Monday, June 30, 2008

A really lame tax ...

The tax I am referring to is the $.54 per gallon import tax on ethanol. American gasoline is required by law to include some ethanol whether it is economical or not (i.e. not), so a market for ethanol is guaranteed. We don't, however, have an import tax on crude oil, just the ethanol, because politicians want to protect (i.e. subsidize and buy votes) our corn farmers, who probably couldn't compete internationally otherwise. The article is about Brazil's ethanol industry and does make for some interesting reading.
Appius Claudius upbraids the peaceniks.

"...For in the upshot liberty has come to mean at Rome, that a man respect neither senate nor magistrates, nor laws, nor ancestral customs, nor institutions of the fathers, nor military discipline."

This is part of a speech recorded by Livy when agitators tried to grab power and derail the siege of Veii about 400BC. Somehow it seems so modern.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Half-Dome, Half Hidden...

...by the smoke of California burning. The view is from Olmsted Point in Yosemite.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

The PC USA loses a battle to LGBT-anity.

It seems they decided to lift the ban on gay gangbangers in the clergy, as this would be contrary to scripture the dissertation of some mentally disturbed theologian. Pray that the PC USA goes through a swift decline.

Update: I should keep my references up to date. Thanks to Drew for pointing this out.
Post #1000!
Yes, I have posted many reflections on all kinds of things. Here is a reflection from a lake near Tioga Pass in Yosemite.
The Early History of Rome, by Livy (books I to V)

This is a tedious read beginning with the legends of the founding of Rome and Romulus and Remus and covering a few centuries. The main source of records was destroyed by the Gauls in their conquest of Rome in the 4th century BC, so this is a reconstruction based on other historians. It covers the initial founding and problems of the Roman Republic, which makes this one of the documents that was almost certainly referred to as America was being established.

The main observation I have is that twice Rome had a major change of government due to women being violated. The first was the end of the initial period of the kings due to a rape. The second brought an end to the rule of the Decemvirs when the judge Appius tried to have a young lady, Verginia, kidnapped as a runaway slave so that he could rape her. Verginia's father eventually killed his daughter to preserve her chastity, and a revolution of the plebs followed.

A few centuries later, in the time of the Caesars, no woman's chastity was safe, and many didn't seem to care. Laws against adultery from earlier eras were still on the books, however, and routinely used to eliminate rivals. Much of the rot in moral standards was probably linked to the growing prosperity as Rome became an empire.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Catching up with LoneRubberDragon:

The full response is here. The primary discussion centers on this:

I defined engineering as science + intelligent design. LRD suggested science+ID+goal, which I won't quibble with except to say that ID implies a goal from my viewpoint. LRD calls this engineering1.

LRD then defines engineering2:

"Engineering2 = (1) finite-applied-modality modules + (2) combinatorial-heirarchical-exploration of modules + (3) utility-function-biasing goals for judging module-fitness + (4) a medium to run the evolution on.

To exemplify engineering2 in industry; in efficient integrated circuit layout, engineering2 now does what was once done by humans by hand and engineering1. Today with an engineering2 method, one defines: ..."

Basically, this is the observation that evolutionary algorithms have done some amazing things solving certain problems, hence the notion that evolution provides us an independent source of designs which don't require intelligence. Also note that LRD correctly asserts that evolutionary methods have replaced some rather tedious jobs that engineers previously did regarding circuit layout. No problem with this. Before responding to this, I should at least be happy that LRD hasn't taken the current scientifically and constitutionally valid position that ID doesn't exist. This is certainly a breath of fresh air.

The problem I have with LRD's engineering2 definition is this: Where did the '(1) finite-applied-modality modules + combinatorial-heiracrchical-exploration modules + (3) utility-function-biasing goals for judging module-fitness + (4) a medium to run the evolution on' come from? They are always the result of engineering1: Intelligent Design. What we are talking about is a very limited solution to a limited problem. For the most part, usage of evolutionary design algorithms is never accompanied by a decrease in the employment of engineers. There are simply too many problems out there that aren't amenable to evolutionary methods.

