Busty Virgin Mary Outrages Catholics - For his fashion show in Chile, designer Ricardo Oyarzun plans to dress models according to his vision of the Virgin Mary. True to his industry, that vision features women with ample, near-naked breasts. True to their mission, the Roman Catholic Church has condemned Ricardo Oyarzun and his show, and a conservative group has tried and failed to block the show's production in court.
Pastor Jeremiah Wright - In Context - With all the controversy about Pastor Jeremiah Wright's words, I wanted to get a bit closer to the context. I concluded that the news hysteria is misguided. In context, the sound-bites make perfect sense and don't justify the inflammatory response generated by the out-of-context sound-bites repeated ad-nauseum by our shameful media.
When we adopt the opinions of the media, accepting as proof a sound-bite, we risk being mislead. We risk public opinion being corralled by a minority with an agenda. Again, we've been fooled.
Chuck Norris Advocates Bible as Textbook - I was quite surprised to to see this ad with Chuck Norris. In the ad, Norris and his wife advocate using the "bible as a textbook" in our public elementary and high schools.
I see the merits of studying the bible from an academic perspective. Such an academic study would discuss the good and bad ideas that can be found in the bible, review the history and context in which the books of the bible were written, and examine the many difficulties with translation.
However, in reviewing the National Council on Bible Curriculum in Public Schools website, I see that such academic ideals are not what Norris is advocating. Norris and the council want a Sunday school approach to bible study. They hope those Sunday school sessions will help heal the moral ills of our culture. Noble cause. But is the bible the best book for this? I don't think so.
- TV Land strike - Matt Davies Blog
- Perfect illustration of the Hollywood Exec's position in the screenwriters' strike.
Rap Lyrics Translated - Story goes that an Oakland High School student earned the school district’s highest honors at an Ebonics Translation Competition with this inventive translation of rap lyrics into....What? Honky talk?
WARNING - Lyrics and translations contain sexual and violent themes (which, sadly, can be heard coming from the mouths of grade-schoolers). I find it difficult to believe a school district would sponsor such a competition, but it's a kick none-the-less.
Notes on Plumpy'nut piece on 60 Minutes.
Plumpy'nut saves Malnourished Children in Niger, Africa. Saw this piece on 60 minutes with Anderson Cooper. Plumpy'nut is a food substitute (or supplement) used to treat malnourished children. Basically a peanut butter-based paste, Plumpy'nut is compose of peanuts, evaporated milk, sugar (or sugar-like compound) and, most important, vitamins. It doesn't need refrigerating, is easy to manufacture, and since it's sweet, kids love it, as do their mothers after seeing the fast results. Severely malnourished children are cured in two to three weeks after starting a regime of Plumpy-nut.
Pilot study on Plumpy'nut in Niger, Africa, has been very successful. Mortality rates for children reduced. Occupancy in hospital is down. Lots of good to say about this small change. Wow!
Peanut allergies have not been an issue in developed countries, so no worries there (why?). Doctors without Borders passes out the stuff liberally, can always use more.
But it's not perfect. Not all malnourished kids can be saved. But it's a high impact, simple solution to cure many malnourished children.
Wouldn't this paste make kids very thirsty? Since potable water is so hard to find, does this cause problems?
Bill Maher on Religion - I worry about this trend. In this video, Bill Maher calls himself a "Rationalist," and those who have religious beliefs he calls some pretty harsh names. I know it's Maher's shtick, and it's not that I'm religious myself. What raises red flags for me is when I hear a self-righteous voice -- whether "rationalist" or religious. Believe what you want; I don't care. But I think Maher's "rationalist" slam of all with religious beliefs is just as self-righteous as a fundamentalist Christian claiming those who don't believe in Jesus will got to hell. Arrogance, on whatever side, raises warning flags for me....
But we are attracted to confidence, aren't we? When we can't find faith in ourselves, we seek it out in others...so the arrogant are rewarded with this attention, and thrive.
