Posted by Kendall Harmon

Regulations for controversial techniques to create three and four-parent babies have been published.

MPs and Peers will vote early in the new year on allowing the two procedures, Maternal Spindle Transfer (MST) and Pro-Nuclear Transfer (PNT).

MST involves replacing the nucleus in a healthy donor egg with the nuclear DNA from the prospective mother – resulting in a child with DNA from three parents....

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal IssuesLife EthicsMarriage & FamilyScience & Technology* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted December 21, 2014 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

What a strange week it’s been in Hollywood. Tuesday night we actually had a thunderstorm. For those who don’t know Southern California, that’s like saying House Republicans think our country might have a race problem. Or Woody Allen is considering property in Malibu. Or the new Missal really seems to be catching on. (“Under our roof,” translators? “Under our roof”?)

There was even lightning, for God’s sake.

Then yesterday, hack-beleaguered Sony Pictures actually stopped distribution of major motion picture “The Interview,” maybe forever, after the United States’ five major theater chains refused to show it for fear of a 9/11-style attack on any theater that did.

To say the Internet was not happy with this series of events would be an understatement. Hollywood writer/director/producer Judd Apatow called the chains’ decision “disgraceful” and wondered, along with many others, what’s next: “Will they pull any movie that gets an anonymous threat now?” Many called it a sad day for creative expression, and feared that this forebodes a dangerous new self-censorship. Rob Lowe compared Hollywood to Neville Chamberlain (to which the nation of Czechoslovakia replied, “Mmm, Rob, I think not”). Newt Gingrich went so far as to call the hackers’ threat an “act of war,” forgoing the need for an act of war to involve an actual act. Forget the pesky details, there’s really never a bad time for a little preemption.

Read it all from America.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the InternetLaw & Legal IssuesMovies & TelevisionScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.AsiaNorth Korea* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted December 20, 2014 at 10:29 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon



Watch it all--so lovely (just over 3 minutes).

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & MedicineScience & Technology* General InterestAnimals

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Posted December 19, 2014 at 3:25 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Global life expectancy for men and women has increased by about six years over the past two decades, according to the one of the most comprehensive studies of global health done so far.

The rise in global life expectancy is mainly the result of dramatic advances in health care. In richer countries longer lifespans are spurred by a big drop in deaths related to heart disease, while poorer countries have seen big declines in the death of children from ailments such as pneumonia, diarrhea and malaria.

But there are worrying signs, too. While global deaths from infectious disease dropped by about 25% over the past two decades, the number of deaths linked to noncommunicable diseases has jumped by about 40%. Noncommunicable maladies, such as cancer, heart disease and diabetes, tend to be chronic in nature and often more expensive to treat.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchAging / the ElderlyGlobalizationHealth & MedicineScience & Technology* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted December 18, 2014 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Scientists at the University of British Columbia searching for ways to slow the deterioration of blood vessels may have stumbled on to the key to youthful skin.

While exploring the effects of the protein-degrading enzyme Granzyme B on blood vessels during heart attacks, professor David Granville couldn’t help but notice that mice engineered to lack the enzyme had beautiful skin at the end of the experiment, while normal mice showed signs of age.

“This is one of those moments that we live for in science,” said Granville, a researcher for Providence Health Care.” We were interested in the effects of aging on blood vessels; we had no idea (the absence of this enzyme) would have any effect on their skin.”

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & MedicineScience & Technology* International News & CommentaryCanada* TheologyAnthropology

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Posted December 18, 2014 at 5:29 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Comedian and actor Robin Williams, who died earlier this year, was the top search on Google during 2014.

The search engine has released its list of this year’s most searched for news events and top trending subjects. Williams’ death drew more attention than the World Cup (2nd), Ebola (3rd) or Malaysia Airlines (4th).

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationHealth & MedicineMediaMovies & TelevisionScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeTerrorism* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted December 17, 2014 at 1:09 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In our downtime, all of us at WIRED Science like a good book (and we’re betting a lot of people on your holiday list do too). In 2014 we were impressed by books ranging from Atul Gawande’s expansive essays on the morality of end of life care (Being Mortal), to a coffee table tome of beautifully photographed marine invertebrates (Susan Middleton’s Spineless). We’ve curated a list of our favorites to stuff into some stockings, or into your carry on so you’re not too bored during your inevitably delayed flight to Grandma’s.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchBooksScience & Technology

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Posted December 15, 2014 at 4:48 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Single women, lesbian couples, and straight couples with fertility troubles are increasingly experimenting at home with store-bought goods, in an effort to skirt expensive fertility procedures like Intrauterine Insemination (IUI) and In-Vitro Fertilization (IVF). At-home inseminators enlist friends or acquaintances to donate sperm, or procure free donor samples from dating-style portals like the Known Donor Registry, Pollen Tree, and Pride Angel. Some go a more orthodox route and purchase sperm from FDA-regulated banks, which can cost from about $500 to $1500 per cycle. In addition to saving money, many at-home inseminators say they prefer bedrooms to treatment rooms, because they can personalize the conception experience, imbue it with romance, and reduce stress. Legal experts warn, however, that inseminating at home can compromise a couple’s legal rights.

Embracing the DIY ethos, Mead and Espinosa assembled a kit of store-bought tools over the ten months they tried to conceive.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingChildrenLaw & Legal IssuesLife EthicsPsychologyScience & Technology* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted December 14, 2014 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Students and professors at Clemson University have designed a home where they say a family of four can live comfortably in the South using local materials and having almost no impact on the environment.

The home is called Indigo Pine, taking its name from two things South Carolina has in abundance: pine trees and the blue dye from the indigo plant.

More than 100 students and professors are helping design and build the home that the university will enter as part of the U.S. Department of Energy's Solar Decathlon 2015. Sixteen other schools also are participating.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchEducationScience & TechnologyYoung Adults* Economics, PoliticsEconomyHousing/Real Estate MarketEnergy, Natural Resources* South Carolina* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted December 14, 2014 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Interstellar’s scientific pretensions capture the religious spirit of our times. What should we make of all the talk of the incompatibility of science and religion? Nothing: Longing for future glory is alive and well among the scientifically literate. Some of their own apparently comprise the most fervent devotees of future hope, displaying the same desire for human transcendence as the ancients but clothing it in modern science. Interstellar is worth reflecting on, not for any dubious relation it may bear to our future, but because of its indebtedness to the past: It is an ancient myth retold and centuries of scientific progress have diminished none of its appeal.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryMovies & TelevisionPhilosophyReligion & CultureScience & Technology* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

1 Comments
Posted December 12, 2014 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Church giving is serious business. Scores of newsletters, workshops, and books are devoted to it, and consultants exist to advise institutions on how to maximize funds. A five-year study released last year estimated that "tithers"—Christians who donate 10% or more of their income to church or charity—contribute more than $50 billion a year. (And that’s not counting the many who give a smaller percentage of their income.) There's even crime associated with tithing: In March, Texas megachurch pastor Joel Osteen’s church was robbed of $600,000 in donations from a single weekend.

Somehow, though, the offering process, when ushers pass baskets down the rows and worshippers voluntarily drop in checks or cash, has remained basically unchanged since the 19th century. But who carries cash, let alone checks, anymore?

Luckily for churches, a wave of apps and other digital giving options have risen up to bridge the gap.

Call it the 21st-century offering plate.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryStewardship* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifePersonal Finance* Theology

0 Comments
Posted December 10, 2014 at 3:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Maybe this is true in any battle; it is surely true of a war that is waged with bleach and a prayer.

For decades, Ebola haunted rural African villages like some mythic monster that every few years rose to demand a human sacrifice and then returned to its cave. It reached the West only in nightmare form, a Hollywood horror that makes eyes bleed and organs dissolve and doctors despair because they have no cure.

But 2014 is the year an outbreak turned into an epidemic, powered by the very progress that has paved roads and raised cities and lifted millions out of poverty. This time it reached crowded slums in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone; it traveled to Nigeria and Mali, to Spain, Germany and the U.S. It struck doctors and nurses in unprecedented numbers, wiping out a public-health infrastructure that was weak in the first place. One August day in Liberia, six pregnant women lost their babies when hospitals couldn’t admit them for complications. Anyone willing to treat Ebola victims ran the risk of becoming one.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & MedicineScience & Technology* International News & CommentaryAfrica

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Posted December 10, 2014 at 11:21 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Falling oil prices are putting a cloud over the one thing Mexico’s struggling government had been clinging to in its attempts to invigorate a sluggish economy — its historic energy reform.

The government had been planning to auction 169 oil and gas blocks next year. It was to be one of the most ambitious bid rounds the industry had seen in a country whose sector has been closed to private investment for nearly 80 years, and where production is at its lowest level in two decades.

But the oil price fall has sobered what one executive called the “frothy, crazy bidding environment” Mexico had been expecting, unsettling a government reliant on oil revenue for a third of its budget. Officials are hastily striking off shale and other fields that might now look unappealing to bidders. Long-awaited initial tender terms are likely to be published on Wednesday.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeEnergy, Natural Resources* International News & CommentaryMexico

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Posted December 8, 2014 at 7:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

(Blog readers are asked to remember that this piece is responding to the Atlantic article posted in later September on the blog i recommend reading the article and the comments--KSH).

I have been thinking quite a bit lately about aging.

Three things fuel those ruminations. The first is that I am aging. I have been able to deny it for several decades but my retirement this year coincided with several manifestations of mild and generally innocuous physical decline. The second is my participating with several of my brothers and sisters in being a care-giver for my 89 year old father.

The third was a provocative essay published in the September issue of The Atlantic. The author is a prominent oncologist and medical ethicist named Ezekiel Emanuel. The title of Dr. Emanuel's is largely self-explanatory: "Why I Hope to Die at 75." He has no desire to live past that age, largely because by then his creative contributions to medicine will be over. No longer being socially useful, he would become a burden, a condition he has no desire to bear. He would not directly cause his own death but would indirectly facilitate it by eschewing standard medical treatments such as annual check-ups and colonoscopies.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchAging / the ElderlyHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal IssuesLife EthicsReligion & CultureScience & Technology* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted December 8, 2014 at 7:29 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A deadly fire is all that betrayed a suspected Chinese hacker group in Kenya believed to be trying to infiltrate banks, mobile money transfer networks, and ATMs.

