Wednesday, January 31, 2007

quote of the week

Quote of the week:
"Maybe if more people were making love, making music or praying, things wouldn’t be so damned ugly, everywhere"
Source: The Anchoress: "It's all ugly and that's easy. Let us pray"

Amen to that.

<>< TM

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

the problem of evil: part 2: how do we know what's good or evil?

Read Part 1, The Problem of Evil, here.

In my previous posting on the problem of evil, I left off with the promise to discuss the origin of our knowledge of good and evil. It is the ability to discern good and evil that sets us apart from every other animal and plant on earth, and makes us utterly distinct from all other living things.

But where did this knowledge come from, and why do we have it? Here is where those holding to a naturalistic, evolutionary ideology with no room for a supreme being run into deep doo-doo, as there is no way to logically justify the need for a creature to have this ability, from an evolutionary standpoint. All the animal and plants of earth testify that a knowledge of good and evil is not necessary to exist, to live. The humble amoeba leads a perfectly wonderful existence without have to discern if it's right or wrong to cheat the government out of it's tax revenue. No, a creature does not need to have this knowledge to exist and prosper on planet Earth. Of course militant atheists have their "theories" as to how we developed ethics based on a pure evolutionary paradigm, but these "theories" have no foundations in empirical science. In other words, we cannot observe nor measure our evolution as human beings, as that history has been completely lost to us, if it even has ever existed. We are left playing guessing games as to our origins, and then labeling it "science." (Mainly because those who play these guessing games call themselves scientists...and label their guesses as theories so as to remove any criticism.)

Those of us who believe we are here by intention, not by chance, and believe in a Supreme Being, also believe that the knowledge of good and evil was a direct result of our interactions with God. More specifically, we believe that we came to this knowledge by theft. We took it, though it didn't belong to us! The story of this theft occurs in the early chapters of the book of Genesis:
"The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. And the Lord God commanded the man, "You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die." " (Genesis 2:15-17 NIV)
Adam and Eve, having only one rule to follow, quickly prove their humanness by breaking the only rule that God gave to them! Whether or not you believe that Adam and Eve and their fall from grace is an actual true story, the point is still relevant: man first learned of good and evil when he disobeyed God.

Now what's interesting is that God clearly gives man the ability to choose to obey his command or not. It is implied in the statement "you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil". In other words, man was not a robot, programmed to always do the right thing. There was some randomness, an ability to choose, that was given to him from the first day.

Think about that for a minute: God could have simply programmed us to always do the right thing, always the best thing, without even having to THINK!!!! Wouldn't that be grand? Well, if you think being a tree is a grand thing, then that's the life for you. But the ability to choose, to choose to disobey God, allows us some autonomy and some responsibility. We can do what we want...we are not vegetables, we are not dumb animals; we can choose to do that which will bring harm, or bring blessing. But along with that responsibility comes a terrible price: "for when you eat of it you will surely die."

So Adam and Eve ate from the forbidden tree, and they died...eventually. They died an almost immediate "death" in that they were banned from the Garden of Eden, and were told to go work the earth...the first farmer and rancher. And then they eventually died a real death: they ceased to exist here on Earth. So God's warning was fulfilled; along with the knowledge of good and evil came death as the penalty.

Before Adam and Eve ate from the forbidden tree, they led a happy, care-free life. They literally never knew evil! Imagine never knowing what evil wonderful that would be! But thanks to a very wily serpent, Adam and Eve eat that which they shouldn't, and for the very first time, they know what evil is--disobeying the direct command of God. They knew they disobeyed, and they acted accordingly--they hid their nakedness and hid from the eyes of God:
"When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves. Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden." (Genesis 3:6-8 NIV)
The knowledge of their nakedness is a metaphor, and speaks to the shame one has once they realize they've done something wrong...whether or not it has even been found out! You and I both know this feeling very, very well, and the metaphor of nakedness is an apt way of describing the guilt that we feel. Truly, we are "naked" before God, and we know it. Of course "fig leaves" is also a metaphor for the lying and rationalizing we do to mitigate against our guilt and shame. We do not want our own nakedness to be discovered, so we pretend to be fully clothed.

For the very first time man knows what it is to be evil, and just as the serpent said, he is "just like God." Man now knows that he can disobey God, and that he has a free-will. But what was the "sin" that Adam and Eve committed? Was it just eating from a stupid tree? Isn't that a rather arbitrary rule? If God did want them to eat from the dumb tree, then why did he plant it in the Garden of Eden to begin with? He could have just put the tree in another garden somewhere else, or not created it altogether. So why have the forbidden tree in the Garden of Eden? What purpose did it serve other than to curse Adam and Eve?

God put the tree in the garden as proof of man's ability to choose: it's a demonstration that man has free will, that he can obey or disobey at his own prerogative. Hence the tree, though seemingly arbitrary, has a very, very important role to play: proof of the autonomy of man; to show that man is not a robot, but a creature who can choose his own path.

The "sin" that Adam and Eve committed was not the eating of the fruit; their real sin was their belief that God was lying to them. What did God say to Adam and Eve? He said "you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die." But what did the serpent say to Eve to convince her to eat from the tree? He said ""You will not surely die," For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil."

At that point, Eve had a choice to make: either God was telling her the truth when he told them they would die, or he was lying, and the serpent was telling her the truth. Eve decided that God must be holding out on her, and believed the serpent was telling her the truth. So it wasn't the eating of the fruit that was so bad, it was the belief that God was holding out on them, that He was lying to them! The root of Adam and Eve's sin is their belief that God was a liar.

Now God obviously did not lie, and our own mortality is proof enough of that. So why would Adam and Eve, who knew God in a very personal way, think that he was lying to them about the tree of the knowledge of good and evil? Well, the serpent certainly has to take a big share of the blame for that. So why did God allow this serpent access to the Garden of Eden; what was his purpose? He was there to test Adam and Eve's obedience, a test they failed. It is easy to be obedient if you never have the opportunity to choose to disobey! Again, the serpent's purpose was to demonstrate Adam and Eve's autonomy: their freedom to choose. But in order to choose, you must be given a choice; hence the serpent presented them with a choice, and the humans chose accordingly. While the serpent was obviously allowed to lie to them, he could not force them to eat the fruit, that the two humans had to choose to do on their own.

Again, it does not matter whether you believe this event actually happened or not, the point here is to demonstrate that sin which is at the root of all evil: that sin being the choice of whether or not God is lying to us.

Well, the serpent was right about one thing: "you will be like God, knowing good and evil." As soon as humans made the decision to disobey God, they experienced evil, and through that experience, came into the knowledge of what is good, and what is evil. Before that, the distinction could not be made, since evil had not been experienced. Adam and Eve lived in a world that was absolutely good, but they were ignorant of how good they had it, as they did not know of any other reality. They did not know there was a land east of Eden, where things were going to be much more difficult. The punishment they endured happened to them simply because they thought God was lying.

Yet the choice of Adam and Eve is also our choice, a choice we must make on a daily basis: that choice being whether or not God is lying to us. Everything else we do or believe is founded on that very decision, whether or not we are conscious of it. But now, through the reading this article, I have have helped you to become conscious of this very important decision we all make.

