Wednesday, 4/30/14

    1. Shredding fish?!
    2. Gloria Mundi’s Krustian Defenders block the transit
    3. Oh, yeah: Great Weather App
    4. Today’s Bread, Circus and 2-Minute Hate
    5. Culture, not knowledge

1

A certain Yates caught three undersize red groupers and instead of releasing them, destroyed them. Federal charges were brought under – hold onto your hats – Sarbanes Oxley:

Whoever knowingly alters, destroys, mutilates, conceals, covers up, falsifies, or makes a false entry in any record, document, or tangible object with the intent to impede, obstruct, or influence the investigation or proper administration of any matter within the jurisdiction of any department or agency of the United States … or in relation to or contemplation of any such matter … shall be fined under this title, imprisoned not more than 20 years, or both.

I don’t want to go all Cliven Bundy over this, but:

Did you really think that we want those laws observed? . . . We want them broken . . . . There’s no way to rule innocent men.  The only power any government has is to crack down on criminals.  Well, when there aren’t enough criminals one makes them.  One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible to live without breaking laws.  Who wants a nation of law-abiding citizens?  What’s there in that for anyone?  But just pass the kind of laws that can neither be observed nor enforced nor objectively interpreted — and you create a nation of lawbreakers — and then you cash in on guilt.

(Atlas Shrugged)

2

The defenders of Gloria Mundi (f/k/a Sarah Palin) have leapt to defense of her weekend obscenity at the NRA Convention. I’m under their radar, I guess, for which I’m grateful.

Rod Dreher isn’t under their radar, and they’re pulling out the RINO-type snipes against him. He responds in The Pro-Torture Palin Populists with remarkable grace – and passion.

I’m 100% with him (and with Christ) on this one. That putative Christians would defend even a jesting proposal to use baptism as a torture confirms that the prevailing vocal and public Christianity of this nation is sick, sick, sick. (Or should that be “sic, sic, sic”?) Note that I said “confirms.”

Father Jonathan Tobias also weighs in:

There are many positions that you can adopt as an American, but cannot hold to as a Christian … There is no warrant whatsoever in authentic Christianity — even in heterodox Christianity — for the use of torture. Those who engage in it have essentially excommunicated themselves from the Body of Christ, whether or not their judicatories notice or do their jobs.

Thus, Ms Sarah Palin (as reported here) can recommend water boarding all she wants. And she may have the freedom to do so as an American (unfortunately).

But not as a Christian.

Let me ask Gloria a question: did Christopher Hitchens get “baptized” for Vanity Fair, or does the masked torturer need a clerical collar (or better: a pompadour and a pinkie ring) for a it to be a baptism?

3

On an infinitely lighter note, I commend to smartphone users the Dark Sky weather app, which I recently discovered. That’s about all the weather news I need. I even picked up a few additional capabilities of it in writing this brief item.

We now return to our regularly scheduled jeremiad.

4

Pat Buchanan asks if America is a serious country any more. Since I haven’t followed the Donald Sterling and Cliven Bundy stories closely enough to warrant comment, I’ll just give you Buchanan’s closer and you can read him yourself if this is the sort of kerfuffle that floats your boat:

Nevertheless, when nonsense like stupid racial remarks by Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy and Clippers boss Donald Sterling can consume the nation’s conversation for a full week, it does raise a far more disturbing question: Is America still a serious country?

Yeah. I thought it was odd that the canonization of JP II got so little attention.

UPDATE: I wrote the preceding on Tuesday morning. Even PBS was in on the Two Minute Hate by evening, but liked it so much they must have repeated it about 4 times for a total of Ten Minutes of Hate.

I hate like heck to say anything nice about that lecherous gargoyle Donald “John” Sterling, but is a surreptitiously-recorded admonition to his mixed-race mistress not to cuckold him quite so publicly really worth the NBA version of the death penalty?

Granted, I’ll never vote for a ticket on which he’s the Veep candidate.

5

Jonathan Coppage at the American Conservative had the bright idea of pulling back the curtain a bit after he suggested, perhaps intuitively, that “scientists and their advocates overreact to surveys showing widespread American skepticism of evolution and the Big Bang.” What he found is that “certain beliefs about science are absolutely more reflective of cultural identity than scientific knowledge.” As in this:

if you think the proportion of survey respondents who say they “believe in evolution” is an indicator of the quality of the science education that people are receiving in the U.S., you are misinformed.

Do you know what the correlation is between saying “I believe in evolution” and possessing even a basic understanding of “natural selection,” “random mutation,” and “genetic variance”—the core elements of the modern synthesis in evolutionary science?

Zero.

Those who say they “do believe” are no more likely to be able to give a high-school biology-exam-quality account of how evolution works than those who say they “don’t.”

In fact, he recounts that the National Science Foundation recently proposed removing the true/false evolution question from its survey of scientific knowledge altogether, because they found “giving the correct answer to that question doesn’t cohere with giving the right answer to the other questions in NSF’s science-literacy inventory.” As Kahan continues, “What that tells you, if you understand test-question validity, is that the evolution item isn’t measuring the same thing as the other science-literacy items.”

This is simultaneously surprising (I don’t think I’d have predicted this had I stopped to ask the question), heartening (my former co-religionists aren’t scientific ignoramuses when they deny evolution, as they tend to) and infuriating (why the smugness if the percentage of ignoramuses who profess belief in evolution increases when they can’t remotely explain it?).

It’s good reading.

* * * * *

“The remarks made in this essay do not represent scholarly research. They are intended as topical stimulations for conversation among intelligent and informed people.” (Gerhart Niemeyer)

Some succinct standing advice on recurring themes.