So far, police have arrested and charged 77 Chinese nationals in connection with activities in an upscale Nairobi suburb. During the raids, police found soundproof rooms fashioned like military dorms that were full of computer equipment and outfitted with high-speed Internet connections, which is uncommon in Kenya.

The discovery of what police call a cybercrime command center comes as Kenya is experiencing a wave of computer crime, with criminal hackers carrying out phishing campaigns to extort money from citizens and launching attacks on banks. The arrests are a fortunate break for a police force struggling to contain the problem.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the InternetLaw & Legal IssuesPolice/FireScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAfricaKenyaAsiaChina* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted December 5, 2014 at 5:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

First, the report makes it clear that there is no avoiding the need for the exercise of soft power, and in fact the exercise of hard power (from sanctions to the use of violence) is itself only effective as an addition to the impact of soft power. It is soft power in its many ramifications that makes it possible for this country to exert a benevolent and beneficial influence in the world around.

I saw an example of that when at the degree awards ceremony for Coventry University some two or three weeks ago, one of the best modern universities: 60 per cent of students were from overseas; they are a powerful source of earnings, and they will return home with a brilliant education and an exceptional experience of the UK, in most cases they will be our friends for life.

Secondly, the report points especially to the rapid increase in complexity and what it calls hypersensitivity in the modern world. There has been an introduction of information technology, with more than five billion mobile telephones around the world; we have the growth of access to the world-wide web, which means you can sit in Kaduna and look at what is happening in London, you can look at the shops in New York, you have access to cultural influences of the most extraordinary kind; and the possibilities of this both for governments and for non-state actors are ever more powerful with the advent of the sophistication of modern computers.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby* Culture-WatchBlogging & the InternetGlobalizationReligion & CultureScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted December 5, 2014 at 3:02 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Gundlach's study also offers several startling insights. Besides demonstrating the Princetonians' eagerness to embrace selectively some modified forms of evolution, Gundlach explains the critical impact that the fundamentalist antievolution crusade had upon the Princeton Battle Plan. Likewise, Gundlach describes the Princetonians' remarkably robust commitment to the Reformed doctrine of divine providence. The Reformed tradition's vision of God's sovereignty over creation and the reality and efficiency of creaturely activity, from universal laws like gravity to the minutest choices of individual people, Gundlach explains, was "a distinctive teaching of Calvinist orthodoxy that enabled the Princetonians to embrace evolutionary thinking (carefully construed) not only as compatible with their theology, but even as an expression of it."

Gundlach's work also contains some implications that might give participants in today's debates about theology and evolution reasons to rethink their approaches. By pitting purely naturalistic evolution over against an allegedly literal interpretation of Genesis 1-2, both militant secular atheists and "creation scientists" usually employ reductionistic binary reasoning when it comes to issues of science and theology. Gundlach's study, however, suggests other historic alternatives are available to Christian scholars. He shows that theologians and philosophers at Princeton had a thorough knowledge of contemporary science and that many scientists were well-informed about theology. The same cannot always be said of those who engage in the debate over origins today. Moreover, Gundlach demonstrates that "creation science" is actually a modern movement with shallow roots in Christian orthodoxy. Many conservative Protestants today continue the Princeton tradition's critique of modern evolutionary theories because of the metaphysical assumptions and antisupernatural bias in purely naturalistic explanations of the origins of the universe. Ironically, however, other conservative Protestants, especially some with an affinity for Princeton's Calvinist theological tradition, categorically reject Warfield's efforts to reconcile Christian theism with non-Darwinian evolutionary views. They favor an interpretation of Genesis 1-2 that actually stands closer to Price and his intellectual heirs. The distinguished Old Testament scholar Bruce Waltke, for example, resigned his position at Reformed Theological Seminary in 2010 because of his advocacy of theistic evolution and, more important, his criticisms of "scientific creationists" for denigrating modern science. Gundlach also demonstrates why, since the Scopes trial, such views have not often been welcomed in conservative circles. Even though they affirmed inerrancy and the historicity of Adam, A. A. Hodge, Warfield, and J. Gresham Machen could not teach at some conservative seminaries today because they held that Genesis could be harmonized with a non-Darwinian view of evolution. Perhaps Gundlach's study will help conservative Christians rethink some of the missteps made in the early 20th century.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch History* Culture-WatchBooksReligion & CultureScience & Technology* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesReformed* TheologyApologeticsSeminary / Theological Education

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Posted December 5, 2014 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Writing for Life and Work magazine, he said that churchgoers should embrace digital technology as they set about engaging a new kind of recruit.

He went on: “It might pain me to say it, but it’s time for a radical change and I don’t mean a change of hymns, or a visually aided sermon or a new time of day for traditional forms of worship —– I mean something much more far reaching than that.

“I’m looking for a way of including the many hundreds of people who are fully engaged in the practical and project work that our churches are doing throughout Scotland, but whose belonging to the faith community is not necessarily complemented by regular attendance at Sunday worship.”

Read it all (requires subscription)

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryEvangelism and Church Growth* Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingReligion & CultureScience & TechnologyTeens / YouthYoung Adults* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK--Scotland* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesPresbyterian* Theology

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Posted December 4, 2014 at 3:06 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Imagine that the bowls of heaven, which are filled with the prayers of the saints (us!), are what God pours out in order to reach those of “every tribe and tongue and people and nation.” As we pray to extend His Kingdom, I imagine those bowls filling up. When they overflow, it is not hard to imagine the grace of the Kingdom pouring out of the bowls and into the dreams of those whose hearts are ripe. Of course we still do all we can to carry out mission, but in this season, more fruit with M**lims is coming from supernatural means.

Dumped fuel has a tremendous impact on the atmosphere. It is profound and negative. It should only be done when there is no other way to save lives. Joining in prayer for the extension of the Kingdom and the conversion of hearts and souls to Jesus Christ through all manner of means both natural and supernatural has a tremendous impact on the spiritual atmosphere. It is profound and life giving. It does not cost anything but time, and it pays tremendous dividends.

By the way…you might wonder why I chose to spell M**lim or Isl*m with “*” instead of just spelling it out. It’s because of search engines. Radical M**lims can Google for articles that mention both Christ and Isl*m looking for ways to identify those whom they view are committing apostasy. A simple thing like an * in the spelling is just a safety net for our brothers and sisters in Christ who came from a M**lim background.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal- Anglican: CommentaryAnglican Church in North America (ACNA)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryEvangelism and Church Growth* Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingGlobalizationPsychologyScience & TechnologyViolence* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted December 3, 2014 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Across the country, laborers are hard at work lifting 700-pound shelves full of multivolume encyclopedias, propane grills or garden gnomes and dragging them across vast warehouse floors. Carefully trained not to bump into one another, the squat workers are 320 pounds and a mere 16 inches tall.

No, they’re not Christmas elves—they’re some of the most advanced robots that e-commerce giant Amazon now uses to ship its goods. In an exclusive video for TIME, photographer and videographer Stephen Wilkes captured these Amazon robots in action at the company’s Tracy, Calif., warehouse.

Read it all+watch the video.




Filed under: * Culture-WatchScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate Life

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Posted December 2, 2014 at 5:45 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Artificial intelligence, once confined to the realm of science fiction, is changing our lives. Cars are driving themselves. Drones are being programmed to deliver packages. Computers are learning to diagnose diseases. In a recent book, the economists Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee describe these recent advances as examples of the beginning of what they call “the second machine age.”

The very name – the first machine age was the Industrial Revolution – suggests an epochal shift. And, indeed, if the predictions are to be believed, these technological advances could have profound implications for the way we live.

One common forecast is that as ever-more advanced robots substitute workers, the cost of labor will become less important, and manufacturing will move back to rich countries. Another is that increasingly intelligent machines will reduce the demand for advanced skills, and that the economic advantage of having these skills will decline as a result.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPolitics in General* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted November 26, 2014 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The development and application of such techniques is risky - it is after all humans in their current morally-inept state who must apply them - but we think that our present situation is so desperate that this course of action must be investigated. We have radically transformed our social and natural environments by technology, while our moral dispositions have remained virtually unchanged. We must now consider applying technology to our own nature, supporting our efforts to cope with the external environment that we have created.

Biomedical means of moral enhancement may turn out to be no more effective than traditional means of moral education or social reform, but they should not be rejected out of hand. Advances are already being made in this area. However, it is too early to predict how, or even if, any moral bioenhancement scheme will be achieved. Our ambition is not to launch a definitive and detailed solution to climate change or other mega-problems. Perhaps there is no realistic solution. Our ambition at this point is simply to put moral enhancement in general, and moral bioenhancement in particular, on the table.

Last century we spent vast amounts of resources increasing our ability to cause great harm. It would be sad if, in this century, we reject opportunities to increase our capacity to create benefits, or at least to prevent such harm.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & MedicineHistoryPhilosophyPsychologyScience & Technology* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted November 24, 2014 at 5:05 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Waking up during a surgery would be a nightmare, yet that's a regular problem for patients in low-income countries. Sketchy power grids mean the lights often go out, and with them, the anesthesia machine. In other cases, there are too few oxygen tanks for a surgery, so it's canceled.

Two decades ago, Dr. Paul Fenton faced those hurdles almost daily while working as an anesthesiologist at Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital in Blantyre, Malawi. The hospital had plenty of anesthesia machines, each provided by a well-intentioned western charity, but none were practical for his clinic.

"So I began tinkering with these old machines, and took a few bits and pieces from each," recounts Fenton.

The result was a prototype for the Universal Anesthesia Machine (UAM), which delivers anesthesia without oxygen tanks or the need of stable power grid

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & MedicineScience & Technology* International News & CommentaryAfricaMalawi* TheologyAnthropology

0 Comments
Posted November 24, 2014 at 5:59 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A cyber snooping operation reminiscent of the Stuxnet worm and billed as the world’s most sophisticated computer malware is targeting Russian and Saudi Arabian telecoms companies.

Cyber security company Symantec said the malware, called “Regin”, is probably run by a western intelligence agency and in some respects is more advanced in engineering terms than Stuxnet, which was developed by US and Israel government hackers in 2010 to target the Iranian nuclear programme.

