Bad formatting (Updated)

Sorry about the bad formatting of that last post. I’ll have to do some checking when I have the chance. Something is amok with Markdown.

OK, it seems to be working now. I turned off another feature that had suddenly broken. There was also an Apache-related memory leak. It’s hard to say just where, though, because Apache does so much. Chances are, it was somewhere in the general area of PHP.

No, there’s still that memory leak. It’s pretty severe. I’m monitoring things now to see which process is causing it.

Stardate 200905282308: Memory usage has been normal. The site is still up. I think it might work.

Nope. Went down again. Turns out that Mysql is freezing up. After getting back to real life for a few days, I’ve repaired the Mysql tables with the server offline. We’ll see what happens now.

For Joe:

# mysql --version
mysql  Ver 14.12 Distrib 5.0.51a, for debian-linux-gnu (i486) using readline 5.2

I’m looking to see what updates there are in Debian.

A Simple Insight or Memorial Musings

I was speaking with a friend today about the way our society has lost appreciation for the role and responsibilities that a father and a mother have in raising the next generation within their own household. In that context, I mentioned something that I’ve known but never quite expressed. You probably know it already too, but I think it’s rather important, so I’ll try to articulate it here.

The special purpose of the United States in the world, as adopted by its founders, is to safeguard liberty — at least within our borders. That’s personal liberty, not the liberty of arbitrary groupings of people. Inasmuch as laws and regulations needed for our peaceful coexistence impinge upon our personal liberty, they are to be recognized as bad things. Let me emphasize that last part: bad things. Only their proven necessity can really justify their existence.

That’s how important liberty should be for Americans. The fact that many Americans would have no idea what I mean only underscores my main point, the simple insight I stumbled upon.

We also have this liberty: that we may be wrong, think wrongly, and say things that are wrong. Ideally, nobody can take that liberty away from me, because I am an American citizen. Unfortunately, there are quite a few people on both the Left and the Right who apparently want to take it away. Yet they, too, are at full liberty as citizens to be absolutely wrong. And I, of course, am at liberty to point out their error.

Why is the freedom to be wrong so important? Because it’s the same as the freedom to be right.

I know what is right, because I am instructed by the Word of God. Because I am an American citizen, I (should) have full freedom to think, to say, and to act in accordance with what is right. In this case, it’s freedom of religion, but it can apply to any matter of conscience. I am free to be right, because we are all free to be wrong. It’s the same freedom, because you may think I’m wrong. You can tell me why, but you can’t force me against the dictates of my conscience. The only possible exception to this arises with the laws or regulations proven absolutely necessary for our peaceful coexistence.

Unfortunately, some today are saying that full acceptance of immorality is required for peaceful coexistence in our land. That’s not true. Morality is a matter of conscience. Those who choose an immoral lifestyle have the freedom to be wrong, at least to the point where they demand participation in their immorality from their parents and superiors. (Parents and employers have the natural responsibility to enforce discipline according to their own morality. If you disagree, try using the first half of each day at work to call your long-distance relatives.) Likewise, those who choose a moral lifestyle for themselves have the freedom to be right, and to think, speak, and act accordingly — including criticism of those who are wrong.

The problem with all this is that there are some who disagree. They may do so. It’s America. However, there may be enough of them to change the laws and take away our freedom to be wrong (or right). It has already happened, to some extent. Though it be implemented by a majority, a word for the removal of freedom is tyranny. Tyranny is not an American virtue.

I thank God for blessing us with freedom through those who have given their lives and shed their blood for it. May we all appreciate this blessing, and understand that it comes at a price for every generation. We can pay for our freedom with vigilance and when necessary, with blood, or we can bow the neck and exchange our hard-earned freedom for the politician’s promise of security and peace.

