Thursday, September 28, 2006

Showtime is airing a new series "Dexter."

(just saw the ad)

If I understand the ad, this character Dexter is a serial killer who is now working with the authorities to solve murders.

A show about hiring evil in order to catch other (possibly lesser) evil.

Can the media's moral relativism dive any deeper?

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The Underlying Cowardice of the Arts

For as long as I can remember artists (in fact, the Arts as a whole) have styled themselves as "the Brave Little Tailor" to the big bad giant "Censorship." There is a pantheon of demi-gods in the art world, Arthur Miller (for 'the Crucible'), Andres Serrano (for 'Piss Christ', which I blogged about here), chocolate covered Karen Finley, Chris Ofili (for what is often called the 'Dung Madonna') and many others. Most of these demi-gods, with Arthur Miller being the exception, are so puerile that simply ignoring them would have been sufficient. They will be at most footnotes in Jansen's History of Art in another twenty-five years. And sadly for Mr. Miller, "the Crucible" has been so overplayed as to become trite.

Artists have shown their 'bravery' for years by tackling religious sensibilities. The target has often been Catholicism, because I suppose, the thrill of challenging the Inquisition. However, unlike Francisco Goya who actually lived and worked in Spain during the Inquisition, they have acted in a vacuum when it comes to persecution.

Now, as Roger Kimball points out in today’s Opinion Journal, artists are censoring themselves (with no sense of irony) at the mere suggestion that Islamic Fascists might be offended by their artwork.

Yoo-hoo! Big brave Artists! Where are you?

These artists show real bravery, but they are mostly forgotten in the Salons of the West.

Mr. Kimball asks
Poor transgressive rebel artists! How are they to shock the middle class anymore?

and The Glenn answers
They may have to go back to actually doing work that's, you know, good.

More comments by Ann Althouse.

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Dr. Helen talks about the recent school shooting in Colorado, and the need to more apropriately address depression in teenage boys. One of the very real problems that leads to criminal behavior in teens is broken families.

Our family; my wife and I, and our two biological children, is a foster family for a little four year old girl. Last night I met another foster dad, and had a great conversation with him.

He got involved in fostering because a friend of his teenage son was being emotionally abused and neglected by his alcoholic parents.

It takes a lot of stones to foster a teenager, even if you know the kid. In my eyes, this guy is on par with a marine or a fire fighter for what he's doing.

I'm not a big fan of the government-as-parent, but there are legitimate times where someone with authority has to step in. We as individuals can't save a whole generation of kids, but the more people who step up to the plate to help out just one kid, the less of these horror stories will happen.

It doesn't take a village to raise a child. It takes loving parents, one set at a time. Many people have the abilities to raise foster kids.

We need more of you to step up.

For information on how to help here in Massachusetts, you can check out the Massachusetts Department of Social Services or go directly to their page on fostering or if you want to look into provideing a permanent home for a child, see the MA Adoption Resource Exchange (MARE)

This has also been cross-posted at North Shore Unschoolers

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Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Hmmmm... Barbara Ehrlich, Paul Ehrlich...

I wonder if they're related? If they are, maybe we can get a grant to research the effects of heredity on bad science.


Saturday, September 23, 2006

The Crutch

As a Bible believing Christian, whom some would call fundamentalist, others, evangelical, I have become used to two main replies in any conversation bordering on religion. "I'm all set," and "The Bible is full of contradictions."

Well, after nearly fifty years of life with a marriage and three kids and a midlife career change I can tell you that I am not 'all set.' For those who say that religion is a crutch I easily reply that yes, I am lame. If you are not lame in some part of your life then more power to you. You will need it.

I have been on this chosen road of faith for twenty years. As Jacob said to Pharaoh, "My years have been few and difficult, and they do not equal the years of the pilgrimage of my fathers." [1] I have nothing to brag about, or to complain about either. In all that time of reading and studying the Bible, I have not found it to be self-contradictory (only contradictory of many of my choices and actions). The trope, "the Bible is full of contradictions," has always struck me as received 'knowledge' handed down from cynical adult to cynical child and never investigated.

The most often cited example of a contradiction I have heard is the wars of Israelites and the loving nature of God. Considering that the Israelites are repeatedly described as the chosen children of God, and that God foretold Abraham that his descendants would return to Canaan (from Egypt) after many years of slavery "...for the sin of the Amorites has not reached its full measure." [2]
So, even though God knew that the Amorites would do evil, he still gave them many years to choose to repent and do what is right. Then he gives the Israelites the right to defend themselves against evil as they claim their homeland.

How many times have you heard, "How could a loving God have let this happen?" when some great evil has goes on in the world? Well, he didn't want to let any evil of the Amorites or surrounding peoples happen to the Israelites. It seems to me that the contradictions involved here is in the minds of people who would rather not believe (and thus be challenged in their lives and character) than in the Bible itself.

There are other 'examples' but they all play out much the same way.

Still, the devoutly secular repeat with great conviction that the Bible is full of contradictions.

So tell me, where are these devout declarations in the face of Islamic Fascism and Muslim expansionism?

We are told "Today humanity passionately craves commitment to the truth, devotion to God, quest for justice, and respect for the dignity of human beings. Rejection of domination and aggression, defense of the oppressed, and longing for peace constitute the legitimate demand of the peoples of the world..." by the President of Iran. The highest Muslim cleric in Saudi Arabia (in response to Benedict XVI commenting on violence and forced conversion in Islam) tells us that "The prophet (Muhammad), peace be upon him, came as a mercy to the world." Yet nuns are shot in the back, honor killings are common and the primary victims of Islamic violence are Muslims.

