Wednesday, March 31, 2004

Excommunication. Bishop Raymond Burke of St. Louis has put the gauntlet down regarding abortion stances by Catholic congresspeople before, but now he extends it to presidential candidates. Here is a report that he admonished Kerry not to take communion while in his jurisdiction. Kerry is Roman Catholic, but ended up attending and speaking at a black Baptist church.

Tuesday, March 30, 2004

Portland Police are the target. I have to comment on this. Here in Portland another Officer of the Law is under attack for shooting and killing a motorist that had been pulled over for a small violation. I have now read the article at OregonLive and seen coverage on the news. Both are sensationalist and incomplete. Or rather there is too much there. I realize the family of the dead guy is upset and wants to know what happened and why, but the Oregonian and the TV news spends a lot of time getting reactionary responses from family and friends of the dead guy, while the Police Dept just stands at any mike the reporters offer and refuses to say much because they are still investigating.
Won't someone please offer some support for the police here? There are many fishy things about this encounter that make the cops involved look bad, like the fact that they pulled him over for not using his turn signal 100 feet before his turn, or that they got hyperactive while not even seeing a gun. But most of us don't know what the life of an officer is like. In truth I hate stories like this one, because it really takes away from the fact that these guys keep the streets pretty safe for the rest of us and put their life on the line while doing it.
Here are the facts of the case that got pretty skimpy treatment by the press. The dead guy was driving a Mitsubishi Diamante, which is a pretty nice car, that was not his (Story does not say whose it was). He did not have a license either. These things together might make the cops think 'Stolen car.' That makes the driver a possible felon(even though the proven crimes up to this point are only the license and the turn signal, both misdemeanors). Even for the license issue, the police have the option to detain the driver, and that's what they tried to do. When you get pulled over by a cop, everyone knows, or should know, that you ALWAYS keep your hands in view of the officer, and you obey his requests.
Further into the article, and as a coda to the TV news story, it becomes apparent that the dead guy has a serious record. Felony record for burglary, drug possession (cocaine) and gun possession, and he was on parole at the time of his death. Did the cops know this? By reading the article talking about his previous arrests I'm not surprised that he resisted, but you think he would have learned his lesson. It's disappointing that the police in question fired their weapons. They are trained to use all sorts of methods to get a suspect into custody before pulling their weapon out. Situations like this do require critical investigations to see where the mistakes occurred.
But I'm willing to believe this was just a mistake or an accident, not 'murder' as the quotes in the article would have you believe. is at it again. Here, Greg Easterbrook of the New Republic gets on their case for accusing Bush of raising the limit of arsenic in drinking water, when the Bush administration actually LOWERED it (actually, in truth it was a Clinton regulation change that got implemented at the beginning of the Bush term). Read the Easterbrook blog.

Monday, March 29, 2004

Out of Commission. Well, howdy. Been out of the loop for a few days, as the family and I took a trip to the beach for the weekend. We discovered to our horror that we scheduled it in the midst of spring break, so we expected to be overrun with teenagers. While there were many, it wasn't that bad, because the weather was traditional northwest fair (rainy, windy and chilly).
Anyway, I'll get back to commenting on things and searching for online maps soon. In the meantime, check World Magazine this week (Apr 3). They have a series of articles written as if they were writing 20 years from now, on the anniversary of the Scopes trial, documenting the fall of Darwinism.

Wednesday, March 24, 2004

Update on the gay pastor in Washington. A jury of clergy voted 11-0, with two abstentions, to dismiss charges against Karen Dammann, a lesbian minister. The acquittal, in effect, nullified church law in her case. Yikes. The thing that strikes me is that it was unanimous. I wonder what the two abstentions were all about.
I am also prepared no to be surprised if the United Methodist church starts to have internal dissension, a-la the Episcopalian church.

