Archive for October 15th, 2011
When Google quietly launched its new Search by Image function last June, the official suggested uses for the new service were fairly benign. Try searching “places, art, or mysterious creatures,” the product description still suggests. To do that, you simply drag and drop an image into the search bar at images.google.com. Google then crawls its database and provides matches for those images (continue reading…)
This presidential election is beginning to look a lot like the contest of 1996, which saw a battered Bill Clinton win a second term in office by defeating Republican Senator Bob Dole. There are differences, to be sure, but the similarities are striking.
Coming into the ’96 election season, Republicans were still in a heady frame of mind. In the 1994 mid-terms, they had taken advantage of Clinton’s sagging approval ratings, swamping Democrats nationwide and taking control of Congress. Claiming a mandate, Republicans declared the president “irrelevant,” repeatedly pressing their agenda on the White House (continue reading…)
Does God answer our prayers?
A popular conception of prayer is that if we have faith in God, pray diligently and if the cause we are praying for is a righteous one (like the health of another person), then God will intervene in a supernatural way to make our wish come true. Many people can site examples where their prayers “have been answered” in such a miraculous way. But why do many other equally deserving prayers go unanswered? When we delve deeper into this topic, we may discover that we are asking the wrong questions.
Thinking of prayer as a mechanism to compel God’s action presents several difficulties. First, the idea that God intervenes in the world because of our prayers raises the centuries-old problem of theodicy (discussed in my earlier post here) (continue reading…)
Living in the Alaska backcountry, as I do, has its advantages, such as serenity, quietude and the ability to take in the landscape of vast unspoiled wilderness with just a glance out the front window. But it doesn’t come without some cost. It’s not so easy to run to the store in your pajamas for a quart of milk, for example. For me, it takes a one-hour small plane flight into Anchorage to get to my local grocery store — and about $1,200 to charter the airplane there and back (continue reading…)
No amount of conscientious travel planning can prepare you for those unexpected, trip-ruining twists like violent hurricanes, lost passports, abrupt political turmoil or sudden zombie attacks. Yes, the threat is real, but only if you’re deranged enough to believe everything you see on movie and TV screens.
Reanimated corpses by the millions have terrorized the public imagination ever since monster maestro Bela Lugosi appeared in White Zombie, considered the first feature-length zombie film, in 1932. Hollywood’s latest trip down zombie lane is season two of the critically acclaimed The Walking Dead (premieres October 16 on AMC), in which we join our protagonists on what promises to be the road trip from hell after escaping zombie-ravaged Atlanta.
Inspired by the series, we wondered where we might hide, and whether we stood a fighting chance, if we took a wrong flight and ended up in a zombie film (continue reading…)
A week or so ago, we posted a quiz on our blog called “Are you a Bad Guest?”, because year on year we see brides and grooms deal with so much drama that has nothing to do with planning the wedding and everything to do with guests who manage to make a day about others into an activity about their own needs.
Sadly, the worst behavior is typically saved for the actual reception itself. My belief is that the offensive guests usually aren’t self-aware enough to realize that they are being rude or inappropriate. So, to quote an Oprah-ism, “If you know better, you do better”, I thought I would prepare a simple check list of 10 things to not do if you are a wedding guest (continue reading…)
Links:Full news story
The Occupy Wall Street protest continues. So far, its staying power has surprised and enthused a large swath of America, and surprised and bemused much of the media. Solidarity “Occupy” protests have sprung up all across the land, for those without the means to travel to the main one in New York. This is all very encouraging, to say the least.
Lest I be misinterpreted, allow me to state up front that I have not participated in Occupy Wall Street, and therefore have no real right to make any sort of suggestion to the protesters (continue reading…)
As I’ve noted before, Mitt Romney has given some indications that he may be serious about doing something about America’s trade mess. He’s made tough statements about dealing with China which, if sincere, would not only put him beyond the other major Republican candidates on trade, but also far beyond what the Obama administration is doing.
I’ve been watching Romney ever since for signs of whether he’s sincere or not, and he just added a few more data points to the picture.
