Sunday, December 13, 2009

December

I haven't posted in a while.

Business has been horrifically off this year. I've made less money than I did when I was 29, which at 49 years and 263 days old is extraordinarily depressing. I'm very good at what I do. My peers generally recognize that fact. My firm has had more business than many others in our field.

It still hasn't been enough. Add to that, despite all of the free time that lack of work has afforded me, I've accomplished nothing. I really could not tell you what I did last Monday.

One thought keeps going round and round in my head. Should I see a doctor about getting medicated? There are some excellent non-addictive anti-depressants out there. But I have seen too many doctors this year, I don't think I could bear seeing another one. Add to that, if business turns around, I will not continue being depressed. Anti-depressants are great if there's an organic reason for being depressed. They are not such a good idea if the depression has other causes.

The other part to that is that despite inflation and an overall rise in real estate prices since I started doing this, our fees have actually gone down. When I first started doing this most title examiners in Georgia were either law students (like me) or lawyers. These days only a small minority have a legal background. The prospects for my field are not great.

At age (almost) 50, I need to make a move. I need to generate more business or I need to switch fields. My problem is that I hate practising law. If I have to, I will, but the whole wearing a suit and tie and giving advice that will be ignored and not getting paid for said ignored advice palled two decades ago. I have excellent computer skills and I am a great researcher. But my l33t compy skillz are non-academic and graduate students are the preferred researchers. We all know how well paid grad students are as well.

I'm a decent writer in a job market flooded with writers who have proven work records.

So I'm stuck. One consolation is that there have been others who have been mired in much the same place. I have been reading St Augustine recently. He battled with depression as well. Boethius, who wrote the first self-help bestseller, had similar problems. Actually his were worse what with the whole imprisoned and executed thing. John Bunyan wrote about the 'Slough of Despond'. He knew its geography well.

The trick is finding the path through the mire. The problem is the silence when I ask for help.

/rambling

Monday, November 16, 2009

Thursday, November 12, 2009

What Repentance Looks Like

Some Hillary supporters have seen the light. And the country is better for it.

My problem with an awful lot of those who backed Obama is the need for them to deify the man. It's one thing to say "I support X because he is for more of the policies I support than the other guy is". It's another to speak of X as embodying hope and change.

Obama did bring change on some levels. But the stuff I hoped he would change (the selling of American government, throwing money at problems, deficit spending, general wastefulness and extravangance) he did not. And what he did change is what I hoped he would not (appeasement as the basis for foreign policy, resurrection of health care as a federal issue, higher taxes, stupid (ie corrupt) stimulus, Keynesian economics).

For the sake of our country, I hope he learns fast. But his instinctual coddling of dictators (Castro, Kim, Chavez) tells me that such behaviour is not easily unlearned.

{H/T Clifford}

Friday, November 06, 2009

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Dede Scozzafava

The Fox and the Grapes

A FAMISHED FOX saw some clusters of ripe black grapes hanging
from a trellised vine. She resorted to all her tricks to get at
them, but wearied herself in vain, for she could not reach them.
At last she turned away, hiding her disappointment and saying:
"The Grapes are sour, and not ripe as I thought."

Dont Copy Europes Mistakes

Some good points.

Time For a Coffee Break

Saturday, October 31, 2009

In Honour of Reformation Day



There's a holiday for everything apparently.....

A Very Scary Idea

I admit Linux is very customizable. But this crosses the line. Some things are not meant to be.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Monday, October 26, 2009

Cap And Trade Bedtime Story

I love these guys...

Home Remedy

We were at a wedding this past weekend down in Charleston SC. A grand time was had by all, but I came home with my own wedding present, a cold. I know it's a cold because I had a scheduled doctor's appointment this morning and the doctor told me in a voice redolent with medical authority that I had a cold.

I've already had quite a few wasabi peas. Chicken soup is incoming.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Core of Personal Theology

Currently there are two forms of theology loose in the world.

The first is what I call personal relativism. This is most popular in the US. It can be summed up as "I define who God is, and therefore what the world is like." A lot of the self-help, empowerment crowd seem to believe this.

The second, and this is popular in the modern Episcopal Church, is corporate relativism. "We define who and what God is, and therefore the nature of the world."

My view: "God defines me. What I know about the world is what He has told me."

I'm not humble. But I do know pride is a sin.

Political Quote For the Year

Sen. Everett Dirksen: "When I feel the heat, I see the light."

We need more like him.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Our Tax Dollars At Work

The ATF has announced a new task force. Is it to find thieves? no. Put a stop to illegal gun sales? no. Keep explosives out of the hands of terrorists? no.

The job of the new task force is to find out which ATF employee is vandalising the headquarters bathrooms.

You really can't make this stuff up.

Monday, October 19, 2009

An Interesting Sermon

I think this sermon by the Rev. Dr George Regas says a great deal about not only the state of the Episcopal Church, but also of the United States. It's an interesting view of who we are, who God is and what God expects from us. Of course, he's wrong on every point, but it's interesting to see how such a denial of reality can even temporarily triumph.

The Rev. Dr Regas is the former long time rector of All Saints, Pasadena, home of Ed Bacon and Susan Russell.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

There Have Been Complaints

About the music featured on this blog.

Just this once, I'm yielding to the mob. Here's a nice video featuring three lovely ladies (all clad), two violins and one set of drums. Enjoy!

Goverment Insanity (XVII)

Depending upon where you live, you may be able to buy a golf cart for free. That is, the tax credits you get for buying an electric vehicle could be equal to or greater than the cost of the cart.

