Reasonable Nuts

Sometimes nuts. Always reasonable. We are REASONABLE NUTS.

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

False Teacher Quiz

Hey kids! Let's all take the False Teacher Quiz! It's fun!

Day one is tomorrow!

My sister and I are both starting the SugarBusters way-of-eating tomorrow morning.

Come join us. I'm not asking her to do so, but I will be posting my weight and belly size (at the navel) daily. The proof is in the pudding or in this case, the pudge. :-)

Monday, January 30, 2006

The Wikipedia Watchword of the Week--1/30/2006

The Wikipedia Watchword of the Week is

Indigo Children

The Skeptic's Dictionary asserts: "the main thesis of The Indigo Children is that many children diagnosed as having Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder are actually space aliens."


Regarding the ten listed attributes of Indigo children, I refer you to a previous Wikipedia watchword.

I think "indigo" really refers to the color of those kids' behinds after their parents are done swatting them.

Behold, the RINO

Look, boys and girls; here we see a RINO* in its natural habitat.

* - Republican In Name Only

Saturday, January 28, 2006

War with Iran?

This is some scary stuff. Gerard Baker lays out the notion of war with Iran.

The reasonable nut in me wonders if Iran is not simply jerking us all around, seeing how far it can go. They can't really be that daft, can they?

A libertarian dilemma

What do you think of this?
Only Ford Vehicles Allowed in Plant Parking Lot
Friday, January 27, 2006


DEARBORN, Mich. — The parking lot at Ford Motor Co.'s (F) Dearborn Truck plant just got a little more exclusive.

Plant manager Rob Webber announced Monday that, starting Feb. 1, the parking lot may be used only by employees who drive vehicles built by Ford or one of its subsidiaries.
The libertarian in me is torn. On the one hand, the individual's choice of automobile is being restricted - and restricting choice is not a great thing at a non-moral level. But wait - I may have answered the argument of the other hand: the moral level. Morality, in my view, is our responsibility to one another. And if I, as a Ford employee, am advertising for a competitor, then am I not in some way hurting my coworkers? Ayn Rand would be furious with me. Good for me. :-)

The other hand is Ford's right as a corporation (literally, a sovereign body) to set its own standards. The employee has no rights in this regard, where they might conflict with the employer's. The employee's sole right is to not work for the employer.

To employees who might protest the new rule: buy the cheapest Ford product (certainly at an employee discount) and be done with it.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Christian Kitsch

If you're not reading Purgatorio, you need to be.

Especially the Divine Vinyl series.

Act Now! Get your own 6 disc collection of the Library of Congress!

Blu-ray, HD DVD - which format will win in the race to replace the DVD?

As with most things technological, just as this question was becoming more serious, the technology behind it has become outdated and the next big leap forward is coming soon: the Holographic Versatile Disc (HVD).

Whereas your DVD can store 4.7 or 9GB of data, and the HD DVD / Blu-ray class discs, 15-54GB, the HVD promises storage densities up to 3.9TB (that's about 4000GB, about 850 single-layer DVDs, 6100 CDs, or about 2.8 million 1.44MB floppy discs. That's also about 46 million single-density 8-bit Atari diskettes, just in-case you're considering this as an archive solution for your collection.).

A way to get your mind around this figure (3.9TB) is to consider the contents of the Library of Congress, one of the largest libraries in the world. It is estimated that, sans images, the contents of this library could be stored on about 6 of these discs.

By the way, the ref to the Atari 8-bit computer brought up this interesting page. One of a kind.

Ecclesiastes 1:18

In my weekly Bible study this past Thursday evening, the subject was the book of Ecclesiastes (We're working through the Old Testament one book at a time.). This has been a favorite read of mine for as long as I've been interested in the (meta) pursuits of knowledge and wisdom... roughly 5 years (though I've always taken to simply learning).

One verse resonated with me particularly, 1:18:
For with much wisdom comes much sorrow;
the more knowledge, the more grief.
Said another way, "Ignorance is bliss"... almost. But for those concerned with really understanding the hows and whys behind the universe, ignorance is certainly nowhere close to bliss. For these sorts, knowing something - really understanding it - only shows how much you still do not know. Add to that the weight of responsibility that is understanding. It is not a light burden, for knowledge by itself is not enough; maturity demands taking knowledge, coupling action, and converting it to something else.

We spoke of faith last night and roughly defined it as "acting on one's beliefs", at least that's what I think James is getting at - and what has caused so much unnecessary consternation between Protestants and Catholics.

We also spoke of wisdom. My take is that knowledge is indeed a component of wisdom - that, like the relationship between faith and belief, wisdom is acting on one's knowledge. This is my take solely. I act on the knowledge I have acquired often, but sadly I do not at times - often even against the knowledge I have. Thus, I do not see myself as wise - working in that direction perhaps - but not comfortable with being referred to as anything approaching "wise".

You'll know I'm comfortable with that accolade when this blog converts to "Wise Nuts". ;-)

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Marcel, My Brother

Dr. Charles Krauthammer eulogizes his brother.

5 (of a million) bad arguments

Read a great (anti-)abortion screed the other day, delineating 5 often-heard defenses of abortion-on-demand and their sources. They are:

1. ‘Don’t Say the “A” word’: NARAL

2. ‘Personally Opposed, But...’: Mario Cuomo

3. ‘Safe, Legal, and Rare’: Bill Clinton

4. ‘Embrace the Guilt’: Naomi Wolf

5. ‘Pro-Faith, Pro-Family, Pro-Choice’: The Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice

The author additionally notes the whacked comments of Wesley Clark, using them to tidy his thesis:
There may be a thousand angles at which a man can fall and an equal number of ways to justify killing the unborn, yet all pro-abortion arguments really boil down to one root fallacy. General Wesley Clark, once a pretender to the Democratic presidential nomination, expressed it quite well to a New Hampshire newspaper earlier this year. Keen to display his abortion credentials (having entered the race too late to attend the NARAL fund-raiser at which the other major candidates had already pledged their obeisance), Clark claimed to oppose all restrictions to abortion, up to the point of complete delivery. After fumbling for a moment with a follow-up question about where life begins, he replied, “Life begins with a mother’s decision.”

Here we have a philosophical phenomenon aptly summarized by the title of Bernard Nathanson’s second film, The Eclipse of Reason. Here we have nothing less than a fundamental crisis of being at the heart of our culture: a legal and societal status quo wherein a person is defined (and thus has rights apportioned to him) not by what he is but by how another person feels about him. This has been underscored in the debate over the Unborn Victims of Violence Act. If “life begins with a mother’s decision,” kill a pregnant woman on the way to an abortion clinic and you’ve committed one murder; kill a pregnant woman on the way to buy baby clothes and you’ve committed two.

Another reason democracy is not a panacea... or even a prescription

Palestinian PM, Cabinet Resigns After Hamas Victory

Don't know much about Hamas? Here's a documented introduction. But really, everything you need to know about Hamas can be distilled into this:
The Hamas Covenant, written in 1988, declares: "There is no other solution for the Palestinian problem other than jihad [holy war]. All the initiatives and international conferences are a waste of time and a futile game."
Now this organization is in control of the destiny of the Palestinian people.

But wait - not so fast. Fatah is the group previously charged with power in the Palestinian Authority. And what is Fatah? This is best answered by these words:
Fatah was "never different from Hamas," said PLO political chief Farouq Al-Qaddoumi on January 3, 2003. "Strategically, we are no different from it."
Here's a decent analysis (from an Israeli POV) of the leadership situation in the Palestinian land - and precisely to my point that Democracy itself is not the answer to this problem. The author wrote this in Mid 2002:
What the Muslim world needs is not democracy, at least not yet, but a group of leaders - politicians and intellectuals - who will do nothing less than transform the culture. Simply replacing the current leadership is not enough - when Arafat, Saddam Hussein, Osama bin Laden, or any of the other despots in the region die, the problem will not automatically die with them - which is why President Bush did not merely call for a new leadership, but also for a different one.
Here you have probably the meat in this democratic Happy Meal, courtesy of one of my favorite orgs, the Future of Freedom Foundation:
... it would be wrong to mistake the sprouting of democratic procedures with liberalism, the philosophy of individual freedom, private property, and the rule of law. They are not the same, and thinking they are has done a good deal of mischief. Many thinkers over the millennia have taken pains to distinguish democracy from freedom. In F.A. Hayek’s third volume of Law, Legislation, and Liberty, we find this passage from Aristotle’s Politics:
Where laws are not sovereign ... since the many are sovereign not as individuals but collectively ... such a democracy is not a constitution at all.
Aristotle recognized that constitutions in an important sense are undemocratic, if by “democracy” we mean “the untrammeled authority of the majority.” When the U.S. Constitution enumerates a finite set of congressional powers or the First Amendment states, “Congress shall make no law ...” they impose limits on what “the people” collectively may do. By doing so, they protect the people — individually.
This is from a piece entitled "Democracy, But Not Necessarily Freedom", which I heartily suggest a worldwide read.