Elected Reps, Hear Doc Asness

This article by a hedge fund manager offers a risky response to the Chicago-style political power plays that have been making “progress” in reforming the auto industry. (BTW, unless something changes drastically, I don’t see myself ever buying a GM or Chrysler product again, used or new.) The author’s words seem to be aimed at the President, but they should really be heard by the elected representatives in Congress, and in every state house. Those representatives are the ones we rely upon to provide the needed checks and balances, in this case.

In addition, the author writes something that every elected representative of the people (including the Senators, since the 17th amendment) should personally take to heart. He applies it to himself as a steward of other people’s money. However, the exact same principle also applies to those responsible for our taxes: the principle of stewardship.

Let’s be clear, it is the job and obligation of all investment managers, including hedge fund managers, to get their clients the most return they can. They are allowed to be charitable with their own money, and many are spectacularly so, but if they give away their clients’ money to share in the “sacrifice”, they are stealing.

He echoes the reported words of a congressman from the early 19th century, Davy Crockett. Like hedge-fund managers, let Congress be charitable with its own money, not with the taxes belonging to the people they represent. Also, let Congress see that this principle is not broken by the other two branches of government.

On an individual level, Christians are stewards too. However, the divine Owner of all our possessions has instructed us to be charitable with them, particularly in ways that “earn friends in heaven,” i.e., that correspond with faith in Jesus Christ. Congress has no similar imperative. Instead, its imperatives are delineated exactly by the Constitution.

The Freedom to Defend Self and Others

This is why the founders of our country included or assumed the individual right to keep and bear (carry) arms (weapons) in the constitution of the nation, and of each of the founding states.

Don’t be surprised if this non-massacre of college students doesn’t get the same duration of coverage in media and politics as the massacres that were not prevented by the heroic actions of armed individuals. This example demonstrates conclusively the benefits to society of this particular freedom. Unfortunately, there are some who would try to win the argument by depriving the public of information like this, rather than letting the fully-informed public form its own opinion based upon the facts.


I’m an on-demand listener of Issues, Etc., and recently heard this segment, in which Os Guinness, as guest, describes the problem of civility in public discourse. (I’ll try to embed the audio link below.) I suppose the problem is not civility, per se, but a lack of civility. He has a book out on that subject that may be worth reading. At least, I recommend that any Christian concerned about the civic duties of a citizen should at least listen to the IE segment linked above.

<embed src=”” width=”400″ height=”220″ bgcolor=”000000″ allowscriptaccess=”always” allowfullscreen=”false” flashvars=”file=”CCCCCC”&screencolor=”000000″/>

If you don’t usually like the talk radio format because you can’t stand listening to the bloviating of the uninformed, then you should try IE anyway. The guests generally do a fine job of describing the issue under discussion, and are usually “subject-matter experts” by vocation.

Guinness also referred to The Williamsburg Charter, something I hadn’t heard about before. When time permits, I’d like to read that too, because it seems Guinness has put his finger on a root problem for Christians in American society, and even in the wider world.

There’s a blog advertisement for IE that I’ve tried to include on The Plucked Chicken, but the Javascript in it produced some wacky behavior. So for now, you’ll just have to take my word for it that I enjoy learning and listenening on demand.

Psalm 37: A Psalm for Our Time

(From the New King James Version)

