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Saturday, February 02, 2002

Who is This Herman Uticks Guy, Anyway?- Kevin Holtsberry gives a quick defense of hermeneutics this afternoon in reply to an argument by Ted Barlow that "the Bible, literally applied, is not a terribly useful guide to life." Barlow brings up the common anti-Christian argument that none of us can live up in full to Biblical principals, that professing Christians are by definition hypocrites. Well, the core of Christian doctrine is that we are all sinners and that Jesus died to take our sin upon Himself; we know we're going to come up short without help. Hermeneutics translates in lay language to "what does that mean for today." However, hermeneutics needs to go hand-in-hand with exegesis (what did the guy mean at the time he said it). Many liberals are quick to discount the Bible as a two-millennia-old document too stuck in the past to be relevant, that the times require a broader (translation-allowing them to do the sinful stuff with less guilt) reading. However, if proper exegesis read in the first-century (or BC for Old Testament) context makes the passage say X and X isn't politically correct today, you can't use hermeneutics to make it say Y. You can amplify X to reflect modern standards while still holding to it. For instance, passages on male headship of the household can be tweaked to make the husband a giving servant to his wife while still being in charge, but that still keeps the exegesis intact. We need to start with what the Bible writers were saying, then adapt it to today, not start with a desired result and shoe-horn our hermeneutics into a questionable exegesis.

Dogs Ain't Barking Here- Looks like the World Economic Forum is going off sans protestors for the most part. What is this world coming to?

It's always sunny in Punxsutawney- Phil the Groundhog says six more weeks of winter, he saw his shadow. Since when did spring ever come before St. Patty's day anyway? Up in Michigan, we're usually good for one good late-March snowstorm, so spring rarely takes hold until early April, equinoxes notwithstanding.

Denbeste at the USS Clueless has a good essay on what the policy wonks call American Exceptionalism and immigration. One advantage America has is that we're descendents of risk-takers who took a flier on this new country. The timid ones stayed home. I think it is that risk-taking spirit that makes this place work. Immigration gives the US booster shots of can-do people, creating a risk-taking drain as well as a brain drain. There might be a explanation of the black-white problem in that hypothesis; the ancestors of most African-Americans were hauled over here by force, thus there isn't the immigrant tradition in the black community for the most part. It would be interesting to look at Afro-Americans of Caribbean descent, to see if having their forebears come from Jamaica or Trinidad to the US makes them different from people whose parents came from Mississippi or Georgia. Thanks, IRB, for the link.

Surrender Monkey Alert--French presidential aides are fleeing the Axis Of Evil rhetoric. Down a bit in this National Post piece, they're quoted as saying "The rhetoric of good and evil is not suitable for the reality of today's world." Must be a different planet from ours. France has become so secular, they wouldn't understand the concept of evil if it bit them on the derrière.

I Thought it Was Just Bloggers Who Held Parliament in Contempt-Canadian Defence Minister Art Eggleton may be up on contempt of parliament charges for lying about when he heard about Canadian-captured Afghan prisoners being handed over to the Americans. Of course, since the Liberals hold the majority, they'd be in charge of punishing one of their own. X-rays haven't revealed that amount of backbone in the Liberals. This could be a fun bit of schadenfreude watching the Libs squirm.

Advances in Quantum Economics- Samizdata has reported the discovery of Element Zero- Governmentium. No electrons or protons, just a lot of neutrons weighing things down. The Institute for Quantum Economics willl be sending our top scientists over with our bogometers to see if this is actually the long-sought Element Zero or just a unique state of bogon concentration. It has been postulated that when bogons are concentrated, they take on physical properties, causing inertia. Could these concentrated bogons be forming Governmentium? The scientists who can confirm this finding will be up for both Physics and Economics Nobels.

Next Right is a comer- McCray critiques Jonah's recycled Black History Month trashing for drifting into stereotype. When Jonah goes for the quick caricature, he often loses a lot of nuance. McCray's dead on, Jonah's like the girl with the curls; when he's good, he's very good, when he's bad, he's horrid. It's easy to give both barrels to the more-loony Afrocentrists and ignore the issue of an honestly-inclusive history. McCray points out that instead of having a month, we should fairly include blacks as part of history. If we stick with the standard, more geopolitical history of presidents, generals and captains of industry, blacks get little coverage until recently. Adding more cultural history, looking at the broader picture of "what was life like back then," will bring minorities and women more into the picture. The trick is to add this cultural history without it becoming a dumping ground of past repressions by white guys. The warts of bigotry don't need to be airbrushed or zoomed in on, but should be part of a greater portrait of where we've been.

Booster shot-Alabama's football program got banned from bowls for the next two years, and had 21 schollarships cut for the next three years. As a state without any major pro sports (in theory, the Tide got busted for boosters paying recruits under the table), Alabamans take their college football seriously. This will be a blow (unless you're a Auburn fan, then you can gloat) to their psyche. Or, shall I call the decision a real bear to take. I'd be interested in Little Sanity's take on this-he's from Bama if memory serves. He's been hors de combat since Monday-too much schoolwork?

