Friday, September 29, 2006

Politics: Climate Change

This speech by Senator James Inhofe (R-OK) is worth a read. He makes several good points like:
  • Scientists and the media have been alternating from publicizing global cooling to publicizing global warming for over a hundred years. If it isn't one possible ecological disaster it is another.
  • Climate change is a fact. The climate changes. In 900-1300, the climate was warmer than it is now. When the Vikings first came to Greenland, it was actually green. From 1500-1850 we had the little ice age. Since then we have warmed up a bit with some hotter and some cooler years. Global temperature shifts are nothing new and are nothing to get overly excited about.
  • Most of the public discourse on this topic is badly oversensationalized. There are a lot of downright lies. This is true for Al Gore's movie and a lot of other work.
As an engineer, I'd like to make a point about computer modeling because it is what I do for a living. Global warming analysis is bound to have issues. Why? Because we're talking about temperature changes on the order of a few degrees. And that isn't very much change at all thermodynamically.

It is current about 20 C (67 F) at my desk. Which is a little cooler than I'd like. Lets say it goes up by a couple of degrees. Now I'm more comfortable. How much did it change? Well 22 degrees from 20 degrees is a 10% increase right? That's a lot, right? Well yes and no. I'm a lot more comfortable, but in actuality it didn't get that much warmer in the grand scheme of things. You see when doing thermodynamic and heat transfer calculations, especially using radiative heat transfer (like we get from the sun) you do not use the Celsius or Fahrenheit temperature scales. You use absolute temperature in Kelvin. So it is actually 293K in my office. That 2 degree difference is actually a 0.7% absolute temperature change. A lot smaller than you probably thought.

Now we can easily track down the reason for that temperature shift in my office, because it is a simple closed system. But global climate? As a system, the global inputs and outputs are fairly well characterized (in terms of energy in and out), but simple? Not on your life. With global climate change, we're still talking about temperature shifts of perhaps a percentage point or two in average absolute temperature. Which makes analyzing these changes very difficult because a lot of individual phenomenon or groups of phenomena can actually produce such a small shift.

So I'm not saying that we don't have global warming or anything like that. What I'm saying is that this issue is something that the academics like to call "a non-trivial problem." It is a toughie and anyone that says they have it completely figured out (especially when extrapolating their conclusions into the future) deserves to receive a skeptical reception in my opinion.

Via Lawdog

Politics: Do Deer Poop in the Woods?

In Maryland they do. It's giving environmentalists and government officials fits because the bacteria from their poop ends up the water supply and raises certain bacteria levels above EPA acceptable limits. Turns out the water standards might be flawed and overly strict. Gee, who woulda guessed?

Fun: Dr. Who

Sci-fi is starting the new season of Dr Who tonight with the Christmas special at 8pm and the first episode at 9:30pm. They're also showing last season's episodes all day today. The last episode, where they change Doctors from the 9th (Christopher Eccleston) to the 10th (David Tennant), airs at 3pm today. It's a two-parter though and the first part airs at two if you want to catch the whole thing.

UPDATE: I have a great wife who tape the last two episodes of Dr. Who from last season for me. We watched them Sunday night. We also watched the premiere of the new episodes on Friday. It was pretty good stuff and I plan to keep watching.

Gun Politics: Political Actions

Geek with a .45 is reporting on pro-gun developments (or at least anti-anti-gun developments) coming out of the Pennsylvania legislature. Anti-gun proposals coming from Philadelphia politicos are being soundly defeated by a coalition of national and state groups.

Perhaps we need to form something like this in Delaware to get House Bill 359 moving and the stupid amendments stripped out of it.

Blogging: New Looks

DCBA blog Jokers to the Right has a new look. I think Ryan is planning on tweeking it a bit, but its looking good.

Ryan is also reporting that 7-11 won't be carrying Citgo gas any more because of Hugo Chavez's recent comments at the UN. Hmmm perhaps a slurpee does sound good today...

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Fun: Life as a Green Suiter

As an Army civilian, I often wonder how different my life would be if I wore one of those fancy uniforms. Sometimes I don't want to know what I'm missing. Here are a few highlights:
174. Furby ® is not allowed into classified areas. (I swear to the gods, I did not make that up, it's actually DOD policy).
This is actually true. Furbies can learn words and phrases and then they will speak them at random. Therefore they are technically considered recording devices. I believe this came about when some analyst had a furby on his or her desk and then had it learn some things it shouldn't. If you bring one into a classified area, you have just created a classified furby. We have trouble with a lot of cell phones, mp3 players, and cameras for similar reasons.
167. Not allowed to operate a business out of the barracks.
168. Especially not a pornographic movie studio.
169. Not even if they *are* "especially patriotic films."
This is actually a lot less funny than you might think. With the gender integration of the military, soldiers/sailors making porn themselves when they can't get it somewhere else is not unheard of. They get bored and find things to do. When you have a sexually integrated military, sometimes the things they find to do are each other. Sometimes they bring cameras along. The military is not at all happy about this.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Fun: Feats of Archery

This video may be in Korean, but the archery tricks they're doing translate well into any language. Wow.

Politics: Results Others Would Dispute

I got this one from Jokers to the Right. Somehow I don't think others would define me as a centrist though.

