Monday, April 30, 2007

Ahh the Alma Mater

The Onion

Prospective Student Had Most Fun Getting Drunk At Arizona State

BRINKLEY, AR—After taking a week off from school to evaluate prospective colleges, high school senior Angela Ross said Monday that, though...

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Sunday, April 29, 2007

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Pay no attention

Power Line: Trifecta

So al-Hadi, a former Iraqi soldier who became a top al Qaeda operative in Afghanistan and later supervised that organization's operations in Iraq was caught re-entering that country from Iran: three entities that, we are told, cannot possibly have anything to do with one another.

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Why the war is unpopular among the clueless -

WELL, THIS IS NICE: "The al-Qaeda leader who is thought to have devised the plan for the July 7 suicide bombings in London and an array of terrorist plots against Britain has been captured by the Americans. Abd al-Hadi al-Iraqi, a former major in Saddam Hussein’s army, was apprehended as he tried to enter Iraq from Iran and was transferred this week to the 'high-value detainee programme' at Guantanamo Bay."

Hey, wait -- an "al-Qaeda leader" who's also a "former major in Saddam Hussein's army"? But I thought there was no connection between Saddam and Al Qaeda. Or between Al Qaeda and Iran . . . .

UPDATE: Don Surber: London bombings? What London bombings?

The U.S. announced on Friday that it captured the mastermind behind the 7/7/2005 bombings in London.

But you would not know it by reading the New York Times, the Washington Post or the Associated Press.

None of them mentioned the London bombings in reporting on the capture of the man who organized that attack, Abd al-Hadi al-Iraqi (aka, Abu Abdallah).

Instead, reporters concentrated on where this major player in the war on terrorism was held after his capture. Incredible.

I don't know. It doesn't surprise me.

UPDATE: Ed Morrissey comments: "All of these papers had hours after the Times of London report to get the London bombings into the story. The Times goes to bed at 7 pm ET and hits the feeds and wire services. None of the American media bothered to check on Abd al-Hadi al-Iraqi. Readers should ask themselves whether that comes from a lack of intellectual curiosity, or whether it comes from a bias that puts the circumstances of the detention of a terrorist at a higher priority than the terrorism itself."

Either way, they're doing a crappy job. But if he'd had a connection to Jack Abramoff, you can bet they'd have mentioned it!

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Thursday, April 26, 2007

Global Warming Indicators

Apparently it's not that serious. Or at least they aren't. 2008 Candidates Rely on Private Jets

WASHINGTON -- A flock of small jets took flight from Washington Thursday, each carrying a Democratic presidential candidate to South Carolina for the first debate of the political season.

For Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton, Barack Obama, Chris Dodd and Joe Biden, it was wheels up shortly after they voted in favor of legislation requiring that U.S. troops begin returning home from Iraq in the fall.

No one jet pooled, no one took commercial flights to save money, fuel or emissions.

All but Biden, who flew on a private jet, chartered their flights -- a campaign expense of between $7,500 and $9,000.

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Boston Clean Town

In Pictures: The World's Cleanest Cities -
In Pictures: The World's Cleanest Cities: Boston

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Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Get the Red out.

Bluegrass Military Affairs Coalition Online - Red Friday

Ask a uniformed member of the U.S. military, "What can I do to make things better for you?"
You will likely receive in reply, "We need your support and prayers."

You can show your support of the troops by example:
wear some thing RED every Friday.

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Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Why I continue to believe in God

Reasonable Faith: q_and_a_What do you think of Richard Dawkins argument for atheism in The God Delusion

So Dawkins' argument for atheism is a failure even if we concede, for the sake of argument, all its steps. But, in fact, several of these steps are plausibly false. Take just step (3), for example. Dawkins' claim here is that one is not justified in inferring design as the best explanation of the complex order of the universe because then a new problem arises: who designed the designer?

This rejoinder is flawed on at least two counts. First, in order to recognize an explanation as the best, one needn't have an explanation of the explanation. This is an elementary point concerning inference to the best explanation as practiced in the philosophy of science. If archaeologists digging in the earth were to discover things looking like arrowheads and hatchet heads and pottery shards, they would be justified in inferring that these artifacts are not the chance result of sedimentation and metamorphosis, but products of some unknown group of people, even though they had no explanation of who these people were or where they came from. Similarly, if astronauts were to come upon a pile of machinery on the back side of the moon, they would be justified in inferring that it was the product of intelligent, extra-terrestrial agents, even if they had no idea whatsoever who these extra-terrestrial agents were or how they got there. In order to recognize an explanation as the best, one needn't be able to explain the explanation. In fact, so requiring would lead to an infinite regress of explanations, so that nothing could ever be explained and science would be destroyed. So in the case at hand, in order to recognize that intelligent design is the best explanation of the appearance of design in the universe, one needn't be able to explain the designer.

