Thursday, October 26, 2006

Why we home school our kids

Are the core institutions of the west all being run by idiots?

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Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Remember when Walter Cronkite declared the US victory at Tet a disaster, and dashed LBJ's re-election hopes?

OK, I was pretty young, and don't directly remember the newscasts, but I have read plenty of disections of it over the years. The media came to conclude that they had the right and the power to direct public policy, by directing the public understanding of current events. The media has been trying to replay its 'victories' over Vietnam and Nixon with Iraq, and has not gotten the results they have wished and now it seems that they are trying a new tack.

Captain Ed points out the hugh level of misrepresentation of the Economy in the news.

Have the media learned anything? Apparently not. Despite 36 straight months of expansion, an unemployment rate of 4.6%, and inflation at an annual projected rate of 2.4%, the media still can't bring themselves to report on a Republican economy honestly. Business & Media Institute found that TV networks gave twice as much airtime to negative stories as positive ones (62% - 31%). Bad news was twice as likely to get full-length treatment as well. The people interviewed by the network were three times more likely to relate negative anecdotes. To no one's surprise, CBS took the lead in negative coverage, committing 80% of its economic coverage to bad news in the middle of a huge economic expansion.

If they can't ruin the war effort or impeach the president, then they'll try to swing the mid-term elections with bad economic reporting.

"Somewhere along the line, many Americans relegated the media to a notch on the morality scale only slightly above that of child molesters." -- Gregory Kane, Baltimore Sun, 1997

Gee, I wonder why?

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Monday, October 23, 2006

VIVA PANAMA!!!!!!!!!!!!

Publius reports on the vote in Panama to expand the canal.

Joy in Panama!!! And everywhere else! Makassar! Sydney! New York! Osaka! Dakar! Nearly EIGHTY FREAKING PERCENT OF PANAMANIANS HAVE APPROVED THE CANAL EXPANSION, a higher margin than even the biggest poll numbers indictated. FREE TRADE RULES IN PANAMA!!!!!!

VIVA PANAMA!!!!!!!!!!!!

Along with the increases in the Dow, and historicly low unemployment in the US, this is good economic news. The new mega-containerships that have been traveling around the Horn of Magellan will now (for many of them at least) have a shorter and cheeper route. Economics of scale (why those ships were built) combined with lower operating expenses will reduce costs and further strengthen the global economy. Reduced costs mean higher standards of living around the world.

One thing I wonder, and if there is anyone more versed in economics than I who reads this, perhaps they can give their thoughts. I would think lower shipping costs for mega-merchants like Walmart would ultimately lead to more consumer items being bought, which would mean more profits for trading partners like China. This would draw China further into the world community, creating more incentives for them to seek a stable political enviroment.

Does anyone else think that an expanded Panama Canal means more political stability and greater peace?

H/T The Glenn

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Sunday, October 22, 2006

Henk van Rensbergen is one of my favorite photographers.

He is a commercial airline pilot and has been posting his urban explorations into broken and forgotten places from all over the world, in locations like the Dominican Republic, Recife Brazil, Europe, and even such exotic locals as Hoboken. Go and browse through his website, it is well worth the time. His images are evocative and haunting.

As I try to check regularly for updates, I was pleased to see that he has finally gotten a gallery show. The info, which he has posted on his site;

October 2006 : abandoned-places photo exhibition November 27th - january 31st in Leuven, Belgium

Saturday November 25th is the opening of my first major photo exhibition.
The exhibition will be open to the public from November 27th until January 31st at the "Corso Galerie" in Leuven.
The Corso gallery is located in the famous 1960's dancehall "Corso", which has been renovated and now houses the succesful photoshop "Bert Verlinden" and on the first floor a huge exhibition space.

If you are going to be in Belgium, take the time to go and see his work. More info can be found on his website in the "Updates" section. If you do go, then tell me all about it.

I promise to be only a little bit insanely jealous.

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Thursday, October 19, 2006

Since the Glenn has been "pretty lame on the blog-photography front"...

...(to quote his own words) I thought that I might post some shots around the Jerub-Baal homestead.

Sunlight through the hickories on the back lot

The neighbor’s birch, just turning

Some of the low oaks turning yellow

Parchment yellow light

Hopefully that will be enough to entertain you, until his Blogging Majesty can get good shots posted from around Knoxville

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Wednesday, October 18, 2006

An Embarrasment of Riches

I spend a lot of time doing research on the internet. I probably fall into one of these two catagories. One of the by-products of doing so much of my research online is that I end up with hundreds upon hundreds of bookmarks. These need to be reorganized at least once a year. This morning I spent at least ninety minutes creating new folders, sorting and shifting links around, et cetera.

On the off-chance that I've found some information useful to others, here's a brief (but by-no-means complete) account.

