Predictions for 2011

Each year on my blog I like to make predictions for the coming year.  I invite you to do the same in the comments.  It's always fun to see the results.

  • The number 1 movie will be Pirates of the CaribbeanGreen Hornet in the top 5. The usual suspects like Harry Potter, Transformers, and Twilight will all be in the top 10.
  • Facebook will go crazy with 11:11:11 11/11/11 stuff
  • Some tablet computer running Android will be a genuine alternative to the iPad
  • The iPhone will move to an additional carrier but Andriod will have greater market share at year’s end
  • The ratings for American Idol will be off by at least 25%.  It won’t be canceled but will not return with the same judges in 2012.
  • There will be at least 10 announced Republican candidates for president.  No democrat will run against Obama
  • Kentucky will not be in the Final 4
  • Bret Favre will actually retire...probably…maybe…maybe not…yeah he will.
  • The world will not end on May 21 no matter what the billboards say
  • I will catch a 7 lb. bass
  • I will not still be working at the Wood Shed at the end of 2011
  • I will weigh less at the end of 2011 than at the beginning

Prediction Results 2010

On the last week of each year on this blog I make predictions about the coming year.  I invite my readers to do the same.  This is a recap of those predictions and how accurate I turned out to be.

  • Toy Story 3 will be the top movie of the year, Iron Man 2, the A-Team, and Harry Potter will also be in the top 15 – Toy story was #1, Iron man 2 was #3, Harry Potter was #6, The A-Team kept me from perfection on this pick by finishing #37.  I’m pretty pleased with this however.
  • The Dow will be higher at the end of 2010 than at the beginning – I know the year still has 3 days but this is going to be correct
  • There will be 15 e-book readers on the market by the end of 2010 but still no major publisher will release DRM-free books.  So I will not buy one – there are at least 25 on the market although only the Sony, Kindle, and Nook have any market share to speak of.  No major publisher has released a DRM-free book. I don’t own one.  I’m right on all 3 accounts.
  • The health care bill will not become final before May and by the time I write this post next year there will still be millions of uninsured Americans – It passed in March, but has yet to actually come into effect. I was half wrong here
  • The Twitter stream will have ads in it (not just spam) – Wrong on this one.  No ads in the stream.  Promoted tweets on the homepage but no ads in stream.
  • USA will be no better than 3rd in the medal count at the winter Olympics – Happily wrong about this one. USA finished first.
  • Kentucky will be in the Final 4 – Sadly wrong about this one
  • The finale of Lost will be mostly satisfying – I guess this one is a matter of opinion but I was mostly satisfied
  • I will not live in Kentucky at the end of 2010 – Colossal fail on this one
  • I will weigh less at the end of 2010 than I do at the beginning – I don’t know what I weigh today, but there is no question it is less than a year ago

By my count that makes me 10-6 (.625) in predictions for the year.  I never claimed to be a prophet or the son of a prophet, but it's fun to see how well I did.

Only one reader, Ryan, was brave enough to make predictions last year.  Here are his results

  • UNC will make it to the Sweet 16 – Didn’t even make the tourney
  • The Panthers will make the playoffs (Season starting August 2010) – Wow was this one wrong. The Panthers are currently 2-13
  • Matt Moore will (should) be their starting QB – I’ll give you half credit for this one
  • I will get a girlfriend – If so you have been awfully secretive about her
  • Apple will release a tablet that will be beautiful looking, but no one will buy it, because what the heck is it for? – iPad released, iPad beautiful, iPad sold millions, everybody has seen one in the wild.  You are 2-3 on this one
  • The newest Twilight will be in the top 10 for movies, for some stupid reason – Twilight #4 = correct

I'm saying Ryan is 4-5 (.444)

A Letter to My Representatives

I just sent the following letter to Jim Bunning, Mitch McConnell, Rand Paul (But I could only find a campaign address), Ed Whitfield, and Barrack Obama.  They are my United States representatives.  I thought I would share it with you. I am writing you today regarding the new TSA screening policies.

They are unacceptable.

First, let me be clear about something.  I want to be safe when I fly.  I do not want to share a plane with terrorists.

Second, I do not believe that the new screening practices make anyone safer.

Third, the new screening practices are unconstitutional. (As far as I know, the 4th amendment is still in effect.)  They are invasive at best, and immoral at their worst.