The discovery of the latest hacking software comes as the head of Kaspersky Labs, the Russian company that helped uncover Stuxnet, told the Financial Times that criminals are now also hacking industrial control systems for financial gain.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingGlobalizationScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryEconomyConsumer/consumer spending* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted November 23, 2014 at 5:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The human head weighs about a dozen pounds. But as the neck bends forward and down, the weight on the cervical spine begins to increase. At a 15-degree angle, this weight is about 27 pounds, at 30 degrees it’s 40 pounds, at 45 degrees it’s 49 pounds, and at 60 degrees it’s 60 pounds.

That’s the burden that comes with staring at a smartphone — the way millions do for hours every day, according to research published by Kenneth Hansraj in the National Library of Medicine. The study will appear next month in Surgical Technology International. Over time, researchers say, this poor posture, sometimes called “text neck,” can lead to early wear-and-tear on the spine, degeneration and even surgery.

“It is an epidemic or, at least, it’s very common,” Hansraj, chief of spine surgery at New York Spine Surgery and Rehabilitation Medicine, told The Washington Post. “Just look around you, everyone has their heads down.”

Read it all.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingHealth & MedicineScience & Technology* TheologyAnthropology

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Posted November 21, 2014 at 4:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A new study study reveals that an infant’s brain may remember a language, even if the child has no idea how to speak a word of it.

The finding comes from a new study performed by a team of researchers from McGill University’s Department of Psychology and Montreal’s Neurological Institute who are working to understand how the brain learns language.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenHealth & MedicinePoetry & LiteraturePsychologyScience & Technology* TheologyAnthropology

0 Comments
Posted November 20, 2014 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

CAT WISE: Steve Davis is president and CEO of PATH. He says one of the organization’s most successful products could come in handy in fighting the Ebola outbreak if a vaccine using a live virus, that has to be kept cold, is developed.

It’s a tiny heat-sensing sticker that tells health workers if a vaccine is no longer effective. It’s been used on five billion vaccine vials over the past two decades.

STEVE DAVIS: It turns out, in food, in frozen chicken, they have something on the package to show that if it had been thawed or unthawed. So we took that idea and now, by having a vaccine vial monitor, this little dot, we can actually tell whether that vaccine has got too hot, and therefore we wouldn’t use it if it’s changed colors.

And so that’s — that’s been really critical, saved literally millions of lives.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & MedicineScience & Technology

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Posted November 19, 2014 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The war between the giants of the technology industry for the attention of the world’s office workers look like it is about to take an unexpected turn.

Fundamental changes in the daily lives of millions of so-called “information workers” have already triggered a corresponding upheaval in the technology tools on which they rely. Staples such as email and Microsoft’s Office suite of products still hold sway, but they are increasingly being supplemented by services like group chat, internal social networks and shared online document editing.

Now, Facebook’s ambition to create a version of its social network for the office, first reported in the Financial Times this week, promises a new twist.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor Market* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted November 18, 2014 at 5:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Russia plans to create its own "Wikipedia" to ensure its citizens have access to more "detailed and reliable" information about their country, the presidential library said on Friday.

Citing Western threats, the Kremlin has asserted more control over the Internet this year in what critics call moves to censor the web, and has introduced more pro-Kremlin content similar to closely controlled state media such as television.

Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia assembled and written by Internet users around the world, has pages dedicated to nearly every region or major city within Russia's 11 time zones, but the Kremlin library said this was not good enough.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the InternetMediaScience & Technology* International News & CommentaryEuropeRussia* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted November 16, 2014 at 12:55 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Watch it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & MedicineScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, Military

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Posted November 15, 2014 at 4:58 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

It is illegal to threaten someone online. But in recent weeks there have been a number of high-profile threats against women — among the targets were several feminist video game critics and an actress who starred in a video about street harassment of women.

But many victims of online threats say they are frustrated because the perpetrators are never caught.

Rebecca Watson says she's had many threats against her on Twitter, in email and on her website, Skepchick. The site focuses on feminism and science; she ignores most of the threats — but once in a while they truly scare her.

Someone sent Watson a link to a man's website. "He was making music and the album was a picture of me — my face with a target on it," she says. And even worse, Watson says, "the name of the album was I Have A Tombstone With Rebecca Watson's Name On It. "

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingLaw & Legal IssuesPsychologyScience & TechnologyViolence* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted November 15, 2014 at 9:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon



Filed under: * Culture-WatchEducationScience & Technology* General InterestHumor / Trivia

1 Comments
Posted November 13, 2014 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Terrorists and criminals are exploiting a European court ruling to hide internet records about their pasts, a cabinet minister has warned.

Sajid Javid, the culture secretary, unleashed a fierce rebuke to “unelected judges” in Luxembourg who passed the “right to be forgotten” law. It grants anyone the right to demand the removal of damaging or embarrassing information from search engines, even if it is factually true.

Mr Javid hit out at the ruling as “censorship by the back door”. In a speech to newspaper editors, he said that thousands of requests to remove links to articles were pouring in to companies such as Google from people who “for one reason or another, would prefer their pasts to be kept secret”.

Read it all (requires subscription).


Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifePolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryEngland / UKEurope* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted November 12, 2014 at 6:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In Pasadena, the group visited Fuller Theological Seminary to hear a lecture from psychology professor Warren S. Brown about “Neuroscience and Theology.” The Denver group visited two labs at the Colorado School of Mines and heard a talk titled “Planet Earth Care: Does It Matter?” by Kennell J. Touryan, retired chief technology analyst at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). In Atlanta, participants visited two biology labs at Georgia Tech and a local megachurch, and heard from Ravi Jayakaran about the work of the faith-based global health agency MAP International.

In all three locations, some evangelicals said that they had never been to a working science lab and, in Atlanta, several scientists likewise said that they had never visited a megachurch.

“Visiting the science labs and seeing the intriguing blend of intellectual virtuosity and painstaking drudgery that fills the scientists’ hours helped me to appreciate in a new way the noble calling of modern scientists,” said Galen Carey, vice president of government relations at the National Association of Evangelicals.

“I thought there might be disinterest, especially among scientists, for participating in a workshop of dialogue like this with evangelical leaders,” said Jennifer Wiseman, director of the DoSER program at AAAS. Instead, Wiseman was surprised by the eagerness of influential science leaders, including high-ranking research deans and academic department chairs, to participate.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureScience & Technology* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals

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Posted November 10, 2014 at 5:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Advances in robotics and computing could wipe out as much as a third of all UK jobs over the next 20 years, a new report has claimed.

More than 10 million roles are likely to be replaced by automated systems, with repetitive, lower-paid jobs (those earning less than £30,000 a year) five times more likely to be made obsolete than higher-paid jobs.

Experts said the trends identified in the report were already well under way, with “high risk” jobs identified in “office and administrative support; sales and services; transportation; construction and extraction; and production.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor Market* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK

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Posted November 10, 2014 at 8:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A group of scientists including three Nobel laureates in medicine has proposed that U.S. health officials chart a new path to developing Ebola drugs and vaccines by harnessing antibodies produced by survivors of the deadly outbreak.

The proposal builds on the use of “convalescent serum,” or survivors’ blood, which has been given to at least four U.S. Ebola patients who then recovered from the virus. It is based on an approach called passive immunization, which has been used since the 19th century to treat diseases such as diphtheria but has been largely surpassed by vaccination.

The scientists propose using new genetic and other technologies to find hundreds or thousands of different Ebola antibodies, determine their genetic recipe, grow them in commercial quantities and combine them into a single treatment analogous to the multi-drug cocktails that treat HIV-AIDS.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationHealth & MedicineScience & Technology* TheologyAnthropology

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Posted November 9, 2014 at 5:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Searching for a new way to attack Ebola, companies and academic researchers are now racing to develop faster and easier tests for determining whether someone has the disease.

Such tests might require only a few drops of blood rather than a test tube of it, and provide the answer on the spot, without having to send the sample to a laboratory.

The tests could be essential in West Africa, where it can take days for a sample to travel to one of the relatively few testing laboratories, leaving those suspected of having the disease in dangerous limbo.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchEducationHealth & MedicineScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate Life* International News & CommentaryAfricaGuineaLiberiaSierra Leone* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted November 6, 2014 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

NYU's Pankaj Ghemawat discusses the top 10 countries that are wired and ready to make money. He speaks with Bloomberg's Pimm Fox on "Taking Stock." Watch it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate Life* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted November 6, 2014 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Internet is moving to a shopping center near you.

In Fort Wayne, Ind., a vacated Target store is about to be home to rows of computer servers, network routers and Ethernet cables courtesy of a local data-center operator. In Jackson, Miss., a former McRae’s department store will get the same treatment next year. And one quadrant of the Marley Station Mall south of Baltimore is already occupied by a data-center company that last year offered to buy out the rest of the building.

As America’s retailers struggle to keep up with online shopping, the Internet is starting to settle into some of the very spaces where brick-and-mortar customers used to shop. The shift brings welcome tenants to some abandoned stretches of the suburban landscape, though it doesn’t replace all the jobs and sales-tax revenue that local communities lost when stores left the building.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the InternetScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeHousing/Real Estate Market* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted November 4, 2014 at 7:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Tom Magliozzi, one of public radio's most popular personalities, died on Monday of complications from Alzheimer's disease. He was 77 years old.

Tom and his brother, Ray, became famous as "Click and Clack the Tappet Brothers" on the weekly NPR show Car Talk. They bantered, told jokes, laughed and sometimes even gave pretty good advice to listeners who called in with their car troubles.

If there was one thing that defined Tom Magliozzi, it was his laugh. It was loud, it was constant, it was infectious.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchMediaScience & TechnologyTravel* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

8 Comments
Posted November 3, 2014 at 4:31 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Entire families navigate their smartphones while sharing meals at restaurants. Students text in class. Parents take phone calls at their children’s sporting events and plays.

It’s no surprise that cellphones affect even church.

