April 27, 2002


has written two eloquent posts that deserve a wide audience. The first concerns his disappointment with the Catholic Church's remedy for its sex abuse scandals, and details a few of the scandals that should humble any Protestant secretly wishing ill for Rome. We should be praying for a resolution that is just. The second deals with the desire on the part of some for a universal Christian church under the papcy. Lest you think I'm promoting Mark's work because he and I are Protestants in cahoots, Mark is a Catholic, and a very disappointed one.

Incidentally, he follows up those two posts with a take on theories describing the universe as an oscillating wave, which means that the Big Bang is always followed by a Big Crunch, and the cycle repeats itself infinitely. The Big Crunch and the oscillating universe are very much out of favor in cosmology right now, with evidence mounting almost daily that the expansion of the universe is mysteriously accelerating, but it's still worth kicking the tires on scientific theories to check their implications.
Posted by B. Preston at 11:56 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


Man Bites Blog sums up my own dissatisfaction with Ramesh Ponnuru's criticism of Charles Krauthammer's anti-cloning piece quite well (boy, did that sound like a blog parody). In my past post on the subject, I lined out reasons for opposing cloning, but not for positively believing in the humanity of the conceptus, leaving myself also open to the charge that pro-life and anti-cloning arguments are essentially religious. First, to knock down that criticism a bit, the abolitionist movement that sought to end slavery in this country was based almost solely on religious arguments--science hadn't gone far enough to define humanity in any kind of physical way. The religious anti-slavery arguments, that all humans are created equal in the eyes of God (which also found its way into our founding documents) and shouldn't treat one another as property, are today uncontroversial. So the fact that an argument is based on religious thought is not a valid criticism, but in fact a deflection without justification.

But on to cloning and the blastocyst. I offered up this same argument early on in my blogging days, and got roundhouse kicked by Will Wilkinson for it, but here it is again--life begins at conception because science says it does. The DNA that programs who you are--your eye and hair color, your height, and some aspects of your intelligence and personality--is present at conception and originates at conception. Yes, every cell in your body from that time forward has the same DNA, but every cell isn't destined to become you--the fertilized egg is destined, absent succumbing to the the natural hazards of the gestation process, to become you. Drawing the line of personhood at one trimester, or two, or at viability, is arbitrary and places one of our most important responsibilities--safeguarding life--on a sliding scale. Viability is a particularly shifty standard, as medical science improves. It will someday be possible to undergo the entire developmental process in an artificial womb--what then will be the standard for "viability?"

The only logically sound and scientifically provable place to draw the line of personhood is at conception--it is the moment when a new human exists for the first time. You simply can't point to another moment like conception, except the birth itself, and as we now know even birth is no longer a sufficient line for the most radical of pro-abortion forces. Therefore, we must draw the line at conception, else infanticide become a legal practice. In the form of partial birth abortion, infanticide is already in practice around the nation.

This relates to cloning because, in creating a blastocyst for the purpose of dismantling it for its prized cells, you're using a human life as defined by the only reasonable scientific standard as a commodity. That is morally reprehensible by any standard, in the same way that enslaving another human being to work in your cotton field is morally reprehensible. Promoting abortion and cloning is essentially promoting slavery--there's simply no way around it.
Posted by B. Preston at 04:18 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 26, 2002


may have been faked--by Al Qaeda or its allies. CIA and other intel analysis seems to suggest that the grass background was composited in to make the video look more recent. I'd love to get my hands on a decent copy and dissect it--if it's a composited video, I'd be able to tell. I composit video for a living, with some pretty high-end tools. The conclusion is that if the video is a fake, it's meant to make people think Bin Laden is still alive and well, which would actually mean that's he's dead and decomposing. Sounds like my contention that he died on early February is looking more and more likely. Advantage--JunkYardBlog!
Posted by B. Preston at 10:16 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


if Ugly Nora has heard about this.
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: Lots of us bloggers have been comparing today's "Arab street" to the Nazis, a comparison that has seemed more and more apt as we learn more about what passes for education and political thought in the MidEast. Well, guess the title of the best-selling book in the Palestinian territories these days. If you guessed Hitler's Mein Kampf, you guessed right. And it's climbing the charts in Britain's Arab neighborhood book stores.
Posted by B. Preston at 09:40 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


CNN is part of a cabal, arranged by the Democrats of course, to attack President Bush. US News & World Report is apparently set to unload this gem in its next edition.

"Oops! The secret's out on plan to slam Bush, GOP,” says the headline in next week’s edition of the ever-fascinating Washington Whispers section of U.S. News & World Report.

"Top Democrats, liberal interest groups, and two CNN co-hosts are quietly promoting a new network to thwart President Bush's agenda with orchestrated protests, critical stories planted in friendly media, and rapid-reaction teams,” the magazine says.

