You are currently browsing the monthly archive for July 2007.
Saturday (the twenty eighth) was the half year anniversary of me starting this blog. It has been a challenging and enjoyable exercise.
A few comments and a request:
1. Blogging has been cathartic for the primary reason that these ideas, suggestions and opinions stop bouncing around my head when I type them out and post them.
2. Can I just say that here is something that really, really bugs me: I get things all formatted on the screen and it looks nice and just as I want. That is, up until I press the publish button, and then, consistently but in a random manner, it changes on the screen as I am watching it being saved, so that things are quite a bit different as they are posted for people to see.
Great! So I quickly have to go change them and look at the html and re-center or bold or add paragraphs or take them out. Nearly every time. But I’m not bitter!
3. Here’s where I think this blog has the most room for improvement – I haven’t been able to motivate people to comment.
This hasn’t, I think, been for lack of readers. Looking at the statistics, I am guessing that about twenty of you read this every day (Yes, of course this is a big guess, made more wild by the fact that they recently took down the feed read counter over there at WordPress.) (And yes, this is very small compared to some) But only a few of you comment. So . . .
My (unusual, non-kosher, perhaps eye-roll causing) request: Would you consider commenting today? I’ll give you two subjects to choose from.
1. What was your high school sports team names and how did it do in football when you were there*? Make one up if you want to keep this secret.
2. (Looking for a short answer only) Where are you in the Armenian-Calvinist debate. Please feel free to say – “I don’t care”
Or choose a topic (what do you like/dislike about the Responsible Puppet, for example) And Use a pseudonym or even a pseudo-pseudonym if you want. What do you say?
*Here’s my answer: Knights and we were pretty good.
I just got done reading an anthology of poems that I wrote for a project my junior year of high school. The question is – should one feel embarrassed or humbled if poetry he wrote when he was fifteen really wasn’t that good?
Here is the poem (I have edited the spelling mistake) from that project I feel most comfortable sharing here:
Our Last Chance
Hunting, Searching for the last duck.
Spot one, a dot, on the horizon
Coming straight in
Its mind set for food
Stand up aim and pull
All noise goes to your ear, Crack
The duck hesitates and starts again
Its heart skipping a beat.
You are correct if you guess that I wasn’t a very good hunter.
Everything I ever needed to know I learned from Cryptonomicon by Neil Stephenson (Part 2 of 2)
It only takes one counter example to disprove the theorem. *** Little kids don’t bother to say hello, they just start talking to you. *** This is how it’s done. You pile one thing on top of the next and you keep it up and keep it up – sometimes the galleon sinks in a typhoon, you don’t get your slab of granite that year – but you stick with it and eventually you end up with something sooo big. *** Better late than never! *** You have sins to atone for and you can’t atone for them by getting down on your knees and saying Hail Marys *** Here we could talk about the Plato’s Cave thing for awhile – the Veg-o-matic of metaphors – it slices! It Dices! *** It’s a truism that you can’t understand a person without knowing something about her family background. *** Middle class prosperity is lapidary. The flow of cash rounds and smooths a person like water does river bed stones. The goal of all such persons is to make themselves cuddly and nonthreatening. *** There are many reasons why different governments might want to control the flow of information. *** Gold is the corpse of value. *** This is Jesus Christ who takes away the sins of the world. Jesus has taken away my sins. *** The world is bleeding. It needs medicine and bandages. These cost money. *** Wealth that is stored up in gold is dead. It rots and stinks. True wealth is made every day by men getting up out of bed and going to work. By school children doing their lessons, improving their minds. *** The church has two thousand years of experience in using its resources to help the poor. It has not always been perfect. But it has built its share of hospitals and schools. *** Overestimating the intelligence of the enemy is, if anything, more dangerous than underestimating it. *** For something disgusting and lethal, cigarettes are amazingly enjoyable. *** It makes the most sense to think of the jungle as a living tissue of ants with minor infestations of trees, birds and humans. *** This is how all the best ideas arrive. Ideas that he patiently cultivates from tiny seeds always fail to germinate or else grow up into monstrosities. Good ideas are just there all of a sudden, like angels in the Bible. *** The ability to kill someone is basically a mental stance, and not a question of physical means. A serial killer armed with a couple of feet of clothesline is far more dangerous than a cheerleader with a bazooka. *** That’s the problem in a nutshell. The bad guys have the means. *** Gentlemen do not read one another’s mail. *** Sometimes, if you want to live and breathe tomorrow, you have to dive into the black depths today, and that is a leap of faith.
