29 April 2006

Moo Moo Moo Moo Moomoomoomoomoomoomoo

Addictive game of the day: Got Moo?

One is reminded of Genesis 41:

1 When two full years had passed, Pharaoh had a dream: He was standing by the Nile, 2 when out of the river there came up seven cows, sleek and fat, and they grazed among the reeds. 3 After them, seven other cows, ugly and gaunt, came up out of the Nile and stood beside those on the riverbank. 4 And the cows that were ugly and gaunt ate up the seven sleek, fat cows. Then Pharaoh woke up.

Here's hoping that you never wake up from your cow-devouring dreams! Ramen.

Update: Now with a working link! And I'm not sure, lizard queen, about its compatability with teh Macs. Hope it works! :-)

More About Puritans and Policy

little.hoot.owl said...
It seems to me that Wilsonian politics are also based on the 19th century idea of Manifest Destiny. What do you think?

I think that's a very astute observation, so I decided to post a bit more about it.

Actually... this may be simplistic, but I would say that Wilsonian politics and Manifest Destiny are branches on the same tree. Moreover, I would probably trace the roots of that tree to Puritan exceptionalist ideals. Puritan poet Michael Wigglesworth wrote these lines in his 1662 poem, "God's Controversy with New England."(The narrator is the voice of God):

[The Puritans] I brought and planted on the western shore,
Where nought but bruits and salvage wights did swarm
(Untaught, untrain'd, untam'd by vertue's lore)
That sought their blood, yet could not do them harm?
My fury's flaile them thresht, my fatall broom
Did sweep them hence, to make my people elbow-room.

Notice a few intriguing things here:

1.) God's own hand, like that of a master gardener, is the agency for planting the Puritans in their new land.

2.) The salvages in the new land "sought" the Puritans' "blood, yet could not do them harm." Note the interesting lack of any suggestion that said salvages were justified in their attacks, according to the U.S. Constitution. (hehe, I know it's anachronistic, but it's true.) Also note that any possible atrocities were justified by the fact that the Puritans' victories were one-sided enough that the hand of God was apparent. Also note the frustrating circular inner logic of that assumption. :-)

3.) God crushed the salvages and removed them so the Puritans could have their land... very similar, in many ways, to the book of Joshua in the Hebrew scriptures.

4.) Apparently, God has a "fatall broom."

5.) God, like Hitler, wanted to make his people "elbow room," and was willing to displace pre-existing populations to do it.

6.) The rhyme of "fatall broom" with "elbow room" is one of the most ingenious end-rhymes this reader has ever encountered. :-)

I hear resonances from this piece throughout modern U.S. foreign policy... especially beginning with Monroe, and then trickling down through the years until Wilson, when it got another shot in the arm from his ideologically charged policies.

With that said, it's kind of scary to think that we're relying on 17th-century Puritan ideology as a major part of our foreign policy. But what do I know?

(ooh, fun side note: the full title of Wigglesworth's poem is "GOD'S CONTROVERSY WITH NEW-ENGLAND. Written in the time of the great drought Anno 1662. BY A LOVER OF NEW ENGLAND'S PROSPERITY.")

27 April 2006

On Shafting Cuba

Albor Ruiz has an interesting column in the New York Daily News today. He quotes a letter from academics who are sick of manipulative U.S. foreign policies that endeavor to squelch Cuban political self-determination:
"The policy embraced by the Bush administration and spelled out in the 2004 Commission Report ignores and misreads Cuban history.

"Moreover, the policy attempts to negate the Cuban people's right to self-determination and sovereignty by implying that the U.S. should have a major role in determining Cuba's future. Cuba's present and future must be determined by the Cuban people, not by the U.S."

For me, this letter sums up everything that has been wrong with U.S. foreign policy since Woodrow Wilson's ill-advised foray into WWI. Please don't misunderstand; I'm not necessarily anti-Wilsonian. In fact, I love the guy. I've written a couple of big papers on his ideology. But he was misguided in the same way that virtually every president since has been.

Wilson saw himself as holding a morally superior position (which, it could be argued, he did), but that's not the problem here. The problem came when he decided that America should better the morality of the world (via military involvement in the Great War and subsequent political involvement in the League of Nations) and make it "safe for democracy." Ever since, we have been using a wide variety of militarily and diplomatically coercive techniques to get the world to fit into our mold of a Free, Egalitarian (well, nominally, at least), Representative Constitutional Democracy. That's what got us into 'Nam, that's what got us into Iraq, and that's why we place embargos and travel restrictions on Cuba.

