Friday, November 30, 2007

Online Newspapers also in decline

Investigate the Media: S.F. Chronicle admits to deceptive comment-deletion policy, offers bizarre excuse, then lies again
In response to the scandal caused by our earlier exposé at Investigate the Media, the Webmaster for the San Francisco Chronicle has given an interview to local news site SFist, admitting that the Chronicle's Web site, SFGate , did indeed have a policy of deleting certain users' comments in such a way that the commenters themselves did not know they had been deleted.

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Thursday, November 29, 2007

Hear, Hear!

Roger L. Simon: The Presidential Debates are a National Joke
Today's Drudge headline - BOOB TUBE: CNN DUPED BY HILLARY PLANT AT REPUBLICAN DEBATE - is yet another example of the pathetic quality of the endless presidential debates. But it isn't just the dubious provenance of these questions - or even their inanity - that makes these events so pointless. It is their basic construction, actually their very existence, that makes a mockery of our democracy. Has anyone learned a single thing about anybody from these events? They are an embarrassment, a national joke.

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My Shade of Green

I disagree with some of their particulars but this is the right direction.

OpinionJournal - Leisure & Arts
Let it be said that Messrs. Nordhaus and Shellenberger are anything but nature-scoffing know-nothings. They have worked for environmental organizations for years. Thus there is a certain poignancy to their view that "doomsday discourse" has made the green movement just another liberal interest group. They want environmentalism to have a broader appeal--enough to address major ecological concerns, including global warming. But no one, they contend, is going to demand draconian emission limits--the kind that would actually slow the warming trend--if they bring down the standard of living and interrupt the progress of the economy.

A progressive approach, the authors say, would acknowledge that economic growth and prosperity do not, in themselves, pose an environmental threat. To the contrary, they inspire ecological concern; the environment, Messrs. Nordhaus and Shellenberger say, is a "post-material" need that people demand only after their material needs are met. To make normal, productive human activity the enemy of nature, as environmentalists implicitly do, is to adopt policies that "constrain human ambition, aspiration and power" instead of finding ways to "unleash and direct them."

Messrs. Nordhaus and Shellenberger want "an explicitly pro-growth agenda," on the theory that investment, innovation and imagination may ultimately do more to improve the environment than punitive regulation and finger-wagging rhetoric. To stabilize atmospheric carbon levels will take more--much more--than regulation; it will require "unleashing human power, creating a new economy."

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Wednesday, November 28, 2007

International Science Facts

From Opinion Journal:

Science Has Spoken, Now Shut Up
"The Scientists Speak," reads the headline of the New York Times editorial, which informs us that there is no question the New York Times editorialists are right:

The world's scientists have done their job. Now it's time for world leaders, starting with President Bush, to do theirs. That is the urgent message at the core of the latest--and the most powerful--report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a group of 2,500 scientists who collectively constitute the world's most authoritative voice on global warming.

Released in Spain over the weekend, the report leaves no doubt that man-made emissions from the burning of fossil fuels (and, to a lesser extent, deforestation) have been responsible for the steady rise in atmospheric temperatures.

There is no doubt! These are scientists, after all, and they're working for the U.N. They don't make mistakes!

Or do they? Here's a news story that also appears in the Times today:

The United Nations' AIDS-fighting agency plans to issue a report today acknowledging that it overestimated the size of the epidemic and that new infections with the deadly virus have been dropping each year since they peaked in the late 1990s.

We're so confused. Didn't the scientists speak? How could they have gotten it so wrong? After all, they're scientists!

Here's a quote from the Washington Post that may shed some light on the matter:

"There was a tendency toward alarmism, and that fit perhaps a certain fundraising agenda," said Helen Epstein, author of "The Invisible Cure: Africa, the West, and the Fight Against AIDS." "I hope these new numbers will help refocus the response in a more pragmatic way."

Could it be that we are watching the same phenomenon with the whole global-warmist hysteria? Our bet would be yes.