"The lefties held an inaugural meeting this month, featuring talks by House Minority Leader Dick Gephardt, CNN Crossfire hosts and party operatives James Carville and Paul Begala, and former top Clinton-Gore aides.”

Can't say I'm shocked that CNN plays on the Dems' team, but to see them formalize a relationship like this is sickening, especially in a time of war. I don't want to be melodramatic, but there is a war on, and by weakening the president CNN may end up weakening the nation's resolve. I seem to remember some fairly suspect reporting during the Gulf War--Peter Arnett's gabs with Saddam, the infamous "baby milk factory" story--that looked designed to question America's intentions. And of course there's the 1998 Operation Tailwind fiasco, in which CNN intentionally twisted facts and interview clips to make it look like US troops had committed war crimes during Vietnam. At least that scandal killed Peter Arnett's awful career.

Not to be outdone by US News, National Review's Byron York dishes the dirt on corporate media support for the far-left People for the American Way. York has been a great pickup for NRO from the old American Spectator--he's consistently on top of the back stories like no one else. In this story, he's got the goods on ties between PAW and Time, CBS and the New York Times. York also previews PAW's strategy against Bush federal court nominee Miguel Estrada--they plan to portray him as a "Latino Clarence Thomas." You heard it here...well, second.
Posted by B. Preston at 09:32 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


and agree to disagree. You're Catholic and I'm Protestant--we could have these debates forever and never settle anything because our views on so many levels are just different. I never meant to offend or cause a rupture, and I apoligize for any offense--I just got into the debate to knock down what I perceived to be a judgemental spirit. That was the thrust of my Romans argument. I will suggest one thing, though--learn to debate doctrinal/spiritual issues from a foundation grounded in scripture before you accuse your opponents of "reaching" or "taking a leap." That's what got me all fired up in the first place--I was making my case using principles based on scripture, and your counters were essentially based on your opinion, yet I was the one accused of going out of bounds. Opinions are fine, but they are based on human perception and are subject to change easily, especially across sectarian lines. Making a case for a particular spiritual point of view requires knowing, and knowing how to correctly interpret and explain, the Word upon which our mutual faith is based. If you can't do that, you're really better off not publicly opining on spiritual matters, however innocent your intentions. You'll get a thumper like me on your back before you know it.
Posted by B. Preston at 05:29 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


want to enslave Jewish women. Diana over at Letter from Gotham has the goods on the poisonous snake, I mean sheik, who's promoting such vile thoughts. She's got the guy's number--literally.
Posted by B. Preston at 04:53 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


I heard this letter read on local talk station WBAL on my way back from DC today, and thought it worth linking to without comment. I'm not Catholic, but I have resisted piling on the Catholic Church, believing that the Pope and other leaders would prayerfully find a solution that would help the victims, stop the perpetrators and begin to repair the damage done to the cause of Christ throughout the world, Catholic and Protestant. I think now that, based on the statements released after the American Cardinals' meeting with the Pope in Rome, and the offer of a promotion extended to Boston's Cardinal Lay, the Catholic Church's leadership has failed.

UPDATE: Susanna Cornett seems to agree, and adds some pertinent thoughts about the relationship between sin, forgiveness and consequences.
Posted by B. Preston at 04:42 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


As both of you, my dear readers, know, I love space technology. If it jumps off a launch pad or orbits a heavenly body, I'm all for it. You may also remember a while back that I mentioned NASA's nuclear engine initiative, which will metaphorically take the agency from the age of horse and buggy to the steam locomotive. Well, if the nuclear engine thing fascinates or scares you, check this site out. It's about the MITEE, or MIniature Reactor Engine. These nuclear engines are cool stuff, and it's the only way we're likely to be able to get to Mars, much less outside the solar system. Chemical rockets and engines, like those we presently use on the shuttle and just about everything else, are too heavy and don't provide enough "go."

(thanks to Mark Rice for the heads up)
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April 25, 2002


I can tell that Jimmy T is a lawyer, or associated with the legal profession somehow, because he knows how to wiggle around alot and sound smart without actually making much of a point. He also knows how to magnify one part of an opponent's argument while totally ignoring the more substantive parts. Jimmy, you dodged my entire New Testament argument, which is essentially that you can't force other people to bend to your cultural hang-ups, and you are not allowed to look down your nose at people who's own cultural opinions don't agree with yours. So you can't say "You people have no taste." Read my last post on the subject again--I didn't just use the Psalms, Jimmy. I also threw in a little Romans and some Ephesians.

I see a huge problem in your entire line of reasoning, Jimmy, which is that you base your whole argument on your own opinion. You claim that you're basing your opinions on your church leaders--I also addressed that in my last post. What do you do if your church leaders directly contradict the Bible? Which one, the Catholic Church or the Holy Word, has the last say? And what has the Catholic Church specifically said in addressing the guitar issue? Where can you point to one verse, one part of a verse, to justify your side? You can't, or else you already would have. You say that I shouldn't use the Psalms or that I'm making an unjustified leap, but you don't use anything at all. There is simply no justification, apart from your own biased opinion, at the foundation of your arguments.

