Monday, February 28, 2005

Christians and Israel

My church is not a member of the World Council of Churches. There are reasons to be thankful for this. Unfortunately Mao Bi is not so lucky.

Bored of the Rings?

My brother sent me links to these animated gifs:They are definitely worth a chuckle.

On a slightly different note, what do you call a halfling chained to the end of a six foot stick?

A flail. Why is the halfling flail better than the standard model?

It gets a backstab.

Oscars and the Movies

So Amybear and I watched the Oscar together last night through the miracle of modern telecommunications. Well until 10pm at least, by then I had had enough and was checking out cartoon network for something that was actually funny.

Chris Rock. Not my choice for a host and I was sick of him by the end of his monologue. The back and forth he did with Adam Sandler about Catherine Zeta-Jones was pretty funny though. La Shawn Barber has more thoughts on Chris Rock.

Evidently Million Dollar Baby and the Aviator were the movies to beat. Haven't seen either, but I hear good things about both. The Incredibles won which is great. Saw it and it is amazing. Kinsey didn't win anything and I was happy. The movie is, ummm, a might biased about Alfred Kinsey's work which basically included pedophilia.

On a different note I realized I never blogged about the movies Amy and I rented.

Harold and Kumar Go to Whitecastle: So bad we didn't finish watching it. The whole character of Kumar, a pothead with incredible gifts, just pissed me off through most of the movie.

Wimbledon: Cute, sweet, predictable. Amybear basically said "the twists were so obvious even I can spot them ahead of time." But it was a fun movie and the leads worked well together. It provoked some decent snuggling with the fiancee afterwards too. There are worse things you could watch with members of the fairer sex.

Napoleon Dynamite: Funny. It was a little funny the first time, but we watched it the second time (third for Amybear) and it just got better because you know what was coming. The commentary track was done right. The movie has large relatively quiet sections so they don't talk over the actors. You can enjoy the movie and the commentary together. Besides you already know the good lines by the second time through. Gosh!

Media Bias and Diagnosing the Crazy Liberal

Ted Rall has been getting himself some notice in the blogosphere lately. Surprisingly enough it is for things he has written, not the poor quality of his artistic skills. Actually I probably shouldn't be surprised since I know I can't willingly bring myself to read his comic.

Anyway one of his favorite topics is ranting on the vast Right Wing Conspiracy. Again, surprisingly, he extends the vast right wing conspiracy to include CBS, ABC, and NBC. Now if he stuck to Fox News I wouldn't have a complaint. Several studies of partisanship have basically said the same thing, Fox News is ideologically similar to a lot of very moderate Republicans. The major networks on the other hand fall somewhere around the Democratic party line. If you put it on a 0 to 100 scale, Fox is in the forties and the rest are in the sixties. Which means yes, Fox is less biased and more "fair and balanced" than the major media outlets.

What does this tell us about Ted Rall? It tells us that he is so far left that party line Democrats look conservative to him. Wow. You hear similar big media comments from a lot of professional protestors for the same reasons.

So as a public service I present IMAO's Top 10 Indicators You May Be Left of Liberal.

Sunday, February 27, 2005

Early Seder

We had a seder at church last night. Yes Passover isn't until April, although Easter is in March. (The discrepancy is a roman vs. jewish calendar thing). It was interesting.

It was run by a handful of Messianic Jews who do this kind of thing on a regular basis. My mother is in a jewish/christian cross cultural class at my church which is also being taught by some different Messianic Jews. That wouldn't be remarkable except that her class was making dinner for the seder, so my gentile mother made potato kugel.

The class was good in that a lot of Baptists got a feel for what a real Jewish seder is like. That is important because to truly understand the last supper, you really need to know the seder. Even more importantly, communion/mass/whatever your denomination calls it is based on the 4th cup of wine at the seder. "Do this in remembrance of me" can takes a whole different meaning when you realize that Jesus was leading a Passover service at the time.

Range Time and Eye Dominance

So I finally got Sunshine to the range today. It was fun but long. I shot three different guns, switching between them when something started to get tired, for about an hour. Sometimes you really start to realize that you're out of shape. Today was one of those days.

I shot my hipower, my grandfather's 20 gauge, and my m1 carbine (Sunshine). I started out with the shotgun, moved to the carbine, and then ended with the pistol. In retrospect I did it backwards. The shotgun, while "only" 20 gauge, really wore my out a bit. Some of the loads were fairly stout and it gave me a good sore shoulder in short order. Enough so that I didn't shoot all the ammo I brought. But it shot where I pointed it.

Then I switch over to the carbine. Recoil was very mild and shooting it was fun. But I already had a sore shoulder so it still hurt occassionally. M1 carbines are not known for being excessively accurate, but I did ok. I'm not a rifle shooter so Sunshine is very much a training rifle in many ways. My early groups were pretty good. I was satisfied that the gun was shooting straight and ran smoothly. But after a little while of shooting offhand, I was really starting to get tired and my groups were opening up a bit. Still I was able to keep all 15 rounds in the magazine on paper at 25 yards which is decent for a guy who can count the times he has shot a rifle on one hand.

My hipower was last. I put around 75 rounds through it. I was pretty awful. Handguns need to be practiced with regularly and I hadn't shot one in over a month. Plus one of my grips is cracked and loose. Handguns shooting is a game of consistency so a damaged grip can throw everything off. I'll have to try to repair it or replace it. Anyway all my shots were pulling left. I tried everything I could think of to stop it, but nothing was helping. The last magazine I think I may have figured it out. I was actually having eye dominance problems.

Did you know people have dominant eyes just like we have dominant hands? I can't remember if I've mentioned it here or not. Take your dominant hand and point to an object in front of you. Now close of cover one eye and then try the other. If you do it right one eye, your dominant eye, should line up with your hand. Most people have their dominant hand and eye on the same side. I don't. I'm right handed but left eyed which is called cross-eye dominance. It isn't so bad that I have to shoot left handed, but I notice it sometimes especially with handguns. Ok more than sometimes.

The last magazine out of the highpower was using my left eye, the previous used my right. As a result, my last group out of the gun was less than half the size of my first ones. Damn.

For those of you looking to diagnose shooting problems from your targets, here is an article to read.

Missions Month

My church is having missions month in February. Normally it's March, but Easter is really early this year. So instead of having normal Sunday school classes at 10am, the church is having "mission's fair".

For those of you who are quick on the uptake, yes this does explain why it is 10:30 and I'm still at home.

Saturday, February 26, 2005


I finally got out to Ommelanden Public Range today. I've lived in Delaware for years now, but this is the first I have been there. It looked like a nice setup, but unfortunately the rifle/pistol range was closed. Evidentally there was a lot of ice on the range so they figured it was better just to keep it closed until it melted. Why they didn't just put down salt or sand, I'll never know.

Looks like Sunshine won't get shot until tomorrow I suppose. I've owned the gun for weeks and I haven't shot it yet. I'm getting really annoyed. The good news is that I can shoot .30 carbine at Targetmaster.

Captain America Moments

That is what Amybear calls them anyway. I went to pick up my new shooting bag from the rental office package closet. It had come when I was off proposing to Amy last weekend.

While there a guy come in asking if the complex had a maintenance guy who could give him a jumpstart. Unfortunately, they didn't. No regular maintenance people work on weekends. I always keep jumper cables in my trunk, so I offered to help. He appreciated it.

I pulled my Protege around to his Camry. Luckily he had one of the late 80s vintage cars, not the current larger Camrys Toyota started turning out in the 90s. I've tried jumping a large vehicle with my little car before and its not much fun. It took a couple of tries but we got his car started. He took off to Jiffy Lube and was going to try to get them to check his battery. Hopefully, they check the alternator too. If a battery goes it can overwork and damage the alternator so it fails soon after. Good luck buddy.

I keep a small kit in my car for these kind of emergencies. It has a flashlight, jumper cables, an electric pump, and a few other small tools. I should probably buy a small gas can to keep back there too. I've given a bunch of people jumps over the years, including a professor I who was teaching me Heat Transfer. I got an A by the way. Go figure.

Friday, February 25, 2005

Baby Names Through the Ages

Well ok, only the 20th century. But this flash tool is still pretty cool. I just wish I knew where they got their original data set.

Walmart Workers Say No to Union

Tire workers at a Colorado Walmart have voted not to unionize. Tire workers in the suburbs of Pittsburg voted similarly two weeks ago.

Why would they do this? Well among other reasons, because when workers at a store in Quebec successfully voted to unionize, Walmart closed their entire store. Nobody wants to be out of a job. Moreover, nobody wants to feel partly responsible for putting their friends out of job too.

You Go Girlfriend!

Work it, Dr Rice! Let's face it, Madeline Albright has never and will never look this good. Former Secretary Albright is more suited towards frumpy grandmotherly outfits, not knee-length high-heeled boots.

Although for a little political balance, God she hates the French.

