Thursday, April 26, 2007

Sign Me Up

When I leave the land of Tech, riddled with male engineers, I shall head for the land of women.

Chinese tourism authorities are seeking investment to build a novel concept attraction -- the world's first "women's town," where men get punished for disobedience, an official said Thursday.

The motto of the new town would be "women never make mistakes, and men can never refuse women's requests," Chinese media have reported.

I should eventually admit, what is readily obvious, that I don't really have any idea about how women work, or how men ought to relate to them; but it seems to me that most of the rest of the world is similarly clueless. Thus, in all likelihood I will continue to speculate irresponsibly.

This probably deserves a lengthy and thought-provoking response. For the reality is that men can never really refuse the requests of women, so long as they are actual requests. I don't deny that women do occasionally find that men will not bow to their whims, but this is usually either because women are not requesting but demanding or, if they are demanding, they are not adamant enough in their nagging.

Thus, in one respect, there is nothing new about this town in China. On the other hand, by admitting a common truth, the validity of that truth is somehow diminished. By claiming as a surprise that which is readily obvious brings that very claim into doubt. It is as if men founded a town where women could never over-power men physically. We would probably feel that any man who needed a town to tell him as much wasn't a very strong man, that he hadn't the foggiest idea of what a man was.

So too with these women. I can't help but feel that these women are the type I would never wish to talk to, much less live with. As a man, I can and must give in to the various requests of women, but I must be allowed to pretend that I have some freedom about it. Human beings do not behave well under compulsion, and this is especially true concerning men. It may be true that the world would be a better place if men would simply take out the trash without having the need of a request from a woman, but for my part, I cannot seem to remember when to feed myself, much less can I remember when to take out the trash. And, if given a choice, I would rather be free to beckon to beauty's request than be compelled to do something that is, I would argue, strongly opposed to my nature.

Now getting a beer from the fridge on the other hand...

9/11, the Pending Sequel

Rudolph the twice-divorced Giuliani demonstrates what modern day conservatism is all about:

“If any Republican is elected president —- and I think obviously I would be the best at this —- we will remain on offense and will anticipate what [the terrorists] will do and try to stop them before they do it,” Giuliani said.

If he is so good at anticipating what a terrorist might do, one wonders why his city was hit. If you come from the camp of those who believe that the government has the capacity to prevent all terrorist attacks--which I don't--it's worth asking why we should believe that he's going to be able to do as president that which he couldn't do as mayor.

The former New York City mayor, currently leading in all national polls for the Republican nomination for president, said Tuesday night that America would ultimately defeat terrorism no matter which party gains the White House.

Two points here. First, if we're going to defeat terrorism no matter who gains the White House, then we should feel free to choose candidates based on other issues. Which is a bit weird, given that the only reason that the GOP gives for voting for them is that they're tougher on terror. Second, since terrorism has been with us since the dawn of time, it's idiotic to pretend that we will ever defeat it. Conservatives are supposed to understand that human nature cannot be improved upon. Man, though influenced by his environment, is flawed from within. In short, get used to terrorism. It's nothing new and it's not going away. Ever.

“I listen a little to the Democrats and if one of them gets elected, we are going on defense,” Giuliani continued. “We will wave the white flag on Iraq. We will cut back on the Patriot Act, electronic surveillance, interrogation and we will be back to our pre-Sept. 11 attitude of defense.”

Goodness I hope so. I still don't understand why invading a foreign country which neither attacked us nor was a threat to attack us, why keeping tabs on the people, why torturing enemy combatants were conservative in nature. This isn't Ike or Goldwater's party. It's not even Reagan's party.

He added: “The Democrats do not understand the full nature and scope of the terrorist war against us.”

And the Republicans do? Listen to some of the remarks Rudi makes in the same article:

Giuliani said terrorists “hate us and not because of anything bad we have done; it has nothing to do with Israel and Palestine. They hate us for the freedoms we have and the freedoms we want to share with the world.”

Giuliani continued: “The freedoms we have are in conflict with the perverted, maniacal interpretation of their religion.” He said Americans would fight for “freedom for women, the freedom of elections, freedom of religion and the freedom of our economy.”

Memo to Rudi: drop the idiotic rhetoric. Please. Eight years of dumbed down platitudes from Bush was eight years too many. I seriously can't take it. So stop. Please.

Two points. First, the terrorists do not hate us for our freedoms. They don't give a damn about our freedoms anymore than most of us care for them. On the other hand, they're not fond of us meddling in their business. We could try to pull out of the Middle East and see if they stop hating us but we sort of blew that chance some years ago.

Has it ever occurred to Rudi and the numb-nuts who support him that our "freedom for women" might not be a good thing when this freedom only means the ability to murder children? Muslims, unlike many of their Christian brethren, tend to be pro-life. And I know they're not big on freedom of religion, not because of hate per se, but simply because they take claims to universal truth rather seriously, and are wont to defend them, if need be with the sword, as Christians once did themselves.

I am by no means an expert on Islam. In fact, I know very little about it. But I know enough about it to know that I am by no means sure that "we... are in conflict with... [a] perverted, maniacal interpretation of their religion". Islam has always been militant, as I have mentioned previously. It's entirely possible that what we are confronting in the Middle East is an authentic version of Islam. I am not saying it must be, only that it might. It's worth considering. If the Democrats don't understand the enemy, it's safe to say that neither do the Republicans.

The crowd thundered its approval.

Alas, not for me. The huddled masses no longer yearn to breathe free. But Rudi will make them feel safe. And that is all that matters.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

No Column This Week

...or the next several months for that matter. My columns will appear again next fall. We have but one more week of class until I head back to good old St. Paul for two weeks before starting an internship in Steven's Point, Wisconsin. I hope to resume regularly scheduled blogging soon.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

A "Victory" For Pro-Lifers

I hate journalism in this country:

The Supreme Court's conservative majority handed anti-abortion forces a major victory Wednesday in a decision that bans a controversial abortion procedure and set the stage for further restrictions.

