Friday, July 25, 2008
Embedding disabled- click on the above link and enjoy =)
Monday, July 21, 2008
Dinesh D'Souza vs. Christopher Hitchens: My Response
This morning I read the beginnings of an article about a debate between Hitchens and D'Souza. I stopped halfway through because I did not want to hear Dr. D'Souza's response. Rather, I wanted to place myself in the debate in his shoes. It seems the intelligent Dr. Hitchens came up with an argument D'Souza had a hard time with. Here is the section of the article that I read:
In my debate with atheist Christopher Hitchens in New York last October he raised a point that I did not know how to answer. So I employed an old debating strategy: I ignored it and answered other issues. But Hitchens' argument bothered me.
Here's what Hitchens said. Homo sapiens has been on the planet for a long time, let's say 100,000 years. Apparently for 95,000 years God sat idly by, watching and perhaps enjoying man's horrible condition. After all, cave-man's plight was a miserable one: infant mortality, brutal massacres, horrible toothaches, and an early death. Evidently God didn't really care.
Then, a few thousand years ago, God said, "It's time to get involved." Even so God did not intervene in one of the civilized parts of the world. He didn't bother with China or Egypt or India. Rather, he decided to get his message to a group of nomadic people in the middle of nowhere. It took another thousand years or more for this message to get to places like India and China.
Here is the thrust of Hitchens' point: God seems to have been napping for 98 percent of human history, finally getting his act together only for the most recent 2 percent? What kind of a bizarre God acts like this?
An excellent point, which I concede to Hitchens. However, in his arguments he omits the following ideas:
1. If God is our creator, and indeed the author of all life, and if our attempt to understand Him with our finite, mortal, dimly-lit perspective of things on this side of eternity is lacking, then is it not God's standards which should be applied to us and not the other way around? Some were born with your intelligence, Dr. Hitchens; some have been born mentally retarded. Since when should you apply your own standards of "fairness" to God? Intelligence and wisdom are two different things, sir.
2. You mention "infant mortality, brutal massacres, horrible toothaches, and an early death." You imply that God was not there, or did not care because these things took place then. In some places (the United States,) even worse infant mortality exists today. Does this mean that God did not care? I would take quite the opposite approach. God was there in the gas chambers when the Jews were massacred by the Nazi's in WWII. God was there at the Twin Towers on 9/11/2001, and in the Pentagon when those people died. Scientific methodology makes a poor meter stick for measuring spiritual truth. How can one measure the essence of a man's heart? So then, you seek to apply this meter stick to God's motivations? Here is an anvil, Dr. Hitchens. Please use it to measure an exact quantity of a liter of water.
3. Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. You claim that God has not been present for 98% of human history. God either did not care for or has not been present in China, Egypt or India. Dr. Hitchens, here is an idea that is too hot for you to handle, and its a simple one, too. So simple, even Forrest Gump could understand it. *Everywhere there is life, it is evidence of the existence and presence of God, for God is the author of life.* If you even thought to acknowledge this, it would undermine your entire life philosophy, something that you do not want to do, lest you reap the consequences.
4. Why do you question God's existance, Dr. Hitchens? What is *your* motivation? I can't say for sure, but here is a quote from you: "Apparently for 95,000 years God sat idly by, watching and perhaps enjoying man's horrible condition." It seems to me you are bitter, sir. Bitter and angry and resentful. It seems to me that you use your intelligence to justify your bitterness. In this, I can only shake my head in wonder. God deliver us all from bitterness, and the vanity of self-justification.
I am reminded of Psalm 2- here it is:
1 Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing?
2 The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD, and against his anointed, saying,
3 Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us.
4 He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the LORD shall have them in derision.
5 Then shall he speak unto them in his wrath, and vex them in his sore displeasure.
6 Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion.
7 I will declare the decree: the LORD hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee.
8 Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession.
9 Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel.
10 Be wise now therefore, O ye kings: be instructed, ye judges of the earth.
11 Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling.
12 Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him.
Seems like this is not the first time these questions have been asked....
