Alcohol Kills More People than AIDS, TB, or Violence

A wreath Kolsch Beer - LA Times of Kölsch.

Death in a glass

And yet it remains the most widely available destroyer of human life on the planet.

Alcohol causes nearly 4 percent of deaths worldwide, more than AIDS, tuberculosis or violence, the World Health Organization warned on Friday.  Rising incomes have triggered more drinking in heavily populated countries in Africa and Asia, including India and South Africa, and binge drinking is a problem in many developed countries, the United Nations agency said.  Yet alcohol control policies are weak and remain a low priority for most governments despite drinking’s heavy toll on society from road accidents, violence, disease, child neglect and job absenteeism, it said.

Perhaps it’s time to take booze more seriously as a danger to society.

Get That Special Someone a Roach for Valentine’s Day… Go Ahead… See What Happens

In what is described as the perfect Valentine’s Day gift, New York’s Bronx Zoo is offering the chance to name a Madagascar hissing cockroach after that special someone in your life. “Flowers wilt. Chocolates melt. Roaches are forever,” the zoo said on its website about the name a roach gift, which was also billed as a limited Valentine’s Day offer.

Go ahead and I assure you, unless your special someone is a loon, next year you won’t have to bother getting her or him anything. And yet

More than 1,000 people chose the cockroach option for their Valentine in the first 24 hours of the offer this week, a zoo spokesman said. The recipient of the present gets a certificate explaining that there is a special insect living at the zoo with his or her name on it.

I. Am. Speechless.

18 Days in Egypt

Al-Jazeera has a fine vidoe describing these last very remarkable 18 days which changed Egypts history from an oligarchy to a Democracy. It’s worth viewing.

Al Jazeera’s Tarek Bazley takes a look back at the 18 days that shook Egypt and the wider Middle East.

Paul Wasn’t A Misogynist when He Wrote About Silent Women in the Church

There’s a new op-ed by Joe Lunceford over at Bible and Interpretation that discusses this delightful (and yet frequently misunderstood) topic.

Isn’t it the “clear teaching of Scripture” teaches that women should keep silent in the church? In a word, no it isn’t! It is anything but clear. The proof-text most often used to support this position is I Cor. 14:34. The fact is all too often overlooked that the same Paul wrote in I Cor. 11 that a woman should have a covering on her head when she prayed or prophesied. What sense would this guidance make if women did not pray or prophesy. As I regularly remark to my classes, to pray or prophesy and keep silent all at the same time is a pretty good trick! So how are we to deal with this apparent contradiction?

Well go and see.

Get A Life… Geez

Who thought we would all live to see the day when the shape of a Pepsi can would, or even could, stir controversy.  Well welcome to bizarro-world.

Diet Pepsi has introduced a new “skinny” can for Fashion Week, but some critics are giving it a big, fat “no.”  The can is a “taller, sassier” version of the traditional can that the company says was made in “celebration of beautiful, confident women.” Some say Pepsi’s approach only reinforces dangerous stereotypes about women and body image.

What???? It’s a can, you bloody lunatics.  There’s not a woman on the planet shaped like a can.  Geez.

Another Perverted Prof

Your tuition dollars and tax dollars (in Maine) paid for this little example of depraved perversity.

A tenured economics professor at Colby College was forced to resign late last month after allegations surfaced that he set up a hidden surveillance camera to take photos of female students in a bathroom while chaperoning an international student trip, according to court documents.  Philip H. Brown, an associate professor of economics who has taught at Colby since 2003, has not been charged and an investigation by the Maine State Police Computer Crimes Unit is ongoing. Brown’s resignation was confirmed by the college.  …

According to the affidavit filed by Armstrong, the allegations surfaced on Jan. 22 when two students were writing a blog post and accidentally deleted the entry. The students attempted to retrieve the blog post from the computer’s trash bin “and found disturbing images of a fellow student.”  The student in the photo, a female, was “nude from the waist down.”  On Jan. 24, Armstrong received a complaint from the college’s attorney concerning the student trip to China, which included four female students.  According to the lawyer, Jerry Crouter, “students on the trip had reported the discovery of images on a computer apparently taken by a hidden surveillance camera placed in the female students’ bathroom in the hotel they were staying in while in China.”

Disgusting.  But at least he was a tenured guy at an accredited school and that’s all that really matters.

