Thursday, April 28, 2005

The Lost Message of Jesus

Al Mohler has a great post (see link) about a book by Steve Chalke and Alan Mann entitled The Lost Message of Jesus. Mohler has some great thoughts and gives an excellent summary of the situation, but I thought I'd add my own thoughts on the issue.

The book actually starts out with premises that I can appreciate.

"What once profoundly shaped communities and changed lives has today been sidelined in society. The radical message of Jesus is now seen as nothing more than an ancient myth containing little, if any, historical truth or contemporary relevancy. Misleading potted versions of the story of Jesus have been filtered down to us through bland civic religion, caricatured snippets from the mouth of Ned Flanders, Homer Simpson's nerdy Christian neighbour, and the sickly sweet, saccharine-flavoured version of Christmas presented to us by retailers and the media each October through December."

"We feel we have been handed loads of jumbled-up pieces and we just can't work out how they all fit together. The one thing we lack is what we need most-the lid with the picture on it. Without that big picture, all we have are the random pieces of 'theology' that we have managed to pick up along the way. And we are often at a loss to see much, if any, relevancy or relationship of the separate pieces to one another."

Such sentiments really don't seem unusual to those seeking the Gospel or the immature Christians. Elements and snippets of whole Biblical theology escape into the culture war, but the whole of the Biblical message never seems to become part of that war. As a result, people hear the bits and pieces and miss the forest for the trees. Even amongst (professing) Christians I'd say this is a problem at times, but largely due to Biblical ignorance. If you don't know what the Bible says, then how are derivative truths going to seem to you?

Unfortunately, the book takes a major left turn and advocates a nice, warm, fuzzy version of Christianity, sometimes referred to as the Moral Influence theory of atonement. The authors essentially write that Evangelical notions of hell, sin, punishment, atonement, etc. are all perversions of the Biblical message. Jesus didn't die on the cross in our place for the punishment of sin. He died on the cross to show us what true devotion to God is like and the cross, as the authors put it:
"the cross is a symbol of love. It is a demonstration of just how far God as Father and Jesus as his Son are prepared to go to prove that love. The cross is a vivid statement of the powerlessness of love."

Yeah. The authors talk several times about the "myth of redemptive violence," saying that "God is love" becomes a lie if Jesus died for us to accept our sins.

This picture they present of Biblical "redemption" is flawed. They can't adequately account for sin. Though Mohler never really says whether or not the authors completely discount sin, it doesn't matter. If God doesn't punish sin, then it doesn't matter what we do. If God is just "pure love" as they would like to think, then why should we bother changing for Him? He'd like us just the same no matter what.

But such an unbalanced view of the attributes of God cannot be reconciled with the Biblical text. We know that God is love, but we also know that he is just. Over and over in the text it says that God will punish sin. If God will punish sin, and mankind is sinful, then the only consequence is that God must punish mankind. But thankfully, because of His love, God came to Earth in the the person of Christ and received the punishment due our sins. By his atoning sacrifice, mankind could enter into the presence of God unblemished.

That is the Biblical picture of redemption. Not that Jesus was just showing us a good way to live, but that He died in order that we might live eternally. It's the very essence of the Biblical message.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

"Next Blog" Evangelism

A poster at CARM/blogger who goes by the handle "Centuri0n" has an excellent post about the balance of apologetics and evangelism in the blogosphere. If you're a Christian, you would do well to read it.

I sympathize with him greatly. I started this blog so that I could write about news, political, and cultural events from a Christian standpoint, although often this bleeds over into a politically conservative perspective.

Perhaps sometimes I become too wrapped up in the "news/cultural analysis" aspect and forget the "Go and make disciples of all nations" thing. Where is the balance? I don't have an answer to that at the moment.

Canadian Dissolution?

According to Captain Ed (see link above), our neighbors to the north are having some problems on their side of the border. Anyone who has been following the Adscam scandal should know about this (if you don't know, you'd do well to read the litany of posts concerning this over at Captain's Quarters).

Apparently, though, the scandal has represented the possibility that Quebec would separate from Canada in a strong way. Interesting. I'm not sure how much such an event would destabilize Canada, but Ed is right in saying that it will be bad news if Canada does become unstable. We have a long, unmilitarized border with them. Unstable Canada = Bad.

Edit - Apparently I don't know how this "Trackback" thing works. The link is fixed.

Intelligent Design on Campus

I really should read Nature more often. It's a rather interesting journal. Above, I've linked to a recent article about the influx of intelligent design advocates to college campuses, and how it is picking up momentum.

While I ought to give the article a thorough response, I don't quite have the time to do so. However, here is a pertinent passage:
Cordova's story is more common than many scientists might think, according to Keith Miller, a geologist at Kansas State University in Manhattan who is an evangelical Christian. "I think a lot of students go through a period of being very conflicted about their faith, especially if they have an innate interest in science," Miller says. He knows a number of students who have fallen away from their beliefs as a result of their university experience. "They've so identified their faith with a particular view of what creation means, that it becomes an all-or-nothing kind of thing," he says. "I do think intelligent design offers an alternative, although I would argue it's not a good one." . . .

Scott, who is perhaps the nation's most high-profile Darwinist, is frustrated by the scientific community's inability to grapple with the issue. "The point here is that Americans don't want to be told that God had nothing to do with it," she says. "And that's the way the intelligent-design people present evolution." Scientists need to
do a better job of explaining that science makes no attempt to describe the supernatural and so has no inherent conflict with religion, she argues. "College professors need to be very aware of how they talk about things such as purpose, chance, cause and design," she says. "You should still be sensitive to the kids in your class."

Pure bunk. First, remember the roots of Darwinian evolutionary theory. Many of its strongest proponents openly admitted that they accepted it because it freed them to choose whatever moral path they desired, especially sexually (I'll come back with some references later). Next, realize that the message is very contradictory. "We have naturalistic explanations for everything that has happened and will happen, including human origins, so your faith is incorrect." You don't think that's a conflict of interest with faith? To be told that your God is neither present nor necessary in the world really doesn't give one much to have faith in.

I haven't followed these issues nearly as closely as I should, given my professional interests. However, I can say this much: There would be less uproar and controversy over the teaching of evolution if the scientific community would be more honest about the theory's flaws. There is so much debate over how some things occurred or whether they did occur. Sometimes, scientists are willing to jump straight to a purely evolutionary explanation of some event or data without even asking if there is another possible explanation.

Not that I'm an expert by any means. But I'd like to think that I can, well, think. It's not just for the professionals, you know.

Silly Government Initiatives

I'm sure you've read about this before, but one more foray into the mix isn't going to hurt you. (See the link above)

Peter Cook, author of the Slublog, also has a regular column at the Republican Journal. In the most recent, he talks about the adjustments made to Cooking Monster, who now sings that "A cookie is a sometimes food."

Here's my favorite excerpt:
Next, I hear they are going to change the name of Oscar the Grouch to Oscar the Sometimes Inappropriately Disgruntled. After all, the number of incidents of bad behavior in schools and at sports events is on the rise - a sure sign there's a puppet involved. If PBS really wanted to make a difference, they would leave Cookie Monster alone and immediately punish the person responsible for unleashing Elmo into the popular culture.

Chinese Christians and the UN

Above, I've linked a National Review Online article regarding the UN Commission on Human Rights and their reaction to Chinese Christians who have appeared before them, claiming to be persecuted for their faith. When one of the presenters displayed an electric baton he smuggled out of the country, which he said has been used to torture himself and others, the Chinese delegation apparently had a hissy fit. The UNCHR's reaction was to toss out the Christians. Oh, but don't worry. Even though they never wrote any resolutions condemning China's lack of religious freedom or terrible campaign against Christians, they did write four resolutions about Israel. You can sleep soundly tonight.

Let's be honest with ourselves. Given the sheer, mindboggling backwardness of thought in many of these committees, and the rampant corruption in many of their "missions," why wouldn't we want to send in someone like Bolton? His opponents' main argument has been that he's far too critical of the organization he is to be our ambassador to. Look at the UN lately! Scandal, corruption, purposeful ignorance in the face of atrocities . . . why shouldn't someone be critical of that?! Why shouldn't we send someone in who won't be satisified with business as usual?

SIUC Controversy

Sometimes I'm amazed how unconnected I am with happenings back in my home region.

The guys at Powerline posted about a controversy brewing at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale in regards to a professor giving out "racist" reading assignments.

Below are two articles. One reports on the controversy, the other is the controversial reading assignment:

Academic Witch-Hunt

Remembering the Zebra Killings

I haven't had time yet to read the article in question, but according to the first, the so called "racism" that is being decried by certain members of SIU's history department is nothing more than calling attention to a series of black serial killings in the 1970s. How that is racist is beyond me. What is further beyond me is how simply assigning the article as optional reading is itself racist.

Even if it was racist, isn't it worth it to understand history sometimes? If you took a class on 1930's Germany, would it be so unreasonable for a professor to ask you to read Mein Kampf? As long as he's not asking you to believe every word in it, where is the harm? The angry professors say that there are "reasonable" ways to introduce sensitive topics. Well, this was optional reading. What makes this unreasonable, and how much more reasonable does it have to get?