It has become common for parishes to place blurbs in their bulletins about silencing cellphones and for lectors to make announcements about it before liturgies, reminding parishioners they’re in a place of worship.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingChildrenMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureScience & TechnologyTeens / Youth* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

7 Comments
Posted November 3, 2014 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The first time Nathan Whitmore zapped his brain, he had a college friend standing by, ready to pull the cord in case he had a seizure. That didn’t happen. Instead, Whitmore started experimenting with the surges of electricity, and he liked the effects. Since that first cautious attempt, he’s become a frequent user of, and advocate for, homemade brain stimulators.

Depending on where he puts the electrodes, Whitmore says, he has expanded his memory, improved his math skills and solved previously intractable problems. The 22-year-old, a researcher in a National Institute on Aging neuroscience lab in Baltimore, writes computer programs in his spare time. When he attaches an electrode to a spot on his forehead, his brain goes into a “flow state,” he says, where tricky coding solutions appear effortlessly. “It’s like the computer is programming itself.”

Whitmore no longer asks a friend to keep him company while he plugs in, but he is far from alone. The movement to use electricity to change the brain, while still relatively fringe, appears to be growing, as evidenced by a steady increase in active participants in an online brain-hacking message board that Whitmore moderates.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & MedicinePsychologyScience & Technology* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted November 2, 2014 at 4:59 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

For average Sierra Leoneans, the timing of the Ebola crisis could not be worse. It is the rainy season and, thanks to government-sanctioned quarantines, crop harvests are at a low. The price of food has skyrocketed and forced people to go into the bush for food and firewood. Quarantined areas such as Waterloo, about 20 miles east of Freetown, have seen severe food shortages, and the United Nations Food Program has had to step in to provide rice to thousands of residents there, many of whom were queuing up shoulder-to-shoulder in public areas — precisely the kind of gathering a quarantine is meant to prevent. Add to this the further dependence on the world community for survival and the demoralization of the people takes deeper root.

Economic forces are also jeopardizing national stability. Growth rates — in some sectors topping 15 percent in investments in the last few years — have been obliterated. London Mining, one of the key contracts secured by the Sierra Leonean government during this period, has announced it will be going into bankruptcy. The extractives industry is not what it used to be and stock for the London-based company tumbled dramatically in the last year as the price of iron ore declined. As a result, the company is reneging on a covenant with the people of Sierra Leone for thousands of jobs at its mine in Marampa and a needed injection of tax revenue.

When young people are unemployed and desperate, mischief occurs. In the southeastern city of Bo, for instance, crime — too often violent crime — has been rising. With police now occupied in responding to calls from infected households or keeping the curious away from dead bodies, they cannot monitor the city as before.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & MedicinePovertyScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAfricaLiberia

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Posted October 31, 2014 at 4:05 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

As you can see from this archived version, ...[RNS] gave a bungled translation that had the pope denying God is a "divine being":
Francis said the beginning of the world was not “a work of chaos” but created from a principle of love. He said sometimes competing beliefs in creation and evolution could co-exist.

"“God is not a divine being or a magician, but the Creator who brought everything to life,” the pope said. “Evolution in nature is not inconsistent with the notion of creation, because evolution requires the creation of beings that evolve.”
Got that? Pope Francis, according to RNS, said, "God is not a divine being..."

The context makes it obvious that the pope is not intending by any stretch of the imagination to deny God is a "divine being." He is, rather, denying that God is a demiurge, i.e. lower-case "builder-god" who merely fashions creatures out of primordial stuff and then leaves them to their own devices. For RNS to not only put the words "God is not a divine being" in the pope's mouth but also refuse to correct its mistranslation would therefore be simply irresponsible.

But that is exactly what RNS did – for forty-eight hours, even as Mohler and others questioned its translation.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryMediaReligion & CultureScience & Technology* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman CatholicPope Francis * Theology

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Posted October 31, 2014 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

3. Technology Enables Discipleship

Our church has an app where people can actually access the sermon outline, and people use their phones or iPads to follow along and take notes. Technology enables members and attendees to enhance their discipleship experience at church.

During certain series, we have encouraged our people to tweet questions in the middle of services, and we try to answer them.

All of these are tools to enhance discipleship. Technology, though, is not the goal. The goal is to enable the church’s mission to make disciples of all people groups.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingMediaReligion & CultureScience & Technology

0 Comments
Posted October 29, 2014 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Smart, connected products offer exponentially expanding opportunities for new functionality, far greater reliability, much higher product utilization, and capabilities that cut across and transcend traditional product boundaries. The changing nature of products is also disrupting value chains, forcing companies to rethink and retool nearly everything they do internally.

These new types of products alter industry structure and the nature of competition, exposing companies to new competitive opportunities and threats. They are reshaping industry boundaries and creating entirely new industries. In many companies, smart, connected products will force the fundamental question, “What business am I in?”

Smart, connected products raise a new set of strategic choices related to how value is created and captured, how the prodigious amount of new (and sensitive) data they generate is utilized and managed, how relationships with traditional business partners such as channels are redefined, and what role companies should play as industry boundaries are expanded.

The phrase “internet of things” has arisen to reflect the growing number of smart, connected products and highlight the new opportunities they can represent. Yet this phrase is not very helpful in understanding the phenomenon or its implications. The internet, whether involving people or things, is simply a mechanism for transmitting information. What makes smart, connected products fundamentally different is not the internet, but the changing nature of the “things.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor Market* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted October 26, 2014 at 6:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

With Ebola rising as a concern for Americans due to a case of the disease in New York City, World Bank President Jim Yong Kim said Friday that the challenge posed by the virus can be met through vigorous effort.

President Kim, himself a medical doctor, called the response by New York officials “impressive” and praised the Ebola patient there as a physician who was willing to go to West Africa to help others with the disease.

“Dr. [Craig] Spencer is a hero,” Kim told reporters at a breakfast for reporters sponsored by The Christian Science Monitor. Far from putting America at risk, “he is doing exactly what’s needed” to protect Americans and others worldwide.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & MedicineScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAfricaAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted October 25, 2014 at 9:38 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Google just announced a new app called “Inbox” that has the potential to transform the way we email. But it also looks like it’s going to seriously annoy advertisers as a result.

One of the key features of the Google Now-like app is “Bundles.” Basically, Inbox automatically bundles together certain kinds of messages like bank statements and purchase receipts so it’s easy to scan through them quickly.

Another feature likely to catch the eye of advertisers is “Highlights” which helps you find key information like flight itineraries and event info, but it also pulls in information from the web that wasn’t in the original email like the real-time status of your flight.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the InternetMediaScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate Life* TheologyAnthropology

0 Comments
Posted October 23, 2014 at 7:48 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Serum made from the blood of recovered Ebola patients could be available within weeks in Liberia, one of the countries worst hit by the virus, says the World Health Organization.

Speaking in Geneva, Dr Marie Paule Kieny said work was also advancing quickly to get drugs and a vaccine ready for January 2015.

The Ebola outbreak has already killed more than 4,500 people.

Most of the deaths have been in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchDrugs/Drug AddictionHealth & MedicineScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate Life* International News & CommentaryAfricaGuineaLiberiaSierra Leone

0 Comments
Posted October 22, 2014 at 4:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In addition to many drug candidates, there are vaccines in development. In early September, the National Institutes of Health began testing a vaccine, made by a division of GlaxoSmithKline and based on an adenovirus, on twenty volunteers. Another vaccine, called VSV-EBOV, developed by the Public Health Agency of Canada and licensed to NewLink Genetics, started human trials last week. It seems possible that some time next year a vaccine may be available for use on people who have already been exposed to Ebola, though it will still not be cleared for general use. If a vaccine is safe and shows effectiveness against Ebola, and if it can be transported in the tropical climate without breaking down, then vaccinations against Ebola could someday begin.

If a vaccine works, then the vaccinators might conceivably set up what’s known as ring vaccinations around Ebola hot spots. In this technique, medical workers simply vaccinate everybody in a ring, miles deep, around a focus of a virus. It works like a fire break; it keeps the fire from spreading. Ring vaccination was the key to wiping out the smallpox virus, which was declared eradicated in 1979, but whether the ring technique—provided there was a good vaccine—would work against Ebola nobody can say. In any case, epidemiologists would not give up trying to trace cases in order to break the chains of infection.

In the U.S. and Europe, hospitals have made fatal mistakes in protocol as they engage with Ebola for the first time—errors that no well-trained health worker in Africa would likely make. But they will learn. By now, the warriors against Ebola understand that they face a long struggle against a formidable enemy. Many of their weapons will fail, but some will begin to work. The human species carries certain advantages in this fight and has things going for it that Ebola does not. These include self-awareness, the ability to work in teams, and the willingness to sacrifice, traits that have served us well during our expansion into our environment. If Ebola can change, we can change, too, and maybe faster than Ebola.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchEducationGlobalizationHealth & MedicineScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAfricaAmerica/U.S.A.

0 Comments
Posted October 21, 2014 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In an age of smartphones, instant messaging and 24/7 availability, it’s increasingly hard to find time to step away and reconnect with one’s self, especially in fast-paced tech hubs like Silicon Valley.

But before you lock your smartphone in a closet for an hour a day, check out some of the apps and websites available for learning and practicing the ancient art of meditation and the more contemporary mindfulness-based stress reduction.

You don’t need a new gadget to meditate — all the equipment necessary comes installed in the product.

But some meditation and mindfulness trainers are using technology in interesting ways. They range from simple meditation timers to complete courses.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the InternetReligion & CultureScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate Life* Religion News & CommentaryOther Faiths* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted October 19, 2014 at 12:48 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Ready? Here’s what was fake on the Internet this week:

1. The only people who contracted Ebola in America, as of this writing, are two nurses who treated a Liberian man in Dallas. That is it, full stop, there is no one else. We could devote an entire Friday debunking — nay, an entire series of Friday debunkings — to nothing but the false Ebola rumors flitting around locations as far-flung as Anchorage. Instead, let’s make this brief: Nobody in the United States currently has Ebola, except (a) Nina Pham, who is currently being treated in isolation at the National Institutes of Health and (b) Amber Vinson, who was recently transferred to Atlanta’s Emory University Hospital,,,.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingHealth & MedicineMediaScience & Technology

4 Comments
Posted October 18, 2014 at 11:04 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

By the nineteenth century...natural philosophy had become more natural and less philosophy. Theology and natural science were substantially separated. Apologetic natural theology — arguing that God can be deduced from nature — was now mostly for the theologians. The language of physics had become measurement and mathematics, and the objective of science had become a description of the world of nature in its own terms, rather than through the purposes of a Creator. As a result, it is tempting to read the science of that era as if it were completely independent of the religious commitments of its practitioners. But it wasn’t.

