Thursday, May 31, 2007

Equal Rights & Suffrage For Apes?

According to a report given by John Berman, apes really can express their feelings. They really can express feelings of happiness, sadness, being scared, etc. Not only can they express their feelings, but they can utilize the english language to voice them and they can also understand your english diction. So be careful what you say when you are around them!

Berman states that he interviews a bonobo by the name of Kanzi. Kanzi utilizes a lexigram with 350 individual options and countles combos to communicate back with his human counterpart. The interview went suprisingly well for both of them; as this was the first time Berman interviewed an ape.

You can read more here.

Some questions:

-Your thoughts?
-What does this say about the capability that animals have?
-Does this challenge your thoughts on animals?
-Does this give animal right groups more ground to stand on?
-If you are religous, does this affect any of your beliefs?

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Google Goes Head to Head with Microsoft

Google Gears. Never heard of it? You will. It will one day be as known as Microsoft Office is today. A good thing? Opinions will come, but one thing is sure: it is open source (free*). You may have already used Google Docs and Spreadsheets or Google Reader, if you have you will note it is limited to when you are online. If there is no internet connection, you cannot use the programs. Google Gears has been developed to do away with that limitation and so much more. Google Reader has gone offline thanks to Google Gears and we can be sure that more applications will follow (even gmail). What is more, this opens up a whole gambit of competition to Microsoft. Since it is open source, other companies can build off of what Google is doing and funding, and develop their own versions and modifications of their open source platforms.

If Google is investing in this technology and making it open source, you can guarantee that Microsoft sees this as a direct challenge to their monopoly on the PC.

You can read more here.

Some questions:

-Do you think this competition is healthy?
-Do you think that Google funding this gives it more weight?
-Would you consider using Google's alternatives to Microsoft's products? Do you already?
- Can you see a day when Microsoft is no longer the software giant they are today?

*Open source does not always = free, but it does allow for a much less stringent user agreement.

Here Comes the Plague: Drug Resistant TB Exposure

Scenario: A man carrying a contagious strain of tuberculosis (TB) that is resistant to current medicine regimes used to treat TB boards a plane in Atlanta, Georgia against the warnings of his doctors, flys to Europe, spends time in Greece, France,and Italy, marrys and returns to North America through Canada and back to the US. It happened and the man is currently in a hospital with an armed guard at his door to ensure he does not escape. He has effectively been quarantined; the first such quarantine issued by the US government since 1963.

Currently there is a debate ongoing about exactly what the man was told. He states that he was advised against flying while health authorities state that he was told not to fly. Currenlty health agencies the world over are attempting to locate those who were on the planes with him to ensure they are TB free or to isolate them if they test positive. The man admits that he was told by Italian authorities to turn himself in, but he instead snuck back into the US by way of Canada. This reminds me of Stephen King's The Stand.

You can read more here.

Some questions:

-If those who were exposed to him turn up sick, with what responsibility should this man be burdened?
-If you were in his shoes- a long planed wedding in a foreign country, would you call it off until you are well, or do what he did? He states he was advised against travel- not forbade to travel.
-Do you find that selfishness appears to be the motive for endangering a multitude of lives?
-What are your thoughts on why TB has developed a medication resistant strain? Do you think we over use antibiotics?
-Do you think that one day we will see this type of terrorism in addition to suicide bombers?
-Why would he endanger his own wife's life by subjecting her to TB during their wedding and honeymoon?

Microsoft Surface: Computing by Touch

Microsoft has unvieled a new technology that it hopes will take this world by storm. They have coined it Surface. From what I can see, it looks like a regular end table or coffee table, but once you sit something on it or touch it with your fingers, it lights up and responds to whatever is on the surface. If you have a wifi camera, it will recognize it and pull the pictures and video from it and display it on Surface. It is powered by Windows Vista and can be used by multiple users at one time doing seperate tasks. No keyboard, no mouse, just the use of your hands and objects. It is set to be released in November.

It appears that Apple is no stranger to this technology either as they have filed for touch sensitive patents as well. There is also rumors that Apple will have an answer for Surface and already have products that will outshine Surface in that they are eye-movement sensitive and true touchscreen- not projector/sensor based like Surface. The iPhone already incorporates multi-touch sensitivity.

You can read more and see more here.

Some questions:

-Do you see any practical benefits to Surface?
-What market do you think this is aimed at?
-Let's say Surface sold below $2,000.00 would you buy one?
-How do you see this technology branching out? (refrigerators, TV's, cars, etc.?)
-What are your thoughts on this technology?

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Flag Desecration = Hate Crime

On the island of Orcas, off mainland Washington State, a hate crime has been performed. Two nights in a row, vandals have snuck into the cemetery and burnt US flags, stole US flags and replaced US flags with home made flags bearing the mark of the swastika. Even under watch, the cemetery was breached and vandalized. These acts were performed on the graves of dead servicemen who fought for their country and for the freedom we enjoy today.

You can read more here.

Some questions:

-What are your thoughts on flag burning?
-Do you think that it is acceptable to protest in such a way as this?
-What are your thoughts about showing dissatisfaction about our current conflict while still honoring those who are fighting in it? Is there a good way to seperate the two?
-What do you think should be the punishment that these vandals should undergo if any?
-If you are a Veteran, what are your thoughts on this? How does this speak to you?


Next Monday night our local newstalk radio station, WNWS, will be playing the Madison County Sheriff's Department in a competitive game of Dodgeball. The time: 7pm, the place: Tigrett Middle School Gym (on Westwood), Admission: $5.00 at the door which will be donated to the winner's charity of choice.

The Dodgeball Tournament will continue on into August before the final game is played. Those who are in the line-up are the Sheriff's Dept., Police Dept., WBBJ TV, Sportsplex Staff, Seniors on the Liberty Basketball Team, Diamond Jaxx Staff, Madison County Commissioners, Jackson City Council, Madison Academic Decathalon Team, The Palace Staff, and then on August 28th the double elimination tournament will take place.

You can read more here or here.

Some questions:

-What are your thoughts about this tournament?
-If you are local, do you plan on attending it?
-Is $5.00 too much for a 15 minute game of dodgeball?
-What do you think about WNWS' logo? (I designed it)
-If they did this again next year, would you get a team together to participate?
-Do you think this is a good thing to bring together our community?

