Atheists & secularists, like anyone else, will sometimes speak of what gives their life meaning and purpose. It might be fighting against religious dogma, or helping people think rationally, or spending time with their family, or "making the world a little better place", or... whatever. Note that these are self-imposed "purposes" or "meaning", often involving leaving some sort of intellectual or philosophical legacy. But, is this really consistent with their worldview? Have you ever heard of Lawrence M. Krauss or Glenn D. Starkman? Even if you don't run in scientific circles, you may be familiar with Krauss, who is a well-known ...
"Those who are unwilling or incapable of discerning or judging between good and evil are in this manner revealing either their disobedience or their immaturity." -- Pastor E.L. Bynum In our last "episode", we began to address the issue of what it means to "judge" others. Specifically, we took a practical, nonsectarian look at why people cry, "Don't judge me!" and why we should, in fact, make fair judgments about others' behaviors & beliefs, always with the welfare of them and others around them in mind. Now, what about Christians, in particular? Aren't we supposed to be extra loving and kind and ...
If you are at all familiar with Christian apologetics, whether engaging challenges from non-theists or from Christians with different views, you know that the topic of pain, suffering, and death is a major issue. (In fact, Darwin's struggle with this was the impetus for developing his theory.) These things are considered "evil", so the question is "Why would a 'good' God make a world full of pain, suffering, & death for His creatures to endure?", or "How could God include pain, suffering, & death (for millions of years) in His 'very good' creation?" The Young-Earth Creationist (YEC) solution is that none ...
Welcome to the 3rd and penultimate installment of this series, in which I explain how self-deluded I have been about my own hatred and bigotry regarding, well, just about everyone but straight, white, white-collar males between 18 & 65 years of age (or thereabouts). Where was I? Oh... [caption id="attachment_1341" align="alignleft" width="225"] Pro-choice Activists[/caption] 7) I hate women. And it's not just because I'm single. (Or, should that be the other way around?) ;-> In particular, I think most of today's "feminist" positions and causes reveal a certain level of narcissism and another excuse to play the blame game for ones woes, real ...
"America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves." -- Abraham Lincoln "AAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRRRGGGGGHHHHHHHH!!!" That was my response (posted on Facebook), give or take an "R" or two, to the 2012 Election results. Actually, that was my second FB post. My first was, "Crap on a stick! I'm so depressed." But, that's not quite right. I'm very disappointed, obviously. And a bit morose. But, really, I'm angry. So, here goes the rant... Are you freakin' kidding me?!! Do we really have to listen for 4 more years to this pompous, Marxist ...
Sometimes, I can't help myself. I mean, people make spurious claims and ridiculous accusations against God, Christians, "the Church", etc., all the time. Usually, I let it go. Can't be constantly getting into long, drawn-out internet debates ALL the time, after all. But, sometimes, I just have to say something. And, so it went the other day, when a FB friend of a FB friend, amidst generally mocking comments, claimed that Christians were responsible for "lots of mass murders." Of course, I had my suspicions about what she was referring to. There are some nasty stains on Christianity's record. But, I also ...
"I am pro-life. I believe that abortion is the wrong choice except in cases of incest, rape, and to save the life of the mother." -- Mitt Romney, in an op-ed piece in The Boston Globe (7/26/2005) In "The Pro-Life Position: Just One Question", I argued that if the unborn is indeed a member of the human family, no matter how small or odd it looks, then "no justification for killing it is adequate." But, then I left a footnote saying that there are rare exceptions to that rule. So, I figured I may as well address those now.... When the ...
Part 1: Firm Foundation "I yam what I yam, and that's all what I yam." -- Popeye, the sailorman Given the subjects that I usually read and write about on this blog, critical thinking really comes in handy. Not that I'm some great logician or anything. Far from it! But, over the last few years, I've been exposed to the discipline of informal logic by some pretty darn good thinkers. (At least, I think they are.) I've noticed that I am now more apt to notice logical errors & fallacies when reading or listening to someone's arguments for his/her position on a ...
[caption id="attachment_1464" align="alignleft" width="300"] Original Star Trek bridge crew[/caption] I remember when, many years ago, I first found out that the cast of the original Star Trek series did not always get along and a huge part of the problem was William Shatner's ego. Star Trek was one of my all-time favorite TV shows (and the movies and the books), and Shatner was a favorite actor when I was growing up -- right up there with Lee Majors, the Six Million Dollar Man, and later Tom Selleck of Magnum, P.I., fame. So, I was understandably disappointed to find out my "heroes" ...
"[S]cience and religion are two essential components in the search for truth. Denying either is a barren approach." -- Dr. Martin Andreas Nowak, mathematical biologist Once upon a time (actually, it was about a year ago) in a land far, far away (OK, it was here in NE Florida), I had a brief but interesting discussion. I had been taking a few skills & personality assessment tests, which involved identifying what I thought my strengths & weaknesses were, figuring out my personality traits, etc. While discussing the results with a couple family members, the religiously-agnostic one noted, "Huh! You consider yourself ...
