Archive for September, 2012

The Five Worst Problems In America Today–Revisited

Tomorrow will mark one year since I posted “The Five Worst Problems In America Today and the One Thing We Can Do About Them.”  It has been the most consistently popular post on this site; though it ranks second in total hits (after “50 Things New Teachers Need To Know“), the majority of those hits didn’t come as soon as it was published.  Rather, its popularity has actually grown over time, garnering most of its reads within the last three months.  It now accounts for nearly 10% of all traffic in the history of this site.

I think that merits looking back over the last twelve months and seeing what developments have occurred in the five areas I identified.

#5: Government Size and Spending

My worries of April 2008 seem quaint now.  For example, in the original post, I lamented that China owned ”nearly $500 billion of our debt.”  The number today: nearly $740 billion.

And remember how I ended that section?  The big shock was the fact that the government was planning a bailout that could cost taxpayers up to…$25 billion!  Today, that sounds like the scene in Austin Powers when 60′s-era Dr. Evil tried to extort the 21st century United Nations for…one million dollars!

It’s actually difficult to pin down an exact number for how much the government has spent in bailouts since then, but considering that a list I put together recently put George Bush’s 2008 total alone at $1.1 trillion, and before he even took office, CNN was figuring several trillion morefor Obama’s plans, I think it’s safe to say that trillion is the new billion.

And does anyone think the bailout craze is over?  When will it end?  And when has the government ever done anything within budget, anyway?

#4: Individual Fiscal Irresponsibility

While Uncle Sam keeps burning through dollars faster than he can print them, the American people, on balance, may actually be doing better than they were a year ago.  I was greatly impressed by this story from MSNBC that shows us spending less and saving more.  That would be wonderfully heartening, and I hope it’s true.  I’m not aware of any major stories that contradict that possibility.

#3: Decline of Morality in the Media

Hollywood gave us some pretty awful stuff in the last twelve months, but I can’t think of anything that broke any bold new ground in depravity, especially compared with what the mainstream has been forced to put up with in recent years.

Perhaps the worst transgression of the media last year was its slobbering, worshipful devotion to Barack Obama.  2008 may well be remembered as the year that journalism truly died.  However, as much as conservatives love a good anti-media jeremiad, it’s also true that alternative, capitalist media are abundant and easy to find, and it’s also even true that there are some signs that the mainstream media may well report more fairly on Obama.

#2: Decline of Literacy and Education

While I didn’t read any new studies in the last twelve months that indicate bold frontiers in intellectual decline, there sadly don’t appear to be any ameliorating factors, either.  This stock is holding steady at two cents a share.

#1: Decline of the Traditional Family

I’d be hard pressed to say which category saw more “progress” downward in the last twelve months: #5 or #1.  While the government’s profligate spending ballooned to hundreds of times what anyone could have predicted, the assault on America’s homes made quantum leaps forward.

The biggest indicator here, of course, was California’s Proposition 8, which restored the normal definition of marriage after it had been briefly hijacked by countercultural activists, but did so by a fairly narrow margin.  Far worse than the controversy itself was its treatment across the nation, as defenders of traditional marriage were demonized, harassed, and, in some cases, physically attacked.

The single incident that best encapsulated the ongoing anti-family trend was June’s revelation that 17 girls at a Massachusetts high school had made a “pregnancy pact,” and planned to raise their fatherless babies together.  They even went to extremely dangerous lengths in order to get pregnant.  An extreme case, but indicative of the larger culture’s mindset.

Speaking of which, of course, there was also Octomom.  ‘Nuff said.

On the plus side, birth rates are going up, so much so that 2007 marked what could now be called another Baby Boom.  Now, if only more of those births weren’t happening to unwed mothers and teenagers.

Conclusion: The One Thing We Can Do

I remain convinced that the only path to civilizational renewal is a return to orthodox religiosity.  Unfortunately, reliable research shows that America has become less religious than ever.  (Perhaps this deserves its own category in my list of top five problems?)

Has there ever been a cultural restoration that wasn’t grounded in morality, frugality, literacy, and piety?

Still, the promises of God are sure, and as we come to Him with our weaknesses, we will be healed and saved:

Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.


 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.


 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

10 Most Corrupt Countries in the World


Corruption is a big problem across the world and here are 10 most corrupt countries in the world that The Daily Beast named. Surprisingly India hasn’t made it to the list.

1. Uzbekistan:

Topping the corruption list is Uzbekistan. It is one of the fastest growing countries in Central Asia. Its economy relies mainly on production of cotton, gold, uranium, potassium, natural gas and petroleum. However, corruption and bureaucracy remains a major hurdle for further expansion. In spite of strong GDP growth rates, more than 40 percent of the population lives below poverty line.

