Thursday, February 28

Steven's got a cool post on disinformation preceding the Normandy Invasion: Operation Fortitude.
We've got some nice updates.
Ok, I didn't say enough about TCPC's 7th and 8th points. I don't want to be guilty of damning by faint praise.

I really agree with the goals and means of these points: striving for justice and peace among all people; bringing hope to those Jesus called the least of his sisters and brothers; costly discipleship, renunciation of privilege, and conscientious resistance to evil.

The Other Side is another organization with similar aims. They go so far that employees only make around 20k$ - on principle.

I really, really believe in them. As a matter of fact, it generally leaves me without a country. I don't fit in with 'progressives' like these because I'm theologically consevative. But I don't fit in with conservatives because I'm socially 'liberal'.

One group of folks kind of like this is Evangelicals for Social Action. And I haven't met any of them in Tulsa. It can be a little lonely.

Wednesday, February 27

They've actually had some success capturing juvenile giant squids (via piskycritters on MeFi)
Warm up your pretty little hate machine.

I found The Center for Progressive Christianity in MetaFilter's TextAds (I'm somewhat tempted to post this there. Anybody think that's a good idea?)

Here are the 8 points they use to define themselves:

By calling ourselves progressive, we mean that we are Christians who:

1. Proclaim Jesus Christ as our Gate to the realm of God

2. Recognize the faithfulness of other people who have other names for the gateway to God's realm

3. Understand our sharing of bread and wine in Jesus's name to be a representation of God's feast for all peoples

4. Invite all sorts and conditions of people to join in our worship and in our common life as full partners, including (but not limited to):

believers and agnostics,
conventional Christians and questioning skeptics,
homosexuals and heterosexuals,
females and males,
the despairing and the hopeful,
those of all races and cultures, and
those of all classes and abilities,

without imposing on them the necessity of becoming like us;

5. Think that the way we treat one another and other people is more important than the way we express our beliefs;

6. Find more grace in the search for meaning than in absolute certainty, in the questions than in the answers;

7. See ourselves as a spiritual community in which we discover the resources required for our work in the world: striving for justice and peace among all people; bringing hope to those Jesus called the least of his sisters and brothers;

8. Recognize that our faith entails costly discipleship, renunciation of privilege, and conscientious resistance to evil--as has always been the tradition of the church.

This is nice, thoughtful philosophy. If Christianity is to have any historical connection, this philosophy should not be called Christianity. Though I'm no expert, it seems like Unitarianism to me (I'm open to being educated.)

At a minimum, Christians have historically believed that Jesus Christ was God.

Other ways in which this is not Christianity:

(I am presupposing (and it's a big one) that the Bible is at least reasonably accurate in its portrayals and quotations of Jesus.)

Jesus said 'I am the way. No one comes to the Father but by me.' He did not say 'I am a way.' or 'I am your way.'

The Lord's Supper/Communion/Eucharist is a remembrance of Jesus' death and the promise of His return. It is not a nice ceremony to be imbued with meaning as we see fit.

Anyone can come. All are welcome. No one has to 'become like us'. But none of us may stay where we are. There is a minimal (and difficult to live) definition of what a follower of Jesus/mature Christian looks like.

The way we treat others is essential. It is the measure of what we believe. But our core beliefs are important, too. Some beliefs are essential. Jesus said 'Anyone who teaches others to disobey me - it'd be better for them to sleep with the fishes.'

There are areas where Jesus intended for us to have absolute certainty. There are areas which are a journey.

I agree with points 7 and 8.

They have Marcus Borg (Jesus Seminar) and John Spong on their Honorary Advisors. This reinforces my view that this organization has little connection with the doctrines of historical Christianity.

Some people have mislived historical Christianity. But must we really give it up?

What do you think?
The weblog vs journalism match continues

Jason makes some interesting comments: are weblogs and Google combining to give the web a cerebral cortex? I'd like to think so, but Daypop and blogdex don't point that way in my opinion. It's mostly a lot of ephemera. Some of it I like, but it's not journalism, or helpful viewpoints, usually.

