Saturday, June 11, 2005


Wait For It!

As if the death of American soldiers and the needless induction of fear, anxiety and frustration in the families of other soldiers in the same unit were not enough grief (HT:Blackfive), some schmucks that figure the lives of US soldiers are best used to serve their domestic political agendas, just cannot wait for bad news, and have to start the hammering before the facts are known. (HT: Dadmanly)

Last Thursday some soldiers were killed in a rocket attack. Upon further investigation, it appears something else, though what is not known just yet, may have been at play. Here is the bottom line from the CNN story
"Upon further examination of the scene by explosive ordnance personnel, it was determined the blast pattern was inconsistent with a mortar attack," the document states.

The Army is looking at a number of scenarios, including accidental death, attack by an intruder or infiltrator -- and fragging, which is the killing or wounding of a fellow soldier.
There are several points to be made right now
  1. The use of the term "fragging" is, I must assume, purposefully inflammatory on the part of CNN. Note that that term does not appear in the quotation of the Army report. That term, with its implied references to Vietnam, which it took the HuffPo idiot linked above all but minutes to capitalize on, serves no useful purpose. American-on-American violence, awful as it is, can happen for any number of reasons; morale problems as implied in the use of that term, being just one of them and at this juncture completely unsubstantiated.
  2. CNN uses that term amidst and number of other scenarios, but sets it off by the use of hyphens -- as if denying that the other scenarios hold any possibility of reality. Again, this belies an obvious bias on the part of CNN and serves only to degrade morale amongst our men and women serving. This is a classic case of the US press working purposefully to undermine our military objectives.
  3. When the only thing that is know at this juncture is that the blast damage is inconsistent with a mortar attack, what purpose is served by speculating what happened? Again, the only motive I can see is to attack the military and to undermine it. At this point, we do not know what happened!

It seems to me that the best course of action at this point is to SUPPORT the military. This single incident does not indicate a problem within our military, with its management, mission, or objectives. This single incident says only one thing -- someone over there is a criminal, maybe a sleeper agent, who knows? There is simply no evidence that there is a problem with the military and its actions in general. HuffPo, CNN, and all the others that jump on this need to be called into account. They need to be called into account for everything from speculation to bad vocabulary choices. If you are a blogger, please post about this. If not, please leave comments for the bloggers and reporters that get this so wrong.

Our military does not need this, and we should not allow it to happen to them.


Wise Words

Geopolitics is not really my thing, but I try and stay read up. Victor Davis Hanson usually gets it right, and never more so than this NRO piece on India and China. Here is a taste
As nations come to know the Chinese, and as a ripe Europe increasingly cannot or will not defend itself, the old maligned United States will begin to look pretty good again. More important, America will not be the world?s easily caricatured sole power, but more likely the sole democratic superpower that factors in morality in addition to national interest in its treatment of others.

China is strong without morality; Europe is impotent in its ethical smugness. The buffer United States, in contrast, believes morality is not mere good intentions but the willingness and ability to translate easy idealism into hard and messy practice.

Most critics will find such sentiments laughable or naïve; but just watch China in the years to come. Those who now malign the imperfections of the United States may well in shock whimper back, asking for our friendship. Then the boutique practice of anti-Americanism among the global elite will come to an end.
My travels to China were unlike any other travels I have ever made. It is an utterly foreign place -- I could find no common ground with the Chinese, unlike any other place in the world I have been. That makes them scary to me -- I cannot get a clue what motivates them. Thus I think Hansen is dead on here, and we need to heed his words.


Music To Bloggers

Gallup: Public Confidence in Newspapers, TV News Falls to All-Time Low
Trust in institutions in general is down, but the drop in MSM is the most significant. Time for us to step up!


Who Can Resist...

...a headline like this?
Giant Balls of 'Snot' Explain Ocean Mystery
Trust me it get's worse.
Scientists have discovered giant sinking mucus "houses" that double the amount of food on the sea floor.

The mucus houses, or "sinkers," are produced by tadpole-like animals not much bigger than your index finger. As sinkers drop to the sea floor, small sea critters and other food particles get stuck to the mucus and end up on the bottom of the ocean.

For years scientists have observed loads of life at the bottom of the ocean. But they weren?t able to find enough food ? carbon ? to support all that life. Sinkers, previously overlooked, may help fill that gap.
So now we have a new mystery to solve. Does this news, when viewed in light of the picture below, elevate deep sea life, or say something negative about England's monarch?


10 Reasons Its Embarassing To Live In California

  1. Barbara Boxer
  2. Barbara Boxer
  3. Barbara Boxer
  4. Barbara Boxer
  5. Barbara Boxer
  6. Barbara Boxer
  7. Barbara Boxer
  8. Barbara Boxer
  9. Barbara Boxer
  10. Barbara Boxer

Here's the reason why. It would be much easier to be represneted by a liberal if she wasn't such a a knee-jerk, reactionary, damn-the-torpedoes kind of liberal. There are not many votes I would share with Feinstein, but at least I don't feel like I need a shower efery time I read about her.


Time To Tame The Rhetoric

This article reflects conduct unbecoming on both sides of the legislative aisle.
Rep. James Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., chairman of the panel, abruptly gaveled the meeting to an end and walked out, followed by other Republicans. Sensenbrenner declared that much of the testimony, which veered into debate over the detainees at Guantanamo Bay, was irrelevant.

Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., protested, raising his voice as his microphone went off, came back on, and went off again.

"We are not besmirching the honor of the United States, we are trying to uphold it," he said.

Democrats asked for the hearing, the 11th the committee has held on the act since April, saying past hearings had been too slanted toward witnesses who supported the law. The four witnesses were from groups, including Amnesty International USA and the American Immigration Lawyers Association, that have questioned the constitutionality of some aspects of the act, which allows law enforcement greater authority to investigate suspected terrorists.
For starters, Sensenbrenner is right in the stance that witnesses have to stick to the issue at hand, and if someone has constitutionality questions about an existing law it is the court's business, not the legislature's. But, it is just a crying shame he could not find a better way to get the idea across, although Cheat Seeking Missles seemed to love it.

I have a theory, libs win because they are willing to be rude, whereas we are not. They put us in positions where it appears we have to be rude. I believe it is possible to be firm without being rude. In this case, Sensenbrenner should have gone through the motions. Gavelled down every irrelevant witness, one by one. It would have actually made a much uglier scene, but at least the other side would have made it.


Harmful Reading

Evangelical Outpost is wondering about the most "harmful" book in history. Joe makes the case for the Bible. He also makes one GREAT funny.
...Freud?s Introduction to Psychoanalysis is directly responsible for producing Woody Allen.
BUt there is a bigger point Joe makes, without exploring.
Many other works on the list are also given credit for being more influential ? and presumably more harmful ? than they deserve. Marxism is undoubtedly a harmful ideology. But the number of Marxists who have actually read "Das Kapital" is likely to be even fewer than the number of Calvinists who have read "Institutes of Christian Religion." The same holds true for "Democracy and Education," "The Course of Positive Philosophy," "Beyond Good and Evil," and "General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money." They may contain harmful ideas but the impact is largely independent of the book?s influence.
That fact is true for pretty much any book. The harm is generally not the book, and often not the idea the book contains, but the way the idea flows and morphs through a population, and how the populations reacts to it. To use Joe's examplar book, the Bible contains good ideas, but it has been used and abused in many harmful ways.

