Lady Gaga’s Manila concerts face Christian protests

Christian groups in the Philippines planned to protest Lady Gaga’s performances there Monday and Tuesday, just after Muslim protests have cast doubt whether she will be allowed to perform in Indonesia.

“This protest is not against Lady Gaga as a person but on her music and on how she declares distorted views about the Lord Jesus Christ,” said Reuben Abante, bishop of Lighthouse Bible Baptist Church and secretary-general of Biblemode Youth, which is leading the protests…

Of particular offense to the group is the pop star’s song, “Judas,” with lyrics like, “Whoa whoa I’m in love with Juda-as, Jud-as,” “Jesus is my virtue and Judas is the demon I cling to I cling to…”

When asked if Lady Gaga’s concerts could contravene Philippine laws, Loretta Ann P. Rosales, chairwoman of the Commission on Human Rights, replied in an email, “The Philippines is proud of the fact that we do indeed have one of the best Bill of Rights in our Constitution that has the widest latitude as all other Constitutional democracies in protecting freedom of thought, freedom of expression, freedom of religion.”

“I have heard raves over her concert by Filipinos who have watched her,” she added. “Maybe I shall have a chance to enjoy her concert too one day…”

For Lady Gaga, the protests in the Philippines are the latest in her problematic Asian tour. Her provocative lyrics and risqué costumes have prompted conservative Muslims in Indonesia to call for the cancellation of her upcoming concert in Jakarta.

As of Monday, her Indonesian promoter, Big Daddy Entertainment, was still trying to secure a permit, and the June 3 event was still on, according to its website.

When she opened her tour in Seoul, South Korea, last month, it was to concertgoers aged 18 and above after the Korea Media Rating Board banned the show for minors, even with an accompanying parent or guardian.

The world is a patchwork of beliefs and histories. It’s always a shame when a cultural expression is harassed by one or another ideology – or religion – that doesn’t believe in free expression. When the focus is simply a pop singer like Lady Gaga who is accepted by most young people as someone who believes in advancing freedom – it points out the hypocrisy, the limits that chain one or another True Believer into a sarcophagus of fear. Even the stodginess of some old cultures is hard to justify.

Nearly 1 in 4 U.S. teens is on the road to diabetes

Nearly 1 in 4 U.S. teens is on the fast track to diabetes, if they don’t already have the disease, according to research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)…

In less than a decade, the proportion of kids ages 12 to 19 with diabetes or prediabetes has jumped from 9% in 1999-2000 to 23% in 2007-2008. The statistic is concerning on its own, but considering that the American Heart Association tags diabetes as one of a handful of major “controllable risk factors” for cardiovascular disease, it’s even more important to pay attention…

Sifting through nine years of comprehensive data from 1999 to 2008 from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, researchers found that 49% of overweight teens and nearly two-thirds of obese teens had one or more risk factors, plus the complicating factor of their weight.

Risk factors included prehypertension/hypertension, borderline and high LDLC (the “bad” cholesterol), low HDLC (the “good” cholesterol) and prediabetes and diabetes.

Among those adolescents who were overweight or obese, 26% also had prehypertension or hypertension, as well as borderline or high LDL. That percentage has not fluctuated significantly since 1999, nor has the proportion of obese teens changed, which may explain why hypertension and “bad” cholesterol rates haven’t jumped…

A plateau — or, even better, a decrease — isn’t likely to happen without significant public-health efforts promoting healthy lifestyles.

I would address parents as much or more than public officials. With Congressional Republicans playing at their usual 3 Stooges routine over healthcare and public health, I wouldn’t count on Uncle Sugar helping out in the foreseeable future. If Americans are dumb enough to vote Republicans back into office they probably won’t understand they’re helping their kids commit suicide via a couch potato lifestyle.

You have to understand you need the whole package: exercise and sports which will stay with you your whole life, quality nutrition ain’t expensive – doctors’ bills are, healthy food in moderation. Information is cheap. Killing your kids with crap food isn’t worth a damn.

