Alan K. Henderson's Weblog


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Monday, June 30, 2008

Another Victory In The War On Speech

In the Netherlands:

Dutch legislator Geert Wilders will not be prosecuted for inciting hatred of Muslims with his film denouncing the Quran, prosecutor said Monday.

Prosecutor said his film "Fitna," or "Ordeal" in Arabic, and statements Wilders wrote in Dutch newspapers were hurtful and insulting but not criminal.

Wilders is still a wanted man elsewhere:

Wilders said he hopes prosecutors will send a copy of their decision to prosecutors in Jordan, where he faces a lawsuit. Wilders has said he is worried he could be arrested if he leaves the Netherlands because Jordan has informed Interpol he is wanted to face charges there.

In a just world, nobody should ever have to worry about being sued by some foreign jurisdiction for actions not committed in that nation. This only reminds us how much of the world is unjust.


Blogging the Qur'an: Sura 32, "The Prostration"

Robert Spencer has the installment here.

One paragraph especially catches my eye. Here's the first part:

We see something new in the statement that everything Allah created is good (v. 7). This appears to contradict the idea that Allah created many jinns and men for hell (7:179 and v. 13 of this sura). However, the Imam Malik says that this only means that “he created everything well and in a goodly fashion,” not that everything he created is itself good.

Malik's spin on Verse 7 doesn't jive with the noted translators cited in this series:

YUSUFALI: He Who has made everything which He has created most good: He began the creation of man with (nothing more than) clay,
PICKTHAL: Who made all things good which He created, and He began the creation of man from clay;
SHAKIR: Who made good everything that He has created, and He began the creation of man from dust.

Now for the conclusion of the paragraph:

In v. 13 is also repeated the assertion that Allah would have guided all human beings to the truth if he had so desired – indicating here again that Allah does not, unlike the God of the Bible, will “that all men be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth” (I Timothy 2:3)

The God of the Bible created angels and humans with free will, each free to accept or reject God (who, being omniscience, knows in advance who will choose what). Allah created certain beings who may have choices in other matters but are compelled by Allah to reject Allah. I find the former deity much more appealing.

Click the "Koran" label to see all my posts on this series.

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Sunday, June 29, 2008

HRC Surrenders

Not Hillary Rodham Clinton (in this case), but Canada's Human Rights Commission, which has dismissed the heresy charges "hate speech" lawsuit against Steyn and Maclean's.

The Maclean's official response is here, and has a PDF file of the HRC decision. (Via Mark Steyn, naturally.)

They're not totally in the clear yet - there's still the case before British Columbia's Human Rights Tribunal, which heard closing arguments earlier this month.


Thursday, June 26, 2008

The Supreme Court Gets One Right

The Second Amendment has been reinstated in the District of Columbia.

Update: WSJ has Randy Barnett's analysis.


Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Meanwhile, Down At The Corner

Byron York takes a sledgehammer to the illegitimate use of the term swiftboating.

A proper definition of "swiftboating" - one based on history and not innuendo and slander - is when someone publicly rebuts a celebrity who made claims about a past that he or she shares with that someone. Considering its deceitful origins, the term really has no place in civil discourse. Torpedo "swiftboating."

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Abortion And The Eugenics Movement

Jonah Goldberg pores through some oft-forgotten history.


A Question For Obama Supporters

One of the mantras of the Obamaniacs is that their candidate will unite the country. Knowing that Bill Clinton was a divider to the extreme, tell me this: what will Obama do that Clinton didn't?


Monday, June 23, 2008

Blogging the Qur'an: Sura 30, "The Byzantines," And Sura 31, "Luqman"

Robert Spencer has the installment here.

In Sura 30, Mohammed delivers an apparent prophecy - that the "Romans" (meaning Byzantines) would overcome a defeat within a few years of that defeat. claims that the prophecy did not come true:

The Romans were, in fact, defeated in 610 AD in the battles of Antioch and Aleppo.


