Monthly Archives: September 2010

Gay Bullying

There have been a few news stories cropping up lately about "gay bullying" and they all make me wish I was a Second Amendment advocate so that I could go all vigilante on someone's ass.

But this story…. man, this is a tough one:

It started with a Twitter message on Sept. 19: “Roommate asked for the room till midnight. I went into molly’s room and turned on my webcam. I saw him making out with a dude. Yay.”

That night, the authorities say, the Rutgers University student who sent the message used a camera in his dormitory room to stream the roommate’s intimate encounter live on the Internet.

And three days later, the roommate who had been surreptitiously broadcast — Tyler Clementi, an 18-year-old freshman and an accomplished violinist — jumped from the George Washington Bridge into the Hudson River in an apparent suicide.

The Sept. 22 death, details of which the authorities disclosed on Wednesday, was the latest by a young American that followed the online posting of hurtful material. The news came on the same day that Rutgers kicked off a two-year, campuswide project to teach the importance of civility, with special attention to the use and abuse of new technology.

Those who knew Mr. Clementi — on the Rutgers campus in Piscataway, N.J., at his North Jersey high school and in a community orchestra — were anguished by the circumstances surrounding his death, describing him as an intensely devoted musician who was sweet and shy.

According to other news sources, "Jumping off the gw bridge sorry," was the last status message Clementi posted to Facebook before parking his car on the New Jersey side, walking more than a mile to the center of the bridge span, placing his cell phone and wallet on the roadway and climbing up onto the railing before leaping to his death in the Hudson River.

Pictured below are Clementi, his roommate and his roommate's friend.  The latter two are under arrest and have yet to be charged.

30suicide_337-span-articleLarge

McHealthcare

The Wall Street Journal got everyone all abuzz today with its "McDonald's May Drop Health Plan." The lede said:

"McDonald's Corp. has warned federal regulators that it could drop its health insurance plan for nearly 30,000 hourly restaurant workers unless regulators waive a new requirement of the U.S. health overhaul."

The conservatives crowed:  "Look what Obamacare has done!  It's forcing McD's to drop health insurance."

Specifically, McDonald's is having trouble meeting the requirement that 80% of the health plan actually go to paying medical bills (rather than administration, marketing, etc.)

Now, two points need to be made about the story:

(1)  First and foremost, it's not true.  The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has already called the article "flat out wrong," and McDonald's has said the report is "completely false."

(2)  McDonald's health plan is crap anyway. Jonathan Cohn has a very helpful explanation of what we're talking about:

As the Journal story makes clear, the policies in question are so-called mini-med plans with very limited benefits. In the case of McDonald's, according to the Journal, there are two options: Employees who go with the minimum plan pay $14 a week for a policy that won't cover more than $2,000 in medical bills a year. Employees who opt for the "generous" option pay about $32 a week for a policy that maxes out at $10,000.

To call that "insurance" is to distort the definition, since these policies would do very little to help people with even moderately serious medical conditions….

Indeed.  A $2,000 cap on medical coverage is peanuts.  So is $10,000 actually, if you actually get in a car accident or, you know, have a baby.  In the long run, McDonald's employees need policies that protect them in case of serious medical problems. And they need policies they can afford. They'll get those policies thanks to the Affordable Care Act — but not until 2014, because the administration and Congress couldn't come up with enough money to implement the full scheme sooner.

Your Congress At Work

It's always nice when the Senate can agree on something worthwhile in bi-partisan fashion:

WASHINGTON – Legislation to turn down the volume on those loud TV commercials that send couch potatoes diving for their remote controls looks like it'll soon become law.

The Senate unanimously passed a bill late Wednesday to require television stations and cable companies to limit the volume of commercials and keep them at the level of the programs they interrupt.

The House has passed similar legislation. Before it can become law, minor differences between the two versions have to be worked out when Congress returns to Washington after the Nov. 2 election.

 

Baseball: The Tenth Inning

I, like many others, was and remain a big fan of Ken Burns' nine-part, 18.5 hour Baseball documentary series when it came out 1993.  That series was fascinating look at America's favorite pastime since its inception over 100 years ago to 1993.  That series ended with the clear message that baseball had survived wars, depression, and scandal, but it always persevered.  Ironically, when the series originally aired in 1994, baseball was in the midst of a players' strike.  Eventually, the 1994 season, and the 1994 World Series, was canceled.  So much for perseverence.

The past two evenings, Ken Burns returned to the documentary series to produce the tenth part (or inning) — an update of baseball since 1993.  The four hour supplement aired on PBS Tuesday night and last night, and it was just as good as the original.

Burns, of course, addressed the 1994 players' strike and the impact on the game.  Casting it quite accurately as a fight between millionaires (the ballplayers) versus billionaires (the owners), the documentary captured the disgust of the fans who seemed to say "a pox on both your houses" and left the game in droves.

He followed the resurgence of baseball over the next couple of years, sparked by Cal Ripken, Jr., quietly and poignantly breaking Lou Gehrig's "unbeatable" record of most consecutive games played.  Baseball's popularity came into full swing with the McGuire-Sosa home run derby battle in 1998, where Roger Maris' 61-homers-per-season record was shattered.

He also did a nice segment on the rise of latino players in the game, particularly those from the Dominican Republic, where — even today — the only way to escape a life of total poverty is to be able to hit or pitch, so it has become a country where baseball is more important than, well, anything.

But of course, you can't do a documentary about baseball from 1993-present without talking about the common thread lurking underneath, and then finally dominating, the game: steroid use.  The film did a good job in reminding the audience that steroid use was, throughout the nineties and much of this past decade, perfectly legal.  And to the extent that it was immoral — well, everybody (owners, players, and the sports press) just turned a blind eye.

Why in 1998 did two players surpass Maris' home run record of 61 home runs — and not just surpass it, but blow it out of the water?  Smaller ballparks?  Who really believed that?  It was the performance-enhancing drugs.

And of course, there was Barry Bonds, who eventually came along and stole the home run record from McGwire (hitting 73 of them in 2001, when nobody was paying attention because of 9/11) and taking the all-time home run record from Hank Aaron (ultimately hitting 762 by the end of the 2007 season, although nobody cared because we all know that Bonds spent most of his career doped up on steroids).

Is the game of baseball – a game where so much enjoyment comes from comparing the present players, through statistics, to those with the past — forever tainted because steroids, until their ban, gave so many players (like, 70-80% of them) such an advantage for such a long period of time?

The film says "no" and concludes that most fans have made their peace with the steroid era.  Yes, many fans will never acknowledge, for example, that Bonds is the home run king — and that's fine, but the point is, they are still fans.  And I can go along with that.

Of course, the best part of them film was the 2004 World Series winning Red Sox, which got close to a full 20 minutes.  Burns focused (as he should) not on the 4-0 World Series blowout, but on the American League playoffs where the Sox came back from a 3-0 deficit to sweep the Yankees.

Good times.

Yeah, Canceled

This was supposed to take place at the University of Texas Law School yesterday:

The Federalist Society and SCCC Present: John Lott's More Guns, Less Crime

Date: September 28, 2010
Start: 6:00pm
End: 7:30pm

Location: TNH 2.114 (Auditorium)

Prominent Second Amendment scholar and author John Lott will discuss how more legal possession of guns leads to less crime. Sponsored by the Texas Federalist Society, Students for Concealed Carry on Campus, Libertarian Longhorns, and the Objectivist Society.

…. but it was canceled after a student armed with an AK-47 opened fire in the school library and then killed himself.

World War One Officially Ends This Week

393px-Treaty_of_Versailles,_English_version-757386 Took them a while, but Germany has finally finished paying off reparations for that nasty bit of business almost a century ago.

Germany was forced to pay the reparations at the Treaty of Versailles in 1919 as compensation to the war-ravaged nations of Belgium and France and to pay the Allies some of the costs of waging what was then the bloodiest conflict in history, leaving nearly ten million soldiers dead.

