1939: The New York World’s Fair opens in Flushing Meadow Park. It will give visitors a glimpse of “the world of tomorrow” and shape industrial design, pop culture and the way the future would envision the future.
The fair ran two seasons, from 1939 to 1940. The most memorable exhibit was the General Motors Pavilion, and the most memorable feature in the General Motors Pavilion was a ride called the Futurama. People stood in line for hours to ride it and experience the exciting possibilities of life in the distant future — the year 1960.
The Futurama ride carried fair visitors past tiny, realistic landscapes while a narrator described the world of tomorrow. The effect was like catching a glimpse of the future from the window of an airplane. As you might expect from a ride sponsored by GM, the focus was on what roadways and transportation might look like in 20 years. ...
The following video takes you on a narrated trip through the Futurama. Keep in mind that many people did not have cars and there were no interstate system. It is a fascinating look into Modernist visions of progress.
Pew Research: 62% - Missing Mom or Dad
[I think the Title is in Error]
Only about six-in-ten members of the Millennial generation (62%) were raised by both parents -- a smaller share than was the case with older generations. That compares with 71% of Gen Xers, 85% of Boomers and 87% of Silents. Roughly one quarter of Millennials (24%) say their parents were divorced or separated, and 11% say their parents were never married (2% say their parents were widowed and 1% did not answer the question). Still, in weighing their own life priorities, Millennials (like older adults) place parenthood and marriage far above career and financial success. But they aren't rushing to the altar -- just one-in-five Millennials (21%) are married now. Still, they get along well with their parents. Looking back at their teenage years, Millennials report having had fewer spats with mom or dad than older adults say they had with their own parents when they were growing up. And now, hard times have kept a significant share of adult Millennials and their parents under the same roof. About one-in-eight older Millennials (ages 22 and older) say they've "boomeranged" back to a parent's home because of the recession. Read more
New York Times: Graduating From Lip Smackers
IT began for Alyssa Pometta, as these habits so often do, with the soft stuff. We are talking, of course, about lip gloss.
She began wearing it in fourth grade — Bonne Bell’s Lip Smackers, a girl’s rite of passage — after years of wearing ChapStick and pretending it was Revlon. But the thrill of flavored lip gloss was fleeting, and in January, 11-year-old Alyssa asked her mother, Phyllis Pometta, if she could graduate to the hard stuff: lipstick, eyeliner and mascara.
Mrs. Pometta’s first instinct was to send her daughter to her room, but she reconsidered. Instead, she took her for a makeover.
“I’m using the choose-your-battles kind of parenting,” Mrs. Pometta, an independent publicist from Plainfield, Ill., reasoned in a telephone interview. “I figured, better that she’s informed and has the right tools than she goes into it blindly with her friends in the bathroom and comes out looking like a clown.”
The choice between prohibition and harm-reduction has long divided parents on prickly issues: forbid alcohol or supervise the inevitable kegger? Preach abstinence or buy condoms? Now, the struggle shows signs of coming to a new front: the cosmetics counter.
Regular use of certain cosmetics is rising sharply among tween girls, according to a new report from the NPD Group, a consumer research company. From 2007 to 2009, the percentage of girls ages 8 to 12 who regularly use mascara and eyeliner nearly doubled — to 18 percent from 10 percent for mascara, and to 15 percent from 9 percent for eyeliner. The percentage of them using lipstick also rose, to 15 percent from 10 percent.
Meanwhile, women of all other age groups, including teenagers, report using less makeup, according to NPD. The economy seems to be playing a role, said Karen Grant, the senior beauty industry analyst with NPD, with women cutting back on beauty products to save money and unemployed women feeling less compelled to do their face every morning.
So how is the elementary-school set getting away with it? Easy: Mom is the one buying it. When asked to name their primary influence for acquiring and applying makeup, 66 percent of the 365 tween girls polled by NPD pointed to a family member or adult family friend.
“They’re not sneaking any of this stuff,” Ms. Grant said. “They’re doing the shopping with their moms, they’re getting the money from their moms and families. It’s becoming almost part of the family exercise.”
Poor adult judgment or progressive parenting? As with most such issues, it depends on whom you ask. Stacy Malkan, author of “Not Just a Pretty Face: The Ugly Side of the Beauty Industry,” said that parents have been fighting a losing battle with the beauty industry, which now markets to children so aggressively that it invites a comparison to Big Tobacco’s efforts, like Joe Camel. ...
Pew Research: 21% - Unmarried Millennials
Members of the Millennial generation (young adults born after 1980) are much less likely to be married than were members of preceding generations at the same age. Just one-in-five Millennials is currently married (21%) and just one-in-eight (12%) is married with children at home, half the proportions (42% and 26%, respectively) of Boomers at the same age. Millennials are also more likely to be single parents living with their children (8%) than Boomers (4%) at the same age. And, whether married or single, Millennials are less likely than Boomers at the same age to both be parents and be living in the same household with their child or children (20% versus 30%). However, Millennials are more likely to be living with other family members (47%), such as their parents, than were the immediate two previous generations at the same age (Gen Xers, 43%; Boomers, 39%). They also are more likely than others had been at the same stage of life to be cohabiting with a partner or living with a roommate. Read more
Pew Research: 49% - Mystical Experiences
About half of the U.S. public (49%) says they have had a religious or mystical experience, defined as a "moment of sudden religious insight or awakening." This is similar to a survey conducted in 2006 but much higher than in surveys conducted in 1976 and 1994, and more than twice as high as in a 1962 Gallup survey (22%). In fact, the 2009 Pew Forum survey finds that religious and mystical experiences are more common today among those who are unaffiliated with any particular religion (30%) than they were in the 1960s among the public as whole (22%). Read more
(Reuters) - Doctors at a British hospital have carried out the first heart rhythm operation using a remote -controlled robot and say its success means patients could be treated by doctors in other cities, or even other countries.
Andre Ng, who performed the procedure on Wednesday from outside the operating theater, told Reuters it went very well and the patient's irregular heart rhythm was restored to normal within an hour.
"It exceeded our expectations and we achieved what we set out to in very good time," said Ng, a consultant cardiologist and electrophysiologist at Leicester's Glenfield Hospital.
Robotic surgery is becoming more common in wealthy nations and can be used on patients suffering from gynecological cancer, coronary artery disease, kidney cancer, and bladder cancer.
Ng said he was the first doctor in the world to carry out this type of remote-controlled operation on a human patient using a system called a Remote Catheter Manipulation System. ...
Cosmic Logic: Noah's Ark found? Not so fast
Web sites are buzzing over claims that remains from Noah’s Ark may have been found on Turkey’s Mount Ararat. The finders, led by an evangelical group, say they are "99.9 percent" that a wooden structure found on the mountainside was part of a ship that housed the Biblical Noah, his family and a menagerie of creatures during a giant flood 4,800 years ago.
But researchers who have spent decades studying the region – and fending off past claims of ark discoveries – caution that a boatload of skepticism is in order.
"You have to take everything out of context except the Bible to get something tolerable, and they're not even working much with the Bible," said Paul Zimansky, an archaeologist and historian at Stony Brook University who specializes in the Near East - and especially the region around Ararat, known as Urartu.
Cornell archaeologist Peter Ian Kuniholm, who has focused on Turkey for decades, was even more direct - saying that the reported find is a "crock." ...
... He was doubtful about the linkage to the Bible story, however. "It's not inconceivable to me that they've found pieces of wood at that level, but that doesn't mean they've found an ark," he said.
Even if you assume the explorers found what they say they found, linking the discovery to Noah's Ark requires lots of leaps of faith: Is the carbon dating accurate? Cornell's Kuniholm said he would like to know who did the dating, especially considering that previous tests reportedly came up with more recent dates. Is it more plausible that the structure is from a miraculous ark, or from an ancient shelter on the mountainside? Is there any evidence of a catastrophic flood that rose to near the top of Ararat 4,800 years ago?
"We know what's going on with Turkey archaeologically at that time, and there's no major interruption in the culture," Zimansky observed.
"There's not enough H2O in the world to get an ark that high up a mountain," Kuniholm said.
Kuniholm has had to deal with repeated claims from ark-hunters, including claims based on purported discoveries of ancient wood, and it sounds as if he's starting to get sick of it. He expects the latest report will end up in his thick file of ark discoveries that end up going nowhere. ...
A pursuit then ensues by agents that leads to the rooftop conversation I already mentioned. Bourne leaps ten stories into the East River. Then there is a scene where the camera angle is looking up through the waters at a motionless body with a light shinning from above. The movie shows a clip of Pamela Landy giving testimony about the corrupt Treadstone and Blackbrier programs at a congressional hearing. The movie then shows Nicky Parsons at a café watching a newscast about the unraveling of the covert programs. The movie keeps cutting back the lifeless body submerged in the water. At the end of the news report Nicky is watching, the reporter says that a man name David Webb, a.k.a., Jason Bourne, was responsible for unraveling the program, but was shot and fell from a roof into the East River. After three days, no body was found. Then a knowing grin comes across Nicky’s face. The camera cuts back to our lifeless body. It suddenly comes alive and David Webb makes his way to the surface. The movie ends.
He went into the water as Jason Bourne who had renounced his identity. He emerged as a new David Webb. He had been baptised anew. He had become unBorune to be reborn.
If you want to view the last five minutes of the movie, I've got a clip at YouTube that begins during Bourne remembering when he made his decision to become Jason Bourne. He has just killed the unidentified hooded man. Click here.
Most young adults today don't pray, don't worship and don't read the Bible, a major survey by a Christian research firm shows.
