Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Socialized Medicine

Matthew Yglesias is writing about the Democrat vision for the future. And its (tada!) healthcare!
The main topic area where liberals are basically agreed amongst ourselves on a fairly clear goal is health care. There's a wide variety of programmatic and tactical disagreement, but at the middle level of analysis liberals think that all Americans should have health care and that the government should spend and/or regulate in necessary and proper ways to achieve this goal. And I don't think it's a surprise that health care is consistently the Democrats' strongest issue.
The problem with the healthcare debate is that the the solution is always "socialize it." It might be at the federal level or the state level like the system in Tennessee that just shut down. Perhaps it will be called socialized medicine or "a single payer system" but thats the answer. For at least the last decade it gets trotted out thinking that the taxpayers and voters want it.

The problem is that it is a horrible answer that few people like. Why?
  1. The whole paradigm of the thing is wrong. If there is anything the Cold War taught us its that the free market kicks centralization's ass. Anyone who wants to can see what government run health care will look like, just go to a VA hospital. It's not a pretty sight.
  2. We can't afford it. The costs of these socialization schemes are immense and the country is already in debt. Or you can make the states pay for it, which didn't work in Tennessee and is just moving the costs around anyway. It all amounts to higher taxes nobody wants.
  3. Equality in health care is a fiction. Doctors are not milspec cookie-cutter men stamped out at the MD factory. I worked in biomedical engineering long enough to know that the most important variable in care is the ability of the doctor and there are only so many good ones.
  4. So, it all comes down to scarcity. There is only so many medical resources (doctors, drugs, money, etc). There is a nigh-infinite demand for them because we are all mortal. Good medical care means you live through one disease to get sick again with something else. So what you are really fighting for is who gets to make the decisions. Is it a government beaurocrat, an insurance industry beaurocrat, or a hospital beaurocrat? Getting the point?
Its not a winner is it? Right I didn't think so either.

If the liberals really want to get on top in this country again, they'd look around and realize the cusp of where they are. They have accomplished all their major goals. The intelligent path is running on a fiscal responsibility ticket based around shrinking the deficit and increasing government efficiency. You know, like Clinton did. They'd look at reforming their current programs to run less expensively using more modern management principles.

But I don't see this happening. They'll just move on to more and more unrealistic goals like the aforementioned socialized medicine, eradicating poverty, ending all bigotry. You know, the kind of stuff you can't actually do in the real world and still respect the vital individual rights liberalism used to stand for.

Liberals unfortunately don't seem to get this turning point we have reached. So instead the deficit reduction and government rebalance will likely occur under a peacetime Republican. I won't be crying.

Chelsea on the Square Apartments

I'm writing this so that if someone runs "Chelsea on the Square" through Google this will hopefully show up. I have put a similar review up on Apartmentratings.com, but it is anonymous for reasons I will talk about later. I personally don't put a lot of stock in anonymous reviews so I'm also writing something here where I can stand behind it.

I lived in the Chelsea on the Square apartment complex for a little over two years. I moved in mid-august of 2002 and left at the end of September of 2004. Regular readers of this blog might remember this from mid to late September.

If you are thinking of moving to Chelsea, please rethink your decision. The folks at Chelsea are marketing their apartments as higher end rooms similar to Town & Country properties like Christina Mill or Stonegate. They are priced accordingly. Since I now live in Christina Mill, I can tell you it is not worth it. While my rent is slightly higher at Christina Mill and my apartment is smaller, I end up saving money because:
  1. Insurance costs for car and apartment are significantly less
  2. I have my own laundry facilities in my apartment
  3. I control my heat/AC for my apartment
In my first year at Chelsea I only had minor problems:
  • The dishwasher broke and was promptly replaced.
  • I used Viking for cable/phone/internet and a storm wrecked their DSL internet for several months. They reran several lines and fixed the problem. Finally they fixed it more permanently by migrating the complex to cable modems.
  • The washing machines in the laundry room next door would overflow and soak the wall I shared with them. I even had wet carpet. The maintenance personnel "fixed" this so the laundry room floor was the only thing that got wet and slippery.
My first year was rocky, but by the end of it I was pretty confident that the problems had been fixed or were bearable.

Unfortunately my second year was far worse than the first. During my second year:
  • My phone line started spontaneously disconnecting my calls. Viking fixed this problem.
  • My cable, which is brought in on satellite, started going out in bad weather. This was never fixed.
  • My apartment was water damaged again by a leaky pipe and then a clogged AC condensation drain. Both were from the apartment above me. This was sorted out in a few days in the first case and overnight in the second.
  • My AC unit shorted out during the middle of July. It was fixed after a week of 80 and 90 degree weather.
  • The boilers in my complex started having problems around Thanksgiving of 2003. This means that I would either lose heat or hot water or both depending on which boiler was having trouble. When notified maintenance would restart the boiler, but this would barely last a day. They were fixed more permanently several times but it never took.
The truth is that these apartments were built in the 1970s. The good part is that they have large floorplans and fairly good sound insulation. The bad part is that the complex has spent most of its money on making them look good, not fixing the aging internals like wiring and plumbing which get band-aids.

I moved out at the end of September and left notice of this 60 days in advance. I reiterated myself 30 days in advance when I signed a one month lease extension. Somehow they missed all this. Instead they claimed I failed to provide notice and continued to charge me for the apartment until it was reoccupied. They informed me that they were keeping my deposit (I had wondered what had happened to that) and wanted additional money. That was my last straw. The apartmentratings review was anonymous because I had no written proof that I had given notice, so I wanted to prevent any libel claims should they have permanently misplaced it.

I left a message with their account manager on Friday. Yesterday, they found my original notice in my file. It had not been processed properly and so they didn't realize that I had given it at all. Oops for them. They are now refunding my deposit in full and they are very apologetic. They damn well better be after holding my deposit for two months.

With this post I can finally close the book on Chelsea on the Square. One of the things I try to do in life is learn from other people's mistakes. Please learn from mine. For God sakes, live somewhere else.

Grrr Stupid Blogger!

NOTE TO WHOMEVER CODES BLOGGER: If my login lapses while I am writing a post, save the damn thing to a buffer (or as a draft) when I hit "Publish". Don't send me to a login screen and make me lose all my work. This has happened enough times, especially if blogger is running slow and times out, that it has gotten really annoying.

Ported Handguns

I'm not a fan of ported handguns. Neither is Teddy Jacobson.

For those not in the know, porting is when you drill holes in the barrel of a gun so that you can use exhaust gases to help control recoil. This is especially important in powerful but small guns like the ultralight titanium and scandium revolvers in .357 magnum. Remember that as you make a gun lighter you make the recoil from a bullet heavier. Basically these guns are so light (12-14 oz.) that the recoil from a magnum round will shake the bullets their brass cases and potentially tie up the gun. Recoil is extremely fierce.

This has become more importantly lately because of the concealed carry revolution going on in the US. More and more states are moving to "shall issue" carry permits so more and more people are buying little powerful guns to carry. The ultralights are little and easy to carry in a pocket. But unfortunately some folks don't stop to think about what porting means to a carry gun.

It means don't shoot it in your pocket (the big strength of the revolver). It means you need to worry about where the muzzle is pointed and where the ports are pointed. Otherwise you may badly burn yourself or your loved ones. Similarly you need to worry about destroying your night vision with the increased muzzle flash.

For a while there some gun companies like Taurus ported everything in sight. I think they have started to realize that so they're new models like this little 9mm beauty are available unported. Mmm pretty revolver.

Riddle Me This!

Question: What is the longest hour of the day?

Answer: The hour between when your cold medicine wears off and the bottle says you can take more.

Enough of my sickly bitterness. For a funny but slightly off-color joke go here.

Monday, November 29, 2004

True Stories about Jesus

Messy Christian has a post up that gave made me think about how we conceptualize Jesus. To be honest it was a woman's comment on that thread that really god me to thinking.

Christians have had trouble figuring Jesus out. Being God and Man at the same time can have that effect I guess. Its just hard to wrap your head around it.

I remember there used to be a christian skit called McJesus. It was a line of people going to church "buying" Jesus to suit their tastes like a fast food restaurant. So there is the serene Jesus, the teacher Jesus, the vengeful Jesus with super-sized lightning bolts, etc, etc. Anyway just like how we think of God, we tend to "tame" (thanks CS Lewis) Jesus and try to fit him into some little box that we like.

Prozac Jesus

One of the more common ways we think of Jesus is the always serene teacher. Nothing rattles Jesus. He is always even-keeled and certainly never angry. Isn't anger a sin after all? Well since Jesus was perfect he certainly couldn't do that.

This misconception comes from the Star Wars-esque theory of emotions. Hate, fear, and anger are of the dark side so that Jesus couldn't possibly have them. Therefore Jesus must be of the light side of the force: all-loving, caring, happy, friendly, forgiving... insert fruits of the spirit here. He's like Ghandi (except that Ghandi wasn't like that either of course).

