Thursday, June 29, 2006

Smoking As It Pertains To Inevitable Decline

The anti-smoking zealots are at it again:

Second-hand smoke dramatically increases the risk of heart disease and lung cancer in non-smokers and can be controlled only by making indoor spaces free of smoke, according to a new report from the US Surgeon General.

Surgeon General Richard Carmona said the health effects of second-hand smoke are more significant than previously thought.

He said the scientific evidence is now indisputable that second-hand smoke is not a mere annoyance; it is a serious health hazard that can lead to disease and premature death in children and non-smoking adults.

Near as I can figure, we have two things we can do about smoking. First, we can simply ban it. I know this didn't work with prohibition, but intolerant folks tend to care more about laws than about actual results, and a ban fits nicely with their convoluted view of the world. If second hand smoke is so horrific, I say--playing at the autocrat--that we prevent everyone from smoking at all. We do the same thing with pot, crack and all kinds of other drugs people just love to injest. Suspiciously, it's not working, but such trivialities can be sorted out later.

The other option is perlious. We accept the fact that living is a fleeting condition and accept the risk that it brings. If a person doesn't want second hand smoke, they should refrain from associating with smokers. Crisis solved.

I know the slipperly slope thing is played out, but I really have no idea when this sort of nonsense will end. The report notes that some 50,000 Americans died from second hand smoke last year. As a tactless aside, we live in a nation of just short of 300 million people. 300 million is substantially more than 50,000. Then again, "everything changed on September 11th" when some 3,000 people died. Wouldn't it be safer and easier to invade Marlboro country? I bet they'll love democracy.

Let's call that figure what it is: a shot in the dark. Unless the Surgeon General has been talking to tumors, we don't know that the people who were exposed to second hand smoke died for this reason. String theory shows promise, but we have yet to be able to extrapolate a man's life were certain conditions removed in the theoretical alternative universe. Last I checked, most everything causes cancer. For all we know, it could have been the toothpaste these people used. Did they brush their teeth regularly with fluoride? I reckon the Surgeon General forgot to ask. Yet I recall, from my days as a talk radio junkie, a conversation about fluroide as carcinogen. It's time we go after Colgate and Crest. We can't be too careful.

My hypothesis is probably dead wrong. Most are. Thus the wise, fabled Irish man's preference to prophesy after the fact. Well, sorry Irish fellow, but people could be dying. I will not rest until all toothpaste is safely disposed of. While at it, we can ban cell phones--cancer causing, also a general nuisance--beer and liquor--too enjoyable, also dangerous--baseball, automobiles--do we get it yet?

All this talk about safety has me in a foul mood, but I've stumbled on a paradox, and that ought to cheer me up. The only reason one could think that banning trivial things would make the world a better place is if a person really believed that if we all subsisted on herbal tea and rice cakes and lived in bubbles the world would be truly safe. The only way one could be so naive as to think humans are ever going to live in a risk free environment is if a body was on drugs to begin with. I'm not. Evidently the fascists who want us to die of sterility and boredom are. Ironic methinks. Paradox is my anti-drug.

I don't know when we got to this point. I think I'll go read The Once and Future King. The Middle Ages seemed much more sane. Can you imagine Arthur telling Pellinore to stop questing because the beast was getting fewments all over and giving everyone the sniffles? Even Pellinore would be taken aback. Merlyn would smack Art in the back and Pellinore would go on questing.

I don't know who this Surgeon General is or why we have to listen to him. I do know that once we get to our inevitable utopia, I'm going to be so bored I'll take up smoking for certain. POWs used to get smokes, even over in Germany. I wonder if our new overlords will be so kind.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Reading Makes It Hard... be a neo-con

I've been re-reading The Once and Future King. I quite enjoyed it the first time through, but that was years ago, and I decided to revisit King Arthur's realm. The second visit has high-lighted some forgotten kernels of wisdom. There is much allegory within, much of it having to do with World War II, which I have found pertinent to the goings-on in Iraq.

