Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Sedition 101

Thanks for the Memory to Lars Larson.

What the hell is this doing on the wall of a public high school in Newport, Oregon?

Image hosted by

Is there an equally large display of recruiting material and accounts of the heroism of those who wear or have worn this country's uniforms? That's what I thought.

And no, don't tell me this is a Freedom of Speech issue. This is a public high school, funded by taxpayer money, and as a taxpayer, I don't particularly appreciate having my pocket picked to display such blatant hatred for our military. To steal a phrase from Billy Joel, you can speak your mind, but not on my time (or dime)!

And if the entire project was done extracirricularly, then again, I ask, has the same access to the school's walls been offered to those who support the military? If there's anyone reading this from Newport, especially a student, I'd like to know that -- is there a similar display of an opposing point of view?

The Return of Fake But Accurate

Thanks for the Memory to Wizbang via The LlamaButchers.

Paging Mary Mapes, paging Mary Mapes. Your legacy's on line 2....

Wizbang comments on an email that was sent to James Taranto at Best of the Web.

Apparently (Can't they just) is pushing a new anti-war ad that shows US Soldiers eating from a dusty mess tent in Iraq, while their loved ones cry at home.

The problem is, the troops in the picture aren't Americans, they're British. Wizbang's article has the before-and-after shots.

Now, that's not to say that plenty of US troops weren't eating Thanksgiving dinner in dusty mess tents in Iraq, and God Bless Them for the sacrifice that was. But here's the point:

The Left (not liberals, the LEFT) claims they support ther troops, but oppose the war. But how am I to believe they give a tinker's damn about U.S. Servicemen (and women) if it's obvious that they haven't even taken the trouble to learn how to recognize them??????

So Much Owed

Thanks for the Memory to The Maximum Leader.

Image hosted by

Sir Winston Spencer Churchill was born on this day in 1874. A Very happy posthumous birthday wish to the Bulldog who saved Britain, and who recognized the threat posed by Communism long before most of the rest of the world did.

It's Life, Jim, But How Do We Know It?

Thanks for the Memory to Ken at Upper Left Coast. I'm not sure how he found my blog, but I'm glad this fellow Oregonian did, because his comment led me to his blog, and I'm enjoying it daily.

Those of you who read both my blog and Naked Villainy may have followed a discussion I had with Smallholder in the comments of a post of his regarding (among other things) abortion. The gist of our conversation was on the merits of arguing abortion on the ideas of "Soul", Humanity, and Life. In it, Smallholder holds to the position that abortion opponents are basing their convicitons on the belief that the fetus has a soul. I argue that the abortion issue comes down to one important question: When does human life begin? Smallholder's response was, "I rarely hear people making the "when life begins" argument, and when I do, the speaker's opinion is almost always reflective of their idea of the soul."

And to a certain extent, I suppose he's right. But I also believe that to a certain extent, it's beside the point. And here's why:

ANY set of ethics that supports the position that murder is a crime is predicated upon the intrinsic value of Human Life. "We hold these truths self evident" etc. Call it a soul, a spirit, a spark of the Divine, consciousness, conscience, reason, self-awareness, sentience. Say it's God-endowed, a result of higher evolution, both, or part of the Cosmic Consciousness. Whatever religious, spiritiual, or philosophical reason you have for believing it, the fact is, that most people believe that life, ESPECIALLY Human life, is precious, and should not be ended without just, reasonable, and compelling cause.

Which brings us to the question of just what defines life, or more specifically Human life, and when does it begin? Does Human Life begin when it gains a soul, or does it gain a soul as a result of beginning? That's the question at the heart of the abortion debate, no matter what else either side tries to tell you. If the fetus is a human being, then it's right to live takes precendence. If it isn't a human life, then it is of no consequence what a pregnant woman chooses to do with it.

And this question is the reason I make reference to Ken's blog. In the comments to a post he made day before yesterday, I addressed a question to another commenter, which echoed Ken's own thoughts. Ken then went on to post two posts yesterday on the same topic. They ask two very important questions:

When does life begin?

Who sets the standards?

So, back to the question of when human life begins, when it gains a "soul". There are four concepts that tend to be discussed when this topic comes up, with certain individuals taking different of these positions. They are: Conception, Awareness, Viability, and Birth. Let's take them one at a time, starting with the argument that life, or specifically, the right of the individual to life, begins at birth, then moving back through viability, to awareness, to conception.

Personally, I find the argument that life begins at birth the least defensible given what modern science has accomplished and shown us, and I'm glad that Smallholder agrees with me. He likes to use the phrase "Magic Thinking", and that's exactly what this position is. Let me use my own experience as an example of why:

As most of you know, my son, The Lad, was born 5 weeks premature. While it was necessary for him to spend a week in the NICU, and another month on a heart and respiratory monitor. Yet from the moment the doctor caught him and then placed him in my arms, to this day, there has never been any doubt in my mind that he was anything but a baby. Yet, had he gone full term, there are those that would argue that TFR should have been free to end his life right up to the moment he was born. This despite the fact that during those intervening 5 weeks, he would have been just as fully developed as he was in the NICU and at home (or more so -- babies' development accelerates during the last few weeks of pregnancy), would have had the same heartrate, the same brain activity, the same physiology. Somehow, I'm to believe that the passage through the birth canal, or the exposure of the uterus to the air in a C-Section, imparts to the infant some quality it lacked only moments before? Who's being superstitious now? I find this particular view not only intellectually untenable, but personally offensive as well.

