Peer Pressure? How About, Like, Fighting to Death?
HERE’S a pop math quiz: “The Hunger Games,” a best-selling novel by Suzanne Collins about children killing children, is recommended for readers 12 and older. The “Hunger Games” movie, which shows kids killing kids, is angling for a PG-13 rating when it hits theaters March 23. To complicate matters, many readers under the age of 12 are dying to see the movie. Meanwhile, Jennifer Lawrence, the film’s star, is 21. She got the book at the behest of her mother, a reader and fan.
So who is the audience for “The Hunger Games”? A tense and gritty critique of media culture with violence as entertainment, it could be a movie squarely aimed at grown-ups. Or a family film that works on different levels for older and younger viewers, the way Pixar releases do. Or it could be the next “Twilight,” another smash young-adult-novel-to-teen-movie adaptation with a similarly vexing (if less prominent) love triangle.
The open question reflects the book’s audience. In recent years a wave of popular young-adult novels has generated a happy convergence of readers who are young, readers who are young adults and readers who are, well, old adults. These best sellers may have caught Hollywood’s attention, and led to major deals. (See the dystopian “Divergent” and “A Fault in Our Stars.”) But that doesn’t make even a blockbuster like “The Hunger Games,” which has sold more than 11 million copies in the United States since it came out in 2008, a sure box office hit.
“There were a lot of ways this could become a movie that didn’t honor what the book was about,” said one of the film’s producers, Nina Jacobson, who described herself as obsessed with the novel, and who optioned “The Hunger Games” immediately after reading it. She made a passionate case to the author, promising to respect the book’s fans without pandering to a teenage audience. But Ms. Jacobson assured Ms. Collins she wouldn’t dilute the story by aging the characters up or by glamorizing its violence. “I loved the book as an adult,” Ms. Jacobson said firmly. “I don’t think it’s a Y.A. novel.”
One possibility might have been to follow the “Harry Potter” model, which succeeded as perhaps the first middle-grade novel to bring in adults to both the reading experience and the movie theater. As Harry and his Hogwarts friends made their way into the upper grades, the stories themselves became darker and more sophisticated — decidedly young adult.
And “The Hunger Games” is very much a young-adult novel. The story takes place in a postapocalyptic version of North America called Panem, where 16-year-old Katniss Everdeen assumes the place of her younger sister in a televised battle to the death known as the Hunger Games. The games are retribution for an earlier rebellion against the Capitol, which starves and represses the 12 remaining districts under its rule. Every year 24 children, a boy and girl from each district, must murder one another until one winner remains, an event relentlessly promoted to the entire nation. The ensuing action is similarly relentless — brutal, bloody and heartbreaking.
Gary Ross, the film’s director, is no stranger to the pressures of major book-to-screen adaptations. He brought both “Seabiscuit,” Laura Hillenbrand’s adult nonfiction book, and “The Tale of Despereaux,” a children’s book by Kate DiCamillo, to film. He also brings rare experience with the book world to Hollywood. As the president of the Los Angeles Public Library in the early 1990s Mr. Ross oversaw a major expansion of its young adult collection. The parent of 16-year-old twins, he is steeped in the genre. And he is an author himself. His first children’s book, what he calls an “epic poem” called “Bartholomew Biddle and the Very Big Wind,” will be published in November.
He argues that “The Hunger Games” both embodies and transcends the young-adult genre. “Because teenagers are on the cusp of adulthood, they’re grappling with a lot of issues that in adult books are resolved but teenagers are still beginning to explore,” he said. “It’s that nascent element that makes ‘The Hunger Games’ feel so urgent. It’s innocent and aspirational and engaging.” And, he argued, it is no less so for an adult than for a teenager.
“I was enthralled,” he said. “Not many books on this scope have the kind of intimacy of ‘The Hunger Games.’ It was subtle but urgent, and Katniss Everdeen was complicated.”
Every year, thousands of entrepreneurs, venture capitalists and techies migrate to Austin, Tex., for South by Southwest Interactive, a whirlwind week of discussions, panels, parties and breakfast tacos and the latest innovations from the start-up world and tech industry.
The circus kicks off on Friday. The New York Times will be on the ground, playing around with the newest apps and services, ducking in and out of panels (and possibly a Jay-Z concert) and reporting on the scene from our usual headquarters, Bits. I will be posting quick-hit reactions and photos to Twitter and Instagram. We’ll also be directing a sampling of our South By experiences to a new outlet: a New York Times SXSW Tumblr, as well as several Google Plus Hangout sessions that we will record from Austin and post on Bits over the course of the conference.
Follow all the action from the NYT Bits team HERE.
While much of the backlash reported in the American news media this week cited objections raised by development experts in the United States and Europe, several African bloggers and activists have objected to what they see as more fundamental problems. Among them, the possibility that the “Kony 2012″ campaign reinforces the old idea, once used to justify colonial exploitation, that Africans are helpless and need to be saved by Westerners.
Many African critics of the new effort to make Mr. Kony, the brutal leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army, a household name in the United States — five months after President Obama pleased Human Rights Watch and annoyed Rush Limbaugh by dispatching military advisers to aid in his capture — said it echoed the ideas in Rudyard Kipling’s poem, “The White Man’s Burden,” written in 1899 to urge Americans to embrace their imperial destiny and rule over the “new-caught, sullen peoples,” of the Philippines — even though the typical native was “half-devil and half-child.”
In a critique of the campaign posted on YouTube, Rosebell Kagumire, a Ugandan blogger, observed that the filmmaker behind the “Kony 2012″ viral video calling for action “plays so much on the idea that this war has been going on because millions of Americans” and other Westerners, “have been ignorant about it.”
Speaking directly to the camera, Ms. Kagumire added:
this is another video where I see an outsider trying to be a hero rescuing African children. We have seen these stories a lot in Ethiopia, celebrities coming in Somalia, you know, it does not end the problem. I think we need to have kind of sound, intelligent campaigns that are geared towards real policy shifts, rather than a very sensationalized story that is out to make one person cry, and at the end of the day, we forget about it.
I think it’s all about trying to make a difference, but how do you tell the story of Africans? It’s much more important what the story is, actually, because if you are showing me as voiceless, as hopeless… you shouldn’t be telling my story if you don’t believe that I also have the power to change what is going on. And this video seems to say that the power lies in America, and it does not lie with my government, it does not lie with local initiatives on the ground, that aspect is lacking. And this is the problem, it is furthering that narrative about Africans: totally unable to help themselves and needing outside help all the time.
