Monday, October 31, 2005

Happy Reformation Day

Many, many years ago, Martin Luther started the Reformation on this day.

The Reformation was primarily over two things, no matter what you hear on TV.

1) Authority. Sola Scriptura. The Scriptures themselves are the final and ultimate authority for the Church and for Christians. Popes, councils and all of us err. The Word of God does not fail.

2) Justification by Faith Alone. In other words, the gospel. Are you trusting in how good you are or on what Jesus has done? Why would that be important? Listen to Paul from Galatians:
You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified. I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law, or by believing what you heard? Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort?
All who rely on observing the law are under a curse, for it is written: "Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law."

Happy Halloween

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Scientists Notice a Pattern (i.e., Design) to Catch Fraud Science
Michael Borowitz, at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, Maryland, says: "The shapes of the major clusters are often similar but in any system there is noise, and those noisy dots are in the same place too. That's hard to explain by biology. It is very difficult for me to believe that these were independent experiments." Borowitz is an expert in interpreting flow cytometry graphs, which he regularly uses to identity abnormal populations of cells in the blood and bone marrow of leukaemia patients.

Three other experts contacted, including Paul Robinson, a professor of immunopharmacology and biomedical engineering and Director of the Flow Cytometry Labs at Purdue University in West Lafayette, say that the graphs appear concerningly alike.

Robinson emphasises that it is impossible to prove that the data underlying the supposedly different graphs is the same without seeing the raw data from which they were generated. But he and four members of his lab have conducted a simple experiment to gauge the likelihood that data taken from different mice would produce such similar graphs.

They ran a computer model that produced graphs from two sets of 93,000 cells and reduced the resolution to below that of Van Parijs’ published figures. Their conclusion, detailed in a brief report seen by New Scientist, is that even graphs produced from samples taken from the same animal are unlikely to look the same, and that outlying data points are unlikely to appear in the same positions by random chance.

Guess What the New York Times Left Out?

Hat tip to Tigerhawk.
Yesterday's New York Times on-line edition carried the story of the 2000 Iraq US military death[s]. It grabbed my attention as the picture they used with the headline was that of my nephew, Cpl Jeffrey B. Starr, USMC.

Unfortunately they did not tell Jeffrey's story. Jeffrey believed in what he was doing. He [was] willing put his life on the line for this cause. Just before he left for his third tour of duty in Iraq I asked him what he thought about going back the third time. He said: "If we (Americans) don't do this (free the Iraqi people from tyranny) who will? No one else can."

Several months after Jeffrey was killed his laptop computer was returned to his parents who found a letter in it that was addressed to his girlfriend and was intended to be found only if he did not return alive. It is a most poignant letter and filled with personal feelings he had for his girlfriend. But of importance to the rest of us was his expression of how he felt about putting his life at risk for this cause. He said it with grace and maturity.

He wrote: "Obviously if you are reading this then I have died in Iraq. I kind of predicted this, that is why I'm writing this in November. A third time just seemed like I'm pushing my chances. I don't regret going, everybody dies but few get to do it for something as important as freedom. It may seem confusing why we are in Iraq, it's not to me. I'm here helping these people, so that they can live the way we live. Not have to worry about tyrants or vicious dictators. To do what they want with their lives. To me that is why I died. Others have died for my freedom, now this is my mark."

What Jeffrey said is important. Americans need to understand that most of those who are or have been there understand what's going on. It would honor Jeffrey's memory if you would publish the rest of his story.

