You've found Father McKenzie. But are you really looking for Eleanor Rigby?

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Speeding driver, thy name is Prudence

"Newly elected Liberal Party [NSW State] frontbencher [and former federal Sex Discrimination Commissioner] Pru Goward has been caught speeding in a school zone. It was her second driving offence in three months after she was fined for running a stop sign in February...."

- Jano Gibson, "It was extremely careless: Goward," Sydney Morning Herald (18 May 2007)

Hmmm, let me guess Ms Goward's two most likely responses:

1. "Hmmm, that's odd... my daughter used to get clocked doing 50 K's over the limit all the time, yet no policeman ever ticketed her. Strange..."


2. "Speed limits around schools are inherently sexist. Because the picking up of children from school has traditionally been constructed in a gendered way, as 'women's work', these lower speed limits constitute indirect discrimination against females. Oh, yeah, sure, supposedly such laws 'protect children from being killed', but as a pro-choicer, I of course utterly reject the patriarchal view that saving the lives of young humans is important enough to justify interfering with a Woman's freedom to speed through life as carelessly as she damn well pleases. After all - the ability to drive a car is extremely important for Women to have control over their own lives. It is surely no coincidence that fundamentalist misogynist regimes, such as the Taliban and Saudi Ara-... What was that, Mr Howard? Oh. Sorry. -- like, uh, the Taliban and like Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale, have forbidden women to drive cars. Since an absolute prohibition on all members of the female gender from driving cars at all is patently abhorrent, it follows that a law regulating how all persons drive is equally abhorrent if it can be shown to have a disparate impact on the female gender. I mean, it's just obvious. We Women Decide."

Pick one.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Temporal inversion paradox, or, the future is past

Me mate "the Hobbit" recently submitted a polite, nay almost fawning, request via the ABC website to inquire as to when they was gonna bring the new (third Russell T Davies) season of "Dr Who" to Australia, like. The reply he got was by someone at the ABC signing herself "Zoë Starr." "Zoë Starr"? Sheesh. That is, like, sooooooo obviously a pseudonym. If you really want to épater les anoraques, why not just go all the way and sign yourself "Leela Adama" or "Rose Tylium" or "Wilma 'Hotdog' Deering" and be done with it?

For what it's worth, here's my predictions for the Third Season of the Renewed Dr Who:

Episode 1:

Introduction to new Doctor and/or new companion as London department-store advertising gimmicks, possessed by alien invaders, come alive and attack.

Episode 2:

A Hitchhiker's Guide-style journey into the far future. Doctor will have a run-in with Lady Cassandra.

Episode 3:

Trip back to Victorian England. Meet an iconic, easily-recognized figure ("this actor portraying Charles Darwin", perhaps, or maybe Charles Bradlaugh) and discover that some ancient superstition is actually a trapped alien.

Episode 6:

An ancient enemy of the Doctor will return, from the old "bubble-wrap in a quarry" days, but this time sleeker, more streamlined, more badass and with far better CGI. An eccentric and megalomaniac millionaire risks unleashing these evil villains on an unsuspecting galaxy.

Episode 7:

Doctor's assistant will have a heart-rendingly brief reunion with her long-dead beloved parent. And deal with an alien invasion.

Episode 8:

Doctor and companion will travel back to London of half a century ago and poke fun at the unenlightened social attitudes of the time. And deal with an alien invasion.

Epsiode 10:

Some red meat thrown to the diehard fans, to acknowledge their 44 years of unstinting devotion to the series. Doctor and Companion will deal with an alien invasion.

And yes, the ABC has bought the episodes from the Beeb (it takes nearly a year to ship the precious video-tapes across the many lightyears that separate London, England from Ultimo, Sydney)... but not yet fixed a screening date. Do I look bovvered?

Portman doin' the Bartman (ee-ew)

Star Wars and The Simpsons. Linked, not just by their iconic pop-cult[ure] status and their unusually frequent recurrence of intra-familial choking, but now by the presence of Natalie Portman:

One would think Bart would have known the First Law of Movies:

"Any film where Natalie Portman's character announces that she's pregnant, will end badly."

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Spongebob Squarepants is next...

'Gay' tubbies face government ban

Sydney Morning Herald (29 May 2007)

Poland's conservative government took its drive to curb what it sees as homosexual propaganda to the small screen on Monday, taking aim at Tinky Winky and the other Teletubbies.

Ewa Sowinska, government-appointed children rights watchdog, told a local magazine published on Monday that she was concerned the popular BBC children's show promoted homosexuality.

