Thoughts Online Magazine
Collected Articles on Culture & Politics
Current Thoughts 
4th-Jul-2015 12:04 pm - My tweets
Read more...Collapse )
3rd-Jul-2015 12:04 pm - My tweets
2nd-Jul-2015 12:04 pm - My tweets
Read more...Collapse )
1st-Jul-2015 12:04 pm - My tweets
Read more...Collapse )
2nd-Apr-2015 09:27 am - Monsters in Human Form
The worship of death has expanded this week. While those of us who read Proverbs 8 in a Christian context note that the chapter ends stating that those who do not worship Jesus will worship death, it isn't always clear how this is done. The Telegraph tells us with a headline to an appalling article:

Killing babies no different from abortion, experts say
Parents should be allowed to have their newborn babies killed because they are “morally irrelevant” and ending their lives is no different to abortion, a group of medical ethicists linked to Oxford University has argued.

Hilariously, they seem to be upset with the threats to their lives that have followed from publication of these repellant views. Objectivity would remind them that it is not so different from the killing that they recommend. But we have known for some time that medical ethics is the haunt of depraved scoffers, so it's not that surprising.
11th-Mar-2015 09:45 am - Condescension, and Class
The Twelve Tables were the first statutes in Rome: they were the first laws that applied to everyone. They were drawn up as the result of a general strike by the plebeians, because the patricians were the only ones who could be judges, and they were the only ones who knew the laws that were applied, and they somehow never seemed to rule for the plebeians. It was an advance in law: one law applying to everyone.

Now let's talk about the Internal Revenue Code: it is massively complex, with voluminous regulations, interpretations, two different court systems interpreting it: sufficiently complex that even tax lawyers typically specialize in only certain sections of it. Ted Cruz commented that it was longer than the Bible, an example of a text which could be studied for years before a real understanding came of it, and unfavorably to the code.

The usual suspects have a comment about the comparison: "We also wondered: Why does it matter to the average taxpayer that the tax code is hard to comprehend?" Really? It matters to the ones whose attempts to comply lead to prosecution, penalties, wage garnishment, confiscation, and bankruptcy as they can't pay their other debts. It's one thing to collect taxes. It's another to destroy the productive capacity of the laborer, and likely his family in the process. And to do it cavalierly needs the Washington Post, and the other members of the ruling class who seem never to worry about filing taxes incorrectly (like the Treasury Secretary, a senior Congressman, and, come to think of it, a Secretary of State). It's not serious for them.

It is not fair. It is not equal under the law.
If the FEC makes rules that limit my First Amendment right to express my opinion on core political issues, I will not obey those rules. This has been true since the first time they said they were going to limit my freedom to post, and it's true now that they are considering it again.

For background, consider this posting from Patrick Frey, in which he refers to the prior statement as well as the current brouhaha.

Not kidding, folks. No one gets to dictate what I write, either by permission or prohibition, about politics. Those who wish to say that their ability to take offense limits my posting will get the same response.
The New York Times has an article on advance directives that highlights the "starve me even if I want to be fed" aspect of current law.

It is fascinating that this isn't a crime. But evidently, as long as a hospice nurse is in the facility, the coroner won't enquire too closely.
1st-Jan-2015 07:58 am - Private law: Privilege
Private law has a bad name, because it typically doesn't allow for a judge to look it over and see that people's rights were respected. Sometimes, as, for example, when the federal government imposes it on people who expected to receive "due process", it is simply unjust from the start. Here's an example: law students at Harvard are expected to not care that they don't receive due process in campus investigations, and the federal government is insistent about this.

There are a lot of words that could be said about this. But most of them are obscene.
3rd-Dec-2014 02:22 am - On the Old Chant in Ferguson
"No Justice, No Peace" is apparently a slogan chanted opportunistically whenever the Left wishes to insist that it get its own way.

The funny part is that the Left is not interested in Peace other than as a carrot held out: actually fulfilling the requirements for peace would have them give up their reason for being. James 3:17 points out that "The wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable..." -- purity is important. The same lesson happens in the sacrifice of Abraham through Melchizedek "To whom also Abraham gave a tenth part of all: first being by interpretation the king of righteousness and after that also King of Salem, that is, king of peace." Finally, we're in a season where we are reminded of heaven speaking: "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men." -- give glory to God to receive peace. Clean up the moral filth, tell the truth, and give God the glory, and we'll have peace.

And the peacenik walked away sadly, for he had great illusions ...

Mark 10:17-31Authorized (King James) Version (AKJV)

17 And when he was gone forth into the way, there came one running, and kneeled to him, and asked him, Good Master, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life? 18 And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God. 19 Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Defraud not, Honour thy father and mother. 20 And he answered and said unto him, Master, all these have I observed from my youth. 21 Then Jesus beholding him loved him, and said unto him, One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me. 22 And he was sad at that saying, and went away grieved: for he had great possessions.

