Counter

Pageviews last month

Friday, 21 December 2007

More on Chronology of the Crucifixion

Counter
This website uses astronomical reconstruction of the Judean night sky to fix some dates from the Gospel account. These are as follows:
1) Virgin Conception: September -2 CE, when Jupiter conjoined Regulus in Leo, and twice again in the next 9 months
2) Virgin Birth: June -1 CE, when Jupiter conjoined Venus (See this French site for details)
3) Adoration of the Magi: December 25, -1 CE, when Jupiter went into retrograde again
4) Crucifixion: April 3, 33 (they don't mention whether this is a Julian or Gregorian date, but for this part of the 1st century the 2 calendars coincide anyway). This is based on the confluence of three factors:

1) The moon went into eclipse at 3pm Jerusalem local time, and rose blood-red a few hours later in partial fulfillment of Joel's prophecy.
2) Passover fell on a Friday that year.
3) Pilate was on Tiberias Caesar's "naughty boy list" that year.

April 3, 33. A date Astronomically Fixed. But I guess we have to toss it out, because--confound it--it's the same date Ussher came up with in 1632.

Wednesday, 19 December 2007

Politics--ugh.

Counter
Sigh.

The White Man prefers to steer clear of politics, given that so much of his time is already consumed with supporting the majority of his fellow countrymen who are on the state, federal, or local direct deposit plan. But I can't keep from recommending Ann Coulter's warning to all the Suckerbees who've fallen for Huckerbee (pardon the misspelling). It's here.

In the Dec. 19th Reuters report on the Presidential candidates, Mike Huckabee is admitted to be statistically tied for Republican front-runner nationwide, a fact imposssible to ignore. The report says that Huckabee has has drawn even with Giuliani, having "moved ahead" of Thompson, Romney, and McCain, and Paul. While this is certainly true of the first four (and that other candidate, "Unsure,") Huckabee has never been behind Paul. Giuliani has been the front-runner from the beginning; Huckabee has moved from fifth place to statistically a tie for first; but Paul remains a constant and increasingly distant sixth nationwide. Most of the support he stood to pick up from the declining candidates has now shifted to Huckabee, with the remainder going to Romney.

So, Huckabee has received the annointing from on high. Without it, maybe he would be in a statistical dead heat with Ron Paul--which, in the White Man's opinion, is where he belongs.

Wednesday, 14 November 2007

How Congressmen earn their money

Counter
In this enlightening and apparently uncontested video, Uncle Jay explains how Congressmen earn their daily $450 (most days).



"By the transgression of a land many are its rulers,
But by a man of understanding and knowledge, it endures."

Friday, 9 November 2007

In Defense of 'Christmas'

Counter
Upon setting forth to write a brief defense of the use of the word 'Christmas', I suddenly had a feeling that I had written on this topic before. Checking my archives, I found the following posted on December 4, 2004, which I am now re-posting here:

"Christmas is weird. What other time of the year do you sit in front of a dead tree and eat candy out of your socks?" I'm not defending any of the heathen customs that have come to be associated with the celebration of Christ's birth. But I fear we may be throwing the baby out with the bathwater. The Bible doesn't say we should celebrate His birth, nor when He was born. But it doesn't say we shouldn't. Isaac Watts wrote many hymns celebrating the future coming of Jesus; hyms like "Joy to the World" These are now mostly considered "Christmas Carols" and not suitable for singing except in December. While this is a shame, it's also a shame to avoid celebrating Christ's birth just because it's associated with Santa Claus. The dreary moths of November, at least in North America and Eurasia, are a good time to celebrate, and what better thing to celebrate than the birth of Christ? I for one think that Christmas is a good time to celebrate his First Coming."

During the three years which have transpired since I posted this, I've forgotten where I found it. It's certainly not the sort of thing I would have written (e.g. 'hyms' and 'moths'). I probably meant to add some commentary to the bottom but never got around to it.

Well, here's my chance. But rather than commenting on the above drivel, I choose to ignore it and go ahead with what I first intended to write when beginning this post. But I'll leave this in place for archival purposes, since I've deleted the post in which it originally appeared.

Should you visit the White Man's homestead on December 25th, January 7th, or any of the other days traditionally associated with the celebration of Christ's Advent, you won't find an evergreen tree in the living room, a nativity set on the mantle, or candles in the windowsill. There will be no wreath on the door, reindeer in the yard, Santa on the roof, or lights framing the windows. You won't be greeted with "Merry Christmas" or even "Happy Holidays." So it would be fairly safe to assume that we don't "celebrate Christmas" at our place. We don't particularly celebrate Ramadan, either, but we definitely know when it occurs, and what to call it. So it is from this perspective that I rise to defend, on strictly legal grounds, the use of the word 'Christmas'.

Every October, citizens of the USA rise up in protest that a certain word is being censored from our national speech. This has been going on for about as long as most people can remember, but every year it seems to get worse. Now it is not allowed, for example, to display an angel on the top of an evergreen tree in the common areas of HUD housing. Or to include the word 'Christmas' on a public school poster. Or to speak of 'Christmas Break' at government universities.

All of this is legalistic balderdash. As a matter of fact, all 50 States and the District of Colombia have set aside December 25th as a holiday, and that holiday does in fact have a name: it is 'Christmas'. And the day before it has a name, too, even though it's not a holiday. Al Qaeda may not have the usual celebrations in mind for the season, but at least they know what to call it, according to FBI spokesman Ross Rice. It is pure hypocrisy to allow the celebration but to refuse to call it what it is.

Christmas is the most banned holiday in history, yet it stubbornly refuses to go away, or submit to being called by any other name.

Even the latest Hurricane to threaten the Atlantic coast bore the Anglo-French version of its name. Perhaps this was allowed only because hurricanes never strike after November 30th.

Wednesday, 31 October 2007

AIDS as an agent of natural selection

According to recent statistics, AIDS is taking the lives of four school teachers and two police officers every day in Zambia. Statistics like these are responsible for the life expectancy in many African countries now being below 40 years. A 15-year old Botswanan boy has only a 10 per cent chance of staying AIDS-free that long.

Did you ever stop to wonder why AIDS, which was originally diagnosed exclusively in white men in North America, and was later found to disproportionately afflict black men from Haiti, is now most closely associated with black people of both sexes dying in Sub-Saharan Africa? Has any other disease in history done this sort of transmigration? If AIDS actually originated in Africa, as is commonly thought, why was it necessary for it to incubate in America and Haiti before returning to wreak such devastating damage in the continent of its birth?

It's actually a matter of Natural Selection. AIDS can only thrive in societies that nurture the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (also known as the HIV). The societies in North America that are very hostile to this virus--along with some who nurture it, but try not to let it spread--have been able to minimize the spread of the HIV. Should all societies within North America take an equally aggressive stance against its spread, it could go extinct locally within a couple decades. But important to the containment of the HIV is an understanding that it is a deadly agent that must be killed whenever possible, and whose spread must be contained, even at considerable cost (as an example, many Americans are now prohibited from donating blood through public blood banks because they haven't entered the universal tracking system that was set up to contain the spread of the HIV through blood transfusions).

In direct contrast to this approach, the societies among which AIDS runs rampant, whether they be on the African continent or in the Diaspora of Slavery, do not recognize the HIV as the true enemy. As one person recently returning from a month traveling through Southern Africa put it:

The reason why AIDS is such a killer in Southern Africa is due to the fact that people do not connect their behavior with getting AIDS. If they come down with AIDS, they are convinced that it is because someone with stronger magic than theirs has put a curse on them. The only approach they take to preventing AIDS is to wear the most powerful charm that they can buy whilst continuing to engage in behavior that is likely to bring on the disease.

There you have it, folks. AIDS is an agent of Natural Selection, removing animists from the gene pool. Africa is rapidly becoming less and less animist as a result.

2013: There is a follow-up post found here.

Tuesday, 16 October 2007

An exercise in the textual criticism of a cyberscript

Counter

Finding an email in the break room (evidently a first-generation copy of "Webex A" below), I quickly noticed that the scrambled word "phenomenal" was misspelled, making it harder to decode. My daughter said it was the only word she couldn't decode in the whole pericope, even though, as it turned out, several others were misspelled too. I decided to find a few other exemplars of this cyberscript and do a little textual criticism. I suspected that I would find the text exceedingly corrupt, given the limited power of the human mind to accurately copy something not written phonetically.

I was right. Taking 3 exemplars off the internet, I christened them Webices A, B, and C according to their diminishing length. I used Webex A as the diplomatic text, on the theory that cyberscribes are more likely, when tediously keying in nonphonetic characters, to omit rather than to add. To make it a little easier on the typist (me, since I lack any graduate assistants to whom I could assign the task), I left out the opening and closing commas in each exemplar while preparing the critical text. In fact, due to the aforementioned difficulties and the great chance that I would only add a few more errors of my own, I skipped compiling a critical text altogether and simply gave my reconstruction of the original, before an authorized redactor had prepared the archetype of which these exemplars are multiple-generation copies. Mark that I also did not bother to try to form a genealogical schema, given the paucity of evidence and lack of provenance.

Without further ado, here are cyberfacsimilies of the three webices:

WEBEX A (representative of the "Eastern Establishment" Text)
I cdnoult blveiee taht I cloud aulaclty uesdnatnrd waht I was rdgnieg!
THE PAOMNNEHAL PWEOR OF THE HMUAN MNID
Aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosnt mttaer in waht oredrthe ltteers in a wrod are, the olny ipromoatnt tihng is taht the firist and lsat ltteer be in the rghit pclae! The rset can be a taotl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid does not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe! Amzanig Huh?

WEBEX B (Representative of the "Orthodox Corruption" text)
Ddni't tinhk taht you cloud aulactly uesdnatnrd waht you aer rdanieg did you? Phaononmneal pwoer of the hmuan mnid, aoccdrnig to rscheearch at Cmabdirge Uivervtisy, it denos't mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny ipromoatnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be in the rghit pclae. the rset can be a taotl mses and yuor mnid can slitl raed it wouthit a porbelm. Pettry amzanig, huh? And I awlyas tguhot slpeling was ipmorantt.

WEBEX C (Representative of the "Wild West" text)
Aoccdrnig to rseaecrch at Hravard Uinervtisy, it deosn’t mttaer waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny ipromoatnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be in the rghit pclae. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe. Or, it cuold be bcuseae too mcuh parytnig has totlaly msesed up yuor mnid.

And now, the critical edition, leaving out the obvious later additions to the text:

Webex A

Aoccdrnig to a1 rscheearch2 at Cmabrigde3 Uinervtisy4, it deosnt5 mttaer in6 waht oredrthe7 ltteers in a wrod are, the olny ipromoatnt tihng is taht the firist8 and lsat ltteer be in the rghit pclae! 9 The rset can be a taotl mses and you10 can sitll11 raed it wouthit 12 porbelm. 13 Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid does14 not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe! 15Amzanig Huh?

Webex B

aoccdrnig to rscheearch at Cmabdirge Uivervtisy, it denos't mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny ipromoatnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be in the rghit pclae. the rset can be a taotl mses and yuor mnid can slitl raed it wouthit a porbelm. Pettry amzanig, huh?

Webex C

Aoccdrnig to rseaecrch at Hravard Uinervtisy, it deosn’t mttaer waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny ipromoatnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be in the rghit pclae. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe.

