.comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

Tuesday, July 24, 2007


Men at work

Ed Morrissey at "Captain's Quarters" pointed to this article in the Washington Post about Outsourcing the Picket Line"
To anyone even vaguely familiar with the American labor movement and and its history and rhetoric, this has to be supremely ironic.

Monday, July 23, 2007


War stories

I have to wonder what Senator Reid is up to. Twice in the past month, on the Immigration Reform bill, and then on the recent Iraq withdrawal bill, he's tried to take a thin majority and ram it through the opposition.
On the bill which would have demanded a US withdrawal from Iraq beginning in four months, he had a majority, which would normally be enough to pass a bill. But he also might have expected a Republican filibuster. He might then have also expected President Bush to veto the measure, which would then require an even bigger majority to override. That might have suggested that trying to ram a bill through wouldn't work. It leaves me wondering whether he is really that blind to political realities, or whether he has a different kind of game in mind.
And all this comes at a time when news coming out of Iraq (although that's mixed and contradictory enough) indicates to be that the "surge" and the counterinsurgent strategy that has gone along with it appears to be working.
But it appears that in the US Congress, the important war is the one between the Republican party and the Democratic party. The war in Iraq is only important to the degree that it can serve partisan purposes.

The New Republic recently published an article entitled "Shock Troops" describing three incidents which took place in Iraq, one of an incident were a facially disfigured female contractor was hazed by soldiers, one where a mass grave of children were uncovered and some grisly mockery took place, and one where the driver of an armored vehicle was using it to run over dogs. Almost immediately, current and former military personnel began denouncing it as fiction, and describing in detail what was wrong with it. Now, while I have little doubt that there are some soldiers who would do these kinds of things if they could get away with it, and some who have done things nearly as bad. Juvenile immaturity is not confined to the military...I've seen LDS missionaries do some really stupid things which would look just as bad. But the question is whether these incidents actually took place as described, or were fabricated or embellished.
As someone said, if the story is true, the New Republic gets away with a bad odor, but some soldier is in serious trouble. If it's false, the opposite's the case. The public expects news publications to be able to distinguish fact from fiction. Not that there's anything wrong with writing fiction. Provided you label it as fiction, people are willing to pay for stories that no sane person ought to believe in their entirety. (Ask J.K. Rowling) . But to repeatedly publish fiction and call it fact, or to leave it up to the reader to decide means that before long, no one will believe or trust anything you say, true or false.

And that leads into another question that's been on my mind. I've seen the question of bias often comes up, in writing of history, and journalism. Given that it's almost impossible to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, and that every writer selects from the facts available those what seem most important, what is the difference between a truthful, accurate history or news story, and pure partisan polemics?

Monday, July 16, 2007



At one time I had intentions to make this blog pretty much daily, but I have another blog going, a web site that I'm growing, and now an on-line forum to manage, so my time is a bit split.
On top of that, I was getting a bit disgusted with current events. Reid, Pelosi, and almost the entire Democratic party are still apparently convinced that in Iraq, we (the US) are the real enemy and should get out as fast as we can and leave the Iraqis to clean up, whether they can hold off their neighbors while their government is still so wobbly or not. Reid refused to answer what he thought would happen to the Iraqis once our troops left, beyond claiming that we weren't wanted. A leader of one of the insurgent groups that was fighting us a couple of years ago has decided that, unwelcome foreign infidels though we may be, al-Qaeda is worse. His forces have been willing to cooperate in helping clean al-Qaeda out before we go. Fair enough, I'd say. I don't suppose that the "we are evil" crowd in our government...or is that just the Bush Administration and everyone who supports it is evil? is paying any attention to the Iranian arms smugglers our soldiers have been uncovering.
One of the reason's there's not much progress on the political front in Iraq is that al-Quaeda or some other unrelated group that calls itself al-Qaeda, swears allegiance to Osama bin Ladin, and acts like al-Qaeda, has been doing its utmost (can't call it best) to stir unrest, create as much havoc, and kill as many Americans and their collaborators as possible. In the meantime, the leader of Iraq's principal opposition party, who runs his own private army, has been running back and forth between Iraq and Iran. Anyone who is sure his motives are purely patriotic might also believe me if I claimed I had some beachfront property in Arizona for sale.
This is the same Iran which is so busy building nuclear power plants to make nuclear weapons to confront the great Satan (That's the US, in case anyone has forgotten, and the Iranians are a lot closer to building nuclear weapons than the late unlamented Saddam Hussein ever was) that they have neglected to build oil refineries and in spite of sitting on top of vast oil fields, have to import gasoline and had to put down riots over a shortage. It would almost be comical if it weren't so deadly.

But this is all beside the point of what I intended to talk about. There is a Wall Street Journal editorial that mentions the big money some authors of atheist books have been raking in, as well as the weakness of their arguments. I'm afraid that it won't be too many more years before those who are persuaded by their argument that anyone who believes in God is a bloodthirsty terrorist start taking up arms to "Defend their rights", instead of just hiring the ACLU to do it. I'm also seeing signs of a somewhat of a curious alliance of liberal Democrats with Muslim groups. Is it perhaps, that Christianity is seen as so perniciously oppressive that Islam (or any other alternative to Christianity) has to be deliberately favored, just as accused criminals, minorities, feminists, and more recently, homosexuals have been?

