Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Saturday, December 27, 2008
Now a confirmed atheist, I've become convinced of the enormous contribution that Christian evangelism makes in Africa: sharply distinct from the work of secular NGOs, government projects and international aid efforts. These alone will not do. Education and training alone will not do. In Africa Christianity changes people's hearts. It brings a spiritual transformation. The rebirth is real. The change is good.
He first used to praise the missionary good works, while discounting their faith. But he admits that Christianity also changed the Africans who embraced it:
Far from having cowed or confined its converts, their faith appeared to have liberated and relaxed them. There was a liveliness, a curiosity, an engagement with the world - a directness in their dealings with others - that seemed to be missing in traditional African life. They stood tall.
Whenever we entered a territory worked by missionaries, we had to acknowledge that something changed in the faces of the people we passed and spoke to: something in their eyes, the way they approached you direct, man-to-man, without looking down or away. They had not become more deferential towards strangers - in some ways less so - but more open.
How did this happen? Parris dispenses with the multicommunist doublethink:
There's long been a fashion among Western academic sociologists for placing tribal value systems within a ring fence, beyond critiques founded in our own culture: “theirs” and therefore best for “them”; authentic and of intrinsically equal worth to ours.
I don't follow this. I observe that tribal belief is no more peaceable than ours; and (is fact much worse, in) that it suppresses individuality. People think collectively; first in terms of the community, extended family and tribe. This rural-traditional mindset feeds into the “big man” and gangster politics of the African city: the exaggerated respect for a swaggering leader, and the (literal) inability to understand the whole
idea of a loyal opposition.
So in other words, Christianity in Africa makes democracy and individual rights possible. Mr. Parris goes on:
Anxiety - fear of evil spirits, of ancestors, of nature and the wild, of a tribal hierarchy, of quite everyday things - strikes deep into the whole structure of rural African thought. Every man has his place and, call it fear or respect, a great weight grinds down the individual spirit, stunting curiosity. (As a result) People won't take the initiative, won't take things into their own hands or on their own shoulders.
How can I, as someone with a foot in both camps (UK and Africa), explain? When the philosophical tourist moves from one world view to another he finds - at the very moment of passing into the new - that he loses the language to describe the landscape to the old. But let me try an example: the answer given by Sir Edmund Hillary to the question: Why climb the mountain? “Because it's there,” he said.
To the rural African mind, this is an explanation of why one would not climb the mountain. It's... well, there. Just there. Why interfere? Nothing to be done about it, or with it. Hillary's further explanation - that nobody else had climbed it - would stand as a second reason for passivity.
Christianity, post-Reformation and post-Luther, with its teaching of a direct, personal, two-way link between the individual and God, unmediated by the collective, and unsubordinate to any other human being, smashes straight through the philosphical/spiritual framework I've just described. It offers something to hold on to to those anxious to cast off a crushing tribal groupthink. That is why and how it liberates.
Those who want Africa to walk tall amid 21st-century global competition must not kid themselves that providing the material means or even the knowhow that accompanies what we call development will make the change (in itself). A whole belief system must first be supplanted.
And I'm afraid it has to be supplanted by another. Removing Christian evangelism from the African equation may leave the continent at the mercy of a malign fusion of Nike shoes, the witch doctor, the mobile phone and the machete.
To say nothing of enslavement by Islam, which would be even worse....
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
....the mistake in assuming that, even if we had a coherent view of what should be done, coherent polices would therefore be implemented.
This has little relation to how policy is made in a democracy.
Policy is always bad to a degree, but long periods of prosperity tend to be self-reinforcing since powerful interests are born with the means and motive to preserve the status quo. That status quo may really be a contributor to prosperity, such as regulatory restraint and moderate tax rates. That status quo may in some respects be ill-advised, such as excessive subsidy to housing debt.
But once prosperity blows up, the quasi-virtuous policy circle becomes an unvirtuous one as new interest groups come to the fore to exploit an appetite, previously weak, to impose their costly or vindictive wish lists. And even well-meaning policy gets twisted and rendered incoherent.
It's already happening to our banking bailout. If injecting government capital to improve confidence in banks was a good idea, it did nothing to improve the banks' own confidence in their borrowers. Yet now that banks have government capital, they're being pressed to lend to politically favored constituents regardless of their own judgment about whether the borrower is good for the money.
Or take the gathering auto bailout: Taxpayer dollars are being thrown at Detroit auto makers to make them "viable," even as Congress imposes new fuel-mileage mandates requiring them to incur tens of billions in costs unlikely to be recouped from their customers -- the definition of "nonviable."
