Steve Jobs, 1955-2011

By Albert Mohler

The death of Steve Jobs, founder and iconic leader of Apple, is a signal moment in the lives of the “digital generation,” which Jobs, along with a very few other creative geniuses, made possible. Few individuals of any historical epoch can claim to have changed the way so many people live their lives, do their work and engage the products of the culture.

Jobs was one of the most influential cultural creatives of all time. If that seems like an exaggeration, it is only because the products that Jobs and Apple brought into being have become so familiar that they appear as the furnishings of contemporary lives. The personal computer was not invented by Steve Jobs, but he saw the possibility of integrated systems that would allow personal creativity to blossom. He saw products that customers did not even know they needed — and then released the products to the public, creating entire new markets and unleashing an explosion of worldwide technological creativity.

The Apple products that Jobs personally introduced, including the iPod, the iPhone and the iPad, defined a new era. There is now no going back. We are in the digital age to stay. But, that world will now have to reckon with the absence of Steve Jobs.

Born to unwed parents in 1955, Jobs was adopted by a couple in Northern California — the region later to be known as Silicon Valley. In one sense, Jobs was first defined by Silicon Valley. Later, he would return the favor by defining the region on his own terms.

He, along with Stephen Wozniak, developed Apple as an idea and as a company. After dropping out of Reed College, Jobs joined Stephen Wozniak in attending the meetings of the Homebrew Computer Club, which met at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center in Menlo Park, California. They began attending the meetings in 1975. In 1976, they began Apple with just over $1,000 of their own money. By 1981, the company was worth $600 million. In 1983, Apple joined the Fortune 500.

Jobs had his share of technological failures, or disappointments. Nevertheless, even in his years away from Apple (after losing control of the company), Jobs redefined entire industries. He developed Pixar into a digital movie powerhouse, among other things, returning to lead Apple in 1997 and later to become CEO again in 2000. The rest is history.

Christians considering the life and death of Steve Jobs will do well to remember once again the power of an individual life. God has invested massive creative abilities in his human creatures. These are often used for good, and sometimes deployed to evil ends. Steve Jobs devoted his life to a technological dream that he thought would empower humanity. He led creative teams that developed technological wonders, and then he made them seemingly necessary for life in the digital age.

Jobs’ massive creative genius was matched to an almost unerring intuition of taste. His design specifications and attention to aesthetic detail are legendary. He reportedly held product designs, such as the iPhone, in his hand, closing his eyes as he ran his fingers over each surface, mandating changes to make to the product that were, to his mind, aesthetically perfect. He once defined taste as “trying to expose yourself to the best things humans have done and then trying to bring those things into what you are doing.”

His sense of taste — almost an intuition to know in advance what would be considered tasteful — was remarkable. Nevertheless, taste is not a very substantial basis for a worldview, nor can technology save us.

Steve Jobs lived a life that, by secular standards, will be considered legendary. Generations to come will be directly influenced by forces and products that he and his company brought to reality. He died a legend and one of the world’s richest men.

His personal life was far more complicated than his cool and reserved public image suggested. And his worldview, seemingly and vaguely Eastern in orientation (there was speculation that Jobs was Buddhist), was very much a part of the hidden Steve Jobs. In his 2005 commencement address at Stanford University, Jobs said:

“Again, you can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.”

He told the graduating students to pursue their dreams and cited The Whole Earth Catalog, a work that symbolized the quirky culture of Jobs’ youth in northern California: “Stay hungry. Stay foolish.”

In diet, he was a pescetarian, eating fish as the only meat. In public, he was the essence of cool — redefining the role of the CEO as the narrator and public revealer of new technologies and products. In private, beginning in 2004, he was fighting against pancreatic cancer.

In his Stanford address, Jobs told of a saying he first heard as a 17-year-old: “If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you’ll most certainly be right.”

He stepped down as Apple's CEO in August, telling his company’s employee: “I have always said that if there ever came a day when I could no longer meet my duties and expectations as Apple’s CEO, I would be the first to let you know. Unfortunately, that day has come.”

He exited the scene with grace, ensuring that the company he founded would endure when he was off the scene. There is much to learn from his life and his legacy.

At the same time, Christians cannot leave the matter where the secular world will settle on Steve Jobs’ legacy. The secular conversation will evade questions of eternal significance, but Christians cannot. As is the case with so many kings, rulers, inventors, leaders and shapers of history, Christians can learn from Steve Jobs and even admire many of his gifts and contributions. Yet, we must also observe what is missing here.

I am writing this essay on an Apple laptop computer. I am listening to the strains of Bach playing from my iPad via an AirPort Express. My iPhone sits on my desk, downloading a new app from iTunes. Steve Jobs has invaded my life, my house, my office, my car and my desktop — and I am thankful for all of these technologies.

But unerring taste, aesthetic achievement, and technological genius will not save the world. Christians know what the world does not — that the mother tending her child, the farmer planting his crops, the father protecting his family, the couple faithfully living out their marital vows, the factory worker laboring to support his family and the preacher preparing to preach the Word of God are all doing far more important work.

We have to measure life by its eternal impact, even as we are thankful for every individual who makes this world a better place. But, don’t expect eternal impact to be the main concern of the business pages.

My son Christopher, age 19, is very much part of the digital generation — a “digital native” who never knew a time when the digital world was not. To him, and to his generation, Steve Jobs was the worker of wonders. Jobs, said Christoper, “made computing cool” and “brought in the iGeneration.” Texting me after the announcement of Steve Jobs’s death, Christopher wanted to make sure I knew “this is a big deal.” Got it, Christopher. Thanks.

Read also: "Steve Jobs: Trapped by his own dogma"

"Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people's thinking." --Steve Jobs

"Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do." --Steve Jobs

But isn't many of today's people living with the results of Steve Job's thinking? Isn't today's generation being trapped by his dogma? Indeed life is limited, but isn't today's iGG (iGadget Generation) living the kind of life which people like Steve Jobs were crazy enough to conform the world according to their concepts?