Ceding the Iraq Debate
The administration long ago gave up making the factual case to support the centrality of Iraq in the war on terroristm. Steve details the fruits of his own efforts as a frustrated researcher trying to get at the underlying story that Joseph Wilson and his media friends have done so much to obscure:

There are other documents from Iraq that would help the American public understand the nature of the former Iraqi regime and why a serious war on terror required its removal. Iraqi Intelligence Service (IIS) documents currently stored in a warehouse in Doha, Qatar, as part of the Defense Intelligence Agency's document exploitation project are a case in point. Many of these documents, listed in a database known as HARMONY, have rather provocative titles:

Money Transfers from Iraq to Afghanistan

Secret Meeting with Taliban Group Member and Iraqi Government (Nov. 2000)

Iraqi Effort to Cooperate with Saudi Opposition Groups and Individuals

Order from Saddam to present $25,000 to Palestinian Suicide Bombers' Families

IIS Reports from Embassy in Paris: Plan to Influence French Stance in UN Security Council

IIS Report on How French Campaigns are Financed

Improvised Explosive Devices Plan

Ricin research and improvement

There are thousands of similar documents. Many have already been authenticated and most are unclassified. That's worth repeating: Most are unclassified.

Of course, nothing is more important than winning on the ground in Iraq. Demonstrating that we are killing terrorists and making steady progress on the political front will do much to blunt the criticism of the war. But if the White House refuses to challenge its critics, and refuses to explain in detail why Iraq is the central front in the war on terror, and refuses to discuss the flawed intelligence on Iraqi WMD, and refuses to use its tremendous power to remind Americans that Saddam Hussein was, in fact, a threat, then it risks losing the support of those Americans who continue to believe that the Iraq war, despite all of its many costs in blood and money, was worth it.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Michelob Pumpkin Beer Actually Good

Thursday, October 27, 2005

USA Today Makes Condi Rice Look Weird

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

If You Debat Christopher Hitchens About the Iraq War, Make Sure You Didn't Take Money From Hussein

I hope I'm never the target of that man's pen. He writes and speaks way too well.

Robert Kagan Reports on NY Times Reporting of WMDs Prior to Bush

It is a fun liberal passtime to rely on short-term memory and say things like "Bush lied, people died." This sort of blows that away by reminding people that there was an international consensus about Iraq prior to Bush ever setting foot in the White House. But remembering anything prior to April 2003 is usually detremental to such sloganeering.
There is a big problem with this simple narrative. It is that the Times, along with The Post and other news organizations, ran many alarming stories about Iraq's weapons programs before the election of George W. Bush. A quick search through the Times archives before 2001 produces such headlines as "Iraq Has Network of Outside Help on Arms, Experts Say"(November 1998), "U.S. Says Iraq Aided Production of Chemical Weapons in Sudan"(August 1998), "Iraq Suspected of Secret Germ War Effort" (February 2000), "Signs of Iraqi Arms Buildup Bedevil U.S. Administration" (February 2000), "Flight Tests Show Iraq Has Resumed a Missile Program" (July 2000). (A somewhat shorter list can be compiled from The Post's archives, including a September 1998 headline: "Iraqi Work Toward A-Bomb Reported.") The Times stories were written by Barbara Crossette, Tim Weiner and Steven Lee Myers; Miller shared a byline on one.

Car That Makes Its Own Fuel
A unique system that can produce Hydrogen inside a car using common metals such as magnesium and aluminum and running on water has been developed by an Israeli company.

The system reportedly solves the obstacles associated with the manufacturing, transporting and storing of hydrogen to be used in cars. When it becomes commercial in a few years time, the system will be incorporated into cars that will cost about the same as existing conventional cars to run, will be completely emission-free, and will travel about the same distance between refueling as an equivalent conventional car.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Of Martha Stewart and Karl Rove

So it currently looks like Karl Rove will be indicted for obstruction but not for the underlying crime. Same thing that happened to Martha Stewart (big lib btw).

How does that work? You obstructed about something that didn't happen?

Conservatives Are Judicial Activists Too!

Some liberals have decided to forego interacting on the level of judicial theory, so simply saying that conservatives support judicial activism too will have to suffice as a dialogue.

Here is one attempt at debunking such arguments.

U.N. Procurement Scandal Has Links to Al Queda

How far down the corruption rabbit hole will the U.N. go?