Airlines are a major economic factor in this country.  The new TSA requirements make me not want to fly for a host of reasons.  I do not want multiple x-rays per year.  I do not want anyone to see me naked. (I’m not worried about the pictures getting out because nobody else wants to see me naked either.  However, not everyone can say that.) And I certainly do not want to be groped.  The new pat-down procedure is tantamount to being groped.  No one can deny that.  If many people feel, as I do, that being subjected to such humiliation is not worth it, there will be disastrous economic consequences for the airlines.

I believe the security bottleneck makes flying more dangerous.  Simply put, where there is a backup and a long crowd, there is an opportunity.  Bombing 200 people standing in line at a security checkpoint is just as effective as blowing up a plane.

It makes me feel like the government is not really concerned about my safety, but rather with putting on a show.  These procedures will not make flying any safer. They will only make it more humiliating and less enjoyable.  However, we will continue to be subjected to this treatment because it looks like we are doing something.

Please do whatever is in your power to overturn these screening procedures and to implement a system that would actually make us safer.

- Concerned voter

This post mentions politicians by name so read the * in the right-hand column.

Is Hulu Killing TV?

There was a well-publicized quote by a dish Network executive last week that essentially said, Hulu is killing tv.  Since this blog is about whatever I think is interesting and I find this quote interesting, I am adding my own commentary. Here is my thought on the topic. Brace yourself, it’s pretty brilliant.


Of course Hulu is killing TV.  You know what?  I also have a feeling that the invention of the car is going to do serious damage to the horse & buggy industry.  It is the way of things,

better technology kills worse technology.  Blogs are killing newspapers, podcasts are killing radio, and cell phones are killing landlines.  I think that rather than to complain, the companies need to find a way to adapt.  Most will not and most will die.

There are only 2 reasons I still have paid television service today.

Reason number 1 is sports.  If not for sports, which I watch a lot of and do not care about on a delayed basis, I probably would overlook reason #2 and get rid of paid television service.

Reason number 2 is picture quality.  Like almost everyone I have a large HDTV that cost a lot of money.  Filling it with low quality video is frustrating.  Though I must admit, the video quality of Hulu or Netflix streaming over my x-box is quite acceptable.  I cannot say the same for or You Tube.  There are other ways to get acceptable quality video from the internet to my TV so I see this problem being remedied soon.

I’m curious, readers, have you seriously considered doing away with your television service like I have?  As soon as those 2 problems have an acceptable solution I’ll probably be gone.  What about you?  (BTW: I do not see an affordable solution to the sports issue on the horizon)

What You Learned in Children’s Church…

Has never been more important.  Remember this song?

O be careful little eyes what you see

Be careful little ears what you hear

Be careful little mouth what you say...

Be careful little hands, what you touch...

Be careful little feet, where you go...

The song goes on to say that God is watching us. (For the Father up above, he is looking down with love)

Not only is the message of the song undoubtedly true, but I think now we can add a verse.  Let’s look at a popular news story from last week.  After reading this article, maybe we should add a verse to the song that says, “O be careful little twitterer what you tweet.”

If you didn’t know it already you should learn that we live in a world where much of our lives is public.  (Nobody any worse than me and I have posted about this before.) Now, however, there is a company that is taking your twitter posts and your status updates and any other public info about you that they can find and building a profile to predict your future behavior.  They know that companies won’t want to hire you if you stand a good chance of embarrassing them publically.

Maybe I have missed the point on this story and this post should be about the fear we should have that people are trying to predict the future. I guess I just think that it’s perfectly fair to make assumptions about the future based on past behavior. You don’t really want to hire somebody if they have a track record of changing jobs every 6 months do you?  I don't see how this scenario is fundamentally different.

I think the point of this article is that we should be careful what we say because people (including future employers) are watching.

Does this prospect seem scary or unfair to you?

To Burn or Not to Burn?...

That's not even the question.  Obviously there's no good reason for a Christian minster to consider burning the Qur'an (or Koran?) so my question really is; why would he be considering doing this?  I have not heard any person from either end of the political or theological spectrum be supportive of the idea.  So I cannot believe that he has the actual conviction that God is telling him to do so. My belief is that it’s for attention.  Nobody has ever heard of Terry Jones (Not the waitress in this skit) before his plan to burn the Qur’an.  He had about 30 people in his church last Sunday, but he will have hundreds there (mostly media) for his book burning.

