Monday, January 31, 2005

A terrible thing to waste

Fox News: "[M]ore than one in three high school students said it goes 'too far' in the rights it guarantees. Only half of the students said newspapers should be allowed to publish freely without government approval of stories."

Another example of kids going to school without being educated. Another example of why education should be devolved to local communities.

Just who benefits when citizens don't know their own rights? Who decides that it's more important to have a new gym floor, newer classrooms, newer buildings etc. etc. than to educate citizens?

I wonder if something else might be in play also. Might kids be rebelling against the excesses of their parents? There seems to be a significant number of people in this country who conceive of civil rights primarily in terms of doing whatever they want without having to face moral judgments or even the natural consequences of their actions, that the end of freedom is lack of responsibility. There are also those (Hello, ACLU) who conceive of freedom as the right of priveleged groups not to be offended by expressions they don't want to see or hear. In both of these situations, freedom is a cynical, even hypocritical concept. Maybe there are high schoolers who see this and have little regard for "freedom" of this sort, and haven't been taught a better conception of it.

When a land transgresses, it has many rulers. Proverbs 28:2

Macroevolution: a smoking gun

I've had it. Between Richard Sternberg losing his position at the Smithsonian for allowing a paper that questioned atheistic accounts of origins to the ignorant ranting of non-scientists who think that science mandates philosophical naturalism, to those who have been lied to and believe that large-scale evolution by naturalistic means is scientific, I've just had it. Time to blow the lid off.

An unpublished paper by three evolutionary biologists at UC Davis admits that macroevolution --large scale evolution-- is unscientific. For obvious reasons, the paper is prefaced with this warning:

Do Not Cite In Any Context Without Permission Of Authors

Know what? I don't care anymore. Let them pursue legal action! I'd love to see them defend this, and what it says about their position, in a court of law. This amounts to taxpayer-funded deception of the public. So bring it on.

The fifth paragraph of the paper says this:

“Macroevolution” is the evolutionary biologist’s term for the large scale and long-term pattern of evolution. The contrasting term, “microevolution,” refers to generation-to-generation changes. Because much important evolutionary change takes place at macroevolutionary time scales, it is important for evolutionary theory to explain such changes. Unfortunately, while small-scale microevolutionary changes are accessible to direct observation and critical experiment, processes that act on long time scales are not.

Read that last bit again. Let it sink in. Macroevolutionary processes are not accessible to direct observation and experiment.

"Not accessible to direct observation and experiment" means not scientific! When is the last time you heard that in a court case on whether to allow ID in schools? When is the last time you heard it from Richard Dawkins or Eugenie Scott? Dawkins surely knows it, which is why he argues for macroevolution by using rhetorical tricks, not references to controlled experiments. It's deceit, pure and simple. It's the deliberate misrepresentation of an agenda. It's atheism, given the sugar coating of "science" and shoved down the throat of every child in school. It's the basis for rejection of moral absolutes as outmoded and irrational relics from a time before we "knew" that we are just another primate.

In The Creationists, Ronald Numbers relates that American schools got serious about teaching evolution during the early 1960s. Is it a coincidence that the first generation to be given such an education quickly lost its way in a drug-induced fog of anomie? Is it a coincidence that that generation, now in charge of things, includes those who lie to the public about the status of science relating to origins and use immoral, unethical means to silence dissent? Might does indeed make right, if we are merely another primate. Philosophical materialists might reject social Darwinism or euthanasia, but do so without a rational basis. They might do well to remember that as the years go by and they become infirm, and must rely on the tender mercies of those whom they raised and taught.

And when they lie to the public about science discrediting the involvement of a Creator, they ought to realize that the Creator is not thereby done away with.

This needs to be exposed. Like CBS, the scientific community will not be served, nor its reputation protected, by continued deceit. It's time to come clean.

Saturday, January 29, 2005

Further thought on Smithsonian witch hunt

There is another problem with this sort of behavior at a premier scientific institution. There are those who allege that this sort of thing is par for the course, that most if not all universities, journals etc. are so firmly committed to Darwinism (whether the term means speciation or philosophical materialism) that any dissenting voice is silenced. Whether true or not, the Smithsonian has just given credence to this fear. It has also called into question the objective, rational nature of the scientific enterprise. Further, it is unlikely today that such imposition of dogma can escape the public's attention.

Polls consistently show that about half of Americans believe that the universe came into being some 10,000 years ago along with all modern and now-extinct species. This single fact is sufficient to demonstrate that the policy of keeping alternatives to evolution out of the classroom and the scientific journals has been an abject failure. It is also contrary to the spirit of scientific enquiry to state at the outset that some conclusions are not just expected but mandatory, while differing conclusions are forbidden and fatal to one's career. It is not those who have facts and reason on their side who must resort to consorship and witch hunts.

Insistence on philosophical materialism in the biological sciences as The Truth is unscientific, hostile to scientific progress and undermines the public's confidence in science as an objective attempt to explain the natural world. It is time that this ideological hijacking be ended. In our postmodern age, there are enough assaults of an irrational nature on science. Scientists shouldn't be providing ammunition for rational assaults as well.

Quantum step in journal publishing

Perhaps the time has come for peer-reviewed scientific journals to receive a challange from online publishing. Yes, it could be a rather messy affair, especially at first. Here are potential disadvantages:

- Inclusion of bad research and pseudoscience along with the good stuff. However, sites or online journal proprietors would earn reputations for delivering quality work, just as in journalism. It would be a small matter to demonstrate a paper as coming from a reputable researcher at a known institution: one way would be for institutions to host their own papers online.

- Possible proliferation of journals, making it harder to find all good, relevant papers. This too should be remedied in time, due to the linking power of the Web.

The rise of the blogosphere could provide a template for the self-assembly of a network for the dissemination of scientific papers: any crackpot with an opinion has access, but those who rise to the top do so for a reason.