First, the majority is dubiously conservative at best. Alito and Roberts haven't made enough rulings to be considered conservative as yet.

Second, this wasn't a major victory. This is a tiny, and dare I say, insignificant battle in a war that has brought conservatives nothing buy defeat. This could turn out to be our Battle of Alamein, or it could simply be a bone which the GOP can throw at the base come election time to get them to once again support someone who doesn't really care about ending abortion. I'd put my money on the latter.

The 5-4 decision written by Justice Anthony Kennedy said the Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act that Congress passed and President Bush signed into law in 2003 does not violate a woman's constitutional right to an abortion.

Seeing how there is no constitutional right to abortion I can't see how it could.

More than 1 million abortions are performed in the United States each year, according to recent statistics. Nearly 90 percent of those occur in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, and are not affected by Wednesday's ruling. The Guttmacher Institute says 2,200 dilation and extraction procedures—the medical term most often used by doctors—were performed in 2000, the latest figures available.

I don't want to rain on the only parade the Pro-Life movement has had in the last thirty years, but saving two thousand lives, while certainly laudatory, hardly helps the more than one million fetuses who caught mother's ire and ended in death. It should also be noted that not a few women prolonged the decision to have an abortion because they could. My guess is that we'll see a very slight decrease in the amount of abortions performed in this country. If this latest ruling serves to eventually overturn one of the worst decisions in Supreme Court history my hesitancy to rejoice will have been unnecessary. But until that day, there is still quite a bit of work to do.

Drudge links to the reactions of the pretenders to the throne.

Let's start with the Democrats and her highness Hillary:
"This decision marks a dramatic departure from four decades of Supreme Court rulings that upheld a woman's right to choose and recognized the importance of women's health. Today's decision blatantly defies the Court's recent decision in 2000 striking down a state partial-birth abortion law because of its failure to provide an exception for the health of the mother. As the Supreme Court recognized in Roe v. Wade in 1973, this issue is complex and highly personal; the rights and lives of women must be taken into account. It is precisely this erosion of our constitutional rights that I warned against when I opposed the nominations of Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Alito."

Everybody's favorite Negro
"I strongly disagree with today’s Supreme Court ruling, which dramatically departs from previous precedents safeguarding the health of pregnant women. As Justice Ginsburg emphasized in her dissenting opinion, this ruling signals an alarming willingness on the part of the conservative majority to disregard its prior rulings respecting a woman’s medical concerns and the very personal decisions between a doctor and patient. I am extremely concerned that this ruling will embolden state legislatures to enact further measures to restrict a woman's right to choose, and that the conservative Supreme Court justices will look for other opportunities to erode Roe v. Wade, which is established federal law and a matter of equal rights for women."

Lastly, $400 haircut, man of the people, John Edwards:
"I could not disagree more strongly with today's Supreme Court decision. The ban upheld by the Court is an ill-considered and sweeping prohibition that does not even take account for serious threats to the health of individual women. This hard right turn is a stark reminder of why Democrats cannot afford to lose the 2008 election. Too much is at stake - starting with, as the Court made all too clear today, a woman's right to choose."

When you keep in mind that this decision bans only a specific form of abortion, a form so gruesome PETA would riot if it was applied to baby kittens, and you can understand why the Democrats have been wandering in a political wilderness for so long. Obama says he is a uniter or some such twaddle, but that doesn't stop him from taking an extreme position on this one. If you're terribly upset that the court allows Congress to decide if certain types of infanticide can be made illegal you need to take a look at your position. Next time you hear someone talking about how pro-lifers won't compromise on abortion, think back to the words of the three Democratic clowns.

Now on to the Republican stooges, starting with Rudy Giuliani:
“The Supreme Court reached the correct conclusion in upholding the congressional ban on partial birth abortion,” Giuliani said in a statement on the 5–4 decision. “I agree with it.”

Brave words from New York's former mayor. John McCain speaks in the same article:
Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) hailed the decision as “a victory for those who cherish the sanctity of life and integrity of the judiciary.” The senator added that the ruling also “speaks to the importance of nominating and confirming strict-constructionist judges who interpret the law as it is written, and do not usurp the authority of Congress and state legislatures.”

Lastly from Mitt Romney:
“Today, our nation’s highest court reaffirmed the value of life in America by upholding a ban on a practice that offends basic human decency,” former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney said. “This decision represents a step forward in protecting the weakest and most innocent among us.”

Words are fine and good, but they need to be backed up by actions. This is still the only thing the Republicans have done since Roe v. Wade was passed, and while the party does deserve some credit, they need to keep chipping away at abortion before I'll think about voting for them again.

The worst thing about this decision is that loyal Republicans can continue to pretend like there is a difference between the two parties. Never mind that this is one of only a few issues where the parties do actually disagree and that it was decided by the court. The parties are still basically the same, but they pretend otherwise so that we go along for the ride. They'll be parroting each other on most issues within two weeks. Count on it.

An Insensible Vigil

I just got this in an email from my university:

*_VIGIL FOR VIRGINIA TECH_:* *Undergraduate Student Government will be sponsoring a vigil on behalf of Virginia Tech. The vigil will be held in the library today (WED) from 8-9PM. * There will be a small amount of singing, the reading of some religiously neutral passages, and a variety of undergrad and grad students speaking. Advocates from Counseling Services will be there to talk to any student who might feel the need. This vigil will be religiously neutral and USG encourages every student at Michigan Tech to come.

I never really understood the vigil thing. Maybe the ostensible solidarity helps the families of the victims. I'm really not sure. Truthfully I don't think that the students of Virginia Tech really care about the students of Michigan Tech, but then I'm callous enough to suggest that Michigan Tech students don't really care about the students of Virginia Tech either. I'd be lying if I said that I did.

