Tuesday, January 28

What does Treebeard look like?

First in a series (maybe).

(Warning: some of these will be pretty slow on dialup.)

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

As much as the last three, which are from the Bakshi film, might grate for some people, they are what I thought of, conceptually, when I reread that part in TTT recently.
Well, it's official. I got laid off today. I had a pretty good idea that this was coming.

In many ways it's ok. I was thinking about taking a break from ministry, anyway.

Our top plan is to move back to the Iowa City area. So, if you have any contacts there you want to send my way, bring it.

Monday, January 27

What to say about the Super Bowl?

I loved the MJ ad and Terry Tate, Office Linebacker (if you register you can watch the whole 3.5 minute commercial).

Hats off to Jon Gruden. The Bucs just kept getting better throughout the season. The offense got progressively better. The team was emotionally ready and intense for each game. They made the Eagles and the Raiders look pathetic. I'm glad for Brad Johnson, Derrick Brooks, John Lynch. I know it's got to be bitter-sweet for Tony Dungy, but I hope at least some of it is sweet.

Warren Sapp and Keyshawn Johnson are mouthy punks, though.
Heresy! Blasphemy! Dave Barry Dissed The Two Towers (but it was funny).

Sunday, January 26

Scott got a form letter from Tom Daschle and posted a good response. Here's my response to Scott's response:

i think that standing up against antiterrorism in the early days would have been political suicide. anybody who believed in it should have still done it.

the Iraq thing is different. there's room for a political stand there. it's still risky. Bush holds almost all of the intelligence (spy-type) cards. all he has to do is say 'our spies say they have WMD'. public opinion supports the ouster of Hussein. as long as the war is short, this is political gangbusters.

then you've gone a little too far, Scott. we have failed, too. the great thing about being a republic/democracy is that you almost always get the government you deserve.

there's no doubt in my mind that the masses in this country Repub in ethos: God and Country, fewer taxes for me, let the littler guy fend for himself (though union membership skews this a little).

i've said it before, i'll say it again: an out and out liberal is not electable. barring Repub political suicide, it would take a Bill Clinton-type moderate with personality and a marginally different economic plan - like pro health care (but not socialism) to get elected.

what happened: the Dems, too, are beholden to special interest money and they can't take down the greedy insiders because they have profitted from it. we saw that clearly in the Enron hearings. Enron bought a little stock in everyone.

Daschle's South Dakota First program, detailed on his website, as i've mentioned before, supports a lot of pork for SD farmers. as i've said before, some programs to support modest family farms would be great, but payments to people clearing 100k a year is bad policy.

great letter, Scott!

[check the comments]

Friday, January 24

Question: Do I really agree with Eric and Maureen Dowd: [the Repub.s] 'see the world through the prism of class, while denying that class matters.'?

I don't know. I'm more pro-equality and they're more pro-responsibility. I don't think they take enough account of the real barriers to opportunity and the massive, somewhat intangible benefits that many of us (especially those of us who are white and Protestant and male) have benefitted from. Like Eric's poem says, there's a difference if you don't have to think of your whiteness or your maleness, whereas some are always aware of their blackness or femaleness.

Maybe it's just a guilty conscience. What do you think? Where do I stand? Where do you?
You might be interested in bloginality, grouping webloggers by MBTI. I'm an ENFJ. The most interesting thing about my MBT is that I have never, ever scored an S (Sensing) in all the times I've taken the test. I'm a pure iNtuitive. This gets me into trouble with things like facts and the real world (via Rudy).

(The visual design over there is pretty annoying, and they're pushing their Amazon Associates links pretty hard, but, like I said, you might find it interesting.)

Thursday, January 23

(via Jaq) Steven had a big post about the USNavy, if you're into that sort of thing.

Wednesday, January 22

If you were me, and you were going to do a PhD in Ancient Near Eastern studies, where would you do it? Toronto? Harvard? Washington?.
Iowa City is the third most educated metro area in the nation (Boulder is number one).
Kottke pointed me to the Creative Commons interview with Cory Doctorow who has just published a sci-fi novel: Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom. Interestingly, he's releasing it into the public domain. I downloaded it and plan to start reading. Tor is publishing it. Though Cory admits we don't know what the business model for this kind of publishing will be yet, it seems like the right thing to me, intuitively.

The opening:

I lived long enough to see the cure for death; to see the rise of the Bitchun Society, to learn ten languages; to compose three symphonies; to realize my boyhood dream of taking up residence in Disney World; to see the death of the workplace and of work.

