Thursday, June 30, 2005

What the #$*! Do We (K)now!? (2004)

What the #$*! Do We (K)now!? (2004)

I'm watching this right now and I'm wondering something:

Why is it that everyone in this film is white and upper class?

Could it be that Tsunami victims wouldn't think much of the idea that they have chosen their reality?

Tell the victims' families of the BTK killer that their anguish is just a reality they have chosen.

More later.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

The Supreme Irony

Freestar Media, LLC: "Weare, New Hampshire (PRWEB) Could a hotel be built on the land owned by Supreme Court Justice David H. Souter? A new ruling by the Supreme Court which was supported by Justice Souter himself itself might allow it. A private developer is seeking to use this very law to build a hotel on Souter's land.

Justice Souter's vote in the 'Kelo vs. City of New London' decision allows city governments to take land from one private owner and give it to another if the government will generate greater tax revenue or other economic benefits when the land is developed by the new owner.

On Monday June 27, Logan Darrow Clements, faxed a request to Chip Meany the code enforcement officer of the Towne of Weare, New Hampshire seeking to start the application process to build a hotel on 34 Cilley Hill Road. This is the present location of Mr. Souter's home.

Clements, CEO of Freestar Media, LLC, points out that the City of Weare will certainly gain greater tax revenue and economic benefits with a hotel on 34 Cilley Hill Road than allowing Mr. Souter to own the land.

The proposed development, called 'The Lost Liberty Hotel' will feature the 'Just Desserts Cafe' and include a museum, open to the public, featuring a permanent exhibit on the loss of freedom in America. Instead of a Gideon's Bible each guest will receive a free copy of Ayn Rand's novel 'Atlas Shrugged.

Clements indicated that the hotel must be built on this particular piece of land because it is a unique site being the home of someone largely responsible for destroying property rights for all Americans.

"This is not a prank" said Clements, "The Towne of Weare has five people on the Board of Selectmen. If three of them vote to use the power of eminent domain to take this land from Mr. Souter we can begin our hotel development."

Clements' plan is to raise investment capital from wealthy pro-liberty investors and draw up architectural plans. These plans would then be used to raise investment capital for the project. Clements hopes that regular customers of the hotel might include supporters of the Institute For Justice and participants in the Free State Project among others.'"

Live free or Die.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Cinderella Man (2005)

I just watched Cinderella Man.

It's easily the best movie I've seen in a theatre in a long time.

The depiction of Depression era poverty is haunting for anyone with children I would think.

Do not miss it on the big screen.

My Rating: Own It.

The title reminds me of one of my favorite trivia questions: What was Cinderella's real name.

Answer: Ella

...of whom the world is not worthy...

Pastor Hamid Pourmand of Iran Sentenced to 3 Years in Prison for failing to Disclose he was a Christian while serving in Iran military: "Pourmand was arrested September 9, 2004, together with 85 other participants of the annual general conference of denomination. The other Christians were released within the next three days, but pastor Pourmand was charged with hiding his conversion from his superiors. According to Iranian law only Muslims can be officers in the army.

The Middle East Concern spokesperson went on to say, 'On Saturday May 28th an Islamic judge in Bandar-I Bushehr, on Iran's Gulf coast, acquitted pastor Pourmand of charges of apostasy and proselytizing Muslims. Christian news agency Compass Direct has been told that the judge reportedly stated 'I don't know who you are, but the rest-of-the-world does,' a clear reference to the international attention that this case has attracted.''

Pastor Pourmand was formally charged with apostasy from Islam and proselytizing Muslims in early April. Starting on April 13th He appeared before an Islamic court in Tehran every two or three days. He was repeatedly pressed to return to Islam. These hearings stopped after two weeks. He was transferred to his home town of Bandar-i Bushehr on the 16th May.

'On February 16th 2005 pastor Pourmand was found guilty of this charge despite presenting documents in court that proved his superior were aware he was a Christian before he was promoted to the officer ranks. He was sentenced to three years imprisonment and dishonorably discharged from the army with lost of his income, pension and housing for his family. However, the local authorities delayed evicting his wife and two teenage sons from their army provided housing until the end of the school year.'

The spokesperson concluded by revealing that in the last 16 years three Iranian church leaders have been charged with apostasy.

"All were convicted and sentenced to death," they said. "Pastor Hussein Soodman was hanged in 1989. Deacon Maher had a noose round his neck when he signaled his willingness to recant and was released after signing a paper to that effect in 1992. Pastor Mehdi Dibaj was condemned to death in December 1993. He was released three weeks later after a strong international outcry; only to be found murdered six months later."

This is a friend of a friend.

The Genogram

The Genogram: "A genogram resembles a family tree however it includes additional relationships among individuals. The genogram (pronounced: jen-uh-gram) permit the therapist and the patient to quickly identify and understand patterns in family history. The genogram map out relationships and traits that may otherwise be missed on a pedigree chart."

My wife and I are going to be doing this during this week to better understand our family history and how it affects our marriage and emotional life.

A Genogram is a really interesting excercise for an engaged couple to do to understand the family history they will bring into marriage.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Radio (2003)

Last night I did something I've wanted to do for almost two years. I sat down with my 9 year old son and watched the movie Radio.

Radio is an important movie for me because it shows a very strong, masculine man who is compassionate. Often the two are set at odds, so much so that the term macho is synonymous with a lack of compassion. Yet this film shows an icon of traditional machismo (a southern football coach) who has compassion on a mentally disabled boy in his community.

My son enjoyed the movie in part because there's a lot of hard-hitting football in it. That's the genius of the story as a teaching tool for boys. It shows that it's possible to thrive in a man's world of toughness and competition, and still be compassionate.

I showed it to my son because the film portrays the kind of man that I want him to be; the kind of man I want to be.

The Book of Virtues taught me that stories are among the best ways to teach what virtue looks like; far better than rules. Rules fall far short of training in virtue. Stories like Radio can help teach boys and men about the virtue of compassion. They also can teach the vice of evil. My son could see the cruelty of some of the characters depicted in Radio and be appropriately reviled.

I commend the film to you.

My Rating: Own It.

Incidentally, if you search for the word "movie" in the search box on my blog, you can read my past movie reviews.

Friday, June 24, 2005

Proverbs on Leadership

From the Message:

The mark of a good leader is loyal followers; leadership is nothing without a following. 14:28

A good leader motivates, doesn't mislead, doesn't exploit. 16:10

Good leaders abhor wrongdoing of all kinds; sound leadership has a moral foundation. 16:12

Good leaders cultivate honest speech; they love advisors who tell them the truth. 16:13

An intemperate leader wreaks havoc in lives; you're smart to stay clear of someone like that. 16:14

Good tempered leaders invigorate lives; they're like spring rain and sunshine. 16:15

Bionic Man Moves Artificial Arm With Brain

Finally, "we can rebuild him, make him better than before. Better, stronger, faster." It's the 6 Million Dollar Man. - News - Bionic Man Moves Artificial Arm With Brain: "By the time it's perfected, the cost of manufacturing the bionic arm is expected to be about $6 million, according to the report."

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Dennis Prager: Choose life: The case for Judeo-Christian values: IX

Dennis Prager: Choose life: The case for Judeo-Christian values: IX: "Egyptian civilization was steeped in death. Its bible was the Book of the Dead, and its greatest monuments, its very symbols, the pyramids, were gigantic tombs. One of the Torah's first tasks was to destroy the connection between civilization (and, of course, religion) and death. That is the reason, I am convinced, for the absence of overt mention of the afterlife in the Old Testament -- it was greatly concerned with getting humanity preoccupied with life. With a few noble exceptions, preoccupation with the afterlife has led to denigration of life. The Islamic terrorists and the cultures that support them are only the most recent examples.

One of the greatest insights of Sigmund Freud, who, his atheism notwithstanding, was perhaps the greatest mind of the 20th century, was that human beings have a Death Instinct, a death wish that is as strong as the Life Instinct. He wrote this decades before Nazism and the Communist genocides of the 20th century proved his point.

Yet, he was only saying in psychoanalytical terminology what Moses had said in Deuteronomy thousands of years earlier."

Much of what we assume about love of life today has been underwritten by the Judeo-Christian tradition (cf. The Romans, Vikings, Mayans, etc.).

Jackson's Junction: But But But But........there are no WMDs!

Jackson's Junction: But But But But........there are no WMDs!: "How is it the Left Lunatic Libs keep crying about no WMDs an yet these stories (and other WMD related stories) are reportedeveryday. I am confused, but not nearly as confused as the MSM."

Sleep long and sound MSM. Your days of credibility are gone.

David Harsanyi: ACLU Hypocrisy - David Harsanyi: "We'll see if the ACLU, which selectively fights for freedom, has a problem with the concept of 'impermissible expression of beliefs.'

After all, I'm sure they were mortified when an AFA coach hung a banner that read, 'I am a member of Team Jesus Christ.'

They had every reason to be.

Problem is, if that banner had read, 'I am a member of Team Bin Laden,' the ACLU would have a lawyer shielding his First Amendment rights before you could say, 'Who would Jesus bomb?'

And that's hypocrisy."

I am regularly impressed by Harsanyi's perspective.