She said she would ask psychologists to advise if this was the case.

In comments reminiscent of criticism by the late US evangelist Jerry Falwell, she was quoted as saying: "I noticed (Tinky Winky) has a lady's purse, but I didn't realise he's a boy."

"At first I thought the purse would be a burden for this Teletubby ... Later I learned that this may have a homosexual undertone."

Poland's rightist government has upset human rights groups and drawn criticism within the European Union by apparent discrimination against homosexuals.

Polish Education Minister Roman Giertych has proposed laws sacking teachers who promote "homosexual lifestyle" and banning "homo-agitation" in schools.

But in a sign that the government wants to distance itself from Sowinska's comments, Parliamentary Speaker Ludwig Dorn said he had warned her against making public comments "that may turn her department into a laughing stock".

The 10-year-old Teletubbies, which features four rotund, brightly coloured characters loved by children around the world, became a target of religious conservatives after Falwell suggested Tinky Winky could be homosexual.

ABC reaction

The ABC will not be removing Teletubbies from their roster, regardless of the findings of a Polish Government probe into whether the show is homosexual propaganda.

"We've been showing it for ten years. It's basically a non-issue for us. Australian kids love the Teletubbies,'' Catherine Bocking, publicist for ABC Kids, said.

"The issue's come up before hasn't it, this whole handbag thing, we don't see anything in it.''

The decision has nothing to do with an alleged left-wing bias at the ABC.

"It's colour and movement for children, it's nothing political,'' Ms Bocking said.

Reuters and Erik Jensen

Monday, May 28, 2007

No blood for... blood

Once again, modern Medical Science vindicates the Popes' repeated warnings, ever since Sanguis Humanae in 1968, against violations of the ancient Scriptural injunction to "keep yourself from blood". "Enlightened" opinion mocked the Popes - that Monty Python satirized this stance with their song "Every Platelet is Sacred" proves ipso facto the Holy Father to be correct - yet we cannot ignore the inconvenient truth that modern blood transfusion technology is the poisoned fruit of such evil scientists as Josef Mengele, who conducted hideous experiments on concentration-camp prisoners. And as for the so-called "Protestant" churches... they stand, once again, condemned. For if they blithely approve, without any apparent qualms, a medical procedure that has a 25% failure rate, how can they possibly be speaking the Word of God?

"Medics' transfusion warning "

Grant McArthur

Herald Sun (28 May 2007),21985,21803500-662,00.html

ONE in four blood transfusions may be unnecessary and risking patient lives, leading medics have been told.

Blood transfusions were a "religion" that had never been safety or efficacy tested, US cardiothoracic specialist Prof Bruce Spiess told the Australian and New Zealand College of Anaesthetists annual scientific meeting in Melbourne.

Research showed Jehovah's Witnesses who refused blood transfusions had better survival rates from heart operations than patients who had normal transfusions.

Sixty-five per cent of transfusions stem from surgery, of which anaesthetists are responsible for half.

Prof Spiess said alternatives including minimising blood loss and maximising oxygenation should be examined.

His views were supported by Dr Peter McCall of Austin Health, who said an audit of fresh frozen plasma transfusions at Victorian hospitals had shown a third were inappropriate.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Beckwith on the "religious genius" of Mormonism

"... Even if one thinks that [Joseph] Smith was profoundly mistaken
(as I do), one cannot help but marvel at the religious genius of this
project [Mormonism]: It has all the advantages of Reformation
Protestantism and nineteenth-century Restorationism ("Let's get back
to what Jesus and the apostles originally taught") with all the
advantages of Catholicism and Orthodoxy - an apostolic magisterium
within the confines of a visible church. Smith has both a priesthood
of all believers and a priesthood managed by a church hierarchy. He
offers a new gospel unconstrained by centuries of theological
precedent, yet it he could claim that it is as old as the apostles.
He could, without contradiction, reject tradition while claiming to
be the true guardian of an ancient message. It may be wrong, but it
was brilliant..."

- Francis J Beckwith, "When the Saint Goes Swearing In",
<> (Thursday 24 May 2007)

Thursday, May 24, 2007

"Voyager is not true"

Okay then... strike "plausible within its own universe" and change that to "close enough to our own universe that we can see it is even remotely applicable".

Too much of Star Trek, for me, was like the economist marooned on a desert island with many crates of tinned food who said, "It's easy. First, we just have to assume a can opener".