Tellingly, Wilson's efforts were in vain. He soon discovered that neo-Christian liberal ideology could not overcome Bismarckian Realpolitik in the international sphere, and his famous Fourteen Points were emasculated at Versailles. Moreover, his Highly Moral American Public had grown tired of international involvement, and Congress stymied the president's attempts to get the U.S. to join the League of Nations. (This, it can be argued, contributed to the LON's failure a couple of decades later.)

I think that, ultimately, the American desire to impose its own political image on the rest of the world has its basis in the "City on a Hill" rhetoric from Christ's Sermon on the Mount. The Puritans were using it in the 17th century, and it still had resonance with Americans when Regan's speechwriters made use of it in the 1980s. That's a huge shelf life for a rhetorical device, folks.

At any rate, the United States would, perhaps, be well advised to re-read a couple other parts of the Sermon on the Mount: "Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth," and "First remove the beam out of your own eye, and then you can see clearly to remove the speck out of your brother's eye."

26 April 2006

Would YOU Hire Brownie?!

Note from the LuapHacim, 11/14/2012: The views expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect my current beliefs and convictions. Even if they do, I would almost certainly express them in different words today. Time changes people, and I am not exempt. Nonetheless, because of its historical value, I will not modify or remove this post. It tells you (and me) something important about where I've been. Read on at your own peril.

Hiring ex-FEMA chief/current media attention panderer Michael Brown is something I would consider only if I were in very, very dire need of a judge for my Arabian horse show. (And even then only if I had no particular attachment to the horses.) So I haven't a clue why anyone would actually pay this man money to be a consultant for them... unless, perhaps, they want to understand how utterly, mind-bogglingly insane the freaking FEMA people are. Nonetheless, it apparently pays well to be a washed-up, pitiful, failed scapegoat of the executive branch:
The bottom line, he said in an interview Tuesday from Michigan, where he was working for one client, is that he expects to be earning far more than the $148,000 he was paid annually as FEMA director.
"I will be making more," he said. "Significantly more."
Why am I making $10,000 a year while Michael Brown is basically getting people to randomly throw money at him? I should get out of the GTA business and into something much more lucrative: rank ineptitude.

Holy Sweet Mother of Pearl

I hope it's just a rumour that Tony Snow is Bush's choice for the next White House Press Secretary. Now don't get me wrong; I have nothing personal against Snow and hope that, if selected, he will bring a new sense of integrity to the White House, but I somehow doubt it. See, Snow has often been a subsitute for Rush Limbaugh when Rush was out of town for some reason. And anyone that Limbaugh would trust with his show, I have trouble trusting as an agent of the executive branch. Meh.

Sadly, it appears to be true. :(

25 April 2006

To Tag or Not to Tag

Note from the LuapHacim, 11/14/2012: The views expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect my current beliefs and convictions. Even if they do, I would almost certainly express them in different words today. Time changes people, and I am not exempt. Nonetheless, because of its historical value, I will not modify or remove this post. It tells you (and me) something important about where I've been. Read on at your own peril.

Everyone's favorite white designer of urban attire, Mark Ecko with a pretentious line over the o, has joined a lawsuit in which young people are taking on New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg over his tough -- and perhaps unconstitutional -- anti-graffitti law. According to Newsday, the law makes it a crime for young people to possess spray paint in public. Before the law, police had to prove that a particular person had tagged in a particular spot.
The funniest part of the article to me is the plaintiffs' lawyer's explanation of his cause:
"There is no justification for telling a 19- or 20-year-old that you can use your index finger for pulling the trigger of an M16 on the battlefield or pulling a switch in the voting booth, but not to push the trigger on a can of spray paint."

Congratulations, that's exactly the same argument that every one of my English freshmen has ever used to argue that the drinking age should be lowered. Except in this case, it's more ridiculous than normal. Also amusing: Councilman Frank Pallone says that
"All Marc Ecko is doing is promoting his video game, a video game which teaches kids how perform the crime of graffiti. We knew we were pushing the envelope with this law, but it is necessary to combat graffiti."

And Ecko, who is known for such free speech statements as a graffitti block party in NYC and an Internet video in which he tags a convincing replica of Air Force One, responds that it is "offensive" to say that he merely wants more publicity for his video game and clothing line.Yes, Mark, we know that you are shocked -- simply shocked -- to be accused of such a petty and low publicity stunt. Idiot.