The point? People are evil and harmful, not ideas or words. That is why there had to be a Jesus to fulfill the law. It is people that do harm, and it is a person that can change that. That is, in my opinion, the greatest single truth of the New Testament.


Comic Art

Ever wonder what would happen to Robin, the Boy Wonder when he grew up?

He becomes Nightwing!

Appearing here with Catwoman, Dick Grayson is Nightwing. Unless you are a fan, you probably don't know that Batman is on Robin 3 or 4 depending on how you read the continuity, while Grayson, the original, now has his own book and career.

He impressed me from the first time he rolled out the Nightwing identity in Teen Titans. Note the transitional costume between Robin and the current Nightwing in the top picture. While it looks somewhat dated now, it blew me away the first time I saw it. The mask is spectacular, and original. Variations started to show up elsewhere like when Kyle Rainer became Green Lantern, but the original remains the best.

The current costume is nice, but a little too plain for my taste, but the mask is intact and that counts for a lot. The current costume is; however, in keeping with the way they are currently writing the character which is pretty straight ahead. While definitely his own man, Nightwing still very much operates in the shadow of the Batman, and I hope that changes soon.

Grayson/Nightwing deserves the big time. He has started to accumulate a good set of villians, but they have yet to find that one key baddie. I also think he visuals should be improved. A cape would be too much, but some great toy that deploys when needed and creates the image of a cape would be great. He also needs a serious vehicle.

I'm really "drawn" to this character. I hope he continues to improve.


Och! -- It's Nessie

Could it be a large tooth from the famed Loch Ness monster that some believe stalks the depths of the Scottish lake ? or just an antler that broke off a local deer during a fight with another animal?

I'm betting on the later.


Give Blood

No really, do it now. The entire nation of Ireland has cancelled all elective surgeries due to a shortage.

Most people don't know this, but demand is increasing greatly, not becasue of greater illness or injury, but because of new and very effective therapies that use more blood and blood products. It is possible, even if expensive to ship blood overseas, so the fact that you are here and the problme is there does not hold water. It does not take long. Do it today.


Now THIS Is Catblogging

My wife and I have had to work extra hard in the last month or so to be cat owners. I will not bore you with the details. But that fact made me both relate to and laugh at this story.
Two kittens picked the wrong place to relieve themselves when they urinated on a fax machine, sparking a fire that extensively damaged their Japanese owner's house.

Investigators in the western city of Kobe have concluded that the fire in January was caused by a spark generated when the urine soaked the machine's electrical printing mechanism.
I really want to know what this fax machine looked like. It is absolutely instinctive for cat's to do that somewhere they can scratch, and I don't know of a "scratchable" fax machine. But one of the local fireman that responded to the scene wins the "obvious statement of the year award."
"If you have a cat, or a dog for that matter, be careful where they urinate," Oyabu said. "Especially keep them away from electrical appliances and wires."
Anybody here a Ren and Stimpy fan?
When nature's callin'
Don't be stallin'
Use your common sense
Before you let it flow
Find a place to go
Just don't whiz on the electric fence

If you're gonna explode
You can use the commode
Of igloos, cave dwellings or tents
No need to explain when you gotta drain
Just don't whiz on the electric fence

You can swizzle on the sofa
Piddle in the air
Tinkle in the toilet
That's why it is there
(Toilet flushing)

You can let it rain
In the breakdown lane
While waving at ladies and gents
Just don't whiz on...
Don't whiz on
Don't whiz on the electric fence.

No! No! No! No! Wiiiiizzzzz!

(electric sounds)


The Greatest Blog Post Ever Written

Finally, Something Form HuffPo I Agree With

This from Harry Shearer. Normally, I can't take much of Harry, but when he is right, he is right.
I know advertising lies like a mother. I know you can't believe movie trailers. But wouldn't cable news channels think twice about tainting their (cough) credibility with promotional announcements that are demonstrably false?
Harry has been in the media game far too long not to know how it's played. Not sure why he is picking on the particular promo he is just becasue it's for news, but he's got a point. Just once, I'd like to see a promo that said something like, "Not the best television show you'll ever watch, but it will give you an excuse to sit still and take a nap."


Flash Animation Fun

You can thank Assumption of Command for this, but you may not want to when it's over.

First, watch this cartoon, it's actually the story of my high school football coach who, being from southern Indiana, pronounced "fishing" as "feeshing" and never did undertand why we snickered so much.

Then watch this one. It is perhaps the dullest piece of animation ever made, but watch it until the bitter end -- there is an actual punchline that will make you want to throw things at your monitor.


When Animal Attack

It's cows in Nigeria and crows in London.
Nigerian police have arrested a cow that killed a bus driver who was urinating on a highway, a police spokesman said Thursday.
Urination marks territory, chances are good this guy invaded the cows territory and she defended it. Straghtforward.
Joggers are today being warned about violent crows in London parks after an attack left a man bloodied and needing hospital treatment.

Justin Keay was swooped on by two crows in what experts have called a severe case of "mobbing" - where two or more birds gang up on an assumed predator to keep them away from their young.
At least the article explains it this time.

I don't know why, but it really bugs me that we are becoming so "civilized" that we cannot even figure out how to behave around very common animals. I live in the middle of one of the largest cities in the world, and even I have enough common sense to stay away from any animal's young unless I have a previously developed trust relationship with that animal.

Among the mandatory training that people should probably have (overseas travel being #1) should be a few weeks on the farm and a few weeks camping, just to remember the world is bigger than than the few city blocks where they live.

Friday, June 10, 2005


Michael Jackson - Innocent!

NOT! But this post is a blatant attempt to see what kind of search engine traffic I could gin up with that post title. Hey, don't blame me, blame Holy Coast -- it was his idea.

I feel really sorry for anyone landing here to see if it's true. What should we call this? -- Google-baiting? Search Engine Fahoodling? Hit Trolling?

Angry comments likely to accumulate below.


Pay For Your Unwarranted Guilt

I heard about this a few days ago and could not quite believe it.
AS SOON as he learned the ugly truth, the chairman of financial-services giant Wachovia Corp. issued a remorseful nostra culpa. "We are deeply saddened by these findings," Ken Thompson said last week. "I apologize to all Americans, and especially to African-Americans." Wachovia acknowledged that it "cannot change the past or atone for the harm that was done." But it promised to make amends by subsidizing the work of organizations involved in "furthering awareness and education of African-American history."
Clearly Wachovia committed some shameful racial crime. What could it have been? Did the nation's fourth-largest bank holding company rob its black depositors of their savings? Charge exorbitant interest rates on loans to black customers? Segregate its branches?

Worse: It owned slaves.

Well, not exactly. The 13th Amendment abolished slavery in 1865, and Wachovia wasn't founded until 1879. The slaves for which Thompson was so apologetic were owned decades before the Civil War, when slavery was still lawful throughout the South. They were owned not by Wachovia but by the Bank of Charleston and the Georgia Railroad and Banking Co. -- two of the approximately 400 financial institutions dating back to 1781 that over the centuries merged with or were acquired by other institutions that eventually became part of the conglomerate known today as Wachovia.
Civil rights activism has, in many cases, been almost purely extortion for quite some time now. But at least it has been on the QT. But now it is becoming institutionalized in the form of the reparations movement.
Ordinances like Chicago's are the cutting edge of the slavery-reparations movement, which insists that black Americans today are owed billions of dollars in compensation for the slavery of centuries past.
Here is what I am wondering -- is the reparations movement a result of the welfare state? Think about it. Blacks, as a percentage of their total population, have benefitted from welfare and other social assistance programs disproportionally. Thus the skill most developed by the black community in recent years has been collecting money from the government. Therefore, it is natural that they would turn to something like the reparations movement.