Eric Swanson: Evangelistic Apparel

Eric Swanson: Evangelistic Apparel: "I think how different it may have been had I worn a t-shirt with 'His Pain, Your Gain' or a hat that said 'WWJD.' Most likely it would have been hard to get someone to look me in the eye. So which type of clothing is more evangelistic? Which kind of apparel draws people to you? I think I'll wear my 2005 College World Series hat that I picked up this week at the Series in Omaha today...just to see what happens. Who knows who I might meet..."

This is how you do evangelism in Boulder and places like it. Maybe it's how you connect with people anywhere. I've often wondered how much of Christian apparel and paraphernalia is a defense mechanism against feeling judged by others. I suppose it depends on the person.

Read the whole thing. In fact read Eric's whole blog. It's new and chock full of rich bloggy goodness.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

More on Men on Campus

jobetodd said regarding this post:


I'd like to know more about you're take on why this is. Certainly time viewing porn, playing video games, and playing sports are taking their time and energy, but aren't there deeper cultural things going on? The feminist fearing institutions of our country have played a part in driving men into passivity, haven't they? A man with a vision for anything other than leftist ideology doesn't have a place, and is usually run off of the university campus. What do you think?

I'm sure there's plenty of blame to go around. However I've seen guys with great parents and upbringing, spend far more time playing video games than in class while at college. It's a little like a drug. It's entertainment. It's good but if you dont' watch out it will crowd out what is important.


Anyone who implies that we are losing the war in Iraq is just not paying attention.

Winds of Change.NET: Red-on-Red: "The brutal acts of violence directed at civilians and Iraqi police is losing favor among some of the members of the Iraqi insurgency. During Operation Matador, we saw examples of the local tribes, some of whom are sympathetic or even participating in the insurgency, rise up to fight the foreign jihadis after their attempts to impose a Taliban-like rule of law in Western Anbar. Today’s New York Times reports further cases of ‘red-on-red’, AKA the enemy fighting amongst themselves. The Marines gladly watched as insurgents duked it out along the Syrian border."

"There is a rift," said the official, who requested anonymity, citing the sensitivity of the talks he had held. "I'm certain that the nationalist Iraqi part of the insurgency is very much fed up with the Jihadists grabbing the headlines and carrying out the sort of violence that they don't want against innocent civilians."

Gee, I wonder where those Jihadists would be killing innocent civilians if it wasn't in Iraq. Hmm.

Missing: Males on College Campuses - Missing: Males on College Campuses: "Kleinfeld, author of 'The Myth That Schools Shortchange Girls', states, 'In my own college classes, I see a sea change in the behavior of young men. In the 1980s, the young men talked in my classes about the same as young women. I know because each semester I measured male and female talk. Now so many young men are disengaged that the more articulate, ambitious women dominate the classroom ....and my office hours.'

Kleinfeld tried to trace the problem backward by interviewing high school students on plans for their future. She states, 'The young women almost always have a clear, realistic plan, go to college, have a career, often directed toward an idealistic goals about improving the environment.'

This clarity of vision and was generally absent in young men."

I believe this is because most of the waking hours of young men are spent on video games, pornography and sports in that order.

AFI List of Top 100 Quotes From U.S. Films

The AFI has put out a list of the top 100 quotes in movie history. My favorite didn't make the list but Casablanca did have a bunch on there. My favorite quote is from Casablanca when Louie says, "I'm shocked, shocked to find gambling going on in this establishment." Of course this is followed up by a pit boss offering, "here are your winnings, sir."


Here's another one.

AFI List of Top 100 Quotes From U.S. Films - Yahoo! News: "32. 'Round up the usual suspects,' 'Casablanca,' 1942."

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

I climbed this...

I few years ago my good friend Eric Heistand took me out for my second climb ever. We climbed this: The Third Flatiron (brought to you by Google Maps).

My first repel was the 300 foot drop of the back of this giant granite finger. As I prepared to swing my weight into the repel and trust the rope for the first time, I thought to myself, "It probably wouldn't do to just burst into tears right now." I was a little scared. But with Eric's encouragement, I did it.

Climbing with Eric helped prepare me for moving to Boston. Sometimes you just have to move out, even when your scared.

Who can stop the rise and rise of China? The communists, of course

Telegraph | Opinion | Who can stop the rise and rise of China? The communists, of course: "China hasn't invented or discovered anything of significance in half a millennium, but the careless assumption that intellectual property is something to be stolen rather than protected shows why. If you're a resource-poor nation (as China is), long-term prosperity comes from liberating the creative energies of your people - and Beijing still has no interest in that. If a blogger attempts to use the words 'freedom' or 'democracy' or 'Taiwan independence' on Microsoft's new Chinese internet portal, he gets the message: 'This item contains forbidden speech. Please delete the forbidden speech.' How pathetic is that? Not just for the Microsoft-spined Corporation, which should be ashamed of itself, but for the Chinese government, which pretends to be a world power but is terrified of words."

Run! It's Intelligent Design! Iiiiiiieeeeeeeaaaaaaaaaaaah...

WN: Wired News: "Seeking to quell a growing movement to teach creationism in U.S. schools, the National Academies has unveiled a new section of its website dedicated to teachers' resources on evolution.

'The theory of evolution is one of science's most robust theories, and the National Academies has long supported the position that evolution be taught as a central element in any science education program,' said a statement released by the organization Thursday.

The site was designed 'to confront advocates of intelligent design, which is not a science,' according to National Academies spokesman Bill Kearney."

Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain. I hope I can find information on this site that will explain why racism is wrong if evolution is true, not to mention a working model for the evolution of a microbiological machine like the flagellum.


This post may shock you a little but since porn is the single greatest barrier (IMHO) between men on college campuses enjoying a relationship with the God that made them, I felt it appropriate.

The guys at XXXChurch went to a porn festival last week to try to bring truth and grace to a place filled with lies and judgment (porn is about false intimacy earned through performance = lies and judgement).

This is evangelism at it's edge. Here's my favorite passage from their memoirs of the event:

x3blog...the ramblings of mike and craig: OFF TO EROTICA LA: "From JR (My top 10 porn show moments)

It?s funny? I found myself answering the critics in my head before I started writing this. Then it occurred to me. The critics of were not at a porn show over the weekend. If you don?t get that, You?re probably a critic.

1. Sonny, the 25 year old x-professional skater now porn star, who told me ?All I want is fame, money and God is ok with how I?m doing it.? 2. James, a paraplegic who said, 'If you want to help me don?t pray for me, give me money so I can buy a prostitute to touch me? no one will touch me.? 3. The hundreds of people who told me I can?t get enough porn. 4. The guy in the red shirt who just got out of rehab for booze and was filling his bag with porn until he came to our booth. We talked and prayed, I?m pretty sure I ruined his porn show. 5. The guy in the blue shirt who told me he?s so addicted to porn he has no friends. 6. Donna who works for the LA convention center who thanks God she is no longer in the porn business. 7. Craig and Mike?s push to see healing and recovery in the name of Christ. 8. The 213 people who took the Wally Porn Free Challenge. 9. The young porn producer who admitted his industry is destroying people, after he told me XXXchurch is stupid. 10. My walk back to the hotel on Saturday night? I took an 8 block look at my life given the days events. I felt remorse, joy, disappointment, sorrow and peace. God wants us in the trenches. I will no longer be comfortable sitting in a pew, and if you don?t get that? your probably a critic. Thanks Craig, thanks Mike for getting it."

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Chuck Colson: Is sexual identity malleable?

Chuck Colson: Is sexual identity malleable?: "McHugh then turned to the practice of sex-reassignment surgery for baby boys with ambiguous genitals. For years doctors had told parents that that their child’s sexual identity would conform to environmental conditioning: They would happily grow up as girls.

But a study found exactly the opposite. These re-engineered boys endured “prolonged distress and misery.” When they discovered their true genetic heritage, most of them began to live as males.

Given that there’s no evidence that sex reassignment surgery helps either adults or children, why did doctors recommend it in the first place? The answer is that psychiatrists were enamored of the feminist theory that sexual identity was determined, not by biology, but by cultural conditioning. Psychiatrists went along with this, despite the fact that animal research had long shown that male sexual behavior is directly derived from exposure to testosterone in utero. And so, today, the transgendered movement is firmly protected by rigid codes of political correctness. You’re a “bigot” if you say that a person is made a certain way and can’t change his gender.

Well, thanks to this research, Johns Hopkins no longer performs sex-reassignment surgeries."

Hat tip: Dad's Love

Iraqis Found in Torture House Tell of Brutality of Insurgents - New York Times

Iraqis Found in Torture House Tell of Brutality of Insurgents - New York Times: "KARABILA, Iraq, Sunday, June 19 - Marines on an operation to eliminate insurgents that began Friday broke through the outside wall of a building in this small rural village to find a torture center equipped with electric wires, a noose, handcuffs, a 574-page jihad manual - and four beaten and shackled Iraqis.

The American military has found torture houses after invading towns heavily populated by insurgents - like Falluja, where the anti-insurgent assault last fall uncovered almost 20 such sites. But rarely have they come across victims who have lived to tell the tale."

"They kill somebody every day," said Mr. Fathil, whose hands were so swollen he could not open a can of Coke offered to him by a marine. "They've killed a lot of people."

...and at Guantanamo...

Compare and contrast. Good for the NY Times.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Senator Disgrace "Dick Durbin is a disgrace, a low, dishonorable weasel, and the country knows it. He is also the Dems' #2 in the Senate. He can issue new statement after new statement, but the verdict is in: Durbin is no friend of the American military. Durbin has harmed the country and the military, greatly. He should resign. Democrats should call on him to do so. They will not. Political advantage means more than standing up for the troops.

