Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Repeat this story 70,000 times, then do it again

A life sacrificed to let her daughter survive - Asia Tsunami - Then a second series of waves came a few minutes later. The Balachandras fought to make it to one of the few houses still standing but were separated. Trying to save the aunt and grandmother, Bernard was washed into the branches of a tree, where he survived despite being struck by debris. Asha and her mother tried to make it to one of the few houses still standing but, realising they would both drown if they clung together, Magdalene let her daughter go on to save herself. Asha recalled: "She said to me, 'No, Asha, I'm falling. You go ahead first, you lead.' She didn't want to hold on to me. This story alone is a tragedy. Multiply by 70,000, if you can. Seventy. Thousand. I'm not sure that I can. I work at a place that has about a hundred employees. A medium-sized business. I know most of my coworkers by sight, if not by name, and I recognize most of the names. Now I try to imagine seven hundred of those. I've been to a few big-league college football games, a couple of pro games, some rock concerts, a couple of Promise Keepers events. 70,000 is a LOT of people. UPDATE: That was a few days ago. The toll is DOUBLE that now. Words simply fail...

The Birth of Jesus

The Birth of Jesus Mark D Roberts' series on The Nativity. Bookmarked for later reading.

There's no pleasing some people

Yahoo! News - Aid Grows Amid Remarks About President's Absence $35 million in aid, with more - much more - to follow. (Compare to the EU's $4 mil.) An aircraft carrier. A division of troops. Hundreds of thousands of individuals donating through Amazon, to World Vision, the Red Cross/Red Crescent, etc. And still the Bush-bashers and America-haters find a way to criticise us. This is really tiresome. If we pulled all the troops out of Iraq and sent them to help, canceled all the military programs and sent the money to SEA, lassoed a couple of icebergs and towed them to the coasts of Sri Lanka and Sumatra, people would still call it insufficient. Exactly what is the President going to accomplish by going on TV and saying the obvious - that this is an unprecendented humanitarian disaster and America's response will be likewise unprecedented? But you know what? It doesn't matter. America - and Americans - will jump in to help. We always have, we always will.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Iranian bloggers tortured

BuzzMachine... by Jeff Jarvis Free the Persian Pajamahdeen! Paging Amnesty International... This is not to make light of a terrible situation, mind you.

"Suddenly we saw the ocean was disappearing"

'We Didn't Understand, We Were Just Paralyzed' ( Giske, a Norwegian real estate investor, and his Thai wife had been enjoying the holidays in a villa they own here. On Sunday, they had arranged for a sailboat ride with two other families and were down at Patong Beach, waiting for the vessel to arrive, when everything changed. "Suddenly, we saw the ocean was disappearing," Giske said. In the span of about 15 seconds, the water reaching as far out as 2,000 yards simply vanished. It was about 10 in the morning on one of the busiest days of the year. The sea was packed with families. The undertow was so powerful that anyone in the water was instantly sucked out, witnesses said. Then came a strange period of calm, the ocean gone, fish flopping on the abandoned seabed. Some people wandered out for a look. "Suddenly, we saw this big wave coming," Giske said. "It took all the yachts and swept them in. We didn't understand, we were just paralyzed."

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Geraghty takes on Jarvis


A conversation on keeping Christ in Christmas

BuzzMachine... by Jeff Jarvis Is Christianity under attack in America? I think it's obvious that it is. Jarvis has a different take. An interesting conversation so far.

Jesus, Christmas & the Elves

Jesus, Christmas & the Elves A *holiday* classic by John Leo of USN&WR. ht: Tapscott

Monday, December 20, 2004

Spirit of Christmas Past

Yahoo! News - Ga. Town Proud of WWII Christmas Legacy In December 1944, workers building Liberty Ships at the Brunswick Shipyard in Georgia reported to work on Christmas Day to build one more ship for the war effort. Then they donated their overtime pay back to the Treasury to help pay for the war effort. Where is that spirit today?

The Man Who Saved the World

Star-Telegram | 12/17/2004 | LOST IN THE FALLOUT The man who saved the world from a nuclear holocaust in 1983 is living out his days on a meager pension on the outskirts of Moscow.