Here is what really bothers me -- in an attempt to assuage our collective guilt over slavery, blacks find themselves in a continued state of dependency, and in a real sense, slavery to the government teet. Does not sound like justice to me. Obviously reparations will not help.


Liberal Christians

More and more, Christians with liberal political views are stepping up.
Tony Campolo is a tireless campaigner for social justice, especially for the poor, for the environment and for oppressed populations in the Third World. Like Carter, he is also an evangelical Christian ? a Baptist minister, in fact.

Although many Americans see evangelicalism as a monolithic construct, ?in reality, there are a whole lot of us evangelicals who think differently,? said Campolo, who founded the Evangelical Association for the Promotion of Education.
Tony Campolo is one of the best Christian speakers I have ever heard. It saddens me that he is throwing into this discussion in this fashion.

But be that as it may, here is what is really bothering me. The so-called "progressive," or liberal, Christians don't seem to be thinking straight.
If leaders of the progressive evangelical movement had their way, social activism would be divorced from politics. They envision a day when all of the awesome organizational skills and economic power of the conservative evangelical structure could be brought to bear on feeding the hungry, housing the homeless and leveling the uneven playing field of modern society.
Hey, wait a minute -- ultimately, that's what I think, and I ain't progressive. Feeding the poor is the church's business -- NOT governments, it should be apart from politics. The rub comes that we have to be politically active to get government out of it.

This says to me that conservative and liberal Christians really do only differ on the issues that the left decries the right for focusing on too much -- same-sex marruage, abortion, etc. Isn't that a revolting development - well at least for the Christian left which accuses us of being reactionary.


Playing Along

Never one to buck a trend, I'll fall into the Jeff Foxworthy trap as have Eternal Perspectives -- Jollyblogger -- Adrian Warnock -- Semper Refomanda -- Common Grounds Online.

There, I feel better now.


How To Tell A Great Song?

So reading Christweb I ran across this post talking about a new Paul Anka record doing swing versions of recent rock hits.

Curious, I went looking and found this site where you can sample all the tracks.

It's not as bad as you might think. Some of the cuts are pretty awful, but some are stupendous. My fav? - "True" originally by Spandau Ballet, maybe because even in its pop arrangement it had some swing to it. Billy Idol's "Eyes Without a Face" holds up remarkably well also. I was really rooting for Clapton's "Tears in Heaven," but the clip never got to the hook so it was hard to tell.

Anyway, that set me to wondering -- if a song handles a new arrangmenet well, does that make it a great song? I certainly feel that way about some. My favorite of all time - "Shameless" written by Billy Joel, but rearranged magnificiently by Garth Brooks.

The more I think about it, the more I think this is true. Good lyrics and a strong melody will stand up to just about any arrangement. Cuts that sound fantastic in one genre, but don't hold up are likely too gimmicky -- a pleasant collection of sounds perhaps, but not necessarily rising to the level of a song.


Yeah, But Can It Swim?

DaimlerChrysler AG showed off a diesel-powered prototype car with a body based on a 4-inch-long Pacific coral reef fish and said the vehicle will help cut fuel use and emissions.
How do you get into a 4-inch car?


Friday Humor

A priest and pastor from the local parishes are standing by the side of the road holding up a sign that reads, "The End is Near! Turn yourself around now before it's too late!" They planned to hold up the sign to each passing car. "Leave us alone you religious nuts!" yelled the first driver as he sped by. From around the curve they heard screeching tires and a big splash. "Do you think," said one clergy to the other, "we should just put up a sign that says 'Bridge Out' instead?"


This video is good for a smile, so watch it and grin!


Car Chase!

Car chases are about the best thing on television out here in SoCal. But it looks like they got us beat in Cyprus.
Control tower workers raised the alarm after seeing a car speeding under parked aircraft at Larnaca airport on Cyprus's southeast coast.

A Cyprus Airways jet which had just landed had to change course to avoid collision. "The car was heading straight for us," the pilot said.
Right out of an action flick, huh? The amazing thing is that generally, when they finally apprehend the guy, it usually started over a broken taillight of some such nonsense -- but this Cyprus incident "takes the cake."
The man was being questioned by police, who suspect he was fleeing after being caught taking cookies from a nearby bakery.
Those must have been SOME cookies.


Ever Wonder Why There Are Rules?

Dadmanly explains it pretty well.
As is the practice here in Iraq, the Command shuts down phone and internet connections for 24-48 hours, long enough for the Military to contact affected families.

Let me tell you why that is so important.

One of the idiots here who doesn't understand the very good reasons for the blackout, placed an anonymous call just before the blackout was imposed, saying 4 soldiers of our Division were killed, maybe more injured.

An equally idiotic (no, make that even more idiotic) news editor or reporter called Mrs. Dadmanly at home, told her about the anonymous tip, and asked her if she had heard any news? The reporters involved apparently contacted several family members.

Needless to say, with the rest of us on blackout, my wife was a basket case, as were many other family members and friends.
If you don't understand after reading something like that....

Join me in praying for Dadmanly's family. They deserve a whole lot better than this.



Back in May, I introduced Blogotional's Ugh Award. Yesterday, I was reading Gad(d)about and he reminded me of Christian satire magazine Wittenberg Door's old feature Truth Is Stranger Than Fiction.

That feature is a gold mine of Ugh winners, so I just have to award a few. Here's the first:

Say it with me: UGH!


This Is Really 'Bugging' Me

The bug that causes potentially deadly staph infections in hospitals can survive for weeks on a bed sheet or a computer keyboard, a new study finds.

Staph is the most common hospital-born infection in the United States. Consequences range from mild discomfort to death.
So says Remember when we learned that people were trying to force Bibles out of hospitals because they might spread infection. So, are we going to organize to eliminate bedsheets as well?
A group of Colombian scientists believe they've found a way to wipe out cocaine production: unleash an army of hungry moth caterpillars.
According to FOXNews, some people are bugged by this idea though.
Ricardo Vargas, director of the Colombian environmental group Andean Action, contended that while the moths may be native to this region, there's nothing natural about releasing thousands of them into small areas. The tropics have the world's most diverse plant life, he said, so the moths would likely threaten other plants as well.

"With a plan like this, the chance for ecological mischief is very high and very dangerous," Vargas said.
Oh no, we can't risk saving people from a hideous addiction if some plants might suffer. Priorities people, priorities.


Birth Addiction?

This story is really a vain attempt to argue that people that do not "selective harvest" fetus' that have been implanted via invitro fertilization and a certain developmental period are nuts. I cannot agree with that angle, but I still have to wonder if these people are a taco or two short of a six-pack.
A QUEENSLAND woman is pregnant with quads for the second time in what is believed to be a world first.

Dale Chalk, 26, is due to give birth to her second consecutive set of quads in December.

Mrs Chalk and her husband Darren, 34, a security guard, became parents to quads last August using an anonymous sperm donor through the Queensland Fertility Group. They also have a daughter, Shelby, 2, conceived using the same donor.
I have some friends that had triplets years ago. The kids are all healthy and happy adults now, but when they were kids, it took extraordinary effort to be their parent. I'll never forget when they were babies and I showed up at the house and all of them were crying and the mom, completed exasperated, just shoved one at me without a word and continued tending to the other two.