I never thought I’d live to see the day when Keep A-Movin’ Dan would decide to deadhead until the heat death of the Universe.

Tuesday, January 21

a poem from one of Kurt's comments:

This line is metaphysical
And on the one side the bad half live in wickedness
And on the other side the good half live in arrogance
And there’s a steep slope
With a short rope
This line is metaphysical
And there’s a steady flow moving to and fro
Oh look you earned your wings
Are you angel now or are you a vulture?
Constantly hovering over
Waiting for a big mistake
Oh my God what have I done?
Wouldn’t you love to be on the cover of a magazine?
Healthy skin perfect teeth designed to hide what lies beneath
I feel the darkness growing stronger as you cram light down my throat
How does that work for you in your holy quest to be above reproach?

- David Bazan

Virtue can be oppressive: Pharisaism, moralism, legalism, formalism. Our goal is virtue, but not as an end in itself and not without a reconstituted heart.
Eric writes that Wal-Mart has 480 billion $ in sales compared to 3Ms 17 billion.

See, the great thing for Wal-Mart is they don't have to mess with R&D.
I have no idea what in the heck Paul's talking about, but if you're interested in PostModernism at US universities, you should give it a spin. Then please leave me a stream-of-consciousness negative discourse.

Oh yeah, and on the off chance that you know what he's talking about, and there's actually some real-world referrent (please excuse the reference to the real world), you can leave that, too.

*end sarcasm*

I'm not dogging Paul. I really like his writing. But I sure don't get this.
Defective Yeti has two hilarious posts:

one about handy/unhandy people. my comment:

very funny. i'm like you in that i'm not very ept (ie, not inept), when it comes to this stuff. i'm not totally clueless, like some guys. when you tell me what to do, i can do it. but i can't figure it out for myself, and it doesn't stick when i do. my dad and brother have this intuition for what needs to be done and they never forget what they've learned. i still can't remember if i'm supposed to check the oil hot or cold.


Tonight for dinner I ate both pasta and antipasta. When they collided in my stomach it set off a chain reaction that annihilated the universe.

So if you were wondering who had done that .. yeah, it was me. Sorry everyone. I'll make sure it doesn't happen again.

I am so glad I read Defective Yeti today.
Jaq had an incredulous comment to my post from yesterday:

Whoa. You don't believe that intelligent life exists elsewhere?

My response:

nope. i find Hugh Ross' arguments absolutely convincing:

he has 200 factors necessary for life support (and that's not even intelligent life!). thus:

Probability for occurrence of all 200 parameters: approx. 10^-237
Maximum possible number of planets in universe: approx. 10^22

Thus, less than 1 chance in 10215 (one hundred billion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion) exists that even one such planet would occur anywhere in the universe without invoking divine miracles.

It fits with my worldview that we might just be so important to God that we are the only beings like us in all of his creation.

I don't hold this view dogmatically, though. I don't find it in the Scripture. It wouldn't destroy my faith if there were other lifeforms or other intelligent life.

Monday, January 20

Back to prehistory:

a good, long page on Kurgan culture (maybe the original ProtoIndoEuropeans, N of the Black Sea, southern Ukraine and Russia, 5000 BC and after.

Another early IndoEuropean settlement (before 6000 BC) was Catal Huyuk in central Turkey.

The Neolithic Landscape of Çatalhöyük. If you have any interest in this at all, you should keep touring through the subsequent 5 pages (follow the next button in the upper left corner). Fascinating stuff (at least to me).

I stumbled across Eric S Raymond's Glossary of SF Jargon on friday and it's a pretty fun read. [index] And he's got a long essay on the whole subject. The most interesting part to me was the Federation model towards the end.

So what will I pick for my SF world?
- ansible and NAFAL (pretty much exactly like LeGuin and Card)
- biogenetic alteration
- no AI (I don't believe in it)
- probably pretty far in the future to give some time for interesting development
- no aliens (don't believe in that, either. like Herbert.)
- near term rise of corporations (esp. health care, which is already rising, like in Sterling's Holy Fire) and distributed nations and bioegineering and cybernetics and growing gap between rich and poor and angels (rich people who flee to zero-g) and development of the Internet (like Gibson and Stephenson). not sure about nanotech, but i like it's role in those guys' books.
I'm the 19th result in Google for 'Kurgan culture map'. Pretty impressive, aye?

