Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Health Food

Went into a health food organic grocery today with the adopted family. It had aisle markers featuring such items as "nut butter" and "naked fruit juice". Is it organic foods or orgasmic foods? Anyway Amybear and I were snickering for a quite a while. And nothing is going to get me to buy a bottle of almond butter. It is just conjuring up images I'd rather not revisit.

On an different note, I'd like to point out that Amybear is the best girlfriend in the world. She is also reading over my shoulder as I type this on her laptop.


I'm in sunny Florida right now. It was 74 and gorgeous in Sarasota today. I have to worry about sunburn and its december. I love this state. Gloat gloat. Sorry for all you people up in Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Delaware. Granted I post to at least one Malaysian blog, so people who live in the real tropics can feel free to gloat to me later. But right now I can be happy.

I'm starting to understand the snowbird phenomenon now. I left Philly with snow on the ground. After many hardships, which I will write a separate post about, I got to Florida with lows in the 50s and highs in the 70s. And people here are complaining about the cold. Spoiled geriatric brats.

The population shift is funny though. Farther north grocery baggers are usually pimply faced teenagers. Here they are the swinging youngsters of the retired set, namely people in their early retirement years. There also seems to be an inordinate number of doctors, dentists, and plastic surgeons.

Its even funnier because the status of the individual is not necessarily reflected by the individual around here. It is by what their children do. For instance Pee Wee Herman's parents live about a block from where I'm typing this. God only knows what their names are, but they have some small measure of fame around here.

Sunday, December 26, 2004

Division in the Church and the Endtimes

I got to church late today. It was in that no mans land between when sunday school has reached critical mass and when the service actually starts. So I can't go into sunday school school without drawing undo attention to myself, but luckily I wasn't alone. I ran across a friend named Patti who was in the same situation.

So we struck up a conversation about theology since our class is about historical christian theology. Long story short we both have a healthy distrust of philosophical christianity that doesn't root itself in scripture. Its way too easy to get down a rabbit trail.

We also talked about stupid divisions in the church. Case in point: Interpretations of Revelations. How many churches have split over a-, post-, pre- millenialism? It seemed foolish to both of us since your breaking fellowship over interpretation of prophetic scripture. It has happened yet people! Nobody will know who is right until it is too late. God himself has said he is deliberately obfuscating things so we won't find out beforehand. If only the father knows the right answer and he has said he isn't telling, why are you fighting about it?


I flying down to see Amybear tomorrow. I packed whatever I could think of. Now I'm playing the "what did I forget" game. I'm sure if I wanted to do the work, I could fit in a Rumsfeld quote here (we know what we don't know... blah blah blah). So far I'm missing shampoo and a belt. Oops.

The fun is really going to begin once I get to the airport. I haven't flown since 9/11 so I'm expecting to pay penance for whatever sins I have committed since then. My layover going down and coming back are both below an hour. Unfortunatey I don't think it is humanly possible to pack for a week in Florida in a carry-on bag. I tried though and if the airlines are lazy enough maybe I'll get away with it.

Christmas Holidays

Christmas was at my parents this year. Unlike Thanksgiving which saw something like 8 kids and 12 adults at the house, this was a fairly quiet affair with only 6 adults and two labrador retrievers. I kind of liked it that way and I didn't feel the need to flee to my apartment to get away very often. In fact things were mostly the opposite, nobody was doing much of anything and it got boring quickly. Oh well. At least there were doggies. I miss my dog.

On a sad note one of my sister's dogs isn't doing well. He is 13 years old and has definitely moved into geriatric decline. This morning they took him to a local vetrinary hospital because he started having a rapid heartbeat sometime last night. The took time sleeping next to him during the night and nobody got much sleep. Its hard on my sister and brother-in-law since their dogs are basically their children. Amybear noticed it too when she was up, something about my sister relating to everyone according to their pets.

Hopefully Mars will pull through.

Friday, December 24, 2004

Merry Christmas

Well folks I told you that blogging will be sporatic and that is proving to be an honest assessment. Amybear went home today so there may be a bit more blogging for the next few days. Then I go to sunny Florida to be with her again. Woo hoo!

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Sweat Shops

Here is an interesting commentary on "sweat shop" labor policies from someone on the developing nation side of things. She basically says that rich liberals from developed nations (like the US) are busy-bodies who should shut the hell up about the plight of the worker in developing nation (like her native Malaysia). Definitely worth a read.

Dinner and Shopping

Amybear and I went out to eat at the Blue Crab Grill last night. Its in the shopping center on Elkton Road at the intersection with Rt 4 in Newark, Delaware. The prices were a little higher than I expected ($15-25 for most entrees) but the food and service was excellent so the money was well spent.

Amybear ordered Shrimp Sambuca which was quite yummy. I went with Drunken Snow Crab Legs which was also wonderful. Amybear informed me that my ability to de-shell crabs legs and extract large sections of intact meat is very sexy. Who knew?

We went shopping at Walmart afterwards. I bought some computer paper (I'm out at home) and my brother's birthday present. The place was packed, but this concludes the christmas shopping for my immediate family this year. I still have to pick up some packages from where my complex is holding them, but otherwise I'm good.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Christmas: The Great Diversion

A lot has been said about the Happiness of Holidays compared to the Merriness of Christmas. For some reason this is a big deal this season. The disposition of the various bell-ringing foot soldiers in the Salvation Army has also been brought up ad infinitum. I've written about it here too so if anything I've fall into the same folly.

Frankly my fellow members of the faithful, I think we've been duped. I think we may have fallen, yet again, for the diversionary movement of the devil. We are sitting hunkered down in our little Christian foxholes, shooting at the stuff we can see, while the whole army of hell starts turning our flank.

Sorry, I work for the Army so my military analogies may occasionally get the better of me.

Church this weekend featured a short video during the service about the Christmas Story. It constituted what was basically Jaywalking segment ala the Tonight Show, where a guy with a microphone and a camera interviewed people on the street about "the Christmas Story." What was it he asked? The answers ranged from little Ralphie with his Red Ryder BB-gun, to Ebenezer Scrooge and Tiny Tim, to presents (thanks Eric Cartman), and then to the coming of Santa Claus with his tiny reindeer.

Finally, this guy with a big red knit hat, a big white beard, and a red Christmas tree sweater got it right. He looked a lot like Santa, but frankly he was probably a truck driver or Unix programmer. What he said went something like this:
2000 years ago God sent his only son to earth as an atoning sacrifice for the redemption of sins.
Folks this is what I am talking about. We argue about social issues and holiday observance, but we are forgetting to tell the real story to those who don't know it. Telling the real story is our mission, to share the truth of Christmas to the world. Not just one day a year, but every day and often.

Christmas is about the greatest gift ever. It is about a gift given unto each one of us personally to accept or reject. It is about the redemption of humanity from the shackles of death which he brought to completion at Easter. It is about Gods Gift that no wrapping paper can contain. Shout it from the rooftops! Unto us a child is born! Unto us a Son is given!