Monday, May 28, 2007

Memorial Day

Here is a tribute video to a fallen soldier.

Here are some audio accounts from our soldiers themselves.

Here are some pictures of Pearl Harbor during and after the suprise Japanese attacks.

Some questions:

-Have we forgotten what Memorial Day is about?
-What did you do to pay homage to those who serve to protect you?
-Do you treat Memorial Day as just another day off or do you utilize it to show a Veteran your appreciation?

Friday, May 25, 2007

Giant Hog Killed by 11 Year Old

I leave you with this. Enjoy this Memorial Day Weekend and I will see you Tuesday!

Raiders' Fan to the End

A deathrow inmate by the name of Robert Comer was put to death earlier this week used his last words to cheer on the Oakland Raiders. He was said to have died with a smile on his face.

You can read more here.

Some questions:

-What would your last words be if you were about to take your final breath?
-If you are a sportsfan, do you think your last words would be to your favorite team?
-What do you think this says about American culture and values?

All Is Fair in Love and War

Sabotage. A word that is plaguing the Iranians' officials. Sabotage is a double-edged sword for them as sometimes it is taking place especially in their industrial nuclear sector. Other times it is just merely the thought that could delay a program or cause the government to waste money by throwing away a perfectly good product under the pretense of sabotage.

According to a report by CBS some allied countries are actively participating in sabotage to delay the development of the Iranian's nuclear capabilities. So far, their efforts appear to have slowed them down. The Iranian head of the Atomic Energy Agency who is also the acting Vice-President, Gholamreza Aghazadeh, speaking in reference to a power supply that exploded and damaged 50 centrifuges stated the power supply had been "manipulated."

Currently Iran is attempting to further mask their identity as buyers on the black market in hopes that the product will not be tampered with. Officials have stated that their desire to conceal their identity borders on the edge of paranoia.

You can read more here.

Some questions:

-Is sabotage ethical?
-Is sabotage a favorable method for delaying a war?
-Do you think our government is currently participating in sabotage around the world?
-What are your thoughts about the current conflict with Iran?
-Is sabotage an effective means of accomplishing a goal or is it a political maneuver utilized to play down direct tension between two opposing forces while still tipping the odds?

First for Fridays

The first poster sets the tone of the discussion. So go ahead and post something will ya'!

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Al Qaeda Torture Manual Found

***Warning: The "Read More Here" Link Depicts Graphic Pictures And Sketched Images Of Torture And Torture Victims***

In a recent safe house raid, a manual showing different tactics for torturing those who oppose Al Qaeda was discovered. The contents are very telling of their thoughts on humanity and the Geneva Convention.

You can read more here.

Some questions:

-How do you fight against someone who does not play by your rules? Who does not honor the Geneva Convention? Who does not distinguish between the private citizen and the military personel?
-Do you think there should ever be a time when the "rules no longer apply"?
-What do you think about the unconventional war tactics employed by some of those who fought in the revolutionary war for the seperation of America from Brittian? What do you think about the unconventional tactics employed by Al Qaeda?
-Do you think that war is a place for "properness"?

Affirmitive Action

Scenario 1: A basketball team has 2/3 of its members as one race group. The other 1/3 is a mixture of other race groups. Should affirmitive action be instituted to even out the team?

Scenario 2: A business has 2/3 of its members as one race group. The other 1/3 is a mixture of other race groups. Should affirmitive action be instituted to even out the business?

Some questions:

-Do you think it would be absurd to pick a team based on race as opposed to skill and talent? Why would it be any different for business or school?
-With the original intent of affirmitive action understood, do you think that it has served its purpose?
-Do you think a business should be made to pick someone of lesser skill and talent because of affirmitive action?
-Do you think there is a way to still "even the playing field" so to speak, but without having to pass up someone who is better qualified but has the wrong skin color to fit the affirmitive action mold?
-Has affirmitive action helped or hurt America?

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Slavery: Alive and Well In America

A Long Island couple, who happen to be millionaires, were indicted on charges of slavery last week. The couple, Varsha Mahender Sabhnani and Mahender Murlidhar Sabhnani are the founders of a prosperous perfume company called Eternal Love Parfums that ships their fragrances all around the globe. Mahender is currently involved in a trademark lawsuit in which he argues that L'Oréal and Giorgio Armani have wrongly utlized the perfume name Attitude, to which he held the copyright until he failed to renew it.

With the development of the slavery charges, it would go without saying that this could very well affect his lawsuit over the name Attitude and Mahender's lawyer has expressed the same.

According to reports, the couple were housing two women in their home against their will and inflicting upont them bodily and mental harm by way of restricting food intake, repetitive showering, repetitive climbing of stairs, eating 25 hot chili peppers, beatings, enduring scalding with hot water, etc. The women, who have been identified only as Samirah and Nona, were also promised a certain amount of money for their work and apparently what was promised and what was given were two seperate things.

The investigation started when one of the slaves escaped the home and was found in front of a store front wearing only bottoms and a towel. Catholic charities have stepped up to care for the women. Currently bail has yet to be posted for the millionaire couple.

You can read more on this here.

Some questions:

-What is your initial response to these accusations?
-If convicted, what do you think their punishment should be?
-Does slavery really still exist in America?
-Do you think that L'Oréal and Giorgio Armani had anything to do with these charges being brought out to the public now?
-Do you think that the media is more concerned about the welfare of the two women or about the shock value of the story?
-What response and responsibility should the Church have in this?

Freebird! I Mean, FreeBirth!

FreeBirth, or natural birth, has been going on since Adam and Eve in humans. Due to recent advancements in the last couple of centuries, hospitalized births have become common place in the Western World... that is, until now. Freebirth is gaining popularity again. Advocates say it is a very personal experience and should remain private, while opponents of this method see it as reckless and endangering both the woman's and child's life. One opponent goes so far as to say that if a baby dies during freebirth the mother should be charged with manslaughter or if they come out damaged, they should be able to sue their mother later in life.

You can read more here.

Some questions:

-Is freebirth an option for you?
-Do you think it is wrong to have a natural birthed child? If so, why?
-Would you practice tolerance towards a mother who chooses to participate in freebirth if you dissagreed with the method?
-Do you think this is a viable option for those who do not have proper health insurance or cannot afford the debt of a hospital delivery?
-Do you think this is a viable option for those who can afford a hospital but choose not to go?