Concerts and Late Nights

I went to the Steven Curtis Chapman concert at the Bob Carpenter Center last night. It was good, but I didn't get home until 11:30pm. And I had to make dinner for myself after I got home. And I had to get up early for work this morning. I'm pretty bushed and not all my brain cells are firing yet.

If there was a patron saint of caffeinated beverages I might be inclined to pray to them. Saint Juan of Valdez perhaps?

Thursday, February 24, 2005


Abigail Kohn's book, Shooters, is being reviewed at Reason. It is an anthropologists look at the gun culture from within. I have read a few articles written by Kohn here and there. She started out as a frisco liberal trying to get to know shooters in her local area. Eventually she started Cowboy Action Shooting, which has a prominent place in her book. I wouldn't mind picking up her book.

The review is pretty good. There are a few places were Eric Dzinski shows his pro-gun bias.
Laws that target inexpensive guns (supposedly used more often in crimes) unfairly disarm people without the means to afford more costly firearms.
You cannot disarm someone unless they already have "arms". Yes it's semantics, but Dzinski later criticizes Kohn for similar semantics. The proper technical term would be "adverse impact". Saturday Night Special Laws have a disparate effect on minority gun ownership. Its about gun purchases not disarmament.

(via: David Kopel at The Volokh Conspiracy)

Power of God, Hearts of Men

This is an amazing personal story. I'm sure stuff like it happens every day to someone.

Angry White Men

So Joe Carter was bad mouthing Hunter S. Thompson and Kurt Vonnegut today. This was after Markos "Kos" Zuniga at the Daily Kos revealed that he doesn't read much, but those two men are his favorite authors.

Joe has been pretty negative lately. He wrote a similar post not long ago ripping on Thomas Kinkade for being escapist. I'm not sure I like it. Granted I can get pretty negative too, but that doesn't make it a good thing.

The one thing I try not to be negative about is people's artistic, music, and literary tastes. There are bands I don't like. Perhaps I just don't like their style or their values. I really couldn't care about most critically recognized writers, either. They usually write on topics I don't care about and are recognized by critics because they can't or won't create works that are accessible to the general public. But that doesn't mean I think these people are total crap. It means I don't like them. There is a difference.

But I'm pretty sure that you can't take someone who's writing is so loved by so many people, even if you don't respect those people, and call it crap. If someone is touching so many people's lives, perhaps you should take a step back and try to understand why. So while I'm not a Thompson fan, I can tell by the sheer numbers of people who are that he touched something. He strummed his fingers on a common chord I don't happen to share or particularly like. But that is still an accomplishment deserving recognition.

For the record, I think it's pretty widely accepted that Thompson has been in decline for over 20 years. For that matter so has Peanuts. My experience reading Vonnegut is that it is bleak, somewhat funny, but basically not as good as Douglas Adams.

As for people who are committed to telling other their tastes are crap, or their work is worthless, just go read Ephesians 4:29 already.

Weiner Dogs for Bush

Evidentally some German canines turned out to support President Bush. Instapundit has a picture and more commentary.

Christian Political Influence

The folks over at QandO are a little concerned over the future of conservatism. They are mostly libertarians and fit in the fiscal conservative/social moderate camp of the Republican party. They are very concerned with the influence of social conservatives like James Dobson on the presidency.

I did a little commenting on their site, but I think it is worth while to reiterate here. I don't think Jim Dobson is that influential in the Christian community. Or more precisely, I think his influence is on the wane. Some of this is because Dobson has committed himself to political lobbying instead of ministry. Ministry is how you get real support in the Evangelical community, not politics. Dobson also seems to represent the Evangelicals of certain age group. People my age do not listen to Focus on the Family. We probably never will. Those that do are mostly my parents' age and are moving into retirement. Dobson himself is 68.

If you want to look at the Evangelicals who will have a big influence in the future, look at Franklin Graham or Rick Warren. The younger generation.

The recently leaked recordings of confidential conversations with President Bush indicate that he shares this assessment.
If Bush still perceives Dobson as an unsatisfiable perennial critic, it may explain why a Bush aide recently told Time, "We respect him greatly, but [Dobson's] political influence is not everything people might think."
As for the tapes themselves, it seems that their political effect is small. Most of what they have done is confirm that Bush is the guy we think he is. He is a decent caring man, not some evil manipulator looking to pull the strings of the various Republican constituencies.
What we have here is Bush being "exposed" as a decent, thinking Christian. I must admit, that when Dubya first ran for president I figured he was just another politician pandering to evangelicals by pretending to be a believer. Four years on, while I don't always agree with Bush on everything I have become convinved that he is a sincere Christian.
Good. I think Dobson and his ilk also need to realize something. I am much more loyal to my president, Republican or Democrat, than to any organization like his. The president has the weight of scripture like Romans 13 compelling my support for him. Dobson might have some ideological commonalities, but they really can't compare.

Losing Weight and Loving It

Donald Sensing has a post up on how he is losing weight. Long story short he is just eating right. Some friends of mine have started advocating the "thermodynamics diet". You can eat anything you want, you just have to consume less calories than you burn in a day.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Simple Explanations of Christian Faith

I've said "Christians need to re-engage the culture through decent apologetics" a lot around here. But I haven't really put my money where my mouth is and posted apologetic links. Oops.

Adrian Warnock offers up a simple 10 point Gospel. Honestly even this is probably too involved and has launched some theological debate. Maobi suggests the simpler Campus Crusade for Christ Four Spiritual Laws.

Joe Carter points out that the bible a can be summed up in one point: John 3:16. Unfortunately for him that may be one verse, but it is not one point. It is four.
  1. God so loved the word
  2. that he gave his one and only son
  3. that whoever believes in him
  4. shall not perish but have eternal life.
The devil, to use a figure of speech, is in the details.

Christian Influence on the Blogosphere

It seems that a lot of Christian blogrolls have been formed lately. One is the Blogdom of God. Another is the Church Directory. There is also a Reformed Blogroll and a Christian Women's Blogroll. There are more of course and these are only a sample. And of course there is some overlap between these different rolls.

I belong to two of these, the Blogdom of God and Evangelical Outpost's Church Directory. I have also opted out of certain rolls I might qualify for, but didn't want to take part in, like the Reformed Blogroll. I have noticed that my blog has really jumped on the TTLB Ecosystem because of the two I have joined. I wondered if the Christian community might be artificially inflating our importance in the overall rankings. I also worried a little that the Christian blogging community might acquire a bit of a bad name because of this.

Parableman has responded to allegations of impropriety. He gives a good philosophical analysis of how the Christian community is still acting within the spirit and letter of the Ecosystem rules. After all lots of non-christian bloggers (particularly political bloggers) are members of multiple blog alliances as well. Examples of this are people in a State blogroll (or two), a pro-life alliance, and another Republican roll. Its the same darn thing and he has a point.

Now these kind of arguments are great, but I don't find them especially convincing anymore. I've been in way too many arguments about "the spirit of the rules" with too many people that were abusing them. They had some philosophical structure in their own minds which justified their actions and my interpretation did nothing to help the situation. Eventually it just boils down to who has the best rhetoric and popularity.

Fortunately Adrian Warnock takes a different tack. His statistics show that the Christian blogosphere as judged by the Blogdom of God (which Adrian runs) is not, on average, over-represented in comparison to many other secular blog alliances. As I said, philosophy and rhetoric doesn't often float my boat, but hard numbers do my conscience good. I suppose it's the engineer in me.

Libertarians at CPAC

The right side of the blogosphere has been talking about Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC). The libertarians are a little upset that things seemed to be dominated by social conservatives as opposed to people with more libertarian leanings. Instapundit feels this is to be expected because:
Libertarians' influence, of course, has been reduced by the split over the war among libertarians...
Prior to this Libertarian influence has been reduced by the split over border policy, transportation policy, drug policy, and what to have for lunch.

If there is one thing to say about Libertarians, it is that they sure know how to disagree and fragment. Libertarians tend to all want their policy their way or they are going to take their vote and go home. After all if they wanted to sell out, they could just vote Republican and at least have prayer of winning an election. Because of this running the Libertarian Party is like herding cats. The best they can ever hope for is some token influence to prevent them from becoming a spoiler.

CNN and Firearms Law

The press has a very shaky relationship with firearms laws. Now usually this takes the form of reporting them improperly. For instance the Assault Weapons Ban was widely publicized as effecting machine guns and other select fire arms. It was not. It was about mostly superficial features on semi-automatic weapons.

Now the big kick in the media is .50 caliber sniper rifles. They could be used to shoot down airliners! Unlikely, but technically within the realm of possibility. So CNN did a story on it. Well actually they did multiple stories on it, but they really screwed up on the last one.

It seems in order to get a rifle for their current piece, they bought it for cash money out of state in what is know as a "straw man" sale. The only problem is that this is a felony. In fact they may have committed two felonies. Triggerfinger has a great overview of the development of this story on the internet and has posted followups.

The question is no longer whether they violated the law. They did. The question is now whether they will be prosecuted for it. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives says the would like to see criminal intent before they prosecute. Others have noted that intent is not a factor in this sort of statutory law.

