Too much social networking

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"My profession is to me a ministry from God"


"My profession is to me a ministry from God" - there is a lot to think about in this statement. Especially since it comes from a doctor famous for implementing new surgical techniques. This was a monument in the basement of the U.S. Capitol building.

Christians have a hard time telling stories of people who are doing things to the glory of God unless it involves giving up a lucrative career to be a missionary in a jungle. Now that the jungles are disappearing and the people that are there are sending missionaries to the U.S., I think it's important that new kinds of stories are told about different ways of serving and honoring God.

But much like the patriarchs in Genesis, people often have significant shortcomings despite wanting to do their best for God. It appears that Crawford not only was the first (perhaps second) person to use ether in surgery, but also discovered it's properties while taking it as a recreational drug at parties.

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Did you know that there is a plaque on the top of the Washington Monument (tallest building in DC) that reads: 'Laus deo'...meaning 'Praise be to God'? That little known fact isn't even written on Wikipedia!

Posted by: Andrea at July 28, 2010 12:06 PM

20th High School Reunion


I feel that I am missing out on a rite of passage that started 24 years ago. Sniff, I wish I could make it back for old times sake.

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you shoudl go

Posted by: Andrea Verwys at May 20, 2010 10:50 AM

California Energy Usage

California energy initiatives

I'm having a fire drill in my building so I dropped by a conference on energy in the building next door in which I was pointed to this fascinating graph showing that California electricity use per person has been flat since the oil embargo in the 70's. Fascinating. The speaker attributed it to aggressive electricity conservation strategies based on "Cost Recovery", "Decoupling Policy", and "Shareholder's Earnings"

Source of the image is here, but the person giving the talk is not associated with that blog

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Ahh... The Good Ole Days in the Navy...

uss curtis wilbur from wikipedia

I served in the Navy for 5 years and on two ships. This story is about the woman who was the final XO I had on my first ship before transferring to my second ship. When I tell people about the Navy they often seem to respond like I was overreacting, or remembering the story wrong. I feel vindicated by this article. Ironically, I didn't even notice the abuse by this woman because of what was going on with all the other people in my chain of command.

I served with Kirk Benson and Nicole Waybright on the USS CURTIS WILBUR

"I'm more upset that the Navy let this go on so long," says Kirk Benson, who retired from the Navy as a commander three years ago after a 20-year career. Many complaints up the chain fell on "deaf ears," he says. "When I think of Holly Graf, even 12 years later, I shake," he says of serving under her when she was second in command on the destroyer U.S.S. Curtis Wilbur in 1997-98. "She was so intimidating even to me, a 6-foot-4 guy."

Holly Graf: Navy Relieves Harsh Commander of USS Cowpens - TIME

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I can certainly understand how some people in this article have felt, watching someone like Ms. Graf get promoted up the chain when she was clearly such a bad influence. I have seen this in my own career, when strong-willed, conniving people who are stunningly effective at achieving short-term goals are promoted time and again. They figure out how they can use each person for their own gain, and as soon as that is not possible, turn on them and try to get them fired. It is truly disheartening when upper management cannot see through this, but things have a way of working themselves out. Unfortunately, a lot of damage was done to morale, and may good people quit over the situation... not something that is typically an option in the Navy.

Posted by: Charles at March 7, 2010 9:09 AM

I suppose if upper management got there the same way they may appreciate those tactics.

Posted by: Don at March 7, 2010 4:58 PM

Colorado Springs is playing hard ball, with no ball

This article about cuts in services in Colorado Springs is scary:

"COLORADO SPRINGS — This tax-averse city is about to learn what it looks and feels like when budget cuts slash services most Americans consider part of the urban fabric.

More than a third of the streetlights in Colorado Springs will go dark Monday. The police helicopters are for sale on the Internet. The city is dumping firefighting jobs, a vice team, burglary investigators, beat cops — dozens of police and fire positions will go unfilled.

The parks department removed trash cans last week, replacing them with signs urging users to pack out their own litter.

Neighbors are encouraged to bring their own lawn mowers to local green spaces, because parks workers will mow them only once every two weeks. If that.

Water cutbacks mean most parks will be dead, brown turf by July; the flower and fertilizer budget is zero.

City recreation centers, indoor and outdoor pools, and a handful of museums will close for good March 31 unless they find private funding to stay open. Buses no longer run on evenings and weekends. The city won't pay for any street paving, relying instead on a regional authority that can meet only about 10 percent of the need.

Full article - The Denver Post

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Obama’s Christian Realism

A nice exposition of Obama's philiosophical position:

"Barack Obama never bought into these shifts. In the past few weeks, he has revived the Christian realism that undergirded cold war liberal thinking and tried to apply it to a different world."

Read the

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All done

Click to enlarge
I found this on a very rainy and windswept beach today.

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Peak Oil and Global Warming

It can't be a coincidence that we, as a society, are talking about Peak Oil at the same that we are talking about Global Warming. Maybe the temperature of the earth has varied over its many years based on whether the carbon was in the atmosphere or buried under the planet. Maybe the drilling for fossil fuels that we are doing is terra-forming our planet unexpectedly, but not to a new state, just a state that has long since been left behind. I think I'll have primordial soup for dinner tonight.

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Newspapers now, Universities next


A Graphic History of Newspaper Circulation Over the Last Two Decades | The Awl

Circulation of major newspapers is in a free-fall.

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Higher Education is the next publishing industry

I think higher education is heading for a train wreck that is at least as bad as what newspapers are going through now. The college degree is analogous to the value of information that you get from a reputable journalism source like the New York Times. You pay the New York Times to read the information that they put together. Certainly journalism and the act of putting-together-information plays a bigger role than just giving me news to read, but people aren't willing to pay for those other roles. At the end of the day I want news to read. There is a lot of news to read that is free right now. So the New York Times starts to crash and burn. The "other" roles of journalism suffer and perhaps die or are perhaps picked up by other institutions.

If the value of a college degree is called into question even a little bit, then the whole higher education enterprise is going to go through a major shake-out also. How might that happen? Perhaps employers will no longer require them. Perhaps a different sort of qualification will become more central to employers than a college degree. Perhaps a new entity will begin to deliver degree-like things that employers suddenly realize are no less informative about the quality of an employee than a degree is. Universities do more than just deliver degrees, but most people don't pay for those other roles. What most people pay Universities for is a degree, because a degree is a ticket to the job interview.

When a degree costs $80K it seems like there is an extremely strong incentive to generate alternative validations of knowledge than a college degree. Let's say an employer would start taking a certification that costs $20K to get and involved a student taking a bunch of tests, but being offered no formal instruction.

Why would anyone pay $60K more for information when it is available for free on the internet?

There are certainly some degrees that will remain obviously valuable, like a degree from MIT or Harvard. Just like there are some publications that people will still pay for, like Consumer Reports. I pay for Consumer Reports because I want unbiased evaluations of things that I want to purchase - a difficult thing to find on the Internet. But the reason people will pay for an MIT/Harvard degree isn't for access to unbiased information, its because of the access to the people. It's worth it to have spent 4 years partying with the people at those places and working with the faculty there, not because of what you learned but because you now have access to amazing talent when you start working.

I wonder whether most Universities offer $60K worth of value in that way

Here's a blog post that catalyzed me to rant:

bMish's Global Economic Trend Analysis: PhD's In Distress and the Unsustainable Cost of Education

"Whole chickens on sale, and a loss leader at that were $.21 lb. You can sometimes find them on sale for $.49 lb. You can easily find them for $.69 lb on sale.

Since 1971, chicken prices on sale have approximately tripled, the minimum wage has roughly quadrupled and the cost of tuition at the University of Illinois has gone up by a factor of 24.

Something is out of whack and it is not chicken prices or the minimum wage. Currently, I do not think I could finance myself through college playing poker on weekends against farmers in Cayuga Indiana, nor do I think anyone else could either."

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On Faith Panelists Blog: No 'Best Case' Way to Present God, but Many False Ways - Mark Driscoll

"Subsequently, if Jesus is dead, so is Christianity. If Jesus is alive, so is Christianity."

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The Big Bang

Cool video of a physicist describing the impossible to describe.

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Collision Trailer

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A former student waxing reflective on his research project with me...

My UCI Research Project: Nomatic*Aid | Danish Khan's Thoughts

"Also, the fact that even though it was Professor Patterson’s research project he gave me the responsibility of doing it how I felt was best as long as the project got done and did not have any bugs."

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What is going on with the stock market?!?

On Tuesday, 37% of the volume on the NYSE was comprised of trading in four basically worthless stocks: Citibank, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and Bank of America. Something very bad is going to happen with the stock market soon

Green Sharts On The NYSE! - The Market Ticker Today 3,162 different stocks traded on the NYSE. These four represent 0.13% of the total, yet they comprised 37% of the volume. That's an over-representation of nearly 300 times the average.

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My Apocalypse


In my apocalypse, everyone tends to survive when America collapses and it's our own fault.

"You are a humanitarian internationalist. You're convinced mankind will terminate America—but at least we won't off ourselves in the process. You'll know you're right when: Everyone on Earth pledges allegiance to a world government; the feds default on the national debt."

Play for yourself here

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Max Keiser walks that fine line...

I am fascinated by people who are borderline crazy and brilliant. I imagine that Old Testament prophets like Jeremiah were also. The thing I love about them is the way that I laugh *at* them because they are crazier than me and talking like lunatics, then after I let the message stew for a bit I hear them, then I start to worry because I realize they may be far more brilliant and spot on than I will ever be, then I panic and respond to what they are saying.

Max Keiser is one of those people. To whit:

Dr. Blankfein or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying & Love Goldman Sachs
"People will start taking themselves public on new Citizen Exchanges created by Obama; commit public sex acts to boost their stock price then short themselves before committing suicide to cash in out-of-the-money puts they bought on themselves. As a result, the porn industry will need a bailout.

Babies will abort themselves to avoid declaring bankruptcy on charges racked up on in vitro credit cards force-sold to them by Visa through their Verizon owned umbilical cords.

Facebook and Twitter will go public and will each have market caps bigger than Google causing the NASDAQ to shoot to all time new highs. Users will tweet and blog for insider stock. Perez Hilton will become a billionaire. The more you look in the mirror the more you get paid. Narcissism will get monetized by the Feds with some help by Nassim Taleb.

Thanks Lloyd Blankfein, current CEO of Goldman Sachs and future President of the United States. We are eternally in your debt."

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Quotable Moment

news article @ the bren school of information and computer sciences

Don Patterson, assistant professor of informatics at the University of California, Irvine, said in order for employers to use social networking smartly, superiors should try channeling younger people's mastery of social networking tools into something that benefits the agency or company.

One possibility is to enlist young workers to be the organization's public spokespeople, Patterson said. "In a lot of cases, they really understand marketing and branding, and they do it naturally for themselves." Enlisting employees who are good at social networking to represent the organization may be beneficial, said Patterson. "Maybe viewing these things as skills rather than liabilities is helpful."

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that is a good point.

Posted by: Andrea Verwys at July 9, 2009 1:19 PM

" I’ve heard of unplanned pregnancies, but I’ve never heard of an unplanned adoption."

"I’ve heard of unplanned pregnancies, but I’ve never heard of an unplanned adoption." - Max Lucado

I have heard of some pretty spontaneous adoptions, but the point is still interesting to consider.

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The Grass is always Greener : Tanning Cream vs. Skin Whitening Cream



Clarins Delicious Self-Tanning Cream

Skin Lightening Gel

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Life after Life after Death

From:My Thoughts on Easter Preaching and Study Help | TheResurgence

"After surveying several other ancient pagan writers and philosophers Wright concludes: “Nobody in the pagan world of Jesus’ day and thereafter actually claimed that somebody had been truly dead and had then come to be truly, and bodily, alive once more.” [10] Death, in ancient paganism, was a one-way street. According to Wright, “the road to the underworld ran only one way. Throughout the ancient world, from its ‘bible’ of Homer and Plato, through its practices (funerals, memorial feasts), its stories (plays, novels, legends), its symbols (graves, amulets, grave-goods) and its grand theories, we can trace a good deal of variety about the road to Hades, and about what one might find upon arrival. As with all one-way streets, there is bound to be someone who attempts to drive in the opposite direction. One hears of a Protesilaus, an Alcestis or a Nero redivivus, once or twice in a thousand years. But the road was well policed. Would-be traffic violators (Sisyphus, Eurydice and the like) were turned back or punished. And even they occurred in what everybody knew to be myth.” [11] Wright notes: “We cannot stress too strongly that from Homer onwards the language of ‘resurrection’ was not used to denote ‘life after death’ in general, or any of the phenomena supposed to occur within such a life. The great majority of the ancients believed in life after death; many of them developed… complex and fascinating beliefs about it and practices in relation to it; but, other than within Judaism and Christianity, they did not believe in resurrection.” [12] "

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Driscoll on the fall of Christian America

The Mars Hill Blog | Blog Archive サ Pastor Mark Driscoll takes on Christian America for Fox News

I do not find the report [of the fall of Christian America] surprising or discouraging. With the social benefits of professing to be a Christian no longer in place and the social stigma of not professing to be a Christian now lifted, those who were [nominally] part of Christian America are simply no longer pretending to be part of Christian America. Since those who professed faith but did not practice faith were confusing to account for, this is actually a good thing. Now, it is more likely that if someone is a Christian or non-Christian, he or she will state so plainly.

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The Danger of More Shiny New Things

The Simple Wisdom Project: POVs

"Imagine the temptations that the executives at In-N-Out have felt over the years to add something new. In addition to wanting to take advantage of trends and fads, they very easily could have decided they were bored offering the same menu. Why not add a chicken sandwich? Or a shamrock shake in March? Or a Mexican-pizza-melt? Every other restaurant is adding new items to keep customers interested. Weren‘t they worried they‘d fall behind?

They‘ve always said ‘no’, and kept their focus on making the freshest, most consistent high quality hamburger in the world—or at least in this part of the world. And they‘ve never been willing to dilute their focus on that by chasing something shiny and new. They believe that there are plenty of people out there who want great hamburgers, and they‘re okay with those people driving to another restaurant when they are craving something else. That requires great restraint and a real appreciation for what they already have."

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Toward Inbox Zero


The end of the quarter has been accompanied by a dizzying array of unexpected things to do. I suppose they were all put on hold until the quarter was over.'s ugly.

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Google doesn't advertise

It's curious to notice that the biggest seller of online ads, does not itself, advertise online.

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Contentment without complacency

Some friends of mine and I were having a discussion about how "being content in all circumstances" seems to lead to a life of inaction. What would motivate you to rage against injustice if you were truly content? Why would you fight slavery (as a slave or a slave-owner) if you were content with your circumstances?

The Bible admonishes Christians to be content in all circumstances, yet contentment in the face of injustice smells like someone using religion to control me. The Christ that I serve redeems and frees me. So how do I reconcile contentment with the struggle to, if not bring heaven to earth, stave off hell on earth?

