Tuesday, July 30, 2002
which 50's stereotype are you?
Well, except for the sweaters bit...
I do like Baroque music, but I somehow doubt that my grandparents listened to Ska, Christian Rock, Gin Blossoms, Cake, and techno.
Philosopher: St. Thomas Aquinas
Colossal Death Robot: Optimus Prime
Monty Python Character: Sir Galahad the Pure
Past Life: Nun
The pattern continues...
(link via Carolina)
After around a month of his entire dorm smelling like cannabis, HokiePundit has finally given in and tried Pot. It's not very good, either.
Monday, July 29, 2002
In the wake of today's news, I'd like to suggest the following chalked-on message for our next Daisy Cutter: "Inheritance Tax"
Expect a long theological post later today or early tomorrow.
UPDATE: Possibly tomorrow afternoon. I fell asleep after work today without meaning to.
Sunday, July 28, 2002
Saturday, July 27, 2002
That's right, I met Team Samizdata. Who wants to touch me? I said who wants to £(%@# touch me?!? HokiePundit now knows
Now, you may ask, why would I possibly be meeting with the Samizdatistas (try using that word it in your next college paper)? Well, as the observant reader will gather, I'm in London. As the observant reader may also notice, Natalie Solent and I have permalinks to each other, and so I found out from her that the Libertarian Alliance, the group to which most of the members belong, was having its meeting in London soon. Thus, with my usual derring-do, I decided to embark on a magical mystery tour of great expectations (it's 6:30 in the morning: I'm allowed to write like this). However, having misplaced my street atlas, I had to try and find my way from the subway station to Brian Micklethwait's house, with him being kind enough to put up with three cell phone calls that were along the lines of:
Me: "I'm at the corner of _____ and _____."
Brian: "I haven't a clue where you are. Go back to the tube stop and try again."
Eventually, I found it.
In any case, Antoine Clark spoke on Boris Vian, post-WWII French pacifistic apolitical composer and jazz musician. Very arcane, but interesting. Afterwards, all sorts of discussions were held, all sorts of interesting opinions being shared. Unfortunately, I'm not as up on my British politics as I need to be to truly debate in a forum like that, but I still learned a fair amount. Along with the Samizdata people, I met Chris Cooper of Blogosophical Investigations, which was nice. Afterwards, I walked back towards home with Perry de Havilland, since he lives only a short distance from where I'm staying. We had a nice talk on a range of subject, including (but not limited to) airplanes, abortion, the American Revolution, the right of the state to tax, why the British Libertarians don't care about ever getting elected, blogging, and bloggers. Very illuminating. Posts on Christian duty vs. libertarianism in regards to taxation, political participation, and abortion may appear in this space before too long.
In any case, I learned a lot and had a lot of fun. Vive les anglais!
Friday, July 26, 2002
Check out the Libertarian International icon at Samizdata. The first time I saw it, it looked as though it said "UBER-ARIAN." Now, some points (and I promise you, I do have them). First, why haven't any of the speling-chalanged members of the Left attacked them for this apparently pro-Third Reich sentiment? Libertarians are the uber-Arians! Run for your lives!
Alternatively, the Samizdatans could be expressing their belief that Jesus Christ was merely a prophet, and not the Son of God in the Trinitarian view. If this is the case, I expect lively discussion from the Catacombs portion of Blogistan, and am willing to do my part.
Lastly, it could refer to one of the major groups to be Arian before the schism was crushed by the Catholics: the Vandals (no, not the Left, the Germanic tribe). This could be an acknowledgement by Team Samizdata that their free-market, Godlessly capitalistic ways are similar to that of barbarian hordes, searching for plunder and booty (especially booty).
I will leave it to my educated and observant readers to decide which is the most likely scenario.
Thursday, July 25, 2002
Phear me, Ben. I'z 2 1337 4 J00z!!!
Meanwhile, I have no clue who anyone else in the league is, though I suspect Josh Claybourn, Kevin Holtsberry, and of course Ben Domenech. Plus the pastor from Roanoke who's been kind enough to email me a few times. My team should be easy enough to spot.
I hate the Italians
They suck at soccer
They keep me up late at night
Shut your filthy gobs
Send them back to Italy
Deport them post-haste
In case you were wondering, this dorm is infested with about 60 Italians who come here in two-week shifts, stay up until all hours speaking at huge volume levels, suspiciously come into my room for no reason, and smoke pot like it was going out of style. I want them deported, excommunicated, or their guts stomped. I am displeased.
Tuesday, July 23, 2002
Sunday, July 21, 2002
I am utterly in shock. I've considered it a great opportunity, privilege, and honor to visit Anglican cathedrals while I'm over here. I've visited National Cathedral before, but never for services. Since the Episcopal Church, USA and the Church of England are both members of the Anglican Communion, I haven't had much difficulty at all, and in fact would be hard-pressed to find a church around here that wasn't Anglican or Roman Catholic. I've been to Westminster Abbey and the cathedrals at Canterbury, St. Paul's, Edinburgh, Southwark, St. Philip's (RC) in Brussels, and today, St. Alban's. The cathedral itself was very pretty, and the fact that it was built only just after the Norman conquest only heightened my happiness. There were three male priests decked out as is customary in England, and everyone was very reverent and polite. After singing the first hymn, the first selection from the Bible was read, and was a passage from the Book of Wisdom. This jarred me, since I didn't recall that one, but figured that perhaps Proverbs or Ecclesiastes was called that over here, as the Song of Solomon is often called the Song of Songs in various traditions. Afterwards, I went to the cathedral shop, picked up a King James version, and searched in vain for the Book of Wisdom. I then looked through several other versions, with the same result. Looking around and seeing that another prominent book on the shelves was "How to Pray with Icons," it occurred to me that something was amiss. The cathedral certainly was Anglican and Church of England, but that reading wasn't, and Anglicans don't usually pray with icons. When I got home, I immediately went online and searched for "Book of Wisdom," since it did ring a bell. Sure enough, the Catholic Encyclopedia came to my aid, and my suspicions were confirmed when I saw that this book was from the Apocrypha, which Protestants and Anglicans do not recognize.