And just a reminder to those who believe we live in the United States in a democracy:
The distinction between our Republic and a democracy is not an idle one. It has great legal significance.

The Constitution guarantees to every state a Republican form of government (Art. 4, Sec. 4). No state may join the United States unless it is a Republic. Our Republic is one dedicated to "liberty and justice for all." Minority individual rights are the priority. The people have natural rights instead of civil rights. The people are protected by the Bill of Rights from the majority. One vote in a jury can stop all of the majority from depriving any one of the people of his rights; this would not be so if the United States were a democracy. (see People's rights vs Citizens' rights)

In a pure democracy 51 beats 49[%]. In a democracy there is no such thing as a significant minority: there are no minority rights except civil rights (privileges) granted by a condescending majority. Only five of the U.S. Constitution's first ten amendments apply to Citizens of the United States. Simply stated, a democracy is a dictatorship of the majority. Socrates was executed by a democracy: though he harmed no one, the majority found him intolerable.

Life Development via the Wheel

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Book Recommendation: The Epidemic

While we're talking about kids, I'd thought I'd take some time to recommend to parents and parents-to-be this book: The Epidemic: The Rot of American Culture, Absentee and Permissive Parenting, and the Resultant Plague of Joyless, Selfish Children By Dr. Gary Shaw.

The book isn't as scary or politicized as the title suggests. Instead, it has sort of a "What to Expect" theme to it as far as children maturing into their formative years. It also talks about warning signs to watch for and deal with.

I don't want to write a full book review, but some of the themes and advice are as follows:

  • As a baby, do what works with your infant and ignore childraising fads, trends and categorical dos-and-don'ts from "experts". You have a 24-hour live-in expert on childcare, the baby itself. Breastfeed or bottle-feed if the child prefers either or both. The baby will have his own daily schedule for the first 4-6 months, but afterwards, should begin a normal human cycle--sleeping at night and eating periodically. (This approach is a good compromise between overly strict and overly lax childrearing approaches, i.e. Gary Ezzo vs. Dr. Spock).

  • Good childcare isn't something you can just cut a check for. Daycare centers, even if high quality, have great disadvantages compared to homecare; you should remove them if you see certain warning signs. Also, a child having too many caretakers throughout the week--parents, grandparents, sitters, daycare, etc.--could cause separation anxiety issues. He also discusses a "Four-Thirds Solution" for working families, where both parents together have 4/3 of a full-time job.

  • Their should be limits and boundaries to the behavior of children. Punishment should not be intended to make children suffer, but mirror real-life consequences (e.g. be made to leave a fun place if they act up; be made to pay for acts of vandalism with money they save). Parents ought not negotiate with their children to behave, and commands must be followed-up on. At all stages, the child should generally be pleasant to live with and be around; otherwise something is wrong.

  • A clear moral code which governs the family should be instilled to the child. A child's self-esteem should come from specific achievement which promotes a sense of being worthwhile, rather than empty praise. They should know how to emphasize with others.

  • Child media use should be much less than what is the norm. Children under 5 shouldn't be allowed to watch TV unattended, and children of all ages shouldn't watch anything which their parents wouldn't be willing to watch with them. All computer use should be monitored. Videogame playing should be limited, especially if it causes children to be fixated on the game or more aggressive when not playing.

  • Children's lives should not be overstructured. They should have healthy periods of unscheduled down-time and not a litany of after-school activities. They should not be compelled to hyper-achieve.

    Here's the back cover of the book, where he gives some good advice in negative form.


  • "It tasted good, too!"

    Whatever are they teaching kids in Newport News these days?

    Danger?

    The Economist - not known for resorting to scare tactics to attract readers - had an interesting cover last week, which depicted Alan Greenspan, in runner's attire, handing off to another runner a baton made from a lit stick of dynamite. On the dynamite were the words "The Economy". Here's their reasoning for the cover:
    Mr Greenspan's departure could well mark a high point for America's economy, with a period of sluggish growth ahead. This is not so much because he is leaving, but because of what he is leaving behind: the biggest economic imbalances in American history.
    Further getting to the biscuit of meaning:
    The Economist has long criticised Mr Greenspan for not trying to restrain the stockmarket bubble in the late 1990s, and then, after it burst, for inflating a housing bubble by holding interest rates low for so long. The problem is not the rising asset prices themselves but rather their effect on the economy. By borrowing against capital gains on their homes, households have been able to consume more than they earn. Robust consumer spending has boosted GDP growth, but at the cost of a negative personal saving rate, a growing burden of household debt and a huge current-account deficit.
    And to the crux of that biscuit:
    But America's domestic demand needs to grow more slowly in order to bring the saving rate and the current-account deficit back to sustainable levels. If demand fails to slow, he will need to push rates higher. This will be risky, given households' heavy debts. After 13 increases in interest rates, the tide of easy money is now flowing out, and many American households are going to be shockingly exposed. In the words of Warren Buffett, “It's only when the tide goes out that you can see who's swimming naked.”
    So what does it mean to us schlubs? Here are a few thoughts, open for analysis:

    1. Have some cash on-hand. 3 months expenses is a good beginning figure. 6 months is better. Keep it in short-term investments, as rates are rising. Some savings accounts & money markets are paying 4% or more today.

    2. Whatever debt you have, get the rates low and locked. If you can't get the rates lower, pay off the debt, but be careful to retain some cash.

    3. If you have particularly low rates on any debt, avoid paying it off. Yes, you read that right. Resist the urge to pay off debt at really low rates of interest (if those rates are fixed). Take for instance a credit card balance I have that was brought into existence to pay off a car loan and student loan balance. At the time, rates were pitiful and this card issuer offered me a 2.9% balance transfer with no fees involved. I leapt at it and have resisted paying it off since. While I hate the idea of debt, I am incurring that debt at no cost to me. I have cash elsewhere earning 4% and given taxes, it's a wash. One caveat: watch like a hawk that you do not miss a minimum payment. Mine is structured such that if I do, I am liable for an instantaneously higher rate. I can see them wringing their hands, just waiting for me to miss a payment.

    4. Do you own any gold? Is now the time to buy? It's a hard play for most of us. At $560+ an ounce, how much can the average man own? If you don't have more than $25K in cash, I think personally I'd skip it. What's your take? Mine is that short of hyperinflation, I don't think it's a good play for the schlub.

    5. If rates continue to rise, the overall equities markets will be hurt. Now would not be the time to get excited about stocks. There will always be value plays, but do you even know what I'm talking about? If not, forget investing in stocks today.

    Thoughts?

    Yet ANOTHER Reasonable Nut

    I happened across this guy's website(s) yesterday. He's the fellow who created the ranting robot. A Christian, conservative, artist, web designer and teacher, homeschools his kids (well, his wife seems to be doing that) and he's funny. What really made me like him, however, was the fact he used to run all his sites on Movable Type and has since migrated to WordPress, the GPL'ed blogging software package.

    Another Reasonable Nut

    Hark! There is another Reasonable Nut at blogspot. Our sites are only seperated by an "s". Looks to be quite reasonable and quite a nut indeed. And he knows an awful lot more about guns than anyone here does.

    Whiter than white

    “They look like dentures,” O’Neil said. “Even though they get the best Beverly Hills orthodontist, it still looks like they bought their teeth at Kmart.”
    Indeed.

    Nice teeth are a great asset. I would worry more about getting them straight and healthy, however.

