July 29, 2011

Turning 50

It was a fun birthday.  Even though I am not really a Birth-day kind of guy.

Tina arranged, via Facebook, a karaoke outing with with my work crew b-day eve, Keeka and Kirby in tow as well.  It was a pretty good turn out.  I did not choose the best songs to sing. Two of them being way out of my range. I did save my best (Soul Man) for my last tune.

I worked early the next morning and large amounts of caffeine buoyed my, already flying high spirits.  I received a happy birthday from everyone (was even sung the Swedish Birthday Song).  There was some honest disbelief that I had hit the half century mark, with a caveat being a wish they had similar energy and fitness level when they reached this number of solar orbits.

The Happy Birthday part was expected, the latter was not.  That kind of accolade made my day, multiple times over.

July 11, 2011

Raise Taxes?

Obama didn't raise taxes in a lame duck session when he had 59 Democrats in the Senate and almost 260 in the House.

Scratch an atheist, find a Fundamentalist.


Zac Alstin Notes a Basic Principle. Namely, he recognizes that when you scratch an atheist, particularly a New Atheist, you will typically find a passionately religious (albeit flatfootedly moralistic and literalistic) Fundamentalist.
I can’t tell you how often I have gotten mail from people who tell me they don’t believe in God and then almost instantly reveal that they are furious with him.  Sometimes they are furious with him for not existing, but much more often they are furious with him for not doing something they badly wanted him to do.

That’s not stuff for mockery by the way.  Because many and many a time the something God was supposed to do was “save my daughter from death by cancer” or “keep my wife from committing suicide” or many other variations of the tragedies with which the world abounds.  Many “atheists” are just broken-hearted people who can’t stand the thought that a good God would allow to happen the shock that shattered their world.  For such folk, prayer and love, far more than logic-chopping argumentation is necessary thing.  Many an “unbeliever” has felt the walls of ice melt between them and the Joy of Man’s Desiring after a wrenching, cleansing, gasping cry of pain and gush of tears after years of frozen rage.  Seldom has that happened because somebody hammered them with an apologetics syllogism about papal infallibility.  They needed healing, not a sound defeat in a debate.

That said, there are also any number of callow youth whose problem is not some dark wound, but simply that they are callow youth who have read some dim dumb thing that Richard Dawkins wrote or clicked on a diatribe by Christopher Hitchens and decided they are the intellectual heroes who will make them feel superior to their high school sophomore class.  These people too cannot be converted by argument because nobody can be converted by argument. Nobody can be converted by your winning smile or my clever words or his watertight philosophical proof.  These things can be prelude to conversion and rational human beings can come to acknowledge things by the light of natural reason.  But only the Holy Spirit can do the heavy lifting of opening a human heart and mind to the light of divine truth.

That means that the first thing a gung ho evangelical atheist needs is prayer, not argument.  The prayer is not so much for conversion as for de-conversion.  Because a realio trulio confirmed atheist already has a deep religious belief.  What he needs is not faith (he has that: faith in the three pound piece of meat behind his eyes).  Nope, what he needs is right faith: in God and not himself, his brilliance, his rationality, his pride.  And no mortal power can disabuse him of that wrongly ordered faith.  Only God can.

Of course, not all atheists are of the gung ho militant variety.  Some are atheists because, well, they were just raised outside any living encounter with actual faith.  Indeed, I have known a number of atheists who range from curious to wistful about faith in Christ, as though it would be nice to believe if they could, but for whatever reason the inner “click” hasn’t happened to make the life of living faith in Christ real to them.  Once again, prayer is the first thing, since only God and convert.  At the same time, such atheists are often quite open to having a real conversation about the Faith.  Such folk are often treated with profound contempt by the shallow noisy atheist Fundamentalists who have a script and are stickin’ to it.  The contempt is due to the fact that these “Christ curious” atheists actually want to use their intellects instead of merely worshipping them.