Why 'John Carter' Is Loads Of Fun (Think Jason and the Argonauts)
Read the entire piece from Mark Hughes in Forbes HERE.
Let me just start by getting something off my chest, before I explain why you should see John Carter. If anyone feels too jaded to have any fun, or tries too hard to pretend they’re too “cool” to like anything anymore, they should just stop professionally reviewing movies. Why subject yourselves and your readers to the repetitive (and boring) sneering and jeering that dominates your film reviews? Why exert yourselves in this endless display of trying to find something, anything, to complain about as an excuse to ignore quality entertainment, as you rush to best one another in some silly game of “who can out-bash whose reviews?”
It seems you pick these little “negative narratives” in advance, without any regard for accuracy, and you all hop the bandwagon to be sure and parrot that narrative until it sounds like the same review over and over — and, if anyone cares to look closely, the same phrases and words lifted right from one another (like “rooting interest” and “flat/inexpressive”), making me wonder if reviewers are seriously getting paid even if they just read other people’s reviews and do some quick cut-and-pasting instead of watching the film themselves.
Which is all to say, dear readers, you should ignore most of the negative reviews you’ve heard about John Carter. The film merges portions of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ first John Carter novel A Princess of Mars and a few parts of the follow-up book The Gods of Mars, streamlined into a single narrative and with some updating and alteration in the adapting. It also reflects some of the look and pulpy feel of the 1970′s Marvel comic book series John Carter, Warlord of Mars.
But what it most reminds me of are those great classic matinee adventures like Jason and the Argonauts — big, bright adventures with wild monsters and brave armies, heroes and heroines who run and jump and kiss while we grin like kids at the sheer fun of it all. There was a time when not every movie tried to be some cliched “dark and gritty” version of itself, and when critics and audiences went to movies to laugh and cheer and have grand ol’ fun getting entertained by movies that worked hard to give you your buck’s worth for two hours.
And that’s what John Carter is — an old fashioned matinee adventure. It’s Tarzan and Flash Gordon, it’s The 7th Voyage of Sinbad and Star Wars. It’s a mixture of barbarian-like ancient technology and weird heavy machinery, it’s swords and flying ships, it’s cowboys and space travel.
Without any hesitation, Jesus suddenly speaks to the man with the withered hand. “Stand up!” he says. “Stretch out your hand and come forward.” The man does a double-take. Me? Really? You’re really going to heal me? Jesus heals the man on the spot, thereby sealing his own fate with the Pharisees, who notify the Herodians of Jesus’ indiscretion — the same people who eventually have Jesus arrested and killed.
Listen, now that you have two good hands, what are your plans? Juggling? Piano? What is it you dream about doing, my friend?” In my imagination, they chat about this man’s long-awaited passion pursuits. And possibly the man then turns to Jesus and says, “Well, what are your dreams? I mean, you asked me about mine, and so I guess it’s only right that I ask you about yours.”
And against the backdrop of him resolving a crippling situation to the dismay of a few legalistic leaders, I imagine Jesus articulating his dream with words that are absolutely captivating to me: “You know, I dream that someday, places of worship will be filled with people who lay awake at night concerned about the human beings my Father created. Who care about broken bodies and broken souls and hopeless futures and hell-bound eternities. I dream of the day when people who gather in my name are so filled with the love of the Father that they go out and spread his love and extend healthy hands to withered hands — praying, coaching, and encouraging them to walk in fullness of life. I dream of worship centers filled with radically loving, outwardly focused, Christ-sharing people. That’s what I dream about.” I have to wonder, is this what you dream of too?
”—Just Walk Across the Room: Simple Steps Pointing People to Faith by Bill Hybels (discussing Jesus healing the man with the withered hand on the Sabbath from Mark 3).
With 'Mouth To Snout' CPR, 'Mushing Mortician' Saves Iditarod Dog
This story broke Wednesday in the Anchorage Daily News, but it has too much going for it not to pass along.
Monday night while competing in Alaska’s Iditarod dog sled race, Scott Janssen’s 9-year-old husky Marshall collapsed.
"Janssen raced to the dog," the newspaper writes. "Marshall did not appear to be breathing."
"I know what death looks like, and he was gone. Nobody home," Janssen told the Daily News.
And when Janssen says he knows what death looks like, he means it. Janssen is “the mushing mortician.” He runs a funeral home in Anchorage.
But he started mouth-to-snout CPR. And after what may have been five minutes, Marshall “hacked a breath.” Janssen loaded him onto the sled. The 13 other dogs pulled the remaining 32 miles of that leg. Marshall was flown back to Anchorage. And as you can see in this video posted today by SB Nation, he seems to be doing very well.
According to the Iditarod’s website, Janssen is now in 40th place out of 63 mushers. This is his second Iditarod. He was 42nd out of 47 finishers last year, the Daily News writes.
As Janssen says with a laugh in this video posted by the newspaper, folks have said of his lifesaving act that in his profession, “you probably don’t do that very much.”
Why the Student Loan Situation Is Worse Than We Thought
The latest report by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York shows how dire the financial situation has become for college students with outstanding loans.
According to numbers released by the bank this week, 1 in 4 borrowers with outstanding student loans had a past-due balance in the third quarter of 2011. Those figures are higher than most previous estimates because, in its recent calculations, the New York Fed deliberately left out borrowers who are temporarily exempt from making payments, like those still in school or within the usual six-month period after graduation when they’re not required to make payments.
By removing those borrowers from the equation, the percentage of past-due student loan balances sits at 27% of all outstanding student loans. The more conventional metric that includes those students is 14.6%.
That’s not all. The estimated student loan balance in the third quarter last year was $870 billion, which increased 2.1% from the previous quarter and is more than both Americans’ total credit card balance ($693 billion) and auto loan balance ($730 billion). About $580 billion of the total is owed by Americans who are younger than 40. The average balance sits at $23,300.
But maybe the most shocking statistic the New York Fed reported was that almost half of student loan borrowers are either deferring their student loan payments or are in forbearance. Almost 18% of borrowers had the same balance they had in the previous quarter, and 29% saw their overall balance increase thanks to either added student loans or accruing interest on the balance.
As you respond to the trending viral “Kony 2012” phenomena, stay smart and get informed. I’ve watched the video and it is clear the Invisible Children folks are well-intended. To balance the emotional appeal of the Kony 2012 campaign, take a moment to do some research and soul-searching. Here are two articles to look over; many more are on the web. Study, reflect and pray and make up your own mind on what to do. Don’t check your brain and just re-tweet what is happening.