This is, of course, crap. God gets angry all the time. He threatened to strike down Moses at least once. God even hates things like sin. Accordingly Jesus has these qualities too. He made a whip and beat the money-changers out of the temple courts for their hypocrisy of making a dishonest dime off of holy worship.

Jesus isn't on prozac. He's human like us and feels the whole range of emotions we do. He just feels them properly and as God intended them. Hate of sin and evil. Anger at the face of wrong-doing. Fear for his life when it is in danger at Gethsemane.

If there is one good thing to come out of The Passion of the Christ, its that we have a better appreciation for Jesus's humanity through that film. We see Jesus stressful and fearful.

All-Knowing Jesus

I'm not going to go into Christology. Mostly because I don't know that much of it. We tend to think of Jesus as being a man in form and flesh, but God in everything else. So he really knew everything that was going to happen to him and was just going through the motions. After all he is God and God knows everything right?

Wrong. Its a horrible conception of Christ! He would be totally faithless if he knew everything. The truth is that God did to Christ what he does to us. He shows us glimpses of the future and reveals it in pieces. Remember when the woman touched his cloak and was healed? Jesus stopped and knew "power had gone out of him", but not to whom or where. This is a great example of it.

You see part of being Incarnate diety and the perfect man was living as we do. He was limited and relying on the Father's vision just as we should. This is most evident in the Garden before he was taken. Why do you think he was sweating blood? Because he had to trust in the father just like we do. And he had to trust him knowing that he was going to be beaten and killed horribly in order to do what only he could do.

What amazes me about Jesus is not his Godliness, it is how he overcame his own humanity.

National Treasure

Donald Sensing has a review of National Treasure up. Long story short it isn't a bad movie. I'm making a note since Amybear has been pushing to see it and I think it looks dead stupid. Rev Sensing basically says that it is dead stupid, but is fun none-the-less.

Still Sick

Sore throat is better but still there and now I am seriously stuffed up. I called out sick so I can knock myself out with some seriously drowsifying cold medicines. Blogging may be light as a consequence. That's the breaks folks.

UPDATE: Whoever coined the term "fever dream" sure knew what they were talking about. My brain has been churning out some doozies. I've never and will never try hallucinogenic drugs. If I ever want to research what it feels like, maybe I'll get good an sick and just take a nap.

Sunday, November 28, 2004

Ambra and the Pill

Ambra Nykol has a piece up on the birth control pill for good or ill. Evidentally some stores refuse to carry the perscription or fill them. She lauds these people for taking a moral stand against the sexual "liberation" culture. She has a point.

My problem is that a good friend of mine has Poly-Cystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS). PCOS is a chronic disorder she inherited from her mother. She has been on various forms of birth control for most of her adult life in order to regulate her hormones and minimize the disease's side effects. Those side-effects include sterility. So in this case she is using birth control so that she can have children.

I think this is an important point that often gets lost. Birth control drugs are used to prevent pregnancy, but also to control disorders that involve the same *ahem* equipment.

Not carrying birth control pills may take an important social stand, but it also hurts people that need them to treat real health problems. Where medicine is concerned, I'm "first do no harm" kind of guy. This policy fails that test.

Stupid Things People Do

I called my parents to let them know I was sick with a sore throat and wouldn't be at church. My mom calls this afternoon to see if things are all right. She then starts up a long conversation. I have a sore throat. I do not want a long phone conversation that involves me talking! Throat sore, words hurt, caveman not happy. Grrr. I let her know this and she does an "Oops I didn't think of that... Sorry."

I must make a mental note not to repeat her mistake. Phone calls to people that can't talk without pain are bad.

Hero Machine

Need a time waster? Check out Hero Machine 2.0. It allows you to basically point and click to create a character image of the hero (or villian) of your choice. This could be awfully usedful if I ever start roleplaying again.

Hat Tip to Messy Christian and Happy Husband

Thanksgiving Retrospective

Well this was an exciting thanksgiving at my parents place. They had 20 people for thanksgiving dinner, including 8 children under 6 (2 under 2). With that many kids, exciting might not be the proper word for it. Lets just say they were interesting times in the Chinese curse sense of the word. We ate in shifts with the kids first and the adults second with the kids left to a DVD of their choice. Two leaves aren't enough for the table, so my parents use a 4 by 8 sheet of plywood to create a table surface large enough for 12 adults.

Getting that many kids to bed at night is night unto impossible, especially when you have little ones that will wake up loudly at the drop of a hat. The end result was that the adults had very little time to ourselves the whole weekend. Ah well I suppose I should get used to it because it will be the story of my life soon enough when I get around to having kids.

Luckily my apartment is close enough to my parents house that I could retreat to my Fortress of Solitude and get the heck out of there when it all became too much. I basically showed up for meals and comraderie in the evenings. Several of the kids that came down were sick, so more of the kids and adults were sick by the time they left.

I've currently got a mean sore throat and that disconnected feverish feeling going on. I don't know whether I picked something up from the kids or from one of my coworkers who decided he wasn't sick enough to stay home last week. My symptoms fit the later scenario better.

UPDATE: I just got an email from my brother. While being sick stinks, it meant I avoided cleaning up after the thanksgiving festivities at my parents and hauling out the christmas decorations. Thanks for the silver lining there bro.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Typical Thanksgiving

Joan at Seven Inches of Sense is talking about her typical Thanksgiving. One of the annoying this is:
And without doubt, I will get the "so when are you finally going to get remarried and have some babies" question...after all, even my 18 year old cousins are married and pregnant. I'm the only one without kids and I am 28.
I get that a lot at family get togethers too. I'm 27 and will be getting engaged soon. My side of the family is the only one with kids. My sister won't have them, my brother is single, and the leaves people looking at me. Fortunately my cousin who is younger than me has three kids but has never been married, so they don't look at me too hard.

My typical thanksgiving runs like this:

I typically show up around 10am. Some of my family is already there. Some of my family is coming down from Connecticut, the first group gets there in the morning. The second in the evening right in time for pie. The second groups is usually committed to Thanksgiving dinner in Connecticut and come down afterwards.

The family is split between several groups. The older women are in the kitchen "cooking". Mostly this is family gossip, although some food is put on the stove, and giblets are eaten. My dad and some of my male cousins are watching football. My uncle and everyone else is watching James Bond movies on TBS.

My cousins' kids are running around everywhere and driving people nuts. They aren't watching anything, just sort of bouncing between rooms like pre-pubescent pinballs leaving a trail of toys like plastic caltrops lurking for the unwary barefoot adult. Truth be told, they remind me of me when I was their age.

Dinner is always late but yummy. Typically afterwards we take the kids outside to burn up energy and the adults snooze off the meal. At least one person sneaks out for "coffee" and a cigarette he was supposed to have quit months ago. At some point we start playing games and that lasts until the we start making sandwiches from leftover turkey and the pies comes out.

More games come after that. Lately its been dice, but Uno, Dominoes, Rummikub, and Aggravation were not unheard of. At some point the kids get forced into bed. They don't actually go to bed, lord knows I didn't when I was their age, but they get sent to their respective rooms and the adults get time together without kids. Usually the parents split their time between talking with adults and yelling at their kids to go to sleep.

Finally my brother and I leave and retire to sanctity of own quiet apartments. Yay for us!

Single Men Beware!

Remember fellow working stiffs, most stores are going to close at 6pm tonight until early tomorrow morning. So hopefully you aren't planning on buying dinner tonight after work like I was last year.


Well the demand for a new assault weapons ban didn't take long. A few tidbits from the article:
There should be a law against selling a rifle like that to the public. And, until recently, there was.
Which is followed two paragraphs later with:
In fact, the ban didn't cover the SKS.
Well at least he's sort of honest.

I originally was going to fisk him better, but I lost my first draft of the article by carelessly hitting the back button. Oops. Sorry about that folks. Thanks to my coworker Izzy for the link.


I was thinking about writing a thanksgiving piece, but don't think I can top this one.

Oh I'll try anyway. I'd like to thank God for:
  • His Son
  • The woman I love
  • Friends and family
  • Better people than me who risk their lives on my behalf
For those abroad this Thanksgiving, I pray that you will come home to your families safely.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004


Just so Flynn & Larrimore don't feel lonely, I am also delisting USS Clueless from my blogroll. Steven Den Beste says that he has stopped blogging permanently (although I occassionally see him commenting on One Hand Clapping). If he ever changes his mind, doubtless I will hear about it and put him back on the roll.

Until then I like to use my blogroll to keep track of who I read regularly. I don't see the point of reciprocal linking or having a vast host of rollees. While they did piss me off, that is what killed Flynn & Larrimore, they just didn't post often enough or regularly.

GTA: San Andreas

I was really happy when I got a copy of it. Some of the early quirks have grown on me. However some of the people involved were quite obviously idiots. So for the betterment of the franchise I suggest the following tradition: Make everyone involved in development of the game run a gauntlet of people that payed money for it. They should do this while tagged with a description of the work they did on the game.

I would personally escort the people that designed the map, character, and other models through the gauntlet. Voice actors are also good or at least good enough and the coders would get a pass too. However the mission writers would meet with my wrath. I might sprain something breaking my foot off in the ass of whomever wrote the Red Baron mission. I know that I am not alone. If they're lucky they might live through the experience, but would probably be too severely injured to work on the next game. So much the better.

