Saturday, July 16, 2005

Media: Phillips commercial blows fluff

A Phillips TV commercial has kids asking why various things in life aren't easy enough for them to understand and closes with (I know, these are all synonyms) completely brainless fluff-filled marketing hooey: "Why can't technology be as simple as the box it comes in?"

Because then it would be an empty cardboard box -- not a 2.6-megaflonk, 400-teraflop, Quixxcel-inside, microplaxion-coil-induced PVP player -- wouldn't it?!

When we were kids, we preferred the refrigerator box to the refrigerator. Adults don't want to pay hundreds or thousands of dollars for a cardboard box, however. And if for some reason the marketing wonks responsible for this gem of a piece of pap might be implying that this complex amalgam of technologies that stands 40 years beyond much of our rocket science -- the personal computer -- should work more transparently than a pop-up toaster ... I'm sorry, but any way you slice it, that's just stupid.

Trivia: I am a Pundit blogger

You Are a Pundit Blogger!

Your blog is smart, insightful, and always a quality read.
Truly appreciated by many, surpassed by only a few

Internet: God can use you

The next time you feel like God can't use you, just remember:

Noah was a drunk,
Abraham was too old,
Isaac was a daydreamer,
Jacob was a liar,
Leah was ugly,
Joseph was abused,
Moses had a stuttering problem,
Gideon was afraid,
Sampson had long hair and was a womanizer,
Rahab was a prostitute,
Jeremiah and Timothy were too young,
David had an affair and was a murderer,
Elijah was suicidal,
Isaiah preached naked,
Jonah ran from God,
Naomi was a widow,
Job went bankrupt,
John the Baptist ate bugs,
Peter denied Christ,
the Disciples fell asleep while praying,
Martha worried about everything,
the Samaritan woman was divorced, more than once,
Zaccheus was too small,
Paul was too religious,
Timothy had an ulcer
and Lazarus was dead!

No more excuses now. God can use you to your full potential. Besides, you aren't the message, you are just the messenger.

Press: Congress Must Deal With ID Theft - Wired News

Wired News: Congress Must Deal With ID Theft: "Realizing that self-regulation isn't going to work anymore, several lawmakers have proposed piecemeal solutions to address the problem of identity theft. But many of them don't go far enough."

(This article presents makes nine insightful and sound recommendations for effective legislation that represent the minimum amount of security necessary to protect citizens from identity theft.)

Press: Lack of Protective Imagination - Infowarrior

Lack of Protective Imagination - Richard Forno: "In other words, we are demonstrating a lack of protective imagination.

Contrary to America's infatuation with instant gratification, protective imagination is not quickly built, funded, or enacted. It takes years to inculcate such a mindset brought about by outside the box, unconventional, and daring thinking from folks with expertise and years of firsthand knowledge in areas far beyond security or law enforcement and who are encouraged to think freely and have their analyses seriously considered in the halls of Washington.?? Such a radical way of thinking and planning is necessary to deal with an equally radical adversary, yet we remain entrenched in conventional wisdom and responses.

Here at home, for all the money spent in the name of homeland security, we're not acting against the terrorists, we're reacting against them, and doing so in a very conventional, very ineffective manner.? Yet nobody seems to be asking why."

(via Minneapolis-based security expert Bruce Schneier's Crypto-Gram)

Words: neat [AHED]

(This word has never impressed me for its descriptiveness -- mainly it is a cliché that brings tidy to mind -- but its etymology does suggest shining or exemplary as well as pure.)


ADJECTIVE:    Inflected forms: neat·er, neat·est
Orderly and clean; tidy. 2. Orderly and precise in procedure; systematic. 3. Marked by ingenuity and skill; adroit: a neat turn of phrase. 4. Not diluted or mixed with other substances: neat whiskey. 5. Left after all deductions; net: neat profit. 6. Slang Wonderful; terrific: That was a neat party.

   Anglo-Norman neit, clear, pure, variant of Old French net, from Latin nitidus, elegant, gleaming, from nitre, to shine.

Proverbs: Just always be honest, it saves a lot of squirming in the long run

Weblogs: Women on the right

A Serendipitous Intention - Women on the Right: "Now tell me, when you walk into a bathroom is the mens' room not always on the left and the ladies' room always on the right? Yes. That's how it is. Do you know how I know this? Because I was always taught to remember it that way because women are always right."

(At all the metro stadiums, corporations -- like HP -- and restaurants -- like Red Robin -- that come to mind right now, men's rooms are on the right. Yes, McDonald's and Burger King are on the left. Yes, women are usually right.)

Weblogs: Dating an Apple [or any] developer

A Serendipitous Intention - Dating an Apple Developer: "What about the poor innocent souls who think they are getting a normal guy and then come to find out he has been sucked into the chaotic world of development? What about the little girls who dream of Prince Charming and end up with Steve Ballmer? What about the girls who never even dreamed they would know who Steve Ballmer is? I think someone needs to offer them a little advice. Seeing that I am a seasoned professional who has been dating a developer since I was 15, I think there is no one better than me to show them the way. Following are 10 things you need to know when dating a developer (or any kind of techie.)"