In chapter 13 of the first book, The Sword and the Stone, Merlyn turns Arthur into an ant. This particular species of ants is narrow-minded and very war-like. Their discourse would make even the most mal-educated of the modern punditry blush, as things were pronounced either 'done' or 'not done'; there were no words for right/wrong, good/bad, happy/sad etc. I do not think the ants were known for their vociferous literary appetite.

At some point the ants decide to go to war. Or, rather, the head ant—the "beloved leader”—decided that war must be waged. Relentless broadcasting of propaganda ensues, explaining the reasons war is necessary:

A. We are more numerous than they are, therefore we have a right to their
mash (food).
B. They are more numerous than we are, therefore they are wickedly trying
to steal our mash.
C. We are a mighty race and have a natural right to subjugate their puny
D. They are a mighty race and are unnaturally trying to subjugate our
inoffensive one.
E. We must attack them in self defense.
F. They are attacking us by defending themselves.
G. If we do not attack them today, they will attack us tomorrow.
H. In any case, we are not attacking them at all. We are offering them
incalculable benefits.

Thanks to skepticfiles for the link; those wonderful folks saved me some typing. Fader remarks, "Kinda funny how it never sounds quite so ridiculous in real life."

Indeed, considering that it could be argued that all but A. and B. were offered as valid reasons for toppling Saddam and giving the Iraqis democracy. G. and H. are particularily amusing, since they were touted almost incessantly by the conservative-cum-neo-con intellectual whores on talk radio and the like.

I am also reading The Crusades by Hilaire Belloc, and I have, once again, noticed a gem which should have been taken to heart by our Commander in Chief as well as the Generals and anyone else directly dealing with this terrible and immoral war.

Strongly armed, well-disciplined coherent forces will miss their prey if that prey be loosely organized, highly mobile horse which can retire (after doing its utmost of damage) more rapidly than the heavier opponent can pursue. It should be essential, in meeting the lighter and more mobile force, to guard against envelopment and to drive the enemy towards some obstacle against which he can be pinned. Fighting in open country without such an obstacle to check his retirement, the light and mobile enemy may retire indefinitely.

Obviously Belloc doesn't know that we took out Osama's number two man, so all will soon be well. Also, this was written over fifty years ago about something which occurred a millennium ago. Clearly Belloc's observation is irrelevant here, although it is curious perhaps that he is commenting on the Turkish/Mongol army of the Muslims of yore. Heretics, it would seem, oppose change,. Yet when one's enemy is wholly ignorant of one thousand years of human history especially as it pertains to an idealogical conflict of an even longer span—well, if it ain't broke...

I'm still not sure if the United States' military should immediately pull out from Iraq or whether some semblance of victory can still be salvaged. Unfortunately, withdrawing will have serious negative consequences for this republic of ours, a point upon which much of the left seems ignorant of, or simply oblivious to. So long as a reasonable hope of victory remains, it is worth our while to attempt to work our way out of the nice little mess we've made. How one defines victory and whether or not it is actually attainable is not something I am able to determine. The neo-cons had their little war. It is solely their responsibility to see it to completion, whether through ignoble victory or disgraceful defeat.

Meanwhile, I'm back to my reading.

Friday, June 23, 2006

The Silly Matter of WMDs

Earlier this week, WMDs were found in Iraq. This proves, I suppose, that Saddam was a bad cookie, and we were justified in taking him down. Or maybe not.

The chemical weapons that have been recovered by US forces in Iraq were all made before the 1991 Gulf War and were too degraded for their intended use, US intelligence officials said.

Republican lawmakers have cast the disclosure that about 500 chemical weapons have been found in Iraq as evidence that Saddam Hussein had a stockpile of the weapons before the March 2003 US invasion of Iraq.

But the intelligence officials, who briefed reporters on condition of anonymity, said the weapons were too degraded to have posed a threat to US forces in March 2003.

All this talk of WMDs seems to bea lot of wasted words. First, all evidence pointed to the fact that Saddam had WMDs. He didn't let the U.N. inspectors in; most of us assumed that this was because he didn't want to demonstrate proof of his ability to massively destruct things. It turns out he had an incredible inability to do so, but chose to attempt to hide this, possibly so as to avoid tipping the hand of the Iranians, or so I've read.