This is what you get when you ram through giant money bills through Congress without any sort of review. It's great news for golf cart manufacturers, not so great news for those of us who are paying for it all.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

A Good Grudge

As my friends and relations know, I yield to no one when it comes to harbouring resentment and nursing grudges.

Which is why this post by the Anchoress hit one out of the park today. Loving your enemies is truly where the rubber hits the road for us Christians. It is also the hardest thing for me to do, by a long shot.

The problem is that you can not just say, once, "I forgive" and move on. The loser who unjustly vilified my wife still causes flashes of extreme anger in me, and she has been retired now for three years. Letting go the blind fury, not giving into it, is easily the hardest thing I have ever had to do. Even though it is the right thing to do.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

October Computer Building

One of my hobbies is building computers, so from time to time I like to build concept machines. This being October, a young man's fancy turns to computer gaming. I generally price things out at Newegg. Their prices are generally competitive and the reviews are top notch.

Much like the divide between Windows and Macs, computer builders are divided between those who like Intel processors and those who like AMD processors. Because I am a CPU agnostic, I have described a build for each denomination.

The Intel Build
I7-860 Lynnfield 2.8 GHz CPU $289.99
Asus P7P55D LGA motherboard $149.99
EVGA Geforce 260 GTX video $189.99
Seagate Barracuda 1 TB HD $79.99
NZXT Alpha case $59.99
Corsair 750w power supply $119.99
Sony DVD player $31.99
OCZ memory (4 gigs) $71.99

Total: $993.92

The AMD Build
AMD Phenom II X4 940 Deneb CPU $169.99
Gigabyte GA-MA770-UD3 motherboard $74.99
EVGA Geforce 260 GTX video $189.99
Seagate Barracuda 1 TB HD $79.99
NZXT Alpha case $59.99
Corsair 750w power supply $119.99
Sony DVD player $31.99
OCZ memory (4 gigs) $71.99

Total: $798.92

I recommend Ubuntu as an OS, but if you must have Windows, you can find Windows Vista Home Premium for around $109. This includes the free upgrade to Win 7 when it ships (later this month).

There is also a divide between NVidia and ATI for video cards. I do not like ATI, for a variety of reasons, right now. So I did not include their cards in my consideration. That will likely change in the near future.

Right now, the AMD build is more affordable, but IMHO the Intel build offers better upgrade potential for the future. Both builds have some nice rebates hidden away. I never include mail-in rebates as part of the cost as there is no certainty that you will ever get the money.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Health Insurance Tax

Am I the only one who has a problem with fining/taxing people who have no insurance or insurance deemed inadequate?

While there may very well be a small number of contrary minded scofflaws, the vast majority of people who will be liable for the tax will be the working poor. That is, the hard-working people who just miss the cut-off for government assistance.

Just who exactly does such a tax help?

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

New Fave



Sam Nielsen is my new favourite artist. Here's why. And he is apparently coming out with a book. I've already started saving my shekels....

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Unkind Theory

I was reading the Anglican Curmudgeon's blog the other day when this thought struck me. One of the catch phrases of the modern Episcopal Church is that you do not need to 'check your brain at the door'. However, very few of the leadership actually seem to be employing their brains for thought. Common sense and logic are typically not welcome

What sort of person wants others to bring their brains but not use them?

The only answer that fits is of course zombies.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Captain!

The monitor canna take any more cuteness, the pixels they're going ta overload!

Friday, October 02, 2009

Congrats to all Chicagoans

No sarcasm either. As an Atlantan believe me when I tell you that you really didn't want the Olympics. The Olympics are great for pols and media flacks, but not so for normal people.

Y'all really dodged a bullet.

Friday Palate Cleanser

Fun with legos. Just amazing.

The Gentle Art of Disagreement

From StandFirm:

A poster named BabyBlue: "Oh yes he is our friend, Matt."

The rejoinder by Matt Kennedy: " Hi bb, oh no he’s not"

This struck me as the entire Internet summed into two lines.


Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Astroturf vs Grass Roots

Here is a useful link to lefty organisations, some real; grass roots, most only astro turf.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Best Fisking Ever



Please view the other three on Youtube.

Modern Compromise

Just a little ditty by Jonathan Coulton that summarizes how compromise works these days.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

There Is A Reason

Fark has a separate category entitled Florida.

Note the use of one of my favourite words in the comments. Any post that generates the word 'lollygag' in a comment is a win.

And Fark has the video!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Oh This Will End Well

Because catering to dictators and appeasing tyrants always works. The hallmark of a diplomatic clown is when the sole benefit of a deal is that it will make the aggressor feel better.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Best Music Video About Marriage

John Prine and Iris DeMent

Made a Difference

Norman Borlaug died. He was one of the few great men. His impact on our world was profound. He will be missed.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Why

We were invited to a cook out. In all due modesty I make decent brownies, so they asked me to bring brownies. For reasons I'm not going to explain we aren't going to the cook out. I still made the brownies.

My excuse is that I had already melted the butter and choclate by the time we knew we were not going. But still......

I'm using the 'Brownies Cockaigne' recipe from the good edition of the Joy of Cooking.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Retro Eye Candy




From 1966. When I saw this movie in re-runs on television a few years later, I realized that women were nifty.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Gluttony

Inspired by Top Chef, we ate at the Woodfire Grill tonight. Sally and I both agreed that the scallop was the single best scallop we had ever had. I had the tasting menu and Sally had the chicken.

