Archive for February, 2005


February 28, 2005 4 comments

The new design: good or bad? Well, actually it’s really just the logo text up there, since otherwise it’s just Kubrick. There’s one vote in the bad column so far.

Categories: Blogging

For God's sake people!

February 28, 2005 Leave a comment


It’s also very odd that SciFi has a promo where Greg Palast is unraveling himself.

Categories: Silliness

Air Jesus!

February 27, 2005 1 comment

A very strange article on Media about the National Religious Broadcaster’s convention. Some of the highlights:

Nowhere during the NRB conference were the contradictions more severe — or better suppressed — than at the Israeli Tourism Ministry breakfast. Since the Intifada began four years ago, damaging Israel’s international prestige and scaring off Jewish tourists, Israel ramped up its campaign for evangelical support by marketing itself as the place “where Jesus walked” and enlisting Christian broadcasters as surrogate propagandists. With the Intifada now at a dead end and Israel expecting upwards of 700,000 Christian tourists this year, tourism officials deployed to the convention exuded a blithe, celebratory mood, feting their Christian guests with abundant helpings of scrambled eggs, creamed spinach and sweet rolls, all courtesy of grateful Israeli taxpayers.

In recent years, one of the most outspoken evangelical supporters of Israel has been popular radio host Janet Parshall. As the breakfast’s keynote speaker, she described her decision to tour Israel by recounting a conversation with God.

“God, the Holy Land has terrorists, I said. But, God said, ‘Janet, you’re from Washington DC,’” Parshall recalled to uproarious laughter. But whom was Parshall’s God referring to? To DC’s political class? Or to DC’s sizable population of young Black males who are so often demonized in the conservative media as a criminal plague? The crowd seemed to know.

Just then a small, aging man ambled towards us and identified himself as Itzhak, the founder of Kibbutz Ginosar (website), also located on the Gallilee. “But these people supported us for four years,” he reminded Marina in a scolding tone, referring to conservative evangelicals. I asked him if he agreed with their politics.

Itzhak paused, staring at the ground for a moment, then asked me, “Did you see the bus?”

I replied that I had not.

“The Americans brought that bus,” he said. His voice dripped with disdain.

I followed Itzhak’s directions to the back of the convention hall and there it was: Bus #19, a Jerusalem city bus attacked by a Palestinian suicide bomber in January 2004. A scorched, hollow hulk of twisted steel beams, the bus was hoisted up on a display platform like a concept car at some macabre auto convention. A giant piece of posterboard leaning against the platform featured headshots of hundreds of “Victims of Islamic Terrorism.”

Bus #19 is owned by a Christian Zionist group called “The Jerusalem Connection” (website), which, according to its president, retired US Brigadier General James Hutchens, “looks at the conflict in Israel within a biblical context.” The bus had toured the world, from The Hague, where it served as a prop for protesters against the World Court’s condemnation of the Israeli separation wall, to the US for various evangelical “Remember Israel” rallies. At each stop, it was being offered up by The Jerusalem Connection like a moonbounce for a kid’s birthday party.

At a table near the bus, a Jerusalem Connection employee was handing out pamphlets titled, “Bring Bus #19 To Your Community!” One reason the pamphlet offered for sponsoring it: “For Christians, you will increase in stature, appreciation and acceptance by Jews.”

The whole thing is pretty interesting, so go read it.

Categories: Religion

Bronze Medal for Valor

February 25, 2005 Leave a comment

The collection grew this month when Cpl. Raleigh Smith was honored posthumously with the Bronze Medal for Valor. It was issued by the government Feb. 9 and arrived in Troy last week. Smith, a 2002 Troy High School graduate, had just turned 21 when he was shot and killed during an insurgent ambush of his platoon Dec. 23, 2004, in Fallujia. Richard Natonski, major general of the U.S. Marine Corps, said in a commendation that Smith and other Marines were searching for enemy weapons and ammunition caches when gunfire broke out. “He steadfastly engaged multiple targets as they emerged from closets all around the room,” Natonski wrote. “Corporal Smith’s deadly accuracy with his service rifle and his courageous disregard for his own safety enabled the remainder of his team to escape the kill zone as enemy grenades exploded in and amongst them. “His brave actions preserved their lives as he sacrificed his own. Corporal Smith’s initiative, perseverance and total dedication to duty reflected credit upon him and were in keeping with the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service.”


