Dispatches from Outland
A little song. A little dance. A little seltzer down your pants. Copyright © 2003 Roy M. Jacobsen.


Friday, September 27, 2002  

Quote of the Day Department: "Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty."--John F. Kennedy, Inaugural Address, Jan. 20, 1961

posted by Roy M. Jacobsen at 2:48 PM
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The Elephant In The Newsroom Department: All over the world, Christians are being targeted for persecution, often lethal. The massacre in Karachi, Pakistan, is a perfect illustration of this. Yet journalists insist on phrasing these attacks as being aimed at "Western targets." Paul Marshall says this is not about "the West;" it's about religion.


The people believed to be behind the attacks, though, have made their motives plain. Members of Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, the terrorist group claiming responsibility for an October 2001 massacre in a Christian church, said that "they planned to kill Christians" in revenge for Muslim deaths in Afghanistan. The men who claimed responsibility for attacking the school in August announced that they "killed the nonbelievers." Daniel Pearl, the Wall Street Journal reporter kidnapped in Pakistan in January, was killed not only because he was a Westerner but also because he was Jewish, as his murderers made explicit.

Similarly, the Taliban made Hindus and Buddhists put distinguishing marks on their clothing and demolished the two largest Buddhist statues in the world. Recent intelligence reports suggest that al Qaeda members are involved in anti-Christian violence in eastern Indonesia. Extremist Islamists are attacking indigenous people in dozens of countries--including fellow Muslims--who do not share their extremist beliefs.

The key in each case is not a geopolitical affiliation but an unacceptable religious belief. When al Qaeda was formed in 1998, it was named the "World Islamic Front for Holy War Against Jews and Crusaders." Osama bin Laden stressed in an Al-Jazeera interview at the time that his target was "World Christianity, which is allied with Jews and Zionism."

Mainstream journalists seem to have an amazingly big blind spot when it comes to religion. Matters of faith are either belittled, or ignored entirely.

posted by Roy M. Jacobsen at 9:54 AM
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Megabux Department: From Forbes.com, the fifteen richest people in fiction. Did you know Willy Wonka and Thurston Howell III are richer than Bruce Wayne? Did you care?

posted by Roy M. Jacobsen at 9:23 AM
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Too Much Time On Their Hands Department: Somebody has spent two years to build a harpsichord made almost entirely of LEGOs.

With the exception of the wire strings, this instrument is entirely constructed out of LEGO parts--the keyboard, jacks, jack rack, jack rail, plectra, soundboard, bridge, hitch pins, tuning pins, wrestplank, nut, case, legs, lid, lid stick, and music stand are all built out of interlocking ABS (Acrylonitrile-Butadiene-Styrene) plastic bricks and related pieces.
And is playable.

posted by Roy M. Jacobsen at 9:16 AM
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Thursday, September 26, 2002  

Magic 8 Ball Department: Sometimes, making the wrong choice quickly is better than making the right choice slowly. I work in a large organization, and it never ceases to amaze me how some decisions are argued back and forth in committee and agonized over for the longest time. It’s times like that when you maybe should ask “What’s the worst thing that can happen if we choose wrong?” If the worst thing isn’t so bad, and you can correct it easily, just make the damn decision so people can get on with their work. If you find you chose wrong, then correct it and move on.

posted by Roy M. Jacobsen at 4:00 PM
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Laying It On The Line Department: David Heddle has some choice words for the Jesus Seminar and it's participants:

It is not my wont to engage in ad hominem attacks on those with whom I disagree.
Ayn Rand was not only a flaming atheist, but a bona fide religio-phobe. She didn’t just deny God; she despised all viewpoints save her own extreme form of humanism. Yet I would not call her “stupid” or “idiot” for it is clear she possessed a superior intellect.
Likewise for Bertrand Russell, Stephen J. Gould, Richard Dawkins, etc. Regardless of vast differences of opinion, I can restrain myself from labeling these men, as much as I would like, with terms that simply don’t apply.
It is just too easy and too unproductive to call someone with whom you disagree an “idiot”. I won’t do it.
With one exception: the self-selected "scholars" of the Jesus Seminar. Their work is beyond the pale. For them I make an exception.

posted by Roy M. Jacobsen at 9:14 AM
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Wednesday, September 25, 2002  

Shivering Timbers Department: Avast, ye swabs! I'll have you scurvy dogs know that me official pirate name is Mad Tom Flint. "Every pirate is a little bit crazy. You, though, are more than just a little bit. Like the rock flint, you're hard and sharp. But, also like flint, you're easily chipped, and sparky. Arr!"
What's your pirate name, matey?

posted by Roy M. Jacobsen at 8:46 AM
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Resistance Department: Marshall Allan begins an article on fighting sexual temptation by describing a Hooters billboard, and offers this observation:

The Hooters advertisement was mocking men for the obvious: Put three scantily clad women in front of us, and we’re bound to look, look, and look again until we cause a traffic accident. Of course people selling products are going to take advantage of this weakness. That’s why guys face sexual temptation in the form of advertising and commercials dozens of times a day. It’s so frequent many guys don’t even consider it tempting anymore; they just gaze at whatever image is put before them.
The article goes on to describe strategies for resisting sexual temptation.
Elsewhere, Fred Stoeker lists his strategy for dealing with the sexual images that have proliferated in advertising, and includes this quote from Billy Graham:
To read the papers and the magazines you would think we were almost worshiping the female bosom.