Tuesday, March 23, 2004

Black clergy are apparently very upset that the gay movement is using the civil rights movement of the 60s in their arguments to get gay marriage approved.
Soccer. Sensational teenager Freddy Adu made his professional debut this week, scoring in his first non-pre season game with DC United. This kid is still 14. Amazing. He is still growing and will get even bigger. I wonder if that will change the way he plays. Until then, though, I hope I get to see him play this year.
In other news, I hope that the Mexicans calm down a bit about that World Cup loss they had to the US in the second round. They just recently denied the US entry into the Olympics, so perhaps they have their revenge. Their fans were getting a bit crazy. But not as crazy as Italian fans. One game this week had to be canceled because the crowd went nuts when they heard that a police car had hit a child outside the stadium. The report was reversed minutes later, but the crowd was already unstable, so the refs called the game. I just think the crowd needed an excuse to mis-behave really, reflecting on recent history in that country.

Monday, March 22, 2004

Portland School Board contract negotiation. It's about money, and the union. Will this ever be a good combination? I was hopeful when I saw the leader about how they agreed on a new contract that would, among other things, cap the expensive health insurance costs. This, I have gathered from some people, is an enormous cost to the state (as it is, I assume, for any employer). But the criticism is that the price paid by the state for teachers has been upwards of $950 dollars a month, which is pretty high.
There really isn't enough information in this article to decide if this is a good thing or not. For instance, a 4% increase for 1200 workers (what the contract covers, non-teaching staff) is pretty high, if this is what they get in exchange for the contracting of the health benefits. How much will the offset of saving $250 a month per employee be vs. paying the 4% increase in salary? How much of an increase would these employees be getting under the former contract? Is $700 a month a reasonable figure to pay for insurance? Why aren't the reporters doing their job here?
Dick Clarke's American Bandstand. Another former White House employee. So now there's a guy named Richard Clarke who has a book out about how he repeatedly warned the current administration about the danger of Al Qaeda before 9-11 and was ignored and demoted, and also that Bush and Rice told him to manufacture a link between 9-11 and Iraq. These are pretty serious charges, and I would take them more seriously if they weren't coming from someone who was dissed by that same administration. Wonder why he was demoted. George Smith says that it might have been because he was more of a cyber-terrorist defense advocate, and the actuality of blood and guts terrorism caught him by surprise. His career was not exactly littered with success.
It's interesting that he has waited until now, when his book is coming out, to trumpet his outrage that the Bush administration didn't heed his convincing warnings.

Condi Rice shot back in the Washington Post.
Drudge is reporting that CBS, who broke the story of Clarke's book, hasn't disclosed that they have a stake in the book itself. More here, and here, and here.

Update: An independent commission revealed today that the Bush Administration was indeed taking Al-Qaida seriously in the days before 9/11 and was making plans to invade Afghanistan even before we were attacked. The Clinton and Bush administrations had until that time tried to simply arrest Bin Laden, but tactics had allowed him to elude capture.
Also, my impression of Clarke before he was demoted was that he thought that there would be an attack outside the country, not inside. So even he didn't really predict 9/11. He also admitted that he thought there was WMD in Iraq at the time, even though he couldn't prove a link between Iraq and Al-Qaida.

Friday, March 19, 2004

Haiti. World magazine had an interesting column about how we owe Haiti for what they did for us early on and how we haven't paid them back yet. Here's how it goes: Up to the French revolution, the island of Haiti was probably the biggest cash cow for France in the world, considering all the products that came out of there (sugar, Tobacco, Coffee, Cotton). Well, about the time of the revolution, the slaves staged a revolt and won. They declared independence.
Well, when Napoleon was staging his run across Europe, he decided that he needed to get Haiti back and from there occupy the land of Louisiana that France had just acquired from Spain. Many feared that he would eventually launch an attack on the US from Louisiana.
When he tried to capture Haiti, he lost 50,000 men and was driven back. This led to him giving up on both Haiti AND Louisiana, and he figured that selling Louisiana would help him raise money for his European aspirations.
So Haiti allowed the US to expand across the continent and not be threatened by the French Military machine. Do we owe them for that?
I don't really believe in that kind of thing. This was 200 years ago. Haiti did help us then, although we snubbed them because people were afraid that they would spark a slave revolt here too. But France helped us lots then too, and we helped them back. And now we're kind of estranged.
I think we should help Haiti, but not because of what they did then, but because they are neighbors, and if they ask for help we should open our doors, encourage trade and invest a little effort into starting them on the right track. Perhaps guaranteeing un-corrupted elections.
But ultimately it should be up to them to set their own course and bring themselves out of poverty.
Media dishonesty Wow! This article at Yahoo (via USA Today) about one of their own reporter, who no longer works there, Jack Kelly, is scary. This is enough, along with all the stories of the last year about reporter's faking stories and parts of stories, to never take a news article from ANY source as absolute fact without verification again. How much of the media is just slanted and incomplete, and how much of it is actually fabricated I wonder.

