Saturday, December 31, 2005

The right time

"The time is always right to do what is right."

- Martin Luther King, Jr.

Ordinary heroes

Time magazine's online version contains year-ender stories, one of which is a feature on six ordinary individuals who exhibited courage under extraordinary circumstances. One of them is Ihsanullah Khan, whose photo appears above. An excerpt:

Ihsanullah Khan is long-shot rescuer. A Pakistani immigrant, Khan drove a cab in Washington and pinned his dreams on winning the lottery. Khan always played the same numbers--2, 4, 6, 17, 25 and 31--because they had once appeared in a dream. Every week for 15 years, he bet religiously on the numbers and lost. Then in November 2001, when the jackpot rose to $55.2 million, Khan's lucky numbers finally came through. He pulled his taxi over to the curb, took a deep breath and thought of his mother, whose dying words to him were, "One day, son, you're going to be somebody--like a king."

Khan, now 47, didn't necessarily want to be a king. But with after-tax winnings of $32,499,939.24 in his pocket, he decided to return to his native town of Batagram in the Himalayas and run for nazim, or mayor. "I wanted to make changes," he says. "Bring back the good things I saw in America." Khan got his chance.

This year, on Oct. 8, three days after Khan took office as mayor, an earthquake of 7.6 magnitude on the Richter scale slammed into the Himalayas, killing more than 73,000 people in Pakistan. Batagram was one of the worst-hit towns. That morning, Khan had strolled up a dirt path to visit his mother's grave when the force of the quake hurled him to his knees. "I thought it was doomsday, that the earth would open and swallow me up," he says. "The houses on the ridge--they were exploding, one by one."

Full story

Read about the other everyday heroes in 6 Tales of Courage at

Thursday, December 29, 2005

The world of words of 2005

Why 'integrity' was such a sought-after word this year

It beat 'refugee' and 'contempt' as the most looked-up word of 2005, according to Merriam-Webster's online dictionary.

| Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor

Between the CIA leak investigation, scandals in Congress, and disgraced athletes, 2005 had more than its fair share of ethical disappointment.

The result? "Integrity" was the most looked-up word of 2005, according to Merriam-Webster's online dictionary.

That comes as no surprise to many. The reflex to type a word into is often prompted by the desire to understand an event and its context. That is one reason "tsunami" and "filibuster" also made the top 10 list.

You can read the full story, along with the Top 10 list, at The Christian Science Monitor. The following is an interesting editorial that likewise delves on buzzwords of 2005:

Portrait of a year in buzzwords

If it's December, it's time for those list-loving dictionary folks to be announcing their Words of the Year again -- and in the process providing editorial writers with a revealing lens on the past 12 months. This year, their labors yielded a couple of startlingly different scenarios.

First, the editors of the New Oxford American Dictionary came up with a tech-heavy shortlist and ultimately pronounced "podcast" their Word of the Year. For those of you who think a podcast might have something to do with peas, the word is a combination of iPod and broadcast, and denotes "a digital recording of a radio broadcast or similar program, made available on the Internet for downloading to a personal audio player" (such as an iPod). If you find that arcane, wait till you read the rest of the Oxford list.

A few days later, the people at Merriam-Webster put "integrity" at the top of a news-dominated word list that included such 2005 headline staples as "tsunami" and "conclave."

Full story at The Japan Times

Marriage-strengthening becomes a priority

Pro-Family Groups Back Marriage-Strengthening Initiative

Plan calls for welfare savings to go toward marriage programs.

The president's healthy marriage initiative gained support this week from Concerned Women for America (CWA) and the Fatherhood and Marriage Leadership Institute. The groups are calling for welfare funds to be moved into marriage-strengthening programs.

Janice Crouse, a senior fellow with CWA, said welfare reform worked and she has an idea of what to do with the savings.

"Welfare roles are down 60 percent so we have all this money left over that has been designated for welfare payments," she said. "One of the things that we would like to do with that money is bring it over and strengthen marriage."

Full story at Citizen Link

Looking squarely at homosexuality

If you've got homosexual tendencies,

-- that doesn't diminish your dignity as a human being in any way
-- that doesn't give anybody any reason to show you disrespect
-- that doesn't mean you ought to give in to those tendencies
-- that doesn't mean a life of genuine fulfillment and deep joy is out of reach

Homosexual men and women, like anyone else, deserve to be encouraged toward affirming their dignity as human beings.

But homosexuality and its practice are not something to be encouraged, celebrated or distorted into being regarded as manifestations of freedom.

What are we doing to correct the distortions?

* * * * *

It's difficult these days to talk about homosexuality without sounding prejudiced against those who engage in homosexual activity. That's why I started off by posting those reminders up there. Hopefully, they'll help you establish a frame of mind that enables you to read through the following material (and other articles in the future) with a more objective orientation.

David Parker, the Massachusetts parent who stood his ground about being involved in determining the kind of education his son was getting in school, said the following in a speech he gave last September:
Parents, you need to ask questions of your school administration, this includes teachers, the principal, director of education, director of health, superintendent, and call your school committee members.
Realize that a discussion on transgenderism and “gay”-headed relationships, while claiming to only present reality to children, usually morphs into approval and acceptance. This occurs in a conversation seamlessly and without your notification.

Do take those words to heart for they apply not only to issues regarding homosexuality; the way we discuss other matters that have a moral dimension have a way of "morphing" into approval and acceptance when we're not as well-grounded as we'd like to be.

Bridging the gaps

“I knew that my feelings toward males were different from the other boys I knew,” [conference speaker Chad] Thompson said, explaining that he understood where homosexuals are coming from when they say they’ve always felt different, or they can’t remember ever not being attracted to someone of the same gender as themselves.

Calling himself an “ex-gay,” he told the workshop audience he decided to begin living as a heterosexual once he realized that his legitimate need for love and affection from a male was the source of his homosexual struggles.

Thompson went on to tell how he helps others struggling with the same issues via his organization, Inqueery, which operates a website of the same name and addresses homosexuality on high school and college campuses.

Thompson said he’s met many homosexuals who did not feel accepted at all by the church community. He named three roadblocks that stand in the way of ministry to homosexuals: media, politics and research.

“All three of these arenas perpetuate stereotypes of gay people as well as Christian people ... so when someone from the evangelical world meets someone from the gay community, there is this tension because we’ve been lied to about each other,” Thompson said.

Read more

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

A broken-hearted chap and a diamond ring

Backstory: The story of an unlocked car and a mystery ring
| Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor

It was a typical December day in the Boston area: The Bruins had lost again and it was cold - a high of 31 degrees. At the train station in suburban Westborough, one commuter left his car among the endless rows of Priuses and Honda Pilots that park there every day. But, inexplicably - perhaps in haste - he left his door unlocked on this day.