Now some one will protest that evolutionary algorithms can be designed to solve any problem that engineering1 can solve. Yes, this is true. On the other hand, it is impossible to do this without an engineering1 infrastructure based on all of our current experiences. In nature, we also must consider that we only have one basic evolutionary method using DNA. In engineering, we are free to concoct all kinds of subtle, problem specific variations on evolutionary methods that will only solve one kind of problem. The fact is that evolution isn't a general paradigm that replaces engineering1. It merely solves some very narrow classes of problems after 99% of the ID work is already completed via engineering1. Hence, the correct way to look at the impact of evolutionary methods on circuit layout is this: Before: 100% engeering1. After: 99% engineering1 + 1% engineering2. Not many engineers will lose their jobs on this.

Taking these observations and applying them to life, I believe that God did design creatures to undergo limited biological change to fill niches and fight diseases. From an optimization theory viewpoint, evolutionary methods are good for keeping a system stable that is already near a local, but dynamic optimum. Nothing magical. No supernatural powers. Just another mundane tool for the engineer's toolkit.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008


Mono Lake. Actually, only half of Mono Lake.

We can see 100 miles on a normal summer day here. Having just driven from San Diego to San Francisco with a bit of a detour up the Eastern Sierras, I have had a good opportunity to check out the smoke with my nose. It is everywhere, extending out into Nevada and all over the Mojave Desert.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

The Housing Mess Revisited.

One thing I have puzzled over about the housing crisis is why this loan mess started in the first place. As we know, there was sub-prime lending and people being routinely granted loans for houses that everyone knew could never be paid back. The simplest explanation is that the greedy and unscrupulous banks gave out the loans expecting the government to repay while deliberately plotting misery to the new homeowners. This explanation, however, has a major hole in it: Why is it that the banks of 15 to 20 years ago, who were just as greedy and unscrupulous as they are today, weren't doing this? What caused the change in behavior?

The other piece of the puzzle which I knew about, but someone had to remind me about, is that for decades our intellectual geniuses and people of conscience were screaming about racial profiling. According to the meta-narrative, blacks and other oppressed minorities were being denied housing loans while white were approved - and the only reason for this behavior was racial prejudice, not an inability to repay loans. Gradually the threats of litigation and legislation were increasing, while the facts inside the bank loan review departments became less and less relevant. Eventually, the only viable solution was to avoid the Wrath of the Left was to simply do away with all standards for obtaining a loan. The basics of economics then took over to create a housing bubble, followed by a loan bust and now there is a $300 billion dollar bailout in the works. Unfortunately, the Left isn't yet in an apologetic mood regarding the myth of "racial profiling". Thus, we can expect the banks to continue being coerced into giving out bad loans, while being publicly cursed for the fallout. Don't feel to sorry for the banks, however, because they will always be able to wiggle out of things with a bit of negotiation and cooperation with politicians.

Monday, June 23, 2008

We decided to come back from San Diego via the Owens ValleyMammoth Lakes. This picture is from two years ago when I took a 18 mile trail run above the town. This is along Mammoth Crest at about 11,000 feet elevation looking over towards the Minarets. I am anxious to come back here in late September when things are quiet. with a stop at
Here is a picture of the UCSD Revelle College graduation ceremony. There are about a thousand kids in caps and gowns getting ready to graduate between me and the podium. Perhaps another 6,000 or so friends and relatives are also in this field, but we can't see very much.

There is a bit of trivia I learned as a result of this ceremony. The Revelle College is named after Roger Revelle, who first used the term global warming.

UCSD Graduation.

Yesterday evening was the event. It was a long proceedings and the lack of a decent stadium meant that it was hard to see what was going on. The most memorable part of the graduation was the commencement speaker, Amanda Roberts, visiting professor of psychology. She is a mentally disturbed dingbat who desecrated the proceedings with a pornographic speech. I guess it was an acknowledgment that depravity is the official, established state religion here in California and psychology professors are some of the high priests of this religion.

