- The Washington Times - Friday, February 15, 2008

Divine freedom

“Ask nearly anyone if there’s religious liberty in America and you’ll get some version of The Myth: The Pilgrims came from England in search of religious freedom. They found it in Plymouth Colony, took a break for Thanksgiving Dinner, then somebody passed the First Amendment and we all lived happily ever after. Push back ever so slightly and the cognitive dissonance will begin. The culture war? Yes, well, we all would be living happily ever after if it weren’t for the crazies who just don’t get it and are trying to shove — pick either (a) “separation of church and state” or (b) “their religion” — down our throats. …

“In short, as a society, we’re at wits’ end. We assume we must understand something so basic to our heritage as religious freedom. But when we actually take a look at it, all the philosophical and legal lines seem to blur and to overlap each other. Let’s face it: when it comes to religious liberty, we really don’t know what we think.”

Kevin J. “Seamus” Hasson, writing on “The Myth: Is there religious liberty in America?” in the February issue of American Spectator

Personal ads

“While the big news in the online world focuses on Google, Yahoo and Microsoft, a more profound revolution is taking place on the online social networks: The discussion about privacy is changing as users take control over their own online data. While they spread their Web presence, these users are not looking for privacy, but for recognition as individuals — whether by friends or vendors. This will eventually change the whole world of advertising. …

“This market will get more competitive, and users will be barraged by ads to which they will pay less and less attention. Call that public space, a world of billboards and cacophony. Even though the ads will be more ‘relevant’ than ever, users will increasingly tune them out.

“Now consider the new world of social networks. Facebook, unwittingly or on purpose, has been teaching people to manage their own data about themselves. … Each user determines who will get into his own garden, whether friends or vendors. …

“So what’s the business model? I’ll ‘friend’ British Airways, which will say, ‘We see you’re going to Moscow next month. Why not fly through London and we’ll give you 10,000 extra miles?’ ”

Esther Dyson, writing on “The Coming Ad Revolution,” Feb. 11 in the Wall Street


Marry him anyway

“Remember the movie ‘Broadcast News’? Holly Hunter’s dilemma — the choice between passion and friendship — is exactly the one many women over 30 are faced with. In the end, Holly Hunter’s character decides to wait for the right guy, but he (of course) never materializes. Meanwhile, her emotional soul mate, the Albert Brooks character, (of course) gets married and has children. …

“My friend Jennifer summed it up this way: ‘When I used to hear women complaining bitterly about their husbands, I’d think, ‘How sad, they settled.’ Now it’s like, ‘God, that would be nice.’ ”

Lori Gottlieb, writing on “Marry Him: The case for settling for Mr. Good Enough,” in the March issue of the Atlantic Monthly

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