Dexter Justus

DEXTER JUSTINIAN Occaisional blogging by someone with too much free time...

Sunday, June 27, 2004

Scientific American shows its colors

I had two things I wanted to cover tonight, but right now I can only remember one of them.

I bought a Scientific American at the newstand, as I sometimes do, because it had a space policy article advertised on the cover. I was disappointed to see a laudatory two page article on some Malthusian from Britain named Sir Martin Rees. Here's the tagline: Unleashed viruses, environmental disaster, gray goo--astronomer Sir Martin Rees calculates that civilization has only a 50-50 chance of making it to the 22nd century," all detailed of course in his book Our Final Hour.

The article proceeds to devote three and a half full columns to unskeptical reinforcement of this dreary malthusian vision. It then allows two paragraphs of half-hearted rebuttal, in the process setting up a couple of strawmen it knocks down in the closing paragraph.

This is followed up later in the magazine by a two page book review of The Retreat of Elephants: An Environmental History of China, a sad tale of deelephantation by evil, barbaric, nature-destroying man in China--over the last 3000 years, that is. The author leaves no doubt as to his bias is. Let me quote you the second-last paragraph:

What gives this book special resonance is the impact China will have on the global environment in the coming decades. The industrial revolution has been so destructive of nature that we should be wary of what the industrialization of China and India will mean.

Yeah, let's keep the people of the third world barefoot and poor. That way we can feel sorry for them and send them Sally Struthers to make them feel better. I mean, they don't need shoes and cars and silly Western ideas like that. Let's keep them in their 'natural' state, right?

I congratulate my Chinese friends when they buy their first cars, one after the other,
Gimme a break, this dude has no Chinese friends buying their first cars. If he has Chinese friends, they're renting out his summer home and borrowing his Mercedes in Long Island.

but collectively the result of Chinese industrialization will be to swallow up nonrenewable resources, to increase carbon emissions, and to send acid rain drizzling down on much of the globe I think what he means by this is Soviet industrialization, right? Because by this moron's logic the increasing industrialization of America over the last half century should have killed us all by now--oh yeah, wait a minute, air quality's better now than it was in the 70s or even the 50s. Oops, more malthusian logic right down the drain...

But now we're down to brass tacks. This is what so many 'environmentalists' really are afraid of. It's those savages in China, really. The really sad part is not finding that this is as unscientific as it is boring--but that the article writing is so darn unimaginative.

Unbelieveable. I expect read this kind of dreck in the LA Times. I can't tell you right now what the odds are that our civilization will make it to 22nd century. But I can easily fortell the next ten years for Scientific American. Continuing unskeptical promotion of envirowhining in opinion pieces-100%. Continued flight of interesting scientific articles to other mags-100%. Declining earnings from ever diminishing reader base-100%. You can take that to the bank. That's the last Scientific American I buy for a while...

Thursday, June 24, 2004

Wow! that was certainly a long and blathering post I did last night. Not tonight, I promise.

BTW the evidence is in--baseball is booming this year. after slowly returning earnings, now, earnings aside, baseball is popular again. The Cards have been just tearing up the diamond lately. Nobody can hang with 'em, and the weird thing is they're doing it all with Matt Morris and Woody Williams both playing....well, so so. Don't get me wrong, i think Matt Morris is a great pitcher--he's jsut struggling right now. That's ok, I couldn't be happier. Not only are the Cards doing well, they're doing well with the non-marquis players (except Scott Rolen) doing most of the heavy lifting. I'm just not sure it gets better than this. Although I guess I better hold my breath till after the all-star break really... The baseball gods giveth, the baseball gods taketh away...

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

I don't think I'm going to have the time to seriously blog tonight. Baseball Girl's been chatting with me pretty much nonstop..not that I mind :-)

Anyway, before I go tonight, I need to mention one thing that irritates me constantly on many of the Christian / Catholic blogs. That's the constant assumed immorality of Islam, stemming from its identification as a 'false' revalation. The Satanic Verses is pretty much how the average Christian sums up Islam. Islam proceeds clearly from the Abramic tradition, but with its institutionalized calls for the death or conversion of all non-Muslims, even the most generous of Christian interpretations sees it as an at its base false revelation. After all, how can it be revealed AFTER Christ,and yet be against Christianity? How can godliness be set against godliness? God does not fight himself. The other glaring problem for Christians is that Islam appears to be just plain barbaric. The God of Islam(Allah in Arabic) is a vengeful god who doesn't screw around on stuff like mercy for the non-believer. An awful lot closer to the God of Moses and Joshua than to the ever-forgiving God of the New Testament.

Of course in the same line of argument that Pharisees looking for evidence against Jesus came up against, how can Islam be from Satan? The clear evidence is that for the vast majority of Muslims, and especially in comparison to what it replaces, Islam is a source of virtue and godliness. Satan, the father of lies, cannot work for god. If virtue is the result, the majority of it must come from divine sources.

Perhaps Mohammed just screwed up the revelation then? Perhaps he was just plain too human. Much of Islam is theologically set up precariously. Unlike both Judaism and Christianity (and actually much like Mormanism, which is technically a branch of Christianity) Islam's only holy book, the Koran, appears to be written by a single source.

Like the book of Mormon, the Koran is written with all the individual foilables and peculiaritiess that a single voice interjects, along with a much smaller number of bizarre assertions. This 'single source' is both a strength and a weakness.

The multiple sources, styles, and voices in the Bible leave it easily open to questioning and interpretation. This leads in (rational) Christianity and Judaism to church officials and scribes attempting to figure out the divine word of god as seen through the human medium of the writer. In the revealed religions, on the other hand, because of the single source, the actual words themselves are generally seen as divinely written. While this often prevents the overly generous interpretations of some liberal 'Christians' who find permission for any morality or behavior reading somewhere between the lines of scripture, it also prevents the a testing of the humanities of the script.

The result may be that while outwardly strong, the 'revealed' religions (Islam and LDS) are actually resting on a house of cards--the assumed divinity not just of the inspiration, but of the actual wording of their source documents. Meanwhile the much more liberal (and outwardly weaker) religions of the Judeo-Christian branch are actually built on much stronger foundations--foundations that have been tested severely in the post-enlightenment world of questioning.

It may be matter of time until Islam collapses, and it could be very sudden indeed. In the meantime, there can be little doubt that at the very least Islam has prepared a vast portion of the world through its Abrahamic traditions and focus on virtue. Without virtue, faith has trouble finding root. Perhaps the way has been made ready for Christ.

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Just about to head down for the night.
I think I've realized I'm never going to actually start using this blog unless I actually make a habit of making comments about the stuff I'm thinking about, so here's today's:

I saw a quote in line at Seattle's Best Coffee, one of those 'quote of the day' they post. It was from a speech Teddy Roosevelt gave in 1903. "The greatest happiness that a man can ask for is to work hard at a job that has meaning."

That phrase kind of rolled around in my head all day -- along with a family quote from my grandfather via my dad: Anything worth doing is worth doing right, the first time.

Of course all that grokking left my head quite full--so sure enough I blew my day out of my ass. I set up two conflicting appointments at 1 pm then successfully missed both by working out for too long at lunch. I tried to make up for it by staying today until what I had planned for today was done. Maybe I did, I don't know. We'll see where I'm at tomorrow.

Thursday, June 17, 2004

Ok, we're going to go through a step change here.
My third day into blogging I realized I needed to focus my attention elsewhere, so here I am three months later. It's time to start anew.