Border Patrol

Living in South Texas, my mother is concerned about issues of border security. As she noted this morning,

 “We’ve got more illegal aliens inside the United States than outside of it.”

Doing the Math

Over at Mere Comments, Dr Anthony Esolen has posited a multi-level puzzle concerning the nature of infinity.

Many of the responding comments are as enlightening as the puzzle itself as they discuss the theological/philosophical nature of mathematics.

The rest of you may already be familiar with it, but I laughed out loud at one joke I found in the comments:

One day Rene Descartes entered a cafe and sat at a table. The waitress approached and said, “Would you like some coffee, Monsieur Descartes?”
“yes, I would” he replied.
“And some cream with that, Monsieur Descartes?”
“Yes, I would.”
“And some sugar, Monsieur Descartes?”
“I think not” he said, and disappeared.

Perhaps I’m just easily amused.

The Judgment Seat of James Dobson

James Dobson is starting to get a bit irritating. I hope he doesn’t use his influence to shatter the evangelical Christian vote and divide the Republican Party in the 2008 Presidential election.

Dobson seems to litmus test all the candidates on a variety of issues. But even if they pass muster on the usual social issues, they have to fit Dobson’s test with regard to public expressions of faith.

Dobson has told U.S. News and World Report that he doesn’t think Fred Thompson is a Christian. Dobson never bothered ask Fred or Fred’s people if Fred was a Christian. But since Dobson didn’t have access to sufficient public statements of Thompson’s faith he just concluded, “I don’t think he’s a Christian.”

Thompson’s people immediately responded that Thompson was indeed a Christian and had been baptised in the Church of Christ. Since the Church of Christ practice “believer baptism” this should be good enough for Dobson. Theoretically, Thompson would have had to have made a public profession of faith, even if it wasn’t in front of the Focus on thr Family founder himself. I’m hoping Dobson isn’t getting to the point of having to pray the “sinner’s prayer” with each candidate individually to be convinced of their born again status.

I am curious what Dobson thinks of Sam Brownback, who was an evangelical but converted to the Roman Catholic Church. Will he urge evangelicals to not vote for Brownback because he has forsaken evangelicalism? And I wonder what he would make of an Orthodox candidate who happened to actually espouse Orthodoxy.

It is time for Dobson to focus on the social issues important to most Christians and leave the salvation test to God.

H/T The Original Mud Puppy

Lies and Paper Tigers

Iran is continuing to reneg on promises to release Leading Seaman Faye Turney, even after the second letter written under duress. It is so full of mistakes even about British government that it could not have been anything other than a dictated piece.  The British Government rightly dismissed it. I don’t often use the terms “British Government” and “rightly” in the same sentence.

The Iranians seem to want to play hardballs. Frankly, if they have the balls to do it, they have entirely misplaced testicular fortitude. If it came to an out and out military confrontation, the Iranians would crumple. Muslim armies may have marched across the world in the 8th century. They may have done it again under Temur in the 13th and 14th. But this is not the Middle Ages.

Let’s look at it this way. The Iranians fought their much smaller neighbour Iraq for almost the entirety of the 1980s and they never came close to winning. These are the same Iraqis that were defeated in 100 hours in the first Gulf War and again in a matter of days in the second Gulf War.

There are two aircraft carriers in the Gulf just waiting for something to do. I can think of little better for them than a little dogfighting (if the Iranians can get their planes into the air) and a little target practice. There’s nothing like a few Iranian fish in a barrel. The Iranians will resort to the same thing as the insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan – hit and run (or hit and suicide bomb) terrorism.

 That’s the only play in their book. They know that they can’t actually stand up against the West and that just pisses them off more. That’s why they kidnap women, shamefully force Muslim attire on them, and dictate nonsenisical letters to them. That’s why they unashamedly lie to British officials and make silly demands.

For all their bluster, that’s all they’ve got. The emperor – or in this case the Ayatollah – has no clothes, not even from his navel to his knees.

Skiving

Truancy figures are up. More kids are skipping school. I could have told them that.

