Monday, 29 August 2011

Monday quote

Paul mentions that we are the Temple of the Holy Spirit. That phrase, lifted out of context, has been used to urge Christians to refrain from refined sugar, sedentary lifestyles, and, of course, big stinky cigars. But Paul says specifically he is only talking about sexual sin here. Other sins are outside the body, but fornication is not. This would include chopping a finger off with an axe. Poor stewardship, bad idea, and all that, but it is not a defilement of the Temple. That is accomplished through fornication.

Douglas Wilson. Fidelity.

Sunday, 28 August 2011

American civic liberties quiz

I took the [American] Civic Literacy Exam. 33 questions on a range of issues concerning history, politics and economics.

Most of the questions were reasonable, though a couple may have been disputed based on theory versus fact. Definitions are reasonable, as are historical facts; but observations in line with theory may be disputable. For example,
International trade and specialization most often lead to which of the following?
  • an increase in a nation’s productivity
  • a decrease in a nation’s economic growth in the long term
  • an increase in a nation’s import tariffs
  • a decrease in a nation’s standard of living
While I agree with the answer, and it could be argued that observations have confirmed this, economists of other schools may dispute it.

The average result was 49%, with US college educators (university lecturers) averaging 55%. I managed 88% (29/33) despite its heavy US focus. This seems a little concerning for US education.

My incorrect answers were:
  • What part of the [US] government has the power to declare war?
  • What was the main issue in the debates between Abraham Lincoln and Stephen A. Douglas in 1858?
  • Which of the following fiscal policy combinations has the federal government most often followed to stimulate economic activity when the economy is in a severe recession?
  • If taxes equal government spending, then:
I am not convinced that my answer to the taxes question was incorrect. The question is
If taxes equal government spending, then:
  1. government debt is zero
  2. printing money no longer causes inflation
  3. government is not helping anybody
  4. tax per person equals government spending per person on average
  5. tax loopholes and special-interest spending are absent
I answered 1, zero debt. I was assuming that the government had no debt prior to this. And #1 seems reasonable unless the government has a significant other incomes (such as mines). 2 is incorrect. 3 might happen to be true, but not because of the question. 4 is supposedly correct. 5 is incorrect.

Option 4 doesn't seem to be correct; again if the government has other incomes, but also taxes from companies means that government spending per person may differ from tax per person. I still think (assuming no debt prior) that answer 1 is better, though I am happy to be corrected.

Monday, 22 August 2011

Monday quote

If the anthropological data suggest something short of the ideal, that is not because nothing is universal, but because two universals are in conflict: universal moral knowledge and universal desire to evade it. The first one we owe to our creation. The second we owe to our fall.

J. Budziszewski

Sunday, 21 August 2011

Legitimate textual source questions

I came across a comment that suggested that source criticism is acceptable for Christians when dealing with the gospels but not the Pentateuch. Presumably that means discussing how Luke and Matthew are dependent on Mark is permitted but finding the Elohist and Priestly divisions of Exodus is not? I assumed that this remark was reflecting a cynicism on the limitations, and even hypocrisy, of biblical critique within Christendom (or perhaps evangelicalism).

I can see why such an idea may come from but I believe it is unjustified. Such comments imply that non-Christian criticism is less biased. This is not the case however.

The source question is somewhat apparent in the gospels. They are called the synoptic gospels. It is evident to readers that Matthew, Mark, and Luke are similar in many ways and, while distinct, together they are moderately different from John. Thus a source question arises naturally from the text. As it does with Jude and 2 Peter, or Chronicles and Kings. This type of source question is considered legitimate in both the Old and New Testaments.

The Pentateuch is not comparable to this situation. While there is overlap amongst the books, especially with Deuteronomy; the source debate is not about parallel texts in the Torah, it is about deconstructing the text.

It is not entirely true that source criticism is not "allowed" here. Some conservative scholars think that Moses compiled Genesis largely from extant texts that antedated him. They base this conclusion on the toledoth theory.

So one reason is that source differs between the 2 texts. One looks to the source of similarities between parallel texts, the other looks to the source of a text assumed to be disparate. Another significant reason is that many Christians reject the suppositions of persons who originated the theory. People that were antagonistic to both God and Scripture. This is especially warranted given that several of their assumptions were incorrect: such as the belief writing had not been invented by the time of Moses. Frankly, if their foundations are absent then their edifice is broken and will remain so despite attempts to repair it.

Monday, 15 August 2011

Monday quote

Unions are the evil, stupid, parasitic cousin of government. They possess most of the negative attributes with none of the positive ones.

Vox Day

Sunday, 14 August 2011

Bookstores on the decline

An Australian politician gets in trouble predicting the decline of bookshops.
I think in five years, other than a few specialist booksellers in capital cities we will not see a bookstore, they will cease to exist.
Mr Sherry may have lacked some prudence here? Though earlier this year an Australian bookstore collapsed and blamed online selling.
The owners of Angus & Robertson and Borders in Australia, REDgroup Retail, collapsed in February with A$118 million ($153 million) in debt, blaming online competition as one reason for the failure
And it it is not just the advent of online buying which affects other retail sectors, but electronic formats including both electronic books and online information sources.

Perhaps his advice could have been welcomed.
Senator Sherry made the comments at a launch of the Driving Business Online campaign, a private sector initiative designed to encourage small business owners to boost their online presence.
It is not like his comments will change the behaviour of Australian buyers. But people seem more attuned to perceived insults than facing reality.

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

What some people do in their kitchen

A Swedish man who was arrested after trying to split atoms in his kitchen said he was only doing it as a hobby.

Richard Handl told The Associated Press that he had the radioactive elements radium, americium and uranium in his apartment in southern Sweden when police showed up and arrested him on charges of unauthorized possession of nuclear material.

The 31-year-old Handl said he had tried for months to set up a nuclear reactor at home and kept a blog about his experiments, describing how he created a small meltdown on his stove.

Amusing. Though I remember a story about an American performing fusion in his house.

So he has second thoughts and asks advice from Sweden's Radiation Authority. Couldn't an answer suffice, rather than calling the police?

Monday, 8 August 2011

Monday quote

The boom plants the seeds for its future destruction.

John Papola and Russ Roberts

Sunday, 7 August 2011

Christians ahead of the technology curve

I was aware the Bible played a significant role in the development of the book format—the change from scrolls to spine and pages. But apparently Christians were at the forefront of using the newly invented codex for several centuries.
The codex was invented in the late first century AD. Christians may not have invented it, but they were the first ones to popularize it. For the first five centuries AD, eighty percent of all Christian books were on a codex while only twenty percent of all non-Christian books were written on a codex. For the first time in Christian history, followers of Christ were ahead of the technological curve!
Christians were not just taking advantage of advancing technology for the sake of evangelism, but for their own sake.

Monday, 1 August 2011

Monday quote

Did you know they adjust the data? Sometimes 50 years after it was recorded. That's right, and the 1970s kept warming for the next 30 years.

Joanne Nova

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