What I learned from President Bush - A sad statement that reflects current sentiment about President Bush and his legacy.
Teens and Sex - New Study - Interesting observations from this study reviewed in Psychology Today. As a parent of a pre-teen, it caught my interest. Quotes and notes from the article below...
Norah Vincent was a gender spy.
To write her book Self-Made Man: One Woman's Journey into Manhood and Back, she transformed herself into a male alter-ego she named "Ned." To look the part, she got a haircut, added fake stubble to her face and 15 lbs. of muscle to her upper-body. She bound her chest, wore a suit and tie, and inserted a fake penis into her male briefs.
Norah Vincent pretended to be man for 18 months.
During that time she went to strip clubs, joined a bowling league, attended a men's monastery, and went out on dates -- all the while pretending to be a man named Ned.
In the end, Vincent suffered a nervous breakdown, angered some of those she deceived, and learned a lot about the culture of BOTH genders.
Heaven is where the police are British,
the chefs Italian,
the mechanics German,
the lovers French,
and it's all organized by the Swiss.
Hell is where the police are German,
the chefs are British,
the mechanics French,
the lovers Swiss,
and it is all organized by the Italians.
Earth Conservation Corp - Watched an inspiring story on Bill Moyer's NOW program about the Earth Conservation Corps in Washington D.C. The story has been covered by a lot of news outlets, including 60-Minutes' Bill Bradley. The Earth Conservation Corps is a non-profit on a mission to save both a polluted D.C. river and the disadvantaged teens that live in a violent D.C. neighborhood.
I was weeping by the end. Diamond Teague's death. The fate of others, especially Darius and Jerome, just hit me at my core. Some of the lives of these teens were cut short, which is especially tragic and unfair given the changes their participation in the Earth Conservation Corps started. But those that survive often change the direction of their lives in huge ways. And, perhaps even more important, their success inspires others to do the same.
Our Justice system is NOT a good method for finding the truth. If it were, in the O.J. trail we would expect all possible juries to produce the same verdict. But we know that is not true. We know a trial verdict always depends on the composition of the jury, which is why trial attorneys fight so vigorously during jury selection (and why our system has the double-jeopardy rule).
In this piece, famous atheist/biologist Richard Dawkins offers his analysis of our justice system. His conclusion:
The bad thing about Dawkins' admission is that if he's ever charged, we'll easily be able to tell his guilt or innocence.
Hillary 1984 - The instantly famous parody of the Apple Computer commercial and the Hilary Clinton campaign for President of the U.S.- Hillary 1984.
I found Senator Jim Webb's address enthralling. Why isn't this guy running for President? Perhaps he's too smart to go after the job. Below is a link to the video and a copy of the .
Senator Jim Webb's Reply to Bush's State of the Union
Healthcare Private or Public - Yes! Magazine published something of an expose regarding the debate on private versus publicly funded healthcare titled: Has Canada Got the Cure? Written by Holly Dressel, the story expands upon the following disturbing statistic:
The U.S. and Canada had similar life expectancy and mortality rates up until about 1970. After 1970, the numbers began to diverge. Currently, Canada has a longer life expectancy and lower mortality rate as compared to the U.S.
~ Yes! Magazine
What changed in Canada? In 1970, Canada began its publicly funded healthcare program. As the article concludes:
This graphic from the article displays data from the World Health Organization, CIA, and Centers for Disease Control.
Russell Crowe Eulogy Steve Irwin - When I heard that Steve Irwin, the Crododile Hunter, had been killed by a sting-ray, I was shocked and saddened. As news coverage of his death swelled, I was somehow comforted to learn that so many others felt the same....Who knew this wacky, passionate Aussie had such an impact on so many people?
Russell Crowe, a good mate of Irwin's, gave such a touching eulogy at the memorial service for Steve Irwin, a service that was televised around the world. I've transcribed Russell's words below. Truly moving. Here is the video...
Ben Stein wrote a beautiful obituary/eulogy for President Gerald Ford. His closing is just priceless, and I have to quote it here. Stein said that President Gerald Ford was...