If the trends continue, "the Millennial generation will see churches closing as quickly as GM dealerships," says Thom Rainer, president of LifeWay Christian Resources. In the group's survey of 1,200 18- to 29-year-olds, 72% say they're "really more spiritual than religious."
Among the 65% who call themselves Christian, "many are either mushy Christians or Christians in name only," Rainer says. "Most are just indifferent. The more precisely you try to measure their Christianity, the fewer you find committed to the faith."
Key findings in the phone survey, conducted in August and released today:
•65% rarely or never pray with others, and 38% almost never pray by themselves either.
•65% rarely or never attend worship services.
•67% don't read the Bible or sacred texts.
Many are unsure Jesus is the only path to heaven: Half say yes, half no.
"We have dumbed down what it means to be part of the church so much that it means almost nothing, even to people who already say they are part of the church," Rainer says.
The findings, which document a steady drift away from church life, dovetail with a LifeWay survey of teenagers in 2007 who drop out of church and a study in February by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, which compared the beliefs of Millennials with those of earlier generations of young people. ...
New York Times: The Goldman Drama David Brooks
[Highlighting is mine.]
... The second big event in Washington this week is the jostling over a financial reform bill. One might have thought that one of the lessons of this episode was that establishments are prone to groupthink, and that it would be smart to decentralize authority in order to head off future bubbles.
Both N. Gregory Mankiw of Harvard and Sebastian Mallaby of the Council on Foreign Relations have been promoting a way to do this: Force the big financial institutions to issue bonds that would be converted into equity when a regulator deems them to have insufficient capital. Thousands of traders would buy and sell these bonds as a way to measure and reinforce the stability of the firms.
But, alas, we are living in the great age of centralization. Some Democrats regard federal commissions with the same sort of awe and wonder that I feel while watching LeBron James and Alex Ovechkin.
The premise of the current financial regulatory reform is that the establishment missed the last bubble and, therefore, more power should be vested in the establishment to foresee and prevent the next one.
If you take this as your premise, the Democratic bill is fine and reasonable. It would force derivative trading out into the open. It would create a structure so the government could break down failing firms in an orderly manner. But the bill doesn’t solve the basic epistemic problem, which is that members of the establishment herd are always the last to know when something unexpected happens.
If this were a movie, everybody would learn the obvious lessons. The folks in the big investment banks would learn that it’s valuable to have an ethical culture, in which traders’ behavior is restricted by something other than the desire to find the next sucker. The folks in Washington would learn that centralized decision-making is often unimaginative decision-making, and that decentralized markets are often better at anticipating the future.
But, again, this is not a Hollywood movie. Those lessons are not being learned. I can’t wait for the sequel.
Leadership Journal: Today's Most Devalued Virtue
Why is a once honored leadership trait now despised?
What's the most undervalued, under-discussed commodity on the leadership stock exchange today? What's the item that is currently on no one's list of desired qualities in a leader that once would have been consistently in the top four?
It's not courage or willingness to risk. Every motivational speaker trumpets those.
It's not humility or strength of will—Jim Collins has placed these squarely on the path from good to great.
It's not the ability to identify strengths—Marcus Buckingham and others have built a movement around strengths.
It's not creativity (think of Steve Jobs), or unleashing core competencies (think Gary Hamel), or the capacity to persist in the face of crushing failure (think Winston Churchill or the Chicago Cubs or pretty much anybody on Dancing with the Stars).
So what is today's most undervalued leadership trait? It's prudence. ...
...We need to be reminded what prudence is, and isn't. Prudence is not the same thing as caution. Caution is a helpful strategy when you're crossing a minefield; it's a disaster when you're in a gold rush.
Prudence is not the same thing as avoiding mistakes. Churches are full of leaders who are afraid to make mistakes, and thereby insure that their churches will never move forward, and that their own souls will shrivel and grow cold from fear and avoidance. But that's not prudence.
Prudence is not hesitation, procrastination, or moderation. It is not driving in the middle of the road. It is not the way of ambivalence, indecision, or safety.
Prudence, says Guelzo, was prized by the ancients because it was linked to shrewdness, to excellence in judgment, to the capacity to discern, to the ability to take in a situation and see it in its wholeness. Prudence is foresight and far-sightedness. It's the ability to make immediate decisions on the basis of their longer-range effects.
Prudence is what makes someone a great commodities trader—the capacity to face reality squarely in the eye without allowing emotion or ego to get in the way. It's what is needed by every quarterback or battlefield general. Thomas Aquinas said it was intelligence about "things to be done."
Prudence comes very close to describing what Paul prays for the church at Philippi—"that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best …" ...
How feminism and pop culture saved Earth from getting too crowded -- and are helping to avert planetary catastrophe.
People have been worrying about the world’s pending overpopulation for more than two centuries. Robert Thomas Malthus sounded the alarm in 1797 with "An Essay on the Principles of the Population," which predicted mass starvation and went on to influence the likes of Charles Darwin and Margaret Sanger. Paul Ehrlich’s 1968 book, "The Population Bomb," forecast a similar fate; if the population kept rising unchecked, Earth’s resources would buckle. Many of today’s environmental thinkers, such as broadcaster (and "Planet Earth" narrator) David Attenborough, have called for drastic measures to limit the planet’s population before it’s too late.
But according to the veteran environmental writer Fred Pearce, they’re all wrong. In his latest book, "The Coming Population Crash: And Our Planet's Surprising Future," Pearce argues that the world’s population is peaking. In the next century, we’re heading not for exponential growth, but a slow, steady decline. This, he claims, has the potential to massively change both our society and our planet: Children will become a rare sight, patriarchal thinking will fall by the wayside, and middle-aged culture will replace our predominant youth culture. Furthermore, Pearce explains, the population bust could be the end of our environmental woes. Fewer people making better choices about consumption could lead to a greener, healthier planet.
Salon called Fred Pearce in his London office to talk about the reasons behind our population peak, the high cost of our aging world, and how TV helped save the planet. ...
Today we come to probably the most controversial role government plays in the market, redistributing income. In the broadest sense, every time something is taxed, regulated or subsidized, income gets redistributed. Here I’m focusing particularly on redistributing income to the poor.
There are some who believe government has no role to play in alleviating poverty. Others believe government has an enormous role to play. I sense the most folks are somewhere in between. They believe government has at least a prudent interest … if not moral obligation … to address some aspects of poverty.
And that raises another question. If poverty is simply the bottom X% of the income distribution, then there is no way to eliminate poverty. There will always be people in the bottom X%. More typically, I think poverty is understood as insufficient resources to regularly obtain the basics of life (food, shelter, and clothing) as well as being able to partake of some the basic amenities of contemporary life. The challenge is assigning a dollar value that indicates a poverty threshold.
And still another complicating factor is the persistence and causes of poverty. Our poverty statistics can include relatively well-off people who are in temporary poverty (Retirees living on savings, grad students, and the temporarily un- or underemployed.) They also include people who are simply unable to provide for themselves economically. They also include people trapped in sub-cultures of poverty. And they include people who make bad choices. However, the stats exclude those who are just above the poverty level who are at great risk. “Poverty” is frequently a more complex term than it first appears.
From an economic standpoint, it is desirable to have as many economically productive people as possible. There are positive spillovers to society in reducing the number of poor. That means less resources diverted to their care and more productivity by them, leading to more resources for their own care and the care of others. But let’s start with the assumption that that there are also moral obligations for society to help the poor through government redistribution. And let’s also assume that there are personal obligations that each of us individually has for the poor as well. With these assumptions, two externalities present themselves.
If aid to the poor is treated purely as a private affair, then many will do much less than their fair share to meet society’s obligations while a few conscientious folks will be saddled with doing much more. The slackers externalize their obligations. However, it is also possible to take the position that it is government’s responsibility to take care of the poor and, because I have paid my taxes, I am under no further obligation to aid the poor. Aid that government can’t provide (or provide well) is externalized to more conscientious folks. Whether by externalizing personal responsibility to other people or to the government, many will not aid the poor as they should.
The next question is how much aid is too much aid. There is a deeply held assumption that each member of society should take economic responsibility for themselves and be charitable toward others. Some, for any number of reasons, will never be able to provide for themselves economically and have limited support networks. There seems to be a widely shared sense that society has a responsibility for these folks. But others, with education, changes in behavior, and aid, can be highly productive members of society. Then there is a whole continuum of people in between. Which folks are which? There is a measure of triage involved.
Certainly with enough aid and personal investment some will be able to excel. Yet, as countless social scientist have noted, too much aid can create a culture of dependency. When aid significantly exceeds what a person might get in the short-run as they pursue of a better education and job experience for the long-run, most people will never take the initiative to go through the short-run changes. How much aid is the right amount for any given circumstance?
There is an enormous information problem here. Each individual and family is unique. There is no way a vast centralized government can nurture each case in all its particularities. But it is also true that it requires a significant investment of time by private individuals and agencies to know folks at this level as well. The way the poor have become increasingly segregated from the rest of society doesn’t help.
Governments have taken different strategies toward this. Many European nations have more extensive social safety nets. That means a more secure living standard across all of society. But relative to the U.S., this has historically meant higher rates of unemployment, reduced job mobility, less mobility up and down the economic ladder, and lower levels of entrepreneurship and innovation. The U.S. has offered less economic security but usually less unemployment, more mobility, and greater innovation. (One forty-eight month study in ‘90s showed that half the people that said they were in poverty at any point during the study were in poverty for 2-4 months. Only 7% were in poverty for thirty-six months or more. A Treasury Department study that followed actual individuals from 1996-2005 found that 58% of people who started in the bottom quintile moved to a higher quintile, and that 30% moved to the top three quintiles.)