Example: Synthehol vs ambrosia. Yes, yes, in 500 years time some genius may well have invented an intoxicating liquor that can be burned off in seconds when adrenalin kicks in, so no drunkenness or hangover. But for actually drama, it's better to have Tigh hitting his Jack Daniels when the Cylons attack, so he has to make decisions while sozzled.

Much of the super-snazzy Star Trek technology was devised by Sheen Rotten Perry in the 1960s and 1970s to arbitrarily cut through problems with the limited special effects of the time. Eg: transporters to avoid showing a toy shuttle on a fishing line "landing" on a papier-mache planet each week; food slots (replicators?) in the walls to avoid having to build a set for a ships' galley; comlinks on collars to avoid speaking into clunky old phones the way Gaeta does.

The problem is, over time these "solutions" create more problems for the screenwriters. As David Gerrold noted, the transporter made it too easy for Kirk et al to escape from danger. There were only two ways to generate tension: [a] have the aliens nullify his transporter so he couldn't beam out til after the final ad break, or [b] create some dramatic situation where he would choose not to beam out til a problem was solved. Guess which path the writers chose more often -- the easy or the hard.

True, the transporter did create some new story ideas -- especially "fused personality" ("Tuvix") and the parallel universe of "Mirror, Mirror".

John B wrote:

I think 'true' in this context equates with 'plausible within the context of the relevant fictional Universe'.

Personally, I always thought 'Voyager' was plausible in it's context because of -

(a) the virtually unlimited energy generated by the matter/ anti-matter reactions carried out in Voyager's warp core.

(b) the very advanced matter/ energy technology that underlies replicators, transporters and the holo-deck which meant that as long as Voyager was even partly functioning the crew could build or rebuild just about anything and make their own equipment, food and water out of thin air. (In fact, the thing I didn't consider realistic given this technology was that they had to ration use of the replicator.)

(c) the very advanced medical technology that allowed regeneration of limbs and organs or substitution of very effective bionic replacements which meant that the crew were very difficult to kill or incapacitate.

(d) the fundamental change to human society and values between the 22nd and 24th Centuries that made the crew more mentally stable than a star-lost 20th Century space ship crew could be. NB: I recall that in an episode of original Star Trek (I can't recall it's name but it featured the villain Garth of Izar) it was claimed that all human mental illness was now curable with proper treatment and in an episode of TNG (which involved mind-controlling aliens) that the human brain had been completely mapped.

Watching "Omen III: The Final Conflict" on DVD the other night -- Our most sernior Spouse and I agreed that, while we could believe Damien Thorn [*] being son of Satan, only being killable using N (1 > 7) of the Seven Daggers of Megiddo, etc, what we couldn't accept was that DT's henchperson "Dean's" wife, having worked out her husband is a long-standing Satanist who has just orchestrated the murder of a hundred babies, would do nothing more than trash his office... then sit there amidst the mess, cradling the newborn, wait for hubby to come back from work, and then say "Keep away from him, you murderer!" while unarmed. In reality (or in a more plausible script), she would be much more likely either to flee somewhere, or else to make hubby a cuppa laced with arsenic. Science and (on screen) magic powers may change -- human motivations don't.

Besides, aren't Satanic priests supposed to get allocated multiple Wives? Don't tell me Mike Warnke lied to his readers...!

Speaking of babies surviving... I think the Mooreon is right about Voyager, although I do note that New BSG is a bit fuzzy about how many Vipers the Fleet has left in its air [sic] wing, even though we get an (updated) population count with each episode.

[*] As played by Sam Neill, who looks especially [like mutual friend "K"] when smirking at his Satanic Amway Convention of followers, or chatting up a British journalist whose tightly curled perm looks like it would cause her to bounce if some evil nanny pushed her head-first from a third-floor hospital window. "K" has consistently been likened to two actors in particular: Sam Neill and Gabriel Byrne. Not only are both - of the Irish religion, but both have also played the Devil in human form.

This hits right at the heart of the "suspending disbelief" required of good fiction.

Of course droids, Jedi and Ewoks aren't real, but we choose to accept the premise because the human relationships are compelling.

If that fails, no number of technical gadgets will get past the cynics radar

The "wow" factor will never trump the "heart" factor

Star Wars 1, 2 and 3 as cases in point.

[...] Moore's re-imagining of Galactica is noted for taking a more serious tone than its predecessor, something that was foreshadowed in the January 2000 for Cinescape interview, where he discussed what he saw as the root problem with Voyager.