23 And Jesus looked round about, and saith unto his disciples, How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God! 24 And the disciples were astonished at his words. But Jesus answereth again, and saith unto them, Children, how hard is it for them that trust in riches to enter into the kingdom of God! 25 It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God. 26 And they were astonished out of measure, saying among themselves, Who then can be saved? 27 And Jesus looking upon them saith, With men it is impossible, but not with God: for with God all things are possible.

28 Then Peter began to say unto him, Lo, we have left all, and have followed thee. 29 And Jesus answered and said, Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the gospel’s, 30 but he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life. 31 But many that are first shall be last; and the last first.
Periodically, one agency of the Federal Government decides to regulate what I do on this blog, especially when it comes to things they disagree with. Several years ago, I responded to a questionnaire and pointed out that this is my project, the opinions here are mine, I'm entitled to them no matter how stupid they are, and you don't have the right to make me jump through hoops to discuss them.

Apparently, learning from experience is difficult.
2nd-Sep-2014 10:55 am - Yet Another Smile
As I bring up the amazing success rate of climate science.

Actually, I don't know a single prediction they've made that panned out.

Typical example: this.

As you can see, the original sounds appropriately "scence-y" -- it just doesn't happen to be true. Which reminds me of a favorite from years ago:

Which, on the showing of the Guardian article, should be considered advanced science.
4th-Aug-2014 06:57 am - Gifts for Obama's Birthday
An article with gift suggestions for Obama's birthday has a really good suggestion in the middle of the five:

#3 – A spine

There exists a political opposition: Republicans. They were elected by a majority of people in their districts or states and are expected to pursue a legislative agenda in line with their supporters. Generally, their agenda is contrary to that of the president.

This opposition and adversarial relationship is not personal, nor does it have anything to do with skin color, racial background or anything else personal. Reasoned, well-intentioned and good people legitimately disagree on political solutions and policies.

This has always been the case with a two-party system and it always will be. It’s time for the President to stop complaining about it and get over it.

There are a lot of other people who need that gift in Washington right now.
2nd-Aug-2014 06:21 pm - The Need for a Remembrancer

The City of London is an unusual corporation inside what is usually described as London. So unusual that it has its own interesting member of Parliament, a "remembrancer" whose job it is to remind Parliament of the privileges of the City, and take exception to laws which might alter or harm it.

It looks like the EU, however, has decided to take over regulation of the City of London's financial firms: and there is no remembrancer to stop politicians who don't know what they are talking about from imposing whatever regulations they see fit. While there was celebration of the regulations by Congress that moved business to the City by City financial firms, it looks like they might have their own problems in the future. And may move to less constrained places, like Singapore.

Which would be a pity.


In this case, it was the State Department and IRS which conspired to suppress foundations which helped promote closer relations with an ally: Israel.

While I know there are people who would rather have other allies in the region, that should be an open conversation, not one behind closed doors.

16th-Mar-2014 02:24 pm - Spectacularly wrong.

‎ Evaluating OECD economic forecasting.

Schadenfreude comes in many ways: here, an admission by a lot of very smart people that they don't know what they are doing when they produce forecasts for the OECD. Perhaps the funniest comment comes from here:

In an autobiographical essay published 20 years ago, the left-leaning economist Kenneth Arrow recalled entering the Army as a statistician and weather specialist during World War II. “Some of my colleagues had the responsibility of preparing long-range weather forecasts, i.e., for the following month,” Arrow wrote. “The statisticians among us subjected these forecasts to verification and found they differed in no way from chance.”

Alarmed, Arrow and his colleagues tried to bring this important discovery to the attention of the commanding officer. At last the word came down from a high-ranking aide.

“The Commanding General is well aware that the forecasts are no good,” the aide said haughtily. “However, he needs them for planning purposes.”

Shortest description of political science and economics available. They don't know what they are doing, but want to pretend. The works jam periodically, and they declare war.
In a surprise move, a Canadian court decides that accusers have to produce evidence for their case. This disqualifies Michael Mann, noted "climate scientist" from winning a case against those who accuse him of fraud for his "hockey stick" graph. As it turns out, the case was in front of someone who did more than ask Mr. Mann to show his diplomas and citations. This will have follow on problems for his other suit in Washington DC against media which have taken the same tack.

Michael Mann Faces Bankruptcy as his Courtroom Climate Capers Collapse

Couldn't happen better.

Student apologizes for emailing pic of Obama kicking a door | The Daily Caller

You know, condemning people occasionally happens just because you like condemning people, and you know that everyone else is too afraid of you condemning them to stand up to you.

