SEOUL, South Korea — A North Korean factory chief accused of making international phone calls was executed by a firing squad in a stadium before 150,000 spectators, a South Korean aid group reported. Public executions had declined since 2000 amid international criticism but have been increasing, targeting officials accused of drug trafficking, embezzlement and other crimes, the Good Friends aid agency said in a report on the North's human rights. In October, the North executed the head of a factory in South Pyongan province for making international calls on 13 phones he installed in a factory basement, the aid group said. He was executed by a firing squad in a stadium before a crowd of 150,000. Six people were crushed to death and 34 others injured in an apparent stampede as they left the stadium, the aid group said.
Lovely. Just keep this in mind when you hear people extolling the virtues of communism. (And yes, some people still do.)
That was years ago on Blogger. I used Cite Bite to link it because the old blogger archiving (surprise) doesn't seem to be working very well. I make no claims about the validity of any of the links in this relic, but overall I think the reasoning holds up well.
Update, the Citebite version seems to be having trouble with punctuation. I'll just copy and paste it here. Enjoy.
Wednesday, May 08, 2002
Lileks had an interesting “Bleat” about comic books a few days back. Specifically, Spider-
man and Thor. I mention this because he raises an interesting
question. One that’s important to answer. The reason I think this is
important is NOT because I think his hypothetical question likely, but
because the issue he raises is one that has far reaching implications
for a Christian’s faith. The question he raises is, what if, just like
in the comic books, we suddenly found out that Thor was real?
Specifically, what would that do to people’s faith?
He thinks he knows:
If Thor, God of Thunder, was indeed flying around
Manhattan on a daily basis, what would this do to organized religions?
Here’s a living incarnation of an ancient creed. Flying around. In
broad daylight. Imagine the anguish: we’re all waiting for an
incarnation to appear, and it’s THAT religion? Like, the God of SWEDEN?
I would suggest that this would cause a meltdown in Western society,
especially once Thor’s interviewed on TV.
Later he adds:
Legalisms aside, at some point we’d have to confront
Thor’s manifest divinity:“I’m one of many gods, and we live up there,
in the sky. Our leader is Odin, who’s your typical big fellow with a
white beard. We’re the only gods up there, as far as I know.” People
would come out of church, see Thor flying across the sky (with a
hammer! A stupid HAMMER!) and feel this horrible pang of doubt.
Let’s break this down a bit. Is Lileks right? Would people’s
faith be shattered if we suddenly met Thor (or some other mythical god)
in the flesh? I’m afraid he’s right. Most people’s faith would shatter.
Now why do I think this is important to examine? Because
people’s faith would be shattered for no good reason. Further, people’s
faith is shattered all the time by things no where near as profound as
the appearance of Thor.
Some of you are probably surprised. Do I seriously believe
that the sudden appearance of a god out of myth has no affect on our
faith? Let me be perfectly clear. This event would certainly change our
world view. Among other things, it would blow away one of my arguments
about what makes Christianity so important. (That being that while its
central story may resemble some myths, Christianity points to a place
and time and says the myth became fact at that point in history.) But,
that argument is NOT Christianity, nor is it biblical, or actually
important in the grand scheme of the Christian’s walk with Christ.
I certainly concede that Thor’s appearance would change our
world view. (Not just the Christian’s either. It would be a big shock
to atheists and agnostics as well.) I do contend, though, that whether
or not Thor is real has no bearing on whether or not Christianity is
true. Let’s think about this. The only way the truth of one fact
statement is evidence of the falseness of another is if those two
statements are mutually exclusive. The statements, “Thor is real,” and,
“Yahweh is real,” are NOT mutually exclusive. In fact, even if Lileks’s
hypothetical statement by Thor really happened, “I’m one of many gods,
and we live up there, in the sky. Our leader is Odin, who’s your
typical big fellow with a white beard. We’re the only gods up there, as
far as I know,” it still would not be antithetical to Christianity.
Someone may say, but doesn’t the Bible say there is only one God?
And in fact, it does. Several times. But now its important to
understand what we mean by the word "god." I would suggest that
historically the word has often been used to describe someone with a
great deal more power or ability than you yourself have. This would
explain why, for example, men like Caesar Augustus
could be worshipped as gods. The point of this is that while the same
kind of language was used by pagans to describe beings they believed to
be greater than themselves as we use to describe the one Being greater
than all does not mean that the words mean the same things in these
The Bible's description of Yahweh is of a one of a kind
Being. If Thor existed for real, the fact that some people have
considered him to be a god would not disprove Christianity. My faith is
not based on word games. My faith is based on having found the New
Testament account to be a reliable source of information and moving on
to see that it describes Jesus being raised from the dead. The rest of
my faith is built on that cornerstone. The existence of Thor or any
other mythical character being proved to be real would not contradict
the evidence of the resurrection. (As mentioned above, great men have
often been worshipped as gods. The existence of Alexander or Augustus
does not shake our faith. The only difference I see is that Thor would
have more intrinsic power and actually be among us. His power would not
be as great as that claimed for Yahweh, so that should have no effect.