A Psalm of David.
Do not fret because of evildoers,
Nor be envious of the workers of iniquity.
For they shall soon be cut down like the grass,
And wither as the green herb.
Trust in the LORD, and do good;
Dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness.
Delight yourself also in the LORD,
And He shall give you the desires of your heart.
Commit your way to the LORD,
Trust also in Him,
And He shall bring it to pass.
He shall bring forth your righteousness as the light,
And your justice as the noonday.
Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for Him;
Do not fret because of him who prospers in his way,
Because of the man who brings wicked schemes to pass.
Cease from anger, and forsake wrath;
Do not fret — it only causes harm.
For evildoers shall be cut off;
But those who wait on the LORD,
They shall inherit the earth.
For yet a little while and the wicked shall be no more;
Indeed, you will look carefully for his place,
But it shall be no more.
But the meek shall inherit the earth,
And shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace.
The wicked plots against the just,
And gnashes at him with his teeth. The Lord laughs at him,
For He sees that his day is coming.
The wicked have drawn the sword
And have bent their bow,
To cast down the poor and needy,
To slay those who are of upright conduct.
Their sword shall enter their own heart,
And their bows shall be broken.
A little that a righteous man has
Is better than the riches of many wicked.
For the arms of the wicked shall be broken,
But the LORD upholds the righteous.
The LORD knows the days of the upright,
And their inheritance shall be forever.
They shall not be ashamed in the evil time,
And in the days of famine they shall be satisfied.
But the wicked shall perish;
And the enemies of the LORD,
Like the splendor of the meadows, shall vanish.
Into smoke they shall vanish away.
The wicked borrows and does not repay,
But the righteous shows mercy and gives.
For those blessed by Him shall inherit the earth,
But those cursed by Him shall be cut off.
The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD,
And He delights in his way.
Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down;
For the LORD upholds him with His hand.
I have been young, and now am old;
Yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken,
Nor his descendants begging bread.
He is ever merciful, and lends;
And his descendants are blessed.
Depart from evil, and do good;
And dwell forevermore.
For the LORD loves justice,
And does not forsake His saints;
They are preserved forever,
But the descendants of the wicked shall be cut off.
The righteous shall inherit the land,
And dwell in it forever.
The mouth of the righteous speaks wisdom,
And his tongue talks of justice.
The law of his God is in his heart;
None of his steps shall slide.
The wicked watches the righteous,
And seeks to slay him.
The LORD will not leave him in his hand,
Nor condemn him when he is judged.
Wait on the LORD,
And keep His way,
And He shall exalt you to inherit the land;
When the wicked are cut off, you shall see it.
I have seen the wicked in great power,
And spreading himself like a native green tree.
Yet he passed away, and behold, he was no more;
Indeed I sought him, but he could not be found.
Mark the blameless man, and observe the upright;
For the future of that man is peace.
But the transgressors shall be destroyed together;
The future of the wicked shall be cut off.
But the salvation of the righteous is from the LORD;
He is their strength in the time of trouble.
And the LORD shall help them and deliver them;
He shall deliver them from the wicked,
And save them,
Because they trust in Him.

Marriage Equality?

I’d mentioned the deceitful term “Committed Same-Gender Relationships.” Dr. Veith highlights “more language games,” another attempt to re-frame a moral issue to be more favorable to those who would like to change the relevant morality upon which our society is based. He quotes from the WaPo.

So when someone says “This is a civil rights issue,” pushing for “marriage equality,” my first question is this. Who is being denied marriage? Is it those under 18, who must have their parents’ written consent in many places (though ironically, parental consent is not required in every place for pregnant girls to abort their children)? Is it wards of the state, prison inmates, or those proven incompetent to manage the responsibilities of marriage?

Of course, the implied claim is that homosexuals are being denied marriage, which is patently false. There are many people who practice sinful lifestyles — even compulsively, who are allowed to marry. Mobsters, hucksters, thieves, liars, rebellious, abortionists, and yes, even compulsive adulterers and fornicators. I myself am an example of a hereditary sinner who has been afforded the privilege of marriage.

Persecution, Alive and Well

The land of Goshen was the best part of Egypt for herds of animals, so the family of Israel was settled there under Joseph’s administration. The other benefit was that it kept the family of Israel separate from the Egyptians, who considered the herding profession to be distasteful, or worse. It was a great blessing to the family of Israel that Joseph had accumulated such great power for the Egyptian government, because it meant they would flourish through a deep famine-wrought recession. Not long after Joseph died, things changed in Egypt, and the government became repressive toward the Israelites. It used its considerable power to enslave them.