New Master Catagory "Art Info and Art Blogs" which contains folders with the following titles;

"Art Best Blogs", which includes BibliOdyssey, lines and colors, Thinking About Art, and David Byrne Journal (the former lead singer for the Talking Heads), amongst others

"Art Blogs"

"Art Business Opportunities and Information"

"Art Galleries Boston", which includes Gallery NAGA, Arden Gallery (Boston home to Fred Wessel [warning, some nudity]), and Pucker Gallery (Boston home to Samuel Bak, amongst others

"Art Galleries, Other", including Glass Garage Gallery

"Art Local", with, Universal Hub and more

and "Art Research" which has subfolders on artist's websites, Museum links, Architectural research sites, and online image libraries, enough info for several posts all on its own.

A reorganized Master Category "News & Blogs" with the following sub-folders;

"My Blogs and Websites and Related" with this Blog, my professional website, and my Flickr Photo Site

A new folder, "A-List" with A-List bloggers like Instapundit and All Things Beautiful

Another new folder, "Cartoonists" with The Dilbert Blog, Cox & Forkum Editorial Cartoons, Daryl Cagle's Professional Cartoonists Index, Day By Day by Chris Muir, Sluggy Freelance, and ::iLL WiLL PreSS (warning, some salacious content and strong language on that last one)

Another new folder, "New England Bloggers" with Neo-Neocon, Sissy Willis (or Sisu), Kobayashi Maru, and Assistant Village Idiot

"Daily Reads" a folder with the likes of Dinocrat, Eteraz, and IMAO and more

Yet another new folder for "Psyc Bloggers (non NE)" with Dr. Helen, Dr. Sanity, ShrinkWrapped, and Sigmund, Carl and Alfred

Another new folder for "Cultural Magazines and Morals Blogging" with The Anchoress, La Shawn Barber's Corner, Gagdad Bob (One Cosmos), In Character - A Journal of Everyday Virtues (highly recommended), The Wilson Quarterly (also highly recommended) and more

"Bi-Daily" a folder for more blogs

"Big Media", which is just what it sounds like, with OpinionJournal, TCS: Tech Central Station, and others

"Science Fiction Author Blogs" with Chris Dolley and Jerry Pournelle

A new folder "Pure Writers" with Lileks and Roger L. Simon

"Medieval Blogging" which is something of a misnomer, as many of the blogs in this folder (like Glaukôpidos: An Anachronism in Modernity and Fascinating History cover more than just the medieval era

Another new folder "Straight Middle East Commentary" with Michael J. Totten, Iraq the Model and Daniel Pipes, this is a folder that deserves being filled out, as there more good information out there, in spite of negative spin of the Main Stream Media

and finally, "Games and General Information" with things like Maps, Weather and Airports for Malmo, Sweden (and you can search from there for similar info on other locations) and the IRIS Seismic Monitor. If you want to waste time in online games (like mahjong, one of my guilty pleasures) you can do a web-search on your own.

My hope in all of this is that I can find info more easily. In the future, I will do a post on the Art and Art Research side of things, as there are some truely wonderful resources on the net.

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Artists in the Military

I don't know if I could have passed the physicals or endured Basic Training when I was 18 (I had recurring problems with bronchitis that was later diagnosed as being caused by a low level asthma), and I have always had a respect for our men and women in uniform. As I have grown older and realized just how much out-of-my-league their level of discipline is, my respect had grown. The safety of my children, and the future of my country are in the hands of noble and hardworking people.

One aspect of the military that I was always aware of, but that many are not, is that the military actively promotes and collects art. When I was a teen, I would read and re-read Up Front (1945) and Back Home (1947) by former Stars and Stripes cartoonist Bill Mauldin* and had other resources that showed military art. As a kid fascinated by everything World War II, with a dad who had been in the European Occupation after the war and who was an avid bibliophile, there was a lot of military art for me to see.

Today's Opinionjournal has a wonderful article on military artists and Dinfos (the Defense Information School) that is well worth reading. It is heartening to see how well the US Military supports its artists, including financially.

The money quote comes from Marine Artist Cpl. Annette Kyriakides Spurgeon,

"Artists are a dime a dozen; not everyone can be a Marine."

That's true.

Thank you Cpl. Spurgeon for being both, and all of your brothers and sisters from Dinfos in the military as well.

*(note, the entry on Bill Mauldin in Wikipedia is not entirely accurate, as it doesn't mention Back Home and says that Mauldin stopped using the Willie and Joe characters after the war, yet he did so in Back Home. As always, double-check everything on Wikipedia)

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Friday, October 13, 2006

Update on Pakistan Women’s Protection Bill

"Musharraf didn’t act enough like a dictator"

It looks as though Musharraf will push for the Women's Protection Bill to go through, but in a version gutted by the mullahs. Eteraz has more and is resigned to accepting whatever can be gotten at this point.

Let us hope it is a first step that is followed up, and soon.

As Eteraz says, "When the bill is passed and the text public I will make it available and we’ll rue what could have been and rejoice for what there is."

