Violence is Infectious

Duh! Scientists once again chase the obvious. The 'civilized' nature of man in this generation is a far cry from what was considered 'civilized' in all prior generations. It was only in the 1970's that corporal punishment started loosing favor as the discipline of choice for children. Mass deprivation and killing were common, legitimate means of enforcing government rule in centuries past, and is still practiced in some countries today.

In this country many of us struggle to comprehend how some peoples of this time and before can be so brutal. But, violence has always bred violence. This is nothing new. What is being overlooked is the growing stratification of understanding. Violence is so alien to some people these days that it no longer has meaning is the sense that violence is something "sane" people are capable of.


Just Getting Along

This article at Science Blog is interesting because it says what we already know, but in a way that explains what we might not understand. With regard to being young; the word I recall most associated with youth is, "idealism".

An idealist might be described as a person who absolutely, in no way, is capable of comprehending that there may be more than one viable answer.

Sometimes I long for younger days, but I no longer yearn for younger thoughts.


I'm Going to Tell On You!

Words that every child knows, and every child fears. When we were children and we used those words we would march to a parent or adult with righteous indignation at the unfairness we'd been dealt, often the offender clinging and begging for mercy. When we heard those words because we had done something (wrong) we became the clinger and the beggar. But sometimes, if we thought "they" were weak enough, we would force them into submission and no one ever found us out.

There are adults that still play that game, only the stakes are much higher. Yesterday was 'World Press Freedom Day' and journalists around the world marked the day with protests in many countries against government censorship and jailing of reporters.

The act of harming people to prevent discovery, or because the truth they carry is unwelcome, is ages old. The saying, "Don't shoot (kill) the messenger" dates back to Sophocles in 442 B.C. Years later it was penned by Shakespeare in 'Henry IV, Part II' (1598) and in 'Antony and Cleopatra' (1606-07).

I don't know if I would have the courage to persevere against the same consequences that many journalists have faced. I for one am thankful to those strong enough to set the truth free.

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Wagon Train to the Moon

We can't stop exploring the unknown. At least this time we're planning ahead. In centuries past the task of exploring and colonizing meant packing as much as you could carry and then, on faith alone, set out for places never seen with only a hope that anyone would survive. Abraham setting out from Haran; Columbus for the edge of the world; wagon trains into the west. How soon before there are people off-earth who've never set foot on this planet?


What is the Change that's Happening Here?

This report from the Department of Justice shows that prison populations are rising. In terms of change what does this mean? I've also noticed that prison population numbers correlate to the rise in unemployment, rise in general population numbers, and the cost of living. So, is prison population climbing because American society is degenerating, or because there are more people to commit crimes? I'm voting for the latter.

The Blog Link that Changed the World

Tongue in cheek, humor intact, I officially dub this "The Blog Link that Changed the World."


The Warm Glow of Faith

It just makes too much sense that faith and spirituality contribute to health and endurance. It's not so much about any religion as much as it's about faith. Those without it hope for nothing better, those with it know there is something better.


Yet Another Chilling Myth

From the dawn of time man has made magic and myth of anything that does not have a simple explanation. And, it would seem that no matter how much we come to know about the world around us, the allure of myth, evil spells, curses, and spirits cannot be overcome.

In this particular case it appears that the Iceman has it in for anyone that disturbed his icy slumber. If the curse is true, than shouldn't he be laid inside a lead vault or something to stop his superpowers? And given the reach of his curse, what possesses so many people to rush to his side to look upon his body. Are they not then also exposed to his curse.

I think another explanation of these myths might make more sense. My explanation is that archeologists, as a group, are inherently sickly and accident prone.


Classroom Changes via USDA

Walk into just about any elementary school classroom in America and certain "things" are always there. Across the top of at least one wall is the alphabet. One wall is always given over to a collection of the latest papers and projects turned in by the students, somewhere a globe of the earth rests, and somewhere on a wall is the USDA nutritional pyramid chart. The charts is usually brightly colored with clipart drawings of the various food types.

Tomorrow morning the USDA will unveil their new "symbol and food guidance system" in response to criticism that the old daily nutrition guidelines have been a contributor to obesity in children.

