Archive for December, 2010

Obsession with security

It seems to me that the Republicans could gain a lot of popularity by pushing a bill to abolish the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). Obama has already made it fairly clear that he has no intention of curbing the TSA abuses, so he would be likely to veto such a bill, anyway. Thus, even if some of the Republicans really think that security officials should get to look at people naked, they won’t actually be undermining their position to vote for the bill. It wouldn’t actually change anything, because it would get vetoed, but it would still make them look good.

Who knows, maybe they will try it. But I don’t have a huge amount of faith in the brainpower of congressional Republicans.

Overall, I think some “conservatives” really need to get over this obsession with “national security.” It is impossible to set up a society that foils all casualties in a war against Islamist terrorism. For example, you can give your TSA agents the authority to make women take out their breast implants, but any terrorist who would go to the trouble of recruiting a woman to plant explosive chemicals in her breast implants is going to find a way to blow people up. They will just pick an easier target than an airplane. What is our obsession with protecting airplanes, anyway? Even if we make it virtually impossible to take down airplanes, all it takes to kill some people is a gun in a shopping center, or a bomb in an office building, or whatever. We can look at everyone around us naked all day long, and we still won’t be truly secure.

Updated Christmas analysis

I used to think Christmas was sort of a pointless holiday. I considered it just a completely artificial, commercialized holiday whose only purpose was to get people to spend money on things they didn’t need. And of course, I would also frequently hear the charge that Christmas was actually just a pagan holiday, and that Christians merely co-opted the date to try to make their religion more user-friendly for the masses. Hence, it seemed that we were basically celebrating a pagan holiday with an artificial Christmas message getting people to waste money while listening to annoying secular Christmas songs that monopolize the radio.

That said, I still think the commercialization aspect is pretty crummy. Consider the whole gift-giving thing, for example. Chances are, if you get me a gift, I will not get you one back. What is the point of getting a gift if you just have to give one back?

But I digress. The main point of this post is to demonstrate that commercialization aside, Christmas is probably not an artificial holiday. Specificially, Christmas is not merely a Christianized pagan celebration. Rather, Glenn Chatfield has specifically uncovered proof from the Bible that Jesus was indeed probably born sometime in December:

In Luke 1:5 and Luke 1:8, we are told that Zacharias was a priest of the course of Abia and that he fulfilled his priestly duties in the order of his course.  To understand the importance of the course of Abia and its bearing on the date of John the Baptist’s conception, it is necessary to turn to I Chronicles 24:1-10.  This passage describes how a thousand years before Christ, King David established the courses for priestly service in the coming temple.  Twenty-four courses were established and numbered by drawing lots – twelve courses for sanctuary service and twelve for the government of the house of God.
Members of each course would serve during a month starting with the Hebrew month of Nisan.  (Because of the way the Hebrew calendar fluctuates, the month Nisan can start anytime between early March and early April.)   The sons of Abijah (the Old Testament spelling for Abia) were in the eighth course.  Priests of Abia like Zacharias would, therefore, have ministered for a time during the eighth month which in some years corresponds to our month of October.  Zacharias would have returned home when his days of service were accomplished and John the Baptist would have been conceived sometime between October 10th and the end of the month.
After conception the scripture says that Elizabeth hid herself for five months.  Then in the sixth month of her pregnancy (which depending on the year could have been between March 10 and April 10) the angel announced to the Virgin Mary that the Lord Jesus would be conceived  in her womb by the Holy Ghost.  If this took place on or about April 1 a “normal” gestation period of 270 days would have then had the Lord Jesus due on December 25.
So anyway, I thought that was interesting. Christmas still isn’t really my favorite holiday or anything, and I still think the excess gift-giving is economically inefficient. But I figure if we can have holidays based off the birthdays of people like Martin Luther King Jr., we certainly may as well have one for Jesus, too. Altogether, Merry Christmas, and long live the king!

