Jeremy Pierce: October 2005 Archives

Searches

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I'm currently gettting a Googlanche of hits having to do with Judge Samuel Alito and various keywords: Hispanic, Jew, Jewish, and Nationality. He's not Hispanic, though the Italic name might lead some to wonder. I can't figure out why anyone would peg him as Jewish. His nationality is American. I didn't know you could be a judge in the U.S. court system without being a citizen. The searches were up at least to 60-something an hour for a while. It's dropped off into the 50s now. It's usually half that. I don't know how high it was earlier in the day, but I suspect it was in the 70s or more for a while, because I only looked at the average, and that was as it seemed to be dropping off.

Here are some other searches that caught my eye recently:

penal surgury
Well, that's a pretty strange punishment, particularly if it's going to make you not only spell both words wrong but also fail to click on the "Did you mean: penal surgery" link right at the top of the page, which would have fixed one of the spelling errors (though the less serious one).

naomi zack's reviews of the book thinking about race
I'm trying to figure out why someone would write a review of her own book.

What is the difference between regardless and irregardless
Well, they mean the same thing, but one of them is correct in standard English, and the other is an abomination.

Christian Carnival XCIV Plug

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Wittenberg Gate will host the 94th Christian Carnival this week. The Christian Carnival is a weekly collection of some of the best posts of the Christian blogosphere. It's open to Christians of Protestant, Orthodox, and Roman Catholic convictions. One of the goals of this carnival is to offer our readers to a broad range of Christian thought. This is a great way to make your writing more well known and perhaps pick up some regular readers. For examples of past carnivals, see Matt Jones's list of previous Christian Carnivals.

To enter is simple. First, your post should be of a Christian nature, but this does not exclude posts that are about home life, politics, or current events from a Christian point of view. Second, please submit only one post dated since the last Christian Carnival (i.e. from last Wednesday through this coming Tuesday).

Then do the following:

Roundup

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Christian Carnival XCIII is up at White Ribbon Warriors.

GetReligion explains why Catholics proposing withholding communion from politicians who allow abortion and euthanasia need not say the same about Catholics who support the death penalty or war.

Bush hates rich people too!

He's gay, Jim!
From what I've heard about Rick Berman's attitudes toward homosexuality, this might ruin the chances of a Sulu series or even a Sulu appearance in any further stories. [Evidence: See this from 2000, which interestingly points out that one TOS actor and one or two TNG actors are gay. There's a lot more here, but much of that goes way beyond evidence presented. See the Wikipedia entry on this subject for more. Ron Moore confirms that someone in charge explicitly didn't want gay characters, and Kate Mulgrew says it was Berman.]

Tim Challies gives an excellent argument for Christians' participation in Halloween. I think he concedes way too much to those who think the current practice of Halloween has anything to do with paganism in the religious sense, but that's what makes his argument so strong. Even if you concede that, he thinks Christians shouldn't just see it as ok to participate. He thinks it's more like a moral obligation.

Jonathan Ichikawa thinks a proposed amendment to the Texas constitution intended to ban gay marriage is going to invalidate marriage of any kind. He first pointed this out five months ago and raised the issue again recently. His latest volley sort of responds to people taking alternative views, including my comments on both those posts (to the effect that an originalist won't take the conclusion he thinks follows) and the discussion at Orin Kerr's Volokh Conspiracy post. He thinks everyone questioning his view is underestimating how serious this is. I'm not sure he's really dealt with my argument, though. Either way, it's a really funny issue, because if he's right then those opposing gay marriage on the grounds that it will harm marriage as an institution will be fully destroying marriage as a legal institution while getting rid of the possibility of gay marriage.

I spent a good deal of time this afternoon listening to Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald talking about how it's illegal for him to say anything beyond the issues raised in the indictment of Scooter Libby that his grand jury issued today. Reporters kept asking to get tidbits on Rove, Cheney, and the conspiracy theory that this was an organized revenge against Joe Wilson. Fitzgerald honorably resisted their attempts to draw out information on anyone who wasn't indicted and on any events not necessary to explain the indictment.

There's one thing that's bothering me, though. The indictment goes on and on about how serious it is to leak the identity of an undercover CIA agent (leaving aside the issue of whether someone listed in Who's Who as a CIA agent is really undercover). If Fitzgerald had been able to get the grand jury convinced that they had enough to indict either Libby or Karl Rove on that sort of charge, they would have included indictments on those matters. They didn't pursue that course. So isn't it illegal for Fitzgerald to include all that language in the indictment? Maybe I just don't understand the law he's referring to, but it seems to me that his own description of what he can and can't talk about shouldn't allow that language in the indictment at all, and when he resisted answering reporters' questions he really made it sound as if his talking about such matters would be a serious crime. Why isn't it an equally serious crime to talk about all those things not related to the indictment that he talks about in the indictment itself?

Marty Lederman has a post at Balkinization arguing that originalism is inconsistent with colorblindness. Justices Scalia and Thomas, for instance, think it's always unconstitutional for the government to use race as a basis for giving someone more favor in hiring or college admissions (and private organizations receiving government funding are subject to this as well). I think they have the wrong view, both constitutionally and morally. Affirmative action is not in principle wrong, even if in our current setting it's more harmful than helpful to those it's intended to help.

Lederman and Balkin argue that originalism is inconsistent with colorblindness. The primary argument for this is that the Congress that passed the Fourteenth Amendment wasn't colorblind in outlook. Some of them went only as far as they did with "equal protection of the laws" and "privileges and immunities" because they didn't want to give blacks the right to vote. It wasn't until the 15th Amendment that blacks were guaranteed the right to vote, and the 14th Amendment even says how to handle states that did deny blacks the right to vote, assuming it could be done. Balkin also says that many of the people voting for the 14th Amendment did not intend to remove bans against racial intermarriage, which I don't think is really surprising given predominant views at the time.

Now Balkin and Lederman seem to me to overstate the conclusion we should draw from this. They say that this shows the original understanding of the 14th Amendment did not include these additional rights that colorblindness requires. I don't think it's quite so simple. What this shows is that some of the people voting for this language didn't intend it to mean colorblindness, though others who voted for this language did intend it that way. That means there are (at least) two intended meanings of the amendment. On Justice Thomas' view, original intent is what determines the Constitution's meaning, but we don't have just one original intent. We have an underdetermined original intent. It could mean either. What's common to both, however, is certainly intended. So the original intent of the amendment does include the things both factions agreed upon. The original intent of the group of all voters does not. That seems to me to be the most plausible way to go with this if you hold to original intent (which I don't). So the conclusion does seem to me to follow from original intent, but it's not as straightforward as saying that the original intent of Congress conflicted with colorblindness. That was true of some of them but not all, and you have to take a further step to recognize that the intent of the language chosen cannot be something not intended by a large enough portion of the people voting for it.