Meg says (sung to the tune of 'Jane Says') (my paraphrase) 'Journalists claim to be objective professionals but they're owned by just a few companies, therefore, the output is biased.' I'll buy that.
I have been wondering for a very long time (a year or more - that's long in weblog time) where the concept of 'ansible' came from. I read it first in Orson Scott Card and then in Ursula K LeGuin. I've been meaning to google it. Badda bing. And, wonder of wonders, it's an entry in a recent link, the Wikipedia. Answer: Le Guin made it up, and Card used it. It produces such a cool dynamic when combined with travel limited by light-speed, still allowing contemporaneous communication. That is all.

Tuesday, February 26

Interesting thread on mile-high skyscrapers, urban living, and human realities. Includes link to this cool picture of the coming World Financial Center in Shanghai.
Wow. Eye candy of the day: beautiful paintings, many of Celtic myth, by Jim Fitzpatrick, Irish painter (completely stolen from kev23f on MeFi).

Jim also has a very serviceable overview of Celtic Mythology. Read it!

(By the way, this is how art should be in the network paradigm - you can view it for free, then buy downloads, prints, books, etc. if you like.)
There's a storm a brewin'.

Not really. But there's discussion: weblogs vs journalism.

Short answer: journalism is good for news. And you can get some good views from it as well.

Weblogs are good for semi-community. They're very good for views (when the author has something worth saying). They're good at breaking certain stories (eg, the Seattle earthquake on MeFi) and breaking others open (the what's-her-face (Casey Nicole?) fabrication uncovered on MeFi). They're good at adding relevant data to the system. Steven has discussions with other people that often evolve in terms of data or ideas.

Weblogs will replace traditional journalism for Op/Ed/Views. Michael Moore's website is like that. I want to go and read a specific thinker. I want her to interact with others (georgewill, andrewsullivan, peggynoonan, etc.).

They can have their news. We are the thing that will replace them, and we are now.

Monday, February 25

Ambitious: The CS Lewis Foundation wants to one day have a CS Lewis College in close proximity to a secular university.

I got interested in this site while reading about Brooke (via James).
I sincerely hope you read 13 Labs everyday. On the off chance that you don't, John had another crazy-people encounter well told.
Ryan has given up all hope of continuing with The Goods. He is now a co-writer in Scott's Archipelapogo. Check them out.
How cool! I forget where I found this, but there's a great Intellivision site. I'm really tempted to get these games! I played a lot of them, once upon a time.
Okay, I haven't commented on the Axis of Evil yet (Eric's got some commentary.).

I've got no problem with the comment in itself.

And there are others deserving of the appellation.

Here's the problem: Many people have concluded that we are on the side of good or the side of good. We don't have inviolate moral credibility here. Not that you need to to fight evil. However, we should look to our own policies. Too often we're ruled by 1. our national interest, and 2. our corportations' ability to make money. There has been no admittal that our actions might be suspect.
Matt's got a nice article about the future of music.

Friday, February 22

Steven says (longish) we need government intervention because of the tragedy of the commons, and that's why he's not a libertarian. Right on both counts.
Olympic News

If you watched Sarah skate last night, you know she deserved to win. I'm glad it came out the right way.

What a bunch of crap. They're probably cheaters - fixing skating scores and doping on cross-country. Quit with the threats and go on home.
Alcoholics Anonymous had its beginnings in Akron in 1935 when a New Yorker on business there and successfully sober for the first time in years sought out another alcoholic. During his few months of sobriety, the New Yorker had noticed that his desire to drink lessened when he tried to help other drunks to get sober. In Akron, he was directed to a local doctor with a drinking problem. Working together, the businessman and the doctor found that their ability to stay sober seemed closely related to the amount of help and encouragement they were able to give other alcoholics. (source - scroll down a little)

Step 1: We admitted we were powerless over _________ - that our lives had become unmanageable.

You fill in the blank.

