Monthly Archives: November 2009

I enjoyed deep-fried turkey with friends on St. Cecilia Day

Yesterday was the feast day of St. Cecilia, the virgin and martyr who died at the hands of the Romans 1,800 years ago. For the crime of being a Christian, she was beheaded, and has been venerated as the patron saint of music by both the Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches ever since.

Unfortunately in America, this feast in honor of an ancient martyr who gave her life as a witness to God was mostly ignored in favor of the quasi-religious holiday created by politicians known as “Thanksgiving.” During this holiday, people mostly watch football and stuff their faces with turkey while possibly taking a minute to pay lip service to the bland little American god that is more of a political prop than a deity.

Read the rest at The Anti-Independence Day.  Note I think the veneration of martyrs is forbidden by Scripture as recognized by Protestants.  But memorial feast are just fine and Cecilia vastly preferable. Hopefully more Protestants will awaken to the idolatry of Statism soon.

Foxes assure us they are doing great things for the hen house

Today, in the U.S., there are more than 1.2 million nonprofit organizations. In dollar terms alone, the nonprofit sector annually generates more than $670 billion, or nine percent of the U.S. Gross National Product. More than twelve million Americans are employed by nonprofits. Because the sector is so large and diverse in mission, scope and ability, but also has such an impact on the life of the nation, there are always going to be concerns about its performance, governance, influence, intentions and fiscal responsibility. That’s normal. Even our founding fathers were wary of the phenomenal growth of the citizens associations that were emerging in the new republic. George Washington was among those who feared that nongovernmental organizations would become too powerful, stating, in his 1796 farewell address to Congress that “cunning, ambitious and unprincipled men” could use these associations to “subvert the power of the people.”

Happily, though, George Washington’s fears have not proved out. With a few notable exceptions, nonprofit organizations, including foundations, have gone about their work with integrity, honesty, balanced judgment and an overriding concern for doing the right thing and for being scrupulously ethical in all their dealings with the public, the media, the government and with each other.

via The 2002-2003 annual report of the Carnegie Corporation, p. 31 (PDF). Emphasis is mine. I’m impressed they acknowledge Washington’s observation.  Hide in plain sight and all that. I’m guessing the notable exceptions are the Cato Institute and Ron Paul’s campaign.

ClimateGate: Not a smoking gun but a mushroom cloud

The evidence of scientific dishonesty supplied by these communications is so copious it’s hard to know where to begin an attempt to describe them. Many of the e-mails brazenly discuss the manipulation of scientific data either to provide the appearance of greater support for global warming science or to undermine the claims of skeptics. For example, CRU scholar Timothy J. Osborn explicitly describes how data can be reconfigured so that evidence of an apparent cooling period disappears. His colleague Tom Wigley discusses recasting the data on sea-surface temperatures so that the results seem considerably warmer but also scientifically plausible. The director of CRU, Phil Jones, brags about his use of eminent climatologist Michael Mann’s “Nature trick” which deliberately confuses scientific data to “hide the decline” in current temperatures.

Other e-mails openly encourage the suppression of data that could prove difficult to repudiate. Michael Mann provides strategic advice on how to deal with a journal, Geophysical Research Letters, that seems to be open to publishing views that dissent from climate orthodoxy. In an e-mail to Phil Jones, Mann also expresses his desire to “contain” the very inconvenient truth of the Medieval Warm Period, so important in overthrowing Mann’s classic “Hockey Stick” model of anthropogenic warming, even though he admits they don’t have an appropriate model to do that legitimately.

Public spokesmen for the global warming agenda constantly claim a near-universal consensus within the scientific community supporting their position, but these private exchanges often reveal serious personal reservations regarding what they really know and how confident they are in the statistical models they rely upon. In an e-mail to several prominent climate scientists (including Mann and Jones), Kevin E. Trenberth, one of the leading contributors to the work of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, offers this confession: “The fact is that we can’t account for the lack of warming at the moment and it is a travesty that we can’t. The CERES data published in the August BAMS 09 supplement on 2008 shows there should be even more warming: but the data are surely wrong. Our observing system is inadequate.” In another e-mail, Trenberth admits climatologists have a limited understanding of where our energy ultimately goes, what the effects of cloud formation might have on the entire issue, and expresses doubts about the efficacy of geoengineering to provide any substantive relief, again saying that the gaps in the scientific knowledge amount to “a travesty.” All of this a far cry from the strident claims about unimpeachable evidence and demonstrable theory that usually emanates from these quarters.

