Mailvox: hardly the only one

Someone, presumably tcw, writes:

What surprise…. Ban the only atheist on the board so that the echo chamber can resume and ideas aren’t challenged.

Nicely done, Vox.

Right, I’m directly taking on the three leading public atheists, but I’m quivering in terror before the lunatic meanderings of a solitary Internet pest.

While tcw was far from the only non-Christian on this blog, he was the only annoying one. I don’t care if someone is a Buddhist, a zetecist or one of the four last remaining Shakers, so long as he abides by the basic rules of this blog. Tcw was given plenty of opportunities to modify his behavior, unlike others who have received similar warnings and have not only remained but even gained the respect of the regulars here, he refused to do so.

Tcw wasn’t banned without cause, he was banned because he was repeatedly and demonstrably intellectually dishonest, continually evasive and finally, refused to provide direct answers to specific questions after being warned not to do so. I don’t care if people agree with me or not, but I refuse to tolerate that sort of behavior here. It’s not interesting, it’s not informative and it’s not going to happen here.

Who fears science?

In which it is proved the idea that the godless care more about others is nothing but blind and unsupportable faith. When one actually applies science to the question and experiments to obtain real data, the empirical evidence clearly shows that the godless are twice as indifferent to others as the faithful:

To test what types of people give more, “20/20” went to two very different parts of the country, with contrasting populations: Sioux Falls, S.D. and San Francisco, Calif. The Salvation Army set up buckets at the busiest locations in each city — Macy’s in San Francisco and Wal-Mart in Sioux Falls. Which bucket collected more money?

Sioux Falls is rural and religious; half of the population goes to church every week. People in San Francisco make much more money, are predominantly liberal, and just 14 percent of people in San Francisco attend church every week. Liberals are said to care more about helping the poor; so did people in San Francisco give more?

It turns out that this idea that liberals give more…is a myth…. the single biggest predictor of whether someone will be charitable is their religious participation. Religious people are more likely to give to charity, and when they give, they give more money: four times as much.

We are the chunky

There’s a choice we’re making, we’re stuffing our fat faces:

Africa, a continent usually synonymous with hunger, is falling prey to obesity. It’s a trend driven by new lifestyles and old beliefs that big is beautiful. Ask Nodo Njobo, a plump hairdressing assistant. She is coy about her weight, but like many African women, proud of her “big bum.” She says she’d like to be slimmer, but worries how her friends would react….

More than one-third of African women and a quarter of African men are estimated to be overweight, and the World Health Organization predicts that will rise to 41 percent and 30 percent respectively in the next 10 years.

Some years ago, PJ O’Rourke demonstrated that starvation in Africa was a political matter, not a matter of drought or a lack of agriculture. I wonder, though, what he would have made of how the fat gene and the overactive thyroid condition that causes obesity in so many Americans – through no fault of their own, of course – managed to migrate to Africa in the previous decade.

The greased pan frying in the night
As I grow restless waiting for some stuffed and deep-fried calamari
You’d think I had a parasite
Sure as Kilimanjaro rises like a flan above the Serengeti
I seek to eat what’s in my sight, washed down by a hot and buttered rum.

It’s gonna take a lot to drag me away from food
There’s nothing that could ever change my attitude
I bless the cooks down in Africa
Gonna take some time to eat the things we never had

Post-Christianity isn’t atheist

Graphic support for Chesterton’s assertion that those who believe in nothing will believe in anything. It’s interesting to see that the most atheistic country isn’t one of the Scandinavian countries, as Sam Tzu would have us believe, but France, the republic founded on the Terror.

Although I’m not sure the notion of the Norse bringing back “the blood eagle” is the best idea, there ain’t no party like a Viking funeral party.

Calling all Supreme Court justices

Yet one more reason to like the Cowgirl:

Late in the second quarter, linebacker Buster Davis laid out one of Florida’s most dynamic players, freshman receiver/running back Percy Harvin. I have never heard a stadium grow more silent. The visitor section sat there, stunned. Minutes passed as Harvin remained motionless on the ground, being tended to by numerous paramedics. Then, almost in unison, the entire Gator bench left their sideline, came out to the hash marks and knelt in prayer. What happened next, though, really shocked me.

Upon the Gators’ impromptu vigil, Florida State and Florida fans alike rose and applauded. Not in a “hooting and hollering” sort of way, but in one that said, “This is what the game is supposed to be about: camaraderie, sportsmanship and faith.” This moment, of course, was probably never televised, but it was one of the most pivotal and moving in the game.

I’m not exactly a fan of female sportswriters, but Miss Sterger is more than mere eye candy. Sure, she writes about herself, but she also grasps that it’s not actually all about her.

No doubt Michael “Pain in the Atheist” Newdow will soon be filing suit against the Florida football team.

Pick your poison

While this is indicative of a larger problem, it’s also not a bad idea:

In his book Islam in Britain, Patrick Sookhdeo, director of the Institute for the Study of Islam and Christianity, says there is an “alternative parallel unofficial legal system” that operates in the Muslim community on a voluntary basis.

