Friday, March 31, 2006


"We cross our bridges when we come to them and burn them behind us, with nothing to show for our progress except a memory of the smell of smoke, and a presumption that once our eyes watered." --Tom Stoppard

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Media Blacks Out Mainstream Christians

FREDERICK CLARKSON, POLITICAL CORTEX - Are Christians being silenced? The question sounds like the perennial complaint from members of the Christian Right. But in fact, as specious as the Christian Right's complaints along these lines usually are, this one is different...

When the Sunday morning public affairs talk shows think about getting a Christian view on public affairs who do they call? According to Rev. Robert Chase, Director of Communications for the 1.3 million member United Church of Christ, over the past 8 years the Sunday network public affairs shows have interviewed political leaders of the religious right 36 times, and leaders of mainline Christian denominations such as the United Church of Christ, United Methodist Church, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A), American Baptist Church, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, African Methodist Episcopal Church, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church, Reformed Church in America, the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, among others -- exactly zero times.

"Increasingly," Chase added at a national news conference, "millions of U.S. Christians have grown weary of having their more-inclusive, more-progressive values silenced." . . . The UCC's complaint that the networks are silencing mainstream religious voices does not stop there. They are also having trouble with the advertising departments of the networks. The church is currently engaged in a multiyear outreach campaign that includes television advertising. But unless you have cable you won't get to see their new ad -- because the networks won't run them. . . ABC, CBS, NBC and FOX, reports Religion News Service, deemed them "too controversial."

"The 30-second "Ejector" ad features several people -- a black woman, a gay couple, a Middle Eastern man, an elderly man in a walker -- who are ejected from their church pews. "God doesn't reject people," the ad says. "Neither do we." The new ad, which cost about $1.5 million to make, will debut on April 3, but not on ABC, NBC, CBS or Fox. The three networks rejected the commercial as an inappropriate "advocacy" ad because of its references to homosexuality, race and ethnicity. Last year, the networks rejected a similar ad featuring bouncers behind a velvet rope keeping various people out of a church. "The message of the commercial is simple," the Rev. John Thomas, the UCC's general minister and president, said Monday (March 27). "No matter who you are, or where you are on life's journey, you are welcome here at the United Church of Christ." Thomas said he found it "odd and bewildering" that the ads would be rejected.

Chase says that the exclusion of mainstream religious perspectives in the news media is a "trend we have been witnessing for decades." [more...]

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Michael & Logan

My cousin Renee's twins, born Thursday night.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Incentive Program Improves Inmate Behavior

MARK WARD, BBC NEWS - Oregon's prison system in the US is turning to computer games to help rehabilitate felons. Inmates who have a clean disciplinary record for 18 months are being given a chance to buy a small handheld game console. The gadget has 50 simple games onboard that can be played through small TVs fixed in cells...

The game gadgets, made by technology firm DreamGear, have been introduced to Oregon's correctional system as part of a larger incentive system that starts to help prepare prisoners for life outside jail... This was important, said Mr Damon, because 95% of the state's prisoners will eventually return to the community.

The game gadgets were part of the so-called quality of life incentives that try to make prisoners "gravitate toward the pro-social behaviours critical to successful transition back to the community".

Statistics show that trouble in Oregon's state prisons has declined following the introduction of the gadget incentives. Over the past three years the incidence of misconduct reports, assaults on warders and fights between inmates has declined, even though the numbers of prisoners has increased.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

MO House OKs birth control funding ban

Kansas manages to annoy me; Missouri just pisses me off. More hatred against low-income women and children...

KIT WAGAR, THE KANSAS CITY STAR - The Missouri House voted Wednesday to ban state funding of contraceptives for low-income women and to prohibit state-funded programs from referring those women to other programs. Critics jumped on the proposal, saying it would lead to more abortions and more unwanted children on welfare.

But the proposal’s sponsor, Republican Rep. Susan Phillips of Kansas City, said contraceptive services were an inappropriate use of tax dollars. “If doctors want to give contraception privately or personally, they can,” Phillips said. “But we don’t need to pay for contraception with taxpayer funds.”

The change was the most controversial amendment adopted during the second day of debate on next year’s state budget. The Republican majority also turned back several efforts to boost funding for health-care programs by trimming farm and agribusiness subsidies.

Phillips’ amendment did not save the state money. Instead, it imposed restrictions on how state agencies could spend $9.23 million earmarked for public-health programs, mainly for people who are poor but make too much money to qualify for Medicaid.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Facts About Me

"Borrowed" from Sam.

When I was five: I was afraid of the muppet aliens on Sesame Street.

My mother told me: a story about a big machine that cuts down trees.

There's this girl I know who: aced her boards today.

I lost: my way - and then... my hope.

Last night: I thanked Marlee for an 8th grade dance.

Once I dreamt: that I couldn't remember my phone number. It was pretty dramatic. Seriously.

When I listen to music: I fidget to the beat.

Last time I was drunk: I can't remember (interpret that how you will).

Days until my birthday: 311 or so.