I took the time to actually read some material from SIUC's student paper, The Daily Egyptian. Here is a letter the professors wrote at the start of the controversy, and here is a recent article.

In the article, the professors say that this is really about "the use of improper sourcing." Balderdash. If you actually read the letter they sent out, they do mention that, but their own words confirm what they really were upset about:
We strongly believe in the rights of academic freedom and in a professor's right to choose course material. Academic responsibility, however, demands that professors promote the free exchange of ideas without creating a hostile environment, running the risk of nurturing racist attitudes among their students, and putting their teaching assistants in an untenable position. Moreover, it is our academic responsibility as history professors to disassociate ourselves from this irresponsible use of objectionable and inflammatory material. We call on the University community to open a dialogue about the issues raised by this incident.

Open dialogue indeed. The bolding was mine. Objectionable and inflammatory to whom? How so?

Stupid Blogger

I wrestled with Blogger this afternoon, but it just now started working again. Sorry, but new post's won't come until this evening, after class.

I have 22 pages worth of papers due next week. Why on earth am I blogging? Oh well.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Saudi Chief Justice Approves Killing in Iraq

Apparently, Sheik Saleh Al Luhaidan, holding a very influential position in the Saudi government, has been encouraging men to enter the fight in Iraq during his sermons.

This really is just another symptom of the overwhelming problem we have with Saudi Arabia. They play nice to us in person and in front of the cameras, but then when they are back home and speaking in tongues that Americans don't understand, they let it all hang out; they preach some of the most provocative, vile anti-American sentiments.

The government is very secretive of how it approaches the Saudis. It doesn't seem to castigate them for anything, and reveals very little to the American public about its relationship with the monarchy.

I may never understand why our government takes the approach it does with Saudi Arabia, but I certainly hope we stop putting up with such nonsense at some point.

Zarqawi Nearly Caught

Apparently, US forces in Iraq were almost able to catch Al-Zarqawi in Iraq, but he escaped before capture (reminds me of 24 from this week). Also, evidence in the car indicates he's been in communication with Bin Laden.

The noose is tightening. Anybody who paints a doom/gloom picture of Iraq at this point is missing the forest for the trees.
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- U.S. troops nearly captured wanted terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi earlier this year in Iraq -- and instead netted a trusted lieutenant of Osama bin Laden, sources said Monday. U.S. forces captured the unidentified al Qaeda associate west of Falluja near Ramadi on February 20 when American troops were tipped off that al-Zarqawi might be in the area, two sources told CNN. At one point, U.S. troops chased down a suspicious vehicle and later determined that al-Zarqawi had been in it but had escaped. The bin Laden associate was seized in the same general area, sources said, and a computer was taken from the vehicle containing "a treasure trove of information" -- including direct connections to bin Laden. The sources said it's a significant find -- a clear indication that al-Zarqawi and bin Laden are in two-way communications and that bin Laden couriers are able to get into Iraq. Al-Zarqawi is a Jordanian-born terrorist whose group has claimed responsibility for numerous car bombings, kidnappings and beheadings in Iraq.

Pharmacists and the Morning-After Pill

If you follow the link, you'll learn from William Saletan that the battle over "emergency contraception" is not all that it's cracked up to be. There seems to be an agenda of making the problem seem very widespread, when in reality it isn't. Saletan tries to make the case that pro-lifers are generally avoiding this dispute for good reasons.

The situation is complicated. I sympathize with many of these pharmacists. If you believe that the morning-after pill causes a developing, unborn child to die, then of course distributing it is going to give you moral objections. Rightly so. Should they be forced to hand it out, then? I really don't think so. Morally objectionable acts shouldn't be a required aspect of the job, particularly when one believes it to be a matter of life and death.

However, I don't agree with many of the purported tactics of these pharmacists, such as witholding their prescription after refusing to fill it. How widespread is such a thing? Hard to say, as nobody gives numbers for it, and as Saletan writes in his article, there really aren't numbers for such a thing. Right now, we're running on anecdotal evidence.

Can we be honest for a minute on this one? If the pharmacist you go to tells you that he won't fill that prescription, is it really so hard to find another pharmacy? From how the media talks about this, they make it sound like it's nigh impossible to find pharmacies that will fill this prescription because of all of those crazy pro-lifers out there, but I can't imagine it to be that hard to find one pharmacy to fill it. I don't exactly come from large towns, but if I needed to find a pharmacy, I could probably think of about 10 locations, all in about a 15 minute driving radius. How could this possibly be as problematic as people make it out to be?

Monday, April 25, 2005

Five Things I Hate

Oh, the dangers of non-blogging weekends. Apparently there's a meme floating around right now where people are sharing five things that they hate, which people ordinarily enjoy. (If you are unfamiliar with the concept of a "meme," it is a topic which gets spread from blog to blog; essentially, like those forwarded quiz emails)

So, lest I be "unhip" in the blogosphere (heh, probably too late for that), here are the five things that I hate:

1. Instant Messenger
I despise it. I mean, don't get me wrong, chatting and instant communication with friends and coworkers is great. Being able to multitask or get instant information from lab partners has been invaluable to me.

But the whole thing is ridiculous. Maybe I just wasn't built for the computer age (a strange thing coming from someone of my generation), but when I sit at the computer and see text flash back and forth, I have the hardest time equating it with real human contact. I don't often remember to put up "away messages." I'll often wander off in the middle of "conversations," because I'm trying to do homework or clean the house, or something more important than inane chatter on "the box."

And boy, does that ever tick people off. Which is one of the reasons I hate instant messenger. If you really want to talk to me, if it's something important, call me. If communicating with me is really that important to you, you can pick up your dang phone and hear my voice.

Ah, but then people couldn't talk to multiple people, or simply look at my away message all the time without actually having to talk to me. Stalking: It's not just for weirdos anymore!

2. Religious Do-nothings
You may wonder what I mean by the phrase. Let me explain. It's rather a phenomenon of modern Christianity (perhaps other generations suffered from this as well, though I have not the learning to know one way or the other) that we like to talk. We talk and talk and talk. We talk about how much God is doing and all of the great things He is working on. We talk about all of the wonderful things we could be doing in his name. We talk about the possibilities for ministry, the good works we could do, that others do, and so on ad infinitum. And yet it all comes down to sound and fury signifying nothing.

For all of our talk, we return with lame excuses. "Hey, we should work at the soup kitchen this weekend! Will I be there? Uh, no. I, uh . . . I have homework to do. And I need to go visit my family. I have plans already." It's a major problem. We like to talk, we like to plan, we like to think about how great the ideas are we can come up with for serving God, but when the time comes to give our faith feet and make it walk, we wimp out. We'd rather be self-serving and insulate ourselves. If we don't have to face real problems, then we can live our life like none of that really exists.

And yet, I'm probably the worst of hypocrites when it comes to this, preaching against something I do as much as the next man. Lord, have mercy on me.

3. Online Gaming
Hey, abrupt change of subject. I hate online games. I hate them with a passion. Not just the MMORPGs (Massively-Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games, for those not in the know), but the strategy and the shooter games, though for other reasons.

Primarily, I hate them because the majority of peope playing online are immature 13-year olds who have the mouths of sailors. They seem to get their thrills from being absolute jerks and telling you about it in ways that would make gangsta rappers blush. Why? Here's one theory (WARNING: Bad language!). Playing games with these people makes me want to hurt them badly.

That problem applies to both genres, but I can live with multiplayer gaming online otherwise. It's the MMORPGs that really bug me. You see, I like paying for a game once, then being able to enjoy it whenever I want for as long as I want. Not so with these. With these, you continue to pay for the privelege of playing the game, even after you paid $50 for the game in the first place. You shell out this money to play a game that has no point. It's not even a game. If it was a game, someone could win. But the only person who wins these games are the companies taking your money over and over.

Additionally, you can't play these games by yourselves. They make the games too hard to be played by people who can't stand the swearing 13 year olds. The games are mainly for stats/item junkies who want to get the best stuff, and you do so by spending your first 20 or so hours of game play killing rats and oversized fungi, just for the privelege of moving on to slightly larger rats. Eventually, you get to kill real monsters, but that's still only if you've taken on the patience to put up with the "other people" long enough to go on quests.

Count me out.

4. Smokers
This might seem like an obvious, and overplayed item, but public smoking just really steams my carrots (wow, that is really lame). It's not just the bizarreness of having "smoking" and "non-smoking" sections in restaurants when it's all the same air, or having to sit with people in those places who just light up without asking if anyone in their vicinity would mind them saturating the area with foul smelling carcinogens. It's the utter inesecability of public smoking.

For example, I can't walk to class without getting a faceful of smoke. It's awful. I'm glad they enacted the rule where smokers must remain 15 feet from the doors of all campus buildings, but good luck finding people who actually follow said rule. Even if I manage to leave a building without getting caught in the cloud of smoke that lingers with them outside the doorways, I always manage to end up walking just downwind of some other smoker taking the same path as me to class. They just blow their filth into the wind, and "WHOOSH!" . . . right into my face. Blechh. Keep it to yourselves, fellas.