I'm feeling betrayed by my own church and churches I'm in communion with. We should not have female or openly gay priests. In fact, we should not have priests at all, but merely ministers. People marrying someone other than their former spouse after being divorced in cases other than those resulting from adultery should not be allowed to get married in church. Sex before marriage is a sin. Apostolic succession, while not essential, is a core belief of the Anglican Communion, and is thus something that ought to be preserved. By forming a common communion with the Lutheran Church, which does not have apostolic succession, this is diluted. I won't debate the political views of the ECUSA and CofE, so long as they don't interfere with worship, but I do disagree with them.
I'm once again coming to a point where I'm not sure what to do. I don't know if my church has become too corrupted to be saved, and if a pilgrimmage rather than a purification is in order. I told one of my teachers, who happens to be a Presbyterian minister, what I thought of my denomination, and he suggested that I try and stay and purify from within. In the past, disgusted by many actions it had taken, I stopped going to Episcopal services and attended Methodist services instead, without ever actually resigning my Episcopalian membership. I have theological disagreements of one magnitude or another with each denomination I've examined, and I will say that one of the major reasons I'm still an Anglican is because I'm most used to it. I know how many Roman Catholics feel, betrayed by the church which they've trusted to help them. It does help to remember that the church isn't what saves you, but faith in Christ and, by extension, the Trinity. The church is merely a means to advance understanding and knowledge, and not an end in and of itself. However, when a church does not fulfill its stated and obligatory goal, there must be a change, either from within or from without.
UPDATE: Mark Butterworth seems to think that I'm overreacting, and points out that the Book of Wisdom has a lot of, well, wisdom. I, for my part, don't deny that this is possible, having never read it. However, a Bible reading is supposed to be from the Bible. The Anglican Communion regards the Book of Wisdom as noncanonical, and thus not part of the Bible. What shocked me was that a minister would so callously read from something that he knew his own church didn't accept. While it's not quite on the scale of reading from the Koran or Book of Mormon, there's still something wrong about reading it as if it were part of the Anglican Bible. Would Roman Catholics be pleased if their local priests began occasionally quoting from books considered noncanonical by the Vatican but accepted by the Russian Orthodox or Coptic churches, or if they began quoting from the Gnostic gospels? There may well be wisdom in there as well, but it doesn't mean that those books were "God-breathed." It's not a question of whether the reading was edifying, but whether it was misrepresented as being Biblical when it shouldn't have been, at least according to the Anglican tradition. Of course, when barely half of Anglican ministers believe in the Virgin Birth and there are some who do not believe in the Resurrection or even in God, it's not surprising that they'll ignore what they're supposed to do in favor of what they want to do.
Friday, July 19, 2002
HokiePundit is actually agreeing with the environmentalists on an issue and siding against the Military-Industrial Complex!
See, one reason conservatives oppose things like recycling and wind and solar power is because they tend to not work, be expensive, and generally suck. Also, we're terrified that the country will turn tie-dyed overnight and will reek of Mary Jane, though you don't hear this argument very much in debate. Moving on, wind power tends to make the countryside ugly without producing an awful lot. Britain's a very pretty country, which I've often compared to Virginia, and it would be a shame to hippy-ize it so wind power can go from 1/2% to 1% of national energy production. However, it occurred to someone that these things didn't have to be built on land. In fact, they could be built on the sea! They wouldn't really be that much of an eyesore, since water tends to look more or less the same wherever you go, and since wind over water is a lot stronger than over land, they could generate a lot more energy. The money to build these bad boys would come from private companies, who would all get rich by tapping an unused and renewable resource. Britain could use nuclear and wind power and tell the Arabs where to stick their precious oil.
However, the Ministry of Defense says that these wind farms will interfere with their radar and may pose a hazard to low-flying RAF planes. First, I don't really buy the radar argument. These things aren't moving, and any benefit a fast jet could gain by moving along these as a screen would be utterly minimal. Furthermore, most of the turbines would be build in the Irish Sea between Wales and Manchester. Unless the Irish start launching airstrikes, I don't think the Brits have much to fear. If push came to shove, I'm sure you could mount radar on these giant pinwheels and float everyone's boat at once. As for the planes, please. These things aren't even moving! The Harrier is an excellent jet, and I'm confident that it can outmaneuver even the wiliest wind turbine.
*Children, I don't ever want to have to do this again, so I expect the right-wing parties to start thinking of these good ideas and not get left having to pick sides in a Left vs. Left battle.
I'd like to talk about fashion for a moment. FCUK fashion. It's all over the place here. It was vaguely funny the first time, and even vestigially cute the second. Alas, even the presence of Helen of Troy herself in a skimpy French Connection UK shirt these days would be annoying. Maybe it's because I don't like the French, but I never really was big into this whole "FCUK" thing. In about a month, I predict that not a single person will be wearing them except for those poor, behind-the-times saps, whilst everyone else will be embarassed about it all and never bring it up in polite company.