That brings us to the issue of Viability. This position argues that any fetus that is not capable of surviving outside the womb is not yet truly alive. I have two main objections to this:

The first is well addressed by Smallholder when he comments, "viability is achieved much prior to birth and the window of viability keeps shifting backwards." The simple fact is that modern medicine allows us to sustain life ex utero at an earlier and earlier stage in gestation all the time. There was a time when significantly premature birth was tatamount to a death sentence. Now, that's not the case - while The Lad was in the NICU, he had a neighbor baby who was barely third trimester, yet was expected to survive. If we are to accept the Viability argument, we must also accept a set of shifting goalposts as to when abortion is allowed. To be certain, anyone who advocates abortion on the grounds of viability cannot agree with the widesweeping standards for abortion advocated by groups like NARAL.

The second objection I raise to the viability argument has to do not with the period of gestation at which viability begins, but with the time before that. Specifically, I also object to the viability argument because non-viability is, in the vast majority of cases, a temporary condition. What I mean by that is this: while a fetus before a cetain stage is not viable, barring abnormal circumstances, it eventually will be. This is decidedly different from the issue of, say, removing life support from a brain dead individual, who was viable, and aware, but never will be again. This is also a point at which I depart from many of my fellow abortion opponents -- in that in cases where it is a medical certainty, or even a likelihood approaching certainty, that a fetus is so malformed that it will not survive outside the womb, I believe that abortion is and should remain a painful but legitimate option (I hold to the same belief in cases where there is a serious threat to the life of a mother if the pregnancy is carried full term, since the choice to abort or not to is almost equally likely to end in the termination of a life -- but that is beside this point).

This brings me to the last two arguments, and again, I must disappoint my fellow pro-lifers by confessing that while I lean towards conception, I am not 100% decided between these two, and my leaning is swayed in part by a tendency to "err on the side of caution".

The third criterion that is proposed by some as the standard for when life begins is Awareness. This position argues that until the fetus reaches a certain level of development, and has a certain level of brain activity, it is not aware and is not truly human. On the face of it, this would seem to be the argument that most closely adheres to Smallholder's argument about the soul. And to some extent, I can see the point.

But I have problems with this position as well. By what standard do we judge awareness? Awareness of external surroundings? response to stimuli? Self-awareness? Brain wave activity? Is there any objective way we can determine what level of awareness is required? And are we willing to reconsider such a position as our understanding of the brain increases? My other objection is similar to my second objection to the viability argument -- awareness is something that an unborn child develops into, and so any prior lack of awareness is a temporary state or condition. I have a hard time allowing something as permanent as the termination of what is or could be a human life, simply because of a temporary condition.

But that brings us back to the crux of the issue -- Is it a human life, or just a potential human life? And, not coincidentally, it brings us to the last criterion -- conception. And while that position is the most favored among people who oppose abortion for religious reasons, I would also submit that from a non-religious, purely biological standpoint, it's also the position that makes the most sense. If we've already established that Humans are, for whatever reason, in general deserving of life, regsrdless of our belief in religion, God, a spirit, the supernatural, and we wish to leave those issues out of the equation (for First Amendment reasons if for no other), then we must look to empirical science for a standard by which to judge whether we're dealing with a human or not. And modern genetics tells us that at the moment of conception, the baby can be recognized from its DNA not only as a human, but as a genetically distinct individual, with a DNA signature different from its parents (which to me is a less important point that the fact that it is a human, but interesting nonetheless). Ken makes the same point.

In fact, I'd like to conclude by quoting one of Ken's comments in which he restates the argument at the heart of the issue:

The question of what a woman should do with her pregnancy is irrelevant until — look out, here it comes again — we answer the question of what "it" is: "If the unborn is not a human person, no justification for abortion is necessary. However, if the unborn is a human person, no justification for abortion is adequate."
I couldn't say it better myself.

Happy St. Andrews Day

Image hosted by

Image hosted by

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

An Ace Shoots Himself Down

This breaks my heart:
SAN DIEGO -- Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham resigned his office today after pleading guilty to fraud, conspiracy to commit bribery and tax evasion in a political corruption case.

U.S. District Judge Larry Burns accepted the pleas from Cunningham, 63, including the congressman's admission in federal court that he had accepted bribes in exchange for performance of his official duties
I remember, living in San Diego in the 90's, how greatly I admired Randy Cunningham. He was just breaking into national politics as a maverick. He wasn't perceived as part of the political machine -- he was a straight-shooting, take-no-prisoners, New-Sherrif-in-Town figure who revitalized the GOP in San Diego County.

And his initial claim to fame was even more admirable. He was the first US Navy fighter ace of the Viet Nam war, one of only Two US aces overall, and what's more, he acheived the most spectacular of feats -- he made Ace in one day. He was a key figure in the formation of the US Navy's Fighter Weapons School (Top Gun), and was an advisor on the movie of the same name. He was an active supporter of the military and of veterans.

Now, he's just another crooked politician. This, sadly, is the memory we'll have of him. Not of downing the PRV's top pilot, not of challenging the Status Quo of politics on the Left Coast, but of selling his vote to the guy with the nicest yacht.

I'm sorry, Randy, but even if you voted exactly as I would have on every issue that ever came up for a vote in Congress, it wouldn't excuse this behavior. I used to consider you a political hero, I used to think that if I lived in your district, I'd vote for you. No more. I remember hoping you'd win your first election, now I hope you go to jail.

Hostage Names Revealed

Thanks for the Memory to The Jawa Report.

