Thursday, February 05, 2004
A Prognostication on “The Passion”
“‘This will be the catalyst for the conversion of hundreds of thousands of people,’ said the Rev. Jerry Johnston, pastor of First Family Church in Kansas City, Kan.”
Greg Swann, who posted the above quote, doesn’t doubt that this could very well be the case. My money won’t bet against it either.
To Die or Not to Die? That is the Question
Micha Ghertner, at Catallarchy, has an interesting post up titled Active vs. Passive Killing. The post examines Talmudic, and modern, thoughts on this subject and also includes links to other individuals weighing in on this matter. Think about it.
The Caste System in the United States
“‘...In the United States, the working class are Democrats. The middle class are Republicans. The upper class are Communists.’”
The above is a quote from Witness, by Whittaker Chambers, copywrited in 1952. Take the time to read Billy Beck’s short analysis of a passage from this tome, so far. The one short passage he is discussing in the post, does, as he states, have ”...dire implications for American culture,...”
Wednesday, February 04, 2004
Where is North Korea’s Solzhenitsyn? II
When I posted under the title above, Monday, I was surprised that I had not seen any blog entries which mentioned the BBC’s airing of a documentary of “alleged” gulag style camps, complete with human gassing facilities, in North Korea. No interest I quess.
Applebaum’s piece mentions the liberation of Auschwitz, 60 years ago this past January 27th, per the article, and rhetorically wonders at the why no one did anything about it back then, question. The third paragraph brings up the subject of BBC’s airing of the documentary, and, she then moves quickly into whether there is any veracity to the allegations of the behaviors described in the camps as being conducted on individuals. As she states in the article,
But the documentary was only a piece of journalism. Do we really know that it is true? We don’t. It was aired on the BBC, after all, an organization whose journalistic standards have recently been questioned. It was based on witness testimony, which is notoriously unreliable. All kinds of people might have had an interest in making the film more sensational, including journalists (good for their careers) or North Korean defectors (good for their cause).
The broad swipe at journalism, she takes in the first sentence, does, of course, brush across her and the Washington Post, besides the BBC. As for witness testimony, granted, it can be unreliable, or most witnesses could be dead. And sensationality, what would one call every bit of news that screams across the spectrums today. Winter Storm Kills…, Beltway Sniper…, Dog Bites Man…, Pete Rose Bet…
But here’s the real kicker, from Applebaum’s article.
The veracity of the information has been further undermined by the absence of official confirmation.
Yep, that’s always my first concern.
But, as stated further into the article, since other news organizations are ignoring the story, I guess it’s okay for everyone else to also. Applebaum also provides other “news” stories that are of much greater concern, which, I will refrain from mentioning, so as to not add to the burden of concern.
To be fair, Applebaum ends her commentary this way.
Later—in 10 years, or in 60—it will surely turn out that quite a lot was known in 2004 about the camps of North Korea. It will turn out that information collected by various human rights groups, South Korean churches, oddball journalists and spies added up to a damning and largely accurate picture of an evil regime. It will also turn out that there were things that could have been done, approaches the South Korean government might have made, diplomatic channels the U.S. government might have opened, pressure the Chinese might have applied.
Historians in Asia, Europe and here will finger various institutions, just as we do now, and demand they justify their past actions. And no one will be able to understand how it was possible that we knew of the existence of the gas chambers but failed to act.
Seemingly acknowledging that the documentary, in all likelihood, was quite accurate. What I’m wondering, is why, if the “allegations” more than likely are true, why that truth, of what occurs in totally state managed societies, isn’t used to, daily, pound sense into peoples heads about the evil of socialism, under whatever guise it may take. It may appear all friendly and good for everyone at the start, but it’ll end bad.
The Shirt On Your Back
Interesting/entertaining piece by Walter E. Williams regarding free trade at Townhall.com. Williams titled his piece The anti-free trader’s true enemy. The crux of the matter is, that businesses, which find themselves at a disadvantgage, readily throw away the capitalism business model, to level the playing field with a government bomb. This is not business, it is coercively bringing your product to market, with the government as your enforcer.
It seems that almost everyone has one neighbor that drives them crazy, for one reason or another. It may be deferred maintenance on the neighbor’s home is driving down values in the overall neighborhood, or, the neighbor keeps a junked car or three in their front yard, or, quite possibly, the neighbor is just a general nuisance and, like the kid picked last for the team sport on the playground, nobody really wants them around. It appears we have a case here in West Michigan that fits the profile of the kid picked last.
One Marlin A. Sleeman, a resident of Lake Bella Vista, a subdivision a tad north of my home with a bit of snob appeal, was convicted for “indecent or obscene conduct in a public place.” Sounds serious. The conviction results from Ms. Sleeman’s sunbathing habits, which, Ms. Sleeman’s neighbors found offensive. Based on the accompanying photo in the dead tree rendition of this article, there may be an aesthetic validity to the neighbors’ complaint, but, if you read article, one finds the neighbors’ use of the law is simply a method the neighbors attempted to use to control Ms. Sleeman’s behavior. The basic testimony, per the article.
