Thursday, August 31, 2006

About Huck...

Forget what I said about Mike Huckabee. Draft Fred Thompson in 2008!

(ht Glenn Reynolds -- I'm only repeating it here to spread the meme.)

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Monday, August 28, 2006

My Own Cultural Bias

So I saw an article on the sidebar over at Fox News with the title "Turkey Blast Kills 3". My immediate thought was Uh oh... some rednecks fired up the deep fryer a little too soon before Thanksgiving....

Turns out what actually happened is much worse.


Thursday, August 24, 2006

How To Survive an Alien Invasion, part 1

There's been plenty written on how to survive an attack by hordes of the living dead, for example, meh (That's the sound a link makes!). But what about the altogether more plausible scenario of an alien invasion. I've decided to write a continuing series of posts on this topic, each covering a unique tactic for surviving should alien overlords attempt to invade, conquer, annihilate, or otherwise annoy the human race. Of course, the prime assumption here is that it is an actual invasion of some sort, rather than the ugly death-ray-from-space-without-warning scenario most prominently played out in the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy docu-drama. There's just no helping that, without, say, a rebel alliance on your side or something.

Anywho, the format will go something like this: First, I'll provide the premise (since there are so many fiendish ways that aliens could invade, of course!), and then, I'll address at least one tactic by which the alien threat can be mitigated in at least some minor capacity. All for the good of mankind, mind you.

So without further ado:

Premise: Aliens infiltrate the planet by appearing to look just like us! Alternately, aliens make themselves known to us in some dramatic way, but again, they look just like humans.

Tactic: Before such an invasion happens (e.g., RIGHT NOW!), we must destroy every copy of any Looney Tunes cartoon, merchandise, recording, or other paraphernalia that exists. Why? Because I think no human, or at least no American citizen, fails to recall with deep understading the entire Looney Tunes milieu. Thus, that gives us a unique cultural identifier by which we can recognize one another in the face of this hidden invation. We can ask use the completion of catchphrases to identify one another ("What's up", says one person, "Doc", says the other, confirming his humanity), or simple trivia questions that only a human steeped in the lore of Looney Tunes would know. I have picked Looney Tunes because of its universal appeal, the fact that it has never explicitly been boycotted by Baptists, and its characters are, I feel, more memorable and uniquely human than, say, Disney's -- prone to human strengths as well as weaknesses. Of course, we must destroy such physical reminders because, as soon as the aliens invade, they can intercept our broadcasts, pilfer our stores, etc., and break our codes. Sorta like what would have happened if the Navajo Code Talkers had left their Navajo-English Dictionaries just lying around for any old Nazi to find back in WW2.

Following this principle also gives Americans a distinct advantage over non-americans, which is always good. I think Europe is already invaded by aliens anyhow. Only thing that makes sense, really.

More to come...

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We Need To Talk.

Sit down.

Take a deep breath.

Clear your mind.

Purge from your mind the names "McCain", "Giuliani", "Romney", "Frist", and any others that fit into this category.


Now, say it with me:

President Mike Huckabee

He's got my vote.

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Monday, August 21, 2006

This Ought To Be Fun

So my wife and I decided to do the unthinkable: we cancelled cable! Seriously, we are now without any form of cable television. It also seems that the "air" stations barely come in, if at all. Such is the downfall of living in a valley. Maybe we'll have to get a bigger antenna in order to watch "House" or "24" next season.

Apart from my freshman year of college, this will mark the first time since cable TV became available in Arkansas (my parents were early adopters) that I have been without cable television for an extended period of time. Personally, I don't see this as problematic. TV thinks I'm stupid, and for this, I forsake it by and large. I rely on the internet (which we have not cancelled) for all my news these days, as well as the largest proportion of my own entertainment, thanks to a wireless internet router and a laptop, and a penchant for gaming both online and off. My wife, on the other hand (whose idea this was initially), might have a harder time without HGTV and TLC. Plus, boredom brought on by a lack of TV might inspire her to plan activities for the both of us, thereby infringing on my own aforementioned chosen form of entertainment. We'll see how that goes.