"The premise has a lot of possibilities. Before it aired, I was at a convention in Pasadena, and Sternbach and Okuda were on stage, and they were answering questions from the audience about the new ship. It was all very technical, and they were talking about the fact that in the premise this ship was going to have problems. It wasn't going to have unlimited sources of energy. It wasn't going to have all the doodads of the Enterprise. It was going to be rougher, fending for themselves more, having to trade to get supplies that they want. That didn't happen. It doesn't happen at all, and it's a lie to the audience. I think the audience intuitively knows when something is true and something is not true. Voyager is not true. If it were true, the ship would not look spic-and-span every week, after all these battles it goes through. How many times has the bridge been destroyed? How many shuttlecrafts have vanished, and another one just comes out of the oven? That kind of bullshitting the audience I think takes its toll. At some point the audience stops taking it seriously, because they know that this is not really the way this would happen. These people wouldn't act like this."

Generally, fans have seen Moore's treatment of the new "Battlestar Galactica" as addressing the criticisms of the Star Trek franchise which led to its cancellation. [...]

David Plotz asks the perennial question...

"Why Are Priests In the Bible So Corrupt?"

That's one heck of a lot of bright orange flashing lights that would have suddenly materialised beneath the tefillim on their foreheads over the centuries BCE.

On sniggering at Enid Blyton

Currently reading an old Enid Blyton book of stories to my kids. Finding it very hard to avoid giggling every time Ms Blyton writes things like... well, all boys go through a juvenile phase of snickering "hee, hee, hee" at older children's books that use words like "fairies" or "queer" - that's old hat by now: you grow out of that (eventually).

BUT when one has to read aloud phrases like "Because, of course, Elves do not enjoy Golden Rain" -- with a straight face -- while thinking of Seann Willliammm Sccccotttt in "American Pie II" -- it's just difficult, man, difficult, that's all.


"Can the Amish [-] Ride in Helicopters?"

Sounds like the Amish have pussed out on their purported "Helicopters - are intrinsically evil, o English" doctrine and decided that ends do justify means after all. Their consciences would be clearer if they re-defined helicopters as "buggies with very fast-spinning wheels", or distinguished the intentio involved.

How any moral agent, knowing of the death and devastation wrought by helicopters in the Vietnam War or Gulf War I, could bring himself to have anything to do with them, is a question I leave to historians rather than theologians.

This "Millersville University" has me curious.

"Can the Amish Ride in Helicopters? Medical evacuation among the Pennsylvania Dutch."
By Daniel Engber
Daniel Engber is a regular contributor to Slate.
Slate (posted Tuesday, October 3, 2006, at 6:23 PM ET), URL: <>

A gun-toting milk-truck driver attacked a group of Amish girls in their Pennsylvania schoolhouse on Monday, killing five and critically wounding another five <>. Some of the victims were evacuated by helicopter <,0,3471518.story?coll=bal-home-headlines > to nearby hospitals. Meanwhile, police arranged ground transport for the victims' families, who had refused to fly. Which modes of transportation are the Amish allowed to use?

It depends on the community. Some groups are more liberal than others - the Beachy Amish, for example, can drive cars. The most conservative Amish settlements - called the "Old Order Amish <>" - have sought to limit air and automobile travel, as well as the use of electricity and telephones, since the beginning of the 20th century.

Each Amish community (or "district") develops its own, unwritten rules of conduct, called the Ordnung. Representatives from several dozen families meet twice a year to discuss possible changes to the rules, like whether it would be OK to use a machine to cool milk or whether Amish men can go to work at a local factory. If everyone agrees on a new rule, it becomes one of the customs of the community.

In general, the rules about technology are intended to keep the community close together. Most districts outlawed the ownership and operation of cars years ago because they might promote excessive pride and individualism. But none of the rules are absolute religious strictures. In the settlement of Lancaster County, where Monday's shooting took place, the Amish can ride in cars under certain circumstances, as long as they're not themselves behind the wheel. Taxi and van services exist around Amish communities, and some bus companies cater to Amish customers. (For a while, a bus called the "Sarasota Express" picked up Amish from the Midwest and took them down to Florida.)

The rules against telephones and electricity are similarly flexible. In Lancaster, phones are allowed < > as long as they're not in the home. A group of families might share a single community phone in a shack behind a barn or at the end of the lane. (The rules on cell phones <> are still being worked out.) Though the Old Order Amish refuse to hook up with the main power grid, some districts allow the use of 12-volt batteries to power small electric devices. Medical researchers <> who study the Lancaster Amish bring in their patients via car service and outfit them with devices like blood glucose monitors.