(This is an excellent perspective piece that rings true with Dilbert's engineers-make-great-mates chapter and every techie I know plus those who love them. Several exes never did "get me" on these points as stated by Emily Hambidge. The comments are great too, however, a pox on those who would think Edison or Einstein were antisocial and just needed to get laid.)

Friday, July 15, 2005

Trivia: I am a Stoic philosopher

You are a Stoic!
You are a Stoic.
Stoicism is a school of philosophy commonly
associated with such Greek philosophers as Zeno
of Citium, Cleanthes, or Chrysippus and with
such later Romans as Cicero, Seneca, Marcus
Aurelius, and Epictetus. Organized at Athens in
310 BC by Zeno of Citium and Chrysippus, the
Stoics provided a unified account of the world
that comprised formal logic, materialistic
physics, and naturalistic ethics. Later Roman
Stoics emphasized more exclusively the
development of recommendations for living in
harmony with a natural world over which one has
no direct control. Their group would meet upon
the porch of the market at Athens, the stoa
poecile. The name stoicism derives from the
Greek stoa, meaning porch.

The Stoic philosophy developed from that of the
Cynics whose founder, Antisthenes, had been a
disciple of Socrates. The Stoics emphasized
ethics as the main field of knowledge, but they
also developed theories of logic and natural
science to support their ethical doctrines.

Holding a somewhat materialistic conception of
nature they followed Heraclitus in believing
the primary substance to be fire. They also
embraced his concept of Logos which they
identified with the energy, law, reason, and
providence found throughout nature.

They held Logos to be the animating or 'active
principle' of all reality. The Logos was
conceived as a rational divine power that
orders and directs the universe; it was
identified with God, nature, and fate. Human
reason and the human soul were both considered
part of the divine Logos, and therefore

The foundation of Stoic ethics is the principle,
proclaimed earlier by the Cynics, that good
lies in the state of the soul itself, in wisdom
and restraint. Stoic ethics stressed the rule
"Follow where Reason leads"; one must
therefore strive to be free of the
passionslove, hate, fear, pain, and pleasure.

Living according to nature or reason, they held, is
living in conformity with the divine order of
the universe. The four cardinal virtues of the
Stoic philosophy are wisdom, courage, justice,
and temperance, a classification derived from
the teachings of Plato.

A distinctive feature of Stoicism is its
cosmopolitanism. All people are manifestations
of the one universal spirit and should,
according to the Stoics, live in brotherly love
and readily help one another. They held that
external differences such as rank and wealth
are of no importance in social relationships.
Thus, before the rise of Christianity, Stoics
recognized and advocated the brotherhood of
humanity and the natural equality of all human
beings. Stoicism became the most influential
school of the Greco-Roman world and produced a
number of remarkable writers and personalities.

Which Hellenistic School of Philosophy Would You Belong To?
brought to you by Quizilla

Trivia: I am Robert Heinlein

You are Robert Heinlein - noble, positive,
charming, generous, traditional, and very
raunchy. You love America and fervently back
space travel.

Which SF author are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

Trivia: I am a soy latte

You Are a Soy Latte

At your best, you are: free spirited, down to earth, and relaxed

At your worst, you are: dogmatic and picky

You drink coffee when: you need a pick me up, and green tea isn't cutting it

Your caffeine addiction level: medium

Weblogs: shit from Shinola

Shinola seems to have been popular among WWII-era blue-collar workers and ex-military men (for whom everything is "shit this" and "shit that"), since those are the only ones I've ever heard use the term (though not in years). Keep in mind that to get a "spit shine," you spit on the Shinola or the shoe to wet and buff it to a mirror gloss. (I attended Catholic military high school.)

[Note to the (always self-appointed) values police: Twerpette's policy is to dash-out four-letter words out of consideration for our younger readers as well as corporate bad-word filters, except in cases where this would cause confusion, especially in posts dealing with word use and language. In this case, s--- is not helpful at all, and s--t could be snit or spit or... Rest assured that we needn't deviate from displaying motherf---er, should the usage be employed in the original citation and unavoidable in order to convey the essential message.]

(via Tenser, said the Tensor)

Weblogs: Annie Dillard on playing at church

(via Poocherelli's Posts from David's Reflections by David Perkins of Episcopalatlee on Yahoo Groups)

"Annie Dillard in her book Teaching a Stone to Talk writes about her experience attending a service of Holy Communion, weaving in her reflections in response to each movement of the service. In that essay, she speaks of the unpredictability of a God too often tamed by our meager expectations.
She writes, 'Does anyone have the foggiest idea what sort of power we blithely invoke? Or, as I suspect, does noone believe a word of it? The churches are children playing on the floor with their chemistry sets, mixing up a batch of TNT to kill a Sunday morning. It is madness to wear ladies' straw hats and velvet hats to church; we should all be wearing crash helmets. Ushers should issue life preservers and signal flares; they should lash us to our pews. For the sleeping God may wake someday and take offense, or the waking God may draw us to where we can never return."

