Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Duck Lake

Regarding vocabulary: Liberal vs. Conservative, Progressive vs. Regressive

One of the biggest problems in politics and religion is that words over time acquire an psychological aura that is conflated with meanings to produce a lot of rhetoric that sounds profound but is in fact garbage. Liberal originally meant pro-freedom and change, while conservative meant the opposite. The Economist uses the term "economic liberal" to mean free-market capitalist. Liberal here is per the original definition. Today, liberal is more often associated with socialism, which is the exact opposite. When it comes to schools, however, it is "conservatives" that are crying out for more choices, but "liberals" who are horrified at the thought. Clearly there are two somewhat distinct camps, but each has a set of things they want to change and those that they are determined to preserve. The labels "liberal" and "conservative" thus are as descriptive as gamma-team and epsilon-team.

There is an attempt to rework the vocabulary in terms of "progressives" who want change that is focused on progress and oppose change that is against progress. This conveniently implies that the other side consists of "regressives" who want to preserve what is bad in society and throw out what is good. As "progressive" only asserts the moral superiority of those who claim the term, but is otherwise completely uninformative regarding their philosophies, it certainly should be tossed into the bin.

I am fond of "left" and "right", as they are merely labels and don’t assert any morality. The problem with this split is the calibration is skewed: The official left/right certifying agency is run entirely by those who are left of 90% of America. Thus, almost half of America is in the ultra-right wing extremist category. Ted Kaczynski was the only ultra-left wing extremist in America until being re-categorized as a right wing extremist by The Economist, leaving no ultra-left wingers among America's 300,000,000 population. Clearly this labeling system has its problems too.

The other term I am fond of is "intellectual", which is short for "those who engage in intellectual malpractice for a living". As Jesus had conflicts with the Pharisees (traditionalists), the Herodians (politicians) and the Sadducees (modernists), I think it is fair to say that no group has a monopoly on intellectuals.

Monday, October 30, 2006

With the Duke Lacrosse team rape allegation competing for attention with the Australian Imam's comments on immodestly dressed women, I think it is good to remember back to what Alexis de Tocqueville said regarding the diffences in attitude between the Americans and the Europeans regarding women (~1840):

"The legislators of the United States, who have mitigated almost all the penalties of criminal law, still make rape a capital offence, and no crime is visited with more inexorable severity by public opinion. This may be accounted for; as the Americans can conceive nothing more precious than a woman's honor, and nothing which ought so much to be respected as her independence, they hold that no punishment is too severe for the man who deprives her of them against her will. In France, where the same offence is visited with far milder penalties, it is frequently difficult to get a verdict from a jury against the prisoner. Is this a consequence of contempt of decency or contempt of women? I cannot but believe that it is a contempt of one and of the other."

I am inclined to believe that women cannot have both European style equality and American style honor from a society. Having gained the former, they are losing the latter.
A multi-family get together.

We were at a picnic. The one young lady was an assistant to the local congressman Pete Stark and viewed him as something of a hero. When she found out that we were Christians, she made some claims about all of the terrible killing that had been done by Christians. I reminded her that in a few short decade of the 20th century, Communism had killed more people in the name of godlessness than all of the religious wars, executions, purges and inquisitions of history combined. Then there is communism's cousin, National Socialism to consider. She took terrible offense at that and continued to throw out accusations based on her accumulated mountain of disinformation that she had received from her books.

This was brought to mind by the quote from Richard Dawkins on Abnormal Interests: "Religious extremism is implicated in the world's most bitter and unending conflicts." This statement is only partially true, as racial animosity in Asia and Africa sit side-by-side with other hostility like the Hindu-Muslim split. Unfortunately, his atheistic alternative has proven by far the worst killer.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

A View of Mount Whitney from Lone Pine.

This was from a few weeks earlier when I had to stop near the summit of Mount Whitney due to the coughing. Arriving back in Lone Pine, I headed straight for a drug store to get something to try stopping my cough. On the way out of the store, this sight of Whitney with a church caught my eye.

It is popular for those who explore the mountains to talk about "something spiritual". There are certainly always plenty of emotions and hormones stirred up. For me, it is a time when I can run together with my Father through Jesus Christ and ponder things.
A potential verse to preach on?

"Pour out your wrath on the nations that do not acknowledge you, on the kingdoms that do not call on your name ..." - Psalms 79:6

I am glad I am not a preacher, but once a quarter or so I am conscripted for this purpose. Next week being the week before the election, it would be tempting to put in something political. Never fear, there isn't the slightest chance that I will break the constitutional requirement that churches not endorse a ballot item!

Based on the political rhetoric that I have been hearing from both parties, this verse should be of concern for all Americans.
"He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is careful to discipline him." - Proverbs 13:24

The act of physical discipline had been universally acclaimed as something of value a few decades ago. I remember the teachers having paddles in school when I was young and saw unruly kids whacked into their places on many occasions. This was banned in the early 70's as "child abuse" with the net result that the teachers ended up being more afraid of the kids. The impact of this mentality cannot be underestimated as it greatly increases the costs of education and lowers the quality. Separately the mentality affected capital punishment with arguments that only methods which inflict no pain can be used and the recent rebuttal that fetuses feel pain during abortions.

With "water torture" in the news, I usually think back to 100 yard intervals in the swimming pool. Water torture is probably not as bad, but it horrifies the pain averse of our society. Western society is currently not sane enough to discuss what is and isn't torture and what should or shouldn't be permissible, given that the above verse stands condemned by our intellectual elite.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Quote of the Day:

“In fact, if Christ himself stood in my way, I, like Nietzsche, would not hesitate to squish him like a worm” - Che Guevara

I am happy the far left has recently discovered that torture is bad. Hopefully, they will remember this when they get swept back into power and not revert to the practices of their earlier heroes.
Sandi and the Hawaii Ironman event.

Finally, the explanation came in. Sandi started the swim and was stung by a jelly fish. With the usual Iroman attitude, she kept going and shortly had a very bad allergic reaction. Fortunately, there were a lot of support crew in the water to take care of her. She actually finished the 2.4 mile swim, but after the cutoff time. The reactions continued the next day and the doctors said that she may experience reactions for the next 2 to 3 months. 4 others ended up in the hospital because there was actually a swarm of jellyfish that everyone had gone through.
"It is inevitable that they will get what they want. Because of this, there isn't much point in fighting. When they do get what they want, the fighting will end and we can live in peace."

This is the "conservative" viewpoint at Mission High that my son recited to me. The subject was gays, but there are many similar ones. Islam, organized crime and extreme liberalism all fall into this pattern.

The fallacy is easiest to see with feminists. American women have always been the best treated women in the world, but they are never content. The feminist movement really picked up steam in the 1960's and early 70's as women were angry and made all kinds of demands for their rights. We gave them everything, including the right to set up their own churches where they can be the senior pastor - in direct contempt for the Biblical instructions. We even changed the usage of our language so that "he" must be changed to "he or she" so that their pretty ears wouldn't be offended. So, do we live in peace? Of course not! Today's women are even more discontent and they are still making their demands. Everything is framed in the language of rights, but the issue is the torment of the soul. Again, the issue is torment of the soul.

In the same way, gay marriage won't be the end, but merely the beginning. The Foley matter should show that clearly. The lusts of man are insatiable, so society must establish and remain firm on limits. Giving in is more like removing foundational support pieces under a building. If it is OK to remove one, we eventually find that we can't argue against removing more.

God allows everything for a reason. He gives us a choice to embrace Him or to pursue our lusts. When we choose the latter, he has something else awaiting us: Islam. As with liberalism, Islam is insatiable in its demands for complete submission. Even when you give in to Sharia law, there is no peace, because Islam always produces dysfunctional government and extreme poverty. The solution? Send the young out to inflict Islam on some other dysfunctionally licentious society. God is certainly just.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

I feel spiritually connected to this California Poppy.