CA
1. a B, C omit
2. rscheearch C rseaecrch
3. Cmabridge B Cmabdirge C Hravard
4. Uinervtisy B Uivervtisy
5. deosnt B denos’t C deosn’t
6. in C omit
7. orderthe B, C order the
8. firist B, C frist
9. The . . .porbelm C omit entire verse
10. you B yuor mnid
11. sitll B slitl
12. - B add a
13. Tihs . . . wlohe B omit
14. does C deos
15. - B add Pettry; C omit entire verse

And now, for my carefully prepared reconstruction of the original text, with marks of doubt in the footnotes:

THE PHENOMENAL POWER OF THE HUMAN MIND
According to research1 at Cambridge2 University, it doesn’t matter in what order the letters in a word are, the only important thing is that the first and last letter be in the right place! The rest can be a total mess and you can still read it without a problem. This is because the human mind does not read every letter by itself, but the word as a whole. 3Amazing, huh?

1 This may have originally been 'a researcher', but textual evidence (an extraneous 'c' in one text and a 'ch' in another) does not support this. Both variants probably arose because of poor spelling.

2. The question is whether "Cambridge" or "Harvard" is original. Since Oxford is better known for linguistic research, "Cambridge" is the harder reading for a British original. "Harvard" is probably a Western corruption, as it is not known for linguistic research, but prestigiously speaking, Yarvard are analogous to Oxbridge.

3. This last verse appears not to have been original to the Pericope. The core passage concludes with the Abrupt Ending (verse omitted), the Long Ending (Pretty Amazing, Huh) and the Short Ending (Amazing, huh). But 'Pettry' does not fit with the style of the author, who never transposes only a single pair of letters in a multisyllabic word. We would expect something like 'ptetry'. So this word has less claim to authenticity than 'amzanig'. However, given their absence in one cyberscript, it is most likely that both the Short and Long ending were added by a later author trying to replicate the style of the original. Of course, the possibility exists that the original ending has been lost; perhaps the Clipboard wouldn't hold it.

Wednesday, 10 October 2007

Memorial Day Story

Counter
I get a lot of viral emails (also known as forwarded emails) from a person very dear to me (otherwise I probably wouldn't read them). This one aroused my curiosity, because it seemed very verifiable. Dates and names are given--a rarity in such emails. Let's start with the text:

I just wanted to get the day over with and go down to Smokey's for a few cold ones. Sneaking a look at my watch, I saw the time, 1655. Five minutes to go. Full dress was hot in the August sun. Oklahoma summertime was as bad as ever -- the heat and humidity at the same level -- too d***ed high.

I saw the car pull into the drive, '69 or '70 model Deville, looked factory-new. It pulled into the parking slot at a snail's pace. An old woman got out so d***ed slow I thought she was paralyzed. She had a cane and a sheaf of flowers, about four or five bunches as best I could tell. I couldn't help myself. The thought came unwanted, and left a slightly bitter taste:
"S***! She's going to spend an hour, my d***ed hip hurts like h*** and I'm ready to get the h*** out of here right, b*-***, now!"

But my duty was to assist anyone coming in. Kevin would lock the "in" gate and if I could hurry the old biddy along, we might make the last half of happy hour. I broke Post Attention. The hip made gritty noises when I took the first step and the pain went up a notch. I must have made a real military sight; middle-aged man with a small pot-gut and half a limp, in Marine Full Dress Uniform, which had lost its razor crease about 30 minutes after I began the watch.

I stopped in front of her, halfway up the walk. She looked up at me with an old woman's squint. "Ma'am, can I assist you in anyway?"

She took long enough to answer. "Yes, son. Can you carry these flowers. I seem to be moving a tad slow these days."

"My pleasure Ma'am. "Well, it wasn't too much of a lie.

She looked again. "Marine, where were you stationed?"

"Vietnam, ma'am. Ground-pounder. '69 to '71."

She looked at me closer. "Wounded in action, I see. Well done, Marine. I'll be as quick as I can."

I lied a little bigger. "No hurry, Ma'am."

She smiled, and winked at me. "Son, I'm 85-years old and I can tell a lie from a long way off. Let's get this done. Might be the last time I can come. my name's Joanne Wieserman, and I've a few Marines I'd like to see one more time."

"Yes, ma'am. At your service"

She headed for the World War I section, stopping at a stone. She picked one of the bunches out of my arm and laid it on top of the stone. She murmured something I couldn't quite make out. The name on the marble was Donald S. Davidson, USMC, France 1918.

She turned away and made a straight line for the World War II section, stopping at one stone. I saw a tear slowly tracking its way down her cheek. She put a bunch on a stone; the name was Stephen X. Davidson, USMC, 1943.

She went up the row a ways and laid another bunch on a stone, Stanley J. Wieserman, USMC, 1944. She paused for a second, "Two more, son, and we'll be done."

I almost didn't say anything, but, "Yes, ma'am. Take your time."

She looked confused. "Where's the Vietnam section, son? I seem to have lost my way."

I pointed with my chin. "That way, ma'am."

"Oh!" she chuckled quietly. "Son, me and old age ain't too friendly."

She headed down the walk I'd pointed at. She stopped at a couple of stones before she found the ones she wanted. She place a bunch on LarryWieserman USMC, 1968, and the last on Darrel Wieserman USMC, 1970. She stood there and murmured a few words I still couldn't make out.

"OK, son, I'm finished. Get me back to my car and you can go home."

"Yes, ma'am. If I may ask, were those your kinfolk?"

She paused. "Yes, Donald Davidson was my father; Stephan was my uncle; Stanley was my husband; Larry and Darrel were our sons. All killed in action, all Marines."

She stopped, whether she had finished, or couldn't finish, I don't know. And never have.

She made her way to her car, slowly, and painfully. I waited for a polite distance to come between us and double-timed it over to Kevin waiting by the car. "Get to the out-gate quick, Kev. I have something I've got to do."

Kev started to say something but saw the look I gave him. He broke the rules to get us there down the service road. We beat her, she hadn't made it around the rotunda yet.

"Kev, stand to attention next to the gate post. Follow my lead."

I humped it across the drive to the other post. When the Cadillac came puttering around from the hedges and began the short straight traverse to the gate, I called in my best gunny's voice:"Tehen Hut! Present Haaaarms!" I have to hand it to Kev, he never blinked an eye; full dress attention and a salute that would make his DI proud.

She drove through that gate with two old worn-out soldiers giving her a send off she deserved, for service rendered to her country, and for knowing Duty, Honor and Sacrifice.

I am not sure, but I think I saw a salute returned from that Cadillac.

Okay, to begin with, this is not the version I got by email (the cuss words had been removed, along with a few minutiae, and "Deville" had been translated as "Cadillac"). But I found this on a website dated June 19, 2002, so it must be one of the "oldest and best" copies in the electronic manuscript stream. Note that Mrs.Wieserman is 85, which puts her birth no later than 1917, just before her father would have gone off to war. The story could be a little older than that, naturally, but we are obviously dealing with a vorlage of at least five years' antiquity.

One of the first suspicious items in the story--and there are several--is the strange juxtaposition of names. Stephen (especially Stephan) and Davidson are English names--therefore not very likely to be Catholic, but the middle initial X is very likely Xavier, a typically Catholic name. Nothing too strange so far, except that Miss Davidson married a man with a typically Jewish last name. But maybe he was a Catholic convert, because her behavior at his tomb is much more in keeping with Catholic ceremony than Jewish.

Let's try to flesh out a timeline here.
Donald S. Davidson--probably born sometime before 1892-95. Killed 1918 at age 23-26.
Stephen/an X. Davidson--could have been born as late as 1910 or so. Killed 1943, at least in his 30's.
Stanley J. Wieserman-- probably born around 1915. Killed 1944 around age 29.
Joanne Davidson--born no later than 1917. Married around 1937.
Larry Wieserman--born before 1942, killed 1968 around age 26-30.
Darrel Wieserman-- born before 1942, killed 1970 around age 28-30.

The first thing we notice is how old these Marines were. The majority of soldiers killed in combat are less than 25 years old (ETA: a list of the 11 Marines killed on active duty during one week in July 2011 yields a range in age from 21 to 29, with a mean of 24.8 and a median of 24; none were 25). All of these were older than that. As old as Stephen was, he would most likely have been a high-ranking noncom; men that old rarely qualify to enlist as a Marine recruit. Thus his tombstone for sure, if not all tombstones, would have borne a rank, if I understand military tombstone policy correctly. So another blow is struck to the authenticity of this story.

The final blow, though, comes from the Vietnam War Memorial. It shows no one named Wieserman killed in the war:

WIESE, ROBERT JAMES (CPL/Marine Corps) ST ANN, MO.
WIESE, THOMAS ARTHUR (CPL/Army) MULLEN, NE.
WIESENDANGER, LAWRENCE LOU (PFC/Army) METAIRIE, LA.
WIESER, LYNN JAY (PFC/Army) GOTHENBURG, NE.
WIESKUS, WILLIAM CLEMENS (SSG/Army) INDIANAPOLIS, IN.

Misspelled the last name? That dog won't hunt, either, although some recensions of this legend have tried it:

WEISE, RICHARD RAYMOND (PFC/Army) ST PETER, MN.
WEISHEIT, LONNIE HAROLD (CPL/Army) LYNNVILLE, IN.
WEISLER, JAMES R (SGT/Air Force) MINNEAPOLIS, MN

So, we have here a classic example of pseudohistory: A short story, penned anonymously, and promiscuously passed on as a first-person account. Easily checked for veracity, but with an emotional appeal that discourages such a crass approach.

By the way, "Present-Arms" is a command that can only be given to a soldier under arms. "Sa-lute" is the appropriate command for an unarmed soldier. So this legend, at least in its majority text version, wasn't even written by a real Marine.

* * *
I came across another text of this cyberscript that appears to be more original. A little fact-checking could help, since the source is actually named in the text. At any rate, the core dialog of the pericope is intact, but it is told in the third rather than the first person (making the cuss words a later interpolation). Here it is:


The story is told often. I first heard it in a sermon by Dr. Robert H. Schuller of "Hour of Power" fame at the Crystal Cathedral in Garden Grove, Calif. You probably know about him through his many books on the "Power of Possibility Thinking." So for a moment, let's share the spirit of Thanksgiving in Dr. Schuller's simple story passed along to him by a dear friend years ago.

A simple story

Here's the story as Dr. Schuller tells it:

Two retired U.S. Marines were a bit overweight and had some creaking in their hips, but they still wore their dress uniforms when they were assigned to take charge of the Marine Corps cemetery. This day they couldn't wait for the day to end. They were ready to close the front gate when they saw a large old Cadillac drive up with an old woman behind the wheel.

This is what my friend writes: "I thought, oh gee, here goes another 15 minutes before we can lock up."

As she pulled her car into the curb, she got out slowly and said, "Son." I said, "Ma'am, can I help you?"

She took a long time to answer. "Yes, can you help me carry some of these flowers?" And she had five little bouquets of flowers. She said, "I move a little slow these days." Then she asked, "Son, where were you stationed?"

I said, "Vietnam, ma'am, ground pounder. '69 to '71." She looked at me more closely. "Wounded in action, I see. Well done! Marine, I'll be as quick as I can."