American society has involved government in redistributing income through a variety of means. First, there are direct cash transfers. The Earned Income tax credit is probably the most notable. Second, there are indirect transfers through programs like Aid to Families with Dependent Children, food stamps, Medicare, school lunch programs and the like. Third, there are skills development programs like Head Start and jobs training programs. Fourth, there is a progressive tax system. The top 50% of earners pay 97% of federal income taxes. Fifth, there are wage laws that require employers to pay at least a certain base wage. All this is expected to function alongside a strong voluntary network of aid to the poor as well.
I’m not interested in debating the merits of these various strategies at this point. There are some who think we need to do away with all or most of these measures. There are others who think we ought to do much more. The vast majority seem to be somewhere between these two, believing we have some responsibility for the poor through government intervention but are not to completely subsidize the lives of most poor people. So while the debate goes on, there does appear to be a strong consensus that some market intervention is both economically and morally necessary. This is another way in which the market is modified with government intervention.
[Previous] [Next] [Index]
Christian Science Monitor: Millennials keep their chins up despite high unemployment in economic downturn
Facing high unemployment, millennials draw resilience from flexible goals, tech savvy, and parental cushions. Will these supports help them emerge strong from the economic downturn?
It's been more than 50 years since such a large share of America's young people – 37 percent, by one study – were out of work.
But even as the most severe economic downturn since the Great Depression played havoc with their career plans, the so-called Millennial Generation (ages 18 to 29) is coming of age with their characteristic "help save the world" optimism largely undimmed. So far, at least, hard times and rampant unemployment have not left the same searing mark on today's young adults that some previous recessions did on the young people of their day.
"Their response to hard times is to band together and fix the institutions that have failed them," says Morley Winograd, author of books and studies on the Millennial Generation. "They approach the problem with optimism and a can-do attitude, unlike the way other generations might react to the same experience when they were young."
There are a number of reasons for the chin-up stance. ...
What accounts for life satisfaction differences across countries? This column presents new findings from the Gallup World Poll of more than 140,000 respondents worldwide. It suggests the happiest nations are those with strong social support from family and friends, freedom in making life choices, and low levels of corruption. ...
...The top four countries all have high per capita incomes, although significantly below those in the US. They gain their top rankings through consistently high rankings in
* social support from family and friends,
* the freedom respondents feel themselves to have in making life choices, and
* the lack of corruption in business and government.
These countries are also marked by:
* very high levels of social trust, and
* high levels of benevolent activities.
By contrast, life in the bottom four is marked by widespread corruption, and by an absence of social supports and perceived freedom to make life choices. ...
American college students are hooked on cellphones, social media and the Internet and showing symptoms similar to drug and alcohol addictions, according to a new study.
Researchers at the University of Maryland who asked 200 students to give up all media for one full day found that after 24 hours many showed signs of withdrawal, craving and anxiety along with an inability to function well without their media and social links.
Susan Moeller, the study's project director and a journalism professor at the university, said many students wrote about how they hated losing their media connections, which some equated to going without friends and family.
"I clearly am addicted and the dependency is sickening," said one student. "Between having a Blackberry, a laptop, a television, and an iPod, people have become unable to shed their media skin."
Moeller said students complained most about their need to use text messages, instant messages, e-mail and Facebook.
"Texting and IM-ing my friends gives me a constant feeling of comfort," wrote one of the students, who blogged about their reactions. "When I did not have those two luxuries, I felt quite alone and secluded from my life." ...
I know I'm not addicted. I can quit anytime I want. I do so several times a day.
Christianity.ca: Communicating Clearly John Stackhouse
How do we deal with the reality that there will always be some people who don’t understand what we are saying?
I spent a half an hour on the telephone this morning talking with a friend of mine who is a prominent Canadian Christian journalist. She sometimes writes for mainstream publications and recently was hammered by a number of readers for a column of hers.
Any good writer tries to anticipate the mentality of her readers: what they know and what they don’t know, yes, but also their prejudices, their expectations, their hopes and their fears.
In Canada today, however, it is becoming more and more difficult to communicate because of three related issues: what people know or don’t know, what they think they know but don’t actually know, and what inflames their passions, whether based on facts or not.
What can the writer – or speaker, or preacher, or evangelist, or broadcaster, or neighbour – assume her audience already knows and believes?
When I taught introductory courses in world religions at a public university in the 1990s, I had to assume that my students knew nothing in particular about religion. I knew that these bright, motivated young people knew lots of things individually, of course, and that many of them knew a lot about one religion or another.
What I could not assume, however, is that all of them knew who Moses was, or who Jesus was, let alone Muhammad or Krishna or Confucius. I could not assume any particular knowledge of any religion, and had to start each section from scratch.
That’s the situation nowadays in society at large. It is complicated further, however, because lots of people think they do know things about Christianity – or about Islam or atheism or Roman Catholics or Evangelicals or New Agers or Mormons or whatever – when it turns out they don’t.
This problem has hit me repeatedly as I’ve read comments on my blog or taken calls on talk radio: there is always someone who confidently, even belligerently, asserts something on the basis of what he is quite sure is factual – and is plainly mistaken. ...
And, of course, this all presumes the listener really wants to understand what is being said in the first place.
Allan R. Bevere: Indigenous Women and the Invaders Who Love Them. L. Daniel Hawk
This is second in a series by Daniel Hawk regarding his book, Joshua in 3-D.
...One of the characters that figure prominently in biblical Joshua, Manifest Destiny, and Avatar is the indigenous woman who helps the invader. In Joshua, Israelites no sooner enter the land than they encounter a Canaanite prostitute named Rahab, who protects them when the local authorities come looking for them, and then helps them make their getaway. In America’s master narrative Captain John Smith, a leader of England’s first colony at Jamestown, is saved from death by Pocahontas, who then becomes a bridge between the colony and the Powhatan Confederacy. Then, when the young United States embarks on its voyage of discovery into the land it purchased from the French, Lewis and Clark (counterparts of the two Israelite spies at Jericho?) meet Sacagawea, who guides and helps the explorers on their mission. Along similar lines Jake Sully, in the person of his avatar, meets a Na’vi woman who rescues him from viperwolves in the Pandora wilderness. She then takes him to her village and, like Rahab and Pocahontas before her, becomes the invader’s advocate before the people.
Why do conquest narratives include stories about indigenous women who help the invaders? That the invader is male and the indigene is female can be seen as an expression of the patriarchal societies that tell the stories; men matter and men must remain the dominant characters. Yet why is it important to the invader to include a story-line about indigenous helpers – and in the case of America, to memorialize them in movies (Pocahontas, The New World) and tokens of economic exchange (Sacagawea, on the U.S. one-dollar coin)? ...
University of Nebraska: Study: U.S. church attendance steady, but makeup of churchgoers changes
U.S. church attendance rates have held relatively steady over the past three and a half decades, a new study shows. But the makeup of the nation's congregations has undergone significant changes during that same time.
University of Nebraska-Lincoln sociologist Philip Schwadel applied a new multi-level estimation method to uncover several original findings about how often Americans -- and certain groups of Americans -- worship.
His findings challenge some popular notions: First, aside from a moderate decline in the 1990s, the study shows that Americans' churchgoing routines have been fairly constant over the decades, at around 23 to 28 services a year.
"There is a small decline in church attendance over time, but not nearly as large as suggested in popular culture, or even by some social scientists," Schwadel said.
Second, sizeable shifts have occurred within traditionally reliable churchgoing groups -- women, southerners and Catholics -- that suggest those groups' overall impact on church attendance rates in the United States has begun to wane.
The study examined General Social Survey responses from nearly 41,000 Americans from 1972 to 2006 and appears in the current edition of the journal Sociology of Religion. Using complete age, period and cohort data, Schwadel reaches the following conclusions:
* In 1972, Catholics attended religious services an average of 18 days per year more than mainline Protestants. By the first few years of the 21st century, however, the difference had dropped to about six days per year.
* The estimated difference in attendance between southerners and non-southerners was almost six days per year in 1972. By 1996, the gap was just three days per year and has only slightly widened since then.
* Women in 1972 went to church roughly 10 times more a year than men. By 2006, that gap had shrunk to about six more times a year.
Why are the gaps closing? The declining influence of women, Catholics and southerners is not the result of compositional changes, Schwadel said -- that is, the proportions of Americans who are Catholic, female or living in the South have not declined. In fact, the proportions of Catholics and those living in the South have risen in recent decades.
Instead, the researcher estimated that declining impacts of the traditional groups were related to rising education levels among all three, along with growing minority populations. Education levels rose disproportionately among women, Catholics and southerners in the last 35 years, leading to geographic and economic mobility that didn't broadly exist in the early 1970s.
The declining difference in attendance between Catholics and mainline Protestants does not necessarily mean all Catholics are attending less often. Instead, many Catholics now have high levels of church attendance because they are Latino, which make up one-third of American Catholics today, rather than because they are Catholic, the study found. In other words, the difference in attendance between non-Latino Catholics and mainline Protestants is declining precipitously.
Women provide perhaps the most dynamic example of societal changes over the time span, Schwadel said. Traditionally, they connected their roles in the home and the family to their roles in their churches.
"But as more women have gone to college, participated in the workforce and have begun to work outside the home, it can be said that they are becoming more like men in a number of ways," he said. "Few people have really thought about whether the traditional role of women in their church has changed. This may change that."
Men have historically held leadership positions in their congregations, while women have been the majority in the pews on any given Sunday, he said. More importantly, they have been the bedrock of most church organizations, powering the clubs and outreach groups.
"It's worth a closer look to see if women are less likely to participate in these types of groups over time -- and if so, what changes that might mean for their churches in the long run," Schwadel concluded.
WRITER: Steve Smith, University Communications, (402) 472-4226
The Economist: The “CSI effect”
Television dramas that rely on forensic science to solve crimes are affecting the administration of justice.