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Lion and Lamb

Lions build a belief system - Los Angeles Times
Within the Detroit locker room, the reaction to his unabashed spirituality has been very different.

Since his arrival as a free agent last fall, attendance at weekly Bible study has increased from a handful of regulars to as many as 20, roughly a third of the roster. The team chaplain has baptized more than a dozen players and wives and expects more soon.

Even nonbelievers say religion has helped to unify a team ripped apart by years of losing. With the Lions unexpectedly at 6-4 facing Green Bay in a crucial game today, they point to Kitna's influence as a factor in their unlikely run at the playoffs.

"Really, every day in football you're selling a vision," Coach Rod Marinelli says. "Faith is a belief in the unknown and, as a team, that's where we're trying to get."

The question makes Kitna smile. No, he was not always a Christian.

During his first three seasons at tiny Central Washington, he says, "I was basically an alcoholic, a womanizer, cheating my way through school."

The change came when his girlfriend caught him with another woman. She turned to Christianity, he followed, and they were married eight months later.

Jon and Jennifer have been together 14 years now.

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Google Privacy

Globes Online – Israel business news – Israel economy – Israel banks – Tel Aviv Stock Exchange – Israel stocks - Shekel – Israel technology – Israel real estate – Israel defense companies - Globes [online] - In precedent, Google to hand over blogger's IP
In an unprecedented move, Google Inc. (Nasdaq:GOOG) has agreed to supply the IP address of an Israeli blogger who used "Google Blogger" for a blog in which he slandered Shaarei Tikva council members running for reelection.

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Tuesday, November 27, 2007

All you need to know about Shocking Modern Art

Artists too frightened to tackle radical Islam - Times Online
Britain’s contemporary artists are fĂȘted around the world for their willingness to shock but fear is preventing them from tackling Islamic fundamentalism. Grayson Perry, the cross-dressing potter, Turner Prize winner and former Times columnist, said that he had consciously avoided commenting on radical Islam in his otherwise highly provocative body of work because of the threat of reprisals.

Perry also believes that many of his fellow visual artists have also ducked the issue, and one leading British gallery director told The Times that few major venues would be prepared to show potentially inflammatory works. “I’ve censored myself,” Perry said at a discussion on art and politics organised by the Art Fund.

“The reason I haven’t gone all out attacking Islamism in my art is because I feel real fear that someone will slit my throat.” Perry’s highly decorated pots can sell for more than £50,000 and often feature sex, violence and childhood motifs.

One work depicted a teddy bear being born from a penis as the Virgin Mary. “I’m interested in religion and I’ve made a lot of pieces about it,” he said. “With other targets you’ve got a better idea of who they are but Islamism is very amorphous. You don’t know what the threshold is. Even what seems an innocuous image might trigger off a really violent reaction so I just play safe all the time.”

The fate of Theo van Gogh, the Dutch film-maker who was murdered by a Muslim extremist in 2004 after he made a film portraying violence against women in Islamic societies, is the most chilling example of what can happen to an artist who is perceived to have offended Islam. Perry said that he had also been scared by the reaction across the Islamic world to Danish cartoons deemed anti-Muslim in 2006 and by the protests against Salman Rushdie’s knighthood this year.

What a powerful comment on the peaceful and civilized nature of Christianity. I guess there is such a huge difference between fundamentalist Islam and fundamentalist Christianity that the most "transgressive" critics of Christianity clearly understand it.

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School Phone - Montclair State Unveils Mandatory 'School Phone'
College students at Montclair State University are all talking about a new requirement that will require students to have a cell phone.

CBS 2 HD has learned more on this required feature that is forcing students to dig into their wallets.

At Montclair State, there is no excuse for being out of touch.

"'School Phone' I use for campus e-mail, different things like that," freshman Angela Vuocolo said.

That's right.