Friday, January 17

Jim Rome had a funny lampoon of a motorized wheelbarrow that he saw on an ad.

(Incidentally, he kept calling it a wheelbarrel. I wrote him to correct his usage. I wonder if that will be appreciated...)

(Also incidentally, the word barrow is OE for 'to bear'. 'Bier' is a related word. I think this is different from the kind of 'barrow' you might find a barrow-wight in, which appears to come from OE 'beorg/beorh' for 'hill or burial site'.)

('barrow' is also a pig that has been castrated before reaching maturity, from OE 'barow'. So is it somehow related to the word farrow? Nope. That's from OE 'fearh' for pig/little pig [fearh fearh fearh, fearh fearh fearh, let me in...). And there's an agricultural homonym that's unrelated etymologically: 'If a cow has had a calf, but fails in a subsequent year, she is said to be farrow, or to go farrow.' Not to be confused with a heifer.)

Do me a favor: don't tell Jim Rome this is where this thread led me. Don't you think he'd conclude I'm a loser with too much time on my hands? I just got interested...
Guilty pleasure: your basic smiley :-). I'm pretty tempted to switch to comments that plug in the picture, like some of the big kids have. But not yet...
John 13 and Scott love Chipotle. Hmm. We have no such thing here in Tulsa, of course. Looks like Atomic Burrito to me (which we do have, and I love. Can I get a witness, Scott?). Also looks like they have them in KC and Chicago. Maybe I'll have to try it next time I'm going through one of those towns.
Jason left a nice comment on my column post below. Here's my reply:

thanks, J.

the conundrum for me is that when i try to manage these things without 'knowing Christ' in a pretty fundamental way i inevitably get off into the wrong thing - pride over better economic values while not-so-secretly wanting more money and more stuff - the virtuous anger of the 'deprived', judgmentalism about parenting, harsh questions about 'well, why do they have to be so thin? they must have issues, too!' or it's just natural for them. slim chance there's any actual God-inspired self control there.

i think you're right, that the people whose opinions we care about often can respond to this stuff pretty well.

but, again, i don't tend to approach growing that relationship lovingly unless i'm connected to Jesus. Paul said 'speak the truth in love'. i'm tempted to speak the truth in judgment or to hold back the truth in accepting/tolerant permissiveness (which isn't really love). it's not truth without love, and it's not love without truth. but, dang, that's hard, and i don't get to it without the Spirit working in my life.

(note: i'm using 'knowing Jesus', being connected to Jesus (like the branches to the Vine in John 15), and the indwelling Spirit cf Galatians 5.13ff) as different terms for a basically equivalent state. i obviously think this is what's happening in the Scriptures)

Thursday, January 16

Steven Johnson writes about the planetary chalkboard - leave commentary at a specific GPS for others to pick up.
Some military tech:

I saw a picture of George the Second today that had SSN 776 on it. Google. The USS Hawaii, a Virginia class submarine, and, boy, are these things incredible.

The Pelican, a Boeing Phantom Works Project

Dwarfing all previous flying giants, the Pelican, a high-capacity cargo plane concept currently being studied by Boeing Phantom Works, would stretch more than the length of a U.S. football field and have a wingspan of 500 feet and a wing area of more than an acre. It would have almost twice the external dimensions of the world's current largest aircraft, the Russian An225, and could transport five times its payload, up to 1,400 tons of cargo.

Designed primarily for long-range, transoceanic transport, the Pelican would fly as low as 20 feet above the sea, taking advantage of an aerodynamic phenomenon that reduces drag and fuel burn. Over land, it would fly at altitudes of 20,000 feet or higher. Operating only from ordinary paved runways, the Pelican would use 38 fuselage-mounted landing gears with a total of 76 tires to distribute its weight.

"The Pelican currently stands as the only identified means by which the U.S. Army can achieve its deployment transformation goals of deploying one division in five days, or five divisions in 30 days, anywhere in the world." If necessary, he said, the Pelican could carry 17 M-1 main battle tanks on a single sortie. Commercially, the aircraft's size and efficiency would allow it to carry types of cargo equivalent to those carried by container ships, at more than 10 times the speed.

"Why would such a huge airplane be flown at such a low altitude?

By flying low, the Pelican, like its name-sake, exploits the aerodynamic benefits of a well-known phenomenon called ground effect. Flying close to water, the wing downwash angle and tip vortices are suppressed, resulting in a major drag reduction and outstanding cruise efficiency.