The Corruption Index of Uzbekistan is 89.6 out of 100. On other factors, out of a total of 10 the rating is as follows-Public Perception of Corruption is 8.4, the Corruption of the Press is 9.4, Political Rights Corruption and Civil Liberties Corruption is 10 each and Business Disclosure Opacity is 7

3. Laos:

Ranking third on the list is Laos. It is a single-party socialist republic and is a member of the Asia-Pacific Trade Agreement (APTA) and Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

The Corruption Index in Laos is 87.8, while the Public Perception of Corruption is 7.8 and Corruption of the Press is rated 8.5. The Political Rights Corruption is rated 10, Civil Liberties Corruption is rated 8.6 and Business Disclosure Opacity is rated 9.

4. Afghanistan

Afghanistan ranks fourth on the list. It is one of the poorest countries in the world, and the last few decades of war have gravely disrupted its mainly agricultural economy. Moreover “transparent” is not an apt description of the general business culture of Afghanistan as corruption and collusion between government and business is believed to be commonplace. The businesses there negotiate a maze of bribes, taxes and murky government requirements.

The Corruption Index is 86.3. The Public Perception of Corruption is 8.5, Corruption of the Press is rated 7.5, Political Rights Corruption and Civil Liberties Corruption is 8.6 each. The Business Disclosure Opacity is rated 10.


5. Equatorial Guinea:

Equatorial Guinea is a small country off West Africa and ranks fifth on the list.

The Corruption Index of Equatorial Guinea is 84.2 out of 100. The ratings on factors like Public Perception of Corruption, Corruption of the Press, Political Rights Corruption, Civil Liberties Corruption and Business Disclosure Opacity is 8.1, 9, 10, 10 and 5 respectively.

6. Belarus:

Belarus ranks sixth on the corruption list and has a Corruption Index of 83 out of 100.

The Public Perception of Corruption is rated 7.6, Corruption of the Press is 9.3, Political Rights Corruption is rated 10, Civil Liberties Corruption is 8.6 and Business Disclosure Opacity is 6.


7. Democratic Republic of Congo:

Democratic Republic of Congo is located in Central Africa and it ranks seventh on the list as it sees a high rate of corruption.

The Corruption Index of Democratic Republic of Congo is 82.5. Its Public Perception of Corruption is rated 8, Corruption of the Press is 8.1, Political Rights Corruption is 8.6, Civil Liberties Corruption is 8.6 and Business Disclosure Opacity is 8.

8. Swaziland:

Swaziland is a small country and the Corruption Index of Swaziland is 81.3. It ranks eighth on the corruption list.

The Public Perception of Corruption is 6.9, Corruption of the Press is rated 7.6, Political Rights Corruption is 10, Civil Liberties Corruption is 7.2 and Business Disclosure Opacity is rated 9.


9. Iran:

Iran takes the ninth position on the list with a Corruption Index of 79.1.

Its Public Perception of Corruption is rated 7.3, Corruption of the Press is rated 9.1, Political Rights Corruption and Civil Liberties Corruption is 8.6 each, while Business Disclosure Opacity is rated 6 on a scale of 10.

10. Ethiopia:

Ethiopia takes the tenth position on the corruption list.

The Corruption Index of Ethiopia is 78.5. The country’s Public Perception of Corruption is 7.3, Corruption of the Press is 7.8, Political Rights Corruption is rated 8.6, Civil Liberties Corruption is 8.6 and Business Disclosure Opacity is 7.


2. Eritrea:

Eritrea ranks second on the world’s most corrupt country list. It is a small economy in the Horn of Africa. Its output is based on subsistence agriculture, with 80 percent of the population involved in farming and herding. The economy is dependent on worker remittances from abroad which constitute more than 30 percent of GDP. Yet pervasive corruption continues to erode the foundations of economic freedom.

Eritrea has a Corruption Index of 87.8 out of 100.Its Public Perception of Corruption is rated 7.5, Corruption of the Press is 9.4, Political Rights Corruption and Civil Liberties Corruption is 10 each and Business Disclosure Opacity is 7.


Nokia launches Lumia 900 in India, Priced at Rs 32,999

In the past, phones were largely measured and compared by a few factors: ease of use, signal strength and the quality of the calls. However, over the years, phones have become smarter and do more, and there are now other components on the phone that are starting to be used to measure their quality. Many of us would probably put the display towards the top of the list. The display’s quality, its brightness, the viewing angle, the ability to be read in all lighting conditions, are all important. So it’s no surprise that one of the big talking points for the new devices launched at Nokia World 2010 was a new technology known as ClearBlack display.

ClearBlack display isn’t a completely new type of display technology like AMOLED. It’s actually a method to reduce reflections on the screen and improve visual image quality, especially outdoors. ClearBlack ensures that the blacks you see really are just that – black – which in turn enhances the contrast of the display and makes the whole screen much easier to see. This will be especially useful for apps like Ovi Maps, which are likely to be used outside. Also, sharing pictures or other items on-screen with others will be a lot easier due to the technology that enables excellent viewing angles.