If anyone from my school knows someone involved, then I might see a reason for a vigil, though it still depends on the strength of that connection. Otherwise I think it's a mite ridiculous. Today 157 people died when four bombs went off in Baghdad. At least that many babies will be aborted in the course of this day. The fact of the matter is that while the shooting was tragic, this sort of thing happens all the time, the world over. If we have to stop to hold a vigil every single time someone gets murdered we'll never do anything but hold vigils. Mumbling a simple prayer should suffice to take the place of a vigil.

I also couldn't help but notice that this is a religiously neutral event. First, it's not. The only reason you'd hold a vigil is that you believe that something good can come of it. You believe that there is meaning in tragedy, that there was some design behind these horrible events. Perhaps you even believe that the victims are in a better place, or that the murder is rotting in Hell. You can hold all these beliefs if you wish, but you can't pretend they're religiously neutral.

Second, dare I suggest that a rejection of religion is not only what gets us into this mess, but also prevents us from drawing any understanding from it? Everyone always asks why such a thing happened, to which we can scarcely make any reply save that mankind is dark. Remove all the externals influences you wish and this thing will still happen. Rousseau was right that everywhere man in chains, but he was wrong in suggesting that he was born free. It is only in re-birth that man has been freed from his chains. Religiously neutral passages will never help us understand the answer to this great riddle.

Blacks and Women as Children

This week's article:

In modern America, be careful, lest you let a racial epithet slip. Just ask Don Imus. Less than two weeks after referring to the Rutgers women's basketball team as “nappy-headed hos”, the popular radio talk show host suddenly found himself without a job. I'm not here to defend Imus' comments; they were crass, unfair and mean-spirited. Decorum demanded that he apologize to the Rutger's women. Yet apologies were not enough to mollify the wrath of the offended. Carelessly derogating African-American women is now an unpardonable sin. The story has been preposterously overblown. But it is indicative of the way we have completely lost our sanity in relating to race in this country. I offer several points:

1) There is no racial or sexual property of associativity. If one member of a group is maligned, the whole group doesn't need to go to Oprah for mass counseling. Imus owed an apology to the female basketball players of Rutgers University. If African-Americans and/or women were offended by his statement, they need to get tougher skin. I have no idea what it would be like to be either African-American or female, but that is completely beside the point. Imus' words applied to a minuscule segment of the population. It is the height of absurdity to require apologies for every single group which may be in any way affiliated with the people who was maligned. Those who disparage Hitler need not apologize to all Germans. And yet, every time a black person is offended, blacks in general are deeply wounded. What palpable nonsense.

2) The women who were actually offended should lighten up. Again, I'm a middle-class straight white male of European descent; but I didn't know that only those who were similarly classified were required to possess a spine. Listen to the words of one of the women from Rutgers: "All of our accomplishments were lost, our moment was taken away." She simply can't be expressing herself honestly. Every woman and every African-American should be deeply embarrassed by the actions of those on the basketball team. Can anyone imagine Bush, weakly warbling that his presidency is all for naught because a few liberals still think he stole the election from Gore and called him a daddy's boy? So why on earth do we accept such behavior from other adults?

3) During the entirety of the witch hunt to get Imus, no one has actually addressed his claim. I do not, for one instant, suppose that all of the women in question are either nappy-headed or hos. But if the claim is, as I suspect, absurd on its face, why was it treated so solemnly? All the women needed to do was explain that they were neither nappy-headed nor ho-ish, and dismiss Imus as an ignorant crank. Then the story would then have faded into blessed obscurity. Instead, we all had to dwell on the fact that Imus was a—fill in your negative adjective of choice—old man. For the first time I am wondering whether or not there is validity to his rash claim. If the women aren't nappy-headed hos, they're certainly acting like a whiny bunch of little girls.

4) Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson can go take a flying crap in the rain, to borrow from Allen Ginsberg. As Token so brilliantly noted in a recent episode of South Park, Jesse Jackson isn't the mayor of black people. As for Sharpton, I have but two words: Tawana Brawley. Granted, for the third time, that I am not black, I don't see the need to have a couple of clowns to entertain the media circus every time someone white says something stupid about someone black. If blacks were still getting lynched, I might see the need for a figurehead—though I'd question the judgment of appointing two hypocritical cretins like Sharpton and Jackon—but blacks are, thankfully, no longer being lynched. Aren't blacks strong enough to defend themselves against mere words?

As usual, I've plum ran out of room. I don't know how much racism lingers in this here country of ours. It may still be substantial. But as the boy who cried wolf could tell you, constantly complaining about mere trifles is a good way to get people to ignore genuine signs of trouble. And, as the boy could further note, when genuine trouble comes along, cold dark humanity generally believes that such ill fates are well deserved. Acting like little children may prove beneficial in the short-run—after all, Imus no longer haunts the airwaves. But in the longterm, acting like children is a surefire way to be treated like them.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Virginia Tech Massacre

By now everyone knows the news, so I'll just offer a few thoughts which spring to my mind.

1) The school isn't to blame on this one. Hindsight being 20-20 and all, they certainly should have alerted the students sooner, but it's preposterous to expect the school to know exactly what to do in an unusual situation like this. Of course now schools will probably have to go through drills so that everyone knows what to do in case this happens again. Also to ensure that we're properly terrified until the next time it does happen, which everyone knows it will.

The real problem with blaming the school is that it reveals not only cowardice, but extreme naivety about the dangers of life on the behalf of the average American. It is not the duty of the schools, or the government, to protect everyone. Even supposing that either possessed the capability to do so, they would then be so tyrannical as to present a far more ominous threat to the safety of those who foolishly seek protection where it shall not be found. If you want to prevent someone from killing you and yours, carry a handgun and don't be afraid to use it in self-defense.

2) Which brings us right to the next point. I told one of my friends yesterday that we could count on a full-court press clamoring for more gun control within 48 hours. That flood of nonsense has started already. Allow me to rebut with this piece from WorldNetDaily:

More than one year before today's unprecedented shooting rampage at Virgina Tech, the state's General Assembly quashed a bill that would have given qualified college students and employees the right to carry handguns on campus.

