Friday, September 23, 2016

Another triumph of socialized medicine

A woman in Macedonia wakes up from surgery to find that surgeons have connected her colon'll have to read the article to find out.  As you guessed, yes, they have socialized medicine there.  I'm no surgeon, but while I can see the "excuse" of proximity, I would have assumed that even the most junior surgeon would have clued in that he wasn't working with the proper parts. 

With single payer, however, I guess I'm wrong. 

Thursday, September 22, 2016

So why does it matter?

One might ask why I bother, if I'm indeed persuaded (as I am) that the Bible allows the moderate use of alcohol as a beverage, dealing with books like those of David Brumbelow.  The reason is simple; it goes well beyond whether one person does, or does not, enjoy wine.  Rather, if I should teach someone that when the Bible says "wine", it does not in fact mean "wine", or worse yet to adopt an hermeneutic of "it means grape juice when it's good, alcoholic wine when it's bad", what I've just done is to teach him to ignore the Scriptures when it's inconvenient to him.

In other words, I've taught him to abandon the historic doctrines of the authority of Scripture and Sola Scriptura.  So to achieve conformity with Victorian/Edwardian culture, the whole of our faith is thrown out.  It's not the only time the Victorians used the social gospel to (inadvertently or intentionally) attack faith--theological liberalism came out of this as well, of course--but it is a case that we ought to remember.  When we try to add things to Scripture, even with the best intentions, we inevitably go wrong.

Really, if the Prohibitionists believe "oinos" or "yayin" are mis-translated, they need to propose a better translation, not tell believers to ignore the one they've got.  But that said, they've got their work cut out for them, as the context in which these words are used makes the definition pretty clear.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016


Check this out; an advertisement for a book endorsing total abstinence from alcohol with a dance track behind it.  I am reminded of a friend who admitted that people took drugs at raves because the music was so bad, so I must contemplate the reality that there is something of a mixed message by Mr. Lumpkin.  Not to mention, there's a bit of inconsistency on the part of those endorsing the book, mostly Baptists who ordinarily....don't dance any more than they admit drinking.

And I've got to remember the tune Lumpkin chose reminds me a lot of this little ditty by the Dead Milkmen.  Somehow it seems a lot more appropriate than it ought to be. 

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

On the "requirement" to be a teetotaler

Obviously, as someone who has written repeatedly about beer, and has even provided a review of a liquid substance claimed by its manufacturer to be beer, I am (obviously) not in the camp of the teetotalers.  But as someone who does love fundamental Christian theology, I do from time to time come into contact with those who would strongly argue for the position of abstinence.

One recent case is that of David Brumbelow's Ancient Wine and the Bible, where the author makes a number of claims to establish the idea that the faithful have always rejected ordinary wine with alcohol.  One of the claims is that, instead of simply crushing the grape harvest and allowing it to ferment in vats or wineskins (Luke 5), the ancients were prone to taking large portions of their grape harvest and boiling it down into a syrup that would keep through the year, then reconstituting it and making a drink from it.

Now there are all kinds of reasons to reject this, including the Bible's silence on this practice (it's never mentioned), the lack of archeological evidence for this practice (large metal pots, etc..), the lack of fuel to do the boiling, the fact that boiling destroys Vitamin C and exposes the drinkers to scurvy, and finally (Luke 5 again) our Savior's notation that new wine would break old wine-skins, and that people preferred the old (drier, more fermented) wine.  Really, any family that decided to do this would give it up when they got scurvy and couldn't bake their bread or keep warm in winter.

But that noted, I decided last night to give it a try to see how it would come out, so I bought a can of grape juice concentrate (the bottles were all Concord grapes, the wrong species of grape), reconstituted it, and boiled it down to slightly less than its original volume--about a fifth of the original.  This is where the sugar concentration inhibits yeast growth, and a little bit lower concentration than you'd need to stop all molds and bacteria--which is why most people refrigerate their jellies, of course. 

What did I find?  You can do it, I guess, and it is a sort of syrup at 75F (but definitely not in the fridge!), though I'd maintain what grandmother would tell you; the pectin in the grapes is going to change the consistency somewhat.  It took about an hour of vigorous boiling on the stove to eliminate about 40 ounces of water from the mix.  If you had a large pot like the one Grandma used to make apple butter, you might boil off a few gallons per hour, but overall, you're talking dozens or hundreds of hours of time in front of a fire in July and August to do this--and you're going to burn a lot of wood.  I estimated about 2kW-H for my experiment, which is about a kG of coal burned.  So for a family's 1 ton grape crop, we're talking about half a cord (100 cubic feet) of wood or so--again, you're going to be working hard to get this much, especially in an arid land like Israel.

