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Friday, July 22, 2005

Quotes of the Day
"Yes, our engagement in Iraq has increased the risk that we will be attacked but that fact in no way instructs us to get out of Iraq or the Middle East. On the contrary it makes it more urgent than ever that we win there... The right way to tackle that view is not to indulge it, sympathise with it or nurse it, but to correct it. The right way to deal with anti-American and anti-British sentiment in the Muslim world is not to pull out our troops from Iraq and beg forgiveness, but to continue to fight there on behalf of the majority of good Muslims for the kind of country they need and deserve" -- London Times columnist Gerard Baker (www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,19269-1703621,00.html).

"The killers always allege particular gripes -- Australian troops in Iraq, Christian proselytizing, Hindu intolerance, occupation of the West Bank, theft of Arab petroleum, the Jews, attacks on the Taliban, the 15th-century reconquest of Spain, and, of course, the Crusades. But in most cases -- from Mohamed Atta, who crashed into the World Trade Center, to Ahmed Sheik, the former London School of Economics student who planned the beheading of Daniel Pearl, to Magdy Mahmoud Mustafa el-Nashar, the suspected American-educated bomb-maker in London -- the common bond is not poverty, a lack of education or legitimate grievance. Instead it is blind hatred instilled by militant Islam" -- historian Victor Davis Hanson, writing in the Washington Times (www.washtimes.com/commentary/20050721-093747-1994r.htm).

The Patriotic Catholic Church of Canada?
Throughout those first years of state-sponsored persecution, Bishop Kung had steadfastly held his ground as a Church leader faithful to the Vatican, and his followers, known as “The Legion of Mary,” continued to hold public activities in spite of threats, intimidation, arrests and imprisonments. By 1955 the communist government had come to the end of its patience with Bishop Kung, and on the night of September 8th security police bathed his residence in spotlights and climbed the walls. They arrested Bishop Kung, handcuffed him and led him away to prison.

Months later, Bishop Kung found himself standing on the stage of that stadium in Shanghai surrounded by thousands who had been forced to attend and witness the Bishop’s public confession of his “crimes.” But when they pushed Bishop Kung to the front of the stage the heroic priest, ignoring the armed guards surrounding him, shouted into the microphone, “Long live Christ the King! Long live the pope!”

The crowd burst into shouts of “Long live Christ the King! Long live Bishop Kung!”

Four years later Bishop Kung was sentenced to life in prison for “counter-revolutionary crimes and treason,” and spent the next twenty-five years in solitary confinement. Throughout his imprisonment Bishop Kung refused to confess to any of the charges brought against him, saying only that he was “in prison simply for being a Bishop of the Catholic Church.” Secretly elevated to cardinal by Pope John Paul II in 1979, Cardinal Kung died in exile in March of 2000 at the age of 98.
A former professor at the Royal Military College, Ferguson sees “legislation to regulate the practice of religion” as the solution to the problem. Why not? The government regulates many other aspects of Canadian lives, doesn’t it? So, then, as Ferguson postulates, why can’t Canadians “insist that human rights, employment, and consumer legislation apply to [religious institutions] as it does other organizations?”

In Ferguson’s brave new world, adherents to any state-approved religion will be registered (an “RRP” or “registered religious practitioner” as Ferguson calls them) and will have to conform to a “new code.” Though he declined to spell out all the specifics of this code, Ferguson offered a few items that, he claims, should be obvious to us all: “It should be unethical for any RRP to claim that theirs was the one true religion and believers in anything else or nothing were doomed to fire and brimstone. One might also expect prohibition of ritual circumcisions, bans on preaching hate or violence, the regulation of faith healers, protocols for missionary work, etc."
For all his academic bluster, Ferguson apparently doesn’t know that he’s a Johnny-come-lately to the concept of a state-run department for regulating religions. Communist China already beat him to it. They call it the National Religious Affairs Bureau, and for the last half century it has been the instrument for repression, persecution and almost unimaginable human rights violations against Roman Catholics and other adherents to “non-authorized" religions in that country.

That sad fact was apparently not considered when Ferguson was formulating his ideas. But then high-minded intellectuals don’t often allow for the fact that their enlightened proposals may have already failed miserably elsewhere. Why let facts get in the way? Why would Ferguson even consider that state regulation of religion could lead to brutal repression?

