Crucifixion in the UK

In light of the massive protests of the recent Israeli attacks in Gaza taking place in London, of all places, to say nothing of the UK’s recent adoption of some aspects of Sharia law, it’s interesting to note how more advanced Sharia legal systems have progressed:

On Tuesday, Hamas legislators marked the Christmas season by passing a Shari’a criminal code for the Palestinian Authority. Among other things, it legalizes crucifixion.

Somehow, I don’t quite think this is the progress that the multiculturalist progressives were expecting. But, as the evolutionary biologists are often forced to explain, progress is only visible in hindsight. Barring any grand supernatural designs or genuine prophetic gifts, there’s absolutely no way to reliably predict future human events.

The college scam

It’s actually worse than you probably think:

Hickey got caught in an increasingly common trap in the nation’s $85-billion student loan market. She borrowed heavily, presuming that all her debt was part of the federal student loan program. But most of the money she borrowed was actually in private loans, the fastest-growing segment of the student loan market. Private loans have no relation to the federal loan program, with one exception: In many cases, they are offered by the same for-profit companies that provide federally funded student loans…. Whereas federally guaranteed loans have fixed interest rates, currently either 6% or 6.8%, private loans are more like credit card debt. Interest rates aren’t fixed and often run 15% or more, not counting fees.

It might make sense to go $140,000 into debt if you’re getting a law degree from an Ivy League school or a medical degree. It probably isn’t worth it for a postgraduate science degree or an MBA, at least not in the present economic environment. But how could any advisor possibly recommend that kind of debt for an undergraduate photography degree. If one assumes that the degree is worth an additional $15k per year to the young woman, then it’s going to take about 14 years for her just to break even, assuming that she doesn’t get married, have kids, or spend any time unemployed.

The bizarre idea that the value of a college degree is incalculable is downright cretinous. It’s important to recognize that such values are not only calculable, they are calculated in detail by the many institutions that sell college degrees and the various parasitical organizations that live off the proceeds of encouraging those transactions. Unless your degree is going to lead directly to a six-digit salary, it’s almost definitely not worth going into debt to buy it.

The end of tolerance

At last, the beginning of the end arrives:

Two weeks ago, the country’s biggest left-wing political grouping, the Labor Party, which has responsibility for integration as a member of the coalition government led by the Christian Democrats, issued a position paper calling for the end of the failed model of Dutch “tolerance.” It came at the same time Nicolas Sarkozy was making a case in France for greater opportunities for minorities that also contained an admission that the French notion of equality “doesn’t work anymore.”

Equality has always been a fraud and the cultural tolerance model based on it is little more than assisted societal suicide. I have several Dutch friends and none of them have much sympathy for the once-famed Dutch tolerance anymore. It’s well past time for Europeans to reject the multicultural charade that began with the short-sighted importation of the “temporary” Turkish Gastarbeitern, because the sooner it is ended and the percentage of the non-national populations is reduced, the less bloodshed there will be in the long run.As I’ve mentioned before, the high tide of secular eutopian ideals has been reached and the pendulum is now swinging back, fortunately before those ideals managed to completely enervate the West. I’m optimistic that the European Union will begin to see secessions in the next ten years, most likely starting with Italy and Britain. However, it’s been Germany that’s been most resistant on the economic front of late, so if they were to pull out, the entire house of cards would tumble almost immediately.

Oh, Sweet Francis

This report of the Vikings’ clock management does exactly not bode well for the Eagles game:

With 36 seconds remaining and the ball on the Giants 30, Adrian Peterson, who would win the NFL rushing title, took a handoff and unadvisedly tried to veer to the outside, losing 2 yards. Time passed. And passed. And passed. That play ended with 29 seconds remaining. The Vikings held one timeout. Childress seemed to freeze as special teams coach Paul Ferraro and running backs coach Eric Bienemy gestured angrily at one another, and defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier put his hand on Childress’ back, as if to urge him to action. Jackson gazed at the sideline for the next play, and Childress finally called his last timeout with nine seconds remaining, erasing any realistic chance of running a productive play.

Thank goodness they’re facing Andy Reid, who may actually be a worse game coach than Childress. While Childress very nearly bungled the end of the drive, it must be noted that he did the right thing in burning up the final 3:17 in order to deny the Giants the ball. Still, it makes one long for the stoic decisiveness of Bud Grant.