With a somewhat ironic twist, current events in Egypt are imitating history. Only today, God’s people are not necessarily biological children of Israel, but rather spiritual children of Abraham and Sarah. The false religion of Islam traces its own genetic origins through Ishmael, the son of Hagar, claiming that he was the son promised to Abraham. However, the Bible clearly says this is not the case. Islam will always be quite hostile toward Christianity, because of this difference, and especially because of the Gospel. Christians in Egypt have assumed the role of the children of Israel, as the despised animal-herders, but instead of raising sheep and goats, they raise pigs. Pigs are despised and avoided as a matter of law by both Jews and Muslims, but Christians recognize that Christ’s work has freed us from the necessity of observing such ceremonial laws of the Old Testament. So like the family of Israel, Christians have found a profitable economic niche in Egypt.

But now, the Egyptian government, under Muslim control, has taken the Swine Flu scare as a pretext to persecute the Christians, by killing all their pigs. This effort is expressly contrary to the moral law of God, for His injunction against stealing is a protection of private property. If private citizens were doing this, it would be grounds for seeking full reparations from the wrongdoers. However, ’tis the Egyptian government. When a government persecutes like this, it shows itself to be a repressive tyranny. We may see what steps the government takes to make things right with the owners of these pigs.

If it does not make things right, what then? Will the Christians be forced to sell what little they have left and leave their country? But where could they go in today’s world, to find freedom? It’s fast disappearing in the United States, as our own government shows itself to be not entirely different from that in Egypt.

A hallmark of American freedom is the principle that government keeps its fingers out of private life, allowing the citizens to conduct and defend their own businesses, interests, and lives. Though there are still limits to that principle, to keep citizens from harming each other, government intervention is supposed to be limited to that which is absolutely necessary, because our nation is composed of citizens, not of government. That’s why recent actions by American governments (state, federal, and local) have been so troubling. We’ve been taking steps in the direction of Egypt’s example, from the White House to the repressive neighborhood association that measures lawn height to the nearest quarter-inch. On the national level, we’ve seen these examples piling up for some time, but perhaps never as quickly as in the last few months.

In one of the books I’ve been reading, I find it interesting that the anti-federalists of the 1780’s were not opposed to the constitution per se, but to the constitution without a bill of rights that would expressly protect the interests of individuals — and some interests of states — from tyrannical encroachments by the federal government. The federalists argued that the bill of rights was unnecessary, because all rights should be assumed to be protected. I think they were a bit naíve. At least, they were unfamiliar with Chicago politics. Yet the federalists made a good point: when you enumerate certain rights for protection, it implies that the rights not listed are not protected. The anti-federalists did not think that would be such a problem, but that’s where they were wrong.

Though my friend Mary might prefer not to think of these protections as “rights,” and she has a good point, the Bill of Rights has become one of the last friends of the American Citizen in government. Members of Congress are generally only interested in protecting and extending their own influence by spending our tax money. Much of the judicial branch only wants to reshape the country by creating new laws through its supposed interpretation of existing law. Meanwhile, the executive branch bullies private citizens into doing whatever it thinks is right, with the present intention of “spreading the wealth around” in the name of justice. No wonder the Bill of Rights has been under attack: it’s one of the few things standing between American citizens and an increasingly hostile and dysfunctional government. Both federalists and anti-federalists were prescient, at least in their distrust of human nature.

If American voters allow things to continue on the present course (and I use the adjective “American” loosely, because I suspect there have been many voters who are not), the effect of the first ten amendments will be further curbed. Americans will further lose the right to free speech (even on the Internet) and religion, just as our right to petition the government for redress has been practically forgotten. The Second Amendment truly is the original Department of Homeland Security, from both foreign and domestic attack, including domestic attacks upon the United States (i.e. American citizens) by their government. Those who would like to curtail the other rights definitely want to empty this one, as a prerequisite if possible. If and when that happens, American citizens will be in a position not much different from that of the Christian pig farmers in Egypt. Where could we go, then, to find freedom?