Wednesday, June 30, 2004

As expected, it was a late night last night. The deacons meeting went on late because we were kicking around a lot of very contentious issues. It was productive, but long and tiring. Then I had to go home and get ready to teach tonight. I didn't spend as much time on it as I like to, but I really didn't have much of a choice.

The plan for today for me is work, then youth group, then choir practice for a 4th of July concert we are doing. I've probably complained about this before, but I really don't like the whole concept. Using a Sunday morning service to flag-wave and take political positions (which the words of the piece we are doing does) is just not appropriate. And given some of the interpretations of the new campaign finance law, may not even be legal, which could jeopardize our 501(c)3 status.

No one has ever been able to show me anywhere in the New Testament where we are told to advocate political positions, back certain politicians, or even "educate" voters. What I see is the early church operating as if the government didn't exist. Whether under persecution or favor, the early church simply fulfilled its God-given mandate regardless of the political climate.

But I more or less have to take part. The choir is small and there are only two basses. If I'm not part of it, the church has no choir. And that's exactly how it would be perceived by the director and most of the choir; I killed it because I'm unreasonable, unpatriotic, and my feet smell. So I go along and just switch off my brain. Yet again. Something is going to give at some point.


Cassini is closing in on Saturn. It has already made two major discoveries and the primary mission has not even started yet. Today looks to be interesting as the braking maneuver will take Cassini directly through a gap in the rings. I expect the photos from that to be spectacular.


The Supremes have upheld a lower court ruling that the current Internet kiddie porn law is too broad. This is a good thing as it was too broad and would have swept up a lot of legitimate web sites as well as web sites that, while certainly pornographic, are also perfectly legal when viewed by adults. Once again, we have a problem that stems from minors having huge chunks of free time without adult supervision being solved by a federal law. There is also the related problem of definitions. I have never seen any quantifiable definition of what is or is not pornography, indecent, or obscene (those last two are different; one is legal, one isn't). And even if you get beyond that, how is a U.S. law going to stop porn hosted on a Russian server? If the domain is registered to a U.S. citizen, you can go after them, I suppose. But I doubt pornographers are some sort of U.S.-only phenomenon. In past attempts to control Internet porn, the legal burden was placed on carriers to filter illegal porn at the border. This is impossible. Anyone who tries to filter the smut that fills up their inbox knows that no matter how sophisticated the filters are, there are false negatives (the smut gets through) and worse, false positives (legitimate data is treated as smut). As computers get faster, thus allowing for more intelligence, the situation will improve, but I doubt it will ever go away entirely. As long as guys like to look at women's naughty bits, there will be porn. Given that the desire by guys to look at women's naughty bits is genetically coded in, I don't think any amount of social engineering by Congress or the courts will have much effect. Further, given that there is a substantial percentage of the male population who is willing to pay to see women's naughty bits (meaning there is a profit motive to suppliers), I don't see Internet porn, or any other kind of porn, going away.

Well, that is way more than I intended to say, but there it is.

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

The inverter continues to hum along. We are currently getting about a day and a half out of a charge. I can easily double that by rewiring the well pump and transformer. With the three-day weekend coming up, I may get a chance to at least start thinking through wire routing, sizing, etc. Things are working so well, I hate to mess with it, but I need to make things more efficient. The next major step will be adding in the solar panels. Given the latitude, we will only see a couple kilowatt-hours out of the them, but that will give us 20-30% that isn't coming out of the generator.

I seem to have started something over at The Panda's Thumb. I wish I had more time to devote to these sorts of things. Maybe once school is over.

Anyway, nothing else in the world really caught my attention. Tonight will be a late one; deacon's meeting, then I have to get prepared to teach tomorrow.

Monday, June 28, 2004

I'm at work not feeling particularly well, so I'll be hitting the road soon after this makes its appearance.

We are in day three with the inverter and all looks well. There are some changes that will need to be made to increase efficiency, but the short-term panic is over. I need to swap out the generators, but that shouldn't have an effect on anything. In theory, anyway. We haven't had a lot of luck on the generator front lately.

I started cleaning out the house, then realized I didn't have a place for anything in the garage. This confuses me, because all the tools in the house were originally in the garage. In any case, I need to do a deep clean in the garage before I can clean the house. I was hoping for a jump-start on that tonight, but we have a meeting to go to at 7pm. Ah well. There's always tomorrow.

I need to start planning for a dozen or so people showing up at the front door Thursday evening expecting to be fed. I don't think throwing in some frozen pizzas will fly. I'm not much on planning gatherings, so this ought to be interesting.


For better or worse, Iraq is under self-rule. I'm sure all will be well in spite of 10,000 years of history to the contrary. Maybe it will work; maybe this is the end of history; and maybe pigs will fly. Maybe.


More indications of water on Mars. This time salt. And a rock that looks to me like some weird form of coral. Good picture of it here. We live in interesting times. Funny how I don't see any of the typical Creationist crowd commenting on the recent Mars discoveries.

And that's a wrap.

Saturday, June 26, 2004

We are now running off the inverter. I spent a fair chunk of yesterday finishing up all the last minute details in the power shed. I ran the generator for several hours just to top off the batteries then let it roll. I had to switch some wiring around in the house so the well pump would work. The only thing is that the batteries are not holding up for as long as I would have liked, but for now it will do. They should last for at least a day or so with us in the house and for several days with us not at home. It seemed really weird to be watching TV and not have the generator running. It's been five years since the last time we could just walk over and turn on the TV (or a light, for that matter) without having to run outside and start up the generator. It will take some time to get everything dialed in, but right now, everything is looking good.