"It's an effect that provides extraordinary range and efficiency," Skorupa said. "With a payload of 1.5 million pounds, the Pelican could fly 10,000 nautical miles over water and 6,500 nautical miles over land.

"Flying in ground effect demands the latest flight control technology, conceded Skorupa. Reliable systems will provide precise, automatic altitude control and collision avoidance. Cruise altitude will be adjusted according to sea state, and if the seas get too rough, the Pelican can easily climb to high altitude to continue the flight.
Arioch (Dark Tower) also had a Mighty Orbots page. That brings back fun memories of 7th grade, when I was still watching a few cartoons that were maybe cool enough (GIJoe, etc.). If you ever enjoyed this cartoon, you owe it to yourself to at least listen to the theme once
My lastest column for our church newsletter:

Redeemer meets in a part of town where there are a lot of well-to-do, well-off people. There’s nothing wrong with being well-off or meeting in such a part of town. But those of us who are well-off, middle to upper class, tend to have a high value on looking like we have everything together – like we’re gainfully employed in rewarding and challenging work, like we have a nice home and cars, like we have smart, talented, well-behaved children, like we have a loving marriage, like we have self-control in eating and exercise regularly so we can be glowingly healthy.

That’s the problem.

Obviously there’s nothing wrong with any of those things. They’re highly desirable. But if we make the acquisition of any of those things our number one priority in life, that’s idolatry. And if we don’t have them and we start faking it, that’s a bad thing. And if we feel like we can never be happy without some or all of these things, that’s a lie.

A woman at Redeemer who was struggling with weight loss asked me one time, ‘How can all of the women at Redeemer stay so thin?’ It’s certain that some people at Redeemer, especially in these tumultuous times, have financial problems. It’s certain that some of us worry that our marriage might not hold up, or that our kids might not turn out right. And how will that reflect on us? Then people will know that we don’t have it all together. Having it all together can be a form of idolatry.

Redeemer does not exist to chaplain people who ‘have it all together’. We’re not trying to give folks like that just a little God and a few more life skills and a place to fellowship and find a little meaning. Again, these things are desirable (removing the ‘little’s and ‘few’s). But they have to come after we come to terms with where all of these things fit in our lives.

Paul said he considered things like these (Philippians 3.2-6) crap (and that’s still the polite translation – 3.7) in comparison with knowing Christ and becoming one with Him (3.8-21). [Philippians 3]

A good place to start is by devaluing these things in our lives. The most important thing is knowing Christ, not just meeting him, but getting to know him better day by day. We need to stop our striving for these lesser things. We need to stop our worrying. We need to stop our faking.

One good, proactive strategy is to be honest about our condition, to admit the areas where things aren’t going as we would wish. That doesn’t mean we go around and ‘throw up’ our tough situations on people. But there are times and places (especially with friends and in small groups) where we can be honest about these things. And we can stop acting like we have everything together. If we can get away from it, it’ll help our brothers and sisters who are also tempted to live up to our act of having everything together.

So, if you’re one of those people who seems to have it all together – it’s no big deal. The stuff the world cares about are peripheral in God’s eyes. And you’ve been afraid that you don’t fit in at Redeemer because you don’t have it all together, don’t be. Don’t worry and don’t pretend. None of us really do.

Tuesday, January 14

My latest review: Master of the Rings - The Unauthorized Story Behind J.R.R. Tolkien's "Lord of the Rings"

Stay away from this DVD
...or you'll regret you spent the money. Instead, buy Carpenter's excellent biography. Or buy Artist and Illustrator. I'm a huge Tolkien fan and this movie was embarassing to watch. I agree with the recent review that the interview with Carpenter was the best (so read his book). It was also a nice to see some of the Oxford environs (especially for those of us who aren't English), but the tour guides were total hacks.

I also got J.R.R. Tolkien - Master of the Rings - The Definitive Guide to the World of the Rings. It was better, but still just OK.
An essential palindrome that will help you with life:


That is all.
I came across a reference to Dark Tower yesterday.

We had this game when I was a kid and loved it. Come to find out the entry price nowadays is at least 150$ on eBay. Nope.

I Googled it and came across a great site.

So, there's got to be a computer version, right?

Right, and it kicks butt two times if you ever played and loved Dark Tower. Just hearing the sound effects and seeing the graphics brings back great memories of playing it on the floor in our room.

