What were they thinking?

2007/10/25 at 10:04

A few years ago, Samuel attended a birthday party at an ‘inflatable party zone’ (like this, but not the same one). One of the inflatable toys was a caterpillar through whose body the kids could crawl. They went in under the head and exited via a vertical slit on the back end. It was one of those occasions when I really regretted not having my camera. But that was nothing compared to this (which I found on the internet):
That’s a child psychologist’s money machine.

Maybe I was wrong

2007/10/16 at 09:20

Fred Clark writes today about a new study of perceptions of Christianity in American culture.
Fred excerpts this paragraph from the study:

The study discovered a new image that has steadily grown in prominence over the last decade. Today, the most common perception is that present-day Christianity is “anti-homosexual.” Overall, 91 percent of young non-Christians and 80 percent of young churchgoers say this phrase describes Christianity. As the research probed this perception, non-Christians and Christians explained that beyond their recognition that Christians oppose homosexuality, they believe that Christians show excessive contempt and unloving attitudes towards gays and lesbians. One of the most frequent criticisms of young Christians was that they believe the church has made homosexuality a “bigger sin” than anything else. Moreover, they claim that the church has not helped them apply the biblical teaching on homosexuality to their friendships with gays and lesbians.

I’ve long maintained that the silent majority of Christians–the people in the pews, not the ones on the radio and TV–aren’t really that engaged in the political and religious battle over homosexuality. I have no doubt that most Christians consider homosexual sex acts a sin (which I don’t really agree with), but I’ve assumed that issues closer to home were of greater concern.
So, when I read the paragraph above, I immediately assumed that this perception was shaped by the bigmouths in the media who spout hatred, but who don’t really represent this presumed silent majority. But then, I read on in the article about the study’s report and found this:

David Kinnaman, who is a 12-year-veteran of the Barna team, pointed out some of the unexpected findings of the research. “Going into this three-year project, I assumed that people’s perceptions were generally soft, based on misinformation, and would gradually morph into more traditional views. But then, as we probed why young people had come to such conclusions, I was surprised how much their perceptions were rooted in specific stories and personal interactions with Christians and in churches. When they labeled Christians as judgmental this was not merely spiritual defensiveness. It was frequently the result of truly ‘unChristian’ experiences. We discovered that the descriptions that young people offered of Christianity were more thoughtful, nuanced, and experiential than expected.”

Great. So maybe my presumed silent majority is, in fact, a minority. That’s just depressing in so many ways. It also makes me think that I need to try harder to explain the tolerant and loving version of Christianity to those around me.

Ass on a platter

2007/10/15 at 14:07

As soon as Amazon’s DRM-free MP3 service was launched (see my earlier post), Yahoo! Music’s VP for product development Ian Rogers handed the music industry their collective DRM-laden ass on a platter:

But now, eight years later, Amazon’s finally done what was clearly the right solution in 1999. Music in the format that people actually want it in, with a Web-based experience that’s simple and works with any device. I bought tracks from Amazon (Kevin Drew and No Age), downloaded them, sync’d them to my new iPod Nano, and had them playing in my home audio system (Control 4) in less than five minutes. PRAISE JESUS. It only took 8 years.
8 years. How much opportunity have we lost in those 8 years? How much naivety and hubris did we have when we said, “if we build it they will come”? What did we spend? And what did we gain? We certainly didn’t gain mass user adoption or trust, two prerequisites to success on the Internet.

That’s the most heart-warming ‘Kiss my ass’ I’ve heard in a very long time.

Mental images

2007/10/15 at 08:58

I’m a big fan of the band The Decemberists. I downloaded most of their music that is available on eMusic and purchased their most recent album at a retail store (the only CD I’ve bought since I got my iPod two years ago).
I listen to The Decemberists all the time, but I had never actually seen the band–not even photos. I caught their recent performance on Austin City Limits this weekend, and I was shocked that lead singer Colin Meloy looks nothing like I imagined him.
With his distinctive tenor voice, I’d pictured Colin Meloy as a thin 20-something hipster. Instead, he looks like he’s in his 30s; he’s somewhat heavy set and wears glasses. He looks much more like a fellow parent who I would run into a a PTA meeting. I didn’t realize until I saw him in performance what a strong mental image I’d formed of him. Strange.

Irony…still no pulse

2007/10/05 at 11:02

Not much I can add here:

WASHINGTON – When a team of FBI agents lands in Baghdad this week to probe Blackwater security contractors for murder, it will be protected by bodyguards from the very same firm, the Daily News has learned.
Half a dozen FBI criminal investigators based in Washington are scheduled to travel to Iraq to gather evidence and interview witnesses about a Sept. 16 shooting spree that left at least 11 Iraqi civilians dead.
The agents plan to interview witnesses within the relative safety of the fortified Green Zone, but they will be transported outside the compound by Blackwater armored convoys, a source briefed on the FBI mission said.
“What happens when the FBI team decides to go visit the crime scene? Blackwater is going to have to take them there,” the senior U.S. official told The News.