Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Interesting question

Apparently, a West Point (USMA) graduate who espoused Communism has been removed from the Army for "less than honorable" reasons.  Now exactly what this means isn't clear to me--it appears he may have a tattoo or two visible outside his uniform, which at least used to be forbidden, and his attitude towards the site of his service is "less than complimentary"--but the question of what level of political freedom can be accommodated within the armed services, or for that matter among immigrants, comes to mind as well.  If we are talking about someone who would forcibly confiscate the property of prosperous citizens, as the Communist Manifesto seems to indicate, one would simultaneously think that such a person would be incapable of honoring the Constitution's protections of life, liberty, and property.  Such a person ought not be allowed to immigrate or join the armed services, in my opinion.

And along those lines, it's almost a pity that we didn't keep a portion of East Berlin and the Berlin Wall in place, or perhaps one of Stalin's gulags, so that those who would forget the atrocities of Communism might be reminded of them in the same way we might send a Holocaust denier to Auschwitz or Dachau.  Of course, probably even that wouldn't be sufficient, since there appears to be a growing number of Holocaust deniers out there, too.   But it might help.

Monday, June 18, 2018

A dangerous sign at the SBC

Apparently the 46,000 + churches of the SBC are sending a total of fewer than 10,000 messengers (representatives) to the national convention.  Each church can send a total of up to twelve messengers based on various factors.  What does this mean?

Given that this meeting selects the SBC President, and given that the same person makes some huge appointments that will determine the future course of the association, theologically and practically speaking, I think this is a huge danger sign for the SBC.   You can't reasonably accommodate over 100,000 representatives anywhere outside the mega-cities, and sending the full quota of representatives will be impossible for most churches to begin with. 

It would seem that the SBC would be wise to, with a supermajority of pastors/churches signing on, decide some things cannot be changed except by a 75% supermajority, and that a lot of these things cannot be decided in an annual meeting that only a small portion of churches can attend.  Otherwise, the SBC is signing up for political games by a small minority.

Friday, June 15, 2018

To Russia with love?

The Department of Defense is saying that a new artillery program with a maximum range of 70km is intended for possible conflict with Russia, but it strikes me that such  a weapon would be really neat to have deployed in South Korea.  More or less, with adequate spy satellites and shot detection, the average lifespan of a North Korean artillery piece could be measured in minutes.  The number of rounds that the North Korean artillery piece might fire might be just one--or zero.

Which is just fine by me.  I would also suspect that this might be just fine with South Koreans.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

News from "Lake Woebegone"

Or, rather, Winsted, which is (appropriately in this case) close to Darwin, MN, home of the world famous twine ball memorialized by Weird Al Yankovic.  You see, we are awfully proud of our public schools here in Minnesota, because, as somebody MPR would like to forget ever existed used to say, all of our kids are above average. 

How much above average?  Well, one above average Minnesota girl, 19 year old Kaitlin Strom of Litchfield, figured out a way to get her head stuck in the tailpipe of a diesel pickup.  And yes, as you might have guessed, alcohol was involved.  She's so smart, she figured out a way around our legal drinking age, too.   Thankfully, her only "Darwin Award" is getting that tailpipe sent to the Darwin Tavern for display--and presumably paying the pickup's owner to get a new one welded on.

So if you're proud of your state's public schools, just ask yourself this; when was the last time a graduate of YOUR state's public schools got drunk and stuck her head in the tailpipe of a pickup?  You are almost certainly hanging your heads with shame at how poorly your state's schools are performing, aren't you?  Thought so.  Need a hug for consolation?  No luck, buddy, we're going to rub it in DEEP.

One note for the Weird Al fans in my vast audience; the Darwin Tavern is not the Twine Ball Inn from the song.  That's this building, and at least when I visited it, it was a great place to get Twine Ball memorabilia, as well as one of very few decent pieces of pie I've ever had in a restaurant.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

How not to do it: Exhibit A

Apparently, my alma mater, and the current President, John Engler, decided for some reason that he was going to float theories about the attorney for Larry Nassar's victims/survivors paying Rachael Denhollander to "manipulate" other claimants into participating. 

Not only is this something that her husband, proud driver of a ten year old minivan, finds hilarious and infuriating, but had Engler paid attention in the "legal ethics" classes he took at Cooley Law School, not to mention continuing education with the ABA and the lawyers that quite frankly infest Michigan State, he would have known that if a lawyer is caught giving or taking kickbacks, they're likely to get disbarred and jailed.