Bananaphone synthesizer ripe for creative music-making

The Venn diagram of objects you can eat, and objects from which digital synthesizers have been made is one with minimal overlap. But thanks to Gadget Gangster’s Jeff Ledger and his Bananaphone touch capacitance synthesizer, that union has gotten a little bigger.

Apparently inspired by a recent Kickstarter project (almost certainly the MaKey MaKey, which enables bananas and other objects to be put to use as a computer interface devices), the Bananaphone is instead built using some of Gadget Gangster’s own add-on kits based around the Parallax Propeller microcontroller.

With the addition of some bananas, an amplified speaker, as well as a 220-ohm resistor and some alligator jump wires from Radio Shack, Ledger was ready to construct the Bananaphone

Though obviously less versatile than the MaKey MaKey, the Bananaphone ably demonstrates how capacitive sensing can be put to use with relatively few electronics.

Any suggestions on where we might go with this concept? More fruit? Something sensual? Political?

I knew Michelle would be ready for this event. Her photos are always a gas.

Motley News, Photos and Fun

Here are some photos from the annular eclipse on May 20, 2012. All taken in Albuquerque, New Mexico right next to the airport.

Myself and my friend, Dave, were the first two there as we got there early. Shortly another car rolled in, and another. We ended up having about 15 cars there. Most people were from out of state. Our “neighbors” came in from North Carolina. There was another gentleman from Maryland. I heard another woman mention she was from Kansas City, MO… and so on. Several telescopes were set up. Everyone bounced around from telescope to telescope to see the event. It was a wonderful day.

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Ultra-Orthodox Jewish rally against dangers of the Internet — women and press banned!

Tens of thousands of ultra-Orthodox Jewish men attended a rally Sunday at the New York Mets’ Citi stadium on the dangers of the Internet and how to use modern technology in a religiously responsible way.

Women were not permitted to attend the meeting at Citi Field in Queens. However, it was broadcast live to audiences of women in schools and event halls in ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods…

Eytan Kobre…spokesman for the event’s organizers…cited online pornography and gambling as well as the risk of social media undermining “our ability to pray uninterruptedly, to focus and to concentrate…”

Shlomo Cohen of Toronto told The New York Times that he uses the Internet for shopping, business and staying in touch with friends, but that “desires are out there…we have to learn how to control ourselves…”

The rally was organized by a rabbinical group called Ichud Hakehillos Letohar Hamachane, which means Union of Communities for the Purity of the Camp. Published reports have put the cost at $1.5 million…

A group urging more support for the victims of child sexual abuse inside the close-knit community held a counter-protest outside the stadium.

Abuse of children, women, non-Orthodox Jews, non-whites are all persistent problems within this community. Anyone recall anytime they held a rally to deal with bigotry?

Inside Citi Field, two billboards for Cholula hot sauce were censored, with the female in the company’s ad campaigns covered up. Telling the press reporters would not be permitted inside because of Homeland Security was another Cloud Cuckooland touch.

The mass dementia of minds closed to science, reality, modern knowledge is an affront to all. I have to wonder if the owners of Mets’ Citi stadium would have rented the venue out for a non-Othordox rally with the purpose of relegating women to servility. If it’s religious I guess that’s sufficient excuse to profit from bigotry.

Why does the world’s greatest democracy offer only two choices?

The 2012 election campaign season is still young; the battle will grow only more bruising. And voters will become increasingly turned off. But, in America, we get only two choices, and often are left voting for what we believe to be the lesser of two evils.

Friends in Europe and elsewhere often lament their own forms of government which foster countless parties and voices, and create much noise and chaos. Ironically, in America, which we like to argue is the greatest democracy in the world, we are limited to just two choices: a Republican or a Democrat.

And voters are tiring of it. Some 40 per cent of Americans today identify themselves as political Independents – a record. Just 29 per cent say they’re Democrats, down seven points from 2008, while the proportion saying they’re Republicans has fallen to 27 per cent…

The middle, which rejects both parties, is growing but the question is, what to do about it?

