Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Hooray for Gas Mileage!

After I posted the last gas mileage post, I got ahold of today's New York Times. Front page story says how the car companies are backing down from complaining about gas mileage regulations.

It turns out they don't have as many friends as they used to.

They are now focusing on "volunteering" to raise gas mileage because they've come to realize that it's either offering a reasonable concession, or they may be subject to far stiffer restrictions than they want to comply with.

Finally, something Congress has done right. My personal congressional approval rating has just risen to 11%!!!


Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Collateral Damage

Take a few minutes and read this story.

If you still think that war is a good idea, you need to have your head checked.

This is why war, any war is a bad idea. Have you ever listened to the news or read a news story and were angered to the point of trembling? I have, in fact it happens more than I'd like to admit. But do I jump on the "kill the terrorists" bandwagon?

No, I don't.

Do you know why?

Because I will always stand by the Biblical principle that revenge is never ok. I believe in discipline and punishment, but I will never support revenge.

Do you want some dirt on me? 9/11 happened at the beginning of my senior year in high school. A girl I rode the bus with was in the journalism class that wrote the school newspaper. Naturally, there were more than a few stories related to the then recent happenings. She saw me in the library one day and asked if I'd like to comment on what had happened. I was at the time naturally angry at what had happened and I was quoted as saying that we should get revenge on whoever had committed the atrocity.

I was wrong.

Dead wrong. I realize that now. But now, I don't think that I was a real Christian at that time. Raised Christian yes, but did I know Jesus? Did I know Jesus' will then? No. I think I know better now, and that's what I am standing for now. Jesus said two swords were enough for 12 people. Just enough for defense, not nearly enough for an attack. I think Jesus made a pretty clear point there. He equipped 12 people to spread the gospel, but he only gave two of them swords. Kinda like having two ears but only one mouth, only more so don't you think?

And he gave us hearts to care. So let's feed our enemies if they are hungry, and pray for those who persecute us. Let's do as we would like done to us. It may sound soft, but it taps into the greatest power in the universe.


Divorced from the Wings

I am becoming more and more moderate.

I used to be a bit to the right, conservative and all. Then in my massive intake of data, I found Jim Wallis. I clicked the little link on the Veritas Forum that said "Politics" and found a message by Jim Wallis. Now, coincidently I had listened to this message last year some time, I don't remember, but it didn't really stick then, and I think it was because then I was not as interested in politics as I am now.

So Wallis I guess is more of a left wing Christian guy, though I would probably classify him as left center or center left, maybe even Center Moderate if I wanted to classify him with me. At any rate, conservatives think he is left.

Jim's message is that the real contemporary Christians are no longer accurately represented by the conservative religious right who's flagship issues are abortion and gay marriage. He contends that those issues are not as important as poverty. He says that both sides of the aisle would agree that fewer abortions are better than more, and none would be better still, but the differences lie in the fact that the left wants rare, safe and legal, while the right wants rare and illegal. Jim himself just wants there to be no abortions, preferably because no one wants them. I would agree, now how do we make no one want them. Fixing poverty and education. Fabulous! As far as gay marriage, Jim would say that all agree on what the gay marriage people want, rights to personal property, hospital visitation, and medical care decision making. I am ok with this as well, though I'd take it a step further and say that government should have no interference or control whatsoever in marriage, and I'll post on that later.

So I hear about the bickering the political maneuvering on the news and talk radio all the time. The Democrats will fund the war as long as there is a timetable for withdrawal, then back down on the withdrawal proving again that they have no spine. The Republicans are very unwilling to compromise, and can be very harsh, but I guess both sides are very harsh.

So I am caught in the middle, and at this point am very happy to be there. I am a registered independent. I consider myself a Center Moderate, because in politics, you can ride the fence. But the reason I am in the middle is not because I want to pick and choose which side I'll side with on a particular issue, but because I am absolutely repulsed by both sides. I look at Democrats with the things they have stood for in the last 20 years and say "Not bloody likely," and I look at the Republicans and the things they have stood for and are standing for now and I say "forget it." None of you people represent me. I wash my hands of all party affiliations and all claims to conservatism or liberalism.

But, remember, you can't fly a bald eagle without both wings, and you darn sure can't without the head and the rest of the body. So, you Republicans and Democrats just flap away, and I'll fly this bird, and maybe we'll get somewhere.

Emails to Phil Valentine

I was listening to the Phil Valentine show recently because he had an American car company representative on talking about gas mileage. As you might expect, this guy was giving all the normal nonsense about the car companies not being able to do what the government wants and only selling what the people want.

So I wrote Phil a letter. Here is the whole back and forth in it's entirety:

That guy you had on talking about gas mileage was lying through his
teeth, wow, what a load of crap.

