Thursday, December 29, 2005

Comments?

Dang. How is it that I leave for Christmas vacation, posting nada in over a week, and yet I come back with an oodle of comments?

Sometimes I think Blogger is playing tricks on me.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

A Very Jedi Christmas




Have a Merry Christmas . . . or else!

Laughing at Japanese Children

Don't ask how I found this, but follow this link.

There is a program for people to teach english in Japan called JET, and the link is a series of stories from a man who went there and discovered some crazy things, such as Japanese children's fascination with a game called "kancho."

I have been laughing my butt off at his stories. Some of them because I can totally relate (having been there and experience similar things) and others because, well, they're just funny.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

More than meets the eye

Further evidence that I am bored . . .

Optimus Prime!
Which Colossal Death Robot Are You?
Brought to you by Rum and Monkey

The Real War on Christmas

Some people love to talk about religious tolerance, but I hope they don't forget the very real plights that happen around the world.

This article is a round-up of the difficulties faced by Christians in countries where routinely tortured and/or killed for their faith. Indonesia, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Egypt, Pakistan, China, North Korea, Vietnam, Nigeria, Sri Lanka, Cuba, India, Eritrea, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan . . . the list goes on and on.

Is it hard to be a Christian in America? Sure. There's a constant buzz of temptation to "join the dark side" by compromising or abandoning our faith and principles, and there is a constant attempt to marginalize our faith and completely remove it from the public square. However, as much as there are people who wish they could do it, I doubt that any of us will ever be drug into the street and executed for being Christians.

Contrast this with what happens in some of these other countries. People concerned with basic human rights and religious liberties should be outraged about such abuses. And Christians . . . we should be constantly praying for our persecuted brothers and sisters and doing everything in our power to help them.

Fighting Canadian Healthcare

Be sure to read this story on National Review. It's a tale of a man battling Canada's socialized healthcare system.

I know many people, including my father, a nurse, are rather infatuated with socialized medicine. I must admit, the idea of "free" health care for all does sound appealing. I say "free" because it isn't really free, since we end up with much higher taxes for it. But Canada did one better for its people by making it illegal for people to use private healthcare for what public healthcare can offer. This problem resulted in a system that is overclogged and often insufficient due to attempts to keep costs low.

The hero of the story, Dr. Jacques Chaoulli, was forbidden from making house calls to patients who couldn't leave the house. Other patients of his were required to live with horribly painful conditions because the social system had such long waiting lists.

While I appreciate that being unable to afford medical treatment is a lamentable situation, forcing those who can afford it to languish and sometimes die while waiting for substandard treatment is just as cruel, maybe even more so. Proponents of socialized medicine in America would do well to remember this.

Making Life Difficult

So, normally I'm not one to talk about my personal life on the blog, but I'm kinda bored in the lab today, so I thought I'd share this gem from yesterday (although I'm a bi surprised that my comment yesterday drew no questions).

Yesterday, one of the older students asked me to make some LB broth. All I had to do was add powder and water in a flask. That's it! It should have taken 10 minutes (5 of which would have been scrounging around, trying to find materials like a bloodhound with a stuffy nose . . . I hate being the new guy). Unfortunately, no, because I am capable of making even the simplest of tasks complicated and dangerous.

Case in point: In attempting to bring the flask back to the benchtop, it slipped from my hands. I tried to catch it, but it hit the counter before I could catch it, so instead I only caught a handful of broken glass. Oops.

I only had one small cut, but it was on the webbing between my fingers. While everyone else was out of the room, trying to figure out whether I should go to the hospital or health services, I nearly passed out (no idea why). I fell completely on all fours, but I did manage to force myself up and into a chair in the next room to regain my composure.

Anyhow, the next hour after that resulted in a trip to the emergency room and 2 stitches. Yeesh. If the cut had been anywhere else, I'd have just slapped a band-aid on it and forgotten the whole thing.

In any event, I now sit here, tons of time to kill in the lab, desperately desiring to blog, but slightly hindered as my pinky and ring fingers on the left hand are bound together, mainly to limit the pain movement causes.

So . . . I'll be blogging. But no comments about spelling errors, okay?

Monday, December 19, 2005

SiteMeter Antics Revamp

You know what feels good? Finding out that people you know have been reading your blog. That's always a good feeling.

You know what else feels good? Not going to the emergency room.

I guess we just can't have it all.

But speaking of people reading the blog, I've been checking up on the reference page at SiteMeter, seeing what links are bringing people to the blog. In the past, many people (relatively speaking) have shown up because they found my essay on pornography. Usually, they were looking for information about the legal/philosophical aspects of it.