The initial sum agreed upon for war damages in 1919 was 226 billion Reichsmarks (about 750 billion US dollars), a sum later reduced to 132 billion (about 400 billion US), £22 billion (roughly 37.5 billion US dollars) at the time.

The bill would have been settled much earlier had it not been for the Great Depression in the 1920's.  And then this guy Adolf Hitler reneged on reparations during his reign.

The final payment of £59.5 million (80.8 million) will be made October 3.

NOW DON'T DO IT AGAIN!

MacArthur Genius Award Fellows Announced

Once again, I was overlooked.

The famed MacArthur Fellows Program, which awards "Genius" grants to exceptional inventors, innovators and other creative types, has announced 23 new fellows for 2010.

This year's honorees were contacted out of the blue by The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and offered $500,000 with no strings attached over the next five years to pursue work in their field of interest.

Here they are, and what they do:

Amir Abo Shaeer: Physics Teacher — Abo-Shaeer prepares public high school students for careers in science and mathematics, combing applied physics, engineering and robotics.

Jessie Little Doe Baird: Indigenous Language Preservationist — Little Doe Baird revives the Native American Wopanaak language to provide her community with a new sense of cultural heritage.

Kelly Benoit-Bird: Marine Biologist – Benoit-Bird uses acoustic engineering technology to answer questions about the structure and behavior of ocean creatures and food chains.

Nicholas Benson: Stone Carver – Benson preserves a centuries-old tradition and expands on the art through his knowledge of the craft and his personal designs.

Drew Berry: Biomedical Animator – Berry creates scientifically accurate visualizations through data from a variety of fields to improve our understanding of a range of biological processes and systems.

Carlos D. Bustamante: Population Geneticist – Bustamante uses DNA sequence data to answer basic questions about evolution, the origins of human genetic diversity and patterns of population migration.

Matthew Carter: Type Designer – Carter crafts letters for a range of applications and media to recreate written-letter elegance to text on a computer screen.

David Cromer: Theater Director – Cromer brings to life and reinvents classic American plays. (Credits include the recent Off-Broadway re-working of Our Town, where he directed and played the Stage Manager, as well as the new musical The Adding Machine).

John Dabiri: Biophysicist – Dabiri enhances our understanding of evolutionary adaptation and issues of fluid dynamics, such as blood flow to the heart, by studying the hydrodynamics of jellyfish propulsion.

Shannon Lee Dawdy: Anthropologist – Dawdy uses anthropology and archaeology to explore the history of the Atlantic World since 1450.

Annette Gordon-Reed: American Historian – Gordon-Reed's research into the life of Thomas Jefferson changed the course of Jeffersonian scholarship.

Yiyun Li: Fiction Writer – Li's fiction tells sparse and emotional stories of struggles in China and the United States.

Michal Lipson: Optical Physicist – Lipson develops devices that use the information-processing capabilities of light that could one day be used for optical computing.

Nergis Mavalvala: Quantum Astrophysicist – Mavalvala's research uses quantum mechanics to understand gravitational radiation, which could shape a unified theory of the basic forces in the universe.

Jason Moran: Jazz Pianist and Composer – Moran's jazz performances combine an adventurous array of musical styles and genres.

Carol Padden: Sign Language Linguist – Padden researches how sign languages differ from each other and from spoken languages.

Jorge Pardo: Installation Artist – Pardo creates murals, home furnishings and huge fabrications that carry multiple meanings and purposes.

Sebastian Ruth: Violist, Violinist and Music Educator – Ruth enriches the lives of urban families in Providence, R.I. with a string quartet and a storefront space.

Emmanuel Saez: Economist – Saez is working to reinvigorate the field of public economics by studying how taxation affects income and savings.

David Simon: Author, Screenwriter and Producer – Simon uses his background as a crime beat reporter to craft complex narratives about urban America.

Dawn Song: Computer Security Specialist – Song works to understand how and why software, hardware and networks are vulnerable to viruses.

Marla Spivak: Entomologist – Spivak works to protect honey bee populations from disease and helps us better understand bee biology.

Elizabeth Turk: Sculptor – Turk uses marble to create intricate, seemingly weightless objects.

Congrats to the winners (you can see their submission videos here)… although I'm not sure I agree with the selection of the guy who has a string quartet in Providence, Rhode Island.  I mean, come on.  That's nice and all, but does that make you a genius?  That must have been an amusing phone call though when he was notified that he won.

Also, not sure a guy who makes computer fonts is worthy.  Oh, well.

I'm sure the $500,000 no-strings-attached award will go a long way if you are a stonecutter, a high school physics teacher, or a bee studier.  On the other hand, David Simon, creator of The Wire, is probably fine without it.

More here.

No, Sarah Palin Was NOT Booed

So last night, on Dancing with the Stars, Jennifer Grey did this really good dance with the dancing partner, and then they cut to the "green room" where Jennifer was interviewed by some airhead co-host, as per show tradition.  Then Jennifer got her score — a 24 (which, as I understand it, is really good for DWTS)  – and in the background, you could hear the audience going "Booooo.  Boooooo!!!".  And Jennifer was all like, "WTF?!?"  And her dancing partner was all like "WTF?!?"  And even the airhead co-host was all like, "WTF?!?",  but she threw it back to the unctuous America's Funniest Home Videos host who was sitting next to Sarah Palin and they did a little interview because Palin's daughter, Bristol, is a contestant on the show this year.

You with me?

Okay, some have taken the fact that the audience was booing to reflect their displeasure that Sarah Palin was about to be interviewed.

Nope.  I saw it (live!) and I disagree.

First of all, I seriously doubt that the Dancing with the Stars studio audience votes on things other than Dancing with the Stars performances, so I doubt that they have political views that strongly (positively or negatively) regarding Sarah Palin.

Secondly, what they were booing was the fact that Jennifer Grey did really well, and deserved better scores.  Yes, even better than 24.

But judge for yourself:

 

UPDATE:  Tom Bergeron, the unctuous host, went on late night teevee last night and confirmed my theory.  So there.

I Call “B.S”

Austalia's Next Top Model judge Sarah Murdoch announced the wrong winner during last night's finale, then stood by while the loser made a victory speech, just to tell her she hadn't won.

Here's the clip:

 

But I have to tell you, the whole thing looks staged to me.

For Your Amusement

TeaParty
Yeah, it's real.

I can't make out the small print on these pictures, but the Globe says it contains this snippet:

"When taxes are too high, the high tax takes away jobs and freedom. In 1773 we had a Tea Party and this led to freedom from high taxes. Today we are having another Tea Party and this will lead to freedom from high taxes again! Ask grandma and grandpa what this means. Ask you friends what this means. Are you going to have your own Tea Party?" The text runs above and below a cartoon of a woman (the president? hmmm, wonder who that is) preparing to sign a tax code.

I love the picture on the front page, especially the fact that the tea party kids are from every race and culture imaginable. So much like the real Tea Party, yes?

Atheist and Agnostics More Knowledgeable About Religion

From the LA Times:

If you want to know about God, you might want to talk to an atheist.

Heresy? Perhaps. But a survey that measured Americans’ knowledge of religion found that atheists and agnostics knew more, on average, than followers of most major faiths. In fact, the gaps in knowledge among some of the faithful may give new meaning to the term “blind faith.”

A majority of Protestants, for instance, couldn’t identify Martin Luther as the driving force behind the Protestant Reformation, according to the survey, released Tuesday by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life. Four in 10 Catholics misunderstood the meaning of their church’s central ritual, incorrectly saying that the bread and wine used in Holy Communion are intended to merely symbolize the body and blood of Christ, not actually become them.

Atheists and agnostics — those who believe there is no God or who aren’t sure — were more likely to answer the survey’s questions correctly. Jews and Mormons ranked just below them in the survey’s measurement of religious knowledge — so close as to be statistically tied.

So why would an atheist know more about religion than a Christian?

American atheists and agnostics tend to be people who grew up in a religious tradition and consciously gave it up, often after a great deal of reflection and study, said Alan Cooperman, associate director for research at the Pew Forum.