The Old Order Amish are less flexible on air travel since it's not seen as vital to the well-being of the community. In general, you're not allowed to be a passenger in a plane or helicopter under any circumstances. That said, the community isn't likely to object to an airlift if it could save someone's life after an accident. Monday's shooting victims may have gotten even more leeway to ride in helicopters since they were all young children. The Amish are "Anabaptists < >," which means they believe in the baptism of adults rather than infants. Since children haven't yet been baptized, they're not fully bound by the rules of the Ordnung.

Explainer thanks Joel Hartman of the University of Missouri, Diane Zimmerman Umble of Millersville University, and Jameson Wetmore of Arizona State University.

Beware the Australian Timocrats!

Does this mean the next item on the Democrats' political agenda: forcing Islamic schools to feed children with bottles?

"Her name is Bin Ladin "
(9 August 2004)

Whether you spell it Bin Ladin or bin Laden, they are family, explains Carmen Bin Ladin, estranged wife of Osama's older half-brother Yeslam. In her memoir, Inside the Kingdom: My Life in Saudi Arabia, she reveals the literally veiled life she led within the family compound in Jidda, where she lived from 1976 to 1985. Of Swiss and Persian heritage, Carmen now lives in Geneva with her daughters.

Did you know Osama?

Because I am a woman, Osama, who is strictly devout, wouldn't see my face unveiled or sit with me. He came to personify how powerless I had become as a female in Saudi society. At a family gathering, once, I wondered why Osama's wife kept trying to feed their infant son water with a spoon. This baby was just too tiny to use a spoon, and he was howling with thirst. I asked, "Why not use a bottle?" Osama wouldn't allow it, I was told; it was his religious conviction that babies only be fed by breast or with a spoon. [...]

"The Smell of Hell: Does Satan reek of rotten eggs?"

My brother used to tell visiting Jehovah's Witnesses that he was an Indian Muslim (he is olive-skinned and used to have a bushy beard), buttressed by statements such as "George Bush, he is the devil, sir". Of course, that meant Bush the First. You know, the guy who had UN Security Council approval before he attacked Saddam, which meant everyone in the world supported Gulf War Round I and made it a stunning victory with almost zero blowback.

Anyway, the below may be of interest, particularly for the similarities it shows between "al-Shaitan" in Islam, "ha-Satan" in Judaism, "Lucifer" in Catholicism, "The Dark Man" in New England Puritanism, and "The Peterjensen" in Orange Catholic Gregorianism.

"The Smell of Hell: Does Satan reek of rotten eggs?"
By Daniel Engber
Slate (22 September 2006)
URL: <>

Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez compared George Bush to the Antichrist <> in a speech at the United Nations on Wednesday. "The devil came here yesterday, right here," he said. "It smells of sulfur still today, this table that I am now standing in front of." When did Satan start smelling like sulfur?

About a century or two before the birth of Christ. Satan almost certainly gets his rotten scent from his underworld lair, described in the Book of Revelation as a "lake of burning sulfur <;&version=31 ;>." Hell as such doesn't appear in the Old Testament, but the book of Genesis does recount how God "rained down burning sulfur on Sodom and Gomorrah <;9 ;>." The idea of a sulfurous Hell ruled by an archvillain called Satan seems to have arisen at some point in the period between when the two sacred texts were written - probably in the first or second centuries BC. The Apocryphal Books of Enoch < >, for example, talk about a place of punishment with "rivers of fire" and "a smell of sulfur <>."

It didn't take long for the devil to take on the stench of his kingdom. By the 400s, the Councils of Toledo <> would describe him as a horned beast with cloven hooves, a huge phallus, and a sulfurous smell.

Tradition placed hell as far as possible from God and heaven. The Bible uses the word "Gehenna," which means the "Valley of Hinnom <>" and refers to a garbage dump on the outskirts of ancient Jerusalem. Hinnom stood in for the underworld because of its topography - as the lowest point in the area, it served as the spiritual counterpoint for the high ground of the temple mount. The same sort of reasoning imagined hell at the very center of the Earth, in a fiery and sulfurous pit.