Another note; average temperature in Israel in August goes up to 95-100 degrees or more.  How does it sound to stand in front of that vat all day to stir it?  Keep in mind that you could also just put the juice in skins or vats to ferment, or simply dry the grapes on your roof for raisins. 

When reconstituted with some difficulty, it resembles a slightly charred version of KoolAid far more than a 2007 from Gevrey-Chambertin, and it's certain that no wedding host would say it's the best they've ever tasted.  Keep in mind here that the pan I used was an All-Clad--suffice it to say that my heat distribution was better than that of the ancients, so if they did this, their syrup would be quite a bit more charred than mine.

Verdict: it is extremely unlikely that this would have been done on a large scale anywhere around the Mediterranean.  It's not witnessed in Scripture or archeology, it uses too much wood, and it would be a lot of work for the purpose of getting scurvy and water-borne diseases instead of enjoying robust health by eating raisins and having a glass of wine.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Now where will this one go?

According to WND, some school districts in Virginia and Maryland are not only allowing "transgender identifying" students to use a locker room or bathroom that does not correspond with their biological sex, but are also allowing them to share hotel rooms with someone of the opposite sex when teams travel for competition.

When it was just bathrooms and locker rooms, the obvious objection is that it would be conductive to misbehavior by mostly people who are, or should be, on Megan's List.  However, with this development, we'd have to also include "hormone addled teenagers" to the list of those who will use this new rule for their own purposes. 

One would have to wonder whether the school boards of these districts remember their teen years at all.  Maybe too much time in college reliving Woodstock or something?

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

A bit of humor

The claims that Hilliary Clinton's spells of coughing and weakness come from a lack of water seem to suggest that she might be hydrophobic

Folly in defining racism

Here's an interesting study which purports to map "racist" attitudes out by which Presidential candidate is supported, and finds, not surprisingly, that these "racist" attitudes are common across the board.  But looking at the actual categories--intelligence, work ethic, manners, violence and lawfulness--it strikes me that we have federal agencies and federally funded researchers which work to collect verifiable data in all of these areas, or at least reasonable proxies for these characteristics.  Is it then racism to quote, say, the Department of Justice or the NIH?

Apparently so.  Silly me, I had thought that racism consisted in the belief that all members of a given race are distinguished by such characteristics, not that some or the mean was such.  It really illustrates, to hop on a soapbox I use often, the need for people to study logic in school and learn the differences between A and I, E and O premises.   We need to learn, really, how the premiss "white people can't dance" is not completely refuted by Fred Astaire and Donald O'Connor.

But we don't, and as a result, we're increasingly at each other's throats.   Pretty darned sad.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

What has a shorter range than a Tesla?

A Tesla towing an Airstream trailer, of course.  It's a cool gimmick with one of the coolest campers out there, but having towed a camper myself in the past couple of months, the gimmick just raises a lot of questions where I'm sure the answers aren't favorable to Elon Musk.  For starters, how much below the rated miles of ~200-250 would it get--my guess is about 150 miles at best.  Also, what happens to those motors during towing?  High torque and lower airflow is a recipe for overheating, after all.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Seemed appropriate

Yes, I think Mrs. Clinton is nearer pining for the fjords than we'd expected. 

Thursday, September 08, 2016

Brilliance from Brown University

Student representatives have placed feminine hygiene products for free in all campus bathrooms, including men's rooms, to communicate that they are a necessity, and that "not all people who menstruate are women".

Well, yes, I guess they are a necessity for women, but don't these people realize that yes, there is indeed a Wal-Mart in Providence where they can get these products for a reasonable price, and that women have historically purchased their own feminine hygiene products to get the kind they want?  Moreover, if they are really persuaded that people who are not female can menstruate, may I suggest CEB10905, "The Body: An Introduction to Human Anatomy and Physiology"?  They might be interested in knowing that menstruating requires a functional uterus and ovaries, which in turn requires two X chromosomes, which in turn designates a person as "female" or a "woman". 

Or if they have taken such a course, and still labor under the misconception that men sometimes menstruate, it is my plea that they avoid medicine as a career.  It is truly scary that nonsense like this can prosper at an "elite" university.

Wednesday, September 07, 2016

That didn't take long

Todd Starnes reports that the Alliance Defending Freedom is litigating a case where a supposedly "transgender" student is using President Obama's Title IX requirement of allowing the transgender to use restrooms and locker rooms of their choice to....behave in a lewd manner, exactly as any man who has ever been a teenaged boy could have predicted.

Note the comment that when an alternative locker room was offered, half the team used that until....the boy (let's be serious here; he's a boy) showed up there and started behaving lewdly.  So there is a bitter irony that the Obama administration is pushing a policy that poses a serious risk of killing off girls' and women's sports altogether. 

