Thursday, September 29, 2005

Societies Worse Off When They Aren't Religious?

So to sum up the article: Europe has less problems in some areas even though Europe is less religious as a whole.

Two things:

1) Just because you are religious doesn't mean you have the life-changing Spirit of God in your heart. Going to church doesn't necessarily mean you are a Christian. Does sitting in your garage make you a car?

2) Did they control for other factors besides religious belief? Income? Drug use? Fatherless households?

And, to be fair, let's look at societies which aren't very religious through history. I'll give you Nazi Germany, the Soviet Union, and Moa's China.

Judge Orders Abu Ghraib Photos Released

So who should we be more upset at. The Judge who doesn't care about risking American lives or the ACLU for pushing the issue showing they don't care about American lives either.

This is where checks and balances should come in. Hey Judge, don't care what you say. Pound sand.

Journalists Support Al Queda Co-Worker

Take one guess which news organization he worked for.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

This Post Has No Design Behind It

As people in court claim there is no merit to Intelligent Design, I would like to inform my readers that since we cannot determine whether or not there is intelligence behind anything, you cannot determine that I am actually writing this. This could actually be random bits on a computer which just happen to be intelligble information.

I would like to thank ID opponents for making me aware of this. We can't even debate design, so don't bother leaving any comments. Unless of course your comments are randomly generated.

I wonder if they actually understand the inherent contradiction in their position. My guess is they do not.

Michelle Malkin Breaks Down the Delay Thing and Powerline Links to an Article on Corruption Surrounding Chuck Schumer

The DA in Texas may have a history of political prosecutions against Texas Republicans, at least according to my cursory read. So unless I see evidence that suggest otherwise, which may or may not exist, I won't think much of his upcoming trial.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Saudi Oil Minister States Obvious: We Need More Refineries

And regulation is the problem.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Christopher Hitchens Dresses Down the Radical Anti-War Left

Always appreciated because of his wit and left-of-center perspective.
To be against war and militarism, in the tradition of Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht, is one thing. But to have a record of consistent support for war and militarism, from the Red Army in Eastern Europe to the Serbian ethnic cleansers and the Taliban, is quite another. It is really a disgrace that the liberal press refers to such enemies of liberalism as "antiwar" when in reality they are straight-out pro-war, but on the other side. Was there a single placard saying, "No to Jihad"? Of course not. Or a single placard saying, "Yes to Kurdish self-determination" or "We support Afghan women's struggle"? Don't make me laugh. And this in a week when Afghans went back to the polls, and when Iraqis were preparing to do so, under a hail of fire from those who blow up mosques and U.N. buildings, behead aid workers and journalists, proclaim fatwahs against the wrong kind of Muslim, and utter hysterical diatribes against Jews and Hindus.

The Confusion of Intelligent Design Opponents

Chris Mooney, author of the Republican War on Science, was on WIP Sunday morning, when they don't discuss sports for two hours for some reason. I'm guessing to fulfill public service requirements for their FCC license.

I called in and had a good conversation with Mr. Mooney. My basic jist was this: as we've seen from Anthony Flew's move away from atheism due to ID and a number of atheist scientists who have been postulating multiple universes in order to get around the need for design and a Designer, do you think science is too closely tied to atheistic materialism?

Well, this led to a good back and forth. Mr. Mooney tried to argue that science couldn't prove the supernatural (I agree that science can't do that directly), so ID was out-of-bounds from the outset. To which, I drove home the point that there is a difference between using science to determine design and the implications of the answer of that question.

If science can't determine if design is present, they may as well shut down SETI.

Once I finally got this point across to Mr. Mooney, he attempted to say the evidence for design was weak. To which I asked, "so weak that Anthony Flew moved away from atheism?" "What's one conversion?" was the reply.

Good point. The truth or falsity of the ID position doesn't rest on what Mr. Flew says. However, my point that the ID movement is not completely bunk stands. Esp. when you consider all those multiple universe-types not liking how fine-tuned our universe is to allow for life.

The call was then ended.

So in the course of five minutes, I moved Mr. Mooney from saying that Intelligent Design was outside the realm of science to him trying to say something about the merits of design. I guess we can do that afterall.

My main point?

