Thursday, March 31, 2005

Project Minuteman

I'm seeing a lot of different headlines relating to this. No surprise about which headlines are with which paper.
Volunteers to patrol border - Associated Press

A Dangerous Line in the Sand - LA Times

Immigration Opponents to Patrol US Border - Washington Post

Citizens Take Border Patrol in Own Hands - FOX News
I like the fact that Fox chose to call them "citizens", but they seem to be echoing the Presidents "vigilante" tone.

Congrats Michael

Michael Dean has been inducted into the Long Flowing Hair Club for Scientists (LFHCfS). He used a limbo picture from Izzy's wedding. I would like to note he puts Dr Harald Hammarstrom, who is directly beneath him, to shame. Dr. Hammarstrom's hair may be long, but it looks filthing and is not flowing.

It is one scientific club I doubt I will ever join. I did grow my hair out a bit. Here is the result. Yeah, I opted to keep my hair shorter and easier to clean.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Johnny Cochran Dead at 67

Johnny Cochran died yesterday of a brain tumor. He was 67. LaShawn Barber has links.


Instapundit is razorblogging. He likes electrics. Me, not so much.

I started out using cheap disposables and then moved to a Remington electric. Ehhh. The shave wasn't any better. My dad had a Norelco he never used. Then I switched to the Gilette Mach 3. Good stuff. It shaves close and really follows the contours of my face well. I may pick up a power M3 and see if it's any different.

I also have a goatee, so that cuts down on the shaving but adds an additional trimming element to my morning routine about once a week. So instead of a sink full of little razor detritus I get a sink full of big hair. I use a Wahl beard trimmer for this and it works well. I had a roommate that trimmed with scissors. Not for me.

The most recent shaving discussion I have heard is down or up. Specifically do you shave down your neck or up it? Shaving up doesn't irritate my neck as much, but it also leaves me with a poor stubbly shave. So I suck it up and shave down or up then down which seems to work better than either alone.

Operation Bootheel

This article in the El Paso Times is basically about the Army "transformation" process. Anti-mortar work is what starts the story off, but it gets interesting talking about the Stryker Brigades:
One of those newly formed units is the 4th Squadron, 14th Cavalry Regiment, 172nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, stationed in Fort Wainwright, Alaska. Part of the squadron participated in "Operation Bootheel" recently, which paired them with U.S. Border Patrol agents in southwest and south-central New Mexico. The brigade was converted from an infantry unit.

The assignment allowed the unit to practice reconnaissance, which is its primary mission. Its 40-plus vehicles were equipped with "Long Range Advanced Scout Surveillance Systems" that allow observations day or night and during bad weather. The system has a range of more than two miles, which puts the soldiers out of the range of direct fire weapons and sensor systems.

With only 21 days of formal training, the unit arrived in the high desert of New Mexico for a 60-day mission coordinated by Joint Task Force North. When the mission ended earlier this month, the unit had assisted in nearly 2,500 undocumented immigrant apprehensions and the seizure of more than 6,000 pounds of marijuana.
First, is this was a violation of the Posse Comitatus Act? According to the US Coast Guard:
Posse Comitatus clarifications emphasize supportive and technical assistance (e.g., use of facilities, vessels, aircraft, intelligence, tech aid, surveillance, etc.) while generally prohibiting direct participation of DoD personnel in law enforcement (e.g., search, seizure, and arrests).
Meaning that as long as the Strykers were just looking while the Border Patrol picked the people up, there is nothing wrong with this.

Now the President has been taking it on the chin lately about weak borders. The budget hasn't increased funding for the Border Patrol as much as people would like. That and W is awfully friendly with Vincente Fox. The narrative from both sides of the aisle is that that Bush is doing little to nothing to stop border problems. Up to this point there really hasn't been anything to challenge it either.

Meanwhile, Bush has been discretely deploying Army units to strengthen the border on training missions. So these units, who are training for border security in Iraq and Afghanistan, are starting off getting experience in the same thing here closer to home. That seems like great way to do it to me.

If you want to be a critic, you could say that this is a token instance. I don't know if that is true or not, but it certainly could be. There may be people rotating through this job on a regular basis. The only place Operation Bootheel has been reported is in one paper in Texas. But it is El Paso, one of the major border crossing points, so perhaps they are just more interested in the topic of border security than elsewhere. In any case the story could use more attention and eyeballs.

Of course all this relates back to the Minuteman Project which is kicking off in Arizona. It's a slow news cycle, so the actions of the Minuteman Project are a big deal even though private security firms have been monitoring the border for years in the exact same way. Only this time many of the local landowners who have been paying for additional security will probably be taking part in the Minuteman Project directly.


It is having real trouble this morning. Don't know how much I will be able to post.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Ailing Grandparents

Two people on the blogroll have grandparents with health problems. Mao Bi's grandmother had a stroke about a week ago. She posted an update this morning.

Joan's grandfather is having reoccurring problems with a heart condition. Joan is taking care of things, from driving her grandmother to visiting hours to providing emotional support. It is taking its toll.

I'm sure both of them could use a little prayer and any support you can give, especially emotional and spiritual support.


Yes this is another Terri Schiavo post. She hasn't received any meaningful food or liquids in 11 days. This perplexed me because I had always heard the "without water you will die" number set around four days. So are people sneaking her water or is she receiving liquids with her morphine?

Yes this is a very morbid topic given current events. But it turns out that dehydration is heavily dependent on environmental conditions. It can kill in hours with heat, humidity, and intense physical activity. In very comfortable surroundings, people can last as long has Terri has. However Terri is currently in the "a week or more" section of the cycle so she probably won't last much longer.

Oh and one thing that came up a lot researching this intellectual itch, lots of hospices use starvation/dehydration as a "humane" way for terminally ill patients to die. They prescribe morphine. The hunger pains last about a day (and the morphine dulls them) and then your body adjusts and they stop. If you've fasted for more than a day you have probably experienced this. I did a 48 hour fast a while back and sure enough, once you miss a few meals it gets easier. In some cases the dehydration can actually help the patient feel better because it alleviates congestion.

Play Time

Geek with a .45 is back from vacation. He has this to say about playing with his kids:
Yes, we {gasp!} play with our kids. At the McDonald's tubelands, we kick off our shoes, and chase them around the tubes, fully invested in the notion that actively playing with our kids is a good thing, and the misguided hope that we can wear them out before we drop. (Hasn't happened yet, but we keep hoping)

We didn't really think anything of this, until one of the employees remarked that we where the only parents he'd ever seen do that.

Good grief.

Kids don't know what undignified behavior is, but adults do. The thing is, being an adult doesn't mean that we must comport ourselves thus and such a way, it means we've got the prerogative to toss the hat of dignified behavior aside, and publicly act like damned fools for the amusement of our little ones, whose gratitude is without limit.

It's such a small price to pay for smiles and giggles as big as the sun. It's shame so many parents forget this.
Amen. I'm pretty sure Amy and I will be doing the same when we have kids.

Fiona Apple

I like her music a lot. I listen to a lot of pop. When I say pop I mean the good stuff. The stuff people will still be listening to in thirty years. Not Britney Spheres. I like a good three or four piece band. Simple. Elegant. I like the variety that can occur in a pop album compared to some other genres. You can see country, rock, r&b, and other stuff all on the pop charts. It is a melting pot and I like that.

It is nice to hear a "pop" musician with her level of creativity. Her first album had these great keyboard arrangements that were original, amazing, and complimented her voice perfectly. It was a sort of vibrant melancholy that really struck me. It was also really nice to hear something that wasn't guitar pop or diva pop. It still is. I bought a Vanessa Carlton album a while back because it was piano pop, but it was just a weak imitation in comparison.

Unfortunately her music hasn't been "pop" enough which is why her third album has sat on a shelf at Sony for 2 years. It has recently been leaked to the internet via peer-to-peer. A song list is here. This website has all eleven tracks in CD quality audio.

Now normally I don't pirate music. It is generally stealing. But I can't buy this album from anyone. And if anything, this P2P activity is actually raising the net worth of Sony's rights. I just wish I could pay Fiona Apple money for it. If the dumbass execs at Sony ever release it, I'll happily pick a copy up.

Monday, March 28, 2005

Social Security

Left2Right is, well, a bastion of liberalism. Most of their posts are practically worthless. Often little more than thickwitted knee-jerk liberalism cloaked as open-mindedness or moderation. However this one on social security is not. I'm not entirely sure I agree with it, but the post itself is excellent and many of the comments are more than the usual class-warfare claptrap as well. Go, read, get smarter.

Which Incredibles Character are You?

I'm Violet for some reason. Michelle Malkin is Edna, which is much cooler dahling.

Blogosphere Engagement

By the way FrankJ and SarahK over at IMAO are getting married. Congrats!

Their engagement story is great. Very cute and romantic. But Amy and I both prefer our ring.