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Monday, April 23, 2007

But is it Civil War?

My Way News - Philly Struggles With Rising Murder Rate

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - A bloody, bullet-filled weekend left 11 people dead across the city, where drugs and disrespect have trumped brotherly love and the murder rate is on pace to be the highest in a decade.

Philadelphia has seen more than one killing a day this year, totaling 127 as of Monday afternoon. New York, Chicago and Los Angeles - whose populations are much larger than Philadelphia's 1.5 million residents - have had fewer homicides this year.

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Sunday, April 22, 2007

Stark: Early Christianity

Just read the whole thing.

The Forgotten Ways » Blog Archive » a double take on early christianity: an interview with rodney stark

One tradition you question is that Christianity was primarily a movement of the poor. Why?

RS: In the upper-class and senatorial families, and even the imperial family, there were many women who were Christians, even early on. In the 1920s we found a paving block dedicated to Erastus, whom Paul mentioned in his Letter to the Corinthians, and the block shows that Erastus was city treasurer. And there’s reason to believe that we have in the early Church a quite literate group. When you read the New Testament, for example, ask: Who are these people talking to? The language there is the language used by educated people.

You describe the everyday misery of the ancient world. Did Christianity change that?

RS: It made it a lot more bearable. The Church didn’t clean up the streets. Christians didn’t put in sewers. So you still had to live with a trench running down the middle of the road, in which you could find dead bodies decomposing. But what Christians did was take care of each other. Their apartments were as smoky as the pagan apartments, since neither had chimneys, and they were cold and wet and they stank. But Christians loved one another, and when they got sick they took care of each other. Someone brought you soup. You can do an enormous amount to relieve those miseries if you look after each other.

You also argue for steady growth by individual conversions rather than by mass conversions. Why?

RS: We don’t have a single documented case of mass conversion. Yes, there’s the passage in the Book of Acts, and I’m not one of these people who say, “Don’t trust the Bible.” But you’ve got to understand what people meant by numbers in those times. Numbers were rhetorical exercises. You’d say a million when you really meant a hundred. What you’re really saying is “lots.” In Acts, I think the numbers are meant to say, “Look, wonderful things are happening.” If the historical demographers are right, Jerusalem had about 25,000 people in it at the time. So if you start talking about eight or ten thousand converts, that’s a little bit out of scale.

What about forced conversions?

RS: There weren’t any in the time I’m talking about. Constantine didn’t cause the triumph of Christianity. He rode off it.

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Not Iraq, Not News

BBC NEWS | Africa | Scores killed in Somalia clashes

More than 60 people have been killed in a fourth day of heavy fighting between Ethiopian troops and Islamist militia in Somalia's capital of Mogadishu.

Doctors said they had been overrun with casualties and there were reports of bodies strewn across streets.

More than 130 people were killed and 200 injured in the first three days of fighting, a local rights group said.

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Friday, April 20, 2007

The Present and Future of Disease

This is pretty cool.

Who is Sick?

Analysis of 123 sicknesses in the current view

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Family Horror

Va. Gunman's Family Feels Hopeless, Lost

"We are humbled by this darkness. We feel hopeless, helpless and lost. This is someone that I grew up with and loved. Now I feel like I didn't know this person," Cho's sister said. "We have always been a close, peaceful and loving family. My brother was quiet and reserved, yet struggled to fit in. We never could have envisioned that he was capable of so much violence." She said her family will cooperate fully with investigators and "do whatever we can to help authorities understand why these senseless acts happened. We have many unanswered questions as well." Wendy Adams, whose niece, Leslie Sherman, was killed in the massacre, said of the family's statement: "I'm not so generous to be able to forgive him for what he did. But I do feel for the family. I do feel sorry for them." "I do believe they're living a nightmare," she added.

I do too.

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FYI - Transgendered HS

My Way News - Transgender Student Runs for Prom King

FRESNO, Calif. (AP) - When school officials announce the name of the Fresno High School prom king on Saturday, Cinthia Covarrubias will be wearing a tuxedo just like the six boys vying for the honor.

School officials this week added the 17-year-old's name to the ballot for prom king, reversing a previous district protocol that allowed only males to run for king and females for prom queen.

Gay youth advocates called it a landmark victory for campus gender expression and said they believe it's the first time in the U.S. that an openly transgender student has run for prom royalty.

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Thursday, April 19, 2007

VT Murderer: Victimology 501

Yesterday I heard Dennis Prager say that a lifetime of studying evil has led to this conclusion: People who do evil see themselves as victims.

Police: Gunman’s package offers little - Massacre at Virginia Tech -

The extensive material sent to NBC News this week by Cho Seung-Hui includes an angry diatribe against the rich and numerous unspecified enemies. Among the statements:

• You have vandalized my heart, raped my soul and torched my conscience. You thought it was one pathetic boy’s life you were extinguishing. Thanks to you, I die like Jesus Christ, to inspire generations of the weak and the defenseless people.