5. Contrary Opinions
Don't get me wrong. I don't think everyone has to agree with me, and I can often times respect people who hold differing opinions from me, because I know that they hold their opinions in good conscience and reached their conclusions because of the reasoning they applied to the knowledge they had.

But sometimes . . . people just don't get it.

This really encompasses so much. It's the people who think that if you hold an opinion contrary to theirs, you must be some ignorant troglodyte who cannot think rationally about anything. It's the people who remain willfully ignorant of a subject because they are satisfied with their position, or the people who willfully ignore information in order to preserve their preconceived ideas. It's the people who are so deep into their ideas that they cannot possibly even conceive that they might be wrong about it; all argument with them becomes an exercise in futility, as they don't even take a moment to consider your ideas. It's the people who hold vehemently to their idea, but live in ways that completely contradict their idea (example: "peace" protesters who attack counter-protesters).

So, it's not that people believe or opine differently than I do. It's the people who do so in ridiculously silly ways that really frustrates me.

There you have it. Five things I hate. Maybe later I should do a "Five things I love" list just to bring some balance. I don't want my audience (that's you) to think I'm a crank.

Peruvian Virgin Remains So

So apparently this 15 year old Peruvian model, living with her mother and 12 year old brother, decided to sell her virginity in a desperate bid to have enough money for survival. She advertised it in newspapers, the internet, and such. Apparently, it garnered a lot of talk and very little else.

It did not take long before many in this staunchly Catholic country were up in arms.

Some said her actions were nothing short of prostitution. Others said she needed psychological help.

She says some people admired her ingenuity, saying she was doing more than the teenage girls who lost their virginity in the parks because they wrongly thought they were in love.

Her virginity almost became a question of national pride, with some commentators and chat show hosts accusing her of trying to damage Peru's reputation.
I'm just flabbergasted. Has nobody attempted to help her, or has the outrage been nothing but sound and fury? Apparently a Canadian man, who offered her $1.5M, was relieved when she turned down the offer for sex. If he has that kind of money to spend on sex with a 15 year old girl, can't he spend at least a portion of it to help her escape her desperate situation?

The BBC reports that her economic situation remains virtually unchanged. What a sad picture of humanity. Honestly, I find myself sympathizing with the liberals when so called "religious conservatives" sit and talk about morality and "national pride" and yet do nothing to help change the conditions that led to the problem in the first place. We tarnish the image of Christ in this world when our faith is not backed up by works.

I saw this story when someone on the CARM board asked what the proper response to it should be. Mine is absolute amazement.

Friday, April 22, 2005

Department of Blogland Security

John Ashcroft, eat your heart out.

I've found the very interesting aspect of my sitemeter, and that is being able to see who is reading my website (by domain) and where they are coming from (by referring website). It's interesting data. I know who my returning readers are (although most of your identities are a total mystery to me).

Case in point: I have people from IWU and SEMO visiting regularly. Yet, I haven't really talked to anyone from IWU in a while. And SEMO could really only be someone(s) I went to high school with. I have a hard time imagining that random strangers care a great deal about my random tirades on politics and religion.

Well, no pressure to indentify yourselves, mysterious readers. I'm glad you keep coming back. But just so you know . . . I'm watching . . . oooooohhhhh . . . (okay, I'm done being creepy).

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Religious Bias at the Vidette

There is an article here (see link) in the Daily Vidette, the Illinois State student newspaper, that some "hangout" noise is bothering some local residents. Here is a relevant passage:

It is 9 p.m. on a Tuesday night and the walls of senior telecommunications management major Jim Rohde's apartment are shaking. "The thing is," Rohde said, "is that there is a band below my house." Rohde, as well as his three roommates, live above The 707, a hangout for a Youth Group from the First Assembly of God in Normal. He said since the beginning of this year the group's noise levels are out of hand. "[Young America] said there was a small community center downstairs mostly used for worship," Rohde said. "They told us it was supposed to be two hours a week." However, within the last year, Rohde says the noise and usage have both escalated. Just last week, he said, the group used the facility six days. Rohde described some nights as being as loud as a Dave Matthews Band concert and said his grades, as well as his roommates', have been effected.

I have sympathy for them as well. But that's the problem.

I lived in a Young America apartment for one semester. I had neighbors who had loud parties, and when I say loud I mean "can't hear yourself think" loud, at all hours of the night all weekend long. Many weekends, the parties wouldn't even begin until 1AM. I called the police on many occasion.

That didn't warrant an article in the paper. But this does? Talk about double standards. This is "news" because the people are bothered by the noise of a Christian group worshipping and holding concerts (well, the organizers of the concerts are Christians, at least). But general college partying? Oh, well that's expected to bother the neighbors. Not news at all.

Besides, why can't these guys do what I always did: Go find a quiet place somewhere else to study?


This week's Impromptus column by Jay Nordlinger of NRO. Always worth a read.

A portion I, again, find particularly relevant:
Speaking of the stinkin’ U.N.: The vote on the human-rights committee to condemn
Castro’s Cuba was 21 to 17, with 15 abstaining. That is, 21 countries voted for the resolution of condemnation, 17 voted against, and 15 abstained. Let’s have a look at the roll call, shall we? It makes for interesting reading. I’ll go alphabetically.

Argentina abstained — bastards. Brazil abstained — ditto. (Lula really protecting his left flank, huh? His core supporters must love torture, murder, and total repression. At least Lula didn’t vote no.) Canada voted yes — sort of shocking. What is Canada’s beef with Cuba? They have warm trade relations, warm tourism relations, warm
everything relations. Hell, Castro was a pallbearer at Pierre Trudeau’s funeral. (So was Jimmy Carter.) I find it amazing that Canada voted yes.

China voted no, of course — the Communist brutes sticking together. Congo voted no — beautiful. Cuba — guess what?! — Cuba voted no! (You knew that Castro sits on
the human-rights committee, right?) Egypt voted no. Yep, good boy, Hosni: You
need to stick with the likes of Fidel. France voted yes — a little surprised. I’m pretty sure that the entire French establishment thinks better of Castro than of, say, President Bush. And Germany voted yes.

India voted no. India! Why? This great democracy, this glorious chunk of the Anglosphere, this recipient of the liberal democratic tradition. What are they doing, going and voting for Castro’s gulag, and against its innocent inmates?

Indonesia voted no, which is perfect — confirming my view of that government. Nigeria voted no — and President Obasanjo seems like such a nice man, when he visits Davos, in his flowing robes.

Russia voted no — does Putin realize that Castro is no longer a client? Saudi Arabia voted yes! Very interesting, that. Must be a matter of U.S.-Saudi relations. Sudan voted no — thank heavens. Ukraine voted yes — Yushchenko and that government have no truck with Castro at all. Yushchenko is a democrat.

Finally — down to the Z’s — Zimbabwe voted no: Again, like sticks with like. Bob M. and Fidel: a beautiful couple.

Anyway . . .

Radical Un-Chic

Well, I'm glad there's someone who agrees with me, and at Yale of all places.

This is an article by Keith Urbanh, and it chastises those on the left who would still hold on to their lionization of Communists, Marxists, and other socialistic butchers. Given the recent topics on this blog, here's what I consider to be the most relevant passage:

Che Guevara is the consummate embodiment of Marxism and everything it stands for: mass murder, injustice and failure. Che's noble vision of serving the communist revolution was killing hundreds -- likely thousands -- of "state enemies" in the Cuban jungles as Fidel Castro's executioner. With the conviction of a true crusader for justice, he believed that "to send men to the firing squad, judicial proof is unnecessary." His attempts at fomenting socialist uprisings and fighting bloody insurgent campaigns in the Congo and Bolivia were grand failures that led to his ignominious death . . .

But "idealism," "courage" and "equality" were part of the Marxist myth fed to us by the propaganda machines of communist regimes and the Western intellectual elite who willingly did their bidding. Yet the Marxist reality, now revealed to us by a century of communism's ignoble history, is synonymous with genocide and tyranny. That we are blind to the crimes of communism and the true meaning of Marxism is no longer an excuse. Marxism was a dark -- perhaps the darkest -- chapter in human history. Those who still admire the ideology are sullied by the black stain of 85 million deaths. Those who -- ignorant of the story behind their beloved leftist icons -- sport Che or vintage Communist Party shirts are likewise tainted by tacit approval of unprecedented crimes against humanity.

"No" really DOES mean "No" in Sweden


Wednesday, April 20, 2005

MoveOn Indeed

So, sometimes while I'm walking to class, I pass by the dorms close enough to see things in people's windows. Today, I once again saw that one room still has a sign reading "Students for Kerry-Edwards."


Yep. Still.


Yeah. I even see the occasional John2 button on a backpack or messenger back. C'mon guys, let it go. Move on. John Kerry lost the election. How long ago was that? Almost six months?

You want to protest George Bush, and I'm fine with that. I think your reasons for doing so are misinformed, but you're free to think as you wish. But find another way. Living in the past doesn't make you look like a rebel, it makes you look like a mopey loser.

Day of Silence, eh?

Not with construction taking place outside my house.