What always amuses me is when a Christian meets an atheist, and the Christian assumes that the only reason the atheist is an atheist is because the atheist simply isn't knowledgeable about Christ and his teachings.  In my experience, the opposite is true.  Most atheists and agnostics I know have actually read the Bible, cover to cover — an exercise which (in many case) spawned their atheism.  On the other hand, most Christians I know haven't read the Bible in significant detail.

Prediction

The story which will occupy the news next week will be about John Boehner's affair.

Oh, yes.  You read right.  Affair.  The story hasn't broke yet, but it will in 3… 2….

Fake Earthquake

If your Facebook or Twitter feed starts going off with buzz about a massive California earthquake in the next few hours, don't worry.  It's only a test.  A drill is planned by natural disaster experts at San Diego State University to test how social media would be used to respond to a crisis.

Unless, of course, there is an actual earthquake in California… which would be an unfortunate coincidence.

On Time

Nistpairofal Smart scientists have now proven that time goes faster at higher elevations.  

That may be hard to wrap your head around — it's not that the perception of time goes faster at higher elevations, it's that time itself actually goes faster at higher elevations.

In other words, if you have a super accurate clock and you leave it downstairs for several years, it will read X.  But if you had taken that very same clock and left it upstairs, it would show a slightly different time after the same amount of (downstairs) years.  Milli-milli-milli-milli seconds of difference, but a difference nevertheless.  Actually, 90 billionths of a second over a 79-year span is the difference.

Also, time slows when when you're moving.

So basically, if you want to live longer, walk through a valley of mud.

 

The Outage

Apparently Facebook was down for a couple of hours yesterday.  They say it was a database glitch, but I'm betting it's because two people poked each other at the exact same time.

The outage apparently caused Facebook addicts to roam the street in tears, shoving photos of themselves in peoples' faces and screaming "DO YOU LIKE THIS?  WELL, DO YOU?!?"

There are also scattered reports of Facebook addicts meandering into fields and farming the land.

Very strange.

The Phrase Of The Day Is “Hippie Punching”

Yeah, despite my enjoyment of the GOP/Tea Party rift, I should keep in mind that there's some infighting on the left, too:

Top Obama adviser David Axelrod got an earful of the liberal blogosphere's anger at the White House moments ago, when a blogger on a conference call directly called out Axelrod over White House criticism of the left, accusing the administration of "hippie punching."

"We're the girl you'll take under the bleachers but you won't be seen with in the light of day," the blogger, Susan Madrak of Crooks and Liars, pointedly told Axelrod on the call, which was organzied for liberal bloggers and progressive media.

The call seemed to perfectly capture the tense dynamic that exists between the White House and the online and organized left: Though White House advisers in the past have dumped on the left, anonymously and even on the record, Axelrod repeatedly pleaded with the bloggers on the call for help in pumping up the flagging enthusiasm of rank and file Dems.

"You play a great role in informing people about the stakes of elections," Axelrod told the bloggers. "One of the reasons I was eager to expend time was to enlist you."

But hovering over the call was the obvious disconnect between this plea for help and statements like those of Robert Gibbs, who recently pilloried the "professional left" for being overly critical of the White House.

That tension burst out into the open when Madrak directly asked Axelrod: "Have you ever heard of hippie punching?" That prompted a long silence from Axelrod.

"You want us to help you, the first thing I would suggest is enough of the hippie punching," Madrak added. "We're the girl you'll take under the bleachers but you won't be seen with in the light of day."

Axelrod didn't engage on "hippie punching," but he said he agreed with the blogger. "To the extent that we shouldn't get involved in intramural skirmishing, I couldn't agree more," Axelrod said. "We just can't afford that. There are big things at stake here."

Madrak replied that Axelrod was missing the point — that the criticism of the left made it tougher for bloggers like herself to motivate the base. "Don't make our jobs harder," she said.

"Right back at'cha. Right back at'cha," Axelrod replied, a bit testily, an apparent reference to blogospheric criticism of the administration.

Who is right?  Unfortunately, they both are.

The 1,905 Page Suicide Note

This past Saturday at about 10:50 a.m., a 35 year old man named Mitchell Heisman — a resident of Somerville, Massachusetts — walked into Harvard Yard and shot himself.

Heisman who posted a 1,905-page document on suicidenote.info, a website he created, arguing history, politics, religion and death. His mother reportedly told the Crimson to publish his name to let people know of his work “because that’s what he wanted.” She said he worked on his book in Harvard libraries and from his Craigie Street home. She also told the Crimson he seemed happy to be finishing his work.

So peruse his note, complete with bibliography.  It actually contains what appears to be coherent thoughts.  Not sure why suicide was necessary, but then again, I didn't read the whole note.

The Pledge Is Here!

In Sterling, VA, House Republicans this morning will unveil their governing blueprint if they win back the majority in November. It’s called “A Pledge to America,” but it really isn’t a call to revolutionize the way Congress does business like the GOP’s “Contract with America” did in 1994. Rather, the “Pledge” is a laundry list of priorities. 

The 21-page document contains five plans: on jobs and the economy (make the Bush tax cuts permanent, give small businesses a tax deduction, require congressional approval of new federal regulations that cost $100 million or more); on government spending (cut government spending to its 2008 level, cap new discretionary spending, cut Congress’ budget, freeze the hiring of non-security federal workers; hold WEEKLY spending cut votes); on health care (repeal the health-care law, enact medical malpractice reform, ensure access for patients with pre-existing conditions); on reforming Congress (post the text of any legislation online at least three days before coming up for a vote, end the practice of attaching non-germane bills to must-pass legislation; provide in EVERY bill the specific Constitutional provision); and on national security (fully fund missile defense, require tough sanctions against Iran, and enforce the border).

But the GOP’s blueprint also contains obvious contradictions. How can the GOP claim to have new ideas when its first policy proposal is making the Bush tax cuts permanent? How does it reduce the deficit if you make those tax cuts permanent? Why work to ensure access for patients with pre-existing conditions if you repeal a law that already does that? Why push for tax cuts for small businesses when your party has opposed similar cuts that Democrats have offered? (Indeed, will House Republicans today vote for that Democratic measure?) And then there’s this: The document makes absolutely no mention about what to do regarding the war in Afghanistan. (It does talk about Iran and lumps immigration in their national security section). It also ignores what to do about Social Security and Medicare. And how do you truly address cutting government spending if you ignore Social Security and Medicare?

The document speaks constantly and eloquently of the dangers of debt — but offers a raft of proposals that would sharply increase it. It says, in one paragraph, that the Republican Party will commit itself to "greater liberty" and then, in the next, that it will protect "traditional marriage." It says that "small business must have certainty that the rules won't change every few months" and then promises to change all the rules that the Obama administration has passed in recent months. It is a document with a clear theory of what has gone wrong — debt, policy uncertainty, and too much government — and a solid promise to make most of it worse.

It's not exactly bold or new, and some conservatives are panning it:

These 21 pages tell you lots of things, some contradictory things, but mostly this: it is a serious of compromises and milquetoast rhetorical flourishes in search of unanimity among House Republicans because the House GOP does not have the fortitude to lead boldly in opposition to Barack Obama.

***

Yes, yes, it is full of mom tested, kid approved pablum that will make certain hearts on the right sing in solidarity. But like a diet full of sugar, it will actually do nothing but keep making Washington fatter before we crash from the sugar high.

It is dreck — dreck with some stuff I like, but like Brussels sprouts in butter. I like the butter, not the Brussels sprouts. Overall, this grand illusion of an agenda that will never happen is best spoken of today and then never again as if it did not happen. It is best forgotten.

The pledge begins by lamenting “an arrogant and out-of-touch government of self-appointed elites” issuing “mandates”, then proceeds to demand health care mandates on insurance companies that will drive up the costs of health care for ordinary Americans.

The plan wants to put “government on the path to a balanced budget” without doing anything substantive. There is a promise to “immediately reduce spending” by cutting off stimulus funds. Wow. Exciting.

There is a plan to cut Congress’s budget, which is pretty much what was promised in 1994. Seriously? In 4 years did the Democrats really blow up the Congressional budget? No — the GOP did that too.