Eight kids under the age of two -- on purpose?! We better check these people for superpowers.

Thursday, June 09, 2005


What Do Your Misguided Beliefs Cost You?

Evangelical Outpost had an interesting post the other day that was about stem cells. Good post, but I found it particularly intriguing how it began.
Stress causes ulcers.

Until a few decades ago, almost everyone ? even medical experts ? considered that simple claim to be true. Even after Drs. J. Robin Warren and Barry J. Marshall discovered that the main culprit was not stress but bacteria, few people were convinced enough to change their opinion.

Driven to frustration by the refusal of his colleagues to accept the conclusion, Dr. Marshall used his own body as a test case and drank a beakerful of Helicobacter pylori. The nasty bacterial brew did indeed cause an ulcer and two weeks later Marshall began taking the antibiotic tinidazole. His symptoms resolved within twenty-four hours.

Like most of us, Marshall's fellow doctors held beliefs that were false. But because they did not themselves suffer from ulcers, it was a comparatively "low stakes" belief; the price they paid for believing it was relatively low. They only changed their minds after it became worth it to do so.

How do we decide whether we should change our minds about a belief? "Economics provides a simple, almost trivial sounding, answer," says economist David Cox. "Believe something when the benefits of believing outweigh the costs, otherwise don't."
That is so true about so many things. Why does the perception that obesity kills persist in spite of the evidence? Because there is a multi-billion dollar industry devoted to helping people loose weight. If that perception (belief) changed, lots of people would have to find a new way to make a living. Doctors would lose face because they could no longer tell someone "why" they had a heart attack. Airlines would have to build bigger seats, cutting passenger loads, reducing margins on a given flight. Need I go on?

Why does the press always report bad news? Because it sells! Therefore, in order to live with themselves, they have to come to believe the world is a truly rotten place and every administration is there to pull something over on the country.

Why does junk science persist? Because people are willing to pay for it!

As bloggers, we need to examine this concept carefully. Why do we blog, and why do we blog about what we blog about? Most of us don't see a dime, but there is a benefit to it -- community, some meek form of fame, emotional ventilation.... Does that affect our blogging? Should it affect our blogging?

I think these question will make us all better bloggers.


Jim Wallis -- Bobo Doll

In case you don't know this is a bobo doll:

You just keep hitting them and they just keep coming back for more.

Jim Wallis is deservedly such a person. He is a left-wing Christian, trying to disguise himself as a moderate. Everytime I have ever encountered him he has annoyed me with two critical mistakes:
  1. He assumes commandments God gave the church apply equally to the government ("feed my sheep" = food stamps, not church-run soup kitchen)
  2. He acts as if current conservative concerns (same-sex marriage, abortion) are trivial matters.

But this post is not about me, it's about some questions SmartChristian is asking and Jollyblogger inadvertently is answering.

Andy at SmartChristian wonders if Wallis' assertion that Christian public policy efforts should be guided by OT prophets is valid. Of course, not having read Wallis' book (blood pressure issues), I am not entirely sure what he means by the assertion. I'll assume he means that we, like the prophets, are supposed to stand on the boundaries and point out to everybody what they are doing that is not within God's will. There is one other thing to note, in OT prophetic times, the Israelites were in bondage. They had no opportunity to control their political destiny.

Jollyblogger says this

This is where Chalberg hits the nail on the head. Chesterton says the problem with the world today is me - change me and change the world. Falwell and Wallis say the problem with the world is you, or ya'll. If I can change ya'll I can change the world. How can I change ya'll? Politics of course.
Sounds like David thinks Wallis is way off on this one.

I think there is more of a middle road here. First of all, in response to David's (and Chesterton's) point -- there is a danger in just "working on me" - narcissism. So much of the nanny-state, do-gooder left would proclaim, rightfully so, that they were working on themselves. Christ's example is naught but in humility, sacrificing self for the sake of others -- He to worked to change the world, but He did it in a very different manner. I think it better to say "Change individuals -- change the world." That's Christ's example.

I agree with David; however, that the OT prophet model is not the way to go for Christian political activism. The best Christian political activism is by being good Christians in politics. Which is why I went out of my way earlier to point out that the Israelites had no political franchise. They could not act to as leven in the political process because they had no role -- the prophetic model was the only option left to them. But we are in quite different circumstances -- we have a political franchise, and it is our duty as citizens and Christians to exercise it.

Because we are a body, there are many Christians that will not be politically inclined, fine, don't blog about it, don't volunteer for campaigns. But those that are so inclined should do so with gusto. God did not call us to stay out of politics -- He called us to be true to our setting. In America, that means participate in politics.


Wish I Had An Answer

Eternal Perspectives had a great post on a problem he is struggling with. You really need to read the whole post to understand it completely, so please to so, then come back. I'll wait.....

...Good, you're back. I relate to this in every way. From the non-ordained religious education to the youth in Indiana. (Actually Mike doesn't mention that in the post, but I happen to know we share it.) Here is Mike's conclusion
Am I getting old? Or am I getting wise? Or do I not care anymore about the church? Those are the questions I struggled with over the past week, and I still don?t have an answer. Until I do, it will be difficult for me to think about or focus on much else. (I won?t even get into whether or not my time should be spent on my local church or blogging: both are ministry - to me - but which is the higher priority? I think I know the answer, but I just don?t like it.)
My advice? -- blog! Here's why -- Individuals make up the body of Christ -- denominations and congregations are simply tools to organize that, and it is often the case that the tool becomes more important than it's purpose. (Come on guys, how many of us have cut wood just because we love using the power saw? - Guilty as charged, but I find a router even more fun.)

When I get to the point that Mike describes, and I have been for several years now, I "drop out" of church work -- committees, meetings, programs, and I drop into people. I lead small groups, I teach small studies, and lately, I blog. Mostly I go back and touch people like I hope Jesus would touch them. I remember Jesus came for them, not to build a church, a doctrine, or a theology.


Illuminated Scripture

I really like this one, I think it's great!


News From EOD In Iraq

Heard from Jared again:

Hello from Fort Tal Afar! We are just now getting settled in to our new home. We are not on one of the American Forward Operating Bases but rather at an Iraqi base that was an old Iraqi prison (this makes us feel real good!). It houses about 700 Iraqi Army soldiers and about 140 US soldiers. 1st Platoon is assigned to support H Troop, 2nd Squadron, 3rd Calvary Regiment. We are about 3 miles to the east of the town of Tal Afar, which is the first major town this side of the Syrian border (which is less than 30 miles away). We are approximately 10 miles from the nearest base and the town of Tal Afar is in between us. I feel like I?m back in Arcadia as we are near a lot of farm communities. We are still working on getting some American food here (something besides rice and lamb) but the Iraqi soldiers are a good group of guys. They play soccer almost every night in the ?prison? courtyard.

The guys are doing very well and our workload has really increased. We are also doing some really good engineer missions. We have several projects on the schedule to include blowing up a building that the terrorists use as cover from one of our lookout positions to place IED?s. This building is a two-story concrete building so it should make a pretty large explosion.

