Thursday, June 30, 2005

Last night was a bit of a day off as far as youth group goes. There were a couple new faces, which was good. I knew most of my regulars were at camp, so I didn't plan anything. We just sat around and talked for a while. I'm not sure how much good it did, but at least there were some ideas planted. I've been trying to shove people out of their bubbles and think for themselves. It's hard work, and seldom produces the desired result. Typical evangelical doctrine doesn't hold up too well to serious scrutiny, and telling people to "just believe" and "have faith" is rather unsatisfying; especially when five minutes before you were encouraging them to question and scrutinize their beliefs.

Which is something I've been doing a lot of lately. They are not doing too well (my beliefs, that is). The whole bit is sort of like a cheap sweater. If you start picking at one loose thread, pretty soon the whole thing is lying on the floor in a heap. Some questions I have been asking most of my life. The response was always that I didn't know enough to understand the answers. Well, I'm not stupid and I have probably studied theology and apologetics at least slightly more than the average Christian, and I still don't have answers. Or more correctly, I have answers, but they are definitely not lending any support to evangelicalism, and in fact are having the opposite effect. All I can think about is the Pink Panther short (cartoon) where he starts picking at a loose "thread" in his fur, unravels himself into a pile, then knits the whole mess back into a sweater that hangs to the floor. As I look at the tangled pile on the floor I'm asking myself if I want to try to knit it back together into an ugly, baggy sweater that will never fit right, or just kick the whole mess into the trash. The later would certainly be easier, but I'm not sure I want to be left naked. (And as a matter of fact, I do have a license to strain metaphors like that...)


The problem with not having much to talk about and having a blog is you tend to start rambling, then say too much.

On a roughly related note, I need to make some big changes and make them fast. I need to do some creative work, which I can't do here (at my job, that is). Blogging during my lunch hour just isn't cutting it any more. One thing on the close horizon is a group of essays I will be collecting and editing (as well as adding one of my own). But I recognize the symptoms, and that will do little other than whet my appetite. I recently dug out my old camera and picked up some black and white film. The big problem is time; I just don't have any. Work and other obligations have me booked solid for the entire month of July. I have no vacation days. But I really need a couple weeks to do other things. Not sure what I can arrange, but I need to make something happen soon.

OK; enough whining. Back to writing job documentation.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

More insane busy-ness.

Friday, we actually worked on the house a little. We have been putting up massive amounts of shelving in the garage in a (probably vain) attempt to get enough crap off the floor to make room for at least one of our vehicles. The garage is big enough to park four cars in, so you would think it wouldn't be that big of a deal to make room for at least Debbie's Tracker and Nestina's Wrangler. You would, of course, be wrong.

In any case, that kept us busy and sweating like pigs until dark. Saturday, I was back in the garage for a few hours re-arranging junk to make enough room to put up more shelves. After that we had a youth pool party, cook out, bonfire, etc. event with a singing group that were here from Cedarville. They were going to be doing our morning service Sunday, and had some time to kill Saturday afternoon. It was a lot of fun, but we didn't get home until after 10PM.

Sunday was the Cedarville group in the morning, lunch at a barbecue put on by some local organization, Wal-mart for last-minute shopping for Nestina's week at summer camp, ice cream at Cold Stone Creamery in downtown Traverse City, pulling together a bunch of information so Nestina could apply for a job at Boyne, evening service, then finally home.

Debbie and I took Monday off, but it wasn't really a day off. We got up early to shuttle a groups of kids out to Lake Ann for the week. We hung around there, got everyone settled in, grabbed some lunch, and wandered back into town. The heat and humidity were unbelievable. We came home and crashed for a couple hours. Debbie had a Bible study in Kalkaska and I had to get the minutes typed up from the previous two monthly deacon meetings. A storm move through that just about leveled the place. We lost a lot of trees, but nothing was damaged. My parent's place wasn't so lucky. I haven't been out there yet to survey the damage, but I hope it wasn't anything major. At least it cooled it off a little.

Tuesday was work and a deacons meeting, and today is work and a (even-smaller-than-usual) youth group. Tomorrow, I am supposed to dig up rocks at my parent's place for them, the church, and myself. There are on-going landscaping projects at all three places that need rocks. There is an old barn foundation out in front of my parent's place that has a lot of good-looking stone. I will take my chain saw over while I am there so I can take care of any blow-downs from the storm.

Anyway, that's about it. Nothing has really caught my eye in the news lately.

[Geek Warning: If you are a technophobe, you may want to stop here.]

I did do some research on the IP addresses that keep showing up in my firewall logs. They all belong to and a block of addresses reserved by the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority. I have no idea who, but someone using these IP's has been hammering my network with attacks spaced about 17 seconds apart. I will be setting my firewall to block all addresses in the ranges through and through If you have a firewall, I would highly recommend you do the same. If you don't have a firewall, you need to get one. If you are not geeky enough to configure it, call someone who is. (Tip: if you see a nerdy-looking high school kid getting the crap beat out of him by guys with spiked hair and shrapnel in their faces, he's your guy.) We have been having serious internet issues and I don't know if it has to do with these attacks on our network, or if the storm partially took out our ISP. We don't have time to play on the internet until Friday in any case, so if the problem is still there Friday, I will take it up with Earthlink.

