Thursday, May 29, 2008



Mark Shea introduces it thus:

Slick Con Man Gives 10 Reasons Why All Religions Except Self-Worship Are Wrong--Especially Christianity

There's so much mud thrown here, so many lies, so much misinformation, and so much ignorance that it's really more than I have time to do to reply to, even assuming the author was remotely interested in a reply. However, I don't think you can make yourself this ignorant of Christianity without working hard at it. Nothing in this world, not even the Nazis, not even Satan is simply and purely evil. The mark of a sane mind is that it can always find *something* good in the worst things, because creation is fundamentally good. So a Christian theologian can point out that God's goodness always retains a toehold in the greatest sinner, whether human or angelic, because without that toehold the sinner would have neither existence, intelligence, power, or will--which are all goods even when they are profoundly perverted.

This guy can see *nothing* good in Christianity at all. He is searching for--he is bound and determined to find--absolutely nothing good there at all. Even when I was a non-Christian, I would have mistrusted him because I would have known that nothing, and certainly not the Christians I had known, was as utterly depraved as he paints. This is a guy with issues--a living embodiment of the biblical maxim, "To the impure, all things are impure." God help him!

One of the things said by the fool is:

Religions are authoritarian hierarchies designed to dominate your free will. They’re power structures that aim to convince you to give away your power for the benefit of those who enjoy dominating people. When you subscribe to a religion, you enroll in a mindless minion training program. Religions don’t market themselves as such, but this is essentially how they operate.

Rriiight. It's like he's known timid, afraid-of-its-own-shadow, let's-not-offend-the-donors-or-the-IRS American Catholicism all of it's life!

As one of the Shea commeters said:

He reads like a secular Jack Chick.

This is another good comment.

Interestingly, he was a Catholic until reaching total intellectual maturity at the age of 17, when atheism struck his fancy. Then, it was off to the races:

While at Berkeley my atheism context was further molded. No longer surrounded by Catholics, I met a lot of interesting people there with a wide variety of belief systems. I quickly made a lot of new friends who were very intelligent, and some were open to discussing the nature of reality. I think my Catholic upbringing was like a coiled spring — as soon as I left behind the environment that kept the spring coiled, I immediately shot to the other end of the spectrum. But I went way too far with it. I not only shed my old religious beliefs, but along with it went my whole concept of morality. I was like the guy in Mark Twain’s short story “The Facts Concerning the Recent Carnival of Crime in Connecticut,” a story about a guy who kills his conscience.

I started embracing all the stuff that was basically the opposite of my upbringing. I completely lost all interest in school and hardly ever went to class. I really didn’t care at all about getting my degree. I went to parties almost every week and drank a lot, one time doing about 14 drinks in a row and waking up with no memory of how I got to bed. I had to ask friends to piece together pieces of the previous night. To this day I’m certain I drank more alcohol before the age of 21 than after (and I’m 34 now).

I also started shoplifting — a lot. The first time I did it simply because it was something I’d never done before, something I could never do as a Catholic. It was like a task to be marked off a checklist. But I soon became addicted to the emotional high of it, and I kept doing it more and more, eventually to the point of doing it several times a day.

I virtually never stole stuff to keep it. I’d give away most of what I stole to other people, or I’d just throw it in the trash afterwards. About a month into my first semester, I got arrested. 4 months probation. I took about a week off and went right back to it, although I became a bit more cautious about it. One week after the probation period ended, I got arrested again and ended up with 40 hours of community service. I did the service, and soon went right back into stealing. But I refined my methods even more, making it much harder for me to get caught. A few close calls only gave me more confidence.

I grew so accustomed to this behavior that I could steal without my heart skipping a beat. No fear. So I had to keep upping the dosage. At first I started setting little goals, like seeing how many large candy bars I could fit in my pockets at once (13), or trying to steal every bottle of white out from the student store in one day (over 50 bottles). Then I just gave away all the candy and white out to fellow students.

I wasn’t doing well in school and was put on academic probation too. They do that when you don’t show up to class. I can’t say I really cared much though.

But things went from bad to worse when I met another student who was about as morally corrupted as I was, and we became fast friends. I stopped doing the (risky) shoplifting, and together we planned and implemented a two-person theft where the odds of getting caught were very low. It worked again and again, and we both started making some actual money from it. To play it safe and not keep hitting the same locations over and over, we expanded our circle to go way beyond Berkeley to an almost 100-mile radius, from San Francisco to Sacramento to Fresno. Over a period of about a year, we gradually escalated each theft to a dollar value that was now well into the grand theft range (at the time any theft above $400). I think our weekend record was about $2400 worth of stuff.

Eventually I got caught again, this time for grand theft. Not good. Before this arrest I had discovered that because of my priors, I’d be looking at about two years in jail if I got convicted of grand theft. Not good at all...

The rest is, no doubt, enlightening.

Stupid Is As Stupid Does

The Anchoress:

My point, I guess, is that the guy [Obama] is no more fluid or perfect in his language than Dubya ever was, but one double-ivy-league grad who is at least bi-lingually clumsy and flew fighter jets is perpetually derided as a moron. The other makes an instantly-forgiven gaffe every day - if he speaks a second language we don’t know it, and he’s “brilliant.”

But what am I thinking? In the world of Ivy-league grads, the democrat ones - only the democrat ones - are always the smartest people on earth.

Excellent Prescription

Great piece by Evan Coyne Maloney.


An overwrought Columbia Journalism Review column declares that the establishment media is a victim of big, bad bloggers and financiers who shockingly believe that:


While it is true that the quickening pace of technological change caught the old media off guard, much of the media’s current predicament is largely of its own making. By intertwining their most valuable differentiator (facts gathered at some expense) with something that’s increasingly ubiquitous and free (opinions), media outlets diminish the perceived value of their product and send a muddled message to news consumers.

Although there are bloggers who have done excellent first-hand reporting, most bloggers are not equipped to compete with the core competency of large news-gathering organizations. Instead, bloggers tend to function as filters, amplifiers, analyzers and fact-checkers for stories that have been reported (and under-reported) by the establishment media.

To put it not-so-flatteringly, we bloggers are parasitic; we synthesize our product by relying on output from the establishment media. But we’re symbiotic parasites, and our existence benefits the media in numerous ways, not the least of which is by driving traffic (and therefore ad revenue) to media websites.

Unfortunately, as this CJR piece shows, some in the media view bloggers as the enemy, a tormentor that must be defeated. By seeing bloggers as direct competitors, outlets put themselves in a position of competing on their greatest weakness while at the same time undermining their greatest strength.

Instead of competing in the arena of gathered facts, many in the traditional media have responded to the rise of online outlets by deciding that they need more opinion in their product, not less. The problem with that is, the news media has been insisting for decades that they’re “objective.” Personally, I don’t think true media objectivity is even possible, but the claim of objectivity becomes even less credible as the media adds more and more opinion to their product.

Yet under the guise of “news analysis,” “putting things in context,” giving “perspective” and “helping you understand,” the news media insists on wrapping what should be its unique product—hard-to-gather facts—in packaging that makes their product look similar to everything else that’s available online for free.

How can media outlets get themselves out of this predicament? They should either embrace opinion journalism fully and drop the pretense of objectivity, or they should get out of the opinion business altogether if they insist on being seen as objective.

The first option would have outlets finally own up to their biases and admit to being in the opinion business, but then they’d compete even more directly with bloggers. This would also pull the media further away from the market that their news-gathering infrastructure is uniquely positioned to serve. But at least by being truthful with news consumers about the perspectives that shape their presentation of the news, some of the media’s tattered credibility might be restored.

The other option is for news outlets to go in the opposite direction and purge the opinion from their offerings. This means that adjectives and adverbs should almost never appear in reporting. It also means that outlets would have to open up all their raw notes, transcripts and other reportorial artifacts for public inspection and stop relying on unnamed sources. Otherwise, only the gullible would continue to believe in the Objectivity Fairy.

If The Fed Had Any Cojones At All

This is what they would do. But they don't so they won't. Why in the world should speculators fear central bankers? I just can't think of any good reasons.


More proof that atheism makes it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled Darwinist.

Pharyngula, listed by the magazine Nature as the top-ranked science blog!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The Final Lunatic Bubble

Two fascinating posts spell out how the current run up in commodities is due to not much more than the exponential runup of yet another bubble. Just like dot coms and housing, this one is also going to crash hard, IMHO. Oil gotten out of the ground for $20 a barrel just ain't worth $130 a barrel. Just like a zero profit, zero revenue dot com firm wasn't worth billions, nor a $250,000 house in Florida worth $750,000.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Honesty About The Future

The Seattle Post Intelligencer, of all places, has an editorial about what the legal institution of the practice known to its proponents as "gay marriage" will mean to religious freedom:

Champagne corks have been popping wherever gays and lesbians gather throughout the Golden State after the California Supreme Court's ruling in In Re Marriage Cases, which opens the way for same-sex couples to legally wed beginning next month. But the gay community shouldn't be celebrating. This decision does next to nothing for California gays and lesbians and causes real harm to people who believe in the "old" definition of marriage. It's nothing to be proud of.