We waddled out replete. I'm still burping the candied bacon (that is a good thing).

One of the essentials to forgiveness of sins is repentance.

I think Edith Piaf summed up our current frame of mind quite well:

Friday, August 28, 2009

Lesson in Important Life Skills

Here at Billy Ockham we strive ceaselessly to help improve the quality of life for everyone. With that in mind this link is to an important instructional video.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Cry Like A Man

There's one line in one movie that can get me misty in an instant.

"Stand up, Miss Jean Louise. Your father's passing."

That will be all.

Mom Was Right

Comics books lead to a bad end.

From Tam

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The Purpose of Theology

I posted the following as a comment over at Wannabe's.

Modern theology does not consist of valuing modern thought above ancient, rather it values the conclusion first and foremost. Reason, Scripture and Tradition are valued only to the extent they enable the seeker to reach the desired conclusion.

So if Scripture helps you reach the conclusion that man made global warming is the number one priority for the modern church, then Scripture is of value. If modern thought does not help, or hinders, then it is of no worth.

Theology has been reduced to rationalizing decisions reached by other means.

Smile of the Day




From here.

The Manliness of Minivans

James Joyner asks "Can a real man drive a minivan?" and rightly answers that masculinity has nothing to do with possessions. Manliness has to do with responsibility first and foremost.

Which brings up a good point. All too often I hear adolescents equate their self worth with the stuff they own. As we get older most of us figure out just how shallow that is. But I know adults that still derive part of their identity from their possessions. You may tell how sensitive and caring they are by the high percentage of recyclable materials they wear or because their new ride is a hybrid. An aging man may buy a fancy sports car to prop up his self esteem. An aging woman indulges in plastic surgery to prove to herself that she still has it.

I'm conflicted because I'm a huge fan of capitalism. But I am not a fan of its evil twin materialism. The free market has been and remains the single best way to distribute goods and services. Materialism is in its essence the worship of Mammon.

Classic theology tells us that there are no unmixed blessings in this mortal coil. Where there is love, jealousy and envy follow. Where there is honesty, pride and stubbornness accompany. Our villains have great virtues and our heroes have hidden vices. So the question isn't whether the free market is bad (it isn't). The question is how do we wean ourselves away from the desire of material possessions?

The failure to decouple the one from the other is a historical failure of the Church writ large in recent decades by the ubiquity of marxist thought. It is this failure that has resulted in great damage done by the modern church. More on that later.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Friday, August 21, 2009

This day in history



Banastre Tarleton was born today.

Two notes about Francis Marion.

I really dislike the Disney show.

Here in Georgia folks are prone to claiming descent from a Cherokee princess. In South Carolina the same sort make the same claim about Francis Marion. The Cherokee had no royalty, so they didn't have princesses. Francis Marion had no known descendants. Oddly enough, neither did Banastre Tarleton.

On a side note, several people on a mailing list I read were claiming some sort of connection with William Porcher DuBose. What made that amusing was how tenuous and strained their reaching became. I went to high school and college with Dede Dubose, who happens to be his granddaughter. Her brother Billy graduated from Sewanee in 1977 and lives in South Carolina.
That's a legitimate connection, if you will.

Much Needed Video



I first learned this hymn at an Urbana conference when I was in college. We sang it a capella then. Every time I hear this it brings back so many memories.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Monopoly

Really nice guitar instrumental by Leo Kottke.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Best Recipe for Sunday Chicken



God Bless Ernie Kovacs

High Church Rock Band?

"Boys Can Cry" by the Catholic Girls

The High Standard of Journalism

The Washington Post has a story today about a town hall meeting at Towson University in Maryland. What's striking is that the reporter's voice purports to be objective until this sentence in the fourth paragraph "I, being an outspoken sort, carried a sign backing health-care reform and decided to mix with the opposition crowd."

The reporter, of course, accuses his opponents of spreading lies and misinformation, while he of course speaks with straight tongue.

I do not object to a partisan press. I do object, strongly, to a press that wants to have it both ways, as advocates and as disinterested observers.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Artist at work

The picture is the cover of Warbreaker, a novel by Brandon Sanderson.

Saturday DYI



From here.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

But is it a power for good?

My Friend Albie is Scary

Yankee Cowards

It seems that Yale University Press is printing a book about the Danish Mohammed cartoons that doesn't actually have the cartoons themselves in it. Normally, that's a book I'd consider buying, but as it now stands, not so.

What do they do with all those gonads after they remove them in New Haven? How do they recycle them?

On a side note, it's a testament to free enterprise that Benjamin Moore and Sherwin-Williams can sell so much yellow paint in Connecticut and still keep the rest of the country supplied with all the other colours of the visible spectrum.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Best Political Comment So Far

Our downtown commuter university, Georgia State is opening a freshman dorm. Red State mogul Erick Erickson wrote: "On the bright side, the freshmen will be able to take their keg parties inside now and not have legislators drink all the booze on the street."

From here.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Best Author Blurb Ever

Chuck Norris has an editorial about Obamacare over at Townhall. Go and read it if you feel inclined. The 'About the author' blurb at the bottom reads, and I quote: "Chuck Norris is a columnist and impossible to kill."

I think that says it all, right there.

A Song About Reason and Compromise with Middle Management



Addendum: Cliff apparently knows the same people I do. It really is a small world after all.