Blogfather Rusty has obtained video of the hostage who were captured by Islamic terrorists this week. He's also obtained the names of the four hostages:

American Thomas Fox of Clear Brook Virginia
Canadian Harmeet Singh Sooden, who resides in Auckland, New Zealand
British citizen Norman Kember
James Loni (last name unclear) of Canada

Rusty has pointed out in the past why it is important that the names of such hostages be made public and kept public -- the more attention they get, the more likely their survival. Let's keep these four in our prayers, and in our hearts, and in the public eye. They were in Iraq as peace activists, and while I disagree with their political views, I wish no harm upon them.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Variations on a Theme (Or At Least a Slogan)

Image hosted by
What if they held a war (protest) and nobody came?

Thanks for the Memory to The Jawa Report.

Don't Question His Patriotism!

Thanks for the Memory to Mean Mr. Mustard.

You know, every time the debate about the War in Iraq comes up, if those of us who support the decision to go to war criticize the actions or rhetoric of those who oppose it, we're immediately reminded that dissent is patriotic, and that those who oppose the war don't resent the troops, just the leaders who send them to war. They remind us that they support and love the troops, they just oppose the war.

So how do you explain crap like this?

Ted Rall's a horse's arse. And considering the quality (or lack thereof) of the drawing, he can't even fall back on the excuse that it's "art." Well, I take that back. They give paintbrushes to chimps and call the result art, so I guess that Rall's published Pooh-flinging earns the same aegis.

But Judas Freaking Priest on a Polo Pony, can we at least request he (and others who use similar rhetorical devices) drop the freaking charade of "patriotic dissent" and call themselves what they are -- ugly, troop-hating sedition-mongers? Please?

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

No Fooling!

This is so cool!

As a kid, one of the first pieces of Christian literature I read was the comic book version of Through Gates of Splendor, the story of five missionaries from New Tribes Missions and Mission Aviation Fellowship who were killed while trying to espablish contact with the Auca tribe of South America. From that time on, those five were among my heroes, especially Nate Saint and Jim Elliot, who made a comment in his diaries that has become well-quoted among modern evangelicals: He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep in order to gain what he cannot lose.

Well, now they're releasing a movie based on the story. I suspect from the trailer that it combines elements of Through Gates of Splendor with Elizabeth Elliot's epilogue, The Savage My Kinsman.

I'm looking forward to the movie. If you haven't heard this story before, I highly recommend both books.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Who Could Ask for Anything More?

If you're going to dream, Dream BIG.

Dissent is Patriotic, But So Is Dissenting With The Dissenters

Thanks for the Memory to Jeff Goldstein via the Llama Butchers.

Some excellent points and a long quote from VP Cheney's speech regarding Dissent and Patriotism. Jeff writes:

Clearly, the important administration arguments are beginning to coalesce:

And then he does us the service of distilling them for us:

1) Criticism of the war is not by itself unpatriotic 2) Similarly, answering anti-war critics is not challenging their patriotism 3) But opportunistic and cynical anti-war critics who are trying to walk back their own votes and level spurious charges at the Administration (they lied to take is into war) are themselves lying 4) These lies are hurting the country and the troops. 5) The burden of proof, in a post 911 world, was on Saddam Hussein to prove he’d disarmed; we could not wait for the threat to become imminent before acting 6) The cause the troops are fighting for is just and right 7) Iraq is moving toward freedom; and things on the ground are improving daily, regardless of what the MSM and prominent Dems would have us believe.
As an aside, the Comments section for the Llama Butchers' take on things includes an excellent discussion, I was especially impressed with KMR's response to certain memes about the war.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Revenge is a Dish Best Served Cold (and Foggy)

You'll remember that I mentioned Friday that Saturday was the 109th playing of the Civil War, the longest-running rivalry game on the West Coast, as my beloved University of Oregon Ducks hosted the Team from Up the Road, the OSU Beavers. You'll also remember I mentioned a few pieces of Trivia about the game. One little tidbit I didn't mention was the fact that LAST year's game included the highest score by either team in the history of the game, as OSU handed us a 50-21 drubbing.

Well, as The Manolo might say, if he were to care about such things as football, the payback, she is the bitch.

That's right, 56-14. It's probably a good thing for Beaver fans that the weather was so foggy -- they really didn't want to see this.

To give you an idea of how thoroughly the Ducks dominated OSU, a few things to consider:

  • Oregon started both halves of the game by scoring before their offense had even taken the field. During OSU's first offensive series, Aaron Gipson returned an interception 60 yards for the score. Then, Jonathan Stewart returned the opening kickoff of the second half 97 yards -- TD.
  • Late in the game, the Beavers blocked a punt by the Ducks, recovering the ball on Oregon's 8 Yard Line. They failed to score.
  • The Beavers lost one fumble, and threw 3 interceptions. Oregon lost none, threw none.
  • Oregon outscored OSU in every quarter.
  • The Ducks were 2 points short of winning by the biggest margin of victory in Civil War history.
The only sad thing for Ducks fans is that Saturday was probably the last time we'll see junior Haloti Ngata play in Autzen Stadium. Scouts predict that if he goes pro, he'll be a First Round pick, maybe even in the top 5. This is one scary Defensive Lineman. He has the size and strength of a DL, the speed of a Linebacker, and the intelligence of a quarterback. I've seen him break through O Lines, then run fdown RB's from behind. When he rushes the passer, it's with the quickness of a blitz, and NO ONE runs up the middle on him. Furthermore, because he must be double-teamed, he frees up the rest of the line, as well as the linebacking corp, increasing their ability to rush the passer and cover outside runners and receivers. I may not root for whatever team picks him up, but I won't BET against them.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Technical Difficulties

Anyone here know enough about HTML to make that Calvin and Hobbes post look right?