His being here in the flesh doesn't put him at a rational advantage of
Augustus because very few people doubt Augustus's existence.) Nor
should we be disturbed by Thor's statement that there was nobody else
up there in the sky with him. (While we talk about Heaven being above,
we know that to be a metaphor to describe that which we cannot
I can see no reason why the existence of Thor would have
more effect on men's faith then the existence of Superman. But I don't
think anyone would seriously argue that the existence of Superman would
disprove the existence of God. (Nor would be likely to change our minds
if we found out some primitive tribe called Superman a god.) I do think
that many people would lose their Christian faith, however, if Thor
were found to be real. I think that the reason why boils down to two
things. The first is that many people don't really know what the Bible
teaches and would simply assume, without thinking too much at all, that
the Bible had been contradicted.
The second is dangerous to the serious believer. All of us
sometimes waiver in our faith for no good reason. I don't think many
people are rationally argued out of Christianity. For the most part,
faith seems to be lost for emotional reasons that have nothing to do
with the actual evidence. That is why faith is considered to be a
virtue. It is often easier to stand up to intellectual criticism, which
we can respond to rationally, then it is to deal with emotional shocks
which rattle us and cause our capacity for rational thought to abandon
It is certainly true that things will come along which will
force us to back up and reexamine the evidence. When new information
comes to light, that is exactly what we should do. But if the new
information doesn’t shed any actual light on the situation, rationally,
our beliefs should not change. That’s really what faith is. Keeping on
believing when you’ve gotten a nasty shock, but nothing has really
changed to alter the basic facts of your beliefs.
As bizarre as it would be, suddenly seeing Thor in the
flesh would be just such a shock. But if it happened as Lileks
described, it wouldn’t be something that could shake the faith of those
who understand the reasons for their faith. And if a jolt like that can’t knock us down, the everyday stuff should be easy.
P.S. to comic book fans. As far as I know, Lileks complaint
that this issue was never discussed in relation to Thor is correct.
However, changing comic book company's D.C. did briefly address this
issue in Justice League of America #183 where the Earth 2 Wonderwoman
declares that she believes in no gods besides the gods of Mount Olympus
and "the only true 'God' whose nature remains unknown." Granted, that
neat little sidestep probably wouldn't satisfy Lileks anyway. posted by jeffrey at 11:13 PM
(WebMD) Wearing a pedometer and having a daily step goal can boost your activity level, according to a new analysis of research. "Our major result is pedometer users increased their physical activity," says Dena Bravata, MD, senior research scientist at Stanford University School of Medicine and a doctor in private practice in San Francisco. With her colleagues, she analyzed 26 published studies on the devices and the effect they have on increasing daily physical activity.
When I was first diagnosed as diabetic, my doctor told me he wanted me to take at least 10,000 steps a day to boost metabolism and get the weight down. I went out and bought a pedometer. After a few days it fell off who-knows-where and was gone. My wife bought me another. A few days later, it was gone too.
They were actually fine when I was up and being active. But almost inevitably it would fall off when I'd sit down. It was only a matter of time before they were lost. My mother-in-law was there when I realized I'd lost the second one. She offered to get me another, but I decided that two was enough.
Sarah, consider yourself warned. I'm about to talk taxes. On the other hand, I'll also be talking Fred Thompson so roll the dice and make your choice. :)
However, I'm not sure what to make of his tax plan yet. The idea of an optional pseudo-flat tax system (it's being called a flat tax, but my understanding is that there are actually two rates plus a capital gains rate) with very few deductions is interesting. However, unless this is a one time election, it won't make the tax system any less complicated.
If people have the option of using the simplified system every year, then it is in their best interest to calculate their tax under the regular method and the simplified system every year and pick which ever one comes out lower. If you go to a tax preparer, they'll do it for you. (Our software system is very capable of running this type of optimization.) A lot of the do-it yourself packages will be able to do the comparison too. However, you'd still have to know enough about the regular system to get all the information together. Otherwise, you'll always be wondering if you could have paid less under the other system.