Friday, December 17, 2004

After three decades, Bill Moyers calls it a career

After three decades, Bill Moyers calls it a career I used to have respect for Moyers. Note the verb tense.

If today's media had covered the Battle of the Bulge

The Quagmire in Europe An uncle of mine was a paratrooper during the Bulge. He also jumped at Normandy. Purple Heart with four oak leaf clusters. FWIW, in the comments section of at Trasnterrestrial Musings I referred to "A History of the English Language" by me and Ben Tucker. Here's the link.

James snobs Aldi

James Lileks doesn't like the discount grocery store, Aldi. His riff on it is pretty funny - the "brand" names are very alternate-universey. "Grandessa" for example - it's on the ice cream, the tomato sauce, etc. That doesn't mean that the quality of the products is poor, however. My kids love Aldi's sandwich bread and cinnamon rolls. Their "frozen chicken things" - Kiev, Cordon Bleu, etc. you know what I mean? - are just as tasty as the ones costing 50% more at Cub (or here in Cleveland , Giant Eagle or Tops). They have a really good muesli-type cereal, and their diet cola is drinkable, unlike the Wal-mart diet coke knockoff. (Sam's Choice Raisin Bran is the best on the planet, however.) Milk and butter are commodities - why pay more than you have to? I don't like their take on "Wheat Thins," but the kids like them, and their version of "Cheeze-its" is indistinguishable from the brand name box. Renting the carts for a quarter and selling the (sturdy and reusable) bags must help keep costs down. Think about what a place like Cub in our old stomping ground of SLP paid to keep carts back in the store - at least two stockboys making at least minimum wage, plus the depreciation on the radio-controlled "mule" they use. It's gotta add up to thousands of dollars per year. Cut that out of the budget, and you can reduce prices across the board. They also don't take checks or credit cards, which probably saves a huge amount in bank fees and write-offs. Aldi doesn't just use the savings to pass on low prices. They also pay their employees well - the ads say starting pay is $12/hr. It's annoying that they never seem to have enough checkout lanes open, but you can manage that by timing your trips to avoid the crowd.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Vox Bloguli VI - MSM versus IXThYS

Commisar Hewitt issued a call for comment on the recent Newsweek article on the birth of Christ and the more-than-able rebuttal by Mark D. Roberts and others, with the question, "What does Newsweek's story on Christmas tell us about MSM?". I've not had time to read the assignment, I'll admit. (I was practicing for the Christmas Eve service at church - can I get a pass, Professor?) But from what I have seen, it's not hard to form an opinion. If it changes after reading the original articles and the subsequent blog entries, I'll update this post. Not that I think it likely. Most of historical and much of modern "mainstream" Christianity is bound up in ritual. Ritual is a cultural thing - quaint, colorful folklore, the stuff of National Geographic and Discovery Channel specials. It is non-threatening. As long as Christianity is merely cultural and doesn't try to get personal, it's okay. But there's a new and dangerous kind of Christian around - Evangelicals. They elected the horrible Bushitler. And the key thing about these Evangelicals is that they ACTUALLY BELIEVE the stories in the Bible. They are growing in number. So it is imperative for those who control the nation's media to 1. try to get some of the new converts to question their new-found "faith" and 2. demonstrate to the "reality-based community" that these Evangelicals who are so certain they have a lock on Truth have really based their worldview on a lie. We all know that truth is relative - there IS no such thing as "absolute truth" - and the Newsweek article confirms this. Comfort ye, my people. /sarcasm, for the terminally clueless

On Lileks and books

James Lileks was in Chicago this weekend, ego-browsing bookstores to see how his new book is selling. He turns them face-out because, "People’s eyes skate over spines, but they linger over covers. For a second, at least." I understand his desire to make his book more noticable. If I ever get around to writing The Great American Coffee-Table Tome, I'd want it to sell, too. The problem is that the cover of THIS particular book will make your eyeballs explode from their sockets. Imagine the ugly scene in a crowded Chicago bookstore: A group of folks are gathered mournfully around the deep-discount table, looking sadly at the unsold stacks of obsolete anti-Bush screeds while throngs of harried holiday shoppers elbow their way past. Suddenly there's a loud, wet, "POP! POP!" and a pair of bleeding, melted optic spheres zip through the crowd, nailing an embittered blue-stater and his wife square in the temple. Down they go. Hard. "POP! POP!" again and a lady slumps over her stroller, double-tapped between the eyes. Screams. A mad rush for the exits. An old lady goes down in the crush, wailing piteously. James, you're a nice guy, but endangering the public in order to line your own pockets is simply reprehensible.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