Blogging Progress Goes "Boink".

Thanks for the Memory to The Llama Butchers.

You scored as Calvin.
You are Calvin! You are an obnoxious little
six-year-old who knows way too much to be
getting Fs in school. You know how to have
the best time playing, and can annoy adults
to no end.





Mom and Dad


Mrs. Wormwood




What Calvin & Hobbes character are you?
created with

So I'm still an ADD-addled kid. Oh, well, at least I get to be Spaceman Spiff.

So I'm still an ADD-addled kid. Oh, well, at least I get to be Spaceman Spiff.

Hundred Years (and more) War

It's Rivalry Weekend in the Pac-10: Wazzoo/U-Dub, Berkeley/Stanford, USC/UCLA, UA/ASU, and of Course, Oregon Vs. Oregon State.

Rivalries are, in my mind, the best part of college football. And UO/OSU is as intense a rivalry as you can find. Oh, sure, there are longer running rivalries, older rivalries, rivalries between bigger teams, more storied teams. USC/Notre Dame comes to mind. The Army/Navy Game is America's rivalry. Texas/Oklahoma. The list goes on. But for all their fame, when it comes to a deep-seeded, intense rivalry, ours can't be topped.

Don't believe me? Think that just because we're not as legendary of programs as other teams, our rivalry can't be as intense? You're wrong. And I submit to you my proof:

Think about what most rivalry games are calleD: The Game. OK, that's impressive, using the definitive article -- "There is no game but the game...." Or The Big Game. Other teams have trophies or symbols of the game: The Oaken Bucket, the Axe, the Apple Cup. There are rituals and activities, etc. surrounding these games.

Now let me tell you what WE call OUR rivalry, and have for generations:

The Civil War Game.

That's right. We have a war every fall, have since 1894. This is a game that temporarily divides families, communities, ruins friendships for an entire weekend. This is the Must Win Game every year, regardless of the win/loss records of the teams coming in to the game. This is the game that produced the NCAA's last recorded scoreless tie, in 1983's "Toilet Bowl". This is a game traditionally played through mud, and fog, and rain, a game that breaks hearts or makes spirits soar. I hate to give the Beavers and publicity, but this article from the OSU Alumni Association has some interesting information on the rivalry, including the year it wasn't played due to a riot after the previous year's game (that was in 1910 and 1911).

This year, the game actually has postseason implications. OUS is at .500 and need the game for a winning season. UO is at 9-1 (6-1), and ranked in the polls and the BCS. A win would give them a shot at the Fiesta Bowl, and pretty much Guarantee the Holiday Bowl for them (especially if USC defeats UCLA, a likely outcome). So this year, what happens in Autzen Stadium means something in the rest of the country.

But of course, it ALWAYS means something here.



Thanks to Blogfather Rusty for pointing out that USC actually plays Fresno State this weekend. Apparently, two of the PAC-10 Rival games (USC/UCLA and ASU/UA) aren't until NEXT weekend. My Bad.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Half As Lonesome As His Sound

Last night there was a tribute to Johnny Cash on TV. TFR forgot to tell me about it, so I only caught the last half. That was disappointing enough, but then I caught the show, and it was almost as disappointing. Oh, the performances were pretty good, but they just weren't, you know, JOHNNY. I guess there's just no way around it, the Man in Black ain't coming back.

Ironically enough, the song that disappointed the most was one sung by someone who originally sang it. Kris Kristofferson performed Sunday Morning Coming Down, backed up by the Foo Fighters.

I'm sorry. I know the song launched Kristofferson's career, but they sucked last night. Kristofferson's part of the song had that "Last Karaoke of the night drunk and off tune" quality to it, while the Foo Fighters sounded unsurprisingly but still disappointingly high-pitched and whiny.

No, once Johnny himself sang the song, no one else was ever going to do it justice ever again.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Einstein and Politics: Imperial Quantum Entanglements

Forth Eorlingas

Thanks for the Memory to the Llama Butchers.


To which race of Middle Earth do you belong?
brought to you by Quizilla

No surprise there, I've always been fond of the Rohirrim (Used to get that funny tingly feeling reading about Eowyn long before the movies ever came out. A babe who can handle a sword. Rowr). Noble without being sanooty, and I value loyalty highly. I didn't even try for this result.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Anyone Know a Serviceman Overseas?

TFR and I took The Lad Trick-or-Treating, becase we couldn't resist the chance to show off how darned CUTE he looked in a pumpkin costume. But he's too young to eat the candy, so we've decided to send it overseas to someone enlisted in the US military serving in Iraq or Afghanistan. Trouble is, we don't KNOW any. So I'm asking my readers for help: Do you have a friend/loved one serving their country overseas, preferrably in a war zone? If so, let me know, we'd like to send them some junk food. There's enough that we could probably split it up to send to 2 or 3 service personnel, but we need an address THIS WEEK.

I'm keeping this post top of the blog until friday. Thanks.

The GOP finally Grows a Pair

Thanks for the Memory to Blogs for Bush.

It's about time!

For some time now, those of us who have all along supported the PResident's decision to invade Iraq, and who have defended him against specific claims regarding the war, have bristled when asked why he wasn't defending himself. And we began to ask the question ourself -- not because we believed, like his detractors, that he couldn't, but because we knew he could, and should, and it frustrated us that he wouldn't.

Well, now he has.

