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Saturday, March 02, 2002

Steel Tariffs- Just Say No-Banana Counting Monkey links to a good Financial Times piece on the proposed 40% tariff on steel imports. Claude Barfield's take-be like Reagan (Nancy) and just say no. I agree. I heard a steel industry rep on NPR late this week and his arguments were so lame I was all set to blog but didn't have a good link handy. This is a wealth transfer from the American consumer and steel-using industries to the steel industry and its workers. The problem is ancient plants and overpaid workers and that the American steel industry needs to modernize. That will mean that a lot of old dinosaurs will have to be shutdown and quite a few workers laid off, but that's better that costing jobs in other industries due to higher steel prices. That's not even counting the effects of the retaliatory tariffs that would be slapped on if we passed such a tariff. No, Mr. Monkey, we don't want European stagnation. True, this will leave us somewhat dependent on imported steel for the time being. At this point, without thinking too hard about it, it seems that our national security needs can be met by what we make domestically without the tariff. If not, then some plants might need to be mothballed, to be cranked up in an emergency. It's cheaper to retrain the mill rats than to pay through the nose to have them keep their jobs.

"The name's Bond. Convertible Bond"-This Fox piece on personal finance illiteracy comes as little surprise. I went through a Ph.D. in Finance without studying personal finance beyond personal investments, as most BBA programs do not have a personal finance class as a finance elective or requirement. BBA programs are designed to churn out bankers, brokers or corporate finance people, not personal finance consultants. Most schools will have a personal finance class offered as a 100 or 200-level elective that doesn't count towards business school requirements. Delta State in Mississippi (where I interviewed years ago) was the only school I've seen that offered a 300-level personal finance class for finance majors. I learned more about personal finance from a Larry Burkett weekend seminar that my church in East Lansing held than I did in a score of finance classes. I taught a personal finance class at Great Lakes College a few years ago, but picked up more of my knowledge for the class outside of my coursework. High schools aren't much help either. My high school econ class didn't do much, and it's hard to fit a "life skills" class into a curricula when parents want their kids to get something that will look better to colleges or prepare them for a job. This is likely something that people will have to pick up on their own, and that's hard, since people that will be teaching informal classes in the topic will be typically have a proprietary spin to their presentation. For instance, the local Christian radio station has free estate planing seminars, with the assumption being that some of the people coming will put them in their will or set up a living trust with the station being the remanderman. There isn't an easy answer to the problem. [Update-Mr. Monkey puts in a plug for early financial education-junior high might be a better spot for it, while kids are still impresionable and before credentialitis sets in]

Nighty-night for Nightline?-The story that David Letterman might be moving to ABC, replacing Nightline is getting grumbles from the chattering classes, who see one of the better outlets for longer-form TV journalism going away. The suggestion is that Nightline more to prime time, but it's tough to see it holding its own in the ratings at 10PM. However, if you punched up 20-20, giving it a bit more hard news and making it a daily thing, the combination of Koppel, Baba Wawa and the rest of the crew might make a 10PM newsblock ratings-feasible. I'm thinking of a something of a cross between the current Nightline and CBC's The National, where the first half-hour or so is spent on breaking news and the second half devoted to features, with my visioned result looking like McNeil-Lehrer for the masses. A prime-time newscast has been the network news guy's Holy Grail, but if they want to draw the younger Letterheads to that 11:30 slot, that might be the unintended result. I haven't watched much of Nightline since starting a job that has me getting out the door at 6AM, so I'm not a good judge of where the show's at today. With Ted Koppel nearing retirement and only working three-day weeks as is, it may be time for him to move on if that prime-time newsblock doesn't happen. He'd be a feather in the cap of any cable outlet. He's centrist enough to fit in with either Fox News or CNN, but would seen to be too staid for MSNBC/CNBC.

72 Raisins for the Martyr?-That's the take of some western Koran scholars looking at the vowel-free original text of the Koran. What is commonly transcribed as houri (virgin) is more likely (according to the scholars in the piece) hur (white raisins). The piece did have a accidentally insightful paragraph;
While scriptural interpretation may seem like a remote and innocuous activity, close textual study of Jewish and Christian scripture played no small role in loosening the Church's domination on the intellectual and cultural life of Europe, and paving the way for unfettered secular thought. "The Muslims have the benefit of hindsight of the European experience, and they know very well that once you start questioning the holy scriptures, you don't know where it will stop," the scholar explained.
You start rewriting and casting doubt on scripture, you rewrite and cast doubt on the religion. However, many liberals love to bash religion and casting doubt on the Koran's translation is an attempt to knock a leg of faith from under a Muslim. Unlike Christians, who rely upon good translations from the original Greek and Hebrew, Muslims want believers to learn Arabic so they can read what Allah handed down to Mohammed in the original. This piece questions how original the writing is.

Good John Ellis essay on the Global Crossing collapse and the possible political fallout given the haul that DNC chair Terry McAuliffe brought in from being on the Global Crossing board. However, Ellis can't blame the editors for the title "A Kevin Phillips Issue." If this were an RNC chair with his hand in the cookie jar, yes, but Phillips is a anti-Republican these days, despite being a key Republican strategist 30 years ago. Phillips has drifted left while the GOP drifted right. He (at least in his NPR pieces) makes his living these day being an anti-conservative curmudgeon. [Update-a quick Google on Phillips points out that he's now a contributor to the paleoliberal The American Prospect. It's a bit dated, but Walter Olson has an elaboration on Phillips' migration to the left.]