You scored 48% Personal Liberty and 57% Economic Liberty!
A centrist believes in moderate government intervention in both personal and economic matters. They tend to be somewhat ambiguous, as they may have the oppurtunity to pick the side of any group surrounding them on any given issue. They generally believe in a moderate social safety net and what they consider to be a balanced stance on personal liberty. Centrists tend to emphasize compromise and cooperation between partisan groups.

Link: The Politics Test written by brainpolice on OkCupid Free Online Dating, home of the The Dating Persona Test

Guns and Politics: More from Jeff Cooper

Lawdog is trying to familiarize his readers with Cooper by reprinting one of the Guru's more salient Guns & Ammo articles from 1975; Cooper vs. Terrorism. Here is a taste:
One bleeding-heart type asked me in a recent interview if I did not agree that "violence begets violence." I told him that it is my earnest endeavor to see that it does. I would like very much to ensure—and in some cases I have—that any man who offers violence to his fellow citizen begets a whole lot more in return than he can enjoy.
The complete article is here.

Politics: Frank Miller on Patriotism

Comic books artist and writer Frank Miller has a This I Believe essay up at NPR. Here is the jist:
For the first time in my life, I know how it feels to face an existential menace. They want us to die. All of a sudden I realize what my parents were talking about all those years.

Patriotism, I now believe, isn't some sentimental, old conceit. It's self-preservation. I believe patriotism is central to a nation's survival. Ben Franklin said it: If we don't all hang together, we all hang separately.
Kind of explains why he wants to write Batman vs. Al Qaeda, doesn't it?

Via Thinklings.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Guns and Politics: The Well Armed Town of Greenleaf

Miss Anonymous Opinion pointed me to this story so I shall comment.

The rural community of Greenleaf, Idaho is working to pass the Civil Emergencies Ordinance. They're looking at crime rates in other communities bordering Greenleaf and they don't like what they see. The ordinance would require heads of Greenleaf households to own guns and would also promote emergency planning, civilian response, and neighborhood watch groups. I haven't read the proposed law, so I can't comment on it directly, but why let that stop me, right?

Anyway, this kind of law usually works. But not because it promotes firearms ownership. Generally, places with these laws are communities like Greenleaf that already have nearly universal firearms ownership. What these laws do is publicize that the town is well armed. Kennesaw, GA passed a similar law after the easy highway access to town shopping centers also gave criminals easy highway access to their community for criminal activities like theft. They advertised their new law on a billboard next to their exit off the interstate. Their crime rate plummeted because criminals realized they aren't a soft target.

So yes it will work, although largely due to changing people's perception. But I do hope there is a conscientious objector clause in the law as in Kennesaw. I have the same problem with people forcing others to own guns as I have with prohibiting them by force. Many gun control supporters don't trust themselves with guns, therefore they don't trust others with them either. While they may not respect my rights, I will still respect theirs and not force them to arm themselves. I will take them to the range if they ask though.

Guns: Jeff Cooper Dies at 86

From his blog:
At the request of the family it is our sad duty to report the passing of Jeff Cooper on the afternoon of September 25, 2006. Jeff died peacefully at home while being cared for by his wife Janelle and daughter Lindy.
Lt. Colonel Cooper served in the Marines in both World War II and Korea. He was also editor-at-large for Guns&Ammo. He was also a historian and a big game hunter with both rifle and pistol.

He is responsible for most of the technique and doctrine surrounding "modern" pistolcraft and defensive shooting including: the four carry conditions for the M1911 pistol, the color code for combat awareness (later adapted by several military and police organizations), and popularizing the four rules of gun safety. He founded the American Pistol Institute (also called Gunsite) in 1976 to instruct military personnel, law enforcement officers, and responsible civilians in guncraft. He also founded the International Practical Shooting Confederation (IPSC) and the US Practical Shooting Association in 1976 to promote practical defensive shooting.

I'm going to have to snap up some of his books, like Art of the Rifle, before they fall out of print.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Fun: Robert E. Howard

Although most well known for his Conan stories, Howard restrict his writing to Hyborean fantasy. Up until Conan and Kull, he wrote a lot of historical adventures. He originally created the setting of his Hyborean Age so that he could write "historical" fiction without having to extensive and time consuming historical research. So India became Wendiha, etc.

Well Howards Conan stories are coming back into print in their original forms. Fortunately, that isn't where it stops. It seems the University of Nebraska Press is putting out collections of his Westerns, boxing stories, and crusades fiction. Excellent.

Fun: Cats Do the Funniest Things

Thankfully, ours hasn't figured out how to work the toilet for it's own amusement. We don't pay a water bill, but I don't need to be serenaded to sleep by the sounds of flushing toilets every night.

I've discovered that cats are just funny creatures. Dogs can be funny too, usually because they're stupid. But cats have dignity so they're both stupid and offended by your laughing. It's a double wammy.

Reviews: 300 Trailer

Tamara and others really like the trailer for the movie adaptation of Frank Miller's 300. 300 is a retelling of the story of the Spartan exploits at the Battle of Thermopylae.