First-year student Vuocolo said 'School Phone' -- as in a Sprint-operated cell phone -- is now mandatory for all students. It's the first program of its kind in the country.

The cost: $420 a year for a base plan which is bundled into the tuition bill.

It includes just 50 peak voice minutes a month, but unlimited text messaging to any carrier, unlimited campus-based data usage, and student activated emergency GPS tracking.

"What it does is allow students to have an extra pair or group of people watching over them when they're going from one location to another," Montclair Police Department Chief Paul Cell said.

The positive impact is already being felt across campus.

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Saturday, November 24, 2007

Social Sector Leaders

Forces for Good–Spiritual Movements as High-Impact Nonprofits : OnMovements
Share leadership. The leaders of great social sector organizations are exceptionally strategic and gifted entrepreneurs, but they also know they must share power in order to be as stronger force for good. They distribute leadership throughout their organization and their nonprofit network—empowering others to lead. They share leadership, empowering others to be forces for good . The CEOs of these organizations cultivate a strong second-in-command, build enduring executive teams with long tenure, and develop highly engaged boards in order to have more impact.

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Modern Maturity

Friday, November 23, 2007

Facebook for Freedom

Syria blocks Facebook in Internet crackdown | International | Reuters
DAMASCUS (Reuters) - Syrian users of Facebook said on Friday the authorities had blocked access to the social network Web site as part of a crackdown on political activism on the Internet.

"Facebook helped further civil society in Syria and form civic groups outside government control. This is why it has been banned," women's rights advocate Dania al-Sharif told Reuters.

"They cut off communications between us and the outside world. We are used to this behavior from our government," said Mais al-Sharbaji, who set up a Facebook group for amateur Syrian photographers.

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Emory building draped in black to save birds |
It is one of Emory University's most environmentally friendly buildings, a hallmark of the institution's efforts to "go green." To hear John Wegner describe it, it's also a slaughterhouse.

The soaring glass windows in Emory's Mathematics and Science Center reflect the woodsy view, confusing hapless birds who smash into it at full speed.

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Eco-Celibacy, Not Hereditary

Meet the women who won't have babies - because they're not eco friendly | the Daily Mail
Incredibly, so determined was she that the terrible "mistake" of pregnancy should never happen again, that she begged the doctor who performed the abortion to sterilise her at the same time. He refused, but Toni - who works for an environmental charity - "relentlessly hunted down a doctor who would perform the irreversible surgery. Finally, eight years ago, Toni got her way. At the age of 27 this young woman at the height of her reproductive years was sterilised to "protect the planet". Incredibly, instead of mourning the loss of a family that never was, her boyfriend (now husband) presented her with a congratulations card. While some might think it strange to celebrate the reversal of nature and denial of motherhood, Toni relishes her decision with an almost religious zeal. "Having children is selfish. It's all about maintaining your genetic line at the expense of the planet," says Toni, 35. "Every person who is born uses more food, more water, more land, more fossil fuels, more trees and produces more rubbish, more pollution, more greenhouse gases, and adds to the problem of over-population."

The future belongs to those who believe in it.

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Thanksgiving Blogging

I am thankful for rest. Oddly enough blogging is restful for me. I love learning and I blog some of what I learn so blogging is a by-product of what feels like recreational learning. To the extent that learning is unconnected to some kind of work, it is recreational for me.

Writing, however, is exhausting. Which is why my blog posts are so often bereft of comment by yours truly. I post the ideas, or at least the carrier of the ideas in a news item or commentary but resist the work of actual writing. This would make blogging laborious. And since blogging is something I tend to do in my leisure hours, I engage in leisurely blogging (e.g. sans writing, solo linking).

Ironically, since the Thanksgiving holiday is a time of abundant rest, I find I have time and energy to actually write. The motivation for this labor is my gratitude for the cessation of labor commanded in the Bible. One who works constantly is a slave, regardless of pay. I am grateful that God cares enough about me and humanity to urge us to refrain from voluntary slavery.