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Weblogs: The extraordinary volume of patience

(found poetry by Vincent Ponka via Ironic Cinema)

The extraordinary volume of patience

Noah—a summer swim
the harsh 20th Century.

Remember, Pope Pius XII said:
'The World is worse now
than before the flood.'

Weblogs: National Geographic Pictures of the Year

Don't miss this exquisite set of photographs, scanned and published here. (via All Things Christie)

Weblogs: The one and the many (soulmates)

Mirabile dictu! Surely this is the wonder of the age. How miraculous to have -- at our point and click -- a cornucopia of perfect potential mates selected without the intervention of human hands. On screen after screen they are spread out before us like a Whitman's Sampler the size and shape of idaho. (via American Digest)

Proverbs: The high road often devolves into the low road

Getting miffed about people who get petty is just being petty too. The middle way is the human way; presuming one is superior or inferior (better-than or less-than) is never the healthy way.

Proverbs: Everyone means well (in their own little world), it's just their methods we disagree with

Weblogs: You know you're a Houstonian if...

(via MeMo)

You moved to Houston a while ago. How do you know you've settled in? Here are the telltale signs:

1. Your house of worship has more than 5,000 members or fewer than 100.

2. You've gone to a check-cashing place. Extra point if they know your first name at the check-cashing place.

3. You've given away a litter of something. Extra point if it wasn't puppies or kittens.

4. Your other car is in the impound lot.

5. In your house, Dr Pepper is now a breakfast drink

6. You've chosen between burnt orange and maroon.

7. The idea of dove season doesn't strike you as entirely weird.

8. You track storms across Harris County on your PC.

9. If you live in the city:
One of your neighbors drives a Porsche Cayenne and the other repairs washing machines. In his front yard.

If you live in the 'burbs: Your children know "cul-de-sac" but not "hill".

If you live way out beyond the Beltway:
You've hurt your back dragging a deer carcass.

10. You've bought fire ant stuff at Home Depot more than once.

11. You can recite all your subdivision deed restrictions but you've forgotten all the Amendments except the Second.

12. You no longer trust a man who drinks from a glass.

How'd you do?

1-5 points. Check your cellphone. Your blue state is calling you.

6-9 points. You just scraped the John Kerry sticker off the back of your Prius.

10-14 points. Compared to the state flag, the Stars and Stripes now look too busy.

Houston: Search local music at the Chronicle

Houston music fans can search for local bands and performers in any category (from alternative country to zydeco) at the Houston Chronicle.

Email: The limitations of time, space and will [SD]

The trouble is, once health problems begin to make themselves noticed, you've let them go for too long. (If you're working out at the gym and your knee starts hurting, it's not only been pushed too hard, but has seen some damage. I learned this on a cycle clime to Crowne Point in Oregon.) Weight problems accumulate over a long time (and not invisibly) but they can be the hardest to roll back (esp. as our youth recedes into the nethers of the past).

Important tasks get delayed for two reasons: The human limitations of time and space (on the high end, I can only complete two 40-hour projects within five to seven days) or emotional reasons (involving denial, procrastination or idiosyncratic ideology). Some people decide they just don't trust doctors, or won't take even one aspirin when sick; others don't want to face what might someday be bad news, so they keep ignoring the doorbell. Of course you know that problems (present or future) do not go away on their own, and that avoidance behavior is an addictive cycle (an emotional and tactical flight from a problem that you inevitably return to find unchanged). The only way to maintain a healthy self esteem and mindset is to face your challenges and resolve them.

I'll have to try Yahoo Music sometime, but I usually need it quiet as I think and write. I've worked in newsrooms and fishbowls, where a creative or collaborative workday dynamism exists, but I think my best writing is naturally done in silence where I can concentrate on and attune myself to the flow.

Musings: Harry Potter promotes Satanism?

MSNBC is flogging the Christian alarmists' position (resuscitated like Frankenstein) that J.K Rowling's books promote Satanism. How quickly the no-brainer crowd forgets these chestnuts:

Know of what you speak.
Read before you criticize.
Discuss the moral context of literature with family members. (Does the Bible promote rape, fornication, murder and witchcraft just because it mentions them too?)
Alarmism ("slippery slope," "desensitizing influence") is the last resort of the clueless.
Keep things in perspective. (The biggest targets make for the biggest press exposure, but try eliminating the biggest real problems to society, like pedophilic priests.)

Words: nether, nethers [MW]

(I just love this word.)

Main Entry:    neth·er
Function:    adjective
Etymology:    Middle English, from Old English nithera, from nither down; akin to Old High German nidar down, Sanskrit ni
1 : situated down or below : LOWER "the nether side"
2 : situated or believed to be situated beneath the earth's surface "the nether regions"

Email: Christian business solicits tithes? [Ch]

I can write them [to-do lists] faster than do them. (Being imaginative and organized makes things interesting.)