Tuesday Jazz

Rhapsody in Blue by Gershwin

Part 1


and part 2

Monday, August 10, 2009

Public Plan Proposal

It's not about choice. It was never about choice. It's about eliminating choice.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

He Reached Down - Iris DeMent

Enjoy

Micro Blogmeet

Last night Sally and I got together with Zana and her philosopher to see the Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged). We had a grand time. We traded some Mountain news, discussed the state of philosophy as a profession, and learned we have curious similarities as to desired beach destinations.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Rage Filled Blog

I recently was accused of having 'rage filled blog', which is apparently an astro-turf talking point.

For the record, I think I've only blogged angry once. Generally I'm in a pretty good mood when I blog.

Now I think I did blog this:



Which is Rage filled, I guess. (Original video here).

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

New Toy

Sally had a minor fender bender recently and we found that our camera was broken. So I ordered a Nikon Coolpix still camera and a Flip Minos video camera. My initial impression of the Flip is that I am gobsmacked. If the bottom of the line performs this well, I hate to think what the top of the line can do. And I have to wonder how long the mainstream media, with their large capital costs, will be able to compete.

Building Demolition Fail

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Sharing the Love




Or, if a picture is worth a thousand words, why am I speechless?

More here

You can thank Andrea Harris for this post.

"Weird Al" Yankovic - CNR

All kinds of musical parody awesomeness.

Charles Nelson Reilly
The White Stripes
Weird Al

Before the Common Era

One of the great changes that has swept academia since I was a college student is the switch from AD to CE and BC to BCE in dating history. AD stands for Anno Domini or 'in the year of the Lord (Jesus Christ)". BC, of course stands for 'Before Christ'. There is strong evidence that the dating system gets the advent of Our Lord wrong. BCE stands for 'Before Common Era' and CE therefore stands for 'Common Era'.

I really do not have a problem with non-Christians using the new system. Were I a Muslim or a Jew, I too would refuse to use a Christian dating system. Doing so elevates a mere man to undeserved significance. I am a Christian, so I refuse to use CE and BCE. It introduces a flasity into dating and removes the true meaning from it. In particular AD is a witness to the continued presence of God. I can make a pretty strong srgument that we really should be marking time from the Resurrection, but the possible (but probably erroneous) birth of Christ is acceptable.

Where it really gets interesting is in the case of purported Christians who use the new system. Academia is pretty rough and tumble and I can understand those who, in the quest for employment or tenure, use the new system. I've been unemployed and the uncertainty that brings can sap the courage.

Which brings me to two scholars. One very well known and one who is candidate to be bishop. Both are priests.

The first is Marilyn McCord Adams, who is a doctor of philosophy, expert in my fave philosopher William of Ockham, progressive apologist, and canon. She's very very smart. She just wants God to learn from her wisdom. She also falls into the trap of using the secular system of dating. So much for boldly proclaiming the Gospel.

The second is a candidate for suffragan bishop of Los Angeles, Rev. John Kirkley has written an interesting fusion of Bible story, revisionist theology and gay bodice ripper. He too believes that God has no place in the time business.

It may seem a little thing, but the little things show where your priorities are. It's very similar to discovering who a person is by the way he treats his subordinates. The Reverends Adams and Kirkley have redefined their job description of 'God botherer' to mean that they bother God, not that God should ever bother them.

Post Script, eminent scholar though she is, the The Rev Dr Canon Adams completely misunderstands Ockham. She is right in almost all of the details and completely wrong as to the totality. Some day, I'll explain exactly why her two volume set on Willy O is overpriced for the content.

Wicked Cool- Volcano edition

From Popehat

More Right, More Free

My Political Views
I am a right social libertarian
Right: 6.4, Libertarian: 4.61

Political Spectrum Quiz


My political views continue to be more rational than those of my fellow citizens. :) My trek towards libertarianism is due to the past three administrations (ie If the clowns are running the circus, then the ringmasters whip had best be made of licorice and his gun had better shoot blanks).

From TexAnglican and The Kraalspace.

Triplets



Couldn't resist

Sunday, August 02, 2009

From the Mouths of Babes and Methodists

Comes truth.

Part of being a recovering Episcopalian is overcoming the jealousy I feel when I view other denominations. The Roman Catholics have the Magisterium, the Methodists have level headed people like the author of the above (who are heard and not discounted), the Lutherans have options. There is no perfect church, but golly why is it that the others have their act together whilst the lunatics are running the Episcopalian asylum?

Impossible Things

I've always wished I could dance like Fred Astaire.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

One Week Later



A response to this.

Sometimes the Internet outdoes itself.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Music for an odd mood

Great Opening



Sometimes we all feel like we're the last defenders of Fort Zinderneuf.

1939 truly was a wonderful year for movies.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Being a Man

I'm working on a long post inspired by this comment (#68) over at StandFirm.

The idea is that stereotypically men define themselves by what they do, women define themselves by their relationships. Being a stereotype, while there is a great deal of truth to it, there is also some falsity.

The problem comes about when we assume a false identity. The drum movement of the last decade is an example of men not being men so much as trying to 'butch up'. Synthetic identity is a good way to self destruction, especially when it comes to something central as sex.

This may take a year or two.

Assuming I get permission from my wife. ;)

Heretical Revisionism!

Pure Gold

Robb Allen found a 'smoking gun' memo that, as he points out, was not only typed, but faxed which doubles its truthiness right there.

I read it, had a good chuckle and forgot it. Then I came back to it and read the comments. Pure bloggy gold, is what they are. Just about every whack job cliche is to be found in them thar comments.

Wednesday Rouser

A Truly Wonderful Confrontation

The opening scene is one of the best showdowns in English literature.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

For William Gates

This just reminds me of him, somehow....

