Digital Dharma

The Middle Path, One Day At A Time


7 Comments

Most Americans believe in God but don’t know religious tenets – USATODAY.com

Americans are clear on God but foggy on facts about faiths.

The new U.S. Religious Knowledge Survey, released today by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, finds that although 86% of us believe in God or a higher power, we don’t know our own traditions or those of neighbors across the street or across the globe.

Most Americans believe in God but don’t know religious tenets – USATODAY.com.


Leave a comment

On Making Friends With A Different Keyboard

I’m an addict — a creature of habit — and I don’t like change.  Little things are bad enough, but when it comes to something that’s such a big part of my life as the keyboard on my computer, I have to be dragged kicking and screaming into the midst of the new experience.  So I’m writing this to get used to a different one.

I took a good look at those “netbooks” one time, and it only took a few seconds of typing on that 90% full-sized workspace to convince me that it wasn’t going to be a go.  For a man my size I don’t have especially big hands, but given the problems I had, I find it difficult to understand how anyone but a child or a small woman could possibly navigate around one of those things.  I stopped hunting-and-pecking more than 50 years ago, and I’m too old to relearn the process.  Having to do it on my Droid is bad enough — that’s why I love the voice recognition feature.  I’m willing to put up with the downside: improper punctuation and capitalization, and the occasional unrecognizable word that has to be entered from scratch, in order not to have to put up with either the onscreen or physical keyboard.

I learned to type on a 1938 model Remington Noiseless typewriter.  You know.  The kind where you had to push the keys down and actually make those things fly forward to strike the ribbon and imprint the letters onto the paper.  No spell checker, no copy/paste/delete.  No instant corrections.  What you got was pretty much what got sent out.  If you needed a copy, you used carbon paper — nasty, flimsy sheets with black stuff on one side that went between two sheets and transferred the key-strikes onto the second sheet for a (none-too-satisfactory) copy of the original.

At that, it beat writing by hand, especially the way I wrote back then.  When I got to college I discovered that many times I couldn’t read my own handwritten notes, so I finally taught myself to write neatly.  Took a lot of work, but it was worth the trouble.  So did learning to type, but my god!  When I think of the millions of words I’ve put on paper and screens since those days when I was made to sit and practice typing the way other kids practiced the piano, I thank my lucky stars that I was made to learn it.  I’ve since become mushy in the same sort of way about the people who forced me to learn good English, spelling, grammar and punctuation.  I know those skills have pretty-much fallen into disrepute with the younger crowd, and that’s not OK.  As you move up the ladder of life, kiddies, folks will judge you more and more on your ability to communicate according to the rules.  That’s what separates the men and women of business from the adolescents.

Well, so much for that.  I got a blog entry out of this, when all I intended to do was type “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog” a few times.  You just never know.


1 Comment

Letters of Note

Letters of note is a remarkable collection of — well — notes and letters, from famous people to a variety of recipients, from Elvis’ form letter to his fans when he was in the Army, to Marlon Brando’s affectionate letter to Tennessee Williams.  Originals are shown, but also transcriptions (which in some cases is a very good thing).

Be prepared to waste a lot of time.  But maybe it’s not such a waste, after all.

http://www.lettersofnote.com/

Powered by ScribeFire.


Leave a comment

The Happiest People

Op-Ed Columnist – The Happiest People – NYTimes.com

What sets Costa Rica apart is its remarkable decision in 1949 to dissolve its armed forces and invest instead in education. Increased schooling created a more stable society, less prone to the conflicts that have raged elsewhere in Central America. Education also boosted the economy, enabling the country to become a major exporter of computer chips and improving English-language skills so as to attract American eco-tourists.


Leave a comment

William Safire’s Top 18 Rules For Writers

Mr. Safire, who for many years wrote the “On Language” column for The New York Times, died on Sunday, 09/27/09.  I learned a lot from reading his work over the years.  These 18 rules may be his greatest legacy.  Along with Strunk and White, they comprise most of the rules needed by a careful writer.

  1. Remember to never split an infinitive.
  2. The passive voice should never be used.
  3. Do not put statements in the negative form.
  4. Verbs has to agree with their subjects.
  5. Proofread carefully to see if you words out.
  6. If you reread your work, you can find on rereading a great deal of repetition can be avoided by rereading and editing.
  7. A writer must not shift your point of view.
  8. And don’t start a sentence with a conjunction.  (Remember, too, a preposition is a terrible word to end a sentence with.)
  9. Don’t overuse exclamation marks!!
  10. Place pronouns as close as possible, especially in long sentences of ten or more words, to their antecedents.
  11. Writing carefully, dangling participles must be avoided.
  12. If any word is improper at the end of a sentence, a linking verb is.
  13. Take the bull by the hand and avoid mixed metaphors.
  14. Avoid trendy locutions that sound flaky.
  15. Everyone should be careful to use a singular pronoun with singular nouns in their writing.
  16. Always pick on the correct idiom.
  17. The adverb always follows the verb.
  18. Last but not least, avoid cliches like the plague; seek viable alternatives.

From How Not to Write: The Essential Misrules of Grammar, Safire, William, 2005.