Thanksgiving is among the last truly shared American experiences. It is the closest modern remnant of the holidays (read Holy Days) of the Bible. The nation refrains from it's usual work to rest, celebrate and ponder it's beliefs and values.

I pray that this holyday weekend would be for you a time of rest, recreation and meaning.

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Visions of Universal Health Care

Alistair Darling fights for job after data loss - Telegraph
Two compact discs containing bank details and addresses of 9.5 million parents and the names, dates of birth and National Insurance numbers of all 15.5 million children in the country went missing after a junior employee of HM Revenue and Customs sent them in the mail, unrecorded and unregistered.

Another angle on the British government's data fiasco |
As the late Ronald Reagan used to say, a state that is powerful enough to give the public everything it wants is powerful enough to take it from them too.

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Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Volunteers | Roll Call and Reveille
More than 100 young men and women raise their hands and recite the Oath of Enlistment into the Tennessee Army National Guard on Nov. 17 at the Tennessee-Vanderbilt football game. The ceremony took place at mid-field in Neyland Stadium and the young warriors received a standing ovation from 107,000 fans.

Not victims.

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Organized Criminals

Saddam was profitable. No wonder so many in Europe opposed deposing him.

Vitol Pleads Guilty In Oil-for-Food Case - November 21, 2007 - The New York Sun
A Switzerland-based oil trading company has pleaded guilty to paying $13 million in kickbacks to the Iraqi government in violation of the U.N. oil-for-food program's rules, the Manhattan district attorney, Robert Morgenthau, announced yesterday.

Vitol S.A. allowed the kickbacks to continue between June 2001 and September 2002 but did not report them to the United Nations, according to a release from Mr. Morgenthau's office.

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Saturday, November 17, 2007

MTV: What's with Kids these days?

Key findings from the happiness study included:

* BFF. Friends are and will continue to be the most important relationships contributing to youth happiness. 80% of the youth polled said that having lots of close friends is very or somewhat important; 23% said that when they go out with friends, they stop feeling unhappy.

* No Body’s Perfect. Body image and traditional routes to good health will be important aspects of happiness for many youth. “At my school, skinny is what everyone’s trying to be,” said Vanessa A., 13, of Philadelphia. “People make fun of fat [but] also of the skin-and-bones look.”

* My Life, My Time, My Way. Youth will take control of their own happiness. 91% said they have goals for the future (81% have career/work goals, 64% education, 62% family, 63% money, 48% travel, 17% sports, while 12% hope for fame).

* Virtual Community. Technology will be important for staying in touch as well as for the pleasure of the moment. 37% of the youths polled said they play videogames to stop unhappiness. 61% said technology helps them make new friends. In the 24 hours before the survey, half of the respondents said, they sent a text message; 71% said they received one.

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Thursday, November 15, 2007

Non-Jesus Camp

Where Are The News Media? (Forum)
There's an obvious explanation of why so many university watchers don't seem to know what's going on: the news media are extremely reluctant to report on what the increasingly coercive diversity lobby is doing to the campuses.

The brainwashing and indoctrination at the University of Delaware (and anyone who has read the voluminous documents in the case knows that use of these words is surely fair) has been pervasively reported on conservative blogs and right-wing radio. But the left has been silent and the mainstream media have almost universally avoided telling alumni, parents and trustees what is going on. Only a few news outlets covered the story. The Wilmington News Journal ran a piece headlined "Some Made Uneasy by UD Diversity Training", thus reducing indoctrination to discomfort. The Philadelphia Inquirer ran a similarly soft report that used the headline word "unsettled" instead of "uneasy." The story's lead: "When University of Delaware freshmen showed up at their dorms this semester, their orientation included an exercise aimed at bridging cultural

Well, no. Bridging divides is not what the programmers had in mind. If that had been the goal, the Delaware indocrtrinators would not have kept telling the students that all whites are racists. And they wouldn't have insisted that "Students will recognize that systemic oppression exists in our society." The point of the program (which isn't just for freshmen) was to change the thoughts and beliefs of the students to the ones the university administrators wanted them to have.