Simply click on the following links:


(And how’s about that nice Raiders of the Lost Ark address, also from our childhood?!?)

Then you’ll need the Java Runtime Environment:

http://java.sun.com/j2se/1.4/download.html (the first download link on this page, about midway down)

No need to thank me for all of these exquisite time-wasters.

Oh, yeah, this page also list Dragonmaster, which we also had and played as kids. Same illustrator. They've even got an interview with the guy.

Am I getting old and lame, is that why this nostalgia is hitting me so hard, longing for a better day? I hope not.

Monday, January 13

More defective yeti:

And The Award For Best Performance In A Dramatic Role Goes To ...

Story told to me by a friend:

On the evening of New Year's Day my two girls were jumping around on the big bed. Eve accidentally whacked Cynthia in the mouth, loosening a very loose tooth. Blood was shed; Cynthia panicked. She ran to the bathroom, saw blood, and started howling. She put a cold cloth on it but wouldn't allow us to touch or even look at it.

So from 8:00 to 9:00 she sat with the washcloth pressed to her mouth as the flow of blood abated. We told her to try to move it with her tongue, but she said that it hurt too much. She finally agreed to rinse out her mouth -- carefully. We told her that we'd have to do something that night, because we were concerned that, if the tooth fell out during her sleep, she could choke and die.

Well, she was a bit worried about that prospect, so she finally allowed us to take a look. But then she got more and more scared of our pulling it out. I was trying to hold her arms and face while my husband looked in her mouth. Meanwhile she was screaming! We were afraid the neighbors would call the police on us.

So finally we said, "Okay, Cynthia, look: you either have to let Daddy pull out your tooth or you'll risk choking in your sleep."

To which Cynthia replied "I CHOOSE DEATH!"


This will happen in my house.

By the way, that dude's got a lot of funny stuff. Jorn was right. Go read everything (especially the favorite posts)!

Jorn calls defective yeti the funniest weblog ever. To wit:

It would be cool if, at the end of Return of the King when Sauron finally gets the ring, they played I Got The Power by Snap, and Sauron could dance around and do the rap part ("it's gettin' kinda hectic!") and then be all like, "BOOYAH! It your face, hobbits!!" I think that would really drive home how evil he is.

Very Deep Thoughts.

The response
Cringely on Apple v. Microsoft (via Robot Wisdom)
Hadn't thought of that, either. That's why I read Steven. He suggests the inspectors might not want to find evidence, in this case. To run with that, maybe they wouldn't turn the evidence over to the US. Not trying to be hawkish here. Just playing it out.

(That's not to imply universal endorsement, of course. You get silly things like comparing America to a Tigger you can't take the bounce out of.)
Hadn't thought of that, either. That's why I read Steven. He suggests the inspectors might not want to find evidence, in this case. To run with that, maybe they wouldn't turn the evidence over to the US. Not trying to be hawkish here. Just playing it out.
Kottke had a critique of Safari and Sherlock that Dennis Mahoney parodied pretty brutally. Is this a friendly thing or a mean old jab?
In my travels on friday I came across a site I hadn't visited before, PalmTolkien. There are a bunch of downloads (including a BBC interview with the professor from 1971), including a hidden path to something not wholly legal alluded to in the title of the site.

(I saw it first on Desultory.)
Need a good laugh? Then check out Andrew's Ultimate Representation of Beauty (via Matt)
Wholey Mackerel! Scott got linked by Matt, as well he should have. Then Anil linked Matt's post from his sidebar. This is the best-case-scenario for ticketstubs. Congratulations, Scott. I wonder if I've gotten any referers from your referers.

(and if you want to see the effects in graphic detail...)

(also, I thought Scott might have cracked Blogdex. But I looked through 301 and didn't see him...)
Friday was a frustrating computer day. We wrestled with my Outlook all day and finally got it back online around 4:30. So I didn't get everything logged that I wanted to.

Jaq pointed me to the new Return of the King pix on AICN. Everyone's headlining with the Gandalf in battle pic (extraneous detail: with Glamdring, the Foe-Hammer) and it is boss.

But that's not enough for you, dear reader, and not enough for me, either. I found all 12 pictures on friday for you...

Then I couldn't find them again. Argh!

I finally found them after some amount of looking. All 12 high resolution pictures from The Return of the King promotional calendar (completely written out to help Googlers).

