Daily Archives: August 12, 2010

Grace Slick Paints Pandas, Aids Fishermen, Recalls Woodstock

Clash: What’s your main memory of Woodstock?

Slick: Woodstock was a mess. We were in our hotel and the roads were clogged, so they sent a helicopter to pick up the band and drop us backstage a half-hour before we were to go on. We got there at 9 p.m. but didn’t play until six the next morning! Things kept getting screwed up.

Clash: Later that year you also played at Altamont, where a fan was killed by a member of the Hells Angels.

Slick: People say Altamont was the “end of the ”˜60s.” It was unfortunate, but at the time we didn’t think of it as signaling anything. The fact that nobody got killed at Woodstock is amazing because that was half a million people. We only had 300,000 at Altamont.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., History, Music

Damian Thompson–Why Apple is Catholic and PCs are Protestant

I wrote an article for the Daily Telegraph this week in which I talked about a crucial aspect of Apple’s appeal: the way good old Steve Jobs relieves us of the burden of installation and other tedious tasks by making his designers and engineers do the intermediary work for us. No Protestant work ethic for straight-out-of-the-box iPad users! We leave that to PC customers, who peruse their tiny-print instruction manuals as intently as Calvinists poring over their well-thumbed Bibles. And that rang a bell”¦

Back in 1994, Umberto Eco declared that Mac was Catholic and the intimidating MS-DOS operating system was Protestant….

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Science & Technology

HAMP–The Treasury's Mortgage Modification Program ”“is worse than we thought

From the FT’s Alphaville blog:

So the US Treasury’s centrepiece mortgage modification programme ”” Hamp ”” is something of a failure. That much we knew already.

But Laurie Goodman over at Amherst Securities brings up another point.

The programme actually has a lower success rate than other modification programmes ”” even those that involve a similar amount of payment reduction.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, Housing/Real Estate Market, The 2009 Obama Administration Housing Amelioration Plan, The U.S. Government, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner

Dean of Westminster Abbey–”˜It is good that the Pope is coming’

[Catholic Herald question]: What do you feel is the significance of the Pope visiting Westminster Abbey in particular, rather than another prominent Anglican place of worship such as St Paul’s?

In 1982, Pope John Paul II of course came to Canterbury and so he met the Archbishop of Canterbury there. That was a very significant and important occasion.

That was a pastoral visit. This is a state visit, so he’s coming partly as head of state, as well as head of the Roman Catholic Church, and every head of state is invited to come and lay a wreath at the grave of the unknown warrior.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Pope Benedict XVI, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic

What the Judicial System Often Looks like to the Have nots–Death Row Inmate James Fisher's Story

Mr. Fisher, who is African-American, was arrested in upstate New York and returned to Oklahoma, where he pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder. He faced execution if convicted, a prospect that, records show, his well-respected lawyer did little to avoid.

The lawyer, E. Melvin Porter, a civil rights advocate and the first African-American elected to the Oklahoma State Senate, later said that at the time he considered homosexuals to be “among the worst people in the world,” and Mr. Fisher to be a “very hostile client.”

Mr. Porter was shockingly ill-prepared for trial ”” “unwilling or unable to reveal evident holes in the state’s case,” a federal appellate court later noted, yet “remarkably successful in undermining his own client’s testimony.” He exhibited “actual doubt and hostility” about his client’s defense, the court said, and failed to present a closing argument, even though the state’s case “was hardly overwhelming.”

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Children, Economy, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Poverty, Prison/Prison Ministry, Psychology, Race/Race Relations

Unrest Is Undermining Hopes for Afghan Vote

Worsening insurgent violence in many parts of the country is raising concern about Afghanistan’s ability to hold a fair parliamentary election in little more than a month, a crucial test of President Hamid Karzai’s ability to deliver security and a legitimate government.

After last year’s troubled presidential election, both the government and its foreign supporters are under intense pressure to hold a credible vote for Parliament, scheduled for Sept. 18. Last time, insecurity, inadequate monitoring and rampant fraud led to a drawn-out dispute that soured relations between Mr. Karzai and his Western backers so badly that they have yet to recover the trust lost on both sides.

As American commanders look toward a deadline to begin withdrawing troops next year, they would like the election to show that the government is capable of standing on its own. But already Western diplomats and observers are lowering expectations for the election, while Afghans are increasingly disillusioned and fatalistic about the prospects for democracy.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Afghanistan, America/U.S.A., Asia, Foreign Relations, Politics in General, War in Afghanistan

BBC–Iraqi general says planned US troop pull-out 'too soon'

Iraq’s top army officer has criticised as premature the planned US troop withdrawal by the end of next year.

Lt Gen Babaker Zebari warned that the Iraqi military might not be ready to take control for another decade.

The US says it is on target to end combat operations by the end of August and meet its deadline for removing all troops by the end of 2011.

It has 64,000 soldiers in Iraq. About 50,000 will remain until 2011 to train Iraqi forces and protect US interests.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Defense, National Security, Military, Foreign Relations, Iran, Iraq, Iraq War, Middle East

A New Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll: Grim American Mood Turns Grimmer

Underpinning the gloom: Nearly two-thirds of Americans believe the economy has yet to hit bottom, a sharply higher percentage than the 53% who felt that way in January.

