Thursday, June 30, 2005

Church and State

Volokh Conspirator Jim Lindgren has posted a short discussion on the original intentions of the establishment clause in the US constitution.
As University of Chicago legal historian, Philip Hamburger, has shown in his history of the Separation of Church and State, none of the major framers favored Separation until about the election of 1800, when the Jeffersonians urged Separation to silence Northern clergy. Indeed, in the 1780s some religious leaders who were accused of wanting Separation denied such a misreading of their position. In the 1780s and early 1790s, a few religious dissenters favored Separation, but none of the insiders--certainly not Madison.

What Madison wanted in the 1780s was disestablishment of religion and equal liberty for different religions, not a "wall of separation."
Let me just add a little something. Most people know that the phrase "separation of church and state" is not in the Constitution. It was originally used by Thomas Jefferson in order to placate Northern clergy in his run for the Presidency. In its original useage, "the wall of separation between church and state" was there to protect the church from the state not the other way around.

Another point is that when the constitution and founding fathers use words like "establishment" and "disestablishment" in relation to religion, they are talking about setting up or tearing down an official state church. They are not talking about scrubbing religious life from the public square completely or establishing what is essentially an athiest state. I'm willing to bet they thought the public dialogue of a democratic state should be representative of the political, moral, and religious values of its people.

I think the original meaning of both these phrases has unfortunately been lost.

New WTC Tower

Well people are bashing the new design for the freedom tower at the World Trade Center.
Great skyscrapers, especially in this city of party-hat towers, meet the sky and the ground with unforgettable aesthetic flourish. But the redesigned Freedom Tower at ground zero, which likely will be the nation's tallest skyscraper and surely will be its most heavily fortified, falls short of the towering standard set by the exuberant Chrysler Building and its more dignified skyline partner, the Empire State Building.
I see this as a good sign. The same people were saying the same thing about the original twin towers.

Blogging Tone

Orin Kerr is blogging about the written tone of "persuasive" arguments in the blogosphere.

I often struggle with tone. I have a fairly dry wit. I even alluded to it in the second ever post on this blog. Quite often I read as dismissive or kurt, when actually I intend to be ironic or sarcastic. I suppose it is my cross to bear in written communications.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Poetic Justice

A New Hampshire land developer is using the recent Kelo decision to seize Justice David Souter's home by eminent domain. He intends to build a hotel/resort on the land which will commemorate the loss of property rights in America. Via Short Attention Span.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

I Will Worship

Izzy was talking to me about arguments over worship at his church. He would like to see the church grow by switching one of their two services over to a more contemporary style. This has met with the usual resistance from the revered elders who have gone as far as saying things like "do we really want to grow by adopting the music of the World?" The old folks won. Yeah. I think he and his singles group (which is the sole reason he attends this particular residence of the Lord) should look towards migrating to another more flexible establishment. Frankly I don't think the "conforming to the image of the world" comment has much merit as it relates to worship.

This isn't to say that the desire to make worship styles distinct from secular music is unbiblical. It is actually quite biblical. Did you know that the Jewish Tabernacle had a distinct scent? Read the end of Exodus 30. The incense and perfume used to worship the Lord was only made for that purpose. Making and using it for any other reason would result in those people being cut off from the nation of Israel. "Cutting off from the nation of Israel" meaning thrown out of camp and left to starve to death in the desert. Ouch. So there is a biblical basis there, although I more of a "to the Greeks I became as the Greeks" guy myself.

No my real problem is that contemporary Christian worship music can't really be called "of the world." When was the last time you hear a secular album recorded in the Vineyard/Maranatha Praise Band style? I mean really? I suppose there are some folksy groups out there that are similar, but in reality this sort of thing died out of the mainstream by the end of the seventies. This is part of the reason I don't enjoy it and prefer a more traditional service. If I want contemporary I want something that rocks. I don't want a worship style based on Peter, Paul, and Mary unless we're actually talking about the Apostles. Some of the criticisms of folk even carry over, allow me to paraphrase Tom Lehrer:
The large number of verses being a feature expressly designed to please the true devotees of the folkworship song who seem to find singing fifty verses of On Top Of Old SmokeyLight the Fire Again is twice as enjoyableholy as singing twenty-five.
It isn't just the style of music that bothers me, it is the maturity of the music. There is a lot of me me me in modern worship music. Give me this God, make me that God. It just seems so very teenage to me. It honestly remind me of the Hippy Jamfest episode of South Park. In this episode the town is infested with hippies (literally) who start a concert series where they listen to hippy music, smoke weed, talk about the Man and how they're going to change the world, but never actually do anything. It seems to me many worship services are like that, only without the pot. Lord fill me up with your Spirit. Lift me up into your presence. So I can go work tomorrow, act just like everybody else, not do anything spiritually, and then ask for the same thing next Sunday. It is the revival mentality without the tent.

Now compare these to some of the old hymns and their writers which tend to be about God. A Mighty Fortress is Our God was written by Martin Luther. Amazing Grace was written by John Newton. His mother died before he was ten and he spent most of his early years on various sailing vessels. He was whipped after trying to get out of impressment in His Majesties Navy. He was such a pathetic wretch when he fell overboard while captain of a slave ship, his crew pulled back onto the ship by harpooning him. Finally he came back to God after almost being sunk in a horrible storm. This was a man who knew grace. Similarly, It is Well with my Soul was written by Horatio Spafford on the site of where his four daughters had died at sea in an horrible accident. This was after he had lost his son to scarlet fever and much of his money in the Great Chicago Fire. He was a man who knew loss.

For the record, my own church has four services. The same sermon is preached at each and the only difference is worship style. We have a typical Christian contemporary service with a praise band and ensemble at 8:30am, two more traditional services with a organ/piano/hymns/choir at 10 and 11, and an evening service which is artsy fartsy with a more edgy praise band and the occasional interpretive dance at 6pm. This last "bohemian" service is being held at a nearby park for the duration of the summer. I got to the 11 o'clock and am probably one of the few people of my generation who attends it.

Interesting Resume

I don't think I'll have this guy do Amybear's though.

New Fuel Economy Record

Two Austrialians have set a new fuel economy record in a stock turbo-diesel Peugeot. They drove from Darwin to Adelaide with a final a fuel economy of around 75 mpg. How did they do this? Judging from their economy tips, it was by making driving a completely joyless experience...

Joan by the Numbers

Joan has been doing some great writing over at Seven Inches of Sense. Her commentary on the sorry state of college children seems to be about right to me. Thankfully engineering does have a tendency to weed out the idiots from my classes. However, a quick drive around campus shows me that there a lot of people in college who aren't bright enough to get out of the rain or not step out in front of a moving vehicle.