Because Victorian scientists are of interest to us mostly owing to their scientific contributions, their religious beliefs tend to be treated as incidental conformities to the conventions of the day — as if these figures were proto-rationalists and proto-materialists who, without the benefit of our full present enlightenment, had not completely shaken off the superstitions of an earlier age. This caricature is demeaning and mistaken, as can be illustrated by the lives and ideas of two men who were arguably the greatest physical scientists of their time, and among the greatest of all time: Michael Faraday (1791–1867) and James Clerk Maxwell (1831–1879).

The two men had very different backgrounds. Faraday was English; Maxwell Scottish. Faraday was the son of a blacksmith of limited means; Maxwell’s father had inherited a substantial estate and hardly needed to practice the law in which he had been trained. Faraday had only a basic, grade-school education; Maxwell had the finest education available. Faraday was one of the most popular scientific lecturers of his day; Maxwell gained a poor reputation in the classroom. Faraday knew practically no formal mathematics; Maxwell was one of the finest mathematicians of his time. Faraday’s research became dominant for experimentation in electricity and magnetism; Maxwell’s for electromagnetic theory. One experience they had in common: both were committed Christians. Yet even here fascinating contrasts existed between the religious traditions to which they belonged and the ways their spiritual commitments influenced and strengthened their science.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & CultureScience & Technology

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Posted October 17, 2014 at 5:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

For several millennia, people have worried about whether or not they have free will. What exactly worries them? No single answer suffices. For centuries the driving issue was about God’s supposed omniscience. If God knew what we were going to do before we did it, in what sense were we free to do otherwise? Weren’t we just acting out our parts in a Divine Script? Were any of our so-called decisions real decisions? Even before belief in an omniscient God began to wane, science took over the threatening role. Democritus, the ancient Greek philosopher and proto-scientist, postulated that the world, including us, was made of tiny entities—atoms—and imagined that unless atoms sometimes, unpredictably and for no reason, interrupted their trajectories with a random swerve, we would be trapped in causal chains that reached back for eternity, robbing us of our power to initiate actions on our own.

Lucretius adopted this idea, and expressed it with such dazzling power in his Stoic masterpiece, De Rerum Natura, that ever since the rediscovery of that poem in the 15th century, it has structured the thinking of philosophers and scientists alike. This breathtaking anticipation of quantum mechanics and its sub-atomic particles jumping—independently of all prior causation—from one state to another, has been seen by many to clarify the problem and enunciate its solution in one fell swoop: to have free will is to be the beneficiary of “quantum indeterminism” somewhere deep in our brains. But others have seen that an agent with what amounts to an utterly unpredictable roulette wheel in the driver’s seat hardly qualifies as an agent who is responsible for the actions chosen. Does free will require indeterminism or not? Many philosophers are sure they know the answer (I among them), but it must be acknowledged that nothing approaching consensus has yet been reached.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryPhilosophyPsychologyScience & Technology* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted October 17, 2014 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Even if one ignores some very important issues – such as just what DNA patterns can predict about the likelihood of developing any of the diseases for which risk factor screening is done (basically, little if anything); how using the 23andMe tests to determine health risks is currently prohibited by the FDA in the U.S.; and the potential for obtaining disrupting, disturbing, or even destructive information about family connections (which is a far from trivial possibility) – serious additional concerns arise in this country. These stem from the ongoing absence of genetic privacy and genetic discrimination laws in Canada, a contrast with the U.S. where there are (some) longstanding protections against misuses of DNA data.

This suggests that when someone in Canada gets a report of its findings from 23andMe, there is no way to keep insurance companies or employers from asking about it. Maybe not directly, but during an interview, applicants might be asked if they have ever had any genetic testing and, if so, what was found. Not to reveal that testing was done could be seen as providing a false answer and thereby disqualify the individual from coverage or a job. Maybe this is not as bad as learning a father is not really the man you thought he was, or as pleasing as finding you have a sister who was adopted into another family living nearby, but definitely a more negative outcome than is desirable.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate Life* International News & CommentaryCanada* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted October 16, 2014 at 5:25 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

This latest story from our brave new world may blow your mind, so I’ll read straight from the Chicago Tribune: “A white Ohio woman is suing a Downers Grove-based sperm bank, alleging that the company mistakenly gave her vials from an African-American donor, a fact that she said has made it difficult for her and her same-sex partner to raise their now 2-year-old daughter in an all-white community.”

Now, I don’t doubt the lesbian couple’s love for the child. But I find it troubling which challenges the couple was willing and isn’t willing to tolerate. They’re suing because of the difficulties of raising a black child in a white community, but they were perfectly willing to risk raising the child without a father—a situation that the best evidence suggests poses far greater consequences for the child. Make no mistake: this is one of those stories that’s a mirror of our culture’s view of sex and children.

There is no doubt that having a mom and a dad in the home is the best situation for healthy development of children. The evidence is overwhelming.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal IssuesLife EthicsMarriage & FamilyScience & Technology* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted October 14, 2014 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Las Vegas is such an impossible, unlikely place, a neon metropolis in the middle of the desert. Equally marvelous and unlikely is the technology that allows me to safely retrieve and freeze my eggs for future use, without a single incision. Because egg freezing only recently lost its “experimental” status and the success rates are not as well known as with embryo freezing, I decided to keep my options open and freeze both eggs and embryos. It feels a little bit like I’m living in a science fiction novel.

Now, a few months post-retrieval, I wonder when and how I will decide to use the eggs I’ve just nourished, protected, collected, and frozen. It’s possible I’ll meet someone and have children the traditional way. It’s possible I’ll marry in time for one child, but need to return to my frozen eggs for a second one. It’s possible I’ll decide to be a single mother, the way my mother was for many years. It’s possible I’ll adopt or decide not to have children at all, and be equally happy. But if I do have a daughter or son some day from the eggs I retrieved, I look forward to telling my child about the unexpected summer night in Vegas when it all started.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenHealth & MedicinePsychologyScience & TechnologyWomen* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther Faiths* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted October 10, 2014 at 10:01 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Around 30 cities and counties internationally have made similar commitments, including Seattle, Dunedin, and Oxford. The announcement also comes hot on the heels of similar divestment commitments made by Local Government Super and the Anglican Diocese of Perth.

The decision affects millions of dollars in council investments - a May report showed the council had cash and investments of 36 million dollars. Moreland's principal bank is the Commonwealth Bank, which like each of the 'Big 4' is a major lender to fossil fuel projects around the country, including controversial coal projects on the east coast.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesAnglican Church of Australia* Culture-WatchScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingStock Market* International News & CommentaryAustralia / NZ* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted October 9, 2014 at 6:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

...as I sat through presentations that explored the height and breadth and width and age of the cosmos, explanations of the expansiveness of time and space--all knowable only because of modern technology and learning--I was struck by a number of ancient truths.

First, as Richard Mouw (former President of Fuller Seminary) reminded us, God is slow. The universe is 13.4 billion years old (I think I’m remembering that correctly!). It took billions of years for life on earth to exist, much less for humans to populate it. That’s how much time God has. That’s how long God is willing to work in order to create and ultimately recreate this world. As we read in 2 Peter: "But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. 9 The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance."

Second, God is faithful.

Read it all.



Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureScience & Technology* Theology

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Posted October 9, 2014 at 4:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

When I ask him how God fits into his understanding of the universe, Prof Cox says: “It doesn’t at all. I honestly don’t think about religion until someone asks me about it.” And that’s because, he explains, science is not about asking grand questions but very simple ones. The way to find out answers to big questions is “almost accidentally”.

Using physics that is beyond me, Prof Cox explains how his fridge shows that there is no afterlife (thermodynamics, apparently). But then he qualifies himself. “Philosophers would rightly point out that physicists making bland and sweeping statements is naive. There is naivety in just saying there’s no God; it’s b------s,” he says. “People have thought about this. People like Leibniz and Kant. They’re not idiots. So you’ve got to at least address that.”

He suspects that another civilisation exists in the observable universe, given that it contains 350 billion galaxies. But they would be so far away that we’d never make contact. “

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchMovies & TelevisionReligion & CultureScience & Technology* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyApologetics

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Posted October 8, 2014 at 11:11 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A standout member among the new-editions to this very elite club is 30-year old college dropout Elizabeth Holmes. Holmes reportedly “labored in secret” for almost a decade while developing a revolutionary new blood-testing technology. In 2003 she took her findings to the public and founded Theranos-- the company announced partnerships with Walgreens and other major drugstores to bring a new type of blood testing to consumers. Holmes’ technology calls only for a single finger-prick and a very small amount of blood for medical testing—as opposed to the full vial (or vials) of blood typically drawn for testing in most labs and medical offices. The prick is said to be painless and Theranos’ testing-methods only a fraction of the cost of commercial labs.

The biotech founder is the youngest self-made woman on the Forbes 400 list with a net worth of $4.5 billion. Holmes dropped out of Stanford University her sophomore year as a chemical engineering major and used her tuition money to found her company. Holmes’ tests do not have to be performed in a doctor’s office, and by skipping the big labs most results can be ready in a few hours. “She could totally overturn an entire industry if Theranos is as successful as it seems to be,” says Brown.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationHealth & MedicineScience & TechnologyWomenYoung Adults* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate Life

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Posted October 7, 2014 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Apples, mushrooms and pork sounds a promising recipe for a kebab, but the average barbecuer might balk at adding strawberries. According to John Gordon of IBM, however, the result is delicious. Dr Gordon is one of the leaders of that firm’s cognitive-computing team, responsible for a machine called Watson which is able to digest and analyse large amounts of English text and then draw inferences from it. When, in March, Watson was fed reams of recipes and texts about food, it reasoned that these four ingredients would complement each other, based on their sharing a number of flavoursome chemical compounds. And Dr Gordon, at least, thinks Watson’s suggestion is a winner.