And so I ask you: is God lying? Is God himself a lie? Is the entire Judeo-Christian system of belief just a fancy little fairy-tale told to keep people in-line? Or is there something more to it than that?

Obviously, I cannot answer these questions to your satisfaction. You, the dear reader of this blog, must determine whether or not God is a lie, and if not a lie, whether or not he lies to us. As for myself, I believe that God is true, and that his words are true, and that he is not capable of lying. (Though some of his creation is certainly is capable of it!)

I encourage you to find out for yourself whether or not God is a liar. Seek out what you can, and do everything you can to make sure of your answer, for your answer to this question is foundational to how you are going to live out the rest of your life, and after this life is over, your life in eternity.

Next time: what God has done to correct the evil brought on by Adam and Eve's fateful choice.

<>< TM

Monday, January 29, 2007

faith and football

The following is an excerpt from the "In the Lead" column which appears in the Marketplace section of the Wall Street Journal. The subject of the column are two NFL head coaches: Lovie Smith of the Chicago Bears, and Tony Dungy of the the Indianapolis Colts.


Two Football Coaches
Have a Lot to Teach
Screaming Managers

January 29, 2007; Page B1

The Super Bowl should be required viewing for managers who think screaming at employees is the best way to motivate them -- or simply their prerogative as bosses.

They won't see that kind of behavior Sunday, as the Indianapolis Colts play the Chicago Bears for football's highest trophy. The Colts' head coach, Tony Dungy, and the Bears' Lovie Smith don't curse or sarcastically chew out players, which makes them stand out in the National Football League's scream-and-holler culture.

The two men -- the first African-Americans to lead Super Bowl teams -- became close friends when Mr. Dungy, formerly head coach for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, hired Mr. Smith as an assistant. Both believe they can get their teams to compete more fiercely and score more touchdowns by giving directives calmly and treating players with respect.

This doesn't mean they aren't demanding or don't push hard. Mr. Dungy has a grading system that counts players' "loafs." If someone isn't running at full speed, or eases up or fails to hit an opponent when he could have, those are loafs, and it's hard to get through a game without getting at least one.

When Mr. Smith, who uses the same system, became the Bears' head coach three years ago, he told players to lift more weights and eat better because he wanted a slimmer, faster team. When he gets mad, he stares straight ahead in silence. His players call it "the Lovie Look" and say it's more frightening -- and more of a warning to play better -- than a torrent of angry words.


For some managers and athletic coaches, screaming is a way to show they are in charge -- and behavior that may be expected by their bosses. The Colts' Mr. Dungy says he didn't get some jobs earlier in his career because he was considered too laid-back and polite and didn't believe being a great coach required him to sacrifice his family or faith.

On one interview, when an owner asked if he would make the team the most important thing in his life, he said no. "I figured I probably wouldn't get that job, and I didn't," he said at a press conference last week. "I think your faith is more important than your job, family is more important than your job. We all know that's the way it should be, but we're kind of afraid to say that sometimes."

Lovie Smith and he "aren't afraid to say it," and both run their teams in the same way, Mr. Dungy said. The Colts and Bears play "tough, disciplined football even though there's not a lot of profanity from the coaches, there's none of the win-at-all-costs atmosphere. I think for two guys to show you can win that way is important for the country to see."

<>< TM

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

the essence of Christianity

Posted by Picasa

In a Jewish book I'm reading, written by the wife of a great rabbi, I came across the following story which illustrates the essence of Christianity, or Judaism, or even that of any spiritual system that values human life:
Some years ago, I read a brief news item in The New York Times about an Olympics for Special Children in Seattle, Washington. It was a small blurb, innocuously placed, an I would probably have missed it had my daughter not pointed it out to me. The story was about disabled children who competed in a race. When the whistle sounded, they started to run. Suddenly, one of the young boys fell, skinned his knee, and began to cry. When the others heard his cry, they stopped in their tracks, turned around, and went to his aid. One little girl, who had Down Syndrome, bent down, kissed his knee and said, "here, this will make it feel better." The children helped the boy to his feet, linked hands, and ever so slowly, they all walked as one to the finish line.*
*Jungries, Esther. Life Is A Test. Brooklyn: Shaar Press, 2006. 15

Why is this the essence of Christianity or Judaism? Or any other religious systems that place a high value on human life? Because it shows that "winning" is a hollow achievement, if we ignore the pain and suffering that surround each and everyone of us. An excellent example of this is the recent Pixar movie Cars, where a bright red young NASCAR stock car, "Lightning McQueen," learns the same sort of lesson.

It's not what you achieve, it's who you help that counts.

<>< TM

P.S. According to my research, the event told by Jungries actually happened in Spokane, not Seattle, and only one or two athletes helped the guy who fell, not everyone. (source: However, even if it were only one person who helped the fallen athlete, the point is still valid.

P.S.S. Cool video Clip of Rascal Flat's performing "Life is a Highway" as featured in the movie "Cars" here.

Monday, January 22, 2007

how evil originated...

Wow! They have EVERYTHING on YouTube! Here is ACTUAL video footage of how evil, in all of its various forms, came into creation. Amazing!

<>< TM

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

the problem of evil

The name of this blog is Theodicy (thee-ODD-i-see). The term theodicy was coined by the philosopher/diplomat Leibniz, and is one of his most famous works, other than the invention of calculus and binary numbers (minor trifles by comparison).

Theodicy is simply the philosophical/theological desire to absolve God of any wrong doing. What type of wrong doing is God guilty of? All the evil that happens all over the world on a daily basis. After all, if he's a supreme being, he should easily be able to put a stop to it, shouldn't he?

Another way of phrasing the problem of theodicy is the age old question "Why do bad things happen to good people?" Or the famous question of college dorms "why does an allegedly good God allow evil on earth?" Of course these questions assume that we know what we are talking about when we use the terms "God" "good" and "evil." But it's always a good idea to define terms, so allow me to offer my own very simplistic, broad definitions:

GOD = The supreme being who created everything we can see and know. Specifically, the supreme being cited throughout the Bible of Christians and Jews.

GOOD = That which causes a person happiness, or at least alleviates their suffering.

EVIL = That which causes a person pain, or increases their suffering.

Now, just to be clear, when I talk about increasing or decreasing suffering, I'm talking in net terms--ultimate good or ultimate evil. It can be very painful to go to a dentist or surgeon to have things removed from your body, especially if cutting or drilling is required. However, the process is ultimately good if it results in the net alleviation of pain, suffering or death.

Likewise, something can be ultimately evil even if that which leads up to it is rather pleasurable. For instance, having sex with someone is often the ultimate in pleasure and happiness, but if that union should result in a person be contaminated with the AIDS virus, we can honestly say that ultimately a great evil has been done, given that the sexual partner knew that they were HIV positive.

So why is there evil? Well, the surprising truth is you cannot ask that question without also asking another: why is there good? And even a THIRD question: How do we know the difference between good and evil? In other words, you can't have one without the other. Why not? Well, how could you know one, without knowing the other? Of course there are beings on this earth who really don't know the difference: the entire animal and plant worlds for instance. No, not even the hallowed dolphin nor the noble gorilla can put forth opinions or observations on what is good or evil--that is the sole domain of men.