Lately, however . . . I've had a lot of people show up doing searches for "porn." That's it. And you know what?

It's really creepy that they choose to come to my blog when they're looking for porn.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Apocalypse . . . from now on!

Mick Hume with yet another take on the persistent haze of doom that environmental alarmists bring to the table.

Not that industrial accidents should be taken lightly, but sometimes these things aren't all that bad. On the other hand, I haven't heard any of these boobs complaining about the huge benzene spill in China (now that stuff is nasty!).

Cease Fire!

While I hate to see the "War on Christmas" proceeding (and you can see signs of it everywhere), this is still quite humorous, no matter which side you're fighting for:

(Click to enlarge)

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Churches CLOSED on Christmas?

Yeah, I'm late to this story, but it's worth commenting on.

First, I have to lay out my hypocrisy credentials: I've skipped Sunday church on many an occasion with less than credible excuses. Sometimes it's "studying and homework," other times it's "family time," and sometimes it's just plain "I'm too tired."

But I think this is different. We're not talking about one believer making pitiful excuses for his own reticence. We're talking about the leadership of large, highly influential churches essentially telling their body of believers that there are some things more important than Christian devotion.

Is this really what the church should be about?

I'll be the first person to admit that Christmas is a family day, but it also happens to be the day we celebrate the birth of Jesus. If there's any day one should go to church, this would be it! (No offense intended, but even most Catholics get this)

The leadership of these churches ought to reconsider this. They keep talking about giving their volunteers time off, but isn't sacrifice about serving God even when it's difficult?

Care for an update? Here's the status, as of this evening, on the Christmas services of the churches mentioned in the USA Today story:

Willow Creek - Cancelled.
Southland Christian Church - Cancelled.
Fellowship Church - Cancelled.
North Point Community Church - Cancelled.


(Incidentally, the pastor of Southland offers an explanation as to why they are closed on Sunday. You can listen to it in mp3 format if you wish. I think they're all bad reasons. He says, first, that unbelievers are less likely to go to church on Sunday, and even less if it's Christmas Sunday. Hey guy, church is not for the unbeliever. What does corporate worship mean to someone who knows not what he worships? His second reason is that it's not Biblically wrong, since the first day of the week starts Saturday night Biblically, and that's what they're doing. That's just grasping hairs, my friend. Is it explicitly worng to do this? No. Is it a bad example? Oh yeah.)

Lord, change the hearts of these pastors.

Warming? What planet are you on?

If you've read my blog long, you know I'm not exactly convinced about global warming. Too much contradictory "evidence," sketchy research/PR methods, blah blah blah. This Telegraph piece expresses my thoughts nicely with this charming story:
As to what planet Mr Bush is on, he's not on Pluto but on planet Goofy, a strange lost world where it's perfectly normal for apparently sane people to walk around protesting about global warming in sub-zero temperatures. Or, as the Canadian Press reported: "Montreal - tens of thousands of people ignored frigid temperatures Saturday to lead a worldwide day of protest against global warming."

Unfortunately, no one had supplied an updated weather forecast to the fellow who writes the protesters' chants. So, to the accompaniment of the obligatory pseudo-ethnic drummers, the shivering eco-warriors sang: "It's hot in here! There's too much carbon in the atmosphere!" Is this the first sign of the "New Ice Age" the media warned us about last week?

Heh. That's just too much. Like I've said before, they like to move the goalposts. If it's hotter, it's because of global warming. If it's colder, that is also because of global warming. Ironic, no?

Typically, they like to throw statistics around, like how some uninhabited arctic glaciers have shrunk by 0.0027% in the last year, or how the average temperature (whatever that means) in Antarctica has risen 0.05ºC since 1992. But that just doesn't mean everything, because their own statistics sometimes work against their point:
In the past third of a century, the American economy has swollen by 150 per cent, automobile traffic has increased by 143 per cent, and energy consumption has grown 45 per cent. During this same period, air pollutants have declined by 29 per cent, toxic emissions by 48.5 per cent, sulphur dioxide levels by 65.3 per cent, and airborne lead by 97.3 per cent. Despite signing on to Kyoto, European greenhouse gas emissions have increased since 2001, whereas America's emissions have fallen by nearly one per cent, despite the Toxic Texan's best efforts to destroy the planet.

Read the entire thing. It makes fantastic points.

Bible = Porn?

Slightly aged story, but worthy of commentary nonetheless.

Apparently an atheist student group at University of Texas San Antonio was exchanging religious materials, such as Bibles, for pornography. Their statement was that they wanted to make the point that both are equal forms of smut.