I'll make a prediction: unless something painful, bloody, and very public happens to those responsible for these attacks (and many are already known with pictures, business and home addresses, and full biographies published on the internet), the internet will become useless within a couple years. The time it takes for a virgin Windows XP machine to experience its first attack on being connected to the internet is now measured in minutes; less time than it takes to download the software to repel the attack. I wouldn't be surprised to see that reduced to less than a minute. At some point, people will decide that it just isn't worth the amount of time and money it takes to secure a machine and keep it secure, while still running the risk of having their personal data compromised or stolen, just to be on the internet.

I guess it's been fun. When we get old, we can talk to our grandchildren about it like I talk to teens today about Compuserve: in the past tense.

And that's it.

Friday, June 24, 2005

I haven't said anything in a week, but I haven't had much to say at all. Still don't but I thought I would toss something up here anyway.

The Supremes have decided the Kelo case in the worst possible way for property owners. Essentially, any government agency can seize anyone's property for any purpose, including giving it to another private individual or company. Being a property owner in the United States just became a liability. I expect to see real estate become a buyers market as a result. It likely will anyway, with housing prices setting new records on a daily basis. If you think you might sell your house anytime in the next five years or so, sell it this summer.

The Democrats want to steal my paycheck and give it to the mentally inferior and call it "fairness." The Republicans want to steal my land and give it to some corporation to build a strip mall on it. Well, ok, not my land in particular. At least not at the present time. But you get the idea. I used to hold out some hope that the Libertarians had a shot, but they squandered their one chance and wasted everyone's time and money on internal feuds. The last presidential candidate they ran was still wearing his straight-jacket. I now get a fat envelope every month or so with "Is the Libertarian Party Dead?" splashed across the front of it. I say "Yes" to myself and toss the envelope unopened into the recycle bin. Personally, I hope they all rot in hell.

I hear a steady buzz that we are in places like Iraq to preserve our democracy. We are a republic and the founders explicitly warned against democracy and in fact put in place guarantees so we wouldn't slide into democracy by accident, but there are precious few who know that, and none that work in D.C. or report on the goings on there. But leaving that aside, I can't help but ask, preserving what exactly? A corpse? We are no longer citizens, but subjects. We work and follow the rules, and hope to avoid the notice of the storm troopers. I feel like Lando Calrissian; any feeling I have of control over my property, my personal effects, even my own body is nothing but an illusion that can vanish at any time.

Here is a bit from Jerry Pournelle's site. It is roughly related to the above:

The WSJ today has an article on a Texas town that tried to provide WiFi for citizens (by subscription) and ran afoul of SBC which wants a monopoly on all this stuff and while it doesn't yet provide DSL and is not sure when it will, wants to see that local governments don't compete. Funny, they're all for local governments providing monopolies whenever possible; just not competing.

The rapaciousness of Republicans for corporate welfare and benefits for what is laughingly called the "private, competitive" sector is matched only by the unrelenting greed of the Democrats for benefits for Public Service Employees and their Unions. (Why should "public service" have both civil service and union protections? One or the other, but why both?) We have a party of greedy capitalists (Adam Smith said the greatest enemy of capitalism is capitalists, who can't ever meet without conspiring to get government to limit competition) vs. a party of confiscatory taxation and "public benefits" which generally turn out to be more jobs for bureaucrats and higher salaries for public officials. A pox on both their houses.

I wasn't able to find a link to the WSJ front page piece with either Google or MSN search but I know it's out there because I have the paper, and I think someone sent me a link which I now can't find. Oh well.

The whole notion of leaving things to local government, and fiscal responsibility, seems to be gone now. Everything is to be federalized, so that bribes have to be big. With local government a lot of people can get in on public corruption because the price of entry is lower. Federalize it and you need a lot more money to pay before you can play.

Me, I'm all for allowing private companies to get in to provide services, but I am not for state legislatures forbidding cities to get into the game. Let cities and towns do as they want. Meanwhile the cable companies, fearing their monopolies, have their own legislative agendas. The phone companies are losing revenue and want it back so they want a monopoly on high speed internet.

Well it's all grist for the mill and I suppose I'll deal with much of it in the column, but for the moment I am a bit disgusted with them all. I am sure I'll feel better later.
On a different topic completely, I had the ...uh opportunity to see a lot more of our friendly landscaper "lady" today than I really wanted to see. Her entire be-thonged ass was sticking out of the top of her pants while she was weeding the rockscape around the office. Now, I've probably shown a little crack here or there while working, but I generally realize it if for no other reason than I feel a bit of a draft, and take corrective action. This individual's pants were essentially off. How could anyone be oblivious to that? And we're not talking about a quick peek; she was showing for a good twenty minutes. And no, I wasn't timing her. I'm judging by the length of time I was hearing "Oh my God!" "That's disgusting!" "Where's my camera?" and other such comments while I was trying to work.

