Monday, February 28, 2005

Jesus in the Tabernacle

Sorry for the absence, readers. Last week, I took up a rather dreadful sinus infection. I'm finally feeling better, but I'm bogged down in the meantime with a nasty Inorganic chemistry test.

So, until then, here's a little tidbit to tide you over: It's my returning devotional. For those who don't know, I wrote an email devotional for BCM two years ago. I started it up again this semester. The first few are going to be the remainder of the Bible study material I didn't get to use. Most of the material in this is derived from Richard Booker's The Miracle of the Scarlet Thread. Enjoy!
Jesus in the Old Testament – the Tablernacle

When Israel left Egypt and entered the wilderness, God was ready to re-establish the covenant he began with Abraham so long ago. In doing so, he gave the Israelites a new way to worship, guidelines for how they might approach their God.

The Tabernacle

The Tabernacle was central to this new Covenant, for it was where the worship would largely take place, and it was where God would dwell amongst his people.

The Hebrew had to approach God through the Tabernacle. There was no other way.

R.C. Sproul observed that the set-up of the Tabernacle had varying circles of holiness. As you entered further into the Tabernacle, things became more and more holy, until you were in the presence of God.

The Campsite

Where the Tabernacle was setup, the tribes of Israel set-up camp around it. God assigned each tribe a specific location. They formed a ring which encircled the tabernacle. The tribe of Levite camped between the other tribes and the tabernacle (Numbers 2).

The Courtyard

The Tabernacle courtyard was accessible to anyone. It was 150 feet long, 75 feet wide, and cordoned off by elaborate bronze and silver posts (Exodus 38:9-20). There is only one entrance into the courtyard.

The Brazen Altar

Also known as the Alter of Burnt Offering, this was inside the courtyard. It was here that the sacrifices brought in by the Israelites everyday were killed and burned. It consisted of an altar with four horns, as well as a collection of utensils and pans (Exodus 27:1-8).

The Brazen Laver

The other object of importance in the courtyard was the basin for washing. It was here that the priests had to cleanse themselves before they could enter the Tabernacle. It was four or five feet tall and made of polished brass, like a mirror (Exodus 30:17-21).

The Covering

The Tabernacle, where God’s glory dwelt, was covered by two layers. The top layer was the hides of “sea cows,” possibly badgers. The bottom layer was made of ram skins dyed red. The glory veiled within was not visible from the outside. All of this was covered by a set of elaborate curtains (Exodus 26:1-14).

The Holy Place

Inside the Tabernacle were two rooms. This was the first, accessible from the outside, closed by the curtains covering the Tabernacle. There were three furnishings inside this room.

The Lampstand

In the Holy Place was a golden lampstand with seven branches. It provided the only light in the Holy Place and was continuously lit (Exodus 25:31-40)

The Table of Shewbread

The Table of Shewbread was where the offerings of bread and wine were placed. It was a small table of wood overlaid with gold, with accompanying dishes and vessels for the drinks.

The Altar of Incense

This was a three foot tall, one and a half foot square box. Every morning and evening the Priest would put burning coals on the altar, and then sprinkle incense on these coals, which would fill the room with a fragrant white cloud of smoke. On the Day of Atonement, the High Priest sprinkled blood on this altar (Exodus 37:25-28).

The Holy of Holies

Inside the Holy Place as another set of curtains. Behind it was the Holy of Holies, where God’s glory dwelled, only seen by the High Priest once a year.

The Ark of the Covenant

Also referred to as the Mercy Seat. This was the only object in the Holy of Holies. It was a small chest with a lid attached, which contained Aaron’s rod, a pot of manna, and the tablets on which God gave Moses the Ten Commandments. On the lid, replicas of cherubim sat (Exodus 25:10-22).

Aaron’s rod was a reminder of Israel’s rejection of God’s leadership (Numbers 16-17)
The pot of manna was a reminder of Israel’s rejection of God’s provisions (Numbers 11)
The Ten Commandments were broken by the people, a reminder that they fall short of his holiness (Exodus 32)

Finding the Messiah

The understandable thought after reading all of this is, “Okay, so where is Jesus in all of that?”

Jesus was never explicitly obvious under the Old Covenant. If it had, everyone would have known about the coming Messiah. But it is possible to see Christ foreshadowed in the trappings of the Tabernacle.

Just as Jesus said, “I am THE way,” so there was only one entrance to the courtyard, only one way of approaching God.

The Brazen Altar, where the sacrifices took place every day, is comparable to the cross on which Christ died, for Christ offered himself as a sacrifice for our sins (Ephesians 5:2). Just as blood was poured at the base of the altar, so was the blood of Christ poured at the foot of the cross.

The Brazen Laver was filled with water. Water had many special meanings with Christ, but the clearest can be found in the waters of baptism. Just as one had to be cleansed before entering the tabernacle, one can not be a child of God without being born again. This spiritual birth is represented in the waters of baptism.

It is also significant to note that the priests only had to be fully cleansed at the laver once. After which they only had to clean their hands and their feet (which would become dirty from travel and performing the sacrifices) before entering the tabernacle. The same is true of the spiritual washing we receive from Christ. Only once do we need to be cleansed. Every thereafter is merely surface dirt. Jesus spoke of this in John 13.

The Covering of the Tabernacle represented the very body of the Messiah. The glory that dwelt within Christ (God in human form) was not visible to those who saw him. He looked very ordinary on the outside, just as badger skins would not look unusual to those that saw the Tabernacle. Underneath that layer was a layer of fine scarlet, and underneath the human trappings, the very blood of God flowed.

