Saturday, August 27, 2005

Email: "The joy of duty" [KF]

Maybe I still have too much of the Catholic in me. I worry that perhaps at times I sabotage my goals by pursuing "the joy of duty" (that's a John Lithgow reference there).

The key to your good writing is having clear, conversational voice. You connect and communicate well. Yes, you should sign your poems!

Email: Don't worry, be optimistic [AS]

I like to think we always have options. Just decide if you want to try something new or stick with what you know. You might be surprised if you just shop around. My advice: Don't think about the things you think will make it not work... Think about the things you think will make it work!

Neologisms: pubschlub, pubschlubby

A daily pub patron who is not so much sloppy drunk or even drunk, just sloppy; frowsy.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Email: Computer training [JS]

Some do [prefer individualized instruction to reading the manual]; it's OK; I appreciate the chance to help you. Yes, it is more effective [as a learning method], because it's customized.

Email: Yae! [MA]

I like Yae [as a preferred spelling for Yay]! It's more Celtic or medieval. Thanks for sharing!

Words: nonce [MW]

Main Entry: nonce
Pronunciation: nän(t)s
Function: noun
Etymology: Middle English nanes, alteration (from misdivision of then anes in such phrases as to then anes for the one purpose) of anes one purpose, irregular from an, on one -- more at ONE
1 : the one, particular, or present occasion, purpose, or use "for the nonce"
2 : the time being

Email: On or off the bus [LG]

A technology writer writes about technology: in my case, product catalogs, websites, white papers, stuff like that. A technical writer writes product specifications and documentation, but I do more: I put technology into a business context. It's important not to tell customers all the technology that a techie wants to know, but only as much as a customer wants to know. Besides that, I work at a high level and translate the broader business mission and technology vision into language that customers can understand, whether they are a chief, upper- or mid-level executive. (I also teach technology to non-executives and non-customers -- even retirees.)

I usually work from home but I go on site as needed. I can get my socializing outside of the office; that's where I can truly let my hair down anyway. [Your] work in a church is all about conversation and relationships. To get paid, I have to produce what we call deliverables; to get paid, you just have to interact with and help people. That's why I like teaching; that, and my students laugh at my jokes.

I explain this puzzling desire among some to "retire" from kids by a "been there, done that" mentality -- which to me seems uncomfortably like cynicism or withdrawal. I don't plan to be done holding babies or changing diapers until I can physically no longer do so (in my 90s?). I do think there are two kinds of people: those who choose to always grow and those who choose to recede or fold in on themselves. That's a slippery slope I just prefer to avoid by charging furiously in the opposite direction.

Welcome to Texas (if one transplanted Texan may say so to another)!

Faith: Judge thine own house first

(via the AnamTuras list, by, regarding I Cor 5:12-13 [NAB]: "For why should I be judging outsiders? Is it not your business to judge those within? God will judge those outside.")

"What I find fascinating is the fact that [Paul] encourages early Christians to continually exercise their faculty of judgment when it comes to the conduct, lifestyle and public demeanor of fellow Christians.  This was simply common sense: he wanted Christians to display at least an internal consistency of faith and conduct so there would be no confusion as to what Christians practiced as the basic hallmarks of a life of appropriate piety. On the other hand, non-Christians were off-limits. No moral 'uppityness' and looking down one's nose at the lifestyles of the 'heathen'. That was between God and them. What a far cry from fundamentalists who rant and rave and stand in continual public judgment about how the secular, non-Christian mores of our society are supposedly sending this country (USA) collectively into the jaws of a hungry Devil. Paul's attitude was to let God be concerned about the world; Christians had their plate full just keeping their own house in order!"

(The problem is that fundamentalists define themselves in reaction to their enemies, chief among these being modernity and all the complexities that come with it.)

Email: Second Baptist rocks [MA]

I'm glad you're happy at Second Baptist. They seem very mature, however for me to go deeper they were pushing for Fri and Sat night involvements in shepherd and worship programs that I couldn't do. Wow, you must be really happy to have such a close relationship with a pastor! I have longed for something like that all of my life -- but that's a story for another time. You know, there are born-again Catholics (many are charismatics). I like to attend a number of congregations and denominations in order to keep "in the loop" and not get focused only on my home congregation and denomination. Call it the theologian in me.

I applaud Second Baptist for all it has done for you in your tough times. That's what being a church is all about.

Being shy, or scared, is actually being in a place of grace. It means you're not in control, and you can truly trust God to lead you through whatever it is.

Email: Standing above the fray [MA]

Rebound relationships are never a good idea (though they might seem so at the time).

Isn't it weird that so often we have two failed relationships before we find the one that works? It almost makes me want to concoct a Marxist (dialectical) model of relationships: ranging from one side of the valley to the other, until we know the lay of the land well enough to avoid the bear traps (who in many cases [turns out to be] an alcoholic, abusive control freak).

You absolutely did the right thing to put your children before "the dating wars" as you call them. Isn't that a satisfying feeling, to put yourself above the fray? And growing closer to God only makes it all better too.

So you liked War of the Worlds? I'll probably see it sometime. Right now I want to see if Tom is going to settle down and be less creepy, but somehow (knowing those scifreaks) I doubt that.

Every girl needs to get away from the computer screen and let a certain number of men see her face, or her complexion becomes less radiant and more (as Garry Trudeau described the pale dweebs who bask in fluorescent light) "cool minty green"!

Email: It's a mega world [CT]

Yes, the [must-have] Internet; now we even rely on always-on connections! It's not quite as bad as "the power is out so now I can't do anything but shower" but it's getting there.