Now here are some advantages:

- Less expense. Workers would not be limited to those journals that they and/or their employers want to pay for. (Now, perhaps Journal of Cetaceans might be adequate for some, but there are some specialties -like microbiology- that have many different journals, and maintaining access to all is expensive.)

- Much shorter publishing time. Currently, papers are submitted to journals, assessed by referees, then (if approved) slated for publication, then finally printed and delivered. The process takes months. Since science is a cooperative effort, with later research building on the progress of earlier research, this should accelerate the pace of new discoveries. In areas of research with medical applications the benefits are readily apparent.

- If the past is indicative, new discoveries create even more new questions and avenues for research. Thus, shorter publishing time might lead to increased need for researchers: job security for scientists.

- More flexible format, no space constraints. Want to include spreadsheets containing your data? Photos, photomicrographs, long lengths of DNA sequence? Go right ahead! Set them up as separate Web pages or downloadable files so your paper isn't cluttered! Maybe you're getting on in years and the small print has become a problem. Just reset your browser's display!

- Want journals with an ideological bent, or lack of one? There will be room for both. The only thing that would be militated against is insulated groupthink. Since an online journal would be a list of links, anyone can create their own journal, linking (or not) to whatever they choose. But again, the cream would rise to the top. Related to this, nobody could use the claim of censorship by the peer-reviewed journals to give credence to pseudoscientific ideas.

In short, I think that the publishing of scientific journals could profit from a democratic, online revolution without losing quality. The potential pitfalls would be manageable and the benefits significant.

Crushing of dissent at Smithsonian

WorldNetDaily: "First, he asked whether Sternberg was a religious fundamentalist. She told him no. Coddington then asked if Sternberg was affiliated with or belonged to any religious organization. ... He then asked where Sternberg stood politically; ... he asked, 'Is he a right-winger? What is his political affiliation?'

The supervisor recounted the conversation to Sternberg, who also quotes her observing: "There are Christians here, but they keep their heads down."

Why must a Christian keep his or her head down? Biology is not inherently anti- or un-Christian. Some Christians are even evolutionists, in the biological sense. The word has apparently taken on additional meaning though: one which takes a rigid position on issues that are outside the domain of science.

Here is further evidence that, for some in the scientific establishment, Darwinism is not so much an explanation of biological phenomena as an anti-Christian worldview. We see a meaning of the term "evolution" that has nothing to do with the origin of new species through mutation and natural selection. It is a philosophical position being given the cloak of science.

Klinghoffer points out the circularity of the arguments of critics who insisted intelligent design was unscientific because if had not been put forward in a peer-reviewed scientific journal.

"Now that it has," he wrote, "they argue that it shouldn't have been because it's unscientific."

Over the past few years, but most dramatically during the recent presedential election, we have seen the unmasking of propaganda posing as journalism, made possible because a few people effectively acted as gatekeepers deciding what the public needs to be told, and how. Of course, it doesn't follow from this realization that real journalism doesn't exist, or that all journalists are ideological partisans. Similarly, there has been an academic oligopoly with decision-making power in hiring and publishing, who have been effectively defining science as denial of a Creator. Yes, many Christians are scientists, but it's hard to tell how many must "keep their heads down". Biology will stagnate if it continues to be controlled by gatekeepers who impose a fringe, non-scientific dogma upon it.

Friday, January 28, 2005

Compassion through the anti-Christian looking glass

This week, two unimaginable events of human suffering are being addressed. Yet Christianity Today reports the strangest set of priorities in the minds of some people.

Predictably, the UN is using the aftermath of the tsunami to advance its own influence and importance. Oxfam is arguing that the UN ought to be given the authority to accredit those relief agencies who are helping the people of Southeat Asia. Put together with complaints of some that some Christian aid agencies are "proselytizing" and the anti-Christian sentiment of the UN, it is not a stretch to imagine Christians being barred from relief efforts if this were accomplished. (More from the always funny ScrappleFace.) The net effect would be that relief efforts would be barred from many who lack selfish motivations and the pool of reliev workers would be more dominated by those who expected pay and/or power for their efforts: global relief would be merely the globalization of your local welfare office, where welfare dollars trickle down through layers of bureaucracy to recipients, and those in need are not so much human beings made in the image of God as job security. (This is not to impugn the motives of everyone in welfare or social service work! I would submit though, that for someone with an essentially humanistic worldview to engage in altruism there needs to be a irrational "leap of faith", because naturalistic Darwinism does not logically lead to altruism; they are in fact opposites. Social Darwinism is commonly rejected now, not because it doesn't follow from philosophical naturalism but because most people rightly find it abhorrent, even if they lack sufficient epistemic basis to reject it.)

The second case of perverting a tragedy for extreme ideological ends reported by CT involves the claims by a couple of Jews --you can find extremists in any group-- that Christian evangelism or the teaching of Intelligent Design in schools is tantamount to the Holocaust. On ID, Gerald Plessner claims,

""our histories are filled with the oppression, torture, and death that religious zealotry brought upon our ancestors, both ancient and modern. … It is time for all of us to understand that every individual in America has a right to be free of offense or assault by someone else's religious expressions or convictions. That is why it is wrong to teach the Adam and Eve story or Intelligent Design in public schools."

Got that? Freedom means that anyone who offends me must be silenced. Unless they are teaching philosophical naturalism in schools as the only permissible view, which in Plessner's estimation is the opposite of "zealotry". We are definitely through the looking glass at this point.

On the equally silly equating of evangelism with the Holocaust, I couldn't put it better than CT:

"Such articles are a farce, a kind of moral equivalence that is itself a kind of holocaust denial."

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Bob the Tomato on SpongeBob

Christianity Today: interviews Veggie Tales co-creator Phil Vischer on the fuss over SpngeBob:

What concerns do you have about this debate over We Are Family (and its related issue of SpongeBob's sexual identity)?