I lied. "No hurry, ma'am." She smiled and winked at me and said, "I'm 85 years old, I can tell a lie when I see it. My name is Joanne Wieserman and I met a few Marines and I'd like to see them one more time."

"Yes ma'am, at your service." She knew exactly where she wanted to go. She headed for the World War I section, then stopping at a stone, she picked one of the bunches of flowers out of my arms, laid it on top of the stone and murmured something I couldn't hear. But then I read the name on the marble, Donald S. Davidson, USMC France, 1918.

Then she turned away and made a straight line for the World War II section. Stopping at one stone I saw a tear roll down her check. She put more flowers on the stone with the name, Steven X. Davidson, USMC 1943.

Then she went further in the same row and laid another bunch of flowers on a stone with the name Stanley J. Wieserman, USMC 1944. Wieserman - that was her name! She paused for a second, and then said, "Two more, son, and we'll be done and you can go home."

I didn't say anything but "Yes, ma'am, take your time." Then she looked confused, "Where is the Vietnam section? Son, I seem to have lost my way." So I pointed, "That way, ma'am."

"Oh," she chuckled quietly, "me and my age don't get along too well once in a while." And she headed down the walk, stopped at a couple of stones, then she found the ones she wanted and there she placed a small bouquet of flowers at the stone of Larry Wieserman, USMC 1968 (that's her name, too). And then near it, she placed the last cluster of flowers on a stone with the name Darryl Wieserman, USMC 1970. She murmured a few words that I couldn't hear. "Okay, son, all finished. Just get me back to my car and you can go home."

"Yes ma'am. If I may ask, were these your kinfolk?" She paused, "Yes. Donald Davidson, 1917, France, was my father. Stephen Davidson was my bother. And Stanley, you recognized the name -- it's my name, he was my husband. And Larry and Darryl were our sons. All were killed in action! All were Marines."

She didn't say anything more as she kept walking to her car, opened the door, then closed it quietly. I watched. I waited. Then, as her car began to leave I quickly rushed to Kevin, my overweight Marine Corps buddy in his dress uniform. I ordered, "Get to the front gate! Quick. Take the service road. We need to get to the front gate before her. We have got something we must do. So just do what I do. Don't ask any questions."

Kevin could see I was very urgent so we rushed ahead and got to the front gate before her car rounded the cemetery drive and aimed for the front gate. Kevin stood at his post and I stood at mine. As the car came slowly to the gate, I shouted: "Attention! Post arms!" We both saluted and as she drove through, I thought I saw her salute us back.

Duty, honor, service. None of those whose graves she visited had given more than she did.

Tuesday, 9 October 2007

A Religious Test of Office

Dennis Rawlings is the editor, publisher, and prime contributor to DIO, a whistleblowing journal that focuses on the historical side of psuedoscience.
Inasmuch as this area is my specialty, I thoroughly enjoy reading about such things as the debunking of both Peary's and Byrd's claim to reach the North Pole.
However, as I read further, I realized that I am interestingly disqualified to submit articles to this journal myself. Here is what the journal states as its policy:

DIO is primarily a journal of scientific history & principle. However, high scholarship and/­or original analytical writing (not necessarily scientific or historical), from any quarter or faction, will be gladly received and considered for publication. Each author has final editorial say over his own article. If refereeing occurs, the usual handsome-journal anonymity will not, unless in reverse. No page charges. Each author receives 50 free offprints.
The circumstance that most DIO articles are written by scholars of international repute need not discourage other potential authors, since one of DIO's purposes is the discovery & launching of fresh scholarly talent.
Except for equity&charity reply-­space material, submissions will be evaluated without regard to the writer's status or identity. We welcome papers too original, intelligent, and­or blunt for certain handsome journals. (Dissent & controversy are per se obviously no bar to consideration for DIO publication; but, please: spare us the creationist-­level junk. I.e., non­establishment cranks need not apply.)


As a crank who is outside of the establishment, I am barred from submitting an article in my own name. This is a religious test of office.

Wednesday, 26 September 2007

Messianic Christian: Oxymoron or Pleonasm?

An article by Dave Hunt, whom I highly respect but by no means worship, caused me pause when I read it today. In it he basically claims that there is no such thing as a "Messianic Christian." To quote:

"The term "Messianic Christian" makes an unbiblical distinction between two classes of Christians: "Messianic" and "Non-Messianic." Yet Jews and Gentiles who believe the gospel have been made one in Christ. If one is a Christian, whether Jew or Gentile, he has believed on Christ the Messiah as Lord and Savior."

While Dave has his views and I have mine, I'm convinced that he is uninformed here. There is in fact a very biblical distinction between Messianic and non-Messianic believers, and it was the source of the contention behind the Jerusalem Council recorded in Acts 15. In this context, Messianic believers are referred to as Judaizers, or in the language of the Apostle Paul to the Philippians, "the concision."

The Council of Laodicea of around 365 decreed:
"Christians must not judaize by resting on the Sabbath, but must work on that day, rather honouring the Lord's Day; and, if they can, resting then as Christians. But if any shall be found to be Judaizers, let them be anathema from Christ."

But before we get into that, I have to agree with Dave that on its face, "Messianic Christian" is a bit of a pleonasm--that is, a compound term in which both elements refer to the same thing. "Messianic" is the Hebrew/English counterpart to the Greek/English "Christian."

But when Dave goes on to say that "I reject categorically the very word 'Messianic.' It is confusing and is not found in the Bible," I have to disagree. The English word may not be found in his English Bible, but inasmuch as it is semantically equivalent to "Christian," it is found twice--once in Acts 26:28 and once in 1 Peter 4:16, with the plural also found in Acts 11:26.

Furthermore, Dave writes that "The Hebrew word Messiah (mashiah) appears only twice in the Old Testament, both in the same passage (Daniel 9:25,26). The Greek form of it, Messias, appears only twice in the New Testament (Jn 1:41; 4:25)." This is linguistic balderdash. The Hebrew word mashia[c]h means 'anointed', and is so translated all of 35 times in the Old Testament (KJV). Most of these references are to men literally anointed for ministry, and some are unequivocally (at least from a Messianic perspective) in reference to Christ. The Psalm 2:2 reference, for example, is quoted in Acts 4:25 with the word mashiach translated as christou, or Christ.

Dave Hunt concludes, "In contrast to only four appearances of 'Messiah/Messias' in the entire [KJV English] Bible, the word 'Christ' (Gr. Christos) occurs hundreds of times in the New Testament. So it would seem more biblical to refer to 'Christ Movement,' or 'Christ Christians,' or 'Christ Jews' than to 'Messianic.'

Again, he misses the whole point that such a statement could not even be made in the original languages of the Old Testament, where the term first occurs. "Messianic Christian" is not an oxymoron; it is at most a tautology, and at least a specific term identifying a kind of people specifically identified in the Bible.

UPDATE October 2016:
Here is a scholarly argument for Dave Hunt's position.

Pseudoscience explained and demonstrated

Counter
An alert reader will notice that among the Labels for the posts on this blog is Pseudoscience. This may not be a familiar term to many, so I will try to explain what it means and why I use it.

Wikipedia defines it as:
Any body of knowledge, methodology, belief, or practice that claims to be scientific or is made to appear scientific, but does not adhere to the basic requirements of the scientific method.

The term pseudoscience is based on the Greek root pseudo- (false or pretending) and science (derived from Latin scientia, meaning knowledge). The first recorded use was in 1843 by French physiologist François Magendie.


Although pseudoscientific assertions are rampant in today's generation of educated fools, it takes so many forms that the word itself may not call to mind any specific example. I therefore offer one such example as a service to the reader, which I have seen printed off and left on the break-room table as important information for widest possible dissemination:
* * *
USELESS FACTS

A shrimp's heart is in its head.

The "sixth sick sheik's sixth sheep's sick" is said to be the toughest tongue twister in the English language.

Rats multiply so quickly that in 18 months, two rats could have over a million descendants.

Wearing headphones for just an hour will increase the bacteria in your ear by 700 times.

If the government has no knowledge of aliens, then why does Title 14, Section 1211 of the Code of Federal Regulations, implemented on July 16 1969, make it illegal for U.S. citizens to have any contact with extraterrestrials or their
vehicles?

In every episode of Seinfeld there is a Superman somewhere.

A duck's quack doesn't echo, and no one knows why.

23% of all photocopier faults world-wide are caused by people sitting on them and photocopying their butts.

Most lipstick contains fish scales.

Like fingerprints, everyone's tongue print is different.

If you sneeze too hard, you can fracture a rib. If you try to suppress a sneeze, you can rupture a blood vessel in your head or neck and die.

If you keep your eyes open by force, they can pop out.

In a study of 200,000 ostriches over a period of 80 years, no one reported a single case where an ostrich buried its head in the sand.

It is physically impossible for pigs to look up into the sky.

A pregnant goldfish is called a twit.

More than 50% of the people in the world have never made or received a telephone call.

Horses can't vomit.

Butterflies taste with their feet.

In 10 minutes, a hurricane releases more energy than all of the world's nuclear weapons combined.

On average, 100 people choke to death on ballpoint pens every year.

On average people fear spiders more than they do death.

Ninety percent of New York City cabbies are recently arrived immigrants.

Thirty-five percent of the people who use personal ads for dating are already married.

Elephants are the only animals that can't jump.

Only one person in two billion will live to be 116 or older.

It's possible to lead a cow upstairs...but not downstairs.

Women blink nearly twice as much as men.

It's physically impossible for you to lick your elbow.

The Main Library at Indiana University sinks over an inch every year because when it was built, engineers failed to o take into account the weight of all the books that would occupy the building.

A snail can sleep for three years.

No word in the English language rhymes with "MONTH."

Our eyes are always the same size from birth, but our nose and ears never stop growing.

The electric chair was invented by a dentist.

All polar bears are left handed.

In ancient Egypt, priests plucked EVERY hair from their bodies, including their eyebrows and eyelashes.

An ostrich's eye is bigger than its brain.

TYPEWRITER is the longest word that can be made using the letters only on one row of the keyboard.

"Go!" is the shortest complete sentence in the English language.

If Barbie were life-size, her measurements would be 39-23-33. She would stand seven feet, two inches tall.

A crocodile cannot stick its tongue out.

The cigarette lighter was invented before the match.

Americans on average eat 18 acres of pizza every day.

Almost everyone who reads this email will try to lick their elbow.

* * *

Now, some of this information is verifiably factual: the vomitless horse and the tasty butterfly feet, for example. Other of it is statistically based, and thus only as good as the data that went into it.

But some of these assertions simply beggar belief. Upon further investigation, however, they all seem to have some basis in fact, most likely dredged up from the Internet.

The duck's quack not echoing, for instance. I at once saw through this as physically impossible, but looked it up anyway at at Scopes (click on the link for their report). It turns out that ducks' quacks do rarely cause an audible echo, but not due to any characteristics particular to the genus. So perhaps there is some basis to this claim.

Another example is the cigarette lighter claim. The cigarette itself wasn't invented before the match was, so how could the cigarette ligher have been? Well, it turns out that this website makes the following claim:

The cigarette lighter was invented before the match. In 1816, a German chemist named J.W. Dobereiner devised a way of automatically igniting a jet of hydrogen. Unfortunately, it required powdered platinum to act as a catalyst.

