Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Deeply Wierd

NRO: Eric Pfeiffer on George Felos George Felos is the smooth-talking attorney for Michael Schiavo, the one who calls those who want Terri to live "fanatics." It seems he has superpowers:
In his 2002 book Litigation as Spiritual Practice, Felos expresses his belief in the "cosmic law of cause and effect," in which the human mind is not limited by the constraints of reality. More specifically, if one wants a new car, one could make this dream car manifest "out of the ether." Felos claims to have used his mental powers to cause a plane he was passenger on to nearly crash. By simply asking himself, "I wonder what it would be like to die right now?" the plane's autopilot program mysteriously ceased to function and the plane descended into free fall. Felos then observed, "At that instant a clear, distinctly independent and slightly stern voice said to me, 'Be careful what you think. You are more powerful than you realize.' In quick succession I was startled, humbled and blessed by God's admonishment."

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

'Call to arms' on evolution?

USATODAY.com - 'Call to arms' on evolution This is eerily reminiscent of the Papal Bulls that launched the Crusades - "Take back the Holy Land from the infidels!" - and the Inqusition - "Root out the heretics!" There is no hard evidence for phylum differentiation through natural selection - it's merely assumed. There are seventeen different definitions for speciation, some of them mutually exclusive. The Cambrian Explosion is unexplained. And so on, and so on. A journal editor lost his career for publishing an article on design. Why is it doubleplusungood thoughtcrime to suggest that there is more than one way to interpret the evidence?

Bigotry against the disabled

The Harvard Crimson Online :: Bigotry and the Murder of Terri Schiavo Joe Ford is a Harvard student with severe cerebral palsy with something to say to the folks who think Terri and other severely-disabled persons would be better off dead: "You're Nazi bigots." He's got a point. ht - Powerline

Final straw

Death Penalty Tossed Over Bible Verses
The Colorado Supreme Court on Monday threw out the death penalty in a rape-and-murder case because jurors had studied Bible verses such as "eye for eye, tooth for tooth" during deliberations.
Judicial activism gone just one step too far. On top of everything else that has happened recently, this just cracks the camel's back. I am no theocrat - I've long argued that no theocracy led by men (or women) can succeed, because we mortal humans are very fallible - and I have grave misgivings of how the death penalty is applied in this country. But for a judge to vacate a jury's decision because a juror referred to the Bible during deliberations ... it seems to me that the Founding Fathers' vision of a tripartite government of, by, and for the people* has been somehow perverted. *and yes, I know that phrase is Lincoln, not Jefferson/Adams.

Monday, March 28, 2005

Fight like a girl

BLACKFIVE: After Action Report - Raven 42 Ambushed! An amazing account of our female soldiers under fire in Iraq. 7 US MPs and medics on convoy duty take on - and take out - two dozen heavily armed insurgents. The bad guys had videotaped their preparations for the ambush, and had handcuffs with them, presumably to use to take captives for ransom or worse, more internet snuff flicks. Fight like a girl, indeed.

Friday, March 25, 2005

The price of freedom - one woman's cruel death

Ed Morrisey at Captain's Quarters has a very good post, with good follow-on commentary, on the Terri Schiavo case. I haven't written much here about it for a lot of reasons, most related to the fact that nobody reads this blog and I wanted to be part of the conversation. But here's my take, for the record. Michael Schiavo should have divorced Terri, annulled the marriage, and gone on with his life when it became apparent to him that she would never recover. The fact that he didn't makes the issue smell real fishy. There have been a lot of ugly allegations about his possible motives. Judge Greer should have permitted more evidence, and required Terri to be independently evaluated. He should resign from hte bench so he can be free to explain himself. Supposedly he's a conservative Christian. I cannot fathom why he has made the decisions he has made. It may be that there are some legal means for Governor Bush to take Terri into custody. I doubt it. I am persuaded that if there were, he would have used them by now. Congress in its extraordinary Palm Sunday session should have passed a law REQUIRING the tube be replaced. They left Whitemore and Greer an out. It's no surprise that they took it. She's not brain dead, and she wasn't on life support. She was severely disabled and needed to be fed through a tube. Killing her by dehydration and starvation is beyond cruel and unusual punishment. Sometimes the cost of freedom - of being a nation ruled by laws - is very high. Very high indeed.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Monday, March 21, 2005

Gatekeepers, ghettoes, design, and self-organizing systems

Kevin over at Short Attention Span is wrestling with the idea that Christian bloggers exist in a kind of "Christian blogger ghetto" created by a dearth of links from A-list bloggers.
What makes me believe that La Shawn is right that the A-list is functioning as a gatekeeper --deliberately or not-- is that there seems to be a discernable gatekeeper effect. An effect has a cause.
Most of the time, that's correct. Most effects have causes. But not all. Some things "just happen that way." Systems do self-organize, and can exhibit seemingly intentional behavior that actually derives from unintentional effects of simple initial conditions.