If I was a character written by Shakespeare I'd be: Henry VIII (everybody sing! "I'm Hennnnery the eighth I am, Hennnery the eighth I am, I am....").

By this time next year: I'll be even more exhausted than I am now? Depressed? Happy? Dead? Cleaning the toenails of a manatee? Who knows?

I have a hard time understanding: most everything.

You know I like you if: I.. umm.. sleep with you? I'd say that's a fairly good measure.

If I won an award, the first person I'd thank is: the guy handing me the award.

Take my advice: you should've turned left back there.

My ideal breakfast is: fried eggs, toast, and slices of a freshly cut orange.

If you visit my hometown: you'll see a place I hardly recognize anymore.

Why won't anyone: stand out to me?

I'd stop my wedding if: the bride didn't show up.

The world could do without: Vandellia cirrhosa (well, not really - but it still gives me the willies).

My favourite blonde is: this is a retarded question.

Paper clips are more useful than: empty shampoo bottles, which I have a tendency of accumulating.

And by the way: Al & Russ are my personal favorites at the moment.

The animals I would like to see flying besides birds are: spaghetti monsters and grizzly bears (because how kick ass would that be?).

Random fact: I'm still winning.

I secretly: wish I could stop being so cynical.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

University Sends Depressed Student in Hospital Expulsion Order, Bans Him from Returning to Campus

SUSAN KINZIE, WASHINGTON POST - About 2 a.m. one sleepless night, sophomore Jordan Nott checked himself into George Washington University Hospital. He was depressed, he said, and thinking about suicide. Within a day and a half of arriving there, he got a letter from a GWU administrator saying his "endangering behavior" violated the code of student conduct. He faced possible suspension and expulsion from school, the letter said, unless he withdrew and deferred the charges while he got treatment. In the meantime, he was barred from campus.

"It was like a stab in the back," he said. He felt they were telling him, "We're going to wipe our hands clean of you."

His response has college administrators around the country taking notice: Nott sued the university and individuals involved. . . In court documents filed this week, the university's attorneys defended the actions taken, denied that Nott was disabled and suggested that his conduct might bar his recovery. . .

GWU was Nott's dream school, he said recently. He'd always wanted to study foreign relations in Washington, he said, so after starting classes, making friends his freshman year and getting straight A's, he was the happiest he'd ever been. But it was a tough year for GWU, with several sudden student deaths. One evening in April, near the end of the semester, a freshman jumped from the fifth floor of a dorm.

He was one of Nott's closest friends; they had planned to room together sophomore year. When he jumped, the complaint says, Nott and two others were trying to open his locked door to help. In fall 2004, when Nott came back to school, he started feeling depressed, he said. He kept thinking about how his friend had died. In September, another student committed suicide. Nott began going to the University Counseling Center, he said. He began taking psychiatric drugs and told counselors he thought about suicide but would not act on it, according to the complaint, and he did not attempt suicide.

In the hospital, one of the letters he received suggested that he could withdraw to defer the charges. He decided not to argue his case at a school judicial hearing to be held two days after he left the hospital, he said, worried that an effort to fight the charges would fail and leave him with a permanent black mark, an expulsion or suspension, on his transcript.

He withdrew, went home to Upstate New York, he said, missing his friends and worried that he had ruined his education. Weeks later, he waited for his father and friends to lug things down from his dorm because, he said, he had been told he could be arrested for trespassing. If he had known, he said, he never would have gone to the hospital.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Missouri To Become a Theocracy

Things that make my head want to explode for a thousand, Alex?

JOHN MILLS, KMOV 4 - Missouri legislators in Jefferson City [are considering] a bill that would name Christianity the state's official "majority" religion... The resolution would recognize "a Christian god," and it would not protect minority religions, but "protect the majority's right to express their religious beliefs."

The resolution also recognizes that, "a greater power exists," and only Christianity receives what the resolution calls, "justified recognition."

State representative David Sater of Cassville in southwestern Missouri, sponsored the resolution, but he has refused to talk about it on camera or over the phone.

Hmm... Article I Section 7 of the Missouri Bill of Rights states:

That no money shall ever be taken from the public treasury, directly or indirectly, in aid of any church, sect or denomination of religion, or in aid of any priest, preacher, minister or teacher thereof, as such; and that no preference shall be given to nor any discrimination made against any church, sect or creed of religion, or any form of religious faith or worship.

Then there's that doo-hickey, what's it called? Oh, yeah... the First Amendment:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

But honestly, why should we be surprised? After all, look at Americans' area of expertise these days:

AP - Only one in four Americans can name more than one of the five freedoms guaranteed by the First Amendment (freedom of speech, religion, press, assembly and petition for redress of grievances.) But more than half can name at least two members of "The Simpsons," according to a survey. The study by the new McCormick Tribune Freedom Museum found that 22 percent of Americans could name all five Simpson family members, compared with just one in 1,000 people who could name all five First Amendment freedoms...

About one in five people thought the right to own a pet was protected.