But the mirror knows.
14th-Feb-2014 10:07 am - An Embarrassment of Riches
Popular 1350+ Peer-Reviewed Papers Supporting Skeptic Arguments Against ACC/AGW Alarm

What's interesting about the list is that while it, and individual papers, have been subject to some criticism, the list includes both the criticism and the rebuttal arguments, classified by sub-subject.

Though I'm sure that most of my friends in Georgia already have had weeks worth of rebuttals to global warming.
In response to that question from a friend, let me set out a few things:

1. The translators don't understand Hebrew. This is a fairly important thing for someone to understand, if you're going to do a translation. An example: Isaiah 9:3 NIV:

You have enlarged the nation
and increased their joy;
they rejoice before you
as people rejoice at the harvest,
as warriors rejoice
when dividing the plunder.

Look at the second line. The Hebrew word for "not" is in that line in all manuscripts, and can be translated, e.g.

Isaiah 9:3 KJV

3 Thou hast multiplied the nation, and not increased the joy: they joy before thee according to the joy in harvest, and as men rejoice when they divide the spoil.

OK, the "not" here makes it important to figure out why it is there, and maybe the NIV translation is just a "kiddy" translation for those who can't take time to figure things out. OK for kids, but adults are supposed to take the time to understand things.

My second problem is that the translators don't bother to pick good manuscripts to translate from, picking instead ones with obvious errors:

1 The beginning of the good news about Jesus the Messiah,[a] the Son of God,[b] 2 as it is written in Isaiah the prophet:

“I will send my messenger ahead of you,
who will prepare your way”[c]—

Mark 1:1 Or Jesus Christ. Messiah (Hebrew) and Christ (Greek) both mean Anointed One.
Mark 1:1 Some manuscripts do not have the Son of God.
Mark 1:2 Mal. 3:1

The reason for the footnoting is that Isaiah 40:3 says:

3 The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God.

While Malachi 3:1 says:

Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the LORD of hosts.

Only a few non-Christian compilations make the error of including Malachi in Isaiah. The other 85% of the manuscripts say "prophets", as reflected, once again, in the KJV:

1 The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God;

2 As it is written in the prophets, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee.

Why ignore the majority of manuscripts so that you can introduce an error, and then point it out in a footnote? It's not ethical. It's not right.

Finally, there's the lazy approach to translation: paraphrasing some other translation, and getting it wrong. Example:

Zechariah 11:17
King James Version (KJV)
17 Woe to the idol shepherd that leaveth the flock! the sword shall be upon his arm, and upon his right eye: his arm shall be clean dried up, and his right eye shall be utterly darkened.

Okay, a prophecy of some sort. Not easy to understand. But the NIV makes a total hash of it:

Zechariah 11:17
New International Version (NIV)
17 “Woe to the worthless shepherd,
who deserts the flock!
May the sword strike his arm and his right eye!
May his arm be completely withered,
his right eye totally blinded!”

"worthless" is not a synonym for "idol" -- it leads me to believe someone read the translated passage aloud, and it "idol" became "idle", and the paraphrase went on from there. So lazy translation hits in the old testament again. Given the number of translations that pick this up, it appears to be a common way to translate without having to learn Hebrew (and there's a pun in there between "eleel" and "heylale'", for fans of Isaiah 14:12). Gail Riplinger is famous for warning that lexicons tend to pick up the biases of translators over time, and therefore become worse over time. Possibly that's another explanation.

There are people who have studied this in more depth: Look What's Missing, some of whom appear to have a bias for other translations: The NIV Reconsidered : A Fresh Look at a Popular Translation is from one of the translators of the NKJV. I find his appendix on the greek text of the new testament interesting, and quite enlightening. It led me to do further research with Ancient Word of God: KJV Only or Not?, which had some interesting perspectives. The bible in English is hard simply because a new translation comes out about every six months: it is interesting to me that they all compare themselves to the KJV. Something like Spanish bibles do with Biblia Letra Grande RV 1909 (Spanish Edition)
, or Italian bibles do with the Italian Pocket Bible - La Sacra Bibbia La Nuova Diodati / Pocket Size Protestant Bible in Italian Language / The Bridge - Great for Students and people on the go / C03SE or French bibles do with the Olivetan. For my purposes, probably better to stick to the KJV, with its extensive system of commentaries and helps.

You know, he's supposed to be on the side of Nevadans if he's going to represent us.
Lucia A. Silecchia: Peter Stuyvesant vs. the Quakers -

Freedom of religion is not only about being allowed to express who you are behind closed doors. It's about being allowed to express it in public, and behave in accordance with it.
This page was loaded Jul 5th 2015, 3:16 am GMT.