Saturday, December 31, 2011
By Will Davies
It?s been a packed year for sports fans in India, and broadly-speaking a cheerful one, particularly in early April when the whole country erupted in celebration as Mahendra Singh Dhoni and his Men in Blue won the Cricket World Cup in a sizzling final in Mumbai. The Formula One Grand Prix on the outskirts of Delhi was also a highlight of the sporting year, as India laid some of those Commonwealth Games ghosts to rest with a well-organized and widely-watched event.
Cricket, unsurprisingly, remains far and away the sport of choice in India but it wasn?t just the players on the pitch grabbing headlines. Cheerleaders did, too.
Here?s a look at some of the sports posts you read the most on India Real Time:
1. India in World Cup Final ? This live blog of the World Cup semifinal between India and Pakistan generated more hits than the final itself, as the two big rivals ? both on and off the cricket pitch ? fought it out for a place in the final, and history.
2. India Wins Cricket World Cup ? Sticking with the cricket theme here, unsurprisingly, with a live blog of the World Cup final in Mumbai in April. A nation?s prayers were answered when M.S. Dhoni smashed that historic six to beat Sri Lanka and win India the World Cup for the first time since Kapil Dev?s team won at Lord?s in 1983.
3. India Beats Australia by 5 Wickets ? We did say cricket remains the sport of choice in India. Again, readers tuned in for the World Cup, this time it was the quarterfinal between India and Australia, in which the hosts overcame a century by Ricky Ponting to secure a spot in the semifinal against Pakistan.
4. A Ferrari for Dhoni? ? India?s cricket captain M.S. Dhoni didn?t just get his hands on the World Cup this year, he also got hold of a red Ferrari 599 GTO with an Indian tricolor on the hood for good measure.
5. Mumbai Indians Cheerleader Sacked for ?Secret? Diary ? A South African cheerleader for Indian Premier League team, the Mumbai Indians, was sacked and deported after writing about the off-field antics of some party-loving cricketers in a blog.
6. Five Reasons to Hate Sachin Tendulkar ? This tongue-in-cheek look at the ever-popular Little Master was intended to demonstrate that it?s impossible to think up even five decent reasons to dislike this man loved by millions. Some of our readers didn?t get the joke.
7. Records Broken at IPL Auction but Legends Miss Out ? The Indian Premier League auction grabbed headlines after franchises paid record sums to secure the services of some of the world?s top cricketers. Can you remember who got the biggest deal?
8. The Top Ten Rivalries in Global Sports ? Ahead of the India-Pakistan World Cup semifinal, we took a look at some of the other great rivalries in sports.
9. India?s F1: What Would Buddha Think? ? Finally, a non-cricket related post taking a look at the new logo for the Buddh International Circuit used for India?s inaugural Formula One Grand Prix. The F1 track has been widely praised as one of the best in the world. The logo hasn?t.
10. Mr. Dhoni, My Wife Is Mad at You ? The night India won the World Cup, crowds thronged the streets and threw a once-in-a-lifetime party. It was a fantastic occasion, unless you were trying to get to the airport.
You can follow Will and India Real Time on Twitter @WillMHDavies and @indiarealtime.
HONG KONG?? China has reported a suspected human case of the H5N1 virus, or bird flu, in a southern city bordering Hong Kong, officials said on Friday.
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The patient, a 39-year-old man living in Shenzhen, developed symptoms on Dec. 21 and was admitted to a hospital on Dec. 25 because of severe pneumonia, the Centre of Health Protection of Hong Kong said in a statement. He is now in critical condition.
China's Ministry of Health said preliminary laboratory tests on the patient's specimen by the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention of Guangdong Province had yielded a positive result for H5N1.
About 10 days ago Hong Kong culled 17,000 chickens at a wholesale poultry market and suspended all imports of live chickens from mainland China for 21 days after a dead chicken there tested positive for the H5N1 virus.
The virus is normally found in birds but can jump to people who do not have immunity to it and researchers worry it could mutate into a form that would spread around the world and kill millions of people.
In recent years, the virus has become active in various parts of the world, mainly in east Asia, during the cooler months.
WHO 'deeply concerned' by deadly flu research
Authorities in China are especially worried about the spread of infectious diseases around this time when millions of Chinese travel in crowded buses and trains across the country to go home to celebrate the Lunar New Year.
The current strain of H5N1 is highly pathogenic, kills most species of birds and up to 60 percent of the people it infects. Since 2003, it has infected 573 people around the world, killing 336. The virus also kills migratory birds but species that manage to survive can carry and disperse the virus to new, uninfected locations.
The virus can kill birds and humans in a matter of days but can survive far longer durations in a moist, cool environment.
It transmits less easily between people but there have been clusters of infections in people in Indonesia and Thailand in the past, where the virus is believed to have been passed between family members through direct contact with contaminated respiratory secretions.
Copyright 2011 Thomson Reuters. Click for restrictions.
Friday, December 30, 2011
In Aesop's ancient Greek fable of the ant and the grasshopper, the ant was right: Save for a rainy day. New Year's resolution for America in 2012: We need more grasshoppers.?