So many scientists with an atheistic worldview don't like the implications of being able to determine design? Let's have the debate and allow science to inform the debate. Frankly, I don't care what implications you like or don't like.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

As Long As You Live Under My Roof, You Will Play Under My Monopoly Rules

Al Queda Is In Trouble in Iraq

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Christopher Hitchens vs. George Gallaway Debate About Iraq

This has probably been done to death in the blogosphere. Tigerhawk (link on the left) gave the first blog summary of the event.

I saw a little bit of it on Book TV.

Christopher Hitchens made an incredible point. The socialist in the West are leaving the socialist in Iraq high and dry.

They also say they are against fascism. But they seem to support the Islamic fascists in Iraq.

Multi-Lateralist Bush vs. Unilateralist Kerry

Initial success for Bush in Korea.

And for all those who wondered why we didn't attack wasn't about oil. The difference was China.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

South Jersey's Home of the Panzarotti, Franco's, Needs to Move Due to Eminent Domain

Yes, this is due to the horrible Kelo decision. They are giving the land to another private developer. This one decision woke up a lot of liberals to the nature of judicial activism. So much for being for the little guy.

I would go with my dad to pick up panzorottis. This is a bit of my childhood. Now, I don't mind change. But forced governmental change which violates someone's rights grates on me.

For the record, the panzarotti is a pizza turnover which is deep-fried. Healthy? Heck no. Tasty? You bet.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Global Warming on Mars

I've been thinking for a long time that they need to figure out how much of global warming on Earth is due to the variable output of the Sun. Based on a April 14, 2003 Philadelphia Inquirer article, I've had the impression that they haven't been taking the Sun fully into account.

I may very much be wrong. But I would like this to be clarified by the scientists in the know.

Philadelphia Inquirer Highlights Victory Brewing of Downingtown, PA

It is my personal belief that Victory is easily one of the best breweries on the East Coast and is one of the best breweries in North America. No, I'm not exaggerating.

New York Times Article on Trappist Beers

Local brewery Weyerbacher is mentioned for their Quad.
Though they adhere to traditional styles, Trappist breweries today are largely modern affairs, where the workers are often professionals hired by the abbeys. They have computerized equipment and well-designed Web sites. But the devotion remains to making ales as complex and distinctive as any in the world today, and, as the Dining section's tasting panel discovered, their beers set a lofty standard.

The term Trappist describes the source of these ales rather than a particular brewing style. In fact, the beers vary considerably. Some are dark as chocolate stout and some are amber-gold, bordering on orange. They can be intensely sweet or dry enough to pucker. Sometimes they can be both, reaching a full, rich, complex sweetness as you turn the ale over in your mouth, yet turning dry and refreshing as you swallow. They can all be wonderfully fragrant, with aromas of spices, flowers and fruit, and they are always strong, ranging in alcohol from about 7 percent to 12 percent, as opposed to the 5 percent of a typical lager.

Liberals Who Understand 'Judicial Activism' vs. Those Who Don't

Hat tip, John Rabe.
Thus, The New York Times prissily informed its readers: "There is a misconception that so-called activist judges who 'legislate from the bench' are invariably liberal. In fact, conservative judges can be even more eager to overrule decisions made by elected officials."

That statement has as much intellectual content as saying: "There is a misconception that so-called activist judges who 'legislate from the bench' are invariably liberal. In fact, conservative judges can be even more eager to play tennis."

The very act of redefining "judicial activism" to mean invalidating any law passed by elected officials is precisely the sort of Alice-in-Wonderland nonsense we're talking about. Liberal judges redefine the Constitution's silence on abortion to mean "abortion is a precious constitutional right." Liberal flacks in the media redefine judicial activism to mean "striking down laws."

The Times' definition isn't even coherent. If it were "judicial activism" to strike down laws — any laws, ever — there would be no point to having a Supreme Court. We could just have some idiot functionary, like Joe Wilson, rubber-stamping whatever the other parts of government do.

So the New York Times defines judicial activism as declaring a law to be unconstitutional. A conservative would define it as making stuff up based on your own predilictions.

There are smart people at the New York Times. Do they understand the issue and are misrepresenting the term? Or do they fail to understand? Maybe this is why I don't read the newspaper of record and why they had to lay off some employees.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Drew University, My Alma Mater, Is Dropping the SAT's for Admissions

Does this sound like lowering standards? It does to me. But I'll keep an open mind.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Nice San Fran Article on Wheat Beers

I had the Watermelon Wheat mentioned in the article. Quite refreshing and interesting.