By your reasoning, Jimmy, the violin would never have become an accepted part of worship. In the 17th and 18th centuries, the violin was considered by many to be a satanic instrument, and the sounds it made irredeemable. Why? Because it was used in the popular music of the day--they didn't have that evil guitar to kick around yet. Now, the violin and its use in worship music is completely uncontroversial. Why? Because it has been displaced by a new boogeyman--the six-string guitar. The prejudice against the violin was purely cultural, as is your prejudice against the guitar. The piano, in the early 20th century, faced similar prejudice because it had come to be associated with ragtime, yet there's hardly a church in America (except the Churches of Christ, I know) that doesn't have a piano. And the vaunted pipe organ--where would churches have been without that for the past 6 or 7 centuries? But none of these instruments--the piano, the violin, the pipe organ, or the guitar--gets a mention in the Psalms. But you focus on the guitar, and say it shouldn't be used, period. Again, by what justification? By your line of reasoning, progress should have been stopped at the close of the Biblical age in all respects. I'd say that if we lived by your arguments we'd all have to become Amish, but that's a disservice to the Amish--you'd leave us technologically and culturally halted in AD 33. Or maybe in the time of David.

Go back and read my last post again, Jimmy. Focus on the New Testament arguments dealing with Christians and judging each other. And I didn't miss your key words--universal, and public. I beat them pretty hard, actually. There is not now, nor will there ever be, a universal standard for the best that humanity has to offer God as a form of public worship. As long as there are human beings, there will be differences of opinion on a whole range of things--drinking, dating, movies, music, books, the arts, everything. Are you qualified to come up with your wished-for universal standard? Am I? Is anyone? It's totally unworkable--you'd have to ascertain the opinion of every Christian on the face of the earth. Talk about making decisions by committee--you'd spend all your time debating and never get to the worshipping. Only God can ultimately decide what the perfect and universal worship should be, and I'm not even conviced that that's what He wants. If he wanted that, He'd have created us so that we couldn't sin, but could only worship Him. We're human, imperfect, yet He loves and accepts us as we are while working with us to make us more like Him. That work will not be completed until we're actually with Him--until then, our imperfect, often dischordant worship is all we can offer. And His standard--a joyful noise--seems apt.

And no, Jimmy, we can't even agree that speedmetal is inappropriate in church. I probably wouldn't attend a church that featured speedmetal in its services because I don't like speedmetal, but I won't judge a church that does. What's music to me is noise to you, and what's music to you may be pretentious garbage to me (though I do like classical, just fyi). If a church that allows speedmetal teaches doctrines that are sound, and if it reaches some people and brings them to Jesus, that's enough for me. That's the church's purpose on earth--reach the lost. Matthew 28:19--there I go, citing the New Testament again.
Posted by B. Preston at 08:21 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


We anti-cloners put forward all sorts of reasonable, thoughtful arguments why we think cloning--not all science, not all types of experientation, just cloning--should be banned, and we get called names, told we're backward, whatever. Here's Stephen Green's latest little jab:

HillaryCare killers Harry and Louise are back, this time ripping up the proposed ban on science. Check out Dan Pink's for a partial transcript of the new spot.

No word yet on getting Thelma & Louise ads in support of legalizing gay marriages -- but I'm hoping.

Proposed ban on science--yeah, Stephen, that's what we're promoting all right. For your information, Vodkaboy, if I were promoting a ban on science, I'd be promoting my own unemployment. I'm no Rhodes Scholar, but I ain't that stupid. I love science--I dare say that I probably have more of a vested interest in the continuation of science than about 99 percent of the rest of the populace. But I'm not for science just for the sake of science, else I'd be no better than Dr. Mengele.

So here it is, one more time for you slow types who can't follow complicated arguments--I'm against cloning because I'm against experimentation on humans without their consent; I'm against the manufacture of humans for the purpose of harvesting of their parts; I'm against devaluing human life to the point where it becomes nothing more than a commodity to be traded like rock salt and Birkenstock sandals. And I'm against cloning because I don't trust that it will be used responsibly. Every time you pro-cloners distort my position and the position of my fellow anti-cloners, you solidify my conviction that cloning will become a menace in the hands of monsters some day.

That does not make me anti-science. It makes me a cautious skeptic who places the value of human life above the value of my own temporary comfort.
Posted by B. Preston at 06:19 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


Lots of others have picked up on some of the threatening tones coming from the Prince has he prepares for a showdown with President Bush at the Crawford, TX ranch. Here's the NY Times' take on it, with major sourcing from an unnamed person close to the Prince. This part jumped out at me when I read it:

But the person close to the prince said that if the summit talks went badly, Abdullah might not complete his stay in Texas. Instead, he might return directly to Riyadh and call for a summit meeting of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, to report to its 44 leaders, who represent 1.2 billion Muslims.