“In Washington, there is a saying that regulators never met a rule they didn’t like.” — Paul J. Larkin, Jr., Heritage Foundation’s senior legal research fellow in the Center for Legal and Judicial Studies
One of the big issues of the day is the mounds of regulations that federal agencies have been inflicting upon the American people and businesses for decades, while Congress sat on their collective hands. It is the administrative state gone amok, and it has had the effect of putting a stranglehold on the American economy and freedom in general. I’ve been meaning to write about this monstrosity for some time, but I just don’t know where to start.
In an article for ‘The Daily Signal’ last week, Paul Larkin asked the question, “What if Congress could not only reverse this trend, but undo years of burdensome regulations dating as far back as the mid-1990s?” His answer is the Congressional Review Act (CRA) of 1996. (Download a CRA Fact Sheet here.)
The Act authorizes Congress to “invalidate an agency rule by passing a joint resolution of disapproval, not subject to a Senate filibuster, that the president signs into law.” He continues…
“Under the Congressional Review Act, Congress is given 60 legislative days to disapprove a rule and receive the president’s signature, after which the rule goes into effect. But the review act also sets forth a specific procedure for submitting new rules to Congress that executive agencies must carefully follow.
If they fail to follow these specific steps, Congress can vote to disapprove the rule even if it has long been accepted as part of the Federal Register. In other words, if the agency failed to follow its obligations under the Congressional Review Act, the 60-day legislative window never officially started, and the rule remains subject to congressional disapproval.”
This sounds very promising! Larkin goes on to explain…
“The definition of ‘rule’ under the Congressional Review Act is quite broad — it includes not only the ‘junior varsity’ statutes that an agency can adopt as regulations, but also the agency’s interpretations of those laws. This is vital because federal agencies often use a wide range of documents to strong-arm regulated parties.
The review act reaches regulations, guidance documents, ‘Dear Colleague’ letters, and anything similar.
The Congressional Review Act is especially powerful because once Congress passes a joint resolution of disapproval and the president signs it into law, the rule is nullified and the agency cannot adopt a “substantially similar” rule absent an intervening act of Congress. [emphasis mine]
This binds the hands of federal agencies to find backdoor ways of re-imposing the same regulations.”
To use a phrase from my youth, “Excellent!”
Obviously, President Trump doesn’t need congressional support to undo some parts of the Obama regulatory agenda, for example, and he has been revoking previous Executive Orders with new ones where he can. But, for those more difficult areas, this sounds like a terrific tool for our anti-regulation President and a sympathetic, majority-Republican Congress to work together to not just neutralize but make null-and-void tons of freedom-restricting — and sometimes downright stupid — regulations written by unelected bureaucrats from the past 20 years. In fact, they’ve already begun, and I’m all for it!
EPA, FDA, FCC, IRS, etc., y’all are hereby put on notice!
“If archaeologists and historians could not find correlation between archaeology and the biblical text, there would be no such thing as ‘biblical archaeology’. But of course they do find such correlation, and lots of it.” — Dr. Craig A. Evans, author of Jesus and His World: The Archaeological Evidence
This is a sequel of sorts to my “Is the Bible ‘History’?” post from a couple months ago. In that one, I cautioned against judging the content of the biblical text using modern standards, especially when not allowing for different authorial styles, purposes, and genres. Citing from an article by Kirk Lowery, the post affirmed that the Bible does indeed record real, historical people, places, and events that took place in various time periods.
In modern history, however, a skeptical approach has been adopted by many academics and laymen alike. It became quite popular to assume that the Bible was mere myth and legend, especially when clear evidence for certain individuals, people groups, kingdoms, and cities had not yet been found by professional archaeologists. In other words, until a document or other artifact is found and “proven” to support something from the Bible, it is assumed to be fiction. So, I decided that another post was in order, this time listing several examples of important archeological finds that support the biblical record. As before, I turn to an article from Holman’s Apologetics Study Bible (2007), this one titled “How Has Archaeology Corroborated the Bible?” by Walter C. Kaiser, Jr.
“The real role of archaeology is not to ‘prove’ the Bible, for that kind of ‘proof’ is available only in certain deductive sciences such as mathematics and logic. On the contrary, the role of archaeology is: (1) to supply cultural, epigraphic, and artifactual materials that provide the background for accurately interpreting the Bible, (2) to anchor the events of the biblical text in the history and geography of the times, and (3) to build confidence in the revelation of God where the truths of Scripture impinge on historical events.
Over the last century or so, archaeology has strengthened the case for biblical reliability. Missing individuals, peoples, places, and obscure customs, historical, and political settings have been helpfully identified.
It had been fashionable in some circles for many years to ridicule Isaiah 20:1 for its allusion to ‘Sargon king of Assyria.’ Excavations of Nineveh had seemingly revealed all the kings of Assyria, but there was no Sargon. The Bible must have gotten it wrong. However, in 1843, Paul Emile Botta found a virgin site northeast of Nineveh, later excavated by the University of Chicago with details published in the 1930s. Sargon had built his own capital there in 717 BC. His son, however, moved the capital back to Nineveh, so the site was lost as was Sargon’s name. Now Sargon is one of the best known Assyrian monarchs.