Her post on blogging is also a good read. I particularly like this section:
I've been a Literature/Philosophy/Theology student for a lot of years and a firm grasp of the English language is kinda mandatory in that field. But I don't feel the need to make myself unreadable to the average person just because I could. I'd rather make everyone feel included rather than exclude otherwise intelligent people because their vocabulary might be a little weaker than mine.
I've mentioned this before, but want my writing to be both intelligent and intelligible. It's something I struggle with because of the nose dive my language skills took studying engineering for 7 seven years. I've been told I write well for an engineer by some English majors. I guess that's a compliment. I mean I've seen how some of my colleagues write and its kind of like saying you are the most normal freak in the sideshow.

UPDATE: It appears that Jimmy, Joan's military man, hasn't been calling is that he's hurt. Prayers are welcome.


Kim du Toit has this John Adams quote up:
The moment the idea is admitted into society that property is not as sacred as the laws of God, and that there is not a force of law and public justice to protect it, anarchy and tyranny commence.
Frankly I don't think that property is held any less sacred than the laws of God these days. Neither are really revered. It reminds me of the definition of the unjust judge from Luke 18:
In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared about men. And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, 'Grant me justice against my adversary.'

"For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, 'Even though I don't fear God or care about men, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won't eventually wear me out with her coming!'
It is probably unfair to say that modern judges are making decisions based purely on the persistance of lawyers, but it is probably fair to say that they don't really consider the arguments of God or the rights of men.

For the record I really don't have a problem with eminent domain in the abstract. Where I grew up, we would drive by acre upon acre of weed farms on the way to church every week. They had been that way for as long as I can remember, unused and underdeveloped. Finally as suburbia slowly encroached upon them, the local governments started eminent domaining portions away for use as schools or municipal utilities. Water towers sprang up on the corners of lots. I assume that the owners were paid a fair price for their unused dirt farms. With the current housing boom, most of those that didn't fall to eminent domain are becoming new subdivisions under the guidance of developers trying to cash in.

My problem is that the Kelo decision is not about this sort of eminent domain. The Kelo decision was about seizing the homes of a bunch of working class people in order to pave them over and put up a Walmart. It is not unprecedented. Remember the World Trade Center? Did you know that it was built on the site an electronics mercantile district in lower Manhattan? It was seized by eminent domain too, although under the guise of a pseudo-government agency. They fought in court and lost as well.

There is a silver lining with Kelo though. A lot of people on both sides of the political aisle are pissed about it. And the liberal judges are on the wrong side of the case. If anything it may get more conservative judges put on the Supreme Court and that would be a good thing.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Bad Sequels

Amybear and I rented two movies this weekend. The first was Miss Congeniality 2 and the second was House of Flying Daggers.

To do this backwards, House of Flying Daggers was quite good. The action was excellent and the plot had sufficient twists to keep things interesting. It is meant for those hardy enthusiasts among us who don't mind subtitles though. I like a good dub job myself (subtitles distract from the visual for me), but I still enjoyed the film. I liked Hero, Zhang Yimou's other movie, better but House of Flying Daggers is still very good.

The original Miss Congeniality is a pretty good movie. Miss Congeniality 2 was not. It wasn't just a bad movie, it was one of those bad sequels that ruins the original in the first five minutes. MC1 concludes with Gracie Hart saving the day and getting the boy. Yeah thats a spoiler, but Miss Congeniality isn't exactly an unpredictable ride of wild plot twists. MC2 picks up only days after the end of the first film with heroine Gracie Hart getting dumped by the boy on the phone mostly because Benjamin Bratt isn't in this sequel. Bratt is smarter than I thought. A few minutes later, the people she saved in the last movie are in jeopardy all over again. Remember when Aliens 3 killed off everyone that survived Aliens 2 in the first few minutes of that stinker? Yeah, it's like that only marginally funnier.

The rest of the movie is a crappy female buddy-cop film with no hint of the romantic comedy that made the original so good. When I mean crappy I mean crappy. Arrogant two-dimensional boss who won't listen to her for no good reason? Check. Grumpy partner that prefers to work alone? Check. Getting stripped of her badge and sent home? Check.

Anyway skip it. Don't just skip it, blot its mere existence from your mind so you can properly enjoy the first one.

Pistol Mouse

I gotta get me one of these. Well maybe not.

Friday, June 24, 2005

Microchip Inventor Dies

Jack Kilby, the inventor of the first integrated circuit, is dead at age 81. He is the Gutenberg of the digital age. Via Gizmag

Thursday, June 23, 2005

What Pisses You Off?

*looks at the current world's population* You must have a lot of frustration then.

What pisses you off? Created by ptocheia


Starbucks Logos

Ever wonder what their logo meant? Its a mermaid, right? Well sort of. Actually its a Siren, a lecherous fishwoman who lures hapless horny sailors to their doom. Michael Dean has more.

Laptop Reliability

I have one, it sits unused in my apartment because parts have gradually broken to the point that it is essentially unusable. The DVD drive doesn't work, the battery doesn't work etc. It's a Dell. Instapundit is reporting that Jeff Jarvis is having trouble with his Dell but the Blogfather's Dell desktop is wonderful.

Laptops are neat pieces of tech. Lots of components are crammed into a small space. That is their blessing and their curse especially as processor speeds have increased and CPU temperatures have done the same. It is my belief that laptops are one of those technologies that will break, usually before they move into obsolescence. The breakage will usually occur before you can really part with them. My dell went through 3 screens and two keyboards while under the three year warranty. I used it a lot, the CPU got hot and this tended to wear out the keyboard and screen components faster. The usual repair time was a week, although once it took a month because Dell was waiting for a parts shipment. Amybear's Toshiba went in for service Monday, also with screen problems. In her case it is probably just a loose connection.

This brings me to my point: if you are going to buy a laptop, purchase the extended warranty. Something will break and unlike a desktop, you probably won't want to fix it yourself even if you could get the (generally proprietary) components. You probably don't need the more expensive "we will come to you" service plan though. Jeff Jarvis's experience says that home service probably won't reduce the repair time in the (likely) case they don't have the parts.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005


Gizmag is indicating that Suzuki may bring their GSX-R/4 to market. This is a small lightweight open-topped sports car powered by the engine from the Hayabusa superbike. It is an interesting idea, but I don't know if I could make myself buy it.

After talking with Izzy about it, we realized something. Suzuki's motorcycles are pretty damn good. Suzuki's cars are completely forgettable. We think a great idea would be to use this and the larger 1.8 liter sportbike engine to power small sporty cars. They might be able to bring out a Suzuki equivalent to the Mini at a significantly lower price point. We would both like that a lot.

I considered the Mini Cooper when I was buying my last car a few years ago, but there was no way I could justify a spending 25 grand for a car that small.