Today was Customer Appreciation Day where we normally buy our gas. They were selling gas for 99 cents per gallon. I drove by there expecting a line, but I didn't even get near the place. The line was two miles down the road, around the corner, and still growing. That was a half hour before the sale kicked in. I decided to pass. Maybe next year.

Well, I need to get home and do some more organizing in the garage so I can haul all the tools out of the house and start getting the place organized. I mailed out invites to a dozen people for a get-together at our house next Thursday, so I figured we should at least get all the dead lady bugs vacuumed up. This evening is supposed to be busy; we have an open house and a party with our Bible Study group. So I need to get rolling, but I wanted to post something while I had internet access.

Thursday, June 24, 2004

I survived another trip to the dunes, although it was a close one. The other youth group we were supposed to meet decided to walk to Lake Michigan not knowing that it's a 2-hour round trip if you jog the entire way. A few of their group that had straggled found our group, but we never saw the rest of them. So it didn't turn out quite as planned, but it was still a good break from the usual routine. If I ever have some time online with my own PC, I'll post a good picture one of the teens took of me trying to kill myself.

In any case, Debbie and I both survived, and we brought back the same number of teens as we left with. There's no guarantee that they are the same ones, mind you. There was a good group that showed up. I wasn't sure anyone would be able to come, but they just kept showing up until we had fourteen kids between the ages of 11 and 19. That's more than we have had at anything for a long time. Several new faces and a few we haven't seen much of. Good stuff.

That's it. Nothing on tap tonight other than enjoying not driving to Grand Rapids for school, although I will probably do some homework. I also need to run by Sam's Club and stock up on food. Other than that, nothing really exciting going on.


Bill Clinton is the worst thing that could have ever happened to the Democratic Party. Four months to a presidential election and he is sucking up every ounce of air time and suffocating John Kerry. Someone needs to put a muzzle on that guy. And from what I hear, don't bother buying his book at the $34.95 cover price. Wait a few weeks and buy it off the sale table for $15. Every review of this book I've seen is that it is the most boring, poorly edited 900+ pages you will ever read. I'm not sure about that; some of the books I've had to read for school could probably give it race to the bottom. Anyway, I think it's funny that about the only way Kerry could get into the news right now is to club his wife to death with Clinton's book.

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Slow news day, and a slow day in general. At least up to this point. It will get busy for me around 3pm when I leave here and start getting things together for the dunes trip with the youth group.

Last night ended up being unproductive for me; just sitting watching videos. My sinus problems are starting to effect my ability to think. So much brain power has to be devoted to simple things like breathing and swallowing spit without choking that there isn't anything left for much else. I just have to hold on until Friday and hope my doctor can do something other than tell me to just suffer. That's been his response the last couple times I've gone in with this, but this is the worst and longest lasting case I've ever had of sinus crud. I can't live like this.

The weather is unbelievable. This is the 23rd day of June and we are still heating the house at night. This is unbelievable. At least it looks like all the rain that we were supposed to get today is a no-show. That will help make the dunes trip a little more enjoyable.

Anyway, nothing else to really say. I'll probably have a lot of stories tomorrow if this trip is like any of the others.

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

I had to add these from Bob Thompson's post today:

One day at Chaos Manor, Jerry was talking with Ed, who was visiting him for the day. At one point, Jerry commented, "As I once said to Albert Einstein…"

Exasperated by what he perceived as Jerry's name-dropping, Ed protested, "Albert Einstein! Yeah, right. Is there anyone you don't know, Jerry?" Nonplussed, Jerry replied, "Well, I guess I know just about everyone and just about everyone knows me."

"Bullshit," said Ed, "you just drop names to impress people."

"You wound me," Jerry replied, "but I'll prove it to you. Name anyone you want, and I'll introduce the two of you."

"Okay," says Ed, "how about you introduce me to Clint Eastwood?" Jerry agrees, and the two of them jump in Jerry's Explorer and drive out to Clint Eastwood's house. Jerry rings the bell and steps aside waiting for Eastwood to answer the door. A moment later, the door opens and Eastwood says, "Who the hell are you, and what do you want?"

"Aha," shouts Ed, just as Jerry steps in from the side. "Jerry!", shouts Clint, "Long time no see. How the hell are you?" Ed and Jerry pass an hour or two visiting with Clint, with Jerry and Clint catching up on old times.

As they're driving away, Jerry says, "See. I told you. I really do know everyone." Not satisfied, Ed says, "Yeah, but that might be a coincidence. Let's try another one." Jerry agrees, and Ed suggests President Bush. So they jump on a plane at LAX and head for DC. They show up at the White House and take the tour. As they near the end of the tour, Ed thinks he's beaten Jerry. But then an aide calls Jerry aside and whisks him and Ed into the Oval Office.

"Jerry!", says President Bush, "it's been too long. We've missed your counsel and advice around here. Actually, I'm thinking about dumping Dick this fall. Would you consider running for Vice President on my ticket?" Jerry demurs, but he and Ed do spend a couple hours chewing the fat with the President, who's cancelled meetings with his National Security Advisor and his campaign chairman to free up the time to visit with Jerry.

Shaken, Ed tells Jerry he's starting to wonder, but he's still not convinced. "Okay," says Jerry, "let's do one more. Pick out anyone you want." After some thought, Ed knows he has Jerry. "Okay," Ed says, "introduce me to the Pope." So they get on a plane and head for Rome.

