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March 19, 2009

Not in my womb

Eggs This is where the Brave New World has brought us: You can abort a child who's not even your own.

(Image courtesy of Slate)

March 18, 2009

Daily roundup

March 17, 2009

Daily roundup

’Unwind’ and the imagination

Unwind As I was looking at one of my favorite book blogs recently, my eye was caught by this review of Unwind by Neal Shusterman.

Generations from now, after the Heartland War, life is protected from the moment of conception until age thirteen.  Between the ages of thirteen and eighteen, the parents or guardians of the now-teenaged child have the option to "unwind" -- to retroactively abort -- him or her.  If the parents choose to do so, the teen is sent to a harvesting facility where their body is taken apart and reused. . . .

Unwind was outstanding.  Really freaking outstanding.

I was impressed by, well, everything.  It deals with abortion without ever ever ever feeling preachy -- I didn't once feel that Neal Shusterman revealed his opinion on the issue.  It was action-packed and exciting (I read the last few chapters with my heart in my throat) yet that there was so much to think about -- the characters have conversations about the soul, whether it exists and where it is, and about when life begins.  There are things that can be interpreted in different ways -- some people will attribute those events to science whereas some may attribute the same events to something less tangible. 

The three major characters have distinct personalities, and the character development (especially of the two boys) is very well done and the secondary characters never blend together or into the background.  The unwinding scene is as stomach-turning as anything I've ever read by Stephen King, but without being graphic or gory.  While exploring different visions of our future world, I look for a couple of things beyond the future-stuff:  to see enough of the familiar to make it still seem like our world and to see how our language and stories have evolved.  In Unwind, I found both.

Continue reading "’Unwind’ and the imagination" »

March 16, 2009

Distraction Games with Human Life

(Ed. note: Please join us in welcoming Billy to The Point! His bio will be up on the Contributors page shortly. --GRD)

A few more thoughts on President Obama's Executive Order lifting the ban on embryonic stem cell research:

Beyond the fact that this is morally wrong, it is a strange time to bring about such a bill. Congress is supposedly hard at work saving the economy from ruin. Then why is it also pushing to create controversial legislation opening up research opportunities that will take years to produce any sort of advancement? Obama himself claims that the promised cures will come about from “painstaking and costly research.” This is nothing more than a political ploy by liberal leaders to push their ideology on our country while we are all clinging to hope that the economy will turn around. 

President Obama also said, “Some of our best scientists leave for other countries that will sponsor their work. And those countries may surge ahead of ours in the advances that transform our lives." He seems to be placing ethics and morality aside so we can claim scientific advances that trump human rights. 

Continue reading "Distraction Games with Human Life" »

March 10, 2009

Daily roundup

Dogma must direct science

Stem-cell-9 As we discussed yesterday, in the name of removing ideological pressure from science and technology policy decisions, the President has lifted the ban on federal funding of research on stem cells derived from human embryos. But Obama's ambitions are futile. By ignoring the concerns of those who oppose this line of research, Obama is just showing he abides by a different set of moral principles -- pragmatism and progress -- not that he has freed science from all principles. 

The goals of science and the methods used to achieve those goals will always be driven and directed by values. A utilitarian view of human life will naturally lead to one set of practices while belief in the sanctity of life will result in another. And, if we claim to despise such atrocities as the Nazis' scientific experimentation on people they considered sub-human, we had best pay careful attention to which dogma we cherish.

(Image © University of Wisconsin)

March 09, 2009

Daily roundup

How Violent Video Games Prepare Our Children for Armageddon

My college-age son sent me this funny Onion "news" report, possibly because I'm frequently on his case about playing violent video games. Something to make you laugh on a Monday....

(Note: Page contains some profanity and sexually themed content.)

March 04, 2009

Daily roundup

Surely left and right can agree on THIS item....