Television dramas that rely on forensic science to solve crimes are affecting the administration of justice.
OPENING a new training centre in forensic science (pictured above) at the University of Glamorgan in South Wales recently, Bernard Knight, formerly one of Britain’s chief pathologists, said that because of television crime dramas, jurors today expect more categorical proof than forensic science is capable of delivering. And when it comes to the gulf between reality and fiction, Dr Knight knows what he is talking about: besides 43 years’ experience of attending crime scenes, he has also written dozens of crime novels.
The upshot of this is that a new phrase has entered the criminological lexicon: the “CSI effect” after shows such as “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation”. In 2008 Monica Robbers, an American criminologist, defined it as “the phenomenon in which jurors hold unrealistic expectations of forensic evidence and investigation techniques, and have an increased interest in the discipline of forensic science.”
Now another American researcher has demonstrated that the “CSI effect” is indeed real. Evan Durnal of the University of Central Missouri’s Criminal Justice Department has collected evidence from a number of studies to show that exposure to television drama series that focus on forensic science has altered the American legal system in complex and far-reaching ways. His conclusions have just been published in Forensic Science International.
The most obvious symptom of the CSI effect is that jurors think they have a thorough understanding of science they have seen presented on television, when they do not. Mr Durnal cites one case of jurors in a murder trial who, having noticed that a bloody coat introduced as evidence had not been tested for DNA, brought this fact to the judge’s attention. Since the defendant had admitted being present at the murder scene, such tests would have thrown no light on the identity of the true culprit. The judge observed that, thanks to television, jurors knew what DNA tests could do, but not when it was appropriate to use them. ...
I personally prefer NCIS. I've considered instituting the Gibbs head slap as part of my interaction at Presbyterian events but I've been informed that might not be well received. Nevertheless, it is tempting.
Scot McKnight had a post about the Misery Index. Below is an expanded version of it.
As I note at Jesus Creed, "What this tells me is that things really were much worse when I graduated from college in 1981. I can go on telling twenty-somethings how much I truly suffered ... unemployment, inflation, walking to classes through 5 feet of snow, uphill both ways. :)"
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (April 21, 2010) – General Assembly Mission Council Executive Director Linda Bryant Valentine today announced that the Rev. Roger Dermody has agreed to accept the position of deputy executive director for mission. In this position, Dermody will oversee the council’s mission activities.
Dermody has served as a pastor for 13 years, including the past nine years as executive pastor of Bel Air Presbyterian Church, a thriving 3,000-member congregation in Los Angeles, Calif., where he manages and oversees the senior leadership and the day-to-day ministry of a staff of 67 employees and an annual budget of $9.8 million.
“I am humbled and thrilled,” said Dermody, “to be able to serve the church in this way. The GAMC is engaged in areas of incredible and highly strategic ministry. I’m excited by the challenge of partnering with our middle governing bodies and our churches, getting the word out more effectively, working together more harmoniously, and celebrating together the good things that God is doing in us and through us.”
“Roger is an ideal candidate for the deputy executive director for mission role,” said Valentine. “He has been a strategic leader and an innovative executive pastor, with significant experience bringing people together for open and engaging planning and work – focusing a complex organization on where God is calling it to ministry,” she continued. “He has led a broad range of congregational, local and international mission endeavors, and demonstrated a deep passion and commitment to witnessing faithfully to the Gospel.”
As a child, Dermody lived in Cameroon with his parents, who were short-term missionaries. Their two years in Cameroon fueled a lifelong passion for mission. After a first career as an architect, Dermody responded to a call to ministry in 1991, entering Fuller Theological Seminary, anticipating that he would work in international cross-cultural ministry. While in seminary, Dermody accepted a collegiate ministries position at Bel Air Presbyterian, providing leadership which saw the college ministry grow from 30 participants to 300, and a contemporary worship service which started with 75 worshipers and grew to more than 1,000 weekly. Dermody’s work expanded to include developing global and national partnerships, when he became associate pastor of students and mission. In 2001, he became executive pastor, overseeing the pastoral staff and day-to-day ministry. Dermody has also led numerous short-term mission trips.
“I truly believe that our mission and message are compelling,” said Dermody, “because they are Christ’s mission and message. I like to envision the PC(USA) not merely as reversing the steady stream of membership loss, but one day truly becoming a turn-around denomination – one that other denominations point to and learn from because somehow, by God’s grace, we figured it out. We understood how to serve together. People got excited about the relevant and effective ways that our denomination brought the hope of the Gospel to a broken world.”
The General Assembly Mission Council will be asked to confirm Dermody in May; he will then begin work in June.
The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) comprises more than 2 million members in more than 10,000 congregations, answering Christ’s call to mission and ministry throughout the United States and the world.
Posted at 09:16 AM in Presbyterian Church, USA, Presbyterian Mission Agency (formerly General Assembly Mission Council) | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
Mystical Limpet (Travis Greene): What is the best way to give advice? | Psychology Today
From Psychology Today:
A paper by Reeshad Dalal and Silvia Bonaccio in a 2010 issue of Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes looked at several different kinds of advice that people get and give to understand how likely people are to use them. They distinguished between four types of advice.
Advice for is a recommendation to pick a particular option.
Advice against is a recommendation to avoid a particular option.
Information supplies a piece of information that the decision maker might not know about.
Decision support suggests how to go about making the choice, but does not make a specific recommendation. ...
... However, information was the most useful kind of advice across the studies. That is, people found it most helpful when people told them about aspects of the options that they might not have known about already.
Travis goes on to ask:
What implications does this finding have for evangelism?
Great question! Related to supplying information also seems to be the role of reframing the question. (i.e., The lawyer ask Jesus "Who is my neighbor?" Jesus tells the Good Samaritan parable and then reframes the question, "Who was neighbor to the man in need?")
Tragedy of the Commons describes a circumstance where a group of individuals acting responsibly and conscientiously on their own will ultimately exhaust a commonly shared limited resource. Take a community where each family has a small herd of cattle and a commonly owned grazing area. It is in each family’s interest to feed their cattle well and to expand their herd. This is fine as long as the amount of land exceeds the demand. But at some point, as herds grow, the demand exceeds the supply. Each family will rush to get to the grazing land, depleting it even more rapidly, with the tragic consequence that no one will have any grazing land. The solution is to sell the land into private hands. Then each family will preserve their land area and raise only the number of cattle feasible for that area … or a family can buy or rent land from a neighbor if they wish to expand.
As Donald Marron recently pointed out, the overhead bin space on airplanes is similar to a tragedy of the commons scenario. With most of the major airlines (except Southwest) now charging for checked bags, there is more demand on overhead space. People are trying to avoid the checked baggage fee. That overhead space is a “commons” area and it is hard to assign property rights.
What Spirit Airlines has decided to do is to charge $20-$45 per carry-on bag … and here is the part that keeps being left out of the story … while simultaneously dropping fares on most flights about $40 and their already discounted prices. In other words, there is no net cost difference for the traveler who typically flies with one carry-on bag (and you can still bring on board whatever will fit under your seat.) You actually get a discount off of what you had been paying if you can manage to fly with no use of the overhead bin. Since you already have to pay for checked baggage, and some people were bringing bags as carry-on only to avoid the checked fee, some will now just go ahead and check the bag at no extra cost, thus freeing up more overhead space, improving boarding and deplaning.
In fact, frame it this way. What if Spirit airlines had said they were going to leave their airline fees the same but give a $45 discount to passengers who managed to fly without bags? There is no difference. Would this be cause for outrage?
So what is the big deal about Spirit Airlines? We have U.S. Senators, led by Chuck Schumer, now proposing legislation to stop airline from charging carryon fees.
Schumer and five other Democratic senators — New Hampshire’s Jeanne Shaheen, Maryland’s Ben Cardin, Minnesota’s Amy Klobuchar, and New Jersey’s Robert Menendez and Frank Lautenberg — support legislation that would tax airlines if they charge carry-on bag fees.
Schumer said the legislation will move forward until it becomes clear that no airline will institute the charges. He will have an uphill battle changing the minds of Spirit executives when he meets with them soon.
What business is it of Congress to decide how airlines will structure their fees? Why the uproar about what appears to me to be a very sensible way for Spirit Airlines to manage their own commons tragedy?
Los Angeles Times: Leading Economic Indicators Index rises 1.4% in March
The index of U.S. leading indicators rose in March by the most in 10 months, a sign the economy will keep growing into the second half of the year.
The 1.4 percent increase in the New York-based Conference Board's measure of the outlook for three to six months was more than anticipated and followed a revised 0.4 percent gain in February.
Manufacturers are ratcheting up production and factory workers are putting in longer hours as companies rebuild inventories and ship more goods overseas. Further improvement in the job market will help sustain the economy's recovery from the worst recession since the 1930s. ...
Kansas City Star (AP): Poll: 4 out of 5 Americans don't trust Washington
I thought the last two paragraphs of this article where keepers:
... But Matthew Dowd, a top strategist on Bush's re-election campaign who now shuns the GOP label, says both Republicans and Democrats are missing the mark.
"What the country wants is a community solution to the problems but not necessarily a federal government solution," Dowd said. Democrats are emphasizing the federal government, while Republicans are saying it's about the individual; neither is emphasizing the right combination to satisfy Americans, he said.
And this is precisely what partisans on both sides don't seem to get. For liberals, whenever someone says, for instance, "Society needs to care for the poor," the word society is merely a synonym for "federal government." Government plays the dominant, not supportive, role. And when conservatives talk about freedom and rights, there is a frequent absence of rhetoric about what it means to be civic minded people concerned about the least of these. In my book, the first party that figures out that the agenda needs to be about the intermediate and intermediary institutions that are bigger then the individual and smaller than the federal government wins the hearts of the people for the next generation or two.