From the Blogs for Bush entry:

President Bush, in his speech earlier today, finally answered these critics directly:
While it is perfectly legitimate to criticize my decision or the conduct of the war, it is deeply irresponsible to rewrite the history of how that war began. Some Democrats and anti-war critics are now claiming we manipulated the intelligence and misled the American people about why we went to war.

These critics are fully aware that a bipartisan Senate investigation found no evidence of political pressure to change the intelligence community's judgments related to Iraq's weapons programs. They also know that intelligence agencies from around the world agreed with our assessment of Saddam Hussein. They know the United Nations passed more than a dozen resolutions citing his development and possession of weapons of mass destruction. Many of these critics supported my opponent during the last election, who explained his position to support the resolution in the Congress this way: 'When I vote to give the President of the United States the authority to use force, if necessary, to disarm Saddam Hussein, it is because I believe that a deadly arsenal of weapons of mass destruction in his hands is a threat, and a grave threat, to our security.' That's why more than 100 Democrats in the House and the Senate, who had access to the same intelligence voted to support removing Saddam Hussein from power.

The stakes in the global War on Terror are too high, and the national interest is too important, for politicians to throw out false charges. These baseless attacks send the wrong signal to our troops and to an enemy that is questioning America's will. As our troops fight a ruthless enemy determined to destroy our way of life, they deserve to know that their elected leaders who voted to send them to war continue to stand behind them. Our troops deserve to know that this support will remain firm when the going gets tough. And our troops deserve to know that whatever our differences in Washington, our will is strong, our Nation is united, and we will settle for nothing less than victory. (emphasis added)

Thank you, President Bush. We couldn't have said it better ourselves. Although, to be honest, we HAVE said it more OFTEN. It's nice to see you return to the form we so admired, have finally showed yourself to still be the man for whom we voted.

Inquisitive, not an Inquisitor

Smallholder over at Naked Villainy has been posting a series of posts on Intelligent Design and religion, specifically on those who hold to a literal translation of the bible. I made a comment on one of the threads, and he replied. I feel compelled to reply here, since this gives me a much larger space to express my thoughts.

Let me start by saying that yes, Smallholder, to answer your first question to me, I do believe in a literal translation of the Bible. I believe it is the inspired Word oof God, and that it is true in its entirety. Despite this, you may be shocked to learn that:

1. I do not advocate the burning of witches or heretics (though for Oakland Raider fans, I'll make an exception).
2. I do not believe the Earth is flat.
3. I do not reject the heliocentric Solar System.
4. I do not believe that all matter is made up of the four elements (Earth, Wind, Fire, Water). Though if I did, I'd argue for the existence of a fifth: Grooviness.
5. I do not hold to a view of medecine governed by the balance of bile, phlegm, vapors, Funk, or whatever. I have a rudimentary but modern grasp of biology.
6. I am not a literal 7-day creationist. I would probably best be characterized as a "Theistic Evolutionist", though even that term is fraught with all sorts of complications.
7. I bathe.
8. I am (at least semi-)literate.
9. I did not marry my cousin.
10. I don't think that other ethnicities are Mud People" or "Cursed of God".

I know, this may surprise those of you out there who, like Smallholder, ask, "Why is it that the most hateful Christians wrap themselves in the cloak of literal translation? And why does their literal, inerrant translation ignore the words of the Bible that aren't congruent with their hatred? "

That's a good question, and one that troubles those of us who wrap our literal translations in the cloak of love.

The best answer I can come up with is that Smallholder's "Cloak" imagery is appropriate, since what such people do is merely a disguise -- Wolves in Sheep's clothing (if it's alright for me to actually apply a biblical term). I suspect that such individuals came to the Bible already holding to certain hateful beliefs, and then cherry-picked the Bible for bits and pieces to support their prejudice. then they couched their argument as "Just following what the bible says". But This is no more being faithful to a literal translation than any over-tolerant liberal view of scriptures. This is just bad biblical scholarship. But I'll get to that later.

I'm afraid Smallholder has committed several logical errors in his assault on literal translation of the Bible.

The first error is that he's assumed that "All A are B, therefore all B are A". This does not follow. Specifically he has decided that since certain narrow-minded, bigoted, hateful, individuals who hold to certain unscientific, uneducated, archaic beliefs also claim to believe in a literal translation of the Bible, then anyone who believes in a literal translation of the bible must be a narrow-minded, bigoted, hateful, individual who holds to certain unscientific, uneducated, archaic beliefs. But as you can see from my disclaimer, that is not the case.

The second error he commits is the fallacy of False Dilemma. He tells me that I must either reject a literal translation of the bible or accept certain very absurd beliefs. This completely ignores the possibility that I might accept a literal translation of the bible, but reject said beliefs as misrepresenting what the Bible actually says. What he's done is accept that there is only one proper way to "literally" translate the bible.

Notice the similarities between the two errors. I'd submit that they both stem from the same root cause, Smallholder's final error, and the error also committed, ironically, by those with whom he takes such issue. And that error is to engage, as I've said, in poor biblical scholarship.

I'd like to take a moment first of all to address what I mean when I say I believe in a literal translation of the Bible, because that may be the source of the confusion.

Caveat Emptor: While I grew up the son of an excellent pastor, and have SOME Bible College education under my belt, I'm by no means a Theologian. I'm sure my good friend David A. Reed could address this better than I. But I'll do my best.

When I say that I interpret the Bible literally, this is what I mean: I believe that the Bible is Divinely Inspired, that it is inerrant and self-consistent, and that what it says is so, is. However, I also believe in interpreting the Bible Literarily. By that I mean that the Bible, while true, is also a piece of literature, and as such must be read as one.