The Golden Lampstand was the sole source of light in the Tabernacle. Jesus declared that He was the light of the world (John 9:5), and later that all who follow him are the light of the world (Matthew 5:14). The lampstand was seven branches. The central branch, when filled with oil, provided oil to the other six branches. Likewise, the church provides no light of its own. Instead, the source of the light must be from the one who truly is the “light of the world.”

At the Table of Shewbread, priests would consume the grain and drink offerings, bread made with oil and wine. This is a forerunner, along with the Passover meal, of the communion meal Jesus would institute. In John 6, Jesus speaks of his body and blood as being food and drink. They were not certain, at the time, what he meant by this. We now know that faith in Christ, “consuming” Him, is necessary to have life and fellowship with Him.

Regarding the Alter of Incense, incense is often used to symbolize prayer in scripture (Psalm 141:2, Revelations 5:8). Jesus is worthy to petition to the Father on our behalf because His own blood is on the Incense Alter. Through His blood, God receives our prayers offered in the name of Jesus.

And finally, we come to the Holy of Holies. This is where the glory of God dwelt. But no longer does God’s glory dwell in a single, physical location. The new presence of God is found inside of every believer in Christ. When the curtain into the Holy of Holies was torn at Christ’s death, the way was opened up for every believer to enter directly into the presence of God, because God would always be present with us. Jesus even tells the woman at the well that there will be a time when it doesn’t matter where God is worshipped; instead, those who worship God will do so in spirit and truth (John 4:19-24).

The Ark of the Covenant was the throne of God in the Tabernacle. However, no longer must the blood of bulls be placed on God’s throne. Instead, the slain and risen “Lamb of God” sits on the heavenly throne of God (Revelations 5:6). Christ’s blood, spilt for us, was poured out onto the true “Mercy Seat” once for all (Hebrews 4:14-16, 9:6-15).

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Oh help! Save me from Ted Rall!

So, apparently the blogosphere has garnered the attention and disdain of Mr. Ted Rall. See the link above. He wrote an op-ed about blogs and bloggers and such. In particular, he's very angry about right-wing blogs. In part of the article in particular, he writes:
Death threats against liberal pundits are commonplace among, and essentially unique to, the right-wing blogs. And the GOP thinks that's OK. Nowhere can one find a responsible mainstream Republican to speak out against this hate speech. Borg-like, the various right-wing blogs simultaneously discuss the same stories, applying identical rhetoric. They create blacklists and urge their readers and fellow bloggers to threaten and harass their targets. Surfing this cheesy world of flag-draped neo-McCarthyite HTML makes it impossible to deny Columbia Journalism Review writer Steve Lovelady's conclusion that most are "salivating morons" who form an ideological "lynch mob." Worse, many of the right-wing bloggers are flat-out liars.
Oh please. Anyone who has been following the issue surrounding Jeff Gannon, its discussion at the Daily Kos, and Powerline's recent interaction with this group knows that he is looking at this from one side of things. In fact, I read several of the most popular conservative blogs in existence, and I have never seen anyone call for anyone's death or the harrassment of a blacklisted target. I've never seen a blacklist, for that matter. The Daily Kos, on the other hand, is possibly the most popular liberal blog out there right now, and it is filled with vitriol worse than you can imagine. Not necessarily from its author, but his readers certainly seem to bulge at the seems with it. What is Rall talking about? It'd be nice if he named names.

Next, he complains about Eason Jordan's firing. Let's be clear about this, Mr. Rall: You don't accuse the government of purposefully killing journalists, even torturing them, and then not have any facts to back you up. I don't care if you think he's right about it. Journalism isn't about opinions. It's about reporting the facts. That's where integrity comes into play. He wasn't doing his job with integrity, Teddy. That's why bloggers wanted the video to be released, and that's why CNN fired him (though we'll never know for certain what he really said).

Rall ends the article like this:
Bloggers are ordinary people, many of them uneducated and with nothing interesting to say. They're sitting in their rec rooms, regurgitating and spinning what real journalists have dug up through hard work. They don't have sources, they don't report, and no one holds them accountable when they make mistakes or flat out lie. Yeah, there's a new sheriff in town. Unfortunately he's drunk, he's mean, and he works for the bad guys.
Gee, does that sound like anyone I know? Sounds hypocritical to me.

I'll agree with what the guys at Powerline had to say about this: It was the blogs who did the digging that uncovered how the CBS memos were obvious forgeries. They did real reporting in that situation. CBS did not. What flat out lies have been perpetrated by the blogosphere so far? I'd love for Rall to give us something besides baseless accusations.

As for uneducated, let's take a few examples. I myself will have a BS in Chemistry in a matter of weeks. If I take up the offer from Northwestern, I'll have a PhD in about 5 years. You can call me what you like, but uneducated is not appropriate.

Or, let's take Hugh Hewitt. Hugh is probably the godfather of the conservative blogs. I'm willing to bet that he's the most read conservative blogger out there today, and if he isn't, I don't know who is. Hugh has won 3 emmys. He teaches law at a law school. He has worked for the White House in the past. I'd say those are amazing credentials. What do you have, Mr. Rall? A possibly completed engineering BS and a BA in Art? What makes you so much more qualified to comment on the state of the world?

The bottom line is that Rall is wrong on every part on the blogs. Additionally, and this is my own personal opinion, his artwork is atrocious. And he argues against blogs for being heavily partisan? Every comic he draws with Bush depicts him as a wild-eyed, lunatic dictator in full gestapo military garb. Yeesh.

But hey. As long as we're giving this much attention to a Universal Press Syndicate cartoonist, why don't we give the attention to someone who deserves it, like the incredibly talented conservative artist, Glenn McCoy?