Leave a comment

Time to acknowledge science’s debt to Islam? – science-in-society – 25 February 2009 – New Scientist

While the Islamic world was enjoying astronomy, philosophy and medicine, those in Europe could not tell the hours of the day, thought the Earth was flat, and saw disease as punishment from God, says Jonathan Lyons in The House of Wisdom. That changed after the Crusades, set in motion by Pope Urban II at the end of the 11th century, which resulted in a spectacular growth in trade and communication between east and west. Knowledge that had taken centuries to build was unleashed on an unsuspecting Europe.

via Time to acknowledge science’s debt to Islam? – science-in-society – 25 February 2009 – New Scientist.


Leave a comment

On ‘Darwin Day,’ many Americans begged to differ | csmonitor.com

Two centuries after the famed naturalist’s birth, more than 40 percent of Americans believe human beings were created by God in their present form, according to recent polls from Gallup and the Pew Research Center – a view impossible to reconcile with evolution propelled by natural selection.

Such creationist beliefs lack scientific merit, educators say, and in classrooms evolution reigns supreme. Opponents have tried an array of challenges over the decades, and the latest tactic recently scored its first major victory. It’s a tack that is changing the way the cultural battle over evolution is fought.

http://www.csmonitor.com/2009/0212/p01s03-ussc.html


Leave a comment

The ‘Evidence for Belief’

The ‘Evidence for Belief’: An Interview with Francis Collins

If you see God as the creator of the universe – in all of its amazing complexity, diversity and awesome beauty – then science, which is, of course, a means of exploring nature, also becomes a means of exploring God’s creative abilities. And so, for me, as a scientist who is also a religious believer, research activities that look like science can also be thought of as opportunities to worship.


1 Comment

In the Basement of the Ivory Tower — Professor X

I work part-time in the evenings as an adjunct instructor of English. I teach two courses, Introduction to College Writing (English 101) and Introduction to College Literature (English 102), at a small private college and at a community college. The campuses are physically lovely—quiet havens of ornate stonework and columns, Gothic Revival archways, sweeping quads, and tidy Victorian scalloping. Students chat or examine their cell phones or study languidly under spreading trees. Balls click faintly against bats on the athletic fields.

Inside the arts and humanities building, my students and I discuss Shakespeare, Dubliners, poetic rhythms, and Edward Said. We might seem, at first glance, to be enacting some sort of college idyll. We could be at Harvard. But this is not Harvard, and our classes are no idyll. Beneath the surface of this serene and scholarly mise-en-scène roil waters of frustration and bad feeling, for these colleges teem with students who are in over their heads…..

In the Basement of the Ivory Tower – The Atlantic (June 2008)


Leave a comment

Brazil becomes antipoverty showcase

The country’s Bolsa Familia program – which pays poor mothers to keep their children in school and follow healthcare rules – is reducing poverty.

Brazil becomes antipoverty showcase | csmonitor.com

Of course, it costs too much for the richest country in the world to do anything like that.  Besides, who wants poor people who can read, write, think for themselves and see through lies?


Leave a comment

Literacy Is The Next Big Step Toward A True Democratic Election In The US

Forget Red vs. Blue — It’s the Educated vs. People Easily Fooled by Propaganda | Media and Technology | AlterNet

We live in two Americas. One America, now the minority, functions in a print-based, literate world. It can cope with complexity and has the intellectual tools to separate illusion from truth. The other America, which constitutes the majority, exists in a non-reality-based belief system. This America, dependent on skillfully manipulated images for information, has severed itself from the literate, print-based culture. It cannot differentiate between lies and truth. It is informed by simplistic, childish narratives and cliches. It is thrown into confusion by ambiguity, nuance and self-reflection. This divide, more than race, class or gender, more than rural or urban, believer or nonbeliever, red state or blue state, has split the country into radically distinct, unbridgeable and antagonistic entities.

There are over 42 million American adults, 20 percent of whom hold high school diplomas, who cannot read, as well as the 50 million who read at a fourth- or fifth-grade level. Nearly a third of the nation’s population is illiterate or barely literate. And their numbers are growing by an estimated 2 million a year. But even those who are supposedly literate retreat in huge numbers into this image-based existence. A third of high school graduates, along with 42 percent of college graduates, never read a book after they finish school. Eighty percent of the families in the United States last year did not buy a book.

The illiterate rarely vote…. AlterNet


2 Comments

So, What Have You Done Lately?

I don’t care what George Bush does.  He’s a loose cannon, but he will do what he will do, no one can stop him, and it will go down in history along with his failed legacy and whatever he manages to make of the rest of his life.

The same is true of any further Sarah Palin shenanigans.  She has had her fifteen minutes.  If her followers are foolish enough to try elevating her further, it will simply make her an easy target for more skilled thinkers and doers.  I will not consign her to being a Nobody, for we are all more than that, but unless she again threatens my country she’s not very interesting, and I won’t be paying much attention to her from now on.

As for John McCain — Continue reading


Leave a comment

Hyperpolitics

How social networking is changing — and will continue to change — the world.

Somewhere in the last few months, half the population of the planet became mobile telephone subscribers. In a decade’s time we’ve gone from half the world having never made a telephone call to half the world owning their own mobile.

Edge 252