Instapundit noted a review Mazda3 by Mickey Kaus. The Blogfather drives a Mazda RX8 and his brother drives a Mazda6. I drive a Mazda Protege (the predecessor to the 3) so I suppose I'm in good company.

Mickey makes the point that the 3 isn't the kind of car he would want to own. The model he drove was the 2.3 liter 3s version. It has a sportier suspension and while feels great when you throw it through the turns, more sedate daily driving in the 3 leaves him feeling flat. He suggests that boosting sales could be helped by making it less sporty and more comfy.

For those that don't know, it is difficult to have a car which is both sporty and comfy. Comfy usually involves a suspension setup that won't respond quickly in tight sporty cornering and vice versa. For this reason the Protege came in 3 trim grades, the cheap DX, the more cushy LX, and the sporty ES (which I own). Ok and the Mazdaspeed, but that one is turbo charged and doesn't count.

In comparison the 3 comes in two grades. There is the "i" grade which is cheap, but not that cheap at 15 grand before options. Then there is the "s" which is sporty and even more expensive at 19 grand before options. There is no middle option with the bigger 2.3 engine, but a softer suspension. All are overpriced for the market by at least a grand or two.

That grand gets you a lot though. The interiors on these cars are very very nice. The fit and finish is great and you are getting a car comparable to a BMW 3 series for half the price and twice the reliability. But some people aren't going to care that the car is a bargain, they are going to buy something less that still fits their needs.

Noise Control

Kim du Toit is ranting about shooting range closures. Someone built an elementary school and housing developments too close to a pre-existing gun range. Now it is the range that has to go.

This sort of thing has always pissed me off. This article is looking at a gun range, but it happens all the time with industrial sites as well. My aunt had all kinds of trouble when a housing development was built in earshot of a daiper cleaning service she ran.

What will happen is that the gun range will stay, but its hours will be cut back by the courts so it doesn't bother anyone as much. The range owner will not be compensated for the reduction in his revenue.

Coming to a Family Christian Store Near You...

This is what is wrong with Evangelical Christianity. Yes lets put Bible verses on everything. Lets put them on the bottoms of our feet where we can't possibly see them or read them. That is much holier than, say, giving that money you spend on worthless Christian products to the needy or something.

Via the Manolo.

Good Stuff at Evangelical Outpost

Joe Carter has a lot of good stuff up on Evangelical Outpost. For instance this suggestion for how to construct complicated but rememberable passwords is good. This is important for me because I have to make a ton of these things for work.

He also links to the storyblogging carnival. I've thought about writing some fiction here and posting it on the weekends. I don't get much of my regular traffic on the weekends so I thought about changing formats. I got the idea from radio stations actually. My problem is that I like to spend my weekends away from the computer (and it seems you do too) so maybe not.

This post from a few days ago is about the ubiquitous online denomination and theology quizzes. His flowchart is hilarious. I'm a generic Evangelical, no surprise there.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Couch Potatos? The Eyes Have It

A group of potato farmers are trying to get the term "couch potato" removed from the Oxford English Dictionary. They prefer the term "couch slouch". And in other news, English Potato farmers have way too much time on their hands...

I'm blaming the European Union for this one. Once upon a time this sort of language lunacy was the sole dominion of the French. Now French stupidity has spread across the Channel and invaded the Anglosphere. Weren't the failed referendums supposed to stop this sort of thing?


Messy Christian has decided that she isn't going to stifle her swearing.
Now I am just too apathetic to play the masking game, so I don't even bother hiding my swear words anymore. Sure, I don't swear as much as I used to because I'd rather control myself and not pepper my dialogue with as many "fucks" and "damn yous" just to look cool. I mean, that's sad and lame.

But when I'm angry - which happens far too often these days - I don't bother disguising my language for Christian consumption anymore. Let's call a tulip and tulip, shall we?
I'm with her. I'm of the opinion that if you are going to swear do it seldomly, but make it a good one. I've know people that walk around adding multiple four-letter embellishments to their sentences on a regular basis. Perhaps they think it makes them more mature. In any case, when they really need an invective, they have no way of finding that emotional release. "Fuck" is an amazingly flexible word, but I'd rather make due with only one rather than having to scream multiple forms of it for a full five minutes.

I think it might also be useful to point out the difference between obscenity and profanity. Profanity means you are profaning something, typically God. Most of the now quaint forms of swearing take this form like "Jesus!". Even Geez and Darn are really echoing this sentiment. Profanity is obviously a bad thing as it generally breaks the third commandment. Some forms may actually be calling down a curse, "God dammit!", which is also considered a no-no throughout the bible. Bless and do not curse my brothers and sisters.

On the other hand obscenity is based on the obscene. Most of today's four letter words, like fuck and shit, are actually obscenities. Once upon a time obscenities took a back seat to profanity because people took blasphemy seriously. Now people don't give a damn so we have progressed to obscenity. Obscenity shouldn't be used lightly either though, Paul does tell us not to use "unwholesome talk".

In the end though, while I think we should watch our colorful dialogue, I have a hard time going the Gosh route. It seems false to me and I try my best not to put on masks. In some ways using wussy profanity just bothers my integrity more than if I just stuck with the good stuff.

UPDATE: Kim du Toit, a man of many colorful aphorisms, is going to be cutting out the profanity on his site. This is because he is running a business selling educational software now. His thoughts are:
The swearing will cease. Once again, this is no big deal—I’m a writer, and as I’ve always said to my friends when they’ve critiqued my novels, “You don’t like those words? I’ve got others.” And it’s true. I can say the same thing six different ways, with the identical meaning and passion, so not using bad language means that now I have only five. Big fat hairy deal.
He has a point too.

Politicial Tees

Rush Limbaugh now has Club G'itmo T-shirts. The catchphrases on the back include "Your Tropical Retreat from the Stress of Jihad" and "What Happens in G'itmo Stays in G'itmo". They're only available in institutional orange and I think they're hilarious.

Monday, June 20, 2005

President Biden

Diamond Joe wants to make a run. The problem, well I wrote this about his 1988 candidacy almost a year ago:
Joe Biden didn't fail to weather the plagiarism storm because of the moral compunctions of his party. He failed to weather it because he lacked the standing to be a bankable candidate. Let me demonstrate.

I live in Delaware. When I visit My Girl in North Carolina, people hear me talk, notice my accent (or lack thereof), and ask where I'm from. I tell them that I live in Delaware. They ask what state thats in. This isn't a criticism of the geographic knowledge of North Carolineans. Delawareans get this a lot no matter where we go in the US.