I do not doubt for a second that those involved in KONY 2012 have great intentions, nor do I doubt for a second that Joseph Kony is a very evil man. But despite this, I’m strongly opposed to the KONY 2012 campaign.
KONY 2012 is the product of a group called Invisible Children, a controversial activist group and not-for-profit. They’ve released 11 films, most with an accompanying bracelet colour (KONY 2012 is fittingly red), all of which focus on Joseph Kony. When we buy merch from them, when we link to their video, when we put up posters linking to their website, we support the organization. I don’t think that’s a good thing, and I’mnotalone.
Invisible Children has been condemned time and time again. As a registered not-for-profit, its finances are public. Last year, the organization spent $8,676,614. Only 31% went to their charity program (page 6)*. This is far from ideal, and Charity Navigator rates their accountability 2/4 stars because they haven’t had their finances externally audited. But it goes way deeper than that.
Invisible Children (IC) swept the university campuses of America last year. The group wanted to mobilize college students to be aware of what happened in Uganda in recent years, the atrocious acts of Joseph Kony and his rebel group, the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA). I heard about Invisible Children for the first time when I was researching Uganda. I was immediately fascinated by their website. It’s very well done, but I noticed one thing. It lacked real information. If you haven’t seen the film or know nothing about their purpose, let me catch you up to speed with my version. Three clueless college kids head to Sudan with no plans and no idea about what they’re going to find. They’re looking for a “story”. They leave Sudan and make their way into Uganda. They find some bad stuff going on there. So they made a MTV-esque DVD about what was happening there. They wanted to draw attention to what they found.
Invisible Children was founded in 2004, with the film crew filming in Uganda in 2003. Watching Invisible Children is watching old news. Will watching it alert you to what has occurred in Uganda? Yes, but it will not let you know what is happening there today.
Invisible Children is too late. It has taught us that MTV type media can get university students interested in a world crisis, the problem is it took too much time. Night commuting, outlined as one of the major problems in northern Uganda by the film, is practically non-existent now. Why? Peace is coming to the region. According to UN reports, children who still are commuting at night are not doing it because of safety concerns, but because they want to enjoy the amenities that NGO’s are offering in the towns, like Gulu, Kitgum, and Lira. At the peak of the commuting, there were between 30,000 and 40,000 children commuting. Now, estimates are below 10,000.
There have been many inspired to do more than just watch a DVD and sleep downtown for a night. However, that’s where we run into another problem. This summer, IC had a bunch of college students in northern Uganda wasting time and money. There were almost 30 people who were in Uganda this summer connected with IC and even more who were inspired to change the world and fly around it. That also sounds somewhat heart warming. Self centered American kids are flying around the world to change it. The catch is they don’t know what they are doing or where they are going. They are blindly making a problem worse by throwing thousands of dollars at something they don’t understand.
When I traveled into Southern Sudan, you could sense something was different there. There is a greedy spirit there that you can feel. Foreign aid had ruined South Sudan. People do not want to work, they want handouts. An entire generation has been cared for by the UN and other NGO’s. They are fed, clothed, protected, and sent to school without having to do anything. I walked through the market there and saw UNICEF tarps and blankets for sale. I could also buy Samaritan’s Purse shoe-boxes, filled with all sorts of American goodies. I thought back how I thought it was a good idea for me to send a shoebox filled with soap, toothpaste, bouncy balls, and a washcloth to a faraway land. What I realize now is that sending things, whether money, objects, or people to a place that I have no information on is a bad idea.
The problems that Uganda faces today cannot be fixed by hundreds of uneducated Westerners going there to “help”. As you read this article, think about how much you really know about the political situations in Uganda and throughout Africa that contribute to long lasting problems.
THOSE brought up on Beatrix Potter, the author of “Squirrel Nutkin” and other long-loved nursery tales, may flinch; but Andrew Thornton, manager of the Budgens supermarket in the north London suburb of Crouch End, says sales of squirrel meat have soared since he started selling it in 2010.
The bushy-tailed tree-dwellers are just one category in a burgeoning market. Osgrow, a British-based firm, exports bison, crocodile (“ideal for barbecues”) and kudu meat (“juicy and low-fat”) to customers in countries where controls on wild meat are tighter. One such market is Germany, where hygiene laws forbid the eating of “cat and doglike flesh”. The German environment ministry confirms that this includes squirrel; the country’s media mock English rat-eaters. Australia sent quantities of kangaroo meat to Russia until an import ban in 2009, ostensibly on hygiene grounds (it is now being reconsidered).
Importing meat such as grouse can get around America’s fiddly laws on game farming. Zebra and wildebeest are popular too. Squirrel meat, though, is already an established delicacy in Ozark country and Tennessee; eating species farmed for fur (such as beaver) is also allowed.
No legal obstacle exists to eating the king of beasts, but roars of opposition prevented a restaurant in Tucson, Arizona, from selling lion flesh in tacos. The practicalities are daunting, too. Dave Arnold, an American campaigner, recommends braising it at 54° centigrade for fully 24 hours. The muscle content is so tough that the meat bunches up when it hits the pan; “Hold it down,” he advises.
Born Free USA, a lion-loving charity, decries the trade as a “cruel promotional gimmick”. Viva, a British animal-welfare group, believes that the squirrel-eating vogue represents a “wildlife massacre”.
Yet massacres are not always wrong. The “Save Our Squirrels” campaign urges diners to gobble the North American grey squirrel. Introduced into Britain in 1870, it has largely driven out the indigenous red squirrel (such as the fictional Nutkin). This “eat them to beat them” approach already helps keep down the population of lion fish, a rapacious stripy sea-beast which devours protected fish stocks off America’s west coast.
Wild meat is not always tasty. Mr Arnold says black bear is “bloody and a bit metallic”. Nor is it always healthy. Doctors in Kentucky say eating squirrel brains is linked to Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (better known as mad-cow disease). Squirrels are now mainly sold headless. Some think those who eat them need their heads examined, too.
"I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction." Isaiah 48:10
Comfort thyself, tried believer, with this thought: God saith, “I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction.” Does not the word come like a soft shower, assuaging the fury of the flame? Yea, is it not an asbestos armour, against which the heat hath no power? Let affliction come-God has chosen me. Poverty, thou mayst stride in at my door, but God is in the house already, and he has chosen me. Sickness, thou mayst intrude, but I have a balsam ready-God has chosen me.