The sour national mood appears all-encompassing and is dragging down ratings for the GOP too, suggesting voters above all are disenchanted with the political establishment in Washington. Just 24% express positive feelings about the Republican Party, a new low in the 21-year history of the Journal’s survey. Democrats are only slightly more popular, but also near an all-time low.

The results likely foreshadow a poor showing in November’s mid-term for Democrats, whose leaders had hoped the public would grow more optimistic about the economy and, as a result, more supportive of the party agenda. Now, despite the weak Republican numbers, the survey shows frustrated voters on the left are less interested than impassioned voters on the right to in the election.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Budget, Economy, House of Representatives, Housing/Real Estate Market, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, Psychology, Senate, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, The U.S. Government

The ACC Constitution: An Interview with ACC's legal adviser Revd Canon John Rees


Q. When did discussions about this change first take place? Who drew up the new articles and on what basis?

The issue was first raised at the time of the ACC meeting in Dundee, Scotland, in 1999, and a drafting committee was established after the Hong Kong ACC meeting in 2002. The drafting committee met with me on a number of occasions between 2002-2005, and the Committee’s draft was the subject of intensive discussion at the Nottingham ACC meeting in 2005.

Q. There’s recently been media speculation that proper procedures weren’t followed as regards getting assent to the change from the old constitution to the new.

It’s good to see that there are Anglicans out there who care that things are being done properly. Certainly no one in the Communion is above criticism. I’ve already explained that a change to the Constitution was planned and discussed at several ACC meetings. Then, as required by Article 10 of the old constitution, the draft was circulated for approval by the provinces of the Communion after the 2005 Conference. It finally achieved the requisite level of replies””two thirds of Anglican Communion provinces””and this was reported to the ACC in Jamaica in 2009, after which it was submitted for registration at Companies House and by the Charity Commission.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Consultative Council, England / UK, Law & Legal Issues, Religion & Culture

(NY Times) Debts Rise, and Go Unpaid, as Bust Erodes Home Equity

The delinquency rate on home equity loans is higher than all other types of consumer loans, including auto loans, boat loans, personal loans and even bank cards like Visa and MasterCard, according to the American Bankers Association.

Lenders say they are trying to recover some of that money but their success has been limited, in part because so many borrowers threaten bankruptcy and because the value of the homes, the collateral backing the loans, has often disappeared.

The result is one of the paradoxes of the recession: the more money you borrowed, the less likely you will have to pay up.

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Prechter: The Last Time The Market Looked Like This Was Right Before The ’87 Crash


Keith R. McCullough–Is this finally the economic collapse?


Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, Housing/Real Estate Market, Personal Finance, The Banking System/Sector, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

David Broder (Washington Post): Will Congess Allow Budget Cuts?

… applying the brakes to runaway federal spending will not be easy. As the first reaction to [Defense Secretary Robert] Gates’s announcement showed, whatever their proclaimed ideology, local politicians will squeal when their constituents feel the budget ax.

Among the first to challenge Gates’s decision to eliminate the Virginia-based military command was Virginia Gov. Robert McDonnell, a Republican who has not hesitated to trim spending proposals by his Democratic predecessors.

He was joined by the state’s two Democratic senators, Mark Warner and Jim Webb, who talk a good game of budgetary responsibility but squirm when it hits home.

Obama may have thought it was tough work to push Congress into spending all that he wanted for economic stimulus, education and other causes close to his heart. He is about to learn that nudging the lawmakers to trim the budget may be even tougher.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Budget, Economy, House of Representatives, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, Senate, The U.S. Government

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Florence Nightingale

Life-giving God, who alone hast power over life and death, over health and sickness: Give power, wisdom, and gentleness to those who follow the example of thy servant Florence Nightingale, that they, bearing with them thy Presence, may not only heal but bless, and shine as lanterns of hope in the darkest hours of pain and fear; through Jesus Christ, the healer of body and soul, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Church History, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer to begin the Day

God Almighty bless us with his Holy Spirit this day; guard us in our going out and coming in; keep us ever steadfast in his faith, free from sin and safe from danger; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Scripture Readings

So the woman left her water jar, and went away into the city, and said to the people, “Come, see a man who told me all that I ever did. Can this be the Christ?” They went out of the city and were coming to him.

–John 4:28-30

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

James Saft (Reuters)–A massive demographic shift is underway with huge Economic Implications

A new Bank for International Settlements working paper by economist Elod Takats looks at the interaction of demographics and asset prices and finds not a meltdown but a long hard slog for house prices and, by extension, for other assets like stocks.

“If you look at the U.S., or most English-speaking countries, the next 40 years is substantially different from the last 40,” Takats said.

“We had demographic tailwinds over the past forty years and will have headwinds over the next forty.”

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Aging / the Elderly, America/U.S.A., Economy, Housing/Real Estate Market, Stock Market, Young Adults