According to The Times,

The figures, which also showed that girls were more likely to be absent than boys, were 18 per cent higher than suggested by previous statistics, which were only compiled by schools once a year, rather than each term, had suggested.  .  . Ministers pointed out that while the overall truancy rate was higher than previous figures suggested, there were 20 per cent fewer persistent truants at the 436 secondaries targeted for intervention.  Jim Knight, the Schools Minister, said that this showed that efforts to tackle truancy were bringing results.

That’s right. They put their money on 436 schools where truancy is now down, but over the whole country (for which DfES is responsible, last time I looked) truancy is up, and this is a positive result.

Other than prosecuting parents, there is little schools can do. Truants cannot be punished by suspension or expulsion. Once again, the only effective methods appear to be reward systems. They have to be bribed into simply doing the right thing. The bigger the bribes (some schools use trips to theme parks) the better the result. There is absolutely no sense of responsibility or duty. No one does what they are supposed to do simply because they are supposed to do it.

And this leads to injustice. Bad kids get rewards for not being criminals. The ever-decreasing pool of good kids get nothing other than the satisfaction of being good.

It’s Just a Building

The Turkish government has renovated an Armenian church building. This is not any church building. It is the Palatine Cathedral of the Holy Cross on Akdamar Island in Lake Van. For a country that denies the genocide of 1.5 million Armenians and has systematically eradicated all evidence of Armenian culture from eastern Turkey, this may seem like a surprise. But the Turks still manage to be two-faced.

The restored 1,100-year-old building is simply a building. It is not opened for worship. Patriarch Mesrob II has asked that worship be allowed there just once a year. The culture minister said the government would consider the request, but since they have refused requests to even put a cross on the roof, I would not anticipate a response from Ankara for a long time. It will take them a long time to come up with a refusal that they imagine will be palatable to the European Union they so desperately want to join.

You would think that if the Turks were going to spend $1.5 million and 18 months to restore the building, they would want it to be used. But this is the Turks we are talking about.

In 1915, the monks of Akdamar Island were slaughtered. The cathedral was looted. By Turks. Now they have restored it as a museum with no mention whatsoever of what happened there. The Turks never mention the genocide. For anyone in Turkey to even suggest there was a genocide is a crime. In other words, it is a crime to not be a holocaust denier. So as far as the Turks are concerned there were no monks. There was nothing in the building to loot. It’s all in the Armenian imagination.

To suggest otherwise is insulting Turkishness. How do the Turks not understand that they make Turkishness look so bad. When they prosecute someone or ignore Armenian history, they are ones who look like fools.

Until they restore Armenian worship and restore the rightful place of Armenian culture, they have done nothing. All this talk in Britain of apologising for the slave trade looks like foolishness compared to the real, continuing, unapologetic, agressive mistreatment of Armenian culture in the aftermath of the genocide.

Compassion Redefined

As much as I hate to disappoint my loyal readership, my posting may be sporadic during the Easter holidays.

The Iranian kidnapping of British sailors continues to dominate the news. As more and more facts come it, it has become more and more indesputable that the British sailors were in Iraqi waters. The Iranians even as much as admitted it by giving their own coordinates, which proved they were in Iraqi waters. When caught out the Iranians changed their tune and came up with another set.

The Iranians knew exactly what they were doing. Every government run by people of sane mind (that’s pretty much every government apart from Iran) needs to demand the release of the hostages. The Iranians have acted in the most despicable, dishourable way.

This includes the way that they have used Leading Seaman Faye Turney. Even though the Qur’an says there shall be no compulsion on matters of religion, Seaman Turney has been photographed wearing a scarf over her head in stark contrast to her military uniform. As least their view of women means that she is likely to get released first.

According to the first apology she penned at gunpoint, “The people are friendly and hospitable, very compassionate and warm. Please don’t worry about me, I am staying strong. Hopefully it won’t be long until I am home to get ready for Molly’s birthday party with a present from the Iranian people,” Isn’t that lovely. How sweet. The people who kidnapped me warm and friendly. They’re compassionately holding me hostage, but when they let me go, they going to give my daughter a present.

The Iranians weren’t letting her go until she wrote another apology urging the British Government to withdraw the troops from Iraq.  Now maybe after two apologies, the compassionate kidnappers will let her go. We’ll have to see.