"He wants to say, `I looked the president of the U.S. in the eye and have to report that I failed,' " this person said. His message to the Arabs will be, "Take the responsibility in your own hands, my conscience is clear, before history, God, religion, country and friends." (itlalics mine)

"He wants to say"...It sounds like the Prince already knows what's in store--W's going to give him an old-fashioned trip to the woodshed down on the ranch. Don't be surprised if he cuts the trip short and things go downhill within a few days to a couple of weeks. The end of the House of Saud may be drawing near.
Posted by B. Preston at 02:22 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


: NASA is welcoming the second space tourist to visit the International Space Station. They grumbled when the first one, Dennis Tito, went up on board a Soyuz, and lost a great chance for some positive PR. This time around NASA is singing a different tune, thankfully. The second tourist, Mark Shuttleworth (how ironic) of South Africa, will fly up, have a grand time and tell all his rich buddies. They'll all want to do it, and they'll find ways to make it cheaper and easier, because that's what the super-rich do. The upshot is that eventually the not-so-super rich will get to do it too. That's how technology usually gets into the hands of the common guy--only the wealthy could afford cars when they first arrived, yet now nearly every adult in the country has one or more. Ditto for TV's, cell phones, computers, microwaves, etc etc. It'll take a while, but if NASA and the Russians keep going in this direction, mass space tourism will be a reality.

This is also good for the cash-strapped Russian Space Agency, which will accept a steep fee for zipping Shuttleworth up on board a Soyuz.
Posted by B. Preston at 09:50 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


Roy and Paula Jacobsen, two profs who run a cool blog called Dispatches from Outland. Smart folks with excellent taste in music (and guitar-friendly music, naturally).

UPDATE: Ok, they aren't profs, and Roy's doing all the actualy blogging. My bad. Still a cool site. What was that I was saying about reporters getting their facts straight....?
Posted by B. Preston at 08:41 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 24, 2002


Because sometimes I help feed the press the story. Today we did a press conference at NASA HQ in Washington DC, announcing that a new study of a certain type of dying star indicates that the universe is about 13 to 14 billion years old. It's all based on the ages of the stars themselves--called white dwarfs--which astronomers have reliably fixed at 12.7 to 13 billion years. I won't go into the nitty-gritty of the story, but the Washington Post's Paul Recer was at the announcement, asked a lot of probing questions, and writes a lengthy story explaining the whole thing, but the Post comes up with this headline: Study: Universe 13 Billion Years Old.

Problem: it's the star, not the universe, that's 13 billion. The stars, as the astronomer explained three or four times, need about a billion years to form. Add their ages, 13 billion years, to that formation time, 1 billion years, and you get your 14 billion years.

It's not so much that the story itself is wrong, but that the headline is misleading--it's off by a billion years. It could be that the headline writer, who wasn't at the press conference, botched the line. But this is a story where we spoon-fed the data to the reporters, who as science reporters are among the most educated reporters around. Most of them (Paul included) know their subjects inside and out nearly as well as the scientists themselves, yet for all our efforts we get a misleading headline. Now imagine plopping the average reporter, who has no military experience and little knowledge of the world beyond J-school, into a war zone where combatants on both sides are spinning things to put themselves in the best light and their enemy in the worst light. It's not too tough to see why so much reporting from Afghanistan, Israel and elsewhere has been useless.

(btw, I'm not implying that Paul Recer's story is useless, just that the headline needs work)
Posted by B. Preston at 07:31 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


He went to Brussels, and got jostled around a bit. From what I've read I don't like the guy at all, but whatever happened to tolerance in Europe, and freedom of speech and all that? And why don't former Communists like Mikhail Gorbachev ever spark protests like this?

UPDATE: Le Pen was booed in the EU Parliament. Then things in the Eurocracy went from bad to worse:

In chaotic scenes after Le Pen cancelled his press conference, Belgian right-wing extremist Karel Dillen received a pie in his face and a brief fight ensued. Several hundred anti-Le Pen protesters demonstrated outside, holding banners reading "Together against hatred."

Sounds like Moe, Larry and Curly invaded Brussels. And we're supposed to care what these people think of us?
Posted by B. Preston at 04:59 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


Frustration Grows Over Airport Delays. We have, for the first time, evidence that Homeland Security chief Tom Ridge has actually thought about the stupid changes made to airport security post 9-11:

(Florida Rep John) Mica said he will bring officials of the new TSA and industry representatives into a closed-door meeting before his committee on May 2 to go over why there has been a delay in creating a way to identify low-risk passengers and allow security and baggage screeners to concentrate on passengers with a higher-risk profile.

Mica echoed concerns raised Monday by Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge, who told a meeting of reporters that he didn't think "random security checks enhance security checks very much at airports." (ya think...)