Devising new recipes sounds a trivial use for a multimillion-dollar piece of kit. But Dr Gordon’s culinary experiment neatly demonstrates the idea of automated hypothesis generation—and the possible uses of that are certainly not trivial. More than 90 groups of scientists are now developing hypothesis-generation software. They hope to use it not on recipe books but on the vast corpus of scientific literature (by one tally at least 50m scientific papers) that has piled up in public databases.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchScience & Technology

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Posted October 4, 2014 at 7:07 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

No one reasonably disputes that attendance in Christian churches is in sharp decline. The real lingering question is "why?" which is one of the most important questions I take on in my new book, postChristian: What's left? Can we fix it? Do we care?

Though it's not solely responsible, the Internet -- along with the way it changes the way we interrelate, communicate, seek and consume information -- is certainly doing its part to contribute to the decline. And it's not just Church that is feeling the pinch; any hierarchic system in which the institution traditionally has played the role of guard, gatekeeper or mediator is finding their authority challenged.

As for why now, the answer is more complex than any single factor. On the one hand, changing domestic, social and economic systems have caused us to spread out and move around far more than before. The churches, as a result, are no longer social hubs of neighborhoods any more. And along with being social hubs, churches also served as economic engines, as businesspeople networked after worship or over a potluck meal. Now we just use LinkedIn.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingReligion & CultureScience & Technology* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

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Posted October 3, 2014 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Often we want our churches to grow, but we're not sure what sort of tools to use. We don't have any sort of action plan to get the word out about our congregations. Of course, word of mouth is still the best way to get people to church, but there are things we can do to make that message sharable. Here are a few steps we can take.

Clarify our message—Think about who your church is and what they aspire to be. Can you think of a story in your history that reflects who you are? Can you think of a metaphor or some sort of physical object to reflect that message? Can you boil the message down to three to five words?

Google Maps—Find your church on Google maps and fill out the details. Make sure the contact information is good. Put your website there.

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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryEvangelism and Church GrowthPastoral Care* Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingMediaReligion & CultureScience & Technology* TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted September 30, 2014 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Twice in the last few months I’ve encountered writers taking note of this shift, and both have made a similar (and provocative) point: The decline of cults, while good news for anxious parents of potential devotees, might actually be a worrying sign for Western culture, an indicator not only of religious stagnation but of declining creativity writ large.

The first writer is Philip Jenkins, a prolific religious historian, who argues that the decline in “the number and scale of controversial fringe sects” is both “genuine and epochal,” and something that should worry more mainstream religious believers rather than comfort them. A wild fringe, he suggests, is often a sign of a healthy, vital center, and a religious culture that lacks for charismatic weirdos may lack “a solid core of spiritual activism and inquiry” as well.

The second writer is Peter Thiel, the PayPal co-founder, venture capitalist and controversialist, who includes an interesting aside about the decline of cults in his new book, “Zero to One” — officially a book of advice to would-be entrepreneurs, but really a treatise on escaping what he regards as the developed world’s 40-year economic, technological and cultural malaise.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryPhilosophyPsychologyReligion & CultureScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate Life* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted September 30, 2014 at 4:39 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Even with their technological head start, the U.S. and its allies are coming late to this battle for hearts and minds. Social media’s volume, velocity and verisimilitude have left the U.S. struggling to counter it and mine the communication for reliable information.

By the end of this year, the Geneva-based International Telecommunications Union projects that 55 percent of the world’s 2.3 billion mobile broadband subscriptions will be in developing countries, where unemployed youth can use them to access messages from Islamic State and other extremists.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingGlobalizationMediaScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* General InterestPhotos/Photography* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted September 27, 2014 at 11:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In the eight years since, Facebook’s News Feed — that LED-lit window through which we glimpse news, memes and snatches of other people’s lives — has not exactly gotten less controversial. But the nature of that controversy has fundamentally changed. Where early college users raged against sharing, and seeing, too much information — of being subsumed, in effect, by the social media noise — our anxieties today frequently involve getting too little of it. Facebook’s latest changes to the News Feed, announced just last week, are essentially tooled to give users more content, more quickly.

Both concerns relate to control. Whether we see too much content or too little, everything we see in Facebook’s News Feed is determined by an algorithm — an invented mathematical formula that guesses what you want to see based on who posted it, where it came from, and a string of other mysterious factors known only to the programmers and project managers who work on it.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingGlobalizationMediaPsychologyScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate Life* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted September 24, 2014 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In a grim assessment of the Ebola epidemic, researchers say the deadly virus threatens to become endemic to West Africa instead of eventually disappearing from humans.

"The current epidemiologic outlook is bleak," wrote a panel of more than 60 World Health Organization experts in a study published Tuesday by the New England Journal of Medicine.

"We must therefore face the possibility that Ebola virus disease will become endemic among the human population of West Africa, a prospect that has never previously been contemplated."

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationHealth & MedicineScience & Technology* International News & CommentaryAfrica* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted September 23, 2014 at 6:14 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The United States and several Middle East partners pounded Islamic State targets in Syria Tuesday with waves of warplanes and Tomahawk cruise missiles in an aggressive and risky operation marking a new phase in the conflict.

A statement issued by the U.S. Central Command early Tuesday said that a “mix of fighter, bomber, remotely-piloted aircraft and Tomahawk” cruise missiles destroyed or damaged multiple Islamic State targets in several parts of Syria, where a civil war has been raging for more than three years.

The U.S. statement said “partner nations,” including Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, “participated in or supported” the operation. The involvement of these regional allies are key for the legitimacy and logistics of the operation.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationReligion & CultureScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.Middle EastIranIraqSyria* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted September 23, 2014 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

“My sense of the big picture is that we’re moving toward laws like the one in Illinois, which accepts that the demand for surrogacy isn’t going away but recognizes the hazards and adds regulations and protections,” said Joanna L. Grossman, a family law professor at the Hofstra University law school.

The Illinois law requires medical and psychological screenings for all parties before a contract is signed and stipulates that surrogates be at least 21, have given birth at least once before and be represented by an independent lawyer, paid for by the intended parents.

The law allows only gestational surrogacy, in which an embryo is placed in the surrogate’s uterus, not the traditional kind, in which the surrogate provides the egg. In addition, it requires that the embryo created in a petri dish must have either an egg or a sperm from one of the intended parents.

“That eliminates some of the concerns about designer babies,” Professor Grossman said.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralState Government* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted September 21, 2014 at 12:02 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I’m at the Cambridge University college that Charles Darwin attended before heading off on a ship to change the world’s views about the origin of the species, particularly the evolution of humans.

Darwin’s theories have been used and abused for many things in the past century or two — to promote racism and defeat racism, promote competition and encourage cooperation, to treat humans as objects and see them as special, to believe humans are machines and to say they have free choice, to attack religion and advance religion (particularly through a movement sometimes known as ‘theistic evolution”).

A conference at Christ’s College in Cambridge, organized by The Faraday Institute for Science and Religion and sponsored by the Templeton Foundation, is actually titled “The uses and abuses of biology.”

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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch History* Culture-WatchHistoryScience & Technology* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* Theology

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Posted September 21, 2014 at 11:32 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

For many farmers in the UK it was this year's weather that helped give them their best harvest in living memory.

But in the future it will be technology that helps them get the most from every acre.

With the global population predicted to be nine billion by 2050, experts believe we will need to produce 70% more food.

Edd Banks is one of the growing number of farmers in the UK now practising precision farming.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyLabor/Labor Unions/Labor Market* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted September 19, 2014 at 4:19 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The United States has made the same mistake in evaluating fighters from the Islamic State that it did in Vietnam — underestimating the enemy’s will, according to James Clapper, the director of national intelligence.

Clapper’s comments came in a telephone interview Wednesday, in which he summarized the elements of a new National Intelligence Strategy released this week. Clapper also answered some broader questions about intelligence issues confronting the country.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureScience & TechnologyViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryEconomyThe U.S. GovernmentForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaMiddle East* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted September 19, 2014 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The story of how the Central Intelligence Agency came to operate a secretive program of rendition, detention, and interrogation under President George W. Bush has been made public by a number of investigations into the abuses that resulted. In 2007, the Red Cross detailed the methods used to interrogate suspects at CIA-run “black sites.” In 2010, the Justice Department’s Office of Professional Responsibility strongly criticized the Bush administration lawyers who wrote the legal memos permitting the CIA to use torture. And last year, the Constitution Project Task Force on Detainee Treatment—a nonpartisan group that included a number of former military and intelligence personnel—analyzed what is known about mistreatment of detainees and the policy decisions that led to such ugly consequences.

Now a new report is expected from the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, which is charged with overseeing the activities of the CIA.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingGlobalizationLaw & Legal IssuesScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryEconomyThe U.S. GovernmentForeign RelationsPolitics in General* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted September 15, 2014 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

When astronauts describe the feeling of sailing around space, looking at our planet from hundreds of miles above, they often invoke the phrase “orbital perspective,” a shorthand for the emotional, psychological, and intellectual effects of seeing “the Earth hanging in the blackness of space.” This experience is characterized by not merely awe, but, as astronaut Ron Garan puts it, “a sobering contradiction. On the one hand, I saw this incredibly beautiful, fragile oasis—the Earth. On the other, I was faced with the unfortunate realities of life on our planet for many of its inhabitants.”

This tension was particularly poignant on 9/11, when the effects of violence on Earth were actually visible from space, as captured in the photograph above. At the time, three people were not on Earth: Russian cosmonauts Mikhail Tyurin and Vladimir Dezhurov, and American Frank Culbertson, making Culbertson the only American not on Earth during the 9/11 attacks.

Over the course of that night and into the following few days, Culbertson wrote a letter to those at home, and his words echo that orbital perspective Garan describes. “It’s horrible to see smoke pouring from wounds in your own country from such a fantastic vantage point,” he wrote. “The dichotomy of being on a spacecraft dedicated to improving life on the earth and watching life being destroyed by such willful, terrible acts is jolting to the psyche.”

