Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Conservatism Is A Disease

Hey, it has all been explained. The good folks in academia have figured out that "being conservative" is really just a personality defect tied to "hard times". I'm thinking that would mean that they would be inclined to not hold it against folks with an "R" next to their name because maybe us poor folks were just "born that way" like homosexuals, pedophile or  murderers. All of those folks have "no control", so what they do shouldn't have any "judgment" applied to their acts.

Conservatives though, as we see below are authoritarian, dogmatic, can't tolerate ambiguity, need a lot of control, are anxious over death, not open to new experience, risk averse, fraidy cats, etc. I guess the problem is that conservatives are just "bad to the bone" and probably "not fixable". It is clear that when it comes down to i liberal standards are quite high!

Say a nice pedophile though that rapes 8-10 little kids and kills them in some horrible way. Obviously, they are more "open, willing to tolerate ambiguity, not prone to any fixed standards, not worried about any sort of dying or certainly not judgment" ... basically good liberal folks that anyone would be proud to know. Sure, molesting and killing kids could be seen as a "mistake" (at least by the "rigid and close-minded"), BUT, since the liberal mind is so adaptable and willing to change, a short conversation with say a therapist, and anybody but someone that has that irredeemably horrible "R" next to their name would say "good to go"!

Analyzing political conservatism as motivated social cognition integrates theories of personality (authoritarianism, dogmatism–intolerance of ambiguity), epistemic and existential needs (for closure,regulatory focus, terror management), and ideological rationalization (social dominance, system justification). A meta-analysis (88 samples, 12 countries, 22,818 cases) confirms that several psychological variables predict political conservatism: death anxiety (weighted mean r .50); system stability (.47); dogmatism–intolerance of ambiguity (.34); openness to experience (–.32); uncertainty tolerance (–.27); needs for order, structure, and closure (.26); integrative complexity (–.20); fear of threat and loss (.18); and self-esteem (–.09). The core ideology of conservatism stresses resistance to change and justification
of inequality and is motivated by needs that vary situationally and dispositionally to manage uncertainty and threat.
We regard political conservatism as an ideological belief system
that is significantly (but not completely) related to motivational
concerns having to do with the psychological management of
uncertainty and fear. Specifically, the avoidance of uncertainty
(and the striving for certainty) may be particularly tied to one core
dimension of conservative thought, resistance to change (Wilson,
1973c). Similarly, concerns with fear and threat may be linked to
the second core dimension of conservatism, endorsement of inequality
(Sidanius & Pratto, 1999). Although resistance to change
and support for inequality are conceptually distinguishable, we
have argued that they are psychologically interrelated, in part
because motives pertaining to uncertainty and threat are interrelated
(e.g., Dechesne et al., 2000; McGregor et al., 2001; van den
Bos & Miedema, 2000).
I'm not going to give up hope though. I'm thinking if those brilliant liberals can do this kind of research, then a cure has got to be just around the corner! If we could ALL just be flexible, risk taking, open minded, non-judgmental, easy to get along with, able to handle complexity, etc, then things would be GRAND! Actually, I'm pretty sure that they already have it, they may have just forgot for some strange reason. Something around 6-10oz of Scotch over a fairly short period, and I think almost anyone can think EXACTLY like a liberal!

Edwards House

Do I care that Edwards has a big house? No, not really, but wouldn't one think that the MSM and the Democrats would care? I mean he is one of those "class warfare guys". As long as his "heart is in the right place" it is OK for him to do everything in his power to insure that I remain a tax slave into my 70's while he lives in a 28K sq foot home with millions taken from the medical industry while channeling dead babies in a courtroom?

Let's see, we are supposed to all be up in arms over CEO pay. Why does a guy with great hair making millions off all our medical bills earn the complete respect of the left and the MSM while living like a potentate? I know, I know, consistency isn't an issue. Sometimes it just gets a little glaring though.

Clear Thinking On Iraq

The following is excerpted from Tony Blankley at Real Clear Politics:

Now is a good time for clear thinking and speaking. If we intend to succeed (and it is vital that we do), then we must persist. If the "surge" doesn't work, then more troops and different strategies should be employed.

If we are going to throw in the towel, then we should bring the troops home promptly, lick our wounds and prepare for the inevitable Third Gulf War, which we will have to fight under far worse conditions than currently. Either of those options are at least honest (although the latter is dangerously foolish).

But the current mentality in Washington -- to pretend that there is a third way between victory and defeat -- is morally despicable. Washington politicians of both parties are trying to salve their consciences for the ignominy of accepting defeat by fooling either themselves or the public into believing they are doing otherwise.

Perhaps they can fool their own flaccid minds, but history grades hard and true. And history may enter its ledger with shocking promptness.

The most popular form of current thinking seems to be "wishful thinking". Once we declare defeat in Iraq, then what? We continue to train the world that "we can be beat" ... Vietnam, Lebanon, Somalia, and if the left has their way, Iraq. The objectives of the other side are very clear, as they were in the days of the USSR. If you want to be an evil empire, the only game in town is world domination, it really doesn't do to have a rich, free, and fun alternative on the globe. Neither gulags or burkas are all that attractive in comparison to living in the US. Be it "decadent capitalist" or "decadent infidels", the proper state that our adversaries approve for us is either dead or obedient, take your pick.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Classic Kerry

Powerline has a great post on Kerry at Davos. Why does anyone ever listen to this guy?