When they arrive, they learn that the Pope has a public appearance scheduled for that day. Jerry and Ed show up at Vatican square, where they find half a million people gathered to hear the Pope speak from his balcony. "This'll never work," Jerry says, "the Pope will never notice me among all these people. I'll tell you what. I know all the guards. They'll let me through to see my old buddy the Pope, but they're too worried about security to let you through. How about if I go in to visit with the Pope and then come out on the balcony with him? Will that satisfy you?" Ed agrees that that would indeed be sufficient proof that Jerry knows the Pope.

A few minutes later the doors open and out comes Jerry Pournelle onto the balcony with the Pope. When Jerry returns to where he left Ed, he sees an ambulance and a cluster of people gathered. He pushes his way through the crowd to find Ed lying on the ground, with ambulance attendants trying frantically to revive him. "What happened," Jerry shouts. "Oh, hi Jerry," a bystander replies, "he seemed just fine until the guy standing next to him asked him, "Who the hell is that up on the balcony with Jerry Pournelle?"

And Bob's new version of the Miranda Warning in light of the recent Supreme Court decision:

"You have don't have the right to remain silent or to refuse to answer questions. Do you understand? Anything you do or don't say may be used against you in a court of law. Do you understand? We can make things up if we want to and charge you on that basis. Do you understand? You have no right to consult an attorney before speaking to the police or to have an attorney present during questioning now or in the future. Do you understand? If you cannot afford an attorney, tough luck. Do you understand? You do not have the right to refuse to answer questions at any time. Do you understand? Knowing and understanding your complete lack of rights as I have explained them to you, are you willing to answer my questions or do we have to beat it out of you?"

Not much happened last night other than running budget numbers. We are trying to figure out how to pay our bills and start getting ahead on some of our loans. We only have three, but they are biggies. We probably won't be able to make meaningful headway until I'm done with college and can increase my hours back up to 40 per week, but we can pick away at them in the meantime. We also need to get some money saved up for the cruise in March 2005. There are a lot fewer paychecks between now and then than you would think. Anyway, we worked at that until we had to stop to eat, then we went to bed.

Today will be more of the same. I'm also working on getting all the reading for my next class done during our break. I had hoped to knock off a fine arts class that I need, but that may have to wait. This next class looks like a killer with two big projects and a lot of reading. I'd rather get a jump on it instead of messing around with that art class. I can take care of that one anytime.

I also need to get everything together for the trip to the dunes tomorrow. I have no idea who will be showing up. I tried to call everyone last night, but all I got were answering machines. I had one definite No, two definite Yes's, two I Don't Know's, and the rest were just messages. That usually means one of two outcomes: everybody shows up, or nobody shows up. Of course the weather liars are predicting rain, but it is supposed to taper off while we are at the dunes. Today would be perfect; cool and sunny. Ah well; whatever happens will happen.


Just in case there is any doubt that the Republic is long gone, the Supremes have decided it is a criminal offense to not produce identification on demand to the pigs... er... Law Enforcement Officers. You would think the memory of Nazi Germany would be too fresh in these idiots' collective memories, but apparently not. "You have the right to remain silent, unless we ask you a question." Something else to worry about.

OK, maybe it's too much to ask that people remember something that happened all the way back in the 1940's, but now it seems The Shrub and his band of merry men can't even remember back to the 1980's when the Soviet Union routinely declared political dissidents to be mentally ill. Seems we all need to be on Prozak, according to The Shrub et al. Of course our schools, which can't seem to perform their primary mission of educating our kids, will be spearheading this massive, nation-wide, mental screening process. Oh yeah, that's the ticket; use a government institution that has failed miserably at the task that its employees were trained to do, to perform a function for which they have not one shred of training. And better yet, not only will every child carry the stigma of mental illness for the rest of their life, the drugs will make damn sure they really are mentally ill by destroying their brains.

Beautiful. Just freaking beautiful.

It has often been said (and not without reason) that if you want to see where the U.S. will be in 5 years, look at England. If this is any indication, I'll be leaving the country soon. Ten patrol cars sealing off a section of downtown London, two ambulances full of paramedics, and a fire truck. Why? Terrorist threat? Suspicious package left in front of a shop? A crazed gunman holding a dozen hostages? No, some retard "photographer" that can't get a real job, got his foot run over trying to shove his camera into Britney Spear's vehicle. "It is not known whether any charges will be brought." Against who? All the stupid emergency people who obviously have nothing to do and need to be laid off? The idiot "photographer" that is too stupid to know better than stick his foot under the tire of a moving vehicle? Although it doesn't say, I'm sure the car's driver is the one who will find themselves charged with a serious felony crime. I hear Mexico is nice if you stay on the west coast. And I would love to give St. Kitts a try; I'm sure I could find something useful to do with myself there.

Bah! Now I am depressed; just don't tell The Shrub...

Monday, June 21, 2004

Another busy weekend is over. Saturday, we had the annual Luau party with the youth group. The day started out cold and windy, so we expected attendance to be poor. But the wind died down at the last minute and the couple hosting the party had their pool heated up to a cozy 95 degrees F, so everything turned out well. We had around 30 people there including all the kids that will be coming into the Jr. High group this fall and several teens we haven't seen in a while. We didn't have as many parents as last year, but we still had quite a few. In any case, it made for a long day, but it was a blast.