It must be re-iterated: the intelligence was bad. Bush did not lie. According to what he knew, Saddam had the weapons. He trusted too easily, perhaps, but he did not lie.

The reason the War in Iraq is immoral has nothing to do with WMDs. "The only defensible war," Chesterton tells us, "is a war of defense." The Iraq War was an aggressive, if ostensibly preventive, war, and cannot be defended for this reason. It makes no difference whether Saddam had three camels and two rockets or a nuclear arsenal to rival that of the United States.

We cannot simply go attack countries on the premise that, someday, they may attack us. To do so would result in endless wars to prevent wars from occuring. Such utter madness cannot be accepted by moral individuals.

It is somewhat curious, then, this constant focus on WMDs and lying and the like. They are utterly irrelevant, and there is a just and perfectly legitimate excuse for opposing the War in Iraq which neither depend on Saddam's cascade of weapons nor Bush's alleged violation of the 8th Commandment.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Those Durned Espiscopalians

The problem with Protestantism is that, by claiming that the Bible is the sole authority, they make each man his own interpreter of the sacred word. It should come as no surprise that Protestantism has disolved into so many sects. After all, contrary to popular wisdom, Christianity is a very complicated faith, and even extremely intelligent and educated men have disagreed as to the meanings in different passages. Indeed, in City of God, which I am currently reading, St. Augustine corrects Origen; years later, St. Thomas would respectfully correct a few of Augustine's assertions. Such is the wonder of theolgy.

Yet while the early Church Fathers and Doctors of the Church differed on points of doctrine, the disputes always took place on seemingly unclear Biblical turf. Scripture does not make it explitly clear, for example, just when Angels were created, and this can logically lead to dancing on pins--if we're none too careful. Strangely, modern Christians have forsaken honest debate to become disreputable historical revisionists. This time, the blame falls squarely on the Episcopalians.

Newly elected leader of the U.S. Episcopal Church Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori said on Monday she believed homosexuality was no sin and homosexuals were created by God to love people of the same gender.

Jefferts Schori, bishop of the Diocese of Nevada, was elected on Sunday as the first woman leader of the 2.3 million-member Episcopal Church. the U.S. branch of the worldwide Anglican Communion. She will formally take office later this year.

Interviewed on CNN, Jefferts Schori was asked if it was a sin to be homosexual.

"I don't believe so. I believe that God creates us with different gifts. Each one of us comes into this world with a different collection of things that challenge us and things that give us joy and allow us to bless the world around us," she said.

"Some people come into this world with affections ordered toward other people of the same gender and some people come into this world with affections directed at people of the other gender."

There are several interesting observations for a fellow to make. First, Schori does not once reference the Bible in her defense of homosexuality. The Bible makes many modern Christians
uncomfortable as it reminds them that they are sinners. Yet we are all sinners, and the Bible has some Good News about how we can escape the death we so deserve. It's worth looking into.

Schori is the leader of the Episcopal Church within the U.S. Her choice of remarks is indicative of a growing disease in modern Christendom. Anyone who has studied the Bible even remotely knows that neither Jews nor Christians looked fondly upon homosexuality. It is bizarre to pretend that thousands of years of tradition are insignificant in painting a truer portrait of Christianity. No, bizarre is not the right word. It is insidious and irresponsible; it is like suggesting that the ancient Greeks were actually homophobic.

For lingering doubters, I bring you Paul's letter to the Corinthians. My guess is Schori's sermons will be avoiding certain of the Apostle's passages.

Do you not know that the unjust will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators nor idolaters nor adulterers nor boy prostitutes nor sodomites nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor robbers will inherit the kingdom of God.
- Corinthians 6:9-10

Note how Paul tells us not to be deceived. It seems that some--Christians perhaps--were trying to convince the church in Corinth that certain practices were acceptable to God. Nothing new under the sun--to borrow from another book of the Bible.