In other words, between John Manly and Rachael Denhollander, there were two people who knew very well not to try such an arrangement.  Moreover, Larry Nassar's attorneys had apparently tried the same stunt, only to have it go over like a lead balloon. 

What this illustrates, in my view, is a mindset in the Hannah building and Cowles House that thought that if they could only wait out the Denhollanders until money ran out, their problems would be over--and that their major risk was an illegal pre-payment of anticipated revenue from the civil suit.  More or less, they were hoping procedural calculations would overcome the evidence.  Thankfully, this comment related by Kate Wells of Michigan Public Radio holds:  Why would you keep messing with Rachael Denhollander?  She's just going to kick your ass.

And not only am I hoping and praying she does indeed kick his gluteal regions right back to Mount Pleasant, or better yet past Houghton into Lake Superior, but I pray as well that this sad spectacle serves as an example of how not to treat complainants.  If you don't take the evidence seriously, but try to finagle procedural tricks incessantly while making unsupported allegations against the accusers, expect that things will go very badly for your side.

On the flip side, if you suspect that someone has a big need to have metatarsal structures impact his gluteal region, the best way to achieve that is to mind one's Ps & Qs ethically while putting together the evidence that will make that case clear. 

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

It boggles the mind

The SBC has disfellowshipped Raleigh White Baptist Church over issues related to their treatment of a predominantly black church in the area.  Now, to be fair, the church is not named for the race of most of its members and attendees, but rather for a former pastor, Raleigh White, but even that raises a whole lot of questions completely unrelated to their treatment of New Seasons Church.

For starters, why name the church after a former pastor at all?  Doesn't Paul say something about the veneration of influential leaders in the opening chapters of First Corinthians?  Isn't it sufficient to name the church library, fellowship hall, or gymnasium after a former leader?

Going further, exactly why didn't somebody at the SBC or the Mallary Baptist Association explain the optics of this before to this church?  "See, folks, we've had a serious race relations problem in this area for about three centuries--you may have heard about some unpleasant events in the 1860s and again in the 1960s, maybe a guy named 'Sherman' and a guy named 'King'--and the optics of having an all white church being named "White Baptist Church" are just horrendous...."

But evidently, hyper-autonomous stubbornness got in the way of the obvious solution to these mistakes: apologies followed by an invitation to a gigantic potluck for both churches and a combined service. 

Wednesday, June 06, 2018

It's rather a relief, I think

I've never really been a fan of beauty pageants, but when the "Miss America" pageant went to two piece swimsuits, I had to wonder what the next step would be, as going to the bikini was obviously predicated to get more "sex appeal" into the pageant. 

Well, thankfully, the next step is not one that would make the late Hugh Hefner blush, as I'd admittedly feared, but rather the opposite direction, to eliminate the swimsuit competition and modify the evening gown competition.  This leaves the obvious question, however, of why people would bother watching 50 young ladies say "I'm a fourth year freshman at UCLA, and I want to be a veterinarian because I love children."


Update: come to think of it, this is kinda appropriate too.  Enjoy

Tuesday, June 05, 2018

Just might be the ticket

Jared Wilson, who works for Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, says this:

Wanna see American Christianity become revolutionary, countercultural, and powerful again?  Re-hitch the Bible to your preaching, center on the foolishness of the gospel, and replace pragmatism with gut-spilling prayer.  Let's make Christianity weird again.

I think I'm in.

Friday, June 01, 2018

More on Planned Infanticide

Here's an interesting article from WND regarding efforts to make sure Planned Parenthood pays a price for failing to report clear evidence of sexual assault.   Given that the group has committed over three million prenatal infanticides in the past decade, and has had far more clients for STD tests and such, odds are that you know some people who have crossed their threshold, and quite frankly the odds are also pretty good that you know someone who has been hurt by their failure to report.

Let's see if we can help #Metoo pound Planned Infanticide in the same way it's hit other groups.  Again, I can't think of a more deserving organization.

This is reassuring, really

H/T Anthony Bradley.  The Washington Post has a nice article about beer, wine, and hard liquor in Muslim areas.  Here's another about the wine industry in TunisiaFi Sihtik

And yes, reassuring, as it suggests a strong minority of Arab Muslims who are not on board with strict claims of Islam.  Valuing the heads of myself and my neighbors, this is really good news; Arab Muslims also have benefited from common grace and God's good gift of wine.

