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Louis Untermeyer


Weekly Muse
My humble opinion on current events

January 7, 2002

One Last Look at 2001

All right, I admit it. I'm still obsessed with 2001. It was so rotten, I can't get it out of my head. Like the lingering stink of spoiled meat, it has hung around in the ether, invisible yet impossible to ignore. To borrow a Clintonian phrase from 90s, I am having trouble "moving on." So, with this week's Weekly Muse, I hope to spray some Lysol and do way with the stench of 2001 by covering some stories I didn't get a chance to discuss, but clipped and saved in the hope of discussing them. You may have missed some of these, as they were most likely buried on page A24 in the Podunk Times, but they're all interesting and important nonetheless. And some of it is actually good news! That's right, from festering 2001! 

I must admit to another motivation for rehashing the previous year. Nothing from the past week interested me much. Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle kicked off the 2002 electoral campaign (and possibly his own 2004 presidential campaign) with a typically misleading and bitterly partisan speech. Ho hum - nothing new there. 

Israeli intelligence captured a cache of smuggled Iranian arms bound for that paragon of peace, the Palestinian Authority's dictator Yassir Arafat. This made it plain (to some, at least) that Arafat has never given up his violent and murderous ways, and merely cloaks them with nice-sounding words to gain Western support. State Department know-nothings insist Arafat wants nothing but peace and love with the Little Satan, and even claimed that the Iranian arms weren't really from Iran, because they are further disillusioned that Iran can be our ally in the War on Terrorism. Iran should be a target! 

And finally, a sad, confused, and messed-up teenager flew his Cessna into a skyscraper in Tampa, killing himself but injuring no one else. A note recovered in the wreckage explained his motivation - he admired the September 11 travesty and wanted to emulate his new hero, Osama the Hunted.  

Those were last week's lowlights. I'm sorry, I couldn't get inspired to write anything inspiring or substantial about any of them. So, one last time (hopefully), let's look back at the year that was.

Have we found Luke?

An Italian population geneticist has discovered what he and several others think is the body of the evangelist, Luke, author of the third Gospel and the Book of Acts. Luke was born in Antioch, died at age 84 around 150 and was buried in Thebes, Greece. The coffin was later moved to Constantinople, and finally to Padua, around 1177. The scientific evidence, based on DNA samples taken from a tooth, does not contradict any of this. The DNA matches what is widely accepted to be the ancestors of Greek Antiochs; radiocarbon dating showed that the tooth belonged to someone who died sometime from A.D. 72 to 416; the remains belonged to a man who died at age 70 or greater. 

Is this absolute, iron-clad proof? Of course not. Such a standard is impossible. To prove that, we'd have to travel back in time, get a DNA sample from the living Luke, and compare that with the tooth. But a real-life Dr. Who hasn't emerged, so that is not likely to happen anytime soon. The standards of evidence for archaeology and other sciences that study history are, by necessity, not as stringent for the biological sciences, nor can they be. All the evidence points toward the body in the coffin being that of Luke, and it probably is.

It's an exciting discovery, because it's yet another piece of evidence that shows the Bible is not just another nice story. It's real, it's legitimate, and so is Christ, and so is Christianity.

Intergalactic Warming

The ice caps are melting. The atmosphere grows more dense. The planet is warming.

The Red Planet, that is. Mars.

That's right, global warming has arrived at Mars. According to researchers, the carbon dioxide ice caps are eroding and shooting the warming gas into the atmosphere. If this continues, Mars could become a "shirt-sleeve environment." 

Of course, we are talking about long-term climate change. This may not happen for another, oh, couple thousand years. But it's important because it shows that climate change acts pretty much on its own, devoid of human or other interference. 

Let's concede, for the sake of argument, that the earth is warming. Could we humans really do anything about it? I don't think so. The whole history of the world is one of climate change. It's the height of human folly and arrogance to think we can reverse such an unpredictable and unstoppable phenomena. It's also folly to think that we somehow caused it. 

Americans Living Longer

The National Center of Health Statistics, yet another agency of the behemoth federal government, released a report showing that the average American life expectancy reached an all-time of 76.9 years. For men, it's about 74, and for women, nearly 80. For black men, though, it is only 68.3. 

This is important because of Social Security. Right now, the retirement age is 65, when oldsters can start collecting their full Social Security benefits. This is scheduled to rise to 67. If the black male life expectancy retains its current rate of roughly three years past the retirement age, black males can expect only three years, on average, of Social Security benefits. This after a lifetime of paying taxes to finance retirements for others.

It's a scandal, a travesty. Black men are essentially getting ripped off by Social Security, and I have yet to hear one prominent black leader utter a peep about it. Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, et al. In fact, I've only seen one person discuss this, columnist Deroy Murdock.

Where's the outrage, the marches, the protests? Is Social Security such a sacred cow that can't dare be criticized? Is that the problem? Why the silence?

Talk about the Odd Couple

Jerry Falwell and the ACLU are teaming up. 

That's right, the American Civil Liberties Union, whom Falwell despises, has filed a friend of the court brief on Falwell's behalf. The reverend is challenging as unconstitutional a Virginia state law that restricts how much real and personal property a church can own. Falwell wants to expand his church, but the state won't let him.

Two things are interesting. First, of course, the ACLU supporting their avowed enemy. Secondly, the ACLU has largely ignored property rights in its quest to protect civil liberties. In fact, in the brief, they cite not the Fifth Amendment, but the First and Fourteenth. 

But it's still the right move. A church wants to buy some land, the owner wants to sell it, and the state should keep its nose out.

Salvation Army Under Fire

During this past Christmas season, several gay activists planted notes in Salvation Army kettles, protesting the Christian charity's policy of offering employee benefits only to married couples. The activists claim this discriminates against gays, lesbians, and others who voluntarily decide to live together.

To its credit, the Salvation Army did not back down. "We're a Christian organization. We don't provide these benefits for heterosexual couples that aren't married," said an Army employee. Besides, anyone who asks for help gets it, gay or straight.

To say this discriminates is laughable. Shame on those gays who would force their own views on others who disagree.

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