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Having ignorant bullies running the country isn't just embarrassing, it's bad for the economy, writes Richard Florida in the Washington Monthly (January/February). He quotes from an e-mail he received from a University of Illinois entomologist: "Over the last few years, as the conservative movement in the U.S. has become more entrenched, many people I know are looking for better lives in Canada, Europe, and Australia. From bloggers and programmers to members of the National Academy I have spoken with, all find the Zeitgeist alien and even threatening. My friend says it is like trying to research and do business in the 21st century in a culture that wants to live in the 19th, empires, bibles and all. There is an E.U. fellowship through the European Molecular Biology Laboratory in Amsterdam that everyone and their mother is trying to get."

If this scares you, you're already doomed. Findings of a recent study on how a "fear of novelty" affects life span by University of Chicago psychologists Sonia Cavigelli and Martha McClintock, as described in the University of Chicago Chronicle (January 8): "The median life span for the fearful rats was 599 days compared with 701 days for the adventuresome rats."

Why Christians have so much more theology than Muslims or Jews, as explained by Edward Oakes, a professor of theology at the Chicago archdiocese's University of Saint Mary of the Lake, in the Washington Post National Weekly (January 12-18): "If Jesus is 'Lord' in that sense, that is, fully God, to whom is he praying? But if he is only part God, how can one continue to confess that 'God is one,' as Jesus clearly did?...For Jesus to be able both to take our place and to offer fitting expiation for sin, he had to be, somehow, both God and man. It is that tricky word 'somehow' which brought about the elaboration of the Christian faith through the centuries."

Your tax dollars deplete the oceans. The Progressive Policy Institute notes in its "PPI Trade Fact of the Week," January 28, that subsidies to fishing boats worldwide total $14-20 billion a year (the value of the fish trade is $56 billion). The U.S. is the third largest subsidizer, at $1 billion.

"When poor people lose their cars, the fragile structure of their daily lives often collapses, frequently imploding into violence," writes Joe Barthel in his chapter of a new book of essays, Story and Sustainability: Planning, Practice, and Possibility for American Cities. "If the man takes the car, the woman may not be able to get to her minimum wage job. Or they can't deliver the kids to the grandmother who cares for them. Or they have to choose between a radiator repair and food. Or they get a couple of tickets for an 'abandoned' car or wrong side of the street parking, and the tickets are 20 percent or more of their weekly income, and there goes the birthday present or the Sunday meal. Or they let the registration fee slide in order to pay the tickets, and the car gets impounded, and they miss a parole appointment, and the man faces getting returned to prison. And he is pissed and arguing and drinking more and gets into a fight or impulsively decides to grab the money at a stop & rob, and something goes terribly wrong....

The need for public transportation is not solely a matter of the utopian demands of bicyclists, or the commuting needs of suburban company employees."

Turnabout is fair play. From the October "International Bulletin of Missionary Research," reprinted in Martin Marty's "Context" (February): "Just as European missionaries once believed in their divine task of evangelizing what they called the dark continent, African church leaders in Europe today are convinced of Africa's mission to bring the gospel back to those who originally provided it. Thus, many African Christians who have recently migrated to Europe, generally to find work, consider that God has given them a unique opportunity to spread the good news among those who have gone astray."

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