Overall, though, after the initial decompression and withdrawl, I expect this to be a good and momentous thing for us.


And This Is News... Why?

Must be a slow news day, what with the manhunt closing down an entire university, JonBenet's killer doing... whatever it is he's doing, Saddam's second trial getting underway, Iran rebuffing the UN with regard to nukes, and other ho-hum, mundane, boring things going on. But for whatever reason, both Fox News AND CNN have found it newsworthy that -- get this -- a church has DARED to prohibit a WOMAN from teaching Sunday school to MEN! (Fox link) (CNN link).

I mean, it's not like it's a Biblical principle or anything. And it's not like Christian churches have a responsibility to teach scripture without adding to or taking away anything from it.

But seriously, though, I'm trying really hard to figure out why this is news. It's a single church in a small town in New York, which just happens to be following the foundational document of its whole and singular purpose as it is written. Many, many, many churches do this already, not the least of which is, oh, the . Some, myself included, would argue that any church which claims to believe in the perfection of scripture must do this. It's not like this is some sort of "new" thing, or noteworthy in any respect.

My only guess is that some AP writer with connections got wind of this (probably from a sympathizer of the poor woman who lost her "job", although I know of no church in existence which actually pays, or even employs in a formal sense, its sunday school teachers), and has an axe to grind with the... ahem... "phallocratic patriarchy" that is the Bible-believing Christian church. (Sorry for that. I was trying to think like an AP writer there for a second).

Sometimes I play coy with my own positions on issues in order to make a point. This time, however, I'll be blunt: It is abundantly clear that a Christian church that claims the Bible as its sole source of theological authority must not allow a woman to take a place of authority over a man within the confines of the church structure. This does not require an elaborate defense to justify: it is God's will as expressed unambiguously in Scripture, and as such, it is not to be questioned (again, with the prerequisite that one believes that Scripture is perfect and authoritative).

Outside the church, all is fair. If a woman can fulfill the role of a job as well as or better than a man, then I'm all for her taking that position, irrespective of her gender. I'd even support women in armed combat if they were required to perform at exactly the same level as men during training and evaluation (and presumaby passed such training and evaluation). Woman President of the United States? Sure, if she's got a proven track record and supports enough of the same positions I do (sorry, Hillary and, sadly, Condi).

Of course, I once had a conversation on this topic which led down a very interesting path: what if there are no men within a church willing or able to lead and/or teach with Godly authority? Should a Godly woman then step up and take command? This leads to a bit of a paradox: while not required to be perfect (Hebrews 5:1-3, for example), church leaders are certainly required to be above reproach, and are definitely held to a higher standard than lay people (1 Timothy 3). Thus, if a woman were to step up to this role, she would be diminishing her character by acting unscripturally, thus reducing her effectiveness in the role. And the Enemy is well known for acting on even a single flaw (in this case, "flexing" Scripture to patch up an emergency) to bring down the Body of Christ.

Not that I believe God, in His infinite wisdom, would never allow such a thing, or even inspire it to happen. After all, it would be a grevious failing of men to allow such a situation to occur in the first place, in which there are no Godly leaders among the men of a church, and in such a situation, perhaps God might require extraordinary measures to rectify the situation. But I leave that in God's hands.

But I will take my point even further. Very popular among Evangelicals right now is an author by the name of Beth Moore. My wife is a big fan. Now, from what my wife tells me, Beth Moore has, from the onset, targeted women in her ministry. I have flipped through one of her books, and it's clearly aimed at women. Let me go out of my way to say that I support that sort of thing wholeheartedly -- in many, many areas, a woman is vastly more qualified to teach and connect with women than any man is or could ever hope to be. Since my wife went through a women's group Bible study written by Beth Moore, she has grown spiritually in amazing ways that have enriched both our lives. So women most assuredly have a Godly place in church ministry.

BUT -- here's where I draw the line -- some men have begun going through her studies as well. This puts the woman certainly in a teaching position above the man, and given the way these sorts of things work, it can also put her in a position of authority over that man as well. To my knowledge, she has never attempted to recruit men into her ministry, and as such, the failing is on the men in this case. But that may also be a failing of our contemporary society, if the teachings of a woman directed at women, regarding women's issues, speaks so strongly to these men. But I won't get into that right now.