The strange thing, to me, is why people are so hellbent on making Christianity into something it has never been and never will be. Christianity is dogmatic. The Old Testament was more legalistic than the New, but both are saturated with rules for good living, things a Christian can do, and things he cannot. These rules are not constricting, and indeed, it is only an adherence to the design of our Designer that we can be free to work properly at all.

But the curious thing is that so many wish to tear down a few choice rules. This shows an over-abundance of pride and a shortage of wisdom. No doubt there are rules we do not like, but religion is not meant to be a collection of sayings a person can agree with and easy maxims any fool can follow. Religion is meant to propel us to higher heights; it is designed to make us paragons of virtue, to separate the believers from the heathens by raising them above the masses. If one feels that a particular religion cannot and should not be followed, the prudent thing to do is to find a religion which can be adhered to, and, equally important, will compel a person to change for the better.

There is a good reason, I think, for the large number of Christians who wish to reform, but not leave, the ancient faith. Deep down they know, or perhaps only fear, that it is true. A wholescale rejection leaves one without an excuse, but an amendment, however improper, allows the now repentent sinner to exclaim that he was trying. Indeed, but hell is not paved with good intention, but with bad action, whatever the intent.

In the words of Becoming the Archetype, "Wide is the which leads to destruction. Wide is the pathway to the pits of despair."

Asked how she reconciled her position on homosexuality with specific passages in the Bible declaring sexual relations between men an abomination, Jefferts Schori said the Bible was written in a very different historical context by people asking different questions.

"The Bible has a great deal to teach us about how to live as human beings. The Bible does not have so much to teach us about what sorts of food to eat, what sorts of clothes to wear -- there are rules in the Bible about those that we don't observe today," she said.

"The Bible tells us about how to treat other human beings, and that's certainly the great message of Jesus -- to include the unincluded."

I will leave it to Schori to make her case before the Judge. It seems to me that the "great message of Jesus" was not to include the unincluded, but to pick up one's cross and follow Him. Including homosexuals--or fornicators, or liars, or murderers, or theives--will not help one get to Heaven. Seems to me, that was the point of Christianity--something about eternal life.

What do I know? I'm not an Episcopalian Bishop. God help their poor church.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Government Waste: A Redundancy

Since the poor people ravished by Katrina, were, well, poor, we had to spend taxpayer dollars to assuage their misery. After all, people need to eat; and watch porn; and drink champagne; and stay in nice resorts; and go watch football games. These are legitimate needs which a humane government should pay for.

Fraudsters splashed on raunchy videos, 200-dollar champagne, ritzy resort stays and American football tickets as part of a one-billion-dollar bill in swindled payments meant for US hurricane victims.

Gregory Kutz, managing director of special investigations at the General Accounting Office, which audits US government spending, said one billion dollars -- or 16 percent of hurricane assistance payments -- were fraudulent.

Considering that the government loses seventy percent of welfare money in administrative tangles, according to Larry Elder, the Katrina debacle is hardly worth noting. Of course, we haven't factored administrative waste--another redundancy--into the cost as yet.

Kutz said one individual stayed at a vacation resort in Orlando, Florida between September and November 2005 -- at a cost to taxpayers of 12,000 dollars, or 249 dollars a night. The fraudster also got 4,000 dollars in emergency rental payments.

Another recipient relaxed in Hawaii for three months -- at a cost of 115 dollars per night -- even though that person lived in North Carolina, hundreds of miles north of the area devastated by the two hurricanes.

Kutz also said some people abused special emergency debit cards given out to hurricane victims.

One person splurged on a 200-dollar bottle of Dom Perignon champagne at a Hooters restaurant, a chain famed for its scantily clad waitresses, he said.

Another scammer enjoyed a 300-dollar collection of "Girls Gone Wild" videos, which show risque shots of partying women, in various stages of undress and drunkenness.

It is easy to simply say, as liberals and conservative apologists are wont to do, that fraud happens, but that doesn't indict the program. Poppycock. Not one dollar of anyone's money should go to redistribute superfluous wealth. This is not un-Christian, but simply an application of common sense. If one can get porn and resort stays on the government dole, why work? This only works until Atlas shrugs, but judging from the scarcity of libertarians, the protestant work ethic will scam enough Americans into slaving away right into totalitarianism, which should be just around the corner.