Honestly, after seeing horrible and slanted firearms coverage from the media for decades, I wouldn't have a problem with the book being throw at CNN in this case. It would be nice to have the over-complexity of firearms law driven home to the media. Perhaps they would do a story on it. Punishing them for running stories when they have not done the required research is just icing on the cake.

Ode to Our Favorite Superhero

Joe Carter hates Superman. I can't blame him. The fact that people have documented what a dick Superman has been is kind of funny though. My favorite one is at the bottom of this page.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Grammy Music

While down south in dixie, I bought some new tunes. Amybear and I stopped off at Best Buy and they had a sale on a bunch of Grammy winning albums. So I picked up Green Day's American Idiot and the Black Eyed Peas' Elefunk. Oh and a boatload of Beatles albums that had nothing to do with the Grammies.

American Idiot doesn't really do anything for me. I do actually like hard rock mind you. But during the first listen through, the middle of the album blended together into this whiny punkish strumfest. Some songs are good, but a lot of them just all sound the same after a while. Needs more chords. And cowbell.

The Black Eyed Peas album is really fun though. It's probably the first rap album I've owned and I really like it. Amybear and I have a soft spot of Smells like Funk for instance. I know I'm a big white nerd and Amy is a cute little Jew and we're enjoying rap that isn't the Beastie Boys. Go figure.

Oh and on a slightly different, but related, topic. Ever wonder what my site would look like if Snoop was reading it? Probably not judging from the guys I've met. But I'm going to link to Gizoogle and the Ask Snoop Shizzolator anyway. I still like Ask Snoop a bit better because it also shizzolates the links, but its a lot slower. Fo' Sho...

For Those That Missed It

Amybear and I got engaged this weekend. I posted on it Friday night, but the weekends are a lull in readership around here. Some people may want the straight dirt on the proposal. A picture of the ring is there too. Amybear also commented on it a little on her blog.

Amybear and I are starting to get into the family politics and logistics of wedding planning. Hopefully everyone will still be talking to each other when the affair actually rolls around in May 2006.

Dept of Righteous Shootings

Kim du Toit keeps an informal record of self defense shootings. I make special note of today's because it happened in Smyrna, Delaware.

Writing about Writing

Joe Walter's weekly post is up. I probably should take his advice to heart. What matters is that my prose is intelligible not that it strictly follows grammatical rules. I'm going to have to repeat this to myself a lot.

I wasn't really a writer in high school, I was a math and science nerd. But I read a lot. Some of my friends were trying to become writers. I had a teacher in high school that gave writing instruction. He had written several books on writing with an emphasis on fiction, yet to to my knowledge he had never actually published a novel or even short story in his life. The conclusion they reached was that Dr. G. was full of crap. If you want me to read your book on writing, you need to prove what a great writer you are first. Otherwise you are just laying down rules that prevent people from finding their voice.

By the way, why can't you end a sentence in a preposition anyway? It seems to me that rewording those sentences just makes them more convoluted.

Monday, February 21, 2005

Which Sci-Fi Character are You?

Which Fantasy/SciFi Character Are You?

Wow Elrond. Sweet I'm an immortal bigot!

I saw this on "What Attitude Problem?" He's Princess Leia. How embarrassing for a manly man like Greg Wallace.

Oh and Michael suggested the D&D character quiz in the comments. I'm a Lawful Good Half-Elf Ranger Paladin.

UPDATE: Messy Christian is Galadriel.

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Church Organs

Amybear and I have been having a great visit, but I saw something on the news today that really pushed my buttons. No, its not the latest liberal Social Security policy statement being parroted as fact. I heard that too, but frankly I have come to expect it.

No the story was about a St John's Episcopal Church down here in North Carolina somewhere. They just accepted delivery of a 1.5 million dollar pipe organ. It is being installed in their new building. The two were designed for each other over ten years ago. It is being reassembled on site by factory workers and has over 2000 different pipes that were made to an exacting level of craftsmanship.

Now pipe organs are pretty special. My sister was married in a church with huge one. But frankly, aren't there better things you could do with $1.5 million dollars of God's money than buy a single musical instrument, no matter how heavy or imposing?

And a pipe organ? Yeah I'm sure that'll bring in the kids these days. I can see two denim clad youths sitting around talking about it after the service. "Woah did you hear it when the organist pulled the stops in the last bar of the offertory? It was totally wicked..." No wonder church attendance is dropping in the younger age brackets.

They could have had an incredible audio/visual system at a tenth of the price (because yes worship is important) and then spent the remainder on, you know, MINISTRY! Helping people! Paying off the mortgage on the new building! Being wise stewards of God's freaking resources! Gah!

Walter and Adam

Remember the Adopt a Sniper fund that Kim du Toit organizes? The worst has happened. Army Sgt. Adam Plumondore, one of the fund recipients, was killed in a carbombing in Mosul on Wednessday. He was a scout-sniper in the 24th Infantry Regiment in Mosul. Information about the family is here and more about remaining snipers in his unit is here.

I didn't know Adam personally and I am sure I am one of the least of those touched by this tragedy. I am at least a little ashamed too. Every day one of our own has paid the ultimate price in the defense of our freedom. Yet it is only when someone I know, albeit second hand, is touched, that I am grieved by it.
Gracious Lord, be with the scout-snipers of the Deuce Four this day. Comfort their hearts and guide their hands. Heal the void left behind with the death of one of their own. Strengthen them in this time of grief and empower their spirits to once again take up the heavy burden they carry for each of us.

Commit them to the execution of your Justice against their enemies. But guide their hands and temper their spirits with your Goodness and Mercy towards those who lay down their arms. Keep them safe and strong so that they can come home to their families whole in both body and spirit.

Be with the Plumondore family this day and every day forward. Be with Adam's parents and siblings to spread your peace and comfort in their time of loss. I thank you for the grace you have shown them through their friends and neighbors these past few days. May those in a position to give comfort be continually moved to do so.

I pray that Adam's soul has found rest with you, in a place where there is no war and the only shooting is done among friends.

And I pray this comfort in peace not just for Adam and his family, but for all those who have experienced loss in this conflict. Keep them ever in my heart and memory, Lord.

I pray all these things, in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Friday, February 18, 2005

Napoleon Dynamite

Amybear and I are watching it right now. Its scary. I think I used to be him in High School. God!

UPDATE: Finished watching it and then watched it a second time with the commentary track turned on. It's definitely a movie that benefits from a second viewing. The first time I just felt sorry for Napoleon. He is basically a pitiful wretch after all. The second time through it turns into a flippin catch-phrase fest.

Prior Engagement

Sorry about the lackluster blogging for the past couple of days. I had a good reason though. Yesterday I snuck down to North Carolina and popped the question to Amybear. She said yes. She was expecting me today, so I stole a march on her and showed up on her doorstep last night when she least expected it. Details to follow.

After showing the ring to my mother in Delaware, I stopped off at Amybear's mother's place in Northern Virginia. We chatted for a while and, like all good mothers, she insisted I eat something. We discussed the preparations for the wedding and talked about how the families would react to my being Christian and Amy being a Jew. The more Orthodox part of Amy's family is going to have a hard time with it.

I drove on into the night and arrived at Amybear's apartment at around 8pm. Because she had no idea I was coming, I decided to have a little fun. I bought a cell phone just for this purpose several weeks ago. Amybear did not know it existed. So I walked up to her door, ring and phone in hand, and dialed her number.

Unbeknownst to me, Amybear had been taking a nap. She woke up a wee bit groggy. "Hey I thought you were at a Bible Study thing," she said.

"I miss you," I replied, expertly dodging the question of where exactly I was.

"Awww, I miss you too."

"I wish you were here," I said leadingly.

"No, your supposed to be here" said she.

"Well what would you do if I was?"

"I don't know..."

"Why don't you open your front door and find out."

So she opened the door and there I was, a day early with ring in hand. Amybear was in a state of shock. I had expected her to start tearing up at this point, but she was just too surprised. She insisted I come inside and said that I had to do it right. So I got down on one knee and asked her to marry me. She said yes, but that I wasn't supposed to be here until tomorrow. She hadn't finished cleaning the bathroom yet and she still needed to go to the grocery store.

I laughed. She looked down at the ring on her finger and kept asking me if I was really here or if she was still sleeping. Finally about ten minutes later it started to sink in. She called her parents and teared up a bit. I called mine and told them to pass the word.

"You got me good. You really got me good." And so I had, and she's mine for the rest of my life.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Support a Sniper

Kim du Toit's site actively donates material support to Walter and Adam, two snipers in Iraq. Pictures of the contents of this month's care package are here. Note the Tampax in the last picture. Yes Walter and Adam are men, but it turns out that tampons are also amazing first aid technology. They are sterile and sanitary and are designed to staunch blood loss. Basically they are instant field dressings. Maxipads are also popular for broad surface wounds. Go figure.

Oh and they sent them boresnakes for their rifles. I recently bought one in .30 cal for my M1 carbine. Long story short, my cleaning rods are going into storage and I'll be buying appropriately sized boresnakes for all my firearms from here out. They are wonderful and I don't have to worry about damaging my barrel crown.