Rosa Parks

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Rosa Parks is dead. See discussions by some of the Conservative Brotherhood: Sam, La Shawn Barber, Baldilocks, and Booker Rising [technically, La Shawn is now for some reason listed as emeritus in the Brotherhood, but she was a founding member].

I just have one question. I know she's an icon, and she's really respected for standing up for something that really was a good cause, but can a Christian really condone what she did? I can't see how. God can use immoral acts for his will. This certainly isn't as bad as some of the horrendous acts God has chosen to work through for good. I just can't see how it can be morally justified given what the Bible says about how we should relate governments that persecute Christians. How should it be any different for governments that allow people to mistreat whole ethnic groups? Jesus even says to give someone your shirt if they ask for your coat and to go an extra mile when a soldier asks you to carry his gear for a mile. So why can it be morally justified to refuse to give someone your seat when he asks, given a Christian ethic? That's something I've never understood about Christians' support of this woman's actions. It seems to me to be contrary to the direct teaching of Jesus, Paul, Peter, and the general thrust of Christian ethics.

Louis Pojman

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Lou Pojman has died. (His name is pronounced Poyman.) He's probably best known in philosophy for putting together many excellent philosophy anthologies for use in undergraduate teaching, especially at the introductory level. His work in applied ethics is markedly eclectic. To many who won't engage with the details of someone's positions, he might seem to be a lover of contradictions. He took such typically liberal views as Sierra Club environmentalism and defending a limited use of euthanasia, but he staunchly defended the justness of capital punishment and the immorality of abortion and affirmative action. He strongly opposed moral relativism of any sort, but he believed God would grant salvation to everyone. He argued that conservatives on the war on terror are correct that we need to seek military solutions to the problems of terrorism, but he argued at the same time that liberals are correct that 9-11 is a call for the U.S. to be more concerned about our own immorality, which Islamicists are right to criticize us for, and we ought to see this as an occasion to pay more heed to problems of poverty, starvation, and so on in the non-Western world, including the Muslim world, for that is surely the occasion of many terrorist cell members' opposition to the Western way of life.

I've heard a few interesting anecdotes about Pojman from someone who went to a school he used to teach at. After discovering that a philosophy black studies department interested in hiring him because of his work on civil rights issues were disappointed told him they couldn't hire him when he turned out to be white, he was so let down that he began to reconsider some of his assumptions on race issues, and I've been told that everything he wrote on that issue took a turn toward the conservative, though I haven't seen any of that work (except titles indicating that he was arguing for the immorality of affirmative action). I'm not sure if it was related to that experience or not, but Completely independently, he wrote a number of papers under the name Lois Hope Walker, including one of the better expositions of the pro-life position on abortion and an interesting pragmatic defense of religion based on the desirability of having a view that explains the meaning of life. I have a book he wrote on applied ethics that refers to Lois Hope walker as "she", which is pretty funny if you know he's talking about himself. Apparently what happened is that a textbook publisher told him one of his anthologies needed more pieces by women, and he wrote a paper defending some feminist position but attached the name Lois Hope Walker to it. He continued to use the name for other pieces. Lois Hope Walker was even invited to a conference of leading women philosophers, and the University of Mississippi Philosophy Department had to inform them that Lois Hope Walker was not a woman.

His final years were spent teaching at West Point, an elite institution (in terms of the academic quality of students) but one that I suppose most philosophers would never desire to teach at. I suspect he considered it more like a dream job.

Update: I've fixed some of the details of the anecdotes above, after consulting with my source.

The latest comments on my post about the English expressions 'more unique' and 'more pregnant' raise an interesting argument against strict constructionism as a method of interpreting the Constitution (as opposed to originalism, which I myself hold; see this post for the distinction). The preamble to the Constitution reads:

We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

A strict constructionist interprets an expression in an exact and literal, according to what the basic fundamental terms mean. An originalist (of the Scalia variety, anyway) interprets according to what the expression would have meant when it was written. The expression 'more perfect union' illustrates nicely not just the difference between the two but why strict constructionism is unworkable. The original meaning of that expression is pretty much the same meaning it would have in our mouths today, at least with respect to the use of the word 'perfect'. As I say in the post on 'more unique', something can be closer to something and be called "more unique". The expression in that context simply means closer to uniqueness. The same is true of being more perfect. The union will be closer to being perfect according to the preamble. That's how an originalist will interpret this. A strict constructionist, however, has to take the expression according to a literal, wooden application of strict rules about words and their meanings, without the common understanding I just explained of how this expression isn't like most expressions of something being "more X". A strict constructionist has to take the expression 'more perfect union' to be referring to something that is going to be literally more perfect than it already is, which is impossible. If it's perfect, it can't be more perfect. If it's not perfect, it can't be more perfect. There are basic linguistic reasons why it's wrong to correct people on this in ordinary discourse, but a strict constructionist can't avail themselves of these, because they don't involve strictly interpeting constructions.

Those who have followed my posts on translation, particularly Bible translation, can apply this lesson to the so-called literal translation issue as well. I'll leave that as the cliched exercise for the reader.

The 93rd Christian Carnival will be held at White Ribbon Warriors this week. The Christian Carnival is a weekly collection of some of the best posts of the Christian blogosphere. It's open to Christians of Protestant, Orthodox, and Roman Catholic convictions. One of the goals of this carnival is to offer our readers to a broad range of Christian thought. This is a great way to make your writing more well known and perhaps pick up some regular readers. For examples of past carnivals, see Matt Jones's list of previous Christian Carnivals.

To enter is simple. First, your post should be of a Christian nature, but this does not exclude posts that are about home life, politics, or current events from a Christian point of view. Second, please submit only one post dated since the last Christian Carnival (i.e. from last Wednesday through this coming Tuesday).

Then do the following:

I've been seeing an argument a fair amount lately, in relation respect to the Miers nomination. It was just lame at first and has become increasingly annoying the more I've seen it. It's a pretty ridiculous argument on the face of it, because some of the assumptions are just obviously wrong, but even if you grant those assumptions the conclusion doesn't follow from them. The argument thus fails on all counts. The claim is that Republicans don't or shouldn't really want to overturn Roe v. Wade. They run on that claim, but the smart ones never mean it. They couldn't mean it. It would be political suicide to mean it, because that would mean they would have an aim that gets them elected, and achieving that aim would put themselves out of a job. If Roe ever successfully got overturned, no one would ever vote for Republicans anymore, because the only reason anyone has ever voted for a Republican is no longer an issue.





My blog is worth $172,184.70.
How much is your blog worth?


I have no idea how this is calculated, even after reading the background. Most blogs I checked were worthless. [Hat tip: Tyler Williams]

Roundup

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Sam has posted more pictures of the kids.

Christian Carnival XCII is up at World of Sven.