Milestone Moments in History

Something very interesting is happening in the world. Lebanon has always been a puppet state to the harsh regime of Syria. Recently, the Lebanese Prime Minister began to defy his handlers. After the assassination of Prime Minister Hariri, the Lebanese people suspected Syria and have begun openly challenging the Syrian goverment's control of their nation. This is incredibly brave and certainly unexpected.

One of the people leading the revolt is a man by the name of Walid Jumblatt, a Muslim leader in Lebanon who until recently had supported the Syrian control. However, he is quoted as such in the above article:
"It's strange for me to say it, but this process of change has started because of the American invasion of Iraq," explains Jumblatt. "I was cynical about Iraq. But when I saw the Iraqi people voting three weeks ago, 8 million of them, it was the start of a new Arab world." Jumblatt says this spark of democratic revolt is spreading. "The Syrian people, the Egyptian people, all say that something is changing. The Berlin Wall has fallen. We can see it."
Some people are taking this statement seriously. The moonbat brigade, those on the left who have constantly denied that any good can come out of Iraq, might be quite a bit stunned by this admission.

Myself, I find the historical comparison interesting and poignant. I don't remember the fall of the Berlin Wall, though I'm old enough to have been around for it. But I know that it's effects have been monumental. It was the clearest sign of the end of the Cold War. Business as usual was over. The people of the Eastern Bloc would, for the first time in many years, have control over their destinies and their governments.

Look at the Middle East. For a long time, the only democratic nation over there was the universally reviled Israel. While America, and the new Iraqi regime, is not much more popular, a Middle Eastern country has been given a chance to choose its own destiny. For the first time in a long, long time, the people of Iraq are in charge of their government and not the other way around. And from what it sounds like, the people of the Middle East are taking note of this and deciding that maybe, just maybe, they want that for themselves too. That maybe the hatred of America and Jews and such was something foisted on them to distract them from the harsh dictatorships they live in.

Mr. Jumblatt says change is in the air. I'm inclined to agree with him.

Do I need to dedicate a separate blog to this woman?

Annie Spiro, you really gotta stop doing this to me. You make my head hurt.

Actually, her article this week isn't so bad, aside from being alarmist and angry. While I'm sure TSS is a serious problem, I'm not sure how prevalent it is. And what makes dioxins so environmentally harmful? It would have been nice if she hadn't snuck that little bit in at the end.

And just to correct her, women don't "bleed" for 5-7 days. They shed their uterine lining. Big, big difference.

How long?

Every year (well, probably several times a year), an article appears in the newspaper about sexual assault on campus.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not denigrating any victims or denying it exists. Far from it.

But I find it very dangerous that the standard for consensual sex has become that a girl (why is it always the girl? can't a drunken male be taken advantage of?) must be sober to give proper consent.

On the one hand, I can see the reasoning behind this. Who can reasonably give proper consent when they are intoxicated?

On the other hand, drunkenness does not completely rid your mind of its cognitive abilities. How drunk do you have to be before it's considered nonconsensual sex?

Now, what if both parties are intoxicated, and someone ends up regretting their actions from the night before? Who took advantage of who? Who is responsible for "rape?" Is anyone? Or will it revert to a "blame the male" kind of thing?

The lack of physical evidence is cited in the article as a reason most cases are never prosecuted. Again, what if this scenario happened to a male? Does he even have any physical evidence to produce that he had been raped? Is there no recourse for him?

I'm not advocating blaming the victims here, but not all situations are as simple as they are made out to be. This is one of them, I think.

Junk science?

So, according to the scientist quoted in this article, "The debate over whether or not there is a global warming signal is now over, at least for rational people."


Granted, Reuters is not a scientific journal, so I don't expect them to show their proof for the ideas pushed by the scientists in the article. Still, there is much debate in the scientific community as to whether or not "global warming" as it is known is in fact caused by people. Let's not forget that the Earth has gone through plenty of climate changes on its own (Example: the Ice Age). Also, there is evidence that the climate was warmer during the Middle Ages. How could that be if the industrial revolution had not yet occurred? Another point to consider is that a certain valley in Antarctica has typically been used as a standard of "climate change." However, temperatures there have fallen in the last several years.

The scientists purport that the place to look is not the atmosphere temperatures, but the ocean temperatures (not that air temperature has always been the exact measure). They do not mention, however, why ocean temperature is a better measure. From what I gather from the article, warmer air temperatures melt the glacial ice, which feeds into the oceans. As the oceans warm from this runoff, they are a better measure. So, wouldn't you still be able to detect a temperature change in the atmosphere this way? It would have to be present!

Another proof they offer is computer models. I don't know anything about the computer models, but all computer models are flawed in that they cannot replace having a real system to study with real data. Computer models are only as accurate or biased as the person creating it. In other words, GIGO (Garbage In, Garbage Out). If you put bad premises and assumptions into the model, of course you will see the outcome you anticipated. But is it correct?

The bottom line on all of this is that the verdict is far from finished, as some of these folks would like to say. Science by consensus is not always the best method of doing science. Additionally, these people are playing a good PR game, but that is not what science is about or how it should work. What other scientists run to the media everytime they make some tiny little progress? Science is not about popular opinion.


Well, sorry for the absence. Last week was frustratingly busy. I thought I'd have something to post from this weekend (attending Al Mohler's apologetics conference), but my business left me too tired for the trip to Louisville.

No matter.

New posts coming soon!

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Official Announcement!

As of today, this blog has reached 100 visits! Well, at least in the week or so since I installed the counter.

Hey, it's exciting news to me.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Jeez, what is with these people?!