I hate shopping at Wal-Mart too, esp. the Conroe one! So massive and dreary.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Dialogues: Being smart vs. popular

(I received a comment from DL about 20 years ago. Here is what I wanted to say.)

Q. Gee, what if being so smart means you're not very popular?
A. I'd rather be smart than popular. A shy person can learn to be gregarious, but a stupid person can't learn to be smart. And no one can learn or improve anything unless he or she is smart in the first place.

Scripture: Faith to move mountains (Mt 17:20)

Matthew 17:20: "'Amen, I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.'" (NAB)

One thing I've always pointed out about this passage is that Christ says, "If you have faith" (in even the most miniscule amount, period). He doesn't say, "If you have faith (that the mountain will be moved)"! And what is the only thing or person we can have faith in? God! So Christ is really saying, "If you have faith (in God, that is only) the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, 'Move ...,' and it will move." Therefore faith has nothing to do with the size of the faith, the size of the mountain, the size (or age) of the believer, the strength with which the believer screws up his eyes or how fervently he prays. Nothing judged humanly to be significant -- it's all up to God.

(I will probably create another weblog eventually to house this and other Scripture-specific posts, including my Bible translation work. All in good time.)

Email: From Distraction to Action [DB]

Hey, I'm idealistic! I'm just in the real (secular) world too. Come to think of it, maybe I'd have more commercial success if I stayed a bit more in the ivory tower.

You hit the nail on the head: "in the world but not of it." (I was going to say "wise as serpents yet innocent as lambs" but I was either writing too fast or thinking too slow.) I truly believe the Corinthian Christians knew what was going on in their society, and could name names. If you think our Christian nation has it bad, go read up on Corinth. Think Extreme Sports San Francisco.

It's human to conserve one's attention span; but I think Christians should be better at stretching this than many are. It has to do with conservatism, really, which by definition wants things to stay the same -- or to roll back to the way they used to be. That's why I say I am a Christian progressive -- I apply my values daily, but to the present and the future, not wishing for the past.

The conservative bit has another effect on learning and teaching scripture, which is almost exclusively about conveying orthodoxy -- very important -- but only in traditional, not progressive terms. In other words, it's typically about "this is what's been taught and done before" instead of "here's how we might consider addressing new societal challenges." Put another way, how many Christian poets and original hymn [not ditty] writers do you know? There are virtually none.

It's scary to think that we might be judged (as you say) for what we didn't at least try to cure, stop, fix or resolve -- not just for the ways we are self-involved, but for the needs we never noticed. (Right; thank God for Our Lady Oprah.) It is our task to span the gap between where we are now and our bright examples of total surrender to Christ in the last century: D.L. Moody, Billy Graham, Mother Theresa, John Paul II, Dietrich Bonhoeffer and others.

Email: "Osama captured" e-mail is a virus [BW]

I checked the source code for your email (View menu, Source submenu) just to make sure it wasn't a ve-e-ry sneaky trick, then I verified the Osama captured link on Snopes. Yep, a real virus that has been in circulation for many months!

I am posting this on my weblog so I do not have to send bulk emails to everyone I know; Twerpette is now my one-stop info shop.

FYI when you send out bulk mails, please use the Blind Copies (Bcc:) not the main (To:) field for everyone's email addresses, since one way for spammers to get addresses is to lurk downstream from all the others who will forward your email at least as widely as you.

Email: From Distraction to Action [CC]

If you’re writing for [Christianity Today], you’re a journalist. My career is probably similar to yours, and the only way to describe it all is to say I’m a writer/editor and see if the person wants to know more about what that means.

Oh, I think God had his hand in bringing all these issues to your attention in a personal way, specifically so you could write your article. No matter what we know, he can always help us learn more, and bring it closer to home. We hear of our troops dying in Iraq, but once it happens to a family we know, it becomes so real we can taste it. I’m glad you wrote the article, and I hope I didn’t give any other impression.

I don’t go to bars or dance floors either. But just flip to BET or TNL anytime to see the booty-shaking and you know what we’re dealing with, at least from the top-down of the popular media.

Thanks for sending me the link to your CT article "The Too-Friendly Skies," where you met this married guy. I really do feel sorrow for all the times that married men pull this on single women. Women do it to men too, of course, though I believe with men it’s much more common. It should never happen. It’s opportunistic or intentional, it’s deceptive and dishonest, and it’s a sin against God and all three persons concerned.

Before he [co-]wrote the Left Behind series, Jerry Jenkins said he typically went back and forth between writing for magazines and editing them. Many Christian writers and journalists I know may alternate between Christian and secular ventures. It’s all the same as far as the tools and the ethics, though of course it makes a greater difference for the kingdom of Christ if you work on the Lord’s payroll. You currently have the better lot! Thanks for the explanation and I hope you didn’t feel defensive or that I was being offensive. We’re all in this together.

Email: Survival of the smartest [DB]

Survival [through the tsunamis] was more about paying attention to the clues in nature (through our “lesser” but just as valid forebrains), as well as using one’s cerebrum to back away, saying: “Um, guys... There’s a huge wall of water headed this way... HEAD FOR THE HILLS!!!!”

Email: From Distraction to Action [DB]

I honestly can't believe some of these articles in Christianity Today (or any other Christian magazine). It's like a CT editor told me once: The Wheaton environs have become a Christian enclave with no concept of what the real world is like.