At the time, Virginia Tech spokesman Larry Hincker said he was happy to hear of the bill's defeat, according to the Roanoke Times.

"I'm sure the university community is appreciative of the General Assembly's actions because this will help parents, students, faculty and visitors feel safe on our campus," the Virginia Tech spokesman said.

They've now found a receipt for the murderer's gun, which means the anti-gun vitriol is going to be especially intense this time around, but such an argument, always stupid, is especially so this time around. Had a student, teacher, or faculty member possessed a fire-arm this evil could have been stopped sooner. But in trying to make students "feel safe" they merely served to facilitate the tragedy. Shooting unarmed civilians is basic target practice. The evil was perpetuated by one man, but it's hard not to believe the General Assembly of Virginia hasn't any blood on her holier-than-thou hands.

Gun control doesn't work. It never has and it never will. Criminals, by definition, do not obey laws; if the murderer couldn't have obtained a hand-gun legally does any one doubt his ability, or his intention to buy one on the black market? Confiscating all the guns might work, and indeed did work quite well--for the Nazis. But I question the wisdom of allowing the government to have all the guns. Proponents of gun control neither think rationally nor do they have much of a grasp on history, so the bemoaning will not recess, and if we're not careful, we're going to see so more nefarious legislation.

3) As always, this media circus presented all involved with massive ratings. It's rather amusing watching the television clowns milk tragedy for personal gain but aside from watching a little of the Factor to laugh at O'Reilly, we're all better turning the dang thing off.

4) As Vox points out, referring to the incident as "American" gun violence is disingenuous. We now know the killer was from South Korea. I'm picturing Michael Moore visiting South Korea and lamenting the pervasiveness of gun violence there, while making a trip to their benevolent northern neighbors in his next propaganda film.

5) Last and most certainly least, Imus almost made it. This is one problem with writing my columns so many days in advance. I'm almost required to write another one, but I think I'll simply accept the moniker of antiquated so long as no one calls me antediluvian.


Drudge just posted the ratings from last night's broadcasts. Two pittance if you can guess who won.

MON., APRIL 16, 2007

CNN LARRY KING 2,574,000
CNN COOPER 2,535,000
FNC GRETA 2,349,000
CNN ZAHN 2,014,000


FNC 1,636,000
CNN 1,267,000
MSNBC 525,000

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Ban the Cell Phones

It's the only thing we can do, really:

[Scientists] are putting forward the theory that radiation given off by mobile phones and other hi-tech gadgets is a possible answer to one of the more bizarre mysteries ever to happen in the natural world - the abrupt disappearance of the bees that pollinate crops. Late last week, some bee-keepers claimed that the phenomenon - which started in the US, then spread to continental Europe - was beginning to hit Britain as well.

The theory is that radiation from mobile phones interferes with bees' navigation systems, preventing the famously homeloving species from finding their way back to their hives. Improbable as it may seem, there is now evidence to back this up.

Since scientists--one almost feels the need to capitalize the word in reverence--are making these claims, we have no choice but to believe them. As anyone who believes earnestly that something must be done about global warming could tell you, scientists are never wrong. About anything. That there are scientists on every side of any new-fangled theory is irrelevant; those scientists who happen to disagree with your opinion are not scientists at all, and are probably being paid large amounts of money by nefarious corporations such as HaliBurton. Thus these scientists must be believed.

Also, whenever human beings are doing dubious damage to the environment, they must rectify their behavior immediately. This is because liberty is not nearly as important as appeasing our mother the earth. Therefore in order to ensure that harvests continue we must ban cell phones. Since I do not own one of the dreaded devices, this will not affect me in the least; and anyone who suggests that I am only offering this suggestion because I loathe cell phones would be a liar. It is not wise to under-rate my love for mother earth.

Dropping the sarcasm for a bit, there are a few important lessons here. First, it is very important to make sure a theory is sound before we go off chasing it like little children. A theory is a fine thing, but it may be an entirely wrong one as well, and as fine as it may be, it does little good unless it is correct in its analysis of the facts.

Second, humans are a bad influence on the environment. Human history is riddled with attempts by man to conquer the earth. Genesis begins rightly with the command from God to "subdue the earth". Now, cell phones may not have been developed with this specific task in mind, but any attempt to enhance civilization will carry with it the possibility, if not likelihood, of ill effect upon the environment.

Last, but certainly not least, man's quest to make life safer will always be a foolish one so long as man is mortal. It seems like a platitude, but it is a very important truth. Before ceding any liberty to the powers that be, it is imperative to make sure that the deal is well worth it. Powers once given to the government are seldom returned, at least not until the revolution. It's going to take a long time before, say, certain states start allowing patrons to smoke in bars again. It merits keeping in mind.

Dropping the N-Bomb

I believe it's called hip-hop:

If people found radio host Don Imus' comments about the Rutger's women's basketball team offensive, why are people at South Carolina State University lining up to hear similar words from rap artists?

In one song from a performer at Friday's concert, the n-word is used more than 100 times...

WIS asked students at on campus about the concert and the lyrics. One student, Kendra Johnson, says, "The radio host was out of line when he said it. Some rap artists may be out of line, but they don't mean no harm."

They may not have meant any harm, though her comment is evidence that someone is having a pejorative influence upon the young lass's ability to speak proficiently. Alternatively, she could merely be a product of the public schools. And don't forget that this young woman is a university student. Education and intelligence are occasionally related, but they are not necessarily so.

More importantly, whether or not someone intends harm is irrelevant. It could be argued, probably fairly easily, that Imus didn't mean harm either. Whether or not he did in fact harm people, and to what extent they were harmed is the issue at hand. The same applies to the hip-hoppers, who likely possess similar good intentions. I think it's fairly obvious that rap music does have a substantial impact on the "black community" and that a good deal of it is not positive. To what extent rap harms blacks in America is a matter for debate.