Bobby's Just Take Your Ganja in Brixton -This Times of London piece shows how (IMHO) not to do decriminalization of drugs.
The Metropolitan Police and David Blunkett, the Home Secretary, are studying the results of the experiment in Lambeth, South London, which includes Brixton. Drug users caught on the streets are let off with a reprimand after the cannabis has been seized. The aim of the scheme is to cut bureaucracy and free officers to get back on the streets to tackle dealers in hard drugs. However, police believe on-the-spot fines would meet the concerns of many officers who want a tougher line on people found with cannabis. One senior Yard source said yesterday: “People still ought to account for breaking the law. Either it is a criminal offence or not. I cannot see it can be right for someone caught doing 33mph in a 30mph limit getting fined and yet you can go down the town centre smoking cannabis in front of children and just be told ‘please don’t do it’.”
This seems to make the law a joke. Either legalize it or criminalize it. If the only downside of getting caught is that the cops make off with your doobies, it doesn't discourage the use much and makes people contemptuous of the law in general. Brixton is one of the more multi-ethnic, ghettoey parts of London; this will make the denizens more respectful of the law?

Around the World in One Blog Hollingworth Hanging in There- It's Sunday Morning in Australia and Hollingworth's still Gov. Gen. So much for my prediction. There's still a lot of fallout from the Anglican child abuse flap, and children's charities continue to drop him from their boards like a hot potato, but he's been apologetic and has done solid damage control. Reaper's harvest up to 375 in India-The VHP as still talking trash about building their temple, which won't help calm things down. The killing seems to be mostly Hindus attacking Muslims, although there have been street battles between youth of both sides. Vatican Weighs in on Irish Abortion Referendum- There's a national referendum Wednesday on a strict anti-abortion revision to the Irish constitution to override a court decision allowing a depressed woman to have an abortion. The Archbishop of Dublin has given instructions for priests to give a pro-referendum message at Mass this weekend. The measure is expected to pass. While we're on the Emerald Isle-we'll check in on the runup to the May Parliament elections. The ruling conservative Fianna Fáil party is gaining ground in the polls while the largest opposition party, the center-left (in this case, it's a fair description) Fine Gael, is loosing some ground. Smile, Mr. Haney.

Satan's ticked, Hell just lost 40 Minutes-Arkansas just bought out Nolan Richardson's contract. He's one of those coaches (Tark was another) who could coach like crazy but didn't give a rat's rump about academics. When you graduate 0% of your black players and make the Final Four, the school looks the other way, but go .500 and be that sloppy academically and you're shown the door. He wasn't the nicest guy with the media, and I don't think it was a black thing; like Bobby Knight, he has an arrogant streak with a combative edge that doesn't go over well with a lot of people, but he can coach.

Quip du jour-"I lost it all in the post-partum depression."-Erma Bombeck (Yates can borrow the book title) Edifier du jour-"I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing." John 15:5

Friday, March 01, 2002

Bedtime Musings- Welcome Blithering Idiot to the permalinks, a member of the Augustinian Web Ring and a fellow "theological blog" in Kesher Talk's list. He's a Raider fan (keep him and my mom apart) but a seemingly good guy otherwise. Also, Blogs of War is a belated add. The body count's now at 250 in Gujarat. U-G-H-L-Y. Ugh-ly. Check out Rantburg's coverage, including the Tom Roberts comments on this post. My only surprise of the shaddow government story is that they never did this sooner. It makes send if someone decides to nuke DC. However, the term "shadow" has overtones for parliamentary systems, where the guys that would be committee chairs in Congress are cabinet ministers and the ranking minority members are "shadows." A shadow government in that context would be the high-ranking opposition members, as "shadow cabinet" is a common phrase.

"They send 50 of yours to Shiva, you send 200 of them to Allah. That's the Gujarat way"- The death toll's up to 136, according to this NYT piece. The crisis has caused PM Vajpayee to skip a Commonwealth Head-of-Government conference in Australia. They rang up a 2K body count the last go-round in '92-93, so this might just be the pre-game show. Kolkata Libertarian has a good take on the current crisis-read up. The Times of India site seems to be down the last 24 hours-either that or they're swamped with traffic.

India Indigestion-I'm having a hard time relating to the two-way mob violence in India. It's not that it can't happen here, but it doesn't typically go two-way in the US. You'll see some small-scale retaliation like in Crown Heights a few years ago, but most pogroms (that's typically used to describe a rape-'n-pillage raid on Jews, but it the best word I can think of) tend to be one-way. The American trend-incident enflames group A who take anger out on group B but group B just boards up the windows and calls for help. It can reach massive proportions, like the Tulsa anti-black pogrom of 1921, but I can't think of any cases in the US when the pogrom victims returned the favor.

Grammar R Us- I'll try to answer Louder Fenn's question of the possessive apostrophe from what I remember from a talk with my Advanced Comp prof. You're supposed to use 's when the object isn't plural and ' when the object's plural. An example:
Reynolds's position is similar to the Democrats' view, while Dr Kass's take is similar to the Republicans' stand.
That's what I was taught, but I tend to go with the plain ' for all words ending in s, as the s's looks out of place. Just remember the rule if you or your kids have a run-amok English teacher.