A 21st-century threat; 19th century laws
Due to some combination of good luck and possible incompetence, Londoners were spared serious casualties in yesterday's apparent bus and train bombings. This is not something to take much comfort in. As the second attack in as many weeks, it means the Israelization of the war on terror may now be upon Britain and, sooner or later perhaps, Europe and America, too.

By "Israelization," we refer to the steady stream of bus, cafe, grocery, mall and street bombings to which Israeli civilians have been wantonly subjected these past several years. Unlike the September 11 attacks in the U.S. or last year's Madrid bombings, none of these have been terrorist "spectaculars," in the sense that they required extensive preparation and resulted in three- or four-figure death tolls.

Even so, the effects of Palestinian-style terror are in many ways more devastating. No place feels safe; ordinary living becomes vastly more difficult; security costs to government and businesses are massive. And the killing adds up: In a country as small as Israel, nearly everyone had a personal connection to one of the 1,000 Israelis murdered in terrorist attacks over the past five years.

Yet "Israelization" also means the methods Israelis have refined over the years to contain the terrorist threat. Throughout the course of the intifada, these methods came in for high-minded criticism as being violations of civil and international law. But as Australian Prime Minister John Howard observed at a press conference in London yesterday with British counterpart Tony Blair, many of the laws currently on the books in the West amount to "19th-century legal responses" to a 21st-century threat.

Chief among Israel's innovations--since adopted by the Bush Administration--has been to treat terrorism as something different from criminal behavior, and to respond to it as something more than a law-enforcement problem. In some instances, this has led to actions that make civil libertarians uneasy, particularly the round-up and imprisonment of hundreds of Palestinians deemed security risks, although this has been key to reducing the number of terror attacks by more than 90%.

A Cheesy Way To Lure Voters
In Philadelphia they're calling it "The Cheese Caper." A Deputy City Commissioner asked the District Attorney's office to investigate who passed out flyers on primary election day -- May 17 -- promising free cheese to voters for particular candidates. The flyers are topped by a handwritten scrawl, "Come Out + Vote," adding below, "For Who Ever." In type, they say "Free Cheese." The flyers list two candidates, both Democrats, running in an area dominated by the 300-plus-unit Hill Creek housing project. "This guy comes to the polls, votes, and asks us for his free cheese," says Eileen Kleindienst, a Republican judge of elections. Geraldine Hacker, the Republican official who sent Kleindienst's complaint to the DA, thought the food might be from a government nutrition program.

The woman who wrote the flyers, Hill Creek tenant council President Gerri Robinson, doesn't think she did anything wrong. "The people around here, you can't get them to come out and do nothing unless you're giving them something," she says. Besides, she adds, the flyers worked: The two cases of cottage cheese were gone by day's end.
Sounds like an admission of guilt. This is clearly illegal.

Link via Drudge.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Pi Approximation Day
It's 22/7 tomorrow. if you're British or Canadian.

This is almost as geeky as the Mole Day they celebrate at that inferior Catholic High School in Delaware. Seriously, if you have a son, why would you send them anywhere but Salesianum?

Pi Approximation Day link via The Corner.

...by himself has more balls than the entire Democratic Party.
Can I remind you that the murder of 88 Australians in Bali took place before the operation in Iraq.

And I remind you that the 11th of September occurred before the operation in Iraq.

Can I also remind you that the very first occasion that bin Laden specifically referred to Australia was in the context of Australia's involvement in liberating the people of East Timor. Are people by implication suggesting we shouldn't have done that?

When a group claimed responsibility on the website for the attacks on the 7th of July, they talked about British policy not just in Iraq, but in Afghanistan. Are people suggesting we shouldn't be in Afghanistan?

When Sergio de Mello was murdered in Iraq -- a brave man, a distinguished international diplomat, a person immensely respected for his work in the United Nations -- when al Qaeda gloated about that, they referred specifically to the role that de Mello had carried out in East Timor because he was the United Nations administrator in East Timor.

Now I don't know the mind of the terrorists. By definition, you can't put yourself in the mind of a successful suicide bomber. I can only look at objective facts, and the objective facts are as I've cited. The objective evidence is that Australia was a terrorist target long before the operation in Iraq. And indeed, all the evidence, as distinct from the suppositions, suggests to me that this is about hatred of a way of life, this is about the perverted use of principles of the great world religion that, at its root, preaches peace and cooperation. And I think we lose sight of the challenge we have if we allow ourselves to see these attacks in the context of particular circumstances rather than the abuse through a perverted ideology of people and their murder.
(From a rough transcript of remarks in London today after the second bombing attempt.)