Leftist religion

Via Facebook, I just noticed a rather inane segment of the Colbert Report. In this segment, Stephen Colbert tried to persuade his audience that Jesus actually supported socialism and leftist politics. But while that sort of nonsense comes out fairly frequently, a more interesting development actually occurred when Colbert specifically admitted that God the Father did not approve of socialism.

I have said before that modern Leftism is basically a reincarnation of ancient Gnosticism. (Gnosticism, of course, was itself just a pseudo-Christian version of paganism.) The gnostics specifically argued that Jesus and the Old Testament God were separate, completely distinct entities who were actually antagonistic toward each other. That is, they believed that the Old Testament God was evil and mean, but that Jesus was superior and good. In particular, the gnostics had very little respect for the Old Testament. For example, one fairly moderate gnostic named Marcion actually created his own Bible for his followers — by excluding the entire Old Testament and numerous portions of the New Testament.

But anyway, I did appreciate Colbert’s measure of intellectual honesty here. Unlike many Leftist “Christians,” Colbert at least admitted that the bulk of the Bible is clearly anti-socialist. Despite this admission, however, he tried to argue that Jesus was a socialist because Jesus actually disagreed with the rest of the Bible. Colbert then alluded to various quotations of Jesus which advocate giving to charity, in order to bolster his argument that Jesus disagreed with God on economics and agreed with forcefully redistributing wealth from each according to his ability and to each according to his need. To Colbert, the Old Testament God was mean and evil, whereas Jesus was nice and socialist and good.

Overall, the argument was of course absurd, and it was intended to be funny. But then, it really was not much more absurd than Leftist Christianity in general.

As a sidenote, I have heard that Stephen Colbert is actually at least nominally Jewish — although that could be wrong.

Time to switch Bibles

Wow.

Wow. I just noticed that Biblegateway.com has apparently switched over to the new, “improved” New International Version of the Bible. Apparently, the main improvements all involve turning masculine pronouns into gender-neutral, p.c. language. Because, you know, the Bible just wasn’t nearly clear enough before, and this is just way better.

Revelation 3:20 Comparison

NIV (1984)
Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.

NIV (2011)
Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.

The idiots. I think some people truly deserve to burn in hell for this kind of bad grammar.

And evidently, the company is planning to discontinue all the original NIV Bibles real soon, and then replace them with this new, IMPROVED version. I mean, really, way go — destroying both God’s Word and the English language in one fell swoop! You really have to hand it to them. Congratulations on this wonderful accomplishment, NIV-2011.

Expensive lawyers

I had to go to criminal court earlier this week. My client and I waited around from around 9 a.m. when court started to around 4 p.m. Unfortunately, this criminal court was so heavily booked that when the end of the day rolled around, the judge realized that it would be unrealistic to expect to get through all the cases. As a result, he apologized to everyone and then postponed a number of the cases until a later date, including mine.

There are a few different lessons we could perhaps learn from this episode, but I think one of them is that the government arrests too many people. This situation I experienced is hardly the only time I have shown up in court and seen things extremely crowded. It is not uncommon to see a courtroom so crowded that people can barely even find anywhere to sit down. When society gets to the point where courts can barely even handle all the cases thrown at them by the police, we should question whether we are criminalizing too much of life itself.

I have heard that upwards of ninety percent of criminal convictions are the result of guilty pleas and various plea bargains. So what this means is that, even when barely any of our cases actually involve real jury trials, the courts still are overloaded. To me, this situation indicates a problem.

Practically speaking, this ineffecient courtroom setup also hampers the economy by jacking up the price of legal fees. If a lawyer expects to have to spend five or more hours just coming to court for one case (even if he only argues in front of the judge for maybe twenty minutes), he will generally raise his prices to compensate for his loss of time. Lawyers have to study a long time, and are a valuable and expensive resource. Courts are a valuable resource as well. By arresting so many people and overcrowding the courts, we are forcing people to squander valuable resources and to waste money doing so.

Such are the costs of the government’s overregulation of life.


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