And then when you get hoarse from shouting, sit back and think about the Christmas story. The Prince of Creation born in a lowly stable because there was no room for him at the inn. Both lowly Shepherds and noble Magi coming to pay him homage. They brought gifts which Joseph and Mary probably spent during their frantic flight to Egypt in order to avoid the agents of Herod who sought the head of the newborn King of the Jews.

Its a pretty amazing story, isn't it? Now think about why God did all that. Why did he send his Son to die so that we might live? The answer can only be that he loved us. Think about the immensity of that love. Mankind, for as nice as we seem, stood condemned eternally before that day and God was completely justified in doing so. But now we have life and abundantly.

So my brothers I give you this lesson. Christmas is not a winter holiday. Christmas is an eternal thing to be celebrated and shared year round in our hearts. A big part of the reason we have to fight about the nature of observance and a hundred other things is because we keep Christmas shut up inside us way too much. Let Christmas out. Let Christ out.

Gun News: Lott Scholarship

Meanwhile in other news, John Lott's scholarship surrounding the effect of gun laws on crime rates is still under fire. A scholarly look is here.

Lott has been subject to a lot of criticism. Some of this is because he seems to argue like a dumbass. If you are the author of a scholarly work, you should not be getting down and dirty in internet flame wars with your opponents. You especially not do so by using an assumed name and pretending to be someone else.

That said reception of Lott's work has been mixed. For those not in the know, Lott's work indicates that there is a reduction in violent crime when states pass conceal carry laws. He also indicates that property crime increases as criminals retask away from involving people. Others have used his data and methodology to replicate his results with good success. On the other hand altering his statistical methodology may change the results a lot.

The truth is that the relationship between concealed carry and crime is not as strong as people on either side would like. It is a very noisy data set and strong results one way or another seem to be dependent on the outliers. Most states falling within a region of statistical insignificance. Florida strongly supports Lott. West Virginia goes the other way. Most other states are in the insignificant middle.

Frankly I'm fine with statistical insignificance since I prefer to err on the side of freedom anyway. If anything his work still debunks the Wild West assertions of the anti-concealed carry crowd.

On a related topic, Dave Markowitz has gun ownership rates for Shall Issue states here.

Conservative Celebrity Showdown

Who is your favorite Ann Coulter or Laura Ingraham. While both ladies are pretty cute, Coulter fits squarely in the "more heat than light" category. Laura Ingraham, while less famous, is that way because she is no where near the divisive ideologue that Coulter is. Between the two Coulter will win. However add a few angry liberals and all Ingraham will have to do is get out of the way while the libs attempt to physically tear Ann limb from limb. Ann knows how to shoot though, so the liberals should probably watch out...

Gun News: SF Ban

Several blogs are reporting on San Francisco's proposed handgun ban. A quick look around gives us Michelle Malkin, Clayton Cramer, Eugene Volokh, Publicola, and of course the Blogfather.

Very rarely will you hear me advocate violence against law enforcement agents or people in government. I'm not one of those folks who says they will shoot the mayor if he raises taxes again. But this really really bothers me. If someone came to my home to forcibly disarm me, I doubt I would go easily. This sort of thing gets really close to when I start to consider my government a tyranny in need of overthrow and start quoting Jefferson's "blood of patriots" remarks.

Self defense is a fundamental right. It is more important than even freedom of speech because defense is a guarantor of freedom of speech. It should not be so arbitrarily taken away. The SF ban not only bans all possession of handguns within the city limits (except for police and security personnel who are accorded a protected status). It also bans sales, transfer, and distribution of all firearms (not just handguns) as well. Which means that as the grandfathered arms wear out, it will likely transmute into a total firearms ban within city limits.

The good thing is that Frisco (not "San Fran") tried this in the early eighties when it was ruled by Diane Fienstien. For those that are into federal weapons politics, yes that Diane Feinstien. The one who opposes all conceal carry laws when she herself is one of only 10 Frisco residents with a permit to carry. Anyway the old law passed but was shot down by the courts for overstepping the authority of the city. It is likely this will fail as well. Thank God.

The rationale behind these things is flawed. The idea is that when a cop sees someone carrying a firearm they will be able to react proactively and arrest them for possession before anyone is hurt. The problem is that there aren't and won't ever be enough cops around for this to work. Most "civilians" don't see the gun until it is pointed at them. Furthermore (1) most criminals do not have guns legally and (2) the carry rate in California is low so (3) they can already use this tactic now. People are realizing this and so the lawmakers are hedging their bets by adding suicide and public health to their rationalizations. Both are poor arguments by the way.

When are we going to realize in this country that this sort of legalism is not the answer? Freedom is the answer. You have to trust that the good folks will outnumber the bad folks and you have to empower the good people to protect each other.

New Harry Potter

Evidentially Book 6: "Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince" will be coming out this summer. Woo Hoo! Give us all something good to read. Hopefully this one will be a bit better than the last one, where Harry was just a little too petulant for my tastes.

Some Christians don't like the Potter books, usually for stupid reasons. I enjoy them a lot and their tone always struck me as very similar to C.S. Lewis. The dry wit and sense of just desserts the characters received was very similar. They don't have Lewis's biblically based symbolism of course, but I'm ok with that. They aren't Christian works, they are secular works.

When many of these same folks started complaining about Tolkien because of the prominence of the Lord of the Rings movies, I knew they were fools. Tolkien was a Christian and a major Christian influence on C.S. Lewis and others. Labeling the Lord of the Rings unchristian is utter foolishness. Again its a secular work, but it shouldn't be compared to devil worship.

Monday, December 20, 2004

Dialects: Soda/Pop/Coke

Matthew Yglesias is writing about linguistics. Virginia is a "soda" state not a "coke" state like the deep south.

No big surprise because, frankly, Virginia is not a deeply southern state. Amybear figured this out by going to school in North Carolina which is a lot more southern. But North Carolina isn't a coke state either. Evidentally Pepsi is big in eastern carolina near where Amybear is going to school, so around Greenville you get Pepsi for all soft drinks not Coke.

If you want to look at maps for all these sorts fo things you can try here. It has not only coke/pepsi/soda, but pill bugs and number of other linguistic comparisons.

UPDATE: Glenn Reynolds is posting on it too.

UPDATE2: The dialect servey has moved from Harvard to U of Wisconsin, Milkwaukie here.

Artificial Life

I'm glad I'm not the only one weirded out by this. Joshua Claybourn thinks this is straight out of Mary Shelley.

Frankly I'd just like to take this opportunity to state my opinion on bioethics. It sucks. I trust the moral judgement of a bioethicist about as far as I can throw said bioethicist. This is because a few people I know from college wanted to go into that field and they were some of the most morally judgemental yet morally inferior people I know. Basically they were both haughty and bossy. Granted this is a small sample of the bioethicist profession, but it basically formed my opinion and everything I have heard from the field confirms it.

Long story short, I'd love to hear a bioethicist step up and say "we should not pursue this avenue of research, it is highly unethical and immoral". Instead what I usually hear is "well if you do the following ethical sommersaults, this is perfectly fine." Great. Basically bioethicists seem to be in the position of providing convenient justifications for the use of questionable technologies. They are not ethical auditors, my experience has been that they are professional rationalizers and enablers.

