Thursday, November 30, 2006

Grace Kelly Robinson Back Home and Doing Much Better

Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving, and perform your vows to the Most High. (Psalm 50:14)

Thanks to everyone who prayed. Gracie is feeling much better and is home. We're still taking care of her and keeping our eye out for any warning signs.

But so far so good.

Belgian Brewery Creates German-Belgian Hybrid

A doppelbock made with a Belgian twist. I love it when breweries experiment.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Al Mohler on the Pope's Visit to Turkey
What should the Pope say in Turkey? Again, this is a very hard question for an evangelical Christian to answer. In the first place, this raises once again the issue of the papacy. The evangelical rejection of the papacy is not just a rejection of historic papal abuses. To the contrary, evangelicals oppose the papacy as an institution. It is an unbiblical office that, even in its current form, seeks to claim both a spiritual and a temporal authority. Both are rejected by evangelical Christians. The Pope is received in Turkey as a head of state. The papacy's response to the furor over the Regensburg remarks was typical of the practices of state diplomacy. By the time the Vatican was finished clarifying (without apologizing) the message was not clear at all.

Put simply, the Pope's visit to Turkey--along with the media attention and hype--is further evidence that the mixing of temporal and spiritual authority will not work. A minister of Christ should speak clearly about the Gospel and about the reality of Islam. The central Christian concern about Islam should not be the undeniable threat of Islamic violence but the fact that Islam is incompatible with the Gospel of Christ. Islam explicitly denies what Christians centrally affirm--that Jesus Christ is the incarnate Son of God who came to save his people from their sins. Thus, the most significant challenge posed by Islam is not geopolitical (though this is real) but spiritual. I do not expect Benedict XVI to say this in Turkey.

Would he state this case in private? Probably so, but the Vatican is also responsible for confusing that issue. In the aftermath of Vatican II and documents such as Lumen Gentium, it is no longer clear that Roman Catholicism would call for the urgent evangelization of Muslims. When the Vatican speaks constantly of respect for other religions, it does so without being very clear about what this respect means. Does Benedict XVI see Islam as another legitimate way to approach God? A way that explicitly denies the deity of Christ and the centrality of the cross? I would not expect much clarity on this question while the Pope is in Turkey. Indeed, I do not expect much clarity on this issue while the Pope is in the Vatican.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Grace Kelly Robinson

So we got a beautiful chocolate lab puppy. Unfortunately it is in the animal hospital with severe pneumonia.

My wife and I are very attached to the girl, so prayers are greatly appreciated.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Insurgents Being Funded by Ransom Paid by Our Allies
France, a "traditional" ally, and Italy, an actual ally, have apparently joined Germany, a putative ally, in financing the enemies of the United States. Apart from the practical stupidity of paying ransoms -- it is in effect a subsidy for kidnapping -- the European blood money is underwriting the purchase of weapons and explosives that will be used to kill and injure American soldiers, not to mention innocent Iraqi civilians. American soldiers and innocent Iraqis have almost certainly already died because the French, Germans and -- I'm sorry to say -- the Italians bought the freedom of their own nationals.

Indeed, the paying of cash ransoms to the Iraqi insurgency is even more damaging to the United States and Iraqi civil society than transferring weapons directly. Cash is more useful than any one type of weapon because it is more flexible. It can be concealed more easily, and can be readily converted into anything that the insurgency needs. Got enough AK-47s from Saddam's armory but not enough plastic explosive? Cash is more easy to convert into bombs than automatic rifles. Need radios, cell phones, medical supplies, food, shelter, money to pay bribes? If we would be outraged to catch the French shipping crates of weapons to Iraqi insurgents, we should be transported into blind freakin' rage that they are shipping crates of money. We are not, because for reasons that are unclear to me the internationalists in the mainstream media don't regard this as the scandal it is.

Glenn Beck's CNN "Exposed" Special

YouTube has the CNN Headline News special which shows examples of Islamic propaganda that they are feeding their own people. It's good that Americans are starting to see this.

AP Reported Fake Iraqi Violence

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Roger Hedgecock Interviews Economist Art Laffer

Link is to audio.

