Monday, December 31, 2007
In Defense of Libertarianism
Here are a couple of my favorite paragraphs:
Critics are wrong to trace the origins of libertarianism to Horatio Alger's "pull yourself up by the bootstraps" 19th-century philosophy of rugged individualism, or "social darwinism." Some libertarians call themselves "classical liberals," referring not to hippies of the 1960s, but to centuries-old political thinkers who valued freedom and equality and hated mercantilism and the arbitrary rule of the privileged class.
The true roots of libertarianism lie in the Jewish and Greek ideas of a higher law that governs everyone, even the ruler. Then there were 17th-century thinkers like John Locke and John Milton who defended equality, free speech, and religious tolerance. Activists in the fight against slavery, such as William Lloyd Garrison and Frederick Douglass, also believed in libertarian theories of human rights. So did early defenders of women's rights, such as Sarah Grimke and Mary Wollstonecraft. The Declaration of Independence and the Constitution are libertarian documents based on the view that government is built by the consent of the governed and exists only to protect individual rights. They created and support a system that will - in general - result in higher standards of living for more people than does government intervention.
Ok, people in Iowa and New Hampshire, vote accordingly.
Alzheimer's and Cruise Ships
Denny was diagnosed 3 or 4 years ago, and it's been difficult. He wanders away with things, leaves them in special hiding places, and will sometimes repeatedly make a circular path through the house trying to remember just what it is that he needs to be doing.
My Mother-In-Law has paid our way on vacation cruises once a year, ever since Denny was diagnosed. They want their family to have group holidays as many times as possible before his situation deteriorates any further.
We think each trip will be the last, but every year around September the disease goes into a brief remission - a remission long enough to justify booking tickets on the cruise, anyway. At this point, Denny has had more farewell tours than The Eagles.
Cruise ships work out well for Alzheimer's patients. There's always something going on, and you can't get off the boat and get lost. We got on the ship in San Diego, and went to Cabo, Mazatlan, and Puerto Vallarta. This has been the first trip where Denny really couldn't remember much about what happened the day before.
Denny used to get up and get on with his routine with military precision. On the cruise, he usually took an afternoon nap. When he woke up, he wouldn't know if it was time for dinner or time for breakfast.
This is a man who volunteered for two tours of duty in Viet Nam. His gun is now at my house, for safety's sake.
This is a man who, upon returning home from the war, got a Doctorate in Social Ministries from TCU. I once saw him in a video documentary about helping the homeless. He explained his favorite Bible passage, from the Gospel of John...."When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?" He said to him, "Yes, Lord; you know that I love you." He said to him, "Feed my lambs." So Denny has spent most of his non-military career providing food and clothing for the homeless. But now his wife has to look at menus and order for him.
This is a man who once knew the names and idiosyncracies of more than 500 street people. Today, he can't remember what a "shrimp cocktail" is.
He once acted as advisor to an entire South Vietnamese village. About a year ago, he had to resign from Meals On Wheels because he couldn't find Main Street.
The church has always been important to him. Denny made some promises to God during the Tet Offensive, and he's kept those promises. But he can no longer teach his Sunday School class because he taught the same lesson two weeks in a row.
If there's an upside, it's getting to hear stories about trips he never took. For instance, whenever I bring up trips to China he now "remembers" going to The Great Wall of China as an R&R trip during the Vietnam war. (The Communist Chinese were on the opposite sides of the trenches from us during Vietnam. I don't think this trip happened....) But the story is great. He can see it happening.
The same thing goes for the family's vacation in Panama. Didn't happen. But he's got lots of stories about it.
Denny's not going to live in our world any more. I sometimes enjoy going to live in his.
Sunday, December 30, 2007
Al Gore, Time Magazine's Person of The Year....Almost
Vladimir Putin, a former KGB agent and the current Russian President, was all that stood between Al Gore and Time Magazine's "Person Of The Year" award.
Putin won it. This probably isn't enough to completely atone for Putin's KGB sins and his anti-free market crimes, but it comes close. Because of Putin, Saint Albert, The Goracle of Music City Tennessee, was only first runner-up.
If you need more fun facts about Gore, please read the New Age pap in the Time article. Especially if you have a fierce desire to learn how there can be a Deep Spiritual Side to something that's a total farce.
Please read the Gore interview, and notice Bryan Walsh consistently using the newer, more nebulous panic phrase "Climate Change" rather than previous panic phrase "Global Warming". (Climate Change has been going on for millenia. Climate always Changes. Therefore, Gore's warnings about Climate Change will be validated. But, hhhmmm. that "Global Warming" thing was uncomfortably precise. How can anyone make money off this con job if it gets colder???)
Here's the most important question in that Bryan Walsh asked in his Al Gore interview: "John Doerr, your new partner at the venture-capitalist firm Kleiner Perkins, has said of climate change, 'Sometimes panic is an appropriate response.' How do you remain optimistic?"
I've sounded off before about the Al Gore/Kleiner Perkins relationship. They're paying Gore a fortune. Both parties are about to make Tennesse Mansions-full of money by 1) continuing to panic everyone about the looming
It will be beautiful. I'm no longer asking people to get mad about it. That's like getting angry at the sunrise. I just want to call your attention to it, much like I hope you would call my attention to an eclipse....so we can enjoy watching it happen together.
I'm a little angry at one person, though. Bryan Walsh, who interviewed Gore, apparently asked the John Doerr "Panic is the appropriate response" question without a trace of doubt or cynicism. How in the heck does someone who claims to be a journalist do that? Does he not know that John Doerr will be a jillionaire, if only everyone will co-operate with Gore and panic?
I mean, there Walsh is, interviewing the Front Man For a Pack of Jackals. The Kleiner Perkins/Al Gore group is going to get filthy rich. That's why Kleiner Perkins is giving Saint Al the big bucks. It's not a secret. I didn't read about it in Time, where they pay Bryan Walsh to type, but it was previously in Newsweek, and I'm assuming a few newspapers. But in the Newsweek piece by Tony Dokoupil and David Kaplan, Saint Albert got the same reverent treatment.
What Livestock Auction should I attend to find cooperative journalist-sheep like these? I'm going to start making and selling perpetual motion machines, and need some free publicity.
Sunday, December 23, 2007
Merry Christmas Again, and possibly for the last time, depending on whether I spend $75 for wireless access
The driver was a refugee from Iraq.
He had a copy of the Koran on the dashboard, plus a Haddith (sp?) by the seat.
Wonderful man. He turned off the radio and put in a CD of Christmas Carols for our benefit. He got a kick out of my daughter announcing that she looked forward to beating me at tennis in a foreign country.
We got to the airport, which was a freakin' zoo. Everyone travelling for Christmas and New Years. All that PLUS a higher security level.
Lots of soldiers and sailors in unform.
I spent a lot of time thinking about how many people's lives have been lost, how many lives have been disrupted, and how the economy has been slowed down with security and inspections because a tiny percentage of one of the world's major religions decided that they hated everyone who disagreed with them.
(Had to stop a moment while the plane took off....Read this week's Weekly Standard if you get a chance. There's a wonderful article in there by a P.O.'d ex-Mormon. He's got some good things to say about the ridiculous mess going on between Southern Baptist Huckabee and Mormon Romney in Iowa. Will give the guy a link on this post if I ever get a chance to find it online....)
I'm now in the "Library" of the cruise ship. It's the Princess Dawn, excuse me, The Dawn Princess sailing from San Diego. We're docked across from the U.S.S. Ronald Reagan and the wooden ship that Russell Crowe captained in the "Master And Commander" movie.
Here's another thing: If I were taking this trip prior to 9/11, security wouldn't have been so tight. I KNOW I could've gotten my own liquor onto this boat.
There are people from all over the world on this cruise. I briefly sat at the bar with a man from Jordan and talked with him for a while. Great person, except for the fact that he made his wife (in a traditional head covering) wait for him outside the bar.
If there's a point to this post, it's this: Life is a great thing. People are generally good. If you try to be a nice friendly person, they'll like you. They'll be more likable if you try. We don't need to be issuing Fatwah's against each other, we don't need to assure our team that God Won't Hear The Prayers of People On Their Team. We don't need to invent any more Hells for each other, here or in the next life. (With the exception of the person who wrote the Big Band arrangement of "Let It Snow" that's booming all over this damn boat. He's going to hell.)
Everybody have a great Christmas. Happy New Year. Hannukah. And Kwanzaa.
Saturday, December 22, 2007
How To Argue....Please Read The Last Paragraph First
Click on the link above, read the whole thing, and try to get back to me.
I recently received an email from someone attacking a lengthy scholarly article. The article and its conclusion were controversial. The sender of the email encouraged everyone to read the conclusion first, then read the rest of the article. I repeat, the sender suggested reading the conclusion first.