Ridge said he believed that the 600 million passengers who fly on U.S. commercial airliners each year will pay an additional fee and "submit information about themselves" so security officials could make a "rational, responsible assessment as to the likelihood of these people being terrorists."

Of course, the background check idea that Ridge is talking about seems pretty stupid and ineffective to me. If we come up with a "trusted traveller program" (that's what they're calling it), won't terrorists just become part of the program? Of course they will, and only show how untrustworthy they are when they take a plane down.

Where is the common sense on this issue? It ain't in Washington, that's for sure.
Posted by B. Preston at 04:53 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


The Army keeps accidentally releasing anthrax here. We've already got red tide, 2400 spore pollen counts (sparking allergies in me for the first time in years), and Kathleen Kennedy Townsend as Lite Gov--we don't need any more deadly junk floating around.
Posted by B. Preston at 04:42 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


Aussie Martin Roth, described by Dodgeblog as a "happy, clappy Christian," is in the permalinks--because I like him and because Dodge doesn't. I wonder if Dodge knows how many fair-minded people he turns off by being so snippy toward Christians.
Posted by B. Preston at 04:12 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 23, 2002


They're rejecting the UN's Jenin "massacre" probe investigation team, saying that it's biased against them. Well, let's take a look at that team. One's from the International Committee of the Red Cross, which doesn't allow Israel's Magan David Adom into its membership. The second member, Sadako Ogata of Japan, graduated from Berkley (lefty alert), and was the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. I couldn't find anything particularly anti-Israeli in anything she's said, but her job at the UN almost mandates that she leans towards the Palestinians as "refugees." The other participant, Martti Ahtisaari, is a Eurocrat and was a player in last year's shameful (and anti-Semitic) World Conference Against Racism. Not exactly a balanced group to send in. An additional problem with them, as the Israelis have noted, is that none of them has military experience. That's extremely relevant to evaluating the aftermath of a battle--were the choices of commanders and field soldiers appropriate given the situation, or out of bounds? One thing that should surely work in Israel's favor in any investigation is the fact, undisputed, that they searched house-to-house when the simplest and least dangerous way to wipe out the terrorists would have been indiscriminate boming from the air. I think Israel was right to reject this committee, and I think they'll take a great deal of heat for it. It won't be fair, but when has the world been fair to Israel?

(found on Midwest Conservative Journal)
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Ok, we'll probably have to agree to disagree on this one. But a few quibbles first.

Using the Psalms to justify guitar music is a bit of an overreach. There are a lot of steps from three-thousand year old harp music to Innagoddadavidda.

Psalm 150 ain't talking about harp music, Jimmy. Read it. Here it is, so you don't even have to go looking it up:

1. Praise ye the Lord. Praise God in his sanctuary: praise him in the firmament of his power.
2. Praise him for his mighty acts: praise him according to his excellent greatness.
3. Praise him with the sound of the trumpet: praise him with the psaltery and harp.
4. Praise him with the timbrel and dance: praise him with stringed instruments and organs.
5. Praise him upon the loud cymbals: praise him upon the high sounding cymbals.
6. Let every thing that hath breath praise the Lord. Praise ye the Lord.

Stringed instruments, organs, loud cymbals--all after mentioning the harp, so you can't say that it's just mentioning the harp when it says "stringed instruments." Why use the Psalms to figure out what's appropriate? Paul said to, in Ephesians 5. Here's the text:

17. Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is.
18. And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;
19. Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord;
20. Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ...(emphasis mine)

"Psalms" here means both psalms generically, and just possibly, the book of 150 Psalms with which all the first followers of Christ (who were Jews, and knew the Book quite well) were familiar. Then Jimmy says:

No mention of "outside church": true, but no mention of in church.

Gimme a break. It's the OT, dude--church was a slightly different thing in those days. Point is, it says praise and provides instructions, instructions that Paul concurs with--and he's talking about in church.

No mention of guitars. Maybe we should only be using harps? Maybe only playing three-thousand year old cymbals? Etc., etc.

Again, gimme a break. Guitars weren't invented as of the writing of the Psalms. I've already knocked down the harp comment, and you're just reaching with the 3000 year old cymbals riff.

Later, Jimmy says:

The simple fact is that absent a more clear-cut command to use guitars in church from the Psalms, I do not believe that God intended for us to suspend our judgment regarding music and art and cut loose with some rockabilly in church because David wrote about praising God on the timbrel.

Don't get me started on doing things absent clear-cut commands. Where's the clear-cut command to make a pantheon called "saints" and give them each a special day? Where's the clear-cut command to keep the church's top officials sequestered in Rome, or to keep them celibate, or to wear a mitre, or to condust Mass in Latin? You're on thin doctrinal ice with that comment, to say the least.

And why stop there? Jesus Himself gave us very few clear-cut commands--love your neighbor as you love yourself and love God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength. Do unto others as you'd have them do to you. As for salvation, He gave us one hurdle to jump--accept Him as Lord and Saviour.

