Friday, May 27, 2005
"Some People Believe..."
I read this today, and it just annoys me. It's about a "controversial" thing, so feel free to skip. Sometimes I read something, and I can feel the ire rising in my throat a bit, and I have to force it back down. It happens a lot less than you think, given how much I read online. I guess I've become a bit jaded, as I enter the mid-30's. Anyway, this is from the Reuters article, "Stem cell experts object to Bush 'unethical' label" (thanks to Instapundit for pointing it out, even though we're on different sides on this issue):
Stem cell researcher Dr. Robert Lanza of privately owned Advanced Cell Technology in Massachusetts agreed.
"Many people believe human life -- a person -- begins in a woman's uterus, in the mother's womb, not in a Petri dish or a test tube," Lanza said in an e-mail.
Yep, and some people believe the Earth is flat. Just because you believe something is true doesn't make it so, and the more people that believe in something does not necessarily make it so, either. Logically, it is a simple fact that embryos are human life. Believing otherwise is akin to insisting that 2 + 2 = 5. You can rationalize that since the human life you are killing isn't developed enough to feel pain or have self-awareness it's ethical, but to argue that embryos are not human beings is simply nonsense, and breaks down to sleazy word games.
If you read the above and are thinking that I'm crazy or insulting, please read The New Atlantis article Acorns and Embryos before making your mind up completely. It lays out the logic behind my assertion fantastically.
Wednesday, May 25, 2005
Hitchens on Galloway
I'm all about the British right now. I'm sitting here at lunch, reading a fantastic take-down of neo-communist MP George Galloway's visit to Washington D.C. by Christopher Hitchens, all while listening to Amused to Death by Roger Waters. British all (or in Hitchen's case, an ex-pat, but he still talks, writes, and acts like a Brit). I suggest you read his whole piece if you have the time -- it's an enlightening look into the history of the new leftist darling-of-the-day. (The album is a take or leave sort of thing: Waters is maxes out the cynic-meter on this one.)
Hitchens, in an aside, speaks of one thing I do envy of the British: their ability to debate.
In a small way--an exceedingly small way--this had the paradoxical effect of making me proud to be British. Parliament trains its sons in a hard school of debate and unscripted exchange, and so does the British Labour movement. You get your retaliation in first, you rise to a point of order, you heckle and you watch out for hecklers.
If you have the chance, someday, watch the British Parliament debate. It's fascinating, and makes me wish we in the States had a similar tradition.
Monday, May 23, 2005
What We Fight For
Not to make it bigger than it is, but Lileks nails it here (after watching Team America and the Incredibles this past weekend, and planning to watch Star Wars 3):
Then, “The Incredibles.” Which was. Died, went to heaven, etc. Tron me up, let me live in that world; you’ll hear no complaints. More about that tomorrow; I bring it up just to compare it with the other bits of juvenile pop culture I sampled this weekend. “Team America” was made by 17 year old boys who cut class to smoke cigarettes. “Star Wars” was made by a sophomore who was bumped ahead to the senior class because of his smarts, but never fit in and spent lunch hour drawing rocketships in his notebook. “The Incredibles” was made by 30 year olds who remembered what it was like to be 16, but didn’t particularly care to revisit those days, because it’s so much better to be 30, with a spouse and a kid and a house and a sense that you’re tied to something. Not an attitude; not some animist mumbo jumbo, but something large enough to behold and small enough to do. “Duty” is a punch line in “Team America”; it’s a rote trope in Star Wars that has no more meaning than love or honor any other word that passes Lucas’ cardboard lips. But it meant something in “The Incredibles,” and all the more so because no one ever stopped to deliver a lecture on the subject. Best Pixar Movie Evar.
Yup. That’s about right. You have to believe in something before you can truly fight for it.
Monday, May 09, 2005
A Good Weekend
I've been unplugged from the Web for the last couple days, so I don't have any Interesting Thoughts about Important Developments going on in the world today. Not right now, at least. Give me five minutes, and it'll probably change.
I had a good weekend, and fairly productive to boot. Saturday was effectively Mother's Day for me, since Danica and I took out our respective mother's to brunch on the Willamette River. A full stomach was had by all. Then off to Washington Square and there, to the Apple Store. Right now I'm a full Windows user, and while I'm not going to switch completely, I've decided to take the plunge to the multi-OS discipline. The iMac for home-related stuff (photos, music, movies, kid-friendly games, kid-friendly Internet activities, Quicken, media inventory tracking, etc.), and my Toshiba laptop for work-related stuff, in addition to the few games I own already that only play on Windows (or I'd have to repurchase them, which isn't going to happen). The fiance is signed on 100%, and now the hunt is on for a console table we can outfit for the job.
For someone like me, that's likes things organized and in their place, the Mac is for me, I think. I drool when I think about scanning all my DVD's, CD's and books with this incredible software: Delicious Library. Soon, soon...
Also watched a movie that a friend of Danica's at her work lent us: Spartan, starring Val Kilmer. I don't know how I missed it when it came out, but it's definitely worth the couple hours to watch, especially if you like well thought out thrillers. It's written and directed by David Mamet, the same guy that wrote Ronin, another excellent movie starring Robert De Niro. In these movies, nothing is completely predictable, and the "feel" and style of the features are like nothing I've seen.
Saturday, May 07, 2005
Father Jim Tucker posted this last October, and it must have been before I began to read his blog on a regular basis, because I can't see myself missing this one. It's very topical to a lot of the buzz lately with Pope Benedict XVI's election and "cafeteria Catholics". With the dissenters getting so much press lately about their laundry list of complaints about the Church (celibate, male priests, birth control, abortion, etc.), and so many polls telling us that a majority of Catholics not agreeing with "traditional Church teachings", it's important to step back and consider what this all means.