Perhaps you remember Aesop?s fable about the ant and the grasshopper. The diligent ant works tirelessly through the summer, storing food for the winter, while the grasshopper lays about munching on grass, and worse, making fun of the ant for his work ethic. When winter comes, the ant survives on his stores, and the grasshopper starves to death, having learned the lesson we now translate as ?saving for a rainy day.? But that 6th century BC fable from Greece doesn?t fit the 21st century AD economy in the United States. My research, encapsulated in a new book ?Against Thrift,? suggests we need to spend our way out of the current slump. If the ant and the grasshopper compared New Year's resolutions today, say, in a New York coffee shop, their conversation might go like this:Skip to next paragraph
Grasshopper: You going to sell the brownstone?
Ant: You know I can?t, the housing market is that bad. And I?m close to underwater, anyway. I can?t retire on debt. How about you?
G: There?s not much in my retirement account, not enough to live on, even with Social Security. I?m still in debt, too. Borrowed to send the boys to school.
A: I saved and you spent, and here we are. It?s nearly winter and we?re both broke.
G: We gotta spend more. I mean the government should tax the rich and the corporations, and use it to create jobs and increase social spending.
A: You?re kidding, right?? We need more personal saving and more private investment to get us out of this hole, not more government spending. That?s goofy.
G: Funny you use that word, because in the Disney short, the guy who does the Grasshopper is the voice of Goofy. You, I don't know who did your voice, probably Lawrence Olivier. But yeah, all the econ textbooks are going to tell you that private investment is the key to growth. In theory, they?re right ? or they were right until about 1910, and then the economy went in another direction.
A: I don?t get it.
G:?Nobody does. After 1910, outputs started increasing without any increase in the quantity of inputs, whether capital or labor. Lots of economists, and some of them won Nobel Prizes, have said, ?Yeah, technological progress made it possible.? Cheaper and better machines allowed output to go up. Others chalk it up to an organizational revolution: The new large corporations made for unbelievable labor productivity. Either way, private investment as a share of the overall economy has been dwindling ever since.
A: So all those conservatives who want to cut taxes to get more money in the hands of the private sector ?
G: ? are wrong. Think about it. The banks don?t need your savings. They?re already sitting on a trillion dollars they don?t know what to do with. Businesses don?t borrow it because consumers aren?t buying. But they would borrow and expand if we got more money in the hands of big-spending consumers. Investment follows the consumer demand curve, not the other way around.
A: But didn?t we try that with the stimulus?
G: The stimulus wasn't big enough to pull us out of a really big ditch. That?s why we need to tax the rich, help the poor, and boost spending now.
A: I have to be more like you? That is scary.?
G: That?s just the economics. There?s a moral component. We can afford to be our brother?s keeper, expand the welfare state, increase entitlements. We?ve already figured out how to pay people who don?t produce anything: transfer payments, entitlements, even Wall Street bonuses (because the financial sector really doesn?t produce that much). We have to live up to the promise of abundance and live by the ancient Judeo-Christian criterion of need: from each according to her abilities, to each according to his needs.
A: Our brother?s keeper??
G:?Think of it as a New Year's resolution. You can start by buying this round.
???James Livingston, a history professor at Rutgers University, is author of the new book "Against Thrift: Why Consumer Culture is Good for the Economy, the Environment, and Your Soul."??
Reality TV star NeNe Leakes stars as Coach Roz on "Glee."
By Ree Hines
The next episode of "Glee" promises more of the usual high school drama and song and dance fun that fans have come to expect, but it also features a "Glee" first: NeNe Leakes.
As announced last week, "The Real Housewives of Atlanta" reality star will join the show as a recurring guest star. Now FOX has released the first photo showing Leakes in character. In the shot, Leakes, as swim coach Roz, faces off with Chord Overstreet's Sam.
Fans won't learn what the poolside hubbub is about until the episode airs Jan. 17.
Until then, Gleeks can enjoy this Leakes-free promo for the episode.
Those looking for other Leakes fixes in the new year will have plenty of opportunities to catch the frequent feuder on the small screen. In addition to her "Housewives" duties, she recently revealed that she'll also appear on BET's "The Game" and "Let's Stay Together."
Will you watch Leakes on "Glee" or any of her other upcoming TV spots? Tell us on our Facebook page.
Also in the Clicker:
HOUSTON - Noble Energy Inc. said Wednesday it made a "significant" discovery of natural gas off the coast of the Mediterranean nation of Cyprus.
Noble said a well drilled 19,225 feet in water 5,540 feet deep hit a gas-bearing band about 310 feet thick.
The company said results indicate that the area could hold 5 trillion to 8 trillion cubic feet of gas, but more test drilling will be required.
Noble operates the well and holds a 70 percent interest, with Delek Drilling and Avner Oil Exploration each having a 15 percent stake, subject to approval from the government of Cyprus.
Houston-based Noble explores for oil and gas in the U.S., the Gulf of Mexico, the eastern Mediterranean and off the coast of West Africa.
Noble shares fell $1.46 to $94.18 in afternoon trading. They have ranged from $65.91 to $101.27 in the past year.
Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
ScienceDaily (Dec. 27, 2011) ? Researchers at The Johns Hopkins University have discovered a way to make time stand still -- at least when it comes to the yearly calendar.