Midday Musings- The Philosophy Quiz Bug Reaches the Corner-Jonah maxes out on Aristotle. Groaner du jour from Sine Qua Non Pundit-Fix up Natalie with the Vodka Pundit and get Natalie Solent-Green. Foooooo. I do think she's taken. Nice essay on love from Shots Across the Bow. How many warbloggers left? Most blogs tend to be current events driven, but few focus exclusively on the War on Terror. Rantburg and Airstrip One are examples of sites focused on international affairs, while some others will dwell on the fight against terrorism to a greater extent. 9/11 loosely corresponded to the takeoff of the blog. Had the blog came of age four years ago, they might have got the tag Impeachment blogs. Most of us blog on what interests us and would likely interest a broader audience. The warblog may just be morphing into a generic blog. I feel like more of a general purpose blog than the "Theological Blog" label that Kesher Talk gives me, but I do try and bring an evangelical perspective to my analysis. The last few weeks have been theology-dense, though. If you have a beef with any of my catagorizations, let me know.

Augustinian Webring?- That's Ben Domenech's idea. It seems interesting that the Augustinians/Aquanians link to the more Randy sites while they less frequently return the favor. Am I off base on that? I seem to see people with newer libertarian-leaning sites getting permalinks from some of the Foxblog grandmasters before I or others of our ilk. There does seem to be a neocon/Augustinian/Aquanian blog subculture developing that is somewhat separate yet interacting with the larger libertarian blogosphere.

One more on Bam Sr..- What's more controversial: Paul, Evolution of John Madden? I agree with Kevin in that Madden is past his prime. A Madden-Michaels booth wouldn't be good. Madden is becoming the Master of the Obvious and sometimes not even that, as his call for the Pats to play for overtime in the Superbowl showed. If I'm running ABC with Madden as a fait accomplis, I'd look for a young guy with talent who understands the modern game as a third man (or fourth) in the booth. My positive comments on Madden were more as a character than as a commentator. The Summerall-Madden team gave Madden more room to be over-the-top as he had a ex-player as play-by-play man to pick up some of the missing details. With a "never played the game" play-by-play guy, Madden's shortcomings in analysis will be more glaring.

Daycare for Dummies -3-Claude alert-This Fox piece on childcare, playing off a pro-daycare University of Washington study, has some doozies.
The study was based on information from about 1,200 randomly selected parents and 300 caregivers across the state. Two-thirds of the caregivers said training and support would help them do a better job, while a majority said they face at least one caregiving problem.
Duh! Last I checked, they're human.
The scholars also found the higher the parents’ education level, the more likely they were to leave their child with a licensed stranger than with a relative — a conclusion implying formal day care is the smartest choice.
Only if you ignore concurrent factors. More educated parents are both more likely to be able to afford paid day care and are more likely to be living away from relatives.
Some caregivers also questioned the findings. While it’s true licensed day care workers are generally more educated than, say, grandmothers, does that mean they’re doing a better job of watching the children? Ask any grandma, and she’ll tell you what she provides can’t be learned in a classroom.
The dreaded MOTO-Master of the Ovious.
The 18-month, $250,000 study was commissioned by the Washington Department of Social and Health Services, following a recommendation from the state’s Child Care Coordinating Committee. The committee is made up of parents, child-care professionals and state employees.
What's 1+1? What do you want it to be? You expect the U of W people to bite the hand that grants them?

Quip du jour-"If you don't leave me alone, I'm gonna hit you three ways: hard, fast and continuously."-Mike Warnke (allegedly to a street evangelist prior to his conversion) Edifier du jour-"And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever--the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you."- John 14:16-17 Daffynition-"Ramjets"- New Hindu gang

Thursday, February 28, 2002

Before Bed Musings- Saw this piece on Mike Warnke-he was a big Christian comedian/preacher in the 80s before his pre-conversion Satanic drug dealer story was shown to be false in 1992. I remember listing to the guy in his heyday, even going to a concert in Auburn. Now, he's looking for a comeback without acknowledging the fabrications. I feel as much pity as disgust. Quite a few of us bought his story at the time. Somehow his downfall in '92 missed me (too busy with grad school?) and I was hearing the story of his making up his past just this week. Evangelicals love to hear a good testimony; the more vice before coming to the Lord, the better. It turned out we were suckers for a con job on a par with PTL. We need to fact-check even a preacher's butt. To Louder Fenn- Yes, we do need to keep at the pro-clone guys and break a few loose. Just don't expect to snag too many. To Ben Domenech-Good points. Jack Buck is a good baseball guy and only a so-so football guy. A Buck-Collinsworth combo would be a good anti-insomnia medication if it weren't for those nausea side-effects. That duo makes the Sunday evening church/doubleheader game dilemma too easy.

Bury Me in Chicago, So I Can Keep Voting-Democrats scuttled a election reform bill over identity verifications provisions. There should be some point in the process where you're able to show who you say you are. While the dog registrations McConnell cited may be over the top, there's still a open target for fraud with a system where you mail in an application to vote with no way to verify that there is an actual eligible voter behind it. It may inconvenience someone in a cash economy who may not have a formal receipt for anything, but it seems to be a more-than-fair trade off to avoid fraud. Current Motor-Voter allows for people to register at welfare offices and car/driver license departments, and the receipt option allows the working poor without cars an avenue, which seems more than generous to me. Are the Democrats that dense in that they don't see the fraud possibilities of saying "I'd like to vote. Trust me, I'm a legal voter"?