Enter John Piper, who's excellent article Dissatisfied Contentment deconstructs this idea. He starts from the premise of the pursuit of ultimate pleasure being a proper motivation for man - Christian hedonism.

"The loving person is the person who gives cheerfully, that is, who finds pleasure in giving. Precisely this pleasure pleases God; therefore, the person who abandons the pursuit of his own pleasure abandons the possibility of loving man and pleasing God."

From the premise he develops a position on why a content person would act. The bottom line is that a joyful content person overflows. Contentment and joy receive more contentment and joy when it sees others also having the same. Piper argues that this was the rationale for creation. It works for me. The original article is great.

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Is God's Love Unconditional?

I appreciate the intellectual depth that John Piper brings to Christianity. His website is a great place to start for a richer theological understanding of Christianity beyond the two sentence fights you see played out on CNN and on the side of buses in the U.K..

A great example is this blog post in which he deconstructs "unconditional love" and points out that while God does have unconditional love, it is not for everyone. While this is a hard thing to hear, I think it is a necessary assertion for other aspects of Christian theology (or at least my flavor) to hold together.

"There is such a thing as unconditional love in God, but it’s not what most people mean by it. "

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Johanna's Ph.D. on mobility

Johanna commenting on what maps take from our mobility while at the same time enabling it.

"Most importantly, though, local legibility is the legibility of practice - it reflects the ways in which people work in, engage with, and make use of the world around them, rather than the abstracted view associated with panoptic legibility."

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Cheney vs. Jesus

CNN Political Ticker: All politics, all the time Blog Archive - Obama making U.S. less safe, Cheney says ォ - Blogs from

"These are evil people. And we're not going to win this fight by turning the other cheek," [Cheney] said.


Matthew 5:38-50

"You have heard that it was said, 'Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.' But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.

"You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

I know that governing is hard, and there are some really difficult decisions to be made, but following Jesus is not about doing it when it's easy or feels good, it's about doing it when it's hard and you struggle and hate it. Because that's when it matters. That is when you are being obedient. That is when you are glorifying God. That is when your character is changing. That is when you are walking with Jesus not just speaking platitudes. Jesus has been there. That was what going to the cross was all about. It was an act of obedience taking precedence over his personal desires - for the greater good - when it seemed stupid.

I am a little rattled at all the Christians who have bought into the mindset of the previous administration and rejected the current one. You may not like his approach to governing but to suggest that Obama is not doing a Godly job of leading us and the previous administration was is not very well substantiated by quotes like this one.

I think the question for today can be credited to Cheney, who makes us ask ourselves, "What is the fight we are trying to win?"

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Photo of an unknown man by Jack.ed

The following quote is attributed to Beth Moore, a writer and teacher of Christian spirituality

"Life shouldn't be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well-preserved body, but rather, to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly shouting, 'Wow! What a ride! Thank You, Lord!' "

I'm feeling it this morning...

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From Blind Man's Misery

"The foolish things, they will shame the wise.
The strong boast, the weak survive.
And what we see, our faith believes.
The world's turned by things unseen"

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Post-Modern Devotional - "Unity"

One by U2

Is it getting better
Or do you feel the same
Will it make it easier on you now
You got someone to blame
You say...

One love
One life
When it's one need
In the night
One love
We get to share it
Leaves you baby if you
Don't care for it

Did I disappoint you
Or leave a bad taste in your mouth
You act like you never had love
And you want me to go without
Well it's...
Too late
To drag the past out into the light
We're one, but we're not the same
We get to
Carry each other
Carry each other

Have you come here for forgiveness
Have you come to raise the dead
Have you come here to play Jesus
To the lepers in your head
Did I ask too much
More than a lot
You gave me nothing
Now it's all I got
We're one
But we're not the same
Well we
Hurt each other
Then we do it again
You say
Love is a temple
Love a higher law
Love is a temple
Love the higher law
You ask me to enter
But then you make me crawl
And I can't be holding on
To what you got
When all you got is hurt
One love
One blood
One life
You got to do what you should
One life
With each other
One life
But we're not the same
We get to
Carry each other
Carry each other


Phillipians 2:1-5

If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.

Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:

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Pundits sound so convincing, but are often wrong

From cannonfire:

"This video sequence offers a compendium of appearances (covering the 2006-2007 period) by Euro Pacific Capital president Peter Schiff, who is a frequent -- and frequently disrespected -- talking head on cable news shows. What astonishes is not just the accuracy of his dour predictions about the economy but the sheer arrogance of every other person appearing on these programs."

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Advent Conspiracy

Advent Conspiracy. Subvert the dominant paradigm.

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World Philosophy Day was yesterday

From this BBC article


Consider a photo of someone you think is you eight years ago. What makes that person you? You might say he she was composed of the same cells as you now. But most of your cells are replaced every seven years. You might instead say you're an organism, a particular human being, and that organisms can survive cell replacement - this oak being the same tree as the sapling I planted last year.

But are you really an entire human being? If surgeons swapped George Bush's brain for yours, surely the Bush look-alike, recovering from the operation in the White House, would be you. Hence it is tempting to say that you are a human brain, not a human being.

But why the brain and not the spleen? Presumably because the brain supports your mental states, eg your hopes, fears, beliefs, values, and memories. But then it looks like it's actually those mental states that count, not the brain supporting them. So the view is that even if the surgeons didn't implant your brain in Bush's skull, but merely scanned it, wiped it, and then imprinted its states on to Bush's pre-wiped brain, the Bush look-alike recovering in the White House would again be you.

But the view faces a problem: what if surgeons imprinted your mental states on two pre-wiped brains: George Bush's and Gordon Brown's? Would you be in the White House or in Downing Street? There's nothing on which to base a sensible choice. Yet one person cannot be in two places at once.

In the end, then, no attempt to make sense of your continued existence over time works. You are not the person who started reading this article. "

Or "you" is something not bound to material goo but which can only experience sensations through that goo. And for the record British people are smarter - having this article in their CNN proves it. Q.E.D.

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A moment of teaching sympathy

Photo courtesy of Joriel "Jox" Jimenez

I request a moment of empathy for all the teachers out there whose only indication that they are doing a good job is that no one is happy in the class. "It is too hard" "It is too easy" "We follow the text too close" "We don't go over the text enough" "This is like an [easy] class" "I have no idea what is going on". All on one evaluation. It's like being a politician. You know you are doing a good job if everyone hates you, but you get reelected.

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Final Thoughts for Election Day

From CNN this morning - the final thoughts of the candidates:


From the Bible:

Micah 6:8 (New International Version):
" He has showed you, O man, what is good.
And what does the LORD require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God."

Barack Obama on Jesus Christ (more)

"You need to come to church in the first place precisely because you are first of this world, not apart from it. You need to embrace Christ precisely because you have sins to wash away - because you are human and need an ally in this difficult journey.

"It was because of these newfound understandings that I was finally able to walk down the aisle of Trinity United Church of Christ on 95th Street in the Southside of Chicago one day and affirm my Christian faith. It came about as a choice, and not an epiphany. I didn't fall out in church. The questions I had didn't magically disappear. But kneeling beneath that cross on the South Side, I felt that I heard God's spirit beckoning me. I submitted myself to His will, and dedicated myself to discovering His truth. "

Philippians 1:18(New International Version)
"But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice."

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Political Parties and Bailouts

Let's take a quick look at presidents and bailouts. Which party is most likely to use government spending to bail out private corporations? Source of data is ProPublica

Red is Republican. Blue is Democrat.

Target of Bailoutyear(President)Cost in 2008 U.S. Dollars
Troubled Asset Relief Program2008 (Bush II)$700,000,000,000
Auto Industry2008 (Bush II)$25,000,000,000
AIG2008 (Bush II)$122,800,000,000
FannieMae/FreddieMac2008 (Bush II)$200,000,000,000
Bear Sterns2008 (Bush II)$30,000,000,000
Airline Industry2001 (Bush II)$18,600,000,000
Savings & Loan1989 (Bush)$293,300,000,000
Continental Illinois Bank1984 (Reagan)$9,500,000,000
Chrysler1980 (Carter)$4,000,000,000
New York City1975 (Ford)$9,400,000,000
Franklin National Bank1974 (Nixon)$7,800,000,000
Lockheed1971 (Nixon)$1,400,000,000
Penn Central Railroad1970 (Nixon)$3,200,000,000

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"Instead of a Show" by Jon Foreman

Woa! and ouch. Reminds me of Bob Dylan.

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People in the Middle for Obama

People in the Middle for Obama

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Lincoln's prayer during civil war

Abraham Lincoln was amazing. He shouldered such an incredible weight during such an uncertain time. The way he wrote about the role of God in the civil war continues to astound me.

After an uncomfortable evening of political discussions regarding the fate of our nation, often cast in terms of an internal, invisible war, I am reminded of what he said at the moment the Civil War of the United States was on the knife edge. This election doesn't have anything to do with slavery, but the emotions and philosophical issues that Lincoln was grappling with are relevant this hour.

Jesus for President

"One eighth of the whole population were colored slaves, not distributed generally over the Union, but localized in the Southern part of it. These slaves constituted a peculiar and powerful interest. All knew that this interest was, somehow, the cause of the war. To strengthen, perpetuate, and extend this interest was the object for which the insurgents would rend the Union, even by war; while the government claimed no right to do more than to restrict the territorial enlargement of it. Neither party expected for the war, the magnitude, or the duration, which it has already attained. Neither anticipated that the cause of the conflict might cease with, or even before, the conflict itself should cease. Each looked for an easier triumph, and a result less fundamental and astounding. Both read the same Bible, and pray to the same God; and each invokes His aid against the other. It may seem strange that any men should dare to ask a just God's assistance in wringing their bread from the sweat of other men's faces; but let us judge not that we be not judged. The prayers of both could not be answered; that of neither has been answered fully. The Almighty has his own purposes. "Woe unto the world because of offences! for it must needs be that offences come; but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh!" If we shall suppose that American Slavery is one of those offences which, in the providence of God, must needs come, but which, having continued through His appointed time, He now wills to remove, and that He gives to both North and South, this terrible war, as the woe due to those by whom the offence came, shall we discern therein any departure from those divine attributes which the believers in a Living God always ascribe to Him? Fondly do we hope—fervently do we pray—that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue, until all the wealth piled by the bond-man's two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash, shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said "the judgments of the Lord, are true and righteous altogether"

President Abraham Lincoln's second inaugural address was delivered March 5, 1865 before the end of the Civil War. Lincoln was assassinated a few weeks later on April 14, 1865.

(text copied from here)

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Democrats are the new Republicans

Great data on the national debt and how the Republicans have abandoned small government and fiscal responsibility. The still like to talk about it, but there ain't no walk in that big ole talk.

Source:United Stated National Debt

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The kid whose dad left him, the single mom and your housekeeper

Photo courtesy of thepoetisinmultiply

"Look around you: Everything you see is God's—the heavens above and beyond, the Earth, and everything on it. But it was your ancestors who God fell in love with; he picked their children—that's you!—out of all the other peoples. That's where we are right now. So cut away the thick calluses from your heart and stop being so willfully hardheaded. God, your God, is the God of all gods, he's the Master of all masters, a God immense and powerful and awesome. He doesn't play favorites, takes no bribes, makes sure orphans and widows are treated fairly, takes loving care of foreigners by seeing that they get food and clothing.

You must treat foreigners with the same loving care—
remember, you were once foreigners in Egypt.
Reverently respect God, your God, serve him, hold tight to him,
back up your promises with the authority of his name.
He's your praise! He's your God!
He did all these tremendous, these staggering things
that you saw with your own eyes. "
Deut. 10:17-20

Who are the fatherless today? It is the HIV orphan in Africa, it is the 40% of kids in America who went to bed last night without a dad, it is the girl in foster care in Santa Ana.

Who is the widow today? It is the single mom, working at Denny's because her husband couldn't take the heat and left. It is the woman whose husband died fighting in Iraq. It is the elderly childless woman whose husband of 40 years, died of Alzheimer's disease.

Who is the foreigner? It is the illegal immigrant who mows your lawn. It is the Ethiopian man who drove the taxi from the airport. It is the other woman who came with your normal housekeeper and helped wipe down the windows.

"Make sure foreigners and orphans get their just rights. Don't take the cloak of a widow as security for a loan. Don't ever forget that you were once slaves in Egypt and God, your God, got you out of there. I command you: Do what I'm telling you.

When you harvest your grain and forget a sheaf back in the field, don't go back and get it; leave it for the foreigner, the orphan, and the widow so that God, your God, will bless you in all your work. When you shake the olives off your trees, don't go back over the branches and strip them bare—what's left is for the foreigner, the orphan, and the widow. And when you cut the grapes in your vineyard, don't take every last grape—leave a few for the foreigner, the orphan, and the widow. Don't ever forget that you were a slave in Egypt. I command you: Do what I'm telling you."
Deut. 24:17-22

I'm not sure how to leave a sheaf behind in today's world. But for now I have two Trader Joe's gift cards in my wallet that I am going to give to the right person.

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Anti-Abortion and Pro-Life

kids playing soccer
Photo courtesy of carf

Now that I have successfully pissed off a ton of people with my last abortion related post, I will continue on...

Today I am musing about whether it is possible to be "anti-abortion" and not actually be "pro-life". I wonder this because I see a lot of people that are really happy to make abortion illegal (something for which I would vote for if was ever asked), but not particularly active in helping to alleviate the pain associated with poverty, war and disease. So, great, we bring a lot of kids into the world and leave them to suffer? That is lame.

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Post-Modern Devotional - "Poverty and Salvation"

Post-modern devotional - "Peace Peter"

"Sell your house, sell your suv
sell your stocks, sell your security
and give it to the poor"
Rich Young Ruler by Derek Webb (vs. 1)
poverty is so hard to see
when it’s only on your tv and twenty miles across town
where we’re all living so good
that we moved out of Jesus’ neighborhood
where he’s hungry and not feeling so good
from going through our trash
he says, more than just your cash and coin
i want your time, i want your voice
i want the things you just can’t give me

(vs. 2)
so what must we do
here in the west we want to follow you
we speak the language and we keep all the rules
even a few we made up
come on and follow me
but sell your house, sell your suv
sell your stocks, sell your security
and give it to the poor
what is this, hey what’s the deal
i don’t sleep around and i don’t steal
i want the things you just can’t give me

because what you do to the least of these
my brother’s, you have done it to me
because i want the things you just can’t give me

"Keep us from just singing,
move us into action,
We must go... we must go
God of Justice by Tim Hughes "God of Justice, Saviour to all
Came to rescue the weak and the poor
Chose to serve and not be served

Jesus, You have called us
Freely we've received
Now freely we will give

We must go live to feed the hungry
Stand beside the broken
We must go
Stepping forward keep us from just singing
Move us into action
We must go

To act justly everyday
Loving mercy in everyway
Walking humbly before You God

You have shown us, what You require
Freely we've received
Now freely we will give

Fill us up and send us out
Fill us up and send us out
Fill us up and send us out Lord
Luke 18:18-23 "Once a religious leader asked Jesus this question: “Good Teacher, what should I do to inherit eternal life?”