Likewise, the bible contended that King Belshazzar was the final ruler of Babylon (Dn 5:1,30), but until AD 1929, the extra-biblical evidence pointed to Nabonidus as king at the fall of Babylon in 539 BC. This apparent conflict was solved when documents were discovered revealing that Nabonidus spent his time in Arabia, leaving the affairs of the kingdom to his eldest son Belshazzar, who reigned as co-regent for a decade or so.
Discoveries of other biblical names have confirmed biblical reliability, including King Jehoiachin’s presence in Babylon, Sanballat as governor of Samaria along with some of Nehemiah’s adversaries such as Tobiah the Ammonite, and Geshem the Arab (Neh 2:19). Other discoveries confirm well-known biblical individuals such as Balaam, David, Ahab, Jehu, Hezekiah, Manahem and others.
Until Hugo Winckler discovered the Hittite Empire in 1906, many unbelievers doubted the Bible’s insistence that the Hittites were part of the land of Canaan (Gn 10:15; Jos 1:4). Now they are so well documented that a score of volumes has been necessary to build a Hittite dictionary based on the tablets left in their civilization. [Ed. Note: In fact, I happen to have a copy of a book by Dr. E. Neufeld titled The Hittite Laws: Translated into English and Hebrew with Commentary (1951).]
Another mystery group were the Horites, descendants of Esau from Edom (Gn 36:20; Dt 2:12,22). But in 1995 Giorgio Buccellati discovered the Horite capital city beneath the modern Syrian city of Tell Mozan.
First Kings 9:28 claimed King Solomon brought back 16 tons of gold from Ophir. But where was Ophir and did it really exist? In 1956 at Tell Qasile in Israel, broken pottery was found with an inscription referring to a shipment of ‘gold of Ophir for Beth-Horon, thirty shekels.’ Thus, Ophir was confirmed as known in the world of commerce with its trade in gold. Ophir is identified today as a port some 60 miles north of Bombay.
Another example is the disputed list of sites along the route of the exodus in Numbers 33. But Charles Krahmalkov noted three ancient Egyptian maps of the road from Arabah to the Plains of Moab, with the earliest of the three maps inscribed on the walls of Karnak in the reign of Thutmosis III (c. 1504-1450 BC). According to the list, the route from south to north follows precisely the way the Israelites listed in Numbers 33 with four stations especially noted: Iyyim, Dibon, Abel, and Jordan.
Other Sensational Finds
Discovered by Grenfeld in Egypt in 1920, the ‘John Rylands Papyrus’ yielded the oldest known fragment of a NT manuscript. This small scrap from John’s Gospel (Jn 18:31-33,37-38) was dated by papyrologists to AD 125, but since it was so far south into Egypt, it successfully put an end to the then-popular attempt to late-date John’s Gospel to the second century rather than to the traditional first century date of AD 85-90.
The Dead Sea Scrolls, found in 1948 in caves at Qumran, near the northwest end of the Dead Sea, gave us some 800 manuscripts of every book (in part or the whole) of the OT except for Esther. Prior to that, the earliest Hebrew texts dated to around AD 1000, but the scrolls at Qumran are generally more than one thousand years older! These Hebrew texts illustrate that a thousand years of copying had provided us with an amazingly pure text, with one of the best examples being the book of Isaiah where only three words had slight modifications.
In 1990, a bone chest was discovered accidentally during work in Jerusalem’s Peace Forest. This ‘Caiaphas Ossuary’ belonged to the high priest from AD 18-36 (see his cynical words in Jn 11:49-53). The inscription, found in two places, read: ‘Caiaphas’ and ‘Joseph, son of Caiaphas.’ First-century Jewish historian Josephus provided the full name, ‘Joseph, who is called Caiaphas of the high priesthood.’
Space precludes discussion of the many more archaeological corroborations, such as the Pontius Pilate Inscription, the Pool of Siloam excavated in 2004, and the amazing Ketef Hinnom Amulets discovered in 1979 (with inscriptions of Nm 6:24-26 and Dt 7:9 perfectly matching the biblical Hebrew text — amazing since these seventh to sixth century BC amulets contain OT texts skeptics argued could not have been written until the 400s BC.)
Archaeology, then, has illuminated and corroborated the Bible in numerous ways. The interpreter finds in archaeology a good friend for understanding and substantiating Scripture.”
I don’t know about you, but I find this stuff encouraging and exciting. The fact that the people and things found within the Bible are set in history — and not merely “once upon a time in a land far away…” — should make them even more real to us as readers. These discoveries also not only provide insights into ancient history and peoples, which are valuable in themselves, but they give ever-increasing physical evidence that the biblical accounts are historically reliable. The Bible cannot be simply dismissed as fictions and fables.