“They” (the neighbors who testified I assume - ed. - itals by ed.), “said she sat provocatively in a lawn chair near the street. They also said she arranged her shorts and hiked up her shirt to expose as much skin as possible, but never showed her private parts.”
Ooh, sounds horrendous. Believe it or not, Ms. Sleeman was convicted. Not necessarily surprising, when you consider the strong conservative base of West Michigan, and the fact that you are never further than a mile or two from a church in a fifty mile radius.
Even more amazing than Ms. Sleeman’s conviction though is the fact that Judge Dennis Kolenda threw out the verdict on appeal. The judge’s ruling as reported by the Grand Rapids Press.
He said Sleeman did not engage in indecent behavior, and pointed out other neighbors wore similar apparel. The judge also disputed that the manner in which she sunbathed moved beyond that which is readily observable on television.
Kolenda said accusations that Sleeman gave people “the finger” also were insufficient to prove she acted criminally. He said “the finger” is expression, and expression is protected under free speech.
In the end, the judge said, neighbors were annoyed by Sleeman’s “lifestyle and appearance”—clearly not a crime.
“Nonconformists must be tolerated, not merely because genuine freedom encompasses the right to be odd, which it does, but because such tolerance dignifies the right of dissent,” he wrote in his opinion. “Dissent is essential to a free society.”
Congratulations Judge Kolenda. But Ms. Sleeman isn’t quite shuck of this little dust up yet. It appears that the Kent County Prosecutor’s office is on the side of conformity and voter appreciation, as evidenced by the following.
Now, the Kent County prosecutor’s office is trying to move the case to the Court of Appeals. Because this is a second appeal, the county must ask the court’s permission to hear the case, said Lynn Hopkins, an assistant prosecutor who often argues appeals.
Reading the entire article will provide you with other details of Ms. Sleeman’s eccentricities and interactions with her neighbors over the years. While Ms. Sleeman is, to say the least, somewhat of a pain in the ass, she isn’t breaking any laws.
Tuesday, February 03, 2004
It Is To Laugh
No further comment.
Dropping the Ball X 2
Based on the suggestions provided within the posts, the lament seems to be the interminable droning on of meetings, or, the late arrival of the attendees. Here’s a couple of the suggestions.
1. Make everyone stand up until the meeting is over…
3. Give everyone a chess clock to limit the number of minutes they are allowed to speak for (this is a variant of an idea from Robin Hanson. Read here for some commentary.
4. Lock the door when the meeting starts on time and do not allow latecomers to enter.
Cowen’s conclusion, in his first post on meetings, is as follows.
Meetings are not always about the efficient exchange of information, or discovering a new idea. Meetings can be about displays of power, signaling that a coalition is in place, wearing down an opponent, staging “theater” to make someone feel better, giving key players the feeling of being insiders, transmitting information about status, or simply marking time until something better happens. It’s one thing to hate meetings. But before you can improve them, make sure you know what meetings are all about.
There is veracity in that concluding statement by Cowen, and in the suggestions above, but, I think the main point has been missed, wide, like the proverbial statement “He couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn.”
The meetings being discussed, as in need of improvement, are business meetings. I want to consider an effective business meeting, and I will do so from the perspective of a church council meeting, which, I was at one point, the president of.
Prior to becoming the president of the church council, at the church I attended at the time, I had been involved in these council meetings as a church deacon. I dreaded attending these council meetings. The meetings tended to be endless bitch sessions or rehashings of the matter at hand, with seemingly no one willing to take control. Much like some business meetings. The Pastor of the church, was the titular head of the council, the president, as in 95% of the churches within this denominatin, but, like his business counterparts, meaning the leader of the meeting, he did not, or could not, control the flow of the meeting.
After serving as a deacon, and suffering through two years of meetings, I was elected as an elder of the church, and, in the first council meeting I attended, as an elder, the Pastor of the church nominated me for president of the council. Suprisingly, I was duly elected. At the age of 31 or 32, I was president of a church, a church known for old men being elders and Pastor’s being the head of.
Enough background. Upon assuming the presidency, in that first council meeting, I laid down the rules, just as a business owner, or meeting leader, should do. A business meeting, or a church council meeting, for that matter, are not democratic processes. Someone is in charge of the meeting. That someone, in the case of a business, is the owner, the president, or meeting caller. In the church, it was the president or Pastor. These individuals are responsible for ensuring the timeliness of the meeting, and, more importantly, they are responsible for ensuring the business at hand is transacted.
With that in mind, I offer these suggestions on how to improve a meeting.
1. Be a leader.
2. As a meeting leader, set a time limit, and, more importantly, make it stick. Did you call a one hour meeting? Make it a one hour meeting.
3. Lay down the rules for the meeting attendance. It starts at such and such a time. You will be there. No exceptions.
4. Allow adequate discussion of the matters under consideration, but remember, if you are the leader, you are in charge. Control the flow of the discussion. Do not allow endless reiteration of what has already been voiced. Summarize what has been stated, and act on it.