The other day we conducted a cordon and search in the town which is where we have tanks take up a blocking position which keeps the enemy from getting in or out and we move in actually go through the buildings. We found one man who was on the ?Most Wanted List? for northern Iraq as he is was the chief videographer for the insurgents in this area. We have really gotten into the fight quite a bit more as we do more and more of these missions of going into suspected terrorists homes in the middle of the night. It is good to find these known terrorists and take them away in handcuffs.

Please continue to pray for us as we continue to try to bring peace to the people of Iraq. I also pray that God continues to bless you and your family!

Romans 1:11-12 I long to see you so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong-that is, that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other?s faith.

For God and Country, Jared


Not Sure What To Make Of This

The Tulsa Zoo will add a display featuring the biblical account of creation following complaints to a city board about other displays with religious significance, including a Hindu elephant statue.
I absolutely love the reasoning that lead to this decision:
But those who favored the creationist exhibit, including Mayor Bill LaFortune, argued that the zoo already displayed religious items, including the statue of the Hindu god, Ganesh, outside the elephant exhibit and a marble globe inscribed with an American Indian saying: "The earth is our mother. The sky is our father."
But I worry -- so many are putting so much importance in the creation story. I believe God created the earth, I really do, and that fact is essential is establishing who God is, but beyond that, the 7 day story is not real important to the Gospel. I wonder about the prirorites as the creationism fight continues.


Lileks Hates It...

...When his pontificating gets in the way of writing about his daughter's life. So he has opened a blog just for opining. Read and enjoy, you can never go wrong reading Lileks.


Space Guns

Those in the know, know that we have a spacecraft headed for a comet this summer. It's going to shoot a projectile at the comet and attempt to collect some debris so we can see what a comet is really made of.

But did you know that the Japanese are doing essentially the same thing to an asteroid? Although I wonder why. COmets have never, as far as we know, survived the trip through the atmosphere to impact the earth -- we have to go out there to check them out.

Asteroids, on the other had, are the stuff of meteors, and there are all kinds of those laying around.


Good Reading

The Scriptorum posts on the ever dwindling doctrine of God's judgement.

And in a bit of self-reference, Allthings2all has a "good reading" post interviewing the author of some good reading.

Both are highly recommended.


Bad Values Cost

I think we all know that, but none more than this.
A 6-year-old girl darted into traffic to save a turtle and was killed when she was hit by a car, officials said....

...Geraldine Kent pulled over so they could help, and Emily jumped out as her mother screamed at her to wait, friends said. The first-grader was struck by a car and died of her injuries. No charges had been filed.
It is ugly to see the turtle die in this fashion, but it is a lot uglier to see Emily so die.

I also have graves concerns about a mother that would pull over to begin with, particularly when she has so little control over her child. This is a tragedy that carries with it grave lessons.


Fish Stories

My family is from Mississippi. Been there, done this.
Hand fishing for catfish, or "noodling (search)," is a tradition with deep roots among rural fishermen across the South.

In the practice, catfish aren't caught with a rod, a reel or a net but with the fisherman's bare hands.
Great when you're a kid, too much energy when you grow up.

But then we learn this.
Scientists trying to study the endangered Devils Hole pupfish near Death Valley inadvertently nudged the endangered fish closer to extinction.

About 80 of the inch-long silvery pupfish died in traps set last year in Devils Hole, a limestone cavern about 90 miles northwest of Las Vegas, National Park Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service scientists said Monday.

The total killed could be a third or more of the adult fish left alive in the wild, officials told The Las Vegas Sun in a report Tuesday.
That just makes me smile -- someday, we are going to figure out we do not have near as much power of nature as we think we do.

But mostly these stories are an excuse to do this:
HT: Scotwise for the pun.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005


Stop It, Just Stop It

The news media constantly bashing our nation's efforts in Iraq is getting old -- and it is starting to wear on our soldiers.

Dadmanly deconstructs Newsweek has they so richly deserve.
No, this doesn?t reflect reality, at least not any semblance of an objective one, but rather represents another instance of the mental dishonesty of yet another supplicant of the Newsroom Religion. Nordland can only view this conflict through the Vietnam Template, itself part of the Watergate mythology, and all data points are somehow squished in to support that aging world view.
Hurl states the issue plainly.
Some of the troops watching the CNN segment were angry enough at the way they were portrayed as losers that they began hollering out expletives. Some seemed to wonder if maybe we really are losing and perhaps the successes they are having are just an anomaly. Either way, CNN certainly doesn?t contribute to the morale of those of us working hard and sacrificing in order to safeguard a free Iraq ? in fact quite the contrary.
IN thinking about this situation, I reflected on something else that Dandmanly said in that same post.
My soldiers and I are drowning in support, encouragement, direct and indirect support from home, from family, from friends, even from strangers. Packages, letters, emails, blog posts, applause in airports, three deep on highway overpasses, free 1st class airline seats, gifts, free stuff, offers, it goes on and on. I am embarrassed and deeply humbled by the overwhelming outpouring of support we?ve received.
This gives me an idea. Those of us that give support to the soldiers should add a new item to or to-do's -- TURN IT OFF, CANCEL THE SUBSCRIPTION. Support our soldiers by refusing to consume this stuff.

Cancel subscriptions to anything that reads like Newsweek. But you can make a bigger point with TV. When you are watching news, if a negative story about Iraq comes on -- Turn It Off! They will know exactly when you do is you have a cable set. And they will know exactly what story it is that set you off.


Old News With A Great Conclusion

I found this not the least bit surprising.
A new study set to be released Tuesday shows that family-friendly movies are more profitable than R-rated films, throwing more fuel onto the fire of the long-running debate over sex and violence in entertainment -- and whether it sells.
Great conclusion, but why was the study needed. That fact has been known for quite a while.


Weighty Matters

I continue to grind my axe on the issue of obesity. I started out with a post about the fact that the is no evidence of a link between obesity and mortality. Then I pointed out that fact was not stopping those with a weight related political agenda.

This is the best news I have heard on the subject in a long time.
Dieters looking for another edge might want to consider exercising their sense of humor ? scientists have found that a good laugh is a calorie burner not to be ignored.
I'd sure as you know what rather laugh than jog any day.

Unfortunately, that's all the good news. If simple fact will not stop the agenda, maybe the next two items will. First this.
Suicidal impulses and attempts are much more common in teenagers who think they are too fat or too thin, regardless of how much they actually weigh, a study found.
Then there is this.
Such sites are the public face of a movement that goes beyond the denial that often accompanies addictive behaviors like alcoholism and gambling, into something more like defiance.

Many of the sites dispute that anorexia and bulimia are diseases, portraying them instead as philosophies of life. They offer tips on how to lose weight - by purging, among other methods - and how to hide eating disorders from family members or friends.
Do you really need more evidence that the issue of body weight in this nation is not a health issue, but some sort of group obsession? Here it is , why reason and fact matter. This is hysteria and it will result in far more and far more immediate deaths than the death at 75 years of age instead of 90 that might (but all we do is suspect -- remember, there is NO DATA) befall someone who is carrying some extra poundage.

Reason has to come to this discussion and very soon.


A Rift In Godbloggings Greatest Partnership?

Say it isn't so!

On Monday, Adrian Warnock posted on why smoking is a sin. But on Tuesday, Adrian's partner in blogging, Jollyblogger (or is Adrian David's partner -- I cannot ever keep that straight) posted (well, borrowed actually) on 10 Reasons Why I Am A Calvinist. Reason number 5:
Calvinists can smoke.
Can this be a major rift developing? More importantly, is David wrong about what it means to be a Calvinist? Or, is Adrian not the "reformed charasmatic" he claims to be?