Thursday, March 18, 2004

Local Church vs. Gay. I don't have a really good link. You can use this one, but you need to register with the Washington Post, and I have been reluctant to do so yet. Anyway the Rev. Karen Dammann of the First United Methodist church in Ellensburg, WA wrote a letter to her bishop saying that she was a lesbian living with her lover. The Book of Discipline for the Methodist church forbids practicing homosexuals from serving as ministers. The trial is underway in Bothel. Dammann was married to her lover in Portland last week.
NCAA Blog. ESPN has a blog set up just for the tournament. At least this link will work for today. They have two guys watching the game and commenting on it every couple of minutes. They aren't providing scores every couple of minutes, though, so I may look somewhere else too.

Wednesday, March 17, 2004

American Landscape. I just finished reading a great book on the history of measures that we use in America, where they came from and why we chose them (and still choose them) as opposed to the metric system. It's called Measuring America, by Andro Linklater, and English journalist. Hechronicless the journey that standards for measures took from the chaos of trade in the 1500s to the standards of Elizabeth I to the standardization of measures in the United States and the Metric system of France.
Apparently things were pretty chaotic even in the U.S. until after the revolution when Jefferson and a cadre of others pushed hard to make one set of measures for length, liquid, weight and money. Jefferson a student of the European enlightenment of the 18th century, and he was aware and a part of the philosophy that spawned the metric system in France. He pushed for a decimalized system of units for all measures. This would help even the common man handle them, they theorized, as understanding factors of 10 in easier to handle.
Congress did agree with him on the money issue. The dollar was decimalized, but there was a resistance to decimalize what had been used to stamp out the land for the last 150 years, the foot and the mile. Indeed even while they debated, settlement of the lands between theAppalachianss and the Mississippi was carving up the landscape like wildfire. And what they were measuring it in was Gunter's chain, the surveying tool invented by Edmund Gunter in the early 1500s.
The metric system was introduced in France in the late 1790s, but widespread acceptance didn't occur for decades. Resistance came from the general populous. The metric system was the measure of the scientist and was enacted from the top down. It was hard to change from the old measure, which had been organic in origin. Based on natural things, body parts and such, they made more sense to people. Gunter's chain was a good example of this, as it was 22 meters, or four times the length of the plot of land commonly thought to be the amount of land that could be worked by one person in one day.
The landscape of America is recorded and measured with the units decided by congress when the country began. Look in any kitchen or toolshed. Look at the landscape or any platt map. Changing to metric would be a monumental, and indeed the government has tried before to at least integrate metric with U.S. units, but not very successfully.
Anyway, I enjoyed it. The geographic landscape of this country bears the mark of Gunter's chain.
(Entry note: I wrote this earlier, much better I think, and the connection failed and I lost my work. This entry will have to do, so I hope you enjoy what's left. R...)
Sacre Bleu. France is planning joint Naval exercises with China off the coast of Taiwan, right before the Taiwanese hold some elections of their own. What the heck is this all about. Has France taken a lesson from the attacks on Spain and decided to try and influence some of their own? Since the U.S. has stated that it would militarily protect Taiwan from the Chinese if they attacked, are the French taking further steps to actually becoming an enemy of the United States?
The stated purpose is, of course, to strengthen economic ties with China. But the timing is very curious.
Lost in Fixation. I just saw the movie Lost in Translation with Laura last night. I thought it was interesting. The cinematography was fascinating, and the concept was original. It was, however, really boring and pointless. There were funny parts, as Bill Murray will always have that kookiness that makes you laugh, like in the scenes where he is posing for photographers. But overall I sat on the floor, with my back against the couch (my usual movie watching position) wondering if there was going to be any plot twist or climax to the movie. Alas, there wasn't. The back of the box said that the point was that these lost people end up finding themselves, but I never saw it. Bill's character ends up having a quickly one night affair with the lounge singer, but the attitude is, "whoops. That was dumb. But, oh well, moving on now." I've taken week long business trips and spent lots of time in hotels, but these people were so depressing I never could relate. I've seen Murray do much better.
This thing won Oscars?