If you are curious to dig into this subject more, in addition to the book mentioned in the opening quote, here are a couple more substantial texts: On the Reliability of the Old Testament (2003) by Kenneth Kitchen and Archaeology and the New Testament (1991) by John McRay. My copies are several years old, but there may be newer editions. An even older but handy introductory book that you might be able to find used is Archaeology and the Bible (1979) by Donald J. Wiseman and Edwin Yamauchi. (There are others, of course, but these are ones I am familiar with, and they are by respected archaeologists with a “high view” of Scripture.)
“When a stranger sojourns with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong. You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.” — Leviticus 19:33-34 (ESV)
I don’t have to tell you how controversial an issue the whole illegal immigrants thing is. I mean, what is the compassionate thing to do, while still protecting U.S. citizens and making sure that our laws are respected and upheld? Should we deport millions of people? Do we care if we break up families? How does all this jibe with our founding principles? Etc.
Then there is the biblical angle. Christians want to do the right thing, according to God’s teaching. Loving our neighbor and all that. Even those who don’t normally hold the Bible — especially the Old Testament — in high regard suddenly become Bible thumpers, when they find a verse or passage that they think supports their position. In particular, those who are pro-open borders and amnesty quote the above passage (and others) to “prove” that the Bible is on their side — at least, on this issue. But, is it?
Is there a parallel between the ancient Hebrew nation and present-day America? Even if so, is it appropriate to apply God’s covenant instructions for Israel to the current situation in the U.S.? In a recent article for the Religion News Service (RNS), Dr. James K. Hoffmeier, professor of Old Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School and author of The Immigration Crisis: Immigrants, Aliens, and the Bible, weighed in.
“This wonderful passage has nothing to do with illegal immigrants in America…. Old Testament laws were primarily intended to promote an orderly society for a nation — ancient Israel. Simplistic application of 3,000-year-old laws to American society is ill-advised until one thoroughly understands what was meant by “stranger” in this verse. The Bible is not “a living breathing document” that can mean whatever one wants it to say.
Regarding the Hebrew Scripture’s instructions on the “stranger,” two fundamental questions must be answered: What is a “stranger,” and how did people obtain that status?
The relevant Hebrew word is [transliterated] “ger,” variously rendered in different English translations of the Bible as “stranger,” “sojourner,” “alien” and more recently as “foreigner.” The [last] is quite misleading because there are other Hebrew terms for foreigner — for example, “nekhar,” or one who is passing through another country and not seeking residence. “Zar” is another Hebrew term rendered “foreigner,” but it has a more hostile nuance: a squatter or an enemy. The “ger” alone has obtained legal status to live in a different country and might be seen as a foreigner who has become a “protected citizen.””
In case anyone is curious, I checked over 30 current English translations (and a couple older ones) to see which ones use which term in the Leviticus passage: “stranger” is used by ASV, AMP, ESV, KJV, NASB, NKJV, NLV, RSV, VOICE, WEB; “sojourner” is used by YLT, CLV; “alien” is used by CSB, ISV, LEB, NABRE, NRSV, REB; “foreigner” is used by CJB, CEV, GW, GNT, HCSB, MEV, MSG, NCV, NET, NIV, NLT; “outsider” is used by the TLV; “immigrants” is used by the CEB.
“How did people become legal aliens (gers) in another country? The classic example is when Jacob’s family went to Egypt to escape a famine in Canaan. They asked Pharaoh for permission:
And they said to Pharaoh, “Your servants are shepherds, as our fathers were” … “We have come to sojourn in the land, for there is no pasture for your servants’ flocks, for the famine is severe in the land of Canaan. And now, please let your servants dwell in the land of Goshen.” Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Your father and your brothers have come to you. The land of Egypt is before you. Settle your father and your brothers in the best of the land. Let them settle in the land of Goshen” (Genesis 47:3-6).
No less authority than the king of Egypt granted this permission. This means that the Hebrews, though foreigners, obtained legal status in Egypt; they were gers.
In biblical law the distinction between the alien or stranger (ger) and the foreigner (nekhar) is striking. The ger in Israel could receive social assistance such as the right to glean in the fields (Leviticus 19:9-10; Deuteronomy 24:19-22) and resources from the tithes (Deuteronomy 26:12-13). The ger and citizen were to be paid alike (Deuteronomy 24:14-15).
None of these benefits was available to the nekhar (the foreigner without legal status) in biblical law. Charging interest to fellow Israelites or ger was prohibited, but the foreigner (nekhar) was fair game (Deuteronomy 23:20). These passages show that aliens or strangers received all the benefits and protections of a citizen, whereas the foreigner (nekhar) did not. The reason is that the ger had legal status; they were, so to speak, documented!
It is wrong, therefore, to confuse these two sociological categories of foreigners and then to use Scripture regarding the ger as if it applied to immigrants of today who enter the country illegally. I would argue that if one wants to apply biblical passages regarding the ger to our context, green card holders would better correspond. They need protections so as not to be abused and exploited as we have unfortunately seen. Old Testament law simply does not address how people in the U.S. illegally should be treated.