Divinely Inspired means God-Breathed, not God-Dictated. God inspired the writers to write certain truths, but he allowed them to write them in their own style, while at the same time ensuring that the writer's style did not interfere with the accuracy of what they wrote. It was a partnership between the Holy Spirit and the writer that I'm sure only they understand.

But this means that the writers of the bible wrote in certain styles, used literary devices, and themes, turned certain phrases in certain ways to convey not only facts, but ideas and emotions, to evoke specific moods. The Bible is a story, or a series of intertwined stories. As C.S. Lewis once said, it's the Myth that happens to be True.

So when we interpret the Bible, in order to do so literally, all that is required is that we accept that what it says is the truth. To then go on and interpret it literarily, we must pay attention not only to WHAT truth it presents, but HOW it presents it. This means taking into account things like style, device, context, etc.

Furthermore, there are a few other important concepts to take into consideration: One of these is the idea that the Bible does not attempt to present itself as speaking authoritatively on EVERY topic, only those topics on which it DOES speak. And it's important to pay attention to what it DOESN'T say as much as what it DOES -- whether remaining silent on an entire topic, or leaving certain things unsaid about a topic it DOES address.

Let's use the scripture Smallholder uses (misuses?) as an example:

And Jacob took him rods of green poplar, and of the hazel and chestnut tree; and pilled white strakes in them, and made the white appear which was in the rods.
And he set the rods which he had pilled before the flocks in the gutters in the watering troughs when the flocks came to drink, that they should conceive when they came to drink.

And the flocks conceived before the rods, and brought forth cattle ringstraked, speckled and spotted.

And Jacob did separate the lambs, and set the faces of the flocks the ringstraked, and all the brown in the flock of Laban; and he put his own flocks by themselves, and put them not unto Laban's cattle.

And it came to pass, whensoever the stronger cattle did conceive, that Jacob laid the rods before the eyes of the cattle in the gutters, that they might conceive among the rods.

But when the cattle were feeble, he put them not in; so the feebler were Laban's, and the stronger Jacob's.

Now, William Bennetta (and by his assent, Smallholder) would have you believe that the Bible is presenting this as a description of how genetics works. This just isn't so. What they are overlooking is context. It may come as some shock to Smallholder, but the Bible has quite a bit to say about Jacob prior to this passage, and after. It may also be a surprise to learn that reading the other things the Bible has to say about Jacob might reveal something (or things) about Jacob's personality and character, as well as his family history, that would shed some light on this passage.

Among the things we would learn is that his family, from his grandparents down through his parents, and including him, have a tendency to take promises God has made to them, and then take them into their own hands. In other words, They would believe God was powerful enough to accomplish things, but then decide they were clever enough to figure out HOW God would accomplish them, and take it upon themselves to accomplish things in that manner on God's behalf. They tended to get into all sorts of trouble by doing this -- see also Ishmael.

So let's take this situation. God had told Jacob he would bless him, and would increase his flocks until he was richer than his Fasther-In-Law. He DIDN'T tell him how it would happen. So Jacob decided it would happen by running a con on Laban.

HOW he did it, or THINKS, he did it, is also indicative of another family trait -- all the way back to Abraham, Jacob's family had been reticent to completely abandon their pagan, polytheistic practices. You'll notice that the passage leading up to this section never says that Jacob fashioned the funky woodwork under direct instruction fron God -- he just did it. I wasn't sure why, but a cursory Google search of bible commentaries produced this, which postulates that it was some form of superstitious practice common in the region.

That commentary makes another point that is important when interpreting scripture: Just because the Bible describes someone as engaging in a particular practice, doesn't mean the Bible is endorsing that practice.

Finally, with regards to the end result of the passage, namely, the fact that Jacob's flocks WERE increased, and Laban's decreased:

God had told Jacob that it would be so, and God keeps his word. When God acts, his actions supercede the normal laws othat govern the physical world. That's because God is not confined to the physical Universe, and thus not bound by its laws (laws that he himself put in place). Under normal circumstances, he allows those laws to run their course. But if he chooses to act outside of those laws, he is free to do so. This is the definition of a miracle. And that's what happened in this case. God's miraculous increase of Jacob's flocks intervenes in the normal process of genetics -- it does not negate those laws. To claim that God made an expection in one case is not to claim that this disproves those laws in all cases. And furthermore, God's blessing on Jacob was in disregard of Jacob's little tree-cutting escapade, not because of it. The passage is describing a sequence of events, but is not claiming causality between them:

Clyde M. Woods says:

"There seems to be no valid scientific evidence that the procedure Jacob followed would ordinarily work, although ancient peoples had confidence in such devices. later, Jacob learned that his success was due, not to his ingenious and somewhat questionable devices, but rather to God's providential care which prevented Laban from defrauding him (see Genesis 31:7.9.12)."
Let me make one more point:

In the quote Smallholder posted, Bennetta makes the following comment:

"To persons who imagine that they can learn about nature by rejecting evidence and reason in favor of ancient tribal tales, biblical genetics will certainly look like great stuff. I commend it to the fundamentalists' attention. "

I understand that these are Bennetta's words, not Smallholder's. However, I cannot beleive that anyone can characterize the Bible as merely "ancient tribal tales" without being hostile to Christianity as a faith. Why do I say that? Because Christians are, by definition, followers of Christ. And throughout the New Testament, Jesus, the man we accept as being The Christ (Messiah), presents as his credentials, his fulfillment of the Old Testament Scriptures. After reading from Isaiah in the synagogue, he proclaims to the crowd that the words of Isaiah have been fulfilled before them that very day, meaning he was claiming to be himself the fulfillment of Isaiah's prophecy. He said of himself that he came not to abolish the law but that through him it might be fulfilled.