    This coming from a man who just visited a dentist for the first time in 13 years. Other than the massive amount of work the hygenist had to do to get rid of the tartar, my teeth are in great shape. I think after year 10, I had really started to worry. :-)

    Stupefying

    This is a staggering statistic:
    For every 100 babies born in New York City, women had 74 abortions in 2004, according to newly released figures that reaffirm the city as the abortion capital of the country.
    Whatever happened to the "rare" in "Safe, legal, and rare"?
    "If clinics are hard to get to, or the services are just unavailable, people are going to travel to get what in my mind is a critical public health service," said Joan Malin, president of Planned Parenthood of New York City.

    The organization's Margaret Sanger Center in Manhattan is the largest abortion provider in New York, with 11,000 abortions performed a year.
    What do you think security is like at that abortion mill? It's got to be intense.

    That's 30 babies A DAY - for ONE facility. I'm including the weekend days because I doubt anyone "working" there is keeping a sabbath day.

    Critical public health service?

    I am sometimes so frustrated with the arguments put forth that I can't even offer a rebuttal; they are stupefying.

    Margaret Sanger's name came up in the above quote. Can anyone tell me if the Sanger Hall at VCU in Richmond is named for this beastie?

    Too true

    I have not laughed this hard in a long time! Just read it for yourselves.

    Tuesday, January 24, 2006

    The Ranting Robot



    Found the above today at the website of a quite reasonable nut, Sean Gleeson.

    Inserted the smaller version into the R-N sidebar. Enjoy!

    Good news from up north

    Canadians granted Conservative Leader Stephen Harper a minority government Monday, putting an end to more than 12 years of Liberal rule.

    Results show Conservatives won 124 seats, versus 103 for Paul Martin's Liberals.
    Maybe the problem for the defeated party was their name: Paul Martin's Liberals. To me, that seems a rather confusing name. ;-)

    Another reason it's hard being a teacher today

    Can someone tell me what is the point of this website? No, not Reasonable Nuts! Rad Essays .com

    Term of use #1 on the site reads:
    You acknowledge and agree that the license granted under these Terms does not permit you to utilize any Essay for any commercial or for-profit purpose. The papers contained within our web site are for research purposes only! You may not turn in our papers as your own work! You must cite our website as your source! Turning in a paper from our web site as your own is plagiarism and is illegal!
    What percentage of students are actually using this site for research?

    Seeing such a site makes me wish I had the time to write essays filled with patently false information and submit them to this site... so the people who use it get nailed.

    OK - I suppose one could actually use the site for research and for insight, gleaning perhaps a new angle which to take with a paper. I just think the temptation to merely cut-n-paste is too great for many kids. Say you do paraphrase the work of another, putting it in "your own words". Is that research?

    And who is going to want to cite as a source "Rad Essays.com"? What teacher's eyebrows won't be raised seeing that on a paper? So I wager that almost everyone using the site is in violation of Term of use #1.

    I have to think a savvy teacher would not be easily deceived this way. Were I a teacher, I'd have my school administrators pay for access to several of these essay databases, which any of us could search for plagiarized material.

    Daycares Don't

    Here's yet another reason to avoid putting our kids in daycare, if at all possible:
    GERMANTOWN, Md. — A gun brought to a day care center by an 8-year-old boy accidentally went off Tuesday, wounding a 7-year-old girl in the arm, police said.
    Looking for more reasons to find an alternative to daycare? Check out this website. Having friends with children in daycare, I almost can't even read some of these letters from former daycare workers.

    The "Real ID" bill, Living in the Real World, Term Limits, and the DMV

    Former congressman Martin Frost poses a good question:
    How many women are there in the United States who have not notified the Social Security Administration of their married name? My guess is that there are millions. Interestingly, the Social Security Administration had no difficulty accepting Kathy’s monthly social security withholding payments for years, despite the fact that they were still carrying her account under her previous name.
    It appears his wife had some difficulty obtaining a Virginia driver's license recently, even though she has appeared to have lived a life of service to the United States.

    Interesting to note that Frost served as a Democrat. Interesting, that is, in light of his comments re: the Social Security Administration, that vaunted* third rail of American politics. Frost's experience goes to show specifically why I am against the notion of the career politician. The "Citizen Legislator" is the far better alternative - a person who has been successful already in some field, be it commerce, medicine, the pastorate... even law (ugh). And no, a career civil servant does not qualify. What I'm getting at is the idea that a person must live in the real world (whatever that is) long enough to develop a sense of what life is like apart from the trappings of government and largesse. Frost served 16 years as a congressman... about 10 too long, in my estimation.

    And yes, I am speaking to conservatives as well. There are plenty of examples of legislators whose votes I support, who have been in congress at least 10 years too long.

    And, by the by, my darling wife officially changed her name with Social Security FIRST. It was actually the easiest part of the process. We too had problems with the DMV. I believe she had 4 trips to one office and together we had another trip before her license was issued. The first trip, marriage license in hand, provided the information that Social Security should have been our first trip. The subsequent trips were due to the unavailability of knowledgeable personnel. Said another way, no one knew what to do with this simple request. Getting a driver's license is one thing, changing a name another. Doing both together is what caused our grief.

    *- Vaunted is the word of the day at m-w.com, by the by:
    The Word of the Day for January 24 is:

    vaunted \VAWN-tud\ adjective

    : highly or widely praised or boasted about

    Example sentence:
    For all her vaunted writing talent, Pauline has yet to find a publisher for her book.

    Did you know?
    It's fine to express pride in your accomplishments, but synonyms such as "boast," "brag," "vaunt," and "crow" may suggest you've overdone it. "Boast," for instance, implies ostentation and exaggeration ("he boasts of every trivial success"), although it can connote justifiable pride ("the town boasts an excellent museum"). "Crow" is ideal for exultant boasting or bragging ("they crowed about winning the championship"). "Vaunt" usually imparts less crudity or naivete than "brag" and more pomp and bombast than "boast" ("the promotional flier vaunts the natural beauty of the area").

    Monday, January 23, 2006

    Why Terri Schiavo had to die

    SAFETY HARBOR, Fla. Jan 22, 2006 — Michael Schiavo, whose brain-damaged wife was at the center of a contentious end-of-life battle that played out on a worldwide media stage, has remarried, family members said.

    Schiavo married his longtime girlfriend Jodi Centonze on Saturday in a private church ceremony, said John Centonze, the brother of the bride.
    To the church that married them: is it the letter or spirit of the law with which you are more concerned?

    OK - who am I to weigh-in on such matters? Agreed. Will you allow me to at least opine in sophistry?

    Thanks.

    I don't suggest Michael Schiavo as anything other than a normal American - that is, self-interested and maximizing his current happiness. That's most of us; that's me most days. But every so often (typically once a week, after hearing one of Rev. Dan's fine sermons), I morph from the turd-of-all-turds I am most often into something slightly closer to what I can be. And on those days (at those moments within those days, to be honest), when I see things clearly - some would say eternally - I want Michael to put away his immediate happiness for other, greater things.

    But typically I get selfish again quite easily, and soon follows an almost overwhelming desire to do what maximizes my current happiness.

    This is what is called the path of least resistance. Incidentally, it is the path that lightning takes in completing its journey.

    Back to Michael Shiavo.

    Something that occurred to me altogether too late to have me make sense of this earlier is this most salient factoid:
    Terri and Michael had no children.

    Michael has two children with Jodi Centonze. Michael and Jodi have lived together in Clearwater, Florida for ten years.
    Thus we know why Michael had to have the life of his wife terminated.

    Really. Do you really wish to argue otherwise? I am game. Bring it on.

    This is your Marion Barry update for 1/23/2006

    I was reading a piece about that greatest of living combinations of confidence and incompetence, (former Mayor of DC) Marion Barry. It had all the bufoonery that we've come to expect of this very unreasonable nut.

    But it detailed something quite unexpected and downright surreal:
    Months ago, as gas prices were going through the roof, he brought a gasification machine to town. The machine, which Barry had parked in a lot owned by Union Temple Baptist Church, looks like something from Professor Gadget: lots of pipes, motors and electric doodads attached to a two-story chimney.

    But this contraption purportedly turns garbage or sewage into pollution-free electricity and drinking water. Barry told reporters (and other gawkers of the future), "This is not a sham, not a game. This is the real stuff."