This all brings me extremely tangentally to another point: fashion in Britain reminds me an awful lot of fashion in 1980s America. I know they're supposed to be the trendsetters and all, but weren't tight-ish jeans, jean jackets, tight low-quality t-shirts, pink shirts, zip-up sweatshirts, and indoor soccer shoes already done? Of course, they could just be getting prematurely retro on us, and in five years we'll all wear retro-80s clothes. I somehow doubt it, though. More likely, I see a phase of Brits wearing massive BOSS jeans, FUBU jackets, and clocks around their necks, along with a period of ratty plaid overshirts and torn jeans. Then those on the Scepter'd Isle who haven't already pierced every square inch of their body will do so, don trenchcoats, wear black lipstick, and get depressed a lot. I would say that they'd whiten their faces, but if they got any paler, we might just have some sort of core overload and create a Mutant Super-race of Vampiric Cricketeers who would slowly, methodically, and in the most difficult way possible, take over the world. Again, I for one will welcome our new insect overlords. Alternatively, the universe could quite simply collapse, leaving God in a pretty embarassing position. Whichever.
(Search for "frog")
I was reading The Count of Monte Cristo today, and it occurred to me that not everything since the French Revolution has sucked, despite what otherwise-lovely and talented Lee Ann "No Deep-Linking" Morawski thought on July 5th. I mean, I dislike the French as much as any red-blooded American, but I'm willing to be honest and say that they've got one or two things going for them. One or two.
-Alexandre Dumas, The Three Musketeers, The Man in the Iron Mask, The Count of Monte Cristo
-Antoine de Saint-Exupery, The Little Prince
-Maurice Ravel, Bolero
-Camille Saint-Saens, Danse Bacchanale, Concertpiece
-Paul Dukas, Villanelle
-Jules and Gedeon Naudet, 9/11
That appears to be it, though I have the feeling that I've left out someone. In any case, 200 years of existence should provide more than just seven people who've contributed to culture. I would count Sartre's Huis Clos as well since I liked it, but since I don't like Sartre otherwise, I'll skip it.
Home is where the heart is, but I do enjoy being here. Basically, I really like England, but I love Virginia. I definitely want to come back, and next time stay on the outskirts of London instead of the very center in Kensington where everything's expensive and no one's British. I was talking with a co-worker today about how Americans and British honor treaties as they're written, while Europeans utterly disregard them, and I mentioned that I'm wary of anyone who doesn't speak English as their first language. She looked at me in shock for a second, so I had to explain myself. I pointed out that English-speaking people all tend to have a fairly similar mindset. If we sign a treaty, we assume that there's an agreement and that it should be honored. Many other people think a treaty is just an agreement to stop fighting for the present, and that it's not meant to be, you know, actually followed or anything stupid like that. I won't say that this is a worse way of thinking, since it does have certain merits, but it's certainly very different from our own. If I lived in France, Greece, Pakistan, or wherever for a while, I might learn how to properly interpret this "national idiom" and adjust my behavior accordingly. As I'm really only familiar with American and British culture, they're the only ones I understand. Differences don't even have to be malicious for there to be harm. If an Anglo-Australo-American was talking to a European, you'd notice something very odd. The Anglo would start out about a handshake's-distance away from the European, who would then begin to slowly close to about a foot and a half away. The Anglo would back up, and the European would follow, usually ending only with the termination of the conversation or the Anglo hitting a wall. Eventually, the Anglo thinks the European is being inconsiderate and pushy, while the European thinks that the Anglo is being rude and paranoid.
Joyful Christian's been keeping a watch on the Spanish carrier, which appears yet to get involved in the actions against Morocco. My personal view is that they're setting up some sort of Pearl Harbor scenario, except with about 12 VSTOL planes instead of hundreds of dive- and torpedo-bombers with fighter escort. And no battleships.
Meanwhile, Mark Butterworth has a very Alexandrian solution to the crisis.
Me: "Who's going to the pub tonight?"
Manager: "[lists five or six people]"
Me: "What about Tamara?"
Manager: "No, we're going today."
Me: (emphasizing) "No, Tamara"
Manager: (slowly) "We're going to-day. Tomorrow's no good."
Me: "Tah-mah-rah. Chick. From Surrey."
Manager: "Oh, Tamara. Oh, don't be worried about it, mate."
Me: (utterly confused) "Huh? She told me that's where she's from."
Manager: "She's from Dorchester. I thought you said sorry."
Me: "Dorchester? She told me Surrey."
Manager: "Dorchester's in Surrey."
Me: "Ah. And to think, I haven't even been drinking."
Thursday, July 18, 2002
There was a strike by the London Metro workers today, meaning I had to walk to work today, which took about as look as it takes to ride. I didn't really care. It meant that there weren't all that many people at the museum today, so we closed precisely on time and hit the pubs, where I defended America, said that Israel would conquer Arabia if it felt like it, and declared that I voted for Bush. Unfortunately, the girl I kinda-sorta like wasn't able to make it, probably because of the strike. Bugger. Apparently I'm not as subtle as I thought, since it was pointed out to me that I liked her. In response, I said that with only 2 1/2 weeks left, it would be irresponsible and ungentlemanly of me to try and start anything other than hanging out, to which astonished "you mean you're not going to try to shag her?" looks greeted me. Silly country.
I've been reading The Count of Monte Cristo lately, and have been making a lot of progress. However, at 425 pages so far, I'm not quite halfway through the book yet, which isn't all that bad. Meanwhile, I've been getting a little upset when the homosexuals at the museum just stand and smile at me for several minutes on end. It pisses me off, though I'm too polite to say so.
I've received some kind links lately, which I'm too tired to properly reply to right now, though I will in the near future. Working at the Natural History Museum drains me of all brain-power, since I'm concentrating hard for several hours per day. At the Handel museum, I'm brain-dead through lack of exertion by the end of the day. C'est la vie.
In conclusion: America rules, Europe can bite us, Bush choking on a pretzel is the kind of thing that happens to people, Britain's nice but certainly not home, I never seem to have luck with the ladies due to an evil alliance of Evangelical belief, striving to be a gentleman, lack of guts, and lack of time, everything in England can be described as either "dodgy" or "brilliant," all the Scottish girls I've seen have been unattractive, all the Welsh people I've met have been gay, I've met a straight girl named Gay, most Brits don't know their own history, and Maggie Thatcher is loathed by a lot of Britain.