Delaware is a small state with 3 counties and, more importantly for a national political race, 3 electoral votes. We're not exactly New York, California, or Texas. This isn't the place to raise up a major national figure.
Amybear and I saw "Delaware, what state is that in?" on a T-shirt at Hot Topic a few weeks ago. What I said still holds true, Biden is senior senator from a 3 electoral vote state that the Democrats would win anyway. A candidate from someplace larger in the midwest or the south would be a much better choice.

McQ is noting that Biden tests as liberal according to all the major political organizations. That is probably true, but I would wager most Democrats test liberal because of party line politics. On the flip side, most Republicans will be arch-conservatives. The truth is that among Democrats, Biden and the rest of the Democratic Leadership Council are regarded as a pretty conservative group. To the party faithful he looks like a moderate, so he probably won't fare well in the primaries. To the party unfaithful, he looks liberal so he won't fair well in the general elections. That isn't exactly the best of both worlds.

Dating Advice

"You gotta find a good woman. Not too smart, not too dumb. Not too old, not too young. One that can cook and clean."

Then he smiled, made what O'Shea interpreted as a "spanking" gesture, laughed and went back to doing his laundry in the sink.
This bit of dating advice brought to you by Saddam Hussein via the Associated Press. It is unknown whether he has given advice about when to kill your daughters' husbands.


Gizmodo held a contest to find some really good pranks. Some of them were pure jackassery. Rude stuff I would never do to anyone because it may cause injury or property damage. But this one is hilarious. View the video on the prankster's main site.

Christian Graphic Novels

Or as Amy likes to call them, comic books. John says that some of them are pretty good. This is great since as a comics loving guy, I would welcome some christian flavored works.

Unfortunately you'll have a hard time finding copies of some of these. Why? Well they were being put out by Metron Press, the comics book brand backed by the American Bible Society. Notice the "were"? Internal politics at ABS has killed Metron. There is currently a legal scuffle going on between Metron's creative crew and the bigwigs at ABS over who owns the rights.

I'll have to pick some copies of this stuff up wherever I can find it.

Jury Nullification

John has a post up on Jury Nullification.
Rationally, if a jury can behave this way, then it can also return a conviction for an innocent party because it concludes that that person should be locked away anyway. Now that would hardly be justice, would it?

Jury nullification has been used in the past, and not necessarily to good ends. How many all-white juries in the old South premised their verdicts for white and black defendants on skin color?
I have a real problem with this concept too. Statistically, I don't think twelve people is a large enough number to be representative of the people. A statistical sample generally starts with 20 individuals and works up from there. There were far more people represented when that law was made than in any possible jury scenario. I don't like the exception to the rule of law that this represents.

You can't repeal Jury Nullification either. It is common law tradition not written law. However, as a commenter on Locusts and Honey points out, the modern legal system deliberately screens out potential jurors who may use this.

Sunday, June 19, 2005


Joan's first blogiversary was Friday. Happy birthday!

Coincidentally I wrote my first test post on this blog a year ago tomorrow.

Getting Caught Up

Sorry I haven't been posting much.

I went to see Batman Begins with some guys from my bible study on Thursday night. It is quite excellent. Go see it. They take some liberties with the mythos, but the liberties work and they are relatively small compared to previous films.

Previously the only Batman movies I have really enjoyed were Batman: Mask of the Phantasm (it's animated) and the Adam West Batman movie. I really can't stand the Tim Burton films, too stylistic and Gothic. I actually liked Batman Forever because it didn't take itself too seriously, but Joel Schumaker can rot for Batman and Robin.

Friday night I went to a pool party. Except it was only about 70 degree outside so I played sand court volleyball and kept myself out of the water. I shmoozed with the Jewish contingent from church.

Saturday was a work day at my parents. I trimmed hedges. I like trimming hedges for some reason. It lets out my artistic side I suppose. I helped my Dad mow the lawn for the first time in years. I've been helping him mow since before my mother thought I should be allowed to. Finally, we took down a large branch that had broken off one of the trees in the back yard. It was still attacked to the tree by a strip of wood and was caught in the other trees' boughs. Getting it down involved my father and I taking turns climbing a ladder up to about 20 feet above the ground and sawing on the damn thing. Then we had to yank on it until it actually fell free.

I also noticed that one of the other trees was splitting down the middle. This particular tree is next to the deck and the dining room. I showed it to my Dad and then made sure my Mom knew about it too just in case. They're going to call somebody to cut it down and mulch the stump. Its a shame, that was my hammock tree.

My parents paid me for the work with their thanks, ample quantities of ice tea, and a very good bbq pork dinner. The joes were quite sloppy but delicious.

Now off to lead my empire to greatness in Ogame.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Peter F. Hamilton

Instapundit made the mistake of soliciting recommendations for Science Fiction reading. One reader is recommending the works of Peter F. Hamilton. It has been my experience that Hamilton is an author you either love or hate. I am on the hate list, for reasons I will elaborate on further. This person obviously loved him:
His "Night's Dawn" trilogy (The Reality Dysfunction, The Neutronium Alchemist, The Naked God) that's his highest accomplishment. It blends what can only be called a 'fantasy' element into hard SF so plausibly that one only notices the fact that it's a distinct departure from the usual SF fare after the fact. After reading it, one will inevitably end up reading the short story collection "A Second Chance At Eden" (which includes an SF detective story that introduces the Universe in which "Night's Dawn" takes place) just to inhabit that Universe a little while longer.
I read the Reality Disfunction. I did not think it was an especially good book and so I stopped reading the series. I did not find the fantasy elements to be either plausible or un-noticeable. Instead I found them to be intrusive and unbelieveable. I found the science fiction aspects of space travel and technology to be adequate and even interesting, but the entire arc plot left me flat.

Humankind is basically split into two groups in the future:

The Adamists

The Adamists are typical space opera humans. They have normal human vices. They fly around in mechanical ships and they make a lot of use of computers and cybernetics. Adamist colonies run the cultural and technological gamut from low tech by choice to very high tech to taking whatever they can get. Its all pretty normal except for a few cultural notes.

Which notes? Well among other things the entire Christian religion has reunified under the pope. This is a major plot point threaded through the entire work. One major character is a drunken priest. Gee that's not stereotypical or anything. At one point another character questions someone's salvation. Then he has wild promiscuous sex with her.

The Edenists

The Edenists are utopian biotechnologists. They fly around in living ships, live on living space stations, and are genetically engineered with a form of telepathy allows them to communicate with other Edenists and sentient Edenist equipment. When they die their telepathy allows them to transfer their consciousness into their space stations Overmind giving them a level of immortality.

Edenist society is darn near perfect. Oh there is the occassional jealous tiff, but as a rule they have no crime or vices to speak of. How did they accomplish this? Well knowing that they are essentially immortal made all those bad things just up and disappear. Yeah that makes sense.