Then I stumbled across Dad Gone Mad's latest post (rated PG-13) on this very subject. Working with teenage girls has made me realize the effect of absent fathers is having on our teenage girls. Walking through the high school or mall on an average day is like watching the Playboy channel. The only real difference being the Playboy channel would have its license revoked for showing some of what I see there.

So I guess it's OK that the country is going into the toilet as long as we get to look at lots of perky boobs and butt checks along the way. Personally, St Kitts is looking better by the day.

Especially when I read stuff like this. The locals joke about Northern Michigan having two seasons; winter and three months of bad sledding. I've seen the pictures from the late 1800's. It's not a joke. Many of the old farms around here have doors on the second floor without a balcony. That was how they got in and out of the house in the winter. I remember winters with enough snow that people had to melt it over a fire and dump the water in the bathtub because there wasn't anyplace left to stack it. The road crews in Flint would use front loaders and dump trucks to haul snow downtown and dump it into the Flint River just to make room to plow the streets. The EPA made them stop that. It seems the road salt was messing up the Flint River's delicate balance of heavy metals, motor oil, and raw sewage. Up here near the lake, there was even more snow. Most of the people living here in Northern Michigan today have never seen real snow. If this story holds true, they will.

I'll be in St. Kitts. I'm not married to a travel agent for nothing.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Good Morning All!

It has been our "normal strange and busy" around here lately. This past Saturday our family divided to hit all the things we had committed to....split differently than originally planned since Ric forgot what weekend Father's Day was! Oh well....I should get used to being the odd person out sometime. Anyways ..... Ric and Nestina hit a couple open houses, stopped at home to pick up the baked beans that had been cooking since the morning, headed over to a Father/Child gathering at a church members house, then after that headed out to another open house. Ric's Dad came home to go to the Father/Child thing and brought two of his grandkids also, so a few "Frost" were there. I had headed down to Breckenridge for another open house for two of my cousins. Kinda chilly, but lots of good food, family and fun. I got to meet my newest cousin to be that is getting married 2Jul (Candace) -- Jason (the groom!) had to introduce me as their travel agent -- and cousin. At this point being their travel agent is more important than the blood relationship since I got them booked on a GREAT HONEYMOON!

Then home around 10p or so to find Ric chilling out in front of a movie and no Nestina. She had gotten permission to stay over to his niece's house with her and another friend. WELL --- things didn't go to well and we got a phone call around 1:30am to come get Nestina. I didn't know the parents weren't going to be home until late ... but I was surprised (and disappointed) in what the girls managed to do before the parental figures got home. Yes ... Nestina and Courtney this is directed at you both! Ric and I have to get better at this parenting thing soon ....

Next week in church summer camp for Nestina and I have most of the week off. I hope to get alot accomplished here at the house. I had originally asked for this week off thinking it would be the perfect week to take two of my nieces for the summer, but they had plans with their Mom to go to Florida. Oh well....more time to work around here. FUN?! Anybody want to come help?!

Work is going well....busy in spurts like the summer goes. I wish new owners would realize we are nothing like Grand Rapids area and adjust our "quotas" .... I hardly ever make 100% and not too many times 75%. I guess I will never see a raise again. I love doing my job -- most of the time! I really hate those people that don't know where they want to go ... someplace warm and cheap! Hmmmm, please narrow down some PLEASE! Or the ones that usually deal with another agent that make the comment, I always deal with Melanie (or Colette) and she does a great job finding us the best air price, can you? I would really love to answer sometime NO! (but i'm afraid I would lose my job!)

Things at home are still muddling along, we really have to dig in and get things back to halfway normal like before Christmas. I know I'm as guilty as Ric, but plan on changing things. I want to get back on that steady footing I was beginning to feel before Christmas and all the changes in our lives. We both have to work together to accomplish it. Maybe we can get on the same page again about all or at least most of the aspects in our lives now.

News in my family ... my brother Steve (almost 1yr younger than me) is RETIRING from the Air Force. YIKES! CONGRATS to him. Mom is having a big shingdig in August at her house, it will be a blast. I recently heard from Mom, that another of my brothers (Tony) just accepted a new job in Alpena. CONGRATS to him. He is living in Flint and was working down in or near Detroit ... talk about a drive! That is one of the reasons he was looking for something else. It will be neat to have him up in the northern country. I've never been to Alpena, now will be my chance. I wish them luck in finding a new home in Alpena.

Well...I should get going soon to shower and get ready for work. Late morning today to kill some hours ..... hopefully not too busy the next two days since I"m off next week and can't follow thru on any uncommitted people.

Have a great day! If you want to email me directly ... send to with your comments and thoughts. You can post quick comments here (Ric has found out you can't get too long winded with comments!)

Friday, June 17, 2005

Every once in a while, I do a vanity search in Google just to see what comes up. I did one today motivated mostly by TTLB not finding any links to my blog. I know there are at least two (thanks Jon and Lindsey).

I found this, which is interesting. My site is worth $1,000? They also have no incoming links listed.

I also noticed that when I looked for links to our old website, there are still about 50 websites linked to now-non-existent web pages. There is a phenomenon called "link rot" that afflicts all web sites. I have never found a good way of dealing with it other than manually hitting every link. That's easy enough to do on my main page, but I'm not about to start digging through the archive. News sites are horrible about changing the URL of a news story when it is moved from the current news portion of their web site to the archive. There is no need for that other than overly anal programmers.

