Monday, October 31, 2005

How long, O Lord?

Today I received my second paycheck. Fantastic!

Except I'm supposed to be receiving direct deposit.

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

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


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

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


Friday, October 28, 2005

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Quantum Midterm?

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

Regarding Miers

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Rhetorical Warming

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, October 24, 2005

Spanish Judge Issues Warrant for US Soldiers

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

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

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

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

Friday, October 21, 2005

Long Day

So, I'm sitting in my Kinetics class today, listening to our lecture about potential energy surfaces. The lecture involved our professor showing us a bunch of overhead transparencies, and after a question he mentions that most of the diagrams can be found in our book.

Well, I see one that I thought would be particularly useful for our homework and ask if it is in the book. The guy sitting behind me says, "It's on the cover."

Yeah . . . it's been a long day.

Update: Dahr Jamail

I found out when Dahr Jamail is coming.

Event: Peace Project presents Dahr Jamail
Location: Northwestern University, Evanston Campus. Leverone Hall, Coon Forum Room 2001 Sheridan Road Evanston, IL
Date and Time: Monday, November 7th 7 pm
Information: The event is free and open to the public.

Turns out he's sponsored by "Peace Project," which includes Northwestern Opposing War and Racism (NOWAR . . . very clever), Students for Economic Justice (why they care about this guy is beyond me), and The Protest magazine.

I want to go listen to this, but I've got a bad feeling . . .

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Million Dollar (Cry)Baby

If you hadn't already heard, the NBA has instituted a dress code which demands that players involved in league business (such as press conferences) should be attired in business casual. Some of the players are crying racism.

Go figure.

These guys are payed millions of dollars to play a game. God forbid they should adhere to something that every other working person in America understands, and that is that when you're on the job, you're probably going to have to wear a freaking uniform of some kind. Whether it's a polo shirt at the office or a funny hat at McDonald's, your employer is going to tell you that they control what you are to wear. It's not about denigrating your taste, culture, or ethnicity; it's about presenting a favorable image to the public. That's why a lot of employers refuse to hire people with visible tattoos.

But hey, why quibble over philosophy when I can share the really amazing quotes with you?
"When I saw the part about chains, hip hop and throwback jerseys, I think that's part of our culture," Pierce said. "The NBA is young black males." (Emphasis added)

What a sad statement on two parts. First, that such utterly ridiculous attire is actually considered a "young black male" cultural aspect. Isn't it a sad state that racial affairs have made "black males" such a monolithic culture? There is no "white male culture." It's just too diverse. So why are black males supposed to have this one culture? Makes no sense to me.

But the other is the part about the NBA "is" young black males. Yes, I think we can all see that the NBA seems to have a disproportionate racial employment (boy, if there was ever an example for Affirmative Action to work on, this would be it). But to completely identify the NBA with that one demographic? I think everyone should find that insulting.
"I feel like if they want us to dress a certain way, they should pay for our clothes," he said. "It's just tough, man, knowing that all of a sudden you have to have a dress code out of nowhere. I don't think that's still going to help the image of the league at all."

Oh, you poor things . . . you really do have it rough, don't you? I mean, the puny pittance of millions of dollars each year we pay you professional athletes just doen't cover expenses anymore, does it? And even the tiny bit of extra income you get from plugging sports drinks, attire, and food doesn't help at all. I feel for you. Even after some of your own were busted for living a "debauched" lifestyle, you know that you're the real victims in all of this. Now you have to purchase your own clothing? Those racist monsters! They should know that you can't afford a new suit because of all the horrid expenses you have to keep up with, including your "jewelery." I mean, you could always spent $100 on a suit at JC Penny's, but that would be an even bigger blow to your pride. How can those monsters take away your pride? Have they no shame?

So, NBA whiners stars, I feel for you. You should know you have the full weight of my scorn and ridicule support behind you.

He's Coming (Apparently)

I've been seeing signs around campus talking about the approach of one "Dahr Jamail." Not knowing who this was, but my curiosity aroused by the content of the signs, I hit the internet and looked into him just a bit.

Dahr Jamail, it turns out, is an independent reporter who spent 8 months in Iraq (starting sometime around the siege of Fallujah last year) telling the "real story" that the corporate media refuses to tell us.

That sounds promising at first, but look around at his website. I didn't do much reading, but only a few minutes of it told me that he's the anti-Michael Yon (and if you haven't checked out Yon's website yet, it is totally a must read). By the "real" story of the Iraq war, what I mean is that he is telling the side of the story where the insurgents are the underdog heroes and the Americans are the baby-killing, slaughtering-the-innocents bad guys.

Now, like I said, I only looked at his website a little. I can't be certain if he's lying, distorting the truth, or only giving a biased account of what he's seeing. I do know that if half of what he's saying is true, then 1) our soldiers are doing horrid things over in Iraq, and 2) the truth really isn't understood through the media. But I'm doubtful of his claims; they directly contradict other eyewitnesses to people who have been there (Yon, for example), including the soldiers who have returned from the thick of it.

