells with animal eggs, in the hope they will be able to extract valuable embryonic stem cells from them. The cells form the basic building blocks of the body and are expected to pave the way for revolutionary therapies for diseases such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and even spinal cord injuries.

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Sunday, September 02, 2007

Tifah is now The Autumn Film

From my friend Latifah:

To all of those that have been with us from the beginning, met us in the middle,
or are just now finding us:

We, Tifah have officially changed our name. This is an exciting time and transition for us!
I, Latifah, have been known as Tifah for a few years and spent a long time searching for a band. I never imagined I would stumble upon such an incredibly talented, beautiful, intelligent, and creative group of people.
As we have been together a year now our music is shaping into a sound unique to the five of us. It is dependent on each player's intuition...if Aubrea, Reid, Dann, or Juli left it would change the makeup of who we are.
In honor of our group and its collective effort and contribution we decided a new name would set us off on the right foot. We are now...The Autumn Film! Tell everyone you know of the change so no one loses us along the way.


The Autumn Film

Visit us at:

Interesting Stuff