Thursday, December 28, 2006

and in further news...

Now I know who to blame for both my lack of height and my difficulty with weight! Dad is responsible for me being a runt and mom for me being tubby. Read all about it here

Which leads me to the obvious reason that I'm not a hot commodity on the dating market - I'm short!, which apparently deprives me of a serious advantage in the socio-evolutionary marketplace, check it out

For those who just want the Cliff's notes, the data is easily interpreted:

Dr Nettle's team analysed data from the study in the year 2000 when the men and women were aged 42.

He found the taller the men were, the less likely they were to be single or childless.
A man of 1.83m (6'0") was more likely to have children than an average man of 1.77m (5'10").
Women, though, were most likely to be married and have children if they were below the average height of 1.62 m (5'3").

The idea is that taller men are deemed more sexually attractive and are more likely to find a mate.

In contrast, men look for "fertility cues" other than height in the marriage stakes.
"We have come to think that men pay attention to physical characteristics of their mates, whilst women pay more attention to status and resources," says Dr Nettle. "In the case of height, this is clearly not true; in choosing a husband, size matters."

Not all are convinced however. Another scientist cites cultural favortism as the primary feature since the test was conducted in Britain.

On the other hand, it's clear that being short is bad for your paycheck, as is being hefty for a woman. Apparently being unattractive sucks for you too.

But never fear short fans, there is hope on the horizon!

Researcher Mr Harper said his findings confounded popular belief. "We found
looks were as important for men as for women."

He added: "The effects of appearance are generally widespread
suggesting they arise from prejudice and in particular, employer

"There is an urgent need for business and government to review their
equal opportunities policy to address this issue."

YES! Oh for the days when I will be cut a break for my height!

Truth in stereotyping

Two articles that pretty much say it all, here and here

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Sometimes the Islamists get it right...

As is usually the case, even the most unredeeming group of people come with their good points. Such is the case with the Somali Islamists, who are forcing Somalis, willing and unwilling alike, into conformity with their strict and old-school Islamic law (Shari'a). But, as this BBC report shows, there are some good things to the rule, namely that the caste system is being broken down by the universalizing membership of Islam. Also, i'd add to the article that the virtual annihilation of the old warlords has to be considered a huge plus. Here are some highlights from the article which you can read in full here plus a little commentary:

Union of Islamic Courts leader Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed recently said Somalis
should marry good Muslims, whatever caste they were from, in an effort to break
down centuries of prejudice.
"Islam recommends choosing your partner
according to whether they follow their religion and whether they are of good
character but not because of their social level," he said.

How unenlightened. We sophisticated folk in the West have long understood that you should pick your partner based on a combination of arbitrary feelings, how "nice" the person is, how little they challenge your self-identity, viable employability, and sexual attraction.

While some members of the lower castes, such as the Yahar, Midgan, Eyle,
Boon, say they face constant discrimination, several members have risen to
occupy prominent positions in society.

Many members of the lower castes perform jobs such as metal-working,
hunting with dogs, shoe-making and hairdressing.

Marriage is the area where traditional prejudices remain strongest,
with men who marry lower caste women often ostracised by their families.

It's funny how similar that is here. After all, you're allowed to sow your wild oats with whoever you feel like, but then families tend to get real picky about who their runt marries. We figure it's fine to treat people like whores as long as you make no real committments. That's just "being young".

Sahal knew his family would be upset by the wedding and felt unable to tell
them that he and Zamzam had gone ahead and tied the knot. When he did break the
news, his father immediately told him to divorce his new wife and choose
another, higher caste, woman.

"My parents promised me they would pay a large amount of money for the cost
of my wedding if I married a woman of my caste, but I could not disown my
beloved one," he said.

"She is beautiful, polite, obedient to me, pious and God-fearing, so there
was no reason not to marry her."

Yes! I like this guy. Seriously, I'd like to buy him a (root) beer in admiration. No flighty BS, he just wants a good, solid Muslim girl who has the same likes and priorities he does.

Zamzam says she only knew that she loved Sahal and never thought about
their difference in social background.

She said it was beyond her wildest dreams to see herself sharing a life
with Sahal.

"Love knows no age, no caste, and no creed. There can be no other
explanation why Sahal could have fallen in love with me," she said.

"However, he married me against the wishes of his parents, jeopardising his
relations with his relatives and friends and that of the community he comes
from," she added.

"Finally, he was mine and I was his. Sometimes life is indeed like a
Bollywood movie," she said, smiling.

The comparison to Bollywood is awesome! hah. So sweet. Best of luck to the two of them. Islamists or no, I think they've got this priority straight.