Last but not least, the double standard in terms of which words can be said by whom has reached staggering proportions. Even were I allowed to do so, I would refrain from using the n-word because it is a stupid word to use, save in reference to Flannery O'Connor's fine story "The Artificial Nigger" which offers a brilliant commentary on race relations in the deep south. Gratuitous use of the epithet is crass and classless, no matter who is making use of the word. The pea shooter of Don Imus isn't doing a fraction of the damage to the "black community" that rappers are doing.

Of course this is just the opinion of a white fellow who doesn't listen to much hip-hop.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Blame the Genes

...for ADHD:

A research team led by Professor Johannes Hebebrand of the University of Duisburg-Essen in western Germany studied 329 families in which one child had attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder syndrome.

They found that a great majority -- around 70 percent -- had a combination of three mutations in the gene for the so-called dopamine transporter linked to hyperactivity.

It figures that the Germans would be behind this. I'm not doubting the validity of his assertion, though I'm more than skeptical about the diagnosis, not to say the very existence of ADHD. But I do wonder whether we need to prevent the hyperactive from breeding--good luck--or whether we ought to welcome them, if not as Supermen, then certainly as the predecessors thereof.

On a more serious note, this should again suggest that science, divorced from a system of ethics, is merely the satisfaction of an intellectual itching. As such, it should neither be feared, nor especially reverenced. Unless of course it's accompanied by a--correct--moral code, whereon it regains the high status we reserve for it today.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Duke Lacrosse

...should finally be leaving the news limelight.

The office of North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper will announce that he is dismissing all charges against three Duke Lacrosse players, ABC News has learned from sources close to the case.

It's not a surprise that the charges are being dismissed, though it is a disappointment that such spurious charges were taken even vaguely seriously in the first place. Hopefully we've all learned several things:

1) While there is nothing illegal about hiring an exotic dancer, morally unscrupulous activities often produce undesirable legal consequences. Paying a woman to dance for the boys is far more likely to end in trouble than hosting a small house party. Of course, the safest bet is to simply play board games with the guys. My recommendation is for a little Diplomacy.

2) Immorality often comes in packaged form. An exotic dancer is more prone to making up a ridiculous story than is your run-of-the-mill college student.

3) Feminists notwithstanding, women can and will lie about rape. This is not to say that all claims of rape are fallacious, but neither is the converse true. It is unwise for a man to be alone in a room with a woman he barely knows. It is also unwise for the woman to do so. A large number of rapes can be prevented; so too can a good portion of false rapes.

4) Last but not least, always be leery of media coverage when the story has "massive ratings" written all over it. It is not beyond the realm of possibility that a group of rich white men would rape a poor black girl, but every story of this type is so incendiary that the press is going to be liable to shoot first and ask questions later. Prudence demands that if journalists are unwilling to do their job, we must ask the questions ourselves.

Bantamweight Obama

I've long considered Barrack Obama to be far too much of a lightweight, intellectually speaking and otherwise, to pose a serious threat to Hillary in her attempts to gain the presidency:

With the Rev. Al Sharpton leading calls Monday for radio host Don Imus to be fired over racially insensitive remarks, Senator Barack Obama's presidential campaign avoided the controversy throughout the day.

Not until Monday evening, five days after Imus's comments were uttered and hours after CBS Radio and MSNBC announced a two-week suspension for the radio host, did Obama weigh in, saying in a statement: "The comments of Don Imus were divisive, hurtful, and offensive to Americans of all backgrounds." Obama did not address whether he thought Imus should be taken off the air.

While I think it's a good move to divorce himself from the Sharpton/Jackson crowd, the words we waited five days to hear seemed a bit, oh I don't know, dull. If he had something important to say on the topic, I could have waited, but if he's only going to say what everyone and their mother believes, I don't see how the wait is worth it. This guy is supposed to be a contender for the presidency? Boy, I'm glad that the Democrats found someone who isn't afraid to point out insensitive comments. You'd think the party was intellectually bankrupt or something.

Talk to any Obama supporter about why he should become president. You'll either get:

1) Platitudes: something about caring for the children;
2)How he's charismatic: translation: I turn my brain off whenever he speaks because he's so disarmingly charming;
3) How he's a breath of fresh air and won't divide the nation: if a candidate never takes a stance on a real issue, he's not going to attract a whole lot of controversy, but if we only wish to avoid controversy, why don't we just nominate a tackling dummy?

You'll never get to hear his stance on the issues. Maybe it's just me, but that seems like the sort of thing I'd like to know before voting for a guy. The man is over his head, and doesn't stand a chance. But isn't he charming?

Global Warming Unmasked

Today's column:

The occasion of the latest April blizzard seems a proper time for another column concerning global warming. It is emphatically true that cold weather in April has occurred previously, and thus it is idiotic to pretend that the recent bout of weather is proof positive that global warming does not exist. So far as I know, no one actually offers this as proof, save sardonically. On the other hand, it is routinely noted that global warming will produce strange happenings in regards to weather. In short, global warming will not only cause global warming, but it may cause global cooling as well. In a word, weather will continue to be weather, with the addition that now we have caused it, oh powerful we, and that we ought to do something about it.

Forgive me for not taking such a theory very seriously; I don't see how anyone with a shred of common sense in their head could. This is not to say that it is imbecilic to believe that the earth is warming; there is indeed evidence to suggest as much. But a theory that chalks up every possible output as proof positive of said theory is absolutely ridiculous. Let warming be the cause of warming, not the cause of everything.

It is always difficult to concoct a parallel to an absurdity in such a way that the reader understands that while the parallel is solemn, the parallel example itself is absurd. Here follow my feeble attempts. It is as if when the NHL mandated smaller pads for goalies someone postulated that on average scoring would go up, but then cited examples of low-scoring games as proof of their theory. It is as if when people began to download music, it was theorized that album sales would decrease, but then a rise in sales by various independent artists was taken as evidence of the validity of the theory.