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Thursday, October 05, 2006


I especially like the second one.

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Christianity, Passivity, Defense, and Forgiveness

Once again, I will link to a post by Dr. Helen, Is Passivity and Forgiveness an Aphrodisiac for Murderers. If you don't regularly read Dr. Helen, you should.

Her central theme for the post is how our reactions, especially in a highly PC, anti-gun, anti-death-penalty society removes the fear of punishment and emboldens criminal behavior. I have no problem with her conclusions.

"But perhaps reducing violent acts and protecting our citizens is not the point, but rather, it is feeling morally superior and denying the acts of the sick and twisted, or terrorists or other perps, for political gain--rather that be gun control, or a call for the withdrawal of troops from Iraq. Passive solutions in response to violent actions can often bring more violence, not less."

The politicizing of any tragedy like the Amish school shooting is reprehensible. However, my concern here is to explore the other side of the shooting, the act of forgiveness by the Amish, their choice to forgo violence and retribution, and the difference between a truly Christian view of forgiveness and non-violence and the modern pacifism movement.

Neo-Neocon has an excellent post on the specific reactions of the Amish to this crime against them, as well as thoughts on modern pacifism that you may find helpful.

Pacifism as we think of it today is really quite foreign to the ideal of pacifism of early Christianity. For the early Christians, living under the Pax Romana (Peace of Rome), pacifism was a personal decision to leave judgment and vengeance to God with the view that all men are sinners, and that others should have equal opportunity for the forgiveness of God. Examples of this in the New Testament include passages from the Sermon on the Mount and the Parable of the Unmerciful Servant.

Matthew 5:43 - 48 "You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your brothers, what are doing more than others? Do not even the pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect."

Matthew 18:21 - 35 (excerpted) "Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, 'Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?' Jesus answered, 'I tell you, not seven times but seventy times seven....'
..."Then the master called the servant in. 'You wicked servant,' he said, 'I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn't you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?' In anger his master turned him over to the jailers until he should pay back all that he owed.
"This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart."

The call of Christ to forgiveness is a call of individual responsibility. Christian sects like the Amish choose to take a path of forgiveness as a matter of personal responsibility. True, the Amish would more than likely ban or otherwise disinherit someone who chose a path of violence or retribution, but that would be because such a choice would be to repudiate Amish belief. You could not be Amish and be violent, they are mutual exclusive traits.

Early Christians saw this in much the same way. In Romans 13:1-5 it says:

"Everyone must submit to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but only for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you. For he is God's servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God's servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also because of conscience."

Early Christians did not live in a world devoid of authority, violence, and judgment. Quite the contrary, they understood fully that they had a role in a society that held them accountable before the laws of men. (As an aside, I am not suggesting in anyway that Christians today should have blind obedience to the government. We live in a pluralistic republic, where the authority of that government is derived from the will of the people, by design and therefore submission includes participation by the people, and the people calling the government itself to account according to the law. It is an idea opposite to the islamic view of submission.) That accountability included the expressed threat of violence. During the first century AD, Christians were not forbidden from being part of the Roman Legions; they were only forbidden from killing others.

Modern secular pacifism had instead become the hope that peace can be legislated. It is not viewed as matter of individual responsibility, but of universal application of law. It is predicated on the ideal that all people are inherently good. This is observably false. I am not even sure that all people are capable of doing good (and I fall under that command listed above to forgive-as-I've-been-forgiven). The idea that peace is a legislatable commodity is simply silly, but modern top-down pacifism of the type that wishes to outlaw guns, or seeks to set the UN as the ultimate arbitrator on international relations seeks to do exactly that.

As Neo-Neocon says "But until the day the lion lies down with the lamb, an event I don't see on the horizon--or any horizon that involves human beings--how do we best protect ourselves? And what is the price of such protection, in the psychological and spiritual sense?" that is the very question that is avoided in any discussion of modern, secular state-controlled pacifism that I have ever heard.

The early Christians answered by embracing whatever material fate happened to their bodies, in the hope of transcendent future after death. It is because secular pacifism cannot make such a promise that it holds no hope for peace.

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Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Women's Rights in Pakistan

Eteraz has another piece about women's rights in Pakistan, and a bill before President Musharraf, "The Women’s Protection Act" I had linked to him previously. This is a subject that's not getting a lot of traction in the West, and Eteraz is quite reasonably put-out about that. Promoting women's rights in the Islamic world is not imperialism of western ideas, it's promoting human rights period. Eteraz says it's not too late to put in your two cents worth. He provides a template text, and a link to President Mushasraff's website where you can email him. (For quicker access, scroll to the bottom of this post)

Eteraz points out that action because of, not just knowledge of an issue used to define activism. So far, all of the activism in the Middle East is by the military. Here is a chance to do something different that will have a bracing effect on the whole region.

What are you waiting for?

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