My Problem

My major problem is that the dichotomy here is completely artificial. Edenist tech exists and it is demonstrably superior to Adamist tech in every way. While it is understandable for Adamists to be squeamish about the whole Overmind hereafter, fundamentally the book makes it clear that Edenist tech isn't inextricably tied to Edenist culture. So why aren't Adamists making use of the acceptable parts? No answer. Plus, the two groups have been around for generations at this point and they are not completely isolated from each other. There should be some mixing of ideas but there isn't.

There are also lots of little annoying details. There are two types of living ships, Voidhawks and the larger Blackhawks. The main difference (other than shape) is that the Blackhawk can FTL jump significantly farther. The problem is that there is no advantage to this. Voidhawks can just jump twice in succession and accomplish the same thing in the same amount of time. So why would you ever bother with a Blackhawk in the first place? Beats me.

And none of this is getting into the arc plot which basicly has satanist criminals exiled to a colony world opening a portal to hell with the accidental help of an alien slug's exploring ghost.

There were just too many screwed up things in the story and the background and everything else for me to establish suspension of disbelief. Sorry.


It can be tough for me. Mostly because by the time I entered 9th grade I could write fairly well. Then I spend the next four years reading what english majors consider to be good books. Most of them were crap and I didn't enjoy most of them in the slightest. We learned literary styles and the like, but we never really learned how to actually improve our writing after that point.

College was horrible. My skills atrophied since all I had to write was lab reports and the occasional email/instant message for four years. Then two more years of it during my masters. I'm surprised I can still put together a complete message.

I bring this up because Joe Carter has a link to 50 writing tools. Before you read them, keep in mind that they are writing tools not writing rules (even though they read like the latter). Writing is communicating and the only way to do it wrong is if your reader can't understand what the hell you are typing about.

Frankly I think the best way to learn writing is to write and then be critiqued by others. Most people don't have degrees in English. Frankly I often wonder if collegate english programs aren't like collegate music programs. Instead of appreciating the writing you only see the structure. I'd rather just fumble around until I find something that works. It's more fun.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Post Modernism

Michael Spencer has a good piece on Postmodernism.

Generally I'm of the opinion that postmodernism isn't the huge threat that people seem to believe it is. Post-modernism is not necessarily an adoption of moral relativism for instance. It is generally simply a rejection of the principles of Modernism. This isn't generally a bad thing since Modernism brough us great theology like the denial of the divinity of Christ and the existence of miracles or the supernatural.

In terms of worldview, I think Christianity will do ok. We'll adapt. Compare this to Atheism which is far more philosophically tied to Modern principles.

Dogs and Lightbulbs

Amybear sent me an email that included this. The entry for the labrador pretty much jives with every lab I've met.

The Stupid Reason

I'm cleaning out my older drafts with this post.

A while back Matthew Yglesias responded to another liberal who was pontificating about capital punishment.
Richard Cohen argues against the death penalty, stating that "the power to take life is too awesome to be given to government." Well, perhaps. ... But the state can make war, and therein regularly holds life and death in the balance.
I agree with Yglesias. "The goverment can't be trusted with life and death" is great rhetoric. It will touch a limited government nerve in Conservatives. Liberals will like it because it gets them what they want. But when you really think about it, this is stupid reason to oppose the death penalty.

What do I mean? Well if the government can't be trusted with the power of life and death then why do we have a military? Thats basicly what they do isn't it? The military kills people and destroy things in defense of us and ours. And operating this efficient killing machine is a core mission of any government.

That not enough? When a federal law enforcement agent comes knocking on your door, do you think they will be armed? Yes. With a deadly weapon? Yes. Do you have a problem with this? Probably not. So you really don't have a problem with equipping an arm of the federal government with the capacity to kill at their own discretion? Well you probably didn't think of it that way, did you? Law enforcement is also a core mission of government, by the way.

A functioning government requires the ability to take human life. This is fundamental to its core processes and the government does these things with significantly lower standards of evidence than modern courts. Usually it requires little more than the perception of an imminent threat.

That is why "the government can't be trusted with life and death" is a stupid reason.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

.32 Winchester Special

Kim du Toit is looking to replace his 1894 Winchester in .32 special. I mention this because it is the same kind of gun my brother inherited from my grandfather this past year. The '94 a nice gun although .30-30 is a more common caliber than .32 special. If he ever points out a Sears 20 gauge that looks the my gun I inherited, I'll let you know.

Unfortunately neither of us has had an opportunity to really shoot them. My brother broke his leg before we could get out to a range. I've put a few rounds through the Sears, but at a pistol range which is much less satisfying than shooting at clays. Maybe I'll do that on my extra day this weekend.

Watch Your Vector Victor!

Michele is pontificating on the importance of Airplane! to western civilization on the 25th anniversary of it's release. She's right too. Airplane is just so amazingly quotable. I can remember sitting around at the bus stop on a foggy morning and having someone say "the fog is getting thicker" someone would immediately bust out "and Leon is getting larger..."

Being a bit of klutz, I also use "I have a drinking problem..." a lot. Usually after the fact.

I remember when that whole Ebonics scandal was going down "Excuse me I'm fluent in Jive..." came up a lot too.

The most vicious gag is "what do you make of this?" I have to stiffen up so I don't spit out "Well it could be a hat or a broach or a pterydactyl..."

All this is the fault of one man: Joe Carr. He would spit out Airplane references incessantly during trips for Science Olympiad and Scott's Hi-Q. Darn him.

Monday, June 13, 2005


Stephen Green has a shot of his golden retreiver going into action. Goldens are nice dogs, but Amy's mom is afraid of dogs so they're probably a little large for us. Amy and I are leaning strongly towards adopting a sheltie after we get married.


Geek with a .45 was at a community shoot this weekend. It was set up over at The Firing Line. There is a picture with many of the attendies on his site. He had this to say:
Now I'm certain that there's plenty of folks who'd look at a picture like the above, populated entirely by people who wanted to be photographed in a group with the most evil looking gun they owned, and be horrified.
I disagree. I've been shooting with a large group of guys before, most of whom had widely varying politics. When group picture time came, everybody got a gun and posed with it. This is what you do at a fun shoot like that. I think the only people who would be intimidated or worried would be those who are truly ignorant.

What bothers me most about gun control is the ignorant make up such a huge part of the support base. Most gun control advocates have never picked up a gun let alone shot one. They don't know how firearms work mechanically. They don't know how the firearms business works financially. They are also completely ignorant of the fundamental rules of gun handling. Gun control politicians love to pose with scary looking guns and brag about how they are keeping you safe. Usually this involves a lot of them pointing potentially-loaded guns at people with their fingers on the triggers while photographers snap pictures.

