Saturday, February 23, 2002

From Goo to You By Way of the Zoo-part III-Thermodynamics and Open Systems-Hokie Pundit has passed on a challange from David Tepper over at "Wake Me Up on Judgement Day." He says
I refuse to even debate creationists anymore unless they fully understand the Second Law of Thermodynamics (it only applies to closed systems, which the Earth is not) and understand both steps of evolutionary theory: random mutation coupled with non-random selection. I've saved a lot of money on Tylenol that way.
Well, Tepper only wants to talk to fellow scientists, depending on how full an understanding of thermodynamics he wants. Excuse me while I scrape a quarter-century of rust off of my high school chemistry and physics. True, I keep up on current events in science, but only from an informed layman perspective, this is something you don’t get on the Discovery Channel. It looks like the Hokie Pundit and I must have had the same Google search, pointing to this Frank Lamber site, secondlaw.com. I gave the companion site, 2ndlaw.com, a quick read over that might fall short of “fully understanding” but enough to play the game with his card deck. The key concept from the Second Law is entropy; energy wants to be free and spread out. The secular end-times version of entropy is that things will get more and more spread-out and less energetic until the universe cools into a just-above zero Kelvin slush of dead particles. The reality is a bit different. Over time, energy will tend to disperse unless steps are taken to contain it. However, complex compounds, which are more stable, are created in a counter-intuitive part of the law. These compounds will have energy spill off (thus maintaining the entropic slant) as a side effect of their creation. Lamber then points out that complex chemical compounds are created naturally and don’t need any outside agency to organize them, thus making the complex combinations of hydrocarbons called DNA feasible without God calling the shots. Now, to give an once-over on mutations-sometime genes get changed/mutated from parent to child. Usually, this is bad, as the change will take away some feature and thus will be detrimental. Sometimes, this is good, if the change creates an advantage for the individual. The giraffe’s neck is an oft-cited example, as the longer neck will allow it to get at leaves that shorter-necked giraffe’s can’t reach and thus being better able to feed during dry spells or overpopulation. Species can pick up traits from this evolutionary selection, the ones with the good mutations have more kids and thus the species will pick up the beneficial mutation. This is where a different breed of creationist makes their argument. They will grant the microevolution of the giraffe's neck, but question the macroevolution that will create daisies, goldfish, giraffes and man all by random mutation. Speciation is the $10 word in this area, the idea that macroevolution will create different species. Bryan Preston over at Junkyard Blog has a good sequence going on speciation. I'll say, "Adios, amoebas" and let you read it, come back when you're done. This spins into the Intelligent Design theory that is an issue these days, which posits that life is too complex to have happened by dumb luck. Granted, complex molecules can form on their own, but did these complex set of molecules that are plugging away at this keyboard form on their own without some extra-universal influence? If the universe is a closed system, we're left with no choice but to accept a evolutionist argument. If the universe is a open system, other options are available. There are evolutionary processes in an open system, but an open system also allows for an outside agent to arrange the system to promote the creation of life. If you want to avoid God, you can place your faith in the Second Law's ability to conjure up the needed molecules. It could happen, and if God ain't an option, it must have happened. If the universe is a closed system, then evolution is your only option. Star Trek had a progenitor species that, as they were dying as a race, placed DNA that would produce the humanoids that we've come to know and love. One problem: where did the progenitors come from? The question that I want to address is-“Is the universe a closed system?” A Lamber catch phrase is "system+surrondings"; to me, God is the surroundings. My faith points to a creator God who is outside the system of our physical universe but interacts with it. You can’t go to Alpha Centuri, hang a right for three parsecs and find heaven. I’m open to a concept of the days in Genesis 1 being eras, as Bryan Preston elucidates on here, but I think God had more of a hand in things that just being the first cause of the Big Bang. The naturalist's sequence of events go in roughly the same order as Genesis 1. As a kid, I looked at Genesis 1 and evolution theory taught in biology class and had few problems with it. Evolution looked at how things happen, Genesis look at who made it happened. My problem with evolution doesn't come from Genesis 1, it's Genesis 2-11 that are the problems. From Genesis 12 (Abraham) on, you're on solid historical and archeological footing; it's at worst a good period piece. Meshing Adam, Eve and Noah into a evolutionist's argument is problematic, and I'm still working on that. More on that tomorrow.

