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Friday, 31 October 2008

What I look forward to in an Obama Presidency

The White Man has voted for the President of the United States only twice. That is to say, two different men have attained (or retained) the presidency, having done so in part due to a single vote cast in their favor by The White Man.

The White Man has cast a losing vote for President once. That is to say, his choice for the Presidency (who had not been his first choice, but rather the lesser of two evils) was not the choice of enough other voting Americans to allow him to win the election.

The White Man has voted 'Present' in one Presidential Election. That is to say, he voted, but left the line for "President" blank, not being able to hold his nose tightly enough to take responsibility for electing the lesser of two evils. As it turned out, that would have been a losing vote anyway.

The White Man, no longer a registered voter, has therefore abstained from all subsequent Presidential Elections.

So I write on the topic of this November's Election from the standpoint of an outside, dispassionate observer.

Sixteen years ago, I looked forward to a Clinton Presidency. I hoped that a Democrat President would be able to push through some badly-needed bills that had been held up by a Democrat Congress. Whether he was successful or not may yet remain to be seen.

A year ago, I again looked forward to a Clinton Presidency and the return of Bill Clinton to the White House, this time as First Gentleman. But things have changed, and a Clinton Presidency is no longer in the cards for 2009. Barack Obama, scion of the Chicago Political Machine, has pulled his usual trick of procedurally eliminating his more popular opponent, and we face the likelihood of an Obama Presidency for the next eight years.

We are, in fact, in a very similar place as we were sixteen years ago. After several years of prosperity, the economy is slumping. "Inflation" is a problem. Taxes are high. The Democrat Candidate promises to stimulate the economy, tame "inflation," and raise taxes. I foresaw that Clinton would in fact increase inflation, and bought gold as a hedge against that likelihood. As it turned out, the tax decreases of the early 80's finally kicked in about the time Bush Sr. left office, bringing in a wave of prosperity fueled by the increased productivity of the Computer Age. Bush's and Clinton's tax increases are what have brought us to where we are today, fueled by the housing bubble brought on by the stupidity of sub-prime mortgages backed by the full currency-printing power of the US Government.

So what do I look forward to in an Obama Presidency?

For one, I look to see the printing presses shift into an even higher gear, with the demise of the penny coming by the end of a second Obama administration. I kind of doubt, though, that we will ever see the $1000 bill again; cash transactions will be more and more restricted.

I expect the federal deficit to double.

I expect, by the end the first Obama administration, to see Social Security Numbers made mandatory for medical treatment.

I expect to see more raids on religious groups, with all the children taken away from their parents regardless of any evidence of abuse.

I expect to see all churches lose more tax exemptions, or more churches lose all.

I expect riots should Obama fail by a thin margin to be re-elected.

I expect some well-placed Americans to be held hostage in a rogue state for years.

What good do I expect to come out of an Obama Presidency?

One thing: I hope that the Multi-level marketers who have hitched their hopes to the Republican Party will receive their comeuppance.

I hope, but unlike my other predictions, I hardly expect.

A bit of wit and wisdom


"If you don't read the newspaper you are uninformed; if you do read the newspaper you are misinformed." --Mark Twain

"I contend that for a nation to try to tax itself into prosperity is like a man standing in a bucket and trying to lift himself up by the handle." --Winston Churchill

A government which robs Peter to pay Paul can always depend on the support of Paul." -- George Bernard Shaw

"A liberal is someone who feels a great debt to his fellow man, which debt he proposes to pay off with your money." --G. Gordon Liddy

"Democracy must be something more than two wolves and a sheep voting on what to have for dinner" --James Bovard, Civil Libertarian (1994)

"Foreign aid might be defined as a transfer of money from poor people in rich countries to rich people in poor countries." -- Douglas Casey, Classmate of Bill Clinton at Georgetown University

"Government is the great fiction, through which everybody endeavors to live at the expense of everybody else." --Frederic Bastiat, French Economist (1801-1850)

"Government's view of the economy could be summed up in a few short phrases: If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it." --Ronald Reagan (1986)

"If you think health care is expensive now, wait until you see what it costs when it's free!" --P. J. O’Rourke

"In general, the art of government consists of taking as much money as possible from one party of the citizens to give to the other." --Voltaire (1764)

"Just because you do not take an interest in politics doesn't mean politics won't take an interest in you!" --Pericles (430 B.C.)