There are those who argue that good and evil are two sides of the same coin, and therefore there's just one coin. In other words, good and evil do not really exist, they are just convenient figments of our imagination.. Of course the intellectuals who makes these sort of pronouncements are almost always fully tenured members of esteemed institutions of higher education who are paid by the word to make silly proclamations in order to prove their intellectual superiority. Because of that, we can--of course--dismiss these sort of pronouncements out of hand.

Both you and I know exactly what good and evil are, and we know that they do--in fact--exist. How do we know? Because when something truly evil happens to us, we are sad, downcast, angry and/or depressed. When something truly good happens to us, we are happy, joyful, at ease and sometimes even grateful. And because most of us reading this blog are in the set of humans beings, we know what these concepts mean when they are used in a sentence.

Now, I do not consider the various extremes of nature as being good nor my system, they are simply acts of nature. While you may certainly consider it evil if a shark bites your leg off while swimming in the warm waters of Florida, in my system all that's happened is a hungry shark eating. He can't help being a hungry shark any more than you can help being a tasty snack. But you can choose to be, or not to be, in the ocean. Our friend the hungry shark simply does not have that option. He can no more walk out of the ocean on his tail fin and order a #2 at McDonald's than you can go swimming in the Atlantic, deep diving for tasty giant squid that live 5,000 feet below the ocean's surface. Yet we humans can take a submersible down to 5,000 feet, and live down there for quite some time; which illustrates another difference between us and the exciting but stupid world of animals: we make some really cool stuff. When gorillas begin to start designing jet airliners on advanced CAD/CAM systems, then you can start boasting to me about how human-like they are.

Same for weather: hot or cold, earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes and snow storms are just that: weather. They do not act with evil intent, nor are they particularly good nor evil, they just are. No more than a rock laying on the ground can be said to be good or evil.

The sets of all that is good vs. evil requires an agent who can determine what is good or evil, and act on either...whether willingly or under coercion. In other words, good and evil are really just adjectives that describe the actions and attitudes of our fellow human beings, or of ourselves. Good actions and attitudes cause us to feel happy, and evil actions and attitudes cause us to feel pain, anger, and sadness.

While I do not deny that things which occur in the natural world cause us to be happy or sad, I do not believe things in the natural world are working from a a motive of good or evil. It might be a good, beautiful thing to watch a morning sunrise, and it might be a bad, awful thing to be attacked by a swarm of killer bees, but the sun and the bees are only doing what they do because of what they are. The sun cannot choose to rise or set, the bees cannot choose to swarm and sting, they do it because that is their nature.

But humans--and humans alone--act by choice, even if the choice is made only unconsciously or by default.

So, to sum up, we can assign acts of nature to the good or evil category if we want to, in terms of how it makes us feel, but my point is that the good and evil judgments we make are actually the product of the hearts, minds and will of men, not nature. We have choices to make, the natural world does not.

In general, we assign murder, rape, violence, pillaging, and taxes to the category of "evil" Notice how all these things can be verbs and adjectives--actions and descriptions--not things. And yes, you certainly can--and are--being taxed.

Likewise, charity, love, generosity, gentleness, and giving are normally assigned to the category of "good" Again notice that these are verbs and adjectives, actions and descriptions, not things.

The point of all this? Things in themselves are neither good nor evil, it is the intent and will and actions of men that are truly either good or evil.

(Note to feminists reading this blog: I'm intentionally using the third person pronon "men" in the sense of it being inclusive of all human beings, because it's a much more poetic term than "human beings". And besides, I don't subscribe to feminist ideology anyway...)

Men can certainly choose to act in an evil or good manner; there is really little to stop you either way. Not so the rock, the shark, or the sun.

If I may, I think a better and more accurate question we need to ask is the following: "Why do men do evil things, and why doesn't God stop them?" But then again, there is a converse question also implied: "Why do men do good things, and why doesn't Satan stop them?" One cannot discuss evil, without it's converse: good. Why is it that no one wonders why there is good on earth? Why does evil take such an unfair share of our attention?

Theologians say that God is ultimate good, therefore he should not allow people to do evil things. And if He were really, really good, it would always be sunny and 72 degrees outside, with only the most gentle of breezes...and the sun would rise promptly at 6 am, and go down promptly at 9 pm. Shoot, if we want him to be good, we might as well get specific.

Well, for reasons that are rather simple to understand, God has deemed man, above and beyond all the animals, to have the knowledge of good and evil, along with the ability to act in either fashion. This is His gift to us, and it is a GOOD gift. It is that which separates us from the brute beasts and plant life.

NEXT TIME: How we got the gift of the knowledge of good and evil (Hint: we stoled it.)

<>< TM

Sunday, January 14, 2007

there's something fishy in San Francisco...

...and I don't mean Fisherman's Wharf...

It's only been a few days since the Democrats took 0ver in the House of Representatives, and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi has already demonstrated greater stupidity, crassness, and corruption than the entire Bush administration has since taking office in 2001.

First, there was the "I'm the most powerful woman in the world" tirade the day she took office.

Now, it turns out that a piece of legistlation she rammed through the House faster than you can say "StarKist" has exempted the entire territory of American Samoa in the minimum wage-hike bill. Why is this significant? American Samoa is the site of a tuna packing plant owned by a company in her San Francisco congressional district: Del Monte Corp. It seems that Samoans packing tuna can get by on less, so a HUGE GIANT BLOOD SUCKING corporation in SAN FRANCISCO can make more money.

Not that I'm saying Democrats are hypocrites when it comes to their diatribes against corporate American....well, I guess I'm saying it...

Read all about it here: Pelosi Snared in Wage-Hike Tuna Net

The shame, the shame...

UPDATE (1/17/07): The greatest living writer on earth, Mark Steyn, has weighed in on Mrs. Pelosi in a column in the Chicago Sun-Times, and finds her wanting. Note this column was written before the tuna scandal: Pelosi a rare example of a woman who 'has it all'. Highly recommended.

<>< TM

leaving islam...for real

Check out Isaac Schrodinger's (pseudonym) blog for a real life account of the difficulty involved in leaving Islam when you are a former Muslim: Isaac Schrödinger: The Marathon of My Life

Also note how many in the blogosphere helped him to leave!

(hat tip: Pierre Legrand)

<>< TM

just a note...

Just a note that I've been updating my blog roll, and you might see some changes. No one is being deleted, but there will be a few new additions, especially in the mil blogs section. I feel it is very important to keep tabs on what our military is doing around the world, and I've been finding that a few good blogs do a far better job than the mainstream media when it comes to nitty-gritty details of combat and life in a war zone.

Two new mil-blogs just added: BlackFive and Fourth Rail.


<>< TM do the Iraqis feel about W's plans for Iraq?

The following is an interesting article that recently appeared in the New York Post about how the Iraqi's feel concerning President Bush's plan for increased military effort to put-down the Iraqi insurgency. I'm reprinting it in my blog in full for archiving purposes. Please feel free to check out the original article at the New York Post web site.


Maliki: Fresh resolve to secure Baghdad.

January 12, 2007 -- 'A SIGH of relief!"

So one resident of Haifa Street, in the heart of Baghdad's badlands, reacted to the new plan to secure the Iraqi capital with the help of thousands of additional American troops.

