Posts Tagged ‘Middle East Awakening

25
Apr
11

4.25.2011 … Easter Monday … Happy anniversary to many (so many post Lent weddings!) …

religion and spirituality, culture, academics:  Post Easter … really enjoyed this article.

To bring a little scientific order to the matter, researchers taking part in a multinational project called Explaining Religion have spent three years gathering data on various aspects of religious practice and on the sorts of moral behaviour that religions often claim to govern. The data-collection phase was wrapped up at the end of 2010, and the results are starting to be published.

At the moment, most students of the field would agree that they are still in the “stamp collecting” phase that begins many a new science—in which facts are accumulated without it being clear where any of them fit in. But some intriguing patterns are already beginning to emerge. In particular, the project’s researchers have studied the ideas of just deserts, of divine disapproval and of the nature of religious ritual.

One theory of the origin of religion is that it underpins the extraordinary capacity for collaboration that led to the rise of Homo sapiens. A feature of many religions is the idea that evil is divinely punished and virtue is rewarded. Cheats or the greedy, in other words, get their just deserts. The selflessness which that belief encourages might help explain religion’s evolution. But is the idea of universal just deserts truly instinctive, as this interpretation suggests it should be?

via Religious studies: The good god guide | The Economist.

culture, parenting, daughters, teenagers, kith/kin:  It is hard enough once they hit 15 or so … but at 7-12 … come on parents, do the right thing.  I took it as a very nice compliment when a friend who saw a picture of my daughter and said, “…good skin to dress ratio, Mom!!! My friends with girls say that is the hardest part about prom, finding a dress with the right ratio:)”  Thanks, Susra.

Yeah, that 8-year-old girl was something to see all right. … I hope her parents are proud. Their daughter was the sexiest girl in the terminal, and she’s not even in middle school yet.

In 2007, the American Psychological Association’s Task Force on the Sexualization of Girls issued a report linking early sexualization with three of the most common mental-health problems of girls and women: eating disorders, low self-esteem and depression. There’s nothing inherently wrong with parents wanting to appease their daughters by buying them the latest fashions. But is getting cool points today worth the harm dressing little girls like prostitutes could cause tomorrow?

A line needs to be drawn, but not by Abercrombie. Not by Britney Spears. And not by these little girls who don’t know better and desperately need their parents to be parents and not 40-year-old BFFs.

via Parents, don’t dress your girls like tramps – CNN.com.

parenting, bullying, culture:  Again, parents need to take their job seriously.  There is no excuse for bullying in the early years.  Parents must take responsibility.

Katie is donating many of the books and toys to other kids.

A fan created a Facebook event suggesting that people wear “Star Wars” gear on December 10 to support Katie. The Goldmans also asked participants to donate Star Wars toys to charities for the holidays. About 20,000 people have signed up.

“What strikes me is how these individuals who were once so isolated are now part of a very tight community,” Goldman wrote on her blog this month. “They have found each other; they are plugged into each other, and they have each other’s backs. Now they have Katie’s back, too.”

Katie isn’t doing any more interviews. There are scales to practice, Spanish words to memorize, baby sisters to play with. She still has to wear the dreaded eye patch, and eat lunch with the kids in her class. She is very busy being 7.

But on December 10, her school will host Proud To Be Me Day. Kids will be encouraged to wear something that shows what they’re interested in, whether it’s princesses, sports, animals and anime.

Katie will have the force of thousands behind her, and a “Star Wars” water bottle.

via ‘The Force’ is with you, Katie – CNN.com.

public spaces, places, NYC:  I think I may just take the night megabus to NYC and spend the day … any body want to go?

The great outdoors calls, and even without counting Central Park, there’s a great deal of it in New York City. There are more than 1,700 parks in the five boroughs, according to the city’s Department of Parks and Recreation. (Though with the 0.04 acre Septuagesimo Uno Park, on 71st Street between West End and Amsterdam Avenues, on that list, it’s a number best taken with a grain of asphalt.) Here, a baker’s dozen’s worth of sites to enjoy the warm weather, when it arrives.

via A Warm-Weather Guide to New York City – NYTimes.com.

culture, Benjamin Franklin, Jane Mecom (Benjamin Franklin’s sister), history:  Never knew old Ben had a sister … interesting story.

