Saturday, November 13, 2004

ambition and God

Kathleen Parker has an article about the Democrat's new strategy of exploiting God for political purposes. This is bad news for the Church. When it becomes politically expedient to call yourself a Christian, it creates an incentive for the most ambitious and ruthless people to worm their way into the Church under false pretenses.

Of course there always have been and always will be birds (evil people) nesting in the branches of the great mustard shrub/tree that is the Church, but under normal circumstances the harm they can do is limited. But when the Church becomes a source of political power, the damage that can be done grows enormously.

This, incidentally, is one of the reasons that evangelicals oppose large church hierarchies --they create political power centers that will naturally be coveted by unbelievers. They create an incentive for unbelievers to become counterfeit believers.

Secularists have accused "Christians" of all sorts of evil: the Crusades, the Inquisitions, inter-Christian religious wars, Nazism, the Oklahoma City bombings, and others. Nearly all of the accusations about events after the enlightenment are historically ignorant or otherwise mistaken. But accusations about earlier events have some merit.

Some of these earlier events have been twisted by the prosecution. The Crusades, for example, were a defensive war against a dangerous religious movement that fully intended to wipe out Christianity. Many people don't realize that most of the Middle East and Mediterranean were Christian at one time and that they were violently converted by Muslim armies. The Muslims had no intention of stopping at Turkey, and if Europe had not gathered together to fight back, the Muslims would likely have conquered all of Europe, piece by piece. Yes, there were atrocities, committed, but nothing that was uncommon for warfare in that day and age.

But that still leaves the inter-Christian wars and the Inquisitions. Both of these are enormous stains on the honor of the Church. And both of them happened because the Church was politically significant, a source of power and prestige that was coveted by ambitious men.

If there had been no incentive for ambitious men to join the Church and seek promotion within its ranks then these things wouldn't have happened --or wouldn't have involved the Church. If the only powers of the Church were to grow believers and to spread the Word, then the only men seeking Church leadership would have been men who were ambitious to do God's will.

UPDATE: La Shawn has some comments on the Democrat's new strategy too, and she quotes something from David Limbaugh on the subject. So far I haven't seen anyone else worried about the influence of power though...

Friday, November 12, 2004

some called him a genocidal lunatic

Where I work out there are five TV's running and you use headphones to listen to the sound from the one you want. Actually, there are two rooms with five TV's each and oddly enough, Fox news is always one of the five channels in each room. Did I mention I live near San Francisco?

I tried it today for the first time. Oddly enough, the Fox channel sound was at a lot lower signal strength than all the others. So much so that you can't hear it at all at normal volume settings and I spent quite a bit of time playing around before I realized what was wrong. It's almost like a conspiracy.

While switching around, I caught an announcement of Arafat's death on a local news program -- Arafat, "a man some called a terrorist".

Yeah, just like Hitler, a man some called a Nazi. Or Stalin, a man some called a communist. Like that, I guess.

who's smarter

The leftist blogs are passing around a table purporting to show that the people in blue states have higher IQs than people in red states. Unfortunately for their desperate self-esteem-generating ploy, the table is a fraud.

Michelle Malkin responds with an interesting generosity index that shows (with real, actual data) that red states tend to be more generous than blue states. This won't impress the leftists. Since when have they ever cared about people sacrificing to help others? No, the left is only impressed when someone forces others to sacrifice to help others. It's so much more fair when everyone is forced to do it, you know.

So, not willing to let the IQ thing die, I decided to look up SAT scores by state and see how Bush did. If Kerry had done better I wouldn't be posting it but...

So here it is. Real actual data from the College Board (which, by the way "strongly discourages the comparison or ranking of states on the basis of SAT scores alone". That's probably why I couldn't find this table for 2004 and had to go with 2003 data.)

Now, if I were going to be act like a conservative, I'd be honest and explain why this comparison is probably not valid (even though the data is real, actual, data as opposed to made-up data). But instead, I'll leave it to those brilliant leftists to figure out why the states are not really comparable.

Meanwhile I'm going to act like a leftist: Nyah, nyah! We conservatives are smarter than you leftist wingnuts! You're all so stoopid you can't find your butt with both hands. And you come from stoopid states too. If you were smart like us you would vote Republican. Nyah, nyah!
State Average Vote
North Dakota 607 Bush
Iowa 591 Bush
Illinois 589 Kerry
Wisconsin 589 Kerry
South Dakota 588 Bush
Minnesota 586 Kerry
Missouri 582 Bush
Kansas 580 Bush
Nebraska 575 Bush
Michigan 570 Kerry
Oklahoma 565 Bush
Tennessee 564 Bush
Utah 562 Bush
Louisiana 561 Bush
Arkansas 559 Bush
Mississippi 558 Bush
Alabama 555 Bush
Kentucky 553 Bush
Colorado 552 Bush
Wyoming 548 Bush
New Mexico 544 Bush
Montana 540 Bush
Idaho 540 Bush
Ohio 538 Bush
Washington 531 Kerry
Oregon 526 Kerry
Arizona 524 Bush
New Hampshire 521 Kerry
Massachusetts 519 Kerry
Alaska 518 Bush
West Virginia 516 Bush
Nevada 513 Bush
Vermont 513 Kerry
Connecticut 513 Kerry
Maryland 512 Kerry
Virginia 512 Bush
California 509 Kerry
New Jersey 508 Kerry
New York 503 Kerry
Rhode Island 503 Kerry
Indiana 502 Bush
Maine 502 Kerry
Hawaii 501 Kerry
Pennsylvania 501 Kerry
Delaware 501 Kerry
North Carolina 500 Bush
Florida 498 Bush
Texas 496 Bush
South Carolina 494 Bush
Georgia 492 Bush

At Back of the Envelope

All of the titles at Back of the Envelope on Thursday began with the letter A. For a guy who complains to be too busy to write, he sure seems to have some extra time on his hands...

travel brochures

Whoever wrote this for travel brochure is working in the wrong genre:
We rise early to start today's extraordinary journey, which takes us deep into the Mayan underworld known as Xilbalba (shil-balba), a mythical realm inhabited by spirits and powerful gods, an underworld of untold fears and dreams where Mayan shaman, in supposition to the gods, ventured into darkness to conduct their secretive rituals.
Oooh. Shivers.