My assumption is that no one would read the virtually bulletproof argument presented in the paper if they were to read the controversial conclusion first. It was a disagreeable conclusion. I also assume that the sender didn't genuinely want anyone to evaluate the lengthy argument presented in the academic paper; the goal was to point out the various heresies in the conclusion without reference to the preceding argument.
It made me totally nuts.
Friends of mine who received the same email vigorously defended the author/scholar who wrote the controversial paper. They defended the argument made in the article, and defended it well.
(Awwww....I'm lying....they really didn't defend the piece. They defended the author's right to publish his opinions, and they defended their right to like the author and his books. The points made in that article were too radioactive to be openly and honestly discussed by people with reputations to worry about. So I'll get to it one day....)
But no one that I know pointed out the error of encouraging people to read the conclusion without reading the argument first. Especially when the argument is the point.
What does this have to do with former New York City mayor Ed Koch's piece that asks "Does Al Gore Know What He's Talking About?" Well, for starters, my original intent was to post only the last two paragraphs of Koch's argument on this site. Then I would pat myself and Ed Koch on our backs and compliment both of us for sharing the same opinion on Al Gore, i.e. that he's a doofus.
But that does a disservice to Al Gore by enlisting an "authority" argument from Ed Koch, which would encourage people to read only the conclusion from the "authority".
The Argument From Authority is a weak one, whether the Authority in question is Ed Koch, The Pope, Oprah Winfrey, 9 out of 10 Dentists who chew sugarless gum, or the Old Testament Prophet Habbakuk. What is the evidence that Ed, Pope, Oprah or Habbakuk bring to the argument? That's what matters.
Oprah likes Obama, and she's famous. She's an authority on a lot of things. But can she make an argument that Obama is the best choice for President of The United States? And does that argument hold up well? She's probably tried to make the case for Obama somewhere, but I haven't run across it yet. All I find are statements that Oprah has endorsed Obama.
Posting Ed Koch's closing paragraphs also does a slight disservice to Ed Koch, doesn't it? His intent was to provide us with a math problem, where this fact plus this statistic, subtracted from this statement and multiplied by this piece of history, equals Koch's-opinion-on-whether-Gore-knows-what- he's-talking-about. But many of us in the Blogosphere like to post only the factoids we agree with. Or we grab one disagreeable paragraph, do a thorough Fisking, and move on to the next heresy.
I'm going to try to avoid that from now on. Any fiskings will be complete, rather than selecting the most delicious offerings that the buffet of 2008 offers to me.
And you still haven't read the beautiful hatchet job that Ed Koch did on Al Gore, have you?
Friday, December 21, 2007
Merry Christmas, Everybody ! ! !
Now that Charles Dickens is dead, David Sedaris is probably our greatest living Christmas writer. This is an excerpt from a story called "Dinah, The Christmas Whore" in his Holidays On Ice collection. In this story Lisa Sedaris, David's sister, has decided to bring an older female co-worker from The Picadilly Cafeteria home for Christmas. The Picadilly happens to hire a lot of former convicts to bus tables, mop floors, and help in the kitchen. At this point in the story, the Sedaris family has gotten out of bed in the middle of the night to meet Lisa's new friend.
In addition to being funny, I think it's one of the most beautifully written paragraphs I've ever read:
Every gathering has its moment. As an adult, I distract myself by trying to identify it, dreading the inevitable downsizing that is sure to follow. The guests will repeat themselves one too many times, or you'll run out of dope or liquor and realize that it was all you ever had in common. At the time, though, I still believed that such a warm and heady feeling might last forever and that in embracing it fully, I might approximate the same wistful feeling adults found in their second round of drinks. I had hated Lisa, felt jealous of her secret life, and now, over my clotted mug of hot chocolate, I felt for her a great pride. Up and down our street the houses were decorated with plywood angels and mangers framed in colored bulbs. Over on Coronado, someone had lashed speakers to his trees, broadcasting carols over the candy-cane forest he'd planted beside his driveway. Out neighbors would rise early and visit the malls, snatching up gift-wrapped Dustbusters and the pom-pommed socks we used to protect the heads of golf clubs. Christmas would arrive and we, the people of this country, would gather around identical trees, voicing our pleasure with warm cliches. Turkeys would roast to a hard, shellacked finish. Hams would be crosshatched with x's and glazed with fruit - and it was fine by me. Were I to receive a riding vacuum cleaner or even a wizened proboscis monkey, it wouldn't please me half as much as knowing we were the only family in the neighborhood with a prostitute in our kitchen. From this moment on, the phrase "Ho, ho, ho" would take on a whole different meaning; and I , along with the rest of my family, could appreciate it in our own clannish way.
It suddenly occured to me.
Just like that.
Merry Christmas Everyone ! ! ! ! !
An Unspeakable Truth
Found on a blog called "I Can Plainly See"....
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
T.O., Romo, Skybox Ho, Bad Mojo
Various Talk Shows, bloggers, and football fans have accused her of distracting Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo during Sunday's loss to Philadelphia. Their reasoning, as I understand it, goes like this:
1) Jessica Simpson was in one of the Dallas Skyboxes as Romo's guest.
2) TV cameramen filmed Jessica Simpson in the skybox.
3) We could see her. Lotsa times.
4) She distracted fans watching the game on their televisions. (Jessica Simpson could distract the new Pope during his first Easter Mass at St. Peter's.)
5) Tony Romo, by the same logic, could see her too. From 75 yards away. He could pick her out among the 80,000 other people watching the game.
6) Tony Romo didn't play well.
7) He usually plays well.
8) Jessica Simpson must be
I went on to say that Romo is a professional, most players have girlfriends or wives in the stands, etc etc etc.... and that the idea that something like that could distract a Pro Quarterback is the dumbest thing I've ever encountered. (I take that back. I forgot about Farm Subsidies, import quotas, Lou Dobbs, the kid who ran a drill press in reverse for two hours, educational monopolies, John Edwards, The Electoral College System, and the man I saw drive a Massey Ferguson tractor into the Sunflower River.)
This is now the dumbest thing I've ever heard: Here's our beloved Wide Receiver, Terrell Owens on the issue:
T.O. didn't do diddly squat last Sunday, other than get double-teamed for Jason Witten's benefit. T.O. likes to get his name in the paper, but hasn't been a distraction all year. Then the Cowboys had their first full blown media circus/controversy, and Owens wasn't a part of it.
Cowboys wide receiver Terrell Owens is not too happy with Tony Romo's girlfriend Jessica Simpson, who attended the team's loss against the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday. T.O. will also have something to say about Jessica once the playoffs arrive. Romo played his worst game of the season.
"She was hot on my list until last week," Owens said. "I've got a message for her when we make the playoffs. Just stay tuned."
Here's more Owens on Jessica Simpson:
"Right now, Jessica Simpson is not a fan favorite in this locker room or in Texas Stadium," Owens said. "With everything that has happened and the way Tony played and the comparison between her and Carrie Underwood, I think a lot of people feel like she has taken his focus away." (from Rick Herrin with the Fort Worth Star-Telegram)
He couldn't stand it any more.
So the idiot slammed his quarterback's girlfriend.
Cowboys fans, we now have a distraction.
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
Tony Romo and Bad Mojo
I went to the Cowboys vs. Eagles excuse for a football game Sunday afternoon. Cowboys lost 10-6.
For football fans who live under rocks, Tony Romo had Jessica Simpson in the stands. She was in a pink Romo jersey. She got as much face time on TV as Wade Phillips. (If you were running a camera, who would you film?)
After the loss, Cowboy fans were screaming at the sports talk radio hosts that the loss was Jessica's fault. Romo obviously didn't have his head in the game. He had the same problem - a loss - last year when Carrie Underwood was in the stands. All the way home, I listened to talk show hosts and callers dissected the obvious correlation between Hot Women In The Skybox and Tony Overthrowing T.O.
The next morning, the Romo/Simpson jinx was in the paper. Here's a sample of the comments from the online version. Fascinating stuff. It's already made it to Romo's Wikipedia entry.
Ok, let's look at this thing: Tony Romo has been quarterbacking since high school. Maybe earlier. I bet he had some girlfriends in the stands all through high school. Same thing for college.
The NFL gives players a certain number of tickets to every game. A lot of those go to wives and girlfriends. These women, along with their Mama, are also occasionally shown on TV - usually when the husband/boyfriend gets hurt. I'm guessing 50% of the Cowboy players, minimum, had some form of woman in the stands.
Has anyone taken their negative Mojo into consideration for this loss?
Tony Romo didn't think twice about who was in the stands after the first kickoff. He's a professional, fer heaven's sake. Andre Gurode and Chris Canty busting up their knees was a bigger factor than Jessica Simpson. Tony Romo's strained thumb was a bigger factor than Jessica Simpson. And there was another professional team on the field, a team with God's Gift to Philadelphia's running game.
