Discuss amongst yourselves

The more you keep us down

The secular extremists, the left-wing academics, the legacy media, the lavender lobby and professional anti-Christian activists might want to keep this in mind:

Chinese Christians outnumber members of the Communist Party

During the Cultural Revolution, Mao Zedong’s China turned on itself, torturing and killing hundreds of thousands of people. But the seeds were sown for an unexpected upsurge in Christianity.

In a social revolution that has prompted a heavy-handed response from the Government, religion is spreading through town and countryside and Chinese communities abroad.

Protestantism and Catholicism are among the approved faiths, the others being Buddhism, Taoism and Islam.

Buddhism and Taoism claim most worshippers but the state-sanctioned churches count up to 35 million followers. More significant are the underground or “house” churches, which are believed to have up to 100 million members, many more than are members of the Communist Party.

I’ve met any number of Christian workers here in China and the crop is indeed bountiful. One man is a Chinese American who returns each year on a mission trip, and believe me the man is fruitful. Others come here as English teachers and quietly preach the word.

Nero couldn’t do it. Julian the Apostate couldn’t do it. Diocletian couldn’t do it. Lenin and his Soviet successors couldn’t do it. Mao and his Chinese Communists couldn’t do it. As Jesus Christ said nearly two millenia ago, all the gates of Hell will not prevail against his church.

It is the temptations offered by the good things of the world that weaken one’s soul. Evil and oppression, on the other hand, serve to strengthen one’s convictions to cling to the rock of salvation. What could be more terrible than the rise and rule of the Antichrist? And what could offer a greater testimony to the timeless truth of the Word than witnessing that, except the Second Coming itself?

Mixed Feelings

Michael Yon writes of American soldiers who are not American citizens:

Across Iraq, I keep running across American troops who are not Americans. Many of these soldiers and Marines are working towards attaining U.S. citizenship while in uniform, under fire, in Iraq.

SPC Saroth Muth (Cambodia)
SPC David Floutier (England)
SPC Hugo Juarez (Mexico)
SPC Evans Martin (Antigua)
SPC Octavio Rodriguez (Mexico)
SGT Ringsey Khin (Cambodia)
SPC Abdel Phipps (Jamaica)
SGT Collin Campbell (Trinidad)
SPC Bosco Jerez (Nicaragua)
SPC Jose Alvarado (Honduras)
SPC Moises Medina (Mexico)

SGT Walter Gaya, from Argentina, was scheduled to be sworn in with this group, but he was recently wounded in combat and could not attend the ceremony.

I have no doubt that these are all fine young men, the sort of energetic immigrants who quickly adapted to American culture and society and helped the nation achieve what today is its preeminent place in the world.

On the other hand, I can’t help but think of Rome’s foreign legions and at what point in Roman history they became common. Of course, if we were following the Roman example precisely, we’d have an army full of Saudis occupying Iraq.

Mr. Yon’s online magazine is a great blog, by the way. It makes for very interesting and sobering reading.

As I said

France begins its expulsions:

The gulf between British and French treatment of preachers of hatred and violence was thrown sharply into focus yesterday when France announced the summary expulsion of a dozen Islamists between now and the end of August.

A tough new anti-terrorism package was unveiled by Nicolas Sarkozy, the interior minister and a popular centre-Right politician. His proposals reflect French determination to act swiftly against extremists in defiance of the human rights lobby, which is noticeably less vocal in France than in Britain.

Imams and their followers who fuel anti-western feeling among impressionable young French Muslims will be rounded up and returned to their countries of origin, most commonly in France’s case to its former north African colonies. Mr Sarkozy also revealed that as many as 12 French mosques associated with provocative anti-western preaching were under surveillance. Imams indulging in inflammatory rhetoric will be expelled even if their religious status is recognised by mainstream Muslim bodies.

Those who have assumed French citizenship will not be protected from deportation. Mr Sarkozy said he will reactivate measures, “already available in our penal code but simply not used”, to strip undesirables of their adopted nationality.

I don’t believe it would be possible or right for the USA to strip individuals of their citizenship, but it’s clear that there’s a lot more on the table than most people yet realize.

France is, well, France, and as I wrote before, they have a long and not very pretty history of dealing very harshly with minorities they deem undesirable. I am not surprised that they have taken the lead with these steps and if there are more attacks in Europe, I expect other countries, beginning with Germany and Switzerland, to quickly follow suit.

That’s no planet

I think we all know what this is:

A newfound object in our solar system’s outskirts may be larger than any known world after Pluto, scientists said today.

It also has a moon.

Designated as 2003 EL61, the main object in the two-body system is 32 percent as massive as Pluto and is estimated to be about 70 percent of Pluto’s diameter.

Other news reports that the object could be twice as big as Pluto are false, according to two astronomers who found the object in separate studies and another expert who has analyzed the data.

Da-da-da-dum Da-da-dum Da-da….

The wisdom of the ancients

Marcus Aurelius writes in his meditations:

From my great-grandfather, not to have frequented public schools, and to have had good teachers at home, and to know that on such things a man should spend liberally.

Considering that men of erudition had figured this out nearly two thousand years ago, it’s appalling that anyone is still willing to consider this a matter for reasonable debate.

The public schools may have the today’s experts on their side. The homeschools are supported by the deeds and words of mankind’s greatest thinkers. On which side do you wish to place your bet?