Amybear and I sent each other E-cards from the Hallmark site for Valentines Day. Their site was understandably swamped by the holiday and we both had a lot of trouble viewing our respective cards. When I say "understandably" that doesn't mean we weren't ticked off. Today I received this email in my inbox:

An actual apology. That's a nice touch. Although sending it to me means they must have my address in a log file somewhere. Thats a little disconcerting, but I suppose it should be expected.

The Gay Gene

No, not that guy down the hall in college who wears a lot of paisley. Dawn Eden is blogging about recent genetic studies surrounding homosexuality. Turns out that predisposition may not be the case after all.

Frankly I could care less about ties between genetics and homosexuality. Addiction seems to have genetic markers for predisposition, but no one ever says that makes alcoholism a good thing or morally right. Genetics is not a moral justification for a lifestyle. The question is not "is this genetically predisposed?" but "is this good and healthy?" The rest is just a rhetorical diversion.

As for homosexuality, well I've probably said this before but I've had a bunch of new viewers lately. I think Christians spend way too much time talking about it. As if being gay were more important than not knowing Christ or something. It seems to me that sharing Christ with people will help empower them to leave a lifestyle that is unhealthy. Folks, gay people who don't know Jesus have a bigger problem than being gay. We need to have perspective here.

But for some reason the uptights can't get their heads wrapped around this. I suppose engaging homosexuals for Christ would actually involve, you know, talking to them instead of shouting at them. It's time for relating not berating.

Ripguard to Inspire New Innovations in Piracy

Macrovision, the folks behind those annoying lines on your tv and vcr, have created a technology called RipGuard to prevent or at least reduce DVD piracy.
Macrovision announced on Tuesday a new program that it says will block nearly 97 percent of the illegal DVD-copying software used by Internet pirates.
The company remained mum about the remaining 3% of ripping software which will shortly expand to encompass 100% of that marketplace.

I know I'm a cynic. But if you can play it on your computer or your tv, then thousands of people will be working day and night to build the tools to rip the damn thing. It's only a matter of time, so hopefully your encryption is good enough that it'll take a while to crack. But thats all we're talking about, the interval until it is cracked.

Will Collier has similar thoughts.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Seeing Creation from the Outside

GQ has an essay up on one correspondent's trip to Creation. Yes that GQ and yes the Creation festival at Agape Farm in Pennsylvania. It is a huge festival with thousands of people and John Jeremiah Sullivan wrote almost as many words about it.
I've been to a lot of huge public events in this country during the past five years, writing about sports or whatever, and one thing they all had in common was this weird implicit enmity that American males, in particular, seem to carry around with them much of the time. Call it a laughable generalization, fine, but if you spend enough late afternoons in stadium concourses, you feel it, something darker than machismo. Something a little wounded, and a little sneering, and just plain ready for bad things to happen. It wasn't here. It was just...not. I looked for it, and I couldn't find it. In the three days I spent at Creation, I saw not one fight, heard not one word spoken in anger, felt at no time even mildly harassed, and in fact met many people who were exceptionally kind.
This has been my impression of every large christian event I have been to. In most places, if you get 20,000 people together, they start to chafe against each other. Or they ignore each other. At Christian events, when someone drops something three people stop to help them pick it up. People bump into perfect strangers and apologize. I'm not going to say Christian conferences are heaven on earth or some crap like that, but I will say it is an interesting contrast. Sullivan notes more of them as you read. It is long but worth it.


Mark D. Roberts is doing a series on the TNIV. Mark is a pastor with Permanent Head Damage in the New Testament. I know some people in my bible study have expressed concern about the TNIV and I know I'll be reading his series closely.

Meet the New Boss...

So Howard Dean is now the head of the Democratic National Committee. Evangelical Outpost is linking to this hilarious analysis of Dean's attempts to woo evangelical voters in his new position.

My take? I think the Democrats have probably shot themselves in the foot. I don't see Dean as the man that can lead the Democratic party back to majority status. His campaign stance on the war screamed extremist. Perhaps he didn't believe that and was simply using that to appeal to primary voters. If so, he's in for more trouble.

On the religion issue, Dean and the rest of his party seem to think that it's all a matter of rhetoric. If they just say the right things, they can bring in the Evangelicals. The problem is that by and large the Evangelical conception of morality includes a hefty integrity requirement. Which means it isn't just what you say, it is also what you do, who you support, and the unity of thought that ties them together.

I've known Evangelical ministers who run their churches like Dean wants to run the Democratic Party. They decide what they want to do and then consult the bible for some verses to justify their own ideas. Then whip that into a sermon to preach on Sunday. Those ministers don't tend to have very large churches in my experience.

Iraqi Election Results

Patrick Ruffini has created a map illustrating the results of the Iraqi Elections.

(Via: Instapundit)

Whitney Wolverine

Here is an interesting gun that is being brought back by Olympic Arms. It's the Whitney Wolverine. Its a .22lr automatic that looks like something out of a space opera. In fact some sci-fi TV shows have used them as props.

The Wolverine is very simple and at one time was produced under several brands each with a different look. The working metal parts are simple and self contained such that the space gun exterior is just an injection molded shell.

Neat stuff. Supposedly Olympic is just waiting on magazines until they bring it to market.

Monday, February 14, 2005

Heavenly Fatherhood

Greg Wallace is talking about the influence of Fatherhood on life and faith.

I think fatherhood is probably one of the least respected roles in pop culture and it has been for some time. We have a culture that really lauds motherhood and single motherhood, but doesn't really appreciate fathers. With the exception of Redd Foreman on That 70s Show, pop culture fathers tend to be bumbling lunks that are redeemed solely by their choice of competent mates.

Honestly this isn't a good thing for a number of reasons. In terms of earthly concerns, kids need fathers. The most obvious reason is money. Raising children on two incomes is much better than raising them on one. Some studies have shown that the majority of single parent families were below the poverty line. The other is that kids need a father's hand sometimes. Boys specifically need fathers or at the very least strong male role models. I suppose it has something to do with the headstrong male psyche.

The other concern is a more spiritual one. God is often described as our Heavenly Father. Some people with bad family histories have trouble with that. I know one woman who was abused as a child and it colored her perception of God as Father for most of her life. It completely altered how she saw God and it wasn't until after she became a Christian that she really was healed of it.

Speaking as a man about to get engaged, I pray I am a good father to my yet unconcieved children. The thought that I may be used as the image of God to them is just a wee bit intimidating.

Google News: Unfair and Biased?

I use Google News on a regular basis, you probably use it too. Ever wondered whether it was biased? Honestly, I have considered the idea. In the end I assumed I was over-reacting. News in general tends to lean a little left. And the actual decisions are made by machines right? It's all based on mathematical formulas using statistics and numbers, so how can editorial bias get into it? Then I saw two stories from Michelle Malkin.

Long story short Google is a company that votes mostly Democrat. 98% of the $207,650 they donated went to the Dems, more than any other tech sector company. Ok so what?

Well it turns out that they have been embracing left wing news sources, while excluding their right wing counterparts. Google considers Wonkette, a capitol hill gossip blog, a news source. It considers Democratic Underground, a forum for leftwing partisan hackery, a news source too. But when right wing sources like Michelle Malkin or Little Green Footballs attempt to get listed, they are turned down for various reasons.

So if you start to feel that Google News is a little biased, perhaps it is. It is called the gatekeeper phenomenon. The algorithms may be bipartisan, but if the pool they draw from is not, then the picture is skewed anyway.

2005 Grammy Awards

Amybear and I watched some of it together thanks to the lovely people at Verizon and 10-10-987. We would rather be snuggling and watching in the same room, but at least this way we have some shared experience. That really helps when you are long distance. What can I say, we're taking joy in the little things.

One big annoyance this year was that suits seem to be in style again, but nobody is bothering to wear them properly. Take almost everyone in Maroon 5. The suits are too small and they pull across the chest. It makes them look like Pee Wee Herman. Or heroin addicts which is at least appropriate for Scott Weiland. This phenomenon seemed to be confined mostly to the skinny white artists because the black folks and latinos seem to have better sense of style. My mother is a tailor and I've worked in a men's clothing store a time or three myself so this irked me.

Jennifer Lopez and husband Mark Anthony-Lopez sang a much hyped duet. Completely in Spanish. With an extravagant set that made no sense, since the song was completely in Spanish. It was long and awful. Lopez didn't even look good in her dress. It looked like a she was wearing a sequined sack with a big ass belt. And the reviewers of her first album were right, she doesn't have an especially good voice. Mark Anthony looked kind of nasty and ragged, it isn't a good look for him.

On a different note, Third Day won the Grammy for Wire. It's a good album, but I really like their second album, Conspiracy No. 5, better. They seem to have mellowed as they have aged and I'm in a harder rock mood right now.