Sure, we'll get mad over this, but the next time a hurricane hits, we'll ante up. We always do.

Human Causation of Global Warming...

...and the Rather Large Lack of Evidence Thereof

Loyal Achates demonstrates a fairly typical illiberal kneejerk reaction on global warming. It is easy to cast aside conservative skepticism as a convenient alliance which allows for patriot Americans to keep burning fossil fuels in their Hummers and Jet-skis. Still, if the conservatives can be blamed for ignoble motivation, the science is, contrary to Gore's hysteria, quite on the side of the political right. This from the Canada. Eh.

Professor Bob Carter of the Marine Geophysical Laboratory at James Cook University, in Australia gives what, for many Canadians, is a surprising assessment: "Gore's circumstantial arguments are so weak that they are pathetic. It is simply incredible that they, and his film, are commanding public attention."

But surely Carter is merely part of what most people regard as a tiny cadre of "climate change skeptics" who disagree with the "vast majority of scientists" Gore cites?

No; Carter is one of hundreds of highly qualified non-governmental, non-industry, non-lobby group climate experts who contest the hypothesis that human emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) are causing significant global climate change. "Climate experts" is the operative term here. Why? Because what Gore's "majority of scientists" think is immaterial when only a very small fraction of them actually work in the climate field.


Here is a small sample of the side of the debate we almost never hear:

Appearing before the Commons Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development last year, Carleton University paleoclimatologist Professor Tim Patterson testified, "There is no meaningful correlation between CO2 levels and Earth's temperature over this [geologic] time frame. In fact, when CO2 levels were over ten times higher than they are now, about 450 million years ago, the planet was in the depths of the absolute coldest period in the last half billion years." Patterson asked the committee, "On the basis of this evidence, how could anyone still believe that the recent relatively small increase in CO2 levels would be the major cause of the past century's modest warming?"

It's not very kind to introduce science into the matter. For all the platitudes about how fundamentalists are afraid of science--and many of them are--environmentalist nut-jobs demonstrate a similar fear to inconvenient truths that their leader Gore may be off 180 degrees, er, pi radians.

In April sixty of the world's leading experts in the field asked Prime Minister Harper to order a thorough public review of the science of climate change, something that has never happened in Canada. Considering what's at stake - either the end of civilization, if you believe Gore, or a waste of billions of dollars, if you believe his opponents - it seems like a reasonable request.

There we go, infusing logic into the debate yet again. If we aren't shaking in our boots about how the evils of Western civilization have imperiled the rest of the world, how will our leaders be able to eliminate liberty under the guise of saving the planet--and the children of course? I guess we'll just have to keep wprrying about the terrorists. Isn't it interesting how both sides of the political aisle are so terribly and perpetually frightened?

Monday, June 12, 2006

The Feminist Illusion

I recently purchased Camille Paglia's "Sex, Art, and American Culture". Paglia is a maverick in the feminist movement, if she is considered part of the movement at all. The modern feminist is prone to delusion, nay, obsessed with it. The archetypical modern feminst is a white middle class heterosexual woman, moderately intelligent. She typically attends a high caliber university; the Ivy League is rife with feminists. She seldom studies engineering or other male dominated fields, but instead strikes a blow to the patriarchy by majoring in soft sciences such as sociology or women's studies.

Feminists want to have their cake and eat it too. They do not understand basic risk management, nor do they have the faintest grasp on most other basic life principles. For example, feminists believe that men and women are the same; it is only culture which makes us radically different. Culture is why women cannot pass military training or become fire fighters without a drastic reduction in standards. It is also why there are few women in my engineering classes, and fewer still in my computer science courses. Little girls hug their dolls because culture tells them to. Little boys do not compete because that's what little boys do. They do so because culture compels them.