Like the proverbial fruit of Eden, once one gets crazy enough to take a bite, the "serpentic" lure to change the world according to one's own concepts becomes irresistible. And so, as these so-called world-changers think, so goes this world.    


Contraception: Why Not? (Abortion as Contraception)


The reason why abortion is a demanded form of contraception among women who have unwanted pregnancies is this:

"We have a phenomena here: About 53% of women who go to abortion clinics say that they were using a contraceptive when they got pregnant." --Dr. Janet Smith

In Thailand, the U.N.-advocated Reproductive Health program has long been implemented but with dismal outcome (please see the video about Thailand's RH program failure on my previous post below). The major reason for many governments' contraception program failure is described by Dr. Janet Smith in the video shown above. And because of this reason, abortion as contraception becomes badly demanded to cope with the program's failure.


Thailand's Unborn: A Case of Reproductive Health Program Failure


Thailand has long been implementing the Reproductive Health program (like the proposed RH bill in our country), and after several years of implementation, its outcome is a dismal failure.

A problem which has more of a psychological/spiritual dimension can't be remedied appropriately with solutions that are merely material in nature and it can't be dealt with effectively if it is addressed in the physical realm alone.
With all of its symptoms and consequences, irresponsible sex is more of a mental attitude problem than it is a physical one. Therefore to address this problem with the use of solutions such as those provided in the proposed Reproductive Health bill -- which primarily includes maternal-and-child healthcare products and services as well as birth-prevention products and services -- is to merely deal with the physical consequences of the problem and does not address the psychological dimension of the problem itself at its very core.

In today's instant-gratification world, the correct and proper teaching of the ABC's of sexual responsibility which is a big part of the most critical phase of youth development has been greatly declining in most of the societies across the globe -- already almost to the point of total neglect. Majority of the young minds of today's information age, on their own, are left freely learning wrong norms from the various forms of media they constantly are exposed to everyday -- the internet, mobile phone, television, radio, movies, magazines, etc. Both at home and in school, parents and educators alike have become seriously negligent of the responsibility of molding the character dimension of the youth. Today's educational systems seem to have failed to prevent the destruction of the balance between material prosperity and spiritual prosperity. More and more focus has been given to career and profession building while less and less focus is given to character formation.

If societies are to succeed in the fight against the consequences of sexual irresponsibility in today's nihilistic and narcissistic world, one key and major factor to be given big focus in the overall strategy is the [re]formation of people's character particularly in the young minds of the youth. Molding them and guiding them spiritually with right values and imparting virtues into their young minds. Approaching the problem this way targets the underlying psychological dimension of the problem of irresponsible sex right at its very core.

Read more: Character Formation: The Only Right Alternative to "RH Bill" for the Youth


"Reduction" Goes Beyond Meddling to Murder

By Albert Mohler

"There are demands worldwide for a procedure to reduce twins to a single pregnancy and it has grown steadily. The Two-Minus-One Pregnancy is one of the most twisted thinking that justifies the killing of the unborn, and the people opting for this procedure try to evade moral responsibility by calling the procedure a “reduction.” But the procedure so dishonestly called “reduction” is really not about mere “meddling.” It is murder!" --Article Quote

Euphemisms are the refuge of moral cowardice, and no euphemism is so cowardly or so deadly as “reduction” — a word that sounds like math, but really means murder. The August 14, 2011 edition of The New York Times Magazine makes this fact clear in its cover story, “The Two-Minus-One Pregnancy.”

Reporter Ruth Padawer first takes her readers into the examination room of an obstetrician who is about to abort one of two fetuses within the womb of a woman identified as “Jenny.” Padawer writes:

As Jenny lay on the obstetrician’s examination table, she was grateful that the ultrasound tech had turned off the overhead screen. She didn’t want to see the two shadows floating inside her. Since making her decision, she had tried hard not to think about them, though she could often think of little else. She was 45 and pregnant after six years of fertility bills, ovulation injections, donor eggs and disappointment — and yet here she was, 14 weeks into her pregnancy, choosing to extinguish one of two healthy fetuses, almost as if having half an abortion. As the doctor inserted the needle into Jenny’s abdomen, aiming at one of the fetuses, Jenny tried not to flinch, caught between intense relief and intense guilt.

Of course, Jenny was not “having half an abortion,” for she was aborting a baby who was just as alive as his or her twin. The “reduction” of multiple pregnancies is now part of the practice of obstetrics, though largely kept from public view. Ruth Padawer explains that the demand for reductions is driven by advances in reproductive technologies and the reluctance of many women to accept a multiple pregnancy. Some of the most widely-used fertility drugs increase the likelihood of a multiple pregnancy, as does the usual process of IVF procedures.

The procedure was first proposed as a means of reducing the risk of having three or more babies in a single pregnancy. In more recent years, the demand to reduce twins to a single pregnancy has grown steadily. At one New York City medical center, over half of all reduction procedures were to reduce twins to a single pregnancy. Padawer’s report is largely about that phenomenon, for the reduction of a pregnancy from twins to a single baby is not about increasing the odds of a healthy delivery, but about the ominous rise of what amounts to personal preference.

Jenny makes this clear. She explains that she had conceived through IVF and an egg donor. Had the pregnancy occurred naturally, she said, “I wouldn’t have reduced this pregnancy, because you feel like if there’s a natural order, then you don’t want to disturb it.” Nevertheless, “The pregnancy was all so consumerish to begin with, and this became yet another thing we could control.”

Those words are amazingly revealing. Those who have tried to justify any and all means of controlling reproduction must face squarely the fact that they have created what amounts to a consumer market for babies — and customers eventually find someone to provide what they demand. When it comes to human life, the stage is set for tragedy.

As Ruth Padawer reports, obstetricians were at first reluctant to reduce twins to a single pregnancy on moral grounds, and many doctors who perform reductions refuse to reduce below twins. But the practice is growing, reflecting a shift in medical practice. She profiles Dr. Mark Evans, who at first refused to reduce twins on moral grounds. In 1988 he co-authored ethical guidelines for reducing pregnancies that declared reductions below twins to be unethical. Evans wrote that doctors should not allow themselves to become “technicians to our patients’ desires.”