Wednesday, July 17, 2002
My entire suite reeks of pot. And in response to your question, the answer is no.
What Was Your PastLife?
Philosopher: St. Thomas Aquinas
Colossal Death Robot: Optimus Prime
Monty Python Character: Sir Galahad the Pure
Past Life: Nun
Are we beginning to notice a pattern?
Scroll down to "Our Civilization in Decine" and prepare to have your mind boggled.
Tuesday, July 16, 2002
We are not politicians, nor are we generals. We hold no power to dispatch diplomats to negotiate; we can send no troops to defend those who choose to risk their lives in the cause of freedom.
What power we have is in our words, and in our thoughts. And it is that strength which we offer to the people of Iran on this day.
Across the diverse and often contentious world of weblogs, each of us has chosen to put aside our differences and come together today to declare our unanimity on the following simple principles:
- That the people of Iran are allies of free men and women everywhere in the world, and deserve to live under a government of their own choosing, which respects their own personal liberties
- That the current Iranian regime has failed to create a free and prosperous society, and attempts to mask its own failures by repression and tyranny
We do not presume to know what is best for the people of Iran, but we are firm in our conviction that the policies of the current government stand in the way of the Iranians ability to make those choices for themselves.
And so we urge our own governments to turn their attention to Iran. The leaders and diplomats of the world's democracies must be clear in their opposition to the repressive actions of the current Iranian regime, but even more importantly, must be clear in their support for the aspirations of the Iranian people.
And to the people of Iran, we say: You are not alone. We see your demonstrations in the streets; we hear of your newspapers falling to censorship; and we watch with anticipation as you join the community of the Internet in greater and greater numbers. Our hopes are with you in your struggle for freedom. We cannot and will not presume to tell you the correct path to freedom; that is for you to choose. But we look forward to the day when we can welcome your nation into the community of free societies of the world, for we know with deepest certainty that such a day will come.
I scored 399%/85.44% on the Archie McPhee Nerd Test, putting me equal with Martin Roth.
Monday, July 15, 2002
Unfortunately, I have to disagree to some extent. I do agree that religion, or lack thereof, shouldn't be an issue when elected officials are making decisions, but that doesn't mean that the rest of us have to ignore it. I'm going to get some unhappy responses for this, but I wouldn't vote for someone I knew to be an atheist. I honestly believe that without at least an openness to the possibility of God, a person doesn't have the resources necessary to lead our country. I would vote for an agnostic, but never an atheist. In a like vein, I would never vote for someone who I knew not to be Pro-Life. Senator John Warner voted not to outlaw partial-birth abortions, and thus he has lost my vote in the next election. A vote is an endorsement, and I there are some things I will never endorse. There are some things that I disagree with that aren't deal-breakers (campaign finance reform, for instance), and some things that would prevent me from voting for an otherwise perfect candidate. I'm aware that politics is the art of compromise, and that I may risk having someone who disagrees with me on both the minor and the major issues, but that's life. It's late, and I'm still turning this over, but for now that's where I stand.
I've been in London for two months now, and I haven't met a single member of the estimable Samizdata team! Time to activate Plan Obsessed Stalker!
Okay, the Unrequited Links zone in my Land o' Links is for those people who haven't linked back to me. It's nothing personal, but it does mean that everyone who actually has permalinked me gets put higher and thus gains valuable publicity. The categories are pretty much just arranged in the order I thought of them, other than that one section.
A week or so ago, I realized that Natalie Solent wasn't permalinking me, and so I dumped her right down to the sheol that is Unrequited Links. However, after an all-night campaign of insomnia, I got back from work to find that I've been permalinked by the lovely and talented Ms. Solent. She is now back in the "Plunder n' Wimmins" category where she rightfully belongs.
Kids, take heed. If you permalink me and I find out about it, Santa might just have a spot on HokiePundit's blogroll for you. Of course, if you try and play me with a one-time plug, beware. Remember that in the East, when a man is sentenced to death, he is sent to a place from which he cannot escape, never knowing when the assassin will strike. Expect it most when you expect it least.
Jeff Goldstein over at Protein Wisdom's been raising hell again. Be sure to check out Steve Skubinna's and Walter in Denver's comments. It seems that some people don't get the humor...
Incidentally, if Steve Skubinna happens to read this, you need to get yourself a blog. This guy's had excellent comments in a bunch of blogs I've visited, and it's time for him to strike out on his own.
David MSC is a-movin', and has even been kind enough to leave us an Indiana Jones-inspired map, not to mention an extremely dense version of the 45-question thingy.
Girl: "Yes, but tell me: do you love me?"
Questioner: "Did you have sex with that intern?"
Bill Clinton/Gary Condit: "42"
Lucy: "aw, 42"
Teacher: "What's six times nine?"
HokiePundit: "Was this inevitable?"
Three things that scare me:
-calling up a girl for the first time/asking for her number in the first place
-hanging out with people I don't know
-making a fool out of myself in front of or failing to protect those I'm responsible for
Three things that make me laugh:
-Brian Lee, aka "Mr. Hawk"
-being my post-ironic self, complete with the internal Gorillaz/Snatch/Ska internal soundtrack
Three things I love:
-My family and friends
-Stewart's Orange Cream soda
Three things I hate:
-rudeness and cruelty
Three things I don't understand:
-the Green Party
-what a "systems" major does
Three things on my desk:
-The Count of Monte Cristo
Three facts about me at this moment:
-I'm listening to Reel Big Fish's Beer, one of my favorite songs
-I didn't go to sleep last night
-I'm unhappy that I haven't found anyone who shares my love of history and science, and especially no one with those interests who's also an Evangelical
Three facts about me in general:
-You don't know me. This is my own fault, of course, for being too shy and arrogant.