That world was changing. In 1789, Boston for the first time, allowed girls to attend public schools. The fertility rate began declining. The American Revolution made possible a new world, a world of fewer obstacles, a world with a promise of equality. That required — and still requires — sympathy.

Benjamin Franklin died in Philadelphia in 1790, at the age of 84. In his will, he left Jane the house in which she lived. And then he made another bequest, more lasting: he gave one hundred pounds to the public schools of Boston.

Jane Mecom died in that house in 1794. Later, during a political moment much like this one, when American politics was animated by self-serving invocations of the founders, her house was demolished to make room for a memorial to Paul Revere.

via Poor Jane’s Almanac – NYTimes.com.

college life, UVA, fraternities:  This story is troubling … but the solution proposed is too broad.

I had a miserable semester back at home, working in a department store and looking for somewhere else to go to school. But the truth was that I wanted to go to Virginia. I went back in the spring, and while few things have had as a profound an effect on my life as my UVA education, my deep mistrust of the fraternities limited the ways I engaged in life on campus and almost robbed me of the education itself.

If you want to improve women’s lives on campus, if you want to give them a fair shot at living and learning as freely as men, the first thing you could do is close down the fraternities. The Yale complaint may finally do what no amount of female outrage and violation has accomplished. It just might shut them down for good.

via Shutter Fraternities for Young Women’s Good | Home Land – WSJ.com.

Easter basket/candy, Peeps, Peep Show, Chilean Miner Rescue:  Another Peep contest!

This year’s winning diorama, which depicts the dramatic rescue of 33 mine workers in Copiapo, Chile, last October, is the work of Mary Jo Ondrejka from Reston; Bryn Metzdorf from Fairfax; and Margaret Hartka from Parkton, Md. A Peep version of miner Ariel Ticona meets his newborn daughter for the first time, while Peep Johnny Barrios Rojas is greeted by both his wife and mistress.

via Peeps Show V – The Washington Post.

hobbies, needlepoint, kith/kin:  My grandmother did needlepoint and I love every piece of work she did.  It is a beautiful art.

It wasn’t long ago that the word “needlepoint” conjured up thoughts of dusty cushions with fusty florals. But in recent years, thanks to a handful of retailers, designers and enthusiasts, the craft has become cool again.

via It’s not your grandmother’s needlepoint – The Washington Post.

science, physics, “God particle”:  Wow …

The world’s largest atom smasher is rumoured to have found the Higgs boson, the subatomic particle otherwise known as the ‘God particle’.

The speculation is based on a leaked internal note, said to be from physicists at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), a 17 mile-long particle accelerator near Geneva, Switzerland.

The rumours started when an anonymous post disclosed part of the note on Columbia University mathematician Peter Woit’s blog, Not Even Wrong.

Awestruck: An amateur photographer takes a picture during an open day at the 17 mile-long LHC atom smasher in Switzerland

While some physicists are dismissing the note as a hoax, others say the find could be a huge particle physics breakthrough in understanding the workings of the universe.

Physicist Sheldon Stone of Syracuse University said: ‘If it were to be real, it would be really exciting.’

More…

The genius who shrank the globe: Why after 70 years we should celebrate jet engine inventor Frank Whittle

The Higgs boson is predicted to exist by the particle physics theory known as the Standard Model. The Higgs boson, physicists believe, bestows mass on all the other particles and was crucial to forming the cosmos after the Big Bang.

via Science world buzzing over rumours elusive ‘God particle’ has been found | Mail Online.