Next week classrooms will start sporting this new chart. Changes that matter are often subtle, but definitely universal.


This is My Land

For untold years dating beyond human memory the Indians of the Amazon rainforest have carved out an existence.... Separated by the wilderness that is their home from any and all other human beings.

Then one day a 'government' declares their borders... And the people of the rainforest suddenly become a part of something they would have never wanted. How many times in history has this happened. One day you belong to no one, and the next you find out your world is not your own and your way of life is no longer "legal".

There is, of course, something to be said for the peace and order a government can bring to a society. And yet, so much has been lost in this world throughout history because governments often do not tolerate the bounderies of the people they say they serve. I am glad that the Indians of the Amazon have won this victory to maintain the culture and heritage of a land they can rightfully call their own.


Greed in Space

According to this article, Europeon scientists are on a quest to lay claim to property on Mars.

Mars is a big place... and at some point mankind will live there. My bet is that a society on Mars will eventually chuck all off-planet authority to be in charge of their own destiny (sounds like a sci-fi tea party doesn't it?).

It is so hard-wired into mankind to be 'in control' that when the time comes, it will be a difficult, and maybe, a bloody revolution will occur... followed by generations of Martian citizens gathering on Mars Freedom Day for parades and barbecues.

More on the Ugly Theme

This article supports a sad truth of what we've always known; Looks count. The further back in history we look the more severe are the examples of appearance discrimination. There was a time when looking different might mean death. And not for color of skin, but for color of eyes, hair, facial features, body characteristics that did not match what was considered acceptable.

Over time fortunately this part of our society has, for the most part changed. Yet the instinct appears to live on. I am glad I believe all of my children and grandchildren are the most beautiful human beings on earth.


When Did Ugly Become the Argument Against Change

I love trees. I'm not sure but tree-loving might be a requirement in order to live in California. This article though at mezzoblue.com gave me pause. The author used Google's new satellite maps to show a wood/tree harvesting region in British Columbia in support of his argument against clearcutting. From me, two thoughts:

One, by studying the photos I observe that the cut regions account for less than one quarter of the total acreage shown, but thanks to the illusion of white-space, first impressions of the photos leave the viewer thinking that the cut regions overwhelm the uncut.

Two, to make significant reductions in tree harvesting is to virtually discontinue the use of wood. OK. That was easy. So, which natural resource would you like to replace it with? On an earlier day in this blog I observed that it seems impossible that we haven't run out of so many resources already. It is wonderful that wood is a renewable resource, and clearcutting is the best way to expedite the growth of new trees. Too bad the same cannot be said of oil or minerals.

Obviously mankind is having an impact on earth and watching the earth change is not always fun or desirable. Change is almost never easy. Yet, the earth must evolve with mankind as we do need its resources to survive. Mankind will not stop consuming them, and we will not go back to living in huts eating nuts and berries.

So from a satellite the pattern of clearcutting does not make for pretty pictures. I hope the argument against clearcutting does not become an argument for cosmetic appeal.


A BIG Change -- I've Given Up Nicotine

As a recent convert to the world of non-smokers I've spent a lot of time investigating what works and what does not... This article over at MedicineNet.com is fairly typical of the many ways people are dreaming up new 'tricks' to overcome a bad habit.

The answer for me came in the book on the left. Allen Carr's 'The Easy Way to Stop Smoking'. And just like he promised; It was easy. No tricks, gimmicks, weird thinking or funny devices. One day I'm a smoker, the next I am not.

Of course it's true that one thing will not work for all people... so this book is not a miracle. Just mine. If you smoke, click the link, buy the book, get ready to change! Or at least, that is my hope for you in your effort. I am totally with you, man!


Change Happens by Granting Access

Today's posts both span a great distance to illustrate change in our time. In 1519 Martin Luther printed several sections of the Bible, and against the wishes of the Church, made the Bible available to anyone that wanted to read it. Knowledge and access for all. No more middleman to beseech. In that time it was pretty powerful, mankind changing stuff.

Now, in 2005, we are getting close to redistributing knowledge and access on an equal scale, maybe bigger. The means? Computers, communications, and access to a heretofore financially guarded world.