Also to soon be killing off women's athletics is the IOC's way of dealing with the case of those with indeterminate gender (non-xx or xy), as is shown by the run of Caster Semenya in Rio.   If you watch the race, Semenya is wearing more or less a men's uniform and more or less "loiters" with the pack until the last 200 meters, then leaves the pack in the dust like....Jarmila Kratochvilova in 1983

The significance of Kratochvilova is well known to anyone familiar with Eastern European athletics in the 1980s; the all time bests in the 400 and 800 are dominated by eastern Europeans, whereas the 100 and 200 are dominated by women of west African descent, and events over 3000m are dominated by east Africans.   Heavy doses of steroids and other drugs--see the sad case of Heidi Krieger--conferred an advantage not seen since the end of the Warsaw Pact--well, at least not outside of China (where East German coaches went after 1989) and Russia.  The Chinese doping, by the way, seems to have been most effective at 1500 and 3000 meters.

If the IOC, NCAA, and high school leagues want to have women's and girls' sports, they're going to have to come to terms with the fact that high testosterone levels and a male skeleton are indeed real advantages, and preserve women's sports for those with an unambiguous XX in their DNA.  I won't be holding my breath.

Tuesday, September 06, 2016

Separate but equal... apparently now being enforced in housing at Cal State-LA, UC Berkeley, U-Conn, and UC Davis, as Dr. King is (if it were possible) spinning in his grave.  No word yet on whether they're going to go to separate drinking fountains, lunch counters, and the like as well, but word has it that the Obama administration is indeed creating "separate but equal" standards of justice by emphasizing concepts like "disparate impact", worrying extensively about the number of minorities are detained or arrested, but not sweating the fact that the murder rate in his beloved Chicago is up 49% this year, mostly impacting African-Americans.

In 2016 as in 1866, the rush to Jim Crow laws appears to be led by Democrats.

In other news, this is how out of court settlements ought to be: "apology included."  Fox takes a deserved hit for how Gretchen Carlson was treated, but unlike many, the settlement included an apology.

Friday, September 02, 2016

Here's a scary plan

Hilliary Clinton's plan to reduce the cost of epi-pens is quite simple.  Just trust the government to bully the manufacturers!  And by no means will that bullying be harsher on companies that do not make large contributions to the Clinton Foundation--perish the thought!

Nope, decades after I bought my first epi-pen, by no means is it possible that we might have the knowledge to ensure that a company can make one that reliably works.  Certainly it's not as if IV needles are used by millions of diabetics every day or anything like that.  By no means is it possible to figure out what went wrong with one trial that yielded unsatisfactory results, modify the design, and get a new trial done quickly to avoid price disruptions like this. 

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Regrettably, this is satire

Going against type, Congress is said to have prohibited the production of God's Not Dead 3, and has struck a mighty blow against wooden acting, unbelievable characters, and ham-fisted moral messages.

OK, yeah, it would be a complete violation of the 1st Amendment if passed, but at some point, Christian filmmakers need to come to grips with the fact that when I checked, Attack of the Killer Tomatoes scored better than God's Not Dead 2.  It would seem that if Christians really want to engage on the cultural playing field, we've got to get our own versions of vaudeville or community theater going.  I'm going to have trouble doing this, though.

Your "justice" department at work

The September issue of Forbes magazine has an interesting case about the plight of trader Todd Newman, whose insider trading conviction was overturned by a court of appeals, and then the Supreme Court, by refusing to take the case, affirmed that ruling.

What is at stake?  As many who have been "educated" in insider training by their companies know, there is really no actual law around insider trading except a provision in the law to prevent fraud in trading.  Historically, as the article notes, it's punished when the tipper is rewarded for inside information that the company prohibits disseminating--really it depends on what the company decides is illegal use of its information.

For Newman, however, prosecutor Preet Bharara used a novel interpretation that did not prosecute any tippers (there were four layers, something of a "telephone game" tipping), the tip was actually wrong, broke legal ground in using wiretaps and raids, whether Miranda rights were read is disputed, and a 20 minute drive to a courthouse apparently took an hour and a half.  Most importantly, historically it's vital to prove that the tipper and the recipient know that it is nonpublic information obtained illegally, but Bharara and prosecutress Antonia Apps persuaded the judge to ignore this provision.

In other words, Bharara and Apps were making up the law as they went along and using various intimidation tools to try to make it stick.  In the process, they destroyed a company and the careers of many of its employees, depriving at least half a dozen people of years of their lives.

What to do?  Well, given the definition of fraud I've linked above, the question of intent and compensation certainly ought to play a part in insider trading law, and first of all Congress ought to actually define it.   Moreover, since Bharara and Apps apparently forgot their lessons on Article 1 of the Constitution, I'd suggest that at least two other people need to lose their careers as a result of this.