Saturday, April 22, 2006

It looks like a new Star Trek movie is planned. Scheduled release is 2008. I'm very pleased by this news. Yahoo News has the details.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Occasionally sanity prevails. Six years ago Amaani Lyle, 32, alleged that raw sexual remarks during work sessions and conversations in the writer's meetings for the TV show Friends amounted to sexual harrasment and sued the writers and producers. She had been hired to transcribe the writer's meetings, when the writers came up with ideas and dialogue for the weekly scripts. She was fired after only four months for not being able to transcribe quickly enough or to capture the flavors of the meetings.

The California Supreme Court ruled against Lyle's lawsuit. It decided today, 7 to 0, that trash talk was part of the creative process and, therefore, the studio and its writers could not be sued for raunchy writers' meetings.

Justice Marvin Baxtor wrote that no jury would believe the writers' assistant was the target of harassment during profanity-laced script sessions "for an adult-oriented comic show featuring sexual themes." After all, she'd been warned when she was hired what the writer's meetings where they hashed out their scripts were like. And one would think that she had likely watched an episode or two of the show, so she should have known just from that, anyhow.

A ruling in favor of the former assistant Lyle would have made it virtually impossible to produce TV programs or other creative works. How could you work creatively if you had to worry that anything you said might get you sued? Censoring the creative process is simply not a good idea, and that, in essense, is what Lyle was going for. Creativity must be unfettered during the process of creation. Otherwise, it tends not to happen at all.

I'm really glad she lost her case.

Of course, the whole "PC" thing is generally just a way for censorers to try to justify being prigs. There seem to be a whole flock of people on both the left and right who just can't abide the thought of letting people say and do what they want. They must force people to not say words they find offensive, not to express ideas they disagree with, not to think thoughts they find offensive, and not to eat or drink or otherwise injest products that they have decided are bad for them. Teaching people to be polite is usually a good thing. But legislating it? Sueing people over it? Banning stuff? That's insane. And oppressive. Fascists always think they have everyone's best interests in mind.

CNN has a full report.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

A suicide bomber, a terrorist, detonated himself in front of a Falafel fast food restaurant in Tel Aviv on Monday. At least nine people died and more than fifty were wounded, some critically.

Hamas, the current government of the Palestinian territories, is not interested in peace. They praised the bombing and promised more to come. Not that the previous government under Fatah was particularly interested in peace either. The destruction of Israel and the murder of Jews has been and remains their aim. When they speak of "liberating Palestine" from "oppression" they are not speaking of just Gaza and the West Bank. They mean Israel as a whole, from Haifa to Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

And yet somehow Israel is the one that so many people want to demonize. Why are those who fight terrorists criticized so frequently, while those who kill indiscrimitately are so often portrayed as victims? Why is it so hard for so many to figure out that those who bomb busses, discos, and restaurants are the bad guys? Why is it so hard to recognize that the reason the terrorists and the jihadists do what they do is not because of legitimate gripes, some sin on the part of the West, but simply because they hate those who are not Moslem? Instead of reading the pundits and apologists for the terrorists, maybe people should actually listen to what the bad guys are saying themselves and believe them.

I found this description of the bombs used in suicide bombings of interest. An exerpt from Meryl Yourish:

Primary blast injury is caused by the rapid outward spread of the shock wave. Injury to gas-containing organs, such as perforation of the middle ear and blast lung injury (BLI) are most common (22.1% and 18.2% of victims, respectively). Of all patients with BLI, 82% of victims aboard buses and in semiconfined spaces will suffer from moderate and severe forms of BLI compared with 33% of victims in open spaces. S econdary blast injury is caused by penetrating missiles that are propelled by the blast wave. More than 85% of victims of suicide bombing attacks (SBA) suffer from penetrating shrapnel and debris, most commonly to the head. Tertiary blast injury results from a patient’s body being displaced by expanding gases. Burns are termed quaternary blast injury and are also notably more common after explosions inside confined spaces compared with open spaces (33.9% versus 5% of victims, respectively). The hallmark of injuries after an SBA is the combination of blunt injury, multiple penetrating injuries with extensive soft tissue damage, and burns. Half of all patients hospitalized will be seen in a trauma unit setting and the same proportion will be admitted to an intensive care unit. Victims of SBAs are more severely injured compared with other trauma victims. Typical injuries include penetrating injury to the head (55%), extremities (49%), and torso (40%), burns (27%), open fractures (22%), and BLI (18%).

Here is an article I have referenced before, which contains X-Rays of the victims of palestinian terrorist bombs.