Your customer sounds like an interesting case. Because of my experience with Christian businesses and ministries over the years, I would say that a business should be treated like a business. It may have investors but it should sell something to customers who pay the expenses of operation and production. Anyone who lacks funding and asks for donations not tied to a business condition is probably incompetent at least or hustling you at worst (no matter how churchified they talk). A business is a commercial venture where the product or service pays for production and provides profits, or the business fails. Christian businesspersons who don't understand that and solicit your tithe monies are lacking in integrity. The business owner may tithe to their own business, believing it is also a ministry, but that is dubious in my view. It's as simple as keeping and funding for-profit and not-for-profit ventures separately.

Neologisms: shipload [slang]

More than a boatload but not quite a shitload.

Email: Irreverence is sublime [MA]

I am impish and mischievous. I love shows like Family Guy; irreverence isn't bad per se when it tweaks the nose of anyone who deserves it. Also it's called "having a sense of humor," you people who watch Fox. ;-}

Musings: Signs and remedies of depression

CR and I discussed (as briefly as men do) the signs and remedies of depression, so I decided to draw up a short list based on my experiences and observations. Remember, our body and mind and emotions and spirit are one.

Flatness of affect
Flatness of voice
Distraction or preoccupation with past issues (wrestling with emotional trauma)
Anxiety, avoidance or denial over past issues (hiding from emotional trauma)
Insomnia (under six hours a night) or sleeping like the dead (over nine hours a night)
Low muscle tone (feeling flabby not muscular; exercise is work not energizing)
Low energy or agility (preference to be sedentary and slow not active and coordinated)
Low metabolism or resultant weight gain
Attention deficit, forgetfulness or being accident prone
Excessively full work schedule (beyond responsibilities, working to avoid personal leisure or fun)

Regular sleep (six to nine hours a night)
Healthy diet (balanced with fresh ingredients not fried or processed)
Daily exercise (any activity to restore metabolism)
Body awareness and centering (tai chi, yoga, dance or any other discipline)
Creative or recreational pursuits
Routine of own choosing
Priorities of own choosing
Quiet or unscheduled "me" time
Humor, wit or social laughter

Media: FedEx pirate commercial

I just saw a FedEx commercial where a pirate is being given a temp job in a shipping department (and all he can say is Arrrrrr!). Droll!

Words: spunk [MW]

Now and then I run across an etymological justification that counters or confirms the conventional wisdom. (For instance, WASPs may sniff at blacks who say "He axed me to do it." Well, the Old English infinitive for "to ask" was axian.) So here is proof that Spongebob Squarepants was born to define what it is to be spunky:

Main Entry:    spunk
Function:    noun
Etymology:    Scottish Gaelic spong sponge, tinder, from Latin spongia sponge
1 a : a woody tinder : PUNK  b : any of various fungi used to make tinder

Email: When I am on YM [Ch]

If I see you on YM, I will say hi; if it's covered up with work I'm doing, feel free to say hi first; and if you're signed in invisibly (which I never do), let me know you're there (if you wish).

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Weblog: Controlling Personalities in the Church

I just found a well-written five-part series on Controlling Personalities in the Church (via Wittenberg Gate).

Weblog: Terri Schiavo redux

May Terri Schiavo rest in peace. I couldn't have assessed the brouhaha better than Neil Uchitel myself (via Digitus, Finger & Co.).

(I learned yesterday that Schiavo is the Italian word for slave.)

Trivia: Kissing purity test

Your Kissing Purity Score: 49% Pure

You're not one to kiss and tell...

But word is, you kiss pretty well.

Trivia: I am 63% American

You Are 63% American
Most times you are proud to be an American.
Though sometimes the good ole US of A makes you cringe
Still, you know there's no place better suited to be your home.
You love your freedom and no one's going to take it away from you!

Internet: Nihilist seeks nothing

You haven't read personals ads like these from LRB; visit the
London Review of Books to view the current ones. (via Oxblog)

Nihilist seeks nothing.

Male LRB readers. Drawing little faces on your thumbs, getting them to order meals, then shouting at them for not being able to pay is no way to win a woman. You know who you are. F, 35. Box no. 12/12

If I was a gambling man, I'd bet you'd be blonde, 30, passionate, impetuous and writing poetry. If I trusted my instinct, you'd be brunette, 35, a little cynical, preparing for that year-out sabbatical and writing that first novel. If I left it to fate, you'd be 67, bald and a man with sclerotic arteries. The intuition my mother handed down and my collection of county court judgments suggest that placing an ad in this column puts you firmly in the last category. Resigned M. (52, Colchester), finally embracing defeat and anything else that comes along at box no. 12/09

Attractive well-shrunk writer F (early 50s) seeks amiable philosophic M to 65. Box no. 12/05

The only item you'll find in my fridge is soup. Forty litres of the stuff. Beat that. M. 46. Box no. 12/13

I'll see you at the LRB singles night. I'll be the one breathing heavily and stroking my thighs by the art books. Asthmatic, varicosed F (93) seeks M to 30 with enough puff in him to push me uphill to the post-office. This is not a euphemism. Box no. 12/08

Despite listing 34 French erotic novels as your favourite reads, I liked you. Then you went and ruined everything by spending an hour ordering continental ales in the voice of Yoda. Woman, 35, seriously considering going gay unless the standard of replies from this column improves. Box no. 13/08

Beneath this hostile museum curator's exterior lies a hostile museum curator's interior. F, 38. Box no. 13/07

Internet: Gregorian ring tones

For $1.99 you can download Gregorian tunes like Attende Domine to use as cell phone ring tones at JivJiv. (via The Shrine of the Holy Whapping weblog)

Email: Dueling vocabularies [KF]

I'm glad you like my vocabulary [(pronounce that word like Chris Rock in The Fifth Element, OK?)]. I'm not showing off; in fact I usually dial it back for others. It's good that you prefer to learn and grow rather than settle for what you have already learned (or forgotten) as some do.