Let Google Tell You What To Do

In a recent interview with the founders of Google, they gave a little insight into where they are heading with their popular search portal. They forsee a day when someone will go to Google for advice on what job to pick, what type of vacation to take and other more personal decisions as well.

How would Google know such things as to be able to give accurate advice on your future career path? The methods are all ready in the works. If you use gmail or just the Google portal in general, you will have noticed the option to customize your Google page. This is now called iGoogle. There is also a desktop search program called Google Desktop which gives you the option to allow Google to track your internet history and store it for later searches. These two services are already up and running and I am sure we will see more coming our way in the not-s0-distant future.

You can read more on this here.

Some questions:

-How do you feel about one day having a search engine that could, in all reality, influence your future paths?
-Does this make you leary of using Google's offerings? (Just so you know, other search engines- MSN, Yahoo, etc. are looking to do the same thing).
-Do you think this will be a good thing?
-If you didn't have anything to hide, would it bother you to allow Google to "know" you and give you advice?
-What do you think such a service as this will influence our future? Our kids' future?

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Women: No More Periods, Period.

The Food and Drug Administration is set to announce in a news conference this evening their approval of a birth control pill that stops periods indefinitely. The birth control pill is called Lybrel and is manufactured by Wyeth. This is the first such drug that the FDA has approved for continuous usage since birth control's inception back in the 1960's. Some regulate the menstrual cycle to only 4 times a year while others stick with the 21-7 day cycle.

The advancement of birth control brings about concerns and responsibility that needs to be addressed by the potential user. In the article there are several concerns and several applauses for the advancement.

You can read more here.

Some questions:

-Do you use birth control? If so, why did you choose to utilize it?
-Do you see this new approved drug as being beneficial or detrimental? If either, why?
-Do you see a danger in preventing pregnancy?
-Do you think our culture has made it difficult to have large families?
-Do you think that such things as this should be tested over a lifetime before being approved to study the long term effects?

Gossip in the Workplace

We all know that their is something just not right about gossip, but these ladies paid a consequence for their gossiping. They were fired from their positions for gossiping about their employer. They stated that the unfounded relationship between their employer and another staff was discussed only during their lunchbreak and nothing further was said. The four employees who were fired had 46 years between them working for the town administrator.

You can read more on this here.

Some questions:

-Do you think that gossip is a bad thing?
-What are your feelings on the firings of these women who were engaged in gossip?
-Do you think that these ladies participating in gossip on their lunchbreak was an "okay" place to discuss such matters?
-Do you think that someone could be fired for doing something while out at lunch and not on the clock?
-If you were their employer, do you think you would hire them back? What if you were facing legal action?

Closed Meetings: Private Meetings Concerning Public Schools

I posted on this topic a few weeks back. They are now holding another meeting that is to be closed to the public (Wednesday at 1.30pm). This time, GeorgeB, a local radio personality and self-proclaimed "Guardian and Protector of Civil Liberties" is holding a protest on the school board lawn starting an hour before the closed meeting is to be held. During that time, he has encouraged the local public to attend the protest and show their disgust by picketing, driving by and blowing their horn as well as attending a seminar that will cover the 1st amendment rights of citizens.

You can read more on it here.

Some questions:

-What are your thoughts on a publicly funded, public service, holding private meetings that affect parents and children who attend the public schools?
-In regards to the Sunshine Law, the only legal consequence is that whatever comes out of the meeting has no weight. This means that the meeting has to be held again and the only way the items discussed can be implemented is if the meeting is made public. Do you think the Sunshine Law is effective?
-Do you think this is a big enough of a deal that you will attend the protest?
-Do you think a protest is uncalled for and unneccessary?
-Why do you think this meeting is being closed to the public?

Monday, May 21, 2007

Former Solider Charged with Falsifying Atrocities in Iraq

Macbeth admitted falsifying the documents because he was homeless and wanted to “sucker” anything he could out of the government.

The above excerpt is taken from an article on Fox News that details Jesse Macbeth's ploy to draw attention to himself by way of lies and deceit.

You can read more on this story here.

Some questions:

- What do you think should be the consequence for such actions?
-Why do you think that people behave this way?
-Do you think that integrity and honesty are qualities that are no longer valued as they once were? Do you think they have been replaced with other "values"?

"Careless & Misinterpreted": Jimmy Carter's Comments

In an interview on The Today Show, Jimmy Carter stated that, "[His comments concerning the Bush administration] were maybe careless or misinterpreted." What did he say you ask? “I think as far as the adverse impact on the nation around the world, this administration has been the worst in history.”

During the interview Carter stated that he was only comparing Bush's foreign policy with that of Richard Nixon's. According to Carter, the quote above, in proper context, should read like this: "I think as far as the adverse impact on the nation around teh world, this administration has been the worst if you had to choose between Nixon's policy and Bush's policy." (Emphasis mine.)

Recently Jimmy Carter also lambasted the outgoing Brittish Prime Minister Tony Blair for his stance on the Iraq war and close ties with the Bush White House. Carter was quoted as saying concerning the relationship of Tony Blair with Bush: “[It is] Abominable. Loyal, blind, [and]apparently subservient." "I think that the almost undeviating support by Great Britain for the ill-advised policies of President Bush in Iraq have been a major tragedy for the world."

How does the White House respond? The White House termed Carter as "increasingly irrelevant".

You can read more here.
You can watch the video here.

Some questions:

-Historically, previous administrations would not criticise current administrations. Do you think it is okay for Carter to buck the trend?
-Do you agree with Carter's remarks?
-Do you agree with the White House's response?
-Do you think that this says something deeper about the state of our nation?

Government is Increasingly Censoring Web

Should the government be able to have the right to censor where you visit on the web? If yes, by what reasoning do you find censorship acceptable? If no, why?

Friday, May 18, 2007

Rosie O'Donnell Equated U.S. Troops with Terrorists

Watch the video on Rosie here.

Watch an Iraq War Hero Tribute here. (you will need to install the divx plugin when prompted)

Hormone Therapy Just as Effective as Chemotherapy

Good news women. If you are at risk of breast cancer, a not-so-distant treatment, could spare you the side effects of Chemo and keep you fertile. Up til now, when a woman undergoes chemotherapy, her ovaries are effected and she risks becomming sterile. This is not something a woman wants to hear, especially if this happens early in life.