But unfortunately for the pursuit of pseudoscience, the modern match had already been invented, at least as early as 1805. It was the matchbook that wasn't invented until the 1890's.

I could go on down through every one of these specious claims and try to track down where they originated, and how they have since been twisted almost beyond recognition, but I simply can't be bothered. Suffice it to say that the Internet in general, and mass forwarded emails in particular, are throroughly infested with pseudoscientific ideas masquerading as facts. Beware!

By the way, I didn't try to lick my elbow. Did you?

Friday, 7 September 2007

Birth Dearth threatens India's Parsi community

Counter
The Parsees of Bombay, due to several aspects of their unique culture, have exerted an influence on India far out of proportion to their numbers, which have never been over 100,000 but are now dropping at an alarming rate.

Due to their high emphasis on education and getting established in business or career, most Parsees put off marriage until later adulthood, with many never marrying at all. Women hate to put all that education to waste by staying home to raise large broods of children, so even those who do marry are limiting their family size to one or two children.

This unsustainable birth rate has caused demographers to predict that the Parsi population will drop in half with each succeeding generation unless something happens to reverse the trend.

Alongside the dearth of new Parsees is a dearth of their mortuary agents, the vultures who have traditionally consumed the corpses of their dead. These have been nearly wiped out by poor ecosystem management and, ironically, the Parsees have initiated a special breeding program to keep them from going extinct.

But unless a program of some similar nature is implimented for the Parsees themselves, there will, in only a few generations, be no need for the services of any new generations of vultures.

Why weddings can be deadly

So, the BBC reports that a US AC-130 gunship wiped out a wedding celebration in Afghanistan because it was thought to be coming under anti-aircraft fire.

Come on, people.
We all know that shooting of live AK-47 rounds into the air is a part of your cultural wedding practices, but let me tell you something.

There are planes up in that air, and they don't take kindly to sharing the skies with your bullets.

In fact, their bullets are a lot bigger, and do a whole lot more damage coming down than yours do going up.

Wedding guests just can't win in a shooting match with an AC-130.

So, until the skies clear of either armed planes or celebratory bullets, this sort of tragedy is bound to recur.

Thursday, 16 August 2007

Will the last Jew out of Baghdad please pull the drapes?

Counter
OK, corny title. But at least original. TIME's article is called The Last Jews of Baghdad. Here's an intersting quote:
-------------------------
"I don't want them to leave at all because the Jewish presence here is very important," White says. "But unless we care for them, I dread for what is going to happen to them. I do not want them to leave, but I think that is the only way."
-------------------------
I'm not sure what he's referring to. The presence of eight people on the Ark was certainly important, but how would ancient Babylonia suffer from eight fewer people who live in hiding already, too afraid to even worship at the last synagogue?

Actually, I think their departure would be far more significant. For thousands of years the Jews of the Diaspora have persisted in refusing to return from exile. Events of only the last 90 years have turned what for 2500 years had never been more than a trickle into a flood that has continued to gush forth in wave after wave of Jews returning to the land promised to the seed of their ancestor. To finally have the last Jew leave the land of their original exile would seem to portent something very significant.

The same scene may soon be played out in Iraq's neighbor to the East, the former Persia, where Daniel first read of the impending end of Jewry's forced exile. Here remains the largest Jewish population in any Muslim country, though only a quarter of its former size. While three-fourths have left Iran because they thought they could live better elsewhere, most of those who remain won't leave as long as they are reasonably sure it's the only way to live at all: Why leave? Really, it's OK here, and it's home"

Should conditions in Iran approach those in Iraq, the entire remnant of the Babylonian and Persian captivities may well find themselves elsewhere.

Where's that? Well, mostly not in Israel, for now anyway. America is the preferred destination; this does not bode well for that nation should a time come when all Jews everywhere will feel compelled to return to Israel. The only way it will happen here is if a virulently anti-Jewish regime comes to power. And that will not bode well for a host of people other than the Jews themselves.

Friday, 10 August 2007

The Lunar Sabbath and Pentecost

Counter
Since quite a few of the hits this blog has been receiving lately relate to the Lunar Sabbath question, this would be a good time to share the results of my ongoing research.

Earlier I said that I was leaving the Pentecost question for later, since it was the hardest to answer.

It's later.

The Pentecost problem is simply this: The Jews were instructed in Leviticus 23:16 to count "fifty days to the day after the seventh sabbath." According to the weekly sabbath calendar, the day after the seventh sabbath would in fact mark the 50th day. But in a lunar sabbath calander, seven weeks of sabbaths would not equal forty-nine days.

But is this (fifty days, to the day after) the meaning of the text, or could it actually mean "count fifty days--to the day--after the seventh sabbath--" which would mean fifty days AND seven sabbaths; approximately doubling the time being counted?

To answer this question, we begin with linguistics. The Greek language is much more precise than the Hebrew in matters of chronolgy, and this is how this passage (v.15-16) was translated into Greek around the time of Jesus:

Kai ariqhsete umin apo ths epaurion twn sabbatwn, apo ths hmeras hs an prosenegkhte to dragma tou epiqematos epta ebdomadas oloklhrous ews ths epaurion ths escaths ebdomados ariqmhsete penthkonta hmeras. . .

In English:
And ye shall number to yourselves from the day after the sabbath from the day on which ye shall offer the sheaf of the heave-offering seven full weeks until the morrow after the last week ye shall number fify days. . .

Here we see that the word "sabbath" and "week" are interchangeable in Greek, giving a possible meaning in this case that the fifty-day count comes after the seven-week count. Could this actually be the case?

There are several ways to test this hypothesis. First of all, we have several historical accounts of Passover and/or Pentecost given in the Scriptures, and we can glean clues from them as to what time of the year is actually in view. Let's look at these.

1. The first Passover occurred when the barely was ready to harvest but the wheat hadn't yet borne fruit. This is clear from Exodus 10:31ff. This gives us an idea that the wheat harvest was several months behind the barely harvest. In fact, historical records indicate that it was close to four months (John 4:35) until the next harvest. But note that in Leviticus 23, the feasts at both ends of this 7-week-and-50-day period require the bringing of FIRSTfruits; i.e. the first pick of the harvest of barley and wheat respectively. So the interval between these two festivals should coincide with the respective differences in harvest time of barley and wheat. Fifty days just isn't enough for a 3- to 4-month growing season.

2. The question may be asked, "But what if the wheat was planted earlier?" Unlikely as that may be, there would still be another question to be faced: the grape harvest. At Pentecost, the disciples were specifically accused of having had too much fresh grape juice to drink. This beverage is only available around the time of the grape harvest, and grapes in Palestine don't ripen until summer--putting us at least 100 days after Passover.

3. There are many verses that equate harvest, including grape harvest, with summer. Click on the title above for a link to some of them. Note that Gideon was using an empty winepress to thresh wheat, indicating that the grape harvest came somewhat later, at the end of the summer. One hundred five days after Passover would be just into the fifth month of the year, around mid-July on our calendar.

Understanding the 7+50 count gives us an interesting insight into the ministry of Jesus: Acts 1:3 says that he ascended forty days after his Resurrection, which coincided with the Firstfruits Sheaf Offering. Thus it was not ten days that his disciples spent awaiting the coming of the Spirit at Pentecost, but more than sixty. Only then was the Day of Pentecost fully come.

Tuesday, 7 August 2007

A Striking Blow to Global Warming

Counter
Creation on the Web has come out with a great article on Global Warming. Rather unusual for such a topic, CMI takes no position for or against; it simply reports on the latest developments in the debate.

And the latest developments are rather disastrous for the Global Warming camp.
Read the report here.

The video referred to in the article can be viewed on Youtube. Click on the title for the first segment.

For those who don't care to watch the whole video, here's a synopsis.

- Many of the scientists whose names are listed as supporting the IPCC's report, don't. Some have had to go to court to get their names removed from the list.
- Global Warming was unheard of before 1975
- Global Warming was first proposed in a BBC TV special in the late 1970's, as a good thing.
- Margaret Thatcher used the threat of Global Warming as a political weapon against striking mine workers
- The scientific data indicate that Global Warming is a direct result of solar activity, and CO2 levels are an indirect result (not a cause) of elevated temperatures.
- Global warming makes for milder weather, not more severe.
- Some of the same dire predictions being made by Global Warming chicken-littles were first broadcast by those warning of the same effects, but due instead to Global Cooling.
- Global Warming as a pseudo-religious political movement has taken on a life of its own, and anyone who opposes it is branded a heretic [much as happened 50 years earlier with Darwin's Theory].

As someone who lived through a few winters before the latest warming trend began, I have to say I'm glad for Global Warming and hope it continues.

Saturday, 4 August 2007

The Success of the Public School System

Counter
The Public School system in the Untited States, as overseen by the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers, is a big business--a very successful business, I propose.

Now, in any unregulated industry, only the successful businesses survive. Others go under. Granted, public eduction is a heavily regulated industry, but it thrives nonetheless, even in the face of serious competition. Why have public schools survived? It is because they are so good at what they do.

What do public schools do? Well, whether they are crime-ridden inner-city structures or posh suburban campuses, all public schools do one thing, and they do it well:

They pay teachers a lot of money.

A few years ago, the taxpayers of Kalkaska, Michigan, tried to change this. They cut funding to the school system so severely that all the students were dismissed and the schools for all intents and purposes shut down.

The Teachers, however, continued to get paid. Thus the school, even while closed, succeeded in its primary mission: To pay teachers a lot of money.

This is not the story you will get from the AFT. According to their website,

"Teachers, especially new ones, are finding it increasingly difficult to find affordable housing in their communities and to pay off student loan debts. These and other factors place the teaching profession—already plagued by high turnover and recruiting challenges—in further peril, according to the latest AFT teacher salary survey. The AFT teacher salary survey for the 2004-05 school year found that the average teacher salary was $47,602, a 2.2 percent increase from the previous year. The report asserts that, to make teacher pay competitive with pay in other professions by the end of the decade, teachers need a 30 percent raise—an additional investment in our children’s future of almost $15 billion per year. The 2005 salary survey also examines the impact of rising housing costs and student loan debt on teachers in the 50 largest cities."

Now, it may surprise my readers, but I am all in favor of teachers getting paid $30 or $40 an hour. In fact, I have some educational needs in my family for which I would be willing to put up such a sum myself.

I, however, take no joy in paying such sums for the supposed education of other men's children. And I forsee the day in which the Public School System will loose its monopoly on education, and be forced out of business because competent teachers will be able to earn more money in the private sector, and parents will be unwilling to continue turning their children over to substandard teachers when other options become available.

Why do I foresee the demise of the Public Schools?

Because they have a Flawed Business Plan. Paying teachers a lot of money is no way to build a business, as long as it is tied to the level of their perceived needs rather than to the level of their contribution to the education of children.

Monday, 30 July 2007

What is a mixed language?

Counter
Since about 1984, when the 10th Edition came out, I have been an avid reader of The Ethnologue, a resource that lists, categorizes, and describes every language known to science--all terrestrial, by the way.

Every edition--which comes out approximately every four years--lists more languages than the one before. The main reason for this is that formerly listed languages are constantly being examined and determined to actually consist of two or more languages closely related, but distinct enough for each to rate its own listing.