And don't be afraid of fruit in your beer (at least fruit added prior to or during fermentation). That isn't girly. Unless you are insecure about your manliness.

Blogging Has Been Somewhat Sparse

I've been helping my friends from Jews for Jesus while they are in Philadelphia. It's been fun. But that leaves less time for blogging.

There have been interesting things to talk about however. I just need to make more mental notes.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Cesspool at Turtle Bay

Hat tip Powerline.
s the United Nations as bad as its critics claim? Alas, it is worse--far worse. The current oil-for-food scandal, involving the diversion of billions of dollars, is merely the tip of the iceberg. A good part of what lies below is now brought to light in this remarkable memoir by Pedro Sanjuan, that rarest of creatures, an American who served on the staff of the secretary-general for more than a decade. The U.N. Gang (Doubleday, 208 pages, $24.95) is not merely a tell-all expose; it is a vivid portrait of a peculiarly dysfunctional culture--with an uncomfortably specific recital of names, facts, and figures.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Has Cal Thomas Written the Truest Paragraph in the History of Editorials?
The last place I want to be is at the dentist; until I witnessed 18 senators (21 if you count those who "introduced" John Roberts at his Supreme Court confirmation hearing) posture for the cameras and special interest groups. The dentist is looking better. At least he has painkillers. There is nothing to dull the pain of pontificating senators.

Messianic Congregation in Israel Facing Persecution From Orthodox Jewish Community

Pray for them. Pray they can bless those who curse them and hate them. Also consider sending money.

Cindy Sheehan Has Jumped the Shark

Calls for pulling troops out of New Orleans.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Red Cross Not Sure How It Spent 1/3 of Its Katrina Money Yet

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

An Argument Against Originalism?

Alright, as far as I can tell, the argument is that if the authors couldn't envision every application of what they wrote, originalism doesn't hold.

This is baaad reasoning.

Originalism means the following: words should be interpreted according to grammar and history and the intention of the author. In other words, words have meanings.

Speaking of Rush Limbaugh

I was a caller to Rush Limbaugh's show today. I commented on Senator Leahy's interaction with Judge Roberts. He said how he was the deciding vote on pulling funding for Vietnam in 1975.

As frequent readers know, that doesn't sit well with me. Not so much that they took the position at the time. But that they are still proud of it.

Monday, September 12, 2005

European Anti-Americanism Is Messed Up
Nearly one third of Germans under 30 say that the U.S. government ordered the 9/11 attacks. In France, a book insisting that Americans carried out the assault themselves to increase defense budgets becomes a huge bestseller. In Britain, major newspapers carry headlines like "The USA is Now the World's Leading Rogue State."

Asked which countries are the biggest threat to world peace, Europeans name the U.S as often as North Korea and Iran (each are picked by 53 percent). Countries characterized by Euros as less menacing than the U.S. include Syria, Iraq, Russia, China, Afghanistan, Libya. As one American living in Britain, Anglican minister Dwight Longenecker, summarizes: "Our cultural ancestors have become unrecognizable, even hostile, to us."

Unlike some forms of bigotry, anti-Americanism is most virulent among Europe's elites. Everyday Germans and Brits and Italians tend to be more appreciative of American culture, economic achievement, and government than their political lords. But ordinary
Europeans have relatively little influence on the direction of their societies. The thing about European governance most striking to American eyes today is its comparatively undemocratic nature. In much of the continent, elections mean little, unaccountable bureaucracies and elites commandeer the most important decisions, the same people hang onto power endlessly, and policies that would not survive the test of popular opinion are simply instituted by administrative fiat. To cite just one example, direct election of mayors has been blocked in many localities, with national authorities insisting on appointing local leaders themselves.

The article also mentions how Europe hasn't kept its promises to Afghanistan.

And then there was this:
Look upon the suicide clinic in Switzerland that administers a glass of schnapps and then a peaceful death by injection. Note the German laws that, first, legalized prostitution two years ago, and then started requiring laid-off waitresses and secretaries to entertain job offers from the sex industry or face the loss ofunemployment benefits. Realize that 31 percent of pediatricians in the Netherlands have euthanized an infant, and that a fifth of these took place without the knowledge or consent of parents. And suddenly one is inclined to share the observation of Britain- dweller Dwight Longenecker that “beneath it all, the growing divide between Europe and America is a divide between theism and atheism. This simple divide is cosmic in its importance, and affects simply everything.”