Final note: if the woman in the article was teaching sunday school to children who happened to be boys, then I'd probably withdraw my objections altogether. Not that I can verify that this is underscored scripturally, but I hardly think they qualify as "men". Upon my own reading of the Bible as a whole, it seems to me that "children" form a class of people separate from both men and women, and thus, are not covered by the prohibition in 1 Timothy. But I'm willing to be proven wrong on that account.

Update: Apparently all is not as it seems. Forgive the fact that I don't have linkable goodness, but I DID read somewhere last night that the 1 Timothy excuse was merely just that -- a reasonable excuse to terminate the woman's position. Apparently they had other issues with her that were "not fit to discuss in public", and just chose to use that policy as a diplomatic solution to the problem.

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Thursday, August 17, 2006

Identity Versus Survival

Wow! So many posts in two days! Now if people were just reading this...

So I saw how the federal judge struck down the warrantless wiretaps, not too terribly long after the SCOTUS ruled against the government in the Hamdan case, in which it applied Geneva conventions to terrorist which, by any fair reading of those conventions, are not applicable. And that hot on the heels of the NYT spilling the beans on the SWIFT program to track terrorists' financial transactions!

Without delving too deeply, let us, temporarily, give the benefit of the doubt to both the judges and the media involved in all these (and related) developments (please, stop laughing and just keep reading). Let us suppose, for the moment, that these individuals are not motivated by a hatred of George Bush (again, no laughing), or a cowardly fear of Islamic Fascism (and the giggling), or a self-loathing of all things Western and Capitalistic (yes, you in the back, contain yourself), or even sympathy to those who would destroy us (fine, laugh, but laugh on the inside).

Let us suppose, rather, that these people genuinely have an ideal for this country, in which the government is completely transparent, honest, and uncorrupt; that in no way attempts to torture, coerce, or otherwise denigrate our enemies except on the lawful field of battle; that we value personal freedom, privacy, freedom of association, and equal rights for all "citizens of the world" regardless of nationality; etc., ad nauseam. Let us also assume, for the sake of argument, that all of these positions have merit.

Thus, again following this line of logic, and again with the above assumptions in place (perhaps requiring an almost insurmountable suspension of disbelief), these people might argue that they are struggling for the maintainence of America's identity in which all of these things hold true, and that is why they expose these government programs, or make these judicial rulings, etc.

Of course, fair-minded people would also argue that, yes, these programs do indeed make us safer from terrorism. Keeping known and undisputed terrorists and enemies of the country locked up keeps them from killing us. Coercive interrogation helps us stop their plots better. Tracking their finances enables us to catch them. Ditto for warrantless wiretaps. The list goes on. The above-mentioned individuals, however, are (as my specious argument goes) weighing this security with less importance than maintaining our unique "American Identity".

This brings me to my point: suppose this is a true dichotomy: "maintain" and die, or adapt and survive. If this is the true belief of the judges, the media, and the Bush-haters (but I repeat myself), they would have us stay "the same" (in their perhaps naive and false world view), as an idealized "Free Society", which puts us at considerably greater risk, and may ultimately destroy us. On the other side of that coin, we sacrifice some of our freedoms, but we live to debate the merits of that strategy.

*** Disclaimer ***: I am not saying "we must sacrifice our freedoms or die". I recognize that I have set up a false dichotomy. Moreover, I also do not ascribe to these individuals the motives I have given them above, at least as a whole. I am just trying to stimulate some discussion and thought on the issue, as my title suggests, of identity versus survival.

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The First To Declare A New Conspiracy Theory!

Let me be the (presumably) first person to postulate the following conspiracy theory:

George Bush planted the JonBenet Ramsey killer story because he knew the federal judge would be ruling negatively on the warrantless wiretapping case and wanted to deflect attention from it! John Mark Karr is a CIA operative! ChimpyMcBu$hitlerburton! blaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrggggggggggggggghhhh!

