Pole dancing and the Family Circus. Seriously.

From the “I’m really, really not making this up” category, I offer two pole dancing related items (What, only two?).

First, a Family Circus cartoon that poked fun at pole dancing.  Let’s just say that Bill Keane must have been having an off day.

family circus pole dancing

Side note: Family Circus is a mini-running joke in our house.   We’re pretty picky about comics and let’s just say that it does not meet our standards.  My youngest daughter bought a Family Circus book for my last birthday as a joke, but my 80 year old dad started reading it and was laughing out loud.  Watching him enjoy it was far funnier than the comics themselves, so I had them give it to him for his birthday.

Second, in case you missed the news, you can get a Pole Dancer Doll for Girls.  The lowest common denominator just gets lower.  Quote of the day:

God owes Sodom and Gomorrah an apology.

P.S. On a marginally related note, while researching for this post I found a series of Pearls Before Swine comics that poked fun at Family Circus.  Good stuff.

Wow, an email from the White House!

Just got this today from Nancy-Anne DeParle at the White House (whoever she is) with the title of Help the Vice President debunk this myth. That was odd because the only corresponence I’ve had with the White House was to point out flaws of the ObamaCare program.  But I’m a loyal citizen and love to debunk myths.  So let’s give it a read:

 Dear Friend,

Our latest Reality Check video features Vice President Joe Biden addressing the biggest whopper of all: that our health insurance system works just fine and Americans don’t care about reform. Nothing could be further from the truth.

So we’re trying something new. You can help the Vice President debunk this myth by uploading your own video on why reform matters to you. This is an opportunity for Americans of all backgrounds and situations to make the case for reform in your own words.

Watch the Vice President’s video and then respond with your own:

A Reality Check from the Vice President

Need some help? We also have a new online quiz to help set the record straight about health insurance reform. Find out what’s in reform for somebody like you by answering a few questions.

What does reform mean if you already have insurance? What if you don’t? What does it mean if you’re young? If you’re a senior? If you have children?

Take the quiz and then share it — simple tools like this are a great way to cut through the noise and get the facts about reform: www.WhiteHouse.gov/realitycheck/quiz

Thank you,

Nancy-Ann DeParle
Director, White House Office of Health Reform

P.S. No matter your age, where you work, whether you have insurance or not, you’ll be surprised at how much you’ll get out of health insurance reform. But don’t just take my word for it — take the quiz: www.WhiteHouse.gov/realitycheck/quiz

Again, according to Nancy-Ann, this is the myth:

our health insurance system works just fine and Americans don’t care about reform.

Here’s my debunking: That is a myth because it is a logical fallacy known as a strawman argument — i.e., no significant group of people is advancing that position.  None come to mind.  There, it is debunked, and I didn’t even need a video or to use government resources to do so.

Here’s more debunking: I care plenty about reform.  Here’s a post from mid-2007.  I just don’t think that an unprecedented power grab by the Federal Government is going to be an effective reform.  I would love to see reform regarding tort laws, insurance sales, tax benefits to consumers and more!  Can we talk about that?


Is the death penalty a deterrent?  Of course it is.

Another provocative one from the Wintery Knight: His guidelines on courtship for Christian men and women.  I would tweak it just a bit myself, but overall I find it to be very solid, biblical and insightful. 

I liked the Bumbling Genius’ take on the police officer who is unfamiliar with or indifferent to the First Amendment (“It ain’t America no more”).  I think the man’s sign was unproductive, but the officer’s reaction and the non-reaction of the media and the President are very troubling and hypocritical.

President Obama is bearing false witness about other bearing false witness.  He seems shocked that we’d claim that his plans include government funded abortions, even though that has always been his claim and more honest politicians concede the point.

Cheney calls Democrats soft on national security and slams Obama’s politicized CIA probe — Yep.

The Telephone Game Part II

phone.jpgAs I wrote back in 2007, many people are familiar with the telephone game often used with kids to show the challenges and importance of clear communication.  It usually works with a message being given to one person, who has one chance to pass it along to another person.  By the time it gets to the end the message is hilariously (?) garbled.

Sometimes skeptics will use the telephone game analogy to criticize the writings of the Bible, and of the Gospels in particular.  Their premise is that the message was transmitted orally for at least a couple decades (and, by their often convoluted reasoning, many decades), so of course it got changed many times before it was put to paper. 