Email: When good people hurt others [SD]

Scripture says to put no trust in kings or man. Every person is flawed; every person is imperfect; all sin and fall short of the glory of God; every one of us is going to mess up (some just more often or bigger than others).

This is not to ignore all the apparent and actual good in each of us; just to say not to forget we are all fallible and will disappoint each other, even when dressed in our Sunday best.

It hurts most when these disappointments come from those we love and who love us; but that disappointment is within us, and must be owned by us. It should be less "Why did you do this to me?" and more "How can I be flexible enough to forgive and grow through this complex human incident?"

Email: If you don't have your health... [SD]

Your health should be your highest priority and doing something about is better than avoiding the issue. Why do many of us convince ourselves (out of busyness or wishful thinking) that we can put this off? If you don't have your health, you are still alive (hopefully) but less effective in serving the Lord and others -- and it's unnecessary to choose between one's health and responsibilities anyway.

Email: Perfect love [SD]

We are hurt by those who say they love us because no one is perfect and those we think we love, we do not love well much less perfectly. Only God has the perfect love that casts out all fear (I John 4:18).

Email: Writing down the bones [CC]

I'm pretty adaptable to the weather. Maybe I was a chameleon in a prior life.

Yes, writing down the bones of one's thoughts and emotions esp. regarding past relationships is almost like therapy (for oneself or for others). As a writer, I know the difference between journaling and journalism; writing for therapeutic self-expression and writing for communication to others. Each requires constant judgment calls and integrity; errors in judgment can occur. You only want to put down what is true, and to share what is appropriate. Writing is about pushing boundaries while respecting them; it's kind of how our children are always testing their boundaries in order to grow. Playing it safe and sitting in silence is no way to live.

I'm glad you agree about your long-distance beau. Romance is easy to conjure and consume in three-day doses, but any successful relationship generally requires the couple to be in the same city, or ideally the same room, for extended periods of time. ;-)

So you found all the other men who have approached you, refused to consider a non-sexual dating relationship? See, I hear this every day and I have for years, and so I think this is the problem: Most men do not want to actually get to know women as persons. Most women (and some men) are capable of maintaining emotionally rich relationships; but most men (and some women) seem to be uninterested in or even incapable of doing so.

Forget the "men are wolves" crap, because wolves mate for life in nature; but the idea of these wild men being "mongrels" just about describes it. (The monster-loner-outlaw theme of Beowulf applies here.) While we're on the subject of "alpha males," most people don't know that "alpha females" are more dominant in the wild -- and in society. I now notice human territoriality everywhere I turn. It's amazing to me how truly at odds our Judeo-Christian faith is with our human nature (even among people who think of themselves as faithful believers).

You are different, I am different... And that's a good thing. (Sorry, Martha.)

Email: Screeds of woe [GG]

Respectfully assertive is the way to go in my book (with friends and spouse). [The dysfunctional opposite ends of the spectrum surrounding this healthy middle road would be a] wife who won't speak up for herself or a partner whose every screed and tantrum could be summarized as "Woe is me, shame on you, I can do no wrong. P.S. I'm not being manipulative."

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Trivia: Minnesota tornado

Someone took a 3-minute video of a live tornado in Minnesota and posted it on Ifilm.

Dating: Men want closure too

CR tells me the two women who responded to his Yahoo Personals profile have been maintaining radio silence for two weeks. Women typically want men to communicate, but it's not a male or a female thing, it's a human thing: Some people (male or female) just don't communicate well. Can't we all just get along (that is, communicate)?

Email: Speaking is writing out loud [KF]

I'm sorry your parents are gone now (and your mother so recently). The passing of my maternal grandmother and a paternal aunt have caused me to consider my thoughts on death and heaven quite personally. My mother, for instance, believes that her mother can hear her thoughts, while I find that [uncomfortable], though I suspect she can hear my words as I speak them aloud.

You might find that teaching, training and speaking is more fulfilling than writing on paper or screen. (Think of it as writing out loud.) You get to think on your feet and see people's response (or lack of it) immediately. I love to make my students laugh. Think about it, as it seems well suited to you. Of course you need to write in order to prepare for a class anyway -- and you can always write articles and books in support of it. The question to ask is: What would you teach?

I daydream of being a full-time speaker and presenter, and my partner as well, covering materials that are complementary to each other. Being personable is the one path to career growth that doesn't seem to be affected by the economy.