This WSJ article fleshes out a hot-button issue in Episcopal circles-a move by more conservative churches to report to, and gain powers of ordination from, more conservative Anglican/Episcopal churches elsewhere. It doesn't bode well for the American Episcopal church when many of their most devout members look elsewhere for guidance. This isn't the first time I've heard of this trend, but the piece puts a human face on the issue.

"Don't ya love the smell of fresh meat on the barbie?"- Looks like Australian Gov. Gen. Hollingworth's roasting slowly on a spit over some ill-chosen comments on a teenage victim of priestly sexual abuse, coupled with a further investigation (reminding me of the Catholic pedophile flap in Boston) of Hollingworth's handling of child abuse cases while Anglican Archbishop of Brisbane. Things have gotten worse since I looked in Thursday. He's been asked to cancel appearances, has been forced off honorary boards positions on two children's charities and is being criticized by the Prime Minister. I'll post the morning line (well, it's late tonight in Oz) that he'll be gone by Wednesday. This kind of heat in past scandals has the roastee looking stoic and trying to go about his daily business for a few days, then even his allies tell him that it's time to go. A few days later, the roastee gives a speech, wiping tears away, saying how it was a honor to serve but that, under present circumstances, it is time for him to step aside for the good of my boss and the people. That speech should come sometime next week.

Cute Jerusalem Post Cartoon
"Why can't Europe see the evil of PLO terror?" "It's because they wear special blinders." "Special blinders?" "Yep. It's called the Media."
This has the makings of a generic cartoon, change heading to "Why can't [the public in question] see [the issue in question]." and recycle numerous times.

Quip du jour-"Columbia has two important exports, and one of them's coffee" Archvillan Ross Webster in Superman III (and the FARC are in charge of the other one) Edifier du jour-"If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples.Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." John 8:31-32

Friday, February 22, 2002

Civil War in Columbia Reignites-The Colombian army has launched an offensive against the FARC a today, after the FARC kidnapped a senator and hijacked an airplane. US law prohibits giving military aid to Columbia, but anti-drug money is used to try and contain the FARC, who finance themselves largely by drugs. If there's a potential Vietnam swamp (we're retired the Q-word), Columbia would be it. US help might be called for, but it would be heavy sledding through Congress if Bush wanted to directly help. This is one that is unlikely to go away anytime soon.

Interesting WashTimes piece on Franklin Graham. In the last year or so, he has seem to come into his own as opposed to being just Billy's kid. Two bones to pick- the "Family Business" is a lousy title, especially when Billy ran the thing in an unexploitive manner. Many lesser evangelists have more extravagant lifestyles. The second is at Franklin's dislike of "crusade" to describe his dad's evangelistic efforts, preferring "festival." Festival would have worked on that Saturday night at the old Dawgpound in Cleveland in the mid 90's where DC Talk and Michael W. Smith opened for him; otherwise, the classic crusade term would ring truer. I don't think Franklin will take over as Mr. Evangelical when his dad dies. Luis Palau would be a equally likely heir to the Graham mantle, having many Grahamesque crusades in Latin America and becoming a player in the US evangelical scene as the millenium turned. There may be some rednecks who won't be accepting of an Argentinean guy as a preacher, but I heard him preach in Akron a decade ago, before he had a wide-spread US radio ministry, and saw a similar godly humility coupled with a forceful presence that Billy Graham has.

Nuking Baghdad is an Option-John Bolton, the State Department's arms control chief, said that the US has dropped its long-standing policy against the use of nuclear weapons against non-nuclear countries. It's unlikely that they would be used, but the idea that we could might give Saddam some sleepless nights. Just before posting this, I spotted Beauty of Gray's take: the nukes could be used either to respond to a biological or chemical attack, or on a tactical level to root out key hardened targets. Good analysis.

Rolf and Earl orders would be apprapos-Here's the Fox piece on the Cremoragate case
A third site of dumped bodies was discovered near a crematory where hundreds of corpses have been found, a medical examiner said at a news conference before he was interrupted by a newly imposed gag order. Walker County District Attorney Buzz Franklin rushed into the news conference Thursday to distribute copies of the gag order just as Georgia state medical examiner Dr. Kris Sperry was talking about the discovery of more corpses at Tri-State Crematory.
No, I think they'll gag without any orders.

Haney's Inappropriate Response-Would I drop if you if you droped some blue verbiage at Scott Harshbarger? No. There are some times when a few choice Anglo-Saxon words are, while not edifying, understandable. I keep Damian Penny linked despite the occasional F-bomb. Harshbarger seems to have more than an F-bomb coming. A daisy-cutter would be appropriate if it weren’t for the collateral damage. BTW- I do think Swift is a goner. Carla Howard, the Libertarian candidate, might outpoll Swift if things play out right.