There is no call for a Spending Limitation Amendment or a Balanced Budget Amendment. It is just meaningless stuff the Democrats can easily undo and that ultimately the Senate GOP will even turn its nose up at.

The entirety of this Promise is laughable. Why? It is an illusion that fixates on stuff the GOP already should be doing while not daring to touch on stuff that will have any meaningful longterm effects on the size and scope of the federal government.

This document proves the GOP is more focused on the acquisition of power than the advocacy of long term sound public policy. All the good stuff in it is stuff we expect them to do. What is not in it is more than a little telling that the House GOP has not learned much of anything from 2006.

Ouch.

It doesn't help that the Pledge was apparently put together under the auspices of one Brian Wild “a House staffer who, up till April 2010, served as a lobbyist for some of the nation’s most powerful oil, pharmaceutical, and insurance companies.”

Anyway, the pledge:

 

GOP Pledge to America

Another Naughty Megachurch Leader

Is this even news anymore when this happens?

Two young men in Georgia said Tuesday that the pastor of a 33,000-person Baptist megachurch, Bishop Eddie L. Long, had repeatedly coerced them into having sex with him.

In two lawsuits filed in DeKalb County, the men said that Bishop Long, a prominent minister and television personality, had used his position as a spiritual counselor to take them on trips out of state and perform sexual acts on them.

Bishop Long is the pastor of New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Lithonia, an Atlanta suburb. It is one of the largest churches in the country.

“Defendant Long has a pattern and practice of singling out a select group of young male church members and using his authority as bishop over them to ultimately bring them to a point of engaging in a sexual relationship,” said a suit filed by one of the men, Maurice Robinson, 20. The other man who filed suit is Anthony Flagg, 21.

Titanic Crash: Pilot Error?

Hmmmmm:

The granddaughter of an officer aboard the ill-fated Titanic reveals that the ship's helmsman turned the vessel toward the iceberg instead of away because of a confusion over steering orders that applied differently to steam ship and sailing ships.

Novelist Louise Patten, granddaughter of Titanic's Second Officer Charles Lightoller, says orders that applied to one steering system meant the exact opposite on the other type of vessel. 

The command to turn "hard a-starboard," for example, meant to turn the wheel right under one system and left under the other, she writes in her new novel Good as Gold, the BBC reports. 

The helmsman aboard the Titanic's 1912 maiden voyage that night was used to the archaic Tiller Orders system, she says, and responded to his orders by turning into the iceberg instead of away.

Some 1,500 people died in the tragedy.

She says her grandfather took part in a dramatic final meeting of the four senior officers in which he learned of the fatal mistake, but that it was withheld deliberately even from an official inquiry.

"It was made clear to him by those at the top that, if the company were found to be negligent, it would be bankrupted and every job would be lost," Patten says.

He only told one person, her grandmother, who eventually shared the family secret with Patten.

I suppose it is possible, although one must keep in mind that the person bringing this to light is a novelist who is plugging her new book.

Secondly, it seems unlikely that someone who survived the sinking would not have recalled that the ship went port, rather than starboard, especially if the turn was a "hard" one.

But mainly, I doubt the allegation because… well, the novelist is plaing wrong.  Let me give a bit of background and explanation.

There's already a bit of confusion about the "hard o'starboard" call.  "Starboard" means "right" and (if any of you recall The Titanic movie), the ship needed to go left (or port) to avoid the berg.  So many have claimed that the movie was historically inaccurate.

But the "hard o'starboard" call of the movie (and real life) was the accurate call.  It's because in the old days, ships — including the Titanic – operated under what is known as the Tiller Order system.  Think of the tiller on a small boat: in order to turn the boat to port, you move the tiller to starboard. And vice versa.

On ships back then, the command is "helm hard to starboard" (the "helm" being the actual steering mechanism) which has the result of turning the ship port (to the left).  That was the order given in both the movie and real life.

The novelist here is claiming that Titanic helmsman "was used to the archaic" Tiller Order system.  But as I've said, the Titanic — indeed all ships at the time — used the Tiller Order system.  The convention wasn't changed until the 1930's — nearly two decades after the Titanic sinking.

UPDATE:  The Guardian gives a contradictory story.  It says that the helmsman was used to the (then) new steering system — known as the Rudder System (which mean you turn the wheel starboard to go starboard), not the Tiller System (as claimed by the USA Today story above):

The man at the wheel, Quartermaster Robert Hitchins, was trained under rudder orders – but tiller orders were still in use in the north Atlantic. So when First Officer William Murdoch first spotted the iceberg and gave a 'hard a-starboard' order, a panicked Hitchins turned the liner into the course of the iceberg.

"The real reason why Titanic hit the iceberg is because he turned the wheel the wrong way," said Patten. By the time the error had been corrected, two minutes had been lost. Nothing could stop the iceberg breaching the hull.

That at least makes more sense.  

But I still doubt the story, and the Guardian errs caution as well:

There is a caveat to the revelations. Patten, the wife of former Tory education secretary Lord (John) Patten and a woman well known in the City, whose CV includes non-executive board membership at Marks & Spencer, is making them known because they are a part of the storyline of her novel out next week.

Pictured below — what's left of the Titanic's steering wheel.  It ain't tellin'.

Titanic-wreck-10-300x217

High Point City Council Approves Mosque, Without Any Freakout

How it's done:

HIGH POINT, N.C. The City Council on Monday unanimously approved a pair of rezoning requests that clears the way for a mosque to be built in south High Point.

The council granted requests from Malik Hanif to rezone 6.9 acres on the east side of Allen Jay Road just north of E. Fairfield Road from a residential multi-family classification to conditional use public and institutional with an accompanying conditional-use permit. Hanif and the Islamic Society of High Point plan to build an Islamic worship center and educational facility. Organizers said the city’s two existing mosques on W. Lexington Avenue and W. Market Center Drive don’t provide adequate space.

“In the last three or four years, we have seen tremendous growth in the population of the Muslim community. We are seeing so many immigrants and newcomers, and they are settling on the south side,” said Uzma Zaman, spokeswoman for the Islamic Center of High Point. “As new families are coming, they’re growing, they’re having kids, and we’re seeing a new generation of kids.”

Most of the discussion about the case centered around the impact of traffic generated by the mosque. City staff said Allen Jay Road currently gets about 10 percent of its vehicles-per-day capacity, and even combined with traffic from a nearby school, congestion shouldn’t be an issue.

“I’m concerned about noise and congestion, with us living right on top of the site,” said Katherine Gillespie, whose Ingram Road property abuts the mosque site.

Organizers said they don’t think the facility will impact traffic in the area at all because the hours when it draws people are expected to be from about 5-9 p.m. for children’s classes and for prayers early on Friday afternoons – times that shouldn’t conflict with school traffic.

Other residents voiced concerns about whether the mosque will teach Sharia, or Islamic law, and whether information about the donors for the facility is a matter of public record. Zaman said the mosque will not teach Sharia.

“If Christians are free to teach their kids, we can teach ours,” she said. “Just like you guys read the Bible, we’re going to read the Quran.”

City Attorney Fred Baggett reminded the council that the law requires members to consider only land-use issues and not religious questions in deciding cases like the one Monday.

“The Constitution of this great land does offer freedom of religion. The issue of faith has no bearing on these proceedings,” said Councilman Mike Pugh.

DADT Blocked

An attempt to get a vote on repealing Dont Ask Dont Tell failed this afternoon, as Republicans filibustered.  The final roll call: 56 to 43 in favor of allowing Obama to repeal DADT. It was actually 57 to 42, but Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid switched his vote for procedural reasons, allowing him to be able to bring the bill back to the floor at a later date.

You may wonder why in the U.S. Senate, when 57 senators support something, and 42 oppose it, the 57-vote majority loses.  That's the modern Senate.  Go figure.

Of course, in blocking the bill, Republicans also block military funding.  Way to support our troops.

Battery Issues

For some reason, my Droid is having a hard time sustaining battery life.  Usually, I can go a solid 8-10 hours without recharging.  For the past two days…. 6 hours.