My experience is also that this is what happens when you talk about ethics without talking about morals. Ethics is a code of action. It doesn't have anything to do with right or wrong. That is morality's area of expertise. You can be perfectly ethical (an have integrity too by the way) and still be a perfectly horrible person. You just have to be consistent about it.


Is it just me or the Iraqi "insurgents" being referred to as "rebels" more in the media. Perhaps this is because the Iraqi government has developed an air of legitimacy?

Ill Weather

Its cold in the northeast today. When I got in my car to go to work it as 8 degrees (F), but -12 with the windchill. My girlfriend says that makes it mega butt cold. Frankly butts aren't that cold anyway. I think to progress downward to "feet cold" myself.

Kazu Kibuishi

He draws several comics which can be found on his website. If I come across a copy of the Daisy Kutter sci-fi western in trade paperback, I will definitely be picking one up.

Wedding Bells

Ike (Izzy) and Liz got hitched this weekend. Eventually the official pictures will be up here. I have a couple pictures I took, but I need to shrink them down and host them somewhere before I can put them up on this site.

The wedding was very nice. Ike didn't run and Liz looked great. Amybear came up so she could go with me and Amy was tearing up (as was the bride for most of it). Liz's side of the aisle was slightly fuller than where Amy and I were sitting on the groom's side. Everything was Christmas seasoned because the church was already decorated as was the reception location. First time I saw a nativity scene next to the dance floor at a wedding reception though. The couple also had a brand new red Pontiac GTO on loan from friends at Harco. Ike really liked the car. I have some pictures of it too.

It was a fairly traditional evangelical wedding. Groom and company were up front, bridesmaids process in followed by the bride who is escorted in by her father. The used a unity candle ceremony I had seen before. If you aren't in the know, a member of each family lights a candle and then they use those to light a single large one to symbolize two becoming one. There were of course vows and rings, although the bride and groom weren't wired for sound, so it was a little hard to hear exactly what they were saying. The kiss and then present the bride and groom and everybody processes out to the receiving line.

The reception featured good food at a restaurant right next to the C&D canal. It was really funny because you could see these huge ships moving down the canal a few hundred yards away from where you were eating. They have to pass under a bridge and a particularly big ship builds a sort of dramatic "will it hit tension" that distracts from the wedding festivities a bit.

Oh and one of Ike's groomsmen bought 20 cases of Cheerwine from a distributor in Virginia. That was great because Ike loves cheerwine (its a cherry soda found mostly in the south) and everybody at the reception got to have some from coolers they had lying around.

Ike and Liz are also intimidatingly good dancers when that part of the party got going. Ike even flipped Liz during a spirited swing number. Yes evidentially aerials were allowed on the dance floor. *Insert head-over-heals joke here*

Amybear and I had a few thoughts regarding our eventual nuptials. First, we want to get married in warm weather, especially since we will probably be having the ceremony outside. Ike and Liz chose winter because neither is done grad school and they wanted some time off together following the wedding, which meant Christmas break. Second, Amybear wants to go for a princess look with her wedding dress. Liz was more sleek and modern. Third, we want one big room for the reception. Ike and Liz had two adjoining rooms. They had the dance floor in one room (an enclosed porch actually). The other room had the couple's table and the food. They balanced the two rooms well because at some points in the reception the focus was on the wedding couple's table/buffet, but at others it was on dance floor festivities. I'd like one big room if I can help it though, not being able to see the best man when he gave his toast was really annoying. It also took all the fun out of ringing your glasses.

UPDATE: Michael Dean was there with his wife and he has a picture of the limbo contest at the reception up on his site.

Blogging Haitus

Well the holidays are upon us and that means I probably will be blogging more sporadically until the new year. Between the holidays, Amybear's visit to Delaware, and my trip down to Florida to visit her at her grandmother's, I just won't be close to a good internet connection much. The next three days should be pretty solid, but after that it will be getting more disconnected.

Friday, December 17, 2004

Earthsea: McMagic with a Side of Swordplay

So I watched Legend of Earthsea on the Sci-Fi channel this week. Slashdot has a discussion of it here. Ursula Le Guin, the author of the Earthsea books, is not especially happy with the way the movie turned out.

Long story short Ms. Le Guin is very upset with the racial protrayals in the movie. In the books, the protagonists and most other main characters are black or "red" skinned. (Its set in another world so calling them Native Americans or African Americans is pointless because there is no America or Africa.) In the miniseries, most characters are white with the traditional token "Asian" or Black person thrown in. Honestly its been so long since I read Wizard of Earthsea that this difference didn't occur to me. Even after she pointed it out it still doesn't bother me.

Appearance is one of those things you expect to get screwed up when movies are made. Some things look good in the author's head but they don't look good on screen or they want to use visual cues for concepts. So in the book Ged is a red-brown man chased by a dark spirit. In the miniseries he is a white guy (wearing light colored clothes) chased by a dark spirit. The white/dark contrast is visually useful. Also Le Guin is a liberal feminist so her villians are the white Kargs and her heros are the black/red peoples of the Archipeligo. That kind of racial politicking is tiresome for me. Just make everyone mixed, ok?

The first book is a story covering years as the characters age, but a movie doesn't have that expanse of time to play with so they make it more straight forward. I'm fine with that. I'm also fine with them dropping the depth of the True Tongue out of the script, because they just don't have the time to cover it.

The more upsetting part is that they completely screwed with sexuality in the production. In the book the wizards are all male, the priestesses are all female. Both are celibate orders. When the two meet and form an alliance it is after overcoming a lot of ingrained distrust. In the movie the priestesses are women, but evidentally not celibate, and the wizards are both men and women. It ruins the symbolic dichotomy of the books.

And of course they took the plots of the first two books in the trilogy and ran them through a blender. If I was an author, this is what would really bother me. I haven't read the second book Tombs of Atuan, so I can't tell exactly what they made up and what they just changed and reordered. Le Guin did not like the sappy happy ending though and I agree. They went for a more cliche boy meets girl story and everyone is happy in the end. Her books ended with a lot of dynamic tension and thats a good thing, if for no other reason than it tends to leave room for sequels.

UPDATE: Eric Raymond also thinks the racial thing is overblown.

Target and the Salvation Army

Everyone has heard that Target isn't allowing the bell ringers this year. So I made the following promise to myself:
For every dollar I spend at Target, I will give fifty cents to the Salvation Army.
It works well. It both discourages me from making purchases at Target and it gives me reason to donate to charity when I do.

Side note, while Target is banning the Red Kettles, Walmart is matching donations up to $1 million. This started yesterday and runs until christmas.

Girlfriend is Coming

Amybear is coming to see me. At this very moment she may be on 95 North driving up. Woo Hoo! We haven't seen each other in months so I've been looking forward to this for a while.

As a result of the anticipation, I spent some time after bible study last night cleaning. My apartment is not immaculate, but it has reached a state I will refer to as "man clean". Other men entering it will not feel compelled to rib you about its uncleanliness. After all their sinks have a few whiskers in them too. Women will usually grab some chemicals and start scrubbing the kitchen though.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Prisoners of War

Mrs. du Toit is responding to the claims that we are holding prisoners of war indefinitely without trial. Her answer: yes we are, because they are prisoners of war not criminals. Its a good read. Go read it.