Out of Ur: A Church by Any Other Name...
Have you noticed that church names are getting increasingly strange? Our friend Dennis Baker has. He's been keeping a list of church names in order to document how far we've come from the days of "First Presbyterian" and "Springfield Baptist Church." He sent us the following list of 130 church names. I've added my reactions in parentheses.
2. Revolution (Where only senior pastors get beheaded.)
3. Radiance (Where the female vocalists all glitter like Mariah Carey.)
4. Elevation (U2 songs every bloody Sunday.)
6. Renovation (You can do it! God can help.)
8. enCompass (Wii th-|-nk [outside] the box. We R crAtiVe.)
9. Epiphany Station (Next stop, Conjunction Junction!)
10. Soma (Our pastor knows Greek.)
12. Rock Harbor (If your life hasn’t run aground yet, we can help.)
13. Journey (“Don’t Stop Believing” is our theme song.) ...
Of course my favorite Kansas City church name is Country Club Christian Church. The church is located in the Country Club Plaza neighborhood but is still an interesting name. Do you know any interesting church names?
The Cross Examinations series encourages pastors, professors, authors, and bloggers to explore questions of import to the church in a coherent and cooperative manner. Every two weeks, a question is posed to the group, and individual responses are featured as they arrive at the Cross and Culture blog on the Evangelical Portal. One week after the question is sent, the answers are gathered together into a single article. We hope that reflecting together will stimulate thought, focus conversation, and ultimately prove more edifying to online readers and to the church more generally.
The question for this installment is:
"The nature and import of social justice ministry has been attacked and debated frequently in recent weeks. To approach the issue constructively: what exactly IS the proper relationship between evangelistic and social justice ministries?"
Respondents to the question in this round, in alphabetical order, are:
Timothy Dalrymple, Manager of the Evangelical Portal at Patheos.
Douglas Groothuis, Professor of Philosophy at Denver Theological Seminary.
Danny Hall, Senior Pastor at Valley Community Church in Pleasanton, California.
Daniel Harrell, Senior Minister at Colonial Church in Edina, Minnesota.
Brian McLaren, founding pastor at Cedar Ridge Community Church in Spencerville, Maryland.
Kelly Monroe-Kullberg, author, campus minister, and founder of the Veritas Forum.
Mark D. Roberts, Senior Director and Scholar-in-Residence for Laity Lodge.
WASHINGTON (RNS) Researchers say they’ve found the most religious place on Earth–between the southern border of the Sahara Desert and the tip of South Africa.
Religion is “very important” to more than three-quarters of the population in 17 of 19 sub-Saharan nations, according to a new survey.
In contrast, in the United States, the world’s most religious industrialized nation, 57 percent of people say religion is very important.
“On a continent-wide basis, sub-Saharan Africa comes out as the most religious place on Earth,” said Luis Lugo, director of the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, which released the study Thursday (April 15.)
According to the survey, 98 percent of respondents in Senegal say religion is very important, following by 93 percent in Mali. The lowest percentage was reported in Botswana, 69 percent, which is still a healthy majority.
“That begins to paint a picture of how religious sub-Saharan Africans are,” Lugo said.
The study is part of the Pew-Templeton Global Religious Futures Project. More than 25,000 sub-Saharan Africans responded in face-to-face interviews in more than 60 languages. ...
So far we have seen how government sets and enforces rules by which economic transactions occur. Government sometimes intervenes to remedy negative externalities and to leverage positive externalities. What other ways roles has government played in a market economies?
Information and Transparency
The market economy is based on the presumption that buyers and sellers are well enough informed about products to make an informed decision. If a product or service doesn’t meet a customer’s satisfaction, then customer goes to competitor. Multiplied over many customers, this means that good firms will be rewarded and bad firms will go out of business. If I buy a package of zip lock bags that don’t seal well, then next time I’ll buy different brand of bags. This works just fine for the vast majority of products we buy.
But what if instead of bags, there is a doctor removing your appendix or an airline pilot flying you to your destination? The cost of a bad product here is much more costly. In many cases like these we regulate the business to insure that practitioners meet certain minimal standards and abide by certain practices. The regulation makes the service more costly but it also makes greatly enhances our chances of avoiding a catastrophic scenario.
Financial markets are another place where regulation is important. Publicly traded corporations are trading shares. Insiders have considerable knowledge about the company. It would often be quite easy to report financial data in ways that mislead investors. The failure of regulators to create an transparent environment in the financial markets is, in my opinion, on the major reasons for the 2008 economic meltdown. The bigger and more complex the corporations, the greater the need for transparency.
Some services don’t lend themselves to competitive models. The sewage system and garbage collection are good examples. In these cases, a monopoly is often granted to a firm but the firm has direct government oversight with government approving fees for service … usually allowing the firm to cover costs and earn a reasonable profit. Sometimes, as with garbage collection, the service is outsourced to the lowest bidder on a government contract. That introduces some market discipline to the service being provided. But bottom line, some industries are simply natural monopolies.
Government also influences the economy by trying to make the endless (and likely unavoidable) swings between boom and bust less severe. One approach is through monetary policy. Through a variety of complex transactions the government manages the money supply. Too much money in circulation and you will likely get inflation. Too little money in circulation and credit markets seize up, destroying the dynamism of the economy.
Monetary policy is controversial with some. The belief is that the money supply should directly correspond to some precious metal like gold. No more money printed unless a corresponding about of gold is produced. It is beyond our purposes to dissect this but we need to be aware that monetary policy is a significant way government intervenes in the market.
A second method is fiscal policy. Government can affect the economy by raising or lowering taxes. In crisis situations, as we have seen over the last few years, government can increase spending in attempt to create more demand for goods and services. Here again, there is much controversy about the effectiveness and unintended consequence of such measure but it is seen as tool in governments economic toolbox.
Another way government sometimes involves itself in the market is to decide that certain key industries are to critical national survival to be allowed to fail. Decades ago it was argued that having a home-grown food supply capabilities was critical to national security. Farm subsidies and protectionism have been used to give American products a favorable position in the market so that those capabilities would not be lost. Many emerging nations use similar tactics to protect industries they want to nurture as part of the their national welfare.
There is spirited debate about the wisdom of such interventions. The recent bailouts of large banks and the auto industry were largely justified on these grounds. These firms were "to big to fail," meaning their collapse would have catastrophic consequences for national security and societal well-being. My point is not to adjudicate whether these actions have merit but rather to simply note that direct intervention in the market is an option that has been used at times.
Non-Profit Corporate Charters
Government also facilitates the formation of legal entities created by citizens to accomplish tasks that might not be well served through a market system. Non-profit corporations are like profit corporations except for two significant features. First, there is no share ownership of the corporation with shareholders receiving dividends or appreciation in stock value. When the non-profit is dissolved, all assets must be turned over to the state or to another non-profit entity. Non-profits must still receive more than they spend … make a profit … the distinction is in how the profit is used.
Non-profit corporations are different from profit corporations in that they usually have two sets of clients. There are the people who give the money … donors … and the people who receive the services. While there can be overlap between the two, very frequently there is no overlap at all. One important function of many non-profits is that they allow groups of people to amass wealth to be used in the provision of goods and services to others who might not be otherwise able to receive those goods and services. Groups that are willing to live by the restriction of non-profit status are given favorable tax treatment by the government.
In the next post we turn to redistribution of income. In the post after that we will look at the challenges of government effectively and justly intervening in the markets.
It Takes a Church: The Problem with “Going Pro” Tod Bolsinger
... Most of us who end in the pastorate do so because someone experienced our ministry skills and encouraged us to consider it as a vocation. In short, most of us were about the best lay leaders in our churches, organizations or missions and somewhere along the way someone heard us teach, heard us pray, saw us at a bedside or were part of a successful ministry program that we headed up and they told us that we were so good, that we should “go pro.” (And most often, was mostly about “preaching”. If you could preach or teach the Bible better than most, then it was assumed that you were called to be a pastor.)And so what did we do? We headed off to “professional ministry school” (i.e. “seminary”) or took a job on a church staff with the assumption that now the only thing that was going to change was that we were going to be PAID to do what we used to do as a VOLUNTEER. (And, really, what’s not to like about that?) On top of that, once we got our “professional association card” (i.e. “ordination”) we then became the resident “pro” for all kinds of wonderful and meaningful family and community “religious events” (like weddings, baptisms, funerals, invocations and such). For most of us, this seemed like it would be the best possible world. Our friends and family were proud of us, our home churches affirmed us and we now got to be paid (ok, not much pay, really, but the “ego perks” were nice) and “freed” to “do ministry full-time.” We were now expected to be the resident “pro”, the “star player”, the “free agent” who brought the “home team” great results.
But… there is one really big problem. Being pastor really isn’t about being the star player. It’s really about being a COACH. When you get ordained, you don’t get on the playing field, you go to the bench. You are not the “resident professional Christian” but the leader of a community of mission.
And that leadership calling is very, very different than most of us expected. ...
One of the objectives of many churches is to attract people who do not participate in the life of a church. New research from The Barna Group, however, points out that most of the unchurched in America may be different than expected.
A Large Group
The Barna data indicate that 28% of the adult population has not attended any church activities, including services, in the past six months. That translates to nearly 65 million adults. When their children under the age of 18 who live with them are added to the picture, the number swells to more than 100 million people.
While the aggregate proportion of unchurched adults is down from its high point of the past quarter century (32%), it remains within sight of that high water mark. Consequently, due to the continued expansion of the nation’s population, the total numbers of unchurched people has remained relatively steady in recent years despite the minor proportional fluctuations.