And yet, in 2004 Dr. Evans reversed his position on the issue. Padawer explains his rationale:

For one thing, as more women in their 40s and 50s became pregnant (often thanks to donor eggs), they pushed for two-to-one reductions for social reasons. Evans understood why these women didn’t want to be in their 60s worrying about two tempestuous teenagers or two college-tuition bills. He noted that many of the women were in second marriages, and while they wanted to create a child with their new spouse, they did not want two, especially if they had children from a previous marriage. Others had deferred child rearing for careers or education, or were single women tired of waiting for the right partner. Whatever the particulars, these patients concluded that they lacked the resources to deal with the chaos, stereophonic screaming and exhaustion of raising twins.

Note carefully that the justification offered for killing an unborn baby is clearly identified as “social reasons.” The medical rationale he cited cannot be taken seriously, even as he cites “recent studies” that “revealed that the risks of twin pregnancies were greater than previously thought.” As this article makes abundantly clear, the main risk of a twin pregnancy these days is the risk that one of the twins will be intentionally aborted.

“Ethics,” Dr. Evans told Padawer, “evolve with technology.” That is a foundation for murderous medical ethics. The Culture of Death has worked its way into the logic of modern medical ethics to the extent that these obstetricians justify killing healthy babies just because the parents do not want the burden of twins.

Padawer allows many of the mothers seeking reductions to speak of their intentions without any effort to filter their language. One mother said she felt like her triple pregnancy “was a monster.” She eventually found Dr. Evans, who reduced her pregnancy to a single baby. Padawer candidly reports that some women use reductions to choose the sex of their baby. “Until the last decade, most doctors refused even to broach that question,” she reports, “but that ethical demarcation has eroded, as ever more patients lobby for that option and doctors discover that plenty opt for girls.”

In other words, sex-selection abortions would be unethical only if the demand for either sex was out of balance?

To her credit, Ruth Padawer points to the growing consumer market for babies as the root issue. She writes:

We’ve come to believe that the improvements are not only our due but also our responsibility. Just look at the revolution in attitudes toward selecting egg or sperm donors. In the 1970s, when sperm donation took off, most clients were married women with infertile husbands; many couples didn’t want to know about the source of the donation. Today patients in the United States can choose donors based not only on their height, hair color and ethnicity but also on their academic and athletic accomplishments, temperament, hairiness and even the length of a donor’s eyelashes.

“The Two-Minus-One Pregnancy” is one of the most significant articles of recent years. With chilling and unflinching candor, Ruth Padawer virtually forces her readers to see the twisted thinking that justifies the killing of the unborn, and then she tries to evade moral responsibility by calling the procedure a “reduction.”

There is a story behind this story, of course. The intersection where modern reproductive technologies and legal abortion meet is now a deadly place for many unborn babies. In the name of personal preference and for “social reasons,” some women now demand that their multiple babies be aborted so that they will have only the one baby they want.

Padawer says that many Americans are uneasy about this knowledge, perhaps “because the desire for more choices conflicts with our discomfort about meddling with ever more aspects of reproduction.”

But the procedure so dishonestly called “reduction” is really not about mere “meddling.” It is murder.


The Illusion of Freedom Separated from Moral Virtue

By Raymond L. Dennehy
University of San Francisco
Ignatius Insight

(The following are excerpts from Dennehy's essay. Read the complete text of his essay here.)

Liberal democracy cannot survive unless a monistic virtue ethics permeates its culture. A nation whose members lack moral virtue cannot sustain its commitment to freedom and equality for all.

What about a nation whose inhabitants are allowed the freedom to do everything they may wish to do as long as they do not violate anyone else's personal freedom, but do not realize that they have been programmed to desire only what their government determines them to desire? This raises the question: "Is freedom the personal state of being objectively unrestrained or the subjective state of not being aware of being restrained?"

Is it within the realm of plausibility that the majority of members of a political society could think they are free when, in fact, they are not? The answer is "Yes." The principal cause would be the attempt to preserve a freedom that is separated from moral virtue. But "would be" is the subjunctive mood and, thus, belongs to the realm of the merely possible. It is undeniably possible for a population to suffer from the illusion of being free, but the real cannot be inferred from the possible. Agreed. But the reality is already here, evident from practices ratified by legislatures and popular vote, as well as ratified by the courts as constitutionally protected. Each counts as an example of the freedom to "choose one's own ends." In terms of the public vs. private model, they are alleged to belong in the sphere of private behavior insofar as they pertain to actions that do not violate the rights of others. One relevant example is the rapid decline of public and private support for objective and substantive ethics in favor of relativism.

There are two clashing concepts of liberty: negative liberty and positive liberty. Simply expressed, negative liberty holds that freedom is the absence of external restraint, while positive liberty holds that freedom is the opportunity to do what is worth doing.

The argument against a morally neutral conception of freedom collides not only with a fundamental premise of liberal democracy, but also, it seems, with a central tenet of what is accepted as the public philosophy. Michael Sandel succinctly sets forth that tenet:

"The central idea of the public philosophy by which we live is that freedom consists in our capacity to choose our ends for ourselves. Politics should not try to form the character or cultivate the virtue of its citizens, for to do so would be to "legislate morality." Government should not affirm, through its policies or laws, any particular conception of the good life; instead it should provide a neutral framework of rights within which people can choose their own values and ends."

Both conservative and liberal politics are in agreement that "freedom consists in the capacity of people to choose their own ends." The disagreement occurs when one asks whether any specific traits of character are needed for an individual's exercise of freedom, and who has the responsibility for overseeing the acquisition of those character traits. Since republican political theory sees the government's role as that of preparing people to acquire the virtues needed for sharing in self-rule, deliberating with other citizens about what the common good is and how it is to be realized, it entertains a formative conception of politics that demands its involvement with the moral virtues and chosen goals of its citizens. In contrast, the past decades have witnessed the greater influence of the procedural politics of liberal political theory, with its commitment to ensuring equal justice for all without any officially expressed concern for its citizens' personal moral state. The differences between the two theories are real, but they are not what they seem. Both denounce the government's unjustified interference in the lives of its citizens, but differ on what constitutes the injustice.