Yes, Satan would like to distract Christian as well as non-Christian singles with career advancement, socializing, dirty dancing -- anything sinful or even merely good that will keep us from helping others in Christ. But I see the problem more as due to singles' own ignorance and lack of preparation.

The author (of yesterday's Christianity Today article "From Distraction to Action") is a journalist and didn't know that such atrocities against women go on around the world? She's never been out dancing in public before? She's holding hands with a guy who she hasn't asked first if he's married? Has she ever heard of, much less read, the book Never Be Lied to Again?

My point is always this: How can we be ready to face and address these social conditions with the Lord's courage if so many Christians don't even know the lay of the land? Christians have created their own ghetto to preserve themselves from impurity; but as with the refugees to suburbia, that means no one is working to improve the inner city.

We live in a free country and are justified to pursue our own happiness and make meaningful contributions through marriage, family, career, ministry and so on. However, the day that it becomes all about us and nothing about Christ is the day we have strayed too far.

The author [for whom I have total respect] is clearly what I call a "professional Christian" who is all about befriending and ministering to other Christians. I wonder how many non-Christians she counts as friends and knows well. "Bold prayers" to be protected from "Satan's snares"? It's easy to feel bold in training camp -- but God wants us to be snipers and special forces right out in the arena of battle. That's where we develop our courage: on the front lines, not behind them.

Spiritual epiphany is right -- but these things have been right in front of every Christian's physical eyes for every day of their lives.

Weblogs: Doxology

Clearly I have not had time to implement or post photos on Twerpette yet (though I have a mug shot from 2003 on my Technorati profile which appears in the sidebar). This will be solved soon after I reconfigure two laptops and a wireless network.

In lieu of a photo of Molley for the time being, check out Darwin the doxie (dachsie) on Doxology.

Email: [DS]

Every male dating guru is promoting his self-published books where he confidently if repetitively tells desperate men the same stuff: be funny, be confident, be mysterious (i.e., women seek a pleasant, secure challenge in a man). However, it's a pretty weird Q&A gestalt, where what's being asked and answered is basically: How can I get every "10" woman, or 10 out of every 10 women, to fall all over me (simultaneously if possible) within two minutes of meeting up -- or if she's not interested at first, what do I do to make her want me? Young turks really do believe that they can and should have everything they want, and that a technique always exists to "make" (their word, every time) any woman comply with their wishes.

Musings: If married persons had halos

If married persons had halos, then single persons would know to always look the other way. Conversely, a halo would be harder to hide than a wedding ring.

Academe: Unskilled and Unaware of It

(via the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, "Unskilled and Unaware of It: How Difficulties in Recognizing One's Own Incompetence Lead to Inflated Self-Assessments")

Press: Who would Jesus assassinate?

(see Cagle's Cartoons on MSNBC's Slate)

(via Paint Stains, see I Drew This)

Email: Dixie Chicks [MG]

[I] saw the last part of an A&E [program] on the Dixie Chicks -- think what you will of them, I love their music and [creative,] independent spirit. I only wish other patriots would allow everyone to speak their mind and not be so lock-step and one-sided. Disagreeing with them and boycotting their music is fine, but making death threats and vandalizing their homes is just plain terrorism.

Media: Pat Robertson clarifies his statement regarding Hugo Chavez

(via CBN and reproduced below, Pat Robertson gives the full text of his on-air remarks, apologizes for his call to assassinate Hugo Chavez, then justifies the need to assassinate Hugo Chavez; his "clarification" goes on to cite Dietrich Bonhoeffer's collaboration in Hitler's assassination, which most would agree was justified -- so here we have another apology from a Christian media leader that reveals his morality to be more deluded than we thought: Robertson thinks Chavez is as bad as Hitler and thinks Chavez should be assassinated, by private citizens if not by national policy, but he's sorry for having said so, which is why he said so again but with more weasely words)

"In my frustration that the U.S. and the world community are ignoring this threat, I said the following:

'Thanks, Dale. If you look back just a few years, there was a popular coup that overthrew him; and what did the United States State Department do about it? Virtually nothing; and as a result, within about 48 hours, that coup was broken, Chavez was back in power. But we had a chance to move in. He has destroyed the Venezuelan economy, and he’s going to make that a launching pad for communist infiltration and Muslim extremism all over the continent. I don’t know about this doctrine of assassination, but if he thinks we’re trying to assassinate him, I think we really ought to go ahead and do it. It’s a whole lot cheaper than starting a war, and I don’t think any oil shipments will stop. But this man is a terrific danger, and this is in our sphere of influence, so we can’t let this happen. We have the Monroe Doctrine, and we have other doctrines that we have announced, and without question, this is a dangerous enemy to our south, controlling a huge pool of oil that could hurt us very badly. We have the ability to take him out, and I think the time has come that we exercise that ability. We don’t need another 200-billion-dollar war to get rid of one strong-arm dictator. It’s a whole lot easier to have some of the covert operatives do the job and then get it over with.'

Is it right to call for assassination? No, and I apologize for that statement. I spoke in frustration that we should accommodate the man who thinks the U.S. is out to kill him.

Col. Chavez has found common cause with terrorists such as the noted assassin Carlos the Jackal, has visited Iran reportedly to gain access to nuclear technology, and has referred to Saddam Hussein and Fidel Castro as his comrades. Col. Chavez also intends to fund the violent overthrow of democratically elected governments throughout South America, beginning with neighboring Colombia.

As I report the news daily from around the world, I am acutely conscious of the fact that our nation is at war. Not only are there active wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, but there is a war of terror being waged against civilized nations throughout the world.

