Stuff That Matters


Income Inequality vs Social Well-being

From naked capitalism

"If you look at broader indicators of social well being, you see the same finding: greater income inequality is associated with worse outcomes. From a presentation by Kate Pickett, Senior lecturer at the University of York and author of The Spirit Level, at the INET conference in April


Umm... This presentation deck is unreal. If this data is sound, it is extremely provocative. Here are some snapshots.

PreviewScreenSnapz001.png PreviewScreenSnapz002.png PreviewScreenSnapz003.png

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I call BS on slide 1. Japan, the country responsible for 90% of the weird things humanity has created, has the lowest rate of mental illness?

I bet it has a lot to do with how willing the people of each culture will go to a psychologist and how willing the psychologist is to diagnose the patient with something.

Posted by: George at June 17, 2010 4:47 PM

I am pro-life and voting for Obama


I am adamantly pro-life. There is no other issue with which I align more closely to the traditional conservative platform than this one. I also like to think I am completely pro-life. To the point of almost being a pacifist. I don't think war, nuclear weapons, or poverty should be treated differently than abortion when it comes to pro-life thinking.

My foundation for pro-life thinking comes from my relationship with Christ, who I believe had the most radical and high-level understanding of being pro-life when he died on the cross to give us all life.

How then can I support Obama who is clearly pro-choice? Because I don't think the issue is pro-choice vs. pro-life. No one wants more abortions. The argument is not about whether abortion is good or bad. Abortion is bad and really no rational person disagrees. What rational people disagree on is what steps should be taken to prevent abortion. We argue about whether the steps to stop abortion are as bad or worse than abortion itself.

My personal opinion is that abortion should never be legal. Nonetheless I am voting for Obama because I don't think the fact that he is pro-choice is incompatible with being pro-life. Case in point, Clinton presided over one of the largest drops in abortions since abortions peaked after Roe vs Wade.

I put together the graph above to demonstrate that a president's stated pro-life/ pro-choice position has little impact on the number of abortions that are performed. So I extrapolate that voting against Obama on just the single issue of abortion is misguided when I agree with where he wants to take the country on other issues.

A good place to go to find the graphs and data underlying the composition above is the National Right to Life's statistics site located here.

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Credit Card Offers Galore

wallet contents
Photo courtesy of birdy93

Totally crazy factoid from a Time article:

"52% of households making less than $50,000 received at least one credit card offer in the second quarter."

And believe it or not this is down from the first quarter where the number was 66%. A nation addicted to credit.

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Ryan Hall

Ryan Hall

Nate pointed me to a great article on a Christian named Ryan Hall who hails from Big Bear (just outside of Los Angeles) and recently ran the men's marathon in the Beijing Olympics.

The pre-Olympics Runner's World article is here, his post Olympic blog entry is here.

A great quote from the first article was the following:

"Surely our feelings regarding athletes who choose to bring their faith to the field reflect the state of our own souls"

The last line of the article was also great, but that would spoil the article. ;)

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Props to Dr. Jonah Kule

Flickr Image
Photo courtesy of amalthya

Shout out for Dr. Kule whose faith took him from Uganda to medical school and back to Uganda where he died of Ebola while responding to the Ebola outbreak on 12/4/2008.

Plentiful Harvest: A Tribute to Dr. Jonah Kule - World Harvest Mission

" In a place where most young doctors would consider a medical degree their ticket out, Jonah saw an opportunity to make a difference. At a time when most men would be afraid of a mysterious, life-threatening illness, Jonah moved toward the danger to care for those he loved.

Dr. Jonah Kule died from the Ebola virus on December 4, but he had given up his life long before that—to his Savior, Jesus, and to the calling He described in John 12, “I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat is planted in the soil and dies, it remains alone. But its death will produce many new kernels—a plentiful harvest of new lives. Those who love their life in this world will lose it. Those who care nothing for their life in this world will keep it for eternity.” (John 12:24-25 NLT) "

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Agathos Video

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Posted by: Nate at January 16, 2008 4:12 AM

Goodbye Aunt Nancy


In a few hours they are going to remove life support from my Aunt Nancy.

So long Aunt Nancy. I wish you were around longer. We always called you "Fun Aunt Nancy" because you were. You were into so many cool things and always made us laugh. Thanks for the trips to the fair and the flea market. Thanks for all the Christmas gifts even if the gift exchange drove you crazy. Thanks for the recipes and the whale watching trips. Thanks for making Falmouth fun and for working at Paul's. Thanks for depression glass and wall sconces, for the button making business and Cape Cod Bagels. Thanks for the Star Wars DVD and taking us to the Halloween parade. It is going to be a different place with you gone.

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At 83 years old Jimmy Carter is taking on the warlords

Flickr Image
Photo courtesy of sunrise100(deuce)

I hope when i'm 83 years old I have 1% of the intestinal fortitude and impact that Jimmy Carter has. What an awesome role model.

Carter in Darfur shouting match -

The former U.S. president instead flew to a World Food Program compound in Kabkabiya, where he was supposed to meet with local community members including some ethnic African refugees, many of whom were chased from their homes by pro-government janjaweed and Sudanese government forces.

But as the meeting was set to get under way, none of the nongovernment refugee representatives arrived, and Carter decided to walk out into the town to try to talk with them.

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It's hard to know who your friends are....

Flickr Image
Photo courtesy of jonnyphoto's in Scotland!

So this morning as I'm walking out to catch the bus I find that someone has spelled out "FAG" on my front step. Probably they did it because I've got a rainbow colored wind-sock hanging outside my door. Not to make any point, but because it was colorful and interesting in a world of sand, cappucino, and taupe-colored townhomes.