Say hello to MIT colleagues Seymour Papert and Mitch Resnick and their idea to put computers in the hands of 1.8 billion children. Besides the pure chaos of online growth of that magnitude, the idea could be the largest social equalizer since Martin Luther opened the Bible to public consumption. There are a lot of things that influence the course of mankind. I would argue that knowledge will always remain the largest catalyst of change.

The Church of England Keeping the Party Line

In 1526 King Henry VIII petitioned the Vatican to divorce his current wife in order to marry Ann Boleyn, a servant in his household. When the Vatican would not sway King Henry created the Church of England naming himself as its head and moral beacon.

Now Britain's Prince Charles, after carrying on an affair for more than 30 years, including the years of his marriage to Princess Diana, has married the woman of his affair. All in all, Prince Charles is (currently) single, and should be quite able to marry whomever he pleases (with their permission of course). But the evidence is clear, the man who will be King, and wife who will be Queen, have proven they do not have their own internal moral compass. In all cases when the good of others or self are in the balance, they have chosen for self. Such will be their legacy to England.

Too bad for England and the monarchy. And the best irony; Once Charles becomes King of England he also inherits the title as leader of the Church of England.


Top 10 Greatest Catalysts for Change

This article over at New Scientist is interesting. They call it, "Life's top 10 greatest inventions," but I don't see it that way. Just about everything on the list was not 'invented', but instead, are naturally occuring processes that mankind has stumbled across and made useful in some way. Of course, if you are a Christian, then each of these are inventions. His.


Should Death Row Have a Public Voice?

Vernon Evans, Jr. killed two people, was sentenced to death in the State of Maryland and now lives on death row. Now Vernon has is being given a voice on the internet. Some people are pretty happy about it. I think their excitement is related to disagreement with death as a penalty for crime and the opportunity to humanize the inmates facing that fate.

It feels wrong to popularize the thoughts of individuals that have committed crimes horrible enough to incur the maximum legal wrath of a jury. Whether a criminals sentence is measured in years or in the ending of their life, the fact remains that the convicted individual was twisted enough in some way to have committed the crime.

What would we want to talk to this person about? What quirks of logic and desperate thinking would we be listening to as the convict reaches out for empathy.

A good rule in life is to hate the sin (the crime), and love the person. I can do that, but my empathy for a human does not heal them or make what they have done OK. I can safely assume the highest majority of criminals serving life sentences, or death sentences, are not people I want to hear from nor do I want people around me to be influenced by their thinking.

It was an abandonment of moral sense that precipitated Vernon's crime, and now others will abandon theirs simply to manipulate a cause.


Chemistry Cannot Fix Everything

This article at Science Blog reports on a study that just makes good sense. For years researchers of psychiatric chemistry have been looking for the pill that makes everything OK for people in mental distress. Somehow, such a pill would have to change the history of the person taking it. It would have to erase their memories of trauma, terror, abuse, and reorder the neurons in their head to prevent relapse. Sounds like an illegal drug that would spawn a new 12-Step group to me...

What makes sense in the study is the finding that people need empathy, direction, and time in order to heal from trauma and depression. Taking a pill cannot possibly teach anyone how to manage their life or emotions. Chemicals may numb the symptoms, but they leave a person unfinished and incomplete.


Religion by the People

In the aftermath of the death of Pope JPII the media is jumping on the opportunity to prognosticate what changes are needed or will happen in religion, 'according to the people.' Examples are here and here. Questions around marriage, sex, preaching, lifestyles, etc., which of course, people answer with views leaning toward more leniency and broader acceptance of all things.

Just a thought on my part; I can't find the verses in the Bible where God surveyed us before deciding His vision for mankind. I wonder if CNN or USA Today thought to include God's views in their survey.



I watched 'Platoon' this afternoon. I am changed by all that that time in history was. I am thankful to be living and learning still.


When Day Turns to Night

Darkness in the middle of the day. It has only been understood by mankind for a few hundred years. Before that myths, legends, and rituals was the defense of choice against what appeared to be the impending end of the world. I'm certain nothing could look better than 'saving the world' on the resume of a shaman or wizard. Even though we know what it is now, when it happens, it's still sort of creepy and unreal. On April 8th it will happen again for people in southern parts of the USA, all of Mexico and much of South America, but we'll only see a partial eclipse. To see a total eclipse you'll need to be on a ship in the middle of the South Pacific. For those of you still certain greater evil is afoot; here is your fair warning. You have six more days to gather your supplies, practice your chants, and dust off the funiture in your favorite bomb shelter.