“Why do you call me good?” Jesus asked him. “Only God is truly good. But to answer your question, you know the commandments: ‘You must not commit adultery. You must not murder. You must not steal. You must not testify falsely. Honor your father and mother.’"
The man replied, “I’ve obeyed all these commandments since I was young.”
When Jesus heard his answer, he said, “There is still one thing you haven’t done. Sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
But when the man heard this he became very sad, for he was very rich.

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note to self : updated

(new picture - see comments)

Note to self: When people tell you that there is an alien fungus growing in your office, do not blow them off with some vague statement about the reproductive cycle of tropical plants. Instead put on your Sigourney Weaver and get fierce...

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Ugh... if you're gonna get your Sigourney Weaver on, please do it from Alien or Aliens. Alien: Resurrection was awful ;)


Posted by: haasebert at October 4, 2008 5:25 PM

Picture changed to acknowledge that get your Sigourney Weaver on is not the same if you ignore the specifics of the movie.

Posted by: DJP3 at October 4, 2008 6:16 PM

Jury Duty in Orange County


This is my account of being called to jury duty in Orange County:

Day one:

I spent the morning in the Orange County Jury Assembly room trying to get my laptop to connect to the internet using my GPRS phone. The Jury Assembly room was a big room filled with ~150 people. It was reminiscent of the DMV, but it was a little nicer and the people were dressed better than at the DMV. My local friends tell me that this is because of which court this is, not because it is *a* court in general. A woman with an English accent, friendly, but no nonsense, was in charge of managing this mostly disgruntled group of potential jurors. The role of the people in this room was to hang out for 8 hours in case there was a trial which needed a jury. In fact there were at least three. For each trial about 30 people were called out of the room. From each pool of 30, 12 jurors get picked for a trial.

Two trials called in jurors in the morning. After a long lunch break at the local Starbucks, a third trial was started and my name was called to be a potential juror for this one. I entered the court of Judge Everett W. Dickey for the start of a painfully slow and deliberate process. Because you never know who the jurors are, the judge repeats everything in excruciatingly clear detail. The result is a clear understanding of what is going on, but - uggh - kill me with a spoon.

Once in the court room, the 30 of us sat in the audience of the courtroom while the court clerk called 12 potential jurors to the stand. 5 were excused for various hardship reasons. Hardship, of course, is easily exaggerated for those who would rather not be there. I was called up in the second round. I was interested in going through the process so I didn't dig for a hardship excuse. Three more rounds of hardship replacements and we were recessed for 20 minutes. This required a potential juror to argue in front of the entire courtroom why being on the jury is a hardship. If you had the guts to make your stupid argument in front of the whole courtroom, you basically got off, regardless of how dumb the hardship was.

After the recess we were called back in and the judge asked a few clarifying questions. These questions were a bit dramatic because they were asked in front of the judge and the 11 other jurors and about 30 just-in-case jurors in audience, the judge clarified that some of the jurors were widows, that one woman was divorced, what people did for a living, etc. At that last point, I suddenly felt a little pressure as the judge clarified that I was a professor in front of everyone. He asked me what I taught ("Computer Science") and how long I had been doing it ("one year"). During this phase it became clear that the trial was about a hit-and -run accident.

Then the lawyers got to question us. The defense attorney reminds me of Sophie, a friend from Seattle. The plantiff's attorney looks like Matthew Perry from Friends. Again I felt the pressure as the defense attorney asked me a question and phrased it as "Professor, where do you know the term beyond a reasonable doubt from?" Being called professor, while accurate, felt strange. Then when the district attorney asked whether anyone would have a problem convicting someone based on circumstantial evidence, I felt the need to speak up. I said that I wouldn't be comfortable convicting someone just based on circumstantial evidence. He was trying to make this point that not everything in the trial was going to be "direct evidence" which he raised in contrast to circumstantial evidence. I think those are false categories though. How circumstantial evidence is just relates to how many reasonable alternate interpretations of the information there are. Apparently I came across as someone who was going to take the process seriously as opposed to someone who was going to be a problem during deliberations because neither attorney used one of their wildcard kick-the-guy-off-the-jury-for-whatever-reasons plays on me. They did use them on some others though.

Anyway, after a little heat from the D.A. (such drama), the judge excused us until 9am in the morning.

Day Two:

For some reason today I felt like I was in a television program. The attorney from the D.A.'s office looks more and more like Matthew Perry every minute. He seems somewhat angry and adequate, but not brilliant at what he's doing. He has a hard time phrasing the questions in a way that the defense attorney doesn't object to.

After we settled on the final jurors, we were sworn in.

Now the characters in the case start to emerge. The defendant, although he hasn't said anything looks like a character out of a movie. He has a woman in the courtroom with dyed magenta hair and heavy leather bracelets and dark eyeshadow taking notes in a round notebook. Every now and then some one comes in or out and sits on the defendant's side. First a tall skinny guy, plain, except for a dramatic sweeping gelled in place hair cut. He leaves. Then a plain looking Asian guy comes in with big disk earring things.

The plaintiff is an annoying woman from New York who it turns out had to be subpoenaed in order to appear. Since this was a criminal trial, not a civil trial, it was out of her hands once the D.A. took it on. She was proud of being from New York, repeatedly emphasized how overworked she is and was flippant to the judge and the rest of the court officials. She is "so tired", "works really long hours" and "wishes she had never called the police". This of course makes me wonder about the defendant and why there is such a push to get him tried for the hit-and-run accident.

The other witness for the plaintiff is a sugary-sweet young woman who copes with the stress of the courtroom questioning by giggling and pretending that everyone in the courtroom thinks the whole event was a pain, but basically fun.

The conclusion was that the guy was guilty of a hit and run accident on I-5. He hit the defendant while exiting off of the highway. He pretended to pull into the IKEA parking lot and then took off when she got out of her car. Two days later he applied for a driver's license (pretty convicting circumstantial evidence).

Turns out it was the D.A.'s first case to go to trial. Hence some of the weirdness I sensed in his demeanor. We didn't find that out until afterward.

The deliberations when we were locked in the jury room were fun. Particularly the guy who managed the Red Lobster who kept saying "what do I know? I sell shrimp for a living".

Overall I was very impressed with how seriously the jurors, the judge and everyone in the procedure took the whole process. I can't help but think that if this is what everyone is experiencing our justice system is in pretty good shape. Horribly inefficient, but at least its fair.

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The red lobster guy is hilarious.

Posted by: Andrea and Nate at October 6, 2008 4:26 AM

"Missions Exists Because Worship Doesn't" -Lacrae

Reach Records
Lacrae in concert.

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Obama or McCain?

Donkey Elephant
Photo courtesy of Aunt Christina

So below is a little quiz that my wife and I put together. It challenges you to guess which presumed presidential candidate made which statement. It's a little eye-opening to see how similar the vacant rhetoric is. On the other hand its also a little surprising to see who stands on which slightly less vacant rhetoric. Hopefully it will challenge your preconceptions about which party stands for which issues.

1. "The first step is to offer immediate relief to families who are struggling right now while helping to jumpstart economic growth and create jobs. Between a sluggish economy and gas prices rising above $4 a gallon, the American people cannot wait another six months for help."


2. "Small businesses are the job engine of America, and I will make it easier for them to grow and create more jobs."


3."Government has grown by 60 percent in the last eight years. That's simply inexcusable. When I'm president, I will order a stem to stern review of government, modernize how it does business and save billions of dollars. I'll veto every single bill with wasteful pork-barrel spending on it."


4."I believe that we have a national security interest in making sure Iraq is secure. I've been saying this consistently."


5. "Three years ago, I traveled with some colleagues, including Senator Hillary Clinton and Senator Lindsey Graham, to Yukon territory, a front line of global warming. We flew over miles of devastated spruce forests, every tree killed by insects that thrive in warm temperatures. As the trees die, fires multiply, and across the region the waters are vanishing. We heard from men and women near Whitehorse whose traditional way of life had been radically disrupted. All of this is just a glimpse of the grave environmental dangers that global warming can bring, unless we act to prevent it. I was among the first in Congress to introduce legislation to curb greenhouse gasses. If I am elected president, it will be a top priority to enact an energy policy equal to this challenge. "


6."To keep our nation prosperous, strong and growing, we have to rethink, reform and reinvent the way we educate our children, train our workers, deliver health care services, support retirees, fuel our transportation network, stimulate research and development, and harness new technologies."


7."America, this is our moment. This is our time. Our time to turn the page on the policies of the past. Our time to bring new energy and new ideas to the challenges we face. Our time to offer a new direction for this country that we love. "


8."At the end of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus closes by saying, "Whoever hears these words of mine, and does them, shall be likened to a wise man who built his house upon a rock: and the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house, and it fell not, for it was founded upon a rock." [Matthew 7: 24-25 Here at [deleted], you are blessed to worship in a house that has been founded on the rock of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior."


9. "Many issues [are] at stake in this election. All of these challenges and more will face the next president of the United States and I will not leave them for some unluckier generation of leaders to deal with."


10."Yes, we need more cops on the street. Yes, we need fewer guns in the hands of people who shouldn't have them. Yes, we need more money for our schools, and more outstanding teachers in the classroom, and more afterschool programs for our children. Yes, we need more jobs and more job training and more opportunity in our communities. But we also need families to raise our children. We need fathers to realize that responsibility does not end at conception. We need them to realize that what makes you a man is not the ability to have a child - it's the courage to raise one."


Your score:0/10

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Kid questions

Photo courtesy of zrim

In a discussion with my daughter last night we stumbled on to two of life's most challenging questions. Do crabs have heads? and the related questions: Do whales have heads?

What do you think? Comment below.

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Posted by: Nate at June 25, 2008 8:50 AM

I guess this answers the whale question

Posted by: Nate at June 25, 2008 9:14 AM

Net Neutrality

net nuetrality

I previously blogged about a presentation that Cory Doctorow gave on campus. One of the points that I made to him during the presentation and then blogged about was that fighting for net neutrality is a waste of time:

"My prediction is that this fight is going to disappear because it's already lost. The net is not neutral any more. There was never any law saying it had to be. Let it go. We would be better off finding a way to publicly and objectively analyze the service from different providers."

It appears that Google is tacitly agreeing with me. They have recently announced that they are developing tools to identify when carriers are biasing your traffic based on relationships formed with other companies. So now, by using Google's forthcoming tools, consumers can compare the services provided by different providers and decide if having super fast access to ESPN is worth super slow access to to your favorite independently hosted blog.

" We're trying to develop tools, software tools...that allow people to detect what's happening with their broadband connections, so they can let [ISPs] know that they're not happy with what they're getting -- that they think certain services are being tampered with," Google senior policy director Richard Whitt said this morning during a panel discussion at Santa Clara University, an hour south of San Francisco.

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Vice Presidential Prediction


The Patterson household predicts that Obama will pick Caroline Kennedy as the vice presidential running mate. By doing so he will win the female vote that was sympathetic to Sen. Clinton, he will capitalize on sympathy for Sen. Kennedy, he will tap into a very popular presidents legacy, he will win over the white northeastern Democratic vote.

Its a brilliant move.

And now I hate myself for making a political comment which has nothing to do with policy and everything to do personality, demographics and strategy. Where is the substance!

Also I don't want to imply that my endorsement is what eventually made the difference, but I do need to point out that it was way back on November 9th when that strategic microdelegate threw his support behind Obama.

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Being a professor

Jobs listings in Hyderabad
Photo courtesy of nimboo

At this moment, I am enjoying being a professor. When people ask me what it is like to be a professor I find it hard to answer. Sometimes I say it's like being a Senator, because it is very political and your job is evaluated based on how a group of peers think you are doing. Sometimes I say it's like being an entrepreneur because you spend a lot of time selling ideas, raising money and training people on a vision. Today it's like being a writer. My desk is covered with manuscripts and writing guides and empty coffee mugs. On the whole, I like doing all these things.

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Sweet! When is your first film coming out?

Posted by: Nate at May 2, 2008 3:37 AM

Umm... I suppose after the documentary makers finish with post-production. Which also means that they will have to start post-production, and filming, and actually existing also.

Posted by: DJP3 at May 2, 2008 12:07 PM

Unrighteous Republicans, Lazy Democrats


I was talking with some friends this week. Since we are in Orange County and since conversation here always goes toward real estate (plus we were in a new house) we started talking about the real estate crash. Locally many people have lost their jobs because of the crash and, although this group is strongly opinionated anyway, there were strong opinions about the appropriateness around any sort of government bail-out of the people involved.

It also turns out that these men are also attempting to follow Christ in their lives. Eventually our conversation shifted to the moral culpability of the real estate crash. This reminded me about the distinction between rich and poor vs. righteous and unrighteous.

A lot of time when Christians talk about rich and poor they confuse that discussion with a discussion of righteous and unrighteous. Usually the way it works is that someone decides that they are either rich or poor and then equates being righteous with the position they are in. So the rich business man talks about the poor as being lazy, stupid and reaping the natural rewards of sinning. While the "poor" service employee talks about the rich as oppressive nickel and dimers who are sinning by oppressing them. They will often point to Jesus as being poor and therefore poverty must be a sign of righteousness and wealth a sign of moral bankruptcy.

But the Bible doesn't equate those two pairs. It acknowledges all four combinations: The rich righteous, the rich unrighteous, the poor righteous, the poor unrighteous.

  • The rich righteous: These people are wise investors, insightful, hard working, often generous, whom God has chosen to bless financially so that they can be a blessing to others. Example:
    • Proverbs 31 Woman:
      • 31:17 She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks.
      • 31:18 She sees that her trading is profitable, and her lamp does not go out at night.
    • Centurion from Acts 10:
      • 10:1At Caesarea there was a man named Cornelius, a centurion in what was known as the Italian Regiment.
      • 10:2 He and all his family were devout and God-fearing; he gave generously to those in need and prayed to God regularly.
      • 10:3 One day at about three in the afternoon he had a vision. He distinctly saw an angel of God, who came to him and said, "Cornelius!"
      • 10:4 Cornelius stared at him in fear. "What is it, Lord?" he asked. The angel answered, "Your prayers and gifts to the poor have come up as a memorial offering before God.
      • 10:5 Now send men to Joppa to bring back a man named Simon who is called Peter.
  • The rich unrighteous: These people are rich because they extort and oppress people for the sake of a profit. Example:
    • The oppressors in Nehemiah 5
      • 10:9 So I continued, "What you are doing is not right. Shouldn't you walk in the fear of our God to avoid the reproach of our Gentile enemies?
      • 10:10 I and my brothers and my men are also lending the people money and grain. But let the exacting of usury stop!
      • 10:11 Give back to them immediately their fields, vineyards, olive groves and houses, and also the usury you are charging them—the hundredth part of the money, grain, new wine and oil."
  • The poor unrighteous: These are people who are poor because they are lazy, make bad decision upon bad decision, foolish, run with other fools.Example:
    • The sluggard in Proverbs 6
      • 6:6 Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise!
      • 6:7 It has no commander, no overseer or ruler,
      • 6:8 yet it stores its provisions in summer and gathers its food at harvest.
      • 6:9 How long will you lie there, you sluggard? When will you get up from your sleep?
      • 6:10 A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest-
      • 6:11 and poverty will come on you like a bandit and scarcity like an armed man.
  • The poor righteous: People who are humble, called to do things which entail poverty, work hard, are not lazy, who God chooses to bless in other ways then finances. Sometimes these are people who are called to suffering because they are able to give God glory through the process. Example:
    • Jesus
      • Matthew 8:20 Jesus replied, "Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head."
    • Paul
      • 1 Corinthian 4:11 To this very hour we go hungry and thirsty, we are in rags, we are brutally treated, we are homeless. 12We work hard with our own hands. When we are cursed, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure it;

So I think the point is reflective. Where do you think you fall? Are you rich because you are an oppressor or because you are blessed? Are you poor because it is your calling or because you are lazy?