The June weddings that can now be expected for same-sex couples all over California actually will provide little tangible advantage to anyone. California already has a domestic partnership law providing all the state benefits of marriage to same-sex couples, and the federal Defense of Marriage Act prevents all the federal benefits. Sure, gays and lesbians may get a lift in self-esteem from having their relationships declared "equal" by four jurists, but does an ego boost really outweigh the real harm caused by last week's decision?

Because there certainly are harms -- to religious liberty, to give just one example. For the past two weeks, I have been contacting "marriage equality" leaders all over California to ask about the impact of redefining marriage on religious freedom. All, including several prominent lesbian and gay legislators and other leaders, have refused to disclose their opinions, some repeatedly.

Although California marriage-equality leaders won't say what impact they expect the new decision to have on religious freedom, activists in other states haven't been so shy. Openly gay Washington state Sen. Ed Murray, D-Seattle, and a representative of the largest Michigan gay-rights group, the Triangle Foundation, have both told me that people who continue to act as if marriage is a union between a man and a woman should face being fined, fired and even jailed until they relent.

So if a traditionally religious business owner wants to extend his "marriage discount" only to couples married in his eyes, the Triangle Foundation's Sean Kososky says, "If you are a public accommodation and you are open to anyone on Main Street that means you must be open to everyone on Main Street. If they don't do it, that's contempt and they will go to jail."

Seattle's Michael Taylor-Judd, president of the statewide Legal Marriage Alliance, said if a newspaper writes that a given same-sex marriage wasn't really a marriage, "it is certainly in the realm of possibility for someone to bring a (libel) suit, and quite possibly to be successful." Kososky agreed: "I would be sympathetic to some damages. They need to be slapped publicly."

Sharon Malheiro, a lawyer and LGBT activist from Des Moines, Iowa, affiliated with the state's gay-marriage lobby, ONE-IOWA, told me if a teacher in a marriage-equality state taught that marriage is between a man and a woman, "then it becomes a job performance issue" and the school district should take appropriate action.

Now, nobody gay in history has lost his assets, his job or his freedom for writing, teaching and running a business guided by his belief that marriage is a union of any two individuals who love each other. So why do gay activists support limitations on the freedom of speech, the media and religious expression for anyone who disagrees with them?


Gays and lesbians should put away the champagne, work to overturn this ruling and start focusing on LGBT issues that actually matter.

Another Cross-Processed Variation

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Big version here.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Cross-Processed Look

I've finally learned how to get a photo to look like this:

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I used the technique downloadable here.

Tried And Found Wanting

A couple of short but very insightful posts. Here and here.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Finally, The Proof

It's on Jupiter.

UPDATE: From a couple of comments I've received, it is apparently 'fascist' to mention that Jupiter is warming. However, I can't see that the rising temperature of Jupiter has any evident connection to either nationalism or socialism, let alone both.

Einstein On Atheism

Dinesh D'Souza:

Atheists seem very eager to claim Einstein for one of their own. Richard Dawkins devotes a whole section to Einstein in The God Delusion and Christopher Hitchens' Portable Atheist is peppered with Einstein quotations seemingly rejecting all belief in God. Recently an Einstein letter surfaced which showed the great scientist scorning the idea that the Jews were in any sense God's chosen people.

But all that these quotations prove is that Einstein was not an orthodox believer. He rejected the idea of a personal God "who would directly influence the actions of individuals or would sit in judgment on creatures of his own creation." Einstein also rejeted the immortality of the soul, noting that "one life is enough for me."

At the same time, Walter Isaacson in his celebrated new biography Einstein provides ample evidence that Einstein not only believed in a higher or transcendent power, but also that Einstein despised atheists. Here are some quotations, drawn from Isaacson's book with full documentation, that I offer as a needed counterbalance to the one-sided list provided by Dawkins, Hitchens and the others.

Here are a couple of the quotes:

On how he feels about atheist efforts to claim him as an ally: "There are people who say there is no God, but what makes me really angry is that they quote me for support of such views."

On how he regards atheists: "The fanatical atheists...are creatures who cannot her the music of the spheres. I do not share the crusading spirit of the professional atheist. What separates me from most so-called atheists is a feeling of utter humility toward the unattainable secrets of the harmony of the cosmos."

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The Darndest Connections Happen On The Internet

I just discovered that this photo of mine was used to illustrate an automotive paint-repair blog post (although for whatever reason the photo itself no longer appears on the page, but a link to it does). It's a slightly surreal photo of my car which I entitled "Rock Chips, Scratches, And Paw Prints".

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Big version here.

Does Crediting Death With Having Divine Creative Powers Eventually Lead To The Worship Of Death?

I liked this comment at Uncommon Descent:

There is a constant harping from people like Bob O’H on how to calculate CSI [complex specified information, i.e. the hallmark of design] but the real issue is how big the exponents are and not that they are big or not. If CSI is limited to those systems that refer to other functional systems such as computer programs and machine operations, alphabets and language and DNA and proteins then the numbers are so astronomical it is inane to challenge them.

So Bob, while there may not be a precise number to quantify CSI, the number is so large that it is meaningless to challenge it as not being large enough to be the result of chance.

Nit pick away but you know and we know the specific number is incredibly large for each case of CSI. Pick a protein and the instructions that refer to it. Do the calculations and show us how this could result from chance by a process of your choice. Lay out the argument for chance and then maybe we can have a discussion that is not nit picking over trivialities.

I find it ironic that an evolutionary biologist such as Bob or biologists such as specs or leo never defend their positions with facts but who seem to delight in finding slight inconsistencies in often minor arguments by proponents of ID.

Step up to the plate and swing away instead of hurling insults from the rafters that the opponent’s game isn’t going perfectly.

The comment inspires the following line of thought. If Darwinists really could justify the idea that cooperative protein complexes could have come about by unguided means (i.e. probabilistically), then they would simply show the probability calculations that support such a conjecture. One would think that doing so would be a scientific duty for someone putting forth the conjecture. However, what generally happens is this: if a Darwinism doubter begins to do the calculations (which invariably show the absurdity of an unguided genesis for the proteins under question), he is shouted down with the retort (popular with Dawkins and his disciples), "But natural selection is the very opposite of chance!"

So, it seems that natural selection must have some sort of power that makes the creation of biological designs possible (possible?!? hell, virtually certain!) in a way that chance alone could never accomplish. But this is patently absurd. What is the very essence of natural selection, after all? It is death. Organisms that would have gone on to reproduce are instead rendered dead by natural selection.

Let's see how this works. Here I have my huge ensemble of monkeys, typing away, all in the hopes of producing Hamlet. Eventually (bear with me), they will succeed. But I want to use a little natural selection to help things along. I'm getting a little impatient with chance. So I occasionally shoot some fraction of the monkeys. Now, is this really going to bring me closer to getting Hamlet?

Again, "natural selection" is another name for "death". Death is a destructive process. How can chance plus a destructive process improve on chance?

And yet, the Darwinists attribute creative power to this destructive process. In fact, rather than attributing the creative activity to life's intelligent designer, they instead attribute it to death. In short, they make a god out of death. It is ironic (or perhaps fitting) that our culture, which--using Darwin as an excuse--has essentially thrown God overboard, now finds itself in the position of worshiping death via human sacrifice, using the vehicles of abortion and (soon enough) euthanasia.

The Darwinists tell us that death was our creator. As we believe, so shall we worship.

Finally Got A Piece A'The Pie!

Excellent mash-up.

Then I Saw A New Heaven And A New Earth; For The First Heaven And The First Earth Had Passed Away

Saw this at Stephen Bainbridge's blog:

Few Ideas Could Be Worse

Michael Medved on what is known to its proponents as "gay marriage".

One of the points:

The promotion of gay marriage requires the same dismissal of gender differences: if a woman and a man bring utterly distinctive attributes to any marriage then same-sex unions lack the balance, the fusion-of-opposites energy, that constitute the very essence of male-female partnership. If men and women possess fundamental, unavoidable contrasts involving their physical, intellectual, emotional and spiritual realities, then it’s ridiculous to claim that a male-male partnership is the same as a female-female partnership – let alone comparable to the combination of manly and feminine elements that characterize traditional marriage.

In a sense, the position of gay rights advocates has become contradictory. If replacing a bride with a second groom on the wedding cake makes no difference in the nature of the marriage, then a female partner is interchangeable with a male partner. And if the core differences between men and women count for so little, then it’s hard for homosexuals to claim that they can only feel attraction to their own gender. If men and women are, essentially, the same, then why can’t gay people choose opposite sex partners and spare us all the trouble of redefining the nature of marriage and upending the social order?

