Wednesday, June 30, 2004

As expected, it was a late night last night. The deacons meeting went on late because we were kicking around a lot of very contentious issues. It was productive, but long and tiring. Then I had to go home and get ready to teach tonight. I didn't spend as much time on it as I like to, but I really didn't have much of a choice.

The plan for today for me is work, then youth group, then choir practice for a 4th of July concert we are doing. I've probably complained about this before, but I really don't like the whole concept. Using a Sunday morning service to flag-wave and take political positions (which the words of the piece we are doing does) is just not appropriate. And given some of the interpretations of the new campaign finance law, may not even be legal, which could jeopardize our 501(c)3 status.

No one has ever been able to show me anywhere in the New Testament where we are told to advocate political positions, back certain politicians, or even "educate" voters. What I see is the early church operating as if the government didn't exist. Whether under persecution or favor, the early church simply fulfilled its God-given mandate regardless of the political climate.

But I more or less have to take part. The choir is small and there are only two basses. If I'm not part of it, the church has no choir. And that's exactly how it would be perceived by the director and most of the choir; I killed it because I'm unreasonable, unpatriotic, and my feet smell. So I go along and just switch off my brain. Yet again. Something is going to give at some point.


Cassini is closing in on Saturn. It has already made two major discoveries and the primary mission has not even started yet. Today looks to be interesting as the braking maneuver will take Cassini directly through a gap in the rings. I expect the photos from that to be spectacular.


The Supremes have upheld a lower court ruling that the current Internet kiddie porn law is too broad. This is a good thing as it was too broad and would have swept up a lot of legitimate web sites as well as web sites that, while certainly pornographic, are also perfectly legal when viewed by adults. Once again, we have a problem that stems from minors having huge chunks of free time without adult supervision being solved by a federal law. There is also the related problem of definitions. I have never seen any quantifiable definition of what is or is not pornography, indecent, or obscene (those last two are different; one is legal, one isn't). And even if you get beyond that, how is a U.S. law going to stop porn hosted on a Russian server? If the domain is registered to a U.S. citizen, you can go after them, I suppose. But I doubt pornographers are some sort of U.S.-only phenomenon. In past attempts to control Internet porn, the legal burden was placed on carriers to filter illegal porn at the border. This is impossible. Anyone who tries to filter the smut that fills up their inbox knows that no matter how sophisticated the filters are, there are false negatives (the smut gets through) and worse, false positives (legitimate data is treated as smut). As computers get faster, thus allowing for more intelligence, the situation will improve, but I doubt it will ever go away entirely. As long as guys like to look at women's naughty bits, there will be porn. Given that the desire by guys to look at women's naughty bits is genetically coded in, I don't think any amount of social engineering by Congress or the courts will have much effect. Further, given that there is a substantial percentage of the male population who is willing to pay to see women's naughty bits (meaning there is a profit motive to suppliers), I don't see Internet porn, or any other kind of porn, going away.

Well, that is way more than I intended to say, but there it is.

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