The problem with the nature/nurture debate is that it is a distraction. Irrespective of the reasons, men and women are majestically difference. It is pig-headed to pretend that a square peg will fit in a round hole because squares and circles are one and the same. Perhaps the circle was bent out of shape, but it must be re-bent before it possesses all the attributes of the square.

Feminsts, save for Paglia and those who follow her, do not understand this. If a man can go out drinking irresponsibly, so can a woman. As a libertarian, I haven't the slightest problem with women playing the fool, though I would warn them that they are demonstrating a particularly glaring idiocy by imbibing in alcohol in an unfriendly environment. With freedom comes responsibility. It is well and good for women to shun the protection of men to swear and drink with the boys. Yet it is preposterous to believe that mixing the sexes in such a manner will have no consequences.

Feminists cannot make up their mind. Worse, they have no idea that they must, in fact, make a choice. As Paglia notes, "Sex, like the city streets, would be risk-free only in a totalitarian regime." The liberated women wishes to walk the streets without the affects which freedom brings. She wants the good without the bad. Freedom is, perhaps, the ultimate double edged sword, and though human beings yearn to be free, the responsibility can be suffocating. Thus, the masses clamor for the Patriot Act and gun control. If feminists would not have the patriarchy of the 50's, they would gladly have the despotism of Big Sister government.

It will be interesting to see if the feminist ever begin to realize how right Paglia is. My guess is they will continue to ignore the facts and press onwards toward the utopia which obviously waits just over the hill. More important, will the feminists push us into totaliarianism before or after their movement, like all other foolish crusades prior, collapses in a muffled scream? The list of reason the republic is caput grows daily.

There is a tangential, and probably offensive, thought I wish to add. Despite revisionists efforts to supress certain inconvenient passages, the Bible is quite clear as to the role of the sexes. Men are the head of the household as Christ is the head of the Church. Men must be willing to lay down their lives for their wives just as Christ died for his bride, and the women must submit to the will of their husbands just as the Church yields to Christ. This last part has fallen quite out of fashion, and while non-believers may follow the fads of the day, those who cling to timeless truth are given no such luxury of making a terrible mistake.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Clearly a Lack of Case

If women never lie about rape, then which woman is lying?

Investigator Benjamin Himan first contacted Roberts on March 20, one week after the lacrosse party that ended in the early hours of March 14.

"She heard that (the accuser) was sexually assaulted, which she stated is a 'crock' and she stated that she was with her the whole time until she left," according to Himan's notes. "The only time she was alone was when she would not leave and that time period was less than five minutes."

Apologies should be forthcoming, I'm almost certain. What a joke.

This seems as good a time as any to discuss rape shield laws. So long as the first "dancer's" identity remains a secret, she suffers no ill consequences from this outright fabrication. Let's release her identity; perhaps she'll change her tune.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Flip-Flopping on Gay Marriage

When in doubt, blame the gays:

President Bush and congressional Republicans are aiming the political spotlight this week on efforts to ban gay marriage, with events at both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue--all for a constitutional amendment with scant chance of passage but wide appeal among social conservatives.

Bush said Monday he is "proud to stand with" those who support a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage. The president's remarks Monday were timed to coincide with the Senate opening three days of debate on the issue. Neither chamber, though, is likely to pass the amendment by the two-thirds majority required to send it to the states--three quarters of which would then have to approve it.

In this manner, republicans can demand that the base stay loyal so that marriage can be protected. Apparently we are supposed to believe that just like with abortion, republicans are really serious about banning gay marriage. Note that Roe v. Wade is still the law of the land. That is also why we must vote for republicans. Funny, that.

Many Republicans support the measure because they say traditional marriage strengthens society; others don't but concede the reality of election-year politics.

"Marriage between one man and one woman does a better job protecting children better than any other institution humankind has devised," said Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn. "As such, marriage as an institution should be protected, not redefined."