Mostly Self-Identified Christians
One of the biggest surprises to some people, however, is that a large majority of the nation’s unchurched population is drawn from the sector comprised of people who consider themselves to be Christian. In the United States, 83% of all adults label themselves “Christian.” The percentage is lower among the unchurched, but such self-identified Christians still outnumber those who do not embrace Christianity by a three-to-two margin (61% vs. 39%).
However, several interesting insights define the self-identified Christians among the unchurched. A majority of them (53%) have distanced themselves from being either Protestant (30%) or Catholic (17%), although almost all of them had at one time been associated with one of those groups. ...
... Reasons for Avoiding Church
Based on past studies of those who avoid Christian churches, one of the driving forces behind such behavior is the painful experiences endured within the local church context. In fact, one Barna study among unchurched adults shows that nearly four out of every ten non-churchgoing Americans (37%) said they avoid churches because of negative past experiences in churches or with church people. ...
New York Times: Maternal Deaths Decline Sharply Across the Globe
For the first time in decades, researchers are reporting a significant drop worldwide in the number of women dying each year from pregnancy and childbirth, to about 342,900 in 2008 from 526,300 in 1980.
The findings, published in the medical journal The Lancet, challenge the prevailing view of maternal mortality as an intractable problem that has defied every effort to solve it.
“The overall message, for the first time in a generation, is one of persistent and welcome progress,” the journal’s editor, Dr. Richard Horton, wrote in a comment accompanying the article, published online on Monday.
The study cited a number of reasons for the improvement: lower pregnancy rates in some countries; higher income, which improves nutrition and access to health care; more education for women; and the increasing availability of “skilled attendants” — people with some medical training — to help women give birth. Improvements in large countries like India and China helped to drive down the overall death rates.
But some advocates for women’s health tried to pressure The Lancet into delaying publication of the new findings, fearing that good news would detract from the urgency of their cause, Dr. Horton said in a telephone interview.
“I think this is one of those instances when science and advocacy can conflict,” he said.
Dr. Horton said the advocates, whom he declined to name, wanted the new information held and released only after certain meetings about maternal and child health had already taken place. ...
We saw in the previous post that some types of market exchange involve negative externalities. People who were not a party to a transaction end up bearing part of the cost … the costs “spill over” on to them. But there are also cases of positive externalities. In these instances, the market exchange benefits not only the parties involved but those who were not a party to the transaction.
James Halteman, in The Changing Worlds of Economics and Faith, invites to consider the consumption of a loaf of bread. If I eat a loaf of bread, I alone get the nutritional benefit of eating that bread. Now imagine world where each time I eat a loaf of bread, all my neighbors are nourished as well. This is, of course, absurd with regard to bread but consider what happens in other facets of economic life where my benefits “spill over” to my neighbors.
I live in the heart of America’s Tornado Alley. Halteman uses the example of storm-warning devices. If I install a storm-warning device to protect my family, then certainly my family will benefit from such a device. But so will all my neighbors who invested nothing. So from an economic standpoint is it economically prudent for me install my own storm-warning system? Maybe I should wait for one of my neighbors to install one and get the benefit of their expenditures. Of course, all my neighbors are doing the same. In these instances, it is better to levy a tax in support of providing these services so that no one has to unfairly bear costs of services that benefit the whole community.
In reality, a great many of the goods and services we buy probably have some spillover effect. The question is the matter of degree. For instance, if I get an education there are almost certainly going to be financial benefits that accrue to me alone. However, as Halteman points out, our complex post-industrial society requires people to be able to read, to do basic math, to understand our civic structures, to manage personal finances, and to have a variety of other life skills. Each time you send an email or publish an advertisement you benefit from my ability to read. Therefore, we provide public education and require people to achieve a certain level competency. People can choose to use the public option or not but the goal is to be sure everyone has a minimal standard of education.
There are a number of other examples where goods or services a publicly provided due to positive externalities: military service, police and fire protection, garbage collection, and communications. Of course, the big issue today is health care. Certainly there are positive spillovers for me from you being healthy. But unlike basic education, for example, the cost of achieving health can vary wildly from person to person. Basic preventative care and treatment for common ailments may have some similar characteristics to public education but services beyond this can present profound challenges.
Some things, by their very nature, likely require a government approach to providing just and efficient services. Others appear to have a hybrid nature where a combination of government and market approaches may be required. We will have more to say in a future post about challenges of using non-market approaches to effectively address problems but for now it is enough to see that positive spillovers do occur and that in some instances we have decided to intervene in the markets to facilitate and expansion of those spillovers.
Jesus Creed: CT and the Historical Jesus Scot McKnight
Some of you may have seen our piece in Christianity Today called "The Jesus We'll Never Know." The essence of my article is that "historical Jesus" studies, the official Historical Jesus enterprise, has a major goal: finding what the real Jesus was really like. By that I mean the HJ enterprise wants to get behind the Creeds and behind the Gospels to discover what the human Jesus was like -- and in doing this the HJ enterprise is about creating a new Jesus, a Jesus who differs from the Gospels and the Creeds because it will shear away any faith accretions and any legendary embellishments and any theological overlays. ...
... In the article I contend the HJ enterprise is all but over; at the least, interest has waned to a pittance of what it was. Very few scholars are attending HJ sessions; very few books are now being produced (in contrast to an avalanche of books in the 80s and 90s); one could say the HJ is at a dead-end. I also contend that historical methods, because of what they assume about what can be demonstrated, can't get us to the orthodox faith about Jesus' death or his person or the significance of what he did and who he was.
To this article, CT solicited responses from Tom Wright, Craig Keener and, only in the online edition, Darrell Bock. These three are my friends and I value what they have to say. So, I'll enter into brief conversation here with what each says: ...
Forty years ago today there was an explosion on board the the Apollo 13 spacecraft. I had just turned eleven. As a kid, I was a major space program junkie. I knew who all the astronauts were, what flights had been taken (US and USSR), and what were the major achievements of each flight. In 1969, my folks bought me a kit for a four foot tall Saturn V rocket. Because of my dad's work I had 8x10 glossies of the original seven astronauts. Apollo 13 made a big impact on me.
A day or two after the explosion, my fifth grade teacher had me bring my rocket to class so we could see how the rocket all fit together and better understand what the reporters were talking about. I think people largely forgot about the flight until Ron Howard made the Apollo 13 movie back in 1995. The only thing that stuck was Lovell's iconic matter-of-fact utterance, "Houston, we've had a problem," frequently misquoted as "Houston, we have a problem."
Ron Howard was also involved in the production of an excellent 2007 documentary called, In the Shadow of the Moon. The movie is unique in that no one speaks in the movie except for the astronauts who either circled the moon or walked on it. The movie is filled with actual film footage. My favorite part is the last portion of the movie where different astronauts talk about how the experience changed their lives. Almost all of them report have had some life altering change in the appreciation for God or the idea that there was something bigger then they ever imagined behind their existence. A couple of quotes:
Jim Lovell: We learned a lot about the Moon, but what we really learned was about the Earth. The fact that just from the distance of the Moon, you can put your thumb up, and you can hide the Earth behind your thumb. Everything that you have ever known, your loved ones, your business, the problems of the Earth itself, all behind your thumb. And how insignificant we really all are. But then how fortunate we are to have this body, and to be able to enjoy living here amongst the beauty of the Earth itself.
Edgar D. Mitchell: The biggest joy was on the way home. In my cockpit window, every two minutes: The Earth, the Moon, the Sun, and the whole 360-degree panorama of the heavens. And that was a powerful, overwhelming experience. And suddenly I realized that the molecules of my body, and the molecules of the spacecraft, the molecules in the body of my partners, were prototyped, manufactured in some ancient generation of stars. And that was an overwhelming sense of oneness, of connectedness; it wasn't 'Them and Us', it was 'That's me!', that's all of it, it's... it's one thing. And it was accompanied by an ecstacy, a sense of 'Oh my God, wow, yes', an insight, an epiphany.
One astronaut talks about how he became a Christian. Another talks about going to the mall a short time after his flight. He sat their eating ice cream and watching people, marveling at how amazing people are.
Anyway, hats of to the space pioneers.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Police say hundreds of teens planned Saturday's chaos on the Plaza through web sites like Facebook and Twitter. Officials received several calls from adults Sunday. Police say it appears the adults saw the postings online but didn't report anything until it was too late.
This is the second week in a row police responded to the Country Club Plaza to clear hundreds of juveniles off the streets. But Saturday, the crowd reached a record high: nearly 1,000 teens.
"It's 11:30 12:00 at night, and I'm just curious where the parents are,” said Plaza property owner Steve Brennan. “They look 12, 14, 15-years-old.”
Police say most of the teens were 13 to 17-years old and started flooding the Plaza around 10:30 p.m.
Over the course of just one hour, police say a couple was beaten and robbed in a parking lot, a girl in a prom dress was pushed into a fountain at the Mill Creek Park, and a teen was hit with a metal pipe in the Winstead's parking lot. That teen now has severe facial injuries. Police say several businesses closed early because groups of teens were harassing their customers, especially those seating at sidewalk tables. ...
Yet another innovative use of social media. :-) This has been a big topic on the KC talk radio today as you might imagine. Sounds to me like the police acted responsibly.
Christian Science Monitor: Why Indian IT companies are outsourcing – to US
Two decades after they began running US operations from Bangalore and other cities, Indian IT companies are hiring Americans to do work that was once outsourced. What gives?
On a top floor of an office building in Atlanta's posh and wooded Buckhead district, workers man a call center for a US healthcare company. Their computers' 'copy/paste' function and Internet browsers are disabled as they answer questions about plan benefits and handle personally sensitive data. Their manager watches from a glassy office.