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The Olympics is a Religion


Now, I'm no religious scholar, secular or otherwise, but I have a working definition for "religion" that I use which includes three components. Religion..

  1. makes claims about meta-physical truths. (e.g., What is my purpose? What is the goal of humanity?)
  2. has symbols which support those claims. (e.g., cross, crescent, pentagram)
  3. has symbolic ceremonies which also support those claims (e.g,. communion, ritualized prayer)

Religion differs from philosophy because philosophy largely ignores the second two points.

Given my working definition, the olympic "movement" is totally a religion. It is a religion of humanism. Hope in the power of man to be unified

On the left is a link to the lighting of the torch. It is so explicitly pagan in its references to ancient Greek religion that it's troubling to me. Below are the lyrics to the song they are singing. As a Christian I find these philosophies, symbols and ceremonies run counter to what I believe to be true. They are worthy goals which the Olympics will never achieve.

"Flame is the light like a star in the sky.
It will return forever strong and light the way for you and I.
We wish upon the stars, that dreams will take us far.
Hope and peace in the world we all belong.
Love love love we will share together.
Love love love we are one.
One world one dream.
Let us share our hearts together all as one.
In a place where we join in the harmony.
One world one dream.
Let us celebrate the powers of our heroes.
Who will rise with strength and pride.
Love love love we will share together.
Love love love we are one.
Time and time again they flexed their power, spirit and glory.
Win or lose they stood together high.
Hearts and souls unite together.
Bring the worlds to love each other.
Reach reach for the sky.
One world one dream.
Let us share our hearts together all as one.
In a place where we join in harmony.
One world one dream.
Let us celebrate the powers of our heroes.
Who will rise with strength and pride.
Light the passion share the dream all as one

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Two signs the economy is tanking

Flickr Image
Photo courtesy of CorinthianGulf

I submit the following two signs that the economy is tanking.

  1. The bus that I have been taking for two years now is suddenly packed with people for no apparent reason. It used to be that if I got on the 7:10 Route 79 I could sit down, spread out and use my laptop. Now there are mornings when it is standing room only. Same thing on the way home. I attribute this to people having less money to afford gas and parking.
  2. In the same vein, four new signs showed up on the path on the way into campus this morning, all of them warning students that if you park in the shopping center next to campus and go to class, your car will be towed at your expense. Again, price sensitive students are no longer footing the bill for a parking pass and are trying to get away with parking nearby instead.

I might feel differently about these things if it was the start of the school year, but it's the second week of spring quarter. No big changes to anything that I can otherwise identify.

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Well that's odd. Yesterday night, Trader Joe's and Peet's in University Center were far, far more packed than usual, and the ARC was overrun. All three places had at least quadruple the number of normal occupants.

Flash mob doubled the population of Irvine?

How long has your bus been super-packed?

As for point two: I've been told that the parking passes aren't going up in price, but are getting more restrictive. Fewer places you can park as a computer science student, for instance.

Posted by: Sam Kaufman at April 16, 2008 8:22 AM

I would say the bus has picked up over the last 3 weeks. Slowly though, not all of a sudden.

Posted by: DJP3 at April 16, 2008 9:50 AM

Look data from the Iraq war!


Finally, there is something besides rhetoric published about the Iraq war. The graph on the left comes from the BBC. (Because British people are smarter) This graph shows that the surge was actually quite modest and that there was a drastic drop in military deaths during the time the surge was going on.

While correlation is not causality - meaning that it is not shown at all from this graph that the surge was responsible for the drop in deaths (although that is clearly implied.) It is nice to see some hard data to actually reason about.

The reason why the surge might not have anything to do with the drop in deaths is because a cease fire from one of the militia armies (I am not an expert) has widely been attributed as being behind the drop in violence rather than the surge

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Actually I think the Brookings Institute is an American outfit, not British. But at least the BBC published it.

Posted by: Nate at April 14, 2008 4:33 AM


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Photo courtesy of TheMacGirl*

I just finished submitting a paper. The following pertains:

O bed!
O bed!
delicious bed!
That heaven upon earth to the weary head.
- Thomas Hood, Miss Kilmansegg--Her Dream

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Posted by: Sam Kaufman at April 7, 2008 5:03 PM

Post-modern devotional - "Wake up dead man"

"Jesus, Jesus help me
I'm alone in this world
And a fucked up world it is too
Tell me, tell me the story
The one about eternity
And the way it's all gonna be

Wake up, wake up dead man
Wake up, wake up dead man

Jesus, I'm waiting here boss
I know you're looking out for us
But maybe your hands aren't free
Your father, He made the world in seven
He's in charge of heaven
Will you put a word in for me

Wake up, wake up dead man
Wake up, wake up dead man

Jesus, were you just around the corner
Did You think to try and warn her
Or are you working on something new
If there's an order in all of this disorder
Is it like a tape recorder
Can we rewind it just once more

Wake up, wake up dead man
Wake up, wake up dead man"

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Photo courtesy of ã¨ã³ã²ã¼ã
Caedmon's Call -"Thankful"

"You know I ran across an old box of letters
While I was bagging up some clothes for Goodwill
But you Know I had to laugh at the same old struggles
That plagued me then are plaguing me still
I know the road is long from the ground to glory
But a boy can hope he's getting some place
But you see, I'm running from the very clothes I'm wearing
And dressed like this I'm fit for the chase

'Cause no, there is none righteous
Not one who understands
There is none who seek God
No not one, I said no not one

So I am thankful that I'm incapable
Of doing any good on my own

'Cause we're all stillborn and dead in our transgressions
We're shackled up to the sin we hold so dear
So what part can I play in the work of redemption
I can't refuse, I cannot add a thing

'Cause I am just like Lazarus and I can hear your voice
I stand and rub my eyes and walk to You
Because I have no choice

I am thankful that I'm incapable
Of doing any good on my own
I'm so thankful that I'm incapable
Of doing any good on my own

'Cause by grace I have been saved
Through faith that's not my own
It is a gift of God and not by works
Lest anyone should boast"

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Photo courtesy of Sint-Katelijne-Waver

"The Death of Lazarus

1 Now a certain man was ill, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. 2 It was Mary who anointed the Lord with ointment and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was ill. 3 So the sisters sent to him, saying, "Lord, he whom you love is ill." 4 But when Jesus heard it he said, "This illness does not lead to death. It is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it."

5 Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. 6 So, when he heard that Lazarus[a] was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was. 7 Then after this he said to the disciples, "Let us go to Judea again." 8 The disciples said to him, "Rabbi, the Jews were just now seeking to stone you, and are you going there again?" 9 Jesus answered, "Are there not twelve hours in the day? If anyone walks in the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world. 10 But if anyone walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him." 11 After saying these things, he said to them, "Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I go to awaken him." 12 The disciples said to him, "Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will recover." 13 Now Jesus had spoken of his death, but they thought that he meant taking rest in sleep. 14 Then Jesus told them plainly, "Lazarus has died, 15 and for your sake I am glad that I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him." 16 So Thomas, called the Twin, said to his fellow disciples, "Let us also go, that we may die with him."

17 Now when Jesus came, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb four days. 18 Bethany was near Jerusalem, about two miles off, 19 and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary(R) to console them concerning their brother. 20 So when Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, but Mary remained seated in the house. 21 Martha said to Jesus, "Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 But even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you." 23 Jesus said to her, "Your brother will rise again." 24 Martha said to him, "I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day." 25 Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, 26 and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?" 27 She said to him, "Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world."

28 When she had said this, she went and called her sister Mary, saying in private, "The Teacher is here and is calling for you." 29 And when she heard it, she rose quickly and went to him. 30 Now Jesus had not yet come into the village, but was still in the place where Martha had met him. 31 When the Jews who were with her in the house, consoling her, saw Mary rise quickly and go out, they followed her, supposing that she was going to the tomb to weep there. 32 Now when Mary came to where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet, saying to him, "Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died." 33 When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in his spirit and greatly troubled. 34 And he said, "Where have you laid him?" They said to him, "Lord, come and see." 35 Jesus wept. 36 So the Jews said, "See how he loved him!" 37 But some of them said, "Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man also have kept this man from dying?"

38Then Jesus, deeply moved again, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone lay against it. 39 Jesus said, "Take away the stone." Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, "Lord, by this time there will be an odor, for he has been dead four days." 40Jesus said to her, "Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?" 41 So they took away the stone. And Jesus lifted up his eyes and said, "Father, I thank you that you have heard me. 42 I knew that you always hear me, but I said this on account of the people standing around, that they may believe that you sent me." 43When he had said these things, he cried out with a loud voice, "Lazarus, come out." 44 The man who had died came out, his hands and feet bound with linen strips, and his face wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, "Unbind him, and let him go."

John 11

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Post-modern devotional - "Peace Peter"

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"The Queen of Narnia and Empress of the Lone Islands desires a safe conduct to come and speak with you," said the dwarf, " on a matter which is as much to your advantage as to hers."
"Queen of Narnia, indeed!" said Mr. Beaver. "Of all the cheek ---"
"Peace, Beaver," said Aslan. "All names will soon be restored to their proper owners. In the meantime we will not dispute about them."


"Oh," said Mr. Beaver. "So that's how you came to imagine yourself a queen -- because you were the Emperor's hangman. I see."
"Peace, Beaver," said Aslan, with a very low growl.
"And so," continued the Witch, "that human creature is mine. His life is forfeit to me. His blood is my property."

From C.S. Lewis's, The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe

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Photo courtesy of snowriderguy
Caedmon's Call Cover of Rich Mullin's song: "Hope to carry on"

I can see Jesus hanging on a cross
I can see Jesus hanging on a cross
Oh, I can see Jesus hanging on a cross
He came looking for the lost

And love has come
Love has come
Love has come
And given me hope to carry on

I can hear Jesus saying Father forgive (Father forgive)
I can hear Jesus saying Father forgive (Father forgive them)
I can hear Jesus saying Father forgive
And what a thing He did

Love has come
Love has come
Love has come
And given me hope to carry on

And I can see love
Love is all I want to see
It can make a beggar rich
It can set a prisoner free
I know He can do it for you
God knows He did it for me

And I can see love
And love is all I want to show you
Love's the only way to go
And love
But love is all a man might need to know
This I know

And you know Peter put away his sword
I can see Peter putting away his sword
Well I can see Peter put away his sword
He won't fight no more

Love has come
Love has come
Love has come
And given me hope to carry on
To carry on
To carry on

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Photo courtesy of Jasmic

" 1When Jesus had spoken these words,(A) he went out with his disciples across(B) the Kidron Valley, where there was a garden, which he and his disciples entered. 2Now Judas, who betrayed him, also knew(C) the place, for(D) Jesus often met there with his disciples. 3(E) So Judas, having procured a band of soldiers and some officers from the chief priests and the Pharisees, went there with lanterns and torches and weapons. 4Then Jesus,(F) knowing all that would happen to him, came forward and said to them, (G) "Whom do you seek?" 5They answered him, "Jesus of Nazareth." Jesus said to them, "I am he."[a] Judas, who betrayed him, was standing with them. 6(H) When Jesus[b] said to them, "I am he," they drew back and fell to the ground. 7So he asked them again, (I) "Whom do you seek?" And they said, "Jesus of Nazareth." 8Jesus answered, "I told you that I am he. So, if you seek me, let these men go." 9(J) This was to fulfill the word that he had spoken: "Of those whom you gave me I have lost not one." 10Then Simon Peter,(K) having a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant[c] and cut off his right ear. (The servant’s name was Malchus.) 11So Jesus said to Peter, "Put your sword into its sheath;(L) shall I not drink the cup that the Father has given me?"

John 18:1-11

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Goodbye Uncle Bill

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Photo courtesy of kevandem

My Uncle Bill passed away yesterday afternoon after a lengthy battle with lung cancer. Uncle Bill was a person that always reminded me of an old photograph where somber looking black and white weather beaten farmers are leaning on a tractor while kids play in the background. He was given a difficult life but it never seemed to get him down.

Uncle Bill married my Aunt Penny years ago. Shortly afterward my Aunt was diagnosed with muscular dystrophy multiple sclerosis. They had one son, my cousin Billy, who also has M.D. M.S. as well as a variety of other medical issues.

So the part of my life that I knew Uncle Bill, I knew him as a man who was faithfully taking care of a very sick wife and son. I remember visiting him in a very literal shack in Ohio. I was a kid, so I didn't quite realize how poor they were, but the floors were sloped and the roof leaked. I think the house was held together by the linoleum on the floor more than the wood underneath. Uncle Bill had a garden out back where he grew a pretty big chunk of the food that they ate. He lived next to some horses. That was were I learned about electric fences and how not to touch them. He fixed tractors and lawn mowers for a living. Most of the support that they got came from grants from the National M.D. M.S. Society. There were a lot of cigarettes, beer and good ole boys around Uncle Bill.

My Aunt Penny was always sick when I knew her. She had trouble walking and eventually wasn't able to walk. She would always do her very best to be a gracious hostess though. My dad would go on and on about her "Dishwater Potatoes". They were good, but I think mostly he was trying to encourage his sister. Eventually my aunt had trouble swallowing and then trouble breathing. She passed away one afternoon from choking on some cashews in a nursing home. She just became too weak to clear her throat.

With all of these people passing away in my family it causes me to reflect a lot on what was important to these people in their hardest moments. My Uncle Larry asked us to pray for "patience and courage" as he was approaching his death. Reflecting on that will be a lifetime's work. My Aunt Nancy was always generous and looking for a way to have fun. Uncle Bill stood by his wife and son for years with a great attitude through a deteriorating illness and no shortage of poverty. Uncle Bill was a pretty straightforward simple person, but sure made a great role model.