24 April 2006


I hate to go all LJ on you, but that's how it's gonna be. For more politics or current events or that kind of crap, look for a post tomorrow a.m.

I'm happy today. My brain seems to be working the way I think it should (in general, that is; M and I, however, lost big-time at spades earlier this evening. :-( ), school is manageable, and I have an amazingly wonderful life. I had a test in Middle English today, I taught pretty well, and I got a start on my big paper (which involves a Scottish Romantic novel in which the Devil encourages a young man to be a hyper-Calvinist, after which he then uses him to commit murders).

All in all, a productive day. To top it all off, the wifey was waiting at home with my favorite: chicken Alfredo, bless her heart.

Beddie bye now.

It's a Trap!

Note from the LuapHacim, 11/14/2012: The views expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect my current beliefs and convictions. Even if they do, I would almost certainly express them in different words today. Time changes people, and I am not exempt. Nonetheless, because of its historical value, I will not modify or remove this post. It tells you (and me) something important about where I've been. Read on at your own peril.

So the U.S. is seeking the death penalty for French al Qaeda member Zacarias Moussaoui. Am I the only one who sees something terribly wrong with this logic? The guy clearly wants the death penalty; he has done everything possible to ensure that he gets it. Why? I think his purpose is twofold:
1.) He wants to piss people off at America. Granted, this is an easy thing to do, since we are the world's richest nation and its biggest bully all rolled into one, but apparently Moussaoui wants more anger with us anyway. OK, fine.
2.) He missed the last train to paradise, and this is the only other one in the forseeable future. Think about it: if you'd had a chance to strike against the Great Satan while simultaneously getting a one-way ticket into The Garden, wouldn't you be upset if you'd missed it? Wouldn't you want one last chance? This is the argument of Moussaoui's attorneys, one of whom says, "He wants you to sentence him to death. He came to America to die in jihad and you are his last chance. He clearly sees that as his last way to martyrdom."
The rebuttal, from a prosecutor, is easy: "Let me be blunt, ladies and gentlemen. There is no place on this good Earth for Zacarias Moussaoui."

I think both attorneys have interesting points, but the greater punishment is clearly making the man live. I say we do it.

Sen. Clinton... Getting Tough on Immigration?

So, apparently, Sen. Clinton (D-NY) has decided to bolster her public image on immigration. In a conversation with a NY Daily News columnist, Hillary Rodham "Jesus Himself Would Be a Criminal" Clinton talked about how she would support a "smart fence" at the border to identify potential problems with immigrants. For those of you not keeping score, this is a provision in the notoriously tough-on-immigration bill by Reps. Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) and King (R-NY) passed last year.

What's even more disturbing to some immigration activists, though, is that Clinton supports staggered reform, with legalization taking place "12 to 24 months" after the closing of the border. This would keep immigrants in legal limbo and endanger the legalization chances of many who are already in the U.S.

Does this mean that we're close to arriving at some compromise about immigration reform between the two houses as the elections approach? I hope it doesn't sacrifice the good of the country for political maneuvering, but, if Clinton's maneuver is any indication, I'm afraid it might.

20 April 2006


Memory is a funny thing. Today, I was cruising the Intarweb when a news story on gas prices caught my eye. In an instant, my mind flew back two years:

It was a crisp, cool day in early May, 2004. With all my earthly possessions (mostly well-read books and ragged clothes) loaded into my dusty '96 Camry, I was driving on I-70 through Colorado towards Kansas and home. I had spent a sometimes wonderful, frequently painful year teaching at a small K-12 mission school on the Navajo reservation near Four Corners, and I was full of all sorts of different emotions.

Foremost in my heart was a feeling of freedom and escape. So many times during the year, I had felt inadequate to do my job: to teach and to show my kids how a Christian believes and lives. Sometimes I wasn't even sure what that meant.

The teaching was tough for several reasons. First, I hadn't had a very wide variety of classroom instruction, and my degree was in English and history... not education. So when the principal of the school assigned me teach 7-10 grade math, High School Spanish, and Jr. High Bible, I was a bit out of my comfort zone. Nonetheless, I did what I could. I didn't know how to run a classroom, how to write tests or homework assignments or lesson plans, or how to make the kids do their work. I was sketchy on discipline, I hated dealing with laziness, and I had a hard time engaging them in the subject matter. In short, I was fresh meat, and the kids all knew it.