Thompson proposes eliminating the Alternative Minimum Tax. I like this idea. The AMT is cumbersome and catches people unawares. It also tends to catch people who were never intended to have to pay the tax. (This was originally a tax aimed at insuring that the "rich" couldn't take so many credits and deductions that they'd pay no tax. Now it's hitting the middle class.) But one of the problems with the AMT is that it requires taxpayers to calculate their tax twice under two different systems.
If the opt-in system isn't a one-shot deal, then you're still left with having to compute your tax liability twice. On the other hand, if it is a one-time shot, people are going to pay a lot of money to accountants to try to guess which way is best for them over their WHOLE LIVES.
Overall the idea is interesting, but I'd have to see a lot more information to be sure I liked it. If I see more and think of it, I'll let you know what I think.
USA has posted a candidate match game. It's better than some others I've seen because it allows you to weight the issues according to your priorities. Regardless of how I weight it, it keeps kicking up Romney, Thompson, and Duncan Hunter. No matter how I weight the issues though, it kicks up Romney ahead of Thompson. Since I know, for a fact, that I far prefer Thompson to Romney, I find that curious.
Now that cigarettes have been banned in British pubs, apparently some people are finding that there are other scents hanging around they'd rather not know about. The solution?
For those Britons who drink in pubs but miss the atmosphere as it was before smoking bans (for example, who may be disoriented by “new” smells that are no longer masked by cigarette smoke), the company Dale Air has introduced, in aerosol cans, a fragrance that it says mimics the musty, ashtray-based scent so familiar to veteran pub-goers.
The president noted that “the very fact that Sen. Clinton is now debating with rookie Sen. Barack Obama over who has more experience serving in an executive position, which neither senator has ever done, further demonstrates that among Democrats she’s seasoned, prime beef. As my friends in the ranching business say, ‘It’s what’s for dinner’.”
I had planned to do a post today comparing the rash of stories of environmentalists getting sterilized to the Shakers. However, someone beat me to it. (Via InstaPundit.)
Of course, the Shakers eschewed sex for reasons of religious purity. These new environmentalist want to keep having sex, they just don't want to further populate the planet with us evil humans. While the Shakers weren't motivated by self-loathing, it wouldn't bother me if these radical environmentalists end up going the way of the Shakers. Certainly they won't be perpetuating their beliefs the old-fashioned way.
A reserve officer in the Israeli army has been charged with offering to supply classified information to Iran, Russia and the Palestinian group Hamas. David Shamir, a psychiatrist, is accused of offering information on command centres and civilian evacuation plans in exchange for payment.
According to the story, not only was he apparently rather schizophrenic in his choices regarding who to spy for, he wasn't recruited by any of them. Instead, he apparently just started sending e-mails and faxes to foreign governments offering to sell them information. Not exactly Bond level stuff, is it?
SANTIAGO (AFP) - A cruise ship said to be dogged by maintenance woes slammed into an iceberg off Antarctica Friday, and other ships rushed to rescue more than 150 people, all of whom were doing well, officials said. ADVERTISEMENT "They are in good condition. There is no hypothermia, they all have food and clothes. Everything is OK," the captain of the Norwegian ship that carried out the rescue operation, Arnvid Hansen, told AFP by phone.
My father-in-law retired last January. They've been travelling a lot and have a Antarctic cruise planned. I hope they have a better ship.
John Hawkins celebrates thanksgiving by highlighting some of his older work. One of these is his Confessions of an Isolationist Wannabe. It's still spot on, other than the reference to Russia ass friend; by now it's pretty obvious that that was a transitory thing.
A week ago, Latasha Norman disappeared from the campus of Jackson State University. Have you heard a word about it? There's a much better chance you've heard about the disappearance of Stacy Peterson in Chicago.
Why the difference?
The chief of the Jackson police believes it's because Latasha Norman is black. He's probably not far off base, at least on ONE reason. I've heard enough people mention it to know I'm not alone in the realization that almost all missing children who receive media attention are white and blonde. Why would we expect any different regarding missing adults.
While the potential drama involved of Drew Peterson being a serial killer has a definite chance of making this story bigger with the press, I think there's no doubt that missing minorities get less press coverage, at least on the national level.
A judge has ruled the state must turn over e-mails to a man who wants to see messages sent between his wife and a male co-worker at a state office.
Franklin County Circuit Judge Phillip J. Shepherd granted Stephen Malmer's open-records request Monday after the state Attorney General's Office said the Justice and Public Safety Cabinet had violated the law by refusing to the release the e-mails.
Basically, the judge seems to be saying that these e-mails were sent using government resources on government time. That they were personal in nature doesn't matter. They're subject to KY's public disclosure law.