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

A Couple Of Thomas Sowell Tidbits

From here:

It would be hard to think of a more ridiculous way to make decisions than to transfer those decisions to third parties who pay no price for being wrong. Yet that is what at least half of the bright ideas of the political left amount to.


At one time, to call someone "green" was to disparage them as inexperienced or immature. Today, to call someone green is to exalt them as one of the environmentalist saviors of the planet. But it is amazing how many people are green in both senses. Some people who think it is wrong to tell children to believe in Santa Claus nevertheless think it is all right to tell adults to believe that the government can give the whole population things that we cannot afford ourselves. Believing in Santa Claus is apparently bad for children but OK for adults.


If Barack Obama had given a speech on bowling, it might well have been brilliant and inspiring. But instead he actually tried bowling and threw a gutter ball. The contrast between talking and doing could not have been better illustrated.

Deconstructing The Pompous, Self-Righteous Windbag That Is Obama

David Limbaugh:

Based on Barack Obama's hysterical, paranoid reaction to President Bush's remarks to the Israeli Knesset condemning the practice of appeasing terrorists, one might infer Obama was lying in wait for just such an opportunity to capture some national security street cred.


Obama was so sure Bush's remarks were aimed at him that he shed his nice-guy facade and gave the nation a little glimpse of his inner anger. For those who insist Obama is all sweet and light, I challenge you to listen to his tantrums in response to the president's non-attack.

Obama shouted: "I'm a strong believer in bipartisan foreign policy, but that cause is not served with dishonest, divisive attacks of the sort that we've seen out of George Bush and John McCain over the last couple days. They aren't telling you the truth."

Let me ask you: Where does Barack Obama get off proclaiming himself the high arbiter of civility and bipartisanship while he is engaged in a sputtering tirade of abject incivility and partisanship? Obama apparently expects us to assess his civility not on the basis of his conduct, but solely on the strength of his distorted self-description.

Like so many other liberals, Obama exempts himself from behavioral accountability through identification with liberal policies, which confer upon him the irrebuttable presumption that he is kind and compassionate. But those not subject to the self-deluding spell of liberalism or Obamaphilia will not be fooled by such hypocrisy. They will judge Obama's claim to civility not on his self-elevating but empty words, but on his self-damning, nasty ones.

Obama's joining with other Democrats to bear false witness against President Bush is a perfect example of the type of incivility for which he disingenuously excoriates President Bush.

Obama also decried the president's remarks as "exactly the kind of appalling attack that's divided our country and alienated us from the rest of the world."

No, Sen. Obama, what have divided this country and alienated us from the rest of the world are the nonstop Democratic assaults against President Bush -- assaults that you not only did not condemn as uncivil, dishonest and divisive but also have embraced and echoed.

What has placed America in a falsely negative light to the world is the Democratic chorus of lies that President Bush misled us into war in Iraq; that he is responsible for the killing of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians; that the United States is torturing and otherwise violating the "rights" of our enemy prisoners at Guantanamo Bay; that this very detention center is comparable to a Soviet Gulag or Nazi prison camp; that the Bush government is spying on its own citizens; that America, because of its corporate greed, refuses to lead the world against apocalyptic global warming; and that the heartland of America is inhabited by jingoistic, imperialistic, intolerant, homophobic, xenophobic, racist and reality-challenged Bible-thumpers.

President Bush is not guilty of leveling a partisan attack against Barack Obama in Israel. But if he were to change course after seven long years on the receiving end and start returning cheap shots at Democrats, say, at the rate of 10 per day for the remainder of his term, he still would be behind Democrats in this department by a sizeable multiple. Truly, it amazes me how civil, composed and un-reciprocal President Bush has been in the face of this incessant barrage of partisan vitriol.

Shame on Barack Obama for falsely accusing the president of behavior he and his party have perfected through meticulous practice. Shame on him for pretending that he offers bipartisanship when his actual record is one of extreme liberalism and is strikingly bereft of aisle crossing or compromise. Shame on him for defining bipartisanship and civility, in effect, as acquiescing to his dictates.

Obama likens his own foreign policy approach to that of Presidents Kennedy and Reagan, but reality places him closer to George McGovern or Michael Dukakis. But there is a method to his madness. He has assumed the offense against his Republican rivals to divert our attention from his demonstrable lack of toughness in the war on terror.

All You Need To Know About Obama In 34 Of His Own Words


Rich Corinthian Leather

A blast from the past. H/T Peeve Farm.


Monday, May 19, 2008

Oooh, He Finds It Unacceptable

Hugh Hewitt:

Barack Obama attempted to add Michelle Obama to the category of "those who may not be discussed," a room now full with Jeremiah Wright, William Ayers and Bernadine Dohrn, and Tony Rezko. Here's what Obama had to say this morning:

"The GOP, should I be the nominee, I think can say whatever they want to say about me, my track record," Obama said. "I've been in public life for 20 years. I expect them to pore through everything that I've said, every utterance, every statement. And to paint it in the most undesirable light possible. That's what they do."

"But I do want to say this to the GOP. If they think that they're going to try to make Michelle an issue in this campaign, they should be careful. Because that I find unacceptable," he said.

Obama praised his wife's patriotism and said that for Republicans "to try to distort or to play snippets of her remarks in ways that are unflattering to her I think is just low class ... and especially for people who purport to be promoters of family values, who claim that they are protectors of the values and ideals and the decency of the American people to start attacking my wife in a political campaign I think is detestable."

The level of dishonesty at work here is large. Michelle Obama has made long speeches full of political content in her appearances at campaign rallies made to encourage people to vote for her husband. This makes her a central figure in the campaign.

Many of her ideas are radical, like those of her husband. It is of course wrong to distort or manipulate her remarks, but playing excerpts is not only legitimate but a necessary exercise of the media's job to present the candidate and his closest advisors in full. What lacks class is the attempt to mold the media into an agent of the campaign by whining about how its coverage of speeches and statements is "detestable."

Michelle Obama's rhetoric has been full of appeals to the victim mentality, stuffed with angry rhetoric about "moving bars" and the climate of fear in the country.

Now her husband is trying to intimidate political coverage, to create a zone in which Michelle Obama and other associates can say or do anything and yet have it defined as irrelevant to his candidacy. That is a radical demand on the media, and while some in the MSM may agree to it as part of its campaign to get Obama elected, self-respecting professionals won't be intimidated and they won't be issued free passes to Mrs. Obama or any other figure that looms large in Obama's life.

Ed Morrissey adds his two cents.


If Obama doesn’t want his wife to receive criticism, then he shouldn’t use her as a surrogate on the campaign trail. Whatever she says on the stump at campaign events is fair game for criticism, just as it has been with Bill Clinton. Obama’s camp has unloaded on the former President for statements he made about Hillary’s loss in South Carolina and several other incidents in which they believe Bill played the race card to explain Obama’s success. Bill’s not running for anything this year, but he has made himself a public figure in this primary race, and his statements are also legitimate targets for attack.


Toughen up, buttercup, and stop whining about criticism of speeches at political events. If you can’t handle that much, you have no business running for re-election to your current job, let alone for the presidency.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Interesting That They Would Rip Off Wiker Wholesale, But Turn Around And Misrepresent Behe, Who Is On Wiker's Side Of The Issue

I continue to be singularly unimpressed with Darwinist's basic honesty and ability to say anything substantive against ID. The latest example detailed here. I'd seen the list referred to a day or two ago, and found it quite curious that it would mention a number of books that could only have been written and believed in in an intellectual culture where Darwinism held sway, and then go on to inaccurately trash a book arguing against Darwinism. Totally inconsistent. And now, it turns out, a flagrant rip-off.

Relevant Fields Of Expertise Go Well Beyond Biology

Oh, if I had a nickel for every time I read someone saying something along the lines of "non-biologists have no standing to critique Darwinism!". My own response is along the lines of "I'm sorry, but non-engineers, and non-systems theorists, and non-information theorists have no standing to assess the question of design vs non-design!"

This comment sums it up well:

Sigh . . .

Re FDSA, 30:

Interesting factoid:
According to the About page on this site, only one or two of the contributors/friends (Red and Lee) have any credentials related to Biology. Yet this blog is one of the prime sources of criticism for it. Interesting…

FDSA, you have this precisely backwards:

1 –> Science works by empirically anchored inference to best explanation, and when predictions [especially unexpected ones] are confirmed, then it lends high credit to a given theory. (And of course empirical disconfirmation hurts a theory; directly or indirectly as it has to build up so much of an ad hoc patchwork to cover gaps that it loses credibility.)

2 –> Predictions include not only those within the formal range of a theory, but the implication of what can be called bridging concepts. For, when a theory or research programme opens up a bridge to another domain in science, suddenly it is exposed to the full range of data and explanation from that domain, which often leads to exciting times. (Think of the power of the Newtonian synthesis in C17 - 18 when it bridged the earth and the heavens through one theoretical framework.)