UPDATE: I finally beat the Zero missions last night. It took me nearly two weeks to go through 2 missions. The last one "New Model Army" is actually kind of fun. The first one is hard but also somewhat fun. The "Supply Lines" mission is incredibly annoying and almost prohibitively difficult. Honestly you need to get lucky to successfully beat this one and I hate games like that.

Spurrier Joins South Carolina

After two disappointing seasons with the Redskins, Steve Spurrier is now a University of South Carolina Gamecock. Let the cock jokes commense!

I can't make too much fun of the Gamecocks. My alma mater was the Fightin' Blue Hens after all. We didn't have "cock" in our name, but people made the jokes anyway. Darn those funny hard consonants...

The Incredibles

Instapundit is linking to this review of the Incredibles. Quent Cordair basically covers all the bases and I agree with him completely about the movie. It is exhilarating to see a movie that says "go out and excel."

Morality, Integrity, Legalism

Ambra Nykol is writing about morality. Its pretty good, but a little simplistic at times. Its not exactly a good thing for a Baptist to say that your are morally simplistic. She clarifies a lot in the comments though. A few thoughts I may have said before:

Absolute Morality

At some level, there must be absolutes. We live in the same world and the same reality. Being of the religious persuasion, I believe ultimately there is one God over us all. Although we can debate forever whether He is Jehovah, Allah, or Brahma and what form His character takes, fundamentally I believe absolute morals must be founding in the being of the Almighty.

However morality is also incredibly complex. While morals are absolute applications of them are very very relative. Moral judgments often take the form of tradeoffs and this creates the "grey area" phenomenon. Which action is "righter"? How do you judge? I guess I could go with Jimmy Cricket and say "always let your conscience be your guide." Except that Romans says your conscience can be subverted. So careful thought and prayer (since morality is grounded in God) would be a good idea.

Similarly you can't just say that "well when I was in this situation I did this so you should too". In case you didn't notice, you aren't me and that subtly changes things as well. I can morally go into a bar and have a drink. If you are an alcoholic or underage, you cannot. Who you are plays a big part in how you should decide some questions. What temptations are you personally susceptible to? How does that effect your judgment? Do I share those problems?

Similarly I may decide differently based on the other people involved. I can go into a bar with one friend and drink, but perhaps not with another who has issues with that. Think about Paul's prohibitions about the spiritually weak here.

While morality is deterministic and absolute, it is also complex and we don't know all the variables. Words like "usually" and "probably" do matter when we answer these questions, because our understanding of the situation is rarely complete. In a very real way God is the only one capable of making a complete judgement of our morals.


People can have a grand old time questioning people's integrity because of the above.

Integrity at its heart is one-ness. You are the same person at work, at church, at home, with that cute blonde in the corner, etc. It actually doesn't necessarily imply good ethics or morals. Someone can have integrity and still be a jackass, as long as he is a consistent jackass.

However the complexity of morality means you are allowed to decide differently in different cases and still be moral. "You forgave him, so you have to forgive me." "But he was repentant and you aren't." Am I being inconsistent or lacking integrity? No, the situations are different. Be careful throwing "lack of integrity" criticism around.

Legislating Morality

One of the most oft repeated phrases on the internet is Barry Goldwater's "You can't legislate morality." It is utter bullshit. Yeah I know, I just went from wishy washy to absolutist. But really, what are laws if not legislated morality? We legislate morality all the time when you think about it. This only comes up when people don't agree with specific morals you are legislating.

So what this phrase more often means is that you can't impose morality through legislation. This is incorrect as well of course. The civil rights legislation of the sixties and seventies has, by and large, resulted in the decline of racism in this country. It was imposed on a large part of the country from above and they didn't like it. Just like with the debate over slavery a century before, they have lost.

Keep Your Pants On

Mrs. du Toit has some analysis about AIDS rates. She compares AIDS deaths to cancer and other deaths.

I've never really caught on to the AIDS fervor that has swept the globe (especially the left side of it). I remember doing a similar analysis in High School and noticing that AIDS rates weren't that impressive compared to the general population. I always wondered why we were funding it so heavily. Cancer and heart disease are much deadlier. Similarly why are we surprised that half the population with AIDS is women? Half the population of damn near anything is women.

I just can't stir up the worry considering that it is so preventable if people would just keep their pants on. Hey! I just solved the AIDS problem and it didn't cost 6 billion dollars a year! My slogan is "AIDS: Keep Your Damn Pants On, Dumbass!" I think the mild profanity will really sell it to the under 18 set, because swearing is cool. Might work even better it the slogan dropped the F-bomb like "AIDS: Fucking Kills." That one works on so many levels, it has that nostalgic Speed Kills vibe for the older folks and profanity and its a double entendre if you play with the punctuation. I am more than willing to settle for a small slice of that 6 billion in compensation for either of these.

As a side note, the same relative/absolute numbers trick is also used to make other things look important. For instance child safety locks on firearms. Care to guess which kills more kids: guns or swimming pools? Swimming pools and it isn't even close. It gets even less close when you only use accidental shooting numbers that locks would prevent and throw out suicides and urban gang shootings. School shootings and a lot of other prominent shootings are similar as well. You would never have known that school shootings were (and are last I checked) on the decline nationally during the mess around Columbine.

Condi and the NAACP

Color me shocked, the NAACP is actually on the same side as I am. I feel like that scene in the Rocketeer when the G-men and the Mobsters are fighting side by side against the Nazis. Mmm tommyguns...

Sorry I got distracted there. Anyway here is the story. As a reaction to people using racist slurs against Condi Rice, Kweisi (Queasy?) Mfume had this to say:
[The attacks on Rice] are just as bad as those who hide under sheets and burn crosses.
I wonder how long this will last. Well we have 2 years until the next national elections so I predict maybe a year of goodwill followed by a campaign season full of griping.

UPDATE: Ambra Nykol is having similar reactions. I agree that I will be watching for low-flying swine on my drive home.

Monday, November 22, 2004

Mmmm Cough Drops

This Reuters health news article says that the theobromine in chocolate has good medicinal properties to prevent persistent coughing. So if you feel the need to pig out on chocolate, remember its for medicinal purposes...

Note to Self

Donald Sensing has a link up to a patriotic ford commercial. I can't watch it at work, but this is my reminder to watch it when I get home.

Jesus was a Commie?

I ran across this piece today. It is basically debunks the claims that Jesus was a liberal Democrat. Similarly QandO is commenting on a New York Times column about the hungry needing to be fed. Bets on who should do the feeding?

The truth is of course somewhere in the middle of all this. The early church was quite communist. Note the small "c". This is communism in the sense of a group of people living on a commune. When there was need, those with the resources would sell land, etc. to meet the needs of the group. This was to be done without personal motives, but out of a pure devotion to God and the fellowship. Don't come forward with impure motives though, because you might end up like Ananias and Sapphira.

One of the fundamental tenets of Christianity is that people should help each other. That much is true. However your property is your own. It was given to you by God and that places an obligation on you to manage it according to His will. If you do not, God will likely take it from you and give to someone else. Essentially all property is on loan from God.

You may note some similarities between this and Communism (note the big "C"). In Communism, property is owned by the state and the state will decide what you need and how you should use it. Essentially property is on loan from the state.

Notice the difference? While theologically the state is allowed to act as God's greater steward along the lines of Romans, thanks to Marx the state usually denies any allegiance to the Almighty. So what we have left is idolatry plain and simple.

Plus even a God-fearing state is run by fallible humans. So what happens when the state's stewardship fails to meet with God's expectations? The answer is that God takes that control away from the state and gives it back to the people. Sounds like the Fall of the Wall to me.

Gee and we wonder why good Christians have trouble with Commies.

Health Book Editing

Its kind of fun once you start building momentum on a blog. People start emailing you with stuff saying "you have to blog about this!" Here is one such story from the LA Times that my girlfriend sent me. Registration is required unfortunately.

Long story short several members of the Texas State Board of Education are conservative Christians. This results in the following:
The board this month approved new health textbooks for high school and middle school students after publishers said they would tweak references to marriage and sexuality.

One agreed to define marriage as a "lifelong union between a husband and a wife." Another deleted words that were attacked by conservatives as "stealth" references to gay relationships; "partners," for example, was changed to "husbands and wives." A passage explaining that adolescence brings the onset of "attraction to others" became "attraction to the opposite sex."
I'm not sure if this a good thing or not. I'd like to uphold traditional values like this. For our society they are traditional. Sorry gay-rights folks. On the other hand I bet people are going to be pissed about this and there will be some backlash.

Fortunately right now its people in LA being pissed about what is happening in Texas. Don't they have their own news to report? More likely this is some sort of blue-stater attempt to make the Californians feel good about themselves because they aren't backwater hicks like those stupid Texans.

