November 24, 2008
Overwhelmed by a Relentless God
by Francis Chan
reviewed by Mark and Kim Newhouse
If you don’t like having your toes stepped on, you might want to wear steel toed boots while reading this book. In Crazy Love, Francis Chan, pastor of Cornerstone Church in Simi Valley California, calls the 21st Century church out of its lazy slumber and exhorts her to make a difference for the kingdom.
He begins by reminding us how small we are compared to the vastness of the Universe. He asks us to stop and think about the God who created the Universe, who loves us so much that He sent His Son to die for us in order to restore our relationship with Him. Yet what is the response to this Crazy Love by so many in today’s Church?
Jesus calls it being lukewarm and warns that if we don’t change, He will vomit us out of His mouth.
After grabbing us with that graphic and arresting image, Chan makes several practical, yet radical, suggestions about how we can be effective ministers for Christ in our culture and communities, turning Christ’s Crazy Love for us into a Crazy Love for Him.
If you’ve been feeling like something is missing in your relationship with God, or need to be awakened out of a slumber, let this book shake you up. As Chris Tomlin says in the Foreword, “Crazy Love may just be the most challenging book outside of God’s Word that you will read this year.”
October 17, 2008
Bias, or propaganda?
Yesterday I came out of hiding to respond to an assertion the John Gruber made about a simple chart from Tommy McCall (former information graphics editor for Money Magazine) and the New York Times. John posted a follow up link to my post on his popular blog, Daring Fireball. This led to my humble post becoming possibly the most read, and certainly the most commented on, post on this blog.
In my post I rearranged the data from the McCall’s chart to put it into chronological order. In doing so I noticed a discrepancy between the data for the Republicans and those for the Democrats. I was in a hurry and so tried to scale things to get everything to fit. I wasn’t worried about the heights of the arrows so much as what things looked like in this different ordering of things.
This turned out to be a mistake. In my haste I introduced additional bias in the data. I regret the error.
I really do regret the error, because it colored many people’s responses to the post. I have since updated the post to link to a more accurate version of the chart, created by one of the commenters, and I appreciate his efforts. The new, improved chronological chart does not change any of my observations about the data, nor does it do much to answer most of my questions. John Gruber pointed to another blog that potentially answers those questions, but the blog has been down since last night. I hope to be able to view it soon.
Update: The post was available for a short time this morning and it tells me that I asked the right questions (inflation is an important thing not to ignore!), and further strengthens my position below.
“Propaganda is a concerted set of messages aimed at influencing the opinions or behaviors of large numbers of people. As opposed to impartially providing information, propaganda in its most basic sense presents information in order to influence its audience. Propaganda often presents facts selectively (thus lying by omission) to encourage a particular synthesis, or gives loaded messages in order to produce an emotional rather than rational response to the information presented. The desired result is a change of the cognitive narrative of the subject in the target audience to further a political agenda.”
Let’s break this down sentence by sentence and apply it to the Times/McCall chart.
“Propaganda is a concerted set of messages aimed at influencing the opinions or behaviors of large numbers of people.”
The chart, published in the NY Times, was certainly aimed at large numbers of people. It certainly had a political bias, and given that it was published in the opinion section I think we can make the case that it was designed to influence the opinions of these people.
“As opposed to impartially providing information, propaganda in its most basic sense presents information in order to influence its audience.”
This data was clearly not presented in an impartial manner. There were many things wrong with where the lines representing the average annualized returns for both Republicans and Democrats were drawn. There is some question about how precisely the arrows were drawn, and the data was arranged to draw a particular conclusion.
“Propaganda often presents facts selectively (thus lying by omission) to encourage a particular synthesis, or gives loaded messages in order to produce an emotional rather than rational response to the information presented.”
The data was selected to include the great depression, but not the decade of prosperity leading up to that crash. Dividends were ignored. Inflation was ignored. Composition of Congress was ignored. An emotional response was evoked - “look how much you would have made investing under Democrats!”
“The desired result is a change of the cognitive narrative of the subject in the target audience to further a political agenda.”
I can’t speak to the desired response of Tommy McCall, but given that we are less than three weeks from electing the next President of the United States, and no one in their right mind would use this as investing advice, I can guess that this was an effort to sway votes toward Obama.
A small part of a larger “concerted effort.”
So, is it propaganda, or just poor chart making? You’d think a former information graphics editor for Money Magazine would do a better job with the chart, but maybe that is why he’s the former editor…
October 16, 2008
“Facts continue to hold a liberal bias.”
Perhaps. But in this case the entire picture was not presented. What was the inflation rate under each of these presidents? How was the standard of living affected under their terms?
It would be helpful to see the graphs presented in date order to identify trends - for example the only Dem to beat the Dem’s average was Clinton, and he came into office on the trail of Reagan and Bush I, who along with Ford and Eisenhower all beat the Dem’s average. So I grabbed the chart and rearranged some things.
The first thing I noticed was that in the original graphic, the scale was different for the Republicans and the Democrats. This may have been due to the large arrow needed for Hoover, but it resulted in me having to scale down the Democrats’ arrows. Then I noted that the dashed lines indicating the averages for the two parties was located differently for each party’s arrows.
I can’t say is this is deliberate bias or not, but that is why things look a bit odd in my reinterpretation of the chart.
Looking at the (new) chart we can see that every Dem, save Clinton [update: and Roosevelt], has a lower average annualized return than the Republican that preceded him. And Clinton’s rise was built on 12 years of a strong Republican economy
We ought also to look at the makeup of Congress during these terms. Bush II is doing miserably, but the most egregious of the problems in his term have been under a Dem controlled legislative branch.
I do not know the answers to any of these questions, but without further analysis I think we could say,
“Facts presented with a liberal bias continue to paint a picture that appears to support the liberal agenda.”
Not quite as pithy, but perhaps more accurate.
Update—I have posted a follow-up: Bias, or Propaganda?
July 21, 2008
A key to success in the marketplace?
Steven P. Jobs (of Apple, Inc.):
“We make products that we want to use ourselves”
Michael B. Johnson (of Pixar, Inc.):
“We are making movies and shorts that we want to see.”
July 07, 2008
I did my “final” challenge today and did 100!
On the one hundred push ups web site, Steve encourages:
“If you start to feel shaky, take a few deep breaths and regain your composure before starting again.”
I managed my first 80 without pausing, and then paused again for another breath at about 93. I will continue to do week 6, and look for better form throughout as well as try to accomplish 100 without pausing. And this will be my last post on the subject for awhile…
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