Saturday, October 22, 2005

One Good Leak Deserves Another: the War Between the CIA and the Bush Administration
FOR FOUR YEARS, A slow-motion war between the CIA and the Bush administration has been unfolding over America's airwaves and on its front pages. A principal weapon in this war has been the deliberate leaking of information to the media.

When the history of this damaging episode is written, two leaks will stand out as having been most consequential. One of them is famous: the alleged leak to columnist Robert Novak that led to the compromising of CIA operative Valerie Plame.

But there was another big leak that no one seems to care about: the leak of the CIA's referral to the Justice Department concerning the Plame matter. That second disclosure, perhaps even more than the initial leak, set off the chain of events that resulted in the naming of a special prosecutor and finds us now anticipating indictments of senior White House officials.

Some additional relevant details: The CIA referral to the Justice Department was classified, an intelligence source tells The Weekly Standard. Anyone who disclosed the existence of the referral and described its contents broke the law. The agency, however, has thus far refused to send a referral to the Justice Department that could result in an investigation into the source and effects of that leak. Why? An intelligence source tells The Weekly Standard that there are limits--of time and manpower--to how many such referrals the CIA can make. Perhaps. But there's another possible explanation: The second leak came from the CIA itself, and lawyers there are reluctant to call for an investigation for fear of what such an investigation would reveal.

James White Begins Series on the Da Vinci Code

It's coming. The Da Vinci Code movie. At the heart of the Da Vinci code is a bunch of ahistorical claims that derive from some practical joke from a Frenchman. At least the secular program on digital cable program said so.

While many people have readily believed this stuff, it presents a good opportunity to illuminate the truth of the Christian claims and the reliability of the ancient record.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Tom Delay Messes Up the Main Reason for the Indictment

The mug shot.

Given the fact that the first indictment was for something that wasn't a crime in the year 2002, I would surmise that getting the mugshot for campaign ads was the main reason for going after Delay. That and having him step down from leadership.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

A Great Proposal for Fiscal Sanity

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Cullman, Alabama Holds a Dry Oktoberfest

My work held a dry "Octoberfest" once. Different strokes for different folks, but I can't help to feel ripped off when you put those two words together.

Personally, I would like to hear what Martin Luther would say about celebrating German heritage without drinking alcohol.

Rocky VI is in the Works

I remember watching Rocky V with my friend, Jess. What a bad film that one was.

A sequel? Did Rocky V make any money?

Verification on Comments

Giving further proof that humanity isn't inherently good, I have added verification to the comments section. This is to prevent comments from automated programs trying to sell stuff. No big deal, but I remember when the Internet was free and open.

When email was good. When you could post to a newsgroup with a real email address.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Psychologist Uses Two-Edged Sword Against Intelligent Design
Rather, they're a reflection of a basic, widespread human tendency: to accept what you absolutely must, but whenever possible, continue to retain your core beliefs, whether true or not and regardless of how much mental gymnastics such retention demands.

I suspect that a Brahean Blunder lies at the core of the widespread refusal (at least in the United States) to accept an evolutionary origin for the human species, even among people who acknowledge the reality of natural selection.

Thus, current promoters of "intelligent design" generally accept the power and primacy of natural selection to generate small-scale evolutionary change. (The evolution of antibiotic resistance among bacteria, for example, is beyond dispute.) But when it comes to their fundamental belief system, advocates of intelligent design, like Brahe, have checked their intellects at the door, clinging desperately to the illusion that human beings are so special that only a benevolent god could have produced them. Therefore, the material world - like Brahe's sun and its five planets - must revolve around them.

The author, David P. Barash, is correct about one thing. Humans have an amazing capacity for self-deception. But guess what? That works for everybody. Yes, it can be a useful tool to show how some people can get answers wrong. But it could just as easily be the the anti-ID folks who are self-deceived.

Let me give an example: Some scientists have recognized that the universe is incredibly fine-tuned to allow for life. That strongly implies a designer. They don't want that. So they postulate multiple universes.


Someone doesn't want to live a life which they will be accountable for the wrongs things they have done. So they are predisposed to materialist philosophy.