Email: One-liners and worldviews [KF]

I like one-liners more now. I read the joke is going out because it takes too long and involves too much risk for the younger generation. My humor is dry observation or wry (or biting) commentary. Don't worry about manners (strictly) with me when it comes to humor; all dunderheadedness is fair game. I think the only way to rise above committing such idiocies ourselves is to keep in mind that it would just be silly (if not pathetic) to do so.

I know I don't fit within closed, "kept" corporate settings; I need an unfettered, entrepreneurial, risk-for-rewards-based setting (for business or social ties). Teaching and writing work well for me, as would programming or some forms of sales (where product knowledge and customer advocacy are not at odds with the corporate culture). I like teaching better because it connects more directly with people (in learning, humor and humanity); but writing I do very well too.

If you can see and understand the other person's mindset, but they cannot see or grasp yours, then yours is the larger and theirs is the smaller. I make no personal judgments (though they unfortunately may); this just helps to know where you stand.

I couldn't have expressed my own temperament better than you did in your penultimate paragraph. (You purveyor of purloined pentimentos.)

Email: How time flies [JB]

Listen, my oldest is 13 almost 14; I have an inkling of how time flies, but I have a notion I am going to be learning even more about that.

A new day dawns every morning, doesn't it?

Email: Parenting and prose [KF]

My favorite (paper) birthday card describes how much trouble the sender went through to shop for and send just the right card, "because I know how much old people like to get mail." ;-}

I think it [a conversational writing style] shows a person who knows themselves and, often, others, to tell the truth.

The most challenging thing for me [as a father] is balancing all the stuff that I have to "get done" (work at home, clean house, errands) with time devoted fully to my son. I can do it; I give him my full attention (often "time-slicing" or "multi-tasking" as needed); I'm just saying it is often a challenge (esp. if I haven't gotten enough sleep and my nerves feel jangled).

Email: Piece-of-junk lawnmower [SD]

During my first year as a homeowner, I used to have this piece-of-junk lawnmower that gradually (over the season) lost one, then two, then three wheels (and could not be fixed). It took me hours to mow the lawn (a 3,600 square-foot lot), but I did it. (The mower was free.) But I knew what I was dealing with. I'm saying your PC is in a parallel situation [until Windows gets reinstalled]. ;-}

Fiction is our way of learning the truth in fresh settings other than what we have lived through ourselves, according to Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn.

Email: Syncretic dialog [GG]

I have studied the ancient Mayan culture so I am interested in the Maya Quiche (Quechua) language and Mayan/Catholic syncretism. That is an area I focused on when I considered joining Wycliffe Bible Translators.

When you think about it, having work that is "challenging, but interesting" really is the best of all possible worlds. It beats work that is "challenging, but boring" or any other antithesis you could come up with. :-} I think I would always prefer work that is difficult (challenging) and growthful (interesting). I would have a hard time doing the same old unimaginative thing day in and day out.

You're right that just "maintaining radio silence" will usually calm the restless natives. I feel others have a right to hear my wisdom too ;-) but I am usually able to temper it by being sensitive as to whether they want to hear it in the first place.

If it's a party you want, I suggest turning your birthday into a weeklong celebration, kind of like a biblical wedding feast that would last a week as they killed the fatted calf.

Email: Cell phone as timesaver [EG]

Yes it's more important than most people know to keep me off the streets [and busily employed].

Your cell phone thing happens to everyone I'll bet. Get a Bluetooth phone or one with a Firewire or USB cable so you can instantly sync your Outlook address book with a phone and handheld. The time savings alone would be amazing. (I'm about to upgrade to do the same thing.)

Email: KPFT as "Radio Free Palestine" [SO]

In 2001, I was about to send $15 to KPFT when they had an activist power shift and became what I call Radio Free Palestine. (I welcome a progressive radio station so long as they don't use activists as emotional and shrill "reporters.") They have softened a bit since then and I appreciate their presentation of uniquely Texas music and also World Café. I listen to a variety of stations because I want to monitor a diversity of views to make sure I'm hearing what all sides are saying. (Extremism is fairly easy to identify, whether from right or the left, so long as you step back enough to get a decent perspective.)

Email: "Hello, I'm Bob, your party planner" [SD]

Teens can sometimes provide a clue to what they'd like to do (nowadays: "an online gaming party" or "an iPod swap-and-share party") but "typical" boys are not going to come up with celebration plans. Someone said holiday and birthday celebrations would never occur if it were up to men, esp. when there's a game on TV and pizza can be delivered within 30 minutes.

Email: Practice vs. play [SD]

To heal the negative associations you have accumulated about piano practice, try shifting gears from practice (which others required of you) to playing (which is for your pleasure). Abandon discipline in order to frolic for a season. Rediscover the joy that the gift gives you. Stay in touch with the joys of your youth whenever possible -- and if it seems impossible, try even harder.