Ashamed to be an Episcopalean

While in Philadelphia this weekend to help my friends in Jews for Jesus, a friend and I boarded an elevator. Seeing his purple shirt, my friend said (and I paraphrase) "I can tell from your purple shirt and your collar that you are a bishop. Which church are you a part of?"

He was really unwilling to tell us. After a little pressing, he said "a controversial one."



He told us he is more on our side, and we encouraged him to stay true to the Truth.

It is an interesting day when the Anglican doesn't want to share his affiliation to two guys with Jews for Jesus paraphanalia.

FEMA Response Faster Than Usual

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Failure at Every Turn
Two weeks after Hurricane Katrina crashed into the Gulf Coast, there is little argument that the response was botched. But an extensive review of official actions in the days just before and after Katrina's landfall Aug. 29 reveals a depth of government hesitancy and a "not-my-job" attitude that likely cost many lives.

"Not-my-job" attitude is endemic to all bureacracies, not just government. That and a CYA mentality are quite common all over the place.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Police in Suburbs Blocked Evacuees
Police agencies to the south of New Orleans were so fearful of the crowds trying to leave the city after Hurricane Katrina that they sealed a crucial bridge over the Mississippi River and turned back hundreds of desperate evacuees, two paramedics who were in the crowd said.

The paramedics and two other witnesses said officers sometimes shot guns over the heads of fleeing people, who, instead of complying immediately with orders to leave the bridge, pleaded to be let through, the paramedics and two other witnesses said. The witnesses said they had been told by the New Orleans police to cross that same bridge because buses were waiting for them there.

FEMA vs. Kofi Annan

A caller to Rush Limbaugh's show asked a tremendous question. Why are so many up in arms calling for the resignation of the FEMA director when they care little about all the shenanegans at the U.N. under Kofi Annan?

Good question. Personally, I think they want to protect the U.N. as an institution, despite its utter corrupt nature.

Friday, September 09, 2005

One Year Ago Today The Mainstream Media Lost Its Credibility

And the blogosphere came into its own. Happy anniversary to Powerline and Little Green Footballs.

White Elephant on Turtle Bay

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Rolling Stones Having a Hard Time Getting Airplay

Why? It's hard to put them in a category.

This is why corporate radio stinks. Play lists are set millions of miles away. And given the cost of buying a radio station, I can understand not being willing to take risks.

But that's why it stinks. If the new song is good, play it.

And I don't want to hear "people aren't interested in that band anymore."

I've watched enough VH1, back when they had shows about music, to know why musical acts fall out of popularity. Their record labels don't push them anymore.

Jeffrey Gaines, when I was at his concert, made a comment that he isn't on the radio anymore because he doesn't have the money for Payola.

If you push any band enough, they will become reasonably popular.

How do people know an act exists, if it isn't pushed by a record label?

Interesting Article on Environmentalists and Levees

I heard someone from New Orleans say that anti-flood efforts along the Mississippi have taken a lot of marshlands at the bottom of the state which would protect against storm surges. Life is about tradeoffs.

I Don't Like Homeowner Associations

Look at Philly-Area Artisan Cheese Maker
There's no big secret to making cheese: Let milk curdle; separate the curds from the whey, or watery remains; salt; press; and age.

Cheese. It's been done the same way for centuries.

Making great cheese is another matter. That's a mix of science, experience, art - and more than a little obsession.

Crafting distinctive artisanal cheese was long the domain of European makers, while U.S. dairies focused on mass production of cheddar and other popular American cheeses.

But over the last two decades, a small but growing group of cheese-makers in California, Wisconsin, Vermont - and even Southeastern Pennsylvania - have set out to prove that fine U.S. cheeses, like wines, can stand up without shame next to the old-world competition.

Ask Trent Hendricks, a Montgomery County man who chucked a successful trucking business to make cheese. In just four years, he has won several national awards and has seen his products land on the menus of fine restaurants.
There are any number of decisions to be made in processing and aging that determine what kind of cheese will result. Do you wash the curds or not? Heat the curds or not? Mill the curds before pressing? Salt the curds before ripening and, if so, how much? Let the cheese ripen after dipping in wax or acquire a hard-rind? Acquire a white mold or blue?

"It still amazes me how you can take one thing and come out with such an incredibly large variety of products," Hendricks says.

