Thursday, March 27, 2008

Rulings from the press box

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia expects too much of journalists. They may think they know how to read a court opinion, but not without a political, class struggle lens.

Scalia took the NY Times to task for some of their recent coverage:
Scalia said news organizations often fail to focus on the text of the laws the court interprets, citing accounts of last month's 8-1 decision that made it harder for consumers to sue makers of federally approved medical devices.

He singled out for criticism a New York Times editorial on the case headlined "No Recourse for the Injured."

The media often make it appear as though the court is reaching policy judgments on its own rather than basing its decisions on the text of the law at issue in a case, Scalia said.
That headline made me choke. And I've seen a few stupid ones.


Thursday, March 20, 2008

Top secret dumpster

I guess no one is surprised that Canada would throw away their plans for a counter-terror unit. But, somehow those plans ended up in an Ottawa gutter. A passing citizen apparently found them sufficiently clear to identify their origin and pass them on to a newspaper.
The plans -- which the passer-by handed to the Ottawa Citizen newspaper -- contain detailed drawings of the building's floor plan, electrical grid and the storage bay for robots designed to detect chemical and biological agents.
Canadian robots? I thought they trained beavers for that role.


Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The Third Reich and the church

I ran into some interesting reading today in some TIME Magazine archives -- in particular, an old cover on Paul Joseph Goebbels, the Nazi "Minister of Propaganda and Public Enlightenment." Although the article is a bit long and hard to read because of some formatting issues, I was unable to tear myself away -- considering the article was written in 1933, it provides a very interesting look at something that was very current. Perhaps it still should be.

I was especially interested in how the German churches responded -- since the article touched a bit on that. So little is generally known about the rise of Hitler and how the average Christian in Germany responded. An interesting figure to study is a man named Friedrich von Bodelschwingh, a man who eventually became known for his insistence on the church's autonomy from the Nazi state.

Claremont McKenna College has an interesting study on the details of German evangelical church of that day. I noticed an interesting fact: the Nazi-supporting "German Christians" tended to be worse persecutors of Protestantism than the government.
By the middle of 1934, Protestant opposition to Hitler was well organized, and the German Christian Church became fraught with internal division. Without support from the government, the German Christians and Muller became totally ineffective.

This did not stop Jager from brutally oppressing pastors in Wurttemberg (although the strength of the resistance in Prussia handicapped Jager's ability to interfere with church operations), and continuing to spread propaganda denouncing the Protestant opposition. A Protestant Kulturkampf ("culture struggle" -- my note) was instituted, and throughout Germany, with the exception of Westphalia, opposition was brutally repressed. Pastors were fired, arrested, and jailed.

In October of 1934 Jager was dismissed by Hitler, and all measures against dissenting bishops were annulled. Opposition leaders were summoned to Berlin, and Frick assured them that neutrality was now the official government policy towards the German Evangelical Church.

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Tuesday, March 18, 2008

How much for the windows?

Motor City is selling homes for the price of cars. Some of smallest shacks are going for $1,500, prompting one auctioneer to remind bidders that the ground under the house is included in the deal.
After selling house after house in the Motor City for less than the $29,000 it costs to buy the average new car, the auctioneer tried a new line: "The lumber in the house is worth more than that!"

As Detroit reels from job losses in the auto industry, the depressed city has emerged as a boomtown in one area: foreclosed property.
Oh, and this quote really got me:
"I'm not sure it's congratulations," said Kirk Neal, a 55-year-old auto body shop worker who bought a ranch in the suburb of Oak Park for $34,000. "My wife is going to kill me."
I can just picture it now -- the compulsive auction goer accidentally becomes a rancher because the land was so cheap.


Friday, March 14, 2008

Some things haven't changed...yet

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

'Fairness' unfair

George W sure nailed this one. There are few issues which are as blatantly self-serving as this one. It's like protectionism in the marketplace of ideas. What am I talking about?
Some members of Congress want to reinstate a regulation that was repealed 20 years ago. It has the Orwellian name called the Fairness Doctrine. Supporters of this regulation say we need to mandate that any discussion of so-called controversial issues on the public airwaves includes equal time for all sides. This means that many programs wanting to stay on the air would have to meet Washington’s definition of balance. Of course, for some in Washington, the only opinions that require balancing are the ones they don’t like.
Basically, it would put a government agency in charge of making sure radio had equal amounts of competing ideology on each station. We do already have something similar in the "equal time" rules -- this is very targeted in scope though. Equal time deals with paid political advertising on the air waves. If one campaign buys time, the station cannot deny the competition from buying equal time. Note: they still aren't required to have them on, but they can't DENY the opposition from PAYING for equal air time.

The fairness doctrine, however, would not only put the FCC in charge of deciding how much time a station can give to a talk show, but by extension, this would mean they have to decide what views constitute the opposition. Who knows how they would make these subjective decisions. Would it be enough for Hannity to bring Colmes on for this radio show as well? Or do people pretty much consider their gig on TV to be a conservative show? Is it fair to think of it as only two ideologies in the first place. How many other competing views would need to be fairly considered and included on any political pulpit?

It's bogus. Subjective rules like the Fairness Doctrine would always end up being decided in the courts -- something we don't need.


Saturday, March 08, 2008

Kendrick's closing down

Bummer! Just when I was starting to learn something about pool!

Here's the Herald blog post:

(Sigh.) Yep, yet another downtown business is closing, and this time it’s Kendrick’s Billiards, at 1320 Cornwall Ave. Business Reporter Dave Gallagher is contacting Kendrick’s owner to get more details on why they’re closing, and if the business is being sold. Check back for details.

If you want to stop by before they close, it better be before this Sunday, March 9, cuz that’s their last day open.

EDIT: From Dave’s blog:
According to the company Web site, the business will be selling food and drink available at a discount until Sunday. For those interested in buying the pool tables, cues and restaurant equipment, e-mail owner Brian Rollo at The web site also mentioned they’ll also have a garage sale sometime next week.


Thursday, March 06, 2008

Reading God's mind

I came across this link to a conversation between a New York Times reporter and Sen. Clinton posted by David Brody. The part that caught my attention was her answer to the question: "Do you believe...that belief in Christ is needed for going to heaven?"

That one I'm a little more open to. I think that it is, as we understand our relationship to God as Christians, it is how we see our way forward, and it is the way. But, ever since I was a little girl, I've asked every Sunday school teacher I've ever had, I asked every theologian I've ever talked with, whether that meant that there was no salvation, there was no heaven for people who did not accept Christ. And, you're well aware that there are a lot of answers to that. There are people who are totally rooted in the fact that, no, that's why there are missionaries, that's why you have to try to convert. And, then there are a lot of other people who are deeply faithful and deeply Christ-centered who say, that's how we understand it and who are we to read God's mind about such a weighty decision as that.
Hillary had just finished affirming her belief in the literal resurrection of Christ. If that is true, why can't she take Christ at face-value elsewhere?

"I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me."
(John 14:6)

“He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God."
(John 3:18)

Reading God's mind isn't all that hard since He already spoke His mind.

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