Whatever befalls me in this vale of tears, I know that he has “chosen” me. If, believer, thou requirest still greater comfort, remember that you have the Son of Man with you in the furnace. In that silent chamber of yours, there sitteth by your side One whom thou hast not seen, but whom thou lovest; and ofttimes when thou knowest it not, he makes all thy bed in thy affliction, and smooths thy pillow for thee. Thou art in poverty; but in that lovely house of thine the Lord of life and glory is a frequent visitor. He loves to come into these desolate places, that he may visit thee. Thy friend sticks closely to thee.
Thou canst not see him, but thou mayst feel the pressure of his hands. Dost thou not hear his voice? Even in the valley of the shadow of death he says, “Fear not, I am with thee; be not dismayed, for I am thy God.” Remember that noble speech of Caesar: “Fear not, thou carriest Caesar and all his fortune.” Fear not, Christian; Jesus is with thee. In all thy fiery trials, his presence is both thy comfort and safety. He will never leave one whom he has chosen for his own. “Fear not, for I am with thee,” is his sure word of promise to his chosen ones in the “furnace of affliction.” Wilt thou not, then, take fast hold of Christ, and say-
"Through floods and flames, if Jesus lead,
I’ll follow where he goes.”
“IT IS now clear this will be a two-person race between the conservative leader Newt Gingrich and the Massachusetts moderate.” So said the conservative leader Newt Gingrich to console himself after being trounced by Mitt Romney in the Florida primary in late January. But late January was an age ago in what America’s discombobulated pundits are now calling the topsiest-turviest primary season they can remember. As the four remaining candidates brace for elections in Arizona and Michigan on February 28th, all eyes are now on the two-person race between Mr Romney, the plutocrat formerly known as the front-runner, and Rick Santorum, the social conservative and culture warrior who was never supposed to stand a chance.
Just how Mr Santorum got here is a bit of a puzzle. His campaign got off to a good start, with a narrow victory in Iowa’s caucuses at the beginning of January, but he came fourth in New Hampshire and (after Jon Huntsman and Rick Perry dropped out) a poor third in South Carolina. The smell of political death hovered in the air at his thinly attended election-night party in the Citadel, a military college in Charleston. Nothing daunted, Mr Santorum soldiered on to Florida, only to finish well behind Messrs Romney and Gingrich again. And in Nevada at the beginning of this month Ron Paul pushed him down to fourth place.
What explains Mr Santorum’s surge? Dumb luck, say some. Plenty of candidates before him—Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain, Mr Perry and Mr Gingrich—have hit the Republican sweet spot too, only to be rejected once their blemishes became plainer. Looked at in this light, Mr Santorum is merely taking his turn as the final non-Romney, pushed aloft less by his own positives than by the negatives of his competitors, notably Mr Gingrich’s bloated ego and Mr Romney’s lack of conviction. In due time, it is argued, the laws of political gravity will pull him back down.
This column has argued before that when the media look only at Mr Santorum’s thoughts on family morality they end up with a caricature. He is in fact a more rounded candidate, with some impressive skills. These include not only the perseverance that kept him tramping through the slough of despond when others might have given up, but also a nimble and well-stocked mind, an approachable manner on the stump and—the big prize that eludes Mr Romney—a palpable sincerity. In Michigan and Ohio, he may also prove that he has another advantage over Mr Romney: an appeal to blue-collar workers that is hard for a member of the 1% to match. Mr Santorum takes care to give the coalmining travails of his immigrant grandfather a big place in his narrative.
The Republicans did not want their primary season to look like a coronation. That, to say the least, is no longer a danger. It is now clear only that a large share of the party’s conservatives just do not like Mr Romney. This traps the party in a fratricidal exercise that could continue for months, if not all the way to the party convention in Tampa in August. Even if he loses next week in Michigan, Mr Santorum should pick up enough delegates to keep his hope alive. Mr Gingrich is unlikely to quit unless he loses in his home state of Georgia on Super Tuesday, and Mr Paul will fight on whatever happens. There is new talk of an “open” convention, where no candidate has a majority and the call goes out for a white knight, if one can be found. Mr Obama is a lucky man.
You’re probably paying something like $60 a month for high-speed Internet. I’m paying $5 a month, and my connection is 1,000 times faster.
Your iPad can’t play Flash videos on the Web. Mine can.
Your copy of Windows needs constant updating and patching and protection against viruses and spyware. Mine is always clean and always up-to-date.
No, I’m not some kind of smug techno-elitist; you can have all of that, too. All you have to do is sign up for a radical iPad service called OnLive Desktop Plus.
It’s a tiny app — about 5 megabytes. When you open it, you see a standard Windows 7 desktop, right there on your iPad. The full, latest versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Internet Explorer and Adobe Reader are set up and ready to use — no installation, no serial numbers, no pop-up balloons nagging you to update this or that. It may be the least annoying version of Windows you’ve ever used.
That’s pretty impressive — but not as impressive as what’s going on behind the scenes. The PC that’s driving your iPad Windows experience is, in fact, a “farm” of computers at one of three data centers thousands of miles away. Every time you tap the screen, scroll a list or type on the on-screen keyboard, you’re sending signals to those distant computers. The screen image is blasted back to your iPad with astonishingly little lag.
There’s an insane amount of technology behind this stunt — 10 years in the making, according to the company’s founder. (He’s a veteran of Apple’s original QuickTime team and Microsoft’s WebTV and Xbox teams.) OnLive Desktop builds on the company’s original business, a service that lets gamers play high-horsepower video games on Macs or low-powered Windows computers like netbooks.
The free version of the OnLive Desktop service arrived in January. It gives you Word, Excel and PowerPoint, a few basic Windows apps (like Paint, Media Player, Notepad and Calculator), and 2 gigabytes of storage.
Plenty of apps give you stripped-down versions of Office on the iPad. But OnLive Desktop gives you the complete Windows Office suite. In Word, you can do fancy stuff like tracking changes and high-end typography. In PowerPoint, you can make slide shows that the iPad projects with all of the cross fades, zooms and animations intact.
What a broad world to roam in, what a sea to swim in is this God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
He is eternal, which means that He antedates time and is wholly independent of it. Time began in Him and will end in Him. To it He pays no tribute and from it He suffers no change.