Al Qaeda Policy

QandO has an analysis of Al Qaeda rhetoric. Long story short, here are the conclusions:
One year ago, Al Qaeda believed the Caliphate could best be established by detente with the House of Saud, and War against the United States.

Today, Al Qaeda seeks detente with the US, and war against the House of Saud.

What changed? And why now?
My guess is that the US and our coalition have been hitting them hard on all fronts. The Saudis have been hurting them in the Kingdom. We have been inflicting asymmetric casualties on them in Iraq and we show no signs of stopping. So their answer is to ask for a cease fire from the US while they rebuild their operations in the Kingdom. We have them on the run. The conspicuous lack of rhetoric surrounding the reestablishment of the Global Caliphate is the key. What we are seeing is an attempt at strategic withdrawl so they can regroup and rebuild.

Which Superhero are You?

Parableman is Batman. Sweet. Jollyblogger is Superman. Wuss. I'm Batman too incidentally. Thank God, I'm not Superman. Yeah dark and sinister me.

To take the test yourself go here.


Some very foolish gardeners in Australia were told to create geometric images with flowers for a Christmas display. So they put the flower pots in a swastika design. Stupid gardeners. Their use of red and white plants (Christmas colors) was especially bad. The local Jewish population was especially unamused.

To be fair this is Australia and the gardeners may have been immigrants from somewhere in Asia. While westerners only think of the swastika as a symbol of the Nazis and anti-semitism, Hindus and Buddhists have used it as a symbol of good luck, life, and the sun for several millenia. The Japanese call the symbol "manji" and use it to mark the location of Buddhist temples on maps. The swastika and sauvastika (which spins the other way) were also used by Christians because it is an obvious variation on the Cross. The Hebrews used it too pre WWII. For more on the swastika look here and here.

I know a little bit about this because the main character in the Japanese manga Blade of the Immortal, Manji, uses the swastika as his name and personal symbol. The story is set in medieval Japan and the writers put a preface about the sauvastikas use on the inside cover of all the American manga.

Let me reiterate, the gardners were idiots. Despite the fact that it is considered lucky in the east, I'm not going to be putting it on anything ever.

Morning Instapundit

So I hit Instapundit this morning and saw a lot of interesting stuff, for instance:Glenn Reynolds is right about the last one.
... theologically, I think Satan and the Antichrist are distinct.
Theologically "antichrist" is not a word reserved for one man. It tends to be used that way in the Revelations context. However 1 and 2 John talk about there being multiple anti-christs. I believe that "anti" in Greek means simply means "against". So these men (and they are men not supernatural beings like Satan) are people who oppose Christ and try to lead the followers from the faith.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Comments and Trackbacks

La Shawn Barber will be reworking her blog for the New Year. One of the things she is mulling over is whether to have comments and trackbacks on the reworked blog.

For those that aren't bloggers, comments can be a pain if people want to be asshats. You end up having to moderate them and that takes time you really would rather spend on something else. Chances are if I ever get sufficiently popular comments will be going bye-bye here as well. Too much trouble for one person. I might switch to a robust threaded system with moderation points like Scoop or Slash instead, but the likelihood of me wanting to put that much effort into the blog is low.

Trackbacks are a different matter though. Very few people are willing to be total asshats on their own blogs. Plus most of the people I know personally that leave comments on my blog have their own blog or online diary. Folks, it ain't that hard to manually send a trackback ping via Haloscan. If anything going trackbacks only might force people to link to me and improve my Ecosystem ratings.

I also think that some level of ideological checks and balances are necessary to keep the blogosphere running properly. This way if someone disagrees with me or I'm wrong about something, you can go straight to their post from mine. This is what has the potential to make blogs much more accurate than standard journalists. Instant fact checking and the like.

I have also noticed that a lot of the top conservative/libertarian blogs don't have trackback or comments. Some of the top liberal blogs do and liberal blogs seem to be growing better than conservative ones. This may be because liberals flame conservatives more, but in any case I believe we conservatives may be stunting our ideological growth here.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Range Report: New Handgun Shooters

Grrr I wrote one, but Netscape/Blogger ate it. I'll replace this with good stuff later when I'm in a better mood.

UPDATE: OK lets try this again.

I shot a Browning Buck Mark during my trip to the range this week. The gun is .22 long rifle and it had the problem of all range 22s: dirt. I had several failures to extract the round that resulted in "stovepipe" jams. I had several failures to feed the next round off the top of the magazine. No failures to fire though. My guess is that the grit and dirt in the gun were just slowing the slide motion down and throwing everything off. I need to get around to buying my own Buckmark.

The trigger on Buckmarks is nice and I shot ok. Just ok. I even got a compliment from one of the guys shooting in the next lane over. But I need to dry fire more because I'm either pulling the gun right or jerking the gun down. Or both.

The real interesting thing was that there were several new shooters at the range. One was a couple looking to burn up a $100 gift certificate they had been given. The other was a guy just looking to get into shooting. This is a perfect opportunity to give my standard advice for new handgun shooters.

If you are unwilling to train frequently you really shouldn't be shooting a handgun. Handgun shooting is physically complex and involves coordinating lots of little physical movements. Buy a shotgun or rifle if you must have a gun. If you have to have a handgun, but don't want to train buy a revolver. They are simple, reliable, and easy to learn. Double action is quick but inaccurate. Single action takes longer but has an easier trigger pull for better accuracy. A Smith and Wesson .357 magnum is a great choice, shoot .38s for practice and .357s if you need to defend yourself.

If you are willing to train, then join a shooting range with a good rental selection and free rentals for members. This will save you money in the long run. Shoot through their rental selection and see what you like.

You will eventually want to buy your own gun. My first suggestion is a 22 pistol. .22lr is cheap so you can shoot a lot, but range .22s usually aren't cleaned often enough to be completely reliable out of the rental case. Your own .22 will help get you lots of trigger time. If you want a handgun with more stopping power for home defense, then go with a 9mm automatic. You have an idea about which one from your adventures in the rental case. 9mm is the cheapest of the major calibers to shoot, but it still packs an adequate wallop with good ammunition. Good ammunition is key though. You want hollowpoints for defense with 9mm, but test them in your gun to make sure it is reliable with them. Hollowpoints are expensive though, so once you have made sure your gun is reliable (a few magazines full with each magazine should do) switch back to standard full metal jacket.

Alternate History

Instapundit is talking about alternate history. No not revisionism that everyone hates, I mean the science fiction kind where something important occurred in the past happened differently and the world is changed. One notable set of short stories is the Lord Darcy collection written by Randall Garrett. In those stories the Plantagenett line of British kings (like Richard the Lionheart) continued unbroken and came to rule most of the world.

Another common theme that comes up is "what if the Germans had won WWII". An interesting short story I read on the subject had the Germans taking over colonial rule in India. Lets just say Ghandi did not fare as well against them.