I saw Penny Arcade's link to this Mediawise public service announcement. Now I'm not sure how long that link will last, so the page basically shows a shot from Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas next to a kid talking about all the horrible things he has done in video games.

Now I have mixed feelings about this.

On the one hand, young kids should not play GTA and similar games. They are not only violent, they glorify the criminal lifestyle as a way for people to get ahead. I remember going to local pizzeria last year on a school inservice day. One of the workers kids, a boy who might have been in junior high, was playing GTA3. Someone had sat him down with a PS2 and TV as a babysitter. Now GTA3 is a great game, but he was way too young for it. It is definitely not something that little kids should be allowed to play and especially not without parental supervision. Now once you get to the teenage years, maybe you can work something out...

On the other hand, the stuff the kid in the PSA is talking about does not happen in GTA. There is no having sex with multiple women. There are no cops wearing body armor. They get all the details wrong. I've played GTA a lot, the game itself is fun and immersive as long as it is just a game. And I know that most gamers have played these games and are only going to see these untruths in the PSA. They'll use it as an excuse to ignore the whole thing. Believe me, there is enough bad stuff in GTA that they don't need to lie about it.

The devil is also in the details.

Shite-Kicking Boots

Manolo for the Men has an article on shoes men should have. Last on the list is "shit kicking boots."

I own a pair of boots for just this purpose. They are Bates enforcers. They are warm and comfy and clunky. They have the side zippers so I can get them on and off easily without tracking in mud/snow/whatever all over the house. They're great.

Someone is suggesting that these are shit-kicking boots. No. That is all kinds of wrong. Those are fashion statements. You do not ever have anything white on shit-kicking boots. And those curly bits and gingerbread? Great ways to hold in dirty and nastiness. No those are not boots you would ever intentionally get dirty.

If my enforcers ever wear out, I'll probably replace them with these. Sturdy and shiny.

UMC and Baptists

John at Locusts and Honey is noting that United Methodist Church and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America are entering into "interim eucharist sharing." This may be a percursor to full communion between the denominations. Says John:
Thanks, but no thanks. The UMC should be allying with more theologically sound denominations such as the Southern Baptists and joining the National Association of Evangelicals. The fact that the ECLA is 'in communion' with the anti-Semitic PCUSA says all that you need to know about this proposal.
The UMC has always seemed like a weird denomination to me. The church in the town I grew up in was very good and it showed in the people who went there. The church in the town I went to college in was very poor and a major bastion of theological liberalism. Wherever I go, Methodism seems to follow this spotty pattern. Some churches are great, others are horrible, but they are all Methodists despite the fact that I can't find anything to link the two groups together other than a name. This dichotomy perplexes me sometimes. Perhaps it is a result of the United Brethren and the Methodists getting together to create the UMC?

Unfortunately, the liberals seem to be in charge at the denomination level, so I don't expect any official communion with Baptists anytime soon. Instead I think you will see the UMC continuing to drift left as it has in the past. [UPDATE: In the comments people who are, you know, actual Methodists say I'm wrong. Conservative Methodists are actually gaining influence and it may split the "united" Methodist church in a decade or so. I'll accept your greater understanding of the UMC, I am Jeff the Baptist after all.]

Fortunately there are some Methodists who unofficially commune with Baptists like me. A Methodist from a conservative church moves into a town with a liberal Methodist church. They usually leave the liberal church soon after and often end up attending the Baptist church down the road instead. I know their hearts are still Methodist, but their butts belong to Baptist pews for the moment. ;)

Bobbies Save Parliament from Prop

Evidently the armed Bobbies guarding Parliament has a bit of a scare recently when a remote controlled DALEK trundled up to the building. Gizmodo is linking to the story at the Sunday Mail. The remote controlled robot (which even has its own voice box full of samples Dalek phrases) was owned an operated by Ken Meikle, a 46 year old Whovian. Meikle built the robot to raise money for his brother who has Down Syndrome.

Meikle had been driving the Dalek around London to promote a Dr Who stage production. The police were not amused, but Ken was, "It's not the first time a Dalek has been foiled by the occupants of a London police box... and I suspect it won't be the last."

The Daleks are scheduled to make an appearance in Episode 6 of the new Dr Who series. I watched the first episode about a week ago. It was ok. Not great, but ok. Rose, the new companion, is pretty easy on the eyes. I'm not really fond of the new Doctor. He's not eccentric enough. I don't mind the Northern accent, but in the first episode he dresses like someone out of J Crew. That and the production quality seemed to vary. Parts just looked cheap to me, like the TARDIS set.

Friday, March 25, 2005

That Other Religious Holiday

Because the Jewish calendar is lunar and the Christian roman calendar isn't, Easter and Passover are out of sync this year. Instead it's Purim time for the Kosher set.

Purim is the celebration of the biblical book of Esther. Mordecai and the beautiful queen Esther (yeah!) overcome the evil Haman (Boo! *rattle* *rattle*) and he gets hoisted on his own gallows. The season is usually celebrated with a bit of costume play, girls dress as Esther, boys dress as Mordecai or the King. It is also celebrated with hamentoshen, triangularly-shaped cookies with fruit filling. They're yummy but typically supermarket hamentoshen are very dry and not as yummy as they should be.

David Bernstein has more about his synagogue's celebration. Here is a choice bit:
I managed to inject some levity, at least for my wife and me, by vigorously spinning my grogger (noisemaker) at the mention of Hillary Clinton, an "honor" usually reserved for the evil Haman.
Good for him.

Secondhand Lions

This movie wasn't publicised very much, but it is truly excellent. Amybear made me watch it and while she has picked some truly awful movies, this one was wonderful. I need to buy it one of these days. Kim du Toit has a list with this and some other goodies on it.

Needs More Cowboy...

Kim du Toit mentioned yesterday that he really wants an Uberti Remington 1890 Police revolver. I second that. It's very pretty.

The 1875/90 Remingtons are a bit heavy for single actions but they don't have the dangling pinky problems that the small grips the Peacemakers do. And the Smith and Wesson Schofield, while a cool bit of tech, is balanced like a club. I'd really like to get a remington in .357 or perhaps .45 with an ACP conversion cylinder. But at the moment I have better things to spend my money on, so this can wait. For a little while at least.

Hummer Accidents

Instapundit is reporting that the new uparmored Hummers are having rollover problems in Iraq. At times the drivers will survive the ambush only to flip on the high-speed getaway.

Now this will come as no surprise to offroaders who don't particularly like the Humvee. Long story short, the hummer has a fully independent suspension on it instead of more traditional solid axles. This suspension is notorious for having rollover problems, because the wheels can tuck in under the car if they get off the ground. The hummers saving grace was its large size and low center of gravity that made rolling unlikely. Unfortunately uparmoring has significantly raised the CoG and now this is no longer true.

I would just like take the opportunity to point out that we have a ton of M113 Gavins in Kuwait. Perhaps instead of trying to turn hummers into the Armored Personnel Carriers that they aren't, we could just use honest-to-God APCs in the first place.


From Gizmodo, it is the PEZ MP3 player project. What a cool idea.

On the not so cool front, the revolver hair dryer. Yes by all means point something that looks like a gun at your head.

Income Taxes

I started thinking about them right before bedtime and now I can't get to sleep. I'm not looking forward to them this year. Last year I itemized for the first time and I screwed it up. So I had to file an 11th hour amended return. Things worked out ok, but I am not looking forward to them this year. Not at all.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Good Stuff Elsewhere

Jollyblogger has a really good set of posts up. I suggest you read Sex on Campus, his Schiavo post, and this one on the Purpose Driven Life. Good stuff.

Wedding Ideas

Amybear has a sizeable post up at our wedding blog.

Truth Shall Not Return Void

That was a statement regarding the social conservatives stand on the Terri Schiavo matter in the comments yesterday.

I won't quibble with the concept, because I think it is a valid one. I think this mess has far surpassed diminishing returns, but that doesn't mean some benefits won't be reaped. It just means we probably could have done better spending the effort elsewhere.

My quibble is with the use of "truth" regarding the presentation of this case in the conservative, especially the socially conservative, blogosphere. I've read about this case on any number of blogs, but it wasn't until I transitioned away from the socially conservative pro-life sites that I heard facts instead of rhetoric and ideology.

It pisses me off! Truth seems to be lacking here. Instead I get innuendo and a lot of hypocrisy. People decrying that the medical experts need to spend 20 to 40 hours to properly judge her state are bringing forward video and audio from the Schindlers that last minutes and say it is conclusive proof. People committed to "limited government" are making vast expansions in power. People committed to the Bible and the Gospel are bearing false witness and lying by omission like nobody's business. I'm sick of people saying she isn't a vegetable when all the areas of her brain required for high function have dissolved.

I'm not saying the pro-lifers don't have a point. Life is worth defending, even Terri's life. The death she is facing is not a pleasant one. I will make no bones about either of those. But I'm saying that their righteous anger is, well, not quite so righteous as it appears. They have fought this down and dirty and I respect them less for it.