These are indeed burning questions. I intend to stay close to the situation and report as news develops.


The Best of Pravda


Russian city invaded by squirrels


Doctors create first-ever transsexual dog

Did the dog wake up and decide it was a "woman in a man's body?" And how did it communicate this to the vets?


It is important to remember that Pravda is still a state owned newspaper. Want proof? Compare these heads and subheads:

Putin becomes Russian political phenomenon outside politics

The popularity of other Russian politicians pales in comparison with Putin's

Swindler claiming he is another Christ seeks presidential position

Founder of a sect wants to become the president of Russia and hopes to achieve the goal with the help of those whom he has already zombied

Look, the guy in the second story really is a whacko, but when compared with the bravado of the first story, it just is too much. This is almost enought o make me think the MSM is not so bad after all -- but not for very long.


I Have Heard of "Ants In Your Pants"...

...but this is ridiculous.

Woman smuggled fish in trousers

An Australian woman was found to be carrying 51 live tropical fish after custom officials were alerted by "flipping" noises coming from beneath her skirt as she arrived at Melbourne airport.

On closer inspection, officers discovered the woman had strapped on an apron of plastic water-filled bags containing the fish, the Australian Customs Service said.

Sorry, there is no punchline here, it really is just ridiculous.


Play The Movie Quote Game

I like movie quotes. So I got all kinds of excited when I learned that the American Film Institute was going to do a special on the 100 best movie quotes of all time. They are selecting their quotes from these 400 nominees.

I have checked the nominee list and some of my favorites are missing:

"Id, id, id, id, id...."

"Our Germanz are better dan dere Germanz."

"...remember when I said I would kill you last? -- I lied."

Oh yeah, and the title of the post linked in the first sentence of this post is one too.

Anyone placing all four of the quotes will be declared the "Blogotional Reader of the Month." and get a featured link in the blogroll -- if you are not a blogger, I'll link to the destination of your request, within limits of taste and decorum. Honor system here. Disqualify yourself if you have to look them up.

Leave your comments or email


Good Point

I agree with the major thrust of this article, if not all the specific points.
But what concerns educators like Miller is whether this politicization of basic science dissuades children from going into the field.
I share that concern utterly. As one that was drawn to science, I was drawn on the basis where it was the only discipline where I could truly prove something. It wasn't about arguing, it was about finding out. This is why I was drawnt he to so-called "hard" sciences, physics and chemistry, and was not nearly so happy in the controversial ones like biology.

Of course, the MSNBC article I cite ends up in this sort of "Can't we just all get along" mode, which leaves me less than happy. We should get along for the sake of getting along, we need to reach a genuine resolution about how to handle the teaching of science and particularly creation and evolution. But that said, need to do that "off-line" and not turn potential scientists into the battleground.


When Your Ego Does Not Die

Having just been through a funeral, I found this less than wonderful.
From funeral rockets to mountaintop memorials, Americans are moving toward more colorful, personalized ways to say goodbye to loved ones. Such services often include ?comfort? music, favorite foods, photographs and other mementos that celebrate the individuality of the dead. Grieving families also are holding theme receptions and having cremated remains embedded in reefs or compressed into gemstones.
I don't see much good in this. Either the families are in denial about the horrific realities of their loved ones death, or the loved one had way too much ego and made arrangements for garbage like this prior to death.

The real problem is this sort of thing denies one of the most essential realities of creation -- "the wages of sin is death."


Now Here Is A Real Opportunity...

Colorado chosen for cosmic ray facility

I know what you're thinking -- "John, you're no astronomer, why would you consider an observatory an opportunity?"

Well, the answer is simple, I am a comics fan:
As his experimental rocket was quickly losing government interest (and financial backing), Reed Richards launched its first test flight into space in 1961. His co-pilot Ben Grimm and passengers, Sue and Johnny Storm joined Reed for this unannounced space flight. Due to a surge in cosmic rays, unusual solar flare activity and an abnormally high neutrino count, the four human guinnea pigs were transformed in powerful entities. They dubbed themselves Mr. Fantastic, the Invisible Girl, the Human Torch and the Thing -- collectively the Fantastic Four -- and vowed to use their powers for the good of all mankind.
I am going to get me some superpowers!

Tuesday, June 07, 2005


Dave, What You Doing Dave?

International Business Machines Corp is linking with a team of Swiss scientists to create the world?s first accurate, computer-based model of the brain, the U.S. company said on Monday (emphasis added)
This is either the most terrifying or ludicrous news I have read in a long time.

Let's start with ludicrous. This implies we know how the brain actually works. How can you build a computer model of somethign when you are close to clueless about how it works? Of sure, we know about neurotransmitters and electrolyte transfer and a few other mechanisms of brain function, but that is like saying "I know the spark plug sparks, now I can tell you how an engine works." Last I checked, we were not even sure the human brain was actually binary, I think it likely is not. We don't really understand brain I/O functions either. Precisely what neurons have to fire to make me bend my arm? We know what region of the brain, but that is about as far as it goes, but how many neurons, in what order,etc. is a complete unknown. What are we going to do, put someone on a table and fire their brains neuron-by-neuron until we find out? No, no moral issues there.

Terrifying -- if by some chance they actually stumble across a model that is accurate, it is likely it will gain actual sentience -- then what will we do? Can we legitimately experiment on an artifical intelligence? I think the odds of them getting it right are nigh impossible, but who knows.

In the end, I think this is press agents overreaching in their description of what is going to happen. If I was going to take on a project like this I would probably start by modelling a brain less complex than the human brain, probabaly even lower than a mammalian brain. But then I would not get press coverage, or IBM funding either.


This Does Not Help

As Christians, many social issues are very complex. There may be none more complex than homosexuality. It is a sin, and we cannot support it, but can and must love homosexuals. Things like this DO NOT help.
A conservative Christian activist group said Monday that it had suspended its boycott of Ford Motor Co. after Ford dealers promised to lobby the automaker to address the group?s concerns about its support for gay and lesbian rights.
This is Donald Wildmon's American Family Association. They are wayout there and always have been.

There is nothing to be gained by boycotting Ford over its granting of same sex partner benefits. These actions really do serve to alienate, which is the last thing we want to do.


Consistency Matters

Federal authorities may prosecute sick people whose doctors prescribe marijuana to ease pain, the Supreme Court ruled Monday, concluding that state laws don't protect users from a federal ban on the drug.
So here is the biggest question -- Where were these justices, so willing to enforce federal law over state law, when the Terri Schiavo case came before them? I fail to see any meaningful distinction. Both cases involved conflicting federal and state law -- what was the essential element in the marijuana case that casued them to not only hear it, but rule in favor of the federal laws, that was not present in the Schiavo case?


From the Edge of Taste

Ananova strikes again.
Librarians in the US have had to admit they are baffled by the case of the urine-stained library books.
The more I think about this, the more I conclude that whether this is on the edge of taste or not depends on precisely what books are so stained. This might just be a form of non-verbal criticism.


TIme For A Trip To Mexico?

Nothing like watching a volcano erupt.
A volcano in western Mexico erupted on Sunday, spewing burning rock and raining ash on nearby villages, authorities said. It was the latest in a series of recent eruptions.