It would be nice to see a counterpoint argument to those presented by the gay rights advocates and New York based textbook groups, but there is no sign of one. I guess it would have required them to balance out the "Christians are hijacking Texas school boards" argument they want to make. Darn Christians getting elected and remaining popular (often running unopposed). Can't people tell they are evil? Stupid red staters...

A Lesson in Red and Blue

I live in a blue county. I work in a red county. Today is my thanksgiving lunch at work and I was assigned to bring a caesar salad. Now in blueville you can go to any supermarket and buy this sort of thing premade in its own (admittedly cheap) serving bowl. I know. I checked. So I brought serving utensils and planned on doing that at the supermarkets near work in redville. No such luck. The supermarkets had salad bars and salads (basically lettuce) in a bag, but no premade salads in bowls. Drat. So I bought a veggie tray instead which should fill the same basic food group.

I can think of two reasons for this. First in bluetown salad is a meal. In redville salad is like parsley, a garnish that sits on your plate to add color. Second redville tends to be further out on the supply chain, so maybe the concept just hasn't trickled down to here yet.

My co-workers have since informed me that similar salad is sold in bags around work. I was tasked to run out and getting a few more things before the lunch today and I saw neither hide nor hair (seed nor stem?) of such a thing. Oh well.

Range Report: Limbsaver

I put a Limbsaver recoil pad on my Mossberg 590 last weekend to replace the stock rubber pad. The Pachmyer Decellerator is the ruler of the recoil pad roost, but the Limbsaver has been getting good reviews and, more importantly, it was $10 cheaper. Good (some consider better) and cheaper was too much for me to shrug off.

It went on like a charm. Take the old screws out and the old pad off, new pad went right on with the old screws. The only tool required was a philips (phillips?) head screwdriver.

I didn't get to shoot it until today. So far so good. Deer slugs still kick. Ouchie. On the other hand the bird shot I was also firing was pretty mild in comparison. Granted I fired the slugs first so the bird shot is going to feel mild in comparison anyway. Still I'm happy with my purchase.

What is really going to kill the recoil is improvement in my shotgun technique and that is just going to take time and shells.

Sunday, November 21, 2004

Dumbass Local Talk Show

My blogroll says good-bye to Flynn & Larrimore. I read this post on their blog this morning. In it the criticize the News Journal's Beth Miller for using the word "prisoner" to describe the insurgent shot in Fallujah the other day. Steve Larrimore basically calls her a liberal shill and concludes with this paragraph:
You may think that I am over reacting to this, but the subtle leftist propaganda in the NJ annoys me and the right gives the press too much "benefit of the doubt". It encourages the next step to forging documents.
No Steve, we're saying that you're over reacting because YOU ARE. Beth Miller is actually one of the few conservatives on the News Journal staff. She goes to my church and we have run into each other several times outside of the church as well, like at the Fair Hill Highland Games (Beth loves bagpipes). I've even met her mother. Did I mention Beth has taught several classes at my church about media bias? Well she has and they were quite well attended too.

I especially love the parting straw man. Yes using what may be a technically accurate word like "prisoner" is just a hop, skip, and jump from accepting forged documents from a known political partisan with a grudge against the president.

Whoops. Nice going, way to shoot your fellow conservative in the foot. Next time you decide to criticize someone for shoddy reporting why don't you do some legwork first? Why don't you pick on the Pope for being a bad Christian next? He has other people reading his sermons for him these days after all.

See I can do parting strawmen too.

UPDATE: Steve Larrimore has asked me to re-edit this to clarify that it was his posting and does not reflect Mike Flynn's opinion on the subject. I think I've done that and I apologize to Mike Flynn for inadvertently tarring him with my brush. If I missed a plural somewhere please let me know in the comments and I'll fix it.

I will freely admit the use of the word "prisoner" here is pretty contentious. He was certainly not a prisoner in the "searched and processed into custody" sense of, say, a prison inmate. On the other hand if he was wounded and had surrendered to the Marines, what word would you use to describe him?

Sorry folks, but we really are getting into semantics here. At some point you are trying to inflict your connotations of "prisoner" on me. Its especially bothersome because I know folks who work in the criminal justice system. The idea that, say, a prison inmate is incapable of being a threat to a guard is foolishness. The only place where "prisoner" is equated to "helpless non-combatant" is in your head. You are over reacting.

I talked to Beth about this stuff briefly after church. When I mentioned an story she wrote made someone mad, she started talking about a completely different piece. I had to point her toward the autopsy story. People being mad about that one was news to her. She said she has had people on both sides of the political aisle mad at her lately. It sounded like she considers that a good sign objectivity-wise. I tend to concur with her.

Have I mentioned that Beth was sent to Iraq on assignment for the News Journal a while back? Well she was. It was probably a year ago now. Not sure what she covered specifically because I prefer not to give the New Journal any of my money. While I don't share Steve's opinion of Beth, I do basically share his opinion of the New Journal as a whole. It is a rag. I may buy a few copies soon, but that's only because I need kindling for my fireplace as the weather gets colder.

FINAL UPDATE: The reporter who shot the footage has a blog. Here is his post on the subject telling the whole story. Long story short, the "insurgent" had been wounded and presumably taken prisoner during earlier operations at the mosque. There is very little likelihood that the "insurgent" was capable of doing anything other than slowly bleeding to death.

Hat tip to QandO for the Kevin Sites story.

Saturday, November 20, 2004

The Passion

Messy Christian just saw the Passion of the Christ. For those who call the movie anti-semitic, I'd like to point out this reaction as more typical:
I always know that He's doing this for me, and I feel so unworthy of this sacrifice.
Similarly I thought this part was spot on:
What scenes that really grabbed me was the scene of Jesus as carpenter, creating a "high table". I've always wondered how Jesus was like as a carpenter! And the affection He showed His mother was something, prompting me to ask myself, Why does it surprise me? I guess I've always had a limited view of Jesus. I've always seen him as teacher, God etc, but forgot that He was a son, that he was a carpenter, that he laughed and cried
The very human parts of the story were what really grabbed me, especially when you are seeing Jesus through the eyes of Mary, his mother. I think as Christians, a lot of us get so caught up in Christ's divinity that we forget about his humanity. Part of the reason Christ's story is so amazing is that Jesus is also so human. I'm going to have to go through the Gospels again soon, especially the Synoptics (Matthew, Mark, Luke) since they really bring this out.

Friday, November 19, 2004


Curt Schilling is a class act. King of Fools has another reason why. When asked this question by Tom Arnold:
You get one choice. George Bush gets re-elected President or Red Sox win the World Series for the first time in '86 years, what are you going to choose?
Schilling answered:
George Bush.
Through the curse of my birth I was born in the suburbs of Philly, which demands that I be a Phillies fan despite them being possibly the worst team in the history of major league baseball. For several years Schilling was the only bright spot on the Phillies roster and their sole contribution to the All Star Game. Thanks for that.

Schilling is also a big Role-Playing Game fan. He has single-handedly written checks that kept some game companies afloat. Six figure checks. He did this because enjoys their games and plays them on the road with likeminded teammates. Class act.

Target Bans Salvation Army

You know those bell ringers with their red kettles that mark the holiday season? Target is having none of it. Hugh Hewitt has been reporting on this here, here, here, and here.

Certain parts of the blogosphere are abuzz. I'd just like to point out that I have, to date, spent one hour ringing a Salvation Army bell during the Christmas season. It was two years ago at a Target on Route 202 in Wilmington, Delaware. I had the kettle at the southern entrance to the store (they were running two kettles, one at each entrance). It was cold, windy, and frankly miserable outside, but the folks at Target were very nice and even offered me a complimentary hot chocolate which I declined.

My guess is that this is the work of some corporate idiot who thought it would be a good idea. Chances are they gave no thought towards the long yuletide tradition they were breaking with. Oops. While I can sympathize with Target, I may still be shopping at Kohls and Walmart this year.

Hat tip to In the Agora

UPDATE: Ambra Nykol is playing devils advocate and taking Target's side.

Learning to Shoot

Instapundit is linking to this slate article by a DC reporter learning to shoot. Kim du Toit has a similar post about a 14 year old girl who loves to dear hunt with her dad. Bet her father ends up carrying the deer and cleaning it.

Since I already own guns, my girlfriend is going to learn to shoot. Its not a choice because she needs to know some things for her own safety. I'm hoping she does well enough that she likes it, but not so well enough that she can consistently outshoot me.

Thursday, November 18, 2004


Ambra Nykol is writing about tradition and the breakdown of authority figures. Basically my analysis comes down to Proverbs 1:
Listen, my son, to your father's instruction
and do not forsake your mother's teaching.
They will be a garland to grace your head
and a chain to adorn your neck.
Its so important Solomon repeats himself in Proverbs 6:
My son, keep your father's commands
and do not forsake your mother's teaching.
Bind them upon your heart forever;
fasten them around your neck.
When you walk, they will guide you;
when you sleep, they will watch over you;
when you awake, they will speak to you.
For these commands are a lamp,
this teaching is a light,
and the corrections of discipline
are the way to life...
The '60s was a time when parents teaching was forsaken. Now we have reaped the benefits. The baby boomers, by and large, forsake eternity to live by the moment. They have taught their children nothing because they foolishly discarded the wisdom of their own parents.