Sunday was Sunday with nothing really out of the ordinary. I sub'ed for the regular sound guy to give him a week off. But other than that, nothing special. That sounds bad, but anymore, Sunday is work with the occasional week that is a lot of work. I'm getting a feel for how pastors must feel. The whole thing is emotionally and physically draining. I don't know how anyone can do it as a full-time occupation.

Anyway, that's about it for the weekend. I was late getting into work this morning because I had to drive the snow plow an hour in the opposite direction to get it all fixed up for next winter. I thought the place opened at 7am, but I had to hang around until 8am for someone to show up. It was 9:30 before I finally hit my cube. I'll make it up over the next couple days. I have to leave early Wednesday to take the youth group out to Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes. The gym floor is being refinished this week, so we were more or less kicked out of the church building for Wednesday night. We will be meeting another youth group there that is lead by one of the guys in my college study group. It should be interesting. I hope the weather holds.


Burt Rutan's SpaceShipOne hit the 100-kilometer mark this morning and landed safely. This flight is a precursor to the shot for the X-Prize of $10 million. That flight will have to take three people to the 100-kilometer mark twice in two weeks with the same hardware. There are several other contenders, but Scaled Composites looks to be in the lead. If NASA stays out of the way (meaning, does something NASA has never done before), the private sector will finally deliver what NASA has been promising for 30 years: routine access to space.

On the subject of inorganic organics (so to speak), astronomers keep finding organic compounds that are certainly not organic in origin, including glycine, ethylene glycol, and glycolaldehyde. The evidence that organic from inorganic is not just possible but common keeps piling up.

Well, that's all I have time for.

Friday, June 18, 2004

And just to make things more convenient for everyone, the Blogger logo is at the top and the bottom of the links bar on the right-hand side. That way, you don't have to go scrolling down looking for it.
First, welcome to all the new contributors. Second, some quick instructions. You can update your profile or post by scrolling down to the Blogger logo on the right, just below the archive list. Click on the logo and that will take you to the main Blogger page. Log into Blogger with the username and password that you set up when you responded to the invitation. That will take you to the Dashboard. You will see a link to edit your profile. Realize that whatever you fill in on your profile will be available to the world. If you click on mine, you can see some of what you can fill in.

To contribute, just click on the name of this blog and the next screen will have links to edit, create, etc. Remember to publish when you are done typing. If you just close the window, whatever you typed will go bye-bye. You will also be able to go back and edit or even delete your own posts (but not what other people post). You can comment on any post just by clicking on the "n comments" ("n" will be some number; right now all but one are "0") at the bottom of any post, then "Post a Comment". You can either log on and your comment will be identified as posted by you or you can post anonymously.

That will get you started, but there is a lot more available; feel free to poke around or ask me. If you create your own blog (anyone with an account can do that for free), let me know and I will link to it.

Enjoy! This idea works better if someone other than me is doing the talking, so don't be afraid to post and comment on other people's posts. You can comment on your own posts if you like, but other people are likely to think that you are weird.

Back to work. Thanks to all who have accepted the invitations so far.
And that's all she wrote, folks! The Never-Ending Class from Hell and the World's Most Boring Book are a thing of the past. I have no idea what kind of grade I will end up with. I never even bothered to read the final version of my study group's project. My oral presentation was perfunctory at best. It was all the enthusiasm I could muster. So it's over and I get the next two Thursday's off. I will be busy making appointments to get my plow fixed up, my truck fixed up, myself fixed up, etc. I've had a pretty serious sinus infection since we went to Florida a month ago, and it isn't getting any better. That hasn't helped my performance in this class (or anything else for that matter; when you can't breathe, you don't care about trivial things like work, church, etc.).

Not much else going on. I hope to have some time tomorrow to fire up the inverter, get all the settings plugged in, and give it a run with its new set of batteries. It will be interesting to see if I can get the well and furnace working this time. The furnace is just a matter of getting the right settings in the inverter. The last time I tried it, the generator would kick off every time the furnace came on because I had max amps from the generator set too high. That's easy to fix. The well pump is going to be a problem, I think. If I set it up to work with the inverter, it won't work running straight off the generator, and visa versa. I need to figure a way to set things up so it's easy to switch back and forth. I'd also like to get the generators switched around so I can have some electricity in the cabin. We need to finish packing up and moving things out of there and get the place cleaned up. We may need it for company this summer.

We have a big event Saturday with the youth group, but it's one that another family does all the planning for. We just have to show up. I'll probably work the phones tonight and try to boost the attendance somewhat. There are several people I need to talk to anyway.

Nothing other than the usual politics in the news. The bright spot for the summer is the Cassini probe's final approach to Saturn. Expect a flood of incredible pictures over the next few months. We will be seeing photos from vantage points never before possible at resolutions never before dreamed of. And lots of them. The entire time the Galileo probe was at Jupiter, it had to rely on the low-bandwidth, backup antennae because the main dish jammed while opening. Cassini's high-bandwidth dish is functioning perfectly thus far, which means gigabytes of photos and other data. The most interesting part of the mission to me personally is the Huygens probe that will be dropped into the murk of Titan. We already know that there are organic compounds in the atmosphere. If Huygens finds oceans of organics on the surface, as some now speculate, that will show that massive amounts of what we consider to be organic compounds can be created by inorganic processes. That isn't much of a surprise in itself, but this would be the first time we've seen it up close on another planet (or in this case, a moon). Abiogenesis research will have a field day. Life could get interesting for people of a certain religious bent.

Anyway, enough for now.