Lip Gloss

Did you know you can make your own? Amybear found out and did it. Kinda neat. My girl is so smart and you can't have her.

Monday, December 13, 2004

Antony Flew and Abiogenesis

British athiest philosopher Antony Flew isn't anymore. This story has been flying around the christian blogosphere a lot lately. I first saw it on One Hand Clapping. It has also shown up on Evangelical Outpost, Parableman and In the Agora. It was an interesting story but fairly well covered.

Since then GetReligion and Parableman have had follow ups dealing with rebuttals from the athiest community. A common comment denying his "conversion" (more on that later) use words from Flew himself:
We negative atheists are bound to see the Big Bang cosmology as requiring a physical explanation; and that one which, in the nature of the case, may nevertheless be forever inaccessible to human beings. But believers may, equally reasonably, welcome the Big Bang cosmology as tending to confirm their prior belief that "in the beginning" the Universe was created by God.
The problem is that flew wrote those words in 2001. This is not Flew denying his conversion. This is Flew writing on a similar topic over three years ago.

Flew's actual "conversion" is worthy of note. He is now a deist similar to Jefferson. He is not a Christian in any way shape or form. The main reason for this conversion was his inability to reconcile certain incredible improbabilities that are required for abiogenesis and cellular level evolution.

Abiogenesis (literally beginning without life) is the process where a batch of non-living chemicals become living cells capable of reproduction. Once you have a that cell, evolution can work on it to build complexity through known selection mechanisms. At least in theory it can. One of the early assumptions in evolution was that abiogenesis was simple, it is not.

Evolution has been called an analog theory for a digital medium. When you look at multi-celled life forms you can pretend that the steps are small and basically continuous. When you look at the cellular level, evolutionary increments have "zoomed in" and become leaps requiring multiple complex biochemical components interoperating simultaneously in order to function. The more we learn about cellular biochemistry the more we learn that it is complex and even small evolutionary steps are non-trivial. In some cases cellular systems don't seem to have intermediaries that still satisfy evolutionary requirements for net benefit to the lifeform. Systems with this problem can be termed "irreducably complex."

Michael Behe, a biochemist and intelligent design advocate, compared this to a mouse trap. If you take away any component, it doesn't catch mice. Even if you have similar components lying around (some type of spring, a few pieces of metal, a wood block, etc.) the likelihood that they could be assembled into a functioning mousetrap is low. So how do you build such a system through selection? The answer Flew and others have come to is that you can't, these systems are irreducably complex. Flew postulated that a higher being contributed to the assembly of the mousetrap either by reducing the improbabilities involved or by performing actual assembly.

I have read evolutionists attempts to solve this problem, but they usually amount to little more than sophistry and wishful thinking that still leaves large gaps. The first few chapters of Richard Dawkins'The Selfish Gene come to mind. Lots of hand waving, little hard data at present.

UPDATE: Matthew Yglesias is covering it and he has a few links to athiest bloggers if you want to read them. He also makes this very astute observation:
Its upshot is, for all intents and purposes, the same as the upshot of atheism. If I decided that Flew was right, I wouldn't start behaving differently in any way, or even need to modify my beliefs about any other subject.
He is right of course, which is why the huge impact of this story is kind of funny.


Ambra Nykol is writing about how Martin Luther King's image is being appropriated by various groups. The paragraph that struck me was this one:
Liberals and gay-rights activists (often mutually exclusive terms) are outraged at the fact that their beloved Dr. King was associated with anything opposing homosexual marriage. Among the many protesters from gay-advocacy groups were signs that read "I STAND IN OPPOSITION OF NEW BIRTH'S HOMOPHOBIC MARCH". Right. I love how the Left uses "homophobia" as a scare tactic. As if being called that is something new or offensive.
I find being called a homophobe very offensive myself. Is anybody else sick of the left sticking this label on anyone that disagrees with them over gay rights?

What is a phobia? It is an irrational fear of something. So in this case anyone who disagrees with the gay rights agenda must have an irrational fear of homosexuals. They've managed to wrap multiple fallacies in one statement.

First, by labelling everyone this way you are excluding the middle. Sorry folks, but I can disagree with the moral legitimacy of homosexuality without being afraid of you in the slightest. I know and like a lot of gay folks. I'm straight, but I'm opposed to gay bashing as much as you are. I even support Pink Pistols, which helps gay folks learn to practically defend themselves from violence via firearms training.

The second is the obvious combination of ad hominem and begging the question. Homophobia is a bad thing, so obviously a homophobes arguments bear no weight. Similarly since phobias are irrational, therefore their arguments must be irrational as well.

Sunday, December 12, 2004

Bachelor Party

My coworker Izzy is getting married this coming saturday. We had a bachelor party for him last night. Since we're all christians it was fairly tame. We took him out for the classical christian vice: vast quantities of red meat. This was followed by bowling. We didn't do anything really fun to him, like strip him naked and tie him up in the middle of New Jersey with only cab fare. Which is fine by me because I am going to get married sometime in the future and he would remember to do it right back to me.

Bowling sucked for anything other than general male comraderie. It was cosmic bowling,. That means lots of smoke, black lights, and bad loud music. Its a hoot if you are drunk. We weren't. It isn't so much of a hoot if you want to throw a ball down a lane and knock down any pins. At one point the smoke machines were on so heavy we couldn't see the other end of the lane. It became a game of guess where the ball went. But hanging out with everybody was fun.

So at the end of the night I was hoarse from yelling over crappy music and inhaling smoke. Oh and turns out one of the guys I didn't really know at the party reads the this blog. He was all nice when he found out I write it. Hey Tim!

My Coolest Years

VH1 seems to have a show about what famous celebrities were doing when they were in high school. They decided to call it "My Coolest Years." What I have learned so far was that these people were not cool in any way, shape, or form duing those years.

The episode I saw was on metal heads and in general they were just drunks or stoners who couldn't get chicks to save their lives. It wasn't until they actually got good sometime in their early twenties that they could be considered somewhat cool. Lets face it, if I were Dave Grohl, I would shoot whomever called 10th grade my coolest years. His coolest years are obviously now, when his band rocks and he is banging Carmen Electra on a regular basis.

Saturday, December 11, 2004

Amybear Where Are You?

Amybear is still down in North Carolina doing work on her thesis. She'll be up next week for Izzy's wedding. Anyway maybe she should have come up this week. I was at Concord Mall (her favorite mall) at Eastern Mountain Sports (one of her favorite stores) doing some shopping. Low and behold a band marches by with drums, brass, baton twirlers, and a color guard. Amybear really should have been there.

Blogging about Blogging

Greg Wallace has a new address on Blog Spot. He used to be on Typepad, but he's decided to move to Blogger because of maintenance troubles with his Typepad blog. Go figure. I always thought Blogger was the lowest of the low (but free!). I guess the grass is always greener...


Donald Sensing over at One Hand Clapping is an ex-FORTRAN guy. Who knew? My parents are both FORTRAN folks as well. My dad met my mom because she was a punch card girl at Pratt & Whitney where he was an engineer. So in a way I wouldn't be here if not for FORTRAN. It also got me my current job with the Army because I could deal with the metric ton of old FORTRAN code lying around.