We are on exceptionally dangerous ground my friends. As one of my co-workers has often said "traditions are solutions for problems we have forgotten."

Oh and when I hear the word "tradition" I start humming the tune from Fiddler on the Roof as well. Now its stuck in my head. Thanks Ambra.


Turns out Glenn Reynolds aka Instapundit is a PCUSA presbyterian. He also has issues with the growing anti-semitism of the PCUSA church that I mention here.

Long story short I was once PCA presbyterian. I agree with most of their doctrine and practical theology. I have since diverged a bit to the point that I am no longer a 5 point Calvinist. Thats why I'm not in the League of Reformed Bloggers for instance.

I ended up going Baptist because of church governance. In the presbyterian system, the denomination has strong control. For instance in a Presbyterian church, the pastor is employed by the presbytery not by the church itself. I'm guessing that this is so the presbytery can get rid of a pastor who breaks with doctrine whether his actual church wants it or not. I can appreciate that even though some people may think it is high-handed. Basically they can cast out a pastor, but try to keep the church.

The problem in my case was that the presbytery really didn't know what was going on in the church. About a third of the church membership and leadership started having serious concerns about our senior pastor. However 33% of a congregational vote is not enough to alert the presbytery to a problem (that requires a simple majority). Now when the church membership started plummeting, then the presbytery noticed. At that point it was too late to do anything other than damage control. When the ship has sunk, changing its captain isn't going to do a damn thing.

Anyway I went from there to a Baptist church. We don't have that problem since baptist denominations tend to be looser affiliations of doctrinally similar churches. Less than a year into going to my current church, they started having problems. Things were simply brought up openly during services and the pastor handled it well. While some people did leave the church, the numbers were small and they left as friends. I can't say that this was just because the pastor reported directly to his congregation, but it certainly didn't hurt.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Homosexuality and the Sins of Sodom

There is an interesting side conversation going on in this La Shawn Barber post. More specifically this comment.

The gist of Gary Volin's comment is the following:
  1. The sin of Sodom was inhospitality, not homosexuality. Furthermore the use of the terms "sodomy" and "sodomite" in some translations, like King James, are actually English colloquialisms from greek and hebrew words that have nothing to do with Sodom.
  2. Old Testament law does not forbid homosexual sex in general, but idoltrous gay sex in specific. This is the male shrine prostitution and the like mentioned in the Mosaic Law.
  3. The few places that really do talk about forbidding gay sex are out of date because of the New Covenant relaxation of prohibitions. Our modern understanding of homosexuality also means the earlier moral principles often don't apply. Being gay is like keeping kosher.
Being gay is not like keeping kosher. The parts of the bible which are most explicit about homosexuality, like Leviticus 18:22, nestle it among incest, rape, bestiality, adultery, and child sacrifice. The idea that this is equivalent to eating pork is obviously fallacious.

Furthermore exception is made for gentiles in the New Testament. Many of the Jewish ceremonial laws don't have to be followed by non-Jews. However both Christ and Paul make it clear that the torah does not disappear because of the new covenant. A thorough reading of Romans tells us that carrying on in sin is not an option. We are not to continue sinning so that we can make greater use of God's graciousness.

Gary does have a point about homosexuality taking too prominent a role in the Sodom story. His comment about hospitality is not completely correct however. The truth is that Sodom (and Jebesh Gibeah in Judges 20) were destroyed for unrepentant wickness, immorality, and depravity of many types. Ezekial 16 says: “Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy. They were haughty and did detestable things before me.”

Throughout the bible, both in the story of Sodom and later in the similar story of Judges 19 through 21, homosexuality is mentioned but also accompanying other sins like murder or rape. I think it is Romans 1 which really shows us what homosexuality is:
They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator... Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion. Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done. They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity.
Homosexuality is not just a sin. It is also a symptom of a deeper and more significant moral and spiritual decline.

That said I don't think being gay is some sort of unforgivable sin. Nor do I think it is any more significant than the current epidemic of straight sexual promiscuity. The bible doesn't like that either. The truth is that they are both shades of the same symptom. Two sides of the same coin.

Our reaction should not be to explain them away as right and proper and continue sinning. Our reaction should be to read God's word, accept the Spirit's conviction, and repent of our sins.

The Religious Left

La Shawn Barber is writing about attempts being made by the left to appear more religious. Incidentally thats what we are talking about here appearing more religious. We aren't talking about being more religious, only dressing up their previous arguments in the proper pseudo-christian rhetorical tone. Its a bad idea so I hope they do it.

One thing the left needs to realize is that fundamentally, it isn't about what you say. Its about what you do and how that is a reflection of who you are. John Kerry was a Massachusetts Liberal and wishy washy Christian. Trying to run him as an enlightened moderate and a devout Catholic didn't work. He isn't so don't bother.

In contrast Bush is man with deep conservative religious convictions and foreign policy, but a fairly moderate view of the role of government in society. This is obvious to anyone who has been paying attention over the last few years and it is how he ran his campaign. He won oddly enough.

The Democrats seem to believe that the reds are ignorant feebs who will follow anyone who parrots the right tone. This has been exemplified by their entire southern campaign strategy since Dukakis. Put the Northern Liberal on a campaign platform that looks like the set of Hee-Haw and the votes will follow. It doesn't work. People are smarter than that.

Or to couch my rhetoric in Christian tones, I have read the Book of James. James says that faith without works is dead. How could it say this if salvation is by faith alone? It says this because if you actually have faith (instead of just saying you do) it will show up in your actions. If you lack the faith to act on your convictions, then you have no faith at all. To quote a different verse "you can judge a tree by its fruit." Folks we can look at your deeds and judge your faith by them. This is why no white Christian has any spiritual respect for Jesse Jackson. I'll listen to him politic and might respect him as a minority leader, but I couldn't give a good goddamn about his theology and I won't pay a cent to his "ministry".

What the Democrats need to do is actually run candidates that exemplify those values. I haven't seen them put someone forward yet, but I will concede that it is possible.


QandO has two very good posts on Fallujah. The first is on the evolving tactics that are being used. The second is about the now infamous marine shooting.

I can't really add much to the first article. My knowledge of the tactics of urban warfare go something like this:
  1. Try to avoid it.
  2. Seal off the area so it doesn't turn into a meat grinder like the Russian front in WWII.
  3. Stay out of the streets because that's where the enemy can shoot you best. If necessary use explosives to knock down walls to facilitate this.
  4. Don't hug the walls. They may provide cover and make you feel safe, but they are also bullet and fragment traps because of ricochets and reduce your freedom of movement.
As for the marine shooting, well its quite possible he did the right thing. Fallujah's streets are apparently heavily booby-trapped. Nobody wants to the be the booby that gets caught in the trap.

Hopefully due process will be followed and he will be exonerated if that is the case. Marine Colonel Jeff Cooper once said that the good thing about military courts is that they tend to care more about finding out what happened instead of placing blame. Hopefully that means the marine won't spend the rest of his life in prison for a split second decision when his life was in mortal danger.

UPDATE: Several people are writing about how the Geneva Conventions were being violated by the marine. This is incorrect. Firstly it is against the conventions to occupy a mosque, so they don't apply to this specific case. Secondly, the conventions don't protect non-uniformed insurgents like those in Iraq anyway. Russia made sure this was the case before they signed the conventions. The Volokh Conspiracy has further analysis.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

The Kinsey Report

There is evidentally a movie coming out Alfred Kinsey. My girlfriend mentioned it when we were talking on the phone sunday. I wanted to link to this post on Evangelical Outpost for my own reference.

Garrison Keillor

Keillor is lifelong Democrat and host of the downhomey Prairie Home Companion radio show. His comments after the last election have caught some flak recently. Here is a GetReligion post. The Volokh Conspiracy is commenting here and here. Instapundit as well.

Suffice it to say that Keillor probably shouldn't have make jokes about disenfranchising evangelical Christians. Eugene Volokh (not christian last time I checked) found the joke distasteful because "I suspect that much of Keillor's audience does dislike born-again Christians, and that a considerable chunk even holds them in contempt."

The problem with this is that Keillor actually has a significant evangelical audience. My parents used to listen to him regularly. He plays old timey gospel music. He does a lot of clean humor. Much of his act is like a small town observational comedy. He is pretty big in the Red states who want something that speaks to them, but doesn't border on the profane as much as, say, the Blue Collar Comedy Tour. Do you honestly think the urbanites of New England listen to a show called Prairie Home Companion?

So hopefully for Keillor, those christians did think it was funny because if they didn't he's lost a big market segment for his show.

Basic Shotgun Form

I encountered a couple people this weekend who had never shot a shotgun before and had no idea how to do it properly. Here is a little primer. If you're right handed this should make sense for you. If you are left handed then reverse everything. You backwards brained folks should be used to doing that.

Lets start with the feet and work up. You should have a basic idea which way you need to be facing. Great, now put your left foot forward pointed in that direction. Your right foot should be back about shoulder's length away from it. You should have good stability using this stance, if you don't you may need to adjust the position of your feet a little.