Madden on MNF- There are plenty of people who don't like Madden, but his move to Monday Night Football is a net plus. If you bring in a younger, slightly hip second color man (Howie Long? No, too much Raiders. Suggestions, guys?) to play off of the old-school Madden, you're close to the classic days of Howard and Dandy Don. Dan Fouts was a notch above his abilities on MNF; He's a good basic color man, but more suited to be on the B team on one of the Sunday broadcasts. You need some extra pizzazz to do MNF well. Dennis Miller was OK, but more than a bit forced. Even when you get 90% of his analogies, he was off-key too often. You watch Sunday football because you like football and the alternatives aren't there. Ben, for a 4:00 game, you can live with Chis Collinsworth or Fouts doing color. I have to have a reason to stay up to midnight to watch a Monday Night game, and a better commentary team wouldn't hurt. In the old days, you'd watch a blowout to hear what the guys in the booth would be joking about in the fourth quarter.

Bogus Capology-Bill Romanowski signed a 7-year deal with the Raiders. He's 35. 10-1 he doesn't play seven more years, but that allows the Raiders to write off the $1.3M signing bonus off over seven years rather than the two or three that would be proper for a guy his age. Also, doesn't Romanowski's bad boy image fit right in with the Skull and Crossbones?

Yes, Virginia, There is a Liberal Bias-Howie Kurtz WaPo piece today wants to downplay the "liberal bias" debate by trying to claim conservatives don't fight fair. Conservatives are over the top while liberals tend to be "objective." He's bouncing off of a Washington Monthly piece on "Why Can't The Democrats Get Tough?" Paul Glastris states that
Yes, there is a certain amount of liberal bias in the mainstream press. But on balance, the big national papers and broadcast networks take seriously the traditional journalistic strictures of fairness, accuracy, and independence of judgment. The conservative press, by and large, does not labor under these constraints. It does not pretend to be in the business of presenting all sides fairly, but of promoting its side successfully.
The fairness of the mainstream press is colored by the milieu in which they live. If only 10% of reporters go to church, then religion is a foreign element and not worthy of too much fairness. If 90% vote Democratic, Republican issues seem extreme. Since liberals are in the majority in the journalism field, liberals don't feel liberal; they feel moderate compared to their peers. As an generally unchurched bunch, they will also tend to have a tin ear to religious issues. Conservatives know they're in the minority and tend to be more vocal since they feel the need to make up for the disparity. Kurtz points out a seeming disparity between the two camps-
The same dynamic plays out among TV pundits. Conservatives such as Robert Novak, Kate O'Beirne, and Jonah Goldberg are ideological warriors who attempt with every utterance to advance their cause. Their center-left counterparts, people such as Juan Williams, Margaret Carlson, and E.J. Dionne, simply don't have the same killer instinct. While their sympathies are obvious, liberal pundits are at heart political reporters, not polemicists, who seem far more at ease on journalistic neutral ground, analyzing the strengths and weaknesses of both sides, rather than in vigorously defending Democrats.
There tends to be a trend towards reporter-pundits. Juan Williams, Margaret Carlson, David Broder and E.J. Dionne are good examples of that class, where the line between reportage and commentary gets blurred. They give the veneer of objectivity when they can be as partisan as the conservative. Robert Novak may be the lone prominent example of a conservative reporter-pundit. Kurtz compares a crop of three liberal (liberals are never liberal, they're "center-left") reporter-pundits with Novak and two "pure pundits" in O'Beirne and Goldberg. Apples and oranges, Howie. If we had more conservative reporter-pundits in the mainstream press, the conservative pundits could afford to be a bit less bellicose.

Bam! Israel Kicks it Up a Notch- Israeli troops went into Jenin and Balata today, killing an estimated 18 Palestinians while losing one of their soldiers. These two towns, especially Jenin, have been intifada hotbeds. A Balata Palestinian commander is quoted as saying "Israeli troops will not enter the camp except over our dead bodies." That can be arranged, sir. We also saw the second female suicide bomber, only killing herself but wounding three Israeli troops at a checkpoint. The Palestinians still lack veteran suicide bombers.

Panda Smackdown!- The World Wildlife Fund has won a British court victory over the World Wrestling Federation over use of the WWF acronym outside the US. The wildlife WWF had the acronym trademarked, and the wrestlers has signed on to a settlement in 1994 keeping them from using WWF overseas; now they're paying as much attention to rules outside the ring as they do inside. The McMahon crowd is appealing to the House of Lords, who serve as the British analog of the Supreme Court.

Quip du jour-"I'm not worried about the return on my money, I'm concerned about the return of my money"-Will Rogers Edifier du jour-"A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another."-John 13:34-35

Wednesday, February 27, 2002

Is Bravery a Virtue?-Natalie's back from hols and in fine form. She takes Christopher Johnson to task on a over-the-top trashing of a Charlie Reese piece. While the Reese quotes were suitable for use as fertilizer as a whole, I'm going to side with Natalie over Chris on bravery. One can be brave on the wrong side of a war, even one that is evil. Bravery is a virtue when it's used for good, it's a tool of evil when used by a kamikazi al Qaeda guy. I wasn't blogging at the time, but I would have, against type, backed Bill Maher on his crack that the US launching cruise missiles were cowards compaired to the 9/11 kamikazis. Calling the US guys cowards is over the top (Maher's stock-in-trade) but those bombing missions were less gutsy. Doesn't make the al Qaeda guys saints (the 72 Virginians treatment sounds about right), but they weren't wimps.

