Archived Posts February 2007 » Page 5 of 6 | Acton PowerBlog

So yeah, I’m a global warming skeptic. Why? Well, this sort of thing:

…and when you exhale, you’ll see the steam.

Maybe for the same reason we believed, 30 years ago, that global cooling was the biggest threat: a matter of faith. “It is a cold fact: the Global Cooling presents humankind with the most important social, political, and adaptive challenge we have had to deal with for ten thousand years. Your stake in the decisions we make concerning it is of ultimate importance; the survival of ourselves, our children, our species,” wrote Lowell Ponte in 1976.

I was as opposed to the threats of impending doom global cooling engendered as I am to the threats made about Global Warming. Let me stress I am not denying the phenomenon has occurred. The world has warmed since 1680, the nadir of a cool period called the Little Ice Age (LIA) that has generally continued to the present. These climate changes are well within natural variability and explained quite easily by changes in the sun. But there is nothing unusual going on.

Since I obtained my doctorate in climatology from the University of London, Queen Mary College, England my career has spanned two climate cycles. Temperatures declined from 1940 to 1980 and in the early 1970′s global cooling became the consensus. This proves that consensus is not a scientific fact. By the 1990′s temperatures appeared to have reversed and Global Warming became the consensus. It appears I’ll witness another cycle before retiring, as the major mechanisms and the global temperature trends now indicate a cooling.

Imagine that. Global warming caused by… the sun?!? Can humanity survive this dreadful Solar Menace? Stay tuned!

A favorable review of Will Smith’s The Pursuit of Happyness in Liberty: “The Importance of ‘Happyness’.”

And just in case you thought that libertarians have no appreciation for social bonds whatsoever, here’s the conclusion of the piece: “Underlying this free-market philosophy, however, is a film that is unabashedly moving, demonstrating that true happiness does not lie in the accumulation of property alone, but in having someone to share the joy of good fortune. Without someone to tell, someone to care, good fortune is just a pile of paper.”

Check out my review of the movie here.

Speaking of the ubiquity of pornography in our culture, last week ABC News’ Nightline highlighted the work of XXXChurch, a ministry aimed at evangelizing porn stars and pornographers, as well as addressing the spiritual problems associated with consuming pornography. Check out the story, “The Porn Pastors: XXXChurch.com.”

JR Mahon of the ministry says in the piece, “Our biggest critics are Christians.” Sadly this comes as no surprise. When XXXChurch came up with the idea of a New Testament with a cover emblazoned, “Jesus Loves Porn Stars,” resistance from the evangelical community was quick and strong. The American Bible Society refused to publish it.

Al Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, said at the time that “I think these guys have crossed a line that I would not cross and I would not commit.”

“I just have to wonder what people think when they see that cover,” Mohler said. “In other words, are they expecting the Bible or are they expecting something else?”

Similar furor has erupted over an Australian Baptist church’s display of a sign that read, “Jesus Loves Osama.” Melinda at the Stand to Reason Blog calls such mottoes “bumper sticker Christianity” that is “just so unhelpful.”

The defense in both cases is that the verbiage is that it is simply an attempt to communicate the gospel message in a challenging and thought-provoking way; that we are called to evangelize everyone in the Great Commission and that we are to love our enemies.

There are two errors that are often committed in these areas. The conservative error is to reject both the sinner and the sin in the interests of purity and holiness. The liberal error is to minimize or even celebrate the evil of the sin as good in the interests of acceptance, tolerance, and “love.”

Augustine helps us to avoid both errors. If we are at pains to legislate against certain types of behavior but are not undertaking evangelistic efforts to convert those who need it most, we engage in Pharisaic legalism. If we do nothing to rebuke sin, we engage in licentious antinomianism.

Here are some thoughts from Augustine, that could arguably be pretty well summarized in the bumper sticker slogan, “Love the sinner, hate the sin” (clearly in light of the second quote the word “sinner” would need to be properly parsed):

“That is, he should not hate the man because of the fault, nor should he love the fault because of the man; rather, he should hate the fault but love the man. And when the fault has been healed there will remain only what he ought to love, and nothing that he ought to hate” (City of God, 14.6).

“No sinner, precisely as sinner, is to be loved; and every human being, precisely as human, is to be loved on God’s account, God though on his own. And if God is to be loved more than any human being, we all ought to love God more than ourselves” (De Doctrina Christiana, 1.27.28).

Following up on my musings about the potential for the PlayStation 3 to position itself as the “family friendly” next-gen gaming system because of its on-board Blu-ray drive, it looks like Blu-ray is closing the gap on HD-DVD (HT: Slashdot):

VideoScan’s numbers indicate that during the seven days between Jan 7 and Jan 14, Blu-ray managed to close the gap of total discs sold since inception with HD DVD by over seven percentage points, suggesting that if the current trend continues, the two formats could be at disc sales parity within weeks.

And in news that might make the PS3 even more competitive, a senior exec at Sony said that “further slashing prices may be in store for the just-launched video game machine” (HT: Slashdot).

But the latest development is rather more disappointing. An enterprising and tenacious pornographer has found a way around Sony’s adult content ban by finding a Blu-ray replicator willing to copy their discs.

“We noticed that they took the umbrellas and the pens, but threw away the policy leaflets before they walked out of the door.”

You don’t say?

It’s the weekend; I can get away with a post like this on the weekend.