Using computer programs and mathematical formulas, Richard Conn Henry, an astrophysicist in the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences and Steve H. Hanke, an applied economist in the Whiting School of Engineering, have created a new calendar in which each new 12-month period is identical to the one which came before, and remains that way from one year to the next in perpetuity.
Under the Hanke-Henry Permanent Calendar, for instance, if Christmas fell on a Sunday in 2012 (and it would), it will also fall on a Sunday in 2013, 2014 and beyond. In addition, under the new calendar, the rhyme "30 days hath September, April, June and November," would no longer apply, because September would have 31 days, as would June, March and December. All the rest have 30 (Try creating a rhyme using that.)
"Our plan offers a stable calendar that is absolutely identical from year to year and which allows the permanent, rational planning of annual activities, from school to work holidays," says Henry, who is also director of the Maryland Space Grant Consortium. "Think about how much time and effort are expended each year in redesigning the calendar of every single organization in the world and it becomes obvious that our calendar would make life much simpler and would have noteworthy benefits."
Among the practical advantages would be the convenience afforded by birthdays and holidays (as well as work holidays) falling on the same day of the week every year. But the economic benefits are even more profound, according to Hanke, an expert in international economics, including monetary policy.
"Our calendar would simplify financial calculations and eliminate what we call the 'rip off' factor," explains Hanke. "Determining how much interest accrues on mortgages, bonds, forward rate agreements, swaps and others, day counts are required. Our current calendar is full of anomalies that have led to the establishment of a wide range of conventions that attempt to simplify interest calculations. Our proposed permanent calendar has a predictable 91-day quarterly pattern of two months of 30 days and a third month of 31 days, which does away with the need for artificial day count conventions."
According to Hanke and Henry, their calendar is an improvement on the dozens of rival reform calendars proffered by individuals and institutions over the last century.
"Attempts at reform have failed in the past because all of the major ones have involved breaking the seven-day cycle of the week, which is not acceptable to many people because it violates the Fourth Commandment about keeping the Sabbath Day," Henry explains. "Our version never breaks that cycle."
Henry posits that his team's version is far more convenient, sensible and easier to use than the current Gregorian calendar, which has been in place for four centuries -- ever since 1582, when Pope Gregory altered a calendar that was instituted in 46 BC by Julius Caesar.
In an effort to bring Caesar's calendar in synch with the seasons, the pope's team removed 11 days from the calendar in October, so that Oct. 4 was followed immediately by Oct. 15. This adjustment was necessary in order to deal with the same knotty problem that makes designing an effective and practical new calendar such a challenge: the fact that each Earth year is 365.2422 days long.
Hanke and Henry deal with those extra "pieces" of days by dropping leap years entirely in favor of an extra week added at the end of December every five or six years. This brings the calendar in sync with the seasonal changes as the Earth circles the sun.
In addition to advocating the adoption of this new calendar, Hanke and Henry encourage the abolition of world time zones and the adoption of "Universal Time" (formerly known as Greenwich Mean Time) in order to synchronize dates and times worldwide, streamlining international business.
"One time throughout the world, one date throughout the world," they write, in a January 2012 Global Asia article about their proposals. "Business meetings, sports schedules and school calendars would be identical every year. Today's cacophony of time zones, daylight savings times and calendar fluctuations, year after year, would be over. The economy -- that's all of us -- would receive a permanent 'harmonization' dividend."
View a website about the Hanke-Henry Permanent Calendar here: http://henry.pha.jhu.edu/calendar.html
Read Hanke and Henry's January 2012 Global Asia article about calendar reform here: http://www.cato.org/pub_display.php?pub_id=13940
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Thursday, December 29, 2011
My name is BlondeGamer, creator of "Beneath Our Feet"
Beneath Our Feet is a modern/fantasy roleplay about a secret organization that houses, experiments on, and often tortures people with powers that are out of the ordinary.
We are needing more heroes, villians, and even a few more agents wouldn't hurt.
If you are interested, please check out the roleplay at the link below and submit a character!
Hope to see you there!
Its better to ask forgiveness... than permission
Our beautiful and brave mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother, Josephine Rita Santella, passed away on December 26, 2011. Josephine was 90 years old, formerly of Havertown, Pennsylvania and has resided in Georgetown, Texas since 2007. Josephine was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on June 6, 1921 to Christopher and Leonarda (Lazzarotti) Chiaro. On February 11, 1945 Josephine Chiaro and Nicholas Ralph Santella were joined together in marriage. He predeceased Josephine on May 11, 1996.
During her years living in Havertown, Pennsylvania Josephine worked as a bookkeeper for Haverford Township in their local government offices. Josephine was a member of St. Denis Catholic Church and enjoyed being active in the Legion of Mary, St. Denis Seniors, and St. Francis Seniors until her move to Georgetown. A very happy lady, she will be remembered by her lovely smile and gracious; generous heart and we know she is being welcomed in grand style. We miss her already.