3 –> As the always linked through my handle [LH column] Section A, discusses, this has happened to modern biology ever since the turn of the 1950’s, once it was discovered that the DNA molecule was a code-bearing information storage molecule, with associated computer language, algorithms and algorithm-implementing companion nanomachines.

4 –> Thus, a bridge was opened to the knowledge base of the fields of information theory, computer science and associated domains in mathematics etc. This immediately means that knowledge and expertise in this cluster of fields is highly relevant to evaluating the credibility of darwinian thought on origins of life and biodiversity.

5 –> The theory of intelligent design in part [there are other domains that it addresses] addresses that bridge, and it powerfully shows that evolutionary materialist paradigm is in deep trouble, and why.

6 –> In very compressed summary, mechanical necessity accounts for natural regularities [low contingency]. Where there is high contingency, chance and/or intelligence are implicated, and we have a reliable filter for identifying sufficiently complex, functionally specified cases of complex organization.

7 –> Namely, if something exhibits functionally specified complex information and so would exhaust the probabilistic resources of the cosmos to find it through random walks or the equivalent [i.e. per Marks & Dembski, it is active, insightful information injected by intelligence that significantly outperforms random search] in the relevant configuration space, then we are well-warranted to infer to intelligence as the cause. (For instance, we would find it incredible to see a claim that this post was created by lucky noise.)

9 –> DNA exhibits an extreme case of such FSCI: 300 - 500,000 4-state elements at the lower end, up to ~ 3 - 4 bn at the upper end. Just 300k bases is a config space of ~9.94 * 10^180,617, and even if we were to see 10^1,500 islands of functionality of 10^150 states each, these would be so isolated in the available space that no undirected search on the scope of our observed cosmos [~ 10^150 quantum states across its lifetime] would be likely to find even one such state.

10 –> And if one posits instead a quasi-infinite array of sub cosmi to expand the available search resources, one is indulging in ad hoc, empirically unsupported metaphysical speculation. The inference that on what we know about the origin of FSCI intelligence is the best explanation for DNA-based life, gains force from seeing the other major live option being forced to such a resort!

Consequently, FDSA, biologists and their intellectual kin no longer have an intellectual monopoly on speaking with relevant expertise on matters linked to the origin of and diversity manifested by DNA-based life.

Thus, too, the importance of a blog like this one, where those knowledgeable in the bridged-to fields can have their say without being “expelled.”


Saturday, May 17, 2008

Good Work If You Can Get It

Cleaning the Space Needle. Some pretty amazing photos. (H/T American Digest)

Here's one:

Before And After

In case you ever wondered precisely what kind of Photoshop work is done on magazine cover photos (the page contains an animated before and after .gif file).

See also this.

And this Newsweek article (Newsweek, like the rest of the MSM, has plenty of expertise about the various ways reality can be airbrushed).

Chairman Obama Leads The Happy Workers In Song

And because of this, God greatly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Obama every knee should bend, of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Obama is Lord.

I wonder how nauseating all this is going to get?


Danny Lemieux sent me a link to what must be one of the clearest statements ever written about the media fetish regarding Democratic candidates generally, and Obama specifically. The author is Gerard Baker, writing in the London Times. After describing media love affairs with presidential candidates from Kennedy on up, Baker gets to the meat of the matter:

The alert among you will have noticed by now that what all these spiritually uplifting leaders have in common. They are all Democrats. Never in any of the chapters of this hagiography does a Republican, a conservative, appear in a remotely similar light. These alien creatures by contrast have always been portrayed as cartoonish representatives of the Dark Side of humanity, or, if they were really lucky, simply idiots, failed B-movie actors and irredeemably ignorant hicks with embarrassingly neanderthal views on women, religion and communism.

It’s been a while coming - neither Al Gore in 2000 (before the luminescence created by his recent joint Nobel/Oscar triumphs) nor John Kerry in 2004 quite fit the bill. But it’s fairly clear now that, with the near-certain nomination by the Democrats of Barack Obama everything is in place for the media to indulge in one of the greatest, orgiastic media fiestas of hero-worship since Elvis Presley.

You will not see a finer example of the genre than the cover story of this week’s Newsweek, which was entitled “The O Team”. This rhapsodic inside account of Senator Obama’s campaign reads a little like a cross between Father Alban Butler’s Life of St Francis and the sort of authorised biography of Kim Jong Il you can pick up in any good bookshop in Pyongyang.

Mr Obama is portrayed throughout as an immanently benevolent figure. Not human really, more a comforting presence, a light source. He is always eager to listen to all aides of an argument, always instilling confidence in the weak-willed, resolutely sticking to his high principles and tirelessly spurning the low road of electoral politics. I stopped reading after a while but I’m sure by the end he was healing the sick, comforting the dying, restoring sight to the blind and setting prisoners free.

Great Quotes

Highlighted by The Anchoress:

Can Somebody Explain to Me how Obama sat in Wright’s church for 20 years and managed never to hear anything, but hears 20 seconds of a Bush speech that doesn’t mention him and perceives a shameful personal attack? - Andy McCarthy


Ed Morrissey notes that Obama (and the Dems) have very clumsily managed to own the appeasement label. Really not ready for prime-time:

Obama and his surrogates drew those connections themselves. Instead of acknowledging the historical truth of appeasement’s failures, they chose to argue with it. Obama could have taken the smart route and embraced it to explain how he understands the lessons of appeasement, which is why his talks with Iran would not result in it. Instead, he got volcanically defensive, which suggests that even Obama sees the parallels between his everything’s-on-the-table approach and the Chamberlain diplomacy which resulted in dismantling Czechoslovakia.


Well said:

Here, in two paragraphs, is why I will be voting for McCain this November. Taken from his remarks to the NRA:

Senator Obama has said, if elected, he will withdraw Americans from Iraq quickly no matter what the situation on the ground is and no matter what U.S. military commanders advise. But if we withdraw prematurely from Iraq, al Qaeda in Iraq will survive, proclaim victory and continue to provoke sectarian tensions that, while they have been subdued by the success of the surge, still exist, and are ripe for provocation by al Qaeda. Civil war in Iraq could easily descend into genocide, and destabilize the entire region as neighboring powers come to the aid of their favored factions. A reckless and premature withdrawal would be a terrible defeat for our security interests and our values. Iran will view it as a victory, and the biggest state supporter of terrorists, a country with nuclear ambitions and a stated desire to destroy the Sta te of Israel, will see its influence in the Middle East grow significantly.

The consequences of our defeat would threaten us for years, and those who argue for premature withdrawal, as both Senators Obama and Clinton do, are arguing for a course that would eventually draw us into a wider and more difficult war that would entail far greater dangers and sacrifices than we have suffered to date. Thanks to the counterinsurgency instigated by General Petreaus, after four years of terribly costly mistakes, we have a realistic chance to succeed in helping the forces of political reconciliation prevail in Iraq, and the democratically elected Iraqi Government, with a professional and competent Iraqi army, impose its authority throughout the country and defend its borders. We have a realistic chance of denying al Qaeda any sanctuary in Iraq. We have a realistic chance of leaving behind in Iraq a force for stability and peace in the region, and not a cause for a wider and far more dangerous war. I do not argue against withdrawal because I am indifferent to war and the suffering it inflicts on too many American families. I hold my position because I hate war, and I know very well and very personally how grievous its wages are. But I know, too, that we must sometimes pay those wages to avoid paying even higher ones later. I want our soldiers home, too, just as quickly as we can bring them back without risking everything they suffered for, and burdening them with greater sacrifices in the years ahead. That I will not do. I have spent my life in service to my country, and I will never, never, never risk her security for the sake of my own ambitions. I will defend her, and all her freedoms, so help me God. And I ask you to help me in that good cause. Thank you, and God bless you.
McCain experienced the horrors of war firsthand, but knows that we must do what we must do to preserve our great nation.

Obama thinks the horrors of war consist in having to wear a flag pin just because people who didn't edit the Harvard Review are dying overseas to keep your scrawny ass safe in the homeland. And it's too much for him to bear!

I've never been a fan of McCain, and I'm sure I'll have plenty to bitch about under a President McCain. But come November, I'll have no trouble picking my candidate.

Friday, May 16, 2008

"Feds To Raid Isolated, Black-Robed California Sect"


(2008-05-16) — Federal agents and National Guard troops surrounded the gleaming white temple-like San Francisco enclave of an isolationist sect after the black-robed “high priests” of the group yesterday declared themselves to be above the laws of the state

In a move reminiscent of recent raids on polygamist compounds elsewhere, authorities prepared to seize documents and computers, and to rescue any young interns or clerks who might have fallen victim to the cult’s bizarre, extra-legal rituals.