TO: Al Qaeda
FROM: London
RE: Bombings
Ever heard of a guy named Churchill? We've been bombed before...worse than this...by a better man than you...and guess what, you filthy losers? We're still here. Good luck in Hell.

Thomas Sowell: Calculated confusion
Judges who impose their own preferences, instead of following the law as it is written, have long been known as "judicial activists" while those who carry out the law, instead of rewriting it to suit themselves, have been said to be following the "original intent" of the law.

But now a massive effort to muddy the waters has been launched by those who want judges who will continue to impose the liberal agenda from the bench. Words like "activists" and "intent" are being twisted beyond recognition.

Senator Patrick Leahy has redefined "activist" judges to make the least activist Justices on the Supreme Court -- Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas -- suddenly activists by his new definition.

John Howard - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
I'm liking this Howard guy. (Note: this wikipedia entry seems to be writen from a fairly liberal perspective.) Looks like he cut government spending, reduced tax burdens, and has a strong anti-terrorist policy. He gets it.

Screw Arnold. We need to amend the Constitution so this guy can be our President. As K-Lo writes on The Corner:
John Howard, still at this press conference with Blair, is rocking and rolling answering those who would blame Blair, Bush, and himself for the terrorist incidents--that we became targets because of Iraq. No, we went into Iraq because of bad guys who want us--and other freedom lovers dead. And guess what, they do really want us dead!
And more:
"Once a country allows its foreign policy to be dictated by terrorism, it's given the game away."

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Hubbub on the blogs -Editorials/Op-Ed - The Washington Times, America's Newspaper
Interesting commentary on the Plame to-do.
Now, that may be enough to get Washington all a bubble as of July 2005, but I would suggest that within a few years it will be as thoroughly forgotten as the question, "Who hired Craig Livingstone?" I say this as someone who tirelessly pressed that very question and who can no longer remember exactly why. It arose in relation to one of the lesser scandals of the Clinton era. When it first came to mind, I thought it might have been in connection with Travelgate, but on further reflection, I recall that it had to do with FBI files.
I didn't remember Craig Livingstone either. Iwent through the same process he did, but never got to the FBI files.

"What Africa needs, foreign aid cannot deliver, and that's elimination of dictators and socialist regimes, establishment of political and economic freedom, rule of law and respect for individual rights. Until that happens, despite billions of dollars of foreign aid, Africa will remain a basket case." --Walter Williams

"The next time someone demands a timetable for the war in Iraq, ask them to name just one war -- anywhere -- that had such a thing." --Thomas Sowell

"At the end of the day, the best remedy for high gasoline prices is...high gasoline prices, which provide all the incentives necessary for motorists to conserve, for oil companies to put more product into the marketplace, and for investors to look into alternatives fuel technologies. Government has never demonstrated an ability to do better." --Peter Van Doren

"By foisting their fantasies of themselves on the country, [Joe Wilson and Valerie Plame] have instigated a massive criminal investigation, the result of which is: The only person who has demonstrably lied and possibly broken the law is Joseph Wilson. So the obvious solution is to fire Karl Rove." --Ann Coulter

"There have always been people without judgment but this is the first era in which being non-judgmental is considered good -- though how anything can be considered good if you are non-judgmental is another puzzle." --Thomas Sowell

Jay Leno.... Hillary Clinton gave a speech in Aspen, Colorado and accused President Bush of damaging the economy by catering to the rich. Why was Hillary in Aspen, Colorado? Because she was catering to the rich.

Thomas Sowell: Dogma versus reality: Part II
A recent e-mail from a dedicated teacher illustrates a problem that has received far too little attention.

In her kindergarten class was a little black girl who did well except for getting a very obvious question wrong. It turned out that the little girl had no problem with the concepts or the facts but had misinterpreted a word because it sounded like another word that she had heard used at home, where a "black English" dialect was spoken.

Since the teacher was white, she knew that she was running a risk by getting into this issue. Opening this can of worms could result in anything from being called a "racist" to an ugly confrontation at school or in court.

Nevertheless, the teacher told the girl's mother that, unless her daughter learned standard English, her education could suffer and her intelligence might be so under-estimated that she could be falsely labeled subnormal.

