Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Sportsmanship


Defined.

That's what college athletics should be all about.

Photo copyright Blake Wolf for ESPN.com

h/t: Dirty Harry's Place

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Antonin Scalia on 60 Minutes

Justice Scalia is my favorite Justice of the last century. He appeared tonight on 60 Minutes on CBS for an interview. Here is Part 1 and Part 2.

He is brilliant, warm, and passionate. He is also unapologetic about his views.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Gov't Tampering Hurts the Poor

Here is a devastating story by Deroy Murdock in today's National Review Online about how U.S. ethanol subsidies are causing shortages and increasing prices on staples such as wheat, corn, rice, and soybeans. Here's a bit:

Climbing corn prices have ignited Mexican tortilla riots. Enraged citizens in Egypt and Pakistan — potential Muslim powder kegs — have also violently protested premium prices for basic staples. Similar instability has erupted from the Ivory Coast to Indonesia. Resurrecting the defeated “import substitution” model of yore, India and Vietnam are among the nations that lately have prohibited grain exports and imposed government price controls. Kazakhstan, Earth’s No. 5 wheat source, just halted wheat exports, hoping to hoard local supplies. One third of the global wheat market is now closed.

High oil prices and growing global food demand fan these flames, but government lit the match. Atop the European Union’s biofuels mandate (5.75 percent of gasoline and diesel by 2010; 10 percent expected in 2020), America’s 51-cent-per-gallon ethanol tax subsidy (2007 cost: $8 billion) and Congress’ 7.5-billion-gallon annual production quota (rising to 36 billion in 2022, including 15 billion from corn) have turned corn farms into cash cows. Diverting one quarter of U.S. corn to motors rather than to mouths has boosted prices 74 percent in a year.

Eager to ride the ethanol gravy train, wheat and soybean farmers increasingly switch to corn. Thus, hard wheat is up 86 percent, while soybeans cost 93 percent more. Since April 15, 2007, pricier, grain-based animal feed (which consumed 40 percent of 2007’s 13 billion bushel U.S. corn crop) has helped hike eggs 46 percent. Got milk? You paid 26 percent more. Conversely, meat prices have dropped, as farmers slaughter animals rather than pay so much to feed them. (For details, click here.)

All this has triggered a race to the top of the grain silo. On April 9, “the World Bank estimated global food prices have risen 83 percent over the past three years, threatening recent strides in poverty reduction,” the Wall Street Journal noted the next day. “As crops are sold for alternative-energy production, food prices have soared: The price of rice, the staple for billions of Asians, is up 147 percent over the past year.”

Government intervention causes this. Free market capitalism has its downside of course. Government meddling always causes problems. Thousands -- probably millions -- of already hungry people are hungrier tonight because of wrong-headed U.S. Government intervention in food markets and to combat "climate change" through ethanol subsidies. It borders on the criminal.

Bush gets one right

Great op-ed by The Wall Street Journal about President Bush's promotions of Gens. Petraeus and Odierno. I am glad we have a President who perseveres, but he has -- as the WSJ rightly points out -- made some horrible personnel decisions. Loyalty is great -- required even. Competence should trump that though.

Nancy Pelosi -- Speaker of the House -- Theologian

Speaker Nancy Pelosi is apparently fond of quoting her favorite Bible verse.
She quotes it whenever she feels the need to persuade and comfort -- to exhort her fellow Americans to action. Pray tell -- what is her favorite Scripture? As she puts it in her official Earth Day press release:
The Bible tells us in the Old Testament, 'To minister to the needs of God's creation is an act of worship. To ignore those needs is to dishonor the God who made us.' On this Earth Day, and every day, let us pledge to our children, and our children's children, that they will have clean air to breathe, clean water to drink, and the opportunity to experience the wonders of nature.
Why you ask are you not citing to the chapter and verse? It's NOT in the Bible. "To minister to the needs of God's creation is an act of worship. To ignore those needs is to dishonor the God who made us." ??? Since when did God speak in split infinitives? Nancy Pelosi is an Intelligent Design advocate.

I'm not saying stewardship of the Earth -- in its proper place and properly understood -- can't be worshipful. Rampant and toxic dumping of garbage, chemicals, etc. is sinful -- especially where people will be harmed. just 't need fake Bible verses from Second Hezekiah 3 to tell me that.