If you want to see it done right, then perhaps Donald Sensing, a methodist minister, is a good choice.

UPDATE: Here is thought. I suggest that Terri Shiavo's final days be rigorously and objectively documented in all their horrific glory for all posterity. Let people read how she died in explicit detail. If that doesn't change people's opinions about this sort of thing, nothing will. If she is going to die, let it be as a martyr.

Conservatives Near Fracture?

Glenn Reynolds is addressing this issue.

There is a lot of tension between the two wings of the Republican party. The social conservatives are in power right now and the fiscal conservatives are not liking it one bit. And they have reasons which are both good and obvious.

But will this result in the immanent fracture of the party? It could but I doubt it. The reason I doubt it is that the party isn't going to fracture until one of the wings realizes that it isn't getting anything out of the coalition. And both wings realize that if the coalition fractures, Democrats will be running things. And the Democrats are the enemy to both wings. Which means that even if one wing is really unhappy, it will still grouse and complain and whine, but in the end the enemy of my enemy will still be my friend.

Which brings me to my thesis. The fracture isn't going to happen until one of two things happens:
  1. One wing thinks it can come out ahead in a three way race.
  2. The Democrats are capable of running a real candidate that can strip off the voters from one wing of Republican party.
The first is not going to happen. We have a two party system and the third party gets killed at the polls. Plus they would still have to form a coalition with someone to actually govern, because neither wing will get 51% of a vote.

The second is more likely but still not looking promising from a practical standpoint. Lets face it, John Kerry was a joke. He is a New England liberal. I'm not really happy with George Bush. He spends too much and seems to like growing government beyond reasonable bounds. And I'm a social conservative. But John Kerry was worse in every respect. I'm not going to vote for Satan just because I disagree with the Pope.

If the Democrats were wise, they would be stripping the fiscal conservative wing off the party right now. But they can't because that would mean committing to a small government they don't really want. Being out of power is really teaching them the merits of limited government though, so perhaps they will come around eventually. But honestly, it is probably going to require completing the mid-nineties generational change to do it. We got rid of the old guard southern Democrats. Now we need to get rid of the old guard Northern Democrats. I think we'll be waiting a while.

UPDATE: Hello Instalanchers. If you want some highlights, here is a post that contains some.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Not a Good Day

It is miserable in Maryland and evidently up and down the eastern seaboard. And I didn't get enough sleep last night.

Amybear has a request and I thought everybody out there in computer land might be able to help. She is looking for happy thoughts that will keep her motivated after her recent disappointments. If you have one let her know in the comments.

Q and O

They're having a good day over there. I agree with almost everything Dale Franks is saying about the Schiavo case below the comments. Persistant legislative state indeed. In the end I think this was a major mistake by the pro-life groups. Yes it is a woman's life, but they have badly overplayed their hands and will face negative reprecussions for so obviously making congress dance to their tune.

And for what? Nothing. Terry Schiavo's feeding tube isn't being put back in. There are others more deserving of attention who aren't getting it. All because of an obsession over this one case that had already been literally litigated to death.

On a technology note, McQ has a story about a 400 foot long WWII-era Japanese submarine which has been found off Hawaii. Why is this cool? Because the thing is so large it has a hanger with three short range bombers (and enough parts to build a fourth).

Sly Cooper

Remind me not to stay up until midnight playing videogames when I have to work the next morning. Izzy noticed I look tired today.

I'm about a third of the way through this one and it is really fun. It's a 3D platformer about a thief stealing his family heritage back from other theives and malcontents. Sly is a raccoon and, well, I like raccoons. It comes from having a big stuffed one as a kid.

While similar to the Spyro games, I like Sly better. As you progress through Sly, you pick up new special abilities like a diving attack, a roll move, some new leaps, and "the exploding hat trick". Compare this to Spyro where you basically have the same options through the whole game - charge, fire, jump, glide. Sly also lets you use your hideout to go back to previous levels easily once you have beaten them. So if you missed a clue and didn't get a level's power up, you can go directly there any time you want.

Like the latter Spyro games, there are mini-games which are ok. Some are fun, some not so fun, but you have to beat them all to advance which kind of stinks. Even from the beginning, Sly takes a bit of skill and timing to play well. I kind of like this but Amy thought it was too hard. It gets a lot easier once the timing clicks I assure you.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

All I Want Is Sharks...

Courtesy of Gizmodo, its the Giant Lens Death Ray. Melt pennies for pennies! Ok melt pennies for about a hundred bucks from

Honestly though, that doesn't hold a candle to the Solar Death Ray. While the fresnel lense is probably cooler technology, the Solar Death Ray has a much more impressive before and after gallery of targets.

You Never Forget Your First Time

Joan at Seven Inches of Sense is reminiscing about first apartments.

My first apartment was in grad school. Previous to that I'd lived off my parents' dime in the dorms. This place was on my dime and overall it was a nice place. 2 good sized bedrooms, 2 full baths, and a fireplace. It was on the first floor with two doors to the outside word that were ours and ours alone. I lived with Kristen, a friend from college. She was seeing someone, I was seeing someone, nothing happened. But being coed apartment-mates was interesting nonetheless.

We had the too long hike to the trash can, but the trash was next to the mailboxes. So it worked out. We had the thin walls that let us hear the bed squeaks of the apartment above us. We had the golden kitchen appliances. We had a couple of them catch on fire at various times.

We also had bugs. Crickets. Lots of them. We complained, the complex sprayed, they were back shortly. I sprayed, they were back shortly. The only cure was cold weather. Finally I got sick of it and caulked all the cracks in the foundation I could find. That pretty much killed our bug problem.

There is also something no-one over there had mentioned. Kids. My complex was a "family friendly" complex. Except that it was built in the turn of the 90s and they had packed as many apartments on the land as they could. So there was no room for said children to actually play. Just the playground, which was not even large enough for a game of touch football.

So we had a lot of teens and tweens and tots hanging around, sometimes late at night, looking for trouble to get into. We referred to them as ghetto children. I was never so scared as going home to my apartment late at night after a party or working in the lab. Not because I feared for my safety, but because I knew there would be some dumbass group of kids walking down the only driveway into the complex, dressed all in black, waiting for my nice white car to hit them before I realized they were there. Or even better jumping their skateboard on the speedbump outside my apartment at 1am.

Incredible Evening

Instapundit watched the Incredibles with his daughter and liked it.

I ended up buying a widescreen copy at BJs for $15 to go with my fullscreen that the Disney Store foisted upon me. The single men's small groups at church had a dinner and a movie night for the women. We showed my widescreen copy. It went over well and now both my copies are loaned out to people that want to watch the movie again. I may make the fullscreen copy my loaner.

A friend told me that the Disney Store is no longer actually owned by Disney. It was sold to some children's store chain. That explains a lot, but if I were the Disney Corp I would not like them dragging my brand name through the mud like this.

UPDATE:Evidently, some stores, like Saturday Matinee, are deliberately advertising that the Widescreen version of the Incredibles is available in their store. Most places seem to have both, Disney seems to be the only real mono-format store.

Amy's Defense

Some people may be wondering how it went. Ummm not so well. Her yahoo horoscope was appropriate:
Just when you thought it was safe to come out, and were getting ready to do just that...well, don't. Not yet and especially if you don't have to. Today's astrological buffet is chock full of frustrations ... Should you give up? Absolutely not. Why would you, of all signs, even ask?
I'm not a big fan of horoscopes, but this one fit. Long story short, she's not done with the thesis yet and could really really use prayer right now. I'll let her say more if she wants to.

Amy and I had a little convo about horoscopes last night. I wonder what people think of them. Biblically, astrology led the Magi to the Christ child so I can't call it complete bunk. I can be skeptical though, especially with self-fulfilling prophecies. What do you guys think? My pastor recommends reading a chapter of Proverbs instead of the morning horoscope.

The Young Church?

Evangelical Outpost is linking to Jollyblogger.
Yet, we've got everything backward. The biblical pattern is that youth are to adapt to the wisdom of the aged, but in the church today the aged are told they need to adapt to the whims of the youth.

Hmm, is this why the church keeps chasing it's tail? We'll try anything and everything to be relevant to young people, the old honor the young, whereas biblically the young are to honor the old.
My response to this is 1 Corinthians 9:
Though I am free and belong to no man, I make myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God's law but am under Christ's law), so as to win those not having the law. To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.
To the youth I become like the youth. The biblical pattern is that the saved must adapt to the lost in order to share the Gospel with them. There are vast numbers of young people born to parents that have forsaken the Gospel in the social/sexual revolution of their own youth. A generation may be lost if we do not act.

Now we must not forsake the wisdom of our parents and elders, that is where this whole mess started in the 1960s. But why must we tie the Gospel to mere cultural concerns like styles of worship? Or styles of dress? Or smoking or drinking wine with dinner or card playing? To do so is foolhardy. Stick to the basics: Christ is risen and through him we are saved. Everything else is negotiable.