But that game is different from how the oral transmissions that make up the Bible in many key ways:

  1. The Bible wasn’t translated just one-on-one.  There were many witnesses and many people who heard and recounted the events.  People would catch errors instantly.
  2. They didn’t get just one try.  In the telephone game you only get one chance, but in real life – and especially with the New Testament – Jesus probably gave the same message many times, and people repeated it many times with overlapping audiences.  Again, errors would be caught quickly.
  3. Transmitters were well trained in memorizing stories.  People in that culture – especially Jewish men – were trained to memorize things well.  Many Muslims memorize the whole Koran even in our times. 
  4. The message being transmitted wasn’t insignificant.  These people thought they had the words of life, and they worked hard to communicate it carefully.  And they often risked their lives to communicate this message. A good analogy I heard was that if a group of cancer patients went to hear someone describe how they could be cured, they would be inclined to pay close attention and to collectively document the information accurately.
  5. The New Testament writers had the benefit of the Holy Spirit to guide them.  I don’t think the Holy Spirit is actively involved in too many instances of the regular telephone game.
  6. Paul’s letters and others were firsthand accounts of events, so no oral tradition was involved.  And we can be highly confident that the original writings were accurately transmitted to us.

A more detailed perspective is available here.

I was surprised to see an Assistant Professor of Religious Studies note that he actually uses this game to teach college students about the Gospels (a link came to my site from his blog via the “related posts” section).  I didn’t realize his background before my first comment, then read more after he responded.  Here’s my latest comment:


I’ve used the telephone game to teach the gospels a number of times, but it troubles me.

A college prof thinks that is a good way to teach anything? Sad.

On the one hand, of course teaching the gospels by playing the telephone game makes perfect sense: what we have in the New Testament today does not reflect what actually happened in 0 to 35 C.E.

Hmmm . . . if you know what “really” happened perhaps you could enlighten us as to what that was and how you “know” it.

Second, even after they were written down, the stories were copied by scribes who altered the text—textual transmission is just as subject to changes as oral transmission.

False. Even pagan skeptics like Bart Ehrman concede that we know with > 99% confidence what the originals said. The system works, that’s why most Bibles footnote that the ending of Mark and the story of the woman at the well were not in the earliest manuscripts.

Ehrman just makes up a new rule that says that if every copy wasn’t perfect then the originals couldn’t have been inspired (we call that “making God in your own image”).

If you take the two most divergent manuscript streams you still get the same thing: Orthodox Christianity.

However, it is worth nothing that textual transmission may leave alternate editions that permit comparison—to my knowledge historians won’t be able to compare existing texts to oral tellings until they have time machines.

Of course. That’s why you should always assume the opposite of anything ever recorded by anyone.

One can illustrate this point by playing the telephone game: read just a single verse from one of the gospels and have the students pass the message up and down the rows by whispering it to one other.

As noted in my first comment, that is not how the Gospels were transmitted. In theory, you could go to a professor of religious studies and they’d enlighten you as to how it really worked.

So, for instance, we shouldn’t read the gospel of Matthew with an eye to the extent to which it preserves the original message of Jesus, but with an eye to the problems his community was facing some 40 to 60 years after Jesus died, and how he hoped to resolve those problems by writing up some new propaganda.

First, that dating is all wrong. It is easy to demonstrate that the most logical case for the NT datings has the Gospels being written before 70 A.D. 

Second, it is hard to imagine someone actually reading the Gospels and coming to that conclusion. Over 25% of the Gospels focus on the Passion Week. How does that represent some solution to an unrelated problem?

The problem is that we are sinners in need of a Savior and Jesus is that Savior. His death on the cross paid the price for us.

You might want to trade in the religious studies gig for fiction writing.

Thoughts on health care

It isn’t like all the projections of ObamaCare are hypotheticals.  You can already see what government controlled health care looks like in pockets of the U.S. 

And just who “created this mess?”  But our “bipartisan” President insists that it was those who oppose him, so of course he wants to shut them up.  But the facts get in the way of his claim (Hat tip: LCB):

Health care experts across the spectrum can agree that there are three main problems with the health insurance industry in America today:  community rating, which forbids insurance companies from charging premiums based on an individual consumer’s health status; the practice of defensive medicine, under which doctors order numerous costly and often unnecessary tests to cover themselves against the possibility of malpractice lawsuits; and employer-based coverage.  Each of these problems, which together contribute most to the “mess” in health care delivery, were all either brought into existence, or are perpetuated by Democrats.

Obama & Co. continually present the fale dichotomy that you either support their plan or the status quo.  But many have sought changes in health care for years (e.g., tort reform, insurance law changes, tax incentives for the insured and not the employers, etc.).  But guess who fought those ideas?

Yes, there is a better way, and no, it isn’t ObamaCare or KennedyCare (although those are aptly named, since they obviously care(d) mostly about themselves).

Ken Hoffman, a humor writer for the Houston Chronicle, received this letter about the Department of Motor Vehicles.  Read it carefully and ask yourself if you would like to assign more responsibility to inflexible organizations with customer service ethics such as this one, or less. 

At a place such as Target, we never experience long lines.  They constantly watch the queues, and if they get more than two deep a new register is opened.  Yet the DMV, which has very predictable demand, can’t find a way to staff appropriately or offer flexible in forms of payment. 