John Kerry disgraced himself yet again earlier today, when he launched a salvo against the Bush administration at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. (What is it about Davos that brings out the worst in temporarily expatriate Americans?) This Power Line Forum thread addresses Kerry's latest folly. You could spend a long time taking apart Kerry's attack on President Bush, but let's just focus on one aspect of it:

“When we walk away from global warming, Kyoto, when we are irresponsibly slow in moving toward AIDS in Africa, when we don’t advance and live up to our own rhetoric and standards, we set a terrible message of duplicity and hypocrisy,” Kerry said.

Speaking of duplicity and hypocrisy...Kerry himself has actually had the opportunity to vote on the Kyoto carbon emissions treaty. Forum member ironman administers the coup de grace:

this says it all…

U.S. Senate Roll Call Votes 105th Congress - 1st Session

Vote Date: July 25, 1997, 11:37 AM

Question: On the Resolution (s.res.98 )

Declares that the United States should not be a signatory to any protocol to, or other agreement regarding, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change of 1992, at negotiations in Kyoto in December 1997 or thereafter which would: (1) mandate new commitments to limit or reduce greenhouse gas emissions for the Annex 1 Parties, unless the protocol or other agreement also mandates new specific scheduled commitments to limit or reduce greenhouse gas emissions for Developing Country Parties within the same compliance period; or (2) result in serious harm to the U.S. economy.

YEAs 95
NAYs 0
Not Voting 5

Kerry (D-MA), Yea

Duplicitous and hypocritical: that pretty well sums up John Kerry.

Friday, January 26, 2007

The God Delusion

I finished the subject book by Richard Dawkins this week, it is currently #4 on the NY Times Bestseller list, and has been as high as #2 on the Amazon best seller list. This book talks quite frequently about how the US is very close to a "theocracy", and the "Christian Right" is "the American Taliban".

Yes, the US is so close to all of this that Dawkins can be a best selling author in this awful country with a book that is hostile to religion beyond belief. Lest you think I jest; Page 317: "horrible as sexual abuse no doubt was, the damage was arguably less than the long-term psychological damage inflicted by bringing the child up Catholic in the first place". Page 318: "I am persuaded that the phrase 'child abuse' is no exaggeration when used to describe what teachers and priests are doing to children whom they encourage to believe in something like the punishment of unshriven mortal sins in an eternal hell."

Make no mistake, Dawkins finds Christianity (and all religion) to be a form of child abuse, and while he doesn't DIRECTLY called for children to be taken from their parents if the parents are going to "indoctrinate" them, he does everything but. Page 339: "Our society, including the non-religious sector, has accepted the preposterous idea that it is normal and right to indoctrinate tiny children in the religion of their parents". Like most liberals, he doesn't say what to DO about this "horror", but it doesn't take much imagination. In the "liberal" world, freedom is never for anyone but those that agree with your point of view.

What Dawkins and Sam Harris have in common is that they see 9-11 as an opportunity to "do in religion". One simply needs to declare all religions the "same" (irrational, delusional, unsupportable, etc) and DANGEROUS. The fault is RELIGION, all religion, and what we need to get rid of is FAITH, and then people will be "rational".

Right off, I'd argue that Dawkins and everyone else has an awful lot of "irrational faith". We have faith we will draw our next breath, clearly a belief that is obviously going to be very wrong in an extremely short period of time on any sort of even a moderate historical scale. We tend to think that the model of the universe running around in our head is "accurate", even though we know it is delayed by an eternity in computer time (what we "see" took at least 13 milliseconds to register in our brain)  and incomplete in the extreme. To the extent that we are "scientists", we have faith that this universe is ordered enough so that measurements and experiments done yesterday or tomorrow can be compared with each other by known principals.

For the believer in random creation, that is a HUGE leap of faith, since all that order "just happened" ... without meaning or purpose. A pure random event.

While on that subject, apparently Dawkins can't even CONCEIVE of anything being "beyond material" or "eternal". God can't be postulated, because he would HAVE to have been formed by something even more complex than the universe we see. Really? It seems very hard to see any basis for that "rule". Why again should there be "something" rather than "nothing"? Since we seem to be agreed that there is "something", then is postulating that there is "something beyond" REALLY that big a leap? Both cosmology with the "inflation theory" and evolution with "punctuated equilibrium" have their "creation spurts", the difference is that they want to be clear that from their POV it "just happens".

1st Corinthians 13:13 "But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love.". Page 185, Dawkins "Could irrational religion be a by-product of the irrationality mechanisms that were originally built into the brain by selection for falling in love?". This section of the book makes it clear that Dawkins doesn't find love to to be a good thing either ... a bad piece of evolution that apparently makes us susceptible to religion. How about hope? Well, of course not, that would be "infantile". page 354, ...Jefferson more than once wrote to friends that he faced the approaching end without either hope or fear. This was as much as to say, in the most unmistakable terms, that he was not a Christian.". Yes, Dawkins believes that a better world is a world without faith, hope, or love.

It IS however a world with as much "pleasure" as one can get. The only part of the Catholic church he has sympathy for is the pedophiles. Naturally homosexuality, abortion on demand, and euthanasia are all to be encouraged. He quotes Dr puppy-love Peter Singer of Princeton a couple of times, but doesn't explicitly mention some of Peter's more moral stances (eating meat is immoral, sex with animals is moral, infanticide is moral, killing "unfit elderly" is moral). He views Hitler as more moral than bad guys in history, "Hitler seems especially evil only by the more benign standards of our time". Why even the horror of Donald Rumsfeld is only in comparison to the "enlightened" standards of today; "Donald Rumsfeld, who sounds so callous and odious today, would have sounded like a bleeding-heart liberal if he had said the same things during the Second World War." (p268)

I'm sure that some will ask "why do I put myself though this"? Dawkins sits in a tenured chair at Cambridge. This book is high on the best seller lists and is getting RAVE reviews in the popular culture. The same culture that bleats every day or so about the "American theocracy" that happens to have an openly gay congressman as the chair of the house ways and means committee. Try that in a REAL theocracy (like Iran or Saudi Arabia).

