Thursday, February 28, 2008

Ignatius and Trajan.

Ignatius was bishop of Antioch and a disciple of the John the apostle. The story of his execution tells of how Trajan had come to Syria and was the judge who saw Ignatius and condemned him. An excerpt of this follows:

"For Trajan, in the ninth year of his reign, being lifted up with pride, after the victory he had gained over the Scythians and Dacians, and many other nations, and thinking that the religious body of the Christians were yet wanting to complete the subjugation of all things to himself, and thereupon threatening them with persecution unless they should agree to worship daemons, as did all other nations, thus compelled all who were living godly lives either to sacrifice to idols or die."

Although implying that Trajan instigated a persecution, the same story begins with something else:

"Wherefore he (Ignatius) rejoiced over the tranquil state of the Church, when the persecution ceased for a little time, but was grieved as to himself, that he had not yet attained to a true love to Christ, nor reached the perfect rank of a disciple. For he inwardly reflected, that the confession which is made by martyrdom, would bring him into a yet more intimate relation to the Lord. Wherefore, continuing a few years longer with the Church, and, like a divine lamp, enlightening every one's understanding by his expositions of the Holy Scriptures, he at length attained the object of his desire."

Thus, it seems to be a bit of inconsistency in the story. One paragraph says that Trajan was active in seeking out Christians to persecute. The other that Ignatius was the one seeking out martyrdom. Perhaps a mix?

This is a peculiar case, however, where history provides us another part of the story, because the Roman governor, Pliny, sent Trajan a letter asking what to do about Christians and Trajan provided an answer:

"You have adopted the right course, my dearest Secundus, in investigating the charges against the Christians who were brought before you. It is not possible to lay down any general rule for all such cases. Do not go out of your way to look for them. If indeed they should be brought before you, and the crime is proved, they must be punished; with the restriction, however, that where the party denies he is a Christian, and shall make it evident that he is not, by invoking our gods, let him (notwithstanding any former suspicion) be pardoned upon his repentance. Anonymous informations ought not to be received in any sort of prosecution. It is introducing a very dangerous precedent, and is quite foreign to the spirit of our age." - Letters of Gaius Plinius Caecilius Secundus, The Harvard Classics, vol. 8.

In the account of the martyrdom of Ignatius, it appears that he alone was targeted for execution, so it seems to me that the account of Trajan to Pliny was the more accurate one regarding the policies of the time. Certainly a martyrdom is still a martyrdom. Trajan had Ignatius executed solely for his profession of Jesus. As for me, well, perhaps when I am a bit older and ready to die, perhaps I too should seek out a place where Christianity is illegal and try to give my testimony. Waziristan seems like a good destination ...

Another tidbit about Ignatius is that he had a nickname, Theophorus, which means "carrying god". Many early Christians took on second names just as Simon became Peter and Joseph became Barnabas. Given his early position in the church, this nickname was likely given by the Apostles directly. Of course Jesus Christ lives in us as Christians, and we have communion directly with God as a result. No need for priests when you can go direct. No need for temples, because if God lives in us, then we are the temple.

This was around dawn, but the camera makes it look darker than it was. A night time run in the redwoods would really be beautiful.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

William F. Buckley, RIP.

I would have to rank him as one of the most important thinkers of the 20th century. Obviously I am a conservative!

Buckley got his start in an era where left-wing intellectuals were triumphant and those who disagreed generally were smart enough to keep their mouth shut or to speak softly. Certainly smarts never contradicted leftist, because smarts were the exclusive property of leftist. The Christian Right didn't exist at this time, but Buckley as a Roman Catholic paved the way for a complete transformation. In God and Man at Yale, the bright young Buckley talked back to the left wing intellectuals, founding a movement and putting some intellectual backbone to the conservative intellectual movement. Conservative no longer simply meant blindly refusing to accept "change" was the only thing that a thinking person could believe. It meant using your mind to consider what parts of our conservative traditions were actually based on good thinking, and challenging those who are totally blind in advocating change towards madness, while noisily insisting they are enlightened.

With generic "change" for the glorification of change being the focus of the current presidential debates, it is good to remember that someone stood for reason as a guide to determining what "change" would be best.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Another Global Freezing Report.
Agnostic Eschatology?

(This post is inspired by the Exiled Preacher.)

Probably this will offend just about everyone, but, well, I think it is the only reasonable response.

