Blog author: jspalink
posted by on Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Grand Rapids seems to be establishing a precedent for private corporations and individuals stepping up to the plate in the face of budget cuts and financial difficulty. The most recent example is the announcement that all six city pools will be open this summer, rather than just three. That means that the Director of Parks and Recreation is now looking to fill 160 new jobs (including lifeguards and water safety instructors) to man the parks. Why, when Michigan is facing a severe budget crisis, are we opening all the swimming pools in the city? Because Roosevelt Tillman, a local business man, remembered the days when he used to spend all day at the pool during the summer wanted today’s children to experience the same thing.

This is not the first time that the local population has stepped in to save the day in the midst of a budget crisis. This winter La Salle Bank and Centennial Wireless in cooperation with the Grand Rapids Griffins Youth Foundation provided the necessary funds to keep the Rosa Park Skating Rink open to the public.

There are several advantages to both individuals and corporations that fund these parks. A person invests in something because they think its worth it – there is good chance of a positive return. A company may invest in order to increase awareness and costumer loyalty. There’s a good chance that I’ll be more likely to bank with LaSalle or get a cell phone plan with Centennial because I drive by people skating in the rink every evening on my way home from work.

A big thank you to the people and corporations who invest in Grand Rapids. Your contributions to this community will not be forgotten.

[UPDATE] Here is the story about the pools from the Grand Rapids Press.

An entire nation breathes a sigh of relief today, as Sheryl Crow has claimed that her proposal to restrict toilet paper usage to one square per restroom visit was a joke, as this blogger suspected. Unfortunately, Crow had no further comment on the status of her “dining sleeve” device.

You can count on the PowerBlog to bring you the latest news and updates on this important story as they occur.

More: Iain Murray at Planet Gore notes that all things considered, it was relatively easy to take Crow’s ludicrous suggestion seriously:

The reaction to it should tell her something about the environmental movement. People thought it was a serious suggestion because they are used to hearing equally ludicrous things coming from environmentalists. Even The Daily Show took her at face value last night. Until green environmentalists square the circle of modern life with their concerns about it and their proposed statist solutions, they’re going to face exactly the same problem.

Blog author: jballor
posted by on Tuesday, April 24, 2007

“None of the above,” or NOTA, is a voting concept that would allow ballot-casters to express their frustration with the available candidates. It’s been a staple of voting procedure at the United States Libertarian Party for years.

The Florida legislature is now considering an “I Choose Not To Vote” option. This choice is not the same as NOTA, since if it “won” a majority of votes it would not result in any necessary action. The candidate who gets the highest vote total would still win the race, but the option would “enable uninformed or disgusted voters to opt out in a way that clearly displays their intention to abstain for elections officials,” according to state Sen. Mike Bennett.

The idea is basically NOTA without the teeth. But it may be a step in the right direction for a nation facing depressed voter turnouts, increasingly negative campaigns, and a problematic nomination system.

And at least in the case of Richard Land, president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, it may be a more attractive option than simply not casting a ballot at all.

In an Earth Day column last week that was skeptical about the gospel of global warming consensus, Glenn Shaw, a professor of physics at the Geophysical Institute, University of Alaska Fairbanks, expressed hoped that the climate change debate might spark a more comprehensive conversation about humankind’s complex environmental responsibilities.

In fact the opposite seems to be happening: the activist buzz over global warming is reducing the broader concept of environmental stewardship to a litmus-test on climate change. That’s why I wrote a piece that appeared in today’s Detroit News, “U.S. must move beyond Earth Day slogans.”

In this op-ed I examine three aspects of environmental care that show the comprehensive nature of stewardship, complex realities that belie the free and easy slogans of bumper sticker environmentalism: planting trees, compact fluorescent lightbulbs (CFLs), and plug-in cars.