Yesterday, the “Supreme” leaders of the sect briefly emerged from hiding to issue a declaration overriding two state laws and loosening the definition of marriage to include “any practice or lifestyle the prohibition of which might make one feel discriminated against.”

“We’d like this siege to end peacefully,” said a Justice Department spokesman, “but these people need to know that this is still the United States of America. You can’t set up your own sovereign nation within its borders, and make up your own set of rules that counter the will of the people and violate the law of the land.”

Not Much To Disagree With Here

If homosexuals manage to turn marriage into a depraved, sick joke, it's only because they are following in the footsteps of heterosexuals. Here's a great post looking at this (and mentioning the resultant coming threats to the free practice of religion).

The Dying Voice Of Sanity

One of the dissenting California justices, as quoted by Hugh Hewitt:

Only one other American state recognizes the right the majority announces today. So far, Congress, and virtually every court to consider the issue, has rejected it. Nothing in our Constitution, express or implicit, compels the majority’s startling conclusion that the age-old understanding of marriage —an understanding recently confirmed by an initiative law — is no longer valid. California statutes already recognize same-sex unions and grant them all the substantive legal rights this state can bestow. If there is to be a further sea change in the social and legal understanding of marriage itself, that evolution should occur by similar democratic means. The majority forecloses this ordinary democratic process, and, in doing so, oversteps its authority....

But a bare majority of this court, not satisfied with the pace of democratic change, now abruptly forestalls that process and substitutes, by judicial fiat, its own social policy views for those expressed by the People themselves.Undeterred by the strong weight of state and federal law and authority, the majority invents a new constitutional right, immune from the ordinary process of legislative consideration. The majority finds that our Constitution suddenly demands no less than a permanent redefinition of marriage, regardless of the popular will....

I cannot join this exercise in legal jujitsu, by which the Legislature’s own weight is used against it to create a constitutional right from whole cloth, defeat the People’s will, and invalidate a statute otherwise immune from legislative interference. Though the majority insists otherwise, its pronouncement seriously oversteps the judicial power. The majority purports to apply certain fundamentalprovisions of the state Constitution, but it runs afoul of another just as fundamental— article III, section 3, the separation of powers clause. This clause declares that “[t]he powers of state government are legislative, executive, and judicial,” and that“[p]ersons charged with the exercise of one power may not exercise either of the others” except as the Constitution itself specifically provides. (Italics added.)

History confirms the importance of the judiciary’s constitutional role as a check against majoritarian abuse. Still, courts must use caution when exercising the potentially transformative authority to articulate constitutional rights. Otherwise, judges with limited accountability risk infringing upon our society’s most basic shared premise — the People’s general right, directly or through their chosen legislators, to decide fundamental issues of public policy for themselves.

Judicial restraint is particularly appropriate where, as here, the claimed constitutional entitlement is of recent conception and challenges the most fundamental assumption about a basic social institution.

The majority has violated these principles. It simply does not have the right to erase, then recast, the age-old definition of marriage, as virtually all societies have understood it, in order to satisfy its own contemporary notions of equality and justice.

In My Day, We All Talked On Tin Can Phones. And We Liked It!

Charles Hugh Smith (and I agree with his assessment):

Here is a visual depiction of the much-vaunted social networking phenomenon: a phony Western town facade, a transparent attempt to simulate a real community.


If you have teenagers, or are close to teenagers, you've seen the progression: as young teens, they're enamoured with Neopets--at first with the cartoonish pets, the "locales," the games and buying and bidding (such good training for adult consumption!) and then later with the "social networking" aspects.

Once they've burned out on Neopets and their poor neopets are starving (luckily, neopets are not able to simply die from inattention from their distracted owners), then they move on to Gaia or an equivalent teen social networking site.

Here they learn that social networking is mostly about interacting with existing friends on a new forum; so in addition to email, IM'ing and talking on the phone, they can post goofy messages and so on to their friends at school.

By about 12 or 13 they're ready to enter the "bigtime" of Myspace and/or Facebook, and they quickly upload the usual panoply of "identity tags"--weird photos of themselves, their friends (again, virtually all are existing acquaintenances except for the ubiquitous "Tom"), lists of favorite songs, etc.--a continuation of the model of "identity defined by what I passively consume," as lists of mass-media corporate consumables (bands, music, etc.) define an individual or provide "tags" of their personality.

The "joy" on these later-teen sites, of course, revolves around a few "activities":

1. mindless one-line messages with current friends, "communication" which could just as easily been posted as an IM or email

2. competing with siblings/pals on who has the most ersatz "friends"

3. being "edgy" via posting racy photos, listing obscure bands, etc. and making personal page as cluttered and unreadable as possible

4. Playing private detective and searching for acquaintance's home pages or pursuing some other slightly illicit-feeling voyeurism, such as visiting the pages of deceased teenagers.

Adults who venture onto these networks make feeble stabs at either copying the teenagers (more lists of favorite bands, arrghh! Why no "lists of my favorite phenomenological philosophers"?) or joining one of the thousands of forums populated with zombies (people who joined and never showed up since) or a handful of folks who try to keep some thread or topic alive.

The conversation on these forums is very similar if not identical to blog comment threads-- people you don't know and don't care about posting comments which have little value other than the simulacrum of "dialog." I suppose some people have met their future mates or good buddies on these forums but I suspect the numbers are infinitesimal compared to the tens of millions of registered users.

Once the teens tire of the project of adding flashing bits and edgy slogans, etc. to their personal pages, and the "communication" with "friends" becomes tiresome (you might as well tell them in person tomorrow at school or IM them) then they drop out of these social networks as well, usually before they even start college.

The ersatz "Western town" has only so many attractions, and within a relatively short time the social networkers have dropped out or moved on to World of Warcraft or Second Life, similar iterations of the Potemkin Online Syndrome (POS) which engages them for some period of time (weeks, months or perhaps a few years at best) and then the whole project of simulated community and connection wears thin once again, for the dissatisfactory reality of simulacrums is all that remains after the distractions fray and the ennui and boredom set in.

Meanwhile, the marketers who spotted the fake town from afar were salivating at the rich prospects for bending young impressionable minds into consuming their products. Like a pack of ravenous canines, they gleefully poured into the "community." Imagine their dismay when they discover they have conquered an empty facade town, devoid of actual community and populated by either the ghosts of former "inhabitants" (their accounts still alive but the owner long gone) or zombies on their way to the next empty facade-town and next online simulacrum of the community all humans seek.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Orson Scott Card On ID vs Darwinism

A good read. Upshot seems to be that ID should be rejected as science, but then so should Darwinism, and for the same reasons.


Science thus becomes a game -- you are allowed to play only within the rules. But within that sandbox, scientists have made extraordinary discoveries that have transformed our understanding and our lives.

The tragedy is that many scientists forget that the assumption of mechanical causation has not been proven and cannot be. It is a natural human trait to want to believe that what we accomplish in our lives is real, that is has permanent, lasting value. Not all people are able to maintain the humility of a true scientist -- knowing that all his work will inevitably be contradicted, amplified, or otherwise redone by somebody else. And it is profoundly annoying to some of them, at least, to have to admit that they are only playing a game.

No! It's the real world we're dealing with!

But it's not. It's guesses about the real world, and only guesses that pertain to mechanical cause.

Today, though, we have many scientists who think they're saying something intelligent when they proclaim that this or that discovery makes it "no longer necessary to believe in God."

The necessity of believing in God is not a topic that science can even address. No scientist is competent, using the tools of science, to make even the slightest useful remark on the subject. But the Darwinists refuse to admit that they are making an enormous leap of faith when they say, "We can explain everything without reference to God."

Even if this statement were remotely truthful, it would still have this unspoken limitation: Ability to explain things without reference to God does not prove or even indicate the nonexistence of God.

And the statement is not truthful. It is invariably made by scientists working in fields where we are most ignorant. When scientists began to study molecular psychology, for instance, we started getting ludicrous, unscientific statements like, "There is no longer any reason to believe in the existence of the soul."

Such statements are always accompanied by clear indications that what we're seeing is faith and hope (but not charity): "Within ten years, scientists expect that we will know/be able to/understand/learn ..."

Yeah, right. That's a guess, folks. Wishful thinking.

In the case of Darwinism, however, the faith is no longer justified. Darwin, working in an era before we understood the workings of the cell, simply had no way of knowing just how complicated things could get. Clearly "random variation plus natural selection" is not a sufficient explanation.

Ben Stein's movie clearly documents the fact that Darwinists are trying to ban good scientists from the field, not because (or not just because) they believe in God, but because they question the dogmas of Darwinism and publicly point out the flaws in the Darwinian model.

Ours Is An Astrological Age

Good comments:

Is it just me or does it also seem that the logical path of reductionist materialism is very much like astrology. Our actions and thoughts are guided by the purposeless arrangement of atoms in our brains, which are balanced against all other matter and force in the cosmos…so the gravitational arrangement of planetary masses and the stars ‘above’ at the time of one’s birth would very much affect their personality, wouldn’t it? :)


Todd, it’s not just you !