. . . that makes the Jamsco Family unique.
We go on picnics. Warning: I’m going to brag a little here.
We started keeping track of how many picnics we went on six years ago when we had three kids and our oldest was 3. That year (2001) we went on 28 picnics, each in a different spot – mostly parks near where we live, but the first one that year was at the George Washington Carver National Monument near Joplin Missouri. I recommend it.
Each year since then we have increased the number of picnics we have taken and last year we went on 77 different picnics. So far (since the beginning of 2001) we have been on 328 picnics in 178 different locations. This year we are on track to beat last year’s record. Tonight we are, God willing, going on our 38th.
We’ve picnicked at 23 State parks and 6 National parks. We picnicked near 16 different rivers (including 20 spots on the Mississippi) and 71 lakes (including 20 spots on Lake Superior.)
And would you like to hear some of the things we’ve learned about how to go on a fun picnic?
You often hear parents of grown kids give younger families advice: Enjoy them! They grow up so fast. I don’t really know where the years went!
This kind of advice is one of the reasons we do this. Let the record show that Jamsco spent quality and quantity time with his kids.
Def: RachelRay – n.
A person who gained fame in one area and has, for one reason or another, crossed over into other many other branches of mainstream media (such as headlines and magazine covers), but of whom only half of western civilization has of yet heard or knows anything about.
Person 1: Who’s this guy I keep seeing on Billboards, what’s his name . . Germee Bergen?
Person 2: That’s GeahrMel. The second ‘e’ is pronounced with an ‘L’ sound. He’s that guy who’s big in Xtreme Impact Tennis so popular these days. Oh, that’s right, you don’t have cable. He’s ESPN’s latest RachelRay.
Subtle (and Potentially Missed) Point from Yesterday’s Post: I, as a Healthy Non-Disabled Protestant White Straight Male in America, have never really suffered for who I am one little bit. Maybe someday, but not yet. If you’re like me, and a few of you are, you most likely haven’t, either.
There are those who endure hardship because of some physical handicap, other’s because of the color of their skin, still others because of their religion. I’ll not deny that these cause great anguish for those who experience them.
But I don’t fall under any of those categories – no, I am treated poorly because I am insufficiently short.
I was reminded of this again this weekend as my wife and I were enjoying a romantic weekend getaway in beautiful Brainerd Minnesota (we were there to see a friend’s wedding – it was in fact BlaChr’s – he has commented here) and as I turned on the shower, I noted (this isn’t the first time I experienced this) that the resulting water spray was well below my shoulders. For those of you who have never been forced to shampoo doubled over because that’s what you have to do to get your hair wet, I can tell you that it’s no day at the beach.
And the day before that I couldn’t see any of my face in a bathroom mirror because it assumes that no person needs to comb their hair if they are over 5 foot 10. Now it happens to be true that my hair is receding to such an extent that combing is indeed unnecessary, but that’s beside the point!
And don’t get me started about taking tours in caves.
And the thought of BlaChr starting out on his honeymoon brought to my mind the most poignant, humiliating instance of Height Discrimination I have ever been a victim to.
In the months preceding our wedding day, my then fiance had suggested that I not tell her very many details about where we were going – the beautiful Upper Peninsula of Michigan – and in the weeks proceeding the big day, I had worked hard to make all of the reservations. It came down to the point where I had gotten them all planned and booked except for our wedding night. Yes, the most important stay of a honeymoon.
