Digital Dharma

The Middle Path, One Day At A Time

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Outrage fatigue? Get over it

“…On the one hand, it is, you can argue, generally the way of the meaner-than-thou blogosphere, with all but the most professional and intelligent and positive-minded of outposts seeming to suffer an undue percentage of reactionary chyme in their comment areas, hordes of Net-drunk twentysomethings and extremists and shut-ins who have way too much free time and merely chime in to see their sneers “published” and to prove how much more jaded and apathetic they are than the next person, while adding zero to the conversation.

“But maybe it’s worse than that. Because this is where it can happen, where you can get sucked into the vortex of whining and bitterness and where you might feel part of yourself wanting to wallow too, desiring to avoid doing the actual moral and spiritual work of dissecting and researching and analysing something as politically messy and morally ugly as torture for yourself, opting instead for the easy path, for closing your eyes and sticking your fingers in your ears and going, nyah nyah nyah shut up shut up SHUT UP! Hey, it sure beats thinking. …”

Outrage fatigue? Get over it / Are you sick of being sick? Suffering way too much Bush-induced nausea? Well, tough

I suppose he’s right, in principle, but he misses the point of his own column.  The whiners are the people who complain but offer no solutions — precisely what he’s done himself on many occasions, including this one.

Outrage predisposes us to not look for the compromises that will lead to solutions.  I prefer thinkers who look at the reality of the situation: that there are two sides, that there always will be, and that the answers will all be found someplace toward the middle, and not by painting the issues black and white.

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Target Stores to Phase Out Vinyl Plastic Products

The retail chain is been persuaded by the arguments of the New York-based Center for Health, Environment and Justice and a coalition of health and environmental organizations that mounted an anti-PVC campaign in October 2006, complete with a blowup plastic yellow duck that is displayed at protest actions in front of stores

Testing has detected toxic lead and phthalates and in a broad range of PVC consumer products, including toys, lunchboxes, baby bibs, jewelry, garden hoses, mini blinds, Christmas trees, and electronics.

Target Stores to Phase Out Vinyl Plastic Products

There are even more cogent (although less compelling) arguments against PVC.

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Biofuels Are No Cure for Climate Change

We’re being battered left and right with ominous news about climate change, so the idea of filling our tanks and heating our homes with biofuels is naturally comforting. Biofuels sound green. They’re made from things that were once green—corn, palm oil, sugar cane and other agricultural products. And they’re being touted as green. A Department of Energy’s resource page for biofuels says, “Hey students! Biofuels such as bioethanol and biodiesel can make a big difference in improving our environment.”

But don’t judge a climate cure by its color. Give it a rub, and you’ll find that the term ‘biofuels’ is actually obscuring an insidious reality. For that reason, many people, especially in the global South, have taken to calling them “agrofuels.”

Biofuels Are No Cure for Climate Change — In These Times


Is child-porn law too broad?

Under a 2003 child-pornography law, Congress empowered federal agents to arrest anyone for advertising, promoting, presenting, distributing, or soliciting material in a manner that is “intended to cause another to believe” that the material is illegal child pornography. The law applies even if the underlying material isn’t actually child pornography.

US Solicitor General Paul Clement says the law, a section of the Protect Act, is a carefully calibrated effort by Congress to safeguard children from sexual exploitation by targeting those who would traffic in child pornography.

Critics say the law is a vague and over-broad regulation of free speech that threatens to establish the federal government as a kind of thought police. They say the government should punish illegal conduct, not controversial – or even repulsive – thoughts and fantasies. In addition, they say the law could chill artistic, literary, scientific, and other forms of protected speech.

Thinkers only, please.  Those with knee-jerks should pad their chins before reading.

Is child-porn law too broad? |

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The Call For Peace

Wars have plagued civilization since the beginning of time and especially in the aftermath of World Wars I and II, the call for nations to disarm, or at least hold their armies at bay, has intensified. The desire to take a peaceful route to the resolution of conflicts is echoed in the will of Alfred Nobel, and in the voices of Nobel Peace Prize Laureates, whose Nobel Lectures are presented as highlights this week on

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Burning in Hell with Harry Potter

I know that many Christians take the fingers-in-the-ears-and-say-la-la-la-la approach to other religions, but I think it is important to understand even if you do not agree. And I don’t want to push my religion on my children. I want them to be exposed to all the choices. I want them to understand the controversy.