Tuesday, March 16, 2004

The National Geographic Society published a survey they took of Geographic Knowledge of 18 - 24 year olds throughout the developed countries of the world. As usual, the US comes out near the bottom. Not that the other countries are that much better, but still:

Young Americans show weak performance with regard to the Middle East and Asia. Despite the countries almost daily presence in the news and the potential impact of current conflicts on everyone's lives, only on in seven can find Iraq or Iran on a map of the Middle East.
By contrast, more young Americans could determine that the island used for the last season of Survivor is in the South Pacific.

What's it going to take?!?!? Here's more:

17% could find Afghanistan on a world map.
Young Americans grossly overstated the population of the US. 30% said it was over 1 billion.

The Survey suggested a few things that determined geographic skill:

1. Education (specifically classes focusing on geography)
2. International travel and language
3. Web usage
4. Media Usage
5. Gender (yes, that's right ladies, the men were about 4 points ahead)

Pull out those atlases, people, and start showing your kids. You might learn something too!

Winds of change has lots on North Korea. He usually does, as well as information on much of the world. His link list (to the right and down) is well organized by topic, and in some cases region. His post today has a link to a site dedicated to discussing North Korean Diplomatic efforts. Also he talks about how the latest 6 way talks went over in China, a post from the LA Times about more defector testimony, and his own archived posts that he likes to call "Dispatches from Hell."
Here's a web site totally devoted to human rights issues in North Korea.
Kerry's Facts. Via Instapundit, this site looks into some of the statements made by the Kerry website. Let me just say now that Kerry may be able to debate as a peer with Bush on many domestic issues, but he is lost on the war against terror and foreign policy in general. He's proving it by maintaining mis-quotes and mis-representing Bush's historical positions. Check it out everywhere. The press is not as good as the internet at remembering what people REALLY said last year.

Update: Glenn Reynolds comments on Kerry's tactic here:

I think that people -- like, say, Kerry -- who supported the war last year but want to criticize Bush on it now have to claim that they were fooled.
Of course, that translates into: "Support me -- I'm gullible!" Which doesn't sound like much of a slogan.

Monday, March 15, 2004

Basketball Graduation Rates. Gregg Easterbrook has been writing about space and about how enforcement of environmental offenders has lessened over the last 10 years or so (because of improving conditions, by the way, not because of policy). But today he delivered a rant about NCAA graduation rates and how the NCAA is trying to cover up how dismal the rate is among athletes Specifically in basketball, but this goes for some other sports too.
I guess I'm going to be routing for Stanford (and Gonzaga, of course), who actually reports that it graduates ALL of it's African American players.
Discovered this little tidbit in World magazine. Interesting look into the new generation of English persons:

A new survey of British teenagers suggests that a strong rebellion is brewing against parents there, with children making a sharp, conscious break with their elders' beliefs. They are, in particular, embracing traditional marriage, drug laws, and patriotism. The Reuters news service reports that Bliss, a popular British teen magazine, polled 5,000 teenagers with an average age of 15. Among the findings:

92 percent hope to get married, and at an average age of 24.

70 percent think marijuana should not be legalized, and 84 percent believe criminal sentencing is too soft.

86 percent expressed pride in being British, with 87 percent opposing the Euro currency and over two-thirds worrying about more European integration.

"This survey is a damning indictment of the damage caused by the lax attitudes of adults inflicted on children," said Bliss editor Helen Johnson. "Young people like tradition and have passionate beliefs about the society they want to live in."

(My emphasis above).
Spain and Russia this weekend. Well, the elections were held in Spain this week and the Socialist beat the incumbent Aznar for Prime minister. Spain was an ally with the US during the war, and the socialist, Zapatero, has said that he will pull out the 1,500 or so troops that Spain has in Iraq. As I mentioned yesterday, this is a clear win for Al-Qaida (I am still having trouble remembering how to spell that, so bear with me). They have successfully used terror and murder to change the political environment of an entire nation. This is almost as terrible as the 200 deaths they caused by blowing up the trains. However, I'm not sure it will make much difference with a Bush-run White House. A Kerry white house could look much different, though. From the sound of Kerry's speech of sympathy toward the Spanish, it sounded like all he would do in response to this would be to sic Inspector Clouseau on the terrorists responsible and call it a day.