Putting that aside, it was good to see all of the young people graduating and to know that there were a lot of passionate Christians in this gathering.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Church hopping in San Diego.

The young engineer had just started his new career at Boeing with his young wife. The Boeing managers had assured him that no one from Boeing was ever called up in the draft, because their products were so much needed for the Korean War. Then the notice arrived. It had first been sent to the engineer's home in Pennsylvania and after two weeks the mail had finally been forwarded to the young man in Seattle. He could appeal, but only within 10 days of the original sending out of the letter. A long train ride later, he arrived in San Diego. Officers and a military guard met him at the terminal and took him to his new home along Rosecrans Street: Boot camp at the Naval Training Center. Shortly afterwards, he received a letter from his wife letting him know that she was pregnant ...

Today, another young lady just finished 4 years of a Chemical Engineering degree at the University of California in San Diego. Her parents came along with her grand parents, who flew in from Pennsylvania. We like to worship as a family, so the grand daughter got to choose her church. Her choice was The Rock, which she attends regularly with her friends. Her father hadn't heard of this church before, so he looked it up on the net. Rosecrans Street. No problem. Everyone loaded into the minivan and we were on our way. Then the grandfather recognized the place. It was his former home from 55 years earlier and all the memories were coming back. Here is where he looked through the barbed wire longingly at the Christmas lights beyond. There is where they paraded on the square in their uniforms. On Sundays, the soldiers would all go to one of the services: Protestant, Catholic or Jewish. The gospel was preached forcefully by the evangelical chaplains and many were saved. Now, on the site of building 94 stood San Diego's megachurch, The Rock, and countless people were streaming towards the building from all directions.

Inside was an auditorium that looked like it could hold thousands for each of the five services. The style was a bit modern, but the pastor, Miles McPherson, made this an experience to be cherished by even my parents generation. Acknowledge sin, repent, seek salvation through Jesus, who is Lord of all. The Christian message was loud and clear. McPherson was preaching through 1 Samuel and just happened to be on the story of David and Goliath. Having heard this a thousand times, I would not have expected to be inspired, but pastor McPherson knew how to do it. He is certainly gifted and it made me wish I could hear some more. As much as I liked the experience, I must say that I have my doubts about connecting with a local community of believers in a church of perhaps 10,000 to 20,000 members. God makes different kinds of churches to help different people. Afterwards, we popped over to San Diego Old Town for some lunch and chat. It has been a good weekend and we are thankful to the Lord for all of our blessings.

Friday, June 20, 2008

#3 Graduates from high school.

Only one to go. This is an Irvington High School graduation ceremony in Fremont. Last year's was a Mission High School graduation. Mission had 19 valedictorians last year, which made for quite a headache. Fortunately Irvington only had one. We were treated to an a speech about The Force inside. They also had two wonderful young ladies sing a song that was obviously composed by The Dark side. It wasn't that the lyrics were nasty, just that there wasn't any tune so that it was impossible to determine if they were in sync with the background music. Everyone seemed quite happy anyway. They will send 132 kids off to the University of California, 2 to Stanford, and 2 to the Ivy League. Not bad.

Prophetic confusion in the 1st century.

"There had spread over all the Orient an old and established belief, that it was fated at that time for men coming from Judaea to rule the world. This prediction, referring to the emperor of Rome, as afterwards appeared from the event, the people of Judaea took to themselves; accordingly they revolted and after killing their governor, they routed the consular ruler of Syria as well, when he came to the rescue, and took one of his eagles. ..."

This is from Suetonius regarding Vespasian and his son, Titus. They served in Judea and later became emperors of Rome, so it would seem that the prophecy of Daniel and others could be applied to them. Christians understand this prophecy to be about the Kingdom that Jesus has established and certainly has grown to cover the entire Earth. Vespasian's dynasty ended with Domitian and brought to an end the most decadent era of the Roman leaders.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Out of Africa: Chinese are officially Black in South Africa.