This is so incredibly bizarre and troubling that I don't know how to respond. Should I be scared? Should I laugh? The only reaction I could come up with was to quietly ask my wife to come out and see it (quietly so my kids didn't know what had happened), wipe it away and then kiss her goodbye as I left for work. Oh, also it was written in mini-marshmallows.

So it's kind of weird that I might be a victim of a homosexual hate crime at some point in the future. Someone who obviously doesn't know me very well, hurting me or my family because of some pretty drastic assumptions.

Then, of course, there is the other side. This behavior only makes me have more compassion for homosexuals, who regardless of the morality of the issue, have a right to live free of this kind of threat. After all it is exactly terrorism to anonymously threaten someone, not involved in a conflict, whom you don't know, for no particular reason other than your own insecurity.

Life would be hard to bear without a strong belief in cosmic justice and divine control.

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Freedom and Economics for Prison Inmates


My dad works closely with an organization called "Good News Jail and Prison Ministry". It is an organization that supplies Christian chaplains to jails and prisons in the U.S. and internationally.

My dad also recently sold his day-to-day business, D.P. Associations and is now deciding how to spend his time. His recent idea is to start a vending machine business to both fund the chaplains through GNJPM as well as to provide job opportunities for the inmates that are coming out of jail. Running a vending machine is not rocket science, but it does make money. Kind of the bottom line for what inmates in transition need.

Anyway, my valuable input to this whole affair is to brand the vending machines as "Snack Prison: bars behind bars" and encourage hungry customers to set their candy and chips free!

If I can provide any help to any other valuable endeavors please feel free to call my agent.

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Bren Hall Brick Campaign


In a previous blog entry I wrote about participating in a fund-raising campaign for the new Bren Hall which was dedicated yesterday. By giving a donation to the school, you get to etch a brick with a message that is placed in the walkway outside the school. On the left is the brick that I bought. Yes, there is a typo in the word "light" and they are working on that, but I'm happy to see my input engraved in the walk.

As I said in my previous blog entry:

"It is a portion of an old hymn (~1889), which I love, called "We Have Not Known Thee As We Ought". The lyrics are thoughtful and compelling. When I read it, I think about God's revelation to humans: "Specific" revelation through the Bible and "General" revelation through creation. Understanding general revelation is the whole goal of science. So when I hear this song, it reads to me like a scientist who is crying out to God for forgiveness for not pursing the knowledge that he should have, for wasting the talents and abilities that God has given him or her, and for not taking the job of scientist seriously enough."

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AIDS test

Click to test your knowledge of the impact of AIDS

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Some tragedies are more equal than others


The attack at Virginia Tech this week was horrible. I feel it more acutely than a random person since I grew up in Virginia. My brother, my sister-in-law, and many of my friends and neighbors are part of the Virginia Tech family. It is a tragedy to be sure. I can't imagine how I would cope with losing a friend or family member this way.

The reason why this is a tragedy is because the men and women who were killed are image-bearers of Christ. They were created to reflect his glory. The killed were not able to do that for as long as they possibly could have. From a human perspective we have a sense that there could have been more for them. We know the pain that their loss will entail. God's glory through his creation could have been more. For the killer we struggle to understand why his life was not redeemed and if we failed in being part of his redemption in Christ. Our failure, personal and corporate, cause us to worry that we have fallen short.

The President and the media have suggested that no one deserved this. This is true in the sense that the victims weren't threatening the killer or doing anything remarkable that day. That message is politically appropriate and in the short run a psychological salve, but as we try and make sense of big-E evil and our place among the tragedy, I believe that it's wrong. We all deserve this. We deserve it because of our failures and because we have fallen short. From the Godly perspective of perfection, we fail and in that failure we affront God. Justice demands that there be compensation. We should daily be living a life of repentance and joy because by God's grace we are not going through pain like this all the time and we have another day to be part of the redemption of our world.

Finally I can't help but comment on the hypocrisy of America. Where is the outpouring of sympathy for the moms and children, dads and professors, athletes, engineers, and soldiers who were killed in Baghdad today? 4 times as many -just today - as if the absolute numbers matter. If people are image bearers of Christ, then being killed is no less tragic when you are Iraqi than when you are an American. Lives, just as valuable, were cut short in Iraq today as well. God's creation in Iraq was destroyed without realizing the potential that other equal lives do. It is appropriate to mourn the tragedy at VA Tech. When will we also lower the flag to half-staff for all the people whose lives are cut short? Especially when, unlike VA Tech, the threat is clear, unlike VA Tech, we have clearly decided it is our problem, and when, unlike VA Tech, it is much less clear whether or not we deserve the burden of shouldering the pain.


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Global Warming

Flickr Image
Photo courtesy of felice9992000

I am no expert on global warming, but it appears to be clear from the evidence that I've seen that the planet is getting hotter. For a good review of the data watch "An Inconvenient Truth" which I just saw this weekend. Although it is clear that the temperature of the earth is increasing, one thing that I remained unconvinced of is the role of humans in that process. The movie, as far as I noticed, only claimed that population was increasing in a way that seemed to match temperature increases. Correlation, however, is not causation. Anyway I haven't decided on the role of humans in global warming yet. The article below makes the point that at least a part of the warming is being caused by increasing temperatures on the sun. Regardless of the cause however, we have a vital interest in decreasing global warming. How we go about that though may depend a lot of the causes.