The Da Vinci Code

I had the pleasure of watching a show about the Da Vinci Code on the Discovery-Times channel. From a secular perspective, he showed how the book is bunk. And the core allegation (about the blood line of Jesus) was some scam/practical joke from some Frenchmen during the 50's.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Thoughts on Beer's Decline, Craft Beer's Rise, and Perceptions Vis a Vis Wine

Not to mention one of my favorite topics, pairing beer with food.
The truth be told, the beer industry is its own worst enemy. The distinction between flavorless fizz water and real beer with layers of character seems to be lost on the public's perception of beer in general. Beer can be more sophisticated than wine, given the fact that it is made from more ingredients, but it still fights the reputation of being fuel for barroom brawls.

But that is changing. If you think out of the box, beer has the ability to run circles around wine in food pairing. With all the flavors going on within beer, there's hardly a food it doesn't complement. There are literally thousands of tastes to work with.

Wine, by comparison, plays off its acidity to contrast with food, which is much more difficult to do. Beer has low acidity, but it can use the bitterness from hops to contrast fatty foods such as cheese, where a wine must be very high in acid to do the job. And the carbonation refreshes the palate nicely with spicy foods, where wine falls flat. Mexican, Indian, Thai, Chinese, Japanese, Cajun and barbecue can have complex flavors, and craft beer is always the no-brainer choice here. And even desserts ... yes, beer has flavors that are chocolaty, roasty like espresso, or sweet with clove and bananas. It can be dessert all by itself.

Best of all, world class luxury beers are affordable at $6, where top-rated wines start around $40 and go to the moon from there.

So If you love food and have been brainwashed over the years that wine is the best accompaniment, I challenge you to a new, exciting frontier. With wine, it's like trying to paint a masterpiece with only a few paints. But beer can give you the full palette.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Drudge Unearths Late-July New Orleans Hurricane Warnings
Before residents had ever heard the words "Hurricane Katrina," the New Orleans TIMES-PICAYUNE ran a story warning residents: If you stay behind during a big storm, you'll be on your own!

Editors at TIMES-PICAYUNE on Monday called for every official at the Federal Emergency Management Agency to be fired. In an open letter to President Bush, the paper said: "Our people deserved rescuing. Many who could have been were not. That's to the government's shame."

But the TIMES-PICAYUNE published a story on July 24, 2005 stating: City, state and federal emergency officials are preparing to give a historically blunt message: "In the event of a major hurricane, you're on your own."

Staff writer Bruce Nolan reported some 7 weeks before Katrina: "In scripted appearances being recorded now, officials such as Mayor Ray Nagin, local Red Cross Executive Director Kay Wilkins and City Council President Oliver Thomas drive home the word that the city does not have the resources to move out of harm's way an estimated 134,000 people without transportation."

"In the video, made by the anti-poverty agency Total Community Action, they urge those people to make arrangements now by finding their own ways to leave the city in the event of an evacuation.

"You're responsible for your safety, and you should be responsible for the person next to you," Wilkins said in an interview. "If you have some room to get that person out of town, the Red Cross will have a space for that person outside the area. We can help you."

Ok, so that was the local plan. A good question would be 1) was it communicated to those affected? 2) was it a reasonable plan?

Labor Day Musings

Sunday, September 04, 2005

New York Times Was Against It Before They Were For It
Apparently, the New York Times was against an increase in funding for flood control.
Anyone who cares about responsible budgeting and the health of America's rivers and wetlands should pay attention to a bill now before the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works. The bill would shovel $17 billion at the Army Corps of Engineers for flood control and other water-related projects -- this at a time when President Bush is asking for major cuts in Medicaid and other important domestic programs. Among these projects is a $2.7 billion boondoggle on the Mississippi River that has twice flunked inspection by the National Academy of Sciences.

The Government Accountability Office and other watchdogs accuse the corps of routinely inflating the economic benefits of its projects. And environmentalists blame it for turning free-flowing rivers into lifeless canals and destroying millions of acres of wetlands -- usually in the name of flood control and navigation but mostly to satisfy Congress's appetite for pork.

This is a bad piece of legislation.

Season Premiere Schedule for T.V.

