Daily Archives: August 21, 2012

USA Today Editorial: Medicare problems finally arrive on center stage

It’s game on. But to understand the contest ”” and the associated scare tactics ”” it’s best to first understand a few unpleasant facts that are not in dispute:

”¢The popular old-age health insurance plan is on a financially unsustainable course. Medicare’s payroll tax and premiums that beneficiaries pay cover barely half the program’s costs, and as Baby Boomers retire, things will get worse. The tab is projected to rise rapidly: 7.6% a year for the doctor-care part of Medicare and 8.8% for the program’s prescription drug benefit, for example. The economy, a rough proxy for the nation’s ability to afford this, is growing less than 2% a year, leaving a huge gap.
”¢There is no painless fix. Both presidential candidates have committed to detailed plans for curbing costs, and no matter who wins, beneficiaries will pay more or get less, likely both. People who say otherwise are deluding themselves. As economist Herb Stein famously said: Anything that can’t go on forever won’t.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Aging / the Elderly, Budget, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Medicare, Middle Age, Office of the President, Personal Finance, Politics in General, Taxes, The National Deficit, The U.S. Government, Theology, Young Adults

(Independent) Katy Guest: I used to like Facebook. How did it all go wrong?

Reporting six months ago on the announcement of an initial public offering by Facebook, this paper sounded a warning to the social networking site. “An increasing number [of users] are likely to feel bruised as they are confronted with the bitter truth that they are mere fodder for a machine that means business,” wrote our consumer correspondent. A marketing expert added: “It takes clever leadership and in-depth understanding of where you can introduce business elements without destroying your value for users.”

Last week, stock in the company slumped to a new low. Many investors jumped at the first opportunity to offload their shares, reducing the value of the company to £34bn, from £104bn at its debut. To some who use Facebook, it was just desserts.

In many ways, the rise and potential fall of Facebook can be seen as a metaphor for the internet. It was invented in 2004 by a team of college students to fulfil a need that nobody knew they had, and quickly became one of the biggest companies in the world. It went “cash flow positive” in September 2009 with an annual advertising revenue of hundreds of millions of dollars. But although the internet has been around for longer than Facebook’s founder, Mark Zuckerberg, still nobody really knows how to use it. Or to “monetise” it, as the reports in the past week’s business pages put it.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, --Social Networking, America/U.S.A., Blogging & the Internet, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Law & Legal Issues, Psychology, Science & Technology, Stock Market

One in Four Mississippi Residents Struggle to Afford Food

One in four Mississippi residents report there was at least one time in the past 12 months when they did not have enough money to buy the food they or their families needed — more than in any other state in the first half of 2012. Residents in Alabama and Delaware are also among the most likely to struggle to afford food. Residents of North Dakota, South Dakota, and Vermont are among the least likely to have this problem.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Dieting/Food/Nutrition, Economy, Politics in General, Poverty, State Government, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

(WSJ) Apple is Now the Biggest-Ever U.S. Company by Market Capitalization

Apple Inc. surpassed Microsoft Corp. Monday as the largest U.S. company ever, measured by stock-market value.

Apple hit the new milestone””$623.52 billion””at a time when its influence on the economy, on the stock market and on popular culture rivals that of some of the most powerful companies in U.S. history: General Motors Co., GM -0.64% whose Corvette and Impala typified a confident postwar manufacturing giant; Microsoft, whose technology heralded the arrival of the personal computer and the early Internet age; and International Business Machines Corp., IBM -0.36% whose buttoned-down rigor inspired rivals to reach for greatness.

“It is one of those iconic companies,” says Richard Sylla, professor of financial history at New York University’s Stern School of Business. “When I think about these companies, their products were used by all kinds of people and their leaders were considered geniuses.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, History, Science & Technology, Stock Market

World Vision on the importance of maternal health

Simple and to the point–watch it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Children, Dieting/Food/Nutrition, Globalization, Health & Medicine, Women

(Tennessean) Liberal churches show signs of strength in Nashville

[The Rev. Eric] Greenwood, rector of St. David’s Episcopal Church in Nashville, says his denomination has its troubles. But it is still a force for good in the world.