This isn't an unreasonable description. Underground volcanic activity can release plumes of sulfurous gas, as rocks heat up in the absence of significant oxygen. Sulfur doesn't always smell bad - given enough oxygen, it generally takes the form of an inoffensive sulfate <>. But when sulfur is given off from these hot underground sources, it comes in the stinky, rotten-eggs varieties of hydrogen sulfide <> or pure sulfur gas. (Think of a smelly, bubbling hot spring.) Gregory I <>, who became pope in 590 C.E., made the connection between volcanoes and hell more explicit. In his Dialogues, he describes a sinner "thrown into Vulcan's gulph < >" on one of the volcanic islands north of Sicily.

The idea that Satan had a strong odor is consistent with ancient attitudes about smells. A connection between sweet, dry smells and the divine goes back to the Greek epics, and it shows up in precise terms in the Old Testament: The Lord tells Moses to prepare an anointing oil "blended as by the perfumer < ;>" consisting of liquid myrrh, cinnamon, cassia, and olive oil. Rotten-smelling gases like hydrogen sulfide would have been associated with moral corruption.

Got a question about today's news? Ask the Explainer <>.

Explainer thanks Alan Bernstein of the University of Arizona, David Butterfield of the Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory, Susan Ashbrook Harvey of Brown University, and Gregory Mobley of Andover Newton Theological School.

Daniel Engber is a regular contributor to Slate.

Fw: "Here's something us high church folks don't get"

"Updating church?"
by Dr Conrad Gempf
(8 September 2006, 11:50 AM)

Here's something us high church folks don't get. Are you going to say that it was right for ministers to dress in polyester suits when those were the rage in the 50s?

I think for low church folks, worship and church are about people expressing their feelings for God. Were that the way it was supposed to be, then it would be right for services to reflect the people involved. The whole thing revolves around them: the people as addressing God, but still -- the people.

For high church folks, worship and church are about coming into God's presence and giving him his due in ways appropriate for him. It's not simply about bringing eternity and the universal church down to my level, but about seeing my life lifted up to join with eternity and the Church Through the Ages. In such a case you want something that reminds you of Otherness, something that is not necessarily in complete cahoots with contemporary culture.

Sometimes postmoderns seem to think that 'old-fashioned' church was a relic of 1950s culture. As if our churches need to be updated because ordinary people on the street stopped going around in robes and chanting responsively on buses sometime in the 1980s. Part of the point was that it was not our culture, that it was counter-cultural. Priests dressed in robes rather than dressing as themselves to deflect attention from themselves; from personalities. The priests are not up there because of who they are, but because of the role they were given to play in representing/summarising the congregation before God and representing God to the congregation (depending on which way they're facing at the front, as it happens).

The congregation expressing itself toward God is still part of a high church church life. Arguably it's more pronounced, if anything, since during hymns the congregation are the performers with only an accompanyist who is hidden off stage, rather than functioning largely as an audience and background vocal choir for a set of performers who are centre stage, backs turned away from the altar. In a low church setting, though, your 'time of worship' is the singing. In a high church setting, you interrupt the serious business of worship to take time out to express how you feel about it through singing.

The more that you believe that worship is simply about unplugged self-expression of love for God by people of a particular culture, the more it would be hypocritical for you to rail against cheesy American tele-evangelists. Those polyester suits and gleaming gold cross lapel badges are the stone-washed jeans and bling of their subculture, their unnaturally white toothpaste smiles are the equivalent of piercings. And for them television and tents are the equivalent of the podcast section of the iTunes Music Store and the festival/conference speaking circuit.

Fw: "individual Catholics (meaning Ken Miller) get to define what the Catholic Church stands for..."

Deeply - is Dr Heddle aggrieved. Deeply. Yet nor does he condemn his opponents:

[...] Moving on, they [proponents of Darwinism] will argue that it is the IDers who wish to impose their religion on society at large--while heaping accolades on their guru, Richard Dawkins, who believes that parents who raise their children in their religion are committing child abuse. Is the implication of what will happen to religious families, should Dawkins's bigotry ever go mainstream, not clear?

Similarly, they will argue like libertarians if a local government mandates the teaching of ID along with evolution, and turn around and argue like totalitarians if a local government simply permits it. No government intervention can be their mantra in Georgia, on Tuesday, while the government must take control of a school's curriculum will do nicely on Wednesday, in California.