Thoughts on the regular season

1. 0-16! It couldn’t happen to a better team. I love the Green Bay rivalry and I have a hate-respect attitude towards Chicago, but I have always despised the Lions. (Although I will absolutely defend their right to play on Thanksgiving Day.) My idea is that as a remembrance of their historic achievement, they should be forced to wear the snappy orange-and-cream colors of the classic Buccaneers creamsicle uniforms until they manage to win the NFC North. Which should be sometime around 2034 or so.

2. Still don’t like Brad Childress, but he did get them to the playoffs in his third year. But I would really like someone to explain to him that there is no degree of difficulty bonus in winning your division without an actual NFL quarterback. One thing that is seldom noted is that the Vikings defense continues to improve despite the fact that they’ve had three different defensive coordinators in three years. Childress should receive credit for this.

3. The bad news about the first-round game against the Eagles: Childress is a horrible game coach with no clock management skills. The good news: So is Andy Reid. The student clearly learned from the master.

4. Given the NFL’s willingness to modify its rules to protect its stars, can we expect there to be a handle on the next year’s ball for Adrian Peterson’s sake? You have to love the way he runs and the way he competes, but both his pass blocking and his fumbling are problems that need to be addressed. He badly whiffed on the sort of blitz pickup that Chester Taylor never misses. That’s the real reason he comes out on third down; he ‘s fine catching the ball out of the backfield.

5. The Tarvaris Jackson Experiment is really doing much, much better, but you can only go so far with the rote, pass-by-numbers approach. Watching him play reminds me of someone playing Maddens. That play-action roll-out and pass to the tight end running a square-out on the crucial third-and-short in the fourth quarter is one of my go-to audibles. Fortunately, AD draws the Sam linebacker more reliably than my Maddens RB. However, I’m still furious that the Vikings didn’t go after Drew Brees. Or Chad Pennington. Here’s hoping they have the sense to pursue Matt Cassell.

6. The Galacticos concept isn’t working any better for Dallas than it did for Real Madrid. Team sport, guys. TEAM sport.

7. I know New York beat Carolina. I’m not sure they can do it twice, though.

8. If I’d known how badly Peyton Manning was hurt early in the season, I wouldn’t have traded him. On the other hand, it’s nice to have Clinton Portis to go with Aaron Rodgers. Who, by the way, is hardly to blame for the fact that the Packers featured an NCAA-quality defense in 2008.

9. So, it turns out that putting a legend in a new jersey for one last hurrah didn’t end well. Wow, who could have ever imagined that! I suspect Brett Favre’s upcoming retirement will stick this time.

10. I am delighted that Antoine Winfield finally made the Pro Bowl. It’s so well-merited! He’s been my favorite Viking for the last three years and I’ve never seen a better defensive play than the one he made against the Packers, slipping between two pulling linemen and single-handedly stopping a screen behind the line. Unless it was the time that he dropped down to all fours, caused the pulling guard to fall over him, then popped up and nailed the ball carrier for no gain.

11. We need Denny Green back in the league. Wouldn’t you love to see him coaching the Raidess next year? Come on, Al! Denny is who you think he is, so go ahead and crown his ass!

12. Speaking of things badly needed, where was Drew Bledsoe and the Tony Homo blog last night. It practically screamed out for this sort of thing: “That was quick. 38 seconds into the second half: Another Romo fumble. If it’s any consolation, our halftime adjustments included Homo fumbling it more often. Coach’s logic was “as long as he’s not throwing it, we’re fine.” The scary thing is that excerpt is from last year, not last night’s game.

13. NFC North Champions. Skol Vikings!

Atheists for Christianity

Since we’re on the subject of atheism today, it’s worth noting that not all atheists are as obtusely blind to the objective and even scientific benefits of religion in general and Christianity in particular as the New Atheists and their mindless acolytes.

Now a confirmed atheist, I’ve become convinced of the enormous contribution that Christian evangelism makes in Africa: sharply distinct from the work of secular NGOs, government projects and international aid efforts. These alone will not do. Education and training alone will not do. In Africa Christianity changes people’s hearts. It brings a spiritual transformation. The rebirth is real. The change is good…. Faith does more than support the missionary; it is also transferred to his flock. This is the effect that matters so immensely, and which I cannot help observing.