There are a lot of things I'm powerless over in my life. The presenting issue for me right now is overeating. You wouldn't know it to look at me. I'm still in range for my height. But I've never been this heavy before, and I hate it. I often say that my vanity and my gluttony are locked in mortal combat. The answer isn't to 'feed' my vanity. There must be a better way. (cf Overeaters Anonymous. Do you eat compulsively? Ask yourself their 15 Questions.)

This food thing is symptomatic, though. I eat because I feel I need the energy or the comfort to make it through the day. I'm pretty weak, psychologically. Sometimes I eat as a reward for doing the right thing or properly discharging my responsibilities.

Jesus and Paul teach that God can help us with these things. I believe He can. But I don't have it, yet. There's more to be drawn from God - more life, more comfort, more love, more energy, more power, more peace, more joy. I want it. And until I get it, I'm going to struggle in some areas I hate to struggle in.

I'd probably get laughed out of an AA meeting if I went. But I'm out of control, too. I have been for my 20 sentient years. I need help.

I'm like Paul in Romans 7.14-25. I can't do the good things I want to do. And I do the bad things I don't want to do. Not criminal things. Heck, not even immoral things to most people. But they're way below my values. And I don't think I've set my standards too high.

See, Paul wrote Romans 7 to describe life before Christ. Romans 8, and the rest of Paul's writing, is life with Christ. With Christ we can do the right thing. We can do the good things we feel called to. We can abstain from the bad things we know we shouldn't do, that we don't even want to do, on one level.

And I want to get to that place. I'm sick and tired of falling short of what God calls me to. That's the bottom line. I've 'bottomed out', so to speak, on falling short. Willpower is not the answer. God's grace and power are the answer. I need to appropriate them, and I'm really bad at it.

So, for today, this is my attempt to help other people get sane, by sharing my stuff.

If this resonates with you and you want to talk, drop me a line.

Thursday, February 21

Eric says that companies moving to Bermuda to save 20 M$ is bad. I agree. Corporate im-morality, usually, is driven by profit, pure and simple.

I was talking the other day to a guy who used to work for GE. They are the kings of shareholder value, and their market cap shows it. 'Neutron' Jack Welch would buy companies and lay people off, thus increasing the profits. They're 'downsizing' (or, even more ludicruously 'right-sizing') meant doing more work with less people - people working for the same money, but much harder. Do more with less. It's stressful. It's not good for people. It's not good for families. Bad values.

Corporations, to be considered moral, have to value employees and their quality of life more highly than they generally do. Shareholder value needs to be de-prioritized. It's bringing a lot of bad stuff.
I am a: Chaotic Good Elf Ranger Bard

What D&D Character Are You?

Wednesday, February 20

Warning: very addictive game ahead. High score so far: 195. (via Shadowkeeper on MeFi.)
Go read John's most recent two hilarious posts: haranguing his mother about visiting a psychic, and haranguing a voter registration commando. Many of John's funny posts are about haranguing.

Tuesday, February 19

Tomorrow is a big daddy palindrome: 20:02 on 20/02 in 2002.

(sources: I saw an email, then saw it on kottke.)

Monday, February 18

Think the AFI is out of touch? Try Cinemerati's top 100 movies. Their rationales.
Jeff is going to quit reviewing movies. I, for one, will miss his work.
Eric posted an interesting (anti)Valentines Day poem. The language is pretty strong, in a good way (not cursing or anything, just good strong language.).
Sadly necessary preliminary remark: I am not an alcoholic, lest anyone jump to any unwarranted conclusions.

I really respect Alcoholics Anonymous and people who work the program. It's honest. I was looking at the website today, thinking about some of AA's strengths, so I thought I'd share it with you. The page I like the best was the 44 questions.

Wednesday, February 13

Cool artist's rendering of local interstellar cloud - Sun and 4 closest stars, relative motion, etc (via Robot Wisdom).
We're going to Charlotte for a few days. Posting may be spotty. Back in town monday.
Steven writes about the future of music distribution.