The effect of the ClearBlack display technology is similar to that produced by a pair of polarising sunglasses. If you look at a body of water on a sunny day without a pair of polarising glasses, it’s really hard to see anything below the surface, but with the glasses on, the reflections are eliminated and you can see underneath the surface. In the same way, without ClearBlack display, you see the reflections on the phone’s screen, but with it you see the image on the screen. However, unlike sunglasses, ClearBlack display improves the vividness of the colors: in fact, because the contrast is higher, they’ll seem more vivid.

Another useful feature of this technology is also that the viewing angle of the device’s display is improved, so sharing pictures or other items on-screen will be a lot easier.

Here’s a picture of the Nokia C6-01 with ClearBlack display, alongside an early prototype of the same device without it:

Effectively, with ClearBlack display your device is able to provide a high quality image in any type of situation, indoors, outdoors, low-light and bright-light. ClearBlack display adjusts the brightness automatically to optimum level depending on the conditions you are in.

Another advantage is that by improving the image quality, and reducing the need to turn up the brightness, you also reduce the energy needed to power the display, and hence reduce the battery drain compared to regular technology, and so your mobile device will last longer between charges. Of the new Symbian^3 phones, the Nokia C6-01, and the Nokia E7 both have the very latest ClearBlack display technology. Take a look at this video demonstration of the forthcoming E7 to get an idea of just how effective this new technology is.

We hope to be able to post another video demonstrating and explaining ClearBlack display next week.

[Update: I’ve changed the reference to Polaroid sunglasses to “polarising sunglasses”. I thought the reference to the best-known brand associated with these glasses would make it easier to understand. But it seems instead to have been more confusing.]

The List of Current Controversial Issues of 2012


  • Activism
  • Affirmative Action
  • Antibiotic Resistance
  • Arsenic in Drinking Water
  • Bioethical Issues
  • Birth Control and
    • Reproductive Rights
    • Death Penalty and Offenders with Mental Retardation
    • Capitalism
    • Capital Punishment
    • Censorship
    • Child Injury Deaths
    • Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA)
    • Teen Drinking
    • Teenage Pregnancy
    • Consumer Health
    • Corporations and Human Rights
    • Death Penalty
    • Democracy as Class Struggle
    • Democracy for the Few
    • New and Reemerging Diseases
    • Domestic Violence
    • Drug war/legalization
    • US Economy
    • Standardized Testing in Education Environmental Health
    • Ethics
    • Fascism
    • Feudalism alias American Capitalism
    • First Amendment Center
    • Freedom of Religion or Belief
    • Gender Issues
    • Gender & Sexism
    • Global Issues that Affect Everyone
    • Global warming
    • Globalization (economic)
    • Arguments Against Gun Control
    • Arguments For Gun Control
    • Hackers
    • Health Care Reform
    • Holocaust
    • Human Rights
    • International Religious Freedom
    • Internet Issues
    • Internet Speech
    • American History
    • Manipulation of the Media
    • Marijuana
    • The Media is the Mess
    • The Men Who Sold the Moon
    • MidEast Web for Coexistence Military Facts
    • National Issues
    • National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML)
    • Nuclear Issues
    • The Pentagon’s Spies
    • Police Brutality and Accountability
    • Poverty
    • Poverty and Welfare
    • Identity Theft
    • Immigration
    • Racism
    • Right to Die/Euthanasia
    • Sex Education
    • Sexual Orientation
    • Sexual Victimization of College Women
    • Slavery
    • Smoking
    • Social Security
    • Tobacco Control
    • U.S. Crime Statistics 2010
    • U.S. Political Prisoners
    • U.S. Patriot Act
    • Violence Against Women
    • Afghanistan War: Battle for Oil?
    • War Crimes
    • Who Owns America
    • Women’s Issues & Studies
    • Youth Violence
    • Genetic Engineering
    • Terrorism
    • Life on Mars
    • 9/11 Terrorist Attack
    • Illegal Immigration
    • Live in Relationship
    • War on Iraq
    • What Caused the Recession
    • Are Lay Offs Justified?


‘A beautiful space’: Next stage of Regent Park revitalization revealed

Does Apple hate Swedes?


It’s gotta suck to be an Apple(s aapl) fan living in Sweden right now. The world’s first LTE network went live in Sweden in December of 2009 – TeliaSonera beat global heavyweights Verizon(s vz)(s vod) and NTT DoCoMo by nearly a year – but Europe’s frosty north was left in the cold Wednesday at Apple’s big 4G iPhone launch.

“Sweden’s LTE customers have waited nearly 3 years, but still didn’t get [the 4G] iPhone,” GSM Association director of technology Dan Warren told me in a Twitter conversation. “In fact anyone with 2.6GHz or 800MHz has missed out.”

The airwaves Warren referenced are the primary 4G bands available to European operators, and both were left unsupported in all three versions on the iPhone 5 Apple revealed today. Europe didn’t miss out on Apple’s new LTE love completely. Operators deploying 4G in the 1800 MHz bands such as Everything Everywhere

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Novel Ideas [5]: Campus Fashion

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