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Monday, March 22, 2004  

Around the blogosphere

Let me apologize for not outlinking as much as I have in the past. That has happened mainly because I've been very busy. It is easier to write an entry than to read weblogs until I find something that strikes a note with me, and, is both timely and blogworthy. There is a list of about 150 fine blogs under Links. I hope you took it upon yourself to visit some of them. I have been out reading and do have some suggestions today.

A not so new, new blog

Funk Digital is a year old, like Mac-a-ro-nies, but I discovered it recently. The proprietor, MetalFace, focuses mainly on music and technology, but doesn't neglect politics and current affairs. His music of choice is hip hop, a genre not covered nearly as much as mainstream pop in the blogosphere.

Among MetalFace's links currently are pieces about Iraq and the problem of out of control sexuality among low-income adolescents. I believe it is becoming more and more difficult for bloggers not to consider politics and current events as the country gets into deeper and deeper trouble both domestically and internationally. Heck, even network television is exploring the implications of Bush-era policies, as you know if you caught The Practice last night.

Not MYOB in Iraq

My old blog friend composer Richard Einhorn is back from a break and blogging strongly at Tristero. He is skeptical about evangelical Christians' efforts to convert Muslims -- in Iraq, of all places.

Invade Their Country, Kill Their Leaders, And Convert Them To Christianity

Ann Coulter had it exactly right. And that's how many Iraqis look at the Bush occupation of their country. And in the LA Times today is a disgraceful article that makes the idiotic buffoons who are over there trying to "save souls" look like some kind of heroes. Buried towards the end, finally a voice of reason:

"[The evangelical prosletyzing in Iraq] adds to a growing perception that all Americans want to convert Muslims," said Leanne Clausen with Christian Peacemaker Teams, an American aid group that does not proselytize. Nonevangelical Iraqi churches have been vandalized in recent weeks. Newspaper editorials and Islamic clerics charge that Americans are in Iraq on a religious crusade. Clausen warned: "The missionaries coming here don't realize the danger they are placing us in."

Some of those dangers extend to missionaries visiting Iraq who are unprepared for violence. Independent missionaries working in Iraq have little or no formal training for war zones. Some are just American pastors who fly to Iraq and begin working on behalf of a new church.

Once again, there is a huge difference between Christianity and Christianism. It's time to stop confusing them.

I believe the combination of Christian evangelism and occupation of Iraq simultaneously is potentially combustible. Allowing the missionaries there undermines the claim that the United States and its allies are not engaged in a war against Islam. I also fail to understand why untrained missionaries have free access to a dangerous country while Americans are dissuaded from traveling to other predominantly Muslim nations by our government.

What can I, a former reporter, say about journalists who don't actually see the major issues in what they write about? Well, contrary to the image of 'the liberal media,' most reporters I've known are mainstream people. They don't necessarily question the status quo. Furthermore, there are some who are just plain inept. I don't mean the Jayson Blairs of the field either. There are thousands more reporters who fail in their mission -- understanding what news is and writing articles to reflect that -- every day. Their failures are usually in unflamboyant ways such as not questioning whether it is a good idea for Christians to be be in Iraq seeking converts.

Ph.D from a black hole

I avoid pseudoscience about relationships like I do perfume sections in department stores (I'm really allergic), so I have not read any of the books in which John Gray claims to explain the genders to each other. Sociologist Kieran Healey clued me in on a not so secret secret about Gray.

Men from Mars, Women from Venus, Ph.Ds from Uranus

Via Kevin ‘the Animal’ Drum we learn that John Gray, author of Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus is pretty touchy. He’s threatening to sue a blogger who pointed out last November that Gray’s Ph.D was of dubious provenance. I thought this was pretty well known — I mean, I knew it, and it’s not like I keep up with the news. He got it from Columbia Pacific University, an unaccredited diploma mill somewhere in California. There was a TV story about it a while ago. But though CPU may be defunct (by the by, what computer scientist would not want a degree from CPU?) there are plenty of others. Enroll at Strassford University, for example (discussed further in this CBS news report), or Glencullen University, notionally located in the heart of Dublin1, or just cut to the chase and design your own degree — literally — at Ineedadiploma.com. This last site helpfully reminds you that, although “All our diplomas are printed on high quality parchment paper [and] all transcripts are printed on tamper proof, security paper,” and that  ”You also have the option of adding a security hologram to any transcript”, nevertheless “none of our items are intended to be used for unlawful misrepresentation or fraudulent purposes.” 

1 Glencullen also operates as the University of Wexford, which I suppose isn’t that far from Dublin, but also as the University of San Moritz, which makes you hope the students don’t have to walk across campus to get from one lecture to the next.

Say it ain't so. Surely, a fellow who knows the names of two of the planets doesn't have a fish wrapper Ph.D.

What do I think about Gray's threatened legal action? He might as well save his money. It appears the claim his doctorate came from a diploma mill is true, and truth is a complete defense to claims of defamation. Relax, Gavin.

8:00 PM