Daily Archives: November 2, 2011

(LA Times) Reinventing online ads

“Survivor” is considered a watershed in paid product placements, opening the floodgates to a projected $2.75 billion in spending this year on such shows as “The Tonight Show With Jay Leno,” WWE’s “Monday Night Raw,” “American Idol” and “Celebrity Apprentice.” Before “Survivor,” brands got promotional placements in exchange for use of a prop, such as a car, or as a bonus for buying commercial time.

[Mark] Burnett is now trying to bring that formula to the Web through his investment in the Vimby digital production studio. The Van Nuys venture launched in 2005 with a network of filmmakers around the country who create original, short-form videos for Vimby’s website that now also may find a home on other sites including YouTube and Myspace. As part of Burnett’s investment in 2010, Vimby began rubbing elbows with such major advertisers as Aflac, General Mills, Macy’s, McDonald’s, Pepsi and Puma ”” helping these brands create their own content for distribution on YouTube or on a company’s Facebook page.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Blogging & the Internet, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Media, Psychology, Science & Technology

(WSJ) Parents Outsource the Basics

Some New York City children take after-school classes in dance, pottery or softball. Once a week, Gillian and Hunter Randall add an unusual activity to the list: lessons on how to shake hands.

It’s a class taught by SocialSklz:-), a company founded in 2009 to address deteriorating social skills in the age of iPhones, Twitter and Facebook friends.

“It’s hard to have a real conversation anymore. And you know what? I’m guilty of it too,” said the Randalls’ mother, Lisa LaBarbera, noting that her 10-year-old daughter and 8-year-old son both have iPod touches and handheld videogame devices. “You get carpal tunnel, but you’re not building those communication skills.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, --Social Networking, Blogging & the Internet, Children, Education, Marriage & Family, Science & Technology

(Globe and Mail) William Hague–How shall we respond to the challenges of a networked world?

In developing countries, the Internet is making a difference and giving many a better future, from educating rural communities to enabling the remote monitoring of HIV patients and predicting outbreaks of disease.

But the rise of the networked world has also produced significant challenges that undermine these benefits and pose a serious threat to reaping the full potential of a cyber world.

Progress has been made in recent years to enhance global connectivity. Yet, the digital divide remains substantial: 95 per cent of Icelanders have Internet access, compared with just 0.1 per cent of Liberians. Two-thirds of the world’s population is still unable to log on.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, --Social Networking, Blogging & the Internet, Globalization, Science & Technology

(AP) Poland has largest gathering of rabbis since WWII

Dozens of rabbis from across Europe have gathered in Warsaw for the largest meeting of Jewish religious leaders in Poland since the community was virtually wiped out during World War II.

This year’s Conference of European Rabbis will focus on a range of issues affecting European and global Jewry, including attempts in Europe to ban the Jewish method of religious slaughter of animals.

But, the rabbis will also discuss the problem of validating the Jewish identity of people who have not practiced Judaism in two or three generations. This has become an issue in countries like Poland, where many people with Jewish ancestry were so traumatized by the Holocaust and postwar anti-Semitism that they lived secular or Christian lives for decades and are only now again embracing a Jewish life.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Europe, Judaism, Other Faiths, Poland, Religion & Culture

(Vatican Radio) Archbishop of Canterbury: from Assisi to Zimbabwe

On Pope Benedict’s words in Assisi: “I thought it was very interesting that, in typical style, he did a very sophisticated analysis of different kinds of denial, different kinds of violence, and I think what he was driving at was ”¦ the denial of God sooner of later involves a denial of humanity, and if you want to have a real humanism, it must be somehow open at the top. Without that, you get the anti-humanist religion of the terrorist and the anti-religious humanism of the secularist and they’re neither of those good for us as a world.”

On his own intervention in Assisi: “I quoted yesterday one of my favourite poets – and it’s possibly the first time a Welsh Quaker school teacher has been quoted in this sort of context – but this particular writer, Waldo Williams, for him the notion of recognition is at the very heart of what he’s doing in his poetry, what he was doing as a Christian, as a peace activist, recognition that something strikes you in the other as so like you, that you can not any longer treat them as a stranger and that’s the moment of breakthrough, morally and spiritually”

On his unscheduled visit during the lunch break in Assisi: “The Holy Father was resting, but the Ecumenical Patriarch and I were whisked away to visit the new house which the Bose community has established in Assisi ”“ for those of us who know Bose it had an immediate family feeling, the beauty and simplicity of the chapel , the warmth of the welcome about a dozen of the brothers had come down for the day, so I’m very glad I didn’t miss out on that ”“ even if I did miss out on the siesta!”

