Rousing the rabble

Here’s Texas Rep. Molly White, proving once again that you do not need to own a dick to be one.

Molly White

I trust she will also have her staff invite Christian visitors to renounce pedophilia, since some Christians have been caught molesting altar boys, which means all must be presumed to be pedophiles.

The Ten…Commandments?

Via Mano Singham comes this story of a pastor who unwittingly had a close encounter with a little-known fact:

A Baptist minister is in hot water after preaching a sermon that called the Ten Commandments sayings or promises rather than mandates.

In his Christmas Eve message, Senior Pastor Perry Noble of NewSpring Church… told congregants that no word for “commandment” exists in Hebrew, the Old Testament’s original language.

For this faux pas, Noble has provoked a backlash among Christians, including the president of the South Carolina Baptist Convention, who is threatening to disaffiliate Noble’s congregation for failure to conform to Baptist beliefs. Ironically, however, Noble is closer to the truth than the president of his denomination, which may be why he’s in such hot water. It’s true Hebrew DOES have a word for “commandment.” It’s just that this word never follows the number “ten.”

And that’s just the tip of the “Ten Commandments” iceberg.

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Understanding the strategy

A lot of people were surprised when Republicans, including Sen. Jim Inhofe, voted in favor of an amendment explicitly stating that climate change is real and is not a hoax. They needn’t have been. Conservatives have been saying for years that climate change is real, even while insisting that it is a hoax, depending on who they’re talking to and how much they think they can get away with. And to those who think the Senate vote is a good sign: sorry, but that’s only partly true. It does show that people are (reluctantly) conceding the facts. But does this mean the Republicans are now willing to support measures designed to try and address the issue before it turns into a global catastrophe? Unfortunately no. It only means a slight shift in tactics.

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Objective Deliciousness

The NPR blog has a shortish post on “What If Heaven Is Not For Real,” written by self-declared agnostic Adam Frank. You can probably guess what he’s going to say, and I’m not going to say much for or against it. But I do want to take note of the comments, and this one in particular.

JW: That is a very profound verse. Do you believe that there is objective morality?

I’ve heard that argument so many times, and read it in so many books of apologetics (including C. S. Lewis et al), and of course it’s a huge red herring. But just for fun, let’s see how many ways we can come up with to try and make it clear, even to believers, that this is a bad argument. My entry: “Objective Deliciousness.”

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A bad argument for surveillance

The Economist is worried that technology may put limits on how effective the government is at spying on people.

Western spooks say they are losing the technological edge that has enabled them to monitor the communications of potential terrorists. Tech companies are competing in their efforts to provide their customers with unbreachable privacy through sophisticated and sometimes “default” encryption. The heads of both America’s FBI and Britain’s MI5 have complained about their inability to prevent suspects from “going dark”—dropping off the radar screen of surveillance.

Their solution? Make encryption easier to break.

The tech firms must come to terms with the fact that every previous form of communication—from the conversation to the letter to the phone—has been open to some form of eavesdropping: they cannot claim their realm is so distinct and inviolate that it can imperil others’ lives, especially as the number of people who need to be monitored is in the thousands. And it is far better to agree to some form of standard now, rather that wait for an atrocity plotted behind impenetrable walls to be unleashed: if that happens the Dick Cheneys and Donald Rumsfelds of the future will be setting the rules.

Apparently, Economist writers have failed to notice that the Dicks and Donalds are already making these rules. And there are other problems with their argument.

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Solving climate change

Now that the Republicans are in complete control of Congress, what do you think their going to do about climate change (especially since 2014 is now the hottest year since climate measurements started)? They haven’t formally announced their strategy for dealing with climate change, but I have a feeling it’s going to involve trying to stop scientists from making accurate measurements of the average global temperature. After all, if there’s no statistics showing global warming, then there’s no global warming, right?

Ok, I confess: I’m not using a crystal ball here. I’m using Google.

An amendment from Representative Scott Perry (R–PA), adopted on a voice vote, would bar spending money on a number of government climate assessments and reports, including the U.S. Global Change Research Program’s National Climate Assessment (NCA). The president has used the most recent NCA, released last month, to bolster his Climate Action Plan to cut U.S. greenhouse gas emissions.

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