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Posted by: llane
This is my car, a 1982 Honda Civic 1300FE. A piece of history.

It's got 188,000 miles on it. About 2,500 miles ago, they told me it wasn't safe to drive. It still gets 42 miles per gallon. And it's all real metal. Not plastic.

We forget the past. The auto industry would have us believe that a new, expensive hybrid engine is necessary to get this kind of mileage.

But back in 1982, we'd had eight years of oil boycotts and "shortages", and we were tired of importing oil from the Middle East. So Detroit built more efficient cars, because that's what people wanted. Car size shrunk, mileage went up.

Times changed, cars got bigger and mileage went down, because that's what the consumers wanted.

Now a hybrid getting 40 miles a gallon is a cool, expensive, trendy, subsidized thing. But my car isn't any of these things. On those rare visits to the gas station, maybe someone might learn a bit of mobile history from me.
Category: Current Events
Posted by: llane
No, I'm not an archaeologist. But the Discovery Channel's new documentary "The Lost Tomb of Jesus" just gets my goat. And not just because a BBC documentary and the Sunday Times already did this a decade ago, or that the 1980 findings of archaeologist Amos Kloner (who says the tomb proves nothing) provide the basis for most of the claims. Not just because blogging itself is influencing the issue this time.

Big questions are being asked everywhere from tabloids to...well...tabloid television.

Could the tomb found in Talpiot, Israel really be the tomb of Jesus and his family? Did Jesus have a wife and son? Was the wife Mary Magdelene? (Go read the Da Vinci Code in any of its 44 language translations.) Are these Jesus' bones? If they are, does that mean he is buried there?

If he is, does that mean the Resurrection is a sham? or does it increase faith in Jesus because it provides material proof of his existence?

We're so missing the point here. The divinity of Jesus, and his resurrection, are beliefs that millions of people hold. The historical facts of Jesus are not the foundation of that belief. Christianity itself is the fact at the foundation, and the element that influences both faith and the course of history.

If the tomb can be proven somehow (and I seriously doubt it) to actually be that of Jesus and assorted other bodies, it shouldn't make any difference to the faith. Material evidence is, by definition, not required for faith.

I'm all in favor of scrambling around in archaeology. Archaeology is cool. But don't fool yourself for one minute that science can be used to prove anything but scientific fact (and in this case likely not even that). If science had the power to truly undermine faith, we would not have the ongoing argument of Western Civilization between faith and reason (current iteration: Darwinism vs Creationism). In this case, as Amos Kloner himself noted, it's just about profit, not truth.

Category: Musings
Posted by: llane
"This crippling of individuals I consider the worst evil of capitalism. Our whole educational system suffers from this evil. An exaggerated competitive attitude is inculcated into the student, who is trained to worship acquisitive success as a preparation for his future career."

-- Albert Einstein, Why Socialism? (1949)
Posted by: llane
Yes, I know, the "intelligence" for the Iraq War came from them, and Blair got them into the war, but I always liked their strategy.

I have been against the Iraq war from the beginning. (Just thought I'd better say that, not that I could ever run for President, having been born in Britain rather than here.) I am anti-war in general anyway.

However, I have a natural fascination with military history, and always loved stories of strategy. I like to see the big plays on the big board. When Iraq was invaded, the British military advised a strategy that had worked for them many times since World War I. Hit the soft spots first, get the diverse areas occupied and quiet, then go for the areas of population concentration. Take the capital last, after all the rebels have run there to regroup.

During World War II, Churchill advised just such a strategy against the fascists. First, secure North Africa. Then Italy. Then the Balkans. This last didn't happen. From the beginning, two forces opposed it. The first was Stalin, who demanded a second front in France. Roosevelt didn't want the Soviet Union shunning the rest of the world after the war, which was a possibility if pressure wasn't lifted on the Russian front. The second force was the U.S. military, which wanted to head for Berlin, the big city, the capital, ASAP. Go for the area of strength and knock it out! That's American strategy.

The British, based on many experiences within their own empire (some of which took almost a century to learn), recommended taking the weaker villages of Iraq first, gradually closing in on Baghdad. But the US instead choose a multi-pronged approach with an emphasis on crushing Baghdad and nailing Hussein. The result, as could have been predicted, was an embattled occupying force surrounding by enemies. The Brits have been here before, and they have no intention of staying, though they say they're just drawing down troops. Can't blame them a bit.

I do find it interesting, however, that they will be deploying more troops to Afghanistan. There is some question whether part of the Iraq decision is to stop the battle on two fronts, since the war for Afghanistan is far from over, although it has failed to capture the attention of Americans lately.
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