PRIDE is celebrating the National Day of Silence today at ISU.

Consider this post my counter-protest.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

ISU Propaga . . . er, Drag Show

Once again, PRIDE (that's the GLBT group at Illinois State) has held its annual Drag Show. Read the link at your own risk.

Should it bother me so much that the University would sponsor this type of thing? I know that PRIDE is a registered student organization, but it just feels creepy that ISU would actively promote this sort of thing.

What gets me more is that everytime it takes place, the Daily Vidette (so very liberal friendly) makes it a front page affair, including a large picture of the obscenely dressed emcee for the evening. Since when did the paper become a propaganda page? If I had children, I'd probably do my best to keep this issue out of their sight every year.


Hey Christians: It's not about you!

Peter Cook, author of the Slublog, has an excellent post today about the dismal connection between the message of Christians (the Gospel) and the lives they lead. It does speak to a problem when our lives are not noticeably different from the lives of the non-Christians in this world.

That is exactly why whenever I hear people quote Francis of Asisi, I have a hard time believing it. "Preach the Gospel always. When necessary, use words" (somethign to that effect). Balderdash. Even if that were the case, Christians today do such a poor job living out their faith that we'd have to use words.

Che Guevara and the ALAS Part 2

Last night I received another response, this time from the Association of Latin American Students' faculty advisor. Here is his message:
Thanks for sharing your feelings about "el Che." Unfortunately like many people who grew up in the 60s in Latin America I happens to have a different perception of what is his real impact in the history of Latin American as well as his impact on Cuba's political development. I guess that perception comes from experiencing what was going on in the 60s and not reading it from books. He certainly was a dreamer and as a dreamer he looked for the realization of his dreams. If you think that he was mistaken, fine, he was, however, he is one who had the courage to stand up and state what he felt. He provided a good reason for a lot of young people to stand up and demand better living conditions for the masses. Regarding your statement about the Cuba Gulag, I am not so sure about it. His philosophy was that everybody needed to be a real revolutionary, therefore, not expecting benefits but pursuing the idea of promoting the revolucionario real. That is the reason why he had to leave Cuba and went to Bolivia where he was killed by the bolivian sargeant under the directives of the CIA. I understand that his memory awakens a lot of passion but regardless of many people think, el che was indeed an icon in Latin American political history and has a well regarded place in history.

Well, hm. At first, I wanted to say, "Oh, what a tempered, intelligent response." Then I thought about it for a while. His answer basically comes down to, "I don't want to think about the facts regarding this man's life. I'd rather focus on the romantic memory of him." I think this is especially obvious from his statement about preferring to focus on "what was going on in the 60s" rather than on books, and his complete dismissal of the issue of the Cuban gulag.

The last part really baffles me. If this man helped establish the Cuban gulag (as I keep reading that he did), then wouldn't that be recorded history? If it's recorded history, how can this cult of his simply dismiss it in favor of the more heroic image of him?

I'm not sure if I'll respond to this message. Far be it for me to back down from a fight, but I must consider if it will be worth the time.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Iraqis Thank America

Remember all those anti-US demonstrations put on by Al-Sadr last week? The ones the media really talked about big time?

Turns out that perception might not have been so accurate. At least, not according to this Powerline contributor (see link).

Gee, imagine that: These people would actually be grateful that US troops saved them from Saddam, currently protect them from terrorists, and don't want to end up under the heel of another dictator. Go figure.

Che Guevara and ALAS-ISU

The Association of Latin American Students here at Illinois State University have been advertising their upcoming formal. Unfortunately, I have seen their flyers around campus. The flyers are huge pictures of Che Guevara with information about the event printed over him.
The decision on the part of students in the ALAS to represent themselves with this man, of all people, surprises me. His legacy is an horrible atrocity against the Cuban people, amongst others. Why would they lionize someone who oppressed other Latin Americans?

In the interest of seeking understanding, and perhaps spreading a bit of knowledge if it came to it, I emailed the provided email address from the ALAS flyers. (If you know me, you know this was a rather bold move) This is the message I sent:
To whom it may concern:

I ask a question of curiosity: Why has the Association of Latin American Students chosen to put the face of Che Guevara on their flyers advertising an association event? I would sincerely seek to know the reasoning behind this, and thank you for the given response.

Well, this is the response I received:

there are many reasons...first he is well known (not just the latino community) he fits with the theme of latinos on campus wanting to make a change through justly ways and he showed how a change can be made by intelluctual change instead of violent change
Very interesting. Tonight, I emailed a reply to this individual, and this time I made sure the email was also sent to the president of the ALAS and to their faculty advisor. The message:
That is a very strange answer. I've done a little bit of reading about Che Guevara, and his legacy seems to be one of violent change.

He was instrumental to setting up the communist government in Cuba which continues to deny many basic human rights to its own people. He was responsible for establishing the "labor-camp" system, a veritable Cuban gulag. He killed many, many people, a great deal whom their only crime was to not support the communist revolution.

Given his "radical" history, and the pain he inflicted on the Cuban people, why would the ALAS want to represent themselves with his image?

I'm looking very forward to hearing their responses. I'll be sure to keep you updated as to the development of this situation.

Also, here are a few resources concerning Che's bloody history:
The Cult of Che - Don't Applaud the Motorcycle Diaries
Che Chic: It's Tres Disgusting

Wow, I received a response much faster than I expected. This is from the individual who first emailed me:
Che's legacy is more than his doing in Cuba. His youthful years as a doctor in training showed that. You can read about that (or also watch Motorcycle Diaries). Then the setting of the Communist government in Cuba can be side from the flip side of the coin.

I was once in Cuba with my family from Mexico i remember a lady telling me:"sure communism looks bad, but is it really, if we get a democracy....i want that government to provide free medical care that castro provides us, i want my kids education to continue being free......"

also, Cuba has the highest literacy rate in the Americas........

these things are some thoughts to ponder about................

was Che instrumental with that or only the bad human right violations......there is one thing to realize when looking at Cuba: the different between Fidel's Cuba and Che's vision before he was assasinated.

***i am in no way communist......but i like to see the whole picture before just focusing on one topic.

He was instrumental to setting up the communist government in Cuba which continues to deny many basic human rights to its own people. (current, not Che)

given his "radical" history, and the pain he inflicted on the Cuban people, why would the ALAS want to represent themselves with his image (latin american history can be radical and we cant deny that.....we cant forget the past, this way it doesnt repeat itself, radical with the wrongdoind of the Spainish conquest and murder of indigenous people, radical with american wrongdoing and exploitation of latin america.......malcom X was radical, can african americans not identify with him)

Wow. There is so much wrong with that. I shall have to get to the rest of it at a later date. In the meantime, I have a chemistry term paper to write (ugh, the conflict of science and politics continues).

Chinese textbooks just as bad?

Lest we forget, China has many dirty little secrets of its own. There may be some "unrest" about what Japanese textbooks are saying, but Chinese textbooks don't really mention anything about the crackdown on democracy demonstrations, or any of the other various human rights violations it has committed against its people since the communist government came to power. Goodness, you can't even find information that is critical of the government if you do a Google search in China!
While Japan's distortions of its history appear driven by a reluctance to accept shame, China's are aimed at preserving communist rule, said Sin-ming Shaw, a China scholar at Oxford University in England.

Motivation is everything, I suppose.

A little history lesson re: China, Japan

Just in case anyone thought I might be ignorant of such proceedings.

On Blogger errors

So, if you visited the site anytime between mid-afternoon and early evening, you would have seen about 6 posts of the same thing. Silly, silly Blogger.

I've been trying to post my term paper from last semester which made the case for eliminating pornography. Unfortunately, I'm having trouble posting the HTML of the paper. If I do so otherwise, I lose all the formatting, which means losing all of my footnotes (a rather integral part of the paper). Blogger doesn't seem to like much of MS Word's HTML.

I'm waiting for Blogger Help to get back to me on the issue. As soon as possible, I'll have that paper up and running.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

China refuses to apologize to Japan

So, China has apparently refused to apologize to Japan for its role in the "demonstrations" that have been taking place lately.
"The Chinese government has never done anything that wronged the Japanese people," Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing told his visiting Japanese counterpart as China allowed new demonstrations in at least six cities.
Yeah, okay. Hey, since when have the Chinese people had free speech? The right to assemble and hold protests? Oh yeah, since never. The Chinese government doesn't allow such things, lest we forget incidents such as the Tiananmen Square massacre. The Chinese government has to have some hand in this, because they wouldn't allow it to happen otherwise. And let's face it: The authorities sitting idly by while mobs destroy stores, restaurants, cars, and windows of the consulate constitute a "wrong," I would think.

Personally, this entire affair makes me nervous. Especially the gas exploration in the sea between China and Japan. China is attempting to be aggressive, and will probably not back down in this affair. Japan will want to save face, and honor is important in their culture. This could go from bad to worse very quickly if both countries aren't willing to come to an agreement. Unfortunately, I foresee this as being a game of chicken, and Japan will back down first under pressure from the UN. We'll see if my crystal ball is working.

Saturday, April 16, 2005

Chinese "Protesters"

Some of these writers are just never going to get it.