Here’s what he’s just said in an op-ed in the Washington Post, one that has the fingerprints of known China hawk Glenn Hubbard, a Romney advisor, all over it:
That’s boilerplate. But then things get interesting:
I’m glad I’m not the only person who’s about as afraid of starting a trade war as Ronald Reagan was of starting WWIII by proposing Star Wars! He continues:
If I am fortunate enough to be elected president, I will work to fundamentally alter our economic relationship with China. As I describe in my economic plan, I will begin on Day One by designating China as the currency manipulator it is (continue reading…)
Abu Dhabi – The diplomacy of Arab Gulf states has been very active, whether individually or collectively through the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), over the issues of the Arab region and their referral to international forums. Gulf countries have also practically and effectively participated in supporting radical change in Libya, for example, with funding and training hand in hand with diplomacy — sometimes from opposite sides. The political scene in the Gulf region indicates differences at varying degrees among GCC countries. Such differences are sometimes bilateral, while they are at other times focused on broader foreign policies, especially at the regional level and particularly in how to deal with Iran and its regional ambitions (continue reading…)
Conan The Barbarian will be among the many personalities attending this weekend’s New York Comic Con at the Javits Center. Well, not exactly, but the 6′ 4″ Jason Momoa, who played the sword-slashing Cimmerian in the recent reboot of the series that came out this summer will be there — though maybe not with blade in hand.
When the massive Momoa stepped into Planet Hollywood a couple of months ago to leave his big ol paw-prints and fighting sword there, he could have been any big brute with a cowboy hat on. But once it was doffed and he flung around his locks, the former Hawaiian clearly displayed why he was picked for Conan.
Add in a resume that includes playing Khal Drogo, a powerful warlord from George RR Martins’ Game of Thrones or fighter Ronan Dex from Stargate Atlantis, and Momoa certainly has the right creds to handle such an iconic character as Robert E (continue reading…)
A democratic fever is breaking out in United States of America. Young people have assembled in town squares throughout the nation, most notably on Wall Street. And while religious leaders have played a minor role in the Occupy movement, there is something deeply spiritual if not religious taking place.
As Jesus’s life was coming to end, his disciples were still trying to grapple with his notion of the Kingdom of God. In the tenth chapter of Luke, Jesus tells the now familiar story of the Good Samaritan (continue reading…)
It is time for the vet to give my 13-year-old Springer Spaniel a lethal injection. Isabella had been diagnosed with cancer a few months earlier and is now shaking and gasping for air. She is in pain.
My husband is in the air, on his way to a business meeting. So my friend Polly and I carry her in her dog bed into the vet’s office (continue reading…)
I was honored to open and set the tone for the Women’s Forum for the Economy & Society yesterday in Dueville, France. The conference is celebrating its 7th year with nearly 1400 participants from over 80 different countries. We launched this year’s meeting with the power of stories, especially told in visual form. The diverse and powerful panelists that joined me were: Yamina Benguigui, filmmaker and deputy mayor of Paris; Kathryn Hall-Trujillo, founder of the Birthing Project; and Euzhan Palcy, groundbreaking filmmaker of films such as Sugar Cane Alley and A Dry White Season (continue reading…)
As I reluctantly pulled myself out of bed the other morning, plopped down at the computer and slowly began slipping into my morning routine, I was struck by the trending topic everywhere I clicked — Michael Jackson. I immediately felt a pang of discomfort as I was sure this trending had something to do with either Dr. Conrad Murray’s trial and/or the controversial Jackson Family Tribute Concert recently held in England. But imagine my happy surprise as I clicked on the topic du jour and the first images that popped up were of Vogue editor Rushka Bergman and The King of Pop.
Well, it turns out while Mister GoLightly was out and about in the city that never sleeps, faithful America’s Next Top Model fans were being treated to a trilogy of fabulousness, “The Kardashians, The Jacksons and La Rushka Bergman.” Give me a moment while I collect myself from the thought of all this fabulosity in one place (continue reading…)
“Save a life, give blood,” read the sticker on a colleague’s lapel. It sounds wonderful — where do I sign up? Unfortunately, I can’t donate blood because I’m gay. Many people are surprised to hear that gay men are prohibited from donating blood in most countries around the world, including the U.S. I’ve sat at several dinner parties, perched atop my advocacy soapbox, informing straights and gays alike of the U.S (continue reading…)
The U.S. is prepared to spend up to five billion dollars to create more jobs for police officers, paying $100-$150k a year. The Government can’t find enough people to take the jobs, and is looking for recruits, no experience necessary, all training provided, right in your hometown.
