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Archive for December, 2010

from Wikimedia Commons

I don’t care where you live or what your political persuasion is, I think most people in the U.S. would say that things overall are worse in 2010 than they were in 200o.

But maybe not. This piece by Clay Risen was part of a larger article in today’s New York Times. It couldn’t have come at a better time.

The 2000s Were a Great Decade

Two recessions. 9/11. Iraq. Afghanistan. You might think the last decade was among the worst in modern history. But according to the economist Charles Kenny, author of “Getting Better,” a forthcoming book on global development, you’d be wrong. Average worldwide income, at $10,600, is 25 percent higher than it was a decade ago. Thanks to increases in agriculture efficiency, cereal production grew at double the rate of population in the developing world. Vaccine initiatives have helped cut the death rate from common diseases like measles by 60 percent. Child mortality is down 17 percent.

One of the many factors behind these improvements was increased telecommunications (especially television) in Africa and Asia: education and better health practices could penetrate communities where illiteracy and geographic isolation long stymied public-health efforts. This resulted in hundreds of millions of people who were better educated, more politically engaged and more aware of social and health issues, creating a virtuous cycle of progress.

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Update 12/20/10: one of my favorite sites, Astronomy Picture of the Day, notes that this eclipse solstice is the first in 456 years, and that no one has yet figured out when the next one will be.

This is a pretty neat coincidence: there will be a total eclipse of the moon early in the morning of December 21st (Eastern time); in the evening of the same day the December solstice (winter solstice) arrives.

Coincidence … or conspiracy? You be the judge.

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Web City, MO from Wikimedia Commons

Rep. Michelle Bachmann and John Kline of the Congressional Prayer Caucus recently criticized President Obama for not portraying America as a more Christian-like nation to the rest of the world.

The group said not mentioning God could have consequences for freedom.

The best part was this:

“By making these kinds of statements to the rest of the world, you are removing on the the cornerstones of our secure freedom,” the caucus wrote. “If we pull the thread of religious conviction out of the marketplace of ideas, we unravel the tapestry of freedom that birthed America.”

Fair warning: if you mess with the cornerstone in the marketplace, it will unravel and not be able to give birth.

Got it.

Thanks J-Walk.

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