Archive for May, 2007

James Lileks Needs Some Sweet Moola

Thursday, May 31st, 2007

The literary giant is suffering the twitchiness of waiting. Time s t r e t c h e s like marmalade spread thin on a croissant or something. I always believed that knowing was better than waiting and that has proved true every time but once and the one time involved death–something heart breakingly irreversible. Joblessness is not irreversible. So, it’s nice to know. He’ll know tomorrow. Employers always give bad news on Fridays. But don’t worry James, I’m sure good news is given on Friday, too.

In the meantime, he needs some sweet moola. You can help.

More about sweet moola.



Military Motivation

Thursday, May 31st, 2007

Website of the day: Military Motivator.com. It’s modeled after these products, which are motivating, too, in their own dark way.

Update: Oops! Forgot to credit Gateway Pundit who has an interesting post about which countries are most “at peace.” You’ll howl when you see the results. Guess who’s not #1 or #50 or #75? Guess which totalitarian regimes rank highest?

It’s getting harder to believe that the Left’s hate stops at President Bush. All the evidence points to hating America and all it stands for.



What Homeland Security?

Wednesday, May 30th, 2007

Michelle Malkin has a must read post about tireless Washington Times reporter Annie Jacobson’s detailing of an aborted/dry run terrorist attack attempt on a airline flight. The government screwed up, the air marshalls sat impotent, the stewardesses refused to correct the would-be terrorists (funny, they have no problem chiding people about their seat-backs–I hate all forms of petty tyranny) when they engaged in illegal behavior like camping out in a bathroom and standing in the aisles during take-off and landing.

Malkin closes with this: “Homeland security begins not with the White House or behemoth bureaucracies. It begins with you.”



Fred Thompson In?

Wednesday, May 30th, 2007

Watching Fred Thompson’s character talk about abortion on Law & Order the other night made me hope he’d run. Ace wonders if Thompson is a contender or flash in the pan. I vote for contender. Every candidate Republican or Democrat has serious drawbacks. In fact, most have more negatives than positives. Thompson seems to be more positive than negative–humor, easy camera manner, clear positions on issues without seeming strident, experienced and well-liked.

Fred Thompson:
Contender
Flash in the pan
  
pollcode.com free polls


Planck, Consciousness, God & Heaven

Wednesday, May 30th, 2007

Brendan Loy, stirred by research he read in the June issue of Discover, wonders if heaven is at the Planck length. It is an interesting post and worth reading. Loy “discovers” the intersection between the soul, heaven, past lives, consciousness and quantum mechanics.

There are some interesting books that bat these ideas around and I’ll include a couple here at the end of the post. Someone very curious about these questions is the Dalai Lama. He has questioned, challenged and pestered some of the West’s eminent scientists for answers to these existential questions. He doesn’t believe science is at odds with religious belief at all. More than a couple scientists have been appalled by the suggestion that what everyone from Moses to King David and his son Solomon to Buddha to Jesus Christ to the Dalai Lama to Max Planck and David Bohm are all describing the same phenomena in different ways. More than a couple theologians are horrified at reducing the soul to the material.

That doesn’t mean that people aren’t directly or indirectly studying the “soul”. Richard J. Davidson, Ph.D. of the University of Wisconsin has been doing seminal work using functional MRIs to assess the connection between the prefrontal cortex and the amygdala in the regulation of emotion. What does this have to do with the “soul”? Well, Buddhist monks have been studied because they have the ability to control what shouldn’t be controllable–“gut reactions” and emotions.

And where do emotions come from? And why do the emotions of one person affect another person? The discussion of emotions easily stumbles into the area of the “spirit”. (Define “bad attitude” or “bad mood”, for example. Scientists still don’t know what a mood is.) And then there are the notions of shared experiences and how barriers in one part of the species gets broken down and then the whole species can break the barrier. For example, it used to be thought that no one could break the four minute mile, but once Roger Bannister did, lots of people could. This phenomenon is demonstrated in rats and other primates, too. Once one member of the species masters a task, somehow, the information is shared everywhere. But how?