To be honest, I'm really not sure what we're trying to accomplish here. I find somewhat baffling the great shock we evangelicals register when we catch the world acting, well, 'worldly.' I mean, isn't that kind of the point? They're the 'world,' right? When you start with the assumption that the world is fallen, you're much less likely to be disappointed when you find it actually to be the case.

Doh! Now why can't the MSM interview Bob the Tomato when it wants an evangelical perspective? Why does it always have to be Dobson, Falwell or Robertson? It would be more entertaining and likely more informative, not to mention less likely to produce the usual result:

I doubt if this specific incident will amount to anything more than another "look at the wacky evangelicals" sidebar.

Some are wacky, no doubt. But what do we say about the MSM always seeking out evangelicalism's worst spokesmen, and even then misrepresenting their views? Just for a lark, they ought to try getting a quote or two from this guy?

More generosity with other people's money

WorldNetDaily: "Calling it an 'experimental' tax, Chirac proposed a levy on airline tickets, some fuels or financial transactions.

According to Chirac, the $6 billion annually now being spent to stem the spread of AIDS is not enough, saying $10 billion is needed.

'We are failing in the face of this terrible pandemic,' he told the Davos gathering."

Given that it's Jacques Chirac making the suggestion, I'm not sure whether his intention is for the goods and services purchased by the tax to come from French businesses (at inflated prices), or whether he's just worried about not being able to import labor from Africa.

Tell you what, M. Chirac. Come clean on Oil Gor Food, and maybe you will get a more receptive audience. (Ha! Like that will happen!)

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

NHL's last-gasp effort, my own crazy idea

ESPN: It's hoped the absence of Goodenow and Bettman 'will create a spark with different guys in the room, which I think is a good idea,' one team player representative told on Monday.

'Obviously the other way wasn't working,' he said.

There has been the strong perception throughout the dispute that the personalities of both leaders have kept the two sides apart, that this has been about Bettman and Goodenow as much as the issues. Wednesday, that theory will be put to the test.

If this end-run around Bettman and Goodenow rescues the season because the owners cave (i.e. if the lockout has been hurting them more than they let on) then they are going to look awfully bad and will be in need of a scapegoat. Goodenow will be in danger as welll, although he just might keep his job if the players get what they are looking for. On the other hand, nobody is going to come out of this looking good. If nothing else this whoe mess has pointed out some systemic problems in the NHL that need to be addressed if the league is to survive. There has been talk about some issues for a while, particularly about increasing scoring and growing the fan base.

Here's a wild idea: Create a two-tier NHL, along the lines of the English Premiership. The top tier would be composed of elite teams who play each other. Here you would see the likes of the Avalanche, Wings, Canucks, Flyers, Senators, Leafs, Lightning, etc. Maybe 10-12 teams in all. These would play for the Stanley Cup, with the additional revenue from the playoffs paying for those elite players. The 2 or 3 teams that finish at the bottom would be demoted to the second tier for the next season, and the top-finishing 2 or 3 teams in the second tier would be promoted to the elite league. Potential benefits of this arrangement:

- Higher level of play in the elite league. Freewheeling elite teams would not be forced to grind it out and win 2-1 against teams that compensate for lack of talent with clutch-and-grab and the neutral zone trap. Peter Forsberg would not play the game with a third-line opponent draped across his back, which might entice him back from Sweden.

- Stronger connection between performance and profit, as low-cost winning teams would be rewarded with promotion and increased income, and high-cost, chronic underachievers (Hello, Rangers!) would be relegated and be forced to revamp their lineup.

- The survival of the league as a whole would not be tied to the survival of bottom-dwelling expansion clubs that can't turn a profit, which some people think should not have been allowed in the NHL to begin with.

- A possibility of limited play between elite NHL clubs and elite European clubs --a sort of Champions' League-- which would not be practical on a large scale involving all NHL clubs. This could increase the fan base in Europe, where fans seldom if ever get to see the best players in the world, who now play in North America, and perhaps promote an expansion of TV coverage across the pond. These too would increase revenue for everyone involved.

Like I said, it's a crazy idea. But the league needs to rethink things at a basic level, and not get tunnel-visioned like Bettman and Goodenow.

...same as the old boss, Iraq version

WorldNetDaily: While Iraq is making provision for Iraqi exiles in more than 14 countries to vote in the Jan. 30 election, some 90,000 Jews who fled Iraq for Israel will be excluded from participating.

That's the word from Iraqi officials who say the exclusion is due to the fact that the newly liberated nation still does not recognize the Jewish state.

This is not encouraging. I recall a comment from a co-worker that this little exercise in nation building is bound to fail because Arab societies lack an appreciation for democracy and human rights. At the moment I can't think of a rebuttal.

Monday, January 17, 2005

Fresh new thinking from the UN

And here I thought that the UN was useless. How wrong I was!

UN: United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan today launched a 3,000-page document which research team leader, Special Adviser Jeffrey Sachs, called 'a unique report' recommending that rich countries double their investments in poor countries to reach the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) of halving extreme poverty by 2015 and going beyond to eliminate it by 2025.

...Mr. Annan told a news conference that the report from the UN Millennium Project, called "Investing in Development: A Practical Plan to Achieve the Millennium Development Goals," was "a major intellectual achievement."

Now it's true that when it comes to tsunami relief efforts, the Americans and Aussies were on scene within days while the UN response provided Diplomad with wonderful material for satire. But the UN was not idle, no siree! They were busy developing a 3000 page document that reveals some fresh new thinking that we've all been waiting to hear: income redistribution! Sure, if we want to be nitpicky, it's true that Karl Marx came up with it 150 years ago. But we all have our functions, and one of the UN's roles is to take credit for other people's work.