“One sees this also in his discussion of astrology, which he (Dawkins) attacks not only as false, but as fraught with “sad human consequences.” But one of the problems with materialism is that it is little different from astrology in its human consequences. What is the difference between believing that one’s actions are dictated by the orbits of the planets and believing that they are dictated by the orbits of the electrons in one’s brain?”
Stephen Barr (First Things Aug/Sep 1999)

The Word Became Flesh Once And For All

Excellent Mark Shea piece.

I especially liked:

DeWaay makes it clear that directing modern Christians to these ancient Romish practices is apostasy from the True Faith, because such practices are not explicitly mentioned in Scripture (unlike, say, terms like "sola scriptura," "evidentialist, and presuppositional apologetics," "total depravity," "limited atonement," "unconditional election," "salvation by faith alone," and "Bible," which were constantly on the lips of our Lord and His apostles).

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Bumper Sticker

I just saw a good one:

Peace Begins In The Womb

I also saw a slogan once that was along the lines of "The single most dangerous place in this country is a mother's womb."

A corollary to "Peace Begins In The Womb", a corollary that is all too applicable to all too many is:

Preening Pacifism Begins With Support Of Abortion

The Greatest Of These Is Change

A mailer Obama is using in Kentucky. Leftists, of course, are outraged by the mixing of politics and religion.

A few edits to 1 Corinthians and we have the new and improved theological virtues (Faith, Hope, Change):

If I speak in human and angelic tongues but do not have change, I am a resounding gong or a clashing cymbal.

And if I have the gift of prophecy and comprehend all mysteries and all knowledge; if I have all faith so as to move mountains but do not have change, I am nothing.

If I give away everything I own, and if I hand my body over so that I may boast but do not have change, I gain nothing.

Change is patient, change is kind. It is not jealous, (change) is not pompous, it is not inflated,

it is not rude, it does not seek its own interests, it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury,

it does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth.

It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Change never fails. If there are prophecies, they will be brought to nothing; if tongues, they will cease; if knowledge, it will be brought to nothing.

For we know partially and we prophesy partially,

but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away.

When I was a child, I used to talk as a child, think as a child, reason as a child; when I became a man, I put aside childish things.

At present we see indistinctly, as in a mirror, but then face to face. At present I know partially; then I shall know fully, as I am fully known.

So faith, hope, change remain, these three; but the greatest of these is change.

More details here.

ADD Nation

We're so easily distractable!


If Barack Obama gets his way, the Oxford English Dictionary will have updated its definition of “distraction” by the end of the campaign: “Diversion of the mind, attention, etc., from any object or course that tends to advance the political interests of Barack Obama.”

After his blowout win in North Carolina last week, Obama turned to framing the rules of the general election ahead, warning in his victory speech of “efforts to distract us.” The chief distracter happens to be the man standing between Obama and the White House, John McCain, who will “use the very same playbook that his side has used time after time in election after election.”

Ah, yes, the famous distractions with which Republicans fool unwitting Americans. Ronald Reagan distracted them with the Iranian hostage crisis, high inflation and unemployment, gas lines, and the loss of American prestige abroad. Then, the first George Bush distracted them with the notion of a third Reagan term, as well as the issues of taxes, crime, and volunteerism. After a brief interlude of national focus during two Clinton terms, another Bush arrived wielding the dark art of distraction.

Forget “bitter”; Obama must believe that most Americans suffer from an attention-deficit disorder so crippling that they can’t concentrate on their own interests or values.

Obama has an acute self-interest in so diagnosing the American electorate. His campaign knows he’s vulnerable to the charge of being an elitist liberal. Unable to argue the facts, it wants to argue the law — defining his weaknesses as off-limits.

The campaign can succeed in imposing these rules on the race only if the news media cooperate. Newsweek signed up for the effort in a cover story that reads like a 3,400-word elaboration of the “distraction” passage of Obama’s victory speech. “The Republican Party has been successfully scaring voters since 1968,” it says, through “innuendo and code.” McCain “may not be able to resist casting doubt on Obama’s patriotism,” and there’s a question whether he can or wants to “rein in the merchants of slime and sellers of hate.”

Here are the Obama rules in detail: He can’t be called a “liberal” (“the same names and labels they pin on everyone,” as Obama puts it); his toughness on the war on terror can’t be questioned (“attempts to play on our fears”); his extreme positions on social issues can’t be exposed (“the same efforts to distract us from the issues that affect our lives” and “turn us against each other”); and his Chicago background too is off-limits (“pouncing on every gaffe and association and fake controversy”). Besides that, it should be a freewheeling and spirited campaign...

We Were Too Incompetent To See The Iceberg, But Trust Our Expertise: This Ship Will Not Sink

Good article by Dean Baker titled "Wrong then, wrong again: The same economists who failed to spot this year's financial meltdown are now predicting that everything will soon be fine."

Monday, May 12, 2008

Funny Things Happen When People Put Aside Their Preconceptions


Speaking of, it may interest some of you to know that I just finished reading ‘Mere Christianity’ by C.S. Lewis. John Hawkins sent it off my Amazon Wish List for my birthday and as I’ve already told him, it was a truly fine gift.

The value in a book like that is not necessarily that it’ll turn any atheist or agnostic into a Christian, but I don’t think that was Lewis’ goal in any case. What a book like that is 100% successful at doing, for me at least, is explaining why intelligent people choose Christianity.

I’ll be perfectly honest: I’ve spent many, many years refusing to accept the idea that a truly rational, reasonable, smart adult could sincerely believe in any religion, including Christianity. It’s not that I didn’t try; I did. I used to spend hours “debating” with my dad on his back patio about this very subject. The reason he was never able to convince me is that those conversations happened when I was about 22 to 25 years old and still fantastically smug and sure that I’d figured things out that other people hadn’t because I was so much more introspective and thoughtful and all that happy [foolishness].

(To put it into perspective, around that same time I also argued with my dad about whether or not it was any big deal that Bill Clinton was a lying sack of lies. I took the “no” stance. I thought I was being appropriately cynical but really I was being an intractable idiot.)

Anyway, what I always thought was my second biggest trump card was that there are so many Christians who are bad people (the primary trump card being the abject suffering of children throughout time and throughout the world). So many losers and [jerks] and liars calling themselves Christian, particularly certain ministers and preachers I’d known growing up. Dad told me again and again and again that the mistake I was making was that I hated the message because of the messenger and that one of the marks of a true adult is that they stop doing that, and instead analyze the message itself. Well, I didn’t bother doing that until lately, and do you want to know something? I really have been an arrogant prick about religion. I have. I own it.

That doesn’t mean I’ve decided Christianity is the One True Religion and that I’ve been wrong about everything. I still have legitimate and reasonable questions and issues with any organized religion. What it does mean is that after reading Lewis, I genuinely feel compelled to apologize to certain people (including many of you from past comment threads about religion) for assuming you simply hadn’t thought things through enough and that’s why you are Christians. There are plenty of people like that, but this morning I went back and read those threads, and didn’t come across a single one of you saying that you were Christian just because it’s what your mama told you. Which is what I always assumed, wrongly.

I’ll even go one step further and admit that I’ve realized lately that part of my problem with the whole subject was that I was doing exactly what I so very much HATE for other people to do: projecting. I assumed the majority of you who are Christian were such because either someone told you to be or more to the point, because you didn’t know any better, simply because you had not bothered to do the research. Well, hello. My name is Rachl Lukis and guess what? I hadn’t bothered to do the research.

One line from Lewis’ book that actually made me laugh out loud (at myself) was that if people “cannot understand books written for grown-ups, they should not talk about them”. I’ve mentioned before that I’ve read the Bible a couple of times, but the thing is, I didn’t read it as a real grown-up. The last time I read it, I was actively looking for faults to prove that I was right. I wasn’t truly being objective and considering it in a historical or scholarly context.

It’s difficult to articulate on a blog why I’m even bothering trying to learn about Christianity now because as I’ve mentioned before, I hate being misunderstood. The truth is that I am not exactly seeking salvation or God or anything like that, and frankly if I were, I would not talk about it with virtual strangers at this stage of the game. At this moment, my biggest aim is simply trying to relieve myself of the terrifying feeling I’ve had for years that I live in a society full of and run by people who believe a theology I don’t believe in, and that therefore I am surrounded by crazy people. It’s a bit of cognitive dissonance that I simply couldn’t take anymore.

Is my dad a crazy person? Are 90% of the people who read my blog crazy people? Are most of my friends crazy people? If I think Christianity is crazy, then the only answer to those questions is YES. But it just never added up. I had to know how they could believe something that I do not think is real and somehow not be crazy. That’s why I started asking about it here and why I started reading books like the Lewis one. And I have to tell you that the mission has been accomplished. It’s not even remotely “crazy” to believe in Christianity, and Christians have perfectly sound reasons to believe what they do, even if I disagree with some of their conclusions.