“Everybody gets all excited about sex in the church,” he said. “But the good work that gets done in the name of God and our lord Jesus Christ, it will take your breath away.”

Nationwide, the numbers don’t look good for the Episcopal Church and other mainline Protestant denominations, most of which tend to hold more liberal beliefs. From 2000 to 2010, most suffered double-digit percentage declines in membership, leading some to wonder if those denominations can be saved in the future.

But in Nashville, those mainline churches have showed surprising strength and have grown in membership over the past decade.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Episcopal Church (TEC), Lutheran, Methodist, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Presbyterian, TEC Parishes, Theology, United Church of Christ

(Reuters) Russian church leader rejects criticism over state ties

The head of the Russian Orthodox Church, who has called President Vladimir Putin’s rule a “miracle of God”, defended its close ties with the state on Friday against criticism fuelled by the trial of three members of the Pussy Riot punk band.

In remarks published a day before a court issues its verdict in the trial over the band’s protest against the Church’s political role on a cathedral altar, Patriarch Kirill said the Church and state were merely bound by a “common agenda”.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Europe, History, Orthodox Church, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, Russia

([London] Times) John Lennox–Not the God of the gaps, but the whole show

The Higgs boson has been dubbed the “god particle” much to the dismay of many physicists, including Peter Higgs and Lawrence Krauss. Yet the latter, perhaps unintentionally, gives a new twist to the “god particle” epithet in his Newsweek article: “Humans, with their remarkable tools and their remarkable brains, may have just taken a giant step towards replacing metaphysical speculation with empirically verifiable knowledge. The Higgs particle is now arguably more relevant than God.” Krauss has not taken that giant step himself, since his statement, far from being a statement of science, is another metaphysical speculation ”” a mixture of hubris and an inadequate concept of God.

What does Krauss mean by “more relevant than God?” Relevant to what? Clearly the Higgs particle is more relevant than God to the question of how the universe works. But not to the question why there is a universe in which particle physics can be done. The internal combustion engine is arguably more relevant than Henry Ford to the question of how a car works, but not for why it exists in the first place. Confusing mechanism and/or law on the one hand and agency on the other, as Krauss does here, is a category mistake easily made by ignoring metaphysics.

Krauss does not seem to realise that his concept of God is one that no intelligent monotheist would accept. His “God” is the soft-target “God of the gaps” of the “I can’t understand it, therefore God did it” variety. As a result, Krauss, like Dawkins and Hawking, regards God as an explanation in competition with scientific explanation. That is as wrong-headed as thinking that an explanation of a Ford car in terms of Henry Ford as inventor and designer competes with an explanation in terms of mechanism and law. God is not a “God of the gaps”, he is God of the whole show.

Read it all (requires subscription).

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Apologetics, Atheism, England / UK, History, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology, Secularism, Theology

(ABP News) Churches lag in social media oversight

Sheryl Fancher likes to tell social media nightmare stories that make ministers cringe.

Like the one about a pastor who posted derogatory remarks about church members on his Facebook page without realizing his account was set to public.

Ouch….

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, --Social Networking, Blogging & the Internet, Ethics / Moral Theology, Media, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology, Theology

Phyllis Diller, comedian, dies at 95

Phyllis Diller, the cackling comedian with electric-shock hair who built an influential career in film and nightclubs with stand-up routines that mocked irascible husbands, domestic drudgery and her extensive plastic surgery, died Aug. 20 at her home in Brentwood, Calif. She was 95.

Her manager, Milton Suchin, confirmed the death but said he did not know the cause.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * General Interest, Death / Burial / Funerals, Humor / Trivia, Movies & Television, Parish Ministry, Theatre/Drama/Plays, Women

(USA Today) Mitt Romney-Paul Ryan GOP ticket reflects religious shift

By naming devout, conservative Catholic U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan to be his running mate, former governor Mitt Romney, once a Mormon bishop, did more than ensure the USA will have a Catholic vice president in 2013.

He established the first Republican ticket without a Protestant since 1860, when Abraham Lincoln, who belonged to no church, chose Maine Sen. Hannibal Hamlin, a Unitarian as his running mate, says Mark Silk, professor of religion and public life at Trinity College in Hartford, Conn.