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Friday, July 24, 2009

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The Revenge Business

I'm not a fan of taking revenge, but if you must, this is how it should be done.

Millions for Lawsuits, Not One Penny for Jesus

The recent General Convention of the Episcopal Church did many things. Bottled water is now officially a Bad Thing, for example. One of the more important things it did was eliminate, completely, evangelism from the national budget. Now it's quite possible to argue that was a good thing, given the current nature of Episcopal theology. But, were I a member of the Episcopal Church I would be worried. Evangelism is how churches grow. The money, effort and staffing spent evangelising is an investment in the future.

Certainly, individual dioceses and parishes will spend money on evangelism. Some of them even have officially designated evangelists on staff. But where an organization spends money is clear sign of what its priorities are. What are the Episcopal Church's priorities? Well the only items to see increases in funds were those included under the heading of Presiding Bishop's office. This includes $3 million for litigation and $1 million for disciplining bishops (and possibly other clergy). That's a staggering sum.

Currently, the official position of the Episcopal Church is that only individuals may leave. Diocese, parishes and such may not leave. Also, all property belongs to the national church. The national church has resolutely resisted any attempts by churches to exit with their property.

The problem is, that even if you happen to agree with 815, what argument can be made against allowing a church to buy its own property? In the vast majority of cases of a congregational split, the remnant congregation has been folded. Selling vacant churches is almost always problematic. I'm told St James, Newport is on the waterfront, which makes it extremely valuable, but most of the dissident churches have not been so blessed.

The litigation has been justified as a 'stewardship issue'. I'm just not buying it. Then again neither are the churches in question. A good and wise steward would seek to extract the maximum value for the property. Disregarding any prohibitions against litigation and being totally worldly, the good steward would assess each case on its facts, and litigate when the cast of the suit was well below the value of the property. He would also negotiate whenever possible to get the greatest value for property.

Outside of Central Florida, we haven't seen this. And again, I have to ask: Why?

What, exactly are the priorities of the Episcopal Church?

All signs point to an organization that is trying to stay on an even keel while the ship sinks. The officers and crew seem to just want to stay afloat until they retire. Any thoughts of repairing the damage have been officially cast aside.

Important Stuff: Space in the Near Future

Dale Amon has a great overview of current space efforts, both NASA and private. Well worth reading!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Jo Dee Messina - My give a damn's busted

Just seems apropos, somehow.

Sheer Glee




"These dance points….too accurate for sandpeople. Only Imperial storm troopers are so precise."

Pure. Comedy. Gold.

From here.

Kendall Harmon, You Will be Assimilated

Marcus Borg has been appointed as canon theologian at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral in Portland Oregon. The name of his church is of course deeply ironic in light of his beliefs. He remains a layman, which raised my eyebrows. I understood that canons were priests. Apparently that was an error.

The only other canon theologian of whom I am aware is the Rev. Dr Kendall Harmon of South Carolina. The Rev. Dr. Harmon has been known to blog occasionally, in his spare time.

I would pay good money to witness a live theological smackdown (debate) between the two.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

A Much Needed Amendment

In the wake of several bills being enacted by one or both of the houses of Congress that no one apparently ever read, I think I have come up with a way to see that does not happen again.

I offer the 28th Amendment:

Amendment 28- All Laws to Be Written By Hand

1. From the date of ratification of this Amendment forward, any law passed by the Congress under this Constitution must be hand written entirely by a member or members of Congress. No mechanical, electric or electronic device being permitted to aid such writing.

2. In addition to #1, above, all budgetary, tax, spending or debt laws must be written in a member's blood. The member must be one who voted for the final version.

3. Any law not entirely hand written by a member or members of Congress will be void and without effect.


The third clause is probably superfluous, but I included as you need to give the editors something to remove. Also it hammers home what the effect of non-compliance would be.

If nothing else, this will give Congress something to do other than pester the citizenry. Of course, if we get Universal Health Care, this would also mean that carpal tunnel would be. automatically covered.

Tap: Unwigged and Unplugged



Sometimes you have to revisit the classics.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Worldliness

I've started reading City of God by St Augustine. Today I read his explanation of why both the Christian and the pagan suffer in the world. The pagans suffer because they are under judgment. The baptized suffer because, being too attached to the world, they fall into sin and so are judged.

This is of course completely contrary to the prosperity gospel preached by Crefio Dollar and his ilk. It also sounds quite harsh to my modern ears. That is probably good. We focus too much on the God of Mercy and forget that He is a God of Righteousness.

In modern America I find it entirely too easy to get caught in the 'keeping up with the Joneses' trap. We all need better, shinier bling.

If nothing else, I think this summer's reading will inspire me to get rid of some stuff.

Augustine firmly holds that the world is evil. I'm not so sure that to follow my Saviour I have to loathe the world. Loathe the Prince of the Air, certainly. But the world? I think we, instead, have to prioritize.

Friday, July 17, 2009

The Importance Of An Advanced Degree

When I was a baby lawyer, fresh from law school and was eager and even enthusiastic, I lived in rural South Georgia. As the youngest attorney in my county I was appointed to defend every felon who could not afford an attorney. This brief excursion has left me with a rich storehouse of criminal law stories.

Typically, I would be appointed at arraignment, after the judge heard the accused's plea. The plea was almost always 'not guilty'. I'd then jot down my new client's name and make arrangements with the Sheriff to interview him at the jail. I'd also fill in the blanks on a bunch of defense counsel motions that I would hand to the assistant DA before I left for lunch. Generally he had what I filed for already and simply gave me a copy.