I love the story of Thermopylae. I wouldn't mind reading Miller's graphic novel or Steven Pressfield's Gates of Fire which is recommended reading in some US Army units. It is a tale of heroes fighting insurmountable odds with little more than good ground, good tactics, and good dialogue ("Come get them" and "Good, then we will fight you in the shade") to aid them.

But I don't know whether 300 will beat out 1962s The 300 Spartans for me. 300 copies the comic's art style and frankly it really doesn't do anything for me. Miller's art has just become too stylized for my tastes. Instead of fighting in proper phalanx formation with proper armor and equipment, we have a bunch of bare-chested well-oiled homo-erotic warriors battling gallantly and somewhat stupidly. But I'll probably see it anyway.

It is nice to see Gerard Butler getting good work. He's done period work before with TNT's Attila. Often times he's a standout in otherwise dreadful movies like Dracula 2000 or Timeline.

Blogging: Nerd Scores

40, another 40, 48, 54, 59? Bah! Bow before my giant nerd brain.

Update: Holy Crap! I've gotten even nerdier! Kneel before Zod!

I am nerdier than 97% of all people. Are you nerdier? Click here to find out!

Update2: Ryan at Jokers to the Right put up a good showing at 86.
Hube, Paul Smith, Jr., Miss AO, and Jeff the Baptist have taken it too. All of them, except for the latter, are lightweights.

Pushes up glasses

Saturday, September 23, 2006

God: Happy Jewish New Year

Say hello to year 5767.

Amybear, Milo, and I are in Virginia celebrating Rosh Hashanah (and her dad's birthday) with Amy's parents and grandmother. It's good to see everybody and the cat did remarkably well traveling. No complaints.

Ok one complaint: temple services. I wish I could say that Rosh Hashanah services formed a deep understanding of Christianity's Jewish roots for me, but generally they were just really boring. Most synagogues are heavily liturgical and about half of the service is in Hebrew, which I can't read, speak, or understand. Having to sit through three and a half hours of services made be really appreciate the far more brief hour and a half of a normal Christmas or Easter.

UPDATE: I've done several seder's over the years. At least four or five now. Not a big deal and nowhere near as bad as Rosh Hashanah services. Seder's are generally done in homes by Jews who really want to just eat the food already. Amy's dad is more than willing to streamline his seder a bit for this reason. Even the long ones aren't that bad and I had to read the Four Questions for one of them. Besides matzoh with haroset is yummy.

Yom Kippur is worse than Rosh Hashanah though. The Jews are a people who like to eat. It's a cultural thing. I don't want to be in a synagogue full of 400-800 fasting, and therefore grumpy, Jews.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Thursday, September 21, 2006

God: Failings of the Church

The "Mainstream" churches get a very bad rap from conservatives for their theology. Largely we blame their theology on the decline of their churches. But John the Methodist has an excellent piece on other issues operating within the liberal branch of the church. And unlike liberal theology which conservatives don't suffer from, we share most of those form-over-substance issues with the liberal church.

Fun: More RPG Posters

What ho! This thread sired all these posters. This one is my new favorite.

Enjoy 700+ pages of RPG-inspired non-productivity.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

God and Politics: The Pope

I thought about posting on the Pope's remarks, but its been done. I will touch on these from Junkyard Blog via John the Methodist.

Actually the Anglicans were probably a pretty good choice ... most Anglican churches are pretty safe to attack. ... Baptists? They will shoot you. The choir probably has Tec-9s stashed under those robes.

Please. We don't all have guns. Granted those of us who do have enough to spread around should the need arise though. And we would never go with Tec-9s under choir robes. Choir robes are like +14 to concealment. You can fit much better stuff under there like shotguns and AR-15s. It gets even better in states that allow Class III licenses.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Blogging: Mojo Ain't Working

Man, maybe its the cat waking me up this morning by farting on my head and yowling for food, but I just can't seem to get my blog on today. Ah well. I guess I'll keep trying.

Gun Fun: Theology Gangsta

Yeah, cause I know them Arminians make me want to bust a cap...

Via BHT.

Fun: Shiver Me Timbers!

It do be International Talk Like a Pirate Day! Stop yer lilly-livered land-lubbery, me hearties. Where be me grog?

Monday, September 18, 2006

Fun: Puzzle Games

If you really want to lose track of time, I recommend Lines and my new favorite, Atomica. These are similar puzzle games where you have to prevent the board by filling up with multicolored balls. Good games, but pace yourself or you will find quitting time coming here with no work to show for it.

Politics: Research Politics

I would say that this comic is funny, but unfortunately it is too true to be funny.

Back when I was getting my Master's I learned a few things about research. Number one is that your research is always driven by the person paying for it. If the grant manager doesn't end up happy, you won't end up happy. Number two is that your research work is always decided by your advisor who generally is paying your bills.

The practical impact of this that research is a political game. I had often had to balance the wishes of two advisors. Even with one advisor, I had to test the theories they were already invested in even if I knew they were wrong. On a larger scale, grant money means doing their research their way. Telling someone the answer they want to hear is easy. Telling that they are wrong (and continuing to get paid for it) is tougher. Telling someone that they have been wasting their money for years is downright challenging.

And that doesn't even get around to the fact that peer review generally just checks to see if your articles are written well and has nothing to do with actually looking at your data.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

God Blogging: Never Darken My Blog Again

Welcome to today's dissection of "Christian" comment spam.
Question the baptist cult can not answer with the bible:

1. Where do they come up with the doctrine of faith only saves? Not from the bible!!!!
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.