I was taken advantage of so much... for the first month, I thought Bill* and Ted*, two of my 8th-graders, were Steve* and Bob*, two of my 7th-graders. When I took kids home after cross-country practice, they told me to take the wrong roads on the way back. And on the Navajo Rez, that can mean a side trip of over an hour... the roads are rocky, confusing, and overall pretty terrible.

So in some ways, my life was kind of tough that year. The social and cultural environment didn't help much. Half the kids lived with aunts or grandmas whose husbands (and, a lot of the time, kids too) were alcoholics. Every kid in my junior high class had at least one relative who had died of alcohol-related causes. Bill* and Ted* were both suspended mid-year because they came to a junior high basketball game drunk on Bourbon (we think it was provided by their older cousins). Some of the kids may have even experimented with drugs (though not around school).

I was not a great teacher, I'll admit. I had little patience with kids who were determined not to learn, so I helped the ones who wanted to as much as I could. As for those who didn't want to, well... most of them managed to work their butts off enough to pull C's late in the year.

Other parts of my life that year were great, though. I got in good physical shape for the first time since high school -- I helped to coach cross country and basketball, I worked out with the kids, and I played community basketball, softball, and volleyball.

As I drove along I-70 that afternoon, gas prices were much higher than they had been the year before, when I had been on my way down to the mission... that somehow stuck in my head, and I just remembered it today.

In retrospect, it was really one of the best periods of my life. It's shocking, in some ways, to think of how different that life was from my life as a graduate student in an artsy little college town in northeast Kansas. How quickly our lives can change!

* Names changed for obvious reasons.

At Last, I Can Rest in Peace at Night

You'll all be happy to know that our civil liberties are safe once again. That's right, the Bush administration's Office of the Director of National Intelligence has appointed its first civil-liberties protection officer!

According to National Intelligence Director John Negroponte, the new officer will play a vital part in soothing concerns about problematic intelligence measures -- unauthorized wiretaps, for example. "We are fully committed to protecting Americans' privacy and civil liberties while defending our national security," Negroponte said.

However, despite the glorious efforts of the administration, some naysayers remain. Caroline Fredrickson of the Washington ACLU office doubts that Alex Joel, the new appointee, will have enough political bite to back up his bark:

"We've been supportive of this concept, but the administration has got to give these people more leeway to play the role that's been pitched," Fredrickson said. "I don't think they can do that under the circumstances."

What a worrywart! I'm sure we can trust the president of the United States! Geez. Some people.

19 April 2006

'Tomkitten' + Highly Improper Use of 'Ironically' -- What More Could You Want?

Note from the LuapHacim, 11/14/2012: The views expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect my current beliefs and convictions. Even if they do, I would almost certainly express them in different words today. Time changes people, and I am not exempt. Nonetheless, because of its historical value, I will not modify or remove this post. It tells you (and me) something important about where I've been. Read on at your own peril.

An AP story today announces the birth of Xenu-approved Cruise/Holmes love child, a bouncing baby girl. (At any rate, she's bouncing if her father's Oprah antics are any indication of her genetically predestined behavioral patterns.) The girl is named "Suri," which apparently means either "princess" or "red rose," depending on whether you listen to the filthy Jews or their ancient enemies, the despicable Persians.

The story is notable for its unblushing misuse of the word "ironically":

Ironically, Suri was born the same day as Brooke Shields' newborn daughter, Grier Hammond Henchy.
Shields and Cruise had a public spat last year after he criticized the actress for taking antidepressants following the birth of her first child.
Appearing on the "Today" show, Cruise said there was no such thing as chemical imbalances that need to be corrected with drugs, and that depression could be treated with exercise and vitamins.

In addition to proving that Cruise (like all Scientologists since their fearless leader, L. Ron, Hubbard, first started stalking maternity wards in search of that which he might consume) is utterly batspit insane, this little excerpt shows just what kind of a deplorable state mainstream writing is in. How on earth can "coincidentally" morph into "ironically" in such a clearly unacceptable way? I blame Alanis Morissette (may her Canadian soul be haunted by really awesome pirate ghosts).

18 April 2006

The Biggest Problem With Conservative Xity...

Note from the LuapHacim, 11/14/2012: The views expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect my current beliefs and convictions. Even if they do, I would almost certainly express them in different words today. Time changes people, and I am not exempt. Nonetheless, because of its historical value, I will not modify or remove this post. It tells you (and me) something important about where I've been. Read on at your own peril.

... is people who say things like this:

S- I love your analogy of gandalf being similar to an angel... I haven't thought of that!