Anyway, I got a meeting at a fancy restaurant here in Traverse City with the rest of the accounting department.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

I hit a speed bump in my migration from Windows to Xandros. It has nothing to do with Xandros; it was a hardware issue. The PC I was using had been given to me. I was told at the time that it had an incurable virus that nothing could remove. No problem. Tell Xandros to scrub the hard drive to bare metal and reformat as part of the installation.

Everything was working fine until I tried to download the SP1 for Xandros (an fifteen-hour download over a dial-up connection). About twelve hours into the download, the machine started to repeatedly reboot itself. I suspected a heat issue. The power supply looked pretty cheesy (typical for Gateway machines these days) and it was some sort of proprietary thing (again, typical of Gateway machines). I picked up a used machine here at work and spent a couple hours last night stripping all the usable parts out of my machine and combining them with the parts in the new machine. The end result was a Pentium III 650MHz with 256M of RAM, a 30G drive, a 10G drive, DVD player, and all the usual ports. Not the fastest machine, but it will be a good test of how Xandros will work on my laptop (Pentium III 700MHz).

While stripping down the old machine, out of curiosity I pulled the power supply and partially disassembled it. Nasty gross!! It was packed with nicotine-saturated dust. I'm not even sure the fan blades were turning, and even if they were, there was no way it was moving any air. The rest of the machine was spotless inside, so at some point, someone had the same idea I did and did a very thorough cleaning job, except for the most important part. Anyway, It's just as well that I got rid of the proprietary hardware and replaced it with something generic.

Again, Xandros is snappy even on old hardware. I can't wait to load it on Nestina's machine (Pentium IV 1.6GHz) and see how it runs there. I haven't had much time to play with it; as soon as I got Xandros installed, I set it to downloading the SP1. It's still running, even as I type this. I started it around midnight last night, and it still reported 8+ hours to go when I left for work this morning around 7:30am. This is a good test of many things, not the least of which is whether EarthLink will allow me to maintain a continuous connection and the continuous transfer of data for 15 hours straight. I think I will pay for the update on a CD for the other two installs. This is a good burn-in test for unknown hardware, but it isn't something that I would want to make a habit of.

Other than that, yesterday was just work and youth group. The high school group has essentially vanished now that school is out, but the smaller group (can you really call two people a group?) allows much more interaction, rather than just me talking.

And that's about it. I did add something to the bottom of this page. I never have cared what my "ranking" is as I always figured I knew everyone that read my blog. Well, I've gotten some comments and e-mail from people that I have no idea who they are, so I decided to see just how deep into the web my pearls of wisdom have penetrated. I signed up for The Truth Laid Bear Blogosphere Ecosystem. I need to wait until tomorrow for real statistics, but I'm sure I'll still be just an "Insignificant Microbe." I can live with that.

And that's all I have for today.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

The days have just been slipping by lately without us getting much done on the homestead. It looks like there will be something scheduled every weekend for the entire summer, so I guess if I get anything done it will be by using vacation days. Of which I have none because I used them all up during our March through Hell last month.

Ah well. There is always next summer.

Jerry Pournelle was busy over the weekend. A good discussion about global warming and what we know vs. what we don't know. We don't know a lot; we know comparatively little, although there are some good people working on some of the questions, so we know more every day. Of course the Kyoto Crowd already knows and anyone that has doubts is evil and works for the oil companies.

The most important question is not, "Is the average temperature higher now than in recent history?" It undeniably is. It is also undeniable that average temperatures have been both higher and lower in historic times. There are dairy farms and vineyards buried under Greenland's glaciers. Glaciers also built most of the hills I see out of my office window here in Traverse City, Michigan.

The important questions are:

Is this is a bad thing? Is a longer growing season really that horrible? Just how much coastline actually goes under water?

How fast will this happen? Indications are that warming trends take centuries to play out. There is no evidence to support waking up one morning to find the entire eastern seaboard under water. In past warming periods, it's more like the gradual sinking of Venice; there is time for accommodation to be made. Is this time different? Why? Please show your work.

Are we sure we are even seeing long-term global warming? The same people who make up much of the Kyoto sky-is-falling crowd were just as convinced back when I was in high school that we were heading for an ice age. So which is it? Please show your work. Anyone can have an opinion; I do, you do, my coworkers do, the guy that makes my pizza does. I want to see real data, real models (that work), real theories (testable, falsifiable); not arm-waving and name-calling.

Jerry also dives back into the debate about IQ or "g" or whatever. Our "leaders" tell us we are all the same, that perceived differences in ability are just our imagination, or our bigotry, or defects in Western culture. Yea, and there might really be an Easter Bunny too, but excuse me if I don't structure my entire existence around that chance.

On a related note: here is a prioritized list of the world's problems. Notice that the most wide-spread and most serious problems are the easiest and cheapest to fix. The money wasted on the Kyoto conference alone could have made a huge dent in (if not fixed entirely) any one of the top four items on the list. I remember an analysis years ago in US News and World Report about the EPA forcing corporations to spend 10's of millions to reduce the risk of cancers that kill one or two people a year, while county road crews didn't have the few thousand dollars to put up guard rail along a section of Highway 1 that kills a dozen people a year.

