S/SW blog philosophy -

I credit favorite writers and public opinion makers.

A lifelong Democrat, my comments on Congress, the judiciary and the presidency are regular features.

My observations and commentary are on people and events in politics that affect the USA or the rest of the world, and stand for the interests of peace, security and justice.

Monday, December 26, 2005

The joy of discovery

During much of a 365 day year the news looks pretty much the same. Almost all of it is "bad." But once you slice it open sometimes you find something positive at the center of it. The core of the story can be a small bit of good news, hidden until you explore it futher.

Today, when most of the members of the government have gone home, there can be a surprising amount of good news to tell. On this "slow" news day, surfing the net turned up some little gems. Here are a few stories I found by looking for the "pits," the kernels of good news buried within the not-so-good:

Spirituality - "The Weary World Rejoicing"
Blogger " athenae" writes an absolutely wonderful post about her holiday spiritual issues at the blog First Draft. I quote,

God and I have a complicated and not always amicable relationship. This time of year he's trying to charm me using carols and candles and wreaths and Midnight Mass, and I'm asking my girlfriends to remind me of all the times I said I'd
never go back to Him no matter what He did or said.

Irony - "Iraq prisoners to be protected."
The BBC News reports, in an unusual twist, that now the US military does not trust Iraqis to handle prisoners in Iraq. Do you suppost we actually learned this lesson? To quote,

The US says it will not hand over detainees to the Iraqi authorities until they
raise levels of care. After the discovery of hundreds of neglected prisoners
held by Iraq's interior ministry, an official said Iraq still had to meet US

Hilarity - "Anna Nicole Smith gets White House Boost"

when her case is heard by the Supreme Court of the United States. I wish her well. reports, tongue in cheek,

Playboy playmate Anna Nicole Smith has an unusual bedfellow in the Supreme Court fight over her late husband's fortune: the Bush administration. The administration's top Supreme Court lawyer filed arguments on Smith's behalf and wants to take part when the case is argued before the justices. The court will decide early next year whether to let the U.S. solicitor general share time with Smith's attorney during the one hour argument on February 28.

Opportunity - "Osama Bin Laden's niece has posed for sexy photo layout"

In the January's GQ, this enterprising young woman breaks away from our stereotypical assumptions, given her connections to the Middle East. Quoting from Reuters,

Her uncle may be the world's most elusive fugitive, but Osama bin Laden's niece is about as conspicuous as she can be in a sexy photo shoot in the January edition of the men's fashion magazine GQ. Wafah Dufour is an aspiring New York-based musician who told the magazine that her family ties to the al Qaeda leader suspected of masterminding the September 11, 2001 attacks have prompted death threats and sent her into a bout of depression. As part of an effort to distance herself from her massive Saudi family, Dufour appears in a sultry GQ photo spread, reclining on satin sheets wrapped in feathers in one picture and posing in a bubble bath wearing nothing but jewelry in a second.
"I was born in the States and I want people to know I'm American, and I want people here to understand that I'm like anyone in New York. For me, it's home," said Dufour, who took her mother's name after the suicide hijacking attacks that destroyed Manhattan's World Trade Center.

Community - "March of the Penguins picked by US film institute." This documentary has touched many people. It is wonderfully visual, and would be a wonderful holiday pick. The BBC News has the article from which I quote,

The film follows a group of Emperor Penguins. The documentary film March of The Penguins has been branded a "moment of significance" by a US movie body. The American Film Institute (AFI) chose six events and trends from 2005 from the US movie and TV industries. French-made March of the Penguins was commended for "its universal message - the need to be part of a community that cares for each other". The institute said it was among films which reacted to the changed world after the 11 September attacks.

Mentality - "Are we getting Smarter or Dumber?" CNET News asks in the headline, that I have often asked myself. Of course I am convinced my granchildren are smarter than I am. This article from which I quote tells why:

"Too much information" may be the catchphrase of the Internet age. That's why generations reared on Net technology may need to one day rely on the brain calisthenics being developed and tested by Mike Merzenich, a neuroscientist, software entrepreneur and self-described "applied philosopher." . . . Dr. Merzenich continues: Our brains are different from those of all humans before us. Our brain is modified on a substantial scale, physically and functionally, each time we learn a new skill or develop a new ability. Massive changes are associated with our modern cultural specializations. The Internet is one of a series of aids developed over the last millennium or so that has increased the operational capacities of the average world citizen. The Internet is just one of those things that contemporary humans can spend millions of "practice" events at, that the average human a thousand years ago had absolutely no exposure to. Our brains are massively remodeled by this exposure--but so, too, by reading, by television, by video games, by modern electronics, by contemporary music, by contemporary "tools," etc.

Creativity - "Guns for Gift Certificates", is a wonderful creative win/win idea that might have application all over the nation. Very often California leads with cutting edge solutions. According to Happy,

is a swap program set up on a Compton California parking lot. Dozens of gun-toting residents converged on a shopping center parking lot Saturday to anonymously swap firearms for gift certificates as part of a program aimed at reducing violence in the city.

Civilility - "Christmas pilgrims return to Bethlehem"
Dare we hope for the beginnings of a more robust peace between Palestine and Israel. The Israeli Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon is getting his heart fixed. Wouldn't it be great if that worked in a spiritual way also?

Calls for peace resonated in Bethlehem on Sunday as a lull in violence spurred the biggest influx of Christmas pilgrims for years to the town where Christians believe Jesus was born. Both Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said in messages they were committed to peacemaking in 2006. . . Taking advantage of a truce that Palestinian militants have said they will follow to the end of the year, thousands of pilgrims and tourists came to Bethlehem.


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