P- I also agree that the magic between LOTR and HP are extremely non-comparable-- (if you can call it magic in the two former)

I know that when I read LOTR and Narnia... many times throughout.. I was overwhelmed with the amazing goodness and holiness of God..... I must admit I have not read Harry Potter, but I think it is safe to say those revelations probably wouldn't be there.

Yes, it's an actual quote from a forum where I was trying to have a rational discussion with these people about the relative merits of The Lord of the Rings, The Chronicles of Narnia, and Harry Potter. The problem is obvious: the poster refuses to even attempt to overcome her prejudicial assumptions, and in doing so, she creates an enormous strawman, which she then readily vanquishes.

Some other choice excerpts from the conversation:

E: It would be cool if he had a lightning bolt for a birth mark. Then you could call him Harry; Harry Porter. Then you could send him to hogwarts and promote witchcraft.....

Me: Hehe. Harry Porter. (Although really, I think he'd be in a better position to promote witchcraft if his name were Gandalf and he lived in Middle Earth)

A: At least Gandalf is obviously a ficticious character, in a ficticious land with ficticious beings ::shrugs::, meh

Me: I may be going out on a limb here, but I'm betting that a school called Hogwarts, and a sport called Quidditch, and people with names like Severus Snape and Sirius Black and Dudley Dursley, are probably intended to be part of a fictional world.

A: Hmmm... well, I guess I figure.. when in doubt look to the authors, and see what their lives are like and what they hoped to accomplish in their writing

Me: I see what you mean, and I think you have a good point. But since I have no way of really KNOWING what people's hearts are like, it seems like a better method might be to examine the text itself and weigh what it says in light of scriptural principles.

J: Fun liturature + Wichcraft = a bunch of morally confused christian kids.

S: ...not to mention the confusion of the kids who were not so blessed as to have christian upbringings.

Me: Harry Potter does differ in some substantial ways from the Narnia and LOTR books... but it does many of the same things. Dumbledore, the headmaster of Hogwarts, is very close to Gandalf in a number of ways. He is old, wise, and powerful. He pays a dreadful cost to fight against evil. He sacrifices himself for his friends.

Harry is quite similar to Frodo: he is thrust into a fight against evil in a way that he has little control over.
The ultimate message of HP is the same as that of LOTR and Narnia: Good must struggle against evil, and it takes sacrifice in order for good to win... but that's what good does, because that is the nature of good.

S: Although Harry might have some similarities with Frodo, the huge difference between them is their use of magic. Frodo obtains a magical object which, while promising excitement and irresponsibility, brings with it the bondage and hiding that inevitably accompany sin. Instead of owning and commanding it, it eventually owns and commands him, to the point where he cannot in his own power release his grasp on it.

Harry, on the other hand, uses a magic that is more along the lines of a nursery-rhyme fairy godmother or genie in a lamp; the worst mistakes that he can make will be due only to inexperience or lack of prudence in the practice of the craft, like when his friend, in anger, attempts to cast a spell on a bully only to have his wand backfire and give him a bad case of the slugs, or when they try to morph another friend into one of their teachers (I think), and accidentally turn her into an enormous cat.

I was on the verge of posting a huge rebuttal... but then I thought, "hm, how could this possibly be productive when the only logic these people respect is, 'well, James Dobson says these here books are naughty and witchy, so that's good enough for me.'?"
So frustrating. No wonder people think all Christians are ignorant and close-minded...

Fallwell.com 1; Rev. Falwell 0

Interesting story in the New York Daily News today about the proprietor of fallwell.com cybersquatting on a misspelling of the Rev. Jerry Falwell's name. But it gets better: Fallwell.com is designed to show how Falwell is going against scriptural principles (and it makes a lot of good points about how fundamentalists fail to love homosexuals as they ought). Best part: Fallwell.com won the suit. Three cheers for the Intarnet!

17 April 2006

Wow... Just... Wow.

Note from the LuapHacim, 11/14/2012: The views expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect my current beliefs and convictions. Even if they do, I would almost certainly express them in different words today. Time changes people, and I am not exempt. Nonetheless, because of its historical value, I will not modify or remove this post. It tells you (and me) something important about where I've been. Read on at your own peril.