    He wants the District of Columbia to adopt this technology, and a spokesperson for the DC Water and Sewer Authority said, "The unit is pretty impressive, and the technology is worth looking into." The spokesperson went on to express an interest in observing this mighty machine once it is turned on.

    One slight problem arose, however. Barry couldn't turn on the machine.

    You see, Rev. Willie F. Wilson didn't want the machine on his property to begin with. The preacher and the politician reached a compromise where Barry and his scientists could leave the machine on the church parking lot, but not turn it on.

    That was after the police were called, to prevent a fight between the Rev. Wilson and Barry. When Wilson had refused to fully embrace this opportunity for cheap, clean, limitless energy, a shouting match ensued. Wilson reportedly called Barry a liar. Barry called Wilson "power hungry," while also threatening to have the nonprofit status of Wilson's church "investigated."

    As Barry explained, "He's out of his mind, being un-Christian and crazy like that" — leading the ever-thoughtful wizard of Washington to ask introspectively, "What's wrong with him?"

    Meanwhile, our energy challenges persist.
    A "gasification" machine?

    It is true! I like this explanation:
    The gasification machine's inventor, Simon Romana, says it can use garbage or sewage to create pollution-free electricity and drinking water.

    Romana says his machine burns hotter and cleaner than sewage gasification plants and large incinerators, but he won't explain why.
    Of course he won't!

    The story would be too simple otherwise and thus have no need for the (improperly) esteemed former Mayor.

    Saturday, January 21, 2006

    The Wikipedia Watchword of the Week--1/22/06

    The Wikipedia Watchword of the Week is

    Mr. Yuk



    Complete with Mr. Yuk Theme Song. (If I were you, I wouldn't listen to this before going to sleep tonight.)

    Even long after childhood, that face still creep me out.

    Friday, January 20, 2006

    They're finally getting it

    Word is the Republican leadership is finally becoming concerned with voters such as yours truly who identify with the following:
    Some rank-and-file Republicans wonder what happened to the party that promised to reform Washington after taking control of Congress in 1994 for the first time in 40 years.

    "We've seen the enemy, and he is us," said Tom Rath, a Republican National Committee member from New Hampshire describing the sentiments of some GOP voters. "We have to get back to the basics. Let's talk about small government and reduced spending, and don't let the Democrats take those issues."

    The LiberPlot

    Looking for a photo of Shadegg for my previous post, I happened across this terribly interesting site: The Liberty Index at the Republican Liberty Caucus website. Each year, the caucus creates a Liberty Plot or LiberPlot, which will look familiar to those of us who have taken the World's Smallest Political Quiz. The authors of the index take the roll-call votes of a session of congress, both in the Senate and House, and create "Personal Liberty" and "Economic Liberty" percentages for each member (with 100% being perfectly libertarian). From these, they create a combined score, with which to rank members. And they do an executive overview of the session.

    I'll leave it up to you to take a look at the graphs through the years and see if you can glean any trends or current indicators of things to come. One thing I've noticed is that according to these graphs, the Democrats in general appear to be becoming more authoritarian.

    But I don't need a graph to show me this.

    Elect Shadegg House Majority Leader

    I agree with the editors of Townhall.com, elect John Shadegg House Majority Leader:
    Three candidates for the position have emerged: Roy Blunt, John Boehner and John Shadegg. Shadegg, an unassuming congressman from Arizona, clearly outshines his rivals. Shadegg is a man driven by ideas and principles; he is also free of potentially disastrous lobbying connections.

    With congressional approval ratings at dismal lows and public disillusionment near all time highs, the party in power -- the Republicans -- can and must change course or risk deservedly losing power by the will of the American people. The recent scandals surrounding Jack Abramoff, a growing disgust with the practice of congressional earmarking and exasperation with reckless federal spending have outraged rank and file conservatives within the Republican Party. Meanwhile, the American people wonder if this is why they sent conservatives to Washington in 1994 and defied historical voting patterns by reelecting majorities in the House and Senate in 2004. They are right to wonder. These are symptoms of a party that seems to have lost its way. Fortunately for the Republicans, an opportunity for revival is just around the corner.
    My favorite congressman, Mike Pence concurs (OK - I realize that it is I who concur). :-)

    Mine safety

    I read this morning that 2 coal miners were unaccounted for after a conveyor belt fire yesterday. This is of course reminding all of the tragedy of losing 12 miners in an explosion and collapse just recently. And it made me question how often such accidents happen today and what was the worst such accident.

    The answer to the first question is over the last 10 years, approximately 30-40 deaths occur each year at U.S. coal mines. Note that most of these do not occur from mine explosions, but from singular incidents, such as roof collapses.

    The answer to the second question is the explosion of mines #6 and #8 of the Fairmont Coal Co. in Monongah, WV, December 6, 1907, killing 362 men and boys. This mining complex was considered at the time to be a model mine, insofar as safety and technology.

    Thursday, January 19, 2006

    Busting Sugar

    My sister and I have created a weblog for the purposes of camaraderie, support and documentation as we both seek to get healthier and be healthier through what we eat and how we exercise. It is called Busting Sugar, as it's based on the only WoE (Way of Eating) that has worked longterm for me: SugarBusters. By "worked", I mean: provided for me the nexus of greatest health, most energy, and best physique. So why did I stop? That is best answered by a review I wrote of the book some time back.

    Check out the site and consider joining in as we do this thing. The official kick-off date is Feburary 1.

    Wednesday, January 18, 2006

    All is not gay*

    * - gay: Showing or characterized by cheerfulness and lighthearted excitement; merry.

    So the wife and I watched the TV the other night, specifically the Golden Globe Awards on the TV the other night that was the Monday.

    It was a very gay night. Yet for many of those with a more conservative worldview, it was not a very gay night.
    The criticism was made after Brokeback Mountain, a film about the forbidden love between gay Wyoming cowboys that stars Australian Heath Ledger, won four awards on Tuesday.

    Other winners included Philip Seymour Hoffman, named Best Actor for his portrayal of the homosexual writer Truman Capote; and Felicity Huffman, the Desperate Housewives star who played a transsexual with a gay prostitute son in Transamerica.
    ...
    "None of the three movies - Capote, Transamerica or Brokeback Mountain - is a box office hit. Brokeback Mountain has barely topped $US25million ($33million) in ticket sales.

    "If America isn't watching these films, why are they winning the awards?"
    This is a very good question. And lest it go away quickly, as very good questions typically do when put to a largely liberal ubermedia:
    The criticism from the American heartland carried more weight than usual this year because Hollywood suffered the biggest decline in attendance in two decades last year.
    Indeed it did. So you'd think the almighty $ would be the driving force behind the secular left which dominates postmodern american media. Not really. Again from the story:
    One of the few box office hits of the year was The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, which appealed strongly to Christian audiences.
    It also has made a buttload of $$. Not that it's the best film of all-time, but it was generally pretty good with some actually stand-out moments.

    Yet "pretty good" is not what wins awards. So I consider that a well-crafted and acted film, even if it contains prurient or otherwise disdainful material, can rightfully win awards whereas popular family films do not. Take "Triumph of the Will", for instance - hardly your family film of the 30s (unless perhaps your family name is Goebbels, Himmler, or Hitler). It is held by many as a film worthy of note. Then again, this is a bad example, as though however good a film it was for its day (speaking to the mechanics and art), the content and purpose are nearly universally derided.

    And at one time a film such as Brokeback Mountain, Transamerica, or Capote might have been nearly universally derided.

    They may still be. These things have a way of moving in cycles.

    Tuesday, January 17, 2006

    The Myth that is Kwanzaa

    Well, here is my novella for the year:

    Now that Kwanzaa has sufficiently passed, I thought it might be a good time to review what Kwanzaa is really about. Kwanzaa, by definition of Wikipedia, “is a week-long secular holiday honoring African-American heritage, observed from December 26 to January 1 each year, almost exclusively by African-Americans in the United States of America. Kwanzaa consists of seven days of celebration, featuring activities such as candle-lighting and pouring of libations, and culminating in a feast and gift-giving. It was founded by black nationalist Ron "Maulana" Karenga, and first celebrated from December 26, 1966, to January 1, 1967. Karenga calls Kwanzaa the African American branch of "first fruits" celebrations of classical African cultures.”