Categories: Personal

Still trickling in…

February 25, 2005 1 comment

I realize it’s kind of dull to debunk letters to the editor, but here’s another one on evolution:

Some questions posed to advocates of evolution

I am writing in response to two letters. First, Scott Graber (letter, Feb. 20) seemed to be saying that in the same way the Catholic Church finally admitted that Galileo was correct so too will Christians (creationists) admit that evolution is responsible for the world we have today. God and evolution can co-exist, everybody is happy. However, to do so would be calling God a liar! The Bible says, God created the heavens and the earth and everything in them, and He did it in six days (Genesis chapter one). It also says that it is impossible for God to lie (Hebrews 6:18). If you start with God as the Creator “the fruit of our God-given scientific curiosity” will not be proving evolution. It will be more of a testimony to God’s power and majesty.

Shouldn’t he be able to grasp the point that if you believe in evolution, you don’t really believe the Bible is strictly the word of God? That God lying thing seems sketchy to me (2 Thessalonians 2):

The coming of the lawless one is by the activity of Satan with all power and false signs and wonders, 10 and with all wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. 11 Therefore God sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false, 12 in order that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.

The guy’s last sentence in that quote doesn’t really make any sense.

I also have a couple of questions for Stephen Durbin (letter, Feb. 21). I was wondering about the example in the last issue of Nature. Did it say that those involved in the further findings on Ardipithecus ramidus actually observed this fossil walking like a human with the appearance of a chimp, or did they reach this conclusion based on the presupposition that evolution is true?

I wasn’t aware fossils could walk. You learn something new every day. In any case:

In this week’s issue of Nature, an international team of researchers led by archaeologist Sileshi Semaw of the CRAFT Stone Age Institute at the University of Indiana reports the discovery of nine new fossils of A. ramidus from Gona, Ethiopia. The team shows that a bit of toe bone recovered at the site curves in a manner that is diagnostic of upright walking.

It’s really not hard to find an issue of Nature. We have two libraries in town, I’m sure one of them has the issue. Maybe it’s just me, but I would do that before spouting off in a newspaper.

Also, you seem to be familiar with the inner workings of a clock, since you described the gears pushing on each other. Upon examining the clock did you think that it was a well-designed device, or did you wonder how long it took all those parts to develop and come together as a functioning timepiece?

Paley lives on.

Categories: Science

What I learned today

February 24, 2005 Leave a comment

The Biblical prophet Elijah is back and he has an official website! You have 4 years to prepare for the rapture or culling or whatever.

Women are pawns of the Illuminati! Technically I learned this yesterday, but it takes a while to sink in.

The Illuminati also control the Republican party. And the Democratic party, but they don’t have a website for them.

The equation


can be used to “calculate happiness in society, profit in economy and knowledge in research.”

You didn’t know it was so simple, did you?

Categories: Silliness

You know…

February 24, 2005 1 comment

Not having recursion is very inconsiderate of Fortran 77. Very inconsiderate.

Categories: Tech


February 23, 2005 Leave a comment

Nice of them to let us know:

Second, I’d like to talk a little about the Santorum Social security event that I attended today. It was quite eventful and well attended, although I am pretty sure it was well attended because around six or seven different activist organizations had turned out in force. Outside the hall before the event, Philly DFA began chanting “Hey-hey, ho-ho, Riock Santorum has got to go!” Local college Republicans, who are just about the only Republicans in West Philly, responded with a chant that beautifully was captured live by CNN: “hey-hey, ho-ho, Social Security has got to go!” I love it when the other side does your campaigning for you!