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

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Posted September 11, 2014 at 11:54 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Google’s search engine makes it wonderfully easy to locate stuff on the web, whether it’s in a news article, a corporate website, or a video on YouTube. But that only begins to describe Google’s ability to find information. Inside the company, engineers use several uniquely powerful tools for searching and analyzing its own massive trove of data.

One of those is Dremel, a tool that helps Google’s employees analyze data stored across thousands of machines, at unusually fast speeds. What’s more, Dremel lets the Google team to manipulate all of this data using a language very similar to SQL, short for Structured Query Language, the standard way of grabbing information from databases.

Like most of its custom-built tools, Dremel is only available inside Google. But now, the rest of the world can hack data a little more like Google does, thanks to Quest, a Dremel-like query engine created by Theo Vassilakis, one of the lead developers of Dremel at Google, and Toli Lerios, a former engineer at Facebook. The tool is one of a growing number of that seek to mimic the way web giants like Google and Facebook rapidly analyze enormous amounts of online information stored across hundreds or even thousands of machines. This includes everything from a project called Drill, from a company called MapR, to a sweeping open source platform called Spark.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate Life

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Posted September 9, 2014 at 5:31 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

It has been a little more than three years since the Kansas Cities — both Kansas and Missouri — won a national competition to be the first places to get Google Fiber, a fiber-optic network that includes cable television and Internet running at one gigabit a second. That is about 100 times as fast as the average connection in the United States (on which it would take about two-and-a-half minutes to download 612 kitten photos).

But be careful what you wish for. After a few million in waived permit fees and granting Google free access to public land, the area is finding out that Google Fiber is so fast, it’s hard to know what to do with it.

There aren’t really any applications that fully take advantage of Fiber’s speed, at least not for ordinary people. And since only a few cities have such fast Internet access, tech companies aren’t clamoring to build things for Fiber. So it has fallen to locals — academics, residents, programmers and small-business owners — to make the best of it.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchScience & TechnologyUrban/City Life and Issues* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate Life* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

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Posted September 8, 2014 at 3:12 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Can the U.S. compete internationally? Its companies can. Its workers cannot.

That is the key finding from a new survey of Harvard Business School alumni that delves into their views of the U.S. business environment to see where the nation thrives and where it falters.

The survey shows the business executives see, on one hand, an uncompetitive K-12 education system, a poor tax code and a broken political system. On the other hand, they see high-quality capital markets, sophisticated management systems, pathbreaking universities and a vibrant environment for entrepreneurs.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchEducationGlobalizationScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor Market* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted September 8, 2014 at 7:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

You can find his brief bio there and he has a Youtube channel there and there is still more here. Why should you dig into this? Well, take a look at this 2007 video and see:



Filed under: * Culture-WatchEducationGlobalizationScience & TechnologyYoung Adults

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Posted September 5, 2014 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

New York state, Minnesota and Washington, D.C., all have pending legislation that would legalize the practice of commercial surrogacy—paying someone to have a baby on your behalf. Reproductive technology has made surrogacy possible since the 1980s, but it remained relatively rare until recent years as the technology improved and the legalization of same-sex marriage increased the number of childless couples eager to have children.

The Catholic Church has long opposed surrogacy, whether paid or unpaid. Nowadays, with increasing pressure for the legalization of paid surrogacy, the church has found itself with an unfamiliar ally: feminists.

The Catholic Church and women's rights groups are accustomed to clashing over policy matters involving contraception and abortion. But now the two camps can often be found working hand in hand when it comes to protecting both women and children from being exploited in the growing and largely unregulated fertility industry.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenLaw & Legal IssuesLife EthicsMarriage & FamilyScience & Technology* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted September 5, 2014 at 5:59 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

St Paul seems an unlikely commentator on mobile technology, but he offers some pertinent thoughts in his letter to the Corinthians. He wrote that while on Earth we perceive God as though “through a lens dimly or darkly” but one day in heaven we will see Him "in full, face to face”. For St Paul, looking through a lens was clearly inferior to taking that glass away and standing face to face in direct contact.

As we hold up our mobile devices, in some ways we create a mediated experience. With a screen between us, we choose to see through glass and forego the ability to be totally present. Yes, we may then have photos to show others, or save for later, but we missed the unrepeatable moment ourselves - and was that a price worth paying?

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureScience & Technology* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted September 3, 2014 at 6:58 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Ever since rivers have been dammed, destroying the migration routes of salmon, humans have worked to create ways to help the fish return to their spawning grounds. We've built ladders and elevators; we've carried them by hand and transported them in trucks. Even helicopters have been used to fly fish upstream.

But all of those methods are expensive and none of them are efficient.

Enter the salmon cannon.

The device uses a pressure differential to suck up a fish, send it through a tube at up to 22 mph and then shoot it out the other side, reaching heights of up to 30 feet. This weekend, it will be used to move hatchery fish up a tributary of the Columbia River in Washington.

Read it all and enjoy the video also.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeEnergy, Natural Resources* General InterestAnimals* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

3 Comments
Posted September 2, 2014 at 5:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by The_Elves

Kibera, Kenya (CNN) -- Heaps of trash pile up for miles in Kibera, a district of Nairobi that houses nearly 1 million people and is one of the poorest slums in the world. Aluminum shanties fill the horizon, and an odor of urine cuts through the air. A man trots through the narrow, unpaved streets on a camel. If you make your way through this crowded maze, however, you will find the Kibera Girls Soccer Academy, a free public school for girls and, recently, a few boys. Peek in through the windows, and you'll see a sight that seems incongruous next to the grimy chaos outside.

In this school, where there is no electricity and temperatures often top 90 degrees, dozens of students in neat wool uniforms are sliding their fingers across touch screens, reading a lesson on their Amazon Kindle e-reader. The students, who range in age from 14 to 20, are cheerful, welcoming and quick to share the genres of books they like to read in both Swahili and English. Their school is one of 28 participating in a program with Worldreader, a nonprofit organization based in San Francisco that provides modern technology -- usually Kindles -- to improve literacy in the most impoverished parts of the world.

By expanding access to education in areas where books are a scarce resource, the Worldreader team is trying to break the cycle of poverty, one electronic page at a time.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchEducationScience & Technology* International News & CommentaryAfricaKenya

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Posted August 20, 2014 at 3:06 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

As usual with Facebook, this is not the whole story. For one, it has begun tracking users’ browsing history to identify their interests better. Its latest mobile app can identify songs and films playing nearby, nudging users to write about them. It has acquired the Moves app, which does something similar with physical activity, using sensors to recognise whether users are walking, driving or cycling.

Still, if Facebook is so quick to embrace – and profit from – the language of privacy, should privacy advocates not fear they are the latest group to be “disrupted”? Yes, they should: as Facebook’s modus operandi mutates, their vocabulary ceases to match the magnitude of the task at hand. Fortunately, the “happiness” experiment also shows us where the true dangers lie.

For example, many commentators have attacked Facebook’s experiment for making some users feel sadder; yet the company’s happiness fetish is just as troubling. Facebook’s “obligation to be happy” is the converse of the “right to be forgotten” that Google was accused of trampling over. Both rely on filters. But, while Google has begun to hide negative results because it has been told to do so by European authorities, Facebook hides negative results because it is good for business. Yet since unhappy people make the best dissidents in most dystopian novels, should we not also be concerned with all those happy, all too happy, users?

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingLaw & Legal IssuesPsychologyScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeStock Market* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted August 10, 2014 at 3:04 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Like J, with his effortless mastery of big data, these children do not need adult approval before they do things; they are already masters of their world and it is the older generations who must catch up. The millennials grew up with the magical manichean world of Harry Potter and its avuncular headmaster Dumbledore; Generation Z has Katniss Everdeen, the bow-wielding heroine of The Hunger Games, who defies the totalitarian oppressors and starts a revolution.

It will be interesting to see where this generation lands politically — not Ukip, because most have social media friendships that span continents, but will they morph from single-issue activism into democratic party politics or will they, like Everdeen, overturn the existing order? If I were running a political party I would be quite worried about a generation of tech-literate, global-thinking teens raised on a diet of dystopian fiction and the Kardashians. They don’t have much reason to trust adults. And even more alarming, thanks to 3D printers — which they will have mastered long before their parents — they will be able to bypass the arms manufacturers and print their own guns.

Universities and colleges should also be quite apprehensive about Generation Z — there is a growing number of gifted teens who are beginning to wonder whether they will get anything out of university other than a mountain of debt. For the millennials the partying was worth the pain of student loans that they probably won’t pay off before they draw their pension; but for the value- conscious younger generation the idea of education for its own sake is less appealing.

After all, they have online universities and TED talks; any curious teen can probably find a decent liberal arts education online without having to spend a penny on tuition.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryPsychologyScience & TechnologySociologyTeens / YouthYoung Adults* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted August 10, 2014 at 3:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Research shows that children are best brought up in families where a mum and dad are present. The role of fathers in the nurture of their children is unique and cannot be replaced by other so-called ‘male role-models’ or, indeed, an extra ‘mother’.

Research tells us that children relate to their fathers differently than to their mothers, and this is important in developing a sense of their own identity....

None of this should detract from the heroism of single parents. They should be provided with every support by the State and by local communities.

There is, however, a big difference between children growing up without fathers because of death or family breakdown, and actively planning to bring children into the world who will not know one of their biological parents and where such a parent will never be part of the nurture of these children.

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Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE Bishops* Culture-WatchChildrenHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal IssuesLife EthicsMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureScience & Technology* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted August 9, 2014 at 1:05 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The vast majority of respondents to the 2014 Future of the Internet canvassing anticipate that robotics and artificial intelligence will permeate wide segments of daily life by 2025, with huge implications for a range of industries such as health care, transport and logistics, customer service, and home maintenance. But even as they are largely consistent in their predictions for the evolution of technology itself, they are deeply divided on how advances in AI and robotics will impact the economic and employment picture over the next decade.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyLabor/Labor Unions/Labor Market

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Posted August 8, 2014 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Two Americans with Ebola received at least half of the world's supply of a drug that might be able to change the course of the deadly virus.

Some people are asking how to allocate additional doses of this drug and whether it was ethical to give those drugs to American missionaries when they weren't available to West Africans suffering from or fighting the outbreak.