Query for Mr. Frist: If republicans are serious about protecting children, can we kindly end no-fault divorce? I am a firm believer that traditional--read: heterosexual--marriage is the best institution for raising children. Yet when one half of marriages end in divorce, it is preposterous to claim that gays are going to do a worse job raising children. All things being equal, a man and a woman who are married can out-parent gays. This is simply due to a difference in the sexes; while it is possible that a gay couple could provide the balanced influence of both sexes, they will need an outsider to so provide. Yet a single parent faces the same dilemma, and it is idiotic to believe that because the hands are gay, four hands are not better than two.

The rebuttal is that raising children in a homosexual environment is unhealthy. Raising children in a home which has been torn asunder by divorce isn't? From a Christian perspective, homosexuality is immoral, but so is divorce. Someone please explain the distinction. Why do we need to protect marriage from gays when heterosexuals have decimated it to the extent that there is little left to protect?

With divorce rates among born-agains greater than that of the population at large, and with other Christians, Catholics included, following right behind, no politician will dare take on divorce. s I see it, there are two possible consistent courses a Christian could advocate. If marriage is to be protected, it must be protected against all attacks, irrespective of the sexuality of the attacker.

On the other hand, since morality and legality are only linked when the people who makes the laws are moral, and the people are no longer in the least ways moral, one can simply render to Caesar and let the pagans do as they will. The Christian must answer, not to government, but to God, and it makes precious little difference, except as a potential for scandal, whether gays fornicate with or without a marriage certificate.

The latter course is the one I now take. Even supposing a gay marriage amendment could be passed, it will do little to stem the tide of the pending collapse. The battle remains a cultural one, and while laws can help change the hearts and minds of men, a culture which is dependent on hedonistic consumerism and the slavery of personal passion to control the masses will not stand for a victory, however insignificant, by those of us without power. Is it likely that a Supreme Court which has shown no respect for the intent of the founder's when it comes to the constitution will honor the will of the people? I think not. After all, it was not the people or the representatives of Massachusetts, but the state Supreme Court, which declared a right to gay marriage.

If the people vote for the republicans in the fall, and if republicans pass the amendment, and if enough of the states ratify it, and if the courts do not declare an amendment to the constitution unconstitutional--no it's not crazy; it happened in Colorado--then gays can't wreck marriage. Thank goodness. There are far too many ifs for something which will do little in the long run.

Maybe I should apologize to the Dutch. Praying may be our only option.

Devil's Day

Tomorrow is but a Tuesday, yet because we live in age of all but perpetual fear, the significance of June 6th means the day belongs to the Devil. Since, according to Christ, the world is his already, one wonders why he would especially need a particular day all for himself. In any event, in the Book of Revelation, the sign of the beast is signified by the number 666, and thus, Never mind that parts of Revelation are almost hopelessly cryptic, the obvious interpretation of the Biblically illiterate is that the apocalypse is drawing nigh. While it is entirely possible that the end times loom, this has nothing to do with the numerical significance of this Tuesday. Biblically speaking, the number seven signifies perfection. Six, being one less than seven, denotes a lapse in this perfect goodness--in other words evil; and the three sixes make this evil superlative. Any other significance should be gleaned cautiously, if at all.

Nevertheless, partial hysteria is taking place in regions of the globe:

A Netherlands-based Evangelical organisation has called on Christians in 21 countries to hold a 24-hour prayer vigil against Satanic forces to mark so-called Devil's Day...

"The forces of evil are using this day," Mathijs Piet of the organisation told AFP.

"Through our action we want to stop them from achieving their goal."

Prayer to God is always a good thing, so I hesitate to impugn their efforts. Yet a word of caution is needed. Satan is the Great Deceiver. He does not work in obvious ways so that Christians can easily block him; his chicanery is subtle.

There is a Mark of the Beast, but it will not be a tattoo of three sixes on the hands of those who follow him. Such an interpretation is both too forward and too insensible. Far more likely, in order to do business in the New World Order, computer chips will be implanted in our hands. Regardless as to whether or not such hardware features the trifecta of sixes, it will fulfill the meat of John's prophesy.

