Saturday, February 24, 2007

Perhaps They're Looking In The Wrong Place

An article in Sunday's Times suggests that the evangelical right is less than pleased with the Republican candidates stepping forward to represent them. As this seems to be the case every election cycle, perhaps there is some deeper reason for their frustration: cognitive dissonance.

Jesus Christ on:

Social Welfare: "I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me." " you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me."

The War On Terror: "I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which spitefully use you, and persecute you."

The Death Penalty: "Thou shalt not kill."

Justice: "If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to cast a stone at her." "But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses."

Faith: "And when thou pray, thou shall not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But thou, when thou pray, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret."

Friday, February 23, 2007

I Don't Know Why I Go To Extremes

Early reports are that researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill have managed to reconcile an intriguing theory with unpleasant reality:

The theory claims to reconcile the notion of a cyclic universe, which expands and contracts for eternity, with the second law of thermodynamics, which seems to imply that the current expansion cannot reverse.

Aum shanti padme hum, I suppose. While it's comforting to think of this old world of ours spinning on forever, and certainly some people find it preferable to a Big Rip or a great final cosmic unraveling, there's no more direct evidence for Rips, cycles, Dark Energy or any of the rest of it than there is for the Flying Spaghetti Monster. We're merely groping for explanations to fill the gaps in our knowledge.

Baum and Frampton's model universe is powered by 'phantom energy' — a hypothetical form of the dark energy that is speeding up the Universe's expansion.

For more rampant if interesting speculation, see The Ultimate Fate of the Universe.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Happy New Year!

Blessings and prosperity await you in the Year of the Boar! Have some turnip cakes and celebrate!

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Like A Good Neighbor

... The kind who steals your paper and dumps their garbage in your yard, perhaps. State Farm has ceased to offer new homeowner's policies, not only in post-Katrina Mississippi but throughout the Gulf and East Coasts. This of course follows the inevitable class-action, which ended in a half-billion dollar settlement to Katrina-stricken policyholders the company initially tried to shaft. State Farm's both minimizing their risk and sending a message to Louisiana officials with whom they're engaged in a separate game of brinkmanship.

Now, large-scale 'events' like hurricanes can be very trying on providers of flood insurance - and so flood insurance is subsidized by the federal government for just this reason. State Farm's failure is a reflection of the larger breakdown in social safety nets.

Systems of social welfare cannot be effectively run as a for-profit business. There's an inherent conflict of interest at the heart of private insurance. Fulfilling the stated reason for their existence - to aid those stricken by disaster - inhibits their ability to gratify their stockholders. And half-funding a private system only adds cost and complication.