BBC NEWS | Science/Nature | Sunspots reaching 1,000-year high

"A new analysis shows that the Sun is more active now than it has been at anytime in the previous 1,000 years.

Scientists based at the Institute for Astronomy in Zurich used ice cores from Greenland to construct a picture of our star's activity in the past.

They say that over the last century the number of sunspots rose at the same time that the Earth's climate became steadily warmer.

This trend is being amplified by gases from fossil fuel burning, they argue."

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God in the Genome

Flickr Image
Photo courtesy of ::sarmax::

An encouraging article for us scientist-believers:

Collins: Why this scientist believes in God -

"I have found there is a wonderful harmony in the complementary truths of science and faith. The God of the Bible is also the God of the genome. God can be found in the cathedral or in the laboratory. By investigating God's majestic and awesome creation, science can actually be a means of worship."

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Newt Gingrich

From: LAist: Somebody Buy Newt Gingrich a Dictionary!

"I have to wonder, how much duplicity are conservative Christians willing to swallow for the sake of political expediency? What will it take before they catch on that most of the politicians who proclaim themselves to be arbiters of morality are the rankest hypocrites who whitewash to their sins while gleefully manipulating gullible voters? "

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Rules to Grow Rich By


Money magazine online has a great list of "Rules to grow rich by". They are really great ones that I completely support. At the same time it's clear that very few people are following these rules.

Click on the image on the left to go there.

Thanks Nate!

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Many (all?) of these are seemingly no-brainers. Makes you wonder why they are not practiced more...

Posted by: Nate at February 9, 2007 3:17 AM

Praise the Source of Faith and Learning

Flickr Image
Photo courtesy of photoplasia

Praise the Source of Faith and Learning

Thomas H. Troeger

Praise the source of faith and learning who has sparked and stoked the mind with a passion for discerning how the world has been designed. Let the sense of wonder flowing from the wonders we survey keep our faith forever growing and renew our need to pray:

God of wisdom, we acknowledge that our science and our art and the breadth of human knowledge only partial truth impart. Far beyond our calculation lies a depth we cannot sound where your purpose for creation and the pulse of life are found.

May our faith redeem the blinder of believing that our thought has displaced the grounds for wonder which the ancient prophets taught. May our learning curb the error which unthinking faith can breed lest we justify some terror with the antiquated creed.

As two currents in a river fight each other's undertow till converging they deliver one coherent steady flow, may we blend our faith and learning till they carve a single course and our seeking and our yearning join in praising you their source:

Praise for minds to probe the heavens, praise for strength to breathe the air, praise for all the beauty leavens, praise for silence, music, prayer, praise for justice and compassion and for strangers, neighbors, friends, praise for hearts and lips to fashion, praise for love that never ends.


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Noelle Hermes


The OC Register put together a nice slide show with audio about some good friends of ours, the Hermes, whose daughter has a really lame skin disease.

Click on the image on the left to see it.

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Evangelical Diversity Article in the Washington Post

Photo courtesy of carf

A thoughtful article about the diversity of perspectives in the Evangelical Christian camp. I think this is important because the religious media czars are all a lot of people ever see, but there is a lot more out there.

Let's Stop Stereotyping Evangelicals

"Whether or not that's true, these evangelicals -- Bible-believing and socially conservative -- are redefining social justice. They're mindful of the material conditions that breed poverty and despair, but they emphasize spiritual rebirth. Though willing to partner with government agencies, they prefer to work at the grass roots, one family at a time.

Thanks Nate!

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An unnamed Department of Labor employee sent me this factoid by email:

"To the stereotyping evangelicals entry... To illustrate the last couple lines, FEMA (I think and if not, some other org. down there), has said that churches have been by far the most beneficial and effective, in all aspects of the Katrina recovery project. Too bad that doesn't go any further than the parishes in which they were/are working."

Posted by: DJP3 at November 15, 2006 8:20 AM

Risk of Death

Driving off the road: 254,419
Falling: 146,542
Accidental poisoning: 140,327

From:Wired News: One Million Ways to Die

"Comparing official mortality data with the number of Americans who have been killed inside the United States by terrorism since the 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma reveals that scores of threats are far more likely to kill an American than any terrorist -- at least, statistically speaking.

In fact, your appendix is more likely to kill you than al-Qaida is.

With that in mind, here's a handy ranking of the various dangers confronting America, based on the number of mortalities in each category throughout the 11-year period spanning 1995 through 2005 (extrapolated from best available data).

Dying from work: 59,730
Walking down the street: 52,000.
Accidentally drowning: 38,302
Killed by the flu: 19,415
Dying from a hernia: 16,742
Accidental firing of a gun: 8,536
Electrocution: 5,171
Being shot by law enforcement: 3,949
Terrorism: 3147
Carbon monoxide in products: 1,554

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I don't understand this one. Where does alcohol and tobacco come into play. Does alcohol have to do with the first three items? And it seems as if they placed tobacco down as the very last thing. Unless they consider tobacoo not the reason for dying. Unless cancer becomes the reason for dying and not tobacco, I don't see how it could not be higher. Smoking, I believe, causes more deaths than they talked about here.

Posted by: Growly-Pants at April 23, 2007 6:58 PM

Models: Scratch to Finish


This is a link to an awesome movie that shows how a person becomes a model. It has very little to do with beauty and everything to do with makeup and photoshop. The movie is a time-lapse of the whole process.

Let's throw in a little theology just to keep it real, "Charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting [if that], but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised."

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Bren Hall Brick Campaign

brick walk

The Donald Bren School of Information and Computer Sciences is holding a fund raiser in which people can donate money to put their message on a brick in the entrance of Bren Hall. As a faculty member, I have participated in the project to show my support of the school and the new building. I donated a small brick.