No, not in any Zen sort of way, but in a fundamentalist way: We both have the same creator who gave us some similar features. For example, California Poppys generally bloom in the spring, reaching a peak in April or May when the fields are covered with wild flowers. This is the best time of the year for 50k trail runs as the beauty of the flowers helps to overcome the pain and suffering associated with ultra-marathon mountain running on rocky trails.

This flower, however, was photographed today near Mission Peak. By stubbornly blooming at the wrong time, it is a contrarian, just like me. It does the right thing at the wrong time and the wrong thing at the right time. Oh, how I can relate! More importantly, it has stubburnly taken a position where it is likely to be trampled upon by the herds of people that wander up Mission Peak every week. Most will walk just inches away to one side or the other. And finally, it is persistent in holding to its unreasonable position as I first noticed this flower on my trail run last Saturday, but it was only today that I could get back here with a camera.

Someday I will need to establish a formal international organization for contrarians. Of course, we will never agree on the by-laws, but there should be some way to celebrate a common bond.
Two elderly ladies were just talking next to me.

One told the story of a friend whose husband lost his job as a nuclear physicist during the McCarthy era. Gee, I wonder what kind of work a nuclear physicist would have been doing during the McCarthy era that would be considered sensitive? Nuclear weapons perhaps? But it does bring up another interesting feature: How can it be that nuclear weapons should be banned, but working on nuclear weapons is a constitutional right?

Another curious feature to ponder is that the DOD budget rises and falls depending on the party in power, but the DOE budget doesn't change much.
Quote of the Day:

"If the American government is serious about avoiding explosions inside the U.S., then let it stop provoking the feelings of 1,250 million Muslims." attributed to Osama Bin Laden during a CNN Interview, 1997.

Apparently someone forgot to tell him that President Bush II was the primary reason for Islamic terrorism.
Regarding Embryonic Stem Cells.

Having worked in engineering and science for 25 years, it would take me a long time to enumerate all of the scams that I have seen. A typical example was the magnetic fusion energy program at LLNL which cost the taxpayer $1 billion. It was based on some simulations done in the 1970's. Upon completion, the lab management announced that they had new simulations which proved that the system would never work, so it was mothballed and never turned on, after all of the money was spent. The old-timers at LLNL sneered that the lab management had the simulations all along, but used bogus ones to get the money.

As we consider stem cell research, this should be kept in mind: Scientists don't have any ethics, especially when money or ideology is involved. Stems cells involve both. California passed a $3 billion bond for doing this work.

Economics also teaches the concept of "opportunity costs". When you put money into one thing, you don't put it into something else. The question is: What else could we put our health dollars into that would improve health?

The answer to this is easy: America is rationing doctor and nurse training just as the baby boom generation is heading for retirement and is going to demand endless medical pampering. A 75 year old retiree with 20 ailments simply isn't going to take a back seat to a pregnant mother. $3 billion represents $100,000 of tuition for 30,000 medical students. Meanwhile, a medical doctor who is seeing his insurance rates skyrocket due to fraudulent malpractice suits might be glad to jump ship for a research position.

Then there are all of the other medical problems out there: AIDS is probably over funded, but drug resistant TB is on the horizon and cancer comes in too many varieties. There is always a thousand choices, so why do we need to dump money into something controversial? Actually, we need to dump money into embryonic stem cell research precisely because it is controversial! In your face, dude!

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

NJ Supreme Court: Marriage is a RIGHT, not a RESPONSIBILITY.

If you go into marriage with that attitude, you should expect a little taste of hell before ending the relationship in divorce.

The other little thing to note is that they have mandated civil unions, which in the end will force employers and taxpayers to dish out a lot of money to help subsidize licentiousness and pay for the consequential medical expenses. Employers will be forced to cut back on benefits to families raising children and/or out-source hard working parents' jobs to China as a result. Governments will fork out more tax money to gays and have less for children while taxing middle age families raising kids more (the famous top 1%).

Religious freedom for the Turk ...

This being a concept of the early Baptists. Jesus taught that we need to follow God's plan for us while trying to work peacefully with the other institutions around us. It is here that we find the basis in Christianity for a concept of "separation of church and state". The "Turk" here is understood to be a reference to Islam. Where things get interesting is that Islam explicitly insists that religion and state must be combined. Mohammed was both Caesar and Church. Although Muslims may give lip service to a "separation of church and state" concept while residing outside of an area where their particular brand of Islam is dominant, the fundamentals of their religion preclude separation.

In practice, we see a wide variety of Islamic governments, parties, and/or attempts to coercively produce an Islamic government in all varieties of Islam and in different cultures affected by Islam. The most obvious being the Islamic government in Iran, but this is only one. In the Aceh province of Indonesia there is a push to force a complete Islamic government and secede from Indonesia, with similar movements in the Philippines and Thailand. The Taliban of Afghanistan were also famous as an Islamic government. Somalia has seen most of the country taken over by a group referred to as the Islamic Courts. Attempts to impose Sharia law on non-Muslims have occured in numerous locations. Turkey had gone to a secular form of government under Ataturk when it appeared that an aggressive West was going to overthrow Islam with its medieval backwardness. With the West now viewed as an opportunity rather than a threat, this is reversing rapidly as Islamic parties strengthen in Turkey. It should be noted that any religion is capable of demanding absolute loyalty of the population in a region, however, Islam has by far been the most aggressive.

The conflict of freedom can be stated in a general form: As we attempt to grant freedom to all mankind, we must grant people the freedom to trample someone else's freedom. Therefore, absolute freedom is impossible. In fact, any increment in freedom for one person is likely to result in a loss of freedom for someone else, so changes need to be balanced carefully. With religious freedom, we also see that absolute freedom is impossible and we ban countless religious practices, ranging from polygamy to human sacrifice. We would probably even find it unacceptable for someone to remove the offending hand or eye as Jesus commanded.

One additional complication is that clever people will try to repackage their religious beliefs as "non-religion" or "science" and then establish them. Again, anyone can do this, but intellectuals have been the most effective. When confronted, they invariably respond with either a "who, me?" or condescension and derision. This is the primary reason that "Separation of Church and State" is now moving towards a concept to be treated with contempt, rather than something serious and honorable. In fact, it is these intellectuals who preclude a rational discussion of the separation of church and state.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Just checked with my kids regarding "separation of church and state".

My son and my nephew go to different high schools. (Bussing - but without the bus!) They both knew most of the amendments, but didn't seem to have a clue where "separation of church and state" came from and weren't quite sure which amendment it was associated with. Not much has changed since I was in school regarding this. The one thing that they were certain they were taught is that the public schools need more money!
The Final Conclusion on the Separation of Church and State matters.

(As The Intellectual Elites Interpret It.)

1. God's laws regarding homosexuality are immoral and God needs to recognize that times have changed and his word is no longer valid! The constitution can and must be made to accommodate the active embracement of the homosexual lifestyle.

2. Although the 17th century concept of separation of church and state wasn't formally part of the constitution, the constitution was intended to be interpreted according to 17th century ideals. This interpretation is fixed, immutable and must never be adjusted to accommodate the changing features of civilization. Christians must embrace godlessness as a superior religion and confess that Intellectualism is superior to God, or else they are apostates!
Actually, Chicken Little had a Ph.D. in astrophysics.

Why don't you Baptists learn your Baptist history!!!

This is something that seems to come out in a discussion of separation of church and state. Or course, that begs the questions of what did I learn and where did I learn it?

The schools I attended were Moorland Heights elementary, Young High school, Doyle Middle/High school (in Knoxville, TN) and Gateway Jr. High (Monroeville, PA). All public.

Frankly, I don't recall that they told us where separation of church and state came from. After studying more, I learned that it came from Thomas Jefferson and figured it was some baggage he brought back from France. It is only recently that I learned that Thomas Jefferson was just a side show and the older Baptists were the authors. Is it my fault that I didn't know this? Actually, my knowledge of history is probably in the top 1 or 2% given that I enjoy reading and chasing different things down. Why is it that "separation of church and state" being authored by the Baptists isn't taught???