Celebrating 25 Years of Ministry…

At a burlesque?  Only an Anglican (or Episcopalian) should act like that, not a Catholic …

Father Michael Seed, who helped to convert Tony Blair to Catholicism, marked his 25 years as a priest with a mass at the Church of the Immaculate Conception in Mayfair. Now the friar, who also directed Ann Widdecombe towards Rome, is to celebrate in a more unusual location. A party is being held in his honour at the Pigalle Club, the louche venue known for its burlesque shows. “I’ve never seen it in action,” he tells me. “My close friend is organising it and his best friend is the owner.”

Classy… really classy.  But at least he’s living up to his name… being seedy.

Conference Announcement: The Dead Sea Scrolls and the Letters of Paul

Les manuscrits de la mer Morte et la littérature paulinienne — The Dead Sea Scrolls and Pauline Literature  —-  Colloque International, Metz, 14-16 juin 2011 — International Colloquium, Metz, june 14-16, 2011

Comité organisateur | Organizing Committee: http://www.qumran.fr/comitee.html

Argumentaire | Topic http://www.qumran.fr/topic.html

Programme | Program: http://www.qumran.fr/program.html

Inscription | Registration: http://www.qumran.fr/registration.html

Informations pratiques | Practical Informations: http://www.qumran.fr/practical.html

Via Jack Sasson

Postal Workers and Depravity

You know, lately I’ve felt badly for the Post Office.  They’re really under fire because so many people are using email instead of regular snail mail.  They’re loosing a gazillion dollars a year, and post offices are being closed all around the country.

Nevertheless, it seems that there’s plenty of money for parties and expensive hotels and porn…  so my sympathy has died.

On his way to the adult shop?

If the cash-strapped U.S. Postal Service wants to save money it should ensure that its workers aren’t booking pricey hotel rooms and airplane tickets or buying pornography, according to a new watchdog report.  Over a two-year period, some postal workers used credit cards meant for travel and lodging expenses to buy family members flights to Spain and Italy, purchase Apple computers and make more than 50 purchases at “adult entertainment” stores.  The findings, detailed in a Postal Service Inspector General report, also reveal that USPS didn’t cancel 2,491 credit cards issued to former employees, including 53 who were listed as deceased. Two former employees were still using their cards after they left, according to the report.

Taxpayers are already stressed, services are being slashed, the economy is in the tank, and the Government is even now debating what else it can eliminate to save money.  To use federal funds for such nefarious purposes is an outrage against every person who has to send money to the federal government.

Deliverance…

Part 15.  And Chris has, I think, gotten through page 18 of Campbell’s massive volume.  Chris is doing a brilliant job.  By the way, such detail would never be possible in a print journal or even on some book review websites.  So hooray for a quite thorough treatment and the space to do it.

Here’s Chris at his desk doing the review-  it has taken its toll.

Lady Gag(a-lot) Has a New Song…

Gag(a) without her get-up

You know me, I’m a pop culture watcher (because nothing says unintelligent depravity like 99% of pop culture) so of course I took note of the news that Lady Gag(a-lot) has a new song celebrating homosexuality as a born condition or state or nature.

what Lady Gag (for short) refuses to recognize (or probably doesn’t know, because simple minds prefer simple explanations) is that there are numerous reasons why a person may be homosexually inclined.  There are psychological reasons, physiological reasons, emotional reasons, spiritual reasons, and even theological reasons.  The notion that gays are ‘born that way’ ignores the complexity of the issue and turns a blind eye to the facts.

But that’s what pop culture is best at: turning a blind eye to the facts.  That because pop culture is to truth and knowledge what ‘praise songs’ are to true worship.  It is a skimming of the surface, an appeal to the lowest common denominator, a foolishness born of laziness and pride blended together in a deadly stew of ignorance.  In short, to be blunt, it is yet another manifestation of total depravity- the accursed condition of life lived without God and grace and the utter inability to notice that one is in precisely that state.

Lady Gag(a-nd make me hurl) can sing and sell and pimp her ideology as much as she wishes, but she can’t change the facts or alter the truth.  She can only mislead and deceive those tragic souls foolish enough to buy into her notions.

Most Misleading Headline of the Day Award Goes to…

The Huffington Post- for this grossly misleading little foray into misrepresentation:

The Biblical Prophets and Israel

Seeing that you’d expect an essay which actually mentioned in some detail the Prophets and Israel (either ancient or modern or both). Alas, you’ll not find it. What you’ll find instead is actually a very good essay on the necessity of Israel to give more attention to its mistreatment of Israeli Arabs… Not until the closing paragraph are the Prophets mentioned, as though in passing or as an afterthought or just for the sake of making the essay sound more religiously based or themed:

There is no more effective response to the challenges to Israel’s legitimacy than to help her become more fully Jewish and more fully democratic. It may well be that the expressions of justice and peace of the Biblical prophets is also the most effective political strategy available to defend the state of Israel.