Monday, July 7, 2008
This morning I watched an informal discussion on ABC news video between Senator Lieberman (I) Connecticut and Senator Reed (D) Rhode Island having a discussion moderated by George Stephanopolis about foreign policy. They both addressed questions of Obama's flip flopping on the Iraq issue in order to attract centrist voters. (Obama had previously said during the debates that he would call the troops home immediately regardless of conditions on the ground; he is now mitigating his stance.) They went back and forth on it a while and I could see that both sides had a point.
One thing, however stuck out in my mind. Senator Reed said this about Al Queda at the very end of the interview, and I would like to call him on it- I wish Lieberman had, but they were out of time. Reed said that Al Queda was not waiting to plan an attack. My point is this- yes they are! Thats *exactly* what they are doing. They are smart enough to know, and so are you, that if an attack occurred between now and the elections, McCain would be swept into office in a landslide. They would *much* rather have the Jimmy Carter clone who favors unilateral negotiations regardless of any freeze of Iran's nuclear weapons program, which is what Europe has spent the last 2 years working on. If this were to occur, it would open yet another round of "talks" allowing Iran to complete their nuclear weapons program.
Now, Iran is not stupid. They would not launch nuclear missiles at Israel and insure their annihilation. They would NOT, however, be above giving one or more nuclear weapons to a fanatical group to use then holding their innocent, clean hands up to the world saying, "We don't know who did this." Are you beginning to see the writing on the wall?
The US is in a catch-22 though. If Israel attacks Iran's nuclear facilities, the border with Iraq and Iraq itself will be the site of a retaliatory attack by Iran. The other middle eastern countries would not like to see a nuclear Iran (although they would like to have nuclear weapons themselves, like Syria tried to obtain from North Korea.)
Thankfully, we are in God's hands. I am going to add preventing a nuclear holocaust to my prayers. It seems that we are closer to this than we have been since the cold war. The thought of a nuclear strike by terrorists... leaves me chilled.
I went inside to get some plastic bags to wrap it in for disposal. When I went back out to take care of the poor little kittens corpse, I saw it was still breathing, struggling to take ragged, wet breaths once every 15 seconds. What do I do? I felt I had no choice. I carefully bundled the small, broken animal on top of the plastic bags and took it in my truck for a trip to the emergency animal hospital. It continued to breath, but when I was a little more than halfway to the hospital, it curled up oddly, shook its hind legs a bit and died, there on the passenger seat.
I turned around and came home, with a sad feeling in my heart. I called my friend Mary to talk to her about it, and she was very helpful and supportive to me. I prayed again, and asked the little animal to forgive me and went to bed.
This morning I asked the patron saint of animals, Saint Francis of Assisi, to look after the little kitten who died.
In retrospect, as I think about the terrific struggle this small creature had, trying to cling to life, it reminds me of the price Jesus paid, how difficult his struggle must have been, to lay his life down purposefully, in obedience to God, on our behalf. It is one thing to say, yes, Jesus died for us. It is quite another to see firsthand, this innocent creature, blood flowing from its helpless body, matting its fur, and imparting and understanding that suffering and more to Christ, God's son.
Dear Jesus, Please forgive me for taking your suffering for granted. Forgive me for taking your obedience for granted. Thank you for showing me a little of what you went through, and forgive me for it taking the life of an innocent one in order for you to get my attention. Let this lesson stay with me, and not be forgotten. Amen.
Saturday, July 5, 2008
[Above: Obama celebrates as his policy of placing national security on the back burner (in favor of individual freedoms for terrorists) results in the inevitable consequences]
OK, folks, the wheels are turning again this morning. I am no fan of government- basically, where power exists, it is my opinion that those who are attracted to such positions (politics) are the ones who are most likely to abuse it. I read a bullet point this morning detailing a list of grievances from the left. These positions are liberal ones, and as the junior senator from Illinois has the most liberal voting record in Congress (to the left of Ted Kennedy even) it is his platform (represented by the following list) that I object to.