We are in the midst of a war that is draining vast amounts of our treasure and is costing the blood of our armed forces. I am a person who believes in peace, but not peace at any price. However, I said before the war in Iraq began that the wisest course would be to wage war against Saddam Hussein, not the whole nation of Iraq. When faced with the threat of a comparable dictator in our own hemisphere, would it not be wiser to wage war against one person rather than finding ourselves down the road locked in another bitter struggle with a whole nation?"

Weblogs: He was this close to carrying a goat

(via Overheard in New York)

Girl #1: I don't think I can walk anymore.
Guy #1: C'mon, I'll carry you.
Girl #2: You're carrying her all the way to 72nd?
Guy #2: Dude, you're not gonna make it.
Girl #1: It's okay, you don't--
Guy #1: It'll be fine.
Hobo: That place sure has great door prizes.

--Tavern on the Green, West 67th Street

Weblogs: Wednesday one-liners must seek therapy

(via Overheard in New York)

Woman: He doesn't like people who are deep, and sometimes I'm so deep that I can't even understand myself. *Sigh*

--American Bible Society lobby, Columbus Circle

Chick: The problem with a long-distance relationship is that so much of it occurs in the mind. And my mind is insane.

--Belgian Beer Bar, W. 4th Street

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Trivia: I am an Existentialist

Your life is guided by the concept of Existentialism: You choose the meaning and purpose of your life.

'Man is condemned to be free; because once thrown into the world, he is responsible for everything he does.' ... 'It is up to you to give [life] a meaning. -- Jean-Paul Sartre
'It is man's natural sickness to believe that he possesses the Truth.' -- Blaise Pascal
More info at Arocoun's Wikipedia User Page...



Justice (Fairness)




Divine Command






Strong Egoism






What philosophy do you follow? (v1.03)
created with

Journalism: Cable news is killing journalism

In the real-life wartime reportage portrayed in The Killing Fields, Sidney Schanberg and Dith Pran did whatever it took -- whatever it took -- to get to where the killing was happening in order to report the truth of the Vietnam War first-hand. They risked their lives every day in what now amounts to "the glory days" of war reportage.

Then we were anesthetized by the live coverage of the First Gulf War. Next, the news was sanitized by the Bush administration's mixed blessing of "embedding journalists" during the Second Gulf War (which is still ongoing). Meanwhile, earth-shaking events occur around the world (the Venezuelan strikes, the Nuevo Laredo murders, the Darfur genocides) that are barely mentioned on U.S. cable news. You have to go to the BBC or any foreign-language broadcast to find out what is really going on in the rest of the world.

The neoconservatives with, yes, the "liberal news media" (which is noticeably beginning to suck up to the conservatives while never reporting the truly liberal stories you will hear on Democracy Now) have hermeticized this nation like a packet of giblet leftovers. For years now, it seems CNN and the other cable TV news stations repeat the same four headlines every 15 minutes throughout the day. Most of these snippets originate from politically motivated spin doctors, sensationalistic celebrity accusations or tragically missing women and children -- rarely from actual news events (which I define as "something significant and new that happened today, or even in the last hour").

Today, CNN reported on a major clash between insurgents and Iraqi police with coalition forces by training a camera into the misty urban distance. It explained the trenchant view by saying, "We saw smoke in that direction in the beginning." Interspersed with this view, CNN interviewed a retired military figure who had written a book on the coalition.

Did any reporter go there to see what was happening? Did anyone do anything but sit on their asses in the studio, "reporting" what was fed to them by phone or "background color" interview (which they pay their slate of "experts" to provide)?

Cable TV is no longer about reporting the news, but managing the news cycle. It does not report that a giant anaconda swallowed a pig, but that on day 20 of the anaconda crisis, the pig is now 50% of the way through the anaconda's digestive tract -- or maybe 40%, if you face off a conservative anaconda expert with a liberal one and let them yell at each other for a while.

Peeves: "A lot"

Professional trainers and especially cable TV news anchors who pepper their supposedly factual characterizations with "a lot" nearly give me the hives; that is, they bug me a great deal (a term which, while marginally more descriptive than a lot, is at least not expected to express a quantity).

A lot of terrorists..., A lot of senior citizens..., A lot of kids..., A lot of people... -- or that ultimate in folksiness, A lot of folks... Whatever kinds of numbers we are discussing, could we at least provide approximate ones with the somewhat more specific a handful, a dozen, one hundred or a thousand? I believe we can even use multiples of these, such as a few dozen, 200, 500, and so on. Of course, this assumes CNN (for example) is too lazy or incompetent to acquire actual numbers for its reportage.

Bumpers: You can't say Abba until you say Uncle

Band Names: Def Limpet Buzcutt

Musings: Explanation vs. excuse

The difference between an explanation and an excuse: the former entails the acceptance of responsibility followed by action to resolve the problem, while the latter seeks to evade both.

Politics: My son is proof a fetus feels pain

To make a long story short, my youngest son was a "live wire" in utero, kicking constantly in the womb -- until his fifth month.

Then he stopped moving -- frozen from all activity. Clearly, something was seriously wrong.

With the best prenatal care Houston could offer, details were still murky. Then, at seven months, he went into "fetal distress" -- he (and probably his mother) would die unless birth was induced immediately.

My son was born two months prematurely and weighed more than nine pounds.

He lost two pounds after surgery to remove a massive growth in his abdomen (which proved to be an extremely rare case of lung tissue on the wrong side of his diaphragm). It was like having a basketball inside your gut.