This just absolutely amazes me. I know there are non-Christians, particularly atheists, who at least treat religion with respect and dislike the stereotypes most Christians have for atheists. These people, however, fulfill them in every sense. Do they call evil good and good evil? Or have they lost all ability to see any difference? This is exactly why religious debate on campus has become so hard. This falls under the banner of free speech, but heaven help you if you're handing out Christian materials.

I just feel very sad for them. I hope God reaches them and changes their hearts, because such anger against him will only lead to ruin in their lives.

Another Duh Moment

I was reading a newspaper article about a research study done on other benefits from taking Viagra, such as reduced swelling of the prostate (which causes the need for Viagra in the first place).

Of particular note was this statement:

"Results of the study showed that men who took Viagra . . . (30 minutes to an hour before anticipated sexual activity) experienced a significant improvement in erectile function, self-esteem and quality of life . . ."

Gee, ya think?

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

An Iranian Voice Speaks Out

National Review has a story about a remarkable man. Some people talk about doing great things. Other people actually do them.
Iranian Amir Abbas Fakhravar is a hunted man. A former medical student and journalist for the now-banned reform newspapers Moshareka and Khordad, akhravar came to prominence with the publication of his book This Place Is Not a Ditch, in which he criticized Iran’s rulers and called on the Iranian people to reject the mullahs’ regime. For doing so, he was sentenced in 2002 to eight years in prison. His status as a political prisoner and his mistreatment while incarcerated — he was reportedly denied medical care, and suffered frequent physical attacks — brought international attention and demands for his release. The mullahs proved less than accommodating, but they did allow Fakhravar occasional prison leaves in order to visit his family and take his university exams. In May of this year, while on such a leave, he decided he had had enough, and ran. He has been a fugitive ever since, and moves about Iran in an effort to escape the authorities.
This in itself is great, but he didn't go home to hide. No, he continues to advocate Iranian democracy, despite the danger to his life and the lives of his family. How?
He does this by communicating with Iranian students, whom he characterizes as deeply hostile to the rulers in Tehran. It is a strange commentary on the extent to which Iranian speech is suppressed — and on the peculiarities of the Internet age — that among the best ways for Fakhravar to reach his audience is by speaking with American journalists whose work finds its way to the Iranian underground.
His is an incredible story. Read the whole thing. His interview with National Review eventually came around to US involvement in Iran. He wants the US to back the young generation of democracy advocates who will take power. He thinks that a military invasion by the US will hurt the peaceful democracy movement and foster resentment against the US, while a more subtle support will garner much favor with a potential Iranian democracy.

And of course, if wishes were horses, beggars would ride.

I just see the window of non-military solutions closing. Iran has made no secret of their plan to get nuclear weapons, and the rest of the world has made laughable attempts to stop or dissuade them from that path. As time continues, Iran's leadership is becoming ever more belligerent towards Israel, now one of a small but growing number of democracies in the Middle East.

I'd love to see a peaceful solution, or at least a solution that doesn't require US military intervention. Unfortunately, if there isn't some solution soon, we may find our greatest ally in the region reduced to a smoking crater.

Now that's hot

Just a little link dump . . . because I'm lazy like that.

1) Ace takes on co-ed naked yoga. *Shudder* I'm completely in agreement with the man.

2) Ace takes on Andrew Sullivan and Brokeback Mountain. Personally, this movie's plot is exactly what Eric Cartman predicted of all arthouse films: Gay cowboys eating pudding. Only this time they're not eating pudding, they're having explicit sex.

Ace is right: Straight men have no desire to see that.

Carry on.

You mean they HAVE a position?

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Why wait? Well . . .

A bit of a slip-up and a scheduling mishap have left me in the lab on a Tuesday night, and it looks like I'll be here late. So much for the blogging I had planned to do (all the articles I had wanted to comment on are on the computer at home . . . yes, no original material from silly me).

In the meantime, enjoy the 2005 Crunk Awards as given by Regret the Error. They'll make you laugh . . . I know I did.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

End of Quarter Antics

Ah, finals are over. Finally, a time for respite.

Well, sort of. With my research advisor now having been selected, I started working in the lab right away. In fact, I have to go in today (yes, on a Sunday!).

I have oodles of blogging that I've been saving up that I would like to do. It won't happen all at once, but it's there, and it's waiting. In the meantime, I thought I would share something humorous with you.

Around the middle of the quarter, some of the students in the lab I was teaching looked at their hoods and noticed, "Hey . . . this is big enough to fit a person. Hey Hal, can we climb inside of these things?" Of course I told them no. That's dangerous and, as amusing as it might be, I didn't want to ever see them doing it.