If a Christians did this it would be in every newspaper and on every network weekly "magazine". Someone would make a documentary for the film festival circuit called "Jesus Camp". Of course they already did. I won't hold my breath for "Diversity Camp: Back to School". I've said for years that Universities are full of religion, it's just that traditional religions are less welcome.

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Monday, November 12, 2007

No Excuses

The Washington Times, America's Newspaper
After his speech, sipping a vodka gimlet as he talked to a group of writers, Mr. Surnow scoffed at the suggestion that Hollywood's liberalism prevents conservatives from getting work in film and television. "There's tons of conservatives who work," he said. "If you write a great script, you could drop it off a freeway overpass in rush hour, and the movie would still get made."

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Good News for Me

Chubby Gets a Second Look - New York Times
Chubby, it turns out, may be the new healthy. Who knows if it will be the new beautiful.

Two years ago, federal researchers found that overweight people had the lowest mortality rate of any weight group. Investigating further, they were able to link causes of death to specific weights. Obese people had more deaths from heart disease, they reported last week. And thin people? They had more deaths from everything but cancer and heart disease.

But there were 100,000 fewer deaths among the overweight than would have been expected if those people had been of normal weight. This is what might politely be called the chubby category, with body mass indexes (a measure of weight for height) of 25 to 30.

...It’s too soon to say. But it may not be a bad thing, say some social scientists. “The ideal image of a woman is almost impossible for anybody to achieve,” said Peter J. Brown, an anthropologist at Emory University.

Dr. Brown is among those social scientists who say that being thin really isn’t about health, anyway, but about social class and control.

When food was scarce and expensive, they say, only the rich could afford to be fat. Thus, in the 19th century, well-do-do men with paunches joined Fat Men’s Clubs, which gave rise to the term “fat cat.” Heavy women of that era were stage stars. Lillian Russell, “airy fairy Lillian, the American beauty,” weighed 200 pounds.

Those notions of fashion gradually gave way to a more streamlined physique.

The sponsors of a 1904 contest to find “the best and most perfectly formed woman” settled on Emma Newkirk, an athlete from Santa Monica, Calif., who stood 5-foot-4 ¼, measured 35-26-36, and weighed 136 pounds. That would have given her a B.M.I. of 23.3 — not overweight, but close.

The body mass indexes of Miss America winners, according to a 2000 study, have been steadily decreasing since 1922, so much so that for most winners in the last three decades their indexes would cause them to be considered underweight.

How thin is thin enough? One Miss America had a body mass index of 16.9, which is considerably underweight. A woman of Emma Newkirk’s height would have had to weigh 99 pounds to have that body mass index. That may help explain why, in recent years, as many as two-thirds of women and more than half of men have expressed dissatisfaction with their weight.

How did we get to this point?

George Armelagos, an anthropologist at Emory University, calls it the King Henry VIII -Oprah Winfrey effect.

Henry VIII, king of England in the 16th century, “was huge,” he said, which was a symbol of his wealth. To get that way, Dr. Armelagos said, “it took 100 people collecting food for him and cooking it.” Compare that to the billionaire Oprah Winfrey. “She has to have a dietitian and cook and a trainer so she doesn’t get to be like that,” he said.

Today, poorer people are most likely to be fat and so, said Abigail Saguy, a sociologist at the University of California at Los Angeles, “fatness is associated with downward mobility.” Weight has thus become a moral issue couched in health concerns, she said. After a while, it almost becomes inconceivable that anyone would see a fat person differently.

So what does this all mean for the chubby among us, who may be the healthiest, or at least, the most likely to live the longest? Will chubby become fashionable? That may have to await the day when chubby becomes inextricably linked to health, or privilege.

