Saturday, August 27, 2005

ELCA goes gender-neutral.
Tired of references to the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost in your services? Rather pray to Holy Eternal Majesty, Holy Incarnate Word, and Holy Abiding Spirit? Well, the ELCA just approved new language for their hymnals and prayer books, which are going to be reprinted in 2006, and that language is going to be far more gender-neutral. References to God as the Father, King, Lord, etc. are all in jeopordy. Which makes me wonder what's going to happen to hymns like "King of Kings."

Friday, August 26, 2005

A game recommendation.
I just finished playing through Half Life 2. In a word: Amazing. Remember how you felt the first time you played through Deus Ex (the good one, not the crap sequel)? Got that feeling here, too. Immersive story line, incredible (memory hogging) graphics, great gameplay. Creepy, without being a digital horror film.

Hey, and the voice acting's pretty good, too. Robert Culp, Louis Gossett Jr, and Robert Guillaume all lend their talents.

One of the things that really impressed me was the physics of the game. Stuff actually obeys the laws of buoyancy, for example, and you need to use that knowledge at various stages of the game.

The AI is pretty good. Smart enemies (i.e. not the zombies) will actually use cover and suppressing fire while you're zipping about. Sniping is made more difficult because enemy troops will actually bob and weave instead of just standing there like morons. Now, that's not to say the AI's perfect. I saw more than one soldier blow himself up by trying to throw a grenade through an obstruction, but that just added to the humor.

Speaking of which, the game has some actual moments of wit. Notice the password used by some of the rebels during one of the later levels. Love it.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Tidy little scam.
I received a curious postcard in the mail today. Two peanuts on the front are having a spastic fit, and the caption read, "We're going nuts trying to reach you." It's from some company called ARC, Inc. located in Cumming, GA. The reverse reads, "We have been trying to reach you! It is real [sic] important that you call Toll [sic] free," and it gives a number and time window.

Since I have never had any messages from anyone purporting to represent this company, I googled them. Good thing I did. From complaints.com:

Today was the first time I heard of these people. I got a little postcard in the mail saying they were trying to get a hold of me. So I called the toll free number. I called twice.

First operator I spoke to said I get the postcard because I had been automatically entered into the "Grand National Sweepstakes." My name was on the card along with a PIN number. I asked what sweepstakes and how?

The first reply she gave was "do you subscribe to any magazines?"

"Well, sure I do."

"That is how you were entered."

I asked her what magazine did this and she couldn't tell me. I subscribe to several but I know they aren't all part of one group!

I asked her to tell me more about ARC and she refused. Then she said

I was entered in the sweepstakes because I carried a MasterCard, Visa, American Express or Discover card. She asked which one I carried. I would not tell her.

Then she asked for my age and birth date! If a credit card company or magazine company had entered me, they already have that info! I would have also known about it.

This sounds like total fraud!

I told the girl I would not give out any personal info and I hung up.

I called back to see what would happen this time.

The second operator I spoke to told me I had been automatically entered into this "Grand National Sweepstakes" but again would not tell me any more information about it. I asked her how I was entered. She never mentioned magazines but did give me the schpeel about carrying a major credit card.

Then she asked if I had a checking account! She wanted to know my birth date!

I asked to speak to the manager and she said she was out and wouldn't be back all week. When I told her this sounded like fraud she got rude and said she would delete my information. I said fine but told her I was still going to report them. None of this sounds legitimate! Everyone should know these days do not give out ANY personal info to a stranger!

This ARC is just out to steal peoples money------ Watch Out!
Be on the look out, intrepid readers.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

A sticky wicket.
As I point out every six months, I'm wishy-washy pro-choice when it comes to abortion. I haven't really worked out my thoughts on so-called "morning-after" contraception, but, at this moment, I don't really have a problem with it.

I do, however, have a great deal of sympathy for pharmacists who don't believe in filling prescriptions for these drugs. If you believe that taking one of these pills to block implantation of a fertilized egg is tantamount to abortion, and you are also ardently pro-life, I understand how being asked to fill a prescription for the drug might offend your moral sensibilities.

Well, I guess Illinois has passed a rule saying that a pharmacy that fills prescriptions for standard contraceptives must fill prescriptions for morning-after pills. Given the extremely emotional nature of this issue, and how deeply held these beliefs can get, I wonder how many pharmacists are going to lose their licenses.
Blagojevich, a Democrat elected in 2002, says pharmacists who deny customers any form of legal birth control could lose their licenses.