The Paranoid Style: Conspiracy Theories Explored

Conspiracy theories are everywhere in America. From the assassination of President Kennedy to whether Neil Armstrong actually
landed on the moon to concerns about adding fluoride to drinking water,
wild-eyed and unsubstantiated theories have been part and parcel of the
American political experience. Historian Richard Hofstadter, writing in
a 1965 essay, famously described this phenomenon as “the paranoid style
in American politics.”

The paranoid style came dramatically back
to public attention in the 1990s, when the then-swelling militia
movement seized upon a speech by the first President Bush about a
post-Cold War “new world order” to suggest that Bush really was
describing a takeover of America by nefarious “one-world government”

AlterNet: Rights and Liberties: The Paranoid Style: Conspiracy Theories Explored

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Parishioners refuse to let primacy rule erode unity

In 36 years as a Lutheran minister, the Rev. Alfred C. Acer has had his sermon interrupted by spontaneous applause exactly twice.

Significantly, he said, one of the occasions came not long ago as he stood at the pulpit of a Catholic church, Our Lady Star of the Sea, in Long Branch.

“I said to that congregation, ‘Here I am, a Lutheran pastor, preaching at the pulpit at Star of the Sea, and 30 years ago I wouldn’t have been let in the door,”‘ he recalled. Nor, for that matter, were Protestant churches in the habit of opening their doors to Catholic priests a generation ago.

For Acer, senior pastor of the Lutheran Church of the Reformation, West Long Branch, the warm reception he got that day underscores how far Protestant-Catholic relations have come in the 42 years since the end of the Second Vatican Council, which among other things recommitted the Catholic Church to the goal of ecumenism, or worldwide unity among Christian believers. …
Courier News Online – Parishioners refuse to let primacy rule erode unity

Just a personal comment: I think the Pope’s statement, in a world that is already divided tragically along religious lines, is irresponsible and the epitome of immoral conduct.

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The Rise and Fall of Immigration Reform

Drew Westen: Speaking the Right Language about People Who Don’t Speak our Language: The Rise and Fall of Immigration Reform – Politics on The Huffington Post

To be compelling, and to defuse the morality tale on immigration of the right and righteous, our story needs to begin with the most important truth, for which we needed no reminder this week from London and Glasgow, that the protection of our borders and safety is the first task of government. It then needs to steal the thunder from the right that readily reverberates through the middle by adding to the incantation, “If they’re going to live in our country, they need to learn to speak our language,” the simple, progressive, and quintessentially American phrase, “because if they don’t, their children will never know the American Dream, and we will have done nothing for them but to relegate them to second-class citizenship.”

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Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell A Major Issue Before Primaries

For ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’ Split on Party Lines – New York Times

In back-to-back debates in New Hampshire this week, every Democratic candidate raised his or her hand in support of repealing that policy, while not a single Republican embraced the idea. Democrats argued with striking unanimity that it was time to end the uneasy compromise that President Bill Clinton reached in 1993, after his attempt to lift the ban on gay men and lesbians in the military provoked one of the most wrenching fights of his young administration.

Republicans countered that the policy should not be changed, certainly not in time of war.

Hello?  When do you need all the help you can get — wartime, or peace time?  KNEE-JERK ALERT

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Putin Proposes Joint Missile Shield

Putin Surprises Bush With Plan on Missile Shield – New York Times

ROSTOCK, Germany, June 7 — After months of angrily rejecting a White House plan for missile defense in Europe, President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia surprised President Bush on Thursday with an offer to build a joint system in the former Soviet Republic of Azerbaijan. Skip to next paragraph Related At Group of 8 Meeting, Bush Rebuffs Germany on Cutting Emissions (June 7, 2007) Enlarge This Image Ralph Orlowski/Getty Images President Vladimir Putin of Russia, Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany and President Bush at the Group of 8 meeting today in Heiligendamm, Germany.

The proposed system, designed to guard against a missile attack from Iran, poses serious diplomatic and technical challenges, experts said. But the fact that it was suggested by Mr. Putin, and not immediately rejected by Mr. Bush, indicated a desire on both sides to cool the hostile exchanges that in recent months had driven relations to a low point in the post-cold-war era.

Thas’ good. I’d like to see global warming solved, but not by a nuclear winter.