Anne Wilson

 

 

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Friday, May 31, 2002

 
Gun control kills: A rifle-bearing Israeli stops Palestinian bent on murdering kindergartners.

Societies with stringent gun control are going to be the first to fall to the jihadists. Blue Zone and Europe, wake up.
 
This was supposed to be the *good* diocese: Catholic diocese of Peoria throws out seven priests.
 
What "injured" means for survivors of genocide bombing: Go link to see the x-rays at Midwest Conservative Journal. But not if you're squeamish.

This is what you get your ticket to Paradise for if you're "successful."
 
Modern artists worth looking at? Amy Welborn wants to know.

She might try NYC's Water Street Atelier (no link that I can find, but a search turns up many affiliated artists), or Seattle's Frye Art Museum, the California plein-air painters, or the painters associated with the American Society of Classical Realism.

She might also like the extensive on-line museum of the Art Renewal Center, or the more modest American Renaissance for the Twenty-first Century, which says: We champion art that portrays the world at its most beautiful and man and woman at their best.
 
Is Islam "doomed?" Mark Shea & Mark Cameron discuss the "appeal" of Islam.

Cameron is right when he says that Islam has a powerful appeal to human psychology. Many people find artistic and architectural appeal in Islam, but it's mostly of the Ottoman, Persian or Moghul varieties, *not* wahhabi concrete boxes. (Scroll down to the "Dr. Al Houfy mosque" for an example.) In fact, wahhabis destroy "traditional" Islamic art and architecture whenever they get the chance.

One could argue that the sensory appeal comes from Christian, mystical, or gnostic mathematical and esoteric traditions that predate Islam by centuries and were absorbed by it when those areas were conquered. However, Islamic history claims those arts, and their aesthetic appeal is undeniable, even though they may not be Islamic at the root at all.

In its crudest and most "fundamentalist" state, Islam appeals to the worst aspects of human nature. You get to kill people and have unrestricted sex without guilt. In the first case, you get to kill those who were once of your religion and left, or who aren't of your religion and refuse to be. Not only do you get to kill them, you are given the highest honors for it.

It is considered just fine to take subject women as sexual slaves because you've "earned" them, not to mention the Holodeck porno-fantasy of the "72 virgins" in Paradise (who really aren't human at all anyway, but are a type of specially-created "genie.") In countries under Islamic law, wives are entirely property who can be impregnated at will and just as easily divorced (the husband gets the children.)

Abortion is not absolutely forbidden under Islamic law, much to Westerners' surprise. It may be resorted to *if* the husband believes there are "personal reasons."

Nor is birth control forbidden under Islam. In Iran, for instance, birth control was permitted even after the revolution against the Shah, but only upon the initiation of the husband. (Iran's fertility rate of 2.02 children/woman is far lower than other Muslim countries even today.) When Betty Mahmoody was held captive in Iran, a wife's use of birth control against her husband's wishes was a capital offense (as she describes in her book Not Without My Daughter.)

The large numbers of children in some Muslim societies probably has more to do with the captive and subjected condition of their women than anything else.

Cameron concludes: No, I'm afraid the Islamic world is not a paper tiger like the Soviet Union, about to come crumbling down when people are exposed to MTV and Blue Jeans. Eventually, the only answer to Jihad will be Crusade.

I don't know about the "Crusade" part. Personally, I'm one of those people who in the 12th -16th century would have had a "crusade" launched against them, so the word has some unpleasant associations. American godless-atheist-secular-humanists have just as much of an investment in fighting radical Islam as do devout Catholics or other Christians.


 
Thou shalt not steal: City wants more tax money. City tries to steal land from church. Church doesn't need the land as much as the city needs the taxes. Church isn't "worth anything" to the city anyway. Eminent domain runs amok over private property rights once again.
 
Slate blows the whistle on the reverse bias of the newly-released movie The Sum of All Fears. In short, CAIR whines and Hollywood jumps.
 
Saudi Arabia exists only because of US defense. This Christian Science Monitor article tells why.

Saudi Arabia is an *evil* society. The only aspect that makes it less evil than the old Soviet Union or the present-day Communist China is that only *half* of its population is prevented from leaving the country if their "owners" prevent them. Other than that, I challenge anyone to pick a society *more* evil - more opposed to the fundamental human freedoms.

WHY are we defending these people? It's immoral to encourage them just because of oil. They run their country like a vast concentration camp; they impose their stupid restrictions on our people in-country who are risking their lives to protect them (even routine flyovers have an element of danger); they use their petrodollars to corrupt and pervert other Islamic societies less fanatical than they, and they spread propaganda through the US.

Thursday, May 30, 2002

 
Alert the media... Public school student wins national spelling bee - the first since 1999. For some stats on his school, go here and here.
 
A reader writes on "school choice:"

I, too, read the Casey Lartigue piece in NRO. You may not agree with him, but I am at a loss as to his 'obfuscation'. The piece was pretty clear.

The link to the Miami study isn't about vouchers...it's about charter schools, and there is a world of difference. To point to that study (which, I might add, is described in the very article as 'inconclusive') as"proof" that vouchers don't work is disingenuous at best. Studies in Milwaukee on a true voucher program have shown the opposite, though we are very early on in this process.

Finally, where did you get the idea that vouchers are supposed to "replace public schools"? Vouchers are simply a method to return tax money to taxpayers, who then decide where this money is best spent. I, for one, don't give a whit about schools, per se. I care about the education of children (including my own). If a public school
doesn't do the job (and far too many don't), the public who fund them should have a means by which they can opt out, into another public, private, parochial, or home school. Good schools will thrive; bad ones will rightfully close.


 
Profiling Nobel Prize winners: From Daily Pundit:

Muslims: 1.2 billion (20% of world's population)
Number of Nobel Prize winners (up through 1999):
  • Literature: 2
  • Peace: 2
  • Chemistry: 2
  • Medicine: 2

Jews: 14.1 million (0.2% of world's population)
  • Literature: 10
  • World Peace: 8
  • Chemistry: 22
  • Economics: 13
  • Medicine: 44
  • Physics: 31


One way to guarantee one's own cultural and social inferiority is to fail to recognize, appreciate, and emulate excellence in others.
 
Widening the nanny-net: The Teenage Computer Guru found this one.

Tamim Ansary wants schools to serve as community and daycare centers over the summer, because he finds making summer childcare arrangements a nuisance. He thinks it's a compromise because the alternative is essentially year-round schooling.

I've got news for Mr. Ansary. It's called *parenting.* You have children; you have the responsibility for taking care of them. It's not the school district's job to parent your children 60 hours a week, and it's not my job as a taxpayer to pay for it. Children are entitled to a summer vacation - they aren't dogs that you leave in the kennel when you troop off to hike the Cascades.

In fact, here's a novel concept for "education reform." Let children have a childhood. We need more summer vacation, not less. How about quitting after Memorial Day and not starting again till after Labor Day? How about ditching those 50-lb backpacks that send kids to emergency rooms with torn ligaments?

How about women rediscovering teaching and part-time nursing as careers, so they can be home with their children at least part of the week during the summer months? Perhaps the parents can actually plan their lives around children, rather than expecting schools to be their nannies.
 
No ecumenical sensitivity points for Charles Wesley: Midwest Conservative Journal found this at Christianity Today. Thump that tub; beat that tambourine! The next time you get all waxy over some hijab-clad actress in a Saudi-paid PR spot, ask yourself what ever *did* become of "Thy Asian fold?"

The smoke of the infernal cave,
Which half the Christian world o'erspread,
Disperse, Thou heavenly Light, and save
The souls by that Impostor led,
That Arab-chief, as Satan bold,
Who quite destroyed Thy Asian fold.

O might the blood of sprinkling cry
For those who spurn the sprinkled blood!
Assert Thy glorious Deity,
Stretch out Thine arm, Thou Triune God
The Unitarian fiend expel,
And chase his doctrine back to hell.


 
From a Catholic priest friend of a priest friend:

24:01:44:02: Dallas, we have a problem.

24:01:44:05: Go ahead, Fidelis.

24:01:44:09: Dallas, we're showing an undervolt on main bishop B for Boston. We've got 5, no 7, ... make that 24 priests out of action. Over.

24:01:44:16: Fidelis, we copy 24 priests. Suggest possible telemetry problem, over.

24:01:44:22: Negative, Dallas. We're now reading 32 diddler priests. Rate of loss is increasing, over.

24:01:45:13: Fidelis, this is Dallas. DIDCOM believes attrition will stabilize at 40 or 45 priests. [unintelligible] telemetry glitch is still possible, over.