Carl Jung posited a notion of collective unconscious building off of Sigmund Freud’s ground-breaking notion of the unconscious. Still other scientists studying in the relatively new field of evolutionary psychology seek a biological, adaptive explanation for the soul. They probably wouldn’t call it the soul. They’d call it “human nature.” Some evolutionary psychologists have put forth the idea that what many religions call “past lives” is in fact, a form of genetic memory. I personally ascribe to this theory–the idea that the “unused” parts of the cell actually house memory from throughout time. Thus, instincts, inborn morality (innate notion of right and wrong–why do all cultures proscribe brothers and sisters marrying, for example), déja vu, spontaneous language proficiency or foreign accent following brain injury, and other weird neurophenomena can be explained biologically–maybe at the Planckian level.

And then, what of the “sense of being stared at” or, as Bruce Greyson cited in the Discover article studies, Near Death Experiences? We have all felt being watched or described holes being bored into the backs of our heads. This phenomenon has been demonstrated by humans and animals. We “see” without our eyes. We look directly at the source of the staring. How do we do this? We aren’t being touched, at least not physically, or at least not grossly physically. Perhaps we’re being touched at the Planckian level.

For a biblical perspective on the soul here’s an interesting little article. Solomon says this about it:

Ecclesiastes 12:7 “Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return to God who gave it.”

I welcome more research into the mind, soul, and spirit. It is fascinating. Truly, we humans are “fearfully and wonderfully made“. (I’m sorry, but this is where I part with some in the scientific community. It stretches reason to believe the intricate, elegant, complicated, yet simple processes concomitant with life are the result of a Big Bang or “Big Wow” happy accident. A creation demands a creator, and a smart One at that.)

Here’s to the mind that can study the mind.





Home Schooling Considerations

Tuesday, May 29th, 2007

Dana, a homeschooling mom, asked me why I am considering home schooling and what it meant to worry about my “last neuron”. I’ll answer the second question first. I’m a person who needs silence and solitude and lots of it. Some people would argue that parenthood is antithetical to either silence or solitude and I would agree. I look forward to summer vacation and then look forward to school starting again. The kids go back to school. The odds improve. (Only one toddler at home.) Blessed peace during nap time. Blessed peace during Mothers Morning Out when I take the toddler to a church developmental program (play time with a teacher). I love these times. I actually get to finish a task uninterrupted. Bliss. So yes, I worry about my mental health with home schooling. When would I get this time?

The die-hard home-schoolers will snort derisively at my selfishness. I’ve heard a pious home schooling mom say, “You wanted children, right? Why would you entrust their education to the state?” It could be argued that the responsible decision is to send a child to public school. I could easily retort that with some home-schooled children I see, the only teacher they have stinks. Home schooling isn’t magical. Or rather, it’s as magical as the parent who teaches. Let’s face it, some parent’s aren’t magical or even adequate.

My daughter has had truly magical teachers the last two years. Her teacher last year should be bottled and replicated. She was amazing. Her team-teachers this year taught with energy and sensitivity. My son, on the other hand, has suffered in education purgatory, aka Special Education. Special Education is a special hell where no one takes responsibility and the customer gets condemned and excused for performance simultaneously. Finally, we prevailed in getting him placed in a regular education classroom where his teachers and I attempted to make up for two years of under-achievement–by his teachers. He worked doubly hard this year, essentially learning two years of curriculum in one year. All that and he was described by the school as mentally retarded. Right. How many “normal” children learned their times tables up to 12 in one month?