So I’ll just toss the question to you in the comments.  Why do you think he is burning the Qur’an?

BP & Me

Last week on this blog I asked a question.  Are you willing to buy gas at a BP station?  If you didn’t vote, now’s your chance.  If you did, you can click to see the results.[polldaddy poll=3300204] For me to decide whether or not to buy BP branded gas means asking a question. Is BP evil? My answer in short is - Probably not. I think it is fair to say they are negligent, because they did not take precautions that could have avoided the massive spill which followed the explosion. Negligence is a major problem, and they are [mostly] responsible for the disaster, but negligence is not willful and it is not evil.

For me the main reason why I’m not boycotting BP is that it hurts the local gas station more than it hurts BP. I won’t go out of my way to purchase BP gas. I simply won’t avoid it. Why? Because by avoiding BP gas I do great damage to the person who owns or works at my local station and have almost no affect whatsoever on BP corporate.

I completely understand why people would feel the need to boycott BP. People are angry, and rightfully so. To go with the anger there is the fact that we are all helpless to do anything. Unless somebody figures out a way to sell or refine tar balls, many, many people in resort jobs and locations will face disastrous financial situations. Even though this is horrible, the fact is that there is nobody in America who actually knows how to fix the problem. If we are all helpless what do we do? Boycott.

There are probably more effective forms of protest. You can maybe design a funny t-shirt, and give the proceeds to help scrub the beaches. Better yet, maybe go to Grand Isle, support their economy and while you are there, clean up a pelican.

If you can think about the oil leak and not be angry at someone, maybe you should watch this possible projection of where the oil will go.


Facebook & Privacy *an addendum

Yesterday I posted about my approach to Facebook in light of all the recent uproar over the lack of privacy and Facebook’s seeming desire to make its information more public and make it more difficult to change or understand the privacy settings.  My approach is simple.  I will just assume that every single piece of information on the site is public, just as this blog or Twitter.  (Just for the record, so you will not all think I am incapable of original thought, I wrote the bulk of yesterday’s post before reading this post by Ed Stetzer or hearing yesterday’s TWIT) Facebook?Today is an addendum to that post.  It includes a few thoughts about privacy.  I have noticed over the last few years that there are two distinct ways of looking at privacy.  I have also noticed that the line of demarcation for these two views is somewhere around 1973.  If you were born prior to 1973 you most likely think, “Why would anyone want to share info about themselves?  The world is full of people out to get you and you have to protect yourself.”  If you were born post 1973 you most likely think “Why not share all that info?”

Although I think it is wise to be careful, I’m definitely in the latter category.


Because nobody really wants to stalk me, or you.

And if they do really want to stalk you they will find some way with or without Facebook.  I believe we all have a natural tendency to think people are looking at us all the time.  We are naturally narcissistic.  In reality, only the people who care, will be interested in what you post.  Advertisers want to sell you stuff. (Which is why my Facebook ads are all for fishing and church-functions.)  Otherwise you are only sharing info with friends because strangers don’t care.  43% of identity theft is from people who know the victim, so it’s not like you are protecting yourself by leaving Facebook.  Your uncle is more likely to take out a credit card in your name than a stranger that learned about you from Facebook.

I guess that is really only one thought about privacy and Facebook.  Feel free to tell me in the comments why I am wrong and how dangerous it is.

What do I do about Facebook?

There is an increasing movement of displeasure with Facebook as articles pop up every day lately regarding their terrible privacy policy and the fact that nearly all of your profile information has now been made public in one way or another.  You can read this article, or this one, or this one, or this one, or this one, or this one, or this one, or this one, or this one, or this one.  But the best way to see it is to look at this graph of how public Facebook made info in the old days versus now.

Facebook Comparison

The people who are concerned are right to be concerned.  There is a major problem with any company that wants your information as badly as Facebook wants it being as irresponsible with it as Facebook is.  Also, Facebook has a frightening amount of your information.  They have everything from pictures of that one night in college when you were tripping on shrooms and had a conversation with an imaginary owl, to your child’s kindergarten graduation date.  I am not at all happy about the situation and I am, admittedly, as Facebook addicted as anyone.