A certain psychologist wants to be taken seriously by his peers so he is predisposed against Intelligent Design.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Good Comment on Ed Wade, the Phillies, and Their Previous Small Budget
Wade's defenders halfheartedly give him a pass because the team was under-financed for much of his term, as if every other team started with a full set of Monopoly money and he was stuck with five singles and the thimble. Other teams had similar restrictions and did better. The Expos/Nationals did better, comparatively, with much less for much longer. The Athletics did better. The Marlins did better. It's not a short list.

A pretty good general manager named Branch Rickey once said, "Luck is the residue of design." Write that down. Put it at the top of the bulletin board. Have a plan. Make it better than the other guy's plan.

Messianic Jews and Deception

So a bunch of people constantly say that Jews for Jesus or other Jewish groups that believe in Jesus are deceptive.

Why? Because you can't be Jewish and believe in Jesus.

But don't they believe Jesus is the Jewish Messiah? Yes.

So they think that Jesus is the Messiah. Why is this deceptive?

"Because" would be the best answer.

They disagree with you. Rightly or wrongly, they believe Jesus is the Messiah.

Disagreement isn't deception. Why would someone think otherwise?

Some believe that Jewishness and believing in Jesus are contradictions. So much so, they can't even contemplate that someone disagreeing. It would be like someone disagreeing with gravity. It blows their minds.

Now, in the book of Acts people wondered how Gentiles could believe in Jesus without becoming Jews. Things have now been flipped on their heads.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Anarchists Call Cops For Help

Tigerhawk Picks Apart Bill Frist's SEC Returns

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Another Smurfs Article

Friend at work: maybe Jokey Smurf let a joke go too far.

USA Today Critiques Katrina Coverage

Hat tip to PowerLine.

You Know You Are A Nerd When...

You know you are a nerd, when a book about how war was conducted between Athens and Sparta sounds interesting to you.

Monday, October 10, 2005

UNICEF Carpet Bombs Smurfs to Raise Support/Awareness

I freaking kid you not.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Atlanta Braves Bounced From Playoffs

The first sign that fall is beginning.

Scientists Speculate That Stem Cells Are a Cause of Cancer

Kudos to the Philadelphia Inquirer for publishing this on the front page. Obviously, the public needs to be informed that stem cells are not a magic bullet and hard work and research remains.

James Woods, Nichole Kidman, Rene Zellweger, Halle Berry, Brad Pit, Hugo Chavez and Fidel Castro

A lot of good stuff in today's Philadelphia Inquirer, but absolutely one of the more interesting tidbits was in the entertainment column of their Parade magazine. Some guy answers questions. A lot of it is "where are they now" or "what's filming when" kind of questions. And then there was this question, published today:
Q: I'm interested in where Fidel Castro gets the dough to shore up his bankrupt regime. Can you illuminate?

Great question. Why the heck haven't I seen this in the Philadelphia Inquirer in the more serious sections before? But whatever, I'll take it in the Sunday not-too-serious magazine section of the paper.
A: In the wake of the collapse of the USSR, which bankrolled him to the tune of $4 billion a year, Castro has turned to Hugo Chavez, Marxist president of Venezuela, the world's fith-largest oil-exporter. In addition to shoring up Castro, he's funding revolutionaries and terrorists throughout Latin America.


Seriously. Good job to Walter Scott. When everybody was bad-mouthing Pat Robertson, how many stories did you read that mentioned this fact? While I still don't think Robertson as a minister should have said what he said, don't you think this would have helped put things in perspective for readers?

I hope they aren't going easy on Chavez because of their dislike of Robertson. To be fair, I learned about Hugo Chavez through the blogosphere. It wasn't like they were writing a bunch of stories giving people detailed information on Chavez prior to Robertson's comments.

The Flying Spaghetti Monster and Not Understanding Intelligent Design

So some guy came up with an admitadly pretty funny response to the Kansas School Board over Intelligent Design. He says he believes in a Flying Spaghetti Monster. Could he please teach that.

