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Showing posts from August, 2011

Faithful Presbyterians may start new denomination

Members of the Presbyterian Church-USA who believe themselves bound by Christian sexual ethics are considering following the lead of ELCA conservatives and starting their own denomination.

It remains to be seen whether the new church body repeats the mistakes of the Lutheran Churches in Mission for Christ and the North American Lutheran Church  by ignoring the prohibition of women's ordination in 1 Timothy 2:12 and disregarding the theology of I Corinthians 11:17-37 by embracing the "anybody who likes crackers and wine come on down" approach to the Sacrament known as open communion.

Having learned nothing from history, the LCMS and NALC are doomed to repeat it. They will be smaller versions of the ELCA within a generation.

'Doomsday Comet' Elenin fizzles

Comet Elenin- discovered last December, thought to be a sure-bet naked eye comet, and even said by some to be on a collision course with Earth- is breaking up.

Hey, it happens. The first potentailly spectacular comet I personally looked for was the infamous Comet Kohoutek, which fizzled in 1973

On the average, great comets (comets of significant brightness and visibility, and hence of historic significance) come every ten years. Since the last one was Comet McNaught, in January of 2007, we would have been six years ahead of schedule. But after all, great comets Hyakutake and Hale-Bopp were only a year apart, in 1996 and 1997.

I'm disappointed that we won't get to see Elenin (I missed McNaught, procrastinating until cloud cover hid it permanently from view in the Northern Hemisphere; its best showing was in the Southern Hemisphere, anyway). But not getting nuked by a potentially extinction-inducing snowball from outer space is nice, too.

Some people just don't learn

Our beloved Vice-President says what America needs to do is spend more.

That's what "stimulus" means, in English.

Of course, as Warren Buffett observes, we already have quite a sizable stimulus going.

It's called the deficit.

"Bombs bursting in air" unacceptable at Goshen

Goshen College in Goshen, Indiana is the alma mater of a former girlfriend of mine. Since it's a Mennonite school, I suppose that it's understandable that it finds the lyrics of The Star Spangled Banner too violent for the pacifist sensibilities of its constituency.

Still, it seems a bit excessive that its Board of Directors has banned even the music.

At the same time, the decision is less outrageous than it sounds. Apparently the college would have no problem with playing, say, America the Beautiful at sporting events and suchlike. They say they're simply interested in finding a way to honor America that is a little less martial. Which, in a diverse society that respects the First Amendment, this seems reasonable to me.

I must confess , though, that I don't see anything terribly warlike about the music to The Star Spangled Banner.

HT: Drudge

I don't know about Lucy being in the sky, but....

Astronomers have discovered a crystaline planet orbiting a distant pulsar that might be made of diamond.

Unfortunately, it's too late for the royal wedding. Or even Kim Kardashian's. Still, maybe Kim should check it out; an earing made out of this sucker would be hard to lose!

Pulsars are rotating neutron stars which radiate electromagnetic beams
that seem to flair when they sweep into Earth's line of sight. The effect is something like a the beam of a lighthouse.

Carbon planets such as "Planet Tiffany-" the highly unofficial name for the newly-discovered object- have been widely accepted as theoretical possibilities. Its official name is J1719-1438, and it's five times the size of Earth.

Perhaps the pulsar should be named "Lucy."

Was today's USA Today the Pennsylvania Dutch edition?

Either that, or Yoda wrote the headline:

Libyan Oil Industry May Fast Recover
Oh, yes. Good news at the pump, that would be.

There is a certain symmetry here

The East Coast earthquake has cracked the Washington Monument.

Now the politicians aren't the only things in Washington that are cracked.

HT: Drudge

Trent? Vatican II? JDDJ? Unam Sanctum? Was gibt?

Is the Roman Catholic church on the side of the angels, or...er, not so much?

Does it agree with us Lutherans (and with Paul) that we're saved by grace, for Christ's sake, through faith (as Vatican II and the JDDJ would seem to indicate, or does it believe (as the Council of Trent insisted) that we Lutherans are going to hell for believing that very thing?

THe dilemma is a real one, since according to Roman Catholic teaching both Vatican II and Trent are infallible, and both represent the church's official teaching.