Video here.

Categories: Domestic Policy

Missing the point

February 22, 2005 Leave a comment

Jonathan Chait had an interesting article in TNR (sub req’d) the other day. The main thrust is that liberalism is based upon empircism while conservatism is based on an ideology:

And not because conservatives are necessarily more stubborn. (Indeed, on an individual level, liberals may well be just as stubborn as conservatives.) Rather, conservatism, unlike liberalism, overlays a deeper set of philosophical principles. Conservatives believe that big government impinges upon freedom. They may also believe that big government imposes large costs on the economy. But, for a true conservative, whatever ends they think smaller government may bring about–greater prosperity, economic mobility for the non-rich–are almost beside the point. As Milton Friedman wrote, “[F]reedom in economic arrangements is itself a component of freedom broadly understood, so economic freedom is an end in itself.”

We’re accustomed to thinking of liberalism and conservatism as parallel ideologies, with conservatives preferring less government and liberals preferring more. The equivalency breaks down, though, when you consider that liberals never claim that increasing the size of government is an end in itself. Liberals only support larger government if they have some reason to believe that it will lead to material improvement in people’s lives. Conservatives also want material improvement in people’s lives, of course, but proving that their policies can produce such an outcome is a luxury, not a necessity.

I think that’s probably true, more on it in a minute.

At TCS today, Arnold Kling has a response. Essentially, he lists some areas where he thinks liberals are wrong. Doing this, he seems to miss the point. Chait wasn’t claiming conservatism is based on ideology because conservatives are wrong and liberalism is based on empiricism because liberals are right. He was claiming that liberalism has no underlying philosophy beyond improving the “human condition” as he puts it, while conservatism has the underlying philosophy that small government is good in and of itself. If Kling wants to construct a compelling response, he should outline an underlying philosophy of liberalism that mirrors conservatism’s “small government as an end in and of itself” idea.

Now, can that be done? I don’t think so, but I’m a liberal. Chait correctly notes that the mirror if conservatism would be socialism, where the capitalist hierarchy is considered to be inherently unfair and exploitative. Liberals of the kind Chait means (who would probably be defined as moderate Democrats out to a portion of the Green party) don’t have this objection, as they are proponents of capitalism.

Also, is the philosophy underlying conservatism actually based on empiricism rather than simply philosophical? Now, many conservatives believe that small government is good simply because it improves the human condition, based on empirical evidence. I wonder how much the Friedman quote (“[F]reedom in economic arrangements is itself a component of freedom broadly understood, so economic freedom is an end in itself.”) from Chait’s article really represents conservatism. It’s probably impossible to tell. Anyone that has the underlying philosophy probably has convinced themselves of conservatism’s truth to the degree that the underlying philosophy is then unecessary. That seems to be part of the point Chait is making.

Categories: Domestic Policy

Odds and Ends

February 21, 2005 4 comments

Spam Karma has missed about 6 spam comments so far. It’s caught over 600, so that’s not bad at all. It’s also now blocked 2 of my own pingbacks. Odd.

I now have a little script up in the corner that shows what song I’m listening to/listened to last, via the Audioscrobbler service. Click on it and you go to the page for my listening history. We’ll see if it slows down my site a lot; the service kind of drags at times.

Someone took issue with my most recent letter to the editor in the paper today. It seems Ms. Gardner wants to take the blame off the letter writer for the twisted quotation (which, as I agree, she did not do herself). I would be more sympathetic if the writer had not decided to attack someone for not examining what he’d been taught. By any standard she should have checked the quote, considering it has a biologist at a major university repudiating something that biologists overwhelmingly support as the unifying theme of their science. If she hadn’t done the very thing she attacked the other writer for, it would be more excusable.

Vern Smalley, crazy letter writer extraordinaire, decided to grace my blog with some of his ramblings, along with one at A Chicken Is Not Pillage. I have to say, I think Wulfgar got the best of the three.

Categories: Blogging

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