Besides the negative associations, I think you fear criticism, judgment or making a mistake that would cause others to think less than well of you. This may be comparable to my tendency not to want to do things unless I have the time and circumstances to do them well (music, languages etc.). Life isn't like that though. (My career and yours are good metaphors for that.) You will do better (when you are ready) when you can just launch into something whenever you have a little time, do a bit of it (piano or whatever) then move on to the next thing. It's about taking initiative and creative control of your life. I pray that you will find a way to express your musical gift in a different or renewed way.

It's the nature of a wound to harden over with scar tissue (spiritually as well as physically). Forgiveness for hurts in your past will be important, but it's natural to need healing and for it to require attention (promptly and often at later stages too).

Proverbs: If we spent as much time and effort improving our relationship skills as we do our career skills, it would be a different world

Proverbs: You can pray all you want, but if you don't think too, then someone else is doing the thinking for you

Monday, July 11, 2005

Whimsy: Improbable Research is now a blog

For decades I've enjoyed a few hoots when I ran across a copy of Annals of Improbable Research, the stuffy fake-science journal that sponsors the Ig Nobel prizes. Well now it's available in blog format; go see Improbable Research right now!

Trivia: I am rocky-road ice cream

You Are Rocky Road Ice Cream
Unpredictable and wild, you know how to have fun.
You're also a trendsetter who takes risks with new things.
You know about the latest and greatest - and may have invented it.
You are most compatible with vanilla ice cream.

Faith: Evidentially I am an Evidentialist

You scored as Evidentialist. Apologetics primarily consists in showing the good reasons one has to believe the claims of Christianity. You consistently confound unbelievers with your knowledge of history, science, and Bayesian computation that you learned from John Warwick Montgomery, Gary Habermas and Richard Swinburne.



Classical Apologist


Reformed/Presuppositional Apologist






What kind of apologist are you?
created with

Email: He's Just Not That Into You [CC]

I think most men don't want women to know the truth. I haven't read it [He's Just Not That Into You] yet myself, so it could be a woman weaving her theories about men behind their backs, but I am constantly hearing (and sympathizing with them based on what I know of other men) every day about women's steady run of experiences with men who are emotionally unavailable and incapable of commitment. It's a problem that isn't going to go away unless something is done. There has to be a middle ground between the two extremes. I'd like to offer a series of workshops that help explain women to men and men to women. I believe women would attend, but like most things, I am not sure the situation will improve until men become more willing to be responsible for their own behavior.

Email: Long-distance romance [CC]

God works with mistakes. :-)

I wish you the best in your [Italian] love adventure... Men do not write as much as women... I suggest [as he does] that you keep your social calendar open until he can ensconce himself here... And then after a while you should find out how serious he is about you. You want a roughly equivalent balance in these things or you could be disappointed (as in the book He's Just Not That Into You).

Email: Unilateral bailout [JB]

It is true that we all have hopes for each other, but in general it's inadvisable to hold a person accountable for something they haven't been told about. (Even professors generally say "This will be on the test" before they issue a pass/fail, and friends or partners generally discuss their feelings before bailing on a relationship.)

Email: Choose well [JB]

Don't be one of those people who demonizes another in order to feel better about herself. If you want to find evil in the world, you will always find it -- but only for yourself, and in places that it didn't exist until you invited it into your perspective. We choose our own reality. We make our reality by our choices.

Email: Electronic greeting cards [KF]

I like Hallmark because it's professional and free; Flavia and American Greetings are nice, but I haven't paid or joined anything; and there are a lot of cheesy little card sites around, but they should be easy to tell, the more rinky-dink their animations and music are. :-} [Many Christians like Dayspring, though I find it has the occasional glitch.]

Proverbs: In the end, all we really have is time, and each other

Email: Dating ground rules [Sz]

It's good to be single, just be careful. Set some ground rules for yourself about dating and observe them. Few of us can be disciplined about iffy situations, so settle them firmly for yourself ahead of time -- and have a backup plan or a support network of friends too. Of course all singles agree that it's better to be in a relationship, or we wouldn't date at all; I think most would say (or will eventually learn) to just take it a day at a time. As far as just rediscovering yourself and unwinding with friends now that you're an empty-nester, well, enjoy those simple pleasures! In the end, all we really have is time, and each other.

Email: Keeping email in perspective [MA]

I'm glad you have a clear head in that regard. I have a hard time with people who say "I sent you an email 20 minutes ago; where is your reply?" and stuff like that. I have enough of an email IV because of work that I don't need one connected to my social life. I prefer to look at the big picture first, and email is a just a tool for that, not a be-all and end-all as some, who would prefer to hide away in a virtual world, might prefer.

No harping taken. None at all. :-)

Email: Character and grace [Ch]

I'm impressed and blessed that you took the time to answer my questions so straightforwardly. I guess I like communications and actually hearing back on things. You'd be amazed how many people don't do that (whether in personal or business email or conversations).

A decent partner who is capable of genuine affection and devotion may be hard to find outside of churchgoers, but that's life. I agree that it's about character and grace more than anything else. I also agree that when a couple has to work to hard at wanting to be together from the start, they are not as compatible as they could or should be.