Accept Me or I Will Hate You

This opinion expressed over at BuzzMachine is confusing. The author is upset because several religious leaders got together to actively stand up for their faith. The author (with an opposing set of beliefs), wants these leaders to feel shame. It's not like this is a new principle the leaders came up with on a whim. Their position has been in black and white for centuries. Apparently, according to the author, only one side is allowed to actively promote their beliefs, and the other is to be ridiculed for their opposition.

The acknowledgment of free speech has been a wonderful change in modern society. Being free to speak though does not mean that others must listen. Nor does free speech give anyone the right to scream in the face of those opposed to your opinions... which is what the author is arguing for. He demands the religious leaders should be understanding of his views, but chooses not to recognize theirs.


When We Run Out of Stuff

I have driven down so many streets lined for miles with all of these little tiny businesses stacked one on top of another and wondered to myself how all of these folks manage to stay in business. WHERE are all of their customers coming from? How can all of these businesses have enough people walking through their doors that they can hang on day after day, year after year. It is beyond comprehension.

And so to I think the same thing about all of the resources that mother earth has to provide. This story makes me think -- what will happen when....

Right now 6 BILLION people are on this planet consuming the stuff of earth. I walk into a grocery store and the shelves are still filled, the gas stations still have gas, and when I flush the toilet there is water running. A huge change is coming. I hope I am old enough that I don't live in the next world after everything runs out. Posted by Hello


Can Media Manipulate Change?

The Schiavo predicament is heartbreaking to say the least. It is a decision that has troubled most of mankind since the beginning of human history. How many countless times has a loved one hung in the balance at the hand another when choices need to be made. In recent years this choice has been made by an ever increasing number of people... now that the ability to 'pull the plug' has arrived.

This one time though, the media, like little school kids running back and forth across the playground playing two sides against each other, are giddy with their own excitement as they rush to print the latest arguments to incite a new round of activity.

There is nothing new in this case except for the inner circle of Terri's family who are willing to allow this very private matter to become the gossip fodder of the world at-large. Shame on them. Shame on the media. Shame on mankind.


Schiavo: A Remarkably Fresh Thought

I am happy to link to a writer that steps outside of his own opinion to ponder, within the parameters of his faith, the struggle of the victim trapped in limbo. We cannot speak for God nor can we judge what His exact choices will be in all things. But we can know that all of our ranting, yelling, accusing, arguing, pleading and crying is not a consideration in His conversation with Terri.


Stress + Exertion = Heart Attack (DUH!)

Several years ago I had a heart attack. It came early in the morning, which my doctor explained was the most common time of day for heart attacks. It seems that the most stressful moment in every day for our hearts is when we wake up (full rest to fully awake). When I read this report my first thought was, "DUH!" No kidding. Was there a doctor out there that didn't get the memo? I'm pretty sure the medical community already had that figured our years and years ago. Research is a wonderful thing when what is being researched is something we have yet to learn. Maybe this report was done by the Remedial Research Group at the University College London


Researchers 1 - Children 0

Research out of the University of Texas states that the social and intellectual development of children 0-3 years is not effected if their mothers spend less time with them (working moms). OK... they can say that, but that doesn't make it sound right. Yes, I'm a guy, so what could I know about such things. Maybe nothing at all. But I did pause when noticing the research was done by working mothers.

Two things. First, it has been demonstrated that research finds what the researchers are looking for. Using logic and cold hard fact gathering often produces exactly what we'd like it to prove. Instinct however tends to only prefer one answer.

And second: Now that the research is published it is this sort of finding that will have a huge ripple effect over time on the choices that families make. I would imagine a counter study will be launched and the issue will take on new legs around marriage,same sex marriages, single parenting, etc.

For now I am sticking with instinct, and I suspect, so will the mothers of a lot of happy babies.