You're welcome :-)
Eeek. On pins and needles. Ferentz is one of the leading candidates for the Jacksonville job. This could affect Oklahoma, too. If Ferentz goes you'd think Mike Stoops or Chuck Long would be leading candidates for the Iowa job.

Sunday, January 12

I like Brad Johnson. I like Jon Gruden ok. But I don't like, really don't like Keyshawn Johnson and Warren Sapp - always running their mouths. So I have mixed feelings about the Bucs winning today. Yes, their defense was really good. But their offense isn't that good. The 49ers secondary has been plagued by injuries.

We'll see how TB does against the Eagles. I rate the defenses about even and the Eagles offense better. Advantage: Eagles.

I was sorry to see Pittsburgh lose, but they just couldn't get it done yesterday. I'll tell you this much, a lot like the Giants game last week, you can't put this on the officials. The Giants let the 49ers come back and the Steelers couldn't get it done when they had the chances.

As for the Falcons-Eagles, I'm glad the cult of Vick is over for this year. He's amazingly talented, but, as someone said earlier this season (I forget who), let's not put him in the Hall yet. He's one injury away from being Bo Jackson. The Eagles defense handled him and the offense was strong enough with just-healed McNabb to get it done. The offense will have to be better next week against TB to win.

Rudy Carrasco is smart and funny. He's a Latino doing urban ministry in Pasadena. He's tech savvy. If any of those vibes interest you, you might want to check him out (via joshsargent).

Rudy had two posts I want to steal:

1. a quote from James Q Wilson is the WSJ:

William Galston, once an assistant to President Clinton, put the matter simply. To avoid poverty, do three things: finish high school, marry before having a child, and produce the child after you are 20 years old. Only 8% of people who do all three will be poor; of those who fail to do them, 79% will be poor.

Obviously this is mostly correlation and not cause and effect. Doing these 3 things doesn't make you middle class, per se. But the correlation is powerful.

2. Mike Yaconelli's Getting Fired for the Glory of God. I read this in print and hadn't looked for it online. It's especially from the viewpoint of a youth minister.

Wednesday, January 8

Steven's prologue to the war in Iraq. Salient points:

In the case of Iraq, the disinformation for most of the last year was valuable because it covered a period in which we had (I now think) decided to attack Iraq but did not yet have sufficient force in the region to defend against an Iraqi spoiling attack. There were also diplomatic reasons why it was important to not paint the writing on the wall

I hadn't even considered the possibility of a 'spoiling attack'. And there was diplomacy. But I've been convinced since november 8th that we're committed, barring something really extraordinary, almost miraculous. You don't spend the money to move all that stuff if you don't plan on using it, bottom line.

Interesting speculations about new technology, including ElectroMagnetic Pulse.
Mists of Avalon review

I sure am hating Mists of Avalon. I don't know if I'll keep reading it or not. The caricature of the church is infuriating. Criticize the church. Bring it on. But don't create a parody where there is absolutely no good in the church at all, where every Christian is a stupid hypocrite. It's like me writing about pagans as all having pointy caps and wearing black and think they can fly on broomsticks and they're always stupid and maladjusted and fat and Goth wannabees who read too much Anne Rice. Why do I keep reading? I'm interested in the plot, a little. And Zimmer is a good writer.

Listen, I'm a feminist in the sense of wanting equal rights and opportunities for men and women. I have a daughter and I want her to be able to read stories of heroines who are strong and useful, and I want her brother to read them, too. This, though, is beyond the pale.

I did a little research on Marion Zimmer Bradley. I was surprised to find out she was not a professed pagan, and that she even took the name 'Christian' (at the end of the FAQ). (I'll mostly be responding to Thoughts on Avalon.) However, the flavor was Catholic Gnostic of a stripe that allowed veneration of the Goddess silently reappearing in Saints and the veneration of Mary...the worship of the female aspect of the deity.

God is not male. God is not female. But we are not allowed the latitude within orthodoxy to talk about God as Goddess. We need to use the forms God revealed Godself in, and Goddess is not remotely one of them (though there are plenty of feminine images).

Bradley's intelligent characters advocate a universal Spirit that can be venerated in most any form - including The Horned Stag, Mother Earth, the Virgin Mary, or whatever. This is way out of bounds.

I think the neo-pagan movement offers a very viable alternative for people, especially for women, who have been turned off by the abuses of Judeo-Christian organized religions.

Wrong. I am sorry. The abuses of Christianity have been many and egregious, but we don't have this kind of flexibility available to us.

A new amazing application (and why Amazon doesn't integrate it, I don't know).

Amazon Wish List ranking (via kottke).

If only I'd had this before Christmas and my birthday... (reason #xyz not to have your birthday so close to Christmas - it's all over for another year.)
More from Byzantium:

I hadn't seen, until Jaq pointed it out, that Liv Tyler has recorded a song for Return of the King (last news item on the page). He said I wouldn't like it. My comment:

yikes! you're right, i don't like it! is this really the place to let little Steven Jr try out her pipes?
A comment by me from Byzantium:

i actually prefer Rob Roy to Braveheart. it's a great movie! the scale is so much more manageable and believeable. the sword-fight climax is absolutely wonderful. Tim Roth is amazing. and i wish Liam Neeson, as seen in this role, would have been Aragorn instead of Viggo (and I wish Neeson hadn't been Qui-Gon).

Tuesday, January 7

Just ordered an armband for my rio nike psa mp3 player from etronics. The shipping is a little bit of a gouge, but I couldn't find it here in Tulsa.

(warning: if you take it, it's tripod, and there's a pop up on both pages.)

via Steve
John had a great post on Collaboratory, and I had a long answer, so I'm just going to re-post here.

ultimately, even this better model is too simplistic. it would be better to break it into, say, 20 values and see where people chart.

eg, i value faith and resultant morality (not morality for it's own sake) highly, but i don't place a big value on country. i'm against 'abortion, euthanasia, divorce and suicide'.

on the other hand, i'm not going to push these on anyone. i propose them, but i will not impose them. so, ultimately, i value freedom more highly than legislated morality.

i value survival more than self-expression, but once basic survival and a modicum of life-quality is reached, i want to promote freedom, again. i don't dislike foreigners, homosexuals, or people with AIDS. but i'm pessimistic about what politics can pull off.

so, i have some major breaks from these categories. but if you were to chart me anyway, i guess i'd be about in the neighborhood of Poland, India, and Bosnia (left of center and just below the midpoint. notice, left here is actually more conservative).

i had two posts 1 2 about a year ago that address my beliefs in detail.

more -


- that the countries hang together by continent enough to color them together.
- Europeans are pro-EU and anti-Russia and Israel.
- Americans are ok with Russia and Israel and less sanguine about the EU.
- more French think the spread of American ideas is a bad thing than Lebanese.

The “quality of life” axis is the one most closely associated with political and economic freedoms. So Mr Bush is right when he claims that Americans and European share common values of democracy and freedom and that these have broad implications because, at root, alliances are built on such common interests.

i don't know, maybe i'm closer to America in aggregate, but answering the questions differently.

America... is strikingly traditional on average. But, to generalise wildly, that average is made up of two Americas: one that is almost as secular as Europe (and tends to vote Democratic), and one that is more traditionalist than the average (and tends to vote Republican).

America['s] domestic political debate revolves around values to a much greater extent than in Europe. Political affiliation there is based less on income than on church-going, attitudes to abortion and attitudes to race. In America, even technical matters become moral questions. It is almost impossible to have a debate about gun registration without it becoming an argument about the right to self-defence. In Europe, even moral questions are sometimes treated as technical ones, as happened with stem-cell research.

all of this points to my dissatisfaction with the two-party system. i'm more 'traditional' than Dems and less 'self-expressive'.

but if i could pick 4 parties i'd go to one of those other grids. i'm a classic liberal on the idealog grid.

liberal | communitarian equality


libertarian | conservative | freedom

freedom order

then you have to add in that i have, personally, more conservative values (this might go on another grid). then you have to add in that i have a lot of problems with the Dems, including their support of programs that don't work (i'm against the part of them that is 'tax and spend').

a similar grid from self-gov.org

Left-Liberals prefer self-government in personal matters and central decision-making on economics. They want government to serve the disadvantaged in the name of fairness. Leftists tolerate social diversity, but work for economic equality.

When you put the two surveys together, I shade Libertarian to some degree, especially in tax policy. I think we should have drastically reduced taxes and have people pay for most of their services on an individual/use basis. Does that alone I don't think we should subsidize business or protect it with tariffs, but i think we need minimum wage laws and some public foreign aid. When you add up the first three in that last sentence, I'm pretty much 'anti-business'. The way I think of it, I always put individuals and their right to earn a living wage over the rights of businesses to grow and earn more money.