Sharon's Maginot Line?-That's Banana Counting Monkey's question after Sharon's speech yesterday. That begs the analogy of Palestinian Panzers going around through Belgium (Egypt?, Lebanon?). A more apt analogy would be the "fifth column" of Palestinians ("Israeli Arabs") inside Israel. Still, this will make stopping armed Palestinian militias from attacking inside the wall easier if you can disrupt the supply lines of the intifadists. BCN's correct in looking to the USS Clueless, or other military buffs like Beauty of Gray or the Sarge, to lay down blogfire and clarify the subject.

Musharraf channels Berlusconi-Pakistani president Musharraf ripped the Islamic world for "living in darkness" at a Islamic nations science conference, declaring that scientific modernization was "the real jihad." A few more of these and he may be up to the "21st-Century Ataturk" label.

Canada, Stop Feeling Inferior!-The Canadian Ladies (these ones are clothed, not Bare Naked) won hockey gold last night, and the guys are in position to do no worse than silver, getting upstart Belarus in their semi.

What happened to the Tar Heals?- Didn't get to post on this yesterday, but was stunned to see Ohio U (not Ohio State, MAC Ohio U) whupping North Carolina at the Dean Dome. UNC Wilmington and Greensboro have a better Sagarin rating than UNC Chapel Hill.

Africa's Miracle Max?-Relapsed Catholic links to the Charisma News article of a Nigerian man who was legally dead being revived at a Reinhard Bonnke crusade. It wouldn't be the first time. Bonnke doesn't seem to be bonkers; he has a decades-long track record of his southern African crusades being a magnet for positive supernatural occurrences, including other reviving-the-dead stories like the "modern day Lazarus" in Nigeria. Yes, there are charletans who fake healings, but Bonnke seems to be the real deal, from what I've seen and heard over the years.

Quip du jour-"The 'love that dare not speak its name' can't keep its mouth shut these days"-anon Edifier du jour-"The Bible does not need to be shaped to accord with my sensibilities. I need to accord my sensibilities with the Bible."-Jason Steffens

Thursday, February 21, 2002

Good Fences Make Good Neighbors-Israeli PM Sharon put forth a plan earlier this evening for buffer zones for "security separation." Sharon's stance is that any peace treaty would have to have a non-belligerent Palestinians and a demilitarized PA as necessary points. It won't win points with the EUnuchs, but its looks like the proper thing to do for now.

First Lincoln, now the Log Cabin Guys?-After giving me an assignment to defend Lincoln, Kevin's assigned me to make a Biblical take on homosexuality earlier this evening. He's responding to a Ted Barlow piece where Barlow says
Homosexuality is never mentioned by Jesus. It's not in the Ten Commandments. As far as I can tell, the Biblical justification for condemning homosexuality comes from an ambiguous story of Sodom and Gomorrah, and from the same set of rules that are commonly judged to be part of the old covenant. It seems to me that homosexuality is singled out by much of Christian theology, and I don't understand it.
The Old Testament does include that Sodom story (Genesis 19:4-11) where two angles visit Lot and the men of Sodom want to have sex with them. The angels proceed to blind the men in question. However, Leviticus spells it out clearly-here are the two key passages.
Leviticus 18:22-"Do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman; that is detestable." Leviticus 20:13-"If a man lies with a man as one lies with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They must be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads."
Homosexuality was a capital offence in the Levitical law. True, none of the Gospels has Jesus commenting on homosexuality, but Paul's not bashful about the subject.
Romans 1:22-32 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles. Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator--who is forever praised. Amen. Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion. Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done. They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Although they know God's righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.
Some homosexual backers will try to say that the "indecent acts" were a particular type of homosexual behavior and that the passage doesn't condemn it outright; that is some of the lamest exegesis on record.
I Corinthians 6:9-10-Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.
The homosexual has to do a dance around this one. The New American Standard (usually a better word-for-word translation; the NIV goes more for a thought-for-thought), goes for "homosexual" rather than "homosexual offenders" at the end of verse 9.
I Timothy 1: 8-11(NASB) But we know that the Law is good, if one uses it lawfully, realizing the fact that law is not made for a righteous person, but for those who are lawless and rebellious, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers and immoral men and homosexuals and kidnappers and liars and perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound teaching, according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, with which I have been entrusted..
The NIV has "perverts" instead of "homosexuals." Let's review (1) While not part of the Ten Commandments, homosexual activity is a capital offence in the Levitical code (2) On three separate occasions, Paul includes homosexual behavior as sinful. If one wants to take their Bible a la carte, and throw out the politically incorrect stuff, you can throw out the five passages I mentioned above. However, if you're trying to take the Bible at face value, you have to have some of the most twisted exegesis in recorded history to justify a pro-homosexual stance. I don't know Greek, but those who do point out that trying to make Paul's writings neutral on the issue doesn't hunt.