He's no Daschle, but such reporting does hurt our troops. I'm curious what he'll have to say when he shows up on campus (and I hope to be there to hear it). I'll try to bring you some of his writings in the interim, provided my schedule allows it.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Who's On First?

So, like I've told you before, I enjoy paging through my SiteMeter data. Partly because I find it interesting, and partly because I'm a stats-junkie.

Anyhow, you wouldn't believe my surprised when I realized that I had a hit from Turkey. But after examining the data, I realized what was happening. The location, the search string, the entry post . . .

I'm on to you, Jimmy. Oh yes . . . I'm on to you.

(All kidding aside, please come back anytime.)

Bishops Apologize for War

Mark Tooley of the Weekly Standard covers a recent document released by bishops of the Anglican Church, in short, condemning the war, the American response to it, the support of evangelical Christians for it, and calls for evangelical Christians to apologize to the Muslim community for it. The full text is here, but honestly, why would you want to read that? It's 100 freaking pages long and full of some of the strangest liberal/"Christian" reasonings you can find.

The entire subject gives me pause, though. My pastor commented to me once that American Christians would have 3 things to answer for before God. I only remember two of them, those being our materialism and our militarism. The latter, being the relevant aspect, causes me to wonder.

To what end should Christians accept war and military action? Should we support it as a governmental tool but deny it personally? There's no easy answer to be found in the scriptures. None of it was ever addressed to governments, and since the writers of the New Testament were writing to people who held no political authority, such concepts simply don't appear. As such, we have to try to interpret the authoritative source (and that always leads to problems).

Jesus speaks of turning the other cheek and loving one's enemies. This would seem to deny any sort of military solution if Christians took this as a governmental mandate. On the other hand, the Bible talks much about seeking justice, helping those who cannot help themselves, and punishing the wicked. It certainly would seem to be in the interests of justice to, say, depose Saddam Hussein. Additionally, it would give the Gospel more opportunity to spread (well, some might debate that point). On the other hand, "Vengeance is mine" sayeth the Lord. Nothing we can do to someone else here on Earth will compare to their true reward when they meet up with the Lord and he says, "Away from me, I never knew you."

It would be unfair to simply wipe our hands of it and say, "Well, it doesn't matter what I think, I don't make such decisions, the government will simply do what it wants, it's an imperfect world so we have to choose the lesser of two evils, etc." The world is different since Paul wrote his letters, and only a small amount of the vast library of human needs and conflicts were addressed in scriptures. Responsibility for Christians is to further develop the theology here, applying what we know already to what today's situations bring us, and attempt to find a God-glorifying path.

The bottom line is simply that I don't have the answers here. I can tell you that I support American military action in the Middle East (for now), but I certainly can't tell you whether or not that's a Godly response. If it isn't, then Christians certainly ought to hold themselves accountable for our support of war. But in the meantime, the Anglican Church would do better to discuss the theology of the issue, rather than act in such a political fashion.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

How I Feel Right Now

I Might Be A Liar

Like you didn't already know.

I may have underestimated how much time I shall have to spend on my homework/grading this weekend. Ridiculous amounts, apparently. Don't be shocked if nothing appears. Since everything and its grandmother is due on Monday, expect some real blogging by then (and I promise I actually do have real things to write about).

Friday, October 14, 2005

Things Not to Say to Students

So, today, I was talking to a professor about our first homework assignment, which I really screwed up badly. When I told him that I had concerns about the first homework assignment, his response was, essentially, "Yeah, I'm worried about your performance on the first assignment. It's indicative of a poor handle on the math, and I foresee you having more trouble in the class as the math gets harder and more complicated."

Let's not forget that I cannot get a grade lower than a B in any of my 7 classes this year. So, the results of my first homework set indicate that I will not "get it" in the rest of the class, thus spelling out my doom for passing the class. By not passing the first class, it doesn't matter how I do in any of the following classes because the school will kick me out in June either way.

I'm three weeks in and I'm already FUBAR. Will doubling down help me at all? My professor didn't seem to think so.

I guess I'll be back in Freeburg flipping burgers by June. What a waste of a good college education.

Blog Down! Blog Down!

If you can read this, good for you! That means that the blogger failure eitherisn't as catastrophic as I seem to think it is, or Blogger has fixed the problem.

Carry on.

Speaking Truth to Power

Hat Tip: Wuzzadem

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

On Time and Blogging

I know my blogging has been sporadic and superficial lately. I've just been so very busy. Curse this first year of graduate school! As much as I did enjoy my first late night session of grading several hundred exams for the chemistry 101 class, I can't wait for some sort of Christmas break.