"Maybe the Americans aren't running away after all," said the resident, a Sunni Arab, over the phone moments after President Bush unveiled his new plan. "The message seems to be that the United States will remain committed as long as Bush is in the White House."

Some 70 percent of Baghdad's violence is concentrated in five neighborhoods, where both Shiites and Sunnis have been the targets of rival death squads for months. Other Baghdadis say the population of those areas will greet the American troops with sweets and flowers.

The fear that the United States, bedeviled by internecine feuds, might cut and run has been at the root of the violence since Iraq's liberation in 2003.

Jihadists have fought not because they hope to win on the battlefield, but to strengthen the antiwar lobbies in the United States and Britain. Some in the new political elite have become fence sitters because they regard the United States as a fickle power that could suddenly change course. Others have created or expanded militias, in case the United States abandons Iraq before it can defend itself against internal foes and predatory neighbors.

The new Bush plan has raised Iraqi morale to levels not known for a year. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who had been dropping hints he might resign because of sheer fatigue, now says he is committed to restoring Baghdad's sobriquet of Dar al-Salaam (The Abode of Peace) by clearing it of al Qaeda and Saddamite terrorists, militias and death squads.

"The plan that President Bush has announced is based on our plan," says Ali al-Dabbagh, al-Maliki's spokesman. "We presented it to him during the summit in Amman last month, and he promised to study it. The result is a joint Iraqi-American plan to defeat the terrorists."

As if to underline that claim, the Iraqi army, backed by a U.S. helicopter gunship, launched a major operation in Baghdad two days before Bush's announcement of the new plan. Over 50 jihadists were killed, and an unknown number captured.

The operation signaled that the Iraqi army, backed by American firepower, was on the offensive. Which brings us to one of the paradoxes of Iraq during the last two years: There has been a great deal of killing, but little fighting. The terrorists, who mainly operate in less than 5 percent of Iraqi territory, have been allowed to strike whenever they wish without being chased by the Iraqi army or the multinational force. The multinational force has been mostly in "self-defense" mode. In 2006, the U.S. forces initiated only 11 operations against the jihadists; the British and the Danes, another three.

The new plan will see more fighting - and so force the jihadists to spend more resources on protecting themselves, and fewer on attacking soft civilian targets.

Iraqis that I've talked to are especially pleased that Bush did not take up the Iraq Study Group's idea of involving Iran in the future of Iraq. The idea of a secret U.S. plan to hand over Iraq to the Iranians (in the context of a grand bargain with the mullahs) has been one of the themes of Sunni jihadist propaganda. The claim has been echoed by some of Washington's allies, including Jordan's King Abdullah II.

Instead, Bush promised to "seek and destroy" networks of support for terrorists, set up by Iran and Syria. That is a sign he understands the broader regional aspects of this struggle. It is impossible to eradicate terrorism in Iraq without eliminating sources of support that lie beyond Iraqi frontiers.

Iraqis also welcome Bush's reasserted commitment to Iraq's integrity and see it as a rejection of ideas to carve the country into three mini-states.

Despite their almost unanimous welcome of the new plan, however, some Iraqis do express a number of concerns.

The first is that Bush might not achieve sufficient unity, both within his own administration and in the broader American political arena, to drive home the message that the jihadists will be hunted down and destroyed.

To address that concern, the president must become "explainer-in-chief," briefing the American people on what is at stake, and showing that the victory that the United States has won in Iraq, by destroying one of the most vicious anti-American regimes on earth, is worth fighting to preserve.

The second concern is that, as on several occasions, the hunt-and-destroy strategy against jihadists may be aborted by political considerations. Iraqis remember how operations in Fallujah, Najaf, Samarrah and Sadr City were called off after U.S. proconsul Paul Bremer, and the Iraqi prime ministers who succeeded him, intervened in response to political pressure.

The third concern is that the so-called room-service mentality of a portion of the Iraqi leadership may come into effect - will they sit back and let the Americans do the dirty work? This would be especially dangerous if the United States is dragged into the war of the sectarians on one side or another. It is important that the United States be, and is perceived to be, a friend and protector of all Iraqis, regardless of sect.

Some of the units used in the pacification of Baghdad are Kurdish; pan-Arabists may exploit that fact to foment chauvinism. It is, therefore, important to also deploy mainly Arab Sunni units both in Baghdad and in al-Anbar, the only one of Iraq's 18 provinces where the central government's presence is thin on the ground.

A fourth concern is that the new plan might be used as an excuse to freeze the democratic process. Local elections, postponed on spurious grounds, must be held as soon as possible to revive local administrations and speed the disbanding of various unofficial bodies, often backed by militias.

Finally, there is concern that plans to hand over control of all provinces to the Iraqi government may be put on hold. Today, Iraqis have full control of five provinces, and were slated to assume control of two more by the end of 2006. The hand-over plan must be completed before the next general election in 2009. This would release U.S. and allied troops of such routine duties as patrolling and asset and personnel protection.

That, in turn, would allow the bulk of the GIs and allied forces to start withdrawal by the end of this year, leaving behind training missions and special units to help destroy the terrorists.

Amir Taheri is an Iranian-born journalist and author based in Europe.


<>< TM

...and how do the American soldiers feel?

So how do the American troops in Iraq feel concerning their own situation, in light of President Bush's speech to increase the number of troops and step up offensive operations? Bill Roggio of The Fourth Rail blog has some insight. I'm reprinting his article in full on my blog, for my own archiving purposes. If you have any comments you'd like to leave about this article, I encourage you to put them on his blog.


Iraq: The greatest enemy is the time

How do the American soldiers see the situation in the Iraq? Our reporter went in the heart of the Sunni resistance, Anbar province. A report from the front:

As President Bush unveiled his new vision to move forward on Iraq, the political debate in the United States has continuously degenerated into a simple, binary choice of withdrawal to prevent further American casualties, or surge more troops to attempt to restore order in Baghdad. After spending two months out of the last 12 in the land between the two rivers, one thing I've learned is nothing is simple about Iraq, and there are no easy solutions to the vast array of problems. But despite the constant media portrayal of Iraq as a hopelessly violent nation, Iraq is not a nation without hope.

The average life of an insurgency is about nine years. In Iraq, the insurgents and al-Qaeda hope to wear down the will of the American government and people, and precipitate a premature withdrawal. When I talk to American troops about Iraq, their greatest concern isn't for their safety, but they are worried the American public has given up on the war before they can complete their mission. They watch the news - CNN, MSNBC and FOX News are beamed into the mess halls, some even possess satellite dishes with access to BBC World, Al Jazeera and hundreds of programs at their fingertips. Internet is readily available in many areas. I surfed the web in the center of Fallujah on wireless Internet.

American troops watch the news and follow the debate in real time. They will tell you the war they see on television isn't the war they are fighting. To the troops, the war as portrayed on television is oversimplified and digested into sound bites. The soldiers are portrayed as victims and the violence is grossly exaggerated.

From my own experiences with two months in Iraq out of a year, I had not personally witnessed an ambush, a roadside bombing or other attack. The closest action I saw were some poorly aimed mortar attacks in Fallujah, or a near by patrol getting hit (the bullets and RPGs never made contact). And this is in Anbar province, the most dangerous region in Iraq. I make it a point to accompany the troops on foot and mounted patrols on daily basis. This is not to say attacks do not occur on a daily basis in Anbar – they do,and Anbar is a dangerous place, but just not to every soldier at every minute on every day in every city and town.