Is that why the birth rate is declining in Europe?- Banana Counting Monkey pointed out a goodie from Best of the Web yesterday. "Javier Solana, the European Union's foreign-policy chief, is calling on his fellow EUnuchs to treat America with more respect." I had been using the term "Euroweenie" for that archetype. Do not go there! Would that make Neville Chamberlain the Munich EUnuch?

From Goo to You By Way of the Zoo, Part Deux- Plenty of bloggage on this one. Louder Fenn has a part three, a more comprehensive defense of his creationist stance. My synopsis: creationists will look to Genesis for answers and evolutionists will look to nature for answers. Both will try to make the incoming facts conform to their world-view. The Junkyard Blog has a very reasoned reply to the original rants, pointing out the flaws in macroevolution. This morning, he added another post looking at evolution in amoebas, the best example that was thrown JB's way. I missed Beauty of Gray's pro-evolution post yesterday, which got JB going on his rounds. A decent one pager from the other side.

Boston with Koalas?-Aussie Governor General Peter Hollingworth's is in hot water, as a review of his handling of child abuse cases as Anglican Archbishop of Brisbane has caused some heat. A verbal slip on Monday that made light of a priest's affair with a 14-year-old has compounded matters, with the opposition asking for Hollingworth's head. PM Howard isn't asking the Queen to replace him, for now.

Yasser, We Know Where You Live-Sharon's going to go on national TV this evening to explain his policies. He's brushed off complaints from his left to go easier and from the right to take out the PA.
"I will not accept detrimental advice to start an all-out war, bring down the PA, and recapture West Bank cities," Sharon said in the inner cabinet, according to Channel 2 television. "Arafat will remain the address."
Is that address or GPS coordinates?

Quip du jour-"If you're one in a million, there are about 300 of you floating around the country"-anon. (And they've all got blogs) Edifier du jour-"I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty." John 6:35 (We have a famine in a free restaurant)

Wednesday, February 20, 2002

In an interesting reversal, the Presbyterian Church (USA) kept the “fidelity and chastity” requirementfor ordination. A proposal to rewrite the Book of Order to allow ordination of homosexuals was passed by the denomination's General Assembly, but needed a majority of presbyteries to approve it. At last count, there vote was 91-40 against the proposal, a majority of the 173 presbyteries. Still, too many of these votes in mainline denominations have a significant minority voting for immoral behavior.

Yasser, that's my Bibi-More calls for the PA's dismemberment. Former PM Benjamin Netanyahu has called for getting rid of Arafat. "I think that we have to get rid of his regime and, thereby, also signal to any future Palestinian leadership that the cost of escalating, of waging terrorism against us would be their own survival and their own regime." A big war is coming, as Israel will likely pick a zone they want to defend and build up a wall/defense perimeter. The left won't like it. At this point, however, Labor would be ill-advised to force new elections in an environment that can only help the nationalist right.

From Goo to You By Way of the Zoo-Kevin Holtsberry has a rejoinder to Louder Fenn's pro-creationism riffs. In the first part, Fenn points out that evolutionists "reject creation by God do so because they have philosophically rejected creation by God" (his italics). The evolutionist, in his view, rejects the supernatural and thus has nothing left to accept but the natural. In part two, Fenn's in "Who's side are you on" mode,
I'll say it starkly: No one who truly believes in God can be an Evolutionist; no one who truly disbelieves in God can be anything but an Evolutionist ...I'll say it starkly, another way: Supernaturalism and Evolutionism are immiscible because they are competing faiths.
That got Kevin's dander up. He points out the solid evidence for microevolution, the small changes that happen to species over time. Kevin tries to defend the theistic evolution crowd, not wanting to question their faith by their unwillingness to take a literal view of Genesis. Before dropping blogfire on Fenn, I'll give him a chance to better define Evolutionism. If by that, he means that the universe created itself by dumb luck and life developed by dumb luck, then I agree with those statements. I think someone could sign off on ID or theistic evolution, trying to make Genesis fit what gets taught in Biology class, while still being a believer. However, the hard-core non-supernatural evolutionist would be a practical atheist. Microevolution can fit into a young-Earth post-creation framework. Macroevolution, going "from Goo to You by way of the Zoo", as Frank Peretti put it, changing species along the way, is still an unproven point in my mind.