Scientists recently completed a review of 16 studies comparing a test group to those who underwent chemotherapy and with those who underwent the hormone therapy utilizing luteinising hormone-releasing hormone (LHRH) agonist.

The results: both were equally effective.

The difference: The hormone treatment mimics menopause (including hot flashes & no periods) when utilized and allows the woman to return to her natural state when taken off the treatment. Chemo destroys the ovaries.

The downside: LHRH treatment, once stopped, allows for the brain to start producing oestrogen again. It is estimated that 60% of women who have breast cancer before menopause have hormone-sensitive tumors. This means that when the oestrogen floods the body, this could, in effect, cause the cancer to return (More time needs to expire before more will be known on this variable). And of course, chemo weakens you as your body is being filled with toxins and destroys your immune system as well as damages different organs.

You can read more here.

Some questions:

-Is it wise to start treatments on something that has not had years of trials? Given the odds?
-If you are a young woman, still in child bearing age, would you opt for the hormone treatment given that it is not fully tested or would you take your chances with chemo?
-Do you think that there should be a standard period that all treatments would have to be monitored and studied before the public would have knowledge of them?
-Do you think that expiremental treatments should be more readily available to the public if they are willing to try them?

Man Seeking Ministry Position Microwaves Baby

A 19 year old man, by the name of Joshua Mauldin staying in a hotel with his wife, 2 month old baby and his mother reportedly called the front desk asking them to call 911 as his baby had been sunburnt and was bleeding. After being questioned as to the burns, the father had several inconsistencies in his story which led investigators to the hotel room where they found the microwave in which the baby was placed. The 19 year old changed his story several times from sunburn, to accidentally spilling boiling water on the baby to finally admitting that he placed the baby in the microwave out of frustration. He was in town looking for a job in the ministry. The baby is being treated at a hospital and has undergone 2 skin grafts.

You can watch the video here.
You can read more about it here.

Some questions:

-Do you think it is ever possible to be so frustrated with your child(ren) that you would resort to unconventional punishment?
-What punishment should this man incur?
-What does this type of action say concerning the way we teach our youth? Are we teaching them to be responsible adults?
-If he was seeking a ministerial position, this would presume that he would claim to be a christian. If this assumption is correct, what does this say about what the church teaches being a christian means?

First For Fridays

You lead by setting the subject, and the comments will follow. Go a head, post something.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Parental Advisory: The Bible?

The Washington Post has a story on the restriction of scripture. Here is an excerpt from the article: Reports out of the former British colony confirm that "The Television and Entertainments Licensing Authority (Tela), which oversees the publishing industry," received "1,406 complaints" as of Wednesday that text within the holy book was "indecent." Those complaints cited instances of "violence, incest, rape and cannibalism" in both the Old and New Testaments. As a result, some municipal officials are contemplating the notion of regulating sales of the "Good Book" and including warning labels just like cigarettes.

You can read more here.

Some questions:

-If you are a Christian, moving past the emotional issues attached with this, what do you think about this mode of thinking?
-If the Bible is restricted to only adults due to graphic content such as rape, incest, & murder does it not matter in what context these accounts are surrounded?
-What are your thoughts on the number of complaints turned in?
-If you support the restriction of the bible to adults only, can you lay out your argument?

Hybrids: Not the Cars, but the Embryos

In England a draft bill (Human Tissue and Embryos Bill) has been proposed that will allow for the legal creation of human/animal mixed embryos which have been termed "Frankenstein Embryos" or human-animal chimeras.

Initially the government's Ministry of Health had come out against this type of legislation fearing the reaction of religious groups, but when asked why the change of heart in this matter, Health Minister Caroline Flint stated that the arguments put forth by the scientific community and the MPs gave her food for thought and thus she was persuaded.
Some quotes:
Here Sir David King, the Chief Scientific Advisor to the Brittish Government, said, I believe that the approach to the creation of embryos containing human and animal material is the right one.

Dr Stephen Minger, King's College Stem Cell Biology Laboratory Director said: This research is important because these stem cell lines could help us to understand what goes wrong in catastrophic neurological disorders like Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease.

Some features of the legislation:

-It will make for easier accessibility for lesbians and singles to pursue IVF (before, a clinic had to have proof that a father would be in the child's life).
-It will allow for the mixture of human and animal cells in the embryo for research purposes.
-It will prohibit couples from deciding the gender of their babies.
-It will allow for people in same sex civil partnerships to have the same rights as parents in traditional marriages.
-It will introduce regulation of internet sperm services.
-It will tighten laws on genetic screenings of embryos for disease (to keep insurance companies from denying coverage based on genetic tendencies).
-It will allow a donor conceived child to be able to find out if they have a donor conceived sibling.
-Is there a danger in mixing human and animal cells in an embroynic stage?

You can read more here.

Some questions:

-Do you see this legislation as being helpful or hurtful to humanity? Why?
-What do you see as being beneficial in this legislation?
-Responsibility wise, what does this say about our technological advances?
-Do you see this legislation, if passed, being the beginning of a decline down a slippery slope?
-Do you think that, if passed, this legislation could make its way to the US?

A Hamburger, French Fries and a Side of Marijuana

That is what a little girl in Ottawa, IL found in her happy meal as well as a lighter and pipe. Her parents took her and her two siblings through the drive through and on their way home discovered the additional items packaged in the child's happy meal. She thought they were toys... her father immediately went to the police and the local McDonald's cooperated in the investigation which led to the immediate termination of a 17 year old employee by the name of Brandon Scott which then led to his arrest and subsequent charges. The parents are still considering sueing.

You can read more on this story here.

Some questions:

-Should the local McDonald's share any responsibility in this?
-What reasons would the family have to sue? Would they sue the 17 year old or McDonald's?
-What would you do if your child found drugs in their drive-through packaged meal?
-What can and should be done to prevent things like this from happening?