The nature of the insurgency in Iraq is complex, and cannot be simply framed as a sectarian war or a war against "U.S. occupation." The insurgency is designed to destroy any semblance of a democratically elected Iraqi government, and is directed at the developing Iraqi security forces, the Iraqi government and institutions, U.S. and Coalition forces, and against sectarian targets.

The real secret about Iraq is the nature of the conflict you will encounter really depends on where you are geographically. In the regions where Sunni, Shia and other ethnic groups live together, such as Baghdad and the surrounding areas, the violence is largely sectarian in nature. Al-Qaeda in Iraq, Ansar al-Sunnah, along with some other Sunni insurgent groups purposefully attack Shia civilians to stir the sectarian violence and foment a civil war. Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the deceased leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq, admitted a civil war was his goal in a letter to Osama bin Laden in late 2003. Muqtada al-Sadr's radical Shia Mahdi Army roams Sunni neighborhoods in and around Baghdad to execute Sunnis and incite Sunni reprisals, helping to stoke the fires of a Sunni-Shia war.

In the Shia dominated south, a power struggle is occurring between rival political organizations for control over government institutions and oil revenue. North of Baghdad, Ansar al-Sunnah, a violent terrorist organization that espouses the beliefs of Osama bin Laden, along with the Islamic Army in Iraq focus their attacks largely on U.S. forces and the Iraqi government.

In Anbar province, where I embedded in the city of Fallujah last December, sectarian violence is virtually non-existent. In fact, Sunni tribes have rallied to protect their Shia neighbors numerous times in the past and drove of al-Qaeda attempts to 'cleanse' the region of Shia. Al-Qaeda blood ran in the streets the few times they tried to purge the Shia from Ramadi.

In Fallujah, Ramadi and greater Anbar province, Al-Qaeda in Iraq the most dominant insurgent organization. Al-Qaeda focuses its attacks on Iraqi government security forces, government institutions, as well as U.S. Army and Marine units operating in the region. Their ability to fund the insurgency in the impoverished province is their greatest weapon. Unemployed Sunnis are a paid well (as much of $1,000 according to a military intelligence source) to attack Iraqi and Coalition forces. While there is a large volume of insurgent attacks, the large majority of attacks fail. The fact is an overwhelming majority of roadside bombs are discovered and detonated by Iraqi or Coalition forces.

Al-Qaeda in Iraq is attempting to unite the fractious insurgent groups in the western and northern Sunni majority provinces, and has created an umbrella political organization called the Islamic State of Iraq. Some smaller Sunni insurgent groups, along with some leaders of Iraqi tribes and have been rolled under the banner of the Islamic State of Iraq, along with al-Qaeda in Iraq's Mujahideen Shura Council.

To counter al-Qaeda's attempt to 'Iraqify' the jihad, the U.S. and Iraqi government are working to institute political, economic and military solutions. While I was in Fallujah, I witnessed two of the three pillars in action: the military and political efforts.

In the political sphere, I attended several meetings, including the Anbar province mayor's meeting, hosted by the governor of Fallujah, and the Fallujah city council meeting. Security dominates the discussions, as do reconstruction projects. The political leaders clashed with the Army representatives over certain security policies. The politicians were encouraged to assist with the recruitment of local police, and to work with the tribal leaders to meet the goals. In a recent police recruitment drive at the end of December, the city of Fallujah recruited 80 new candidates. The goal was 60. In Anbar province, 1,115 recruits joined the police.

In the military sphere, the Iraqi Army and Iraqi Police are beginning to work together to tamp down the insurgency in the city. The Iraqi Army has a brigade (about 2,000 soldiers) inside the city, and has completely taken ownership of the battle space. The Iraqi Police number about 700, and are beginning to assert themselves despite being targeted by al-Qaeda. The Iraqi Police in Fallujah have even developed a 30 man Special Missions Group force which trained to enter building and detain insurgents.

Inside Fallujah, there is no U.S. Marine or Army presence, save the members of the Police and Military Transition Teams – small, 15 to 20 man teams that are embedded within the police and Army units. I embedded as a reporter with both the Police and Military Transition Teams in Fallujah. The Marines in these teams take great risk in dong their daily job. They live, eat and sleep with their Iraqi counterparts, and are wholly dependent on them for security. Their American backup is stationed outside the city limits.

As brave as the American Marines are, their Iraqi counterparts outshine them. The police, who are local to the city, are specifically targeted by insurgents. Since the late sumer, 21 Iraqi police were murdered by insurgents. Their families are regularly threatened with violence. Several police officers told me how that while they were home they would sit with their backs to the door, AK-47 in hand, as they feared their homes would be stormed and their families would be killed.

The Iraqi Army lives inside the city in forward operating bases, without heavy weapons of their own. They depend on American air, artillery and mortars to bail them out when needed. The Iraqi soldiers, or jundi, patrol the streets on foot up to four times a day. Despite the fact that they, as Iraqis, are viewed as 'occupiers' by many residents of Fallujah, the soldiers have built their own intelligence networks. While on foot patrols in Fallujah, I watched as Iraqi soldiers were called into courtyards by residents who wanted to provide information on insurgent activity. The Fallujans, while terrified of the insurgents, are tired of the violence and wish to move on.

The police and soldiers do their jobs with very little resources. Some haven't been paid in a year. Supplies and equipment such as helmets, bullet proof vests, uniforms and batteries are in high demand demand, as the Iraqi Army logistical system is broken. The police just received armor Humvees to patrol the city, and have been up-armoring their pickup trucks with scrap armor kits. Despite these problems, morale and fighting spirit are not an issue. In fact, the police and Army believe that, if given the right equipment, they can defeat the insurgents without U.S. help.

While embedded with an Iraqi Army infantry unit in Fallujah, I watched a program called al-Zawraa. The jundi call this channel 'Muj TV' (for mujahideen television), as it broadcasts violent insurgent, al-Qaeda and Ansar al-Sunnah videos, as well as calls for violence against the Shia “Persians.” Al-Zawraa is run by a Mishan al-Jabouri, a former Sunni member of parliament who is now wanted by the government and living in Syria.

The Iraqi soldiers watch al-Zawraa to get to know their enemy, to motivate them to fight the insurgents and for amusement. The videos are replayed in a near loop, and the soldiers recognize the locations of the attacks as many of them served throughout Iraq. When asked if they feared al-Qaeda and the insurgents, the answer was emphatically “No, just give us guns like you have, tanks like you have and we'll take care of them.”

Nationwide, the Iraqi Army and Police clearly are not ready to fight the insurgents and militias on their own. Baghdad and Ramadi are clearly two cities where the police and Army would collapse without U.S. backing. But the police and soldiers in Fallujah believe they can. Pride, courage and fighting spirit are certainly traits these soldiers do not lack. They will need time to develop the capacity to fight on their own, and time is the one commodity the West seems to be short of.