Truth is, after reading the Lewis book and some other stuff online over the last few weeks, and then going back and reading my own posts about religion, I felt like an ass for being so flippant, smug, and dismissive in the past. I really did. And since I think it’s awesome when people admit things like that, I decided to be awesome and admit things like that.

Personally, I Find Listening To Obama Just As Deeply Annoying As Listening To Any Of These Others

But that's just me. Others are worried that he's not annoying.


It worries me that I don't mind listening to Obama. I don't mean what he actually says, of course, which is either airy nonsense or garden variety hyper-liberal utopianism, but his manner of talking. As he talks, he actually seems to be translating current thoughts into words, to be engaging in what we used to call conversation. He doesn't yell. His voice rises and falls at appropriate moments. He has humor. He benefits from possession of a pleasantly modulated, mellifluous voice that tends to calm and sooth rather than to excite.

Compare that to the speech patterns of those inflicted on us by recent history, as either presidents or would-be presidents.

In the late 70's I had to turn off any electronic device that brought the sanctimonious, unctuous Carter into my house. My skin crawled when he spoke.

I grabbed just about as quickly for the power switch when the humorless, trite, lethally boring Mondale or Dukakis started to talk.

Reagan, of course, was a brief exception -- a man America liked to listen to -- but that was a long time ago, and even Reagan, in the later years of his presidency, as he aged, had his problems without a written text.

Bush Senior never encountered a thought he couldn't mangle in English, so actually listening to him was not only like work, but unpleasant.

The raspy-voiced Clinton (Bill), contrary to popular myth, was also a hard listen, not just because he usually seemed to be recovering from bronchitis, but because he was always cutting too fine a point and bloviating a one minute thought into a thirty minute verbal assault. And in the latter stages of his presidency, of course, his infamously loathsome conduct made one immediately wonder, when his voice was heard, whether the women-folk were safely inside the house and the silverware secured.

Gore, so far as I'm aware, has never really talked at all, rather, he has yelled, raged and fulminated, an unfailingly loud, angry and desperate-seeming man -- attacks of nervousness and temporary hearing loss were always risks when he was on, so with him, too, people tended to move the dial to the "off" position.

Kerry was so flat-out nauseating when he spoke it was hard to keep food down; no event, however serious, up to and including the end of the universe, could possibly warrant all that faux Brahmin-accented, relentlessly ponderous, fake gravity.

Clinton (Hillary) may well have lost the nomination because of her unfortunate speaking voice, combined with her curse of invariably sounding rehearsed and false; but mostly it was the voice, grating, harsh, vocal chords all used up, a mediocre mezzo ten years past advisable retirement.

And then there is our present President. This is hard for me, because I genuinely like and respect the man, and I admire his major decisions, choices and policies. To me he is an enormously sympathetic figure, especially now, in the final agony of his unfairly pilloried presidency. Posterity will be much kinder to him than his contemporaries have been. Kinder to him, I said, not to his use of language. He can't talk extemporaneously. Period. He admits it, jokes about it and there are no dissenters from this truth.

In sum, it's been a long time since the White House occupant, or anyone with a serious chance of becoming one, has been easy to listen to. As long as one disregards what he's actually saying, which, as I say, many normal people automatically do when listening to a politician, Obama is pretty easy on the ears. This salutary gift, and the personal likeability that comes with it, is going to be a considerable asset in his coming struggle against (yet another) verbally challenged Republican.

Sure Obama is affable. But he obviously calculates each and every word, and I very quickly found his "student council president/too cool for this room" shtick to be tiresome in the extreme. Especially since it is mostly content-free, and the trace levels of content that is there is highly objectionable.

Great Impersonation

This is good. Many more here.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Hillary's Nuclear Option

Interesting take on things at the American Thinker.

When The Inmates Run The Asylum


A RACIAL-HARASSMENT NIGHTMARE: "In November, I was found guilty of 'racial harassment' for reading a public-library book on a university campus." The book was an anti-Klan book, but the $106,000-a-year affirmative-action officer didn't want to hear the truth from the janitor who was reading it. Race and class on the modern university campus . . . . Excerpt:

A friend reacted to the finding with, "That's impossible!" He's right. You can't commit racial harassment by reading an anti-Klan history.

For months, I felt isolated and dejected. Yet I knew that most of the faculty, staff and students at Indiana University were good people. The campus is a growing, thriving part of Indy, where people of all colors and religions come to study.

But the $106,000-a-year affirmative-action officer who declared me guilty of "racial harassment" never spoke to me or examined the book. My own union - the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees - sent an obtuse shop steward to stifle my freedom to read. He told me, "You could be fired," that reading the book was "like bringing pornography to work."

Shame on the affirmative-action people and my union for displaying their ignorance and incompetence. Their pusillanimous actions, in trying to ban Tucker's anti-Klan history book, played into the hands of the hateful KKK.

After months of stonewalling, the university withdrew the charge, thanks to pressure from the press, the American Civil Liberties Union and a group called the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, or FIRE.

F.I.R.E. does good work. And congrats to the ACLU and the press here, too.

Uncomprehending Bigotry On Parade

In response to this, we have this.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

LOLCat Find

humorous pictures
more cat pictures

Taking A Bold Stand For The Rights Of The Weakest Among Us


As one commenter said:

Funny how this young black man of 2008, expounding on a 7 to 2 ruling by the Supreme Court in Roe v. Wade sounds EXACTLY like the white southern slaveholders of 1858 expounding on a 7 to 2 ruling by the Supreme Court in Dred Scott v. Sanford. “Slaveholding/ abortion is a Constitutional right! And that means you have no right to challenge it!”

Another commenter asks:

Why do gay people even care about a abortion? Isn’t it kind of an academic issue for them?

Well, no, of course it is not an academic issue for them. Abortion is absolutely necessary to secure the ontological separation of sex and procreation. The "right" to sodomy is constructed on the very graves of the unborn.

However, I do not in any way blame gays for creating the overall predicament. It was heterosexuals who first severed the link through their embracement of contraception.

Radically Overgenerous Benefits That Cannot Be Paid Will Not Be Paid


Michael Shedlock:

Cities and municipalities have been promising government workers more in salaries and pension benefits than can possibly be met. Unfunded liabilities are mounting and the ticking time bomb finally went off. What had to happen, did. Vallejo California Declared Bankruptcy.

The North Bay city of 117,000 now heads into largely uncharted territory, as no California city of this size has ever opted for this route. "This has been a long frustrating process for everyone," said City Manager Joseph Tanner. "There are no winners here tonight."

My Comment: I disagree. Taxpayers of Vallejo are winners, perhaps more so than if a deal was struck.

After about four hours of discussion and public comment from the standing-room-only crowd, the council voted 7-0 to approve Tanner's recommendation to declare Chapter 9 bankruptcy protection as a means to reorganize its finances, which have been shattered by spiraling public employee salaries and the plummeting housing market.

The move allows the city to freeze its debts while maintaining city services. Police, fire and other unions and many in the audience were outraged at the move, accusing the council of poor leadership.

My Comment: There was indeed poor leadership in Vallejo. Failed leadership is decades old. Year after year Vallejo has agreed to contracts the city could not afford. This move attempts to correct the error.

The city and its police and fire unions held a final contract negotiating session Sunday but failed to reach an agreement before Tuesday's City Council meeting.

The city and its public safety unions have been at the bargaining table for about two years. The city is asking for its police and firefighters to take salary, benefit and staff cuts, while the unions say any further cuts would endanger public safety as well as the safety of the police and firefighters.

My Comment: Exactly how does a cut in pay or benefits endanger public safety or the safety of the workers? Clearly it doesn't. This was all or nothing hardball by the unions and it could be a fatal mistake. Pension benefits will now be under court review. Anything goes.

Vallejo spends 74 percent of its $80 million general fund budget on public safety salaries, significantly higher than the state average. The generous contracts are the result of deals struck in the 1970s, following a police strike that left the city in turmoil.

My Comment: If I was a Vallejo taxpayer, this is what I would be asking: What special talents does the firefighter and police force in Vallejo have that merit "significantly higher than the state average" wages and benefits?

The City Council had been split on whether to declare bankruptcy. Some, including Mayor Osby Davis, said the stigma would threaten the city's long-term economic development and discourage investors, while others said it would give the city time to restructure its budget and offer protection from creditors.

What's unknown is whether bankruptcy will dissolve the city's labor contracts, which most City Hall staffers say is the primary reason for the city's financial mess. A judge will have to decide whether to dissolve the contracts.

My Comment: Taxpayers everywhere should be rooting for those contracts to be dissolved. And if that happens, it will set a nice precedent for renegotiating all unaffordable government contracts, which is to say thousands of city and municipal contracts across the nation.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

The Guys Who Didn't Know That The Credit Crisis Was Ahead Of Us Now Say That The Worst Of The Credit Crisis Is Behind Us

Just sayin'.