He is immutable, which means that He has never changed and can never change in any smallest measure. To change He would need to go from better to worse or from worse to better. He cannot do either, for being perfect He cannot become more perfect, and if He were to become less perfect He would be less than God.
He is omniscient, which means that He knows in one free and effortless act all matter, all spirit, all relationships, all events. He has no past and He has no future. He is, and none of the limiting and qualifying terms used of creatures can apply to Him. Love and mercy and righteousness are His, and holiness so ineffable that no comparisons or figures will avail to express it.
Only fire can give even a remote conception of it. In fire He appeared at the burning bush; in the pillar of fire He dwelt through all the long wilderness journey. The fire that glowed between the wings of the cherubim in the holy place was called the “shekinah,” the Presence, through the years of Israel’s glory, and when the Old had given place to the New, He came at Pentecost as a fiery flame and rested upon each disciple.
Suppose scientists discovered a clump of neurons in the brain that, when stimulated, turned people into egalitarians. This would be good news for Democratic strategists and speechwriters, who could now get to work framing arguments about wealth and taxation in ways that might activate the relevant section of cerebral cortex.
This “share-the-spoils” button has been discovered, in a sense, but it may turn out to be harder to press than Democrats might think.
Pretend you’re a three-year-old, exploring an exciting new room full of toys. You and another child come up to a large machine that has some marbles inside, which you can see. There’s a rope running through the machine and the two ends of the rope hang out of the front, five feet apart. If you or your partner pulls on the rope alone, you just get more rope. But if you both pull at the same time, the rope dislodges some marbles, which you each get to keep. The marbles roll down a chute, and then they divide: one rolls into the cup in front of you, three roll into the cup in front of your partner.
This is the scenario created by developmental psychologists Michael Tomasello and Katharina Hamann at the Max Planck Institute in Leipzig, Germany. In this situation, where both kids have to pull for anyone to get marbles, the children equalize the wealth about 75% of the time, with hardly any conflict. Either the “rich” kid hands over one marble spontaneously or else the “poor” kid asks for one and his request is immediately granted.
But an experiment must have more than one condition, and the experimenters ran two other versions of the study to isolate the active ingredient. What had led to such high rates of sharing, given that three-year-olds are often quite reluctant to share new treasures? Children who took part in the second condition found that the marbles were already waiting for them in the cups when they first walked up to the machine. No work required.
In this condition, it’s finders-keepers. If you have the bad luck to place yourself in front of the cup with one marble, then your partner is very unlikely to offer you one, you’re unlikely to ask, and if you do ask, you’re likely to be rebuffed. Only about 5% of the time did any marbles change hands.
But here’s the most amazing condition — a slight variation that reveals a deep truth. Things start off just as in the first condition: you and your partner see two ropes hanging out of the machine. But as you start tugging it becomes clear that they are two separate ropes. You pull yours, and one marble rolls out into your cup. Your partner pulls the other rope, and is rewarded with three marbles. What happens next?
For the most part, it’s pullers-keepers. Even though you and your partner each did the same work (rope pulling) at more or less the same time, you both know that you didn’t really collaborate to produce the wealth. Only about 30% of the time did the kids work out an equal split. In other words, the “share-the-spoils” button is not pressed by the mere existence of inequality. It is pressed when two or more people collaborated to produce a gain. Once the button is pressed in both brains, both parties willingly and effortlessly share.
So now let’s look at a key line in President Obama’s State of the Union address: “we can restore an economy where everyone gets a fair shot, and everyone does their fair share, and everyone plays by the same set of rules.” The president is making three arguments about fairness in this one sentence, but do any of them press the “share-the-spoils” button? If you think that the economy is like a giant marble dispenser with a single rope, then you’d probably agree that if everyone does their “fair share” and pulls on the rope as hard as they can, then everyone is entitled to a “fair share” in the nation’s wealth. But do Americans perceive the economy as a giant collaborative project?
Unfortunately, President Obama promised he would not raise taxes on anyone but the rich. He and other Democrats have also vowed to “protect seniors” from cuts, even though seniors receive the vast majority of entitlement dollars. The president is therefore in the unenviable position of arguing that we’re in big trouble and so a small percentage of people will have to give more, but most people will be protected from sacrifice. This appeal misses the shared-sacrifice button completely. It also fails to push the share-the-spoils button. When people feel that they’re all pulling on different ropes, they don’t feel entitled to a share of other people’s wealth, even when that wealth was acquired by luck.
If the Democrats really want to get moral psychology working for them, I suggest that they focus less on distributive fairness — which is about whether everyone got what they deserved — and more on procedural fairness—which is about whether honest, open and impartial procedures were used to decide who got what. If there’s a problem with the ultra-rich, it’s not that they have too much wealth, it’s that they bought laws that made it easy for them to gain and keep so much more wealth in recent decades.
Sarah Palin gave a speech last September lambasting “crony capitalism,” which she defined as “the collusion of big government and big business and big finance to the detriment of all the rest – to the little guys.” I think that she was on to something and that she was right to include big government along with big business and big finance. The problem isn’t that some kids have many more marbles than others. The problem is that some kids are in cahoots with the experimenters. They get to rig the marble machine before the rest of us have a chance to play with it.
Jonathan Haidt is a professor of psychology at the University of Virginia and a visiting professor at the N.Y.U.-Stern School of Business. He is the author of “The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion.”
The conflict between club and high school soccer — at least for the boys — is officially over. Club soccer wins.
On Feb. 10, the five-year-old U.S. Soccer Development Academy, which consists of 78 elite clubs nationwide blessed by U.S. Soccer as integral to its elite player development, announced that all teams will be on a 10-month schedule beginning with the 2012-13 season. (Some regions had already moved to 10 months, but everyone else had played seven.) So that means about 3,000 players of high school age will effectively be barred from playing for their high school teams. Simply, there won’t be time, and, frankly, the time on high school soccer was wasted, anyway. The folks at U.S. Soccer don’t say that exactly, but they might as well have. From the FAQ on the scheduling change:
Is U.S. Soccer saying that kids can no longer play high school soccer?
Every player has a choice to play high school soccer or in the Development Academy. We believe that for those elite soccer players who are committed to pursuing the goal of reaching the highest levels they can in the sport, making this decision will provide them a big advantage in their development and increase their exposure to top coaches in the United States and from around the world.
We are talking about a group of players that want to continue at the next level, whether that is professional or college, which is still the destination for a majority of our graduates.
Sure, you can player high school soccer — if you’re a spazz!