Update: “If all the legislation the EU has passed were laid out lengthways it would be over 120 miles long, whilst legislation currently in force would be 31.7 miles long.”

It looks like Julianne Malveaux is going to have to expand her complaint against the labeling of milk to a whole new spate of products, including yogurt. It may be that the whole scope of items coming from the dairy industry is going to be affected.

Here’s the label off a yogurt container that I ate out of last week:


Malveaux is concerned that this kind of labeling, which she argues deceives the consumer into thinking that the product approximates “organic” certification, makes people spend extra money uselessly.

Now it so happens that Stonyfield Yogurt is also USDA Organic, as certified by a little logo on the side of the container (while Land O’Lakes milk is not certified organic). But despite that fact, the fact that the yogurt is organic is not the information that the label on the top is touting. It’s proclaiming the virtue of having added no artificial hormones to the cows.

Is Malveaux right about the morality of labeling something “No rBST added”? Does her claim only apply if the item isn’t organic?

Let’s hear from some marketing professionals. Do marketers have an obligation only to include information on their labels that an average consumer might find relevant?

Is the fact that rBST has not been added to cows producing particular dairy products a relevant piece of datum for the consumer? And if it’s not relevant, then why do “organic regulations prohibit the use of antibiotics and synthetic growth hormones”?

Perhaps it should be up to the consumer to decide the relevance. Just a thought.

Blog author: dwbosch
posted by on Friday, February 2, 2007

Follow up thought, Kevin:

Church indulgences had their roots in cheerful giving. Lots of cheerful "carbon giving" going on right now too; in fact, I’d call it downright prideful (which is why giving to God always had this condition on it).

That cheerful giving morphed into a guilt-giving, and was ultimately mangled by the Guardians of Truth intoਊ grotesque, compulsory tax on the faithful.

Will we see a similar pattern emerge here? Would not be surprised. Nor would I expect such a tax to be limited by national boundaries.

[Don's other habitat is evangelicalecologist.com]

Sen. Dave Schultheis of Colorado has “proposed a ‘Public Schools Religious Bill of Rights’ to combat what he calls mounting, nationwide violations of students’ and school staffs’ constitutionally protected religious freedom.”

Without endorsing any particular elements of Schultheis’ bill, I have to admit that I have actually considered writing a piece on an idea like this before, a students’ bill of rights which includes the right to learn about God. It strikes me that for people who are religious, the current treatment of belief in God in public schools makes it practically impossible to integrate faith and learning.

In reality the only ones who are able to realize this right are those who can afford to send their children to a religious day school. That’s why we need education reform in this country so desperately. The poor who are forced to send their kids to public schools have no choice but to acquiesce before secularism.

Simply because government requires something to be done doesn’t mean that it has to be the provider. My state requires that I have car insurance if I drive a car, but I don’t buy my insurance from the state. Don’t let the cries against an “unfunded mandate” fool you. Whether in the form of vouchers or tax credits (given the constitutional issues involved in using vouchers to fund religious schools), change needs to come.

If the government is going to make K-12 education mandatory, the least it can do is recognize the rights of parents and children to integrate religious education into a comprehensive, character-forming curriculum. And since the government can’t be the one to administer religious instruction, education is a job best left up to private entities.

Prof. Bainbridge on the hijinks of the Boston duo responsible for the now infamous ad campaign for Adult Swim: “These guys validate my life’s work: They confirm that corporations rule the world and are therefore a worthy subject of study.”

Here’s the rather incredible press conference, where almost every question is answered with, “Sorry, that’s not a hair question.”

The best part is when a reporter actually gets them to address the situation, if even in a somewhat round about manner, by asking the brilliant question: “Are you afraid that if you go to prison you’ll get your hair cut?” A close second is the reaction dumbfounded FOX News anchor.

Don’t cities run first responder drills and similar things all the time? Maybe the city of Boston should chalk it up as a training exercise.

Is all this making anyone else think of this?

Update: Seth Godin, speaking of governments and consumer groups, says “whatever they do isn’t going to change the way marketers do (what they erroneously think is) their jobs. There’s just too much money on the table.”

Blog author: kschmiesing
posted by on Thursday, February 1, 2007

Among the immediate causes of the sixteenth-century split in Western Christianity was the sale of indulgences. The theological crudity of this abuse was encapsulated in the venality of Dominican friar Johannes Tetzel, whose activities in Wittenberg riled Martin Luther. Tetzel allegedly preached “Sobald das Geld in Kasten klingt, die Seele aus dem Fegefeuer springt.” (“As soon as the coin in the box clinks, the soul out of purgatory springs.”)

That slogan came to mind as I was reading Jay Nordlinger’s account of the most recent World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Nordlinger quotes an e-mail notice circulated to all attendees:

Climate Change is at the centre of our discussions, and you can act now. Please consider compensating your greenhouse gas emissions related to participating in the Annual Meeting in Davos.

This is possible with 1 click at any kiosk or at the Davos Climate Alliance desk.

That is to say, for the sin of contributing to climate change by jetting to Davos, one can atone by contributing to the Davos Climate Alliance—”an initiative of the World Economic Forum to promote sound measures and best practice aimed at mitigating carbon related risks.”

Lest anyone doubted that environmentalism is, for some, a religion (of a pre-Reformation variety, no less).

[Ed. Note: See also "Guilt Free Ecology."]