Monday, December 11, 2006

The best dime ever spent

So I was at a quickie picking up some cigs for a couple of classmates. There was a parking lot full of genuine hispanic thugs all meeting up there. One came into the store with me. He was right after me and was 10 cents short to get a box of Parliament's. He was trying to work out with the cashier if he could come back in and give him the dime, etc. So I tossed a dime from my change up there. When I got out he was all over it, telling his friends I was cool etc (his delusion, but I guess I earned it). They all started asking my name and a couple even gave me bumps coupled with one-shoulder touches (apparently their way of greeting - very machismo you know). They all wanted to know my name and why I was in NY. Were very curious about me being a seminarian. Began semi-jokingly calling me Father, asking a couple of questions, seemed to like my responses (for what that's worth). One even asked for my number so we could "chill" sometime and wondered if he could call up and ask me questions. Julio is his name.

Talk about the best dime ever spent. I mean seriously... it's one of those rare instances I just have to get cliche and say...well...praise God!

Sunday, December 10, 2006

The True Romantic? Moi?

If you ask 99.9% of all people who know me if i'm a realist or a romantic, they'd tell you without hesitation that i'm a realist. On the surface of things they would be correct. In fact, I'm very much the definition of "realist" incarnate: I like facts, i like to assess that which is rather than that which I would prefer, and I do not let my impulses guide me (or at the very least I let them guide me, take the punishment for my lapse in judgement, and don't act as if I've been wronged).

Yet just yesterday I was called a Romantic by someone who knows me rather well. When I inquired as to the origin of this blasphemy, I was pointed to the 4th definition of the term in the American Heritage Dictionary, which reads:

Romantic: Imaginative but impractical; visionary.

I think that defines me rather well. I tend to see what should be present, and it disillusions me from practicality. Now at the end of the day I choose practically, but i'm almost never happy about it.

In fact I've decided to reconsider my self-assessment altogether. I now believe that I am not only a Romantic, but I am the TRUE Romantic, because I want that which does not exist (at least where females are concerned).

It's true. We often mistakenly label people who are just blinded by feelings as "romantic", and thus we tend to conflate FEELING people... over and against THINKING personalities... as being "romantics". Our version of romantic is a person who blindly exhibits blissful hopefulnessd in the face of obvious red flags which they choose to overlook, and who try to force issues of feeling and indulgence over against practicality.

But I claim that these people are not the true romantics. Sure, they're feelers, but that just makes them an F rather than a T on the Meyers-Briggs test. I'd like to claim that Thinkers can be every bit the romantic that Feelers are, and in fact moreso.

After all, thinkers want the impossible in the face of knowing that it's impossible. Sure, Feelers do more stupid things, but that doesn't necessarily mean they're less practical, that simply means that their personality is not discerning in the final analysis. Thinkers may want to indulge the same impulses, but they ultimately refuse.

So, if a Thinker chooses to want the impractical or impossible, they're doing so knowing full well the price they might have to pay for that desire.

It's like the two men in the fox hole, one crazy and one who's sane: The crazy one might display more behavior on the battlefield that we'd call "bravery", but in fact it's the sane one who's brave, even if he does less, because the sane one realizes the stakes, contemplates the risk to his person, and chooses to be brave in spite of having such knowledge.

Saturday, December 09, 2006


Ok not really fame, but the NCC has posted my article dealing with martial imagery in the New Testament, with a steamy picture of me at the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris included for visually focused readers. You can read it here.

some recent comments on certain matters...

Since becoming part of Christian-bloggers I've been able to read many blogs on a variety of issues. Here are a couple of issues that I have responded to most recently. Counter-comments are always welcome:

On the notion that all Christian denominations are essentially the same with none being better than any other I said:

I was raised in one denomination (Southern Baptist), was a paid college
minister in another (episcopalian), was a youth minister in yet another
(Presbyterian), have taught several paid assignments in adults ed in YET ANOTHER
(Catholic), and have finally ended up in seminary in the Orthodox Church.

My journey has led me to a vastly different conclusion - I think that there
are many gods on the market, and many of the bad ones go by the name of Christ.
The churches I've been involved in have some real differences from one
another... serious points of disagreement on some very core issues, even with
the very question of how we discern points of doctrine and practice. I would say
without any real hesitation that the god of the Southern Baptists is not the god
worshipped by the Episcopalians/Presbyterians, who is in turn not the god
worshipped by the Catholics or Orthodox.

I wouldn't actually use the language of "accuracy" in the strictest sense
to describe the differences, but rather the language of "authenticity". We only
know God through the practices and understandings bequeathed unto us by a living
tradition, and some traditions have grappled with the basic matters a hell of a
lot better than others.

Does this mean that they're perfect? I would not be so naive as to say
that. But, I would say without hesitation that a very few groups have kept to
some form of the genuine message of Christ much more authentically than have
others, often through no fault of their own. This is entirely the wrong medium
for me to make my point in a full and sufficient way, but I am commenting in
order to give a different perspective. I view many Christians not as brothers
and sisters in faith, but as mission territory.