As far as news and politics goes . . . I don't have much to write about. There just isn't much happening (in the US, at least)! Let's see, what are the big things to talk about right now?

1) 2008 Candidates: I don't like any of the Republican potentials so far. Big stinkin' deal.

2) DeLay's Troubles: Earle appears to be full of crap, as everything he's done so far indicates that he doesn't have anything on DeLay. The only thing really interesting about this is the media coverage of said event (but then I didn't have to tell you that the media coverage was unbalanced, did I?).

3) Harriet Miers: I can't talk about this. I just can't. It is all the biggest conservative bloggers are talking about, and I can't stand it. You go from such crazy extremes with Hugh Hewitt and Dafydd ab Hugh supporting her fervently; to Jim Geraghty, Captain Ed, and the Powerline guys falling somewhere in the middle; to folks like Michelle Malkin declaring their highest criticisms on Bush for this betrayal.

I normally look to the other conservative bloggers to help make up my mind on such matters, but they're like a pack of dogs fighting over scraps of food; there's a whole lot of scuffling over such a little amount of information that we have. I don't know what to think, and I guess it won't really matter since I have zero input on her nomination anyhow. Could we please cool our heads and remember that there are other important things happening in the world?


Blogging of real note will take place this weekend, unless my progress on my two homework assignments due Monday doesn't progress as I hope.


I don't have words to describe this . . .

Tim, just don't get yourself sued, okay? I know he's an idiot, but don't get yourself sued.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Data that isn't relevant

Because I'm a stats-junkie, I like to peruse the Site-Meter data every so often, just to see what brings people to my site. For example, to see what links (if any) they followed to get here or from where in the world they hail from. I chuckle when I see some of the searches that bring people here (lewd searches involving Japanese women seem to bring people to my essays from my study abroad fairly often). I also chuckle when I see the occasional international hit. I can't imagine what the readers from Brazil or India think of my little blog, although I suppose it's a sign of their thoughts that they don't return.

However, the most interesting one to me was one that happened the other day. It caught my eye because it came from Washington DC, but even more interesting was that it originated from the domain of the House of Representatives.

Hm . . . someone in the House stumbled upon my wee blog? They haven't come back, but I just wonder . . . who was it? So very curious . . .

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Krugman on NPR

So, I was listening to NPR today, and I actually heard Paul Krugman debating this professor from Princeton and Heritage Foundation member (I can't recall his name) regarding the government's response to Katrina. (All quotes are my own synopsis of what took place)

The most interesting part was when they were discussing the school vouchers. Apparently, the Bush administration wants to give school vouchers to parents whose school needs to be rebuilt so that their child can attend school elsewhere. Krugman was having a fit that Bush is "slipping in" his ideological agenda through covert means with something that wouldn't fly anywhere else in the country (hogwash in itself). "Oh no, separation of church and State!" seemed to be the mainstay of his argument.

Unfortunately, when pressed to give an alternative solution, Krugman came up way short, sputtering something about just putting them in other public schools. His debate opponent rightfully asked, "Do you really think the standing schools can accept all of these students? Why not spread them out, share them with the private schools?" Krugman's response: "Uh . . . um . . separation of church and state!" Well, more or less. It was really apparent that he either hadn't thought about the issue at all short of his knee-jerk reaction to vouchers (and it's not like they'll be permanent, Paul) or that he was ridiculously outwitted by his opponent.

Ironically, Krugman was in favor of vouchers in every relief situation (housing, business incentives, rebuilding, etc.) except for schools. Once again demonstrating that there is no issue for the left that can't be overcome by petty partisan politics.

I'm a Bit Behind

And these are pretty good, too.

Howard Dean Alert

Ol' Howie's at it again. At least, this time he didn't say anything offensive. No, no, it was more like a Freudian slip:

Chris Matthews: Do you believe that the President can claim executive privilege?

Howard Dean: Well, certainly the president can claim executive privilege - but in this case, I think with a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court, you can't play uh, you know, hide the, the salami, or whatever it's called.

My first reaction: Laughed until I cried.

So that is why Bush nominated Mier, eh?

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Where will Google go next?

Who knows? I just hope it doesn't follow their trend in China . . . filtering out "radical" democracy-advocating websites because the government can't stand criticism over there.

Hey Google . . . do what is right, rather than chasing the almighty dollar, okay?

Monday, October 03, 2005

A Quick Word on Miers

Apparently, President Bush has picked White House Counsel Harriet Miers as the candidate for the Supreme Court.

The reactions, as I've seen them across the conservative blogosphere, have been mixed. Some skepticism, some optimism, some cries of cronyism. Myself? Well, I only know what I read, and I haven't read much about Ms. Miers. Hugh Hewitt's analysis so far gives me some reason to be optimistic.

I remember when Roberts was first announced, and many conservatives were skeptical of him in the beginning. Will that turn around with this candidate? I guess we shall see.