<>< TM

Friday, January 12, 2007

"jews face mass extermination"

From Israel National News (INN):


A leading mosque in London is selling DVDs that proclaim the coming mass extermination of Jews around the world on a 'day of judgment.' It also attacks Christian groups and the United Nations.

The London Central Mosque, also known as Regent's Park Mosque, is 'the spiritual focal point for Muslims' throughout Great Britain, the European Jewish Press reported. It is also home to the Islamic Cultural Center, which educates Muslim children.

The report said that a British television station will air on Monday a documentary on Muslim extremism in Britain, and will report the selling of the DVD.

Forgive me if my priorities seem misplaced, but I believe there may be some more urgent and serious global problems facing us at this time that may be a tad more important than global warming...

(hat tip: Atlas Shrugs)

<>< TM

Thursday, January 11, 2007

philosophy vs poetry

Thanks to Plato, there has been a rather silly but very interesting controversy as to philosophy vs poetry. Plato started it by demeaning poets, especially Homer, for telling so many tall tales that had little to do with understanding and living in the "real" world. For Plato, wisdom could only be found through the pursuit of philosophy, not listening to the epic adventures of Achilles and Ulysses. Homer was for Plato what pop culture is for us today: a lot of fluff and goofiness to keep us entertained, nothing more. A kind of "opiate for the people" so to speak.

(For an interesting discussion of this topic, check out Harold Bloom's book "Where Shall Wisdom Be Found?")

Yet Plato's disciple Aristotle certainly didn't seem to view poetry as a bad thing, not even the epic poet Homer. Aristotle even went so far as to lay down some ground rules as to what a really good poem should be like, but there is no suggestion from Aristotle that poetry had anything to do with the pursuit of wisdom. To him, it was just a neat little art form, not much more.

But here's the question: what is the best possible source of wisdom, poetry or philosophy? Is it right for philosophers to ignore or even despise poetry, or is the wisdom they are seeking right there in Homer, Shakespeare and Whitman?

For me personally, I think it is rather obvious that the best practical wisdom and insight comes from poetry, not Plato and Aristotle. If you ever have a hard time getting to sleep, just pick up "the complete works of Aristotle" sometime and wade through that. You'll be asleep within four pages, guaranteed.

But if you want something with a bit of action to it, get Robert Fagle's translation of Homer's Iliad. Yeah, the Iliad has it's dry spots, but starts out with a bang, and there is a deep wisdom to Homer that Socrates, Plato and many others simply do not appreciate.

Why is poetry a better source of wisdom than philosophic texts? Because ever since Plato and Aristotle, philosophy has limited itself to that which can be understood through reason alone, like math, logic, and those sort of things. Lately, a rational empiricist approach to science has left us even more alienated, along with the rise of militant atheism in the 19th century. There was never much interest in emotions or feelings, rather emotions were thought to be the antithesis of good philosophy (perhaps with the exception of "love" --but love can be an attitude as well as a feeling). The culmination of this sort of "dissing" of emotions can be found in the fictional person of Mr. Spock of Star Trek fame.

Homer, on the other hand, begins his huge epic poem Iliad with the 'rage of Achilles'. It is emotional from the very first words, and cares little about finding out the secrets of the physical world, and is much more interested in delving into the secrets and the darkness in men's hearts.

The same can be said for the great epic poem of the Indian/Hindu tradition, the Bhagavad Gita, where prince Arjuna in goaded into action by Lord Krishna (the avatar of God). The focus of the Gita is not on the secrets of the physical world, but the secrets of existence itself, and our relation to our own existence. It is much closer to the Iliad than it is to Plato's dialogs, and takes emotions and feelings quite seriously, if only so that one can transcend them, into a higher realm of being.

But those texts that are the most honest and the most "down-to-earth" when it comes to emotions, are the books of the Christian/Hebrew Bible. Unlike Plato and even the Gita, emotions are never downplayed or made to be irrelevant, but are celebrated, commended, and even condemned. The most emotional character of them all, especially in the Hebrew writings, is that of God himself! While he's mostly (and inaccurately) remembered for his anger, it must be contrasted with his love and concern for his people, and those of other nations as well. He is a loving God who gets angry when is love is spurned, not an angry God who demands to be loved. When God gets the most angry, it is often due when the Israelites get caught up in the typical concerns of life: getting rich, getting along with others, making a name for yourself, meaningless religious rituals, and that sort of stuff, and by doing so, they begin mistreating the poor, the widows, the homeless orphans. That's the behavior that God gets most angry with: selfishness. Just read the first chapter of the book of Isaiah to get a taste of it.

Many of the great biblical books and biblical passages are poetry. The exception is the first five books of Moses, which can sometimes be as dry and boring as reading a meatloaf recipe, but some of the greatest stories and insights come from those first five books as well, and there are parts which certainly seem much more poetic than narrative. I would go so far as to say that the first chapters of Genesis are more of a poem, and an epic poem at that, than a literal creation account given my an impartial observer. Those first few chapters of Genesis are also a source of deep wisdom, for those who can contemplate it's depths.

I have come to the conclusion (and in complete agreement with Harold Bloom) that in order for one to be truly wise, to really have understanding, one must know and understand poetry. You can get by without reading Aristotle, Aquinas, and Kant, but you will not be wise without knowing the Iliad, King Lear, and Leaves of Grass. But more importantly, you must come to know the great poetry of the Bible, especially Job, Ecclesiastes, and Song of Solomon. These biblical poems are not always that easy to read, nor understand, but still they sit at the very crux of western civilization, even more so than Homer or Virgil. (I know there are classics professors who would scoff at this, but it is my humble opinion anyways.) Homer and Virgil you can do without, (just rent "Troy" instead) but those three books of the Hebrew cannot, not if wisdom is your desire. After that, then read the Greeks, Romans, and Indians. Or better yet: Proverbs, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Daniel and Ezekiel. And then Matthew, Mark, Luke, John and James.

Biblical poems are not the end of wisdom, but they are a great beginning.

"The fear of the LORD is the beginning of Wisdom..."
(Psalm 111:10)

<>< TM

the wise one speaks!

they did the same thing to Jesus and Socrates...

(hat tip: Get Religion)

<>< TM

doomsday thoughts

As if we didn't have enough to be terrified about, Pamela at the Atlas Shrugs blog has posted a PSA for a group called the Lifeboat Foundation. Here's the post: Atlas Shrugs: Doomsday Thoughts

The cause: we need to take a stance against the "religion of science" ideology, and they are right to fear this.

It would be easy to laugh this off as some sort of crackpot lunatic fringe movement, but I can tell you from my own experiences and reading that this problem is not being exaggerated. The doomsday scenario is not unrealistic in the least, though somewhat improbable.

Compared to the non-existant threat of global warming, the 'religion of science' ideology is something to be truly concerned about.

File this one away for later reference. I encourage you to do your own research on this subject...

Science threw ethics out the window some time ago, and now it's all about fame, money and power. Michael Chrichton, in his various books, has been warning us about this for many decades. The result: as helpful as science has been to us, it is about to turn a very dark and menacing corner that will effect us in negative ways that most of us cannot even comprehend.

Be very afraid. I know I am.

<>< TM

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

don't mess with the bunny

...we need to send this dude to Iraq...

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

tigger attacks!!!