24:01:45:18: Dallas, we're showing 80, repeat 80 priests, and growing. Subpoenas taking down bishops Boston, Brooklyn, New York and Manchester ... possible Cincinnati as well. Attitude is not stable. We're losing orientation, Dallas, over.

24:01:45:23: Dallas, this is Fidelis. Do you copy? Over.

24:01:45:28: That's affirmative, Fidelis. We're on a learning curve here. [unintelligible]

24:01:49:07: Dallas, we're showing 50+ losses in Detroit and Los ... wait, total failure of bishop in Palm Beach, he's completely off-line, Dallas. Looks like he might be bringing down St. Petersburg with him. Lexington is off-line ... Oh this frapping son of a ... Milwaukee just went down, Dallas, repeat, Milwaukee is dead. Request instructions, over.

24:01:52:56: Fidelis, this is Dallas. Commence power-down scheme number 22; power-down scheme number 22. Do you copy? over.

24:01:53:00: Query "22," Dallas, over.

24:01:53:06: Roger, 22 it is, Fidelis. Commence power-down immediately, over.

24:01:53:12: We copy, Dallas ... powering-down now ... that leaves us with ... with the offertory, the kiss of peace, and the acolytes' summer picnic. Dallas, if we're going to make it home we're going to need some sacramental grace, over.

24:01:53:33: Working on it, Fidelis, over.

24:01:58:27: Dallas, we can't [unintelligible]

24:01:58:42: Fidelis, this is Dallas, over.

24:02:01:15: Fidelis, this is Dallas, over.

24:01:08:42: Fidelis, this is Dallas, over.



Terminated at Mission Elapsed Time 24:03:45:00

Wednesday, May 29, 2002

 
On the Blogwalk: Curmudgeonry: Mutterings and Grumblings about News and Culture, written by "Chief Pontificator" Justin Adams and "Toddler Affairs Editor and Nipple Nazi" Jordana Adams.

I agree - two year olds are great. There are no bad toddlers, only goofy parents. (Thanks for the link, too!)
 
Why don't more dissenting American Catholics "just become Episcopalian?" This article by J.A. Turner (channelled through Amy Welborn) inadvertently provides a partial explanation.

Turner says that Catholics can have "reverent worship" or a "hootenanny," but not both, and bemoans Catholic fondness for Oregon Catholic Press and all its pomp and works (like "Glory and Praise.")

Many ex-Catholics find their way into ECUSA but there are far more ex-Catholics that don't, even though their doctrinal attitudes put them far closer to liberal Episcopalians. While I can't for one moment imagine missing "Glory and Praise" or anything else from OCP, there probably are people who would miss it terribly.

Liberal Catholics who do jump ship might well be looking for something more casual and "charismatic," whereas Episcopalians aren't called "God's Frozen People" for nothing. Even "charismatic" Episcopal parishes tend to be more staid than your average suburban Catholic parish.

Ex-Catholics uncomfortable with liturgical and cultural formality may find some "pre-Vatican II" Episcopal practices disturbingly retrograde, like kneeling for Holy Communion, keeping your own hands off the Cup, use of incense, and the sounds of classical music and Gregorian chant in the liturgy. Sometimes the wildest and most liberal Episcopal parishes (like the gay ones) can be some of the most liturgically formal and traditional.

 
School choice questions won't go away: NRO's Casey Lartigue complains about voucher opponents' misleading arguments, then goes on to obfuscate with the best of them.

Meanwhile, a Florida study of voucher students' standardized test scores shows (once again) that voucher students do no better than their public school counterparts.

Unfortunately, no one brings up the point that vouchers, if fully implemented, promise to become yet another *entitlement* program that will not replace public schools, but instead will add to the cost of public education in districts that already spend more money than their suburban counterparts.
 
Learn from the experts: American police visit Israel to learn how to spot suicide bombers. Finally. Note that one Israeli expert comments that Americans are looking for "the weapons," while Israelis are looking for "the terrorists." Well, you can't spot terrorists unless you "profile." It's simple as that.


 
Rest in Peace, "Nancy Drew" author: She died practically with her fingers on the keys. Journalist Mildred Benson, best known for the Nancy Drew mystery series, died at age 96. She was still a working journalist for the Toledo Blade newspaper. Good for her - may we all be so fortunate when we go.
 
Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron: Now that Harry Potter is old news, Spirit looks like the movie conservatives love to hate, mostly because of the apparent "cavalry bad, Indians good" motif.

Spirit, however, is a good example of how if a story becomes didactic it dies.

The story is told from the mustang's viewpoint in the Old West at the time of the transcontinental railroads. It's the closest thing I've seen yet to an *American* anime. That means it's a dramatic story, even though it's more sappy than your usual dramatic anime.

The American soldiers do what we know they historically did under the circumstances. Yes, they broke horses and branded them. Yes, they did capture Indians and beat them for stealing. Yes, there were men like the Colonel who believed that there was no man he couldn't master and no horse he couldn't break. Yes, US soldiers did ransack Indian villages.

You can disagree with any of the story's central premises, like telling a story from a horse's viewpoint yet with human thoughts and feelings. But like Anna Sewell's Black Beauty (which this movie closely evokes), once you start from that premise you have to go in certain directions. Black Beauty is broken as a colt, and many girls age 10-14 are in tears in those scenes. It's far harder to break an adult stallion, but in both cases if you start from that dramatic premise, the horse and the horse-breaker *must* be enemies, or the story simply won't work.

Similarly, once you start from a certain point - interior animal fantasy with mostly realistic exterior - the Lakota Indians and the US Army are *not* going to be the best of friends. Since it's an *American* anime, things are sanitized on *both* sides. I wish they hadn't been - in a film like Princess Mononoke the same conflicts are raised (iron workers and their factories vs. the "spirits of the forest" and the Ainu) with far grittier depiction and far more ambivalent outcomes, but I guess American anime makers have to learn to crawl before they can walk, much less run.

The Teenage Computer Guru mentioned that the original plot of Spirit was sadder and darker than the final version, probably because Americans still are not comfortable with serious animated features, and because any time an animated movie comes out, it will be full of 3 year olds. This is terribly frustrating and one reason why American animation is so mired in juvenilia.

The animation itself is utterly splendid. Ever since The Little Mermaid, animators have been struggling to incorporate computer graphics while still retaining the "gold standard" of hand-drawn animation.

Some of the best is done by Hayao Miyazaki's Studio Ghibli. Like Studio Ghibli films, Spirit is almost entirely hand-painted, and the backdrops are phenomenal. There are wonderful shots - a scene where the stallion fights off a cougar is what Remington sculptures would look like if they came to life, and the camera seamlessly pans around the action, which gives you a breathtaking illusion of life.

If animation's not your "thing," I wouldn't see it. But compared to all the other failed attempts to produce American animated *drama* that equals the Japanese equivalents (Don Bluth's Titan AE, Disney's Atlantis), Dreamworks has come the closest. They're not there yet, but close.

Friday, May 24, 2002

 
I really am supposed to be out of here, but I can't resist a few scribblings.

Mark Shea notes that NRO's The Corner has fallen silent on The Scandal. What gives? I used to rely on Rod Dreher's summaries. Now Your Non-Working Girl has to go actually wade through the papers herself.

Also, thanks, Mark, for introducing me to Zach (another Episcopal blogger.) Zach, have you met Chris yet? I think you'll like him a lot.

Zach reads Orson Scott Card. This is *good.*

 
Arab PR campaign a FLOP. Channelled through DailyPundit from Kesher Talk.


 
Hold this thought on this weekend: I don't know where this came from. But I leave it with you:

"It is the soldier, not the reporter, who has given us freedom of the press.

It is the soldier, not the poet, who has given us freedom of speech.

It is the soldier, not the campus organizer, who has given us the freedom to demonstrate.

It is the soldier, who salutes the flag, who serves beneath the flag, and whose coffin is draped by the flag, who allows the protester to burn the flag."


God bless America.


 
Light weekend ahead: I'm taking a long weekend off. Thanks to everyone who's written with much-appreciated HTML suggestions. I plan to use the weekend to clean up these little problems with the help of the indispensible Teenage Computer Guru.

Thursday, May 23, 2002

 
Investigate abortion and birth control clinics for misprision of felony: "Misprision of felony" is the criminal concealment of felonious acts. Since January the media have focused on the coverup of sexual abuse of minors on the part of Catholic priests. Missouri's state legislature just passed a law adding clergy to the list of "mandated reporters."