UPDATE: To answer David's question in the comments about how we disciple the young to respect the old, I have a simple answer. Get the older people involved in discipleship. The bible doesn't just honor the aged for their years, more importantly it honors their wisdom and experience and instruction.

Yes there will be some old curmudgeons the kids won't respect but this is mostly because the curmudgeons refuse to respect the youth. The older folks have to do unto others and treat the young like the young adults they are. It will take a certain temperament not everyone will have. There will be amazing men and women of God who have been following Him their entire lives in the congregation. Get them into positions where the youth can meet them and learn from them. The youth will see that and if you are teaching them to respect God and wisdom, the light of God will attract them to the older folks like a moth to a flame.

I remember a man at my church named George Yost. I was in high school and he was at least 80 and in declining health. He was also a WWII hero (hence the limp), an ex-engineer, and the greatest man of prayer I have ever met. Yes, he was old and a little kooky, but he could pray God down from the heavens. Retired, he prayed "professionally" for people, especially missionaries, worldwide. He spent hours a day doing that. And he had stories of answered prayer that were incredible, I wish I had paid more attention.

He died several years ago now and I truly miss walking into church, hearing him say "Hey buddy!", and then shaking his hand. He was always there and always friendly and damn I miss him. Thank God I'll get to see him again, only without the limp and the chronic pain. "Hey Buddy, welcome to Heaven!"

Monday, March 21, 2005

Israel and the Christian Left

David Bernstein is writing about liberal Christian denominations divesting themselves from Israeli interests. The speculation is that they are attempting to hurt Evangelicals by this.

I think it is far more likely that this is an almost completely political move by the denominations. The effort started with the PCUSA in September 2004. Since then several other denominations have joined in.

Liberal denominations are socio-political entities, much more so than conservative denominations. The conservatives really only care about abortion, sex, and education. Of those only sex and abortion are pulpit issues. Education is just the result of the movement towards home and Christian schooling apart from the public system. Liberal churches tie religion into these too, but they also inject religion directly into environmentalism, gun control, the national deficit, and many other mostly political or social issues. The left is the church of the social gospel, not the right which preaches the spiritual gospel. If you look at any major liberal movement, churches will be listed as organizers and supporters. You don't see that in conservative political movements.

So this isn't about Jesus. It's about politics. Those that say it is a a reaction against Bush and conservatives are correct. And it doesn't bother me much. Peace and prosperity is breaking out across the Middle East and they're divesting now? Heh. Way to buy high and sell low guys.

Kettle Cooking

What is with this flavoring? It's everywhere. Kettle corn, kettle-cooked chips... While they are tasty one of my coworkers mentioned that he fears for his teeth when he eats kettle chips. Since I have a bit of dental work, I share his concerns. Calling kettle-cooked chips "crisp" is a bit of an understatement. A better description might be "tempered" or "forged".

Thesis Defense

Amybear's thesis defense is today. I'm sure she would appreciate any prayers on her behalf. She's going to call me this afternoon to tell me how she did. Hopefully it'll go well, she's been working very hard on this.

Terri Schiavo

Kim du Toit echoes many of my thoughts about Terri Shiavo. A Small Victory has more. My God, I'm agreeing with athiests...

This isn't about Terri's wishes. It certainly isn't about anyone's rights. Michael Schiavo is the one with the rights here, not Terri (since Michael is her legal guardian) and certainly not the Schindlers. How many legal decisions have made that determination? A lot considering that he has won damn near every court case for 15 years. But the injuctions have kept coming.

No this is about politics and it is very dangerous. The Democrats want it so they can score points with the pro-lifers for once. The Republicans want it to flex their moral authority. But this won't just stop with one case. If the government can just waltz in and abridge Michael Schiavo's rights as guardian, it can do damn near anything it wants. Just because we don't like the guardian's decisions doesn't give us the necessary mandate required to strip a legal guardian of his rights.

There are a few things I don't agree with Kim on. For instance I do not believe that life is cheap. I am reminded of this passage from the guys at Penny Arcade:
When he told me this pregnancy thing was for real, triumphantly declaring that he "makes boys," I told him precisely what I thought - that any idiot is capable of this feat, and that - in actual point of fact - idiots engage in this kind of thing more than anyone else, which is why it can be so hard to get a decent cappuccino. I was being mean to him, it's kind of what I do, but he really was describing the most common, most ordinary event on our planet. There are two ways to interpret this.

The first way is to dismiss it, as I did initially.

The second way, the way that now seems apparent, is to recognize that the significance of an event isn't necessarily diluted by its frequency. Consider that we might live absolutely encompassed by marvels and wonders. I am suggesting that we are up to our asses in signs and portents that we are quick to omit or can't interpret.

This is not my usual state. I am making an exception.
However, even if life isn't cheap, it also isn't of infinite worth. Everyone who reads this will someday die. Life is a precious but perishable commodity. And the life of one must also be balanced against the lives of others. Like it or not, we have to spend it wisely. Is saving Terri Shiavo's life, such as it is, really worth the political tyranny it is causing? I doubt it.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Palm Sunday

That's today for about another half hour. The interesting thing about being engaged to a Jew is that Amybear asks lot of easy questions about Christianity that I should be able to answer but can't. For instance, she asked me what palm sunday was for earlier this week. I told her that it was when Jesus entered Jerusalem to a lot of fanfare right before his death. Technically correct, but I really failed to capture the immensity of the thing didn't I?

Palm Sunday isn't just the day Jesus went into Jerusalem with great acclaim. Palm Sunday is the coronation procession of the Kingdom of Heaven.
Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion!
Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem!
See, your king comes to you,
righteous and having salvation,
gentle and riding on a donkey,
on a colt, the foal of a donkey.
The rocks would have cried out for good reason on that day.

But Christ took his seat at the Kingdom, not by sitting on gilt throne and sending out conquering armies as everyone thought, but by submitting to death and dying for his brothers. What an amazing thing. What a complete fulfillment of the greatest being least. Thank you my conquering King. It is on this day that I can rejoice in having no King but Christ.

Roasting the Roast

So I stayed up tonight watching the Jeff Foxworthy Roast on Comedy Central. It was bad. How bad was it? Colin Quinn was the funniest guy there. The second funniest was some guy that was also on Tough Crowd with him. I gave up on it when the Redneck Rap band came out playing Sweet Home Alabama. Who do I bill for destroying a perfectly good hour of my life?

The walking dead at the Friar's Club wouldn't touch this thing with a ten foot pole. Thats pretty bad considering about the only thing most members of the Friar's Club are doing now is crumbling into dust.

I really really wish I had followed my first inclination and watched the first episode of the new Doctor Who a friend procured off the internet for me.

Friday, March 18, 2005

Spring Cleaning

While Amybear is slaving away on her thesis I took the time to do some spring cleaning. One thing I did was clean out my humidifier. I was like the insides were full of sand and metal flakes. Ewwww.

My humidifier is one of the boiling types, so water is fed from a big jug of water into a basin and then boiled into steam by a heating coil there. This same process is often used multiple times to create distilled water, you boil water and then condense the steam to create clean water. Contaminants and particulates are left behind after each cycle of this.

Why is this so nasty? The unit has one input, the tap water I fill the jug with. So all that nasty crap is from my tap water. Dissolved in it somewhere. Yuck. 'Scuse me while I change the filter on my Brita pitcher.

Last Day

Amybear goes home tomorrow afternoon, so today is our last full day together for a while. I blogging may be light as a result.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Campaign Finance Reform - Scam?

This is a big story and deserves more eyeballs. The New York Post is running a story about how several powerful liberal foundations turned campaign finance reform into a major campaign issue in 2000. If true, it has very scary implications.

Trek Nerds Rejoice

I just saw that Siemens is making a "home communicator" on Gizmodo. Now if I could just wear it on the back of my hand like a B5 "link" I would be happy.

I'm really starting to like Gizmodo. I used to read Slashdot a lot, but there was too much politics and not enough tech. And everyone was a whining lefty or techno-libertarian. I had similar trouble with Kuro5hin. Please stay good Gizmodo.

Top Ten with Napoleon Dynamite

Amybear showed me it yesterday. Anyone that needs a Napoleon fix should find it herein. I couldn't tell if he was wearing the moon boots or not though.

Sex Doesn't Sell

King of Fools has noticed that R-rated pictures really aren't doing that well at the box office. Currently they are 62% of the movies made, yet they only earn something like 22% of the box office gross. So maybe sex doesn't sell.

Now to be fair to the movie makers, these statistics may be a bit misleading. There are a lot of crap horror and action movies out there. If you are going to make a bad movie, you make it R because at least then you can try to have graphic violence and sex take up the slack for the horrible suckage caused by everything else. So the signal to noise ration of R may be distorting the analysis a little. PG doesn't suffer from the cheaper slasher or T&A syndrome pumped out by lower tier production houses.