Lovely Valentines Day

I woke up this morning to a mixture of rain and light snow. Its cold its windy, its rainy, and my girlfriend is 7 hours away. My real Valentines Day will happen this coming weekend. I'm going down to see Amybear and blogging will be light at the end of this week because of it.

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Caches and Arsenals

Alas I didn't get out to shoot my M1 carbine today. I did get to show it to my dad though. My dad is a veteran and served in the Army in Korea in the late 1950s. This was after the war but also when the military though a new one might be starting at any time. He remembered the gun enough to know that the metal upper handguard Auto-Ordnance put on mine isn't GI spec (it should be wood). I think he went through basic with the M1 Garand though and I'd imagine his memories of that M1 are a lot clearer.

My dad rarely talks about his stint in the military. However seeing him handle my gun and the look of recognition in his eyes has already paid for the purchase. Perhaps I'll get a CMP garand some time in the future.

On the topic of buying guns and gun collections, QandO has a story about gun control in Canada. I'd like to bring to your attention the following language:
Two people are facing charges after Toronto police uncovered a large cache of weapons and ammunition in a north Toronto apartment.
What are the specific contents of said "large cache"?
Seven guns, including a high-powered sniper rifle, and a large amount of ammunition were seized. Police say there were military knives, 1,000 rounds of ammunition and a small amount of explosives.
There are two words that I hate to see in print "cache" and "arsenal". Once, just once, I'd like to see someone call one of these a "collection" instead. The actual contents of the "cache" aren't that intimidating for people that actually understand firearms. Let me decode the actual contents of the "cache" for the laymen reading this:
  • Seven firearms This isn't actually very many. My grandfather was a hunter who never lifted a firearm against his fellow man. He owned 5 guns. It really isn't hard to need 5 to 9 guns depending on the firearms sports you pursue. If you hunt, each animal generally requires at least one weapon. Most shooting sports also require several guns each. Seven guns isn't an impressive number. Hell, most small gun cabinets have room for eight.
  • High-powered This phrase is reporter-speak for scary. There isn't any other way to translate it. Journalists regularly talk about AK-47s and AR-15s firing "high power rifle cartridges". They don't. They fire intermediate rifle cartridges that aren't powerful enough to hunt with in most states.
  • Sniper rifle This could be sniper rifle, but it is also could be any scoped hunting rifle. The two are practically indistinguishable and reporters and politicians can't generally tell the difference. Remember that when someone in your area wants to ban "sniper rifles".
  • Military knives A kabar or two maybe? Perhaps a bayonet? By the way the military doesn't actually issue knives and bayonets much anymore. They aren't seen as useful anymore.
  • 1,000 rounds of ammunition This sounds like a lot but it isn't. When I received my grandfathers shotgun I probably inherited over a hundred rounds of ammo to go with it. Ammunition doesn't generally go bad, so a smart shooter buys in bulk. Typically, bulk means a five hundred to a thousand rounds at a time in each caliber they shoot. In some shooting sports, like some of the clay games or action shooting games, you will go through several hundred rounds in a days competition.
  • A small amount of explosives These are most likely reloading components. Remember when I said smart shooter buy in bulk? Smarter shooters reload their own. It allows for better precision than commercial ammo and it's also a lot cheaper. The gunpowder and primers used to do this are explosives.
Amybear and I have talked about gun ownership. She would prefer that I not build an "arsenal". She'd like me to draw the line at 10 guns. I think I can do that unless I start playing a serious shooting sport like cowboy action which requires 4 guns (2 single action revolvers, a shotgun, and a pistol caliber rifle). But I won't do that without her blessing anyway.

I have 4 guns in mind currently (an AR-15, .22 rifle, .22 pistol, and a double action .38/.357 revolver). I basically shoot handguns so the .22 pistol gives me lots of trigger time and the revolver forces me to learn trigger control. The .22 rifle is great for short range rifle shooting (25-50 yards) and the AR-15 for longer range target shooting (100-200 yards) at the fairly short rifle ranges around here.

Saturday, February 12, 2005

New Guns and Eating Crow

Gun shops are weird things. They are some of the last havens of manliness. Whether this is good or bad depends on the shop. Amybear went to X-ring in Newark with me and was decidedly uncomfortable. She had a distinct sense of not belonging. On the other hand I have gradually gotten to know the guys at Millers. I really like that shop a lot and it has a very nice atmosphere. It isn't uncommon to see women there and men will often bring their wives or girlfriends.

Occasionally it is the other way around. I talked to a nice older lady who brought her husband in to buy her some guns. They both shoot cowboy and clays together. She warned me that if I ever taught Amybear to shoot, she would probably be beating me in short order. Evidently her daughter is a much better shot than her husband. I told her that was a risk I was willing to take.

So I picked up my M1 at Miller's Friday night. The salesmen were all asking to take a look at it, since Auto-Ordnance just started making them and they are relatively new on the market. Plus a lot of them are old timers who actually carried the darn things in the military. The showed me how to strip it and noted that it was all new manufacture just as AO said it was. GI issue parts have contractor's marks on them, but the AO parts were clean. They told a few stories like "when I bought my first one of these they were $20 including shipping and handling from the NRA." Another was "we sold Chinese surplus guns like this for $80 in the 1980s." Oh well. The consensus is that my gun looked pretty good and was in a lot better shape than most of the surplus ones they have seen lately.

This morning I picked up some packages from the office which included a sling and oiler for the gun. I couldn't get the darn thing to go on, so back to Miller's I went. I figured there was a trick I must be missing and I was prepared to eat crow for not knowing it. The answer: nope no trick just put the sling around the oiler and pull like hell. I took it home, laid it on the carpet, braced the gun under my knees, and pulled as hard as I could. The darn thing popped in alright. Tomorrow I hopefully get to shoot it.

Friday, February 11, 2005

Lawyer Convicted of Conspiracy

I really don't know much about this case. Attorney Lynne Stewart, known for representing revolutionaries and radicals, has been convicted of conspiracy after acting as a message courier for one of her clients. Said Stewart:
"I hope this is a wake up call to all the citizens of this country," she said outside court. "You can't lock up the lawyers."
I have a question. Why the hell not? Lock up all lawyers, no. There are too many and the other inmates would complain. That and some lawyers are actually good people.

But being a lawyer does not and should not place you above the law in some sort of protected elite class of citizenry. This sort of elitism just pisses me off. Attorney-client priviledge is one thing, but mounting an effective defense for your client does not require you to do terrorists dirty work.

Irreverant Bible Commentary

IMAO has been doing some very irreverant bible commentary. He's Catholic (and running a comedy site) so some of this can be excused. Thinking back across literature there is an interesting phenomenon. One is that the clowns and comic characters are the ones who can most easily speak the truth. In The Three Musketeers it was Porthos, the most foolish of the Musketeers, who points out:
Do you know that to twist that damned Milady's neck would be a smaller sin than to twist those of these poor devils of Huguenots, who have committed no other crime than singing in French the psalms we sing in Latin?
Continuing this tradition, Frank J. points out:
We have Jesus, the son of God walking among man and delivering messages of immeasurable value, and, having that, I don't give a rats ass about the validity of Genesis. It's piddling crap in comparison. Jesus showed me my value and my worth, and the exact details of how humanity came about thousands or millions of years ago will not affect that. Furthermore, the more time spent arguing about it, the more people think Christians are loons and the less time Jesus's word gets spread.
While I don't exactly share all of his sentiments, I do understand where he is coming from.

Perhaps one day I will weigh in on Intelligent Design vs. Evolution in depth, but it won't be today. Long story short on the subject, neither one strikes me as particularly good science.

Good Diet Sodas

I've been trying to cut back on my empty calories for a while. The result has been trying several diet low-suger alternative materials.

I tried splenda-laced ice cream once. It has a little sticker that says "may have a laxative effect." I didn't see that though so I ate it like regular ice cream i.e. out of a big ole bowl. Boy howdy they weren't kidding. So only real ice cream, or at worst frozen yogurt, for me.

Still a big success has been cutting out most of my real soda intake in favor of "diet" alternatives. This let me drop tons of refined sugar from my diet. The following is a list of diet beverages that evidentally don't suck:
  • Diet Pepsi Vanilla
  • Diet Dr Pepper
  • Diet Cherry Vanilla Dr Pepper
  • Diet Coke Lime
  • Diet Nestea Cool Lemon
  • Diet Cheerwine
  • Water
Of these I have not tried Diet Cheerwine, but it uses Splenda so there is reason to have faith in its goodness. Amybear recommended it though and she has notoriously bad taste in this regard. She was raised on Diet Coke and thinks that real Coke tastes "funny". It was a wicked trick in mental conditioning perpetrated upon her by her otherwise saintly mother.

If anyone else has a favorite that doesn't taste awful, let me know and I'll append it to the list.


I carry a knife on a regular basis. Don't worry I'm not Crocodile Dundee, it's a Gerber Ridge Knife. The liner-locking blade is under two inches, so small it doesn't qualify as a weapon. That means I can carry it at work. I work in a federal building so carrying a weapon is a no-no. A federal crime no-no. It is also matte black so very few people notice it, even exposed on my belt.