Or it allows to them to argue (actually, in this case, lie is probably more accurate) that the Catholic Church is fine with evolution period, when in fact the Catholic Church is demonstrably fine only with a very narrow perspective: theistic evolution. If pressed too hard, their arguments will start sounding like: individual Catholics (meaning Ken Miller) get to define what the Catholic Church stands for, not the anachronistic pope, and not the obscure Magisterium

And speaking of theistic evolution, they will at times argue that it is indistinguishable from "regular" evolution or, if politically expedient (or, more likely, if caught off-guard) will treat it as little more than religious charlatanry. So while, for effect, they make Ken Miller dance for the cameras, the view behind the curtain is all Sam Harris (HT Telic Thoughts): "It is time that scientists and other public intellectuals observed that the contest between faith and reason is zero-sum. There is no question but that nominally religious scientists like Francis Collins and Kenneth R Miller are doing lasting harm to our discourse by the accommodations they have made to religious irrationality." [...]

-- David Heddle at

Well, at least they've correctly identified the authority (auctoritas) of the Millersterium, even if they mixed up individuate members thereof, much as some cannot tell their Pius IX from their Pius X, or as they say of liberal Catholics in the USA - "mistaking John Paul Stevens for John Paul II".

"Miller on a New Constitution"

Unlike previous drafts with the same title, this one's not calling for the imposition of Shari'a Canon Law, with the local Ordinary having full power (potestas) to take stern measures against all instances of genocide, murder, theft, adultery, non-annulled divorces, artificial forms of contraception, Sabbath-breaking, non-alphabetically-arranged CD collections, fathers who procreate before paying off their house mortgage, excessively-bright sunlight, and fools who fail in their ignorance to acknowledge that Velvet Underground was the greatest frakkin' band the Seventies ever produced.

Although I do note that this particular Lesser Miller does want the new "Supreme Law of the United States" to outlaw abortion, so he's one-tenth of the way there.

August 31, 2006

Miller on a New Constitution

Jeremy M. Miller (Chapman University - School of Law) has posted It's Time For A New U.S. Constitution <> (Southern University Law Review, Vol. 17, pp. 208, 1987) on SSRN. Here is the abstract:

In late 1985, two United States Supreme Court Justices took the unprecedented step of publicly stating that the intent of the Framers of the Constitution was of decreasing importance in interpreting that document. Justice Brennan limned, it is [a]rrogance clothed as humility to pretend . . . we can gauge accurately, the intent of the Framers. Perhaps the celebration surrounding the bicentennial of the Constitution should be tempered with a re-evaluation.

Since the adoption of the Constitution in 1787, there has been no Constitutional Convention other than the one which created the document, though there have been several amendments. A convention shall be called by Congress if it is requested via application of the legislatures of two-thirds of the states, pursuant to Article V of the present Constitution. Although approximately thirty states, four short of two-thirds, have presently petitioned Congress for a Convention on a balanced budget amendment, it is truly time for stronger medicine than the continuing piecemeal amendment process.

The states should begin petitioning Congress for an unrestricted Convention designed to bring the Constitution in line with the desires of the people on a host of issues to be discussed in this article.

Posted by Lawrence Solum on August 31, 2006 at 06:02 AM

"Southern Africa's Catholic bishops have warned priests to stop moonlighting as witch doctors, fortune tellers and traditional healers"

"African bishops warn priests against witchcraft"
Wednesday, August 16, 2006
Posted: 10:03 a.m. EDT (14:03 GMT)

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa (Reuters) -- Southern Africa's Catholic bishops have warned priests to stop moonlighting as witch doctors, fortune tellers and traditional healers, and to rely on Christ for miracles.

The Southern African Catholic Bishops' Conference, which represents bishops in South Africa, Swaziland and Botswana, said on its Web sites some priests were adopting the traditional African practice of calling on ancestors for healing.

The bishops ordered priests to "desist from practices involving spirits," and to steer clear from witchcraft, fortune-telling and selling spiritual powers or magic medicines.

"The belief that ancestors are endowed with supernatural powers borders on idolatry. It is God, and God alone, who is all-powerful while the ancestors are created by him," said the pastoral letter to priests issued earlier this month.

Many in Southern Africa turn to sangomas -- or traditional healers -- to cure illness, ward off evil spirits and even improve their sex lives. Sangomas, who play a key role in rural communities but are also revered by many in towns and cities, call on ancestral spirits to heal and give advice.

Some Christian sects, like the South Africa-based Zion Christian Church, fuse traditional African beliefs about the power of the ancestors with orthodox Christianity.

The Southern African bishops said Catholic priests should instead heal in the name of Jesus Christ, and should tend to the soul, not just the body.

The downside of having psychic power to know What Women Want...