It's called Faith and Reason Madame Speaker. Read the Bible first -- have faith that Holy Spirit will enlighten your understanding and then you can draw an otherwise perfectly reasonable conclusion from other less specific verses.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Modern Ruins


A museum called Architekturzentrum Wien in Vienna is having a photography exhibition by photographic duo Sabine Haubitz and Stefanie Zoche, (credited as Haubitz+Zoche) starting tomorrow called Sinai Hotels.

The photos are a series of deserted 5-star hotel building projects left in various states of incompletion and utterly abandoned in the Sinai Peninsula. The photos were taken between 2002 and 2005. It seems the projects were left abandoned for reasons ranging from good old-fashioned bad investment and embezzlement to a decline in tourism fueled by terrorism fears. Whatever the reasons -- the ruins are sad, beautiful, and telling.

Are they monuments to failed investments, empty capitalism or just relics of bad planning and folly? Whatever they symbolize -- they are interesting and beautiful. There are many symbols of mankind's foolishness. These are but a few. Both photos are copyrighted by Haubitz+Zoche.


h/t: BldgBlog

They have more photos at the BldgBlog.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Latest Literary Conquest

Pudd'nhead Wilson by Mark Twain. A tragedy of absurd proportions involving forensic science, slavery, law, and crime. As usual -- it involves pointed and genius social criticism from Twain and a load of legal issues for my Law and Literature course -- when next it comes.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Idol Schmidol

I have been talking about Christian world view in some of my classes and my university has also been teaching and studying that concept for the past couple of years. My church is going to start a study on Christian world view as well to combat the rampant secularism in both the Church (generally) and in our culture -- and really throughout history. We talked about this section of Scripture tonight from Isaiah 44 and it struck me all over again -- the folly of idolatry. We put things/people/whatever above and before the God of the universe. He created those idols. Besides being evil and prideful -- how stupid and foolish are we to do that?!? We exchange the Truth for a lie. God help us. Isaiah 44:9-20:

9Those who fashion a graven image are all of them futile, and their precious things are of no profit; even their own witnesses fail to see or know, so that they will be put to shame.

10Who has fashioned a god or cast an idol to no profit?

11Behold, all his companions will be put to shame, for the craftsmen themselves are mere men. Let them all assemble themselves, let them stand up, let them tremble, let them together be put to shame.

12The man shapes iron into a cutting tool and does his work over the coals, fashioning it with hammers and working it with his strong arm. He also gets hungry and his strength fails; he drinks no water and becomes weary.

13Another shapes wood, he extends a measuring line; he outlines it with red chalk He works it with planes and outlines it with a compass, and makes it like the form of a man, like the beauty of man, so that it may sit in a house.

14Surely he cuts cedars for himself, and takes a cypress or an oak and raises it for himself among the trees of the forest. He plants a fir, and the rain makes it grow.

15Then it becomes something for a man to burn, so he takes one of them and warms himself; he also makes a fire to bake bread. He also makes a god and worships it; he makes it a graven image and falls down before it.

16Half of it he burns in the fire; over this half he eats meat as he roasts a roast and is satisfied. He also warms himself and says, "Aha! I am warm, I have seen the fire."

17But the rest of it he makes into a god, his graven image He falls down before it and worships; he also prays to it and says, "Deliver me, for you are my god."

18They do not know, nor do they understand, for He has smeared over their eyes so that they cannot see and their hearts so that they cannot comprehend.

19No one recalls, nor is there knowledge or understanding to say, "I have burned half of it in the fire and also have baked bread over its coals I roast meat and eat it Then I make the rest of it into an abomination, I fall down before a block of wood!"

20He feeds on ashes; a deceived heart has turned him aside And he cannot deliver himself, nor say, "Is there not a lie in my right hand?"

God seems sarcastic in His disdain for such foolishness. Many (most?) are seriously deluded -- detached from the reality of the God who is there -- waiting, loving, judging us.

I am trying to equip my kids and my students to the Truth and to combat the lie.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Artistic Endeavor as worship

9 Reasons I'm a Photographer. It's a series of posts where a photographer named Bill Walsh fleshes explains the redeeming qualities of his art.

I'm not a photographer, but this list -- over at Piper's Desiring God Blog -- is broadly applicable to any artistic pursuit by Christians. We need to engage the culture with the right motive and competence -- whatever the field.