Dawkins won't say it COMPLETELY directly, but it is clear that he is in favor of removal of religious freedom, and the creation of a country without faith, love, or hope as rapidly as he possibly can. Christians need to be aware that the forces that seek to use them as lion food are still afoot.

However, that country WILL have faith -- faith that a "reasonable government" that persecutes Christians (because you have to in order to stamp them out) is "good" ... like the USSR, Communist China, Nazi Germany ... the godless demand that you and your children worship the totalitarian state.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Clipmark of Islam for Peace

As I surf the web, sometimes for just a couple minutes, I run into things that I want to save and maybe blog on later. I installed something called "Clipmarks" into FireFox that allows me to create and save "snippets" or "clips" of the web and to comment and share with others. I've been experimenting with a number of these "Web 2.0 Technogies" over the break and after.

Here is a Clipmark on the subject of "why we fight". It is CNN/MSM, so lefties can trust it. Lots of peaceful sentiments, looks like we we are overreacting in the War On Terror.

At a recent debate over the battle for Islamic ideals in England, a British-born Muslim stood before the crowd and said Prophet Mohammed's message to nonbelievers is: "I come to slaughter all of you."

"We are the Muslims," said Omar Brooks, an extremist also known as Abu Izzadeen. "We drink the blood of the enemy, and we can face them anywhere. That is Islam and that is jihad."

"All of the world belongs to Allah, and we will live according to the Sharia wherever we are," said Choudary, a lawyer. "This is a fundamental belief of the Muslims." (Watch a call for Islamic law Video)

Asked if he believes in democracy, he said, "No, I don't at all."

"One day, the Sharia will be implemented in Britain. It's a matter of time."

Clipmarks clip on religion of peace

"Peace" is always easy, just like with the USSR. We could have saved a lot of defense dollars if we just signed up to be members of the Communist Party and did it the Gulag way. Same deal today, oddly the left seems to be OK with Burkas and stoning Gays as long as a group that is anti-American does it.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Church / State Connection "Chilling"?

I've seen and heard a number of references to Evangelicals signing on to "care for the environment", and going to encourage government and politicians to be responsible with "Gods Creation". Here is an article from the NYT in case you have missed it.

So what gives? I thought that the proper term for any mixing of church and state was "chilling"? We just aren't about that here because we are a "secular country", and any time that church leaders try to get involved with the morality of the nation, or science for that matter, we are "basically a theocracy".

What is up? Can it be that the press is so biased that as long as "the church" is doign what they want, it is just FINE, even so far as referring to the earth as "God's Creation"? Wouldn't that smack of the horrors of Intelligent Design?

Guess not, or maybe they are just 100% factually oriented, and it is GREAT that this is "chilling", because what we are talking about here is global warming ;-)

Race Doesn't Exist

It showed up in the paper last week, and I heard a segment on MPR. You may think that there is such a thing as racial difference between humans, but according to the current politically correct view, that would make you a racist. You just have to get your mind right.

The following captured from the MN Science Museum Exhibit Site.

Everyday Experience of Race
Race is embedded in virtually all aspects of American life. Explore social and personal experiences of race in familiar settings such as home and neighborhood, health and medicine, and education and schools. Discover that race and racism is not inside our heads, but in fact is built into our laws, traditions, and institutions.

The Science of Human Variation
Racial and ethnic categories, which have changed over time, are human-made. We now know that human beings are more alike genetically than any other living species. Scientifically, no one gene, or any set of genes, can support the idea of race. This section focuses on what current science knows about human variation and our species' history.

History of the Idea of Race
Race has not always existed. Sorting people by physical differences is a recent invention, only a few hundred years old. Discover how the development of the idea of race is closely linked to the early development of the United States.

There you have it! You probably think that Kevin Garnett looks differently from Brett Favre for reasons of race, but that just shows that you are prone to racist imposed stereotypes! There is no such thing as race in the real world, it is all a "social construct"!

Kevin Garnett is an oppressed minority, forced to live off $15 Million a year do to the oppressive constructs of our racially charged society!

Friday, January 19, 2007

Does the Press Like Obama?

Let's see, is the Pope Catholic? We know very little about Obama, certainly nothing about where he stands on issues, or much at all about his character or personal life. He is good looking, he is young, he is black, he is a good speaker, he tells us that he isn't "partisan". Are there any "partisan Democrats" according to the MSM? I thought that was another of those things that only applies to Republicans.

I happened to hear on the evil Fox news the other day that he is a "closet smoker", and "nobody has a picture of him smoking yet, and there doesn't seem to be much interest in it". Of course, we all know that "Faux News" can't be trusted, so here it is from the Chicago Trib, they are a nice liberal paper, so it MUST be the truth!

One thing he has tried to do for his children--quit smoking--is among his biggest struggles. "The flesh is weak," he said. "It's an ongoing battle. I have my gum, my patches and all that stuff."