New evidence has been unearthed about the political context of Jefferson's infamous "wall of separation" language. [HT: SmartChristian]

There's a new article in Nature about two new techniques for deriving stem cells. These both sound pretty interesting. Some people are claiming that they get around the ethical objections. If they're successful and do get around the ethical objections, we might expect less pressure from those who want to destroy embryos for stem cell research. I doubt it, though. Alternative techniques in the past haven't stopped those who are single-minded in getting this one so far unsuccessful area of research to be federally funded. See Sun and Shield for discussion by someone who understands the science better than I do.

A little while back, Eugene Volokh had an extended disussion of the New York Civil Liberties Union's attack on military recruiting. Most of his post is great, but I think one element is especially worth highlighting. The general sort of approach he's criticizing has an "Any Stick is Worth Beating the Military With" sort of approach. Normally, they'll complain when affirmative action in its two main forms is not applied. The two main forms are lowering requirements for getting in and going out of your way to try to increase the representation of underrepresented groups by targeting those groups and appealing to them in specially designed ways. If someone isn't doing that, then they aren't pursuing diversity. Yet now they're complaining that military recruiters are targeting minority students, as if that's somehow bad.

An Empirical Question?

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[Crossposted at OrangePhilosophy] My fellow OrangePhilosopher Dave Bzdak and I just had a conversation with Don Arentz, one of our colleagues in teaching at Le Moyne College, about what seems to be an empirical question but seems difficult to see how it might be empirical. How big is your vocabulary? It would seem that the question is indeed an empirical matter. Yet how would you go about empirically investigating it? Dave suggested maybe it would be in principle possible but only if you kept track of every single word you ever encountered to get a list of all the words that might be in your vocabulary, and then you investigated to see if they were still in your vocabulary at a given time. Could you do this, though? I'm not worrying about the possibility of coming up with a list of all the words you've ever encountered. Suppose you could do it. That's in principle possible, I would say, even if in practice it would be amazingly difficult to implement. Given that list, could you determine which of those words are in your vocabulary at any given time? It seems that, if you could, then you would know how big your vocabulary at the time was.

So suppose I want to know how many of those words are in my vocabulary right now. I could presumably go down the list to investigate which ones I know, right? I'm not sure it's so easy, though. I could recognize some words that I know. But wouldn't there be others that I know and don't recall the meaning of just by seeing the word in isolated form? There are some whose meaning I would remember if I saw it in the right sort of sentence that would trigger my memory. Of course, there would be others that I don't know but would get from context, in which case I've just added a word to my vocabulary. I shouldn't count those. I wanted to know how many were in it before I started the investigation. What if I'm not in a position to distinguish between the cases when the sentence triggers my memory of what a word means and cases when the context helps me add a new word to my vocabulary? It's not clear to me that I could tell the difference. If that's right, then the exact count of my vocabulary isn't really empirically discoverable after all. That's really weird. Does that mean the size of my vocabulary is not really an empirical question?

I'm becoming more and more convinced that many of those who are opposing Harriet Miers' nomination to the Supreme Court are indeed elitist. Indeed, I think it's a kind of elitism that blinds them to what those calling them elitist are really saying. Dennis Coyle expresses his frustration at the elitism charge, claiming that Bush simply confuses intellectual qualifications with a liberal approach to jurisprudence. Ultimately, his defense of his elitism is that those claiming it's elitism are simply anti-intellectual. I think this is a fundamental misunderstanding of what those calling it elitism really mean. It's not anti-intellectualism by any means, and it's certainly not confusing intellectual qualifications with liberalism. It's not claiming that intellectualism is bad. It's not claiming that intellectual standards should be thrown out. It's not claiming that we should abandon principles for practicality. It's not claiming that intellectualism is responsible for liberalism. What it's claiming is that the intellectual standards we need should be much broader than the elite Constitutional Law specialists think they should be.

The work of the Supreme Court often involves ConLaw, and it involves difficult and crucial questions about ConLaw. Someone appointed to the Supreme Court ought to be competent in such matters. There's no evidence that Miers isn't, however, and all claims to the contrary are impatient and premature. She has some experience in ConLaw, contrary to the misinformation being spread about her. It's unclear how extensive this background is, but she has argued cases in that area, and at least one of them made it to the Supreme Court, who upheld her side of the case without needing to take it to oral arguments. This doesn't tell the senators all they need to know about her competency in that area, but there's a process for figuring that out. If she is incompetent about ConLaw, that will come out at the hearings. It will be obvious. We may not be able to tell where she stands within the realm of competency, but that's fine. If she's competent, she can do the job. That's all senators are supposed to be deciding anyway, according to the usual conservative view, especially given that ConLaw isn't the be all and end all of Supreme Court jurisprudence, despite those who have elitistly declared it to be such.

This is the the seventeenth post in my Theories of Knowledge and Reality series. Follow the link for more on the series and for links to other entries as they appear.

Value differences, our standards for beliefs in general about other matters, and how someone might go about getting as much evidence as possible will play a role in my final evaluation of this sort of argument.

As with some of the other no-evidence argument posts in this series, some of my presentation is influenced by Peter van Inwagen's "It Is Wrong Everywhere, Always, and for Anyone to Believe Anything on Insufficient Evidence" and "Quam Dilecta" (part 1; part 2), which are two different presentations of the same core paper, expanded upon differently for different audiences (I assume). Also, William Alston's "Religious Beliefs and Values" in Faith and Philosophy 18 (2001), 36-49 strongly influenced some of my thoughts on how value differences affect the status of religious beliefs and the denial of religious beliefs.

google search for Arminianism
Keep in mind that this is an AOL search. It was an AOL search searching for someone who had typed out the words 'google', 'search', and 'Arminianism'. Or did someone thing that by adding the word 'google' to an AOL search it somehow could become a Google search?

john roberts wife children are adopted
Well, his children are adopted, not that it's any of your business, but I'm trying to figure out what you mean by saying his wife is adopted. On one reading, any wife is adopted. You're not born anyone's wife. That would be trivial, though. Is there some other possible way of being adopted that his wife could be that wives generally are not?

What Nationality Is Vanessa Williams
I believe you have to be American to be Miss America. Her crown wasn't revoked because of lack of citizenship.

a says b is lying b says c is lying and c says both a and b are lying
When I first saw this, I thought it might be some sort of three-way liar paradox. It turns out this is a consistent sentence structure. Once you know all these things, you can actually figure out who is lying and who is telling the truth.

Zip-Code Lookup

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The USPS has a form on their website where you can type in an address and find the zip code. Stuart Buck notices that the form has a place on it to enter the zip code. Why would anyone want to use such a form if they already know their zip code, right? Actually, I can think of one reason. It gives you the zip+4, which hardly anyone ever knows about their own address, never mind about other people's. It's still redundant, because there's no need for a zip code field if it can look up the zip code without the zip code, but it's not as if no one who could know the zip code to type it in would want to use such a form.