But for the dyed-in-the-wool atheist of the New Atheist Speaker’s Bureau, the use of the intellect is strictly forbidden.  Slogans and pre-fab sound bites are the key.  The same clever lines get repeated again and again in a sort of atheist liturgy that drinks repeatedly from the same stale water.  The same prophets (Dennett, Harris, Hitchens and Dawkins) are read from like the four gospels.  Slogans about flying spaghetti monsters get repeated like antiphons at Mass.  The same two arguments about “the Problem of Evil” and “How the Laws of Nature Prove There is No Legislator” get trotted out, oblivious to the fact that St. Thomas answered them both.  In addition, we hear the same fallacies again and again in the liturgy of Padded arguments: religion is for suckers, Noah never lived, why can’t women be priests, Catholics sin, some miracles are fake so all are, the Pope is not photogenic, I am smarter than you, Galileo, six day creationism, SCIENCE!, etc.

It’s all as liturgical as a kabuki or a Mass—and as predictable.  Only the New Atheist seems to be oblivious to how much he owes the religion he is attacking.  Indeed, even his blasphemies depend for their power on the God he blasphemes, which is why he spends all his time Not Believing in the God of the Bible and very little time blaspheming Thor or Odin.

July 09, 2011

Five Ways Obama Tanked Employment

President Obama’s defenders are taking to the airwaves to rebut the charge that his actions have caused the dire employment figure we see today. The rebuttals mirror those the President is making, and they sure don’t lack in audacity.
Some of the president’s enablers, for example, continue to claim that the unemployment rate is the fault of George W. Bush (even though it has been steadily rising two and a half years after Mr. Bush left office). Others say it is the structural result of deindustrialization. A third excuse making the rounds asserts that stalled talks over raising the debt ceiling have caused uncertainty and made businesses not hire.
Let’s quickly review the record. Here are five ways that President Obama’s actions have directly contributed to Friday’s dismal jobs report, which included a rise in unemployment to 9.2%, the news that only 18,000 jobs had been created in June in a country of 300 million people, that wages have declined and that 250,000 people left the job market entirely.
  • Stimulus package—The nearly $1 trillion boondoggle failed to stimulate, as we all now know, but made government grow beyond its means. Most of the stimulus bill was filled with the usual government pork or repeating failed policies of the past such as “shovel-ready” projects. Very few provisions were pro-growth and worked to encourage companies to create new, permanent jobs. Some provisions, such as increased unemployment benefits, unfortunately increase the duration of unemployment. The bottom line is that the stimulus bill was based on the flawed economic assumption that governments can spend their way back to prosperity and growth. The government stimulus bill did not create jobs; instead it filled job creators with fears of future tax hikes or more borrowing, and thus future artificially high interest rates.
  • Obamacare—It took the Administration and the Democratic-held Congress a year and half to ram this piece of legislation down the throat of the American people, time that could have been spent fixing the employment picture. Worse yet, Obamacare imposes vast and expansive new regulations and made labor costs uncertain. Many businesses have said that they are not going to hire permanent workers until they understand exactly how much Obamacare is going to cost their business and raise employment expenses. Other businesses are not sure how the new Obamacare regulations impacts their bottom line, which means they are going to sit tight instead of expanding.
  • Frank-Dodd Financial Bill—The heavy-handed Dodd-Frank financial regulation bill not only placed needless burdens on small as well as large financial institutions,  but has deterred investment by imposing ill-defined restrictions on those who want to invest in the economy.  And it did so without addressing the real causes of the financial crisis.
  • Environmental Protection Agency regulation—Unable to get Congress to pass Cap and Trade, with its skyrocketing electric rates, the Obama EPA is skinning the cat another way—mandating costly regulation. The EPA is implementing a lineup of electric-industry regulations, including the already in-force, but-as-yet-unspecified new CO2 rules, that promise higher rates, less reliability, and a sketchy future business environment.  It’s no great surprise that firms haven’t turned up the throttle on hiring and expansion.
  • Regulatory Assault on Employers—The Administration’s enforcement agencies view employers as lawbreakers who need to be brought in line. Within the Department of Labor the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and Wage and Hour Division (WHD) have ramped up enforcement spending while cutting back programs that help employers understand and comply with the law. Obama’s Solicitor of Labor emphasizes the Labor Department’s focus on litigation against employers. The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) is twisting the law into pretzels to facilitate union organizing, going so far as to file charges against Boeing for creating jobs in a non-union state. Obama’s message to employers has been clear: “We suspect you are breaking the law and we will get you.” Small wonder they are not hiring.