After lunch, I'd sign out of the office and walk the two blocks to the jail. A deputy would bring my clients to me one at a time and lock them in a cell with me. Armed with the documents the ADA gave me, I'd interview the client. I always let them tell me what they thought happened. That gave me a good feel for how credible my client was as a witness.

Nine out of ten times I would hear a cock and bull story that usually ran along the lines of my client was just sitting in his friend's car when his friend, Red, went into the convenience store and emerged five minutes later with a bunch of money. Red then drove away at high speed, but bailed out right before the police pulled the car over. My client then had to switch to the driver's seat to stop the car. I heard this story or one very similar a lot.

I used to joke with the Sheriff as to how bad a job he was doing, what with Red staying on the loose and all.

Now what made this exercise particularly awful was that I would usually have my client's signed confession, in his own handwriting, right below where he had copied out his Miranda warning in longhand. You see, the DA had to give me copies of any statements my client made to the police. That was part of the documents the ADA handed to me.

One time, my client grabbed the confession from me and ripped it into shreds. I then had to explain to him that all he had done was tear up my copy. The DA still had the original.

My criminal clients would get arrested, confess and then stew in jail for days or even weeks because they couldn't make bail. That gave them plenty of time to work on a more palatable version of events. The longer they simmered, the more passionate they became about their personal fairytale.

When I left South Georgia to be a big city tax attorney, I thought I would never hear such spin again. Until today, I was right. The Most Reverend Katharine Jefferts Schori and Bonnie Anderson have topped even the most fantastical of my rural felons.

I guess it pays to have a graduate degree, even in fantasy.

Mythbusters

Seriously cool interview, video below

The Big News From Anaheim

The real news from the Episcopal Church's 2009 General Convention is the following:


Madam President

South Carolina stands before you with broken hearts. By passing Resolution D025 and C056 this General Convention has overturned the clear and consistent teaching of Holy Scripture and the Christian Church. We will have repudiated the teaching and practice of the Anglican Communion. The Communion's patience and generosity toward the Episcopal Church makes our persistent refusal to heed their requests to us to honor the called for moratoria all the more devastating.

Many of us us here this morning, and in Dioceses, parishes, and pews throughout the Episcopal Church, disavow this General Convention's actions. Will will now prayerfully seek ways to be faithful to the Anglican Communion and to the mutual responsibility and interdependence to which we are called, no matter what the cost.





It's going to be interesting to see how this plays out.

Random Thought

I've been turning over the idea that there is saturated religion, unsaturated religion and trans religion. It's the latter that's lethal, of course.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Book Bashing

I recently learned of a writer through a rather circuitous route. His name is 'Mike Homfray'. I disagree rather vehemently with just about everything he believes in. So I'm not linking to his blog, or his various comments throughout the Web. However, he's written a book. Like all authors he links to his book on his blog. Also like any author, he wants people to buy his book.

The name of his book is Provincial Queens: The Gay and Lesbian Community in the North-West of England. I have little to no interest in that subject. All I could make out on his blog, was the cover, which is Pepto-Bismol pink and I could not read the title, so I clicked on it, which pushed me through to the publisher's site.

Here's the meat of this story. The price of the book (full retail) in England is 34 pounds. The price in the U S is $85.95. The book is 271 pages long and is a paperback. The cost at Amazon is the same in pounds, but if you order in the US, it is $67.95. The publisher is a known semi-vanity press (that is they generally require a partial payment from the author towards publishing costs, anywhere from 1,000 to 1,500 pounds).

Now there is every reason to want to get published. Some authors think their book will be the next best-seller and are in it for the dough. That's not likely the case here. Some authors write as part of the publish or perish process in academia. To a certain extent, I suspect that may be the case here. An awful lot of academics are in the position of needing a book or scholarly paper to put on the old curriculum vitae. Peter Lang does publish some scholarly works that are cited from time to time in their fields. They publish a great many more that are not.

Most authors want to be published because they wish to communicate their ideas, their story or their thoughts and feelings. Unfortunately, publishing a seventy dollar paperback is not likely the way to achieve that.

There are an awful lot of vanity presses out there. If anything the Internet has helped that market to blossom. Printing on demand has dramatically reduced the cost of book production. Many books are now available in formats that didn't exist until recently, such as Kindle or PDF.

One of the more interesting new vanity presses is Lulu.com (disclaimer: I have no affiliation with them. I just love the name). To publish a dust jacketed hardcover book with 271 pages it costs $25. That's it. You can write the book, have them print off a copy and have the smallest print run imaginable for $25. Mr Homfray's book, in the manner and style that Lang printed it would cost about half that. There are other publishers with similar services. Now Lulu.com has little to no academic status, but if your desire is to get your ideas out there then Lulu or their competitors are the ways to go.

If we assume a 100% mark up between cost of publishing to selling price, then you would sell it for $25. That would be a perfect bound trade paperback of moderate length. Lang sells it for $42 more. My question is whether the rather dubious academic prestige of being published by Lang is worth $42. For some, it obviously is. But it seems a rather steep price to pay for someone on the bottom rungs of academia to climb another step on the tenure track.

All of which makes me wonder how long the Peter Langs of this world will last.

Heroes and Poor Spelling

The Atlanta Journal Constitution printed a story about a home invasion that was ultimately thwarted by a brave elderly man. It's pretty much a run of the mill affair. Except, in the article, one of the residents last name is Carlson. Under the photo, it's Carlton, repeated three times.