Here’s more about why home schooling appeals:

  • My son does get exhausted working so hard at school, but then we spend one to two hours per night slogging through what he didn’t “get” during school.
  • My son cannot share when awkward or dangerous social situations occur, so we can’t talk about it.
  • My daughter is already talking about other girls and boys who are “boyfriend and girlfriend”. There is kissing. These are second graders.
  • My children can extensively discuss the injustices of slavery and the tragedy visited upon Martin Luther King, but cannot discuss the significance of democracy or freedom.
  • My children can walk in line like soldiers, they can follow rules, but they are having independent thought driven out of them. What happens when they stop coming home and asking questions–all the p.c. garbage gets funneled in unchecked.
  • The educational emphasis is crazy. Content that I learned in college, they’re cramming in in second grade. Earth science to weather to biology to anatomy and physiology to astronomy–you name it, the scientific concept was covered. Why? I suppose it’s for the 50% of kids who drop out of high school. At least they’ll know the parts of a bee. Sheesh!

Anyway, these are the ideas I’m batting around. More thoughts?



Memorial Day: Being Worthy Americans–UPDATED

Sunday, May 27th, 2007


Do you remember life before 9/11?

I do. We really didn’t know how good we had it. We had the luxury of complaining about trivial things. The trouble we endured was mostly personal. Public sorrow was reserved for death by heroism like the Space Shuttle blowing up.

The post-9/11 world simmers with unresolved anxiety and grief. As long as our troops are in harms way in huge numbers, much of the community goes about their business uneasily. I think that’s part of the reason the Left wants the war over. It’s hard to whistle Good Times Are Here Again (even with a booming economy) when vast numbers of the populace worries about their sons, brothers, and friends. It’s unseemly. Many want that discomfort over. The consequences be damned. Everyone just wants a good night’s sleep.

The post-9/11 world removed the shroud. Behind this curtain was a monster that everyone hoped didn’t really exist. Since then, America generally, and President Bush, specifically, has endured no end of derision because we wouldn’t wait for the next attack. Too afraid to see the monster, or too tied to the monster’s success themselves, world leaders scape-goated. What else could one do, if one was determined to ignore reality?

And worse things have happened in the post-9/11 world. Multiple hurricanes have slammed the gulf-coast. Mud slides, tornados, floods, wild fires, tsunamis, and just plain weird weather has disturbed the natural order of things. Or maybe, these acts of nature are the natural order of things. Maybe, we’ve just been lucky. Or blessed.

What these natural disasters have revealed most places, is a tremendous can-do spirit and relentless drive to make things right again. And again. And again. But it also revealed a very dysfunctional community in New Orleans, one that still is not adequately on the road to recovery. This tumult is another source of national anxiety. The leadership vacuum means no one can get on top of it. The individuals there were/are so reliant, so compliant, so passive. The unspoken question: Is this what we’re becoming?

I’m reminded of Ralph Waldo Emerson’s Self-Reliance:

There is a time in every man’s education when he arrives at the conviction that envy is ignorance; that imitation is suicide; that he must take himself for better, for worse, as his portion; that though the wide universe is full of good, no kernel of nourishing corn can come to him but through his toil bestowed on that plot of ground which is given to him to till. The power which resides in him is new in nature, and none but he knows what that is which he can do, nor does he know until he has tried. Not for nothing one face, one character, one fact, makes much impression on him, and another none. This sculpture in the memory is not without pre-established harmony. The eye was placed where one ray should fall, that it might testify of that particular ray. We but half express ourselves, and are ashamed of that divine idea which each of us represents. It may be safely trusted as proportionate and of good issues, so it be faithfully imparted, but God will not have his work made manifest by cowards. A man is relieved and gay when he has put his heart into his work and done his best; but what he has said or done otherwise, shall give him no peace. It is a deliverance which does not deliver. In the attempt his genius deserts him; no muse befriends; no invention, no hope.

Trust thyself: every heart vibrates to that iron string. Accept the place the divine providence has found for you, the society of your contemporaries, the connection of events. Great men have always done so, and confided themselves childlike to the genius of their age, betraying their perception that the absolutely trustworthy was seated at their heart, working through their hands, predominating in all their being. And we are now men, and must accept in the highest mind the same transcendent destiny; and not minors and invalids in a protected corner, not cowards fleeing before a revolution, but guides, redeemers, and benefactors, obeying the Almighty effort, and advancing on Chaos and the Dark.