I love how Christians feel the need to appropriate and sanitize elements of culture that they think are somehow evil... Harry Potter, for instance.
Here's an excerpt of a story from the online devotional site Liveprayer.com. I warn you, it is not for the faint of heart... or for those who have any affinity for things like "fiction" or "art."
A big smile broke out on Dudley's round face. "My dad is with Jesus, Harry," Dudley beamed. "Six months ago, we all became Christians," Dudley proudly announced. Harry looked at his cousin with a puzzled look. He had heard of Christians before, but really didn't know much about them except they were Muggles that did not like witches and wizards. That even made him more curious since if the Dursleys had become Christians, they would dislike Harry even more than before. Now he was really confused. "But, I thought Christians did not like witches and wizards," Harry said. "No Harry, Christians love everyone, but they do not always like the things people choose to do," Dudley said.

The end of the story is utterly predicatble. Why, oh why, Bill Keller, do you feel the need to redeem Harry? Yes, I know, he's a wizard, and there are biblical injunctions against such practices, and besides, everyone needs Jesus. But for just a moment, could we try to think about an alternate universe with different rules?


14 April 2006

On Abandoning Orthodoxy

Interesting story in the Christian Science Monitor today about how -- of all things -- a Unitarian minister is making use of the recently publicized Gospel of Judas. According to the article,
Across the country, observers say, the Gospel of Judas is striking a chord with progressive Christians. Not so much for its heretical theology, but as an ancient symbol of their modern mission to update what defines faithfulness. It's an approach that's winning approval from scholars, who say Christianity has always attracted diverse beliefs.

I guess what I find most disturbing about this trend is the sweeping under the rug of historical Christianity's openly and self-consciously orthodox approach to doctrine and biblical interpretation.

For as long as Christians have called themselves Christians, they have sought to define what biblical truth is. They saw anything outside of this truth is either false (Judaism's refusal to acknowledge Christ, for example) or, ven worse, heresy (faulty doctrine... of which the Coptic Gospel of Judas is a great example). The heretics often received the greatest punishments. Why? Because they had something close enough to the Christian orthodox truth to draw people away from the faith.

Rev. Jayne Oasin, an Episcopal social justice officer quoted in the article, highlights the chief conflict quite effectively when she says, "to consider there to be only one truth is to me a form of oppression." It really is a question of how big your truth is going to be -- are you going to include all religious ideas in truth, or just the Christian ones, or just the monotheistic ones, or just the morally aware ones? And then the question becomes, "what happens when multiple 'truths' contradict eah other?"

The bigger question: is only one thing true? Because if truth is not at least somewhat exclusive, then Christ was lying when he claimed to be the only way to God in John 14. Thus, modern Christianity is faced with something of a dilemma: we can choose either to deny the truth of vastly diverse viewpoints like those of the Episcopal and Unitarian churches, or we can choose to deny the truth of the words of Christ in the gospels and, by extension, the validity of the entire New Testament.

This article talks about how many leaders embrace the gospel of Judas as yet another expression of Christianity's diversity. The funniest part of the whole thing is that, as recently as the seventeenth century, most Christian countries would have burned them for doing so.

13 April 2006

I Always Kind of Suspected...

I'm Charles the Mad. Sclooop.
Which Historical Lunatic Are You?
From the fecund loins of Rum and Monkey.

Pot vs. Kettle

According to the New York Post, The White House yesterday claimed that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was "not a rational human being." I'll let the irony of that sink in for a moment.

Seriously, where do these people get off? Later in the story, Condoleezza Rice argues that "The world does not believe that Iran should have the capability and the technology that could lead to a nuclear weapon." I guess this is true... if you remove all fundamentalist Muslims from "the world." But guess what? They're still a part of the world, much as some of us might like to change that.

The U.S. -- and the international community at large -- has screwed up by failing to put any teeth into the U.N.'s nuclear regulatory agencies. Now we have to live with that. (Never mind that the U.S. has vested interests in not playing nice with nuclear treaties, but I guess we're immune or something.)

Sorry this was so rambling and incoherent; these people make me mad.

12 April 2006

Sweet Unobservant Moses, How Did I Miss This?!

The Minuteman Civil Defense Corps held a national Take An American Flag to Work Day on 06 April. Crap, I missed it. In the press release, Minuteman President Chris Simcox writes:

All patriotic Americans who have been concerned (to put it mildly) about the predominance of flags of foreign nations flying at the recent pro-illegal alien marches, and appalled to see the desecration of the American flag by supporters of illegal alien amnesty need to respond to these outrages!

Yes, such desecration as actually taking the flag and claiming themselves to belong to the country it is a symbol of! But how can you belong to TWO countries?! Madness!