Send in the Clones-Louder Fenn gives Papa Blog both barrels on cloning. I had a similar frustration last month where Reynolds and allies will readily dismiss moral squeamishness over cloning. Rant on, dude. However, we're shouting past each other at times. It's the swing vote that is still undecided about cloning that we need to talk to; baring a divine encounter, the Reason/Tech Central crowd is going to back cloning. We have to couch our arguments in ways that will speak to the guy who isn't thinking of the moral implications of biotech on a daily or weekly basis.

Spike Milligan- I was listening to the obits on this guy thinking that this guy was to comedy what old bluesmen like Muddy Waters were to modern rock; you might not of heard him, but the masters you have heard of cut their teeth on his stuff. I never heard of Milligan before he died this week, but a lot of people, like partner Peter Sellers and the Monte Python crew, owe a lot to his improvisational comedy. I should of heard more of him and his influential "Goon Show", but there seems to be a limited outlet for radio comedy. Sounds like a job for MP3.

Preventing the Butt-Ugly Side of India From Exploding-The government's trying to put a lid on things, barring Vishwa Hindu Parishad pilgrims from heading to the hot spot of Ayodhya and arresting 35 people for the train massacre yesterday. This story isn't going away, as the VHP devotees are planning to start building a temple on the site of an old Muslin mosque next month, defying government orders. It could get very ugly, folks.

Don't Buy the Buy Rating Story-The Senate's Governmental Affairs Committee was grilling brokerage firm analysts on their slowness to remove buy ratings on Enron. The standard story is that the investment banking business is the reason behind the disparity between buy and sell ratings, as the big brokerages make big money selling stocks and bonds offerings for companies and don't want to tick off customers with a sell rating. That's true, but there are two other reasons that the buy rating is overused. The first is that brokerages make money off of commissions. The company can only make money off of a sell recommendation from short-sellers and people who already own the stock. The second is that the customers who own the stock typically would have bought it off of a buy recommendation ("six months ago, you told me to buy it, you doofus") and the company may be reluctant to eat crow. An analysts would have to be independently employed before he would be able to give impartial advice. Thus, investors should ignore any buy recommendations. Do you own research or buy a good, low-fee index fund if you have money but not the interest in doing stock analysis.

Web Econ-Fees Don't Work-John Ellis has a good piece on CNN's proposal to charge for CNN.com. It won't work as long as there are umpteen other web sites you can get news from. I go there once in a blue moon, and would avoid it like the plague if there were a fee charged. Look at what happened to Slate. They tried a subscription basis and fell flat on their face. I was a regular reader before the subscription kicked in. Not after. Especially with good blogging supplementing the editorializing on the web, I don't think too many people will go the subscription route. The Wall Street Journal gets away with its subscription because of its unique financial info that the fat cats (and not-so-fat-cat, my friend Alan's a subscriber) will gladly fork over the $29/year for. For the newsies, the Web is a loss leader, drawing people to their profit-making product. If you get to a point of micro-commerce, where for a quarter, you get the run of a newspaper website, then they might make money off the web; until then it's a customer service with a truckload of free-riders.

US Troops in Georgia-Tblisi not Fort Benning-Currious move putting US "trainers" to help Georgian troops fight Muslim gunnies in the Chechnya border region. This is right in Russia's backyard, on its border; the fact that the Russians aren't raising hell over it is a sign of good relations with Moscow. So much for Russian hegemony in the "Near Abroad." Rantburg has some good takes on Georgia, and Vodka Pundit stole my Jimmy Carter line (I was thinking it this morning, honest).

Recess Appointents are starting to look good, Dubya-D. Brooks Smith is the next nominee to get the stall treatment. Joe Biden's going to war against him over the unconstitutional Violence Against Women act.

Just your ordinary domestic mob-induced mass murder-This attack by Muslims on a Hindu train , killing 43, in India doesn't have Pakistan ties-this one's internal. Seems the Hindus in question were part of a hard-core group that are gearing up to build a temple on a Muslim holy site against government wishes. This is an internal scuffle that goes back at least a decade-riots broke out, killing 2000, the last time the Hindu group tried to build their temple.

Mid-day Musings- Things are looking better in southern Africa. The fallout from Savimbi's death seems to be leading Angola towards a peace it hasn't known as an independent nation. Mugabe seems to be on his last legs in Zimbabwe; the key question is whether he has the strength to steal an election and make it stick. J'accuse... the French Arabs- I missed the link to the piece I read earlier in the week, but the spate of anti-Jewish violence in France is due largely to French Arabs, not home-grown bigotry. Random Jottings had the perfect take for the Man from Plains-the Surrender Peanut. A fun take on both Bon Jovi and the Synoptic Gospels over at the Happy Fun Pundit. Great putdown by Triumph-go play a vampire; then you're supposed to suck. Uh-oh, another Randy guy. Philosophy update-I had misreported Hokie Pundit as a Augustinian, he reluctantly admits to being a Aquinas guy. I'd think Aquinas is more of a Catholic thang than Augustine, but proudly Catholic Louder Fenn comes in as 200 proof Augustinian. Thanks for the link, sir.