-I'm usually pretty upbeat, but with occasional short periods of extreme funk
-I'm willing to admit that Hey Mickey is one of my favorite songs
Three things to do before I die:
-write a book
-help cause someone to be converted to Christianity
-win an award or come in first place in something
Three things I can do:
-play French horn
-give good advice, so I'm told
-listen without judging
Three things I can't do:
-sing/dance very well
-fluttertongue, which is a skill used in playing the horn, and isn't something dirty
Three famous people I'd like to meet:
-St. Thomas Aquinas
-St. Francis of Asissi
Three songs I like:
-Beer, by Reel Big Fish
-Sunday Bloody Sunday, by U2
-Carry On Wayward Son, by Kansas
Three things that turn me on about another person:
Three movies I watch all the time:
-The Razor's Edge (1984 version)
-The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
Three things I say the most:
-"How are you?" in an Ah-nuld accent from Kindergarten Cop
-"Outstanding!" in a Sgt. Hartmann accent from Full Metal Jacket
(list via Dave Tepper)
p.s. In case you were somehow on another planet, such as Stavromula Beta, 42 is the Answer to Life, the Universe, and Everything.
Sunday, July 14, 2002
If you're a guy, you need to have seen all the following films before you begin your course of studies:
The Empire Strikes Back
Return of the Jedi
Raiders of the Lost Ark
Full Metal Jacket
South Park: Bigger, Longer, and Uncut
Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels
Meet the Parents
I will accept submissions from my loyal readers. I'll also take them from people who've only been here once and never plan to return. I'm not picky.
I'm told that there is a wall of separation between church and state, meaning that we can't say things like "under God" or "in God we trust" on officially-official things done by our government. I think this is stupid, but I'm often wrong. In any case, it seems to me that if this is going to be a wall rather than a one-way door, we need to clarify things. The government should no longer have the right to get any money whatsoever from religious groups. Anything advocated by a religion as dogma should be barred from state-supported schools. I suppose if some denomination really wanted to remove the teaching of the theory of evolution from classrooms, they could "take one for the team" and put it in their official doctrines. Priests should be immune to prosecution for anything done on church property. Churches should be able to form binding agreements with other nations, no matter what the Constitution says. If atheists want to try that old sleight-of-hand that is the "religion or non-religion" phrase, I suppose we could also ban interactions between state and non-church as well.
As you can see, this is silly, and more importantly, stupid. There never was meant to be any such wall. The only indication that there might be one was from a letter by Thomas Jefferson, the same man who set aside land for Catholic schools in Ohio. On the same day Congress approved the First Amendment, they also appointed a chaplain for themselves. These people were thus either monumentally hypocritical, stupid beyond belief, or didn't believe that there was a wall between church and state. If they were as hypocritical or stupid as they would have to have been, then why is what they say even worth the paper its written on? For more on this, check out my letter to the editor from a few months ago.
"That's it, man, game over, man!"
-Private Hudson, Aliens
I've decided not to use parenthetical comments for a week. They're a weakness in my writing, and I'd like to excise them.
I did something similar last year, when I decided not to say anything worse than "They're wrong" about the Democrats. Even with baiting by my roommate, I held up admirably.
It was actually a nice, sunny day here for once, so instead of going to see Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones with my friend, I went with her and two of her friends to a park and sat outside for a while. Contrary to what scientists had previously believed, it is possible for an American to get sunburned in Britain, though it takes the effort of not using sunscreen and sitting out for several hours in direct sunlight. The afternoon was fun, and we spent most of the time talking. One of my friend's friends had majored in Molecular Genetics, the other in Archaeology, and my friend in Ancient Near East and Egyptology (I would quite possibly kill to be able to take those last two courses of study). They were all either 21 or 22, and so had finished their Bachelor's degrees, since college is only three years over here. What struck me, though, was that they claimed to have forgotten most of what they'd learned (my friend had learned to read heiroglyphs; how cool is that?!?). Now, it was frustrating yet understandable when I'd mention something like George of the Jungle and they wouldn't have a clue what I was talking about. I'd already resigned myself to the fact that most of my pop culture knowledge was absolutely useless over here. What got me was when I'd mention something like Mercia (a pre-Norman British kingdom), and they'd all have a blank look on their faces. I'm not kidding when I say that I was utterly crushed by this, and them telling me that their schools only ever taught one year of British history didn't alleviate my depression. We in America are constantly told how smart the Brits are, how they're so much more aware of history, the world, the feelings of others, the utilization of nanotechnology in the creation of bionic implants in freshwater mussels for the purpose of harnessing body energy to cure cancer, and all that stuff. We Americans look at our own countrymen who appear to know nothing about history and point vaguely to the Caribbean when asked to find the Philippines, and have no idea what a Jacobite is. What's sad is when the Brits, who give the impression of being Renaissance Men and brilliant women, who practically radiate an image of sublime elegance and educated wisdom, can't tell you what a Jacobite is. The girls I was hanging out with were all cool people, but I'm in a bit of a funk right now since my illusions have been shattered. Sigh.
"Darth VT" over at KickIdle is all proud of himself for posting a post lately. Poor sap. In other news, I talked to him and we decided that it was important to have a "don't ask, don't tell" policy regarding drinking girl-drinks like Smirnoff Ice and orange schnapps in the privacy of your own home (or dorm in a foreign country).
Oh, come on. It's not like he even did anything illegal. He's 17, while the minimum age in Britain is 16. He drank six bottles of Smirnoff Ice, which, at 5.0%, are basically beers. Do I approve? Of course not. Do I care? Of course not. It doesn't really even matter that people were snorting cocaine in the bathroom. That's what people do at a lot of clubs.