Russia also had some elections, and Mr. Putin is still the president of that spiraling nation. Just when you thought that Russia was on the way to Democracy and sanity, a former KGB insider takes over and can anyone say "autocracy?" Russia is now one step away from being Iraq, as Putin controls all the media (just like the old days, eh Mr. Putin?) and didn't have much opposition to speak of.

Sunday, March 14, 2004

Kerry was at a town meeting where a guy pestered him to name the foreign leaders who wanted him to win the election. Check this out:
The town meeting was contentious at times, with 52-year-old Cedric Brown repeatedly pressing the candidate to name the foreign leaders whom Kerry has said are backing his campaign.

"I'm not going to betray a private conversation with anybody," Kerry said. As the crowd of several hundred people began to mutter and boo, Kerry said, "That's none of your business."

Kerry better cover himself on this one or it's going to bite him in the butt. Heck, it already has. The Bush answers to his attempted jabs, which this article thankfully gives, parry quite well. This is going to be a real uphill battle for Kerry. I can't wait for the first debate!
My thoughts on Spain. It is deeply tragic that so many Spaniards lost their lives this week for the sake of global politics. It appears now that Al-Qaida was involved with the bombing of the trains in Madrid, and you have to wonder about the timing here. The Spanish elections were at hand, and I think terrorists are trying to manipulate the national elections. Spain has been one of our allies in the war on terror, and the invasion of Iraq (that "unilateral" action, remember?), and it would be a victory of sorts for the terrorists to manipulate a countries politics such that it no longer backs the US in it's efforts to eradicate the Islamo-fascist organization that hit the World Trade Center.
This is a great argument for Unilateralism actually, in a world where if we are forced to rely on the UN to make these decisions, a terrorist organization would only have to manipulate the politics of one nation on the security council and that would be the end of it.

Instapundit is on a roll (this is Sunday, March 14, you may have to scroll down or check the archives if you are checking this late. He's got Lots of links.

Thursday, March 11, 2004

Beliefnet is one of those websites you wish you knew about years ago. It takes a thorough look at the issues of the day from the Christian point of view, looks things up and down and gives you every angle it can find. There is no better place on the net to look at the issues of gay marriage or the movie The Passion. Check it out.
Congressional Aid Spied for Iraq. Just in case you didn't get this from another news source, here we have the first example of Saddam bribing or paying off Americans to spy or influence the government. It goes without saying that if this were a Republican aid it would be all over the story, but notice how they don't really trumpet that it was a Democratic Aid working for none other than Ron Wyden and Carol Mosely Braun (not that they had anything to do with this).
Instapundit is covering this in greater detail with lots of links.
Arguing gay marriage using God. There was a post on the World Magazine Blog, as well as an article a week or two ago that argued that Christians will lose the debate on gay marriage using only secular arguments, and that because the real reason that Christians are against gay marriage is that God ordained it that we need to include it.
I'm not sure about this. Christians should state that this is one of the reasons we are fighting for the definition of marriage as solely between a man and woman, but I think there are many good secular based reasons too. Besides the progressive left won't even care if we say it's "because God said so."
First Amendment Law professor Eugene Volokh made some good points about this last week too.