    Although it sounds like a great benign holiday reminiscing back to the African continent, a good commentary by Ann Coulter brings out many of the uncirculated facts about the establishment of Kwanzaa that might make some of the celebrants reconsider their honoring of an essentially bogus holiday, which has no roots in any African celebration itself. As Wikipedia reports, “In the book Kwanzaa (2005), author Sara McGill states, "there are many people of African descent who do not know the purpose of Kwanzaa or how to celebrate it. Others refuse to celebrate Kwanzaa because it is not a true African tradition." (Jackson, p. 2). Black civil rights activist Reverend Jesse Lee Peterson wrote, "the whole holiday is made up! You won’t find its roots in Africa or anywhere else."[13].” Peterson also writes that “When once asked why he designed Kwanzaa to take place around Christmas, Karenga explained, “People think it’s African, but it’s not. I came up with Kwanzaa because black people wouldn’t celebrate it if they knew it was American. Also, I put it around Christmas because I knew that’s when a lot of bloods would be partying.” Karenga has explained that his creation of Kwanzaa was motivated in part by hostility toward both Christianity and Judaism.” [Click here to continue reading Peterson’s commentary on how Kwanzaa has infiltrated some of the black community and is affecting their religious beliefs in a negative way.] William J. Bennetta also supports Peterson’s take on Kwanzaa taking from the other religious holidays—Christmas and Hanukkah—and secularizing them: “Kwanzaa is supposed to be celebrated from 26 December through 1 January: It competes with Christmas and Chanukah while incorporating some echoes of both, e.g., gift-giving and a ceremony built around a seven-holed candle-holder that recalls Judaism's seven-branched menorah.”

    In Wikipedia’s entry about Kwanzaa, it acknowledges the controversy surrounding the holiday and its founder: “There has been criticism of Kwanzaa's authenticity and relevance, and of the motiviations of its founder, Karenga. The origins of Kwanzaa are not secret, and are openly acknowledged by those promoting the holiday.[12] Some criticize Kwanzaa because it is not a traditional holiday of African people, and because of its recent provenance, having been invented in 1966.”

    In Coulter’s aforementioned commentary, she discusses the dubious beginnings of the holiday, by a “black radical FBI stooge, Ron Karenga, aka Dr. Maulana Karenga. Karenga was a founder of United Slaves, a violent nationalist rival to the Black Panthers and a dupe of the FBI…. United Slaves were proto-fascists, walking around in dashikis, gunning down Black Panthers and adopting invented "African" names. (That was a big help to the black community: How many boys named "Jamal" currently sit on death row?) Whether Karenga was a willing dupe, or just a dupe, remains unclear.”

    These statements about the colorful history—including time in prison—of Kwanzaa’s founder, Ron Karenga, have been corroborated by different sources. “In 1971 Karenga, Louis Smith, and Luz Maria Tamayo were convicted of felony assault and false imprisonment for assaulting and torturing two women from the United Slaves, Deborah Jones & Gail Davis….At Karenga's trial, the question arose as to Karenga's sanity. It appears that Karenga may have had a mental breakdown due to the stress of dealing with the violence and murders surrounding his United Slaves (US) organization and the Black Panther Party (BPP). His behavior became bizarre. And, at his trial, a psychiatrist's report stated the following: "This man now represents a picture which can be considered both paranoid and schizophrenic with hallucinations and illusions, inappropriate affect, disorganization, and impaired contact with the environment."[1] Karenga was an intelligent man with tremendous creativity, but apparently was unable to deal effectively with his troubled past and the possibility of imprisonment. "The psychiatrist reportedly observed that Karenga talked to his blanket and imaginary persons, and he believed he'd been attacked by dive-bombers. He was sentenced to one-to-ten years in prison on counts of felonious assault and false imprisonment."[2]” [source: Wikipedia]

    The Seven Principles of Kwanzaa have also been called into question regarding their real meaning. They are celebrated as the following:

    • Umoja (Unity) To strive for and maintain unity in the family, community, nation and race.
    • Kujichagulia (Self-Determination) To define ourselves, name ourselves, create for ourselves and speak for ourselves.
    • Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility) To build and maintain our community together and make our brother's and sister's problems our problems and to solve them together.
    • Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics) To build and maintain our own stores, shops and other businesses and to profit from them together.
    • Nia (Purpose) To make our collective vocation the building and developing of our community in order to restore our people to their traditional greatness.
    • Kuumba (Creativity) To do always as much as we can, in the way we can, in order to leave our community more beautiful and beneficial than we inherited it.
    • Imani (Faith) To believe with all our heart in our people, our parents, our teachers, our leaders and the righteousness and victory of our struggle.
    Coulter states that their foundation came from the Symbionese Liberation Army: “Coincidentally, the seven principles of Kwanzaa are the very same seven principles of the Symbionese Liberation Army, another charming invention of the Least-Great Generation. In 1974, Patricia Hearst, kidnap victim-cum-SLA revolutionary, posed next to the banner of her alleged captors, a seven-headed cobra. Each snake head stood for one of the SLA's revolutionary principles: Umoja, Kujichagulia, Ujima, Ujamaa, Nia, Kuumba and Imani – the same seven "principles" of Kwanzaa.” Karenga uses Swahili terms to embody his principles which correspond with his “Path of Blackness,” which is detailed in his Quotable Karenga: “The sevenfold path of blackness is think black, talk black, act black, create black, buy black, vote black, and live black”….Karenga’s Kwanzaa celebration consists of seven “principles.” They are Umoja (unity), Kujichagulia (self-determination – code for “buy black”), Ujima (collective work and responsibility – groupthink), Ujamaa (cooperative economics – socialism), Nia (purpose) Kuumba (creativity), and Imani (faith – in man, not God).” [source: Peterson]

    This holiday was apparently not created in the best interest of the black community. It is based in the views of a man who espouses hatred towards “God, Christians, Jews, and blacks – yes blacks,” according to Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson, who is a black man himself. It has tried to pry black people away from celebrating Christmas in its fullness by diluting it with a false secularized cultural holiday with no real basis. It encourages potential racist beliefs by separating blacks out for their own holiday to further isolate themselves in the American culture that they live in. I hope that this posting will help anyone—including blacks—not to give credence to a holiday that is considered racist, a hoax, and false throughout.

    Monday, January 16, 2006

    When lying pays... initially.

    It would seem that James Frey, whose aggrandized prose became a marketing coup after Oprah Winfrey made him a star, is in reality just the most recent incarnation of L. Ron Hubbard.

    "Methinks thou doth protest too much."

    From the Wittenberg Door Insider:
    Firebrand "Anti-Gay" Pastor Arrested for Soliciting

    According to police records, 60-year old Lonnie Latham, senior pastor of South Tulsa Baptist Church, has been arrested on a complaint of offering to engage in an act of lewdness with a male undercover officer. Latham denied the charges to reporters as he left the Oklahoma County jail and claimed, "I was set up. I was in the area pastoring..." Latham, a Southern Baptist Convention executive committee member, has often spoken out publicly against homosexuals, saying they lead a sinful and destructive lifestyle. Lonnie's lewdness charge carries a maximum penalty of up to one year in jail and a $2,500 fine.
    If you check the church website, you'll see no mention of Latham on the staff page and several official statements concerning him on the main page.

    This story is all too typical - in several unfortunate ways. Firstly, you have an individual who viscerally fights against something in which he himself has a struggle. History is replete with examples of this psychological effect.

    Secondly, and I think more importantly, there's the expected reaction from authority figures (the church hierarchy), while couched in phrases such as "our ability to extend Christ's love".

    The greater sin on Latham's part was not coming clean - admitting to the transgressions (particularly the breaking of the trust of his flock). Instead, he lied in an attempt to cover up the earlier lies. But he's human and we can expect as much, given the heap of lies under which he was living.

    Who is in the better position to administer mercy in this case - the man living under the heap of lies or those with the stones in their hands?