Of the Laffer Curve fame.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

How Milton Friedman Changed the World
The ideas of economists and political philosophers ... are more powerful than is commonly understood ... Practical men, who believe themselves to be quite exempt from any intellectual influence, are usually the slaves of some defunct economist.
—English economist John Maynard Keynes, 1883-1946
He belongs on any list of the 100 most important people since World War II. In some ways, the conversion of China to a market economy, the conquest of double-digit inflation in the United States and elsewhere, the decisions of countless governments to sell (a.k.a., "privatize") nationalized industries—these developments and many more could be traced to him. There was no more ardent or articulate advocate of free markets and personal liberty than Friedman[.]
Free markets favored individual choice and creativity. "The great advances of civilization," he wrote, "have never come from centralized government." But Friedman was not indifferent to societies' hopes to improve themselves through government, and his ideas often aimed to reconcile these goals with maximum individual choice. We have adopted—or are still debating—many of his plans: school vouchers (he believed public schools perform poorly because they are monopolies); the negative income tax (Friedman proposed substituting direct payments to the poor for the "rag bag" of existing government services—the idea partially inspired today's "earned income tax credit," providing subsidies for low-income workers); the all-volunteer military, created in 1973; and personal accounts for Social Security.
For decades, Friedman cheerfully and relentlessly pushed his main ideas, although they were outside the political and intellectual mainstream. With his wife, Rose, he became a best-selling author ("Free to Choose," in 1980, a pro-market manifesto). Time was on their side. Competing ideas proved unworkable, inferior or wrong. Friedman never joined the mainstream, but the mainstream joined him.

Friday, November 24, 2006

R.C. Sproul on Thanksgiving

Lack of thanksgiving is one of the foundational sins of our human nature.

R.C. Sproul recently had two broadcasts on the topic of thanksgiving and Thanksgiving proper (here and here).

They were very good broadcasts and I highly recommend listening to them. The phrase "Turkey Day" is beginning to grate on me and Sproul articulates why.

After we pay thanksgiving (and Thanksgiving) due respect we can turn to Christmas.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Syria Assassinates Lebanese Leader (Allegedly)

Those asking for more diplomacy with Syria and Iran have more and more to ignore. "Bad country. Bad!"

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Gay Patriot: Critiques Mantra That Bush Lied and Only Talked About WMD

Via PowerLine.

the Constitution and Your Mortgage

I was introduced to a friend's girlfriend. She is very liberal and a lawyer. We had a nice conversation about my undergraduate honors thesis which was about rights theories and the Constitution.

After having a visceral reaction to my mentioning Scalia's method of determining rights, I pointed out that Scalia's system for determining is very smart (although it may have flaws). Scalia tries to determine the rights we had at the writing of the Constitution.

She replied with a typical query. Do we want to treat a 300-year document that rigidly?

Well, do we treat pre-nuptial agreements or mortgages like that? (Thank you John Rabe for the insight. Forget when. But thanks.)

Is the constitution a contract?

Yes, one between the people.

She saw the logic. And that was cool. That doesn't mean she isn't still a liberal. But it was still cool.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Celebrate with Beer this Thanksgiving
So as the holiday season creeps up yet again, some of you will ask your hosts what to bring to Thanksgiving and Christmas. You can go ahead and be that same boring person that shows up with that cheap bottle of Chardonnay, thinking that it will help you swallow down hunks of dry turkey. But that's just plain rude, man. Cheap and boring is not the way to go.

What you really need is some quality craft-brewed beer to liven up the festivities. Impress the hell out of everyone when you whip out bottles of intriguing beer and reel off brief explanations of what they are. Fortify the ancestral tradition of feasting by complementing it with beer. Suggest a beer pairing with dinner. Hell, make it an all-day event, and remember there's nothing wrong with drinking at 10am. Beer goes with every meal and minute of the day!

Here are some brief suggestions ...

Friday, November 17, 2006

Milton Friedman: Rescued Britain
Others will write about his other enormous contributions to freedom around the world — his leading role in the abolition of the draft, his tireless work in favor of school choice to name but two — and we can but hope others will continue his work. My boss, Fred Smith, on hearing of his death said, “[W]e can continue the struggle, do our part to leave the world a bit better, striving always to advance freedom. And, in doing so, we will benefit greatly from the intellectual ammunition and the personal example he leaves us. For that and much more, we should all mourn and honor this great man.”

To me, Milton Friedman will remain the intellectual giant whose insights saved Britain from terminal decline. A few years he forecast that the ruro — the latest grand experiment of European collectivists and technocrats — will last 15 years at most. I think after raising a glass to this great man’s memory, I shall put a quid or two on that coming true, humming that little ditty as I do so.

Remembering Milton Friedman

Via Powerline.

Milton Friedman Dies at Age 94

Very rarely has an academic had the impact that Milton Friedman had. Milton Friedman advanced the cause of freedom by advancing the cause of economic freedom.

He will be missed.

Please do yourself a favor and read "Free to Choose" if you haven't already.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Joe Biden's Plan for Iraq
Biden called for an international conference on Iraq, that would include Iran, Syria and Turkey.

Syria and Iran? Really?

How do you think a Shi'ite theocratic regime that represses its own people and wants to wipe Israel off the map could help us in Iraq?

I mean, really...

Is Joe Biden serious? If you agree with Joe Biden on this point, please leave a comment.

Anheuser-Busch Promotes Food-Beer Pairings

I like to pretend I'm a beer sommelier (although one who needs much more experience to get paid), so I welcome this.