Josephine is predeceased by her husband, Nicholas Ralph Santella. Survivors include daughters, Norma Steck and husband Tom of Georgetown, Texas and Michelle Costello and husband Jim of Williamstown, New Jersey; four grandchildren; three great-grandchildren; a sister, Rita Nicosia and brothers, Chris Chiaro and Peter Chiaro.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made in her memory to St. Jude's Children's Hospital or Lighthouse Hospice, 2913 Williams Dr., Suite 320, Georgetown, Texas 78628.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be held at 12:00 Noon on Thursday, December 29th at St. Denis Catholic Church, 2401 St. Denis Ln., Havertown, Pennsylvania 19083 with a viewing at 11:00 a.m. Burial will follow in the St. Peter Paul's Cemetery in Springfield, Pennsylvania.
You are invited to leave a message or memory in the memorial guestbook at www.RamseyFuneral.com.
Wednesday, December 28, 2011
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DETROIT ? Detroit's Queen of Soul knows how to throw a Christmas party, and she welcomed in the holiday with glitter, a jazzy musical backdrop and a finale of "Silent Night" with the Four Tops.
Aretha Franklin held her annual Christmas party on Friday at the Detroit Athletic Club, greeting guests in a teal blue gown accented with a silver sequined bodice.
The Detroit News reports ( http://bit.ly/tPkXO9) that Franklin exchanged gifts with family and friends as Ursula Walker, Buddy Budson, Marian Hayden and Gayelynn McKinney played jazz in the background.
During a meal of filet mignon and salmon, guests were entertained by performances by Gwen & Charles Scales and Franklin's son Eddie Franklin, who sang "Some Enchanted Evening."
Tuesday, December 27, 2011
A man suspected of opening fire on a family Christmas celebration outside Dallas was dressed in a Santa Claus suit when he killed six people and then himself, police said on Monday.
Authorities continued their search for clues in Grapevine, a Dallas suburb dubbed the "Christmas Capital of Texas," to explain the Sunday murder-suicide rampage that left the seven shot dead among unwrapped holiday presents.
The dead -- four women and three men between the ages of 15 and 58 -- were found on Sunday morning in an apartment living-room by police answering a voiceless 911 emergency call, authorities said. "By all appearances, they're all part of the same family," said Sergeant Robert Eberling of the Grapevine police department, adding that some were related through marriage.
Two pistols were recovered from the home, said Eberling, who called it a "gruesome crime scene" and the worst outburst of gun violence in the town's history. Authorities were waiting on autopsy reports before releasing identities, a potential motive and details on what exactly happened inside the home, Eberling said.
"We have a petty good idea who these folks were, and we're trying to work through contacting other family members so we can better piece together what took place and why it took place," he said.
Eberling said the suspected shooter was dressed in a Santa Claus suit but gave no further details. The 911 caller never spoke to police, and officers did not see the telephone when they arrived, officials said. Eberling said he believed police had to kick in the door to enter. No neighbours reported hearing gunshots, he said.
Eberling said the victims appeared to have just opened Christmas presents when the shooting started, and there was no sign of forced entry or a struggle. Circumstances of the shooting remained sketchy, but Eberling said it appeared as though the bloodbath unfolded during a family holiday celebration. No one was found alive by police arriving at the home, he said. A community of about 46,000 people some 20 miles (32km) northwest of downtown Dallas, Grapevine is known for its wine-tasting salons and was proclaimed by the state Senate as the "Christmas Capital of Texas" for its abundance of annual holiday-season events.
"This is obviously a terrible tragedy," Mayor William Tate said on Sunday night in a statement. "The fact that it happened on Christmas makes it even more tragic."
LOS ANGELES?? "Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol" cruised to No. 1 at box offices on Sunday, even as major new movies opened on Christmas Day which may change top 10 results when final numbers are tallied.
The new Tom Cruise movie rang up an estimated $26.5 million in U.S. and Canadian ticket sales over the three-day weekend, according to studio estimates, after expanding from a limited release in Imax and other large-screen theaters last week.
Paramount Pictures, which released the movie, said it expects a four-day tally of slightly more than $40 million by Monday, when final estimates are reported. The film's cumulative ticket sales are expected to reach just over $72 after Monday.
Indeed, the weekend box office race truly will finish on Monday because Christmas day annually is among the most crowded days in theaters and on Sunday, director Steven Spielberg's widely-anticipated "War Horse" makes its debut along with another newcomer, thriller "The Darkest Hour."
Hollywood's major studios loaded the release schedule last week heading into the holiday, expecting the films to play well between now and New Year's Eve while parents and kids are away from work and school. As a result, a clear picture of how the movie studios fared this Christmas season awaits the full week of box office reports.
Meanwhile, over the weekend Warner Bros' "Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows" took the No. 2 spot on U.S. and Canadian (domestic) box office charts with $17.8 million, according to Sunday's estimates. Cumulative ticket sales for "Sherlock" after two weeks now stand at roughly $76.5 million.
Another holdover from last week, family comedy "Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked" squeaked into No. 3 with $13.3 million, pushing its total domestic ticket sales to $50.3 million after two weeks in theaters.
Following it were a trio of last week's newcomers, widely-anticipated "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo," family film "The Adventures of Tintin" and comedy "We Bought A Zoo."