If a hockey fan cried foul in high-scoring games and low-scoring games alike, we would suspect that he had a hidden motive. In all likelihood, he simply hated the rule change. If a representative bemoaned increases and decreases in record sales alike, we might begin to wonder if he cared about record sales at all, or whether he simply hated downloading. Similarly, we might begin to suspect that the global warming crowd did not really care what happened to the temperature of the earth. Something else is at stake.

The concern of the global warming company is not with the actual warming; it is with the internal combustion engine, especially when it is used to power an SUV; it is with American decadence, which takes pride in exorbitant plunder of the earth's resources. Their general theory is that the behavior of human is causing the earth to flirt with going postal—on us. It is only to the most advanced—I use that term in the loosest sense possible—nations that this message is addressed. As such, their problem lies with the industrialized nations; and as the world's largest economic powerhouse, America is especially set aside for rebuke.

Now interestingly enough, if they simply stated their objection to the American way of life I might consider jumping on the bandwagon. If it was said that we ought to burn down all the McDonald's and Wal-Marts across the fruited plains, I would respect the warming crowd as revolutionaries, even if I wouldn't necessarily contribute a torch. But they do not do this. They aim to work clandestinely—like cowards. They are not content with a movement of the people. Apparently people will never be able to fight the onslaught of global warming all by themselves. It is government, especially international government, which must do the heavy lifting for the poor people who are helpless in the face of crisis. In short, the global warming crowd, like the backers of ASMTU we discussed last week, are snobbish elitists.

At long last we have reached the heart of the matter. Regardless of what happens to the weather, outside action is needed on behalf of the government. I hardly think it wise to trust those who, based on dubious assertions, legislate dubiously, with the hope of protecting ourselves from ourselves, when in reality, this is only but another example of liberty's long death march. I much prefer an honest tyrant to one who works surreptitiously.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Saving the World lousy chord at a time:

Madonna, Genesis and the re-formed Police will top a galaxy of stars rocking the world against climate change in seven mammoth concerts around the globe on July 7, organizers said Tuesday.

More than 100 acts will perform in the giant 24-hour Live Earth concert relay -- the brainchild of former US vice-president Al Gore -- spanning Sydney, Tokyo, Shanghai, Johannesburg, London, Rio de Janeiro and New York...

"By attracting an audience of billions we hope Live Earth will launch a global campaign giving a critical mass of people around the world the tools they need to help solve the climate crisis," Gore said.

"We hope the energy created by Live Earth will jump start a massive public education effort.

"Live Earth will help us reach a tipping point that's needed to move corporations and governments to take decisive action to solve the climate crisis."

See because what causes global warming is a lack of awareness--like AIDS, which is not actually spread by sexual intercourse. Notice too his line about how corporations and government need to take action. It's almost as if he read the column I wrote last Sunday which will be printed tomorrow. Being the smart fellow that I am, I have decided to contribute my two cents on how to preventing global warming.

Whereas expending energy exacerbates climate change, and whereas the Live Earth concert will consume copious amounts of energy, all those who view global warming to be a clear and present danger to the American way of life ought to earnestly beseech governments the world over to intervene and prevent Live Earth from doing catastrophic damage to our mother the Earth.

Anything less is nothing short of hypocritical. Not that being construed as such has caused Gore to shirk from blatant hypocrisy in the past. Remember, some energy consumers are more equal than others.

The Limited Right to an Abortion

A woman can choose to abort her child, but only if she chooses to go with one of those expensive abortion service providers:

A 24-year-old West Monroe woman is facing a charge of second-degree self abortion, a misdemeanor, and is accused of trying to kill her unborn baby, Oswego County Sheriff's deputies said.

The woman was arrested Monday. Deputies say that on April 4 the woman ingested several over-the-counter and prescription medications. Deputies say the woman was in her 13th week of the pregnancy at the time.

Following the pro-choice line of thinking, this woman should not be charged, she should be praised. If memory serves, abortions cost about $300--also one human life. Since abortion is, in the words of Republican front-runner Giuliani, "a constitutional right" and should thus be funded, any way we can mitigate the cost of abortion is a victory for Progress and Women's Rights. If I'm going to be made to pay so that women can murder their children, we should do our best to keep the price down so that no woman feels compelled to choose to have an unwanted child.

Perhaps more importantly, this woman took her own life into her own hands to make a decision. She didn't need to rely on oppressive corporations or rich doctors to help her. Instead, she struck a blow against the patriarchy by solving the problem herself. Every blatantly pro-choice web-page I've ever visited always has stories lionizing the women who gave their lives for the cause in the days before Roe v. Wade made abortion legal. This woman is quite similar, and she deserves to be equally lauded.

To this end, I expect the abortionettes marching on West Monroe within the hour.

Monday, April 09, 2007

God Disproved

Steve writes:

If there was a god (like the type you and yours asserts) the one sure thing would be that nobody doubted its existence.

I doubt his sincerity. Alternatively I must doubt his intelligence. I see no other recourse. The ability to doubt God's existence is based purely on the fact that we may believe whatever we wish; in other words we have free will. Now I don't know how extensively Steve has studied Christianity, but he should realize that that particular creed believes both in God, and the ability to reject him. Indeed the philosophy is founded on not only the existence of the latter, but its pervasiveness. Christianity postulates a separation between God and man; as part of that separation it may be inferred that God and man do not always see eye to eye. But is a basic tenant, a premise, of a creed the best way to refute that creed? I hardly think so.

Steve and his ilk are going to have to try harder than this.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Happy Easter

... to one and all!

But at daybreak on the first day of the week they took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb; but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were puzzling over this, behold, two men in dazzling garments appeared to them. They were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground. They said to them, "Why do you seek the living one among the dead? He is not here, but he has been raised..."