Middle East Awakening, oil crisis, Chicago:  $4.27 in Chicago …

Chicago's at top as gas prices jump again

Chicago at top as gas prices jump

The average U.S. price of a gallon of gasoline has jumped about 12 cents over the past two weeks, and Chicagoans are paying the highest average price in the country. The Lundberg Survey of fuel prices puts the average price for a gallon of regular at $3.88, as of April 22. Chicago had the highest average price for gas at $4.27.

via Chicago Tribune: Chicago news, sports, weather and traffic – chicagotribune.com.

24
Apr
11

4.24.2011 … “Sing and Rejoice” … “Jesus Christ is Risen Today” … “Awake the Trumpet’s Lofty Sound” … “Alleluia, Alleluia! Give Thanks” … “In Christ there is no east or west, in Him no south or north; but one great fellowship of love throughout the whole wide earth.” … “The Day of Resurrection” … “Christ is Alive” … Hallelujah” … Again, Happy Easter!

Easter, faith and spirituality, worship, worship music, FPC:  The service was beautiful … I loved the music and feel blessed for the music ministry at our church … “Sing and Rejoice” … “Jesus Christ is Risen Today” … “Awake the Trumpet’s Lofty Sound” … “Alleluia, Alleluia! Give Thanks” … “In Christ there is no east or west, in Him no south or north; but one great fellowship of love throughout the whole wide earth.” … “The Day of Resurrection” … “Christ is Alive” … hallelujah” …
Easter, history, cultural history:

In The Mood for Easter

Long before the birth of 50-foot blow-up bunnies and AstroTurf egg hunts, people still gathered with the folks they loved most and celebrated Easter. Here, a look back.

via Easter: The Early Days – Photo Gallery – LIFE.

Easter, Bones, LOL, quotes, twitter:  From Hart Hanson, the producer of Bones:

Happy Easter. To quote Seeley Booth: “Jesus is not a zombie. I should not have to tell you that.” Temperance Brennan does not agree.

via (4) Twitter / Home.

Easter, cultural Easter, lists:

Top 10 Things You Didn’t Know About Easter

From dressing up as witches to burning effigies of politicians, the world holds many more Easter traditions than just dyeing eggs.

via Sweden’s Easter Witches – Top 10 Things You Didn’t Know About Easter – TIME.

Easter, cultural Easter, Easter baskets/candy, chocolate Easter bunny:  I think I start with the tail … be right back I’ll check!

Adults may be sneaking goodies from kids’ Easter baskets because they appear very knowledgeable about the best way to eat chocolate bunnies. Eating bunnies’ ears first won hands down. “Apparently, this is the most appropriate way to enjoy a chocolate bunny,” said Graham, who admits to eating bunnies’ ears first, himself. Of 1,000 adults surveyed, 76 percent said they start with the ears when they munch a chocolate bunny. Eating bunnies’ feet first (five percent) and tail first (four percent) were not popular choices.

via Taking a Bite Out of the Bunny: Ears Munched First According to Easter Survey – Press Relases – News & Hot Topics – NCA.

Easter, cultural Easter, Easter baskets/candy, Peeps:  This one is funny …

If bragging rights are more valuable than time and money, then Racheal Jones and Ramona Wesely, both of Dallas, and Kathleen Canedo of Oakton, Va., and Hillary Berman of Bethesda, Md., are on Easy Street.

The Texas duo made a mad dash from the Lone Star State to Chicago (arrived Thursday, back home Friday) to deliver their diorama, “Satine the Sparkling Peep from Moulin Peep,” in time for our judges’ panel to deem it their hands-down favorite.

Canedo and Berman made a more leisurely trip from the East Coast, blogging about and posting photos of their journey with their “Larry Peep Live on PNN” diorama in tow. The judges’ panel, comprising movie critic Michael Phillips, visual arts reporter Lauren Viera and theater critic Chris Jones, awarded Canedo and Berman No. 2 honors, once they stopped marveling at the detail of “Larry Peep’s” glasses and little suspenders.

via Peeps contest, Easter, Peeps diorama, – chicagotribune.com.

health, substance abuse, danger:  Alcohol wins … no big honor …

You may want to think twice before going to happy hour tonight.