It would turn out to be a fortuitous move. When he returned more than 12 hours later, shuffling to his car with the other frost- breathing commuters, he noticed a box, with a white ribbon, sitting on the front seat.

"Merry Christmas," a note said. "Thank you for leaving your car door unlocked. Instead of stealing your car I gave you a present. Hopefully this will land in the hands of someone you love, for my love is gone now. Merry Christmas to you."

Inside was a three-diamond ring set on a white-gold band. Its value: $15,000.

It took days for the commuter to tell police, but once he did and a local newspaper reporter noticed it going through the weekly police blotter, the story ricocheted from London to Los Angeles to Oprah. It has become Westborough's own Lord of the Rings saga.

Full story at The Christian Science Monitor

When '@$#*@&!' are not mere typo signs

No man is an island. Hence, everything we do has repercussions in society whether we like it or not, whether we see it or not. And the upside of it is that every little good that we do (and say) echoes in one way or another -- and most of the time, we just don't see it.

Here's some food for thought, but don't let it end in thought. Let's get going! It being the season of joy and goodwill ought to provide some impetus to better the corner of the world we live in.

We all have a civic duty to help maintain a polite society, just as we have a duty to help maintain a clean one. Sometimes that goes further than simply not littering yourself; it extends to making it clear to someone you see littering that their behavior is unacceptable. If at that point they thumb their nose at you and walk away, fine, you have done your part — almost. The only thing you have left to do is pick up the other person's trash yourself, setting an example for them. It's the same with swearing. You lead by example, but don't forget to look behind and uphold the expectation that others follow your lead as well.
By taming your tongue, you might not be able to change the whole world, but you can work to better your little corner of it. It is your duty to do so.
* * * * *
What's Wrong With Swearing?
Swearing imposes a personal penalty
  • It gives a bad impression
  • It's a tool for whiners and complainers
  • It reduces respect people have for you
  • It shows you don't have control
Swearing is bad for society
  • It contributes to the decline of civility
  • It offends more people than you think
  • It makes others uncomfortable
  • It is disrespectful of others

Read Taming the tongue
by Chuck Holton

From Boundless webzine

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Yuletide greetings to all

Have a blessed Christmas with your families and friends, guided by the true North Star.

Silhouette art by Gertrud Junker

The Mom before Christmas

Twas the night before Christmas,
when all thru the abode
Only one creature was stirring,
and she was cleaning the commode.

The children were finally sleeping,
all snug in their beds,
while visions of Nintendo and Barbie,
flipped through their heads.

The dad was snoring
in front of the TV,
with a half-constructed bicycle
propped on his knee.

So only the mom heard
the reindeer hooves clatter,
which made her sigh,
"Now what is the matter?"

With toilet bowl brush
still clutched in her hand,
She descended the stairs,
and saw the old man.

He was covered with ashes and soot,
which fell with a shrug,
"Oh great," muttered the mom,
"Now I have to clean the rug."

"Ho Ho Ho!" cried Santa,
"I'm glad you're awake."
"your gift was especially
difficult to make."

"Thanks, Santa, but all I want
is some time alone."
"Exactly!" he chuckled,
"So, I've made you a clone."

"A clone?" she muttered,
"What good is that?"
"Run along, Santa,
I've no time for chit chat."

Then out walked the clone -
The mother's twin,
Same hair, same eyes,
same double chin.

"She'll cook, she'll dust,
she'll mop every mess.
You'll relax, take it easy,
watch The Young and The Restless."

"Fantastic!" the mom cheered.
"My dream has come true!"
"I'll shop, I'll read,
I'll sleep a night through!"

From the room above,
the youngest did fret.
"Mommy! Come quickly,
I'm scared and I'm wet."

The clone replied,
"I'm coming, sweetheart."
"Hey," the mom smiled,
"She sure knows her part."

The clone changed the small one
and hummed her tune,
as she bundled the child
in a blanket cocoon.

"You're the best mommy ever.
I really love you."
The clone smiled and sighed,
"And I love you, too."

The mom frowned and said,
"Sorry, Santa, no deal."
That's my child's LOVE
she is trying to steal."

Smiling wisely Santa said,
"To me it is clear,
Only one loving mother
is needed here."

The mom kissed her child
and tucked her in bed.
"Thank You, Santa,
for clearing my head.

I sometimes forget,
it won't be very long,
when they'll be too old
for my cradle and song."

The clock on the mantle
began to chime.
Santa whispered to the clone,
"It works every time."

With the clone by his side
Santa said "Goodnight.
Merry Christmas, dear Mom,
You will be all right."

* Found this one at Contemplating the Laundry

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Monday, December 19, 2005

Small world

The world seems smaller and smaller as the years go by, and I'm not talking about anything related to the planet's resources or the whole population issue. Our world feels like it's becoming smaller because we get to know how life is going and how people are doing on other parts of the globe. A business executive in Seoul carrying on a conversation with a group of entrepreneurs in London is not at all surprising nowadays. Indeed, with all the advancements (and resulting convenience) that technology is providing us, getting better acquainted with the rest of the world has become so easy.

But do we really know more about people and cultures other than our own? Is there more understanding between countries now that technology has placed opportunities for learning right at our fingertips? Is there true advancement going on?

Well, a Christmas lantern can hardly be the symbol of advancement, but let it be a start. That's what's in the photo above (the one on the right is closer to the original star-shaped ornament) -- a traditional Christmas decoration that adorns houses in the Philippines once the Yuletide season comes rolling in. The lantern, or "parol," is just one of many symbols of Christmas in this country of 7, 107 islands, but don't take my word for it! Know more about how Christmas is celebrated in this Southeast Asian nation (some more materials here).

I surfed around yesterday, wanting to know how the season is celebrated in Mexico and got a fill of posadas, piñatas, even the same noche buena which is also a staple in Philippine Christmas festivities (here's another site about how the Mexicans celebrate Christmas). Then off to Irish traditions I went. And as a bonus, I even discovered the real meaning behind "The Twelve Days of Christmas" -- which was written as a reminder of significant points about the faith centuries ago, when getting caught with anything in writing that indicated adherence to the faith meant imprisonment or death (so now when I sing about the 7 swans a-swimming or 5 gold rings, I dwell on more than mere fowl and jewelry).

There would have been more here had my computer been cooperating and not going on "time-out" every 10 minutes or so. Africa and Central America were going to be the next stop on my Christmas-tradition research, but that will probably have to wait till next year.

Hope this somehow makes the world smaller for you, too.

Addendum: Found this "Christmas in China" link via A family runs through it. Thanks so much, Phil!

