Monday, April 29, 2013

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Regarding Chechens and Caucasians

Recent events demand that I make a post on this subject, yet I fear being redundant.  Still, I am a Caucasian, and those of us who come from this region must periodically come face to face with our heritage.

"The sea called Euxine, or hospitable, is belied by its nature and put to ridicule by its name. Even its situation would prevent you from reckoning Pontus hospitable: as though ashamed of its own barbarism it has set itself at a distance from our more civilized waters. Strange tribes inhabit it—if indeed living in a wagon can be called inhabiting. These have no certain dwelling-place: their life is uncouth: their sexual activity is promiscuous, and for the most part unhidden even when they hide it: they advertise it by hanging a quiver on the yoke of the wagon, so that none may inadvertently break in. So little respect have they for their weapons of war. They carve up their fathers' corpses along with mutton, to gulp down at banquets. If any die in a condition not good for eating, their death is a disgrace. Women also have lost the gentleness, along with the modesty, of their sex. They display their breasts, they do their house-work with battle-axes, they prefer fighting to matrimonial duty. There is sternness also in the climate—never broad daylight, the sun always niggardly, the only air they have is fog, the whole year is winter, every wind that blows is the north wind. Water becomes water only by heating: rivers are no rivers, only ice: mountains are piled high up with snow: all is torpid, everything stark. Savagery is there the only thing warm—such savagery as has provided the theatre with tales of Tauric sacrifices, Colchian love-affairs, and Caucasian crucifixions." - Adversus Marcionem, by Tertullian (160-225AD)

Saturday, April 20, 2013

A Fishing Story

"For man does not know his time.  Like fish that are taken in an evil net, and like birds that are caught in a snare, so the children of man are snared at an evil time, when it suddenly falls upon them." - Ecclesiastes 9:12

I started swimming once a week beginning in March when the water temperature got back up to the 50's.  Now it is up to 60, so we have more swimmers and I can get a partner for weekday swims.  This morning we did 4 kilometers (2.4 miles) in the lake.  On the last leg back, I was intent on getting back and found myself tangled in a fisherman's line.  He wasn't too happy and gave me a gentle scolding for not paying attention.  I though I had enough distance between me and his boat, but the line went out a ways.  Anyway, a bit of patience allowed me to untangle and get moving.  On arriving at the shore, I found out that the lady who was swimming just ahead of me had almost swam into the boat.  We are required to swim with at least one partner and it worked out to be just the two of us this morning.  Thus, I can understand the fisherman's reaction a bit better.

There was a group of a dozen or more swimmers in wet suits all preparing to start swimming just as we were getting dry.  The leader of the group announced the route.  It would lead straight into the fisherman.

Friday, April 12, 2013

One class done, but another to go ...

The first class was the 90 30-minute modern Hebrew audio lessons.  Today I completed the 90th lesson.  These are from Pimsleur.  I have been listening to the new ones twice each time, plus reviewing an earlier one twice, which works out to 2 hours of practice per day.  Certainly a lot of progress has been made, but I have exhausted all their lessons.  Each lesson has about 5 new words, so this works out to a vocabulary of only about 450 words.  I would need about 360 lessons to get up to a sensible level at this rate.  Unfortunately, this is the end of the Pimsleur series, so I would need to find something else, like a tutor.  After today, I will continue with review at about an hour a day for another two months during my commute time, but this should be a lot less stressful than the first time through the material.

Meanwhile, the materials for the third semester of Biblical Hebrew have already arrived.  This will require an average of an hour and a half of work per day up until mid-August.  Since I can't do this during the commute, it won't conflict with the modern Hebrew review.  Onward ...

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Engineers Rule, Got That?

Rummuser sent me this article entitled "What Happens When Engineers Run The World".  Since I am both an engineer and the official spokesman for engineering (note: all engineers think they are the official spokesman for engineering), I can't let this pass without comment.  The article begins by noting that 44% of high profile Islamic terrorists are engineers.  Needless to say, I am mostly honored to be part of a group that is out to change the world.  We have been doing this since the invention of the catapult, whereas modern hope & change sorts are really just a bunch of witless noobs who have been active for less than two centuries.  But I should admit that some of the terrorists did such a poor job that they really should have had their degrees rescinded.  The two highest profile terrorist engineers were Osama bin Laden and Yasser Arafat, both of whom weren't mentioned.  Note that they were, um, Civil Engineers, which undoubtedly explains their behavior better.

The article moves on to talk about "software engineers".  I am not at all convinced of the existence of this profession, and will note that most such folks call themselves "computer scientists".  We must keep in mind that a scientist is a degenerate engineer who doesn't actually accomplish anything, but likes to take credit for whatever the engineers actually do achieve.  But admittedly, the programmers also have a mind to change the world, just like the real engineers.  The main difference is that the real engineers agitate on behalf of Sharia Law, whereas Computer Scientists proudly fight for a utopia based on drugs, pimps and sex slave trafficking.  Then there are the softwear engineers.  We won't discuss what they do.

The Engineers Rule article is still too Anglo-centric and misses some key facts, like the Chinese leadership mostly consisting of engineers.  In Israel several of the leaders had technical backgrounds.  Undoubtedly more research is needed on this subject.  Meanwhile, I am expecting that western politicians will figure out that they can easily upgrade their status as whiny lawyers by reclassifying themselves as Polemic Engineers.

Saturday, April 06, 2013

Friday, April 05, 2013

Thursday, April 04, 2013

St. John's Easter Sermon

Since there were some remarks regarding the Easter Service that our president attended along with those who followed him, I thought it might be fun to listen to this.  The preacher was Dr. Luis Leon of Saint John's Episcopal Church in Washington.  The sermon only lasted about 15 minutes, which is about half to one third of the length that typical sermons require in the churches I am familiar with.

The theme of Dr. Leon's talk was that of letting go of the past.  This is something that I believe in as well, but there were a few missing steps.  That is, the message of Christianity is 1) Acknowledge sins, 2) Repent, 3) Seek a new relationship with God through Jesus Christ and 4) let go of the past.  Steps one through three are all skipped in Dr. Leon's version.

Looking at step 4), however, things get more interesting.  In Christianity, we are supposed to let go of our sinful past to live a new life leading to holiness.  We are to forgive others because God forgave us.  For Dr. Leon, we are letting go of the pain that we experienced as victims.  Sin isn't something that we have to deal with, except as it exists in other who annoy us.  And transform into what?.  The lecture transformed into rants about those conservatives who want blacks to stay in the back of the bus, immigrants to stay on the other side of the border, ...  Having just seen a bus driving along empty, the "letting go" metaphor might be more appropriate for Dr. Leon.  Today's bus is empty so a black can sit in any seat she wants except the driver seat.  This conservative has both married an immigrant and been an immigrant.  The black community has been given everything conceivable to help them succeed, except for the most important thing:  Healthy families according to God's design.  The country can't absorb immigrants when leftists are deliberately destroying the economy.  When are leftist pastors going to "let go" of leftover leftist rhetoric inherited from earlier ages?

Of course the theme was a broader one of letting go of the moral traditions and theological truths of the past and embracing what is new. This leaves me wondering if there is any religion or philosophical system - other than Silicon Valley culture - that really honors the new just because it is new.  The Bible teaches us "there is no new thing under the sun" - Ecclesiastes 1:9.  Most of the classical philosophical systems embraced a circle or repeated patterns.  Other religions assert the repetition of things as well. From what source does Dr. Leon get his sanctification of the new for the sake of newness?  And is dumping traditional morality (i.e. natural virtue, per the philosophers) for unnatural relations really anything new?

But as the Bible says:  "Not many of you should become teachers,  my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly" - James 3:1.  And so I too must start with being careful about what I teach and study hard to make sure that I have my facts correct and double and triple checked.

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

A Whale of a Time?

My apologies for the inadequate photo, but there is a bit of the whale sticking up exactly in the center.  The first time she popped up I wasn't ready for a picture.  After a few seconds to breathe, she went back under for a few minutes, and then showed up several hundred yards further down.  The telephoto wasn't good enough to really zoom in, and even if it was, I probably wouldn't have been able to center it quickly enough.  

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

Devil's Slide

Yes, Devil's Slide is the original name of the point in the distance.

This is California Highway 1 looking northward to an area just south of San Francisco where the road has a way of slipping down the mountain and into the ocean periodically.  A new tunnel was just opened, so we had to do a bit of civil engineering tourism and drive to see it.  Unfortunately, there aren't any good parking areas right by the tunnel, so I couldn't get a closeup photo.  

Per California's constitution, everyone had to get into the act on this tunnel, with the result that the final cost was $430 million and 6 years of construction.  For a two lane highway.   The cost is about 1/10th to 1/20th of the greatest tunnels, like the Channel Tunnel.  The 6 years for construction, however, was truly world class.  It was quite a sight and worth the excursion.

Monday, April 01, 2013