Alcohol is more dangerous than heroin, crack cocaine, and methamphetamines, at least according to a new study published in The Lancet, a British medical journal.

The study, which was conducted on behalf of the Independent Scientific Committee on Drugs, evaluated the dangers that various drugs pose to the user’s mental and physical health, as well as the harm it may cause the community, in terms of crime and health care costs.

The researchers found that heroin and crack cocaine were the most harmful drugs to the person using them, but alcohol was the most harmful to the community, and overall, when all the factors were added up, alcohol ranked as the most dangerous drug with a score of 72. By comparison, heroin, the next highest, had a score of 55, and other drugs like tobacco, cannabis and LSD scored just a fraction of that.

via Alcohol: The Most Dangerous Drug | Food & Drink | Lifestyle | Mainstreet.

Notre Dame Cathedral, history, places, Paris, France, quotes:

… walk in as tourists, walk out as pilgrims …

The history of France’s Notre Dame Cathedral – CBS News Video.

4/20, Boulder, followup:  Didn’t find the Teague boys in the pictures … Whew.  4/20 in photos | CU Independent.

places, tourist attractions, Charlotte, 2012 DNC: If this is the best we can do, we are gong to have some bored dems.

This week’s Charlotte Business Journal features two Top 25 lists: the Area’s Top Tourist Attractions and North Carolina State Parks.

via Top of the List: Tourist Attractions, State Parks | Charlotte Business Journal.

Middle East awakening, Bahrain, Royal Wedding:  Verygracious of the prince … probably best for his monarchy, too.

Bahrain’s crown prince on Sunday declined an invitation to attend Prince William and Kate Middleton’s wedding, saying he did not want the Gulf nation’s unrest to tarnish the celebration.

Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa sent his regrets to Prince Charles after questions emerged over the British monarchy’s decision to invite a member of Bahrain’s Sunni ruling family, which has waged a wide-ranging crackdown against Shiite protesters calling for more freedoms.

Bahrain’s rulers have imposed martial law and are backed by a Saudi-led military force to try to quell the uprising. At least 30 people have died in Bahrain since mid-February, including four who died while in official custody, and many well-known activists and lawyers have been imprisoned.

The news helped to avoid a potentially awkward situation during the April 29 wedding. Campaigners in Britain complained when palace officials said Saturday that the prince was attending the nuptials, and some petitioned Foreign Secretary William Hague to revoke the invitation.

via Bahrain Crown Prince Declines Royal Wedding Invite – NYTimes.com.

random acts of violence, follow-up, Robert  Barber, FPC, obituary:  Mr. Barber was a member of FPC.  I did not know him or his wife, but his absence was felt at Easter worship today.

He and Barber were both retired colonels – a “couple of old military guys,” he said.

“We’d walk down the hallway, and I’d say, ‘You know, Bob, we’re in step,'” he said, laughing. “Old habits die hard.”

Brown and Barber were both members of the Rotary Club of Charlotte, where Brown said Barber took minutes and compiled newsletters.

“This man had not missed a Rotary meeting in 15 years,” Brown said.

He said Barber was devoted to his church, First Presbyterian in uptown, his profession and his family.

At work, Barber had a reputation as a skilled professional who could easily connect with his co-workers.

“He would work 80 hours a week if it meant turning around a community hospital,” Brown said.

Outside of work, Barber had many interests, including muscle cars, motorcycles and genealogy, Brown said.

“I think I’ve only known a couple of people in my life I’d consider Renaissance men,” Brown said. “Bob was one of them.”

via Witness heard victim’s lament after shooting | CharlotteObserver.com & The Charlotte Observer Newspaper.

 art, graphic art, Maira Kalman:  Maira’s take on the British war poster …

Keep Calm And Carry On | anything goes.

