Saturday, March 02, 2002

White Raisins. Maybe the Koran was mistranslated? That's the issue being examined by a small group of scholars, according to this article. One example those "virgins who are supposedly awaiting good Islamic martyrs as their reward in paradise are in reality 'white raisins' of crystal clarity rather than fair maidens."
It's back. Judging from my messages, "what's wrong with this picture" is back.
Number 723. This is one of many reasons I could not ever be a conservative republican -- although I often find myself in agreement with them.

Friday, March 01, 2002

Can you find it? OK folks, sit down for this one. What's wrong with this picture?

Spend some time staring at it, it took me a while to see it...

Update It looks like this was shut down sometime after 2:30 today -- it wasn't my fault.

Too bad, it was pretty clever.
Inconclusive. According to the Telegraph, a committee reviewing the ethics of experimentation on a living human embryo acknowledges "arguments on either side of this debate are inconclusive and it is a matter of judgment." So they say go ahead.

One observation, this committee states:
While respecting the deeply held views of those who regard any research involving the destruction of a human embryo as wrong, and having weighed the ethical arguments carefully, the committee is not persuaded, especially in the context of the current law and social attitudes, that all research on early human embryos should be prohibited." [emphasis added]
I know there are people out there who support this experimentation, but doesn't it give you pause to have the decision grounded in "current law and social attitutdes." At different times, applying this rationale, we could be experimenting on Negros, women, Irish, Slavs, Jews, homosexuals, Jehovah's Witnesses, and the poor, among others. Should we be doing that?
What was he thinking? This headline on a story from the AP: "Teacher Won't Feed Puppies to Snake"
Take a Stretch. Rich Hailey writes well. I've done something like what he describes -- it's haunting -- unless you learn from it. Well done.

* * *

As an aside, I can change a diaper, write a sonnet (octet or sestet), balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure (and it should be noted that the best way to move manure, like mulch, is to pitch it, not shovel), program a computer, cook a tasty meal, and design a building. I think I could plan an invasion, conn a ship (I can sail a boat, can't be much harder), and fight efficiently. As far as butchering a hog -- I have no idea -- I don't think it would be very efficient, but yeah, probably. And last, die gallantly -- I hope so. Only one chance at that, in any event.
Schism. There appears to be a schism developing among the small, but growing, circle of Augustinian weblogers: pro-Madden and semi-quasi-anti-Madden. Count me in with Ben. And it's not some blind loyalty to the Silver and Black (which must be acknowledged); chief is that my wife still loves the big guy. Madden blew it with his suggestion at the end of the Superbowl (take a knee), but he was extremely forthright about his mistake.

On another football subject -- the signing of Romanowski -- he may fit with the historical image of the Raiders, he will ultimately be a detriment to the team -- he's way too undisciplined. The Raiders get the same treatment from the referees as do conservatives and/or Republicans from big media: this would be like Traficant becoming a Republican.
Humble Pride. I love America and my love is reinforced when I speak with those who have come here from other countries to live. This is a great country, but we need to avoid any smugness. Accordingly, don't look at what's happening in India and thinking it doesn't happen here. Remember, it wasn't that long ago that Janet Reno's troops burned to death 74 Branch Davidians, which prompted retaliation from a sick Timothy McVeigh. May God have mercy on us all.

Thursday, February 28, 2002

Augustinian Blog Ring. Heh. I like the sound of it. My Dad will be proud to see me in such August company.

[At which, the Blithering Idiot was promptly booted out, the locks were changed and he was never heard from again.]
Birthmark. Excellent review and essay by Orrin Judd on Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Birthmark, which, as you may recall, generated a great deal of derision. Must reading. I would like to re-run the whole thing, but won't so go here now.

(don't forget to come back.)

BTW, this is why you get a literate man like Kass to do this. You put me on the committee and I'd be handing out Stephen King's Pet Semetary.
N o t h i n g. The sound of silence.

I've been waiting to read about Arab or Islamic condemnation of the Pearl murder.




So I checked the Council on American-Islamic Relations website. Nothing.

ArabNet? Nothing.

American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee? Nothing.

The Arab American Institute? Nothing. [BTW, there is an interesting "Twin Towers" poster they are selling on their site. I'm not sure what to make of it. My reaction is to say, they are right that it is wrong to hate the innocent, and an American citizen of Arabian descent should not be shown any hostility. But I don't have a problem with anyone who hates the evil that was done. I'd like to see the Arab American Institute show a little intolerance of that evil.]