I probably should have said that just shouldn't ever do it. On the last day of classes, they handed me these (faces removed to protect the quasi-innocent):



Oh girls, you crack me up. Ah, if only I had been so adventurous when I was an undergrad . . .

Monday, December 05, 2005

Coming Attractions

Rule #1 of Blog Club:
Never make promises you can't keep.

Rule #2 of Blog Club:
Never blog about your personal life - it bores the crap out of your audience.

One down, one to go.

Case in point: I did no blogging last week. *Sigh*. It's been a busy week. Grad school . . . who knew it would require ridiculous amounts of work?

In any case, I have my Structural Inorganic final tomorrow, and the Quantum Mechanics and Kinetics on Tuesday, so after that? I might be blogging again. I certainly have a lot of unfinished business that I would like to see on the blog here.

But then I might just be breaking rule #1 again. We'll see what happens.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

And Again

I love this man.

House Democrats Vote NOT to Leave Iraq

Or "They were for withdrawal before they were against it."

Captain Ed liveblogged on this vote yesterday, but it's worth looking at a few things.

First, the total lack of civility: As Ed describes it, the floor of the House was reduced to screaming at some points. Did we elect children to office? I can't believe how much whining I've heard that the national discourse has become bitter and divided, and yet when given an opportunity to actually use their rhetoric face to face, some of these people resort to debate tactics that even high school students understand as signifying that you've lost the argument.

Second, the complete hypocrisy: Look at the vote record. They voted 403-3 against this measure. Murtha, the one who was on TV two days ago saying that we should withdraw immediately, voted against immediate withdrawal! The whole thing is absurd. I realize that, for all the rhetoric spouted to the media (intended to be consumed by the far-left base), when the votes come around they ultimately vote for the safest position, and the one which won't completely destroy another country and our troops for the sake of integrity. I just have to ask: Whose side are they ultimately on?
I guess the answer is, "their own."

Update
Dafydd over at Big Lizards has an excellent post analyzing this issue. He's absolutely right, too (for whatever that's worth, coming from me).

Update 2
Tom over at Real Clear Politics also has a very good analysis of the event.

Adrian Rogers Passes

I hadn't heard until I read it on Dr. Mohler's blog: Adrian Rogers has gone to be with the Lord.

I used to listen to him on the radio. He was a phenomenal preacher, every bit of what a preacher ought to be.

Dr. Mohler can eulogize him much better than I. In the meantime, pray for his family and for Pastor Steve Gaines who steps up to take his place.
Dr. Rogers was a lion in our midst -- the man God used to serve as leader and voice for a great resurgence of biblical Christianity. He was a man of tremendous gifts, whose booming voice was matched by a gift for words and a powerful delivery. He dominated the pulpit as few men ever have, preaching the Word and calling sinners to faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. He was a modern-day "Prince of Preachers" whose personal example served to encourage thousands of others to greater faithfulness in preaching the Word of God.

Adrian Rogers was a man of courage and conviction. He defended truth with verve and vigor. His personal defense of biblical inerrancy and the great truths of the Gospel awakened a generation of Southern Baptists to a crisis in our midst -- and he put his own ministry and reputation on the line for the sake of a denominational recovery and reformation. He matched his defense of the truth with a deep personal respect for the Word of God. To know him was to sense his living faith, his abiding conviction, and his deep love for the Lord.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Holy Freakin' Crap!

Yikes! Thanks to Bryan Preston linking me near the top at Michelle Malkin's blog (Welcome readers!), I've received more hits today than I do in a regular week!

I need to send that man a gift basket. Muffins, maybe?

(By the way, visitors: Take time to read through my archives. I'd like to think I've written some good stuff in the past, and not all of it is just commentary on the news.)

Update
Aaaaaaand this whole thing put my blog over the 3000 hits mark. That man is definitely getting a muffin basket.

Incidentally, I'll just remind you newcomers that I have an exam and two assignments on Monday (ah, grad school), so I can't say there will be much blogging the rest of the weekend. However, if you come back after Monday morning, I can definitely promise some new posts. (And now I shall sacrifice a goat to the blog-gods so that you all will return).

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Evangelism in the 21st Century

. . . yeah . . . Jesus would definitely wear this.

This Vote Stinks

Not much to say about the recent "measure" passed in the Senate. Other people have very excellent criticisms (Hugh, Captain Ed, Michelle Malkin & co.). However, this little bit catches my eye:
That's the line across which next year's mids will be fought. The Democrats, including "moderate" Hillary Clinton, voted en masse to withdraw by the end of 2006, no matter what's going on in Iraq at the time. Clinton's vote was a reversal of her previous stand, which was explicitly against setting out any withdrawal timetables. The Republicans explicitly rejected setting any such timetable in place, as they have consistently done in public statements.