Luke 24: 1-6

Friday, April 06, 2007

Good Friday

Perhaps I shall find time and motivation to comment on the topic of Good Friday, which is nothing if not strange, but for now I will leave you with Chesterton's words on the matter, this time from The Everlasting Man:

There were solitudes beyond where none shall follow. There were secrets in the inmost and invisible part of that drama that have no symbol in speech; or in any severance of a man from men. Nor is it easy for any words less stark and single-minded than those of the naked narrative even to hint at the horror of exaltation that lifted itself above the hill. Endless expositions have not come to the end of it, or even to the beginning. And if there be any sound that can produce a silence, we may surely be silent about the end and the extremity; when a cry was driven out of that darkness in words dreadfully distinct and dreadfully unintelligible, which man shall never understand in all the eternity they have purchased for him; and for one annihilating instant an abyss that is not for our thoughts had opened even in the unity of the absolute; and God had been forsaken of God.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

ASMTU or Die

This week's article, less than pertinent for non Tech students, may nonetheless contain some value:

The will of the people, like a warm day in March or a canceled class, is a pleasant thing; but it is hardly necessary that it coincide with the whims of governmental elites. If the people can be tricked into supporting an action, well and good; but if they cannot it is enough to ignore the majority, castigating them as a minority, since the government must act on its own for the good of its people. As Plato expressed so bluntly in The Republic: "It seems likely that our rulers will have to make considerable use of falsehood and deception for the benefit of their subjects."

Last year, USG attempted to get the students to ratify AMSTU (Associated Students of Michigan Technological University). Despite endeavors to keep the polls open in perpetuity, the system was widely rejected. The people had spoken. But since the elites know better, the will of the people, made manifestly clear, could be summarily ignored. If ASMTU was rejected, USG had but only to try again. Sooner or later the people would see how wrong they were and come to accept the suggestions of ruling elites, who obviously know better than us what is better for us.

In the interest of full disclosure, I voted no to ASMTU. I will not lay out my reasons for doing so because my good friend and USG member Shazoo Rivzi has already done so in a more succinct and eloquent manner than I could possibly hope to do. But even if I had never read Mr. Rivzi's fine article, even if I had never spoken to him about ASMTU, I still would have voted it down.

If certain member of USG wanted ASMTU to pass, they needed to do two things: first, identify and expound upon the problems facing student government. No doubt there are plenty of problems, inherent in any system of governance. But to a very large segment of the population, myself included, student government seems to works well enough as is. Second, contingent on the first, someone needed to explain how ASMTU would rectify the supposed problems student government now faces. Since we remain in the dark about the problems, it's no surprise people are leery that ASMTU will be a corrective force.

ASMTU was voted down last year, and those who pushed for it have only themselves to blame. My sources tell me that ASMTU is headed for another resounding and much-deserved defeat. ASMTU should be shelved for a considerable time period. Having failed, not once, but twice, to convince the student body of its necessity, it is neither prudent nor acceptable to march out a new and improved ASMTU to be again voted on by a slightly different student body. Voting until you get the votes you like is antithetical to democracy. It is embarrassing to pretend that the voice of the people is important, but only if that voice agrees with your own. Democracy should either be rejected as a vehicle for implementing ASMTU or the matter should be dropped entirely. One does not bow down before that which one does not respect.

In my home state of Minnesota, my dearly beloved Twins have been attempting to convince the taxpayers to build them a stadium. Despite the fact that I believe the Metrodome to be a mortifying monstrosity, and despite the fact that I regularly attend Twins' games, I opposed the misappropriation of taxpayer money which would have resulted had the measure gone through. So too did a majority of Minnesotans. It took a decade, but the measure finally came to fruition, even though sixty-eight percent of Minnesotans still opposed the plan.

I do not know what changes are in store for the student government; I do not know how many times the students must reject ASMTU before its backers get the picture. But should ASMTU be brought up again, or passed by circumventing the student body altogether, I know one thing. The elites of USG, like the legislators who bought the Twins their new stadium, will never have the satisfaction of claiming that they really represent the students. Plato would be proud.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

The Folly of Sam Harris

Newsweek features a conversation between atheist Sam Harris and Christian pastor Rick Warren:

Harris: [T]here are many testimonials about miracles, every bit as amazing as the miracles of Jesus, in other literature of the world's religions. Even contemporary miracles. There are millions of people who believe that Sathya Sai Baba, the south Indian guru, was born of a virgin, has raised the dead and materializes objects. I mean, you can watch some of his miracles on YouTube. Prepare to be underwhelmed. He's a stage magician. As a Christian, you can say Sathya Sai Baba's miracle stories are not interesting, let's not pay attention to them, but if you set them within the prescientific religious milieu of the first-century Roman Empire, suddenly miracle stories become especially compelling.

I find this response fascinating. The prescientific religious milieu has nothing to do with the compelling nature of miracles. We do our ancestors a tremendous disservice when we make them out to be total morons. Take, for instance, the story of Lazarus. It didn't take very much scientific knowledge for the Jews to ascertain that when Jesus raised him from the dead something unusual had occurred. In point of fact, the Pharisees, so opposed to the strange preacher from Nazareth, never denied his miracles. They simply attributed them to Satan. Which is, incidentally, precisely what I would do when it came to the miracles of the Indian guru.

Harris: I'm not at all a moral relativist. I think it's quite common among religious people to believe that atheism entails moral relativism. I think there is an absolute right and wrong.

But Harris does not tell us where this comes from. Nor can he. And this is the fundamental flaw of atheistic systems of morals and ethics. Nietzsche, the most logical and lucid of the atheistic philosophers, had it right: if God is dead, morality is wholly subjective. From the chaos and the cacophony may come the Superman, but make no mistake about it, atheism, if widespread, will lead to moral anarchy.

Harris: This really is one of the great canards of religious discourse, the idea that the greatest crimes of the 20th century were perpetrated because of atheism. The core problem for me is divisive dogmatism.