Anti-Islam Literature Passed Out By State Funded Christian Chaplain

In the news today the Reverend Teresa Darden Clapp has been suspended with pay for passing out anti-Islam booklets in the state funded jail at which she works. The two cartoon style booklets that inmates stated she was distributing apparently made such claims as Allah is not God, Mohammed is not his prophet and the Koran is not God's word while the other stated that good muslims are the ones who commit terrorist acts because that is really what Islam teaches. Some local muslims are calling for her termination. The jail has responded by stating it would hire an Imam, a teacher of Islam, and serve Islam acceptable food to muslim inmates.

The two tracts are titled: Men of Peace? and Allah had No Son and are published by Chick Publications.

You can read more here.

Some questions:

-Do you think any person in a publically funded position (eg. your tax dollars support) of authority should be able to speak their convictions to those that are entrusted to them?
-Do you think she was out of line by following her Christian belief: to share the gospel?
-Do you think it is acceptable for religion to be promoted or denied in prison?
-What do you think about the message contained in the tracts? How do they hold up to the teachings of Islam and what the Koran actually states?
-Is there ever a time when a tax payer funded position holder should be able to share their faith while "on the clock"?
-What is a chaplain hired to do?

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Politicians Playing Politics

The Democratic House Majority Leader, Nancy Pelosi has proposed change to a procedure that has not been touched since 1822: the Motion to Recommit (in the link, look for the Germaneness Rule- 5 down). This would in effect undermine the Republicans, the minority party. This appears to be retaliation for the vote on the troop funding bill. In protest, the Republicans are staging procedural motions every half hour.

You can read more here.

Some questions:

-Is this what we pay politicians to do?
-What can be done to change these antics?
-What should the appropriate response be to the Republicans? To the Democrats?
-Is there a time coming when the American people will again trust their elected leaders?
-Do you trust our government?

Hair Today, Hair Tomorrow? Cure for the Bald

A recent article in Reuters gives hope for a possible cure when it comes to baldness. What is more, from this research they have found that it is not only possible for certain stem cells (in a natural process) to repair damaged tissue, but it is also possible for those same stem cells to turn into sweat glands, hair follicles and other biological structures. This means that instead of just repairing damaged parts of our bodies, whether that is balding or lacerations, there is hope for regeneration. That is, the restoration/regrowth (or as close as we can get) of the original body part instead of just a scar.

With that being said, in labratory mice there were side effects. The hair that grew back was white. George Cotsarelis, the lead researcher heading up this experiment, said that it may not occur in humans due to our different pigment structures. On the other side of the experiment, another scientist , who had no affiliation with the study, has his doubts about such success in humans due to our skin and the skin of mice being different. They are looking at 5 years before this reaches the stage where humans could benefit from this if it works.

The drawback: skin has to be damaged for this regeneration to take effect, so in effect, they would have to injure your scalp by way of cutting, deep.

Read more here.

Some questions:

-If you are bald or are balding, would you opt for this treatment?
-A point was made in the article concerning our current technique of quickly repairing damage as opposed to allowing regrowth; do you think we have been treating wounds wrongly over the past several decades?
-Do you place much faith in such things as this for bringing about cures?

Free Will & The Fruit Fly

Two camps of scientists are battling on the idea of free will. The standing argument has been that no such thing exists as touted by Neuroscientists... until now.

Bjorn Brembs, a neurobiologist working at the Free University Berlin, in Germany has devised an experiment that he claims deprives the test subject of all stimuli from the outside world. Such an environment would be fair testing grounds for such a thing as the ever elusive free will.

The expirment: 1 fruit fly in a pure white box, devoid of any visual cues, suspended in air with its every movement tracked and monitored.

It has been held since the 1980's that free will does not exist. Why? Benjamin Libet of University of California San Francisco came to this conclusion after experimentation: before any conscience effort to produce movement begins, the brain is already initiating the movement. This is known as the "readiness potential". This concept has long been held in the circles of Neuroscience, relatively speaking. So, for Brembs to come along and challenge this is like Columbus challenging the notion that the world is flat, in some degree.

The conclusion of the matter: Brembs states that while he cannot prove that free will truly exists, he can, based on his experiments, rule out two other extremes, randomness and pure determinism.

You can read more here.

Some questions:

-Does free will exist? Or is it free agency that is more viable an option?
-What are the implications of this study in a religous sense?
-Do you find that Brembs expirement, based on what was provided in the article, devoid of external stimuli?
-Why do you think this is such a touchy subject in both the scientific realm as well as the religous realm?
-If you are religous and believe in some sort of election/predestination, how do you deal with free will arguments?

Greenpeace Replicates Noah's Ark

In an article featured on the Drudge Report, it is stated that Greenpeace has built a replica of Noah's Ark on Mt. Ararat, where Noah's Ark has said to have come to rest. The reason? To send a message to those in power that climate change is real and it needs to be dealt with accordingly before nothing can be done to change the deadly path on which we are treading. The replica will be revealed on May 31st of this year.

You can read more here.
You can read more about the recent shift taking place amongst leading scientists in this field here.

Some Questions:

-Is global warming a real concern that humans have wrought?
-Is science by consensus really science? (i.e. the science community of the day stated that the world was flat, therefore it was a scientific consensus that the world was flat.)
-What are the implications for Greenpeace (a non Christian organization) using a biblical account (the flood & Noah's Ark) to make a point concerning something they hold as a real threat?
-Do you think Greenpeace has been effective since its creation in bringing about change for the good?

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Jerry Falwell Rushed to Hospital: Unresponsive

Jerry Falwell, President of Liberty University and also known as being the face of the religious right back in the 80's, was found in his office unresponsive. He was fine this morning during breakfast with the University's Vice President, Ron Godwin. He is at a hospital in Lynchburg, VA where his condition is said to be gravely serious. Jerry Falwell has a history of heart conditions and is 73.

You can read more here.

UPDATE: Fallwell has Died.

REACTIONS: There appear to be a lot of people who disliked Falwell enough to sarcastically poke fun of him in his death.

Also here is a statement released by Larry Flynt (Hustler Magazine) concerning Jerry Falwell.

Some Questions:

-How would the death of Jerry Falwell effect Christianity? Fundamentalism?
-What is your view on the teachings of Falwell?
-What type of legacy do you think he will leave behind when he goes?
-What will become of Liberty University? Will it remain staunchly fundamental under new leadership?
-How should Christians, in a manner that represents Christ, react to his death?