Email: Fear no typos [LC]

Don't worry about your spelling. You do fine. I both commit and accept typos in chat and email because they are informal. I may be a nerd but I try not to intentionally be a huge one.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Email: The Chronicles of Narnia [SD]

The Chronicles of Narnia are wonderful books. Most Christians read at least the first one, many the rest. C.S. Lewis is one of the three greatest Christian authors of the last century ([with] Francis Schaeffer and J.R.R. Tolkien). The first book of the Chronicles is being released as a Disney movie later this year, and it looks fantastic. See the books' and the movie's websites.

Neologisms: maple sugar [slang]

The affections of a Canadian woman. (See brown sugar.)

Email: Humility is... [DB]

Of course our gifts are from the Giver! Saying we have them gives us no credit personally, nor should we take any. I have noticed among Christians often however a false humility, or downplaying those gifts in an attempt to deflect attention from self to God; but humans are more than worms. We are not merely Calvinist chess pieces; Mary the Mother of God was more than an empty shell "full of grace." How we respond to grace, and make our choices in life, matters. Seeds cannot grow in arid soil; and rich soil comes from choosing to remain or become so. It gives God greater, not less credit, to acknowledge (not deny or downplay) our gifts -- and to use them! Just so our perception is true and not colored or refracted by pride or conceit.

Email: Who am I? [Ka]

By make-nice I meant the appearance of civility (I've been spun on and stabbed in the back too). I like the simplicity of being paid well for doing good work. I am not political in the work place. I put the client first and then I apply my abilities as best I can (which is a lot). Your success is sometimes about initiative but mainly about doing the right thing, so anyone who doesn't appreciate that probably has status issues or is tasting sour grapes.

I have passion for just and fair communications, fair and kind relationships, and more. Standing up for the intended audience or customer is what I'm all about too (not politics which are always unnecessary).

Email: With open hands [JB]

Raise your concerns, sure, but focus on the positive, not the negative. Ask your questions as if they may work out, not in a forbidding tone that predicts they won't. We make our own reality. Our choices make the difference and help bring us success and happiness or defeat and sorrow. God can only give us what we have our hands open and ready to receive. When he gives us gifts, we should be looking up at his face, not down at his feet.

Email: Expectations vs. intentions [LD]

It's not like that at all. Think of it like this: We are going on a drive and I let you know the day before that I know such-and-such is happening (I may be expecting an important call that may run a tad over); I am letting you know that if I am slightly delayed, that is what's happening (so you don't wonder). This is a far cry from implying that I don't want to go on the trip at all.

I often find myself saying something in advance out of consideration, that gets mistaken as an implied message or hidden agenda; the person perceives rejection (probably because that is what he or she fears, but I'm no psychoanalyst). I fear that, since most men are incommunicative about their real motives, most people have been "trained" to perceive someone who is authentic and honest about their motives (appropriately, not indiscriminately) as weak or who knows what. I say what I mean, and I mean it from the start. If it changes, I'll let you know (sooner than later, if not promptly). Directness can be good for the soul -- within reason, that is, within boundaries.

Email: Who am I? [Ka]

I like to make friends and co-workers laugh but I'm primarily the intellectual type with intuition and common sense that becomes evident over time. (I favor dry humor over telegraphing my jokes, but I make everyman japes like "Does worker's compensation cover us if our butts fall off?" But see, I may be the only person you know to use the word "jape" in an email much less a conversation.) I like to paint things in broad clear colors in order to pin down where the room is standing. I am primarily an introvert -- I charge my batteries alone -- and a contemplative. However I love the mind play and word play of interacting with others. Whimsy and playfulness are a big part of me.

Sometimes I'm told I'm sharing "too much information" but it is as much as I am willing and able to share and receive, so the problem lies not with me but with others who cannot absorb or share that much of themselves. I am also told sometimes that I "think too much"! I finally realized that I think just the right amount for me; if someone else [finds] it hurts their brain to marshal an accounting of their opinion on a movie, for instance, well that is their issue. I know how to be me; I do not dare to tell others how to be themselves.

Email: Why men ask for a picture [Ch]

Please don't think [the sincere 5% of men who ask] for a picture [do so] for the shallow reasons that 95% of all men do. [They] do so because 95% of all profiles have a photo [and 4%] share one immediately afterwards -- and obviously, you have seen [the man's photo already]. [Women demand photos of men for the exact same reasons.] If you have reasons not to do so, [men] can respect that; but that usually involves stating that you have some, and possibly what they are. Put another way, if [you and a man] are speaking face-to-face, you do not have a bag over your head. [So] it is not abnormal to ask for a photo, it is abnormal to withhold one (esp. without an explanation). [Sincere men] don't play games and since you are a woman (who traditionally expects the man not to play games), all [any decent man is] asking for is to treat each other as equals.

Email: Women are complex [JB]

I didn't say you were complex because you were a woman, I said (implied) that you were more complex than me (which is the point you were trying to make) because men are not as complex (or nurturing or multitasking) as women in general. My [youngest] son's mother once told me that for a man, "You are so nurturing, you're almost maternal." Even so, I know I will never be as maternal (or color-coordinated or multitasking) as almost any woman.