"No man's life, liberty, or property is safe while the legislature is in session." --Mark Twain

"Talk is cheap...except when Congress does it." --Unknown

"The government is like a baby's alimentary canal, with a hearty appetite at one end and no responsibility at the other." --Ronald Reagan

"The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of the blessings. The inherent blessing of socialism is the equal sharing of misery." --Winston Churchill

"The ultimate result of shielding men from the effects of folly is to fill the world with fools." --Herbert Spencer, English Philosopher (1820-1903)

"There is no distinctly Native American criminal class... save Congress." --Mark Twain

"What this country needs are more unemployed politicians." --Edward Langley, Artist (1928-1995)

"A government big enough to give you everything you want, is strong enough to take everything you have." --Thomas Jefferson

"Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies." --Groucho Marx; apparently a misquote of:

"Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it whether it exists or not, diagnosing it incorrectly, and applying the wrong remedy." --Earnest Benn

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

A chilling twist in the case of Caylee Anthony

Final Edition
Note subsequent to Final Edition: Caylee's skull has been found. The Prosecution can continue their case with the needed evidence now in hand. Ironically, they could have had it long before, had they followed up on the lead that eventually led to this discovery. . .

Casey Anthony has been indicted for murdering her daughter Caylee.
That's right, the charges against her include first degree murder.
Now, what's so unusual about that is that the authorities are not even sure that Caylee is dead. Traditionally, for a murder charge to stick, you basically have to have a dead body. Otherwise you end up with the bizarre possibility of being convicted of murdering someone who subsequently turns up alive. But apparently the testimony of a forensic specialists will be crucial to establishing the presence of a dead human--specifically Caylee--in Casey's car trunk. To do so they will have to introduce into evidence the results of DNA tests on the undigested intestinal contents of maggots presumed to have spent time in the aforementioned car trunk.
But fat maggots don't prove that anyone died. The only incontrovertible evidence of death is the discovery of a portion of someone's body too big to live without--although I would also accept chewed-on bones in the wreckage of a plane that flew into the side of a mountain, regardless of their size.

I for one find this new development chilling. Has Caylee even been declared legally dead? I doubt it, as the one being charged with killing her would be the very next of kin who is expected to request a legal declaration.

I find other aspects of this case confusing. Cindy Anthony, Casey's mother, is the one who originally called the police to report Caylee missing. This was reportedly after Casey had herself gone missing for a month, only to return without her daughter. There are all sorts of legal questions to untangle here. Did Cindy have the legal authority to declare missing a child over whom she apparently had no custody (despite the fact that they lived in the same house)? By the mere fact of having reached her 18th birthday, did Casey have the right to disappear from her parents' home for a month? What intrinsic feminine reproductive rights would allow Casey to terminate her unwanted pregnancy a couple-three years later than the Supreme Court currently allows? Should a single woman living with her parents be allowed to have custody of her child just by virtue of having attained a certain age? And how does this relate to Todd and Sarah Palin's daughter Bristol, who plans to give birth as a single woman living in their home?

Monday, 6 October 2008

Chronology of the Resurrection

Some ramblings that will eventually be headed with the words Final Edition

I've been working on the Passion Week Chronology again. Here's a site that agrees with the astronomically established Crucifixion Date of Friday, April 3, 33 (Sorry, Wednesday-crucifixion advocates), but has a novel twist on the Chronology of the Resurrection: that Jesus did not leave "the belly of the earth" to ascend to his Father (John 20:17) until the following Monday, post a few selected appearances in his resurrected body.

Looking through a harmony of Passion Week, I keep running into the notion (having had a bit of experience with the legal system myself) that one night isn't near long enough to fit in all these events:
The Last Supper
The walk to the Garden
Agony in the Garden
Appearance before Annas
Hearing before Caiaphas
Hearing(s) before the Sanhedrin
Hearing before Herod
Hearing(s) before Pilate

Interestingly enough, the pseudopigraphal guide to early church life, The Didascalia Apostolorum, says the following about the timeline leading up to the Crucifixion:
* * *
For when we had eaten the passover on the third day of the week at even, we went forth to the Mount of Olives; and in the night they seized our Lord Jesus. And the next day, which was the fourth of the week, He remained in ward in the house of Caiaphas the high priest. And on the same day the chiefs of the people were assembled and took counsel against Him. And on the next day again, which was the fifth of the week, they brought Him to Pilate the governor. And He remained again in ward with Pilate the night after the fifth day of the week. But when it drew on (towards day) on the Friday, [[182]] they accused him much [Mk 15.3] before Pilate; and they could show nothing that was true, but gave false witness against Him. And they asked Him of Pilate to be put to death; and they crucified Him on the same Friday.