The whole problem people have with guitars is cultural, pure and simple. Paul addressed this quandary in Romans 14:14--

I know, and am persuaded by the Lord Jesus, that there is nothing unclean of itself: but to him that esteemeth any thing to be unclean, to him it is unclean.

Paul then goes on to discuss that what's fine with one brother may not be fine for another, and for that second brother the non-fine thing is indeed a problem because to partake is not an act of faith for him. But it's still fine for the first guy, so long as it's not a bright-red-line sin. The first guy then has a responsibility to see that the thing (in the scriptures it's eating meat, but the principle applies here as well) in question doesn't cause the second guy to stumble in his walk with God. So, I'm not heading to your church to hit power chords, Jimmy, you can rest assured. But I'm also not hampered in the least by your cultural opinion applied as doctrine. I'm just not, and neither is anyone else.

I think we Christians have a problem here, which the guitar debate highlights nicely--we take our own opinions, or those given to us by our leaders, and assume that they have a Biblical mandate behind them without checking for ourselves. We then build up a dogma around it, and won't brook any critique--even if it's Biblically-based. We all do it--for years, I assumed that drinking any alcohol at all was a sin (I am a Baptist, after all), because my church taught me so. But when I actually looked the subject up, I found a surprise. The Bible says "don't get drunk, not "don't drink at all." While I still don't drink a drop (for lots of reasons), I don't look down on brothers and sisters who do anymore. I would caution drinking Christians to do so in moderation, and to watch out that it doesn't cause other Christians to sin, but I won't make a blanket statement that all drinking is an automatic sin anymore.

Jimmy says, and I'll use this as my last angle of attack, that church should "universalize--take the best that mankind has to offer it." First off, we have nothing to offer to God--He saves us through His grace. But what does Jimmy's statement mean, apart from men and women using the skills God has given them and developed in them to use for His glory? If you're an artist, you can paint for His glory. If you're a writer, you can write for His glory. If you're a singer, you can sing like an angel. So why can't a guitarist play a chord for His glory? Listen to Michael Card, Jimmy....singer, writer, guitarist, and faithful Christian. You'll be surprised how spiritual a guitar can sound in the right hands.
Posted by B. Preston at 07:39 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


Lots of people are apparently finding this site by searching for "space junk causing death."
Posted by B. Preston at 06:45 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


Charles Murtaugh asked, some days back now (I've only just now seen the post, unfortunately) whether Bush's recent tendency to give the Dems everything they want on the domestic front is also "rope-a-dope." Nope, it's just dope. I don't understand it and can't explain it--Bush has had political capital to burn, but has been content to fritter it away. That leads to discontent among his base while energizing his enemies--and it leaves necessary things, like drilling for more oil in ANWR, judicial nominees, etc in limbo until they're eventually killed. Some Republican, somewhere, needs to develop a little backbone and some strategic sense and start skewering the Hill Democrats for the extremists that they are. When Saddam stands up and begs for an Arab oil embargo, a Bushie needs to say to the country "We can neutralize this economic threat by drilling for more oil at home." When the extreme enviromentalists pipe up, the Bushies should point out that the people who actually live there want the drilling to happen, and that they are people of color--Eskimos. Let the Dem special interests fight amongst themselves over that one. When the Dems table a qualified judicial nominee, a Bushie needs to scream about it and point out that the nominee is Hispanic, or whatever. When the Dems make veiled criticism about the president's handling of the war, a Bushie needs to point out that the previous Dem administration let the country suffer attack after attack with coming up with a coherent response. When the Dems scream about the Confederate flag, point out that the Dems are the ones that raised it in state capitols in the first place. The best thing about all the counter-charges I recommend them (and a necessary part of why I recommend them) is that they're all true.

The Bush Republicans need to learn to fight in the trenches, and fast. Some will say that he's being too political, and that he'll suffer in the polls for it. I say, what good is an 80% approval rating if you don't have the stomach to use it once in a while?
Posted by B. Preston at 06:29 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


Kevin H. tipped us off to today's action in the Ohio Assembly.

Ohio State Senate on behalf of the citizens of Ohio supports the State of Israel and her citizens in the campaign against terror and in the effort to root out the terrorist infrastructure currently protected by and encouraged by the Palestinian Authority and other nations in the region still at war with the State of Israel.

Not much uncertainty in that language. It's from the resolution that passed the Ohio Senate 28-4 today. Usually such resolutions of support don't mean much, but in the current atmosphere of anti-Semitism sweeping Europe and causing dry rot in Arabia, Ohio's resolution says quite a lot.