In addition to the usual Language Family taxonomy (which has also grown and evolved over the years), several languages are also listed in group headings such as Gypsy Languages, Creole Languages, Pidgin Languages, Jewish Languages, Deaf Languages, and Mixed Languages. One category, listed as a Language Family, should also be listed here, which is Artificial (made-up) Languages. All 3 of the ones currently listed could also be listed under Indo-European Languages--although there are more recent ones, not yet listed, that couldn't. More specifically, these 3 (and, to some extent, all others) are all based on Latin, so they could even be further described as Romance Languages.

Here, however, we encounter a problem of classification: What about languages that trace their immediate ancestry back to two different language families? The artificial language Esperanto, for example, borrows just as heavily from the Germanic family as from the Romance. So, some have pointed out, does English. Why then is English listed in the a Germanic Family, then, when only about half of its basic vocabulary (and almost none of its technical vocabulary) comes from its Germanic parent Anglo-Saxon?

The answer could be that the definition of a Mixed Language has never been nailed down. Linguists encountering a tribal language that combined grammatical elements of one language family with vocabulary of another were quick to list it as a "mixed language," never realizing that their own native tongue did exactly the same.

The main gypsy language spoken in England, Angloromani, has undergone an interesting transformation over the years. Listed in the Ethnologue until 1988 as a Indo-Aryan language akin to all the other Romani tongues, it was suddenly found in the 11th Edition to be a Germanic Language more closely related to English than any Germanic language of the Continent. What gives? Merely because Angloromani is replete with English-derived nouns and sentence structure, an expert had reclassified it as a form of English. This classification was perpetuated clear through to the recently released 15th Edition, which wisely compromised by assigning Angloromani to the Mixed Language category.

This phenomenon is sure to continue. Take Pennsylvania Dutch, a Mennonite dialect of German that is now at least 35% English and grows more so with each passing generation. Even stereotypical Pennsylvania Dutch phraseology like "throw the horse over the fence some hay" is usually now heard only in ethnic jokes. The language is changing because all Pennsylvania Dutch speakers, monolingual as they typically are their first few years of life, are educated in English, and they find it impossible to resist slipping words, phrases, and even whole sentences of that language into their everyday conversations.

Guess what: It's the same exact thing as happened to English itself, some 800 years earlier. All education in England was conducted in French and Latin, with the result that words from those two languages so overwhelmed the native language of Englishmen that they ceased to speak it altogether in its pure form. So English itself is a mixed language of Saxon and French.

But how about French? Well, it was the result of cosmopolitan Franks learning Vulgar Latin. Frankish was a Germanic tongue that left its heavy footprints all over the result of the mixture with Vulgar Latin. Add to that the influence of Norse, and you have the Norman French that became the language of Norman England for several centuries until it was subsumed into the new mixed language of Middle English.

Vulgar Latin--what was that? Well, it was somewhat of a mixture of educated Latin and the Celtic dialects native to Gaul, which was later overrun by the Franks.

You can see how this goes on. Latin itself bears a lot of influence from Greek; Greek from Hebrew; Hebrew from ancient Egyptian, Babylonian, and Persian. No language that is spoken by people educated in another language can long remain pure.

Take Maltese, for example. Originally the Arabic tongue spoken by Muslim conquerors in the 700's, it suffered a long and unrelenting pressure first from the Norman French spoken by the counter-invaders of the 800's, but then from the Italian spoken by Malta's greatest trading partner once it was wrenched once and for all from the Caliphate. Then the English took possession, and for the last two centuries all linguistic development has tended in their direction. Today, a native of either Italy or Arabia respectively, fluent in English, could read a Maltese publication with quite a high level of comprehension--depending on whether the subject matter is technical (Italian/English) or conversational (Arabic/Italian). A mixed language--or just a dual vocabulary?

So what exactly is the difference between a language that is merely influenced by another, and one that is actually a mixture of two distinct languages? It's still hard to say, but expect this category--still limited to only 9 languages in the 14th Edition of the Ethnologue but up to 21 by the 15th--to keep growing as linguists come to grips with the reality of the situation. Maybe, someday, even English will make the list.

Thursday, 19 July 2007

Nature had it first--and had it right the first time!

Counter

There appear to be two languages spoken by scientists. Here is an example of the one, in which they study nature in a detached and condescending way, as if they could have done a far better job if they were in charge:
* * * * *
"Phylogenetic group contributed in a highly significant way to explain the considerable variation in bird flight speeds that remained, even after the biometrical dimensions of the bird species had been taken into account," Alerstam reported.

This matches what would be expected from evolution, says Tobalske. Instead of making a perfect bird, evolution does the best it can from the animals that are around to evolve flight. What’s more, he said, the real world is always changing in unpredictable ways that require birds to adapt to keep pace or die out. Few adaptations that help different birds survive also make them the best fliers.

It’s an example of what’s called the Red Queen Hypothesis, said Tobalske, referring to the character in Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass.

"The Red Queen is running just to stay in place," Tobalske told Discovery News. Evolution does the same with birds: keeping them in constant evolutionary motion, but never allowing them to get any closer to aerodynamic perfection.
--from discovery.com

* * * *

Here is an example of the other, in which they stand in awe and practically stutter at the perfection they observe in nature, one far beyond their ability to produce or even predict (I lost the example I was going to use, but this will have to do for now):

"The researchers found that the major factors involved in determining ideal wing position were speed, and the angle of the wings relative to the ground. Not surprisingly, extended wings were best for slow gliding, since they increase lift and allow the bird to float longer on a breeze. As speed picks up, drag forces increase and swept-back wings become more advantageous.

The results on turning were more surprising. In general, extended wings are better for turns, providing stability and lift that smooth the turn. For high-speed turns, however, swifts invariably sweep back their wings, and the researchers discovered that this behavior is due not to aerodynamics, but to the fragility of their wings. Extended wings can fracture under the extreme force generated during a fast turn, while swept-back wings are safe, mostly because they don't flutter.

The realization that extended wings are vulnerable to breakage during fast turns is one of several aspects of the study that may be useful in designing aircraft. Another is the proof that fully extended wings are best for generating lift; previous studies with artificial wings had suggested that swept-back wings actually give a better boost. A few high tech planes, such as the F-14 Tomcat fighter plane, already use flexible wings, but Lentink hopes his findings will help make aircraft wings even more efficient. Tomcats can sweep back their wings when they fly at super high speeds, but their abilities are primitive compared to those of swifts. "The swifts are just better at it," he told news@nature.com. "The amount of feathers and muscle involved is challenging for us to imitate."
-from worldalmanac.com

* * * * *
For some odd reason, articles of the second sort are typically rife with factual errors. Articles of the first sort could often be considered free of these, but only because they are almost pure hypothesis, without any factual claims subject to being disproven.

Thursday, 12 July 2007

I'm Back!

Counter
Due to technical difficulties beyond our control . . .
I haven't been able to access my own blog because my computer for some reason isn't accepting javascript. This causes the Blogger signing page (and any Blogger comment page I open) to continually refresh.
Solution?
I'm using Firefox now instead of Internet Explorer. No problem!

Some articles I'm tossing around in my head right now include:
Are the Amish a Cult?
What is a Mixed Language?
Is Linguistic Taxonomy Eurocentric?
and a few others I can't think of now but will later.

Friday, 8 June 2007

Stuck on Stupid

Counter
From the AFA:
For the 13th month out of the last 15, the boycott of Ford Motor Company by AFA and other pro-family groups has helped cause Ford to lose sales. Sales dropped 6.8% during May when compared with May 2006.

The drop came as sales for GM [up 9.6%], Chrysler [up 4.3%] and Toyota [up 14%]were all increasing. Of the big four, only Ford showed a loss.

AFA has identified Ford as a leading corporate promoter of homosexual marriage and the homosexual agenda. More than 700,000 individuals have signed the Boycott Ford Pledge.

Even while losing billions of dollars and laying off of thousands of employees, Ford continues to financially support various homosexual groups.
*
I must admit I'm at a loss to see what Ford's purpose is in all this. Surely they realize that the conservative voting bloc outnumbers the pro-homosexual voting bloc by several orders of magnitude in this country. Or did no one notice when Jerry Falwell died?

One of my hobbies is taking surveys, and now that I think of it, even though I've taken several automobile-related surveys in the past year, none of them linked to my conservative stance--unlike all of the political surveys I took, and I don't even vote.

It appears to be a bad case of Head In The Sand Syndrome. Or Stuck On Stupid Disease.

UPDATE 2013
Ford Motor Company sales zoomed after AFA called off their boycott.

Thursday, 7 June 2007

Head Covering and History

Counter
Should Christians be baptized in the nude?

My readers may wonder why I've started out an article on head covering with such a startling question. What reason, they may further inquire, could there possibly be for such a practice?

Well, this is an important question to keep in mind as we consider the historical ramifications of The Head Covering. Because you see, it is recorded in Church History that the early Christians practiced Nude Baptism. Despite a widespread desire to return to the practices of the Early Church, I know of no such practice today among adult Christians--in fact even the most modesty-obsessed sects today practice Mixed Baptism, as opposed to the practice of our spiritual forefathers who were accustomed to being surrounded only by members of the same gender when they emerged from the baptismal waters in their Birthday Suits.*

No Nude Baptism? Then we cannot use the practice of the Early Church as an infallible guide for own own. But how about the beliefs of the Church Fathers--can we not use them as a guide to understanding Scripture?

Is it of any significance that the women of the Early Church covered their heads in prayer, and that it was universally believed that such a covering must consist of something other than their own natural covering of long hair?

As it turns out, an entire treatise on the subject has come down to us from antiquity. Let's take a look at it. It's by Tertullian, who wrote around the turn of the 3rd century, and it's called On the Veiling of Virgins.

Let's establish a few things right off the bat:

1) By veil, Tertullian refers to a cloth covering coextant with the unbound hair:
The region of the veil is co-extensive with the space covered by the hair when unbound; in order that the necks too may be encircled.

2. In Tertullian's world, all Christian women recognize a need for such a distinct covering, although they are not always consistent in wearing one of sufficient size:
(who) even when about to spend time in prayer itself, with the utmost readiness place a fringe, or a tuft, or any thread whatever, on the crown of their heads, and suppose themselves to be covered?

3. It can be seen from the above quote that the recognized primary purpose of the Head Covering was to comply with the specific requirements of 1 Corinthians 11, although Tertullian's main point in this tractate was to urge the use of the Head Covering for reasons of modesty as well.

Tertullian assumes three basic points about the Head Covering; these are the undisputed facts, universal custom based on Scripture:

1) It is to characterize, along with long hair, the feminine gender
2) It is to be worn in conjunction with public worship and prayer
3) It serves two purposes: not only as a symbol of headship, but also as a protector of modesty.

Building on these assumptions, Tertullian makes the following applications, which he realizes are not universal in the Church, but supposes that they should be:
1) All females who have reached puberty should wear this sign of their gender--not just wives.
2) Women should customarily wear their hair completely covered so as no not have to grab for any old thing to plop on their heads when circumstances arise to require it.
3) Women should keep their hair out of view, not only among strangers, but also in the relaxed confines of the church.

Did Tertullian's applications establish an obligation for Christians of all time? No, he was giving his opinions and was certainly entitled to them, but they do not reflect the direct teaching of Scripture, nor the universal understanding of the Church.