Friday, June 17, 2005

The Perils of Post/Modern Leadership

Here are some spicy comments about the "emergent church" with regard to the appointment of a "national director". It's so hard to be post-modern. How am I not myself?

emergent-us: Report From Emergent Summit - Part 1 of 4:

"as a total plebian out-side of any denomination realm. Someone from the margins, a stranger in the emergent kingdom, A NATIONAL DIRECTOR!! So the emergent movement is now officially anglo-white-western. I was once banned for saying that gen-x, pomo, emergent conventions institutionalize was going to become like the Promise Keeper once was. Well...

*my emergent god can beat up your traditional god, I read it on a blog.*"

Another one:
"EC has come out as the egalitarian and inclusive movement when it comes to its direction and theology, but is now starting to present itself as more complementarian and exclusive when it comes to certain things.
As you can also read from the posts, there is a love of chaos by the emergings that is being lost. There is a love for confusion, which authority starts to destroy. It sort of reminds me of the evil villains in movies and tv talking about how beautiful destruction is and chaos is. (Is God a God of chaos/confusion now?) But this move begins to put an end to it because authority means order."

What does all this mean? We report, you decide.

Lies and Statistics from Krugman

A while back I noted this about NY Times "economist" Paul Krugman. The other day Krugman tried to claim that the middle class has not benefited from the last 30 years of economic growth, mainly because evil Republicans have given all the money to the rich. The response below puts this foolish notion in bold relief.

Power Line:

This, in turn, reminds me of my deconstruction of a silly article in the New York Times by one of our premier Chicken Littles, Paul Krugman, and the response I received from Dafydd ab Hugh, who pointed out that I had not articulated anything like the real scale of the improved standard of living over the past thirty years:

I think you missed an even more basic critique of the Krugman opinion piece.

You wrote that "the Census Bureau data show that for the category "Married-Couple Families," median income went from $46,723 in 1973 to $62,281 in 2003. (All numbers are in constant 2003 dollars.) That's a hefty 33% increase in real income."

With all due respect, Hindrocket, that's bullpuckey. The increase in "real income" would be hundreds of times that 33%, once you take into account the value of what you can now buy. Riddle me this:

* In 1973, how many households could afford a desktop computer with hundreds of megabytes of RAM? Ans: none.

* How many could afford a portable telephone that fits in a pocket? Or for that matter, how about a portable computer terminal? Ans: none.

* How many could afford to have genetic diseases in their children repaired by gene therapy? Ans: none.

* How many childless couples could afford in-vitro fertilization? Ans: none.

* How many could afford to have diseases diagnosed with Positron Emission Tomography or treated by laser surgery? How many could afford to have Lasik corrective eye surgery? How many could afford to have depression or anxiety cured or controlled by selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) like Prozac, Zoloft, Paxil, Luvox or Celexa? How many could afford to have their teeth repaired by composite resin fillings? How many could afford laser microsurgery, radio-telemetry surgery, foetal-abnormality surgery, minimally-invasive surgery, robotic surgery, or "beating heart" cardiac surgery? Ans: none.

* How many could afford to start their own "magazines" that could be read by tens or hundreds of thousands of people each week without even being distributed? Ans: none.

* How many could afford a luxury family vehicle suitable for offroading adventures? Ans: none.

* How many breadwinners could afford to telecommute? Ans: none.

* How many could afford a Mint Mocha Chip Frappuccino? How many could buy fat-free potato chips? How many could afford NutraSweet? How about lactose-free milk? How many could afford to go out routinely for Pad Thai, Japanese sushi, Armenian khorovatz, Ethiopian aleecha, Chorizo Argentino, Lebanese hummus and shawarma, or even a nice, simple blueberry bagel? Ans: none.

The point should be clear: it is impossible to legitimately compare buying power in 1973 with buying power today, for the simple reason that a huge proportion of what we buy today simply did not even exist thirty years ago. This is more obvious when you try to compare today's economy with the economy of the Middle Ages: the strides in technology and society are so staggering, they swamp any attempted calculation of monetary value: how many emperors in A.D. 750 could afford antibiotics?

Claiming that "working families have seen little if any progress over the past 30 years," as Krugman claimed, is so manifestly preposterous -- even before taking economics into account -- that I don't question his veracity so much as his sanity. Is he mentally ill?

On the last question: no comment.

Debunking Looney Moral Equivalency: Priceless

Power Line: "Just for the record (as if that matters to the left) Rowan Scarborough in the Washington Times reminds us of the following:

Adolf Hitler - About 9 million dead
Soviet gulags - About 2.7 million dead
Pol Pot - About 1.7 million dead
Gitmo - zero dead
Gitmo - five instances of Koran abuse by prison guards
Gitmo-15 instances of Koran abuse by prisoners.

The big lie is nothing new in politics. Hitler and Stalin were master practicioners. What's unusual about Durbin's lie is that it slanders his own country. Normally that kind of slander is uttered only by revolutionaries seeking the violent overthrow of the government. Yet Durbin purports to be part of a loyal opposition.

What possessed Durbin to do it? How, after harping constantly on the importance of our image to winning the war on terrorism, could he cast the U.S. in such a false light?"

Thursday, June 16, 2005

The Dutch-Muslim Culture War

The Dutch-Muslim Culture War - Yahoo! News: "Seven months ago, Hirsi Ali's implacable campaign against what she views as Islam's oppression of women prompted a Muslim fanatic to ritually slaughter Theo van Gogh, her Dutch collaborator on the film Submission. The murderer used his knife to affix a five-page letter to the corpse promising the same treatment for Hirsi Ali and another Dutch politician who has criticized Islam. The murder sent Dutch society into paroxysms of rage and fear, sparking dozens of attacks on mosques and schools. But it didn't seem to faze Hirsi Ali. In a series of defiant interviews, the former refugee refused to be intimidated. When a group of Muslims tried to block her from making a sequel to Submission, she fought back in court and won. Like a dark avenging angel, she seemed to loom over Holland's wintry Dutch, her ubiquitous media presence a virtual guarantee of further conflict."

"In the United States, where few people have had the chance to read or see her critiques of Islam, the 35-year-old Hirsi Ali has been almost exclusively portrayed as a champion of free speech and women's rights. In the Netherlands, however, she remains the subject of intense controversy. Well before van Gogh's murder, she had become a major hate figure among Dutch Muslims, who accuse her of stirring up Islamophobia on behalf of a cabal of right-wing politicians and columnists. Since the murder, a surprising number of native-born Dutch intellectuals have come around to the Muslim point of view..."

"In what appears to be a Europe-wide pattern, some feminists are aligning themselves with the anti-immigrant right against their former multiculturalist allies on the left. Joining them in this exodus to the right are gay activists, who blame Muslim immigrants for the rising number of attacks on gay couples."


Peter Jackson: The new kids on the blog The new kids on the blog: "While it is hardly surprising that cyberspace can be fertile soil for misinformation, Jackson's ruse underscores a newer phenomenon: the rapid evolution of weblogs — or blogs — as movie marketing tools.

Costing almost nothing to maintain, the vast majority of blogs are mental clearinghouses for their authors, lo-fi Web confessionals or bully pulpits that vary from current events to niche pastimes to sex. Directors' blogs, by contrast, are slickly engineered to virally market their movies — to stoke fan ardor.

Some observers say this approach allows studios to put a spin on moviemaking — and, by playing to fan interest, head off potential controversies. Movie marketers say the sites allow blogger-directors to reach out to fans in an up-close-and-personal way."

Monday, June 13, 2005

Camera of Sean Penn, Journalist, Confiscated in Iran

Camera of Sean Penn, Journalist, Confiscated in Iran: "NEW YORK Iran was rocked by bombings on Sunday, killing at least nine and wounding more than 30, as dozens of journalists from around the world gathered in advance of the presidential election this Friday. One of those journalists, actor Sean Penn--covering the events for the San Francisco Chronicle--was involved in a separate incident, and had his video camera confiscated for a time."

I don't understand. If there are bombings in Iran then it's a quagmire right. How can Sean Penn blame Bush for the quagmire if he hasn't attacked Iran yet.

He'll figure it out. He's documenting the lovely state of life there so that if Bush does attack Penn can talk about how peaceful and free things were before the "invasion":

"Several hundred women at a sit-in outside the entrance to Tehran University demanded rights revoked after the 1979 Islamic revolution. As chants and taunts arose, police and plainclothesmen surrounded the demonstrators, pushing away those trying to join the group. Officials also cut off cell phone service in the area, and challenged reporters nearby."

"In the process, they briefly seized the video camera of Penn, 44, who arrived in Iran as a reporter for his friend Phil Bronstein, editor of the San Francisco Chronicle."

I'll bet this whole incident was a Karl Rove operation. Right Sean? Let's ask Howard Dean.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Don't tell me about Gulags...

The American Spectator: "Prof. Bass, the perfect modern academic, obviously greatly admires this man, spent days with him, and has not one bad word to say about An's bosses, who, again, killed civilians without remorse by the thousands, who even sent An to be 're-educated' after the war because he had so much contact with Western ideas.