Sometimes I wonder if someone shouldn't regulate congress such that they cannot propose legislation unless they can demonstrate a rudimentary competency in what they seek to regulate. Call it "gov" control or something.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Personal Finances

I've been considering what I want to do with my money lately. Right now I am in the enviable position of making more than I really want to spend. This is a good place to be, but I have felt that I'm not making the most of it. Money is just piling up in my checking account which, as many know, is not a good place for it to pile. No interest means I'm slowly losing money to inflation.

I've considered my options for a while. A standard saving account is a waste. You are looking at 0.2% interest. More than checking but much much much less than inflation. ING Direct has a savings option that earns about 3% interest. Still not beating inflation, but at least its in the right order of magnitude.

In the end I realize that I have a car loan sitting there earning 5% or so. My current plan is to vastly accelerate my car payments. I'm in the 26th month of a 60 month loan. I think I may be able to pay it off by month 30. Then I will own my car outright and be able to pour that monthly payment money into an ING account and eventually some longer term stuff as well. At some point this will turn into housing downpayment money.

I'm considering the housing market right now and I don't really like what I see. It is a great time to own a house or sell a house. I don't think that it is a good time to buy a house, prices seem incredibly inflated because of interest rates. I'd much rather save and maybe rent at this point. If the housing market has a correction, then being a guy with real money is great. If it doesn't and prices simply plateau (as expected) I'm still not out much money.

If anyone has any thoughts, feel free to express them in the comments.

Oral Hygiene

Did you know you can brush too hard? Well it's true. If your oral hygiene is good, but your gums are receding this is probably your problem.

At my last trip to the dentist, they warned me that my gums were in bad shape and I needed to take care of them more. They suggested I should get an electric toothbrush, floss like hell, and use listerine whenever possible. So I have. Now my gums are receding but healthy. But I now have damnable sensitivity to cold because of all that porous enamel that's exposed.

The only problem is that gums don't grow back. So if this trend continues (I certainly hope not) I'm going to be in real trouble.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Missed Anniversaries

Yes I was off on D-Day by one day. I also missed this celebration of the 100th anniversary of Jules Verne's death by weeks. The elephant puppet looks amazing. Occasionally the French are good at something I guess. Via Gizmodo.

Happy D-Day

Lots of men died so you could celebrate it. Donald Sensing has a post on the costs and risks of D-Day.

Working for the Army, I have had the opportunity to attend several ceremonies commemorating past events. Last year my organization held a 60th anniversary ceremony at the Army Ordnance Museum here on the Proving Ground. The keynote speaker was Sgt. Ralph Kelly, a soldier in Ida company of the 101st Airborne. He was one of only a handful of men in his company to survive the battle.

Kelly was what his commanding officer referred to as a "special soldier". The reasons for this twofold. The first is that he fought like hell and had a knack for staying alive. As Kelly put it, "I never took the easiest path, because that was the one the Germans had the machine guns sighted in on." The second is that when not fighting like hell, he had a knack for getting into other forms of trouble. He accidentally broke onto an RAF airbase once while in Britain. At the time he was just trying to get away from the well-armed husband of a very attractive (but not very faithful) British woman. After recovering from wounds he received in Holland, he "took a French vacation" without leave. He "borrowed" an Army jeep to do this and supported himself by teaching French girls how to drive. When he returned to his unit, he was thrown in the stockade and told the war was over for him. The Battle of the Bulge began the next day. Kelly tried to hold the Army to their word, but no such luck.

Sgt. Kelly oscillated from private to sergeant more times than he could count over the course of the war. You can understand why. He wasn't the only colorful soldier in the bunch though. One of his colleagues reacted very badly to being told he was "in the Army" especially when told by officers. According to that man, he was simply in the employment of the federal government to "kill krauts."

Like countless other Screaming Eagles, Sgt. Kelly was dropped nowhere near his dropzone on D-Day. His pilot was busy dodging anti-aircraft fire. Kelly bailed out in during a dive and barely survived the drop. Before his next drop in Operation Market Garden in Holland, he and his fellow Eagles let the pilots know that if anything like that happened again, they would be leaving a few live grenades behind before they went out the door. The drops in Market Garden were much more orderly.

Kelly was wounded several times in Normandy during the process of killing Germans getting to where he was supposed to be. When he came upon an Aid Station, the medics there forced him to disarm. Since Murphy's Law held, the aid station was overrun a short while later and, while did Kelly escape, he was left unarmed in the middle of a war zone. He had a few choice words for those doctors.

Sgt. Kelly did not want to be called a hero. "I wasn't even a very good soldier," he said, "I'd never make it in the Army today." According to him, and this was one of the many times he got a little teary eyed, the real heroes didn't make it home. Many of them still stand watch over the ground of a foreign land they gave their lives to free.

We called Sgt. Kelly a hero anyway. It was an honor just to shake his hand.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Lifting Heavy Things

Sunday I went to church, had lunch with my family, and then lifted heavy things (grunt grunt). Specifically I helped my parents put their air conditioners in their windows. I'm sure they are appreciating it right now.

After that I stopped by Dick's Sporting Goods and picked up a gun cabinet for my long guns. The cabinets were on sale. Getting an 80 pound, 5 foot by whatever cabinet into my little car was an adventure in itself though. I tried putting my seats down and loading it through the trunk, but no luck. After playing with it I managed to get it into the passenger compartment in a way that still left me enough room to drive. My apartment is on the third floor so while lugging it up those stairs wasn't exactly fun, at least it was straightforward.

I had been storing my long guns in hard cases. This isn't especially good for guns because they can hold in moisture. Now my guns are in a nice locked steel cabinet with some dessicant packets to keep them dry. This is a much better way to do things.

Shooting the New Gun

This was a pretty manly weekend for me. Saturday I slept in, watched way to much Mythbusters, and then shot my new gun.

For those of you who have never shot a new gun or new-to-you gun, there is a certain level of care that needs to be taken. In this case, my .22 Buck Mark was both new to me and had been detail stripped (hopefully correctly) by me without the use of directions (the manly way!). Because of this I used the standard new semi-automatic pistol testing procedures when I went to the range Saturday.