    I understand that the members of the church feel their trust in him has been lost, as it has. And as with a marriage which has suffered an infidelity, the earlier relationship may not be repairable. But this is up to the character of the parties involved and - ultimately - their commitment to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

    I'm not telling the church to forgive and forget - pretend that such things don't happen - didn't happen to them - but use this instead as an amazing gift to realize everyone is broken and in need of the Lord - that everyone is just a few bad decisions away from propositioning an undercover cop, if metaphorically. There is something in each of our lives that could easily be our ruination if we give enough life to it. Am I alone in this belief?

    What a beautiful thing it would be if the former pastor and this church could use this as an example of Christ's love and - even if the pastor ultimately does not stay there - show others that we really believe what we're preaching.

    Sunday, January 15, 2006

    Steeped in... libertarianism...

    If Shadegg gets the job, I'll have a modicum more hope and respect for the GOP.
    Shadegg's father, Stephen, managed Goldwater's 1952 Senate campaign, and his son stuffed envelopes and often listened as the two men talked politics. Steeped in free-market libertarianism, Shadegg became a lawyer, worked in the state attorney general's office and then served as counsel to Republicans in the Arizona legislature.

    Friday, January 13, 2006

    Look at the Kind of People were Dealing With!

    Wow!

    Reuters--Iran says to end atomic site checks if sent to UN
    Fri Jan 13, 2006 3:47 AM ET170

    By Parisa Hafezi

    TEHRAN (Reuters) - Iran said on Friday it would end voluntary cooperation with the United Nations over its nuclear program, including snap checks of atomic sites, if Tehran was referred to the U.N. Security Council for possible sanctions.

    The United States and the European Union's three biggest powers said on Thursday that talks with Iran to curb its nuclear program were at an impasse and Tehran should be brought before the Security Council.

    Iranian Foreign Minister Moocher Mistake warned that a referral would have "consequences" for the West.

    "The government will be obliged to end all of its voluntary measures if sent to the U.N. council," Mistake was quoted as saying by the official IRNA news agency.


    The official Iranian Foreign Ministry site transliterates the name as "Manouchehr Mottaki". Looks like an editor/spellcheck mishap over at Reuters.

    Somewhere Over the Rainbow, Man.

    The curious story of Rainbow Man, the famous 1970s-80s fixture at sports events.

    Hat tip to Damian Penny and Relapsed Catholic.

    Thursday, January 12, 2006

    No decisions before the morning coffee

    This is precisely why I don't consider it wise to solve differential equations or discuss the state of the relationship before I've had my morning coffee and breakfast:
    Wright is quoted as saying that the loss of brain power at daybreak is equivalent to that caused by a 0.08 per cent blood alcohol level, which 'nature' says is typically reached after quaffing four bottles of beer.

    Wednesday, January 11, 2006

    Quote of the day

    “Physicists have determined that even the most solid and heavy mass of matter we see is mostly empty space. But at the submicroscopic level, specks of matter scattered through a vast emptiness have such incredible density and weight, and are linked to one another by such powerful forces, that together they produce all the properties of concrete, cast iron and solid rock. In much the same way, specks of knowledge are scattered through a vast emptiness of ignorance, and everything depends upon how solid the individual specks of knowledge are, and on how powerfully linked and coordinated they are with one another.” -- Thomas Sowell

    Pinkos and the Brain

    In regard to the testimony of Judge Samuel Alito, the New York Times had this doozy:
    For the most part, his handling of questions from Democrats had the effect of leaving his questioner shuffling through papers in search of the next question.
    How surprising is this? As someone who's seen more C-SPAN than he possibly should (and remain sane), I can aver that today's Senators are far from scions of Intellect. Their public pronouncements are most often produced by the sweat of their fresh-faced underlings, who quite often fail to have a reasonable worldview based on historical and present facts. Today's Senator often comes off sounding academic and theoretical, like a 22 year old graduate of an elite university so inexperienced and out of touch with reality as to make one wonder what planet he calls home. The Senator sounds this way, that is, if he actually listens to his programmers and doesn't speak off-the-cuff, at his own peril. Two words come to mind: Ted Kennedy.

    Author's note: speaking of modern education, I happened across this quote from Thomas Sowell today: "Too much of what is called 'education' is little more than an expensive isolation from reality."

    Needless and heinous

    Treva Gray's death came 10 days after Dandridge arrived in Washington from a Goochland County prison, where he had just completed serving an 11-year sentence for armed robberies in Alexandria and Washington.
    The release of Dandridge seems to have directly resulted in the deaths of 8 people in less than a month.

    My first thought is "what were his 11 years in prison like - that he went from burglaries to multiple homicides?" Scratch that. My first thought, really more of a feeling, is "Die scumbag, die."

    But I do wonder why this soon-to-be-killer was released from prison while in the frame of mind that produced these murders. I understand that a sentence is finite and that a convict cannot be held longer than his sentence. So I wonder if all serious crimes shouldn't be punished with a "X years to life" sentence, wherein the convicted gets X years initially, which can be added to indefinitely if he does not exhibit clear indicators of reform.

    Perhaps a sentence between death and life exists. That would be the "X years to life to death" sentence, wherein the convicted gets X years initially, which can be added to indefinitely, which can be replaced by death if the convict's continued prison exploits warrant.

    I can't really speak to the murders themselves. Needless and heinous are the two words which spring to mind. What were the motives? Money? Who wouldn't give a burglar whatever he wanted, just to keep one's life?

    It's made me think about my situation - and what my wife and I would do if robbed. Though we have assets in banks and other financial institutions, these assets are not easily withdrawn in the amounts a burglar would immediately desire. And to get those amounts, he'd need me to do the legwork. The only possessions of serious immediate value are my wife's jewelry and our cars. A burglar can simply take these things and leave. A smart burglar will rob us and leave us to build more assets that, in time, will warrant another burglary.

    Then again, the smart burglar is something of an oxymoron.

    Tuesday, January 10, 2006

    Liberty or Tyranny?

    When the people fear their government, there is tyranny; when the government fears the people, there is liberty. -- Thomas Jefferson
    So tell me: does your government fear you or do you fear your government?

    I'd say that for most, it is neither. That is, these people are in a transition from liberty to tyranny. For ever fewer there is liberty. For me, I have deemed the government tyrannical since my mid 20s, when such things as burdensome debt (assumed on my behalf), restrictions on civil liberties, and regressive taxation on personal industry became manifest to me.

    Pence / Paul 2008

    I simply love Congressman Ron Paul. He's seemingly the lone clarion call for fiscal sanity in DC. The following words come from the latest of his weekly columns:
    ...when the federal government redistributes trillions of dollars from some Americans to others, countless special interests inevitably will fight for the money. The rise in corruption in Washington simply mirrors the rise in federal spending. The fundamental problem is not with campaigns or politicians primarily, but rather with popular support for the steady shift from a relatively limited, constitutional federal government to the huge leviathan of today.

    We need to get money out of government. Only then will money not be important in politics. It's time to reconsider exactly what we want the federal government to be in our society. So long as it remains the largest and most powerful institution in the nation, it will remain endlessly susceptible to corruption.
    Although I doubt they'd work intimately - as I doubt Paul works intimately with anyone - my current executive "dream team" is Mike Pence as President and Ron Paul as Vice President. America may not deserve them.

    Monday, January 09, 2006

    The unreasonable antifaith of Richard Dawkins

    I think this will be my last post on Richard Dawkins. After all, with comments such as this:
    Religion may not be the root of all evil, but it is a serious contender. Even so it could be justified, if only its claims were true. But they are undermined by science and reason. Imagine a world where nobody is intimidated against following reason, wherever it leads. "You may say I'm a dreamer. But I'm not the only one."
    he shows he's not a reasonable nut at all, but simply a nut.

    I was led away from Christianity for many (15+) years by much less than reason. And back to Christianity I was led in part by reason. It is an eminently reasonable faith.

    Dawkins would seem to revel in his antagonism.

    Kitty no like the sweets

    It won't be long before there's a diet based on this news. Perhaps it already has been. After all, those low-carb high-protein bars taste an awful lot like compressed Meow Mix - not that I'd know, of course.