Quip du jour-"Immanuel Kant but Genghis Khan"-anon. Edifier du jour-"Blessed is the man who fears the LORD, who finds great delight in his commands." Psalm 112:1

Tuesday, February 26, 2002

Western Values Aren't Genetic- Going over Jonah's piece on Buchanan had me thinking of how American ideals aren't just white people's ideals. People move here because of our values and those core values will survive the arrival of most immigrants. I'm not sure how best to describe these American, or the hip word Anglospherian, values, but here's a quick stab at it. (1) Basic morality-e.g. the Ten Commandments and the Golden Rule-we'll fudge on how best to worship God, but those basic values are core. (2) Individual worth-each person is a child of God worth as much as the next guy. (3) Individual freedom as a general rule. A modest communitarian streak comes in, but people are allowed to do their own thing as the default value. (4) Representative Democracy, with occasional forays into direct democracy. (5) Limited government-how limited is an open question, but most issues are handled by individuals not government. These are things people of most religions (and even agnostics) can sign off on. Note there is nothing in these values that makes having white skin or speaking good English a must. People willing to come on board are welcome, regardless of their ancestry or religion. I haven't riffed on this yet in my blog, but I remember the anti-immigrant Know-Nothings of the pre-Civil-War era were staunchly anti-Irish, as they were afraid of Irish Catholics altering the largely Protestant US. Fast forward a century and a half, and the leader of their ideological descendants is a Irish Catholic named Buchanan. Hispanic and Asian immigrants will eventually learn English and emerge from the barrio; they largely share the values listed above.

The Check Out Lane Jonah's got an interesting take on Pitchfork Pat. Give it a read. I've got some comments on it that'll have to keep until tonight. Catching up on World Magazine from the last few weeks and found two good sequences. The March 2 edition has a good look at the history of Judaism, while the Feb 23 edition takes apart the Today's NIV Bible and its gender-neutral rewrite. If you like watching liberals squirm like cockroaches under the spotlight, check out Bill Moyer's rejoinder to last week's Stephen Hayes article.

An Augustinian Body- I took the Philosophy quiz that's been floating around Blogdom and came up as a 100% Augustinian. I didn't write down the other scores, but if memory serves, it was 83% Aquinas with the rest in the 60% and below. Seems like quite a few of my colleagues, including Mr. Holtsberry, Mr. Hokie Pundit [oops, not yet] and Ben Domenech, all rang up 100s on Augustinian. That show the disconnect with the Randy folks over at Samizdata. [outgoing Blogger's down, I'll add links later] [update-retook the exam to grab the stats-here they are Augustine 100 Aquinas 87 Spinoza 75 Bentham 72 Kant 62 Mill 60 Ockham –54 Aristotle-54 Epicureans-49 Rand-47 Prescriptiveism-46 Sarte-46 Niezsche-39 Stoics-39 Cynics-37 Hume-37 Plato-36 Hobbes-32 Noddings-27 Not the best of memories-there were some above 60%

Quip du jour-""Give me a one-handed economist! All my economist say, ’on one hand... on the other.’" Harry Truman Edifier du jour-"I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. " John 11:25-26

Telecom Blues-A new favorite, John Ellis, has been talking about some of the side-effects of the weakness in the telecom markets. However, the key problem, once you get past any accounting games, is that there's too much wire and not enough demand. Telecom companies rushed out to string cable to feed the broadband beast, but they overestimated demand and are stuck with a lot of available bandwidth that's hard to sell today. Here are some of the side effects he's written about. Convertible bonds- These combine a bond with a option to buy stock at a set price, usually 15-30% above the stock price at the time of issuance. The option will allow the company to get a discounted interest rate. However, as the stock price goes down and the prospects for the industry tanks, the option becomes near-worthless and the bond is left to fend for itself as a pure bond, thus raising the interest rates for new bonds or trashing the values of existing bonds. A understandable side-effect of the telecom meltdown. Commercial Paper-By definition, there is no junk-grade commercial paper. Not that you won't have an occasional default, but when initially issued, the company will be investment grade. Now that a lot of the telecom companies may have drifted into non-investment grade status, they'll be frozen out of the CP market.