Whaddup?

If The Middle Class Gets A Tax Cut, So Do Those Making > $250,000

Need we a reminder on how tax policy works?

Okay.  Here we go.

Suppose Obama gets his wish, and keeps the tax cut for those making under $250,000.  And let's say that he raises the taxes on those making $250,000 and from 33% to 36%.

Let's say that your income is $250,001.  How much more would you be paying in taxes than if the Obama pplan never went through?  Remember, your tax rate has jumped from 33% to %36.

The answer?  You will be paying about three cents more.  That's right. Three cents.

Why?  Because the 36% rate doesn't kick in until your $250,000 dollar of income.  That's what people don't realize.  They seem to think that the higher tax rate for upper-income means they will pay more taxes on ALL their income.  But that's wrong.  They are paying higher tax rates on only their higher income.

What does this mean?

For most earners making between $250,000 and $500,000 a year, the Obama plan would increase income tax liability by just a few hundred dollars — an average of $600, according to the Center for Economic and Policy Research’s Dean Baker.

Is this what the GOP is fighting for?  So that people unaffected by the recession can save $600 per year, while the country slips deeped into a deficit?

Socioeconomic Warfare

Rush Limbaugh and his ilk like to accused progressives of starting a war against the rich.  It's silly rhetoric.  On the other hand, when I read things like this, I want to start a war against the rich:

Charles Munger, the billionaire vice chairman of Berkshire Hathaway Inc., defended the U.S. financial-company rescues of 2008 and told students that people in economic distress should “suck it in and cope.

“You should thank God” for bank bailouts, Munger said in a discussion at the University of Michigan on Sept. 14, according to a video posted on the Internet. “Now, if you talk about bailouts for everybody else, there comes a place where if you just start bailing out all the individuals instead of telling them to adapt, the culture dies.”

Bank rescues allowed the U.S. to avoid what could have been an “awful” downturn and will help the country as it deals with the housing slump, Munger, 86, said. He used the example of post-World War I Germany to explain how the bailouts under Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama were “absolutely required to save your civilization.”

Now, for the record, I was in favor of the bank bailout.  It was a necessary evil.  But can't these rich pricks be a little more humble about it?

She Weighs The Same As A Duck

Christine O'Donnell, the anti-masturbation anti-condom Tea Party candidate who was vaulted into the national spotlight when she ousted moderate Republican Mike Castle for the bid for Delaware's U.S. Senate seat, says she merely "dabbled" in witchcraft, and besides, it was in high school and it served as a learning experience for her.

Which, I suppose, is better than admitting it wasn't a learning experience for her.

This is a weird campaign season.

The Stewart/Colbert Rally On The Mall

Actually, it's two rallies competing against each other.  But it's October 30, whatever it is.

Rally

Awesome?  You bet. Here’s the website.  And the other website.

From the CSMonitor:

Mark your calendars. The Rally to Restore Sanity and the March to Keep Fear Alive will be held on Oct. 30 on the National Mall in Washington, DC.

And we’re pretty sure Glenn Beck has not been invited.

Last night, Comedy Central faux journalists Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert each made a “big announcement.”

First up to the plate was Jon Stewart.

In response to “the loud folks,” such as the Hitler-sign making folks, Stewart asks, “Why don’t we hear from the 70-80 percenters?” – the majority of Americans who don’t have extreme political views.

Enter the Rally to Restore Sanity.

“A million moderate march…a clarion call for rationality!” Stewart exclaimed.

With the motto of “Take it down a notch for America,” Stewart is offering to provide signs with the “appropriate” level of political emotion, such as “I disagree with you, but I’m pretty sure you’re not Hitler.”

You could also go with “I am not afraid of Muslims/Tea Partiers/Socialists/Immigrants/Gun Owners/Gay…but I am scared of Spiders.”

To counter Stewart’s Rally to Restore Sanity and to restore “truthiness,” Stephen Colbert announced his own rally: The March the Keep Fear Alive.

Calling Stewart’s announcement “disturbing,” Colbert says he will “not take it down a notch,” saying that “Now is the time for all good men to freak out for freedom!”

And, “Need I point out that ‘reason’ is one letter away from ‘treason?’” Colbert asks.

Wish I could go.

Dino

From The Hill:

 

The following Democrats have come out in support of extending all of the George W. Bush-era tax cuts. A full extension of the tax cuts would include those individuals making more than $200,000 and families making more than $250,000. This list will be updated as more members make their position known.
House:
Mike Ross (Ark.)
Ann Kirkpatrick (Ariz.)
Harry Mitchell (Ariz.)
Jim Costa (Calif.)
John Salazar (Colo.)
Jim Himes (Conn.)
Allen Boyd (Fla.)
Ron Klein (Fla.)
John Barrow (Ga.)
Sanford Bishop Jr. (Ga.)
Jim Marshall (Ga.)
Walt Minnick (Idaho)
Melissa Bean (Ill.)
Joe Donnelly (Ind.)
Brad Ellsworth (Ind.)
Frank Kratovil (Md.)
Gary Peters (Mich.)
Travis Childers (Miss.)
Mike McIntyre (N.C.)
Earl Pomeroy (N.D.)
Harry Teague (N.M.)
Mike McMahon (N.Y.)
Zack Space (Ohio)
Dan Boren (Okla.)
Jason Altmire (Pa.)
Stephanie Herseth Sandlin (S.D.)
Jim Cooper (Tenn.)
Lincoln Davis (Tenn.)
Jim Matheson (Utah)
Rick Boucher (Va.)
Gerry Connolly (Va.)
Glenn Nye (Va.)
Senate:
Joe Lieberman (Conn.), an Independent who caucuses with Democrats
Evan Bayh (Ind.)
Ben Nelson (Neb.)
Kent Conrad (N.D.)
Jim Webb (Va.)

 

I find myself in agreement with the folks at Sadly, No, with their message to Democratic politicians who want the uber-wealthy to have tax cuts:

If, in the middle of the worst economy in a lifetime, with unemployment and poverty at toxic levels, you can’t bring yourself to tell the most privileged amongst us that they ought to resume chipping in a couple of percentage points more at the top marginal rate, why even call yourself a Democrat?

This country really is going to the dogs. And it’s being pushed in that direction by wealth disparity that is third-worldish in its propensity for beating down the psyches of the have-nots — only our national mythology of studiously denying that the vast majority of have-nots (including you!) are in fact never-wills prevents the whole thing from crumbling. That and the insidious creep throughout society over the past 40 years of the Randian philosophy of selfishness, rich people worship and the attendant calculated purging of empathy from the citizenry.

I'm fairly certain that many of the Dinos listed above are facing tough races in their respective districts, and that's why they feel they have to come out in favor of tax cuts for the rich.

Except they don't.  A recent CBS poll finds that 53 percent of respondents now favor having the nation’s top earners contribute a little bit more to the country that made them so fabulously wealthy.  A good politician should be able to make this argument convincingly.  All you need is a graph, like this:

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Point being that the uber-wealthy have done just fine — thank you very much — over the past 30 years.  The Top 1% has more than tripled its income (300%) with fairly steady growth since 1980. The middle and lower classes have seen only about a 15% increase in real income with all of those gains coming after the early 90s.

That's an easy thing for voters to understand.  So tell me, why shouldn't we keep taxes only slightly higher for those in the top income brackets?

UPDATE:  Gotta give props to The Rude Pundit:

In Fort Myers, Florida, the Salvation Army reports a 60% jump in families seeking its services.

In Tucscon, Arizona, a local soup kitchen has seen the number of people it serves nightly go from an 40 to 150-200.

In the last year, in Livingston County, Michigan, the number of people looking for food and cash assistant has risen by over 30%. In Jackson County, it's up over 24%.

In Texas, more than one out of every four kids under the age of 18 lives in poverty. That's higher than the national average of one out of every five. And over a quarter of the entire state is without health insurance. Charities there report 25-50% more demand for food and assistance since 2008.