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Saturday, November 10, 2007

A Favorite Prayer Request

Google Android Effect on Cellphone Carriers - Open-Source Mobile Software - Popular Mechanics
So Android is by no means a slam-dunk as a category-dominating OS standard, but it throws down the gauntlet to start a few much-needed brawls in the cellular industry. Google estimates that the operating system amounts to 10 percent of the total cost of a phone, so a free OS combined with falling hardware prices could eventually result in multifunction handsets that are cheap enough to do an end run around carrier subsidies. This could potentially mean a fertile unlocked handset market. But what’s got to be really scaring the carriers right now is the prospect of thousands of freely available applications that could subvert almost every communications product they sell. Why subscribe to Sprint’s GPS mapping service when you can simply download a free one that taps into Google Maps? Why pay for text messages to your friends when you can download an instant messaging client? In fact, why pay for cellular minutes at all when you can download Skype and just use your data plan? This sort of functionality has been creeping onto cellphones for years as they have become more and more like tiny computers. But OS’s such as Android threaten carriers with a loss of control over the applications on the phones on their network. And they may find themselves becoming nothing more than wireless Internet service providers, forced to compete on price and bandwidth (another brewing battle, by the way, with Sprint’s WiMAX rollout next year). Regardless of what happens, it is going to be good for consumers. If things shake out in the best possible way, we could end up with cheap, highly-functional, customizable, Internet-enabled handsets that work across multiple carriers with no long-term contract requirements.

Someday soon, I pray. Cellphone carriers are as user-friendly as the recording industry.

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Not Appearing in the NYT

Roger's Rules: Norman Mailer, a dissenting view
The news that the novelist Norman Mailer died earlier today at the age of 84 has already elicited little hagiographical murmurs. That hushed choir will doubtless turn into a deafening chorus of praise in the coming days and weeks—how much space do you suppose The New York Times will devote to its (I predict) front-page obituary? What grand superlatives will be dusted off and rolled out to commemorate the polyphiloprogentive wife-stabber and booster of homicidal misfits? “Genius” will be paraded early and often, I’ll wager, as will the extended family of adjectives emanating from the word “provocative.” One early notice described Mailer as “the country’s literary conscience and provocateur” and characterized The Armies of the Night as one of his (presumably many) “masterworks.” Perhaps, before the celebratory paeans entirely drown out critical judgment, there is room for a few dissenting observations.

Mailer epitomized a certain species of macho, adolescent radicalism that helped to inure the wider public to displays of violence, anti-American tirades, and sexual braggadocio.

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Heroes Real and Imagined

End of the War Hero
Despite spend several million dollars on advertising and marketing, 'Lions for Lambs' will flop--just like 'Rendition' & and 'Valley of Elah.'

They will flop because the human psyche, especially the American variety, prefers real heroes--like the original hero of the Valley of Elah, a young shepherd named David who killed Goliath then cut off the giant's head.

In the latest round of war movies the heroes are not the Soldiers and Marines who every day fight and defeat a vicious and barbaric enemy--the heroes are reporters, lawyers and activists.

And since every story requires a villain, the real enemy--Mohammedan Jihadists--are replaced by neo-cons, politicians, Soldiers and Marines.

This substitution of the traditional mono-myth away from a hero who faces physical danger and conquers an enemy is a result of cowardice of the modern story tellers.

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Much like Miami Football...

Pajamas Media: The Calm After the Storms: Hurricane Season 2007
As the relatively mild 2007 hurricane season winds down, Brendan Loy reflects on the the dire preseason forecasts. He doesn’t think they were dishonest or inflated - they were simply wrong. Why? He offers a variety of meteorological reasons that have nothing to do with Al Gore and everything to do with luck and the unpredictability of weather.

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Thursday, November 08, 2007

From where I am back to where I began...

ASU students amid 21-day prayer marathon
Many students on campuses nationwide are speaking to God, or, at the very least, hope to.