Tuesday, February 12

I saw this for awhile on the indices before I got curious enough to click through. It's great! How we could defeat evil by telling telemarketers 'Hold on, please.'
A new reason to like Google:

Not that I have any use for such a thing, or could afford it, but it's cool. (And I've got a crush on Google right now.)
Did you watch the pairs figure skating last night? No doubt, the Canadians got robbed. It was a political thing, and I don't know what the French judge was thinking.
As it should be, interact is the top weblog result on Daypop for a search of Tolkien (probably mostly because I'm the only weblog with Tolkien in the title). You know, faithful reader, that I have been very committed. Not that anyone has come over via such a search, but if they searched, they'd come to the right place.

Monday, February 11

Jeff's top ten movie picks for 2001. I want to see Ghost World, Gosford Park, and The Man Who Wasn't There. I can't be objective about The Fellowship.... I thought Moulin Rouge was great and Memento was ok.
My friend, Jason, is the Googlewhack meister. Two more: hairshirt milquetoast and galangal despotism.
I was interested in the idea of personal taxonomy before Jason talked about it. He points people to the WikiWikiWeb and TheBrain. There's a Wikipedia, too. The Wiki stuff is largely about open source, though it can be personal.

Jason pointed to Arts and Culture where you can search by genre, but also more associatively, like their cloud (eg violent).
The worst films of the 20th century. I agree with most of these, at least as art. Some had a small amount of entertainment value.
I assume this is another hack in the MIT tradition: Britney Spears to Speak at MIT

Saturday, February 9

Fuller visited the Turkish/Russian bathhouse for the first time. He wrote a long, interesting, wacky account centered around a curious nurse named Greg.
Matt bet five bucks that he could eat 10 saltines in a minute. Find out the rest.

Friday, February 8

Ha! I finally have a connection to SXSW. Scott reports that Jeff Porter's band, rewake, was invited to play there.
Matt describes a band that's using the web well to get their music out.

They've got a weblog to talk about the band's latest news, a message board to talk to fans directly, they write reviews of stuff they like, they have full mp3 versions of many of their songs, they run a do-it-yourself record company, pressing and distributing themselves and handling payment via paypal. It's hard to imagine a band using the web in more or better ways, and I bet their dirt cheap $10 CDs make them more money than if they were on a major label selling $15 discs. (see his post for all the links).

Is there a way of selling the mp3s by download, so people can burn their own at their end, if they want? You sell the music even cheaper, you have an even better margin. Everybody wins. Hopefully more music will go this way.

Couldn't someone commoditize this right now? (Maybe someone already has.) Become a new kind of label where you basically just provide the means for bands to do this kind of stuff for a small cut. Then they colonize the web.
Science Friday: Carbon Nanotubes Today. They're not like you've read about in scifi, and won't be for awhile (if ever).

Wednesday, February 6

Reissues, tribute mark Johnny Cash's 70th birthday. Cool.
More Google love: they're having a programming contest to add functionality to the website.

Here's my totally unrelated idea: I'd like to know what new stuff is out on Tolkien. How about a part of Google that you can post any new link to and it will register. It's kind of a 'what's new' section. You can't manage quality, but it's what's new. You could even subscribe to certain key words. Google could add sites it indexes regularly. I'm just thinking outloud here, streamofconsciousness. More ideas?

They're hiring. Too bad none of the jobs could fit me. I'd like to work for Google. Need a chaplain? A pastor? A sensitive guy in HR?
Matt got listed as number 7 on the top 25 web personalities. He certainly deserves a place (I would say even higher). They're (attemptedly) pithy laud:

Because low-key mathowie's low-key community just happens to distill all the stuff that matters. Because whenever he enters a thread, it's like God has deigned to speak. Because we lurked and lurked and never registered -- and now registration is closed and we want in. Please?

I like Matt's personal writing. He's a geek who's in touch with feelings and human dynamics, at least across the web.

And MetaFilter is one of the greatest websites ever.
Norman Mailer is a goof. He's totally over-the-top. But I agree with him on this quote, inveighing on the patriotism following the attacks of september 11th.

America is the real religion in this country.