If positive freedom, especially the metaphysical version, poses threats to a people's freedom to choose their own ends by imposing the state or a higher self as one's true self, so that one is deluded into believing that by obeying the law, one is really obeying oneself, negative freedom hardly offers a better prospect. The possibility of a nation enslaved in their respective and collective actions by their vices, but believing they act freely because they do what they wish, is as disturbing as it is plausible.

The illusion reveals itself in the inconsistency between the criticism of objective moral norms as the fulfillment of personal freedom and the fact that living and acting without moral virtue inevitably yokes one's will to one and the same object of desire. The standard criticism of positive freedom is that the demand that one act according to putative objective standards in order to be free is to confuse freedom with things, which, however laudable--truth, justice, beauty, goodness, or the law--are not what freedom is. The criticism goes on to say that the confusion is dangerous, since it can delude a population into believing that their adherence to those kinds of lofty standards makes them free when it fact it allows an oppressive regime to control their lives.

But a characteristic of the lack of virtue, and surely of the state of vice, is the will's enslavement to a specific object of desire. So, despite insisting that to be free, the individual must have before him a range of options, the lack of virtue produces the opposite: prospective choices are inevitably evaluated in terms of their relation to the principal object of one's vice.

Virtue ethics offers the solution to the extent that it furnishes the standard for action based on understanding and choice unhampered by un-disciplined passions and appetites. For the virtuous person, freedom is negative in the truest sense insofar as he or she enjoys a freedom from both external restraints and the inner restraints of vice. That is the route to human flourishing, both for self-fulfillment and preparation for citizenship. The argument for a virtuous society must not be allowed to go begging. Thomas Aquinas observed that after one loses the virtue of chastity, thereby succumbing to the vice of lust, the next virtue to be lost is justice, the obligation to pay each his due. That is because vice, being a malignancy, metastasizes.

The enduring ideal is a democracy that confers the widest latitude for personal freedom on its members, the vast majority of whom, including elected officials and judges, have characters shaped by a monistic virtue ethics. The crucial question is, who has the responsibility of inculcating ethics in society? The cackling of the sacred geese warned ancient Rome of impending danger. Where are our geese?


WYD (Whacked Youth Day) in London



See beyond physical eyes -- discern with spiritual eyesight; for in the likeness of the dark spirit this thing has happened today, so shall it be like at an inappropriate time to come. On that day, physically, things are not exactly the same, yet the spirit behind it all is the same dark spirit as today.

Therefore to those who are able to see with the eyes of the Spirit, there is yet enough time to strengthen yourselves and your brothers in the Lord, for your strength is in His might.

[Ephesians 6:11-18]

Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.

For our wrestling is not against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world's rulers of the darkness of this age, and against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.

Therefore, put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and, having done all, to stand.

Stand therefore, having the utility belt of truth buckled around your waist, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having fitted your feet with the preparation of the Gospel of peace; above all, taking up the shield of faith, with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; with all prayer and requests, praying at all times in the Spirit, and being watchful to this end in all perseverance and requests for all the holy ones.


Rendering to God the things that are Caesar's

State Support for Religion

By: Randy David
Philippine Daily Inquirer

Today in Western Europe, fewer and fewer people go to church. Yet, many modern states in that part of the world continue to collect religion’s share of public taxes. Citizens are asked to indicate to which religious group they belong, and, on this basis, a percentage of the tax collected from them is turned over to their church. If a taxpayer signifies that he has no religious affiliation, the corresponding religious tax is not collected. This valuable tax support has, however, not been enough to keep many centuries-old cathedrals and monuments from languishing in neglect and disrepair. This situation has often forced governments to take full responsibility for their rehabilitation and maintenance in recognition of their historic and cultural significance.

In contrast, religious communities in our country are left on their own to collect contributions from their members in order to sustain themselves. They cannot and do not expect the government to do this for them, consistent with our interpretation of the principle of Church-State separation. Still, religious practice remains fervent here, and churches retain a considerable influence in the public sphere that is seldom seen in modern secular societies.

State support for religion has a long history in Europe. In pre-modern times, the promotion of a religious faith was regarded as a primary duty of the state. Political power was routinely used to suppress other religions. Rulers needed religion to strengthen their legitimacy, and religion needed rulers to defend the one true faith. The gradual differentiation of politics from religion gave rise to the modern state and ended this institutional coupling.

But even in modern societies, such differentiation has not entailed a total break from religion. Governments continue to recognize the positive value of religion to society as a source of moral orientation and as a force for social integration. I learned from a German friend that in his country, at least until the 1950s, religious instruction was offered in public schools, which pupils had the option to skip if their parents did not think they needed it. The state paid the salaries of these teachers.

Modern governments have been equally mindful of the religious content of what is regarded as the cultural heritage of the nation. If one visits any of Europe’s majestic churches today, one is likely to find more tourists than religious devotees staring at their vaulted ceilings, a fact that may suggest that state support for these monuments has more to do with commerce than with religion. But, even socialist Cuba, which is explicitly atheistic, finds it important to preserve its colonial cathedrals as part of the nation’s rich architectural heritage instead of seeing them crumble into ruins.

Again, in contrast to Europe, our resolve to keep Church and State separate from one another is sometimes interpreted so dogmatically that it would outlaw any kind of support for religion, beyond giving churches tax-free privileges. Many fail to see that what the Constitution prohibits is not state support for religion per se but the establishment or preferential treatment by the state of a particular religion.

