Thursday, August 30

Going on vacation starting this afternoon. Posting may go down a little, but I'll try to keep it up, at least some.
I know this is pretty passe for some of you, but I just saw 'Merchants of Cool' yesterday for the first time. I knew about this stuff in general, of course, but the lurid examples were detestable. Buying the tape would be money well spent.

Some thoughts:

The only intelligent and moral choice when faced with these realities is to opt out. Get off the hip train. And educate others.

Five companies control almost all teen media: NewsCorp, Disney, Viacom, Universal Vivendi, and AOL Time Warner. Boycotting these companies when possible is a good idea, too.
When you get back from space, all you really want is some real food - cheese, coffee, hamburger, green vegetables. Nothing exotic.

Wednesday, August 29

dear Scott,

I've got no problem with your reluctance to accept that human life is more valuable than animal life. That's totally fair.

The difference between prolonging life and prolonging death might sometimes be a tough one, but I think most of the time it's not that gray. Yes, you stand by and let nature take it's course, trying to make that patient as comfortable as possible. Life support is an option, but not an option that people must take advantage of. I don't think life support violates any religious principles on the face of things.

Yes, God is pragmatic, but we should be very careful about presuming that we know what He would want to do. That is one of the main reasons why we should fell free to let nature take it's course when we're basically in a situation of only prolonging death. Again, we should be careful about presuming how God wants resources used. We should make the best decision we can, but be cautious about saying it's 'God's will'. Easing pain often works, though there are some glitches. Say it's not working is an overstatement. Some pain cannot be medicated. It's a problem. I don't want to poo-poo it. On the other hand, that's part of being human, a part we all too often overlook in this age of 'haven't got time for the pain'. Some pain is senseless, but a lot of pain is sending a message and all human pain can be harnessed for good. (Please don't take this as callous. I really am compassionate about suffering. But now I'm arguing principles.)

Should there be a civil right to commit suicide? If we're going to make freedom the trump-card, yes. However, if we're going to make something like 'life' the trump card, then it follows that things like suicide, euthanasia, capital punishment, and abortion will all be illeagal. Not that I think society's headed this way. I don't. Should we? Maybe. Some of us can propose it and see how people vote. The people choose. It's not legislated morality, strictly speaking. Frankly, I don't have any expectation that 'life' will be the guiding principle. Freedom will be, I think. And I can live with that. But it's surely not always best.

Did I say I'm sorry for the loss of your dog which prompts a lot of these thoughts. I am. I'm sure there's real grief there, as there should be.


Jesse Helms, White Racist. I'm not sure I agree (that he's all the way to racist), but it could be.

Thoughts: How can anyone be pro-tobacco, even with his constituency? I'm not on board w/his nationalism.
Adobe bad (re:Sklyarov). Let'em have it. Free speech good.
USA Today has an article about weblogging that basically says any shmoe can do it/opinions are like noses - everyone has one. I resemble those remarks (via the Blogger.)

Also seen on the front page of Blogger: usage of the trademarked 'zippity' (commonly found on from a post about dating webloggers(on caterina).
Isn't Amazon supposed to be dead by now? I'm not saying this new move is a great one. I don't know. All I'm pointing out is that a lot of people said they wouldn't even exist now, not to mention expanding their services. For my part, I like Amazon and wish them well.

Tuesday, August 28

Dear Ryan,

Link me in your sidebar (like Scott) soon, or suffer the consequences.

Bwa ha ha ha ha ha!!!


Dear Scott,

The reason we are more germane to euthanasia for animals than for humans is that animals are not human. I'll elaborate.

First, we need to be very careful of human life, that it is not extinguished prematurely. This is not a choice people should be making.

Second, there is much value in human life, even when there is profound suffering. The animal life is more simple. We value this. It also means an animal which suffers is consumed by its suffering in ways humans are not.

However, there is a difference between extending life and extending death. In humans, while we allow suffering longer, it is not necessarily the case that we always try to prolong life. If a person is terminal with cancer, you don't have to treat the cancer. You can treat the symptoms and try to make them more comfortable until nature takes its course. However, we draw the line at actively ending a life. That's a dangerous prerogative to claim and take up when it comes to people, much more so than animals (no disrespect meant).

What do you think?


Funny posts by Fuller and John yesterday on 13 Labs.
Matt says Orbitz is the best travel website because it's best designed and easiest to use.
In his ongoing discussion of Bush foreign policy, Nathan gives us an article from the Post about imperialism and how some people think it's a good thing, or at least a necessary evil. I think it's a sickening thing, which will be no surprise to my regular readers.

In addition, I talked about Bush foreign policy with a good friend of mine who's a conservative whom I respect. He had some pretty good concerns about UN involvement (corrupt and wasteful in need of reform) and Kyoto (nobody else wants to sign it either, but we're an easy target) and our national interest compared to 'national building'.

What do I think our position be? We can look out for our own concerns. But we should also be willing to entertain global agenda items posed by other nations, especially blocks of other nations. I don't think we're being good neighbors right now. And we should be able to afford to be a little magnanimous. And obviously less aid should be military, especially to Israel.
Okay, how about this compromise: Must it be the case that Zionism is racism? No. Has Zionism been practiced in a racist way? You bet.

The US not attending the conference is scandalous and motivated by PAC money, in my opinion.

I am not an antisemite. But I think the nation of Israel is clearly oppressing and responding with undue force and it's inexcusable, given their history.

Then again, you've heard this before from me.

Sunday, August 26

Look out! Rob's posting again.

Saturday, August 25

My good friend, Jim, started a weblog. I'm not sure why, yet, but when I find out, I'll let you know.
Oh yeah, and one more link: Wil Wheaton's weblog (via
The things I'm linking to this afternoon are from the Web Today:

The story behind 'Jane Says' and other interesting Jane's Addiction talk.

New Spielberg/Di Caprio project re: world's greatest con man. I heard the real guy on tape one time and the cons he pulled off were really interesting.
Sorry for no updates in a couple days. I was at a conference in town.

Wednesday, August 22

We watched Michael Almereyda's Hamlet last night and I really like it. I consider myself an amateur Hamlet scholar, and it passed muster with me.

It's got me thinking about Hamlet again, and here's my current thesis:

The classic tragedy has a hero with a tragic flaw, usually pride (hubris), who tries to escape fate and gets crushed because of his action.

Hamlet's fatal action is inaction. Here is an evil which calls for immediate justice, but his intellectual sophistication and brooding keep him from that action. It brings complete destruction upon his family and Ophelia's family.

Shakespeare's work is genius. Making the fatal action inaction is a master stroke.

I think the whole Greek fate thing is turned, too, in 'Hamlet' to more of an ethical 'what is the right thing to do'. While there is some mention of fate, I don't think that dynamic is operating as strongly. Does Hamlet cross fate in either action or inaction? It has been said that 'Hamlet' is the first modern play. This would be one sign of that, stepping away from the importance of fate. Compare the importance of fate in 'Romeo and Juliet' and 'Julius Caesar'.

And remember, if Hamlet is certifiably crazy, it's not a tragedy anymore. Technically the hero has to be aware of what he's doing. I thing Hamlet become's a little eratic as time wears on, but I deny that he evers steps into madness.
Matt's '...nothing' had Dave Winer's article on Google's new just-in-time search capabilities.

Monday, August 20

Yesterdayland has saturday morning cartoons by decade (via Chutler at 13 Labs). I chose the 70s (which took me up to 8 years old). Of interest, I give you Ark II, Superfriends, Tarzan, Flash Gordon, and Hong Kong Phooey.

This is my domain, and I protect those who come here, for I am Tarzan, Lord of the Jungle.
quick, interesting baseball update: Record Watch, Homerun Watch, Pennant Watch.

The Cubs better watch out, or they'll be out of the race.

Sunday, August 19

Long, interesting article on the Hubble Space Telescope and it's future. Will it be phased out, or reinvested. The NASA plan calls for the former. I hope they can find the dough for the latter. Could a private company buy it out?
I watched the 'Dune' miniseries this weekend. It was pretty good. I didn't think it was a huge impovement over Lynch's version. I think I will read on in the series this time, though. The official Dune website.

Friday, August 17

Speaking of 'osmosis', why does it get so much air time? Why so much more than 'diffusion', or even 'active transport'? Weird.
If I were going to go see a movie this afternoon (which I'm not, but I'd like to), what would it be?

Maybe 'Osmosis Jones'. It sounds funny, and I love Chris Rock.

Probably not 'The Others'. I don't really do scary movies and I don't have a thing for Nicole Kidman.

Probably not 'The Luzhin Defence'. I like Emily Watson and John Turturro, but I'm not up for something depressing.

Maybe 'Moulin Rouge' for 50 cents.

Maybe 'Memento', but I don't think I want to work that hard today.

Hmm. 'Moulin Rouge' or 'Osmosis Jones'. Tough choice. Unfortunately, I don't have to make it.
Interesting discussion of human cloning going on over at the Clueless Comments.
Here's a discussion of the Joint Strike Fighter. Some good points: Why spend more money when we have the best fighters in the world? If we want to continue to have the best fighters, we have to do R&D. My gut here says skip this generation and go right to unmanned aircraft.
God gets the credit for some very sketchy songs. Does God have to take the blame, too? Ugh again (Is this friday the 13th? Nope, just friday.)
Nathan notes that Bush has been dismantling international accords. Exactly. Nathan writes:

The GOP has long been split between internationalist and isolationist wings, and to go unilateralist seems to satisfy both. We remain involved in international affairs, at least as far as our dictates go, and for trade agreements. However, we refuse to further entangle ourselves in any treaty that would limit our sovereignty or freedom to act.

This is a problem. We shouldn't be so passionate about our 'national interests' that they preclude working with other nations. We're bad neighbors right now, and in some ways a big bully. We're not citizens of the world, we're citizens of America. Ugh.

Wednesday, August 15

LOL!! John's post today is hilarious. He's in good form.

Tuesday, August 14

This article on the early history of Indo-European languages is dated, but I link everything on this topic, and it can lead you to some good places. It's comparatively short and readable (via Robot Wisdom).
Do you know the difference between the inverse and the converse? Can you spot when people use the word 'conversely' incorrectly? I have trouble remembering. If you need a refresher/need to learn it, then take these lessons.

If you take these lessons, then you need a refresher/need to learn it.
If you do not need a refresher/need to learn it, then you do not need to take these lessons.
Steven listed a bunch of useful links, including the Nurse's PDR Resource Center and the CIA World Factbook, and Fallacies. Check out the post, and the recommendations that inspired him.
John has a great entry, typical of his writing that I really enjoy. He covers Hooters, chess, funny conversations with his wife, and studying Japanese, among other topics.

Monday, August 13

Meade Says Bush, Sharon Can Do More to Stop Violence

What a load of crap. Of course Bush could do more. He could support Israel less. Of course Sharon could do more. How does Arafat get singled out? This whole business is driving me crazy.
Eric responded to my response on Thursday. I'm a little late in responding.

Based on his response, I'm happy to call Eric my friend. That is a major positive.

While I appreciate what Brueggemann is trying to get at, I don't think it's fair. I think it's reasonable to come to a coherent understanding of faith and Scripture without being 'selective fundamentalists'. We may disagree here. It requires some work. It's not always obvious. And, frankly, I don't think many in the church have stumbled across it. But I think it's good and possible. (And I could list a lot of scholars in this camp, if anyone was interested.)

Eric is right. Jesus didn't say anything about homosexuality. But Paul did. And I think it's all fairly consistent.

Eric defines two categories of immorality: dishonesty and damage. Sounds like a pretty good definition. My read of the Scriptural position is that sexuality outside of loving (heterosexual) marriage is damaging to both 'consenting adults'. Again, we may disagree here.

Thank you, Eric, for this respectful dialogue. I appreciate it. It has been enriching for me, and I hope for others, too.



Wednesday, August 8

Ryan and Scott (scroll down: 6.8.1 entry (permalink not working properly)) went to see Citizen Fish in OKC.
I don't really agree with Jorn that you can write a web book in one day, but you can edit one, and I'd sure like to do it sometime (if only enough ProtoIndoEuropean stuff was on the web!).
Lots of good stuff over at randomWalks today and yesterday: hipMama:In Defense of Television (a must read for you, Christine), 'The purpose of global poverty... (which may or may not be the purpose, but it's certainly a factor)', and one good reason not to clone humans.
My parents are really into those 'Chicken Soup for the Soul' books. My brother once bought them 'Chicken Poop for the Soul'. Now that's funny. I often laugh hysterically when I tell that story. (Amazon actually has 4 books in this vein.)
We're having an interesting followup discussion on Steven's post over at Clueless Comments.

Tuesday, August 7

Another link from Steven, this time regarding my post from yesterday on Christianity and sexuality.

I think Steven misread me as Ian Jackson pointed out in the comments section (last one as of this writing). I do realize that I'm saying that extramarital sex (including unmarried sex) is sin.

In addition, I reiterate the end of my previous post, modified for a wider audience:

So what would I say to people who are sexually active outside of marriage about this issue, if asked? I’d say God loves you. That’s the main thing to come to terms with. And for our good God has directed us with certain laws/commands. If we don’t agree on those presuppositions, we’re going to have a hard time agreeing on the morality of sex. But I hope we can be friends. And I will strive to love you as I strive to love everyone around me.

And if you didn't pick it up the first time, please go back and reread the article. My first move is to critique conservatives who aren't loving. The main point of this post is not to bash 'sinners', of which I am one.

Monday, August 6

Zowie! Two links on the good ship Clueless, Steven's evaluation of Blogdex. Steven wrote (after listing my site, among others):

Every site I just listed is at least as good as Jason's site and some of them are vastly better, and yet Kottke's site is linked more than all the rest of them combined.

There you have it in print:
Sean Meade's 'interact': at least as good as (and maybe vastly better).

I'll put in this word of praise for Jason, without contradicting Steven's obvious good taste: I link Jason and I regularly enjoy his posts. That is all.

(ps: Steven's post tells you how to search Blogdex for your site.)
Cash for Ukrainian Nazi-Era Slave Workers

Kolchynsky and others who were incarcerated in concentration camps are set to receive $6,754 each, while those forced to work in factories under abominable conditions will get about $2,700 each.

Everyone knows these amounts of money are a pittance, compared to what these people went through. But it's interesting.
Want to read what 'Entertainment Weekly' wrote about blogging (via Matt). Not like I care. I'm above their commentary (except, I guess I did read the whole article :-).
Eric has a very touching entry about being a gay Eagle Scout. You should read this if you want to know how a gay man, and probably many other homosexuals, feel about the Boy Scouts these days.

Which side do I stand on this issue, as an orthodox, Evangelical, historically connected Christian pastor? Neither. Am I for Eric and other gays and homosexuals or am I for ‘the truth’? Yes.

Usually these kinds of debates polarize into two variously named sides: liberal and conservatives, sinners and saints, lovers and haters.

When I’m thinking clearly, I frame the debate differently.

Jesus came 'full of grace and truth (John 1)'. Paul told us to 'speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4.15)'. Usually those of us on the conservative side are for the truth. And those of us on the liberal side are for love. But the truth without loves sounds a lot like hate. And love without truth looks like licentiousness.

I want to try to hold these two values in tension: grace/love and truth.

We see a good example of the need for this in parenting. Parents love their children. But sometimes this means disciplining them. An overly permissive parent will ultimately allow harm to come to her child which she could have prevented.

Hopefully some Christians can stake out a place in the middle of this issue between love that allows anything, even that which contradicts God's revealed truth, and truth without loves that smacks of hate.

I haven’t followed the Boy Scout debate closely enough to know how the conservatives there have fought. Maybe they’ve taken the high ground. Maybe they are speaking the truth in love. I hope so.

If not, they are poorly representing ‘the truth’. Jesus was a lot harder on people who prosecuted the truth in the wrong spirit (eg, the Pharisees) than He was on people who allowed everything (eg, the tax collectors and ‘sinners’).

Having laid out my conceptual framework, I can give you my specific views on this issue.

My faith and tradition and community going back 4000 years view sex as moral only in loving marriage. Anything else - extramarital sex including premarital sex and homosexuality and also, I think, sex in a marriage where there isn't mutual submission and where the husband doesn't love his wife as Christ loved the Church (Ephesians 5.21-33) - is immoral.

I think part of the problem here is that we conservatives often argue for standards of morality that are less than the full Biblical standard. It makes us into de facto hypocrites when we argue against homosexuality but don't speak up for loving marriages. It’s like we’re saying all sex in marriage is moral. And that’s not true. And it can also sound like we think we’re righteous since we’re not homosexuals, and that’s not true either.

Of course, maybe the biggest part of the problem is our typical conservative failing to love the person whose 'sin' we decry. We are all sinners, even if you just look at the Ephesians passage above. This passage shows that any of us who lives out sexuality and sexual behavior outside of a loving marriage relationship sins. Jesus taught the same thing when He said in the Sermon on the Mount that those who lust commit adultery in their hearts. If we point without love to homosexuals as sinners we sin ourselves.

Additionally, in my tradition, we believe that we sin because we are sinners, born and raised outside of God’s plan A for the world. We aren’t sinners because we sin, as if anyone who could keep from sinning would keep from becoming a sinner. No, we are sinners by nature (original sin), therefore, we sin. Therefore, it’s no surprise that we’re sinners. The trouble comes when we try to avoid that moniker through denial (There is no such thing as sin.) or ‘righteousness’ (I don’t sin.).

Another position that is often advocated here is that homosexuality is not immoral because it can be innate. I have innate feelings that are promiscuous and lustful and could lead toward really bad behavior if I left them unchecked. I have innate feelings that are violent and could lead to really bad behavior if left unchecked. Natural feelings don’t make for moral or amoral behavior. And feelings in themselves aren’t bad. It’s not bad to be tempted to do wrong things, to feel like doing them. It’s only bad to do them.

So what would I say to homosexuals about this issue, if asked? I’d say God loves you. That’s the main thing to come to terms with. And for our good God has directed us with certain laws/commands. If we don’t agree on those presuppositions, we’re going to have a hard time agreeing on the morality of sex. But I hope we can be friends. And I will strive to love you as I strive to love everyone around me.

Saturday, August 4

It's a long struggle for justice. It is grassroots movements that create real change, and no grassroots movement ever got anywhere compromising its ideals. Real change won't happen at Washington cocktail parties or in the Lincoln Bedroom.

Tim Robbins on why he voted for Nader (a little long. He really gets going on the second page.)(via randomWalks).

Friday, August 3

I read 'The High King' by Lloyd Alexander wednesday night. Alexander did a lot of things right.

Our heroes are overwhelmed. They get defeated a lot.

Our hero, Taran, finally has matured beyond seeking glory and honor. He seeks to do his duty now, but appreciates the value of humble pursuits.

The end is very well done. Like Tolkien, much of the magic of the past passes away, the House of Don like Tolkien's elves. However, in Tolkien, this passing is more bitter than sweet. In Alexander, the bitter and sweet are matched: humans are coming into their own and the future is truly one worth living. In Tolkien I'm left only longing for the past, settling for the present.

The defeat of Arawn, however, was too easily accomplished once they got to Annuvin. The cauldron-born were too easily dispatched, as was Arawn. This is my one major complaint.

All in all, though, very well done and much appreciated. Worth reading.
Did you notice the evolving design? I'm hoping to bring in a major redesign soon. I've roughed it out, but have to get everything polished up.
You should also read Nathan's The Worst SCOTUS [Supreme Court] Decisions ever.
Steven has an amazing post on military ecology and logistics. If you have the slightest interest in such things, you must check it out.
Update: the 13s got 756 visitors off of Blogdex in one day. Crazy. Oh yeah, and their basement flooded, too, but they were ready so it's merely interesting and not sad.
Found in referrer logs: Google search: how to break a man's heart. Whoa, it's in some other language, maybe Lithuanian (judging by the link)?
Jason updated his recommendations and I drilled all the way down to McSweeney lists. These are sometimes funny, especially those written by Greg Knauss (formerly of 'Entirely Other Day'). I especially like LINES OF "STAR WARS" DIALOGUE IF OBI-WAN KENOBI HAD BEEN REALLY, REALLY DEPRESSED and ADVERTISING SLOGANS TARGETED AT THE LOVECRAFTIAN ELDER GODS (which I've linked before).
I agree with Eric on this 'tax relief' business. Bad business, getting worse. On top of that, I don't get any 'relief' because I count as self-employed, as a pastor. Insult to injury.
More on NASA's X planes.
Did you know that Iowa is one of the leading states supporting the government's case against Microsoft (very bottom)? That's because Iowa rules.

Wednesday, August 1

My friend John's site was on Blogdex yesterday and got 500 hits. Yowza. Congrats, John.
Very interesting review of 'Apocalypse Now Redux' (via RobotWisdom).
Lance Armstrong was going to generate 97.2 million watts "enough to power his home town for 2 hours and 28 minutes". (via Steven today).
An idea whose time has come: Gorillaz.

The 'Clint Eastwood' video is for real, musically and visually.
Clint Eastwood

There's another nice video on their homepage (requires Shockwave 8).

Visually, I like the anime influences.

(And, by the way, Steven talked at length about synthespians yesterday.)
One of the best things about Launch is you can listen to songs you want to hear on demand, whether you watch the video or not. (esp. w/o broadband)

My top videos I’ve seen:

Losing my religion
Take on me
Express yourself
Smells like Teen Spirit

Others: Cherish, Vogue, Love will never do, Disarm, Bullet with butterfly wings (with a strong attractive woman dancing around with black and white photography theme. What can I say?)

Want to see what else is out there? VH1's top 100.
Fatboy Slim's 'Praise You' got voted best video ever. Hmmm. Seems overated.
John Cusack for President: article. site.
Ohmigosh. I'm stunned. Vikings Tackle Korey Stringer Dies After Heatstroke. He got it at practice. How terrible.
Shades of Mussolini? Italy Orders Media to Hand Over Film of G8 Protest. I don't know, maybe this isn't a big deal. It appears they're not saying don't use them. They want them for evidentiary purposes.