The Obamas moved into a $1.6 million house in June, trading their condo near Hyde Park for a historic home nearby. The royalties from his first book and an advance of nearly $2 million for future books allowed the family to pay off debts from law school and past political campaigns.

Part of the package of being a liberal is that you get to make millions of dollars off book deals as a "public servant", live in a 1.6 Million dollar house, and that is A-OK. It is certainly A-OK with me as well, but I live in the odd world where it ought to be INDEPENDENT of what political party you subscribe to. Odd view of "fair" though that may be.

Smells Like Tuna

Welcome to the new non-critical MSM, we have Democrats in power now. Pelosi decides to exempt American Samoa from the minimum wage hike because it helps Star-Kist out, which just HAPPENS to be in her district. Gee, I wonder if there were any campaign contributions there? Not likely that the MSM cares on that front, those are only interesting when they go to Republicans.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

The Gulag Begins

Hard to find in the MSM, but starting to show up in the technical media. The Democrats are back in power, and early in their agenda they would like to control speech with the application of the "fairness doctrine". Along with economic growth, the end of the USSR, and a return to Americans thinking that America was actually a pretty great country, Reagan made the biggest impact on ACTUAL free speech since the revolution by getting rid of the "fairness doctrine" that said that some unionized government bureaucrats would be able to decide it your radio station was "balanced". If you put on Rush Limbaugh, you would likely have to put on Dennis Kucinich for "balance". It was under the control of the FCC and Congress to decide what "balanced" was.

NPR is of course "by definition" balanced. It covers the left and the far left. Forget "free speech and letting the people decide with the dial". That kind of thinking is only for porn! If folks don't like that they can just "vote with the dial". In the case of Rush Limbaugh though, we have something too pernicious to allow the sheep to decide on. They are so much more "rational" on porn than on "dangerous political ideas".

So, two weeks starting down the road to the "USSR lite" version of Government, we have Dennis Kucinich going to work to bring back the bad old days of the "fairness doctrine", or as it has sometimes been called "Hush Rush".

Now of course if the government should get a look at your phone bill, that would be "chilling", and it would be all over the NY Times, NPR, and the rest of the MSM. On the other hand, if Dennis Kucinich is going to decide what kind of information you have avaialble at all? Well, that is JUST FINE, and no doubt it will make our country much more "civil".

Things are much more "civil" in the Gulag, no messy arguments, all the "divergent thinkers" have been "taken care of". Say hello to the "new boss", somehow all the MSM folks warning the sheep about the evil Bush seem to be suddenly quiet. Maybe it is only "certain speech" that they think ought to be free?

Class Warfare

The following is excerpted from an article by the Weekly Standard, but what is REALLY interesting is the source for Stephen Rose, a far left Think Tank called
"The Third Way".

"For Rose, the economic story of recent decades is not one of commiseration but one of dramatic gains for both middle and working-class families. His most striking finding: When you average-out family incomes over 15 years and capture only the peak earning years--from age 26 to 59--fully 60 percent of Americans will live in households making over $60,000 a year, with half of these households making over $85,000. This has meant that more and more workers feel like beneficiaries of the changing economy rather than victims of it--and as a result, feel comfortable voting for the GOP."

Even the loonies understand that the Reagan and onward economy in this country as raised by far most boats, and that the opportunity has been HUGE and unprecedented in history. But of course, that doesn't mean that they have any qualms about destroying it. They lament that people that do better have an unfortunate tendency to vote for the party that brung them, but are happy to point out that by "soft pedaling the social issues and being strong against the war", their beloved Democrats have been able to wrest control of the House from the evil Republicans.

As Dinesh D'Souza proclaims; "I want to live in a country where even the poor people are fat". We have hit a new level, we live in a country where even the lefties understand that the economic policies of the free market help the most people, BUT, that doesn't mean at all that they aren't going to do their best to destroy those policies. As I've said before, being liberal is a lot like being a suicide bomber. You are willing to do anything to hurt "the rich", even if it means that you and the majority of people a injured.

Golda Maier said "We will have peace with the Arabs when they love their children more than they hate us". I'd modify that to "Liberals will support economic growth when they care more for the common man than they hate the rich".

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Gas Prices / Thought

It never ceases to amaze me how vast numbers of people keep thinking the same set of thoughts over and over that turn out to be demonstratively wrong, yet they never change the way they think. Case in point, gas prices.

As they went up, we heard TONs of "explanations" as to why they were ONLY going to go UP!:
- Bush / Cheney / Republican conspiracy
- Big oil companies
- Chinese demand
- Real shortage due to too much demand / instability / Arab control

So, as they go up we see story after story of hand wringing, gloom and doom predictions, discussions about it being a "new era of short supply, change our ways, smaller vehicles, etc, etc". As they go **UP**, Gas prices are a HUGE story, and everyone talks about them!

This week unleaded went below $2 a gallon in MN. Not much of story. Hardly any discussion. All the tons of media and "man on the street" predictions about "they are going to go up after the election" and such are of course completely wrong.

It was HORRIBLE news when they went up, but is it even marginally good news as they go down? No, of course not ... the MSM and most of the sheep simply don't believe in good news.

Some of this is of course just "human nature". It is well understood that we perceive a loss much more acutely than a gain. If asked to take a sure buck or a 50% chance at $2, almost everyone takes the sure $1 because they don't want to risk the "loss" of not getting anything. In the job world, a lay-off or a plant closing is big news, 100's of people being hired every week at good jobs across a lot of companies is harder to pin down.