There are many arguments against laws that establish mandated reporting, but I'm not going to go into them here. For the sake of argument, take mandated reporting as a fact, and take as fact that there's a great deal of public concern about sexual abuse of minors, as evidenced by the Catholic clergy scandals.

What's been overlooked until just recently is that the nurses, counselors, and doctors who see underage patients at birth control and abortion clinics have been legally considered mandated reporters for years. If a 13 or 14 year old girl comes in pregnant, that should be enough *right there* to trigger an automatic phone call to the child abuse hotline. The determination of the age of the father should be up to the Child Protective Services social workers, not up to the abortion clinic. Similarly, when a teenage girl under "statutory rape age" enters a clinic for birth control, the nurse or doctor should be required to immediately notify CPS so that an investigation can be launched.

The immediate excuse offered is that clinic services are "confidential." Legally, "confidentiality" is suspended if a baby admitted to the ER with "shaken baby syndrome," or a ten year old is admitted with welts obviously resulting from whippings with an electrical cord. The suspicion of abuse itself ends the requirement of confidentiality when the abused person is a minor and the observer is already a mandated reporter. Why should abortion or birth control clinic personnel be immune from their legal mandated reporter responsibilities when every other medical person is not?
 
"Could someone in authority please answer these questions?" pleads Cal Thomas as he, like myself, wants to see everything possible done so that (further) genocide bombings on US soil are not "inevitable."

In a similar vein, PontifexExMachina says in response to Tuesday's "rant:"

But we cannot afford to kid ourselves. Nothing is enough short of total victory.

I agree entirely. Do we have the national guts to work for total victory? How serious are we willing to get? Pontifex is right: it's not reasonable to think the US is going to be entirely free of collateral damage. It's not reasonable to expect our armed forces to never inflict any either.

And that will take years. You've got to revamp large sections of government. You've got to win over vocal, influential people. You've got to actually get assets on the ground where they're needed, with what they need. It all takes time. And the enemy only has to succeed once, when we have to stop them every time.

I understand that people want to feel safe, like before Sept. 11. But that safety was an illusion.


 
Universities: "moral wastelands:" says columnist Dennis Prager, and lists some good reasons. Two he misses are:

1) Parents and alumni keep paying out, no matter how liberal the school;

2) When students get federal grants, colleges are forced to accept federal oversight and all its consequences.
 
Mark Shea & I share some e-mail thoughts:

Me: The geocentric guy [Sungenis] is GREAT. I'll have to dig through my bookmarks for a some links from a few years ago on the same topic.

Mark: There's a hilarious argument on Sungenis' site between him and some guy about theistic evolution. Turns out the Pope is "naive" about Genesis, according to Sungenis. The Catholic Church: The Biggest Tent of All. It holds Lefties all the way out to Dorothy Day and Fundies all the way out to Bob Sungenis. Interesting place.


On another tack:

Mark: You linked to Mike Hardy! You are ritually defiled! You are not really a Christian! You are leading the weak-minded astray! I mean that in love, of course. I'll be praying for you to return to the Truth. (Just a dash of satire for the Orthodoxy Cops). Thanks for a great blog.

Me: The Orthodoxy Cops aren't interested in me ...

Mark: You poor guys get it the other way. You've got Spong to contend with.

Me: Yes - except when you're in a great parish (as my husband & I are), Spong seems very, very far away... You're right, though. The Orthodoxy Cops weigh in from the Left in the ECUSA.

Mark: A word from the walking wounded: sudden and horrible surprises can happen in the most secure-feeling communions--or parishes. If you'd proposed to me last Christmas that my communion would be in the fix it is in now, I would have laughed at you. "Hah! Nobody could be that stupid... could they?"

It makes all that biblical language about the Son of Man coming at an hour you do not suspect bracingly vivid.





 
Good work by Israelis as a bombing plot to level Tel Aviv's Azrieli Towers is foiled by the grace of God and the IDF.
 
It's not all due to socialism, says Mark Byron in his Saturday, May 18 bloggings, in response to my off-the-wall remarks about More British Babies, Please. He disagrees on some points but does say:

(5) One area where socialist tendencies have clearly helped lower birth rates is the reduced take-home pay of families due to higher taxes. That means lower disposable income and less money to spend on children, since they are a "consumer good" in the post-agrarian economy.


This would be worse in the European socialisms, with their significantly higher and more "progressive" tax rates, and it's no surprise that European nations have lower fertility rates than the US (about 1.5 children per woman versus about 2.1.)

 
The Wahhabization of Bosnia: In the seemingly elusive hunt for "moderate Muslims," Bosnians seem to be "the exception that proves the rule." They are mostly the descendants of Bogomils who converted to Islam under pressure from Ottoman Turkish invaders in the late fourteenth and fifteenth centuries.

After the Balkan wars in the 1990s, tens of thousands of Bosnian refugees were relocated in the US. St. Louis has a large Bosnian population that's been a credit to the community. Unlike the image of hijabbed Muslims shoved down our collective throats by the media since 9/11, they favor fashionable clothes, run bars, listen to their own rock bands in concert, have beauty contests, and in general live "typical" American lives.

Wahabbi influence in Bosnia itself is strong, however, and Bosnians are now being bribed through "charities" to wear the hijab and send their children to "fundamentalist" wahhabi academies.

While educated Bosnian women scorn these offers (one called the Saudi-financed schools "more suitable for a madrassa in Pakistan than a European education,") poor women in rural areas are taking up the offers.

Ironically, as our dependence upon Arab oil continues, and as our State Department continues to placate both the House of Saud and the religious fanatics who really run that country, our petrodollars pay for the destruction of one the few genuine forms of "moderate Islam" on the face of the planet.

Wednesday, May 22, 2002

 
It's the Renaissance's fault, says a reader:

A lot of what we attribute to the Middle Ages -- autocracy, slavery, suppressed women's rights -- actually came in during the Renaissance. The great debunker of these myths is French scholar Regine Pernoud, who worked with original sources at the Sorbonne and elsewhere such as the voluminous transcripts of St. Joan's trials. A good place to start is her short, pithy Those Terrible Middle Ages.


 
Is "Native American Spirituality" manufactured? Regarding the desecration of the wild rice, a reader writes:

RE: Your comment about Indian religion sounding conveniently like New Age philosophy, well try Sam Gill's MOTHER EARTH (U. Chicago) on how a central tenet wasn't part of any native cult but was "invented" comparatively recently. Indians' love for Mother Earth has been repeated so often it's taken for granted, even by them.

Don't get me started on the hysterical faux-history of "goddess worship," of which this reminds me.


 
Who are you calling "medieval?" John DaFiesole of Disputations doesn't like the term "medieval" when applied to Islamic fringe groups, not-so-fringe groups, and even governments.

My first objection is that using "medieval" this way makes it equivalent to "bad." Children of the Enlightenment that we are, we are to believe that everything that happened before 1500 was backward and repressive and just plain wrong. But some of my favorite people were medievals, and I think the world would be a lot better off today if more people thought about things the way they did.

Whether these characteristics are bad or not is a matter of judgement. It may be uncomfortable to compare medieval Europe or England point-by-point with Wahhabist Saudi Arabia, for instance, and no doubt journalists will grind their own axes accordingly. But the societies *do* have recognizable similarities.

But there is this, too: The word "medieval" (which only dates to the early 19th Century) comes from the Latin for "Middle Ages," and the Middle Ages in question are the Middle Ages of Europe. There's no such thing as "medieval Islam" because there was no such thing as the Middle Ages in the dar al-Islam.

While "medieval" might in the 19th century have referred to a particular phase of European history, I don't think in popular parlance it's limited to that. Features of "medieval" societies include:

- autocratic, non-elected rulers (royal dynasties, caliphs, military juntas or other dictators claiming power by right of descent);

- a distinct lack of free enterprise with protectionist guilds and jobs assigned rigidly by class membership;

- subsistence economy (either pastoral or agricultural);

- restrictions on private ownership (in its most extreme form, all land is owned by the king and use is granted to others.)

- legal, cultural, and economic systems based on feudalism;

- a warrior or knight class (doesn't have to be hereditary) with a warrior ethos;

- theocracy and virtually complete lack of religious freedom.

Countries under Islamic law have many of these "medieval" features; some, like Saudi Arabia, have so many that it's quite accurate to call them "medieval." Dar-al-Islam *is* in its medieval period right now. That's why it finds the West so indigestible.