I'm not entirely sure I agree with this, but it's not surprising. I can't turn up the story right now, but I seem to remember hearing that President Bush was going to have to give up his habit of regularly corresponding with several friends via e-mail after assuming losses because they would all be public record.
Are we prying to much into the lives of government employees.
Stephen Green argues that the Administration's failure to manage the press around "the surge" has made it more difficult to sustain our advances in Iraq.
Did you really expect anything different? Bush couldn't manage a media campaign for an uncontested city council seat, much less a multigenerational war against an international cabal of self-detonating religious zealots.
With very little exception Joe's post amounts to attempting to show that Romney is worse on the same issues than Huckabee is. Apparently he believes if NRo won't speak out against Romney, who they support (although I'm not sure that support is as strong as Joe makes out), than they shouldn't criticize Huckabee either.
While Joe may be right abort Romney, he utterly fails in an attempt to defend his man. I like and respect Joe, so I found this all rather disappointing.
Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee rejects letting states decide whether to allow abortions, claiming the right to life is a moral issue not subject to multiple interpretations.
"If morality is the point here, and if it's right or wrong, not just a political question, then you can't have 50 different versions of what's right and what's wrong." he said on Fox News Sunday.
The problem with this convoluted thinking is that it proves too much. If you accept his reasoning, that anything that is morally wrong is automatically a federal issue, then you must also believe that murder, rape, kidnapping, assault, armed robbery, and, indeed, most felonies should also be federal crimes. But their not. Yes, if you kill a federal official or law enforcement officer you've violated federal law and yes, robbing a bank is a federal crime but that easily falls under the commerce clause.
The problem with saying that abortion should be a federal issue is that I simply don't see how you can justify that position on the federal level. I once had an online discussion about this issue with Joshua Claybourne which I can't seem to turn up just now. My recollection is that Josh believed you could justify an abortion ban at the federal level under the equal protection clause of the 14th amendment. It seems his argument was that if the states failed to protect their unborn, that under the 14th, the feds could do it.
The liberal objection is that the 14th only protects "persons" and the unborn don't count. I've seen a case that actually ruled in favor of the liberal position. I, of course, believe that this was wrongly decided.
However, I'm not at all certain I buy the idea that the 14th amendment gives Congress the right to pass a law just because it believes the states should have and failed to. I'm not aware of any other argument for federalizing this issue that actually looks at the text of the Constitution. Most of them are basically like Huckabee's :Abortion is wrong so the federal government should ban it.
I know Fred Thompson has been attacked on this issue. Some people say that if he refuses to endorse either a federal law against abortion or insist that all the states pass abortion bans, then he isn't really pro-life. My view is that he says Roe was wrongly decided and that this issue is for the states to decide. The fact that he hasn't explicitly stated what decision he thinks the states should make makes perfect sense as he isn't running for governor of all 50 states, or even one of them.
Oh please. Responding to Kos's assertion that Karl Rove was a good choice to offset Kos at Newsweek because Rove was a "movement" conservative, Sam at Save The GOP comes back with this:
Now real conservatives know that George Bush is not one of them and Karl Rove played Natasha to his Boris. Sure Rove deserves credit for pulling off some miracles in 2004, getting Bush reelected and orchestrating the southern sweep of the Senate by Republicans, but a movement conservative? Please.
Where was Karl Rove advising Bush when he was signing away at earmark after earmark? Where was Karl advising against the biggest expansion of government in American history, in the form of Medicare Part D, No Child Left Behind, and Campaign Finance Reform? Sure, Rove was sleek. He was able to get social conservatives to the polls with marriage protection amendments, but where was his fiscal brilliancy, the lack of which lead to the Congressional cleansing we witnessed a year ago?
The idea that Rove is part of the conservative movement is patently absurd. Rove is a Republican strategist, but I have yet to see him do anything that indicated he had any allegiance to the conservative movement. His actions have always been those that were politically expedient. If he thought conservative principles would work for him, he'd use them. If they got in the way of his goals, he chucked them.
The American military has developed a new heat wave gun. This is part of their ongoing push towards developing a generation of non-lethal weapons. So why aren't we using it? It's not for tactical reasons:
Washington fears a barrage of adverse publicity in the suspicious Muslim world and is concerned that critics will claim the invisible beam weapons were being used for torture.
Now the US military directorate charged with developing non-lethal weapons, which has invested more than a decade developing the Active Denial System (ADS), has launched a concerted effort to convince both the public and its own bosses at the defence department of the device's merits.
"With brand new technology like this, perception is everything," said Col Kirk Hymes, a former Marine artillery officer who heads the directorate.