U.S. National Coach Jurgen Klinsmann, in the news release announcing the extended schedule, said elite players eschewing high school soccer is the price we as a nation must pay to reach World Cup-winning status, like Klinsmann’s native country, Germany.
“If we want our players to someday compete against the best in the world, it is critical for their development that they train and play as much as possible and in the right environment. The Development Academy 10-month season is the right formula and provides a good balance between training time and playing competitive matches. This is the model that the best countries around the world use for their programs, and I think it makes perfect sense that we do as well.”
Of course, in other soccer-playing nations, school sports were not the core of soccer, or just about any other sport. But this is America, darn it, and kids like to play for the glory of their school, too, right?
A Brief History of Lent: A (much needed) time to prepare for Easter.
Woodcut by Gustave Doré (1832-1883)
History of Lent, by Father William P. Saunders, read more HERE.
The word Lent itself is derived from the Anglo-Saxon words lencten, meaning “Spring,” and lenctentid, which literally means not only “Springtide” but also was the word for “March,” the month in which the majority of Lent falls.
Since the earliest times of the Church, there is evidence of some kind of Lenten preparation for Easter. For instance, St. Irenaeus wrote to Pope St. Victor I, commenting on the celebration of Easter and the differences between practices in the East and the West: “The dispute is not only about the day, but also about the actual character of the fast. Some think that they ought to fast for one day, some for two, others for still more; some make their ‘day’ last 40 hours on end. Such variation in the observance did not originate in our own day, but very much earlier, in the time of our forefathers” (Eusebius, History of the Church, V, 24). When Rufinus translated this passage from Greek into Latin, the punctuation made between “40” and “hours” made the meaning to appear to be “40 days, twenty-four hours a day.” The importance of the passage, nevertheless, remains that since the time of “our forefathers” — always an expression for the apostles — a 40-day period of Lenten preparation existed. However, the actual practices and duration of Lent were still not homogenous throughout the Church.
Lent becomes more regularized after the legalization of Christianity in A.D. 313. The Council of Nicea (325), in its disciplinary canons, noted that two provincial synods should be held each year, “one before the 40 days of Lent.”
Of course, the number “40” has always had special spiritual significance regarding preparation. On Mount Sinai, preparing to receive the Ten Commandments, “Moses stayed there with the Lord for 40 days and 40 nights, without eating any food or drinking any water” (Ex 34:28). Elijah walked “40 days and 40 nights” to the mountain of the Lord, Mount Horeb (another name for Sinai) (I Kgs 19:8). Most importantly, Jesus fasted and prayed for “40 days and 40 nights” in the desert before He began His public ministry (Mt 4:2).
Once the 40 days of Lent were established, the next development concerned how much fasting was to be done. In Jerusalem, for instance, people fasted for 40 days, Monday through Friday, but not on Saturday or Sunday, thereby making Lent last for eight weeks. In Rome and in the West, people fasted for six weeks, Monday through Saturday, thereby making Lent last for six weeks. Eventually, the practice prevailed of fasting for six days a week over the course of six weeks, and Ash Wednesday was instituted to bring the number of fast days before Easter to 40.
The rules of fasting varied. First, some areas of the Church abstained from all forms of meat and animal products, while others made exceptions for food like fish. For example, Pope St. Gregory, writing to St. Augustine of Canterbury, issued the following rule: “We abstain from flesh, meat, and from all things that come from flesh, as milk, cheese and eggs.” Second, the general rule was for a person to have one meal a day, in the evening or at 3 p.m. These Lenten fasting rules also evolved. Eventually, a smaller repast was allowed during the day to keep up one’s strength from manual labor. Eating fish was allowed, and later eating meat was also allowed through the week except on Ash Wednesday and Friday. Dispensations were given for eating dairy products if a pious work was performed, and eventually this rule was relaxed totally. (However, the abstinence from even dairy products led to the practice of blessing Easter eggs and eating pancakes on Shrove Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday.)
Over the years, modifications have been made to the Lenten observances, making our practices not only simple but also easy. Ash Wednesday still marks the beginning of Lent, which lasts for 40 days, not including Sundays. The present fasting and abstinence laws are very simple: On Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, the faithful fast (having only one full meal a day and smaller snacks to keep up one’s strength) and abstain from meat; on the other Fridays of Lent, the faithful abstain from meat. People are still encouraged “to give up something” for Lent as a sacrifice. (An interesting note is that technically on Sundays and solemnities like St. Joseph’s Day (March 19) and the Annunciation (March 25), one is exempt and can partake of whatever has been offered up for Lent.
Nevertheless, I was always taught, “If you gave something up for the Lord, tough it out. Don’t act like a Pharisee looking for a loophole.” Moreover, an emphasis must be placed on performing spiritual works, like attending the Stations of the Cross, attending Mass, making a weekly holy hour before the Blessed Sacrament, taking time for personal prayer and spiritual reading and most especially making a good confession and receiving sacramental absolution. Although the practices may have evolved over the centuries, the focus remains the same: to repent of sin, to renew our faith and to prepare to celebrate joyfully the mysteries of our salvation.
Father William P. Saunders is pastor of Our Lady of Hope Parish in Potomac Falls and former dean of the Notre Dame Graduate School of Christendom College.
Adele emerged from last week’s Grammy ceremony rich in gold—the British songstress nabbed all six of the awards for which she was nominated, giving her more wins than any other artist.
“It hasn’t really sunk in,” she said to a room full of reporters at the Staples Center late Sunday night, visibly giddy from her victories. “We all just keep laughing. It’s incredible.”
Incredible indeed, but in terms of annual earnings, Adele is not quite as well off as some of her Grammy-winning peers. Paul McCartney is the highest earner of this year’s victors, pulling in $67 million in FORBES’ most recent annual accounting. Taylor Swift follows with $45 million, bolstered by new album Speak Now and its Grammy-winning track “Mean.”
Jay-Z rounds out the top three with $37 million, thanks to a broad portfolio of business interests and revenues from the tail end of a world tour—enough to crown him hip-hop’s Cash King for the fourth time in five years. The “Empire State of Mind” rapper didn’t show up at the Grammys to pick up his hardware; he and wife Beyonce were likely busy taking care of newborn daughter Blue Ivy Carter.
Partner-in-rhyme Kanye West didn’t appear in person to accept his Grammys, either—though his eight nominations were the most of any artist, the rapper was likely miffed that his masterpiece, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, didn’t earn an Album of the Year nomination. His $16 million in annual earnings places him at No. 7 on the Grammy list.