But still PG has a much broader potential audience. If you make a great PG movie like the Incredibles, everyone will watch it. If you make a great R movie like, ummm.... the Passion of the Christ (sorry took me a minute to think of one), there are a lot of adults that still won't go to see it because of the violence. Plus parents will not take their kids to it.

But really I think the big problem is that Hollywood has forgotten how to tell a good simple story. Everything needs to be more more more instead of crafting a smaller, tighter tale that people can relate to (and the studios can get a better return on investment with). Which is probably why independent cinema does so well. I generally find them pretentious, but occasionally there is a Napoleon Dynamite that changes my mind.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

The Onion

My brother pointed out to me that The Onion is especially good today. He especially enjoyed the Michael Jackson story on the front page. I especially liked the St. Patrick's Day Irish History timeline.

And on a different note, I overheard this line from a co-worker at my office Saint Patty's party:
There is a whole restaurant in Switzerland that just sells different varieties pigs feet? Well that could be good, maybe it'd be like eating scrapple straight off the bone.
Cough Cough Choke

Smart Guns

A co-worker has informed me that smart guns are being talked about again in connection with the Brian Nichols case. The rhetoric goes something like this: if special interests hadn't been stalling on smart gun technology, this shooting would have never happened. The original female cop would have been beaten up, but Nichols would have never have been able to fire her gun to kill all those other folks.

It is a damn damn lie. Why? Most prominently because all the smart gun laws in the US specifically exempt cops. The police won't support the laws if they are forced to carry the guns themselves. They fear for the reduced reliability of the smart guns if they have to shoot to save their own lives. So there is no way smart gun laws would have done anything for this case, because there is no way the female officer would have been using it.

And keep in mind that police officers are often shot with their own guns. About one in six police shootings involve a cop being shot with his or her own sidearm. It is so prominent that departments often suggest that an officer carry a sidearm that can't penetrate his own vest, just in case. Now a lot of private shootings involve a person being shot with his or her own gun, but those are most often suicides or accidents and no smart gun will help them. I would like to suggest my own law, "Police officers may not carry a gun that is unavailable to the general public."

Do you know who is standing in the way of smart guns? The state of New Jersey. Why? They passed a law mandating that once a single production smart gun is on the market, all civilian firearm sales/transfers of non-smart guns will be totally prohibited after a grace period. Nobody wants to make that first smart gun and start the clock. Despite the near monopoly in New Jersey, they would face a boycott from shooter in the rest of the country that would kill them. Rohrbaugh firearms dropped plans for a smart version of their R9 for this reason.

Incredible Annoyance

So Amy and I picked up our copy of the Incredibles last night. We hit Christiana Mall, got some dinner from Saladworks in the Food Court and then headed home for some snuggling and viewing.

The annoyance? I preordered it at the Disney Store for the free lithographs, only they are only carrying the fullscreen version of the film. Best Buy and other locations have widescreen, but not Disney. And they didn't bother to tell me that was what I was buying when I preordered. It wasn't listed on any of the fliers, tickets, or advertisements. Evidently they didn't make that particular decision until halfway into the pre-order campaign.

I was not the only irate customer. And most of us were conspicuously wearing Disney merchandise. No wonder the company is losing money if this is how they treat their customers. It is a lot easier to give people what they want than it is to make them want something...

So now I either have to shell out more money for widescreen or live with it. One thing is for sure, I won't be buying from the Disney store for a while. Historically my stance on pre-orders has always been "don't". You are giving people money and getting a slip and a promise. I find that unsatisfying, especially when I can be sure to get exactly what I want with only a day or two of patience.

The DVD itself is great. On the first DVD they have a TV setup block that helps you get your contrast, brightness, and color settings right. While Amybear got a little annoyed while I adjusted settings, I thought it was a nice touch. Especially considering that my screens brightness was really out of wack. The movie itself is pretty, even if I'm missing a bunch of it with the fullscreen.

UPDATE: Michael Dean mentioned this class action lawsuit. To see if your DVDs are effected, check this list (pdf).

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Reminds Me of Ron White

Anyone out there seen the Blue Collar Comedy Tour? Some have. Anyway I really like Ron White, he's the big Texan who dresses in black and drinks scotch. On stage. One of my favorite jokes he tells goes something like this:
Now I had dinner the other day with a guy I grew up with who moved from Texas to California and became a vegetarian. About halfway through dinner at the restaurant, he started complaining about how his stomach was bothering him.

"They must have used beef broth in this vegetable soup," he said.

I looked at him and said, "Son, what kind of man are you if you can't handle broth?"

He got a little offended and went on about the effect cows have on the environment. Pollution, consumption, erosion... "What are you doing to prevent all this?" he asked.

"Well, I eat the cows."
In that vein, it's the Third Annual Eat an Animal for PETA Day. Feel free to celebrate. Amybear and I hit Outback Steakhouse yesterday, but it was after sundown and Amy is Jewish so it counts. We probably won't be gorging ourselves on more cowflesh today. Unless it's leftovers of course.

Welcome Michelle Malkin Readers

Hello folks. It's funny, but whenever I get linked to by one of the blogging bigwigs, it usually is on a light blogging day with little serious content. For instance my third post was very widely linked, but my blog itself barely existed.

If you are looking for TNIV information, my posts on the subject are here, here, and here.

Anyway a while back I put together a highlights post just in case I got some traffic coming in. Those highlights are below. The Rules of My Blog are also known, but can be summed up as politeness and common courtesy. Or else.

Are You Sick of the Homophobe Label?
Is Sodom and Gomorrah Really about Sodomy?

Government Work:
Close Enough for Government Work
Military Money

Bright College Days:
Ever Wondered Where You Tuition Money Went?
Enter the Curmudgeon

The Faith:
Christian Singleness
What Was Jesus Really Like?

Maryland Gamers

A local paper had a front page story on the HAWKS, the Harford Area Weekly Kreigspielers. These are wargamers. Combatants in what HG Wells referred to as Little Wars. More information on their society and others around the nation can be found here.

Ariel Atom

Izzy saw this yesterday. The Ariel Atom is a small road and track car built around a Honda R-type 4 cylinder. It is supercharged so you are looking at up to 300ish horsepower in a car that weighs just a smidgeon over 1000 lbs. So it's ridiculously fast.

Why do we care? Well it only costs $40,000 dollars and it will beat quarter-million dollar supercars on the track. Some people a tauting it as the car drivers answer to the superbike.

I don't think I would ever go there. I'd prefer a sports car that is at least a little more practical. Something that has doors and a windshield perhaps.

The New Doctor Who

American Nerds grew up watching Doctor Who on Saturday nights on PBS. The series has been out of production for years and years (except for the TV movie with Paul McGann), but the new version begins airing on the BBC on March 26th. The first episode has been leaked onto the internet so if you have a peer-to-peer program, it's possible that you'll be able to find it. I'd just like to hear the new theme music myself. I always liked the Dr. Who theme, it's practically perfect for a science fiction program.

Monday, March 14, 2005

Internet Quizzes

I took the Zombie Test yesterday. Jimmy sent Joan a bunch of other ones over at Seven Inches of Sense. Here is an example:

You are one of the few out there whose wings are truly ANGELIC. Selfless, powerful, and divine, you are one blessed with a certain cosmic grace. You are unequalled in peacefulness, love, and beauty. As a Being of Light your wings are massive and a soft white or silver. Countless feathers grace them and radiate the light within you for all the world to see. You are a defender, protector, and caretaker. Comforter of the weak and forgiver of the wrong, chances are you are taken advantage of once in awhile, maybe quite often. But your innocence and wisdom sees the good in everyone and so this mistreatment does not make you colder. Merciful to the extreme, you will try to help misguided souls find themselves and peace. However not all Angelics allow themselves to be gotten the better of - the Seraphim for example will be driven to fighting for the sake of Justice and protection of those less powerful. Congratulations - and don't ever change - the world needs more people like you.

*~*~*Claim Your Wings - Pics and Long Answers*~*~*brought to you by Quizilla

Jollyblogger has a bunch of them up too. Alas, this one proves...
You are Napoleon Dyanamite and a buttload of gangs are trying to recruit you.
Which Napoleon Dynamite character are you? brought to you by Quizilla

The Dress and the Location

Amybear has posted about choosing a dress and our trip to a possible location with her parents over at the Wedding Blog. Unfortunately we don't have pictures (stupid me forgot my camera). She does have a link to David's Bridal with a possible gown though.

Brian Nichols and Women Cops

Some people may have heard of this, if not Michelle Malkin and LaShawn Barber have some coverage.

Some people are saying that women should have no role in law enforcement. I disagree and frankly I think that is sloppy thinking. Not all law enforcement is about going one on one with large black men like Brian Nichols. In fact very little of it has to do with that. Most of it has to do with talking to people, either taking depositions or in handling verbal disputes. I think women can excel in those areas and are probably better than men. Women also tend to be better shots (it's a manual dexterity thing).