I am not sure how many mothers or fathers or children or widows of Vietnam war casualties read the New Yorker. I am not sure if anyone who edited the piece -- and it is edited well, although utterly without moral input -- had friends or family who fought there (such as my late father in law, Col. Dale Denman, Jr.). But how insulting, how insulting must an article like this be to them. How insulting it is to us all: to lavish praise on a man who helped kill our fellow Americans, to describe him in endearing terms, to try to make him seem like a kindly uncle.

If the New Yorker is one of the flagships of the Mainstream Media fleet, they are sailing in maddeningly disloyal, contemptuous waters and obviously have been for a while. Small wonder the media gloried in Mark Felt and Watergate last week. In those days, Americans actually trusted the Mainstream Media. The New Yorker piece by Prof. Bass makes it clear how wrong we were. He's a fine writer but a man whose piece lacks any moral compass at all. And what of the fellow journalists in Saigon cheering him on? Now we know a bit more about why the war turned out as it did."

Hmm. A Professor, the MSM, lack of moral compass: what a surprise. Sigh.

Church of the Masses: NY TIMES CALLING...

Church of the Masses: NY TIMES CALLING...: "James: So, in the last six months, there have been 37 pairings in the Times of the word "Christian" with words like "scary", "frightening", "theocratic" and "intimidating". My question is, what is it about Christians that makes you so scary?

Barb: (loud, snorting and sneering laughter) Are you kidding me?

James: What?

Barb: I finally get interviewed by the New York Times, and you ask me a question like that?! (more snorting and laughing)

James: (sniffs) Are you laughing because you think it's funny that people find Christians frightening?

Barb: No. I'm laughing because you want me to tell you why you and your friends are scared of Christians -- and I think you should ask your therapist!

Anyway, the interview went on from there. Basically, James was working on a story about how the same conservative Christian think-tanks that were behind the ascendancy of the Religious Right are now trying to take over Hollywood.

Barb: Are they?

James: Aren't they?

Barb: My experience is that the Christian initiatives in Hollywood are all organic - arising out of the industry itself.

James: Yeah, but where is the funding coming from?

Barb: They are all shoe-string underfundeds! Act One's funding comes from all over. Little drops of water from many sources --

James: Are you a Bush voter?

Barb: Whaaaaaaaaaaaaa?

In the end, I gave him some soundbites about post-Passion Hollywood, but it was clear that James had pretty much decided what he was going to write about (ie. Vast Rightwing Political Conspiracy spreading into Hollywood), and was searching for proof.

So, during this follow-up interview, Sunday, we had the following exchange.

James: I'm having a hell of a time chasing down the money connections between the DC conservative think-tanks and Hollywood Christians.

Barb: That's because they don't exist.

James: ("I'm no fool" snort) Yeah. How about you tell me 'off the record'?

Barb: Off the record, on the record, we don't get any money from rightwing covert opps!

James: Would you take money from them if they offered?

Barb: From whom?...Heck, I'd take money from Hugh Hefner! I'm just trying to meet payroll for the summer.

James: You're funny.

Barb: And poor....but with a few exceptions, Evangelical Christians outside of Hollywood don't financially support Hollywood Christians. They don't trust us.

James: Yeah, yeah...(trying another tack) So, is it your sense that some Evangelical Republicans from DC are trying to build a network in Hollywood?

Barb: I think that is accurate.

James: (Gotcha! exclamation) And why is that?!

Barb: Because being generally derided and despised by cultural leaders is a concern to them? You should ask them...

James: I'm trying, but everyone is being very paranoid in talking to me.

Barb: Does that surprise you?

James: Why is that, anyway?

Barb: You mean, besides the fact that the NY Times hates Christians?!

More laughter from James.

Barb: Honestly, the other reason you aren't getting the scoop is people don't have anything to say about this. There is no funneling of money from political Evangelicals to cultural ones. Is it being cagey and paranoid to not having anything to say about a plot that doesn't exist?

James makes an exasperated laughing sound.

A bit later, James asked me about a meeting that Act One co-sponsored last December between our writers and some Christians from DC.

James: Isn't it true that, as a result of the meeting, a feature film project was financed with money coming from DC?

Barb: Are you smoking crack?! No! There was no money! We bought a couple dozen sandwiches -- and lost money on that, as a matter of fact!

James: So, what was the purpose of the meeting?

Barb: The folks from Washington wanted to start a dialogue on some policy issues in the hopes that they could assist folks on this side of the country with government studies about some issues of joint concern.

James: (Ha!) What issue?

Barb: Well, we talked about global AIDS. Such a terrible plague. Hollywood doesn't talk about it enough.

James: Yeah, yeah. What else?

Barb: Oh yeah. There was information about the persecution of Christiansin the Sudan. There's another one you never see on primetime.

James: (depressed sigh) Anything else?

Barb: Yes. Sex.

James: Yeah! Tell me!

Barb: We talked about the problem of pornography and STD's. All about the societal wages of the Sexual Revolution.

James: (humph...)"

A view of your local campus...

Tom Wolfe has written a novel capturing life at your local elite college. In my experience he's right on the mark.

VDH's Private Papers :: The Right Stuff: "That Wolfe is, as his ageist detractors never fail to point out, a 74-year-old Southern man, only makes his accomplishment all the more impressive. His eyes and ears are as sharp as ever. Friday nights at his fictional Dupont University, as at any school, bump with profane nursery rhymes (popularly known as gangster rap) and shrieks of girlish delight at manly antics. Wolfe notices that young men consider it a matter of duty to watch ESPN in 3-hour blocks, even when it means being up as early as ten-thirty. (My roommates went beyond the call by placing a second TV atop the main one, for ESPN-2.) He notices that the Mashed Potato or whatever dance they did in ancient days has become The Act, Clothed. Here is a sound that every college student recognizes: that terrible ascending chime of AOL Instant Messenger ringing into dorm hallways from every room. And below the computer is a nest of wires attached to the “techie alphabet toys…the PC, the TV, the CD, DVD, DSL, VCR, MP4…each asleep rattlesnake-style with a single tiny diode-green eye open….” Wolfe paints a portrait true to life itself, composed of hundreds of acute social observations, garnered through years of research on nearly a dozen campuses. "

"One passage explores how campus parlance has the F-word as an exclamation (“F!”), a noun (“You silly F!”), an imperative expressing contempt (“F that”), or an adverb modifying and intensifying an adjective. But if you think that’s F-ing insightful, observe that the S-word has become a synonym for everything: possessions (“Where’s your S?”), lies or misleading explanations (“Are you S-ing me?”), drunk (“S-faced”), trouble (“in deep S”), ineptitude (“couldn’t play point guard for S”), care about (“give a S”), ignorance (“he doesn’t know S”), hopeless situation (“up S Creek”), disappointment (“oh, S!”), startling (“holy S!”), et cetera (“and massages and S”), very (“mean as S”), violence (“before the S hit the fan”), verbal abuse “(don’t give me S”), self-importance (“he thinks he’s some S”), and feces, literally (“S”). Wolfe records 32 usages. I’ve personally heard all 32 of them as part of my higher education, but I’d never reflected on the phenomenon quite so vividly."

I've spent enough time around college dorm rooms to know this is dead on.

"But did they have Girls Gone Wild way back when? How about roofies, ecstasy, coed bathrooms, proliferating sex columnists, AIDS? (One thing remains constant: since 1980, about 45% of students have reported an excessive fondness for drink.) Slang, too, bespeaks campus change. I consulted Connie Eble, a lexicographer of college slang at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. In 1974, she says, students there were asked to list what they considered “good, current campus slang.” Thirty years later, they were asked again. The 2004 study found that 95% of the terms from 1974 were no longer used. (Put another way, only 5% of the slang words survived.) “Bad,” which in ’74 meant “good,” now means “bad” again. The word for “impressive” or “interesting” is “tight.” To express approval, avoid “That’s cosmic!” Try “Off the heezy fo’ sheezy.”

The study also found that these days, “words are more explicitly sexual and derogatory.” Disco-era sorority sisters may have disliked being called “foxy mamas,” but less so, I’m sure, than “sorostitutes.” Worse is the term butterface, a ‘female with an attractive figure but a less-than-appealing face.’ (As in “…everything but her face.”) But that language should become more sexualized is appropriate seeing that everything else on campus has. Sexual liberation is no longer a movement, but brisk business. A new student-run porn magazine with real students has sold tens of thousands of copies at Boston University. “We wanted Boink to represent college and all that college is,” says the editor, not unreasonably. At my alma mater, adult film producers would drive up from Los Angeles to host parties in which their actors performed with—on—our students. The story made the cover of Rolling Stone. There is more of this on the way. But we’re supposed to think this is all old hat? What about the speech codes? And the aggressive political correctness?

Wolfe, of course, notices these, too. One day at Dupont U., a class is shown a photograph of bullfighting and a girl lets slip, “That—is— horrible! It’s—so—wrong!” “That’s your reaction to a culture different from your own?” snaps the professor. “Spanish culture is far older than ours, by a factor of millennia…. Would you favor us with a list of alien cultures you find most objectionable?” The students chuckle while Charlotte absorbs the lesson: “Denigration of another culture, especially one whose people are less well off than your own, and referring to anything as evil, which would indicate you might very well have religious convictions, were more socially unacceptable at Dupont than cruelty to animals.”