My Reformed Theology friends insist that you must be Amillennial or you are flirting with heresy. My other Dispensationalist friends seem to think that the Reformed folk are risking their salvation by not blessing the nation of Israel. Of course both groups profess Jesus Christ as Lord and are fairly similar on much of the rest of the gospel message. So where should I be? Well, the proper American response is both! But the skeptic inside of me says neither!

So where do I stand on all this? To put it simply, I believe that the New Testament teaches that people can go to heaven without a particularly sophisticated eschatology. The thief on the cross comes to mind as a particular example. The other fact is that I don't have time to wade through all of the arguments one way or another. Thus, I stick with what the Bible says plainly: Jesus will come again. There will be a bodily resurrection. There will be a judgment. ... There are a few other things we can say about the future, but dogmatic assertions about the order and meaning of millennium, tribulation, anti-Christ and other things strikes me as futile. Breaking up a church over these disputes seems like madness.

So that is where I will leave things. I don't know if I am pre-mil, post-mil, a-amil, sub-mil, or sub-micron. I only know that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night and we must be ready.
"*****SPAM***** Re: Pick Up Eye Glasses"

This is today's breathtaking feat of Artificial Intelligence. My wife sent me the e-mail, and I responded with "sure, honey" and The Machines determined that this was spam. Sarah Conner, where are you? The future threat isn't from chess machines. It is from runaway robots roaming the planet looking for *****SPAM***** to terminate, which is you and me.

Monday, February 25, 2008

More Depressing News: After spending countless billions of dollars on anti-depressants like Prozac a study shows that anti-depressants are not statistically better than placebos.

This is Berry Falls in Big Basin Redwoods State Park. Actually, it is only about half of the falls. It is probably the best hike in the San Francisco Bay Area for scenery. Hardly anyone was here last Saturday, but the storm warnings probably scared people away.
Why do professors trend left?

The article notes that current statistics show about 90% of faculty being leftists. Bill Buckley first described this in God and Man at Yale in the early 1950s. I would argue that the trend is far older, going back at least to the late 18th century in Europe.

This article is interesting because it contradicts the two primary views as to why this imbalance occurs: The Left's answer is that leftists are inherently smarter. The Right's answer is that once a sufficient number of leftist formed the core of a university faculty, they discriminated in favor of like thinking candidates. This paper has a different answer: The values of the Left are better suited to the pursuit of Ph.d's then the values of the Right. In other words, people are self-sorting based on shared values. Getting a Ph.d. is certainly a pain, even if you are smart, and this kind of pain comes with no gain.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Since Satan is the theme being discussed by Livingsword and Max, I thought I should toss in a photo of Mount Diablo. In case anyone doesn't know, diablo means devil and is related to the word diabolical. If you go hiking on the mountain in August, the reason for the choice of the name becomes apparent.
Philo's argument of Intelligent Design, from Allegorical Interpretation, III, sec. 97.

"Let us now, then, examine what the character which is impressed upon man is. The ancient philosophers used to inquire how we obtained our conceptions of the Deity? Men who, those who seemed to philosophize in the most excellent manner, said that from the world and from its several parts, and from the powers which existed in those parts, we formed our notions of the Creator and cause of the world. For as if a man were to see a house carefully built and well provided with outer courts and porticoes, and men's chambers and women's chambers, and all other necessary apartments, he would form a notion of the architect; for he would never suppose that the house had been completed without skill and without a builder; and, as he would argue in the same manner respecting any city, or any ship, or anything whatever that is made, whether it be great or small, so likewise any one entering this world, as an exceedingly large house or large city, and seeing the heaven revolving round it in a circle and comprehending everything within, and all the planets and fixed starts moving onwards in the same manner and on the same principles, all in regular order and in due harmony and in such a manner as is most advantageous for the whole created universe, and the earth stationed in the central situation, and the effusions of air and water affixed on the boundaries, and moreover, all the animals both mortal and immortal, and the different kinds of plants and fruits, he will surely consider that undoubtedly all these things were not made without skill, but that God both was and is the creator of this whole universe. They, then who draw their conclusions in this manner perceive God in his shadow, arriving at a due comprehension of the artist through his works."