Perfectly Stein, the quote balances humor with an honest sentiment of respect. Well done Ben!
War is a cowardly escape from the problems of peace.
~ Thomas Mann
When it comes to the public perception of Bush's Iraq policy, I think much of the U.S. population has been guilty of playing the crowd in the Emperor's New Clothes. Bush said Iraq was an imminent threat, building a nuclear bomb, connected to al Qaeda and the 911 attacks. And many agreed with Bush's declaration, saying, "Yes, Emperor, attacking Iraq is a great solution to terrorism." But since the election, many realized that their friends and neighbors no longer saw what Bush saw, they no longer believed Bush's statements about the war and Iraq; public opinion shifted...we finally woke up. I only wish that Iraq was a fairy tale and that there could be a happy ending.
I wish my wife would read this list. I saw a documentary on PBS about De Beers that totally turned me off to supporting this industry in any way. Liz Stanton has summarized much of the ugly side of this beautiful gem.
Also see Apollo: Real diamonds "grown" in a machine.
Found this article on Best Buy's flexible time program...looks interesting.
If link dies, read cached copy below.
Argentina Political Truth Is Upside Down - Very clever message -- forwards and backwards, right-side up and upside down. Is this a genuine political ad? Or political criticism? Or both?
Here is Democrats' agenda for the first 100 hours of majority rule in the House of Representatives. Nice talking points....Where are the gaps?
Our New Direction begins with a commitment to integrity, civility, and fiscal responsibility. We will break the link between lobbyists and legislation. We will govern the House of Representatives under bipartisan administration, so that the voice of every American will be heard. And we commit to no new deficit spending, with pay-as-you-go budgeting. These are the principles by which we will govern. And under these principles we will take our country in a new direction, with priorities that address the urgent needs of the American people.
In the first 100 hours...
This looks very interesting. Plan to summarize...As I read it, I'm not sure it can be summarized. His words confuse me, which I think is by design, given Lesson #1...As I read more I realize this is a devastating indictment of the school system. How brave.
The Seven-Lesson Schoolteacher
by John Taylor Gatto
1991 New York State Teacher of the Year
Call me Mr. Gatto, please. Twenty-six years ago, having nothing better to do at the time, I tried my hand at schoolteaching. The license I hold certifies that I am an instructor of English language and English literature, but that isn't what I do at all. -- and I win awards doing it.
We Were Soldiers - Based on the book We were Soldiers Once...And Young: Ia Drang--The Battle That Changed The War In Vietnam by Lt. Col. Harold Moore (ret.) and journalist Joseph Galloway, the movie We Were Soldiers reminds us that the Vietnam War produced many heroes.
I was so moved by this film. Mel Gibson's performance felt right on, as did the performances of all the cast. My feelings were confirmed by a few who should know (read the reviews below).
Here's an excellent reality check for those thinking about enlisting in the military. Among the lessons you'll learn:
Recruitment Contracts Are UNILATERAL
Which means you, the recruit, are legally bound and obligated to fulfill the terms of the contract.
HOWEVER, the government is NOT.
In fact, the government can CHANGE the terms of the contract as they desire, and they routinely do.
"Men are barraged with images of extraordinarily beautiful and unobtainable women in the media, making it difficult for them to desire the ordinarily beautiful."
~ Michael Levine, Why I Hate Beauty
Why would this be so? Because of how the contrast effect influences our perception of beauty. To explain, suppose I see a super beautiful woman. A short time later I see a woman of average beauty. Because I saw the super beauty first, I would likely rate the average beauty as less beautiful than if I saw the average beauty first. The contrast created by seeing the super beauty first influences my perception, making me judge the average beauty (seen second) as less beautiful than I normally would.
The legacy we are leaving our kids...Just add the polluted environment and the list is about complete.