No one will ever convince me that a fetus doesn't feel pain.

Prenatal surgeons medicate every fetus against pain during procedures that do not lead to termination of their lives. They do not do so out of superstition. Abortionists simply do not care whether an aborted fetus feels pain. For this reason, they do not wish to advise pregnant women about fetal pain; it's bad for business because it might scare away customers.

And that is not only a breach of medical ethics, but of humanity.

Weblogs: 'Tis the spring of the soul today

(via Loose Canon after the murder of Brother Roger of Taize, one of the most seminal and in one sense relatively unsung religious figures of the last century)

"One can't help noticing that Taize is near Cluny, one of the great centers of monastic reform in the in the Middle Ages. As with earlier monastic communities, the Taize movement put great emphasis on music. Brother Roger was a classically-trained musician, and the chant he developed is now used in churches all over the world.

A mixture of Catholic and Protestant traditions, Taize is a magnet for pilgrims. As Dominican priest Patrick [J.] Burke observed [in Spirituality Today]:

'Each day the Prior and community at Taize invite and welcome visitors to participate in their common prayer. Three times a day the Church of Reconciliation is packed to capacity for the hour-long services of praise and intercession. The structure of the prayer is similar to that of the 'Divine Office' from the Catholic monastic tradition consisting of a hymn, psalms, scripture reading and intercessions. Roger encourages simplicity in the Rule concerning prayer and warns of the danger of multiplying signs and symbols which only lead to confusion. Common prayer is not an end in itself but only leads to the love of Jesus growing in our hearts. Neither does it dispense us from personal prayer; rather the two support and nurture each other.

'All prayer is a surrendering to the living word of God, allowing it to penetrate our inmost being, 'melting and molding us' into the image of Christ himself. It is a listening, a searching, a seeking, a place of hunger and thirst and yet also a place of joy, jubilation, and fulfillment.'"

Weblogs: Christianity from the perspective of a Hindu

(via deep soil, a passage from Life of Pi by novelist Yann Martel)

"'The death of the Son must be real. Father Martin assured me that it was. But once a dead God, always a dead God, even resurrected. The Son must have the taste of death forever in his mouth. The Trinity must be tainted by it; there must be a certain stench at the right hand of God the Father. The horror must be real. Why would God wish that upon Himself? Why no leave death to the mortals? Why make dirty what is beautiful, spoil what is perfect?

Love. That was Father Martin's answer.'"

Weblogs: Transparency

(via The Doctor Is In, a good second-part article on the need for transparency in the medical and other professions)

Weblogs: Another letter I hate writing

(via Church of the Masses)

"I always wonder if surgeons get these kinds of letters...

Dear Dr. Surgeon Person -
I have always wanted to be a successful surgeon. I love the idea of being very wealthy and respected, and of saving people's lives. I have read a book on Anatomy and my mother's cousin was a dentist. I was wondering if you could give me some advice about how I should get started in surgery. I would be willing to come and meet with you, and maybe meet some of your other surgeon friends, and even just hang around the hospital and see what happens. I know you are really busy, but look at this as helping out a future friend in surgery who shares your values!
You can reach me at home at ###-###-####. Or my cel ###-###-###.
Thanks -
LD in Cheyenne

Of course, these kinds of letters get placed on the bottom of everybody's stack. It isn't so much that they take a lot of time to answer (which they do), or that often people get annoyed with the answers I send (which they do), as much as it is that I don't really think I can help someone in an email or letter or phone call. There is no way for me to analyse someone's dreams or aspirations. If they have a script or a reel, they can try and get us to take a look - and if they pay us they move up in the pile. The advice is stunningly similar in the end: 'Find out what you are good at. Do that. A lot. And spend lots of time and money in your professional development. Have your efforts measured by professionals. Don't give up if you love it.'"

Words: Tenterhooks [MW]

(via AnotherThink)

tenterhooks: (n) metal hooks used by tent-makers to stretch and hold cloth while making a tent.

to be on tenterhooks: (expresssion) to be held in a state of painful suspense or impatience. The OED finds the earliest use of this expression in Tobias Smollett's 1748 work The Adventures of Roderick Random: 'I left him upon the tenter-hooks of impatient uncertainty.' (Sources: OED, Merriam-Webster Online)

Example from the news: Pogatetz on tenterhooks: 'Emanuel Pogatetz will have to wait another week before learning the outcome of his appeal.'

Example from Scripture: Don't stretch yourself on tenterhooks over what you are to eat or drink or wear. Only the faithless entertain such worries. Your heavenly Father already knows all that you need, and he will provide it all to you daily if you put him first and make His Kingdom your highest priority. - Matthew 6:31-33 (paraphrase)

Caution: Americans sometimes mistakenly say and write this word as tenderhooks.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Art: Doxology by Rob Pepper

Rob Pepper: "Rob's own journey, forged in reaction to the decay of western christianity, and distilled through an eastern perspective gives him a unique perception of Jesus. Doxology reinterprets the figure of Jesus for post-christian culture, not with the reductionism of the late modernist 'historical Jesus' concept, but seen through the richness of artistic tradition within the church, in order to express the reality of peoples encounter with this Jesus through the centuries."

Press: Branding for the Lord [CSM]

(via Rebecca's Pocket: "Churches seeking marketing-savvy breed of pastors" - Christian Science Monitor

"'The church in more ways than not is mirroring Wall Street and the world and Madison Avenue,' says H. B. London, vice president of pastoral ministries at Focus on the Family, a national resource network for evangelical Christians. 'We're [lagging] behind them to a certain degree, but we're using all their techniques.'