It was near the end of the term so there was no time to see what effect, if any, the teacher's words might have had.

Some time later, however, the mother and the teacher happened to encounter each other in a department store and discussed what had happened since their discussion.

Sure enough, the same problems had caused the little girl to do badly on tests in her next class. Fortunately, the girl's mother now remembered the teacher's warning and began to get workbooks and to watch how people spoke around the little girl at home.

On the next tests, the girl made straight A's.

Think about it: This straight-A student could have ended up a failure and perhaps even considered retarded, if her teacher had not gone out on a limb to let her mother know what was wrong. Years of letting the problem go uncorrected could have taken a toll on her prospects for a lifetime.
For black students, getting them away from "black English" is likewise key to improving their education and all the opportunities in later life that will depend on education. Unfortunately, there are too many people with a vested interest in promoting "black English" and other fads that are part of the multicultural ideology.

What makes this a farce, as well as a tragedy, is that what is called "black English" is a dialect that originated among white people in parts of Britain centuries ago. That dialect was transferred across the Atlantic when people in those parts of Britain settled in the American South.

Walter E. Williams: Slavery reparations
Most black Americans are neither poor nor in prison. So if poverty and incarceration are directly tied to slavery, Mr. Hayes might explain how so many blacks somehow escaped this "legacy of slavery." For those blacks in poverty or incarcerated, what's Mr. Hayes' message to them? Is it to wait for CEOs to fork over some reparations change and apologize for slavery? If that's the message, then those blacks who are poor are going to remain so, and those who are lawless will continue to experience high incarceration rates.

I think a better message for avoiding long-term poverty and high incarceration rates is: Graduate from high school. Get married before you have children and stay married. Work at any kind of job, even one that starts out paying the minimum wage. Finally, do not engage in criminal behavior.
This part is just beautiful:
Rev. Wayne Perryman, a conservative minister of Mount Calvary Christian Center Church of God in Christ in Seattle, Wash., has filed a lawsuit against the Democratic Party. His lawsuit, filed in United States District Court in Seattle, charges "that because of their racist past practices the Democratic Party should be required to pay African Americans Reparations." Rev. Perryman's brief, citing abundant historical evidence, charges that the past racist policies and practices that were initiated against blacks by the Democratic Party -- were no different than the policies and practices that were initiated by the Nazi Party against the Jews.

Catholic World News : Vatican condemns vaccines using fetal tissues
See the story for a list of vaccines developed from aborted children.

CNN.com - London mayor: West fueled terror - Jul 20, 2005
London Mayor Ken Livingstone has said that Western "double standards" in the Middle East have contributed to the growth of Islamic extremism and terrorist groups such as al Qaeda.
In the words of a truly great philosopher: “What a maroon! Ha ha ha! What an ignoranimus!” (More quotes from this font of wisdom.)

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Sex Differences in Mathematical Aptitude
Pretty interesting article, although much of the math was over my head. (Even when I studying math, I was never that great at statistics.)

Link via The Corner.

To the People of California on the Realities of Physician-Assisted Suicide
A good explanation of the problems with assisted suicide. Aside from the blatant immorality of suicide itself, there's the point that "What is optional soon becomes mandatory." Once the freedom to participate in a killing is granted doctors and family members, soon they will make the decisions for the patients to free up "recources" for other patients.

Doctor-Assisted suicide will inevitably lead to doctors killing their patients.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Unfolding the Mystery
As [the Apostles] carried the Mystery through the world, they periodically got mysterious guidance from the Holy Spirit (Himself rather mysterious): Go here, do this, talk to this guy; don't go there, this guy's lying, you can trust her, this teaching is false, etc. Now and then, somebody would ask what the Apostles meant when they said stuff like, "You are not under law, but under grace." And frequently, the Apostles, when they came right down to it, weren't sure. So, for instance, some people took the idea of "not being under law" to mean you could pretty much do anything. Others pointed to Jesus saying that He "did not come to abolish the law" to mean that any man who wanted to be Christian had to be circumcised according to the law. Interestingly, the Church didn't have a snappy answer for these conflicting schools of thought. Why? Because the early Christians had to find out what they themselves meant. They weren't sure. So they met in council and trusted the Holy Spirit to make it clear. And He did (Acts 15).