Tigger Punching/hitting Kid at Disney World

Get 'em Tigger!!! That little Jerry Jr. has PUNK written all over him...

<>< TM

Sunday, January 07, 2007

2006 Department 56 Christmas Display

The careful observer might notice some of the gifts I asked Santa for make an appearance in this carefully!

<>< TM

theodicy's poetry corner

Haven't had a poetry corner in a while, so it's time, once again, to bring high literature to the readers of the THEODICY blog.

For today's guest poet, we have that great bard from the Land of Lincoln: Carl Sandburg.

The fog comes
on little cat feet.

It sits looking
over harbor and city
on silent haunches
then moves on.

<>< TM

a theodicy for natural evil

Any an excellent article about the problem of evil from the Weblog of a Christian philosophy student
"There are three facts about the world that I think we, as Christians and/or philosophers can be fairly sure about, and that these facts combined together, when understood properly mean that the problem of evil is not a significant one. The problem of evil, by the way, being understood essentially in this way:

1. If God is all loving, he would desire to prevent evil.
2. If God is all powerful, he would be able to prevent evil.
3. If God is all knowing, he would know how to prevent evil.
4. Evil exists.
5. God does not exist (by modus tollens.)

Although at a glance this argument seems to be a strong one, it is not deductively valid."
Read the entire article here.

(hat tip: metacrock's blog)

<>< TM

this is tom jones...

Thanks to the Anchoress I've spent too many late nights having all sorts of fun over at YouTube checking out their collection of Tom Jones videos.

Tom Jones was a HUGELY popular singer/performer from the mid 60's to the early 70's. He's still with us and still performing, but not quite as well known as other pop stars from that era. But when he was big, he was REALLY big, including his own TV show: "This is Tom Jones." (1969-1971)

Many of the Tom Jones clips are not able to be embedded into a blog like so many other YouTube videos, so I'm providing the dear readers of this blog a list of the best Tom Jones videos. If you can only watch one, check out What I'd Say as performed on his TV show. Be advised that the videos listed here span a time frame of over 30 years of his career!

Tom Jones: What I'd Say

Tom Jones: Soul Man

Tom Jones: RESPECT

Tom Jones: She's a Lady
(one of his own hit songs)

Tom Jones: Long Tall Sally

Tom Jones: KISS (Yes, this is the song made famous by PRINCE!)

Tom Jones: Moma Told Me Not To Come

Tom Jones: Take Me to the River

Tom Jones: Resurrection Shuffle

Tom Jones: It's Not Unusual
(This is Tom Jones' greatest hit)

And a couple of bonus videos from the Fresh Prince of Bel Aire TV show that feature Carlton dancing to Tom Jones' 'It's Not Unusual.'

Fresh Prince: The Carlton Dance I

Fresh Prince: The Carlton Dance II

<>< TM

P. J. O'Rourke on why they fight

Another excellent piece from the pages of the Wall Street Journal, this time a quote from journalist P.J. O'Rourke. The context is the problem of the ongoing war in Iraq:
"I have no idea if some societies, anthropologically speaking, aren't really suited for democracy. I don't think that's true. But there certainly are societies that just love to fight. Northern Ireland, for instance. You couldn't stop that problem because they were having fun--they were really, really enjoying themselves. It would still be going on full-force today if the sons of bitches hadn't accidentally gotten rich. What happened was, more and more people started getting cars, and television sets, and got some vacation time down in Spain, and it wasn't that they wanted to stop fighting and killing each other and being lunatics, but they got busy and forgot.

"So our job," he says, "is to make the Iraqis get busy and forget. 'You know, I meant to kill all those other people but, well, jeez, I had to get the kids off to school, the car was filthy and I had to take it down to the car wash, the dog got sick on the rug. Killing all those Shiites is still on my to-do list . . .' " Mr. O'Rourke argues we are well on our way to creating "Weimar Iraq"--a grave phrase--and concludes, mordantly, "I'm so glad the problem is above my pay-grade."
He's right...we are creating a Weimar Iraq. That's not a happy thought.

Read the entire interview with P.J. O'Rourke.

<>< TM

Friday, January 05, 2007

honey, they shrunk the Wall Street Journal...

One of the most amazing experiences I've had already this new year, is the new Wall Street Journal print edition: they made it smaller.

It's about three inches narrower -- enough to eliminate one of the traditional columns.

But they have not shrunk the quality, as a matter of fact, the paper is just as informative as it ever has been, perhaps even more so.

Some interesting articles about the new WSJ:

Dow Jones: press release about the changes
Advertising Age: Why the new 'Wall Street Journal' works
Huntington News: Small Street Journal
Sun-Times / AP: Wall Street Journal unveils new, narrower design

<>< TM

...speaking of the Wall Street Journal....

There have been some excellent op-eds in the Wall Street Journal lately. Often these go unnoticed by many, so as a service to the readers of this blog, I have highlighted a few that have appeared within the past week to give you an idea as to the range of ideas expressed in the Journal's editorial pages.

No subscription or login is necessary for these articles, they are provided "free of charge" by the WSJ to the public at large.

Some excellent and pragmatic ideas for helping Iraq avoid a total meltdown.

"Modern atheists have no new arguments, and they lack their forebears' charm."

Taking a page out of modern consulting to increase the ranks of the faithful

"Let them say of these next two years: We used our time well."
Yes, even President Bush writes op-ed's for the Journal...

But the way of the world remains Saddam's.
An excellent piece from Mark Bowden, author of Blackhawk Down, on what to expect in Iraq, and how it effects our ability to bring peace and saftey to that country.

How to avoid a repeat, and why it's crucial to do so.
Amazingly, the Democrats actually want the Iraq war to be another "Vietnam" Here's an editorial that gives some advice as to how that can be prevented.

How does 500 miles a gallon sound to you?
Excellent, practical ideas about how American can obtain energy independence in a relatively quick fashion.

See what you have been missing?

<>< TM

The Journey is the Destination II: Chicago to New York

Having done this trip, this YouTube video brought back memories...

Thursday, January 04, 2007

not a good beginning...

From today's Washington Times: Pelosi ready to make history as new speaker

"After calling herself 'the most powerful woman in America,' Mrs. Pelosi flexed her right muscle like a weight lifter to much applause at an event yesterday titled a 'women's tea.'

'All right, let's hear it for the power,' she screamed as the jubilant applause continued.

When Mrs. Pelosi tried leaving the podium, Rep. Rosa DeLauro, Connecticut Democrat, asked her to stay.

'There is so much love and warmth that's in this room today and that's because of the new speaker,' Mrs. DeLauro said. 'And that tells you about what the future is all about in the House of Representatives.' "

Oh yes, it certainly does tell us the future of the House in the hands of Pelosi: it's been handed over to a power hungry wench. I can't even imagine the previous most powerful woman in America, Condi Rice, doing anything that stupid. But then the Democratic leadership has never been accused of being intelligent nor tactful.

Lord have mercy; God have mercy...

(hat tip: Atlas Shrugs)

<>< TM

the end of many births

"It is only at the end of many births, the man of wisdom surrenders to Me, realizing that Vasudeva is all. But it is very rare to come across such great souls."
[Bhagavad Gita: Chapter 7 Verse 19]

This is a quote from the famous Hindu text, the Bhagavad Gita.