Islamic-law societies didn't get to "naturally" evolve out of medievalism; they have been forced into it, first through British colonial rule and then through attempts to reconcile "Islamic law" with the modern world.

What complicates the issue is the extreme gap between Western technology and that of sha'ria Islamic societies. To see it a bit clearer, imagine aliens landing on earth somewhere in Europe in 1350. Assuming they didn't eat the Europeans for dinner or wipe them out at once, the inevitable results would be technology transfer, greatly accelerated technical development on the part of the Europeans, and enormous social upheaval as religious, cultural, and social assumptions were challenged.

In the case of Islamic societies, first the British and then we ourselves were and are "the aliens." No Islamic society has made one bolt of a single F-15 that now sits on the tarmacs of Riyadh or Beirut. No Islamic society has made one contribution to the concepts of religious tolerance or fundamental human freedoms exemplified by the Bill of Rights. Like the hypothetical medieval Europeans meeting the space aliens, Islamic societies have to *absorb these ideas* and the digestion is not proceeding well.
 
Do the hijab-wearers know this? Where does Rod Dreher *find* these things? The fundamentalist Islamic "take" on masturbation says it's bad, bad, bad - but bonking slave girls is A-OK.
 
Good for "no head coverings" rules in many area public schools. Hijab = the women's swastika.

(Channelled through relapsed catholic, still fighting the good fight against the Orthodoxy Cops.)
 
On the Blogwalk: Confidence Man takes on Maori bartering customs and how they relate to the economics of e-bay; the consequences of a sizeable "racial gap" in educational performance that's noticeable at kindergarten; why art education furthers academic success; and the unstated assumptions behind homeschooling "statistics." Check him out.


 
But we LIKE Boba Fett: Paul Musgrave of Hoosier Review points out that casting a faux-Hispanic (actually Maori) actor as Boba Fett is a *compliment,* because Fett is one of the best-loved characters in the Star Wars pantheon. See his other good points here.

I might also add that Boba Fett's name is no doubt a secret message urging "fat acceptance" - since Fett auf Deutsch means "fat." Not that Boba is, of course, but these propagandists are sneaky types.

Tuesday, May 21, 2002

 
First they came for my wild rice... then they came for my corn on the cob. Has it occurred to anyone else that these American Indian theologies all sound like garden-variety New Age religion?
 
Sick of "terror threats:" If there's a serious risk, *do* something. How about leaving the little old ladies and toddlers alone at the airports? Get down and p-r-o-f-i-l-e some Middle-Eastern men. I'm sure El-Al would be glad to provide a consultation.

How about immediately suspending all student visas from suspect countries? A visa is a *temporary* permission to stay in a country. It is a privilege, not a right. Send those who are already here home, and don't issue any more to those from the list of "usual suspect" countries.

How about suspending travel visas from suspect countries? Yes, I know they can just drive in from Canada - maybe a little *profiling* on the part of our border guards might be appropriate at this point?

I'm sure the Saudis will really squawk, but it's time for the Republican administration to answer the question: Which side are you on? The House of Saud, which thinks Jews put Muslim children's blood into Passover bread, or 280 million Americans?

Our government did some smart things on 9/11: all commercial air traffic was grounded. Dipweeds in private planes who didn't think the ban applied to them found themselves staring at the business end of F-15s. Various bridges were closed. Most important, the border with Mexico was closed.

We can act effectively when we want to. But why are we kowtowing to Abdullah and Fox - two leaders who need us far, far more than we need them?

I'm sick to hear the head of the FBI call US *genocide* bombers "inevitable." No, you pusillanimous excuse for a public servant, they're not *inevitable.* It's your JOB to make sure they're *not* inevitable.

Why are we tolerating this interference with our lives, our festivities, our right to travel to our national monuments? Closing the Statue of Liberty while allowing potential terrorists free access to our country is not only "letting the terrorists win," it's criminal and intolerable. Or it should be.

Whose rights are more important, Abdullah's, or American citizens? Whose rights are more important, the terrorist masquerading as an engineering student or tourist from Saudi Arabia, or American citizens? Whose rights are more important - the genocide bomber sneaking into our country, or American citizens who expect their government to *keep them out?*
 
No guns in cockpits: What a stupid idea. You trust a man to pilot the equivalent of a fully loaded guided missile, but he can't have a gun.
 
Enemy of the Church? is Mike Hardy's blog about Life in the Catholic Church from one gay man's perspective.

This is as good a time as any to make The Announcement. I mention and link to All Kinds of People. A reference means there's something there I find interesting or worthwhile or unique - not that I agree with every single point. I turned my Orthodoxy Cop badge in a long time ago.


 
Blogging is like chamber music... Many of the best blogs I read are done by professional writers as freelance ventures. Others like Rod Dreher blog as part of their magazine employ.

What about the amateurs like me, Your Non-Working Girl?

Until the invention of radio, just about every educated person knew how to play an instrument. People would get together in each others' homes and make their own amusements at parties. They would have chamber concerts, recitations, put on plays and pantomimes. (Remember the "Ruth" pantomime in DH Lawrence's "Women in Love?") Much of this home entertainment was unpaid, although in wealthy homes it got quite elaborate: people had sets built, had rooms full of costumes, etc.

Something like that is happening here. The difference is that you don't have to all fit in the great room of the country house to watch the play or hear the string quartet.

Nor does this amateurism take away from the professionals, whether it be music or writing. Amateur musicians are often found in the concert hall. Similarly, the more one writes, and the more one reads good writers, the more one improves - and one's taste for better writing increases. It's a win for both amateurs and professionals.

Monday, May 20, 2002

 
Why we won't invade Iraq: Check out Derbyshire's NRO article. Is THAT ever depressing, but I think he's right. I want to make President Bush AND the whole State Dept. (starting with that Affirmative Action Secretary Powell himself) sit down and watch the old Star Trek episode, A Taste of Armageddon. They think war is something they can plan and sanitize, to keep it "politically acceptable." Guess what. It doesn't work that way.
 
Who's going to deliver the babies? asks Wendy McElroy. Malpractice insurance costs are driving obstetricians out of the baby business, as many simply refuse to do deliveries. They're too afraid of getting sued for any neurological impairments.

The solution: States need to allow doctors to practice "bare;" i.e. without medical insurance. If the hospitals won't give them privileges without insurance, they should be allowed to set up their own free-standing birth clinics. The key here is *informing the patients.* Patients should have to sign six ways from Sunday that they *understand* the doctor is not insured. If there's no "deep pocket," there's far less chance of lawsuits.

Obviously patients who intend to sue should the slightest thing go wrong will not go to that particular doctor, but who would want them as patients anyway?

While there are some doctor-run alternative birth practices out there (like this one in Chicago), the majority of doctors won't step outside the "standard of practice" line because of the risk-management issues involved. Allowing doctors to practice "bare" would encourage far more diversity in medical practice, including doctors returning to home birth and (I can dream, can't I?) even house calls.
 
Girls and Video Games: Found this fascinating site on blogger.com's "notable blogs" feature called ludology. It's about the philosophy and cognitive science of videogames (development, programming, use, etc.) It contained an interesting article on why women don't seem to be highly represented in the videogaming development world.

The claim is that women don't study enough math and science in high school (true), but there's more to it than that. For one thing, not as many teenage girls are gamers to start with. The customer base for videogames, in the US at least, is still largely young men, and the biggest sellers tend to be either military strategy games, shoot-em-ups, or something which combines both.

A sample of one obviously isn't worth that much, but I would spend money monthly on games that involved deep and complex back stories with lots of relationships and interactions; emphasized a "deep" environment that lent itself to exploration and "walking around," and kept the battles and apparently meaningless puzzles to a minimum. (In fact, "turn off battles" would be most welcome.) I don't claim to represent "what women want" in videogames, and this may be a function of age more than gender, but I want to lose myself in a story world that's worth staying in - interestingly, the same reason I would read a good fantasy novel.

As it is, I haven't bought a game since Exile, and quit that in disgust because it emphasized puzzle over story.

Finally, I wonder how women engineers find the game development environment. I would hazard that a young woman engineer would be more likely to design flight-sim software for a big defense contractor than try to break into the gaming world. Once she's racked up a few years experience at Boeing or Lockheed-Martin, there probably isn't all that much crossover from one corporate culture to another.
 
Conditions for lifting the Cuban embargo were listed by President Bush in a recent speech. Given the abysmal human rights conditions and the rabid anti-Jewish sentiments in Arabic/Muslim societies, inquiring minds want to know: when will the same conditions be dictated to Saudi Arabia? Perhaps this list might help:

_Allow opposition parties to speak freely and organize.