Car makers can make what ever they want, or are told to. They just
don't want to make efficient cars. You think they can't make a pickup
that will get 35 mpg? Daimler Chrysler was advertising that they could
before the sale of the company went through. Why was there such a boom
in light trucks and SUV's? The car companies decided that's what
people SHOULD want, not what they did want. Advertising did that.
Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh both are now advertising Cadillacs while I
now have to listen to whiney commercials about gas mileage that the car
companies have made.

Why did Honda drop the Accord Hybrid? Because the Accord Hybrid SUCKS.
It gets 27 mpg while my non-hybrid Toyota Corolla gets 35. You don't
see Toyota complaining about the Prius, they are making money hand over
fist off that car, and as gas prices rise, they'll be making even more.
Toyota plans to offer the Hybrid Synergy Drive in all it's cars, and
people will buy them, because they work, and they work well. American
hybrids barely get 2-3 mpg better than their non hybrid brothers.

You think car manufacturers can't make a car that gets 52 mpg? The
Prius already does if you take it easy on the gas, and the third
generation Prius, out next year or the year after, is said to be able
to get 30% better than that.

Technology travels faster than B.S.

Bottom line, that guy was so full of crap his eyes were brown. And you
bought every minute of it.

Phil replied:

Bottom line: Auto makers make what they think people want.
If their research showed people wanted cars that get 52
miles to the gallon you don't think they'd make them?
What would be their motivation NOT to make them?


To which I replied:

Thanks for responding,

It's monetary motivation. It costs hefty amounts of money to retool to
make new cars. In fact, it costs more to create a new line of cars
than it does to launch an ad campaign to make people like the cars that
already exist. There was a significant amount of time, money, and
effort that went into making the Prius, as well as the EV1, and will
also into the Chevy Volt.

True, car companies make the cars people want. But if a car company
wants the people to want a car, it's a simple task of telling them what
car to want. Appeal to machismo, add some sex appeal, and slap the
word "new" on it. Not hard. It's been done for millenia, and it costs
less than actually making something new.

American car companies will continue to slide into the back seat in
sales and popularity as long as they continue to push the status quo.
I personally am an American, and proud of it, and I'd absolutely love
to buy and American car. But every American car I've owned has been a
piece of crap, and every Toyota I've owned, I still have. Right now,
there are no American cars beside the Chevy Volt that I would consider
buying, and the Volt is still years off.

American cars will also not win the car wars when they advertise "high"
mileage as 30 mpg while there are a great many Asian cars that get
above 40, and most European cars (not sold in America) get above 40.

If Toyota meets it's goal of producing the third generation Prius drive
train at 50% of current costs, there will be no way American cars will
ever catch up. And when gas gets to $7 a gallon, suddenly that ugly
little aerodynamic pod car starts to look mighty enticing.


Unfortunately with his show hosting duties to fulfill, Phil was not able to reply. I can only expect that he remains unconvinced and continues to tow the party line.

I shall try again another day,

Solar Splash 2007 Fayetteville Arkansas

I was very fortunate to be able to attend a number of heats and events in this year's Solar Splash solar powered boat competition held here in Fayetteville. This year saw teams from Canada, Turkey, and of course USA.

One event I attended was the first heat of the Sprint event which was basically a 300 meter drag race. This event was very interesting, and entertaining when mishaps happened. Probably the most memorable one was when the Naval Academy's boat sank mid-run. It seemed to me that the torque of the propeller on the narrow boat was causing it to veer starboard, while the skipper attempted to steer it port by turning hard and leaning to the left. The boat started taking on water in the rear, and eventually was left floating nose up like a buoy, with the skipper floating also like a buoy. The Canadian team had a fabulous carbon fiber catamaran that broke a hydrofoil and didn't do well in the sprint, but overall, I'd say they were the most technologically advanced team with real time wireless telemetry and the slickest boat.

The other event I was able to attend was the endurance race which lasted four hours. I was able to see most of it, and it was quite interesting because the boats ran on only solar power on a course that was about 1 km in length. The highlights in that race were Cedarville, the overall winner, and the University of Arkansas, with the Turkish, Canadian and University of Northern Iowa teams making a good showing.

I must here make mention of the Turkish boat, and the team from Istanbul Technical University. Theirs has been a long process, finding funding, customs, and other problems. But they made a very good showing, doing well in the Sprint and Endurance races. They also won the presentation category due no doubt to the video they brought with them that showed everything they had done, including 3d cad drawings.

This event didn't garner much fanfare beside a few front page headlines in the local papers. Crowds were very small which is unfortunate considering how important this kind of technological utilization may become in the future. I was extremely fortunate to be able to watch this competition, and I am looking forward to seeing it next year.