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Consumer Reports jumps the shark

How so?  Well, if you're familiar with the organization, they used to refrain from giving "buy" ratings to vehicles until they had been around a year or two.  That went out the door when they recommended, I believe, the Toyota Tundra in its first year--and at which, if I remember correctly, they were rewarded with a sub-par reliability record that any good automotive engineer would have predicted.  You have to shake out the bugs, after all. 

Another interesting thing I noted about 15 years back was that they warned against buying the Chevrolet Suburban because of the cost of gasoline, but not against the Mercedes full size SUV, which was predicted to cost about $200 more than the Suburban to fuel each year because it required premium gasoline to get full performance.

Now, on the strength of a braking update, they're giving the same rating to a vehicle from a company that has suffered a rash of battery fires and crashes while in "autopilot" mode.  I think it's safe to say that, while there are good things coming out of Consumer Reports, you've got to watch their bias when it comes to automobiles.  There are times when it isn't exactly subtle.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018


Apparently the investigation into former USC gynecologist George Tyndall is only a month old, and there are already 410 complaints and 27 people filing suit.  Scarily similar to the MSU case, known complaints date back to the 1990s.  Unlike MSU, USC appears to have a much stronger reporting culture--39 of 52 initial reports were provided to police by the university--and they're being far more proactive in investigating and firing those who looked the other way.   

I'd have to suggest that knowing they're a  private university, and that they have no sovereign immunity, might have something to do with that.  Even so, I  would guess there will be thousands of plaintiffs by the time this one plays out.

And if you read the articles--not recommended for the squeamish, by the way--I think you'll wonder why someone would do such things.  Well, here's a 1991 New York Times article about the subject, and here's a database from the University of Michigan as well.


This article about failure to report cases of suspected criminal sexual conduct with a minor by Planned Parenthood suggests that #MeToo could be....quite costly for Planned Infanticide, at least if the precedents learned at Michigan State are any indication.  If it happens, couldn't happen to a better organization, if you ask me.  You just have to get the victims together and ask them if Planned Infanticide made reports about their victimization.

Might just have to get that started....

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Let's talk sovereign immunity

One of the most perplexing things in the Larry Nassar/MSU fiasco is the topic of sovereign immunity.  There are a bunch of questions about this, starting with why a university with sovereign immunity vs. civil suits would bother with liability insurance to begin with, and continuing of course to why those insurance companies are ponying up hundreds of millions of dollars for something for which they're not liable.  We have here, really, something of a partial triumph of morality and ethics over the law in that $500 million settlement.  Partial, sad to say.

But that said, we ought to examine why MSU and other public institutions have degrees of sovereign immunity to begin with.  Let's start with core government functions; if indeed it is seen as likely that the police, fire department, or military could be effectively shut down by a barrage of civil suits, then some degree of sovereign immunity makes sense there.  It would, if it occurred, endanger the people as a whole.  The application can be debated, but there is a certain logic to it.

Now let's think about universities.  As students at Albion, Calvin, Hillsdale, and a host of other private colleges in Michigan know very well, the state has a vibrant sector of private schools doing pretty much the same thing that the public universities are doing.  So practically speaking, MSU has no more call for sovereign immunity than does Hillsdale.  The only justification for the policy, really, is the notion that public universities either have greater opportunities for liability than others, or that they are uniquely incapable of defending themselves against such lawsuits.

And if that's the best argument out there--and logically I think it is--immunity for universities needs to go.  To paraphrase Frederick Douglass, those denied recourse in the ballot box and the jury box may seek it in the cartridge box.

Friday, May 25, 2018

Well, yes, I'd agree

The Indianapolis Star--which ought to get a few Pulitzers for their coverage of the Larry Nassar scandal--has a new bombshell story out indicating that USA Gymnastics deliberately hid Nassar's status of "person being investigated for criminal sexual conduct" from their constituents.  Put gently, MSU's $500 million settlement ought to look downright puny in comparison with what USA Gymnastics is going to end up paying for that boondoggle.

And I hate to admit it, but one quote of Nassar actually made me smile.  In discussion of the matter with USAG about his status, he's said to have written this:

Can we just say I am sick?

Yes, Mr. Nassar, we can, and I hope that some good psychiatrists get to talk with you in prison to give their profession a better view of what made you do what you did, and how we might avoid that in the future.