The inscription that I asked to be put on the brick (3 lines at 20 characters per line) was this one:

Give us light, Thy
truth to see.Make us
wise in knowing Thee

It is a portion of an old hymn (~1889), which I love, called "We Have Not Known Thee As We Ought". The lyrics are thoughtful and compelling. When I read it, I think about God's revelation to humans: "Specific" revelation through the Bible and "General" revelation through creation. Understanding general revelation is the whole goal of science. So when I hear this song, it reads to me like a scientist who is crying out to God for forgiveness for not pursing the knowledge that he should have, for wasting the talents and abilities that God has given him or her, and for not taking the job of scientist seriously enough.

The flip side is that undertaking such a job is impossible apart from Christ. How can we be sufficient or do anything of value without Him working though us. We can't, because we must first be redeemed and we can't redeem ourselves.

Here is a sweet rendition of the song from Team Strike Force of Mars Hill Church, Seattle.

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Evangelical Environmental Network

girly bible

People respond very passionately to global warming, many see it as a political issue. I think it is more of a moral, spiritual and social justice issue. As a result I would like to promote this group,Evangelical Environmental Network. Their materials are cheesy, but the approach of "declaring Lordship of Christ over all creation," gives me hope.

"On the Care of Creation
An Evangelical Declaration on the Care of Creation
The Earth is the Lord's, and the fulness thereof - Psalm 24:1
As followers of Jesus Christ, committed to the full authority of the Scriptures, and aware of the ways we have degraded creation, we believe that biblical faith is essential to the solution of our ecological problems..."

As a final note, I would like to suggest that Christians consider what Al Gore is saying, not who is saying it.

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Net Neutrality is freaking me out

Tim Berners=Lee

Tim Berners-Lee weighs in on net neutrality:

Net Neutrality: This is serious | Decentralized Information Group (DIG) Breadcrumbs

Net neutrality is this:

If I pay to connect to the Net with a certain quality of service, and you pay to connect with that or greater quality of service, then we can communicate at that level.

That's all. Its up to the ISPs to make sure they interoperate so that that happens.

Net Neutrality is NOT asking for the internet for free.

Net Neutrality is NOT saying that one shouldn't pay more money for high quality of service. We always have, and we always will.

The thing that freaks *me* out is that you will never know if your traffic is being discriminated against. This is going to end up like frequent-flyer miles and credit card rebates and grocery store cards. Really complicated stupid rebate programs that are supposed to make you loyal to a company but just make the cost of business more expensive and complicating all decisions involving the product which ends up hurting people that don't have time or the intelligence to figure it all out. I mean who really thinks grocery cards were invented to save you money?

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Why is this a big deal?

If there is not a guarantee of net neutrality, then AT&T can tell Google that they will get traffic at 50% the rate that Microsoft Search gets traffic unless they pay AT&T a "premium traffic fee".

Alternatively, Comcast can charge consumers tiered Internet access plans like they do with cable. You can surf CNN for $10.00 a month. You can surf premium tier 2 which includes ESPN and for $15.00. If you want unlimited access to all websites, then it will cost $30.00 a month. But even if you pay $30.00 a month, it's not clear that all sites will be as fast as others because of the first point above.

It's just a bad road to go down. It makes everything better for the network companies because it confuses the consumers into paying more money.

Similarly, regarding grocery store prices: It is clear that grocery stores charge their "free-market" prices to people with cards. The non-card prices are artificially inflated to punish people who don't go along with their card program. The card program allows them to track your shopping across multiple stores in their chain and possibly across different chains (e.g., Giant plus ACE hardware) The result is that the grocery stores end up offering different prices to different people. They do this by sending coupons to some customers and not to others and by giving "cash-back" bonuses to some customers and not to others. It erodes a free-market exchange of goods. It would be the same thing as Amazon offering different prices to different people by presenting different web pages to them. The bottom line is that it puts huge amounts of market power in the hands of the companies who leverage it to get more money from consumers (you). There is no corresponding capability for the consumers to push back to get the market back in line with an efficient exchange.

Posted by: DJP3 at June 26, 2006 9:32 AM

Pat Robertson in the News Update

Time Magazine Cover
Time Magazine Cover from 1986

I wish Pat Robertson didn't command so much of the world's representation of Christianity. Here is my running list of some recent CNN headlines that he's been involved with:

Pat Robertson claims to outlift linebackers -- This is apparently an attempt to crossover from his religious base to the diet product market. This press release is closely tied to his new product "Pat's Diet Shake".

Robertson suggests God smote Sharon - After Sharon has a stroke.

Robertson: U.S. should assassinate Venezuela's Chavez - after Hugo Chavez takes control of Venezula

Pat Robertson's 'nuke' idea draws protest - after Robertson suggests blowing up the State Department (the U.S. State Department) with a nuclear bomb.

No casualties? White House disputes Robertson comment - After Robertson says that President Bush said there would be no casualties in Iraq.

It kind of all goes back to Noam Chomsky's observation that news has to be boiled down to extreme positions that are easily digested and categorized so that there is time for commercials and the products are viewed favorably because all the issues are neatly tied up before the break. Robertson is a perfect source of sound bites to make the issues appear easy. The funny thing is that what ends up happening is that the "issue" that is easy to understand is that Christians are nut-cases, their responses are idiotic, so let's dismiss them and Christ from the public square. I like Jim Wallis more than Pat Robertson. Unfortunately for prime time, though, he doesn't distill his comments into two minute chunks.