I have discovered that having even a little knife on me is really handy. My brother noticed too which is why he bought himself one. He actually bought a mini ridge which is about 20% smaller than my knife. It's so small, he keeps it in his coin purse.

Should my Ridge ever break or I ever need an upgrade, the Kershaw Ken Onion Chive is probably a good choice. I also like its larger brother, the leek. Ken Onion is the designer of both and they feature his Speed Safe opening technology. They both come in Boron Carbide and Titanium Nitride finishes that are nice, tough, and black.

UPDATE: On the topic of sharp pointy objects, a coworker noticed the sword background on my computer. He mentioned that MWR is running a beginners fencing class during March. Tuesday is a good night for me and the class is only $35. I may have to try it.

LA Times Issues Dobson Correction

Remember what I wrote about James Dobson? Well some folks are actually printing retractions to their editorials. If you have registered with them, a link is here. If you haven't the text is below.
SpongeBob — An editorial Saturday about children's literature and cartoons erroneously stated that James Dobson of Focus on the Family declared that SpongeBob SquarePants is a homosexual sponge. Instead, in a speech last month, Dobson criticized as pro-homosexual a tolerance video featuring SpongeBob, Big Bird and others.
This original editorial is here. It is a typical editorial in that it didn't bother to check if any of it's "facts" were actually true. Why let truth get in the way of good writing or, in this case, bad writing?

The Four Laws of Firearms Safety

I don't think I've talked about these yet but I probably should have. The four rules (or laws) are:
  1. All firearms are loaded. Always.
  2. Never point a firearm at anything you are not willing to destroy.
  3. Keep your finger off the trigger until your sights are on the target.
  4. Be sure of your target and what is behind it.
There is an implied fifth rule, which is check everything for yourself and don't make assumptions. When someone hands you a gun at a gunshop or sporting goods store, check the chamber to make sure it is unloaded. Do this even if you saw the clerk check it before they handed it to you.

Those of you that are swift on the uptake may have noticed something. The four rules are redundant so in order for you to have a tragic accident you have to break more than one. That is a very important feature.

These and more can be found at the firearms glossary.

Firearms Manuals

In a quest for greater manliness I present this archive of firearms manuals. Keep in mind some are quite large.

The listing includes a manual for the M1 carbine. I will hopefully be picking up mine from my gun shop after work today.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Bumper Stickers

On a lighter note, A Small Victory is pointing out this neat online bumper-sticker maker.

UPDATE: Awww thank you dear. I wova you so much my huggly snuggly kissy-boo. That last bit was thanks to you Michael. ;)

Nuclear North

North Korea has confirmed it has nukes. I would like to point out that threats like this are the whole reason we are pursuing National Missile Defense in the first place.

UPDATE: The article has a great quote from the North Korean Foriegn Ministry:
It added that Washington's alleged attempt to topple the North's regime "compels us to take a measure to bolster its nuclear weapons arsenal in order to protect the ideology, system, freedom and democracy chosen by its people."
Freedom and democracy chosen by its people? Did North Korea get its Koreas mixed up or something?

Pop quiz, if a nation's name has the words "democratic" and "people" in it, like say the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea, what isn't it? Thats right its not actually a popular democracy. If your nation actually was those things you wouldn't have felt the need to put it in your country's name. You don't see North Dakota calling itself the Democratic People's Republic of Dakota do you? No. This even goes for the United States of America. When the USA picked that name, our states were far from being actually "united" in anything.

If they had fed that line to me I would have laughed in their faces. Well at least I would if they weren't insane with nuclear fricking weapons!

Presidential Prayer

Ambra Nykol is calling for more prayer for George W. I'd like to show my Baptist roots with a big Amen.

I'm very proud that my church takes time to pray for our spiritual and political leaders on a regular basis. We do this regardless of party or theology.

Failing Enterprise

Stephen Green is reporting that Enterprise is making its final voyage. UPN has canceled the series.

Several alternatives for a new series have been suggested. One would be the teeny bopper Starfleet Academy concept. It's Dawson's Creek, but in space! Set phasers to sexy! Well at least Amybear and I would be able to watch Star Trek together provided the cadets were hunky/cute enough. Other alternatives would be CSI: In Space! or the West Wing: In Space! I think people are picking up on the trend by now.

Another suggestions would be Fleet Marines, a story about the ground pounders of the Trek world. This could be based on some of the WWII series like Combat. Another might be a show about a freighter trying to pay the bills in the Trekiverse. The second would never get made of course. The current batch of writers isn't capable of coming up with a decent story that doesn't have the Prime Directive in it. Sorry, did I say "decent" story?

Supposedly these ideas would save Star Trek. Frankly I think the first thing to do is fire Rick Berman and Brannon Braga. These are the "creative" producers that copied (yes copied) Babylon 5 to create DS9. Evidently then they copied the premise of Gilligan's Island to create Voyager. Finally they copied a particularly disappointing bowel movement to make Enterprise. They can probably massacre any good concept before it gets off the ground with well meaning suggestions. (Let's have the hot "decontamination" scene between the hot Vulcan chick and the southern yokel engineer.)

Just for the record, I did like some of the things they did with Enterprise. For instance turning the Vulcans from a noble and logical race totally incapable of self-interest or deception into the arrogant, deceitful, and racist masterminds of Enterprise was great. I really really liked it. I particularly love the episode with the Andorians taking the monastery hostage in the first season. Finding out that Andorians were right about the Vulcans using the monastery as a listening post was wonderful.

But really what I think Star Trek needs at this point is a nice rest.

UPDATE: Ike has pointed out that Enterprise basically took Vulcan from Tolkien all-wise elf to trickster mythological elf. I hear the next Trek series will have the Vulcans living in a big tree and making cookies. In Space!

Wednesday, February 09, 2005


My thoughts on James Dobson are mixed.

On the one hand he's basically been lambasted in a mass media version of whisper down the lane. Dobson made some prominent comments about a cartoon special on tolerance which included tolerance of sexual orientation. The Spongebob Squarepants cartoon was one of many involved in this special. Somehow his statements were conflated with Spongebob's status as something of a gay icon. Now many people believe he said that Spongebob himself was gay and the Spongebob show was promoting that lifestyle. He didn't say that at all, he said that this tolerance special was promoting things we ought not be tolerant of. I would think that is a statement that should develop a lot of controversy on its lonesome without bringing Bikini Bottom pineapple dwellers into it.

But unfortunately the media, large and small, has not bothered to check any original sources. It's not uncommon. So its "Evangelical Leader Dobson attacks Spongebob". Besides over the top accusations get a lot more ratings and page hits right? Who wants to shed light when heat is just as good?

So I do sort of feel for the guy. I own one of his book Life on the Edge which is about transitioning to adulthood. I received it as a high school graduation gift. But honestly Dobson is bringing this on himself and bears responsibility. Why do I say this?

When I was at Jiffy Lube getting my oil changed Saturday, I read his bio in Time's "25 Most Important Evangelicals" cover story. I hadn't realized that he stepped down as head of Focus on the Family (which is admittedly something of a political organization) to instead focus on lobbying for the Cause full time. Don't ask me what he thinks the Cause is. It certainly seems only peripherally related to the saving grace of Jesus Christ.

This is why you heard some quotes by Dobson after Bush won the election. He effectively said that the president owed evangelicals for his reelection and needed to pay up. This is why you hear quotes by Dobson now about children's cartoons. He's thrown his hat in the political arena and frankly he's doing a piss poor job of it. I expect him to say more stupid things in the future and to get more bad press, not just for himself but for Evangelicals like me too.

Thanks a lot Jim. Why is this happening? Because he's fighting the wrong damn battle. Christ deliberately stayed out of politics for a reason. He knew it would only confuse the issue. Dobson should think and follow his example. Focus on Christ and communicating him to a world that is forgetting Him, not social issues and definitely not politics.

Chinese New Year

Today is the first day of the Chinese New Year. Gone is the Year of the Monkey. We're in the Year of the *ahem* Male Chicken. Let the dick jokes commense!

Wawa for Lunch

I picked up a ten inch sub (hero, hoagie, poorboy, whatever) for lunch at Wawa today. They were still selling their green 64 oz. Travel Mug. 64 ounces of coffee! Thats four pounds if you use the metric system!

Now if you haven't seen this thing, trust me it ain't a mug. Not unless you play Center in the NBA. Oh, it's mug-shaped sure. But in actual size it would be best described as a Travel Pot or perhaps a Koffee Keg. It is mammoth. I am very surprised they don't sell a tap for it so you could pick up coffee for the entire workplace.

There have got to be some jittery truckers out there with these things my friends.

UPDATE: Just to help anyone else picture this, 64 fluid oz is a half-gallon. Of coffee. After that I'd be so hopped up I could travel through time. Forget driving a truck, I could pull it myself...

Low Ride Ers

Amybear sent me this one. Evidentally the state of Virginia has nothing better to do than fine people for wearing their pants so low that their underwear shows. The law allows for a $50 fine that "displays his or her underpants in a lewd or indecent manner." So guys and girls, if your going to wear 'em low, you have to go commando in Virginia.