Thousands of people take to the streets in major cities in China. They throw rocks at windows of the Japanese consulate, overturning cars, destroying Japanese shops and restaurants, and the AP has the audacity to refer to these as protesters? Demonstrators? Newsflash! That is a R-I-O-T. There is no other sufficient word to describe it!

In any case, it's the oldest political trick in the book. Rather than let the people become upset with the state of affairs in their own country, take time to get upset about the atrocities their own government is committing against them, the communist government in China instead foments unrest amongst the people regarding supposed "insults" and encroachments against their country by someone else. In this case, it's Japan. Typically, it's the US, but Japan must've made itself a convenient target this time around.

I seriously hope the Chinese people see past this ruse and come to realize the ruthlessness of the government they live under.

Friday, April 15, 2005

Y'know, I think this is important to them

As some of you can probably tell, based on the links I typically post, I have several medium and big name conservative blogs that I regularly read. They are, in no particular order, Powerline, Hugh Hewitt, Slublog, Captain's Quarters, and TKS. The last few weeks have seen a flurry of activity over the entire issue of judicial filibusters and the "nuclear option" of changing the voting rules. However, in the last two days, there has been an even greater whirlwind of activity. Let me point out the current number of posts (on either 4/14 or 4/15) each of my favorite blogs here has on the issue:

Hugh Hewitt: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
TKS: 1
Slublog: 1 2 3 4
Captain's Quarters 1 2 3
Powerline: 1

My surprise at Powerline's silence on the issue (Update: Nevermind) in the last few days aside, that is a lot of posting from people that the GOP would ordinarly consider the "base." The dawdling of Republican leadership on this issue is really starting to tick off some of its most loyal supporters, and now it looks like they're scrambling, trying to catch up to the Democrats' media campaigning on the issue. Sorry guys, you shouldn't have hesitated in the first place. Those Democrats, they can smell fear. You gave pause and they went for the throat. I'm not sure what you have to do to get out of the mess you've made for yourselves, but it's gonna be big.

By the way, I'll be updating this entry as the day goes on, in case anybody decides to post more about the issue.

So, now that the two previous days are over, we can get the whole picture. Hugh Hewitt was the most prolific writer on the subject, composing seven total posts on the subject of the judicial filibusters. This doesn't surprise me; his background is constitutional law. But in total, in just two days, only these five bloggers wrote a total of sixteen posts on the subject. And that's just the five of them! I can't imagine how many other conservative bloggers out there have been covering this. Attention GOP senators: This is important to your voters!

The whole world just seems to hate us, y'know?

At least, that's what some of the pundits would like you to believe. But then I read things like these:

Karzai Seeks US Strategic Links

Rumsfeld Assured US Won't Lose Kyrgyz Base

You could interpret this in one of two ways: Either, the rest of the world is scared of us and is just trying to maintain military ties to keep us from bombing the snot out of them, or they actually see eye-to-eye with our policies and goals in the world and would like to work alongside us, maintaining a partnership.

Of course, if you've obtained your Left-wing moonbat membership card, then you have to accept the former as gospel truth. Sorry, them's the breaks.

In any case, it's good to know that there are allies in the world who are willing to work with us and actually want us around to help out. It speaks good things about the future of those regions.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

They say all that TV is bad for you

Ahh, sorry it's been such a light blogging week, folks. I had three tests earlier today, and the preparation was killing me. Thank goodness graduation is in four weeks. After I'm done with finals, I'll be blogging freely all summer. Then it's off to grad school at Northwestern!

Anyhoo . . .

So, I like MEMRI. For those of you who don't know, MEMRI is the Middle East Media Research Institute. They provide the phenomenal service of translating the various media that come out of the middle east. Newspaper articles, speeches, television programs, etc. Whatever happens to catch their interest. I get regular email updates when they add something new to their website. So, I was quite curious when one of the most recent offerings came down the pipe.

Apparently they've had this television drama playing for a while in Iran about this father and son. The father, a truck driver, apparently becomes inspired by the insurgents fighting in Iraq during the original Iran-Iraq war (season 1). In the present season 2, the father and son are running medicine from Iran over to Iraq.

Anyhow, the following is translated excerpts from the program. It's long so I'll comment now. I know it's just a TV drama, but if public opinions are even slightly reflected in this program, we're losing a war of propaganda. Badly. Also, how do the characters know who Bin Laden is, but not what Al Qaeda is? That's weird.

Without further ado . . .

American Officer Interrogates and Arrests Innocent Iranians

During this episode, the three Iranians are delivering medicine to Iraq, they are arrested by American forces, and interrogated. The following are excerpts from the

Taqi: The breaks aren't working.

'Ezzat: What do you say, boss?

Taqi: It won't stop.

Javad: Father, be careful.

Taqi: Truck, I beg you to stop.

'Ezzat: Come on, Boss, stop.

Taqi: I want to stop, but it won't.

'Ezzat: Oh my God. Boss, they are chasing us.

Taqi: Truck, I beg you to stop. Truck!

American Soldier: Stop!

American Officer: Right, I'm coming.

American soldier: What do I should with them, sir?

American Officer: A good Iraqi is a dead one, got it?

American Soldier: Yes, sir.

American Officer: Ask them what they're doing here.

Interpreter: This gentleman is asking what you are doing here.

Taqi: I don't want to argue with them. 'Ezzat, you talk to them.

'Ezzat: Alright, Boss. By God, we've brought medicine to help the Iraqis.

Interpreter: God knows we have brought medicine here just to help Iraqis.

American Officer: You think I'm crazy?

Interpreter: He says: "Do you think I'm crazy?!"

Taqi: Tell him: If you weren't crazy, you wouldn't have left your country and have come to a foreign country as an occupier.

Javad: No, brother, don't tell him. He will go berserk. Tell him that he said: "God

American Officer: What did he say?

Interpreter: He says: "What did he say?"

'Ezzat: Come on, don't tell him.

Interpreter: Don't worry.

'Ezzat: I love you.

American Officer: What did he say?

Interpreter: Nothing.

American Officer: You're the boss, right?

Interpreter: He says: "Are you their boss?"

Taqi: What is a boss?! This is my son Javad, and this is my apprentice, 'Ezzat. All we did was to bring medicine into Iraq.

Interpreter: This one is his son Javad, his friend. "We have just brought medicine here, this is all."

American Officer: Don't lie to me.

Interpreter: He says: "You are lying to me."

Taqi: I swear by all the prophets and the men of honor - We only brought medicine. Then we wanted to go on a pilgrimage to Karbala and Najaf. Is this a problem?

Interpreter: He says: "We have come to Iraq for pilgrimage."

American Officer: OK. You know bin Laden?

Interpreter: He says: "Do you know bin Laden?"

Taqi: Yes, he's my cousin. Come on, this guy is out of his mind.

'Ezzat: Boss, for the life of Javad, calm down. They'll turn us into smoke like this cigar.

Taqi: They wouldn't dare. I'm saying for the last time, my name is Taqi the pious. If you think we collaborated with the Taliban and bin Laden, whom you yourself nurtured, then you are badly mistaken. I'm telling you for the last time, if you don't let us go, I'll make you cry for your god.

'Ezzat: Please, translate only the first part, then tell him: We are you servants. I swear in the name of Jesus Christ - of course, they don't understand anything about prophets. I swear on the grave of Bush's father that we are not who you think.

Interpreter: He says: "Sir, we are not what you think.

American Officer: Keep them in jail for now. I'll talk to them later.

'Ezzat: Great. It's settled. We can go now, right?

Interpreter: No, he says that you must stay in prison for the time being. But Mr. Taqi, stay calm. I'm grateful to you for helping my country. After all, you know that the Americans, these Yankees, don't have any sense.

Taqi: With such people, who have no sense, one must speak the way I did.

The Iranians Are Framed by the Americans and the Arrest is Reported on CNN
In another episode, the three Iranians arrested by the American forces are framed and their arrest is broadcast by CNN. The following are excerpts:

Richard Quest: Iranians have been strongly against establishing democracy in Iraq, they resort [to] anything to shove the country into instability. Recent reports from Iraq reveal that three Iranian nationals named as Taqi, Javad, and 'Ezzat, who were linked to Al-Qa'ida terrorist group, produced clashes and unrest in Iraq based on a premeditated plan. The three, headed by Taqi, a "top-shot" in Al-Qa'ida, crossed into Iraq illegally and had in mind to blow up an important U.S. base in the country. The
group was after upsetting order in various regions in Najaf and Karbala. Preliminary investigation from Taqi showed he was inspired by vengeance toward U.S. forces. He said resistance against U.S. forces will continue.

Taqi's wife: What is he saying?

Taqi's Daughter: Wait a minute, Mother.

Richard Quest: ...of American troops from Iraq...

Taqi's Wife: You're killing me. Tell me what he's saying.

Taqi's Daughter: I didn't understand everything. But from what I understood, he says the Americans have arrested Father and the boys as Al-Qa'ida forces.

Taqi's Wife: Good God, what is Al-Qa'ida?

Taqi's Daughter: How should I put it... that Father and the boys are terrorists.