John wrote of Christs crucifixion:

"When the soldiers crucified Jesus, they took his clothes, dividing them into four shares, one for each of them, with the undergarment remaining. This garment was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom. Let's not tear it, they said to one another. "Let's decide by lot who will get it." This happened that the scripture might be fulfilled which said, "They divided my garments among them and cast lots for my clothing." So this is what the soldiers did."
John 19:23-24

Paul wrote of Christ:

For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures,
1 Corinthians 15:3-4 (NIV)
Now if Christ is claiming authority on Earth based on the teachings of the scriptures, and the scriptures are merely "ancient tribal tales", then I see no reason to grant him any greater authority or claim to my allegiance than any tribal Shaman who has ever spoken. The only reason for me to be a Christian, i.e. a Follower of Christ, is if the Scriptures are the Divinely Inspired word of God, and therefore the authority they ascribe to Jesus Christ is that of God Himself.


OK, TWO points. The other:

In the comments to one of his posts, Smallholder makes the claim, "Literalists have tried to supress heliocentrism."

I'd like to point out to him that that's not the case. Or at least, not the kind of literalist I claim to be. Specifically, those who tried in the past to supress heliocentrism were the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church. You'll note that the RCC believes that Church Traditions and other extrabiblical teachings hold as much weight as doctrine as does the bible itself. And it is based on these doctrinal sources, I would argue, that they opposed heliocentrism. But most post-reformation non-RCC Christians, especially modern evangelicals, like myself, hold to the doctrine of Sola Scriptura, or Scripture Alone. Any other teaching, tradition, etc. is subject to Scripture, and should be used only to expound upon it. And if you take that view, and apply the principles of Biblical Interpretation I mentioned above, you'll see that it is quite possible to be a literalist and still recognize that the Earth orbits the Sun.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Lies About Lies

Thanks for the Memory to The Llama Butchers.

I commend to you Norm Podhoretz' excellent essay on the lies about WMD's and who's really telling them.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Quote of the Week

"France, and the whole of Europe have a great culture.... I'm afraid that the American culture is a disaster. "
- Monsieur Johnny Depp

Image hosted by
A firefighter looks at a fire in a burning car in Gentilly, south of Paris. (AP Photo/Michel Spingler)

Thanks for the Memories to Beautiful Atrocities.


As a rebuttal, I'd say that picture's worth MORE than a thousand words, but for those who need it spelled out, here ya go.

Thanks for THAT Memory to Gary the Ex-Donk via The Llama Butchers.


Back when I lived in San Diego, before I met The Feared Redhead, I had a favorite Italian Restaurant, a place called All Italiana in La Mesa. It was my favorite for several reasons. It had great food -- the owner, Davide, learned to cook working at his family's restaurant on the adriatic coast of Italy. It served a Lambrusco I favored (my taste in wine in those days ran WAY over to the sweet side). I knew the owner personally (we had mutual friends, and occasionally got together to play cards). Best of all, it was not very well-known or advertised. There is nothing more pleasurable in a good restaurant dining experience than knowing it's a secret. Eventually, Davide's little restaurant became more to me than just a favorite restaurant. It became a place I took friends to let them in on my little secret, an act of gourmand intimacy.

When Davide needed to update his menu, I cut him a deal -- I would do the graphic work on my computer, if he would let me make a special custom version of his menu, which I used to propose to The Feared Redhead on October 19, 2000. Her menu was different from all the other menus in the restaurant that evening in that it listed my love for her as an entree. The head waitress, Davide's sister, snapped pictures of the proposal, and our meal that night was comp'ed.

One of our favorite dishes at All Italiana was not an entree, it was Davide's tomato basil zuppa. It was delicious. Since then, we've tried many, but none have come close. Until last night. Experimenting (ok, putzing around), I came up with a recipe that, while not quite as magical as Davide's, was darned good:

Almost Davide's Tomato Basil Zuppa

2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/4 Cup finely chopped onion
1 Tbsp minced garlic
1 Bunch fresh basil
1/4 Cup red wine
1 Tbsp dried basil
1 Can Trader Joe's Whole Fire Roasted Tomatoes
1 Can (15 Oz) Tomato Puree
1/4 cup whole milk
1 Tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
1 Tsp salt

For garnish: extra virgin olive oil, dried basil, fresh basil leaves, grated Parmesan cheese

Prep: In a blender on puree (low speed), blend whole tomatoes until only very small chunks are left.

in a soup pot, heat 2 tbsp of Extra Virgin Olive Oil over medium high heat. Add onions and garlic, sautee until onions are transparent. Julienne 4-5 medium or larger fresh basil leaves, add to pot, continue to sautee until the basil is wilted. Deglaze with 1/4 cup red wine. Add the blended whole tomatoes and the can of tomato puree, use the puree can to add 15 oz. of water. stir in 1 tbsp dried basil, 1/4 cup whole milk, 1 tsp salt, pepper to taste. bring slowly to just below a boil, reduce head, stir in 1 tbsp of grated parmesan, simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.


Rim soup bowls with extra virgin olive oil, then with dried basil. Ladle soup into bowls. Garnish with a fresh basil leaf, sprinkle with grated parmesan and chopped fresh basil.