"Dragon Tattoo" landed at No. 4 on Sunday with $13 million, a hair behind the chipmunks, and a Sony spokesman cautioned the studio's figure could change when Sunday's figures are final.
"Today and tomorrow should be our strongest days of the holiday frame," the spokesman said, noting that the studio did not have a Monday estimate.
"Dragon Tattoo" now has estimated total domestic ticket sales of $21.4 million since its debut.
"Tintin," another Spielberg film released by Paramount, landed at No. 5 over the weekend with $9.1 million. The studio sees it rising to $14.3 million after Monday. Total ticket sales by Monday are seen at $22.3 million since its debut.
Finally, another new entry this weekend, the comedy "We Bought a Zoo," landed at No. 6 with $7.8 million.
Paramount Pictures is a unit of Viacom Inc. Warner Bros. is part of Time Warner Inc.. "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo" was released by the movie studio division of Sony Pictures Entertainment, a unit of Sony Corp. "Chipwrecked" and "Zoo" were both released by film divisions of 20th Century Fox, a unit of News Corp..
Copyright 2011 Thomson Reuters. Click for restrictions.
updated 5:09 p.m. ET Dec. 26, 2011
ALLEN PARK, Mich. - Detroit Lions coach Jim Schwartz isn't fretting over circumstances beyond his control.
He said Monday he doesn't worry if the Green Bay team the Lions will face on Sunday at Lambeau Field will rest key players now that the Packers have clinched home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs.
Schwartz also said he isn't concerned about possible playoff scenarios for his Lions, who secured their first postseason berth since the 1999 season with a 38-10 victory over San Diego on Saturday.
The Lions are in the running for the No. 5 seed in the NFC, which would mean playing at the winner of Sunday's game between the New York Giants and Dallas Cowboys.
"Particularly being a wild card like we are, to get through the NFC, you're going to have to win three games," Schwartz said. "All three of those are going to be good teams. The only thing we can do is worry about ourselves and preparing the very best we can this week and not worrying about scenarios or all those other things. They'll have a team for us to play. We'll be ready for them."
Schwartz said the Lions' preparation for Green Bay won't be impacted much by the possibility backup quarterback Matt Flynn could start if Aaron Rodgers is kept out of harm's way.
The Packers played without four injured starters, including offensive tackles Bryan Bulaga and Chad Clifton, in a 35-21 victory over Chicago on Sunday night. The Lions haven't beaten Green Bay on the road since 1991.
"We can't control who they play or what objectives they have in the game," Schwartz said. "It doesn't change our objectives or anything else. Obviously, if we're preparing for a different quarterback, you need to be ready for that, but their offense isn't going to change. They are what they are. It's not like some other situations we've seen. You go to Minnesota, another division opponent, you have one quarterback and then a very different skill set in a different quarterback."
Schwartz gave no indication that the Lions might rest some nicked-up players against Green Bay.
"It's football," he said. "We're going to try to win the game. Any game they put in front of us, we're going to try our best to win."
Schwartz dismissed the notion the Lions are happy to merely be in the playoffs after 10 consecutive losing seasons, including 0-16 three years ago. He noted recent history, with three of the last six Super Bowl champions being wild cards.
"There is an advantage to playing at home and getting byes and things like that, but it's certainly been proven that it can be done," Schwartz said. "A lot of that starts this week. You look at those teams, it wasn't just what they did when they got in the playoffs, it's where they were at the end of the season. Green Bay last year needed to win their last two just to get in.
"That's why it puts a little bit more importance on games like this. You want to go in with momentum, you want to go in with wins, you want to go in healthy. To be in is obviously the most important thing. After that, everybody has a chance."
Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
advertisementMore newsStreeter Lecka / Getty Images
Brees already among the greats
Tanier: Drew Brees deserves to be seen as more than a runner-up MVP. He is a future Hall of Famer, and he should be acknowledged as one of the best quarterbacks, not just of this generation, but of any generation.Chris Graythen / Getty Images
David Caton owes me one. I interviewed the head of the Florida Family Association last week during his bigoted but successful crusade to get companies like Lowe's to pull ads from All-American Muslim, the Learning Channel reality show about a community of Muslim Americans. Before Caton hung up on me -- he gets angry when you question his complaint that the show presents Muslims in too positive a light and not as crazed radicals plotting to impose Islamic shari'a law from Maine to Monterey -- I corrected his pronunciation of imam, a Muslim cleric, from Eye-mam to the proper Ee-mawm. Later that day, I heard him say it properly on CNN.
But that's all he got right. I concern myself with Caton -- who also likes to hire small planes to haul banners over Orlando warning people that homosexuals visit Disney World -- only for two reasons. One is that a major corporation like Lowe's actually caved to the Evangelical's ugly Islamophobia. The other is that he got his 15 minutes of fame at about the same time that Christopher Hitchens died, on Dec. 15. Hitchens was best known as one of the "angry atheists" for his 2007 best seller God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything, and narrow-minded fundamentalists like Caton made his work a lot easier. So of course did extremist Muslims, as well as extremist Roman Catholics, Jews, Hindus and all the fanatics who ruin religion the way drunks ruin driving. Which is why Hitchens' attacks on faith, while brilliantly written, could also feel gratuitous. (See "Christopher Hitchens, RIP.")
