Saturday, April 21, 2007

A rare textual blog of the scriptures

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Like many lax but well-educated Jews (and Christians), I have long assumed I knew what was in the Bible—more or less.
I absorbed other bits of Bible everywhere—from stories I heard in churches and synagogues, movies and TV shows, tidbits my parents and teachers told me. All this left me with a general sense that I knew the Good Book well enough, and that it was a font of crackling stories, Jewish heroes, and moral lessons.
o, the tale of Dinah unsettled me, to say the least. If this story was strutting cheerfully through the back half of Genesis, what else had I forgotten or never learned? I decided I would, for the first time as an adult, read the Bible. And I would blog about it as I went along.
My goal is pretty simple. I want to find out what happens when an ignorant person actually reads the book on which his religion is based.
David Katz, a writer for Slate magazine, has undertaken a surprisingly rare task in the blogosphere. He has decided to actually read the bible and engage his readers in a discussion of the text. As a believer in the pursuit of truth and wisdom, as well as a believer in the scriptures as a source of truth, I had assumed that this type of blog would be easy to come by. Alas, I was mistaken. The longer one searches the blogosphere, and for that matter, the internet at large, the more obvious it becomes what many of us had suspected all along. Almost nobody actually reads that thing. For all the preachers waving their bibles around in church, and all the thousands of people listening intently every week, no one's actually doing their homework.

So leave it to the newly invigorated liberal media to get some religion and fill the gap. The fellows over at Slate may fill volumes with their mockery of the religious right, but in this column they're also one-uping them by studying what the other side claims to own. Keep up this honest search for truth, and the liberals might win over some converts. One thing though, they've certainly captured a reader.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Daily Show IQ?

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A study by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press found that viewers of Jon Stewart and Steven Colbert are among the most politically savvy news watchers. Shit, we even beat out those robo-geeks who watch Jim Lehrer on PBS! The average Fox News viewer, by contrast, bombed the political pop quiz, placing that audience just slightly above the early morning talk show crowd.

it seems safe to conclude that my so-called “slacker” generation takes more of an explicit interest in politics than our ancestors. The other thing to note about this segment of the population is that it skews decidedly liberal.
I think it’s quite simple. My generation (*cough*) grew very wary at an early age with propagandist style lies about everything from the War on Drugs to sex education; with racism, homophobia, immigrant paranoia; and with blind faith in both God and country.
Interesting post. I disagree with his analysis of the data though. Our (*cough*) generation is likely left-leaning just because they're twenty-something, not because we've been alienated by the right. That feeling of alienation we might feel from the right may be predominantly because we're not their target audience. Young people typically seem to be more liberal, and as they age, swing more toward the right. I don't have sources to sight on that, it just seems self-evident.

I would speculate that this age gap also explains why the Daily Show viewers did better on the quiz. My father, for example, used to watch McNeal-Lehr religiously, and as a Mayo clinic physician and information junkie, I suspect he was pretty well informed on things. Now, in his 60's, he leaves the TV on FoxNews "because PBS just got too damn-liberal nowadays."

Monday, April 16, 2007

Greenspan needs to shut up.

Ever known someone who knew everything, but didn't know when to keep quiet about it? Alan Greenspan was that guy this month. It's true when he says that increased competition in any industry invariably leads to innovation and progress. It's true that competition leads to lower costs, and a healthier economy. But as an aspiring doctor with 10's of thousands of dollars of debt, I'm not too happy about him pointing out the inflated salaries of my medical colleagues.

As members of a civilized society however, we cannot draw lines when it affects us personally. We cannot condemn the moral incongruity of other protectionists while at the same time defending our own turf. Still, it would be nice if some truths took a little longer to come to light.

Perhaps while he's on the subject of perceived income inequality, he might suggest some international competition for the Christmas bonuses of friends at Goldman's Sachs. Or better yet, stop by Cato and check how much incomes are really diverging. Or best, next time he has an epiphany like this one, keep it to himself...
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Greenspan's solution to America's wage disparity is thus: "Our skilled wages are higher than anywhere in the world. If we open up a significant window for skilled workers, that would suppress the skilled-wage level and end the concentration of income."
After all, less-skilled and less-educated workers, primarily in the manufacturing industry, have been subjected to direct competition with lower-paid workers overseas. In return, the United States has received less-expensive goods at big box stores like Wal-Mart and Costco.
In 1997, Congress tightened the licensing rules for foreign doctors entering the country because of concerns by the American Medical Association and other doctors' organizations that the inflow of foreign doctors was driving down their salaries. As a result, the number of foreign medical residents allowed to enter the country each year was cut in half.

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