Are you happy now?

In pursuit of happiness
half the world is on the wrong scent.
They think it consists
in having
and getting,
and in being served by others.

Happiness is really found
in giving and in serving others.

- Henry Drummond

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Delivering meals and friendships

It all began with home-baked pecan pies. By delivering pies to their neighbors on Colby Avenue, Jim and Dana Strickland of Everett hoped to satisfy their hunger for enduring friendships.

That was two years ago, between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

The Stricklands and their three young children had just moved to north Everett from Marysville, where they hadn't even known their neighbors.

"They all had garage door openers. They'd drive in, close the door, and we'd never see them," said Jim Strickland, a teacher at Marysville Junior High School.

What began with pecan pie - "my mom's recipe," Jim Strickland said - is now a year-round meal exchange, with four households trading off cooking duties. The arrangement covers dinners Monday through Thursday nights.

"When somebody makes the effort to reach out, especially in a new neighborhood, the response is going to be open arms," Jim Strickland said.

Full story

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Rebel with a cause

He ran away from home at 14 hoping to earn a living playing the guitar on the streets. But he soon tired of it. He next apprenticed with a blacksmith. Then he heard of the famine in Africa ... and life changed. Lorraine Chandler comes face-to-face with the rebellious spirit of Fredéric Vigneau, MSF's UAE executive director.

It is said everyone wants to be a hero. But this is not true of Fredéric Vigneau, the newly-appointed UAE executive director of Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) - 'Doctors without Borders'.

Full story at Gulf News

Meeting success in fighting AIDS

A senior U. S. research scientist who once advocated the use of condoms to slow the spread of HIV now promotes abstinence and fidelity as far more effective weapons against the disease.

Edward Green, with the Harvard Center for Population and Development Studies, became convinced of the effectiveness of abstinence and faithfulness after witnessing the impact of Uganda’s ABC program on the country’s infection rates. The ABC method, which stands for Abstain, Be faithful, or use a Condom, is credited with dramatically reducing the rate of HIV infection in Uganda since it was first implemented in 1986.

Appearing before the African subcommittee of the U.S. Senate on May 19, 2003, Green stated: “Infection rates [in Uganda] have declined from 21% to 6 % since 1991. Many of us in the AIDS and public health communities didn’t believe that abstinence and faithfulness were realistic goals. It now seems we were wrong.”

Full story at LifeSite

Monday, December 12, 2005

Getting into the lives of 'the invisibles'

Do you, for instance, ever bother to say a 'hi' to the grocery delivery boy? Or the gas delivery man? Or the lift operator? Or the watchman? Or your florist?

These are essentially the 'invisible people' - people who rarely have grandiose plans for the future.

They just want to grasp the simple pleasures and small attainable goals in life, such as saving enough to send a regular remittance back home, putting a sibling through school/college, trying to finish building a little home for themselves.

Gulf News met with some 'invisible people.'

The invisibles
By Suchitra Bajpai Chaudhary

'The Sixth Floor' and other stories

Do you know that the United Nations General Assembly in 1985 declared December 5 of each year as International Volunteer Day? I didn't, until I came across

They are the Volunteers who support communities and governments around the world. Volunteers offer something that is far more valuable than a grant or monetary support--they offer their time, talents and own selves. It is through their vision and idealism that others continue to have hope. They are honored not with monuments, but with the genuine smiles of those they helped. Then, it is through touching other people’s lives that their own lives are transformed.

Nearly 300 Filipino volunteers are currently placed in various developing countries around the world. In the country, most of the estimated 318,000 non-profit organizations operate with a support network of volunteers. Indeed, Volunteerism plays a significant role in the social, economic and political development of the country.

One of the volunteers is Tina Alejandro, who wrote The Sixth Floor in which she relates her touching and thought-provoking experience with 7-year-old Mico and a few other seriously ill kids she spent time with as a volunteer for the Kythe Foundation. Her essay was among the winners in the essay-writing contest that iVolunteer conducted among the volunteers.

This page contains The Sixth Floor and more essays written by other volunteers.

Food for thought for us living in a 'civilized society'

he Spine-Chilling Euphemism of the Month Award goes to the Washington Post for its recent front-page headline: "Down Syndrome Now Detectable In 1st Trimester: Earlier Diagnosis Allows More Time for Decisions."

One "decision" is, of course, whether to terminate the pregnancy — the "A" word (abortion, for those not into subtlety). The less-nuanced, terribly un-P.C., and perhaps you'll consider downright mean among us might use a k-word. The decision being over whether to kill an innocent child, who is completely dependent on his mother's choices. Doctors estimate that between 80 and 90 percent of Down children are now aborted once pre-natal tests issue "warnings."

* * * * *

I know abortion is one of our most contentious issues. People don't want to judge. They don't want to put their rosaries on your ovaries. People often just don't want to talk about it. But we have to talk about it. And we have to especially talk about Down Syndrome and abortion — and this class of people "sophisticated" types seem to think can (and should?) be eliminated. A civilized society cannot tolerate this reality.

As Patricia Bauer put it: "What I don't understand is how we as a society can tacitly write off a whole group of people as having no value. I'd like to think that it's time to put that particular piece of baggage on the table and talk about it, but I'm not optimistic. People want what they want: a perfect baby, a perfect life. To which I say: Good luck. Or maybe, dream on."

Defining Life Down: Are we okay with eliminating a class of humans?
Kathryn Jean Lopez, National Review Online

Friday, December 09, 2005

This bud's for you

Best Buddies Deutschland ist Mitglied bei Best Buddies International, dessen Mission darin besteht, die Freundschaft zwischen nicht behinderten Schülern und Studenten und jungen Menschen mit geistigen Behinderungen zu fördern.

There's a bit of German for you, hehe. But anyway, the English translation follows at the Best Buddies website.

Here's a moving article about how perceptions of some high school students were changed for the better, thanks to a special education teacher.

Best Buddies bring Mt. Lebanon student body together

Thursday, November 10, 2005

By Mary Niederberger, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Special education teacher David Breier had been looking for quite some time for a program that would integrate his students with the rest of the student population at Mt. Lebanon High School.

This fall, with the help of junior Elizabeth Lisowksi, 16, a cheerleader and student council member, a local chapter of Best Buddies International, a group that pairs special needs students with able-bodied students, was founded at the high school.

It didn't take long for Mr. Breier to see the program was just what he had been looking for.

At the homecoming dance last month, cheerleaders, football players and other student leaders invited the special education students, who traditionally congregated in their classroom, onto the dance floor with the rest of the student body.

Both groups of students danced so hard that, Mr. Breier said, he started to worry that some would dehydrate. But that, he said, was a good problem.