Thursday, June 17, 2004

Just a quick post: I'm at college for the last week of the Class That Never Ends. I am overjoyed. Of course my sinuses are slammed shut because I have to give a speech tonight. Right now I sound like Mickey Mouse on helium. Fun.

Anyway, I still have some writing to do and I have to figure out what I'm going to say in our presentation.


Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Short post today. The big new is Pistons win over the Lakers in 5 games. Of course, "win" isn't quite the word. More like "humiliate" or "creamed" the Lakers. I'm wondering what all those sports "experts" are saying today after writing Detroit off before the first game was even played.

Well, that's all for today. I should have some time tomorrow before my study group meets to mess around here.


Tuesday, June 15, 2004

I managed to get at least some homework done last night. I ran out of gas around 10:30pm and went to bed. Only a few more days and this class is over forever.

Tonight looks to be more of the same plus getting ready for youth group tomorrow.

Not much else to report other than this. This is something I've been trying to get my family to believe for years, but I'm stupid, so don't pay any attention to me. Now it's too late. Doctors that deserve that title have a 70% success rate treating "ADHD" (an invented disease whose medical definition reads like the description of an average, active, pre-pubescent child) by eliminating red dye, refined sugar and flour, and processed meat and cheese from the child's diet. This, of course, means the parents actually have to be parents and tell their kids "No." So instead we spend millions of dollars on a pill that has no lasting positive effect and debilitating long-term effects. Sounds about right for Americans these days.

And enough. I'm hungry.

Monday, June 14, 2004

This is important for anybody in ministry. "If that makes them happy, I'm OK with that. But no one cares about religion these days." This article says a lot of what I was trying to communicate to my church last night, only I wish I was as articulate.
The Weekend from Hell is over for better or worse. I ended up taking Friday off work just to try to get caught up. It helped some, but we were still scrambling trying to get ready for Sunday evening. We had a wedding on Debbie's side of the family in Petoskey. We just drove up and back rather than staying Saturday night and really make things tight for ourselves. The wedding and reception were a badly needed break for us even if it meant getting to bed very late. In any case, congratulations go out to Craig and Sarah, and God Bless!

We just skipped Sunday morning Bible study and showed up late for morning service because we grabbed some lunch on the way in. We never left the church until 8pm. After morning service we started setting up, then we took a break for our FPU. I was supposed to do choir practice, but I blew that off to finish setting things up. While all this was going on, tornados, thunderstorms, and downpours were rolling through Kalkaska. We figured attendance would be low. We figured wrong. We had over 60 people there, with a significant number of visitors. We did OK guessing on some things, like the cake, over-estimated on other things, like the baby carrots, and under-estimating on still other things, like the number of chairs. All in all, not too bad in that respect. My first time "in the pulpit" so to speak... well... it went. All I can say is that I survived. I was prepared to be pretty harsh, but due to the large number of visitors, I pulled most of my planned punches. Even so, I got a couple pats on the head, one sarcastic statement, and one very supportive statement. Most people pretended I didn't exist. I don't know if that's good or bad. We'll see what kind of push-back I get.

In any case, this looks to be a heads-down homework day. Gotta go.

Wednesday, June 09, 2004

Another late night last night. It was 10pm by the time I was finished messing around on the Internet, then I had to read 200 pages of The Worlds Most Boring Book while cooking up my stuff I eat for lunches and such. It was almost 1am when I finally made it to bed, so I'm not real with it today. To make things worse, today is a real bore at work. I have three or four things all hanging around unfinished wait for other people. Looks like it will be a long day.

Usual Wednesday night plan with a small addition. I need to go pick up the round tables we will be using Sunday for the service for the high school grads. We are still badly behind schedule, but not as badly as we were 24 hours ago. We may pull this off yet. Maybe. I need to write a sermon or some such as well. I think I know what I want to say; my concern is that I may not be around long after I say it. Ah well. I'll figure something out.


A good article on where science is going in America. It's not in a positive direction, if you were wondering.


Another black comes out in support of Bill Cosby. I have to wonder what planet the so-called black leadership are on. No one black that I know would disagree with anything Mr. Cosby said. I don't know how anyone could; just pick up a newspaper.

Anyway, that's all I have time for today.

Tuesday, June 08, 2004

I'm posting this from the front seat of my truck. No, I don't have some cool wireless connection; I'm actually sitting in the truck by the cabin with a phone line running out of the window and plugged into the test jack in the telephone interface box. This is because the cabin is out of juice and I absolutely have to get some things done tonight. For now, I have the truck running so I'm nice and cool in spite of the 92 degree F temps outside.

Not much else to say; I just thought I'd let everyone know just what an internet junkie I really am.

I invited the first batch of family as team members. I see on has already accepted. I'll keep sending out batches of a dozen or so over the next few months. Pretty soon there will be hundreds of people posting to this blog. I'll have to sell tickets! Yea, right.

Anyway, the iTunes download is chugging away in the background. Only thirty minutes left to go. I'll probably hunt up some of the dozen or so blog URL's I have stashed in my e-mail and put them with the others.

Summer arrived in a big way: yesterday it broke 90 degrees F. Two days earlier, the highs were in the 60's, and according to the weather liars, it will be back there tomorrow. This is turning out to be one screwed up June.

We spent last night at my parents' house watching Windows update download and install 6 megs of critical security updates. I was trying to sign up for iTunes so I could grab some songs for the senior video we are supposed to have done by Sunday. The updates didn't get done until after 11pm, so we just packed up and went home. I will try again tonight to get our act together. Sometime, I still need to do all my reading and my work for college. Time is running very short. I may be taking another day off work just to get everything done. I will never get any vacation accrued at this rate.