So it's fitting, at least for the silent majority of Christians who aren't hatemongering zealots but who derive hope and humane inspiration from our beliefs, that Caton and Hitchens should both be in the news during the Christmas season. The holiday's anticommercialization critics are right to argue that Christians spend too much time on outdoor lights at the expense of the inner light kindled by the story of God's incarnation in a manger. I'm as guilty as anyone in that regard. But Caton and Hitchens at least give us Christians a convenient place to start. They prod us on the one hand to assess what isn't Christian -- like demonizing gays and Muslims -- and on the other hand to reaffirm why Christianity and religion itself are a positive and not always poisonous influence in the world.
The crux of the Florida Family Association's campaign is Caton's preposterous claim, as he told me, that "every Eye-mam in this country wants to put the U.S. under shari'a law." Every imam I know here in Miami rejects the idea. "Muslims are only 6 million out of 300 million in this country," one reminds me. "We rely on U.S. law to protect our rights as a minority." They're also a minority who wish Christians well at Christmas: the Koran reverently mentions Jesus and the Virgin Mary almost 60 times. (See "Do Shari'a Courts Have a Role in British Life?")
One way, then, that Christians can practice Jesus' teachings of love, tolerance and charity this yuletide is by resolving to reassure folks like Muslims that we're not like the Florida Family Association. That we're committed to the code of Christmas -- "Peace on earth to people of goodwill" -- trumpeted by the same angels we place atop the trees in our living rooms.
That's also one of the best ways to answer Hitchens as well as other angry atheists like Richard Dawkins and quite a few members of my own hypersecular profession. It's a fairly widely accepted maxim that atheist fundamentalists, as I call them, can be just as intolerant as religious fundamentalists. And the problem they share is that both take religion way too literally. Just as Christian fundamentalists insist on a literal reading of the Bible, angry atheists tend to insist that belief in God qualifies you as a raving creationist. (See "Why Christopher Hitchens Is Wrong About Billy Graham.")
Here's what they refuse to get: Yes, Christians believe that Jesus' nativity was a virgin birth and that he rose from the dead on Easter. But if you were to show most Christians incontrovertible scientific proof that those miracles didn't occur, they would shrug -- because their faith means more to them than that. Because in the end, what they have faith in is the redemptive power of the story. In Evelyn Waugh's novel Brideshead Revisited, an agnostic says to his Catholic friend, "You can't seriously believe it all ... I mean about Christmas and the star and the three kings and the ox and the ass."
"Oh yes, I believe that. It's a lovely idea."
"But you can't believe things simply because they're a lovely idea."
"But I do. That's how I believe."
I'm willing to bet it's how most believers believe. Before Hitchens died at 62 from esophageal cancer, he made a point of declaring he was certain no heaven awaited him. But that swipe at the faithful always misses the point. Most of us don't believe in God because we think it's a ticket to heaven. Rather, our belief in God -- our belief in the living ideal of ourselves, which is something even atheists ponder -- instills in us a faith that in the end, light always defeats darkness (which is how people get through the wars and natural disasters I cover). That does make us open to the possibility of the hereafter -- but more important, it gives us purposeful inspiration to make the here and now better.
With all due respect to the memory of Christopher Hitchens, making the here and now better would be difficult without religion. But it's also hard enough without the un-Christian antics of people like David Caton. As Christmas ought to remind us.
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Monday, December 26, 2011
They say there are no atheists in foxholes. Same goes for the Elimination Chamber. Dubbed The Devil?s Playground for good reason, the satanic structure houses six Superstars inside ten tons of twisted metal, jagged steel and bulletproof glass. But, like any great battlefield, the chamber has become a place of glory that serves as a testament to the cunning or power of the Superstar who survives it. For John Cena, it has been such a place on three occasions, including this February 20 war against Sheamus, CM Punk, Randy Orton, John Morrison and R-Truth. Determined to earn a WWE Championship Match at WrestleMania, the Cenation leader persevered before finally eliminating Punk to earn his showdown with The Miz on The Grandest Stage of Them All.
Publicado: 26 dic. 2011 7:05 AM
El int?rprete de Batman, intent? visitar en su ?ltima visita a China al candidato al premio Nobel de la Paz en varias ocasiones, Chen Guangcheng, quien combati? fuertemente la pol?tica del hijo ?nico que forzaba a campesinos a realizarse abortos y esterilizaciones.
"No es bienvenido para crear noticias", indic? durante una rueda de prensa el portavoz del Ministerio de Asuntos Exteriores, Liu Weimin, quien a?adi? que "ese actor deber?a sentirse avergonzado por lo que hizo" el pasado 15 de diciembre.
De acuerdo con el medio, aquel d?a, acompa?ado de c?maras de CNN, Bale fue hasta la aldea de Donshigu con la intenci?n de "estrechar la mano de Chen y decirle que es una inspiraci?n". Sin embargo, esto le fue impedido por las fuerzas de seguridad que custodian el arresto domiciliario de Guangcheng.