The question is : how do we define "a small number of years"? The traditions, as well as Muslim commentators, tell us that Abu-Bakr made a bet with Ubai-ibn- Khalaf that this prediction would be fulfilled within three years. Muhammad, who rarely had an unspoken thought, told them that the "small number" is between three and nine years (Source: al-Baizawi).

The Romans (Byzantines) defeated the Persians 12 years later in 628 AD at the battle of Ctesiphon - so Muhammad's prophecy was wrong. Muslims have worked very hard to side-step this issue. In fact, Pickthall translates Sura 30:4 as "Within ten years", whereas Ali and Shakir correctly translate it as "Within a few years". In either case, Muhammad was wrong.

Wikipedia documents the heated debate over the prophecy. As I see it, the big problem with discerning whether it came true or not is this: Mohammed does not state which specific event marked the defeat mentioned in verses 2-3. The conquest of Antioch and Aleppo? The 615 conquest of Jerusalem? If we don't know which defeat Mohammed referred to, we can't determine whether the prophecy came true.

Sura 31 is named for a sage whose warnings against evil constitute much of the text. One particular sin he admonishes is "polytheism" - which, according to Islam, includes Trinitarianism.

Click the "Koran" label to see all my posts on this series.


Friday, June 20, 2008


I am speechless and mortified - and not all that surprised.


I'm Bad, I'm Countrywide

Well I was rollin' down the road makin' some subprime deals
I had Chris Dodd in the back, and Kent Conrad at the wheel...


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Thursday, June 19, 2008

Couldn't Find A Pic-a-nic Basket

Bear Strolls Into McDonald's Drive-Through Lane


If Jack Nicholson Donates To Your Political Campaign... out:

He tends to back also-rans in Democratic presidential primary contests," the Washington Post's Mary Ann Akers and Paul Kane recounted in their "In the Loop" compilation on Thursday. They reported how "Nicholson's first choice was none other than Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio). On Jan. 10, Nicholson cut a $500 check to Kucinich's presidential campaign -- barely a week before the diminutive lawmaker bowed out of the race."

Then "he wrote $500 checks in February to the debt retirement efforts of Sens. Joseph Biden (D-Del.) and Christopher Dodd (D-Conn.), both of whom left the race after dismal showings in the Jan. 3 Iowa caucuses" and, "finally, on Feb. 29, Nicholson picked a new presidential contender -- Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.). Just days before her big primary wins in Ohio and Texas, Nicholson sent a check for $2,300, the maximum, to her campaign."


Arnold Schwarzenegger For President - Not!

He's got the wrong bead on energy policy.


Karl Rove For President!

He's got the right bead on economic policy.

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Monday, June 16, 2008

Blogging the Qur'an: Sura 29, "The Spider"

Robert Spencer has the installment here.
More railings against hypocrites, more stories about prophets of old.

Click the "Koran" label to see all my posts on this series.

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Sunday, June 15, 2008

Family Ties

My Father's Day post of 2007 is now an annual blog tradition. It has applications for the relationships revolving around both our earthly fathers and our heavenly Father.

Most Christians have no problem getting along with non-Christians. This may seem confusing to some; after all, Christianity teaches that those who are not reconciled with God will not receive salvation. Why care about people who aren't going to Heaven?

One could say that while a particular non-Christian is alive we really don't know that that person's eternal destination won't make a course change at a later date. That's a valid observation, but not the real reason.

Christianity makes a radical claim about the relationship between believers, nonbelievers and God: we're all family. God created the souls of all, thus he is the father of all, believers and nonbelievers alike. All of the children have gone astray - but some have reconciled with him while others have not.

When one is faced with the earthly parallel - being in good standing with Dad while some of the other siblings aren't - one is charged with three tasks: to build and maintain the relationship with Dad, to build and maintain the relationships with the wayward siblings without doing anything that interferes with the paternal relationship, and to act as a bridge between the wayward siblings and Dad. That third task is tricky; there will be occasions to discuss the rift outright, but most of the time it involves nothing more than being a positive influence to that sibling.