Strange Searches

Someone just visited my blog from Islamabad, Pakistan and did a search for "big butt" and "bubble butt lovers".

Some questions:

-Okay, I won't go there.

Michael Moore Challenges Fred Thompson to a Debate

Michael Moore has invited Fred Thompson to debate healthcare in America. He goes on to accuse Thompson of being hypocritical in that he speaks out against Moore's travel to embargoed Cuba to help 9/11 workers get healthcare that was not available in the US while Thompson has stacks of embargoed Cuban cigars in his office.

You can read about it here.

Some questions:

-What are your views on Fred Thompson, Star of Law & Order TV Series now in its 18th season and a possible presidential candidate?
-What are your views on Michael Moore, avid film maker that has produced such documentaries as Bowling for Columbine, Farenheit 9/11, and Sicko, amongst others?
-Who do you think would win the debate if it did take place?
-Do you think that Michael Moore's points are valid? Do you think they would be more effective if he presented them in a different way?
-What are your thoughts on the embargo of Cuban goods?

Drug Court

The local drug court program has made the front page of the Jackson Sun today. It has been in operation since 2003 with 54 graduates from the program in a 4 year span. Although there have been only 54 graduates in 4 years, they boast a 74% success rate in that they have helped keep those who were on drugs, off.
The drug court here has only 2 paid staff and the biggest out-of-pocket cost is the drug testing kits. The court employs both sanctions and rewards for those going through the program. They offer gift certificates among other things as rewards and such things as write-offs for sanctions (where you would write such things as "I will not forget to call in" 200 times).

You can read more here.

Some questions:

-What are your thoughts on the drug court?
-Have you ever been involved with one?
-What are your thoughts on tax dollars going for incentives such as gift certificates?
-Knowing drug issues are a big problem in our community, what do you think about the numbers who have graduated from the program?

Monday, May 14, 2007

"Christian" Persecution

In Hardesty, OK, a "Christianized" town, a young girl by the name of Nicole Smalkowski has undergone persecution. She is a self-pronounced athiest as is her family. She states that the local school children have ridiculed her for her non-belief in God and call her such names as devil-worshiper or point and laugh. She further states that even a teacher has gone so far as to tell her that this is a Christian nation and if she doesn't like it she can leave. The school administration has accused her of threatening another's life as well as stealing shoes and bringing down morale. She denies all these statements and says it is an attack against her and her beliefs. She no longer attends that school and is now homeschooled due to the ridicule.

You can read more here.

Some questions:

-What does this say about Christianity; more specifically, about those wear the name of Christ?
-Should we always think that those who claim to be Christians really are Christians?
-Do you think this accurately defines what Christianity is about?
-Should we seperate those who wear the name of Christ from Christianity itself?
-Should this tarnish the reputation of Christians? Christianity? Christ Himself?
-How should true Christians respond to this girl and their family?

Want to Join Al Qaeda?

Here is an application. Too bad it doesn't have the "send to" address going back to Osama Bin Laden.

Some questions:

-What are your thoughts on "The War on Terror"?
-Who do you think is winning and why?
-What role do you think Iraq plays in a US victory?
-Does this application give some insight that you think would be helpful to those seeking to put an end to Al Qaeda?

States Block Cancer Vaccine

70% of all cervical cancer is caused by HPV. Merck has come out with a vaccine that is 100% effective against all HPV caused cancers, vulval and vaginal diseases as long as it was given as a vaccine and shows little in the way of side-effects. This vaccine comes in 3 doses at a cost of around $360.00. West Virginia, Kentucky, Mississippi, and New Mexico have all blocked legislation that would allow young girls to be vaccinated. Other states have the legislation on the table waiting to vote on this issue as well. The argument for banning the vaccine in young girls is that being vaccinated will promote promiscuity. Furthermore, there is still a year left in the study before the trials have been complete.

You can read more here.

Some questions:

-Should the government regulate based on a moral compass? (i.e. tell the little girls you can't have this vaccine because you may or may not become sexually active earlier due to the immunity the vaccine gives you?)
-If this was a required vaccination for school, would you have your little girl vaccinated? If so, at what age?
-How do you feel about this already being on the table in a number of states and voted on in others, when the trial has yet to even be completed?
-What are your thoughts on the cost?
-Would you get the vaccine assuming you are female?

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Retardation, Scammers, & Those Who Encourage It

A mother encouraged her two children to play the role of mentally retarded people. Why? For the money. The government pays money to help support those who are mentally retarded and they are allowed benefits in which others are not allowed to take part. These benefits vary by state. With that being said, this family has been playing the system since the son turned 8. The mother and the son both have pleaded guilty. Pete Costello, the son, has been ordered to pay back $59,226.00- the amount he has recieved since his 18th birthday (he is now 28). The daughter has yet to be found.

You can read more here.

Some questions:

-Is it the government's responsbility to care for the mentally ill? If not, who should be responsible?
-What do you think allows for abuses of the system? What do you suppose would stop the abuse?
-Does this affect your opinion of how the government regulates our tax dollars?
-Do you hold the children fully responsible or do you place more blame on the mother?

Friday, May 11, 2007

Teach Them Well

A teacher in Hillsboro, Oregon is facing felony charges for none other than stealing a pupils coat and attempting to sell it on ebay. The day after the coat was stolen the mother went online to ebay to find a replacement and found her daughter's coat being sold by a teacher at her daughter's school.

In another recent incident a Pleasant Valley High School teacher by the name of Bruce Smith has chosen to subject pupils to pictures of dead, naked, dismembered women and discuss sexually charged scenarios ranging from copulating with a cheerleader to push up bras to losing his virginity. When parents complained to the school's administration, their identities were revealed to Mr. Smith and the allegations hold that this was to be used as some sort of scare tactic. According to reports, the teacher was told to contact them at home concerning this. This took place in Scranton, Pennsylvania.

More can be read here and here.

Some Questions:

-How does this affect your view of the school system?
-Are teachers given too much authority in schools?
-How do we as a society protect our children from people like this?
-What do you think a just punishment would be for Ms. Logan and Mr. Smith?