I have a warm spot in my heart for FORTRAN programming, mostly because it is significantly more difficult to screw up than C or C++. Plus it is a lot easier for a compiler to optimize FORTRAN than C. The language is more structured and it pays off. Unfortunately some of the free fortran compilers aren't fortran compilers at all. For instance I use G77 a lot at work, but G77 is basically the GCC compiler with some translation code stuck on the front end. So its a C compiler and the runtimes show it. Ah well.

Friday, December 10, 2004

d20 Sandwich Making

Ala, Penny Arcade I roll twenties indeed.

Oh and some Seattle radio guy is mad at them. It seems someone didn't call someone else and so he decided to rail against all nerds everywhere for being bastards. Nevermind that the interview was supposed to be about raising money for childrens hospitals through Penny Arcade's Childs Play charity.

I find it funny because I know who Gabe and Tycho at Penny Arcade are. I have no idea who this guy in Seattle is. Its quite possible they have a bigger audience than he does. Oh and while he was yelling they raised $17,000 for kids. Pompous ass.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Blogging Trainwreck

You have to regret it when a post goes from an argument or discussion to a train wreck. Its a shame when it happens to someone you respect and enjoy reading like McQ at QandO. I'm not saying that he's completely wrong or anything. I'm saying he's gotten way too close to his subject and it shows.

I ever get that wrapped up in something I write, please leave a comment on the order of "Trainwreck" and I'll at least shut the post and its comments down for a cooling off period.


OutKast meets Hanukkah. Its especially funny because he spells all the yiddish/hebrew strangely. Usually there are double "N"s or "K"s in Hanukkah.

By the way, for those of you who are either not Jews or bad Jews, Hanukkah started 2 days ago at sundown.

(Hat Tip: Volokh Conspiracy)

Presents for Your Lady

Joan at Seven Inches of Sense has some interesting suggestions. She also posted some valid prohibitions. Amybear is getting a trip to Build-a-Bear. She already knows so I'm not hurting anything telling you guys. I believe I will be recording some messages for her on the electronic voicebox.

UPDATE: The first post had the wrong permalink, its fixed now.

Military and Armor

Instapundit is reporting and commenting on the members of the military having a desire to up-armor everything.

This has long been a complaint of service members. There are also very good reasons to prevent it. One of the important problems is that on the modern battlefield speed is life and adding weight to a vehicle chasis both slows it down and reduces its reliability. However it pales in comparison to the major problem: its easy to screw it up and actually reduce the vehicles survivability.

Uparmoring to many members of the military translates to "let me weld some steel on this pig if you won't do it for me". So they do wherever they want and with no regard for how it will actually handle blast, fragment, etc damage. Guess what happens? The IED goes off, it throw its own fragments around, and hits your vehicle with blast too. However the dumbass job you did of armoring the vehicle means their blast and fragments blow your crappy armor all over the place. Now you have supplied large metal plates and additional smaller fragments to act as lethality enhancers for the enemy. Best yet, you probably put most of your crappy armor around the personnel compartments, so you have put it exactly where it will do the most damage.

So your guys end up deader because you decided to amateur uparmor the cabin of your humvee. This is precisely why the Army has rules against this sort of thing. There is a high harm to good ratio.

Now the guy reaming out Rumsfeld just wants more approved stuff for his unit. Welcome to the US Army. The worst warfighting machine in the world except for all the other ones... Well, maybe the Marines have us beat. :)

UPDATE: Matthew Yglesias is saying that Rumsfeld is giving the troops the finger. Whatever.

FURTHER UPDATE: Michelle Malkin has referred to this as the armor gap and said that the government is rectifying this. I get her point but I think the term "armor gap" has false implications.

In the missile gap we were worried about the Reds (you know before that meant hicks in fly-over country) having more missiles than we did. This isn't the case now. The enemy has very little armor, certainly none equivalent to our own. The "gap" is between what we have and what we would like to have given infinite time/money/etc.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004


The other day my girlfriend was talking about how the cute the colored dumplings in the paxil ads are. I guess I don't get the point of drugs for social anxiety. I mean haven't we been proscribing various mixed of water and ethanol as a treatment for this for years? Paging Dr. Daniels, Dr. Jack Daniels.

I suppose even if liquor were equivalent to paxil in its socializing effects it probably doesn't have some of the liquors side effects like:
  • Headache
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Memory loss
  • Waking up with really ugly people the next morning

Schlock Mercenary

Darn you Eric Raymond and your links to comic strips. Reading Schlock Mercenary has basically killed my productivity. Err. Well it has kept me from blogging much because I've been reading the comic strip. Ah well only a few more months of strips to go.

UPDATE: Ok so I finished the backstrips. I find it especially impressive because he never misses a day of the comic over something like 4 years. Thats a lot better than most web comics can say. Now returning you to my former blogger form of unproductivity.

Charitable Giving

Jim Jewell has some suggestions before you start participating in this season of giving.

I got a call from the Fraternal Order of Police and gave them a small donation. Hey they're cops right? Yeah turns out they are major gun control supporters too, which I found out in short order. Great I just helped to bankroll a group that wants to prevent me from defending myself. If I'd listened to Jim perhaps I wouldn't be kicking myself.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

How Do You Keep a Fool in Suspense?

How do you keep someone busy? Zoom in on this.

This Day in History

In 1941, the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. I've often wondered if we shouldn't employ the Japanese to do our diplomacy for us. "No no. You no wanna bomb US. We drop thousand bombs, sink lotsa boat, and thought we so smart. They drop two bombs, just two..." A couple talks like that to, say, North Korea might straighten them right out.

In 1787, Delaware was the first state to ratify the US constitution.

Ivy Leagues

To think, its this kind of ingenuity and hard work that won us WWII and got us to the moon.

Merry Christmas -> Happy Holidays

GetReligion is posting on groups trying to keep Christmas Merry. Frankly I don't see what the big deal is myself. I'm more than willing to have a Happy Holiday considering that Jews, Christians, and African American Hippies all have celebrations in this time period. Since my girlfriend is Jewish I can appreciate wanting to be inclusive in this holiday season. Aren't there more important things to be activists about than "Merry Christmas." Like making sure people don't freeze to death this holiday season?

There is a catch however. I better be seeing Happy Holidays consistently throughout the season. I remember flipping on local TV to see "Happy Hanukkah" and "Have a Gay Kwansaa" (or whatever the appropriate salutation is), but never a mention of Christmas. I'm not happy about that. It better not be Hanukkah and Kwansaa commercials, but Seasons Greetings or Happy Holidays for Christmas. If you want to mention each holiday individually then do so. If you want to lump them together then lump them. Just don't leave me out either way or I'll be legitimately pissed.

Oh and I never got "Season Greetings". What kind of slogan is that? I recognize the Season part, but "Greetings"? Its like putting a sign up that says "Hi, it's Christmas!"

UPDATE: If your really serious about Merry Christmas being the only option, then talk to these people.