However, Joe Sixpack writes what I was thinking:
"Twenty years ago, when the average consumer thought of wine, they thought of either red wine or white wine," Shipley said. "Over the years, the wine industry did a good job of making other terms familiar - chardonnay, Chablis and so on... Getting people to understand there are a lot of different varieties of wine made people more aware of wine.

"If you make people understand that there's more variety of beer available, that tends to ratchet up their overall image of beer."

That's ironic (and maybe even hypocritical) coming from a company that has spent billions squashing all those other varieties while promoting its bland, industrial, light lager as the so-called "King of Beers." True, the St. Louis brewery now produces a handful of all-malt and flavored styles. But skeptics in the craft beer sector charge that the behemoth is only trying to glom onto a fast-growing trend that was ignited as a backlash to the lowest-common-denominator marketing engineered by A-B itself.

Indeed, 10 years ago microbrewers were already talking about the joys of, say, beef xarbonade and Belgian brown ale, even as Budweiser was still asking, "Whazzzup?"

"Here's to Beer" finally answers that question, with a refined, image-changing nod to beer lovers who increasingly understand that beer goes so well with food because beer is food.

Thou Shall Not Covet Thy Neighbor's Raw Milk Prices
"They're treating raw milk like heroin or crack," says David Cox, a Columbus lawyer with the firm Lane, Alton & Horst who specializes in cases involving agriculture regulations. He now has six Ohio cases at various stages, and one common element in all, he says, is a sense of "vindictiveness" by the state's Agriculture Dept. (ODA). "I think there's competition among the directors of agriculture to see who can put raw milk out of business."

Ohio's agriculture officials deny there's any vindictiveness behind their actions, but do allow that going after raw milk producers has become a high priority for the state and a hot topic among state agriculture officials. "When I go to meetings of my cohorts, it is the No. 1 issue that comes up," says Lewis Jones, chief of the agency's dairy division.

The crackdown appears to have begun in September, 2005, when some neighboring farmers complained that Arlie Stutzman's family dairy in Millersburg, Ohio, was distributing raw milk to consumers via a herd-share leasing arrangement. According to Jones, such complaints are increasingly common because farmers "are upset because [raw-milk producers] are getting three times the price [the conventional farmers] are getting."

So an agent from ODA visited the Stutzman farm pretending to be a building contractor, and asked to purchase a gallon of raw milk. According to the hearing testimony, before the agent's one-gallon plastic container was filled, "He inquired as to cost and was advised there was no charge, but he could make a donation if he so desired."

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Does Conn. Mean There Is Pro-War Sentiment?

Pro-war candidates in a blue state won 60 percent of the vote.

More Evidence That Junk DNA Isn't So JunkyM

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Democrats Try to Spin Retreating in Iraq as Redeploying to Get al Qaeda

Unfortunately, al Qaeda, the rest of the Muslim world, and the Iraqis won't see it that way.

The party which was content to watch Southeast Asia descend into hell is the same party today.

Joe Sixpack: Beer and Fine Food

One of my favorite topics. The best treatment on the topic I've read is Garret Oliver's the Brewmaster's Table.
Just look at what diners pull out of those Thermos bags at your neighborhood BYO. Half of 'em are beer-drinkers, I'll bet, who wouldn't know pinot noir from peanut chews. But sit 'em down at a white tablecloth and they go all "vin du blah-blah, s'il vous plait" on ya.

Part of the reason, I think, is our still-narrow view of beer: a frosty pitcher of Coors Light. Somehow the suds you knocked back while enjoying the game at the corner bar seem uncouth in one of those places where they put an extra fork in front of you.

Dinner is a perfect opportunity to try one of those freaky, upscale bottles you've been avoiding all these years. A Belgian lambic, an American imperial stout - these are unusual, hugely flavored beers that a Yuengling drinker might not touch with a 10-foot pole. Maybe the first time you cracked one open, it blew out your taste buds and sent you limping home to the safety of your boring macro.

But pour a glass of Stone Double Bastard - a strong ale that even the most devout hophead swallows with caution - then enjoy it with a grilled filet in a red wine shallot sauce. Both the food and the drink improve. The mouth-puckering bitterness of the beer is softened by the sweetness of the beef's glaze, even as the spiciness of the hops brings out the meatiness of the steak.

Finding the right match is not brain surgery.

The lighter the dish, the lighter the beer. A pilsner or blonde ale goes well with seafood, a heavier stout or double bock complements beef or Mexican. (There's a great cheat sheet from beer writer Stan Hieronymous in "The Beer Guide by," to be released next week by Savory House Press.)

Experiment a bit. At their best, beer and the food complement each other so well, as Milwaukee chef Sanford D'Amato told me, "You come up with a third flavor where the sum is greater than its parts."