Pick up the gun and put it to your shoulder. MAKE SURE IT ISN'T LOADED. I'll tell you more on the "mount" in a bit, right now you just need the weight of the gun to get your balance right. At this point some people will have a tendency to put the gun out front and lean back onto their right foot to balance the gun's weight. Don't. You want to put most of your weight on your forward left foot and lean towards where you are shooting. When you fire the gun it will push you back onto your right foot. This way you can use the big muscles in your legs to help absorb recoil instead of using your weaker upper body muscles. You can also ride the recoil a bit with your upper body and that will make it hurt less.

Ok? Now lets move up. Your waist is for twisting left and right to track your target (since most shotgun games involving moving targets).

Now lift your right arm up so it is parallel to the ground. If you feel your shoulder, you will notice a little divit between your chest muscles and your shoulder muscles. That is the pocket or cup. That is where the butt of the shotgun goes. Lift the butt of the gun up to your shoulder and put it there. Your right arm is out because this will keep the pocket nice and deep. As you get better you can lower that arm, but trust me you want it out to start with. If you lower your arm now, the gun will probably jump out of the pocket under recoil and beat its way down your arm. That will hurt like heck so keep your arm up for Christ sakes.

Now pick up the shotgun. MAKE SURE IT ISN'T LOADED. Your right hand goes on the stock by the trigger. Your left goes on the forestock under the barrel(s). Put the butt in the cup so you get as much contact as possible between the butt of the gun and your shoulder. This will spread the impact out and it will hurt less. Hopefully the butt pad on the gun is a good shape to fit the contours of your shoulder.

Now let me say a few things about shotgun fit. Its a personal thing and a lot of what you are going to read next will vary with fit. Chances are you aren't using your own gun if you are reading this, so you basically have to take what you can get. If you buy your own gun you want a stock that is the right angle/length/shape for you. If your gun doesn't fit you will have a much tougher time with it. Recoil will hurt more and accuracy will suffer. Keep reading and I will bring up fit a bit more. Keep in mind if you want a really good fit, most hunting shops have professionals that do that sort of thing.

Now your right arm holds the gun into the pocket. Your left arm pulls the gun back into the pocket more and also controls how you swing the gun. On a pump shotgun pulling back on the forearm will also have the advantage of helping you pump faster after each shot. How hard should you be holding/pulling? A wise man once said you should be holding the shotgun like a injured bird, you don't want to hurt it but you don't want it to get away either. That sounds good to me.

Now if the stock is the right length and angle (called pull and drop in the gun world), your right cheek will be against the stock and you will be looking down the barrel of the gun. Most shotguns have bead sights, so there is probably a little aiming bead at the end of the barrel. If the stock is too long/tall/etc you will be looking at the back of the gun. Conversely if the stock is too short you will be looking down the barrel from too high up. If it fits you shouldn't really see the top of the shotgun or the barrels at all, only the sights where they stick up. Raise or lower your head to try to get the right sight picture.

If you can't get this sight picture no matter how hard you try, find a different gun. Production stocks are a little long for most people, although they fit me fine because I'm a little taller than average. In general its better for a stock to be too short than too long. Kids and women might be better off with a youth (also called "bantam") stock.

Now, as I said before, your cheek needs to be against the stock. Some people try to avoid this because they think it might hurt. It shouldn't even if the fit isn't the greatest. This cheek position is called the cheek weld. With bead sights your eyeball is the rear sight, the cheek weld locks your eye into position with the gun. If the stock "fits" then your eyeball should naturally be in the right place. If not you will have to move your head and chances are that it will be easier to lose to proper sight picture. Sorry people shooting loaners.

Now point and shoot. Many a shotgunner has told me that you don't aim a shotgun, you point it. You are firing a cloud of shot remember. With a pump make sure you pull the fore-end all the way back and push it all the way forward for best reliability. Leading a target is something you have to get a feel for with experiece but hopefully you will be starting on easy, slow, close targets. Enjoy shotgunning, it can be very satisfying once you start popping clays.

That's about it. I taught somebody these basics during my shooting expedition this weekend and he went on a hot streak and almost beat me. I wish he could have returned the favor and taught me some stuff. ;)

Engineering Philosophy

I was reading a post on Eric Raymond's blog today that struck me as particularly insightful. It goes like this:
Past that my father, also born in LA, and well educated by even by blue standards, was an engineer. Engineers think in a very specific way. The requirements of the profession forces them to divide the whole universe into "works" and "does not work." This habit of thought definitely rubbed off on me. The problem with the blue types is that the post-modernist fantasy world they seem to live in does not even recognize that there are categories defined as "works" and "does not work."
Yup. I'm an engineer and that basically sums up my outlook pretty well. I am more than willing to recognize that There's More Than One Way To Do It (TMTOWTDI) However just because the set of possible solutions is large does not mean you are necessarily within it.

I think part of my problem with the current incarnation of liberalism has a lot to do this. Its one thing to disagree with someone on moral grounds. It is another to say that you live in a completely different reality than I do. Post-modernists and other Relativists often follow the second course and I'm sorry but I can't buy it.

Monday, November 15, 2004

Abortion and the SPCA

Matthew Yglesias is typing about abortion. He states the following:
One is that if you believe, as I do, that a fetus does not have the moral standing of a person then it really is, just as current law states, an unjustifiable invasion of a woman's privacy to say that the state will regulate the manner in which she handles matters pertaining to the contents of her body.
Now this may surprise some of you, but I agree with him that a fetus shouldn't have the same legal standing as an infant. I think biblically and morally the life of the mother is much more important that the life of the unborn child. There are many longstanding legal and religious traditions that support this (like Jewish Law).

However the second half of his screed does not actually follow from the first. In fact the rest is just a typical slippery-slope over-reaction and Yglesias knows it. He even acknowledges "The logic of the anti-Roe view is either that there's no right to privacy, or else that for some reason the right to privacy does not extend to this particular matter."

If the fetus is not human is it bereft of all rights? No, it is certainly not. We're the fetus even of the same legal standing as a cat, I submit to you that many abortions would be considered illegal in this country. Just because a puppy is not a person does not prevent us from having cruelty to animals laws.

So I end with this illustration. A woman has a puppy. For whatever reason, she does not feel she can properly take care of the dog. Perhaps she has fallen on hard times and doesn't have the money. Perhaps prior commitments prohibit her from properly taking care of it. She then has two choices:
  1. She can find someone, either an agency or individual, to care for the puppy.
  2. She can take it to the vet and have the puppy put to sleep.
Which do you think is the right choice? Good. Now draw the proper parallels considering that most abortions have nothing to do with the health of the baby or the mother and everything to do with this sort of haphazard convenience.

Differences between Men and Women

This Baldo comic sums up relationships and the differences between men and women nicely.

Heart Troubles

Instapundit has mentioned portable automatic defibrillators. My church has one and I was shown it the last time I did an usher rotation. So far I don't believe we have had to use it.

In other heart problem news, Hardees now has a double thickburger out. 1400 calories and over 100 grams of fat. That will show those veins you mean business.

UPDATE: If you want to cleverly bash Hardess, might I suggest calling them Heartdisease. Say it real fast and you'll see what I mean.

Range Report: Shooting Clays

I got together on a Boys Night Out (day out?) with my brother and some of his friends. We went up to the State Game Lands by French Creek State Park and shot there. That is why I didn't do any posting on saturday, I was either driving or away from civilization in the back woods of Pennsylvania.

My brother and one of his friends both brought mechanical clay throwers which gave us the needed consistency for starting shooters. We set the throwers up on the firing line (and marked where you were supposed to stand with one of the bright orange clays). Shooters had two shots at each "bird". This is something like trap shooting, only the ranges are all wrong.

My 590 worked ok and I was happy. My mossberg has a fairly short barrel at only 20 inches. It also has a cylinder bore choke, the most open choke. This means that my long range accuracy suffers (because of the short barrel) and my gun doesn't hit as hard out there either (because of the choke). My shotgun is a short range anti-personnel riot gun, not a long range sporting arm.

My brother was shooting his Saiga and wasn't doing well. His gun is even less "sporting" than mine in every respect. It is semi-automatic which is nice, but it jammed on him a couple of times which made his day even less fun.

I countered the weaknesses of my gun by trying to hit my birds early. Once they got far enough out a hit would be sheer luck. When I started shooting, I was guestimating where I thought the clay would go. So I mounted and aimed my gun at that patch of sky and yelled pull. The problem was I'd still have to move it over to the clay, then change direction, and then shoot it. It took too much time and frankly involved a lot of fine motor skills.

So instead I just aimed the gun at the ground about ten yards in front of me and yelled pull. I brought the gun up to the clay and fired as things lined up. Turns out that even though my gun started farther away, this technique worked a lot better. I was hitting earlier and better (clays shattering into powder instead of chipping bits off). By the end of the day, one of the other shooters was admiring my technique so I was happy. Unfortunately I didn't figure all this out until halfway through the competition section of the day so I finished in the middle of the pack. Oh well, I learned something and that is what matters to me.