In a world of "rational reporting" however, we would take some of that into consideration and try to learn from our past mistakes so we didn't sound so foolish the next time around. Apparently, I'll have to live a lot more years to see anything like a wider set of people that learn from their mistakes.

Not A Smiley Smiley

The following is quoted off Wikipedia and written by Jane Smiley about the 2000 election:

"The election results reflect the decision of the right wing to cultivate and exploit ignorance in the citizenry...I suppose the good news is that 55 million Americans have evaded the ignorance-inducing machine. But 58 millions have not...Ignorance and bloodlust have a long tradition in the United States, especially in the red states...The error that progressives have consistently committed over the years is to underestimate the vitality of ignorance in America...The history of the last four years shows that red state types, above all, do not want to be told what to do - they prefer to be ignorant. As a result, they are virtually unteachable...Listen to what the red state citizens say about themselves, the songs they write, and the sermons they flock to. They know who they are - they are full of original sin and they have a taste for violence."

For "balance", one should take a look at this.

I suppose that the first reaction of folks that haven't heard of her will be to think that I'm just quoting "some crank". That may SEEM obvious, but she is a PHD Nobel prize winner that would certianly fancy herself an intellectual. (I realize that doesn't exempt her from being a crank, but I'll leave summary judgment to others. After reading Jane, one tends to lose their taste for that particular form of arrogance)

She is quite certain of her superiority to millions of Americans, and she doesn't mind bragging about it. Her description of Bush as "an ignorant, dependent, fragile and rigid person" is especially interesting to me. In many ways, it is a pretty good description of the human condition in general. Jane seems to think that one can get OUT of that condition unless they don't desire to be trained? In the immortal words of Clint Eastwood; "A man's got to know his limitations". I suppose Jane would assume that doesn't apply to women. If you are certain you are the biggest, toughest, smartest hombre in the forest, that usually just means that you haven't looked around hard enough. Even if you have, just stand by, you will age.

Why do I waste my time reading such things? Well, there is always that chance that something interesting of a factual nature will be learned, and it is ALWAYS intriguing to see just how "ignorant. dependent, fragile, and rigid" people can really be.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Woot! Motorola

For those of you not familiar, Woot! is the "one day, one deal" site that has a new deal to purchase each day. A couple years back I had noticed the Motorola Homesight system and thought it was pretty cool. However, the base system with the computer hookup and one camera was $250, so a little too rich for my blood. Enter Woot!, for $75 I got the base, two cameras, one remote power control module and a door/window sensor. Just too good to resist, so now I can monitor the kitchen or utility room from my office. Bit-Head heaven!

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Wedding at Cana

The scripture at church this AM included the miracle of the water to wine at the wedding at Cana. Since I had happened to be discussing that miracle last night and its special significance to me, and the scripture showed up this AM, I feel led to say a few words.

For those not familiar with the specific text, here is a link. In a nutshell, it is the first miracle performed by Jesus. He is at a wedding with his mother, they run out of wine, she asks him to solve the problem. He is reticent, since it is "not yet time", but she tells the servants that he will take care of it, and he does. Does listening to your mother trump "your fathers plan" even when your father is God? It has to. Christ is FULLY both God and man -- "children obey your parents" in the family of God!

The resulting wine is seen as the "good wine" even though it is late in the evening and everyone had "drunk freely".

The first item of significance to me is that I was raised in a church that proudly called itself "Fundamentalist", and I will be returning to that term a number of times over the next few weeks I suspect. They had "somehow decided" that this "wine" was not alcoholic, because they apparently thought it would be good to extend their definition of being a "Christian" to include required abstinence from alcohol.

I find it VERY hard to imagine how anyone can read this text and not believe that this "wine" indeed contained alcohol. On the spiritual level alone, there is very little "miracle" in turning water into "grape juice"; children do that pretty much all the time with "Kool Aid". The creation of alcohol in the wine is a true miracle, not doable instantly by man even today, but rather one that takes the passage of time and fermentation on the sugars, especially to create "the good wine".

The meaning seems clear enough to me, but I'm not a student of Hebrew and Greek. I thought that this was a good post (other than spelling) on that front for those still doubting.

The miracle is special to me for the following reasons:

1). It gives us a very solid picture that Christ is "fully man and fully God"; he listens to his mother, he helps in a purely social situation that would just be embarrassing, not life-threatening to the people involved. He does something "simple", yet something that is completely beyond the ability of humans. It is "outside of material power". He does "the human thing" but in a way no human can do, AND even though he does it, he has no interest in "credit". It simply looks like the host came up with the good wine to the rest of the people at the party.

2). The question is always Christ. The scripture here is very clear, but it isn't "tidy". A miracle to save embarrassment and provide more wine when it sounds like people may have had plenty already? Much as when Mary the sister of Martha anoints Jesus head with expensive oil that could have been "spent on the poor", and in another case wipes his feet with her hair. Why include such "messy things" in the Bible? Because while Jesus comes to save us, he doesn't have to fit OUR mold of what WE think he should be. His is God, he is Truth. When we make him into the image that we want, we are in danger of missing the message. The Grace of Christ is a SCANDAL. Jesus is not what humans think that God "should be". To those who "live by the rules", Christ is simply shocking!

The essence of fundamentalism, in religion, science, or life seems to be a inability to deal with ambiguity and incomplete knowledge. The human urge for "closure" drives the fundamentalist to "create a model", and then "defend their ground", usually with name calling and judgement against those that don't agree with their model.