The 92nd Christian Carnival will be held at World of Sven this week. The Christian Carnival is a weekly collection of some of the best posts of the Christian blogosphere. It's open to Christians of Protestant, Orthodox, and Roman Catholic convictions. One of the goals of this carnival is to offer our readers to a broad range of Christian thought. This is a great way to make your writing more well known and perhaps pick up some regular readers. For examples of past carnivals, see Matt Jones's list of previous Christian Carnivals.

To enter is simple. First, your post should be of a Christian nature, but this does not exclude posts that are about home life, politics, or current events from a Christian point of view. Second, please submit only one post dated since the last Christian Carnival (i.e. from last Wednesday through this coming Tuesday).

Then do the following:

parableman.net

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My dad purchased the parableman.net domain for me a while back, and I've finally got the login information to set up forwarding. For now, that domain points here. I need to have the blog itself on the Ektopos server because that's where the blog's software and archives are physically located, but this should make it easier to tell people how to find this blog. I have the option of setting up other stuff at that location and just linking here, but at this point this basically is my primary current website, so I'm just forwarding the root of parableman.net here. It should be easier to remember and easier to type in, and the real address will show up once the page loads.

Former Bush speechwriter Matthew Scully defends Harriet Miers. One paragraph strikes me:

It is true that Harriet Miers, in everything she does, gives high attention to detail. And the trait came in handy with drafts of presidential speeches, in which she routinely exposed weak arguments, bogus statistics and claims inconsistent with previous remarks long forgotten by the rest of us. If one speech declared X "our most urgent domestic priority," and another speech seven months earlier had said it was Y, it would be Harriet Miers alone who noted the contradiction.

That sounds to me as if it's describing exactly the skill that I would say is most important for being a Supreme Court justice, though I wouldn't say the only important one. John Roberts impressed me in his confirmation hearings more because he displayed this sort of skill than for any other reason. My prediction is that those who aren't already closed to immediate observation (which is about half of conservatives at this point) will observe in her hearings that she really does have the sorts of skills that a Supreme Court justice should have. Those closed to observing anything will, of course, not budge from their position even if she outclasses John Roberts' performance. Most of The National Review's editors have declared themselves to be in this category, but I suspect almost everyone in this condition has been that way since her name was first announced, even if they knew nothing about her. Still, I suspect what we will see is that she's light years beyond where they've been putting her, and if she's confirmed I suspect we will also see that she is indeed a judicial conservative. I'm not basing this on my gut or on the president's say-so. I'm basing it on lots of things I've read from people who know her well, including the extremely conservative Chief Justice of Texas' Supreme Court.

Maybe those will turn out not to be a good guide, but they've got to be a lot better than those who keep trying to turn everything said about her into a negative, as if they've got some private animus against her as a person. Most of the writing I've seen from conservatives opposing her has come across that way, and the arguments given for their conclusions seem to me just not to follow from what they present as evidence. It seems rather impatient to be unwilling to wait for hearings before criticizing Bush's choice of her. It seems rash to assume she's not the conservative she very much seems to be (and all supposed evidence to the contrary simply does not mean what people are saying it means, as those defending her have repeatedly pointed out). It's as if those who are saying these things are simply not paying attention. But it's downright obnoxious to call for her to withdraw from consideration or to call the president to withdraw her nomination, when she hasn't even had a chance to respond publicly to the factual errors being passed around about her, never mind the uncivil, even rude, remarks I'm seeing regularly around the blogosophere that don't seem to me to be based in anything we even know. Wait for the hearing. Anything else is unfair. She should have the chance to answer the senators' questions. If, after that, people are still unconvinced, then say what you want. Just consider what comes out of the hearings and don't base it on things you don't know, as just about every critic of her I've read has been doing.

I've run across statements at least a few times now claiming that evangelical biblical scholar Tremper Longman is "weak on inerrancy" or simply not an inerrantist. I've never seen anyone give any evidence of this. I've read all or most of the Introduction to the Old Testament that he did with Raymond Dillard, and there's nothing in there remotely resembling a denial of inerrancy. In fact, he argues that certain positions often viewed as liberal in some way are consistent with inerrancy, which makes me think he clearly is an inerrantist who doesn't want to give up that view. He defends particularly unpopular views among the mainstream, largely because he does seem to be an inerrantist (e.g. an early date for Daniel with a historical basis for everything in the book, which he defends both in the OT Intro and in a Daniel commentary). The Dillard-Longman chapter on Jonah argues that Jonah probably was intended to be taken as a historical account, but it makes it clear that taking it as a parable is just as consistent with inerrancy as taking Jesus' parables as parables is consistent with inerrancy. In his commentaries, he argues carefully why he thinks an inerrantist can think Ecclesiastes and the Song of Songs weren't written by Solomon. So what is it that leads people to question his commitment to inerrancy? Did he change his mind after he wrote all these things, is there something I'm simply not seeing, or are these claims just based on uncareful reading? I'm asking this because I really want to know where people are coming from when they say this about Longman. I really have no idea where this is coming from.

William Rowe's argument for a self-existent being
Um ... William Rowe doesn't think there is a self-existent being. He's an atheist. He thinks the arguments for a self-existent being are unconvincing. He happens to be much more fair to such arguments than virtually any other atheist in the history of philosophy, but he still resists the conclusion (in a way that I think makes him guilty of what he accuses people accepting the argument of illegitimately doing, but that's an issue for a post that is still forthcoming but will probably come soon).

van inwagen's argument about theism
Which one? He discusses all of the most important ones.

how is race not real to Charles Mills
Um ... Mills doesn't deny the reality of race. He just doesn't think it's a biologically grounded category. It's a social category. It's as real as Republicans, liberals, universities, boundary lines, the Supreme Court, and anything else created by social conventions.

what does the p below x mean in christianity
It took someone who doesn't think in Greek but knows Greek to help me figure out what this was referring to. Apparently it's the Chi-Rho symbolism that comes from the first two letters of 'Christos' in Greek. This is just a very strange way to ask the question, even from someone who doesn't know that there's no p or x in that particular symbol.

jonathan edwards uncovered crossing over
Somehow I don't think Jonathan Edwards would be very happy about being confused with John Edward.

I've pointed out numerous times in the past how black conservatives have moved conservatives in a new direction from where white conservatives had gone in the past. The primary difference is that black conservatives seek to remedy problems in the black community through conservative values and policies, or in many cases the removal of certan liberal attitudes and policies. A good example of that is John McWhorter's article last month in the London Sunday Times, arguing that liberals are right that white people are responsible for the fact that poor people in New Orleans are predominantly black, and white people are indeed responsible for the particular kind of poverty black people in New Orleans have been living in.

