Of twits and tweets
Any kid using the excuse that the Mayan calendar “ate my homework” has lost his leverage. The world didn't end on 12/21/12, but things are getting curiouser as what was supposed to be mankind's last year on all calendars trickles to an end. The pope is now tweeting. The archbishops of Canterbury and York tweeted their Yuletide sermons. And the queen of England gave her Christmas message in 3D. Pope Benedict XVI's first use of Twitter (he's @Pontifex in the tweet world) went out on Dec. 12. Since Twitter messages are limited to 140 characters, full sermons can't go in one tweet. At least the subject is serious, unlike many tweets. A 2009 analysis by a market research firm showed that more than 40 percent of tweets can be described as “pointless babble.” Another 10 percent were either self-promotion or spam. Hard to say in what category to place the millions of tweets about the Last Day on Earth that turned out to be just another Friday.
A solemn reminder
The recent death of U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, was a reminder that a dwindling number of World War II veterans remain with us, and even fewer are still involved in public service. Inouye volunteered for the military after witnessing Japanese planes attack Peal Harbor. He was a member of the famed Japanese-American 442nd Regimental Combat Team and lost his right arm in a battle with Germans in Italy. With Inouye's passing, there are now only three members of Congress who served in World War II: Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J.; Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich., and Rep. Ralph Hall, R-Texas. And the clock is swiftly winding down for the last of the World War II vets in Congress. Lautenberg turns 89 in January. Dingell is 86. Hall recently became the oldest person to ever serve in the U.S. House and will turn 90 in May.
Bad news for “brights”
Research by the Pew Research Center finds that the number of Americans who definitely believe in miracles has increased from 45 percent to 55 percent over the last two decades. The number who probably or definitely believe in miracles now stands at 79 percent. Pew found that those who regularly attend church are more likely to believe in miracles, but also found belief in miracles was growing fastest among those who do not regularly attend church. In fact, belief in miracles is increasing even as church affiliation has declined. That will likely frustrate certain atheists, particularly those who tout themselves as “brights” for rejecting religious belief, a not-too-subtle way of portraying those of religious faith as dullards. Pew's research shows that traditional religious institutions may face challenges, but Americans retain an abiding belief in evidence of a higher power.