Now, the fact that Christianity is of real and tangible material benefit to people does not, of course, prove that its tenets are true. It merely proves they are beneficial. This is not irrelevant, indeed, it is important in proving that the core message of the New Atheism, that society would be better off if its members possessed less religious faith, is demonstrably false. But it is irrelevant regarding the fact or non-fact of God’s existence, much less the truth of Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection.

On a related subject, it is interesting to note the reaction of many atheists to the conversion to Catholic Christianity of a man who was once one of the more notorious atheists active on the Internet. I don’t know the Raving Atheist nor do I have an opinion if his conversion is genuine or some sort of practical joke, but there is certainly a powerful Biblical precedent for this sort of dramatic turn from prosecutor to proselytiser. What escapes those now accusing the Raving Atheist of being mentally unstable is the observation that many of them regularly exhibit the same sort of instability and logical incoherence that was long exhibited by the Raving Atheist. In most cases, it’s very easy to observe that an individual’s atheism is more a symptom of an underlying psychological problem than the result of a long and objective rational inquiry.

It will be interesting if Matthew Paris eventually follows his observations to their rational conclusion. If Christianity is good for Africa, then presumably Europe’s turn away from Christianity is bad for Europe. In which case, Europeans would do well to reject their embrace of irreligion and paganism in favor of a return to their Christian roots.

Perhaps they lacked were-seals

Such a pity that the budding genre of misery lit + Holocaust memoir appears to have been aborted not long after its conception. Obviously, it was missing something vital. If only Misha had lived with werewolves… perhaps sexy urban werewolves prone to snappy dialogue!

On Saturday, Berkley Books canceled Rosenblat’s memoir, “Angel at the Fence.” Rosenblat acknowledged that he and his wife did not meet, as they had said for years, at a sub-camp of Buchenwald, where she allegedly sneaked him apples and bread. The book was supposed to come out in February…. Other Holocaust memoirists have devised greater fantasies. Misha Defonseca, author of “Misha: A Memoire of the Holocaust Years,” pretended she was a Jewish girl who lived with wolves during the war, when she was actually a non-Jew who lived, without wolves, in Belgium.

Now, if you don’t buy into a fake Holocaust memoir, does that still make you a Holocaust denier?

Win and you’re in

It’s that kind of week for a lot of teams, thanks to the NFL’s refusal to throw away divisions and simply take the top twelve teams. I don’t have a lot of confidence in either the Vikings ability to beat the Giants and it’s probably not wise to count on the Texans finishing off the Bears either. Fortunately, the Giants passing game appears to have disappeared with Plaxico Burress and the Vikings are one team that can hope to shut down the Giants’ three-headed running beast, which if I recall correctly is down to two heads already. So, the possibility of victory exists if Tarvaris and AD can stop turning the ball over.

On the other hand, no one thought that the Vikes would be playing for anything this late in the season anyhow, so we have that going for us today.

At the Black Gate IV

I’ve mentioned my experience in being mentored, but I don’t think I’ve ever even alluded to my past failure at helping other writers before. To be honest, I have absolutely no idea how editors like John and Howard manage to survive the slush pile, based on my thankfully brief experiences as a workshop critiquer and editorial assistant at a publishing house. I mean, for all that I mock the idiot wereseal fiction that is so mystifyingly popular now, it’s far from the worst fiction that’s being legally committed in public today.

Zimbabwe solves the population problem

There’s no reason anyone in the West, least of all those of European descent, should lift a finger to interfere with Zimbabwe’s collective suicide by agricultural incompetence. Indeed, left-liberals should applaud the African nation’s proactive approach to addressing the global population problem.

Since 2000, when Mr. Mugabe began encouraging the violent invasion of the country’s large, white-owned commercial farms — once the country’s largest employers — food production has collapsed, hunger has afflicted millions and the economy has never recovered.

As PJ O’Rourke once pointed out in Holidays in Hell, no mass starvation in the 20th century occurred as a result of natural causes such as drought. It was inevitably the result of government interference. The President of the Zimbabwean Senate, Edna Madzongwe, said: “Government takes what it wants.” But what she neglected to mention, let alone realize, is that government can only take; it is inherently unproductive.