This memorial truly has The Right Stuff. Inspired by a military air maneuver called the "bomb burst," the Air Force Memorial insires flight, speed, and the heavens. It's a beautiful, "soaring" tribute to the men and women of the Air Force branch of the military. I look forward to more pictures in the near future.
I saw a PBS piece on the memorial. Didn't realize Ross Perot's son was involved in getting this created. I really want to see the work in person. I'm sure it would be emotional. I was unexpectedly moved when I visited the Vietnam memorial.
It's sobering, especially when you visit the database of Iraq Coalition Casualties or Beautiful Dead Girls. So many people died in these conflicts. War is hell...and takes from our society its best and brightest.
Clever Shopping Bags - Wonderful series of photos illustrate how good shopping bag design can get your attention. Here is my favorite...
When the Nazis came for the communists,
I remained silent;
I was not a communist.
When they locked up the social democrats,
I remained silent;
I was not a social democrat.
When they came for the trade unionists,
I did not speak out;
I was not a trade unionist.
When they came for me,
there was no one left to speak out.
Martin Niemöller (1892-1984)
Note Home from Teacher - Let's hope things have improved since this letter was written...second to last paragraphs sounds like something out of a President Bush press conference.
I absolutely love this woman's reaction to the National Enquirer headline...But which headline was the cause? Katie colapsing before her wedding to Tom? Or Marie Osmond's suicide attempt? My enquiring mind doesn't really want to know.
Rec'd from email chain
The New Alphabet for Boomers -
A is for Apple, and B is for Boat,
That used to be right, but now it won't float!
Age before Beauty is what we once said,
but let's be a bit more realistic instead.
Now A's for arthritis; B's the bad back,
C is the chest pains, perhaps cardiac?
D is for dental decay and decline,
E is for eyesight, can't read that top line!
Escalating violence is natural - Fascinating NY Times piece by Daniel Gilbert, a professor of psychology at Harvard, and author of Stumbling on Happiness. In this article, Gilbert explains how our faulty human perception in a tit-for-tat exchange can lead to escalating violence. Apropos of the Middle Earth...uh, Middle East conflicts between Israel and Hezbollah, the civil war in Iraq, and so many other conflicts...
Ze'ev Maoz's editorial struck me as incredibly brave. For an Israeli to opening admit such a point of view...But why should I label this act as brave? Would it be brave in the U.S.? No. People express their dissent about U.S. government policy all the time--we stage protests, heckle, post blog entries.
Is Israel any different?
I admit ignorance. I guess I have this impression (false?) that the government of Israel dislikes dissenters AND can make their lives uncomfortable. Is that true? I need to dispel my ignorance here. I just don't know the truth about the culture, the Israeli society. I'd like to learn. Given the current conflict in the region, I need to learn.
The first paragraph of Maoz's editorial startled me:
In his critique of the Oscars, actor/economist Ben Stein points out...
Whoa. Got my attention.
I think he may be right, though I didn't see the whole awards show (Stein admits he didn't watch it all either). Even so, I had very mixed feelings about his comments. Yes, as he observes...
Cited on reddit.com. Original post off of craigslist.org. Very sad statement.
WARNING - The following content is not suitable for children, WILL offend sane people, and may cause nausea. I'm serious! This is horrific, ugly stuff. But it does make a strong statement about the degenerates in our society, which may include this poor social worker...and me for posting this here. The truth hurts.
This entry contains a sister's memories of stories her brother told of his experiences during WWII. Someone in the family transcribed her account into an email, and I've posted it here. With the Iraq war, I expect our family will have more such stories. Very sad. The horrors of war. I think I would have made a miserable soldier.
Update: The campaign has gone into second gear. I saw a commercial featuring young girls (pre-teens, early teens) who didn't like something about themselves, their freckles, their hair, etc. Dove calls the campaign Uniquely Me, and the goal is to eliminate low self-esteem (due to appearance?) in girls and, utlimately, women. From their website:
Good start. Will the idea catch on? As long as it sells soap, I doubt that they care. How cynical is that?
I found religion!
(Link outdated. Read cached copy below.)