Okay, so it's official: The Daily Vidette is an extension of the moonbat brigade. These people are nuts! I submit to the court the following pieces of evidence:

Exhibit A: College Democrats

The ISU College Democrats, upon hearing that IL congressman Ray LaHood would possibly make a run for governor in 2006, bought up domain names LaHood might use in the future. It made the paper yesterday that several "Republican blogs" (Dang, I wish I had been in on that) had criticized the ISU dems for their childish prank. Some of the McLean County republicans laugh it off as a harmless prank. The Vidette's reaction? "You can't criticize them. They're just doing what other IL republicans are doing."

You can't make this stuff up, people.

Let's see where they go wrong. First, they can't seem to distinguish between the operators of the "republican blogs" and the people who bought up Second, why cannot we criticize both? Surely it is just as stupid and juvenile to have purchased Rod's namesake on the part of those republicans as it was to have purchased LaHood's. Or can I not say that? Not according to the Vidette. Third, the angle of the article to "blame" the IL republicans for the ISU dems' behavior is bizarre. I thought college students were intelligent, independent thinkers who didn't blindly follow anyone?

And finally, this sentence: "In a time of voter suppression and racial gerrymandering, this is the least abrasive of the lengths some have gone to for the sake of the party."

Wow. That came out of left field (pun intended). I'd love to hear more about this "voter suppression" I keep hearing about. Do you mean what happened in Washington State, for example?

Exhibit B: Grass is the Devil!

Annie Spiro, you just don't know when to quit, do you? In this weeks silly invective, Annie goes on a tangent against the American lawn.

Now, don't get me wrong. I'm just as confused by people who spend thousands of dollars to have picture perfect yards, even going so far as to paint their grass.

But here are some of her main points: "Gas mowers pollute way too much, you should use manual mowers instead;" "Pesticides cause cancer, don't use them!"

Now, I'm not sure she's advocating that people should let their yards run absolutely wild. But I always thought that doing so ran a greater public health hazard than cutting? Doesn't a wild yard invite critters and diseases that are unfavorable to healthy living conditions?

Even so, she cites California as an example of emission standards. Now, I know there are people in CA with enormous houses, and lawns to match. My own house has, probably, about 2 acres of grass. It takes about 3 hours to cut it using a riding lawn mower. The time it would take to cut using a manual, push mower? I don't even want to think about it. I'd say at least 9 hours. But that's okay. My father doesn't really need to do anything with his weekends.

I'm all about protecting the environment, and yes, emissions are bad, but surely we can agree that we need to find a better way to reduce emissions, yes?

As far as the pesticides go, she needs to learn some basic science. Do chemicals in pesticides cause cancer? I'm sure they do. Most of the compounds in your food cause cancer, probably. The thing they fail to mention is exposure: how much of this stuff must you ingest at a time before it harms you?

This is not to say, "Oh, well let's pump our bodies full of non-toxic dosages of all kinds of chemicals!" But before you go off on saying a compound causes cancer, you have to be able to quantify that risk. Cancer is a very strange ailment. On many things, we can only make a tenuous connection between cancer and the thing that may or may not cause it. And, again, exposure is a big part. Will cancer come from one big dose or small doses over an extended period of time? If so, how much over what period of time?

The answer, more often than not, is that we just don't know. Annie doesn't and the EPA doesn't either. It's reactionary science at best.

So there you have it, ladies and gentlemen. The staff of the Vidette is absolutely nuts.

CNN's Guilt

See the link.

CNN is running one of the same AP articles that the Vidette ran. They share in the same guilt as the Vidette and all the others. It's a shame they can't find the horror in this.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

A few random observations and a request

Just some random musings about things that I haven't gotten to yet.

As technology evolves, so must our concepts of manners, propriety, and so on. Twenty years ago, no one would have thought about talking on the phone in a movie theater because it wasn't possible. Before camera phones, no one would have thought twice about taking their cell phone into the locker room with them.

I believe I've determined another area where polite manners and technology must evolve.

I was at the wedding, this past weekend, of my girlfriend's cousin and his bride. Wedding ceremonies (especially in Catholic churches) are considered solemn events. You want to remain quiet and attentive during the ceremony. And yet, the constant beep and buzz of electronic noises constantly interrupted the event. Did people leave their cell phones on? No, but you're close. People were using digital cameras that make a "start-up" noise, beep when you push a button, and make a shutter noise when the picture is taken. It was very bizarre to constantly hear such noises at very inappropriate times during the ceremony.

Helpful hint from me to you, my faithful readers: If you buy or own a digital camera, learn how to shut off the sound effects. You will probably need to know how at some point.

In other news, last night I attended my first meeting of the ISU Philosophy Club. It was pretty fun. We talked about stuff. The evening got off to a running start with a discussion on abortion (myself being the only conservative at the table). I was pretty impressed. The others actually agreed that abortion is murder if the preborn child is a person. They just had to argue about when you define personhood. Myself, I take it not just as an argument about personhood, but about humanity. Is it a human life in there? The answer is yes, and it is uniquely human life, much different from a solitary organ or growth or some other common comparison made by abortion advocates.

We talked about other stuff. Some politics. Incidentally, I will need to investigate claims about approval of torture from this administration. I hope what the guys were talking about there weren't true. My part of the table (we had a big, big booth) centered around religion. It was interesting, except one guy kinda harped on a point for a long time. It was good witnessing, and I wish I coulda helped, but he was such a vociferous talker that I never found time to input anything. In any case, I think he may have come off as too belligerent, but we'll just have to see. Eventually, I couldn't really input anymore because my stomach was really upset. This was due to the immense cloud of smoke surrounding our table. Don't get me wrong, I expected there to be smoke, since we met at a pub. I just didn't expect people who were with us to smoke cigarrette after cigarrette after cigarrett. It was crazy!