Christianity works the same way. Loving God doesn't mean giving up on non-Christian friends. We may have to reassess what kinds of "fun" we pursue with them, though. (Heck, sometimes we have to reassess the "fun" we pursue with fellow Christians.) Witnessing to nonbelievers isn't all Amway sales presentations. Most of the time it's just bringing good to someone's life.

The hardest part of doing good to others is when it requres criticism. We see them doing something destructive, and we want to help. We need to effectively communicate what the problem is, how it hurts that person, and how the future can be better when that problem is dealth with.

Most Christians grasp all this, even if they haven't thought it out as thoroughly as outlined here. They care about both believers and nonbelievers out of the same human motivations that drive us all, and because they believe in a God who values everyone.

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Friday, June 13, 2008

Meet The New Cuban Boss, Same As The Old Romanian Boss

Ion Mihai Pacepa compares Raul Castro to his former employer Nicolae Ceaucescu.

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Forget The Unconfirmed "Whitey" Rumors

Michelle Obama's certifiable quotes are enough to confirm her as a barking moonbat.


Is Obama Really A Christian?

Chicago Sun-Times columnist Cathleen Falsani has an interesting column about the presumptive Democratic nominee's religious beliefs. This quote leads many to doubt that he adheres to genuine Christianity (emphasis added):

"So, I have a deep faith," Obama continues. "I'm rooted in the Christian tradition. I believe that there are many paths to the same place, and that is a belief that there is a higher power, a belief that we are connected as a people."

Many people read this and assume that the "same place" he's talking about is eternal salvation, aware that no small number of nominal Christians believe such a philosophy. Obama doesn't specify the "same place," so he has an opening for an exit strategy from this quote.

But this passage is more problematic:

"The difficult thing about any religion, including Christianity, is that at some level there is a call to evangelize and proselytize. There's the belief, certainly in some quarters, that if people haven't embraced Jesus Christ as their personal savior, they're going to hell."

Obama doesn't believe he, or anyone else, will go to hell.

But he's not sure if he'll be going to heaven, either.

"I don't presume to have knowledge of what happens after I die," he says.

He says he's Christian, but doesn't have any idea what will happen to him when he dies. Doesn't his Bible have John 3:16? Isn't the "eternal life" remark at least a bit informative?

The remark about Obama believing "that all people of faith -- Christians, Jews, Muslims, animists, everyone -- know the same God" would be fodder for all sorts of fisking, if it were a direct quote from Obama and not Falsani's interpretation of his remarks.

For the record, animists do not believe in God:

[Animism] commonly refers to belief systems that attribute souls to animals, plants and other entities, in addition to humans. Animism may also attribute souls to natural phenomena, geographic features, everyday objects and manufactured articles.


Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Attack Of The Killer Tomatoes

Salmonella scare in 17 states.


Huckabee To Te Rescue

The former presidential candidate delivers a Heimlich maneuver to Robert Pittenger, a candidate for a North Carolina lieutanant governor.


Blogging the Qur'an: Sura 28, "The Story"

Robert Spencer has the installment here. More Moses, more railings against unbelievers.

The first sentence in the article points to one of my great frustrations with the Koran:

It has often been noted that while the Bible is (among many other things) a series of historical narratives, the Qur’an is a series of sermons.

It is very difficult to learn about Islam if one's only source is this disorganized jumble that is the Koran.

Click the "Koran" label to see all my posts on this series.

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Sunday, June 08, 2008


The blog received its 200,000th visitor on May 25.


Random Thought

Regarding yesterday's post on certain forebears of John McCain and Barack Obama...let ye who is without scoundrels in your ancestry cast the first stone.


Henderson Prize Announcement

The next prize goes out July 3.


Saturday, June 07, 2008

Civil Rights Musings

Rand Simberg ponders the rights of vampires and zombies. Check out the comments.

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Recall this passage from Martin Luther King's I Have a Dream speech:

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

We're in big trouble if that dream falters in 2008, because both major candidates are descendents of former slave owners.