Yet it would be misleading to stop there. It's not white people per se who are responsible for this. It's the white people who crafted the proposal to expand welfare massively in the 1960s to take black people from jobs and make them dependent on government doles for generations. It's the white people who were convinced by those people that they would be promoting racial harmony and helping out people they felt guilty about. It's the white people who continue to vote for people who promote such policies due to the rhetoric that it's the decent thing to do. I think it's unfair to portray white conservatives as opposing things like welfare simply because they don't care about black people or poor people. But it's certainly evil to portray black conservatives who make this sort of argument that way. What's amazing to me is that McWhorter gets that sort of critique all the time from people who don't even bother to hear what he's saying.

McWhorter's more recent National Review piece on race and the government response to the hurricane is even more telling, and I think more obviously correct. His closing comments on identity politics are apt. I agree with them fully, but it's sort of old hat for him. This is nothing new, and I've talked about it many times. What caught my eye in this piece is the first part. His response to Kanye West's "it's been five days because most of the people are black. George Bush doesn't care about black people" is hilarious, if you can put aside the fact that we're talking about people suffering here (and that West is using these people's suffering merely to score political points):

Christian Carnival XCI

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After having managed the archive list of links to all past Christian Carnivals, Matt Jones finally gets to host one of his own. You can find the 91st Christian Carnival at Random Acts of Verbiage.

James Dobson has announced the details of his conversation with Karl Rove about the Harriet Miers nomination. Most of those details are things that have since been publicly revealed, and Dobson wasn't willing to share them the details of a private conversation without permission. We now know about her evangelical faith, her extremely conservative and pro-life church, her past pro-life donations and organizational aid, and her attempt to get the American Bar Association to abandon its pro-choice stance. There was nothing about how she would vote on particular cases and nothing about her attitude toward Roe v. Wade itself. He doesn't think Rove has even talked to her about that.

What was most interesting to me is the piece of information that hadn't been made public that Rove has now given him permission to reveal. He says there was a short list of potential nominees, and Miers was on it. She wasn't on some lower tier list. But the short list got narrowed down in two ways. One was that Bush really did want a conservative woman on the court, something I would defend from those who think her sex is irrelevant. It's surely irrelevant for most issues coming before the court, merely procedural issues or those flowing directly from a judicial philosophy arrived at in ways not tied much to gender. But there are ways women's voices have been not as prominent that having more women on the Supreme Court can help remedy, and there is some moral motivation to want to increase women's representation in spheres where they are underrepresented, including on the Supreme Court. So I see no reason why Bush shouldn't consider women more strongly. There should be no guarantee of specific seats on the Supreme Court for women, but we know Bush isn't thinking that way. He initially nominated Roberts for O'Connor's spot. If he's only going to get two appointments to the Supreme Court, however, he apparently feels pretty strongly about trying to get one of them to be a woman. I see no problem with that at all.

The other way the list got shortened is from people telling Bush they weren't interested. We knew already that Edith Clement took herself out of the running. It's even possible that Bush asked her before asking Roberts, and she turned him down. After Chief Justice Rehnquist died, she made it public that she wasn't interested in being nominated for the Supreme Court. According to Rove, not a few other top candidates did the same thing, citing the political environment, not wanting to put themselves and their families through the spectacle that would almost certainly arise. If the short list was narrowed down to just women, and most of them took themselves off, with Miers remaining, it explains a good deal more about why Miers was the pick, even if Bush had really wanted people like Priscilla Owen, Edith Jones, or Janice Rogers Brown. This revelation doesn't answer all the questions or respond to all criticisms raised against Bush for nominating Miers, but I think, if you put it together with some of the other arguments I've been making, you end up with very little to say in criticism of Bush, particularly if you keep in mind that there most likely wouldn't have been 50 votes in the Senate to remove the filibuster permanently for judicial nominees and almost certainly wouldn't have been 50 votes in the Senate to confirm someone who has explicitly indicated a desire to overturn Roe v. Wade, which most of the people conservatives have wanted for this appointment have done.

Christian Carnival XC

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I just noticed that I forgot to link to The 90th Christian Carnival at Attention Span, complete with Gilligan's Island theme.

Searches That Caught My Eye

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nazgul mahna-mahna
Well, it's certainly an interesting thought, but what sort of mind could have come up with such a thing?

pronouns all, either, neither, very, both, whole, none
Um ... 'very' is an adverb, and 'whole' is an adjective or noun. They don't stand for nouns and thus aren't pronouns. The others can all be pronouns, though not all of them will always be pronouns (e.g. I'm sure this isn't exhaustive, but 'both', 'either', and 'neither' can be conjunctions, and 'all', 'either', 'neither', and 'both' can be adjectives; in philosophy jargon, 'all' can even be a verb!)

would god object to me working at hooters
Most certainly. But why are you asking a search engine instead of finding someone with a bit of wisdom to help you think it through on your own?

Dispensationalism vs Christianity
Right. That one goes up there with senators vs. politicians, carpenters vs. skilled laborers, pianists vs. musicians, and legal theorists vs. academics.

A Chilling Thought

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I just had an eerie realization about one possible direction the Miers nomination might go in. James Dobson has received private information that he says he probably shouldn't know. Senators Arlen Specter and Patrick Leahy have indicated that they would be willing to call him as a witness at the hearings to get that information out of him. I wonder if that's a good idea. It's clear that this piece of information is reassuring to Dobson that she'll vote the way he wants. It's not at all clear that it's what Specter and Leahy suspect it is. They seem to be thinking of it as some simple statement that she's made in the presence of Rove or someone he knows about how she would vote in particular cases. What's more likely is that it's a general perspective sort of thing that doesn't indicate how she would vote in particular cases but gives a strong inkling that it would be in a very conservative direction. Given what I'm about to say, I really hope it's just that.

What's just possible is that it's some very private piece of information that Senator Specter and Senator Leahy might not want to force out into the open if they knew what it was. It might well be about some past experience she had with abortion, maybe even way back in her youth before her evangelical and political conversions, and her current attitude about it is that she wishes abortion had never been legal for it to have been an option. Or maybe it's about someone very close to her in a way that affected her deeply, but the information doesn't make sense as an explanation for why it might somewhat reassure Dobson unless he had to explain some very personal details. Maybe Rove wasn't supposed to know this piece of information himself but passed it along in the interest of getting some key conservative leaders behind the nomination. I don't even want to think about any such possibilities, but I got chills when I realized that the way Dobson described it could just as easily mean something like this as it could something like what Leahy and Specter have in mind.

If they're wrong, and my fear is correct, then these senators might be about to do something that would undermine the very right to privacy that they so loudly base their view of the legal right to abortion on to begin with. This could be a dangerous direction to push, particularly from pro-choice senators. I hope it's just some general perspective thing that doesn't guarantee a particular vote on any case but makes a certain tendency likely. If it's not, and something very personal like this, then whoever ends up calling Dobson to the stand is really going to regret it.