First For Fridays

Here it is. The first poster gets to set the topic of discussion. So go ahead, you pick.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Student Loan Scandal & The Cost Keeps Rising

Reuters reports that Investigators probing the student loan industry allege that banks have given college financial aid officers pay and perks to win inclusion on so-called "preferred lender" lists shown to students looking to borrow money for college.
When Spellings was brought before Congress, she and her agency was accused of chronic inaction by Committee chairman George Miller. "The U.S. Department of Education has been conspicuously missing in action," said the California Democrat.

More can be read here.

Some questions:

-With 85 billion dollars tied up in the student aide system, should there be more scrutiny over how funds are handled?
-Should there even be such a thing as student aide?
-Do you think student aide inflates the price of getting a higher level of education?
-What should be done with those responsible?
-What should be done with the Dept. of Education if it is found to be neglectful in that it turned its back to the scandal?
-Does this affect you as a student?

1. Open Hatch 2. Deposit Baby 3. Leave

In Japan, a deposit window has been built into a wall for none other than unwanted babies. This is modeled after a plan that is already in place in Germany. Basically, if you don't want your child, just place it in the window and be on your way.

More on this here.

Some questions:

-What does this say about society?
-Is this a viable option to combat abortion?
-Is there a better way? If there is who's responsibility is it to institute? The Governments? The Church? Humanitarian groups?
-What are your thoughts on what the Prime Minister said?

Afterlife: Our Fascination, Our Fear

I subscribe to NewScientist Magazine. Back in November of last year, I believe it was, they had their 50 year anniversary and in that issue they asked some big questions such as does free will really exist and what happens after we die. Well, today they have linked to the article on the afterlife and I thought I would share it.

Over the years many have tried to prove that life after death exists. Some even took their own lives in an attempt to prove it by way of mediums and codes. Others set up items in operating rooms that can only be seen if one is floating near the ceiling, while others attempted to weigh the body during the dying process to see if weight is lost proving that the soul has left the body.

One concluded that "...the answer to the question 'What happens when we die?' might in fact be: 'Our souls go into sheep.'"

You can read more on this here.

Some questions:

-What are your thoughts on the afterlife?
-Why are we so fascinated or frightened by it?
-What about Saul's encounter with Samuel after his death (1 Samuel 28:7-25)?
-What are your thoughts on the extent to which people try to prove the existance or the non-existance of life after death?

The Catholic Church, Abortion and Politics

The Pope has spoken and what he had to say was in the form of a warning to all politicians everywhere. If you support abortion, you are not welcomed to take part in the Lord's Supper.

Recently, in Mexico, a group of priests had threatened to excommunicate some politicians who voted to legalize abortion. When the Pope was asked about whether or not he supported their actions he responded with: Yes, this excommunication was not an arbitrary one but is allowed by Canon (church) law which says that the killing of an innocent child is incompatible with receiving communion, which is receiving the body of Christ. The Pope then followed that statement with this: Selfishness and fear are at the root of (pro-abortion) legislation...

You can read more on this here.

Some questions:

-What is your view on abortion and why?
-Should priests be able to keep anyone from partaking in the Lord's Supper?
-Is abortion forgivable?
-If you have had an abortion or would get one, what would be the reasoning for it?

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Excuse Me, But You Don't Charge Enough For Gas

That is what a gas station owner in Wisconsin was told by the state government. They stated that he was offering prices that went against the unfair sales act. This could land him a hefty fine for all that he discounted gas for. So what was the discount for? Senior Citizens and those who support youth sports. The discount was 2 cents and 3 cents off per gallon respectively. The owner, Raj Bhandari, stated that he did not want his customers to think he has suddenly become greedy.

Some questions:

-Should the government be as stringent when it comes to what constitutes "unfair sales"?
-Is it fair that Wal-Mart, Sam's Club, Kroger and others can give discounts on gas sales via membership or a user card?
-Is this a case of upholding the letter of the law without considering the heart of the law?

Selling a Used CD is Now Punishable by Law?

In the states of both Utah and Florida used CD sales have been placed under hefty restrictions. In Florida, a retailer cannot give cash for a used CD, but is limited to store credit. Even after issuing store credit, the store cannot sell the CD for 30 days as that is the deemed waiting period. Wisconsin and Rhode Island are considering similar laws. Why this law? Well, the record companies have apparently made a concerted push to pressure the lawmakers to inact legislation that will make it difficult to sell second-hand music via CD. Why? They have made the claim (I have yet to see the figures) that this will reduce pirating and help to cut back on burned counterfeits as the seller of the music will have to give personal identifying information as well as fingerprints to trade the cds for store credit and the retailer will have to store this information and put a hold on selling the CD until a credential check has went through. They also have to pay a $10,000 bond to the Dept. of Agriculture for the right to treat their customers as if they are criminals. You can read more on it here and here.

Some questions:

-Should the government be able to dictate whether used goods can be resold?
-Should the record companies be able to lobby state legislatures?
-Does this affect how you purchase music?
-What other implications could trickle down from this legislature? Think yard sales, pawn shops, used cars, etc.
-How do we keep legislation like this from passing in our state?

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

The Local Scene: Election Tuesday, Little Show Interest

Today here in Jackson, TN is election day. On the ballot we have a seat for city mayor as well as several city council seats up for grabs, but if you ask most any of the locals around here, most would not know who is who. Our city has had the same city mayor since 1989, Charles Farmer. He has chosen not to run for re election this time around. The front runners appear to be Gerry Neese and Jerry Gist. There are several issues that each candidate sees as needing addressed and can be found here: Jerry Gist, Gerry Neese, Charlie Motton, John Bannister, Shelia Godwin, and W. Lee Bell II. They all hit on crime but have different ways of dealing with it. One thing I find this election season devoid of is the mudslinging. I find this refreshing and I find that it encourages discussion about the issues as opposed to what the other candidate has done or won't do. I also find that this focusing on the issues appears to have caused less voter interest... or has it?

Here is a compilation of election information for our city. What is more, the election results will be covered live here starting at 7pm CST.

UPDATE: Jerry Gist is city mayor elect.

Some questions:
-Why do our local elections suffer in voter turnout?
-The absence of mudslinging, is it a plus or minus?
-What do you look for in a candidate for city mayor?
-Do you know what the last city mayor has done that makes him stand out among the past mayors?
-What do you want the new mayor to accomplish that only they can accomplish by being mayor?
-Who are you voting for?
-If you are not voting why not?
-Should we have a cap on the number of years someone can be mayor?