Can't you just imagine Truman refusing to use the A-bomb out of fears of Japanese conspiracy theories? (Now don't get me wrong, the Muslim world is, unfortunately, filled with such conspiracy theories. Just read this article by Daniel Pipes for an example.)
That being said, what kind of twilight zone are we in? Will our military really eschew the use of weapons that will both protect our military while making sure that they don't have to cause unnecessary deaths to do so because we're afraid of a conspiracy theory?
Out of the top tier candidates, without question, my favorite is Fred Thompson. In fact, after Fred, from my point of view, it's practically pick your poison -- strychnine, arsenic, belladonna, or ricin.
Two Americans who deserted the U.S. Army to protest against the war in Iraq lost their bid for refugee status in Canada on Thursday, and the Canadian government made it clear they were no longer welcome. The Supreme Court of Canada declined to hear appeals from the two men, Jeremy Hinzman and Brandon Hughey, over decisions by immigration authorities -- backed in two subsequent court rulings -- that they were not refugees in need of protection. Opposing the war on the belief that it was illegal and immoral, the two deserted when they learned their units would be deployed to Iraq, and came to Canada.
But, too bad, so sad, they can't stay. How's Leavenworth sound?
Nevertheless, we may be witnessing one of those radical, unforeseen reversals in America’s wars that have often changed our history. The White House was burned by British forces in late August 1814; a little more than four months later, the British were routed at New Orleans. During the Civil War, the Union army was on the ropes in July 1864 yet outside Atlanta by September. The Germans were driving through France in March 1918, but fleeing toward the Rhine by August. The communists took Seoul in early January 1951, yet were pushed back across the Demilitarized Zone a little more than three months later. Of course, we don’t know the final outcome in Iraq, given the remaining problems of Shiite militias and diehard al-Qaidists — and the question of our own remaining resolve. The U.S. Army and Marine Corps may well soon stabilize the Iraqi democracy once deemed lost. Or perhaps, in the manner of Vietnam between 1973-5, the public may have become so tired of Iraq — despite the improvement — that it simply wants it out of sight and out of mind.
Liberals love to compare Iraq to Vietnam. Have they learned the most important lesson of that war: Don't give up?
The editors of National review have weighed in on Fred Thompson. In general, they praise him for laying out detailed proposals on many issues that both show that he understands the problem and that cling to conservative principles. I do have one quibble though. Towards the end, they say:
The big news concerning Thompson this week, of course, has been the National Right to Life Committee’s endorsement of his candidacy. Ironically, this is one area of policy where Thompson has not expressed his views clearly. He has stated that he thinks Roe v. Wade was wrongly decided, but he hasn’t taken a position on what he thinks the states should do about abortion if and when Roe is overturned.
Without taking the time to search the web, my understanding is that Fred Thompson has spoken very clearly on many issues indicating that he believes that things that are state issues are NO BUSINESS of the federal government. My recollection is that he has previously stated that he believes abortion law falls in that category. (A stance I would tend to agree with. However, I do believe it should be a Federal crime to take a minor across state lines to help them circumvent their own state's parental consent statutes.)
Given that Thompson believes (and has stated) that if we were able to get rid of Roe, this would become a state issue, why would he then weigh in on what he believes states should do? In his view, if he were President, this would be outside his purview; why should he opine on it while running for President?
Methinks I detect some fair-weather Federalism from our dear editors.
Amid the emotions surrounding the writers strike has been vitriol from some scribes toward any news outlet failing to echo their position — a “blame the messenger” attitude vented at coverage by Variety, among others.
In this way, strike rhetoric is oddly mirroring modern politics, where partisans now filter straight-ahead reporting through an “us vs. them” prism, seeking out accounts that buttress their views while shunning those that might challenge them.
This represents a relatively recent dynamic, fueled by the Rush Limbaugh era of talkradio [sic], cable news and the Internet, which barely existed during the last strike in 1988. (Emphasis added)
So let me get this straight. We have a trade reporter complaining that the writers are being nasty to them when they report things the writers don't like. The reporter goes on to conclude that they must be taking their cues from political activists who are mean to them when they report things the activists don't like. This is, apparently, because of talk radio. (And we all know who invented talk radio.) Therefore, the ugly tone of the writer's strike has effectively been laid at Rush Limbaugh's feet. (Hannity and Colmes catch shrapnel as well.
Fred Thompson's speech at the Citadel was apparently quite impressive. He seems to genuinely understand that this is a much bigger fight than George Bush ever prepared for. However, unlike many people he doesn't conclude that the size of the fight means it shouldn't be fought.