(tin foil hat properly adjusted)

Ah, that's better. The gamma rays are now being deflected, and I feel much better!

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Another Sort of Bias

Anybody with a brain and a web browser can prove the media has a liberal bias. Shooting fish in a barrel, that is. But there's another sort of bias that's on brazen display today in the media that I'd like to point out:

The media is biased towards stupid.

For proof, I offer the front pages of both Fox News and CNN today. Guess what CNN's "feature article" (the one that gets a picture on their front page) is? Of course, it's the JonBenet Ramsey killer. Over at Fox? They've got TWO SEPARATE WINDOWS (Fox usually has multiple pictured windows on their front page) for the case, as if it couldn't be contained by only one!

Now, I don't mean to diminish the tragedy of that little girl's death. But it's been 10 years! I think the other headlines of current, pressing world events merit more coverage, nay, even sensationalism, than this case!

Also, in an above paragraph, I didn't mean to imply that Fox is somehow sleazier than CNN since they have TWO boxes instead of only one on the case. Nay, CNN also features as one of its "top headlines" the amazing, earth-shattering news of "Britney: Pregnancy No. 2 'just kind of happened'" Holy Crap, stop the presses!!!

Stuck on stupid is clearly non-partisan.

Update: A federal judge just struck down the warrantless wiretaps the government had been doing. On both FOX and CNN, this warrants only a headline in the regular headline section, and guess what? JonBenet still fills the windows! Oh, and I just watched CNN during lunch, and there was quite literally only a single topic of discussion -- not even a "breaking news" interruption for the ruling. Ugh.


Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Happy Deathday!

Many of you may know that today, August 16th, "celebrates" the commemoration of Elvis Presley's death some years ago. It is a strange coincidence in my family that, not only does this day lie on my brother Sam's birthday, but my own birthday lies on January 8, which of course is Elvis Presley's birthday. So we (or, at least, I) have always felt a certain mystical bond with The King in a strange, not-really-important way.

I guess what I'm really trying to say is "Happy 32nd Birthday, Sam!" Good Lord, you're old.


The Truth: Easy To See, Hard To Look At

Dean Barnett, posting for Hugh Hewitt over at his blog, once again drives home the point: they (the Islamic fascists) hate us for who we are, not what we do. Despite academia and the MSM's best efforts to find the "complex truth" underlying this hate, he points to an example of Michael Ledeen being called "simplistic" in his views re: the Middle East by that great sage of our time, Alan Colmes. He then makes the great point that the Truth itself is that simple, but it's "easy to see, (but) hard to look at".

Read the whole post, which I agree with wholeheartedly. But here's what got me thinking: that aphorism about the truth applies on so many levels, and most importantly, to the level of theology. How often do we attempt to twist our ethical and moral rules to fit some preconceived notion or desire, when the truth (as attested by, for example, Scripture) is written plainly, unambiguously, and for all to see? Social/moral issues such as homosexuality, divorce, promiscuity, etc., (and, yes, even abortion) fit into this category perfectly.

Now, I'm only applying this rule to self-professed Christians (and possibly Jews, in some cases), who claim to believe that the Bible is indeed God's word. The number of people who fit into that category, and yet still contort themselves into all sorts of embarrassing positions to justify their own desires (to be contorted into embarrassing positions, in many cases!), surprise me. I even have family members that fit into this mold on some issues. Scripture is very clear on many current, topical issues, (i.e., it's "easy to see"), but because we cannot bring ourselves to accept this truth, as it would be "inconvenient" or "unfair", we refuse to "look at it". You know the routine -- "Oh, that only applies to the culture, at that time" or "That's not what he really means by that!" (I'm reminded here of Monty Python's Life Of Brian -- the scene in which one distant onlooker to the Sermon on the Mount mis-hears it as "Blessed are the cheese makers", to which another, "enlightened" onlooker says in a perfectly snooty tone, "Well, obviously, this is not meant to be taken literally. It refers to any manufacturers of dairy products."

I think the maxim "easy to see, hard to look at" might be a corollary to Occam's Razor.

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