Taqi's Wife: Terrorists?! How dare he say your father and the boys are terrorists? He's a terrorist, and his father, and grandfather too. I'll report him to the police. I'll tear him to pieces. What is this? Can they do whatever they feel like?

Taqi's Daughter: Mother, what does this have to do with the police?

Taqi's Wife: I'll go and complain to anybody in charge.

Taqi's Daughter: Mother, calm down, let me hear what he's saying.

David Channer: Hello, I'm David Channer, reporting from CNN in the U.S. headquarters in Iraq. Today three members of Al-Qa'ida carried a truck of weapons into Iraq illegally.

Taqi's Daughter: Were Father and the boys supposed to take weapons to Iraq?

Taqi's Wife: No, they were only carrying medicine.

Taqi's Daughter: This guy says that Father and the boys took weapons into Iraq, and that they are therefore members of Al-Qa'ida.

American Officer: Our forces arrested three members of Al-Qa'ida after they attacked one of the U.S. headquarters in Iraq.

David Channer: Thank you, sir. The incident will be fully covered in the upcoming news. This is David Channer, CNN, Iraq.

Taqi's Wife: So your father lied to us? I sensed there was something fishy about this

Taqi's Daughter: I don't think Father lied.

Taqi's Wife: So where have all those weapons come from?

Taqi's Daughter: Mother, they probably framed them. This is what the Americans always do.

Taqi's Wife: So will they take them to jail?

Taqi's Daughter: I don't know, Mother, we should ask them.

Next Scene
American Officer: What about the three guys? Is their questioning over?

Interpreter: Not yet, sir.

American Officer: If they got nothing to say, send them to Abu Ghureib prison. There they have to talk for sure.

Interpreter: It's not safe around Abu Ghureib now.

American Officer: What do you mean?

Interpreter: The rebels have ... surrounded the prison.

American Officer: Alright. Use backup forces.

Interpreter: Give me two days. I will get the information you want.

American Officer: Uh-uh, two days is too much. Send them to Abu Ghureib if
they don't confess till tomorrow.

Interpreter: Do you want to lose the honor [of] arresting them by sending them to Abu Ghureib?

American Officer: You're right! So try to get more information out of them.

Interpreter: Yes, sir, don't worry.

American Officer: You got a good future.

Interpreter: Thank you, sir.

American Officer: Tea or coffee, my friend?

Interpreter: Tea, please.

American Soldier: Yes, sir.

Next Scene
American Officer: Can I have a look at the list of POWs?

Red Cross Official: Sure, here you are.

American Officer: You, the Red Cross forces, take everything too seriously.

Red Cross Official: We are just doing our job.

American Officer: OK. So you shouldn't get upset if I do my own job too.

Red Cross Official: I don't know what you mean.

American Officer: Hold on a minute. This is the real list.

Red Cross Official: Your hostility with Iranians seems endless, doesn't it?

American Officer: Sort of. We gave Saddam the honor of destroying Iranians, but that jerk couldn't make it.

Red Cross Official: He not only failed, but he's also your prisoner now.

American Officer: A bad politician is a dead one, isn't he?

Red Cross Official: You mean Saddam?

American Officer: Saddam and his cronies [had] better die. Perhaps this is true of
Saddam, but you think you can destroy Iranians by crossing their names out?

American Officer: When a name is crossed out, it means there's no name. You
know what I mean?

Red Cross Official: Definitely. I do know what you mean.

American Officer: Great. Would you like more coffee?

Red Cross Official: With sugar, please.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

If you were looking for a definition of "evil"

So, apparently some boys at this high school in Ohio forced a girl with mental disabilities to perform oral sex on them, in an auditorium, while others watched. The principle cautioned the father not to call 911 for fear of media attention. He very rightly called the police.

So far, the principle has been fired, and four boys have been suspended from school. I don't know if anybody else is going to be punished, but I do sincerely hope that all of those responsible are swiftly brought to justice, and all of the administration that made their own fate, rather than justice for that poor girl, their primary concern receive due punishment as well.

Some members of the philosophy club here think there is no such thing as evil. I hear about events like this and wonder how they can reach such a conclusion.

According to a longer version of the same article (sorry, I can't provide a link; it's registration required) from the Chicago Tribune, the administrators reviewed the tape and determined that the sex was "consensual." Excuse me? Since when does consensual oral sex cause a person to bleed from the mouth? What would incline a special education student to fellate two students while several others watched? On what aspects of the tape did they base this conclusion?

Urgh. I'm not inclined to believe those administrators. This seems like another incidence of "blame the victim." But perhaps they'll offer some sort of justification, and we'll see.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

On Andrea Dworkin and other news

Welcome readers. My apologies for the lack of posting today. Normally, Tuesdays are a very prolific day for me, but I felt a bit ill this afternoon and skipped a few classes in favor of sleep. Posting will be unpredictable this week. Just stay tuned.

Andrea Dworkin, an infamous feminist, died this week. Ordinarily, I might not know who this person was (I tend not to read much literature from extreme left feminists), but her work came to light after I wrote my term paper for my ethics course on pornography.

Her position on pornography produces one of the few agreements I would ever have had with her. Her concern for the plight that pornography put on women was noble, and the treatment she gave of the connection between civil/equal rights and the effects of pornography were creative and thought-provoking. Unfortunately, past that, we wouldn't have seen eye to eye. While her writings never quite equated all heterosexual sex as rape, it came pretty darn close. All male sexual expression, at least, was an act of violence, a means of creating submission in women. Too much of her position required an extremely low view of men. Don't get me wrong: Pornography is horribly subversive and damaging. But as she views the problem, it goes beyond pornography; everything that is male is, by nature, anti-female.

Be that as it may, despite the real lack of substantial results her work seems to have had in the world, the fight against pornography is still worth making. She made a worthy ally in the fight, even if all of her ideas and positions were less than palatable.

Side-note: Perhaps sometime I'll post the text of that term paper on here for digestion. Your thoughts?

Monday, April 11, 2005

Another professor who gets it wrong (redux)

Dr. Jamal Nassar, while having an extraordinary background and being very well learned and accomplished, just doesn't seem to get it when it comes to the happenings in Iraq. Today's article in the Vidette really captured this well (see link).

The text is mainly about him and his brother speaking at a seminar this past week. However, here are some noteworthy quotes:
Jamal Nassar also took time to predict the future of Iraq. "Given the current state of nationalism," he said, "I see Iraq continuing to rebel."He forecasted that the United States will make treaties governing oil before pulling out of the country and that these treaties will become null and void when the government is inevitably overthrown. He then said Iraq will go back to being an enemy of the United States.
Yeah. Dr. Nassar, here's the thing: I know you think the Iraqis don't want us there, and that's by and large true. However, the full truth is that most Iraqis, while not wanting us there, understand that the alternative is far, far worse. They're willing to put up with the American presence until they no longer have to worry about bombs and gunmen showing up and killing them. If the US weren't there, they'd have that to worry about. The only people who are adamantly against the US being there period are the psychotic radicals whose goal is to establish an extremist Islamic state. And as the people of Iraq have shown, they don't want that.

Who will overthrow the current government, Jamal? The people are actually taking hold of their own fate, and the Sunni insurgents are being less and less marginalized, as I've already posted. If this government lasts (and I predict it will, because the people are the ones expressing the power now, not a mad dictator; and I sincerely doubt one will come back, as the people, having gotten their taste of freedom, will not put up with one), it will always be a friend of the United States, because they will always remember who freed them from the bootheel of oppression.

Where do they get these people?

Dang. This . . . is . . . sad. The latest "editorial" column by a member of the Daily Vidette staff, and it's awful. Her top 10 favorite foods from restaurants around Bloomington-Normal. Now, don't get me wrong, a lot of the things she's mentioned here are actually quite tasty. My problem is that she has zero imagination. Bloomington-Normal is (supposedly) ranked number one in the country for number of restaurants per capita. That's a lot of restaurants. And yet, of the restaurants she's listed, only three of them are unique to Bloomington-Normal (that I'm aware of). There's a fourth that might be, but it's just another "Australian steak-house" clone, so I don't think it's all that original.

Yeesh. There are some awesome restaurants around here that you won't find anywhere else. Why can't this girl actually have an open mind and go out and try something different?

Ah, just the news I was looking for

So, our good buddy Saddam is cropping up in the news again. Looks like he faces life imprisonment rather than the death penalty. The government would rather make the concession to the old members of the Baath party trying to return to the political process than to see him come to justice.

Here is the original article.

Myself, I'm torn on this decision. Getting those old members of the former government (at least, those that were not despicable war criminals) into the process is probably best in the long run, in order to avoid any sort of civil war. That the government do what it can to get them out of the insurgency and into the congress is probably not a bad idea.