But do Tertullian's writings serve any other purpose? Yes, they certainly do. They demonstrate that the undisputed interpretation of 1 Corinthians 11, among those who were in the best position to know, did not allow for the modern notion that Hair is the Covering. Whatever else it may have going for it, this interpretation flies in the face of two millennia of Church History.

Should we baptize in the nude? We have no reason for it, nor has any enduring sect of Christians seen any need to resurrect this ancient custom. It is not so much as hinted at in the New Testament, and goes against so much of what we do find there.

Should we cover our women? We have every reason to: the direct teaching of the Apostle, the testimony of saints of every age, and the unbroken custom of Christian women down through the centuries. Should it militate against the customs of our age, so be it; since when can any feature of Christianity be made comfortable to the unrepentant?

Postscript on Febuary 3, 2010:
Philip Payne posted the following interesting list of patristic quotes on the topic:
Macarius Aegyptius (d. c. AD 390), Homiliae spirituales 12.18, explicitly identifies the covering: “Question: Why is it said, ‘a woman praying with uncovered head?’ Answer: Since in the present apostolic time they have been permitted hair instead of a covering.” He specifically interprets 1 Cor 11:5 as referring to hair, not to a veil. Cf. See H. Dörries, E. Klostermann, and M. Kroeger, Die 50 geistlichen Homilien des Makarius (PTS 4; Berlin: DeGruyter, 1964.

Ambrose (c. AD 339–397), Duties of the Clergy 1.46.232, writes, “Is it comely that a woman pray unto God uncovered; doth not nature itself teach you that ‘If a woman have long hair, it is a glory unto her’? It is according to nature, since her hair is given her for a veil, for it is a natural veil.” NPNF2 10:37.

Chrysostom (c. AD 354–407) quotes 1 Cor 11:6b followed by 11:14b–15. He notes in hom. 26.4, “he said not, ‘let her have long hair,’ but, ‘let her be covered,’ ordaining both these to be one … he both affirms the covering and the hair to be one. . . But with regard to the man, it is no longer about covering but about wearing long hair, that he so forms his discourse. ‘Every man praying or prophesying, having any thing on his head, dishonoreth his head.’ He said not, ‘covered,’ but ‘having any thing on his head;’ signifying that even though he pray with the head bare, yet if he have long hair, he is like to one covered. ‘For the hair,’ saith he, ‘is given for a covering.’”

Clement of Alexandria, Paed. 3.11, writes, “It is enough for women to protect their locks, and bind up their hair simply along the neck with a plain hair-pin, nourishing chaste locks with simple care to true beauty.” ANF 2:286.


A detailed commentary by John Chrysostom on 1 Corinthians 11 can be found here. Clue: It can't possibly refer just to hair.

*UPDATE JULY 2014
It has come to my attention that the audiences at Christian baptisms were not this restricted.
 "Another Syrian woman, a servant called Mahya, was also stripped naked at her trial, but instead of feeling ashamed, she responded by saying:
It is to your shame … that you have done this; I am not ashamed of myself … I have been naked in the presence of men and women [referring to baptism] without feeling ashamed, for I am a woman – such as was created by God."  --Brock, S.P. and S.A. Harvey, 1987, Holy Women of the Syrian Orient, Berkeley.

However, I don't believe it. I looked up this quote, stripped of all the ellipses, and there is no reference to baptism--just to a loud, boisterous, and masculine woman who bragged of having been publicly naked many times.

Tuesday, 5 June 2007

Blog Survey

Counter
I now have considerably more than 12 readers, although by far most of the people who visit this blog don't read a thing.

Just in case someone wants to stay around long enough to fill out a survey, here is the link (feel free to skip any of the questions):
Please take my Blog Reader Project survey.

Why I won't be visiting the Creation Museum this weekend--or maybe ever

Counter
Addendum March 2013:
Well, I have visited the Creation Museum after all. Several times. But only because I was given a gift membership. I intend to return, but not as a paying member. Quite a bit of the museum can be accessed without a ticket.
Some of the information no longer available from CMI will be entered as a new post.

Addendum January 2011:
I may someday visit the Creation Museum--though I still have no such plans--but clearly I was not one of the first million people to do so.

Addendum May 2009:
All links to the CMI site now end up at this page:
CMI and AiG are pleased to inform you that the dispute between the ministries has been settled to their mutual satisfaction.
Each ministry is now focused on its respective mission, having put this dispute behind them in April of 2009.
Finally.

Creation Answers is an excellent magazine, and I'd like to give it as a gift subscription to my doctor's waiting room. But I won't be doing that any time soon, and I don't intend to renew my current subscription.

I have tracked the progress of the recently opened Creation Museum since before Answers in Genesis bought the land to build it on, but I've canceled my plans to visit it this weekend with my family.

I am interested in AIG getting out 'the other side of the story', but not at the expense of the truth.

Is Ken Ham telling the truth about why AIG no longer carries the Creation Magazine?

What follow are two versions of the story: that of Ken Ham, strongman at Answers in Genesis of Kentucky, and that of the board and membership of Creation Ministries International, AIG's estranged parent organization. CMI begins the article, with quotes interspersed from the AIG statement to which it is responding.
[FOR A BETTER FORMATTED EDITION, CLICK ON THE BLOG TITLE FOR A LINK]
----------------------------------------------------------
Having seen the below statement from AiG-US, that has gone to thousands across the world, we regret that the astonishing distortions of truth it contains necessitate a response (in the form of interspersed annotations) in the interests of truth. If you have not been one of the many who have been exposed to this amazing document, please accept our apologies for the inconvenience.
Sincerely,
Creation Ministries International

Answers in Genesis under Spiritual Attack June 1, 2007
(With interspersed responses, dated June 4, 2007, from Creation Ministries International. Although large numbers got this sent to them by AiG, CMI was not included. We are filled with dismay at the many distortions of truth and misleading comments in this, as we think will become apparent from our response, sadly. A document like this, which is in effect an ‘accusation against the brethren’, cannot be just ignored—truth matters. Perhaps reading this will help those unfortunate enough to have received it to become aware of why we had to, in an effort to be as open and transparent as possible, invite a formal ecclesiastical/judicial committee of enquiry to form under Clarrie Briese, the reports from which, plus other important documentation, can be found at http://www.webproclaim.com/emailmarketing/lt/t_go.php?i=1672&e=Mjk1MjgwMQ==&l=http://www.creationontheweb.com/briese2 )