UPDATE: Ambra Nykol noticed it too, her mixed emotions are filed under "crack is whack."

Oooh Pretty Pictures...

And Jeff the Baptist spake and a new blog layout was delivered unto ye...

Bye bye stock Harbor layout. I won't miss you.

I had originally planned this for a blog competition I entered, and then the New Year, but finally I bit the bullet and got it to the "good 'nuf" point that I could put it on the main site. Things may change a little as I adjust fonts or margins a bit, but I'll probably be the only one that notices.

Feel free to comment and make suggestions below. I've checked it out in Firefox, Mozilla (a bit of the top graphic gets cut off as usual), and IE 6. If you are using something else please let me know if it looks ok. Thanks and I hope you like it.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Mapquest Evolved

My brother sent me a link to Google Maps. I had no idea maps could be so fun.


Dawn Eden (remember her from my last post) has been smeared by Womens Wear Daily. Dawn is a former copy editor at The New York Post. WWD alledged that she was forced to leave after conduct unbecoming regarding a stem cell op-ed. Not only is it false, but what they suggest is impossible. The Post's computer system won't allow it and would keep records of it even if it did. The New York Observer is coming to Dawn's defense with story of its own shortly.

I would bluster and spew profanity on her behalf, but the attack piece was in Womens Wear Daily after all. Thats like being personally insulted by an Abercrombie Catalog isn't it? Anyway I hope Dawn sues.

UPDATE: The New York Observer article is up. Dawn Eden is commenting on it at her site.

Baby Killers on the Loose

Dawn Eden picked up on a New York Post story on Amy Grossberg and Brian Peterson's current exploits.

Grossberg and Peterson killed their newborn son in a Newark, Delaware hotel room. They kept her pregnancy a secret and until she gave birth in the Howard Johnson's. They beat him to death and then threw him a dumpster. The bloody sheets from her delivery gave them away. I was a sophmore at the University of Delaware at the time. She lived two dorms over from me (she was a freshman). He served 18 months (!) in prison and she did two years. Now he works for his parents in Florida and is married. She lives with her parents and is becoming a "talented artist".

Grossberg's parents claim she didn't do anything wrong. That in a nutshell should tell you how to raise a monster.

Children's Movie Morals

Instapundit watched Mulan II with his daughter and other's are basically saying that the moral of the movie is crap.

I must say that my opinion of children's fare has dropped precipitously lately. I like cartoons. I watch them a lot. But frankly most of the stuff I see coming out may be funny and entertaining, but its also morally repugnant to me.

Take Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron for instance. Spirit is movie about a horse in the Old West who gets caught and ridden, but never broken. After experiencing cruelty and enslavement at the hands of every white man he meets (including cowboys, farmers, and various ranks of the US Army), Spirit eventually finds love with a nice appaloosa mare and they are set free by a Native American teenager to roam with his own herd once again. The most obvious moral of the story? White men are evil and not to be trusted. There is not one positive portrayl of a white dude in the whole damn movie. The second most obvious theme is that the entire American west, perhaps the most important formative years of the modern United States, was attained through nothing but persecution and enslavement.

Another one is the Power Puff Girls. I really like this show myself. But when you look at the characters, the men in the show (especially the Mayor and at times the Professor) are portrayed as idiots. I often wonder what morals my kids would get out of watching it, other than all problems can be solved by ignoring parents/authority figures and then resorting to violence. Part of the reason the show is so fun is because PPG does do this, which creates great moments of dark and ironic comedy, but its not the example I want set for my kids.

Which really takes me to my thesis. Parents should watch what your kids are watching. When I talked to my cousin about Spirit after watching it with her kids she got very defensive. Understandable. She had obviously not watched the film herself. She had bought it to show her kids something and keep them occupied and quiet. So she is basically trusting the producers to make a good film. When I look at the people who make these movies (and the relationship/family trainwreck that is Hollywood) I find that I really can't do that.

UPDATE: A good friend of mine is a serious Disney-phile but is also passing on Mulan II. This is partly because the animation isn't up to the theatrical snuff. However he also thinks Mulan II is selling out authentic chinese concepts of authority and duty that were embraced in the first movie for poorer modern conceptions of the same.

Tracking Christians

Michelle Malkin has a story on Muslims using the internet to track and persecute christians.

My church supports several missionaries to entrenched Muslim countries. They aren't technically missionaries. They couldn't get into these countries with "christian missionary" on their visas. They are language teachers or import/export corporation managers for local goods. They provide services and, at the same time, do relationship evangelism to the locals.

Now I can't say which countries because this post is on the internet and could expose them. My church went so far as to use a code word for them that I can't remember. I'll just refer to the place as France then. If demographic trends continue, it will be accurate in a few years anyway. So we can't say "missionary to France" or "pray for to French people" even in our own church bulletin. We use the code word in all written correspondence.

We're doing this because there is an Islamic network out there that gathers intelligence on missionaries. It probably even reaches the shores of the US. So when the riots in France start up again, and they will, we want to keep our missionaries off the inciting mullahs' master list. They'll still have to run for cover, because being obviously non-French is enough to attract the mob's attention during a riot, but hopefully they'll live and be able to restart their ministry when things calm down.

Air America

Air America is struggling and it's small rating share has dropped even more. They went from 1.4 to 1.2 in fall 2004 in New York City. During the same period Rush Limbaugh broke records.

Lets face it folks if you run a political media network, liberal or conservative, and you can't get an audience to tune in during presidential election season, then just hang it up.

Monday, February 07, 2005

Adopt a Sniper

Evidentally the College Republicans at Marquette University are under fire for publicly supporting the Adopt a Sniper program. Says the Director of University Communication at Marquette:
Marquette University strongly supports and honors the men and women of our Armed Forces and has sponsored many activities to support our troops.
Now Adopt-a-Sniper is a program that purchases range finders, body armor, load bearing equipment, weapons components, and personal items for members of the US military in Iraq and Afghanistan. This is fundamentally what "supporting the troops" is all about, giving them both moral and logistical support. But someone might find that offensive so we have to shut it down.

How they hell do you get to say "we support our troops" after something like that? No sir you do not. You give them lipservice while men and women better than yourself fight and die in far off lands to defend this country. They give you their blood and tears and you give them nothing but words of sympathy and you mandate that others do likewise.

Now why did they shut down the CR fundraiser? Because some people were getting upset. Wouldn't it be nice for universities to get up off their collective asses and give college conservatives the same protections from Tyranny of the Majority that they would demand for, say, anti-war demonstrators?

Man I must be reading too much Kim du Toit because this is just giving me serious RCOB moment.

Benjamin Disraeli

Novelist, pundit, Prime Minister of England, Founder of Modern Conservatism, and Messianic Jew. Kim du Toit is pointing out this David Galertner article from the Weekly Standard.

A Reply from Screwtape

Dawn Eden illustrates the folly of the Church of Satan with a quote from C.S. Lewis.

I really really enjoyed the Screwtape letters. It's not just because Lewis is such a great author, but because it cleverly illustrates the concept of spiritual warfare in something approaching a modern context. I can't tell you how many times I've thought of the Law of Oscillation or "middle age makes for great campaigning weather."

The M1 Carbine

I ordered one at my gun shop on Friday. It should be in this weekend. Then it's a spray down with brake cleaner to get off the packing grease, some oil, and off to range!

Before the superbowl my brother and I were watching a show on CMT (Country Music Television). Not my usual channel but sometimes they do have something good on, like westerns. In this case it was a show on rumors floating around the country music industry for years. VH1 has aired similar stuff. The one that got my goat was "John Denver was actually an Army sniper with over 10 confirmed kills." This was of course false. The funny part was that people claimed he named his rifle "Sunshine." So "Sunshine on my shoulder makes me happy" takes a whole new meaning.

Because of this, my M1 will probably be named Sunshine. Unless it misbehaves a lot at which point it won't "make me happy". It's just too good a joke to pass up.

UPDATE: A picture of the M1 carbine is here. A little history on it is here.

Music by Request

Joan over at Seven Inches of Sense asked me to blog about my music tastes. "It'll be fun if your into music." Truth be told I'm not actually into music that much, but I'll fill it out anyway.

Random 10 Albums Semi-Sorta Randomly pulled from my collection:
Beethoven for Dummies
The Blues Brother's Movie Soundtrack
Conspiracy No 5 - Third Day
Chuck Berry's Greatest Hits - Chuck Berry (duh)
Speechless - Steven Curtis Chapman
Tidal - Fiona Apple
An Evening Wasted with Tom Lehrer by Tom Lehrer (double duh)
Listen Closely - Small Town Poets
Big Bad Voodoo Daddy - Big Bad Voodoo Daddy (triple duh)
Guitar Slinger - the Brian Setzer Orchestra

What is the total amount of music files on your computer?
I don't currently have much. Maybe a few files, probably less than 10. I listen to a lot of christian music and the thought of pirating it doesn't appeal to me. It's like stealing a Bible. Plus my good computer speakers died of old age and I haven't replaced them. My other computer speakers are small and so music sounds like crap on them. I probably have about 300 megs stocked away on a backup CD somewhere though.

