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home : insight & opinion : signs of life September 30, 2014

1/22/2004 4:54:00 PM
New Web site and other matters
By GREG BILBREY
Managing Editor

From the feedback we've received so far, it looks as if the "new" Daily News Online website is a success.

We appreciate the comments, and it's good to see folks depending on our website for the information and services it offers, just as they've come to depend on the Daily News over the years. Most newspapers our size have found that their websites complement and even draw more readers to their print editions, and we can see that happening here. And, there'll be more additions and enhancements to come both in print and on the Web.

All the work I've been doing over the past couple of months preparing for the "re-launch" of Daily News Online has included a lot of time spent on the Web, and apart from finding the resouces I found to get the job at hand done, I've run across a few unrelated sites that might interest you, if you haven't seen them already.

The Urban Legends Reference Pages (www.snopes.com) is the best resource I've found for checking out the endless procession of forwarded e-mails that make their way through the ether to my desktop. The latest one I used Snopes to debunk was a piece falsely attributed to columnist and TV commentator Andy Rooney that cast him as a virulent racist, among other things. Another was a "fear forward" passing along the false report that terrorists had been buying up UPS driver uniforms in order to mount an attack. What has Brown done to you lately?

It's scary to think that people forward these things because they agree with them or are truly frightened by them, but it's even scarier to think that people don't care whether they're true or not. Whenever I get one, I try to check it out and reply to the sender if it is false. Sometimes it makes a difference.

Snopes.com is apparently a hobby for the couple who does it, David and Barbara Mikkelson, but it has proven to be comprehensive and reliable.

Lark News (larknews.com) is a breath of fresh air. For those familiar with the satirical online newspaper The Onion, Lark News is kind of like a Christian Onion. It's a scrupulouly straight-faced satire on the evangelical Christian subculture, created by evangelical Christians. It's also a riot.

Here a few headlines, to give you an idea:

"Bush budget gets $100 million for spiritual warfare"

"Christian couple maintains abstinence through first two years of marriage"

"Assemblies of God commits entire 2004 evangelism budget to converting Madonna"

"Southern Baptists endorse 'utter servitude of women'; 14 missionary wives detained overseas"

And, on "Lark Auctions," you can find VeggieTales' "LarryBoy and the Gospel of Thomas" bootleg. Never released!

As you can see, there's nothing sacred - which might bother some people. But as a member of the subculture myself, I can testify that the one thing that's often lacking is a willingness to laugh at ourselves. Conversion doesn't mean losing your sense of humor - and satire is a time-honored form of humor that Christians have been reluctant to use or even enjoy. Lark News doesn't make fun of faith - it makes fun of what we poor humans do to it.

A warning: Lark News is out there on the edge. Though there's nothing obscene or vulgar about it that I've been able to find, its creators recommend it for people 18 and older. I don't think it would hurt an older teen who has a good faith background.

Look up www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2003/118/31.0.html for an article on Lark News.

I've found over the years that my musical tastes have evolved, or devolved, to the point where I only like artists that no one's ever heard of. This pretty much limits my listening to my own CDs, the satellite-TV much channels and Web radio. While there are a lot of good online listening venues, the most eclectic I've found is www.kexp.org, the online presence of the University of Washington public-radio station.

While it's a college station, it's not just college music. Far from it. Here are some artists from KEXP's playlist: The Flaming Lips, Al Green, Ryan Adams, The Holmes Brothers, Johnny Cash, The Crystal Method, Sonic Youth, My Morning Jacket, Jay Farrar, The Cure, PJ Harvey, Radiohead, Hank Williams, Bob Dylan, The Bottle Rockets and Tom Waits.

In other words, you never know what you're going to hear - and you're not going to love everything you hear on KEXP;  I certainly don't. But you have to admire their spunk and independent spirit.

If you've run across any neat Web sites lately, let me know at gbilbrey@robdailynews.com and I'lll share them in a future column.













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