He suffered, then, at the sixth hour on Friday. And these hours wherein our Lord was crucified were reckoned a day. And afterwards, again, there was darkness for three hours; and it was reckoned a night. And again, from the ninth hour until evening, three hours, (reckoned) a day. And afterwards again, (there was) the night of the Sabbath of the Passion. -- But in the Gospel of Matthew it is thus written: At even on the sabbath, when the first day of the week drew on, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the tomb. And there was a great earthquake: for an angel of the Lord came down and rolled away the stone [Mt 28.1-2]. -- And again (there was) the day of the Sabbath; and then three hours of the night after the Sabbath, wherein our Lord slept. And that was fulfilled which He said: The Son of man must pass three days and three nights in the heart of the earth [Mt 12.40], as it is written in the Gospel. And again it is written in David: Behold, thou hast set my days in measure [Ps 38.6 LXX]. Now because those days and nights came short, it was so written. [[183]]

In the night, therefore, when the first day of the week drew on, He appeared to Mary Magdalene and to Mary (p. 89) the daughter of James [Mt 28.1, 9 (cf. Jn 20.1, 14; Mk 16.1)]; and in the morning of the first day of the week He went in to (the house of) Levi [cf. Gosp. of Peter 14]; and then He appeared also to us ourselves. . . . on the fourth of the week they began to destroy their souls, and apprehended Me. -- For the night after the third of the week belongs to the fourth of the week, as it is written: There was evening and there was morning, one day [Gen 1.5]. The evening therefore belongs to the following day: for on the third of the week at even I ate My Pascha with you, and in the night they apprehended Me.

Wednesday, 1 October 2008

Yehoshua bar Yosef was born in the year Zero

"Genealogists," my alleged ancestor Mohammad ibn Abdullah is said to have quipped, "are all liars." That didn't stop him, though, from retaining one to trace his ancestry back to Ibrahim ibn Tarah, and thence to Adam. What makes genealogists so inclined to stretch the truth, however, is not so much a lack of ancestral names, but an overabundance of them. Dozens of different cultures have maintained genealogical lines going back to the dawn of history. Since this predates the Dispersion of Tongues, it means that the earliest ancestors have many different names by which their various lines of descent remember them, resulting in a tendency to sometimes inflate one's genealogy with duplicate names.

Now, what does all this have to do with Jesus being born in the year Zero? Well, in addition to genealogists being liars, so are historians. History not being all that lucrative of an independent profession, historians tend to work for either the church or the state. Given that these two seldom play independent roles in establishing the facts of history, the two are for most historical purposes indistinguishable. Occasionally, though, a heretic will arise and point out that the officially sanctioned historians got it wrong. Although he may be shouted down for the rest of his (sometimes considerably shortened) lifetime, his version of history might just gain widespread acceptance--although it may eventually take a regime change to make it official.

One such case, joining history with both genealogy and biochemistry, was the long campaign of historical author Fawn Brodie to convince the historical establishment (of which she was not a bona fide member, never having majored in history) that Thomas Jefferson was the father, and his wife the aunt, of all the children born to their slave Sally Hemings. To do so, she had to resort to the chronology of respected Pulitzer-prize-winning historian Dumas Malone--and eventually, with the help of that new tool for forensic genealogy--DNA testing--won over all but the most ardent protectors of Jefferson's disputed honor, his adjunct descendants in the Euro-American line.

Another case has now come to my attention. John P. Pratt has proposed nothing more radical than that Dionysius Exiguus, a monk from Russia who died about 544, actually knew what he was talking about when he placed the conception of Jesus at the time of the spring equinox in the year he then called (European science not yet being familiar with the concept of Zero) 1 AD. This calculation, which set a date for Christmas which has never since ceased to be in effect, has nonetheless been ridiculed by some who have made the incredulous suggestion that Brother Denny "perhaps ... had never read the gospel account of the birth of Jesus" in researching for his momentous proclamation.

Ah well, another look at the evidence--by a published astronomer, no less--has now shown Brother Denny to have been right after all, at least to the significance of the spring equinox. Turns out that, in addition to failing to factor in the existence of a year named Zero, his assuming to have determined the date of Jesus' conception was a bit of a stretch; it was actually, though, within the Twelve Days of Christmas from the actual date of his birth.
Here's the article, in which John Pratt calculates Jesus to have been born the week of April 6, 0 AD. His public ministry began 29½ years later, and just about the time he was to have celebrated his 33rd birthday, the eclipsed full moon rose blood-red over the hill upon which he was crucified.