Chris Matthews is on the air spreading misinformation again. He's claiming that there's no evidence that Saddam Hussein tried to get nuclear material from Africa. His evidence? There was no actual deal between Saddam and any African nation. So how is his conclusion supposed to follow? The fact that no one sold anything doesn't mean no one tried. Joseph Wilson's report confirms what the Bush Administration said, and the 9-11 Commission accepts the conclusion that Saddam tried unsuccessfully to get nuclear material, which is all Bush ever claimed. Reporter after supposedly unbiased reporter continues to pretend otherwise. They won't take Bush's statements for what they said but instead exaggerate those statements so that they amount to what the intelligence won't support.

It's a bit much to assume that this started with lies, but it's gone on so long, with so many people consistently correcting such falsehoods, that it's hard to keep believing that they're innocently spreading misinformation when they say that Saddam never tried to get nuclear material from Africa. This is getting really old, and those who seem to be so concerned about who might be lying when it's Republicans on the hot seat don't seem very worried about their own constantly repeated inaccuracy, one that all the evidence has refuted.

People often uncarefully refer to the originalist view of constitutional interpretation (endorsed most clearly by Justices Scalia and Thomas on the Supreme Court) as strict constructionism. Most careful proponents of this view detest this term, because what it seems to convey is exactly what they don't hold. They don't think that every phrase should e taken in some hyper-literal way. This issue is pretty much parallel to those who claim to take the Bible literally in everything it says but then they don't take Jesus to be a literal door, Jesus' parables to be stories of historical events, and God really to have physical nostrils that flare up when he's angry. Being an inerrantist simply does not mean taking the Bible literally in all it says, and being an originalist about the Constitution does not mean taking every construction in as strict a way as possible. Originalism takes each construction to mean what it would have been understood to mean by an intelligent but ordinary person of the time familiar with legal issues and the background of British law. That doesn't mean taking everything hyper-literally, because such strict constructions will not turn out to match how the ordinary person would have heard it. As I've been thinking about the "advice and consent" clause, this has become quite clear. When you take that clause in a strict constructionist manner, it doesn't mean at all what the original understanding of it would have been.

The 91st Christian Carnival will be held at Matt Jones' Random Acts of Verbiage this week. The Christian Carnival is a weekly collection of some of the best posts of the Christian blogosphere. It's open to Christians of Protestant, Orthodox, and Roman Catholic convictions. One of the goals of this carnival is to offer our readers to a broad range of Christian thought. This is a great way to make your writing more well known and perhaps pick up some regular readers. For examples of past carnivals, see Matt Jones's list of previous Christian Carnivals.

To enter is simple. First, your post should be of a Christian nature, but this does not exclude posts that are about home life, politics, or current events from a Christian point of view. Second, please submit only one post dated since the last Christian Carnival (i.e. from last Wednesday through this coming Tuesday).

Then do the following:

I've been getting some hits from people searching for the biblical statements that have been misinterpreted to be teaching that natural disasters will get worse in the end times, so I wanted to say something to bring out what the biblical perspective on these things is. I'm not going to do my usual extended support for what I'm going to say. I just want to say it. Perhaps those who disagree can challenge me in the comments, and we can continue from there. I don't have the time to say much now, so I'm going to say the few things I want to say.

First, throughout the New Testament the end times began with Jesus' incarnation, death, resurrection, and ascension. We're still in them. Paul consistently refers to the church age as the end times, and it's not because he thought he'd be raptured at any minute. He spoke as if Jesus might return, judge, and restore all things within his lifetime, and he spoke at other times (even earlier times, as it happens) as if it might be a long time, and people like him would die before it takes place. There's a new element of what goes on in the church age, and that's the presence of God's people as a non-nation but what we would call a countercultural working out of the rule of God (what "kingdom of God" literally means) in the ordinary life that goes on. In these end times, those in Christ, i.e. in the community of faith who have God's Spirit dwelling in them both collectively and individually, can detect the evil in humanity and the groaning of all creation for restoration.

Second, the approaching of the end of the end times, i.e. the end of the church age, will be life as normal. Two characteristics of life as normal are given. One is eating, drinking, and making merry. Just as in Noah's time, people thought it was life as normal and made fun of this guy building a boat, non-Christians will consider Christians crazy and believing an illusion, but judgment will come when life as normal gets interrupted suddenly and without warning by the return of the ultimate judge of all humanity. People will be eating, drinking, and being merry. That's normal life. Alongside the evidence of normal life of human behavior is the normal functioning of the fallen world. It will be life as normal. People will engage in wars, and there will be rumors of wars that may not in fact happen. There will be earthquakes and other natural disasters. This is life as usual in the end times, but it's not necessarily a sign that we're even within thousands of years of the return of Christ. We might be, but a close concentration of natural disasters means life is going on as normal. The fallen world is being a fallen world. Since this is held in parallel with the eating, drinking, and being merry it's probably that it's not speaking of a specially concentrated set of natural disasters as a lead-in to the end of the end. It's just giving another example of what things are like in these last days that we're already about two thousand years into.

Third, there are connections between the judgment of God and natural disasters, but we may not know for sure how God might be working through any given event with our limited knowledge, and there's no reason to think that a particular concentration of natural disasters is anything special even if it were true that there is a greater concentration of natural disasters rather than just an overworked media network that now simply reports on these things far more than it did. We all thought there were more shark attacks for some unexplained reason a year or two ago, but it wasn't anything like that. The media had just found a new thing to fill their 24-hour coverage with, and it all of a sudden seemed drastic, when that was a pretty normal year. Given the cyclic nature of hurricanes, with low cycles and high cycles, we have no reason to conclude anything special is going on at all.

There's much more than can be said, but I wanted to say at least these things, and maybe this will lead to some good discussion in the comments if I've left anything out or need to say more to defend any particular claims.

Serenity

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Well, Serenity has been out for a week, and we still haven't seen it. All reports say it's excellent. We need to find a babysitter during a time we can see it. Many a movie has gone by without our seeing it for lack of someone to watch the kids, but this is one we really don't want to miss. For those unfamiliar with the Firefly show, this is a sequel to the sci-fi space western TV show that the studios inexplicably canceled just as it was proving how interesting it would be. It's the brainchild of Joss Whedon, best known for Buffy: the Vampire Slayer and Angel, but he was also behind Titan A.E., Toy Story, and Alien Resurrection, and he got his start with a short stint as a writer on Roseanne fairly early in the show. He's also working on a Wonder Woman movie for 2007.

I can't pretend to like everything he's done. I never could get into Buffy beyond the first season, for instance, and I don't think I would have liked the spinoff at all. I do think Firefly is the best thing from him that I've ever seen, and I'm sure it would have turned into one of my favorite shows if it had really gotten into the main storyline that the movie ends up developing. We watched most of the show in a couple days once we got ahold of the DVDs from a friend. It's only 15 episodes, 3 of which never aired in the syndication run and are only now beginning to show in the SciFi Channel's complete run of the show in the proper order on Friday nights. In the original run, they wouldn't even show the pilot until the series had fully aired (what they were going to air of it, anyway). Whedon really got stiffed on this one, and now he's got his chance to win over the larger audience with the big screen. It seems to be working, since it was the #2 movie of its opening weekend, though it wasn't as much as the studio had been hoping for.