-Ephesians 2:8-9
2. Where do they come up with the false doctrine of original sin? Not from the Bible!!!
Like Adam, they have broken the covenant— they were unfaithful to me there.

-Hosea 6:7

Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned-

-Romans 5:12
3. where do they come up with the doctrine of predestination? Not from the bible!!!
Not all Baptists are Calvinists, so where he gets this one I'll never know. But here is a good verse on it anyway.

For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.

-Romans 8:29-30
4. Where do they get the false doctrine of once saved always saved? not from the bible!!!
Again Calvinism does not equal Baptist. But...

"For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin— because anyone who has died has been freed from sin.

Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him."

-Romans 6:6-9
5. Where do they come up with the doctrine of John the baptist started the church? not from the bible!!!
Yeah I'll admit that is traditional and not biblical. It is also tradition that I don't hold to and that has absolutely no effect on anything.
6. Where do they come up with the false doctrine of baptism is an out ward sign of an inward faith, and that a person is saved before they are baptized? Not from the bible!!!
Then Peter said, "Can anyone keep these people from being baptized with water? They have received the Holy Spirit just as we have."

-Acts 10:46-47

Jesus answered him [the unbaptized criminal hanging next to him], "I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise."

-Luke 23:43
7. where do they come up with the false doctrine that the 10 commandments are still in force today? Not from the bible!!!
Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

-Matthew 5:17-19
8. where do they come up with the doctrine that it does not matter what you believe, as long as you believe in Jesus? Not from the bible!!!
I wouldn't characterize this as true, but Jesus is what really matters:

Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

-John 14:6
9. where do they come up with the use of instramentle music in worship service? Not from the bible!!!
David and the whole house of Israel were celebrating with all their might before the LORD, with songs and with harps, lyres, tambourines, sistrums and cymbals.

-2 Samuel 6:5

I know I know, it ain't piano and organ.
10. Where do they come up with the false doctrine of chiors in worship service? Not from the bible!!!!
Choral worship is not a doctrine. It is a tradition. Unfortunately congregations are being torn apart by things like worship style right now.
Can you see friend that the baptist religion is not from God, and if it is not from God it must be from the devil!!!! It is a Cult!!! Follow them and Go to hell.
I'll go to hell if you go to there first. And the horse you road in on. Seriously, I can't imagine the quality of your website (who's URL I shall not post) if your scholarship is so poor that anyone can rebut it with a simple search on Bible Gateway. This whole post took me less than an hour of research, mostly because I was stupid and had to write most of this post twice.

UPDATE: The whole John the Baptist thing is related to Landmarkism. It is mentioned in the Wikipedia article on Baptists (which means it must be true right?) Essentially some Baptist churches, especially in the 19th century, claimed seperate descent back to the first century church independent of the Catholic/Orthodox Church.

Fun: Get Fuzzy

Ah mocking roleplayers. Priceless.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Wheels: Ok, Tracks

Today is the 90th anniversary of the first use of the tank in combat. On September 15, 1916, 49 British Mark I tanks were used in the Battle of the Somme. Well, actually 21 were used since the other 28 had already broken down before the battle began.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Fun: Today's Trivia

Which is heavier, an ounce of gold or an ounce of feathers?

Which is heavier, a pound of gold or a pound of feathers?

Answers are in the comments.

Family: Catnip

So we have two bags of the stuff at home now. Various cat products came with it. But, being from a dog family, I had no idea how the plant works. I really didn't want to come back from work to find the cat wearing tie-die, looking to me for some munchies and a fresh hit.

I was going to say "fix" but I doubt a cat would ever really ask for that.

So I checked Wikipedia. Turns out catnip is mostly harmless and triggers some sort of instinctual sexual-olfactory response. Most cats really like it, although the magnitude of the response has to do with genetics so every cat doesn't have the same reaction. Fortuneately this particular wikipedia articles seems to be cribbed from somewhere else, so it should be pretty trustworthy.

On a different cat tangent, he woke me up at 4:30 today which is a heck of a lot better than 2:30 like yesterday. At least this way I got about six hours of good sleep. He seems to wake me up when he's hungry and wants food, so we'll try adjusting his feedings and the amount of dry food we leave out for him overnight. When Amy and I said we wanted a cat to help prepare us for parenthood, we didn't mean by waking us up several times over the course of a night.

UPDATE: Oh and Milo's flea problems seem to be much better. We need to vacuum the carpets, but I flea combed him last night and I didn't find anything. Tuesday night I did the same thing and found five fleas. I'm guessing the stuff on the back of his neck (which also treats the ear mites) also got most of the fleas. We're going to continue keeping an eye on him just in case.

Wheels: Thats a Truck Alright

This is what happens when you mount a Peterbilt cab and sheet metal on a Dodge Ram 1500 frame. It looks pretty good to me, actually. The funny thing is that this monster is actually lighter than the stock Ram, because all the big rig parts are aluminum instead of steel. The driver train is stock and he gets 20 mpg out of the 380 horsepower Cummins common rail diesel.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Political Fun: Innovative Torture Techniques

Responding to Bill O'Reilly's accusations that playing the Red Hot Chili Peppers for detainees is cruel and unusual punishment, GOP Vixen suggests some more appropriate options like Celine Dion or a fashion makeover from the Queer Eye guys.

