Archived Posts 2005 - Page 62 of 88 | Acton PowerBlog

This post at Davids Medienkritik, “Die Sueddeutsche Zeitung: One-Sided Attack Journalism as News,” gives us a perfect example of what can happen when the media becomes unmoored. And I’ll take it as a piece of concrete evidence supporting the conclusions of my earlier post today.

Blog author: kwoods
Wednesday, June 8, 2005

Two years ago the Head Start battle focused on effectiveness: Were low income kids truly better prepared for starting school because they had participated in the program? No solid answers emerged, but like so many other Beltway debates, the substance issues abate once the funding crisis is passed.

Now Head Start is the focus of yet another brouhaha. Legislation attached to H.R.2123 by Rep. John Boehner (R-OH) ensures faith-based organizations receiving federal Head Start early childhood program dollars are not forced to surrender their religious identities if they want to be Head Start providers. In other words, churches could still provide Head Start programming without having to throw a tablecloth from the fellowship hall over any religious symbols in the building and fear prosecution if they hired teachers and recruited volunteers from among church members.

Perhaps more time in Washington than in home districts keeps legislators from either party too disconnected from the practical shortsightedness of policy. Muskegon, Michigan community church-based Head Starts provide more volunteers and free family support services than school-based Head Starts. Subsidiarity–inherent value of neighbors helping neighbors–would explain that.

Our Washington policy makers should ponder if the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that supports faith-based organizations taking religion into account with hiring is discrimination or, in fact, civil rights exercised reasonably. We decry Columbine and the value-neutral education that communicates anything is ok. Yet when there is an opportunity for people of faith to interact with, nurture, and support challenged young families as their contribution to civil society, the Discrimination Police claim foul.

Blog author: jballor
Wednesday, June 8, 2005

AFP/File Photo

In the spirit of C. S. Lewis’ classic The Abolition of Man becoming available online, I pass along this story:

Macho man is an endangered species…fashion industry insiders say.

A study along these lines led by French marketing and style consultants Nelly Rodi was unveiled to Fashion Group International during a seminar Tuesday on future strategy for the fashion industry in Europe.

Asks Pierre Francois Le Louet, the agency’s managing director, “We are watching the birth of a hybrid man. … Why not put on a pink-flowered shirt and try out a partner-swapping club?”

We’re waiting for confirmation whether the study actually examined any men outside the borders of France.

Blog author: jballor
Wednesday, June 8, 2005

The article I referenced a couple weeks ago about the trends in conservative think tanks and philanthropy noted that the first phase was ushered in by F. A. Hayek. In some ways, the arc that Piereson sketches follows a change in the relationship that Hayek observed between what he termed “academics” and “intellectuals.”

In his 1949 essay, “The Intellectuals and Socialism,” (PDF) Hayek defines an intellectual in this way:

The term intellectuals, however, does not at once convey a true picture of the large class to which we refer and the fact that we have no better name by which to describe what we have called the secondhand dealers in ideas is not the least of reasons why their power is not better understood. Even persons who use the word “intellectual” mainly as a term of abuse are still inclined to withhold it from many who undoubtedly perform that characteristic function. This is neither that of the original thinker nor that of the scholar or expert in a particular field of thought. The typical intellectual need be neither: he need not possess special knowledge of anything in particular, nor need he even be particularly intelligent, to perform his role as intermediary in the spreading of ideas. What qualifies him for his job is the wide range of subjects on which he can readily talk and write, and a position or habits through which he becomes acquainted with new ideas sooner than those whom he addresses himself.

As you can see, Hayek does not mean the term to be especially praiseworthy. He rather views the intellectual as a sort of gatekeeper (in his words an “intermediary”) between those who have expert knowledge (academics/scholars) and the public. This particular article by Hayek argues that the role and importance of intellectuals in the formation of public opinion is generally overlooked, and that their function needs to be better understood in order to better disseminate conservative ideas.

None of this, however, takes away from the importance of having and producing the ideas to disseminate in the first place. Piereson’s piece paints a picture of conservative philanthropy having gradually moved away from an emphasis primarily on ideas and secondarily on method of dissemination (enter the intellecual). The reverse has rather become true: the talking heads and intelligentsia have become the primary focal point.

A Dove Foundation report released this week shows a link between family-friendly movies and profitability. "One comes away from the Dove report with a sense that the movie industry is beginning to recognize a profit opportunity in producing more morally robust movies," writes Rev. Robert A. Sirico.

Read the full text here.

The Dove Foundation report is available here (PDF).

The Roundtable on Religion & Social Policy interviewed Acton’s Karen Woods, director of the Center for Effective Compassion (CEC) this week. Woods spoke about the work of the CEC, including the Samaritan Award, and also gave her perspective on the federal Faith-Based and Community Initiative.

She says in part,

With welfare reform in ’96, and certainly the waivers that preceded that in certain states, there was a change in the way that we looked at social services. Suddenly, work was valued, not just in the sense of an economic value, but a personal value. You’re not viewed by the system as saying, “Well, we have to help you because you can’t help yourself,” but saying, “Guess what? There are a lot of things you could do for yourself and let’s focus on that.”

We’ve got all these people in the system — three and four generations of people who’ve been on entitlement systems that don’t know how to work. The parallel issue with that is that you have three or four generations of people who do not know how to help — and many of them sitting in church pews and in religious congregations across the United States.

Because, for three and four generations, the first line of defense was called social services, as opposed to saying, “I watched my mother help the next door neighbor when she had problems and when she was ill or couldn’t take care of her kids (or) I watched my dad help a man in our church who’d lost his job, and helped him with his job skills and get another job.” That used to be an assumed role of Christian charity.

Blog author: abradley
Tuesday, June 7, 2005

Google recently surpassed Time Warner as the world’s top media stock. Google provides services to about 19 million users per day. People go to Google to find things, participate in discussions via online forums, to check and send email, driving directions, and a host of other services. That is a lot of information about a lot of people…where does it all go?

Apparently, Google keeps it all! What is the cost of this data collection? How much of our own privacy are we willing to give up for "better services"? Amid reports of identity theft and lost personal data, important questions like these arise.

The "World Wide Web" is only about 16 years old (according to the W3C) and should still be considered in its infancy. A lot has changed in those 16 years in terms of capability, usage, and the general worldview developed by the people who use the Internet. In terms of a human life, a 16 year-old is considered the epitome of identity crisis and immaturity.

Nevertheless, the Internet has become a force that shapes us, rather than an entity that we control. How willing we are to open our entire lives to what most of us consider an empty void? We tend to assume that anything about us is lost in a massive haystack of information, not traceable to us. We also forget that with the 16 years of development in the Internet, every needle with our name on it within that massive haystack has a string attached and is found quite easily.

With the upcoming boom of RFID tags, national identification cards, biotechnology, DNA profiling and analysis technology, rampant virus and identity theft techniques, and, most importantly, changing social structure and community development, our own identity should be closely guarded. We need to think a little harder about how much of our lives we should give to the Internet, and about how much we should take from the Internet. The Internet is a tool, and we need to use it in that regard, not as the only source of entertainment, social interaction, and enjoyment in life.