The eruption at the 12,533-foot Colima volcano, located 430 miles northwest of Mexico City, sent a massive column of black ash into the clouds above.

Satellite images suggested the plume of ash extended 2-1/2 to three miles into the sky, according to the Jalisco state Civil Protection Department.
I am going to have to go looking for volcano emission data. These thing usually put out several multiples of contaminants compared to whole countries. Maybe I could get the consulting job pulling permits for it?


I Dont Think So

Invention Allows Humans to Breathe Like Fish
If we could breathe like fish we would not need an invention to do it!

OK, so I am feeling curmudgeonly and sarcastic today. This is actually a cool device. However, this is an awful story about it.
The system uses the "Henry Law" which states that the amount of gas that can be dissolved in a liquid is proportional to the pressure on the liquid.
It's Henry's Law and it is not based on pressure on the surface of the liquid, but partial pressure of the gaseous solute of interest. Which means at exactly the same total pressure, but a different gaseous composition the dissolved concentrations will change.

This is from a science reporting site -- you would think they could do a better job of reporting actual science.


No Picture

Some people have wonder why there is no picture of me on this blog. Well, now you will know:

I play poker too!

Monday, June 06, 2005


The Problem Of Counterfeit Believers

Jollyblogger continues his serialization of his sermon on Hebrews 6 with Part III.
In this section of the book of Hebrews, the author was sharing his worries that he feared that there were many people there who were in the first category – they thought they were saved, but they weren't.

This is a point that we don't talk about much in our day, but that the Bible actually talks about a good deal
David then goes on to support his case quite well from several Scriptural passages (Matt 7:21-23; Matt 22:11-14; II Cor 11:13-15; II Peter 1:5-11 and finally II Cor 13:5) He also examines the issue from the standpoint of some great Puritan writers.
Similarly, an old Puritan named Matthew Mead wrote a book called "The Almost Christian Discovered," which he devoted to a study of those who had almost become Christians, but hadn't. He talks about some of the things we saw in Matthew 7 where we think that because someone addresses Jesus as "Lord" and does all of these great things for Him that means that they are a Christian. He says that, in fact, this may mean that the person is almost a Christians, but not quite.
I believe David has laid the foundation here for addressing what I consider to be the greatest question confronting the church today -- quality control. There is so much happening in God's name in the world today, and so much of it is so wrong-headed, and ungodly. We all know the easy targets in this regard -- TV preachers, shamanistic healers, so forth. But do we know the real and very serious problems? Those problems that happen on a personal level. Some we do -- pastors and priests that prey sexually on their flock is one example we know about. But what about pastors that encourage simple emotion dependence instead of reliance on the Lord? What about pastors that tend to the big donors and ignore the needy? What about organizations that guard their reputations more than the Lord's?

Fortunately, in his foundation, David also plants the seed of the response.
We are often told that we are not to question whether or not we are saved if we have made some kind of past decision for Christ. But Paul speaks to people who have been professing Christians for years here in II Corinthians 13:5 and says "examine yourselves to see if you are in the faith."

We are to examine ourselves to see if we are in the faith.
Herein lies the heart of what I meant when I started a discussion with Adrian Warnock about whether preaching was to the found or the unfound. As a church, we need to be addressing that examination. Note that this will, if done properly, address both the believer and the unbeliever. The believer will by such examination be called to maturity, the unbeliever to Christ.

Adrain appears to be concerned about the lack of assurance David's approach creates, and turns to the experience of the Holy Spirit as the means to gain assurance. I am not sure assurance is ultimately possible -- assurance is a matter of faith, faith that will create examination and lead to maturity. The experiences on which Adrain relies are, in my experience, too easily had under false pretenses. I can name so many who claim those experiences but lack the other signs of salvation that David discusses.

Additionally, such personal experiences cannot be used as a means to operate a community, for they are, in the end, personal. While utterly valid for the individual, and rightfully so, I as an outside observer can never truly know their validity apart from the other areas that David does address. Thus when it comes to counseling, or deciding what to preach, or admonishing, that is examining whether we are in faith, those experiences are of limited use.

I hope as David's series continues he will look at very practical ways to conduct the examination he calls for, both as individuals, and as a body. That examination is the essence of both evangelism and maturity.

UPDATE: SmartChristian has linked ot his discussion here

UPDATE 2: Why do I think quality control is such an issue? As people have increasingly stopped being participants in church and started being consumers of religion the traditional quality control methods of the church are breaking down. No longer can you count on a congregation to help a pastor shape and mold the church, nor can you rely on them to call the pastor into account when he strays -- likely they will not even know when he strays.

While it is my heart's desire to see a return to the old models, I am wondering if it is possible. And if not, what new models for quality control can we come up with? All that I can think of become highly heriarchiacal and rather distasteful. Maybe someone has a better idea, or we really do need to work on returning to the old models?


The Dirty Secret Of The Teri Schiavo Case

With a Hat Tip to Cheat Seeking Missiles for pointing to this article and this web site by and about Leslie Burke.
THE MOST IMPORTANT BIOETHICS LITIGATION in the world today involves a 45-year-old Englishman, Leslie Burke. He isn't asking for very much. Burke has a progressive neurological disease that may one day deprive him of the ability to swallow. If that happens, Burke wants to receive food and water through a tube. Knowing that Britain's National Health Service (NHS) rations care, Burke sued to ensure that he will not be forced to endure death by dehydration against his wishes.
Everyone argued in the Schiavo case that it was about granting Teri her wishes. And yet here is a case where the patients wished are extremely well known and the state continues to fight him.

That is the dirty secret of the Schiavo case and others like it. At bottom it is about who makes decisions about your life and death. Whether it concerns pulling the plug or rationing care, someone else is making those decisions, or desperately wants to. The reason is straightforward. The cost of health care has risen (somewhat artificially in my opinion, but that is another post) to the level that health care must be viewed as a precious and rare commodity.

In an egalitarian impulse, we attempt to provide equal access to that commodity by socializing it, whether literally as in the UK, or by third-party payers as in the US. Either way, you lose control of your fate. Teri did, Mr. Burke did, and there are many, many others - probably you some day.

The only way to ultimately restore personal control is to restore medicine to "pay as you go." That means that people with fewer resources will have fewer options, but they will have control. We can then work on their options by things like breaking the cartel of the American Medical Association and the medical schools which keep the number of physicians artificially low.

What do you value more? Life or control? Socialistic medicine will give you life, but it will cost you your control. Is it really worth it?


Happy Birthday To Me!


Today is my birthday. (Don't ask, more than anyone would care to admit.) Anyway, an old friend gave me this as a birthday present:

Which must, in accordance with the edict, must be posted. It also gives me the opportunity to do this:


Lessons From Watergate

David Brooks had an interesting take the whole Watergate, revelation of 'Deep Throat' thing in yesterdays NYTimes.
For that is the purpose of Watergate in today's culture. It isn't about Nixon and the cover-up anymore. It's about Woodward and Bernstein. Watergate has become a modern Horatio Alger story, a real-life fairy tale, an inspiring ode for mediacentric college types - about the two young men who found exciting and challenging jobs, who slew the dragon, who became rich and famous by doing good and who were played by Redford and Hoffman in the movie version.
That paragraph speaks whole volumes.


Bureaucracy To The Rescue?!