The issue here is what the hell was a 5' tall woman doing guarding an over 6' tall man. A man who is unshackled, had a knife taken off him the day before, is accused of rape, and is changing clothes at the time. No woman had any business being in that room.

Some people may think that all this "women cannot match up against men" talk is also sloppy thinking. No. Women cannot match up physically with men of the same weight if their skill levels are at all similar. Women have a higher proportion of body fat and skeletal mass than men. That means a man will be significantly stronger than a woman of the same size and weight. Sorry, but this isn't making things up. A woman is outgunned going up against a man even if he is her own size. It gets worse when you consider that most men are bigger than women too.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Will You Survive a Zombie Attack?

Official Survivor
Congratulations! You scored 75!

Whether through ferocity or quickness, you made it out. You made the right choice most of the time, but you probably screwed up somewhere. Nobody's perfect, at least you're alive.

My test tracked 1 variable How you compared to other people your age and gender:
You scored higher than 71% on survivalpoints
Link: The Zombie Scenario Survivor Test written by ci8db4uok on Ok Cupid

UPDATE: I'd like to note a few problems with the quiz.

First, the bit about anybody being able to shoot a handgun is bunk. Handguns are the most difficult firearms to shoot. The easiest would be a shotgun, followed by a rifle (at reasonable ranges), followed by a handgun.

Secondly, the armor question was awfully misleading. I chose light because generally zombies are slow and easily outrun. Izzy went heavy because he wanted bite proof. Ideally what I would want head/neck/shoulder, hand-to-elbow, and foot-to-knee bite protection with very little armor on my torso. That makes me bite proof but still keeps things fairly light so I can run. This wasn't an option. If you are badly outnumbered against very stupid foes, running is good because you can get them to interfere with each other's movement. That way you can string them out and take the zombies one on one.

Thirdly, the shoot-everything-and-take-what-they-got school of survival is nice, but I've seen that movie. You do not want to stop at the abandoned police checkpoint for more than a minute. It is abandoned for a reason. Guaranteed there will be a zombie in one of the squadcar trunks that will burst out and bite one of your guys.

For weapons, an AR-15 is a good choice. It's very accurate and fast and the 5.56 round will penetrate a skull which is all that matters. Don't discount 22lr by the way. Range may be limited, but it will penetrate a skull and you can store and carry vast amounts of it. If you have to deal with thousands of zombies, bulk packs of 22lr should be easy to find.

Hand-to-hand you want something that can sever a neck or shatter a skull. A combat axe or sword is good. A baseball bat is not. If you want something light for emergencies I suggest a kukri, which is small but still has ridiculous amounts of cutting power.

Yes I own the Zombie Survival Guide, but take its analysis with a grain of salt. For instance they recommend the AK-47. Yes it's reliable, but it's notoriously inaccurate. Certainly not accurate enough for the necessary head shots at any meaningful range. A stock you can club someone with doesn't matter unless you can crush a skull with it, which I wouldn't bet on. The M1 carbine is good and light, but also lacks the necessary accuracy after 50 yards.

I found this on A Small Victory. She suggests that the zombie survival situation is hopeless. I disagree. One thing zombies don't do is heal. So their bodies will break down from exposure, knicks, cuts, and then decompose to the point that they can't move anymore. A few months to a year and then no more zombie problem.

Friday, March 11, 2005

UMC and the Federal Budget

Evidently the UMC has taken it upon themselve to criticize the federal budget. You know a long time ago, in a place far away, a bunch of really amazing Christians got together and said:
It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables.
Wouldn't it be nice if the modern church remembered that?

The Schiavo Case

I have been avoiding this topic for a while but let me share my opinion. I'm sure it won't be popular.

Terri Schiavo isn't a vegetable, she has some mental capacity but no ability to communicate or feed herself. She might be able to do so with physical therapy. At best Terri has full control of her mental faculties but is trapped within her own body. At worst she has no conscious mind and is acting on pure instinct. While lots of people are saying "she might get better", I sincerely doubt it. After 15 years, she has about as much chance of meaningful recovery as winning the lottery.

Michael Schiavo's life sucks. Maybe he deserves it. His wife is not and will never be the woman he married. He has realized this and moved on, which is completely understandable to me. He's living with his fiancee and their two kids. They intend to get married after Terri passes. He has not forsaken Terry through all this however and the two of them take care of her together. Her parents are claiming that this constitutes adultery and want his legal rights stripped away. They are technically right, but frankly Terri is not capable of actually having any sort of meaningful relationship with him. Blah blah sickness and health, but honestly Shiavo is attacked from all sides. I can't blame him for looking to someone for the support Terri cannot give him.

And support is what he needs, he is frequently and consistently smeared by thousands of people who have never met him. I don't know the man either, but I doubt the picture I get in the press is accurate. They have made him out to be some sort of mustache-twirling violent offender who doesn't even have the decency to tie his wife to the railroad tracks. I doubt any of his critics have ever been in his situation. I also doubt he is as bad as they say.

People are claiming that Terri's condition is the result of a head injury he gave her. Possible, but I doubt it. More likely any head injury is the result of a fall at the initial onset of her heart problem. People lose consciousness suddenly all the time, my mom did it at church last year.

People are also claiming that he has raided her funds for his own personal uses. Out of millions of dollars he has received under 11 thousand over the 15 year period since Terri's "attack". That isn't much. It might reimburse him for his time caring for her. His biggest expenses are legal bills caused by the constant litigation battle.

He's claiming that Terri would have wanted the feeding tube removed. I believe him. The parents' counter-argument is "but she's Catholic!" Such crap. American Catholics are the poster children for syncratism. If she was so ardently Catholic, why didn't she marry one according to church doctrine? I think it is entirely possible she wouldn't want to live in that condition. Hell, I'm a pretty faithful evangelical and I'd be pretty torn too. Plus I know the level of honesty and openness I share with my fiancee. She knows a lot of things I would never tell my parents, especially if I thought they wouldn't approve.

Then we have the Florida government. The Schindlers are filing motion after motion, not because they think the will win a case, but so that they can keep getting stay after stay from the judiciary. The governor is involved, the legislature has passed laws overriding Michaels rights as guardian. The legal precedents for big government meddling that are being created make me shudder.

Honestly I think Michael should just divorce Terri and give up legal and financial guardianship. If I were him I would have by now. Why hasn't he? He claims it is because they will not honor her wishes and he loves his wife and wants to see those wishes honored. I can believe that. Frankly, when I look at "Terri's supporters" (actually the Schindlers' supporters), it is never about what Terri wants. It is about abstract concepts like the sanctity of life/euthanasia or what they think Terri should have. But no one ever considers Terri's wishes. At least not for more than a moment. Michael Shiavo, right or wrong, is the only one I believe has a credible claim to them in this situation.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

If You Can't Say Anything Nice...

Say something about the Hilton sisters... Manolo is great. I'm so glad he's on my blogroll now.

Liberal Parenthood

After the last election, there was quite a bit of analysis performed in the blogosphere about the Red and Blue birthrates. Locusts and Honey has noticed that there are several articles out in the bluosphere about rediscovering the rewards of parenting. Their profound discoveries are often things that conservatives have known and propogated for a very long time.

I think the reason this is so revolutionary has to do with the stronger embrace of extreme feminism on liberal culture. If there is one thing that feminism does not do, it is respect the institution of motherhood. Motherhood is often portrayed as reproductive bondage. The woman must care for the children which require resources she could spend elsewhere to earn respect for herself. This is why abortion and birth control are backed so prominently by feminism, they "liberate" a woman so that she doesn't have to be a mother. This control allows her to achieve on her own.

Now a lot of feminists will say things like "we think motherhood is good" at this point. If a woman choses to be a mother good for her, we just want women to be able to make the choice not to be. They have a point of course. They are only freeing a woman to choose to be a mother or not. But when you actually read their literature, you get a pretty clear picture of which choice the feminists feel is superior.

I'm reminded of a meeting we had at work. The upper management basically told the young folks that if you really wanted a good future here, you needed to work towards entering management and climbing the career ladder. If you didn't, if you just wanted to be a good analyst or a great programmer (presumably because you enjoy those things), well you could spend a career at it but you definitely won't be rewarded as highly or compensated as well. They didn't say "glass ceiling", they said "performance plateau" which is the same thing turned upside down.

Cats Fight Back

Remember that post from yesterday about Cat Hunting? Looks like the cats are already fighting back.

My last dog had a bad habit of tripping up people in the kitchen. If you trip and spill, anything hits the floor was his right? Well suffice it to say it isn't anywhere near as funny when you are carrying a pot of boiling pasta water or a sharp chef's knife and the dog "accidentally" gets underfoot. My mother stopped being amused very quickly. My dog had a lot of fun though.

Some people may feel sorry for this guy. Don't. There are only two places a loaded gun belongs, on your person or locked up in something designed for that purpose. They should never be left sitting on kitchen countertops or in desk drawers. This may have been an accident, but it was one cause by this dumbass's negligence.