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Friday, June 06, 2008

D-Day Anniversary


A Single-Issue Vote

Thomas Sowell sums up the presidential matchup:

Not since 1972 have we been presented with two such painfully inadequate candidates. When Election Day came that year, I could not bring myself to vote for either George McGovern or Richard Nixon. I stayed home.

He doesn't recommend repeating that voter behavior, for this reason: the threat of nuclear war. We need to vote for the candidate who will resist our enemies.


Thursday, June 05, 2008


The blog turns six today. Check out my musings in last year's blogiversary post.


Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Give War A Chance

At WSJ, Bret Stephens describes how insurgencies get crushed, citing three examples.

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Obama The Democratic Nominee?

I'll believe it when they hold the actual votes at the convention in Denver. Maybe I've been watching too much Lost and Heroes, but I'm not ready to rule out some freaky plot twist between now and then. Those superdelegates' promises aren't written in stone - they can change their minds as much as they want between now and then.

Update: In The Agora has a nice visual commentary. Note the comments.


No Recession In New York City

Here's something mentioned in a Bloomberg story on that recent crane collapse in NYC:

In the past eight years, New York City has experienced an unprecedented construction boom, with $29 billion of building forecast for 2009, an 83 percent increase from $16.4 billion in 2000, according to the New York Building Congress, an association of developers, architects and vendors.

It's Bush's fault.


Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Guerre Contre Parler

The War on Speech claims Brigitte Bardot, who has to pay $25,000 in fines and damages for alleged inhumane treatment of sheep, the main course in the Muslim feast of Aid el-Kebir.


Neil Young Crusades For More Electric Cars

Nice idea - but what, pray tell, will be generating the electricity these cars run on?


Don't Mess With The Bunny

Check out this animated video.


Sign Of The Apocalypse

Robert Byrd votes against pork.


Monday, June 02, 2008

Non-Energy Policy In Kansas

A Rush Limbaugh caller tells the tale of a certain governor standing in the way of energy (and job) creation:

Hey, I want to talk about our governor out here, Governor Kathleen Sebelius, who James Carville last year said should be at the top of the list for running mate for Barack Obama; which also would be a white women. So probably -- instead of Hillary, he can always grab Kathleen. Well, in the last two months Kathleen has blocked a coal-fired plant that was going to be a three-and-a-half-billion-dollar investment in western Kansas, which is suffering, and the health department approved the plan. She vetoed the plan on her own, and on top of that, there was an oil company out of Texas -- Hyperion, you can do a word search -- that was going to put a $10 billion oil refinery in my county, and they said because Kathleen Sebelius just flippantly used carbon emissions and global warming as her reason for rejecting the coal-powered plant -- even though it met federal regulations -- they said they were not going to come to Kansas and put in $10 billion, so we lost $14 billion.

Rush has links to Topeka Capital-Journal articles on those two stories - scroll to bottom of page.

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The Propaganda Of Style

Bryan Kaplan poses an intriguing theory:

Religious architecture and art were to medieval feudalism what advertising and commercialism are to modern capitalism: A rather effective way to build support for the status quo using aesthetics instead of argument. My claim, in short, is that Notre Dame played the same role during the Middle Ages that fashion magazines play today. Notre Dame was not an argument for feudalism, and Elle is not an argument for capitalism. But both are powerful ways to make regular people buy into the system.

Follow the link and you get a better picture of his idea:

Less than a decade ago, I drove from former West Germany to former East Germany, and was struck by how much more beautiful the West was. Houses in the West had flower boxes. Houses in the East did not. I reflected that the aesthetic gap between West and East used to be vastly greater. And I recalled how people I knew who toured the Soviet bloc were more likely to sadly describe the "greyness" of communist life than the machine guns at the border.

The upshot is that the private pursuit of beauty in the West had a striking externality. Every time a West German put a flower box in his window, he was making capitalism look prettier than socialism. And while intellectuals may say they couldn't care less about such things, I suspect that sheer aesthetics changed a lot of minds about East versus West.