Now, funny enough.

But as mentioned in this blog and elsewhere, Intelligent Design is about figuring out whether or not there is design. Not about identifying the designer.

So when people treat this Spaghetti Monster as a witty retort to ID, I'm more amused by how they don't understand the claims of the ID movement.

Materialism and the Law of Non-Contradiction

Someone wrote me the following today regarding morality and relativism:
There is no "objective sense" in anything outside of a mathematical/scientific context. Anything outside of those bounderies is simply an opinion or set of opinions on "rightness" or "wrongness". I defy you to prove otherwise.

My reply about his comment... Are you making this assertion in a scientific or mathematical context?

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Studying the Bible Over Beer

Victory HopDevil gets a mention.

Great idea. But the Lutherans already knew this.

Suffering and the Sovreignity of God

This conference is being blogged. Wish I was there.

Hat tip to John Rabe.

Keep Not Doing What You Are Not Doing

U.N. Atomic agency wins the Nobel Peace Prize. This is like giving Pootie Tang best picture at the Oscars.

Jimmy Carter got his peace prize for his work with North Korea, if memory serves correctly, which North Korea completely abused and went nuclear.

I think the award should be given to those who actually promote peace, not those who just mean well.

Friday, October 07, 2005

We Don't Want More Refineries, But We Want to Complain About High Gas Prices

So the Democrats in Congress are protesting loosening up restrictions against more refineries. But high gas prices are Bush's fault. And we don't want nuclear power plants near us either.

Abortions for some, tiny little flags for everybody.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Sam Adams Creates Beer to Celebrate Boston's 375th Year

Python Explodes After Eating Alligator

Eyes were bigger than its stomach I suppose.

Absolutely no Absolutes

George E. Keck of Skippack decided to write the Philadelphia Inquirer about the relationship of faith and science, upholding the view that they are ships passing in the night.

First: While they are answering different questions, they do relate to each other. If you find the body of Jesus for example and positively ID it using science, please don't patronize me by telling me. Just tell me I'm wrong.

That's a common view, but let's get to the eggregiously bad part of his letter.
"Either/or" absolute language leads nowhere. "Both/and" language leads to new insights.

So Mr. Keck believes the first statement to be absolutely true that there are no absolutes. And he believes that either you use "both/and" language or we won't be able to get to new insights.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Nicholas Cage Names His Baby 'Kal-El'

That is the Kryptonian name for Superman. His father being Jor-El of course.

I guess Tim Burton really did want to play Superman in the movies.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Bill Bennett Uses a Logical Analogy--Getting Himself Into Trouble

Probably the worst thing you can do in this country is use a logical analogy. Most people can't follow logic. It's a sad commentary.

Example: Person X says that whatever is consentual between two adults shouldn't is moral when they are arguing the moral merits of homosexual sex. Person Y points out that that would mean incest between two conscenting adults would be OK too. Person X says "don't equate the two. That's insulting."

I WASN'T SAYING THEY WERE THE SAME. Your argument is faulty.

So what did Bill Bennett say:
Conservative commentator William Bennett yesterday defended comments he made on his radio talk show suggesting that aborting black children would reduce crime, saying he was merely musing about a hypothetical argument and he made plain to listeners that he was not stating his own position.

Which sounds bad, until you actually place it into context.
The combative Bennett, whose syndicated radio show airs on the Salem Radio Network, offered no apologies. He explained that his comments came in response to a caller who suggested that Social Security would be in better financial shape if abortion were illegal, leaving more people to pay into the system. Bennett cautioned against making such far-reaching arguments and drove home his point by offering what he called "a noxious hypothetical analogy" to reducing crime by aborting black children.

So at least this reporter understands logic. And I would suspect the Democrats do as well. They either don't understand logic, reacted to a quote out of context, or are race-bating demogogues.

Bennett was knocking down an argument from a pro-lifer by using the reductio ad absurdum logical falacy to the same pro-lifer.

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