In this we also see that Philo has embraced the Greek notion of the Earth at the center of the universe, but this isn't central to his argument. Philo was, however, quite influential among early Christian teachers so we must correct immediately the notion that the Christians were somehow hostile to the naturalistic philosophy of the Greeks. A few things to note:
1) Philo's argument does not come from the Hebrew scriptures at all.
2) Philo attributes the notion of a creator god as being something that was deduced by philosophers, and not the product of divine revelation at all.
3) This is clearly an Intelligent Design argument, although it is written before 50AD (50CE for those who don't read Latin abbreviations).
4) We can deduce that ID was not first invented by the Discovery Institute or southern rednecks who never went to school.
5) I still find Philo's arguments to be superior to the best of what has been achieved to the contrary: "ID isn't a valid explanation because scientists say so".

Saturday, February 23, 2008

This morning I went for a run in Big Basin Redwoods. It is a beautiful park, but photographing redwoods is always difficult.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Vallejo, California's new 911 system: "This is the Vallejo emergency hotline. If you have a life threatening emergency such as a heart attack, an armed robbery or a major chemical spill, please leave a message after the beep and we will respond within three business days."
UK to Rambo: Get Lost.

Well, what to make of the world's most crude and sarcastic culture going politically correct? Is it a sign of the End Times? Unfortunately I am not a scholar of Biblical eschatology, so I don't know how to interpret this sign, but surely something apocalyptic is on the way ...

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Gravity vs. Evolution again ...

Consider this example definition: "The theory of gravity is the motion of planets." Of course we have the Ptolemaic and Copernican explanations for the motion of planets. Then there was Kepler, Newton and Einstein, followed by the new quantum mechanical models. Defining the theory of gravity as the motion of planets includes all of these explanations. It would have been correct to say that a gravitation theory will explain the motion of the planets. Kepler's rules give us a specific and useful model about how planets move, but don't really constitute a theory of gravity.

Now someone can protest that this statement necessarily implies the most modern, accepted theory. The problem here is that the most recent models are quantum mechanical models, but they are computationally useless. The relativistic model is also too complex and unnecessary for routine use, thus, the Newtonian model is used much more often. Then there is the fact that the Earth is so large compared to most objects we work with and the dynamics covering such a small range that we frequently resort to a Galileo's model with constant gravitational acceleration. Actually this is the most common for engineering calculations. A more precise definition of gravity is mandatory.

The current "scientific" definition of evolution is this: "Evolution is the change in allele frequency from one generation to the next". What is wrong with this is that allele frequency changes are the product of countless theories. Even the Lamarkian evolution theory is permissible under this definition. It encompasses everything and excludes nothing, thus, it isn't a basis for anything. The definition of the theory of evolution is really just an illusion.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Falsification and pre-cambrian rabbit fossils.

Of course there are no pre-cambrian rabbit fossils. Darwinistas have cited this as an example that would falsify evolution, and thus claim that evolution meets Popper's criteria that a scientific theory should be falsifiable. There is a problem here, however: The classification of the rock layer (cambrian, pre-cambrian or whatever) is done primarily on the basis of the fossils present.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Bunc's challenge regarding falsifiability.

This is one I like very much. First of all, I have not asserted that ID is science, although ID certainly exists. Recent work in Genetic Engineering have expanded the set of ID examples into biology, so, well, ... are we going to falsify the sun and the moon? It is true that a statement, "God created life", isn't falsifiable by itself, but in the exact same sense "Life evolved from the primordial ooze" isn't falsifiable either.

Unlike ID, evolution does purport to be a scientific theory. Is it falsifiable? In fact it isn't falsifiable because: a) The theory can evolve drastically to accommodate data and needn't be consistent b) The theory permits the inclusion of unknowable data points (missing links) c) The theory permits unlimited speculation regarding incomplete data sets (fossils). Thus, per Karl Popper's requirement, evolution isn't falsifiable.

The related issue to falsifiability is the precision of a theory. A theory should not be vague and multifarious, but precise per Chalmers in "What is this thing call Science?". Unfortunately, evolution is indeed vague and multifarious. In fact, to the extent evolution is synonymous with change - as is commonly used by educators - evolution reaches the theoretical limit of vague and multifarious. Biologists have attempted to narrow the scope a tad, but a quick look at books by Richard Dawkins shows that vague and multifarious is inescapable, even for professional renowned biologists.