Blogrolling and Blogger

The service seems to be down right now, hence no blogroll on the left of the page. It's very irritating but thankfully I still have my bookmarks and web history that can get me where I need to go. I want my blogroll darnit!

UPDATE: Blogrolling seems to be back up, but Blogger is giving me trouble. This may be a problematic day for posting.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

D&D = Security Risk?

Evidently the Israeli Defense Forces think roleplaying is a sign of character weakness. Specifically anyone who admits to playing D&D is given a low security clearance.

That stinks. Where I work at the Army, a large number of the younger employees are D&D/roleplaying/Magic the Gathering nerds.

Honestly, I find this kind of surprising. D&D is a descendant of a lot of wargaming which, I would think, would be popular among military-minded individuals. Combat tactics are a big part of D&D among other things. I suppose this is more of a reaction against the sort of mentality behind the game rather than the game itself though.

UPDATE: For a better (and funnier) post on the subject go here.

UPDATE2: Turns out that this is actually talking about Live Action RolePlayers (LARP) who play Real D&D. Not "normal" people who play pen and paper D&D. Evidently 50% or LARPers fail their psych tests so they are washing all of them out on principle. Thats fine with me since LARPers are so nerdy I won't even play with them. Unless it's Cowboy Action Shooting, cause guns are fun.

Malaysia Primer

Ok last post for a while. Well maybe one more after this. Messy Christian is Malaysian and is giving a little tutorial on the local culture.

Duck Season, Wabbit Season, Cat Season?

Sufferin' Succotash! Wisconsin is talking about issuing hunting licenses for cats. That's right, house cats. Why? Conservation and public health concerns.

Cats are great pets. Or so people say, I'm a dog guy myself. I like pets that live in my house, not pets that allow me to live in theirs. And a great guy like me is already so incredibly humble that I don't need no stinking cat to improve my humility.

The problem with cats is that people let them out. This means you have a house cat who feeds off the local bird, mouse, and varmint populations. Cats will basically eat anything made of meat that is smaller than they are. My parents occasionally get a cat that stakes out one of their bird feeders. Feeders become game baiting stations for cats even when they aren't designed to be. My parents hate it (the cats drives off the pretty pigeons I suppose).

Feral cat colonies just make it worse. Feral colonies are groups of wild house cats that do what cats do. Only there are no people involved so they tend to spread illness and disease along with decimating the local animal population.

California forbids residents to own ferrets for all these reasons. They have the same predatory profile. Cats get a pass because cat lovers are a more powerful voting bloc. However some states, like Wisconsin, are considering hunting nonetheless.

What is the moral of this story? Keep house cats in the damn house. If you let your cat out, don't expect him to come back. Even if your area doesn't allow hunting, there are still cars and dogs and the like. Keep your furry friend home where he is safe.

Commie Lies

This site has a lot of good information and links about the Italian Communist who insists that the US Army tried to kill her. With tanks. They have pictures to the fiat she was in at the time. Doesn't look like they fired "300-400 rounds" into it to me.

Work Load

It is very busy right now. You may have noticed the number of posts dropping for the last few days. I'll try to pick up the pace a bit here and there, but I'm unexpectedly under the gun on several things at work so that gets first priority.

Picking a Wedding Date

I'm cross posting this from the Wedding Blog.

For those not in the know, Amybear is Jewish and I'm a Christian. This makes setting a wedding date a little trickier. Christians usually get married on Saturday. Jews cannot get married on Saturday because it's Shabbat. Amy's parents were married after sundown on Saturday to get around this, but they recommend against this tactic. It's a late wedding and a later reception and it really isn't much fun getting married in the dark.

This means a Sunday wedding which is unusual for Christians but not explicitly forbidden. My Church has had one in the last year or so. Not that we're going to get married in my church mind you.

The problem with the Sunday wedding is one of scheduling. Both my family and Amy's family is spread out all over the East Coast (oddly enough a lot are in Philadelphia and Hartford). So we really need to plan a travel day after the wedding.

This lead us to pick Memorial Day Weekend. It's in late May so the season is right and its a three day weekend so people can travel. We're not getting married until 2006, so we have ample time to schedule it. Yes Memorial Day weekend fills up fast, but most weddings and the like occur on Saturdays so Sundays are cheaper and stay free longer.

Unfortunately Memorial Day Weekend is also Graduation Weekend for a lot of colleges. A few cousins have already told us that they won't be able to make it because of that. They aren't students, they work in operations at a college in Connecticut, so Graduation weekend is their busiest weekend of the year and they can't take off even for a family wedding.

Amy and I discussed it and we're going to stay with Memorial Day anyway. We're going to send those cousins invitations anyway to let them know they're wanted. We may want to have a tape or DVD of the ceremony (possibly with reception highlights). We can send that to people who can't make it because of conflicts to show them we missed them and smooth over any residual tensions.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

The Emergent Church

Adrian Warnock linked to this post on the Emergent Church. It isn't as good as people are saying it is. Here is an example:
If you ask for a definition of post-modernism from those who claim it as their own philosophy or worldview you will likely get as many different answers as those you ask. In the same way to try and define the emergent church, especially in terms of a theological stance can be a somewhat elusive task. The ec takes great pains to tell you that they cannot be pigeonholed into any one theological mindset or method.
This may be true, but these same criticisms could be applied almost equally well to Evangelicalism. Remember how the press was struggling to get a definition after the last election? Emergent also seems to be fairly ecumenical. I would expect a single theological mindset would be hard to achieve for that reason alone.

He also mentions "open view" theism as an Emergent doctrine. Didn't he already state that Emergent doesn't have much in the way of firm theology? Oh well. He is also quite wrong on this count. "Open view" is not doctrine developed by the Emergent church, it is a modern outgrowth of Arminian theology which was developed by Evangelicals. Oops.

The author makes a lot of leaps to judgement and unreinforced assertions. Most of this is linking Emergent with post-modernism. I found it really annoying. He may be right, but is it really that difficult to back things up with quotes or links these days? But this is an introductory article with more to follow, so maybe I should just wait for more.

Now if you want a good post on the Emergent church read this one instead.

The Fifth Column?

Jimmy at Seven Inches of Sense has penned a piece about how the military and media interact. Last I heard, Jimmy is an army officer serving in the sandbox. He is an excerpt:
I believe in a free press as long as they are OBJECTIVE. I believe that if something is wrong they should bring it to light so it can be corrected. What I don't believe in is the Media "looking" for "wrongness" or creating it to make a buck.

Monday, March 07, 2005

Jeff's Cooking Insights

Warm equals good. For this reason I officially love the microwave. I don't know how my parents lived without one. Yes the microwave does occasionally make your dinner taste like an irradiated mutant meal, but thats usually only because you attempted real cooking. For God's sake cook your food the first time in the oven or on the stovetop. The microwave is for reheating or cooking things like hotdogs. Perhaps melting an ingredient or two (like a warming up a sandwich just enough that the cheese gets all melty). It try to use to rule of thumb that the microwave is for leftovers and stuff that is so processed it can't possibly be hurt. (Foolish customer you cannot hurt the Twinkie!)

My mother has yet to realize this and often reheats things in the oven. They taste like they have been cooked twice as long as they should have, which is understandable because they have been. I swear you could make shoes out of some of her leftover roast beef. But she's generally a good cook, especially when she has the time to really cook and isn't slapping something together after work like everyone, including me, ends up doing.

Mark Wilson: Unsung Hero

A lot of people probably don't know who he is. Those who do have probably only heard of him as "an innocent bystander" involved in a shooting. I want to set the record straight.

On February 24th, David Arroyo Sr. opened fire on his wife and son on the town square in Tyler, Texas. His wife was killed outright, but his son (David Jr.) was only wounded in one leg. Why was he only wounded in one leg? Because Mark Wilson, a Tyler resident and concealed carry permit holder, arrived on the scene with his Glock 17. Wilson engaged Arroyo and saved young David's life at the cost of his own.

Mark Wilson was armed with a 9mm automatic. David Arroyo Sr was armed with a AK-47 and was wearing several layers of body armor. Wilson managed to wound Arroyo and slow him down enough to contribute to his capture, but he was badly outgunned. Despite making excellent use of cover, Wilson was shot in the head trying to get away himself. The unfortunately tactical lesson here is don't bring a pistol to a long gun fight.

Geek with a .45 has coverage of the memorial service complete with pictures. He also responds to some damn fool who is pissing on Wilson's grave.

Perhaps one day I will be able to shake Mark Wilson's hand in paradise. I look forward to it. Rest in Peace sir, you have earned it.

Evil and Evangelicals

The Washington Post recently ran an article about evangelicals. The gist of it? We're evil evil people us evangelicals. We may act nice, but we really aren't. We're just seething cauldrons of hatred waiting to boil over onto your school board. And some of us are being elected to Congress instead of nice normal people like Tom Daschle. Doug LeBlanc at GetReligion has more commentary on the article.