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National Success isn't free

kids drawing with chalk
Photo courtesy of Darin and Sharri

I need to rant this morning. After coming back from Ireland earlier this month I noticed a remarkable trend that I haven't seen in trips as recent as 3 years ago. The number of things that you couldn't do overseas has dropped drastically. Not only has the stuff of a typical American life arrived overseas, but better stuff is starting to show up there first. Here are some trivial but telling examples:
*) In Dublin I could get really good coffee from a number of chains all over the city. I had never heard of a single one of the stores and there was no Starbucks in sight.
*) In 5 minutes I was able to get a local cell phone account without having to sign a contract or get a new phone.
*) The hotels all had Wi-Fi from a carrier that was all over the city. So when I bought a subscription at my hotel I could use it throughout the day.
*) My colleagues were getting on a $15.00 flight back home to England (total cost).
*)The local music scene was everywhere and better quality at lower cost. AC/DC covers, traditional Irish fiddle, a random Irish harp, music in every restaurant.

The point of this is just a wake-up call inspired by a gut intuition that the U.S. is losing it's edge and it's starting to be noticeable in business, in technology and in culture. I care because I have a stake in the U.S.'s success - I live here, I am employed here, I enjoy the successes of my country. I am also involved in educating the next generation and I'm not sure that they understand that 4 billion people want their job, their lifestyle, their education, their culture and their stuff.

Here is a post that underscores my point:

723 The Creativity Imperative: A National Perspective
" At one of our recent meetings, John Young, the founder of the Council on Competitiveness and former CEO of Hewlett Packard, explained, "Our standard of living is not a birthright. We have to earn it in the marketplace every day." Today the United States has the highest standard of living in the world. The flip side of this is that we also have very high labor costs compared to other countries. We will never be able to compete directly with countries like China and India on the basis of cost, and, as low-wage nations around the world develop skilled workforces and adopt cutting-edge technology, we can no longer assume that we will win on quality either. "

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Huzzah! Huzzah! Think a general attitude of dependency has been caused by a reliance on foreign agencies? Foreign, as in not personal creativity, hard work and ambition...

Posted by: Nate at May 26, 2006 4:23 AM

Christian Coalition weighs in on Net Neutrality

cross power
Photo courtesy of sillykitty

It sure is encouraging when I see Christians thinking through issues and then standing up for interests that go against the dominate power (and it helps if I agree with the position). In this press release, the Christian Coalition of America defends the concept of net nuetrality. This generally means the policy that internet service providers and network carriers (like AT&T) shouldn't discriminate against certain types of Internet communication. If they did, they could charge you more to get to Google, or make Google requests very slow, because Yahoo! paid AT&T for the right to have faster connections.

Christian Coalition Announces Support for 'Net Neutrality' to Prevent Giant Phone and Cable Companies From Discriminating Against Web Sites

"Washington D.C. -- Today, Christian Coalition of America announced its support for the effort to amend pending telecom legislation in Congress in order to prevent the large phone and cable companies from discriminating against web sites. Roberta Combs, the President of Christian Coalition of America said, "Christian Coalition is joining a broad array of organizations, representing consumers, businesses, and all ends of the political spectrum. The Coalition is committed to working on behalf of our supporters to ensure that the Internet remains the free marketplace of ideas, products and services that it is today."

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The Global Night Commute

invisible children

On April 29th, there is going to be a global solidarity movement with the night commuting children of Uganda. The idea is to generate awareness of the 130 people who die every day in Northern Uganda as part of the conflict with the Lord's Resistance Army.

"The Global Night Commute is a worldwide event organized by the Invisible Children, Inc. organization. The Night Commute which will take place on April 29th, 2006, will feature people from around the world converging on urban centers in solidarity with displaced Ugandan children attempting to avoid capture by the LRA.... The Global Night Commute will involve the trek of thousands of men, women and children from around the world into major cities where they will mimic the nightly commute of the Ugandan children by marching en masse from one point to another and sleeping in their final destination for the entire night..."

In L.A. at Santa Monica CIty Hall, details. In Long Beach, at City Hall, details In Costa Mesa, on the parking lot on the top of Triangle Square, details

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Fox News gets to the heart of the issue

fox news screen capture

Fox News asks the question we've all been considering, "Could all-out civil war in Iraq be a good thing?". It's hard hitting - it's provocative -it's news.

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Roe vs. Wade for Men

abortion protest
Photo Courtesy of rev_bri

The Anderson Cooper 360 Blog brought to my attention a very interesting development in the abortion debates. It's about a guy who is suing to not have to pay child support. Seems like a typical dead-beat dad syndrome, until you hear his rationale. If you think abortion is about a women's right-to-choose, then his argument makes a lot of sense.

" Dubay told me that he feels he was shut out. 'She was given the right to have an abortion, keep the child, put the child up for adoption, and whatever she chooses, I have to go along with....Under our laws, our constitution, that doesn't seem right to me.' "

So if a woman has the right to choose, then why does a man not get to choose whether or not he is going to pay child support? It's a great question. Why doesn't the man also get to choose. It impacts the rest of his life also.

Of course this all relies on a foundation which I reject. I believe the right to choose is made when the child is conceived and after that abortion is a horribly misguided attempt to deal with the consequences of a bad decision.

