Saturday, March 27, 2010

piano lovers

if you grew up playing the piano or have a love of classical music, check out this article from slate. and give a listen to the distinctive sounds from the two different pianos. quite amazing. enjoy...

love it.

Friday, March 12, 2010

great nytimes article...


Learning From the Sin of Sodom

Published: February 27, 2010

For most of the last century, save-the-worlders were primarily Democrats and liberals. In contrast, many Republicans and religious conservatives denounced government aid programs, with Senator Jesse Helms calling them “money down a rat hole.”

Over the last decade, however, that divide has dissolved, in ways that many Americans haven’t noticed or appreciated. Evangelicals have become the new internationalists, pushing successfully for new American programs against AIDS and malaria, and doing superb work on issues from human trafficking in India to mass rape in Congo.

A pop quiz: What’s the largest U.S.-based international relief and development organization?

It’s not Save the Children, and it’s not CARE — both terrific secular organizations. Rather, it’s World Vision, a Seattle-based Christian organization (with strong evangelical roots) whose budget has roughly tripled over the last decade.

World Vision now has 40,000 staff members in nearly 100 countries. That’s more staff members than CARE, Save the Children and the worldwide operations of the United States Agency for International Development — combined.

A growing number of conservative Christians are explicitly and self-critically acknowledging that to be “pro-life” must mean more than opposing abortion. The head of World Vision in the United States, Richard Stearns, begins his fascinating book, “The Hole in Our Gospel,” with an account of a visit a decade ago to Uganda, where he met a 13-year-old AIDS orphan who was raising his younger brothers by himself.

“What sickened me most was this question: where was the Church?” he writes. “Where were the followers of Jesus Christ in the midst of perhaps the greatest humanitarian crisis of our time? Surely the Church should have been caring for these ‘orphans and widows in their distress.’ (James 1:27). Shouldn’t the pulpits across America have flamed with exhortations to rush to the front lines of compassion?

“How have we missed it so tragically, when even rock stars and Hollywood actors seem to understand?”

Mr. Stearns argues that evangelicals were often so focused on sexual morality and a personal relationship with God that they ignored the needy. He writes laceratingly about “a Church that had the wealth to build great sanctuaries but lacked the will to build schools, hospitals, and clinics.”

In one striking passage, Mr. Stearns quotes the prophet Ezekiel as saying that the great sin of the people of Sodom wasn’t so much that they were promiscuous or gay as that they were “arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy.” (Ezekiel 16:49.)

Hmm. Imagine if sodomy laws could be used to punish the stingy, unconcerned rich!

The American view of evangelicals is still shaped by preening television blowhards and hypocrites who seem obsessed with gays and fetuses. One study cited in the book found that even among churchgoers ages 16 to 29, the descriptions most associated with Christianity were “antihomosexual,” “judgmental,” “too involved in politics,” and “hypocritical.”

Some conservative Christians reinforced the worst view of themselves by inspiring Ugandan homophobes who backed a bill that would punish gays with life imprisonment or execution. Ditto for the Vatican, whose hostility to condoms contributes to the AIDS epidemic. But there’s more to the picture: I’ve also seen many Catholic nuns and priests heroically caring for AIDS patients — even quietly handing out condoms.

One of the most inspiring figures I’ve met while covering Congo’s brutal civil war is a determined Polish nun in the terrifying hinterland, feeding orphans, standing up to drunken soldiers and comforting survivors — all in a war zone. I came back and decided: I want to grow up and become a Polish nun.

Some Americans assume that religious groups offer aid to entice converts. That’s incorrect. Today, groups like World Vision ban the use of aid to lure anyone into a religious conversation.

Some liberals are pushing to end the longtime practice (it’s a myth that this started with President George W. Bush) of channeling American aid through faith-based organizations. That change would be a catastrophe. In Haiti, more than half of food distributions go through religious groups like World Vision that have indispensable networks on the ground. We mustn’t make Haitians the casualties in our cultural wars.

A root problem is a liberal snobbishness toward faith-based organizations. Those doing the sneering typically give away far less money than evangelicals. They’re also less likely to spend vacations volunteering at, say, a school or a clinic in Rwanda.