Simcox goes on to suggest several helpful ways we can prevent the evil illegals from ruining our country:

Wear red, white and blue patriotic attire. Fly the American flag at your home. Fly an American flag from your car antenna. Tape an American flag in your car window. The goal is to have Old Glory be given the respect and prominence it deserves and to remind everyone--politicians, illegal aliens and their enablers--that the American flag comes first in this country.

Not much more I can say about that, except that I'm glad our immigration dialogue is so clear-headed and well reasoned. God bless America.

Update: It was a 'broken high chair' ;-)

Apparently, my suspicions about Cletus were unfounded. My deepest and sincerest apologies.

Child Welfare Visits Britney Spears' Home

I think the headline speaks for itself. Perhaps Cletus has not been properly caring for the chilluns?

(P.S. Why does the AP treat every single dadgum noun that ends with an 's' as if it's a plural? That's so not Strunk & White.)

Child Welfare Visits Britney Spears' Home

What Everyone Was Afraid to Say About Couric

Interesting Newsday Column about Today Show darling Katie Couric. This is the woman who has received a top anchor spot at CBS news and who has been picked up as a correspondent by 60 Minutes. It's telling that her greatest qualification for being an anchor is her "brave" crusade against mankind's truest enemy: colon cancer.

True story: I watched a filming of Today when I was in NYC six years ago. I remember being mentally scarred by Couric's colonoscopy, which was televised. For the whole world to see. Yep, the newest anchor of CBS News has displayed her colon to the whole world.

I don't mean to bash Couric; her husband died of colon cancer, and I can respect her crusade against the disease. Nonetheless, the columnist has a point when she writes,

Network TV, with less tradition and more flexibility than print media, seems to have more talented, broadly experienced women. But, as often happens with women and minorities in all kinds of jobs, the men in suits who do the choosing - culturally lagging years and even decades behind the rest of the country - are more comfortable with the mediocre than the superior.

It's food for thought, if nothing else. But whatever you do, don't think too hard about Katie Couric's colon. Ew.

09 April 2006

From the New Yorker...

Interesting New Yorker column by Seymour Hersh in the 4-17 edition of the magazine: it suggests that
The Bush Administration, while publicly advocating diplomacy in order to stop Iran from pursuing a nuclear weapon, has increased clandestine activities inside Iran and intensified planning for a possible major air attack.

Not only that, but this potential air attack may include the use of B61-11 tactical nukes to ensure "decisive" destruction of vital targets such as presumed centrifuges allegedly capable of producing radioactive material. This would be a logical step in our esteemed Commander-in-Chief's programme for Americanizing and democratizing the world by force... a senior defense official claims that, according to the administration's logic, heavy bombing would speed the inevitable democratic revolution that is bound to occur sometime soon in Iran. Bay of Pigs, anyone?

I hope Hersh is wrong here. Because if he isn't, this would be the one surest way to increase the number of terrorist attacks on America a thousandfold. And maybe, if Hersh is right, we wouldn't be all that undeserving of such attacks. After all, we did put that man in the power seat... and allowed him to return for Four More Years, Four More Years, Four More Years! even after some enormous displays of incompetence and willingness to lie.

I don't buy into Phelpsian theology, but I would be seriously surprised if God were at all pleased with our nation right now. Hopefully, there are enough Lots among us to prevent a hailstorm of divine wrath. :-)

07 April 2006

The Ever-Reliable News Media Strikes Again

This time they're reporting -- unquestioningly -- the release of a fourth-century Coptic gospel with dualist assumptions as "one of the many gospels written in Greek around the year A.D. 150."

Several problems with this:

1.) They present it as a textually sound alternative to the biblical gospels declared canonical at the Council of Nicea

2.) They don't recognize or discuss the very problematic implications of dualism for Christian theology

3.) They unflinchingly use the National Geographic Society's dating for the text, even though its methods are questionable. There's no way of knowing that this is the same Gospel of Judas mentioned by Bishop Irenaeus; believe it or not, there may have been -- *shock* -- more than one apocryphal Gospel of Judas!

This is just one example of how our newsmill grinds out story after story on things that they don't particularly care to understand fully, thus feeding our culture of superficial knowledge. Huzzah.

06 April 2006

The Last Refuge of Idiots

Note from the LuapHacim, 11/14/2012: The views expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect my current beliefs and convictions. Even if they do, I would almost certainly express them in different words today. Time changes people, and I am not exempt. Nonetheless, because of its historical value, I will not modify or remove this post. It tells you (and me) something important about where I've been. Read on at your own peril.