While I don't consider myself to be a Republican, I do consider myself to be a moderate conservative. I wrote about Obama last June. (http://houtchblog.blogspot.com/2007/06/obama-does-not-get-it.html) He has recently been courting Christian evangelicals. More about this later. As you go through the list, you can find many similarities between the conditions found on the list and those that were present in pre-WWII Germany. (amateur historianwise-speaking, hehe)
1. Powerful and continuing nationalism
It is a good thing to question ones leaders. Blind obedience to a party or person (with the exception of Jesus, who will *never* disappoint) opens one up to being misled. I find this objection to be an excuse for blaming the world's ills on America. It is an excuse for America-hating, basically. Now, does the US government have a lot to answer for? Yes! (especially in regard to the UFO cover up.) But it is not to blame for every social ill that leftists (lets go ahead and call them what they are- commies) see fit to lay at the feet of our nation. "We need something to rant about so we can be like we were in the '60's! Death to pigs!"
2. Distain for the recognition of human rights
This is a thinly-veiled reference to the prisoners in Guantanamo. And they are right about one thing- they deserve justice, not limbo. Bush failed here in not ordering the army to begin military court marshals within 6 months after they had arrived. These prisoners deserve to be released, to have sentences of hard labor, or death. Those arguing the above point would quickly change their minds should the prisoners be released into their neighborhoods. It's an argument of convenience, as long as they have to pay no personal cost themselves.
3. Identification of enemies/scapegoats as a unifying cause
It's the EEEVIL Muslims! THEY are the cause of our ills! No, its select groups of Muslims, such as Osama Bin Laden and those who support terror to achieve their goals. That's not to say that most Muslims would oppose Sharia law across the face of the earth. They wouldn't. It's the method of implementation that differentiates them.
4. Supremacy of the military
Since WHEN has the military had an effect on national politics? OH YES! It was those pesky military personnel who wanted to have their absentee ballots counted in the 2000 election in Florida. Yes, the ones that the Democratic party hired lawyers for in order to keep those ballots from counting. Forgive me, I had completely forgotten. When someone is laying their life on the line for their country in a foreign land, THEIR votes MOST DEFINITELY should not count, especially if it means our candidate does not get elected.
5. Rampant sexism
This one I absolutely agree with. There IS rampant sexism in America. Especially in regard to divorce, where women hold *all* the cards and they know it. They get the kids, they get the house, they get spousal support and child support, and the husband gets nothing but bills and the loss of being involved with his children. Oh, joy. It's almost the exact opposite of what occurs in Muslim countries, but in a legal viewpoint rather than both a legal and social one.
6. Controlled mass media
The media just LOVES Bush. Yup! They simply adore him. And they are controlled by the government to say JUST WHAT Bush wants them to say. They know that if they say *anything* bad about Bush or his administration, they will be locked up and the station shut down. The mass media sure is controlled all right. But by whom?
7. Obsession with national security
Preventing another 9/11 should be the last thing on our minds. Never mind that the terrorism on our soil has been prevented for 7 years. National security should be our lowest priority, until we get attacked again. Never mind about the Al Queda cells that were found operating within the United States and Great Britain. Never mind about the bombings on the London subway and the one in Spain. Al Queda loves Spain since they elected a government that pulled their troops out. We should do anything that will make Al Queda happy, so they wont hurt us. I have another word for this: Jimmy Carter diplomacy.
8. Religion and government are intertwined
Lets have a national ballot to put the ACLU's agenda to the voters. Lets make it law to remove every mention of God from the public workplace, lest someone get "offended." Remove all crosses from military graveyards. Remove all mention of God from our currency. Remove and decommission all military chaplains from their posts. All at taxpayer expense I might add. You KNOW the results of what this national referendum would be. That's why the ACLU does not want their agenda put to a national referendum. They would rather make changes to our society through the back door of the courts.
9. Corporate power is protected
So what shall we do about this? Force every big company from the territory of our country through oppressive tax codes! MAKE Microsoft move to Canada! (which almost happened) SHOVE General Motors and GE down to Mexico! FORCE all those evil, powerful, rich bigwigs to leave! That will show them! Oh, yes, remind me to enroll in an Economics 101 class when I get the chance.... By the way, what happened to my job?
10. Labor power is suppressed
Every industry should be unionized. Power to the people! We can force industry to pay us what is our due. And while we are at it, we can flush our industry down the drain because with higher prices due to higher wages, our trade deficit will make us slaves to countries overseas. I can't wait to be completely and utterly dependent on China for all my consumer goods (which is closer to reality than I am comfortable with.) What is China doing with all our American dollars? Oh, yes! Upgrading and expanding their military in ungodly proportions with US submarine and nuclear secrets. Thanks, President Clinton!
