Your Vote Counts in the 2006 Weblog Awards

Finalists for the 2006 Weblog Awards were announced today. Hundreds of blogs in dozens of categories are nominated, and the winners will be determined by online voting. Voting begins tomorrow and continues for 10 days, and you are welcome to vote in each category once each day.

Terra Extraneus encourages our readers to support three of our favorite blogs in the voting beginning tomorrow. They are:

Evangelical Outpost, written by Joe Carter, nominated for Best Individual Blog. Last year E.O. was voted Best Religious Blog, but that category was eliminated this year. But Joe is still up for an award with his nomination for best individual blog. Joe, the Director of Web Communications for the evangelical conservative Family Research Council, blogs an interesting mix of conservative politics, evangelical faith and random trivia. E.O. is on TerraX’s “Must Read” blogroll. Check it out, and give it your vote starting tomorrow.

Jon Swift, nominated for Best Humor Blog. If you are a regular TerraX reader, you know that I am a big Jon Swift fan. He is hilarious. Jon is a liberal in satirical sheep’s clothing. I read everything “Jon” writes and encourage you to do the same. (Here’s my review of Jon Swift: “What If Archie Bunker Were a Blogger?”) What truly amazes is that “Jon Swift” began his blog only one year ago, and he is already approaching his 200,000th visitor. Please join me in bringing the Jon Swift blog even more much-deserved attention by voting it the Best Humor Blog in the blogosphere.

Real Climate, written by an international team of PhDs, is nominated for Best Science Blog. Real Climate covers global warming and other climate issues. The scientists do an excellent job of making the science of this complicated subject understandable. Anyone who wants to be up-to-speed on global warming should read Real Climate. This is one blog that truly is making a difference, so I hope you will give it your online vote.

• I want to mention one more blog: Sean Gleeson, nominated for best in the 5001-6750 level of the “blogging ecosystem.” I am not a regular Sean Gleeson reader, but I’m going to change that by adding him to the TerraX blogroll. Gleeson is an Oklahoma City artist and teacher. We Okie bloggers and blog readers should stick together, so I’m going to start reading Sean’s blog, and will give him my vote in the Awards.

Hope you will do the same.

Pope Benedict XVI: A Call for the Church to Rediscover Her Gift

I recommend Pope Benedict XVI’s Christmas Day message. It is 1415 words, the full text of which can be found here. That link points to the Vatican’s official English translation of the pope’s annual Christmas Urbi et Orbi – “to the City and the World.”

In his brief address, the 79-year-old pope mentions many modern events, good and bad – space travel, genetic science, the Internet; hunger, poverty, “unbridled consumerism,” terrorism; conflicts in Israel, Lebanon, Iraq, Sri Lanka, Darfur. However, the words that touched me the most are the last two paragraphs of his message:

A community saved by Christ. This is the true nature of the church, which draws her nourishment from his word and his eucharistic body. Only by rediscovering the gift she has received can the church bear witness to Christ the savior before all people. She does this with passionate enthusiasm, with full respect for all cultural and religious traditions; she does so joyfully, knowing that the One she proclaims takes away nothing that is authentically human, but instead brings it to fulfillment. In truth, Christ comes to destroy only evil, only sin; everything else, all the rest, he elevates and perfects. Christ does not save us from our humanity, but through it; he does not save us from the world, but came into the world, so that through him the world might be saved (cf. Jn 3:17).

Dear brothers and sisters, wherever you may be, may this message of joy and hope reach your ears: God became man in Jesus Christ, he was born of the Virgin Mary and today he is reborn in the church. He brings to all the love of the Father in heaven. He is the savior of the world! Do not be afraid, open your hearts to him and receive him, so that his kingdom of love and peace may become the common legacy of each man and woman. Happy Christmas!

I am moved by the pope’s call for the church to “rediscover the gift she has received” of salvation through Christ. Christ is still, this day, the Savior of the world. As the pope implies, if Christians forget or neglect the gift of Christ, how can we “bear witness to Christ the savior before all people”?

The Nostradamus of the Blogosphere

Jon Swift, one of the most astute conservative pundits on the Internet, is also a prophet. Astonishingly, three of his eight predictions for 2006 came true, qualifying him as the Nostradamus of the blogosphere. Swift has posted 25 predictions for 2007. Here are four of my favorites:

Time magazine will select itself as Person of the Year.

• John Kerry repeatedly uses the n-word in a joke gone horribly wrong.

• In the season finale of Lost we discover that it was all a dream by Hurley who wakes up in Bob Newhart’s hotel.

• Whatever happens in 2007, you can be sure it would have been a lot worse and more people would have died if we had done something else.

The prophecies above are indeed thought-provoking. But what truly amazes is that Swift is so prescient that five of his prophecies for 2007 have already come true – even before the new year begins. Swift prophesied that:

• Pictures of Rudolph Giuliani in drag will surface, scuttling his plans to run for President.

• Congress will do nothing at all about Social Security or health care.

• The next six months in Iraq will prove to be critical for determining how the following six months are going to go.

• Temperatures will go down in February causing widespread doubt about global warming, but by July there will be renewed calls to do something about it.

• Recruitment shortfalls lead the Pentagon to hire temps to fill some positions and outsource some work to the Indian military.

One can only tremble in wonderment regarding a prophet so keen that his prophecies have come true even before he makes them. Check out the rest of Jon Swift’s vision for 2007 here.

New Economic Study: Neither Conservatives Nor Liberals Understand Public’s Economic Fears

[Average Americans] understand the economy differently – and view it much more negatively – than Bush Administration officials, Wall Street analysts and conservative economists who stress positive macro-economic statistics. Indeed, nothing raises the public ire more than the elites saying this is a good economy, which seems to deny the hard work and inventiveness of people who raise their living standards against the odds. However, conservatives are not alone in this disconnect with the public on the economy, as liberal elites portrayal of Americans as passive victims also alienates their intended audience. These liberal elites underestimate Americans’ emphasis on personal responsibility and greatly overestimate the degree to which they see themselves as victims in the current economy.

The above is an excerpt from one of two studies recently made available online by the Economic Policy Institute:

  • “The Economic Disconnect: How Both the Left and the Right Get It Wrong,” Dec. 5, 2006, 11 pages.
  • “Talking Past Each Other: What Everyday Americans Really Think (and Elites Don’t Get) About the Economy,” December 2006, 64 pages.

Some excerpts from Economic Disconnect:

  • The opening excerpt above.
  • “Americans are dissatisfied with the national economy, and are doubtful it will improve in the future. This is an economy defined by its inability to produce rising incomes in the face of growing financial pressures, though people are proud of their efforts to overcome these systemic obstacles.”
  • “Over two thirds of the country view the economy negatively. … The public’s central perspective is of a middle class in decline, badly squeezed between rising costs, reduced benefits, and stagnant earnings. The public holds out little hope for the economy improving any time soon, suggesting that these current problems may reflect a structural change.”
  • “Americans see themselves as largely on their own in the current economy, but they are eager for the government to take on a more active role to help ease their financial burden in areas such as health care, energy and education and support greater regulation of the corporate interests that are seen as contributing to these rising costs.”

Here is a press release which summarizes Talking Past.

Also, here is a link to a recent post I wrote regarding middle-class economics: “Who’s in the Middle Class, How Much Do They Make — and How Much is Left Over?”