_Allow independent trade unions.

_Free all political prisoners.

_Allow human rights organizations to visit [Saudi Arabia] to ensure that the conditions for free elections are being created.

_Allow outside observers to monitor 2003 elections.

_End discriminatory practices against [Saudi Arabian] workers, [especially women.]


If you were a Christian woman, would you rather live in Cuba or Saudi Arabia?


 
X-Files conclusion better than it could have been: You knew Chris Carter was going to throw a bone to the "Shippers" (fangirls who lived to see a "relationship" between Mulder and Scully.) You also knew that the pair just were *not* going to settle down in a nice brownstone in Georgetown. Since virtually every significant moment in this show for the past 9 years took place in a cheap hotel room, that seems to be the course of their life together.

Chris Carter can be forgiven his paranoic liberal post-9/11 detractions ("shadow governments," "secret military tribunals," "Super Soldiers," and showing men in uniform as brutal thugs) because that's apparently Who He Is. The show went off the rails *long* before 9/11, however. At first the collapse seemed to begin after the move from Vancouver to Canada, but now I think it began to implode after the cancellation of "Millenium."

Why? Millenium was the soul behind X-Files. While spiritual warfare broke through the surface occasionally on X-Files, the real conflicts went on in the dark underground of Millenium. Of course Millenium had to die - the year 2000 came and the world did not dissolve or explode - but in a way it took X-Files with it.

Some unanswered questions: Are Doggett and his partner going to tie the knot and take care of Gibson Praise? Will William be the savior of mankind or the anti-christ on December 22, 2012? (Since he was left with a "fundamentalist" family I tend to suspect Carter in a future movie would cast him as the anti-christ.) Will Frank Black get out of the mental hospital and team up with Mulder and Scully in 2012? As you can see, there are many movie openings here...

Sunday, May 19, 2002

 
The former president KNEW about Al-Qaeda's threat, writes Eric Olsen in an exhaustive essay that's crystal clear - if you're not a Bush-whacking pusillanimous pundit, that is.
 
Harry Potter is anathema in some circles... Mark Shea went to a homeschool conference and committed the cardinal sin of *defending Harry Potter.* He didn't ask me, but I could have told him what was going to happen.

Mark channels a Cornerstone article where Mike Hertenstein claims:

J. K. Rowling, on the other hand, while acknowledging the literary influence of Lewis, has never claimed to share his faith. ...

Oops. A Christian Times article says:

Few Potter-bashers know that author Rowling is a faithful member of the Church of Scotland who clearly states, when questioned, "I believe in God, not magic." Last year she told a Canadian reporter that her Christian faith "seems to offend the religious right far worse than if I said I thought there was no God." She added, "Every time I've been asked if I believe in God, I've said, 'yes,' because I do. But no one ever really has gone any more deeply into it than that and, I have to say that does suit me ... If I talk too freely about that, I think the intelligent reader—whether 10 or 60—will be able to guess what is coming in the books."

 
"Stripper's Kid" case raises point about vouchers: I've been watching the "stripper story" with a bit of morbid fascination. At first her child's Christian school wasn't going to let her finish the school year, which I thought tacky and uncharitable. How much damage can Stripper Mom do to the school's morals in three weeks? Now at least they'll let the kindergartner finish the year and go to the pool party. That's nice.

However, there's another point to consider here. This is after all a private school, and private schools get to *discriminate.*

Dr. Dobson made his radio remarks asking parents to remove their children from California public schools because he thought they were uniformly bad. Whether this is true across the board or not, there's another half of the equation - private schools are *selective.* Parents may indeed pull their kids out of public school, but that does NOT mean they'll find a private school to accept them.

Right now, at least, private schools *don't* have to take every child who comes to them. Right now, at least, they *can* refuse children who have learning or behavior problems, or whose family situations make it so that *other parents* don't feel the values of the school are being upheld. (Two mommies, perhaps?) They can do this (right now, at least) because they are entirely *private.*

Now for the big question. If this Christian school were accepting vouchers, would it still be able to pick and choose its student population and set standards for families?
 
"Attack of the Clones" racist, so say Hispanic critics.

"He looked totally Latino," says Martina Guzman about Temuera Morrison, the actor who plays Jango in "Attack of the Clones."

Only problem is, Temuera Morrison is a native Maori New Zealander.

What is there, a patent on cafe-au-lait skin tones, that only Hispanic people are allowed to have them?
 
Young people find newspapers irrelevant because there are too many "old, white dudes" on the front page.

No wonder the 18-24 year old set wants only to read about music, movies, and celebrity gossip. They claim to be interested in "international news" but have no interest in "politics."

I see this as a consequence of extremely poor education, even in so-called "good" schools. "Good schools" may do well teaching math, science, computer programming, and the mechanics of reading and grammar, but they are entirely falling down teaching history and *classic* literature.

Wars are incomprehensible to those who know virtually no American or world history. People who fail to read the *classics* of literature have no foundation for interpreting the events around them. People who read only "modern realistic fiction" can understand nothing but soap operas, and thus cannot interpret events in their broad scope.

Saturday, May 18, 2002

 
Missouri state legislature adjourns and we can all breathe a great sigh of relief - safe again for another year. This is how some bills fared.

Some winners:
- Priests and other clergy are now "mandated reporters" for child/sexual abuse. This one flew through like a greased pig.

- Gas tax hike goes to the voters. Even if the masses pass it, we only have ourselves to blame, which is better than some states.

- The dead get to vote only provisionally for the dead in Missouri now. If a dead or otherwise unregistered person shows up at the polls, his ballot will be put in the "provisional" box until his temperature (uh, his voter registration) can be determined. In other words, if there aren't enough Democratic votes, just open the "provisional" box and start counting.

Some losers:
- The giant stadium welfare bill. I guess it's a little tacky to spend prodigious sums on a ballpark when the state doesn't even have the money to refund MO citizens' income tax refunds in a timely fashion.

- Homeschoolers dodged a bullet this year as the bill extending compulsory school attendance from 16 to 17 in St. Louis and KC got crushed in the stampede. It passed the House and was voted "do-pass" by the Senate education committee, though, so like scabies it will be all over us again next year.

- Concealed-carry can come up for referendum. State reps are still too gutless to pass it themselves.
 
On the VCR: Not Without My Daughter.

Viewing this film after 9/11 freezes your spine.

Betty Mahmoody's husband tricks her into going to Iran for what she thinks is a two-week vacation; forces her daughter into an Islamic "school,"; beats Betty up in front of her daughter; locks her in an apartment room that's just about blown up by an Iraqi shell.

She finally gets her passport back 18 months later when her husband generously allows her to return to the US - alone - to visit her dying father. This provides the opportunity to snatch her child and flee to Turkey, with the help of some mysterious underground Iranian dissidents.

Obviously some are still in a snit over Betty and Mahtob's escape, even fifteen years later, while a Eurofeminist whines about how Betty has undermined multiculturalism.


 
On the blogwalk: This guy is *funny* and really different.
 
More native British babies, please: Yes, giving tax breaks to parents and outlawing abortion would help, but the fundamental reason for the birth dearth among those with any intelligence is socialism. This is true for the US as well.
 
They haven't seen anything yet: Eurowatchers at the NYTimes claim Europe is reeling from the "ascent of the right." Wait 'till they see what happens when the first nation decides it's through with the EU and tries to pull out.

Meanwhile, Turkey still wants EU membership and Austria complains. Things must be desperate in Turkey to consider joining the EU. Why couldn't we have made a NAFTA-like treaty with Turkey instead of Mexico?

Friday, May 17, 2002

 
Bogus Jedi "celibacy:" This article waxes eloquent about "Jedi celibacy" in Star Wars: Attack of the Clones:

The film does, however, develop the Star Wars universe in other ways. Not only is there the revelation that the Jedi are celibate, but we also see the first wedding in any Star Wars film, complete with clergyman and witnesses (even if the witnesses are Artoo and Threepio). Both celibacy and marriage are positively depicted; Padme and Anakin explicitly reject the possibility of "living a lie" by tacitly violating the Jedi rules, and Anakin, not yet a Jedi, must choose between Jedi knighthood and marriage. In our present cultural climate, it’s refreshing to see these complementary vocations taken for granted as valid institutions in a fantasy story of this sort.

Problem is, this so-called "Jedi celibacy" seems to have been cut out of whole cloth for Episode II.