One last thing. In the week since I installed the counter for this site (Site Meter), I've gotten about 70 visits. This actually impresses me. I didn't realize so many people read my blog. However, not many people leave comments. Actually, none of you do (save Melissa). My question to you, my readers, is why? What can I do to encourage more comments? What can I do to improve the content of this blog? What would get you to come back, or keeps you coming back?

Please, let me know. While I'm committed to freely sharing my views and opinions on the things happening around me and in the world, I'm not so dense as to ignore my audience. Help me help you.

Monday, February 14, 2005

So now we're against ID tags too?

See the link. A small California school has started an experimental program where students are required to wear ID badges around their necks. This itself is not so extraordinary. What's extraordinary is that the badges contain radio frequency transmitters that contain basic information about the student.

The school uses this to simplify attendance taking, and to help keep track of the students. For example, when someone enters or leaves the building, a computer keeps track of it. A system like this makes sense. It allows for much easier management of students, as well as providing another security measure (if you're not wearing and ID badge, you probably shouldn't be at the school). Of course, there are natural limitations to such a system. What if someone swipes your badge? Also, you can't track the student if he/she isn't wearing their badge.

The ACLU and other liberal whiners (i.e. The Vidette editorial board) are not concerned with the limitations of such a system. They're more concerned with violations of student privacy. Those bad, bad men just want money from former students, power over the current ones, and to spy on little girls in the bathroom.

Okay, I exaggerated on the last one. A little.

First off, when have students ever had any right to privacy at school? The teachers have a right (and rightfully so) to know where you are in the building at any time. They can search your backpack, locker, or person at any time without reason or notification. What suddenly entitles the students to privacy?

Second, how does this even violate privacy? The sensors for the badges, as I understand it, are over the doors to the classrooms (so far, only the 7th and 8th grade classrooms at that), and the entrances to the building. Not, as the reactionary Vidette staff seems to think, in the bathrooms. That would probably be something to worry about. This is not. Now, they want to install readers for the cards in the locker rooms, in order to reduce vandalism. Again, this is going to far? The school should already know when someone is in there for gym class or athletics. This just makes it easier to say for certain when someone is and is not in there (although, again, if someone wants to vandalize after school, what prevents them from removing the badge?).

Does the school knowing when you enter and leave the classroom mean a violation of privacy? I guess if you don't know what the word means, then yes. Yes it does.

Stupid Vidette staff. They just keep getting me riled up. If they publish any more nonsense, I'm going to go nuts.

Well I'll Be.

Check out the link, and the links Jim Gerraghty gave. Interesting stuff.

So Eason Jordan resigned. I'm not sure what to think about this. On the one hand, you could think of it as the blogosphere achieving another victory, bringing to light those things that would otherwise be left alone by the media. On the other hand, and Hugh Hewitt makes this point, that this is just a continuation of the cover-up. By his resignation, the fuss over this mess will abate and nobody will care what the video does or does not say, or whether or not CNN has any evidence or whether or not CNN policies and the upper echelon need any revision or shaking up.

Some people are fearing the backlash of "blogs as a mob" commentary. It's been coming in since this thing began, but I suppose it's going to get big attention now. I maintain my original sentiments, however: MSM didn't care about this because, by and large, liberals assumed it was par for the course that US soldiers attacked journalists. It didn't occur to them as otherwise noteworthy. They've been there, done that, and protested the t-shirts. The story is important to them now that one of their own has stepped down because of it, and yes, there will be many stories about the "angry mob" theories of the blogosphere, but take it as a good sign. MSM will fear blogs over that more than anything else, but that will eventually play out as a good thing for all of us: If they learn to get things right, make timely corrections when necessary, and above all be accountable for the information they distribute, then so much the better. If it's because the blogs scared them straight, so be it. But we all win when that day comes.

In the meantime, I hope they will begin to realize that there is a new dynamic to journalism, and that there are people willing to hold them accountable for the things they say if they won't do it themselves.

Umm . . . oops

Did I say "tomorrow"? Oops on that. This weekend was crazy busy with all of the wedding stuff that took place. Sorry to keep anybody waiting. And, well, if you're not a regular reader . . . I'm a college student. Sometimes, I have homework or other obligations. It happens.

Friday, February 11, 2005

Busy Day

Hey guys, today is going to be a very busy day for me. Shopping, homework, seminar stuff in the afternoon, and then I'm heading back home for a wedding rehearsal dinner.

If you couldn't guess, I probably won't be posting anything new today. Check back tomorrow, or dive into the archives and scope out the classics.

More Vidette Rantings

So, I'm once again turning into that crank who constantly writes letters to the editor of a paper, telling them how bad their paper is. Seriously.

Today, I wrote another letter to the Vidette (they usually print 2-3 of mine per year). What was I so incensed about that I wrote this letter? Well, for the past two days, the Vidette has run articles about an upcoming documentary over Deep Throat. No, not the Watergate informant. Deep Throat the 1970s porn movie about a woman with her clitoris in the back of her throat that became a cult classic.

Why am I so bothered by this? Well, these articles are very glowing. They talk about the documentary, and how the movie changed culture, everyone went to see it, celebrating pornography, yada yada yada. They leave out something I think is very, very important to the story of that movie. You see, Linda "Lovelace" Marchiano, the unfortunate starlette of Deep Throat, recounted her experiences with the making of that movie many times in the 1980s. According to her, she was kidnapped to be in the movie. She was systematically beaten to subdue her and to get her to perform. They threatened her life and the lives of her family should she have attempted to escape. She even says they hypnotized her, so as to get around the natural gag reflex (let's leave it at that for now).