Baby_girls_face-spl-1 I can't help but hope that this BBC news item will make both left and right readers of The Point recoil in horror. Let's hope so. Of course, we could hear the old strains of logic from freedom lovers on the right who say the law should leave people alone, or an extension of the lefty reasoning that what a woman does with her own body is entirely her own business.

I'm still banking that all but the tattered fringe on either side will go for recoiling. After all, this is technology that Hitler and Himmler might have found appealing. What do you think?

(WORLD has more here.)

(Image courtesy of the BBC)

March 03, 2009

Daily roundup

February 26, 2009

White knot blacklist?

Add this to what Chuck was saying the other day about harassment via Google Maps, and it begins to look like we may be heading that way.

And now for these messages...

Masso Despite high telephone costs and frustrating visitation rules, people are finding creative ways to express their love to family members in prison. Radio call-in shows like Boston's Con Salsa! and California's Art Laboe Connection regularly broadcast messages to inmates from their spouses, parents, and children. 

Delivering these words of love and encouragement to the men and women listening behind bars strengthens family bonds and helps offenders persevere through the challenges of prison life.

(Image © Josh Reynolds for the AP)

February 25, 2009

Daily roundup

How to help kids ’get it’

Kids.jpg A new BreakPoint column about young people and worldview, by John Stonestreet, executive director of Summit Ministries, contains some helpful insights that relate to the conversation Anne started yesterday.

I often hear students describe their experience of Christianity in these terms: “I’ve been a Christian my whole life, but I don’t really get it”; or, “I prayed the prayer when I was four, but I don’t think it stuck”; or, “I committed my life to Christ when I was 15, but I am not sure it stuck.” . . .

Often, our approaches to youth ministry sanctify adolescence. Whereas teenagers have the capacity—and thus, I would argue, the calling—to think deeply and broadly about their culture, confront evil and injustice, and champion the truth, they instead are encouraged in their adolescent narcissism. We present a neutered Gospel, only about them and their needs, lacking vision (Proverbs 29:18).

Read more here about why Christian kids aren't "getting it," and how we can help make sure they do.

February 24, 2009

Daily roundup

February 20, 2009

Hey, Allen . . .

Did you say something about "winning"?

Thanks to good ole Facebook . . .

Online networking

  • Your immune system could deteriorate
  • Your hormone levels could get screwed up
  • Bad things could happen to your arteries
  • You could get cancer, have a stroke, or develop heart disease or dementia 
  • Your brain could turn into mush

Well, maybe all of this is a tad fatalistic, but there might be something to it.

(Image © SPL)

February 19, 2009

RE: Two things about Twitter

Well, you got me there, Gina. I'm on Twitter. Guilty as charged.

But I don't think that compares AT ALL to your My God Blog Con Blog at God Blog Con blog.

I mean, really, Gina ... when will it stop??!!

Two things about Twitter

(1) Comic strips notwithstanding, I did not push Jason into the Great BreakPoint Twitter Experiment. It was all his own idea, and, I think, a good one. Thank you, Jason!

(2) It turns out that someone else around here has a Twitter account . . . someone who is NOT me (cough*Thornburgh*cough). Yeah, let's hear some more about the blighted lives of Internet addicts, shall we?

BreakPoint in the Twittersphere

Twitter

They may have a reputation as technological fuddy-duddies -- and for good reason -- but the GOP has surpassed Democrats on Twitter, at least in Congress. Now it's BreakPoint's turn. You can follow us on Twitter at http://twitter.com/BreakPointPFM.

(Image © Twitter)

Read a book, save a brain

It looks as though the much-hyped switch to digital television is going to be about as much of an event as Y2K. It's too bad really. Think what would happen if televisions in millions of American homes suddenly went dark. Maybe families would dig out that game of Monopoly or Parcheesi. Maybe neighbors would wave to one another from their front porches. Maybe we'd call it National Read a Book Day.