Full story at

Serenity, courage, wisdom

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

- from a wooden plaque I saw at a novelty store


I can't even think of an appropriate title for this or an introductory statement that succinctly expresses my thoughts on what some people are doing..

Canada considers more heroin injection sites

Health authorities in Canada's westernmost province want to make the country's first test facility for heroin injection permanent and are considering opening additional clinics to meet the huge demand. The Vancouver facility was set up in 2003, against US opposition, as a three-year experiment exempt from Canadian drug laws.

Since then the clinic, North America's only such operation, has run at capacity, with some 800 heroin injections daily.

"It's all-round positive, with no downsides," said Perry Kendall, British Columbia province's chief medical officer.

Addicts bring in drugs purchased illegally on the street, and self-inject them under medical supervision. There are onsite emergency services in case of overdose and staff nurses and counselors to provide health care and referrals to rehabilitation facilities.

Full story at

Is it for healing or destroying?

Look at the stories about the new prenatal Down syndrome test. According to the New England Journal of Medicine, this test can now detect Down syndrome much earlier in a pregnancy, and is more reliable. Lead researcher Fergal Malone told reporters, “In light of this study, we should offer screening to all women in their first trimester.”

Talk about the remedy being worse than the disease. Through a socially acceptable form of killing, we would take the opportunity to eliminate an entire group of people in order to spare ourselves from having to deal with their differences—because that’s what it really comes down to. Anyone who listens to Mia Peterson and others like her knows that lofty talk about making the best decision for the child’s sake, to keep that child from suffering, is hogwash. People with Down syndrome and other disabled people are not asking us why we did not kill them. They are asking us why we won’t accept them just as they are.

I came across this story at Break Point, then saw it soon after at Minivan Mom, along with some words from the blogger herself that will help us see more clearly what the issue really boils down to:

Say what you like, but understand that from my side of the fence, it is eugenics. It is the removal of a part of the population that makes ‘normal’ people feel uncomfortable. Sorry, but don’t say one word unless you know how it feels to open up the newspaper and read about doctors, actively pursuing genetic screening for whatever disability you have, in hopes that future mothers will not have to give birth to a child that will make their lives…difficult. Watching this same research under way for Epilepsy, makes me sick to my stomach. I am a productive person. I am a productive citizen. BUT because my seizures make people uncomfortable…and inconvenience others…I am unwanted, and that has never been made more clear than at this present point in history, when people like Peter Singer (professor of ethics at Princeton) are held up like demi-gods, spouting their plans for destroying children and infants born with disabilities, that range from down syndrome to…you guessed it…epilepsy. If this is the tolerance that the left likes to speak of so much, then count me out.

Detecting health problems in children still in the womb is a wonder of modern medicine — assuming the goal is to heal, not destroy.

Full story at Break Point

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Being born at a time like ours

Here's a must-read. It even provides a bit of historical data to better understand just why and how some people think the way they do -- and assume (many of them with sincere motivations, I like to think) that they are doing everybody else a favor.

Whose Life Is It? A Well-Born Misconception
by Roberto Rivera

A recent headline in the Washington Post said everything you needed to know about the story that followed:

"New Test Enables Doctors to Target Defectives."

Well, it didn't really say that but it should have, and the fact that neither the Post nor we can bring ourselves to put it that way says a great deal about us -- none of it good.

You can read the full story at Boundless webzine

Pushing the boundaries of bad taste

Is it possible to just ignore certain people and wish them away?? I wish people like Howard Stern who simply insist on spreading filth would just go away -- since this is easier to do than actually deal with the problem with practical measures. But then, ok... if we rest on our laurels and adopt a wait-and-see approach all the time, we know what to expect this world to turn into. And it's not the kind of world we'd want our children and our children's children to live in.

Stern, the foul-mouthed radio jock and commentator, is gearing up for filthier, censhorship-free radio, according to a news report. But then I'm not sure if talking about the whole thing on my blog is even a good idea, for these reasons:

1. I got the news from Fox News, which isn't exactly a shining example of journalistic integrity. If you're familiar with the Philippines' ABS-CBN network, Fox News materials are somewhat like Channel 2's TV Patrol (think sensationalized format). So, I'm wondering how accurate the news report about Stern's plans actually is.

2. This could all be some publicity stunt, and exaggeration has worked effectively in drawing in the gullible and less discerning members of the public. Hence, the "jaw-dropping features" that Stern said he'd be putting into his program could be all part of the promotion blitz (and I wouldn't want to cooperate in such a thing).

So, I'm picking out bits of the news article -- sans the sordid details -- for your information.

Stern reveals plans to be filthier than ever

Howard Stern has crowed for months about how he'll get as filthy as humanly possible when he jumps to censorship-free Sirius Satellite Radio next month — and now he's revealing for the first time, in a New York magazine interview, just how X-rated his new show will be.

In an expletive-filled interview that hits newsstands Monday, the sex-obsessed shock jock tells of some jaw-dropping features that are sure to push the boundaries of bad taste.

That's about all that I could write here without getting obscene.

I wish things like Sirius Satellite Radio would just conduct business on another planet. They simply give people the license to take sacred principles such as "freedom of speech," abuse it, and turn it into something that doesn't belong in civilized society.


Be like a postage stamp.
Stick to one thing until you get there.

- Josh Billings, 1818-1885

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Booked for success

"It’s hard to try new things—for adults as well as children. It’s even harder to stay the course when something is more difficult than we thought it would be, or when things don’t work out the way we hoped. Yet flexibility and perseverance are essential to success in all areas of life, at all ages and stages."

That's what it says on the book profile of this Free Spirit Publishing product. Responsible and mature adults don't become that way out of the blue; formation, though life-long, starts in early childhood. And books are a great supplementary means to forming the character of children.

Try and Stick with it is great on its own, though it's also sold as part of the Learning to Get Along books -- a set of 10 titles, among which are Share and Take Turns, When I Feel Afraid, and Know and Follow Rules.

Great (and positive) expectations

Thinking that your efforts won't pay off? Up against a Goliath figure to your David-like possibility of a promotion? Feeling totally hopeless about the country's future? Fret not. Science shows the benefits of a "sunny-side-up" disposition:

Study Verifies Power of Positive Thinking
By Lauran Neergaard
Associated Press
posted: 28 November 2005
08:05 pm ET

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Your medicine really could work better if your doctor talks it up before handing over the prescription.

Research is showing the power of expectations, that they have physical -- not just psychological -- effects on your health. Scientists can measure the resulting changes in the brain, from the release of natural painkilling chemicals to alterations in how neurons fire.