My intention here is not to discourage utilizing biblical principles to shape public policy and law, but to call out the abuse of Scripture and to urge that it first be read carefully and contextually before emotionally satisfying, but simplistic and inaccurate, interpretations are applied to 21st-century American issues. Certainly Christians should not be made to feel guilty by the exploitation of Scripture by social justice activists who seek to advance a particular political agenda.”
Dr. Hoffmeier makes some much-needed distinctions, and I’m glad I came across his article. If the supporters of open borders and amnesty for illegal immigrants insist on making a biblical argument, they are going to have to do much better. (I, for one, don’t think they have a legitimate case, though.)
We seem to have many nekhars — and, unfortunately, more than a few zars — in the U.S. that are posing as gers or insisting that they be treated as such, and we cannot allow this to continue. Our new President agrees, and I pray that he, his administration, and our Congress use both wisdom and compassion in how they undertake to stem the flow of illegals and properly deal with those already here.
P.S. Here is another article from Hoffmeier that I came across shortly before going to press. He addresses some of the above, as well as a little more on Moses, plus re sanctuary cities.
P.P.S. On a related note, if you or someone you know is freaking out about Trump’s new executive order re refugees, etc., check out this article to get past the hysteria.
As you probably have seen for yourselves, the media (including blogs of various sizes) has been awash with commentary on the Presidential Inaugural ceremonies — from the actual swearing in of Donald J. Trump as our 45th President to the various dances and observations of what the ladies in attendance were wearing. Rather than going in that direction, I wanted to express some feelings of excitement mixed with trepidation about the new administration and its potential impact on the nation and the world.
After wrestling a bit with the issue, I decided instead to share the following, which pretty much sums up what I am thinking and does it fairly concisely. It comes from an email sent out this past Friday afternoon by a Tea Party group called the Independence Hall Foundation. (Hope they don’t mind me sharing.)
On this historic day, the Foundation wishes both the incoming and outgoing presidents well as the peaceful transition of power, prescribed by the US Constitution, is successfully completed.
We have endured 8 long years under President Barack Obama’s leadership and can honestly say this day couldn’t have arrived soon enough.
To President Donald Trump, we extend our best wishes for a successful four years–one that brings peace and prosperity to all Americans.
As a conservative organization, we will support President Trump when he seeks to fulfill conservative policy goals–such as appointing conservative judges, repealing ObamaCare, cutting taxes, reducing regulations, preventing illegal immigration, or making America energy independent–and will oppose him (as we did President Obama) when he veers away from conservative principles by proposing trillion dollar spending programs, initiating new federal programs (childcare), or raising tariffs that lead to trade wars.
While we back the President’s support of Taiwan in the face of a hostile mainland China, we are horrified by his indifference to Russian aggression in the Ukraine, Crimea, Georgia, Syria, and elsewhere–and his coziness with Russian autocrat Vladimir Putin.
And though we appreciate President Trump’s criticism of the United Nations, we are completely dismayed by his constant reference to NATO as obsolete.
Suffice it to say, we will be as vigilant with President Trump as we were with President Obama–the only caveat being that we expect to be in the 45th President’s corner more often than not.
On behalf of the Foundation Board,
Trump & Co. appear to be off to a fine start, and I truly hope and pray that they stay on target, defending the Constitution (as originally conceived) and doing what is best for America and Americans. MAGA!
I was reflecting on all of the negativity in the press about the President-elect-now-President Trump from the Left and other detractors and about the now-former President Obama by the Right. I have posted several things over the years about how bad a president Obama has been, and I stand by them. But, now I’d like to try to point out three objectively positive things about the man. I’ll be brief, but here goes…
1) He was “cool”. He exhibited an air of calm, cool confidence, both in his manner of speaking and in his body language. He just projected an ease about himself that was attractive and made people think, “This is one cool cat!” Then again, in another sense of the word “cool”, he also often came across as coolly indifferent. And, of course, whether or not his self-confidence was justified is another matter entirely.
2) He was articulate. Give the man a rousing speech to deliver — either memorized or by teleprompter — and he would knock it out of the park almost every time. For many, Obama’s rhythms and cadences served to make even the most self-serving talks sound inspiring. In fact, his most ardent fans seemed to be awestruck by his well-crafted, well-delivered addresses, such that the guy could do no wrong.
3) He appreciated decorum. For the most part, Obama appeared to respect the “dignified propriety of behavior, speech, dress, etc.” that is expected in the Office of the Presidency. I say this, of course, as one observing from a distance and only occasionally. Unlike our new President, Obama seemed to (mostly) exercise proper civility and restraint in his communications. At least, when he said stupid, inappropriate, and/or untrue things, he used the “proper” methods of communication.
Unfortunately, the above characteristics, while nice, are not enough to make anyone an upright or effective leader. Just sayin’…
If you watch a lot of cop shows like I do, you may have noticed how often facial recognition software provides the good guys with crucial images for identifying criminals, victims, and even witnesses. Though the real thing probably doesn’t have quite the success rate as its fictional counterpart, it really is amazing technology.