First, if you are an imperfect Christian, does this mean you should give up? Of course not -- all Christians sin, and all are in need of forgiveness. A healthy relationship with God requires Christians to realize their imperfections and their frailties and work toward being a better human being, remembering that perfection is unattainable, at least while on Earth. Going to Mass is a great way of working towards that goal, even if you fall short in many other areas. This applies to people that disagree with the Church on fundamental teachings, as well. You may disagree with the Church on a tradition such as a male-only priesthood, but this does not mean you aren't welcome in the Church. Enter Don Jim's excellent advice:
A second thing to consider is what one does agree with and how one is practicing the Faith. Before talking about your dissent from the Church, lay out what you do assent to. Start with the Creed. Consider that, even though all the truths of the Faith are equally true, some truths are more central than others. To reject papal infallibility is wrong. But it's more wrong to reject, say, the Resurrection. It's wrong to reject the Church's teaching on divorce. It's far worse to reject her teaching on the Trinity. One's focus, then, should be on the center and only then move out to the perifery. A person should ask himself what doctrines he does believe, and why he believes them, starting with the central ones. He should ask himself how the Gospel impacts his life and changes his behavior. Only after all that should he start to highlight what he rejects and how he diverges from orthopraxy -- and what the reasons are for those divergences. I think a lot of people would be surprised by how much they do believe.
That's about right, and I think that people need to reflect on that point -- the Catholics (fallen away or otherwise) that have disagreements with the Church, and the so-called "ultra-orthodox" Catholics that have been loud lately about their desire for the dissenters to leave the faith.
Read his whole post -- it's very insightful. He says he's working on a larger, more up to date piece about the cafeteria Catholic phenomenon, which I eagerly await.
Friday, May 06, 2005
VDH On Our Autocratic Allies
I haven't linked to a Victor Davis Hanson piece in a while, but I think this is a good one to point everyone to. Up on his personal site, The Bush Doctrine?s Next Test talks about our autocratic allies, Libya, Saudi Arabia, and Pakistan. This is a constant source of the cry, "Hypocrites!" on the anti-war left, and to tell you the truth, I see some logic in their complaint.
I agree with Hanson's article almost entirely. I'd add this, though, and hope it doesn't come across as a blatant cop-out: America cannot switch from almost pure realist foreign policy to almost pure idealist foreign policy in a span of four years. I believe that the President's over-arching foreign policy goals of aggressively growing democracy abroad have, for the most part, been pursued. There are glaring exceptions, though, that Hanson points out. As the President and his Secretary of State have said, every situation requires a different approach. The template of Iraq or Afghanistan cannot be used as a boilerplate on every autocratic country in the world, for many obvious reasons. Remember also that this is a generational shift in geopolitics, in which we're not even a quarter through.
Wednesday, May 04, 2005
A Give-Up-Hope "Vegetable" Recovers
Yes, I know. Everyone is really sick of hearing about the moral issues raised with the Terry Schiavo situation, which has been over for about a month (an eternity!). Well, too bad. I keep hearkening back to her situation, and how it must have felt during her last couple weeks -- assuming, you know, she didn't have the self-awareness level of a carrot. It must have been horrible, being starved to death, especially if she knew that her husband was behind the whole thing.
Thanks to Jimmy Akin, I read this account of Marsi Tabak, who was diagnosed as being in a persistent vegetative state with no hope for recovery. Fortunately for Mrs. Tabak, her family was dogged in their faith in her and God that she could recover. Read it word for word. Here's a small sample:
All the proof he needed came two days after Marsi opened her eyes for the first time. Shani Tabak, then 24, was at her mother's side, speaking to her heart. "Mom," she said, "you have to get better. I can't get married and stand under the chuppah without you."
And then Marsi began to cry.
"Then I knew she was with us," says Yacov
This why you err on the side of life. This is why putting Terry Schiavo to death was a bad, bad thing. What happened to her was either murder or suicide, no matter how you linguistically dress it up. This article shows there is always hope, no matter what the doctors say. This is one of the curses of our times: to never give up home, no matter how much we're told to give it up.
Target Helps Out the Meticulous
I bet you've always wondered, "How do I fold fitted sheets so they look somwhat square, and look good in the linen closet?" Yeah. Me too. Thanks to Target, the masses now have that information. I can rest easier now.
Monday, May 02, 2005
Scientific Political Correctness?
Pejmanesque led me to this article on the Telegraph UK, spotlighting leading climate scientists having their work rejected by Science, one of the leading scientific journals in the world. What did they do to get rejected? According to the scientists, they had studies that ran contrary to the "consensus" that the world is indeed warming, and the cause is primarily due to human's existence. I won't quote as much as he did, but you should read the whole thing to get the background:
Dr. Peiser said the stifling of dissent and preoccupation with doomsday scenarios is bringing climate research into disrepute. "There is a fear that any doubt will be used by politicians to avoid action," he said. "But if political considerations dictate what gets published, it's all over for science."
It would be -- unfortunate, to say the least, if Dr. Peiser was correct about what's going on. Government programs designed to fight global warming are not cheap, sometimes costing almost unimaginable amounts of resources to implement. If there's a significant amount of dissent out there concerning this, we need to step back and think about it.
This story dovetails nicely with the book State Of Fear by Michael Crichton, which I read a few months ago. In his own research, outside of the fictional storyline, Mr. Crichton states that there is plenty of research out there to make him question the assumption of the "consensus". I've felt the same thing in my own reading.