National Ammo Day

Support your right to keep and bear arms, buy ammo!

Arafat and Religion

This GetReligion piece is commenting on the plight of Christians in the Holy Land

One good thing about Arafat was that, although Muslim, he did a lot to hold the Palestinian people together religiously. What do I mean? Well about a third of the Palestinians are Christians, usually some flavor of Orthodox. When you live a block from where Jesus was born, it kind of makes sense doesn't it?

Anyway it wasn't uncommon to see Arafat going to Christmas Eve Mass at Bethlehem even though he's Muslim. He put out the effort to recognize and accommodate the Christian minority. Depending on what you think of him, maybe he just stole from everyone equally. The point is that a new militant Muslim leader for the Palestinian people may not do that, to the detriment of Christian natives in the Holy Land.

Not that it matters for long anyway. Palestinian Christians are a shrinking group anyway. Some are converting to Islam, but many are just getting the hell out of the country. I had a friend in college named Adel who was from Bethlehem. Yes, The Bethlehem. He basically thought that things going on in Palestine were crazy and it was time to get out. This was before 9-11 mind you. His family does auto body work in Delaware and he got an engineering degree with me from U of Delaware.

EA Games

Evidentally, EA Games is a behemoth in the video gaming industry. They also treat their employees like crap. See this story from an EA software engineers spouse and this one from an actual software engineer.

While long hours immediately prior to release are understood in the game industry are the norm, working people to death prior to that is unusual and unhealthy. Plus EA is requiring employees to work long hours without compensation, which has provoked employees into suing their employer for compensation.

There are several ways this could end:
  • More lawsuits. Employees start experiencing health difficulties from the long hours and stress. They sue the company for damages. Employees, like Joe Straitiff above, start suing over false termination and take the company for a mint.
  • EAs workers start leaving en masse. EA will miss deadlines and likely experience a business meltdown.
  • EA workers will unionize and demand that EA change its practices.
  • EAs management will wisen the hell up and start managing their people better proactively.
The end result in any case is that EA can't hope to keep this sort of thing up for long.

I doubt EA management reads this blog, but if you do... get a clue.

Hat tip to Penny Arcade.

Sunday, November 14, 2004

Team America

My brother and I went to see Team America: World Police a while ago. Evidentally the troops fighting in fallujah have too. Read the second to last paragraph.

For those that don't know, the theme goes something like "America! Fuck Yeah!" More profanity follows that and I don't remember the all the specifics. Suffice it to say that the Army or Marines advancing to that theme music fills me with mirth.

I can't wait to hear the liberals complaining now, "The Army is dropping F-bombs on Iraq! Its for the children! The children!"


I was annoyed this morning by a call from the Fraternal Order of Police. I agree to a small donation, because I'm a nice guy. If anyone else calls me at home on Sunday morning when I'm late for church, they're out of luck.

Friday, November 12, 2004

Movie Reviews

Because of the long Veteran's day weekend, I rented a few movies from Blockbuster to pass the time. I went with The Girl Next Door and Dawn of the Dead.

Dawn of the Dead

Ooooh Zombies! That can run! Sometimes they catch people and, if bitten, those people become zombies too. Unless they get completely eaten of course. Yada yada Shoot them in the head to kill them.

There is some character stuff in there too but that's basically the movie. They don't explain where the zombies come from. The plot is basically that people hide out in a mall from zombies, start to go stir crazy, try to leave, and carnage ensues. There isn't a conclusion really, the people just get out of the mall. If you want to see zombies attack, zombies getting shot in the head, and people getting eaten/turned into zombies, this is the movie for you.

My rental copy had some trouble playing in the PS2, but I think its because the rental got beat up. Your mileage may vary.

The Girl Next Door

This is a lot like Risky Business (with Tom Cruise) only with pornstars instead of prostitutes. Some parts are very derivative from that movie, but others are original. For instance the limo scene after the prom reminded me of the infamous train montage in Risky Business. The beginning and ending are quite good, but the middle is pretty slow. Its an ok movie for a rental, but I wouldn't bother buying it.

From the Unratedness of the video I honestly expected more soft-core stuff. Frankly the nudity is pretty mild (compared to say American Pie) and the language wasn't especially obscene (just a few Fuck!s).

Question Authority?

One of the central tenets of the left is to question authority and the establishment. Unfortunately most people in college today were raised in institutions run by the left. The left is the establishment they are questioning. Here is one hippy and how his reaction to authority lead him to Bush. Hat tip: David Kopel at the Volokh Conspiracy

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Student Protests

Izzy showed me this yesterday as I was leaving work. Lots of folks on college campuses protesting Bush and protesting their local branch of the College Republicans. Those horrible collegiate Republican fascists, baby eaters all! I must say I went to a couple CR events during my undergrad days. I met Mike Castle, my congressman, that way. I also found out that baby tastes like chicken.

I often wonder how they get so many people to turn out to these sorts of things. Then I recall how much free time I had in college. I also looked at some of the pictures on the article. They basically features fairly attractive women getting all hot and bothered and a bunch of "activist" men enjoying the view. Hell if they had free pizza or some nice baby cooked up buffalo style, I'd even be there in a heartbeat. Chicks! Pizza! Too bad there are laws against coercing people to vote that way.

Remind me of an Erv Homer story from when he was a student in the '60s. To paraphrase: "I went lots of protests at college. I didn't really know what I was protesting most of the time, but the girls there were Free Love so that was good enough for me."


Sorry I have today off because of Veterans Day so I haven't done much blogging. My day has been a mix of playing video games and doing work. So far I've clean a whole lot, did laundry, ran the dishwasher, and dropped an old computer monitor off to be recycled.

For those of you who don't know computer monitors contain a whole lot of stuff you probably shouldn't just dump in a landfill. The CRT especially contains a good deal of heavy metals that are used as shielding to prevent outside electromagnetic fields from playing tricks with your picture. Chances are your state has facilities to recycle these materials instead of just throwing them out. If you live in Delaware, follow this link for more information. If you don't try looking it up on Google.

I like to recycle. I know I'm a right winger, but I'm also cheap and I think our society should still be concerned with the amount of waste we generate. God gave us this land to use it and tame it, but not to screw it up. Good stewardship is good stewardship.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Military Travels

Will Collier has a piece on how travelers are not always tourists.

People like to assume that the Red Staters are neanderthals who have never left their home towns. The problem with this is that most of the red states have deep military traditions. So many citizens are military men, women, or families that have lived abroad for years at a stretch. Compare that to some New Yorkers who haven't left Manhattan in years. The point here isn't that Red is wise and Blue is stupid. The point is that it is foolish to prejudge others with labels like Red or Blue.

Gun Safety

Kim du Toit has a little advice for gun owners with kids. Its pretty good. He mentions that properly trained, your kids can be perfectly safe around guns provided they don't have friends over at which point their little brains can go out the window.

One thing he doesn't mention, but is significant, is that you really shouldn't leave them unattended. If you are leaving the house, lock up everything you aren't taking with you trained kids or no. If you don't have those guns in custody you don't know what could happen. You could come home to find that junior brought a friend over. You could come home to find that a burglar has acquired the means to kill you from your very house. Why chance it?

Here Pretty Polly

In a similar spirit to Who's in the White House, I present Monty Python's The Dead Arafat Sketch.

UPDATE: It appears Arafat has actually died. Let us pray that this results in a new Palestinian Leader who wants a better future for his people without resorting to the sword to get it.

Who's in the White House?

In the spirit of purely partisan gloating, go here.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

College Student Organizations

The Volokh Conspiracy is running a couple of posts about rules of Student Organization conduct at U of Tulsa's College of Law. Here is an excerpt:
student groups that "undertake[] to question the legitimacy of another student organization or deliberately question[] the programs of another student organiz[a]tion" will lose their funding from the student government (funding that I assume comes from the school), and "[i]nstitutionally, . . . may jeopardize their recognition as a legitimate law school organization."
Evidentally this is aimed at stifling partisan political divides at Tulsa Law. I hope its not aimed at shutting the Christians up.

I say that because I was the Treasurer of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship at the University of Delaware for three years. Including staff salaries (2 full-time and 1 part-time) our organization probably had an operating budget getting close six figures. We received something in the mid two figures from the university. Thats right our grand funding from the university might have paid for some of our yearly copying costs. The only reason we bothered to stay an official Student Organization was that it gave us easier access to school facilities like rooms and offices. So both their threats would carry little weight with the church set.

Monday, November 08, 2004

Good Answers to Bad Questions

Somehow we got onto the topic of answering questions and I brought up the topic of the Mu answer. I mentioned this example which comes straight from the Jargon File:
The correct answer to the classic trick question “Have you stopped beating your wife yet?”. Assuming that you have no wife or you have never beaten your wife, the answer “yes” is wrong because it implies that you used to beat your wife and then stopped, but “no” is worse because it suggests that you have one and are still beating her. According to various Discordians and Douglas Hofstadter the correct answer is usually “mu”, a Japanese word alleged to mean “Your question cannot be answered because it depends on incorrect ssumptions”.
This use of Mu is not technically correct outside of hacker speak as Mu technically means "empty" or "nothing". At the time I said english had no translation, but now I realize that Null probably fits. Yes I realize that the concept of Null has many meanings, but so does Mu in the original Japanese. Both literally indicate not one or zero, but empty or void.

