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Sunday, February 25, 2007

Hazelnuts and Global Warming

From my cousin John:

Hi Tom--My hazelnut mentor turned me on to his NYTimesdebate to win the Gore-Branson 25$ million prize to save the planet. I got published on blog #98 but myfullscale plan is about #102. Click on the URLhalfway down this forward to see it real time. Nobodyelse has been posted in 24 hours!..John


Wednesday, February 21, 2007

O'Reilly on Oprah: disturbing

On Oprah today they were talking about pedophilia. While it’s a very important topic to cover, I found it disturbing that they’re bringing in conservative Bill O’Reilly as their guest expert. Maybe they’re trying to pander to conservative viewers. What’s most troubling to me is when the Oprah audience applauds anything O’Reilly says. And this is not about O’Reilly’s salacious writings, either. While those may be something to poke fun at, my real problem with O’Reilly is his radical conservative politics, including his opposition to peace, prosperity, nature, and civil liberties.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Restoring Habeas Corpus?

Here’s a story I want to follow. Maybe the Democrats will follow through on this one after all…

From: The Nation
Blink Tanks Fight to Restore Habeas Corpus
By Ari Melber

…there is one progressive group with the political influence, financial clout and policy expertise to put constitutional rights on the Congressional agenda: the emerging network of liberal bloggers, netroots activists and blink tanks--blogs that function as online think tanks--that have been doggedly fighting the Bush Administration's six-year assault on the Constitution…

…[Chris] Dodd, one of the most liberal foreign policy voices in the Senate, has introduced the "Effective Terrorists Prosecution Act" to repeal key provisions of the MCA, including narrowing the Administration's vague definition of enemy combatants, banning trial evidence extracted through torture or coercion, revoking Bush's authority to "interpret" the Geneva Conventions to allow practices amounting to torture and restoring habeas corpus. (Leaders of the Senate Judiciary Committee from both parties have introduced a similar stand-alone bill that would restore habeas corpus.) Dodd's father served as a prosecutor at Nuremberg, and the Senator has long argued that human rights and fair trials are fundamental to the United States' moral authority. His spokeswoman says the bill is one of his "top priorities" this year, and his staff is doing outreach to Connecticut and national blogs to build support for the effort.

Another senior Democratic staffer on Capitol Hill told The Nation that members of Congress increasingly look to blogs to see which issues are important to their constituents. While lamenting that some Democratic incumbents have tried to avoid human rights issues for fear of a political backlash, he said "a sustained push by blogs and Internet activists groups like MoveOn" will prevent Democrats from "running away from these issues."…

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Megachurch survey observations

Today I attended Wooddale Church in Eden Prairie, to conclude my survey of conservative and mega churches. Pastor Leith Anderson gave the sermon. He is also the president of the U.S. National Association of Evangelicals. In November he replaced Ted Haggard, former spiritual advisor to President Bush.

Today’s sermon was about politics, but it was handled in a nonpartisan way. First they showed portraits of political and religious leaders throughout world history, both good and bad, both conservative and liberal. Later they showed a video of a minister confronted by Nazis as he preached to his congregation. Anderson talked about political repression under King Herod. He concluded by encouraging the congregation to pay attention to politics but to emphasize prayer.

Here’s how I would compare the churches, but bear in mind most of them I only attended once:

Crystal Evangelical Free Church – Great music, a major emphasis on raising money the week I was there.

Fourth Baptist – Mostly theologically conservative, but its members are also very politically conservative.

Hope Community Church – Charismatic, encouraging individual expression, conservatism not overt.

Living Word Christian Center – Lavish, diverse, openly politically conservative, calling for Iran overthrow.

Wooddale Church – Politics covered but in a nonpartisan way. Indirect connections to President Bush.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Minnesota Open

I always look forward to mid-February, because that’s when the Minnesota Open is. This year it’s February 16-18 at the Radisson Hotel Conference Center, 3131 Campus Drive, in Plymouth. It’s right nearby where I work, so I’ve been hyping all my coworkers to stop by for 10 minutes and watch me play, although nobody is allowed to talk during the games.

I’ll be playing in the Reserve section, the third out of the five sections. Before each round, they post the pairings, which are sorted alphabetically by last name and show the table number. After each round, they post the standings, which are cumulative. Players get one point for a win, and half a point for a draw. I haven’t been playing seriously in recent years. I am not expected to win any games.

If you walk up to a board, you may not be able to tell who is winning. But there are a few clues you can look for. One is how many pieces have been captured, but some pieces are worth more than others: Pawn=1, Knight=3, Bishop=3, Rook=5, Queen=9. Another thing you can look at is the clocks. Players in our section each have 2 hours to complete all their moves. When you hit your button, your clock stops and the other player’s clock starts. If you run out of time, you lose, no matter how well you’re doing on the board. Another clue as to who is winning is the Kings. If they are out in the open or under attack, they could be trapped and the game is over. Another thing is if a pawn makes it to the other side of the board, it can become a Queen. Of course, spectators can’t talk about the games in the main tournament room, but they can leave the room, discuss a game, and then go back in.

I’m so stoked!