So here it is straight from the horse's mouth: the UN's idea of "a major intellectual achievement" is socialism! Never mind that most of their funding comes from nations that run on bad ole capitalism or that the intended recipients of their largesse lack freedom including free markets; that's all a coincidence. What's important is that people live their lives under the commands of the elite, the intellectuals, the enlightened... the UN.

Generosity is good, but to take from one and give to another is not generosity. Compassion is good, but to use something that kills 200,000 people as a pretext to live in 5-star hotels is not compassion. Charity expressed freely is good, but charity commandeered by --and filtered through-- self-serving bureaucrats is a travesty.

Sunday, January 16, 2005

Anglicanism's unassisted suicide

WorldNetDaily: "'Anglicans are not united on whether we should legalise euthanasia,' Gill contended to the London Observer. 'The bishops have consistently shown they don't believe in changing the law, but the majority of churchgoers think it should be amended.'"

The article also reports that the Archbishop of Canterbury is still solidly pro-life, but I wonder if that is still the case since he gave up hope. The leadership of Western Anglicanism is an object lesson. It shows how fast a church can spiral downward to irrelevance and obsolescence once it replaces the inerrant Word of God with conventional human wisdom; that which is cutting edge and enlightened today is (to put it generously) quaint tomorrow. By contrast, historic, orthodox Christianity, as expressed in the Bible and encompassed in what Vincent of Lerins described as, "That which is believed everywhere, at all times and by all" has survived the tide of history without having to be propped up by the coercive power of the state. Yes, medieval Roman Catholicism resorted to force in the Inquisition and Crusades, but Christianity has never been coterminous with the Roman Church.

For a long time I have been bemused and saddened at the puzzlement of the leaders of "liberal" churches. For all their educated sophistication, they can't understand why their pews continue to be vacated. Maybe one must be "unsophisticated" to see this, but it seems to me that if "Christianity" is something that we are making up as we go along, and so implicity is neither divine nor objectively true but is rooted in our imaginations, then there are much better uses for a Sunday morning than gathering with others to engage in activity that is the metaphysical equivalent of a role-playing game. Just as there is a fringe who is into Dungeons & Dragons, there will be a handful who actually enjoy what Francis Schaeffer described as contentless connotation words and symbol manipulation. Many, however, will continue their pursuit of objective reality that exists byond themselves and their little group, and that pursuit will take them elsewhere.

For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. 1 Corinthians 1:21-25

Saturday, January 15, 2005

Further thoughts on previous post: control through fear

Last night we got some pizzas and watched The Village with our kids. There are those who say that this movie was Shyamalan's weakest effort. Regardless of whether that's a good assessment or not, the movie makes a great point.

If you don't want me to ruin the ending for you, don't continue reading this!

The movie is about a group of people who, out of fear, have disengaged from the rest of the world and created their own isolated community that is a throwback to an earlier, simpler, more religious time. In order to maintain the community through future generations, the founders (elders) borrowed on an old legend of fearsome creatures in the woods to keep the younger people from leaving the confines of the community, exploring the outside, and discovering that reality is very different from what they have been led to believe. Out of their own fear, the elders use fear as a tool to keep those in their charge in ignorance and bondage.

It seems to me that those who want exclusive control of what goes on in public school (or university) classrooms, whether they be humanistic academics or their fellow-travellers in the mainstream media, are doing something similar. They know that there are viewpoints other than their own with equal (if not better) claims to evidence and reason, and out of fear that students might embrace them they seek to maintain their views as the only ones that students are exposed to. Obviously, the "scary creatures" gambit isn't going to work, so they attempt to frighten the public and decision makers (and so keep them under control) by other means. Here are some of the bugaboos:

"Your kids' education will suffer if they hear other viewpoints!"

"Science, and so technology and prosperity will suffer if students hear other viewpoints!"

"We are Educated, Tolerant and Inclusive. Those who dissent are Ignorant, Narrow-minded, Reactionary and other bad stuff."

"If you voice disagreement with us, we will publicly depict you as Ignorant, Narrow-minded, Reactionary and other bad stuff."

"Those who dissent are trying to force their views on everyone!"

Seems to me that those who are confident of the truth of their position have no need to be afraid of questions or dissent, and certainly don't have to resort to censorship.

Role reversal: suppressing heresy - Evolution ruling gets cheers from scientists.

On one side are the ACLU, "scientists and teachers"; on the other are "some parents and religious conservatives... fundamentalists". Once side is arguing for open-mindedness and critical thinking; the other wants their viewpoint to be the only one that stundents are exposed to. As one of the lawyers put it:

"This is a great day for Cobb County students," said attorney Michael Manely, who represented the parents who brought the lawsuit. "They're going to be permitted to learn science unadulterated by religious dogma."

Sounds like the same ole same ole: modernity vs. those who want a return to the Dark Ages, science vs. religion. The roles are reversed though.

At issue is whether Cobb County, GA biology texts contain a sticker with a disclaimer on the theory of evolution. The "religious conservatives" want the stickers included while those scientists and teachers (who were asked) did not. So what does the sticker say that is so controversial? Here is the text:

"This textbook contains material on evolution. Evolution is a theory, not a fact, regarding the origin of living things. This material should be approached with an open mind, studied carefully and critically considered."

One of the authors of one of the texts objects:

""What it tells students is that we're certain of everything else in this book except evolution."

No wonder science education needs improvement! Science texts are being written by people who either misunderstand or misrepresent the nature of scientific enquiry. Scientific conclusions are inductive, which means that they are never 100% certain. Yet the author seems to believe that they are all certain; at least the ones in his text. Meet the new boss: same as the old boss. Yesterday's "rational skeptic" is today's enforcer of dogma. Now it wouldn't do for scientists to look like inquisitors of the Church of Darwin, so this rationale is offered:

"Scientists, several of whom testified in the case, say the sticker confuses the scientific term "theory" with the word's common usage and inappropriately combines science with personal religious belief."