Perhaps the most damning e-mails concern CRU deputy director Keith Briffa’s analysis of the diameter of tree rings in Yamal, Siberia. That research is a major evidentiary pillar in support of twentieth-century global warming and it helped resurrect Michael Mann’s “Hockey Stick” graph of global warming. The scientist largely responsible for challenging Mann’s work, Steve McIntyre, turned his attention to Briffa’s resurrection of it and accused him of cherry-picking samples that would confirm his politically desirable hypothesis.

The response to McIntyre’s work revealed in the CRU e-mails shows a breathtaking pattern of ideological rigidity and academic fraudulence that is simultaneously egregious and casually self-satisfied. First, it becomes clear that the global warming crowd, in particular Mann and Osborn, are quick to dismiss McIntyre’s work as “not legitimate science” even before reviewing his studies. Their initial reflex is not to scrutinize McIntyre’s analysis or to reconsider their own entrenched positions but rather to respond with a kind of angry, territorial protectiveness. Then they collectively identify someone who could, in fact, “shed light on McIntyre’s criticisms of Yamal” but choose not to contact him because he “can be rather a loose cannon.” Another scientist who might have helped clarify the Yamal situation is dismissed by Mann for being “not as predictable as we’d like.” Unquestioning loyalty to a political platform is understood to be the precondition of scientific authenticity.

Even worse, in response to the charge that Briffa’s work is difficult to verify because he withholds key data from the published study, Tom Wigley actually issues a justification of the practice:

And the issue of withholding data is still a hot potato, one that affects both you [Phil Jones] and Keith [Briffa] (and Mann). Yes, there are reasons — but many good scientists appear to be unsympathetic to these. The trouble here is that withholding data looks like hiding something, and hiding means (in some eyes) that it is bogus science that is being hidden.

Wigley provides no discussion at all regarding what would count as an appropriate reason for concealing data, or what benefit this could bring to the scientific community at large. One is left to wonder if the justification for hiding information is political rather than scientific. Mann seems unconcerned that any of these issues will resonate with a friendly media: “Fortunately,” he wrote to a New York Times reporter, “the prestige press doesn’t fall for this sort of stuff, right?”

Read the whole inconvenient truth at The New Atlantis » The Climate E-mails and the Politics of Science.

A post making a small but necessary contribution to Biblical literacy

Please read the following two sentences:

Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.

You have now read what is commonly known as “The Great Commission,” which Matthew records a Jesus’ command and promise to his disciples (translated from the Greek manuscripts in the English Standard Version).

Please read this and contemplate the implications, because some people evidently never have.

And then go read the Manhattan Declaration and, if you are a disciple of Jesus, consider signing it.

Sign Me Up – Manhattan Declaration

Christians are heirs of a 2,000-year tradition of proclaiming God’s word, seeking justice in our societies, resisting tyranny, and reaching out with compassion to the poor, oppressed and suffering.

While fully acknowledging the imperfections and shortcomings of Christian institutions and communities in all ages, we claim the heritage of those Christians who defended innocent life by rescuing discarded babies from trash heaps in Roman cities and publicly denouncing the Empire’s sanctioning of infanticide. We remember with reverence those believers who sacrificed their lives by remaining in Roman cities to tend the sick and dying during the plagues, and who died bravely in the coliseums rather than deny their Lord.

After the barbarian tribes overran Europe, Christian monasteries preserved not only the Bible but also the literature and art of Western culture. It was Christians who combated the evil of slavery: Papal edicts in the 16th and 17th centuries decried the practice of slavery and first excommunicated anyone involved in the slave trade; evangelical Christians in England, led by John Wesley and William Wilberforce, put an end to the slave trade in that country. Christians under Wilberforce’s leadership also formed hundreds of societies for helping the poor, the imprisoned, and child laborers chained to machines.

In Europe, Christians challenged the divine claims of kings and successfully fought to establish the rule of law and balance of governmental powers, which made modern democracy possible. And in America, Christian women stood at the vanguard of the suffrage movement. The great civil rights crusades of the 1950s and 60s were led by Christians claiming the Scriptures and asserting the glory of the image of God in every human being regardless of race, religion, age or class.