Messing said one of the victims he saw while in Jerusalem had around 300 individual metallic fragments within his body. The metal fragments, measuring from millimeters to centimeters, were imbedded in the young man literally from head to toe, he said.

“Several of the fragments penetrated into his vital organs. He sustained a punctured colon, a collapsed lung, and a lacerated liver and kidney. I could actually feel the nails under his skin where they had burrowed and lodged,” Messing recalls.

Shrapnel is what killed Phillip Balhasan, who stayed alive long enough to realize his children had survived, and to hug them tightly before he collapsed.

But even this is not enough for the terrorists. They also soak the shrapnel in rat poison, because it causes hemorrhaging — victims may bleed to death before they can get to the hospital.

Remember all of this, when you hear the world tell Israel to “use restraint” in responding to this attack. Remember all of this, when you read about the innocent metal shop owners who insist their shops were only making nails and screws for construction purposes.

Remember all of this, when Israel is the nation that is demonized by the blind, hateful people who wear checked kaffiyehs at anti-war protests, and call Israel an “apartheid state” for building a separation barrier — to keep out the monsters who would use bombs like I have just described.

Remember this, when you look at the pictures of the results of the bombing, and notice the thousands of dents in the metal surrounding the bombing area — the mark of the ball-bearings and other metal shrapnel.

These are the people with whom the world sympathizes: Those who create and set off the bombs. Not the victims. The bombers.

And that’s the worst evil of all.

For the whole thing, read Meryl Yourish. I have not done extensive research yet to fact check everything, but it matches information I have read elsewhere.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Tonight, April 12, 2006, is Yuri’s Night, a celebration of Yuri Gargaran’s launch in 1961 to become the first human being in orbit; it is also the 25th anniversary of the first launch of the Space Shuttle, back in 1981.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

An article in the Los Angeles Times today tells the story of, a ministry outreach to those caught up by pornography. They wanted to have some Bibles printed up that had this on the cover: "Jesus Loves Porn Stars". The Bible publisher wouldn't go along. According to the article, "The publisher said that while it applauded the outreach to those who make a living off pornography, 'the wording is misleading and inappropriate for a New Testament,' according to a letter the pastors received from Barbara Bernstengel, the executive in charge of standards at the nonprofit Bible publishing company."

"Misleading and inappropriate?"


The Bible publisher would doubtless have no trouble with this phrase: "Jesus loves sinners." But they, like many Christians, seem to lose their minds if you insert a specific sort of sinner is loved in place of the generic word: "Jesus loves rapists" or "Jesus loves murderers" or "Jesus loves self-righteous pricks" doesn't seem as reasonable somehow. Why is that? Because the radical nature of what Jesus did for us isn't reasonable. Paul wrote:

You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God's wrath through him! For if, when we were God's enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! (Romans 5:7-10)

Jesus loved us and gave his life for us when we were his enemies. He died for all the people that give us the creeps. He died for those of us who give others the creeps. We can do nothing to contribute to our salvation. But he loves us anyhow.

It is amazing the number of Christians, even publishers of Bibles, who apparently don't really believe the gospel message or understand just how uncomfortably radical it really is.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

The Los Angeles Times had a negative review of Michael Baigent's silly book, The Jesus Papers. Good for them. As I read the review, I was reminded of something odd that I've noticed among certain people when they discuss the Gnostic materials. The reviewer noted that Michael Baigent "laments that vibrant texts like the Gnostic gospels were buried in the desert to protect them."

Vibrant? It tires me when people say such nonsense, or wonder why Christianity didn't embrace something like the "Gospel of Thomas." Well, here's a quote from the text; it is a good example (out of many reasons) of why Christians rejected the "Gospel of Thomas":

(114) Simon Peter said to him, "Let Mary leave us, for women are not worthy of life."

Jesus said, "I myself shall lead her in order to make her male, so that she too may become a living spirit resembling you males. For every woman who will make herself male will enter the kingdom of heaven."

If you want to find misogyny, just look in that "vibrant" Gnositc literature. It's the sort of thing that many Muslim fundamentalists might like, I suppose, but why anyone else would I simply don't know. And incidentally, it's not hard to find Gnostic literature. You can find nice translations in most libraries and bookstores, and just about every Christian seminary on the planet.

Baigent wrote another book a few years ago that Dan Brown used while researching his novel, The DaVinci Code, a fine mystery novel, but really backwards in its theology. It's not early Christians who would have been bothered by the idea of Jesus being married (after all, Christian doctrine argues for his humanity as much as his divinity. If he was married and had kids, that would serve as an even stronger demonstration of his humanity.) It's the Gnostics that would have been appalled. Maybe Dan Brown can fix that in the next edition.