That is not a story worth celebrating. And yet both of the articles mention nothing about it. It would seem that the documentary doesn't even include it! If it does, the makers don't consider it a very crucial aspect of the story. I don't know who wrote the stories, but they were distributed by AP. My quarrel is threefold: The makers of the movie show great callousness in ignoring the horrible abuse Linda suffered in making that movie; the Associated Press shows utter irresponsibility by not including that in their far too complimentary articles; and the Vidette shows both by running two articles about the same thing two days in a row and yet not adding anything of their own discussing the dark side of the movie.

I'm not what people would consider a feminist, but I think I'm justifiably upset in this case.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Oh Annie, what won't you say?

Annie Spiro is one of the editors of the Daily Vidette, the student newspaper here at ISU. About a year ago, Annie went from being a cynical skeptic to being a born-again believer. It's a pretty cool story, and I'm overjoyed about her transformation.

Unfortunately, she has a tendency to use her faith in, well, less than scrupulous ways.

Take this recent editorial piece she wrote (see link). She spends a good deal of time talking about how Jesus forbid his followers from seeking revenge. You know, changing "eye for an eye and tooth for a tooth" into "turn the other cheek." And I think she says some very insightful things, particularly about the concept of a "safe" God:
But as those of us who have been Christian for any length of time well know, God's lessons don't always feel good. And, sometimes, He puts us in dangerous situations in order to keep us growing.Sometimes Christians die in the act of following God. When they do, they are honored and called martyrs.
Okay. So far, so good. But then she says something I find appalling:
There are those, especially in our political realm, who would say that the soldiers dying in Iraq now are dying in the fight to spread God's word. They certainly are dying to protect our "Christian" way of life, as well as to avenge those lost in the 9-11 tragedy.

Yikes. How did she get so off track so quickly? She turns the rest of her article into an invective against the war. Her main point: Jesus told us not to take revenge; the War on Terror is a war of revenge; therefore, Christians should not support the war.

C'mon Annie. It's not that simple at all.

First, this is not a war of revenge. Maybe some people see it as such, but it is not. In a way, yes, this is a war to protect our "Christian" way of life, in the sense that it is not a fundamentalist muslim way of life. You see Annie, those people we're fight across the world? They want nothing more than to overthrow the United States and institute Sharia law the world over. If that means killing every last man, woman, and child in the US, so be it. Annie, do you know what that means for you? You would be like chattel, given off to some man to be his novelty wife and baby maker.
There are good reasons to support the war in Iraq, Annie. Revenge doesn't have to be on the list. I know the liberals seem to be absolutely appalled at the thought that US soldiers should die for any cause, much less some other country's cause, but think of those purple fingers. The Iraqi people have been given a chance to actually take control of their own destinies for the first time in a very long while. Is that not worth something? Is it not worth anything to save these people from the sociopathic dictator who ruled them with an iron fist? Doesn't Christ support the plight of the downtrodden and the oppressed?

I'm not saying God is "pro-war." I think, especially in this case, that making rash statements about what God does and doesn't support, based on flimsy reasoning, is a very big mistake. Let's not put words in God's mouth, okay Annie?

*Insert sound of crickets here*

Hey folks. Sorry about the lack of posting today. It was busy, and I had several unexpected things pop up. Worry not. I'll provide you with a joyous bunch of posts tomorrow.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Well, that's awfully nice to wake up to

As much as I should find a new news source, I check every morning to get a glimpse at the news of the day. Here were some of the major headlines I saw as soon as I woke up this morning:

Car Bomb Explodes Near Madrid Convention Center

Iraq: TV Journalist Gunned Down

Mohawk Wearing Teen Survives Scalping

Teacher Charged with Having Sex with Student, 13

Gee, that's positive. I'm rather tired of bad news being the soup dujour (however you spell that). I know it's what "sells" in the news world, but still . . .

Incidentally, the cynical side of me wonders what Eason Jordan thinks of that second bit of news.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Greedy, Greedy Universities

This story sickens me. (See link)

The University of Alabama is currently running a fundraising campaign directed at undergraduate students in order to fund some student scholarships.

Don't get me wrong; it's not a bad cause.

But the university soliciting students for money? Have they no shame? They already get thousands upon thousands of dollars from their students every year, and yet they seem to think that the students have extra money just sitting around? Are they even remembering how much they've raised tuition in the last few years?

A big part of this problem is that the schools really, really like spending and don't understand restraint. Let's take a look at ISU for example.

In the last few years, ISU has renovated one academic building and one dormitory, and built two completely new buildings. Tuition has gone up while state budgets have gone down. Where does ISU get this money?

Well, one of the new buildings, our brand new business building, was paid for by a grant from State Farm. Okay, that's fine. The new performing arts center, on the other hand, is still being paid for. Students no longer have free admission to any musical performance (although they never had free admission to a theatrical performance). They pay the same fee as anyone else to get into these shows.

How ridiculous! My student fees already go towards the use of university facilities, and I still have to pay for admission to shows? *Grumble, grumble* . . .

How about more examples? Well, when the university golf course was fixed up a few years back, I'm told student admission (admission? they still had to pay to get in?) tripled. Yikes. That's ridiculous. Or, most glaring of all, the university rec. center. Now, most universities have nice, expansive workout facilities that their students can use for free. ISU, on the other hand, charges $50/semester for students to use the rec. center, which is constantly overcrowded. Unless, of course, they want to use the workout rooms in the basement of their respective dorm. You have to live in that dorm, of course, to use such facilities (effectively giving the finger to off campus students), but don't let that stop you. You get two exercise bikes and a set of free weights for your trouble down there. Oh, and don't forget the benches. They include a couple of benches, too.