C'mon, you guys. Even Tom Daschle isn't so irresponsible as to think that's realistic (as I reported on here). His take:
The most important part of the speech, I suppose, was the soon to be released plan Daschle will help present as to the future of the troops in Iraq. He calls it, “Strategic Redeployment.” In short, the plan calls for a draw down of 80,000 troops from Iraq beginning in January; this would include all of the guard and reserve forces, who would be completely out by the end of 2006. Twenty thousand of these troops would be sent to Afghanistan to help the fighting there, stop the flow of drugs out of the country, and to find Bin Laden. Finally, the remaining 70,000 troops in Iraq would be augmented by international support and would be completely absent from Iraq by the end of 2007.

As crazy as the Republicans have been acting lately, this just confirms to me why the Democrats remain unable to win elections.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Impending Doom

Now, California is normally known for being somewhat kooky.

I know, I know, stop the presses.

But in this case, I think the inevitable collapse into anarchy is approaching quickly.

What next? A supervillain for Governor? How about a former Enron executive for Senator?

Treason?

Some of you may be familiar with Jay Rockefeller's appearance on Fox to say that it's not his fault he voted for Iraq and actually thought that Saddam was a threat. However, Captain Ed notices this unusual remark:
SEN. ROCKEFELLER: No. The – I mean, this question is asked a thousand times and I'll be happy to answer it a thousand times. I took a trip by myself in January of 2002 to Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Syria, and I told each of the heads of state that it was my view that George Bush had already made up his mind to go to war against Iraq – that that was a predetermined set course which had taken shape shortly after 9/11.

This looks really bad for Sen. Rockefeller. He could wind up with a charge of Treason on his hands. As Ed notes:
Now, what the hell was Rockefeller doing revealing his analysis of American foreign policy and the direction of war strategy to Bashar Assad??

If this is true, Rockefeller should get ejected from the Senate and possibly stand trial for treason. In 2002, we were at war against Islamofascist terrorists, and Syria has long been listed by the US State Department as a terrorist-supporting state. What Rockefeller admitted was conspiring with the enemy during a state of war -- and he should be held accountable, especially considering his admission of the act on national television.

UPDATE: One of the readers that pointed out this passage to me, Mark H., notes that Rockefeller's conversation with Bashar Assad may have given Saddam Hussein 14 months to collude on the transfer of WMD to Syria, rather than the 6 we assumed he got when Bush wasted five months trying to get the UN to enforce its own resolutions. Another reader, Jay Tea from Wizbang!, suggests a prosecution under the Logan Act.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Quiz Time?

Great. I'm one of those people who puts a silly quiz in his blog.

Dwarvish
Dwarvish

To which race of Middle Earth do you belong?
brought to you by Quizilla

No matter. At least I have a freakin' awesome beard and giant axe.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Deadlines

So, here's a look at my schedule in the coming weeks:

I have an inorganic exam. It is on the 21st.













I have a quantum assignment. It is due on the 21st.













I have a kinetics assignment. It is due on the 21st.













Hmm . . . looks like it will be a busy week.

More SiteMeter Antics

Wow. So far today (11/10/05) I've had some very explorative visitors. When a person shows up, it's a "visit." If they browse through more pages in my blog, each page they load is a "page view."

Well, in the course of today I've had guests with 26 and 17 page views in one visit (a total of 73 page views altogether today). That's a lot, which tells me I have people doing some intense reading here (not that I mind at all!).

So, if you haven't left any comments, why don't you do so? I'd love to hear from people who seem to appreciate the site.

WMDs in Iraq!

So, the BBC is reporting:


The US has revealed that it removed more than 1.7 metric tons of radioactive material from Iraq in a secret operation last month.
Oh really? Nuclear material? In Iraq?

ATTENTION LIBERALS:


Hat Tip: Ace, who notes:

And oh yeah-- rockets capable of delivering liquid payloads were also discovered in Iraq. Nothing to do with chemical weapons, though. Saddam just wanted to fill them with water and use them to explosively irrigate the deserts.

Jerry Costello - Total Tool

It's so true.