For more information about the sources used in this story, see these related items:

Blog author: jballor
posted by on Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Words of prudential wisdom from Richard Baxter:

‘In doing good prefer the souls of men before the body, ‘cæteris paribus.’ To convert a sinner from the error of his way is to save a soul from death, and to cover a multitude of sins [James v. 20],’ —And this is greater than to give a man an alms. As cruelty to souls is the most heinous cruelty, (as persecutors and soul-betraying pastors will one day know to their remediless woe,) so mercy to souls is the greatest mercy. Yet sometimes mercy to the body is in that season to be preferred (for every thing is excellent in its season). As if a man be drowning or famishing, you must not delay relief of his body, while you are preaching to him for his conversion; but first relieve him, and then you may in season afterwards instruct him. The greatest duty is not always to go first in time; sometimes some lesser work is a necessary preparatory to a greater; and sometimes a corporeal benefit may tend more to the good of souls than some spiritual work may. Therefore I say still, that prudence an an honest heart are instead of many directions: they will not only look at the immediate benefit of a work, but to its utmost tendency and remote effects.

The Christian Directory, Part I, Christian Ethics, Chapter III, Grand Direction X, Direction X, p. 328.

Welcome to the first edition of the PowerBlog’s new GLOBAL WARMING CONSENSUS WATCH, where we keep you up-to-date on the latest news about the ever-strengthening, nearly invincible consensus that climate change is 1) unnatural and 2) a massive catastrophe waiting to happen.

  • Another scientist off the reservation: Somebody has to start doing something about all these “scientists” who openly question the unshakable, indisputable consensus on global warming. Like this guy, for instance. What in the world could he be talking about here?
    Spencer contends there is not yet enough known about the Earth’s atmosphere to understand exactly what occurs naturally to stabilize the earth’s climate.

    “I don’t think we understand what happens. We can watch it happen on the (climate) models, we know it happens, but we don’t know for sure how it happens…”

    Nonsense. Didn’t he see Al Gore’s movie?

  • Thank you sir, may I have another? Why certainly. Here’s Dr. Timothy Ball, a retired Canadian climatologist, on those climate models we hear so much about:
    As I have said for years, climate models are a useful but severely limited tool in the laboratory that must meet scientific responsibilities. Unfortunately, they are clearly not doing this, which is why we need an independent audit.

    When you go public and allow the output of the models to become the basis of global, national and regional policy there is a different set of responsibilities and these are definitely not being met.

    Worse, they are deliberately being manipulated and misused.

  • Balance = Bias: The potential catastrophe of global warming is too important to allow dissent on the issue in the media, according to Al Gore. And the major media seems to agree:
    Al Gore has complained that the media are biased against the inconvenient truth of global warming. “I believe that is one of the principal reasons why political leaders around the world have not yet taken action,” Gore told a “Media Ethics Summit” at Middle Tennessee State University back in February. Gore lectured journalists that any coverage of views opposed to his own was irresponsible, calling it “balance as bias.”

    It’s impossible to imagine the big TV networks actually accepting an edict from a conservative politician to report only their side of a major public policy issue, but a new Media Research Center study of ABC, CBS and NBC’s global warming coverage finds the networks are giving Gore practically everything he demanded. Not only does nearly every global warming story exclude any contrary voices, but the coverage of Al Gore personally has been exceptionally positive as well.

    It’s amusing to think that Gore could claim that his position on global warming hasn’t gotten a fair shake in the big media without being laughed out of the room. I think it’s much more in line with reality to say that the reason Al Gore even has a career these days is because the media has long ignored his calls to rid the world of the internal combustion engine or the fact that one can barely tell the difference between Gore’s environmentalism and the Unabomber’s (I scored a 25% on that quiz, by the way – you’re invited to drop your score into the comments).

  • The First Cut Is the Deepest: Noted environmental expert Sheryl Crow (who has a career as a recording artist on the side) used to like to soak up the sun. But she’s changed her ways, and what she sees now is not a pretty picture. The consensus on global warming is strong enough that she’s ready to advise us all to make some cuts – and it’s true when they say that the first cut is the deepest:
    Singer Sheryl Crow has said a ban on using too much toilet paper should be introduced to help the environment.

    Crow has suggested using “only one square per restroom visit, except, of course, on those pesky occasions where two to three could be required”…

    …”I have spent the better part of this tour trying to come up with easy ways for us all to become a part of the solution to global warming,” Crow wrote.

    “Although my ideas are in the earliest stages of development, they are, in my mind, worth investigating.

    “I propose a limitation be put on how many squares of toilet paper can be used in any one sitting.”

    Now come on – this has to be a joke, right? No serious person would propose restrictions on how much toilet paper a person can use, right? It would be an understatement to say that this idea is “in the earliest stage of development.” For one thing, has she come up with a workable enforcement mechanism? The mind boggles. But this is a BBC article, not The Onion, so it at least has the faint odor of plausibility (no pun intended).