Finally, Frederica Mathewes-Green says we should consider another way for young people to fight sexual temptation: "Let's have more teen pregnancy." It isn't quite what you might think. Mathewes-Green says that sex and waiting are a bit like oil and water: they don't mix well.
Over the last 50 years the wait has gotten longer. In 1950, the average first-time bride was just over 20; in 1998 she was five years older, and her husband was pushing 27. If that June groom had launched into puberty at 12, he'd been waiting more than half his life.
If he had been waiting, that is. Sex is the sugar coating on the drive to reproduce, and that drive is nearly overwhelming. It's supposed to be; it's the survival engine of the human race. Fighting it means fighting a basic bodily instinct, akin to fighting thirst.
Mathewes-Green isn't advocating surrender, though. She is adamantly against pregnancy and sex outside of marriage. She is advocating restoring an society and culture that supports younger marriage so "you won't have to fight biology for a decade or more."

posted by Roy M. Jacobsen at 8:26 AM
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Tuesday, September 24, 2002  

Too Scary For Words Department: From OpinionJournal - Best of the Web Today, a description of something to horrible to imagine: Robo-Gore!

It appears Saddam Hussein has unleashed a new weapon of mass distraction on America, a Gore-like android so realistic it is every bit as lifeless as the real thing.

posted by Roy M. Jacobsen at 3:21 PM
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Lost Dogs Department: If you're a Daniel Amos/Terry Taylor/Lost Dogs fan, check out Jeremy Reynalds' interview with Terry Taylor and Michael Roe.

posted by Roy M. Jacobsen at 9:21 AM
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Comparative Religion Department: David Klinghoffer shares some observations about Washington state, which recent polling data shows to be "the second most unchurched in the nation." However, Klinghoffer says it doesn't feel that way, especially when compared to Manhattan, or Washington, D.C.

In Manhattan, one encounters a minority of active Catholics and Orthodox Jews, who are assumed to have commuted in from the outer boroughs. On the subways you see black women thumbing through small faded leather Bibles. Otherwise, in my ten years there I can't remember meeting a single person enthusiastically committed to the nation's dominant faith, Protestantism, much less an evangelical. Overall the feeling was that religion, if it exists, is an attenuated phenomenon of the mysterious, forbidden between the Hudson and East rivers.

posted by Roy M. Jacobsen at 8:37 AM
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Monday, September 23, 2002  

Mirror, Mirror Department: J. Bowen, of No Watermelons Allowed fame, has some interesting observations about those who ridicule people of faith:

Inevitably these people talk about reason, as if this were somehow incompatible with religion. It would help if they could do a better job of reasoning themselves. Then they'd realize that reason cannot justify itself, without the use of circular reasoning.

Therefore everything always starts from some core beliefs which must be accepted on faith. Which leaves the most militant evolution uber alles ranter standing on a platform no more solid than that of the religious people he ridicules.

In the book Systematic Theology, author Wayne Grudem makes much the same point when he discusses the authority of Scripture. (I'm going from memory here, so bear with me.) Any time you cite something as your "ultimate authority," you're going to end up making circular arguments. E.g. "I rely on reason as my ultimate authority because it is reasonable to do so."
At the same time, it is folly of the worst kind to say that all religion is based solely on faith, and that reason has nothing at all to do with it. "Come now, let us reason together," says the LORD. (Isaiah 1:18a) Those who are willing to look will find plenty of hard evidence that supports faith.

posted by Roy M. Jacobsen at 2:15 PM
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Slip Of The Tongue Department: I was just chatting with a co-worker, and I was trying to say someone was a "systems analyst," but it came out as "systems animist." I've often thought that computers might be influenced, or even inhabited, by spirits.

posted by Roy M. Jacobsen at 9:36 AM
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The Right Stuff Prevails Department: According to the BBC, Buzz Aldrin will not be prosecuted for punching noted nut-case, Bart Sibrel. Orrin Judd asks "Prosecute Aldrin? Why don't they charge this Sibrel nitwit? "

posted by Roy M. Jacobsen at 9:18 AM
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Deep Thoughts Department: /ben/ offers this observation: "Sure, Christians are hypocrites, but we are clear on the standard we are failing to meet."

posted by Roy M. Jacobsen at 8:52 AM
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Modern Language Department: From HokiePundit, we learn "How to Tell that You're at a Southern University pt. II".

posted by Roy M. Jacobsen at 8:44 AM
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