But, irony of all ironies, this situation has not prevented public officials from showering religious clerics with gifts and favors. The recent revelations made by the new administration of the Philippine Charity and Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) of the disbursement of funds earmarked for charity to some bishops in the form of personal vehicles attest to the existence of this practice. It appears to have reached its peak during the time of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. Records show that Arroyo treated the PCSO as her own personal bank for dispensing largesse. A favorite defender of her presidency within the Catholic hierarchy, Butuan Bishop Juan de Dios Pueblos, wrote her a letter in March 2009 asking for a car as birthday gift. She promptly endorsed this ridiculous request to the PCSO “for appropriate action, please.” Three months later, the PCSO sent a check for P1.7 million to the Butuan diocese, care of Bishop Pueblos. What is one to make of this?

It seems to me that what is being violated here is not so much the principle of Church-State separation or the specific prohibition against using public funds in support of a particular religion. What we have here is plain and simple corruption—the appropriation of public funds for private purposes. The gift to Bishop Pueblos has less to do with advancing the cause of any church or religion than with rewarding him as an individual for his past and future political services. From the way he has conducted himself, it is clear that the bishop is no less a politician than the patron who showers him with gifts. He is as much a liability to religion as he is a problem to politics.

Although I do not regard myself as religious, I am nonetheless cognizant of the function of religious communication in even the most modern society. I believe it is crucial for every society to have a standpoint from which to measure and interrogate its notion of development. One such standpoint is that of perfection. It is not to say that only religion can fulfill this function, but the most potent standpoints of perfection have come from religion.

Read also: Do away with "Inappropriate Exchange of Generosity" by The Windchime


Facebook Divorce Stats: Couples 'Be Wise,' Experts Say

By Michael Foust

Surveys that show Facebook being cited more and more in divorce cases should make spouses think twice before "friending" someone of the opposite sex, experts say.

A 2010 survey by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers showed that 81 percent of "the nation's top divorce attorneys" reported an increase in social networking websites being used as evidence in divorce cases. Facebook is the leader, being cited in 66 percent of cases that involve online evidence.

"We're coming across it more and more," clinical psychologist Steven Kimmons of Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood, Ill., said in a news release. "One spouse connects online with someone they knew from high school. The person is emotionally available and they start communicating through Facebook. Within a short amount of time, the sharing of personal stories can lead to a deepened sense of intimacy, which in turn can point the couple in the direction of physical contact."

The Facebook-divorce link has been discussed widely in the social media realm lately thanks to a survey from the United Kingdom supposedly showing Facebook being at least partially blamed for one in five of all divorces. The data is from a U.K. online divorce service that found the word "Facebook" appearing in 989 of the company's 5,000 divorce petitions, all of which were uncontested, The Wall Street Journal reported. The company's managing director called the survey "unscientific."

Whether or not Facebook is a reason for one in five divorces, it is becoming an increasing problem in marriages, Kimmons and other marriage experts say.

Couples should take common sense safeguards on Facebook, said Michael Martin, vice president for academic affairs and professor of New Testament studies at Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary in Mill Valley, Calif.

"People need to manage the beginning of the relationship," Martin told Baptist Press. "If somebody contacts you from your past and wants to strike up a friendship -- somebody that you dated once or somebody that you knew in high school or college, there's nothing necessarily wrong with entering into that relationship. Just do it along with your spouse. Include your spouse into the conversation. If you're willing to do that openly, then it's likely there's nothing at all wrong with the Facebook relationship. If you are being invited into a conversation that you are uncomfortable including your spouse in, then you should not start the relationship."

There "absolutely" are times when a husband or wife should decline a Facebook friend invitation from someone of the opposite sex, Martin said.

Thomas White, vice president for student services and communications at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, said "unhealthy marriages, unguarded partners and fallen humanity" -- not technology -- are the problem. White, who also is an associate professor of theology, offered four tips for spouses who are on Facebook:

-- Give your spouse the password and the "freedom to check your Facebook at any time."

-- Disable Facebook's chat function. "It provides a way to communicate without any record and can lead to a false sense of safety similar to the woman in Proverbs 7 whose husband was away," White said.

-- Set all Facebook messages to forward to someone else's email address who can serve as an accountability partner. An additional layer of accountability, White said, would be to have the messages forwarded to your spouse's email. White said his messages are forwarded to his work e-mail which his assistants view.

-- Don't accept a past romantic interest's friend request -- or send a request -- until discussing it with your spouse.

"Facebook is not evil, but as with all forms of technology, we have to be wise in how we use them," White said.

Ease of communication has opened the door to all sorts of possibilities -- good and bad -- White and Martin said. Prior to the Internet and Facebook, a person would have had to spend days, weeks or even months to try to find someone they knew years ago.

"An out-of-the-blue phone call would have been a much bolder action," White said.

Now, though, a person can do that in seconds, "simply by just going on Facebook or any other social networking site and doing a search for that person," Martin said.

"It can almost be done on a whim, and that's part of the problem," Martin said. "A thing done on a whim can evolve into a secret relationship that evolves into an emotional attachment that then leads to a divorce. There are some early warning signs that a person should note in order to avoid that kind of thing happening."

Facebook relationships, Martin said, are "real relationships."

"It's not a game. It's not a fantasy. These are real relationships.... People can form powerful, genuinely emotional attachments as a result of an exchange that is initially nothing more than an online exchange," Martin said. "Because these relationships are real and relationships shape our lives, we need to manage the beginning of a relationship with an eye toward the possible outcomes of that relationship. In other words, you don't toy with a dangerous animal. If there is something that a person would not do in terms of a face-to-face relationship -- an intimate discussion or a private discussion -- they should not do it on Facebook. Otherwise, they are starting down a path which can have extremely negative consequences."


The Beast Is Rapidly Growing More Than Ever


Cisco predicts that the Internet will quadruple in size over the next four years. In fact, the incremental growth in Internet traffic between 2014 and 2015 will be 17.2 exabytes per month. That growth alone is roughly the amount of all global Internet traffic recorded last year.

Video And Mobile Are Breaking The Internet
By David Goldman @CNNMoneyTech

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- Internet usage is growing so rapidly that just its incremental, one-year growth between 2014 and 2015 will be equal to all the Internet traffic recorded worldwide last year.