5. Be a leader.
Does this seem dictatorial? Well, indeed it is, but, as I mentioned earlier, neither a business, nor a church, is a democratic institution. Someone is ultimately responsible for what occurs within the meeting. If that someone cannot control the events of the meeting, as I suggested above, they should not be in charge.
The meetings I chaired started on time, accomplished all the agenda items, and, ended on time.
Maybe I Should Have More Than Two Beers
As a cigar smoker, after reading this, I should possibly have at least a shot of vodka with my nightly beers.
Who is NIPR.mil?
Do you find this ambiguous domain in your referrer logs? I do, and so does Karen De Coster, evidently.
From one of the links in Karen’s post on this shadowy visitor.
Here’s a two links about NIPR.mil: carnicorn.com & Nipr.mil, as Francisco suspected, is not a single domain a but a hush-hush web proxy that acts as a gateway for hundreds of U.S. military domains in order to hide their identities. It was established by the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) in response to a memorandum (CM-5 1099, INFOCOM) issued in March 1999 by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, calling for “actions to be taken to increase the readiness posture for Information Warfare.” “Uncontrolled Internet connections,” the document says, “pose a significant and unacceptable threat to all Department of Defense information systems and operations.
Posturing Over A Breast
It’s 7:52 A.M. and I just finished shoveling the overnight snowfall. I walk inside, log on, and click over to Drudge and see that the infamous breast is still making tongues wag, eyeballs bulge and, bloviators bloviate.
The lovely Melis has the Today Show tuned in, and I can overhear Lauer et al reading scripts emphasising the mighty FCC’s ongoing investigation, as I sit in the kitchen, listening to an ES-355 sing to me. They’re going to uncover the conspiracy behind this titillating display, for the children of course.
Think about this. Consider the lineup of performers on that stage. Jackson, Timberlake, Kid Rock, P Diddy, Jessica Simpson, faux musicians all. These individuals are entertainers? For whom? Parents, FCCers, MTVers, politicians and other various dogooders, mouthing platitudes of concern for the children, what in the hell did you think you were going to see on that stage? A wholesome rendition of Kum-By-Ya? Check your premises people. Each and every one of the performers on that stage, as a friend stated to me an email, are “delinquents and adolescent barbarians who need their asses spanked, but good..” Nouveau spoiled rich kids is all they are, and all this acting shocked at their antics, on stage, is only an acknowledgement, by all the posturers, that they’ve been fooled all along by the performers so called personas as wholesome entertainment for the whole family. Bah.
Update: I almost forgot this. Last night, while reading The Razor’s Edge, Melis and daughter were watching American Idol. One auditioner was reprimanded by Simon for appearance. Simon’s comment, and I paraphrase here to the best of my recollection, was “This is all about image.” Nothing about talent or musical ability, image. Think about that, too.
Government: the thin blue line that separates us from Janet Jackson.
Monday, February 02, 2004
Where is North Korea’s Solzhenitsyn?
The former chief of North Korea’s Camp 22, modeled, no doubt, on the infamous Russian gulags, is going to be on the BBC tonight, per the Guardian. In the article, under the headline Revealed: the gas chamber horror of North Korea’s gulag, Kwon Hyuk, an assumed name the former chief has taken, provides some details of the horrors being perpetrated within Camp 22, and, within the gas chamber within the camp.
How about it you London dwelling Samizdatists, are any of you going to be watching and providing a report?
Correction: The program evidently aired on BBC yesterday evening. I hope not every individual was watching the Super Bowl spectacle.
Marxism - An Apologist and a Realist
On the 31st of January, I read an article by Slavoj Zizek titled What Is To Be Done (With Lenin)?. The simple answer, of course, is to kick his ideas into the gutter where they belong. Because I couldn’t quite put my finger what I wanted to state in regards to Zizek’s rather obtuse question, I did not post on this at that time. My hesitation resulted in rather fortuitous events, since both Curt and Shonk, at Selling Waves, handily analyzed the piece while I contemplated.
Today, as an antidote to Zizek’s piece, I point to an article by Per Bylund titled The Modern World-System. Bylund’s piece deconstructs the simplicity angle Marxism at times utilizes to sugar its utopian fantasy. All of the links make for interesting reading.
Monday Morning Humor
False Outrage equals Free Publicity
Drudge bears the headline “OUTRAGE AT CBS AFTER JANET BARES BREAST DURING DINNER HOUR; SUPER BOWL SHOW PUSHES LIMITS,” complete with bare breast close up. Oh the horror. A quick read of various blogs this A.M. shows this incident is the topic of conversation. Of course, Justin Timberlake states,
“It was not intentional and is regrettable.”
Yeah, right Justin. MTV, in this statement, backs Timberlake up. Ho, hum.
Hey, its not like Janet’s breast is an eyesore, though that sun broche could wreak havoc on someone’s teeth and gums. In fact, Janet’s breast doesn’t look much different than a National Geographic photo layout of life in Africa, to this day.
If you really want to be outraged about something, get outraged about George Will sideline cheering for expanding government, as Greg Ransom points out.