At the risk of a heresey charge, this is a weak area in the argument for Intelligent Design. I really like Stephen Barr's "Modern Physics and Ancient Faith", but he builds a case for the sphere being an elegant, symmetrical object without discussing a very basic fact: Of any three-dimensional shape, the sphere has the smallest surface area for the enclosed volume. That's not a design feature, it's just the way the math works out.

A drop of water, a bubble, a planet, a star - they're all spheres because that shape is mathematically the smallest package.

Now, then. We certainly could have a discussion as to why it should be that the smallest, most efficient shape for a given amount of matter should just happen to have all these kinds of symmetries. That might closely related to a discussion of why i has a value of nearly 1, when its factors are on the order of plus and minus 10^6. (According to Barr, i controls the relationship fo the strong and weak nuclear forces. If i were much different than 1, the universe would either be all hydrogen or all helium - other elements could not exist.)

"Why should things be the way they are instead of some other way" is a question for deep thinkers and insomniac sophomores, but it's a different question than "Why are things the way they are?"

As parents know very well, sometimes the answer to that question is, "Because that's just the way it is."

Friday, March 18, 2005

Don't Kick It

Peggy Noonan warns the Republican leadership of the consequences of failing to act in the Terri Schiavo case. She may well be right. And that frightens me deeply.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Echo chambers

Short Attention Span: Ghettoes and gatekeepers Kevin is wrestling with an interesting issue. LaShawn and Joe Carter are kicking it around as well. Not quite sure what to make of it yet.

From the sublime to the ridiculous

Star Wars Fan Film Awards -- Only on AtomFilms

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Too Easy

Yesterday I chanched to be listening to Michael Medved's radio show. His guest, an atheist, made a couple of rather absurd claims. In trying to draw a distinction between "rational" science and "irrational" religious belief he claimed that falsifiability was the major test of whether a claim was rational or not. Scientific claims are falsifiable, he said. Religious claims are not.

Sorry, Charlie, but that's simply not so. "Dark matter exists" is a scientific claim that is not falsifiable. You can't prove that invisible matter doesn't exist. (Isn't that what skeptics claim about God?)

Christianity, however, IS easily falsifiable. Habeus corpus Christi. Produce the body of Christ, and the game is over. Find an authentic first-century ossuary, containing the bones of a Semitic man in his mid-30s who had been crucified, preferably with scratches on the left side of the ribcage that correspond to a Roman spear and scratches on the back side that correspond to a flagellum, but intact leg bones. The ossuary should be inscribed "Jesus, son of Joseph and Mary."

It would also be useful to produce solid evidence that the Resurrection accounts are fiction - say, the deathbed confession of the conspirators - just to put the final nail in the coffin.

So I guess that makes Christianity more rational than science, eh?

Michael's guest also said that at the summer camp he runs for atheist kids, they have a pair of invisible unicorns. He has a standing offer of $100 in play money to anyone who can prove that the unicorns do not exist. That's almost too easy. Round up everyone at the camp, and threaten to kill them unless the adults admit that the unicorns are not real. No rational person dies for a lie they know is a lie.

Monday, March 14, 2005

Like something out of a novel

Yahoo! News - Japanese tugboat attacked, crew kidnapped in Malacca Strait Confession - I read brain-candy technothrillers. You know, Tom Clancy (when he was good), Dean Coonts, Clive Cussler ... brain candy. Heavily-armed pirates taking over a natural gas tanker in the Malacca Straight sounds like a Tom Clancy or Clive Cussler plot device. But then, so was the idea of flying a jetliner into a government building. Apparently this attack failed. This attack.

Friday, March 11, 2005

Iranians stage sit-in to force EU action

EUobserver.com: Sit-in ends peacefully:
Meanwhile, a 13-hour sit-in on board a Lufthansa plane at the Brussels airport by a group of 56 unarmed European citizens of Iranian origin ended peacefully on Friday morning (11 March). Armin Atshgar, one of the protesters, said according to wire reports, that the group wanted Islamic leaders removed from power in Iran. He asked to speak to members of the European Parliament before leaving the plane. Mr Atshgar is a member of Anjomane Padeshahi, a group that wants to restore Iran's royal family removed during the Islamic Revolution in 1979.
I'm really surprised that this story has not been mentioned by Hewitt, Morrissey, or the Powerline gents. I'd've expected them to at least mention it!

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Saturday, March 05, 2005

Censorship?

Captain's Quarters is all over a recent interview with an official of the Federal Elections Commission that suugests that the FEC could stifle political blogging by calling it "in-kind" contributions. The Powerline guys aren't so sure. Me, I fall back on a statement many years ago, made by a wise old friend, Ben (no, not that Ben). Ben said, "The Internet was designed to enable communications during and after a nuclear war. It treats censorship as battle damage - and routes around it."

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Normal Rockstar

Normal Rockstar add this to Bloglines feed.... ht - Der Commisar