Oh, so that's it. The textbook writers have done such an abysmal job of explaining in their texts what the meaning of "theory" is within a scientific context that they are afraid students will misunderstand the use of the term in the stickers.

The statement in the stickers is perfectly legitimate from a scientific perspective. Indeed, given the abysmal scientific epistemology used by the authors, the message ought to be expanded to include something along the lines of, "All scientific conclusions are tentative, and open to being modified or discarded as future discoveries warrant." Apparently it's a point that isn't being addressed, and this represents a detriment to students learning what science is about.

What this amounts to is that science textbook writers and public school administrators, who can always find a few fellow ideologues in the scientific community whom the mainstream media is happy to depict as speaking for scientific consensus, are attempting to teach kids philosophical materialism, the denial that there is a Creator, under the guise of science, even though science is wholly inadequate to address this and despite the logical impossiblility of proving a universal negative. All the sticker calls for is that evolution be understood in a truly scientific way (as opposed to dogmatically) and that students ought to examine the facts and exercise critical thinking. That, obviously, is unacceptable.

Now, there are those who try to put a fig leaf of open-minded diversity over this forced indoctrination by saying that it's OK to teach alternatives to evolution (really, to philosophical materialism), just not in biology classes; comparative religion classes are a suitable place for that. Now, no such a class was offered when I was in high school, and I don't know where if anywhere such a class is offered. So this "concession" amounts to saying that alternatives to philosophical materialism can be taught in underwater basket-weaving classes. I guess the public is assumed to be too stupid to see through this. Also, this suggestion misses the point that it is in science classes that a fringe philosophical position is being promoted as scientific "certain[ty]".

Yes, there are fundamentalists whose dogmatism is harming education. They misrepresent science and resort to the coercive power of the state to silence dissent because their position cannot stand up in open, reasoned debate. And no, they are not the creationists.

...same as the old boss

AP: "Forty-six members of the Palestinian election commission, including top managers, resigned Saturday, saying they were pressured by Mahmoud Abbas' campaign and intelligence officials to abruptly change voting procedures during the Jan. 9 presidential poll."

Right. So the Palestinian people are still ruled by thugs of questionable mandate. And the UN will still draw moral equivalence between this regime which says it will engage in dialogue with those who target women and children in rocket attacks and suicide bombings but not round them up, and the democratically-elected government of Israel. I'm still waiting for an explanation of why we should effectively surrender national sovereignty or even give the time of day to a wanna-be world government that considers democracy and dictatorship to be equally valid, and is systemically anti-Semitic.

Friday, January 14, 2005

My own Inauguration prayer

FoxNews: "In court, Newdow argued that the prayers violate the constitutional ban on the establishment of religion.

'I am going to be standing there having this imposed on me,' Newdow told the court by phone on Thursday. 'They will be telling me I'm an outsider at that particular moment.'"

So that's the standard, is it? In government functions, nobody may say anything that offends even the most easily offended among us? Well, I'm offended when the government takes part of my paycheck for its Ponzi scheme called Social Security. I'm offended when kids in public schools are told that it is wrong to believe that they have the truth or that some people do not, or when they are subjected to fellow students cross-dressing on Gender Bender Day. I'm offended when an English teacher throws out classics of English and American literature in favor of politically correct tripe that will be soon forgotten. I'm offended that Christians are charged with multiple felonies for the heinous crime of praying on public property within proximity of a gay pride event.

But what should I expect? If there is no transcendent Lawgiver, as Newdow maintains, then rights are given by the state instead. What the state may give, it may take away, or give only to some. Who gets rights? It boils down to might makes right: more crudely the use of force, or in its more sophisticated form the ideological predelictions of a judge. (Litigation, to paraphrase von Clausewitz, can be seen as combat carried on by other means). It doesn't matter that Newdow has been shown to be a liar in his past complaints of being offended, because the end justifies the means as well.

What is troubling is not that a lone crank is attempting to force his atheist fundamentalist views upon the whole country, but that extremists like Newdow have learned that they can lose 99 of 100 cases and still advance their agenda. I don't see how civil rights can be consistently maintained without consensus on the principles that underlie them, or when judges become infected with a PC class struggle view of society as a Balkanized collection of competing interest and identity groups, as seen when judges allow the "right" of extremists to not be offended to trump the free expression of the many. So as the Inauguration approaches, I pray: Lord, preserve us from unprincipled zealots!

Clueless intelligentsia

NewsMax: "A 62 to 22 percent (almost 3-to-1) majority of Americans did not trust 'the press'; Europeans were split 47 to 46 percent."

Gee, I can't imagine what caused this. I can't be stuff like Memogate, because Dan Rather absolved himself of wrongdoing. And all this time CNN has had their weekly program where they analyze the possibility of media bias and, after careful deliberation, conclude that there's not a problem.

The mainstream media suffers from the same problem as leftists generally: they spend so much time in echo chambers where likeminded friends confirm each other's myopia and prejudices that they are increasingly unaware that reasoned dissent even exists.

I wonder if the DNC will maintain this error by electing a rabid ideologue like Howard Dean to lead them. If so, Democrats will marginalize themselves even more and the US will drift toward being effectively a one-party state, which is a bad thing. The Dems are sorely mistaken if they think that they will score points by championing the UN and trade unions; the same survey shows mistrust of those entities also. Serves them right though. Given their penchant for systematic election fraud and attempts to litigate narrow losses into victories, their disrespect for the democratic process makes them currently unfit to govern. What an opportunity for a new center-left party to take their place! Oh, wait. The Republicans already have. Just don't tell the mainstream media; they think they're Nazis.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

What partisan press?

NewsMax:In the Press Club’s packed Ballroom, Kennedy launched his “Democratic Blueprint for America's Future,” a detailing of some of the priorities he believes the party should work toward now that the smoke has cleared from Election 2004.