On the other hand, I suppose that this press is a small price to pay for living (literally) like a prince and not having to work.
UPDATE: Okay, I was wrong. He did do something illegal. The drinking age here is actually 18 (the age to buy tobacco is 16, which is where the confusion came from). Still, in the great scheme of things, it's not that bad.
Saturday, July 13, 2002
Yes, but enquiring minds want to know: is it anything like Best in Show?
And yes, I can get away with the title of this post, since I'm using the term correctly.
Spain has an aircraft carrier?!? Why aren't they policing the rest of the world? I thought having an AC meant you were capable of projecting power! (link via Joyful Christian)
UPDATE: Yours truly has done the grunt work of finding out who has carriers (I'm only counting ones with actual planes, as opposed to helicopters). Apparently, the short list is: USA (11 supercarriers, 12 "amphibious assault ships"), UK (3), France (1), Spain (1), Brazil (1), India (1), and Thailand (1). The UK is apparently working on building two 50,000ish-ton carriers in the near future. The Indian, Brazilian, and Thai carriers are old 1960s carriers bought from the English and French, and mostly operate VSTOL aircraft (such as Harriers). The Spanish carrier is a cute little thing at 16,700 tons, while the French carrier (nuclear, incidentally) tips the scales at 36,000 tons and apparently has yet to complete a cruise without a major malfunction. Just because it's Bastille Day, I'll point out that they also bought planes for it that needed a longer runway than they had. The three British carriers are 20,600-ton vessels which operate Harriers. Meanwhile, our supercarriers are big ol' nuclear things that tip the scales around 88,000 tons and can field 80+ fixed-wing aircraft, while the assault carriers are 40,000 tons apiece. I can see why no one else can really project power.
FURTHER UPDATE: Apparently a Chinese company is somewhat in possession of a former Soviet nuclear carrier of roughly 70,000 tons that they bought from the Ukrainians. It's supposed to be turned into an entertainment complex (I don't want to ask).
This gem from The Dave (no, not that The Dave, or the other one...no, not that other The Dave, the other one...nevermind...) reminds me of the Kronenbourg 1664 ad where the French beat the British at Waterloo. And for the record, Brits aren't Europeans.
The award for hardest to spell/pronounce/type name goes to...
Silflay Hraka! (be sure to check out his post on Batman vs. Superman from July 10th (the link doesn't work))
All I can say is that this had better be your real name, since I'm going to be upset if I had to type it and it wasn't. Same goes for you, Louder Fenn.
You know, it's a nice ego boost when you ask a girl for her number and are successful, even if it only to see Attack of the Clones again. :-)
By the way, wouldn't Ego Boost be a great power-up for a video game? Your aim would be straighter, you'd move faster, fewer hit points would be taken off...
Listen, amateurs, I'm now on Blogger Pro. Fear me.
Friday, July 12, 2002
You know, for all this hot air about global warming, we hardly ever hear people point out that we're apparently overdue for another Ice Age. I'm told that this was a bit of a concern in the 1970s, but somehow got brushed aside. See, according to scientists, the Earth has periods of being frigid and periods of being hot (which is why our planet is always depicted as a woman). For 100,000 years, it's really cold and things tend to go extinct in large numbers. Everything from Alaska to Pennsylvania becomes covered in ice, and the rest of the world doesn't do very well, either (though I suspect that with all this extra ice, sea levels would drop and some islands that are "in danger of drowning" from global warming would be sitting pretty). Then we get a golden age for 10,000 years where everything is nice. Guess when our last ice age ended? Yep, just over 10,000 years ago. I'm not going to go into young-Earth vs. old-Earth stuff, but this stuff is supposed to freeze and later unfreeze pretty rapidly, as in the space of about a year or so. It's thought that this massive melting might be a candidate for the source of all the flood stories. Coincidentally, it's at around 8000 BC that we first start to see traces of permanent habitation and sudden technological developments. If the world suddenly became a lot more hospitable, there would definitely appear to be a cultural explosion. Unless we're planning on giving up on Idaho, Wisconsin, and New York, it might not be that bad of a thing to be able to keep the temperature of the Earth artificially high. Just a thought.
If Tim Blair keeps this up, he may find himself blogrolled by Yours Truly. Of course, mentioning me in his blog would clinch it.
A quote: "How would the greenoids respond? Would they accept any of Lomborg's criticism? Would they re-examine their more extreme views? Not at all. Instead, environistas have switched to full-blown shrieking apocalyptic insanity mode."
"Hitler, he only has one ball,
Goering has two, but very small.
Himmler has something similar,
And Dr. Goebbels has no balls at all"
-from the movie "A Separate Peace"
First, I wasn't very good at coloring in the lines in preschool, so my teachers at a British Montessouri school taught me to read instead. First, let me say that I can now color within the lines pretty well. My handwriting's somewhat hard to read, but it occurred to me that it wasn't because I couldn't make it legible, but that it wasn't fun. I do quirky things that amuse primarily me, and occasionally other people. When in band, I tap my foot in the conducting pattern. I like eating with chopsticks. And when I write, I like the way it feels to make my f, th, B, D, and 9 differently from the norm. But I digress. Instead of just having me color poorly or telling me to put my head down while the rest of the children attempted to learn, it occurred to them to have me learn to read instead. I credit this, along with not having many friends in early elementary school due to my dad being constantly reassigned to other military bases, to my large store of knowledge. I've always been a good reader. Being a good reader has made me an excellent speller with an impressive vocabulary (I'm average in math, but I really whip the llama's [donkey] when it comes to the verbal portion of tests). Being able to easily read and understand books meant that I could learn a lot at a faster rate than a lot of other students who hadn't been taught what I had and had the same experiences. I think my point is to say that teaching fundamentals is far more important than simply teaching individual facts (do ninth-graders really need to memorize the different castes from the Indus Valley civilization (I think they refuse to call them Aryans because either they don't know the difference or they're too lazy to teach their students that difference)?).