A survey of more than 112,000 incoming college students in 2004, today's seniors, by the Higher Education Research Institute at UCLA revealed that a significant number of them describe themselves as spiritual.

• 80 percent have an interest in spirituality.
• 76 percent are searching for meaning/purpose in life.
• 80 percent attended a religious service in the past year.

Jennifer Lindholm is the project director for the study and knows that college students are often portrayed as being focused entirely on getting a job or having a good time. "Our data shows they are invested in spirituality," Lindholm said. "We were, to an extent, surprised." Lindholm's study further indicated that students have no intention of putting issues of faith or spirituality aside during their college years. "They have expectations that college will help develop their personal values and their spirituality," she said.

Reasons to pray
Emily Verrelli, a 20 year-old junior, had strong religious convictions when she first arrived on the ASU campus from her home in Long Island, N.Y., as a freshman. She prayed daily and attended services regularly. "I've always prayed, but more so now,"

Verrelli said while taking a break from prayer. Verrelli believes college students may turn to prayer because of their environment. They are away from home for the first time. Some are facing new pressures and new temptations. "Today, I am praying for our campus," she said. "For people who are lost or hurt."

The patch of lawn next to the Danforth Meditation Chapel has informal stations where poster board and pens allow students to write down what they are praying for, or who they are forgiving, or Bible verses that have resonance for them. There is no particular agenda. It is, instead, prayer for the sake of prayer.

The people who come are absolutely college students. They sometimes stop in midprayer and text-message or shout a hello to a passing friend. Some arrive on skateboards, others have tattoos and piercings. They know their public act of faith may result in people looking at them as different, but they are fine with that. "We pray for the big things, but sometimes, we pray for the small things," Slate Stout, 21, said one night during the 9-to-10 shift he had signed up for.

"It's just a bunch of people hungry for God."

This article is poignant for me because the stuff about students interest in spiritual things is right on. It explains where I’ve been from a few feet from where it all began for me. I shared my faith publicly for the first time in the fall of 1987 at the fountain at ASU, just feet from Danforth chapel. Everything changed for me after that. Now I’m in Boston working with some of the smartest, most skeptical and spiritually interested students in the world. And, I love it.

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Chock full of Biblical Goodness
This weblog documents the development of including announcements of forthcoming material and links to other interesting material I come across.

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More than a 1000 Words

Compassionate Conservatism

Chronic Homelessness Takes Dip in 2005
WASHINGTON (AP) - The number of people who are chronically homeless dropped by nearly 12 percent from 2005 to 2006, according to government estimates being released Wednesday.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development credited government programs designed to move homeless people into permanent housing.

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Journalism 2.0 -
Michael Yon emails: "I photographed men and women, both Christians and Muslims, placing a cross atop the St. John's Church in Baghdad. They had taken the cross from storage and a man washed it before carrying it up to the dome. A Muslim man had invited the American soldiers from 'Chosen' Company 2-12 Cavalry to the church, where I videotaped as Muslims and Christians worked and rejoiced at the reopening of St John's, an occasion all viewed as a sign of hope. The Iraqis asked me to convey a message of thanks to the American people. 'Thank you, thank you,' the people were saying. One man said, 'Thank you for peace.' Another man, a Muslim, said 'All the people, all the people in Iraq, Muslim and Christian, is brother.' The men and women were holding bells, and for the first time in memory freedom rang over the ravaged land between two rivers.

Go here to see the picture of the year.

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Self Esteem

YouTube massacre: Schoolboy gunman posts threat on the internet then kills eight | the Daily Mail
He adds: "I am the law, judge and executioner. There is no higher authority than me."

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Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Lars and the Real Girl (2007)

Lars and the Real Girl (2007)

A poignant film about kindness, emotional process and healing. It has fascinating layers about idolatry, intimacy and community. I immediately wanted to watch it again. It illustrates a phrase that my wife and I have developed to explain what we believe is true about many of us: Most people have emotional time bombs in our hearts, usually from our youth, that don't go off until we are adults physically; and signify the need to grow further as adults emotionally.