Death sure puts life in perspective. I'm going to bump up "learn to play the fiddle" on my list and go make a really good cup of coffee. So long Uncle Bill. I hope I never have to be as strong as you were.

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Uncle Bill always made a point to be at every family event! He went to all the wedding, my college graduation, and visited Aunt Penny's grave a lot with Charlene.

Posted by: Andrea and Nate at January 28, 2008 6:20 PM

The Rest of the Rest of Us

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Photo courtesy of peterbaker

Dale Dougherty writes, in this very timely piece, a response to the MacWorld Apple announcements and the realization that many of the technological advancements that get "us" excited are worthless to most of the world.

The Rest of the Rest of Us

"It's unacceptable that our government is indifferent to the poor. But let me reframe this argument again in terms of technology, lest you think I'm trying to make a political point. (I hope you understand that I'm not trying to argue on behalf of a candidate but rather for the importance of poverty as an issue deserving our full attention.)

Is the high-tech world indifferent to the problems of the poor? Do we have any competence that matters in helping them find a better life? Or are we just making "the happy few" that much happier?

What is a social network if the people facing the toughest problems are not part of it? They don't need more signs that tell them that they are on their own. The have-nots don't do networking. It doesn't get them anywhere."

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Goodbye Uncle Larry


My Uncle Larry passed away yesterday after a couple years of battling cancer:

So long Uncle Larry. I'm going to miss you. Thanks for the encouragement while I was in the Navy. For teaching me about driving ships and being a professional Naval Officer. Thanks for the trip to Fenway Park, for taking us to the Barnstable County fair. Thanks for Pedro's (they're wicked good), for Del's Lemonade. Thanks for making your son a great playground. Thanks for doughnuts before the road race - sorry about the pink ones. Thanks for showing us how to live strong through cancer. I'm glad that we got to say goodbye before yesterday. I will spend a lot of my life pondering why you would ask for prayer for patience and courage above all other things as you saw the end approaching. Sigh - man this is a hard season....

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I always liked that Uncle Larry had Friendly's Ice Cream mini sundaes in his freezer and he loved being nice to his milk man. He was always, always kind to Grandma even when she was loopy.

Posted by: Andrea and Nate at January 28, 2008 6:23 PM

Quote of the day

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Photo courtesy of Laura Burlton

"This emphasis on thinking as the solution to our problems fails to introduce the Person who has come not only to change the way we think about life, but to change us as well. We are more than thinkers. We are worshipers who enter into relationship with the person or thing we think will give us life. Jesus comes to transform our entire being, not just our mind. He comes as a person, not as a cognitive concept we insert into a new formula for life."

from How People Change.

This quote resonates with me on lots of levels. I like the reference to the fact that we are worshipers. Whether it is Apple, Jaguar, Starbucks, Barry Bonds, or John Calvin, people naturally devote themselves to things. I also like the reminder that a relationship with Christ is not all about theory. It is a whole body, mind, soul, heart, experience because it is a relationship not a technique. Finally an error that the quote refers to is the error of thinking that good design will solve all problems. This thought is the institutional sin of my entire line of work.

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Patterson Endorses Obama in 2008


The religious right (in the media) are complete hypocrites. I cannot believe that anyone is endorsing Guiliani just so that they can support a Republican candidate. It tells me that their all consuming issues of homosexuality and abortion are nothing more than manipulations to keep an iron in the fire of power. Because now, sticking to their guns on those issues promises to kick them out of the Republican power circle because Guiliani supports both homosexual rights and abortion. What is a modern-day Pharisee to do? Just change your convictions. Now they shift the focus of the fear away from gays and unwed pregnant teens to terrorists. They continue to keep Christians afraid so that they can retain power. News flash: Jesus commands Christians "Do not be afraid" here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.

Of course, "not being afraid" only makes sense if God is guiding your steps, sanctifying your suffering, and guarding your future. So if you aren't a Christian, then being afraid is completely rational. Maybe that explains the religious right's constant fear.

So, I've had it. Facing a future of Hillary Clinton vs. Rudy Giuliani. I've switched parties to being a Democrat so that I can vote for Barack Obama in the Democratic primaries.

He is not the savior. He is a politician. His administration will be sinful and corrupt. But I think he is a better option then the rest of the field.

Here is a brilliant speech by Obama on reconciling faith and politics.

"Folks tend to forget during our founding that it wasn't the atheists and civil libertarians who were the most effective champions of the 1st amendment. It was the persecuted minorities, it was Baptists like John Leland who didn't want the Congregationalists and the established churches from imposing thier views on people who were getting happy in the fields and teaching the Scriptures to slaves. It was the forebears of the Evangelicals who were the most adamant about not mingling government with religion because they did not want state sponsored religion hindering their ability to practice their religion as they understood it."

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Just to keep this vibrant conversation rolling... the O.C. register recently published a story about how Republican registrations in the O.C. are dropping:

Posted by: DJP3 at November 29, 2007 6:33 AM

Debt-free but not Inbox-zero


I am happy to report that as of paying off my vehicle I am 100% debt-free. This is a goal that I try and stick to as much as possible. Being satisfied with what you have is a God-enabled gift. Living within your means is a good indicator that you are achieving this. Unfortunately, debt-free will all go out the window in a few months when I finance a new home. Now I need to focus more on "Inbox-zero".

"What does the worker gain from his toil? I have seen the burden God has laid on men. He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end. I know that there is nothing better for men than to be happy and do good while they live. That everyone may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all his toil—this is the gift of God. I know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it. God does it so that men will revere him." Ecc.3:9-14

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Outpouring of Support for Aunt Nancy and What to Do About It


Over 1000 people were at my Aunt Nancy's viewing this weekend. At the end of the day, that says something basic about her. She knew lots of people and they cared for her and our family. It was extremely touching.

If 1000 people come to my funeral I think I would be shocked. Not because I don't think I have friends, but just because my social network is more geographically diverse and by necessity not as deep.

Getting the most number of people to your funeral as possible is a dumb life goal. But thinking about who would go to your funeral is an interesting way to evaluate friendships and decide who to invest in. There are some people who you know are just using you to get something they want. They take time away from people who actually care about you and about whom you care.

Goal for today: Invest in the people who will be at my funeral if I'm not at theirs first.

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Severe Mercy

The wife of a friend of mine in Seattle recently used the term "Severe Mercy" in an exchange that our family was having with theirs. It is a term that relates to the extremes that Jesus will go to in order to pursue a relationship with his people.

In the scope of my family which has seen a sequence of brushes, and now collisions, with death, the idea is even more real to me. If God should cause my uncle to get cancer that sounds like an evil god. Unless it is truly a severe mercy. If such an episode with cancer should be the only thing that would cause my uncle to stop running from a relationship with Christ, and if such a relationship saves you from eternal separation from God, then even if the cancer should kill you, it is a severe mercy. Despite what a purely human perspective might suggest, cancer might be the best thing that ever could have happened to you.

If the impact and subsequent change should furthermore ripple through a family, an extended family, a social network, and a culture, then suddenly it seems different. In the midst of all of this pain, we see an incredible awakening to the person and work of Jesus in our extended family that 10 years ago was open hostility. The fact that God would have to drag us through this in order to open our eyes to him is a severe mercy. Although it sucks to get cancer it would suck far more to die apart from Christ. It all feels painfully real though. It makes me hate sin and wish it could all be accomplished a different way. I'm, of course, not the first one to express such a sentiment.

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A Millenium Prayer

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Photo courtesy of PrASanGaM

O Lord
two God-days
since you walked earth
fingertip dust on swirling galaxy arm.
billions, billions
rushing, rushing
tongues madly flapping
ears stopped with self
eyes closed to glory.
dare we ask?
mud-wipe eyes to clarity
unplug ears to rock cries
cease rattling bustle
melt hearts in shekinah blaze
do God-work in us.

by a friend of mine, Aaron T. Hicks

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The Other Side of the World

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Photo courtesy of james_michael_hill

Departing for Africa in about two weeks.

Song from Rich Mullins, "The Other Side of the World":

Well the other side of the world
Is not so far away as I thought that it was
As I thought that it was so far away
But the other side of the world
Is not so far away
And the distance just dissolves into the love
Into the love

And the New Jerusalem won't be as easy to build
As I hoped it would be
As I hoped it would be easy to build
But the New Jerusalem won't be so easy to build
There's many bellies to fill and many hearts to free
Got to set them free

But I see a people who've learned to walk in faith
With mercy in their hearts
And glory on their faces
And I can see the people
And I pray it won't be long
Until Your kingdom comes

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Tolerance Shmolerance

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"Respect—not tolerance—must be our goal if we would diminish prejudice in our time. For tolerance is often but a gentle disguise for prejudice: the tolerant often behave as self-appointed connoisseurs of weaknesses in others, or self-appointed protectors of those whom they deem to be their inferiors. Psychologically, there is a strong resemblance between the stridently “tolerant” and the prejudiced. For while the one may descend to attacking whole groups of men and the other may rise to a passionate defense of them, both are equally indiscriminate in their attack or defense; and neither has any concern whatsoever for individual character." - Selma G. Hirsch", U.S. social scientist ,The Fears Men Live By, ch. 9, Harper & Brothers (1955).

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Gaye, Film Star

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Photo courtesy of bullish1974
(Hint: The picture above is a joke. The pictures below are not.)

There are an amazing number of passages in the Bible devoted to prostitutes. Warnings against hiring them, Jesus healing them in a variety of ways, metaphors likening God's people to them, etc.

As one who works deeply with technology I am daily confronted with pornography in various forms. I dare say there is no new technology that comes about anymore that isn't tainted by hints of pornography just around the corner. YouTube, Second Life, BitTorrent, are all potential gateways to getting it. I find it's pervasiveness depressing and exploitative. It is a flimsy paper replica of what God has blessed me with in my marriage, but is still something that I have to daily resist. I choose to resist it because I think it is poison to real life.

Anyway as I was musing on this on the bus ride in this morning it occured to me the way the term "adult film star" has come into common parlance. And as I thought about the teachings and actions of Jesus and reflected on technology and pornography I also came to the realization that "adult film star" is a pleasant sounding euphemism for prositute, "a person, typically a woman, who engages in sexual activity for payment". When you frame pornography as prosititution and chasing after it as chasing after a prostitute, it brings the teachings of the Bible and modern life together in a somewhat stark way.

My son, pay attention to my wisdom, listen well to my words of insight, that you may maintain discretion and your lips may preserve knowledge. For the lips of an adult film star drip honey, and her speech is smoother than oil; but in the end she is bitter as gall, sharp as a double-edged sword. Her feet go down to death; her steps lead straight to the grave. She gives no thought to the way of life; her paths are crooked, but she knows it not. (paraphrased from Proverbs)

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Current Email Age


I am swamped by email. I have so much of it, that it is starting to become not very useful to people sending things to me. Honestly I think the alternative is to batch process stuff in meetings. Rather than emailing everyone everything, bring it to the meetings which we have anyway and present it, decide on it and act on it then.

To see how bad my personal problem is, I graphed the age of emails in my inbox. The histogram is on the left. I think what this suggests is that there are three types of emails. Quick questions which are answered in 1-2 days, slow questions which are answered in 16 days (or less) and things which I can't easily respond to by email and they therefore don't get answered for months.

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The graph makes me think that you're well beyond this, but:

Posted by: Sam Kaufman at May 22, 2007 10:29 AM

Orphans of God

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Photo courtesy of muzungu

by Mark Heard.

I will rise from my bed with a question again
As I work to inherit the restless wind
The view from my window is cold and obscene
I want to touch what my eyes haven't seen

But they have packaged our virtue in cellulose dreams
And sold us the remnants 'til our pockets are clean
Til our hopes fall 'round our feet
Like the dust and dead leaves
And we end up looking like what we believe

We are soot-covered urchins running wild and unshod
We will always be remembered as the orphans of God
They will dig up these ruins and make flutes of our bones
And blow a hymn to the memory of the orphans of God

Like bees in a bottle we are flying at fate
Beating our wings against the walls of this place
Unaware that the struggle is the blood of the proof
In choosing to believe the unbelievable truth

But they have captured our siblings and rendered them mute
They've disputed our lineage and poisoned our roots
We have bought from the brokers who have broken their oaths
And we're out on the streets with a lump in our throats

We are soot-covered urchins running wild and unshod
We will always be remembered as the orphans of God
They will dig up these ruins
And make flutes of our bones
And blow a hymn to the memory of the orphans of God

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It's a beautiful day


Sunrise in my office this morning

All of life is repentence:"Am I doing what I am doing for God's glory and the good of others or am i being driven by fears, need for approval, love of comfort and ease, need for control, hunger for acclaim and power, or the 'fear of man?' Am I looking at anyone with envy? Am I giving in to any of even the first motions of lust or gluttony? Am I spending my time on urgent things rather than important things because of these inordinate desires?"

U2, Beautiful Day:
"What you don't have you don't need it now
What you don't know you can feel it somehow
What you don't have you don't need it now
Don't need it now
Was a beautiful day"

"You are the salt of the earth." - Jesus

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The global warming creates a pretty haze. Having grown up watching the sun set over Lake MI, in all honesty, haze/clouds/global warming or some sort of combination, creates much more spectacular sunsets, than a bare horizon. It's a new one every night though. Very, very nice.

Posted by: Nate at April 16, 2007 4:38 AM

Smog makes beautiful L.A. sunsets also.

Posted by: DJP3 at April 16, 2007 11:21 AM

Home Prices

Three things about housing prices today.

First a video of housing prices since 1890 viewed as a ride on a roller coaster. Watch that here.

Second a review of the book that motivated the roller coaster video here. Here is an excerpt of that article:

"Other than those two periods, real home prices overall have been mostly flat or declining. Moreover, the overall increase, including the booms, is not very impressive -- 0.4 percent a year."

Finally the graphic from the end of the video is here. (click for better resolution)

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I didn't see the predatory lending depicted in this.

It would figure that with all the foreclosures due to people who shouldn't have qualified, or even applied for that matter, this ride will ease down a while.

When does the ride end?

Posted by: Nate at April 5, 2007 4:10 AM

I Seek Imbalance

Flickr Image
Photo courtesy of gsgeorge

From: The Hutch: I Seek Imbalance

"This world wants us to believe a lie: that giving of ourselves creates a void that worldly pleasures can refill. Are you buying it?"

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New Car Angst 2:The minivan circle is complete


Well as a follow up to this previous post, we bought a new minivan.

We looked at all the top rated minivans on Consumer Reports, Honda, Toyota and Kia/Hyundai (Sedona = Entourage now). We test drove them and checked out the prices and decided on the Toyota Sienna LE with option package #3 (although we ended up with option #4 for no extra cost). It seats 8 passengers, has dual power sliding doors, an aux input for an iPod, and stow-and go rear seats. No DVD player, no satellite navigation, no Lo-Jack ubiquitous garbage. We also got a 7 year/100,000 mile extended comprehensive warranty. Total cost out the door was $30,000. (Financed through USAA at 5.99%)

Some funny things:

  • The internet sales force and the showroom floor sales force are completely different. The internet sales team doesn't mess around because they assume that you have done your homework and know the bottom line prices. Key recommendation here: get price quotes from local dealers on line and try and get them to match each other long before you go to the showroom. Also get quotes for all the add-ons like extended warranties because once you are in the showroom you are at an information disadvantage in lots of ways.