Among the most provocative findings: New research suggests that once Alzheimer's disease robs someone of the ability to expect that a proven painkiller will help them, it doesn't work nearly as well.

You can read the rest at LiveScience

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

First, the basics. Then, on to jeans, layering and a girl named Ella.

Though modesty is a virtue that goes beyond the way a person comes across or the clothes he/she wears, it can be mistaken as concerning only externals. So, what's it all about? Here's something that'll tell you. Reading it would be a wise move (the better to appreciate the succeeding reads, and that other one I posted a few days ago).

The Beauty of Modesty for Men and Women
by Donald DeMarco

The modest person does not draw undue attention to himself. He is self-assured, but not self-absorbed. He is temperate in dress, language, and comportment and has a strong sense of the value of his privacy. He knows that being a person is fundamentally incompatible with being an object for public consumption. Modesty is, as it were, his body's conscience.

He is not interested in displaying his talents and attainments for people to admire. He even shuns making himself the subject of conversation. He is more eager to know what he needs to know than to parade what he already knows. He has a healthy sense of himself as he is and is less concerned about how others view him. His enthusiasms center around what is real. Therefore he has little patience with flattery and adulation. Nor is he inclined to exaggerate or boast. The modest person is aware of his limitations and retains the capacity to blush.

Click here to read the rest

* * * * *

Here's what resourceful shoppers have been doing when they're not satisfied with what they find on department store racks --

Tired of low-rise and low-cut? Modesty can be chic.

Home of the brave

This is part of the header of a blog that I just recently discovered. It is, simply put, a breath of fresh air, considering what ideas and attitudes the blogworld (and mainstream media in general) is overflowing with. That Modestly Yours lists more than a dozen contributors of varied ages and backgrounds turning in well-written posts takes care of the diversity factor.

Take my word for it: this is definitely not run-of-the-mill stuff.

Upon visiting today, I chanced upon several interesting entries -- and even more interesting comments! Here's a portion of one such comment, written by "HopingForStarsWithGrace":

Mariah is extraordinarily, wonderfully musical, with a voice that can carry without a microphone. I would have preferred her to sing her heart out, without being as still as a mannequin to avoid over-exposure on national television. And that is usually what happens to girls who wear clothes that they are nearly falling out of--while feeling increasingly uncomfortable, they hunch over, get all nervous, and stand abnormally still. A woman who reveals her beauty, comfortably, walks gracefully, moves freely, is [irresistible]. And she's usually not wearing a dress [that] suffered the consequences of an overly enthusiastic set of scissors.

If a 99-year-old is doing something...

There is no way to tell how many babies [Marion] Hite has saved, but he does have proof of at least one. Several years ago, a woman walked up to him with tears in her eyes. She said that nine years ago she was walking to the clinic to have an abortion when she saw him and changed her mind. She had come to report how happy she was to have a 9-year-old daughter.

Thanks to his hearing aids, he caught her every word.

When a person reaches a certain age, hearing difficulties usually start coming. And Mr. Hite is all of 99 years old, his 100th birthday in less than a month. His age, though, hasn't kept him from going over to a Portland, Oregon abortion clinic every morning and staying patiently on the sidewalk as a gesture demonstrating his life-affirming stand.

Mr. Hite has been honored by pro-life groups and even by the political Constitution Party, and on Dec. 4 he will be honored again with a special Sunday mass and a reception that follows.

"Thou shalt not stand idly by when human life is at stake," he once remarked.

Read the full story about Mr. Hite at Free Republic

Monday, November 28, 2005

Getting the thumbs-up out there

Does "with great power comes great responsibility" sound familiar to you? If not, well, don't worry -- it doesn't matter. I just thought of integrating Peter Parker into this post as a way to introduce the following review excerpt, which delves on how discerning media consumers can get past the private praises and lamentations. Whether it's a brilliant TV series or an insultingly trashy film, proper feedback can give you more control over the trends in what are shown on the silver screen. In other words, we can get better TV shows and movies!

Dean Batali, executive producer of That '70s Show, can tell you how to impact television programming - watch more TV. Batali urges readers to find and watch the good stuff on TV and voice their opinion. In praise, that is. Rather than simply criticizing shows (telling a producer you'll never watch their show again tells them that your opinion is now irrelevant to them), Christians should write letters praising aspects of a show that they liked (what's that saying about honey and vinegar?).

The same works for movies, according to Donovan Jacobs. A development executive and script consultant, Jacobs has worked with a wide variety of movie executives and declares that Christians need to make it clear to them that there is a longing for meaningful entertainment. They can do so by praising movies like Spider-Man (and its fantastic theme "With great power comes great responsibility") with as much passion as many Christians exhibit denouncing Harry Potter (for allegedly promoting occultism).

Please read the full article at and get informed!

Saturday, November 26, 2005

A misleading image of men in rap

It was the 1st Black Fatherhood Summit; the place was Harlem, New York. There were crucial issues to be tackled, but look what dominated the discussions during the summit:

Yes, fatherhood is hard. After years of neglect, the problem of "father absence" began to attract attention in the early 1990s, with the founding of national organizations like Promise Keepers and the National Fatherhood Initiative. A growing number of grass-roots African-American groups like Mr. Phillips's Real Dads Network provide moral and practical support. The current Real Dads newsletter contains brief, informative articles on "Improving Your Credit Score," "When She Makes More Money" and "Things to Remember When You Are Stopped [by the police]." Yet these subjects were not discussed at the summit. Instead, the conversation kept returning to the depiction of black men in rap.

First, the panelists expressed dismay at the way commercially successful rappers like 50 Cent, the Game, Snoop Doggy Dogg, and Nelly depict young black men. In countless song lyrics and videos, young men are either embittered losers despairing on the street corner (or cell block), or extravagant winners disporting themselves in surreal mansions or tropical paradises, amid harems of sexy, available and highly disposable young women. Some songs and videos are more offensive than others, but all reduce manhood to the pursuit of cash, followed by sex, in a world that requires no responsibility of any kind, least of all that of fatherhood.

Read the whole article at OpinionJournal

Can you say 'modesty' without the smirk and rolling eyes?

I've been coming across the word "modesty" more often during the past few months, and I tend to think it's due to the apparent backlash of feminism that has people looking at just what has happened to our society, especially when you look at the women. I'm not even referring to manner of dressing yet, but more of the values that are guiding their action, their speech and, yes, their choice of clothes and the way they carry these. Saying that modesty has been lacking is, I believe, not an inaccurate statement in this case.

Lately, feminism has been taking a beating and this is hugely because the spread of feminist ideas has resulted in the very opposite of women's liberation, which is what so many misguided proponents said and still say feminism has achieved and continues to advance.