It is well and good to remind believers of Satan; for the world belongs to him, and we need always be on guard against him who would tempt us into meriting damnation. Yet Satan is already hard at work, and, so far as I would wager, tomorrow is but an ordinary day of labor for that fallen angel. As the Western world continues to embrace secularism and it's sacraments of gay marriage, abortion, pornography and other moral degradations, we can see Satan continue to work even through the democratic systems which are held sacrosanct.

At least in America, the Christians have put faith in the republican party and George W. Bush to keep the forces of evil at bay. It is ironic that the blind faith has does nothing to prevent evil, and has even ushered in, I continue to assert, the much loathed Hillary as President. The greatest trick of the devil, it is said, was convincing the world he did not exist. The believers will not be swayed, and Satan has seen no reason to waste his time on a futile endeavor. Instead, he let an equally damaging myth be propagated: the democrats were evil, but the republicans were good. Until we strongly consider the possibility that we have been deceived, whether or not tomorrow is his day, the devil will continue to have his way.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Help: Doctors Wanted

Gas prices aren't the only thing making folks uneasy:

A looming doctor shortage threatens to create a national healthcare crisis by further limiting access to physicians, jeopardizing quality and accelerating cost increases.

Twelve states — including California, Texas and Florida — report some physician shortages now or expect them within a few years. Across the country, patients are experiencing or soon will face shortages in at least a dozen physician specialties, including cardiology and radiology and several pediatric and surgical subspecialties.

The shortages are putting pressure on medical schools to boost enrollment, and on lawmakers to lift a cap on funding for physician training and to ease limits on immigration of foreign physicians, who already constitute 25% of the white-coated workforce.

But it may be too late to head off havoc for at least the next decade, experts say, given the long lead time to train surgeons and other specialists.

I am willing to bet that this crisis could be solved by a freer market, but it can only be another airy prediction. We are sooner to see pigs fly or a stable and democratic Iraq than we will see the medical schools and government cease colluding in their flagrant abuse of a naive people's belief that the market is, in fact, free.

The only solution to this crisis has been abandoned before it was even examined. After all, we are implicitly told that the market was not able to solve the problem. Never mind that the market was not given a chance to work; the myth that government involvement in the economy is both good and necessary can only be built on fallacious presumptions. The government will become more heavily involved in the medical practices of both doctors and patients. Any bets as to the affect further third party intrusion will have on the health of the two more important parties?

It is preposterous to complain about high gas prices and a shortage of doctors while claiming to be an advocate of the free and open market, when, in the same bemoaning breath, one demands the government "do something" about the crisis. Either one accepts a free market or one prefers the planned economy of Stalin. Even supposing that the mushy middle ground of high regulation, taxes, and overall government invasiveness is more beneficent than a capitalist utopia, is it possible to believe that the government will prudently stop short of Stalin's attempt to control the entire economy? To believe such is to confess an ignorance of human nature and human history.

People do not want freedom. They do not want a free market; they do not want the terrifying liberty which comes of being accountable only to oneself and one's God. We still prefer bread and circuses, but now they take the form of doctors aplenty, soon to be covered by universal health care as implemented by Hillary, and cheap gas for automobiles, which are the size of tanks--as these are our rights as Americans.

Liberty is but an expensive extravagance.

Thoughts on Iraq, in Limerick Form

The stresses are probably off, as these were hastily assembled. My most sincere apologies.

The President George W. Bush,
Did rarely spend much time on his tush.
Working all the day,
T'keep terror away,
And transforming Iraq into mush.

Now it looks we'll be there a long while,
To protect girl woman boy and child.
Though Saddam's now disposed,
The violence yet grows,
But democracy is now in style.

Bush's numbers continue to descend.
He can't seem to find a loyal friend.
Abandoning his base,
With a grin on his face,
Now broken, the trust will not mend.

With two years to go things look sire,
The rage of the voters is like fire.
But to whom ought we turn?
When will people learn,
That both parties are comprised of liars?

The election looms in November.
I do not think we will remember,
To just stay right home,
To polls we shan't roam;
We won't have to sanction one member.

Poetry, it is said, is dying. Well, I don't like to toot my own horn, but I think Virgil and Dante would gladly claim the above as their own.

Or not. One or the other. Probably.