With all the talk about the government doing more, and the talk that if we weren’t in Iraq, all the bad that America has endured these last few years would be magic-ed away, makes me wonder about the soul of America. I don’t like seeing foreigners marching in my country demanding what another country should do for them. It’s un-American to be so needy.

We’re the country of boot-straps and individualism.

The one place I see the American character alive and well is the one place half our country seems to most scorn: the military. The best, matter-of-fact, intelligent discussions I’ve had about human nature have been with soldiers. Perhaps the stark right and wrong contrasts mixed in with the murkiness of war gives them added wisdom. Not perhaps, it does. Soldiers get fidelity. Their lives depend on it. Most marriages depend on fidelity yet fidelity certainly isn’t a notion embraced in American marriages. Soldiers get sacrifice. Yet in many quarters, sacrifice is laughed at as an archaic notion–replaced by a narcissistic, licentious self-actualization. When a commenter on my blog wrote that any parent who chose to have a Down’s Syndrome baby was selfish, more than a few readers marvelled. Has our society turned everything good inside out? The military, made up of fallible people, at least hold to these ideals. In this post-modern America, the idea of ideals seem quaint.

So, today I honor and remember those who fight and die for freedom. Today is a day to remember those who live and die by ideals once embraced by our whole country. These men and women are the spine of our society. They protect the soft innards. They cradle the future. Without the military, we are not much and won’t last long.

I’m worried that the rest of us have become fat and flabby. We owe it to our fighters to reclaim our moral fitness. We need to remember who we are and where we have come from. We need to stop waiting for the government to save us and look within. We need to take a good look at ourselves and be better. We need to do what Emerson recommends:

And we are now men, and must accept in the highest mind the same transcendent destiny; and not minors and invalids in a protected corner, not cowards fleeing before a revolution, but guides, redeemers, and benefactors, obeying the Almighty effort, and advancing on Chaos and the Dark.

Do we even have the moral fortitude to embrace the idea of “advancing on Chaos and the Dark”? Can we say those words? America has work to do. We have work to do to be worthy of those who choose the profession that daily advances on Chaos and the Dark.

God bless those who choose this fight.

UPDATE: Peter Collier: “We’re the land of the free for one reason only: We’re also the home of the brave.”

Memorial Day from the front by Michael Yon.

Fred Thompson asks, “How can you remember something you’ve never learned?”

Ace calls Memorial Day: “A day upon which we observe the sacrifice of only those soldiers whose deaths can be used as political ammunition against Republicans.”

“If you’re reading this blog, … you can thank a veteran, either one who gave his life in service to his country, or one who gave his youth and health.”

Confessions of a Chickenhawk.

A picture worth a thousand words.

Speaking of words, do you know the words to Taps? A soldier asks Americans to remember this way.

Remembering a soldier and forgetting the movement he inadvertently inspired.

UPDATE II:

Dr. Sanity writes more about the moral war:
Hence they are blind and unable to recognize those who–like themselves–are capable of incredible atrocities on a scale beyond imagining, simply because they do it in the name of some”virtue” or “good”. This blindness to their own nature renders them morally paralyzed and incapable of confronting the threat of evil.

C.S. Lewis wrote:
“Of all tyrannies a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated, but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.”

The cruelty and inhumanity of this or that particular person is manageable–during time of war and during peace. Where a rule of law reigns, perpetrators will be–must be–held to account (see Bill Whittle’s excellent essay that discusses in detail the ramifications to society if they are not).

But the dark is rising again, and its allies, who threaten humanity with their fantasies of a “pure race” or a “pure religion” or a “perfect” society, are loose and once more the singularity that is America must provide the light with which to confront the black, oppressive hopelessness it spreads within and without.

This Memorial Day, let us thank God that there are men and women in the world who are not morally paralyzed by the rabid nonsense currently being propagated by the left; and will not remain silent, but are willing to do what needs to be done to shine the light on that darkness.