I am, of course, referring to college newspaper opinion pages. Now don't get me wrong; I have nothing against opinion columnists. Heck, I was one once upon a time. But that doesn't change the fact that most college opinion pages are comprised of 99% pure dreck.
Case in point. Not only is this column poorly written and rambling, but it also mindlessly spews a tepid college-liberal party line with a lack of actual thought that is quite prodigious. The last few paragraphs are especially stellar:

No matter who you are or what you do within the confines of your own home, when the rights of one are violated, the rights of everyone are. Whether it’s trangender individuals not being able to get a job in San Francisco, or your classmate facing persecution for being gay, no one should lose a job or a friend because of the choices made in the bedroom.

The good news is that we can change minds and attitudes in a very grass roots sort of way: By listening and accepting all. We must work to protect our sexual freedom and accept those who have different sexual orientations from our own.

With enough time and tolerance, the front-page story — in any city — won’t ever be about suffering for your sexual orientation or gender identity again.

Newsflash to Columnist Hagen: gender identity isn't about sexual behavior. It's about personal identification. If you identify as transgendered, you're making a claim about a fundamental part of your personality. It's not just a weekend kinkshow; it affects literally every area of life.
Furthermore, your proposed course of action is stupid and ineffective. If oppression could be overcome in your "very grass roots sort of way," guess what? The Civil Rights movement wouldn't have been necessary. It takes considerably more than individual acceptance to change social norms.
The story that Hagen refers to in this column, by the way, uses as its chief source a survey of self-selected people who claimed to have been discriminated against as a result of their gender orientation. Nothing could possibly be wrong with that methodology.
What's more, even if there is a significant amount of "discrimination" against TG job seekers, there's not really a good way to tell why, exactly, the discrimination happens. The truth is that, because of their uncertainty about sexual identification, a lot of TG folks are going to be bringing baggage with them that some employers might not see as assets in a potential employee... to say nothing of the possibility of the company insurance program having to cover TG operations. There are a lot of real-world factors here that Hagen doesn't begin to address or even acknowledge.
There's a lot more to say about what's wrong with this column, but I don't have the time, and I think I'm giving myself an ulcer.

04 April 2006

Ask Not What You Can Do For Your Country...

So, apparently, New Mexico is the state that gets the biggest benefits from the Feds per tax dollar spent. According to The Tax Foundation, The Land of Enchantment receives two shiny new dollars in goods and services for every dollar its residents send to the IRS.

Kansas, appropriately, is right around the middle at $1.12, and New Hampshire gets the shaft, receiving a dismal $0.67 on the dollar. Washington D.C., whose motto is "Taxation Without Representation," doesn't really have to worry too much about losing out; it receives $6.64 per dollar spent in federal taxes. That's a little misleading, perhaps, because of all the federal buildings and National Parks-run memorials and so forth in D.C., but, hey -- at least they're not New Hampshire.

You can read the report for yourself -- some interesting stuff in there.

03 April 2006

About the Blog

This is like the bazillionth time I've tried this, so I don't have very high hopes. My goal is one substantive (though not necessarily all that substantial) post per day. That is, I will add one idea to the fiendish, perverted discourse known as "blogosphere" in every 24-hour period. In so doing, I hope to bring the wrath of God more quickly on this modern-day Babel.

Topic of the day: Eminent domain.

I used to be very conservative -- I'm sure you're familiar with the type. Naive, morally simplistic, and not real intellectually sophisticated, with a crystal-clear version of Right and Wrong. Also, tending toward Constitutional Libertarianism. Back then, eminent domain would have seemed like a no-brainer: It was Wrong. The individual's property is the individual's property, and it is unjust to annex it by force. No amount of public good can justify the abridgement of the Constitutional Right to Property.

Fast-forward ten years. I now have a degree in history and a fair amount of real-world experience, among other fun and useless new attributes. Now, I have serious reservations about picking either side of the debate. On one hand, the constitution remains the same. On the other hand, government exists to do the most good for the most people, right? Isn't that the purpose of civic community? So what if annexing private property is extremely valuable for the community at large? What gives a single landowner the right to screw everyone else's lives up? Especially if he receives fair market value for his property?

I tend to come down on the government's side here. I used to think powerful government was a bad thing, but I have come to appreciate the good it can do for communities. But then, maybe I'm just swinging that way because I'm a landless peon; who knows? :-)