Sounding like a stump speech for a higher office than his reelection bid to the Senate, Kennedy quickly went to the order on the defeat of the Democrats – not only in the White House race but in both houses of Congress.

..."I have full confidence that we will renew our Democratic party,” Kennedy said. “By summoning courage and determination, the battles ahead will yield our greatest victories.”

Kennedy left to a standing ovation from the “impartial” press corps.

Think we'll see a repeat of the mainstream media's unvarnished campaigning for Democrats in `06 and `08? It's hardly debatable anymore that the press has a left wing bias. I've never seen anyone deny it who wasn't a leftist. The question of how overt the bias will appear will probably depend on how much they feel they can get away with. The singular biggest threat to campaigning disguised as journalism is, of course, the blogosphere, which probably accounts for the wailing and gnashing of teeth among mainstream journalists over the existence of thousands upon thousands of autonomous and connected commentators and fact-checkers without editorial control.

I suspect that there are some journalists who are either so ideologically committed or so blind to their bias (as Bernard Goldberg maintains) that they will not learn from what happened to Rather, Mapes et. al. They will produce journalistic hatchet jobs on non-Democrats, and again the Pajama Army will ride out to meet them. The more savvy among them will likely look for ways to conceal bias while influencing elections, but I suspect that even they will "misunderestimate" the ability of the public and the blogosphere to see through it.

Fox News is now in Canada. (Hey, they weren't allowed in as quickly as al Jazeera, but they're in.) Control of public information continues to slip. It is not a good time to be a socialist posing as a moderate, either in politics or in journalism.

Let Teddy bloviate. Let the press corps cheer him. The public is watching.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Unprincipled politics - Californians Dreaming of Secession?: "'For every dollar Californians give to the federal government we see only 78-cents come back,' the group's website says. It also expresses concern about 'the diminishing voice of Californians in national politics' and 'national trends that are tipping the balance in the direction of the religious conservative agenda.'"

The failure of John Kerry to win the White House has had an unusual effect. Leftists are suddenly re-thinking the merits of a strong federal government that fosters dependence through taxation and largesse and promotes a specific ideology. It was somehow OK when the essentially humanistic Clinton administration held the reins, but it's not OK now. It is painfully obvious but needs to be pointed out anyway: to change one's mind about what is right or wrong depending on who benefits is to be entirely without principle.

Of course, if Democrats are swept to power in four years, the desirability of federalism will quickly revert to the province of knuckle-dragging conservatives.

Monday, January 10, 2005

This would explain it

WorldNetDaily: "Why hasn't Osama bin Laden's terror network executed an attack on U.S. soil since 9-11?

Simple, says Dr. Jack Wheeler, creator of an acclaimed intelligence website dubbed 'the oasis for rational conservatives': The U.S. has threatened to nuke the Muslim holy city of Mecca should the terror leader strike America again.

...Writes Wheeler in his members-only column: "There has been a rumor floating in the Washington ether for some time now that George Bush has figured out what Sword of Damocles is suspended over Osama bin Laden's head. It's whispered among Capitol Hill staffers on the intel and armed services committees; White House NSC (National Security Council) members clam up tight if you begin to hint at it; and State Department neo-cons love to give their liberal counterparts cardiac arrhythmia by elliptically conversing about it in their presence."

Of course I have no idea whether this is true or not, but the mere possibility would surely constitute a vulnerable spot for the Islamofascists. Do they really want to triple-dog-dare the Texas cowboy in the White House? (OK, the Hugh Hewitt as Ralphie meme has infected my brain.)

How about a non-nuclear option: Round up every C-130 at America's disposal, fill them floor to ceiling with pig's dung, and carpet-bomb Mecca with it?

Saturday, January 08, 2005

RIP hockey season, National Hockey League in critical condition - Spector: "NHL VP Bill Daly announced on Thursday the meeting was cancelled due to lack of negotiations between the league and the NHL Players' Association toward a new collective bargaining agreement.

That's led to speculation as to the league's motives behind the now-aborted meeting. Some observers feel the intent was a bluff on the league's part to put pressure on the NHLPA to come forward with either a new proposal or to continue discussions on the league's counteroffer.

If that was the case, the owners clearly misjudged resolve of the players, who justifiably feel they've made all the concessions while the league refuses to negotiate. Now, the players appear more unified than ever against any attempt to cap their salaries.

...It's been suggested by many observers that the NHL['s] ...true goal is to declare an impasse, win the approval of the U.S. National Labor Relations Board, and return next season with replacement players while the NHLPA membership goes on strike."

At the outset, I thought that the owners had a legitimate grievance. When hockey players whom most Americans have never heard of expect to be paid like NFL players who are household names, that's a bit much. But when they players offered across-the-board 24% pay cuts, the league (i.e. the owners) essentially said, "Thanks. We'll take that and everything else we're demanding." Um, perhaps someone ought to show these guys the dictionary definition of negotiation.

The NHL is moving from hidebound to ossified. The league might think it's going to break the players' union, but it is slitting its own throat. Very few fans will pay to watch replacement players drawn from farm leagues, obscure European leagues or the Juniors. It just will not fly. Hockey will go on, but I have my doubts about the National Hockey League. It's too bad too. A league with so much history and tradition is about to die because of imbecilic management.

Retribution or pretext?

The Scotsman: "Sinn Fein leaders were holding an emergency meeting today after the IRA was blamed for the £26.5 million Northern Bank robbery.

Members of the republican party’s national executive were gathering in Dublin amid a deepening political crisis following Chief Constable Hugh Orde’s assessment.

Sinn Fein leader Martin McGuinness was left seething by the declaration, and challenged Mr Orde to produce evidence to back his claim.