I think the 4 voting against it should be ashamed of themselves, and should be reminded of their shame next election day.
Posted by B. Preston at 05:48 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


for about the tenth day in a row. Every day the servers take a nosedive. May be time to look around for a new host.
Posted by B. Preston at 04:50 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


Israel's "partner for peace" has been using his personal helicopter to smuggle illegal weapons between his compound in Ramallah, Iraq and Iran (occupying positions 1 and 2 in the Axis of Evil, for those of you who are keeping score at home). Why again shouldn't we be calling him a terrorist?
Posted by B. Preston at 04:33 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


This year's Mother of the Year Award winners:

An Early Mother's Day for NBC's O'Brien

"Weekend Today" co-anchor Soledad O'Brien is being honored as one of the six "2002 Outstanding Mothers of the Year" by the National Mother's Day Committee. O'Brien is the mother of two daughters, Sofia Elizabeth, 1, and Cecilia, born last month.

O'Brien will be honored Thursday by the National Mother's Day Committee at the New York Marriott Marquis. Other honorees include former talk-show host Marie Osmond; WNBA president Val Ackerman; Teresa Earnhardt (CEO, Dale Earnhardt Inc.); Jane Elfers (president/CEO, Lord & Taylor); and Kathy Ireland.

O'Brien, by the way, returns to "Weekend Today" May 4. And her NBC colleague, "Today" newsreader Ann Curry, has been named to the board of directors of the Susan B. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation. She's been an active volunteer for the foundation and was honorary chair for the Komen National Race for the Cure. (STARR Report - NY Post)

So...in order to win Mother of the Year, you must entrust the raising and instruction of your children to hired help.
Posted by B. Preston at 04:20 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 22, 2002


Kesher Talk, Rachel Profiling (love the name), and Man Bites Blog. Yeah, Miss Profiling tosses some choice lingo around, but she's still got her head screwed on straight, for a college girl...
Posted by B. Preston at 06:42 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


Some things in life just keep repeating themselves, over and over and over. By the way, the first piece in that pattern was the handiwork of our unshaven, and currently sequestered, "partner for peace."
Posted by B. Preston at 06:04 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


Who knew that Steve Den Beste has such a svelte first officer on the USS Clueless? Looks like she needs a little sun, though.
Posted by B. Preston at 05:57 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


Check out Charles Krauthammer's thoughtful criticism of efforts to legalize research cloning. I've gone back and forth on whether or not the feds even have the right to ban cloning without some deep discussion and, possibly, amending the Constitution. But whether you're for, against, or on the fence, Krauthammer's piece is well worth reading.
Posted by B. Preston at 05:35 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


has a nice take on the defeat of the ANWR drilling plan and how to rescue it: couple it with tougher CAFE (auto fuel efficiency standards). It's a two-fer shot at "Saudi" Arabia, and cedes a little ground to the Dems while getting the president's ultimate prize, which is an energy policy that increases our self-sufficiency. Besides, if the Dems actually bother to ask their core supporters about ANWR, they might find a nasty surprise--most of my left-liberal friends switched their stance on ANWR after 9-11. They rightly saw domestic drilling as one way to distance our economy from dependence on the MidEast. I live in core lib territory--I'd bet rank-and-file Dems across the country are even more amenable to ANWR drilling nowadays.
Posted by B. Preston at 03:53 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


, accusing Israel of war crimes in the occupation of Jenin. No mention of Palestinian war crimes--intentional killing of civilians, using noncombatants as human shields, using clearly marked medical vehicles to transport weapons--but they're only too happy to charge Israel with...well, with something. Remember, Amnesty is the same outfit that charged the US with war crimes for the treatment of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Those charges turned out to be less than bogus. Expect the same here--and expect that the Palestinians will get a pass, as usual.
Posted by B. Preston at 03:40 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


Don't look to UPI for it. Here's a story containing several Palestinian eyewitness accounts, compiled by one very biased reporter. He's talking to a young boy who claims to have set ambushes for Israeli tank crews:

"We tried to make them go down there," the boy said. "We had a lot of very good snipers, and we were going to make them come out of the tanks and shoot them one by one."

When I asked him how they planned to do that, he looked at me like someone who had to have everything explained to him in children's terms and his tone of voice was like that of an old man telling stories to a little boy. He said he was just over 8 years old.

"The streets are too narrow. They cannot drive the tanks through them quickly. They get stuck and one or two always come out and wave at it until it is free," he said, imitating the hand signals he saw them using. "Then we shoot them."

He jumped and clapped his hands delightedly.

When I asked him what his name was, his eyes narrowed and his voice lowered cautiously. He was suspicious about the possibility that Israeli soldiers were walking around camouflaged as journalists.

"To you I am ... Issa,' he said at last.

By way of praising his courage, this reporter told him: "No. To me you are David, and I admire your bravery against the tanks and soldiers that are like Goliath."

But he replied: "David is a Jewish name. I am a Palestinian. To you I am Issa."