However, Saddam was a bad guy. If there's anybody in the world who deserves to die, it is him. If there is to be any parity in the way death penalty laws are applied, surely Saddam, of all people, should be one to die. At the same time, the Kurds and Shiites who suffered under Saddam may possibly get pissed at his being allowed to live. Understandable, given what they suffered under him. Is it worth it to majorly tick off the majority just to appeal to the minority? (Hm . . . a good question to ask when it comes to some American politics)

Right now, I'd say stability of the government and an end to the insurgency are the best interests of the Iraqis. Although a living Saddam is more of a threat than a dead Saddam, the longer he sits in jail, and the more welcome his former puppets feel in a legitimate government, the less affect he can have. I suppose he could always be executed in the future, if they wanted. Of course, it might not be so bad for him to sit in a prison cell a broken, rejected old man, either.

Friday, April 08, 2005

Blogger Issues

Okay, so I've gotten my Blogger issues cleared up. Stupid system. I know I should expect as much, given the price, but it would be nice to not have to worry about this all the time.

In any case, expect some light blogging this weekend. I'll be busy.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Anybody know any statistics?

According to these guys, recently released data shows that the election was stolen for Bush. Unfortunately, I'm not very good at statistical math, so my ability to look at the results of data and calculation is not very good. The authors, though, analyze a study which apparently shows that the election was stolen, yet the study's authors do not reach that conclusion. The authors of the article, though, say that that is the only plausible explanation.

I am a little skeptical, for a variety of reasons. The first is that the authors somehow reach a very different conclusion than the study's authors. Not that that's a smoking gun, but it does seem a little odd. The next is that this seems to require widespread conspiracy and fraud. Surely, if such were the case, we'd be hearing about it happening. Something would have leaked to the media or law enforcement. They just don't pass up opportunities like that. The third is pretty close to the second. Aside from the data, there is no evidence offered for vote fraud and manipulation. That, to me, is the biggest obstabcle to their conclusion. If there is absolutely no evidence that Republicans stole the election, then why are other theories explaining the data implausible? I think that question is incredibly important to answer.

Of course, this is not to deny the possibility that it was stolen. I would be incredibly disappointed in too many ways to count if that were the case.

Yes, let's remember North Korea

Oh, let's not leave Kim hanging. Heaven forbid.

My interpretation of US policy with North Korea in the Bush administration has been that dealing with him ("him" being Kim Jong-Il) is not fruitful. He makes a lot of demands and wants to give nothing in return. He is like a spoiled child in so many ways. In this way, rather than give him the attention he most obviously wants and wasting time, let him wallow in isolation for a while. When he's actually ready to reasonably talk with the international community, then perhaps the US will step in more. Although it's not exactly like this guy has been completely ignored the entire time Bush has held office. And I'm quite positive that, if the situation warranted, the US has plans in reserve for dealing forcefully with North Korea.

As long as we're on the subject, let's not forget the total situation of North Korea. The Chosun Journal is constantly documenting human rights violations by North Korea. They have a record that is just obscene. In light of that, what kind of approach to diplomacy would be appropriate? I'd have trouble shaking hands with someone who I knew to be a unrepentant torturer/murderer.

So, let's not forget North Korea. The regime in power there does not deserve to be molly-coddled the way Clinton/Albright did with them. Their record shows that wholly.

A highly efficient post

Y'know, I recently rediscovered Slate's biotech coverage, and I was struggling over which articles to link to (it makes for a lot of posts). But why choose, when they've linked so many of them in one article? Certainly makes my life easier.

Commentary to follow later. It's been a long day, and I'm gearing up for a big weekend.

Mega-ultra SWEET!

Y'know, actually watching the thing in action makes me think that maybe it still needs work. Mobility seems to be a major issue. I wouldn't feel safe in that. Somebody could just walk right up behind me.

Still, there's a total geek in me that just screams "AW, COOL!!!" when I see that. *Giggle*

Here's another one. I feel a song coming on . . . "I'm a lumberjack, and I'm okay . . ."

Decisions, decisions . . .

If you've been following the news, you know that there's a rather low buzz about who the Presidential candidates will be in 2008. Yeah, it's a long time from now, but looking ahead never hurt. The democratic favorite right now is Hillary Clinton, and there's speculation that John Kerry is positioning himself to run again. Well, the democrats could make worse choices, I suppose, but I'm having a hard time thinking of any.

I've seen four potential republican candidates: Condi Rice, Dick Cheney, George Pataki, and Rudy Giuliani. The former two, current administration members, have both said that they wouldn't run. This makes me wonder why on earth people keep mentioning them in this context, but then again, that's politics for you. The latter two worry me, though. They are both pro-choice republicans.

Let me make this as clear as I can: GOP, if you put a pro-choice candidate in front of the country to be President in 2008, you stand a very, very, very serious chance of alienating the conservative Christian bloc that has helped you win the last several election cycles. Don't be stupid!

You like me! You really like me!

Wow. According to SiteMeter, I've received 125 visits to the site so far this week, which is 150% of what I had last week. And the jump seems to be in large part due to an incredible rush of almost 50 visits on Tuesday.

I don't know where all of you readers are coming from, but welcome! I hope you enjoy the blog, and please keep coming back! (And please leave comments! I love comments!)

Ah, more fossils

CNN has the story too.

I'm very curious about how a lot of this science takes place. First, it says that the skull, and the teeth were found in "the same geographical location." What does that even mean? Where they found right next to each other? Ten feet apart? Ten miles? I mean, goodness, if they weren't right next to each other, how can they even be sure the teeth and skull belong together?

Next, they seem to make (and I say seem because what actually takes place and what is said in the article can often differ greatly) the connection between things appearing similar and their evolutionary connection. Now, I can understand this in some part. If two things are built similarly, then it makes perfect sense to say that they may have had similar purposes. I mean, if it looks like a duck . . . but an evolutionary connection? I have a hard time making the leap from "This skull looks similar to a human skull" to "This skull belonged to a human's evolutionary predecessor." Is there no room for things just looking similar? Ignoring all other alternative theories to evolution, if you were giving a dissenting voice to evolutionary theory, wouldn't your first question be, "Why does two things looking similar mean they are necessarily linked? Why can't it be a coincidence?"

Why indeed. Some of these scientists are just willing to go too far with only half a skull and a few questionable teeth.

Oh, him again?

I'm not sure what Saddam has to do with the rise of democracy in Iraq, but all of this progress is very promising, and very good. Anyone who tells you that Iraq is doing anything but thriving as its new government continues to grow and mature is lying to you.

Incidentally, I'm wondering what the status of Saddam's trial is. When will that conclude, and what will be his fate? Or has it already concluded? He kinda fell off the radar after a little while . . .

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

They have a drug for this?

I'm not against medical advances. Don't get me wrong.

But it seems like we're having more and more drugs that are coming out to simply eliminate the need for personal responsibility. There's no room for growth, no room for character development, no room for personal improvement . .. just instant satisfaction. Dependent on something? There's a drug to cure you of that. Overweight? We have a pill to make you skinny overnight. Need to be smarter? We've got pills that will help you avoid any studying ever again!

*Sigh*. I suppose it's only going to get worse before it gets better.

Peer review problem?

So, I find this article very interesting.

It highlights the problems with peer-reviewed scientific research and some of the possible alternatives. I can see the problem with some sciences, such as medicine, environmental science, or some areas of biology. You get a lot of work that comes down the line that doesn't reach the right conclusion from the data, attempts to draw conclusions too strongly from the data, doesn't have enough data, or is simply shoddy work. But sometimes it gets through. I'm sure there's any number of reasons it happens, but it does.

In my mind, a big problem is also with the sciences that are ideologically charged (such as evolutionary biology or environmental science). There, it is entirely a matter of who you're sending your paper to that will determine who likes it. The problem with such is that often scientists are punished for breaking orthodoxy and thinking outside the box. If a study doesn't mesh with the previous theories or position, then the data must be faulty or the conclusion wrong, but the theory never needs to be altered. It's a bad problem.

Although, I dont' see it as being a problem in my own area, chemistry. There aren't too many ideological issues at stake there (well, talk to Einstein about that . . . apparently quantum physics can get pretty ideological). The problem of quality still exists there, though.

And therein lies the rub. If peer review isn't cutting the mustard, I'd be all for finding an alternative, something that works better. But I haven't heard any good ideas. Getting other scientists to examine research methodology and results seems to be the best method we have at the moment. Perhaps it doesn't have to be universally replaced. In some areas of biology or chemistry, replication of work is easy enough that peer review probably should take place. But with medicine or environmental science? Some things can't be repeated.

What kind of alternative is there?

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

They want me to do WHAT with my cousin?

Apparently research is showing that first cousins reproducing have only a minimal increase in the incidence of birth defects.

Um . . . so, is it okay if I don't want to marry my cousins for other reasons?

Simply marvelous

Hugh Hewitt has a wonderful post right now about the stakes in the upcoming election of the new Pope. I think he has it pretty much together. The world is watching, and God's timing, mysterious as it is, is very, very important.

The thing I've never gotten is the backlash against the thought of an American Pope. Everybody says that it would never happen because it's too political. I'd always kinda thought that it wasn't really about politics wtih the Pope. His allegiance is (supposed) to be for God and God alone, so why would it matter what country he came from? Heck, you want to threaten someone politically, choose a Chinese Pope. I'm sure they'd just love that in Beijing.