My speculation here traces back to the intellectual elites. You see, they looked at Baptists as backwoods imbeciles. How could anything profound come from them? Thus, this topic either wasn't mentioned of traced to Thomas Jefferson. Jefferson was an enlightenment intellectual who rejected Jesus as savior. He was respectable!

I was taught in school that Christianity had caused the Dark Ages and that technological enlightenment was taken over by Islam. I was taught that the church of Christopher Columbus' day believed the earth was flat. I was taught that Galileo was persecuted because he violated church teaching - rather than contradicting ancient Greek teaching in an era where the Bible was despised (among the intellectuals). I was taught that the Enlightenment triggered the scientific revolution, but wasn't told that the Enlightenment was started by a scoffer, Voltaire, and that the scientific revolution started with the Reformation.

In short, the reason I didn't learn my history is that The Intellectuals were teaching it and they were mixing it up with subtle garbage and propaganda at every point!

My conclusion: Separation of Church and State was a 17th century concept that cannot be applied today without some adjustments to accommodate today's reality: The establishment of godlessness - which is primarily being done by The Intellectuals. It is no surprise that they are insisting on the 17th century concept with no modifications.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Pondering Gun Control.

First, although I am an ultra-right wing, foaming at the mouth extremist, I don't much care for guns. I didn't grow up with them. I fired them a few times, but they make me nervous and I am happy not to have them around the house. The recent drive-by shooting of the Afghan lady in Fremont, however, made me ponder this issue somewhat. Would I be happy if there were no guns? Certainly. But then things get complicated.

The man who was apprehended and the journalists have implicated in the drive-by shooting is a career criminal of Hispanic background with drugs, having a firearm while on parole, and hit and run on his record. This is the kind of person the NRA is going to bring up as the bogey man which is why we need guns in the first place.

The "right to bear arms" is the second amendment, and thus was the second thought(!) that the founders of our government had after writing the constitution. We should, however, get real: Most interesting arms are already banned. I can't go down to Walmart and buy myself a 120mm mortar along with some ammo. Nor can I fill up my trunk with C-4 (preferrably the older stuff that isn't detectable at the airports). No chemical weapons either. :( Not even the NRA is arguing that these should be legalized. Thus, arms control is a reality. The line between what is and what isn't allowable is movable and the gun proponents can't invoke the 2nd amendment as a tool for saying where the line is.

I don't see that things are all that clear cut for the gun control advocates either. This amendment was included, to give Americans a sense of security. If we are going to start controlling guns, this must be the first question we ask: Is it going to make people feel more or less secure? Here is where the liberals argument starts breaking down, because they are the ones who are also pushing for the kind of civil liberties that empower drug dealers and gangs who are a big part of the gun problem. We are also faced with a "lets do as little as we possibly can" attitude towards securing the border which allows in illegals, drugs and guns. Looking at what is happening in Gaza with people digging tunnels to smuggle in illegal arms and preferring ammo to food for their children, it is easy to imagine things getting much further out of control as things become more lawless on the border. There is no way that Americans are going to accept gun control, but only for those who abide by the law. Or to put it another way, if you want to talk to me about gun control, you better be prepared to bargain with some of your sacred constitutional cows.
Ode to Joy: Beethoven is amazing. Such a beautiful hymn!

"Joyful, joyful we adore thee God of Glory Lord of Love, hearts unfold like flowers before thee ... "

"... Osho World celebrates the pitter patter of raindrops in praise of the Lord of Love - Krishna ..."

The words to "Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee" were written by Henry Van Dyke, professor of religious studies at Princeton, about a century ago. He was probably one of the few westerners at the time who would have known that Lord of Love was a name for Krishna. Note that this hymn also carefully avoids describing Jesus as either Lord or Savior. The hearts unfolding like flowers bit also seems to be some Hindu imagery. Van Dyke was the head of the Presbyterians and has a truly amazing resume.
What is Hypocrisy?

And he (Jesus) said to them: "You have a fine way of setting aside the commands of God in order to observe your own traditions! For Moses said, 'Honor your father and your mother,' and, 'Anyone who curses his father or mother must be put to death.' But you say that if a man says to his father or mother: 'Whatever help you might otherwise have received from me is Corban' (that is, a gift devoted to God), then you no longer let him do anything for his father or mother. Thus you nullify the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And you do many things like that." - Mark 7:9-13

With the Foley matter now fading due to the lack of an underage partner, it is probably worth pointing out a crime that he wasn't guilty of: hypocrisy. In modern usage, hypocrisy is when a person who is or has struggled with a sin tries to teach that it is a bad idea to pursue that sin. It is considered doubly hypocritical if these struggles aren't publicly known. This definition of hypocrisy, however, is worse than worthless. It almost precludes the teaching of morality because we all struggle with sin.

Looking closer at what Jesus condemned as hypocrisy, we see a completely different pattern: A man-made moral concept was invented (invoking the word Corban) which negated a direct command from God (honor your father and mother). Foley supposedly supported legislation that strengthened laws against pedophiles. This legislation is both consistent with God's commands and it was not designed to promote a greater evil, thus, it does not fall under the pattern of hypocrisy that Jesus described. I have no problem with a smoker preaching against smoking. A drunk can preach against drinking. Bill Clinton can preach against sexual assault. It is good for the sinner to warn others not to follow his sin, but that is not hypocrisy.

If we are going to locate hypocrisy, the best place to start looking is man-made moral concepts. A classic is the concept of pro-choice (the novel, woman-made concept) which negates murder (the God given concept). This fits the pattern of hypocrisy perfectly. Political Correctness, being the primary man-made morality showing up recently, is probably the most likely place to find hypocrisy. Hypocrisy is something that us moralizing intellectuals, both left and right, are most capable of doing. This is also why we should be careful to get the definition right.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

I always thought that Bush (like the rest of us) needs God ...

But according to these evangelicals, this viewpoint is wrong. God needs Bush!

UPDATE: The above link was to the group of evangelicals pushing Bush to do something about Darfur. Their title, "Without Bush, Darfur doesn't have a prayer", strikes me as being completely worldly and their God is powerless. From the worldly perspective, however, the Sudan government is secure in pursuing its objectives. The West is hysterical over what Bush has done in Iraq. Terrorists all over the Middle East know that the suffering they cause will be rewarded at the polls here in the US. Thanks to these Western moralizers, Darfur only has a prayer.
Regarding Polls.

I am generally of the view that polling is more helpful than fortue cookies for checking the future, but not by much. For example, if we ask "are you pro-choice?" and "are you pro-abortion?", you will get drastically different polling results. In terms of actual policy and results, however, the two questions are exactly the same. Thus, pollsters can quite easily manipulate the outcome of the polls for political purposes. To maintain credibility, however, they must be close to the final outcome, so the questions will be adjusted and made honest for perhaps the last day or two prior to an election.

At this point in the election, however, the only purpose of the polls is propaganda. They should be ignored.
Looney's Screwed Up Zionism.

The angel of the LORD also said to her (Hagar): "You are now with child and you will have a son. You shall name him Ishmael, for the LORD has heard of your misery. He will be a wild donkey of a man; his hand will be against everyone and everyone's hand against him, and he will live in hostility toward all his brothers." - Genesis 16:11-12

Zionism declares that God's promises to Israel as a nation didn't end with the crucifixion. Then what of God's other promises? Here is the angel of the Lord making promises regarding the descendents of Ishmael. Islam declares that the Arabs are descendents of Ishmael and Ishmael is celebrated throughout Islam. Galatians goes further and identifies Ishmael with those who are slaves to the law - i.e. stuck in legalism - and warns that even us Christians can become such. It is hard to imagine a major religion that is more stuck in lagalism than Islam, thus, "slaves to the law" is fully appropriate in characterizing Islam. What is more interesting is that the nature of Islam is very much according to the angel's prophecy: "...his hand will be against everyone and everyone's hand against him..."

God has a present and future plan for Islam. In spite of my cynicism, I really believe that this is a positive plan that will eventually grant salvation through Jesus Christ. For the moment, however, the descendents of Ishmael (Ishmael means "God hears") are frequently finishing their prayers with "may Allah destroy America". What is God hearing?
Hawaii Ironman results for Sandi.