What would Jesus do?"

Mislyrics: Gypsy Kings - Volare

This karaoke version of "Volare" is a hoot, even more so since it is in German and makes the lyrics look like Turkish agglutinative phrasings.

Press: Cute librarian biker chick

(via Shush, a profile of Sarah Wisdom in the Yuma Sun)

"'Librarians are so cool! It's the best-kept secret in the world,' Wisdom said, giggling. 'But if everyone found out, everyone would want to be one.'"

Mislyrics: Men At Work - Down Under

(via Am I Right, a website for misheard song lyrics)

(Now wait a minute! Not only did this version sound right to me at the time, but I read an article which explained how "chunder" is an Aussie word for "blow chunks"!)

"Misheard Lyrics:
Do you come from a land down under?
Where women throw and men chunder?
Original Lyrics:
Do you come from a land down under?
Where women glow and men plunder?"

Email: Sharing the peace [DB]

I prefer to think that "the world" has evangelized the church so that modern people are nervous about exchanging the peace [during the liturgy]; I'm pretty sure it was a festive time back when all Christians in a congregation knew and loved each other well!

Email: Vocations in life [JE]

Feel free to ask me any theology questions you want. I'm happy to discuss anything.

I think it's great that your grandmother thought enough of you to recommend marrying a preacher -- and poignant that you thought you were wrong for that. Humility is a gift.

Hey now, don't be praying that I become a priest...! Or if you do, pray at least as often that I can be married! No stacking the deck, spiritually speaking...

Faith: Where Christians mess up

Here's what I find wrong with Christian believers today -- besides a Pelagian dualism and an us-vs.-them mentality: Claiming to love the spirit of the law yet living by the letter of the law.

Too many believers preach rules and formulas in an effort to judge or control situations from a safe distance, instead of personally and incarnationally discerning what Jesus would do, then jumping in and doing it, in the fullness of love and without fear. It's as if they are standing at the top of a pit, telling the hapless soul who fell in to get out (though rarely how), as opposed to having fallen into that pit oneself before (or knowing someone who has), being familiar with a way out, and personally climbing down to pull or lead the other to an escape. Befriending others and genuinely being able to appreciate their good points is also a step in the right direction.

Church people, in an effort to preserve themselves from sin, too often preserve themselves from humanity. As a corollary to this, those who are better human beings (if not yet believers) can spy insincerity from a mile away and will avoid it at all costs.

It is not the purpose of a baseball team to play by the rules and preserve itself from errors; it is the soul of a true team effort to strive for personal excellence, pick oneself up after dropping the ball, and to do whatever it takes to pull together an athletic economy that produces a winning game. This can be expressed in the phrase "Got game?" or "Do you have your eye on the ball?"

It is vital for Christians and all moral persons to "play by the rules" and avoid cheating or complacency. We should never intentionally "sin." However, we ought never to hold back from playing full-out for fear of making a mistake. A sin requires forgiveness; mistakes are part of the human landscape. All God asks is that we continue to run the race, always in good faith and to the utmost of our ability.

Email: Cocoon or hard-to-get? [Sy]

I'm not sure whether you're drawing a cause-and-effect picture regarding work and your social life. You say you're shying away from going out; is this because you have enough work that you have no free time, or are you using work as a filler because you prefer to "cocoon" inside rather than go out and meet others? Far be it from me to try to psychoanalyze a social aversion; sometimes we pull into our shell because of bad experiences or we're just tired of trying. [Usually a man will not choose] to pursue a woman who says she doesn't want to go out. For your turn, if this is a hard-to-get play to see how fervently [a man will] pursue you, don't even go there; [usually a man] prefer[s] a confident, emotionally stable woman to one [he is] supposed to manipulate into being willing to do what she was supposedly wanting to do by joining a dating site. It is your responsibility to choose your friends and dating partners.

Houston, dial 311

Most Houstonians know they can dial 311 to report potholes or any other need for city services. However, it can take time to explain the problem 3-4 times over the phone. This is especially frustrating when the problem (nonexistent, incorrect and contradictory street and highway signs are chief among my peeves) persists unresolved anyway.

I just learned we may email our complaints or requests to I believe I'll do so to let them know of the broken link in the SimHouston Spanish documentation that led me to this tidbit.

Politics: Bush finally requests fuel efficiencies

President Bush sent Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta to Atlanta this morning to announce a "new" plan to require improved fuel efficiencies of 10% (that is, from 21 to 23 MPG per SUV) by 2011. The Bush administration claims it has been working on the plan for a year and its announcement has nothing to do with unprecedented gas prices or skyrocketing disapproval of the administration's oil policies.

Hm, let's do the math. Bush is in office for five years before he proposes a minimal fuel-efficiency plan, despite oil prices that for years have been rocketing towards today's $66 per barrel -- more than 220% over the previous unprecedented price gouge of $28 per barrel. Citizens are paying more than 200% of pre-Bush energy costs for oil, gas and electricity, and have been for years -- with gas prices predicted to continue climbing from today's $2.61 per gallon to $3.00 by year end. Anger over energy prices has reached the magical 50% mark above which Bush's approval ratings will be in a decreasing minority.

So out of the blue and claiming no connection with current price trends, Bush releases a plan that will have no effect for another five years. It will still require citizens to pay current and climbing energy rates for the second half of an entire decade!