Fun: Gabe Channels Amybear

I think I finally broke Amybear of this habit a while back. But I can't swear to it.

UPDATE: Sorry about that, I linked to the September 11th comic, not the 13th. Fixed now.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Family: More Cat Stuff

Amybear took Milo to the vet yesterday. He has ear mites and was behind on some shots. They wanted to deworm him again as well, just to be safe.

The ear mites are annoying because not only is he getting medicine once a month, but we (meaning mostly Amybear because I was at work) had to clean everything the cat might have left mites upon lest he reinfect himself. And now we have to periodically clean out mite debris from his ears. And cats just love having people poke around in their ears, let me tell you.

So Milo was not a happy camper when I came home yesterday. And he remained an unhappy camper until after Amybear and I went to bed. He seemed happier when he woke us up at 3am though. We're going to have to do something about that.

Oh and the vet suggested we not leave dry foot out for him to eat 24-7. Instead we should put food down and take it up if he doesn't eat it. This will teach him to eat what he is given when he is given it. It is also contrary to everything I have ever heard about feeding cats dry food (to leave it down and let him eat at his leisure). Of course we are controlling the amount of dry food he eats in a day to prevent him getting fat.

UPDATE: Well we gave him a laser pointer workout last night, but he still woke me up at 2 am. I also found some fleas on him last night. Joy. The good news is that his ear mite medicine should also kill off the fleas. If this pest problem continues we may just damn our flea collar concerns and put a collar on him anyway.

Guns: My Hero

When Arthur Winters saw two armed robbers terrorizing his neighborhood, he did the only thing he could think of: He asked his wife to bring him his AK-47.

"I had to get it to protect my family and the neighbors and all that," Winters said.
I want to live next door to that man. Unfortunately they only make them like that in Texas.

To bring my gun news up to date, I took my AR-15 and he took his newly reconditioned Mauser Broomhandle. Once again, I forgot to bring stuff. In this case it was targets and the milspec zeroing instructions for an AR-15. Fortunately my brother remembered targets and I remembered most of the zeroing instructions. Unfortunately "most" wasn't enough.

I came out better in the functional testing. The broomhandle wasn't especially reliable and more importantly the front sight started to walk off the barrel. The solder job didn't hold. My brother was quite annoyed. My AR fed flawless from all magazines and I didn't have any hickups.

Unfortunately I got the zeroing wrong so I'll have to redo it. My gun's rear sight isn't exactly milspec. It is set up in "half-clicks" not "clicks." So while I was shooting at 25 meters and was one click up from bottom, I should have been two clicks up. If I had been smart, I would have noticed where the "Z" was on the dial for the "zero" location. I also need to make sure the carry handle is tightened down well. When I got home one of the screws was loose. Either it was never tight or it had walked. Which means my sights might be anywhere. Oh well I'll have fun zeroing it again later.

Cleaning the gun wasn't the horror story I had always heard. There was a lot less debris than in a typical rimfire rifle for instance. Hopefully that doesn't mean I missed a lot of debris somewhere.

Politics: Delaware Primary Day

Remember folks, today is primary day in Delaware. I'm going to stop by my polling place when I get home tonight. Initial reports indicate that turnout is pretty low.

Monday, September 11, 2006

God: Denying the Faith

Did you know that most cops and armed security guards are horrible with guns? Many soldiers unfortunately aren't much better. These people carry guns all the time, but rarely shoot or maintain them. Cops often only shoot once or twice a year around proficiency qualifications. In contrast, I've never worn a gun in my life and I go shooting once or twice a month.

Let me tell you a story from a police firearms instructor. His job is to give the proficiency qualifications to the street cops. Well one brash officer comes in, shoots his course of fire, and fails his requalification. He responds by saying "Well that is only because I'm on a range. Out in the real world, I could really do it if I had to..."

Now the instructor knows that range shooting is actually much easier than defensive shooting. Paper targets don't move and don't shoot back. You don't have adrenaline fight-or-flight response screwing up your fine motor skills. "Fine," the instructor says "now you have to. If you don't pass this one, I'll revoke your firearms qualification." The cop pulls his chin off the floor, reshoots, fails again, and drives a desk while he improves his pistolcraft until he can qualify.

Where am I going with this? This excellent post at Physics Geek, Jesus Freak is where I am going (and you should go too.) In a reaction to Fox News reporters gunpoint conversion to Islam, a talk show host had this to say:
This is not the test! This is not the test! Some crazy guy holds a gun to your head and says 'convert or die'? That's not the test of faith God wants! God knows what's in your heart! What good does it do God if you're dead?
Physics Geek points out that a choice between martyrdom and renouncing Christ is, in fact, one of the classic tests of faith. The talk show host is just like the brash cop in the previous story. God knows I can do it in real life! What good will my martyrdom do anyone?

Perhaps, but perhaps this person really doesn't know himself. If you aren't willing to consider dying for the God you worship, the God who died for you, are you really capable of living for him? Or are you just a cop walking around with a rusted revolver he couldn't shoot if he wanted to?