Nearby, recent Georgia Tech and University of South Carolina graduates train in how to handle information-technology (IT) clients. Attitude is the most important part of working with customers, the trainer says. Hadn't they learned that from Donald Trump's "The Apprentice"?
These scenes are hardly out of the ordinary except for one thing: The managers and trainers are from India. So is the employer, outsourcing giant Wipro, which set up shop here in 2008. Just as Japanese automakers began manufacturing in the United States in the 1980s, Indian outsourcing companies are locating in the US to reap similar benefits. Wipro calls it "reverse outsourcing."
Some of the benefits are, surprisingly, economic.
"You can never compete [here] with an India cost model," says Suraj Prakash, vice president for global delivery organization at Atlanta Development Center (ADC), Wipro's American IT center. But as the company takes on more ambitious projects – working on a large software development project, for example – it spends more on travel to handle the intensive interaction with the client and sees higher costs from time delays in getting feedback and errors from not understanding the local business context. "You easily end up spending all of that money doing rework," Mr. Prakash says.
Other Indian outsourcing firms move in
That may be one reason why Wipro's two larger competitors in India are also locating in the US. Infosys is planning a subsidiary in Dallas that will hire locals and seek US government contracts. Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) has reportedly hired at least 300 at its new campus near Cincinnati.
Locating in the US "helps us and our customers reduce overall infrastructure and overhead costs" and better serves customers, writes Amar Naga, the head of TCS's US center, in an e-mail.
"These companies have gained so much experience that there's a process of maturation," says economics professor Usha Nair-Reichert, of the Georgia Institute of Technology. "They really are trying to become global players." ...
And all this tells you is that the Dems have now fallen into the gutter with the GOP. Ain't politics fun with Baby Boomers in charge? :-)
John Stackhouse: RTS, Bruce Waltke, and Statements (and Non-Statements) of Faith
Reformed Theological Seminary (RTS) has dismissed Dr. Bruce Waltke because he recently stated publicly two radical convictions: (1) that a Bible-believing Christian could believe in evolution; and (2) that the church needs to beware of becoming a cultural laughingstock for retaining anti-evolutionary views that cannot be supported scientifically.
What’s pathetic about this action is that those points weren’t even radical in the nineteenth century, when Darwin himself had a number of orthodox defenders. So RTS apparently is not quite ready to catch up with almost two centuries of theology/science dialogue. ...
People sometimes ask me how I can stay with the PCUSA in light of views I have on certain issues. And there is no question that there is a lot of squirrely stuff going on with my tribe. But if you want reasons for why I don't look to more conservative denominations, here is a one prime example. Unbelievable.
New Scientist: The shock of the old: Welcome to the elderly age
... This is partly because Japanese people live longest: men can expect to reach 79 and women 86. It is also partly because the Japanese have almost given up having babies: the fertility rate is just 1.2 children per woman, far lower than the 2.1 needed to maintain a steady population. The rest of the world is following Japan's example. In 19 countries, from Singapore to Iceland, people have a life expectancy of about 80 years. Of all the people in human history who ever reached the age of 65, half are alive now. Meanwhile, women around the world have half as many children as their mothers. And if Japan is the model, their daughters may have half as many as they do. ...
... The revolution has two aspects. First, we are not producing babies like we used to. In just a generation, world fertility has halved to just 2.6 babies per woman. In most of Europe and much of east Asia, fertility is closer to one child per woman than two, way below long-term replacement levels. The notion that the populations of places such as Brazil and India will go on expanding looks misplaced: in fact, they could soon be contracting. Meanwhile, except in a handful of AIDS-ravaged countries in Africa, people are living longer everywhere.
This is frightening, even for rich nations. In Germany, France and Japan, there are fewer than two taxpaying workers to support each retired pensioner. In Italy, the figure is already fewer than 1.3. Some predict that the world will face a wave of "ageing recessions". ...
... In future, old people will be expected to stay in the formal economy for longer. The idea of a retirement age was invented by Otto von Bismarck in the 1880s, when as chancellor of Germany he needed a starting age for paying war pensions. He chose the age of 65 because that was typically when ex-soldiers died. But today in developed countries, and soon in poorer ones, women can expect nearly 30 years of retirement, and men 20 years. ...
... Some worry that an older workforce will be less innovative and adaptable, but there is evidence that companies with a decent proportion of older workers are more productive than those addicted to youth. This is sometimes called the Horndal effect, after a Swedish steel mill where productivity rose by 15 per cent as the workforce got older. Age brings experience and wisdom. Think what it could mean when the Edisons and Einsteins of the future, the doctors and technicians, the artists and engineers, have 20 or 30 more years to give us. ...
... At 50, we do not expect to act or feel as we did at 20 - nor at 80 as we did at 50. The same is true of societies. What will it be like to live in societies that are much older than any we have known? We are going to find out, because the ageing of the human race is one of the surest predictions of this century. If the 20th century was the teenage century, the 21st will be the age of the old: it will be pioneered by the ageing baby boomers who a generation ago took the cult of youth to new heights. Without the soaring population and so many young overachievers, the tribal elders will return. More boring maybe, but wiser, surely.
The older we are, the less likely we are to be hooked on the latest gizmos and the more we should appreciate things that last. We may even reduce pressure on the world's resources by consuming less, and by conserving our environment more. We must especially hope for that, because unless the boomers can pay reparations for youthful indiscretions with the planet's limits then we may all be doomed.
The 20th century did great things. We should be proud that for the first time most children reach adulthood and most adults grow old. But after our exertions, perhaps we need to slow down a bit. Take a breather. Learn to be older, wiser and greener. Doesn't sound so bad, does it? Here's to Ushi Okushima.
At the core, market exchange is about well informed buyers and sellers freely exchanging to their mutual advantage. But what happens when the transaction price doesn’t capture all the cost or benefits of the transaction … that is, someone external to the transaction bears part of the cost and/or reaps part of the benefit? When this external impact occurs, economists refer to it as an externality. There are both negative and positive externalities. Today we look at negative externalities.
The most typical externality example is pollution. If I build a factory that puts smelly odors into the air, my neighbors will have to live with that odor. That odor decreases my neighbors’ quality of life and reduces their property values. Yet my neighbors get none of the income from factory. Therefore, both my customers and I are in engaging in exchange that places a cost on my neighbors.
There are a number of ways to address these problems. First, government creates zoning laws that segregate pollution emitting enterprises from residential and retail areas. That way my pollution will only affect those who have bought property in an area with the full knowledge that pollution is likely to be present. They calculate the cost of this pollution into the price they pay for their land. This clearly is a limit on the market. I can’t buy any piece of land and just do with it what I please. But zoning helps minimize the likelihood that neighbors will engage in activities that exact costs on their neighbors.
Another way to address an externality is through taxation. Many believe that carbon dioxide is having a damaging effect on the environment. In that sense, it is society-wide externality. The cost to ourselves and to future generations isn’t captured in the costs of the fuel sources we use. By adding a significant tax to activities relative to the amount of CO2 they produce, the costs of these activities are more fully factored into market exchanges.
Another way pollution is addressed is through cap and trade. Here the total allowable amount of a specific particulate over the course of a year is set. Then permits to emit a set amount of the particulate are sold at auction. For businesses that find it very costly to reduce emissions, these licenses will be highly valued, thus driving the auction price up. For businesses that find it easier to reduce emissions, it will be less expensive to convert to other technologies, thus reducing the overall pollution. But overtime, as the cost of licenses becomes more constraining more businesses will find it in their financial interest to make significant investments in pollution reduction. The last holdouts will eventually find themselves paying prohibitive fees to stay in operation.
With both taxation and cap and trade, businesses and markets develop their own solutions. Another approach is to either outright ban certain activities or to mandate technologies to be used in particular activities. A softer approach is to give subsidies to people who will employ specific technologies. In this way, government is not only making sure externalities are captured in the price of transactions but dictating what transactions will be permissible.
So externalities are often created and must be addressed. But notice that there are perils with each of the suggested solutions above. An overarching one is unequal application of these laws. Some powerful industries or company’s make a case for why they should receive special treatment. If politicians bow to this approach that means competitors of these now favored entities must enter the lobbying arena in order to get similar deals or to block their competitors’ deals. This suddenly makes politicians very important recipients of campaign dollars and other support from these competing interests.
What many fail to appreciate is that many large corporations welcome regulation of their industry. Regulation creates a barrier to any firms who might want to enter the market and compete. The burden of regulation is usually disproportionately cumbersome for smaller firms. The net result can be melding of powerful political and business interests all in the name of protecting the public and capturing externalities.
Both taxation and cap and trade have inherent information problems. Using taxes to counter externalities allows business to be informed of how much things will cost but how do you know which tax amount will get you the right result. Cap and trade makes the level of pollution known but how do you know how much impact a cap is going to have on costs and the ability of businesses to plan?
Another factor is that regulation sometimes has the reverse affect of what is intended. Several years ago I read about a guy in North Carolina who had hundreds of acres of tall timber forest land. Each year he would cut 1% to 2% of the trees and then replant. Then a species of owl was placed on the endangered species list. An environmental regulation was proposed that no harvesting of trees could take place within a given distance from wherever a habitat for one of these owls was discovered. Doing the calculations showed that it would take only a few owls before his entire property would not be available for harvest. He, and many other land owners, were preparing to harvest their entire acreage before owls would arrive or be found, thus wiping out habitats for the owls. What eventually happened is that the regulation was abandoned and a volunteer owl preservation program was initiated that became very successful.