Sunny Side Up.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

The Fundamentals of Fundamentalists

Fundamental, noun: A leading or primary principle, rule, law, or article, which serves as the groundwork of a system; essential part, as, the fundamentals of the Christian faith.

Wikipedia says:
Christian fundamentalism: A movement that arose mainly within British and American Protestantism in the late 19th and early 20th centuries by evangelical Christians, who, in a reaction to Modernism, actively affirmed a fundamental set of Christian beliefs: the inerrancy of the Bible, Sola Scriptura, the virgin birth of Christ, the doctrine of substitutionary atonement, the bodily resurrection of Jesus, and the imminent return of Jesus Christ.

So, let's compare the definition with the group, but first, what are the real fundamentals of the Christian Faith? Think for a second. I think we could consider a subject that is mentioned more often than others in the Bible a fundamental don't you? Ok, what is mentioned most in the Bible? Is it the inerrancy of the Bible? No, I don't think that's in there. Is it Sola Scriptura? No, the Bible even quotes other books. Is it the Virgin Birth of Christ? A few times, but still no. Is it the doctrine of Substitutionary Atonement? More times but still no. Is it the bodily resurrection of Christ? Closer, but no. Finally, is it the imminent return of Jesus Christ? No, money is still mentioned more than that.

So what is it?

What is mentioned more than anything in the New Testament, and comes in second in the Old Testament? Simple. Poverty. What? No, surely not, you mean it's not abortion or gay marriage or immigration or even Islam? Number one in the Old Testament is idolatry by the way.

Poverty. Poverty is mentioned over 2000 times in the Bible.

So we have a case here of missing the fundamentals by the Fundamentalists. How ironic, don't you think? A political party that claims a monopoly on Christianity and Faith, yet seems to be pro war, pro rich, and only pro American to quote Jim Wallis.

Other reasons I am not a fundamentalist are the first two on the list under the definition, inerrancy of the Bible, and Sola Scriptura. First I'd like to say that the "Word of God" is inerrant. But the Bible is not so much the Word of God as the Word of God and some history according to a number of authors. This is why we have the "Gospel According to ..." not "God's Inerrant Word About Some Stuff That Happened." Was there one Gerasene Demoniac or two? Don't let me discourage you however. The Bible contains the inerrant Word of God, but the whole thing isn't the whole of the inerrant Word of God. This leads me to the second point. Sola Scriptura was created in response to people trying to add onto the scriptures. However, I believe in Sola Scripture insofar as it does not preclude the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. And of course as the Bible says, spirits must be tested in light of scripture.

So what's the message here? The prime fundamental of the Christian Faith should be Jesus' work on the cross, because without that, there is nothing else, but then care for the poor, you know, widows and orphans, and then we can add all those other things. Because after all, if we are not following God's most mentioned command, what's the point of trying to pretend we are following the rest?


Saturday, June 9, 2007

Standing Ovation for Justice!

Paris Hilton is back in jail thanks finally to a judge with some stones.

I'm with MADD on this one.


Thursday, June 7, 2007

Plastics from Potatoes.

Yes, YEs, YES!!!

This is what we need. Current plastics, made from oil, have limited ability to be recycled. Check that coke bottle you are nursing, it's probably only 10 to 15% recycled material. That's because that's all you can put in a bottle without sacrificing the quality.

So, if we have completely recyclable, and even biodegradable plastics made from crops grown on our soil, I don't see how we can lose. Our current recycling program is not very useful when it comes to things like paper and plastics. Often, more pollution is created in these processes than would be created by making new stuff. That's why I "biorecycle" paper by composting or using it for mulch instead of throwing it away or recycling it.

I just replanted some potatoes yesterday, but I'm sure those are for eating.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Michael Crichton and Others Debate Global Warming

Check out this NPR piece.

Just interesting that at the end of the debate, more people were convinced that Global Warming was not a crisis.

One of the things that turn me off to the global warming debate is how the global warming people consistently argue based on how bad it will be, flooding, weather, disease, and not on whether or not things are true.

Flooding: In the past 40 years of warming, the ocean level has not risen, and ice packs have increased in places where the precipitation lands.

Weather: Warmer means less temperature differential which is what drives weather, therefore, less extreme weather.

Disease: The worst malaria epidemic ever was in Siberia. Check out the mosquito population in Alaska.

Instead of focusing on Global Warming, we need to focus on real issues. Pollution is still a problem, acid rain is still a problem, we need to stop the wholesale dumping of nutrients down the sewers and streams and conserve them to grow food, energy usage is still a problem, herbicide and pesticide use is still a problem, genocide in Darfur is still a problem, dwindling oil supplies are still a problem, cutting down trees is still a problem, paving over farmland with houses is still a problem, and finally, world hunger and disease is still a problem.