Monday, February 25, 2002

New Religions or Tweaks of the Old?-Bryan Preston over at Junkyard Blog links to this interesting Atlantic piece, adding some good insights. I'll add few thoughts from the spiritual trenches. Syncretistic is the word of the day in this piece, where many Third World churches will combine their culture with Christian doctrine. If they are just adapting it to their culture rather than their existing native theology, then this poses little threat to orthodoxy. In fact, the Anglican church, among others, seems to hang onto its theology better in the southern hemisphere. However, as in the case of Umbanda and Cao Dai (or Santeria), if they are combining Christian symbols to their existing faith, then they're in trouble. If you look at it in this perspective of the article, the Vineyard movement (denomination isn't a well received term in many evangelical circles) is syncretistic with late-1900's American culture, taking charismatic theology and coupling it with modern music and the casualness of the Baby Boomer and Gen X generations. The joke at New Life Vineyard is "How can you tell the visiting speaker-he has the suit and tie on." While the Vineyard is a bit restrained in their worship compared to other charismatic/Pentecostal churches I've been in, the Toronto Airport Fellowship Church is open to almost any reaction to the overwhelming presence of God. I visited TACF four years ago; my dad's a big fan of theirs. They are a notch rowdier than Midland's Assembly of God outlet, Christian Celebration Center, and a couple of notches more uninhibited than New Life Vineyard. Toronto tends to draw people open to the Holy Spirit's presence; you'll have a tendency to get people in top decile of spiritualness showing up, which leads to more uninhibitedness. I saw why they got the left foot of disfellowship from the Vineyard; they were two notches too rowdy for them. Pastor Milton once described Torontoesque Judson Baptist in metro Flint as "hypercharismatic." However, there are many ways to worship God; Toronto is one of them. Many evangelicals (or others) without a strong footing in a particular denomination will tend to church shop when they move to a new town, looking for the right combination of music style, preaching style and substance, friendly Sunday Schools, good programs that fit a need, etc. There is a kernel of truth in Stark's religious economy model; people will look to go to the church that fits their needs and wants the best. This can also create some new mutations, such as the name-it-and-claim-it Prosperity Gospel types in charismatic circles or the Soka Gakkai Buddhists who appeal for people wanting to be spiritual and have the Good Life. Mainline churches will draw people wanting a spiritual dimension but not wanting to be too spiritually challenged. Churches will continue to mutate on theology, worship style and other issues that will make people feel more at home. The stolid Methodist church was a radical new evangelical movement a quarter-millennia ago. For instance, Toronto's Partners in Harvest protodenomination is a spinoff of the Vineyard which is a loose spinoff of the 20th century Pentecostal movement which is a spinoff of 19th century Holiness movements, etc. One shouldn't be surprised that new churches and movements spring up and old ones wither away.

The Perils of Pauline Theology-Justin Slotman paged me to take apart this critique of Paul's theology. Let's start with his opening gambit
The Apostle Paul was not one of the disciples of Jesus of Nazareth (Yahoshua Ben Yosef). Even by the earliest timelines, he didn't show up on the Christian scene till ten years after the execution of Jesus. He was, however, the father of Christianity. Without Paul there is no Christianity. Modern Christianity owes more to Paul than to Jesus. In this sense, most modern Christians are followers of Paul rather than followers of the example of Christ. Paul expresses ideas which directly contradict the message of Christ. Paul introduced meat eating, the divinity of Jesus, non-equality of women, belief instead of holiness, acceptance of slavery, and harmony with Roman law.
His first sentence sets the tone; “Yahoshua Ben Yosef”-translated “Jesus son of Joseph”-interesting backhanded swing at the Virgin Birth. Yes, Paul wasn’t one of the original disciples; indeed, he was an active persecutor of the early church, looking with favor at the stoning of Steven (Acts 6:8-8:1). Shortly thereafter, about 33AD (more like 3-5 years rather than the 10 above), Paul has the encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:1-19) that turns him into the Apostle to the Gentiles. It would be another 13 years before he starts on his missionary journeys. Paul did write the plurality of the New Testament. Let's break down these “introductions” meat eating-Not so. Leviticus had proscriptions against eating some animals, most notably pigs. However, Jews weren't vegetarians. Jesus doesn't discuss the issue. Paul talks in Romans 14 and I Corinthians 10 about two issues involving meat, most notable about how do deal with food sacrifice to idols. the divinity of Jesus-Again, not so. While there isn't a direct "I am God" quote in red letters, it's clear that Jesus was expressing that point. John 8:58 is the classic:
"I tell you the truth," Jesus answered, "before Abraham was born, I am!"
"I am" is God's name, the one stated as "the LORD" (all caps) in most Bibles. In Hebrew the word is Yahweh, badly translated in English as Jehovah. Not only is Jesus saying that he pre-dates Abraham, he's saying that he is God. Note that the Jews picked up stones in John 8:59 at this apparent blasphemy. There are plenty of other statement that other people make in the Gospels about his divinity (or at least Messiahship) (Mark 14-61:62,Matthew 16:15-17,Luke 4:41,) that aren't contradicted by Him. non-equality of women- A partial case. Paul's teachings on women are some of the hardest for an egalitarian to swallow. Jesus had no female disciples but did have many close female followers, such as sisters Mary and Martha. Acts points to many times where Paul had a special appeal to women in his travels. Paul had no female partners on his missions, but a married couple, Priscilla and Aquilla, were a key helpers in Corinth, and are frequently mentioned in his later writings. On a spiritual level, Paul is egalitarian, as 3:28-29 Galatians points out
There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.
That being said, there are some versus that aren't going to pass muster with NOW. 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 comes to mind
women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the Law says. If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church.
The cultural factor to remember from that day is that the sexes were separated in the services, so that talking to ones husband would require shouting and thus be disruptive. 1 Timothy 2:12 is a sticky one-
I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent.
I'll take some license on this one and note that he says "I don't..." rather that something stronger, making it good advice but not quite universal. You could write a book on the husband-wife relationship; despite the flap over male headship, it is mutual service that is Paul's trademark in all relationships. Paul does write "Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord" in Ephesisans 5:22 but also says "Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her" in verse 25. Both parties have high standards of serventhood, and the guy has the impossible task of a Christ-like love for his wife as his goal. This isn't designed as the guy as the little dictator. belief instead of holiness- OK-let's try John 3:16, out of Jesus' mouth, on for size. "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." (my italics) True, Paul does elaborate that it's by faith, not works, that we are saved. Ephesians 2:8-9 comes to mind-"For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God--not by works, so that no one can boast." However, that elaborates on, not contradicts, Jesus message. acceptance of slavery-A bum rap-Jesus doesn't speak about slavery except as a metaphor, most prominently in John 8:33-35. Paul uses the metaphor of slavery (to sin or to Christ) frequently; Slave traders are a vile bunch, sitting in the same class as murderers, in Paul's eyes. Paul does say in Colossians 3:22-"Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to win their favor, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord." but it is in the context of giving your selfless best in any relationship. In Titus 2:9-10 he also wants slaves to obey their masters, but again, it is part of a section on proper behavior for all believers. No, Paul wasn't Frederick Douglas or William Lloyd Garrison on the issue, but he wasn't a fan of it, either. harmony with Roman law. Well, what about Matthew 22:21 "Give to Caesar what is Caesar's, and to God what is God's" Both Paul and Jesus were falsely imprisoned by the Romans. This guy has a severe Unitarian (at best) streak, not wanting to have Jesus be God. Note the "Atheists for Jesus" link under the "few good questions" link. He also seems to want a afterlife determined by works, which is what Jesus came to save us from. His choice of quote material is telling. Walter Kaufman was most noted for translating Nietzsche into English. Nietzsche wasn't a fan of Christian theology , to put it mildly. While noted as a medical humanitarian, Albert Schweitzer was also a liberal critic of Pauline theology and one of the early seekers of the "historical Jesus" stripped of the supernatural trappings. Durant was a noted secular historian that was critical of Trinitarian theology and the idea of God in general. My best polite response: this piece is suitable for use as manure or as bad atheist propaganda, if that isn't redundant.