The earnings estimates encompass all pretax income earned from May 2010 to May 2011, before subtracting agent and manager fees. Some of these figures were published in our latest Celeb 100 issue, compiled with the help of data from Pollstar, RIAA and others, as well as extensive interviews with industry insiders including lawyers, managers, concert promoters, agents and, in some cases, the musicians themselves.
As for Adele, the stupendous sales of her Grammy-winning album 21 (5.82 million copies in the U.S. alone) helped her take home $18 million last year, landing her at No. 6.
Not being the top earner doesn’t seem to have put a damper on the 23-year-old singer’s mood—in fact, it seems there’s nothing capable of doing that at present time. Her last words before leaving the Staples Center: “I’m too busy being happy.”
A Brief History of Mardis Gras (Fat Tuesday): The Last Hurrah before Lent.
Mardi Gras, or “Fat Tuesday,” is the “last hurrah” before Lent begins on Ash Wednesday. That’s why the enormous party in New Orleans, for example, ends abruptly at midnight on Tuesday, with battalions of streetsweepers pushing the crowds out of the French Quarter towards home.
What is less known about Mardi Gras is its relation to the Christmas season, through the interlude between Christmas and Easter know as Carnival. Carnival comes from the Latin words carne vale, meaning “farewell to the flesh.” Like many Catholic holidays and seasonal celebrations, it likely has its roots in pre-Christian traditions based on the seasons. Some believe the festival represented the few days added to the lunar calendar to make it coincide with the solar calendar; since these days were outside the calendar, rules and customs were not obeyed. Others see it as a late-winter celebration designed to welcome the coming spring. As early as the middle of the second century, the Romans observed a Fast of 40 Days, which was preceded by a brief season of feasting, costumes and merrymaking.
The Carnival season kicks off with the Epiphany, also known as Twelfth Night, Three Kings’ Day and, in the Eastern churches, Theophany. Epiphany, which falls on January 6, 12 days after Christmas, celebrates the visit of the Wise Men bearing gifts for the infant Jesus. In cultures that celebrate Carnival, Epiphany kicks off a series of parties leading up to Mardi Gras.
Epiphany is also traditionally when celebrants serve King’s Cake, a custom that began in France in the 12th century. Legend has it that the cakes were made in a circle to represent the circular routes that the Wise Men took to find Jesus, in order to confuse King Herod and foil his plans of killing the Christ Child. In the early days, a coin or bean was hidden inside the cake, and whoever found the item was said to have good luck in the coming year. In Louisiana, bakers now put a small baby, representing the Christ Child, in the cake; the recipient is then expected to host the next King Cake party.
There are well-known season-long Carnival celebrations in Europe and Latin America, including Nice, France; Cologne, Germany; and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The best-known celebration in the U.S. is in New Orleans and the French-Catholic communities of the Gulf Coast. Mardi Gras came to the New World in 1699, when a French explorer arrived at the Mississippi River, about 60 miles south of present day New Orleans. He named the spot Point du Mardi Gras because he knew the holiday was being celebrated in his native country that day.
Eventually the French in New Orleans celebrated Mardi Gras with masked balls and parties, until the Spanish government took over in the mid-1700s and banned the celebrations. The ban continued even after the U.S. government acquired the land but the celebrations resumed in 1827. The official colors of Mardi Gras, with their roots in Catholicism, were chosen 10 years later: purple, a symbol of justice; green, representing faith; and gold, to signify power.
Mardi Gras literally means “Fat Tuesday” in French. The name comes from the tradition of slaughtering and feasting upon a fattened calf on the last day of Carnival. The day is also known as Shrove Tuesday (from “to shrive,” or hear confessions), Pancake Tuesday and fetter Dienstag. The custom of making pancakes comes from the need to use up fat, eggs and dairy before the fasting and abstinence of Lent begins.
How did religious beliefs shape the origins of the Civil War and President Abraham Lincoln’s actions during the conflict? As Northern abolitionists and Southern slaveholders clashed over the question of slavery, each side turned to the Bible to argue its cause.
Frederick Douglass, a former slave and abolitionist newspaper editor, despaired that people who called themselves Christians could defend the evils of slavery. Protestant denominations fractured, with each side declaring God was on its side. Meanwhile, Lincoln, who had put his faith in reason over revelation, confronted the mounting casualties of the war and the death of his young son. In his anguish, he began a spiritual journey that transformed his inner life and changed his ideas about God and the ultimate meaning of the Civil War.
The war was a theological as well as a political crisis. There were sharp disputes in America over what God might be doing in and through the war. For some, the turmoil of the war years called into question the belief that America was a chosen nation with a special destiny. The war also moved Lincoln to re-examine his own understanding of God’s purposes and the role of divine Providence in human affairs. Six weeks after he delivered his stirring Second Inaugural Address on March 4, 1865, with its sermonlike language, deeply moral sentiments and conciliatory closing words, Lincoln was dead. For many he became a martyred prophet, and the Second Inaugural Address has come to be regarded as American Scripture.
(You can also click the photo below for a direct link to the on-line video site for PBS and then navigate to Episode Three.)
For the first time on television, God in America explores the tumultuous 400-year history of the intersection of religion and public life in America, from the first European settlements to the 2008 presidential election. A co-production of AMERICAN EXPERIENCE and FRONTLINE, this six-hour series examines how religious dissidents helped shape the American concept of religious liberty and the controversial evolution of that ideal in the nation’s courts and political arena; how religious freedom and waves of new immigrants and religious revivals fueled competition in the religious marketplace; how movements for social reform — from abolition to civil rights — galvanized men and women to put their faith into political action; and how religious faith influenced conflicts from the American Revolution to the Cold War.
These days, my mantra is one I think Jesus himself used: Anyone, anywhere. That’s it — anyone, anywhere, can be transformed into a new creation through the power and grace of our Lord. Every morning, I commit myself afresh to staying attuned to the Spirit. I try to pour out huge amounts of radically accepting love as I discover people’s stories. I try to walk with people from where they are today toward Christ, trusting that along the way we’ll click off all of the patterns of unrighteousness that need to be clicked off for them to be conformed to Christ’s image.
As Christ’s followers, we’re accountable for regularly moving in circles with people far from God, uncovering their stories with compassion and grace, and then naturally and consistently making ourselves available when God opens a door of opportunity. People living far from God need the redemption and strength and stability that you can offer — just as you did before you came to Christ.