Today's blog is brought to you by the word, "Priorities."

That's all I have for now.
This is what I was listening to on the way to work this morning:

Oh, life is bigger
It's bigger than you
And you are not me
The lengths that I will go to
The distance in your eyes
Oh no, I've said too much
I set it up

That's me in the corner
That's me in the spotlight, I'm
Losing my religion
Trying to keep up with you
And I don't know if I can do it
Oh no, I've said too much
I haven't said enough
I thought that I heard you laughing
I thought that I heard you sing
I think I thought I saw you try

Every whisper
Of every waking hour I'm
Choosing my confessions
Trying to keep an eye on you
Like a hurt lost and blinded fool, fool
Oh no, I've said too much
I set it up
Consider this
Consider this
The hint of the century
Consider this
The slip that brought me
To my knees failed
What if all these fantasies
Come flailing around
Now I've said too much
I thought that I heard you laughing
I thought that I heard you sing
I think I thought I saw you try

But that was just a dream
That was just a dream

Losing My Religion

Hint of the century indeed....

Friday, June 10, 2005

In a somewhat lighter vein than of late:

I installed Xandros 3.0 Business Edition for the first time last night. It wasn't perfectly smooth, but it was no worse than a Windows install. The best part is that it worked, and seems to be running very well. I will be using it for my main machine for a while just to make sure it will do everything I need it to do. I have several Windows applications that I need to get running under the (included) Windows emulator, and a couple open source products that I need to download and install the Linux version of. Today on the way home, I will be grabbing a couple 100Mb Ethernet cards. I need to upgrade the 10Mb one in our firewall, and install one in the new Xandros box. Once that is done and known working, I will switch Nestina's machine to Xandros as well. Last but not least, I will switch over the laptop. At that point, I am Microsoft free. I abandoned Office years ago for OpenOffice, and Internet Explorer is only on my laptop so I could use the Windows update site. I don't need that now that Microsoft added automatic updates to Win2K, but it is too hard to uninstall to bother with at this point. When Windows goes away, so will IE.

First impressions: I don't have a good monitor, so I can't really judge the video, but it certainly looks as good as XP here at work. It loads very quickly and the response while I was playing around with it was crisp. As a life-long Microsoft user, I was instantly familiar with how it works. The list of applications that comes with the Business Edition includes almost anything I can think of that I would ever need except a few things. I expect to find those on the internet.

I need to get my big penguin out in the yard tonight to celebrate the coming invasion at the Frost household. This looks like it could be fun.
I was recently sent a link to an article by Debbie's cousin Kate, that was published in the Ann Arbor News. Here is a related article from the Washington Post. Figuring out why they are related is left as an exercise for the reader.

Affirmative action: The premise that certain minorities (not all; in fact only Blacks and Hispanics) are inherently inferior to everyone else.

That's my view of affirmative action. Use as many words as you need to prove that I am incorrect in my view. And just so we can get it out of the way: Yes, yes, I'm a racist pig that thinks slavery and Jim Crow were good ideas. I beat my wife and daughter like drums three times a day. I torture puppies. I'm so busy being oppressive, I barely have time to sexually harass my female (and sometimes, male) coworkers. Now, do you have anything to say other than name calling?

Some details in what will likely turn out to be a not-very-well-organized essay.

The Ann Arbor not-really-News article states that the Black acceptance rate to Harvard would drop from 34 to 12 percent, and the Hispanic acceptance rate would drop from 27 to 13 percent if affirmative action were to end. White admissions would stay the same, and Asian admissions would replace the Blacks and Hispanics.

Now, lets look at this "news" from several angles.

First, who benefits from ending affirmative action? Whites, right? I mean, affirmative action was created to address systemic exclusion of Blacks by Whites (it was only later that Hispanics were added in). Presumably, the lowest scoring incoming Whites get knocked off the ladder to make room for Blacks that just barely didn't qualify. Except that isn't what is happening. Exceptionally bright Asians are being denied entry into Harvard to make room for provably unqualified Blacks and Hispanics. So Asians are being punished because (long-dead) Whites were mean to (long dead) Blacks. No wonder Asians hate Blacks. (If you doubt this, look up the details of the latest LA riots. Or have an honest conversation with an Asian immigrant.)

Second point: This article doesn't talk about it, but it really doesn't matter what percentage of incoming freshman at Harvard are Black, I can guarantee that no where near that percentage ever graduate. To start with, using this study's own numbers, 2/3 of them shouldn't even be there and, thus, are not capable of doing the work. They would likely excel in a second-tier or state university, but instead, they get pummeled and eventually drop out. The low graduation rates gives the Black "community" something else to complain about and blame on Whites. The universities respond by inflating grades; hence the second article I linked to above.

Point three: If you want to get into a a top-tier university, you actually have to do some work in high school. The Black "community" does not value education. Instead, Black "heroes" invariably are thugs or criminals that play basketball, or think they are musicians because they can grunt rhythmically and incoherently into a microphone. Many say that White "oppression" prevents Blacks from doing well academically in high school.