This same devotion to human dignity has led Christians in the last decade to work to end the dehumanizing scourge of human trafficking and sexual slavery, bring compassionate care to AIDS sufferers in Africa, and assist in a myriad of other human rights causes – from providing clean water in developing nations to providing homes for tens of thousands of children orphaned by war, disease and gender discrimination.

Like those who have gone before us in the faith, Christians today are called to proclaim the Gospel of costly grace, to protect the intrinsic dignity of the human person and to stand for the common good. In being true to its own calling, the call to discipleship, the church through service to others can make a profound contribution to the public good.

Read the rest at: Press Kit – Manhattan Declaration Newsroom –

A quotation I don’t want to forget (or two)

KidnappedAs I mentioned here, I’m reading Kidnapped: Being Memoirs of the Adventures of David Balfour in the Year 1751 (Puffin Classics). And I am loving it.  I have even put off spending time researching the politics of the day in Scotland that you really need to know to figure out what is going on.  Maybe I’ll re-read it after I do that.

But I really just want to post this statement.  The story is told in first person and sometimes puts me in mind of some private-eye crime-thrillers I have loved (or Frank Miller’s Dark Knight or Batman: Year One; which was the original reason I ever read Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett).  I won’t spoil it by giving context

I’ve seen wicked men and fools, a great may of both; and I believe they both get paid in the end; but the fools first.

By the way, remember that horrible cartoon “version” of Treasure Island?  Well, Joss Whedon’s verse would be a perfect–perfect!–setting for a scifi version of Kidnapped.

Speaking of which, let’s post another quotation I’ve been obsessing over lately.

Sure as I know anything, I know this – they will try again. Maybe on another world, maybe on this very ground swept clean. A year from now, ten? They’ll swing back to the belief that they can make people… better. And I do not hold to that. So no more runnin’. I aim to misbehave.

Usual (not sure what you allow yourself to watch/read) disclaimers for my endorsements, by the way.

What Paul thinks you need, Christian

For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.

via Passage: Eph 1.15-23 (ESV Bible Online).

When we’re underpaid, or in the midst of a horrible crises with our spouses, or subject to taskmasters at home or at school, or sick, or tired, or beaten down by something else, it is really hard to believe the Gospel–that God has raised us up in Jesus and that we rule the universe at God’s right hand–that we’ve been exalted above “above all rule and authority and power and dominion” because we are the fullness of him who fills all things and under whose feet all things have been subdued.

Paul expects that to be a problem.  He thinks that he needs to pray regularly that you really believe what you have and what has happened in history.  This is a pretty generic letter revealing, I think, Paul’s standard prayer concern.

So if you’re struggling with the discrepancy, know that the Spirit is working.  But if you’re not, you need to ask if your expectations are low.  Claiming the world has been made new, and that it is now ruled by the exalted Human, is supposed to make us wonder about the discrepancy between what we see and what the Gospel tells us.  Paul said he never stopped praying that believers would be given better “eyes” to see the truth.

So what did Tolkien think about weapon development during WWII and the Allied victory?

If it [WWII] had inspired or directed the development of the legend, then certainly the Ring should have been seized and used against Sauron; he should not have been annihilated but enslaved, and Barad-dur would not have been destroyed but occupied.  Saruman, failing to get possession of the Ring, would in the confusion and treacheries of the time have found in Mordor the missing links in his own researches into Ring-lore, and before long he would have made a Great Ring of his own with which to challenge the self-styled Ruler of Middle-earth.  In that conflict, both sides would have held hobbits in hatred and contempt: they would not long have survived even as slaves.

So were the Hobbits becoming identified with others in Tolkien’s mind at this point?  Did Chalmers Johnson read Tolkien?

The origin of “men are from Mars, women from Venus”?

“I first went to greet Hrothgar in his ring-hall, where Healfdene’s kinsman promptly assigned me a seat by his son and heir once my purpose was made plain to him. The company was joyous; never in my life have I heard under heaven’s vault such merriment of men over mead in the hall! The noble queen, the pledge of peace between nations, cheered the young clansmen by giving golden clasps to various ones before she sought her seat. Hrothgar’s daughter betimes carried the ale-cup to the princes in turn—I heard these hall-companions say when she offered carvings of gold to the warriors that her name was Freawaru. The gold-adorned maiden is pledged to the merry son of Froda. This seems sagacious to the keeper of the kingdom, that friend of the Scyldings: he deems it wise to wed the woman and ward off a massive blood-feud. But seldom does the slaughtering spear sleep for long, even though the bride is fair!