Yet today’s GOP ticket ”” two Christians who are neither evangelical nor mainline Protestants ”” isn’t a major marker of social change, University of California history professor David Hollinger says.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, History, Office of the President, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

(Eureka Street) Andrew McGowan on the Anglican Ordinariate Three Years On

When the idea of an Anglican Ordinariate was announced in September 2009 in the apostolic constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus, the Times of London ran the headline ‘Vatican Parks Tanks on Rowan’s Lawn’.

It seemed an apt image at the time, for all sorts of reasons: one was the spectacularly undiplomatic character of the act, which was opposed by some in the Vatican and by very senior English Roman Catholics; another was the personal affront to Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, whose progressive leanings have never hidden a genuine admiration for the wider western catholic tradition of which his own Anglicanism is a part.

But the other implication of the image was one of a serious and lasting shift in power, a re-drawing of boundaries or movement of populations. Three years later it is more as though the Pope had, uninvited, sent over a Fiat cinquecento or two to pick up some stranded friends and their bags. As they leave the Lambeth Palace gates there is probably relief on both sides….

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Religion News & Commentary, - Anglican: Analysis, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), Ecumenical Relations, Other Churches, Pope Benedict XVI, Roman Catholic

A Prayer to Begin the Day

My God, my Father and Preserver, who of thy goodness hast watched over me during the past night, and brought me to this day, grant also that I may spend it wholly in the worship and service of thy most holy deity. Let me not think, or say, or do a single thing which tends not to thy service and submission to thy will, that thus all my actions may aim at thy glory and the salvation of my brethren, while they are taught by my example to serve thee. And as thou art giving light to this world for the purposes of external life by the rays of the sun, so enlighten my mind by the effulgence of thy Spirit, that he may guide me in the way of thy righteousness. To whatever purpose I apply my mind, may the end which I ever propose to myself be thy honour and service. May I expect all happiness from thy grace and goodness only. Let me not attempt any thing whatever that is not pleasing to thee.

Grant also, that while I labour for the maintenance of this life, and care for the things which pertain to food and raiment, I may raise my mind above them to the blessed and heavenly life which thou hast promised to thy children. Be pleased also, in manifesting thyself to me as the protector of my soul as well as my body, to strengthen and fortify me against all the assaults of the devil, and deliver me from all the dangers which continually beset us in this life. But seeing it is a small thing to have begun, unless I also persevere, I therefore entreat of thee, O Lord, not only to be my guide and director for this day, but to keep me under thy protection to the very end of life, that thus my whole course may be performed under thy superintendence. As I ought to make progress, do thou add daily more and more to the gifts of thy grace until I wholly adhere to thy Son Jesus Christ, whom we justly regard as the true Sun, shining constantly in our minds. In order to my obtaining of thee these great and manifold blessings, forget, and out of thy infinite mercy, forgive my offences, as thou hast promised that thou wilt do to those who call upon thee in sincerity.

(Ps. 143:8.)””Grant that I may hear thy voice in the morning since I have hoped in thee. Show me the way in which I should walk, since I have lifted up my soul unto thee. Deliver me from my enemies, O Lord, I have fled unto thee. Teach me to do thy will, for thou art my God. Let thy good Spirit conduct me to the land of uprightness.

–John Calvin (1509-1564)

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

From the Morning Scripture Readings

A Song of Ascents. I lift up my eyes to the hills. From whence does my help come? My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth. He will not let your foot be moved, he who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, he who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. The LORD is your keeper; the LORD is your shade on your right hand. The sun shall not smite you by day, nor the moon by night. The LORD will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life. The LORD will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and for evermore.

–Psalm 121

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

(News 24) Nigeria gunmen attack school, church

Gunmen in Nigeria’s troubled northeast blew up part of a primary school then attacked a Catholic church and police station before officers fought them off, police said on Monday.

Separately, two gunmen riding on motorcycles opened fire on troops at a military checkpoint in the northern city of Kano on Sunday, injuring a soldier, military spokesperson Iweha Ikedichi said.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Africa, Education, Law & Legal Issues, Nigeria, Police/Fire, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Violence