  • The 2007 Honda Odyssey has this funny lazy susan thing under the floor than stores stuff in a rotating circle. All I could think of was drug smuggling and the Millenium Falcon when I saw this.

  • The showroom sales force will lie to you about everything and anything when you are test driving to avoid looking like they don't know the answer to something. Find the answers on your own online then check them on the physical car.

  • There is some confusion spray that is in the air in the dealer's showroom. If you don't know exactly what you want and how much you are going to spend the confusion spray will cause you to get completely flummoxed and buy something you did not want. Even though the finance guy (post-dealer interaction) had us completely convinced we needed other stuff, we said "no" on principle. When we got outside we couldn't believe that any of the stuff sounded attractive 5 minutes ago.

  • The dealer tried to sell us a $600.00 package of paint sealant and Scotch-guard which we declined and later found out was already on the car.

  • The dealer also tried to sell us VIN etching for the windows. We declined and then he gave it to us for free anyway.

  • The insurance from USAA for the Toyota was cheaper than the Honda which was cheaper than the Kia/Hyundai. That and the 8th seat was what really swayed us toward the Toyota.

Sandy is very happy about the new car, so I'm happy too. Here is a funny video clip which she wanted to share with everyone to celebrate.

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New Car Angst

Flickr Image
Photo courtesy of Curtis Perry

Our minivan is dying. We need at least one car in order to survive here in Orange County. So now I must buy a new car. It makes me sick to think that I'm about to drop $25,000 - $35,000 on a new minivan just so that I can survive around here. Given that I could buy an entire South African orphanage that would sustain 12-25 orphans indefinitely for $75,000. It literally makes my stomach get tied up in knots.

On the one hand how can I possibly justify spending this amount of money, but on the other hand what choice do I have? I spent about $4,000 last year in maintenance on the current car. Depreciation on a new Honda minivan runs about $2750 a year and total value of the car falls off linearly over time. So there isn't any point in even buying a cheaper used minivan. In the long run it will be cheaper for me to buy this hypothetical new car.

How can this be okay? This is horribly wrong. I am trapped in a situation I hate and I can get out of it. It makes me crazy and I have no choice. I have to participate in this mind-numbing march of consumption or I can't get my kids to the doctor, I can't get to church, I can't get to a grocery store that sells gel-free diapers.

There is a great bumper sticker that says, "If you aren't outraged you aren't paying attention". I'm feeling that today.

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2 things:
- I'd be shocked if the value of the new car DOESN'T depreciate exponentially.

- Every 1 American automaker-employee, is supporting 3 retirees. Yeah unions! So why does that make foreign autos so flippin' expensive? I know a relative of mine who purchased a new minivan in Mississippi, and then drove it home to Norther VA. It turned out to be a lot cheaper. Try here:

Posted by: Nate at January 25, 2007 4:14 AM

The value doesn't depreciate exponentially. That's why it's actually better to buy one new. Here is the amount of value that a Honda Odyssey LX loses every year. (This assumes that all Hondas in the last 7 years are equivalent because the numbers all come from Kelly Blue Book a few days ago):

  • 2007 : starting price: $25452
  • 2006: -$2539 (average over two years)
  • 2005: -$2539 (average over two years)
  • 2004: -$2435
  • 2003: -$2125
  • 2002: -$2230
  • 2001: -$1550
  • 2000: -$1865
  • 2000: ending price: $10170
Posted by: DJP3 at January 25, 2007 9:23 AM

I'm thinking more resell value. The instant it leaves the lot, it becomes worth $22913. I would still argue that the best buy is a 1-2 year old.

Posted by: Nate at January 25, 2007 10:38 AM

But by buying a new car you get a year that is covered by warranty and you know exactly what you are buying. Less risk than buying a used car with uncertain wear and repair history. The loss that you see driving it off the lot is spread over that entire first year though, presuming you keep it a year.

Posted by: DJP3 at January 25, 2007 11:31 AM

I'm still unconvinced. We've put less than $1000 in both our cars combined over the last 2 years. And the Jetta in particular is crap. Even my 12 year old Bonneville (RIP) was less expensive than your depreciation.

Posted by: Nate at January 29, 2007 4:15 AM

The car situation here is just a mess. I can't find a mechanic who can convince me they know how to fix a car even though there are a million mechanics around. The service station that replaced my transmission botched it. The place I took the current car to to check the "Check Engine" light had never seen that code before and were looking it up in a book. Then they started guessing on how you would go about fixing it. They hardly inspired confidence. Then I've got the family-reliability-thing going on. I'm sick of wondering what is dripping out of the bottom of my car and having S. tell me about the new noises she heard today. If I keep bleeding money at the current rate in ten years the used car market is going to cost me between $25,000 and $60,000. Why deal with that rather than a new car for the same price?

Posted by: DJP3 at January 29, 2007 2:44 PM

Radio Channels

Flickr Image
Photo courtesy of _mpd_

As I was trolling the radio dials this morning I thought about how interesting it would be if every song had it's own radio station. That would be the extreme of a genre-based broadcast: a genre which is so specific that only one song fits the description.

It would be annoying because you would most likely tune in, in the middle of the song. But it would be cool because you could always find a station that was playing something decent.

It would change the notion of a playlist from one which plays content to one which switches channels at timed intervals.

I wonder if there is a way to make the bandwidth support playing every song ever recorded?

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Oh, the dentist

Flickr Image
Photo courtesy of nyominx

You know, when I was young, I used to be confused about the cultural message that told me to not like going to the dentist. Honestly, I didn't understand why everyone disliked it so much. The people were friendly, the atmosphere was decent considering the medicine that was being performed there, you got out of school and you got a bouncy ball at the end of an appointment.

Today, I have decided that I hate going to the dentist. I therefore must have crossed some mythical boundary into adulthood as I have adopted the cultural prejudice with authenticity. I am surprised at why I hate going though.

I hate being told every-time that I go in that I have really white teeth and that if I had teeth whitening then I could have "celebrity white teeth." News flash: I don't care about white teeth. I'm sorry if your entire life is spent splitting hairs about the shades of tooth white on 5-8 people a day. I just don't care.

I hate being confronted with some new technology at every appointment the end result of which is to inform me that I must come in more often, spend more money, while waif-like hygienists insert long needles filled with strange candy-flavored concoctions deep into my gums. Today it was the "fluorescing laser." Apparently this device is designed to identify decay. Decay that we never could see before. Decay that hasn't caused any problems yet. Decay which must be addressed with four fillings because the stupid new technology beeps when it gets waved over my molars.

I hate the dentist because it's like going to a church with no theology. You sit down and for an hour are read the riot-act by a perky feminine character who has perfected the art of delivering guilt. Guilt about things which I have no control, but about which I can also find no grounds for denial. The stupid micro-camera is showing the brown spot to me on an LCD monitor inches from my dry and cracking lips. I *already* floss, I already brush after every meal, I already use the mouthwash at night and go to the dentist every 6 months and cross over to the other side of the street when I see salt water taffy. So great, a pile of guilt. No redemption. No solution. Just an angry Greek god and a future of suffering through bad feelings because the prior "new" technology, the stupid probe, reads a "4" when they stab me. Oh and leave your offering with Janet on the way out.

So I'm done at the dentist for now. I claimed that I just got over a really bad cold and that's why my #10 lingual was hemorrhaging. I claimed that I was going to have a baby in the next month and that's why I can't schedule those fillings right now. I smiled warmly and wished everyone a Merry Christmas as I walked out the door. They just looked back sadly at the tooth-sinner who refused to acknowledge the link between poor dental hygiene and heart-attacks.

Now I have six more months of oral hedonism until the next Dental-Christmas or Dental-Easter when I return to the pews in shame ready to deflect the latest divining rod for decay, an instrument which we really know is revealing that my soul is as off-white as my teeth.

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We have good dentists here: visits every 6 months, concerned only with tooth and gum health, not image (sorry SoCal). Guilt only applied if necessary. No R&D equipment- just the brush and drill. All in all, not a bad experience, but I still dislike the visits. My only joys are: No cavities, and swiping extra tubes of toothpaste when the receptionist is not looking.

Posted by: Nate at December 26, 2006 4:06 AM

Getting Things Done meets 43 folders


I am a "Getting Things Done" devotee. It's a personal productivity system that is marketed and taught by David Allen.

Merlin Mann, a commentator about personal productivity on the web site 43 folders, did an interview with him about GTD. The result is called "Productive Talk" and it was a good little pep talk to keep me going with GTD. I recommend listening to it.

Get it here.

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Talking Points: Local Conversations and Culture

Photo courtesy of eye2eye

I've been thinking about what topics of conversation seem to dominate all the social interactions that I undertake. I realized that many of them were location specific. For example:

  • Seattle, WA: Conversations frequently mentioned the rain.
  • Irvine,CA : Conversations always get around to real estate prices.
  • Washington, D.C. : National politics because they are also local politics.

Others report:

  • Annapolis, MD: Boats and the Army-Navy football game (according to Luke)
  • Amherst, MA: Yard machines: leaf blowers, snow throwers, riding mowers, and community supported agriculture.

Maybe not the most incredible thing ever observed but very real when you are at these places. What are the periennal topics where you live?

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Columbus, Ohio: Anything about Buckeyes. Before the season... what high school prospects there are. TV shows are broken into for live views of the first training session of the season. There is a brief respite in October when discussion turns to how stupid (or sensible) it is to have Halloween on a day other than Oct. 31st. Why do they do it? Because of the Buckeyes.


Posted by: haasebert at December 1, 2006 7:13 PM

My dreams are realized


The Beam Machine from November 2004

In November 2004 I wrote about a toy that I wanted called "The Beam Machine". It was basically a spy-style laser trip wire system that you could install in your yard/home to enhance games of capture the flag or tag or whatever. It appears that someone read my blog and created the toy - because certainly no one else could have come up with the idea on their own.

laser trip wire

Sold at HearthSong, where you can buy toys that you feel good about giving - like the Laser Trip Wire -MUHAHAHAHAH

Thanks Charles!

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I got my friend this for Christmas two years ago. Recently he left for his Mission in Mexico and I don't think he brought it. He does think he's Jack Bauer though. Your office is really well set up for one.

Posted by: Growly-Pants at April 23, 2007 6:53 PM

Totally boring life insurance observation

bored parents
This isn't me.
Photo courtesy of willie_901

I just went through a life insurance reevaluation with Excel, some online tools and a rep at USAA, my financial services company (which I highly recommend - they rock).

One interesting thing I discovered is that even if I wasn't going to up my coverage, which I'm doing in response to a new baby and living in Southen California, I should have "refinanced" my coverage anyway.

About a year ago insurance companies changed their actuarial forecasts for life expectancies. People are living longer, so people are dying later. So the cost of term life insurance has gone down. Policies taken out before the change don't typically change their rates. New policies can be bought that cover you starting immediately (and hence covering you for longer than previous policies started earlier) for less, given the same coverage level and no changes in health, at least in my age bracket.

From the totally boring, but useful files

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coffee messiah
Coffee Messiah in Capitol Hill, Seattle
Photo courtesy of furcafe

One of life's great questions:

Do I have a headache because I've had too much caffeine or because I haven't had enough caffeine?

And for the record, it will take 151.57 shots of Espresso to kill me.

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Sharing Wi-Fi : La Fonera


I have had very poor success trying to share my Wi-Fi connection with my neighbors. The few conversations I have had about it with neighbors end with suspicious glances and fears about terrorists and pornography. Yet none of them seem to think twice about paying $60.00 a month for a connection they use, maybe, um... one hour a day.

I think it's tragic because it is another indicator of the breakdown in community that is happening broadly in the U.S. I live less than 20 feet away from a guy I know absolutely nothing about (at least nothing that I can't learn from his cars).

The one family that I was successfully sharing Wi-Fi with just recently quit because they got service bundled into their cable bill for about the cost of what he was paying to share my connection. That's understandable, but still too bad.

Now, a great potential solution has entered the field, "La Fonera". It is a wi-fi sharing community in which you share your home connection in exchange for getting to use other people's connections. What a great idea. Plus on top of that they will sell you a cheap AP ($15.00) that prioritizes your traffic when you are at home. There are some other options that let you try and make money off your access point as well.

I signed up and am going to give it a shot.

A nice summary of the service is here

The actual website is here.

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Cool concept, although I don't like the digital-commune vibe.

Posted by: Nate at October 4, 2006 4:20 AM

The thing about DisneyLand...


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Isn't this some sort of invasion of my privacy? My sister-in-law is plastered all over the internets. I have a major problem with this.

Posted by: Nate at October 3, 2006 3:52 AM

Eden, Evolution, Satan, Snakes

Photo Courtesy of km_d7d aka ronin

"An evolutionary arms race between early snakes and mammals triggered the development of improved vision and large brains in primates, a radical new theory suggests."

File this under "Heretical", but I can't help but think that there is something deep going on when you juxtapose the role that Satan as a snake had in the account of creation and the theory that is suggested by Dr. Isbell at UC Davis (see - Fear of Snakes May Have Driven Pre-Human Evolution - Evolution and Paleontology) that snakes caused mammals brains to change.

In the account of creation in the Bible, Satan as a snake was instrumental in the fall of man. An event which fundamentally changed the nature of humanity forever, both physically (because people immediately started thinking differently) and spiritually (because people were suddenly under the curse of the law)

No doubt I don't understand Genesis accurately and no doubt the anthropologist doesn't understand evolution accurately, but I love it when the two start to have similar refrains. It reinforces my faith in the Bible and gives me hope that science isn't steering us entirely wrong.

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Not entirely wrong, just mostly wrong?

Posted by: Nate at September 12, 2006 4:19 AM

It is just fascinating to me that two accounts from such widely diverging foundations should come up with so much in common.

Posted by: DJP3 at September 12, 2006 9:13 AM

Terrorism Paradox

Photo courtesy of splorp

From Ambiguous:

"I think someone should try to blow up a plane with a piece of ID, just to watch the TSA's mind implode.

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I'd rather see it done with Tom's MI1 red gum/green gum.

Posted by: Nate at September 5, 2006 9:40 AM

The funny thing, though, is that if the IDs were explosive and the TSA responded the same way they did with the liquids, then the TSA would immediately ban all ID's - which would mess things up quite a bit at security. It just points out how banning everything that can be made to explode isn't a real solution to security.

Posted by: DJP3 at September 5, 2006 9:45 AM

No, but it's a necessary element. I'm all for profiling a la Ben Gurion.