The Check-out Lane-Evening Edition (lot of time to read at work today in 1 minute snips, not much time to write) Foxblog-Moira Breen gets the day three honors, holding her own. To her credit, she refrained from mentioning the piece on Inappropriate Response until this evening. If it were me, I'd been pointing it out moments after it hit the ether. New blog-Louder Fenn-Catholic Sci-Fi blogger. So many good blogs, I had to redo my Blogs folder at work (creating a Libertarian Backlot folder); my blog directory wouldn't fit on the screen anymore. Junkyard Blog's essay on Pentagon propaganda. Bryan’s take-DON'T. We need, when secrets aren't being kept, honesty from the military. Good USS Clueless piece on dying languages and network theory. Amy Welborn found this Police log from the Arcata Eye of northern California. It's a police report, but a mutant child of Joe Friday and Rantburg. Read a few and have fun.

The Check-Out Lane Mr. Austin over at the Sine Qua Non Pundit discects a Richard Cohen article from toe to tonsil like he's been at this for awhile. Yes, be fair, Charles, but sometimes you just have to let both rant barrels go. He's got a permalink coming. Over at Beauty of Gray, Mr. Turnbull goes after Islamo-Jacobians, comparing the French Revolution's fanatical secularism to the Taliban, with some interesting parallels. Jackson Murphy has a crush on Condi Rice, echoing Rich Lowry at The Corner. I remember Jessie Jackson going on SNL and bringing down the house in a skit, admitting a "love jones for Jean Kirkpatrick." For those of you too young to remember Kirkpatrick, she was Janet Reno homely but knew her foreign policy cold. It takes some getting used to having attractive women in positions of power these days. Kevin does a good take taking down critics of the Cleveland voucher program. He also introduces us to the Hokiepundit (Hokie as in Virginia Tech, not content), a fellow theological conservative traveler. HokiePundit has a interesting post on justification and forgiveness. I added a comment to it. Check out this Der Spiegal picture that Instapundit links to (he had it up a moment ago on his site). For those Condi fans, the Warrior Princess garb will be a keeper. Conan the SecDef's (Babe Magnet, dude) not bad, either .

Quip du jour-"Never get in a battle of wits with an unarmed man" -anon. Edifier du jour-"For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord."- Romans 6:23 (I remember Boot Hill, the D&D people's Wild West RPG, had an robbery loot table:"The Wages of Sin")

Tuesday, February 19, 2002

Seven Down, Thirteen Years to Go-Lori Berenson, the left's second most favorite jailbird, will stay there a while. The Peruvian Supreme Court upheld her 20 year sentence for collaborating with leftist rebels. Maybe NPR will cover something else in Peru for a change.

ISI dismembered-Pakistan is cutting the manpower of its ISI intelegence agency by 40%, thus cutting the potential power of the agency that helped create the Taliban and the Kashmiri terror groups. Musharraf is sticking his neck out here, as this could be a coupable event, but he seems to have enough power to stare down any ISI guys who would want to try something.

Sharon Might Just be Getting Warmed Up- The latest game of tit-for-tat in Israel had Arafat's Gaza office bombed, sending four gunnies to the virgins (as Rantburg might say), in retaliation for six Israelis soldiers killed in a Palestinian raid If the Israeli right has any say, we ain't seen nothin' yet. A broad cross-section of the small conservative parties want Arafat's Palestinian Authority dismantled or they will force new elections. This will get worse before it gets better.

Nay, I'm Proud to be an Enemy of Europe- Peter Hain, Britain’s Europe Minister joins the Euroweenie brigade with this quote
“The enemies of the euro are also the enemies of Europe. What they want is purely and simply the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union and an association with the American bloc.”
Given that a majority of Brits are opposed to joining the Eurozone and the Metric Martyrs case just in the news makes the Hain quote a bit explosive. The Tories were quick to call this an insult to "70 per cent of the country, people who are happy to co-operate with the rest of Europe but who are determined to keep control of their own jobs and mortgages.” Hey, siding with the US shouldn't be seen as an insult.