A church which soundly embraces the liturgical and sacramental character of biblical Christian faith and staunchly defends the rights of the unborn and the sexual ethics taught by the apostles on one hand, while continuing to make presumptuous claims for itself institutionally and managing to simultaneously both condemn and endorse the Gospel itself on the other, is a puzzle oft remarked upon by confessional Lutherans. But there's something about a video (…

With Hendry gone, I can follow the Cubs again

I neglected to note this a couple of days ago, when it became public. But it's worth mentioning.

My condition has been met. Tom Ricketts and the Cubs have signaled that they care by firing GM Jim Hendry. As of now, I"m following the Cubs again.

I was a Hendry defender for years. He was, after all, the most successful Cubs general manager of my lifetime, presiding over three division championships and coming within five outs in 2003 of presiding over our first pennant winner since 1945. I'll never forget how he turned the essentially worthless Todd Hundley (and minor league outfielder Chad Hermanson) into gold- or more precisely, Eric Karros and Mark Grudzielanek- two fine players who were key parts of that 2003 team.

But the hangup over the Trib's sale of the Cubs got in the way, spiking a trade which would have brought Jake Peavy- and perhaps another championship- to the North Side. And Hendry shot himself in the foot, tying up the team's resources with a number …

Secularist McCarthyism: Bachmann, Perry and the 'Dominionism' smear

Here we go again. The Republican primaries are six months away, and already news stories are raising fears on the left about “crazy Christians.”-- Lisa Miller, The Washington Post, August 18, 2011
Folks, when the Washington Post comes to the rescue of conservatives being libeled by the secularist Left, you know that the charges in question are nutty.

But when the author of the article in question is Lisa Miller- the  über-secularist religion editor of Newsweek, responsible for the magazine's notoriously eisogetical piece purporting to build a biblical case for same-sex "marriage-" is the author of the defense, you know that the charges spring from more than the ordinary amount of ignorance and/or malice.

Miller wrote precisely such a piece for the Post in the wake of a bizarre meme on the far Left of the blogosphere charging Minnesota Congressman Michele Bachmann and Texas Governor Rick Perry- both candidates for the Republican presidential nomination- with association w…

Just what we need: another Republican candidate who foams at the mouth

Remember my post from earlier in the week, where I said that Texas Gov. Rick Perry might be electable?

Well, forget it.

Yesterday the newest entry in the GOP presidential race said that Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke's monetary policy is "almost treasonous," and claimed that if the Fed "printed more money" between now and the election it would be "playing politics."

Really, Governor? Aside from the over-the-top nature of charging the Fed chairman- an honorable man and a patriotic American, whether you agree with him or not, and someone with whom you're going to have to work if you are elected to the White House- do you really believe that anybody who tries to get the economy moving between now and the election is "playing politics" and trying to help President Obama? That kind of thing might play in Texas. But in the rest of the country, it just gets you labeled as a fanatic.

The irresponsibilty of Perry's comments is compounded by his ref…

Silly season in Ames

One of the drawbacks to Iowa's prominent position in the national political process is that an abnormally large percentage of the folks in both parties are, to use Alan Simpson's phrase, "a couple of tacos short of a combination platter." Mitt Romney got a good sample of the result last Friday at the Iowa State Fair, when he strove in vain to convince a gaggle of rabid Democrats that it's stockholders- many of them ordinary people, who rely on corporate profits to fund their 401k's- rather than CEO's who own corporations (that's the context of the quotation I predict you'll hear out of context through the whole campaign next year, if Romney is the nominee: "My friend, corporations are people."). "No!," the crowd kept shouting. "They (the corporations) keep it all (the profits) for themselves!"

In Ames on Saturday, their Republican counterparts had their day. The two crackpots in the race for the Republican presidentia…

Obama, too, bears his share of the blame

Well, the deficit deal didn't work. Standard and Poor's thought that less than three trillion out of a fourteen trillion dollar deficit wasn't good enough- and was convinced by the Tea Party's and the GOP's brinksmanship in holding the economy hostage to blackmail  that our national leaders at present lack both the will and the common sense to handle the situation like grownups.

S&P downgraded us to AA+ rating. For the first time in our history, we are considered a less reliable national credit risk than Canada, Germany, and the UK. The very thing the Tea Party tried to blackmail us with happened despite the deal (though probably not in as severe a form as would have happened if we'd defaulted; we still maintain our AAA rating with two of the three rating agencies).