For religious fundamentalists, they call what they have "faith", but it is a faith in THEIR model, rather than "true knowledge". Often their position is defended with a lot of emotion and a lot of denigration of those who don't share their model. Something that may seem like a "small issue" ... eg, was it "wine or grape juice", or "was it 6 24 hour days of creation, or does it have to be that precise" become a major stumbling block, and a disagreement is a major breech.

So too for the scientific fundamentalist / atheist. An otherwise intelligent and successful scientist is questioned if they even so much as say something no "worse" than "God does not play dice" on the potential that they have "become weak" and lost the atheist dogma. The fundamentalist atheist materialist scientist can't allow such a statement to go unchallenged, they can't allow any thought that the universe can be other than randomly created to somehow seem to be validated by a person that they thought was a solid atheist.

Our basic models are all "faith based", since we have no proof that we even exist nor that reality is anything even remotely like what we perceive (witness movies like "The Matrix" or the Star Trek "holodeck". We all "live by faith", the issue is only if we have "faith in our perception of the material universe", or "faith in a transcendence beyond matter", we can't "prove" either viewpoint in the scientific sense.

Sandy vs Scooter

In the world of thought and opinion, we have very little in the way of "facts" to objectively test how the various parties in the MSM really think or feel. Our best mechanisms are statistics and comparison. That is what I find so fascinating about the contrast between the MSMs treatment of the story of Scooter Libby, and the story of Sandy Berger. The contrast is even more delectable since Richard Armitage came forward and admitted that the Plame leak was his, not Libbys at all.

The WSJ has an article with a few more details on the strange case of the Berger leak, which is of course of zero interest to most of the MSM. Clearly an ACTUAL case of obviously secret documents being taken for "some purpose" arouses ZERO suspicion if the person stuffing the papers in their pants has a "D" next to their name. Conspriacy theories and finger pointing on "responsibility for 9/11" at the Bush administration who was in office for less than 10 months at the time of the attack have abounded. ANY attempt to ask or conjecture about the Clinton administration that was in office for 8 years prior to the attack (even a fictional one in a TV movie) has been met with howls of protest from the MSM and of course the Democrats.

This is just "partisan MSM politics as usual", but the fact that 9/11 really DID happen, and information as to "why, and how it might be prevented in the future"OUGHT to be something that "rises above politics" makes one wish it were different. We see the effects of the media here. With Republicans, the CHARGE that they did something ("punished" Joe Wilson by outing his CIA wife) is converted into "truth" by constant repetition, even though there was never ANY truth to the entire story. It was completely manufactured. On the Democrat side, the FACT that documents were taken by a very high level Democrat and that while we have tantalizing hints as to "why", no investigation is forthcoming.

The difference in personality types is obvious here as well. Republicans don't really even consider "making up a good story and seeing if they can get it to fly". No doubt that isn't entirely due to "superior morals", since they realize that given the MSM, there is no chance that their fabrication would be successful. Democrats, and indeed the MSM often ASSUME on the other hand that WMD, 9-11 itself, gas prices, off-shoring of jobs, and even the whole Islamic terrorist threat itself at somehow "manufactured by Republicans and the corporate media". Since even in the age of talk radio, blogs, and Fox news, the the "dominant media" is still the NY Times and the major networks, such conspiricy thinking applied to the right still gets some significant creedence.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

The Cosmic Landscape

This book by Leonard Susskind is a very well written and very honest account by an accomplished physicist. He subtitles it "string theory and the illusion of intelligent design", but in many ways it is a half-time speech to encourage the weakening physicists to not lose hope, and hold on to their faith that there is no intelligence behind the universe, no matter how grim it may look for the proponents of randomness.

You can tell that there is some bitter disappointment with a few developments of recent years. The worst is that "Einsteins blunder", the cosmological constant, which he added as a "fudge factor" to general relativity since he envisioned the universe as static. When Hubble discovered that the universe was expanding it was assumed that the constant was zero, and Einstein called giving it a value his "greatest mistake".  Unfortunately for the "random crowd", it turns out that it needs to have a value for us to exist, and that value has to be tuned to an accuracy of 10 to the -120. If you believe that would happen randomly, then you are either a regular player of the lottery or a nervous atheist physicist.

It isn't as if this is the only "Goldilocks feature" (not too this, not too that, but JUST right) of our universe. There is the Higgs field, the strong and weak force balances and a host of others. Prior to the late '90s most physicists felt that string theory was going to give them the "grand unified theory of everything" that would allow them to definitively declare that no "watchmaker was needed" (ie. No God or Intelligent Design), but the accuracy of 10 to the -120 was too much for many of them--they either refuse to accept the dead end of string theory as providing the kind of "lack of dependence on special conditions" that would indicate to them that "it just happened", or apparently quietly pray in their closets to prevent guys like Susskind, or worse yet, Dawkins from finding them out.

As Susskind points out on page 355, lest someone think that scientists are "open minded"; "Because as scientists we understand that there is a compelling human need to believe - the need to be comforted - that easily clouds peoples judgment. It is all too easy to fall into the seductive trap of a comforting fairy tale. So we resist, to the death, all explanations of the world based on anything but the Laws of Physics, mathematics, and probability."

Such is the stuff of faith, and indeed, that core decision as to the origin of the universe; intelligent, purposeful, and meaningful? Or random, purposeless and meaningless? is at the core of how humans relate to life, truth and each other. I would argue that a core feature of the human mind, the need for CLOSURE, which drives the need for FUNDAMENTALISM may even be a bigger factor than the random/intelligent divide, one which I intend to go into in the future as I begin to deal with "The God Delusion" by Dawkins.