Powerline Asks: Has the Media Reached a New All-Time Low?
The mainstream media's handling of Hurricane Katrina and the disasters in New Orleans is a disgrace, possibly the worst instance yet of media bias. Insane claims by left-wing nuts that President Bush botched the recovery effort on purpose so as to kill black people are repeated by the MSM in a chin-stroking mode, as if to say, "It's an interesting question--they might be on to something." Meanwhile, no one points out that it was President Bush who implored Governor Blanco to issue a first-ever mandatory evacuation order for the city, an action by the President that probably saved tens of thousands of lives.

Similarly, the media yammmer on and on about the allegedly slow federal response to the hurricane, without noting that the Governor of Louisiana has the power to call out the National Guard. Accusations that lawlessness and looting in New Orleans are somehow the federal government's fault are repeated endlessly; hardly anyone bothers to criticize the looters and other criminals themselves. And where is the outrage that should be directed toward the New Orleans Police Department? They were the authorities on the scene, and they, under the direction of the city's Mayor--who had an emergency plan in place, but apparently made no attempt to implement it--had the responsibility to maintain law and order. Yet some policemen reportedly joined in the looting, while a great many others turned tail and abandoned their responsibilities.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Saturday Cat Blogging

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Common Grace and the Breakdown in New Orleans

Common Grace is the Christian doctrine that God bestoys good gifts on both believers and unbelievers. Rain and sunshine for both believers and unbelievers. A key portion of the doctrine is that God restrains the full measure of evil in a society. Louis Berkhof wrote "[Common grace] curbs the destructive power of sin, maintains in a measure the moral order of the universe, thus making an orderly life possible, distributes in varying degrees gifts and talents among men, promotes the development of science and art, and showers untold blessings upon the children of men." Police and your parents spanking you would be an example of common grace which restrains sin.

I firmly believe what you are seeing currently in New Orleans is when God withdraws some of his common grace. Some.

As Stu Bykofsky wrote in today's Philadelphia Daily News, "the frightening thing is how little has to happen before the thin veneer of civilization is pulled back to reveal the moral rot beneath."

John Rabe wrote today:
In the wake of Katrina's visit to South Florida last week, I saw little hints of lawlessness in the hours immediately following the storm. Every 30 seconds or so at major intersections where there were no signals (which by law are supposed to be treated as four-way stops), someone (usually in a pickup truck) would simply barrel through the intersection without stopping, honking and obscenely gesturing at anyone who protested. Several scam artists dressed as Florida Power and Light employees have talked their way into homes to steal items. People raced to Home Depot to beat their neighbors in the rush for generators.

All of this is minor compared to what's happening in New Orleans right now. The damage to The Big Easy from Katrina was much more serious, widespread, and long-lasting than what we experienced here. And the looting and pillaging is spreading. People are stealing diapers and food--and shoes, and cars, and television sets. And they're shooting cops.

Often we hear people proclaiming their "faith in human nature" and in "the basic goodness of mankind." So why is it that in the sudden absence of enforced law, we see society almost immediately deteriorate? Why is it--if mankind is basically good--that instead of seeing humanity rise up in a time of crisis and become better behaved, pulling together for the common good, we see it degenerate into a state of anarchy? Who among those who pay such lyrical homage to human nature, if they were to be honest with themselves, truly feels safer during a time of lawlessness when human nature is left to its own devices? Who believes at such a time that most, or even a few people altruistically have your best interests at heart?

The truth, of course, is that the notion of "the basic goodness of mankind" is a humanistic lie that has fueled many of the world's greatest atrocities, from the French Revolution to the Russian gulags to the Chinese slaughter of tens of millions to the Cambodian killing fields. We intrinsically know the real truth, that "the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked..." (Jeremiah 17:9), but we suppress it, choosing to ignore the obvious in favor of a dangerous utopian fantasy.

If, Heaven help us, the terrorists ever succeed in shutting down the power in this country for more than two days, it will become Lord of the Flies. They know it, you know it, and I know it. And it won't be because of mankind's essential goodness.

I know some of you will say "not everyone is doing this. Some are being good people." Yes, some/many are. Follow my comments for a moment and I will address this.

We fancy ourselves with our good behavior and flatter ourselves for being so good. Look how good society is. But every once in a while something like this comes along to illustrate the truth of the matter. What is the truth of the matter?

Our good behavior has much more to do with God restraining the evil in us. God is the source of our good behavior and then we say "you don't need God to be good."