Maybe the reporter, Mike Gallagher, is just trying to make conversation, but saying that he admires the boy's bravery is taking sides, no matter how you slice it. The story never explores the terrorists' use of empty buildings, and the homes of suspected terrorists, as booby traps. It never asks about suicide bombers, or the wanton killing of Israeli civilians--it just takes the word of the witnesses as truth without much verification.
Posted by B. Preston at 02:58 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


cuz to the Prez, picked up the the most glaring problem with Howard Kurtz's blog piece--it never mentions Evan Williams, the guy who actually made blogging possible. Ev is our Gutenberg--he certainly deserved a mention.
Posted by B. Preston at 02:40 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


, welcome to the JunkYard! Yup, this humble blog gets a quick mention in Kurtz's Washington Post column about blogs. He mentions yours truly among some lofty company:

The first blogger to make an impact was Matt Drudge, followed by a wave that included Andrew Sullivan, Mickey Kaus, Joshua Micah Marshall and Postrel, a former Reason editor.

Now the lineup features Libertarian Samizdata, JunkYardBlog, VodkaPundit, QuasiPundit, MuslimPundit, The Daily Bleat, USS Clueless and Asparagirl...

This blog, in the same sentence with Lileks and Clueless...I never thought I'd see that. And our good friend Susanna Cornett even gets a quote.

Why he left out Jonah Goldberg, whose initial NRO pieces resembled blog posts, escapes me. Maybe because Jonah was publishing them under the auspices of NRO--and getting paid. Overall, the piece is solid but a tad condescending, but whaddya expect? Howard Kurtz is a pretty fair-minded, though old-school, sort. Still, his piece is a ton better than Alex Beam's rant a couple weeks back. It'll be interesting to see what the other bloggers mentioned have to say about it.

(by the way, in my way of thinking "old school" isn't perjorative--I'm about as old-school as you can get in some areas, not including church worship styles)
Posted by B. Preston at 09:19 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


The unelected leader of China and the pseudo-elected leader of Iran are getting acquainted. I've thought since, oh about Sept 12 or so, that the one country that really benefits from all the chaos is China. They have designs on Taiwan, an island that we support in a manner that bears some similarities to our support for Israel. In the present crisis, they get to see our tactics up close, they get to see how our leadership, our Congress (no, they're not the same thing), and our people respond to a real threat. They get to see which buttons to push to create doubts and division, how our European "allies" will respond, and where to open up second fronts. I'm not saying that China is behing Al Qaida (though there's some trace evidence of financial support), but that Sept.11 was a windfall to a nation that already considers the US a hostile nation in many ways.
Posted by B. Preston at 12:40 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


is still a mess. I mentioned a while back that I accidentally got past security with a small knife in my pocket--on a keyring that has, in the past, always triggered the metal detector. But that day at BWI south of Baltimore, it didn't, and my knife and I slipped through. Now, the airlines' employees are fed up. It's easy to see why:

Since 9/11, flight crews have often had to go through screening alongside passengers, and are even pulled aside for special searches. The pilots call it "gate-rape"; many claim that screeners target them because doing so is an easy way for them to meet their quota of random searches and because screeners know crews will be punished by their airlines if they complain.

So federalizing the screeners hasn't done the job. What about the touted Air Marshall plan?

Pilots and government officials say a program to put thousands of Federal Air Marshals on flights has been hobbled by insufficient training and poor-quality agents on loan from other agencies. During the Salt Lake City Olympics, for example, two temporary marshals boarded a high-risk flight in the western U.S. According to an airline security official, one of them grabbed a blanket, put his seat back and fell into a deep sleep with his weapon unprotected in a bag at his feet. His partner managed to stay awake, but left his seat to use the bathroom — without rousing his colleague or securing his own gun. A government source says there has never been a case of a permanent Air Marshal falling asleep on duty.

Nice. The two things our government could do--now--to increase our security on-board the airlines are, unfortunately, the two things it is the least likely to do. The first is something the pilots are begging for--guns in the cockpits. The flight crews should be armed, and not with one-shot stun guns, but with pistols and ammunition that's unlikely to pierce the aircraft's skin. The second is just using common sense--profiling of passengers. Until Al Qaida recruits a 76-year-old grandmother from Des Moines, we should focus on young males age 18-45, from a few select countries, travelling alone or with one or more similar passengers, travelling one way and checking little or no baggage. Your suspected terrorists need not fit all of these criteria, but a preponderence should set off a more thorough look at him. Until we either arm pilots or engage in passenger profiling, we simply won't be serious about making the airlines safe again.
Posted by B. Preston at 12:12 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 21, 2002


I spent a good chunk of the afternoon redsigning the site, hopefully making it a little less messy-looking and adding some features. The new features include a comment system, a web search engine and a tell-a-friend form. I also reduced the header graphic to speed downloads, and removed my picture because I just wanted the site to look better. Also, each post now get its own little box thingy, so that it's a little easier to tell when one post ends and another begins. So whaddy think? Comment away, or email me, whether you like the new look or not.
Posted by B. Preston at 11:12 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack