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.