“The Heathobard lord will not well like it when he and all his liegemen see a Danish thane in that stalwart crowd accompany the lady in their hall, and upon him the ancient heirlooms gleam; hard and ring-covered, they are Heathobard’s treasure—weapons that they once wielded well until they lost loyal liegemen and their own lives in the game of battle. Then, while drinking ale, some old spear-fighter will gaze upon this heirloom and think of spear-brought death—he is somber and his heart is heavy—and he tries the temper and prods the soul of the young hero, awakening war-hate with words like these:

“ ‘Can’t you, my comrade, recognize that sword which your father carried in his final battle while wearing his helmet, when the Danes killed him, and the stout Scyldings took the field after the carnage and Withergild’s death? Now, the son of one of those murdering Danes, proud of the loot, walks into our hall and boasts of the slaughter; he’s wearing the treasure which you by right ought to own!’

“So he urges and goads him at every turn with galling words until the time comes that Freawaru’s thane must sleep in his blood, losing his life to sword-bite for his father’s deed. But the liegeman flies away, alive, to the land he knows. And thus the princes’ oaths on both sides would be broken when Ingeld’s breast swells with war-hatred, and the love for his wife grows cooler after those billows of care. So I do not highly esteem the Heathobard’s loyalty, nor do I deem their alliance with the Danes sincere or their friendship firm.

via Beowulf Text – Chapter XVIII.

So I’ve been listening to Seamus’ translation of Beowulf in audio (except I fell asleep last night and missed the beginning of the conflict with the Mother) and heard this aside (?) this morning.

It makes sense to deal with the social divisions of tribe and clan by intermarriage.  It even seems nice to see women as ambassadors of  peace, though Beowulf’s doubts that they are really enough make me worry.

Of course, ultimately it did work.  Virtually all Western Europe and more became one extended family of rulers.  But that explains the myth of the peasant wife for the king.  The ruled feel like they need to find a way to make peace with the tribe of rulers.  The locals feel that they are being snubbed for the sake of some foreign princess somewhere.

And, if a ruler does not really love his people, then a family spat with an in-law isn’t really going to be any more peaceful than a blood feud.  Unless he leads his men, he is more or less playing chess with their lives.

Not sure where this was going.  I just did not expect to encounter this in Beowulf and it has my mind buzzing a bit.

POSTSCRIPT: I said it “seems nice to see woman as ambassadors of peace.” Of course, the idea of daughters being pawns in realpolitik doesn’t seem nice at all.  I meant to mention that possibility and register my disgust.  Now I have.

Voting for candidates and being their cheerleaders

It has occurred to me that this post is not as clear as it could be.

By “support” I’m referring to cheerful promotion, to advocating a candidate as on “our side” etc.

File this under Another Problem With Democracy.  Everyone says that we’re supposed to be realistic.  We’re supposed to not be perfectionists.  Blah, blah, blah.  One might think that such exhortations mean that we are supposed to keep our heads about us and, well, be realistic and not be perfectionists.  I’m sure many do mean that.

But for some it seems to mean the opposite and worse.  It means that we should take a look at a list of realistic candidates, without demanding perfection…. and then jump head-first into the fantasy world in which this candidate, chosen so realistically, is now the perfect messiah, the Good Guy, the Champion of Right.

I have to confess that I really liked the ant-Bush attitude that in the first few years of this century because I thought it would end this sort of thing.  I thought people’s anger at the Bush regime was a cynicism and opposition to politics.  But it wasn’t.  Demonizing Bush was simply an urge to find a fresh, young, god to control The Machinery Of Heaven.  And even now, when we have even less excuse for our war than before, and even more fiscal insanity (exponentially more) than before, Obama continues to be worshiped and professing Christians decorate the bodies of their young children with his beautific face on their clothing.


It is all pagan worship and it is all headed toward human sacrifice.  The first sacrifice is one’s own brain, and the rest follows naturally and more literally.

I never thought I would say this so soon, but Bush’s sins aren’t an excuse anymore.

Anyway, saying I can’t “support” someone doesn’t mean that he or she isn’t worth voting for.  It just means there is not much to get excited about.  Which, in our modern political context, virtually makes you part of the opposition.