    On the other hand, the article also includes this tidbit:

    Crow has also commented on her website about how she thinks paper napkins “represent the height of wastefulness”.

    She has designed a clothing line with what she calls a “dining sleeve”.

    The sleeve is detachable and can be replaced with another “dining sleeve” after the diner has used it to wipe his or her mouth.

    OK, there’s no way this is real. Unless somebody can point out to me evidence that Crow (or any other Hollywood celebrity) is actually using the “dining sleeve,” I’m just going to write this whole article off as a parody. After all, even climate change is trumped by vanity and hypocrisy in Tinseltown.

Sheryl Crow highlights the nightmare scenario that threatens us all

Applications and nominations are now being accepted for the 2007 Catholic High School Honor Roll, a program of the Acton Institute. The extended application deadline is May 31, and it is free for schools to participate. The purpose of the Honor Roll is to recognize and encourage excellence in Catholic education. The Honor Roll is an annual list of the top 50 Catholic high schools in the United States, where schools are examined on the criteria of academic excellence, Catholic identity, and civic education. It is viewed nationwide by parents, clergy, the media, donors, and educators. All applicant schools receive detailed evaluations and are eligible for a $1,500 scholarship.

Learn More:

The Honor Roll is published and publicized nationally, and has come to serve as a resource for parents, schools, and donors. A school’s placement on the Honor Roll, or on one of the honorable mention lists, will distinguish it as one of the finest schools in the nation. The purpose of the Honor Roll is to recognize and encourage excellence in Catholic education. As such, no applicant school will receive negative mention.

Since the Honor Roll’s inception in 2004, schools have found that placing on the Top 50 list is powerful publicity. Whether it is with media coverage, institutional recognition, or praise from the local community, schools are seeing increased enrollment, energized staffs, proud donors, and a tremendous marketing opportunity. More than 200 media stories have helped highlight the good work Catholic high schools do.

The application extended deadline is May 31, and it is again free for schools to participate. All of the nearly 1,400 Catholic secondary schools in the United States are eligible to apply. Schools can apply by returning the three surveys that were recently sent to schools in an application packet, or schools may apply online at www.chshonor.org. If a school completes each of the three surveys online, it will be entered in a drawing for $1,500 in scholarships. Last year’s winner was Marian High School in Mishawaka, IN.

A new feature in 2007 is the ability for anyone to nominate a school. If you think a certain school deserves to be recognized, nominating them will ensure they know about the Honor Roll and are given the chance to participate.

There is one additional opportunity for schools this year. Every school that completes each survey will receive a detailed, comprehensive evaluation that gives feedback, offers tips for improvement, shows where it stands amongst its peers, and details its strengths and weaknesses. This evaluation alone will be worth the time it takes to apply.

The primary goal of the Honor Roll is to encourage schools to educate students as effectively as possible, in a way that integrates Catholic faith and prepares students for active engagement with the world. By supporting this constructive competition, the Honor Roll provides insight into the character of Catholic secondary education and calls everyone to improve the academic and spiritual formation given to America’s youth. In promoting rigorous education, the Honor Roll desires to better prepare students for fruitful vocations in politics, business, and the Church.

John Stossel must have been on vacation last week.

I caught part of the 20/20 special offering for Earth Day on Friday night. Among the reports was one by Jay Schadler focusing on solar power as an alternative source of energy.

Schadler pointed out that even though the United States has only 5% of the world’s population, we consume 25% of the world’s energy. It’s a typical canard trotted out by those who want to depict us ugly Americans as “energy hogs.”

But instead of taking a deeper look at these kinds of statistics, the stats usually appear at the intro of a news piece as a hook leading into some other point about alternative energy.

But let’s take a brief look at the implications of such statistics. Let’s even accept them at face value. What such conclusions about the wastefulness per capita of American energy consumption overlook is the inherent connection between economic productivity and energy usage.

Yes, let’s say America’s share of worldwide energy usage is 25%.

But what is America’s share of the global economy? Somewhere between one-fifth and one-third of gross world product. So just maybe there is in fact a link between economic output and energy consumption.

Another aspect of this relationship appears when you run a historical series comparing per capita CO2 emissions and income growth on Google’s Gapminder software.