11. Distain for intellectuals and the arts
Whatever would I do without knowing that my tax dollars were used to pay for a $40,000 piece of ... art, that consisted of a jeep covered with hay? Or that my tax dollars were used to sponsor an artwork that featured the Virgin Mary covered with elephant dung? Everyone knows that intellectuals that are professors in universities across our nation are the most accepting, most non-judgmental, most non-discriminatory people in our nation, especially when it comes to viewpoints that they do not share. Really! Just ask Ben Stein!
12. Obsession with crime and punishment
Criminals are beautiful people. They should be loved and trusted, not put into prison. They just had some bad breaks. Like robbing people at gunpoint, stealing things that don't belong to them, selling addicting illegal drugs, shaking merchants down for "protection money" and making other people's lives nightmares through identity theft. They are just like us, only different. They wont do that again if we let them go, I promise.
13. Rampant cronyism and corruption
This, I agree with. The only thing about it is that the Democrats are just as bad about it as the Republicans. My answer? 1. More issues should be placed on national ballots. 2. Completely eliminate "earmarks." 3. Term limits. 4. Allot TV time by candidates as they do in England, not facilitated by campaign contributions or special interest groups.
14. Fraudulent elections
Hanging chads? Do we REALLY want to go there again? I know, lets TAX people and businesses for the pollution they cause and the energy they consume! Yeah, THATS the answer!
Thanks to Roger Mexico and Stranger on the Town of Fark.com for the bullet points and photoshopped image of Obama
Friday, July 4, 2008
There was a game I was involved with several years ago, called City of Heroes. In it, one can make a Superhero or Supervillain, complete with costume and super powers and save or terrorize the city at will, which in my mind seems kind of fun. There are several classes of hero one can choose which basically break down into several different roles. The tanker type, which is good at resisting damage (Superman,) the quick, agile, tactician which is good at dealing out damage (Batman,) the "blaster" who is fragile but does good damage (Green Lantern,) and various support types who heal or defend. You may notice that all the heroes I listed were from DC and not Marvel. There's a reason for that.
You see, Marvel got a kink in their backside because of people actually having fun with this game. It seems that they were upset because people could reproduce the image, likeness, name or powers of some of their superheroes. Because WE own the rights to these creations, WE are going to hire lawyers to sue the pants off you. How nice of you, Marvel. Someone actually thinks enough of your characters to emulate them in an online superhero game, and you threaten to shut the thing down completely for all users, whether they are emulating your heroes or not, by shutting down the business with your lawsuit.
And how many creations does Marvel own? Bunches and bunches of them. Their website says they have over 5,000 characters. And NO ONE is allowed to emulate any of them, because some genius in the 60's came up with an idea for a certain super power, a certain costume, a certain name, they own it. Uh huh. But the story does not stop there, dear reader, oh no.
Marvel hired lawyers who took the case to court. They presented evidence of "their" heroes being used in the game. But guess what- it was the lawyers themselves who had created the accounts for the expressed purpose of recreating these heroes so that the case could be brought to trial. It is against official NCSoft policy to copy existing heroes. There is no way these lawyers could have used this evidence without letting Marvel know exactly what they were doing. So, as far as I am concerned, Marvel is complicit, and I throw them in with the lawyers as scum sucking toadstools who are worth no more than the price they intended to exact from the gaming community.
NCSoft eventually settled the lawsuit out of court, and thankfully it did not put them out of business. But its the nature of the thing- its not about how much they asked, its about how they went about it.
So I have decided to vote with my wallet in our free enterprise system. I will not view any movies based on Marvel characters nor will I buy the DVDs when they come out. I ceased being a fan when I heard about this incident. I urge others to do the same. Perhaps Marvel will learn someday not to bite the hand that feeds it- I kind of doubt it though.
cc: Marvel Public Relations
PS After writing this story, I discovered that Marvel was also involved in using lawyers to threaten a simple pre-screening of one of their movies (which was approved by Paramount and the theater mentioned, I might add.) http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/04/29/oh-my-god/
Perhaps they can officially affiliate themselves with Scientology and then they can begin suing anyone who even mentions their name. That would "suit" them well, it seems.