Political correctness, along with literary postmodernism (“B.S.”), radical feminism, and an obsession with race appear in Charlotte Simmons just as they appear on nearly every American college campus. And because this appearance is unpleasant to those politically disposed to defend them as signs of progress, Wolfe has been denounced for writing a jeremiad disguised as a novel. Wolfe is “a right-wing scold, a moralizing antique, William Bennett in an ice-cream suit,” said the Chicago Sun-Times’s Henry Kisor, echoing other liberal critics. In fact, such a deluge of this kind of criticism greeted the publishing of Charlotte Simmons that the deluge itself became a news item. But these literati are reacting exactly like those university presidents who insist on continuing Byzantine and morally shocking racial quotas while demanding even more insistently that these policies remain secret. Wolfe is telling it like it is. If his liberal critics don’t like what they see, their quarrel is with the universities, not Mr. Wolfe.

In truth, the university has changed dramatically over the past 30 years. For instance, the number of women enrolled in higher education rose from 5,035,862 in 1975 to 9,263,000 in 2003, an increase of 84%. (Male enrollment rose by 15%.) Minority undergraduate enrollment increased from 16.3% to 30.1% between 1976 and 2001. But perhaps the greatest transformation is this: the activist students and junior faculty of the ’60s and ’70s are today’s department chairs and administrative grandees. And they have been working hard to refashion the campus in their image. The result? A survey of 183 colleges shows that in four departments—English literature, political science, religious studies, and philosophy—more than 80% of the faculty identifies as liberal, and no more than 5% identifies as conservative. In sociology departments, 0% identify as Republicans. (One lonely discipline seems to resist the spirit of progress: agriculture.) Federal Electoral Commission filings report the first- and second-ranking organizations in the country in terms of per capita contributions to the Kerry ’04 campaign: the University of California and Harvard, respectively.

The one-party university promotes intellectual rigor with the sort of success achieved by the one-party state. This helps explain why the Larry Summers affair at Harvard became a show trial. The outrage…the self-effacement…the formal reprimands promulgated in large halls via secret ballot—it's enough to make you a believer in what Roger Kimball called the “Sovietization of intellectual life, where the value or truth of a work is determined not by its intrinsic qualities but by the degree to which it supports a given political line.” The spectacle of radical feminists savaging and humiliating Summers—while pledging to tolerate campus bullying no longer—is proof enough that the supposed oppressed are in control of academia’s commanding heights. But Wolfe is as alive to the comedy as to the tragedy of the American university. “Queer Theory” and “Ethnic Separatist Studies” remind one less of Leninism than the 19th century’s numerology and phrenology, in that they both discourse in bizarre pseudo-scientific lingo about things that don't exist. Still, the high priests of the academic occult have been successful enough at churning out half-educated true believers to ensure that Reason will not reign on campus any time soon."

Read it and weep.

JustOneMinute: Bush Aide Edited Science! and sauce for the gander.

JustOneMinute: Bush Aide Edited Science!: "Please, I'm begging now - can we drop the notion that the intersection of science with government was pure until Evil BushCo corrupted it?"

I posted that it is wrong to insert bias into scientific data. That works both ways.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Bush Aide Softened Greenhouse Gas Links to Global Warming - New York Times

Bush Aide Softened Greenhouse Gas Links to Global Warming - New York Times: "A White House official who once led the oil industry's fight against limits on greenhouse gases has repeatedly edited government climate reports in ways that play down links between such emissions and global warming, according to internal documents.

In handwritten notes on drafts of several reports issued in 2002 and 2003, the official, Philip A. Cooney, removed or adjusted descriptions of climate research that government scientists and their supervisors, including some senior Bush administration officials, had already approved. In many cases, the changes appeared in the final reports.

The dozens of changes, while sometimes as subtle as the insertion of the phrase 'significant and fundamental' before the word 'uncertainties,' tend to produce an air of doubt about findings that most climate experts say are robust."

This is wrong. It's wrong when the MSM inserts their bias into the story, and it's wrong when Bush administration officials do the same.

Level 5 Leaders

Power Line: Stand up for Janice Rogers Brown: "As California's Chief Justice has ruefully acknowledged, Justice Puglia was 'a strong personality...not shy of stating his beliefs, nor about challenging others to justify theirs' but surprisingly willing to listen and modify his views. He was, as his long-time colleague Justice Coleman Blease noted: 'formidable' and 'intimidating,' but he had a 'heart of gold.'
...There are similarities in the descriptions of Justice Puglia and President Lincoln that are striking.

In a speech in 1906, Norton Parker Chipman recalled that his friend Abraham Lincoln was 'firm as the granite hills,' yet capable of great patience and forbearance. Carl Sandburg described Lincoln as 'both steel and velvet...hard as rock and soft as the drifting fog. Reading these words caused a shock of recognition, for I had been seeing exactly this sort of paradox and contradiction in the life of Justice Puglia."

This sounds very much like the Level 5 leader described in Jim Collins' brilliant book on leadership: Good to Great.

ScrappleFace: Gitmo Study Sparks Arab Probe of Bible Abuse

ScrappleFace: Gitmo Study Sparks Arab Probe of Bible Abuse: "(2005-06-04) -- Friday's release of a Pentagon study on mishandling of the Koran at Guantanamo Bay detention center has sparked Saudi Arabia's leader to call for similar probes of Bible handling in detention facilities throughout the Muslim world."

Now that's comedy.

Yale grades portray Kerry dumber than Bush

Yale grades portray Kerry as a lackluster student - The Boston Globe - - Washington - News has the story.

The pictures would have decided the election anyway. Holy cow.

Kubrick and the Human

Triablogue: "'Man isn't a noble savage, he's an ignoble savage,' says Kubrick, reaching for the iced water. 'He is irrational, brutal, weak, silly, unable to be objective about anything where his own interests are involved - that about sums it up. I'm interested in the brutal and violent nature of man because it's a true picture of him. And any attempt to create social institutions on a false view of the nature of man is probably doomed to failure.'

Like what? 'Well, many aspects of liberal mythology are coming to grief now -- but I don't want to give any examples or I'm going to sound like William Buckley....'"

A friend of mine convinced me that all of Kubrick's films were about dehumanization. Maybe we were wrong. They are about Humanization: Depravity.

Church Webmasters - Stop Working for Free

Boyink Interactive, LLC : "Are you a web developer working on your church's website on a volunteer basis?

Stop it.


Walk away.

Or start billing for your time, at rates competitive in the local market.


Because when a church gets a website for free, it evidently has no value. Things with no value get replaced or reimplemented on a moment's notice, on staff whim, or as soon as the person leading the effort is called away."

This is sound thinking. (Hat Tip: effective web ministry notes)

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Here I am

I'll be the resident stenblographer for a meeting of pastors from around the globe. You can follow the action here:

Geldof condemned over Pope 'invite' - Yahoo! UK & Ireland News

Geldof condemned over Pope 'invite' - Yahoo! UK & Ireland News: "The National Secular Society (NSS) is pointing to the Vatican's refusal to condone the use of condoms, saying it has helped spread HIV in Africa.

The society, which campaigns for religion to be taken out of public life, says it will create a counter-campaign of protest against any decision by Pope Benedict XVI to get involved.

NSS executive director Keith Porteous Wood said Geldof should not have written to the Pope about attending the Hyde Park event."

Is the Pope more tolerant the the National Secular Society? Will the Pope reject the invitation because secular people will be involved?

We report, you decide.

Personal Data for 3.9 Million Lost in Transit

Personal Data for 3.9 Million Lost in Transit - New York Times: "In one of the largest breaches of data security to date, CitiFinancial, the consumer finance subsidiary of Citigroup, announced yesterday that a box of computer tapes containing information on 3.9 million customers was lost by United Parcel Service last month, while in transit to a credit reporting agency."

What has Brown done to you?

The way back machine: Chirac's corruption battle

BBC NEWS | World | Europe | Q & A: Chirac's corruption battle: "France's President, Jacques Chirac, has been accused of corruption during his time as Mayor of Paris and as president of the Gaullist RPR Party.

Judges investigating the allegations wanted to question him, but have been thwarted by Mr Chirac's claim to presidential immunity, causing one of them to resign in disgust."

Maybe Michael Moore will do a documentary: Jacques and Me.

When will the quagmire end?

Transterrestrial Musings: "PARIS (Routers) August 25, 2004

Sixty years after Paris was seized by the 'Allies,' and the beginning of the American occupation, France remains a failed nation, mired in political corruption and beset by vast pockets of Muslim extremism and anti-semitism, into which the gendarmerie fear to tread. The economy continues to struggle under economic policies driven by failed ideologies, and many of its best and brightest continue to flow out of the country, with only ex-dictators and their families, and hysterical movie stars willing to move there.

Sadly, history has born out the predictions of those who, in the spring of 1944, warned against invading. Many had pointed out what a poor prospect the region was for any kind of democracy, with its long history of belligerence and arrogance, and failed republics."

Monday, June 06, 2005

The Politics of Art

OpinionJournal - Extra: "Two things are worth noting about this article. The first is that it was written by a well-known, much-admired novelist. The second is that it appears to be representative of the political views of a considerable number of other artists who think that all conservatives (including conservative artists) are evil or stupid, or both. Ms. Smiley goes so far as to use the theological term 'invincible ignorance,' which implies that there's no point in arguing with such benighted folk, since their ignorance is invincible.