SermonWatch- A lot of interesting things going on this week. Last night's Bible study was a good review of the past year for me. We were out at my other Friday night study, a single's study at Midland Evangelical Free Church. I'd been going to this group weekly until I started going to New Life Vineyard and their 2nd and 4th Friday young adults group; now we go to the E-Free study on the odd Fridays. Due to other things, we'd missed January totally and found them at the end of Ruth. They were covering chapter 4, where Boaz redeems Ruth, allowing the guy who's the closer relative of her late husband to pass on the opportunity. The Sunday School class at the Baptist church I was going to this time last year was covering Ruth; I was drawn to Ruth's godliness, and saw a lot of those same qualities in Eileen when I met her in March. This time, I could put myself in Boaz's place, the older (I'm spotting Eileen 11 years) guy falling for this immigrant from the south (Eileen's not a widow, though). The book is a example of godly courtship on both sides. Wednesday's presentation at church was fun and educational. Don, our host last Friday, did a very goodWalk Through the Bible-inspired graphical presentation of the Old Testament for both grade-schoolers and adults. Most of the items I already knew, but the one that was new to me was on I and II Chronicles; the books covers the stuff in Samuel and Kings, but from a sanitized Judean perspective (David is mentioned, but not Bathsheba). The Sunday sermon was on redemption. An emphasis was placed on allowing the Holy Spirit to break the cycle of dwelling on past sins, like a bad video of the mind that keeps replaying. Without reminding ourselves that the debt of sin has been paid in full (Colossians 2:14 use the metaphor of ripping up the debt note), we can dwell on those past sins. A good line was that "living sacrifices keep crawling off the alter" and that the Cross is needed to keep them pinned down. [ Fun note, was Nathan the first to say "You da man!"? I used that when we covered 2 Samuel 12 on a Wednesday night last year, I felt a bit sacrilegious, but the praise band leader had it out of her mouth a split second after I did when we were on verse 7]

Quip du jour-"A nerd is someone whose life revolves around computers and technology; a geek is someone whose life revolves around computers and technology and likes it that way."-anon. Edifier du jour: "I waited patiently for the LORD; he turned to me and heard my cry.He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear and put their trust in the LORD." Psalm 40:1-3

Friday, February 01, 2002

Promising Sign for Computer Geeks-AMD is trying to boost production by farming out some work to Taiwanese chipmaker United Microelectronics Corporation. AMD is the largest alternative to Intel in the computer chip market, but often struggles to make enough product. I sold a lot of AMD-based machines when I ran my computer store; a check with ubergeek site Tom's Hardware Guide shows that they are still making good products. Tom's gives good marks to the Duron 1300 as a better bargain computer bet versus the Celeron while Intel was outperforming AMD's higher-end systems. In lower-end systems, you can save a good chunk of change without sacrificing quality with an AMD-based system.

Zim Watch (as Airstrip One calls it)- Mugabe got his press castration act through, thus sealing his death warrant- when the people of Zimbabwe execute the warrant is another matter. I think its only a matter of time before a civil war of sorts breaks out, with Mugabe going the way of Ceausescu rather than Marcos or Milosevic.

End of an Era at the Jake-Long-time Indians center-fielder Kenny Lofton signed with the White Sox, and Holtsberry is in mourning. I'm an Indians fan from my Kent State days. Since the Tigers have stunk the last decade, I stayed an Indians fan even after returning to Michigan. This is a case of letting a player go at the right time. A week ago, Terry Pluto was signaling Lofton's departure by putting Matt Lawton in the leadoff spot, pointing out his better on-base percentage. The cadre of players that broke the Curse of Rocky Colavito is dwindling-only Jim Thome and Charles Nagy are left of the young core of the early 90s. I remember feeling a similar angst when the Cavs traded Mark Price, a good Christian guy. However, the inner GM said that Price was getting old and injury prone and the trade allowed Brandon to shine, getting Price out of the way a year too soon rather than a year too late. Kevin, let your inner GM tell your heart it's best for the Tribe in the long run. The White Sox got Lofton for only (yes, only) $1.25M, so he's not exactly a hot property. At least we got a good team to root for.

And I thought Glendenning was the stadium porkmeister- Like the Solentian Harpy, I snatch this Irish piece from Mr. Haney's grasp and gloat. Turns out Prime Minister Bertie Ahern had a billion dollar (1.1 billion Euro, I've not seen the funky E Euro sign before) Olympic-Park style sports complex in mind (nicknamed the Bertie Bowl) for metro Dublin and is being brought back to reality by cost overruns. Fianna Fail can screw up, too.

Next Right has this riff on the Democratic chances in 2004.

I also have a theory that members of Congress cannot get elected President, only Governors. Congress votes on too many things, and people vote for different reasons on a bill. A person can support the main idea of a bill, but be against the amendments attached to it. These things allow for a Congressional voting record to easily be used by an opponent. A Governor also has to show a better ability to create consensus, than a Senator does. A senator basically just has to "not mess up too badly", to get reelected. Who remembers what they voted for 5 years ago?

Sean McCray then notes that the Dems "have no governors" with Gray Davis being the best of a poor lot, with the Senate bunch (Clinton, Edwards, Daschle) not much more promising. Historically, you can fit presidential histories in three categories-Governors, Senators and War Heroes. You have to go back to Garfield to find a House member go straight to the presidency. However, we've had a run of governors or ex-governors for the last 25 years (Bush pere broke the trend) as Carter, Reagan, Clinton and Dubya were all governors. Before that, we had quite a few senators (Truman, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon) go to the White House. Senators get to vote on (and get attack ads mined from) a broader range of issues, while governors get to be chief executive of a smaller government. Senators don't get to show the leadership skills, while governors don't have a foreign policy component (the standard governor crack is that "their foreign policy experience comes from eating at the International House of Pancakes") to their job. Baseball pun- the Senators left town for Texas in the early 70s (ironically part-owned by Dubya for a while) and a senator hasn't been elected since then. Maybe the return of the Senators to Washington (the Expos are a candidate to be moved to DC if not eliminated outright) could signal a return of Senators to the White House.

History of the World-Parts II and III- - Douglas Turnbull is a bit nervous having me look over his shoulder as he continues his "Why did Europe become pre-eminent? " series. Here's parts one,two and three. Don't worry, we're all generalists at the core, making our best guesses at the world. Some of us have special patches of knowledge, but we're still working with a limited knowledge set. History is an interest of mine (I'm mostly self-taught) being the son of two History majors (my dad has a MA in History) and an avid reader of history as a kid. The first two pieces are solid, based on my modest understanding of that era of history. Part three starts to get into modern economics and finance, so I'll expound a bit on that era. I don't disagree with Turnbull's take (Econ is more applied common sense and psychology than anything); he's got intellectual game. I would make the case that the "Judeo-Christian" world-view of Europe was a catalyst of post-Middle-Age development. Having a single creator God meant that God made the universe with a large amount of order; a knowable God made a knowable universe, thus giving scientists confidence that their work would be fruitful. The Reformation and Counter-Reformation allowed people to take a new look at the Bible and the universe, allowing new ideas to flow, unlike more feudal areas of the world. Gentile bigotry also allowed a Jewish merchant class to develop. Jews were barred from farming and crafts and relegated to be merchants and bankers. This bigotry inadvertently enriched the Jews when economics moved to focus on just those areas. The curiosity stemming from the idea of a knowable universe created a cadre of explorers, checking out trade routes and less-understood areas of the world. Less curious Asians and Arabs stayed home for the most part ,although there's a little bit of history and archeology pointing to other visitors to the New World before Columbus or the Vikings. Thus, Europe got first dibs on the New World. Europe did exploit the material riches of the New World; you can take exploit in an economics sense (to utilize) or a Marxist sense (to take advantage of) and both are in parts true. European economies were able to use the resources better than the indigenous peoples and also crapped on the natives in the process. The resulting riches allowed the exploiting countries to develop faster. The early merchants were arbitrageurs, taking advantage of different prices in different places to make a profit. As transportation became easier and information about prices became more widespread, the profits in being middlemen dwindled, as Yonan’s Law of Arbitrage (“Free lunches are quickly devoured”) kicks in. Economics shifted to manufacturing when technology allowed for economies of size in factories. Modern corporate finance developed to raise the capital needed to build businesses larger than one guy could easily do on his own. Curiosity didn't kill the cat in this case, it sent the European cat around the world. Its spiritual descendents became the dominant powers of the world.

Is That a Saber Rattling or Are You Happy to See Us?- North Korea doesn't like being named as a member of the Axis of Evil (a new WWF tag team?) one bit, declaring Dubya's rhetoric "little short of declaring a war." Hey, we got their attention. Having teenage flashback over Risk games. The standard responce for someone putting massive reinforcements at your border was "Threat---of----war."

CHIPs for Cletus the Fetus- The HHS department sent abortion fans into low-earth orbit by declaring unborn children eligible for coverage under the more-generous CHIPs children's Medicaid program. This will allow states to give more "working-poor" pregnant mothers coverage without a mommy-may-I waiver from Washington. The abortion rights crowd doesn't like the move, looking at it as a move towards protecting the unborn and further discouraging abortion. The headline was borrowed from a comic strip in the CMU school newspaper in the early 80's, The Wacky Adventures of Cletus the Fetus, whose mom took one mind-altering drug too many, making Cletus self-aware and traveling the Astral Plane while in utero.

X-rays Show Spine in Jordan-King Abdullah is backing Israel's hard line on Yasser (that's my baby) Arafat. Abdullah's dad would have a clue on a regular (but not consistant) basis, and his son's showing some promise.

Was thinking about Kissinger this morning, and remember this cartoon my artistic lady-friend drew on my apartment white-board circa 1982. It had drawings of Ronzo Reagan, Hank Kissinger (who was heading, if memory serves, a CIA-critique-commission) and Electrifying Jimmy Watt-Title:” The Capital Gang-World Tour 1982" (well before CNN grabbed the title).

Osama, yo mamma- Check out this Instapundit shaggy dog on Osama's hereafter. A keeper.

Quip du jour-"God used Balaam's donkey to deliver a message; even today, He'll occasionally use an ass."-Mark Byron Edifier du jour "Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things." Philippians 4:8

Thursday, January 31, 2002

Japan Inc. in Chapter 11?- Kevin Holtsburry's Beauty of Gray link is working, and I've found an interesting writer in Douglas Turnbull. He's wondering what caused Japan's downfall: the central planning and protectionism, the overextention of debt or both? He is looking for "more than an interested layman's knowledge of this area." Stand back everyone, this is a job for (ta-da-ta-da) Finance Man! (1) Central planning works if you bet right. The MITI focus on automotive and consumer electronics went well up to the 90s, when other countries applied Japanese production techniques (tight quality control and just-in-time {kanban} inventory systems) with lower labor costs and beat them at their own game. The interesting thing is that those production techniques were American ideas. Edward Deming taught the Japanese production management after WWII, while the prevailing US idea of the era was to make things cheap and market the hell out of the product. (2) Cozy conglomerates- Big Finance in Japan is focused around semi-conglomerates called keiretsu, where a major bank will have a string of other companies it has a minority but controlling stake in and be a large lender to the companies in its circle. These companies will have many of the same directors on their boards. The resulting old-boy-network will be hesitant to be harsh on one of its own, as a bankruptcy in one could bring down the whole group, not to mention cause a friend to lose face. A large part of the banking problem is keiretsu-related. (Note, South Korean chaebol are similar to keiretsu and cause the same problems) (3) Localism- in both retail and farming, there is an emphasis on mom-and-pop small businesses. Small farmers were traditionally big LDP (Liberal Democrat) donors, who made sure imports were blocked. Localist laws allow small retailers to have effective vetoes on category-killers opening up in their neighborhoods. This creates inefficiencies in the Japanese economy. (4) Collectivism- Individuality isn't a strong suit of Japanese culture. Decision-making by consensus is a Japanese trait; it takes them forever (by American standards) to make a decision, but the decision is usually well-hacked and ready to roll, whereas American decisions may be quicker but buggier and needing revision along the way. An unwillingness to rock the boat ("the nail that sticks up gets hammered" is a common proverb) may result in unproductive groupthink. I think these four concepts, plus a possible ethnocentrism resisting further westernization, have combined to slow down the Japanese economy. Political reform is slow in coming, as the LDP, though weakened, still is the cornerstone of Japanese politics. The recovery may be long in coming.

She Saw Her Poll Numbers?- Fainting wasn't the Kodak Moment Janet Reno had in mind, as she was hospitalized after becoming weak during a speech at the University of Rochester last night. This might allow her to opt out of the race, just as cancer gave Rudy an out in a problematic Senate race. She's double-digits behind Jeb Bush, and I think the idea of her as a candidate will be better than the reality. Unless they get Senator (and Former Gov.) Bob Graham to run, the Democrats will be toasted by Jeb in November.

Ultimate Left-handed Complement-"It's Better than a Packard Bell"- The EU approved the Compaq-Hewlet Packard merger. The anti-competitive effect on the merger aren't that big. HP's retail computer line is rather lame, while their workstation and server line is solid and their printer and scanner lines are top-of-the line. Getting out of the retail computer area and letting Compaq, which makes better (but still closed architecture) retail computers handle that end of the market would make since. When I ran a computer store, we weren't impressed with HP or Compaq computers, as they were designed to be replaced rather than upgraded. They were better manufactured than Packard Bell (techs got combat pay for them) or Acer, but that ranks up with "runs well for a catcher." Dell and Gateway have more open architecture, allowing for changes in video card, sound card and motherboard without replacing the whole machine. I think HP got a lemon of a partner in Compaq. Side point, naming changeover in Houston- will they have the HP Center for the Rockets and Creditors Committee Field for the Astros?

Eye's a-callin' you out, Kim. You shure look yeller- Mr. Slotman at the IRB is debating what to do with North Korea, whether it is better to help them, avoiding a cornered-animal response, or to let them stew in their own natural juices until the Dear Leader is shown the door. This Asian Times piece that Justin cites mentions a below-the-radar item: large refugee movements from North Korea into China. I did hear that story on NPR a few months back (their international coverage makes the [expletive-deleted] domestic coverage bearable). The Cold Warrior in me says to crank that crock-pot up to high and keep the lid on. In addition, the realpolitik side says that rewarding people for saber rattling only encourages goonishness; paying them to not develop nukes and nuke-bearing ICBMs sounds more like blackmail than foreign aid. Unlike Cuba, whose global influence went down the tubes when their Soviet sugar daddy went bye-bye, North Korea is still a player. We need to err on the side of containing North Korea. It is hard to see famine and not do something. The Cold Warrior in me cringed when I saw Assemblies of God aid workers sending food over there, indirectly helping out one of the most thuggish regimes on the planet. The compassionate side approved, but that realpolitik side wondered if the greater good, for North Korea and the rest of the planet, was to keep the screws on Pyongyang. Sanctions on Cuba were done so that the Russians had to give more help to prop up Castro, thus giving the USSR less money to do mischief elsewhere. We can afford to take a second look at Cuba and ask, "What is in the best interest of Cubans?” since Castro's days as a global player are all-but-over. However, North Korea, despite their poverty, is still a player, and the poor citizens of the PDRK will have to take it in the neck because of it. As a teenager, I remember wanting a foreign policy that had the peacemaker's heart of Jimmy Carter coupled with the realpolitik of Henry Kissinger. Those two are having at it in my mind over North Korea, and Hank's winning for now.

Good News-Got Califonia done over at Blogistan Political Journal. Bad news-the Democrats did a sanitized gerrymander. There won't be much to watch other than the govenor's race in November. The 32-20 Democratic advantage in the House will likely go to 33-20, with Democrats picking up the open 39th and Republicans winning the new 21st. The only interesting races will be primaries; in the 18th, where Gary Condit faces off against state assemblyman Dennis Cardoza in a Latinified district, while 47th district Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez's sister Linda tries to win a tight three-way Democratic primary in the 39th.

Interesting discussion over "continental defense" in the National Post, as Canadian Defence Minister Eggleton was plugging for a joint US-Canadian defense perimeter. That's nice and makes common sense, but the touchy issue will be to have a common immigration perimeter. The US and Canada have very porous borders. If we can have a mutually agreeable immigration and customs policy for people coming from outside the two countries, we can have the "Whereya from? Whereya goin'? How longya stayin'? Have a nice trip" customs check I've grown accustomed to without sacrificing security. That will be hard for the Canadians to swallow, but it beats the economic friction of a full-blown customs check at the border for every-day traffic.

Nice little snow day-- Get to blog from home on a weekday-a nasty ice/snow storm has hit lower Michigan. All the schools in the area are closed, thus my commute to Flint is rather problematic. I put in a 10-hour day yesterday getting a end-of-month report on my boss' desk just in case; looks like I planned wisely. I'll spend the morning at home until the roads get plowed enough to travel safely.

Quip Du Jour-"If this is the ultimate game, then why are they playing it next year?"-Duane Thomas, pre-1972 Super Bowl Edifier du Jour:"For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father also will forgive you; but if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses." Matthew 6:14-15 (not easy to do when you've had a hard day and other people's mistakes aren't helping)

Wednesday, January 30, 2002

Instipundit makes the case that the ever-popular Commerce Clause of the Constitution might not be useable to ban cloning. Use of the clause has been shot down by the Supreme Court in a number of cases where there wasn't significant interstate commerce in the thing being legislated, such as banning the possession of guns near schools. However, here's the beginning of Article 1, Section 8 (italics added) of the Constitution

The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defense and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;

If cloning is a bad thing for the country, could we use the "general welfare" clause to ban it? It's one heck of a stretch and I don't like the precedent (since you can fit nearly anything under that tent), but that might work, unless past Supreme Court rulings shoot down such loose applications of "general welfare."

Getting My Irish (political knowledge) Up-Spent some time today getting somewhat of a handle on Irish politics, it's interesting. The James Reuben Haney links are useful, as was more official links. Ireland has an election coming up this spring. Like Britain and Canada, the constitution mandates an election every five years or less and the last election was July 1997. May 9th is mentioned as a likely date. The lower house is elected on a proportional basic in 3-5 seat Constituencies. Let’s see if I get Irish politics-the current ruling party is the conservative Fianna Fail party, ruling in coalition with the more libertarian-leaning (at least less Catholic) Progressive Democrats. Fianna Fail leader Bertie Ahern is the Prime Minister or Taoiseach. On the right, this reminds me of the Christian Democrat/Free Democrat coalition commonly seen in Germany. The left is more splintered than in Germany- The main center-left party is Fine Gael, whose poll numbers are dwindling, losing ground to the Labor, Greens and Sinn Fein (the IRA socialist party). The fear that many Fine Gael voters have is that Sinn Fein might get enough seats to make a center-left government impossible without them; if Fianna Fail and Sinn Fein make up a majority, and Sinn Fein is persona-non-grata, then Fianna Fail would have to be in the government. This would then make Irish politics look like Cold-War era Italian politics, with a Christian Democrats forming coalitions with everyone but the Communists, staying in power for all of the post WWII era until the disintegration of the party in the early 90’s. [Correction 1/31-I had the Labor party as a desendant of the old Sinn Fein-it's the Worker's party that was old Sinn Fein-thank JRH for the correction. This is a bit "ahistoric", since I just boned up on the current stuff for now] If you see Haney trashing Noonan, he’s not going after Peggy, but Fine Gael leader Michael Noonan. Noonan seems to be pandering to various coalition partners, with many people fearing that they might consider supping with Sinn Fein. The Web sites of the two parties seem telling, with a more confident Fianna Fail site contrasting with the position-paper neolib Fine Gael site. Fine Gael seems to remind me too much of American "New Democrats"; they're not sure whether to be socialists or free-marketeers, somewhat morally traditional but afraid to be moralistic. One doesn't lead by position-paper, and that seems to be what Fine Gael seems to be doing. For more secular free marketeers, like JRH, the seeming implosion of Fine Gael leaves them with the small Progressive Democrats or holding their nose and voting Fianna Fail.

Only 9% of Americans are Hard-Core Evangelical?- That's the result of a Barna Reseach ( a Christian polling group) study that Relapsed Catholic provided the link to. There's a lot of food for thought in this report. I'll have a longer piece on it in the near future, either tonight or tomorrow-can't do it justice in a work-day blog.

Add James Reuben Haney to the link list-he was my first fan letter, and has a solid blog. I'll need to read a quick tutoral on Irish politics (Republic of, not Northern, a blind spot for me, figuring out what the heck Fianna Fail and Fine Gael stand for in theory) and re-read his latest sequence on the subject. Good quick-n-dirty on the State of the Union. He may get paid for writing in the not-to-distant future.

This could get ugly- The World Economic Forum is heading to New York tomorrow, followed by the usual mix of the Luddite Left and other assorted anarchosocalists. I'm getting the feeling that the NYPD could be in a clobberin' mood if the protesters get ugly, taking out their frustrations at al Qaeda on these domestic anti-establishmentarians. This may be the acid test of Mayor Bloomberg. If he can get out of the weekend looking Rudyesque, he'll have a sucessful term.

Pity. The bogometer was already pinned- US GDP sneaked out a 0.2% annual growth rate in the fourth quarter of 2001. If that number holds (that close to zero, it could get tweaked into the negative) we've gotten out of the recession.

Sorry, that pinned the bogometer-The two big Canadian finance leaders, Treasury minister ( and heir apparent to PM Chretien) Paul Martin and Bank of Canada chief David Dodge are on a PR offensive in the Big Apple, telling "a Wall Street audience that Canada could emerge from its downturn ahead of the United States." Yeah, if New York, Chicago and LA get nuked, maybe. Talk of modest privatization of health care makes everyone quiver up north, and they're thinking they've got their act together? As the Loonie dives into the Marianas, the Liberal spin provides a increasingly-concentrated level of BS.

Its Demise Was Greatly Exagerated - The Kolkata Libertarian has this interesting post-

Paul Cantor in a Reason Magazine interview says: terrorism may be one sign of the end of the nation-state.. Exactly..! A nation state is a response to political and military threats from other nation states. A terrorist networks primary target is usually the economic infrastructure of a nation state or state(s) it despises. In the short term, the response to this threat is coming from a conglomerate of nation states bound by similar economic objectives, not political ones. Otherwise a coalition of the US, Europe, Russia, Pakistan, India and the dozens of other politically disparate nations would never have survived. It is not unreasonable to imagine a slow crumbling of nation-state boundaries giving way to an economic organism better equipped to deal with the threats to its survival

I'll politely disagree. What is happening is governmental ad hocracy, where problems are (hopefully) met at the right level with the right set of tools. Fighting terrorist might be a global endeavor requiring cooperation between dozens of governments, using smaller-scaled, more expeditionary armies. There are trends towards economic integration but also trends towards more autonomy in local decision-making, with regional governments getting more authority in many places (the EU being a key exception). The nation-state may have more agreements with other nation-states and may, in some diverse areas, splinter into more homogeneous segments; I don't see it going away into either some vast world government (unless we are truly in the End Times) or split into anarchy.

Quip du jour-"Beauty is in the heart of the beholder"-last night's fortune cookie Edifier du jour: "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law." Galatians 5:22-23 Groaner du jour-Gal dumps her guy at Chinese restaurant; "Parting is such sweet-and-sour" Daffynition-"Peking Duck"-PRC response mechanism to human rights questions.

Tuesday, January 29, 2002

A Little Privacy-The parents of a MIT student who commited suicide are suing, partly on the grounds that "...MIT officials should have notified them of their daughter's worsening mental health" Last I checked, medical records are confidential for adults; I know of no law that mandates doctors notify the parents of an adult patient. In fact, the doctors would be up on breach-of-privacy charges if they did notify they young lady's (age 19-an adult by law) parents. This fact isn't mentioned very high in any of the pieces I have seen or heard on this case.

Blogger on the Airwaves- Heard James Lileks on Todd Mundt's show this afternoon, talking about Jello recipies with his tongue so deep in his cheek he should have been gagging. I thought I had posted this at the time it aired about 1:40 EST, but it went into the bit bucket as I tried to squeeze off a post on the intern's computer.

I don't follow boxing too closely (I don't like the part of me that likes it), but I was pleased by Nevada's decision not to grant Mike Tyson a license. He need a stay in the psych wing more than he needs a boxing license.

Good day. My computers at work got fixed late in the day, took Eileen out to dinner for her birthday, watched the Pistons win a squeaker over the Team Formerly Known as the Bullets and have Dubya on the computer headphones doing the State of the Union even as I type. Yes, a good day.

May be a slow blogging day, the computers are ganging up on me. Lead computer in my office is non-functional, second computer (which I use when first is down or consultant uses when she's in) found Mr. Funluv Virus to the point that IS will have to take a whack at it. I'm exiled to the intern's room for now. I do need my mind transformed this morning, cause I was in a [explative-deleted] mood when I left yesterday.

Quip du jour-"To err is human-to really screw things up, you need a computer"-Anon. Edifier du jour-"Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--his good, pleasing and perfect will" Romans 12:2 Daffinition-"Paradox"- A Dog's Life and I.

Monday, January 28, 2002

Interesting point from Suman Palit over at our new fave Kolkata Libertarian- I had heard that the Indians had committed to a referendum in Kashmir-detail that Palit gives is that the UN commission planning the referendum in '48 planned to have Pakistan withdraw first, then India would leave its part of Kashmir to set up a neutral atmosphere. Granted, this guy is Indian, but he has a good point I haven't seen until now

New to the PermaLink Wall of Fame-Amy Wellborn , and the Kolkata (Calcutta to us Westerners) Libertarian. Another good site I saw just today is Jason Steffans' News for Christians, much like Relapsed Catholic but from a more evangelical perspective. He's a contenda for the wall of fame.

"Do you like Glendening?" "I don't know, I've never glendenned."- The Maryland governor just got himself a trophy wife, Jennifer Crawford, his 35-year-old former deputy chief of staff, two months after divorcing his wife. One more reason not to like the guy, a dislike stemming from his heist of the Cleveland Browns 1.0 and his being a generic liberal.

"It All Was Built by the Lowest Bidder"- That was the pre-Challanger cartoon thought of an astronaut at the launch-pad. It's more prophetic than funny now. The Challanger tragedy was 16 years ago. We're still stuck with the shuttle as the only way off the planet in the US bag of tricks. We need a bigger bag; I'm looking foward to a cheaper, more common way to get into orbit (other than reading a Bob Herbert piece) and it always seems five years away.

Interesting piece in the NYT on the effects of marijuana. This part of the piece is very troubling.

Dr. Rachel Wilson, a researcher at Caltech, discovered when she was at the University of California at San Francisco that endocannabinoids played an important role in the hippocampus, a part of the brain involved in learning and memory, according to a report published this spring in Nature. No one has figured out exactly how endocannabinoids are used in the hippocampus, but based on the abundance of cannabinoid receptors in this part of the brain and on the experiences of marijuana users, Dr. Wilson suspects that these molecules help lay down new memories by strengthening the connections between nerve cells. But when the brain is flooded with cannabinoids through marijuana use, forgetfulness results, Dr. Wilson said. It is probably a case of too much of a good thing, she added. When cannabinoids are abundant, every experience becomes strongly linked in our minds, she believes. But when everything is marked for memory, the system is overwhelmed and nothing is remembered.

Could this confirm the stereotype of the spacey pothead? I was leaning towards allowing medicinal pot in tightly controlled settings as an anti-nausea drug, but this leans me away.

Fox is running this AP piece on a "Today's New International Version" of the Bible due out this spring, with more gender-neutral language. The 1978 NIV is now the standard Bible in most evangelical churches, with the New American Standard having some fans as well. The NAS leans more towards a word-for-word translation, while the NIV leans more for an idea-for-idea translation. I'm going to hold my fire on the Today's NIV until I see what they are changing. For instance, the Romans 8:15-16 comes out of the NAS, while the NIV had a "spirit of sonship" rather than a "spirit of adoption." This both gender-neuters the phrase and stresses that we are adopted children of God. I don't read Greek, but this seems to be a better translation for the point I was looking to make last night. If the original Greek or Hebrew used a gender-neutral word, translating it that way makes sense. If there are words that are gender specific that get changed in this Today's NIV, then they have stepped over a line and will have some problems on their hands. One thing to keep in mind is that tradition plays a big role in how people see new Bible versions. If you grew up reading King James, the other translations will sound funny and "unbiblical." I cut my spiritual teeth on the "old" NIV, so I will look very carefully at that this new translation does. Another issue to ponder is Harper Collins, who now owns Zondervan. Could Harper Collins execs be putting a feminist spin on the Bible to gain favor with the liberals? I'd have to see the actual text first before making that claim, but it wouldn't be the first time that a secular business screwed up after buying a Christian media outlet. Time Warner has had problems managing Word records after buying it.