And here I go again, attributing much of the societal damage to mass media. First of all, it's true -- media in this day and age is largely responsible for the perpetuation of ideas (both constructive and destructive) especially when the idea is deftly presented as something that will make you feel happy, free, strong, fabulously independent and/or desirable. The result: girls imitating what they see, whether it's a baby tee with "Porn star" flashed across the chest, the monthly boyfriend roulette, the spirit of abandon guiding underwear ads, or the whole attitude behind the "Sex Bomb Dancers" trend. An example:

Mothers who come into my office frequently express doubt about their own judgment, not knowing where to draw the line when their daughters dress provocatively. Girls, meanwhile, freely admit that they are only aping what they see in the media. One young woman told me, "I love 'Sex and the City,' but I know it's contributed" to the problem. " Desperate Housewives" does, too.

Believe me, people behind magazines, ads and TV programming know how to make practically anything -- even the trashiest, most indecent fashion styles and intrinsically wicked ideas -- look good and spend tons of money to do research to get better at it! Is this the part where someone interjects, "Decency is subjective, and one's choices from clothes to lifestyle are a personal matter"? True, and if this subjectivity is what's guiding you to believe that wearing that cleavage-baring top is a sign of strength and real girl power, um...invest in a shawl first and then read the rest of this post.

Here's something from a fabulous article titled "Deconstructing Dowd" which I love and came across at a website called The Modesty Zone but which, unfortunately, I can't find anywhere anymore (I should have saved the entire piece):

It is not a career that will make a woman feel good enough about herself so that she won't feel the need to put her body on display in vulgar and boorish ways, nor is it picking up the tab on a date. Neither one will make a man—or another woman—respect her more, as a person. Neither will make her a more desirable partner or mate. The only thing that is really going to make a difference in the day-to-day gender politics we all face, is when women decide that their true worth is inside of them, not outside, and then behave and dress accordingly.

But this is the clincher for me:

What Dowd and other writers fail to realize is that there is an assertiveness that comes with modesty—but it is a quiet self confidence that allows women to stand firm with who she is. That's more attractive and powerful than any Maxim cover, but it is also something that most modern feminists have ignored.

Oh, that paragraph up there that mentioned "Sex and the City" didn't come from the same article but another one, published in The Washington Post. I must warn you though -- it's hard not to keep reading paragraph after paragraph. The writer, Patricia Dalton, is a clinical psychologist, and I sure would love to have her in my neighborhood when I start raising daughters of my own. If you're a mom, you'll be reassured -- and given witty ideas -- by her article, What's wrong with this outfit, Mom? But even if you're the daughter, the son, the dad, the grandma, grandpa, best friend, boyfriend...check it out if you want something that's not the typical read.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

The rappers of Palestine

They're young and they're using music instead of rock-throwing to make their voices heard. Here are excerpts from an article published in one of Scotland's independent newspapers.

Making their voices heard
A group of young rappers are using lyric-writing rather than stone-throwing to battle oppression

From Martin Patience in Gaza City

MOHAMMED al-Fara no longer makes an entrance. At the upmarket Marna House hotel in Gaza City, groups of young men sit under the yellow and blue umbrellas in the hotels walled garden quietly chatting. The scented smoke from their water pipes fogged the cool air. In walks Fara, a tall, slender 20-year-old, sporting a neatly-trimmed black beard and teeth whiter than snow. Wearing a navy blue T-shirt and beige jeans, his entrance barely draws a glance.

A year ago it was all very different. As the leader singer and songwriter for Gaza's first rap group, The Palestinian Rappers, Fara used to kit himself out in standard rapper apparel: a sports jumper three sizes too big, baggy trousers, and a chunky silver necklace that dangled down to his belly-button.

These days the rapper clothes remain in the closet - only getting an outing at concerts.

"The people here thought we were trying to be American, which we weren't," says Fara. "But I also realised that the rapping isn't about the clothes, it's about the lyrics."

During the start of the second intifada in September 2000, Fara, along with hundreds of other youths, threw stones at Israeli armoured jeeps and tanks close to the Neve Dekalim settlement which abutted the southern Gaza Strip city of Khan Younis. (All 21 Israeli settlements in Gaza were finally evacuated this summer.)

A bullet fired by an Israeli soldier flew over his head. As he turned to run, another bullet hit his left arm.

"I realised that it's not my way to throw rocks," says Fara, who has fully recovered from his injury. "I realised that, by rapping, my message will be heard by other people."

Fara's interest in rap began as a 12-year-old when he bought bootleg cassettes of US stars such as Puff Daddy, Biggie Smalls and Coolio. But it was Tupac Shakur who really caught Fara's attention.

"He was a man who rapped against racism, against the black and white divide, the rich and the poor, and against the government," says the sociology student at the al-Quds Open University in Khan Younis.

"He rapped about important issues, not about bling, cars and girls. People in the world don't think we're suffering. That's why I resorted to rapping to give people the real message."

You can read the full story at the Sunday Herald

Another feature about the group and life in and around the Gaza Strip, which came out early this year (the Sunday Herald piece was published just this month), is at

Franklin's no ninja turtle, thank goodness

Notwithstanding the "idiot box" moniker that TV has come to deserve in many respects, there is still good material if we look really hard (and if we persist with the feedback to the networks and advertisers). Here's one of them! According to Common Sense Media, "parents need to know that FRANKLIN is highly recommended for preschoolers and has no worrisome content. The characters are good role models, and the pace and situations are age-appropriate. It's a rare show that celebrates the innocence of childhood."

Franklin is a Canadian children's TV series based on a series of books by Brenda Clark (illustrator) and Paulette Bourgeois (writer). It first aired in 1997 and originally ended its run in 2000. Then three years later, digital cable channel Noggin introduced the show to American preschoolers, who by then were familiar with the books. How did the show do? It enjoyed instant popularity!

Common Sense Media's latest newsletter issue contains a review of the series:

Based on a children’s book by Paulette Bourgeois and Brenda Clark, FRANKLIN is about a turtle who is trying to figure out his place in the world. He lives in a village where he and his friends enjoy swimming in the pond, playing outdoors, and going to school. Yes! They enjoy school. For this and other refreshing reasons, parents will feel comfortable letting their preschoolers tune in.

Franklin is a turtle who "...could count by two’s and tie his shoes," as the narrator notes during the show’s preamble. Such things denote the innocence of a certain age. And as this program suggests, such innocence should be nurtured. Franklin is an every-turtle who is learning his way in his world. Though he lives in a village, Franklin is aware that things are “different” in the city, and he knows that he is growing up.