This is not to say they were babbling incoherently. It is to say that the Church then, like today, is the custodian of a Mystery it doesn't fully comprehend. It spends history unpacking truths revealed to it and allows those truths to put down roots and throw out unexpected branches.

"There is not a single instance in history in which civil liberty was lost, and religious liberty preserved entire. If therefore we yield up our temporal property, we at the same time deliver the conscience into bondage." --John Witherspoon

"If we take the generally accepted definition of bravery as a quality which knows not fear, I have never seen a brave man. All men are frightened. The more intelligent they are, the more they are frightened. The courageous man is the man who forces himself, in spite of his fear, to carry on." --General George Patton

"Political correctness started out as an externally applied pressure placed by academic elites on regular people not to say certain things that were judged improper. But it has become a more dangerous phenomenon now. Government, law enforcement, military officials and many regular citizens are beginning to internalize the politically correct mentality. If government officials, the media and increasing elements of the public actually begin to believe that there is no relationship between Islam as currently practiced by some percentage of the Muslim population and the mortal threat of terrorism -- then it will be hard if not impossible to mount an effective defense. The first lesson of war is to know thy enemy. While we should never put people in that category who don't fit, it is suicidal to refuse to acknowledge the accurate nature of the enemy." --Tony Blankley

"Sometimes it seems [the news media] are less interested in legitimate news than they are in proving their knowledge and wisdom is superior than ours. The most frustrating thing is when I have the facts to prove them wrong but cannot reveal those facts without endangering security or wrecking some plan we're engaged in." --Ronald Reagan

"Do you know where your Social Security taxes are? Some of them went to pay for the National Cowgirl Hall of Fame and Museum in Fort Worth, Texas. The same monies helped the State Historical Society of Iowa in Des Moines pay for the development of exhibits for the World Food Prize. And we should all be happy that some of our Social Security surplus funded a study of mariachi music for the Clark County (Nevada) School District. As we know by now, Social Security is facing many problems that will require long-term, comprehensive reform. But before a doctor operates on a patient, the first step is to stop the bleeding. And the first step toward Social Security reform should be to stop Congress from spending Social Security money on anything except workers' retirement." --Michael Tanner

Appeasement fails with warlocks too
An interesting article discussing the policital activity of the Harry Potter books as it compares to 1930s England.

My Weekend of Books
I decided to be a complete bookworm this weekend and read three books.

First on the list, to the surprise of at least one of my friends was Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. I really enjoyed it. I think after the extreme length of The Order of the Phoenix, she felt the need to cut some of the filler this time. (I enjoyed Order of the Phoenix, but thought there was a lot of stuff that didn't need to be in the book.) I won't comment too much on the plot, since there's a lot of people who haven't finished it yet, but it does set up Book 7 (which is supposed to be the final chapter) very well and I can't wait for it. Too bad it will be 2 years or so until it comes out. There are some interesting character developments as well: one person's allegiance is confirmed once and for all, another is made out to be a better person than he had been portrayed. Definitely a good read, and I'm looking forward to book 7.

I also read Freaknomics. I enjoyed this as it presented a lot of topics in a way they wouldn't ordinarily be presented. For example, he argues that: Parents don't give children much beyond their genes and wealth. School choice doesn't matter. Abortion cuts murder rates. I think one problem I have with this analysis is that does just deal with "on average." On average, parenting style may make no difference. But if you have two sets of rich parents, one of who raises their children properly, while the other raises spoiled brats who won't succeed because no one wants to work with them, "on average" they made no difference. Still an interesting read. (And the abortion argument fails, because it only reduces the crime rate, if you don't consider abortion a crime, which it is.)

Finally, although it was the second book I read, is "On Bullshit". Not that great a read. It was more a discussion of a proper definition of the term, why people use
it and why tolerate it. It was more to get an academic conversation started about the topic, rather than to fully explain it. It was short, so it wasn't a complete disappointment, but I'm not a huge fan.

So, my next book will be Black Rednecks And White Liberals
by Thomas Sowell, which argues that rather than racist America, it is actually "bluck culture" which holds down blacks. Interestingly, he argues this culture was inherited from southern whites. While the southern whites have moved beyond this culture, it's taken hold in black America and is lionized as the authentic black culture, which since it's white in its origins not only false, but a harmful myth since it prevents them from improving their lot in life. Should be an interesting read.

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