If secular liberals can give up some of their snootiness, and if evangelicals can retire some of their sanctimony, then we all might succeed together in making greater progress against common enemies of humanity, like illiteracy, human trafficking and maternal mortality.

Thursday, March 11, 2010


ripped this off of a Jim Welp article...enjoy

How many tea party patriots does it take to change a lightbulb? Ten million and five: One to go to Wal-Mart and buy a lightbulb (and a gun because he’s going to the store anyway), one to scoff at global climate change, one to draw a rally poster making fun of Al Gore, one to complain about the socialist conspiracy to bring light to all Americans, one to change the bulb, and 10 million to sit in the dark even though the light is on.

“Knock, knock.” “Who’s there?” “A communist-fascist dictator.” “That’s impossible — communism and fascism are at opposite ends of the philosophical spectrum.” “You’re supposed to say ‘a communist-fascist dictator who.’” “Fine. A communist-fascist dictator who?” “Oh, never mind. You’ve ruined the joke. I’ll go next door to the tea party patriot’s house.”

What do Fox News and pâté have in common? They’re both popular with crackers.

Did you hear about the new e-Beck from Amazon? When you click “download” it whines about socialism for an hour and then breaks into tears.

What’s the difference between Cinemax After Dark and a tea bag convention? One’s a show about people who are agitated over stimulus packages and the other is a group of people with their mouths full of balls.

Why did the tea party patriot miss the anti-tax meeting? She was too busy driving on taxpayer-funded roads, sending her kids to public school, living in a safe neighborhood, drinking clean water, breathing clean air, enjoying public parks, using public lands, buying safe products, eating inspected food, and enjoying countless other services funded by tax dollars, but this isn’t shaping up like much of a punch line, so let’s say she ate so many bologna and cheese Hot Pockets that she was too fat to fit into the public library meeting room.

Why did the tea party militia fail to stop the spread of socialism? Because they forgot to write “Ready, Aim, Fire!” on the palms of their hands.

Why couldn’t the tea party patriot afford to go to the NRA rally? Because he spent all his money buying unlicensed guns at the flea market.

What’s the difference between Tiger Woods and a tea party patriot? One’s a half-black linksman with ass on his mind and the other’s a half-assed thinksman with blacks on his mind.

A liberal, a conservative and a tea party patriot appear on “Good Morning America.” George Stuffenenvelopes asks them how they’d solve the economic crisis. The liberal says, “We should tax the rich and provide health care for all.” The conservative says, “We should cut taxes on the rich and run up huge deficits on endless wars.” The tea party patriot says, “We should neither tax nor borrow nor spend. We should drill, baby, drill before the Nazi death panelists take away our freedom and destroy the nation. Abortion! Terrorism! Ditto! Git-R-Done! Obamanation! Freedom! Pit bull! Dale Earnhardt!” Noticing that the conservative has been violently twisting the tea party patriot’s nipples, George Snuffleuppegus says, “What’s going on?” The conservative says, “Oh, sorry about that. I was just tuning my AM radio.”

Mankind finally destroys the planet, and Sarah Palin, John Yarmuth and Barack Obama all arrive at the pearly gates at the same time. When Palin steps forward, St. Peter says, “I’m sorry, ma’am. This will probably come as a shock to you: No Christians are allowed in heaven.” Yarmuth steps forward and says, “What about me? I’m not a Christian.” St. Peter says, “Sorry, sir, no Americans are allowed either. The Lord has ruled that absolutely no Christians and no Americans are allowed into the kingdom of heaven.” And Barack Obama goes, “SWEET!”

George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin and a tea party patriot walk into a bar. The bartender says, “I’m surprised to see you guys together!” The tea party patriot says, “Why are you surprised? All of my beliefs are based on the principles of the Founding Fathers!” Jefferson says, “Indeed, I wrote, ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal’ while schtupping my slaves.” Washington says, “I too was a slaveholder. And as ‘father of our country,’ I led the military against my own citizens in the Whiskey Rebellion because they refused to pay taxes.” And Franklin says, “Yeah, I pretended to be a Puritan, yet rarely attended church and fathered an illegitimate son.” The bartender says, “So what you have in common is that you’re all hypocrites?” “No,” says Franklin. “What we have in common is that we’re all living in the 18th century.”