Susskind's, Dawkins and all atheist positions are fundamentalist ... like the baptists I grew up with, or like the folks that flew into the twin towers. Christ brings freedom if you will have it -- he saves by Grace, allows (even demands!) loving your enemies, and beats up on the fundamentalists of the day -- the Scribes and Pharisees with joyous abandon. Fundamentalists are so fun to argue with since they are so rigid and prone to get unhinged when they find their views questioned in ways they have difficulty defending. Even the religious ones actually have no "higher power", because they fervently believe that "it is all obvious with a FEW easy to understand "facts"" ... just like the scientific or "liberal" fundamentalists. "A small matter of education" and you can be a fundamentalist too!

Susskind pumps up the weakened atheist position by an appeal to the messiness of string theory. He rises to the defense of randomness with the assertion that there are 10 to the 500 UNIVERSES in the "cosmic landscape", so it is really "easy" that we happen to be here. To "strengthen" his position, it looks like such a theory can never be tested, since our universe bubble is expanding near the speed of light, knowledge of the other universes is forever outside our "horizon". Susskind points out that his position is somehow superior to "the God hypothesis", even though apparently not testable, since as he states above, he is beyond that "human need to be comforted".

Apparently he finds the idea of an omnipotent, omniscient being, morally perfect, and beyond material understanding as somehow "comforting". I would imagine that his concept of God would not include the potential for such a thing as "judgment" or "sin", even though given the distance between ours and that of a being that may do fine tuning of the cosmological constant to 120 places of accuracy, it would seem that there would be a slight potential for "differences".

Susskind proudly proclaims with Laplace relative to the idea of God; "I have no need of this hypothesis". Much as he fails to explain why he finds himself beyond human need for "comfort", he fails to explain this leap. Apparently he hasn't figured out yet that he is mortal, and in that, Laplace and Einstein have clearly exceeded Lenny's understanding of their position in the universe. (they know the answer to God)

 He DID write an excellent book that I would highly recommend to anyone that seeks to understand physics. He clearly believes that he has produced a work that will be "no comfort to the intelligent design crowd". That may be true in the sense that most of that crowd share Susskind's fundamentalism (just a small "type difference"), which is actually the most comforting of human delusions ... because fundamentalists believe that they know.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007


Sometime in the late 80's I was working with dasd recovery software for a computing system that was in the process of being built, and we had an installation in the lab that had a terabyte (trillion) bytes of storage. We joked about it being "a terror byte", since if some of your software took that machine down, there was some degree of scrutiny since it took many hours to get it back up from a crash.

As luck would have it, part of the code I had produced re-allocated bad sectors on a drive, and it had to be "absolutely fail safe". I attempted to accomplish this by having a "save area" on the drive itself so that if anything went wrong during the recovery (power failure, other hardware or software failure), the proper state was always written out on the drive and when they attempted to bring the system up again, the sector reallocation process would complete as part of that process.

Unfortunately, I made an error in part of the code, so if certain events happened my recovery code would take and exception in a very restricted state of the machine on the way up, the boot would not complete, and the machine would never come back up again. Suddenly, I was in very high demand. Under a good deal of stress I managed to figure out what the problem was, make a patch to the machine and "wala", the monster trundled on through it's boot process to eventual completion and my "programmer humility" went up a bit. Part of the magic of being an operating system programmer is that when you screw up it takes the whole machine down. At that point, I was one of those special operating system programmers that if I made a mistake, your machine would never boot again ... unless you completely re-installed it from scratch and lost all your data. "Power" ... but with stress.

So what makes me think of this? Well, the machine I am typing this in on sitting on my desk officially has 1.1 terabyte of storage! I heard a lot of conflicting stories about how much the lab machine I crashed was worth, but it was certainly "millions". The grand total for the cost on this? Something around $400, and that is only because one of the 320GB drives is last years model and I think I paid $150 for it. There is another $99 320GB EIDE drives in there and two 250GB SATA drives that I picked up for under $80 each. Things really do change in twenty years. From a room full of drives worth millions to a machine under my desk worth "hundreds"!

McCain Surge

The following is off PowerLine by John McCain. As I read it, I'm reminded of the Otto Von Bismark quote "Politics is the art of the possible". I have my differences with McCain, and often find him to be pompous and self-serving, but on Iraq he is at least reasonable, and maybe correct. My personal view is that we would likely kill less Americans and less Iraqis, and have a shorter time to a handover WITHOUT a "surge", but one has to "do what they can do". The "possible" likely doesn't include "stay the course" for longer than a few months, so even if more must die for the left to get their way, that is likely the only "possible" option available that gives us a fighting chance to avoid the cut and run that the left is after.

Debate in recent days has focused on the possibility of “surging” U.S. combat forces in Iraq. Security is the precondition for political progress and economic development, and we need more troops on the ground. But to make a real difference, any surge must be substantial and sustained.

During my recent trip to Iraq, commanders spoke of adding as many as five additional brigades in Baghdad, and one or two additional brigades in Anbar Province. This, I believe, is the minimum we should consider. It would be far better to have too many reinforcements in Iraq than to suffer, once again, the tragic results of insufficient force levels.

The mission of these troops would be to implement the thus-far-elusive “hold” element of the military’s “clear, hold, build” strategy: to maintain security in cleared areas, to protect the population, and to impose the government’s authority. Our troops would work in cooperation with Iraqi forces, and stay in place until the completion of their mission.

