Archived Posts January 2007 - Page 6 of 7 | Acton PowerBlog

Blog author: jballor
posted by on Thursday, January 4, 2007

From today’s WaPo:

About 25 percent of the technology and engineering companies launched in the past decade had at least one foreign-born founder, according to a study released yesterday that throws new information into the debate over foreign workers who arrive in the United States on specialty visas.

Scott McNealy, chairman and co-founder of Sun Microsystems, “is among the advocates for an expanded visa program, writing editorials, calling members of Congress and supporting political action committees.”

He asks a pretty good question, I think: “Why would you have any arbitrary number on smart people?”

Blog author: jballor
posted by on Thursday, January 4, 2007

I’ve had this link sitting in my inbox for quite awhile and have finally gotten to it. It’s well worth the read. Brian J. Lee, writing in Modern Reformation, takes a look at the foundational passage in Romans where Paul discusses subjection to civil authorities. Lee argues that Paul’s sole concern is with Christian submission:

Properly understood, Paul’s command to submit should constrain our optimism about the civil government’s capacity to transform, save, or redeem. Civil government is not an aid to Christian sanctification, either on the individual or cultural scale. Rather, it is a dead-end, stop-gap barrier that makes space for the good in a fallen world. In our capacity as believers and as a church, our task is not to ask how to govern well, but to be governed.

Lee makes some important points, not the least of which is this: “God doesn’t need either Christian rulers or Christian systems of government to fulfill his purposes, precisely because his purposes for the civil government are not ultimate or religious or eternal. In contrast, a fallen world with its limited horizon will always tend to invest its secular authorities with ultimate significance.”

Lee traces out some of the implications for our contemporary situation, not least of which is that, “the Christian has no special expertise to rule.” Presumably, then, the converse is also true, that the non-Christian has no special handicap, which bears in on a number of current political discussions.

Read the whole thing.

Blog author: mvandermaas
posted by on Wednesday, January 3, 2007

President Ford’s Casket just passed Acton’s offices here in Grand Rapids, on the way to Grace Episcopal Church for a final private service for Ford’s family before his interment on the grounds of the Ford Museum.

Motorcade to Grace Episcopal Church - January 3, 2007

Motorcade to Grace Episcopal Church - January 3, 2007

Blog author: jballor
posted by on Wednesday, January 3, 2007

Just in case you forgot, President Gerald R. Ford got perhaps the most positive and friendly portrayal of any American president on The Simpsons, as the one former president you’d like to have as a neighbor:

Blog author: kschmiesing
posted by on Wednesday, January 3, 2007

A professor at MIT has been denied tenure and he claims that the reason is his opposition to embyonic stem cell research (his specialty is adult stem cell research). It is always impossible to know exactly what the motives are in these tenure battles unless one is personally involved, but it would not be surprising if his claim were accurate, given the high stakes (e.g., funding) inherent in this field. In any case, for many professors, “ideology” and “scholarship” are linked—their protestations notwithstanding—so efforts to determine whether decisions are made purely on the basis of scholarship or are influenced by worldview differences are often futile.

Anecdotally, I recently had a conversation with a seminary professor of moral theology who is collaborating with researchers at a first-rate scientific institution. The scientists are curious about the theologian’s moral arguments against embryonic stem cell research—but they are already focused on adult stem cell research, because they have concluded that that avenue shows much more promise for actual therapeutic results.

For a look at the morality of embryo treatment from a Reformed perspective, see this commentary by Acton’s Stephen Grabill.

For a basic but helpful summary of the Catholic Church’s view, see this Q&A from the USCCB.

Blog author: mvandermaas
posted by on Tuesday, January 2, 2007

As many of our regular readers know, the Acton Institute is headquartered in Grand Rapids, Michigan, a city that just happens to be at the center of national attention this week with the passing of former President Gerald R. Ford, our city’s most famous son. I’ve spent some time walking the streets of our town this week, soaking in the sights and taking some photos of the memorials that have sprouted up around the Ford Museum.

I’ve been struggling to find appropriate words to put with this post, so now that the clock has turned past midnight I’ve decided to give up for the day and leave you with some of those photos, which I believe should speak very well for themselves.

Gerald R. Ford Memorial - December 29, 2006

Gerald Ford Memorial - January 2, 2007

Gerald Ford Memorial - January 2, 2007

Gerald R. Ford arrives in Grand Rapids - January 2, 2007

One note: As I write this post, local news outlets are reporting that 60,000 people are downtown, waiting in line to view President Ford’s casket – at midnight. Truly an amazing event to witness.

For those who are interested, my full photo archive is here.

