Thursday, June 28, 2018

Help wanted; a mirror

Apparently some of Larry Nassar's victims are being harassed by (sigh) a former MSU staffer because the former staffer is of the opinion that support for any Republican equates to support for Donald Trump, who of course hasn't had the best history around women.

Now apart from the non sequitur in logic, I have to wonder if the dear lady has forgotten against whom Mr. Trump was campaigning--the head of her husband's "bimbo eruption" teams, the wife of the only President who has ever lost a civil judgment for sexual harassment, and the wife of a President credibly accused of forcible rape. 

I don't have to sign off on Mr. Trump's bad behavior to suggest that, ahem, if the left wants to bring the matter up, they seriously need to remember for whom their ballots were cast.  I would dare suggest that their gal did far more to make things worse for women than Mr. Trump ever could.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Yes, they think you're stupid

My "alma mater", Michigan State University, is making the absurd claim that because the initial funding of their $500 million settlement with the victims of Larry Nassar is going to (theoretically) be paid for using bond revenues, that tuition money and funds from the state will not be impacted.  As if, I guess, those bonds will be interest free, and as if this bond issue won't increase the cost of borrowing in the future, and as if repaying those bonds when they mature won't require any money.  For that matter, insurers are going to price their products to account for their portion of the expenses, too.

Sorry, Michigan (and federal) taxpayers, MSU alumni, and present and future Spartans.  You are going to be paying for this in your tax and tuition bills, and portions of gifts to your alma mater are going to this as well.  You might as well get used to it, and do what you can to see that this "unwanted expense" gets the biggest bang for the buck. 

Monday, June 25, 2018

Gestapo, Stasi, KGB

....and the New York Times.  What do they have in common?

Apparently, all four are experienced in running "honey traps" to get sensitive information, as it's apparent that disgraced reporter Ali Watkins has dated not just one, but two of her sources.  One would have hoped that her FBI sources would have been aware that compromising confidential information (and the penalties for doing so) is a fairly high price for such gratification, but apparently not.  Or maybe they just didn't care.

At any rate, this ought to put to rest any thoughts that what a man does in his personal life doesn't matter.  Obviously it does. 


An attorney who apparently works a fair amount with survivors has this to say about hotlines:

Victims/survivors should never ever call the wrongdoers hotline.  It is only an information gathering tool for USC -- worst thing you can do.

In this context, what he's arguing--perhaps before the evidence is entirely clear, but he probably has insight that I don't--is that when one makes a Title IX report, one can only expect that the institution under which it is made will work to protect itself, not the reporter.

Now I don't know how widespread it is--it certainly appears to have happened at USC and MSU--but if attorneys like Mr. DiMaria and John Manly are persuaded that this is a very real problem with Title IX, I'd hope that a smart legislator in the District of Columbia can be persuaded to schedule some hearings and work to fix the system. 

And having watched as MSU clearly gamed this system, all I can say is that if you're a student who is sexually assaulted, you just might do well to skip Title IX altogether and go to the police.  If you need a buddy, I'll go with you if I can.

Thursday, June 21, 2018


This quote is dead on.  H/T Boz Tchividjian and Brian Zahnd, obviously.  Coming up soon, by the way; review of Gisela Kreglinger's book The Spirituality of Wine

Grape Juice Christianity is what is produced by the purveyors of the motivational seminar, you-can-have-it-all, success-in-life, pop psychology Christianity....I want the vintage wine.  The kind of Christianity that is marked by mystery, grace, and authenticity.

There are things to be said for grape juice as a commodity.  It is nourishing, has even some vitamins and minerals, and can be enjoyed without risking drunkenness--though not diabetes of course.  However, we might assert that the mysteries of the faith are not adequately described by a homogenized commodity.  For that matter, can we describe spiritual growth as a commodity, or is it really something that needs to be worked out in the heart of each believer? 

Should our appraisal of growth in Christ resemble more the lists of best fast food chains, or a Michelin review?

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.