Monday, August 22, 2005

Renewing Worship

As many of you know, the ELCA has recently approved the (unfinished) Renewing Worship project by a 3 to 1 margin. Unfortunately, as Jim Culver points out, there is a large attempt at revisionist hymnody throughout the project:

I printed out the complete set of hymn texts posted on
the Renewing Worship website, then went through with a red pen and
marked language changes that reflected a feminist ideological agenda.
The statistics alone are revealing. Feminist censorship was most
ruthless with masculine pronouns. I counted 70 hymns where masculine
pronouns for God or Christ were eliminated. In a few instances a
pronoun survived in a verse or two, but others were changed. In 13
instances masculine pronouns for Christ / Jesus were eliminated. In
one instance (5105) a masculine pronoun for the Holy Spirit was
eliminated. That leaves about 56 instances where the pronoun was
eliminated for God the Father or God generically. I counted only 7
hymns where pronouns referring to deity survived. There may be others
that I missed, particularly to refer to the human Jesus, but masculine
pronouns are very rare indeed in this collection of hymns. That
damned pronoun (he) has to go! I should mention that my statistics
include only those hymn texts that were included on the website.
Those that could not be posted because of copyright restrictions are
not included, unless the list of “corrections” included pronouns.
Various strategies were used to eliminate pronouns.
Sometimes he or his was replaced with God or God’s. Sometimes his
was replaced with a, the, or this. An article in place of a pronoun.
There is a strong tendency to refer to Jesus as “the Son” rather
than “his son” in a line that follows a reference to God the Father.
(5002, 5504, etc.)

There is much, much more if you're interested, including altered theology in the revised hymns. I find this tendency toward revisionism disturbing. At the very least, the subject of revising hymns should be debated openly, rather than handed down from on high. Many of these changes are accomplishing little or nothing theologically, while serving to forward a particular social agenda and antagonize traditionalists, like myself, who like to refer to God and Jesus with the traditional (scripturally based) masculine pronouns and dislike traditional hymns being summarily edited. Let the church decide whether this is a path worth taking rather than just assuming the laity wants this.

I thought the SCOTUS decision was bad...

... but this is just adding insult to injury:

Those who believe in the adage "when it rains, it pours" might take the tale of the plaintiffs in Kelo v. New London as a cue to buy two of every animal and a load of wood from Home Depot. The U.S. Supreme Court recently found that the city's original seizure of private property was constitutional under the principal of eminent domain, and now New London is claiming that the affected homeowners were living on city land for the duration of the lawsuit and owe back rent. It's a new definition of chutzpah: Confiscate land and charge back rent for the years the owners fought confiscation.

This is disgusting, sickening, and saddest, unsurprising.

Jury System

One of my favorite bloggers, Professor Bainbridge, has several great posts recently. The best lately is a questioning of the jury system with respect to science based cases.

Unfortunately, if the WSJ($)'s reporting is to be believed, the jurors basically didn't understand - and, indeed, didn't even try to understand - the science:

Merck argued that Vioxx couldn't have caused Mr. Ernst's death because, according to his death certificate, he died of an arrhythmia or irregular heartbeat, not a heart attack. While scientific evidence suggests Vioxx can promote blood clots leading to a heart attack, no data have linked the drug with arrhythmias.

Jurors who voted against Merck said much of the science sailed right over their heads. "Whenever Merck was up there, it was like wah, wah, wah," said juror John Ostrom, imitating the sounds Charlie Brown's teacher makes in the television cartoon. "We didn't know what the heck they were talking about."

At the very least, this incident thus raises serious questions as to the competence of lay jurors to resolve technical issues. To be sure, there is some evidence that how technical evidence is presented matters a lot, and some suggestion in the press accounts that Merck's lawyers may not have done a very good job of presenting the evidence in a way that would maximize understanding. Even so, at the very least, this case confirms the urgent need for objective study of the ability of lay juries to understand and process scientific evidence. If it turns out that they cannot do so, perhaps it is time to take these sorts of issues out of their hands.

Read the whole thing.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Socialized Healthcare

Just one more reason that socialized healthcare sucks. This woman got shuffled around and left undiagnosed for four years, only to then discover she is seriously ill and the Canadian government won't cover the $250,000 surgery she needs. Which means, of course, that she can't even get it in Canada, because if the gov't won't pay, the docs can't provide. She hasn't had a job in years because of the pain, and her son can't aford the cost. Disgusting.

Make no mistake, we will hear about nationalized healthcare again in the United States. But next time, businesses will be pushing it due to the skyrocketing cost of health insurance. It'll be much harder to stop than Clinton's was, but if we don't want our healthcare to degenerate like Canada's, we're going to have to reject a single-payer healthcare system. Monopolies, particularly government enforced ones, ruin price and/or quality in the long run.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Semi-random collection of links

I don't have much time, so I need to condense all of these into one post.

The Economist has a great look at the politics and culture of video games. Hint: gamers don't play for the blood and guts (normally), they're in it for the problem solving.

CNN's Wolf Blitzer looks like a total idiot when he claims that 14 marines died because they didn't have a better vehicle, that "an up-armored Humvee would have stood a better chance." Small Problem with that theory:

That's right. The explosion flipped a 31-ton APC.

And what is Wolf Blitzer's argument? That the military didn't provide good vehicles in the Al Anbar Province. And that -- and I quote verbatim, -- "an up-armored Humvee would have stood a better chance."

Do the math. If the explosion flipped vehicle weight 31 tons (plus another ton and a half or so of marines and gear), then what are the survivability chances of a 4-ton uparmored Humvee?

I'll tell you:

Anything left of the Humvee would have been parked in Syria, dumbass.

The Nashville Scene (huh?) has a great article articulating the libertarian position on victimless crimes, which as you may know I have a lot of sympathy for.

Finally, someone has codified how physics works in the animated world: The Cartoon Laws of Physics! (yeah, I know it's old, but I just found it)

Another old-but-awesome story: Armed robber gets extreme makeover. That's right, he tried to hold up a beauty school and got mauled by the students.

Friday, August 05, 2005

Social Security

WILLisms has an interesting series on Social Security Reform that's apparently been going on for quite some time. I highly recommend checking it out. The latest installment covers something I think everyone my age should be worried about: "The Cost Of Doing Nothing." The bottom line is that the Social Security ponzi scheme is getting too top heavy to maintain the status quo for more than the next decade. Remember: either we reform the program, or the government will have to find the money somewhere. That somewhere is going to be our pockets, the pockets of the next generation of workers.


Cherenkoff lets fly a zinger as he savages the "isolationism and appeasement" crowd. Money quote:

Those who argue that it's up to us to stop terrorism, if only we would change our policies, somehow never seem to be particularly concerned about the larger implications of such changes. So here is a simple task:

Explain in 100 words or less, how the Middle East ruled by bin Laden and religious fanatics controlling most of the world's oil reserves is in America's - and the Western world's - interest.

Explain in another 100 words or less, how you are going to ensure this scenario will not become reality after the West "stops the aggression against Muslims".

Keep reading, there's more!

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Cool Gadget

This has got to be the coolest MP3 player yet. If I didn't already own an iPod, I'd be seriously considering it. 1 GB flash memory, 10 hours of battery life, and a display (unlike iPod shuffle) crammed into a one inch cube. Amazing. If I didn't just have to sink $400 into fixing my car I might have gotten one anyway...