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Breathe Deep the Breath of God

Lost Dogs album cover

Breathe Deep (The Breath of God) 1996

from the album "Green Room Serenade, Part One" - THE LOST DOGS Green Room Serenade, Vol 1

Politicians, morticians, Philistines, homophobes
Skinheads, Dead heads, tax evaders, street kids
Alcoholics, workaholics, wise guys, dim wits
Blue collars, white collars, war mongers, peace nicks

Breathe deep
Breathe deep the Breath of God
Breathe deep
Breathe deep the Breath of God

Suicidals, rock idols, shut-ins, drop outs
Friendless, homeless, penniless and depressed
Presidents, residents, foreigners and aliens
Dissidents, feminists, xenophobes and chauvinists

Breathe deep
Breathe deep the Breath of God
Breathe deep
Breathe deep the Breath of God

Evolutionists, creationists, perverts, slum lords
Dead-beats, athletes, Protestants and Catholics
Housewives, neophytes, pro-choice, pro-life
Misogynists, monogamists, philanthropists, blacks and whites

Breathe deep
Breathe deep the Breath of God
Breathe deep
Breathe deep the Breath of God

Police, obese, lawyers, and government
Sex offenders, tax collectors, war vets, rejects
Atheists, Scientists, racists, sadists
Photographers, biographers, artists, pornographers

Breathe deep
Breathe deep the Breath of God
Breathe deep
Breathe deep the Breath of God

Gays and lesbians, demagogues and thespians
The disabled, preachers, doctors and teachers
Meat eaters, wife beaters, judges and juries
Long hair, no hair, everybody everywhere!

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Veteran's Monument in San Juan Capistrano


Sighted in a park at San Juan Capistrano was a monument with this inscription:

This monument is dedicated
to the valiant of the armed
forces who ventured far,
fought bravely, gave their
time for service, and for some,
gave their lives to preserve
freedom and liberty in our
land. This monument is a
testimony to the manner in
which they lived, worked,
and fought to achieve the
victories in order that America
may live and that we may
all live in freedom.

I am very impressed with this sentiment. It neither glorifies war, nor degrades the sacrifice of our veterans. It doesn't imply that America is always right, or that veterans are all valiant and noble. But it does honor those who made and continue to make sacrifices for things which are bigger than themselves.

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Copyright History Tidbit


Given all the furor on the internets about copyright (e.g., file-sharing, P2P, Google Print, Lawrence Lessig, etc.) It is interesting to note this bit of history which I came across in a certification of an old Bible:

"The King James Bible was printed exclusively in England under the king's copyright. During the British embargo, prior to and during the American Revolution, the Congress of the United States usurped the king's copyright and authorized the first English printing in the New World in 1782. From then on, America would take the lead in distribution of God's Word to the ends of the earth."

Funny how Congress, copyright, and Bibles all came together in 1782.

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Critique of Evangelical Christianity's Reponse to the African AIDS crises


Rob Smith, the founder and president of the Agathos Foundation (see earlier blog entry), has wriiten an excellent article: The AIDS Crisis in Africa - Who Cares?. This article, in a journal with which I am not familiar, the Other Journal, explores why the more evangelical an African is, the more likely they are to have AIDS.

The Agathos Foundation is a great organization. They are all Christians and as a result of their relationship with Christ they feel compelled to address the horrible AIDS crises in South Africa. Rob is from South Africa so he has both the perspective and the authority to do something about the problem.

Agathos' method of helping those who have been made orphans and widows by AIDS is to raise money to buy farms. Professional farmers then run the farms. The widows and orphans live on the farm and are cared for by the profit from the farms. At the same time, Agathos undertakes aggressive education and spiritual training to try and raise a generation of men who will break this cycle.

Some of the statistics that come from the article include:

  • The same number of people that were killed by the recent tsunami are killed every three weeks by AIDS in Africa.
  • The more evangelical an African country is the higher the rate of AIDS.
  • The countries with the highest rate of missionaries per capita have the highest rate of AIDS.
  • The more Moslem a country is the lower the rate of AIDS.
  • The more Evangelical, as opposed to Roman Catholic, the higher the rate of AIDS.

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RedBlue Project Promotes Finding a Third Way: Gay Marriage


More from the RedBlue project. Part of the reason why I think the tactic of rejecting extremes and finding a third way is so great is because it was a strategy that Jesus used. When asked whether or not his disciples should pay taxes by the religious leaders around him, Jesus was pushed into a situation of either saying "no" and alienating the Romans, or "yes" and alienating the Jews who felt that the Romans were occupiers and exploiters. Either answer would have caused him the wrong kind of trouble at the wrong time. Instead Jesus pointed out Caesar's image on the local coin and responded "Give to Caesar what is Caesar's and to God what is God's." In one short phrase he exposed the motives of the religious leaders, condemned them and showed the people around him how to worship. Brilliant.

So today I highlight RedBlue Project's spot on gay marriage.

Choice quotes:

"We'll shut the straight people out and we can really get this party started."
"I believe all the gay people should be loaded up and shipped off to France...You know it says that in the Bible.

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RedBlue Project Promotes Finding a Third Way


This is so great. It is a website and maybe eventually an organization that is working to find a third way between the ridiculously extreme positions that politicians feel they must take on a variety of issues. Extremes which no one agrees with, which force everyone to take sides they don't strictly believe are correct, and then alienate the other people who were forced into taking the other side.

So today I highlight their spot on abortion. No one wants more abortions. Instead of working to reduce teen poverty, improve health education and encourage adoption reform, we yell about killing babies or women with coat hangers, depending on your side. Once the election is over we forget that we were yelling and do nothing meaningful to change the situation. We are a nation of short-attention span, passionate fools.

Choice quotes:

"Women need to be home making babies"
"If there is a way to destroy life, I'm all over it"

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Resist the Tower! Fight Media Power!