But with unionists demanding that Prime Minister Tony Blair ban republicans from any future devolved administration, hopes of any short term peace deal in Ulster seem dashed. Ministers in London and Dublin have conceded there is virtually no chance of power-sharing returning in the next six months."

So there we have it. Some Irish republicans robbed a bank (or so we are told anyway) and the unionists think this is a rational basis to exclude republicans from any power-sharing government in Northern Ireland. I've wondered whether the unionists were acting in good faith as they continue to hold up the Good Friday agreement, ostensibly because the republicans haven't decommissioned their arms, even though Provisional IRA arms are locked away as verified by retired Canadian General John de Chastelain, and the Provos have been on unilateral ceasefire for seven years now. But why make concessions when you are holding all the cards?

Wouldn't it be nice for Tony Blair to turn his eyes toward the injustice and disenfranchisement within his own borders? Better yet, why not dissolve the gerrymandered mini-state and return it to the Irish Republic? The people in the Six Counties would be better off economically anyway. It it really worth it to keep reliving the religious wars of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries?

Friday, January 07, 2005

Tabloid TV news: We're Not Gonna Take It ...Anymore!

The problem: Tabloid fodder crowding out legitimate news stories.

We've seen it again and again, from Homicides of the Rich and Famous to the more mudane celebrity gossip. The endless TV news cycle of accusation, mindless reporting of irrelevant minutiae (We interrupt this program to bring you a Special News Bulletin...! It appears that Scott Peterson's defense team is eating lunch at Wendy's. We are taking you there Live..."), commentary, analysis and speculation just because editors think we'd rather hear about accused celebrities all day rather than events that impact the general public. And now Jeff Jarvis (via InstaPundit) predicts that it's about to begin again:

"Just as we get rid of Scott Peterson -- well, once Matt Lauer stops airing his daily Amber Frey shows -- we will get the Michael Jackson trial and it will take over all available media, knocking the dead in the Indian Ocean off the front page and the lead story on the evening news. It will be all-Jacko-all-the-time and I, for one, am dreading it."

This presents a dilemma for some of us: those of us who follow the news but don't consider the accusations against the Gloved One news. Some of us even have young kids around as we watch the news whom we don't want exposed to All Jacko All the Time. ("Daddy, what's child molestation?") Beyond all that, the idea of Jacko distracting the public from the tsunami aftermath and what still needs to be done is obscene.

The solution: The blogosphere leads a general Viewer Strike!

Here's what I propose. If Jarvis' prediction comes true (although the chance of it happening is only 99.9998%) then the news editors who subject us to it are stormed by a mighty horde of bloggers who email, phone and/or write to voice their displeasure and deliver this threat: If you spend more than 10 minutes within a 24 hour period on Michael Jackson, I will not watch your network for three days. These three day periods are renewable until you get the message. This message, if sent by one person, is easily ignored. If sent by a million, it would be insanity for a network to ignore it.

We've seen CBS News and Dan Rather taken down by the Pajama Army. That is, the blogosphere successfully defended against journalistic slander of a presidential candidate in the run-up to an election. This proposal is to take the blogosphere on the offensive: to make a positive change in the value of TV news by taking a stand against mindless sensationalism.

Possible hurdles:

One possible reason that this won't work, since nobody reads this blog is that nobody sees my suggestion and nobody else thinks of it or a better plan.

Another possible reason, even if the blogosphere becomes aware of the plan, is apathy. If bloggers leave the email protests to other bloggers, the impact will be lessened. If even a half-million bloggers and blog readers made the effort, we will have taken the blogosphere's relationship to mainstream media to the next level.

A third possible hindrance is that a considerable number of bloggers actually want All Jacko All the Time. I'd rather not think about the possibility.


Two things prompted this idea. The first was my long-standing frustration with legitimate news stories being neglected whenever there is a celebrity crime. The other factor was this article and discussion at the Belmont Club in which Wretchard likened the blogosphere to a living, growing neural network with self-awareness. In terms of the blogosphere's potential (and especially as it becomes agumented by things like audio and video) we are now only scratching the surface, as the producer-consumer paradigm of news and information becomes outdated.

In the past, we put up with the tabloidization of network news because we had no say. Now we do. Information travels the blogosphere at light speed, from and to every part of the globe. It remains to be seen what abilities the blogosphere has for decision and action. My modest proposal might prove an interesting experiment.

PS-- Now why did I think of a title for this post that invokes a crazy-looking guy in makeup who was famous in the 80s?

Sunday, January 02, 2005

Loose canon: Archbishop of Canterbury advocates unbelief and despair

Telegraph: Prayer, he admits, provides no 'magical solutions' and most of the stock Christian answers to human suffering do not 'go very far in helping us, one week on, with the intolerable grief and devastation in front of us'.

Dr Williams, who, as head of the Church of England, represents 70 million Anglicans around the world, writes: 'Every single random, accidental death is something that should upset a faith bound up in comfort and ready answers. Faced with the paralysing magnitude of a disaster like this, we naturally feel more deeply outraged - and also more deeply helpless.'

It is impossible to imagine a more striking expression of the nadir of apostasy among the Anglican leadership. It is one thing to discover that the US Anglican Web site was promoting a druidic rite as a replacement for the Eucharist. Now, since the Asian tsunami, the head of worldwide Anglicanism doesn't know if he believes in God. I wonder if he truly believed to begin with, or what it was he thought he was believing. His comments raise questions.

Is it a surprise to him that prayer does not provide "magic solutions"? Who had told him otherwise? Surely someone of his eminent learning should be aware that the Bible teaches no such thing. Perhaps his problem was that he had been believing an anthropocentric "gospel" in which man is the god and God is the servant. Surely, in such a case, it would be right to bring God into the dock to give account of Himself.