Let’s face it though, unless something truly drastic happens, like maybe, Facebook begins selling your info directly to the mob, you are not going to leave.  I am probably not going to leave.  Honestly, I don’t know how it could get much worse than it is now.  Although, if I had children I would be very strongly considering making them close their account.  The thing that allows Facebook to be so cavalier with your information is the same reason you are probably not going to leave.  Everyone is on it.  In reality it has nearly killed the need for high school reunions.  There are people that I have lost track of for years that now I know how to contact easily.

So here’s the question.  If I am concerned about Facebook’s use of my information, but not planning to leave, what am I going to do about it?  In short, I’ll treat every piece of information on there as if it were completely public.  All my pictures, all my contact info, all my likes, and all of the links I post I will assume that everyone on the internet can see them, especially advertisers.  In short I will treat Facebook as if it were twitter.

I have always known that whatever I posted on twitter could be seen by everyone.  That doesn’t mean I have never tweeted anything that I should probably have kept to myself, but that knowledge helps me moderate myself.  And that is how I will treat Facebook in the future.

Tomorrow I have a few thoughts about the loss of privacy.

Tiger Woods, Buddhism, and Atonement

Unless you live under a rock, you know about Tiger Woods’ apology last Friday.  Many people have said many things about this apology and about his well-publicized dalliances.  I want to focus on only two portions and point out what I believe to be an inconsistency.  I am not critiquing his sincerity or even the quality of his apology.  I am only looking at the logic behind a couple of his statements. First, let’s look at a quote regarding Tiger’s Buddhist faith.

I have a lot of work to do, and I intend to dedicate myself to doing it. Part of following this path for me is Buddhism, which my mother taught me at a young age. People probably don't realize it, but I was raised a Buddhist, and I actively practiced my faith from childhood until I drifted away from it in recent years. Buddhism teaches that a craving for things outside ourselves causes an unhappy and pointless search for security. It teaches me to stop following every impulse and to learn restraint. Obviously I lost track of what I was taught.

Tiger has accurately stated the point of his faith.  Buddhism teaches that the major problem with the world is suffering, suffering comes as a result of desiring, and the way to end suffering is to stop desiring.  I will only point out briefly here that if Tiger ends his desire to be the greatest golfer of all time it would do major damage to his career.  So I doubt that he will end all desire.  Desire is where ambition comes from and ambition has made him a truly great golfer.

The greater inconsistency in the speech came earlier when Tiger said the following:

“For all that I have done, I am so sorry. I have a lot to atone for”

Atonement means making up for the wrong a person has done.

Here is why I see a great inconsistency with Tiger’s statement.  According to Buddhism, there is no need for atonement.  That is what karma and reincarnation are for.  If what you have done is wrong, the universe will handle it.  There is no need to try to make up for bad deeds and no point in trying.  Also, the universe, or the oneness of Buddhism is impersonal and therefore cannot be wronged, again making atonement unnecessary..

This is one of the many reasons that Christianity is beautiful.  When we do wrong, we know innately that we have wronged God.  The message of Christianity is not that God will “get even” that way that karma will, but rather that, through faith in Christ, all the work of atonement has been done already.  We cannot atone for our wrong actions, but Christ already has.

The Importance of a Theodicy

Theodicy is a theology of evil.  More specifically, it is a defense of God in light of the existence of evil.  This post is not the place for me to expound upon my theodicy.  I will say, however, that evil and suffering of all kinds (tsunami, terrorists, or tetanus) all exist because we live in a fallen world.  I do not believe that any evil actions/events need a further explanation.  Suffering happens.

Why blog about this today?  Because of the earthquake in Haiti.  We all have seen the pictures (the best I have seen are here) and they are heartbreaking.  For so many of us we feel the need to understand why.  The answer is, because we live in a fallen world. Genesis 3 makes it clear that the earth was broken by the fall and in a broken world, horrible things happen.

If you have a different theodicy, that answer may not be satisfactory.  And for someone who does not have faith in Christ, or maybe doesn’t even believe in God, these events bring up questions.  That is why every time some great disaster happens, some journalist asks some famous preacher why and said preacher gives some answer.

This time around that answer happens to have come from Pat Robertson.   He wasn’t asked a direct question, but he felt the need to justify God by explaining why this happened.  So he blamed the earthquake on the Haitian people.  Robertson’s answer stems from his theodicy.

I don’t have time to go into why his answer is presumptuous at best and superstitious at worst.

For my Christian readers I will say this, you need to think today about why you believe evil exists because one day it will hit close to home.