So lets look at a shining example of what Blacks do when there are no Whites around to oppress them.

Washington D.C. has a Black mayor, an all-Black city council, an all-Black school board, nearly-all-Black school administrators and teachers, and a nearly-all-Black student body. Per-pupil spending is double the national average at well over $10,000 per student.

What do the D.C. schools produce? The worst test scores in the nation. One of the highest drop-out rates in the nation. One of the highest teen-pregnancy rates in the nation. One of the highest on-campus crime rates in the nation. By nearly every measure, D.C. schools are at or near the bottom in the nation.

Wow. I'm in awe of the Black "community." So is one of its own.

I will repeat: if you expect to get into a top-tier school, you have to excel while taking the hardest classes you can find in high school. That's what the Asian and White kids do to get into Harvard. If that is beyond you, then maybe you shouldn't be in Harvard.

I could say a lot more, but I'm probably already in enough trouble. Fortunately, I left the Black "community" a couple hundred miles away, and moved someplace that has never heard of it. For now. But even if the Black "community" finds me, that's OK; the world is full of places that don't have malls.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Fifty million dead because of a stupid, boneheaded move based on emotion rather than fact. Logic would say we need to revisit the issue. But we are, of course, no longer logical.
Just in case there is still one breathing person with an IQ over 60 that believes feminism has anything to do with equality, here is a little reading assignment. Go ahead. It's just eight little sentences made up of mostly short words. I'm sure the feminazis over a NOW will be all over this; demanding the immediate release of Gerardo Flores in the name of equality of the genders before the law.

Any minute now.

Aaaaaany time.




Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Harvard has fixed its problem of too few women in science and math. Read it and weep for the once-flagship school of our university system. I don't know about anyone else, but I will never again mistake a Harvard graduate for an educated person.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

More on a discussion a while back on innate ability vs. interest. Fred is looking at race, but if you look at the names, you will find support for a gender difference as well.

A co-worker just observed that while we sit in our cubes and fill out endless forms measuring our time in 60 different ways (with about half our time being used to record our time), the Chinese are eating our lunch.

I guess I need to learn to eat with chopsticks.
Before I get on some sort of roll here (which I'm sure I will), I need to take care of some business.

First, the final record for the Lady Blazers soccer team this year was 12-3-2. Woo hoo!! Awesome work, ladies!!

Also, I need to vent a little. I'm trying to get maps. That doesn't sound hard until you try to do it. Mapquest and Yahoo Maps are both DOA, not because of their servers, but because DoubleClick can't deliver the banner ads without causing a five-minute delay loading the page. Now I understand the need for websites to generate revenue, but first off, I don't know anyone that buys things from a banner ad. That should indicate that whoever is buying advertising needs to refocus their efforts. Second, it's bad enough I have to suffer through a bunch of graphics crap downloading, then animating all over what I'm trying to read, but when I have to sit for five minutes in front of a computer while nothing happens because DoubleClick's ad servers are inadequate to the task, excuse me if I get a little testy.

And yes, I feel better. Thanks for asking.

And some good news in the mail today: Nestina received a letter from a friend in the National Guards. He became a believer on May 22! Welcome to the family of God, Dan!!

I mentioned the Larry Summers bruha a couple postings ago. Here is a good summary of what he said, and more importantly, what he did not say. Notice that the bottom line is that he was threatened with termination for making an observation that anyone with an IQ above 60 should be able to make. But the emperor has no cloths, and we are forbidden on pain of death from pointing that out.

Sometimes when I write about religious topics or get into religious discussions, it can get pretty lonely-feeling at times. Then I read something like this and feel like I've found another soul on the same path as myself. I find myself moving in a more primitive and mystic direction than anything that I've been taught. I'm not so much changing my beliefs as I am changing my emphasis; stressing the basics as taught in Scripture and practiced in the early church, rather than evangelical traditions and rituals. And yes, there are as many traditions and rituals in the typical evangelical church as any Roman Catholic service. If you doubt that, consider this: where did the New Testament come from? That's right. Church tradition. Worse, Roman Catholic Church tradition, which evangelicals denounce tirelessly (or is that tiresomely?). I could go on for pages, but today I want to write pages about something else.

And this is the stupid quote of the year:

"We've been attacked by the intelligent, educated segment of the culture."
- Ray Mummert, creationist from Dover, Pennsylvania, 2005

Which makes you what exactly, Mr. Mummert? The unintelligent and uneducated segment? Please explain why, other than the typical Christian's preference for ignorance over knowledge, I would listen to unintelligence and ignorance over intelligence and knowledge? People like this just make my job that much harder....

And it is getting very late, but I will try to tackle the comment left on Friday's Post. [Editor's Note: I fell asleep on my keyboard, so this ended up being posted on Tuesday instead.]

Free will is, in my opinion, one of the most difficult areas of Christianity to tackle. Christian teachings tend to fall into one of two extremes. Both of these extremes have held the upper hand at various times and in various denominations. I don't believe either is entirely correct (big surprise, that).

