Musings of an Anglican/Episcopal Priest

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Canon Andrew White: Vicar of Bagdhad

An amazing priest and an amazing story for those who have not heard of him. You can see a preview of the latest documentary being filmed, “Loose Canon.” The password for the preview is cannon21:

Despite suffering from incurable Multiple Sclerosis, Canon White is unique – 200 years ago a man of his bravery and swashbuckling spirit would have been “a pirate”, suggests the new Archbishop of Canterbury, in a forward to the Canon’s new book “Father, Forgive”. Here we catch glimpses of the turbulent priest – at his home in a small English village, saying good-bye to his son; with Iraqi children outside his security-surrounded church in bomb-ridden Baghdad; on the road to Bethlehem, where he is seeking to foster an unlikely reconciliation between hardline Islamists and religious Jews; and with some evangelical Christians in the Holy City of Jerusalem. Just a small taste of bigger more dramatic filming to come in LOOSE CANON.

Vimeo is the home for high-quality videos and the people who love them.

Read it all: Private Video on Vimeo

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Twenty years ago this week, researchers renounced the right to patent the World Wide Web.

Things would definitely be very, very different if the Web had not been open and allowed to develop freely. Would we be worse off than we were? Probably not. But there are many advances that we would not have seen. Certainly there have been drawbacks, and we have to negotiate the issues of information overload and connectivity. But. And this is hugely important: knowledge mingles and has babies called breakthroughs, and those breakthroughs are happening much more quickly thanks to the web. I think we’ve definitely had an overall benefit.

Read it all: Twenty years ago this week, researchers renounced the right to patent the World Wide Web.

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Protestant Perseverance and Catholic Decline? | First Things

While always taking Mark Twain’s assessment of statistics into account, I find studies like this intriguing.

Protestants with a strong religious identity continue to increase as Catholics with a strong religious identity continue to decline, according to a March study by the Pew Research Center. The proportion…

Read it all: Protestant Perseverance and Catholic Decline? | First Things

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Dying in Space: An American Dream

“It’s named Mars One in part because what it offers is a one-way ticket. In positive terms, this means that the program promises its participants the adventure of a lifetime. In more negative ones, it means that the lifetime in question will likely reach its conclusion somewhere outside of Earth. And that’s a feature, not a bug. Our new relationship with the world beyond Earth’s borders, Mars One declares, “will be characterized not by rovers and probes, visits or short stays, but by permanence. From now on, we won’t just be visiting planets. We’ll be staying.””

Mars One is not the first project hoping to boldly permanently go where no man has gone before.

Read it all: Dying in Space: An American Dream

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How Not to Die

From the opposite end of the spectrum from the “forced exit” category, the medical equivalent of the famous comment, “it became necessary to destroy the village in order to save it:”

““Sometimes you block the near exits, and all you’ve got left is a far exit, which is not a dignified and comfortable death,” Albert Mulley, a physician and the director of the Dartmouth Center for Health Care Delivery Science, told me recently. As we talked, it emerged that he, too, had had to fend off the medical system when his father died at age 93. “Even though I spent my whole career doing this,” he said, “when I was trying to assure as good a death as I could for my dad, I found it wasn’t easy.”

If it is this hard for doctors to navigate their parents’ final days, imagine what many ordinary patients and their families face. “It’s almost impossible for patients really to be in charge,” says Joanne Lynn, a physician and the director of the nonprofit Altarum Center for Elder Care and Advanced Illness in Washington, D.C. “We enforce a kind of learned helplessness, especially in hospitals.” I asked her how much unwanted treatment gets administered. She couldn’t come up with a figure—no one can—but she said, “It’s huge, however you measure it. Especially when people get very, very sick.”

Unwanted treatment is a particularly confounding problem because it is not a product of malevolence but a by-product of two strengths of American medical culture: the system’s determination to save lives, and its technological virtuosity. Change will need to be consonant with that culture. “You have to be comfortable working at the margins of the power structure within medicine, and particularly within academic medicine,” Mulley told me. You need a disrupter, but one who can speak the language of medicine and meet the system on its own terms.”

Sometimes you block the near exits, and all you’ve got left is a far exit, which is not a dignified and comfortable death,”

Read it all: How Not to Die

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Do Louisianans Have the Right to a Speedy Trial?

“There has been for decades now an ideological split at the United States Supreme Court over the Sixth Amendment’s right to a speedy trial — one of the most basic of due process rights. Court conservatives have successfully limited the scope of the right by justifying and forgiving unconscionable delays in bringing criminal defendants to trial. And the Court’s progressives, outnumbered now for a generation, have complained not just about the unjust results of those cases but about the indigent defense systems which have fostered trial delays in the first place.

And so it is again. On Monday, in a case styled Boyer v. Louisiana, none of the Court’s five conservative justices were willing to come to the aid of a man who had to wait seven years between his arrest and his trial because of a “funding crisis” within Louisiana’s indigent defense program. In fact, those five justices refused even to render a ruling on the merits of the matter, instead deciding after oral argument and all the briefing in the case that their earlier decision to accept the matter for review was “improvident.”

It was left to Justice Samuel Alito to defend the Court’s inaction. The long delay in bringing Jonathan Edward Boyer to trial on murder charges was not just the fault of Louisiana and its infamously underfunded and understaffed indigent defense program, Justice Alito concluded. “[‘T]he record shows that the single largest share of the delay in this case was the direct result of defense requests for continuances, that other defense motions caused substantial additional delay, and that much of the rest of the delay was caused by events beyond anyone’s control,” he wrote. That was enough to deny Boyer’s claims.

All four of the Court’s progressives disagreed. The majority’s quick assessment of the facts and the record was flawed, they wrote, and by ducking the issue on its merits the Supreme Court abdicated its responsibility not just to the defendant in the case but to thousands of other criminal defendants in Louisiana who are similarly too poor to pay for their own attorneys. “The Court’s silence in this case is particularly unfortunate,” wrote Justice Sonia Sotomayor in a sharp dissent. “Conditions of this kind cannot persist without endangering constitutional rights.””

The Supreme Court brushes away a man who waited seven years to get his case before a judge.

Read it all: Do Louisianans Have the Right to a Speedy Trial?

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No Rich Child Left Behind

One reason shifting to a need based/income based affirmative action would be a good idea. Since minorities are disproportionately represented among the poor such assistance would also aid them at a higher rate, but it would additionally address a need that, at the present time is going unattended to.

Of course, the bigger issue is dealing with the systemic problems have have caused such disparities to increase rather than decline.

Here’s a fact that may not surprise you: the children of the rich perform better in school, on average, than children from middle-class or poor families. Students growing up in richer families have better grades and higher standardized test scores, on average, than poorer students; they also have hi…

Read it all: No Rich Child Left Behind

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