The last CD you bought is:
All Things New - Steven Curtis Chapman

What is the song you last listened to before this message?
The Journey from Speechless another Steven Curtis Chapman album

Five songs that you often listen to or that mean a lot to you:
Kiss Me by Sixpence None the Richer - Its funny, most Sixpence music is about being depressed and frustrated artists, but because this song is their only big hit people assume they do bubblegum pop. I'm a big Sixpence fan and have their second and third albums. I went to two of their concerts back before they hit it big. Plus back when Amybear and I were still awkwardly trying to find out if we liked each other, I had her use her mp3 finding expertise to get me this song and the single's b-side as well. So this one has personal history

Bring Me to Life by Evanescence - Yes, this is the most overplayed song of the 21st century. It doesn't stop me from liking it though. As a Christian I can look at this song spiritually as my need for the renewing power of the Holy Spirit. After all within Him I'm dead. But my enjoyment of the song isn't just theological. Before I met Amybear, I tended to withdraw emotionally and use humor to distance people. I still do that some, but with Amybear I can open up. She knows everything about me and I know everything about her. Maybe thats part of why I love her so much.

Prophet, Priest, and King by Small Town Poets - This is a great song. I linked the the lyrics for a reason since Small Town Poets is fairly unknown even for a Christian band. Its a song about how personal God is. You can't talk to the president or the Queen yet you can sit down with the Lord of Creation and have a chat whenever you want.

Everything I Hate also by Small Town Poets - Another great song from their debut album. This one is about struggling with sin in your life. In various times in my life I've just been stuck in a wicked cycle. Too strong to let God take charge, but too weak to break out of it yourself.

My Ding-A-Ling by Chuck Berry - This is another one Amybear found for me. Its kind of naughty but I just makes me laugh. To think, this was horribly risque when it was originally recorded. Now it would probably be used as a kids song.

Who are you gonna pass this stick to?
No one. I refuse to pass on chain letters as a matter of principle. Hopefully the mounting bad karma won't cause me irreparable physical injury. However if you think this sort of thing is neat and want to do it voluntarily with no pressure from me, drop me a line and I'll add a link here.

A Small Victory is posting her response to these requests.

Sunday, February 06, 2005


Well the Eagles lost. They made a pretty good fight of it, but they were outplayed. The defense wasn't capable of keeping up with the Pats on the run. McNabb and the offense was too slow in the last quarter and made too many turnovers. But it took them 3 or 4 years to win the NFC, so in another 3 years the Eagles are a shoo-in right? ;)

I ended up watching the Superbowl with my family (brother, mom, dad) at my parent's place. My church, being in the Philly metro area, gave up and had a superbowl party in the fellowship hall. Except they weren't going to watch the half-time show or the commercials. I would have gladly given up halftime given the overall quality of previous shows, but commercials? Not for the Superbowl I won't. Plus I would have had to bring my own snackage. Not if I go to Mom's I don't.

Half time was actually pretty good. Even though George Harrison is/was my favorite Beatle, I'm still a bit of a McCartney fan. The show was simple but satisfying unlike the Spectacular! Spectacular! half-times of yester-year which where full of sound and light and crappy talentless popstars. Looks its Aerosmith (yay!) and N'sync (boo!) and Britney Spears (pray for wardrobe malfunction!)... One of these things is not like the others...

Luckily no breasts were popping out this year either. While the initial sight might be nice, the debacle following it was insane. I'd rather not see Sir Paul's shriveled chest anyway. Talk about English Leather...

Saturday, February 05, 2005

Non-Smoking Cities

Orin Kerr at the Volokh Conspiracy is reporting that the New York City night life is flourishing under the smoking ban. I wish Delaware was having the same results.

I'm not complaining too loudly because frankly I don't smoke and don't really enjoy reaking of cigarettes after a night on the town. On the other hand at least one pool hall I know of was killed by the smoking ban. Yes it was kind of a smokey and nasty club, but frankly thats what a pool hall is supposed to be like.


I've been cleaning a lot today. Instapundit has a post up on the magic eraser. Amybear loves it too. One of his readers also suggests tilex soap scum remover. I have horrible problems with soap scum in my tub. It has something to do with the position of the soap dish I guess. I must say that Tilex really seems to be doing the trick. Plus it's safe for fiberglass which is important because the cleanser I used at my last apartment wasn't particularly.

Friday, February 04, 2005

Pop Quiz

My friend Patrick sent me two online tests. They seems to go over well here so... One is for your political persuasion. I'm a Religious Republican, what a shock! The other is testing your level of evilness. I'm a little twisted. Again, no surprise.

Get Fuzzy

It is perhaps my favorite syndicatd comic strip right now. Today's is classic. Both Rob and Bucky the Katt are speakers of truth about Volvos and D&D.

UPDATE: Darby Conley is on a roll...

Go Iraqis!

The story is here and down the page here:
Citizens of Al Mudhiryiah (a small town in the "death triangle") were subjected to an attack by several militants today who were trying to punish the residents of this small town for voting in the election last Sunday.

The citizens responded and managed to stop the attack, kill 5 of the attackers, wounded 8 and burned their cars. 3 citizens were injured during the fire exchange. The Shiekh of the tribe to whom the 3 wounded citizens belong demanded more efforts from the government to stop who he described as "Salafis".
I predict you will see more of this. In the end it is when the people of Iraq have had enough and fight back that the "insurgency" will die down. You can't kill this sort of thing centrally.

Now if only the folks in the inner cities would realize that this might be a good way to deal with their crime problems.

(Via: Instapundit)

How Did You Get so Smart?

Michael Dean is typing about smarts. Oh and he's talking about me. Mostly about this post and the comments in this one. My ears and gmail inbox were burning.
I consider Jeff to be a incredibly intelligent person, one who almost makes me feel inferior.
Heh. When I do my site redesign (and it is coming because Harbor is getting tired), I'm going to have to save a prominent place for that quote. Honestly I think part of the reason Michael may feel inferior is because I'm so damn intellectually pompous and he's pretty darn humble. Frankly, as the length of this article shows, I just like hearing myself talk or type sometimes. It's probably some residual teachers-pet-ness from the old days.

Frankly, I may test better than him, but that's nothing special. I have said this before and I will say it again, standardized testing measures how well you do on standardized tests. I think it is a necessary evil to gather statistical metrics on student performance, but I do not think it is a general measure of intelligence. My GRE scores were better than any grad student my advisor had ever seen, but I almost failed out in my first semester because I got a D+ in Linear Algebra.

Amybear typically doesn't do so well on testing because she gets nervous and hates math. One of my great failings in our relationship is that I intellectually underestimated her early on. She has more tact and a higher emotional awareness than me, but I always assumed I was the thinker. You know what they say about ass-u-me-ing. Long story short, she took a class that involved Feminist Theory and she realized she disliked a lot of the big feminist's ideology. I basically agreed with her on every point and thought that it took a lot of smarts to see what she did. I realized that we just thought differently. Amybear's intuition and subjective reasoning is much better than mine. But that doesn't show on standardized tests which are usually objective not subjective. I had to apologize profusely for that one. Since I brought it up I better apologize again, sorry dear. I love you.
Interestingly enough, one of those reasons is that they both have excellent verbal skills, have an incredible vocabulary, and both write extremely well.
I don't think I write extremely well. I may write extremely well for an engineer, but that's something else. I do have decent vocabulary, but I have found myself mixing words up and using screwy spelling a lot since I started blogging. You may notice an individual post changing slightly over time as I realize that some of my language is needlessly circuitous and streamline things. Hmm like perhaps that last sentence.

But let me get to the real meat of things:
In one of my Mensa books, it stated that in a study of Mensa members 80% attributed their intelligence to their parents reading to them as children. I've posted this here before, but I still find it fascinating. I know that my mother read to me a lot as a child and instilled the love of reading in me. I'm curious how Jeff feels about that statement.
My parents did read to me as children. Actually as soon as I was capable, they made me read to them. I hated it. A lot. In the end though I really learned to love reading, I loved it so much I have probably destroyed my eyesight by reading in poor light. I also grew up watching semi-education shows on airplanes, cars, and technology. To this day I really don't watch sports much. But "Go Eagles!" anyway.

I think one of the great predictors of intelligence is parental involvement. But I'm not a childhood development guru, that's Amybear's job. Maybe she'll weigh in here. Still, I've heard that from a lot of friends who are teachers. Children are always learning at home and school and having the parents involved in that process is really important. It gives the kids more positive reinforcement for the at-school learning. It also may give almost 50% more learning hours in a day. That is a big number.

I don't know where that weighs in with genetics though on the grand scheme of intelligence indicators. It may be trumped my heredity. Like I said, I'm no child development guru. I'm an engineer and operations research systems analyst who likes to talk out his ass.