I had hoped to get a bed and breakfast on our way out to the U.P. and more than one of the places I had called were all booked up. I was starting to get nervous. Had I begun too late? Finally I found a place in a nice little vacation area near here, not too expensive, and most importantly, with an unbooked room. Great! Whew!
But then, as we were starting the get-all-the-necessary-information process the owner said the words I didn’t want, and surely didn’t expect, to hear: “Oh, wait. You’re not tall, are you?”
I hesitated. He continued, “I mean, it’s upstairs and the ceilings and doors are quite low and sometimes people bump their heads . . . . so we don’t – “
I decided I wasn’t going to lie: “Well, I’m six – four”
“Oh, no, no, no. I’m afraid that won’t work.”
I’m proud to say that as we closed the conversation I kept it together. I didn’t weep. I didn’t slam down the phone. But the shame! The agony! The Dang-nabbit-now-I-have-to-start-all-over-again!
I’m happy to say that this story has a happy ending. I kept at it and, in time, found another place, a pleasant, quiet, Christian-owned bed and breakfast where my beloved and I shared a very delicious first breakfast together.
And if it was a little less on our way to our honeymoon destination, at least it’s owners didn’t choose it’s customers with a tape measure!
Two days late – another college poem
And as the Light and shadows fall across my page
I outline them with my pen
With the full hopeless knowledge that after this stage
Not one, not even I will understand them again.
These are not Grand Schemes of which I write
They are notes to a significant, lines from a far state
I feel the guilt as great poets I spite
But then possibly not, since admittedly I am not great
I write of the parallel between
The very simple and the everyday
The Grand I have not heard nor seen
But these others I may display
What of me if the abstract in me
Cannot be put by me to line?
And what, if the only rhymes I see
Are too simple to be fine?
20 Years Later my answer is: Then you’re probably not that great a poet.
Everything I Ever Need To Know I Learned From Cryptonomicon – Neil Stephenson (Part 1 of 2)
(I just finished this book this week, at it is quite funny, insightful and offensive. And by the way, I didn’t start keeping track of good quotes until half way through it and I still got enough Notables to make this a 2 parter.)
War gives men good ignoring skills. *** Gold and silver don’t implode. *** Pretenses are shabby things that, like papier mache houses, must be energetically maintained or they will dissolve. *** Think what you will about religious people, they always have something to say at times like this. What would an atheist say? Yes, the organisms inhabiting that submarine must have lost their higher neural functions over a prolonged period of time and eventually turned into pieces of rotten meat. So what? *** The United States military is first and foremost and unfathomable network of typist and file clerks, secondarily a stupendous mechanism for moving stuff from one part of the world to another and last and least a fighting organization. *** Mapless in the jungles of New Guinea during a war is bad, bad, bad. *** A lot of stuff gets wasted in a war. *** This is how the trip to Hell works: no leisurely boat ride across the scenic Styx, no gradual descent into that trite tourist trap, Pluto’s Cavern, no stops along the way to buy fishing licenses for the Lake of Fire. *** Morphine takes away the body’s ability to experience pleasure. *** This is why laptops were invented, so that important business persons would not fritter away long flights relaxing. *** It is exciting to discover electrons and figure out the equations that govern their movements; it is boring to use those principles to design electric can openers. *** Since most hackers are white males, their companies are disaster areas when it comes to diversity and it follows that all of the diversity must be concentrated on the two employees who are not hackers. *** Ask a Soviet engineer to design a pair of shoes and he’ll come up with something that looks like the boxes that the shoes came in; ask him to make something that will massacre Germans and he turns into Thomas <censured> Edison. *** You can be the smartest guy in the world, but when a woman comes into the picture you’re just like any other sap. *** There was no room for dust devils in the laws of physics. *** Christians are notorious for the way they dote on defective persons. *** Your younger nerd takes offense quickly when someone near him begins to utter declarative sentences, because he reads into it an assertion that he, the nerd, does not already know the information being imparted. But your older nerd has more self-confidence, and besides, understands that frequently people need to think out loud. And highly advanced nerds will furthermore understand that uttering declarative sentences whose contents are already known to all present is part of the social process of making conversations and therefore should not be construed as aggression under any circumstances. *** Sometimes wanting is better than having. *** It only takes a single generation to revert to Savagery. *** The fact that the scientific investigator works 50 percent of his time by nonrational means is, it seems, quite insufficiently recognized. *** Intuition, likes a flash of lighting, lasts only for a second. *** As to luck, there is the old miner’s proverb: Gold is where you find it. *** Anticipation never killed anyone. *** Nobody likes a whiner.
And, no, I’m not referring to missing a day yesterday, posting-wise, which was itself a gravely derelict action on my part.
No, I should have mentioned this, from Vox Day, a while ago.
In any event, the Biblical metric for judgment is the fruit of one’s actions, not the human authority’s approval of one’s dogma. The most telling aspect of the debate between Greg Boyd and one of his foremost critics was the appallingly bad behavior of that critic, for which he subsequently apologized. Greg’s not perfect, I vehemently disagree with him on a few issues on which I believe he is using his heart rather than his head. But Open Theory is not one of them, and with very few exceptions, I’ve found the contrary case to not only be unconvincing, but downright embarrassing.
Hint: if your argument involves making obviously inaccurate assertions and appeals to human authority, it isn’t going to cut it. The Responsible Puppet – whose very name betrays his position on OT – knows that, which is why we will be getting into this issue next month, once I’m done with TIA.
A few comments:
1. I thanks him for the sideways compliment.
2. I have yet to see the evidence that Greg Boyd’s Foremost Opponents (or “one of them”, at least) has behaved appallingly. I am doubtful that any exists, unless you think that stating that someone who has a significantly wrong view of the Nature of God should not be a teacher is appalling, which I don’t.
3. We’ll be doing this in August? What, Already? Okay, Okay, he’s writing a book, I know.
4. I look forward to the challenge, next month. I also have some amount of trepidation about it. As we all know, Vox is formidible.
10 1980s Pop Songs which do a good job of revealing (intentionally or unintentionally) the sinful nature of man (in no particular order):
Michael Jackson – Dirty Diana
Eagles – Hotel California
Eagles – Life in the Fast Lane
John Lennon – Imagine
Billy Joel – Only the Good Die Young
J Geils Band – Centerfold
George Michael – I Want Your Sex
Huey Lewis – Jacob’s Ladder
Madonna – . . . . okay, every 80’s Madonna song does this
John Cougar – Lover That Won’t Drive Me Crazy
Am I missing any? (Of course I am . . . )
Physics teaches us: If you’re turning, you’re accelerating.
Definition: Dogstar – N.
An artistic endeavor made possible for an otherwise famous person because of their fame and influence.
In a bookstore:
Person 1: What’s this? A children’s book by that guy from Frazier? Huh. I didn’t know he was an author.
Person 2: He’s not. He just convinced a publisher that his name might sell books. This is his Dogstar.
And by the way . . . good for them – If I ever get rich or famous, I’ll for sure be doing this.
(Another College Poem – Actually perhaps after graduation)
So if peace were like a river,
It would always flow in streams
But even though I’ve wished to find
It’s coolness, still it seems,
That I cannot find the river,
Nor yet even shallow creek,
So I listen for the water
And I wonder where to seek.
Yet if peace were like a river,
Then the search would be no chore,
For every tender knows you tread,
Downhill to find it’s shore,
No need to follow nose, nor eyes,
Only trust to follow feet,
Then sooner now or later there,
Find waters soft and sweet.
But peace is like no river or,
I’m blind, deaf, dumb and lame,
And while I am yet wandering,
I wonder who to blame,
Myself, it is most certain
I am sure not God above,
The poet had a part there, so
I doubt his “Joy” and “Love”
Needless to say – I’d have some questions for Young Jamsco if I were to talk to him. The first two would be – What would give you peace, and Are you so sure you need it?
To which he would probably reply – Easy for you to say!
I’m curious, did anyone get the reference in the last line?
Everything I Ever Needed To Know I Learned From Tom Hanks (Part 2)
I’ve got to get to a library… Fast! ··· The thing about trains… it doesn’t matter where they’re going. What matters is deciding to get on. ··· There’s no greater gift than friendship. ··· Madam, we must have waffles! We must all have waffles forthwith! We must all think, and we must all have waffles, and think each and every one of us to the very best of his ability ··· When I die and I stand before God awaiting judgment and he asks me why I let one of HIS miracles die, what am I gonna say, that it was my job? ··· I think it’s time you learned the true meaning of playtime ··· You, madam, are addressing a man, who is in fact quiet… and yet, not quiet ··· I scarcely contain my glee. ··· 87 hours is an eternity. The cosmos was created in less time. ··· Oh, indeed, indeed. The thirst for knowledge is a very commendable thing. Though I do believe that when you hear the explanation you shall laugh riotously, slappin’ your knee and perhaps even wipin’ away a giddy tear, relieved of your former concern. ··· A big man is ripping your ears off Percy. I’d do as he says. ··· Surely a chocolate assortment has been known to melt the heart of even the hardest misanthrope. ··· Seeing is believing, but sometimes the most real things in the world are the things we can’t see. ··· Sometimes it’s easier livin’ the lie. ··· I can’t stop, it’s my job. ··· Always trust a bank manager. ··· Aha. Look what I’ve created. I have made FIRE. ··· Well, considering that we have lost communication with the engineer, are completely exposed in front of the locomotive, and the train seems to be accelerating uncontrollably, not to mention that we are headed to Glacier Gulch, which just happens to be the steepest downhill grade in the world, I suggest we all hold on… tightly! ··· Gotta love crab. In the nick of time, too. I couldn’t take much more of those coconuts. Coconut milk is a natural laxative. That’s something Gilligan never told us. ··· First thing it’s two minutes, then four, then six, then the next thing you know, we’re the U.S. mail. ··· And I know what I have to do now. I gotta keep breathing. Because tomorrow the sun will rise. Who knows what the tide could bring? ··· But you don’t want to be bamboozled. You don’t want to be led down the primrose path. You don’t want to be conned or duped. Hoodwinked. You don’t want the wool pulled over you eyes. Railroaded. Seeing is believing. Am I right? ··· Men under strain can snap. Hurt themselves. Hurt others. That’s why our job is talking, not yelling. ··· I was a yo-yo! ··· We live and we die by time. And we must not commit the sin of losing our track on time. ··· Batteries need to be replaced. Toys in the bottom of the chest need to be rotated. Oh, and make sure everyone attends Mr. Spell’s seminar on what to do if part of you is swallowed.
You used to see this plaque “That was when I carried you” often, and then there was “That was when we danced” next version of the story, oft passed around on the internet.
I have two small problems with both of these:
1. The super high cheese factor
2. The fact that they are often found in homes (or sent from people) where the plaque (or the email) is the most spiritual aspect of their lives.
But my biggest cause for dislike for both of these little stories is the ignorance on the part of the human. If Christ was carrying him, or if he was dancing with Jesus, shouldn’t he know it? For me the human‘s lack of knowledge about his relationship with Jesus makes the carrying and the dancing seem less real, less significant.
I would appreciate both of these stories more if they were written from the perspective of another human asking the first one what the footprints meant, and the first human correctly explaining, with humility and joy, how they had been formed that way.
All honest prayer is good. But some kinds require more belief, or a different kind of trust in order to pray them.
1. Praying for something which, if the prayer is granted, you will never know it.
Several years ago, I prayed out loud for an ambulance as it was driving by with flashing lights and siren (Prayer for wisdom for the caregivers, peace and healing for the patient.) Since then, we cannot see an ambulance without one of my kids telling me that I should pray. So I always do. And we will never know any details about what happens to the people in the ambulance.
2. Praying for someone who doesn’t know that you are praying for them
I think there is great value in telling someone who is going through some difficult ordeal that you are praying for them. But I fear that there are times when, in my mind, this is the only value. I think it is wise to try not telling them and see if we are still inspired to pray, not just for the nice feeling that someone will think well of us because we are praying for them.
3. Praying for something which, if the prayer is granted, will make your life harder
That your missionary calling will be confirmed, that the adoption will go through, that you get the tough job, that you will be broken of some sin.
4. Praying for something that is unlikely to happen (The Obvious One)
It’s easy to pray “That I will do my best on my finals” (but like I say, it’s still good to pray for this) It is less easy to pray for healing for a man who has been given 3 months to live.
5. Praying for something about an event that has already happened.
This one I think is a bit controversial. Let’s say you get an email from a missionary who sent it on Friday, asking for specific prayer for a big Christian evangelism outreach meeting on Saturday. But you don’t get it until Monday. The meeting has already happened, but, as a Calvinist/hyper-compatibleist I think it is still wise to pray for it, because God, who is in some way outside of time, will know about the prayer and use it just as he would use the prayer that had been made before the meeting. My thought, though, is that an Arminian, or at least an open theist, wouldn’t think this to be wise, because, God doesn’t know what you’re going to pray, so how can he use it? Comments?
Any suggestions for other extra faith requiring prayer types?
People who are able to do something excellently often get paid to do something they enjoy doing.
So at the tail end of this weekend’s camping trip (in which we, as a family of eight, worked hard to keep cool) we drove into the parking lot of the State Park’s Nature Center (all state parks have them – it’s like a free museum!”) and found a little spot of shade to put our car (in hopes of avoiding being scalded on the dark blue plastice seats when we got back) twenty feet from a man standing by a pickup truck that he too had parked with tree shade-employment in mind.
He offered to move his vehicle for us (his shade being slightly bigger than our) but we declined (thanking him) and as we walked across the median he reminded us that there were ticks around (“wood ticks and deer ticks”) and that we should be mindful of this. We told him that we would be sure to check our kids later.
We went into the Nature Center (which was blessedly air conditioned) and tried our hand at naming birds, and animal footprints. We bought 3 t-shirts (only $3 each!) and then went back outside.
And when we got back to our car, there was a twenty dollar bill tucked into the driver’s side door handle.
Here is the thought process that went through my head in the next five seconds:
1. What’s this?
2. Hey, cool, 20 bucks!
3. Now why did he leave that? <I was assuming, and I still have no reason to doubt this assumption, that it was the shade-exploiting-truck’s driver.>
4. <I’m not proud of this overly suspicious thought> What, did he steal something or run into our car and felt guilty about it? <This turned out out to be a false fear, I had left the car unlocked with (perhaps foolishly) some valuable stuff in it, but they are all accounted for.>
5. <After checking to see that the valuables, including a laptop, were still there> Okay, he did it for good reasons. Now what were they?
6. <this was the next idea that popped into my head> Perhaps, he did it because he thought God wanted him to. Why, I have no idea. I don’t think we look poor. We were generally happy when we walked by him. We didn’t provide a service to him.
7. In any case, going with that assumption (that he thought God wanted him to), and the (certainly less evidentially based) assumption that God actually want him to, Why?
8. God has some good use in mind for those 20 dollars. <My thought is that, even if this thought is wrong, it’s not a bad assumption to make. So my question is now. . . >
9. What should I do with the 20 bucks?
In any case – if you were that guy, we thank you!