I'm also a bit saddened by comments on the debate on Beliefnet.com between Orson Scott Card and Dr. Albert Mohler. From the beginning, this debate has generated more heat than light. Although I contributed a couple of posts, which quickly sank into the great swamp, I decided that anything else I could say had already been said, didn't need to be said, or wouldn't be heard.
Such evangelicals as Mohler endeavor to create a wide and mostly artificial gulf between their own doctrine and that of the Mormons, rather than acknowledging that their similarities are greater than their differences. But they're facing the wrong enemy. Widespread atheism and hostility to all Biblical tradition is the enemy of both evangelical and Latter-Day Saint, and Latter day Saints, with a claim to modern revelation that reaffirms the truth of the Bible have a better shield against atheist arguments.
This puts these evangelicals in something of the position of fighting their best allies across a deep gulf that they themselves have dug while they ignore the enemy at their unprotected back. Besides irritation that many of those those who claim expertise on Mormon belief have evidently never read the Book of Mormon at all, I'm mostly sorry for them. Fortunately, there are at least some evangelicals who recognize that if one says he believes in Christ and acts as if he believed it, he must be some sort of Christian. We can get along with those a lot more easily than we can with those who call us liars and hypocrites.

Monday, July 09, 2007



I was going to write something more or less patriotic for the 4th of July, but nothing quite sounded right, and I've been swept up in other things.

My impression of Islam has generally been more favorable than not, but lately it's been taking a beating. Before I express any solid opinions about it, I need do what I would encourage critics of Mormonism to do...Read the book; don't rely on someone else's opinion. I have been following a series, Blogging the Koran, but haven't got around to reading it for myself.
I can't believe that all Muslims are potential terrorists; many of them have to be living good lives. Yet, there are others who by emphasising different passages in the same book find themselves justifying terror. And then I read things like this report from WorldNetDaily about some of the more radical preaching of some Muslims and I wonder.
There is commentary on this same blog that compares Joseph Smith to Mohammed, apparently written by people who have never actually read the Book of Mormon or anything else Joseph Smith wrote. There was an earlier series, on Blogging the Bible, written by a Jew who had never actually read it (The Old Testament, that is). I wonder about the possibility of Blogging the Book of Mormon. Comments, anyone?

Monday, July 02, 2007


Left Behind

I admit it. I've always been suspicious of the No Child Left Behind Act. Although I've been more or less avoiding schools like the plague for years (except for the libraries, nearly a second home) , I do have an interest in education. The problem is that although I love learning, I've come to hate school, and although I enjoy teaching, I prefer it when the people I am teaching want to learn. I have no interest in packing 25 or more students all the same age into a classroom and try to teach them all the same thing at the same time, regardless of whether they are prepared or whether they have any interest in the subject. My interest in education has taken a different turn entirely. With the insistence from all quarters on having a Bachelor's degree before I am allowed to teach and the suspicion I faced last time I dared to poke my amateur nose into the sheltered cloisters of secondary education, I'm not sure that I would be even allowed to try. So, I watch the education debate from the sidelines. It's hard to predict what the next coming political debate is going to be, but if the NCLBA is coming up a renewal it will be something I want to watch this time around.

Sunday, July 01, 2007


The right to be wrong

The more I read debates and arguments, political, religions, artistic, and so forth, the more I find that some people are absolutely sure of themselves and tend to defend their opinions to the bitter end. Others quietly reverse themselves, hoping no one will notice and without ever admitting that they were mistaken in the first place.

The fact is that we are all born ignorant, and each of us has experiences that shape our opinions. In the course of time, we will all of us acquire beliefs that are incorrect, foolish, and dead wrong, thought we may be entirely confident that we are right.

I've said it elsewhere, so I'll repeat it here. I've been wrong before, and I will almost certainly be wrong again. I'm probably just as certainly wrong now in some things and just don't know it yet. Being wrong is not the same as being evil. At the same time, I respect the right of other people to be mistaken. It happens to the best of us. I do not feel obligated to cram my truth down someone else's unwilling throat.

The humility, the flexibility, to admit that we are ignorant and have been mistaken is necessary for to real learning to occur, and so is the willingness to be persuaded by facts or reason.

This doesn't mean that I change my mind every time someone disagrees with me. I've also found the ability to say "I could be wrong, but I don't think I am, and here is why", to be very useful. I can usually find multiple reasons to belief things I am reasonably certain about. There are certain fundamental I've weighed carefully. I've already heard most of the arguments and found them flawed. But in other things, I've found that the ability to weigh apparently contradictory evidence and form tentative opinions that might be changed on the basis of more evidence to be useful as well.

So, while I don't like to found out I have been mistaken, I've often found it useful to both claim and to grant the right to be wrong.

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?