It's Lucas's story and he can do what he wants with it, but when there's a whole corpus of Lucas-approved material out there depicting married Jedi, this just looks like bad plotting. I'm sure dedicated fanboys and girls can turn up more; I found these examples:

In the Star Wars novel Heir to the Empire, Luke marries fellow Jedi Knight Mara Jade. The teenage Star Wars guru of the house informs me that Luke also had a complicated relationship with some female entity named Callista who ended up incarnating in the body of one of his students. It sounds worse than it probably was.

Jedi Ki-Adi Mundi (in Episode 1: Phantom Menace and also from the Dark Horse Comics Star Wars series) sits on the Jedi Council and is not only married but polygamous as well.

The Star Wars Encyclopedia, pg. 289, describes how far in the distant past Nomi Sunrider was married to Jedi Knight Andur and had a daughter, Vima Sunrider. (So obviously Jedi marriage wasn't an "innovation.")
 
Muslims of honor: Introduced to us by Jeff Jacoby. They sound like good women and men all; wish there were more.
 
Look to the Left: No, not politically. The permanent links on the left change every few days or so, so you might see something new there.
 
Let's roll in Iran: Read this outline of a plan for revolution. It involves:

- Actually funding the US-based Iran TV station. Iranians have secret satellite receivers and would appreciate well-crafted pro-freedom propaganda. Older Cold Warriors will remember US-provided mimeograph machines smuggled into the USSR. Same thing.

- Topple Saddam & his government.

- Don't invade Iran; give Iranians the tools they need to bring down the theocratic dictatorship on their own.


 
Israeli troops on the move: Into Jenin they go.
 
More Purdah delenda est: Even the Berkeley feminists are starting to get it (channelled through Andrew Sullivan.)

The overall effect of multiculturalism is that it is often male supremacy in a PC package.

American women should be very suspicious when someone tries to guilt trip them on the evil nature of the United States. Though it's far from perfect, the modern U.S. still offers enormously more freedom for women than these traditional cultures we are pressured to welcome. If in doubt, how about a pleasant solo vacation to Egypt? Iran? Mexico, perhaps? Or, closer to home, how comfortable is a stroll near the local day-labor hang-out?

.... Why then would American women choose to import cultures with such misogynist practices in the name of “diversity?” Like male Americans, they were not asked. The Immigration Act of 1965 was supposedly designed to remove obnoxious racial restrictions from earlier legislation. In fact, it exceeded that mandate and instead created a wholesale imbalance toward immigration by cultures that support practices like polygamy. Immigrants are welcomed from countries like Sudan (home to slavery, genital mutilation), Laos (where arranged marriage for girls as young as 12 is normal) and Saudi Arabia (in which women may neither drive nor vote).


The anti-Catholic screed at the bottom doesn't invalidate the truth of the comments about theocratic Islam.

Thursday, May 16, 2002

 
Purdah delenda est: This Aussie Jewish writer encourages out-babying the enemy in Israel.

What she fails to take into account is that Arab women have all those children largely because they're *forced* into it. It is not possible to "outbaby the enemy" when one's enemy basically keeps his population up by rape, hideously young child marriage (between 12 and 15 sometimes), polygamy, and what amounts to incarceration.

We recognized during the Cold War that freedom for Russians & Eastern Europeans would not be possible until the Communist social structures and governments were *demolished.* The same is true here. Were Arab women (and other Islamic women under sha'riah) truly free, some would *choose* to have larger families, but many would not.


 
Vaccines derived from unborn baby cells: Amy Welborn mentions a critical point about vaccines and points us to this link, which has a table showing all the US vaccines made from the aborted-fetal cell lines. Notice there are *no* alternatives to chickenpox, rubella, and hepatitis-A in the US.

This question has always bothered me, and maybe some of the Catholic blog cluster can answer it. If embryonic stem cell research is wrong because the "research material" comes from abortions, why is it that Catholic schools in most dioceses *require* immunizations for which there are no fetal-cell-line-free US alternatives?

Further, why is it that while public schools in most states recognize "religious exemptions," I hear stories of Catholic parents who aren't allowed the same in private or parochial schools?
 
Question of the Day: and it's a *good* one. Rational pirate Corsair (channelled through Insolvent Republic of Blogistan) poses the question: given no other choice, would you rather live in a Communist dictatorship or under jihadist Islam?

Blogistan thinks it's a tough call, but not me. I'd take communism any day. Why? Because even communism is based in the real world. Communism is a Western "heresy" - but still Western. Sooner or later those under communism perceive the truth, and you see the results in the photos Corsair provides.

Here's another test. Look at the refugees we get from Communist countries - the Cubans of Miami who faced down Janet Reno over Elian Gonzalez. Ayn Rand. Svetlana Alliluyeva. Andrei Sakharov and Elena Bonner. The excellent Vietnamese communities who go *nuts* if someone displays a communist Vietnamese flag. Chinese graduate students who beg for asylum from "one child" policies.

Refugees from Communism have immeasurably enriched our country, because they know where they stand and often are willing to fight for freedom, since they risked death to achieve it.

Where are the refugees from jihadism, who are willing to renounce these mad systems? Look what we get, as Linda Chavez points out. With perhaps the exception of Ibn Warraq (who lives in hiding) and the small Iranian samizdat movement, there are virtually none. What kind of society so thoroughly kills the human spirit that even the slightest resistance seems impossible?

I'll take my chances with the Communists, and never thought I'd live to say it.
 
Rod Dreher changes his vote and so would I. In The Corner Rod Dreher reveals that the late Pim Fortuyn was a "man-boy love advocate." While it doesn't invalidate Fortuyn's immigration position, Dreher points out:

It's interesting to reflect on why, if Fortuyn had written (in Dutch) about his sympathies for pederasty, nobody in the Dutch media made a big deal about it. Were they just not paying attention or, more troubling, did they just not think it was such a big deal?

 
Islam and modernity: Islam is incomparable with modernity, says Front Page's Jamie Glazov, because the practice of the religion is designed to completely suppress free will.

He describes the washing, bathing, bathroom-going, and other personal daily rituals "demanded" of devout Muslims, and comments, I can’t help from observing that this sounds like obsessive-compulsive disorder.

It's fair to point out that not all Muslims follow these practices, and that some Muslim groups are almost entirely "Westernized" (like the Bosnians who have settled in cities like St. Louis and St. Paul, MN.)

A further point is that Islam has a fundamental concept of God that leads to such practices and others more disturbing.

God is seen as the "Master" and man as the "slave" in Islamic theology. A slave never thinks for himself; his obedience is blind and often he's killed if he strays. This kind of rigid Islam has a "great chain of being" that begins with God, then the man, then the women who are his personal slaves, then the children, who are property of the father. It's no surprise that de facto if not de jure slavery still exists in countries under Islamic law - why should slavery be considered wrong if God Himself is the Uber-Slavemaster?

This is what animates the murder of "apostates" in countries under Islamic law. Any deviation from "fundamentalist" Islam is in fact a slave rebellion.


 
Off come the veils for off-duty US miltary women stationed in Saudi Arabia, thanks to a unanimous Congressional vote.

It's about time. Now perhaps Congress would like to tackle the question of US military personnel being denied their fundamental rights to publicly worship God as Christians and Jews.

Or perhaps they'd like to reconsider this State Department fiction that our soldiers are there as "guests." Our soldiers are there for one purpose only - to protect US oil interests. We should make it very plain to Abdullah and company that you sell us oil and don't screw with us or our people, and we protect your barbaric society from Saddam.
 
Proposed anti-homosexual marriage amendment opens a can of worms. The text reads:

Marriage in the United States shall consist only of the union of a man and a woman. Neither the Constitution or the constitution of any state, nor state or federal law, shall be construed to require that marital status or the legal incidents thereof be conferred upon unmarried couples or groups.

The big problem I have is with the part that says "or the legal incidents thereof." There are many things that can be considered to be "legal incidents" of marriage which *should* be applied to anyone that wants it. Nor does this have anything to do with homosexuality per se.

For instance, let's say a widow lives with her unmarried sister and the two of them are raising the widow's two minor children. If these two sisters want to *legally* treat each other as "virtual spouses" for all practical purposes under the law for the purpose of raising those children, in essence what they want are the "legal incidents" of marriage.

This would include the sisters' joint rights to make medical decisions for the children or for each other; rights of inheritance; even the right to file a joint tax return with both claiming the children as dependents.