There is no question that externalities are a problem but solutions to the externalities also have their problems. There are usually trade-offs between options and there are differences of opinion about which trade-off should be valued over another. The idea that no interference in the markets on these matters is always the most just approach is highly doubtful. But which policy to apply on which occasions is rarely self-evident.
As I noted at the start, there are also positive externalities … instances where people external to a transaction receive benefit from the transaction. They are sometimes called spillovers. We will turn to these next.
(Paul Krugman has a piece about externalities and climate change in the New York Times today. I don’t necessarily agree with Krugman’s assessment at every point but it gives you an idea of how economists process the issues.)
New York Times Magazine: Building a Green Economy Paul Krugman
This is a lengthy article and I'm not endorsing all of Krugman's conclusions. Nevertheless, I think it is a wonderful piece for illustrating how economists process the issue negative externalities.
If you listen to climate scientists — and despite the relentless campaign to discredit their work, you should — it is long past time to do something about emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. If we continue with business as usual, they say, we are facing a rise in global temperatures that will be little short of apocalyptic. And to avoid that apocalypse, we have to wean our economy from the use of fossil fuels, coal above all.
But is it possible to make drastic cuts in greenhouse-gas emissions without destroying our economy?
Like the debate over climate change itself, the debate over climate economics looks very different from the inside than it often does in popular media. The casual reader might have the impression that there are real doubts about whether emissions can be reduced without inflicting severe damage on the economy. In fact, once you filter out the noise generated by special-interest groups, you discover that there is widespread agreement among environmental economists that a market-based program to deal with the threat of climate change — one that limits carbon emissions by putting a price on them — can achieve large results at modest, though not trivial, cost. There is, however, much less agreement on how fast we should move, whether major conservation efforts should start almost immediately or be gradually increased over the course of many decades.
In what follows, I will offer a brief survey of the economics of climate change or, more precisely, the economics of lessening climate change. I’ll try to lay out the areas of broad agreement as well as those that remain in major dispute. First, though, a primer in the basic economics of environmental protection.
Environmental Econ 101
If there’s a single central insight in economics, it’s this: There are mutual gains from transactions between consenting adults. If the going price of widgets is $10 and I buy a widget, it must be because that widget is worth more than $10 to me. If you sell a widget at that price, it must be because it costs you less than $10 to make it. So buying and selling in the widget market works to the benefit of both buyers and sellers. More than that, some careful analysis shows that if there is effective competition in the widget market, so that the price ends up matching the number of widgets people want to buy to the number of widgets other people want to sell, the outcome is to maximize the total gains to producers and consumers. Free markets are “efficient” — which, in economics-speak as opposed to plain English, means that nobody can be made better off without making someone else worse off.
Now, efficiency isn’t everything. In particular, there is no reason to assume that free markets will deliver an outcome that we consider fair or just. So the case for market efficiency says nothing about whether we should have, say, some form of guaranteed health insurance, aid to the poor and so forth. But the logic of basic economics says that we should try to achieve social goals through “aftermarket” interventions. That is, we should let markets do their job, making efficient use of the nation’s resources, then utilize taxes and transfers to help those whom the market passes by.
But what if a deal between consenting adults imposes costs on people who are not part of the exchange? What if you manufacture a widget and I buy it, to our mutual benefit, but the process of producing that widget involves dumping toxic sludge into other people’s drinking water? When there are “negative externalities” — costs that economic actors impose on others without paying a price for their actions — any presumption that the market economy, left to its own devices, will do the right thing goes out the window. So what should we do? Environmental economics is all about answering that question. ...
Wall Street Journal: Friendship for Guys (No Tears!)
... Male friendships like these are absolutely typical, but don't assume they're inferior to female friendships. "If we use a women's paradigm for friendship, we're making a mistake," says Geoffrey Greif, a professor at the University of Maryland's School of Social Work, who has studied how 386 men made, kept and nurtured friendships. Men might not be physically or emotionally expressive, he says, but we derive great support from our friendships.
Researchers say women's friendships are face to face: They talk, cry together, share secrets. Men's friendships are side by side: We play golf. We go to football games. ...
... In his research, Dr. Greif found that men generally resist high-maintenance relationships, whether with spouses, girlfriends or male pals. When picking friends, "men don't want someone who is too needy," he says. A third of the men in his study said they learned positive things from female friendships, but 25% had a negative impression of women as friends, citing issues such as "cattiness" and "too much drama." And women are more likely than men to hold grudges toward friends, according to Dr. Greif's 2009 book, "Buddy System."
Studies show that in their late 20s and 30s, women have a harder time staying in touch with old friends. Those are the years when they're busy starting careers and raising children, so they don't have time to gather for reunions. Money is tighter, too. But around age 40, women start reconnecting. Before the 1990s, researchers assumed this was because they had more time for friendship in their 40s, as their children became self-sufficient. But now researchers consider this middle-aged focus on friendship to be a life stage; as women plan the next chapter of their lives, they turn to friends for guidance and empathy.
Men, meanwhile, tend to build friendships until about age 30, but there's often a falloff after that. Among the reasons: Their friendships are more apt to be hurt by geographical moves and differences in career trajectories. Recent studies, however, are now finding that men in their late 40s are turning to what Dr. Grief calls "rusted" friends—longtime pals they knew when they were younger. The Internet is making it easier for them to make contact with one another.
A woman from Wisconsin wrote to me recently to say that she effortlessly shares intimate feelings with her friends. That's in great contrast to her husband. He recently went on a fishing trip to Canada with four longtime friends. And so she wondered: What did they talk about for a whole week? She knew one of the men had problems at work. Another's daughter was getting married. The third man has health problems. Her husband said none of those issues came up. She couldn't believe it.
She told him: "Two female strangers in a public restroom would share more personal information in five minutes than you guys talked about in a week!"
But again, it's a mistake to judge men's interactions by assuming we need to be like women. Research shows that men often open up about emotional issues to wives, mothers, sisters and platonic female friends. That's partly because they assume male friends will be of little help. It may also be due to fears of seeming effeminate or gay. But it's also an indication that men compartmentalize their needs; they'd rather turn to male friends to momentarily escape from their problems. The new buzzword is "bromance." ...
Washington Post: U.S. birthrate drops 2 percent in 2008
After rising to its highest point in two decades, the rate at which women in the United States gave birth declined in 2008 as the economy deteriorated, according to government statistics released Tuesday.
The nation's overall birthrate fell 2 percent from 2007 to 2008, when about 4.2 million babies were born. The dip pushed the fertility rate below 2.1 per woman, meaning Americans were no longer giving birth to enough children to keep the population from declining.
There were 41.5 births per 1,000 teens ages 15 to 19 in 2008, a 2 percent drop from the previous year. After a two-year increase in teen births prompted concern that one of the nation's most successful social and public health efforts was faltering, 2008 marked the return of a decline in which the rate fell 34 percent over many years.
"This is good news," said Stephanie J. Ventura of the National Center for Health Statistics, which released the annual preliminary analysis of birth certificate data. "It might come as a surprise because people were concerned the teen birthrate was on a different course."
Ventura was among those who said it was too early to know whether the teen births trend would continue in 2009. But she speculated that it might because it was part of the broader drop in the birthrate for women of all ages -- except those 40 and older -- and that appears to have continued at least another year.
The reason for the drop in teen births remained unclear. Experts offered several possible explanations, including the poor economy. ...
Chicago-Tribune: Dad-daughter bonding sees resurgence in pop culture
... Another possible reason for the rising number of depictions of fathers and daughters in the arts can be chalked up to real-world social change. Women now can participate in the full range of human activities; they can play sports, enter politics, go fly-fishing, fix old cars — whatever they want to do. That wasn't the case previously. Thus fictional fathers can — just as real ones do — talk to their daughters about the same things about which they'd talk to their sons. Dad doesn't have to pretend to be interested in prom dresses and lip gloss to share some quality time with a female offspring. ...
... And despite that roll call of memorable father-daughter stories in cultural history, from Cordelia to Alexis Castle, the relationship still has not been explored with the thoroughness and imaginative rigor of other parent-child pairings, explorations led by Sigmund Freud and his followers. Mothers and sons have "Hamlet." Fathers and sons have — well, "Fathers and Sons," as well as " Star Wars." Mothers and daughters have "Little Women." But fathers and daughters still constitute a rich potential field, a largely untapped reservoir of stories.
Not all of those stories can be savory ones. In the real world, of course, not all fathers are loving and supportive; some are abusive and negligent, just as some mothers are. Dramas about fathers and daughters, if they are to reflect life, must include some portraits of pain and betrayal. But for now, pop culture is having a fine time with upbeat dads who enjoy the challenges posed by interesting daughters. Homer Simpson may not pick up on daughter Lisa's literary allusions, but he loves her more than he does Lard Lad Donuts — and that's no small thing. ...
NAIROBI (Reuters) - Lack of microcredit laws in many African countries is denying millions of the continent's poor access to loans, a Nobel Prize winner Mohammad Yunus, said on Tuesday.
Yunus, who won a Nobel Prize in 2006 for championing Microcredit, tiny loans to the poor in Bangladesh, is now pioneering an idea he calls "social business" as a way to fight poverty around the world -- business not for profit but to solve social problems.
"To create a new kind of bank, which works with the poor people, we need new legislation but in most of the countries in Africa that legislation has not taken place, so we have left microcredit scenario to the NGOs," Yunus told Reuters in an interview.
Nicknamed the "banker to the poor," Yunus started his movement 30 years ago with a $27 loan to women in Chittagong, Bangladesh.
It has mushroomed and delivered millions of tiny loans to poor people who do not have access to mainstream banking.
"People are ready in Africa there is no problem with the people it's a question of institutional and conceptual arrangement and microcredit could be wonderful social business," he said. ...