Every single day courageous and faithful Christians in Zimbabwe are suffering and dying through their resistance of the brutal reign of president Robert Mugabe. You would never know this is true from the lack of interest or response of conservative Christians in America. Of all the causes that are taken up by the Christian Right I have not heard a single voice lifted on behalf of the church in Zimbabwe and their struggle to resist the reign of terror led by President Mugabe.

In January, eight high-profile Christian leaders were arrested by security forces as they, and hundreds of supporters, opened a new office of the Zimbabwe Christian Alliance, an international agency that promotes non-violent resistance to Mugabe’s rule. But Mugabe’s government continues to crack down on this resistance as the nation faces total economic and social collapse. Zimbabweans struggle to survive with an inflationary rate of 1,700% as well as widespread unemployment and profound poverty. More than 3/4ths of the people live in poverty, unemployment is at 80%, and hordes of people are escaping to South Africa as refugees. Mugabe has led the nation since 1980 and every call for political and social reform has been met with more force and resistance. Other African leaders are complicit in allowing this to happen, including the president of neighboring South Africa.

Thankfully, the Lutheran World Federation has called on the international community to respond. And the World Alliance of Reformed Churches, with 75 million members in 216 countries, has also urged action by a pan-African Union to act to end this oppression. I support the actions of the World Alliance of Reformed Churches as a Reformed Christian.

While the Christian Right struggles to "rescue" America it almost universally ignores the plight of the poor and oppressed around the world, as well as in our own country. Evangelicals are rarely heard from when issues like Mugabe and Zimbabwe rise to international attention. Why? Could it be that what I have called our "America-centric" mindset is in fact a form of worldliness? Could it be that we simply don’t care about profoundly Christian concerns beyond our own land unless they represent efforts to win individual souls to Christ through our flawed approaches to mission?

Look, I believe the free-market is needed to help Africa lift itself up economically and to experience and practice real freedom. But the free-market will not work when the leadership is corrupt and the economy is a disaster because of oppressive governments. The problem is simple–most of the world doesn’t care enough to do anything about Zimbabwe. While we fight a war in Iraq, ostensibly to build freedom and to protect our own national interests and what we believe to be peace in the Middle East, we treat places like Zimbabwe as unimportant at the very best. To my mind, something is very wrong with this picture. Evangelicals need to join their Catholic and mainline Lutheran and Reformed brothers and sisters in resisting Mugabe and fighting for true reform in Zimbabwe. If we will not defend the helpless and the weakest then our witness will be blunted and our prophetic edge, if we still have one left, will be lost entirely.

Pray for Zimbabwean Christians. Better yet, do something about Zimbabwe if you have an opportunity. Your brothers and sisters need you to truly love them. Talking about politics is easy, doing something that saves lives and cultures is what really matters. Consider James 2:12-26. I don’t hear much serious preaching on James in our conservative churches. I fear that I know why. We are American Christians first, and kingdom Christians second, if at all. We love the message of faith, but we shun works of mercy and compassion when it costs us something. Something is very wrong with this picture.

John H. Armstrong is founder and director of ACT 3, a ministry aimed at "encouraging the church, through its leadership, to pursue doctrinal and ethical reformation and to foster spiritual awakening."

John Baird, Canada’s Minister of the Environment, says that following the requirements of the Kyoto protocol would lead to a deep recession in his nation’s economy. Mr. Baird claims that the 6 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions required by Kyoto would lead to a 25 percent increase in Canada’s unemployment rate by 2009. I haven’t researched John Baird, Canada’s economic status as influenced by global warming, or the accuracy of Mr. Baird’s numbers. I’m mostly amused by the close of the BBC article I just read on this matter.

Some opposition MPs and environmentalists countered that Mr Baird’s findings were based on assumptions chosen for their frightening conclusions.

Assumptions chosen for their frightening conclusions? Let’s not forget that we’re daily told that we’re all going to die in 25 years because of fill in the blank which is a direct result of global warming caused by human emission of greenhouse gases.

I wonder if there is a connection between terrorism and global warming. I’ve always imagined the Middle East to be a generally warm place – maybe terrorism is fueled by rising temperatures. I think if I lived in a generally warm place, I would have issues with the West for increasing temperatures too. As it stands, I live in Michigan (it snowed last week) and I don’t have that problem.