Weekend Reading: September 16, 2017

Welcome to the weekend reading, my collection of most interesting videos, blogs, news stories, books and more from the past week or two…

Science: As a reminder, I traditionally only post the most obvious news stories here if they are something I’d like to comment on. Usually, I like to post stuff that you may have missed, and here is one such story: Mathematicians Measure Infinities and Find They’re Equal.  I mean, why not geek it out and learn about a big math breakthrough.  I can’t say as I completely understand this, but it is definitely interesting.

Shocker: North Korea Threatens to Use Nuclear Weapon to ‘Sink’ Japan.  Now, I don’t know about you, but Kim is starting to sound like the boy who cried wolf. I don’t know what the end game for him is, but it may simply be consolidating his own internal power. That said, regardless of whether he’s just saber rattling, we effectively have another country threatening to annihilate us – which means we’re in a de facto state of war with that country – and everything those guys do deserves our attention.

There’s a video out that explains more about the missiles: Why North Korea Can’t Build An ICBM (yet).

On the political front, the big news this week was on immigration. And to call it “news” is perhaps a bit of an exaggeration, because nothing really (substantially) happened. Trump had a bunch of Democrat leaders over for dinner, and at that dinner, he supposedly told them he would cave on the DACA program, without getting his southern border wall. This infuriated his supporters, and caused the conservatives at RedState blog to write a post called ‘Amnesty!!’.  Breitbart even called him “Amnesty Don”.  Now, what is getting lost in all of this is the actual policy ramifications of rescinding DACA and not getting better border security. Can the United States be both merciful and wise at the same time?  Can we deal kindly with these children and also secure our border so that we stem the tide of illegal immigration? I highly doubt it given the type of people who inhabit the leadership of our government (on both sides of the aisle). But I do think that is what the President seems to be aiming for.

What is more of a mystery to me is how anyone can be surprised by the President’s actions. This is a man whose supporters trumpet his credentials as a dealmaker. Although some (on the right and left) might characterize his life as closer to that of a serial liar who has a track record of infidelity to both people and ideas. Regardless of how you frame it, the President is a man who makes deals – and unlike our Senate President has done that pretty successfully in years past.

For the first six months of his Presidency, he was clearly out of his depth, making one gaffe after another, compounding those mistakes by a series of uninhibited rants on social media which (I think) tarnished the office and embarrassed his supporters. But I think it’s too early to judge this latest series of policy maneuvers – including the prospect that the southern wall might get addressed later. Those on the right (of which I am one) can’t have it both ways – we can’t complain about the impotence of the GOP leadership in the Congress and then blame the President for wanting to bring Democrats along to make a deal to get things done. Because if the GOP leadership in the House and Senate doesn’t have the requisite leadership skills to get even a budget passed or Obamacare rescinded, what makes us think they can pass meaningful tax or immigration reform?

As far as I can tell, the President is simply tired of counting on House and Senate leadership to get anything done, and so he’s trying something else. Sure it means he might be going back on his word from the campaign – but when has that ever stopped a politician in the past?  Maybe that’s what we’re seeing…Donald Trump is becoming a politician…

Moving on…

Tech + Environmentalism + Liberals + Hollywood Types: Does anyone know what the heck Burning Man is really all about?  For the life of me, I cannot figure out what the point is.  All I know from past news stories over the years is that it’s where a bunch of libs and tech CEOs gather to free themselves from the conveniences of modern technology…of course, that idea died years ago.  So I’m not sure what the point is these days, but I do know that this is ridiculous: Thousands of bikes abandoned at ‘leave no trace’ Burning Man. 

Religion and America….Good writing from John MacArthur here: Can God Bless America?

Gays + Tech = ?  Some off-the-wall technology stuff here…Researchers use facial recognition tools to predict sexual orientation. LGBT groups aren’t happy.

‘Sin in America’, or ‘More stuff on Gay People’: Along similar lines, I thought it would be helpful to link to the Nashville Statement here. This statement was signed by hundreds of prominent evangelicals, along with some conservative media types and many others. If you haven’t been able to read it, go ahead and do so because it’s likely to be a reference point for years to come in the discussion about the sin of homosexuality, and how the church interacts with the issue (was just thinking how after typing “the sin of…” could land me in some hot water before too long…).

Tech: This was buried in the Wall Street Journal a few days ago: Facebook Is Willing to Spend Big in Video Push

Hurricanes: Insightful stuff here:  Best intentions: When disaster relief brings anything but relief

Sociology: This is really fascinating stuff here: From Prison to Ph.D.: The Redemption and Rejection of Michelle Jones.  Of course, I am all for Harvard or any other institution having the freedom to reject or admit whomever they’d like. That is part of what makes this country great. Yet, there are some really interesting things to explore in this article. There are questions to ask – like whether they rejected Jones on academic grounds (it doesn’t seem so), or whether those who are outraged are outraged for the right reasons.  A bigger question is whether we believe rehabilitation is possible in the prison system.  Lot’s to chew on here, and I’d encourage you to read the article and discuss it with someone to flesh out a bit what is going on here and why.  NOTE: the three reasons I think I detect from Harvard as to their rejection are: 1. Jones might be uncomfortable in the high-pressure academic situation, 2. Jones seemed unwilling to dive into the crime she committed 20 years ago in the optional section of her application, 3. Allowing Jones’ into the program would bring fire upon the University politically from the right (Fox News is cited) by promoting a supposed trope that Harvard is P.C. through and through (the double irony of this is mind-blowing…it might be a truism that those who don’t have principles moored in eternal truths find themselves in ironic situations more than they’d like).

Religion in America: I know I just linked to the NY Times, and that may have been hard to stomach for some of my fellow conservative friends, but this won’t help much because I’m now going to link to the pseudo-journalism of Buzzfeed. The article is called, ‘The Joel Osteen Fiasco Says A Lot About American Christianity’.  I find it interesting to view the church through the eyes of the world every now and again, just as it’s interesting to see the world through a kaleidoscope (distortions are often amusing, and more often noteworthy).

More of the same??? Maybe…Perhaps the best title for this article is ‘Whoops……..’

In case you missed it: Dianne Feinstein Attacks Judicial Nominee’s Catholic Faith. Apparently, there is no longer freedom of religion when it comes to serving in the public arena.  This is an extremely important story, with chilling repercussions.  So much could be said, but one thing is that it underscores the importance of elections in America. Elections have consequences. So next time you hear people complaining about how much money is spent on them, or how many ads or calls you’re getting or seeing, remember that the stakes are high, and that’s the reason why so much attention is placed on who wins and who loses.  It goes without saying that to have several U.S. Senators of any variety attacking a judge in this way is egregious, and an example of how liberals in America are desirous to reshape the values by which this country is governed and judged. Feinstein complained of this nominee that “the dogma lives loud” inside her. Feinstein too has a dogma roaring within her, and its ugly sound was heard across the political spectrum with acute clarity. We ignore the roar of this lion at our own peril. 

Freedom, Liberty, and Science: Canada these days!  Jeez! from the Toronto Sun: Canada now investigates ‘climate denial’. Of course, I say that tongue in cheek because we Americans know how close to this America is as well. In fact, we’ve already seen it at the IRS in recent years.

Rando: This is just odd…yet funny: Elvis Karate Fight Plaque.

That’s it for now – I hope you enjoy your weekend!

PJ

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