In Steuben County, New York, homelessness has risen by 15% since 2009. And Catholic Charities says that it's serving 33% more people than last year.

In Minnesota, "At Families Moving Forward, a Minneapolis network of churches offering shelter to families with children, the number of calls for housing has shot up from 50 for every opening to 150."

According to the census, the poverty rate in the United States has risen from 13.2% in 2008 to 14.3% in 2009. For those of you doing math, that's one out of every seven Americans. Income has fallen. The number of people without health insurance has risen. Extended unemployment benefits are all that kept 3.3 million more people from falling below the cruel poverty line.

Oh, and by the way: "The top fifth of households accounted for 50.3% of all pre-tax income; the bottom two-fifths got 12%." When it comes to tax cuts and discretionary spending cuts, we're arguing about what now?

Joaquin Phoenix Was Acting

First, he grew a huge beard.  Then, he imploded on David Letterman back on 2/11/09, announcing in a bizarre mumbly voice that he was quitting acting to become a rapper:

 

Now he's the subject of a documentary by Casey Affleck entitled I'm Still Here.

Except, it's not a documentary.  It's fiction.  As was the Letterman appearance and Pheonix's behavior. From the NYT:

CASEY AFFLECK wants to come clean.

His new movie, “I’m Still Here,” was performance. Almost every bit of it. Including Joaquin Phoenix’s disturbing appearance on David Letterman’s late-night show in 2009, Mr. Affleck said in a candid interview at a cafe here on Thursday morning.

“It’s a terrific performance, it’s the performance of his career,” Mr. Affleck said. He was speaking of Mr. Phoenix’s two-year portrayal of himself — on screen and off — as a bearded, drug-addled aspiring rap star, who, as Mr. Affleck tells it, put his professional life on the line to star in a bit of “gonzo filmmaking” modeled on the reality-bending journalism of Hunter S. Thompson.

“I’m Still Here” was released last week by Magnolia Pictures to scathing reviews by a number of critics, including Roger Ebert, who wrote that the film was “a sad and painful documentary that serves little useful purpose other than to pound another nail into the coffin.”

“The reviews were so angry,” said Mr. Affleck, who attributed much of the hostility to his own long silence about a film that left more than a few viewers wondering what was real — The drugs? The hookers? The childhood home-movie sequences in the beginning? — and what was not.

Virtually none of it was real. Not even the opening shots, supposedly of Mr. Phoenix and his siblings swimming in a water hole in Panama. That, Mr. Affleck said, was actually shot in Hawaii with actors, then run back and forth on top of an old videocassette recording of “Paris, Texas” to degrade the images.

“I never intended to trick anybody,” said Mr. Affleck, an intense 35-year-old who spoke over a meat-free, cheese-free vegetable sandwich on Thursday. “The idea of a quote, hoax, unquote, never entered my mind.”

Still, he acknowledged that Mr. Letterman was not in on the joke when Mr. Phoenix, on Feb. 11, 2009, seemed to implode his own career by showing up in character as a mumbling, aimless star gone wrong.

Unfortunately, the rest of the article focuses on what Casey Affleck is doing next, and not so much Joaquin.

I Want To Be A Producer….

Producing Broadway shows ain't cheap.  And typically, the minimal investment is $10,000 at the lowest.  Most shows have units of investment in the neighborhood of $25,000, and some even as high as $100,000.

The Broadway revival of Godspell is trying something different.  They want this to be a "community-investment" show, meaning that you can buy a "unit" of the show for $100.  (Bit of a catch though — the minimum number of units an investor can by is ten, so really, it comes out to a $1,000 minimum investment).

Interested?  Go here.

The O’Donnell Victory

Well, it may seem counterintuitive that Democrats are cheering the victory of Tea Party-backed candidate Christine O'Donnell as the GOP candidate as US Senator for Delaware, but that's what they are doing.  

Christine O'Donnell, a perennial candidate running on a platform of fiscal conservatism (despite having had tons of personal financing problems) defeated incumbent GOP senator Mike Castle, in a victory which stunned politicians and pundits alike.  Tea Partiers rejoiced.  But not as much as Democrats rejoiced.

The problem is that O'Donnell is so fringe that she's not likely to get the vote of independents in the general election.  In fact, she's not likely to get a lot of Republican votes.  Which means that Democratic candidate might be able to take the Senate seat away from the Republicans, something you won't find happening much in this upcoming election.

How fringe is O'Donnell?  Here she is on MTV in the 1990's, doing what she does:

 

I really like that last line of hers. This is why she doesn't like masturbation:

If he already knows what pleases him and can please himself, then why am I in the picture?

Because, apparently, her only purpose in the relationship is to provide a little friction, and the only way she can improve on her man's experience is by keeping him ignorant. So yes, why is she in the picture?

The following year, while representing SALT on C-SPAN, O'Donnell argued that people with AIDS didn't deserve to be called "victims." A guy called in to say that he had a hard time feeling sorry for people with AIDS because their disease was their own fault. In his opinion, feeling sorry people with AIDS was like feeling sorry for "bank robbers who get shot in the head" while they're robbing banks. "He makes an excellent point," O'Donnell replied.

She's also argued against coed college dorms, insisting that they could lead to "orgy rooms" and "menage a trois rooms."

But that's the tip of the iceberg.  In 1998, while O’Donnell was a guest on Politically Incorrect with Bill Maher, she espoused the virtues of telling the truth.  Very commendable, until comedian Eddie Izzard pressed her on just how far she would take her anti-lying beliefs. Izzard asked O’Donnell whether or not she would lie to Nazis who showed up at her door during WWII and demanded to know if she were hiding any Jewish people in her house. O’Donnell refused to even entertain the notion of concealing the truth from Nazis in that scenario because “you never have to practice deception”:

O’DONNELL: A lie, whether it be a lie or an exaggeration, is disrespect to whoever you’re exaggerating or lying to, because it’s not respecting reality.

MAHER: Quite the opposite, it can be respect.

IZZARD: What if someone comes to you in the middle of the Second World War and says, ‘do you have any Jewish people in your house?’ and you do have them. That would be a lie. That would be disrespectful to Hitler.

O’DONNELL: I believe if I were in that situation, God would provide a way to do the right thing righteously. I believe that!

MAHER: God is not there. Hitler’s there and you’re there.

O’DONNELL: You never have to practice deception. God always provides a way out.

Nice.  At the end of the show, O’Donnell also proclaimed that “we took the Bible and prayer out of public schools, now we’re having weekly shootings practically."  Right.  That's why.

She's not a big fan of evolution either:

CHRISTINE O'DONNELL: Well, creationism, in essence, is believing that the world began as the Bible in Genesis says, that God created the Earth in six days, six 24-hour periods. And there is just as much, if not more, evidence supporting that [than evolution].

Oooookay.

Fun quotes about HBO series while on Hardball on June 20, 2003:

"[T]he thing that attracts people to The Sopranos is the family element. It shows that America still has a longing for that traditional upbringing."

She added, regarding Sex and the City, "It's not taking into the account the physical destruction of going from one man to the other, spreading disease, spreading AIDS. It doesn't take into account your emotions."

And it doesn't look like the GOP is going to unify behind the Tea Party.  Loser Mike Castle has said he won't endorse O'Connell.  Heck, even Karl Rove can't support her.

The O'Donnell win is being called a GOP nightmare.

Benen's take on the Frankenstein's monster created by the GOP:

These voters have been told by their party not to compromise or settle for partial victories. There's just too much at stake, they're told. Evil forces are trying to take your country away.

Easily misled and manipulated people bought into this rhetoric. They've come to believe it's their responsibility to elect radical ideologues who'll save us from impending doom. Sensible people with last names like Castle, Crist, Specter, Bennett, Murkowski, and Inglis were insufficiently right-wing, so they were cast aside.

These activists have been fed red meat that's been tainted without their knowledge — and now those who did the tainting are frustrated when the activists end up sick.

There's a limit to this, of course. Republicans are still poised to have an exceptionally good election cycle, and many of the lunatic candidates who've won primaries without the party's backing are very likely to win anyway.