Oh, and the other idea was that perhaps stores that are likely to have toddlers running around should have little devices that can clip onto the child that trigger an alarm if they leave the building. It doesn't have to be expensive; a clothespin and one of those metal strips on CDs ought to do nicely.
New additions to the Land o' Links:
Heathens Unite (take with a grain of salt)
Links to blogs that have moved have also been updated.
Read this, and tell me how reliable this guy is going to be on the witness stand. He has got to be stupid beyond belief to have turned in that tape when he was on the lam. Seriously, has he no brains whatsoever? Firstly, I doubt that the LAPD is going to arrest the principal witness in a case against them just in order to scare him, especially after the story's already broken. As for him getting roughed up, I similarly think that the LAPD would have to be beyond dumb to actually do this.
Meanwhile, check out the quote by his lawyer. Apparently people who support law enforcement are white supremacists who are against the rights of Black people.
Look, we don't know what happened yet. The stories range from Brutal White Supremacist Cop beats poor, defenseless minor to bloodied LAPD officer forcibly restrains violent youth after having testicles grabbed. I think we should remember that in most cases, the cops are the good guys. Also, if race was an issue, wouldn't the black cop in the video have done something more than mildly restrain the cop who did the shoving?
Amirul Haq Qureshi, the Pakistani who teamed up with Israeli Amir Hadad for men's doubles at Wimbledon. Check out that quote from the head of the Pakistan Tennis Federation.
On the other side of the world, we have former Arizona Cardinal Pat Tillman, wanting to go from Bora Bora to Tora Bora.
I know both these men have been much blogged-about, but I just wanted to add my own small tip of the hat.
Do we really trust the judgement of Europeans, especially if they're going to have us join the ICC? Let's be honest.
Tuesday, July 09, 2002
1. Humans are the only terrestrial mammals with a descended larynx. This means we can form the complex sounds necessary for a spoken language, but also that we're the only terrestrial mammals that can choke on our food (look at dogs eat, you'll see what I mean). The only other mammals that have this ability are aquatic.
2. Humans are the only terrestrial mammals with a certain layer of fat. Again, only aquatic mammals have this.
3. We don't have an awful lot of hair. Neither do whales or seals. Monkeys do. If we were on the open savannah, we'd get sunburned in no time at all. It's interesting one of the few places we do have hair is on top of our head, which would be sticking above the water in Baigent's theory.
4. The savannah is a very bad place to evolve. There are an awful lot of very fast predators, and apes aren't usually the fastest animals. According to evolution, we wouldn't have been able to stand on our back feet for very long. Furthermore, as we developed, we'd actually be hampered by being bipedal, since it's a lot slower that going with four limbs.
5. Humans have sex facing each other (normally). Go flip on the Discovery Channel and count the number of terrestrial mammals that do this.
I'd also like to point out the eye. Could something as complex as the mammalian eye develop out of primitive nerves? Eh, maybe. It would be tough, but let's assume that it's reasonable in the time in which it's theorized to have happened. This isn't enough, though. You also need holes in the skin to see through. Where did these come from? Did the eye develop, and then suddenly a genetic mutation occurred that caused slits to miraculously appear? Is it even reasonable to think that this kind of genetic mutation could happen? Slits appearing before a functional eye would be a detriment rather than an advantage. Perhaps some complex gene-linkage that caused facial slits, working (if primitive) eyes, and perhaps the removal of the gene to allow blue or green hair in humans? That sounds an awful lot like wishful thinking. When confronted with something as complex as the human body, replete with examples of systems that would have to have had periods of worthlessness before becoming useful.
Before you start to point to the appendix and tonsils as proof of Darwinism, let me say that I don't disagree with the idea of microevolution. My understanding is that the appendix was useful in eating a lot of green plants, sort of like a rumen. As we began to grow things like wheat, this became less important and eventually may have been more of a hassle than an aid (I'm sure there are also explanations in the Bible that might match up with this, but that's off-topic right now). Humans are apparently taller, live longer, and have often have worse vision than 2000 years ago. However, we're still humans. Go look at people who grew up vegetarian and you'll notice that they tend to be shorter than we animal-killas. People who live subsistence lifestyles usually don't live as long as Americans or Japanese. In modern hunter-gatherer societies where vision isn't easily corrected, those with poor vision are often de-selected when it's time to get funky. These could all be changed with little trouble. What Darwin apparently saw as something of a staircase, with species graduating to the next level upon varying enough, I think it's more of an oscillation that corrects itself as time goes on. For all the breeds of dogs that we have, I'll bet that if you worked exclusively with chihuahuas, you could breed yourself something remarkably similar or even identical to a wolf before too long. It's late, and I'm rambling, but I think Darwinists have a lot of explaining to do before we begin to accept any of their theory as reliable.
Saturday, July 06, 2002
Eve Tushnet posts an excellent reading list. Sadly, I've only read (or seen, in the case of the plays) a few of these, but I'll work on it.
Back in March, I found that I was the 59th most important Robert Bauer on Google. As of today, I am #1. Kids, see what hard work and patience can accomplish?
This advice may also be valid for other schools, but Your Results May Vary.
1. Don't use suitcases. Bring your stuff in big athletic bags. That way, they can be folded down so they don't take up space once they're empty.
2. Call your parents at least once a week. Otherwise they'll get angry.
3. Your grades will be a lot higher if you go to bed at 11PM and wake up at 7AM. However, this will probably be impossible in your dorm.
4. Get a loud alarm clock, and put it on the other side of the room so you have to get up to turn it off. Wal-Mart has a nice big one with a 90 decibel alarm for around $10. However, if you just press snooze instead of actually turning it off and leave for class, your hallmates are fully within their rights to break into your room and smash it to pieces.