One finds the same quasireligious language in virtually all of Mr. Kushner's plays, used to much the same purpose: it is meant to indicate that disagreement with the author is not merely wrong but evil, and must necessarily lead to damnation. (Conversely, a play like 'Trumbo' exists not to persuade anyone of Dalton Trumbo's goodness--that is taken for granted--but to serve as a quasireligious ritual of collective self-congratulation, an opportunity for progressives to join together in celebrating a fearless defender of the true faith. That the defender in question was a hack screenwriter who tacitly connived at mass murder on a near-genocidal scale is irrelevant; all that matters is that he 'stood pat' when ordered by the House Un-American Activities Committee to inform on his similarly complicit colleagues.)

Now, it's one thing to feel like this, much less to say so out loud, if you're an elected official. That way lies a more proximate form of damnation. But what if you're an artist? What if you not only believe that more than half of your fellow men are ignorant, but allow this belief to influence the way you make art? The answer is to be found in plays like 'The God of Hell' and 'Embedded,' which are written not for a hypothetical mixed audience of red and blue Americans but for a 100% left-liberal audience whose 100% agreement is presupposed."

This is a very intelligent piece on the nature of art. I've often said that the place least likely to have real debate is the college campus. I must admit I am wrong. It seems there is even less debate in the "arts community". Everyone there knows what you're "supposed to think".

Question authority.

United Airlines Wi-fi

The New York Times > Technology > United Airlines Approved for In-Flight Internet Service: "United Airlines plans to announce today that it is the first domestic airline to receive approval from regulators to install wireless Internet networks on its planes."

Praise the Lord! Now they just need to offer it free and mix in a power supply and they've got my business.

Harvard’s Diversity Grovel by Heather Mac Donald

Harvard’s Diversity Grovel by Heather Mac Donald: "The “underlying . . . fact” of universities, he told the faculty at a February 15 meeting, is that they were “originally designed by men and for men.” In Summers’s view, the male origin of universities undermines any claim they might make to using objective tests of merit. “That reality [of a male founding],” he said, “shapes everything from . . . assumptions about effectiveness in teaching and mentoring, to concepts of excellence.” In other words, there is a male “concept of excellence” in genome research, say, that may not be the same as a female or black “concept of excellence” in genome research.

The deconstruction of objective standards into race and gender politics is common throughout the humanities. If Summers acts on his embrace of deconstructive relativism—he called on February 15 for “rethinking our assumptions in [such] areas [as ‘excellence’]”—standards in science will be the next to go. Any department that claims that it cannot find qualified candidates to meet the Senior VP for D’s “metrics” could face the charge that it is using white male “concepts of excellence.” Thank you very much, but I think I’ll stick with those “concepts” in the interest of ensuring that my medicine works and the airplane I’m using stays in the air."

If you wan't to see the decline of Higher Education at Harvard and probably most other elite institutions, you must read this article.

If you don't read this whole article... well, woe unto you.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

New York City church holds 'Clown Eucharist' - 5/31/05

New York City church holds 'Clown Eucharist' - 5/31/05: "Looking like refugees from Clown Alley at Ringling Bros. Barnum and Bailey Circus, ministers and many parishioners participated in a 'Clown Eucharist' at an Episcopal church in New York City.

Earlier, the rector of Trinity Church-St. Paul's Chapel Trinity Church, the Rev. Dr. James Herbert Cooper, encouraged the parish family to come to church 'in clown dress, big hats, floppy shoes or some sort of foolish garb. Those watching on the Internet might even be foolish enough to put on some white face or a big grease-paint smile as we worship God and learn about the structure of the Eucharist by being the circus which came to town and to church on that day.'"

This is isn't a joke. There's even pictures.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Death throes . . .of failed ideas. - VDH

Death throes . . . - The Washington Times: Commentary - June 03, 2005: "Why all these upheavals?
Global communications now reveal hourly to people abroad how much better life is in Europe than in the Middle East and Asia -- and how in America, Australia and Britain the standard of living is even better than in most of Europe.
The removal of the Taliban and Saddam Hussein and their replacement with democracies proved the United States after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, was neither weak nor cynical. In fact, it was the utopian United Nations, with its oil-for-food, snoozing in Darfur and scandals about peacekeepers, that proved corrupt and unreliable.
The mass mourning of the pope's death revealed a renewed desire for spirituality. Two billion in India and China quietly keep copying the West. Car bombs, fist-shaking mobs and beheadings dispel all the old romance about the Third-World postcolonial 'other.'
What are we left with then?
Democracy, open markets, personal freedom, individual rights, pride in national traditions, worry about big government -- which is what we see in the United States, Britain, Australia and their allies in Japan and the breakaway countries in Europe. Elections in Ethiopia, France, Iraq, Lebanon and Ukraine all point to a desire for more freedom from central state control. "

For Fruit Flies, Gene Shift Tilts Sex Orientation - New York Times

For Fruit Flies, Gene Shift Tilts Sex Orientation - New York Times: "In a series of experiments, the researchers found that females given the male variant of the gene acted exactly like males in courtship, madly pursuing other females. Males that were artificially given the female version of the gene became more passive and turned their sexual attention to other males.

'We have shown that a single gene in the fruit fly is sufficient to determine all aspects of the flies' sexual orientation and behavior,' said the paper's lead author, Dr. Barry Dickson, senior scientist at the Institute of Molecular Biotechnology at the Austrian Academy of Sciences in Vienna. 'It's very surprising.

'What it tells us is that instinctive behaviors can be specified by genetic programs, just like the morphologic development of an organ or a nose.'"

I guess the gender of fruit flies is not socially constructed. This is bad news for university professors in the fruit fly community.

Friday, June 03, 2005

More on Europe and the Left

View From a Height: "In his Washington Post column from today, George Will pretty much sums up Europe's Nanny-state infantilization:

It is fine for people who are not French to admire from afar how 'civilized' the French are in cherishing their 'way of life' -- short workweeks, many weeks of vacation, laws 'protecting' labor by making it difficult to fire people. But those laws, by making employers reluctant to hire, help explain France's double-digit unemployment.

Cast a cold eye on this way of life -- this amalgam of desires for increasing affluence and leisure and weight in the world -- and 'civilized' looks like a euphemism for 'childish.' Children are unaware of the costs of things, and the incompatibility of many desires.

Will doesn't say so, but there's no question that 50 years of living under the American defense umbrella, in a world economy powered by American growth, has reduced the western part of the continent to the emotional stage of teenagers: old enough to operate the toys but not to produce or even understand them.

The EU was the means by which the delinquent French, Germans, and Belgians would entice college-bound New Europe to hang out for the summer rather than working.

The truly sad part is that Europe has entrepreneurial talent out that wazoo - just look at cell phones - but that talent is stifled by a system that resents success, especially new success. America has always benefitted by welcoming such people. Perhaps one of our greatest systemic threats is a China that now also does so, combined with a Democratic party that wants to replicate Europe's political culture here."

Dennis Prager: Hate evil: Case for Judeo-Christian values, part VII

Dennis Prager: Hate evil: Case for Judeo-Christian values, part VII: " As the leading German weekly magazine, Der Spiegel, recently wrote: 'Mr. Bush's recent speeches have made no retreat from the good vs. evil view of the world that the Europeans hate.'

Patrice de Beer, an editor of the leading French newspaper, Le Monde, wrote that in the European Union: 'The notion of the world divided between Good and Evil is perceived with dread.'

Entirely typical of the Left's view of good and evil is this series of questions posed on the leftist website Counterpunch by Gary Leupp, professor of history and of comparative religion at Tufts University: 'Questions for discussion. Was Attila good or evil to invade Gaul? Saddam good or evil to invade Kuwait? Hitler good or evil to invade Poland? Bush good or evil to invade Iraq? Are 'good' and 'evil' really adequate categories to evaluate contemporary and historical events?'

Western Europeans and their American counterparts loathe the language of good and evil and correctly attribute it to religious -- i.e., Judeo-Christian -- values. Among those values is fighting evil and 'burning evil out from your midst.' And to do that, you have to first hate it. Because if you don't hate evil, you won't fight it, and good will lose."

War is not the answer? -: "This passage points to a solution, though: 'There hasn’t been any revolution so far because the potential rebels cannot get guns. No one is willing to arm the dissatisfied majority, and over two thirds of the population lives in poverty. . . . The government seems determined to starve its enemies to death, secure in the knowledge that the victims are unarmed, and the government forces have lots of guns.'"

Those who say "nothing comes from violence" (like Sting) should consider Darfur and then choose between war and starvation.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Slashdot | Microsoft Ends Era Of Closed File Formats

Slashdot | Microsoft Ends Era Of Closed File Formats: "If this interview is correct, it could mean the beginning of the end of Microsoft's proprietary file formats."

Praise the Lord.

Journalist Who Criticized Syrian Presence Is Killed in Lebanon - New York Times

Journalist Who Criticized Syrian Presence Is Killed in Lebanon - New York Times: "UBAI, United Arab Emirates, June 2 - An outspoken journalist known for his writings against Syria's presence in Lebanon was killed in a car bombing in Beirut today, raising tensions in Lebanon just four days after elections for a new Parliament began.

A journalist for Lebanon's top daily paper who had been a critic of Syria was killed in Beirut when a bomb destroyed his car.
Anwar Amro/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Samir Kassir led a call for the resignation of Lebanon's pro-Syrian security chiefs.