However,… with CCTV cameras here, there, and everywhere, — and not always obvious — isn’t it a bit disconcerting, knowing that people are (or could be) watching your every move? (At least, when those cameras are present.) Most of us probably recognize the need for such security measures in and around banks, for instance, and other institutions where financial transactions are handled and proprietary information is located. But, when the cameras are on street corners, traffic lights, subway platforms, etc., monitored by law enforcement and other government officials, it can get kinda creepy. “Police-state” creepy.
So, it shouldn’t be surprising that someone has finally invented technology to counter such surveillance. Call it “anti-facial recognition”, if you will. Or, as creator Scott Urban calls his new eyewear product, “Reflectacles”. They are made from “solid blocks of clear cellulose acetate” and “micro-prismatic retro-reflective materials” normally only used in specialized fields. Microscopic examination reveals “many very small cube-like prisms that bounce light along each edge of the prism surface and then bounce it right back in the direction the light originated from,” as Urban explained to The Sun. No glare to the wearer, though.
Reflectacles Originals, available in seven different colors, reflect only visible light. Reflectacles Ghost, available only in Gray, intensifies the effect by incorporating micro-corner-cubes, “the most reflective material that currently exists… used in laboratory situations or for signal/controller applications.” This model reflects light from the visible and infrared portions of the spectrum.
“This means, security cameras that work using infrared technology, which basically means a majority of such devices, will never capture your facial features when you are wearing Reflectacles Ghost…. [They] can also reflect visible light, due to which drivers on the road will be able to notice you at once as soon as you enter the road no matter if you are walking or riding a bike.” (H/T Hackread)
I think this is pretty cool, and I totally understand some people’s being a bit freaked out by the increased surveillance by the state. (Even more so in places like the UK than in the US… for now.) No surprise, then, that these are Urban’s primary target market. But I was concerned about criminals of various sorts using the tech to protect their own identities while committing crimes. To this, Urban points out that full-face ski masks are still cheaper and (in most cases) more effective for such nefarious purposes.
Sturdily built and reasonably priced (£77 Originals; £101 Ghost), Reflectacles will begin being sold in June 2017.
“[A]fter many decades of trying to comprehend the gender confusion that persisted even after my sex transition, I came to understand that my grandmother’s cross-dressing of me was emotional child abuse. The psychological harm grew as years went by.” — Walt Heyer
You probably saw it — the recent National Geographic cover featuring a “transgendered” young boy by the name of Avery Jackson. Why NG decided to help push the LGBT agenda, I don’t know. But, the cover and issue are stirring a lot of controversy.
Former transgendered man, Walt Heyer, has previously written about the LGBT community and about his own experiences as part of that community and after having left it. This past week, Heyer wrote a commentary on NG’s transgender issue (no pun intended) and about the damage being done to young Avery and to society at large. He has no patience for NG’s conflation of mere cross-dressing with the more popular term, “transgenderism”.
“Avery is simply a cross-dressing boy. Cross-dressing affects outward appearance only; what you do not see are the deeper long-term psychological consequences. No sex is changed; no biological transformation takes place.”
Heyer’s combination of relating personal experience and sharing several sad realities about transgenders and transsexuals — the latter having undergone “sex reassignment” surgery — is particularly effective.
“I can see from my experience that transgenderism is fantasy motivated by strong feelings. When it comes to gender, people can change clothing and other aspects of the public persona, but biological sex will always remain fixed…. No amount of hormones or cosmetic surgery can effect a biological change of sex. Feelings, no matter how strong, cannot change sex. To pretend anything else is only a masquerade. At best, transgenderism is Mardi Gras, not reality….
Notably, the magazine does not include any interviews with individuals who have had their lives destroyed by the long-term consequences of cross-dressing and gender confusion. Cross-dressing eroded my true gender which in turn ruined my teen years, ripped apart my marriage, and ended my career.”
Why not check out Heyer’s article? It’s not terribly long and definitely worth a read.
“Facts don’t care about your feelings.” — Ben Shapiro
Are you familiar with Ben Shapiro? He’s one of those conservative “young guns” making a name for himself these days — an attorney-turned-political commentator, columnist/author, and radio show host. He’s very sharp, articulate, possesses a familiarity with an amazing number of issues and pertinent facts, thinks clearly & critically about those issues, doesn’t get tripped up by PC nonsense, and has no problem calling out corruption, ineptitude, hypocrisy, foolishness, etc., regardless of race, creed, position, or political ideology. I like that. He’s also fearless, as he speaks at ideologically hostile venues (except when “tolerant” protestors manage to get his talks cancelled) and on panels where his non-PC, conservative views are clearly in the minority. (Here are a couple examples.) I greatly admire that, too.
I’m not saying I am totally in line with everything I’ve read or heard Shapiro say, but I am very impressed with him. So, when I discovered his daily “The Ben Shapiro Report” back around Thanksgiving last year, I subscribed. (Still training Hotmail not to automatically send it to the ‘Junk’ folder, unfortunately. Dang Russians!) Each email issue contains a “Subscriber Exclusive” from Ben, along with links to 4 more articles on The Daily Wire, which Shapiro founded and where he serves as editor-in-chief.