What is the bottom line? The universities are addicted to spending. They spend and spend and spend on things that may be justifiable expenditures, but probably not in the face of budgetary restrictions. So, to fix that problem, they make long-term payment plans, fleecing the students and lowering the quality of the collegiate experience. The University of Alabama shows no difference in their behavior with this SPIRIT campaign.

If any readers are looking for a college to attend, the use of your student fees towards free admission to university facilities is a big plus. Be sure to ask about that.

Monday, February 07, 2005

Eason Jordan Update

Jim Gerraghty over at TKS has put together a comprehensive summary of everything happening in the Eason Jordan debacle so far. I thought about doing something similar, but if he's got it under control, why question that?

Also, if anyone with any sort of sway or influence reads this, could we please come up with another name for this besides "Easongate"? I'm so very, very tired of hearing every single freaking controversy just given the suffix "gate." Monicagate, Rathergate, blah blah blah . . . let's be creative people!

Or, maybe we can be creative and come up with something new? From now on, everything is a debacle. I dub this the Eason Debacle.

I'm sure that'll catch on.

UPDATE: Jim Gerraghty continues to cover this in multiple postings, but his most recent one makes a very good point. He refers to Rony Abovitz's latest essay (he is the man who originally brought this story to light), and makes a damning accusation against MSM for simply sitting by and letting this story become stonewalled, and yet taking polar opposite positions regarding such things with Bush and his administration. Cheney meets with energy executives? We demand transcripts! Jordan claims US soldiers are killing journalists in Iraq? Well, if they don't want to release the video, it's not worth writing about . . .


Iraqi Hospital Attacked

Apparently, a hospital was attacked by a suicide bomber. He summoned police to him outside the hospital, then detonated himself, killing 12 and wounding 4.

Incidents such as these remind me of the people we are fighting against there. A lot of crazy, crazy people in the US want to make these guys out to be freedom fighters and heroes. They are not. They are cold-blooded, heartless sociopaths. They attack hospitals, places of worship, schools, and other public places not by chance or accident but by purpose. In their eyes, there is no such thing as an innocent bystander or an off-limits target. Everyone is simply a means to their end.

Those who would be apologists for these monsters are almost as culpable in their guilt. To excuse something like this is . . . inexcusable.

Cartoons still rock, yo

I wish I had more time. I'd have applied to work on the Daily Vidette, ISU's student newspaper, as one of the editors. Well, at least an editorial writer. I may not know much about editing newspapers, but I couldn't possibly write worse columns than some of the clowns that have worked for the Vidette in the past.

See the above link for an example of this. The writer laments the disappearance of good cartoons. Gone are the days of the Flintstones, the Jetsons, Tom and Jerry, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Bugs Bunny, et cetera. These days, our cartoons lack many things and are dumb.

I want to point out my major disagreements with her, beginning with her glaring error in calling "Teletubbies" a cartoon. It is not. It may be a children's television program, but she seems to misunderstand the very defintion of cartoon when she labels it as such. She also chides it for its lack of intelligent dialogue, and though I wouldn't disagree with here there, she needs to realize that Teletubbies are meant for infants. Anybody older than two would find them trying.

Now to her real points. The author worries that too few cartoons contain good qualities such as a plot, an educational value, or instilling morals and virtues. Those things, however, are present in so many cartoons. Is she even looking very hard? Most CN shows have plots, even if they don't extend from show to show (something lacking in most shows these days anyhow). Educational value? That's a PBS quality, baby. You want that, you watch the Magic School Bus or something. Morals and virtues? Courage the Cowardly Dog teaches children about honesty, integrity, loyalty, etc. Powerpuff Girls? Honesty, integrity, etc. Most CN and WB cartoons are all about the virtues. Besides, since when was Bugs Bunny meant to be educational, or to promote morals?

Most of the cartoons she fondly remembers are not as well-remembered as she would like to think. People constantly berated Looney Toons for promoting and glorifying senseless violence. TMNT? Yeah, watch some of those old episodes and tell me you think that dialogue is oh-so-wonderful.

The truth is that there is an enormous variety of cartoons in the modern market for any audience you can think of. I'll be the first to admit, a lot of children's cartoons are rather dumb. They're not bad for the children, but they are kinda stupid. However, many of the most popular CN and WB cartoons are loved by both children and adults, and for good reason. Let's use Pixar as an example here. Their material is universally loved. What's their secret? Pixar's Craig Good, in a December interview with National Review, put it this way:

We don't make movies for kids. We make movies for adults, actually ourselves, and then just make sure there's nothing in them that the little ones shouldn't see. The local cineplex is littered with movies made by studios who want to second-guess what the audience wants. We find we get better results by making what we want, and then assuming that there are other people like us out there.

If audiences in general are underestimated, kids really get the patronizing treatment. Two things are often forgotten about kids. One: They have no taste. They will watch just about anything. This is normal and healthy. Taste comes later. Two: They are not stupid! Kids are born intelligent, and there's no good reason to make dumbed-down entertainment for them.

He makes an excellent argument. Good cartoons are good cartoons. Ms. Hanson, on the other hand, seems to have no idea what is actually on TV.

American Dud?

Okay, so the title's a throw-away joke. You had to see it coming.