Islam itself claims Jesus as one of its prophets but not the Messiah, yet Jesus called himself the Son of God [3], and based upon his teachings the apostle John described him in Revelation as the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and end [4]. If Jesus is not the Son of God and Messiah, then he is a liar and can not be a prophet of God and a teacher of the truth, as his claim to sonship is central to his teaching. So here is a verifiable contradiction in Islamic belief.

Where are all the proud secular voices, the speakers of reason? Where are those who, proud in their own self-sufficiency declare the contradictions of religion? Where are those who decry the fettering of the mind, the opiating of the masses?

Why do these strong willed, free-minded people not declare the obvious fallacies of the branch of Islam inhabited by nihilistic, murder-threatening, head-chopping fanatics?


[1] Genesis 46:9 b (NIV)
[2] Genesis 15:16 b (NIV)
[3] Luke 22:69, 70
[4] Revelation 1:8, 21:6, 22:13

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Thursday, September 21, 2006

I have come to believe that the press is not so much against the Global War on Terror as they are on the other side. How else would you explain this?

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Friday, September 15, 2006

Sad Day

This morning, at about 8:30, my cat Smidgen died. He had been my 'studio partner' ever since we got him. Always timid but very affectionate, he would sleep at our feet at night. His favorite thing to do was to sit between me and the arm of the recliner when I would sit and read.

Part of my artist bio for the last couple of years has been, "He lives with his family near Boston and shares studio space with his cat, Smidgen." I hadn't realized till today how much I had tied up my identity with this little grey puss-in-boots. I had even planned to build a special sunning shelf for him in the new studio I'm building this fall.

He will be missed.

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Monday, September 11, 2006

The Glenn Says that the jihadis nihilism is like the Ghost Dance, with its dangers, but not on the level of the dangers of the Cold War.

I'd like to think he's right, and I have respected his views and analysis and copious links for five years now.

Somehow, a non-state ideology, with thousands of adherents on whom the sun never sets, who have no fixed industrial or cultural targets and have nothing to lose, and furthermore who think that heaven awaits them if they die killing their enemies with a plane ticket and a box cutter; this strikes me as infinitely more dangerous than a third rate industrial power run by old men yearning for their dachas.

I guess this shows my fears more than it proves my point over Mr. Reynolds.

Do you fear more the rabid dog, or the patient and poisonous black widow spider?

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the Long Kiss Goodnight vs The Lord of the Rings

One is a fantasy, and one is emblematic of the post 9/11 world.

Which one we as a civilisation choose to be which may define whether we survive or not.

(Edit Note I originally used The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe instead of LOTR, but I think the latter is a more compelling example of the individual's responsibility to face the truth and to fight evil, and now you obviously know my view of the above comparrision.)

(Edit Note 2 After talking to two friends, it is apparent that my choice of 'the Long Kiss Goodnight' was more than a little arcane. The specific reason for using TLKG is the following exchange, between Samuel L Jackson's character, Mitch (supporting to Geena Davis's leading role) and the Director of the CIA, Leland Perkins.

Mitch: "Your telling me that you're gonna fake some terrorist thing just to scare some money out of Congress?"
Leland Perkins: "Well, unfortunately I have no idea how to fake killing 4,000 people - so we're just gonna have to do it for real. Blame it on the Muslims, naturally. Then I get my funding."

The premise behind the central conflict of the movie sounds so much like the wingnut conspiracy theories behind 9-11 that it could almost have been lifted whole-cloth and dumped onto Indymedia.)

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9/11 coverage

Before the time that the first plane hit, in the coverage of the fifth anniversary of 9/11, ABC has already taken a dig at the Iraq War (a reporter in Iraq talking about the mission there and saying that some of our troops don't support the war, I missed getting the exact quote) and Tom Brokaw on NBC has questioned whether "we are fighting the last war."

It would make no sense to compare Iraq 2 to Afghanistan or to Iraq 1, so I can only think that he meant Vietnam. I had to turn the TV off.

It's probably better that the TV's off now. This would probably be too much for the kids. They are still to young for the emotional weight of this.

However, in my opinion they are more mature than many reporters.

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Saturday, September 09, 2006

Women's Rights in Pakistan

Something that's not getting a lot of traction in the press here (and I won't throw stones, it's probably something a simple as "Pakistan is far away" style thinking) but that should, is an upcoming vote on a bill to change Pakistan's laws concerning rape. Eteraz has the story.

The long and the short of it is this, currently a woman who is raped has to provide four male witnesses or she can be imprisoned or put to death for adultery. Though the new law wouldn't provide the level of protection and equality-before-the-law that we have in the West, it is an important and needed step in a theocratically leaning military dictatorship like Pakistan.

It has been cogently argued that the emancipation of women is the key to reforming Islam.

This issue deserves a lot more attention.

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Monday, September 04, 2006


Don't drive! Your selfish use of hydrocarbons is dooming the planet to a terrible hothouse fate!

But wait, the sky is falling! All those students starting college this week in Boston who are avoiding the I-90 connector between the city and the airport (which goes nowhere near any college) may cause the subway system in Boston to overload!


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Art news

Good news, of the art variety. Two paintings by Edward Munch, 'the Scream' and 'Madonna' which were stolen from the Munch Museum in Oslo Norway have been recovered by police in Norway. It had been feared that the paintings had been destroyed, but

"I saw the paintings myself today, and there was far from the damage that could have been feared," said Iver Stensrud, the police inspector who headed the investigation since the paintings were taken by masked gunmen who raided the Munch Museum on Aug. 22, 2004.

Unfortunately, 'far from the damage that could have been feared' sounds like there has been some damage to the works.

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