Anyway, not much to report other than it's hot and muggy. The news sites are still all Reagan all the time. Now that the funeral is over, I expect that to change.

The whole "national mourning" has made made one thing very clear to me; a lot of people haven't grasped the concept that if you don't have anything good to say, don't say anything. Here is a guy that has been out of office since 1988 and hasn't had a clue about reality for some time. So lets pick the day of his funeral to try to cram as many nasty things about him in a column as possible. Come on! Show some sort of human decency. Or maybe that just isn't possible for some people. Sure, Reagan said and did some things that probably fall into the category of "stupid," but then so does everyone else. The difference is that the President has every word he utters recorded then discected endlessly by a group of self-appointed, self-righteous clowns.

Of course, what do I know. At least Mr. Hitchens gets paid to spew. I do it for free...

Anyway, that's about all I have. If I can ever find five minutes, I've found several new interesting-looking blogs to add to my list. Maybe I'll just take the time tonight while I'm online.

Back to the mines.

Monday, June 07, 2004

It's Monday. I could barely crawl out of bed this morning. Of course, I didn't get anything done this weekend I wanted to get done, but we did get a lot done. If that makes sense. We ran into Kalkaska Saturday morning and got some more bits to finish off the power shed and get ready for a youth gathering we had scheduled for Sunday evening. We spent the rest of the day moving rocks. Little rocks, big rocks, huge rocks. We should have enough to finish the retaining wall now and maybe make a start on some of our landscaping. After we had had enough of that sort of fun, we cleaned up and headed into Traverse City. The youth group always buys Bibles for the high school graduates, so we took care of that. That's one item off a list of thousands that we have to have done by Sunday. Fun, fun. I don't know if we are going to make it or not. Time is getting tight and things are not happening fast enough.

Sunday was crammed full as usual. Bible study, morning service, run home to grab what we needed for the afternoon and evening, over to my sister's house for lunch/dinner, back to the church at 3pm for FPU, choir practice, evening service, then herd the teens over to one of the church family's place for hot dogs on the grill and mosquito-swatting. We landed at home around 10:30 and made it to bed after midnight. I hope I can survive the summer.

Today will be a day of organizing pictures and music for the video we are trying to put together for the graduate service on Sunday, lots of reading (a couple hundred pages out of the most boring book on earth), and getting things ready for my PLT on Thursday. For the second class in a row, we have someone missing the final week, so we will need to have all our work done a week early and tape that person's part of the final presentation. I also seem to recall a personal paper, but I think that is just a one-page work-scenario thing. I just have to not forget to do it. So just this Thursday and next Thursday and the Class from Hell is over and I get a two-week break. Which I'm going to use to knock off my fine arts class that I need to take care of. It will be interesting to try to cram a one-semester class into two weeks, but I think I can pull it off. Maybe. Or not. Confidence, of course, is the key.


Well, unless you have been in a cave, you know Ronald Reagan died on Saturday. My news sites are full of nothing else: funeral plans, endless biographies, and all the rest. Reagan did a lot of things that people disagreed with, but the one thing he did right was to listen to Jerry Pournelle. Because he did, the high school kids in my youth group don't know what the Soviet Union was (which may say more about the miserable state of public school education than anything else). When I was in high school, the Soviets dominated the national consciousness. We were taught to be resigned to a world where communism was the norm and America would be struggling to survive or would be taken over. It's hard for people under thirty to understand just how much of a threat the Soviets appeared to us. In hindsight, the collapse of the USSR seems inevitable, but it was anything but that in the 1970's. We can expect to be inundated by more facts about Reagan than any of us ever wanted to know. I expect the Reagan movie marathons are already underway.

In any case, hoist a jelly bean to Mr. Reagan the next time you think about the fact that ten former Soviet satellite nations just joined the EU and Russia is a toothless, arthretic bear. Personally, I'll suffer any of his mistakes for that.

Speaking of Jerry Pournelle, Jerry has a good bit on the Israel/Arab civil war that pretty much aligns with what I think of things. There are a lot of sad stories on both sides, blood on both sides, guilt on both sides, and politicians on both sides who have made a career of the conflict and have strong motivation to see that it never ends.

One reader (Mr. Maas) has accused Jerry of favoring the Palestinians over the Israelis. Jerry replies:

First: earlier Mr. Maas and others have said that I generally have more to say about Israeli atrocities than Palestinian. I agree; but surely there is no lack of information about the actions of the Palestinians and Arabs? And surely everyone here is aware of them, and anyone who thinks I have anything worth saying cannot possibly believe that I am either unaware or indifferent?

If you want to break your heart, read Richard Ben Cramer HOW ISRAEL LOST with its stories of losses on both sides. The Russian single mother physician who claimed to be Jewish in order to get her daughter out of Siberia (she vaguely remembered a Jewish grandmother), brought her to Israel, raised her to her teens, and lost her to a suicide bomber; the Palestinian mother whose teen-age kid was blown up in the act of assembling a bomb to put into a model airplane; and on, and on. No one not bereft of his senses can fail to be aware of the horrors; and having been there in 1998 when there was peace and we could travel through the West Bank as well as Israel, it is doubly horrible because I have seen what that land can be like when the worst one sees are insults and insensitiveness; but this was when everyone thought there would be peace.