I watched the pilot for Seth McFarlane's "American Dad" last night. I'm not overly impressed, but here's my thoughts:

1) The overwhelming impression I took in was the incredible political angst that must be consuming Seth. It's no secret that he's a staunch critic of the Bush administration and its policies. He didn't let anything hide in this show, whether the over the top caricature of the hyper-patriotic Stan Smith or the various other politically gratuitous jokes.

Don't get me wrong. I like political satire as much as anyone, and I can be on either end, giving or receiving. For example, the segment when God called Bush and said (roughly), "Yeah, like, when you said 'God wanted me to be President'? Maybe you could keep those things to yourself, okay? Hold on, Cheney's on the other line [switches over] . . . yes sir?"

2) All right, so it was just one episode, but the characters . . . I'm not sure what to say about them. The first episode focused mainly on the father, Stan Smith, an uber-patriotic (hey, I already used "hyper") CIA agent, and his son, Steve, a geeky high-school student looking for love. I can already tell that the father is going to be the subject of many, many jokes about intelligence failures, homeland security, post 9/11 conservative thought, and so on. The son just reminds me too much of a slightly better looking Neil Goldman.

Other segments briefly featured the daughter, a hippy-esque teenage liberal who bickered with her father quite a bit. Her scenes featured a rather fruity alien (whose name escapes me for the time being) with an eating disorder hiding out in their home and little desire to return to where he came from. Also, he explosively defecates everywhere every 7 hours. Yeah . . .

The wife was present, but barely. All we can tell about her so far is that she is submissive to her husband and dumb as a rock. I'd hope her character gets developed a bit more, because so far she's two-dimensional (in more ways than one, of course). Also included was a perverted East German skier whose brain was transferred to a goldfish's body. He made a few brief appearances, and he is weird. Very, very weird. If they develop him as well, I'm curious as to how they'll do it.

3) Overall, this just made me hungrier for the new episodes of Family Guy. This show really felt like Seth MacFarlane needed an outlet for his political anger, as though he couldn't make the same jokes on Family Guy. While the show presents fresh opportunities to work with new characters, it just feels too much like Family Guy. Don't get me wrong, I like Family Guy, and I'm not going to condemn him to working endless on the one show. For example, I like Futurama much better than the Simpsons, and wish Matt Groening would cease the latter ASAP. But I think we can all agree that Family Guy was ended before its time, and rather than splitting his attention between two topics, he ought to focus mainly on Family Guy. Will American Dad turn out to be a dud? I can't say for certain at this point. The pilot was kinda "eh." But new episodes will begin when the new episodes of Family Guy begin. I guess we'll just have to wait and see.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

US Involvement in Oil-For-Food Scandal?

According to the article (see link), the US condoned the illegal trade during Saddam's regime in order to garner support from Iraq's neighbors, the ones with whom Saddam was trading.

This seems odd. Who allowed this? Should we punish them for such behavior as well?

This is not to take the pressure off of Kofi Annan and the others implicated in the Oil-For-Food scandal, but let's have clarity at home, too.

Words That Follow

This is mainly a test post. I've been trying to add some posts lately (pretty good ones, in fact), but blogger has been rather moody. I don't want to write something important and then feel like trashing my computer because blogger chewed up my post and spit it into the waste bin of the internet.

Anyhoo, on a relatively unimportant note, I've discovered this great online Java game called "Words That Follow" (see the link above). You and up to ten people are shown a picture, and have about 30 seconds to write a humorous, witty caption for it. Then, everyone votes on which caption they like the best (excluding your own, of course). You get points for receiving votes, and the most points after a few rounds wins the game. It's hysterical, as long as you're playing with clever people.

That is all. Keep your eyes peeled. I should be here very soon with some good posts, providing blogger doesn't hate me.

US Soldiers Targetting Journalists?

This is the story so far: Eason Jordan, CNN's Chief News Executive, makes the claim at an international economic forum that journalists are being specifically targetted by US soldiers in Iraq. After being challenged on the claim, he backs down without disavowing it.

CNN's response? He was misinterpretted.

I don't know why people aren't concerned about this. This is big, big stuff. Probably the largest news organization in the world (well, at least one of the most important) has one of their highest men going around the world telling stories about the US military in Iraq, stories that if true are absolutely despicable, and nobody cares? News organizations can't just lie about stuff to pander to an international audience hungry for Anti-American news! Similiarly, if this is true, we need to find out the evidence now!

I ran this story off of one of the "I hate Bush and everything he stands for" liberals off of CARM, and his reaction was predictable but disappointing: "No, it's not big news. It's no more newsworthy than anything Rush spouts daily and probably just as reliable. Until and unless some evidence appears, ala the photos of the Abu Ghraib Graner/England party, it's just some guy flappin' his gums.We KNOW the US military has abused prisoners at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay. We KNOW the commander-in-chief of those military personnel calls the Geneva conventions "a bunch of legalisms". We KNOW the Attorney General heir-apparent calls the same conventions "obsolete" and "quaint". We KNOW the president wants to hold both foreign AND AMERICAN citizens in prison indefinitely without charges and without access to counsel."

We'll ignore, for now, the supposed knowledge about these events. It's not just about being outraged, or finding out about bad things happening. This is about holding people accountable for their actions, be it the US military personnel ordering and performing these deeds, or the news executives who seem to think that they can create news to please an audience.

UPDATE: Apparently, CNN is sending emails out to some of the bloggers, telling them that Eason Jordan has been "misinterpretted." Nobody has said anything big (yet), but I get the feeling MSM will be on this one by tomorrow, or as late as Friday, perhaps. Rony Abovitz, the blogger who originally broke this story, is getting peppered by requests for interviews from MSM and bloggers. Keep your eyes peeled, especially to TKS and Hugh Hewitt for more details on this.