Sunday, April 26, 2009

Why has personal fund raising worked for more than 50 years?

United Way's New Way - "United Way also got blindsided by a changing charity world. The number of nonprofits soared, rising 40% in a decade to 1.8 million and vying for money. Many had a single-issue focus--a specific disease like juvenile diabetes or a narrow cause like open-space preservation--that created close donor identification, loyalty and wallet-opening. Some donors found United Way’s broad funding too defuse."

Non-Profit Organization?

Where Most Needed: Breaking Ranks with the Chronicle 400: "So again this year, the Chronicle has chosen to aggregate the 1,326 United Way chapters as a single organization, making United Way appear to be the largest recipient of private donations. The Chronicle claims justification for lumping together these fiercely autonomous local United Way campaigns because the national United Way has adopted some financial standards. Yet the Chronicle itself notes that less than half of the chapters have adopted the current fundraising strategy advocated by the national office. It's not the monolithic structure they would have us believe."
Is the United Way one organization or a federation of small non-profit groups?

College Students and Social Media

True or False?

College students are at the forefront of social media because of the combination of their disconnection from childhood relationships, the need for new community, social freedom, and large amounts of free time.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Are We in a Narcissism Epidemic? No, we're in an idolatry epidemic.

Are We in a Narcissism Epidemic? | Newsweek Culture | "But no matter how you were raised, the handiest cure for narcissism used to be life. Whether through fate, circumstances or moral imperative, our culture kept hubris in check. Now, we encourage it. Pastors preach of a Jesus that wants us to be rich."

This is from an article on a new book by Jean Twenge and W. Keith Campbell called "The Narcissism Epidemic," released last week.

I haven't read the book but the article makes no mention of God or religion save the quotation above. So, let me say that "the handiest cure for narcissism used to be" religion. Or more specifically Monotheism. "God is God and you are not" is a handy cure for narcissism.

The Newsweek article submits this as evidence of our culture encouraging narcissism: "Pastors preach of a Jesus who wants us to be rich."

Hmm. Religious leaders have always done this since Jesus walked dusty streets of Jerusalem. Most of Jesus' first hearers thought he would make them all rich and prosperous by becoming King and throwing out the wicked Romans. So, there was narcissism in the Jesus' day. Fascinating. One of Jesus' closest friends and disciples, Simon Peter, tried to tell Jesus to stop talking about giving his life for others and Jesus told him to put a cork in it (here and here). It's hard to stay a narcissist when you follow Jesus.

The article has no mention of pastors who preach that when you stop worshiping the Triune God you necessarily begin to worship an idol and that all idolatry is a form of self-worship. You can find those pastors here, here and here. Why no mention of these? It's not like these churches are in a corner somewhere either. In fact I think Tim Keller has been featured in Newsweek.

So why not mention pastors of nationally prominent churches who attract young people by preaching against narcissism? As I mentioned here: "blogging (long form tweeting) fear, loathing, and high-handedness..." about X "...sells more books and blog ads than blogging about the balance between narcissism and self expression in general, which is as old as Job's laments."

If this generation is more narcissistic, it is because it is the least religious generation. But even as I write those words I suspect them as overstatement. Narcissism is the binary alternative to worship of the the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. It always has been and always will. In this sense I am as big a narcissist as Simon Peter and Abraham. God help me.

A Christian and Twitter: Narcissism?

As much as I hate to wade into this (I wish I had more time), I think it might be an important larger discussion about the virtues and vices of technology.

I'm going to try to limit my comments to my own opinions as an individual Christian. I don't purport to speak for all Christians, particularly because these matters involve new technologies and somewhat novel circumstances. As I explained to my son after watching the movie Valkyrie, I have more access to and transmission power of information in the phone on my hip than most humans have experienced in human history.

Over at Between Two Worlds I read, was sent and then commented on a post affirming Twitter as a cause and vehicle for narcissism. The post also equates social networking more generally with narcissism and nihilism.

As I commented there: Twitter as a technology, is no more or less narcissistic than the printing press. One must have a certain sense of confidence to publish any opinion widely. Is this narcissism or the necessary self-confidence to assert an opinion? If it's narcissism, then all who publish, via press, blog or Twitter are narcissists.

Who is a bigger "narcissist" than Luther? How dare he publish his private opinions to rival the Magisterium! This is an old criticism of Protestantism; not of it's content but of it's temerity.

Or how about Augustine's Confession. Isn't it like unto a giant tweet of personal feelings and experience. Does anyone really care that Augustine was a thief in his youth? Apparently, yes, his "narcissism" notwithstanding.

The medium certainly affects the message but the medium is only as self-centered or self-expressive as the messenger. Twitter is more indicative of culture than prescriptive. If Twitter actually is narcissistic, it is because those who use it already are. But blogging (long form tweeting) fear, loathing, and high-handedness about new technology sells more books and blog ads than blogging about the balance between narcissism and self expression in general, which is as old as Job's laments.