God, in His wisdom, occasionally peels back the curtain on our nature. He withdraws some of His common grace. Someone once told me that God doesn't have to do anything active to get a person or people to be evil. He merely has to withhold His common grace, His Spirit, His ministers the police. When you drop a ball, it falls. To get the ball to fall, you don't need to do anything but simply let go. Likewise, God just needs to "let go" and you will be sinning up a storm before I could blink.

So, yes. God hasn't so completely withdrawn His grace that everyone is acting like a thug. But please don't be so foolish as to think this is a sign that people are inherently good or neutral. Or as Mr. Bykofsky said "I don't believe this is genetic, because that would mean there's a class of people born to be criminals. More likely it's opportunistic behavior that's learned from friends, family, and peers."

No, it is genetic. And it is common to us all. He is correct. I am no better that those looters. There, but by the grace of God, go I. We are much closer to Hitler than we are to Christ.

When we see what is happening in New Orleans our mouths should be shut and we should stand in awe. We should ask for mercy and plead forgiveness.

In Defense of Price Gauging

I highly recommend reading this.
To review a little bit of basic economics as we like to do from time to time: prices are not (as many popularly imagine them) tools by which the producers of goods and services exploit and "stick it to the little guy." They are a way of allocating resources. Prices reflect the demand for a particular product relative to the supply (or perceived supply) of it.

Currently, gas prices are rising quickly. Why? Because the demand is the same as it has always been (or perhaps even rising), but the supply has been reduced. Even more importantly, people perceive that there is a gas shortage, which makes them want to get it as quickly as they can. Though higher gas prices don't thrill me either, they serve a purpose in this situation. If people are going to buy gasoline now, they have to do some prioritizing. They have to decide if they want to spend their $3 on a gallon of gas, or if at that price it would be better spent on something else. These are the decisions the market is designed to force in order to keep resources available to those who want them most.

When prices are not allowed to rise to naturally reflect the market, people (recognizing a bargain when they see one) will begin to hoard things because they don't have to make those choices. The artificially cheap price suddenly looks so good that people will even buy extra "just in case."

Consider Donating to World Vision for Hurricane Relief

Is God Less Glorious Because He Ordained That Evil Be?

While we all think about this when bad things happen, we always ask, and understandably so, why did God allow all these things to happen?

The reasoning, obviously, will be beyond us. We do have some general answers from Scripture, but we don't have divine knowledge about specific situations.
But when a person settles it Biblically, intellectually and emotionally, that God has ultimate control of all things, including evil, and that this is gracious and precious beyond words, then a marvelous stability and depth come into that person's life and they develop a "God-entranced world view." When a person believes, with the Heidelberg Catechism (Question 27), that "The almighty and everywhere present power of God . . . upholds heaven and earth, with all creatures, and so governs them that herbs and grass, rain and drought, fruitful and barren years, meat and drink, health and sickness, riches and poverty, yea, all things, come not by chance, but by his fatherly hand" – when a person believes and cherishes that truth, they have the key to a God-entranced world view.

Has the iPod Ruined Being a Rock Snob

Hat tip, Blinq.
In some ways, then, the iPod revolution is a Rock Snob's dream. Now, nearly all rock music is easily and almost instantly attainable, either via our friends' computers or through online file-sharing networks. "Music swapping" on a mass scale allows my music collection to grow larger and faster than I'd ever imagined. And I can now summon any rare track from the online ether.


But there's a dark side to the iPod era. Snobbery subsists on exclusivity. And the ownership of a huge and eclectic music collection has become ordinary. Thanks to the iPod, and digital music generally, anyone can milk various friends, acquaintances, and the Internet to quickly build a glorious 10,000-song collection. Adding insult to injury, this process often comes directly at the Rock Snob's expense. We are suddenly plagued by musical parasites. For instance, a friend of middling taste recently leeched 700 songs from my computer. He offered his own library in return, but it wasn't much. Never mind my vague sense that he should pay me some money. In Rock Snob terms, I was a Boston Brahmin and he was a Beverly Hillbilly--one who certainly hadn't earned that highly obscure album of AC/DC songs performed as tender acoustic ballads but was sure to go bragging to all his friends about it. Even worse was the girlfriend to whom I gave an iPod. She promptly plugged it into my computer and was soon holding in her hand a duplicate version of my 5,000-song library--a library that had taken some 20 years, thousands of dollars, and about as many hours to accumulate. She'd downloaded it all within five minutes. And, a few months later, she was gone, taking my intimate musical DNA with her.

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