The Muslim World League? Nothing.

The Muslim Student League? Nothing.

Okay, surely the Muslim Peace Fellowship must have something. Nope (although, in fairness, this site doesn't appear to be up-to-date -- the same thing could be said for The Arab American Action Network and some of the other places I omitted).

Really, all I was hoping for was some statement, even a small one, from CAIR -- I went to the others hoping to shame them when I didn't find anything. When I do find one, I'll post an update.

Don't hold your breath. (if you do, the silence would be unbearable.)
Not just in fairy tales. Once upon a time, liberals favored vouchers for education -- I know I did. Stuart Taylor still does.

Clarification: I still favor vouchers, I just consider myself a post-liberal.
Mountain Meadows Massacre. We debate events that happened days and years ago. Here is a story on a massacre that happened over a hundred years ago. The latest implicated is Brigham Young himself. Very interesting.
Old McDonald Had a Deformed Cow. This is a fun ditty by Seamus Kennedy ("...stuttering cow... m-m-m-moo-m-m-m-mmoo here . . .dyslexic sheep . . . aab-aab here. . . " etc.) that point out one of the problems with cloning. You can listen to it in RealAudio (unless you're using the current version of RealPlayer) here.

Is this something that Reynolds, Murtaugh and all the other pro-cloners have addressed?
Blog-rolling. Why not? this screed by lileks is worth it.
Doomsday. The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists tells us that we're just seven minutes from midnight! (as opposed to 17 minutes away in 1991 -- at the end of the Reagan-Bush years).

Meanwhile the Rapture Index is now at 179, which according to the website puts it near the top ("Fasten your seat belt").

Update. I just realized I shouldn't have put this one on top of the last -- oh well.
Second Coming? Okay, USA Today is reporting today that Fox TV has released John Madden from his contract. The Oakland Raiders need a head coach. For a few hours, I can dream about his return.

Wednesday, February 27, 2002

Paul v. Jesus. There's a nice little discussion weaving it's way through several 'blogs. If you start here with Kevin's Ideas, you can work your way back. I don't have the time right now to thoughtfully address and add to what's been said in a big way, so I'll just toss out a few things.

We dwell on Paul because we have his letters -- its sort of a variation of the winners writing history. In this case, it's the writer being perceived as the winner, to the neglect of the work done by the other apostles and disciples of the Master.

Also, raised, in passing, in a much earlier note (although I don't recall where -- it may have been in someone's comments) was the notion that Paul toughened up Jesus' message of love. C. S. Lewis had a nice observation, which I'll quote in lengthy part:
A most astonishing misconception has long dominated the modern mind on the subject of St Paul. It is to this effect: that Jesus preached a kindly and simple religion (found in the Gospels) and that St Paul afterwards corrupted it into a cruel and complicated religion (found in the Epistles). This is really quite untenable. All the most terrifying texts came from the mouth of Our Lord: all the texts on which we can base such warrant as we have for hoping that all men will be saved come from St Paul. If it could be proved that St Paul altered the teaching of his Master in any way, he altered it in exactly the opposite way to that which is popularly supposed. But there is no real evidence for a pre-Pauline doctrine different from St Paul's. The Epistles are, for the most part, the earliest Christian documents we possess. The Gospels come later. They are not 'the Gospel', the statement of the Christian belief. They were written for those who had already been converted, who had already accepted 'the Gospel'. They leave out many of the 'complications' (that is, the theology) because they are intended for readers who have already been instructed in it. In that sense the Epistles are more primitive and more central than the Gospels -- though not, of course, than the great events which the Gospels recount. God's act (the Incarnation, the Crucifixion, and the Resurrection) comes first: the earliest theological analysis of it comes in the Epistles: then, when the generation who had known the Lord was dying out, the Gospels were composed to provide for believers a record of the great Act and of some of the Lord's sayings.

* * *

In the earlier history of every rebellion there is a stage at which you do not yet attack the King in person. You say, 'The King is all right. It is his Ministers who are wrong. They misrepresent him and corrupt all his plans -- which, I'm sure, are good plans if only the Ministers would let them take effect.' And the first victory consists in beheading a few Ministers: only at a later stage do you go on and behead the King himself. In the same way, the nineteenth-century attack on St Paul was really only a stage in the revolt against Christ. Men were not ready in large numbers to attack Christ Himself. They made the normal first move -- that of attacking one of His principal ministers. Everything they disliked in Christianity was therefore attributed to St Paul. It was unfortunate that their case could not impress anyone who had really read the Gospels and the Epistles with attention: but apparently few people had, and so the first victory was won. St Paul was impeached and banished and the world went on to the next step -- the attack on the King Himself.

--C.S. Lewis
"Modern Translations of the Bible"
Sir Thomas. Very long, very busy, very good day at work today -- on the way home I stopped at Borders which is having a sale on some DVDs. I picked up my all-time favorite: A Man for All Seasons, which is playing now, in the background, while I make dinner for the family (choir and dance night). All is well.
I think that when statesmen forsake their own private conscience for the sake of their public duties, they lead their country by a short route to chaos.

--Robert Bolt's Thomas More
10 Commandments Update. Addressing the issue I raised below, tres cool Eugene Volokh notes:
...I'm not sure your analogy between the Ten Commandments case and the pro-Bin-Laden speech case is quite right. When someone objects to *private* religious speech on the grounds that it's offensive, the Supreme Court quite correctly protects the speaker against the heckler. See, e.g., Cantwell v. Connecticut; Kunz v. New York; Pinette v. Capitol Square Review Bd. (though I think the plurality was more right than the concurrences, in general even the concurrences weren't that far from the right result).

It doesn't follow that the same should apply to *government* religious speech. You say "some rights are more favored than others," but the question is whether the State of Indiana has a right to speak in a way that endorses Christianity and Judaism (and whether it in fact spoke this way here).
There is, of course, nothing else to add. He's write right. I love the internet.

Tuesday, February 26, 2002

Ain't it the case? NY Times headline tonight: "Disturbing Finding on Young Drinkers Proves to Be Wrong" It seems to me, that is typically the case. The newspapers must have a trunk of "Finding on ____________ Proves to Be Wrong" headlines lying around.

Or a macro.
Noddings? I missed this earlier in running down the list of philosophers, but who in the heck is Noddings? [thanks to Orrin Judd for pointing it out.]

Update. Apparently, the test is referring to Nel Noddings. The entry in the on-line Philosophical Dictionary has this entry:
American philosopher. In her Caring: A Feminine Approach to Ethics and Moral Education (1984) and Women and Evil (1989), Noddings emphasizes the importance of personal relationships as the foundation for ethical conduct. Educating for Intelligent Belief or Unbelief (1993) offers a general account of epistemological values. Her comments on "Excellence as a Guide to Educational Conversation" (1992) are available on line. In Philosophy of Education (1995) Noddings examines in detail the relevance of philosophy—both historical and contemporary—for educational theory and practice.
Or as Wanda (Jamie Lee Curtis) said: "Aristotle was not Belgian, the principle of Buddhism is not "every man for himself," and the London Underground is not a political movement! Those are all mistakes, Otto. I looked them up."
I Kant. I scored way too high on that test vis-a-vis Immanuel Kant. Here's a Catholic critique of Kant which I endorse. Peter Kreeft begins with an anecdote:
Kant was attending a lecture by a materialistic astronomer on the topic of man's place in the universe. The astronomer concluded his lecture with: “So you see that astronomically speaking, man is utterly insignificant.” Kant replied: “Professor, you forgot the most important thing, man is the astronomer.”

Kant, more than any other thinker, gave impetus to the typically modern turn from the objective to the subjective. This may sound fine until we realize that it meant for him the redefinition of truth itself as subjective. And the consequences of this idea have been catastrophic.

If we ever engage in conversation about our faith with unbelievers, we know from experience that the most common obstacle to faith today is not any honest intellectual difficulty, like the problem of evil or the dogma of the trinity, but the assumption that religion cannot possibly concern facts and objective truth at all; that any attempt to convince another person that your faith is true — objectively true, true for everyone — is unthinkable arrogance.
And this is why I'm so distressed to find I have a high Kant level.
The Catholic Clinton. I've got to say that I always thought Clinton was just another version of Nixon -- willing to do anything to save himself, until he finally made Nixon look honorable. Now I think that Boston Cardinal Bernard Law is another Clinton. He must resign. More. More. More. More. More. More'

Update. I'm not Roman Catholic, so you should make of this what you will. I do have a deep respect for the Catholic Church, like one brother for another, so it does grieve me to see it going through this. I want the Catholic Church to be strong and healthy.
Three views of Evil. What a better way to end lunch by dwelling on the three understandings of evil. James Hitchcock, writing in Touchstone, notes the first, oldest understanding was dualism, the second is that good and evil are abstract concepts. The third is that evil is nothing:
It differs from the first in that it does not concede evil an equal place with good and from the second because it affirms the goodness of the world, the loss of which is evil. It does not declare, for example, that losing a loved one is insignificant because human attachments are illusory. Rather, it affirms the good of the universe and defines evil as the privation of that good. Death is evil because it is the loss of life, illness because it is the loss of health, adultery because it is the loss of love and trust.
There is more -- read the essay.
The Offensive Bible. "I don't want the Bible rewritten so it won't offend women. It should offend women--and men, too." So writes Frederica Mathewes-Green with respect to the newest Protestant translation of the Bible. Like Frederica, I find that I'm not on either side -- read her essay -- to cut and paste any portion doesn't do it justice. (And it's not just about the Bible, it also touches on the broader issue of the evolution of the English language.)
Down again. Blogspot is down again -- no reason to mention it -- since no one can read anything. I just want to note it. Oh well, I get more than I pay for. American, a Jew, a trophy. Mark Steyn writes about the Islamofacist scum and their toadies, the Fiskites, the anti-American, anti-west apologists
Is it too much to hope that militant Islam's apologists might finally put an end to their own "misconceptions"? Islam is not "the victim of the world," but the victim of itself. Omar Sheikh is a British public schoolboy, a graduate of the London School of Economics, and, like Osama and Mohammed Atta, a monument to the peculiar burdens of a non-deprived childhood in the Muslim world. Give 'em an e-mail address and they use it for kidnap notes. Give 'em a camcorder and they make a snuff video.

Let's assume that all the chips fell the jihadis' way, that they recruited enough volunteers to be able to kidnap and decapitate every single Jew in Palestine. Then what? Muslims would still be, as General Musharraf told a conference the other day, "the poorest, the most illiterate, the most backward, the most unhealthy, the most unenlightened, the most deprived, and the weakest of all the human race." Who would "the victim of the world" blame next? The evidence of the Sudan, Nigeria, and other parts of Africa suggests that, when there are no Jews to hand, the Islamofascists happily make do with killing Christians. In Kashmir, it's the Hindus' fault. There's always someone.
I'm Frodo. Like I said, I love these things -- except I don't have hairy feet.
Death and Scalia. The Post has a follow-up essay from the student who queried Antonin Scalia a few weeks ago about how he reconciles his Catholicism and his support for the death penalty. I'm opposed to the death penalty, but I found her argument pretty shallow (it's a variation of "he's a neanderthal"). She would do better to read some of the more current blogs, like this one by Rich Hailey. On the other hand, the Edge goes the other way.
Two Decisions. The Court announced two decisions today, both unanimous, both pretty much dealing with procedural matters. In the first, the Court overturned a lower court decision, holding that all prisoners must exhaust administrative remedies before seeking relief in Federal Court. The prisoner, who claimed to have been beaten, wanted to go straight to federal court to get relief, but under a 1995 law had to pursue administrative remedies first. The prisoner tried to say that the 95 law only applied to prison conditions. In the second case, the court rejected the assertion by a multinational insurance company that a fired employee had to make specific allegations of wrongdoing in the initial filings. The court held that the complaint as filed was suffient to proceed.

Now, if I hadn't already told you these were unanimous, but if I told you one was written by Ruth Bader Ginsburg, you'd guess she sided with the elderly plaintiff against the cruel corporation. And if I told you the other was written by Clarence Thomas ("youngest, cruelest justice" - NY Times), you'd guess it was the first. And you'd be wrong.

More on the first case. Go here for a nice essay by Fritz Schranck.
That Heckler's Veto. In a column, linked to by InstaPundit, Steve Chapman writes:
"It's a heckler's veto," says UCLA law professor Eugene Volokh. "Anytime I threaten a guy, he gets arrested and I don't."

But the heckler's veto has been rejected by the Supreme Court over and over, in cases where the threat to public order was far greater than it was this time. In a 1949 case, for example, a man was arrested for disorderly conduct after delivering a speech so inflammatory it produced disturbances in a crowd of some 1,000 people outside the Chicago auditorium where he was speaking. But the court threw out his conviction.
But it's not true that the Supreme Court rejects the heckler's veto. Why, just yesterday, the Court upheld a lower court decision ratifying the heckler's veto, as I noted below. It would be nice if the Court were consistent about this, but some rights are more favored than others.

Monday, February 25, 2002

My Scores. Oh, I love these things, though I don't know how reliable or valid this one is. But, via a shot across my bow, here's a Ethical Philosophy Selector
My scores:
1. Augustine (100%)
2. Aquinas (76%)
3. Kant (75%)
4. Spinoza (70%)
5. Rand (68%)
6. Plato (67%)
7. Aristotle (61%)
8. Bentham (61%)
9. Mill (61%)
10. Sartre (59%)
11. Stoics (56%)
12. Ockham (51%)
13. Hume (50%)
14. Nietzsche (50%)
15. Prescriptivism (47%)
16. Cynics (45%)
17. Epicureans (45%)
18. Noddings (44%)
19. Hobbes (22%)
Yeah, why not, I'll take it.
Breyer on Intellectual Property. The National Journal has a good article covering the importance of being Breyer in the upcoming review of the extension of copyright protection. While Breyer has been uneasy with it, I'll bet he defers to Congress.
Thoughts on the party. My thought at seeing the first report on the "1st British Blogger Bash in London" was that Andy Lamey was right: Libertarians can't get dates. I guess that's why the later pictures were posted. Or are these really from the party? It should be noted that only Perry is in the picture with babes ladies.

[what's the html code for just kidding?]
New Word. In a column a few weeks ago, Peggy Noonan sought contributions:
My second is more frivolous but I've been meaning to mention this for a while, and actually it's not frivolous. Since we have entered the age of weapons of mass destruction, since we are immersed in the fact of them and will no doubt be shaped in part by their existence, we need a way of speaking of them with a phrase that is easier to say and easier to grasp than "weapons of mass destruction" or WMDs. Ideas for a new name for WMDs are welcome, and will be forwarded to the administration.
The way I see it, there are basically four approaches to doing this, the first is to create a new word out of whole cloth, with no antecedent. I'm not feeling particularly creative in that regard, so I'll pass on that one. The remaining three build on existing words or concepts.

One way is to use an acronym, like NIMBY or MEGO, but in this case it doesn't quite work. You could do "madweps" (MassDestructionWeapons), which ain't bad. Then there is always the popular using someone's name, for example, boycott or gerrymander. The obvious choice would be "laden" or "qaeda." I'd reject laden for three reasons: (1) its already a word (2) it is a last name of innocent people, not just muslims, and (3) we don't want bin Laden to be remembered. And while you could apply that last rationale to qaeda, I like the idea of turning their name into a curse.

Oh, and the last approach is the borrowing from older words in combination to form a new one. In this case, you could take from latin as follows. From trucido (-are) meaning "to slaughter , massacre; to demolish, destroy" and arma (-orum) meaning "weapons of war" comes the following: "armatruci." My problem with the last is, as I understand it, and I have no training in Latin, is that arma has more of a defensive meaning, such as its use in armor, and does not adequately convey the aggressive nature of these weapons.

So what do you think? Should I pass these choices on?
Supreme Report. Not much to report from the Supremes today -- all the action seems to be cases which were rejected: the Florida voyeur dorm case (therefore, the webcams will stay on), the Indiana Ten Commandments case (which leaves in place the lower court order barring the replacement of a monument of the decalogue which had been defaced).
Zapped. Something happened to my stellar post on Stuart Taylor's article regarding the Pickering nomination. I'm still trying to figure out if I can retrieve it from the ether.

Sunday, February 24, 2002

Cover Watch. Standing in the checkout line, seeing a nearly identical Time and Newsweek cover (Jamie Sale and David Pelletier) last week got me thinking which one I would buy. Time magazine's cover seemed to focus on justice and redemption for the skaters, whereas Newsweek's cover focused on the Sleazy side of skating -- with the emphasis on sleaze. In my mind, then, there was no question that Time was the winner.

This week, Time features Bono of U2 and asks whether Bono can save the world. On the otherhand, Newsweek hits the sleaze angle again -- "Sex, Shame, and the Catholic Church."

Advantage: Time.
Attack of the Alpha Girls. Seems to be the subject of the weekend. See this long piece in the NY Times and this shorter one in the Washington Post.