Monday, December 06, 2004

NAACP Stupidity

Armstrong Williams is alleging that Kweisi Mfume was kicked out of the NAACP by NAACP Chairman Julian Bond. Williams recounts:
The rift grew as Mfume continued to reach out to the Republican Party. Mfume realized that by reflexively voting Democrat in every election, the black voting populace has given away most of their political bartering power. After all, what incentive is there for either party to go out on a limb for blacks, if it is taken for granted that blacks will automatically vote Democrat?
And a little later in the article:
The final tear came after the election. Mfume suggested sending a letter to President Bush, mapping out ways that they could work together to help the community. Bond rejected the idea. Mfume sent the letter anyway. To Bond, this was an unforgivable.
I wrote in this post that Mfume's defense of Condoleezza Rice would have me looking out for low-flying non-kosher livestock. Unfortunately it appears I was right. The Democratic establishment that rules African American leadership cannot allow this sort of breath of fresh air with respect to racial politics. Furthermore the NAACP cannot be allowed to actually become the non-partisan political entity its tax-exempt status purport it to be. I find this deeply troubling and unfortunate.

On the other hand I hope Mfume continues to pursue his course without the NAACP behind him. I honestly think working with whomever is in power, Republican or Democrat, to address important racial issues is the best way to go about things. Unfortunately the NAACP puts politics above that.

As a side note, I'd like to point out that the National Rifle Association is the oldest civil rights organization in the US. It was formed at the end of the nineteenth century, the NAACP was formed at the beginning of the twentieth. Last I checked, the Second Amendment is a civil right and, as importantly, one often infringed upon in order to oppress minorities like formers slaves in the post-bellum South.

(HT: LaShawn Barber)

Socialized Medicine: More TennCare

I wrote about it here and here. Opinion Journal just put a piece here.

Long story short, TennCare is expanding at such a rate it is threatening the financial health of the entire state. It is already eating a third of the states budget, yet it only covers 1.3 million of the states 5.8 million people. Insurers are running from it like rats from a sinking ship. Those that didn't make it out soon enough have gone bankrupt. Lawsuits are preventing the state from getting the program under control because of equal access laws.

Its a mess and highlights all the important failing of these sorts of programs. When the Democrats bring this crap up for the next election, remind them of what happened here.

The folks at QandO share a similar opinion.

(Link via Instapundit)

Red and Blue Population

Michelle Malkin is posting on Red and Blue birthrates. This has been a blogosphere trend that several blogs on my roll have commented on in the past.

Most of my family is fairly conservative. Granted my extended family lives in Connecticut so you have to process that by the sliding scale of conservativism in the Blue states. Most of my family is also fairly, *ahem* fertile. All my cousins on my mothers side have several kids each. My immediate family is the exception. My brother is bachelor and probably will be for life. I'm not married yet either, but have good prospects in the immediate future.

My sister and brother-in-law are the sole militant blues in my family. They have been married since I was in junior high and have had 3 dogs, but no kids. They have no plans to have children and get quite annoyed if you bring it up. So the paradigm is holding well in my personal experience.

AIDS and Sex Ed

King of Fools is talking about sex education. I tried quoting him, but his tone makes it difficult to do that an still understand what he means. So I dropped the post and instead I will paraphrase.

The typical sex education argument is that kids are going to have promiscuous sex anyway, so we need to emphasize condoms and "safer-sex" over abstinence education. Now the problem is that this logic is self defeating because it is based on the idea that kids lack self control. If they won't control their urges to have sex in the first place, then why will they control them to the extent of putting on a condom during sex?

I agree with him. What we need to start doing is expecting self control from kids. Why is it that expecting kids to behave properly is instantly classified as "repression" by the left? Thats what I want to know.

A bigger surprise came from this link in the comments section. Long story short, Uganda has been heavily emphasizing abstinence education for years. They have one of the lowest AIDS infection rates in Africa. Other nations are starting to follow their lead. So much for it being a foolhardy strategy. Thanks for the proof of theory Uganda.

UPDATE: Joe Carter is discussing sex ed at Evangelical Outpost Specifically he is discussing the Waxman report. Rep. Waxman (CA-D) basically lambasts abstinence based sexual education.

Self Defense

Instapundit has a story on British legislation "which calls for the public to be given an unqualified right to self defense against intruders in their own homes." He links to this opinion piece in the Telegraph.

The US does not have any such law on the federal level. Some states do and they are often referred to as Castle acts. I believe this comes from the saying "a man's home is his castle." I live in Delaware though so around here it could be named after Mike Castle, former governor and current House Rep. I hear this used generically for all states however, so I don't think this is the case.

I digress... In self defense law, most states require you to run away from a threat. Delaware has the clause "if you can do it safely/reasonably" in there, but not all states do. In states where you are required to run away all the time, you can literally run yourself into a corner and then be legally required submit to being attacked, rather than respond with violence to defend yourself. The reasonable clause means that if he has a gun, you don't have to run away and let him shoot you in the back. You can shoot him in the front with your own gun (should you have one). I prefer this system.

States with castle laws exempt your home and, in some states, your place of business from requirements to withdraw from a threat. The logic is that you are supposed to be safe in those locations. Your are supposed to run to your home or office so you are not legally required to run from it.

Careful though, this does not mean you can shoot any intruder. You can always defend yourself, but you probably have to worry about appropriate levels of force. So if he has a knife, you can usually shoot him. (Most states have a 7 yard requirement, but within the home you are almost always within 7 yards.) If he is unarmed, lethal violence would still be considered legally excessive and you could wind up in prison.

I'm using a lot of "probably", "could", and "mights" because each state is different. It pays to know your state laws. is a good place to start.

Sunday, December 05, 2004

The Power of Pringles

Wireless networking is becoming more and more popular. Unfortunately some people, like my girlfriend Amybear, are stuck with crappy wireless connections due to proximity. She has free wireless through her complex, but she lives so far from the hub that she usually doesn't get enough signal. Anyway a cheap way around this can be found here. It basically teaches you to construct a wireless antenna out of some washers, bits of plastic, and a pringles can. Net cost is about $10 for two. Performance is comparable to units costing 15 times that.

The South

I'm a Yankee. I was talking to my girlfriend today and she mentioned Christmas Parade town near where she is going to grad school. Evidentally she saw some clips on TV that included the newly crowned Ashville Collared Green Queen riding through town in a convertable waving to the crowd. It just seems so 1950s to me. Guess I've just become accustomed to big city ways. Collared Green Queen? *shakes head*

Friday, December 03, 2004

Iranian Army of Martyrs

QandO is posting on the development of an Army of Martyrs within Iran. They have recruited over 20,000 suicide bombers since June with membership including woman and seven year-old boys.

According to Foriegn Ministry Spokesman Asefi:
The group’s campaign to sign up volunteers for suicide attacks had “nothing to do with the ruling Islamic establishment” adding that if “some people do such a thing [it] is the result of their sentiments. It has nothing to do with the government and the system”.
If they really have nothing to do with the government and the system, then would the government object if we started martyring them early through our own means? Probably. Maybe we should start a martyring school in Iraq. Here son, lets take you down to the martyring test range so you can make some dry runs. ;)

Nobody really wants to go to war with Iran. It isn't a fight anyone would win easily. We would much rather reform the country peacefully by encouraging its internal democratic movement. Evidentally the Iranians have realized this. They have concluded quite correctly that they cannot win the war of ideas. What they don't seem to get through their turbans is that the war of bullets is even more lopsided.