It's hard to call this a comedy though I laughed out loud often. It's lifelike in it's mixture of mirth and tragedy. I will treasure this movie for the duration.

My Rating: Own It

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Sunday, November 04, 2007

The UN: The Gold Standard for Corruption and Scandal

As if the largest financial scandal in human history isn't enough, there's sexual abuse of minors... -
If American troops had the kind of sex-scandal track record that U.N. peacekeepers do, we'd never hear the end of it. Since it's the U.N., though, we barely hear the beginning.

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Thursday, November 01, 2007

Two Lessons in One Item

OpinionJournal - Best of the Web Today
From Here to Eternity One of the ways in which the media bolster their anti-Iraq narrative is by maximizing the number of U.S. casualties. The figures you hear for the number of deaths--currently approaching 4,000--almost always include noncombat deaths. Roughly 20% of "Iraq war" deaths are from illness, accident, suicide or other "nonhostile" causes. By this standard, of course, every serviceman in Iraq is doomed, and so are the rest of us. Even for those who perish in combat, war is only the proximate cause of death. A striking example of "Iraq war" deaths that weren't appeared last week in the New York Times:

The Department of Defense has identified 3,825 American service members who have died since the start of the Iraq war. It confirmed the deaths of the following Americans on Tuesday: CAMACHO, Anamarie Sannicolas, 20, Seaman, Navy; Panama City, Fla.; Naval Support Activity. GRESHAM, Genesia Mattril, 19, Seaman, Navy; Lithonia, Ga.; Naval Support Activity.

The San Francisco Chronicle published news of Camacho's and Gresham's deaths under the headline "U.S. Toll in Iraq," and the text said they had died "in Iraq." This is false, as the Chronicle's own Web site confirms. The paper has a database with details of all the deaths "in Iraq," and both Camacho's and Gresham's entries show that they "died Oct. 22 in Bahrain during a non-combat related incident." (Nonetheless, the heading on the Chronicle's database pages reads "Portraits of Sacrifice: U.S. Casualties in Iraq.") To find out how they died, we turn to the Gulf Daily News, an English-language Bahraini paper:

Anamarie Sannicolas Camacho, 20, and her colleague Genesia Mattril Gresham, 19, were shot dead at the Naval Support Activity Base, Juffair, at around 5am on October 22. Their alleged killer, fellow serviceman Clarence Jackson, 20, is still clinging to life after apparently shooting himself in the head immediately after the murders. He is now at the National Naval Medical Centre in Bethesda, Maryland, US, after being transferred to the US from a specialist hospital in Germany. . . . [Camacho's mother, Jovie] Paulino, who served in the US Air Force for six years, is also angry at the way the navy have handled the shooting. "I had entrusted my daughter to the navy when she joined and this is what has happened, I just don't understand," she said. "I was in the military and right now I feel so angry and disappointed. She put her life on the line for our freedom and the only thing they should do (in return) is protect her." Her comments echo that of Ms Gresham's mother Anita, who earlier blamed officials for leaving her daughter exposed to danger from a man she said turned nasty when she tried to cool their "casual" relationship. Ms Gresham revealed Jackson had a restraining order against him and had been on suicide watch, after he allegedly attacked Miss Gresham less than four months ago. She was also angry that Jackson was allowed to carry a gun after his alleged attack on her daughter and that officials were not telling her what happened in the run-up to the killings.

If Jackson dies of his wounds, will the Times and the Chronicle list him as another casualty of the "Iraq war" rather than of his own twisted rage? The incident does illustrate an uncomfortable truth: that romantic entanglements can be harmful to military discipline. This is why servicemen can be prosecuted for adultery, and it is one reason that the military excludes open homosexuals and restricts the roles in which women may serve. This was a horrific and senseless crime. Imagine how disruptive it would have been in a combat unit.

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