Question: Will the Republicans gear up NOW, have another "Contract With America" ready for 2010, and tell the American people, "we have REAL change if you vote for us"? I can only hope so....
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
On the campaign trail, Sanders was one of Kerry's nastiest surrogates. In August 2004, he likened the president to a "trapped animal." In September, he compared Swift Boat Veterans for Truth chief John O'Neill, who respresented the sentiments of the overwhelming majority of Kerry's fellow sailors, to Josef Goebbels. He repeatedly referred to the president and his men as "chicken hawks."
This is where Karma comes in, as the term is also slang for a child molester as well as a derisive term for a nonveteran who favors a strong defense. The San Diego Union-Tribune reports that he "pleaded guilty yesterday to a federal charge of possessing child pornography":
The investigation into Sanders began in October 2007, according to a statement filed in the case by San Diego FBI agent John Caruthers.
Another FBI agent working undercover signed on to a file-sharing computer network and entered a search term that is used for accessing child pornography images.
Among the responses to that search term was one for a specific computer address that the agents eventually traced to Sanders' home in South Park in San Diego. The agent then obtained a list of files that were being shared on the computer and downloaded 11 files, including at least two that contained images of child pornography.
On May 2, 2008, agents executed a search warrant at Sanders' home and seized his computer. During the search, Sanders admitted he had downloaded child pornography using the file-sharing program, but said he deleted the files once he noticed they were downloaded, according to the FBI statement.
Sanders acknowledged in court that he had "possessed computer files containing 600 images of minors, including a 21-minute video that depicted girls engaging in sex acts with an adult man." But don't worry--his motives were "pure and innocent":
In a telephone interview last night, Sanders said he had downloaded the files as part of his research for an article on the sexual exploitation of children in foreign countries. He said his work for the Clinton administration had included aiding victims of child sex abuse in the former Yugoslavia.
"I have no sexual attraction to children whatsoever," Sanders said. "There was no evil intent."
Sanders, a lawyer, said he didn't realize federal child pornography laws barred downloading or viewing the material even by researchers. He said that is why he decided to plead guilty.
"I thought since my motives were pure and innocent, that would make a difference," he said. "I'm technically guilty of the crime."
This explanation sounds familiar. I remember Bernie Ward, the liberal--no, make that communist; this guy used to regularly perform political fellatio on the Sandinistas and Fidel Castro's banditos in Cuba--San Francisco talk-show host who in August was sentenced to seven years in federal prison after pleading guilty to distribution of child pornography. As the San Jose Mercury News reported, he claimed he was working on a book:
[Ward's] lawyer urged [Judge Vaughn] Walker to impose the lowest possible sentence, saying Ward began downloading the images as part of journalism research that went awry, spiralling out of control when he began drinking heavily. Doron Weinberg, Ward's attorney, told Walker the child porn downloading "spanned a brief period in an exemplary life.''
Mind you, the prosecution of Bernie Ward began after:
...an investigation that was triggered by his online chats with an online dominatrix who turned him in to police when she grew concerned about images he had of young children.
It turned out to be pictures of at least 15 and possibly up to 150 underage children.
It gets better:
The government's court documents alleged that Ward possessed images of sex acts on children as young as three years old, and revealed his online exchanges with the dominatrix in which he discussed his sexual attraction to children."These images depicted these minors suffering the most horrific torment,'' Steve Grocki, a Justice Department lawyer who led the Ward prosecution, said to Walker. "He traded in the currency of human suffering.
Don't you just know odd things like that can happen when journalism research goes awry?
Self-righteous Sanders used to say that "Those of us who are real swift boaters know something about judgment and responsibility for our decisions."
Perhaps he studied the kiddie porn "in a fashion reminiscient of Jen-Jiss Caan", like his buddy John Kerry would say.
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
Will the horrors unleashed by Islamic terrorists in Mumbai cause any second thoughts by those who are so anxious to start weakening the American security systems currently in place, including government interceptions of international phone calls and the holding of terrorists at Guantanamo?
Maybe. But never underestimate partisan blindness in Washington or in the mainstream media where, if the Bush administration did it, then it must be wrong.
Contrary to some of the more mawkish notions of what a government is supposed to be, its top job is the protection of the people. Nobody on 9/11 would have thought that we would see nothing comparable again in this country for seven long years.