But stepping back, even with the GOP's expected gains in mind, Republicans' carefully-executed strategy will leave them with (a) fewer wins than they would have had; (b) a smaller, more extreme party; (c) a base that's been taught to reject any and all compromises; and (d) a party incapable of governing effectively.

RELATED: It's not just Delaware.  Last night, New York’s Republicans picked Carl Paladino to run for governor against Andrew Cuomo.  Carl’s the guy who sent around hardcore pornographic and racist emails on a teabagger mailing list.

Fake Outrage From One Year Ago: An Update

What topic was the GOP and teapartiers up in arms about a year ago?  Anyone remember?

That's right — the fact that Obama was going to be making a speech in front of schoolchildren in Philadelphia, a speech to be live telecast to kids throughout the nation.   According to the right wing at the time, it was part of Obama's plan to "indoctrinate" our kids.  I blogged about it here.

6a00d834515b2069e20120a5ae689b970c-500wi

Are we any further along in having reasonable "controversies"?

I suspect not.  And I suspect our Kenyan 'anti-colonialist,' Joker-faced socialistHitler-mustachioed,detached and aloofanointed president would agree with me.

But there is this interesting twist:

The man who led the charge against Obama last year is not only facing corruption charges, but he is welcoming the speech and charging his party with racism.

"In the year since I issued a prepared statement regarding President Obama speaking to the nation's schoolchildren, I have learned a great deal about the party I so deeply loved and served," said Jim Greer, the former Florida state party chairman in a written statement, per the Miami Herald. "Unfortunately, I found that many within the GOP have racist views and I apologize to the President for my opposition to his speech last year and my efforts to placate the extremists who dominate our party today. 

So, there is hope…

Sarah Palin Quote Of The Day

From her 9/11 rally in Alaska (via Blue Texan)

"This Statue of Liberty was gifted to us by foreign leaders, really as a warning to us, it was a warning to us to stay unique and to stay exceptional from other countries. Certainly not to go down the path of other countries that adopted socialist policies," Palin said to cheers from the crowd.

WTF?

The French gave us the statue in the 18th century to warn us against becoming socialist?  I mean, is there any evidence of this at all, seeing as how most people had never even heard of "socialism" at the time?

I just love how these teabaggers write their own history.

How To Make Sure Your Worldview Stays Limited

If you're a Christian and don't want to be exposed to anything besides Christianity, don't search things on Google.  Try seekfind:

SeekFind.org is a unique “Christian-content-only” search engine. The major search engines such as GoogleYahooMSN, and Ask often produce quality results for searches related to Christian terms. However, mixed in with these search results will be results from pages attacking the Christian faith and/or presenting unbiblical views. For example, a search for “Jesus Christ” at Google will result in page 1 listings from the Mormon church, a genealogical service, and a secular history of views about Jesus.

There are several Christian Search Engines on the internet as well. Good examples are ChristianStart, CrossSearch, and ChristSites. While these are good websites with some great tools – they are not as discerning as they should be in regards to what kind of content they allow in their listings. Further, most Christian Search Engines only index the front page of a website. As a result, all of the great content on inside pages of websites gets missed entirely.

SeekFind.org avoids these problems by only indexing websites that are Biblically-based, theologically-sound, and in agreement with our Statement of Faith. That way, you can have confidence that you will find content which will be God-honoring and spiritually encouraging. Further, the SeekFind.org “spider” crawls every page of the websites in our index – giving you the most complete and most accurate results possible.

The mission of SeekFind.org is to provide God-honoring, Biblically-based, and theologically-sound Christian information in a highly accurate and well-organized format.

Great for homework, kids!

It’s A Bird — Nay, A Plane — Nay, It’s…..

Superbug!  And it's going to kill us all:

BOSTON, Massachusetts (AFP) – A new superbug from India thought to be resistant to nearly every known antibiotic poses a global threat, scientists warned Monday, urging health authorities to track the bacteria.

"There is an urgent need, first, to put in place an international surveillance system over the coming months and, second, to test all the patients admitted to any given health system" in as many countries as possible, said Patrice Nordmann of France's Bicetre Hospital.

"For the moment, we don't know how fast this phenomenon is spreading… it could take months or years, but what is certain is that is will spread," he told AFP, noting that measures have already been agreed in France and are under discussion in Japan, Singapore and China.

"It's a bit like a time bomb."

I’m There!

What's this?

NEW WAVE PRESENTS
Special 25th Anniversary Screening
The Breakfast Club
Monday, September 20
At The Paris Theatre
4 West 58th Street

The high-school classic—the most famous detention session in movie history! In person: Anthony Michael Hall, Judd Nelson, Molly Ringwald, and Ally Sheedy. The post-screening panel discussion will be moderated by Kevin Smith. Immediately following the event, there will be an afterparty at Good Units, Hudson, 356 West 58th Street. 

How cool!

Please note: This event is sold out. Thank you. 

Dammit.

It Was Very Insensitive Of The World Trade Center To Have A Muslim Prayer Room At Ground Zero

NYT:

Sometime in 1999, a construction electrician received a new work assignment from his union. The man, Sinclair Hejazi Abdus-Salaam, was told to report to 2 World Trade Center, the southern of the twin towers.

In the union locker room on the 51st floor, Mr. Abdus-Salaam went through a construction worker’s version of due diligence. In the case of an emergency in the building, he asked his foreman and crew, where was he supposed to reassemble? The answer was the corner of Broadway and Vesey.

Over the next few days, noticing some fellow Muslims on the job, Mr. Abdus-Salaam voiced an equally essential question: “So where do you pray at?” And so he learned about the Muslim prayer room on the 17th floor of the south tower.

He went there regularly in the months to come, first doing the ablution known as wudu in a washroom fitted for cleansing hands, face and feet, and then facing toward Mecca to intone the salat prayer.

On any given day, Mr. Abdus-Salaam’s companions in the prayer room might include financial analysts, carpenters, receptionists, secretaries and ironworkers. There were American natives, immigrants who had earned citizenship, visitors conducting international business — the whole Muslim spectrum of nationality and race.

Leaping down the stairs on Sept. 11, 2001, when he had been installing ceiling speakers for a reinsurance company on the 49th floor, Mr. Abdus-Salaam had a brief, panicked thought. He didn’t see any of the Muslims he recognized from the prayer room. Where were they? Had they managed to evacuate?

He staggered out to the gathering place at Broadway and Vesey. From that corner, he watched the north tower collapse, to be followed soon by the south one. Somewhere in the smoking, burning mountain of rubble lay whatever remained of the prayer room, and also of some of the Muslims who had used it.

Read the whole thing.

Link Between Anti-Muslim Sentiment and Opposition To The Park51 Mosque? You Bet.

They say they oppose the Park51 "mosque" in lower Manhattan out of "sensitivity for the 9/11 families", although (of course) many of the 9/11 families don't mind or care.  So what is the reason for the opposition?  Could there be some latent bigtory lurking just below the surface.

You betcha:

We now have clear evidence that there's a direct link between public anti-Islam sentiment and public opposition to the construction of Cordoba House, a.k.a. the "Ground Zero mosque."

The evidence can be found in the internals of the new Washington Post poll on Islam and the planned center, and it was provided to me by Post polling director Jon Cohen. The numbers directly contradict the claim by opponents that public opposition to the project is not linked to broader anti-Islam sentiment, and is only rooted in a desire to be sensitive to 9/11 families or to respect Ground Zero as hallowed ground.

The poll's toplines show that 66 percent of Americans oppose the Islamic center. Separately, a plurality, 49 percent, has generally unfavorable views of Islam.

But it's the intersection of these numbers revealed in the internals that proves the point.

Here's the rub: According to the internals sent my way, opposition to the "Ground Zero mosque" is overwhelmingly driven by those with an unfavorable view of Islam:

* Fifty-five percent of those who have favorable views of the religion say it should be built.

* Meanwhile, among those who have an unfavorable view of Islam, an overwhelming 87 percent say the project shouldn't be built, with 74 percent strongly opposed.