Friday, November 03, 2006

New York Times Confirms Iraq Nuke Program

While trying to attack Bush of course.

Earlier, when a senior al Qaeda leader in Iraq was killed, NBC News mentioned how we could have killed the guy prior to the war. They mentioned that he was in there and doing chemical weapons training prior to the war.

The truth comes out, but only when attacking the Bush administration.

St. Louis Cardinals Apologize for Winning World Series

More on Richard Dawkins

Please read the previous post if you haven't already.

Of all the items I raised, Dawkins only chose to tackle the problem of maintaining rationality in a theistic framework. Yes, he side-stepped everything else. But, to be fair, I threw a lot at him.

He basically said "I don't see the problem."

But that's not what he said a couple days earlier. Here's the transcript:
Manzari: Dr. Dawkins thank you for your comments. The thing I have appreciated most about your comments is your consistency in the things I've seen you've written. One of the areas that I wanted to ask you about, and the place where I think there is an inconsistency, and I hoped you would clarify, is that in what I've read you seem to take a position of a strong determinist who says that what we see around us is the product of physical laws playing themselves out; but on the other hand it would seem that you would do things like taking credit for writing this book and things like that. But it would seem, and this isn't to be funny, that the consistent position would be that necessarily the authoring of this book, from the initial conditions of the big bang, it was set that this would be the product of what we see today. I would take it that that would be the consistent position but I wanted to know what you thought about that.

Dawkins: The philosophical question of determinism is a very difficult question. It's not one I discuss in this book, indeed in any other book that I've ever talked about. Now an extreme determinist, as the questioner says, might say that everything we do, everything we think, everything that we write has been determined from the beginning of time in which case the very idea of taking credit for anything doesn't seem to make any sense. Now I don't actually know what I actually think about that, I haven't taken up a position about that, it's not part of my remit to talk about the philosophical issue of determinism. What I do know is that what it feels like to me, and I think to all of us, we don't feel determined. We feel like blaming people for what they do or giving people the credit for what they do. We feel like admiring people for what they do. None of us ever actually as a matter of fact says, "Oh well he couldn't help doing it, he was determined by his molecules." Maybe we should… I sometimes… Um… You probably remember many of you would have seen Fawlty Towers. The episode where Basil where his car won't start and he gives it fair warning, counts up to three, and then gets out of the car and picks up a tree branch and thrashes it within an edge of his life. Maybe that's what we all ought to... Maybe the way we laugh at Basil Fawlty, we ought to laugh in the same way at people who blame humans. I mean when we punish people for doing the most horrible murders, maybe the attitude we should take is "Oh they were just determined by their molecules." It's stupid to punish them. What we should do is say "This unit has a faulty motherboard which needs to be replaced." I can't bring myself to do that. I actually do respond in an emotional way and I blame people, I give people credit, or I might be more charitable and say this individual who has committed murders or child abuse of whatever it is was really abused in his own childhood. And so again I might take a …

Manzari: But do you personally see that as an inconsistency in your views?

Dawkins: I sort of do. Yes. But it is an inconsistency that we sort of have to live with otherwise life would be intolerable. But it has nothing to do with my views on religion it is an entirely separate issue.

Manzari: Thank you.

Update: I'm pretty sure I misread this exchange before querying Dawkins. Manzari is correct in pointing out the inconsistency in his views. But this didn't directly pertain to rationality. But Dawkins does remove the basis for believing in rationality. I'll point that out on a different post.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

I Got to Question Richard Dawkins Today

Richard Dawkins, and famous evolutionist, was in Philadelphia promoting his book, "the God Delusion."

Although I disagree with him, I definitely found his talk fascinating.

Here is my synopsis:

I gave him a multi-part comment. Things in quotes are from memory and may be slightly paraphrased.

1) His talk and his book is imbued with morality. He wants moral laws without a law-giver. He recognized the problem in his book. He sortof bypasses the issue.

2) He removed the basis of rationality. He admitted this inconsistency a couple of days ago.

3) He described self-deception as being better at deceived your conscious self than others. "Since you as an atheist cannot bring yourself to be consistent with your own presuppositions, I see a latent theist."

4) "You are utilizing theism to attack theism. You are stealing from theism to attack theism."

5) "One final note. You are going to use the laws of logic to respond to me. I want to remind you, as a materialist, that the laws of logic are immaterial."

Afterwards, I got to talk to atheists, since the audience was dominated by atheists.

People had a hard time following the argument from reason. These arguments are deep and require time and discussion. Esp. since most of the above are self-attesting. In other words, you just have to grasp that the laws of logic are immaterial.

A man after the talk claimed they were just inventions of man. So can two contradictory things be true if all men were destroyed?

Update: I will post a followup to 2. Also, one of the two men I was discussing I'm pretty sure was the husband of the Philly Freethinkers (I told them that word is inconsistent with their beliefs) Society.

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