Last Monday, Shapiro started off the week/month/year with a reaction to President Obama’s quasi-revisionist, and possibly self-delusional, tweets about his administration’s legacy. Shapiro was civil but held nothing back….
“With the beginning of 2017 comes newfound optimism: in just two weeks, President Barack Obama’s term of office will come to an ignominious end. As the clock ticks down, Americans get more and more excited to see Obama’s back – we’ll no longer have to hear his sonorous baritone lecturing us about his higher morality, which invariably requires the overthrow of individualism in favor of the collective.
But Obama won’t leave without some historical rewriting.
He tweeted on January 1, “As we look ahead to the future, I wanted to take a moment to look back on the remarkable progress that you made possible these past 8 years.” What progress, pray tell? Obama tweeted that “Facing the worst financial crisis in 80 years, you delivered the longest streak of job growth in our history.” That neglects to mention that this was the weakest economic recovery in American history – that recessions are usually followed by booms, except when big government interventionism quashes those booms.
He tweeted, “After decades of rising health care costs, today nearly every American now has access to the financial security of affordable health care.” That’s patently insane. Obamacare has been a massive bust. When you mandate that people buy health insurance, people typically will do so, but that doesn’t mean it’s quality, that doctors will take it, or that health care gets better. Actually, premiums have skyrocketed nationwide under Obama, and only Medicaid has seen true growth – and many doctors are now rejecting Medicaid thanks to its low reimbursement rates. Amazingly, despite Obama’s health insurance mandate nearly 9 percent of Americans still have no health insurance.
Obama said that America “traded foreign oil for clean energy, we doubled fuel efficiency standards, & we acted on a global scale to save the one planet we’ve got.” This has nothing to do with Obama’s policy. It has to do with dropping prices of oil worldwide, as well as the fracking industry’s production increase, which helped fill the gap domestically.
Obama added, “We brought home more of our troops & strengthened US leadership – leading with diplomacy & partnering with nations to meet global problems.” This is nuts, too. Syria is in flames. Libya is in flames.
Obama just set Israel on fire to watch it burn. Iran is now a burgeoning regional hegemon. Vladimir Putin’s Russia is on the move everywhere from Eastern Europe to the Middle East. China is moving rapidly to consolidate control over the South China Sea and expand its sphere of influence over surrounding states ranging from Taiwan and the Philippines to South Korea and Japan. Iraq is a war zone. Afghanistan is a disaster area.
Obama stated, “From realizing marriage equality to removing barriers to opportunity, we’ve made history in our work to reaffirm that all are created equal.” Actually, the Supreme Court declared same-sex marriage a Constitutional right, Obama has utilized his power to crack down on religious Americans, and race relations are at a serious low in the modern era.
Obama concluded, “It’s been the privilege of my life to serve as your President. I look forward to standing with you as a citizen. Happy New Year everybody.”
Get out, President Obama.
And don’t let the door hit you.”
Nailed it! Thanks, Ben. (Can I call you ‘Ben’?)
P.S. Just f.y.i., he’s no fan of Trump, either.
P.P.S. This brings to mind one of my favorite Frasier Crane quotes from “Cheers”: “[Mr. President], what color is the sky in your world?” Also, I just realized that this isn’t the first time I’ve used “Obama” and “Delusion(s)” together in a title.
“You are gonna tell me what I want to know. It’s just a question of how much you want it to hurt.” — Jack Bauer, Season 5
Something kinda fun to ring in the New Year…
Did you know that a new “24” TV series is about to debut? Yup! “24: Legacy” will premiere on Feb. 5, 2017, on the Fox Network. No Jack Bauer, though. Corey Hawkins stars as Eric Carter, “A military hero who returns to the U.S. with a whole lot of trouble following him back. With nowhere else to turn, the man asks CTU to help him save his life while also stopping one of the largest-scale terror attacks on American soil.” (IMDB plot summary) It’s too bad Kiefer Sutherland opted not to return, but I am still optimistic and looking forward to the new show.
For Christmas 2015, I received a copy of the book Secrets of 24: The Unauthorized Guide to the Political & Moral Issues Behind TV’s Most Riveting Drama as a gift. (Note: It was published prior to the debut of Season 7.) It’s a great choice for me, since it mixes the subjects of my two blogs. It has been a year now, and I haven’t yet worked it into my reading schedule. But, I was recently skimming through it and got an idea for a blogpost. This one, in fact.
Interspersed throughout the book’s text — which includes articles by and interviews with various journalists, writers, actors, experts of different kinds, etc. — are little sidebars, “quick takes on the facts, humor, and breadth of voices and ideas generated by ’24′”. So, I have chosen 24 of my favorites to share with you. A few are funny or merely informative, but most give insight into the show, the central character of Jack Bauer, and their influence by and on American culture. Hope you like…
Among the boldface names who are fans of the show: Dave Barry, Dick Cheney, Bill Clinton, Jim Cramer, Billy Crystal, Tony Danza, Trent Dilfer, Geena Davis, Bill Gates, Laura Ingraham, Stephen King, Rush Limbaugh, John McCain, Jim McMahon, Donald Rumsfeld, Seal, Barbra Streisand, Clarence Thomas, and Tina Turner.