If you are interested, I will write more about this next week.

An Open Letter to the TSA

Dear Transportation Security Administration Must we learn everything the hard way?

I don’t want to stand in a security line for 2 hours.

Also, I don’t particularly want to explode.

Fortunately these things do not have to be mutually exclusive.  There is a solution to this problem.  There are probably multiple solutions.

Steve Breen

So far, however, the solution to our safety issue has not been a solution at all.  So far what we have done is reactionary overreaction.  (That is a phrase that just rolls off the tongue.)  I suppose it is a problem inherent within the democratic process.  All of our people in charge depend on being elected, which is good.  However, it motivates them to make a show.  What is important to politicians is that, even if nothing is actually accomplished, it looks like something important has changed so those depending on votes can be lauded for their efforts.  Even in the face of very good evidence that what has been done is ineffective, politicians laud themselves because perception is much more important than reality when you need votes from a largely uninformed public.

In the case of airport security, however I think the show has actually made us less safe.

Borrowing from a recent conversation and this article by Cathal Kelly in the Toronto Star I would like to make three suggestions.

First, share information. No need to rehash all the mistakes from the underwear bomber.  The fact is, if there was intergovernmental communication this wouldn’t have happened.  There are probably 1000 programmers who could develop a sharing system that is both simple and effective.  Abdulmutallab, the underwear bomber, could have been stopped by a FBI/CIA/DHS version of Digg.

Second, look at people. I don’t mean through the body scanner, I mean look at their behavior.  Right now there is only one real point of contact in an airport, the person who looks at your boarding pass and driver’s license.  And that’s not a very careful look because of the long line of people behind you. The other people in the security clearance are focused on the bags, facilitating shoe removal, and patting down Granny.  One thing I know is this.  If I was gifted at card counting, every casino in Las Vegas would know who I was as soon as I walked in the door.  They would certainly keep track of me.  And although all those casinos are in competition (allegedly, our government agencies are not) they would all know me.  I understand that casinos are better funded than the DHS, but safe flights are much more important.

I’m not too overly worried about the body scanner because I know that nobody really wants to see me naked.  In fact, having been to the beach, I know that we really don’t want to see almost anybody naked.

Third, crowds are inherently dangerous. Here is a quote from the above article “Lines are staggered. People are not allowed to bunch up into inviting targets for a bomber who has gotten this far.”  Bombing 200 people standing in line at a security checkpoint is just as effective as blowing up the plane.

There needs to be some sort of speed pass system for frequent flyers.  That alone would help alleviate much of the congestion at the lines.  I ahve flown 6 times in the last 5 years so this suggestion will only help me by clearing out those people who really pile up the miles.  But it only makes sense for there to be a system in place for those people.

I’ll end with a slightly more upbeat note.  I actually believe that there is almost no danger of a hijacking on board an airplane today because of the events of 9/11.  A plane full of passengers realizes that you cannot stab them all into submission.  So the box cutters used in those attacks will not work.  The cockpits are safer than before, and the presence of air marshals has helped.

2010 Predictions

These are my predictions for 2010.  Feel free to make your own predictions in the comments

  • Toy Story 3 will be the top movie of the year, Iron Man 2, the A-Team, and Harry Potter will also be in the top 15
  • The Dow will be higher at the end of 2010 than at the beginning
  • There will be 15 e-book readers on the market by the end of 2010 but still no major publisher will release DRM-free books.  So I will not buy one
  • The health care bill will not become final before May and by the time I write this post next year there will still be millions of uninsured Americans.
  • The Twitter stream will have ads in it (not just spam)
  • USA will be no better than 3rd in the medal count at the winter Olympics
  • Kentucky will be in the Final 4
  • The finale of Lost will be mostly satisfying
  • I will not live in Kentucky at the end of 2010
  • I will weigh less at the end of 2010 than I do at the beginning

Katie Couric is not Your Friend

Recently, in one of my classes, I went on a bit of a rant about this.  So I thought I’d share it with my blog because that’s what I do.  I should warn you however, before you read on, that this is one of those things that whenever I say it, people look at me strangely.  Be prepared to look askance at the monitor as you read this. Television news is not your friend.  The job of Fox News is not to inform you of the sorry state of liberal politics.  The Job of MSNBC is not to inform you of the evilness of conservative politics.  And the job of your local news is not to tell you about the neighborhood-altering decision your city council made in the meeting this evening.  They all serve the same function.  Their job is to make you watch commercials.