Two conclusions are abundantly clear: Bush is again lying about the lack of a political motive for his actions, and Bush remains firmly in the pockets of Big Oil and its rapacious profiteering.

Bush has let Enron, ExxonMobil and all the rest steal our nest eggs -- our children's college tuition and our retirement funds. We don't get to keep the money we've earned; Enron, ExxonMobil and all the rest have been allowed to steal it. Have any of Bush's personal friends been called to accounts? No!

Politics is ever about compromise. The trouble with mixing faith and politics is that faith always comes out of the fray sullied -- covered with mud. Would a Christian allow such injustices to stand? No! But then, is a believer who puts politics above morality truly a believer?

Media: Pat Robertson, still insane (just more so)

CNN head honcho Pat Robertson is no stranger to controversy -- or to charges from citizens who possess the faculty of reason that he is more than crazy like a fox, he's insane.

I let Jon Stewart and The Daily Show lambaste Pat Robertson for praying on-air that God would create "more vacancies" on the U.S Supreme Court (which amounts to calling down a death wish from heaven, beseeching God to enfeeble or kill the highest justices in our land -- but only the nonconservative ones).

Well, I just heard Pat Robertson say of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, "I don't know about this policy of assassination, but I think we should go ahead and do it. It would be a lot cheaper than starting a war." So now we should illegally kill a sovereign nation's leader because he's a paranoid Marxist and it's more expedient than declaring war (again, over oil)?

Would someone please put Robertson in a box (air holes are optional), send him to Venezuela's president, and have him repeat those words to Chavez's face? I can't believe this horse's ass calls himself a man of God!

Musings: Squidward is a metrosexual

Plays clarinet... Wears shower cap... Sophisticated (or imagines self to be)...

(If he uses a loofah, is that spongeism or spongeicide...?)

Monday, August 22, 2005

Email: Enough of the L word [DB]

I think it's both [opportunity and loneliness]; you're right, singles can spin their wheels in searching more than marrieds do who often "settle in."

Email: Enough with the L word [DB]

(in response to the August 19 Wall Street Journal article "Living (and Bowling) Alone")

I find that most non-singles who write about singles equate being alone with being lonely (and damn lonely at that), whereas singles and singles ministry leaders claim the opposite reality (perhaps eager for better press), that living solo offers freedom and opportunity.

Internet: You might be an Episcopalian if...

You might be an Episcopalian if...

...if you recognize your neighbor, or rector, in the local liquor store and go over to greet him/her.

...if when you watch Star Wars and they say "May the force be with you", you automatically reply "And also with you."

...if you have totally memorized Rite I, Rite II and the first three episodes of The Vicar of Dibley.

...if while watching the movie "The Madness of King George" you're able to recite with the King, when he undergoes "surgery," the Collect for Purity.

...if words like "vouchsafe", "oblation", "supplications", "succor", "bewail", "wherefore", "dost", "meet", and "very" (in its archaic sense) are familiar to you even if you don't have a clue that they mean.

...if you can pronounce "innumerable benefits procured to us by the same."

...if hearing people pray in the language of "jesuswejus" makes you want to scream.

...if you can rattle off such tongue twisters like: "...who made there by his one oblation of himself once offered a full and perfect sacrifice, oblation and satisfaction for the sins of the world" and "Wherefore, O, Lord and Heavenly Father, we thy people, do celebrate and make here, with these gifts which we offer unto thee, the memorial thy Son hath commanded us to make..." without missing a beat.

...if someone says, "Let us pray" and you automatically hit your knees.

...if the word "Sewanee" puts a lump in your throat.

...if you catch yourself genuflecting or bowing as you enter a row of seats in a theater.

...if your choir director suggests discussing something over a beer after choir rehearsal.

...if, when visiting a Catholic Church, you are the only Ah-men amongst a sea of Ai-mens.

...if your covered dish for the potluck dinner is escargot in puff shells.

...if you think the most serious breach of propriety one can commit is failure to chill the salad forks.

...if  your picnic basket has sterling knives and forks (entree, fish, salad and cake).

...if you ever find yourself saying, "Oh, but we've never done it that way before."

...if you know that a sursum corda is not a surgical procedure.

...if you don't think Agnus Dei is a woman.

...if you know the difference between a surplice and a cotta...and the appropriate use of each.

...if you know that the nave is not a playing card.

...if you know that the Senior Warden and the Junior Warden are not positions in the local prison.

...if  your friend said "I'm truly sorry..." and you replied, "and you humbly repent?"

...if you reach a point when you're not sure about anything theologically but you still feel completely at home at the altar rail and somehow know you're meeting God there, even though you can't begin to understand how.

Websites: Alonovo grades corporations

Hallelujah! Finally a website -- Alonovo -- is grading corporations on their social responsibility so consumers who care can shop with their values in mind.

Technology: Cell-phone radiation

Check out the New York City Council's cell phone safety report for data on the radiation levels of nearly 400 cell phone models. While all models rate beneath the legal limit of 1.6 watts/kilogram, Motorola models fare the worst (but this is no surprise if you've followed this topic over the years). (Note: The report mispells the names of at least three major phone makers Panasonic, Siemens and SonyEricsson.)

Questions: foot shuffling

In Twerpette, Questions are lesser lights (dimbulbs?) compared to Peeves. Less than a Peeve and thus a Question, I'd like to ask: Why do people shuffle their feet?

Are they unaware of their steady shuff-shuff-shuff as they shamble across the floor in plain view of the public? Have they never been taught how low-class it looks? Do they just not care? Are they incapable of making a choice that affects their manners for the better? How lazy do you have to be to shuffle your feet everywhere you go?