time line for the Doctor

Doctor Who Companions
Research and design by the Online Dating Site

July 07, 2011

Worse Than The Church Abuse Scandals?

According to a major study commissioned by the U.S. Department of Education, the most in-depth investigation to date, nearly 10 percent of U.S. public school students have been targeted with unwanted sexual attention by school employees in an adult/minor context.

Titled, "Educator Sexual Misconduct: A Synthesis of Existing Literature," the report says the mistreatment of students ranges from sexual comments to rape.
In fact, says the studies author, Carol Shakeshaft, professor of educational administration at Hofstra University, in Hempstead, New York, the scope of the school sex problem appears to far exceed the clergy abuse scandal that has rocked the Roman Catholic Church.

Comparing the incidence of sexual misconduct in schools with the Catholic Church scandal, Shakeshift notes that a study by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops concluded that 10,667 young people were sexually mistreated by priests between 1950 and 2002.

In contrast, the extrapolates from a national survey conducted for the American Association of University Women Educational Foundation in 2000 that roughly 290,000 students experienced some sort of physical sexual abuse by a public school employee between 1991 and 2000.

The figures suggest "the physical sexual abuse of students in schools is likely more than 100 times the abuse by priests," said Shakshaft, according to Education Week.
Indeed, more than 4.5 million students are subject to sexual misconduct by an employee of a school sometime between kindergarden and 12th grade, says the report.


- Carol Shakeshaft, "Educator Sexual Misconduct: A Synthesis of Existing Literature," June 2004,http://www.ed.gov/rschstat/research/pubs/misconductreview/report.pdf

- Laurie Goodstein, "Scandals in the Church: The Overview; Abuse Scandals has been Ended, Top Bishop Says," New York Times, Feb 28, 2004,http://www.nytimes.com/2004/02/28/us/scandals-in-the-church-the-overview-abuse-scandal-has-been-ended-top-bishop-says.html?pagewanted=all

- Caroline Hendrie, "Sexual Abuse By Educators Is Scrutinized, "Education Week, March 10, 2004,http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2004/03/10/26abuse.h23.html

And something has especially gone seriously wrong with our society when we now have an epidemic of female teachers sexually abusing their (minor) students...

July 02, 2011

Top Ten Ways Democrats Can Re-"Appropriate" July Fourth

10. Include a disclaimer on celebration notices warning that displays of patriotism might endanger children's welfare.

9. Have the EPA require that celebrations use only fireworks that are environmentally friendly and greenhouse gas neutral.

8. Include a ritual apology to Great Britain after all readings of the Declaration of Independence.

7. Have the National Endowment for the Arts fund naked interpretive dance troupes at July Fourth parades. Also, drum circles.

6. Burn slave-owning Founders in effigy.

5. Have the NLRB require that all parade volunteers be unionized.

4. Serve soy chai lattes at July Fourth parades.

3. A free bong hits booth at every parade.

2. Require that children have a permission slip to attend signed by . . . their school principal.

And the Number 1 way that Democrats could re-appropriate the Fourth of July is

1. Actually love their country and talk about it without always saying "I love America, but [issue probably having to do with their relationship with their fathers]."

(stolen frm Ace of Spades)

Actions Speak Louder Than Words, Mr. President