“We do want democratic process, but we also want justice. And the show allows us to have both, and that’s why we love it.” — David Heyman, terrorism scholar, Center for Strategic and International Studies
“We always had the idea of this King Lear story, of Jack being the prodigal son, the guy who was his father’s favorite but turned against his dad, and the less favorite son took over the empire. In some ways, you get to see that his family is his destiny.” — ’24’ executive producer Howard Gordon on the plan to give Jack Bauer “genetic responsibility for a lot of the misery by association” in Season six, when he duels with both his brother and his father
“An America that looks to Bauer rather than Batman is an altered nation indeed.” — Ezra Klein, blogger and writing fellow, The American Prospect
o Jack Bauer has been to Mars. That’s why there’s no life on Mars.
o Superman wears Jack Bauer pajamas.
o How many CTU special agents does it take to change a lightbulb? Twenty. Nineteen to set up a perimeter, while Jack Bauer tortures the lightbulb into revealing the whereabouts of the socket. [Ed. Note: I think the better answer is, of course, twenty-four.]
— sampling of Internet humor about ’24’
“The show reflects where we are in the culture at this moment in time. Every generation has it. There’s social transformation going now in the way we see the world, domestic policy, foreign policy, domestic intelligence, and foreign intelligence. All these things are becoming blurred, as are the questions that we have to face on morality. And the show does a really great job of trying to put those questions on a personal level for all of us. We’re all Jack Bauer in our hearts.” — David Heyman, terrorism scholar, Center for Strategic and International Studies
“I have fallen in love with another man. For the past five months we have been meeting in a dark room every Sunday night, while the children are tucked up in bed and my husband snores upstairs. It is crazy because I know he would love him too, but he lacks the stamina that this relationship requires. So it’s just me… and Jack Bauer…. His sense of duty is unbreakable. His idea of a hot date is to bundle you into the boot of a mercenary’s car and he is more interested in speed-dialing the office than sex. Yet there is a vulnerability about Jack where women are concerned. Tenderness even. He would lay down his life to get you home safely and maybe, just maybe, this time you could make him stay.” — Sheila McClennan, The Guardian (UK)
“Characters that push things over the limit are interesting characters. It’s very natural to create a character like that in the world of terrorism because there are so many difficult moral, ethical and legal dilemmas, political dilemmas, that constantly arise. You want a character that’s over the edge a little.” — Robert Cochran, co-creator, ’24’
“When men watch Tony Soprano and Jack Bauer they enter into a contract with the characters. They watch and savor the brutality but recognize how pathetic these heroes are. Guys watch TV shows such as ‘The Sopranos’ and ’24’ and see all the horror, humiliations and complications of being male. Tony Soprano and Jack Bauer are not role models to emulate. They are case studies to brood upon. They are a warning. Every man knows that.” — John Doyle, Globe and Mail (Toronto)
According to co-creator Joel Surnow, the first few episodes of ’24’ were heavily influenced by the movies Three Days of the Condor, La Femme Nikita, and The Day of the Jackal. But these episodes were “in the can” before 9/11. Afterward, and in fact for every season after the first, Surnow says the plots were influenced by “real events.”
“While we don’t try to represent any kind of real truth — obviously 24 hours in the format makes it impossible — we try to, I think, present an essential truth, or an essential problem. So when Jack Bauer tortures, it’s in a compressed reality… We try to compress these arguments and these issues and dramatize them in obviously very unreal ways, but hopefully in dramatic and compelling ways. And that’s really ultimately our master… making a compelling, ‘adrenalized’ TV show.” — Howard Gordon, executive producer of ’24’
“’24’ dispenses with the politically correct evasions that pervade prime time episodic television…. It identifies the terrorist enemy without flinching and lets the good guys fight to win — without apologies.” — Christian Toto, The Washington Times
“In this age of terror and worldwide insecurity, ’24’ created the illusion of an all-American superagent on whose watch the bad guys, whether Muslims or Russians or shady white men, would inevitably blow off their sorry behinds. It was political comfort food.” — Andrea Peyser, the New York Post
“’24’ was well into production when the terrorist attacks on September 11 happened. The effect on the show was that Fox’s legal department reviewed the first few episodes and made us recut the sequence where the 747 blows up at 36,000 feet (11,000m). Fox did not want to show the actual plane exploding in the air. It also meant that an extensive aerial sequence which was to have been shot by a second unit downtown was shut down and we had to substitute Glendale for downtown.” — Jon Cassar, director and producer of ’24’
Over six seasons, the enemies depicted on ’24’ have included mercenaries, Serbian nationalists, Arab terrorists, American oil executives, Mexican drug lords, corrupt British businessmen, the Chinese, pseudo-Chechen terrorists, a vast right-wing conspiracy based in the White House, more Arab terrorists, rogue Russian officials, and, of course, Jack Bauer’s own father and brother.