Obviously this has nothing to do with homosexuality, but rather with creating a stable *legal* environment in which to raise children or achieve some other social good. It is the essence of "domestic partnership" *without* any sexual component whatever.

In some states these "legal incidents" are easy to acquire under state law. In some they are very difficult. But individuals shouldn't be prevented by the Federal government from obtaining those benefits if their state law permits them.
 
Iowa court rules against prayer at graduations: This is a tough one for me. On one hand, I hate to see expressions of Christianity cut out of public life. I rejoiced when "God Bless America" appeared on school marquees and public buildings after 9/11.

On the other hand, this Iowa court ruling (based on the 1992 Lee v. Weisman decision) sounds harsh and irreligious but may be important in protecting us from state-sponsored incursions of non-Christian religions.

Christians can't have it both ways. If one religion is encouraged by the government, "equal protection" demands that it be extended to other religions. If the majority of children in a district are "fundamentalist" Muslims, and the prayers are Muslim prayers, then these would have to be legally acceptable. Allowing the school-sponsored teaching of the Bible as religion (as opposed to history or literature) opens the doors to teaching the Qu'ran as religion.
 
Dutch Christian Democrats seem to be the big winners in yesterday's elections.

The numbers: 150 seats total in Dutch parliament
Pim Fortuyn's List: 26 seats (+26)
Christian Democrats: 43 seats (+14)
Socialists under Kok: 23 seats (-22)
Liberals: 23 seats (-15)

According to the AP wire, The most likely coalition to take office would be a three-party alliance of Christian Democrats, Pim Fortuyn's List and the Liberals, which would command a comfortable 92 seats in the Second Chamber, the dominant body of parliament.

No doubt we'll hear lots of bleating all week long about how "Europe is moving to the far right," although Rod Dreher today points out that what is considered "right" in Holland is "weak tea" indeed. Even so, baby steps are better than none at all.

Wednesday, May 15, 2002

 
Wahhabi demolition squad update: Laura Bush wants to save Afghan art from wahhabi depredation. Nor are these demolitions anything new:

... the Saudis are obsessed with having all ancient tombstones, mausoleums, and Sufi shrines located near mosques eliminated, since -- unlike most Muslims in the world today -- the Wahhabis believe these to be "un-Islamic" and idolatrous. ... "The Wahhabis, with their wealth and fanaticism, are a menace to heritage, in some ways more dangerous than the [Serb paramilitary] Chetniks, since about the latter, at least, no one harbors any illusions regarding their uncharitable intentions."

They're worse than the Communists - at least the Reds left something over to be restored after the fall of the wall.

 
Kashmir terrorists gun down women and kids, again: This article makes my shoulder valkyrie spin. What business does the State Department have playing the same "leash law" game with India that State has been playing with Israel all these years?

Look at the parallels here. Israel is supposed to sit tight and let its women and kids get blown to bits by Palestinians. India is supposed to practice restraint while under attack from Kashmir secessionists. In both cases the sovereignity of the nations and their internal peace and order are actively threatened on an ongoing basis by jihadist militants, and our State Department wants to rein the attacked countries in.

Why? For oil? Personally, I'd pay more for oil knowing that both India and Israel were free of jihadist attacks.

 
Socialism with a smiley face: Kathryn Lopez in yesterday's The Corner asks if sneaking kids into public schools in other districts isn't "a little choice, perhaps?" I suppose you could spin this as a school choice issue, but I look at it from the standpoint of a taxpayer.

Why shouldn't school districts monitor residency? In states where local real estate taxes pay for the bulk of the cost of public education, school districts are accountable to the taxpayers of *that* district before anyone else.

People who attempt to send their kids to school in a high-tax district while living where taxes are lower by half (or even more) are *freeloaders.* That's the essence of socialist redistribution, to grab something not yours because you believe you're "entitled" to it.
 
The good uses to which one Saudi writer puts his Yale education: Read his rant, a riff on "We will bury you" in the current Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI.)

Check out MEMRI and read what the "Arab street" *really* thinks.

 
False accusations always a danger: Catholic friends have expressed concern about priests being falsely accused of child abuse under any newer, stricter diocesan policies. It's not unheard of, as this story of foster parents shows:

The report found that managers gave little credence to the stress foster families face when they are falsely accused of abuse or neglect by a troubled child.

The investigations leave foster parents feeling "insulted, distrusted and potentially labeled as child abusers," the report said, and it is particularly traumatic to be "accused of the very thing they are trying to prevent."

"It happens daily," said Karen Jorgenson, who directs the National Foster Parent Association. "We need to have a process whereas the foster parents are not `guilty until proven innocent.' They remove all the kids from their home immediately, before they do their investigation, even when some of the kids making allegations have a history of making allegations."


 
On the Blogwalk: Louder Fenn has some interesting comments on Catholic artists and censorship within the Catholic Church from Saturday, May 11. He also is interested in Children's Fantasy and Christianity.

Tuesday, May 14, 2002

 
A reader writes on vouchers: You make some sobering points regarding vouchers on your site, but the fact remains that without vouchers, many who would wish their children to receive a Catholic/Christian education will instead be forced to send their children to public schools. Do you have some other plan in mind, or do you feel that it is just too bad for those folks?

Most other countries in the world seem to be able to deal with this "problem". The U.S. is one of the few developed countries in the world (and even a lot of third world countries could be included) where private/religious schools are prohibited from receiving educational tax money.

Certainly, this might involve unwanted gov't intrustion, but that is philosophically the problem of the government, not a problem with the idea of educational tax money going to private schools in the first place.


I don't really have "another plan in mind," because right now there are three major "options" in education: public school, home schooling, or private (including religious) schools. Private school tuition is expensive, but in reality there is no such thing as a "free education" with the other options. Good public school districts come with the pricetag of high housing costs & high taxes. With homeschooling, many families lose the full-time income of one spouse (usually the wife.) It all costs. The trick is balancing out the costs vs. what the family can handle vs. what's best for the child.

Second point: One reason the US is so highly religious in comparison to other first-world countries is (I believe) because the government has far less involvement in religion here.

I disagree that this government intrusion would be "the government's problem." I think it's in the public interest to have as little government regulation of private schools as possible, if private education truly is to be an alternative to public. So yes, government regulation would be not only the problem of every citizen, but especially of the members of whatever religious body, who will find that unless they do accept government subsidies, they won't be able to maintain religious schools at all.

The truly independent religious school would go the way of the truly federally-independent college.

There is another final point to consider about government funding of religious schools. The 14th Amendment basically provides for *equal treatment for everyone* under the law. If Catholic or Protestant schools get voucher money, so will fundamentalist Muslim schools. Given what I read after 9/11 from wahhabi-sympathetic Muslim private school students and teachers, I'm not so sure that's a good idea. But you can't pick some religions over others when the tax dollars are dispersed.
 
What's next? Imaginary blogs: Mark Shea channels to us GK Chesterton's blog.

This spawns all sorts of possibilities: Meeting of Minds blogclusters, as well as blogs of imaginary characters. (I think the teenagers call them "fanfics," but what do I know.)

Also check out Mark's review of The Matrix. Earlier I called The Matrix "fiercely incarnational;" it's not Gnostic at all unless you fall asleep somewhere during it and lose the thread of what's real, what's illusion.

One of Mark's readers disagrees, claiming that The Matrix is gnostic because it emphasizes "salvation by knowledge" and the "deep alienation of the characters" rather than any specifically anti-incarnational theme. Interestingly, the Eucharist itself used to be "secret knowledge," revealed only to the catechumen in stages. As far as alienation goes, if you're a Christian on the face of this earth and are *not* alienated to some degree, you've overdosing on your Paxil again. Of course we're alienated here, because our true home isn't this earth, but the real Zion (which the film also points out.)

Whether the sequel lives up to its promises and shows any serious understanding of "the real Zion" is another question. The Matrix however makes my list not only of great technically-Aussie films but films with deep underlying Christian themes as well.
 
Seattle priest supervised by parole officer: After investigation, a Seattle priest has no charges filed against him, yet for five years has been under the supervision of a "parole officer" hired by the chancery.

It sounds like the agreement is "consensual" and is essentially a "condition of employment." Employers can ask for background checks, drug tests, psychological testing, etc. However, the priesthood is generally thought to be more than mere "employment." If it is, there are a lot "better" jobs out there from a worldly point of view.

The man was investigated but no charges were filed, presumably for lack of evidence. Under law this man is *presumed innocent.* If suspicions still exist then inactivate the priest entirely and send him to hoe the cabbages at the monastery. Otherwise stand behind him. Say to God, the public and everybody that prosecutors found nothing to charge him with and presume his innocence.