Consumer's Union put out another clever movie highlighting the growing media hegemony in the U.S. I'm not personally so concerned with media consolidation, but what bothers me is the way media companies throw their weight around to enact DRM that makes for lousy products and loss of freedom. I don't pirate anything, why do I need DRM in my products? I don't want to have to buy a different copy of every song I like to play on my phone, versus my stereo, versus my computer. Consumer's Union isn't directly addressing this issue with this campaign, but it is more than peripherally related.

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Author Cleverly Parallels Google Print with the Gospel

SeattlePublicLibrary-7.jpg Meghann Marco sent this open letter of encouragement to Google because she thinks Google Print is a good idea. Well-argued.

Dear Google,

Your search engine is the primary way that people find their way to my website, and subsequently, my book.

I asked my publisher, Simon and Schuster, for my book to be included in Google Print. I was told they did not do that.

Lack of exposure is the primary reason that a book like mine would fail in the marketplace. I spend most of my day trying to get attention for my book. Not for the money, but because I believe that it is well written and funny. Very few authors will become rich writing books. We do it because we have something to say. If we wanted to be rich, we'd have invented a search engine!

Please let me know if there is anything I can do to help. After all, it's perfectly free to check out a book from the library. I have no problem with my book being indexed by your site. In fact, I wish it was!

Someone asked me recently, "Meghann, how can you say you don't mind people reading parts of your book for free? What if someone xeroxed your book and was handing it out for free on street corners?"

I replied, "Well, it seems to be working for Jesus."

All my best,

Meghann Marco author, 'Field Guide to the Apocalypse'

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Goose, Goose, Duck

In an earlier blog entry (see here) I made a comparison between the responses of three technology companies to the tsunami disaster in December 2004. It painted Microsoft in a bad light. Well, a certain Microsoft employee has caused me to consider if my earlier entry was unfairly biased against Microsoft and I think today we see that it was. In comparison to the tsunami disaster, today in response to the destruction of New Orleans by Hurricane Katrina, we see a new set of screen shots from the three technology companies. Apple doesn't mention the event at all. Google only points to news coverage of the event (at least they are not making money of the disaster - "news" doesn't have ads). Microsoft this time has a link to relief organizations and has made a $1M contribution to relief efforts which they don't advertise on the front page.

It's important to remember that lots of employees have donated relief money for both of these events in private transactions. This is money which wouldn't be available if it weren't for the companies existence, regardless of what their web page says. Even the companies themselves have given money in private transactions that they don't advertise on their front web page.

So this all comes together with the rather obvious conclusion that if you really want to know which corporation has the best public service record you have to do more than grab a screen shot of their web page.

webgoogle.jpg webapple.jpg webmicrosoft.jpg

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actually, apple lets you donate via the iTunes Music Store.

Posted by: rhesuspieces00 at September 26, 2005 2:25 PM

The Drugs I Need!

screenshot of video

Consumer's Union the publishers of Consumer Reports has made an awesome video that makes fun of all the stupid things that pharmaceutical companies are doing to push drugs on us. It hits the Canadian drug thing, the T.V. advertising thing, the not-reporting-negative side effects thing. It's great.

Here is a link to their site

and a blurb from their advocacy campaign:

"First we learn that Vioxx increases the risk of heart attacks. Now, we learn that Merck may have had research, as early as 2000, that uncovered these problems, but didn’t make it known to the public. It is time to end this secrecy. Lives depend on it.

Legislators have just introduced a bill--The Fair Access to Clinical Trials Act (FACT Act)--to require drug companies to make public all the results of their clinical trials so we’ll know about potentially harmful side effects. And Congress must create an independent office of drug safety in the Food and Drug Administration to ensure quick action is taken when safety concerns are raised."

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I think lawyers, non-profits and unhinged judges are partially to blame. They concoct and argue that certain weaknesses and failings are actually legit ailments that need medication. Yes, the drug companies provide (too) many drugs. But it comes down to the doctors being too willing to prescribe, and the patients taking the path of least resistance by popping a pill. Personal responsibility.

Posted by: Nate at March 15, 2005 5:03 AM

I Want My WarTV!

pentagon channel logo

The New York Times reports on the rise of military channels, both independent and run by the Pentagon, talking about all things war-like.

A consequence of post-modern thinking is that our culture no longer believes that there is an objective truth. One of the fall-outs is that we no longer believe that striving after objective journalism is a worthwhile pursuit, because, after all, whose truth is it? Enter the rise of propaganda media where different interests leverage this distrust of objectivity to present its own truth for its own purposes. Journalism is reduced to just taking snippets from everyone's public relations firm like a sports highlight round-up.

I am concerned that few people recognize the degree to which spin has entered our news outlets. Everyone thinks "their" news is objective. So it's either democracynow and IndyNews or it's Fox news and the Pentagon Channel, but both are just spinning in an attempt to further their interests, be that money, public support, or political power.

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The London Times on Bush's Inauguration Speech

Photo by John C Abell

From: The LondonTimes Online - Comment

"The US will continue to regard the threat posed by radical Islamists, the dangers of the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and the behaviour of rogue states such as North Korea with more urgency than France and Germany. These countries should ask themselves whether their assessment of these perils is so much more modest because of evidence, or the inconvenience that acknowledging their intens-ity would entail. They might also ponder what it is about the promotion of freedom that they regard as so alien and objectionable."

Good point. Freedom good. (Oh by the way, War bad.)