Posted by: Nate at September 6, 2006 5:56 AM

Well if 99% of the terrorists are young Arab men and young white men (TImothy McVeigh), it does seem silly to search grandma in the name of non-discrimination. After all we are explicitly trying to discriminate against terrorists.

Posted by: DJP3 at September 6, 2006 9:37 AM

My grandmom always gets searched. It happens EVERY single time. She's like 87 years old and carries 1 tiny purse on the airplane and I don't think she's got coke condoms up her butt.

Posted by: Growly-Pants at April 23, 2007 7:51 PM

Christian Hedonism Zen

gourmet pizza
Photo courtesy of Abstract Gourmet

From: We Want You to Be a Christian Hedonist by John Piper

"As Christian Hedonists we know that everyone longs for happiness. And we will never tell them to deny or repress that desire. It is never a problem to want to be satisfied. The problem is being satisfied too easily. We believe that everyone who longs for satisfaction should no longer seek it from money or power or lust, but should come glut their soul-hunger on the grace of God."

From Ecclesiastes 6:1-8 aka the Bible:

I have seen another evil under the sun, and it weighs heavily on men: God gives a man wealth, possessions and honor, so that he lacks nothing his heart desires, but God does not enable him to enjoy them, and a stranger enjoys them instead. This is meaningless, a grievous evil.

A man may have a hundred children and live many years; yet no matter how long he lives, if he cannot enjoy his prosperity and does not receive proper burial, I say that a stillborn child is better off than he. It comes without meaning, it departs in darkness, and in darkness its name is shrouded. Though it never saw the sun or knew anything, it has more rest than does that man- even if he lives a thousand years twice over but fails to enjoy his prosperity. Do not all go to the same place?

All man's efforts are for his mouth,
yet his appetite is never satisfied.

What advantage has a wise man
over a fool?
What does a poor man gain
by knowing how to conduct himself before others?

And finally from my musician/song-writer/etc. friend Mike Wilkerson, the following song perfored by The Parsons: Meaningless

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Housing market

small house
Photo courtesy of [2]rokbot[2]y

A never-ending source of conversation in Orange County is the current [insane] state of the real estate market. It has clearly been cooling off, but what seemed like an inevitable continued rise in real estate value has a risk which many didn't consider. That would be the cost of the mortgage payments when the market changes.

This article ('Exotic' mortgages seen losing their allure - Real Estate - talks about what happens when many over-leveraged people have to face the music.

"Now these cheap mortgages that fueled the real-estate boom are beginning to hurt the homeowners they once helped. Higher interest rates and the end of honeymoon periods for too-good-to-be-true teaser rates are increasingly causing payment shock for borrowers.

'Nationwide, approximately $400 billion of [home-purchase adjustable-rate mortgages] are scheduled to reset at some point in 2006,' said Frank Nothaft, chief economist with Freddie Mac in McLean, Va. 'A significant number of homeowners will face some adjustments.' In fact, the ARMs with scheduled payment increases this year work out to about 5 percent of all single-family debt outstanding in the country now, he said."

I take a little bit of selfish-evil glee in this because when we moved to the O.C. I had a real estate agent trying to convince me that if I wanted to buy a house that this was what I had to do. I told him it was insane and he gave a little head shake and a disparaging you-just-don't-understand look.

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Just talked to a realtor yesterday concerning what he claims are "dropping prices". I joked that that meant the owners only lowered their $550k price to $500k. He said, no, not that much of a drop.

Posted by: Nate at September 5, 2006 4:50 AM

New Airplane Ticketing Models

Photo courtesy of caribb

One of my former professors, Oren Etzioni, who was briefly my advisor, just launched Farecast. This website uses machine learning to predict whether or not an airplane ticket price is going to go up or go down in the future. If it is probably going to go up, then the site recommends buying now. If it is probably going to go down, then the site recommends waiting to buy.

This is such a compelling business model because of the fundamental problem of airline ticket pricing. No one understands how to optimize the price they pay for a ticket. I'm not even 100% sure that anyone actually understands how the ticket pricing scheme works, including the airlines. It involves evaluation of passenger demand and evaluation of competitive pricing strategies.

Some airlines, like RyanAir, are experimenting with different pricing schemes. Flat rates are obviously hugely popular with passengers because it allows a passenger to plan and comparison shop and not be put under pressure that a ticket price is going to change. On the other hand airlines want to differentiate the prices that they offer to different customers. They want to charge people who are less sensitive to ticket price more, but not risk flying an empty airplane.

The opaque ticket pricing scheme coupled with security is putting pressure on the airlines to change the way they do business. I have two ideas which I will describe over the next few days.

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I wonder if Farecast will, by changing the timing of purchases and hence the demand, create a new feedback loop in the pricing scheme. Is it smart enough to predict its own effect on ticket prices?

Hmm... I wonder when Stockcast will be available.


Posted by: haasebert at September 27, 2006 8:33 PM

The feedback loop should only affect Farecast if the airlines heavily respond to demand as observed through ticket sales. If the primary reason why airline ticket prices change is some other unrelated factor, weather, competition, etc. I think they might enjoy a run of success.

Posted by: DJP3 at September 28, 2006 7:40 AM

Piper on the Academy

Photo courtesy of Joe Thorn

"The task of all Christian scholarship—not just biblical studies—is to study reality as a manifestation of God's glory, to speak and write about it with accuracy, and to savor the beauty of God in it. It is a massive abdication of scholarship that so many Christians do academic work with so little reference to God."
(John Piper, The Pleasures of God, p. 298)

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Airport Security

bathroom products
Photo courtesy of steveharris

I just got back from traveling across the U.S. the day after the would-be terrorists with their gel and liquids tried to bring their explosives onto the plane. Furthermore my flight was from LAX to Logan in Boston, two of the most targeted airport locations. I have some observations about air travel now:

  • Even though gels and liquids are clearly prohibited on planes, there is no one actually checking to see that it is happening. I saw lots of people bring liquids on board the plane while casting a sideways glance at the trash cans set up for voluntary collection of contraband. No one is prepared to search for this stuff.
  • The carry-on space is nearly empty now. All those people who were trying to get away without checking a bag, can't anymore (according to the rules anyway). On my packed flight home, I was the only one with a carry-on in my bin.
  • The BodyShop and all those stores that sell liquor in the airports are hurting. Good luck making a profit on bottles of liquor and massage oil when your customers can't take them out of the store.

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The Cost of Starbucks

A Vampire Smokestack, a personal house favorite.

Figure out how much your commercial coffee habit is costing you here. Over 10 years I would waste $18,123.59. But I make my own in a machine that cost me $199.00. I'm so virtuous.

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Welcome to our Fairy Overlords

mushroom yellow mushroom

I have no idea what in the world was going on in my office over the weekend, but when I showed up this morning there was a freaky-DisneyLand-invades-where-are-the-fairies mushroom growing in my *cactus* pot. Now typically I think of cacti as dry and mushrooms as wet, so I don't know what in the world this is all about. Furthermore, I didn't water anything on Friday. A picture of the primary mushroom is above, although there are siblings growing toward the back of the pot. Oooo - I said pot. Pot and mushrooms in the same blog entry. There goes my google ad account keyword index.

The only logical explanation is that a gang of malicious fairies is holding my computing resources hostage. They are causing my programs to not compile and my network connections to bog down. Because they are invisible 99% of the time, they had to communicate thier presence by planting Play-doh colored yellow mushrooms in my office.

Fortunately now that I understand that fairies are running rampant on campus it explains a lot of things. So, I for one, welcome our new fairy overlords.

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I'm feeling a little cyncial this morning. It's a good question - "What would Jesus do?" Courtesy of the LA Weekly.

What Would Jesus Do? An animated short By MR. FISH

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Sun's pay-as-you-go CPU plan


Well it's a new day and there's another mind-blowing development. Sun has deployed a pay as you go computer. For $1 per hour per CPU you can run anything you want on Sun's CPU farm.

So in contrast to Amazon's S3 system which I mentioned a day or two ago, Sun isn't offering "pure" CPU cycles as their business. That would be *so* much cooler. Instead they allow you to upload your program, and whatever data it needs to chew on. Then they run your program, keep track of the usage and let you store the results.

This appears to be geared toward the render-farm business - making frames for digital movies - or protein folding or other CPU intensive tasks. It doesn't seem to be the place to go to run your website or word processor.

Both of these developments are interesting because they seem to be leading toward a virtual machine world. This would allow you to have a computer desktop somewhere out there on the Internet. It would be hosted on a combination of Amazon's servers for your hard drive, and Sun's servers for your CPU cycles and some sort of input/output/network device that you carry. Such a device only needs minimal power and could probably run a few weeks between recharging. I bet this is what Google is working toward. That would explain their purchase of dark fiber, for the connectivity, and the development of an online purchase system, an online storage system (GBase), and online applications (GMail, Writely, etc.). Amazon and Sun seem to have beat them in this battle, but Google is still better positioned to win the war.

More broadly, if you compare computing to driving, everyone right now owns their own car. That car is a desktop or laptop. What Amazon and Sun are doing ( and I suspect Google ) is building the public transportation equivalent of computing. A bus won't take you anywhere you want to go anytime you want to go there. Amazon/Sun aren't right for every storage and computing task that you might have. But public transportation is a lot cheaper and more efficient when it is going where you want to go.

(Musings) Permanent Link made 5:00 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)


You mentioned an Internet? And were you referring to public transportation in a large city other than DC?

Posted by: Nate at March 28, 2006 4:22 AM

Amazon S3

time lapse photo
Photo courtesy of pbo31

Amazon has launched S3. This is a pay-as-you go internet-based storage system for digital files. This changes everything and I can't get my head around it. I spend so much time trying to figure out how to back up my data, where to host it, how to get more storage and where to put web pages, and now I have to factor this into the equation. Everything is moving so fast. Wheez!

Here are the key points I can get from it. First, while this is unlimited pay-as-you-go storage it isn't hosting. Meaning, Amazon is selling storage, not CPU cycles. In fact, they aren't selling any CPU cycles to go along with it that aren't required for storage. I can't run any arbitrary programs from the Amazon servers. So that means that while I can store files there, it isn't easy to run a blog from S3. Conceptually, blogging software can be rewritten to leverage storage at S3, but you still need a place that is accessible via the web that will burn cycles for you. Eventually lots of programs will be probably add the capability to read and write from services like S3. But for now it is really just a place to dump data that you know you want saved somewhere. Things like backups work well with S3. So do big hosted files, like movies and genome databases. But lots of little files that need programmatic support to manage, like a blog, do not work well with S3.

S3 supports Bittorrents - this will eventually be a big deal because it means that P2P is going mainstream. This is critical for scalability and to eliminate spikes in bandwidth usage. That's cool.

Also cool is the fact that you can encrypt data and put it on Amazon's servers. It's like a storage rental unit. You rent it, you keep the key, no one knows what you are doing there.

It also suggests an alternate Internet. If Amazon's service is valuable and everyone ends up using it, then the Internet will effectively all live on S3's servers. I think this is what Google is trying to do. Amazon seems to have beat them to the punch here. If there are just a few big players who are hosting the Internet because it is cheaper, more reliable and faster to do that then the landscape of the Internet will be changing soon.

These are mind-blowing times.

I wonder if anyone has any plans to sell CPU cycles the way that Amazon is selling storage? That would be something like "grid-computing" I guess. It seems that companies have tried that in the past and failed. Didn't IBM try to pull that off under the name of "adaptive architecture" or something.

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burning sign
Burning sign photo courtesy of Picture Phil

I've spotted a new word in some of my readings, "Islamophobia" . The word was coined as a result of Muslim outrage over a cartoon published in a Danish newspaper recently. Apparently the cartoon was offensive to a bunch of Muslims - I haven't seen it. The response has varied from thoughtful to the ever-present Muslim-in-the-street-screaming-with-a-burning-flag images which dominate Middle East news coverage.

The thoughtful responses have been the ones using "Islamophobia," apparently the fear of Islam. Ironically it sounds like Muslims are taking a page out of the homosexual playbook whose proponents coined "homophobia."

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Southern California Language and Culture

Light Bulb photo courtesy of Poppyseed Bandits

Overheard in Southern California the birthplace of many a trend:

"Yea, that's the first time we've had a kickback"

Translation: That's the first time we've had a party.

"Yo, Dog! Cool scooter. Keep it real."

My best guess to the translation: cool scooter

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Robert Schuller and the Crystal Cathedral

Crystal Cathedral photo courtesy of ttrier

One of the many reality bending experiences that go on in Southern California is the Sunday program at the Crystal Cathedral. This is Robert Schuller's church. It is widely viewed with disdain from the evangelical Christian community. I have driven by it on the way to DisneyLand because they are separated by about 3 miles. Honestly I've never been there, but all of the press that I've seen has suggested its a huge production with television involved. The building itself reminds me of a Mormon temple. Neither of these things appeal to me.

So it was with some surprise that I read an article by my former pastor speaking quite highly of Dr. Schuller. I'm glad I read this early on in my Southern California adventure (technically my third such adventure). It will allow me to speak more intelligently about such an influential local institution.

From: Lunch with the Schullers at the Crystal Cathedral | Resurgence

"This is the final week of Dr. Robert H. Schuller's tenure as senior pastor of the Crystal Cathedral in Southern California. He founded the church some fifty years ago and is handing the leadership of both his church and the "Hour of Power" television program, which he has led since 1970, to his son. Throughout his ministry, Dr. Schuller has been a controversial leader, lauded by some for pioneering cutting-edge ministry, and loathed by others for promoting over-the-edge doctrine..."

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Google Prediction for 2006: Google-Real

Mary on a Billboard
Photo courtesy of ratterrell

If you aren't familiar with the way the AdSense/AdWords program works at Google, it goes something like this: If you are someone with something to advertise you can set up an account that will place your ad on a search results page. You can specify which search results page you want your ad to show up on by specifying the keywords of the search query. So if you sell fruit, you can have Google put your ad up on the search results page when someone searches for "oranges". Google will charge an advertiser for this placement. But, clever people that Google are, they don't fix the price. The price is set in an auction that basically causes more profitable words to cost more. A very expensive word to advertise next to is "sex". Google will charge you over $1.00 everytime someone clicks on your ad advertised next to a search that includes "sex." In the course of a single day, (as of right now) it will cost you over $48,000 to place such an advertisement. (Meaning that 48,000 people will click on your ad) Google has some tools to help prevent you from spending more than you want and more than you plan, as you would expect, but this is the basic idea.

Another way that Google advertises is when people, like me, allow Google to put an ad on their site. (See the ad box on the right). In this case, the auction for advertisers is similar, but rather than placing ads based on words in a search query, ads are placed based on the words used on the web page. But anytime someone clicks on the ad on my site, I also get a portion of the revenue as a benefit for placing the ad on my site. So far the revenue ($1.00/month) is far less than the amount that I pay my hosting company to host this site ($9.00/month).