I contacted Mr. Costello by email after I learned that he voted against the Online Freedom of Speech Act (the bill that would have prevented the government from regulating political speech on the web). I asked him why he voted against it and how he was planning to protect my right to free speech through the internet. Here is the "response" I received from "him":
-----Original Message-----
From: Congressman Jerry F. Costello [mailto:il12ima.pub@mail.house.gov]
Sent: Thursday, November 10, 2005 11:01 AM
To: xxxxxxx@gmail.com
Subject: Re: WriteRep Responses

November 10, 2005

Dear Harold:

I wanted to drop you a note to let you know I received your message regarding H.R. 1606, the Online Freedom of Speech Act.

Thank you for sharing your comments with me. As you may know, the House failed to pass H.R. 1606 by a 2/3 majority. I opposed the bill because it would allow unlimited, unregulated soft money into the political process through the Internet. In the past, I supported the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (BCRA) in 2002 and I am
concerned H.R. 1606 would destroy the progress made under the BCRA bill. Although we do not agree on this issue, I am sure there are other issues concerning our area in which we would agree.

If I can ever be of assistance, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Sincerely,

Jerry F. Costello
Member of Congress

Yeah. What a complete non-answer. If BCRA is the bill I think it is (McCain-Feingold), then that too was a disaster.

Jerry Costello, let me make one thing clear to you: The government can have my right to express myself online, politically or otherwise, when they pry it from my cold, dead hands. If the day should ever come when the government begins regulating political speech on the internet, you will receive a personal visit from me, and I hope you will have a good explanation for allowing the government to trod on our constitutional rights.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

On College Students

If you know (or are) a college student, then this is a must read piece.
(Hat tip: Hugh Hewitt)

Dahr Jamail at Northwestern

So, my busy schedule unfortunately did not allow me to attend Dahr Jamail's lecture here at Northwestern.

According to this far too brief article, I didn't miss much. However . . .

On the one hand, I should give some of the things he says a bit more credence because he was IN Iraq. On the other hand, conservative journalists and soldier return from Iraq telling completely opposite stories from him. Does he have any incentive to lie or stretch the truth? Good question. I suppose it's worth noting that he does submit his writings to some rather odd publications, including The Nation and Islam Online.

Here's what I'm really curious about, though:
Audience members were able to offer their opinions and gain additional information during the question-and-answer period of the presentation. A North Chicago woman drew applause with her strong criticism of the mainstream media, while a comment from Chicago resident Jay Jackson defending U.S. actions brought angry responses from some audience members.

Man, now I really wish I had been there. Angry responses from audience members? I'm quite curious how that turned out.

If it's anything like certain liberal reactions to conservative freedom of speech I've seen before, it can't have been pretty.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Christians and the Environment

So, Megan asked me to comment on this article. Yeah, it's behind the NYT's free-subscription wall, but that's why I have Bug-Me-Not in the link bar over there. Fantastic thing, really.

Anyhow, the article.

Perhaps it is a certain paranoia for being a conservative Christian, but it seems like whenever the NYT writes about Christians, it is either to (a) describe how hypocritical and wrong we are for society, or (b) to use some Christian group's approval of a liberal platform as a weapon against Republicans. I get that vibe from this piece, but again, perhaps it is just paranoia.

In any case, there isn't really anything remarkable about the article. Christians who care about the environment? Big stinkin' deal. That's nothing new. And that's not a bad thing.

It's not outside of the Christian ethic to care about the environment. Good stewards of God's blessings won't let the things they've been given charge of go to rot.

However, the things that I would draw attention to in this article:

1) This is an effort being pushed by the leadership of this group. It is not a grassroots movement, and sometimes leadership is just not in touch with what their membership wants (especially in large "religious" organizations).

2) Christians can (and do!) disagree about the best way to take care of the environment (among other things). Mandatory controls on carbon emissions isn't necessarily the best of plans.

So, what do I think about the article, Megan? Eh. I've seen more interesting stuff lately. But thanks for reading and keeping an interest here. If you see anything else that piques your interest, send it my way and I'll be glad to snarkily critique it comment on it.

On French "Riots"

So, I've thought about writing about the French intifada riots so far, but instead I shall recommend you check out any of the blogs in my blogroll (any of them will do, really; they've all written some bang-up work on it). Also, I shall sum up my perspective on it so far with this:

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Computer Problems? No Problem!

Ha ha! Eat that, forces of evil! I fixed my computer (no thanks tech support)!



Er, um, ahem.



Regular* blogging schedule to commence.



*"Regular" may not actually meet any real definition of "regular."

Tom Daschle at Northwestern University

Last night, I was fortunate enough to be able to attend a speech given by former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle. This post will be a recounting of his speech (paraphrasing only, no transcript), as well as my own thoughts and reactions to his comments.