It looks like she either didn't start or didn't complete the 2.4 mile ocean swim. I hope she is OK.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

France's civil war: 112 cars torched per day, 15 attacks on police and emergency personnel.

Liberalism is strong when confronting conservatism using the tools of sophistry to confront reasoning people. Against Islam's unreasoning legalism and revenge mentality, liberalism cannot stand.
Sad news in Fremont.

An Afghan lady was killed in a drive by shooting
while walking to school, holding the hand of her 3 year old daughter. She has 6 children and a husband who was working 12 hours a day. Our prayers are for the family.

The same day, my son returned from Mission San Jose High School and told me that Bibles were now banned, due to a deal reached to allow a Muslim club on campus and requirements of the "constitutional separation of church and state". I am curious to find the source of this insanity.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Rejoice in the Lord.

I was about to post something real cynical again, but was reminded that Jesus never said "blessed are the cynics". Yes, God is working something good. Somehow, when all the election garbage is sorted out, we will end up with a leader appointed by God according to His plan. His kingdom will continue growing forever. Give thanks to Him.
Congress to Al Qaeda: You do not have a right to an OJ Simpson trial.
Prohibition in Islam.

From Jakarta via Beijing. Western intellectuals have spent the better part of 200 years inventing phony versions of Islam for whatever their current agenda happened to be. This article is refreshingly to the point in giving the real face of Islam.
You are the Pope!

This is from the science/progress quiz. I scored identical to Pope Benedict XVI with a -5,-2. The determination of your belief in science is quite simple: If you pray to Darwin, you are scientifically enlightened. If you don't, then you are a supertitious ignoramus! They rate Carl Sagan as scientifically the best, while Osama Bin Laden (a civil engineer) is near the worst. Of course intellectuals have always valued hot air over results.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

GOP calls for candidate to withdraw.

This remains the primary distinction between Republicans and Democrats: Republicans take their garbage out and dump it. Democrats don't.
Jonah - with a modern twist.

Jonah started into the city. He proclaimed: "Forty more days and Ninevah with be overturned." When the news reached the king of Ninevah, he rose from his throne, took off his royal robes, covered himself with sackcloth and sat down in the dust. Then he issued a proclamation in Nineveh: "By the decree of the king and his nobles: Do not let any man or beast, herd or flock, taste anything; do not let them eat or drink. But let man and beast be covered with sackcloth. Let everyone call urgently on God. Let them give up their evil ways and their violence. Who knows? God may yet relent and with compassion turn from his fierce anger so that we will not perish."

As the decree was being issued, some priests found out and the NCLU (Ninevah Civil Liberties Union) filed suit in court and had the kings decree overturned. They then addressed the people while wearing the holy robes with the emblem of Melchizedek: "In the history of this great city, has there ever been such an abominable act recorded as the one that was just committed by this king? Many have died to preserve our religious liberties. Should their memory be despised and treated with contempt? We therefore demand that a recall election be held in 40 days to get rid of this mad tyrant."

Military types cursed the priests and said , "We must prepare for war! Reinforce the walls, sharpen the swords, practice with the bow, store up reserves for a siege!" For 40 days the priests and the military types cursed each other and argued over what was the best way to proceed. No one repented or called out to God.

A week after the 40 days were over, a barbarian party found Jonah together with the king sitting on a nearby hill looking at the destruction of what had been Ninevah. The men, women and children had all been killed and the invaders feasted for 7 days before finally burning everything that remained. The barbarian leader asked Jonah what he was doing. Jonah said "I was watching because the Lord told me that you would destroy this great city." The barbarian leader asked, "Does the Lord have any message for me?". "Yes", replied Jonah. "He said to tell you 'well done my good and faithful servant'".
The Accuser.

Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say: "Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Christ. For the accuser of our brothers, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down." - Revelation 12:10

When I was younger, I got caught up into gossip networks and found my self making or passing myriad accusations. Eventually, I myself was a victim of false accusations. God was trying to tell me something about accusations. Do I want God to accuse me? Of course not! Christ's work is about forgiveness, not accusations. In this election season, it is always good to back off and ask ourselves who is The Accuser and do we really want to sit in his seat? If Christians did this more often, we would have much less division and be considerably more effective in proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Regarding Corruption in High Tech.

Three of us were discussing this in prayer meeting tonight. The fact is that corrupt people rise to the top of organizations (both government and private) and engage daily in the most outlandish ways. The honest and talented people are passed over or kicked out. This is the way that science and engineering have always worked, but the romanticized, Disney view is what is taught in schools. It makes it rough when idealistic young Christians get into a real world in which dishonesty and corruption are praised and integrity is treated with contempt. How do we prepare the young people to behave like Christians? Do they stand for principals and see their careers destroyed? Do they behave honestly but keep their heads down and survive? And what of those Christians (a large percentage) who decide to partake in the corruption? Anyway, this is a topic that deserves much more attention, but cannot, because theologians are for the most part believing the fairy tale version of science.
Fundamentalism meets Artificial Intelligence.

It has been 30 years now since my first programming class. 10 years before that, the hope of Artificial Intelligence was firmly established with the Robot in "Lost In Space". AI was a hot topic in the universities and there was much hope in the 1970's. In the 1980's, Japan's Ministry of International Trade and Industry put the fear into the US computer industry with the Fith Generation Computer Project that was going to revolutionize computing including making AI a reality. The reality is that it didn't go very far, except to help the Japanese develop several competing supercomputer designs in an industry that went bust in the 90's. Throughout the 90's, the hope in AI pretty much declined.

What was left was largely what we began with: A computer programmer studies how human's will solve a problem and painstakingly draws up a list of rules that define the behavior. These are programmed, debugged and deployed. Sometimes they look and feel like intelligence, but computers remain completely dumb. The computer programmer can't explain how the steps were deduced in the first place, which is what AI is all about. This line was a dead end. For computer programmers, however, this is a blessing in that the worldwide employment is likely to continue increasing for some time.

A more recent line is based on neural networks. These attempt to emulate the behavior of the brain and have been shown to do a good job at character and voice recognition. The hope for AI in the future centers on this. Note that it is just a hope. The down side is that neural networks are horrifically complex to characterize, meaning that scientists really don't have much of a clue of what is going on. Of course, copying God's creation is certainly a smart way to go. Unfortunately, God is vastly more clever than man. As I see it, the chances of the computer geeks mastering this technology and developing a true AI is pretty close to nill during the next century.

Why was AI a failure? With my 25 years of industrial experience trying to make scientific programs and design tools, it seems to me that the problem is in a lack of self-awareness. Of course, the usual sci-fi scenario is that the computer becomes self-aware and then learns exponentially and catastrophe follows. In this sense, dogs and cats are also self-aware, but they aren't going to learn exponentially. There is a different sense of self-awareness: Being aware of all of the myriad computational steps that occured in deducing something. There are many geniuses who can do amazing things with their mind, but what none of them can do is explain all of the little things that happened for them to make their deductions. It is not the deduction itself, but rather how the deduction was deduced! For me to program something, however, I must know exactly what the steps are. This is where everything breaks down. Yes, mankind has intelligence, but we are incapable of explaining or comprehending how our intelligence works. Frequently, the smarter we are, the harder it is.

The bigger insight is that it is easy for mankind to visualize that something is possible when he has no idea how it might be possible. In a way, cluelessness admits more possibilities than knowledge and understanding. From a probability standpoint, this is definitely the case. As we look at 19th century Darwinism, we see scientists who were totally clueless about how life worked. Not only were they able to visualize how life evolved, but they boldly proclaimed that they had proven evolution! Ah, the power of cluelessness! My reflection on AI always causes me to reflect on God's amazing designs. The pot needs to stand in awe before the potter.
Iran bans fast internet to cut west's influence.