Prep time: 10-15 minutes
Cooking time:15-20 minutes
Serves 4

Monday, November 07, 2005

Raising More Than Spirits

Just got a letter from the family of Jacqui Propst, the little girl I've been encouraging my local Oregon readers to support:

Thanks for the prayers and for the support : ) The pizza fundraiser brought in just over $1000 and although we don't have solid numbers yet, the silent auction and dinner last night raised over $5000. With a few other donations and fundraisers that haven't cleared the fund yet, it looks like we will hit our fundraising goal just before we leave. Thanks so much for your help in getting Jacqui to New York!

I don't know, nor do I NEED to know, how many of my readers gave, or how much. But assuming the answer is more than zero, a big thanks to everyone!

Thursday, November 03, 2005

One More Reason to Homeschool

And no, I'm not talking about childhood illnesses.

Thanks for the Memory to The Loft.

In a recent ruling, the 9th US Circuit Court ruled against parental rights. In a case involving material used in a Sex Education class, the court ruled that:

"There is no fundamental right of parents to be the exclusive provider of information regarding sexual matters to their children. … Parents have no due process or privacy right to override the determinations of public schools as to the information to which their children will be exposed while enrolled as students."

Is that so? Well, then, I guess my child won't be enrolling as a student in a public school. It may take a village to raise a child, but it's going to take a hell of a lot more than that to tell me HOW to raise him.

DeFazio: DeFoe of DeFree Speech

Thanks for the Memory to the Gay Patriot via Darth Apathy.

The U.S. House has defeated a bill that would exempt blogs from McCain-Feingold Campaign Finance Reform.

That means that the law remains as it stands, and blog entries are now considered political contributions, which must be reported under McCain Feingold.

Here's the part that burns me: Guess who voted against it?

Vic has it covered regarding the fact that the Democrats in general were opposed to a bill that would have protected our right to free speech. the part that angers me, but doesn't surprise me, is the presence of one particular name in the Nay column:

Peter DeFazio (S-OR)

Oregon's long-standing socialist weasel, of course, would oppose this. Over the last year I have seen the number of conservative bloggers in Oregon explode. Wouldn want us raising our voices to actually disagree with you, now would we, Pete?

With Enemies Like These, Who Needs Friends?

Thanks for the Memories (and, as always, for their service) to the men at Camp Katrina.

They've written an excellent article on the latest shennanigans by the Democrats in the Senate, and how it relates to the behavior of the left in general.

Anyone who read my blog back during the days leading up to the election will recall that for me, a major theme was the ugliness displayed by many on the left in their opposition to the President and to the GOP. It was my assertion that far beyond their ends no longer justifying their means, that often these people were engaging in means that detracted from their ends.

The Katrina Campers agree.

Go give it a read, it's good stuff, and it's first-hand, too.


Case in Point.

Thanks for the Memory to Vulture Six.

The Ears Have It

Thanks for all the prayers on Tuesday for The Lad.

Turns out it isn't RSV, he just has an ear infection. Which is unpleasant enough -- he was awake all night Tuesday night, kept both of us up, and I had to miss work yesterday to help care for him.

He's feeling better today, which means I'm back at work, despite the fact that now MY throat and nose are bothering me.

So once again, thanks for the prayers.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Prayer Request

TFR called. She has made a doctor's appointment for The Lad, who has a bad cold. Not usually a big deal, kids get them all the time, but as a preemie he's succeptible to RSV.

Please keep us in your prayers.

I'm a Frayed Knot

Thanks for the Memory to Vulture Six.

It looks like the case against Tom DeLay is unraveling further. The judge presiding over his case is being removed from the case for conflict of interest after it was revealed he's a contributor to political groups like

Let's see:

One indictment for an activity that was not illegal at the time it occurred.

A second indictment for "laundering" funds, despite the fact that the funds were raised by the activities in indictment #1, and if the activity wasn't illegal, the money by definition can't be laundered.

A third indictment rejected by the Grand Jury.

And now they've lost their sympathetic judge for a (hopefully) more impartial one.

Ronnie Earle and his allies must be grinding their teeth.

Democrats Take Government Hostage

Senate Meeting Behind Closed Doors.

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Senate prepared to go into closed session Tuesday after Democrats enacted a rare parliamentary rule forcing the shut down of the Senate so senators could speak in a classified session about the lead-up to the war in Iraq.

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid demanded the chamber be closed so they could hold a secret session that they say was prompted by "misinformation and disinformation" given by President Bush and his administration prior to entry into the war in Iraq.

Oh, for Pete's Sake! The claims of misinformation regarding the war are highly debated at best, and in some cases clearly debunked.

It is becoming clear that the Democrats are desperate to damage the administration in any way they can, and it's even clearer that their influence in Congress is in full wane. With the resurgence of Conservative influence in stopping the Miers nomination, and with the likelihood that the left will be all but powerless to stop Alito, they're grasping at straws. But here's the part that really burns me:

During a closed session, the chamber is shut to cameras, a security sweep is performed, and then Reid introduces a resolution calling for the launch of "phase two" of the intelligence committee's investigation.

"It is within the power of the majority to close down the closed session. They can do it by majority vote to return to the legislative calendar," Durbin said. "We're serving notice on them at this moment: be prepared for this motion every day until you face the reality. The Senate Intelligence Committee has a responsibility."

In other words, they're going to hold the U.S. Senate hostage until they get what they want. How long does the "security sweep" take? How long does it take to call for and vote on a return to the legislative calendar? How much of EVERY FREAKING DAY is going to be wasted by this childish little tantrum on the part of the Democrats?

Apparently, the Democratic Party is determined to see to it that the ship (of state) goes down with THEM!


I. Scooped. Ace! (Not that he's much for being the latest breaking news, but hey, you take what you can get)