Blog author: jballor
posted by on Tuesday, January 2, 2007

“The environment is begging for the Wal-Mart business model,” says H. Lee Scott Jr., CEO of Wal-Mart Stores in a NYT article, “Power-Sipping Bulbs Get Backing From Wal-Mart.”

The piece discusses Wal-Mart’s campaign to increase the sales of compact fluorescent bulbs, as compared to traditional incandescent bulbs. As Michael Barbaro writes, “A compact fluorescent has clear advantages over the widely used incandescent light — it uses 75 percent less electricity, lasts 10 times longer, produces 450 pounds fewer greenhouse gases from power plants and saves consumers $30 over the life of each bulb. But it is eight times as expensive as a traditional bulb, gives off a harsher light and has a peculiar appearance.”

I’ve converted probably half of the bulbs in my home to CFLs (compact fluorescent lights), but have run into problems when trying to use them in some places. Lights that use dimmer switches, for instance, don’t work well with CFLs. And some CFLs won’t fit into light fixtures designed to accommodate incandescent bulbs.

Wal-Mart’s clout has begun to affect the light bulb manufacturing business, as producers like GE struggle to change their emphasis from production of incandescents to CFLs.

And on the demand side, what’s called for in convincing consumers to go with the CFLs is a basic economic lesson: you are sometimes better off spending more in the short-term for long-term gain: “Wal-Mart will have to persuade its traditional consumers that it is worth paying a bit more at the checkout counter to save a significant amount money down the line, a seemingly simple task that few companies ever accomplish. It is particularly difficult at a retailer that has long emphasized ‘always low prices.’”

As is so often the case, the best economic decision is the one that makes best use of both financial and environmental resources.

Update: This story is getting major attention across the blogosphere and MSM, including a NYT editorial here, and posts here and here.

Blog author: jballor
posted by on Tuesday, January 2, 2007

James Dyson, inventor of the world’s most exciting bagless vacuum cleaner, will receive a knighthood. Speaking of his company, the BBC reports:

Today, the company has about 1,400 staff in the UK, with about 4,000 others working in production plants in Malaysia and China.

Despite his successes, Mr Dyson has been criticised for his decision to ship so many production jobs abroad.

Paul Kenny, general secretary of the GMB said: “Do people now get a knighthood for services to exporting jobs?”

By contrast, Dyson says, “I have spent 35 years making things in a country that often has little regard for its manufacturers.”

“It has left me more convinced than ever that engineering is this country’s future.”

HT: Gear Factor

Blog author: jballor
posted by on Tuesday, January 2, 2007

The conflicting images I spoke about last week, the obesity of poor children in America, are the subject of a weekend piece in the NYT, “India Prosperity Creates Paradox; Many Children Are Fat, Even More Are Famished.”

Of course, in India these aren’t the same kids: by and large the poor ones aren’t the fat ones. Someni Sengupta writes, “In short, while new money and new foods transform the eating habits of some of India’s youngest citizens, gnawing destitution continues to plague millions of others. Taken together, it is a picture of plenty and want, each producing its own set of afflictions.”

The social problems are accompanied by the requisite calls to expand inadequate government programs. “In a rare rebuke, the Supreme Court of India this month ordered the government to expand swiftly the number of nutrition programs in the country. The programs now serve around 46 million children, at least on paper.”

Here’s a sample of what one of these programs looks like in practice.

One morning in a destitute rural district called Barabanki about 300 miles northwest of here, a dozen small children, most of them barefoot, some of them barely clothed, lined up for help at a program known as Integrated Child Development Services.

On this morning, every child received a scoop of dry cereal, a bland mixture of wheat, sugar and soy that is called panjiri in Hindi.

Some brought a plastic bag to hold their gift. Others made a bowl with the dirty end of whatever they wore. They sat on the ground and shoveled the food into their mouths.

Mothers in this village said the dry ration cereal sometimes made their children sick. No cooked food was available at this center. The center was also supposed to dispense vitamin-fortified oil to the villagers, but they said it rarely came.

These don’t seem to be practices that place a premium on human dignity or instilling self-sufficiency, but are rather based on perpetuating dependency on government.

Blog author: jballor
posted by on Tuesday, January 2, 2007

‘Tis the season for making resolutions. Today’s Zondervan>To The Point newsletter focuses on a variety of Christian resolutions, and includes a link to a piece from Leadership Journal on Jonathan Edwards’ resolutions (related blog piece here).

One of my favorites: “Resolved, To be endeavoring to find out fit objects of charity and liberality.”

Here’s a good place to start doing that.