Anyway, so now to the point of my prediction. I predict that in 2006 Google will roll out a new type of ad medium. They will begin to buy digital billboards on streets, in grocery stores etc. Then they will begin to place the ads that usually go on web-sites on to these billboards. But because now, there are no keywords involved and no clicks involved, how will they charge their advertisers and how will they determine the type of content to put on the digital displays? This is the heart of my prediction. They will decide what is relevant to the digital display by using the results of Google Local to flavor the display. So if someone previously wanted to put an ad on webpages that talk about pinatas, now their ad will run on displays that are near stores that carry pinatas. If an advertiser wanted to advertise next to the word "orange", now their ad will show up in grocery stores, and markets that carry oranges.

The second part of my prediction relates to how Google will deal with not having "clicks" to evaluate the effectiveness of ads. I predict that initially the price of showing an ad on a Google-Real display will be related to sensors in the vicinity of the display. So, for example, it will cost more to display an ad on a street when the traffic on the street is high. It will cost more to display an ad at a grocery store checkout when the check out lane is very busy. It will cost more to display an ad on the back of an airplane seat when the seat that views it is full, less when it is empty, but the seat next to it is full and even less when the entire row is empty and only people going to the bathroom on the airplane might catch a glimpse of it. This is a subtle revolutionary change, because it currently costs a lot to advertise on billboards on busy streets, but I predict Google will allow the price to vary based on the real-time traffic information. Is there a big car accident just after the billboard? Then the cost of advertising will shoot up as sensors notice traffic is at a standstill.

Eventually I believe that Google will roll out a click mechanism that will allow you to "click" on a Google-Real ad with a cell-phone camera. The cell-phone camera will decode a watermark in the ad, will send the result to Google, Google will tally the "click", charge the advertiser, and send the person with the phone the information they requested - on their phone of course.

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The UW Q Center

qcenter logo

The University of Washington recently opened a resource center for gay and lesbian students called the "Q-Center". Only it's not just for gay and lesbian students. It's for gay, lesbian, queer, bisexual, transgender, two-spirit, intersex, questioning, same-gender-loving and allied people. When I write this I feel like I'm telling a joke, but I'm not, this is really who the center is targetted to.

I have lost my ability to relate to this community. 13 years ago it was about gay and lesbian folk - okay I understand that perspective. Then 11 years ago it was about gay, lesbian, and bisexual folk - mmm, okay, I guess I get that. 9 years ago transexuals were added to the mix - okay starting to not understand anymore. Then, in the last 9 years people started to express much more varied sexualities - many of which I can no longer relate to. But, whatever, I also don't feel like I have to relate to everyone anymore.

Nonetheless, it seems like this community is now defined as people who resist claiming a sexual label, but feel as if they would be in the minority if they did take a label and as a result advocate not labelling any person according to their sexuality. This seems like a far too complex statement to communicate to people who are making life hard for glqbttiqsa (still not joking) people. My outsider perspective is that they would be far better served arguing for personal freedom and leaving it at that.

(Musings) Permanent Link made 9:20 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)


Stuff that I want if I ever get a job

Photo by avmeier

If I ever get a job as a professor I want the following things:

  • A tablet PC and a laptop to run Classroom Presenter, a better version of PowerPoint for teaching. It allows you to roam around the classroom and takes notes on a tablet PC that show up on the overhead copy of the slides that you are presenting.
  • Somesort of digital whiteboard for recording whiteboard drawings

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A Kid's Toy that I Want: The BeamMachine

My vision of the BeamMachine

I read an article today about a system called VEIL. This is a system that transmits information via a side-channel on TV broadcasts so that television can be more interactive. It does this by imperceptible changes in the brightness of the screen that a computer vision system can pick up.

The obvious and spoken critique of this system was that it provides an incentive for people to watch more television. That's great for the corporations, but it's not so good for the kids and adults who need to be living life, not watching a fake one unfold before them. One way this is going to be used is in an attempt to grab viewers back from video games to television by merging the two.

So here's my idea instead. I want to merge video games and real-life. I want a toy that has two components, one which generates an invisible infra-red beam and the other which looks for it. When the beam is broken an alarm goes off on the receiving box. The alarm can have all kinds of sounds and or visual components. This would be a really fun toy to take outside and play capture the flag with or something. You could hide it in a critical spot so that you knew when someone was making a dash for the flag through a particular route. It would add a new dynamic to hide-and-seek or any kind of treasure hunt.

(Musings) Permanent Link made 5:18 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)


Brilliant article on Bin Laden's tactics

Megachurch on Slate
Image from Slate from Lakewood Church

A brilliant article on the escalating violence that the United States finds itself in. It argues that Bin Laden will attempt to broaden the war on terror to bankrupt the U.S. and the best way to do that is to attack a Mid-west mega-church.

Read it here

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The Decline of the Corporate Brand by Wired

My Brand

"If a company must constantly deliver new value to its loyal customers just to keep them, those customers aren't loyal at all. Which means, save for a few perennials like Coke, brands have little or no value independent of what a company actually does. " Article

Hurray substance is triumphing over image!

(Musings) Permanent Link made 9:44 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)


Advice to the Democrats


I have some advice for the Democrats next election day

  1. Quit believing things like, "The rest of the country is dumb and that's why they chose Bush" and "I'm liberal because I'm smart" Once you quit believing those things, quit saying it. That is entirely alienating to anyone who is trying to figure out the issues and vote responsibly. I heard my liberal friends espousing this and continuing to espouse this position throughout this election. It was so arrogant as to be distracting from the real decision.
  2. Quit turning this into a religious culture war and learn your theology. The Republican platform is far from the Platform-that-Jesus-Would-Choose (PJWC). But there are Republicans who know their Bible and know that Evangelical Christian leaders are not swayed by arguments that boil down to "It makes me feel bad." Instead get to know Jesus. Then use Jesus' language (or at least the translator's language) to show a different side of Jesus. Universal health care, worker's rights, less-war-more-outreach, compassion for homosexuals. Democrats could be the moral leaders, but unfortunately they won't give up their hatred of Jesus.
  3. Cross-reference this blog as an example of what is dividing the country as much as "religious fundamentalism".
  4. For the record, I voted for Nader, not Bush, I love Jesus and I am scared of both Jerry Falwell and Donald Rumsfield.

(Musings) Permanent Link made 6:46 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)


Can God co-exist with evolution? : small fact


My opinion on evolution vis-a-vis creationism, or more correctly, the inerrancy of the Bible is complicated. For the most part a creationist would call me an evolutionist and an atheistic evolutionist would call me a "fundamentalist creationist". In point of fact I think it's interesting to note that God could create life through a process like evolution which appears to be completely random. The key fact is that it only "appears" to be random. In the same way that I can write a deterministic computer program which will generate random numbers that will pass any statistical test of randomness you can devise, God could easily create a world through a process which appears random to our mathematical tools. The appearance of randomness isn't sufficient to eliminate the intrusive hand of God from our world. Just because a coin flip comes up heads says nothing about why it should come up heads now, or what the implications of the coin toss might be as a result of it being heads this particular time.

(Musings) Permanent Link made 10:38 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)


Alright, I have hear this "smart creationism" pitch several times, and I am just not buying it. Creationism is a flawed concept, the whole garden of eden thing, god shaking his fist from some metaphysical plane. All bullplop in my opinion. Read stephen hawkings The universe in a nutshell, research physics and calculus. Biology and all those things, the evidence for spontaneous creation is out there, the collision of some small particles of nothingness, creating everything. It really did happen that way, god, non-existant. Just my insight, and yeah I am an atheist and yeah, I think you are a traditional creationist. So you were right in some aspects, but I really think this smart creationism was just a way for traditional creationists to cover their asses with the overwhelming evidence of evolution.

Posted by: Danny at June 13, 2005 5:56 PM

How can something which doesn't exist collide with anything?

Posted by: DJP3 at June 16, 2005 11:51 AM

i think what u said is very true and right. random to us and is not random at all to God. it only appears that way, but God has a reason and a purpose for everything that He does. all things are not for us to understand. they are here for us to learn simply that. we cannot know all because that would put us in the same position as God and then there would be no God at all. i do not believe that He keeps these things from us so that we remain inferior to Him, but to show us His power and how great He truly is because He is the all-knowing God that He is and He wants us to realize that and accept it for what it is and not question it.

Posted by: nicole at July 21, 2005 1:39 AM


Photo by somebonnie

Q: How many kids with ADD does it take to screw in a lightbulb?


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Messing up the databases


After realizing that by contributing money both to Campus Crusade for Christ and Amnesty International I had successfully managed to destroy the neat little demographic buckets that some data miner was trying to stuff me into, I have come across my next trick. For all subsequent flights I am going to choose a different "special" meal. First I will choose a Kosher meal. Then when the department of Homeland Security sniffs me I will be 90% likely to be Jewish. Then I will eat a Hindu meal and I will be some bizarre Kaballa thing. Then I will eat a Muslim meal and be a terrorist who wants to kill 90% of myself. Then I will eat a Vegetarian meal and be an anarcho-socialist communist who hates Starbuck's. (For the record I thank God for Starbuck$ when I am not in Seattle, when I am in Seattle I curse their bourgeois approach to coffee). Finally I will eat special low sodium diets so that I will be over 50 in the magic database and will get applications for AARP in the mail.

There is no such thing as privacy anymore. The only safe harbor for those concerned is to hide in the noise - break the models that successfully bucket all the other people. Start dirtying the databases entries of your information now, or you will be pigeon-holed when it matters.

(Musings) Permanent Link made 2:19 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)


Conspiracy theorists unite! I've been fed up with the Starbucks oppression for quite a while.

Posted by: Nate at November 10, 2004 11:47 AM

I need to vent against the aformentioned Starbucks tyranny. Having just moved, literally just around the corner, I am slowly departing from my previously held belief that going to Starbucks is a personal decision. There seems to be a strange force eminating from the counter at Starbucks, drawing to it, unsuspecting owners and their depleted wallets. It has the power to disengage rational thought processes that might sway a coffee drinker to do the unthinkable, and make a cup of coffee IN THEIR OWN KITCHEN! This unfortunate law does not extend just to heated beverages, but to pastries and other confections as well. This latter iteration has recently aflicted me in the form of a soft molasses cookie. My ability to resist is slowly eroding. Read this as a plea for mercy. Give me Duncan Donuts or Caribou Coffee...anything but Starbucks!!

Posted by: Nate at November 30, 2004 6:29 AM

Why Apple is better than Windows


So here is a reason why I like Mac better than Microsoft. I bought this cool new album, "The Light of Things Hoped For" by Brave Saint Saturn (click on the image on the left to buy it). It's about as hip as I get. I pop it into my Windows box and the obnoxious Windows CD player launches and tries to go to some "partner" to get the track names and album information. Of course it fails because it is an obscure album. Does this happen on the Mac also? No. It uses the community supported database GraceNote and everything works the first time with no effort.

It's just a pain to use Windows

(Musings, Stuff with Buzz) Permanent Link made 10:00 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)


I'm a swing voter


I know that I'm a swing voter because in the mail today I got a fund raising letter from the Democratic National Committee and the Republican National Committee. Clearly I have succeeded in messing up the database entries about me.

Click on the image on the left to go to Sojourners website. Where, among other things, you can get a bumper sticker like the image.

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Cool Duvet Covers


Cool bed cover with iconic people images.

Click on the image to go to the designer's website.

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Fun with Matlab


Try typing "why" as a command in Matlab.

(Musings) Permanent Link made 5:32 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)


Shouldn't Virii Make You Feel better?

Photo by Mr. D Logan via Flickr

Now, I am no evolutionary biologist, but... following a strictly evolutionary model, I would not expect that when one gets sick one would necessarily feel worse. Why for example don't I ever catch a cold and get really hopeful and energized? Why don't I catch a cold and just have to go out running for 12 miles? The effects of sicknesses are always negative - depression, exhaustion,etc. Does this mean that we tend to survive better when we feel worse? Why would a virus have a better chance of reproducing when its host feels worse?

This is just an example of how the same confimation bias that affects anecdotal religious observations affects evolution. I think I can make up a story about why any trait of any animal would be enhanced by evolution. Why does a peacock have enormous feathers? To attract a mate. Why does a penguin, not have enormous feathers? To swim fast and swiftly so that it may catch prey. Sort of opposite conclusions that can be made up to support any evolutionarily biased trait. I think people do this when they look for answers to prayers, and see their future unfold just like a horoscope says etc. We are very good at seeing patterns it data. Trying to figure out whether or not they are "real" is hard.

(Musings) Permanent Link made 12:21 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)


Hey, I made MIT Technology Review!


I was fortunate to get an article written about my research in MIT's Technology Review. Click on the picture on the left to read the article.

This is the Opportunity Knocks software that uses GPS to guide people around. It's also kind of cool that in addition to the real work, I took the picture that they used in the print version (although I don't get credit for either anywhere - such is academia).

(Musings) Permanent Link made 7:12 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)


On the quality of CNN reporting


This terrific quote from a terrific piece of front page reporting on In the midst of the Iraq war and on the day of the first debates between Bush and Kerry, CNN headlines this story of a whale hitting a surfer. The surfer pinched his finger.

Unfortunately the story isn't online anymore.

(Musings) Permanent Link made 7:02 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)


Something has gone horribly wrong

phb.jpg Something has gone horribly wrong. Tomorrow I will be attending a meeting while I listen in on another meeting via an audio bridge thing on a cell phone earpiece. Does this mean that I am important or that I can't manage my way out of a paper bag?

(Musings) Permanent Link made 3:21 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)


So that didn't go too well. The earpiece that I was using to listen in to the second meeting was making too much noise and it was bothering the other meeting's attendees. Note to self: get a better earpiece. Other Note to self: Manage life better.

Posted by: Don at September 22, 2004 11:16 AM

Flexcar and Hybrid Vehicles (mark)

flexcar.jpg I just had the wonderful opportunity of using the Flexcar program here in Seattle for the first time. Flexcar is a company who "rents" out cars on an hourly basis. They are parked around the city, you reserve it on the web, and when you want to use it you walk over get in and drive away.

Now in order to do this, the car has to be tricked out with electronics. An RFID-embedded card authenticates you and unlocks the door. A pin entry keypad activates the ignition so that when you turn on the car (with the key in the glove-compartment) it turns over. When you are done, the car sends the information about the trip back to the central database for billing.

Basically if you want a car for the whole day it is cheaper to rent a car, but if you want a car for a few hours, it is cheaper to use Flexcar than it is to rent or own a second car. My family only has one car, so today I had to run an errand which required a second car. This was the perfect solution.

The only thing that could possibly make this cooler is that the car near me was a Hybrid Honda Civic. So not only was I not owning another car, but I was not using as much oil (c.f. the Iraq War), it was a clean new car which I couldn't afford on my own and for the record I got 44.2 mpg on an 8 mile trip (one-way).

Click on the image on the left to go to Flexcar's site.

(Musings, Stuff That Matters) Permanent Link made 12:54 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)