To read the whole review, go to Common Sense Media

Monday, November 21, 2005

We'll all be old and gray one day

There's been more talk than usual lately about the issue of health care for the elderly, euthanasia and assisted suicide. Regardless of your stand on these issues, I tend to think that all these discussions on blogs, websites, medical institutions, congressional hearings are something positive. Through them, the different angles pertaining to the matter are threshed out; various experiences also come out, bringing to the fore just how some members of society are coming to regard old people.

MercatorNet has a great article that partly delves on the matter. An excerpt:

[Taking Care: Ethical Caregiving in our Aging Society] says it is necessary to steer between two rocks: "We need to prevent the worst kinds of betrayal and inhumanity towards the dependent elderly – such as relying on institutions that 'warehouse' elderly persons," promoting assisted suicide and embracing euthanasia.

But we must also "avert the danger of inter-generational conflict over scarce resources, meeting our obligations also to our children and grandchildren, sustaining other social goods, and avoiding a major new drag on the economy that would (among other things) weaken the economic capacity of working families to provide care for their loved ones".

Put positively, this means "we need to encourage families and local communities to become responsible caregivers and to sustain one another in giving care, while recognising the role of the state in providing a safety net of decent care for those who lack adequate economic resources or a network of family support".

And WorldNetDaily came out with this one, about the experience of a young woman whose father recently died in a nursing home under the care of what she deemed as pro-death caregivers. An excerpt:

"One thing that has shocked me throughout this ordeal is the number of health-care 'professionals' that seem to major on killing rather than healing," Deanna Potter told WND. "It's truly frightening to think that these are people charged with overseeing health care for very old and very sick human beings."

In the meantime, laugh

Laughter is like changing a baby's diaper. It doesn't permanently solve any problems, but it makes things more acceptable for a while.

- Anonymous

Friday, November 18, 2005

Here's a chance to concretely help the pro-life movement in Colombia, and we can do it via the email addy above...

Colombian Pro-Life Leaders Request Show of Support from Other Countries

By John-Henry Westen

BOGOTA, November 17, 2005 ( - Leaders of the pro-life organization Red Futuro Colombia (The Future of Colombia Network) have requested organizations which believe in the right to life to send e-mails in support of the pro-life cause and in opposition to the very serious current attempts to overturn Colombia's constitutional protection of the right to life. In addition to emails, pro-life leaders are asking for urgent prayers on their behalf.

This South American country has been able for many years to resist the attempts of internationally-backed efforts to legalize abortion. However, they are now confronting their most serious threat, at their Constitutional Court and in their legislature, pro-life leaders tell A case brought in April before the Constitutional Court calling for Colombia's laws against abortion to be declared unconstitutional could very well become the "Roe v. Wade" of Colombia. A decision by the Court is expected in days. (see additional coverage of the case: )

Meanwhile renewed pro-abortion efforts in the Federal Legislature are underway.

Red Futuro Colombia and many other organizations together with Church leaders have been responding to these threats. Their most recent activity is a pro-life demonstration this Saturday, Nov. 19th in the Plaza de Bolivar in downtown Bogota, Colombia.

Red Futuro Colombia's leaders have asked for support from other pro-life organizations in other countries who believe in the sacred right to life to please send an email indicating support. Some of these emails will be read publicly at the pro-life demonstration on Saturday and all will be tallied and used to show pro-life international solidarity.

Send your email now to

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Changes in Afghan life

Female candidates have triumphed in Afghanistan's parliamentary elections, with one bidding to become the new parliament's speaker.

After a delay in counting of more than a month, official results show women secured seats ahead of male candidates in a quarter of the 34 provinces, while in one a woman was outright winner.

Shukria Barakzai, a women's magazine editor who took the 24th of Kabul's 33 seats, said: "People saw election posters for people who destroyed this city plastered on the walls of Kabul's broken buildings."

Mrs Barakzai said she hoped to stand for the role of speaker in the new parliament: "I want to create a cultural revolution in Afghanistan.

"If a woman becomes the chairperson of the parliament that will show the good aspect of change in Afghanistan."


What's going on?

Sometimes I really wonder if I contribute to the problem by pointing out the horrible things going on in the world. Shock value diminishes over time, and sometimes I think that by tackling the downside of different issues here, I may be saturating some readers in the process. I certainly hope not! Still, headlines can be indicative of the different turn that events are taking around the globe.

Canadian psych hospital promotes patient sex with private rooms, on-demand porn

There are a lot of good news, too, but one piece of really bad news (or a bizarre incident) can somehow overshadow the positive -- albeit temporarily, of course. Headlines can be shocking, then when you read the report, all you can do most of the time is shake your head, ask "what's the world coming to?" then move on.

First comes gay marriage then comes bestiality in Massachusetts

China moves from bullets to mobile execution vans to improve int'l image

Other times, one can't help but snicker in amusement or probably laugh out loud even. Then what? Remaining passive about these things we read about is an option, of course, but shouldn't bad news move us to act even more? Most of the time, we're in no position to do something about the news we hear of. Maybe not directly.

Berkeley High offers Condom Club
Ad: 'Having sex? Thinking of having sex? Come to room...'

Homosexual gov't minister loaned failed gay porn shop $10,000 taxpayer funds

Maybe these headlines are becoming too much. Or, I'm probably running the risk of making unnatural things and initially repulsive incidents sound natural, acceptable or even attractive in the long run. But that's only for the still media-unsavvy (to make something look ordinary and the most natural thing in the world, bombard the reader/viewer with constant exposure to that which you'd like to seem ordinary and natural). Hopefully, this makes you think about your own awareness (or lack of it) of how you're reacting to the media's manipulation, too.

Sexual affairs between pupils and teachers 'can be beneficial' says UK prof

Animal rights activist: 'Kill the researchers'

Hopefully, too, remaining passive won't be an option for you. That's being part of the problem, not the solution. And nobody would want that.

Monday, November 14, 2005

The decency in every person

"Each person has inside a basic decency and goodness. If he listens to it and acts on it, he is giving a great deal of what it is the world needs most. It is not complicated but it takes courage. It takes courage for a person to listen to his own good."

- Pablo Casals (1876-1973), Spanish cellist and conductor, known for his virtuosic technique, skilled interpretation and consummate musicianship

Keeping the dirt at bay

Nobody said it would be easy. A lot of us want decency to prevail in society; many are actually working to battle the spread of smut and to protect families and children, especially, from the effects of pornography.

In the United States, here's the latest on the initiatives to keep the media as smut-free as possible:

Officials and advocacy groups discuss keeping
electronic devices smut-free.

Pornography is an insidious problem that is having
devastating effects.

Dowry and decadence

Is this a case of materialism?
Holding on to destructive traditions?
Simple prejudice?

Whichever it is, something NEEDS to be done about it.