Don't know what those standard procedures of testing a semi-automatic pistol are, let me explain further:
  1. Go to a shooting range. Otherwise you may put a hole in something important.
  2. Load the magazine with one and only one round. Insert the magazine, chamber the round, and fire it downrange. This will tell you if your gun will feed, fire, and extract properly. If the gun is new and has a few feeding or extraction problems, that isn't uncommon. I do mean "a few" though, if it is jamming enough to be annoying something is probably wrong. If the gun won't fire (oops thats what those parts were for!) then something is wrong. You may need to seek professional help.
  3. Now load two rounds. Point downrange and pull the trigger. You should get no jams and only one bang. If this was the case then fire the other round. If you got two bangs in quick succession with only one pull of the trigger (called a double) then something important is wrong with your gun. It probably needs professional attention. Invoke your warranty or take it to a gunsmith. If the second round jammed then repeat this test.
  4. Work your way up to a full mag adding few rounds more rounds each time. Pay attention to make sure the gun doesn't double and make note of any other problems. If you have frequent problems, make sure it isn't the magazine and check if it repeatable (7 rounds in the mag makes it jam, etc). New guns have a break-in period, but if it is still giving you problems after about 200 rounds then it probably won't be fixing itself.
My buckmark passed with flying colors. I had the occasional misfire, but that is to be expected with rimfires. The range was indoors and hot. I was sweaty and icky. Much like I am now at work because the air conditioning is broken.

UPDATE: A few more thoughts. I really should have bought a .22 earlier. Not only was it fun to shoot, but it was very cheap to shoot. I put 150 rounds through my buckmark yesterday and it cost me about $2.70. I probably spent as much on bullets as I spent on paper targets. For comparison, putting 150 rounds of cheap 9mm downrange costs about $18.

Girly Laptops

Amybear's laptop is annoying sometimes. Mostly because she uses a big picture of my face as a background image and it really freaks me out. However thank God she isn't this bad though. Via Michael Dean.

We got a giggle at work from the org charts on his site as well.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Blockbuster Season

It is that time of year again. All the huge movies come out. You know how you can tell? It isn't the the advertizing and product placement, although those are intense. It is the fact that your local Googleplex thousand screen theatre is showing a total of six films. Now if you want to see those movies it's great. After all the 2:30 showing of Star Wars may be sold out, but the 2:31 showing still has a few seats left. But if you want to see something else, good luck. There's always DVD...

Friday, June 03, 2005

Revenge of the Sith

Here is a synopsis/parody in 167 lines.

Modeling God

My bible study is a group of mostly nerdy guys. We've been studying Mere Christianity for what seems like forever. This week we got to the start of the fourth "book" in Mere Christianity which is a discussion of the trinity and includes some discussion on the worth of theology in general.

Lewis defines theology as "the science of God" which is a turn of phrase that is both profound and useful. He compares theology to geography. Compared to actually going somewhere, learning geography is a much less satisfying experience. Maps and pictures lack the fullness and richness of the actual place. However geography is necessary to get you across continents and oceans. An understanding of geography can take you places you have never been before and could never have gotten to on your own. This is because geography encapsulates the experiences of thousands of people.

So theology is important. However being nerds we don't have the problem of thinking too little of theology. We have a problem of wasting too much of our time discussing theology and too little applying it to our lives and walk. How much time do we spend thinking of theology instead of being in prayer?

Several of us are in the statistical and scientific modeling business. Models are inherently simplifications of what is going on in the real world. As such, they always will contain some level of inaccuracy. But their simplicity is also their power. There is an old but profound saying in modeling:
All models are wrong, but some models are useful.
Theology is like that too. Theology is not God. It is how we think about God. God is vast and, to our human minds, inherently incomprehensible. We will never know the end of Him and that may be our major occupation in Heaven. Theology is merely how we model and conceptualize God. This brings about a corollary to the previous statement:
All theology is wrong, but some of it is useful.
Before we start a huge argument with our Christian brothers, we need to have this perspective about what we are fighting over.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Paul and the Gospels.

Michael Spencer asks at Internet Monk:
Why does the Apostle Paul not refer to the stories, miracles and teaching from the ministry of Jesus in his letters to churches?
What a cool question.

Paul wrote before many of the written Gospels were widely circulated. More importantly he wrote centuries before the establishment of the New Testament canon. While the truth of Christ was likely present and circulating orally, there was a almost certainly a lot of falsehood out there as well. The signal to noise ratio outside of apostolic circles would have been poor. There would also have been gaps caused by oral transmission. You can't rely on a story for authority if your readers haven't heard of it yet. It wouldn't be until the establishment of the canon that the noise drops out and everyone has a consistent set of scripture they can employ without one side or the other fearing hearsay.

People also don't rely on the work of their contemporaries this way. When was the last time you thought another guy in your bible study was speaking the inerrant word of God? The establishment of scriptural authority takes time. Paul didn't have the benefit of that time yet. When Paul does cite scripture it is the Old Testament because it has the weight of history behind it.

He also cites scripture sparingly period. If you read contemporary letters of pastoral instruction, how often do they make use of scripture? Not that much. How many scriptural references to the life of Christ are in contemporary evangelical literature? Christian blogs?

Paul also wrote based on his own experience. The literal translation of "apostle" is witness. Paul has witnessed the resurrected Christ on the Road to Damascus, but not the pre-resurrection Christ. Therefore he focuses heavily on the connotations of the resurrected Christ. It is his apostolic witness. His experience of the resurrected Christ figures heavily into his faith walk and so he relied on it heavily in his message to others.

Paul's writings may also have been intended by God to compliment the other written Gospels. God doesn't give exactly the same message in every book and it is quite possible that Paul's works were intended to give the Gospel a second leg to stand on philosophically.

Rap isn't Crap?

So my music tastes have been expanding lately. I've found myself watching CMT at night and listening to more country-esque music lately. Something about how Toby Keith says "I'll put a boot in your ass, it's the American Way..." I suppose. I'm guessing, being as white as I am, enjoying country was bound to happen.

More surprisingly I've found myself tapping my feet and plunking down money for R&B and Rap music. I have Elefunk, the Black Eye Peas first album. Its good. Amy likes it too. I'll probably pick up their next release at Best Buy this weekend. I suppose I should credit Rock Star games for forcing me to listen to rap and play the the thug life in GTA: San Andreas. Now I can hum old school Snoop Dogg tunes. Wonderful. That will go over so well with my mom.

It makes me feel weird though. Like I'm becoming Kip from Napolean Dynamite. Ah well off to start my new life as a cage fighter...

Planned Parenthood

Planned Parenthood is being investigated for covering up child molestation in both Kansas and Indiana. This has to do with PP performing abortions on patients under the age of 14(!) without fulfilling their legal requirement to report that the children had been sexually active. Something like 80 cases of this have occurred yearly in each state.

I'm not lover of Planned Parenthood, mostly because they aren't a family planning agency. They are an abortion on demand firm. Delaware won't me have an eye exam from someone working for Pearle Eye Center because they fear business concerns would taint their diagnosis. But you can go to an abortion clinic for objective "family planning". Figure that one out.

Its For the Consumer

Gillette has been slapped with an advertizing injuction for their Mach 3 Power razor. Evidently the lawsuit claims that consumers are being hurt by false advertizing that shows the M3Power using vibration to lift and cut hairs. Judge Janet C. Hall of the United States District Court (Connecticut) granted the preliminary injunction.