If you understand native African, you can get the news here.
I probably shouldn't do this, but I really liked Marf's picture and thought it should be put to productive use.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The $200 Burger Thing?

Wow! That sounds amazing. I do have a few gripes, however. First, Japanese high-end beef is usually too fatty for American tastes. This is a bit of a historical thing in Asia, as beef wasn't so common and they had little need to search for healthier cuts. If I am going to spend more for the beef, I would probably choose buffalo meat because it has considerably less cholesterol. The biggest problem, however, is that it is only a single. How much for a triple? And does this include the soda and fries? Or do we need to order a combo? Do I get an Indiana Jones toy with it?
Time to comply with Marf's tag before I am struck by lightning.

Here's the rules of this one:
  1. Link to the person that tagged you
  2. Mention these rules on your blog
  3. List 6 unspectacular quirks of yours
  4. Tag 6 bloggers by linking to them
  5. Leave a Comment on each of the tagged blogger’s blogs letting them know they’ve been tagged.
Now to comply with #3:

1. I eat what I don't like on my plate first, and finish with what I like.
2. "All things in moderation" is an ancient Greek philosophy that works well in modern slacker society, but I am a fundamentalist, so my philosophy is from Ecclesiastes 9:10 - "Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might". Watch out!
3. I drink so much coffee that I should have died of cancer 20 years ago.
4. I get excited about going outside when it is cold, windy, rainy and foggy. Who says old men can't play in the mud puddle?
5. On a long trip, I hand wash my clothes.
6. I am still a bit rebellious, therefore, I refuse to comply with 4 and 5.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Here is another take on the gay 'marriage' topic.

Basically, it is a confirmation that gays don't actually form relationships like heterosexuals do, so the idea of a parallel marriage scheme is really nonsense. It is likely that an initial burst of activity will die down as the novelty wears off. So why did we whine?

What the ruling has done, however, is to place discrimination against gays on the same level as discrimination against blacks. The end result is a legal weapon that can be used to bash anyone who gays find offensive. A number of lawsuits have already been launched, such as this one regarding a Christian doctor who refused to do artificial insemination on a Lesbian woman. And predictions of a tsunami of lawsuits are out there. What it means for Christians is that they must either comply with a militant LGBT community's demands to be in-your-face and violate your Christian conscience, or possibly face financial ruin. I don't think there will be a huge number of lawsuits, but there will be enough to instill fear. It is a good reminder of what early Baptists faced in England and which caused many of them to flee to America. In the 17th and 18th century, there were waves of persecution where Baptists had their property confiscated by the state for not attending the Church of England. Today, the concept of "separation of church and state" - which Baptists coined to avoid this kind of persecution - has been twisted to become a tool to impose the kind of thing that Christians feared.

The other side of the ruling is that it debases race, culture and religion. Yeh, that's right. Whether you are Black or White, Asian or Native American, Christian, Muslim, Jewish or Hindu, your race, culture and religion are worth less than a gay orgy. That is what the ruling is really all about.

Monday, June 16, 2008

"Here are the questions to which I would have every reader give his close attention - what life and morals were like; through what men and by what policies, in peace and in war, empire was established and enlarged: then let him note how, with the gradual relaxation of discipline, morals first gave way, as it were, then sank lower and lower, and finally began the downward plunge which has brought us to the present time, when we can endure neither our vices nor their cure."

This is Livy's introduction to The Early History of Rome, written about 20 years before the birth of Jesus.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Obama and AWOL fathers.

First, I should say that this is a relatively good speech so far as it goes. The consequences of AWOL fathers are most apparent to the Black community, so I am not the least bit surprised that this is welcome and it should be welcome everywhere.

The problem with the speech isn't what he said, but rather what he didn't explain. Why is it that we have AWOL fathers in the first place?

To answer the why of AWOL fathers, there are probably at least a dozen reasons of which the relative ranking of importance is probably hopeless to determine. Thus, I will list a few in random order.

- The tendency of girls to have children from several different fathers and fathers to have children with different mothers. That always makes a great family get together for a barbecue.
- Encouragement of young people to mess around with sex in high school. If you don't discipline animals, you get wild animals with instincts to guide them. If you don't discipline humans, you get wild humans with no instincts to guide them.
- Governments reward women for getting a divorce and kicking the man out of the house. If you want welfare, you gotta throw the bum out.
- Lack of any discipline for boys in public schools. As much as Torquemada is reviled, a Torquemada Catholic Boys School would be exactly what we need - and the number of gang killings in inner cities would no longer exceed the death toll of the inquisition every year.
- Deadbeat culture. Yeh, man, like Jesus taught blessed are the deadbeats, for they shall beg on the street corners and give people a guilty conscience, because it earns better than working.
- Excessive red tape for bringing down drug lords and pimps. Maybe we don't need more police.
- LGBT culture, which reviles traditional marriage. Traditional stigmas evolved for a reason.
No doubt there are many more factors. One thing that would certainly help the black community is vouchers to get kids out of the dysfunctional government schools. Obama, are you brave enough to confront the teacher's union and the ACLU for the sake of the children?

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Too much traffic ... grrrrrr.

I had to make a run to the San Francisco Airport today. There were several traffic jams at points where minor construction was constricting the highway to four lanes one way. You would think that as gas prices approach $5 per gallon that people would be less prone to taking joy rides on weekends with their SUVs. Not a chance. May the price of gasoline go through the roof.

OK, here is one of my quirks for Marf. I am impatient to the point that sometimes I don't care how much the world suffers so that I can save a few minutes getting to a bench at the airport where I will just need to wait some more. Eventually I will collect these quirks up to comply with the tag.
From the "been there done that" category: Gay "marriage" in history.

"Besides abusing freeborn boys and seducing married women, he debauched the vestal virgin Rubria. The freewoman Acte he all but made his lawful wife, after bribing some ex-consuls to perjure themselves by swearing that she was of royal birth. He castrated the boy Sporus and actually tried to make a woman of him; and he married him with all the usual ceremonies, including a dowry and a bridal veil, took him to his house attended by a great throng, and treated him as his wife. And the witty jest that someone made is still current, that it would have been well for the world if Nero's father Domitius had had that kind of wife. This Sporus, decked out with the finery of the empresses and riding in a litter, he took with him to the assizes and marts of Greece, and later at Rome through the Street of the Images, fondly kissing him from time to time. That he even desired illicit relations wiith his own mother, and was kept from it by her enemies, who feared that such a relationship might give the reckless and insolent woman too great influence, was notorious, especially after he added to his concubines a courtesan who was said to look very like Agrippina. Even before that, so they say, whenever he rode in a litter with his mother, he had incestuous relations with her, which were betrayed by stains on his clothing"

That excerpt is from the Roman historian Seutonius writing about Nero. Eventually so many like passages involving sex and/or violence are included in his account the you go numb. The good news is that Christianity largely swept this away. The bad news is that many Christian leaders are trying to bring this back.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

This quote is from Jim West:

According to former President Jimmy Draper, who said Monday “We have reached a place that our spiritual forefathers feared.” “We need to admit that the problem with America today is not the government or the politicians,” Draper said. “It is not Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama or John McCain. It’s not the senators or representatives. The problem is not the educational system or the economy. It’s not the liberals or the abortionists. The problem lies with us.” “We conservatives claim to have the truth and we think we are rich in spiritual position and power, but yet we are cold, complacent, impotent and unattractive, and irrelevant to the world,” Draper said. “I hate to say it, but we are not plateaued. We’re not even just declining. We’re in a free fall.” “You know why we don’t win the lost?” Draper asked. “Because we don’t like them. They are different from us. We don’t care for them. We have no real love for them.” “People just don’t touch eternity when they are around us,” Draper said. “We’re too self-absorbed.”

A major part of this is certainly true. Perhaps it is mostly true. Being a high tech geek sort, we are supposed to be cold and awkwards towards people, but that isn't what Jesus wants me to be. Yes, it is very true that I need to be more caring about others.

Another part of the above is misleading. In Matthew 4:17, Jesus says "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near". Why do we repent and what does it mean to repent? We confess our sins, their is a change of heart towards our behavior and God and we seek salvation through Jesus based on the cross. If we don't, Jesus taught plainly that we would be separated from God and experience eternity in hell.

Now enters the mainliners. They say, "Did God really say that if you don't repent and seek forgiveness you will experience eternity in hell? Not so! He never said that. In fact, a loving God would never send people to an eternity in hell. Furthermore, the people who tell you these things are all cold hearted, judgmental Pharisees who are incapable of love." In the end, to warn people about sin and ask them to repent is unloving, but to tell people that God accepts them sin and all, because he created them as sinners is called "loving". What Jesus teaches us is thus exactly negated. Thus, a major problem for teaching Christianity is that mainline-anity has poisoned peoples' minds by negating the core teachings of Jesus working from their pulpits and spreading the poison out through the schools. A symptom of this is the usual polling where people report that their impression of Jesus is that he is warm, loving and fuzzy, but Christians are cold and mean.

Still, I can do nothing about mainline-anity's determination to systematically contradict and negate the plain teachings of the Bible. What I do have control over is my behavior towards others. Yes, the challenge is to be able to care for others as Jesus wants me to, but to stay true to the message that Jesus gives us. "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near".


Wednesday, June 11, 2008

She will make a "full recovery" ...

Well, she was locked in a cellar and sexually abused by her father for years. Medical problems almost killed her, but she is recovering from a coma so the doctors have pronounced that she will make a "full recovery" and will "develop normally".

Now I can't conceive of how anyone could possibly "develop normally" after that kind of abuse, but I guess the psychological damage probably doesn't count as far as medical evaluations go.
The California Supreme Court's establishment of gay marriage religious rites and the ongoing aftermath ...

Two California counties seem to be stopping all county marriage ceremonies. For me, this seems the right things to do, rather than compel government officials to engage in a blatantly anti-Christian / anti-nature religious ceremony or risk being fired. The LGBT groups unsurprisingly declare this to be discrimination.

The San Jose Mercury has also helpfully itemized the areas where gays are subjected to further legal discrimination. We should probably view this as the next phase(s) of the LGBT agenda, but that wasn't the purpose of the article.
Suetonius regarding the expulsion of Jews under Claudius:

"Since the Jews constantly made disturbances at the instigation of Chrestus, he expelled them from Rome."

Chrestus is another form of Christ, and thus this seems to be a reference to Christians. This is from section 25 in the chapter on Claudius. At the end of this chapter:

"But these and other acts, and in fact almost the whole conduct of his reign, were dictated not so much by his own judgment as that of his wives and freedman, since he nearly always acted in accordance with their interests and desires."

This compares with a little verse from the book of Acts:

"After this, Paul left Athens and went to Corinth. There he met a Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus, who had recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla, because Claudius had ordered all the Jews to leave Rome." - Acts 18:1-2

Certainly these refer to the same event, although Suetonius seems a bit confused about Christianity compared to Tacitus. Taking a wild guess at things, I would imagine that Christians had already been to Rome and taught in the synagogues, but there was a similar pattern of conflict between the Jews and Christians in Rome as elsewhere. Perhaps the Jews successfully labeled the Christians as trouble makers, but then both Jews and Christians were expelled from Rome - and this long before Paul arrived.

The book of Romans is believed to have been written by Paul to this Jewish-Christian community in Rome prior to the expulsion. The admonitions in Romans chapter 13, however, indicate that at least some of the Christians may not have wanted to pay taxes and do other things required by the government.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

They never give up ...

By way of background, my kids had AP Evolution (err, AP Biology) at the local high school (top ranked public school in northern California). They came back from school claiming "any answer is correct, as long as it mentions evolution". This is really true: Because evolution is a synonym for change and is the superset of all theories, it is guaranteed to explain anything that mankind has explained. Now the explanation may be made on Monday and discarded on Tuesday as rubbish, because of a better and mutually exclusive explanation, but evolution is only enhanced by this purifying process! And so the truly amazing part of the theory is that no matter how complex the biological phenomenon, and no matter how limited the intellect studying the phenomenon, it is no problem to come up with a scientific explanation using the theory of evolution! Oh what explanatory power!

The above blogger seems to be looking for some ecumenical relations between religion and atheism based on a shared awe of evolution. Sometimes I wish these theologians would just become atheists themselves, get out of the church, and stop teaching in the name of God.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Fools on Palomares Canyon Road.

Fool #1: I should start by confessing my sins. This is a steep, windy, quiet country road with 1,200 feet of elevation gain and a 25 mile per hour speed limit. Today I decided to make it my bicycle workout. The best part of this is doing the Giant Slalom on the way out. Today there were swarms of lady bugs in the air and I don't wear eye protection, so I decided to keep my speed under 40.

Fool(s) #2: They were driving a mid-size sky-blue Mazda and speeding down the road. A maneuver from The Fast And The Furious saved them from the ditch on one of the curves. I am thankful to the Lord that they were on the opposite side of the road.

Fool #3: He was driving a white landscaping truck with an antenna on the middle of the roof. I was riding down hill on a windy section (right next to the 25MPH speed limit sign) puttering along at 30MPH. The truck driver decided to pass me at perhaps 32MPH by going completely over the double yellow lines while talking on a cell phone. Of course the outer arc of the curve is longer than the inner arc, so once he crossed over the yellow line he was no longer gaining on me and we were going side-by-side. Yes, it was a blind curve with lots of brush growing near the road. If our Fast and Furious duo decided to return this way, it would have been quite a mess.

Today's Bonus Fool: He pulled just ahead of me in his van and then did a right turn without signaling.

Obama and McCain, I don't like either of you. On the other hand, if one of you can propose to me something you will do about fools on the road and it sounds remotely plausible, you have my vote!

"Salmonella outbreak linked to raw tomatoes strikes about 150". Yikes. Terrorism. Housing collapse. Oil prices. Wright and Hagee. Now tomatoes.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Xenophon, regarding the setting aside of money for the gods.

"At this place also they distributed the money that had come in from the sale of their prisoners. The generals took over the tenth part, which they had set aside for Apollo and for Artemis of Ephesus, to keep for this religious purpose. Each general took a share of the tenth, and Neon of Asine took charge of Chirisophus's share. Later Xenophon had an offering made for Apollo and put it in the Athenian treasury at Delphi. He had it inscribed with his own name and with the name of Proxenus, who was killed with Clearchus, for he had been his friend. As for the part which belonged to Artemis of Ephesus, when Xenophon was returning from Asia on the march to Boeotia with Agesilas, he left it in the keeping of Megabyzus, the warden of the temple of Artemis, as he thought that his journey would be a risky business ..."

From Xenophon's Anabasis (aka The Persian Expedition). Written ~370BC regarding events in 401BC.

Two points are of interest. The first is the use of pillage from war as sacrifices. The second is the emphasis on "the tenth part", which reminds us of the Bible. Abraham in his victory when recovering Lot also gives a tenth to Melchizedek in Genesis 14:20. Based on similarities, I suspect the tradition of a "tenth" is quite ancient, but would be curious to know where else it occurs.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

This should be self explanatory.

I was riding my bicycle when I took this picture. There was still too much traffic for my liking, and ... well ... I probably should avoid this topic. After all, I don't commute to work.

Unemployment facts ...

From the business viewpoint, there are a few things we note about layoffs. First, when a layoff happens, half of the employees will cheer. This is due to the fact that unemployment benefits allow you to get a pay check without working. Second, most people won't seriously consider a new job until their benefits run out. Thus, the sad fact that increasing unemployment benefits increases unemployment. Yes, I have a heart of stone that hovers around a temperature of absolute zero.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Yeh! Kosher Giraffe!
Freedom of speech, Roman style. From Suetonius regarding Tiberius Caesar.

"More than that, he was self-contained and patient in the face of abuse and slander, and of lampoons on himself and his family, often asserting that in a free country there should be free speech and free thought."

Apparently this was Tiberius when he first took office.

"It is a long story to run through his acts of cruelty in detail; it will be enough to mention the forms which they took, as samples of his barbarity. Not a day passed without an execution, not even those that were sacred and holy; for he put some to death even on New Year's day. Many were accused and condemned with their children and even by their children. The relatives of the victims were forbidden to mourn for them. Special rewards were voted the accusers and sometimes even the witnesses. The word of no informer was doubted. Every crime was treated as capital, even the utterance of a few simple words. ..."

This was Tiberius in his later years. Freedom of speech is quite fragile.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

"To be even minded is the greatest virtue. Wisdom is to speak the truth and to act in keeping with its nature" - Heraclitus.

Heraclitus of Ephesus wrote in the 6th century BC and we only have a few fragments left. His writings remind me a little of the book of Proverbs, although most of what he writes isn't so sensible as the above quote. Heraclitus seems to be the first that we know of to use the "Logos" concept that is expanded in John 1. He also seems to have produced something quite near to the evolution meta-narrative in that change is considered a fundamental concept and the universe is claimed to pre-date the gods.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Brigitte Bardot and the $23,325 fine.

Somehow I suspect that the fine was in euros, rather than dollars. The offense was some words to the effect that she is "tired of being led by the nose by this population that is destroying us, destroying our country by imposing its acts". Obviously she wasn't referring to Christians, even though this sounds similar to a million other statements that will be made against American Christians today by our fellow countrymen. The article states that she "was referring to the Muslim feast of Aid el-Kebir, celebrated by slaughtering sheep", so apparently she was motivated by animal rights beliefs.

As for me, I find the whole thing bizarre. Yes, there are plenty of nasty statements hurled at Christians every day, but I would not put a fine on anyone to shut them up. I might suggest that public funding of professors who deliberately mislead students in order to shake their faith in Christianity be curtailed, but that is a different matter. There should be no difference in the treatment of any religion.

What is really bad about this is that it follows the lines of the reasoning in the US: Islam is a race or a culture, rather than a religion. Based on this, we see government funding of Islamic schools here in the US and favorable treatment to their culture, but Christianity is dismissed. It is this kind of double standard that really offends.

This is my take on the subject posted by John Hobbins.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Here we go again:

"Two Christian preachers were stopped from handing out Bible extracts by police because they were in a Muslim area, it was claimed yesterday." This happened in Birmingham, England, not Saudi, Arabia.

Eventually the scam of secularism is going to be clear to the average voter. Shortly before Sharia Law is imposed. Thanks to Jim West for this article.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Broken Trail.

Some friends wanted me to see this and loaned me the video. It probably has something to do with me being a country boy and marrying a Chinese girl, although our story wasn't quite the same as the one in the movie.

The horse and scenery lover will enjoy the vistas and the herds of wild horses. The dialog is simple as would be expected from those who spend most of their lives wandering the ranges with no one to talk to. Same for the Chinese dialog. This is probably safest, because the actresses remind me of the kids in the local Chinese school. They speak Mandarin, but let's not get too complicated. They usually answer Chinese questions in English. Realistically, the 1898 period would probably have involved Cantonese speaking Chinese rather than Mandarin, but now I am getting too fussy. Better just to relax and enjoy the movie.