In the extreme free will camp, God is essentially helpless while we people make all the important decisions. That's stating it in a deliberately provocative way, but no matter how you dance around it, any level of human free will plays havoc with God's sovereignty.

The ditch on the other side of the road solves one theological problem only to introduce a new one. Strict predestination makes God absolute sovereign, but also makes him a petty one that burns people in hell for all eternity for simply following their (God-ordained) path.

To bring this back to the topic of demon possession and the control of the Holy Spirit: Does a demon-possessed person have free will? Are they responsible for their actions? Does a person under the control of the Holy Spirit have free will?

First, it is clear from Scripture that being under the control of the Holy Spirit is voluntary. I decide to yield control in the same way I yield control when I board an airplane. I simply get on, sit down, shut up, and trust that I will get where my ticket says in one piece. As importantly, (unlike my airline analogy) I can take control back at will.

So much for the easy case.

What about demon possession? Does a person decide to yield to demonic control the same way that I decide to submit to the Holy Spirit's control? The pat answer would be "Yes," but pat answers are seldom correct or complete. Again, referring to the best description we have of someone that is demon possessed (Mark 9:17-29 ; the epileptic), the key verse for our discussion is Mark 9:21. Jesus asks how long the boy had been afflicted and the father replies "Since childhood." That doesn't sound like something done voluntarily, although the term "childhood" is somewhat nebulous. But can a child be said to truly submit to anything?

I was saved at a very young age (7) and I know of others that claim salvation at even younger ages. I have to be honest and say that the older I get, the less convinced I am that I had a clue what I was doing. Like all children, I was a master at telling the adults around me whatever made them happy, but I'm not sure it was much more than that. On the flip side then, can a child be truly said to submit to demonic control? Mark seems to be saying that no one was responsible for the demon possession other than the demon. In no other specific case of demon possession in the New Testament do we see the demoniac in any way held responsible for becoming possessed. That seems to pretty much kill any version of free will I can think of, if random demon(s) can possess people without their consent.

This also raises an interesting juxtaposition: The Holy Spirit can only control me if I allow, but demons/Satan can take control of anyone, anytime? Hmmm.

So what about salvation? Did I really choose to be saved? Not, it seems, according to the New Testament (Romans 9:10-18, Romans 16:13, Galations 1:13-17). I know all the arguments about cultural context; that people in the first century considered their lives to be driven by fate. A person was born slave or free, Roman or subject, Jew or Gentile, man or woman, and that was that. Your life was determined. So Paul's words would not have caused the slightest stir when they were written. Western civilization has put the individual in the driver's seat. My fate is what I make it to be. Again, like Jesus treating an epileptic as demon-possessed, we can rationalize these teachings away as being culturally specific. But I can rationalize away nearly every instruction in the Bible that way. Where does it end?

In practice, we just pick and choose. In 1 Corinthians 11:5-7, Paul issues a direct command that women are to have their head covered, which is completely ignored in Western churches. Yet, evangelical churches take 1 Timothy 2:11-14 seriously to the point that any church that allows women to teach will all burn in hell forever. At least if evangelicals get their way, which we know that us and God; we be tight.

But to get back to my point: I have been asking since Junior High why the 1 Corinthian passage is ignored as cultural, yet the 1 Timothy passage is not. I was told all the way through school that I didn't have enough knowledge of the Bible to understand and just trust the smart people. Well, I'm forty years old. I've read the Bible cover-to-cover numerous times in nearly every English translation. I'm certainly no Greek scholar, but I can muddle through the original texts passably well. I spent $20K on Christian undergraduate education. My IQ lands somewhere between 135 and 140, so I'm not exactly a moron. I still don't see the difference. Women wearing hats in church (something my great-grandmother insisted on) has fallen out of fashion and no one is going start teaching otherwise, because the church building would empty if they tried.

So where does all this leave us? Nowhere comfortable, that's for certain. I see slippery slopes in every direction. On the one hand we have an impersonal God, Newton's Cosmological Watchmaker, that set everything up and now just sits and watches it run. On the other, we have a hands-on, active God who lovingly decides to send the vast majority of people to hell for all eternity. Any attempt to wiggle out of those two options lands us in the quicksand; we have to abandon either Biblical literalism or God's sovereignty. Or both.

As I said: free will is one of the most challenging aspects of Christianity.

Friday, June 03, 2005

Once again, this started as a comment and spun out of control; this time to a post over at the Not-So Bionic Woman.

Like many of the topics I bring up in youth group, demon possession is one that I really don't have good answers for. Here are some random thoughts:


Reading the New Testament, one gets the impression that there was a demoniac on every street corner. Jesus practically trips over them everywhere he goes. And, as Lindsey pointed out, it wasn't just Jews or Christians that identified people as demoniacs, but pagans as well. To me, this would indicate something cultural, especially when we don't see the same emphasis in the Old Testament. Was demon activity especially high during Jesus' ministry and the early church, or was there something in the Hellenistic world view that tended to ascribe anything unusual or eccentric to demon possession? If the answer is yes to the first, then I would follow up by asking "As evidenced by what, other than demoniacs (diagnosed by fishermen and other highly qualified individuals) littering the streets of Jerusalem?" If it is yes to the second, evangelicals have some theological issues to hammer out. If the answer to both questions is no, then evangelicals best get cracking on finding all the missing demoniacs.