Baseball Americas Aaron Fitt reports that Ryan Garvey son of Steve Garvey has transferred from USC to Riverside Community Coll...
8:00 PM: New York Giants owner John Mara after Saturday's 29-14 win over the Jets: "Given all of the noise that was coming out of Florham Park (Jets facility), it's a satisfying feeling."
7:45 PM: Seattle Seahawks RB Marshawn Lynch became the first player to score a rushing TD against the San Francisco 49ers this season. Lynch also became the first RB this season to run for 100 yards on the Niners.
7:30 PM: After being waived by the Phoenix Suns on Thursday, Mickael Pietrus tweeted Saturday: "I have decided to be part of The Boston Celtics Family.."
7:15 PM: The Detroit Lions clinched their first playoff berth since 1999 with Saturday's 38-10 win over the San Diego Chargers.
7:00 PM: Arizona Wildcats QB Daxx Garman is transferring to Oklahoma State.
6:45 PM: Oakland Raiders defensive end Jarvis Moss tweeted after Saturday's win over the Kansas City Chiefs: "Ain't gonna lie it felt good to splatter (QB Kyle) Orton today after not bein able to touch him in practice for 2 years! #pLea$eD"
6:30 PM: Detroit Lions RB Kevin Smith set a new team record with his 50th TD of the season.
6:15 PM: Four alpacas were found stabbed to death on a Connecticut farm Friday in what the owner says it the latest in a series of "mysterious & brutal attacks" on the animals.
6:00 PM: The Memphis Grizzlies traded Greivis Vasquez to the New Orleans Hornets for Quincy Pondexter.
5:45 PM: Ralph Vacchiano of the New York Daily News reports Jets coach Rex Ryan & Giants RB Brandon Jacobs exchanged words after Saturday's game: "Jacobs said 'I told him to shut the f*** up.' Ryan then told him 'Go f*** yourself.'"
5:30 PM: Detroit Lions QB Matthew Stafford set a new single season franchise passing record in Saturday's game against the San Diego Chargers, surpassing Scott Mitchell.
5:15 PM: The San Francisco 49ers allowed a TD on their opponent's opening drive for the first time this season when Seattle Seahawks TD Tarvaris Jackson scored on a pass to Doug Baldwin.
5:00 PM: The Philadelphia Eagles, Kansas City Chiefs & Arizona Cardinals have all been officially eliminated from the playoffs today.
4:45 PM: Dallas Cowboys QB Tony Romo was taken out of Saturday's game against the Eagles with a hand injury, and Stephen McGee took over at QB for the Cowboys.
4:30 PM: Raiders defensive tackle Richard Seymour blocked two Chiefs field goal attempts in Oakland's 16-13 OT win over Kansas City Saturday.
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Sunday, December 25, 2011
Poor muscle control, not aural perception, underlies most cases of bad singing
By Lena Groeger ?| December 25, 2011
Image: Morgan David de Lossy/Corbis
A cringe-worthy chorus of ?Happy Birthday? is usually all it takes to earn the label of ?tone-deaf.? Yet fewer than 1 percent of the population is truly amusical, that is, lacking the ability to distinguish different pitches. Many more of us simply can?t carry a tune. A study published online in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: General reinforces scientists? growing belief that the culprit is not the ear but the throat. In a series of pitch-matching experiments, nonmusicians were pretty good at adjusting an instrument to match a specific note, suggesting that they could hear it just fine. They had much more trouble, however, imitating the same note with their own voice. The authors suspect that poor motor control of vocal muscles is partly to blame?findings that reinforce the idea that almost anyone can learn to sing.
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When an international collaboration of physicists came up with a result that punched a hole in Einstein's theory of special relativity and couldn't find any mistakes in their work, they asked the world to take a second look at their experiment.
Responding to the call was Ramanath Cowsik, PhD, professor of physics in Arts & Sciences and director of the McDonnell Center for the Space Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis.
Online and in the December 24 issue of Physical Review Letters, Cowsik and his collaborators put their finger on what appears to be an insurmountable problem with the experiment.
The OPERA experiment, a collaboration between the CERN physics laboratory in Geneva, Switzerland, and the Laboratori Nazionali del Gran Sasso (LNGS) in Gran Sasso, Italy, timed particles called neutrinos traveling through Earth from the physics laboratory CERN to a detector in an underground laboratory in Gran Sasso, a distance of some 730 kilometers, or about 450 miles.
OPERA reported online and in Physics Letters B in September that the neutrinos arrived at Gran Sasso some 60 nanoseconds sooner than they would have arrived if they were traveling at the speed of light in a vacuum.
Neutrinos are thought to have a tiny, but nonzero, mass. According to the theory of special relativity, any particle that has mass may come close to but cannot quite reach the speed of light. So superluminal (faster than light) neutrinos should not exist.
The neutrinos in the experiment were created by slamming speeding protons into a stationary target, producing a pulse of pions ? unstable particles that were magnetically focused into a long tunnel where they decayed in flight into muons and neutrinos.
The muons were stopped at the end of the tunnel, but the neutrinos, which slip through matter like ghosts through walls, passed through the barrier and disappeared in the direction of Gran Sasso.