Many people seem to have forgotten how, in the wake of 9/11, every great national event — the World Series, Christmas, New Year's, the Super Bowl — was under the shadow of a fear that this was when the terrorists would strike again.
They didn't strike again here, even though they have struck in Spain, Indonesia, England and India, among other places. Does anyone imagine that this was because they didn't want to hit America again?
Could this have had anything to do with all the security precautions that liberals have been complaining about so bitterly, from the interception of international phone calls to forcing information out of captured terrorists?
Tuesday, December 09, 2008
"I can't make it to work today. I feel faaaabulous..."
The only people who can get away with this are the ones who work for guilty liberals who sympathize with them in the first place. Hence, their action will have no impact.
In a tight job market this is a fine way to let your employer know you are dispensible and easily replaced! "Call in gay" day and watch how fast your head spins when your out of a job! Then again, that's the plan, isn't it? Next: Gays launch class action lawsuit over workplace firings, claim dismissals related to absenteeism are "discrimination".
This is apparently inspired by leftist illegal alien coddlers who wanted "A Day Without A Mexican". Did anyone even notice that one? Let's see outside of the entertainment, hair care and fashion industries, crucial to be sure, what is there maybe 1-2 gays per 100 employees? Yes, that should REALLY shutdown the economy. Can we just call it a "Day without drama" instead?
Good thoughts courtesy of Brian Corbino:
You are judged by the company you keep. And in the era of identity politics, "the company you keep" has been expanded.More good thoughts:
Those on the left wanted to pursue identity politics so they could become more powerful. Well, now that whole thing is getting in the way of (their) individualism. How's that working out for ya?
That's as may be, but whether you voted for them or not, they (militant leftists) have become the public face of all gays.
Just as Hamas has become the public face of all muslims.
When normal members of subgroup X refuse to stand up and shout "you do not speak for me, douchebag!", then you oughtn't be surprised when people think that all members of X are douchebags.
Thursday, December 04, 2008
Let's see, we had heavy rains and snows in January 2008, which we couldn't entirely store behind Folsom. Then we had a drier than normal February and March 2008, and by late spring they were issuing drought warnings. When everything west of Watt Avenue is under water some very rainy winter, or when nothing comes out of our taps, someone will come up with the bright idea to revisit Auburn Dam.
The "no new dams" approach to water supply, like the "no new roads" approach to traffic, has just been wonderful, hasn't it? We didn't build the infrastructure, and people came anyway.
It seems that Auburn dam opponents are of the belief that "there are too many people in California", and that development should be curtailed for the sake of the environment, and that Auburn Dam would only spur more development. Sorry, but the facts are that:
(1) even in spite of no major dams and water infrastructure since the late 1960's, people kept on coming anyway in the 1970's and 1980's.
(2) If you really feel that too many people and too much development is a problem, then you should be demanding immigration restrictions. From 1990 to 2000, California actually lost U.S. citizens, per the Census figures. The net outmigration of U.S. citizens from California was offset by increases in legal immigrants and resident aliens and presumably even more so by illegal aliens. Even the "dot-com" economic recovery of the late 1990's did not reverse that. And I will wager that the Census figures from 2000 to 2010 will be much the same.
If the eco-luddites were serious about immigration restriction, I would take their carping about "evil" development seriously.
Wednesday, December 03, 2008
One of the most innocent-sounding examples of the left's many impositions of its vision on others is the widespread requirement by schools and by college admissions committees that students do "community service."
There are high schools across the country from which you cannot graduate, and colleges where your application for admission will not be accepted, unless you have engaged in activities arbitrarily defined as "community service."
The arrogance of commandeering young people's time, instead of leaving them and their parents free to decide for themselves how to use that time, is exceeded only by the arrogance of imposing your own notions as to what is or is not a service to the community.
Working in a homeless shelter is widely regarded as "community service"— as if aiding and abetting vagrancy is necessarily a service, rather than a disservice, to the community.
Is a community better off with more people not working, hanging out on the streets, aggressively panhandling people on the sidewalks, urinating in the street, leaving narcotics needles in the parks where children play?
This is just one of the ways in which handing out various kinds of benefits to people who have not worked for them breaks the connection between productivity and reward, as far as they are concerned.
But that connection remains as unbreakable as ever for society as a whole. You can make anything an "entitlement" for individuals and groups but nothing is an entitlement for society as a whole, not even food or shelter, both of which have to be produced by somebody's work or they will not exist.
What "entitlements" for some people mean is forcing other people to work for their benefit. As a bumper sticker put it: "Work harder. Millions of people on welfare are depending on you."