Gibson also allegedly yelled at LA police that "The Freemasons started the French Revolution and founded Planned Parenthood", "On the seventh hour of the seventh day of the seventh month, the Sons of Gwalia shall quench the thirst of their scimitars in the quivering flesh of the Medical Board of Queensland", "Our rights under the Magna flamin' Carta is bein' taken away, urr, daily, cove, by thur socialist Howard bloody junta", and "We therefore most authentically pronounce, define and decree that you -- yes, you, the brown-haired lieutenant eating the donuts -- shall wed, forthwith, Our most beloved sister in law."

However his tirade ended when the police threatened to handcuff him to his car, set the petrol alight, and leave him with a hacksaw.

Mr Gibson received a suspended sentence, conditional upon him expiating his manifold wrongs by working in a regional town and attending a minimum of four (4) screenings of "Science". [*]

[*]     The one about the crop circles.

PS: "Alan Nierob, his spokesman"... that's a palindrome, right? "Borein Nala" back to front? But what does it MEAN?

The Sunday Times (UK) (30 July 2006)
"Mel Gibson rants against Jews in drink-drive arrest"
John Harlow,,2087-2292336,00.html

MEL GIBSON, the Oscar-winning Hollywood actor, apologised last night for his "despicable" anti-Semitic rant when he was arrested on a drink-driving charge in Los Angeles. Gibson, 50, is alleged to have tried to escape when he was pulled over on the Pacific Coast highway near his Malibu home in the early hours of Friday morning and then launched into a barrage of anti-Semitic curses against the arresting sheriffs.

Police have confirmed the actor and director, who rose to fame by playing characters such as Mad Max and a mentally unstable policeman in the Lethal Weapon series, was found to have a blood- alcohol level of 0.12%, above the 0.08% Californian limit. He was charged with drink-driving and released on $5,000 (£2,600) bail.

In a statement issued by Alan Nierob, his spokesman, Gibson did not detail what happened but said: "I acted like a person completely out of control when I was arrested and said things that I do not believe to be true and which are despicable. I am deeply ashamed of everything I said."

The star added: "I have battled with the disease of alcoholism for all my adult life and profoundly regret my horrific relapse."

Nierob refused to comment on reports that after Gibson was stopped for driving at 87mph in a 45mph zone on the notoriously dangerous road he sat at the wheel of his Lexus LS 430 and repeatedly said: "My life is f*****."

According to police records, Gibson, a strict Catholic, then launched into an anti-Semitic tirade, referring to "f****** Jews" and stating that "the Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world". He also repeatedly insulted the police officers, addressing one female sergeant as "sugar tits".

If true, the anti-Semitic remarks are likely to cause a storm in Hollywood where many of the industry leaders are Jewish.

This is not the first time the actor has confronted allegations of anti-semitism. Gibson faced similar accusations when making his most successful movie, The Passion Of the Christ, whose dialogue is in Aramaic. The subtitle to one line, spoken by a Jewish priest, about Christ's blood being "on us and our children" was removed to placate his critics.

There is also a family history. Gibson's father Hutton has been branded a Holocaust denier for claiming the extermination of 6m Jews is largely a myth and that many of the supposed victims had moved to Brooklyn.

The actor has admitted "atrocities" were committed during the second world war but has stopped short of criticising his 87-year-old father, who is also a devout Catholic.

Gibson also has a history of trouble with alcohol. He admitted he nearly missed the audition for his breakthrough film, Mad Max, because he got into a drunken bar fight the night before.

"When I turned up on set without the scars two weeks later they did not recognise me," he recalled.

In 1991 he joined a Malibu chapter of Alcoholics Anonymous, where he accepted the help of female mentors to give up his beer habit, but has admitted it has been a "battle every day which only my wife can help me win".

Zeus' prophecy to Aeneas

"Then Romulus... shall build the walls of Mars and establish a race of people, whom he shall call 'Romans', after his own name. Upon them I set no limits, whether in time or in space, but make them the gift of empire without end. Indeed, even Juno - whose bitterness now fills earth, sea and sky, with fear and torment - will mend her ways, and favor them as I do; these lords of the world, the toga-clad Romans."

- Zeus, quoted in Virgil's The Aeneid (Book 1, Line 277)

Lott going on re: Europe

"Since Europeans are no longer expected to go to church, self-selection encourages a more fervent kind of believer. In France, some estimates put attendance at Latin masses performed by the schismatic group the Society of Pious [sic] X ahead of attendance at vernacular masses."

- Jeremy Lott, "Be Afraid, Be Somewhat Afraid," The American Spectator (17 May 2007),