Monday, May 7, 2007

Shoplifters Beware: Wal-Mart has it out for you!

Some are calling it cruel and unusual punishment while others say they got what they deserved. Either way, it is being done and would seem to prove an effective deterent.

For 2 four hour shifts, two people had to wear a sign stating they were shoplifters and stole from Wal-Mart. Both sentences were carried out on consecutive Saturdays to avoid jail sentences.

Read more here.

Some Questions:

-What do you think about this punishment?
-Does this change your opinion of Wal-Mart for the better or for the worse, or not at all?
-What if other criminals were punished via humiliation, do you think that would be a better deterant than jail time?

Royal's loss, Hillary Clinton's gain?

Those on the far left, upset by the recent loss of their political candidate of choice, chose to take to the streets of France and riot in protest of a win for the right wing. This presidential election was more than just a fight between two views, it is a glimpse into the direction that France hopes to take. The candidates, one male, one female; the former a conservative, the latter a socialist were two very different candidates with very different ideals. While the conservative seemed to have a coherent plan, the socialist seemed to focus more on her feminism and attempted to focus on women voters. In the end, France spoke and elected Sarkozy as their new president over Royal. Sarkozy won by a slim margin, but appealed more to the older voters and those with stable employment, while the unemployed and impoverished voted for Royal.

Some questions:

-Why should this election matter to us in the U.S.A.?
-Does this give Hillary Clinton a little insight as what not to do in gearing up for the '08 election?
-Why the polarity in France? Why the polarity in recent US elections? Are they related?
-Is the anglo-saxon world shifting back to conservative values or is this a minor setback for the liberals?
-What does the rioting say about the democratic process?
-Is rioting ever appropriate?

Friday, May 4, 2007

Honor Killing: Does it have a place in today's world?

A 17-year-old girl has been stoned to death in Iraq because she loved a teenage boy of the wrong religion. More on the story here.

The 30 minutes of stoning can be viewed here via Real Player.

Some questions to think on:
-Does this speak highly of their view of their religion; that they would be willing to take a life of their own family member to uphold the honor of their beliefs?
-How does this type of "justice" fit into our world view? We have to deal with it.
-Why do we not value our beliefs as highly as they do theirs? Should we?
-What impact, if any, does this have on you?

2nd Hand Smoke Leads to What Again? I Forgot.

Exposure to secondhand tobacco smoke increases the risk of developing dementia, according to research that will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology’s 59th Annual Meeting in Boston...

More here

-Does this affect your thoughts on smoking in public?
-What about smoking around your children?
-Or smoking in general?

Or is this report just like the ones that say eggs are bad for you then a year later say eggs are good for you?

First for Fridays

On Fridays the first person to post gets to set the topic of discussion.... go ahead, what are you waiting for?

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Unitary Status & A Closed Meeting Involving the Justice Dept. Illegal?

Background: Locally here in Jackson, TN our city/county schools are under a federal court order which forces local authorities to abdicate their governing authority concerning certain school related issues. This has been going on for over 40 years. Here is more on the background of this lawsuit as well as expressed opinion on the matter by Wesley Cornelious McClure, President of Lane College.

Currently, there is a motion to bring about unitary status and to remove the lawsuit by way of the county commission filing a lawsuit against the school board for the breach of an agreement that was to bring about unitary status. This was to be done after the County Commission funded certain projects that the schoolboard requested: this was never followed through with.

Yesterday a meeting was held in private which consisted of the NAACP, the Justice Department and a representative of the schoolboard who is also a member of the NAACP.

Due to this meeting being closed to the public and issues being discussed that effect every citizen of this county that has children, an issue has come up with this meeting being in violation of the Sunshine Law (see #2. Purpose).

Frank Gibson of the Tennessee Coalition for Open Government had this to say about the matter as reported in the Jackson Sun. I don't think a court would find this a violation of the Sunshine Law since they are not deliberating on a decision that is on an upcoming agenda," Gibson said. "It's not good that the federal government is making this demand. For the Department of Justice to insist on these conditions, which is a matter of great public interest to parents and voters in Madison County, is outrageous.

With the above background provided, let's ask some questions. I will ask them in two sets; 1. pertaining to the unitary status issue and 2. pertaining to the closed door meeting.

-What is really at the heart of this issue concerning obtaining unitary status?
-Is it a racially motivated to seek unitary status as implied by Wesley Cornelious McClure?
-What good should come from unitary status?
-What detriment could unitary status do to our county?

-Was holding the private meeting a breach of the sunshine law?
-Was having a member of the schoolboard who is also a member of the NAACP attend the meeting as a voting member a conflict of interest?
-What benefit was it to the Justice Department to demand this meeting be closed?
-What power do we, as citizens, have to ensure public matters stay public?

Here is an Overview of the Unitary Status situation as provided by our local school system.

Obama's Road to Christ

Below is an excerpt taken from a NY Times' article concerning Barack Obama comming to Christ. Read the full context by clicking on the link above.

He had sampled various faiths but adopted none until he met Mr. Wright, a dynamic pastor who preached Afrocentric theology, dabbled in radical politics and delivered music-and-profanity-spiked sermons.

A few things peak my interest concerning this: 1. What is afrocentric theology and is it strongly rooted in biblical principles? 2. Profanity-spiked sermons: is this a biblically aligned method for feeding His sheep?

For more on Jeremiah Wright (Obama's pastor) and Afrocentric Theology read here from the Wall Street Journal's Editorial page.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Purpose Defined

I find that we are searching for things that we want, but don't necessarily need. I further find that we have a tendency to expect things that are not promised to us. What is more, we often make demands as if we have the right to impose our thoughts on those from whom we are demanding. These things will be the focus of this blog.

The posts you find here will cover the above broad ideals in the forms of politics, religion, current events, and a plethora of other topics in such a way as to cause you, the reader, to think about its relevance in your life and in the broader context of world culture.

Oh, some might ask why the name? Well, we live in a world that is so flooded with information that we swallow without ever taking the time to chew on it. Thus we become bogged down; even with the things we think are our rights such as life, liberty and the pursuit thereof.

I hope more than anything that this blog will allow for fruitful discussion and critical thinking on issues that we have just accepted on face-value for so long.