In their journal article, Cowsik and an international team of collaborators took a close look at the first step of this process. "We have investigated whether pion decays would produce superluminal neutrinos, assuming energy and momentum are conserved," he says.
The OPERA neutrinos had energies of about 17 gigaelectron volts. "They had a lot of energy but very little mass," Cowsik says, "so they should go very fast." The question is whether they went faster than the speed of light.
"We've shown in this paper that if the neutrino that comes out of a pion decay were going faster than the speed of light, the pion lifetime would get longer, and the neutrino would carry a smaller fraction of the energy shared by the neutrino and the muon," Cowsik says.
"What's more," he says, "these difficulties would only increase as the pion energy increases.
"So we are saying that in the present framework of physics, superluminal neutrinos would be difficult to produce," Cowsik explains.
In addition, he says, there's an experimental check on this theoretical conclusion. The creation of neutrinos at CERN is duplicated naturally when cosmic rays hit Earth's atmosphere.
A neutrino observatory called IceCube detects these neutrinos when they collide with other particles generating muons that leave trails of light flashes as they plow into the thick, clear ice of Antarctica.
"IceCube has seen neutrinos with energies 10,000 times higher than those the OPERA experiment is creating," Cowsik says.."Thus, the energies of their parent pions should be correspondingly high. Simple calculations, based on the conservation of energy and momentum, dictate that the lifetimes of those pions should be too long for them ever to decay into superluminal neutrinos.
"But the observation of high-energy neutrinos by IceCube indicates that these high-energy pions do decay according to the standard ideas of physics, generating neutrinos whose speed approaches that of light but never exceeds it.
Cowsik's objection to the OPERA results isn't the only one that has been raised.
Physicists Andrew G. Cohen and Sheldon L. Glashow published a paper in Physical Review Letters in October showing that superluminal neutrinos would rapidly radiate energy in the form of electron-positron pairs.
"We are saying that, given physics as we know it today, it should be hard to produce any neutrinos with superluminal velocities, and Cohen and Glashow are saying that even if you did, they'd quickly radiate away their energy and slow down," Cowsik says.
"I have very high regard for the OPERA experimenters," Cowsik adds. "They got faster-than-light speeds when they analyzed their data in March, but they struggled for months to eliminate possible errors in their experiment before publishing it.
"Not finding any mistakes," Cowsik says, "they had an ethical obligation to publish so that the community could help resolve the difficulty. That's the demanding code physicists live by," he says.
Washington University in St. Louis: http://www.wustl.edu
Thanks to Washington University in St. Louis for this article.
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Saturday, December 24, 2011
Justice Department rejects SC voter ID law, says it makes it harder for minorities to vote (Star Tribune)
Mitt Romney seems to think his strongest issue in a general-election race against President Obama is jobs. I?d argue he has that backwards.
In an interview with TIME Magazine?s Mark Halperin, Romney said, ?I know that the Democrats will try and make this a campaign about Bain Capital?. 25 million people are out of work because of Barack Obama. And so I?ll compare my experience in the private sector where, net-net, we created over 100,000 jobs.?
?I?ll compare that record with his record, where he has not created any new jobs.?
This detachment from reality fascinates me, so let?s unwrap the argument.
First, the confused former governor believes 25 million people are out of work ?because of Barack Obama.? If Romney can explain why Obama is to blame for a recession that began in 2007, I?d love to hear it. For that matter, the economy lost 3.6 million jobs in 2008 ? the year before the president took office. How exactly is Obama responsible for that, too?
Second, Romney now claims to have created ?over 100,000 jobs? at his vulture-capitalist firm. Romney also appears to have made this number up out of whole cloth. Indeed, two weeks ago, when Romney?s Super PAC ran an ad claiming he ?helped create thousands of jobs? as CEO at Bain, Super PAC officials were asked to back that up with evidence. They refused.
Third, it?s remarkable that Romney is only willing to compare his ?experience in the private sector.? What about when Romney was willing to put his experience to work in the public sector, during his one term as governor of Massachusetts? Romney doesn?t want to talk about it for a reason ? his state?s record on job creation was ?one of the worst in the country,? ranking 47th out of 50 states in job growth. It?s one of the reasons Romney left office after one term deeply unpopular, and why his former constituents don?t want him near the White House.
And fourth, Obama ?has not created any new jobs?? The ease with which Romney lies continues to be disconcerting.
With one month remaining this year, the U.S. private sector has now added 1.67 million jobs in 2011, well ahead of last year?s private-sector total of 1.2 million, and the best year for businesses since 2006. Since March 2010, American businesses have created 2.9 million jobs.
I?d encourage Romney to consider this chart showing private-sector job growth by month since the Great Recession began?
?and this chart showing private-sector job growth by year over the last two decades (and 2011 isn?t over yet).
Reporters really need to brush up on this stuff. When Romney lies to their face ? which seems to happen just about every day ? they should be able to push back with reality.
By: Steve Benen, Contributing Writer, Washington Monthly Political Animal, December 23, 2011
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December 23, 2011 - Posted by raemd95 | Election 2012, GOP Presidential Candidates, Jobs | Bain Capital, Barack Obama, media, Mitt Romney, Politics
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