One catch: the jobs are for Iraqis, in Iraq. No Americans need apply.
The secret mantra of the Iraq war has always been “training,” specifically the always-just-out-of-reach goal of training the Iraq security forces to take over from the U.S (continue reading…)
Do you realize that one of every four adults in America has a police record? Try getting a job with that in your background.
If you are one of this group — 65 million Americans — take heart and have hope.
With the U.S. unemployment over nine percent these days nearly everyone knows someone who is out of work or under-employed. It’s a tragic and desperate time for millions of Americans.
But there is one sector of the population hit harder than any other — those Americans who carry the stigma of a past criminal conviction. An almost unbelievable 65 million people – one in every four U.S (continue reading…)
Tamoura Hayes started high school in Chicago with big dreams for college that she already knew would be tough to reach. “C’mon,” she said. “I go to Marshall High School.”
Marshall is a West Side school that for decades has been known both for its stellar girls’ basketball team and its academic problems. The school’s educational failings weren’t lost on Tamoura, who went on to say that she “wasn’t even supposed to be here.” Marshall was her last option (continue reading…)
Americans want Congress to create jobs and fire up the economy, so yesterday the House of Representatives passed new restrictions on abortion — restrictions that will affect millions more women, including many who currently have insurance coverage for abortion. Can we connect these dots?!
No one plans to have an abortion just like no one plans to get sick. Yet we purchase insurance to cover us in case the unthinkable happens. And that protection is part of what H.R (continue reading…)
As much as we might like to think otherwise, politics and religion frequently overlap, as they do again this political season. The recent uproar caused by Pastor Robert Jeffress of the First Baptist Church of Dallas, Texas wherein he called Mitt Romney’s Mormon faith a “cult” is just the latest example of that overlap.
Jesus Christ said that we would be known by our actions rather than anything else. The act of judging another’s faith within political contests or as part of political strategy runs counter to the principles set forth in Article 6 of the United States Constitution, which state that “no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.” It serves us to remember that this nation was established by individuals seeking religious freedom. Though the Founding Fathers set forth restraints on government in the U.S (continue reading…)
When we think of lumber we don’t always consider pianos, guitars, and violins. Yet these musical instruments tend to be made of some of the most valuable, exotic and sought-after woods on the planet, often originating from some of the most imperiled forest regions on Earth. The shimmer of a guitar chord and the flourish of a violin alike owe their appeal not only to the song, not only to the strings, not only to the musicians themselves who bring the notes to life. No, the warmth, resonance and appeal of so much music really does depend on the very wood from which we craft our instruments.
And here’s where the story of the sustainability of fine wood and politics meet, striking a truly interesting note.
In terms of music quality tone wood obtained with environmental and social responsibility, instrument-manufacturers are an obvious agent of change (continue reading…)
My happiness project has turned me into a sleep zealot. If I want to feel happy, calm, energetic, and mentally sharp, I must get enough sleep.
At the same time, though, a resolution that has also boosted my happiness is “Get up earlier.” A few years ago, because I wanted a calmer, less hurried morning with my family, I started getting up earlier — and I enjoyed it so much that I’ve started setting my alarm earlier and earlier. I started at 7:00 a.m. with the rest of my family, then moved to 6:30, then 6:15, and now 6:00 (continue reading…)
Recently the New York Post incited concern over the much-overstated prospect of New York “taxpayers [footing] the bill for transgender residents to get ‘sexual-reassignment surgery.’” The reality is that the proposal by members of the Health Disparities Committee of the New York Medicaid Redesign Team to repeal a discriminatory provision of New York’s Medicaid regulatory scheme does little more than ensure equal treatment for Medicaid-eligible transgender New Yorkers. As one Medicaid recipient explains of the exclusion: “You see, they think we take these medications just to take them… but these are not recreational things that we just do on the side just to feel pretty… this is our lives.”
Medicaid recipients who are diagnosed with Gender Identity Disorder (GID) are currently refused treatment because of a biased and outdated regulation that discriminates against transgender individuals (continue reading…)