Twitter being simply a tool for communication cannot be narcissistic per se. It's ironic that Christians struggle to see the link between communications innovations of today and key elements of Christian history. I already mentioned the printing press, not to mention the written word in general. You'd think Christians would vilify the telephone more than Twitter since we value the written word. I'm sad to say that when the telephone was invented and first widely used there were probably Christians who decried the vanity of the spoken word and it's effect on society. Imagine:
"What are all those people talking about? Their hair? Their pets? What they had for breakfast? Rubbish! What narcissists!"
Sound familiar?

When your Mom calls and asks what's been going on today, do you stop and think: I don't want to be a narcissist so I better not say anything. Of course not. You disclose your life to people who care.

If you only heard one side of my phone calls you might assume I'm a narcissist because I'm always talking. But your assumption ignores the person on the other end. If you think my tweets are narcissistic, then why do you follow me? How can it be narcissistic if you have to choose to listen in. If you care enough to choose to listen, then it can't be all about me.

I'm on Twitter to stay connected to my office mates when we are out of the office. If you think that is a shallow substitute for real intimacy, watch this and stop talking to your friends on the phone; only talk to them in person so you won't be shallow.

I also get instant updates from the Boston Police while I work downtown. And, at times, I listen to real time conversation about real time events using things like Twitterfall and Twitter Search. For example, right now I'm "listening" to the Swine Flu story break across the globe. I just checked CNN on the web at 12:55 AM and there's a small mention of the flue at the bottom under World headlines. I'll bet it will be a bigger story by noon.

It's ironic that I've spent this much time writing about whether Twitter is narcissistic and I primarily use it to listen. You get the picture.

I'm hoping my next post will be - A Christian and Twitter: Brevity?

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Free Music: Heart-Shaped Box

The Autumn Film : "For this Giveaway, we followed Tifah into her living room and recorded her as she sang some new material, playing on her old upright. It’s an intimate glimpse into the songwriting process."

Monday, April 20, 2009

Susan Boyle YouTube Video: 100 Million Hits

Epicenter from "Susan Boyle's Britain's Got Talent video is on track to become the most popular video in the history of YouTube, amassing nearly 100 million views in its first nine days and earning the producers of the program a serendipitous, potential windfall that should already be in the millions."

Thursday, April 16, 2009


John Madden retires from broadcasting - NFL- "NBC Sports Chairman Dick Ebersol announced today that John Madden, Hall of Fame coach and the most honored broadcaster in sports television history, has decided to retire from broadcasting.

Madden issued the following statement today:

'It’s time. I’m 73 years old. My 50th wedding anniversary is this fall. I have two great sons and their families and my five grandchildren are at an age now when they know when I’m home and, more importantly, when I’m not…"

Monday, April 13, 2009

Dungy and Donald Miller on Obama's Team

TAPPED Archive | The American Prospect: "Although there has not yet been an official announcement, word is leaking out about who else President Obama has selected to fill the remaining 10 seats on his Advisory Council for the Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. So far, we know that Christian author and hero to under-35 evangelicals Donald Miller has been tapped for one spot. U.S. News and World Report says that former Indianapolis Colts coach Tony Dungy has been slated for another spot."

In-N-Out Burger: Professionalizing Fast-Food - BusinessWeek

BusinessWeek: "But on issues of quality, Rich remained his father's son. In 1984, in Baldwin Park, Calif., he set up In-N-Out University, a training facility, with the aim of filling the pipeline with qualified managers and reinforcing the company's focus on quality, cleanliness, and service. About 80% of In-N-Out's store managers started at the very bottom, picking up trash before rising through the ranks. Rich realized that if he wanted to expand, he needed to put a system in place that would professionalize management.

To attend In-N-Out University, an associate usually had to have worked full-time at a store for a year. In that time, she had to demonstrate initiative, strong decision-making ability, and impressive people skills. A cornerstone of In-N-Out's limited growth strategy was to expand only as quickly as the management roster would allow. At the university Rich came up with a number of ideas to hone the training process. For instance, a team of field specialists was deployed to motivate and instruct associates. Inspired by pro sports teams, Rich began producing a series of training films and videotaped trainees to critique their performance.

Although the work could be dreary—imagine a four-hour shift spent cleaning up spilled milk shakes—associates were made to feel part of an important enterprise and given opportunities to advance. On-the-job training was wedged in between mealtime rushes, and everyone was given large helpings of feedback. Rich wanted each associate to understand his job and how he could do it better. The result was that many part-timers came for a summer job and stayed for a career. "

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Giant Chee-to spurs online frenzy - Mar. 7, 2003 - Mar. 7, 2003: "It's believed to be the largest Chee-to in the world. The cheesy glob of fried cornmeal that Navy Petty Officer Mike Evans found last week in a bag of the snacks is about the size of a small lemon and weighs in at about half an ounce."


Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Google Earth's flying tour bus

Google LatLong: Google Earth's flying tour bus: "I've been working on the new feature for Google Earth 5.0 which makes it easy for you to record and share your stories with others. It's called Touring, and with it you can create guided, narrated flights around Google Earth. Think of it like a flying tour bus. Just like a tour bus, you can look around while you travel, you can have narration explaining what you're looking at, and you can get off the bus to wander around. Even better, you don't need roads and you never have to worry about being left behind!"

I need to do some of this.

Pace of Cell Phones

Sent to my by Dave Dishman:

Interesting Stuff