The most fundamental problem, however, is not which particular activities students are required to engage in under the title of "community service."
The most fundamental question is: What in the world qualifies teachers and members of college admissions committees to define what is good for society as a whole, or even for the students on whom they impose their arbitrary notions?
What expertise do they have that justifies overriding other people's freedom? What do their arbitrary impositions show, except that fools rush in where angels fear to tread?
What lessons do students get from this, except submission to arbitrary power?
Supposedly students are to get a sense of compassion or noblesse oblige from serving others. But this all depends on who defines compassion. In practice, it means forcing students to undergo a propaganda experience to make them receptive to the left's vision of the world.
I am sure those who favor "community service" requirements would understand the principle behind the objections to this if high school military exercises (like Junior ROTC) were required.
Indeed, many of those who promote compulsory "community service" activities are bitterly opposed to even voluntary military training in high schools or colleges, though many other people regard military training as more of a contribution to society than feeding people who refuse to work.
In other words, people on the left want the right to impose their idea of what is good for society on others— a right that they vehemently deny to those whose idea of what is good for society differs from their own.
The essence of bigotry is refusing to others the rights that you demand for yourself. Such bigotry is inherently incompatible with freedom, even though many on the left would be shocked to be considered opposed to freedom.
Tuesday, December 02, 2008
India has draconian gun laws.
To currently keep a gun you have demonstrate a direct threat on your life, and surrender it as soon as the threat is gone. You need to go to the police station every month and show your gun for a checkup to the police officer there, show the bullets you have, in case if you fired them then show the casings and tell them where you used them.
Not just civilians even police officers who use their weapons have to collect the casings to be included in their report of where and why did they fire their weapon.
In simple words, it is an example of a society which has completely disarmed itself. It is like a bunch of sheep.
The terrorists which landed in Mumbai through sea routes were armed to the teeth.
They got into a car, and shot people, moved a bit forward, threw a grenade here and there, and moved forward again to wreck havoc. They knew one thing, it will be impossible for the police to react in that short amount of time, and public has no guns to use on them.
They finally got into the Five Star hotels where they would find plenty of foreigners, mainly American, British and Israeli citizens and held them hostages. Again nobody has any guns anywhere.
The Indian government quickly mobilized their police officers, but the best of them were shot dead by the terrorists.
I have made the case for Gun Rights in India from a long time, and every time I talk about relaxing the gun laws, I am usually kicked out of the discussions and banned from online forums. One moderator even said “We take proud in being a society free from guns, and where Guns are not easily
accessible to people.”
Indians are always afraid of having a “gun culture”(the term given to
America’s fascination with guns), coming to India. Every time there is a school
shooting incident in India, they claim “we’re afraid that gun culture has come
What they never talk about the number of deaths, and gang rapes which
can be prevented by guns during a riot. India may not have a gun culture, but it
definitely has a Riot Culture.
In an average riot at least a 100 people are killed and dozens of women are raped and murdered.
How are they so easily able to do such things?
Because people don’t have guns.
When a Hindu or Muslim(the biggest riots in India are among Hindus and Muslims) family which has nothing to do with riots is hiding in the safety of their house, they have nothing to defend themselves from, and a rioting gang comes in armed with nothing but Molotov cocktails and long blades.
The whole family is killed, if there are women in the house they are caught and raped then killed. If there are no women, then the family is just burnt alive.
Many people say that the rioters might be more armed than the family if gun laws are loosened, well even in that case, the rioters will not be able to go far, they will not be able to cover more houses if they keep on taking even small amount of casualties from each house.
Maybe a suicide bombing may not be prevented by civilian ownership of firearms, but an attack of Mumbai’s nature and this scale can definitely be tackled by the scores of people affected by the attacks.
Terrorists don’t attack places where they will be met with immediate and heavy resistance by an ARMED populace.
Can you imagine how fast the terrorists would be killed, along with their twisted agenda, trying to walk down a crowded street in Israel when every citizen is a soldier and everyone who chooses to be armed IS ARMED?
Even in those cities in the US, where citizens are free to carry a concealed handgun or have a shotgun or rifle in the trunk of their car or cab of their pickup truck, we could stop a handful of terrorists, preventing them from wreaking mayhem on a world stage.
Cities and countries foolish enough to disarm their citizens create a town and nation of sheep just waiting to fall prey to the wolves.
Robert Heinlein was right: An armed society is a polite society.