More Annoying Ads at New Republic?- It looks likely as owner-editor-in-chief Martin Peretz has sold a majority interest to two more-conservative investors while staying on as editor-in-chief. You could increase web revinue without changing content by adding more ads, improving graphics and playing up the cultural content of the magazine, so expect to see that in the near future.

They call me Dr. Tibbs- A stab at Little Sanity's comment on the Grey Lady's inconsistancy with "Dr. West and Mr. Summers." since Lawrence Summers has an earned Ph.D. in Econ, if memory serves. In the political sphere, it's not typical to call a Ph.D. "Dr. Smith." People like Bill Bennett, Ralph Reed, Phil and Wendy Gramm, Newt Gingrich, Lynne Cheney all have earned doctorates, yet the Second Lady's not called "Dr. Cheney" or the former Speaker "Dr Gingrich." I could have easily slipped into that pattern if I were writing on l'affair West, thinking of Summers as a politician from his Treasury days. Give the NYT a bit of slack on this one, saving our blogfire for when they really deserve it.

Quip du Jour-"A scientist knows more and more about less and less till he knows everything about nothing while a philosopher knows less and less about more and more till he knows nothing about everything. "-Charles De Saint-Evremond Edifier Du Jour- "For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, "" Abba! Father!'' The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God" Romans 8:15-16 Groaner du Jour- Piano-playing dog-his Bach was worse than his bite. Daffynition-"Toulouse-Lautrec"-Cause of the latest TGV crash

Sunday, January 27, 2002

Interesting piece by John Miller in The Corner, giving modest praise to Kwame Anthony Appiah, the Harvard Afro Studies prof who's heading to Princeton. Miller asked Appiah

"What single book on Africa or the African-American experience should every high-school student read before graduation, and why?" Appiah recommended Things Fall Apart, by Chinua Achebe. Here's what he wrote: "Achebe's novel is the most widely taught and read book in African secondary schools. By reading it, American children would certainly gain something in common with African children."

Good choice. I read Things Fall Apart in a Third World Lit (back when there were three worlds) class in high school. It was an interesting book looking at the intersection of traditional Nigerian(?) culture and Western culture and religion. That and Cry the Beloved Country were the two books I remember from that class nearly a quarter-century ago.

Fox News-Two Weeks Behind the Times- Fox News ran a piece on buggery in Kanduhar. The Times of London had the same piece two weeks ago.

Female Suicide Bombers? I'm still not sure what to think at this point, other than you can stick a fork in what's left of the "peace process"-it's not just done, it's crispy critters. Char-coal. Hasta-la-bye-bye. With the US all-but-ready to tell Yasser where to stick it, you can expect Israel to (1) pick the boundary it wants to defend, (2) make sure there is a minimum of Palestinians on the Israeli side of the line and (3) build a really big wall around the boundary. This will tick off the Arab world, but they will do little to stop it. This will be an u-g-h-l-y, Ugh-ly year, with a lot of blood spilled, but this will be what Israel needs to do to get to shalom.

Busy day, caught the last 8 minutes of the Rams/Eagles after our church "Friends Group" was done. It was a bit nervous for me, since I was leading the devotional for a group that included our new administrative pastor and the music minister. It went very well, as I put my blogging aside this morning to do some prepping, and was pointed to the first part of Romans 8. I never had to reach for my notes, as good questions flowed and conversation was sparked without much help from me. The Holy Spirit ran the study better than I would have. I'm happy for Dave, our host tonight and new admin pastor. He's seems straight from central casting for the 40ish church elder, humble yet earnest, looking like (in a good way) Ollie North's kid brother. He's a smart computer programmer/administrator who left his job with a computer services firm when they wanted him to be more ruthless than he was willing to be. God blessed him with this position in the church, as staffing shifts opened up a position tailor-made for him just as he was set to leave his old job.

We Are the Commonwealth- Paul McCartney, Mick Jagger and Phil Collins are shed-yooled to perform as a trio at Queen Elizabeth's 50th anniversary of coming to the throne. This might make the Golden Jubilee bigger than the World Cup to Brits.

Giving Ambulance Chasers a Good Name- The Rev-run Jackson's heading to Houston to do his thang for the little guys at Enron. Is there a political issue that he can't stay away from? He is the political verson of the parachuting anchor, where he drops in for a photo op at any locale that he can spin for his sociali-er-progressive cause. No ad homs, Mark.No ad homs. Going to church now.

Quip du jour-"He's never run anything except his mouth"-Coleman Young speaking of Jesse Jackson, 1988 ( a bit too old to Google-confirm) Edifier du jour-"It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.But go and learn what this means: `I desire mercy, not sacrifice.' For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners." Matthew 9:12-13 Groaner du jour-"Having a mental image helps-to remember Robert Burns, think of an English cop in flames, Bobby Burns" "But sir, how can I tell it's not Robert Browning?" (irony when I told this to Eileen; her mom's best buddy is nice lady named Bobbie Burns) Daffynition-"Tennyson"- Andre and Steffi's baby

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