Also consider that they charge a fee for online registrations, even though that saves everyone tremendous amounts of time and money, and which is a green strategy as well (you don’t have to drive to get your renewal).

I didn’t know who else to contact about this most frustrating experience. My driver’s license needs to be renewed. I checked online and they said I could not do it online, so I headed out to the Gessner location. This is one of the most dreaded things I do, and I felt very prepared, having a book and other reading material plus a bottle of water. I started to take my checkbook, but then thought that there was no way they would take checks with all the potential bad checks being written, so had my debit and credit card ready.

When I arrived, the line was out the door in the 100-degree heat. There was a sign that said “No Food or Water” and “No debit or credit cards—cash or check or money order only”. Wow, that shocked me, so only having $12 in my wallet, I headed out to look for an ATM or grocery store to get cash back. There was a CVS at the corner and there were signs on every cash register that they would only give $10 cash back. I talked to a sales clerk about why and he said they have 100 people every day come in for cash for DPS and would run out if they gave out more. Fortunately, I must have looked trustworthy or desperate, and he gave me $20 cash back, so I would have enough for the $24 renewal fee.

I headed back, resigned to the fact I would be waiting for a while. The line snaked through the office with no seats in sight. I was growing increasingly angry about this inefficient system when a nice woman exited and said to us all, “Good luck—I’ve been here for over three hours, and I work 10 hours a day, and my feet are killing me.” I left in frustration.

Here’s my bottom-line question:

What does Mayor Bill White do to renew his license?

What does Rick Perry do?

What about the CEOs of JP Morgan Chase or Shell Oil?

Or, for that matter, Lynn Wyatt?

What does Ken do?

Help! I am not that patient and don’t understand why this system for all these years has not improved one bit.

— Suzy LaForge,Houston

Why drag Lynn Wyatt into this? The DPS office is supposed to be torture. It’s run by the State. It’s socialism! After three hours in there, you’ll be wishing for death panels. Here’s how I beat the system. I drag a lawn chair and iPod, and I get to the DPS office an hour before it opens. It’s like the old days, waiting to buy concert tickets. It’s usually cool in the early morning, and you meet a wonderful bunch of people who also dread the DPS office.


If you are going to have a productive discussion about predestination, it is important to have a clear understanding of what each party means by the term free will. Stan’s son does a nice job of summarizing it in the link.

Remember, it was acceptable for Ted Kennedy to joke about Mary Jo Kopechne’s death but if you remind people of it then you are crass and tasteless.

And according to a writer on the Huffington Post , maybe Mary Jo would have thought her death was worth it all:

Still, ignorance doesn’t preclude a right to wonder. So it doesn’t automatically make someone (aka, me) a Limbaugh-loving, aerial-wolf-hunting NRA troll for asking what Mary Jo Kopechne would have had to say about Ted’s death, and what she’d have thought of the life and career that are being (rightfully) heralded.

Who knows — maybe she’d feel it was worth it.

Or who knows? Maybe she would have become a Senator.

Here’s the best eulogy for Ted that I’ve seen.  Very thorough. 

Apparently Michael Behe is just too scary for some people. As he notes, perhaps we aren’t as free and/or as brave as we thought.

But remember, Expelled! just made all that stuff up about scientific and academic freedom. All those scientific types just want the facts out there.

Watch the trailer for Blood Money. Looks like a great expose of the abortion industry and those destroyed by it.

Go here to get on a list for updates.

Euthyphro’s Dilemma

Greg Koukl of Stand to Reason has thorough response to Euthyphro’s Dilemma, which asks,

Is an act right because God says it’s so, or does God say it’s so because it’s right?

The question is used by skeptics, such as the late Bertrand Russell, to posit that Christianity must be false because either choice would disagree with it.

Koukl points out how it is actually a false dilemma, because it ignores a third option.

This is precisely why the moral argument for God’s existence is such a good one. The awareness of morality leads to God much as the awareness of falling apples leads to gravity. Our moral intuitions recognize the effect, but what is the adequate cause? If God does not exist, then moral terms are actually incoherent and our moral intuitions are nonsense.

Christians need not fear Plato on this score. When Euthyphro’s dilemma is applied to Christianity, it mischaracterizes the Biblical view of God. Goodness is neither above God nor merely willed by Him. Instead, ethics are grounded in His holy character. Moral notions are not arbitrary and given to caprice. They are fixed and absolute, grounded in God’s immutable nature.

Further, no outside definition of piety is necessary because morality is known directly through the faculty of moral intuition. God’s laws express His character and–if our moral intuitions are intact–we immediately recognize those Laws as good.

This doesn’t mean Christianity is true, only that it’s is not handicapped by Plato’s challenge to Euthyphro.