Four years from now, the Internet's traffic volume will be so large that every five minutes it will be the equivalent of downloading every movie ever made. In 2015, monthly Internet traffic will reach the equivalent of 20 billion DVDs, 19 trillion MP3s or 500 quadrillion text messages.

Those are just some of the mind-blowing statistics released Wednesday in Cisco's annual Visual Networking Index, a comprehensive view and forecast of the data trends shaping the Internet.

Experts consider Cisco's forecast to be the gold standard for Internet analysis. The annual study, which began in 2008, has historically been accurate to within a 5% to 10% deviation -- usually on the conservative side.

"I think a lot of analysts viewed it as self-serving, but it's taken on much greater importance as some of the forecasts have turned out to be fairly accurate," said Vince Vittore, analyst at Yankee Group.

Cisco (CSCO, Fortune 500) predicts that by 2015, Internet traffic will be significantly more mobile, and it will be mostly made up of video. The data is cool, but the real-world impact may be overwhelming.

Mobile: Traffic generated by mobile devices has been one of the fastest-growing segments of the Internet for years: Mobile traffic in 2010 alone was triple the size of the entire Internet in 2000.

But it's growing even larger. The proliferation of smartphones, netbooks and tablets means that there will be roughly one mobile device for every individual alive in 2015. Cisco predicts there will be 7.1 billion mobile, connected devices four years from now, at which point there will be 7.2 billion people on Earth, according to the World Bank.

That will send mobile traffic through the roof. Internet usage on mobile devices will grow by more than 26-fold between last year and 2015, Cisco predicts.

It's not just smartphones driving that traffic. Internet traffic generated just by tablets -- which barely existed two years ago -- will be larger in 2015 than the size of the entire mobile Internet in 2010.

All of that traffic is going to place a tremendous burden on the world's wireless infrastructure. As a result, Cisco believes networks will have to rapidly adopt significantly more efficient technologies.

"4G adoption will have to happen fast, and perhaps faster than what we have anticipated," said Suraj Shetty, vice president at Cisco.

Video: Last year, video comprised the majority of consumer Internet traffic for the first time, making up 53% of all uploads and downloads. By 2015, video traffic will more than quadruple, and the Internet will be two-thirds made up of video.

If you include peer-to-peer file sharing, including services like BitTorrent, then video actually will make up 90% of all Internet traffic in four years, Cisco predicts.

By 2015, 1 million minutes of video -- the equivalent of 674 consecutive days of viewing -- will cross the Internet every second, and the community of online video users will double to just over 1 billion people.

Though YouTube, live sports, and video calling are all growing, more than half of Internet video will be made up of long-form streaming videos, such as movies and TV shows delivered by services like Hulu and Netflix (NFLX).

Just as mobile data is expected to overload wireless networks, fixed broadband lines may not be able to cope with the increase in video watching either. As a result, service providers will have to get creative about how they deliver video to end users.

"There's a very clear Netflix impact, which consumes a tremendous amount of bandwidth," Shetty said. "Networks are going to have to become intelligent, because they cannot handle video the same way they handle Web traffic. You can't just keep throwing bandwidth at this problem."

A Cell Tower That Fits In The Palm Of Your Hand?


NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- As mobile data usage skyrockets, wireless companies are spending billions each year to maximize capacity, and consumers end up footing the cost in the form of higher cell phone bills.

But a cube that fits in the palm of your hand could help solve that problem.

It's called lightRadio, a Rubik's cube-sized device made by Alcatel-Lucent (ALU) that takes all of the components of a cell phone tower and compresses them down into a 2.3-inch block. Unlike today's cell towers and antennas, which are large, inefficient and expensive to maintain, lightRadio is tiny, capacious and power-sipping.

As tiny as it is, it has been tasked with solving an enormous problem.

The global wireless industry is spending $210 billion a year to operate their networks, and $50 billion to upgrade them, according to Alcatel-Lucent and PRTM. Networks are dealing with that cost by putting data caps in place with heavy overage charges and by raising prices on their smartphone and tablet plans.

Despite all that spending and pressure on consumers to curb their data usage, the networks are fighting a losing battle. Mobile data usage is expected to grow 30 times in the next four to five years and 500 times in the next ten years, according to Alcatel-Lucent.

With a combination of miniaturization and cloud technology, lightRadio just might be able to help wireless carriers keep pace with their customers.

When conceiving of lightRadio, Alcatel-Lucent's engineers stripped out all the heavy power equipment that controls modern cell towers, and moved them to centralized stations. That allows the lightRadio cubes to be made small enough to be deployed virtually anywhere and practically inconspicuously: Atop bus station awnings, on the side of buildings or on lamp posts.

Their small size and centralized operation lets wireless companies control the cubes virtually. That makes the antennas up to 30% more efficient than current cell towers. Live data about who is using the cubes can be assessed, and the antennas' directional beams can be shifted to maximize their potential. For instance, radios may be pointed in one direction as people are coming to work in the morning and another direction as they're leaving work at the end of the day.

The lightRadio units also contain multi-generational antennas that can relay 2G, 3G and 4G network signals all from the same cube. That cuts down on interference and doubles the number of bits that can be sent through the air.

Today's cell towers, by contrast, send power in all different directions, most of which is lost, since it doesn't reach anyone's particular devices. They're inefficient in other ways as well: Roughly half of the power from cell towers' base stations is lost before it makes its way up to the antennas at the top of the tower. And they have separate antennas for 2G, 3G and 4G networks, causing interference problems.

All of lightRadio's smart technology and power efficiency can help cut carriers' operating costs in half, Alcatel-Lucent believes.

"We need to think differently about this, because no one wants limits," said Tod Sizer, head of wireless research at Alcatel-Lucent's Bell Laboratories. "We hope to solve this problem so that the AT&Ts (T, Fortune 500), Verizons (VZ, Fortune 500) and Sprints (S, Fortune 500) of the world will be able to provide the data capacity that is needed by the customer."

The lightRadio trials will begin in September 2011, and the company expects to be producing them in volume by 2012. Several carriers have expressed interest in the technology, and Sprint Nextel plans to try out the cubes later this year.