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Free Speech and Advertising (updated)

News hit the 'net today that Rolling Stone has refused to publish an ad for a Bible that Zondervan is publishing. It is a translation-for-modern-times or some such slightly dangerous endeavor, but actually a real product for sale.

What is fascinating to me is that this is the exact same situation that Ad Busters finds itself in. (Read more about it here) They want to run ads that point out the ridiculous consumption trap that North Americans are in.

Adbusters and Zondervan are very different organizations whose messages I agree with: Corporations will destroy my freedom in the name of making money and Christ offers true hope. Adbusters is a far left, anti-corporate organization. Zondervan is a far right, pro-Christian organization. Zondervan sells stuff. Adbusters is about ideas. Neither of them can get their message into the media because the media doesn't like the message. Adbusters can't run ads that disparage consumption because the television stations depend on consumption to fuel advertising to buy ads to bring in revenue. Zondervan can't run an ad for a Bible because Rolling Stone thinks their audience will stop buying their magazine if they do. If your message is hostile to the corporations that control the media you do not get access to the media. Media corporations are controlling the message.

And in particular they are restricting the important messages that people need to hear.

Apparently Rolling Stone has relented and is now going to run the ad. Interesting... I wonder if the blog world response had anything to do with that?

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Corporations only destroy your freedom if you allow them.

Posted by: Nate at January 27, 2005 11:15 AM

On Our Role in Evolution

Photo by tonguetyed

I started reading an advanced computer science textbook today on some specific types of machine learning and I noticed that the book opened with a discussion about how complex our biological brains are at recognizing patterns. The authors commented that we regularly perform very difficult pattern recognition tasks without a second thought and it was because "we have evolved highly sophisticated neural and cognitive systems for such tasks."

That made think about how absurd it is to talk about evolution using a phrase like "we have evolved." Regardless of the motive force in our evolution, it is only a drastically misplaced reverence of ourselves as humans that would cause us to develop such a vocabulary. We have had nothing to do with our evolution. If anything "we have been evolved" by something. I am inclined to see that force as an active and personal God. One may attempt to disagree with this, but in such case one must believe it is an innate characteristic of our world that evolves us. It any event, it is wrong to suggest it is ourselves.

Therefore from now on I am going to refer to the process of our species arriving where it is in the following terms: "We have been evolved...", as in, "We have been evolved such that we can recognize sophisticated patterns without a second thought." It is a slightly awkward, but more accurate phrasing.

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Duck, Duck, Goose

Screen shots from three technology companies today. Apple, and Google both supporting relief efforts, Microsoft doesn't mention the disaster.
webgoogle.jpg webapple.jpg webmicrosoft.jpg

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OK, but we're getting better. For Hurricane Katrina, we had this link on a couple days after it hit: https: //, not to mention a $1M donation from the company to regional shelters and distribution centers.

Posted by: John K. at August 31, 2005 4:27 PM

And as long as John is going to defend Microsoft, its only fair to acknowledge the tremendous amount of personal donations that Microsoft employees make, from Bill Gates on down. Those donations would be completely absent without Microsoft being around....

Posted by: Don at August 31, 2005 5:17 PM

On believing something and teaching...


"We need to know our biases, but we also need to know our passions. Some religious scholars are passionately anti-religious. They enjoy putting down religions and showing their dark side. At times this is helpful; it is a disenchanting process that is necessary. At other times it is gratuitous and one wonders why scholars study subjects that they detest."

This is from an excellent article on teaching and believing.
Article by
James Wellman, University of Washington
Assistant Professor
Comparative Religion Program
Jackson School of International Studies

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Mars Hill Church


Meaning, Truth, Beauty, Community matter. Mars Hill Church strives to achieve all of them. They don't shy away from theology or culture. As a church it rocks.

Click on the image to go to Mars Hill's home page.

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Agathos Foundation
Click on the image to go to Agathos' homepage.
Fighting AIDS matters. The Agathos Foundation does this in a wonderful way. It is the merger of spritual transformation, economic transformation and a heart for the lost. Agathos focusses on helping the orphans and widows of South Africa's AIDS crises.

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Amnesty International

Freedom of conscience matters. Amnesty International always gets a liberal label, but it sures looks like the work of the Gospel to me.

Click on the image to go to Amnesty's homepage

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Flexcar and Hybrid Vehicles (mark)

flexcar.jpg I just had the wonderful opportunity of using the Flexcar program here in Seattle for the first time. Flexcar is a company who "rents" out cars on an hourly basis. They are parked around the city, you reserve it on the web, and when you want to use it you walk over get in and drive away.

Now in order to do this, the car has to be tricked out with electronics. An RFID-embedded card authenticates you and unlocks the door. A pin entry keypad activates the ignition so that when you turn on the car (with the key in the glove-compartment) it turns over. When you are done, the car sends the information about the trip back to the central database for billing.

Basically if you want a car for the whole day it is cheaper to rent a car, but if you want a car for a few hours, it is cheaper to use Flexcar than it is to rent or own a second car. My family only has one car, so today I had to run an errand which required a second car. This was the perfect solution.

The only thing that could possibly make this cooler is that the car near me was a Hybrid Honda Civic. So not only was I not owning another car, but I was not using as much oil (c.f. the Iraq War), it was a clean new car which I couldn't afford on my own and for the record I got 44.2 mpg on an 8 mile trip (one-way).

Click on the image on the left to go to Flexcar's site.

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National Right To Life


Protecting life matters.

Clicking on the image on the left will take you to the National Right to Life Committee's home page.

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The Gospel

Click on image to go to description of Gospel
The Gospel:

Transformation matters

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