• Do you know what it feels to be spit on your face and to have trash shoved down your throat? Do you know what it feels like to dig your own grave? Do you know what it feels like to have throat slashed from ear to ear? Do you know what it feels like to be torched alive? Do you know what it feels like to be humiliated and be impaled upon on a cross? And left to bleed to death for your amusement? You have never felt a single ounce of pain your whole life. Did you want to inject as much misery in our lives as you can just because you can?

• You had everything you wanted. Your Mercedes wasn’t enough, you brats. Your golden necklaces weren’t enough, you snobs. Your trust fund wasn’t enough. Your vodka and Cognac weren’t enough. All your debaucheries weren’t enough. Those weren’t enough to fulfill your hedonistic needs. You had everything.

I am reminded of Garrison Keillor who said: " It's a dangerous thing to start feeling sorry for yourself, because once you start, it's so satisfying.

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Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Technology in Tragedy

'Ismail Ax' sparks web frenzy - Technology -

The rapid search and response of that term offered another snapshot of how quickly the web disseminates information and connects people.

On Monday, compelling mobile phone videos of the scene at Virginia Tech raced across the web. The next day, the internet provided reflection and a search for answers.

At, a social networking site popular with college and high school students, hundreds of impromptu memorials to the victims were posted, many adorned with a black ribbon circling the school's logo.

Yahoo reported that "Virginia Tech shooting" was the most searched term on its site. Traffic at news organization sites also surged.

At, the report about Ismail Ax and other details set off the busiest hour in the site's history, with 524,000 page views during the early afternoon.

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Sunday, April 15, 2007

You can't make stuff like this up. Cold, rain cuts short global warming rally

More than two dozen demonstrators braved cold, wet weather Saturday in Reno to attend a rally designed to draw attention to global warming.

The event was cut short by heavy rain and sleet, said organizer Lisa Stiller of the Northern Nevada Coalition for Climate Change.
“It’s kind of disappointing that the weather kept people away,” Stiller said. “But we still think it (climate change) is something that people should talk about.”
The storm prevented the use of solar ovens for a potluck picnic, Stiller said, and caused the planned two-hour demonstration to break up after about an hour.

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Saturday, April 14, 2007

Imus Obama: An apt response.

Obama compares rappers to Imus - Yahoo! News

FLORENCE, S.C. - Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama on Friday questioned the way some rappers talk about women in songs, saying the lyrics are similar to the derogatory language used by embattled radio host Don Imus.

They are "degrading their sisters. That doesn't inspire me," Obama said of some hip-hop artists when a man in a crowd of about 1,000 questioned him. The Illinois senator was responding to a question of what inspired him, and said God and civil rights activists.

He's absolutely right. Good for him. And us.

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Friday, April 13, 2007

Alternative Education

Hugh Hewitt

HH: A few days ago, I was riding around with my intern, who is an enrollee at the Torrey Honors program at Biola University, and we were talking about what he was reading and not reading. And it occurred to me that most young college students are absolutely lost. They lack a program like Torrey, they lack a teacher like David Allen White, to tell them what they ought to read, at least when they’re freshmen or sophomores. And so I conspired with David Allen White, professor extraordinaire at the United States Naval Academy, where he’s been teaching Shakespeare and other matters to the mid-shipmen for more than a quarter century, and John Mark Reynolds, professor of philosophy at Biola University, and the head of the Torrey Honors program there, to put together a reading list, and it’s the top 30 books that every one of you ought to have read, and certainly freshmen and sophomores ought to have read. Here’s my plan. Take one a week for the next 30 weeks, or one a week during your year in college, you’ll be at least partially educated.

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Imus not speak...

The Imus Fallout: Who Can Say What? | TIME

Imus was a famous, rich, old white man picking on a bunch of young, mostly black college women. So it seemed pretty cut-and-dried that his bosses at CBS Radio would suspend his show — half frat party, half political salon for the Beltway elite — for two weeks, and that MSNBC would cancel the TV simulcast. And that Imus would plan to meet with the students he offended. Case closed, justice served, lesson —possibly — learned. Move on. But a reasonable person could ask, What was the big deal? And I don't mean the lots-of-black-rappers-say-"hos" argument, though we'll get to that. Rather, I mean, what celebrity isn't slurring some group nowadays?

Read the whole interesting thing.

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Isn't that bad for the environment?