Read (or listen to) it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Archbishop of Canterbury, Inter-Faith Relations, Other Churches, Pope Benedict XVI, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic

(RNS) U.S. Seminaries Consider Radical Changes

For more than 200 years, Andover Newton Theological School (ANTS) has trained future pastors to have expertise in biblical studies, pastoral care and preaching.
But in today’s world, the nation’s oldest school of theology has decided that’s no longer enough, and other schools are starting to agree.

Under a recent curriculum overhaul, ANTS students must prove competency in key skills for the 21st-century church, including high-tech communication and interfaith collaboration. They still study theology, but unless they can use it to help others find meaning, they don’t graduate.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, --Social Networking, America/U.S.A., Blogging & the Internet, Media, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology, Seminary / Theological Education, Theology

(City A.M.) Allister Heath–Why the Archbishop has got it wrong

[The Church of England]…has long since turned its back on its core competence of bread and butter theology and helping its members navigate life, preferring instead to turn itself into a politicised advocacy group. It is more interested in fighting capitalism, calling for ever more government spending and higher taxes and jumping onto every fashionable left-wing bandwagon (the most recent being banker-bashing and Tobin taxes), rather than talking about God (whom its clerics presumably still believe in), the difference between right and wrong in personal decisions, and how responsible individuals can do good themselves through their behaviour, choices and private charity….

Everybody knows that the peculiar economic system that we had during the noughties ”“ its strange combination of big government, free markets, rigged markets and ultra-low interest rates ”“ failed and needs reform. My view is that we need to embrace the discipline of real capitalism ”“ and banish the moral hazard and risk-taking that corporatism and bailouts guarantee ”“ and return to sound money with properly priced credit. Others prefer different solutions. But everybody with a heart wants to fight unemployment, improve the prospects of the poor, and make the world a better place. It is just that we disagree on the means to achieve this.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Archbishop of Canterbury, Economy, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Religion & Culture, Stock Market, The Banking System/Sector, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, Theology

Archbishop Rowan Williams' FT Op-Ed –Time for us to challenge the idols of High Finance

One is something we have now heard clearly from many sources ”“ a plea endorsed by the Vickers Commission that routine banking business should be clearly separated from speculative transactions. The rolling-up of individual and small-scale savings into high-risk and high-return adventures in the virtual economy is one of the more obvious danger areas. Early government action in this area is needed. A second plea is to recapitalise banks with public money. Banks should be obliged in return to help reinvigorate the real economy.

The third suggestion is probably the most far-reaching. The Vatican statement strongly backs the proposal of a Financial Transaction Tax ”“ a “Tobin Tax” or, popularly, a “Robin Hood Tax” in the form in which it has been talked about most recently. This means a comparatively small rate of tax (0.05 per cent) being levied on share, bond, and currency transactions and their derivatives, with the resulting funds being designated for investment in the “real” economy, domestically and internationally. The modest rate of taxation conceals the high levels of return that could be expected (some $410bn globally on one estimate)….

Read it all. [Please note that the FT subscriber only link is there.]

Another note: Alert blog readers may recall that Rowan Williams’ arguments here are not new but they have been stated a number of times before.

A further update: I see Ralph Nader is in the Wall Street Journal making a similar argument for the Financial Transaction Tax.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Anglican Provinces, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England (CoE), Credit Markets, Currency Markets, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Euro, European Central Bank, Law & Legal Issues, Religion & Culture, Stock Market, The Banking System/Sector, Theology

(WSJ) Gerald O'Driscoll–Why We Can't Escape the Eurocrisis

Americans must not be smug about the suffering of Europeans””our financial system is thoroughly integrated with theirs. Moreover, the International Monetary Fund will most likely be involved in the event of future bailouts and will likely need large funds from its members, which ultimately means the taxpayers.