No Audiences With Rolf or Earl-Dubya's Japan trip seems to have gone over well. Not much substance (there rarely is in summit meetings) and only one minor faux pas, where he put in "devaluation" when he meant to say "deflation", causing some jitters in the foreign currency markets. He got in a few down-home quips, comparing PM Koizumi to the Mariners Ichiro Suzuki and suggested that some temple archers might get some live target practice with the press corps. On to Korea, where he'll take a first-hand look at Axis of Evil East through binoculars.

On a Clear Day, You Can See Baghdad-Deputy defense secretary Paul Wolfowitz said that preemptive strikes could be on the horizon. Wolfie's been the uberhawk in the Bush administration, plugging well before 9/11 for action against Iraq with the Colin Powell crowd opting against direct action. It looks like the hawks have Dubya's ear for now.

UHF- User Head Failure-Cable modem problem solved-network card had come unseated. Should have checked that first. Thankfully, I had enough residual tech abilites from the computer store to do the job myself.

Some Bogus Thoughts on CAFE standards- This Fox piece on proposed (McCain the albino RINO again? Just to the left of Kerry?) increases in fuel economy standards has some flawed logic. Increased CAFE standards won't ban SUVs, they will make auto company sell more fuel efficient vehicles overall. If there's a 35MPG standard, a 25MPG SUV can still be sold if a 45MPG car, or two 40MPG cars, are sold to offset the SUV's deficit. I'm not in favor of increasing the standards, but the auto industry would find creative ways to live within the rules and still sell SUVs. Electric and fuel cell hybrids are starting to come on line and might make the Kerry standards moot. That being said, I'm not worried about global warming and am not worried enough about energy dependence to want to overhaul the auto industry from Washington.

Give the Anarchocapitalist Transportation Geek His Due- After mentioning helmet laws Saturday, James Haney pointed out one of his maiden offerings back in December; a piece on motorcycle helmet laws. His proposal was to allow people who want the wind in their hair to pay for the privilege by paying a higher insurance premium for riding without a helmet. This proposal has one good thing going for it, which is a market-efficient Coasean outcome, as the external cost of paying for the freedom-lover's nursing-home care after bashing his brains out gets paid for by the riders, not the general public. You, in the back. "Isn't culling the gene pool a second benefit?" That assumes the tree gets them before they have a chance to breed. Write on the blackboard 100 times, "I see stoopid people, and they don't even know they're stoopid."

Fox Goes Blog-They've started a blog column, with PunditWatch's Will Vehrs leading off yesterday and Mr. FCYA, Ken Layne going today. Vehrs was solid, a credit to our genre, while Layne was OK but not (in my mind) on his A-game. Expect a few more people venturing into the Blogosphere. I know I found this area via Glenn Reynolds' articles in NRO and Fox; this may bring some more eyeballs our way.

Not after 35 years of bad blood-Had the Saudis offered to let Israel exist in existing borders 35 years ago in return for peace, they might have gotten a deal. Not now. Not with the Islamic world radicalized with two generations of pro-Palestinian, Jew-bashing rhetoric. Given that rhetoric and the two generations of intifadists it generated, Israel needs more defendable borders than the pre-67 lines. This looks a cynical ploy by the Saudis to cozy up to the Europeans, who have no love for Israel, and try to isolate the US as a Middle-eastern end game not to the House of Saud's liking plays out.

Everybody say "Awwwwww"-Had a homework assignment for our second pre-marital counseling session this afternoon with Pastor Milton- write a love letter, describing what Eileen means to me and why I want to marry her. Eileen's supposed to do likewise (she says she did weeks ago, I'm the procrastinator) and the letters is to be sealed. They're to be opened two weeks after the wedding, when the first blush of married life wears off and the little hassles start to make things a bit less fun, as a reminder of why you wanted to be institutionalized with them. It was hard work, getting a lot of real mushy feelings onto paper. With her permission, I'll post it (it's on disk) in August once she's read it.