Here's a link to a story about the AP poll regarding what Americans want to see in the next Pope. I guess I can see why an American Pope might not be the most popular of ideas. (HT: Slublog)

Incidentally, if the next Pope were to reverse previous Catholic Church teachings on matters such as homosexuality, abortion, etc., it would completely invalidate everything they have said in the past about Papal infallibility (Humanae Vitae is often pointed out as an infallible teaching), the unchanging nature of Church doctrine, or that their commands come from God. I mean, I disagree with a lot of Catholic theology, but doctrines that directly contradict scripture? That'd take one heck of a Pope.

This again?

Jeez. I can't believe the whining of some people. "Oh no, please don't use red ink on little Johnny's papers. It's too stressful for him to get a paper back covered in red ink! Use blue or purple . . . something that will help him to feel good about himself!"

Um, hello? I'd think that the actual grade, the actual amount of writing on the assignment would have more effect on self-esteem than the color of the pen the teacher uses to freaking grade it!

Some parents just have too much time on their hands. Maybe they'd be better off actually helping their children with their assignments rather than complaining about pen colors. Then the kids might improve their self-esteem, eh?

Somebody deserves to be smote

Please, merciful Father, let it be BLOGGER.

I spent over an hour working on the post "Another pastor who doesn't get it," responding to a sermon written by a UCC pastor, only to look at my blog this evening and find that Blogger somehow managed to accept the post while denying all of its contents. Very frustrating.

I'll try to find time to rewrite the post. In the meantime, read the sermon and see for yourself why this guy doesn't get it.

And if some lightning bolt from heaven should strike down Blogger headquarters somewhere, I'll daresay they deserved it.

Note: I don't really mean that, but I sure am frustrated right now.

Monday, April 04, 2005

Another pastor who doesn't get it

I'm more popular than ever!

According to my SiteMeter counter (that little rainbow colored link in the sidebar), I've received quite the boost in readership this past week:

-- Site Summary---


Total .......................... 337
Average per Day ................. 11
Average Visit Length .......... 1:04
This Week ....................... 76

Page Views
Total .......................... 536
Average per Day ................. 17
Average per Visit .............. 1.5
This Week ...................... 117

Well . . . cool!

And a long night

Today was a long night, too.

Had a little meeting with the leadership of my campus ministry tonight. We were talking about evangelism strategies for next year (as spurred on by the conference this weekend).

I'm a little frustrated. Partly so because it felt like we were talking more about evangelism to our ministry than evangelism to Jesus Christ. But mostly because we spent the time talking about how important it is that we gather together and purposefully pray for our lost friends, yet talking about how we're too busy to do so.

I'm not sure what frustrates me more, the sheer lameness and utter sadness of such a situation, or the fact that I see it mirrored in my own personal life. "Prayer and scripture are important, Lord, but I'm too busy playing video games to devote myself to them. Sorry."

What an obnoxious hypocrite I am. Lord, have mercy on me.

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Loooooooooooong weekend

No, really. Did I mention it was long?

Well, in case you locked yourself in a cave this weekend, Pope John Paul II died. Watching it unfold was interesting. They've been playing lots and lots of those "The Legacy of X" segments on the news channels, where they sum up a person's lifetime achievements in 5-15 minutes. It makes me wonder what they'd say about me when my life ends. Hmmm . . .

I've never been a big fan of the Catholic Church, but I still feel the loss of the leader of the world's largest Christian denomination. The big question at this point becomes, who will be the next pope? I think it's a good question, and the decision will powerfully affect world events, so prayer from all Christians about it couldn't be a bad thing.

So, the other big development in the weekend was BCM spring conference. For those unfamiliar with the concept, IBSA (Illinois State Baptist Association, the Illinois branch of the Southern Baptist Church) hosts a conference each fall and spring semester for college students. It is open to anyone, but the main attendees are the students of the statewide baptist ministries on college campuses (Baptist Collegiate Ministries, Baptist Student Ministries, Baptist Student Unions, etc.). Spring conference typically deals with evangelism, missions, and outreach, particularly because it is a time of preparation for those students going out on worldwide mission teams this summer. This year, there are teams heading out to Azerbaijan, Cuba[!], Lebanon[!!!], Poland, and Bulgaria.

The main speaker this year was a man named Mark Coppenger. He spoke a lot about the important qualities of a Christian, both as a disciple and as a missionary (at home and abroad). Overall, I enjoyed his messages. They were informative and encouraging without being sappy, overplayed, or full of pop-Christian, half-scriptural cliches. As time permits this week, I'll post some more of the content of his messages.

The weekend gave me some time to think, however, about the state of my own evangelistic outlook and my own attempts at reaching a lost world. If I consider it so important, if I think it so necessary for someone to know Jesus Christ as lord in order to spend an eternity in heaven, as compared to an eternity in hell, then why do I share that with others so rarely? Am I ashamed of the gospel, or just lazy? Neither is a positive indictment.

Let me, therefore, take this moment to clarify the matter. I began this blog with a few purposes in mind. I really enjoy writing about politics, news, and other cultural happenings, and I thought that putting my Christian perspective on things out there could be a positive contribution. But as a Christian, I also have an obligation and a privelege (a strange and beautiful combination) to share that gospel of Christ with the world. And this is more "world" than I could possibly ask for.

So let me spell it out for you, then. I'm a Christian: I believe that man is stuck in a predicament. We all want to go to heaven, but nobody wants to do the work to get there. And what work it would have to be! There is so much wickedness in all of us. No matter who you are, it still creeps out from behind the edges of self-righteousness when you least suspect it. God, in all his wisdom, knows it. And in our most honest moments, we know it too: We can never do anything good enough to merit heaven. But God loves us so much, he provided way! He sent his son to earth to die for our sins so that we might share in his righteousness. It is an open deal, available to those who believe and are willing to turn from their sins. Without the atoning sacrifice of Jesus, it is not possible to enter the grace and favor of God.

I believe this with everything I am. You may have seen posts on here before where I've expressed moments of doubt. If I told you they weren't genuine, I'd be lying. But God works with me through the doubts, and I've never had to worry about their quick resolution.

If you have any questions, feel free to ask. If you disagree, feel free to say so. But that is what I believe, and I would be remiss if I kept it to myself.

Friday, April 01, 2005

Report from the front lines

Jim Gerraghty over at TKS received an email from a soldier in Iraq about current happenings in the efforts over there (for the full post, follow the link). Here is the relevant text:

I am an optimist, but I am with a great group of Iraqi's. These guys are Shia from Bahgdad and they HATE Wahabists, and Assad in Syria. They are telling me all the time, in their broken English, that George Bush should bomb Syria. Without going into to many details they may have a point.

[Responding to a comment I had made about the Marines stationed in Ankara]

The Marines are a good bunch of guys. We worked with the Marines in Fallujah when I was a platoon leader. We took over their compund just outside near a town called Al Kharma so they could stage for the main invasion. We got mortared two or three times a day everyday, but thank God it was only cheap Soviet made crap. American shells might have done us some harm...

The other day my Iraqi's detained a guy who blew of a few fingers when the device he was building blew up on him. I shouted at him, "YOU ARE A NO GO THIS STATION" and just smiled at him.

What I can tell you now is that the mood of the local people is starting to turn against the insurgents. The mainstream media portrays the Iraqi people as writhing under
the boot heel of the American occupiers, but it reality that is not the case.

The worst we will ever be to these people is an occasional pain in the ass. The terrorists on the other hand, will be far worse and the locals are starting to realize it.

The elections were a big turning point here. The locals are starting to take ownership of their country, and in something that is unheard of in Arab society, they are starting to plan for their future.

Anyway, anything that you can do to help us tell our side of the story is greatly appreciated. The American people deserve to know the truth. This war was just, the majority of the Iraqi's are greatful for what we have done, and the fly paper theory has a ton of validity.

Welcome Slublog readers!

Ah, I see Peter, over at the Slublog, finally got the Carnival going. A warm welcome to his readers that happen to find their way over here. Take a look around, particularly through my archives. You might find my tale of my month in Japan this past summer worth a read.

Schedule and frustrations

Looks like I'll be reposting some earlier posts I'd written this morning. Stupid blogger is at it again, eating everything I write. Grr. I'd switch because of the tendancy to eat posts and the extreme slowness, but I really like the interface and ease of use.

In any case, blogging will be light this weekend. I'm going down to Champana for the BCM spring conference. Lovely. Hopefully, it won't be as lame as it has been in years past.

And now that I'm blogging, I should have an interesting report for you, the readers, late Saturday or anytime on Sunday.

Starvation vs. Dehydration

Here's a question that has occurred to me, and I'm not sure anyone has thought to ask it yet (not that too many people will see it here, but anyhow) . . .

When the advocates for Terri Schiavo's death have talked about her manner of dying, they have made a big deal (see link) about the difference between starving her and dehydrating her. Apparently the former takes about two weeks to kill a person, while the former about three to five days. And everyone has been very adamant that they aren't starving her, they're dehydrating her . . . to death.

Okay, hand on a second. Terri Schiavo lingered for almost two weeks after they pulled her tubes. That's much longer than it should have taken if they were dehydrating her.

What's going on here?