Hollywood's Smoke Alarm | TIME

Today cigarettes are more common onscreen than at any other time since midcentury: 75% of all Hollywood films--including 36% of those rated G or PG--show tobacco use, according to a 2006 survey by the University of California, San Francisco.
I guess it depends on whose Ox is Gored. ;-)

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This is an adult subject:

Epstein-Dumas Test of Adultness (EDTA)

Being an "adult" in modern society requires a wide variety of skills and knowledge. This test will show you where your skills and knowledge are strong or weak in 14 different areas. It contains 140 yes/no questions and should take you between 10 and 15 minutes to complete. The initial questions (below) are being asked for research purposes. More information about this test can be found in Dr. Epstein's book, The Case Against Adolescence: Rediscovering the Adult in Every Teen (Sanger, CA: Quill Driver Books, 2007).

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Wednesday, April 11, 2007

New Term Alert: Secular Hypocrites

Climate change concert star Madonna accused of hypocrisy | the Daily Mail

Built on the model Bob Geldof used for the anti-poverty Live 8 concerts in 2005, Live Earth will also be held simultaneously in Johannesburg, Rio de Janeiro, Shanghai, Sydney and Tokyo. More than 100 rock and pop stars will perform during the 24-hour live concert. But green campaigners called the stars' involvement hypocritical last night saying their lifestyles which demand they jet themselves and their huge entourages on world tours give them enormously large carbon footprints. Last year, for example, they report how Madonna flew as many as 100 technicians, dancers, backing singers, managers and family members on a 56-date world tour in private jets and commercial airliners. Madonna herself also has a collection of fuel-guzzling cars, including a Mercedes Maybach, two Range Rovers, Audi A8s and a Mini Cooper S. Yet she will headline the London concert to "combat the climate crisis". "Madonna's Confessions tour produced 440 tonnes of CO2 in four months of last year. And that was just the flights between the countries, not taking into account the truckloads of equipment needed, the power to stage such a show and the transport of all the thousands of fans getting to the gigs. "The Red Hot Chili Peppers produced 220 tonnes of CO2 with their private jet alone over six months on their last world tour which was 42 dates. "The average a British person produces is 10 tonnes a year," said John Buckley, managing director-of He added: "It's great for the celebrities to come out and support the cause, but they then have to follow it up in their own lifestyles. "We should now keep a close eye on whether Madonna and the others makes any changes to their own lifestyle. "Perhaps her next world tour will be performed in one venue, but broadcast to billions over the internet."

Don't hold your breath.

The end credits of "An Inconvenient Truth" have suggestions on how to lead green lifestyle. The suggestions included "use fluorescent light bulbs" which our family does. Also, "take public transportation", which I do daily. How ironic that a religious Christian like me would live a more consistent environmental lifestyle than Al Gore or many of his wealthy co-religionists.

I think my carbon footprint holds up pretty well actually. Is that boasting in my own piety?

Is Global Warming a secular religion?


At least no one will accuse Al Gore or Madonna of being (secular) religious fanatics.

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How does Al Gore do it?

Bloomberg: Temperatures Rival Coldest April

Just 10 days into April, temperatures have averaged 42 degrees Fahrenheit (5.5 Celsius), about one degree warmer than the average for April 1874, the coldest on record, said Michael Silva, meteorologist with the National Weather Service's Upton, New York, station.

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Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Solar Warming Increasing

Global warming hits Mars too: study

Global warming could be heating Mars four times faster than Earth due to a mutually reinforcing interplay of wind-swept dust and changes in reflected heat from the Sun, according to a study released Wednesday.

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Tuesday, April 03, 2007

NYT Profile of Northeast Type Students

These are the kinds of students I meet in Boston and see around the Northeast. The academic pressure standards already have a familiar ring to our family, even though we don't live in Newton, MA.

For Girls, It’s Be Yourself, and Be Perfect, Too - New York Times

To spend several months in a pressure cooker like Newton North is to see what a girl can be — what any young person can be — when encouraged by committed teachers and by engaged parents who can give them wide-ranging opportunities.

It is also to see these girls struggle to navigate the conflicting messages they have been absorbing, if not from their parents then from the culture, since elementary school. The first message: Bring home A’s. Do everything. Get into a top college — which doesn’t have to be in the Ivy League, or one of the other elites like Williams, Tufts or Bowdoin, but should be a “name” school.

The second message: Be yourself. Have fun. Don’t work too hard.

And, for all their accomplishments and ambitions, the amazing girls, as their teachers and classmates call them, are not immune to the third message: While it is now cool to be smart, it is not enough to be smart.

You still have to be pretty, thin and, as one of Esther’s classmates, Kat Jiang, a go-to stage manager for student theater who has a perfect 2400 score on her SATs, wrote in an e-mail message, “It’s out of style to admit it, but it is more important to be hot than smart.”

“Effortlessly hot,” Kat added.

If you are free to be everything, you are also expected to be everything. What it comes down to, in this place and time, is that the eternal adolescent search for self is going on at the same time as the quest for the perfect résumé.

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Interesting Stuff