I don't know which I am. I hope and pray I never have to really find out the hard way like those reporters did.

Fun: Architectural Predilections

Ok, so I really like the "silo" that Chatham financial has on their new headquarters. Were I to design my home, I really want a similar tower feature. Why?
  • It is a unique look found on many older home styles that just hasn't come across to more modern architecture.
  • It is a great sniper post for the inevitable zombie apocalypse. Mabel and I could take out veritable horde of shambling undead brain afficianadoes from up there.
  • It would make for easy roof access so I could clean the gutters and do other house maintenance without having to haul a big ladder around.
  • I could send the kids or cat to the tower if they've been bad.
  • Or I could hide from the wife there if she's really mad.
  • Dilbert's Ultimate House had one and I plan to stealborrow a lot of his ideas.
This isn't to say that I want to live in a gothic castle or something. I don't. But I think a tower could be incorporated into a modern house in very interesting ways.

One of these days I need to work on designing a house for myself. It think it would be a really cool way to keep my brain occupied in boring meetings.

Politics: Packing Pistols

I heard this story listening to Preston and Steve on my way to work this morning, but Anna Venger also mentioned it.

A guy tries to mug a wheelchair bound woman in Harlem. She is on her way to a local shooting range. Bad timing. She shoots him with her .357 magnum. In the elbow. Looks, like she really needed that range trip after all.

God: Mundane Miracles

Joe Cathey is showing off his newborn son Andrew along with Joe's questionable fashion sense. Congrats Joe!

Blogging: That's Why They Call Them Beta

According to Mitchell Lewis, the Blogger Beta is not all it's cracked up to be. Which is a shame because labels and heirarchical archive listings are things I really want.

I've been on Blogger for over two years now. For the first few months, Blogger regularly ate posts and spontanteously stopped working. It hasn't really done that for over a year. It sounds like Blogger Beta takes us back to the bad ole days of blogger. It's blogger so eventually they'll get it right.

Via John the Methodist.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Blogging: Cat Blogging Will Now Commense

Milo is settling in well:

He's acting like a normal cat:

And has made himself comfortable:

So far so good. We set up the usual cat items when we got home last night. Unfortunately we set them up in the master bathroom, which he doesn't seem to like. They're near our walk-in closet now and he's using them normally. He ate his food this morning and has already used the litter box so all is well.

Now hopefully waking us up at 3:30 am by sitting on our faces will not become a regular event.

Friday, September 08, 2006

God and Politics: The Left's God Problem

Robert Parham's essay on why the left is still losing ground with people of faith is quite excellent. The left embraces faith in much the same way the embrace minorities. With soundbites and scaremongering. That might be enough to keep voters you already have, but it isn't enough to get voters you don't.

Bruce Prescott, an Oklahoma Baptist and voting Democrat, has this to say:
Few Democrats that I know are concerned about preserving liberty of conscience for persons of minority faith, they are primarily concerned about preserving votes for their next election.
Republicans are certainly guilty of the preserving votes phenomenon too, especially in the last few years. But I'd like to see American government take a leading role in advocating for religious rights, especially on the international scene. I think either party would do well if they advocate for it.

UPDATE: Michael asked my thoughts about Faithful Democrats. Well I definitely prefer them to the athiest variety. But while I may share my faith in God with them, I doubt I share their likely faith in government. I would much rather have a small government that empowers citizens to perform good works instead of a large government that empowers itself to perform good works at the expense of its citizens.

My sister and brother-in-law are most likely faithful democrats. They go to church regularly. But in terms of practical values, I probably share more with athiests like Kim and Connie du Toit than I do with them. Which is a shame, but unfortunately no less true.

Fun: Kitty Time

We'll be picking up our kitty tonight at 6 at the Brandywine PetSmart. Amybear is the winner of the name the kitty contest with "Milo." She has the story behind the name on her blog.

UPDATE: Yes Amybear is married to the contest judge. I guess life just isn't fair in love, war, and kitty naming contests with unspecified prizes.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Politics: Good Politics and Good Policy

Newt Gingrich seems to have a pretty good 11 point plan for Republicans to run on in November. Now if only they had the spine to do it.

Via Kim du Toit.

God: Time Discipline

As always, Steve is giving good advice:
I sketched out a personal time budget tonight. I needed to see for myself how thin my margins are and make sure I'm not spending my energy in such a way that I am depleting my personal capital.
Why yes he does work in finance, how did you know?

Some people tend to be too busy. My mother is like this. She volunteered for a lot of activities because they need to be done. But of course they don't need to be done by her. While I was in college she kept herself almost crazy busy for several years. She wore herself down in the process and it seemed like she never had anything finished. Recently she has cut back a lot partly because she is getting a little older but mostly because my grandparents are getting a lot older. She wants to visit them a lot more which means she can do a lot less in other places. A time budget would probably show her that she is generally doing too much.

I'm probably on the opposite end of the spectrum. When I get home from work I want to sit on my rump, snuggle with my wife, eat some dinner, and watch TV. I'm not that interested in doing things as a general rule. For guys like me a good time budget would probably show me how much more I could be doing without sacrificing anything meaningful.

In any case, this kind of activity can't really hurt anybody.