Apparently that last option is becoming less and less likely. I was sad to learn that the Washington Post has discontinued its Sunday Book World section. The Post will still run book reviews and articles, but not in a separate section. It seems likely that this will mean fewer articles about books and that those articles will get less readership. According to the NPR piece, only two newspapers in America will now have a separate section devoted to books.

It kind of makes you wonder if the Hulu commercial is humor or simply truth in advertising:

Bloggers Anonymous

Fess up, Allen -- you're moonlighting as a comic strip artist named Wiley, aren't you?

February 09, 2009

Daily roundup

February 05, 2009

The Making of an Intellectual Zombie

Blackberry-8820-smartphone-att (Disclaimer: As I type this, I might be violating the very sentiment of this post. But I guess irony always gets the last laugh.)

Here’s a dare. Close this page, click off your Internet browser, and shut down your computer. Turn off your cell phone. Turn off your iPod. And hide your Blackberry. Then pick up a book. Read for an hour. When you’re done, pull out a lined sheet of paper and fill it up with hand-written words (it could be a letter, a journal entry, or a recipe). Then, go for a walk outside (and don’t worry about how many calories you’re burning).

Ten years ago, I could have done this without thinking twice. In fact, most days, I probably did. These days, in the amount of time that would have lapsed for those three activities, I would have had to resist the urge to check my email (three times), send a text message (twice), click through my iPod playlist (ten times). (Even as I finished that last sentence, I was tempted to click away from this page and check my email. Painfully, I resisted.)

Starting in college, my technology intake began to accelerate. Freshman year, I stayed up late at night chatting with friends on instant messenger. Sophomore year, I created my first distribution list. Junior year, I began bringing my laptop to class. Senior year, I got a cell phone and a Facebook account. Post-college brought text-messaging, graduation from a Discman to an iPod, blogging, and at least eight hours a day staring at a computer screen.

So, am I a more educated, well-adapted individual as a result? Actually, I might be dumber.

Continue reading "The Making of an Intellectual Zombie" »

January 30, 2009

Daily roundup

January 27, 2009

Daily roundup

When the economy gets tough, sell your eggs....and sperm

Oh, the irony: As other Pointers have noted, Nancy Pelosi, the rocket scientist in the House, says spending taxpayer dollars on birth control will help jump start the economy, because all those rug rats cost money. (Maybe we should simply forbid couples from having children for, say, five years, or at least until the economy gets better?) Meanwhile, a Massachusetts news outlet informs us that the bad economy is driving more people to donate their sperm or eggs--which will, of course, lead to more babies.

I wonder if Miss Nancy will go after these folks next....or the people who purchase their products.

January 26, 2009

Wired for Sentiment

I’m busting a gut over Clive Thompson’s Wired column-o'-gripe.  In the piece, ostensibly about the quite likely reality that our Web-empowered culture is gaining in information but declining in knowledge, Thompson complains that there are too many rubes who ask the following ignorant questions about “incontrovertibly” “settled facts”:

Is global warming caused by humans? Is Barack Obama a Christian? Is evolution a well-supported theory?

Thompson rails that too many Republicans doubt anthropogenic global warming, too many Texans believe that Obama is Muslim, and too many Americans do not subscribe to evolution.

Thompson blames this horror on a “disinformation revolution” that “attempts to foster ignorance," of which the result is that “reality dies screaming."

But if there exists a more ironic (put together, “more” and “ironic” form … well, you can figure it out) published complaint, it’s a glorious, secret deprivation and I demand to be informed immediately.  Thompson’s piece is unintended hilarity of the most delicious sort.

Continue reading "Wired for Sentiment" »

January 22, 2009

Daily roundup

Fight FOCA

Charmaine Yoest of Americans United for Life just announced that the organization's Fight FOCA petition reached half a million signatures yesterday. If you haven't added your name yet, there's no time like the present. . . .

(And yes, I sent Charmaine a Facebook message while we were both here in the audience. Quit snickering, Allen.)