A stubborn practice

By John Lancaster

India’s middle class grows, but ugly dowry war tradition persists.

Charanpreet Kaur, 19, had been married less than nine months when her husband and his family decided it was time for her to go.

Trapping her in the bathroom, her husband clamped his hand over her mouth while his father doused her with kerosene, according to a police document.

The father then lit a match, setting his daughter-in-law on fire. She died five days later.
India’s endless dowry wars had claimed another victim.

Notwithstanding the gold jewellery, colour television set and other finery that served as the price of admission to her husband’s middle-class Sikh household, Charanpreet’s new relations were not satisfied with the bounty and kept demanding more, according to Charanpreet’s relatives and the statement she gave investigators before she died.

“Even before this incident my father-in-law used to put pressure on me to get more money,” said the statement by the young woman, who was three months pregnant.

Unusual only because Charanpreet lived long enough to point a finger at her alleged attackers, who claimed the fire was accidental, the case underscores the deeply entrenched nature of dowry — and its grim corollary, the murder of young brides whose families fail to ante up — even in the face of rising levels of income and education linked to India’s fast-growing economy.

You can read the rest at Gulf News

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Fighting spirit!


Friday, November 04, 2005

Advertising and us

Radio commercials announcing the upcoming Advertising Congress in the Philippines have been hitting the airwaves more often the past few weeks. It's to be held sometime this month, and as always, advertising and marketing of the annual event have shown uncanny creativity and imagination (it is, after all, a gathering of people in an industry that relies largely on creativity -- artistic or otherwise).

This document I dug up recently couldn't have resurfaced at a better time! It's a well-thought out speech delivered at the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the World Federation of Advertisers, held in Brussels in October 2003. Here's an excerpt from the speech that was voted best of the Conference:

Ethics in Advertising
Sound advertising makes useful products and services known; it contributes to wider employment; it educates the public; in so many ways, it contributes to raising the standard of living; it promotes understanding and tolerance.

On a more profound level, I would like to discuss with you several principles and concerns.

‘Being is better than having’

The first principle is: Being is better than having.

There are some people who think that if they don’t have the fanciest car or the latest shoes or the shirt with the correct logo, they are “out of it,” not worthy of the esteem of their peers.

You and I know that “being is better than having,” that our essential God-given human dignity is not based upon the possessions which we have. We also know that our dignity is enhanced not by the shirt we wear or the car we drive but by the virtues we manifest and by our authenticity and integrity.

I think you, as advertisers, face a terrible dilemma: you obviously want to sell your product or service, but very few of you, I am convinced, want to make people feel bad or unworthy if they cannot afford to buy the product or service you are advertising.

In short, in your advertising, try not to put poor people down, even subconsciously.

Emphasize quality, emphasize efficiency, emphasize even better grooming and cleanliness and good appearance – but please do not suggest that a possession is going to make one person better than another person.

Perhaps not one of you even or ever intends to communicate that message, but that is the message which some people receive, and some young people, in particular, wind up with a very poor self image; not because of who they are but because of what they do not or cannot afford.

Truth is or at least should be a basic principle in advertising as in all communication, and a basic truth for all of us to consider is that being is prior to and indeed essentially better than having.

Treat each person with respect

A second principle is: Each person must be treated with respect.

It frankly surprises me that, as women rightly fight for equality of treatment in politics and in business, they are still so often exploited in the media in general and in advertising in particular as objects, as sex symbols. Such exploitation has now apparently been extended to men as well.

Thus, while no one would deny the justifiable attraction of love and romance in life, I think we should all resent being treated as objects rather than as persons. We resent it as employees if we are treated as factors of production rather than as persons; we can resent it in advertising if individuals depicted are portrayed as objects rather than as persons and, indeed, if we – the audience of consumers – are treated as so many numbers to be reached instead of as persons to whom an important message is to be communicated.

I would hope that communication in general, including and perhaps especially advertising, would keep in mind the priority of the dignity of the human person: the dignity of the persons portrayed, the dignity of the individual members of the audience to be reached.

- Archbishop John P. Foley
President, Pontifical Council for Social Communications
Oct. 28, 2003

A copy of Ethics in Advertising in its entirety can be found here


Tuesday, November 01, 2005

When their lips were sealed

Stories have started coming in about what happened during the Student's Day of Silent Solidarity, in which some 1,200 campuses in and outside the United States participated. You can read all about it (and see some photos) at the event website but here are snippets from a student named S.J. :

A white paper sign I taped to my black shirt read, "I AM SILENT TODAY IN MEMORY OF THE UNBORN BABIES WHO LOST THEIR LIVES BEFORE THEY EVER HAD A VOICE. My mother chose life, and now I'm here. Please pray for others who must make the choice.
Here are some reactions people had when they found out what I was doing:

"I don't believe in picketing abortion clinics, but that silence thing is a good idea. It's like a fast."


"Are you the only one doing it, or are there more?"

*understanding smile and nod*

"Aww... and now I forgot what you ordered 'cause I was reading your shirt..."
(lunch lady)

More stories here

Monday, October 31, 2005

True love and flatter abs

True Love and Flatter Abs: How to navigate teen magazines
By Nancy Gruver

Even with cable and the Internet, many girls still turn to Seventeen, Cosmo Girl and Teen Vogue for the latest on celebrities, fads, fashion, makeup, music, movies, and other “must-buy” products.

Many of these magazines’ articles -- and ads, which can fill as much as 75 percent of the pages -- prey upon girls’ normal adolescent desire to be popular and attractive. They send the damaging message to girls that they are lacking and need certain products to try to make the grade. And they can have quite an impact: Studies have shown a relationship between reading fashion and beauty magazines and loss of self-confidence and healthy body image in girls.

How can we protect the girls in our lives from these hostile messages? Ban the magazines? I don’t advocate that, even though my daughters eventually banned Seventeen themselves, because they felt depressed after reading it. Teen girls need to make such decisions themselves. Rather than turning Cosmo Girl into forbidden fruit, try this:

Read the rest at Common Sense Media

Saturday, October 29, 2005

'By sitting down, she was really standing up for all Americans'

Rosa Parks to lie in honor at State Capitol
By JIM ABRAMS, Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON - In death, Rosa Parks is joining a select few, including presidents and war heroes, accorded a public viewing in the Capitol Rotunda. It's the place where, six years ago, President Clinton and congressional leaders lauded the former seamstress for a simple act of defiance that changed the course of race relations.

Full story at Yahoo! News

It's time for nation's young to follow Rosa Parks' ideals
By Frank Beckmann/Special to The Detroit News

A time to pay tribute
By Jannelle McGrew/Montgomery Advertiser


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