Daily Archives: September 30, 2009

Wired Magazine–Netflix Everywhere: Sorry Cable, You're History

It had taken the better part of a decade, but Reed Hastings was finally ready to unveil the device he thought would upend the entertainment industry. The gadget looked as unassuming as the original iPod””a sleek black box, about the size of a paperback novel, with a few jacks in back””and Hastings, CEO of Netflix, believed its impact would be just as massive. Called the Netflix Player, it would allow most of his company’s regular DVD-by-mail subscribers to stream unlimited movies and TV shows from Netflix’s library directly to their television””at no extra charge.

The potential was enormous: Although Netflix initially could offer only about 10,000 titles, Hastings planned to one day deliver the entire recorded output of Hollywood, instantly and in high definition, to any screen, anywhere. Like many tech romantics, he had harbored visions of using the Internet to rout around cable companies and network programmers for years. Even back when he formed Netflix in 1997, Hastings predicted a day when he would deliver video over the Net rather than through the mail. (There was a reason he called the company Netflix and not, say, DVDs by Mail.) Now, in mid-December 2007, the launch of the player was just weeks away. Promotional ads were being shot, and internal beta testers were thrilled.

But Hastings wasn’t celebrating. Instead, he felt queasy. For weeks, he had tried to ignore the nagging doubts he had about the Netflix Player. Consumers’ living rooms were already full of gadgets””from DVD players to set-top boxes. Was a dedicated Netflix device really the best way to bring about his video-on-demand revolution? So on a Friday morning, he asked the six members of his senior management team to meet him in the amphitheater in Netflix’s Los Gatos offices, near San Jose. He leaned up against the stage and asked the unthinkable: Should he kill the player?

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Movies & Television, Science & Technology

Quotes from William Safire

Here is one:

“Never assume the obvious is true.”

Read them all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Media

An Open Letter to Religious Leaders on Abortion as Moral Decision

As religious leaders, we are committed to supporting people’s efforts to achieve spiritual, emotional, and physical well-being, including their reproductive and sexual health. We assist women and families confronted with unintended pregnancies or pregnancies that can no longer be carried to term. We are committed to social justice, mindful of the 46 million women worldwide who have an abortion each year, almost half in dangerous and illegal situations. We seek to create a world where abortion is safe, legal, accessible, and rare. Millions of people ground their moral commitment to the right to choose in their religious beliefs. While there are strong public health and human rights arguments for supporting the right of women to safe and legal abortion, here we invite you to consider the religious foundations for affirming abortion as a morally justifiable decision.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Life Ethics, Religion & Culture

RNS: Celebrating the Work of Ecumenism, Done and Undone

Catholic, Lutheran and United Methodist leaders will gather in Chicago on Thursday (Oct. 1) to commemorate the 10th anniversary of a milestone agreement on the long, slow and often painful road to Christian unity.

The celebration, held at Old St. Patrick’s Church in Chicago, will pay tribute to the signing of the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification by the Vatican and the Lutheran World Federation on Oct. 31, 1999. In 2006, the World Methodist Council affirmed the agreement as an expression of how Methodists, too, understand the character of salvation.

The declaration aimed at resolving a key Reformation-era doctrinal dispute between Roman Catholics and Martin Luther’s emerging Protestants on salvation, how human beings are made right with God and the role of grace and works.

The document declares: “Together we confess: By grace alone, in faith in Christ’s saving work and not because of any merit on our part, we are accepted by God and receive the Holy Spirit, who renews our hearts while equipping and calling us to good works.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Religion News & Commentary, Ecumenical Relations

Bishop Iker Calls for Fasting and Prayer

I am inviting everyone in the Diocese to join me in a morning of fasting and prayer this Friday, Oct. 2nd, as Judge John Chupp considers three motions we have put before him in the 141st District Court. The hearing begins at 9 a.m. on the fourth floor of the Family Law Center, located at 200 E. Weatherford Street (one block east of the old court house, on the south side of the street).

In the first motion the Diocese is asking leave to file a third-party petition against the persons elected as provisional bishop and as members of the Standing Committee at a meeting held on Feb. 7, 2009. This is to bring before the court those persons who have authorized the suit against the Diocese and the Corporation Trustees in order to determine the legitimacy of their election.

Read it carefully and read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Episcopal Church (TEC), Spirituality/Prayer, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Fort Worth

Living Church: Fort Worth to Vote on Southern Cone Ties

A member diocese of the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) will consider a resolution that maintains the diocese’s ties with the Anglican Church of the Southern Cone.

The resolution is being proposed by the Diocese of Fort Worth’s standing committee. The diocese’s convention will meet on Nov. 6 and 7 in Arlington, Texas. The resolution commits the diocese to continued participation in the ACNA, but also “maintains its status as a member diocese in the Province of the Southern Cone while the formal process of recognition of [ACNA] continues in the Anglican Communion.”