AIDS and vacations

Oh, and for those of you who are going to make connections between the two posts below: one on vacations in Thailand and the Philippines and one on AIDS statistics in Thailand and the Philippines, I suppose I should explain where that came from. No, I was not doing research to see which place has the safest sex tourism. Well, not for personal use, anyway.

I had mentioned to a friend that I was thinking about going to Thailand and that one of the attractions was the Thai women. I was speaking in a strictly look-and-don't-touch sense (although it isn't beyond the bounds of possibility that I could meet someone and end up doing some touching), but he misunderstood, and told me that Thailand has one of the highest AIDS rates in the world. This piqued my curiosity because I thought no other country was even close to some African countries. I did some research on it and that's what led me to the Philippines/Thailand AIDS comparison.

So get your head out of the gutter, already.

Oh, and Thailand is nowhere near South Africa and some other African countries, which are running around 1/4 of the adult population with AIDS. But there are some parts of Africa where it is still very low.

guest blogging and vacations

I've been invited to guest-blog over at DGCI. Here's my first post.

I mentioned my slow blogging there, but I thought I should say it here too. I've been extremely busy lately. And besides that I've been suffering from a lack of enthusiasm. Writing takes a lot of effort to do it right. It's so much easier to just scan other blogs and enjoy the work that others have done.

Besides that I've been planning my vacation. Since I haven't had a real vacation in many years, this one is going to be pretty ambitious and requires a lot of work. I have to get my passport renewed, get in better shape, take a refresher SCUBA dive, maybe take a refresher sail if I have time (although that's not as important), and most of all, figure out where to go. Right now the top contender is Belize. They have reefs, jungles, whitewater rivers, and Mayan ruins. I could get myself killed several different ways.

On the other hand, I've always wanted to visit the Philippines. The tourist attractions aren't as good there, but they do have lots of Filipinas, which I consider a tourist attraction all by itself. Similarly for Thailand, which has a more active tourist industry. On the other hand, I'm not excited about a long flight in a too-small seat. So it's probably going to be Belize.

I need a new cell phone too. Maybe I'll get one I can blog from and do some vacation blogging to make you all jealous.

Monday, November 08, 2004

AIDS and condoms

This is interesting. This article chastises the government of the Philippines:
The Philippines' campaign against AIDS has been slowed by opposition from the dominant Roman Catholic church to the distribution of condoms, widely considered as helping prevent the spread of the incurable disease through sex.
The pretext of this article is the visit of a Thai senator who is affectionately called Mr. Condom.

What they don't mention is that Mr. Condom's program has been a miserable failure in Thailand --acountry that after two decades of free condoms now has a million AIDS cases --over 1.5% of the population.

Meanwhile, the Philippines has been following their own AIDS-prevention program that has proven impossibly successful --there have only been a few thousand cases. Even if you recklessly assume that only one out of ten cases is reported as Mr. Condom does, the Philippines has had fewer cases of AIDS in its entire history than Thailand did last year. Back in the mid eighties, both countries were about equal with a few hundred cases.

Now, I'm not opposed to birth control so I have no objection to condoms on that score. I'm also not opposed to condoms as a life-saving device. If you are going to have sex with a stranger, I encourage you to use one. I'm not trying to make any kind of moral point here.

But what about evidence? What about trying two different solutions and seeing which one is more effective? How can anyone look at these two cases and remain smugly certain that a free-condom program is the best way to prevent AIDS?

I'll tell you. This is one of the points of faith of the reality based community. You just don't question your points of faith. So much for reality.


Storyblogging Carnival Five is up over at Back of the Envelope.

Go check out some great on-line fiction.

Sunday, November 07, 2004

an open letter to Cameron Diaz

Dear Ms. Diaz, I've been unable to find your phone number so I'm attempting to contact you with this open letter. I'm sure you've been expecting something like this. You were obviously hinting at it when you said "Women have so much to lose. I mean, we could lose the right to our bodies. If you think that rape should be legal, then don't vote. But if you think that you have a right to your body, then you should vote."

Well, as you so greatly feared, George Bush has won the election and I regret to inform you that you have lost the rights to your body. In fact the knuckle-dragging set of the VRWC has held already held the auction. But in the midst of your despair I have some great news. The winner is none other than me, Doc Rampage! (I have to admit that I was a little surprised at this since my bid on you wasn't really serious. I put my serious money on Vanity.)

Please deliver your body to my place Saturday, around 7 pm for inspection. Wear something sexy and bring beer.

Thank you.

the alternate-reality-based community

Some of those in the so-called reality-based community are calling for president Bush to "reach out". By this they mean he should abandon his principles and the people who voted for him in order to placate and soothe the people who voted against him.

Just what reality is this community based on?