    Sunday, January 08, 2006

    Quake in Greece

    Wow - this wasn't far from where the wife and I were honeymooning a few months back. 100 miles or less. The red dot is the location of the quake and the green circles, the places we visited (Athens, Mykonos, Paros, and Santorini).
    Magnitude 6.7 SOUTHERN GREECE
    Sunday, January 08, 2006 at 11:34:52 UTC
    Preliminary Earthquake Report
    U.S. Geological Survey, National Earthquake Information Center
    World Data Center for Seismology, Denver


    The following is a release by the United States Geological Survey, National Earthquake Information Center: A strong earthquake occurred 195 km (120 miles) S of ATHENS, Greece at 4:34 AM MST, Jan 8, 2006 (1:34 PM local time in Greece). The magnitude and location may be revised when additional data and further analysis results are available. No reports of damage or casualties have been received at this time.

    What's in a name?

    What's in a name? A lot, it would seem, if that name is Jesus Christ.
    Lt. Gordon James Klingenschmitt had said he would not eat until President Bush signed an executive order allowing chaplains to pray in public according to their individual faith traditions. Later, he said if the Navy would allow him to wear his uniform in public and pray in Jesus' name he would end his fast. Klingenschmitt told WND this evening he has received a letter from his commanding officer recommending he not wear his uniform but not prohibiting it.
    What is it about the invocation of the name of the Christ that so gets some people's underwear in a knot? In a nutshell, it's that some take Christ to have made exclusivity claims about the way to God, namely that He is the Way - about the truth, that He is the Truth - and about life, that He is Life.

    In our "all paths lead to God" / politically correct / intellectually disingenuous spirit of the age, this offends people - offends them greatly.

    Early in my following Jesus Christ, I was challenged by an unbelieving friend that Christ himself never uttered the words, "I am God". I replied, "sure he did", to which my friend, in his best Missouri attitude, asked me to show him. So we took out a Bible (which he had in his bookcase next to a translation of the Koran, which must have been because he considered the Bible another work of fiction.). And here's where I totally dropped the ball. I had heard the Gospel, read it, processed it in light of what I had learned of the universe, the earth, man, and myself, accepted Christ as the Way, the Truth, and the Life, but here I was, unable to show a friend where Christ made such audacious claims about himself. I recall later sending him a list of such references, but the window had closed. Dialogue is information, but it's realtionship as well. Said another way - more eloquently - "people won't care how much you know until they know how much you care."

    About the deity of Christ, many have written well on the subject. But to the Bible itself and its references to the deity of Christ, here is one of the better summations I've read, specifically:
    What Jesus Claimed for Himself

    Matthew 11:27
    Jesus said, "All things have been delivered to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son, except the Father; and no one know the Father except the Son and any one to whom the Son chooses to reveal him." From this verse we can conclude that Jesus thought of himself as God's Son in an absolute and unique sense and as having the exclusive authority to reveal His Father to men.

    John 8:58

    In a dispute with the Jews of His day, Jesus said to them, "Before Abraham was, I am." Christ was not merely claiming that He existed before Abraham, but that He was still in existence before Abraham. Thus, He was claiming to possess absolute eternal existence, something that only God possesses. In addition, I AM was the most revered divine name of God in the Old Testament (Ex. 3:14), so Jesus was identifying Himself with the name of God. Dr. A.T. Robertson, one of the greatest Greek scholars who ever lived, had this to say about John 8:58 after translating it "I am": "Undoubtedly here Jesus claims eternal existence with the absolute phrase used of God" (Word Pictures in the New Testament, Vol. V, pp. 158-159).

    John 10:30-33
    This is another clear passage teaching that Jesus is God: "(Christ speaking) 'I and the Father are one.' Again the Jews picked up stones to stone Him, but Jesus said to them: 'I have shown you many miracles from the Father, for which of these do you stone me?' 'We are not stoning you for any of these,' replied the Jews, 'but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God.'" When studying the original Greek of Jesus statement "I and the Father are one", the word translated "one" means one in essence, or nature, not merely one in purpose.

    Objection to John 10:30-33
    Some hold that Jesus goes on to correct the Jews in verses 34-36. This is not the case. What Jesus is simply doing is taking the Jew's statement about Him blaspheming to its logical conclusion to show that they are being inconsistent. In effect, Jesus is saying "If you say that I am blaspheming, you must also hold that God is blaspheming because He said to those by whom the word of God came, 'ye are gods.'" Nowhere does Jesus take back His statement and say that He is not one with the Father. He in fact draws a clear distinction between Himself and those "by whom the word of God came" when He says that He was sanctified and sent into the world by God.

    Jesus' contemporaries understood His claims to be God
    John 5:18 tells us that "For this cause therefore the Jews were seeking all the more to kill Him, because He not only was breaking the Sabbath, but also was calling God His own Father, making Himself equal with God."

    In John 20:28 we read, "And Thomas said to Him, 'My Lord and my God!'". The fact that those the people Jesus spoke to, including His enemies, clearly understood His claims to be God is significant. If Jesus had not intended for them to interpret Him this way, He would have corrected them.

    Jesus accepted worship as God
    The disciples, who lived with Jesus for three years, believed He is God, and so at many other times worshiped Him. Jesus accepted their worship (see Matthew 28:17, Luke 5:8)! Since God alone is to be worshiped (Luke 4:8), why did Jesus not correct these "mistakes" if He truly is just a man? Every other man of God in the New Testament who receives worship immediately refuses the worship, declaring that God alone is to be worshiped (Acts 14: 10-16, Rev. 22:8-9). Why didn't Jesus do this in a forceful way like His followers did? So,

    1. Since only God is to be worship, and
    2. Jesus accepted worship, either
    A. Jesus sinned when accepting the worship, thus disqualifying Him as Savior, or
    B. Jesus is God

    Clearly option A is unbiblical (Hebrews 4:15), so it must be true that Jesus is God.

    Perhaps even most striking is Hebrews 1:6, where God commands the angels to worship Jesus: "And when He again brought the first-born into the world, He says, 'And let all the angels of God worship Him.'"

    Jesus forgave sins
    This is evidenced in Mark 2:5 and Luke 7:48. By Jewish law, this was something that only God could do. In Mark 2:7, the scribes say, "He is blaspheming; who can forgive sins but God alone?" I may be able to forgive someone for sins committed against me, but never for sins they commit against God, and this is what Jesus claimed to do. But only God can forgive sins that are committed against Him. So,

    1. Only God can forgive sins committed against Himself (and all sins are against God).
    2. Jesus forgave people for their sins, which were against God; therefore,
    3. Jesus must be God
    I like what William Biederwolf said about the subject:
    A man who can read the New Testament and not see that Christ claims to be more than a man, can look all over the sky at high noon on a cloudless day and not see the sun.

    Space Travel May Be Possible After All

    New Scientist: Proposed engine based on Heim/Droscher models of space may make space travel feasible.

    Claims of the possibility of "gravity reduction" or "anti-gravity" induced by magnetic fields have been investigated by NASA before (New Scientist, 12 January 2002, p 24). But this one, Dröscher insists, is different. "Our theory is not about anti-gravity. It's about completely new fields with new properties," he says. And he and Häuser have suggested an experiment to prove it.

    This will require a huge rotating ring placed above a superconducting coil to create an intense magnetic field. With a large enough current in the coil, and a large enough magnetic field, Dröscher claims the electromagnetic force can reduce the gravitational pull on the ring to the point where it floats free. Dröscher and Häuser say that to completely counter Earth's pull on a 150-tonne spacecraft a magnetic
    field of around 25 tesla would be needed. While that's 500,000 times the strength of Earth's magnetic field, pulsed magnets briefly reach field strengths up to 80 tesla. And Dröscher and Häuser go further. With a faster-spinning ring and an even stronger magnetic field, gravitophotons would interact with conventional gravity to produce a
    repulsive anti-gravity force, they suggest. “A spinning ring and a strong magnetic field could produce a repulsive anti-gravity force”

    Dröscher is hazy about the details, but he suggests that a spacecraft fitted with a coil and ring could be propelled into a multidimensional hyperspace. Here the constants of nature could be different, and even the speed of light could be several times faster than we experience. If this happens, it would be possible to reach Mars in less than 3 hours and a star 11 light years away in only 80 days, Dröscher and Häuser say.


    I wonder what the earthbound implications would be? Could it make land travel instantaneous?

    Saturday, January 07, 2006

    Redskins Suck! Redskins Win!