On a sidenote: Before the speech began, a large section was left vacant, filled with signs saying "reserved seating." I asked a friend, "Why are so many seats empty? Does Daschle come with a huge entourage or something?" To which my friend responds, "Yeah, I bet he has this huge posse like MC Hammer."

And suddenly, the best moment of the evening was my vision of Tom Daschle walking up to the podium in a huge pair of shiny parachute pants.

In any event, the title of Daschle's speech was "The American Journey: New Paths and Opportunities in a Changing World." To be honest, I must say that I was pleasantly surprised by the event. Daschle is obviously a charismatic person, and some parts of the speech I found his statements to be good. Though he did have some criticisms of the government and the role of America in the world right now, some of his concerns were fair and justified.

Unfortunately, he couldn't hide partisan colors all night, and when certain issues came up, he was talking directly out of the liberal talking points/propaganda list.

The main point of the speech was the highlight the state of American foreign policy as juxtaposed with America's image in the world today. His image wasn’t entirely negative; he did mention some of the better roles of America in the world, and actually told a very inspiring story of meeting Hamid Karzai.

Apparently just after coming into power, he met with Karzai when the Afghan government was still small and struggling. However, despite the setbacks and limitations facing the new government, Karzai said that they were motivated by something greater than all of that: “We want to be like you.”

However, as Daschle pointed out, because America is such a beacon of hope, our failures and shame is even more visible to the world. This is a fair point, but I think that it actually works more towards the media that grabs onto any little event in an attempt to turn it into a scandal for the Bush administration; and it works towards the politicians (especially the Democrats) who take every opportunity to let partisan politics dictate the politically motivated stunts they pull in front of the eyes of the world.

I was glad that Daschle had the fortitude to say that there are people who want to attack America regardless of the example it sets for the world. I think that there are just too few Democrats these days who will admit that. Bin Laden was bombing our soldiers even when Clinton was in office; Paris burns with the flames of Islamic radicalism at this very moment (Update: Apparently Dafydd ab Hugh is skeptical of this), despite their opposition to the Iraq War and support of Palestinian violence.

Of course, his solutions to such problems seem simplistic and naïve. At one point, he said that we should go after Bin Laden, regardless of the feathers we ruffle in doing so. While I’m not intimately familiar with the military intelligence on Bin Laden’s whereabouts or strategies on apprehending him, I can guess that most military commanders would not recommend sending 10,000 marines across the Pakistani border in search of Bin Laden. As much as we may want him, Pakistan has been a somewhat helpful ally in the war on terror, and there is no need to tick off a nuclear power just yet. If we find that the government is willfully hiding him, then we’ll talk about that option.

The topic of Iraq would inevitably come up. Daschle accused the President of misusing intelligence, failing to plan for the aftermath of the war, and being dishonest with the American people over the commitment this war would require. He said we need to get politics out of the intelligence community.

On the last point, I couldn’t agree more. Unfortunately for Daschle, Joe Wilson currently makes that point for him, but in the opposite direction from where he wants to take it. Additionally, since the Senate Intelligence Committee found that prewar intelligence was not manipulated by the Bush administration and none of it was altered due to administration pressure, Daschle’s talking points come off as dishonest.

The most important part of the speech, I suppose, was the soon to be released plan Daschle will help present as to the future of the troops in Iraq. He calls it, “Strategic Redeployment.” In short, the plan calls for a draw down of 80,000 troops from Iraq beginning in January; this would include all of the guard and reserve forces, who would be completely out by the end of 2006. Twenty thousand of these troops would be sent to Afghanistan to help the fighting there, stop the flow of drugs out of the country, and to find Bin Laden. Finally, the remaining 70,000 troops in Iraq would be augmented by international support and would be completely absent from Iraq by the end of 2007.

Again, Daschle’s plans strike me as being naïve. The problems of Afghanistan aren’t about a lack of troops. In fact, a large contingent of troops like that entering the region could make things there even more difficult. Daschle constantly complained that America has become isolated in the world (a strange thing to say when he mentioned several times how much good work the US is doing in the world, how “responsive” it is to global problems), and yet he wants an international coalition of troops in Iraq? Don’t we have that already? Oh, right; Daschle doesn’t think that the contributions of nation such as England, Poland, Albania, or Japan “count.” They’re not really international support. I didn’t get to ask him a question, but if I could have, it would have been, “Who are we lacking in our so-disdained ‘coalition of the willing’?”

Furthermore, Daschle commented that we should allow Iraq to decide its own destiny. Again, I’m well in agreement with this. That’s why we freed the country, and that’s why we still have troops there. Or didn’t you realize that the democratically elected government has desperately requested that troops remain in Iraq for a few more years?