Sustainable living entails living sustainably. Sustainability is not having 30,000 people die of starvation a day. It's not disease, hunger, and genocide. It's not having no access to clean water for two billion people.

Even if the worst of the global warming predictions come true, the human race will not die out, we will still be here plugging along, even if there are fewer of you.


Tuesday, June 5, 2007

The "Good Christian" Hypocrite

For some good context on this post, check out this talk by Os Guinness on the Veritas Forum.

I was wandering around the office doing menial chores when I thought of a good subject based purely on my subjective experiences. As such, I need to preface this by saying that the stories I relate here are done so to the best of my knowledge, understanding and recollection, and thus may not necessarily be the truth as is, but are the truth as is known to me. Such is the nature of anecdotal evidence. And that's the truth.

You really need to listen to this talk by Os Guinness as it explores the one critical flaw in all of Christendom: Christians. Christians are human, therefore weak and frail as moral beings. They often make mistakes, have accidents, and generally do things they don't think about beforehand. It is this admission that leads to faith in Christ. So if these things are just the usual, why does it matter, why cannot Christians and indeed anyone, just go on doing whatever they please? Because Christians are supposed to be held to a higher standard. The standard of the perfection of Christ. An unobtainable goal for sure, but a goal nonetheless.

Here's a story with a few inconsistencies. I know a guy. He is married and has an unmarried young adult daughter. He claims to be a strong Christian, and gives talks to his church's youth group from time to time. He abstains from alcohol in order to not be a bad influence on the teens that may visit his home. He pays for his daughter's birth control. He told me once how he loved his church because the pastor never mentioned money or preached about tithe and there was only a small box in the back for offerings. He later was asking around about different churches because his had ran out of money and gone under. A number of times I have heard him on the phone being quite short with his family, and sometimes using swear words.

Did you spot the inconsistencies, the hypocrisies? Is he a good Christian? On the outside, sure, why not. But what is the picture he is painting when he is not paying attention? What is the fruit growing on his "of the spirit" tree? What he is saying to the world is that he claims to not be one of them, but really shows very few distinguishing features. His tree blends into the rest of the forest.

To quote a DC Talk song, "this is what an unbelieving world finds so hard to believe."

Now I have to pause here to say something. I don't consider myself better than anyone. But I do consider Christ better than all, and I take offense when someone sullies his name. And that even includes me. Paul said "This is a faithful word ... that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief." I claim that verse, I know who I am, but Jesus knows me better.

Now for a silly story. I was visiting my father, and at the time, he had a guy from his church staying with him. Now my dad of course had to work every day, and I was there for two weeks and in a rush to do nothing, so I sat down to read for a while. At the time, I was reading the fourth or fifth Harry Potter book. A good read, and it is fiction after all. So this guy walked in, and seeing me reading "the devil's guide to childhood witchcraft," promptly picked up his Bible and unceremoniously started reading it in the most conspicuous way possible, in the couch next to mine. It didn't bother me, I just kept reading. So it happened at that time, that every time he walked in and I was reading a Harry Potter book, he repeated the same ritual, as if the reading of another book had some power to combat the reading of my book. Now certainly, the Bible has power in it's words, but it is not a sin to read anything, though it may be with a certain intent. I have read portions of the NWT, the Quran, The Book of Mormon, the Satanic Bible, the Tao Te Ching, the Hindu Vedas, and all of the Harry Potter books as of the time of this writing. There is no sin in any of this for me. But perhaps I was causing him to sin, I don't know.

So what is a good witness? If you see someone in the park reading Harry Potter, should you whip out your Bible and go sit next to them and read it? If your wife calls you on your cell phone while you are sitting there, do you answer "What the H#@$ do you want now?" What kind of witness is that? What would Jesus do?

So many times, we just think that we are Christians and our lives will show others that fact, but in reality, we really need to make an effort. Nothing comes automatic, when you get saved, everything just doesn't click over, some of it takes time and effort.

So, try not to be a hypocrite. And if you are not yet a believer, remember, Jesus was never a hypocrite.

Friday, June 1, 2007

Most Accurate Bible Translation Question on Jeopardy with Alex Trebek and Jehovah's Witnesses

I was checking my web tracker and noticed that most of the searches that lead to this blog are related to what's in the title of this post.

It seems that if this is what you are searching for, you probably got the same email I did.

In case you can't find what you're looking for immediately, check the archive for previous posts and comments related.

Please leave some comments, ask questions, and be assured, Jeopardy wouldn't touch the most accurate Bible translation argument. That's a purely KJV only and Jehovah's Witness debate.

Seek the Truth, don't just accept what you are told.

P.S. I have written on this since the original post, so if you find this one and would like more info, just click one of the Labels links to the left to find more of what you might be looking for.