“At this point, the Anglican Church in North America is not yet fully recognized as a province of the Anglican Communion,” the standing committee said in an explanation. “We are working towards that goal, but it is a lengthy process involving the primates, the Archbishop of Canterbury, and the Anglican Consultative Council.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), Anglican Provinces, Cono Sur [formerly Southern Cone], Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Fort Worth

ENS: In Los Angeles Hindu American Foundation honors clergy with Gandhi award

[Bishop Jon] Bruno, who was unable to be present, sent a letter expressing gratitude for recognition of efforts “to build bridges of cooperation between the great religious traditions … [and] assist you as your community strives for justice and equality.

“The world cannot afford for us to repeat the errors of our past, in which we Christians often sought to dominate rather than to serve,” according to the letter, read to the gathering by Guibord, who is also the consultant for interfaith relations for the Episcopal Church.

“In order to take another step in building trust between our two great religious traditions, I renew the apology that I have offered to the Hindu community for the religious and racial discrimination that Christians have directed towards Hindus for far too long. Such discrimination is wrong; it is a sin. There is no justification for it.”

Bruno committed to working together to put an “end to racial and religious discrimination against Hindus. We desire to work together in the great divine task of our time: to build reconciliation and peace, honoring the God-given dignity of each person, sharing and learning the wisdom of each other’s traditions, recognizing God’s equal love for each of us, and sincerely responding to God’s desire to bring us together into one human family, rich in diversity and mutual respect.”

Read it all

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Religion News & Commentary, Episcopal Church (TEC), Hinduism, Inter-Faith Relations, Other Faiths, TEC Bishops

U.S. Says Taliban Has A New Haven in Pakistan

As American troops move deeper into southern Afghanistan to fight Taliban insurgents, U.S. officials are expressing new concerns about the role of fugitive Taliban leader Mohammad Omar and his council of lieutenants, who reportedly plan and launch cross-border strikes from safe havens around the southwestern Pakistani city of Quetta.

But U.S. officials acknowledge they know relatively little about the remote and arid Pakistani border region, have no capacity to strike there, and have few windows into the turbulent mix of Pashtun tribal and religious politics that has turned the area into a sanctuary for the Taliban leaders, who are known collectively as the Quetta Shura.

Pakistani officials, in turn, have been accused of allowing the Taliban movement to regroup in the Quetta area, viewing it as a strategic asset rather than a domestic threat, while the army has been heavily focused on curbing violent Islamist extremists in the northwest border region hundreds of miles away.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Asia, Defense, National Security, Military, Pakistan, Terrorism

Poll: Public Says Voice Not Heard In Health Debate

Perhaps no other issue Congress deals with touches every American as intimately as health care. Yet a new poll by NPR, the Kaiser Family Foundation, and the Harvard School of Public Health finds that, so far, the public feels profoundly shut out of the current health overhaul debate.

“Most people don’t feel that they personally have a voice in this debate,” said Mollyann Brodie, director of public opinion and survey research for the Kaiser Family Foundation. “In fact, 71 percent told us that Congress was paying too little attention to what people like them were saying.”

Nancy Turtenwald is one of those people. The tourist from Milwaukee was walking around the sparkling new visitor center at the U.S. Capitol Tuesday. She was quick to agree with poll findings that the lawmakers debating the massive health overhaul bill just a few blocks away weren’t much interested in problems like hers.

“I don’t think they are people like us, you know?” she said. She thinks Congressional lawmakers know very little about the daily lives of the average American ”” and the health care costs they face. “How often do they go and buy gas and bread and stuff to see what it’s really like for the people like us?”

Read or listen to it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, --The 2009 American Health Care Reform Debate, Health & Medicine, House of Representatives, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, Senate

The old secular cross? High court to consider issue of church-state separation

If the court reaches the constitutional issues at hand, all sides agree it could provide clarity to the court’s blurry rules on church-and-state separations. It could also carry important implications for the fate of war memorials around the country that feature religious imagery — the Argonne Cross in Arlington National Cemetery, for instance, or the Memorial Peace Cross in Bladensburg.

The Mojave cross’s protectors, which include veterans groups and the federal government, say the symbol is a historic, secular tribute; its original plaque from the 1930s said it was erected to honor “the dead of all wars.” They argue that Congress has taken the steps to distance itself from any appearance of endorsing a religious display.

But the American Civil Liberties Union, Jewish and Muslim veterans, and others say government actions have only deepened the problem. In an effort to avoid the lower courts’ rulings that it must come down, Congress has designated the site the country’s only official national memorial to the dead of World War I, elevating it to an exclusive group of national treasures that includes the Washington Monument and Mount Rushmore.