Heck, in some ways, I could wear any of these four titles, in different respects. But if I had to pick one, I'm a classic liberal (which doesn't equal a US Democrat. I have massive disconnects there.).

There's a similar, more extensive test over at Political Compass. The grid is similar, too, but flipped and then turned counterclockwise about 45 degrees (if you can visualize that):

To conclude:
- In economics I value basic equality over freedom to create wealth.
(So, I want to leave the minimum wage in place and collect a small amount of tax revenue.)

- In moral issues I value freedom over order.
(Though I choose conservative morality based on my religious beliefs I will not impose those morals on others.)

This puts me somewhere between classic liberal and libertarian.

so there's more than you wanted to know :-)

Monday, January 6

Remember that Tolkien names post below? Kathy deserves a name as a faithful, regular reader (even though she thinks Collaboratory is just a who-can-use-the-biggest-word contest). Therefore,

Lady Kathy of Cincinnati, Mother of Josh, Undisputed Mistress of Star Wars Trivia, Quoter of Wil.
(And I will resist the fact that Linfoot is obviously a hobbit name. I'm guessing you don't really want to be a hobbit.)
We played The Lord of the Rings boardgame with Jim and Luke and Kathy (Josh's mom) last night and had a lot of fun. We actually played twice, and we finally won the second time, so we were happy about that. We didn't play the expansion (Friends and Foes) that Christine got me because we're not ready for more options yet. Thanks, guys.
I watched almost all of the Cleveland-Pittsburgh game yesterday: Maddox, Hines, Burris, Randle-El, and the run defense against Holcomb, Northcutt, Morgan, and Johnson. I like watching those guys. Tommy Maddox continues his cool-headed play. Man, he's great. My fore knowledge that Holcomb should be starting was right. What happened at the end is that Cleveland let up and quit scoring and their defense played stupidly. They got penalty after penalty, they weren't thinking about the clock. Sadly, former Vikings Rudd and Griffith contributed to these penalties. The offense didn't keep firing and the defense wasn't up to the task. Foge Fazio couldn't get the coordinator job done when it counted at Minnesota, and I don't see him doing it in Cleveland either. His guys aren't disciplined.

Anyway, it was a fun game to watch, and I was kind of pulling for the underdog Browns and Holcomb, but I'm happy with Maddox and Reed (the new clutch kicker) and Cowher winning, too.

Friday, January 3

I happened across the Central Opt-Out Database. They're trying to fight spam. Go register.
Bob Cringely's assessment of his predictions last year and his predictions for the coming year. My thoughts:

- too bad we have to have monopolies. With Dell it's ok because computers have basically become a commodity. But with Windows we pay inflated prices for a bad standard. Hopefully Linux will push Windows to higher quality. Too bad we don't have a user-friendly Linux yet (do we? one that has a user-friendly GUI and doesn't require UNIX commands?)

- Death to the RIAA! (but you knew I felt that way.)

- #14 - I doubt it, though I wish it were so.

- It makes sense that Google would be the ones to further penetrate weblogs and help to provide even more helpful content from them.
John Hardy has an interesting post about Modified Newtonian Dynamics.

My wishlist is on I Wish, You Wish and coauthor Shelli stopped by to wish me a happy birthday. Very nice!
Science fiction books I love (from Scott's posted link):

the Foundation trilogy, all of the Frank Herbert Dune stuff, Ursula K Le Guin's space stuff (including The Left Hand of Darkness from this list), The Neuromancer trilogy and All the World's Parties by Gibson, all of the Ender books by Orson Scott Card, Stephenson's Snow Crash and Diamond Age.
Thanks to all who proferred birthday greetings.

My parents were here over the new year and took me to breakfast yesterday morning. The Touchets and the Aldags came over New Year's Eve and a great time was had by all. The yummy fare included Ballatore, Baked Brie with Apricot Jam, and a Homemade Gourmet Cheescake Ball. Also yesterday I played a lot of Civ2, went to Target, CompUSA, and Best Buy looking but didn't buy anything, worked out, took a bath, talked to Kyle and Erin on the phone, and watched the Hawks lose (rats)!

Christine was especially kind to me by taking on more childcare tasks that would normally be shared. She also baked a cake and got me some nice presents, the most notable of which was the Friends and Foes Lord of the Rings Expansion, which promises to be very cool.