I've most often heard about evangelicals are "they're always so happy" and "they're really nice." Our subtle plans were working my brethren! This reporter must be stopped so that we can take over the world! Then we'll force everyone to listen to god-awful... err... God-wonderful Christian Rock. MWAHAHAHAHA!

Oh darn did I type that last paragraph, I meant to just say it out loud and act politely outraged at the article.

Dark Comedy for a Nice Day

Remember those Peter Cottontail books you read (or had read to you) as a kid? This is the most hilarious take on them I have ever seen. Thanks to a coworker for sending me this.

Sunday, March 06, 2005

I Never Learn

Amybear is going to be coming up this week. It's her spring break. As such I spent some time getting my apartment to a "man clean" level of cleanliness.

I don't tend to change into work clothes very much. I got cleanser on my favorite t-shirt a while back and it stopped being my favorite t-shirt. I did something similar today. I sprayed the tub down with clenser/mildew killer and then managed to drape my shirt onto it. The mildew killer contains bleach, so even though I quickly rinsed it off in the nearby sink, my red shirt is now all spotty.

So now I have a new work shirt I suppose. Fortunately I needed to buy some new clothes soon anyway. I have a pair of jeans that just plain wore out recently. And one of these days I'll learn to take my white collar work clothes off before I clean the bathroom.

Saturday, March 05, 2005

Marriage Advice

John at Locusts and Honey has marriage advice for me.
1. Make a habit of frequently nodding and saying "Uh-huh", because you will often find that your wife is talking to you. It's important that it looks like you're listening.
Amybear has caught on to this already. She is really good at telling when I'm not listening. Which is why I sometimes have to cover up with...
2. It is always a good time to tell your wife that you love her. Always.
She isn't allowed to not like me saying "I love you" even if it shows I'm not listening. She has already figured out that it means I'm filling a lull in conversation, but hey thats ok with her.
4. If your wife is not a morning person, do not attempt to convert her. Results will be painful (to you).
Luckily I'm not really a morning person either.
5. If possible, get a key to the chapel, in case the church custodian forgets to show up on the day of the wedding and let you in.
Not appicable since our Christian-Jewish ceremony won't involve either a church or synagogue. Unfortunately we'll have to do with the majesty of God's creation instead. ;)
6. Remember that weird uncle that you met when you were five and haven't seen since? If you don't send him an invitation, he will be very upset with you, and so will your parents who will be scandalized by your insensitivity.
Eh, our parents will be scandalized anyway. I'll call my wedding a success if both sides of the family are equally upset with us.

Saturday Shopping

After a little cleaning and being shut out at the public range because of weather (still too icy) I did some shopping today.

I hit the Disney store and preordered a copy of the Incredibles. It's a really good movie and with the pre-order I get 4 lithographs and 15% off whatever I want to buy when I pick the movie up. The movie comes out the 15th, so Amybear and I may do a little shopping then, or shortly thereafter. I'm sure Amybear can think of a few things that she'd like to use the 15% on.

I also rented the first two episodes of Deadwood from Blockbuster. For some reason not all Blockbuster's have these. College Square didn't but Fox Run did. The show is ok. Some people are saying it's amazing, but those people probably only like it because the swearing and nudity makes things more "realistic". It also has more profanity and nudity than I would like. But it does have style which counts for a lot. Still thats pretty much all it has.

The enhanced realism is a load of crap of course. The Old West was a place of Victorian morals where people tipped their hats to ladies. Oh they wouldn't do it for whores, whores weren't of the proper class for that. People also didn't go around saying a form of "fuck" once every three words like in college frathouse. If they did want to swear, they used a good blasphemy because God was taken seriously back then. "Fuck" is altogether too modern for a western. And even in impolite society there were things you didn't do or talk about, like sex for the most part. There is a nice scene where an actual lady walks into the room and all the men stand up to pay their respects. That is the Old West.

BTW if you're a lady and want a western nickname, don't use "Calamity". The Calamity is VD, which wasn't really treatable before the development of anti-biotics in the 20th century. Calamity Jane was not exactly a woman of good repute. The reason Wild Bill Hickok was going blind at the end of his life was that she gave him syphilis. Similarly when she died and was buried next to Wild Bill, the thing people said was "Its a good thing Hickok is already dead because he would have never stood for this."

Friday, March 04, 2005

Days Off

I have every other friday off from work. Its great and comes from working a compressed schedule of 9 hour days and one 8 hour friday every two weeks. So blogging has been light because I slept in (Ah sleep that's where I'm a viking!) and have been relaxing and cleaning up around the house. I'm also working on a more substantial post that I have been putting for too long.


There is a lot of hubbub about this in the blogosphere. Evidently some very stupid people are trying to extend the law to include partisan political speech delivered on the internet. It is foolishness.

I'd like to go on record as saying that the MF Campaign Finance Reform Law is a horrible law. It completely and utterly failed to reform any part of campaign finance in the 2004 election. Things were more heavily regulated but still as or more corrupt. It is the worst of both worlds.

Plus it restricts freedom of speech. Not just any speech, but political speech. You know the speech that the 1st Amendment was deliberately created to protect. It needs to be repealed and repealed now, before it can do any more harm.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Chronicles of Narnia

For those interested in the movie, check out Narnia Fans. The site contains some preliminary movie art of the Stone Table among other things. Spoilers are available but clearly marked. According to Narnia Fans, the film makers will be keeping the allegory as intact as possible.

Some people are complaining because The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe is being made first instead of the chronologically first Magicians Nephew. Since 1994 the prevailing way the books have been printed is using the chronological order of the stories. Previously they were published using the publishing order which I personally think is superior. This article discusses the issues surrounding publishing vs. chronological order.

I personally think LWW makes a much better first book as it was written first. The dramatic constructs, like revealing characters like Aslan, are ruined when you already know who they are. MN was written as a prequel, but it is mostly a stand alone story that you could read anywhere in the order so it doesn't have these problems. Now if they wanted to change this around for the movies they certainly could. Creating in the new medium means they will have to change things anyway. But as for the books, read them in published order. Or at the very least, read LWW first and the Last Battle last.

The IMDB Chronicles of Narnia forum is interesting too. A lot of people are saying that The Last Battle is their favorite book. It surprised me because it is probably my least favorite. Not enough story I suppose. My favorites are probably Prince Caspian and Horse and His Boy. Last Battle is too thick for me.

Toilet Tech

Wired has a piece up on the engineering behind toilets. Its kind of interesting as long as you aren't bothered by excessive poop jokes.


I've been tied up with stuff at work today. It hasn't left much time for blogging. I'll try to post something when I get the chance.

Wedding Blog

Amybear and I are starting a new blog together about our upcoming nuptuals. It really isn't anything to look at yet, but we may be adding more to it shortly as we scout locations. It is on the blogroll.

I'm not sure how much of the wedding stuff I will be posting here or there. Chances are I will be cross posting a lot of stuff, but this way we have a central place to keep track of everything. I'll at least post a notice, ala Instapundit, after anything new comes up.

Plus the new blog gives Amybear something to do when she really doesn't want to work on her thesis. I'd call her my little procrastinator, but honestly I'm a lot worse about that sort of thing than she is.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Not a Tame Lion

Jollyblogger and GetReligion are commenting on the movie version of the Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe that are in production. Specifically, how Christian are they going to be? Disney veteran Mark Kaplan had this to say:
There's enough story and traditional emotion in the 'Narnia' books that they can let the Christian mysticism in it either be a subtext or not a part of it at all. I suspect you can portray resurrection in the same way that E.T. comes back to life, and that practically every fairy tale has a hero or heroine who seems to be gone forever but nevertheless manages to come back.
That sound you hear is Clive Staples Lewis rolling in his grave. Fortunately Kaplan is only a commentor and hopefully not involved with the project directly.

The Narnia books are very deliberately influenced by Christianity. In the Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe the symbolism is very deep as Aslan, the Christ figure, dies for Edmund's betrayl only to live again. Immediately after his resurrection, he destroys the citadel of the White Witch and breathes new life into her stone captives. You don't have to hit people over the head with it, but you can't just work around it either. Hopefully they'll keep the "in your world I am known by another name" lines.

Terry Mattingly at GetReligion has this to say:
This is precisely the same dilemma faced by Peter Jackson and his crew as they began work on The Lord of the Rings, only the Christian themes and symbols used by apologist C.S. Lewis are much more explicit and, well, evangelistic. Jackson thought this through and made the crucial decision to leave J.R.R. Tolkien's vision intact, even if that produced behind-the-scenes worries that the films might be seen as too culturally conservative. That turned out to be a wise decision in the marketplace.
Thank God we didn't have 2 hour, heavily abridged LotR movies. Hopefully the producers of the Chronicles of Narnia movies will have the same insight. "Christian mysticism" is the soul of the work, if you cut out it's soul then you kill it.