God: Prayer for Joe's Growing Family

As I type, Joe Cathey's wife Nancy will be giving birth to their second child. She was scheduled to be induced at 8:30 EST. Prayers are always appropriate.

UPDATE: Actually I got that wrong, she was due to be induced yesterday. No word from Joe yet though.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Politics: Marriage Amendments

Instapundit agreed with this article by Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson. To put it bluntly I think the article is crap. I was going to give the article a thorough fisking, but frankly I don't have the time. There is just too much wrong with it. Here are a few highlights:
  • Wilkinson suggests that ordinary legislation will suffice to settle this issue. Since he already admits that the Massachusetts Supreme Court invented state constitutional rights in their ruling, obviously this is not the case. Only a state constitutional amendment will settle the issue.
  • Wilkinson states that a constitutional amendment (state or federal) will "shackle future generations" to this policy. Remember Prohibition? Well no probably not, it was repealed before most of us were born. Hey wasn't that a constitutional amendment?
  • He states that constitutions are not the place to enact policies. Except for things like the Federal budget cycle and many other important policy considerations which are in the US Constitution.
  • He states that the Federal Marriage Amendment is giving the states "constitution fever." Actually the FMA is going nowhere, but Massachusetts pointed out that state amendments are necessary to prevent local abuses of power. They are cropping up everywhere because of checks and balances not a few conservatives.
I really really really expect better from a Federal judge.

Wheels: The New Swift Sport

The "high performance" Suzuki Swift Sport is featured in a World Car Fans article. I'm pretty excited about this car, provided I could actually fit into the drivers seat. It is passably quick, great in the corners, and gets good fuel economy. Think of something like a Mini Cooper, but lighter by several hundred pounds and about ten thousand dollars. Sounds pretty good to me. Suzuki is talking about bringing the car to US shores the 2007 to 2008 timeframe.

Via Autoblog.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Fun: Cat Names

I mentioned that Amy and I will probably be adopting an orange tabby soon. His name is "Skippy" and he's about 1 to 2 years old. Not a kitten, but still a kitty. Amy and I don't like his name very much. We have a few alternatives like "Dexter", "Ginger," "Loki," and "Gizmo." If you have a preference or a suggestion, go ahead and make it in the comments. Oh and while he is an orange tabby we won't be naming him Garfield or Heathcliff.

God: Paying the Pastorate

John the Methodist asks:
What do you think? What should be the basis of pastoral compensation?
The conversation over there is worth the read, but one aspect that hasn't been brought up much yet is scripture. The bible actually has something to say on this very subject in 1 Corinthians 9:
Don't we have the right to food and drink? Don't we have the right to take a believing wife along with us, as do the other apostles and the Lord's brothers and Cephas? Or is it only I and Barnabas who must work for a living?

Who serves as a soldier at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard and does not eat of its grapes? Who tends a flock and does not drink of the milk? Do I say this merely from a human point of view? Doesn't the Law say the same thing? For it is written in the Law of Moses: "Do not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain." Is it about oxen that God is concerned? Surely he says this for us, doesn't he? Yes, this was written for us, because when the plowman plows and the thresher threshes, they ought to do so in the hope of sharing in the harvest. If we have sown spiritual seed among you, is it too much if we reap a material harvest from you? If others have this right of support from you, shouldn't we have it all the more?
Paul goes on to discuss how he and Barnabas foreswore compensation from the Corinthian church, instead they worked themselves in order to pay their own way and further serve that church. But it is the minister who can refuse payment, not the ministry which can refuse to pay.

Pastoral compensation is a pretty tricky subject. While the pastoral staff at my church seems to earn their keep, we also seem to be picking up full-time non-pastoral staff right and left. And those folks are often in much more of a gray area of effectiveness. Other churches have pastors who are overburdening the (often shrinking) congregation with their high salaries. But they are very respected ministers in the denomination, I assure you.

So it's a tricky subject and I don't have an easy answer. Since I prefer congregational church government, I'd like to see the individual churches hammer this out for themselves on a case by case basis. I doubt the Methodist church has that option since ministers are almost certainly paid by the denomination and not the individual church.

Blogging: In the News

Delaware blogging was covered in yesterday's News Journal, Paul Smith represented the DCBA and did it well. The conclusion worries me though:
Scott, of "Delaware Liberal," is ready for that new era to begin.

"I'm waiting on the edge of my seat for Castle's announcement speech, because I'm going to pull that thing apart," he said.
He must be a liberal if Mike the Megamoderate Castle is too far to the right for him. The only difference between Castle and Tom Carper is the letter next to his name.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Fun: Kitty Cats

It looks like Amy and I will soon be adopting a cat. We think that this should work better than a dog, because cats are more self sufficient and don't need facilities, like a fenced in yard, that we don't have.

Amy had a cat when she was younger. I've never had one, so this will really be a learning experience for me.

Not So Fun: Steve Irwin, Dead at 44

Amybear and I have enjoyed his various antics and television series for a long time. Sure he seemed suicidal, but I always had a certain sense that he knew what he was doing and I didn't. Now he's gone, killed because he swam too close to a sting ray on Austrailia's Great Barrier Reef. He left behind his wife Terri, an 8 year-old daughter, and a 3 year-old son. We'll miss you Steve.