You can watch the first nine minutes of the film here, and that provides the background to the show for new viewers, and you can read reviews by a professional movie critic and scifi author Orson Scott Card for a sense of what's so good about this project, but I suggest just seeing the thing. I'm really looking forward to it, and I hope it does well this second weekend out, which is what it really needs to get the go-ahead for a sequel. It's a great combination of smart writing, both in terms of plot and dialogue, deliberately unusual directing, great action deliberately in the mold of Westerns, and a plausible account of what things might be like 500 years in the future. Earth has been left behind, and a new solar system has been terraformed, with a core of civilized and wealthy planets and a frontier of Wild West style worlds on the outskirts. Remnants of various earth cultures are scattered throughout, including Chinese outbursts now and then by average Joe sorts of characters, and the real story that's only somewhat developed in the short is a conspiracy theme with the Alliance government that seems to come full head in the movie. The show is funny and serious in a way that's very hard to pull off, and the comedy, action, and grand themes disguised by very human relationships will almost certainly all remain a focus on the big screen, but now we get more expensive special effects and what looks like a really cool development in one of the main characters that has been heavily anticipated in the show.

Accusation by Searching

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Why is paganism considered evil when Christians do the same stuff?
I'm trying to figure out why it wouldn't be evil just because Christians do it. Christians do evil things. The Bible even insists that any Christian who claims not to do evil things is lying.

Why christians want to outlaw birth control
What kind of paranoid conspiracy theorist helped inclulcate you in the sort of worldview that would conclude something like this? I've never even heard of someone wanting to outlaw birth control. There are some Christians who believe birth control is always or usually wrong. That doesn't lead them to try to outlaw it. There are some Christians who object to government money being spent to give birth control to kids, on the grounds that they find such a practice to be an endorsement of sex among minors. That doesn't lead them to outlaw birth control.

white evangelicals are racists
I have to hope that my labors in putting together my thoughts on such issues can help such an imbalanced individual see that the world isn't as black and white as those who hate evangelicals would like to think. It's kind of ironic that this is probably from exactly the sort of person who would accuse evangelicals of thinking too much in black and white categories.

Bush support white separatism
Yeah, you wish. Take a look at his cabinet, for frak's sake. The racial separatists consider him a race-mixer. While we're at it, have you seen his brother's kids?

Misrepresented by CNN

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I have a history of being misrepresented by media outlets. The student newspaper at Brown University came to a Christian function, and the reporter asked me my opinion about a video that was shown that had something to do with a Christian view on sex. I said I agreed with most of the things in the video. She then asked me if I also thought people might feel excluded or offended by things in it, and I said that some people would be, but that wasn't a reason not to show it. She then quoted me, with actual quotation marks, as saying something very similar to, "I agree with most of what the video said, but I think someone who doesn't believe such things would be offended by it." That's clearly misrepresentation. It makes it sound as if the comment I wanted going on record was not my emphasis, and the one she wanted put into my mouth was my main point.

The Syracuse University student newspaper did something similarly awful. They published a letter to the editor that I wrote. I was complaining that they had criticized the Christian organizations on campus for not going to a Jerry Falwell event about 20 miles north of Syracuse. I wrote that the Christian organizations on campus are non-political and include a number of liberals as well as many who would call themselves part of the religious right, and I pointed out that Jerry Falwell is a fringe element that most evangelicals are embarassed by regarding an event called Jesus Week on campus. I had defended the Christian organizations in my letter. They put a headline over my letter making it sound as if I thought the groups I was defending misunderstood Jesus. My whole point in One of my two main points in writing the letter was to defend them. They'd given a ridiculous criticism of some groups, and I pointed out how ridiculous those criticisms were. It didn't help that they'd also removed a few crucial sentences from my letter. [See the comment below for more detail. I didn't want to make the post any longer by adding the whole story, and I didn't want to delete what I had already said here because of I'm not entirely sure they didn't do something similar with the Falwell letter too.]

Well, it's happened again, and this time it's no student newspaper. It's CNN/Netscape News. I've been misrepresented by the big media misrepresenters. Their website has highlighted my criticism of attacks on the Harriet Miers nomination. Judging by their headline ("Bush's Base is Foaming at the Mouth"), they seemed to have liked the fact that I referred to a certain portion of Bush's base as "foaming at the mouth", but they seem to want to make it appear as if I'm talking about the whole of Bush's base. I would have thought it obvious that there's a foaming at the mouth component of the right wing and a foaming at the mouth portion of the left wing, and all I said is that the one on the right has been saying some pretty dumb things about this nomination. It doesn't follow that I think Bush's base is foaming at the mouth. After all, I'm part of that base, and I don't think I'm foaming at the mouth. I appreciate the link from a major news outlet. Actually, I was shocked to see them giving any attention to my blog. I'm not even offended by this, which wasn't true of the other two instances. I'm much happier for the link than I am regretful of how it summarizes my post. Still, it's unfortunate that the headline linking to my post would misrepresent what I'm saying.

Update: Their link to me is showing up again in this story today. The headline for it is the same. Also, I want to correct what I said above about the Syracuse University letter-publishing incident. I had remembered it as the wrong letter. See my comment below.

Elitism and Cronyism

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One element I didn't really get into in my criticism of attacks on the Harriet Miers nomination was the cronyism charge. It seemed rather elitist to me to suggest that she was unqualified simply because she didn't have academic or judicial experience, but I didn't have any carefully formulated thoughts. Beldar has more explicitly connected elitism and the cronyism charge. I pretty much agree with everything he says, except maybe the part about metaphysics being bad. I can't very well say something like that about my own line of work. I was going to write up a long post saying some of the things Beldar says, but Beldar says it better. I'm becoming more and more convinced that anyone criticizing this nomination on the grounds of cronyism has no argument or is simply making some sort of error either in what constitues cronyism or in the facts about Miers.

I suggest Eugene Volokh's much healthier (I mean healthier than the elitist ones Beldar criticizes) list of qualifications for a Supreme Court Justice, and I think President Bush is in a better position to judge whether Harriet Myers has many of those qualities than anyone else.

I do not agree with the president on everything, though I've often defended some of his less popular statements and policies, against liberals who think his views are too conservative and against conservatives who think his policies are simply not conservative. It should never be said that I defend him no matter what he does. I happen to agree with him more than any liberal or moderate would, and I also happen to agree with him more than most conservatives would. That's not because I agree with whatever he would say but because I simply think he has the right views on many things that I don't think either major party gets quite as right. That being said, I wanted to disagree with something he did that I suspect most people I know would agree with him on. Last Friday, he made a statement criticizing Bill Bennett's infamous comments Wednesday morning about abortion and its social effects. I don't think the president was right in declaring Bennett's comments "not appropriate". I've seen two complaints against what Bennett said, one completely stupid and the other based on a genuine but misguided worry, indeed a logical fallacy. This second sort of issue comes in two forms, the more prominent and more misguided one and the less prominent and a little more reasonable one that I think ultimately is still not a good reason to criticize Bennett.