But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?” Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honored use and another for dishonorable use? What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory— even us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles? Romans 9:20-24

The reason that this statement cam be made is because God is the almighty, omnicient and just creator, in contrast to human beings who are limited in knowledge and wisdom, in a sense the property of the One who made them, and most of whom are hostile to their Maker to begin with. On the other hand, a postmodern, user-friendly God who conforms to all our expectations is really just our invention so He doesn't really exist, and certainly cannot do anything on the scale of a tsunami. So perhaps Dr. Williams is having a problem because he was believing in the wrong god.

Williams calls the deaths "random" and "accidental". Here he doesn't sound doubtful at all, but rather certain: if there is a God He certainly had no part in what happened Dec. 26. Divine volition is positively ruled out. Since it is logically impossible to prove a universal negative, the source of this denial must arise from something besides reason, although Dr. Williams doesn't explain what.

As sad as this is spectacle is, it isn't news. As soon as Western Anglicanism placed myopic conventional wisdom above the word of God, its death was sealed. What we are seeing now is only the corpse twitching.

Let them alone; they are blind guides. And if the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit. Matthew 15:14

Western Anglicanism is dead, but Anglicanism lives on as Third World Anglicans are still holding to the faith once for all entrusted to the saints and Anglicans in the West are looking for alternatives to their faithless shepherds, even to the extent of placing themselves under bishops in faraway Africa.

Dr. Rowan Williams has indeed fallen into a pit, and many with him. Yet there is still the hope of being lifted out, by One who is much greater than they have heretofore dared to believe.

Christ-mas: The Anchoress hits on something

The Anchoress: "I felt it too, as did many Christians I know...that even the days leading up to this Christmas felt 'off' in some way. Joy was not entirely missing...but it wasn't quite breaking through, either."

Part of my comment on her site: "Christmas is less about Christ and more about mas: more presents, more expense, more debt, more activbities, more stress."

She wonders if there was some sort of foreboding of the coming disaster. I think that's part of it, but I also think that this has been happening for years and entails a lot of negative trends, from politics to world events to culture. Now I'm not one of these "Every headline is a harbinger of Armageddon" Left Behind fans, but I do believe that Christ will return at some point, and if it isn't soon then the alternative will be another Dark Ages: chaotic, tribalistic, uneducated (a degree doesn't guarantee an education) but with a high-tech edge on the king's sword. Sort of like what is depicted in the movie Equilibrium. Christmas feels like a celebration of the Light in the midst of growing darkness.

Then Jesus again spoke to them, saying, “I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life.” Jn 8:12

Evil, or just -um- special?

The Anchoress: "The UN is a corrupt and ineffective travesty, a facade of compassion wrapped around a stinking cesspool of anti-semitism, graft, bribery, demagoguery, ineptitude, theft and plain FAKERY. "

I don't think I've ever seen such an accurate and succinct description of the nature and mission of the United Nations. Yet as The Diplomad cautions:

"In these times of gentleness and political correctness, we all must acknowledge that we're all special in our own way. We each do what we can best do. Americans and Australians are good at saving lives and the world; the UN is good at asking for money and going to conferences. We're sure both talents are equally valid; we shouldn't judge one better or worse than the other."

Or are both correct? Is relativism just a positive spin on amorality?

Double standards

Telegraph : "UN officials went to great lengths to conceal the whereabouts of Kofi Annan, the organisation's general secretary, who was on holiday when the tsunami struck and did not surface in New York until Thursday.

In fact, it was revealled that, Mr Annan spent Christmas at the holiday home of James Wolfensohn, the president of the World Bank and a critic of the Bush administration, who owns a 160-acre ranch in the resort of Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

Only a handful of Mr Annan's most trusted advisers were allowed to know his location. One official said: "He did not want to be seen frolicking in the snow. It wouldn't look good.""

So just to recap: The US is stingy, even though Americans are on-scene helping out while the UN sits around and takes the credit, but the UN which hasn't actually done anything is somehow wiser and more enlightened and relief efforts ought to be conducted under its aegis.

President Bush is insensitive because he merely sent the Navy to help and didn't bite his lip for the camera, and all the while Kofi Annan was at an undisclosed location: the ski slopes of Jackson Hole. The moral bankruptcy of the UN extends to those who uphold its pretensions to world governance despite its being so useless that even Colin Powell is now criticizing it (in his typically diplomatic way).

It would take blind partisanship of the worst sort to bash Bush and America while remaining silent about Annan and the UN. Yet this is what we see among the chattering classes and some who falsely claim the title "journalist".

Saturday, January 01, 2005

Substance, not gestures

Power Line: "Memo to those who criticized President Bush for being too slow to 'respond' to the humanitarian crisis by giving a press conference: a press conference is not a 'response;' what the USS Abraham Lincoln and the Bonhomme Richard were ordered to do--that's a response."

And the fact that they are already on scene means that they were dispatched some time ago, contrary to the predictable claim from detractors that they were only sent belatedly in response to criticism.

Haloscan commenting and trackback have been added to this blog.

Meme chose: the UN

According to Diplomad (via Powerline), USAID workers in Indonesia are saying that they and the Aussies are doing the heavy lifting there while the UN is busy with press conferences, arranging comfy quarters for their arriving workers, and deceitfully taking credit for the useful work of others. On the one hand, this is an unverified claim from an anonymous US official. On the other hand, this is so consistent with the UN's typical behavior that it's all too believable. It's been said that one ought to live their life in such a way that when they are accused of being an evildoer it isn't believed. The converse is illustrated here: the UN is depicted as useless, self-serving and cynically exploitative of human suffering, and my first reaction is, "Yup. Sounds like the UN."

Hopefully 2005 will be the year that those nations who love freedom and help the unfortunate more than they talk about helping them will finally cut off the parasite on the East River. The UN needs the USA, the Aussies, the Brits. The latter don't need the UN and achieve tangible results only without it. What the Bush administration thinks it needs the UN for, I can't even imagine.