That’s it. Poor prophets- used again. This time to drag attention to an essay kicking and screaming only to leave the reader completely unsatisfied because they aren’t even bothered with or so much as cited!  Congrats, HuffPo.  Your headline misleads and you win the award.

The US Lacks Credibility

Michele Keleman’s report on Morning Edition is a fantastic look at the disastrous consequences of American impotence in Mid Eastern affairs.  Extremely interesting is this remark by one David Miller, which is just spot on:

“We are neither admired, respected or feared to the degree that we need to be in order to protect our interests and the reality is — and this is just another demonstration of it — everybody in this region says no to America without cost or consequences,” he says. “Hamid Karzi says no, Maliki on occasion says no, Khameni says no, Netanyahu says no. Mubarak says no repeatedly.”  U.S. credibility fell over the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, analysts say, and again last year when Israel rejected U.S. calls for a building freeze in the occupied West Bank.

Until and unless the United States cuts off all that wasted foreign aid, to all of those countries (including Israel), it will continue to be mocked and derided and behind the scenes viewed with nothing but contempt for its weakness and spinelessness.  Our country has no credibility because it has no willpower.

There are others in Washington making the case for playing the aid card, especially now that the U.S. is making specific calls for reforms.  Robert Kagan of the Brookings Institution, who co-chairs a bipartisan working group on Egypt, says the U.S. used what leverage it had to make sure the army didn’t crack down on protesters. Now, he says, the Obama administration needs to use the aid card to make sure there are real reforms.  “At the end of the day, I think it is literally the case that if the Egyptian regime transforms itself into a dictatorship without the name Mubarak at the top of it that they will lose U.S. aid,” Kagan says. “Right now they are not sure they will lose the aid, and I think the more we make that clear to them the better chance we have.”  The test of US leverage, Kagan says, is just beginning.

It’s probably another diplomatic test we will fail.  Or rather, our leadership will fail.  And the US will continue to send money to regimes which despise us.

The Egyptian Army is Standing With Mubarak

Hopes that the Army would side with the protesters were misplaced.  NPR reports

Egypt’s military threw its weight Friday behind President Hosni Mubarak’s plan to stay in office through September elections while protesters fanned out to the presidential palace in Cairo and other key symbols of the authoritarian regime in a new push to force the leader to step down immediately.  The statement came several hours after Mubarak refused to step down or leave Egypt and instead handed most of his powers to his vice president Omar Suleiman, enraging protesters who pleaded for the military to take action to push him out.

If violence breaks out, the Army will of necessity have to step in.  And that could result in a lot of bloodshed.

Mubarak is a smart man- he’s biding his time, calling in his numerous resources, and will leave office when he wants, not when anyone else does.  And he has the backing of the army.  The protesters may as well go back to their lives or outright rebel.  The present tactic of protesting isn’t working, and won’t.  If there isn’t a full fledged armed uprising by the population at large, nothing will change.  And if there is, many will die.  I suppose the Egyptians have to decide whether real liberty is worth death.  A dicey question.

The Ultra Orthodox and the Muslim Brotherhood: Birds of a Feather?

חרדים ירושלמים. צולם על ידי אפי ב.

Ha’aretz is asking the same question that others have been asking: is Jewish rhetoric any less dangerous than Muslim? The answer, in my estimation, is no, it isn’t.

What do the Muslim Brotherhood and the ultra-Orthodox religious-right have in common? Israelis complain about the Muslim Brotherhood, but fail to take on rabbis whose rhetoric is no less incendiary.

A few months from now, Egypt may come under the rule of a government dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood, whose supreme spiritual leader said just a few years ago that God would “destroy the seed of the Jews and extirpate them from the world. These Jews are accursed scoundrels, crying crocodile tears while they murder people; it is forbidden to have any mercy on them. We have to destroy them with great missiles.” And if you think this is populist scare-mongering, and that this represents only one benighted faction of the popular Egyptian movement, here is what the leader of a rival faction of the Brotherhood said about Israeli civilians: “There is nothing in Islamic law about consideration for innocents in time of war.” And lest there be any mistake, his secretary explained that “there is no problem with killing Jewish civilians, because the entire population supports Israeli terror.”

There’s a lot more.  Read it.  Especially if you’re inclined towards Christian Zionism or the like.