Maira Kalman, art, TED videosMaira Kalman | Profile on TED.com.

art, graphic art, Maira Kalman, interview: I just like this woman …

Are there places or things you avoid because they sap your creativity?

I avoid malls. They are deadly.

via Inspiration Boards: Maira Kalman.

computer art, math, Davidson College, Tim Chartier, random:

Tim Chartier at Davidson College has discovered that if you make things out of candy there’s no lack of volunteers to help you clean up. He takes images and transforms them mathematically into arrays of candy pieces. Here you can see President Obama, as rounded to the set of m&m color values. Mathematically, the algorithm picks the available color which is closest in red-green-blue-space to the average of the pixels it replaces.

via Make: Online | Math Monday: Candy Images.

Also see Math Movement – Sugar-coated CoM&Mander-in-Chief.

25
Feb
11

2.25.2011 … home … FL was nice … home is nicer …

democracy, US, Egyptian Uprising:

Mr Herbert wanted to say that American democracy is broken because it’s been hijacked by the rich. This is one of approximately five columns liberal pundits phone in when they are uninspired or feeling lazy. Not that you can sleepwalk through a phone-in! Oh, there’s work to do. First, you’ve got to find a piping hot news hook. This can be accomplished by staring at the headlines until you run across a word that also appears in one of your ready-made gotta-get-to-brunch op-ed templates. So, let’s see… Egyptians have cast out a dictator in hopes of one day establishing a democracy. Democracy! Rich people have hijacked our democracy! Then it’s just a matter of peppering the thing with au courant Pavlovian keywords: “corporate stranglehold”, “Citizens United decision”, “Koch brothers”. Finally, one must summon the energy to loop back to the hook. “The Egyptians want to establish a viable democracy, and that’s a long, hard road. Americans are in the mind-bogglingly self-destructive process of letting a real democracy slip away.” Boom! This is is how they do it in the bigs, folks.

None of this is to say that worries similar to Mr Herbert’s about the undue influence of money in politics are unworthy of a careful substantive response. I started this post intending to offer such a response. It just turns out that this particular column’s paint-by-numbers roteness slaps you in the face so hard that I couldn’t help concluding it doesn’t merit one.

via Phoning it in: The magic of Bob Herbert | The Economist.

Detroit, public art:  OK, I found this one funny …

It’s easy to imagine why Detroit’s powers-that-be might wish to distance themselves from a famous cinematic symbol of Detroit as a violent, crumbling dystopia. Indeed, a “crowd-sourced” $50,000 RoboCop statue may seem like a cruel practical joke played on the struggling city by heartless nerds. However, it’s possible to imagine how the project may seem to some as a glimmer of hope. If Detroit’s going to make a comeback, it will need a lot of this sort of bottom-up initiative and energy. If a cast-iron monument to RoboCop suggests resignation to Detroit’s decline, it also suggests the playful will to keep Detroit alive as an object of imagination, and in imagination there is hope. Plus, tourists! That’s all nice. But for now I suspect that here in the USA the coordinating functions of social sites such as Twitter, Facebook, and Kickstarter will be deployed more for the amusement of well-wired geeks than for initiatives that will actually help those suffering in hard-knock cities like Detroit.

via Crowd-sourcing recovery: Detroit, you have suffered an emotional shock. I will notify Kickstarter | The Economist.

happiness, Gretchen Rubin, book shelf, Margaret Roach:  I don’t think I have to leave home to find happiness. 🙂

I love reading accounts of other people’s happiness projects — whether it’s Thoreau moving to Walden Pond or Alisa Bowman working to save her marriage. So when I heard about Margaret Roach’s book, And I Shall Have Some Peace There: Trading in the Fast Lane for My Own Dirt Road, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it.

With my own happiness project, I never left my own neighborhood; for her happiness project, Margaret left New York City and a big job with Martha Stewart Omnimedia to move to upstate New York to reconnect with her first passion, gardening (she also has a very popular blog, A Way to Garden). Her account of what happened, and what she learned, is very powerful.

via The Happiness Project: “A Very Close Friend Says That I Am Not Type A, but AAA.”.