Dear Friends of AiG,
On behalf of the Board of Directors of Answers in Genesis, we want to invite you to praise the Lord with us in the opening of the Creation Museum (and in the blessing He has poured out on the entire ministry). On the museum’s opening day, May 28, over 4,000 visitors attended, with more than 100 news media (over two days) also on hand to give the museum wide coverage all over the world. We enjoyed receiving well wishers from other ministries, such as the Institute for Creation Research (its president and chairman were present at the museum’s ribbon-cutting ceremony), the Christian Law Association, and others. We give thanks for the tremendous support from God’s people in prayer, gifts, and in museum attendance.
We pray and trust that the museum’s message will be heard by hundreds of thousands of people each year, and will not only affect the lives of many of God’s people, but see many others receiving the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior.
CMI comment: CMI staff had input into the early stages of the museum planning, before we were ‘cut off’. As we have said on our web site and in our Infobytes email newsletter, we are pleased that the museum is open and also hope that many will come under conviction and be saved through the museum’s message. This has nothing to do with the dispute.
The AiG board is committed to honoring the Lord and His Word not only in the museum, but in all the ministries of AiG. Our commitment to financial integrity, for example, is evidenced by our membership in the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA) arid by a special designation from MinistryWatch.com as a “top 30” ministry that people can give to with confidence.
CMI comment: Nor has this much to do with the dispute, as we don’t doubt that AiG-US follows proper audited accounting procedures, as required for a non-profit corporation under US law. However, from our experience of appealing to the ECFA for them to intervene re AiG’s switching our Creation magazine subscribers to their new ‘replacement’ magazine, an effective theft of hundreds of thousands of dollars that involved deceiving subscribers into thinking that our magazine was no longer available in the USA, we doubt that its imprimatur means much in terms of guaranteeing ethical behaviour overall.
In recent days, we received museum opposition from protestors, some media outlets, and through emails and on the internet. Indeed, AiG finds itself in a continuing spiritual warfare. Yet in all this, we give thanks to our Lord, for the Lord will use it for His glory.
CMI comment: Such opposition is the common lot of all who will stand for the truth of God’s Word. It has nothing to do with the CMI–AiG-US dispute. CMI is also subject to major opposition. However, such opposition does not of itself prove our godliness, righteousness, etc.
While we have received opposition from the secular world during this time, the most disappointing attack has come from our former sister ministry, Creation Ministries Int’l (CMI). On the eve of the opening of the museum, CMI sent letters and used the internet to publicly report on a dispute that is well over a year old. CMI sent us a letter, only 24 hours before the museum ribbon-cuffing ceremony, informing us they were filing a lawsuit against AiG and its president, Ken Ham, in an Australia court. They have now done so. Immediately after the opening of the museum, they sent letters to numerous (perhaps hundreds) of people and used the internet to publicly report the dispute.
CMI comment: This makes it seem as though CMI timed these events to be as nasty as possible. However, the reality is otherwise. Firstly, legal processes like the serving of writs (lawsuits) cannot be timed like this; such processes are determined by the legal process. Legal proceedings were initiated months ago (we told AiG-US of this, associated with one more offer to meet to resolve the dispute, and that being rejected (ignored), and then another offer of binding Christian arbitration—see below). Secondly, when it looked like the serving of the writ was going to coincide with the opening of the museum, we asked for it to be delayed, if possible. Furthermore, to avoid public embarrassment of a sheriff of the court serving papers in person, we asked if there was another way. We were told that if AiG-US told our lawyers the name of their lawyers for service of the writs, they could be lodged with them rather than in person. Why the communication with AiG-US ‘only 24 hours before the ribbon cutting ceremony’? AiG-US was having a board meeting over the weekend of the opening, a rare face-to-face meeting of the directors at which the directors of AiG-UK would also be present. We thought it only fair that the directors had the opportunity to discuss the matter in such a setting, rather than by telephone or email, piecemeal, at a later time. Furthermore, we thought that this would have the maximum likelihood of a change of heart (although from the track record of the last twenty months we thought this was only a remote possibility, our directors wanted to pursue every avenue for resolution).
One of CMI’s claims is that AiG–USA refuses to meet with its board. To the contrary our board met in person with the legally recognized and appointed board of directors of the Australian ministry (called AiG-Australia at the time) and signed a Memorandum of Agreement in October 2005, which had peacefully resolved the differences at that time (which included an agreement to arbitrate any future dispute).
CMI comment: This is amazingly deceptive, even astonishing in its brazenness. The refusal to meet that we repeatedly bring up is a refusal to meet with the current Board, the ones in office for nearly 18 months now in this time of major dispute. Whereas the Board to whom AiG refers here is not the legally constituted Board of the ministry, but the previous Board which handed over the company after resigning en masse and seeking indemnity from penalties for their actions signing that ‘agreement’.
Furthermore, when we talk about a refusal to meet, it is clearly in the context of the present dispute, which only really erupted as a serious legal issue because of and therefore after the signing of the agreement drawn up by AiG-US’s lawyers, with all the terrible ramifications for our ministry.
So how can reference to a meeting before that time, with people who are no longer part of the ministry, be anything other than a ‘red herring’ attempt to confuse the public on the very serious matter of their nearly two-year refusal to meet properly face-to-face to sort out the issues, as befits brethren?
Unfortunately, the management of AiG-Australia later disavowed the agreement and, after an impasse and much frustration with management, the full Australian board resigned.
CMI comment: This is a reversal of the order of events, giving another deceptively false impression. The management did not have the authority to ‘disavow the agreement’, and did not do so. The Australian management tried to meet with the Board to discuss the ‘agreement’, which was signed at AiG-US’s urging behind the backs of all management here in Australia. (This was contrary to those previous directors’ commitment to several senior staff before the joint board meeting that they would ‘not sign anything’ without consultation.) The Australian directors at the time failed to meet, and events culminated in their resignations. Their resignations were due to their own rash actions, not any ‘rebellion’ as AiG-US spokesmen have told third parties, poisoning the well for CMI. Furthermore, contrary to the impression given in this email from AiG-US, the Board of CMI (not the management) did not formally reject the ‘agreement’ until 28 February 2006, just before our re-branding as CMI.
AiG-Australia management then appointed a new board,
CMI comment: This makes it seem as though the appointment of the new board was somehow improper. This is untrue. The outgoing directors specified that the CEO, Dr Carl Wieland, should be made Managing Director and given responsibility for appointing new directors. They said through their lawyer that if Dr Wieland had been on the board (MD instead of CEO) that the recent catastrophic events would not have transpired. In consultation with senior staff and scientists, Dr Wieland chose directors with a proven track record of hands-on involvement with creation ministry. For the details of what happened, see A brief chronology of events http://www.webproclaim.com/emailmarketing/lt/t_go.php?i=1672&e=Mjk1MjgwMQ==&l=http://www.creationontheweb.com/images/pdfs/dispute/chronological_ordershort.pdf (scroll down to Oct 2005). CMI Board has also instituted another level of accountability for the board; an extra-board membership that outnumbers the directors, which now appoints directors and holds the board accountable at an annual meeting. ‘There is safety in a multitude of counselors’ (Prov. 11:14).
and changed its name to CMI.
CMI comment: AiG-Australia was forced to change its name when AiG-US told us to do our own web site. AiG-Australia was given this directive in response to our earliest pleas to AiG-US for peace talks, to find a way forward together, in mid-November 2005. This of course forced us to re-brand, since one cannot have two totally separate organisations using the same brand on two separate global websites—a recipe for total confusion, especially for our Australian supporters.
CMI continues to refuse to follow the directives of its former board (as contained in the October agreement), and the restoration of harmony so hoped for in October 2005 was derailed.
CMI comment: It is a strange way to bring ‘restoration of harmony’, to damage, plunder and pillage the other party, which is what the ‘agreement’ did. For a summary of the way that the agreement damaged CMI, please see What’s our concern with the situation? (http://www.webproclaim.com/emailmarketing/lt/t_go.php?i=1672&e=Mjk1MjgwMQ==&l=http://www.creationontheweb.com/content/view/4770)
Furthermore, by what reasoning should a lawfully constituted current Board feel itself bound to continue to ‘follow the directives’ of a Board which has abdicated en masse, especially when their actions have led to so much damage for the ministry?
In subsequent months, CMI continued to deny our requests for the new CMI board and AiG-USA board to meet. At one stage, the AiG board offered to meet with the CMI board at a mutually convenient location for a day or two to get to know each other, and then have the CEOs of both ministries join the boards to try to resolve the issues. To this end, we offered to fly the entire CMI board and its CEO to the U.S., at our expense. But CMI refused this and all other invitations.
CMI comment: This is bizarre in the extreme, a reversal of reality. See Mr Clarrie Briese’s summary of the attempts CMI has made to find resolution, which were all rejected or ignored (mainly the latter) by AiG-US: look for the section titled Documents showing Genuine Efforts to Reconcile/Settle the Dispute (http://www.webproclaim.com/emailmarketing/lt/t_go.php?i=1672&e=Mjk1MjgwMQ==&l=http://www.creationontheweb.biz/chairmans_report.html) and following. The truth is that there was NEVER an offer to meet with the entire Australian Board, face to face, all at once, up front. Note how this is covered over by cleverly referring to the Australian Board ‘and its CEO’. AiG knows full well that ever since the old Board’s abdication, our ministry has not had a CEO. It insists on using such terminology, because otherwise it becomes a lie to say that it agreed to meet with the Board, because Carl Wieland is and was then a member of that Board. And all of their three (really 2 ½) offers were completely neutralized by coupling them with the following conditions:
Not wanting to meet with Carl present, or excluding him for the first two days (Ken Ham’s brother later stated that this was so that Ken’s Board could persuade the new Australian directors ‘why Carl could not be trusted’) AND/OR
Insisting that the meeting was not permitted to discuss the very issues at stake, namely the ‘agreements’ signed which plunged the ministries into crisis. We would counter by asking that they drop such preconditions, but to no avail.
It is obviously quite misleading to talk about ‘inviting the Board’, when one is actually refusing to include one member of that Board. But even more importantly, Carl Wieland was the only director who had first-hand knowledge of the events leading up to November 2005. The exclusion was clearly tactical.
CMI offered to arbitrate the disputes between the ministries, but they insisted on their own set of strict terms and pre-conditions.
CMI comment: No. CMI offered to submit to an arbitration process (CMI was not the arbitrator!), along with AiG-US. The proposal by CMI was never responded to by AiG-US to indicate which ‘terms and pre-conditions’ were not suitable to them. There was no statement by CMI that the conditions were not negotiable, only that if they were accepted the proposal ‘as is’, then CMI would be immediately bound to the process (i.e., CMI could not back out). This was the first of two ‘binding arbitration offers’ refused/ignored by AiG-US. They did not even bother to discuss the conditions.
Instead of relying upon a neutral and recognized arbitration body, CMI proposed its own unique arbitration method and insisted that it be conducted in Australia, under Australian law, and by Australian attorneys or judges. Frankly, CMI’s proposal did not comport with normal and accepted rules for arbitration.
CMI comment: Which arbitration offer is being referred to here? CMI made two offers (August 2006 and March 2007), both of which were completely ignored by AiG-US (no response whatsoever). The second proposal was formulated under the guidance of a Christian barrister at law (senior counsel in the USA) and as the proposal stated, it would have been under the jurisdiction of the Commercial Arbitration Act 1990 (Queensland), which sets out the procedures in detail. So it is completely wrong for AiG-US to claim that ‘CMI’s proposal did not comport with normal and accepted rules for arbitration’. This is yet another example of a baseless claim by AiG-US, and they have been informed otherwise some time ago in writing. This is amazingly prejudicial and misleading statement that has no basis in fact. You can read the proposal at http://www.webproclaim.com/emailmarketing/lt/t_go.php?i=1672&e=Mjk1MjgwMQ==&l=http://www.creationontheweb.biz/offer-binding_christian_arbitration.pdf and see that it is absolutely fair, with AiG-US choosing three possible arbitrators and CMI having to choose one of those three; what could be fairer? It is in effect saying, ‘Pick your own Christian judge’. But having completely rejected all such things, though trying to shift the goalposts at the last minute, they are now able to cloak themselves in the mantle of ‘godly persecution’ and amazingly, make it look as if AiG has wanted binding arbitration all along!
More importantly, as a ministry in Kentucky, USA, we do not believe the law of Australia is even appropriate in this case.
CMI comment: The arbitration proposal above, reproduced in full on the web, sets out clearly why the arbitration should most definitely be in Australia. This is not some minor issue, and if one is only concerned with a fair verdict, why not use a formal process that involves the very jurisdiction (Australia) which one’s own documents have stipulated?
At the least, this is an issue that a neutral arbiter should be allowed to determine.
CMI comment: How would an arbitrator chosen as per the procedure proposed above not be neutral? If anything he/she could be biased in favour of AiG-US, since they would choose all three options!
Having reached an impasse with CMI on numerous issues, we asked the independent, internationally recognized Christian conciliation organization, Peacemaker Ministries (which also has conciliators in Australia), to moderate and resolve the dispute.
CMI comment: This again is highly misleading. It makes it sound as if AiG-US was interested in mediation all along. However, as the Briese Chairman’s report documents, it not only ignored such efforts, it formally cut us off with a widely distributed letter containing serious innuendo and libel/slander, which it refused to withdraw when we pleaded with them to do so. The sudden Damascus-road-like conversion to mediation was only after we said we would hold them accountable at law, failing an urgent meeting to settle the issues (which they again refused/ignored).