Congress’s actions ensures that “the cross necessarily will reflect continued government association with the preeminent symbol of Christianity,” the ACLU said.

It seems an improbable importance for this piece of desert land, where temperatures regularly hit three digits, an hour can go by without a passing car and somewhere nearby is likely to be a Mojave Green, the desert’s own highly lethal variety of rattlesnake.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Church/State Matters, Law & Legal Issues, Religion & Culture

The devastating consequences of Teen Violence in Chicago

Visit msnbc.com for Breaking News, World News, and News about the Economy

Watch it all–makes the heart sad–KSH.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Children, Education, Marriage & Family, Teens / Youth, Violence

The Bishop of Missouri on some of What General Convention 2009 did and Didn't do

First, the resolution deserves a reading in its totality, despite a tendency to separate the most newsworthy section from the rest and treat it in isolation. Five of the seven resolves in this action, for example, directly address the participation of the Episcopal Church in the Anglican Communion. While this resolution addresses the rightful place of gay men and lesbians in the common life of the Episcopal Church, that life is given context within a community of Christians larger than this Church alone. D025 addresses both inclusion and communion””and gives greater attention to issues of communion.

Second, the resolution recognizes the canonical access to the ordination process for gay men and lesbians, a recognition which they and their allies have asked for, and for which they and I are grateful. They also understand fully, I believe, that access to a process is never a guarantee of ordination itself. Our canonical and pastoral processes toward ordination never treat ordination as a right for anyone. But anyone has the full privilege of presenting himself or herself to the Church in order to say: I believe I am so called. This is a pastoral clarification which D025 makes, for the sake of gay men and lesbians.

Third, and with this being the case, D025 does not in itself represent an end to the moratorium on the ordination of partnered gay men or lesbians to the episcopate. To state the obvious, this moratorium would end only in the event of such an ordination.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), General Convention, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), TEC Bishops

David Brooks: The Next Culture War

Our current cultural politics are organized by the obsolete culture war, which has put secular liberals on one side and religious conservatives on the other. But the slide in economic morality afflicted Red and Blue America equally.

If there is to be a movement to restore economic values, it will have to cut across the current taxonomies. Its goal will be to make the U.S. again a producer economy, not a consumer economy. It will champion a return to financial self-restraint, large and small.

It will have to take on what you might call the lobbyist ethos ”” the righteous conviction held by everybody from AARP to the agribusinesses that their groups are entitled to every possible appropriation, regardless of the larger public cost. It will have to take on the self-indulgent popular demand for low taxes and high spending.

A crusade for economic self-restraint would have to rearrange the current alliances and embrace policies like energy taxes and spending cuts that are now deemed politically impossible. But this sort of moral revival is what the country actually needs.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Religion & Culture, Theology

Calpers was Doing WHAT? Think Carefully About What this Means

Last year’s credit crunch exposed cases in which investors’ agents placed collateral into risky pools of securities that had big losses. That spurred lawsuits by investors against agents. In some cases, the declines have been so severe that they undermined years of profits. The California Public Employees’ Retirement System reported last month a loss of $634 million for its securities-lending program in the year ended in March.

Wilshire Consulting said that figure could end up as high as $1 billion, wiping away much of the $1.4 billion that Calpers has earned from this since its inception more than 20 years ago.

“We are in the process of developing new policies to reduce risk and losses in the program’s reinvestment of collateral cash,” said Calpers spokesman Brad Pacheco.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, Politics in General, State Government, Stock Market, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

Bishop Pierre Whalon reflects on the Anglican Covenant

People continue to go back and forth about the proposed Anglican covenant, perhaps more so (if possible) since Archbishop Williams’ July 27 essay, Communion, Covenant, and Our Anglican Future, in which he commented on the actions of General Convention. The upshot of Cantuar’s piece is that a Covenant is desperately needed if there is to be an Anglican Communion, that is, a “theologically coherent ‘community of Christian communities’.”

More recently, a group of Episcopal scholars, along with the Bishop of Durham, has opined that the 2009 General Convention has already rejected the Covenant, particularly in Resolution D025””brushing aside the last (and in rhetoric, the most important) paragraph that acknowledges continuing disagreement among Episcopalians on how to fully include gay and lesbian people in the life of the church. This piece seems to deploy a “hermeneutic of deep suspicion”””that is, if they say one thing, they really mean the contrary. Up means down, right means left…you get the picture.

Let’s all try to remember D020. Convention 2009 asked all the dioceses to consider carefully a Covenant draft which is still not out yet.

Read it carefully and read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Covenant, Episcopal Church (TEC), Europe, TEC Bishops