January 15, 2009

Daily roundup

January 12, 2009

Some people need to get lives

I'm sorry, but there's just no other way to describe this.

January 06, 2009

Conservatism strikes back

Hollywoodsignaddress There's a lot of reading material here, but bear with me: It's good stuff.

Mark Steyn writes in The Corner:

Andrew Breitbart gets to what's really at stake:

If conservatives don't figure out popular culture soon, the movement will die a deserving death.

I think that's right. If the non-political sphere is permanently left-of-center — the movies, the pop songs, the plays, the sitcoms, the newspapers plus the churches, schools and much else — it's simply unreasonable to expect people to walk into a polling booth every other November and vote conservative. The culture is where the issues get framed and the boundaries set.

He's promoting Breitbart's new website, Big Hollywood (occasional profanity), which Breibart himself describes as "a big group blog that will feature hundreds of the big minds from the fields of politics, journalism, entertainment and culture. . . a continuous politics and culture posting board for those who think something has gone drastically wrong and that Hollywood should return to its patriotic roots." The site is edited by John Nolte, formerly of Dirty Harry's Place, and, as advertised, features a number of conservative voices from Hollywood and elsewhere.

If you're thinking that the conservative/liberal divide has no place in the arts or the popular culture, well, as Jay Nordlinger writes here, quoting a reader e-mail, it's already there. And at this point it's not much of a divide anymore.

A couple weekends back, I was listening to Garrison Keillor’s A Prairie Home Companion. And Renée Fleming [the great soprano] sang “In the Bleak Midwinter.” But the lyrics to this beloved and touching carol were changed, in order to celebrate Barack Obama. The original carol is about Christ. But, in this version, Obama was the central figure. What is happening to us?

Looks like Steyn, Breitbart, et al. are onto something.

Continue reading "Conservatism strikes back" »

December 23, 2008

Daily roundup

It’s a Buyer’s Market

Egg It's a sad "sign of the tough economic times" when, according to a Wall Street Journal article, women are lining up to sell their precious eggs, receiving $3,000 to $8,000 per donation. 

Besides the health complications which can arise from of having this type of procedure, there is another issue to consider. In trying to attain a "child of their own," at the very least--genetically speaking--the purchasers are ensuring that the child will belong only to one person. 

Gilbert Meilander says, "The deliberate and willed asymmetry of relation--so unlike the mutual asymmetry that exists in adoption--is precisely the problem." In other words, making a baby becomes a one-sided business.

(Image courtesy of the Wall Street Journal)

December 16, 2008

From the weird file

Garminnuvi660 This gives a whole new meaning to "seek and ye shall find." Think of all the time the Wise Men could have saved.

December 12, 2008

The Point Wordle

Thepointwordle That Wordle site is awfully addictive. The Point's Wordle is here. I take encouragement from the fact that the largest word for our little blog is "think." That seems proper to me.

December 11, 2008

Daily roundup

December 10, 2008

A One-World Government?

Global_govt According to this article by Gideon Rachman, we're moving ever closer to a one-world government. Do you think you'll see it happen in your lifetime? If so, do you view such a change positively or negatively? Why?

(Image © James Ferguson for the Financial Times)

Could bloggers have changed the world?

Hitler460 Adolf Hitler has been getting his fair share of attention around here lately. But here's a question none of us thought to ask before: If blogs had existed in Hitler's time, could they have stopped him?

(Image © British Pathe PLC/PA)

December 08, 2008

Daily roundup

December 03, 2008

Daily roundup

December 02, 2008

Daily roundup

November 25, 2008

Death imitates art

Eleven months ago, I wrote that a movie about people who watch someone die via webcam "gets human nature . . . exactly, unerringly right."

I wish I'd been wrong about that.

November 17, 2008

Daily roundup

November 14, 2008

Blogger roundup

Here's some excellent new reading material from two of our bloggers:

November 11, 2008

Daily roundup

October 30, 2008

Daily roundup