Under Peacemaker’s direction, AiG will meet anywhere to resolve these disputes with CMI and under any arbiter or arbiters that Peacemaker Ministries finds appropriate. CMI refused three offers to settle the issues through Peacemaker Ministries—reusing Christian mediation and binding arbitration (and CMI even rebuffed Peacemaker Ministries directly). We are saddened that CMI rejects neutral Christian arbitration and conciliation, and instead opts to publicly try the dispute in the secular courts.
CMI comment: Once again this is a bizarre twist on what happened. After 18 months of our pleadings being ignored we told AiG-US that we had no choice but to hold them accountable at law. Suddenly AiG-US got interested in Peacemakers mediation, but at that stage, they were not suggesting going straight to arbitration. This is a very important distinction, as will become clear. (And we are only aware of one such formal proposal, not three.) They said that the process might lead to arbitration, but there was no formal proposal for binding arbitration. (See later re the informal phone call at the very, very last minute, when they had our lawsuit wording in their hands, about binding arbitration after all.)
Furthermore, the statement: ‘CMI even rebuffed Peacemaker Ministries directly’ is clearly and misleadingly designed to make us sound evil by innuendo. The truth is that we gave AiG-US our carefully-considered reasons why we could not take part in a process of mediation prior to binding judgment, because of the delays their intransigence had caused, which would permit them to drag things on past the point of our rights to redress expiring. Nevertheless, we gave them the last offer of binding arbitration, making it clear that because they had used Australian law (paying Australian lawyers, specifying the legal jurisdiction as Australia) to tie us in legal knots, all would have to be settled under Australian law, as it would be if we chose not to be merciful and proceeded to hold them accountable. However, instead of coming back to us, or even discussing our arbitration offers, AiG-US had Peacemakers approach us. So, our courteous response was of course to Peacemakers, who seemed to be acting as a proxy for AiG-US. As CMI said at the time, we would be happy to engage Peacemakers in a mediation process leading to reconciliation, after the legal noose is removed from CMI’s neck. Since AiG-US would not willingly agree to such noose-removal, it could only be achieved by arbitration or, failing AiG-US agreeing to that, court action. Engaging in mediation before resolving the legal issues could well have jeopardized our ability to later find redress for the legal matters, as even Peacemakers’ own information points out. At the very last minute, (everything was already in train. They had our lawsuit wording in their hands and had seen the Briese report) AiG-US finally indicated, via a third party phone call, that they would be now willing to go to binding arbitration but only via this same organization, and still rejected arbitration under Australian law. But without ever once saying to us why our proposal was unacceptable. This was literally only DAYS before AiG wrote this document to which we are responding, so it is highly misleading to give the impression as if all along they were willing to have binding arbitration. It’s easy to say things, but it’s documents that speak for themselves; which is why Mr Briese’s report, analyzing the documents, turns out to be so vital.
We are grieved that CMI chose to make this matter public world-wide via the web and an email campaign;
CMI comment: AiG-US engaged in an email campaign by innuendo against CMI (CMI has a ‘spiritual problem’; ‘contact us for more details’). We don’t know who received such emails or what they were told by AiG-US when they made contact. CMI’s efforts are aimed at bringing resolution. If the only way this can happen, it seems, is to bring things into the light, then so be it. Scripture says that things whispered in secret will be shouted from housetops (Luke 12:3). If people do nothing wrong in secret then there is nothing to fear from public exposure.
in this manner, so many distortions and untruths have been scattered abroad.
CMI comment: No distortions or untruths have been pointed out by AiG-US. This is yet another example of AiG-US making grand claims without substance (Mr Briese also documents such tactics by AiG-US regarding emails by Dr Sarfati. When asked to produce evidence in the light of day, nothing happens).
One of the links they provided connects to something called the “Briese report.” This report was issued by a group of people -- selected by CMI itself -- to conduct an “investigation.” Because of concerns over the perceived bias of this panel (since it was selected by CMI and headed by a “member” of the CMI organization, and since CMI itself set the “objectives” of this panel), AiG and others associated or familiar with this dispute declined to be involved.
CMI comment: Please read the credentials of the committee members at: http://www.webproclaim.com/emailmarketing/lt/t_go.php?i=1672&e=Mjk1MjgwMQ==&l=http://www.creationontheweb.biz/briese_committee_menu.html. All have independent reputations that they would not risk to rubber stamp some subterfuge of CMI or anyone else. This charge by AiG-US is astonishing in its brazenness. Mr Briese’s reputation as a corruption fighter is unblemished (you could have read about Mr Briese on AiG’s web site, except they recently removed the Creation article about him). You can read it at: http://www.webproclaim.com/emailmarketing/lt/t_go.php?i=1672&e=Mjk1MjgwMQ==&l=http://www.creationontheweb.com/briese. This was published well before any of the current troubles erupted. Yes, Mr Briese is one of the wider members of CMI, mentioned by us above, one of the body that holds the Board accountable at an annual meeting (that’s all; he is not on the payroll, etc.). Also, Mr Briese chased the paper trail, which is a legal procedure that uncovers documents that have been not divulged (deliberately or inadvertently).
Indeed, it is shocking that CMI, which is a Christian organization, would employ such tactics
CMI comment: Tactics? This is a ‘smear statement’, with no substance. In desperation, we asked this eminent committee to form, to try to once again avoid the legal road. We not only invited AiG to participate, but said that if they did, we would also participate with a similar committee of their choosing, provided only that the rules of total openness were followed. The same Clarrie Briese, incidentally, helped save this ministry with a similar enquiry from damaging libel by a renowned humanist opponent, something for which Ken Ham, as a director at the time, was very grateful for.
and then publicize this report as fact, when it is filled with half-truths and blatant advocacy of the CMI position.
CMI comment: Once again, AiG-US makes unsubstantiated accusations. What half-truths? Mr Briese would certainly like to hear about them! Mr Briese’s findings are backed by extensive quotes from AiG-US documents and some 700 pages of documentation are indexed to his report. Yes, Mr Briese certainly arrived at a point of supporting CMI’s contentions, because that is where the evidence led. But he also added, of his own volition, his own observations, which only strengthened the gravity of the matters. If AiG had evidence to the contrary, and had provided it as invited, the Briese committee would have certainly wanted to follow the evidence wherever it led. In fact, Clarrie Briese’s membership of the company is precisely to be in a role of watchdog, to hold the directors accountable.
Up to this point, our Board had chosen to remain silent and was trying to resolve this matter privately.
CMI comment: Yes, the silence even extended to completely ignoring almost every request that CMI made to meet to resolve the difficulties. But it has not extended to silence on the telephone to other parties, or the whispering campaign against CMI personnel, as documented by Mr Briese. As we have shown in http://www.webproclaim.com/emailmarketing/lt/t_go.php?i=1672&e=Mjk1MjgwMQ==&l=http://www.creationontheweb.com/images/pdfs/dispute/chronological_ordershort.pdf and as Mr Briese also independently documented, AiG-US have resisted every effort to settle this dispute.
CMI has now made this dispute public, and we are now compelled to provide information to you to clarify this matter.
CMI comment: It would be fine if it was accurate and not disinformation, as most of this is.
Unfortunately, we live in a time when even Christians have become highly litigious and are increasingly eager to use a secular court system to settle matters,
CMI comment: It is with tears that CMI has embarked on legal action. It is a total misrepresentation of the directors’ attitude to suggest that they were ‘eager’ to use the secular court system. AiG-US has no basis whatsoever for such a grave smear. Any reasonable person would see that we have gone the third, fourth and fifth mile in trying to resolve these matters privately, and then proposing Christian arbitration. All efforts rejected. Court action was the last resort, having tried all else. Their last-minute shift, ‘dragged kicking and screaming’ to the position of themselves informally proposing going straight to binding arbitration, should not be portrayed as a keenness for resolution. We asked them to explain what was wrong with our proposal (you can check that proposal for yourself). We cannot help but think that they are fearful of jointly submitting to arbitration under Australian law (despite having invoked Australian law themselves) perhaps because they know that there are issues of breach of Australian company law, etc. Should we permit those engaging in the breaches to choose their own jurisdiction, but let them knock back a much fairer, cleaner and more straightforward offer, using established rules of long standing? The other thing about Australian arbitration is that it is governed under law, which means that if the Christian judge makes an error of law in favour of CMI, e.g., then AiG could appeal it on those grounds. In short, if they were serious about peaceful resolution, they would have been able to choose their own Christian judge, and the whole matter would never have reached the public eye. The incredible distortions in this document give strong support to Mr Briese’s sober judge’s analysis of what is driving this whole thing and the need for it to be dealt with.
even trying to justify such actions by declaring that somehow Romans 13:1 overrides I Corinthians 6.
CMI comment: So is this saying that the CMI Board should allow CMI’s supporters and staff to be defrauded by AiG-US? (How about 1 Cor. 6:8?) This would be an option for an individual, but not necessarily for a corporation governed by the laws of the state. To say otherwise is close to the same sort of reasoning that has led some Christians to think that a president of a country should never defend its citizens, because the Bible says individual believers should turn the other cheek.
But we totally agree that it is a shame for Christians to have to use secular authorities – as Paul said, they should be able to sort things out ecclesiastically. That should be something they agreed to ages ago, not just after it’s clear that we will be taking them to court.
We are deeply concerned that a para-church ministry would refuse Christian arbitration and then decide to sue brothers in Christ with a lawsuit, thus disobeying the Spirit of God’s instructions in I Corinthians 6. AiG encourages people to be like the Bereans in the Book of Acts and read these two passages for themselves.
CMI comment: As part of this process, the whole counsel of God should be considered. As part of this, please consider: Why CMI-Australia is holding AiG-US legally accountable for its actions (http://www.webproclaim.com/emailmarketing/lt/t_go.php?i=1672&e=Mjk1MjgwMQ==&l=http://www.creationontheweb.biz/lawsuit_justification.html ) Note that we have documentation of a written legal threat by AiG-US against us, so this position that it is always under any circumstances ‘disobeying the Spirit of God’ appears to be a position of current convenience. (Obviously, every Christian corporation potentially relies on the power of the law when it goes into any sort of contract, or registers a trademark, or gives a copyright warning on its work, for example. The point is the desire to sort it out between brethren if at all possible, and this is where the problem has been, as the Briese documentation makes clear.)
Our heart is particularly sad for the churches and pastors, and even book distributors, in Australia who have also been warned or threatened with legal action by CMI for their affiliation with AiG-USA. Notwithstanding the myriad of details about the issues involved, this legal threat by CMI against churches and others constitutes a serious disobedience to our God.
CMI comment: Note: ‘notwithstanding the myriad of details about the issues involved’. In other words, if the reader were apprised of these it would not be as AiG-US insinuates. AiG-US’s attempts to act deceptively in Australia by passing themselves off as Answers in Genesis in Australia when many (most?) still think of CMI as ‘AiG’ here, will be resisted, with good justification to avoid confusion (trademark law protects against such deception / trading off confusion). If AiG-US would walk in the light, it would not be trying to further undermine CMI-Australia by ruthless commercial actions, on top of what it has already done. This whole matter being raised by AiG-US to paint us in a bad light is also addressed in the Briese report. This judicial analysis is based on the documents, most of them exchanges between CMI and AiG-US, not on hearsay, emotive rhetoric or ‘spin’.
AiG is committed to honoring God and His Word. We covet your prayers during these trying days. Yet, the Lord be praised.
CMI comment: It would bring a real, tangible blessing to us if AiG-US would really honour the whole of God’s Word, including such strong admonitions as Micah 6:8 (God calls us to do justly, love mercy and to walk humbly with God).
If you have questions concerning the basics of this issue, please call Mark Looy, AiG’s chief communications officer, at (859) 727-2222, ext. 450 (please note that AiG is in the eastern time zone). If you have theological questions concerning our understanding of the Scriptures as they relate to this issue, please contact our board chairman, Pastor Don Landis (through Mark, who will pass it on to Pastor Landis).
CMI comment: If you contact Mr Looy, or Mr Landis, could you please get them to put their comments in writing (print) so that what is said can be tested to ascertain that you are being told the truth, or given accurate exegesis? Proverbs 18:17. Sadly, many have been just too willing to believe what they are told without checking it out (be good Bereans as AiG-US has said!). In fact, one of the tragedies in all of this has been that AiG-US’s standard pattern has been to ask people to ‘contact us and you’ll get the facts’—but always declining if asked if a CMI person could be there to give the other side of the story. And/or people are sworn to secrecy not to reveal to CMI what they are told. Which is why it was so important to have the open (Briese) enquiry at last, where evidence could be presented, and tested at cross-examination.
We plead with you to help us inhibit this unbiblical internet gossip and rumor mill by contacting us directly and/or simply committing it in prayer to the Lord. Thank you.
CMI comment: What CMI has put on the Internet is not gossip or rumor. No one has demonstrated any factual error in what we have made available, and as we have said, if anyone will demonstrate such error we will correct anything we have written and we are sure Mr Briese would also. It is ‘whispering’ in telephone calls, swearing people to secrecy, as has been the pattern, that is gossip by definition, and that generates dark deeds and poisons relationships. So people are being urged to avoid gossip by partaking of gossip! We have with tears pleaded and pleaded for even the courtesy of open meeting for resolution, yet now we see this document that claims the very opposite, as if black is white, and good evil. Enough! If we had had the chance to talk all together in the open, even once, then maybe AiG’s Board, or at least some of them, might have come to see how seriously ‘filtered’ their understanding of events is. Sadly, this was never once permitted.
Sincerely,
Board of Directors Answers in Genesis —USA
Pastor Don Landis, Chairman Dan Chin, Vice Chairman Dr. Mark Jackson, Dan Manthei, Tim Dudley
With sadness, but resolved to see righteousness reign,
The Board of Directors,Creation Ministries International (Australia)Kerry Boettcher, Chairman, Dr David Christie, Rev. Dr. Don Hardgrave, Carolyn McPherson, Dr Carl Wieland