Watch our CommercialsI am not so cynical as to suggest that Keith Olbermann or Sean Hannity don’t believe what they are saying.  I am convinced that they believe it.  Nor am I suggesting that any of the news organizations are intentionally misleading anyone or making up the news.  (Most bias is in agenda setting, not reporting.) What I am saying is that if the news is accurate, it’s only because they know they would lose their audience if they were untrustworthy.  I am saying that everything these news shows say is done with ratings in mind.  That is why your local news program will show you a story about a murder 12 states away if it is sensational enough, even though it has nothing to do with their audience.  It's also why all networks will lead with weather, even if it's only a remote threat.  People are fascinated with the weather.

Let’s imagine a list of priorities for a news program, any news program whatsoever.  The number one priority on that list is ratings.  If for a second you think otherwise you are mistaken.  And now, let’s imagine the world’s greatest journalist, who always knows what aspects of a story to bring out and always gets immediately at the truth.  If that journalist looked bad on television, or was unspeakably boring so that no one wanted to watch.  There would be no show for that journalist.

A while back I recommended a book, How to Watch TV News by Neil Postman I will again recommend it.  Outrage, whether from the left or the right is a great motivator.  And people will watch to get stirred up because that’s good entertainment.

I won’t say that all they want is for you to watch, but I will say that that’s all their bosses care about.

Jon Stewart = Neil Postman

Oops...I guess I sort of left my regular readers hanging.  I promised this last week.  I found myself to be much busier than I expected last Thursday, and now I have sort of lost my energy for this post.  But since I said it was coming, here you go. Jon Stewart deals in what he calls “fake news.” He is thoroughly self-deprecating, and often laments that he is taken seriously by so many.  In reality The Daily Show is not so much “fake news” as it is commentary on the news.  Most of the Jon Stewart shtick is to point out how terrible news coverage is.  This video I linked to as a prelude to these thoughts illustrates this perfectly.  In it, he shows that CNN did a fact check on a Saturday Night Live sketch, while not even questioning a senator on his views of healthcare reform.  Then there is a barrage “leave it there” quotes.  This is the way that CNN doesn’t bother with fact checking.  They just bring in 2 points of view and debate.  Then end whenever it’s time for a commercial.

The daily show has repeatedly done critiques of the same sort on the networks and each of the cable news channels.

You might say that this is just rampant cynicism and not Neil Postman-like criticism of the news.  But even if it is just cynicism, it illustrates the same point – television news is in terrible condition.  Clearly Stewart is no Postman in terms of gravitas (to use a good cable-news word), and he is much more political, but his criticism is valid nonetheless.

The only thing lacking from Stewart’s criticism is the why.  Postman explained the why. News is terrible because the news organizations exist to make money, not to protect the first amendment.  If it is more profitable to show debates than truly look at the issues being debated, then debates will continue.  And Saturday Night Live is simply more interesting than charts and graphs looking at the financial impact of a given healthcare reform bill.

Neil Postman

I wonder if anyone who reads my blog has any idea who Neil Postman was? He was what I, and wikipedia, will call a cultural critic.  His most well-known book is Amusing Ourselves to Death, the thesis of which is that the ignorance and destruction of the future will not come in the way Orwell prophesied in Nineteen Eighty-Four, but the way Huxley prophesied in Brave New World.  That is to say, the downfall of intelligence is not in the form of oppression or governmental control, but in the form of a change in media to one that is enjoyed and desired, but consequently requires no thought.  In other words, our entertainment is making us stupid.

Also in Amusing Ourselves to Death Postman describes what he calls the age of show business.  He says that in this age, entertainment has become the greatest virtue of all, and the things that go with it must be accepted, whether good or bad, merely because they are necessary.  (e.g. Choosing the attractive news anchor over the articulate one.)  He explains how the terse nature of visual media, particularly television news, has the effect of removing the importance from every issue.  He even discusses how TV-izaition has resulted within other media forms.  The result is magazines with virtually no articles and newspapers with extremely short stories.  Postman claims this has destroyed news. Keep in mind that he wrote this book in 1985, long before the internet

He also cowrote a book with Steve Powers called How to Watch TV News.  I will give you the takeaways from the book more or less, straight from chapter one.  1.)TV is an unsleeping money machine. 2.) Management, not journalists, make news decisions based on business considerations. 3.) Decisions of what is newsworthy are based on what keeps viewers watching so that they will see commercials.