And for contrast, here’s Paul Belian’s take on the moral framework in Europe:

Europe is in the middle of a three-way culture war, between the defenders of traditional Judeo-Christian morality, the proponents of secular hedonism and the forces of Islamic Jihadism. In Western Europe, the fight between Christians and secularists is all but over. The secularists have won. Now, the religious vacuum left by the demise of Christianity is being filled by the Muslims. Since one cannot fight something with nothing, the European secularists are no match for Islam.

America cannot afford to replicate the moral vacuum. America is a house divided. I believe we are a country deciding what kind of belief system will define our future.

And here’s what happens when leftists prevail.

Democracy is never free. The fight is never over.



NYT: New Provisions Gain Wide Support of NYTs Writers

Friday, May 25th, 2007

Really? That’s what The New York Time’s blares from its headline, but buried at the bottom there are these findings:

By large margins, people in the poll are aware that the majority of the immigrants who have arrived in recent years are illegal, and 61 percent said that illegal immigration was a very serious problem. A large majority, 70 percent of respondents, said they believed that illegal immigrants weaken the American economy because they use public services but do not pay corresponding taxes.

Did The New York Times ask the people polled if they had read the contents of the proposed immigration bill? Or are the pollsters interpretting the bill for the respondents and asking for a response based on the pollster’s interpretation?

My guess is that the majority of American people want something done about illegal immigration, but hope the Congress is smart enough to figure something out. I wouldn’t bet on it.



Torture, Real Torture UPDATED Scroll Down

Friday, May 25th, 2007

Does anyone seriously doubt what has happened to our three missing soldiers? It’s too horrible to contemplate. Here’s a torture manual from the enemy just in case you’re fuzzy on what torture really is. I get sick thinking about it, so I haven’t posted about it. I’m not in denial. I know what those boys are enduring and my thoughts turn to their parents and wives and girl friends and family and friends. Can you imagine? Yes, we all can.

These incidents make the Left’s posturing about the evil American soldiers all the more laughable. Please. A bra and panties verses a drill to the hand or chopping off limbs. And what of excusing the terrorist’s behavior ala Rosie? Dr. Sanity explains how this explaining plays into the hands of terrorists:

Taking responsibility for their behavior is exactly what all the terrorists of the world expect you to do. Their implicit message is that somehow YOU are the one responsible for THEIR murders. If YOU had behaved differently, then YOU would not have CAUSED THEM to behave the horrible way they did. THEY are the victims, and you are the perpetrators. That is of course the ultimate weapon of the terrorist, isn’t it? To make you feel that you cause their murderous behavior? That the beheadings would not have occurred IF NOT FOR YOU?

These terrorists are the living, breathing face of evil. They were not created by America. They exist with or without America. They hate every Western country. They hate us.

And if they are given a chance, they will torture.

UPDATE: Jeff Goldstein says:

Reached for comment, Andrew Sullivan’s outrage expressed outrage—noting that it would take the rest of the day off so it could “hose itself down, crank up the AC, and read a chapter of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix with a pair of silky panties on my head in a show of solidarity with the victims.”

And Don Surber notes the press’s outrage in the face of the abomination:

Whether intentional or not, the message is clear: The United States must be above even false reports of torture, while the enemy is allowed to promote eye removal, blowtorching skin and horrors I won’t go into.

The handbook shows that the enemy really is perverted and that its “cause” has less to do with global politics or any religion; they are sickos who like to torture people.

As much as I admire and respect John McCain’s war service, he is wrong when he says our interrogation methods encourage the enemy to torture our people. The enemy was torturing and beheading people well before 9/11.

That this does not disturb so many newspaper editors is in itself disturbing.

Glenn Reynolds says, “SILENCE ON TORTURE: Silence is complicity, you know.”

Complicity. Propoganda. Tomato. Tomahto.



Politically Correct Free Speech

Friday, May 25th, 2007

I thought it was free speech to burn crosses. I thought it was free speech to view pornography. I thought it was free speech to burn a flag. I thought it was free speech to say, “death to Americans” in a sermon.

But this is a hate crime? This is the problem with thought police. It always seems that a certain persuasion of thoughts are policed while others are encouraged.