One of the Mars rovers has been stuck in sand for the last month or so. Apparently, they got it unstuck.
Mission managers took weeks to plot out a strategy for getting out of the dune, going so far as to try out scenarios with a test model of the rover in a simulated Martian sandbox at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif.
I am glad it worked, but I cannot help but recall the old saying, "A camel is a horse designed by a committee."



When Will They Learn?

The Wall Street Journal reported last Thursday (subscription required) the most widely sold automotive hybrid (Toyota Prius) is experiencing problems with stalling at speed.
In an initial report, the NHTSA said it has received 33 reports of alleged engine stalling in 2004 and 2005 model year Prius cars. The government said 28 complaints were received on 2004 vehicles and five on 2005 vehicles.

More than 85% of the complaints involved vehicles stalling while being driven from 35 miles per hour to 65 mph. The NHTSA opened the investigation Tuesday. It covers 75,000 vehicles.
One of the problems I have with most environmental "solutions," like hybrid cars, is that they make matters more complicated, not less. Mechanically, hybrid cars are extremely complicated which means they are 1) more expensive, and 2) more difficult to maintain. Can consumers be relied upon to maintain them in a fashion that maintains their environmental benefit?
He said that in May 2004 Toyota sent owners of those cars service warnings sending the owners to dealerships for software upgrades. Mr. Butto said he wasn't sure how many people went in to receive the hourlong repair.
In the end environmental issues are behavioral problems, not technological ones -- that is never easy to fix.

Dealing With Nuclear Waste

The New York Times reported on Sunday about a new political move afoot to deal with nuclear waste. This time using casks at shallow burial sites, on at least an interim basis until Yucca Mountain can come on line. But, Yucca Mountain has capacity problems, already.

Much as I hate to say this, the French worked all this out years ago. 'Vitrification' is a process wherein nuclear waste is further processed, and concentrated, thus reducing its volume and mass several orders of magnitude, then encased in glass for long term storage similar to what is currently proposed. With vitrification, Yucca Mountain has plenty of capacity. This technology has great disfavor in the US because it involves further processing which some think increases the possibility for release, and the glassy remnant is far more toxic than the spent fuel it comes from.

With regard to the first concern, there are plenty of places in this country sufficiently isolated to address and concerns about processing releases. With regards to issue 2, the spent fuel is already so toxic, who really cares if it moves from "kill you in a 2 hours" to "kill you in 2 minutes" -- you're dead either way. The French do have to transport the vitrified waste from processing to disposal sites, but I think we could deal with that by co-locating the two activities.

The problems with nuclear waste, and therefore nuclear power, are based almost entirely in irrational fear and power politics. We really need to get over it.

Global Nonsense

Cheat Seeking Missiles points out the selective nature of data analysis used when "confirming" global warming.

But I think I am beginning to find the true motives behind things like Kyoto and other global warming agreements.
At least 70 mayors from cities such as London, Rio de Janeiro, Tehran, Capetown, Sydney and Shanghai are scheduled to attend the five-day conference in San Francisco - the first U.S. city to host the annual event. World Environment Day, celebrated each June 5, was established in 1974, with annual conferences held since 1987.

At this year's gathering, themed "Green Cities" and running June 1-5, the mayors will trade ideas on sustainable urban living in areas such as renewable energy, recycling, public transportation, city parks and clean air and water. More than 230 community activities for World Environment Day are scheduled around the San Francisco Bay area.
JUNKETS! Need an excuse to get your employer (some government working on our taxes) to pay for your vacation? -- fire up the global warming issue and hold a conference and sign an agreement.

Here we Go Again!

"Christian Environmentalism" is once again raising it's ugly head. (HT: SmartChristian) I find this article particularly enlightening as to the true motives behind this movement.
On such issues as global climate change, endangered species, and mercury hazards to the unborn, many evangelical Christians are parting ways with conservatives.
Simply put some are using the environment as a wedge issue, a way to break the strong association between evangelicals and political conservatives. Poverty is also being used in a similar way, most notably by Sojourners.

I truly do believe that Christianity is more closely associated with conservatism than other political movements in America, even on issues like the environment and the poor -- neither of which are issues conservatives ignore, simply ones that they take a different approach to.

But having said that, it is very important that Christians know what and why the believe and think and that that inform their politics, and not the other way around.


Tiananmen Remebered

There was a vigil in Hong Kong and heavy guards in Beijing on Saturday's anniversary to the Tiananmen Square democracy demonstrations in 1988.

I was in China roughly 9 months after those sad events. Their significance on the Chinese people, and the then British controlled citizens of Hong Kong cannot be underestimated. What a startlingly different world it would be if the Chinese military had refused in a fashion similar to the Soviet military just three years later.

I am not sure we in the west can ever understand the relative disregard the Chinese have for human life in comparison to us. I believe that root value is what lies behind the difference between the Chinese and Soviet military responses in quite similar circumstances.

I truly believe that capitalism which is rapidly spreading in China will do much to bring democracy, but until that root value is addressed, which it can only be through religious conversation, it will remain an oppressive and nasty form of democracy. Hopefully enough democracy can be created economically to open the doors for real mission work.


Let's Take A Quiz

They are popping up everywhere -- quizzes.

Rebecca points us to quizzes on our Systemizing Quotient and Empathy Quotient. Apparently, I am autistic?!

Assumption of Command links to this quiz to find out which Star Wars character you are. I am...

Which Revenge of the Sith Character are you?
created with

I always knew I was less than attractive, but this is ridiculous.

And then, just because I was now curious I went looking, Found this quiz and learned that I am the book of "Lamentations." Then this quiz told me I was...

You are Napoleon Dynamite and a buttload of gangs
are trying to recruit you.

Which Napoleon Dynamite character are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

Which made me vomit and quit looking for quizzes.

Sunday, June 05, 2005


Are You Successful?

SmartChristian is asking what it means to be successful. He is also wondering if there is a difference between success and significance.

There is no blog-length answer to the questions Andy is asking really. I will however note that Jesus was the most significant human ever to walk the earth. It cannot be argued, we tell time by His birth, western civilization is based on the religion founded in His wake. Some may not like it, but it is a fact.

While He preached to many on occassion He really only had 12 men and a few women who followed Him closely. He was itinerant and rarely had enough money to get past the day. He never built a church. He was crucified.

Draw your own conclusions.


Here's Hoping

Assumption of Command links to this June 2 story.
The Jordanian militant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi - al-Qaeda's leader in Iraq - died on Friday and his body is in Fallujah's cemetary, an Iraqi Sunni sheikh, Ammar Abdel Rahim Nasir, has told the Saudi on-line newspaper Al-Medina. He claims that gunfights which broke out in Fallujah in the last few days involved militants trying to protect the insurgency leader's tomb from a group of American soldiers patrolling the area.
The story is unconfirmed and not widely reported. We can only hope.


New Park!

Lewis and Clark mania continues this year after the anniversary of their grand voyage. The City of Washougal, Washington is building a park to commenorate one of their campsites on the Columbia River. This area which includes the Columbia River Gorge is one of the most senic in our nation. And this new park is walking ditance from my in-laws.


Sermons and Lessons

Phil Johnson, aka, Pyromanic, is the latest Warnie winner. In honor of the this week's sermon is one of his, "The Fruits Of The Spirit." It's an audio sermon so listen in.



How Do I Feel About My Wife?


I May Live In California, But I Have A...


California Loves Me Though


The President Thinks Highly Of Me As Well



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