But the camera shows Jessica in the skybox, we look at Jessica in the skybox, and we think about Jessica in the skybox. We're momentarily distracted from 3rd down and long yardage.
That's the difference between Tony Romo and the rest of us. We know how WE would play with Jessica Simpson watching.
A little bit distracted.
Saturday, December 15, 2007
Carnival of The Libertarians #1
I've been pleasantly surprised by the number of submissions, covering almost every topic that matters in the Libertarian worldview. Here we go....
Allan Wallace presents We Need New Questions - school success posted at - The BFU Journal - documenting the creation of a new type of college, saying, "Have we asked the right question about the failures of formal education?" BFU stands for "The Bastiat Free University". Go there. Learn. Prosper.
Shaun Connell presents Intellectual Ownership posted at The Rebirth of Freedom Foundation, saying, "The Rebirth of Freedom Foundation explains why intellectual ownership is philosophically and realistically impossible. It just doesn't work."
Ian Welsh presents Cell phones are essentially spies in your pocket. And now cops don't need a warrant to use them. posted at The Agonist This is some good stuff. Worth considering now that most people wear or carry some form of "transmitter" all day.
blewsdawg presents Drug Warriors - Please Try To Justify This - Please! posted at InFrequently Asked Questions, in which Blewsdawg asks why it's necessary to shoot 90-year old women during drug raids. Good question.
Charles H. Green presents How To Get Your Industry Regulated, in 6 Easy Lessons posted at Trust Matters, saying, "Be out of control and deny it! No one will notice!" This is one of the best of the bunch. FYI....getting your industry regulated helps keep out competitors, allows you to jack up prices, and develops friends for your industry in government. All these things are great for you and your regulated buddies, but bad for consumers.
Holly Ord presents Purity and Integrity...Balls posted at Menstrual Poetry, where Holly gets worked up over Abstinence-Only education requirements. And some stuff that's kinda creepy.
Law, Legislation, and Lunacy: The Evility of Lou Dobbs posted at Law, Legislation, and Lunacy, features the redundantly named L, L, and L folks hammering my favorite Protectionist Doofus, Mr. Lou Dobbs. of the Castro News Network. I selected this one as a possible "filler" entry before I knew this Carnival would have so many entries. Couldn't bear to part with it.
Rickey Henderson presents This Week in Media Malfeasance... posted at Riding with Rickey, which is some sort of Not By Rickey Henderson blog. But whoever this guy who isn't Rickey Henderson is, he's irritated by all the right things....
Jon Swift presents Journalism 101 posted at Jon Swift, saying, "I think it would be helpful if bloggers knew the 20 basic "Rules of Journalism" so that they won't pester Joe Klein and other professional journalists too much about journalistic ethics in the future."
Doug Ragan presents The Two Faces Of Hillary posted at I'm A Pundit Too, saying, "Hillary Clinton has been on every side of every issue since she started her campaign in 2000. She is clearly Pro-abortion, but depending on which crowd she is talking to, she can switch to a candidate that is working towards the day when no abortions are performed."
Shaun Connell presents Capitalism posted at Reason and Capitalism, saying, "America was founded upon the individual capitalist spirit, the idea that people should be free to make agreements and do their business with minimized political turmoil interrupting their productive actions. The businessman was seen as a man who took on the wild and domesticated it, a man who took raw resources and made them into products that benefited society, the man who bettered his world, the man who conquered his world. He was seen as a creator, as a heroic, productive individual."
Shaun Connell presents The Philosophy of Liberty posted at The Rebirth of Freedom Foundation, saying, "The Rebirth of Freedom Foundation explains the key concept of libertarianism -- the philosophy of liberty. A must read for all those interested in political issues."
Judy Aron presents Andrew Napolitano at Future Freedom Foundation Conference posted at Consent Of The Governed, saying, "This is a video clip that everyone should see and hear."
Caveat emptor posted at Cafe Hayek, is another favorite from the gentlemen at Cafe Hayek. If you have a Libertarian bone in your body, you have to check out this site. This particular post is about the U.N. overestimating the Aids crisis, but the parallels with the Global Warming, excuse me, Climate Change Industry are obvious.
Shaun Connell presents Huckabee a Conservative? posted at Reason and Capitalism, saying, "Huckabee is not a supporter free economies, instead he supports restrictive and high-taxed economies." (Also, he was a Fundamentalist Preacher for years....for which he has yet to apologize.)
Timothy Moreland presents Protecting the Environment: The Answer is Freedom posted at timmorelandonline, saying, "How the free market can do a better job than the government at protecting our environment."
Wenchypoo presents The Scam That is Global Warming and How it’s Making People Rich (L-O-N-G) posted at Wisdom From Wenchypoo's Mental Wastebasket. This post doesn't belong in Wenchypoo's Mental Wastebasket. It belongs on a billboard beside Al Gore's house.
blewsdawg presents Why You Should Care About the Liberty Dollar posted at InFrequently Asked Questions. If it's legal to own gold, and legal to make products from gold, it should be legal to make coins from gold. Things are worth what people will give for them. Guess whose "dollar" is worth more, and fluctuates based on Market Demand rather than the whim of the Fed? But guess who hates competitors?
Judy Aron presents Liberty Dollars Under Attack By US Government posted at Consent Of The Governed, where they, too, are aware that Uncle Sam hates a competitor.
Michael Bass presents Ron Paul, Ben Bernanke, and the Federal Reserve posted at Debt Prison. Ron Paul wants to put us back on the Gold Standard, whereas Ben Bernanke wants to continue arbitrarily expanding and contracting the money supply.
Bill presents Ron Paul wants to Abolish the Federal Reserve posted at Queercents, saying, "The Federal Reserve has been getting a lot of attention in the last few months. With the recent housing meltdown and market volatility, it’s hard to miss the articles in the financial press. Some have blamed the Fed for causing the housing bubble, and others have argued that the Fed should take action to provide some relief. Meanwhile, one of the 2008 presidential candidates, Dr. Ron Paul, has long argued for abolishing the Federal Reserve and returning to a gold standard of the kind used around the turn of the century (as opposed to the Bretton Woods system which was in place from 1946-1971). Would that really restore financial stability to the economy? Volumes have been written on this subject, but Bill tries to summarize his views without reciting every monetary theory in existence."
:: Suzanne :: presents if you watch just one Ron Paul video, let it be this one posted at :: adventures in daily living ::
Aahz presents Applied Anarchy: Why Anarchists Should Vote For Ron Paul posted at Philaahzophy, saying, "The title pretty much speaks for itself. I'm still working on the followup article - Why EVERYONE Should Vote For Ron Paul ;)" I believe that Aahz wants to host the next Carnival of The Libertarians. I'm probably going to host one more before sendings it there, (since Aahz was first to ask. ) Should Aahz be trusted with this thing? Please comment below....
Carole G. McKay presents Truth or Consequences posted at McKay Today, saying, "A new take on leadership, citizenship and the Preamble to the Constitution." Carole does a great job here - reminds us that the Government is not "them", but "us".
kcawley presents Get Organized, America posted at Life, the Universe, and Everything, saying, "As debts go up, how are we compensating? Some of the major reasons the debt numbers keep climbing and the economy is sinking, and some motivation and a starting point for people to get involved and stop the crash from coming."
Erich Engelbrecht presents Democratizing Politics posted at Innovation Politics, in which Mr. Engelbrech goes to a conference in Austria to explore the possibilites of "People's Democracy" rather than "Representative Democracy". As he states at the end of his post, there will be problems with the media having too much power should this come into being....
Freedom of Religion, or from it
Stephen Littau presents Atheist Atrocities? (Part 1 of 3) posted at Fearless Philosophy For Free Minds, saying, "part 3 of the series deals more with libertarian and Objectivist issues than the first 2. Post which ever part of the series you like." I think you should read all of it. Plus Mr. Littau has the best assortment of links I've ever seen in one place. Fearless Philosophy is a great site.
Phil B. presents An Analysis of Reasons for Allowing and Denying Gun Ownership « Phil for Humanity posted at Phil for Humanity, saying, "Is the political and personal security of gun ownership more important than or less important than the public safety of gun control?"
Dana presents Thoughts on the Westroads Mall shooting posted at Principled Discovery. Dana runs an interesting Home Schooling site. She has some interesting things to say about Law, Gun Control, Society, and which higher power should we appeal to?
Duane Lester presents All American Blogger - I Have a Right to Affordable Health Care and a Sig Sauer P229 posted at All American Blogger, saying, "I originally wrote this for Newsvine.com and had a great response on it. It is an article concerning how liberals have warped the meaning of the word "rights."
That concludes this edition. Submit your blog article to the next edition of carnival of the libertarians using our carnival submission form.
Past posts and future hosts can be found on our blog carnival index page.
carnival of the libertarians, blog carnival.
Friday, December 14, 2007
Why Isn't Gore Running?
Duhhhhh......How did Mr. Hirsh get that job? Hirsh doesn't think this is really about the environment, does he? See below.
Click here for the reason why Al Gore isn't running......
Here's a fun trend to watch..... Google the phrase "Global Warming" in quotation marks. As of today, you'll get 24,100,000 hits. Do the same with the phrase "Climate Change", and you'll get 9,510,000 hits.
The Global Warming hits will continue to decrease, while the Climate Change hits increase. I'll probably do a tally like this every week.
Global Warming isn't going to happen in a significant way. Climate Change always happens. Like overcommitted bookies, they're laying off "Global Warming" action, and moving it to "Change".
Robert Crump is going to Afghanistan
Our friend Robert Crump has been called back to active duty. He'll be doing something with Special Forces in Afghanistan. We'll miss him.
EVERYTHING MUST CHANGE !....I AM THE "CHANGE" CANDIDATE !.....but i promise to leave all government programs intact....
I haven't been able to watch the most recent Republican or Democratic Party Presidential Debates because of family conflicts. That didn't sound right, did it???? Let's try again....the debates were getting repetitious, so I chose to hang out with my little brother and nephew visiting from Tennessee.
Most commentators believe that I've missed nothing. Rehashes of stump speeches, recycled laugh lines, and everyone trying to be the "change" candidate while leaving all the problems intact.....
Obama might just beat Hillary, even if he toked a few and snorted a few in college. He admits inhaling.
Mike Huckabee is going to surprise a lot of people.
Casual readers will be shocked, SHOCKED, to learn that Iowa's first caucus status has earned it the highest level of farm subsidies.
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
People are going to hell.
Brother Bob believes that God created the world, put a couple of people in it, one of these people sinned, and that made us all sinful. God then set up a system where people "atone" for their sins by sacrificing small animals to God. See the book of Leviticus for excessive details.....
Judging by the biblical prohibitions against the practice, people sometimes went overboard and even sacrificed their own children. (You don't make laws against spitting on the sidewalk if nobody has ever spat on the sidewalk.)
The sacrificial system didn't work out very well.
Brother Bob believes that God is all-knowing. Therefore God knew from the beginning that 1) the first people (Adam and Eve) would sin, and 2) the sacrificial system wouldn't work.
Brother Bob believes that God had a son. God sent the son to earth to teach and preach what God really wanted for us to do: Be decent to each other. Love God. Love your neighbor. Kick over the money-changers' tables in the temple, throw out all the sacrificial animals.
That was enough to get God's son killed. Cruelly. Horribly.
God's son rose from the dead. It turns out that God's son was intended to be the perfect sacrifice for everyone. All you have to do is believe that God's son, in his death, was the atonement for our sins.
If you fail to give your assent to this doctrine, you will eventually die in a state of sinfulness, and not be allowed to enter paradise. Instead, you will be tortured in a lake of fire for eternity. Torture beyond any length of time Hitler, Stalin, or Mao could accomplish.
That seems extreme - torture for eternity because of disagreeing for 70 years (or less) with the story outlined above. But that's the narrative that defines Brother Bob's life. If you met Bob, you would probably like him.
I know another man that I'll call Mike. He's a semi-homeless man that we sometimes help feed. He shares those same beliefs with Brother Bob. He quotes scripture without ceasing, and he's been institutionalized a few times for "religious mania". If you were to meet Mike, you would probably avoid him after the 2nd or 3rd encounter.
Brother Bob and Mike are my only acquaintances who believe Jesus died to save me from hell.
I repeat....Brother Bob and Mike are my only acquaintances who believe Jesus died to save me from hell.
I've known and met enough Christians to fill up Texas stadium.
But Brother Bob and Mike are the only people I've ever met who continually behave as if they believe it.
I'm not talking about morals or good behavior or being a good example to others. Morals, in the Jesus-died-for-my-sins atonement system, are almost irrelevant. (Please, please don't send me emails about how a changed outside reflects the change on the inside, or faith without works being dead....)
Bob and Mike live their entire lives under the assumption that those who haven't accepted Jesus as their atoning sacrifice are going to be burned for eternity. Neither of them can relax around you until they're assured you're safe. With Brother Bob, it comes across as caring. With Mike, it comes across as a ritualistic obligation.
I'm not saying that all the other fundamentalist Christians besides Bob and Mike are hypocrites. I'm saying that there's something jarring about professing a belief in an eternal punishment for refusing to believe something (while surrounded by people who don't believe it) and then sitting down to watch The Super Bowl, mow your yard, paint the house, take vacations, or even taking the risk of birthing children who could go to hell for eternity.
Somewhere, there's a disconnect that I've never understood.
If a house was on fire and you knew that there were children inside that you could safely remove from the burning house, would you not do everything in your power to get the kids out? Would inconvenience be an adequate excuse? Lack of training? Not feeling "called" to be a fireman?
How can someone then claim that the "unsaved" will be tortured forever, and not dedicate their piddling seventy years of life to "saving" them, 24 hours a day, seven days a week?
I've discussed this over the last 30 years with about a dozen individuals, all of whom could probably pass polygraph examinations affirming their belief in the story above. They claim to believe that Jesus was divine and atoned for us all, and all we have to do is accept his atoning sacrifice. A few of them continually invite people to their church, and occasionally go out of their way to share the Jesus story with others. They are serious about it. But they don't hesitate to go home and watch "60 Minutes" or play video games, while at the nursing home a few miles away people are dying and going to hell. People are sent to Hell forever and ever, while Christians play "World of Warcraft".
And please don't send me emails stating that God doesn't send people to hell because people send themselves to hell. My point remains the same either way. Some people don't see it as their job or their "calling" to convince anyone of the truth of the story. They see it as God's job to change people's minds. If that's the case, then God sends people to hell.
In my House On Fire analogy, that's a cop-out called "failure to render aid", isn't it? People get arrested for that, whether they have a "calling" to render aid or not.
So what am I missing? If I claim that aliens will dehydrate my brain if I ever take off my aluminum foil hat, my claim won't have much credibility to begin with. It will have even less credibility if I seldom wear my aluminum foil hat.
Maybe you disagree with every word I've written. You believe the John 3:16 business describes the purpose of the universe. If that's the case, why aren't you standing outside the synagogues and mosques explaining it to the "lost"? Why are you wasting a precious few minutes of your 70 years of life reading this?
Could it be that a theology has evolved that allows people to 1) condemn those who disagree with them, 2) ignore pain, suffering, and injustice because this life isn't important, and 3) give God all responsibility for who goes where in the next life?
Is there a possibility that the message of Jesus - Love each other, take care of each other - got hijacked?
I saw a video last week featuring a theologian named Culver Nelson who has crystallized a lot of this for me. Nelson hypothesized that Jesus hated the sacrificial system, and that's why he drove the buyers, sellers, money changers, and animal salesmen out of the temple. That's what got him crucified. But the early church was so conditioned by the idea of letting something/someone else atone for their mistakes, they simply projected their atonement system onto the life of Jesus after his death.
That would be one of life's great ironies, wouldn't it? Jesus lives his life trying to change the system, gets killed for sabotaging the system, and after his death everyone makes him part of the system.... We need a Kurt Vonnegut or a Tom Robbins to tell that story.
Maybe you believe the "atonement system/Jesus died for my sins" concept is necessary for anyone to call themselves a Christian. Perhaps you have to believe that people are going to hell at the rate of 50,000 a day. If that's the case, I can predict what you're going to do about it.
Not a damn thing.
I have a good idea who reads this blog. Brother Bob and Mike don't. They're too busy.
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
Thank God For Evolution
I repeat, there is a "Thank God For Evolution" website.
Enter at your own risk. You can get lost and spend days in there. A guy named Michael Dowd runs the site, writes books, speaks at churches, etc....
I suggest you start here . Skip the stuff about his travels. Hit all the other links. Watch the videos. Git yer perspective adjusted.
I never thought I'd live to see it. But then, I belong to a BAPTIST church where last year the deacon chair was a science professor who teaches evolution (and, incidentally, one of the greatest people I know....)
Perhaps we could bring this Michael Dowd in to speak one Sunday....
Thomas Sowell's List of Christmas Books
I'll probably start with "The Prince of Darkness", Robert Novak's autobiography, and then take a stab at "Until Proven Innocent".
There's one other title that Dr. Sowell is too modest to mention. Once you've read it, you'll never listen to a phony debate, barroom argument, or Lou Dobbs (is there any difference?) in the same way. Thomas Sowell is probably the clearest writer on this or any other planet. I want to be him when I grow up. Or maybe Robert Novak, since Dr. Sowell would never call himself "The Prince of Darkness".
Monday, December 10, 2007
Another opinion on Mitt's Speech
Check this out for something completely different.
It's a blogger named Iowahawk.
You will see him on these pages again.
I've watched the speech online all the way through now, as opposed to reading the text. Romney looks like he could work 4 or 5 consecutive shifts in Disneyland's animatronic Hall of Presidents without breaking character. Or taking a break.
Sunday, December 9, 2007
Mitt Romney - "The Mormon Speech"
Relative to other Presidential campaigns, Romney’s group had already spent more time defending their candidate’s religious beliefs - with some advisors debating whether a speech addressing the political negatives associated with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints would even be necessary.
Former Baptist preacher, Arkansas governor, and current Republican Presidential candidate Mike Huckabee then clarified things for Romney by gaining ground in Iowa with Evangelical Christians. Polling indicated that religion was an issue.
Voters needed to hear something, anything, that explained Romney’s belief system, and Romney needed to stop the bleeding.
In the meantime, pundits and commentators analyzed, dissected, and deconstructed JFK’s well-received “Catholic Speech”, a 1960 address to The Houston Ministerial Association, in which Kennedy assured a group of Baptists that The Vatican would have no control over a Catholic President. This Kennedy speech has gotten more attention in the last three weeks than in the last three decades combined.
This is because, according to a recent Rasmussen poll, 43% of likely voters will not consider voting for a Mormon presidential candidate. 19% of us aren’t sure what we would do. Only 38% would consider voting for a Mormon politician.
Therefore, 61% of us view the LDS church with enough negativity to possibly rule out all other positives associated with a Mormon Presidential candidate.
Kennedy had it easy.
So last Thursday, after months of buildup and with his political future at stake, Romney went to the Bush Library in College Station, Texas and said....
He talked for almost thirty minutes, and didn't say a thing.
The political statements Romney made were bland enough for the side of a Starbucks coffee cup: “We cherish these sacred rights, and secure them in our Constitutional order. Foremost do we protect religious liberty, not as a matter of policy, but as a matter of right. There will be no established church, and we are guaranteed the free exercise of our religion.”
That’s a beautiful, well-written phrase and Romney delivered it well, but it had nothing to do with his problem. Very few people believe that Mormons want to take away our free exercise of our religion. Romney's bigger problem was Huckabee taking away Iowa, perhaps because Huckabee can speak fluent Evangelical.
“The diversity of our cultural expression, and the vibrancy of our religious dialogue," Romney said, "has kept America in the forefront of civilized nations even as others regard religious freedom as something to be destroyed.”
That can be read as an attack on Islamic fascism.
Most Iowans already dislike Islamic fascism.
The religious statements weren’t much more precise. Other than one sentence proclaiming Jesus as “the Son of God and Savior of mankind”, there was very little in the speech that would give offense at an Interfaith Prayer Breakfast.
But what’s not to like about Mormons? What has offended the Evangelical Iowans? Donny and Marie Osmond? Senator Orrin Hatch? Senator Harry Reid? Trampolines? (Google the words “Mormon” and “trampoline” when you get a chance….) They generally work hard, have close-knit families, and a low incarceration rate.
One could mention the early Mormon church’s practice of polygamy. But no Mormon has ever rivaled the 700 wives and 300 concubines of King Solomon, now revered by Christians for his wisdom.
The Mormon church didn’t reverse some of it’s anti-black policies and doctrines until 1978. Yet many white evangelicals still worship in churches that remain segregated by custom if not theology.
Polygamy and segregation are two examples of the LDS church accommodating America’s legal system by altering doctrine to fit the larger culture. If these were all that separated Mormons from, say, Presbyterians, I don't believe that Romney would be threatened by Huckabee.
What are some of the remaining doctrines that make the LDS church distinctive?
There’s the life and significance of Joseph Smith. According to Mormon doctrine, Joseph Smith found some golden plates buried in upstate New York, carried them to his house, put a blanket across the room so no one else could see the plates, and put on a pair of magic glasses. With the help from these supernatural spectacles, Smith was able to translate “The Book of Mormon” to a neighbor. The neighbor, unlike Joseph Smith, had the ability to read and write.
The LDS church believes in a 3-tiered heaven. There’s a Celestial Kingdom, a Terrestrial Kingdom, and a Telestial Kingdom. They also generally believe in something called “Celestial Marriage”, in which marriages can be sealed for eternity.
Then there are the Temple Garments. (I could be giving offense by even discussing these here.) The Temple Garments are a set of sacred underclothing worn by LDS church members who have participated in a Washing and Anointing Ordinance.
"Baptism for The Dead" is one of the reasons that Salt Lake City is one of the world’s great places to visit for Genealogical Research. This is a practice where living individuals are baptized on behalf of the deceased. The church recently caused some controversy by posthumously baptizing Holocaust victims and perpetrators, including Adolph Hitler.
Then there are the LDS beliefs that Lost Tribes of Israel inhabited North America.
To many of us, these beliefs are, well, strange.
But do they compare well to the religious beliefs of others?
Let’s look at the beliefs of Christian Iowans, a category I could be lumped into if I lived in Des Moines:
Iowa Christians generally believe that God, an invisible being in the sky, made man out of mud. The man was lonely, so God made a woman from the man’s rib. This man and woman lived in paradise until a serpent tempted the woman to eat forbidden fruit, which allowed evil to enter us all, a condition known as "Original Sin". The man and woman were thrown out of paradise and an angel with a sword guarded the gates to prevent them from reentering.
The descendants of the man and woman populated the earth but they, because of Original Sin, were also evil. God decided to wipe out everyone except the family of a man named Noah, who was instructed to build a boat that could accommodate his family, plus every species of animal. Polar bears from the Arctic circle, penguins from the south, duck-billed platypi from Australia, and Chinese pandas were preserved from death by drowning by walking to Noah’s neighborhood and getting on the boat….
At the risk of growing tiresome, these are fundamental narratives believed by many Christians and Mormons. But outside of Creationist Museums in Kentucky, very few scientists spend much time using these narratives to explain the nature of Creation.
Some Christians and Mormons now see these stories as metaphor.
But others have an unquestioning belief in the veracity of anything Biblical.
And to avoid a false dichotomy, I should include the great middle section of humanity that isn't troubled by the historicity of Biblical narratives.
Science and Logic have made it increasingly difficult for other Christian denominations to turn up their collective noses at the stories of Joseph Smith finding golden plates in upstate New York. Does believing that Golden Plates were delivered to Smith by an angel named Moroni really require more faith than believing Jehovah delivered 10 Commandments to Moses on Mount Sinai?
Does the Mormon account of Lost Tribes of Israel emmigrating to North America require a gullible suspension of disbelief, whereas a belief that our diverse languages originated at the Tower of Babel, well, that story is factual because "God said it, I believe it, That settles it"?
The theme of Romney's speech was the Diversity of Faith in America. I believe that he missed an opportunity for a different, more effective theme. He flew past it while making an unrelated point.
I'll try to make the point for him.
"There are some for whom these commitments (to keep church and state separate) are not enough. They would prefer it if I would simply distance myself from my religion, say that it is more a tradition than my personal conviction, or disavow one or another of its precepts. That I will not do. I believe in my Mormon faith and I endeavor to live by it. My faith is the faith of my fathers - I will be true to them and to my beliefs."
Now we're getting somewhere. The Faith of our Fathers....
I can understand that Mitt Romney believes in "Baptism For The Dead" much like I prefer baptism by "Total Immersion", while Hillary Clinton, as a Methodist, probably can make an argument for "Sprinkling", and Rudy Giuliani, as a Catholic, might say the same.
Our parents raised us this way. I have Methodist and Catholic friends who almost without exception were raised by Methodist and Catholic parents. My only Serbian Orthodox friend has Serbian Orthodox parents.
And we display a brand loyalty on these issues beyond anything the advocates of Ford or Chevy, PC or Mac, or McDonald's vs. Wendy's can imagine. To change camps isn't merely to change theological belief systems or to threaten our status in the next life - it's changing something more important.
To convert to another faith is to disavow what your parents have given you as a guide to life and the universe. To betray the The Faith of Our Fathers is to betray The Tribe.
I'm not suggesting that Romney should've thrown his Mormon convictions under the bus - distance myself from my religion, say that it is more a tradition than a personal conviction, or disavow one or another of its precepts - but perhaps Romney would have been better served by a speech tracing Mormonism in his family, generation by generation, and how it has been a guide and aid for their obvious humanitarian, business and political accomplishments.
Non-Mormons would continue to think The Lost Tribes of Israel got no further than The Mediterranean. But more of them would have understood Mitt Romney and his loyalty to his church. We would be reminded that our own faiths have elements that are incomprehensible to outsiders, but we rely on these doctrines anyway.
They fit us so well because we were shaped by them.
Mark Twain had a lot to say about this in his forgotten classic "Christian Science", written at a time when Mary Baker Eddy's Christian Scientists were expanding as quickly as the LDS church is expanding today...."When I, a thoughtful and unblessed Presbyterian, examine the Koran, I know that beyond any question every Mohammedan is insane; not in all things, but in religious matters. When a thoughtful and unblessed Mohammedan examines the Westminster Catechism, he knows that beyond any question I am spiritually insane. I cannot prove to him that he is insane, because you never can prove anything to a lunatic--for that is a part of his insanity and the evidence of it. He cannot prove to me that I am insane, for my mind has the same defect that afflicts his. All Democrats are insane, but not of of them knows it. None but the Republicans and Mugwumps know it. All the Republicans are insane, but only the Democrats and Mugwumps can perceive it....(Mugwumps were Republicans who protested corruption by voting for Democrats. They changed tribes, so to speak, and were therefore insane.)
Twain goes on to list all the religious denominations that differ from his Presbyterianism, and then asks:
Why is he insane? I told you before: it is because his opinions are not ours. I know of no other reason, and I do not need any other; it is the only way we have of discovering insanity when it is not violent. It is merely the picturesqueness of his insanity that makes it more interesting than my kind or yours."
Mitt Romney, in my opinion, is insane. His LDS faith makes him so.
If Mitt Romney values his LDS faith like I think he does, then I'm insane for rejecting it.
Now that Mr. Romney and I have that out of the way, I'm free to look at his record as Governor of Massachusetts, his role in saving the Utah Olympics, and his ideas to fix our health care system.
Despite his obvious mental illness, Mitt Romney might make a great President.
Click Here for a previous rant about religious texts, written in a bad mood after a bad week of news from Iraq.
P.S. - Someone at the LDS church also believes that Mark Twain had good things to say about the nature of belief. On December 6th, when I went to a website called classicreader.com to locate the Twain quotes from Christian Science, the scrolling banner at the top of the page said "Click Here For A Free Book of Mormon".
Saturday, December 8, 2007
My 2nd Amendment Rant
Tuesday, December 4, 2007
The Notorious Chinese Washing Machine Story
Dear family, friends, co-workers, Moderate Baptists, retail booksellers, and people from the Starbucks on Camp Bowie,
I hope everyone is doing well. I still don’t have Internet access at the new apartment, and haven’t had much free time outside of working at the factory and getting moved into the new place. I’m writing from the Coffee Bar near our new apartment.
Our company apartment is bigger, nicer, and more luxurious than anything that 99% of the Chinese can afford, or have ever seen. I never doubt for a moment that I’ve been blessed, and am very fortunate to have been born where I was born.
All that obligatory gratitude aside, the apartment was designed to look like the Jettson’s. Unfortunately, the utilities were provided by The Flintstones. It’s on the 27th floor of a high-rise that’s still being built by small angry people with lots of hammers.
Let’s start in the kitchen: There is a double sink with cold water only. The left-hand side sink is about the size of a piece of photocopier paper. The right-hand side sink is about the size and depth of a shoebox. Fran will tell you that I can dirty enough dishes, forks, ladles, and colanders to fill both of these sinks just by microwaving one pack of popcorn.
To the left of the sink is the space where the microwave ought to be. But that’s the only space where I can chop up whatever small animals that I’m having for dinner. (The food suppliers, restaurants, and I have a mutual “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy....) So the microwave stays on top of the fridge until needed. There is a dual surface gas cooktop that works great.
Below that is a Thing that’s not quite a Dishwasher. They call if a “sterilizer”. When I asked Wendy why I needed the sterilizer after the dishes had already been hand washed, she said “Bad Water”. I know all about the Bad Water from the medical disaster of my first trip. She also suggested that I leave the dishes in the sterilizer at all times. I asked why. She said “Bad Air”. Considering that they’re always burning huge piles of leftover Asbestos, DDT, Napalm, Agent Orange, etc. all over the countryside, I’m taking her advice. Good Karma.
The refrigerator is small, but will keep beer cold. The only ice trays they sell here are about the size of two playing cards placed end to end. The ice is all dice-sized cubelets. Made from Sparklett’s, because of Bad Water. A minor hassle.
I’ve got two great balconies. One of them overlooks other high-rises, but the other one has a great view of the lake and the bay. That’s where I have my new washer/dryer. (All in one machine.) It has two digital dials, and about 20 buttons. The owner’s manual is only in Chinese, which I’m slowly trying to translate with a Character-Finder dictionary (don’t ask how that works, it’s too tiresome to explain. But I feel like I’m on the Medieval Committee that turned all the Greek, Latin, and Hebrew into the King James Bible.)
For reasons that I don’t understand, this Washing Machine can be programmed to wash one load for up to 20 hours. Yes, 20 hours. I think it has a similar capability for drying times, but I’m afraid to find out. I might incinerate something.
Combine all this with a safety feature that won’t let you open the door when there is ANY water or ANY heat in the machine, and it’s time for ADVENTURES IN LAUNDRY ! ! ! My first load washed for about 3 hours, and dried for about half that many. I don’t have accurate times for the 2nd load on Sunday, because there was a lot of starting and stopping involved - I’d call it 9 hours total. Every time I tried to move from washing to drying, it started a new wash cycle for a random length of time. And of course, the door wouldn’t open. Then, when I did persuade it to go from wash to dry, after about 3 hours of drying, the damn door still wouldn’t open because of the excessive heat.
It was ridiculous. My shirts were held hostage. All the crowbars were back at the factory.
Most businesses here have a little Buddhist mini-shrine/altar somewhere on the premises. They burn incense on the altar in front of the Buddha statue about twice a day. If things are going badly, they will even place sacrificial fruit in front of the statue (apples, oranges, plums, etc. etc etc. Some people try to fake it with plastic fruit, but I bet that doesn’t work as well..)
Anyway, I thought it would make for a funny photo to show Wendy if I took a picture of some fruit in front of my washing machine, as a sort of hostage exchange for my shirts. I put some bananas, oranges, and grapes on the balcony in front of the washer, and went to get my camera. When I went back on the balcony to take the picture, the door was open. The Chinese Washing Machine was apparently satisfied with my offering.
You can’t make this stuff up
My shirts had been washed so many times they were almost transparent. And they will now fit my little daughter perfectly.
The washer/dryer works very hard, and it works for long, long hours. It’s very complicated. And you’re not going to get anything out of it until it’s ready to give it to you. So I’ve named it Aifei….
My driver just showed up to take me to the factory.
There’s more to tell, like the hot water heater that doesn’t hook to either of the sinks or to the shower, but maybe is what keeps the toilet water so nice and toasty. The bed has a Chinese-style mattress - a term I wasn’t familiar with until this trip. “Chinese Style Mattress” translates into English as “If you have a Basketball, you can dribble on it.” But this email is already over-long. This coffee bar has 6 CD’s in the music rotation, and one of them is Christmas music. When “Joy to the World” comes over the speakers, the Chinese workers and customers don’t know the difference, but all the Westerners in the place look up from their laptops and smile at each other. It’s great. I’ve met people from all over the world in this place. I love this country.
Monday, December 3, 2007
Things Caused by Global Warming
Individually, they're serious reading.
Taken as a group, they are hilarious.
I've hit about a dozen of the links. Go Thou and do Likewise.
Broadway Baptist, Gay Couples, Church Directory
Like the Calvinist said after he fell down the stairs, "I'm glad that's over with."
Fort Worth's Broadway Baptist votes to keep pastor
from The Fort Worth Star-Telegram
and a similar story from the Dallas Morning News Religion Blog
I'm a member of a study group called "Exploring The Christian Faith" at Broadway Baptist Church in Fort Worth. We don't hesitate to ask the hard questions. Very few answers are provided. We're just about to finish a series called "Living The Questions". We'll probably do a book study next.
If you've lost touch with your faith, or lost interest in traditional answers to Christianity's difficulties, come join us. There's been some recent controversy about our studying some of the theologians listed in the Spiritual Advisors blogroll to your right. Borg in particular. I hope we're over it now. (See the Star-Telegram link above.)
In the last few months, I've learned that Freedom of Religious Expression is a valuable thing. Lord have mercy, I love this class. All points of view are respected. No one believes me, but meeting in that room is the most Libertarian hour of my week.
If you want to join us, we meet at 9:30 in Room 306 every Sunday morning. 305 West Broadway, Fort Worth, TX 76104.
Sunday, December 2, 2007
So ... who's in your church's directory?
Star-Telegram.com: 11/30/2007 So ... who's in your church's directory?
So ... who's in your church's directory?
Broadway Baptist Church is putting together a directory for its 125th anniversary. Photos of member families were to be included. Some same-sex couples -- members of the Fort Worth congregation -- made appointments to be photographed together but were told they could not.
This has caused some controversy about same-sex couples within a Christian community. We church members will vote on the issue Sunday.
Some of our members believe that homosexuality is a sin, and to include committed same-sex couples as a family in the church directory is to approve of their lifestyle.
Other members welcome same-sex couples and gay or lesbian individuals to participate in leading, teaching, serving and tithing. They believe that there is a legitimate conflict between homosexuality and interpretations of Scripture that condemn it. But they prefer a "don't ask, don't tell" approach, and allowing committed same-sex members to be photographed together for the directory would be too highly visible.
Still other members just wish these issues would go away. They wish that God had created everyone with the same orientation: political, spiritual and sexual. They see the directory conflict as embarrassing, a distraction from the church's mission. They would prefer to focus on the hungry people to be fed, cold people to be clothed and lonely people to be comforted. These Broadway members perceive our directory dispute as a waste of emotion, time and resources.
A final group, which includes me, sees this as an opportunity for inclusion: In Christ, there is no black or white, rich or poor, Gentile or Jew, gay or straight. This is an opportunity for a Baptist church to be among the first to get something right.
Each group is composed of good people who want to do the best they can, in light of what they know.
Jesus made a consistent practice of not turning away anyone -- the diseased, the outcast, tax collectors or sinners. "If you've done it for the least of these, you've done it for me," was his memorable phrase. All four strongly committed groups of Christians in Broadway Baptist Church want to emulate his love, his outreach and his understanding.
But enough about Broadway Baptist. Let's talk about your church.
A recent Star-Telegram article reported that Fort Worth is home to 10 times as many same-sex couples as it was 16 years ago. Other statistics report that gays and lesbians make up as much as 5 percent of the population, spread out across all neighborhoods, professions, income levels and faiths. If your church has more than 100 members, some are probably gay or lesbian.
Congregations such as those in the Metropolitan Community Church provide some of the only outlets for openly gay and lesbian people to worship. Scant few other mainstream Protestant denominations allow gays and lesbians to be who God made them.
Some people believe that sexual orientation is a choice and therefore, according to one interpretation of Scripture, a sin.
I don't know a single person who chose to be heterosexual, nor do I know anyone who would choose the (now diminishing) shame, ridicule and ostracism associated with being openly gay or lesbian.
Within 20 years, most Christian denominations will accept openly gay members. Society is accepting openly gay and lesbian people, and the church will follow that trend or become increasingly irrelevant.
Regardless of how Broadway Baptist votes, I believe that I will see the following within my lifetime:
More theologians will become embarrassed by the church's prejudice and discrimination. Scriptures will be re-interpreted.
Sermons will claim that the church should be open to gays and lesbians.
We will then claim that we were instrumental in the liberation of gays and lesbians and were never really opposed to it.
That has been the pattern with slavery, women's rights and civil rights. We could belabor the point by pointing out that the church tried to suppress scientific truths about the movement, shape and age of Earth, all with biblical justification.
I cannot believe that the Creator of the universe made "defective" people for the purpose of condemning them for their defects. God is bigger than we can possibly imagine -- big enough to create everything we see around us. God is big enough to be in all of us.
I just hope that our church directories are big enough for God.
Prior to our meeting that Sunday, the church asked that all non-members from the news media leave the room, stating that The Deacon Chair would make a short summary of the meeting available afterwards. I'll post a link to this summary as soon as it's published elsewhere.
My 17-year-old daughter made a point of finding me prior to the meeting so she could sit beside me. (Publishing this for all the world to see has caused some controversy....)
"I don't think you should be sitting by yourself, Dad," she said. "I want everybody to see that I've got your back."
That's how you know you've raised your kid right ! ! !
Thursday, November 29, 2007
God forced Richard Roberts' Resignation
Star-Telegram.com: 11/29/2007 Roberts: God forced resignation
I don't ordinarily get worked up over the goings-on at 3rd tier Witch Doctor Finishing Schools, but there's a warm place in my heart for anyone connected to Oral Roberts.
My grandmother, Mamie, was disabled from a stroke, and lived with us part of the year.
When I was growing up, we only got one TV station.
One of those TV stations regularly carried the Oral Roberts TV "Ministry".
A regular feature of this "Ministry" was Oral berating people like Mamie who didn't have the faith to stand up and walk. I've hated that bastard ever since then.
TULSA, Okla.-- Richard Roberts told students at Oral Roberts University Wednesday that he did not want to resign as president of the scandal-plagued evangelical school, but that he did so because God insisted.
Richard, that's called getting out of town before the lynch mob arrives.... Mamie used to sit in her rocking chair while people like your Daddy screamed at her.
God told him on Thanksgiving that he should resign the next day, Roberts told students in the university's chapel.
That's when you realized
"Every ounce of my flesh said no" to the idea, Roberts said, but he prayed over the decision with his wife and his father, Oral Roberts, and decided to step down.
For those who haven't followed it closely, Oral is having a few problems with the "Physician, Heal Thyself" thing in his old age. Oral's not doing well. Something about it reminds me of how Mamie used to sit there watching the TV, saying "I just wish I had that kind of faith...." when Oral would "heal" shills from the audience.
Roberts said he wanted to "strike out" against the people who were persecuting him, and considered countersuing, but "the Lord said, 'Don't do that,'" he said.
The Lord is correct, Richard....You're going to need to save every penny you've got for defense, not offense.
After submitting his resignation, he said that for the "first time in 60 days peace came into my heart."
Roberts spoke for only a few minutes and was applauded and cheered by students. He wiped away tears with a handkerchief and his hands.
Enjoy the peace in your heart while it lasts. They're still going to come after you with the long knives. Some of those students were applauding your departure, you Nimrod.
"This has nearly destroyed my family, and it's nearly destroyed ORU," Roberts said.
So close. So close. Maybe next time.
A lawsuit accuses Roberts of lavish spending at a time when the university faced more than $50 million in debt, including taking shopping sprees, buying a stable of horses and paying for a daughter to travel to the Bahamas aboard the university jet.
Roberts has previously said that God told him to deny the allegations. The week the lawsuit was filed, Richard Roberts said that God told him: "We live in a litigious society. Anyone can get mad and file a lawsuit against another person whether they have a legitimate case or not. This lawsuit ... is about intimidation, blackmail and extortion and taking shopping sprees, buying a stable of horses, and paying for a daughter to travel to The Bahamas aboard the university jet.
Ok, that's the last I'm going to write about these clowns. Mamie, wherever you are, I hope you're enjoying this.
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
Campaign trail rancor carries into GOP debate - CNN.com
Here's CNN's LiveBlog of the same thing. They're about halfway through.
I type faster than they do. Or maybe they have an obligation to be accurate.
1) John McCain won it. (see previous post.)
2) Free Trade with the rest of the world is doomed. We can only buy through campaign donors.
The CNN YouTube Debates, Part Four, John McCain won the debate
And I'm as libertarian as they get, but Ron Paul isn't inspiring a lot of confidence tonight.
Huckabee's campaign video: He believes in things. (Am I the only one who thinks he looks like Kevin Spacey?)
Question: retired brig general who is openly gay, wants to know why gays can't serve in military openly...
Hunter: Unit Cohesion...(No pun intended!) You can't ask these conservative soldiers to work in a "Small Tight Unit" (No pun intended !) I ain't making this up....
Huckabee: More about unit cohesion...
Romney: We're in the middle of a war. He has to retract his statement about openly gay soldiers from 15 years ago. He's going to ask the military about what they want.
The general feels that he didn't get an answer from the candidates. He thinks the military is professional enough to serve with gays and lesbians. He revealed his orientation after he retired. He thinks don't ask, don't tell is harmful. We're losing good doctors, pilots, nurses, etc.
McCain: I talk to the military. They unanimously say that the present policy is working.
New Question: Do you accept the support of the Log Cabin Republicans (Gay Republicans)
Huck: He'll take anybody's support. Of Course. wouldn't change his position on same sex marriage.
New Question: National debt will increase by half a million in the length of time this question takes. What are we going to do?
Fred: We're spending social security fund of the future. Entitlements are a huge problem. It's a moral issue, but I don't have a clue what to do.
Mitt: We face lots of problems, but Social Security is radioactive, and I ain't going to touch it from this stage....Do you think I'm an idiot?
New Question: Space exploration: are any of you willing to send someone to Mars? what is your vision for space exploration?
Huck: let's expand the space program. Look what GPS, Screens, TV satellites have done. (He's doing well. He's slick.) Gets a good laugh by suggesting we put Hillary on a rocket to Mars.
Tancredo: Everybody's trying to be everything. We can't afford some things, like going to Mars.
New question: Lots of African Americans have conservative views, but vote Democrat. What's up with that?
Giuliani: We haven't sold it well. I moved 600,000 people off welfare. (Rudy isn't selling himself worth a damn tonight. Hillary might eat his lunch. I fear for him.)
Huck: I got a good % of the black vote. I asked for their vote. And we better reach out to blacks and hispanics.
New question from someone with a Rebel flag in the background....what does this flag represent?
Mitt: I'm above this. So can our country. (Good answer, Mitt.)
Fred: Everybody who hangs the Stars and Bars isn't racist. It doesn't belong in a public place. We don't need to go out of the way to bring up stuff like this.
Ron Paul's video: Less tax, less regulation, a Republic, not an empire, etc.
New question: fixing the infrastructure will cost more than two trillion....who can articulate the sacrifices we need to make?
Rudy: I saw it all in NYC....Can't be done by one President. We'll need a sustained effort, long term, over multiple administrations.
Ron Paul: It's a big problem. we're taxed to blow up and rebuild bridges overseas, and our own are falling down.
McCain: Will veto every single pork bill that crosses his desk. No bridges to nowhere. He's got a Veto pen.
Rudy: (having taken a hit) The line item veto is unconstitutional.
New question for Ron Paul: Are you going to let America down by not running as an Independent?
Ron Paul: I'm doing well. That's not why I'm in this. Raised 4.3 million in one day. THIS COUNTRY IS IN A REVOLUTION, THEY'RE SICK OF WHAT THEY'RE GETTING, AND I'M LUCKY TO BE A PART OF IT.
New Question: Rudy, why did you switch from Yankees to Red Sox after post-season.
Rudy: I'm an American League fan. He likes their team in the series. When I was mayor of NYC, the Yankees won 4 world series. Afterward, none.
Mitt: Red Sox beat Yanks, when they were ahead 3 games to none.
Ok, this thing is over.
Duncan Hunter is going nowhere.
Ron Paul didn't blow me away, and I wanted him to.
Mitt came across ok.
Put "The Location of Tom Tancredo's Head" into Google, and you'll see my opinion on Tancredo.
I'll call Fred Thompson if I ever need someone to scowl.
Rudy didn't have a particularly good night. He's the Hillary of this thing, and everybody's dogpiling.
I bet Huckabee gets a boost after this. He did ok.
I think John McCain did the best. He comes across as the adult in the room. He's bulletproof on the military issues, has some credibility with his Veto pen.
I'm disappointed that there isn't a single candidate taking a Free Market, Free Trade Stance in a big way. Ron Paul hardly mentioned it.
Wait a minute....William Bennett has been pulled away from the slot machines long enough to do some CNN commentary. David Gergen agrees that McCain has found his voice. He agrees that Huckabee is a factor.
There's a book on the Clinton/Dole election called either "Campaign Fever" or "Losers", depending if you find the original hardback, or the paperback reprint. Michael Lewis, who wrote "Liars Poker", spent about a year following and writing about the losing candidates in the Republican and Democratic primaries.
William Bennett is talking about moral authority. Now he's making a more appropriate Texas Hold 'em reference.
Anyway, the Michael Lewis books is worth reading. John McCain is the hero of that book, and I haven't really thought of it recently until tonight. McCain says what he wants to say, consequences be damned. Tonight was the first time I've seen anything in McCain that reflects the qualities Lewis wrote about. Check it out. Michael Lewis, "Losers".
For What It's Worth, John McCain won the debate.
The CNN YouTube Debate, Part Three
Rudy: stay on offense. Muslims, Arabs, etc are good folks. The fundamentalists have defiled a great religion. Don't engage in group blame. But we can't put our head in the sand. You have to come out and say "Islamic Terrorism". We can make the distinction.
McCain: We have to win in Iraq. Rebuild the country. Train the police. Fight the Democrats and their dates for surrender. I'M THE ONE who said the old strategy was failing. I have the military experience. I ROCK.
(I think McCain is winning this debate....)
Hunter: we bring food and medicine. we help everybody. we defend you. I will never apologize for that.
New Question: McCain is against waterboarding. He's been tortured. How can you disagree with him?
Mitt: You can' t describe what techniquest you would use to interrogate someone. Also, keep these terrorists at Gitmo.
McCain: I'm astonished that you don't know what waterboarding is. It's torture. Violation of the Geneva conventions. We ain't going to torture people. Talk to military people.
(I think McCain is winning this debate....)
Mitt: I didn't say I'm in favor of torture. I'm just not going to be specific.
McCain: we would have to advocate that we withdraw from the Geneva Conventions. Life is not "24" and Jack Bauer. This is a defining issue. We should never allow torture to happen in the U.S.
New Question: Who is willing to make a long term commitment to the people of Iraq?
Fred: We should stay as long as we have to. There are people there who want to kill us. etc etc etc
Ron Paul: The best we can do for Iraqis is give them their country back. The surge hasn't worked. Only in the center of the nation has it worked. The edges are chaotic.
McCain: We never lost a battle in Viet Nam. American Public Opinion forced us to lose there. The Iraqi's want to follow us home. We can meet the enemy, though, and defeat them.
Paul: Anecdote about generals....battles were irrelevant. We're occupying the Iraqi's country (many boos).
Tancredo: wishes he could live in Paul's universe....
Question for Rudy: How do you respond that you want to be the 9/11 President?
Rudy: goes into his record with the Reagan justice dept., fighting crime, working with Haiti, U.S. attorney, prosecuted Sicilian Mafia figures. Trots out the George Will quote about Rudy running the most conservative government in the 2000's. He's been tested. 3rd largest government in the country. One of the largest in the world....
New question: Cartoon of Dick Cheney....will you have a Veep like me?
Fred: I thought that was me....(laughs)....VP has a dual role. Should be chosen based on his ability to serve as Prez. etc etc etc.
McCain: Bush came to office in a time of peace, and then found himself at 2001. He had to rely on Cheney. I have experience in military, so I wouldn't have to do that.
Duncan Hunter video: Chuck Yeager likes him, he built a fence, and saved the Veterans memorial.
The CNN YouTube Debate, Part Two
Hunter: I got a hunting license at age 10...He criticizes the carelessness of the questioner throwing his weapon around. Good point.
New question: Rudy, why do you support written exams for gun owners?
Rudy: You gotta be aggressive. He says stuff about how rough NYC was, and what all he had to do to tame it. It was a reasonable regulation. (some boos) Supreme court will decide this. Rudy says it's a personal right.
Thompson, why do you slam Rudy on this?
Thompson: Rudy gets his picture made with Clinton's cabinet. Fred slams Rudy. Eloquently.
Rudy: It's an individual right. Shouldn't be interfered with.
Question: Tell us about your gun collection. GREAT QUESTION
Fred: I own 'em, and I'm not going to tell you what or where.
McCain: Military only. Carried a 45. Doesn't have any now.
Hunter: Anecdote about Daddy.
Rudy doesn't have any.
Mitt has a couple.
New question: Black on Black crime. What are we going to do?
Mitt: Strong families. Have a dad and a mom and a mom and a mom, like the mormons. Better education. Do a better job with policing.
Rudy: Is Mitt a crime fighter? Statistics are mixed.
Mitt: running a city isn't like running a state.
Abortion question. Journey from Arlington asks about the penalties for abortionists and abortionees.
Ron Paul: It's up to the state and the juries. Let's get the government out of it. Woman shouldn't be charged with a crime. The abortionist should be punished.
Fred Thompson: question has a weird premise. It's all up to the Justices you put on the bench. Penalty should be like it is now. Doctor only, not the woman.
New question: AJ wants to know if Roe V Wade was overturned, would they sign a ban on all abortions?
Rudy: No. Leave it to the states. Roe Vs. Wade took the decision away from the states. There should be parental consent.
Mitt: We should overturn R V W, return it to the states. I would sign the bill.
Question for Huckabee: The death penalty....WWJesus do?
Huck: I did it more than any other governor. Toughest decision he ever made. Irrevocable. He read every word of every case. Some crimes are so heinous, that we have to beyond our capacity to fix. How can you be pro life, and believe in death penalty? Basically, the issues of guilt....
But WWJesus do?
Jesus was too smart to run for public office.
Tancredo: I would pray to him for the wisdome to do the right thing. (He then bows for a word of prayer).
New question: Do you believe every word of this book? The Bible. Joseph Dearing asks it. Joseph of Dallas.
They ask Rudy first, but Huckabee offers to help.....Rudy sees metaphor, allegory, but he doesn't believe every word literally.
Romney: He thinks it's the word of God. A guide for his life. He won't say if he believes every word.
Huckabee: It's what it is. The word of revelation to us from God himself. There's some allegory. But Love your neighbor. Do unto others, etc. Let's work on the simple stuff like that. There's stuff he doesn't understand, and he's not supposed to.
They show Mitt's video: the world is changing. we need the leader who gets the big stuff done. We need Mitt. Mitt basks in the glory.
Let's post part two.