One of the main things that has happened since 9/11 is that the West's understanding of Islam has been going down. Islam is a religion based on legalism and is the complete opposite in every way from the liberal licentiousness that dominates the West. From the viewpoint of Islam, the West offers the seductions of materialism and liberation that will send everyone to hell. This is what is motivating the young, passionate, fundamentalist Muslim men to pick up an AK-47 or an RPG and go blow some westerners up. All of the moral ills glorified in Hollywood are then conflated with support for Israel and Bush is seen as the leader of both. This is why the accusations that Bush is creating terrorism are not only nonsense, but actually pushing the world towards an Armageddon.
Rest Stop #2 at mile 46.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Rumsfield: "You've got a situation where it's not possible to lose militarily ...".

Now I am afraid. This kind of statement brings to mind Sennacharib's attack on Jerusalem, or Xerxes attack on Athens. God is in charge, and we should acknowledge this. Failure to do so is begging for disastor.
Unintelligent Design Rules!

My Hindu optimization expert friend called today. I told him about the efforts of my customer to use genetic algorithms. They wasted a lot of time and effort, running innumerable simulations, and finally came up with things that were no better than what they already had. He confirmed that this was the general experience in the community. On the other hand, they had identified some designs which were different from anything that they had looked at so far and were thus labeled as "promising". The placebo effect is powerful.

Darwinism boasts of the ability to design without intelligence. It is seductive, like the promise to be able to get an A in the class without studying, or to become rich without working.
The Hearst Ranch.

Most people come here to see the Hearst Castle, which is assembled from artifacts that the Hearst family bought from Europe after the wars. The Hogwarts style dining room is one of the most popular. It is quite an amazing piece of work.

This is the little church, which is what stands out the most to me.
More thoughts on the mutual exclusivity of criticism.

Michael has pointed out that some of the mutually exclusive sets aren't impossible to reconciled, but my main point is that all of the criticism leveled against Bush seems to be of this form: He is both too hot and too cold, therefore, we should spew him out! Every administration has its faults, but the criticism shouldn't be all over the map. It should be directed towards the flaws.

One frequent complaint is that Bush is divisive. If I look at others who truly were divisive, such as Hitler or Churchill, one characteristic that I quickly note is the use of rhetoric. They wield it effectively and this is the primary thing that causes the division. Bush, on the other hand, is the most rhetorically challenged president in my lifetime, and perhaps in the history of the US. Again, I fail to comprehend how someone can both be tongue tied and divisive.

The other point is that criticism should be supportable. The complaint that American policies are responsible for terrorism simply isn't reconcilable with the facts: Islamic terrorism is a worldwide phenomenon directed against the governments of India, Philipines, Thailand, Afghanistan, Russia, Israel, Egypt, Algeria, Pakistan, Turkey, France ... Terrorism against the US long predates the Bush administration and current policies. My contacts with missionaries indicate that the ground level Imams are usually pointing at Hollywood more than Washington. We shouldn't be making random accusations.
One more example of mutually exclusive statements:

1) Bush's policies are breeding terrorists!
2) Iraq is in a civil war!

If the breeding of anti-western terrorists is our fault, how can this possibly be a Sunni-Shiite civil war?

In the bad old days of the Great Game, we would have encouraged a civil war in Iraq. We would have smacked down the stronger party, armed the weaker, and provoked the conflict for maximum casualties. During the Turkish Empire, the young Shiites and Sunnis would have been conscripted and sent somewhere else to kill for them. Saddam followed the Turkish pattern. Fortunately, those days are long gone. I really don't believe that Bush begins to understand Iraq or has any idea of how America will eventually get out. Compared to his critics, however, he remains a genius.
Darfur: It is a civil war! We must get in and do something!
Iraq: It is a civil war! We must get out immediately!

Another example of mutually exclusive moral arguments.

Monday, October 16, 2006

On Duping.

Accusations start to lose their credibility when they are being produced in mutually exclusive sets. For example, we hear that presedent Bush is both stupid and a brialliant liar.

Now after six years of claims that Bush was creating a theocracy, we suddenly hear that he has been playing the Christian conservatives for fools. Does that mean that all of the theocracy accusations are going to be retracted? Probably not.

In fact, Christians know quite well that their ability to exploit the pandering tendencies of politicians is miniscule compared to the power of abortionists, gays, unions and illegal aliens. Yes, we are despised. There is nothing new in this. The real choice for us is this: Do we vote for the party that throws a few crumbs to the Christian dogs periodically? Or do we vote for the party that kicks the Christian dogs? The choice still isn't too complicated.
Riding Big Sur
The temperature was in the 60's. This was comfortable, but the scenery wasn't as nice as it could be at the end of the dry season and with the fog layer.

The Lord finally stopped me from coughing so that I could finish this. The 100 miles (actually 98.8) took about 6 hours riding time to cover.

Our original bunch of 200+ riders has been broken up by the hills into small clusters given the wide range of abilities.
You didn't give me 100% of what I want, therefore you are being divisive!

That isn't exactly the way Bill Clinton put it, but I think it correctly sums up the mentality that is driving America apart over the past two decades. That isn't to say that the Republicans don't have their share of the baby boom - spoiled brat mentality. Telling a child "no!" however, is always divisive. My Mom was an extremist - and I am the better for it!
Regarding the Separation of Church and State justified by earlier persecutions.

Note that an argument can be completely brain damaged, but the conclusion it supports may be correct and even valuable. We should, however, produce sensible arguments to support our sensible positions. The formulation of a sensible argument may be quite helpful in refining a fuzzy position to something that is precise enough to be a discussable concept.

The primary logic for a "Separation of Church and State" concept is that when deluded religious people took power and merged their church with the state, they have historically violently persecuted those who would not go along with their church. To put it another way, "we Christians have suffered from persecution in the past, we think that this is horrible, we don't want to repeat it, therfore, we insist that Church should be separated from State."

There are two critical problems here from the Christian perspective. The first is the command to rejoice in our sufferings combined with a promise of persecution. We are here to do God's work. That means that persecutions are to be anticipated and rejoiced in, not loathed and avoided like the plague. In other words, the argument is 100% non-Christian in its key foundational assumption. Because it is simultaneously invoked as a "Baptist" argument, it is clearly intellectual garbage. Find something else.

The other major failure is that it conflates the "bureaucratic church" with the "body of Christ". These overlapping sets are easy to confuse because of the variety of definitions attached to the word "Church". The bureaucratic church in its extreme forms, such as the Roman Catholic Chuch or the Episcopal Church, has been quite violent in protecting bureaucratic priviledges in the name of doctrine or something else. The Body of Christ, however, is the collection of believers who unite together to celebrate our Lord. The only way to enfore a separation of Church and State where the church is the Body of Christ is to make it illegal for Christians to participate in government. A small but noisy minority does believe this, but the majority of Americans aren't this way. Also, this viewpoint suffers from the problem that the Bible assures us that political leaders are appointed by God.

The conclusion for the Separation of Church and State enthusiasts are these:

1) You should figure out what a Church is and isn't and state it clearly. It should be a definition that a majority of Americans can agree on.
2) You need to determine in what manner the Church and State are to be disjoint, given the fact that interaction is inevitable.
3) You need to produce a plausible argument for what you are proposing.

I instinctively feel that some separation at some level is necessary. On the other hand, I have yet to meet someone who seems to have clearly answered the above 3 questions and was adamant about Separation of Church and State.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Best Buddies 100 Mile Bike Ride Starts.

We began just at dawn from a winery in Carmel. I heard that 500 riders participated, although not all did the full 100 mile ride down the Big Sur coast. It is hard to get an appreciation of the magnitude of this with my few pathetic pictures taken while riding in the middle of the bunch.

Maria and Anthony Shriver gave some speaches about the groups effort to help those with intellectual disabilities. Little Christopher Schwarzeneggar fired the gun for the start. He has quite a legacy to live up.

We finished up with a big party at the Heart Ranch featuring a rock concert by Third Eye Blind. The effort raised about $2,500,000 for Best Buddies.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Theocracy Rhetoric vs. Reality.