The list:
  1. Creation is a gift from God (and by creation, I mean all that God has made, not just mountains, birds, and trees). It is meant to display and communicate his glory.
  2. God hides himself in creation. Unbelievers seldom see him in it, but believers are given eyes to see, so they can glorify God through it.
  3. In order to glimpse of the glory of God in creation, we actually have to engage with it.
  4. All art has one source: God’s universe. We create nothing, but only imitate the creator.
  5. Cultural and artistic expressions are gifts from God which we should not neglect.
  6. Culture that glorifies God is a foretaste of what we will experience in the new heavens and new earth.
  7. Christians should avoid quickly judging cultural expression as sacred or secular. God also reveals himself through his common grace.
  8. Christian cultural expression should not solely focus on the beautiful and the romantic, but should include the flawed.
  9. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the ultimate example of fusing heaven and earth, and serves as the ultimate source of inspiration for those engaged in artistic pursuits.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Charlton Heston is Dead


Charlton Heston died from Alzheimer's complications last night here in California. He literally was the last of a dying breed -- a Hollywood actor who had real bravery -- championing civil rights in the 1960s when that could cost one jobs. This vidcap image of his dying scene in The Omega Man is why I liked his version, better than I Am Legend. He got it -- the message behind sacrifice.
Was he hammy? At times. Was he a Movie-star? He is up there with John Wayne. All-American all the time and with graciousness to burn apparently.

A few years ago George Clooney ridiculed Heston because of his Alzheimer's. In my weaker moments, I wished Clooney would get it. Heston probably never did wish that.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

First Amendment? Dead.

According to U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Chief Judge Alex Kozinski in a speech given at Pepperdine Law School -- the Internet has killed the First Amendment. His basic premise seemed to be that since the advent and explosion of the Internet -- the government is unable to suppress speech in any meaningful way. The First Amendment assumes government can and sometimes will limit speech, press, etc. and is there to limit the government's power. The government is powerless ergo the First Amendment is dead.

I'll have to chew on this some more. It's not as it relates to religious freedom, but can the government suppress Internet speech in a globalized world? Are parades, protests, etc. passe -- and irrelevant? That would be a new world. Better? More dangerous? Who knows?

h/t: OpinioJuris

Friday, April 04, 2008

40 Year Anniversary of the Death of MLK, Jr.

John Piper notes that Dr. King's death was not the first time he met God. The passing of MLK, Jr. is made even sadder by the rise of the likes of Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, and Jeremiah Wright as paragons of both the Black community at large and Black Christianity in particular. I know there are multitudes of sincere, devout and orthodox Black Christian pastors who teach their flocks the Good News. Unfortunately for us -- they get no publicity. Fortunately for us -- they do the Lord's work anyway.

Here is a link to hear his entire Mountaintop speech from Memphis TN -- April 3, 1968. The conclusion is excerpted below:

And they were telling me, now it doesn't matter now. It really doesn't
matter what happens now. I left Atlanta this morning, and as we got
started on the plane, there were six of us, the pilot said over the
public address system, "We are sorry for the delay, but we have Dr.
Martin Luther King on the plane. And to be sure that all of the bags
were checked, and to be sure that nothing would be wrong with the plane,
we had to check out everything carefully. And we've had the plane
protected and guarded all night."

And then I got to Memphis. And some began to say the threats, or talk
about the threats that were out. What would happen to me from some of
our sick white brothers?

Well, I don't know what will happen now. We've got some difficult days
ahead. But it doesn't matter with me now. Because I've been to the
mountaintop. And I don't mind. Like anybody, I would like to live a long
life. Longevity has its place. But I'm not concerned about that now. I
just want to do God's will. And He's allowed me to go up to the
mountain. And I've looked over. And I've seen the promised land. I may
not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a
people, will get to the promised land. And I'm happy, tonight. I'm not
worried about anything. I'm not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the
glory of the coming of the Lord.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

California Home Schooling

The CA Court of Appeals for the 2nd Appellate District decided on February 28, 2008 the case of In re Rachel L.
In this case the court decided that CA parents have no right to home school their own children unless they are "credentialed". This case sent shivers through the home schooling community and is clearly against the U.S. Constitution as interpreted by the U.S. Supreme Court in Wisconsin v. Yoder (1972).

This blogger thinks Justice Croskey didn't mean to ban all home-schooling in California just to apply it to this set of cases. If that's the case -- he certainly wrote a very overbroad and sloppy opinion.