Friday, September 23, 2011

Size of the Universe

Mike sends along a video of writer Francis Chan giving us a visual illustration of how vast our solar system, our galaxy and the universe are. It's literally awesome:
Here are some homework questions: In the last scene, a view of the entire universe, what's the black region outside the mass of galaxies that makes up the universe? It can't be space because space is a property of the universe. Is there really anything there or is there nothing? If the latter, what exactly is nothing? Does it go on forever?

Back in the U.S.S.R.

In a resolute effort to convince us that the attempt to fine hotels for using poorly fitted sheets on their beds was not a bizarre fluke of legislative perversity but rather typical of the sort of mindlessness one finds throughout the state of California, the good fathers of San Juan Capistrano are fining a couple $300 dollars for holding Christian Bible study sessions in their home, and have threatened to fine them another $500 for each future gathering:
City officials in San Juan Capistrano, Calif. say Chuck and Stephanie Fromm are in violation of municipal code 9-3.301, which prohibits “religious, fraternal or non-profit” organizations in residential neighborhoods without a permit. Stephanie hosts a Wednesday Bible study that draws about 20 attendees, and Chuck holds a Sunday service that gets about fifty.

The Fromms appealed their citations but were denied and warned future sessions would carry heftier penalties. A statement from the Pacific Justice Institute, which is defending the couple in a lawsuit against the city, said Chuck Fromm was also told regular gatherings of three or more people require a conditional use permit, which can be costly and difficult to obtain.

“How dare they tell us we can’t have whatever we want in our home,” Stephanie Fromm told the Capistrano Dispatch. “We want to be able to use our home. We’ve paid a lot and invested a lot in our home and backyard … I should be able to be hospitable in my home.”

According to the Dispatch, the Fromms live in a neighborhood with large homes and have a corral, barn, pool and huge back lawn on their property, so parking and noise aren’t a problem.

“There’s no singing or music,” Stephanie said. “It’s meditative.”

The Dispatch reported a code-enforcement officer gave the Fromms a verbal warning about the meetings in May, then returned to issue citations in June and July.
It's this sort of threat to personal freedom that causes people to say they want to take back their country from the progressive bureaucrats who would have been quite at home working as Kremlin apparatchiks and who have no regard for the constitutional protection of religious expression or the right to do what they wish in the privacy of their own home.

I wonder if the Fromms had been hosting fund-raisers for the Democratic party whether they'd have been hassled for it. I rather doubt it.

The Execution of Troy Davis

I have no idea whether Troy Davis was innocent of the crime for which he was executed Wednesday night. He was found guilty of having murdered a 29 year-old white policeman in cold blood and his death sentence became a cause celebre among the Left. Articles like this one promote the meme that capital punishment is racist and unjust, and although the writer raises concerns about the possibility that Davis didn't commit the crime for which he was executed, that's not really his main concern. What the Left really wants to do is end capital punishment, which is why it's odd that there was almost no mention made anywhere in the left-wing media of another execution that also took place Wednesday night in Texas.

Why not? Well, maybe because they knew that were the facts of this execution known it would not have done their cause much good.

The man executed in Texas was white supremacist gang member Lawrence Russell Brewer who was one of three men convicted for the infamous dragging death slaying of James Byrd Jr., a black man from East Texas:
Byrd, 49, was chained to the back of a pickup truck and pulled whip-like to his death along a bumpy asphalt road in one of the most grisly hate crime murders in recent Texas history.

Brewer, 44, was asked if he had any final words, to which he replied: "No. I have no final statement."

He glanced at his parents watching through a nearby window, took several deep breaths and closed his eyes. A single tear hung on the edge of his right eye as he was pronounced dead at 6:21 p.m., 10 minutes after the lethal drugs began flowing into his arms, both covered with intricate black tattoos.

Byrd's sisters also were among the witnesses in an adjacent room.

"Hopefully, today's execution of Brewer can remind all of us that racial hatred and prejudice leads to terrible consequence for the victim, the victim's family, for the perpetrator and for the perpetrator's family," Clara Taylor, one of Byrd's sisters, said.

She called the punishment "a step in the right direction."

"We're making progress," Taylor said. "I know he was guilty so I have no qualms about the death penalty."
There were no protestors outside the prison weeping and lighting candles as there were for Davis. To publicize Brewer's death would have completely undermined the narrative of a racist system rounding up black men and unjustly punishing them for crimes for which whites were not punished. Brewer had committed a horrific crime and deserved to die. To deny this would have been risible in the eyes of most Americans.

A society which refuses to execute those who commit the most heinous crimes, regardless of the racial composition of the criminal and the victims, is saying to its citizens that their lives are really not worth all that much - not enough, at any rate, to justify taking the life of a man who murders one or more of them. To refuse to execute murderers is like fining rapists. Such a modest penalty would be a message to women that they're not valued enough to justify imposing a severe punishment upon someone who traumatizes them.

A society which places a high value on women will severely punish the thug who harms them. A society which holds human life precious will exact the highest penalty from anyone who wantonly destroys it.