We think that if the concept gets around, it may one day result in political debates sounds like "Mu! Mu!" while the other person waves his hand and says "Bah! Bah!". Barnyard politics indeed.

Religious Polarization

Matthew Yglesias is commenting on the correlation between increasing religious involvement in politics and dropping rates of church attendance. Here is a quote:
America used to be so religious, that it didn't make any sense to make an issue out of religion for campaign purposes. But religiosity has been dropping to the point where there's the sort of roughly-even divide at which it makes sense to mobilize observance (or non-observance) for political purposes.
I think the study basically gets two things wrong because they seem to completely miss the polarization of the American church along conservative and liberal lines. I wrote about that a bit here. The good thing is that the two parts balance out.

The first thing is that they place a lot of importance on the drop in church attendance and then talk about the right wing political Christians. The problem here is that the right wing Christians, by and large, are not seeing a drop in church attendance. It is the left side of the church that is dying out not the right.

The second thing that makes up for it is that they miss the drop in ideological consensus between the political branches of the church. Before the two sides split during the 1960s, there was a lot of consensus within the church over fundamentals like the divinity of Christ. With the split the two sides have moved apart ideologically. See the whole problem with homosexuality in the Episcopalian church for an example of that. So even if the church population wasn't dropping, half of the country still wouldn't be believing what the other half does.

In the end I think that its the decline of Christian ideology that is bothering Christians. I think that church attendance is a bad metric, but their thesis is still fairly sound.

UPDATE: Some people are interpretting this as "the religious culture of America is dying and these are its death throws". Evangelicals like Jeff the Baptist are fighting a lost cause. Nope. What is happening is that the religious culture of the left is dying. This is a well recorded fact. The right is still going fairly strong and, as these articles point out, are getting fired up. So don't wait up for the religious right to be bred out of political discourse.

Good Food

Messy Christian took a day off to do several things including eat sushi with her sister.

Amybear and I are big sushi fans. We both got into it my senior year in college. My neighbor in the dorms made his own sushi. He cooked the rice and rolled his own maki. It was yummy as long has you had the sense to avoid his more questionable creations and made sure he was using fresh meat. Incidentally, if you can't get over the raw fish part, sushi is technically vinegared rice not raw fish. So there is cooked sushi (mostly shellfish) and vegetable sushi.

Since then Amybear and I have tried a bunch of places and even resorted to making our own. Its not that hard to make amateur sushi and you can buy a simple kit that will serve you well (and contain instructions) at most online cooking retailers. As I said, make sure your meat is fresh. Farm raised salmon never enters fresh water so its a very good choice, if a bit fatty. (Humans are fresh water creatures, so the salt water fish means that we're immune to most of their micro-organisms.) Get to know when the local supermarkets get their fish deliveries and work your cooking schedule around it. Your local asian grocery or, in cosmopolitan areas, even your supermarket will have the necessary other foodstuffs like nori and wasabi.

To continue my trend of endorsing local Delaware businesses: Try Grand East Buffet at the corner of Foulk and Naamans in Wilmington. Its in the same shopping center as the ACME. It has become my and Amybear's favorite restaurant. Grand East has decent (although admittedly not spectacular) sushi, its all-you-can-eat and included with the regular buffet. I paid $10 for a good sushi/chinese lunch yesterday. Thats half what you might pay at other places. My parents are even starting to eat sushi there. This is a major accomplishment considering my parents, they won't eat any sushi I make.

Sunday, November 07, 2004

Range Report: FN Hipower

I took my hipower to the range for the first time since I had the trigger job done. It was wonderful, the trigger broke like glass at a perfect weight. My brother was somewhat envious and called it money well spent.

Bad news was that the trigger was great but I was pretty consistently shooting to the right. For those who don't shoot handguns that usually means I'm using too much trigger finger and "pulling" the shot. I was doing it repeatably which made me think the sights were a little off. Unfortunately my brother shot dead on with it and the other gun we were shooting was pulling right for me as well. Darn it! I have nobody to blame but myself. I hate it when that happens. I want someone to blame.

Oh by the way, I had my trigger work done by Cayley Carson at Newcastle Gunsmithing. If anyone is in Delaware and wants his email address or phone number, drop me a line. I don't think he'd appreciate me posting it without asking. My email is on the profile page.

Saturday, November 06, 2004


I just saw it this afternoon with a bunch of people from church. It is an excellent movie. Action, comedy, sentiment. Its a tour de force. Go see it. If Amybear hasn't seen it by the time I see her next, I'll be more than happy to see it again. Oh and the Star Wars teaser was ok. I'd like to go on the record saying that National Treasure looks really stupid.

UPDATE: Given this some more thought. The movie is really really good. I gave serious consideration to picking up City of Heroes or just digging out a copy of Champions or GURPS Supers. Ok ok just kidding no movie is good enough to make me want to play GURPS.


I've been reading Matthew Yglesias more lately. He's a Democrat, but doesn't seem to follow the usual Democratic folly. That doesn't mean he's always right mind you. Take this quote from here:
Kevin's assertion that "the South is lost to the Democratic party," however, seems off-base. Most notably, Florida certainly isn't lost to the Democratic Party.
I'd just like to point out that Florida is not a Southern state. Oh its pretty far south, but culturally Florida is like Texas, a rule unto itself.

Here is another bit from further on in the same post:
One consequence of Bush's victory-through-regional-polarization should be that Democrats don't need to put up with Republican governors in California, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, etc.
Yes because it is not like the Democrats are at fault for contributing to the polarization of American. No that is something Bush created despite the fact that the vote in 2000, before he was elected, was similar to 2004. In any case, the truth is that the party that becomes dominant is going to be one that broadens its base and overcomes the current pigeonholed status both parties are suffering from. I think the Republicans are doing a much better job of this currently and the election backs this up. But its just currently.

Several of his commenters are pointing out that to overcome their regional problems, Democrats should start bringing more candidates forward from the West. They are of course missing the true regionalism of both parties. It has nothing to do with east, west, etc. It has everything to do with the urban/suburban/rural divide. Remember this post? Look at the map and notice the cities are blue and the suburbs/country is red. Democrats are still going to have trouble no matter where their candidate is from.

Friday, November 05, 2004

Insulting Libertarians

Randy Barnett at the Volokh Conspiracy is typing about Republicans insulting Libertarians. He has some good points. Randy points out that the winning party in a two party system is often the one that can hold together the most diverse coalition without fragmenting. One big problem is that he, by and large, misses a bigger point. It goes like this:
I believe that libertarians were in both camps this time around. Of those who did not vote Libertarian, anti-war libertarians ... supported Kerry. Those libertarians who support the administration's strategy for fighting the war ... voted Bush.
So the libertarian vote was split. He goes on to write:
It ill-behooves one constituent of a winning coalition to gratuitously insult another member.
Do these two statements jive? If the libertarian constituency was split are they really members of the coalition at all? Keep in mind half of them voted for the other guy. If I vote Bush and my (hypothetical) wife votes Kerry, can you call us a Republican couple? No you can't.

Thats why if the libertarians really want to have strong political influence, they are going to have to finally take sides and really join one of the two coalition parties. Then they will have a reason for complaint. Until then you can't have your cake and eat it too.

Video Game Piracy

Amybear sent me this link. Essentially video game piracy has really been on the rise as of late. Several very popular games were hacked and released on the internet before they made it to retail. GTA was still sold out everywhere I went, so its unlikely the bottom line at Rock Star is to blame.

I seem to recall Penny Arcade (see The Funnies section on the sidebar) talking about the sheer number of games coming out lately. Frankly everybody and their third cousin is coming out with a game right now in order make the Christmas market. The game industry has not, as of yet, figured out that while Christmas is big you also face the stiffest competition then as well. People can only afford so much. So GTA, Halo 2, and Half-Life 2 are going to corner their market segments and lots of smaller games will never see any play and will disappear into obscurity. On the other hand if they came out over the summer they might get crazy amounts of play.

So what? Well because people can only afford so much that tends to add to demands for piracy. I want those games, I want them now, I can't afford them, oh look the internet...

When I was younger and had no money, piracy was an option. Now my view is more like this:
Many consumers, meanwhile, said they'd never consider pirated versions. Not only would it spoil the surprise, gamers tend to be devoted followers of game creators.
I have no problem giving people my good money for a game that I enjoy playing. I have the money to spend and $50 is not a lot when you consider that I will be playing GTA:San Andreas for months. Its much more cost effective than a 2 hour movie. Even though I now have a DVD burner sitting on my home computer, I have no desire whatsoever to pirate a game. If I see a game I want but don't want to pay the exorbitant release price for, I wait until I can get it used or Greatest Hits. Not hard.