The Check Out Lane Cable modem is on the fritz at home-posting might be daytime only until I find the evening time to go to war with tech support. Saw this news in the Detroit Free Press yesterday-The name Eatons will soon be no more . Sears, who bought the Canadian department store chain, is converting the remaining stores to Sears. As much as Canadians can be weenies about protecting their culture from encroaching Americanism, this is one that has to bring a legitimate tear. Even though Eatons wasn't that much different from your standard American high-mid brow department store, it was one of those distinctive Canadian things. An Eatons bag meant you had visited the Great White North. While we're mentally up north, a freind of Damian's had a great line : "Canada's hockey program has gone further south than a politician seeking quick medical treatment." Interesting, albeit a bit pessimistic, Airstrip One piece on Iraqnaphobia. Thesis-we get rid of Saddam, then what? USS Clueless goes into the word "Terrorist", noting that terrorism is a tactic. Den Beste points out that we're at war with a militant ideology, not a technique. The Boston Tea Party was terrorism, but was done by the "good guys."

Quip du jour-"The problem with a madman is not that he is not logical; the problem is that he is only logical." G.K. Chesterton Edifier du jour-"But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD."-Joshua 24-15

Monday, February 18, 2002

Insanely Evil- The Andrea Yates trial is back in the news, as is the idea of an insanity defense. There is a prevalent school of thought that people would have to be crazy in order to kill their own kids, drive a plane into a skyscraper, etc. Most killers have some treatable psychosis, but that does not in itself explain their actions. No, there is a capacity for evil inherent in all of us that civilizing forces keep in check. When those countering forces are softened, nasty things can happen. People don't want to look evil in the eye, preferring insanity as a rationale. More on this later, I have bad debt reports to crank out.

The Check-out Lane Kevin Holtsberry's critique of libertarians-read it. Definition of a Intellectual: someone who can listen to the William Tell Overture and not think of the Lone Ranger. Definition of a Conservative Intelectual: someone who hears the name Kirk and not think of Star Trek. (note, I'm not one of them) Newbie Blogger Sine Qua Non Pundit. Stone Cold Charles Austin looks like a keeper-his line of yesterday for a new guitar-rock band-The Axes of Evil. Boundless Webzine-One of Ben Domenech's outlets-it's a college-centric zine put out by the Focus on the Family crew. A lot of interesting essays. NRO's James Robbins starts a five-parter on showing Saddam the door.

Dubya's Selling Marriage-Any Takers- HHS is looking at a program to give marriage-skills training for low-income couples. As well as the usual feminazi suspects, Cato's David Boaz was critical the initiative, saying,” Marriage has lasted for thousands of years without a federal program to encourage it." Well, there is a set of federal program that discourages it; its called welfare. I'm a bit skeptical as to the effectiveness of this proposal, but it tries, albeit a bit meekly, to counter a lot of the prevailing winds towards single moms. On the pre-conception end, we have a liberal environment that, when it doesn't fan the flames of lust, fails to keep those desires in check by encouraging waiting for marriage. Once conceived, the liberals will encourage abortion as an alternative to motherhood, giving an additional boost towards extra-marital sexual activity. If the woman goes through with the pregnancy, there is a welfare system that will give her much more help if she isn't married. The federal deck is stacked against marriage these days, and moves to support it are welcomed if they are effective. I find it ironic that the libertarian critique is presented by a guy named Boaz. In the book of Ruth, it is Boaz who marries that immigrant widow, fulfilling the kinsman-redeemer mandate to look after the widows of your clan. If there is anyone in the Bible who represents the spirit of marriage as a social good, it's Boaz.

Quip du jour-"There are no atheists in foxholes"- William Cummings Edifier du jour-"Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again,but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life."-John 4:13-14

Sunday, February 17, 2002

Powell Standing Firm on Condoms-Colin Powell was making the Sunday talkie circuit and not backing off his condom statements of Thursday.
White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said the president did not object to what Powell said about condoms. As for Powell’s remarks about taboos and conservative ideas, Fleischer said the secretary was speaking in a theological, rather than political, context. Powell seconded that view on Sunday, saying his reference to conservative ideas “was not a political statement, it was a social and cultural statement. It’s small ‘c.’” “When I went to Africa and I started looking at what was going on in the undeveloped countries, one of the problems we’re having is cultural taboos where people don’t talk about these kinds of things. ... People who are brought up in certain tribal conditions are not willing to talk about these issues,” he said. “Those are the sorts of conservative ideas that you have to break through in order to protect people, in order to save people.”
When the president gets back from Asia, he'll have to put out a fire on this one. I'm not the only one giving Powell a hard time here; a Gary Bauer quote-“On public health issues he should follow the lead of the Bush administration, which he serves” comes close to my inital comments of Friday morning. The initial, instinctive political response of the administration is to be supportive of Powell, especially while the president is on the Asia trip. When he comes back, he may have a lot of fire from his right flank to deal with. Then, it will become interesting how Bush manages his domestic coalition.