(Worst one personally sees: but there were the minefields in the Jordan Valley, and the busses of Settlers with 15 year old boys carrying loaded machineguns with spare magazines taped on as they toured Christian churches on Mount Carmel. And the armed checkpoints that seemed designed to humiliate those who had to go through them: but balanced by the continuing foot traffic about 200 yards away through the olive groves of the Inter-religious Institute of Tantour.)

Yes: I have probably said more about Israeli actions than Palestinian, but that is largely because the former generally go unreported while the latter seldom do. When I write of such matters I have a point; I don't write about atrocities because I like thinking about them.

Now regarding the Peace Offer. Richard Ben Cramer had a very great deal to say about that in his excellent book. Let me summarize.

Arafat did make a counter offer, it was his original offer, which was never even considered.

Cramer believes the Palestinians are ham handed, and Arafat doesn't want peace any more than Sharon; if there is to be peace it will have to be negotiated by someone with more claims to legitimacy than that thug. I haven't Cramer's extensive experience in that area, but I have long believed that. The PLO has no chance of retaining ownership of Palestine in fee simple if normal conditions return to that land. It has rivals, and so far politics and thuggery are indistinguishable, but it's not certain that the PLO would win even in a battle to the death among thugs, were it not for the threat [of] Israeli intervention.

As Richard Ben Cramer says in HOW ISRAEL LOST, if the Israelis went back to roughly the Green Line keeping much of Jerusalem and putting the Old City in some special status with possibly dual or international sovereignty, removed the minefields from the Jordan Valley, and stopped trying to exercise control -- check points, control of all import and export, petroleum and food monopolies over everything going into Palestine -- and pulled out the Settlements, there would be peace in an instant. The Palestinians would not be happy about losing the rights of refugees to return, but it would be pretty hard to get people to blow themselves up slaughtering innocents over the rights of their grandparents to properties in pre-1967 Israel, particularly if compensation were offered.

I think everyone knows this. It is certainly arguable.

The Israelis have never offered sovereignty -- a return to pre-1967 conditions with territorial adjustments -- and it doesn't look as if they ever will.

Years ago I said, here and elsewhere, that if Israel wanted peace all they had to do was to build a Wall more or less along the Green Line adjusting for really critical military topography but not for economic, keep Jerusalem but offer to negotiate on its form of government, pay for whatever they left inside their side of Wall, remove the Settlers (paying them to leave, and leaving their improvements as a prize and partial compensation; why blow them up?) and just declare themselves RID of Gaza and the West Bank. Let it be sovereign, let Jordan have the West Bank, invite the Martians to come in: but get out and stay out and let the Palestinians sort out who will be in charge.

Instead, they have built a Wall that includes deep incursions into Judea and Samaria and separates villages from cities, they insist on control over everything imported or exported from Gaza and all of the West Bank, and they keep check points deep inside Palestine; and keep the Jordan Valley a desolation on the West side. Driving along the road from Jericho to Galilee is an experience: on the Jordan side all is green. On the West bank of the Jordan they have built a desolation, mined it heavily, and call it a defense policy.

The new Wall isn't a peace offer, and it won't be secure; it's a perversion of the notion.

As I said earlier, there are plenty of arguments about the morality and who's in the right and the rest of it; and perhaps the chaos that is there is justified because not going back to the Green Line (more or less) is worth fighting and dying and continuing the occupation and making the Jordan desolate; but surely that ought to be debated?

One more point: the fortification of the Jordan Valley, and the retention of high ground Settlements in Judea and Samaria, are often justified by the needs of military security. I think this demonstrable nonsense.

The Golan Heights are a different matter, and were I an Israeli military officer I would immolate myself before acquiescing in my government's surrender of the Heights. Take the high ground, boy, or they will kick hell out of you in the valley. But that's entirely different from the Jordan valley. Palestine isn't part of Jordan any longer, and Jordan isn't likely to build a mass tank army and send it across the river. Nor is Egypt likely to attack again. The military security of Israel in these days of electronic surveillance, satellites, and even embassies in Jordan and Egypt, doesn't depend on watchtowers on Mount Gerizim and minefields north of Jericho.

Israel is far stronger, relative to her neighbors, now than in the dire days of the Yom Kippur War, when they really did come close to losing, or thought they had; and military intelligence is much better. And for that matter, the US maintains forces in Sinai to oversee the demilitarization of that area. Probably the only world power that could defeat Israel now is the United States. The likelihood of any combination of Arab and Muslim states and their allies being able to do it is negligible. Israel's peace is not threatened by armored armies and air forces.

What would I do were I a Palestinian? I'd get out. But of course some Palestinian, Christian, Muslim, and Druze, have very deep roots. Some families have lived in Bethlehem since their ancestors were converted to Christianity by the Apostles. They are not leaving, and they have sad stories. But one thing I would not do is encourage my children to blow themselves up killing other children. I'd also keep them far away from any armed Palestinian. And cry a lot, just as the Russian physician cries for her lost daughter.

And a last point: I would think it obvious that Israel can be: democratic; big; Jewish -- pick any two. To remain Jewish and democratic, Israel must have a majority of Jews. Ben Gurion said that in 1949 to the Knesset when the Green Line was proposed. He said that the Haganah could conquer all of the Land of Israel, from the Sea to the River; but it would then have a minority of Jews, and after the next election the government would be Arab. Those numbers have not changed much.

An I must get back to work.