    Canadian blogger Damian Penny waxes sarcastic about the "Offensive Juggernaut" that is the Postseason Washington Redskins. A commenter on his post said it best: "I walked to the fridge for a beer and gained more yards than the Redskins."

    This has been a miraculous season for the Redskins, but after 6 wins in a row, you can tell they're running out of steam. Their offensive line has been riddled with injuries, and the away games are taking their toll.

    I've never had any illusions that the 'Skins were destined for a Super Bowl trophy. But they're winning games and making a dent this season, and that's what matters.

    As for next week, they've beaten the Seaducks before, and they won't have to face as tough an offense as this week. So they still have a fighting chance.

    BTW, Joe Gibbs is now something like 17-5 for postseason games and 5-0 for wildcard games. He and the 'Skins are still a dangerous team. They deserve to be in the playoffs.

    Friday, January 06, 2006

    An Impossible Job

    That is Pat Robertson's spokesperson.
    Robertson said that he had personally prayed about a year ago with Sharon, whom he called “a very tender-hearted man and a good friend." He said he was sad to see Sharon in this condition.

    Robertson also said that in the Bible, the prophet Joel “makes it very clear that God has enmity against those who ‘divide my land.’”

    “God considers this land to be his,” Robertson said. “You read the Bible and he says ‘this is my land’, and for any prime minister of Israel who decides he is going to carve it up and give it away, God says ‘no’, this is mine.”

    Robertson spokeswoman Angell Watts did not immediately return a telephone call seeking comment.
    Smart girl, that Angell. Smarter still if she looks for another job. Poor Angell has been through this many times before.
    "Rev. Robertson’s remarks, as reported to me, are deeply troubling. The thrust of his remarks is that Prime Minister Sharon’s life-threatening illness is a punishment for the disengagement from Gaza. No person can know God's reasons for human illnesses or calamities," a statement issued by Weinreb said.
    I have to concur with Weinreb. Robertson is a one-man televised wrecking ball, laying waste to the efforts of many to bring the mere Gospel of Jesus Christ to the receptive. He has done good work. His ill-reasoned diatribes in recent years indicate that in his current role as an assumed spokesperson for evangelical Christians, he is a severe liability. I'd suggest he quietly remove himself from the public eye and ask God where his talents and gifts might best be used.

    Thursday, January 05, 2006

    Umm, they do

    Joshua says it best:
    Joshua said his father and stepmother got each other puppies for Christmas, which they brought to De La Vega's mother to care for before leaving town.

    "I thought they loved them more than us," Joshua told The Associated Press during an interview at his maternal grandmother's apartment.
    Umm, they do.

    What's old is new again

    Many (geeks) know that the invention of the semiconductor transistor in 1947 sounded the death knell for the glass vacuum tube (or "valve"). The use of vacuum tubes declined over the 50s - 70s as semiconductor prices dropped and their range of uses grew. By the 80s, tubes were seemingly gone altogether, at least from the consumer marketplace.

    Yet there is a element of tube aficionados (audiophiles and rockers with $$$, primarily), who continue to favor the simple and reliable devices. I was surprised to see that Western Electric, the one-time and long-time (1872-1984) manufacturing arm of AT&T is back in business. Now they are strictly manufacturing a subset of tubes, at very high prices ($1200 for a matched pair of 300B audio amplifiers).

    There's something very odd about using modern computers (utilizing millions of transistors doing things at rates tubes never could) to manufacture, test, and distribute vacuum tubes.

    Then again, this is America. :-)

    Crap-talkers take notice

    Letterman and O'Reilly got into it Tuesday night.
    The CBS star, however, couldn't resist tempering his concession with one last insult, telling O'Reilly in the next breath: "I have the feeling that about 60 percent of what you say is crap."
    Some % of what O'Reilly says is indeed crap. Letterman and I only differ in our assessment of the amount we deem crap. I see it somewhere between 10 and 20%. That's a whole lot better than most crap-talkers.

    Wednesday, January 04, 2006

    Linking money and mouth

    I was reading the Wikipedia (THE killer app of 2005 in my small world. OK, I'm slow on the uptake sometimes.) entry for Red Hat and came across this very interesting tidbit:
    Red Hat stock was added to the NASDAQ-100 on December 19, 2005.
    That's a seminal moment in the interests of the Open Source software movement, even if Red Hat's capitalization of its domain is quasi-Open Source at best.

    Tuesday, January 03, 2006

    Considering plastic surgery?

    If so, you are probably at the wrong site - or are you? (Don't you just hate when people say that?)

    Anyhow... if nothing else will cure you of a desire to alter yourself through plastic surgery, this will.

    Caveat: not for the faint of heart!

    The apple falls not far from the tree.

    Are the British imitating American habits or vice versa?
    Britons in debt to the tune of £1.13 trillion
    * 66,000 people predicted to go bust this year;
    * Average household debt is £7,650 (exc. mortgage);
    * Two-thirds of EU credit card debt is British;
    * One in five students owes at least £15,000;
    * 40% of women keep debt secret from partners;
    * Half of all heavy debtors suffer from depression
    (source: http://news.independent.co.uk/uk/this_britain/article336255.ece)

    No Class in First Class

    The following story (from The WittenburgDoor Insider) is eerily similar to one about "Hour of Power" televangelist Robert Schuller from a few years ago.
    Your Worst Flight Now! There it was on the Dallas Morning News Op-Ed page (just days after they nominated Joel Osteen as "Texan of the Year"): "Lord have mercy, what on earth got into Victoria Osteen, wife of millionaire megastar pastor Joel Osteen, on a recent flight from Houston to Vail? According to press accounts, when a flight attendant wouldn't clean Mrs. Osteen's fold-down table quickly enough, the church lady leaped up from her first-class seat and began banging on the cockpit door. The Osteen family had to be removed from the plane before takeoff. Isn't that special?"

    So much for Victoria's secret... Well, now Miss Vickie is saying it was just "a minor misunderstanding" and that she, with Joel and the kids in tow, chose "to remove myself from the situation." Alas, FBI Special Agent Luz Garcia tells a different story, saying the Osteens were asked to leave the jetliner after "an altercation" in which Victoria Osteen "failed to comply" with instructions from a flight attendant. Osteensibily, it's all a big misunderstanding, right?

    "She was just abusive," said Sheila Steele, who said she was sitting behind Victoria Osteen. "She was just like one of those divas." Steele said Osteen was upset about liquid on her pull-down tray and asked a flight attendant to have it cleaned. When the attendant, who was carrying paperwork to the cockpit, told her she couldn't do it immediately, Osteen replied, "Fine, get me a stewardess who can," Steele said. She said Victoria Osteen then pushed a flight attendant and tried to get into the cockpit. (Ya know what gets lost in the shuffle in this story? The words "millionaire megastar pastor," "first-class seat," "flight to Vail" and "diva." And we wonder why the world laughs at Christians?)
    There's a terribly flawed perspective held by many that to be on TV, one must possess superior attributes of character. If so-called "reality TV" has done nothing else to benefit mankind (likely), it has permitted some deflation of this myth. Yet, people still seem to hold in unwarranted esteem seemingly authoritative figures, such as charismatic televangelists... or their wives.

    Televangelism has long since passed its point of usefulness to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. In my world, it is far more hindrance than effective tool.

    One bit of empathy for Osteen: the utter loss of freedom presented by modern air travel does push us all to the limits of our character. Mine has been tested. I've murmured things, harbored thoughts I seldom have had on the ground, when imbued with more of a sense of freedom (control). I've become agitated at flippant responses from flight attendants (one such occasion recently). So - I understand the frustrations. But that does not forgive bad behavior.

    And one final thought. If you can't cut it in FIRST FREAKIN' CLASS, you're not going to cut it anywhere.

    Sunday, January 01, 2006

    Cryptology & Coprology

    Did you know that The Bible and the works of Leonardo Davinci foretold the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin, John F. Kennedy and Abraham Lincoln?

    Well it didn't. And neither did Moby Dick.

    One Down, 364 to Go!

    The Bible reading for January 1st is up at Bible-A-Day: Gen 1:1-2:25, Matt 1:1-2:12, Psa 1:1-6, Prov1:1-6, complete with my spiffy commentary.