An article in Christianity Today about a young lady who became a Christian and is trying to marry someone, but having the marriage obstructed by Islamic legalisms provides a nice window into Malaysia's theocracy-lite. The hardcore flavor being in Iran, Saudi Arabia and many other countries. With America's politically motivated hyper-hyperbole causing accusations of theocracy to be carelessly hurled here and there, it is always good to go back and see what the real thing looks like now and then.
Bruce Gourley wrote this little tidbit regarding the Danbury Baptists:

"Their Danbury Baptist forefathers would be horrified, but more and more of today's Baptists, now a majoritarian voice in America, expect and even demand tax dollars to prop up their faith."

Of course a Danbury Baptist forefather would be astounded and horrified if somehow transported into our modern society. There would be much to shock and much to discuss. While discussing, he would soon use the pronoun "he" when he meant "he or she" and be verbally abused for being an insensitive bigot. This would cause the Danbury Baptist forefather to start wondering about the sanity of modern people.

He would observe that the government had grown from perhaps 1% of GDP to 36%. Whereas the Danbury Baptist would gladly handle his Christian responsiblility for education, health care, provisions for the elderly, sick and disabled, ... , now all were handled by the government and his say in things was essentially nothing. Knowing the US Constitution much better than modern people, he would immediately recall the 10th amendment: "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people." He would note that the Christian obligations that he had were unconstitutionally usurped by Federal elites in this modern society.

Next he would look at the schools. He would find them teaching all manner of things contrary to the Bible along with advocating immorality of all kinds. Some feeble Christians would try to stand up and contradict, but when they did, suddenly the Danbury Baptist's letter would be waved in front of everyone: "Separation of Church and State declares that you Christians cannot provide a rebuttal in a government forum, but those of us who advocate immorality have a constitutional right to government funding to teach others our depravity! See, the Danbury Baptists' letter said this!"

Yes, the Danbury Baptist forefather would be horrified as he pleaded with God to be teleported back to his time so that he could re-word his letter.
Singapore's Education System

Having several close relatives who grew up in Singapore, it is always good to compare notes on education systems. Singapore is culturally and linguistically mixed like California but has one of the best education systems in the world. Singapore not only has a highly skilled high-tech workforce but it also exporting talent to the rest of the world. The k-12 education is one of the best in the world.

Supposedly, it is derived from the British system. It has both private and public schools. Compared to the US system, it is competitive and involves choice. There is a lot of pressure on the younger kids to get into the better schools. The private schools, however, are both religious and government subsidized. This is true in a country that was founded on a pseudo-communist coup.

I don't know many of the details of how the government interferes in the private side, but much of it has to do with maintaining standards. The Catholic schools teach manners and just a smattering of Christianity.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

For those who doubt that pederasty is a necessary part of the gay agenda, we have this article. The article also clearly identifies the public health consequences related to homosexual activities that are burried in the American press.
The Economist: A Survey of Talent - Ethics

This is an enormously interesting 15 pages, but one thing that jumped out at me was that there was only a few sentences about ethics and corruption. They noted that on paper, Enron had some of the most talented individuals in the world, but nevertheless, a scandal erupted.

Here in California, the best students in the schools are almost always Indian or Chinese, but there is much discontent: A belief that although Asians are smarter, they are also less honest. For those who do business in China, the corruption factor is huge. Corruption also causes countless business ventures to fail.

But what causes a culture to be more or less corrupt? How can corruption be minimized? And the biggest question of all: Can Secularism teach ethics? If we look at China and Russia as examples of secularism, then the track record is dismal. They have taught that capitalism is merely legalized theft, so why would anyone be honest? Much of the illegal immigration problem has runaway corruption in Mexico as a root cause. I discussed with a local school board candidate regarding this recently. I told him that I don't see how ethics can be taught in a secular setting. Ethics and Religion are inseparable. He challenged that the answer was Gaming Theory: If all cheat, everyone comes out poorer. Of course everyone already knows this, but the clever person still believes that cheating will make him better off.

So my challenge is this: Secular ethics is a fantasy. Our secular education system declares to all Americans that knowledge is important, but ethics are optional.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

On Discussing Differences.

I am, of course, honored to have made Michael's "Discussing the Differences" list. When I was younger, the emphasis would have been on the differences, but as I became older, things have changed. In companies, people of wildly different backgrounds are casually thrown together. If they are going to survive, the emphasis must be on what they can do together rather than the differences.

Michael has proclaimed Jesus as his Lord and Savior. The same is true for me. I will rejoice in the commonality, rather than pointing out the differences. Perhaps I will drop in on his church sometime. I was trying to juggle a schedule to show up at Jim West's church once, but couldn't quite get things to fit. Anyway, for some reason God has given his children some extremely conflicting views on certain matters. As we hash them out, it is always better to stop and dwell on an agreement rather than a difference.
Quote of the Day.

"There is no nation which so readily adopts foreign customs as the Persians. ... As soon as they hear of any luxury, they instantly make it their own: and hence, among other novelties, they have learnt pederasty from the Greeks." - Herodotus I.135
Number of Iraq Dead Suddenly multiplies by 13.1.

And just in time for the election. The more plausible 50,000 casualties is still horrible. The authors of the study are from Johns Hopkins and claim to have done a "household survey" to get their results. That means it is a statistical method since they certainly didn't knock on every door in Iraq. More likely only a small sampling was done that wasn't representative and wild extrapolations were made. The killing, of course, is primarily sectarian as Sunni and Shiite muslims try to kill each other, but this probably is lost in the fine print. America's choices are to either leave and let them get on with killing each other (this is called "pacifism") or keep our forces in the middle and see some of our beloved soldiers die in a near hopeless attempt to keep the peace. May God have mercy on them and us.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Lust for Boys morphs into Lust for Money.

I am not a Catholic, nor much sympathetic to the Catholic distraction. A church is a group of followers of Christ, not a bureaucracy. Still, I believe that the Catholic Church points people to Christ, albeit in a less than efficient manner.

The Catholic Church in the US was soft on gays and is now suffering the consequences. What I really find offensive is the form of "justice" where the gay priests go unpunished, but the parish has its funds confiscated. This is grotesque both because the lawyers who get the money aren't likely to do much charitable with it and it provides a huge incentive for false accusations. If people committed a crime, they should be punished, but don't treat the justice system as an extension of the lottery.
Halfway Pacifist?

This is probably something that will offend everyone, but it is who I am. I love genuine pacifists and I loathe war, but I am not really a pacifist. The Roman centurian was commended for his faith far beyond that of the Jews. It is possible to be in the military and be Christian. There are those who through there convictions in Jesus choose a path of complete pacifism. This is something that I feel is extremely honorable, especially with the Amish.

In honoring true pacifism, however, there is a pacifism that needs to be condemned: The pacifism of convenience. It is one that is selfish in the manner of wanting to cut back on the military so that more handouts can be received from the government. It is one that says war is wrong because what cause could be of more importance than indulging myself? Who is worthy of my sacrifice? Thus in America, as faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, as the Son of God is on the decrease, pacifism is on the rise. Needless to say, a majority of the new pacifism is probably of this convenience kind. Still there is much that is truly pacifist of a Christian kind that I think is honorable and pleasing to the Lord.

The other thing that I loathe is the "nuke 'em all" attitude. Sometimes war is necessary, but we should do everything to limit casualties and heal even our enemies. There is no room for hate and every life is just as precious in God's sight, regardlesss of race, nationality or religion. I look forward to Jesus coming again and putting an end to war.
The Academics Religious Survey.

I am not quite sure what this is trying to prove. The most basic observation, of course, is that survival of the fittest doesn't favor atheism. Otherwise, religion wouldn't have evolved in the first place! OK, I don't believe in evolution, but it is totally unsurprising that a majority of academics believe in God(s) or the existence of a spiritual domain.

A few things that aren't noted: In engineering, a big chunk of the faculty is foreign born, thus the religious beliefs won't correlate with the rest of the population. Christianity presupposes a personal God, so 43% overall is likely not Christian in their teaching perspective. Of the remainder, there are neo-pagans and new agers. A Buddhist or a Muslim might also affirm that the Bible is the word of God.

In the end, the obvious is stated: Academics are spiritual. Christian? Take another survey.
Another Defeat For Intelligent Design.

This in the state of Michigan, which imports the large majority of its intelligent designers from Taiwan, Korea, India and the Middle East. The lawyers and theologians of the ACLU won in court to ban the teaching of intelligent design. Evolution remains the only "scientific" theory that requires a legal ruling to help it survive.
Furnace Creek 508.

A 4-man team from the local triathlon club covered the 508 miles in 34 hours. The winner covered the distance in 28 hours by himself.
Projecting Sins.

"He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed." - 1 Peter 2:24

My sins - of which there are many - were taken care of by Jesus. He took the sins from me through his sacrifice. This is the one example of projecting sins that I think is legitimate.

There are other illegitimate projections. The Bible provides this example:

"It is only by Beelzebub, the prince of demons, that this fellow drives out demons."

Here, the sins of Satan himself are being projected onto Jesus which resulted in the discussion of the "unpardonable sin" which I don't claim to fully understand. What I do conclude, however, is that it is very bad for Christians to go around making accusations of someone else being a sinner with limited sets of facts. Especially, we should not repeat this pattern of the sin of one person being projected onto someone else.

No one has a monopoly on projecting sins. I have certainly done it myself. When Clinton was president, it seemed to me that all of the crime in Arkansas was being laid at his feet by some Republicans. This was wrong. Tom Foley did some disgusting things, but now we are presented with rhetoric that almost implies that the Republicans approved of, and maybe invented pederasty! Kim Jong Il attempts to fire a nuke and voila, President Bush is the culprit! With every suicide bombing of a market done by Islamic terrorists, we suddenly find that Christian Fundamentalists have become more dangerous!

We should stop projecting one man's sin onto another for our own political gain. It is enough for the sins of the world to be projected onto the cross.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Not quite beating swords into plowshares.

This is the rather fancy Mount Dana sign in registry. It was left in an ammo box on the mountain top, presumably because ammo boxes can handle the weather well and are easy to get in and out of, even when you are dizzy from the altitude. It is always nice to see military things put to peaceful use.
What is Kim Jong Il up to???

Timing is everything. With South Korea desperate to appease North Korea and the US mired in the sands of Iraq, any tangible threats to North Korea are just ghosts in Kim Jong Il's mind. Perhaps he was upset that Tom Foley was getting more attention than him? By apparently detonating a nuke just a few weeks before the US election, he has certainly changed the discussion. The left lost only a few nanoseconds before going into hyper-spin mode, as can be seen from this post. Apparently North Korea was a well respected member of the international community and an example of good government until President Bush started calling them names!

As always, I try to point to a third, hopefully Christian way. You can't bomb an evil spirit. You can't appease one either.
On Contrition

"The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise." Psalm 51:17

I remember watching a move, The Mission. These days one becomes jaded to all of the violence. What jumped out of this movie at me was the formal apology of a priest who was formerly a soldier to others whom he had correctly accused. It was the part that was most alien to our culture.

Why is it that contrition is in such short supply in our culture? Church members fight and then sit on grievances for decades. I too have hurt people who are long gone and I wish I could find them again to apologize for my mean and selfish behavior. Where are the examples, even among Christians? I would be happier if politicians would feign genuine contrition, because even this would be an improvement over what we get when they are caught. If Christians are never contrite, who will ever be?

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Are You Grossed Out Yet?

Prepare to be. Thanks to Tom Foley, the news media has a perfect opportunity to put gay sex on display for all to puke at from now until the election. Just don't expect them to call it normal gay sex. The far left will profess to be offended for a few more weeks. Then they will try to promote holy ceremonies to sanctify it.
There Goes The Neighborhood.

I grew up in Knoxville, Tennessee. My family moved there when I was young and moved away when I went to college, so we scattered to the four winds. Two doors down lived David Keith who went to Hollywood to make his fortune. Two doors away in a different direction lived Randy Nash, who went to Hong Kong as a missionary before settling in at Los Osos, California as a pastor.

My big brother signed me up for a bike ride from Carmel to Hearst Castle down the Big Sur coast this coming Saturday. The next day we are supposed to see Randy at his church which is near the end of the ride. I haven't seen him for more than 25 years and am looking forward to it. First, however, I must ride the 100 miles with Best Buddies as part of their charity program. Maria Shriver showed up last time, but her hubby didn't. Maybe the Governator will show up this time.
Love your Enemies.

This article about the Amish attending the funeral of the killer strikes me as a good Christian testimony. Of course, it might be more challenging if the killer were still alive and happily roaming the neighborhood. Although I won't claim to being a pacifist, I think it is good and proper for Christians to mourn those who die, especially our enemies. There should be no gloating over the death or misfortunes of anyone in a church that professes to be Christian.
High Plains Biker.

The road from Lee Vining, Ca to Hawthorne, NV is 55 miles with no services in between. I wasn't up for the full 110 miles, so I did 40 miles out and 40 miles back. That meant carrying a full Camelbak and two water bottles to be self sufficient plus spares and tools. It was mostly downhill and downwind going out, which is the bad way to do things. You can see about 15 miles of road in this picture.

This is next to Mono Lake where Clint Eastwood filmed High Plains Drifter. Bodie is a nice place to visit if you ever come out here.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Faith and Science.

"Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for." - Hebrews 11:1-2

Having done scientific computing for most of my career, this verse has a special meaning to me. Sometimes I spend weeks or months deriving formulas and programming them. Eventually there reaches a point where I need to turn the computer on and run things. How do I know it will work? If it doesn't work, what will I do? Faith drives everything. Faith that the underlying assumptions and derivations are correct. Faith that the programming is correct. Faith that the computer will come on. Faith in people who give me data. Faith that formulas I started with are correct. Faith in this. Faith in that. In fact, I don't see how anything in science or engineering would be possible without faith. Double that needed faith for quantum mechanics. Darwinists have more faith than anyone else on the planet!

So why is it that there are so many people out there trying to write books on how to reconcile faith with science? I am not sure when, but probably a century or so ago some pinhead intellectuals, who were neither religious nor scientists, decreed that there was a conflict between faith and science. Since pinheads rule, this stupidity was repeated over and over until intelligent people started believing it. As for me, I think the best way to handle things is just to diss the pinheads and move on. Faith and science are inseparable.
Extreme Dieting Result.

I finally weighed myself again. It was 210 before the Mammoth trip began, but now is 196. Not bad for a few days. Probably 2 pounds per day was going on some of the more severe days. Now I just need to heed Jim's admonition about glutony and stay consistent.

The picture is looking down at Tioga Pass road from Mount Dana.
What do you see?

Answer: Sand. This is an annoying place to run. The sand is coarser and easier to run on than beach sand, but a few miles of this will slow you and wear you down. This is about 11,000' elevation along Mammoth Crest.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Pregnancy Choice Clinic Fund Raiser.

That was this evening's entertainment. They are a mostly volunteer run organization providing counseling and assistance to those who are pondering parenthood. Focus on the Family sent a speaker over to greet us and remind us of the provision of an ultrasound scanner. Mike Williams provided a wonderful mix of comedy and Christian sharing. There was some discussion of Planned Parenthood's policy of abort first, ask questions later. It is always nice to know that there are other choices.
Public School Thoughts.

The young girl poudly presented a diploma from Newark High School. She was applying for an assembly job at the company. She had also brought along a translator because she didn't know any English. The HR manger guessed that all wasn't rosy with the California public school system.

As the debate continues over whether or not homeschooling should be permitted, the real issues get shunted to the side. Detroit, thanks to unions, produces and overpriced but inferior product. Thus, I have never bought an American car, even though I always shop for one before making a final choice. America's union driven public schools accomplish the same: an overpriced, but inferior education. When this issue is addressed, then we will have the credibility to engage the homeschoolers.
California and Marriage.

The California Appeals Court just rejected another attempt to overturn the state laws and make institution of gay marriage the property of gay activists. They plan to appeal. The decision noted that gays already effectively have everything that marriage provides through 'civil unions'. Why is this not enough?

Marriage is a fundamental concept of religion. In this case, legislation on marriage by the government makes the concept of separation of church and state completely retarded. They are hopelessly intertwined, unless the government completely rescinds all laws regarding families. So the question isn't whether or not a religion will be established, because that isn't an option. The question is which religion will be established.
Surrealism and American Politics.

It just keeps on growing. The Republican spending spree being the start. Now, however, we see that the recent scandal involving Tom Foley (good riddance) having the perverse effect of helping Nancy Pelosi from San Francisco to take charge of the House of Representatives. Just what we need! San Francisco to lead America towards a chaste future!

Thursday, October 05, 2006

The tragedy and the Amish.

Give thanks to God for the testimony of the Amish these days. With all of the cynicism in the world, these simple people teach forgiveness in a way that is truly Christian. May God's comfort and blessings be upon the families who lost their daughters in this tragedy.
Be Careful When You Visit France.

It is a beautiful country, but doesn't have any future.
An Early Start for the Whitney Climb.
Remembering the Flat Earth Theory.

Actually, Fundamentalists should probably have a Flat Earth Theory Commemoration Day as a monument to this awesome work. In case anyone is confused, the Flat Earth Theory was invented by Washington Irving for his novel about Christopher Columbus around about the year 1800. The ancient Greeks had already obtained a fairly accurate measurement of the circumference of the Earth 2,000 years earlier. Ship navigation was all founded on a round earth theory. When Columbus lived, the Universities of Europe and the Church were enamored with the teachings of the ancient Greeks who believed the Earth to be a perfect sphere. Thus, the original Flat Earth Theory was really just a joke concocted by Washington Irving.

Unfortunately, some people lack a sense of humor. Dr. Andrew Dickson White, professor of History and founder of Cornell University was mad at Jesus, so he wrote his book, "A History of the Warfare of Science with Theology", 1895. He wasn't the first, but he was perhaps the most notable in presenting the Flat Earth Theory as something that ignorant Christians had actually believed. Given his credentials in history, it is clear that he was suffering from some severe mental pathology. For anyone wanting to join his university, the message was also quite clear: denounce the Bible or leave. What is wonderful about this book is that Dr. White has unwittingly linked the Flat Earth Theory with Darwinism and old-Earth geology as things that intellectuals fabricate when they are angry!

The reason that we should commemorate the Flat Earth Theory is to serve as a reminder of the fanatical hostility to the Bible that raged across the intellectual scene of much of the 19th and 20th century. It is also a reminder of what "inerrancy" was all about. It wasn't nitpicking about spelling or dates. Inerrancy was a rebuttal to the Andrew Dickson Whites of the world.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

The Foley matter gets more interesting by the hour.

If Matt Drudge is correct, then the MSM outted a gay politician for nothing more than partisan gain and then embelished the story with the goal of triggering a criminal investigation and a scandal. Some things that I am tempted to conclude:

1) Even for the left, "sexual orientation" is nothing but a tool to be exploited for partisan advantage.
2) In spite of the complete incompetence of the Republicans, the Democrats don't believe they have anything of substance to offer the American people.
3) President Bush is wrong when he thinks that American democracy is better for the middle east.
Question: Why did the fundamentalist climb the mountain?

Reference: Revelation 16 - "The seventh angel poured out his bowl ... Every island fled away and the mountains could not be found."

Answer: Because it is there, but it might not be for much longer!

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Thus Saith The Lord: STOP!

But it is less than 1,000 feet of elevation gain to the top.
Would you like to see your family again? Would you like to teach the Jr. High children about Jesus? Or would you rather be a marker on this mountain?
OK. :(

The weather was beautiful for the Whitney climb, but there were a few problems. First, the Asics trail running shoes are really bad on slippery ice, of which the last storm left a lot on the trails. Next time, bring North Face trail runners with spikes.

The bigger problem, however, is that God has blessed me with an exercise induced asthma that gets really bad when it is cold out. I was coughing almost uncontrollably and really needed to get down to warmer air, so this is about where I turned around. The Lord is good.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Is Saudi Arabia Voting Republican?

I am basing this speculation on the price of oil. Also note that I consider the average Middle Eastern politician to have about 20 to 30 points higher IQ than his Western counterpart. Saudi Arabia is the only country in the world that can unilaterally change the price of oil. They are also watching the Middle East situation with a much clearer view than America's hysteria fogged view(s). The Republican's need cheap oil if they are to survive the election in a few weeks. Therefore, I conclude that the Saudi Arabians prefer the Republican's view of the Middle East to that of the Democrats!
Some Snow

The snow level came down to about 10,000' last night. Tomorrow morning is my Mount Whitney attempt. I will get up at 4:00am for the 100 mile drive to Whitney Portal and start the 21 mile hike/run. It is supposed to get colder overnight and windy. Lord willing, this will be accomplished without trouble.
Keith Ellison for Congress

While the beliefs of Republicans are being hyper-scrutinized, the beliefs of Democrats are generally off limits, with the notable exception of Joe Lieberman. Keith Ellison is set to become the first Muslim member of congress for a district in Minnesota. His flavor of Islam, however, is the Nation of Islam's racism-centric brand.
Remembering Star Wars.

This is for Michael, since he jogged my memory. Enjoy.

The phone rang. I was needed at a critical meeting that was already in progress. When I arrived, there were about a dozen of Livermore Lab's top Ph.D. structural engineers waiting. I needed a quick briefing to find out what was going on. Reagan's Star Wars initiative was just getting going and LLNL was the lead. They needed to design the next generation of space weaponry that was going to be able to point, track and shoot at things 1,000 kilometers away. Not only had LLNL chosen it's best, but they had hired several outside consultants, internationally famous professors, to help them.

Instead of a meeting room full of Ph.D. geniuses, however, I saw a room full of UC Berkeley and UC Davis civil engineers. I knew them all. There was one "Systems Engineer". Civil engineers design using steel, asphalt and concrete. They design bridges, roads, dams and tunnels all connected to the ground. The connected-to-the-ground part effects all of their treatment of large scale structural analysis. Somehow, I didn't think that this spacecraft they were designing was going to be made of reinforced concrete and attached to the moon. In fact, the only one who would ever be threatened by space weaponry designed by this group were the ones near the launch pad. The meeting didn't go well as I tried to explain to them that people had addressed the not-connected-to-the-ground structures problem before, but typically in the aerospace engineering department. In a way, Star Wars was the biggest scam in high tech history. A true stroke of genius.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Republican Politicians Despise Republicans.

That is all I can conclude from the latest scandal involving Tom Foley. The timing may smell of partisanship, but the Republicans begged for it. MSM, go get 'em!

UPDATE: According to this and other sources, some creative people on the Left weren't content to let Tom Foley take the blame for his sins.

UPDATE 2: I am going to go out on a limb and suggest that the Foley-Page affair was probably first discovered by some Democratic operatives. Yes, Foley deserves everything he gets, but the timing and the way things are being packaged to point at Hastert are much too neat.
A Storm Is Coming.

I drove down to Lone Pine today to get my permit to climb Mount Whitney on Tuesday. Coming back to Mammoth, the clouds were blowing over the top of 11,000' Mammoth Mountain. The ranger at Lone Pine said snow down to 7,500', so this should be a challenge on Tuesday.
What, No Zwinglian Church?

The only church in Mammoth that I saw was this Lutheran one. I needed a rest badly today and was glad to visit. The sign said that Sunday School starts at 9:00AM and worship at 10:00AM, so I joined in with the Sunday School. Pastor John Gross and I were the entire Sunday School program! We had a nice chat about the second half of Romans chapter 1. The congregation of about 60 or so people showed up at 10:00 promptly. I was expecting a flock of snowboarders, rock climbers and mountain bikers, but it was mostly retirees.