A discussion on the census in Luke 2

"We have conclusive evidence that an empire-wide (in decree, not necessarily execution, of course) registration occurred in the time frame described by Luke! Martin [CKC:89-90] summarizes the literary, archeological, and iconographic evidence for this: " A sixth reason for placing the nativity of Jesus in 3 or 2 B.C. isthe coincidence of this date with the New Testament account that Jesus was born at the time when a Roman census was being conducted: "There went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the IRoman] world should be registered" (Luke 2:1). Historians have not been able to find any empire-wide census or registration in the years 7-5 B.C., but there is a reference to such a registration of all the Roman people not long before 5 February 2 B.C. written by Caesar Augustus himself: "While I was administering my thirteenth consulship [2 B.C.] the senate and the equestrian order and the entire Roman people gave me the title Father of my Country" (Res Gestae 35, italics added). This award was given to Augustus on 5 February 2 B.C., therefore the registration of citizen approval must have taken place in 3 B.C. "

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Pearl Harbor - and the aftermath

Grim Economic Realities On another site I was shooting the breeze with some folks, speculating what would have happened had the attack at Pearl Harbor been a total military success. (They missed the carriers, most of the repair yards, and the oil facilities). A good fellow named "dc" pointed me to this article. Wow.

Friday, December 03, 2004

She's Having a Fetus

the evangelical outpost: She's Having a Fetus Superb satire. I don't think the phrase, "That's a valid choice" was penned by Orwell, but it might have been. It's Newspeak at its best.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

The Groningen Protocol

It sounds like the title of a Robert Ludlum spy thriller. Fedora'd characters lurking in shadowed corners, blind drops and microdots, a retired Stazi officer making an unlikely alliance with an embittered, embattled CIA agent racing against time to save the world - and his girl. A terrific read, a lovely bit of disposable fiction. Would that it were. The Groningen Protocol is all too real. It is the process by which a committee of doctors at the Groningen Academic Hospital in The Netherlands decides to kill sick babies. Not turn off the life-support machines. Not stop treatment. Not decide not to use heroic measures, and provide palliative care until nature takes its course. Kill, as in inject with lethal drugs. The same as you'd do with a cat or dog. Put down. Euthanize. Put out of their misery. Kill. And unlike abortion, this is not the parent making the decision to kill the child. A panel of doctors decides. The parents wishes may be considered, but the decision is made by "medical professionals." The same ones, presumably, that once took an oath to "first, do no harm" and to "administer no deadly medicine." Hugh Hewitt wonders why much of the blogosphere has been silent on this issue to date. Perhaps, like me, other bloggers have simply been too shocked to have much to say. Those who have spoken have done so very elequently, and as a result, I don't have much to add. Perhaps I will later. Most likely. Pastor and theologian Dr. Mark D. Roberts has assembled a useful and insightful set of resources. UPDATE: A tie-in I have yet to see is the connection between the Groningen Protocol and Susan Smith. You remember her, right? She's the young mother - excuse me, that should be "young woman" - who murdered - excuse me, that should be "exercised her reproductive rights" her young children - excuse me, that should be, "products-of-conception" - by strapping them into their car seats and pushing the car into a pond - excuse me, that should be, "creatively utilizing the methods available to her". The reason she did that, she said at her trial, was that the young boys had become an inconvient drag on her social calendar. IOW, they adversely impacted her quality of life and mental health. I still don't understand why "reproductive rights" advocates are not agitating for her release. I'm certain that supporters and apologists for the Groningen Protocol will come to her aid. She's quite a heroine to the cause of individual freedom, wouldn't you say? Certainly not the cold-blooded child murderer she's been portrayed as. /swiftian sarcastic irony, for the clueless