The nature of power is to hang on to it all costs. And that’s what Republican and Democrat parties have done. The maze of rules and cost of getting on to the ballot in 50 different states is daunting to any potential third-party candidate for president – by design…

A bold and innovative group, calling themselves Americans Elect, had a big idea: make it possible for anyone with basic qualifications to run for president by overcoming the hurdle of ballot access…

But a funny thing happened on the way to the circus. The deadline for candidates to qualify came up last week, but nobody much showed up. A former congressman and Louisiana governor, Buddy Roemer, led the list of declared candidates but failed to attract the 10,000 online votes required to meet the basic threshold.

So, if everyone is so fed up with the two-party system what went wrong with this bold experiment? Some argue that it would have had a better chance in a contest without an incumbent president, as that means one side is too locked in. The technology that made it secure also made it difficult to vote. And perhaps too much personal information was demanded when people registered to join in…

Yet Americans Elect has at least sown the seeds of possibility. And if America endures four more years of what we’ve been seeing lately from our two parties, and things continue getting uglier between Obama and Romney campaigns, someone may have an even better idea. It’s America after all. You’d think we could come up with something new, every couple of hundred years.

I lived through the campaigns immediately after World War 2 to ensure the wondrous 2-party system be enshrined as the best in the world. The possibility of nationwide 3rd Party tickets was in the front of every political machine’s eyeballs. The panic, perjury and patriotic balderdash of the Cold War and McCarthyism put an end to it all.

Not that the propaganda has ever ceased. It gets trotted out as part of every war to save democracy. From the Civil Rights Movement through opposition to Bush’s War in Iraq we are always told that our only savior is the other guys. Whether we’re trying to affirm civil rights for all Americans – or protect racism with the Southern Strategy.

The clowns in charge of agitprop never stray from Sophistry 101 = the answer lies between the two extremes. Which is meaningless when you only have one extreme. And even with two even divisions, reality may only lie with one analysis.

So far, most everyone tries to start from the top down — and fails. So far, Americans say they’re independent – and vote for one of the TweedleDeeDum parties or no one at all.

Don’t like the result of surveys, census data? Stop them!

The American Community Survey may be the most important government function you’ve never heard of, and it’s in trouble.

This survey of American households has been around in some form since 1850, either as a longer version of or a richer supplement to the basic decennial census. It tells Americans how poor we are, how rich we are, who is suffering, who is thriving, where people work, what kind of training people need to get jobs, what languages people speak, who uses food stamps, who has access to health care, and so on.

It is, more or less, the country’s primary check for determining how well the government is doing — and in fact what the government will be doing. The survey’s findings help determine how over $400 billion in government funds is distributed each year.

But last week, the Republican-led House voted to eliminate the survey altogether, on the grounds that the government should not be butting its nose into Americans’ homes…This is followed by more lies about why Republicans say we shouldn’t study and learn.

Each year the Census Bureau polls a representative, randomized sample of about three million American households about demographics, habits, languages spoken, occupation, housing and various other categories. The resulting numbers are released without identifying individuals, and offer current demographic portraits of even the country’s tiniest communities.

It is the largest (and only) data set of its kind and is used across the federal government in formulas that determine how much funding states and communities get for things like education and public health…

Private companies and industry groups — including the United States Chamber of Commerce, the National Retail Federation and the National Association of Home Builders — are up in arms…

The leading dimwit in charge of this particular piece of backwardness, Daniel Webster, a Tea Party Republican from Florida says…“What really promotes business in this country is liberty,” he said, “not demand for information.”

Mr. Webster and other critics have gone so far as to say the American Community Survey is unconstitutional. Of course, the basic decennial census is specifically enumerated in the United States Constitution, and courts have ruled that this longer form of the census survey is constitutional as well.

I’m confident the primo reason for the foolishness is the Republican fear that Americans will have a clearer picture of how and where the stimulus program has been working, where we are starting to climb back out of the Bush recession. Here in New Mexico our unemployment rate dropped to 6.9%, last week.

Think about the kind of demagogue who advocates against knowledge, information that aids business, government, commerce. What is he supposed to be protecting?