Here's a free tip for the AJC. Spell check doesn't solve everything. You need to have fresh eyeballs read this stuff to catch the mis-spellings and typos.

Quote of the Day

From a discussion of the new budget for the Episcopal Church, an answer to a question about $1 million allocation: "Money apportioned specifically to Title IV goes for actions against bishops. Also for education." Interesting dichotomy....

From StandFirm

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Cat and Mouse



From Cute Overload, of course.

People of the Book

This is the third General Convention that I've been compelled to get all Old Testamenty and prophetic and such. And I don't mean prophetic in the GC 'lets ordain open and notorious sinners' sense either. I mean prophetic in the 'lets call down the wrath of God and grow a really long beard' sense. Which totally sucks as growing a beard is a process in perpetual facial itching and spousal alienation.

And I really do not wish to marry a woman named Gomer. Modern American culture views people named Gomer with hilarity and ridicule. Bigamy is still a felony in my home state. And my wife is both jealous and heavily armed.

Is there any chance that the Episcopal Church could pass a last minute resolution to the effect of "The 2012 General Convention shall not pass, entertain or debate any resolution, motion or canon revision that exposes anyone attending, belonging to or formerly belonging to the Episcopal Church to ridicule, derision or humiliation by such association or former association"?

I don't think so either.

The Episcopal Church Beclowns You!

Summer Reading

Back on Monday I posted that I was trying to decide which book to read for the summer. I was torn between The Consolation of Philosophy and The City of God. Per Zana's recommendation I went with the City of God.

I'm reading it slowly, so I'm only in Chapter 2 of Book 1. I can read about 300 pages a day, but in so doing I miss a fair amount. This is going to be more of a reading, meditating and pondering exercise than a race. City of God is a good choice for this because it not only has a compelling back story, but it also requires a fair amount of unpacking.

Also, as Augustine pretty much defines orthodoxy in the Christian context, I'm reading it less defensively and more openly.

On a related note, the autobiography of William Porcher Dubose is available online, for free! Is this a wonderful world or what?

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

An Appeal to Wingnuts

I'm a rotten typist. I freely admit that. But it's oversight, not 'over site'. It's martial law, not 'marshall law'. Rouge agents are people who sell make up. What you want to say is 'rogue agents'. And we did not 'loose' the Vietnam War. No one loosed the Vietnam War. We did lose it.

Your theories about black helicopters become ever so much more plausible when spelled correctly. AND NO ONE WAS EVER CONVINCED BY A RANT IN ALL CAPS.

Just FYI.

PS. No, I am not linking to the drivel that prompted this.

Hope and Change

Canada has better health care, right?

Funny thing is, I remember it being slightly better, but equally run down.

For Rowan Williams

In re: The Anglican Communion

Here's a song for ya...


The Bigger Picture

Monday, July 13, 2009

Book Decision

I'm at a crossroads and am having trouble deciding what to read. I have two candidates. The first is my old, reliable companion: The Consolation of Philosophy by Boethius. It is short, chock full of wise counsel and eminently readable (for those who do not know it, the Consolation may be the best selling self help book of all time). Or, I can re-read a book I haven't read in its entirety since college: The City of God by St. Augustine.

Both would do me a world of good. I just can't decide which. I also need to get serious about studying the Bible again. I've gotten out of the habit, which is horrible. Lately all I've been reading are throw away thrillers and a history of early New York. It's been fun, but not especially nourishing.

Night And Day

Alan Haley has written one of his usually erudite essays about the effect of B033. This post isn't about his. This post is a little about Frank and Cole:



It's mostly about my wife.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Headline O' the Week

Impatience Builds Over Slow Moving Stimulus.

Given the direction the economy has moved since passage, I'm rather glad it's been slow moving.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

It May Be Illegal Now



But the Episcopal Church is already gearing up to bless these kinds of unions. Maybe not right away, but soon. After all, it's a justice issue!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Friday Physics




From here.

General Convention Reform

I've never been to the Episcopal Church's General Convention (GC). Thanks to modern technology, I will never need to. This GC has around 1,000 delegates for a church that has less than a million attendees. Add to that, the more delegates a legislative body has, the less gets done. More people means more time for discussion. The GC is both ungainly and expensive.

Were I in charge, which is highly unlikely, I'd change things in the following ways: First, I'd trim the delegates to 1 bishop and 1 lay delegate from every diocese. That cuts the delegates down to slightly over 200 total. Allow for the election of a non-participating, unfunded alternate. But the total funded attendance would be one fifth of the present size. That means instead of using expensive rented facilities, the GC could meet in a parish hall. That would be a lot less glamourous to be sure, but it's also a great deal more frugal.

I'd also allow for committee meetings, either live or virtually ahead of time. In fact, I'd probably make that mandatory. The bishops already know whether or not they are delegates. With the laity, all that would have to happen are elections far enough in advance for committees to be formed.

By trimming delegates and shifting committee meetings to before, the GC could be reduced in its length as well. Currently it's a two week commitment, which prevents a great number of potential delegates from participating. Two weeks is the standard annual vacation for most Americans. Trim it to four days and all of a sudden working stiffs can run for delegate. To counter balance this egalitarian move, I'd remove all delegate funding from the diocese. Delegates would have to pay their own way. This would further encourage the delegates to be about their business.

Of course, none of the above will ever happen.


Preview: I'm working on a detailed rant/essay about grilling. I've no idea when I'll post it though.