The worst of all worlds would be a small, short surge of U.S. forces. We have tried small surges in the past, and they have been ineffective because our commanders lacked the forces necessary to hold territory after it was cleared. A short surge would have all the drawbacks associated with greater deployments without giving our troops the time they need to be effective.

Increasing U.S. troop levels in Iraq will expose more brave Americans to danger, and increase the number of American casualties. Extending combat tours and accelerating the deployment of additional brigades is a terrible sacrifice to impose on the best patriots among us, and they will understandably be disappointed. Then they will shoulder their weapons, and do everything duty requires to win this war.

We have made many mistakes since 2003, and these will not be easily reversed. But from everything I witnessed on my most recent visit, I believe that success is still possible. Even greater than the costs incurred thus far and in the future are the catastrophic consequences that would ensue from our failure in Iraq. By surging troops and bringing security to Baghdad and other areas, we will give the Iraqis the best possible chance to succeed. Our national security, and that of our friends and allies, compels us to make our best effort to prevail, and to do it now.

On a personal note, I want to thank John, Paul and Scott for granting me this valuable real estate on Power Line to make the case for victory in Iraq.


iPhone blows away expectations by ZDNet's Ed Burnette -- Once in a while, the truth can be wilder than the rumors. Such was the case today at MacWorld 2007, where Steve Jobs unveiled the long awaited iPhone.

Wow, Very cool .. the phone, the iPod, the digital camera, and the PDA all in one beaufiful package complete with WiFi and Bluetooth!

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

How the West Could Lose

Great little SHORT Daniel Pipes piece
on the obvious. He nets it down to 3 points:
1). Pacifism
2). Self-Hatred
3). Complacency
Well worth the time to read it!


Somehow taking vacation always seems to get me too much into a "stream on consciousness" where I fall into reading a number of books that I like at the "same time" (currently "Five Frigates" and "The Cosmic Landscape", as well as trying to find the time to make it through my Sons Science Fiction book on the web), as well as a "set" of other things ... trying new technologies on Firefox for bookmarking, blogging, rss feeds ... installing a bunch of new Spyware detection, registry cleaning and virus scanning to see if I can't clean up my XP installation so Windows Update works ... installing Linux on a 2nd machine in the office ... plus getting in over my head on a number of new projects at work right off the bat. Of course, I'm behind the e-mail daemon due to taking a few days off over the holidays. I enjoy it, I know I need to get it under better control, but a new year always makes me realize how short last year really was and I guess that drives me to over-reach. I have a lot of "great ideas" ... for the blog and other places. We shall see if any of them actually get implemented.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007


Eleven days off work have sped by like a couple of days of work time and today was back to the grind. Time with family and friends, a small amount of travel, too much food, nice gifts, lots of working out, and a reasonable amount of reading, computing of one sort or another, watching movies, and simply enjoying life. It does make one wonder how we are supposed to find time for work, I guess that is why we need to be compensated for that.

As I reflect more on blogging / writing, I realize it is something that I happily do for free, and don't really even care about readership. I'd LIKE if there were lots of readers, but I don't NEED readers, nor am I willing to do much to get more. I could easily spend long days reading books of one sort or another and writing in some form. At some point it would be nice to be able to "make a living" doing that, but it is also nice to just do something that is enjoyed for enjoyments sake. In the "over 50 world", that kind of thinking seems to get more important all the time.

The lovely computer I am writing on seems to have acquired some sort of "spyware / virues / etc" that SEEMS to have ended up with the only "permanent problem" being that I can't do Windows Update or install IE7. Neither of these are "huge" since I have other computers, but it irks me to be a "professional" and not be able to "easily fix it". I realize intellectually that being in the field only means that I have SOME more comprehension of what is going on than the "average person". It would likely take a good long while to get to the "right expert" out of the thousands of folks at MS to get me going ... I've gone through all the forums, searches, etc, and no dice so far. It looks like a clean re-install may be in the offing. Technology is fun, but like anything it can also be frustrating.

My resolutions for this year are pretty much "be positive and keep getting in shape". It would be "nice" if 2007 was "uneventful" in our family, but somehow we don't get to pick that, so being thankful for what God has in store for us seems like the best approach. I had shed 35lbs prior to Christmas, but managed to pile 5 back on even with massive working out and lower consumption than "normal". So, I have 25lbs to go to get to my goal. Life always has some challenges.

I find myself with way more things to do than I have time to do them in, but I've always considered that "managing the right problem". One of my maxims is that "you will always have problems, the best you can hope for is to be able to have some say in which problems you have". Most of the left likes to "have other peoples problems" ... they like to point out how this and that has really "messed them up", or is "so unfair", or "needs to be fixed". They enjoy the fact that somebody else got to pick their problems. It is true that some problems get picked for us. A tendency to put on weight, a broken elbow, challenging business climate, etc ... but we certainly have a "say" in all of those as well.

We don't HAVE to be the "victim" of things that are "out of our control", or "water over the dam". The temptation is ALWAYS there as we face reduced eating, going back to work, lack of snow for snowmobiling, or some other "issue" to believe that it is "unfair / others have it better / insurmountable / depressing" or some other thought that takes us out of control and absolves us responsibility. That usually feels good for a tiny amount of time, but the end result of that kind of thought is that you can end up blaming others and thinking like a liberal. Stick with the mental toughness, it CAN be a Happy New Year!