And I'm in the religion business, so I should know, right?
Remember what I said about modular computing yesterday? More grist:
The domain name 'asynapsefired' is available in all forms. That would be a nice one.

best picture ever

If you've been around the weblogs, you've already seen this picture. But if I'm you're main interface with that subculture, you haven't seen it yet. And, since it makes me laugh everytime I even think about it, not to mention see it, here it is.
I'm not into hip-hop. I don't think it's better than rock. But they've got a cool name for this magazine: Suckarepellent.

Tuesday, February 5

The Sesame Street Makeover: it's becoming more like recent successful shows, especially from commercial channels like Nick Jr.

Random Sesame Street reflection (a synapse fired): People blame MTV for our generational ADD. MTV recaptured the market that Sesame Street prepared. We got used to high-quality, entertaining, educational television. MTV kept the first two.
Steven has a cool post about technology and tactics in the Civil War: railroads, trenches, and the telegraph.

Which John Cusack Are You?

Actually, my buddy Robbi is Rob Gordon.

I try to resist most of these quizzes, but I can't resist John Cusack. And Rob Gordon's a pretty cool result. It could have been a lot worse.

Monday, February 4

US Deputy Defence Secretary Paul Wolfowitz said that since the 11 September suicide attacks on the US, "we have acquired a visceral understanding of what terrorists can do with commercial aircraft".

He added: "We cannot afford to wait until we have acquired a visceral understanding of what terrorists can do with weapons of mass destruction."

Whoa. Them's fighting words.
My friend Jason got interested in Googlewhacks. He missed with 'bumbershoot helipad' but scored with 'prelapsarian dentistry', 'eschatological jumpshot', and 'semiological fisticuffs'. Strong work, Big J.

Further question: what makes someone interested in this stuff? Whatever it is, it's probably the same thing that prompts Jason to memorize the 10 words found in both American and British Scrabble Dictionaries that can be made with a 'q' but without a 'u'.

Jason, want to become an interact correspondent?
I've been thinking about this for a while, especially since the roll-out of the new iMac. What do I want in a computer?

  • a flat monitor (laptop quality sufficient) which is mounted on an arm mounted to the desk for 0 footprint.

  • a CPU and harddrive about the size of a GameCube (or maybe the PlayStation, or maybe both as options. And if the PlayStation, then maybe the monitor could also attach to it for portability, like the PS monitor.). It's portable and has a small footprint.

  • a full keyboard (hopefully easily stowed).

  • another small input device that is more portable (Maybe the Palm is the idea here. The analog is a game controller - something limited, but capable of working in a pinch.)

What do you think? Here's more grist for your mill (via Robot Wisdom).
This is the way the season ends.
This is the way the season ends.
This is the way the season ends,
Not with a bang, but a whimper.

The Patriots played well yesterday, but are they the best team in the NFL? I know that's not what the Super Bowl measures, but are they even in the top 5? Maybe.

The Rams are great. I still love them. Live by the pass, die by the pass. Yesterday they couldn't get it going until the fourth quater. But I'd still rather watch them play any day.

Friday, February 1

For the record: I hate ESPN:The Magazine. The writing totally sucks. The more-hip-than-thou approach is tiresome immediately. They almost always cover the same stories as SI but at a much lower quality. (inspired by SportsFilter)
I'm not good at point spread, but I expect the Rams to handily handle the Pats. We'll see.
Mark my words: SportsFilter will be the next huge thing (as long as it attracts critical mass). It's like smart sports radio. It's a place to talk smack. I won't be in I don't think, but lots of guys (primarily) will.
Christine has been having some great times with the twins. Maybe the terrible twos are over. For my part, they wore me out yesterday and I had no such fun times with them. Much of that was my own fault: not waking up right, not intentionally getting them out of the house earlier. Bleah. I wish I was better cut out for this fathering stuff.
John 13 has a lot of funny stuff over the last couple of days. Go read it if you want to laugh. The new correspondent, lulu eightball/Emily Flake is funny, too, and a welcome addition to the team.

In the spirit of 13 Labs, my Metal Gear Solid name is 'Chainsaw Millipede'. Not bad.
Here's another reason Google's so awesome. Jason suggested a better interface for their news headlines and they implemented his suggestions and credited him (scroll to bottom) (Jason's take).