Friday, June 04, 2004

Survived week three of Human Resource Management. We had a rough time in our PLT largely because of weird incompatibilities between the various version of Word. Microsoft has tried so hard to break compatibility with other word processors (like Open Office and Word Perfect) that the latest version of Word cannot render documents created with versions less than two years old. This is just plain stupid. I'm still planning on running my Win2K laptop until it simply will not function any longer, then switching to something non-Microsoft. Apple is definitely a contender, but I'm concerned about a lot of the DRM coded into it. Linux is getting better by the day; the latest non-guru-full-employment-act version is called XandrOS. I know nothing of this, but what I have heard from others that I trust, but the buzz is that this is the closest yet to a distribution that Just Works. Of course, we have all heard that one before. In any case, I no longer wish to support the Great Beast in Redmond.

Now I see that the patent office has granted a patent to Microsoft for double-clicking on an icon to launch an application. This is stupidity on stilts. The US Patent Office has become worse than useless; they are now a detriment to the economy and to the United State's ability to compete internationally. Hey Bill! I got a double-click for ya... I don't know if the Patent Office is really this incompetent or if they just rubber-stamp everything that comes in the door, especially if it bears the name of a multinational corporation.

How did I get on that? Oh yea, class last night. We went through our usual routine for class, other than we had to break into groups, create a training class, then present them to the rest of the cohort. It wasn't supposed to be serious and, given the personalities in our cohort, it wasn't. I'm not sure that what came out of that exercise could be called "learning", but it was at least entertaining. I was in a fog the whole day because of allergies, sinus infection, and some indefinable cloud of doom hanging over my head. I just thought I was tired until I got home and went to bed. I must of had a fever of some sort; I shivered uncontrollably for a half-hour or so. I felt OK this morning, so I'm not sure what's up. If I'm getting sick, it will have to wait until I can schedule some time for it. I think I have an opening in November...

The weather is starting to shape up into something more like summer, although we are still running the boiler at night. Other than a couple days next week, it doesn't look like that will change in the next ten days. I can't believe we will still be heating the house in mid-June. Global warming by pale, hairy butt.

I will leave you with that mental image. Don't thank me; it's a service that I'm more than happy to provide.

Wednesday, June 02, 2004

Another short post. The rain has finally stopped, but the temps can't get past 70 degrees F and the lows are down in the low 40's. It's hard to believe it is June and we are still running the furnace at night. We are slowly going broke just buying propane.

And just to rub a little salt in everyone's wounds: I filled up the truck last night and paid $1.68 a gallon for diesel. At this rate, the extra cost of buying the diesel will be more than made up for in not just 40% better gas mileage, but cheaper fuel as well.

Last night was homework night. It's only the third week of this class and I am terribly behind. Mostly, it is because I just don't care about the material. I'm also getting burned out fast. We get a two-week break after this class, then it's only three classes (15 weeks) and the worst is over. I still have to take some other classes, but those are internet-based. No more trips to Grand Rapids every Thursday.

Nothing new in the news; just Arabs killing Jews, Jews killing Arabs, Arabs killing Arabs, Arabs killing Americans, Americans killing Arabs, and the whole world hates Israel and America. The beat goes on...

Tuesday, June 01, 2004

This will have to be short; I only have a few minutes left of my lunch break. This weekend didn't go quite as planned, as in not at all as planned. It doesn't seem like they ever do anymore. Anyway, Saturday, we were supposed to do my dad's birthday, but some stuff came up that most of the family couldn't make it. Sunday was the first wave of open houses, so that and the normal church thing kept everyone running the entire day. We did stop by my parents after Sunday evening service for a couple hours to drop off Dad's birthday gift and chat a little. Monday, I was planning on working in the power shed all day and maybe getting a couple more loads of rocks from my parents place, but instead, we went on a cleaning and organizing binge. I'm tired of never being able to find anything, so I declared enough is enough; we spent around sixteen hours straight cleaning, sorting, filing, organizing, tossing, etc. The problem is that we are less than half-done. We could easily spend another full day before I would consider the place inhabitable by humans. I want to have some people over during June, but I wouldn't want anyone to see what we have right now.

Mark Twain's version of the Battle Hymn of the Republic is making the rounds again. It just goes to show that some conversations are a lot older than many realize:

Mine eyes have seen the orgy of the launching of the Sword;
He is searching out the hoardings where the stranger's wealth is stored;
He hath loosed his fateful lightnings, and with woe and death has scored;
His lust is marching on.

I have seen him in the watch-fires of a hundred circling camps;
They have builded him an altar in the Eastern dews and damps;
I have read his doomful mission by the dim and flaring lamps --
His night is marching on.

I have read his bandit gospel writ in burnished rows of steel:
"As ye deal with my pretensions, so with you my wrath shall deal;
Let the faithless son of Freedom crush the patriot with his heel;
Lo, Greed is marching on!"

We have legalized the strumpet and are guarding her retreat;*
Greed is seeking out commercial souls before his judgment seat;
O, be swift, ye clods, to answer him! be jubilant my feet!
Our god is marching on!

In a sordid slime harmonious Greed was born in yonder ditch,
With a longing in his bosom –- and for others' goods an itch.
As Christ died to make men holy, let men die to make us rich -–
Our god is marching on.

* NOTE: In Manila the Government has placed a certain industry under the protection of our flag. (M.T.)

Anyway, nothing else really caught my eye other than a piece by P.J. O'Rourke. I know he means it sarcastically, but I'd be willing to give it a try. The U.S. was founded on the concept of the "friends of liberty everywhere, but guardians of our own," which is one of those ideals that have never really been tested, because it never has really been tried. Now is as good a time as any.

Anyway, time is up; gotta get to work.