My thoughts? Yes this is seriously hurting consumers. It is hurting them so much that the lawsuit was part of a global legal initiative filed by Schick, their primary competitor in the razor market. Yes its about the consumer, its not about the Mach 3 line eating Schick's lunch.

Schick sells the Quattro, a four-bladed razor that competes directly with Gillette's three-bladed Mach 3. Unfortunately for Schick what makes the Mach 3 great is not the number of blades or the lubricating strips, it is the head design of the razor. The Mach 3 has an end pivot which actually follows the contours of your face without slicing you to hell. The Quattro uses a traditional central pivot, probably because Gillette patented the hell out of the Mach 3 design.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Useful Facts

Joe Carter has compiled several great tricks to make your life a little easier. Here are a few choice ones:
  • If you get your keyboard sticky with soda, run it through the dishwasher and the let it dry thoroughly. Fixed!
  • A sweat sock 2/3 full of rice makes a great hot pad when heated in the microwave.
  • If you use Firefox (and I know 53% of you do) you can actually have multiple home pages open in several tabs all at once by using the pipe "|" command.
That is just a small sample of the joys within.

Fun with Guns

I field stripped my Buck Mark on saturday for a little cleaning. However that didn't seem to do it so I detail stripped it yesterday. For those not into guns, field stripping is the process in the manual you use to give the gun a light cleaning without losing anything. Detail stripping is the part in the manual which is covered by a statement that looks like this:
Any further disassembly should be undertaken by a competent gunsmith or the gun should be returned to the dealer for service.
That aside detail stripping can be pretty easy. This is mostly because guns contain a lot parts under fairly strong spring tension. If you remove the wrong pin they tend to disassemble themselves, often violently as was the case yesterday. It is getting the gun back together without any supplied directions that is the tough part.

If you have perchance had your buckmark's firing group explode into its component pieces, clean them while you are at it and then use this diagram from Brownells to get things in the proper places. If you didn't disassemble the thing in the proper order (if parts were flung every which way then you probably didn't do it right) I suggest doing the following:
  1. Put the mainspring and mainspring plunger in the frame. There is a little hole through the side of the frame near the grip screw holes. Compress the spring, a dowel would be a good thing to use here, and run a small pun punch through here to lock the mainspring down. This will keep you from fighting spring tension while you put the rest of the thing back together.
  2. Now put the hammer and safety lever in and secure them with that pin with the spring on it (hopefully the spring is still on it). Keep in mind that weird little strut on the hammer needs to end up in the mainspring plunger's dished top.
  3. Now put in the sear spring, it has a short and a long leg. The short leg goes against the frame, then put in the pin, and then take some needle-nose pliers and put the long leg down past the hammer and safety lever. The hammer should hold it roughly in place.
  4. Now slip the sear into the middle and put the pin in. It will go in fairly easy.
  5. Make sure the sear spring is in its notch on the sear. If not get it there with the pliers.
  6. Now pull the pin to release the mainspring.
Put the rest of the parts in the obvious places and put the grips back on to hold everything together. If you can't get everything back together it is possible you have a pin turned around.

I suggest you check to make sure everything works at this point before you put the slide on. Hold down the hammer and make sure pulling the trigger releases the hammer properly. Make sure the trigger is returning, the slide release works, and magazine release works. These last few parts use little leaf springs that are easy to mess up or miss in assembly.

Some of you may be thinking, doesn't this void your warrantee on the gun? Well I bought it used so my warrantee on the gun doesn't count for much. Heh, since the warrantee on my car ran out this weekend, next week I will be giving instructions on how to detail strip a Mazda Protege. ;)

Delusion or Forgiveness

Evidently the secret to a successful relationship is delusion. Or so say a group of psychologists.
We tend to remember slights and frustrations more than favors and kindnesses. So inevitably in a marriage the weight of negative remembrances of thing past comes to exceeds that of the positive. Divorce is the result.
How do you get around this problem?
Psychologists believe that what they are observing in couples who endorse these and similar sentiments are strongly selective memories that ignore inevitable negative events over the course of marital history. Maybe a distorted view of your marriage that emphasizes the positive and forgets the negative is crucial to accounting for who stays and who flees when it comes to relationship endurance.
I have two thoughts on this subject.

First, this isn't exactly a new idea. Chances are, if you have been to a few weddings recently, you have heard 1 Corinthians 13. "Love is patient, love is kind..." and more relevant to this topic "love keeps no record of wrongs..." Might I suggest that this is not a case of forgetfulness or delusion that allows couples to stay together but love allowing for forgiveness and acceptance. If you are continually holding on to your list of grievances it will rip your marriage apart. That is obvious. However if you really love someone you won't be holding on to those memories of past wrongs, you will be holding on to memories of the good times instead.

It has been said that you like each other for your strengths, but you love each other for your faults. If you bothered to get to know each other before you got married, then chances are you would at least be going into the rest of your life with open eyes. I think this is why pre-marital counseling seems to have such a deep impact on the divorce rate.

Secondly, I hate psychologists. The whole tone in the second quote pisses me off. You will notice that they have redefined divorce as the normal outcome of a marriage between psychologically healthy individuals. A successful marriage is only possible between ignorant people with distorted deluded minds and selective memories. I am reminded of an old Tom Lehrer line, psychologists become psychologists so that they can give advice to people who are happier than themselves.

UPDATE: John Schroeder at Blogotional had this to say:
Jeff is, I think, half right there. Love and forgiveness play a key role, but so does repentance and trying not to make the same mistake twice.
He is right of course.

Sleep Revolution

Steve Pavlina has two posts on how to consciously alter your sleep patterns. I don't agree with him about everything, but these are at least good suggestions to try.

Like Steve, I go to bed when I'm tired and typically fall asleep very quickly. Recently I have found myself waking up before my alarm. Like Steve I get up at a predictable time on work days but unlike him I do allow myself to slack off a bit on the weekends. Those extra few hours of sleep are a treat I give myself. I wonder if they aren't doing more harm than good to my sleep cycle.

I do not agree with him about reading in bed in order to cool your brain down and prepare for a sleep cycle. A good book will keep me awake and reading for hours. A bad book will piss me off and keep me awake as well. I know Amybear is the same way. Reading makes me think and generally encourages my brain to keep moving. Another great way for me to have a bout of insomnia is for me to go to bed and have a neat idea there before I fall asleep. Unless I can put it out of my mind for later, I'll be stuck mulling that concept around in my head for hours while I stare up at the ceiling.

What I really need to work on is getting up. As I said, I typically wake up before my alarm on a regular basis. However I always roll over and sleep until well past when the alarm goes off. I suppose I just need more self-discipline, but that's the story of my life.