It gets even clearer when you look at the numbers in another way. If you take the 66 percent overall who oppose the project, it turns out that two thirds of those people have generally unfavorable views of Islam, versus only one-third who view Islam favorably.

Clearly, not all opponents of the project feel unfavorably towards Islam. But two-thirds of them do. Does it mean that anti-Islam attitudes are the direct cause of opposition to the project? Impossible to say. But it's overwhelmingly clear that there's a link between the two sentiments, no matter how often opponents tell you the contrary.

Why am I not surprised?

How To Handle The Qu’ran Burning Thing

Here's an idea… don't put a microphone in front of the lunatic preacher and his band of 50 followers who plan to ban hundreds of copies of the Qu'ran on 9/11.  Don't put a camera on his face.  Don't invite him on your news show to explain what he intends to do.

Well, I guess it's too late for that.  It's a little disconcerting how the modern media can turn an obvious lunatic into an international cause celebre (or anti-celebre) in only a few days.  Media critic Howard Kurtz, who correctly calls the story "substantially overplayed, with potentially dangerous consequences", has traced the timeline:

But how did we get to this point? The first national report I found was carried by Religious News Service on July 21. On Aug. 26, the New York Times reported that Jones planned to hold a bonfire of Korans because, he said, it is "full of lies." The story ran on Page 14. Not much happened.

But the story continued to bubble. On Monday, ABC's "Good Morning America" and "World News" aired pieces on the controversy. On Tuesday, David Petraeus said in a statement the Gainesville stunt could endanger American troops. That lit the fuse. The story exploded, especially on cable.

And of course, with international calls for the United States to squelch the Qu'ran burning, and assessments by the FBI and CIA that the Qu'ran-burning will foment a terrorist response (as well as serve as a terrorist recruitment tool), all of a sudden we actually have a legitimate news story.  Lovely.

Okay, so what to do?

Well, many countries want the U.S. government to step in and stop the burning from happening.  Newsflash, folks.  That's not going to happen.  We have free speech here, which means that idiots get to speak, too, even if it is offensive.

The best solution?  I have it.  Not that anyone will listen.

It's often said that the best solution to offensive (yet free) speech is more speech.  So let's speak out against it in a grandiose way.  Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin, John McCain, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden, and Barack Obama should make a joint appearance and state bluntly that this Paster Terry Jones guy (as opposed to the funny one) is a wacko.  And use that word, too — "wacko".  Make it into a Youtube video.  Let the world know that we know he's an idiot, and Arab nations shouldn't give him power and legitimacy by being offended at what he does.

That's my solution.

P.S.  This pastor is crazier than you might think.

Oh, Yeah — The Rapture Is Happening Today

So says the website 2010rapture.org.  Not sure when, maybe 9 in the morning Jerusalem time, which would be late tonight our time (I think).  Anyway, they're being cagy about it.  Best keep your eyes open throughout the whole day.

UPDATE:  Oh, crap….

(CNN) – A small asteroid passed within the moon's distance from the Earth on Wednesday morning, and another will do likewise later in the day, space watchers say.

The double encounter is an unusual event that shows the need for closer monitoring of near space for Earth-threatening encounters, according to NASA.

 

The News You Won’t Read

Last week, a major story covered by all the major media outlets was the weekly Gallup poll showing that Republicans were 10 points up over Democrats in the tracking of congressional voting preferences.  That was the highest in a decade we were told.  And it meant DOOOOM for Democrats in the upcoming congressional races.

EVERYBODY said so.

Except….

it's a weekly poll, and look where it is this week:

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Even.

So what conclusion can be made?  Probably that this poll doesn't mean a lot.

But the news won't tell you that.

Polls and the Upcoming Elections

Kevin Drum highlights some of the results from the latest Washington Post poll:

Blog_wapo_poll_2010_09_06

Okay, let's summarize. 

Americans trust Democrats more to handle the country's problems.  Americans think Democrats represent their values better.  Americans think Democrats are more concerned with the needs of people like them, and they think Democrats deserve to be reelected at a higher rate than Republicans.

So who will most Americans vote for in the upcoming elections?

Republicans.

Go figure.

P.S. Tom Toles is a genius:

C_09072010

Yes, Let’s Just Federalize Manhattan

TPMMuckraker:

Newt Gingrich… said he wants the national government to step in and stop the developers from building the Islamic community center by whatever means necessary.

"I think the Congress has the ability to declare the area a national battlefield memorial because I think we should think of the World Trade Center as a battlefield site; this is a war," he said, apparently thinking that if Ground Zero was a national park, Park51 would be restricted from building near it.

I guess big federal government isn't all that bad, eh, Newt?  Especially when it can come in and seize private property in order to squelch religious freedom?  Why, that is just what the Founders would have envisioned!

Marriage and Hurricane Survival Tips

I've combined them…
  • Quickly find shelter atop nearest roof, tree or pier.
  • The best way to ensure a long-lasting marriage is to keep your individual needs out of it.
  • Run through torrents of rain screaming, "I warned you all!" while clutching placards emblazoned with apocalyptic Bible verses.
  • Treat your partner with respect. Don't hit him/her in front of relatives.
  • A good relationship leaves room for outside interests. Be supportive of your spouse's rough-sex-with-the-mailman hobby.
  • At first signs of hurricane weather, rush to Food Lion to stock up on 64-ounce containers of Ocean Spray Cranapple or Crangrape juice, just $2.79 when you present your Food Lion Supersaver card.
  • Cranking out another child is a great way to bring you and your spouse closer together.
  • No matter how bad hurricane gets, don't let Mr. Government Man make you leave your house.
  • Never go to bed angry. Stay awake and scream at each other for 24 hours, 36 hours—however long it takes.
  • Always speak to spouse in soothing, patronizing tones.
  • Detonating homemade bombs fashioned from gasoline and manure is dangerous even in ideal weather conditions. Steer especially clear of such detonations throughout the duration of hurricane.
  • Take out your marital problems on your young children.
  • To minimize risk of hurricane damage, avoid building vacation home atop ocean.
  • Communication is the key to a good marriage. Be sure your spouse knows every last little thing you hate about him/her.
  • Tell your children firmly and clearly, "I'm so sorry that we're all going to die."
  • Sit down with your spouse and work out a diet that will allow you to get big and fat together.
  • To protect yourself from storm, build up your inner defense mechanisms by slowly retreating into state of deep denial.
  • If your marriage is truly in jeopardy, stay in touch with your phone psychic at all times.
  • Countless conflicts can be avoided by walking out on your family for years at a time.
  • At the height of the storm's intensity, go at it with your spouse like there's no tomorrow. Not only is it the thrill of a lifetime, but the heightened reflexes caused by your enhanced physical state will better enable both of you to survive in the event of a sudden catastrophic, explosive decompression of your home.
  • In a two-job household, both careers need to be considered, even if one is some silly little woman endeavor.
  • Stay on top of situation by keeping tuned to Channel 8's SuperAtmoForecastTeam with live Doppler Radar.
  • One common myth states that hitting is no way to solve a marital dispute, but studies show this is not always the case.
  • Save urine in jars.
  • If you sense that your marriage is growing stale, accept it and live out the remainder of your days in unfulfilled misery and despair.
  • Whatever happens, remember: It's not your fault.

 

A Modern Day Fable

A popular guy goes to Washington D.C., where he tells 3 gazillion of his fans who have gathered there the following (and this is an exact quote): 

"I went to the National Archives and I held the first inaugural written in his own hand by George Washington."

You know, George Washington — who could never tell a lie.

Except, as many pointed out, it seems unlikely that the National Archives people would allow someone — anyone — to hold such a fragile (and historical) document.  Could it be that the popular guy was… well, not telling the truth?

Turns out, the popular guy was indeed lying.  He even admitted it later.

Now, this might be a nothing story except that the popular guy was speaking in Washington D.C. at an event he created, the point of which was how we can restore this country's honor by (wait for it) telling the truth!

Looks like "Restoring Honor" is off to a rough start, hmmmm?