The bomb was placed in a vehicle outside the home of the journalist, Samir Kassir, in the predominantly Christian district of Ashrafiya. Mr. Kassir's body lay slumped on one side after the blast as fire crews arrived on the scene, witnesses said. The blast shattered windows in the nearby area.

Mr. Kassir, a columnist at the Lebanese daily An Nahar, was known for his opposition to Syria's role in Lebanon. He blamed Syria for the assassination on Feb. 14 of former Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri and railed about that country's need to pull out of Lebanon. He also led a call for the resignation of Lebanon's pro-Syrian security chiefs."

Anyone like Eason Jordan or Linda Foley who accuse our troops , without proof, of this kind of murder, deserve to be fired.

Kudos to the New York times to report on the real thing.

Take it to the Bank

All change is experienced as loss, even if the result is a net gain. -Rich Bledsoe

Fear and Rejection Of Liberalism- New York Times

Fear and Rejection - New York Times: "Forgive me for making a blunt and obvious point, but events in Western Europe are slowly discrediting large swaths of American liberalism.

Most of the policy ideas advocated by American liberals have already been enacted in Europe: generous welfare measures, ample labor protections, highly progressive tax rates, single-payer health care systems, zoning restrictions to limit big retailers, and cradle-to-grave middle-class subsidies supporting everything from child care to pension security. And yet far from thriving, continental Europe has endured a lost decade of relative decline..."

"The core fact is that the European model is foundering under the fact that billions of people are willing to work harder than the Europeans are. Europeans clearly love their way of life, but don't know how to sustain it.

Over the last few decades, American liberals have lauded the German model or the Swedish model or the European model. But these models are not flexible enough for the modern world. They encourage people to cling fiercely to entitlements their nation cannot afford. And far from breeding a confident, progressive outlook, they breed a reactionary fear of the future that comes in left- and right-wing varieties - a defensiveness, a tendency to lash out ferociously at anybody who proposes fundamental reform or at any group, like immigrants, that alters the fabric of life."

You are forgiven.

A Brave New Blogging World

Companies subvert search results to squelch criticism: "But Quixtar is not alone. Every major company, non-profit and religious group now has to worry about their Web reputation and has to pay very close attention to that first page of search results.

'Managing brand credibility and press exposure is nothing new,' said Nan Dawkins, co-founder of Red Boots Consulting, which focuses on SEO for non-profits. 'The only new wrinkle here is the medium [Internet/search engines] and the tactics used to get visibility in that medium. The reality is that search engines are VERY IMPORTANT to an organization's brand. Search engines are where people look for answers to their questions, and there are a lot of different takes on those answers. Your side of the story may appear, but it is a certainty that it will appear alongside other, varying opinions. If you don't manage it, it may manage you.'"


You can't hide your anti-American eyes, Newsweek.

Riding Sun: Newsweek: America is dead: "As you can see, the cover story shows an American flag, dirtied and tossed in a trash can, its staff snapped in two. The large white text reads, 'Amerika ga shinda hi', which translates to 'The day America died.'

The equivalent international edition of Newsweek, the January 31 issue, featured a picture of Bush on the cover, with the caption 'America Leads ...But is Anyone Following?'"

If you're going to bash the U.S. on foreign soil, don't be two-faced (literally) about it. Own up to it Newsweek, or the blogosphere will make plain what you're cowardly to say to our faces.

I posted on my own need to be forthright here. Newsweek should be who they are, not one face in the U.S. and another face abroad.

This is another example of the Reformation of information dissemination changing the world as we have known it.

More wisdom from your local college...

Althouse: How offensive does something need to be before you see what is offensive?:

Quoted from Jason Rosenfeld, a Marymount professor of art history: "That was the problem with Russia, is that it was full of orthodox religiosity and Christianity. That's why, you know, Lenin (a great Jew), Marx (a great Jew), had it right... Or was Lenin Jewish? ... I don't think he was, but we'll claim him, because he was a good egg... is because they wanted to get rid of religion, you know, religion was the opiate of the masses to Marx, who was a self-hating Jew, I guess, essentially. But my point about this painting is ..."

Oh yeah, that's because religious people are "moral retards". And Marx and Lenin were good eggs. Now it all makes sense.

That will be $20,000 a year, please.

Mad as hell, switching to Mac

Mad as hell, switching to Mac - Yahoo! News: "This is my first column written on a Mac - ever. Maybe I should have done it a long time ago, but I never said I was smart, just obstinate. I was a PC bigot.

But now, I’ve had it. I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore.

In the coming weeks I’m going to keep a diary of an experiment my company began at 6 p.m. April 29, 2005 - an experiment predicated on the hypothesis that the WinTel platform represents the greatest violation of the basic tenets of information security and has become a national economic security risk. I do not say this lightly, and I have never been a Microsoft basher, either. I never criticize a company without a fair bit of explanation, justification and supportive evidence.

I have come to the belief that there is a much easier, more secure way to use computers. After having spent several years focusing my security work on Ma, Pa and the Corporate Clueless, I also have come to the conclusion that if I’m having such security problems, heaven help the 98 percent of humanity who merely want a computer for e-mail and multimedia."

I've been contemplating returning to the Mac platform for my daily tasks. Hey, it's not McRyanMac by chance. I started on the Mac. I may finish there yet.

Leaving the left

In case you missed it, I reproduce this article in it's entirety. File this under why I'm a Republican. Republicans are far from perfect. But the Democratic party has long since been taken over by the Howard Dean left. Apparently even some who have been on the left are waking up to the fact that leftist thinking is morally irresponsible.

Leaving the left / I can no longer abide the simpering voices of self-styled progressives -- people who once championed solidarity:

Nightfall, Jan. 30. Eight-million Iraqi voters have finished risking their lives to endorse freedom and defy fascism. Three things happen in rapid succession. The right cheers. The left demurs. I walk away from a long-term intimate relationship. I'm separating not from a person but a cause: the political philosophy that for more than three decades has shaped my character and consciousness, my sense of self and community, even my sense of cosmos.

I'm leaving the left -- more precisely, the American cultural left and what it has become during our time together.

I choose this day for my departure because I can no longer abide the simpering voices of self-styled progressives -- people who once championed solidarity with oppressed populations everywhere -- reciting all the ways Iraq's democratic experiment might yet implode.

My estrangement hasn't happened overnight. Out of the corner of my eye I watched what was coming for more than three decades, yet refused to truly see. Now it's all too obvious. Leading voices in America's "peace" movement are actually cheering against self-determination for a long-suffering Third World country because they hate George W. Bush more than they love freedom.

Like many others who came of age politically in the 1960s, I became adept at not taking the measure of the left's mounting incoherence. To face it directly posed the danger that I would have to describe it accurately, first to myself and then to others. That could only give aid and comfort to Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter and all the other Usual Suspects the left so regularly employs to keep from seeing its own reflection in the mirror.

Now, I find myself in a swirling metamorphosis. Think Kafka, without the bug. Think Kuhnian paradigm shift, without the buzz. Every anomaly that didn't fit my perceptual set is suddenly back, all the more glaring for so long ignored. The insistent inner voice I learned to suppress now has my rapt attention. "Something strange -- something approaching pathological -- something entirely of its own making -- has the left in its grip," the voice whispers. "How did this happen?" The Iraqi election is my tipping point. The time has come to walk in a different direction -- just as I did many years before.

I grew up in a northwest Ohio town where conservative was a polite term for reactionary. When Martin Luther King Jr. spoke of Mississippi "sweltering in the heat of oppression," he could have been describing my community, where blacks knew to keep their heads down, and animosity toward Catholics and Jews was unapologetic. Liberal and conservative, like left and right, wouldn't be part of my lexicon for a while, but when King proclaimed, "I have a dream," I instinctively cast my lot with those I later found out were liberals (then synonymous with "the left" and "progressive thought").

The people on the other side were dedicated to preserving my hometown's backward-looking status quo. This was all that my 10-year-old psyche needed to know. The knowledge carried me for a long time. Mythologies are helpful that way.

I began my activist career championing the 1968 presidential candidacies of Robert Kennedy and Eugene McCarthy, because both promised to end America's misadventure in Vietnam. I marched for peace and farm worker justice, lobbied for women's right to choose and environmental protections, signed up with George McGovern in 1972 and got elected as the youngest delegate ever to a Democratic convention.

Eventually I joined the staff of U.S. Sen. Howard Metzenbaum, D-Ohio. In short, I became a card-carrying liberal, although I never actually got a card. (Bookkeeping has never been the left's strong suit.) All my commitments centered on belief in equal opportunity, due process, respect for the dignity of the individual and solidarity with people in trouble. To my mind, Americans who had joined the resistance to Franco's fascist dystopia captured the progressive spirit at its finest.

A turning point came at a dinner party on the day Ronald Reagan famously described the Soviet Union as the pre-eminent source of evil in the modern world. The general tenor of the evening was that Reagan's use of the word "evil" had moved the world closer to annihilation. There was a palpable sense that we might not make it to dessert.

When I casually offered that the surviving relatives of the more than 20 million people murdered on orders of Joseph Stalin might not find "evil'" too strong a word, the room took on a collective bemused smile of the sort you might expect if someone had casually mentioned taking up child molestation for sport.

My progressive companions had a point. It was rude to bring a word like "gulag" to the dinner table.

I look back on that experience as the beginning of my departure from a left already well on its way to losing its bearings. Two decades later, I watched with astonishment as leading left intellectuals launched a telethon- like body count of civilian deaths caused by American soldiers in Afghanistan. Their premise was straightforward, almost giddily so: When the number of civilian Afghani deaths surpassed the carnage of Sept. 11, the war would be unjust, irrespective of other considerations.

Stated simply: The force wielded by democracies in self-defense was declared morally equivalent to the nihilistic aggression perpetuated by Muslim fanatics.

Susan Sontag cleared her throat for the "courage" of the al Qaeda pilots. Norman Mailer pronounced the dead of Sept. 11 comparable to "automobile statistics." The events of that day were likely premeditated by the White House, Gore Vidal insinuated. Noam Chomsky insisted that al Qaeda at its most atrocious generated no terror greater than American foreign policy on a mediocre day.

All of this came back to me as I watched the left's anemic, smirking response to Iraq's election in January. Didn't many of these same people stand up in the sixties for self-rule for oppressed people and against fascism in any guise? Yes, and to their lasting credit. But many had since made clear that they had also changed their minds about the virtues of King's call for equal of opportunity.

These days the postmodern left demands that government and private institutions guarantee equality of outcomes. Any racial or gender "disparities" are to be considered evidence of culpable bias, regardless of factors such as personal motivation, training, and skill. This goal is neither liberal nor progressive; but it is what the left has chosen. In a very real sense it may be the last card held by a movement increasingly ensnared in resentful questing for group-specific rights and the subordination of citizenship to group identity. There's a word for this: pathetic.

I smile when friends tell me I've "moved right." I laugh out loud at what now passes for progressive on the main lines of the cultural left.

In the name of "diversity," the University of Arizona has forbidden discrimination based on "individual style." The University of Connecticut has banned "inappropriately directed laughter." Brown University, sensing unacceptable gray areas, warns that harassment "may be intentional or unintentional and still constitute harassment." (Yes, we're talking "subconscious harassment" here. We're watching your thoughts ...).

Wait, it gets better. When actor Bill Cosby called on black parents to explain to their kids why they are not likely to get into medical school speaking English like "Why you ain't" and "Where you is," Jesse Jackson countered that the time was not yet right to "level the playing field." Why not? Because "drunk people can't do that ... illiterate people can't do that."

When self-styled pragmatic feminist Camille Paglia mocked young coeds who believe "I should be able to get drunk at a fraternity party and go upstairs to a guy's room without anything happening," Susan Estrich spoke up for gender- focused feminists who "would argue that so long as women are powerless relative to men, viewing 'yes' as a sign of true consent is misguided."

I'll admit my politics have shifted in recent years, as have America's political landscape and cultural horizon. Who would have guessed that the U.S. senator with today's best voting record on human rights would be not Ted Kennedy or Barbara Boxer but Kansas Republican Sam Brownback?

He is also by most measures one of the most conservative senators. Brownback speaks openly about how his horror at the genocide in the Sudan is shaped by his Christian faith, as King did when he insisted on justice for "all of God's children."

My larger point is rather simple. Just as a body needs different medicines at different times for different reasons, this also holds for the body politic.

In the sixties, America correctly focused on bringing down walls that prevented equal access and due process. It was time to walk the Founders' talk -- and we did. With barriers to opportunity no longer written into law, today the body politic is crying for different remedies.

America must now focus on creating healthy, self-actualizing individuals committed to taking responsibility for their lives, developing their talents, honing their skills and intellects, fostering emotional and moral intelligence, all in all contributing to the advancement of the human condition.

At the heart of authentic liberalism lies the recognition, in the words of John Gardner, "that the ever renewing society will be a free society (whose] capacity for renewal depends on the individuals who make it up." A continuously renewing society, Gardner believed, is one that seeks to "foster innovative, versatile, and self-renewing men and women and give them room to breathe."

One aspect of my politics hasn't changed a bit. I became a liberal in the first place to break from the repressive group orthodoxies of my reactionary hometown.

This past January, my liberalism was in full throttle when I bid the cultural left goodbye to escape a new version of that oppressiveness. I departed with new clarity about the brilliance of liberal democracy and the value system it entails; the quest for freedom as an intrinsically human affair; and the dangers of demands for conformity and adherence to any point of view through silence, fear, or coercion.

True, it took a while to see what was right before my eyes. A certain misplaced loyalty kept me from grasping that a view of individuals as morally capable of and responsible for making the principle decisions that shape their lives is decisively at odds with the contemporary left's entrance-level view of people as passive and helpless victims of powerful external forces, hence political wards who require the continuous shepherding of caretaker elites.

Leftists who no longer speak of the duties of citizens, but only of the rights of clients, cannot be expected to grasp the importance (not least to our survival) of fostering in the Middle East the crucial developmental advances that gave rise to our own capacity for pluralism, self-reflection, and equality. A left averse to making common cause with competent, self- determining individuals -- people who guide their lives on the basis of received values, everyday moral understandings, traditional wisdom, and plain common sense -- is a faction that deserves the marginalization it has pursued with such tenacity for so many years.

All of which is why I have come to believe, and gladly join with others who have discovered for themselves, that the single most important thing a genuinely liberal person can do now is walk away from the house the left has built. The renewal of any tradition that deserves the name "progressive" becomes more likely with each step in a better direction.

Keith Thompson is a Petaluma writer and the author of "Angels and Aliens" and "To Be a Man." His work is at Contact us at"

Beating at Guatanamo

The Indepundit: "Okay, I'll have to come clean. I've never discussed this before, but now seems to be the time. I've been to Guantanamo Bay (GITMO) -- twice. On the first occasion I witnessed a prisoner in handcuffs being beaten repeatedly. I sat there behind a desk and didn't say a word to stop it, I didn't think I could stop it because the ones doing the beating outranked me and I never reported it. He wasn't tortured, but he was beaten with clubs and he was also kicked several times."

How could this have happened, before I was one year old. I thought the military was perfect until George Bush took office.

Read the whole thing.

Amnesty leadership aided Kerry

Amnesty leadership aided Kerry - The Washington Times: Nation/Politics - June 02, 2005: "The top leadership of Amnesty International USA, which unleashed a blistering attack last week on the Bush administration's handling of war detainees, contributed the maximum $2,000 to Sen. John Kerry's presidential campaign. "


Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Gospel-Driven Sanctification, by Jerry Bridges

Gospel-Driven Sanctification, by Jerry Bridges: "But in my daily life, I thought God's blessing depended on the practice of certain spiritual disciplines, such as having a daily quiet time and not knowingly committing any sin. I did not think this out but just unconsciously assumed it, given the Christian culture in which I lived. Yet it determined my attitude toward the Christian life.

My story is not unusual. Evangelicals commonly think today that the gospel is only for unbelievers. Once we're inside the kingdom's door, we need the gospel only in order to share it with those who are still outside. Now, as believers, we need to hear the message of discipleship. We need to learn how to live the Christian life and be challenged to go do it. That's what I believed and practiced in my life and ministry for some time. It is what most Christians seem to believe.

As I see it, the Christian community is largely a performance-based culture today. And the more deeply committed we are to following Jesus, the more deeply ingrained the performance mindset is. We think we earn God's blessing or forfeit it by how well we live the Christian life."

A refreshing blast of the Gospel in this article; one of the best I've ever read.

Austin Bay Blog » Fisking Amnesty, Persevering After Moral Compromise

Austin Bay Blog » UPDATED: Fisking Amnesty, Persevering After Moral Compromise: "Amnesty International is paying a hard price for its PR cheap shot, and it should. (See this Washington Post editorial.) Amnesty’s current leadership inhabits a self-referential echo chamber, and over the next few months will find that there is such a thing as bad publicity, particularly when an organization relies on “moral principles and human rights” An organization with genuine moral principles and genuine respect for human rights must be able to distinguish between scattered crime and focused genocide, between criminal actions at Abu Ghraib and Gitmo (on the one hand) and 9/11, the Taliban, Bali, Saddam, suicide bombers (etc) on the other. Koran flushing? Does anyone remember the Taliban’s destruction of the Buddas of Bubiyan? Does Amnesty? Amnesty has cheapened the language of suffering, and for an organization espousing Amnesty’s principles, this is a grievous error."

The whole post is worthy: an even-handed examination of how people always corrupt even the noblest of causes.

'American Gulag'

'American Gulag': "But we draw the line at the use of the word 'gulag' or at the implication that the United States has somehow become the modern equivalent of Stalin's Soviet Union. Guantanamo Bay is an ad hoc creation, designed to contain captured enemy combatants in wartime. Abuses there -- including new evidence of desecrating the Koran -- have been investigated and discussed by the FBI, the press and, to a still limited extent, the military. The Soviet gulag, by contrast, was a massive forced labor complex consisting of thousands of concentration camps and hundreds of exile villages through which more than 20 million people passed during Stalin's lifetime and whose existence was not acknowledged until after his death. Its modern equivalent is not Guantanamo Bay, but the prisons of Cuba, where Amnesty itself says a new generation of prisoners of conscience reside; or the labor camps of North Korea, which were set up on Stalinist lines; or China's laogai , the true size of which isn't even known; or, until recently, the prisons of Saddam Hussein's Iraq."

From the Washington Post?

There is hope.

Interesting Stuff