What Bennett said was pretty clear and straightforward. He was responding to a caller who thought you could argue against abortion on social consequences grounds. In particular, the caller wanted to say that abortion is wrong because if we didn't have it we'd have more taxpayers, and the GNP would be higher. Society would be more productive. Regardless of whether such a claim is true, if abortion is wrong it's for much deeper reasons than that. Bennett wanted to distinguish between the mere consequences of an action and what makes it wrong, thus siding squarely on the non-consequentialist side of ethical theory (which is the right view). He wanted to make this point by showing that an action can have good consequences without being a good action. So he picked an example that most everyone would consider horrendous with consequences that, independent of other factors, would be good. Since the original example was just like that, his point would be made, and it would be a very effective way of making the point. So he chose the example of aborting all black babies, which no one in their right mind would consider a good thing, not only for the horrific element of killing a whole generation of kids (presumably without consent of either parent). What's even worse is that it singles out just black babies to kill, which is verging in the direction of genocide. Yet surely such an action would reduce crime, Bennett points out. This is thus a very good example of the sort of argument Bennett wanted to make his point. He could have made it raceless and just had every fetus being killed regardless of race, but that wouldn't have been as bad a case, and he wanted it to be very bad.

Wired News has a fascinating article on face transplants. It contains an interesting statement. Some doctors have suggested that the novelty of the surgery and the lack of certainty on what risks even are make informed consent impossible. I commented on Jonathan Ichikawa's post about this, pointing this out, wondering what they might have meant by that, and his response struck me as equally unusual. He thinks this is an attempt to make a philosophical argument out of an ick factor. Is that really what's going on? What does this statement about informed consent amount to? I have some thoughts, but I really wanted to see what people think about this without my suggesting anything.

Hah!

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It seems as if the foaming at the mouth elements in Bush's base have all come out as a result of the Harriet Miers nomination for Sandra Day O'Connor's spot on the Supreme Court. Bush has betrayed his base. He's nominated another Souter. He's broken his promise to nominate someone in the mold of Scalia and Thomas. We've waited ten years for this opportunity, and he's flubbed it. It goes on and on. What gets me the most about this moronic behavior is that we know next to nothing about her, and no one is presenting any evidence to back this nonsense up. It's as if not knowing what someone believes amounts to knowing that they believe the opposite of what you would have them believe. Why is the right now imitating Dianne Feinstein, who did exactly that with John Roberts? Not being assured of what a nominee will do is not equivalent to being assured that a nominee will do what you don't want.

And when did the right all of a sudden give up the originalist judicial philosophy and begin caring more about results than process? After all, wanting an explicit affirmation from a nominee about how she will vote on these cases is exactly what someone who cares about judicial process should not want. It would require her to recuse herself on the very issues you want assurance on, which defeats the purpose. So much for consevatives occupying the higher ground position on such matters. Let's hope the Senate has more of a moral backbone to their conservative judicial views, because the most vocal conservatives on the internet sure don't.

What's been the strangest about all this is the wild speculation and distribution of misinformation. There's the assumption that a single woman who has been single all her life (but dated men throughout her life) is a lesbian. There's her being on the board of an organization called Exodus Ministry, which ministers to ex-convicts helping them assimilate back into society, which her detractors have already wanted to confuse with Exodus Ministries, an organization seeking to help gay people deal in a biblical way with the homosexual tendencies that they as Christians believe to be contrary to God's creational purpose. People have connected her past as a Southern Democrat as evidence that she's not a real conservative, even though almost all of the strongest Southern Democrats eventually became Republicans when they realized that there was no hope for social conservatism in the Democratic party. Well, here are some factors worth considering if you are a conservative somehow immaturely disillusioned because of a nominee you know virtually nothing about.

Ron Moore, who runs the redux of Battlestar Galactica that appears on the SciFi Channel, has a blog that he doesn't often update. His latest post was over two months ago, and I've been wanting to comment on it since then but haven't had the chance to put my thoughts together. (I'm glad I waited, because the mid-season finale just over a week ago gave me a couple more elements to talk about.) He often responds to viewer comments in his blog entries, and one comment he answers struck me in how it exemplifies our evaluation of people's characters. I don't think the fact that this is fiction makes a difference. We do this sort of thing in real life too. I think Moore's response is interesting, because he seems to be insisting on a view about moral evaluation that no one really holds. I hope that will be clear once I get the dialectic going. Here is the comment he's responding to:

I'm curious as to what characters we are supposed to like at this point in the second season. Adama, Roslin, the XO, and Apollo have all been disappointments. Adama has been a non-factor due to his injury but is at the root of the martial law problem along with Roslin since they begin working at cross purposes. Roslin has turned into this Jim Jones/David Koresh type figure and added a drug addiction to it which I find off putting. The XO can't make a good decision (other than to go back to Kobol) and has turned into more of an alcoholic than ever. He's let his wife manipulate him for worse as well. Apollo seems like an ingrateful whelp with a chip on his shoulder, going against both the military and his father. Starbuck hasn't been much better, going against Adama and then tooling around Caprica reliving her old life and playing ball games. Which character has shown any redeeming values this season?

Christian Carnival XC Plug

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The 90th Christian Carnival will be held at Attention Span this week. The Christian Carnival is a weekly collection of some of the best posts of the Christian blogosphere. It's open to Christians of Protestant, Orthodox, and Roman Catholic convictions. One of the goals of this carnival is to offer our readers to a broad range of Christian thought. This is a great way to make your writing more well known and perhaps pick up some regular readers. For examples of past carnivals, see Matt Jones's list of previous Christian Carnivals.

To enter is simple. First, your post should be of a Christian nature, but this does not exclude posts that are about home life, politics, or current events from a Christian point of view. Second, please submit only one post dated since the last Christian Carnival (i.e. from last Wednesday through this coming Tuesday).

Then do the following:

Gnu at Wildebeest's Wardrobe has an excellent discussion of the problems with presuppositionalism. He doesn't explain all his terms as clearly as I would, because he's cutting this from a discussion that involves people who would know the terms. I think all his points are spot on, though.

Comment Issue

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Until further notice (actually beginning last night), commenting is disabled. The spammers have been attacking the Ektopos server, and the host is trying to find a better solution. I hadn't been able to log in to make this known until now. I still can't leave comments, so that must not be resolved yet.

Update: Comments appear to be back as of 12:30 pm EST. You now need to enter a security code, and TypeKey seems to be enabled. We previously had a link to log in, but it didn't work before.

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