Wishful Thinking

American Thinker on how the Dems can avoid a 1972 replay. Of course, that would require foresight and reason, and that's simply not who the Dems are.


Every signal says the party would be better off with Hillary, and the natural move would be to embrace her and abandon Barack. After all, the process still allows a shift. Why should Barack get the nomination just because the Reverend Wright story didn't unfold until late in the primary season?

The choice between Barack and Hillary is a scary one for Democrats, but it would be easy if they just trusted the process. It's somewhat confusing why they've allowed themselves to be trapped in this box of needing to have Obama be the winner. Is it because of the cash that Barack has showered upon superdelegates?

Allowing Democracy to follow its course wouldn't be so difficult. First, explain to everyone that this is a normal part of the nominating process -- sometimes, at the end of it all, the primaries fail to yield a winner. Happily, though, there's a failsafe built in to resolve the situation -- we go to round two. In round two, the party leaders (superdelegates) get to vote. They are not asked to rubber stamp the leading candidate, otherwise they'd be of no value and their unique status would never have been created. Their job is to use their wisdom and experience and concern for the interests of the party to steer the best candidate to the nomination. To suggest otherwise is silliness.


What we will see next from Democrats is not wisdom, however, but a rush to failure. At a time when superdelegates should start flipping to Hillary, we'll continue to see them announcing for Barack at moments orchestrated by his campaign.

They're heading the wrong way because Clintons make Democrats feel dirty, because Barack is their fantasy, and because they're scared about losing all the new voters they've been signing up, whom they consider to be the future of the party.

Here's the question that Democrats must answer: Is the party's commitment to Barack Obama more important than this election? If his hold on them is strong enough, they'll give him the nomination and throw the election. If not, they'll send him back to the bench to wait for next time, and give the nomination to the only Democrat in the race with the chance to be president -- and the first woman president in U.S. history, at that.

That may not warm the hearts of liberals like a good long toke on the great bong of Barack, but they've got to admit, it's far better than spending the next six months trying to explain why working class folk should embrace the party of Bill Ayers and Bernadine Dohrn.

He's Not Clear On Just Who Is The Messiah

The American Spectator has a good piece about Obama's fairly evident agnosticism.





Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Derbyshire Receives Some Well-Earned Ridicule

Now, this is good.


Gagdad Bob puts Michelle on the couch.


Michelle, Dumbbell, These Are Words That Go Together Well

I would prefer to write about a happier subject than Michelle Obama -- and few subjects are more unhappy -- but I just can't get her dumb-as-a-stump speech out of my mind. Hugh Hewitt was playing it on the radio yesterday afternoon, so I heard parts of it on the drive home from work. It was an odd juxtaposition. Driving up the coast, to the left of me, the beautiful blue Pacific. But further to the left of me, the bluest waves of bleak rhetoric you'll ever hear coming out of the piehole of a would-be first lady.

I'm just kidding about the "dumbbell" crack, of course. I don't really believe Michelle is stupid. Rather, I believe she's psycho. To put it another way, never mark something down to stupidity when it is much more easily explained by mental illness. Hewitt took some callers during the speech, and to a person, everyone thought she was not just deranged, but palpably disturbing in a way that only an unhinged person can be, since they are leaking their mind parasites all over the place, to such an extent that they are the last person to notice them. As the PowerLine boys put it, "she is woefully deficient in the ability to see herself as others see her."


I am reminded of P.J. O'Rourke's "graduation speech," in which he mocks those who complain that "Some people make more money than others. Some are rich while others are poor. We'd better close that 'income disparity gap.' It's not fair!"

"Well, I am here to advocate for unfairness. I've got a 10-year-old at home. She's always saying, 'That's not fair.' When she says this, I say, 'Honey, you're cute. That's not fair. Your family is pretty well off. That's not fair. You were born in America. That's not fair. Darling, you had better pray to God that things don't start getting fair for you.'"

That's what I want to say to Michelle Obama: Damn right, life isn't fair. It's not fair that someone as dense as you attended Harvard law school. It's not fair that you pull down $$273,618 for being a "vice president of community and external affairs," whatever that is. It's not fair that that crook Tony Rezko sold you that prime lot at such a discount. It's not fair that the liberal media are in the tank for your husband. It's not fair that he's going to surrender to our enemies, placing me and my family in jeopardy. It's not fair that American blacks are the most wealthy and prosperous the world has ever known. And most of all, it's not fair that your husband made a million bucks from his vacuous book, The Audacity of Hope, but Gagdad Bob hasn't even seen a royalty check for his spiritual classic!


Mark Shea:

Ever Notice How Any Catholic Who Supports a Dem Candidate is Always "Devout"?

If you are actually devout, you will never call yourself devout. You're too busy living life to go around reminding everybody you are "devout". If you are not devout, but trying to coax a vote out of somebody, you will use the word "devout"about yourself. You may also follow it up with stern declarations about the Primacy of Conscience allowing you to do whatever the hell you like, such as ""My oath privately between me and God was defined in the Catholic church by Pius XXIII and Pope Paul VI in the Vatican II!" That way, you can be John Kerry and be pious while telling the Magisterium to go hell. If you are not Catholic, and you are trying to sell yourself to Catholics, you will describe as "devout" any supporter who is a carbon-based life form with a pulse that shows up in Church now and then because, well, that's the AP style manual term for "Catholics who have been to Mass sometime in the past couple of years who support abortion, gay marriage, and like to talk about being green."

So, for instance, it turns out Michael Moore is a "devout Catholic" despite the fact that he holds much of the Church's teaching in contempt. Mia Farrow? "Devout Catholic." James Carroll? "Devout Catholic". Andy Warhol? Devout. Garry Wills? Devout. Nancy Pelosi? Devout. Kevin Smith? Devout.

Now, I'm not making any claims about the state of the souls of any of these folks. What do I know? I'm, rather, making claims about the cliche-ridden state of American journalists whom no mortal power can restrain from sticking the adjective "devout" in front of "Catholic". I'm sick of journalism where Catholics are all "devout" and busses are perpetually "plunging".

UPDATE: Shea fleshes this out a bit more in this article.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Flame Responsibly

This just plain rocks. We're not exactly on the same page, but close enough.

Berlinski Gives Derbyshire What For

Good stuff.


Nicely stated:

The universe either made itself or it was made. Any argument supporting either alternative automatically opposes the other. This is why neither of these competing cosmogonies can be honestly advanced without at least contemplating its opposite, either philosophically or scientifically.


Dawkins’ determination to render a creator “improbable” does not provide a compelling basis for treating an intellectually respectable issue — whether God exists — as if it were a question firmly settled in the negative. Observations that call into question the self-creative adequacy of the universe abound all across the natural sciences from astronomy to biochemistry to genetics to paleontology to zoology and back, but since arguments against atheistic evolution are automatically arguments for an intelligent designer, they are being censored with increasing fervor as a matter of public policy. Scholars who admit to the slightest suspicion that the universe did not generate and organize itself are often professionally intimidated (sometimes even “expelled”), casting a chill over scientific inquiry as it relates to origins.

Most scientists or laymen who conclude that intelligent design best explains the complexity of the universe do so not because they are, in Dawkins’ language, “lying for Jesus,” but because they have been impressed with the scientific evidences for design and/or have thought through a sequence of reasoning similar to the following:

1) Something is eternal. If there had ever been absolutely nothing, that condition would have persisted.

2) Biological life is evidently not eternal, being represented by organisms that without exception come from similar temporarily living organisms and then die.

3) Matter-energy is evidently not eternal, as it inescapably spends itself with every energy transaction at a net cost to the whole system. This process cannot have gone on eternally, because it would culminate in the eventual “heat death” of the universe in some finite amount of time (barring the oscillating universe mythology that belongs somewhere beyond science fiction).

4) Our consistent experience is that mind manipulates matter, not vice-versa, suggesting that an eternal mind having formed matter is more plausible than matter having created information-rich structures such as the human mind. Here, and with the next point, the “design demands a designer” argument fits.

5) Our consistent experience is that every effect must have an adequate cause. Thus, the universe viewed as a sequence of causes and effects points back to a first cause which is itself uncaused (see point No. 1 above). Just as logically, the universe viewed as a single huge effect also requires a sufficient cause outside itself.

The fact that these arguments are centuries old and have a venerable philosophical pedigree does not diminish their cogency or their relevance to a 21st century debate. Similarly, the existence of vigorous but time-worn rebuttals against these arguments cannot legitimately turn a two-sided issue into a closed question. The doctrinaire teaching of spontaneous macroevolution and the authoritarian stonewalling of intelligent design seeks to do exactly that by penalizing skepticism about the materialist world view and its central article of faith.