Change as Seen Through Humor

I think cartoonists can sometimes be the most insightful about what is changing in the world we live in. This blog says alot.


Is Technology the Answer for Social Networking?

The good folks over at Wired took a look at the current state of social networking. You can read their story here. In the last several months I have 'invitations' from people that signed up for the service, started adding their contact list, which in turn generated an email to me inviting me to update my bio and contact information.

What has happened over time is that I am getting requests from people I don't know, that through someone linked to someone else have found my name and wish to add me to their contacts list.

The idea of using technology to broaden my social/business networks seems attractive. Any change that increases the opportunity to communicate needs to be explored. In this case though I don't think I'm quite ready to jump on board. It feels too 'virtual', like chat rooms and instant messaging where there are no sensory experiences that build trust.

If the social networking folks, like LinkedIn, could hook up with the folks over at Skype, and maybe throw in a bit of webcam.... Hmmm.

Some Folk's Must Meddle

This article in the NY Times is a good example how some folk's believe it's OK to meddle in the choices of others. Or, maybe it's a story created by a paper that can't stand happy beginnings, middles, or ends.


We the Entitled

I read through a lot of information every day; News from mainstream, opinion columns, press releases, industry news, and blogs (with opinions on all of it). And while reading what the blogs are reporting on I have felt an less than positive undercurrent I couldn't quite put my finger on... until now. The undercurrent I have been feeling is the aura of entitlement in the words and opinion of too many bloggers.

Case in point; Mark Jen gets fired at Google, and in his own words, understands the position and actions of Google even if he does not agree. But, in posts like here, and here, other bloggers have come down on Google as if Google was behind everything evil in the world and scream about how unfair everything is.

Another case in point; A person wanders into an art gallery and is told that pictures of the (for sale) art work are not allowed (story here). I imagine in the original context of what was happening was that the writer found a humorous photo and wanted to share it with friends, and wanted to be in the picture with the art. But after the oh-my-goodness rude treatment by the store manager, SUDDENLY, we have a cause!

NOW the story is about bad marketing and lost opportunity and others have jumped to the 'cause'. Never mind that in writing her rant she did not link to the artist or offer up any support to overcome the shortcomings she was so concerned about, nor was she in the gallery on the artists behalf in the first place.

It's this aura of entitlement that bloggers have started to wear. It sometimes feels like we are being dismissed as silly if we don't see things their way. Their opinions are stated as facts, and anyone else with facts that disagree are told they are offering biased opinion. It's high school, the in-crown and clubs all over again. People are told they are stupid, talked down too. Too many of the bloggers arguments and rants have a whole lot of 'what's wrong with you is...' and not enough, 'here is my take on this topic'. It's blaming and shaming on a grand scale.

The blogsphere is still relatively small. The number of people that even know what a blog is remains a small percentage compared to other, more pervasive technologies or means of communication.

I’d like to believe that the blogging community comes to know that being read by a lot of people does not make a person right. It just means they are (for the moment) popular. We are not entitled; people don’t have to listen or agree.

Having said all of that I’m certain my little corner of readers will review my prior posts to make sure I’m not violating my own opinion.


Cancer Has a New Enemy

Stopping cancer in its tracks would create a lot of change. Maybe researchers are finally catching up to it.


How to Co-op a Crisis to Instigate Change

This article over at Science Blog reports that a water crisis awaits Nepal, India and China in 20 years when the Himalayan glaciers have receded beyond a certain level. And the reason the crisis exists is of course, global warming.

Last year a study was released demonstrating that the recent increases in glacial retreat has a starting point far earlier than the capability for mankind to have caused it. In fact the glaciers have been receding for thousands of years. But in the ever present need of mankind to point fingers at something or someone they can control, the dear folks at WWF, the global conservation organization have found all sorts of means to keep firing shots to keep their agenda alive.

Everything they report sounds so credible that it's silly for us to question their findings. Of course the Himalayan glaciers are receding, and yes, it does mean that solutions to that water crisis need to be found. But rather than focus on the problem they hijacked it to prove their own point.

It is so terribly true that mankind has made a mess of the atmosphere and it must be addressed quickly. What never flies with me though is using someone else's pain for gain or attention.