A current popular definition for evolution is this: "Evolution can be defined as any change in the frequency of alleles in populations of organisms from generation to generation". Although it sounds nice, the immediate question is whether or not we can measure the change in frequency of alleles in populations of organisms from generation to generation? Unfortunately, the answer is no. Furthermore, evolution proceeded for nearly a century without any comprehension of what an allele was. Clearly another definition was being employed. Admittedly, I don't have a problem with the allele based definition, because nothing can be deduced about origins from the definition, any more than we could deduce that Frau Benz was the world's first motorist based on observing the wear and tear on modern Fords. It is all a giant non sequitor.
Buncs response, and some discussion.

"I see again what you are getting at here. Your reasoning is an attempt to distance much of scientific theorising from the hard "theory" of mathematical induction and the (arguably) small areas of physics which have something of this character.

The use of the phrase meta-narrative again is simply an attempt, and a transparent one at that, to equate the reasoning in the "softer" sciences with the sort of meta-narrative that takes place around our cultural or historical knowledge or experience. Again you are misusing the phrase - although you seem to acknowledge that your usage is your own.

No scientist would disagree that the process of scientific theorising of different from that of pure mathematical reasoning.

The meat of the issue remains this - that scientific "pattern recongition" and "theorising" about observations is subject to the test of falsifiablity. It is also tested by its predictive ability. It is tested by the fact that it's adherents do not subscribe to their "meta-narratives" with religious zeal and are open to counter-proof.

This is very different from meta-narratives which by their nature are assumed to be true.

You are distorting the meaning of the phrase simply to try to conflate scientific reasoning with with cultural/religious/historical meta-narratives. It don't wash and you are being mischevious.

Scientists are in fact quite aware of the status of "theory" in the different branches of science.

Your purpose, transparently, is to ultimately infer that current theories of evolution are simply some form of meta-narrative and without formal logical status.

But the truth is that no scientist ever claims that a scientific theory holds the "ultimate truth" - only the religious search for such a thing.

Scientific "truth" is always conditional - conditional on the result of the next observation, the next experiment, the next better explantory theory. This is what makes science so powerful.

Current explanations of the facts of evolution will probably not be the last word. But this is like physics at the turn of the last century. The theories of that time were not so much wrong as they were incomplete and they had not delved into the more fundamental mechanisms.

As you know both the Theory of special relativity and quantum mechanics make very accurate pre-dictions. But to date no way has been found of reconciling the two.

That does not mean that they are wrong. They are simply,like all scientific theories, approximations and models and no doubt one day a more overarching theory will be found that encompasses both.

Nevertheless both reasoning in the biological sciences and reasoning in the physical sciences remains very different from faith based theorising. That is what ID is - it is simply fath based "theorising" which lacks even the "pattern recognition" basis that you dismiss as meta-narrative."

Of course, inductive reasoning must precede scientific theory. We observe patterns and gradually build them into theory. The final result of inductive reasoning is a "meta-narrative", per my usage, which allows us to take short cuts as we proceed through life. This is a universal property of human reason.

Formally induction proceeds by enumerating instances (examples) and looking for patterns. For example, if fundamentalist A is pigheaded, and fundamentalist B is pigheaded, and there are no known instances of fundamentalists who aren't pigheaded, inductive reasoning permits us to deduce the meta-narrative, "fundamentalists have the property of pigheadedness". Intelligent Design (ID) is a straightforward application of induction: A Ferrari is cool gadget that is invented. A Wii is cool that is invented. All known cool gadgets are invented, therefore, cool gadgets are invented. Picking up my cell biology book I observe that biology has lots of cool gadgets, therefore I conclude that they too are invented. Naive? Perhaps, but without someone telling me otherwise, I have no basis to reject what I see with my own eyes.

Darwin too was doing a form of inductive reasoning. He was observing finches and concluded that the most probable explanation for their diversity in the Galapagos was due to biological change. Note here that Darwin's instance is a postulated instance, whereas the ID argument is formed on the basis of much more concrete instances. Darwin combined this with other known instances of biological change and deduced that all biological change is the result of natural biological change and that all biological entities have a common ancestor. The Achilles heel of the Darwinian meta-narrative is the "common ancestor", as this is a cool gadget, but has no commonality at all with the other instances of the Darwinian inductive instance set. The friendliest way to resolve this is simply to say that there exist two competing, but equally valid meta-narratives that produce a conflicting conclusion regarding prehistoric events.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Barkley's now famous comments:

"Well, I think they — they want to be judge and jury. Like, I’m for gay marriage. It’s none of my business if gay people want to get married. I’m pro-choice. And I think these Christians — first of all, they’re supposed to be — they’re not supposed to judge other people. But they’re the most hypocritical judge of people we have in this country. And it bugs the hell out of me. They act like their Christians. And they’re not forgiving at all."

The problem regarding marriage is this: Marriage is an issue for the government because we believe it is an important institution for the society. Bringing in gay marriage means adjusting this institution to accommodate the whims of gay gangbangers and transexuals. What does the institution of marriage look like for gay gangbangers? Basically, the institution will be distorted out of all recognition. But if the institution of marriage is so pliable, then how can it be of societal importance to the level that the government is involved? Sooner or later we need to decide whether there is any value at all to healthy families or not.

Regarding the pro-choice issue, my understanding is that minors are frequently kidnapped and given abortions against their will. A relative in Massachusetts was nagged by state social workers to get a free abortion during her third pregnancy. I am not sure which universe actually believes in choice.

OK, I am a hypocrite. Of course we can all avoid being hypocrites by throwing all our moral standards out the window. Those who are amoral are never hypocrites.
Another note to myself: Put Lyotard's book on postmodernism onto the reading list.
Theories, Meta-narratives and Inductive Reasoning.

Human intelligence is based on observing our surroundings and doing pattern recognition to try to form rules about how things likely work. As we face new situations, our experiences tell us how to address them more efficiently by employing rules that we have developed from experience. These rules are essentially meta-narratives when they involve events rather than simply objects.

In mathematics, there is a formal form of this called mathematical induction which we typically learn in high school. Some narrow branches of physics also have patterns that are fairly similar to the mathematical form. In general, however, reality is simply too complex to be treated this way and we are left with a fuzzy inductive reasoning rather than a formal mathematical one. Unfortunately, the pretense of the formal is maintained even as we perform the most fuzzy of reasoning.

A related issue that I have faced many times is the implementation of design rules that an engineer learned from experience into a Computer Aided Design package. Precise rules are needed for the computer that cannot break, but the fuzzy results of inductive reasoning are extraordinarily difficult to quantify. Usually something that approximates the fuzzy meta-narrative can eventually be produced, but this can be a large number of simple steps involving sorting, searching and the employment of various low level physics formulas. Having accomplished this, however, the result is usually valid for a limited class of design problems. If we move outside the intended design space, the meta-narratives change and the sequence of steps needed to implement it on the computer is no longer valid.

At this point, I must admit that the definitions here are my own based on what seems to me to be good. A meta-narrative is the fuzzy high level rules that are developed regarding design. A theory is a low level building block that is precise and directly implementable on the computer. This too is a meta-narrative, but it is a simple fact that there are somethings that there are some things which are precise and some which are vague. Another feature of the vague meta-narrative in engineering is that it rarely leads to a unique solution when implemented as a series of precise steps using theories as building blocks.

To summarize, a scientific meta-narrative tends to be high level, vague and certainly not lending itself to a unique implementation. A scientific theory is low level, precise in form and directly implementable on a computer due the the specificity of the mathematics. Both are products of inductive reasoning that occur over periods of time, perhaps by many investigators.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Meta-narratives, Country Music, and David Coe.

Any discussion of meta-narratives would be incomplete without America's country music singers having their input. Towards the end of this song, there is an interlude and David philosophizes about the meta-narrative of Country Music. This also is a great example of the distinction between the meta-narrative as a list and the translation of that list into a story.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

What is a meta-narrative?

The word meta-narrative seems to be an important concept in both philosophy and theology, but the more I listen to people defining it the more I am left shaking my head. Probably I would never have understood it, but then we have the concept of meta-data in object oriented programming, and this is something that I was able to grasp and employ. This has just increased my frustration level, however, as it is now even clearer that the word is being mis-employed to leave a whole generation of young people confused by their teachers.

My favorite example to explain a meta-narrative is Batman, since this doesn't get into anything that people are defensive about and should make the clarification easier. Most of us can quickly recognize any Batman movie, cartoon or comic book. Our mind has a bit of pattern recognition stored that allows us to do this, but the process is extremely complex.

We could, however, try to identify the common elements that make up a Batman production, but what would these be? There is primarily the character Bruce Wayne, who likes to dress up in bat-ish costumes that hide his true identity. He is good at marshal arts, but technology provides the edge as he fights crime and corruption. He is rich, lives in a mansion and has an English butler who is unreasonably loyal. Then there is the exotic and colorful criminal in Gotham city which is replete with corruption - almost as bad as Washington, but patterned after New York. If we collect all of those elements together, we have the Batman meta-narrative. If someone is to construct a new Batman script, he will need to conform mostly to the meta-narrative, while hopefully providing an interesting twist from what has gone before.

The media is full of meta-narratives, but political meta-narratives are also common. Whatever Bush does in the Middle East is interpreted by leftists as having something to do with big oil. If he eats a Gyro sandwich, it will somehow be twisted into the big-oil meta-narrative. Whatever Bill Clinton does, on the other hand, will be twisted to have something to do with sex and young ladies. Obama is using all his powers of vacuous rhetorical persuasion to construct a meta-narrative of change, although there aren't any specific change instances that he can cite to support the meta-narrative.

Science too, has its meta-narratives, which are frequently and erroneously confused with theories.

Friday, February 15, 2008

BBC: Warming risks Antarctic sea life.

University of Illinois Polar Research Group plots of today's southern hemisphere ice cover:

In case you can't read the graph, it shows that the antarctic ice cover during their current summer (the northern hemisphere's current winter) has been as much as 2 million square kilometers more than the expected values for the dates based on the last 29 years of satellite data.

The BBC's contradicting source is the usual amorphous gaggle of "scientists" who apparently have a much longer, 40 million year view of the data.

UPDATE: Is it Getting Too Warm for Penguins?

Time magazine has published a similar article to the BBC's.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Dude, you are safe.

"These are the birds you are to detest and not eat because they are detestable: the eagle, the vulture, ... the gull ... " - Leviticus 11:13-19

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Monday, February 11, 2008

How long will you lie there, you sluggard? When will you get up from your sleep? - Proverbs 6:9

Yes, Monterey is a nice place to lay around.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Philo vs. Paul

For those who like to study the book of Romans, this little comparison jumped out at me:

Philo (Allegorical Interpretations 1 105-106):

"What, then, are we to say? Surely that death is of two kinds; the one being the death of the man, the other the peculiar death of the soul ...

When, therefore, God says, "to die the death," you must remark that he is speaking of that death which is inflicted as punishment, and not of that which exists by the original ordinance of nature. The natural death is that one by which the should is separated from the body. But the one which is inflicted as a punishment, is when the soul dies according to the life of virtue, and lives only according to the life of vice."

and Paul write (Romans 6:1-5):

What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? Or don't you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life."

In some sense, I feel like Paul is reading and negating Philo. Philo has the notion that we begin vituous, but die to virtue. Paul begins death and we are given a new life through Jesus. It seems that the same framework that Philo is using is being employed to almost the exact opposite effect.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

The cute little kitty is a Bobcat. This is the first time I have seen one.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Note to myself: Never use the phrase "pimped out" to describe young ladies. It is rude and offensive. It probably isn't a good idea to use this to describe older ladies either.

Note to Billary: If you don't want your daughter criticized unfairly and made fun of during your presidential campaign, then don't put her on stage.
Now that I finally have the dirt on the North Face Prophecy, it is time to lay it all out. I bought these shoes last May and first reviewed them here. What more can be said about a pair of shoes that performed perfectly covering 38 miles of trail the first day they were worn? If I had continued at that rate, they would have lasted me until the end of July, but knee injuries took their toll and it was yesterday that I decided that the stones were much too noticeable. Padding is rumored to wear out after 500 miles and these shoes have almost certainly passed that threshold long ago.

One reason I chose them was that they are highly breathable and the water comes out quickly after fording knee deep streams. No need to waste time taking shoes on and off. No need to spend money on fancy water proof materials.

What they are lacking are some gaiter attachments. These would be helpful for running as they do tend to get pebbles and dirt into the shoes so that on longer runs the shoe must be emptied periodically. I am very much tempted to get another pair, but will try something else with gaiters for a change.
Scientists: Sun running out of photons, stock up on winter clothing.

That isn't exactly what they said, but it is a fun read anyway.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Bishop Rowan, Sharia Law, and Allegories.

Biblical allegories are something that anyone can fabricate, so I generally consider it safest to stick with allegories that are specifically identified as such in the New Testament. The book of Galatians is dedicated to explaining one which seems more than a little bit applicable to today. A complete survey of the usage of the allegory of Hagar and Ishmael throughout the Bible would require a book, but here is a little excerpt:

"Tell me, you who want to be under the law, are you not aware of what the law says? For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by the slave woman and the other by the free woman was born as the result of a promise.

These things may be taken figuratively, for the women represent two covenants. One covenant is from Mount Sinai and bears children who are to be slaves: This is Hagar. Now Hagar stands for Mount Sinai in Arabia and corresponds to the present city of Jerusalem, because she is in slavery with her children." - Galatians 4:21-25

And for those who don't know, Sharia law is a variation and expansion on "the law" given by Moses on Mount Sinai. Part of the pilgrimage to Mecca is a remembrance of Hagar and her effort to find water. Just to finish the allegory, we have Mark 10:4 -

'"It was because your hearts were hard that Moses wrote you this law, " Jesus replied.'

In other words, the law was given to people whose hearts were hard because they refused to do what is right. In a sense, they had freedom, but misused it, so instead God gave them laws and they became slaves to these laws. With the slavery of Sharia law encroaching on England, Bishop Rowan would do much better to use his platform to teach the Bible. We can use our freedom to do what is good and right. We can use our freedom to promote licentiousness. And we can become so pathetic that our weak civilization is swept up into Sharia law like much of the rest of the world.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

I am still reflecting on Chocolate Girl's wonderful and much more colorful reflections.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Tomorrow I must go to vote. These will be brought along to help me make a wise choice.
Yikes! "Quarter of Brits think Churchill was myth: poll."

and 58% think Sherlock Holmes was real. There must be something in the water over there ...
(Thanks Dr. Jim for pointing this out.)
One of the many California proposition advertisements that showed up in my mailbox. It is about Indian gambling. As you can see, there will be nothing but family bliss as we gamble our way out of a deficit!
Huckabee's commercial:

Finally a Republican dared to buy some TV time here in the San Fran area. Huckabee wants to do away with the IRS. I guess this is appealing to the group of people who work for a living, earn more than about $40,000 per year, and actually pay their taxes - a shrinking minority. Retirees, welfare types, and a lot of the poor understandably don't have much of an interest in this since they gain far more from the wealth redistribution than they will ever pay. Among the working group that does pay significant income taxes, there is a large segment employed by federal, state and local government who probably won't be too happy with this proposal either.

On the economics side, government spending is still increasing rapidly. While I am certainly not going to volunteer to increase my taxes, I would more like to hear something plausible regarding reducing spending. The only sensible response to this advertisement is to roll the eyes and wait for the next Viagra commercial. Or perhaps just turn the TV off and go for a run.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Reflecting on Chocolate Girl's Reflections.

"So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them." - Genesis 1:27

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Cold, foggy, windy and a few snow flurries. Perfect conditions.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Philo: "Allegorical Interpretation, I"

"When, therefore, Moses says, 'God completed his works on the sixth day,' we must understand that he is speaking not of a number of days, but that he takes six as a perfect number."

This is another comment on the creation that has a great deal in common with the theistic evolutionist. Philo's reasoning, however, lies with his numerology. It is also related to his notion that what happened during creation is incomprehensible to us humans, which is something that I am quite sympathetic to. The element of time is discussed also:

"Therefore it would be correctly said that the world was not created in time, but that time had its existence in consequence of the world."

This being the strangest concept I have experienced so far - that the world could have existed prior to time. Certainly it is fun to ponder. Lest we think that Philo's notion of days not being days as we understand them should open the door for a long periods of time interpretation, we have this from his earlier work on creation regarding the trees producing fruit on the third day:

"And simultaneously with their first production he loaded them all with fruit, in a manner different from that which exists at present; for now the different fruits are produced in turn, at different seasons, and not all together at one time; ..."

In other words, because the time was short and the trees all bearing fruit, Philo has deduced that only during this period of creation did all fruits trees of different kinds produce fruit simultaneously.

One final tidbit that puzzles me a bit:

"After this, Moses says that 'God made man,having taken clay from the earth, and he breathed into his face the breath of life.'".

The problem here is that our Bible, as well as the Septuagint that Philo was probably using, uses the word "dust" rather than "clay". Some other scholars when comparing ancient text to the Bible have concluded that the usage of "dust" was quite deliberate because dust usually is indicative of death.
This is the San Francisco Bay area on Rose Peak yesterday. There is plenty of snow in the Sierras, but it is rare here.