Wednesday, March 10, 2004

Court rules against church. You can argue all you want about separation of church and state when it entails things like 10 commandment monuments or the role of Christian morality in the gay marriage debate, but this story should be truly frightening to anyone who stands by what the establishment clause was originally intended to be.
Apparently a court in California (why am I not more shocked) ruled against a church that revoked some people of their membership to the church. The church was operating within it's rules, but even if it wasn't what does this judicial decision say about the state of judicial activism? The decisions I listed above are debatable. This one is not.
Multnomah County Commissioner race. Well the first sign that the four county commissioners are going to have to deal with some lashback regarding their mandate that the county must allow gay marriage is about to begin. The members up for re-election are facing a few more candidates than they expected.
Maria Rojo Steffey didn't have any challengers a couple of weeks ago, now she has five. Lisa Naito has two challengers running against her now too. I wonder if this will actually be in their favor. People opposed to what they did who want to "throw the bums out," in a manner of speaking, will have to choose between several other people and the opposition vote will get split up. Should we now call this the Nader Factor (or more appropriately, the Perot Factor)?
Sports. Looks like the NBA Player's Union is down on Damon. Really, should the union be in a tizzy about Stoudamire taking a drug test that wasn't OK'd by them? Damon did it willingly and is not complaining (and indeed passed!) so, in the interests of the players of the NBA (which is the job of the Union) I don't see how this is going to be detrimental to them? It stinks of a union trying to collect power for it's own sake. Which is not unknown.
Says Cazano: The players union, attempting to dictate what Stoudamire can or can't do with his bodily fluids, is in violation of his civil rights. And it exposes the union for the bully it is. This is a union whose drug-treatment policies prove it's more interested in hiding troubled players than getting them help.

THE ZAGS are at it again!!! Gonzaga Bulldogs won the West Coast Conference championship again this weekend and are going to the NCAA tournament. Since Stanford lost as well this weekend and will most likely lose the Number One spot, will the Zags get a number one seed? They are number 3 in the ESPN coaches poll.
Steven Den Beste has a long commentary on a recent Kerry interview in Time. His post is, as usual, pretty comprehensive. He mostly talks about how Kerry's position on the war has been pretty all over the place, but the current retoric is pretty baseless. Here's a sample:

I myself had figured out the most important reason we had to invade Iraq long before the Senate vote, and I don't have access to the kind of information that Kerry would have been able to see as a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee. I also don't have a staff.

I put in the effort to figure it out because I'm a citizen, and in service of my hobby. For Kerry, it's his job to figure out those kinds of things. If he really was misled in October of 2002, it proves that he's either gullible, stupid, or was derelict in carrying out his duties as a US Senator. Regardless of which it was, it would demonstrate that he was not qualified to be President.

It's entirely possible that some of what he's said has been true. If so, I can't shake the feeling that's only the result of coincidence. What I see is equivocation and pandering: Kerry seems to say whatever he thinks has the best chance of avoiding alienating voters. If that happens to be what he really thinks, so much the better.

Based on everything I know about him now, I cannot in good conscience consider voting for him. I would rather vote for a candidate with known policies with which I disagree than for a candidate whose true policies – if any – are kept hidden under a bushel basket, at the bottom of a locked filing cabinet, in a dis-used lavatory with a sign on the door saying "Beware of the leopard". If I were somehow forced to choose, I'd vote for Nader before I'd vote for Kerry. At least I know what Nader stands for.

With all the hoopla about John Kerry's positions on the issues, and then his other positions on those issues, I have been in a tizzy on what links to provide for good material on them. I generally recommend Mickey Kaus, a Democrat who seems to hate Kerry to the core of his being.
But also here's a really good article on the subject from Andrew Sullivan.
Bi-partisan disgust with the media. Instapundit has a pretty good section today on the congressional backlash caused by the Howard Stern/Janet Jackson messes, as well as others. He points out that this isn't some Republican plot, as the commerce committee voted unanimously to raise the fines for indecent broadcasting. That's Republicans and Democrats.
Here's the original post. Senator Hollings (D-SC) proposed an amendment that would force cable companies to offer their channels a-la-carte, but it was shot down. I've always wanted them to offer this kind of thing, as I would never watch all the channels, and would probably only get sports related channels anyway. But I don't think the gov't should be legislating that kind of thing.

Tuesday, March 09, 2004

Welcome to my blog. Yikes, I can't believe I'm actually on. I finally decided to do this because most of the time I copy stuff I find on various blogs and Email them to my friends. All the time encouraging them to enter the blog stream. There is just too much, though. And I'm tired of Emailing all this stuff. So I'm going to try to do it this way.

What you should expect: Politics. Science. Hopefully some humor. And Maps! I'll post links to maps whenever I get them. I love maps. They can tell you much more about a situation or story than just the words can sometimes.

See you in the Blogosphere.