Contemporary Issues in Self Defense

Caution: Definitely Not Safe For Work, Very Naughty Language.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Today's Theme Song

Reading this immediately brought this song to mind.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Obscure Reference Time

I had a revelation earlier this morning: The leaders of the General Convention are Elan of Elanor wannabes.

Yes, that is a slam. No, I'm not going to take it back. I believe it also to be the truth.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

More Help For GC 2009

When it all gets too much, just hand out this card:

Last Minute Suggestion

The 2009 General Convention of the Episcopal Church will be convening tomorrow in Anaheim California. The theme of the convention will be 'Ubuntu'.

I like Ubuntu. It is the primary operating system on two of my computers. But it is not even last years meme. It's the last generation's. If the Episcopal Church truly wishes to be relevant in this modern society then it should move up to a slightly more modern theme.

My suggestion is from 2007. It's kind of dated now, but I can assure the leadership that whatever grandchildren are still remaining Episcopal will be blown away when Grandma tells them "The cake is a lie".


Inspired by XKCD, of course

Friday, July 03, 2009

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Liberal and Conservative Agree on Bill of Rights...

The libertarians are starting to look more and more attractive.

What He Said

Dr. Phillip Turner writes eloquently on the great divide between what the progressives who run the Episcopal Church say and what they do.

Emo Breakup

Bad language alert!

Tough Bar

A scene from one my favourite movies.

Wednesday Poetry

Day Labourers

"And He said, It is finished."

One only, of God's messengers to man,
Finish'd the work of grace, which He began;
E'en Moses wearied upon Nebo's height,
Though loth to leave the fight
With the doom'd foe, and yield the sun-bright land
To Joshua's arm├Ęd hand.

And David wrought in turn a strenuous part,
Zeal for God's house consuming him in heart;
And yet he might not build, but only bring
Gifts for the Heavenly King;
And these another rear'd, his peaceful son,
Till the full work was done.

List, Christian warrior! thou, whose soul is fain
To rid thy Mother of her present chain;—
Christ will avenge His Bride; yea, even now
Begins the work, and thou
Shalt spend in it thy strength, but, ere He save,
Thy lot shall be the grave.

John Henry Newman




Suggested by comment here.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Environmental Traitor

That's me alright. I am an environmental traitor. Not only that, Dr. Krugman, I'm a card-carrying environmental traitor. And then some. And good luck lining up a firing squad to shoot me. Those bullets have eco-unfriendly lead you know.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Practical Theology- Spong vs Human

Just something I found in my Youtube wanderings...

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Saturday Cheer Up

The news lately has been fairly dismal verging on grim. This should help.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Friday Fun

Every time I fire a rifle, my inner child giggles.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

What if Government Ran Health Care? (Sprint Ad Remix)

That seems about right.

A Helpful Comparison

BabyBlue has a posted a lovely video of the beginning of the installation of Robert Duncan as Archbishop. I have been busy lately and have not been paying ACNA much attention, so I thought I'd see what was going on at their nuptial convention.

For those who aren't up to speed on Anglican splinter groups, ACNA is the Anglican Church in North America and is the amalgamation of an astonishing number of American Anglican fragments.

There is a PDF of the agenda here. What struck me was how little time was spent on side issues. In the space of four days they wrote a constitution and canons, debated the same, amended the same, installed a primate and still met for worship thirteen times (four eucharists), or slightly more than three times a day.

By way of contrast, the Episcopal Church is meeting for its 2009 General Convention in Anahaeim in July. It will last eleven days. There is a eucharist ten times for corporate worship, or slightly less than once per day.

Now the Episcopal Church is about seven times bigger than ACNA (ASA vs ASA). But it's been around for over two centuries. What's left to discuss that requires eleven packed days of meetings? One hundred dioceses are sending 800 lay delegates and 300 bishops to Anaheim. The dioceses are paying for these persons to come into close proximity to the Magic Kingdom.
If the diocese is very frugal, lodging would cost about $550 per person, airfare (including taxes and fees) comes to around $600 per person (Atlanta to LA and return). Throw in a $20 per day per diem for food and incidentals ($220 per person) and each diocese has to pony up $1370 per delegate. That's a cost of $1,500,000 to the dioceses for having a delegation! Some dioceses (Los Angeles for example) will pay a lot less, some will pay a lot more (Hawaii, Europe, Haiti or Bethlehem).

None of this includes the national church's budgeted amount of $5,883,779 (2009 alone, there were other amounts allocated in 2007 and 2008) to rent the facilities and put on the affair.

The delegates are certainly not going to be slackers. There is no time set aside for them to zip off and see Mickey Mouse. But a quick glance at the agenda and resolutions discussed shows very little substance. There is going to be a great deal of discussion about discussions.

Is anyone else struck by how sclerotic the General Convention appears? Were I in charge, it would have two hundred delegates (one lay, one bishop per diocese) and last three days. All of the committee appointments and meetings would be done in the three years leading up to it, on the delegates dime and therefore likely online.

But then again, were I in charge, the Episcopal Church would only have about twenty dioceses.

Leaving aside theology, which is the big issue, the other major reason why the Episcopal Church has floundered so badly is that it is a Jurassic organization in the Age of Information. It has too many heads and sub heads, too much middle management and too little authority.

One of the reasons why the Presiding Bishop has been able to dictate church discipline is that the organization with the actual authority, the General Convention, is too large and meets too infrequently.

I used to say that the Episcopal Church needed its own Inquisition. Now I'm afraid what it really needs is its own Reformation.