"Sprint is talking to Alcatel Lucent about this technology and we will be working with them to test and evaluate it," a Sprint spokeswoman said. "We have been aggressive in smaller factor cell sites to help us support the growth in data traffic."

Sizer said he sees lightRadio as a complimentary technology to existing cell towers. Those big antennas still serve a purpose, providing long distance signals or beams down a highway.

But as wireless companies add infrastructure to keep up with the ever-rising data demands from tablets and smartphones, carriers are finding that they're running into a cost and a space issue: Towers are expensive, and they're running out of room to erect new ones.

Each 1.5-Watt lightRadio cube powers about a two-block radius, so in urban areas, they can be deployed throughout the city and stacked like Lego blocks in stadiums or other areas that need extra capacity. In rural areas, they can be deployed atop existing cell towers in arrays.

"The thing that's incenting us to move quickly is that more and more people are using smartphones, and my customers are being crushed by the enormous amount of data that people want to use," said Sizer. "We have to meet the access demands of the consumer, who wants to access data in any place."


Internet Addiction


The Virtual Creature
By The Windchime

Unless our internet gadgets and devices are all broken (perhaps due to excessive use or abuse), we would probably not go to bed early and consequently would not be able to wake up early. In the past there was a saying that goes this way: "Early to bed and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise." Today the saying now becomes: "Early to bed and early to rise is a sure sign that your computer is already a broken device."

According to studies conducted by some experts, the internet is fast becoming the number one "psychological addiction" of the 21st century that is sweeping the entire globe and has affected and is continuing to affect millions of people from all walks of life, race, religion, and ethnicity.

Unlike any other form of addiction, the negative effects of internet addiction are subtle and bring far more gradual destruction in the long run to the addicted person compared with being addicted to drugs or alcohol or any other form of psychological dependency.

Things have their inherent potential to be something good or bad, but it all depends on how they are used or intended to be used. For instance, drugs are good when they are used for the appropriate treatment of sickness, otherwise they can be harmful. Or work for instance, it can be a productive expending of human energy when done with appropriate regulations and within proper confines, otherwise over-zealous motivation for it could turn a person into a self-draining workaholic. Right kind and right amount of alcohol in the body is good for the heart and other organs, but abuse it and you could turn into a pathetic alcoholic.

Much so, the internet can be good or bad. How we use or abuse it makes the difference. The internet's potential is so great and vast as the ocean. Because of its tremendous capability to feed our minds with just about anything the mind is capable of imagining and able to process and comprehend, it carries both the productive and destructive power to effect or cause both good and bad things to happen to people who are hooked on it, as well as influence the worldwide community. Nothing like this thing had ever been made before! Its awesome power makes it the greatest tool for good and evil that mankind has ever created.

Realize, that every time you touch a keyboard, your fingers are stroking a part of this great man-made creation. And unless you know exactly what you are doing, beware! For while most people might just innocently and unknowingly be tickling the creature into some playful amusement, there are people whose fingers intently goad the creature into causing something evil to happen. Or worse, you may not know it but your fingers might be poking the creature into causing unintended serious negative consequences you are totally oblivious of.

Remember, the moment you log-in to the WWW (World Wide Web), you momentarily become a part of it! And whatever is in your mind becomes a part of the creature's mind and whatever information or idea you communicate out through the web becomes yet another talking voice of the creature. From the great multitude of thoughts that originate from the individual souls hooked up to the internet, the great creature draws its awesome power to influence and possess people's hearts and minds. With our addiction to the internet, we become the empowering force behind the creature. Through the internet we become globally united as one. Collectively therefore, we are the Virtual Creature (or "Beast", if you like).

The internet is now growing so fast and is becoming stronger and wilder each day. Millions upon millions of people have come to embrace it and believe in the awesome potential of its power. Internet followers and patronizers believe that with the touch of the keyboard buttons, together they can and are changing the world. It has become the new obsession of the recent century. And this virtual creature is now becoming the world's new religion.

Just as the mind is unstoppable, so is this virtual creature. Its power is like the mighty wind. Its force is more stronger than the biggest ocean waves sweeping across the lands. Its domination is as vast as the ocean. Who can subdue it?

The sound of a great multitude of people is like the sound of the waves of the ocean. And out of the seas emerges a great creature who could talk and speak in many languages and it has the power to perform wonders and miracles and many have come to worship it.


Tale of two interventions

By Conrado de Quiros
Philippine Daily Inquirer

What makes the Iraq War completely condemnable and today’s Allied strikes at Libya perfectly laudable?

First is that the Iraq War had no UN sanction while today’s strikes do.

Had another country done what the US did in 2003, that country would have been called a rogue state and faced reprisals. The UN saw no compelling reason to take military action against Iraq. It never bought the US line that Saddam Hussein was armed with weapons of mass destruction and were ready to use them against the US. All its experts were saying Saddam’s force was spent, all he had were weapons of mass delusion.

The US went on to invade Iraq anyway, but not before disparaging the one body that had been the repository of post-war world opinion, depicting it as having become irrelevant in today’s world. In lieu of the UN, all the US had was the Coalition of the Conscripted, countries like the Philippines headed by someone who counted on the US to be quiet while she oppressed her people and/or while she plotted to steal the vote the following year.

Today’s Allied strikes have UN sanction and the backing of world opinion. It wasn’t just the Libyan rebels who celebrated after the UN’s declaration of a no-fly zone over Libya, firing rockets in the air and chanting “God is the greatest.” The world did. Except for China and a few countries which expressed reservations about the UN resolution. China opposes military action in international relations, a generally good position to maintain except in cases that involve genocide or mass murder, cases like Bosnia, Rwanda, and increasingly, yes, Libya.

Second is that the Iraq War was first and last a response to the needs of the American government while the air strikes are first and last a response to the needs of the Libyan people.