Those were the most important aspects of the speech. A few other highlights included the question and answer session, where a few predictable liberal canards came out. My favorite questions included a man asking, “Why don’t we turn Iraq over to the UN and use the oil proceeds to feed the world the way we should have done with Kuwait?” and a woman commenting that the media doesn’t cover anti-Bush, anti-War rallies and demonstrations. Yeah, because we heard nothing in the news about the 2000th death of a soldier or anything.

My favorite responses of his to questions included his statement that, after hearing from Harry Reid about his invocation of “Rule 21,” that he would have done the very same thing if he were there now (Thank you, Senator Thune). Also, he mentioned that the nomination of Alito to the SCOTUS has left him very concerned, as he is obviously a man who will take the court out of the mainstream (i.e. the liberal framework) and take it far, far to the right.

All in all, it was an interesting speech. I’m glad I was able to attend, but former Senator Daschle demonstrated that, once again, there is absolutely nothing that cannot be overcome by petty, partisan politics.

(Let's see if this works) Technorati Tags:

Monday, October 31, 2005

How long, O Lord?

Today I received my second paycheck. Fantastic!

Except I'm supposed to be receiving direct deposit.

I had problems with the first paycheck, but I figured that was fixed when I had to trudge over to payroll because of the original problem.

I repeat the exact same thing I have been saying ever since I came to Northwestern: Nothing here works right!

Noooooooooo!

So, as if the mounting pressure of a series of brutally hard midterms wasn't bad enough on my blogging schedule (among other things), it now seems that my computer has decided to betray me by refusing to acknowledge the existence of a mouse and keyboard.

The last midterm is today, but until the problem is fixed, blogging will be even more sporadic (you're asking yourself, "Hal, how could it get anymore sporadic?").

Meh.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Quantum Midterm?


Ugh. I have not felt as violated by a test as my quantum midterm made me feel today in quite some time. More blogging tomorrow.

Regarding Miers

Throughout this entire nomination of Harriet Miers, I've tried to stay neutral; I understand the complaints of the critics, but thoroughly hoped for people like Hugh Hewitt of Dafydd al Hugh to convince me.

However, after seeing this, I can no longer remain undecided. I can't support the Miers nomination.

Look, the biggest thing that conservatives want in a SCOTUS judge is that they will challenge judicial activism. But if we can't be certain that she'll do that, then is she worth the effort?

The evidence in question comes from speeches 10 years old and older. I'm willing to allow that her perspective has changed in that kind of time. As such, if she makes it to the Senate for questioning, I'll suspend judgement for her answers.

However, in the meantime, I can only look at such statements and think that Bush has made a mistake. I just hope it doesn't cost conservatives too much.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Rhetorical Warming

CNN has an article about an ice cap in Greenland that is apparently thickening. Of course, this doesn't prevent "scientists" and hyper-panicky activists from claiming that global warming will still kill us all.

Apparently the thickness of this ice shelf is considered an important measure of warming trends. This is one of the reasons I'm skeptical about the evidence for global warming; some measures considered important indicate a warming trend, while others do not.

Not that that matters in this case. The "scientists" (they only quote 1 Russian scientist the entire article, and about matters unrelated to global warming) say that more greenhouse gases trap moisture as well, which causes more ice and snow to form when temperatures are below freezing.

So let me get this straight . . . if the ice cap melts, it's because of global warming . . . if the ice cap thickens, it's because of global warming . . . yes? Gee, I didn't realize we were in such a predicament.

Let me know when some scientist decides what won't prove global warming.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Spanish Judge Issues Warrant for US Soldiers



Of course, this is one of the more ridiculous things I have ever seen.
MADRID, Spain (CNN) -- A Spanish judge issued an international arrest warrant Wednesday for three U.S. soldiers, charging them with murder in the death of Spanish TV cameraman Jose Couso in Baghdad, Iraq.

Couso, who worked for Spain's Telecinco network, died at the Palestine Hotel on April 8, 2003, as U.S. forces advanced to take control of the city in April 2003.

Investigating magistrate Santiago Pedraz of the National Court will seek the extradition of the soldiers to Spain, a court spokeswoman told CNN.

They are wanted for "murder" and "a crime against the international community," according to the warrant, a copy of which was viewed by CNN partner network CNN+.
Yep. I'm suspecting that there isn't much the US could have said about the incident that would have satisfied the Spanish officials involved. I don't know much about the details of the death, but I'm willing to bet that the journalist was just in the wrong place at the wrong time. Such is the nature and risk of military journalism. This is just further reason why the US is definitely better off staying out of the ICC.