More Olympic Musings- Two goofs in a row. The NBC announcer introduced ice dancer Naomi Lang as the first Native American Olympian since Jim Thorpe. Two others come to mind real quick. If memory serves, Billy Mills was a gold-medal winner in the 10K run in the 1960's (1964?) and Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell was an Olympian in Judo about that time as well. The other goof was a blank computer screen (with the exemption of the bottom row) that stayed up for about 20 seconds before being removed after Lang and her partner got done. [update-Google confirms both Mills and Campbell (he captained the Judo team)]

Sunday Olympic Musings-Slow day, time for naps and Olympics. Our cable has brought back CBC for at least the Olympics (I hope for more)-they know how to cover the Olympics. I feel like Worf at 10-Foward,"Less Talk-More Sports." CBC does try to do that. Hockey-The USA-Russia game last night (too late for me, taped the third period and watched it before church) was weird, with Federov slapping in a go-ahead goal for the Russians, then Brett Hull getting the tying goal; it was a Red Wing kind of night. Watched the Czech-Sweeden game this evening-thought about Jagr's #68. When he came up in '90, as the Cold War was ending, it was a statement of Czech independence, commemorating the 1968 reformist Dubcek regime that came to power and was crushed by the Soviets. Now, it seems a bit quaint. We need to remind ourselves why it has meaning, even today. I thought it was the marathon that had the motto, "To win, first, you have to finish." Steven Bradbury, the Aussie that won the short-track 1000m gold, had the good luck to be trailing in both the semis and the finals and avoiding big crashes in the final lap. Interesting thought. The US two-man bobsled was 0.03 of a second out of bronze,finishing fourth. If they were a basketball team, they could say they were in the Final Four, but no one remembers the athletes finished out of the money. "If I had one extra little tweak" is what the guys have to be thinking.

Supremes to Hear Cleveland Voucher Case Wednesday- I don't think they'll overturn this one. Various government programs pay college tuition at religious colleges and those haven't been challenged. The 1995 Rosenburger vs. University of Virginia case, where a Christian campus magazine won funding on equal footing with secular campus groups, would lead me to think that O'Connor and Kennedy would not block aid to parents for schools merely because of their religious nature. The liberal critique is that there aren't enough non-Catholic options for the Cleveland vouchers. I think "use the voucher wherever you can" would fit O'Connor better than requiring a full theological and ideological spectrum of private schools before vouchers can be implemented; there will always be one kid whose world-view doesn't fit the available schools for the liberals to sue with.

The Check-Out Lane Moira Breen-Nice essay on the Southwest landscape and pizza. She, too, liked that squirrel story I linked to Friday too. Den Beste to Euroweenies- We're not cocky, we're just confident. It ain't bragging if you can back it up. (Via Instapundit) James Bennett-Sympathy for Surrender Monkeys. Good reflective piece on the good side of France (yes, there is one). NRO Weekend-Benjamin Wiker piece on Scopes' textbook, which included racial eugenics today's modern liberal (or anyone this side of the KKK) would reject. (Via Amy Welborn)-Richard Neuhaus carefully but fully disects Peter Singer's worldview. Jonah gave him the once-over last year, but this piece does the toe-to-toncil gutting. Headline for WSJ's Best of the Web-Colin Powell: Rubber stamp or Trojan horse?

Here's my Pakistani Presidental Subroutine- inspired by Rantburg's post yesterday. My post over there didn't take right. Sub PakPres() Dim Inpower as Boolean, Popularity as Double Do while Inpower If Popularity<0.6 then Call Blame_Indians() If Popularity<0.5 then Call Arrest_Opposition() If Popularity<0.4 then Call Kill_Rivals() If Popularity less than CoupPoint then Call Flee_to_ Malaysia() Inpower=False End if Loop End sub

Quip du jour-"You fool! You fell victim to one of the classic blunders. The most famous is: Never get involved in a land war in Asia. Only slightly less well know is this: Never go in against a Sicilian when death is on the line!"-Vesinni in The Princess Bride (Even better known-don't go in with a Frenchman when death is on the line. Then, you can win a land war in Asia) Edifier du jour- "In your anger do not sin: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry,and do not give the devil a foothold." Ephesians 4:25-26 (I got led to this one and it fit what I've been going through lately. Timely advice.)

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