Every time I’m confronted with the depravity of someone else’s sin, all I can think about is my own fallen state and my own proneness to fall short of God’s standard. But equally true is the other thing that comes to mind: Jesus Christ’s response to my sorry state was acceptance rather than condemnation. His posture toward me when I was in the midst of my sin was filled to the brim with compassion, grace, tenderness, and mercy.
Friends, there is no question in my mind about whether these encounters are worth it, even the messiest of them. I challenge you to take the risk to sideline your own agenda and discover other people’s stories no matter how uncomfortable you get, how awkward the situation becomes, or how heavy the sin is that you’re sorting through with them. Why? Because you just might be the single flame in someone’s dark night who reminds them that there is a God who created them, who loves them, and who yearns to relate with them, starting from right where they are.
”—Just Walk Across the Room: Simple Steps Pointing People to Faith by Bill Hybels
Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of the Season of Lent. It is a season of penance, reflection, and fasting that prepares us to celebrate Christ’s resurrection on Easter Sunday.
Following the example of the Ninevites, who did penance in sackcloth and ashes when Jonah announced to them their upcoming doom, foreheads are marked with ashes to humble our hearts and remind us that life passes away on Earth. As we receive the asshes in the form of a cross on the forehead, we are told, “Remember, man is dust, and unto dust you shall return.” Ashes are a symbol of penance made sacramental by the blessing of the Church, and they help us develop a spirit of humility and sacrifice.
The distribution of ashes comes from a ceremony of ages past. Christians who had committed grave faults performed public penance. On Ash Wednesday, the Bishop blessed the hair shirts that they were to wear during the forty days of penance, and sprinkled over them ashes made from the palms from the previous year. Then, while the faithful recited the Seven Penitential Psalms, the penitents were turned out of the church because of their sins — just as Adam, the first man, was turned out of Paradise because of his disobedience. The penitents did not enter the church again until Maundy Thursday after having won reconciliation by the toil of forty days’ penance and sacramental absolution. Later, all Christians, whether public or secret penitents, came to receive ashes out of devotion. In earlier times, the distribution of ashes was followed by a penitential procession.
The ashes are made from the palms used in the Palm Sunday celebration of the previous year. The ashes are christened with Holy Water and are scented by exposure to incense. While the ashes symbolize penance and contrition, they are also a reminder that God is gracious and merciful to those who call on Him with repentant hearts. His Divine mercy is of utmost importance during the season of Lent, and the Church calls on us to seek that mercy during the entire Lenten season with reflection, prayer and penance.
"I have learned, in whatever state I am, therewith to be content." Philippians 4:11
These words show us that contentment is not a natural propensity of man. “Ill weeds grow apace.” Covetousness, discontent, and murmuring are as natural to man as thorns are to the soil. We need not sow thistles and brambles; they come up naturally enough, because they are indigenous to earth: and so, we need not teach men to complain; they complain fast enough without any education.
But the precious things of the earth must be cultivated. If we would have wheat, we must plough and sow; if we want flowers, there must be the garden, and all the gardener’s care. Now, contentment is one of the flowers of heaven, and if we would have it, it must be cultivated; it will not grow in us by nature; it is the new nature alone that can produce it, and even then we must be specially careful and watchful that we maintain and cultivate the grace which God has sown in us.
Paul says, “I have learned … to be content;” as much as to say, he did not know how at one time. It cost him some pains to attain to the mystery of that great truth. No doubt he sometimes thought he had learned, and then broke down. And when at last he had attained unto it, and could say, “I have learned in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content,” he was an old, grey-headed man, upon the borders of the grave-a poor prisoner shut up in Nero’s dungeon at Rome. We might well be willing to endure Paul’s infirmities, and share the cold dungeon with him, if we too might by any means attain unto his good degree.
Do not indulge the notion that you can be contented with learning, or learn without discipline. It is not a power that may be exercised naturally, but a science to be acquired gradually. We know this from experience. Brother, hush that murmur, natural though it be, and continue a diligent pupil in the College of Content.
Apple’s iPhones and iPads get most of the attention, but Apple is now directing the spotlight on the Mac.
There had been rumors swirling that Apple was back-burnering the Mac, but that’s hard to believe after Thursday’s announcement: from now on, Apple will update Mac OS X once a year.
It will start this summer with Mac OS X 10.8, code-named Mountain Lion, only a year after the Lion version was released.
(You also have to wonder how Apple will keep numbering Mac OS X, since it’s already at version 10.8. (Actually, Apple’s people told me: They have no problem with double-digit decimal points, like Mac OS X 10.10, Mac OS X 10.11, and Mac OS X 10.12.)
(The bigger question is how long it can keep coming up with big cat names. Mac OS X Bobcat? Mac OS X Cougar? Mac OS X Really Fat Tabby?)
Now you’ll have to decide once a year whether or not to succumb to paying annually the $30 (or whatever Apple winds up charging) for the privilege of remaining current.
The real shocker, though, is that for the first time, Apple decided to give tech reviewers an early, early version of Mountain Lion — not just months before its release to the public, but even before its release to its developer (programmer) community.
When Lion came along last summer, the big changes were all about making the Mac more like an iPad. Trackpad gestures simulated the multitouch gestures on an iPad screen. Lion features like Full Screen mode, Auto Save and Launchpad are total iPad rip-offs, too; if Apple hadn’t stolen these features from itself, it would surely be suing for copyright infringement.
Well, don’t look now, but Mountain Lion brings even more of the iPhone/iPad features to the Mac. The juiciest payoff here is the suite of Mac apps that now mimic what’s on the iPhone/iPad, like Reminders, Notes, Messages and Game Center. Through your free iCloud account, all of these apps are synced instantly and smoothly across all your Apple gadgets. On the Mac, you type a reminder to yourself; it appears simultaneously on your iPhone.
Notes is cool: you can add photos to your notes, or change the font styles and sizes. (The font and size changes sync over to your iPhone/iPad, but not photos.) You can also pin a note to your desktop to make sure it grabs your attention.
Messages is particularly awesome. Now you can type little messages — or shoot photos or videos — to anyone else with an iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch or Mountain Lion Mac, right from your computer. These may feel like text messages, but they’re free and don’t involve the cellphone company. And because everything is synced up, you see the same conversation thread on all your gadgets. If you started a chat with your boss on the phone, you can get home from work, sit down at your Mac and see the whole transcript so far.