Good priests no doubt find this situation very demoralizing. The tide of genuine allegations comes with a backwash of false accusations that will ruin lives and result in even fewer men entering Catholic seminaries.
 
Strolling down the blogwalk: Tres producers has a link to a sobering government website chock full of 9/11 statistics. I'm not ready emotionally to start thinking and writing about the 9/11 anniversary yet, but this looks like it will come in useful.

Tres Producer's Eric Olsen also talks about a professor named Swinburne and others who base their apologetics on philosophy and calculating percentages (in an article by Emily Eakin.) Scroll down to see Eric's commentary:

I'm afraid attaching concrete figures like "97%" to the probability of the resurrection of Christ is meaningless at best since the computation still ultimately derives from assertions of pure belief. On this matter I take the Bible at its word that God can only be comprehended with faculties that lie beyond the powers of reason; and logically, either Christ was resurrected or he wasn't: 100% or 0%, there is no in between. Like Schrodinger's cat, Christ is either alive or dead: He isn't 97% anything.

Amen to that, brother.
 
Dress-rehearsal for Kristallnacht at SFSU: Meryl Yourish comments: Things like this don't just make me sick. They make me afraid to be a Jew. Americans need to wake up and stop this kind of hatred.

It should make us all ashamed that we have let multiculturalism and political correctness get to this point on American university campuses.

Meryl also has a somewhat promising response letter from the SFSU president and more information.

Monday, May 13, 2002

 
No accreditation for college teaching creationism: Colleges need accreditation for their students to use federal grants and their teachers to receive federal research money. CNSNews reports that Patrick Henry University in VA will not be accredited because it teaches biology based on creationism instead of evolution.

This is precisely why some conservatives like myself oppose vouchers for elementary and secondary schools. When a K-12 school takes government funding, or when the students themselves receive government funding (as would be the case with vouchers), the government will most likely have a say in the *religious* content of that school's curriculum.

It doesn't matter that the accrediting body is a private group. What matters is that the government uses the accrediting body's recommendation to determine who gets funding.

Nor does it matter that private religious schools would be "free" to refuse voucher students. Private colleges are also theoretically "free" to refuse accreditation, but in reality few of them do, because their tuitions are high and many students would be unable to attend without federal financial aid.

You accept the Queen's shilling, you dance to the Queen's tune.
 
Non-Catholics should shut up about how Catholic doctrine relates, or doesn't relate, to The Scandal, says Joe Briggs (channelled through Relapsed Catholic.)

It seems that most of the criticism of Catholic doctrine is coming from Catholics, not non-Catholics, who at least in my reading tend to be pretty sympathetic and not inclined to bigotry or beating fellow Christians "when they're down."

However, non-Catholics are indeed entitled to their opinion about "zero tolerance" policies for Catholic clergy and staff accused of sexual abuse. This is why:

In many inner cities, most of the children in parochial schools are non-Catholic.

Erring priests have been reassigned to Catholic hospitals as chaplains, and some of these hospitals have pediatric wards. Obviously not all patients in a Catholic hospital are Catholic.

Catholic dioceses and parishes run summer camps and vacation Bible schools which are open to children of all faiths, and Catholic social service agencies serve many non-Catholics, including troubled youth. These staff members need impeccable credentials.

Finally, Catholics interested in outreach to those of other faiths invite children and young people to youth groups and other activities in their parish churches. Those activities bring non-Catholic youth into contact with youth ministers and clergy.

Even in cities like Boston, Catholics don't exist in hermetically isolated communities. The opinions of "outsiders" about doctrine as it relates to the scandals *and* about internal policy issues like zero tolerance are relevant. These "outsiders" come in contact with Catholic institutions and their representatives every day, and are equally concerned about the safety of their own children.
 
San Francisco competes with Europe in the anti-Semitism department. In a letter to Front Page, Professor Laurie Zoloth asks, what do I advise the Jewish students to do? One thought: send them to this organization.
 
Architecture Week redeems itself: The "new urbanists" of Architecture Week hate "sprawl" and think the Pope John Paul II Center in Washington, DC is "sleek" and "fresh" when it's just plain ugly.

However, their Classic Home Collection portfolio is worth a look. Its collection of 29-and-growing bungalows, cottages, tudors, four-squares, etc. includes photos, descriptions, and free downloadable 3-D models, if you want to build a modern version of an early 20th century American house.

Just as the Arts & Crafts movement of the early 20th century offered an alternative to the heavy hegemony of Victorian conformity and clutter, so a renaissance of these designs offers a welcome relief on the home front from both Bauhaus abominations and drywall palaces.
 
Keeping it zipped isn't just for teens anymore: It used to be that when Grammaw and Grampaw got AIDS, it was mostly through the large amounts of transfused blood required for some senior surgeries. Now the Beat and Summer of Love generations as they hit retirement age get AIDS from fooling around.
 
Another business of distinction gets gobbled up: Sears is buying Land's End, according to today's NYTimes (registration req'd.) Great - another place to buy modest and durable clothing for girls and women will probably disappear.

Although Land's End was apparently losing market share to Wal-Mart and other megabox retailers, they were mercifully free of those filmy, undersized, faux-streetwalker styles one sees at practically every major store. (Go here and click on "Kids'" to see their decent and practical girl's clothing.)
 
The "new art" is actually nice to look at: Young Canadian artists put modernism behind them (channelled through Art Journal.) See a Jay Isaac image here.
 
Genocide bombing will spread, warns former Soviet dissident Elena Bonner (channelled through Andrew Sullivan.) She says:

If there is no attempt to fight back against them, very soon the suicide bombers' attacks will spread beyond Jerusalem. Their bombs will explode on the Champs-Elysees, on Red Square, on Broadway, on Picadilly, and on the streets of Peking, Cairo, Baghdad, and Damascus, depending on who orders and pays for the explosion and what are his goals. And the suicide squads may use weapons more dangerous and destructive than bombs strapped to their waists ...

Sudden death will become an everyday occurence, and fear will be omnipresent. The idea that some states will be exempt from the plague is an illusion. You won't escape being eaten by an alligator even if you feed your neighbors to him one-by-one.


Meanwhile, someone apparently gets Bonner's point, even if it isn't the US State Department. Israel's ruling Likud party just voted to never recognize an independent Palestinian state. Good for them.


Sunday, May 12, 2002

 
More blogging around the block: See Katie Granju's Loco Parentis for an all-around antidote to modern high-wire "Palm Pilot mothering."
 
Go check out Tres Producers: They got a kick out of Sandra Miesel's comment about the alcoholic version of "blogging."

They also have an interesting discussion ongoing about the economics and ethics of blogging (going commercial; giving other bloggers credit for cool ideas; etc.)
 
An Illinois reader & voucher supporter says: And, yes, the parochial schools could very well provide an education for 5 to 10 times as many students provided that those students brought their vouchers along with them. .... As for conservatives, "eating their own", I would love to eat my own tax dollars and cook up my own education alternatives.

Why does that distress you?


This article from the Home School Legal Defense Association applies to private schools as well as homeschools. It sums up my views nicely.

Christian writer and speaker Cathy Duffy outlines both the problems with vouchers for traditional private and home schools and why she opposed California's voucher Proposition 38 of a few years ago.

To me, vouchers represent undesirable government entanglement.

 
The true face of Communism: Our wonderful "most favored nation" trading partner China last week dragged five North Korean refugees kicking and screaming out of the Japanese embassy in the town of Shenyang. Now the Japanese are mad, as well they should be.

Time for the US to get out of Japan's way and allow them to get their own army and navy back.
 
Enigma: A+ viewing experience: Based loosely on the cryptoanalysts of Bletchley Park, England, who saved countless lives by decrypting the Nazi messages encoded with the Enigma machines, it combines romance, intrigue, and history while doing violence to none of them. You can take your engineer spouse to this movie - they will revel in the historically-accurate accounts of Enigma decryption, while those of us interested in the more personal side can enjoy the never-overdone romances that have as many lines of connections as the elaborate "cribs" drawn up by the geeks in the back room.

For background reading, check out Rudolph Kippenhahn's Code Breaking.


 
Malaysian head of state soon to visit US. Lock up all the women in bikinis...

Saturday, May 11, 2002

 
The BBC has seen "Christian Zionism" and some leftists find it "frightening." They should find it "embarrassing." - to themselves. Conservative Christians in the US have been behind Israel for decades, but I don't suppose the BBC would know that.