5. Virginia Tech has very good dining facilities. However, they can get crowded very easily. If you can avoid eating lunch between noon and 1PM, do it. Also, if you want to avoid getting the "Freshman Fifteen," have a salad for lunch instead of all-you-can-eat at Dietrick, the Blue Plate at Owens, or anything at Hokie Grill.
6. Make an effort to get to know your RA. This may not be possible, but if it is, it makes life a lot more fun. It also makes it a lot easier to talk to him/her if you have a problem. They get paid to hear you whine, so get your money's worth.
7. Buy used textbooks.
8. The university sent you something listing your minimum computer requirements, and coincidentally a sheet showing how you can get a computer that fits these requirements from the university bookstore. Instead, go to Best Buy or Office Depot and buy last year's model of computer, since it should cost about half as much and easily accomplish all you need (if you're majoring in Engineering, Architecture, Music, or Computer Science, disregard this). Don't get a laptop, unless you also get a full-sized keyboard and a monitor. Make sure your computer has a lot of hard drive space (at least 20 gigs) and a CD writer or Zip drive. If you can swing it, a DVD drive is also very useful.
9. If you have a stereo and intend to bring it, hook it up to your computer. It'll cost you about $6 or less to buy the cables you need, and it shouldn't be hard to set up.
10. If you're a church-goer, get involved early. The Catholics (Newman Community), Methodists (Wesley Foundation), Baptists (Baptist Student Union), Episcopalians (Canterbury), Pentacostals (Chi Alpha), and Jews (Hillel) all have big organizations, and I suspect the smaller denominations and other faiths do as well. There's also New Life Christian Fellowship (NLCF), Campus Crusade for Christ (CCC), and Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship (IVCF) which are non-denominational and tend to be more modern in their worship. If you're a conservative Episcopalian, you're going to need to find a ride to a church outside of Blacksburg or just go to NLCF, since the Epsicopal church here has a female minister and the Anglican Catholic church (splinter group from the Episcopal Church USA) is vaguely creepy.
11. If you know people at Tech, make the most of it. Get rides and advice, and have lunch or dinner with them every so often.
12. Keep in touch with your friends from back home.
13. Do not, under any circumstances, put Counter-Strike, Quake, or Urban Terror on your computer. Your GPA will plummet and you will get no sleep. I suspect that most girls can disregard this.
14. You may see your teachers drunk if you hang out with them outside of class (this goes for most students, too). Don't let this stop you from getting to know them. If your teacher knows you and you participate in class, it can really help. I was supposed to get a D+ in my math class since I forgot to turn something in, but since I went to talk to my professor and I'd been pretty much the only one in class who had paid any attention and not talked while he did, he bumped me up to a B when I'd only asked for a C-.
15. Do not get into a relationship in your first semester. Do not get into a relationship in your first semester. Do not get into a relationship in your first semester. You can go on dates and hang out with friends, but anything more than that is going to be too much for you to handle while you're still getting used to the transition.
16. Don't party too much. When you do go to parties, know what you're doing, since there are a lot of people who may try to take advantage of you if you're not careful. Having at least one sober and/or upperclassman friend at a party to take care of you in case something goes wrong is a good idea. Girls should not go go frat parties while not heeding the previous sentence, while guys should not go to frat parties unless you're a member of the frat.
17. Go to the football games if you can. Virginia Tech has one of the best teams in the country, and the atmosphere is incredible on Game Day.
18. Bring your winter clothes when you first arrive. Figuring that you'll get them when you go home for Thanksgiving is a bad idea, since it can get bitterly cold in late October.
19. Do not sit on manhole covers when steam is coming out. Sounds obvious, but painful if you forget.
I've had some interesting bits of conversation since I've been over here. The following are just a few brief representative snippets:
Me: "Yeah, my roommate set my alarm clock really early this morning."
Male co-worker: "Is this your boyfriend, girlfriend, or just a friend?"
Me: [Good God!] "My friend. We're in a suite with another student from my school."
Female co-worker: "Hello, I'm Gay."
Me: [That's an awfully blatant way of introducing yourself. Oh, duh.] "I'm Robert."
Me: "We've been having a lot of people suggest things to add to our gift shop."
Supervisor: "Yeah, I'd like to get some pencils, pens, and rubbers with our logo in here."
Supervisor: "What? Oh, that's right, you're a Yank."
Coordinator: "I need you to go down to the Tesco's and pick up some stuff."
Me: (stares blankly) "What's Tesco's?"
Coordinator: (to manager) "Oh, you had to get the Yank to run the errand, didn't you?"
PR guy: "Could you pick up that stack of A5 paper and bring it downstairs for me?"
Me: "I haven't the faintest clue what A5 paper looks like."
Moe Syzyzlak: We saved your [donkey] in World War II!
Hugh Grant: Well, we saved your [donkey] in World War III!
Thursday, July 04, 2002
Wednesday, July 03, 2002
Tuesday, July 02, 2002
1. Don't look at your fiancee. If she's pretty, you can find out after you're married. If she's not, then you're just going to be depressed for a few months.
2. In fact, don't seek to know anything about her. After you're married, you'll have years to do that stuff. You'll only depress yourself if you find that she's got some apparent flaw.
3. Be sure to begin machinations to arrange spouses for your future children.
Monday, July 01, 2002
*the above statement is not meant to imply that Dave Tepper is actually the king, potentate, emir, czar, or other chief executive of any realm, domain, conglomeration, or nation other than DaveTepper.net. Send legal enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
You are 20% evil! [?]
You're pretty non-evil. You're a little bit off of being all good, but you tend to still be orderly and peaceful. You aren't the bad person at all...for the most part.
I guess I have some work to do.