Thursday, August 28, 2008


I've updated the photos at my Flickr page. If you haven't checked in a while, there's finally something new to see!
"If we continue to follow this slippery, oil-slicked, downward-winding path, our citizens will shiver in darkness as our resources hemorrhage to Third World thugs whose only virtue is their control of petroleum-based energy," Reid said.

I thought that Republicans were supposed to be the"fear-mongers" - that's a regular accusation against them from Democrats. This is fiction, and either fantastically ignorant or frighteningly deceptive. It is on a level with racists who see any hint of Spanish as part of a plot by Mexico to annex the USA.

The very counter-argument to Reid's tale was evident in the first half of this year. What happens when the price of oil gets too high? People change. We, with our choices, have the power. The thought, then, that we would sit "shivering in the dark" as we throw money at the oil tyrants is laughable. Or, it would be if it weren't such a base attempt to prey on people's fears.

I am, as I have often been in the past - moreso since he became the majority leader, ashamed that this man represents my state in the Senate.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Pelosi: When does life begin? Doesn't matter.

Inane: adj, "One that lacks sense or substance"

Nancy Pelosi has stated that "The point is, is that it [when life begins] shouldn’t have an impact on the woman’s right to choose.” That is inane, and ridiculous. If you believe that a fetus is a living human made in God's image and yet think this fact should have no impact on whether it's permissible to kill it in the most inhuman ways imaginable, then we have a very serious failure to communicate.

When preserving abortion is more important than preserving life, there is something seriously wrong with your priorities.

On a side note, I find it perverse that abortion is always - cleverly, I admit - framed in terms like "family planning," "women's health," and "women's reproductive health." As I said during a discussion with some other Coram Deoites at the Reno AIDS Walk, I don't support abortion. I do support family planning, women's health, and women's reproductive health. These are not incompatible statements. Childbirth is a dangerous activity, and I want women to be healthy through the whole process, as I want them and other human beings to be healthy. But such terms relegate the child to the realm of a cancer, tumor, or other undesireable growth that must be eliminated for the woman to be made healthy.

It is dehumanizing, both for the child and for those that promote such manipulations of the truth.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Alternate Headline

An alternate headline for this story:

States Sue Because Gas is Too Cheap

Restrictions on refineries, after all, come with a price on the end product. Ask anyone who's had to pay for a catalytic converter about the hidden cost of efficiency regulations.

Public Domain Audiobooks

I've recently taken an interest in listening to audiobooks on my iPod. It is, then, a great resource to find a compendium of public domain books recorded by volunteers for free.

From Augustine to Mark Twain to Shakespeare, this is an interesting resource. Currently, I'm enjoying "A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court."

Check out LibriVox.

Friday, August 22, 2008


I finally updated the Service Sites map I maintain for both my own use and the church's, too. The latest events were June's "Alex's Lemonade Stand" event at Butcher Boy Prime, and July's "Otter Pop Giveaway" in downtown Reno.

The map is here.

On the Edge

It is a curious feeling to be utterly dependent. My church is relatively poor, in that we don't have the money to go and spend a lot on what many churches would consider "the essentials." We can't support a web of ministries to every age/race/sex/marital status group there is. We can, on the best of months, pay our staff and our rent and be able to help out people in need without hitting our savings. On an average month, we don't even do that.

And so, in a very real sense, our church is depending on God for our long-term survival. This provides an interesting sense of mingled fear and excitement. Fear, because I want to be able to provide for our staff. Excitement, because we've been on the receiving end of the provisions we need plenty of times.

I'm confident we are on the right course. We see sinners repenting, marriages being saved, and a love for Christ being worked out in practical service to the community. And I can only hope that as we continue to press ahead with this that God will provide what we need to continue.

We are depending on God's provision. It means that we can't see from where it will come, but that we simply ask God to provide, and trust that He will.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The Doppleganger's Political Debate

Ben, he who is very much like me except that he is ardently liberal while I am ardently conservative, would like to have a debate with me about the merits of our views. Especially, I think, as regards our mutual faith in Christ.

I think an important framework for such a discussion has to start with what is agreed upon. I suspect, as I think I've stated soemwhere before, that I believe we probably agree on many things. We agree, broadly, in our theology - in who we regard Jesus to be, on the call on each of us as Christ-followers to obey him in all areas of our lives, and on the authority of the Bible. We agree that as Christians, we are not to give perference to rich and powerful people who we intend to use to leverage ourselves into greater positions of power, but to care in particular for the poor, lowly, forgotten people of the world. We agree that the simplest acts of compassion for these people are acts so incalculably valuable as if they had been rendered to God Himself.

I think, though this is a more general pronouncement, that we both want to see the greatest "good" done for the greatest number of people. We both want to maximise people's welfare across both material and immaterieal dimensions. We want to see justice, freedom, faith, love, and the other great things spread among all people.

The great divergence, I think, is in how we see this best accomplished. To what degree should we attempt to wield the power of government towarsd these ends? To what degree can/should we use the power of government to tax and seize resources to give them to others? Why? Why not?

I will, then, invite Ben to give his opinion on this question: To what degree should we as Christians support or cause our government to take resources from those we deem to have enough, and give it to those we deem as not having enough - both domestically and internationally. If possible, I'd like some bounds on when we should and should not. At what point should we abstain from, or even oppose, the government using its power in that way. Staking out our positions will help set a groundwork for the rest of the discussion.

New Template

I don't know what broke, but I've transitioned to a default layout for the time being. At least now I have a stylesheet again, as my old one appeared to have gone on a holiday.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008


It's worth it to sacrifice your immediate interests and desires when the clear choice exists between doing what is right, and doing what you desire. It's worth it even when the perceived gap between the path you wanted to take and the path you chose seems to be all there is to the story.

It's something we have to accept, and hold on to, by faith. Especially at times when the path beyond the other choice seems like it would have been so much smoother.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Cause and Effect

Democrats in Congress will have you believe (and according to an opinion poll, their story is widely believed) that profits earned by Exxon (and other large oil companies) is a leading cause of high gas prices. The wailing and gnashing of teeth by Democrats over this is easy enough to find.

What you might not hear is that, while Exxon earned $11.68 billion in net profit in the second quarter of 2008, they paid $32.36 billion in taxes during the same quarter.

If, then, $11 billion in profit is an unconscionable drain on the American people... what is the effect of nearly 3 times as much being paid in taxes? For every dollar in profit Exxon earned, it paid three dollars to the government. And given a roughly 10% profit margin, that means it spent another six dollars on neither taxes nor profit, but simply in the expense of doing business.

So, of costs, taxes, and profit... the smallest share of all (and, therefore, the smallest contributor to high prices of the three broad categories listed) goes to profit.

Total Revenues: $138 billion
Total Costs (including sales and "other" taxes): $116 billion
Total Income Taxes: $10.5 billion
Total Profit: $11.7 billion

For the government that extracts 3 times as much in taxes to wag its finger over the profit that gives Exxon a reason to be in business to begin with... I find it hypocritical, shallow, and alas - all too convincing to the American public.

Why Obama Could Spell Disaster

As intelligent as he may be, Senator Obama has turned back to the basest form of vote-buying: elect me and I'll take their money and give it to you.

For him to toss around words like "windfall" without bothering to define what that means is dangerous. The Wall Street Journal puts it much better than I can:

The point is that what constitutes an abnormal profit is entirely arbitrary. It is in the eye of the political beholder, who is usually looking to soak some unpopular business. In other words, a windfall is nothing more than a profit earned by a business that some politician dislikes. And a tax on that profit is merely a form of politically motivated expropriation.

It's what politicians do in Venezuela, not in a free country.