Via Physics Geek, Jesus Freak.

Friday, September 01, 2006

God: Jesus is the Answer

But what is the question? According to Jared at Thinklings, you just have to pick a question. Any question.
I donĂ‚’t believe in this day and age the Church can stress enough that the "point" of Christianity is Jesus himself. The point of Scripture, the point of prayer, the point of faith - all Jesus.
I can understand where Jared is coming from. Jesus is the most important, most significant, and most unique figure in our religion and our faith. He is what sets us apart from everyone else. When we lose sight of him we suffer. To the extent that Jared talks about the Gospels, he still has it right.
Here is my guiding principle for reading the Gospels: The point is Jesus. Every saying, every story - Jesus. If the main point you're getting out of the story doesn'’t center squarely on Jesus, I respectfully suggest your aim is off.
Yes the Gospels are all about Jesus. They are his biographies after all. But I have a real problem with this whole all Jesus and nothing else philosophy. For instance Acts is all about the Holy Spirit. If you leave out the Holy Spirit, you miss the point. Large parts of the Old Testament are all about the power of the Father.

God in each of his three beings is ultimately what we, as Christians, should care about. Jesus is so important because he allows us to reconnect to God and is God. He is the Way to God, but he is not the entirety of God. Which is why I have a problem with that philosophy. It seems like you are leaving out two thirds of the story.

Let me illustrate. Think about the Golden Gate Bridge. It is gorgeous. The American Society of Civil Engineers proclaimed it a Wonder of the World. It is perhaps the most photographed bridge in the world and ultimately many of us have only seen pictures of it. But ultimately, it wasn't constructed to be in pictures. It wasn't built to be the symbol of San Francisco. It was built to bridge opening of the San Francisco Bay from the city in the South to Marin County in the North.

Jesus is like the Golden Gate Bridge. He is the Wonder of the Universe. He is the central figure of all Christianity and the symbol of our faith. People come to Christianity just to get to see Jesus. But in the end he is so important because he is the reconciler and redeemer. He is the final sacrifice. He is the bridge through whom Christians gain access to the Spirit and the Father in a deep and personal way. I think if you asked Christ what made him so special, he would have pointed to the Father.

Ultimately making everything about Jesus is not a good idea. It is about losing sight of the Spirit and the Father. It is about sacrificing meaning not creating it. I cannot worship the Prince of Peace so deeply that I lose sight of his father the King. After all, he came to me solely to make the introduction.

Politics: Detainees and the Geneva Conventions

John the Methodist is discussing the legal nature of detainees. While I agree with his interpretation, unfortunately the Supreme Court did not. I would like to bring up one of his points:
...they argued that the Geneva Conventions class people in only two ways: prisoners of war and civilians. There is no such thing as an 'unlawful combatant' -- a term that never appears in the text of the Geneva Conventions. Captured terrorists are actually civilians.
I have heard this rhetoric before and I would like to expose it's half-truthfulness. The half-truth is that the Geneva Conventions do not use the term unlawful combatant. That is true. The half-lie is that under the Geneva Conventions an individual can only fall into one of two groups, "prisoner of war" or "civilian."

The way the conventions actually work is that, out of the entire population within a warzone, it creates two protected groups. These are "prisoners of war" who are former "combatants" and "civilians" who were not "combatants." These groups are mutually exclusive, so you can't be in both. However it doesn't divide the population into one of those two groups. They are not all-encompassing, so that you can be in neither. If you do not meet the definition of a "prisoner of war" or a "civilian" then you are simply not protected by the Geneva Conventions at all.

By unlawful combatant, the administration is essentially saying that these detainees are in the "neither" group. They are fighting and therefore they are not "civilians." They are non-uniformed irregular combatants who blend in with the civilian population and therefore they are not "prisoners of war." Therefore they are simply not protected. These rules were changed significantly by Protocol I, Section III, Article 44 which is an amendment to the Geneva Conventions. The USA has not ratified Protocol I and so they are non-binding on the US.

The Geneva Conventions were deliberately written to exclude people in this way. Russia used this loophole to crush dissent across most of Eastern Europe after WWII. No one wanted to grant unaligned irregular forces any international rights or protections for obvious reasons. Nations treat unprotected groups however they see fit within the structure of their own laws. Which is how we should be dealing with them, by creating our own laws not by inventing things out of thin air or fat heads.

Guns: Why I Support Israel

Hot female Israeli soldiers. Jewish women are both beautiful and dangerous, a fact which is not lost on me. After all I married one. And pretty Jewish girls with guns? Hey even better.

A lot of pictures show these femme fatales with their rifles which I found especially interesting. It looks the Israeli M-16s all use A1 sights. Some of their guns are definitely A1s, at least they have the triangular handguards of A1s. But their A2s and M4s also use A1 sights.

I always considered the A2 sight superior to the A1, I wonder why they didn't switch? Perhaps it has to do with standardized training their troops or arsenal refinishing older rifles into newer variants.

Fun: Kitchen Myths

Rob has a link to mythbusting legends of cooking and the kitchen. Among other things, they reveal that searing does not seal in juices and that alcohol used in cooking does not entirely (or even mostly) evaporate.