And, of course, the U.S. has its own large and growing public debt burden. We have not gone as far down the road to entitlements, but we are catching up. If you want to know how the debt crisis will play out here, watch the downward spiral in the EU.

Meanwhile, expect more volatility in financial markets. U.S. traders in particular simply have not grasped the enormity of the EU debt crisis.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, --European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010, America/U.S.A., Credit Markets, Currency Markets, Economy, Euro, Europe, European Central Bank, Federal Reserve, Foreign Relations, France, G20, Germany, Greece, Politics in General, Stock Market, The Banking System/Sector, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, The U.S. Government

Austerity Faces Test as Greeks Question Their Ties to Euro

The crisis of the euro zone has finally hit the potholed road of real politics, with the Greeks now openly questioning whether their commitment to Europe and its single currency still matters more to them than control over their own future and economic well-being.

During the two-year financial crisis, the wealthier countries of northern Europe, led by Germany, have insisted that their heavily indebted brethren in the south radically cut spending in return for emergency loans. They have stuck to that prescription even though austerity has undermined growth and increased unemployment in Greece, Spain, Portugal and now Italy, betting that people in those countries will swallow the harsh medicine because their only alternative is to default and possibly leave the euro zone altogether.

The turmoil in the government of Prime Minister George A. Papandreou means that Greece is about to call that bet. Many Greek politicians appear to be calculating, at this late stage, that they have more to lose by sticking to Germany’s terms than by risking a messy default, and even going it alone with their old currency, the drachma, outside the euro zone.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, --European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010, Credit Markets, Currency Markets, Economy, Euro, Europe, European Central Bank, Federal Reserve, Foreign Relations, France, G20, Germany, Greece, Politics in General, Stock Market, The Banking System/Sector, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, The U.S. Government, The United States Currency (Dollar etc), Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner

Medicare report calls for better tracking of serious hospital errors

Medicare inspectors must do a better job of tracking reports of serious mistakes in care at the nation’s hospitals, as well as of informing rating agencies of the errors, according to a report released today by the agency’s inspector general.

Hundreds of serious errors go unrecorded, the report found, because the inspectors who find problems at hospitals don’t tell the national agencies that accredit hospitals. That means that those hospitals continue to participate in Medicare and that they don’t learn from their mistakes, Inspector General Daniel Levinson wrote.

Also, Levinson wrote, no one tracks the effectiveness of policy changes or how the hospitals actually correct mistakes.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Budget, Economy, Health & Medicine, Medicare, The U.S. Government

A Last Bastion of Civility, the South, Sees Manners Decline

Atlanta–One August night, two men walked into a popular restaurant attached to this city’s fanciest shopping mall. They sat at the bar, ordered drinks and pondered the menu. Two women stood behind them.

A bartender asked if they would mind offering their seats to the ladies. Yes, they would mind. Very much.

Angry words came next, then a federal court date and a claim for more than $3 million in damages.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch

A Prayer for the Feast Day of All Souls

O God, the Maker and Redeemer of all believers: Grant to the faithful departed the unsearchable benefits of the passion of thy Son; that on the day of his appearing they may be manifested as thy children; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and ever. Amen

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

A Prayer to Begin the Day

O God, who hast brought life and immortality to light by the gospel, and hast begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead: Make us steadfast and immovable in the faith, always abounding in the work of the Lord, who died for our sins and rose again, and now liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, world without end.

–James Mountain

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

From the Morning Bible Readings

And a great portent appeared in heaven, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars; she was with child and she cried out in her pangs of birth, in anguish for delivery. And another portent appeared in heaven; behold, a great red dragon, with seven heads and ten horns, and seven diadems upon his heads. His tail swept down a third of the stars of heaven, and cast them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was about to bear a child, that he might devour her child when she brought it forth; she brought forth a male child, one who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron, but her child was caught up to God and to his throne, and the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, in which to be nourished for one thousand two hundred and sixty days. Now war arose in heaven, Michael and his angels fighting against the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought, but they were defeated and there was no longer any place for them in heaven. And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the Devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world–he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him. And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God. And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death. Rejoice then, O heaven and you that dwell therein! But woe to you, O earth and sea, for the devil has come down to you in great wrath, because he knows that his time is short!”

–Revelation 12:1-12

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture