Friday, December 27

John 13 wrote on December 18th that he likes the Lord of the Rings board game. I got it from my brother this Christmas and it is very cool. It's collaborative instead of competitive and, like John said, it plays surprisingly like the books. We won the first time (though I'm not convinced we were playing right) and have lost the two subsequent times we've played.

(John 13 has lots of other good stuff over there, as usual, so go read that, too.)
Kottke pointed me toward the Perpetual War Portfolio. Pretty cynical, though I don't disagree with much of what dack's saying. The connections are alarming. For example, Mrs Cheney is Director of Lockheed Martin. Doesn't that constitute conflict of interest?

Nosing around over there, I found dack's interesting takes on investing; determining the optimum age for your next wife, girlfriend, or mistress (22 for me); and determining your social class based on what you drink.

Here's my Christmas post, two days late.

I got it from Brad (from Dec 24th - no permalink b/c I'm not getting the right result from his archives. You might want to check that, Brad.).

(By the way, I'm now coding for simple images like the one above without even having to view someone else's code. Yeah, i'm L33T, man!)
Started another weblog today. Don't worry, you don't have to read it. I'm calling it interact annex. It's just a place for me to stick stuff that I want handy and easily linked and ordered and Googled and I don't have to ftp it myself. I'll probably send you over there, occasionally.

Thursday, December 26

Well, I won my fantasy football league. I'm really happy about it. Congratulations to me.
John posted about a temple found in Greece that was virtually untouched.

I wanted to know where it is: Greece --> Cyclades --> Kythnos
The 1.6 Newsweek cover story: 2003 is going to be the year of The Matrix (until The Return of the King comes out).

There's a preview link about 1/3 of the way down. It wasn't really worth watching, in my opinion, though the attached 'Animatrix' one was - that's a cool looking DVD.

There are some really poorly chosen words in quotes - comparing one of the directors to a 'jihad warrior' and calling making the movie 'like the Crusades'. Aren't we ever going to leave this kind of vocabulary for the horror that spawned it?

The cool, new technology stuff is about 80% of the way down.

You might get interested enough to check out the official site. I browsed their section on philosophy, which begins with an overview of Descartes and the cogito ergo sum (which foundationalists criticize as being dubito ergo sum).

Is it really the case that 'where ignorance is bliss, 'tis folly to be wise.'? My intellectual integrity says 'no', but I'll be honest with you: sometimes the travail of life (am I being melodramatic here? histrionic?) tempts me to this strategy of just getting by.
A little bit interesting: The Atheist Christmas Challenge: Can you prove God doesn't exist? Jim Holt does a nice job of countering the commonly held view that theism is totally unfounded and atheism is totally founded. Just when you thought some of this was serious and might be going somewhere, he takes a funky turn in the penultimate paragraph and ends cutely, but unsatisfyingly, either way. It turns into just another egghead-ed mind trip. Comments?
I guess I inspired Scott to look into Russ Feingold. Sounds like the guy has potential.

And, in the same campaign line, Eric has his take on a winning strategy for the Dems.

Tuesday, December 24

Matt is calling his friends Tolkien names. How would I do the same?

The Lady Christine Undomiel, the Evenstar of her husband.
Princess Elizabeth the Beautiful, the White Lady of Tulsa.
Prince Wil, son of Sean, Tier of Knots, Singer of VeggieTunes, Teller of Jokes.
Jason Edward of Waterloo, the learned bard, Lover of Poems, Guide of Children.
Jaquandor of Syracuse, Minstrel, Writer of Lines.
John the Hardy of Oz, Singer of Ancient Tales.
John Thirteen the Fearless, confronter of Beggars, Democrats, and the Cursed Number.
Eric the Quiet (who is lately finding his voice again), Writer of Kind Words.
Brad of Turlock, Pastor, Early-Adopter, Scourge of PoMo.
Scott SeaCrest, Sailor of CyberWaves, Basketball GM par excellence, Champion of Justice.
(I thought about making Scott Mr Furious...)

And who am I? (When I think of that question I always think of Les Mis - 'I'm Sean ValSean!'.)
Sean the Proud, son of Paul, Teacher, Ensorcelled by the Web.

Now, you add to any of these lists, or add new names, or name yourself.

Wednesday, December 18

I always imagine my directions going wrong somehow, causing total strangers to curse my name for generations to come. "That handsome bastard led my grandpa astray! I despise beautiful people now and forever" says the future Southern fellow.

This is why society always fails in the end.

I always love it when John calls himself handsome. If you think he's funny, like I do, go over there and read everything he's written in the last week: funny bus stories.
You have to love Jessamyn's technically legal signs to be posted in your library warning you that the FBI might be watching you.
In the same political vein, Eric has a couple of new pieces of advice for the Dems.

Eric also writes that this compassionate conservative stuff is for real. I'd say the appearance of it is. Lott and Nickels can have terrible civil rights records, so long as they say the right thing.

Couldn't we just pretty much put some of this advice together and help the Dems to at least push the Repubs a little? This stuff seems so obvious. Isn't it?
Brad keeps writing about Postmodernism, so I keep thinking about it. My favorite quote:

Simplifying in the extreme, I define Postmodernism as incredulity toward metanarratives.
- Jean Francois Lyotard
My Two Towers Review
I really liked it. You should go.

I was really very pleased. Sometime in the first hour it was just ok with me (for the most part) that there were a lot of things that Jackson added or made up (but no spoilers yet). It's different, almost like fan fiction inspired by tLotR (though not that big a departure).

I really liked:
- Miranda Otto as Eowyn, like I knew I would.
- Eomer, though there wasn't quite enough of him.
- Edoras and the part of Grima and Theoden's change (though it's much more obvious, and not as nice and subtle as it was).
- Treebeard and the ruin of Isengard (the Entmoot and expanded role of Merry and Pippin left me cold).
- Gandalf's return and all of Ian McKellan's scenes; he is so wonderfully expressive.
- the opening scene of Gandalf fighting the Balrog and then the subsequent one (though a little to Near Death Experience-ish (though it was an NDE).
- Gollum - everything about him, really. This part was especially well done, really the best Gollum interpretation I've seen or heard. There is a lot of original material here that I didn't really mind. It makes it obvious for the audience, which is ok. There's sort of a schizophrenic treatment of Gollum as Smeagol and Stinker. You really feel sympathy for Gollum, and even disappointment that Frodo's deception of him pushes him over the edge to turn them over to Shelob (though this movie doesn't make it that far).
- much less cheesy, can't-stand-it Liv Tyler stuff than I feared.

No criticism until after the next viewing (Sunday afternoon with my brothers and sister).

I really liked it. I'm a little surprised. Are you?

Tuesday, December 17

Hear me now. Believe me now. The way Kelly Holcomb played earlier in the season, he should get to try the last two games and Tim Couch should be benched. That is all.
Five weeks ago I thought I was out of contention in fantasy football. Then I caught fire. My team has won the last five weeks in a row, including the semi-finals this past weekend. I'm playing for the league title this weekend and I am totally stoked. I learned a lot and worked hard. I'm a regular Horatio Alger story. Maybe I'll be like the Patriots last year and run the table, which is what both they and I had to do.

But, I'm playing my brother for the championship. He invited me into the league and I'm just so happy to have done this well, I don't really care who wins.

This has become a really fun hobby for me and my question is: what am I going to do until august (when I can start obsessing about my draft)?

Monday, December 16

I, among many, am really glad Al Gore's not going to run. He wouldn't give George the 2nd a run for his money.

Gore said if he ran he'd just go with what he felt (basic unreconstructed liberal), not try to guess where the people are (poll). That was a recipe for losing. Pure liberals cannot win a presidential race in this country, unless the conservatives totally screw up. There aren't that many liberal voters - not pure ones. It might just be the fly-over people who are conservatives, or moderates at best, but you need some of their votes. Liberals have to at least pretend to be moderate. Or Democrats have to be moderate. Or they have to be total slaves to the polls, like Clinton (what do you want me to be?).

Who are some of the other contenders: Lieberman, Gephardt (career politician - ugh), Biden, Edwards, Daschle (wrong Ag. Bill position), Kerry (no).

To win:

It's still the economy, stupid. National Security will still be the top issue, and no one can beat Bush on it. But the economy's next, and the Dems should challenge Bush's tax cuts, especially to the wealthy. They should campaign to reinstate some of those cuts. And how about this for the ads: Tech moguls own sports teams and race ships and watch from their huge yachts. They sold while you bought and then the Dow went down.

If this were fantasy football, someone who's more of a longshot could really bet on Iraq going badly. Be the candidate who's against it. If it goes fine and there's incontrovertible proof that we should have taken them down, you're out. But if anything wrinkles, you're suddenly the stand up guy.

The Dems should hammer education and the environment. Bush has slacked up on these things a lot. I don't know how many votes they could garner, but there's a chance.

Not that I want the Dems to win. But let's at least make it interesting.
I'm someone who's very prone to getting song stuck in my head (if you've known me in RL/meatspace you know this is true). Lovely Interact Correspondent Christine sent in this fact-filled tretise Why Some Ditties Stick in Your Head.

(You're a musician, Jaq. Comments?)
Got our tickets for TTT tomorrow night. Cross your fingers for a tolerable experience.

Friday, December 13

John J Miller has a great editorial about Tolkien in the 12.6 edition of the WSJ called Myth at the Multiplex.

Specifically, he picks up Gandalf's line about being 'a servant of the Secret Fire', asking why Jackson would leave it in when it is so obscure.

Answer: because it's a wicked-cool line, no matter where you're coming from and this sort of subtle magic is key to Tolkien's spells (see the attendant post The enormous power of reticence and discussion on Collaboratory).

By way of further explanation, Miller quotes Bradley J Birzer's new book 'JRR Tolkien's Sanctifying Myth' which says this is the 'most important religious statement in the book'. That statement is moot (ie to say, unendingly arguable). However, Birzer goes on to write 'The Secret Fire, Tolkien once told a friend, is really the Holy Spirit.'.

Now, there are a bunch of people who want to say Birzer is wrong here and that Gandalf is just talking about Nenya, the ring of fire (cue Johnny Cash).

But if this is what Tolkien said, which we can't prove but seems highly likely, then there's really no arguing or reinterpreting it.

(In fact, I think most of the ideas asserted as facts over on the Opinion Journal Reader's Responses, eg Christian appropriation of a pagan feast to observe Christ's birth being a myth, are wrong compared with Miller's facts.)

Tolkien's work continues to inspire me (though I have a lot of trepidation about TTT's departures).
I'm becoming a bigger My Way fan all the time. They've expanded their personalization to multiple pages. Aaaaahh.

Thursday, December 12

Have you seen all of the Google-y good on the web these days?

Google Labs now has Webquotes and Viewer.

The Google Zeitgeist for the first 11 months of the year is out.

Froogle is Google's product-finder. It's kind of like what Paul was talking about with Google Marketplace, but without a cut for Google. It's better and purer that way. They can still make money on (appropriate) ads.

The Google Weblog suggested:

What are the most linked-to pages? If you do a search for "http" (as in, http://) you get something pretty close to the answer. It's probably not exact (Google and Yahoo are reversed from their Google Directory rankings, for example) but it's pretty interesting.

A friend sent me this picture. I didn't want to upload it, so I Googled it, the name of the comic escaping me. I found out it was Foxtrot from Allison's weblog: Middle School Life Through the Eyes of Allison, which has a lot of LotR stuff on it. Thanks, Allison.

Wednesday, December 11

You know those allegations you've seen about weblogs leaning right and how there's so much right-wing politics in weblogs? Technorati has the top 100 weblog links. Look at the list and assess: right, left, tech, entertainment, or other?
Yemen Demands U.S. Return Scuds Seized on Ship

I'm not for war or anything, but headlines like that are funny to me. Return them, or what?

Tuesday, December 10

One of the best things I've ever heard on SportsCenter (about two years ago):

It's hard for the Lightning to get the lid back on that 55-gallon drum of beat-down.
A couple of found things (no commentary):

The four most important inventions of all time (in Steven's opinion) I saw this URL and thought 'Cool, another Tolkien URL!'. Wrong. It's Finnish, which Quenyan was modled after. What's more, it has something to do with Lutheranism (and may just mean 'Lutheran')

Have you noticed Google has pages in your native language of Elmer Fudd and Borkborkbork and Hacker and Klingon? And they're working on others...

404 Site not found according to Edgar Allen Poe a la 'The Raven'

One PC, Six Hard Drives, 37 OSes
I always think John is funny:

John and Colin are on the phone, discussing OJ Simpson's run from the law. The year is 1994.

John: Where do you think he is going?
Colin: Obviously he is going to kill himself.
John: Hold on, I am going to make a sandwich.
Colin: Don't blame me if you miss a once in a lifetime chance to see OJ kill himself.

John goes and makes a sandwich, the kind is no longer remembered.

John: Did I miss anything?
Colin: Yeah, OJ is dead. I hope you enjoy your sandwich.
John: Noo!
Colin: No.
I sure will be happy when this online meet people killer app has tapped out and I don't have to see all the cheesy ads any more.
I'm pretty sure I had the first two comments on the new system over at Brad's Desultory (great title).
In case you're interested, I really kicked it over at Collaboratory with many comments and a long, detailed post on Dostoevsky.
Congratulations to Brad Banks, QB at Iowa, AP Player of the Year.

Monday, December 9

There was an interesting article about Pearl Jam in USA Today on friday. They 'released a live double album for each of the 72 shows on its 2000-1 world tour - a staggering 144 discs.' It really worked for them: they sold fine and maintained higher quality of bootlegs and got money that illicit bootleggers might have gotten. They sold 1.3 million copies. This time around, they're only going to sell for a week after the show off of their website, and then the ones they like the best, they'll keep distributing nationally.

Now this is Pearl Jam. They're successful and set up. Could a similar kind of model work for your regular band?
Thoughts while sitting in front of football with my laptop yesterday (now if only we had Wi-Fi!)

For all of those people who said around week 5 that the Bledsoe trade was a bad idea: Baloney! It was too early to tell. Bledsoe is an amazing athlete, but Brady gets it done. True, Drew doesn't have the same supporting cast or coaching. But he makes bad decisions, too. He doesn't have that intangible winner thing. Maybe he's kind of like Marino in that way: great guy, great athlete, great mechanics, can't win it. Some of that is circumstantial. But there are some guys who get it done - the Joe Montanas of the world. He wasn't the most gifted athlete ever. But he could win with the best of them.

The Conventional Wisdom is that you shouldn't lose your starting position to injury. I don't think that's right. I think you go with the guy who is performing right now. I think Bill Belichek made the right call last year sticking with Brady (is this a theme?).

Most overused phrase in football: guts. This stuff doesn't matter enough for it to be guts. If it does, there's a big lack of perspective. (Of course that begs the question: why do I give it so much time? Is it enough that it's fun?)

Terrell Owens is one of the most amazing athletes playing football today. Every catch and run is a potential touchdown. His catch in the second half was totally singular. He's tougher and plays harder than Moss. But he's a punk, so I don't pull for him. I'd pull for effective, decent competitors, guys with class: Cris Carter, Jeff Garcia, Tom Brady, Emmitt Smith, Priest Holmes, and the like.

The way to win in the NFL is to put together a solid offensive line as the core for reasonable money. If you hae that, you don't need world-beater backs and recievers. You want a good kicker, too. After that you can get good guys on defense without paying too much. You can get effective backs and recievers. But if you gamble and spend too much money on big free agent 'stars', your O-line will probably suck, and then your stars will get killed. New England has built a good budget team that way without having to go through salary cap hell. Sheesh, I'm talking myself into being a New England fan.

Dallas has some young players like Woody Danzler and Roy Williams that they can build on. But they're O-line is terrible now.

I'm also becoming a Philadelphia fan. They just keep winning, with whatever QB they stick in there.
John Hardy had a cool post about a Victorian Laser featuring the quote 'Hodges emitted a scream the like of which I hadn`t heard since his scrotum was burned off during my experiment with fluorine gas last year.'

Friday, December 6

Have you seen the subculture that goes along with Jim Rome? I had no idea. Now that I'm managing a couple of fantasy sports teams, I've been listening to sports radio more. I caught some of Jim Rome today and he had me laughing out loud, so I thought I'd check the website.

Whoa. It looks every bit as bad as Rush Limbaugh, subculture-wise, with all of their inside jargon and their own name for Rome-followers (clones). Scary stuff. Comments?
John 13's got a funny story about impersonating a police officer (not laugh-out-loud funny, but worth reading. not that it's not laugh-out-loud funny. such a story wouldn't be - unless maybe heard in person, which i would love. enough stream-of-conciousness dissembling and commentary.).
John's got some cool pictures titled Our Earth as Art

Wednesday, December 4


-- Click Here To Take The Test --

I got this from John. Like him, I conclude that these results could have been worse. I have one more 'Moderate' score than John does. These assessments seem about right to me. Why do we display these things? What were your results?
Brad is a fellow pastor in the Evangelical Covenant Church. He writes saying that he thinks the cries of 'paradigm shift!' regarding postmodernism are overwrought. He says rather than an abrupt shift this is a drift that's been going on for years and (without outting him, age-wise), he's probably the right age to know (and that's an ok thing!).

He makes a good point when he says there is an American bias in any such description. A lot of this stuff only relates to the US, and some only to middle-upper class whites in the suburbs.

However, the international perspective actually supports the paradigm shift theory, in part. It at least brings a valuable observation. Multiculturalism and globalism are part of the world worldview in ways they have never been before. Add to that the export of USAmerican pop culture (much of which is bad and harmful) and I see a new, emerging global reality. Time is 'speeding' up. The pace of change is accelerating. The amount of person hours available for the cranking out of scientific and cultural developments is expanding rapidly.

I'm not being anywhere near comprehensive here. Anyone want to help me fill this out? What do you think? Brad, come back...
War is coming.

I caught Rumsfeld (no precise link, sorry) on the news last night. He said any nation with any intelligence gathering capacity at all knows that Iraq has WMD. It will be up to Iraq to confess.

I think what will happen is that Iraq will say they don't. They'll roll the dice on world opinion stopping a forceable US disarmament of Iraq. And it won't.

Tuesday, December 3

I have to note Kathy's quote of Wil. When OU lost on saturday she said she was 'sad and sad a lot'.

Monday, December 2

I posted twice to the front page of SportsFilter today (hope that wasn't too much).
For those of you interested in the Hawkeyes: How Kirk Ferentz rebuilt the right way

Wednesday, November 27

Just to keep you updated on my wishlist: As you know, I really want an integrated PDA/phone. The top contenders for me are the Samsung SPH-I300 (can't get a permalink. look under phones and the Siemens SX56. The latter would work with my current service (AT&T), though I imagine it would cost more. I don't really care if it's Palm or Pocket PC. Anybody want to gift me with one of these? The Samsung's only 300$ right now with the 100$ rebate (though temporarily sold-out).
Jonathan Peterson has a comprehensive dissection of the Fox CEO's Comdex keynote speech. Peterson's totally on the customer-rights side and the suit's totally on the middleman's side. I'm obviously a little biased.
So, something I found on Steven Berlin Johnson was a post about at a discussion about social software. The room was wi-fied, so people with laptops could chat on a screen that everyone could see while the discussion was going on. The very idea of this kind of interaction thrills me. I love multiple data streams. One of my favorite instances of this is Pop Up Video.

The group found that the jokes migrated to chat. It kept thet conversation going, but took the laughter out of it, and laughter is really important. Fascinating dynamics!
postmodern hagiography (which phrase is not even close to a Googlewhack)(via kottke): David (Me Talk Pretty One Day) Sedaris doesn't like Dave (A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius) Eggers because the latter is 'a horrible person'. Looks like Sedaris might be justified. (I linked Eggers email evisceration of David Kirkpatrick one time. Eggers was certainly thorough that time. And, actually, it looks like Eggers is pulling a somewhat similar stunt. I trust I'm small potatoes enough to not get smacked down, too.)
Found weblogs:

Danny Yee's Pathologically Polymathic, nominated for best title (via Robot Wisdom, of which it is self-acknowledgledly a pure clone and many of the links come from there and /.). I have actually linked Danny's Book Reviews before.
Steven Berlin Johnson, author of 'Emergence: The Connected Lives of Ants, Brains, Cities, and Software' and 'Interface Culture: How New Technology Transforms The Way We Create And Communicate' (via kottke).
Jason put a great post on Collaboratory with two quotes about misanthropy. It prompted me to wax eloquent:

i'm fairly misanthropic, i think. i skate pretty close to these descriptions. a big part of this is my own burning desire to justify myself. i find flaws in many other people and magnify those flaws for my conceptual gain.

one sign of my misanthropy of the second kind: i often say 'the masses are asses'.

i have observed that many cynics are disappointed idealists. i think that's part of the dynamic here. i desire the ideal and i have trouble letting it go.

how can you get off my hook? be self-aware. the biggest offenders in my book are people who have big, glaring blind-spots, whether or not they're 80% better people than me.

the Swift quote reminds me of someone who characterized the South by saying they hate Blacks but love Mamie, while in the North, they hate individuals, but love 'Blacks'.

would it be too far to go to say the first sentiment in Jason's post is a kind of liberalism while the second sense is a kind of conservatism? i think there are some parallels.

Tuesday, November 26

The new book, In God's Time, will give you one perspective on how some educated Christians look at the apocalyptic aspects of the Christian faith.

One of the links on that page - Who is Tim LaHaye? (he wrote 'Left Behind' and was named the most influential Evangelical from 1975-2000) - was written by a very well respected Christian thinker - Tom Sine. I bet you'd find it interesting.

Monday, November 25

Steven predicts our attack on Iraq will begin by the end of december and must start by march. I believe the attack will happen, and probably pretty shortly after the report the Iraqis are going to file on december 8th, which will probably say they don't have any WMD and we will say 'Yes you do.'.
The continuing saga of Great Plains Airlines (I trust mine is the only weblog with this coverage!): the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority is going to take it over and build a real-live hub in Tulsa and try to grow it. I'm watching this with great interest because I wonder if such subsidization of industry really works, ie is this a good investment of tax dollars/government revenues.
Someone came to my site from this Google search (mouseover - placed there so it doesn't result in any more refers). Eek! It's not here, I swear it!
The Wal-Mart petition fight, relative to Michael Moore's anti-gun crusade, is really good reading.
I see on Blogger that Kevin Conboy won the design contest. I'll save you the Google. Here's his 5k profile and his entry from last year (which I really like by the way) and his weblog. Shades of things to come...
Remember your death.

That's what a memento mori is supposed to help you do. It's a death memo.

John Hardy posts a link to a study of death and photography in the 19th century with a fascinating observation:

In his 1955 article, "The Pornography of Death," Gorer points out that death is treated in twentieth century society much like sex was treated in the nineteenth century. The subject is avoided, especially with children, or spoken of in euphemisms if it cannot be avoided. Death now, like sex then, is hidden, an event which takes place behind closed doors. The opposite is also true: in the nineteenth century, death was discussed as freely and openly as sex is today. If, as Freud has postulated, society is founded upon--and defined by--its repressions, our society has undergone a psychological about-face since the nineteenth century.

Click through this link. You don't have to read it if you don't want to, but scan the pictures (except if you're a mother of young children - nothing gruesome, it just might hit too close to home for you. There are a lot of pictures of children laid out for funerals.

Have you thought about your death lately? What will happen after you die? How does your impending death shape your decisions today?

Some of you received an email I sent out a year or more ago that was my own funeral address. Wish I lived like that.
There's only one thing I can possibly think about during this season: The Hanukkah Song.

Friday, November 22

Scott posted Pitchfork's top 100 albums of the 80s. Some commentary:

Murmur. definitely Murmur. 'shaking through' is one of my top 3 REM songs.

Smiths-wise i prefer Strangeways... unbelievable, front to back.

Joy Division/New Order - yes.

sure wouldn't pick Disintegration for the Cure.

Cowboy Junkies: good.

Leonard Cohen has written some amazing songs, though I've only heard covers.

'In a perfect world, the Red Hot Chili Peppers disbanded upon hearing [Nothing's Shocking].'

the Police were great, but Synchronicity is too polished for my taste.

It'd be fun to do the top groups of the 80s and list their top songs - work with their whole body of work during that decade. That's probably more of what I'm doing here, anyway.

Monday, November 18

I'm going out of town for a couple of days. Probably no updates until friday.
This week's sign that the apocalypse is upon us: there's a free term paper on John Wesley.
I posted to the Monday morning SpoFi NFL thread.
Alright. Jason wants me to fight him. I'll fight him, I've just been waiting a little while.

I joked that criticizing Tolkien was heresy. Jason said, really? can he do no wrong?

Heresy, Sean? There are flaws in this work, no? Is the poetry not a little wearisome, at times? Does it bother nobody that descriptions of Sauron's creation of orcs, goblins, et al parallel racist descriptions of how "degenerate" races came into our world? The language there is not far off.

There's a little hyperbole in my baiting here, okay? A complex work of literature can stand up to some pretty big hits, and I think The LOTR is up to the challenge. But doesn't *anything* about Tolkien's work bother you?

Does anything about Tolkien's work bother me? Nope, not really - not for what it was.

If I ever get around to doing something on this order, will I do it differently? Absolutely. We even kicked this around one time, Jason and I and some others. We called the project 'Eos'. It was going to be appropriately multi-cultural. It would, of course, have given due honor to women.

Problem was, for me, I couldn't get interested in it.

Sometimes my high-minded ideals get in the way of what I like/love and what I can pull off. In some of my work on a fantasy world, I thought it'd be nice to do a language, at least the rudiments. I started it and thought, on the first word ('love' incidentally) 'There's no way I'm going to come up with new root words for all of this stuff!' That's about when I realized if I'm ever going to do something like this, which trends look bad and I might not even start until I get to heaven, if I do, somehow, by grace - if I ever do it it's going to be radically simplified. It's got to be stuff I'm interested in if it's ever going to get done, not high-minded ideals.

So what do I do? I'm a pacifist by principal, but I love reading about military strategy (like in Orson Scott Card) and good guys triumphant in war (like in Tolkien). Ursula K LeGuin does a better job of peaceful, interesting fantasy writing (sung to the tune of 'Peaceful, Easy Feeling'), so there's some hope there. I believe in multi-culturalism, but I'm most acquainted with Europeans and European mythology and, frankly, I prefer it.

Boy, this is some tangent.

Tolkien was a chauvinist - no doubt. He had this funky romanticized view of his relationship with Edith that was like courtly love but not like equitable friendship. Edith was Luthien and he was Beren. Did this do anything for Edith? I don't know. He didn't have women in his life who were intelligent and active.

He was also racially chauvinist. He loved England and Germany. (He hated Hitler for spoiling the Germans.) His descriptions of all the other 'swarthy' races aren't enlightened 21st century. But I don't detect real hatred in them - just a preference for what he grew up in. He also has very hard judgments of his own people in many, many places, especially those who cut down trees to make room for machines.

Tolkien's poetry doesn't bother me at all. The dude was a scholar of Olde English. I think his poems carry that aesthetic beautifully. No, they're not William Carlos Williams.

Yes, the lack of religion is curious. However, it was a wonderful choice. Tolkien (a little arrogantly, I think) despised allegory. He didn't desire to treat it therefore. To me, this comes off as a breath of fresh air. This last couple years has brought home to me some of the really beautiful and subtle treatments in Tolkien of hope and providence. They're proving inspirational to me when more heavy-handed treatments (like the new book 'Tolkien's Ordinary Virtues') leaves me totally cold.

His history is in keeping with the mythologies he loved so well: deep time with immortals who do amazing and great things with no progress in material culture or technology. As I have already noted, Tolkien was deeply skeptical about the value of technological advances.

Ok, there's one thing about Tolkien that bothers me a little. [pause for collective, unbelieving gasp.] His historical framework, in my view, is basically doubled. He started with Morgoth and the Silmarillion and Beleriand and basically doubles a lot of it in the Third Age down to things like a great N-S flowing river with big, impassable falls. This is just the framework, though, for the staggering beauty of The Lord of the Rings.

I cannot be objective here and I will not try to be. I will defend Professor Tolkien on his own ground to the last. I read 'The Hobbit' in second grade because I couldn't help myself. Tracy Colony told me about it on the bus and it set my imagination on fire. My love for Tolkien kindled a love for reading that was all-consuming for many years and has produced whatever aesthetic and intellectual foundation I might stand on today. 'The Lord of the Rings' is my favorite book in the world including the Bible. I'm the guy who said Christopher Tolkien reading from the Tale of Beren of Luthien is without exception the most beautiful spoken piece I have ever heard, and I don't expect to hear anything more beautiful (this does allow some music to eclipse it aurally).
Matt was on The Screensavers on TechTV.

Friday, November 15

From the amazing irony corner we have John 13 resulting as Karl Barth in the Christian Theologian quiz. I'm sure this is how John intended it. I took the quiz, too, and I'm John Wesley

"What a mystery is this, that Christianity should have done so little good in the world!
Can any account of this be given? Can any reasons be assigned for it?"
You are John Wesley!

When things don't sit well with you, you make a big production and argue your way through everything.
You complain a lot, but, at least you are a thinker and not afraid to show it. You are also pretty
liked by people, and pretty methodological about your life and goals. You know where you're going.
Some people find you irritating, so watch out for people leaving you out of things they do.

What theologian are you?

A creation of Henderson
As you might can [appropriate Oklahoman expression] see on the Meme Tracker, someone came over here from the search 'Inhofe sucks'. I wouldn't go that far...

Wednesday, November 13

Here's something interesting that I came across today: Was the Revolutionary War justified [from a Christian viewpoint]? An excerpt:

An evil precedent was also established in America for later times of national crisis by employing the Bible eccentrically (instead of theologically)... The lesson here is...that using the Scriptures for public disputes requires a full measure of reasoned calm as well as passionate engagement.
All right, we watched most of 'The Fellowship of the Ring' extended edition last night, but the kids were in and out a lot and it was hard to get a read on it. I had purposed not to review it on the first viewing, anyway, as I did not in the theater.

Tomorrow's my day off and the twins have Mother's Day Out, so I plan on Christine and I watching it again tomorrow.

My plan is also to skip the parts I don't want to watch, for the first time. You know many of these categories: everything with Liv Tyler (except the new scene 'Parting of the Fellowship' in which she doesn't say a word), every apocryphal Uruk-Hai scene, [and the kind of stuff listed in this post from january].

I will try to keep track of how much time it takes with this skipping ahead. Then we can dream about what could have filled that space to get back to two hours. Preliminary thought: a longer sense of time. In the book it's 14 days from Weathertop to Rivendell. In the movie it's 6 days, and it plays a lot faster than that.
The private-company thread

KOTV reports that QuikTrip is listed as the 47th biggest private company in the US.

QuikTrip is a great company. I've thought this for years. Nowadays, after moving to Tulsa, I'm friends with some very highly-placed people there.

I went to the grand opening of their new headquarters a few weeks ago. They handed out a document about the 40 best things they've done in the past 40 years and it was very impressive.

And it really struck me that going is the best way for companies to go. Then they don't have to make bad, long-term (or short-term) business decisions based on how the Street will value their stock (re:P/E ratio or otherwise).

(That implies that publically offered stock and public companies and the stock market and retirement funds in the stock market are all screwed up. Hmm...)

For example, just read Eisner's statements about ABC not doing well enough for their stock price. To have stock price drive your business would be a nightmare, in my book.

Here's an article from an old issue of Forbes on QT.

And while I was look over that list, I came across another favorite company: Hy-Vee - grocery stores based in Iowa. Hy-Vee is ranked 28th on the Forbes list. Terrible name. Terrible logo. Great quality products and service.

Many of these companies are grocery stores (QT is a convenience store). Cargill is Ag. Mars is a food concern.

Others are financial-type services - knowledge-based where you'd expect a lot of profit margin - Pricewaterhouse Coopers and Ernst and Young.

Any trends here?
Kathryn Lively noted me on blogs4god.

Tuesday, November 12

Remember how I've been asking for My Google? Looks like I've got it: My Way. Their whole platform is no ads. It's customizable. It's powered by Google.

I've also said I'd be willing to pay for ad-free Yahoo! Apparently they're starting something new called Yahoo! Plus, but it's in development right now and the only participants are those who have been invited.

Monday, November 11

OU lost because their defense was too fast. They over-pursued.

I think that's right. It's probably worked for them. In the NFL you can't do that. You have to stay home and be ready for the fakes and the mobile quarterbacks, but there usually isn't that much talent in the college game.

We'll see what happens as the season winds down. It's still been a great season for the Sooners. If only Iowa had beaten ISU. But that's why they play the games.
John's got a nice piece on electronic audio dog tags (at the end of his friday post). What message would you record for your favorite dog?
Let the Tolkien-alia begin again.

The 4 DVD Fellowship of the Ring comes out tomorrow. Our neighborhood Blockbuster has 4 and I will be there when it opens at 10 am to buy one for me and one for Bryan T. Then we're going to Bryan's and Karen's house to watch it tomorrow night on their home theater. We'll set up the kids in a different room with some other movies and see if we can get that to work.

In case you don't know, the really exciting thing about this edition is that 30 minutes that didn't make the theater cut have been restored. I'm really looking forward to it.

The collector's edition 5 DVD also comes out tomorrow, but I'm not getting it.

Friday, November 8

Steven also had a funny post about penguins and icebergs. I counted three or four funny parts, according to my humor.
Have you noticed how much force we've built up in the Middle East?

I was reading Steven who said there's a new Task Force Horn of Africa in Djibouti. That got me thinking: how much?

I was posting all of the quotes, but you should just go read yesterday's article if you're interested. But let me try to give you the math:

-about 57,000 U.S. soldiers, sailors, air force personnel and Marines are now in the greater Gulf area, including about 9,000 in Afghanistan and thousands afloat

-2 carrier groups there with a third enroute.

-B-2 bombers, B-52 bombers, B-1B bombers, and short-range bombers

-hundreds of tanks, Bradleys, and armored personnel carriers

-34 supply ships

The article doesn't mentioned that Central Command has moved from Tampa to Qatar (I missed that one, too) (this is huge, I assure you).

That's a lot of people and stuff. Based on those numbers, can anyone think this might not happen?
Not surprisingly, the James ossuary has been determined to be a forgery. I never really got fired up about it: Wait and see. Well, now we see, apparently. (As reported on Laputan Logic, 11.7)
I agree with John 13 (11.6 longer post since permalinks aren't working): in the absence of a better system (which we would largely disagree on) gridlock is the best option. So I'm wary of an all-Republican government. Still, the frequency of elections keeps them a little honest. Everyone has to pay some attention to their constituents.

Jaq had a similar sentiment. Elections aren't like the Super Bowl because there are checks and balances.

Or, if I can hijack the metaphor, they are like the Super Bowl because the title has to be redefended every year. Not too many teams repeat inside of a decade, and just a few form a dynasty.

Now if only we had 32 parties.
Can I be an honorary Minnesotan?

Eric writes that the essence of it to him is being honest and trustworthy and telling people what you think.

(This post has been up for a long time. Still, I'll use it to say something I've been thinking about.)

It's not because I follow the Vikings ('like' isn't the right word these days). In fact, asking for such an honor is a little heretical when you come from Iowa - that whole across-the-border rivalry thing.

However, I like, in general, the decisions Minnesotans have been making.

Let's start with Jesse Ventura. He's a doof. But he's fairly straight-forward. And they said to the Two Parties 'If this is all you've got, we'll take c: none of the above.'. Good show.

I like how they've wrestled with the Twins and the Vikes over stadium issues. These millionaire owners don't deserve public money. But keeping the teams would be good for Minnesota. So they've been working on it. And nobody's walked away from the table yet. And it might be good for everyone in the end.

I don't know about the character issues Eric espouses. I hope they're true.

I do know they're getting the right results in ways different from the other states, where it's mostly politics as usual as far as I can tell.

Godspeed, Minnesota.

Sorry, this result is kind of...embarrassing. I don't see myself as a noble type. I tried to answer honestly... Sheesh.

I got it from Scott, who is the misanthropic Hamilton. That description sounds more like me in practice, though not in ideals. Do you think Washington was Chaotic Good?
Of movies that have been out 5 weeks or less (not counting the re-release of 'Attack of the Clones', only 7 rank ahead of Jonah in cumulative gross. I'm really glad for Big Idea, and I wish them well

Wednesday, November 6

John 13 has some really nice pieces, writing about riding his bike in the winter and the Democrats who want to steal it.
I started posting to a thread on SpoFi and went crazy, so I thought I'd post it here as well.

how does Kobe at 24 compare to Michael at 24? this is the main question.

answer: Jordan had his highest scoring year (1987) the season he turned 24 with 37.1 pts/game. i'm guessing this is when he became dominant.

Kobe hasn't scored anywhere near this mark, and probably won't. however, we can attribute a lot of that to having to share with Shaq. MJ didn't have to share with anyone in '87.

it would still be three more seasons before Michael began the first three-peat.

after '87 Michael's scoring went down. did he learn to pace himself? did he learn to spread the ball around? did he learn to do the other things that win championships.

that's Michael's genius: he won. not only was he the most physically talented player, he was also very disciplined, worked hard in the offseason, stayed healthy, knew how to hold a team together. he knew how to win.

final answer: time will tell. does Kobe have Michael's physical gifts? similar package, if you ask me. he has already shown the ability to contribute as the first or second most important guy on championship teams (as Michael did at Carolina).

but is he a winner like Michael? will he be passionate? single-minded? will he work hard and keep getting better?

will he manage his relationship with Shaq better? Shaq is the best center ever and has the ego to go with it. this is something Michael never had to deal with. he was always no. 1, no question.

but Kobe's best chance is with Shaq. Michael didn't have to face this challenge. what will Kobe make of it? that way lies greatness.

(pic via Matt)

I totally miscalled the governor's race here. I assumed Largent would win. I though people would go with his economic plan. But apparently people thought his educational 'plan' was goofy and they wanted a lottery. It wasn't just 'the economy, stupid' in this election, and I'm a little surprised. The independent candidate probably also bled more votes from Largent. Needless to say (?), I'm fine with the results (as I would have been no matter what the outcome).

Monday, November 4

Want to join the Bruderhof?

an international community movement of more than two thousand men, women, and children. The basis of our common life is Jesus' "Sermon on the Mount," in particular his teachings concerning nonviolence, love of neighbors and enemies, and sexual purity. At the same time, we acknowledge God's working in all people, no matter their background or creed, who strive for justice, peace and community.
more great stuff from John lagado:

satellite photo of Mt Etna erupting

I was going to list the separate links, but I accidentally closed the window. So just go over to Laputan Logic and read everything: pre-Inca ruins below Titicaca, if English were written like Chinese (I read this some time ago and like the zompist), an interview with Carver Mead on theoretical physics (that suddenly sounded familiar. Turns out I linked the interview back on 12.17.01), the current state of the art regarding theories of life on Europa.
Woo hoo! Iowa's ranked 6th in the AP poll. (I'm a fair-weather Hawkeye fan, having grown up around Iowa City). If they'd only beaten Iowa State they'd be in the hunt for the national championship. We'll see.

Wednesday, October 30

Christine is kicking some update bottom over at the twinlog. So that's what she does when I'm out of town.
All work and no play makes Jason [Kottke] a dull boy. Love it.
Collaboratory's hits are exceeding interact's. Good. That's the way it should be.
Paul's got a nice piece on the commitment required for successful monogamy. Among other things: yes.
I was in OKC at a pastor's retreat for the last 30 hours or so, so I've been a little out of pocket. It was refreshing. More to come...

Monday, October 28

I posted to SportsFilter for the first time today. To wit:

Can you really teach an old dog new tricks? Now in New Orleans, with enthusiastic fans and the arena deal they wanted, the Hornets 'took the uncharacteristic step of locking up the franchise's most valuable commodity for the next six years.'

Interesting article putting an objectively positive spin on a lot of Hornets' personnel decisions that looked really bad at the time.

I lived in Charlotte for six years during Shinn's residency, and we thought he was cheap (financially and personally). He destroyed a wealth of good will in the center of basketball heaven. What do you think, is this a new leaf?
Everything I need to know, I learned from D&D (not really, but it is evocative, no?)

Actually D&D alignment really has helped me to understand my own ethics better.

(Take the D and D Online Alignment Test.)

The scales are: Lawful-Neutral-Chaotic and Good-Neutral-Evil. The first scale is alignment relative to law, order, etc. The second scale is relative to individuals and their well being.

I come out between Neutral Good and Chaotic Good. I flex on the law, mostly because I think the law, lots of times, is not good for people. It is a subjective judgment, again. And, obviously, with me, it's a lot more in concept than it is in actuality. Any true nonconformist should not complain too much when the law comes down on her. She has to be willing to take the consequences, though she can argue the justice of it.

But I'm very concerned about individual good. Spiritual life is the highest priority (for me, and it probably includes liberty/freedom), followed closely by physical human life (which includes subsistence living, and, last of all, the right to property and wealth.)

How about you? What's your D&D alignment? And what are your reflections on these issues?

(This post started as a comment on Collaboratory, which I'm going to move to the front page and double-post here (because I'm looking for the responses of both audiences.)

Friday, October 25

I'm not a hawk on this whole 'war on Iraq' thing, right?

Still, when Steven talks about repudiating Iraqi debts to France and Russia in case of a takeover, I think 'What else would possibly make sense?' In Russia's case they've got this big new treaty with Iraq (payment from the latter to the former to nix Security Council stuff). I view it as a bet: you throw yourself in with Iraq or the US, regardless of whether or not either one is right, and I'm confident Russia and France aren't playing it that way. I don't feel much sympathy for someone who bets and loses.
Now you can watch recent refers in Meme Tracker to the right. Lagado himself built it. He's so clever!

One that's not showing up there is 'lord's prayer leet speak'.

I don't have it. If someone does, I'd like to see it (I couldn't find it on the Google search).

Tuesday, October 22

You noticed that John 13 has some nice new updates, right?

Monday, October 21

As you know, I log all things Morrissey. Well, the famous and fabulous Miguel Cardoso of mucho MetaFilter fame posted Moz to the front page. The ensuing conversation is very interesting.

Friday, October 18

Check out The PowerPoint Anthology of Literature
I think the table of what European tribes think of each other is pretty funny. It's at least extensive. Be sure to scroll down all the way to Albania. Sad, but true.

Wednesday, October 16

From the pages of twinlog:

We've been watching a lot of Rolie Polie Olie. Elizabeth came in and asked, "What shape am I?" Olie is round and Billy is square. I told her she was potato-shaped. She didn't think so. So I suggested curved and she agreed. But Wil and Daddy are round according to her. In actuality Wil is shaped more like a stick.

What about Daddy?! Is Daddy round?!

Boo hoo hoo.
Many people don't know that water is an important issue in all of the tension in the Middle East between Israel and the surrounding Arab nations. Lebanon has begun pumping water out of a river.

WAZZANI, Lebanon, Oct 16 (Reuters) - Lebanon began pumping water on Wednesday from a southern river that also supplies Israel -- a project that has drawn Israeli ire and U.S. mediation to avoid a regional flare-up.

Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres told parliament in Jerusalem that Lebanon's new project to pipe water from the Wazzani river to parched villages could lead to an escalation of hostilities between the countries, which have no relations.

Lebanon's guerrilla group Hizbollah, which helped end Israel's 22 year occupation of south Lebanon in May 2000, has warned it would retaliate "within seconds" for any Israeli attack on the water station.

But Israeli officials have toned down recent references to the water dispute, apparently giving way to international mediation efforts to limit the amount of water that would be channelled to Lebanese villages.

Amid tight security, Lebanese President Emile Lahoud officially opened the project on the Wazzani, a tributary of the Hasbani river that feeds the Jordan river and the Sea of Galilee -- Israel's biggest freshwater reservoir.
Bali death toll rises to 188, mostly Australian young people.

My condolences. This is a terrible tragedy.
Eric has a touching thread about being a 30something gay man and straight friends having kids and dialing into them and him feeling out of the loop.
We've got a good discussion going on at Collaboratory about Ayn Rand, Objectivism, and L/libertarianism. John 13 is there, too. A few excerpts from my comment:

...I think you've rightly identified the excesses of Obj. and Rand. Her 'phil.' is facile/utopian/simplistic. Maybe that's why her followers elicit some disdain. They've thought about it less than her (and you) and their conclusion is 'I get to do what I want and it's good. Sweet!'.

3. We can agree that responsibility is really, really important. I think where we separate is the next step: what do you do when responsibility doesn't cut it or in the case of irresponsibility? My answer is, literally, pity. We pity people. We should try to help them. This comes directly out of my theology, concluding that God has had and has pity on us...

How do we find a way to live together? Indeed, that's a really important question. Since rational (good looking, well-married, artistice, etc.) friends like you and I cannot agree, I imagine we'll just keep limping along. It's brought us to 5 billion with no sign of slowing.

Tuesday, October 15

John (lagado) Hardy has a really cool post about a really old human-made bridge between India and Sri Lanka. I think it links some natural formations to cover the 20ish miles. Really.

Monday, October 14

Whoa. Got a special thanks in John's right sidebar. Well, you're welcome. I simply have always enjoyed your links and kept after you. So thank you.

(Wow, he lists Collaboratory, in which he participates, as essential. We're beginning to suspect this guy's credibility :-)
Also from referrers: there's a certain satisfaction in knowing people who came to my site for 'dancing francis' or 'paul granlund sculptures' found at least a good place to start, if not what they were looking for.
Whew! If it hadn't been for the search in my referrers, I might have forgotten that the government is controlling our minds with football.

Friday, October 11

This has been on everyone's weblog, but the guy who's done Escher in Legos is amazing. I like the pics that show how he achieved the perspectives. If you haven't checked it out yet and it sounds interesting to you, take the time. (I didn't look at it until I saw it on Scott's site.)
Eldred v. Ashcroft (the copyright case) went to court wednesday. Matt's got an essay on it. Then, he's got a first day update, with other links.

Tuesday, October 8

Kottke's got two interesting posts consisting of Google I'm Feeling Lucky results for months and days.

Monday, October 7

I can't believe people:

- give any creedence to Richard Dawkins, as he now maligns all Catholic doctrine and, by extension, all religion.

- think of evolution as a closed-case fact:

What happens if superior schools insist that previously accepted facts have become mere theory?

Don't miss my vibe here. I'm not saying I can't believe people believe in evolution. I can't believe people believe it's a closed case. I can't believe people take it as established fact, divergence from which is madness.
We had a nice time at Jonah. The kids did great. They really enjoyed it. I enjoyed it too. It was well-done and focused on compassion and showing mercy. In this way it was less moralistic than many of the VeggieTales videos. The handled the story nicely, too. They just left Jonah crying in the dust. The kids listening in the other plot-line said 'Didn't he learn anything?' to which the storyteller replied 'The important thing is: What did you learn?'. That's right.

(Incidentally, Jonah finished 6th at the box office this weekend, according to estimates, despite showing at fewer than half the theaters of any other movie in the top 8. Good show. They have certainly garnered a loyal fan base.)

Wil started chair-dancing pretty early in. That's when we realized we didn't take him to the bathroom before we went in. I kept asking him if he needed to go to the potty. Of course he said no. I thought there was a pretty good chance he was going to have an accident. But he didn't and we made it to the potty afterwards without event. That's where I realized he was quoting from the movie on one hearing 'Something touched me!' (lampooning 'Jaws').

Wil's amazing in attention and recall, when he's interested. We're similar that way. It's not intentional. I can't turn it on and off, and neither can he. It didn't work for me in Hebrew and Greek, but I can quote you all of 'Raising Arizona'. It can be maddening when he has such perfect recall of things he likes but can't and won't listen to Christine and me and often will reply, when questioned, that he doesn't know what we just said.

Elizabeth went to the potty during the movie. She liked the movie, though she was afraid of the whale (she said). Come to think of it, she was pretty scared going into the movie, too - it was pretty dark. I pointed out all of the kids and I think that calmed her down a little bit. Afterwards she was horrible and really misbehaved. Oh well.
Best play yesterday:

I listened to the end of the Cleveland-Baltimore game. Cleveland staged an exciting comeback under Kelly Holcomb and Dennis Northcutt. They needed an onside kick, lined up on one side, and Phil Dawson, the kicker, kicked it to the other side and recovered. How stud is that!?

(I started him yesterday. Wish I got bonus points for cool plays.)

Friday, October 4

Paul tells some stupid stories on other people that will make you laugh out loud.
We're going to the VeggieTales movie Jonah tomorrow. We were going to go today, opening day, but Christine has something else she had to do. This will be the twins' first movie in a theater. I expect them to do really well. I'm looking forward to it.
Sheesh, it's been a while. Sorry.

Today I've been working on Old Testament timelines: 1 2 3 4.

I found a lot of helpful stuff at Bryce Embry's personal site. He has a number of OT things up. I edited and reformatted his OT Book Summary, How the OT Books Fit Together, and his Bible Events Timeline

Tuesday, October 1

Does anyone have street encounters like John13? Guess not enough of us spend time on the streets in cool towns like Chicago.

Monday, September 30

Just one of the reasons I read Paul: a really nice piece on getting his heart back from the East River.
You won't believe the two squares are the same color (optical illusion via kottke).
The new Two Towers trailer is out. Commentary:

Miranda Otto beats Liv Tyler with a wooden bat.

I'll say it again: Elrond did not lose hope. He did not try to dissuade Aragorn or Arwen. He set the price high. He said he would not give her to anyone less than the king of men.

The final shot of Aragorn in response to Arwen's claim that there is hope is cool (even though that's not how it went).
There's no doubt his hatred is mainly directed at us. There's no doubt he can't stand us. After all, this is a guy that tried to kill my dad at one time. George W Bush on Saddam Hussein

I don't know that this necessarily makes it personal (that's Matt's conclusion, and I respect it), but this is, at least, a dumb thing to say.
Greg is funny, and he's posted something to EOD. If you ever loved him, go check it out (and look at that red hair!) (via Matt).
Wow, did we have an amazing wine tasting dinner Friday night.

We opened up with Sangria and tapas - fried calamari (squid), manchego cheese, banana and cheese empanadas, olives, and almonds.

Dinner was green salad and paella with Marques de Caceres White Rioja, Montecillo Red Rioja, and Pesquero Ribera del Duero.

Dessert was flan and sherry.

It was amazing. Every course was great. Every wine was great for what it was - some 11.50$ and one 40$.

Wednesday, September 25

Jared Diamond wrote the Pulitzer Prize winning 'Germs, Guns, and Steel'. He gave a talk encapsulating that book's thesis entitled Why Did Human History Unfold Differently On Different Continents For The Last 13,000 Years? The thesis of the talk:

The broadest pattern of history — namely, the differences between human societies on different continents — seems to me to be attributable to differences among continental environments, and not to biological differences among peoples themselves.

This was fascinating to me and very readable.

More summary work: Eurasia produced the toughest germs and the most persistent technological cultures because it's the largest land mass and it has a massive east-west axis that is most germane to the spread of domesticated plants and animals.

Then, if you like that talk, and have time, read his How to Get Rich, which develops the same themes with more specific examples and with the (somewhat misleading) intent of educating people on what history teaches us should produce the best financial ventures.
Shot by shot account of the coming Two Towers trailer.

Too much Aragorn-Arwen-Elrond made-up stuff. They're making Elrond too much the disapproving father. Though he was deeply greived at his loss of Arwen, he also loved Aragorn like a son and raised him.

Shot of Sean yelling 'No!' at brief shot of Arwen in Helm's Deep.
Of course I didn't believe it when a friend told me that Mister Rogers was a Marine sniper. Google to the rescue. There was an urban myth that Mister Rogers was an Army sniper. This post (in Google cache) gives the lie to it.

Tuesday, September 24

Steven's got an interesting entry on the longbow in military history.

Makes me think about a Robin Hood/Green Arrow-type who continues to use a longbow to incredible effect long after most people use guns.

Then it makes me think about Legolas.

Remember when I wrote about the question of Tulsa spending 100k$ on a study for building a soccer stadium to bring pro soccer to town. Some anonymous donor gave the money. Interesting.
Yahoo's putting ads on the Companion now. I'll be keeping the Companion, b/c the bookmarks are such a killer app (unless someone knows a better one...), but I've about had it with Yahoo.
Eric keeps pointing people to my site. That's nice. We have a mutual admiration society of two.
John has an unbelievable post on ancient Greek technology. It got me started on my own little journey. The link I read of the many he posted was The Antikythera Mechanism: Physical and Intellectual Salvage from the 1st Century B.C.. It had some really cool assessments of Rhodian technology. Rhodes is part of the Dodecanese Archipelago ('Dodeka' is Greek for twenty, thus 'The Archipelago of Twenty Islands'). You know Rhodes had the Colossus ((+1 with misleading picture at top.).

It makes me think of Archimedes in Syracuse on the SE corner of Sicily. There's pretty good evidence that, among many other amazing things, he used mirrors to light the sails of attacking ships on fire.

That makes me think of the Lighthouse of Alexandria.
The Vikings totally suck. They are 0-3 despite having talent on offense and the defense doing a passable job. It's mental and leadership at this point. They could easily be 0-3 going into Seattle, who really sucks, too. Rats.
The University of Tulsa Golden Hurricane football team has the longest losing streak in the nation, at 14. To show you how bad they are, they just lost to Baylor (via Scott).
Paul has a poignant vignette about city life and its griefs.

Monday, September 23

Don't even try to resist going and getting your pirate name. Mine is Captain Sam Cash:

Even though there's no legal rank on a pirate ship, everyone recognizes you're the one in charge. You're musical, and you've got a certain style if not flair. You'll do just fine. Arr!

(via Scott)

Speaking of pirates, what's the 18th letter of the alphabet? R! What's the 9th letter of the alphabet? I!
Google has advanced their news page, and it's looking really nice. I hope to leave My Yahoo for My Google soon.

I was fumbling around at RandomWalks and found their Knight Rider Wiki. I defy you to find something cooler today than this.

Wednesday, September 18

Eric has a good post about the coming war in Iraq and the rhetoric.

I agree with Eric in the main, though I have a small, parenthetical quibble: Yes, all action in this case is fraught with violence. However, it need not be the case that we make this decision solely on a utilitarian basis - Which course is less violent? It's possible that one course might be more right. (This will of course depend on your view of what constitutes right, but it's possible that an objective standard of right exists. We will certainly struggle with agreeing on what that standard is, but it's possible, and I would even say actual.).
My Lawrence Lessig number is 1 (thinking of the Oracle of Bacon).

Matt works with Lessig on Creative Commons and Eldred vs. Ashcroft, and I once had dinner with Matt.

I was reading about Lessig last night in the latest Wired. I'm not totally alarmed yet that the day is over for our digital freedom unless we win Eldred vs. Ashcroft, but Lessig makes a compelling case.

I'm going to contribute a little by placing a button here on my website.

Interestingly, Matt had a post about a month back about Lessig's big speech at the O'Reilly Open Source Conference. He linked another guy who rewrote the speech (critique first, scroll down for rewrite in italics) in what everyone agrees is far more compelling form. You might want to read it to get a good, quick sense of what's going on.

Tuesday, September 17

Steven mentions follow-on wars to the war in Iraq and then writes (e.g. Saudi Arabia).

Emotional response: holey cow. Is anyone really thinking about such a thing? Are we going to take out every fundamentalist country? I certainly hope not.
Many of us have noted 9-11 anniversary feelings. I don't plan on keeping this up, but Paul had an interesting one, and he lives in NYC.
Scott commented on Chris's post to Collaboratory, and it got me going. Issue: do we all need to generalize a little bit more. Scott's answer was 'That's the way I like it.'. Here's mine:

aren't we all generalists? isn't that why we do this - log? some people like my teaching and say 'don't you want to teach at a seminary/university?'. answer: yes, but i'd have to get a PhD, which is all about specificity. i don't want any more esoteric knowledge. i want application. i want understanding. i want life lived.

Monday, September 16

Jaq has a nice post about how we should remember (prompted, he writes, by my post below). He makes a good point. I love many things about our culture, art this country has produced.
Scott also has a really good post about the Tulsa race riot, on of the largest and worst in our country's history, and one that hardly anyone knows anything about.
We should remember the terrible things that happened on September 11th. We should remember those who died with honor.

However, we also have to look at the causes. I have said all along, though discreetly, that US foreign policy is to blame for much hate toward us. It is not that people hate our freedom. They hate how our freedom takes advantage of them.

Scott has a good post on some of these issues. One things he brings up is our dependence on oil. Just this morning on the way to work I saw a GMC Tahoe with a bumper sticker that read 'America Needs America's Oil'. We do because we drive inefficient boats like a Tahoe. That kind of stuff makes me furious. Many people here in Tulsa, connected to the oil industry, have a very vested interest in serving up as much gasoline as possible.

I also saw a bumper sticker that said 'God Bless America, To Hell With Our Enemies'. To quote JB Philips: Their God is too small.

Wednesday, September 11

How should we remember?

I've been looking around a little bit this morning, and nothing really appeals to me to link.

This is going to seem so self-serving, but at least the most personal stuff for me is the stuff Jason's doing over on Collaboratory.

I will say I like Yahoo's color change, though not the rest of their stuff. I like their color change better than Google's small ribbon. Google should have done the color change.

Tuesday, September 10

Did you see Glenn's assessment of Sweden relative to liberal economics and government? It was interesting. Everyone points to Sweden as the hallmark of liberalism. He takes that notion on and has lots of stats and links. Conclusion: Swedish liberalism is not a slam-dunk for those of us who lean left. It's at least debatable.
I don't feel like I'm hitting the ball very well in most areas of my life right now, but...

I crushed in the first weekend of fantasy football in my league. Not only did I beat my opponent, but I scored the most points of anyone in our league. Priest Holmes was my big guy.

Monday, September 9

Eric has a nice post about listening to St Olaf chapel on the radio. One of the main points was that 'liturgy' comes from Greek words meaning 'work of the people'. Ask yourself 'How is worship the work of faith?'.
Strategy Page's brief on plans for attacking Iraq (I forget where I got this. Robot Wisdom? Clueless? Instapundit?)
Matt's trying to lose some weight. I've been thinking about this a lot. I'd like to lose about 30 pounds, too. But I think I need to get some other things in order first before I prioritize that. But I'm not sure I can wait.

Friday, September 6

A further post in my fascination with all things Google:

Kottke mentioned Googlecooking: you Google the ingredients you want to use, then pick a recipe that looks good. (Judy logged it first, and Meg passed it on.)
I got on a Civilization kick today. It started at Instapundit, who linked to Brad DeLong. Brad had three articles referrencing his children's play of Civ: Democracy is way too hard (which included Sid Meier on Defeating the Taliban (in the comments, at the bottom) , Never build the Manhattan Project unless you have to, and Fundamentalism is perfect for the 20th Century .

A search turned up freeciv, a GNU deal I may just have to check out.
There's actually a lot of additional local news today:

Great Plains (local subsidized airline) needs more aircraft, but has no money.

Someone is poisoning trees in Tulsa that block billboards.

Should Tulsa spend 100,000$ on a study of building a soccer stadium to bring pro soccer to town?

Gaylord donates $12 million to complete OU stadium project.
Here's something crazy: I sat next to Senator Jim Inhofe on the plane last night. I didn't know it was him until we landed and I struck up a conversation with him. He knows my boss really well, so that was easy to talk about. He seemed like a decent, sincere guy. We basically agree on some issues.

I disagree with him on some issues, though. I'm against the Farm Bill because wealthy farmers get too much. I think we need to move toward other sources of energy, and shouldn't explore ANWR for that reason (though a local desire to develop it for financial well-being is probably legitimate).
Add the T-Mobile Pocket PC Phone Edition to my PDA/phone wishlist.
By the way, we're back. We had a pretty good vacation. It was good to be away from work for a week, and, this time, Christine was with me to ride herd on the kids. Consequently, we all had a pretty good time (I think).
Weblog Wishlist - owing to Blogger ads:

1. Blog*Spot Plus - 50$/year
2. Blogger Pro - 50$/year
3. while I'm at it, I might as well wish for my own server and T1
4. none of this stuff is going to happen. there ain't no way i can justify it (except maybe Blog*Spot Plus, when interact comes due to revew ad-free hosting at 15$/year. we could move it and twinlog and collaboratory there for about the same money. maybe i should just look into other hosting. but how can you beat 5$/month?)

Wednesday, August 28

No time for chat or comment, but I'd hate for you to miss this (course, if you're reading Jaq, you wouldn't): top 10 pop songs played at funerals. Here's a hint: the number 1 most egregious is number 1.
Jaq had a nice post about writing. Here's my comment:

for me, reading is a lot easier b/c it's passive. i'm lazy. it allows me to feel smart and authoritative and sit in judgment over someone else. how's the style? the ideas? i decide.

writing's hard. it so often feels nonproductive. you might not use anything from that hour or two hour or three hour session. the only thing that's less productive than writing is not writing.

writing is active. and it puts my ideas out there for someone else to judge. it will make me subject to all of the same kinds of criticisms i level at other authors, and worse.

a really good book in this writing vein is 'The Artist's Way' by Julia Cameron. it's a twelve week program of 'recovery of creativity'. one of the weeks she prescribes a 'reading fast'. that's when you realize pretty quick how often you read for psychological comfort (which is the same reason i eat, which is one of the things i found out in conventional fasting).
OK, while I'm thinking about it and before I forget, I'm going to be on vacation for the next week. There may be no posting, or a very little. See ya' on friday the 13th.
We're having a discussion on Collaboratory about special emphasis on curbing violence against women. Here's my take:

i want to add on to what John said. it takes nothing away from anti-violence in general to focus on women in specific. there are so many things contributing to violence specifically against women. they are generally physically less strong. they are generally psychologically willing to put up with more (that might keep them in an abusive relationship). there are so many social and cultural factors, some old leftovers - submission type dynamics. these things make it really tough. they make it much more likely that a woman will be abused by a man, especially in an ongoing relationship. what are the stats on rape being by someone you know? how many rapes are male on male? how many are female to male? the preponderance of this horrible kind of violence in male toward female. it deserves our special attention.

Monday, August 26

Have you taken the Google Quiz? I, of course, got all of the answers right and had my name entered to win the Goggle messenger bag. I think I deserve one, don't you?
I got pretty fired up commenting on John's post from the Economist on Collaboratory. Here's a taste:

The USA would become the biggest market, bigger than the EU. American business practices would likely become even more dominant than they already are.

most of us here [on Collaboratory], slanting liberal, probably believe immigration is a good thing. that dynamic is a big part of the growth - especially immigrant children that come and then the 1st generation born here. is that a bad thing? without getting all jingoistic, there are good opportunities in the US for immigrants (though they are often take advantage of, and that's a problem. can it be win-win?)

“in the struggle to find workers to support growing economies, nations that are hospitable to immigrants will have an advantage.”

part of the Economist's concern is that America will pay more attention to areas refugees come from - South America and SE Asia - and less attention to Europe. oh no!

here's the end of the article:

The contrast between youthful, exuberant, multi-coloured America and ageing, decrepit, inward-looking Europe goes back almost to the foundation of the United States. But demography is making this picture even more true, with long-term consequences for America's economic and military might and quite possibly for the focus of its foreign policy.

an additional factor is the juggernaut American economy. yes, we've spent a ton on defense, but we have 10 tons more to spend. we haven't spent as much on social programs. most of that money has gone to personal wealth and business reinvestment. more population+more money+more military=the US will call the shots. might makes right. it's a bad deal. i don't agree with it. but there it is.