Tomorrow.  Why Jon Stewart is the modern Neil Postman

CNN responds to TWIT

Last week on This Week in Tech the panel had a prolonged discussion about how the "24 hour" cable news networks didn't cover the uprising over the Iranian elections whatsoever.  Twitter, however, had a lot of first-person information.  (Just have a look at the hashtag #Iranelection) Then today I saw this clip from the Daily Show

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John Stewart is busy making fun of CNN for never being accurate.  (I'm no CNN fan, but it's not quite a fair characterization.)  However, to me the story is that CNN is reacting to the criticism levelled against them by TWIT.  Namely that they have slipped into irrelevance and that the real news breaks on Twitter.  CNN is attempting to be relevant and timely.  They are also simultaneously trying to discredit Twitter and using it as their only source.  Any user of Twitter knows that it is really the quickest place to see breaking news.  It needs to be used as a reference rather than as a source, but when something happens (just look at Iran) you will see it there first.

At least CNN pretends to recognize this fact.  Even if they are being snarky about it, they know that there is news getting out of Iran mainly via Twitter.

A Lesson in Argumentation

I don't really know why I keep the Associated Baptist press in my news feed, but I do. Today this lovely gem appeared: Opinion: A pop quiz for biblical literalists - By Miguel De La Torre

I suppose De La Torre, has probably heard of the Straw Man argument.  But maybe all my readers have not.  I will quote directly from wikipedia here, because it is as clear as what I could say.

A straw man argument is an informal fallacy based on misrepresentation of an opponent's position.[1] To "attack a straw man" is to create the illusion of having refuted a proposition by substituting a superficially similar proposition (the "straw man"), and refuting it, without ever having actually refuted the original position.

The article I cited above is a perfect example of this.  De La Torre obviously believes that inerrantists are to dumb to understand hermeneutics.

Congratulations sir, you have destroyed a position that nobody actually holds.

Great Commission ressurgence needed

I am frustrated as I write this, so the tone may not be what I am hoping for.  It may come across as a polemic rather than an illustration about the need for a great commission resurgence within the SBC. I’ll begin with some context.  Just over a year ago, the city of Fayetteville’s Dogwood festival passed a ban on all booths that promoted “religious or political views.”  Effectively this shut out all churches from the festival.

So last year the churches of greater Fayetteville made a big deal about not being allowed into the Dogwood festival.  We even held a political action rally.  This rally did not exclusively address the Dogwood Festival, but that decision was the impetus for the rally.

In response to the outrage, the board, rightly in my opinion, reversed the decision.

Political action working, right?  Yep.  We got the desired result, churches are now allowed at the festival.

Obviously then, this year, there were many churches there representing Christ, giving out free water (rather than selling beer) and telling people the life changing message that Jesus saves.  Right?  Wrong.

Three churches participated. They include, the largest church in town, a small Presbyterian church (PCA), and one church that was apparently fundraising.

There are 100 churches in the Baptist association which encompasses Fayetteville.  Many of these churches were represented at the political action rally last year.  Now let’s do the math, 100 churches in the association, zero churches participate in the festival after they hear our voice and change their policy.  That number, again, was zero.  Now, to be fair, not all 100 were at the rally, but many were.

Here’s the question; does that make us look inept, or hypocritical, or like we only want to cause trouble?  I’m afraid it sends the message that we have no time to witness because we are too busy complaining about people who will not let us witness.

To me it definitely says that we are not nearly as concerned about the gospel as we pretend to be.

By the way, my church was at the rally but not at the festival, so I am not merely casting stones.  Actually I want someone to tell me why I'm wrong to think this way.  I believe in political action, I’m glad the board reversed its decision, and I don’t expect every church in Fayetteville to be there.  I do, however, believe that we put way too much energy into fixing social issues and not nearly as much effort into spreading the gospel, even though it is the greatest message that could ever be told.

I believe that this is the perfect example of the need for a great commission resurgence. We need to have churches that focus on what's really important, the gospel.  It seems that we are currently out of whack.

(BTW - I really wanted to post this comic here because it is funny and goes with the last line.  But usage rights cost $25, which is ridiculous whenever you can just follow this link and see it for free.)