"Vasudeva" is the father of Krishna, the avatar of God.

"many births" refers to reincarnation.

"end of many births" refers to the eventual realization of the knowledge of the presence of God, hence a person no longer has to go through the cycles of reincarnation. (i.e. "enlightenment")

For later reference....

<>< TM

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

we're all gonna die!

...well, of course we are, but not from global warming.

There was an interesting news blurb about the newly threatened polar bear, and how the horrendously evil GLOBAL WARMING conspiracy of Karl Rove and George Bush will wipe all the cute, cuddly arctic bears off the face of the earth.

The only problem is that the polar bear population has been rapidly expanding during the past forty years, and the population, as far as can be determined, is at an all-time historic high. (source: 1/3/07 Wall Street Journal) Also check out this report from Fox News.

Other sources estimate that the polar bear population has stablized at approximately 25,000 worldwide. There has been no noticeable decrease in the worldwide polar bear population. (source: While the bear population in an around the Hudson Bay area of Canada is decreasing, the population of bears nearer the Arctic Ocean shows every sign of increasing. Remember that the Hudson Bay bears are in the extreme southern range of the polar bear.

This polar bear scare is yet another example highlighting the irrational exuberance of the global warming religious, and how they completely ignore the science that they claim as their savior, in favor of the junk science that props up their religious beliefs.

The issue here is not the polar bear, it is global warming. The idea behind the "threatened" existence of the polar bear is that they are ALL GOING TO DIE because the Arctic sea ice is currently at a lower level than in the recent past. Of course this does not mean that there is no sea ice in the Arctic Ocean, just that there is less than "normal." (i.e. the past 30 or 40 years or so...) As usual, El Nino gets the blame for this, combined with a recent warming trend in general.

Well, doesn't the reduction in sea ice prove that GLOBAL WARMING is true? Well, no. It proves that there has been a general worldwide warming trend, caused by known, non-human caused natural phenomena, but there is nothing to suggest that this warming trend will continue ad infinitum as the Al Gores of this world firmly believe. The best scientific evidence demonstrates that the earth goes through 1,500 year cycles of cooling and heating, and most scientists agree that we may be in one of those warming trends. (check this out too.)

It is well known by scientists that the earth has been a far, far warmer place than it is now, so warm that in fact there were forests and plant life spread throughout Antarctica. This is long, long before the first Chevy Suburban showed up. It is also believed that the default condition of the earth's climate is actually at an average global temperature much warmer than anything we are currently experiencing. In other words, we are still coming out of an ice age...hence global warming is true to a certain extent, but not due to American's driving SUV's. For a period of a mere 220 MILLION YEARS the average global temperature was much warmer than it is now--all the way from the Triassic to the Pliocene. It is simply the natural state of the earth's climate to be warm, from a geological perspective. (And no, dinosaurs do not count as prehistoric SUV's.)

But there is no scientific data to suggest that the reduction in sea ice has impacted the polar bears negatively, if at all. Polar bears only need sea ice for denning purposes, not hunting or feeding. Those who have monitored and studied polar bear activity show conclusively that bears prefer the boundary area between the pack ice and the open sea, as they need access to open water in order to survive, and normally stay away from areas that are completely iced over.

It is also known that polar bears will den on land as well as pack ice, hence even if the pack ice should completely disappear, polar bears certainly will least not any time soon...

So feel free to keep driving that Suburban in're not responsible for melting the polar ice caps and killing all the polar bears after all.

<>< TM

in praise of: metacrock's blog

In my quest to find excellent resources of theological and philosophical discourse here in cyberspace, I happened upon an excellent little site entitled metacrock's blog (a pun on metacritic perhaps?) hosted by J.L. Hinman. It is an excellent resource for those interested in apologetics: the defense of the Christian faith.

Hinman's superbly written articles are sure to supply much needed cranial stimulation, especially the most recent: "brain chemistry and the presence of God". J.L. evens writes about THEODICY ...for example:
"Now atheists hate the repair to mystery, they see it as a cop out. Ordinarily I have to agree with them. As a former atheist that is one thing that drove me up the wall when I would argue with Christians, every time you get them in a corner they try to get out by repairing to mystery; no one knows the mind of God. I don't think what I'm saying here is that, because I'm not saying we can use this mystery to close down any sort of questioning about theodicy. I'm just saying that the true reasons for it are not something we can ever really know in words; although perhaps we can know it in mystical union with God."

from the article: Waiting for Godot on the Silentest Night of the Year
If you wish to sharpen your apologetic skills, visit metacrock's blog wont' be sorry.

<>< TM

the children of hollywood’s deformed imagination

Want to go see the new film entitled "Children of Men?" Read Thomas Hibb's review first.

Philosophers make great film reviewers.

<>< TM

Monday, January 01, 2007

Spears Falls Asleep in Vegas Nightclub

The year 2007 isn't even 24 hours old, and already we have an actual headline from a leading American "newspaper" that has to be the stupidest headline of the year:

Spears Falls Asleep in Vegas Nightclub -

The "Spears" that the Post is referring to is none other than the famous Britney.

Obvisously the mainstream news media has nothing better to do than report on Britney's social life and sleeping habits. I'm so glad the Associated Press took the time and energy to let us know that she fell asleep in a Vegas nightclub. I can now live a better, more righteous life with that information tuck into my little noggin. Though I do think the news media should also let us know when she has successfully gone to the lady's room as well....can't be too careful.

Yet another reason why I only subscribe to the Wall Street Journal.

<>< TM

In the sky! A bird? A plane? A ... UFO?

Apparently, space aliens get no better treatment at major airports than the rest of us. This just in from the Chicago Tribune: a UFO cited just above Concourse "C" at O'Hare airport back on November 7th: In the sky! A bird? A plane? A ... UFO?:

"It sounds like a tired joke--but a group of airline employees insist they are in earnest, and they are upset that neither their bosses nor the government will take them seriously.

A flying saucerlike object hovered low over O'Hare International Airport for several minutes before bolting through thick clouds with such intense energy that it left an eerie hole in overcast skies, said some United Airlines employees who observed the phenomenon.

Was it an alien spaceship? A weather balloon lost in the airspace over the world's second-busiest airport? A top-secret military craft? Or simply a reflection from lights that played a trick on the eyes?

Officials at United professed no knowledge of the Nov. 7 event--which was reported to the airline by as many as a dozen of its own workers--when the Tribune started asking questions recently. But the Federal Aviation Administration said its air traffic control tower at O'Hare did receive a call from a United supervisor asking if controllers had spotted a mysterious elliptical-shaped craft sitting motionless over Concourse C of the United terminal.

No controllers saw the object, and a preliminary check of radar found nothing out of the ordinary, FAA spokeswoman Elizabeth Isham Cory said.

The FAA is not conducting a further investigation, Cory said. The theory is the sighting was caused by a "weather phenomenon," she said.

The UFO report has sparked some chuckles among controllers in O'Hare tower.

"To fly 7 million light years to O'Hare and then have to turn around and go home because your gate was occupied is simply unacceptable," said O'Hare controller and union official Craig Burzych.

HAVE A HAPPY NEW YEAR! No matter where in the galaxy (or universe) you may be from.

<>< TM