“Sharia courts now operate in most larger cities, with different sectarian and ethnic groups operating their own courts that cater to their specific needs according to their traditions,” he says. These are based on sharia councils, set up in Britain to help Muslims solve family and personal problems.

Sharia councils may grant divorces under religious law to a woman whose husband refuses to complete a civil divorce by declaring his marriage over. There is evidence that these councils are evolving into courts of arbitration.

Faizul Aqtab Siddiqi, a barrister and principal of Hijaz College Islamic University, near Nuneaton, Warwicks, said this type of court had advantages for Muslims. “It operates on a low budget, it operates on very small timescales and the process and the laws of evidence are far more lenient and it’s less awesome an environment than the English courts,” he said.

Mr Siddiqi predicted that there would be a formal network of Muslim courts within a decade.

Now, there’s nothing wrong with this sort of unofficial court providing arbitration, indeed, it’s more legitimate than any American immigration, family or tax courts, most of which are prohibited under the various constitutional separation of powers doctrines. (It’s easy to verify, first read your state’s constitution and then find out who writes the “judges” checks. If it’s an executive-branch agency, it’s a fake court. Abandon justice, all ye who enter….) But it is interesting that Britain hasn’t even finished its transition into post-Christianity before seeing an alternative religious structure being erected.

Like nature, the human spirit abhors a vaccuum, especially a vacuous one of the sort secularism has on offer.

A writer in need of a dictionary

Arnaud de Borchgrave plays word games:

The costly effort in blood and treasure to foster democracy in Iraq is clearly beyond our reach. Henry Kissinger, chief mandarin of geopoliticians, who negotiated the 1973 agreements that ended the Vietnam War, says Iraq is unwinnable. If by victory, he explained, we mean a viable democratic Iraqi state, able to sustain itself, forget it because it can’t be done. A far cry from “failure is not an option.”

The “go big,” “go long,” and “go home” options bear little relationship to the art of the possible. A broken military cannot afford to go big, unless, of course, the draft is re-enacted, which a Democratic Congress would reject. To go long would require domestic support, which has waned to 30 percent. And to pack it in and go home under Option 3 would be tantamount to surrender to America’s enemies throughout the Middle East. Borne out, too, would be Osama bin Laden’s predictions about America’s lack of staying power. This weekend, Jordan’s King Abdullah warned against the danger of civil wars breaking out in neighboring Arab countries.

While I would not say that the US military is broken – the fact that it’s having problems doing something that no military is designed to do doesn’t mean that it can’t fulfill its true purposes – the democracy project is impossible. I argued that it was a deeply stupid proposition from the start, only now has this become obvious to everyone but the most clueless of the neoconned.

What’s strange is the stubborn assertion that going home “is not possible”. Of course it is! In fact, it’s not only possible, as it has been since the beginninng, but is now thankfully probable. I really despise this sort of attempt to control the agenda by perverting the language, it’s sad to see how conservative commentators now write almost as deceptively as their liberal counterparts.

110 percent is the answer

After all, if we can magically fix things halfway around the world in a Muslim country, we can surely do it just off Miami. Derb has a thought:

Reading [Haiti in Extremis], though, I had a thought that many other readers must have had, viz.: If, after prolonged occupation twice by U.S. (1915-34) and internation forces (1990-present), the place is still in such an appalling mess, what are our chances with far more populous, diverse, and lootable Iraq?

Perhaps we should establish a rule that no U.S. government should attempt to establish durable democracy in any place until it has first done so in Haiti.

VPFL Week 12

109 COS McRays
63 Burns Montgomerys

90 East Mesa WhiteTrash
78 Greenfield Grizzlies

82 Pale Horse Cowboys
61 Mile High Club

55 Santa Barbarians
35 West Texas Vikings

54 Mounds View Meerkats
49 Newport Sea Dogs

I’d feel a little more confident about remaining in first if Peyton was throwing more touchdowns, but I’ll take it for now.

Atheists are more criminal

Sam Harris, like many other atheists, likes to claim that the religious are no more moral than the non-religious. Unsurprisingly, he makes use of a nonsensical argument, a transitive one in which he states that since crime rates are higher in conservative states than in liberal states and liberals are less religious than conservatives, this means that the non-religious are more moral than the religious.

Never mind the fact that in every state, most crime occurs in large cities, those hotbeds of Christian conservatives. And of course, he avoids any actual statistics, such as the survey of the British prison population:

59.1% Christian
31.9% No religion

Compare this to the British population in the 2001 Census:

71.6% Christian
15.5% No religion

Based on these government statistics, the irreligious are overrepresented in prison by 110 percent. Christians, including even the most nominally Christian, are underrepresented by 17.5 percent. Based on Harris’ own stupid* metric, then, the non-religious are far less moral than Christians.

*Stupid because, as I’ve often written, legality is not morality