"It's really just as simple as making sure that women don't get hassled or harassed when they go to the drugstore to buy their birth control," said Blagojevich. "It's a very simple concept and it shouldn't be threatening anybody."
Blagojevich can't be this naive. If you believe that abortion is wrong, and that taking these pills is tantamount to abortion, then a pharmacist who fills is aiding and abetting an immoral act.

So, which is worse? A young lady has her prescription refused by her pharmacist, and she has to go elsewhere to get it filled, or a pharmacist whose told that his conscience belongs to the state?
Only soldiers can declare war, I guess.
FoxNews has an exceedingly lame op-ed from Rep. Martin Frost (D-TX), a member of the U.S. House from 1979 to 2005. Though claiming not to know the answer to a question no one asked, Martin is saddened by the lack of military experienced possessed by so many U.S. Congressmen and other government officials.
I do know that it is a sad commentary that so few of the people making our laws — members of the U.S. House, the U.S. Senate, the president and vice president, and the president’s cabinet — have much military experience, let alone combat experience, to draw from.
This is a softer take on the "chickenhawk" cry that so many liberals like to throw out: "You haven't served, yet you make military decisions? CHICKENHAWK!" What stupefies me, though, is what a thoroughly dunderheaded, ahistorical criticism that is. One of the greatest achievements of Western civilization is the subordination of the military branch of government to the civilian branch. Putting some regular schmo in charge of all the generals is breathtaking in its brilliance. A quick thought experiment: Take all the countries where the civilians are in charge of the military (the U.S, Canada, Sweden, France, etc.) and compare them to the governments headed by the military (Libya, Venezuela, Iraq under Saddam, Uganda under Idi Amin, Panama under Noriega, etc.). Where would you rather live?

It amazes me that liberals are so quick to sweep aside hundreds, if not thousands, of years of progression toward our current civilian-military relationship. Talk about being out of touch.
An advance in gay rights in California.
Not only are they becoming more accepted as parents, now they have the same responsibilites as straight couples: If you separate/divorce, you have to pay child support.
Paparazzi party.
Now I see that they're hounding Scarlett Johansson. This isn't quite as bad as the incident involving Lindsay Lohan a few months ago (where a photographer actually rammed her car), but it still seems a bit nuts.
The Los Angeles County district attorney's office is investigating whether increasingly aggressive celebrity photographers are initiating confrontations to capture lucrative photos.
I wonder how long it will be before states start passing laws regarding the activities of paparazzi and how and when they can take photos.

Here's a question: How does anti-stalking legislation affect this? Could a celebrity invoke those kinds of statutes to get paparazzi to lay off?
Libidinous nuns. What's next?
A nun gets reprimanded for her, um, over-zealous dancing.
Daily Het Laatste Nieuws showed pictures of a dancing Johanne Vertommen being held up in the air by the missionary, and then clinging to him with her legs wrapped around his body.
I'm sure there a lot of "missionary position" jokes that could be had here, but I don't want to get into a pun fight.
Robertson gets itchy.
I thank our only reader, Jesse, for pointing out that Pat Robertson has gone off the deep end. I first thought there was a little weirdness when the Daily Show had a clip of him praying for more vacancies on the Supreme Court. Given that the only way most of those judges are going to leave the Court is in a body bag, I thought it a bit inappropriate -- I mean, was he really praying for death to strike members of the Court?

Now I see that he's calling for the assassination of Hugo Chavez. To be fair, he has precident in Christian theology for this; see the writings of John of Salisbury, who wrote about the right of tyranicide and how an oppressed people may pray for God to send someone to kill the tyrant. Not that this somehow means that Robertson's comments aren't batty. I doubt he meditated over John's writings and struggled with their relevance today.

Of course, we shouldn't be too surprised that Robertson is saying crap like this. He's got a history:
Robertson has made controversial statements in the past. In October 2003, he suggested that the State Department be blown up with a nuclear device. He has also said that feminism encourages women to "kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism and become lesbians."

Monday, August 22, 2005

Going on a hiatus.
Well, as you can see, that title should be past tense. I kinda feel duty-bound to make posts, but I have too much to do to have that kind of distraction. Best just to walk away for a while.