Mailvox: tomato, tomahto

LP does not think yesterday’s post was boring:

that post about Asian-eastern hot chics or if they are not hot chics…fun post. everytime I check your blog it is always ineresting! well, the latest Gwen stefani cd talks about harra ju ku girls and Japan street fashion…Japanese street fashion IS NOT IMPRESSIVE at all…

Actually, I think it is quite impressive in a blink-your-eyes-and-shake-your-head way. Being an occasional victim of fashion in the past, I tend to find the vagaries of human adornment to be more interesting than, say, the debate over which team of engineers can cause its human-occupied vehicle to travel marginally faster across the earth’s surface.

Please note that I didn’t say I find them to be very interesting, only less completely boring than numerous other human bizarrities. Every culture is freaky in its own way; the Japanese, having benefitted from centuries of near isolation, are freakier and thus more interesting than most. Would William Gibson’s novels be half as spellbinding if they were set in a futuristic Scotland or Lithuania? I don’t think so.

As for Mrs. Rossdale, she looked fantastic in that video with the little Japanese cheerleaders. Not a bad pop song, either.

Mean girls

The New York Times wonders where its friends went:

But unlike those books, or this year’s “The Friend Who Got Away,” an anthology of essays by well-known women writers, Ms. Lippman’s entry is not segregated in the “relationships” section of the bookstore. It is first and foremost a gripping mystery novel, one that Ms. Lippman notes is more likely to reach plenty of readers – men as well as women – who until now have given little thought to the emotional attachments among girls and women.The giddy beginnings and heartbreaking endings of all her failed friendships haunt Ms. Lippman, 46, whether she was the one who walked away unceremoniously or the one abandoned and bewildered. “I’ve been in both situations,” Ms. Lippman said. “I imagine most women have.”

So why is it, Ms. Lippman wonders, that female friendships, so deeply felt, often end so shamefully?

The logical assumption would be that both parties are women. It mystifies me that this sort of thing is even considered a matter for debate. No one questions the fact that men are more murderous and physically dangerous than women, so why is it at all controversial to assert that women are nastier and more psychologically dangerous than men?

I suppose the absence of a psychological body count would suffice to account for this, but still, one need only look at the ways in which male and female friendships differ to understand why one sort is more likely to last than the other. Female friendships burn hotter and are more intimate than the closest male friendships, but as everyone who’s had a romantic relationship go bad knows, even serious intimacy is perfectly capable of leading to bitter hatred and mutual loathing.

One difference that I have noted is that while men tend to treat their friends better than everyone else, women often seem to treat their friends worse than they treat complete strangers. I don’t know if the idea is that closeness is an justification to reveal the unpleasant aspects of one’s character or if female friends are expected to cut each other slack that they would not give anyone else. Either way, it’s a recipe for disaster in the long term.

One thing of which I’m sure is that friendship is not about doing nice things and building up a store of gratitude in the other party. I know several women who not only visibly keep score of this sort of thing, but actually make a hobby of telling uninterested third parties about the saintly deeds they are doing and how much the recipients appreciate them. Weird. Friendship has nothing to do with being nice per se, it’s more about continually building up trust between two individuals.

I have been fortunate to have had the same friends for decades. I am not blind to their flaws nor are they blind to mine, but we shrug our shoulders, accept them as given and go on. Without this indifference and mutual acceptance, a friendship is ultimately doomed.

Unfortunately, this phenomenon Ms Lippman laments is not of complete irrelevance to men, however much we might wish it to be, as I suspect that some aspects of the difficulties encountered within male-female relationships may stem in part from the problematic history of earlier female friendships. I suspect that a man who can teach his daughter how to be a good friend may be laying a foundation for her to have a successful marriage one day.

Bow wow wow

A list of kenminsei:

Unlike Akita, Ibaraki is famous for its unattractive women. Mito city, in particular, is said to have the worst looking girls in Japan, just edging out Sendai and Nagoya in the ugliness rankings.

Given what I endured in Tokyo, the flowers of Ibaraki must be frightening indeed. In six months of reasonably dedicated bar and nightclub-hopping combined with daily classes on campus, I encountered a grand total of three genuinely beautiful Japanese girls, while you could easily count five times that number of gaijin girls in a single night at the Lexington Queen.

(That’s not exactly a fair comparison, since the Queen was a Roundeye model hangout, but still….)

Anyhow, I found these amusing. My Japanese was borderline functional by the time I left, but I’ve forgotten all of it now, barring one or two memorable little phrases. Asita no asa wa, kohee o nomimasen-ka?

I couldn’t resist telling my boss that this was a very polite and respectful way to greet a high-ranking Japanese executive when he flew over for some meetings I’d set up for him. Fortunately, the Hitachi vice-president he was addressing turned out to have a great sense of humor. The guy took us to a ridiculously expensive restaurant which served the most disgusting food I have ever eaten – it was all super deep sea stuff that glowed in the dark and whatnot – and I still remember him grinning slyly as he paid by slipping his business card to the kimono-clad proprietress.

“Japanese-ah credit card, heh heh heh.”

A certain sense of accomplishment

As I was cruising around the newsgroups – never you mind why – I happened to notice a certain novel had been made available in .pdb format by someone using the unlikely nomenclature ripXrip. To be sure, it was merely one of several hundred ebooks that had been uploaded to the site, in between The Romance Reader Top 100 List [html].rar and Theodore Sturgeon – Shottle Bop [v.1.0][html].rar, but I felt rather pleased at my discovery all the same.

After all, people generally don’t go to the trouble to scan and pass around a book unless they think someone is going to want to read it. I am well aware that in the SFWA, I am in the extreme minority with this point of view, but then, let’s face it, in that organization, I’m in the extreme minority with regards to almost every aspect of my life.

Rip away. Read away. If you like it, tell someone about it. If you really like it, go pick up the dead tree version.