When no weapons of mass destruction were found in Iraq, as the Americans who opposed the war expected, though they were the minority drowned out by a general paranoia and jingoism fueled by Congress and the media which went along with the war, the official line promptly went on another track. That was that the invasion of Iraq was a war of liberation to free the Iraqi people from the clutches of Saddam. Which was all very fine, except for several things. One was that the world did not lack for SOBs except that the others were America’s SOBs, and in any case had no vast supplies of oil. Two was that there was no home-grown revolt against Saddam, other than all sorts of religious and tribal schisms. Three was that the Iraqi people themselves, including women and children, took the brunt of liberation from America’s smart bombs, sending their keening and lamentations to heaven.

The Libyan civil war began as an uprising by the Libyan people following similar uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt that had ousted long-time rulers, Ben Ali and Mubarak. Remarkably, all three took place on the eve of the 25th anniversary of the EDSA revolution, giving us to see with new eyes something important we have bequeathed to the world. The first two took the same route as EDSA (some of the parallels, including the rulers vowing to fight till death but slinking away in the night, are uncanny), the last has not. Determined to fight on despite his alienation from his own people and those of the world, Gadhafi has turned the uprising into a civil war, threatening wholesale slaughter upon his enemies.

International law, which the UN exists to uphold, is clear on the point: You do not interfere in the affairs of another country in the name of any good, implied or stated. The only time you may do so is on humanitarian grounds, to prevent an imminent bloodbath. The point, and a most insightful one, is that the intervention is bound to produce consequences that are worse than the bad it means to correct. Even if the American invasion of Iraq represented a patent good—and the cynicism of its motives, the deviousness with which its government sold it to the public, and the arrogance with which it carried it out preclude that idea—it would have remained unjustifiable.

Not so the strikes on Libya.

Third is that the Iraq War paid service to a lie, the strikes on Libya pay service to the truth.

At the very least, the first was quite literally premised on the lie that Iraq posed an imminent threat to the US. Saddam had no reason to threaten the US and had nothing to threaten the US with. He had no visible connection to al-Qaida, which the US believed to have mounted 9/11. As to his being barbaric, capable of wholesale carnage via poison gas, the US, along with France, Britain, and other Arab countries did not particularly mind when he was doing that to the Iranians, even calling him at the time “an agent of the civilized world.”

There is little doubt that Gadhafi would first obliterate his people before he gives in to them. He is the nightmare that would have happened to us if Marcos had dug in.

At the very most, the first is premised on the bigger lie, shown up by history: that liberation can come from outside, that freedom can be given as a gift.

At the end of the day, when Gadhafi is gone (and he will be gone whether it takes a month, a year, or several years), he cannot stop the march of history which has often taken the form of the people expressing their wrath, it will be because of the people and not their benefactors. It will be because the people have suffered, because the people have struggled, because the people have spoken. Freedom is never given, it is fought for. Liberty is never granted, it is earned. With blood and tears. The world will have helped to lessen the blood and stemmed the tears, but in the end the victory, and liberation, will have been won by the Libyan people themselves.

There’s no grander truth than that.


The World Needs Leaders Who Can Empower Rather Than Control

[...] Over the last few decades, leaders have encouraged people to raise the bar of leadership. They have drawn heavily from traditional leadership models and principles, and they have elevated the values of excellence and efficiency. But today's generation of young world-changers has grown skeptical of these values and the leadership principles that produced them. They are increasingly seen as too corporate, too controlling, and the source of too much consumerism.

Today's young generation is hungry for something more than the 15 principles for building a better team or the 21 reasons why you should be a leader. They are not content with just filling a role on a task force for growth. They are hungry for more. They want a voice. They want influence. They are not a generation that is merely content with just receiving a vision; they want to be part of shaping and creating the vision. [...]

Click here to read full text.


Analyzing the Developments of Libya's Uprising (Inside Story - Al Jazeera)


02/21/2011 - Crushing Libya's revolt. The unrest in Libya started out as a series of protests inspired by popular revolts in neighboring Egypt and Tunisia but was met by a fierce security crackdown and the use of militias.

02/22/2011 - Libya: Ready for civil war? As protests spread across the country, Seif al-Islam Gaddafi vowed that the regime would "fight to the last bullet".

02/23/2001 - Libya on the brink. Libya's embattled leader clings to power, with his military unleashing the bloodiest crackdown among the wave of protests sweeping the Arab world. But how long can Muammar Gaddafi survive? And what are the risks if his regime is toppled?

02/24/2011 - Embattled but defiant. A former member of Gaddafi's closest circle gives an insight into the Libyan leader's state of mind.


Libya's Lucrative Ties (Riz Khan - Al Jazeera)


02/23/2011 - Libya's lucrative ties. As world leaders condemn violence against protesters, what is at stake for Western nations with close ties to Gaddafi?


Truthfullness: Libya's Challenge To The International Community?


Khaled Al Ga'aeem, under-secretary of Libya's foreign ministry, phoned Al Jazeera on Monday night. This is a translation of part of the subsequent conversation, which aired live.

Feb 22 (Reuters) - African mercenaries are being used by Libya to crush protests, prompting some army troops to switch sides to the opposition, Libya's ambassador to India, who resigned in the wake of the crackdown, said on Tuesday.

"They are from Africa, and speak French and other languages," Ali al-Essawi told Reuters in an interview, adding that he was receiving information from sources within the OPEC-member country.

Essawi, who has left the embassy since he resigned on Monday to protest the violent crackdown and is now staying at a hotel in New Delhi, said he had been told there had been army defections.

"They (troops) are Libyans and they cannot see foreigners killing Libyans so they moved beside the people," Essawi said, looking nervous and agitated.

Diplomats have said the U.N. Security Council would hold a closed-door meeting on Tuesday to discuss the crisis in Libya.

"Libyans cannot do anything against the air fighters. We do not call for international troops, but we call on the international community to save the Libyans," Essawi said.

Earlier on Tuesday, Essawi told Reuters that he expected more diplomats at foreign missions to resign due to the ongoing violence in Libya. He said ambassadors in China, Poland, Tunisia, the Arab League, and the United States had also stepped down.

"Fighter aircraft were bombing civilians on the streets of Tripoli, this is unprecedented violence," Essawi said.