The sad thing is that if they do this, they won't just be pissing us off. They will be pissing the Iraqis off too. They are just handing the Iraqis reasons to build themselves into a regional power with a strong government that hates Iran.

Battle Bots Hits the Big Leagues

The US army is purchasing combat robots for use in Iraq. These are remotely operated ground vehicles for use in explosives disposal, scouting, and Military Operations on Urban Terrain (MOUT). Its nice to know that there are multiple failsafes put in these things so that the operator can shut them down at the touch of a button. For those of a more peaceable nature, the military is also developing larger autonomous vehicles that will be used as stretcher bearers, cargo carriers, and robotic ambulances to decrease their logistics tail.

(Link via One Hand Clapping)

Thursday, December 02, 2004

2004 Weblog Awards

Well I'm in the running here for the 1750 - 2500 Category. Similarly Joan and Jimmy at Seven Inches of Sense are in the running for 3500 - 5000. How my blog ranks better than theirs in the Ecosystem, I'll never know.

Anyway go out and vote for your favorites.

Democratic Bible

QandO is reporting that Nancy Pelosi has been quoting from Matthew lately to improve her Holy Roller numbers. I'm honestly unimpressed. For those of you don't know, if you want to be a liberal and quote scripture you quote the Synoptic Gospels: Matthew, Mark, and Luke. If you are conservative you quote John and Paul.

The folks over there come to similar conclusions I did in the Jesus was a Commie? post. To wit:
The real problem isn’t so much that the leaders of the Democratic Party aren’t familiar with religion. The real trouble is that their religion is the religion of the State; a belief in an all-inclusinve--or exclusive, as the case may be--state secularism.
To refer back to my original post, liberals tend to put the state in the position over stewardship that is usually reserved for God.

Holiday Sales

I've been hearing a lot about declining holiday sales, especially declining sales during the shopping season's opening weekend right after Thanksgiving. There is one thing I'm wondering about though. Have people considered that with the Christmas Season starting as soon as the Halloween decorations come down, this might degrade the importance of Black Friday?

Seriously, I started noticing the typical looney holiday shopping behavior well into the middle of November this year. I approached a mall or shopping center and the other cars on the road seem to just drive stupider. People get more aggressive at left turns, etc.

I wonder if anyone has any numbers to check this with...

Socialized Medicine: Cont'd

I mentioned Tennessee's TennCare program briefly in my socialized medicine post. Bill Hobbs is writing about Tennessee Governor Phil Breseden (D). Breseden is gathering the political clout to cut the program by appealing to the democrat education lobby. Essentially he is promising that the money freed up "re-prioritized" on schools.

Its a good idea and nice peace of political maneuvering. Unfortunately, its still just moving bloated government spending around instead of cutting it back.

Apartment Troubles: Cont'd

Remember this post? Well Steve Larrimore from Flynn & Larrimore suggested I consult my copy of the Delaware Landlord Tenants code. I believe the relevant section is here:
(1) Failure to remit the security deposit or the difference between the security deposit and the amount set forth in the list of damages within 20 days from the expiration or termination of the rental agreement shall entitle the tenant to double the amount wrongfully withheld.
My rental agreement was legally terminated in September 31st. Because of their mismanagement of my notice, they consider it legally terminated October 29th. Whichever is the case, they now know they are in error and it has been over 20 days since either date. I'm fully within my rights to invoke the penalty.

If I receive a check from them soon, I may still be merciful (and lazy) and let it slide. The woman doing the accounts is new to the job. I'd hate to see her get punished for something that her predecessor probably screwed up. I'm willing to forgive and forget provided this is settled promptly now that they know their error. I'm a nice guy. But it needs to be settled by the end of this week or I'm invoking the penalty. I'm not that nice.

Thanks Steve. We've had our differences, but if I decide to go through with this you will have paid for all my Christmas/Hanukkah shopping this year.

Church and State

My email box has seen a lot of use lately. Its funny because my blog honestly doesn't get that much traffic, but ok. For some reason everyone decided to email me yesterday.

Anyway James Jewell emailed me a link to his post on church and state. It is not revolutionary or world changing mind you. If you're an evangelical like me you've seen some of it before and you are familiar with his line of reasoning, but the particulars are pretty good. So if you have some time, feel free.

Worlds Worst Christmas Special

Glenn Reynolds has a post up on the top ten worst christmas specials ever. Fortunately they are made up. If you want perhaps the worst real christmas special ever, look at the Star Wars Holiday Special.

I'd also like to point out that Bruce Vilanch was one of the writers. Vilanch went on to become the head writer for the Academy Awards for the last few years. Kind of explains why they have been sucking lately, doesn't it? If you saw a big fat gay man that seems to be all beard and hair, you have seen Bruce Vilanch.

Christmas Reminder

I received a link to this in my email at work.

During this holiday season, it is important to remember the soldiers, airmen, marines, and sailors that are abroad working on our behalf. They may be far from home but they are close to us in our hearts and prayers. Thank you, ladies and gentlemen of our armed forces.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004


Matthew Yglesias is posting about David Brooks piece on John Stott. Here is a quote from Yglesias:
Among other uncompromising views, Stott "does not accept homosexuality as a legitimate lifestyle." ... According to Brooks, not everyone on the religious right is a mad dog, nutty, hate-filled, gay basher. Some people are, like Stott, calm, cool, collected, intellectual, self-reflective, gay bashers.
The problem here is that like many a liberal before him, Yglesias equates "gay basher" to "regarding homosexuality as morally illegitimate." Allow me to explain why this is inappropriate.

"Gay bashing" has definite violent connotations. It once referred to ambushing someone like Matthew Shepard and beating him to death with baseball bats. Now it might refer to heaping verbal and emotional abuse on a homosexual for his sexual orientation. However are all difference of opinion "bashing"? No. So a difference of moral opinion doesn't qualify, provided you do your best to keep the discussion calm and rational. Either you support gay rights or you "bash gays" is the fallacy of the excluded middle. There are middle paths where you both oppose violence, but deny moral legitimacy.

Now if you want to call "regarding homosexuality as morally illegitimate" discriminatory, then you have a case. Except that not all discrimination is bad. Racial is bad. Unless its Affirmative Action which is defined as positive discriminatory behavior to offset previous discrimination that has had an adverse impact. Sexual is bad. Unless its Affirmative Action again. Or if the fundamental physiological differences between the genders are significant, like in medicine. The discrimination debate is anothe whole can of worms frankly, but you could make the argument there.

Getting the point? "Bashing" is over the top.

Daily Significance

Today is World AIDS Day. People who have lost loved ones are asking that you take time to explain things to your kids and participate.

It is also the 49th anniversary of when Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on the bus to a white man. It was not the first time she had stood up for herself, but it would start something wonderful.

Oh and Day by Day is back.