Middle East Awakening, Libya:  What next?

More than the relief at the crumbling of the institutions of repression is that of the policies of de-development. Despite its oil largesse, the east appears to be almost devoid of infrastructure aside from its oil industry. Oil is stored in gleaming modern depots while water stagnates in concrete dumps. The only ships docking at Torbuk’s jetties are tankers for export. Blackouts are commonplace. So dire is the health service that Libyans who have the means head to Egypt or Tunisia for treatment. An elderly teacher points out the spelling mistakes in the graffiti that are daubed across the town. Until recently, foreign languages were banned from the syllabus as “enemy tongues”. Few people anyway would have had the opportunity to practise them; talking politics with foreigners carried a three-year prison term.

via Libya in fragments: A new flag flies in the east | The Economist.

travel, airlines, Great Recovery:  Leading indicator of a recovery is whether the airlines can make a fare hike stick … interesting.

The bottom line here is the same one Gulliver has been spouting for weeks: any economic recovery is far from solid, and the business-travel recovery is even more tenuous than the improvement in the broader economy. Airlines are still having trouble raising their prices. In the short term, that’s good news for those of us who have jobs and are travelling—we’re travelling cheaper and better. But in the long term, a more solidly grounded recovery would be good news for all of us. When the airlines start being able to raise their prices without blinking, we’ll know we’re really on the road to recovery.

via Airline fare increases: The big airlines get cold feet | The Economist.

Vancouver BC, lists, superlatives, bucket list:  Most livable … I’d like to visit.

 

VANCOUVER remains the most liveable city in the world, according to the latest annual ranking compiled by the Economist Intelligence Unit. The Canadian city scored 98 out of a maximum 100, as it has done for the past two years.

via Liveability ranking: Where the livin’ is easiest | The Economist.

politics, WI:  I am not impressed with the elected officials leaving the state.

THE stalemate in Wisconsin has persisted partly because a group of Democratic senators have left Madison for Rockford, Illinois, where they apparently remain, laying low. Political theatre? Gross obstructionism? Regardless of where you stand on the budget bill, there’s something to admire in that the Democrats cared enough to bolt. Something similar happened in Texas in 2003, when Republicans in the state legislature were pushing a redistricting plan that would have heavily favoured Republicans:

“In most cases, breaking a quorum has resulted in a temporary victory but a longer-term defeat,” said Steve Bickerstaff, a University of Texas adjunct law professor and author of “Lines in the Sand,” about an incident in which more than 50 Texas Democratic legislators fled temporarily to Oklahoma, New Mexico and even Mexico in 2003.

via Wisconsin: The value of bolting | The Economist.

tv, Jeopardy, technology:  I, too, have fond memories of watching Jeopardy with my grandparents, my mother, even my sister.  I  did not watch the match with Watson … but I did follow the story on the news.  I think I will watch it if it replays.

I HAVE fond childhood memories of sitting on the floor of my grandmother’s house and watching “Jeopardy” with her and her sister-in-law, who remained the undisputed in-house champion of the game into her 90s.

Perhaps we can blame Hollywood for creating unrealistic expectations about computers. Watson is not about to become sentient and self-aware and send the ex-governor of California back through time. Nor is it likely to rename itself HAL and shut the pod bay door on us. (By the way, that urban legend about HAL and IBM isn’t true.) But read some of the commenters here and you get a sense of the disappointment. For example:

Watson is merely a powerful computer interpreting massive amounts of data, thanks to some sophisticated programming. By humans.

It’s fun to watch, but a breakthrough in machine intelligence? Hardly.

In the unique case of Watson, the correct response to its win should come quite easily to us, because it’s less a matter of admitting that we were bested by a computer, than of celebrating an advance in human programming. Of course, those human programmers could probably be considered members of the elite, but let’s not hold that against them.

via Jeopardy and IBM: Watson and our superiority complex | The Economist.




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