Two things need to be borne in mind in assessing blame. The first is that it is very likely that the downgrade could have been avoided if the Republicans had accepted Obama's original deal,…

The S&P downgrade is the fault of the Tea Party and its allies

Here is Standard and Poor's explanation for its decision to lower America's credit rating:

We have lowered our long-term sovereign credit rating on the United States of America to 'AA+' from 'AAA' and affirmed the 'A-1+' short-term rating.We have also removed both the short- and long-term ratings from CreditWatch negative.

The downgrade reflects our opinion that the fiscal consolidation plan that Congress and the Administration recently agreed to falls short of what, in our view, would be necessary to stabilize the government's medium-term debt dynamics.

More broadly, the downgrade reflects our view that the effectiveness, stability, and predictability of American policymaking and political institutions have weakened at a time of ongoing fiscal and economic challenges to a degree more than we envisioned when we assigned a negative outlook to the rating on April 18, 2011.

Since then, we have changed our view of the difficulties in bridging the gulf …

You'd never know it from the State Fair, but there are things that even Iowans won't eat.

I've derived many an hour's pleasure from The Virtual Autopsy, a site maintained by a British medical school. There, medical histories, autopsy findings, and even pictures of the autopsied organs of folk who have shuffled off this mortal coil are provided, together with the opportunity in each case to choose among multiple possible causes of death and then have your "findings" critiqued . I actually got rather good at it, and wish that there were many, many more cases to "solve." In fact, the site almost makes me think I would have been a good  forensic pathologist!

Almost. Chemistry was never a strength of mine, and I"m afraid that it can't be avoided in pathology- or in most medical specialties, actually.

Anyway, one of the cases the web site presents involves a teenaged girl who died after eating  "a chip butty" (above). Being an American, I had no idea what a chip butty was. So I asked a friend of mine in the UK. He tells me that it&#…

Liberal fascism at its finest

Readers of this blog know that I am no fan of the Tea Party- which, I believe, along with other Republicans who choose to create the artificial crisis of the debt ceiling controversy at a time when confidence in the economy was low- is directly responsible for the current historic drop in the stock market.

But John Kerry- long a prime exemplar of the "liberal" fondness for seeking to suppress any voice that differs from leftist orthodoxy- has come out with a particularly blatant example of that tendency.

He says that the media have a "responsibility" not to give the Tea Party equal time with its opponents.

Now, nobody on the right gets equal time with the left. The unselfconscious irony with which "progressives" mock the bias on Fox News (not altogether without cause) ignores the fact that the whole rationale of Fox News was to create at least one spot on the dial free of the equally egregious left-wing bias of ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN, and MSNBC.

Kerry's c…

And then, there was one

Astronomers at the University of California- Santa Cruz have proposed a new explanation for the presence of the lunar highlands on a body whose general topography and geological deadness make them something of a mystery.

Some have conjectured that they might be the result of a collision with another planet, approximately the size of Mars. But the UC- Santa Cruz astronomers suggest that originally, the Earth had two or even more moons- and the highlands are the result of crashes which destroyed the others.

HT: Drudge

Just plain silly

A new USA Today-Washington Post poll shows that Americans believe by a 2-to-1 margin that the deal to raise the debt ceiling will make the economy worse rather than better.

Apparently they think that default, the downgrading of our national credit rating, the resulting increase in the deficit and the inevitable plunge back into recession would be preferable to... I don't know. It's not clear exactly what bad things are anticipated here.

But wait. Perhaps the article linked to above has the explanation:

The dyspeptic view may reflect less an assessment of the plan's particulars than dismay at the edge-of-a-cliff negotiations to reach it.

"Most people assume that whatever came out of this horrible process was pretty crappy," says Joseph White, a political scientist at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland who studies budget policy.
Perhaps. But it's harder to understand the reaction of folks who ought to know better.

Incredibly, the entire Iowa delegati…

I've been saying it for quite a while now

A new cold war between the United States and China is inevitable.

The collapse of the Soviet Union back in 1989 only prepared the way for a new and far more formidable rival for the political, economic and military leadership of the world. The rise of China poses a challenge to the United States to which the Obama administration and the talking heads seem utterly oblivious.

HT: Real Clear Politics