Given the fact that 1) the 20th century was the world's bloodiest; 2) although atheism has been around for ages, it became fashionable, especially among "intellectuals" during this same century; and 3) the three bloodiest ideologies: communism, feminism--due to the tragedy of mass abortions, and nazism, were all partaken by those who had rejected Judeo-Christian morality, many of whom were explicitly atheist, I should think this is all readily obvious. If dogmatism was truly that problematic, history should have demonstrated that religious dogmatism leads quickly to hell, something it--Christianity especially--seldom does. In fact, Communists, Nazis, and pro-abortion feminists are divisively dogmatic, showing just how much human beings hate the vacuum which occupies the space left by the rejected objective moral code. As even Harris must realize, dogma is essential if he is to have his absolute right and wrong. The important thing is not that it is dogmatic; it must be so. The important thing is that the dogma is correct. That would be my one great complaint with so many of the ideologues of the 20th century.

Harris: No society in human history has ever suffered because it has become too reasonable.

Unfortunately this is completely untrue. For, as Chesterton points out so brilliantly in the first chapter of Orthodoxy:

Imagination does not breed insanity. Exactly what does breed insanity is reason. Poets do not go mad; but chess-players do. Mathematicians go mad, and cashiers; but creative artists very seldom. I am not, as will be seen, in any sense attacking logic: I only say that this danger does lie in logic, not in imagination... Poetry is sane because it floats easily in an infinite sea; reason seeks to cross the infinite sea, and so make it finite. The result is mental exhaustion, like the physical exhaustion of Mr. Holbein. To accept everything is an exercise, to understand everything a strain. The poet only desires exaltation and expansion, a world to stretch himself in. The poet only asks to get his head into the heavens. It is the logician who seeks to get the heavens into his head. And it is his head that splits.

The point is plain, and hardly needs to be expounded upon. Sooner or later, Harris may take his reason to its logical extreme and see his head split. It is reasonable to attack religion in general and Christianity in particular; most religions are absurd, most Christians are somewhat ridiculous. I happen to feel that even absurd religions and ridiculous followers are, at the very least, instinctually approximately correct in their gropings at higher truths, not accessible by human reason alone; but it is not really reasonable to take reason all the way in regards to atheism. There ends the chaos of Nietzsche's superman, the wholly subjective will-to-power. For Nietzsche himself, that brilliant German philosopher, ended in madness.

As for me, I prefer not to end in madness, so I'll just end right here.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Election News

I know it's still a year and a half away, but until Bush and Co. start bombing Iran, which, according to the Jerusalem Postm they are set to do as of this Friday, I'll make a few more comments on the election of '08.

First, the Hillary news, courtesy of Drudge:

Hillary Clinton's campaign today announced it will report $36 million in total receipts for the first fundraising quarter, which ended March 31, 2007. The staggering number reflects the strength of support for Clinton from every walk of life and every part of America...

In March of 2003, the highest total reported by a Democratic campaign in its first-quarter fundraising report was $7.4 million and the top four candidates combined raised just over $23 million. In March of 1999, incumbent Vice President Al Gore reported $8.9 million for his first quarter.

What I truly love about America is that anyone can become president. As long as they can raise millions of dollars. The common criticism that Hillary is unlikeable is a shallow one; few people can be trusted tomorrow with commitments they hastily make today. A promise not to vote for Hillary is not to be taken seriously unless the person promising shows serious inclination to avoiding the election entirely, voting for the other party, or "throwing away a vote" on a third-party candidate. Most people simply aren't willing to do this.

Democrats will flock to whomever the party anoints, especially if Bush goes ahead and bombs Tehran. A large number of Republican women will also no doubt strike a blow against the patriarchy and elect Mrs. Clinton.

Now, onto her would-be-challengers:

In just three weeks, Fred Thompson has improbably transformed the contest for the Republican presidential nomination. It is not merely that he has come from nowhere to double digits in national polls. He is the talk of GOP political circles, because he is filling the conservative void in the Republican field.

Republican activists have complained for months that none of the big-three contenders -- Rudy Giuliani, John McCain and Mitt Romney -- fits the model of a conservative leader for a conservative party...

Thompson's popularity reflects weakness among announced Republican candidates, as reflected in the Gallup survey. Sen. McCain, no longer an insurgent but still not accepted by conservatives, is stuck in the 20-25 percent range. Former New York City Mayor Giuliani has dropped precipitously from 44 percent to 31 percent, amid attacks on his ideology and personal life. Most startling, despite a well-financed, well-organized campaign, Romney has fallen to 3 percent...

None of the big-three Republicans has been so consistently conservative as Thompson on tax policy, national security and abortion.

I've not given too much thought to a Fred Thompson candidacy, but it's good to see that some in the Republican party are tiring of having to support a moderate for President. Reagan is dead, but it might be nice to have someone who vaguely approximates him to carry the Republican torch. Ostensibly, Thompson fits the mold.

Although I like the idea of having a President named "Fred", I highly doubt that Mr. Thompson will stick around long enough to get the Republican nod. His role is to serve as decoy, to distract those who follow politics and are nonetheless bored and unimpressed with Guiliani, McCain and Romney. If my instincts are correct, we will see another Thompson-esque candidate emerge once the public is bored with this one. The Presidency is still Hillary's for the taking.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Palm Sunday

It seemed an opportune moment for G. K. Chesterton's poem The Donkey. Happy Holy Week.

When fishes flew and forests walked
And figs grew upon thorn,
Some moment when the moon was blood
Then surely I was born.

With monstrous head and sickening cry
And ears like errant wings,
The devil's walking parody
On all four-footed things.

The tattered outlaw of the earth,
Of ancient crooked will;
Starve, scourge, deride me: I am dumb,
I keep my secret still.

Fools! For I also had my hour;
One far fierce hour and sweet:
There was a shout about my ears,
And palms before my feet.