The Game is Afoot-Sharon Calls Saudi Bluff- Despite ongoing violence, including two Israeli's killed this afternoon, and a bus station attak this evening Israel time, Sharon has decided to invite Crown Prince Abdullah's to discuss his comprehensive peace proposal. Now the Saudis have the quandry; do they accept the offer to come talk to Israelis face-to-face and be seen recognizing Israel or do they start slapping on conditions?

The NHL All-Star Tournament- A Modest Proposal- Here's a suggestion for giving the NHL All-Star Game a boost. Instead of North America versus Europe, let's do an 8 team tourney. We'll take the big six powers and add teams for Eastern Europe and Western Europe to give the guys from the other countries an outlet. The league breaks on a Wednesday with the tourney starting Saturday. Base the first seeds on the Olympics, with our Eastern Europe team getting the Belarus spot. If we get stars from outside of North America or Europe someday, slap them on to one of the at-large European teams. Grab the guys who did the Michigan-Michigan State Spartan Stadium "Cold War" setup to do the logistics of putting a rink into a domed football-sized stadium. All times EST.
East Regional-Pontiac Silverdome (2) United States vs. (7) Finland -11:00AM (3) Russia vs. (6) Czech Rep.-6PM West Regional- BC Place, Vancouver (4) Eastern Europe vs. (5) Sweden-2:30PM (1) Canada vs. (8) Western Europe-9:30PM
The winners will meet at the quarterfinal locals on Tuesday night, with the east final starting at 6PM and the west final starting at 9:30. Then on Thursday, the finals from the SkyDome. The league can go back to normal on Saturday. How's that for a plan?

Shoddy journalism at the WaTi- This piece on immigration issues got my attention; but not for the intended reason. This piece on the threats of a US-Mexico border war, from a anti-immigration beauzeau named Glenn Spencer, was all but a press release for his rants du jour. The guy' s to the right (if anti-immigration is conservative) of Phil Gramm. Derb mentions his shabby treatment by Newsday two years ago when his group made it to Nuevo York, but this piece went the other direction. If we can call out the left-leaning press when they edit a press release of a liberal group and send it out as news, we should do the same when the right-leaning press gets comparably sloppy. I saw much that same problem with this Howard Phillips anti-abortion piece the Times ran last monthlast month. Newspeople, I'm looking for some level of screening and journalism, not just giving people you agree with a free rant space.

Quip du jour-"We don't want to make Canada the 51st state. We want to make Alberta the 51st state, BC the 52nd ...."-anon. Edifier du jour-"The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full." John 10:10

Sunday, February 24, 2002

Savimbi RIP? There was footage in Angolan TV of the alleged dead body of Jonas Savimbi. If so, it might help bring the civil war there to an end. In his early days, Savimbi was used by the white South Africans and the US to counter a Marxist government; at the end, it seemed more personal than political.

Haven't fallen off the planet-just a bit busy since yesterday afternoon. Wellstone's MS- Has anyone made the President Bartlet comparisons yet? Sen Wellstone has a mild case of MS, as does the fictional West Wing character. Wellstone is one of the most Bartletesque person in Washington. However, it looks like Wellstone wasn't hiding it. [2-25 Update-The NYT did today. I had Bartlet ending in two t's until now. However, I do think I got their first] Is Cocky Canadians an Oxymoron?-After a 5-2 hockey win, the Canadians rule Olympic hockey. Let's see how the Loonie opens tomorrow. I'm putting off a further comment on creation stuff for now. I've been looking at where the state of "creation science" is the last two days. While I'm not quite ready to endorse it as a science, there's more there than just "God did it." I may have a post on the topic later in the week.

Quip du jour- "To err is human; to really screw things up, you need a computer"-anon. Edifier du jour: "God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning--the sixth day."-Genesis 1:31 (While we look at the how, let's not forget the who.)

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