The World Health Organization will convene a panel of medical ethicists early next week to discuss the use of such experimental treatments. The group will probably decide how to allocate medications should more become available.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationHealth & MedicineScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAfricaAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted August 7, 2014 at 5:38 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

“We should not be surprised if parents who have ordered a baby and rented a woman’s womb refuse it at birth if it is not healthy and perfect,” said an article published in the Vatican’s semiofficial newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano.

“In fact if a child becomes a product to buy, it is obvious that as with any acquisition it must meet with the buyer’s approval.”

The strongly worded commentary was written by prominent Catholic feminist and regular contributor Lucetta Scaraffia, who argued the child’s rejection was to be expected in the “explosive mix” of consumerism combined with a “throwaway culture.”

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal IssuesLife EthicsMarriage & FamilyScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate Life* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted August 6, 2014 at 4:35 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Will robots ease our toil or become a tool for automation and oppression? People who care about technology seem sharply divided, and passionate, about the topic.

The Pew Research Center asked 1,900 technology experts if robots will help or hurt the workforce over the next 10 years. Nearly half (48%) envision a future in which robots displace significant numbers of workers. The remaining 52% say automation will not displace more jobs than it creates by 2025.

But the numbers were just the starting point for some heated opinions.

“We, as a society, have a lot of decisions to make,” said study co-author Aaron Smith, a senior researcher at the Pew Internet Project. “There’s going to be a lot of debate.”

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor Market* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted August 6, 2014 at 11:09 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A Russian crime ring has amassed the largest known collection of stolen Internet credentials, including 1.2 billion username and password combinations and more than 500 million email addresses, security researchers say.

The records, discovered by Hold Security, a firm in Milwaukee, include confidential material gathered from 420,000 websites, ranging from household names to small Internet sites. Hold Security has a history of uncovering significant hacks, including the theft last year of tens of millions of records from Adobe Systems.

Hold Security would not name the victims, citing nondisclosure agreements and a reluctance to name companies whose sites remained vulnerable. At the request of The New York Times, a security expert not affiliated with Hold Security analyzed the database of stolen credentials and confirmed it was authentic. Another computer crime expert who had reviewed the data, but was not allowed to discuss it publicly, said some big companies were aware that their records were among the stolen information.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingGlobalizationLaw & Legal IssuesScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate Life* International News & CommentaryEuropeRussia* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted August 5, 2014 at 5:29 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Starting this September, every single K-12 student in Great Britain will start taking classes in computer programming. That is, kids at the age of five will take programming, and they won’t stop until they’re 16 at least. A majority of these children will be using the free online learning platform Codecademy, says co-founder Zach Sims. Ditto France, Estonia and Buenos Aires.

In China, Codecademy, which has programming lessons contributed by more than 100,000 people from around the world, has been cloned multiple times.

Meanwhile in the U.S., where education is controlled by the states, fewer than 20 even recognize computer science as a science; the rest consider it an elective.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenEducationGlobalizationScience & Technology

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Posted August 5, 2014 at 3:40 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

It may have seemed like the makings of a perfect opening night: perhaps popcorn, soda, great seats, the whispering of an excited crowd as the lights went down for a midnight first peek at "Guardians of the Galaxy."

The previews rolled, and then ... whaaaat?

"omg," one moviegoer tweeted. "they started playing rise of the guardians instead of guardians of the galaxy."

How in the galaxy did that happen?

"EVERYONE IN THE THEATRE IS CRYING," the tweeter added.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchMovies & TelevisionScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spending* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

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Posted August 3, 2014 at 3:28 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Pattaramon [ Chanbua] was promised 300,000 baht ($9,300) by a surrogacy agency in Bangkok, Thailand’s capital, to be a surrogate for the Australian couple, but she has not been fully paid since the children were born last December.

She said the agency knew about Gammy’s condition four to five months after she became pregnant but did not tell her. It wasn’t until the seventh month of her pregnancy when the doctors and the agency told her that one of the twin babies had Down syndrome and suggested that she have an abortion just for him.

Pattaramon recalled strongly rejecting the idea, believing that having the abortion would be sinful. “I asked them, ‘Are you still humans?’ I really wanted to know,” she said Sunday.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenGlobalizationHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate Life* International News & CommentaryAsiaThailandAustralia / NZ

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Posted August 3, 2014 at 2:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Students in the UK can now get graduate degrees in cyber-spying approved by the masters of the craft at the UK’s Government Communications Headquarters, the British counterpart of the US National Security Agency. Students at the University of Oxford and five other universities can get masters in cyber-security signed off by the best eavesdroppers in the country, the BBC reported.

While the NSA gets most of the headlines, Edward Snowden has accused the Government Communications Headquarters of being far worse than their American cousins. “Their respect for the privacy right, their respect for individual citizens, their ability to communicate and associate without monitoring and interference is not strongly encoded in law or policy,” Snowden told The Guardian. “They enjoy authorities that they really shouldn’t be entitled to.” Among the tactics that GCHQ is accused of is using sex to entrap people via “honey traps” and smearing hackers online.

Yet the government has defended the agency to the hilt.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchEducationScience & TechnologyYoung Adults* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, Military* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted August 3, 2014 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Should a fertility treatment clinic implement a policy requiring patients to use only ethnically or racially matched gamete donors? If the idea of such a policy already triggers some element of moral revulsion, you need not read further. But for argument’s sake, here’s why a controversial policy that was in effect until last year at Calgary’s only fertility clinic, and which requires patients to use racially matched sperm donors, is morally, ethically, and legally objectionable.

The policy suggests that a child is disadvantaged by not having an ethnically matched parent. This is a dangerous idea that stigmatizes children who are part of ethnically mixed families. Besides, there is not a shred of evidence that suggests the welfare of a child born (with or without donor gametes) to a person of different ethnicity or race is diminished by the mere fact of that difference.

Individuals who do not have fertility issues are free to seek out partners of any race, colour, ethnicity or creed for procreation purposes. Why then should those seeking fertility treatment be limited to ethnically matched donors? Such limitation stifles patient choice and makes a mess of the ethical and legal concept of autonomy, which is fundamental to medical decision-making in our society. Indeed, it violates professional practice guidelines issued by the International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics, which stipulate that patients should “be provided with the opportunity to consider and evaluate treatment options in the context of their own life circumstances and culture.” Simply put, decisions regarding a future child’s ethnicity should be made by parents, not by doctors.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal IssuesLife EthicsMarriage & FamilyScience & Technology* International News & CommentaryCanada* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 30, 2014 at 5:16 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Like many people, I trust Google to find me answers to everything from the mundane to the medical. Now, after a decade in which our increasing obsession with social media brought our computers out of the study and into the living-room, more of us are turning to the internet even when our question is emotional or irrational. The result: two decades after the birth of the web, our search histories have become a mirror to every aspect of our lives.

“Someone once said that what you look for is way more telling than information about yourself – this is something Google and other search engines understood a long time ago,” says Luciano Floridi, the Professor of Philosophy and Ethics of Information at the Oxford Internet Institute.

“Future generations will be able to trace our interests as a society just by looking at what we were looking for. Even if we don’t find the information, it doesn’t matter. Who we are, how we represent ourselves, how the world feeding back a mirror image of ourselves shapes our idea of ourselves – this is as old as philosophy, but today has a completely new twist. The online and offline are becoming more and more blurred, and that feeds back into our self-perception.” (If that sounds pseudy, then think of the example of a recruiter Googling someone who’s applied for a job: does the person on Twitter better represent who they really are, or the person on their best behaviour in the interview room?)

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingHealth & MedicinePhilosophyPsychologyReligion & CultureScience & Technology* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK

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Posted July 28, 2014 at 7:58 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I think that the boggle line also tells us something about belief. We each of us have what we could call a belief continuum, with taken-for-granted obvious truths at one end (in August, it does not snow in New York City) and whacked-out possibilities at the other (the tooth fairy, a Cubs triumph in the World Series). When we draw a line between the plausible and the ridiculous — our boggle line — I think we become more confident about the beliefs on the plausible side of the line. You are, the boggle line tells you, a sensible, reasonable person. You do not believe in that. So a belief in this — well, a sensible person would take that seriously.

We know already that asserting one kind of belief shapes one’s willingness to commit to another. Benoit Monin, a professor of organizational behavior and psychology at Stanford, and his colleagues have found that when people do something that affirms their lack of prejudice, like disagreeing with blatant racism or expressing willingness, in a laboratory experiment, to hire a black person instead of a white one, that reasonable moral action seems to license them later to express views that seem racist. Seeing yourself as morally reasonable might allow you to make morally risky choices.

So perhaps rejecting the extreme position (I don’t believe in that) might make a less extreme, but still uncertain, commitment seem more plausible. Indeed, you can make a case that this is why heresy is so important. “What people do not believe is often more clearly articulated than what they do believe,” the sociologist Lester R. Kurtz wrote in 1983, “and it is through battles with heresies and heretics that orthodoxy is most sharply delineated.” The sociologists would explain that if this is true, it is because people unite most profoundly in opposition to a common enemy.

Read it all from the NY Times Op-ed.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryPsychologyReligion & CultureScience & TechnologySociology* TheologyAnthropology

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Posted July 27, 2014 at 4:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal IssuesLife EthicsScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAustralia / NZ* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 23, 2014 at 6:22 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

So much soot belched from the old power plant here that Mike Zeleny would personally warn the neighbors.

“If the wind was blowing in a certain direction,” Mr. Zeleny said, “we’d call Mrs. Robinson down the street and tell her not to put out her laundry.”

That coal plant is long gone, replaced by a much larger and cleaner one along the vast Saskatchewan prairie. Sooty shirts and socks are a thing of the past.

But as with even the most modern coal plants, its smokestacks still emit enormous amounts of carbon dioxide, the invisible heat-trapping gas that is the main contributor to global warming. So this fall, a gleaming new maze of pipes and tanks — topped with what looks like the Tin Man’s hat — will suck up 90 percent of the carbon dioxide from one of the boilers so it can be shipped out for burial, deep underground.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeEnergy, Natural Resources* International News & CommentaryCanada* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

15 Comments
Posted July 23, 2014 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]




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