Medical explanations

One of the instances described in the gospels as demon possession is clearly epilepsy. Several others can also have medical explanations attached to them. In fact, based on the Biblical description, treating epilepsy as demon possession was something that occurred routinely until the last century or so. One common explanation is that Jesus was simply operating in the culture he found himself in. Rather than be side-tracked by lengthy medical explanations, he just "went with the flow" and "cast out the demon" even though he was really healing epilepsy or a brain tumor or whatever. The only problem is that Jesus spoke to the demons. That seems more than just accommodation of the local world view. There was no reason for Jesus to speak to non-existent demons, unless he was perpetuating (and in fact providing proof of) a falsehood, or was himself ignorant of what he was dealing with. Obviously, either explanation presents some theological issues, to say the least.

Another thought before we move on: does this mean that phenobarbital can control demons? I'm not sure the typical evangelical teachings on spirit beings can survive a "Yes" answer.

How Satan works

Personally, if I were Satan (and I am sure there are those that would suspect that I am), why would I make a big scene and draw attention to what I am trying to do? During youth group Wednesday, C. S. Lewis's Screwtape Letters was brought up. If you have ever read that book, the picture of Satan that is portrayed is one of incredible subtlety. Let's get specific: What would do the most damage in your typical church? Someone clearly a few french fries short of a Happy Meal running into the Sunday morning service screaming and yelling, or a really vicious church gossip? Maybe the reason we don't routinely identify demoniacs today is that we are looking for the wrong thing.

And for the record, I've witnessed both. The later does far more lasting damage.

Our culture

The ideas of our day are largely shaped by Hollywood, and demon possession is no exception. The mere mention of demon possession in even Christian circles will immediately bring to every mind images of girls with spinning heads and projectile vomit that speak Latin in a sinister male voice. In other words, anyone who takes demon possession seriously is immediately categorized with the tin-foil-hat crowd. Adding to the image of demon-possession-believer-equals-crank-fundamentalist are the actual cranks who relate everything they don't like to demon possession. Homosexuals are demon possessed. Democrats are demon possessed. The Rock Music Beat (tm) makes it easier for people to be demon possessed. Linda Lovelace could only do what she did in her porn movie Deepthroat because a demon suppressed her gag reflex. And on and on and on.

I know these people mean well, but please shut up and let the adults in the room talk!!! Sorry. Didn't mean to yell.

[Aside: Seeing that movie as an impressionable high school student is why recent newspaper headlines make me giggle uncontrollably.]

Does it matter?

I like an intellectual exercise as much as the next person, but I think that Christians get side-tracked onto relatively unimportant issues. Non-believers quickly get bored with the whole exercise and walk away. During our last board meeting, a question was raised asking if there were any deacons that did not agree with the church's pre-tribulation rapture doctrine. (If you don't know what that is, don't worry. I'd bet half the members of the church don't know either.) This is the perfect example of what I am talking about. As believers, we have a job to do, given to us by Jesus himself. Teach the gospel, baptize believers, then equip them to go and do the same. Not endlessly divide God's Church over irrelevant questions of doctrine like the exact timing of the rapture or demonology.

Is there evil active in this world? I definitely believe there is. Is the vast majority of the evil I see the result of simple human cussedness, rather than direct action by Satan? I would say yes. Is there such a thing as demonic influence? I would again say yes, simply because I can't understand how a human can casually order millions to their deaths (ie. Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot). I would also admit that that belief is based more on not wanting to accept that such evil could possibly come from a human acting independently (which, by extension, makes it possible for me to commit horrible evil). I can more easily keep my moral superiority if it is not possible for me to act like Stalin, et. al.


I don't really have one other than, "I don't know." I would also add that other than an interesting intellectual exercise, "I don't really care." I have contact with hundreds of people a day crushed by life and living in mental and spiritual anguish. That is my focus.

And another long post.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Update on Uncle Lyle:

He is off all life support, but is still having a lot of difficulty breathing. He has instructed the hospital to not put him back on life support. At this point, if he makes it the next 24 hours, he should be OK.

Again, thanks to all for the thoughts and prayers.
At last, I have a moment.

We are still catching our breath around here after this weekend (and eating left-overs).

For any of the Frost's out there that may not have gotten the word; Lyle Frost was admitted to the hospital Tuesday night. Due to oxygen deprivation from breathing problems, he was paralyzed, didn't know anyone, etc., and was put on a respirator. Last night, he was doing much better. He was conscious for a while, seemed to know everyone, responded to questions, and was able to move his arms and legs. He is due to be off the respirator this morning, if everything looks good. I'll try to update here as I get news.

Tonight I have to return all the borrowed tables to their proper homes, and then I think we are done. There is still a bunch of stuff to get organized around here, like getting Nestina set up for college in the fall and in a job, cleaning out the garage so at least two of the cars can be inside, yard work, road and trail maintenance, etc. Nothing big.

Anyway, I have to go to the doctor and see if he can fix me. I'm supposed to be on praise team Sunday morning and I cannot even talk right now.

More later.