Another guy was fuming that Christians rant and rave about things like homosexuality and cohabitation while "real problems" like mud slides and poverty are not attributed to God. Here was my post (which includes mention of a previous post who's meaning I'm sure you can discern):

I think there can also be a certain healthy separation between affective and
effective divine intervention. Generally I don't see God effectively judging.
Never seen lightning bolts strike down the evildoers or anything like that, but
I've certainly seen the consequences of bad decision making made manifest in
unfortunate results.

While we should all mourn mudslides and such, I have to agree with Lunt's
initial point - don't throw the baby out with the bathwater. An overemphasis on
cohabitation doesn't mean it's a good idea any more than an underemphasis on
poverty means that it's unimportant.

For my part I find far more people who are far more willing to talk about
starvation than sexual misconduct within the congregation... but then i'm not
around evangelicals all that much.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Conservative Jews ordained gay rabbis and bless homosexual couples

The title of this post is fairly unambiguous. I read about it in the NY Times this morning. Apparently the announcement was made at the home of our Interseminary Dialogue partner Jewish Theological (JTS). Although gay rabbis and gay couples are now going to be blessed within Conservative circles, the vote was not lopsided and multiple proposals were put forward.

Also, since it's such an obvious violation of Levitical law to bless homosexual actions, the stipulation was added that the gay rabbis and couples could be blessed, but they could not be involved in sodomy, since that's violation of the rule. Yet, the article made if painfully obvious that this is a shrug/nudge stipulation that there will be no attempt to enforce. As the author of a slightly more liberal proposal said after this stipulation was added, "practically the effect is the same." He's right.

Now folks, I have to call BS on this one. sorry, that's just crap all the way around. This type of casuistry goes to prove once again that we're naturally legalistic avoiders if you give us half a chance. There's absolutely NO QUESTION that Torah says no, and the Talmud is, as I understand it, even more strict on the issue.

Why can't people just say it like it is? It's simple, allow me to help with the official statement: "We no longer really believe that archaic crap. Most of our members don't take it seriously already, and mostly it's just a way to keep a cultural heritage that we treasure. As such we will not allow plain but unsatisfactory ordinances attributed biblically to Moses to infringe, to any real extent, on more real-world concerns, namely our sexuality."

Was that so hard? I feel liberated just writing it on my blog, even though I'm not an official spokesman or even a co-religionist. Sure, I may not agree with it, but it's intellectually honest for someone taking such a position!

I guess this means that Conservative Judaism has chosen its home to some extent. The biggest difference between Conservative and Reform Judaism is now going to be the consumption of pork. And why be in a club where you can't have Memphis style hickory-smoked ribs when you can join the club that can?

Another moron doing moronic things

Well I suppose this is my turn to eat humble pie. I get really ill of hearing people's stories of knowing that they were engaging in bad courses of action, only to later confirm their own stupidity on the altar of results. Without getting too detailed, I suppose that today has, if nothing else, shown me that I'm perfectly capable of falling into that trap when I let my guard down and stop thinking.

I can't say too much of course, but suffice to say that i've been re-centered, luckily without actually having made many quantifiable mistakes. It's kind of like realizing that you've been studying the wrong material a few hours before the exam. Sure, you've lost some time, and it's a bit annoying, but you'll still have some prep time, and for that you must be thankful.

Ah well, such is the way of things.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Calling all Michigan Crybabies...

Michigan... you were a very good team. You still are. Maybe even the second best team in the nation, although I think that's something we're only going to know retrospectively.

However, let me size this up: If Michigan went to the championship game, there would be some serious problems. Namely...

1. Florida played a much tougher schedule. The Big-10, minus their two studs, was weak this year. Those wins vs ND and Texas that made their reputation turned out to be straw man victories... those teams weren't what they were cracked up to be. Week in and week out Florida earned the right, and losing to top-10 Auburn on the road is not shameful. They didn't have the luxury of getting worked up for one big game.

2. You can't decide a priori that one conference gets to decide the championship internally. It's not fair to anyone else. Auburn got screwed on this logic 2 years ago and you know what? they were 12-0.

3. There's a penalty for being in a league without a championship game. The penalty for being in a league that has one is you get another game vs a highly rated opponent.. the bonus is that if you win that game, you get more street cred than a team that didn't have to play one. Make sense?

4. Let's say you get a rematch and Michigan wins. Are they the champs? Why? Does 1-1 make you better than your opponent?

All in all the bowls look like a lot of fun this year. Good matchups. The BCS isn't perfect, and until we have a playoff system, they're not going to be. Someone always feels jipped, but I think Florida would have been significantly more jipped.

Plus, i'm not so sure OSU is going to beat the gators. That's right I said it... I don't think this was just a matter of who gets to lose to OSU. Michigan had their chance, now Florda has theirs. If OSU beats the top two opponents from the top 2 conferences, they've earned it. If they hadn't been given that shot, there always would have been questions. Now we'll find out if the buckeyes are for real.

Best of luck to both teams, and congrats on your well-earned and rightly deserved chances.