(Link via Sully)

Update: The Notre Dame example is off the mark. Pretty cathedrals do positive PR for Christianity, not feudalism. Although during the time of a cathedral's construction feudalism might get some negative PR among the serfs forced to pay the bill.


Meet The New Boss, Same As Our Boss

Nicholas Sarkozy has taken George W. Bush's path to the Dark Side (emphasis added):

How does one go from a 53% electoral victory to a 20% approval rating in one year?


What his first year in office teaches us – America's presidential candidates take note – is that the way to become the most unpopular of presidents is to take all sides on every issue. By talking like a reformer, Mr. Sarkozy has displeased the partisans of the status quo, and by failing to undertake the reforms he proclaims, he's also disappointed the partisans of change.

Bush and Sarkozy were both elected to fix stuff, and they've largely failed to deliver. Voters don't tolerate turncoats.

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Nonstory Of The Day

French Minister: Iran Continues Nuclear Weapons Program

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Blogging the Qur'an: Sura 27, "The Ant"

Robert Spencer has the installment here. We learn, among other things, that King Solomon was able to communicate with birds and ants.

Click the "Koran" label to see all my posts on this series.

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Sunday, June 01, 2008

Lost - Season Four Finale

(Episode: There's No Place Like Home, Parts 2 and 3. Spoilers Ahead.)

The apparent demise of Michael and Jin was a huge letdown. I am just sick and tired and weary of this show killing off major characters - especially some of the more fascinating ad promising ones like like Jin and Eko. And Charlie last season, right when the dude was finally getting his head on straight. That is the one scar on this episode.

I'm glad they didn't kill off Lapidus. I made my prediction out of sheer cynicism, that they would waste the best of the second-tier cast the way they wasted Eko. The other three survivors of his recon team are now stuck on the relocated island. Ghost buster Miles liks it there; through his paranormal talent he is quite probably learning all sorts of interesting stuff from the island's dead. He may also be in tune with the island intelligence as Locke is. Charlotte has a mysterious past that involves the island. Daniel will go bat-happy when and if he ever discovers the Orchid Station's experiments in actual physical time travel.

Speaking of which, evidently the Orchid station was built on top of a previously existing installation, the icebox with the island-teleporting device. It would seem that DHARMA wanted to permanently block access to that area for some reason. I wonder if the time travel chamber can be fixed...

The flash-forwards did a masterful job of tying the previous flash-forwards together, except for explaining how the Oceanic settlement package could have been big enough for Sun to buy out out dad's company - maybe she got some money from Hurley. It'll be interesting to find out what she wants from Widmore.

We learn that Locke will eventually get off the island and contact Jack, Kate and Walt, at the very least. Officially, he is dead from a suicide, but we don't really believe that, do we? There are two possibilities. One is that Widmore, or some other nefarious sort with greedy eyes on the island, had him killed. The other is that Locke is not dead - his death was staged, probably with Ben's assistance. Anyone remember when the Professor used curare to make Gilligan appear dead to a tribe of pesky Pacific islanders?

Locke looks a lot like Lex Luthor in that coffin. (Say that fast three times.)

Ben says the Oceanic Six plus Locke have to go back to the island. (Does "all of you" also include Walt? That is unclear.) Ben is most probably communicating the wishes of the island/Jacob. Claire comes to Kate in a dream and says Aaron must not go back to the island. What gives?

Good to see Desmond's reunion with Penny. Now she's got him and Lapidus in hiding. I hope she is learning a lot about her dad's evil doings.

When the island disappeared, it took the tine neighboring island with it. Did it also scoop up the freighter wreckage?

Did anyone expect Locke to be the one to originate the idea that anyone who left the island would have to lie in order to protect those remaining? Anyone expect that he would become the new leader of The Others? Does this mean that the Others and the Lostaways might achieve some sort of peaceful coexistence? One might hope for such if Locke had a stellar track record of getting along with his fellow crash survivors.

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