When it comes to making an impression, foot shuffling seems on a par with breathing, or chewing, with one's mouth open. More than anything, it may signify an attention-deficit disorder: "Oh... I didn't know I was shuffling my feet" (or any number of other socially maligned bad habits).

Typos: Riggo Mortensen

Someone mistyped Riggo Mortensen, but I think she was confused between Viggo (as in vigor) Mortensen and that exact opposite of a compound verb, "rigor mortis-in'."

Press: [This] marriage might be doomed

(via Religion News Blog)

(It's never about being in the right, it's always about being in control.)

Marriage might be doomed
By the God Squad
The Buffalo News
August 20, 2005

Q: My husband has gotten involved with an independent fundamentalist church where the women are not allowed to speak in church. Women must obey their husbands without question. They must wear dresses at all times, and you cannot read any bible other than the King James Version. I was brought up in a First Baptist church where you were not forced to wear dresses and where the New International Version is at times quoted or read from to clarify points in the King James Version. This is seen by my husband as a perverse version of the bible, and he can't stand that the children and I go to this church.

He said he was leaving if I did not obey him. My youngest daughter asked him if he was leaving, and he said he had decided to stay and make me so miserable that I would leave. He would go days without speaking to any of us and many times not come home until 1 a.m. His obsession has made him turn from us completely. I finally asked him to leave. The people he is around compliment him for his behavior and tell him that God would bless him for being so dedicated to the lord that he would give up his family to serve him. I have asked him to go to counseling with me, but he says he doesn't need it.

A: When professional baseball players take steroids, it makes baseball look bad. When business executives steal money from their companies, it makes all business look bad. And when churches divide families like the church your husband has chosen, it makes all organized religion look bad.

Whatever your husband or your husband's minister might say, this is not authentic Christianity. Christianity does not teach that women must be slaves to their husbands. Christianity does not teach husbands to be abusive to those they should love and respect. We have seen many people who were depressed and angry, lonely and adrift, find their way to cults or fringe religious groups that reinforce their paranoia and further isolate them from their families. The cults know that their greatest threat is the love their new members have for their families. So they try to get these sad, impressionable people to believe that the people who most love them actually are the ones who most hate them.

If your child had come into the grips of a cult-like church, we would encourage you to make an intervention and get her deprogrammed. But this is your husband, and such an action is impossible. What you need to think about is whether the pain of separating from your husband is greater than the pain of living with him. Only you can answer this question.

Monsignor Tom Hartman and Rabbi Marc Gellman will try to answer your religious, personal or ethical questions. Contact the God Squad,

Musings: Essence of Starbuck's

My oldest son has a bloodhound's nose; he can smell a roadkill skunk five seconds sooner than I can. I have a dachshund's nose though; I once smelled a hairline natural gas leak in my basement which neither the technician nor his sniffer could detect until he soaped the pipe.

Another time at work, however, I thought I smelled natural gas when it turned out to be a co-worker's garlic bagel.

A man sat near me in public this morning who seemed to smell strongly of cigar. Then I noticed he had a travel mug of coffee (brand unknown) and suddenly I was reminded of trademark pungent aroma of Starbuck's coffee. I never realized how similar a whiff of a cigar vs. Starbuck's coffee really are.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Email: When churches fail singles [JB]

If I may say one thing, I wonder if you are going to the wrong church. Any assembly that criticizes singles (through well-meant idiocies like married people foisting books on you that say don't kiss till marriage) and fails to have any single members or to support an effective singles ministry (i.e. not serving singles' real needs, or else they would be dynamically drawn to serve and interact within the church) or refuses to allow singles to talk to married persons of the opposite sex ... I'm sorry but this is all bullshit, this is what I call crowd-control techniques, [this is fear and ignorance,] this is not having a servant's heart but a you-serve-our-needs fixation.

Like the "war on terror," you don't make headway by burying everyone's head in the sand, or even going on the offensive in enemy territory; you win any war by "winning the hearts and minds" of the oppressed citizenry. How can believers be so blind? [Because they are more about the rule of the beliefs than incarnational compassion for the people those beliefs are intended to heal.] The only frontline options are defense, offense, or directly appealing to the oppressed (and actually meeting their needs). Why do so many believers think that ignoring a problem will solve it or make it go away?

Anyway it's none of their business who you are dating; only who you are serious about marrying. Any church that wants you to "confess" your sins more than other members confess their own, is likely using that information unilaterally to be emotionally manipulative with you. If you feel compelled to tell them that you are dating on the Internet, then they are violating your personal boundaries. If you don't feel compelled to share this, why the heck would you do so? Tell your closest friends but not everyone at church; they hardly know you from Eve [and will only think the worse of you]. Anyway, conservative Christians who married before the Web was invented can hardly be expected to be "with it" enough to understand what is really up nowadays. Yes, the Internet has dangers, but only to people who are blind enough to be fooled. To sum up, if someone can offer you specific reasons instead of vague forebodings surrounding their advice or recommendations, then listen to them; but hot air wastes breath and time, not to mention it makes those who believe old wives' tales just as ignorant as those who convey them.

I hope you find the companionship you seek, in the Lord's time.

Email: Time and tasks [KF]

It's nice that you think, speak and write in a natural flow. It's a skill I share. (Communication styles that would be opposite mine: "Well, you're just a poopyhead!" ... "Why, you...! Ooh...! I'm just so mad...!" ... "...whereas the party of the first part agrees with the party of the second part...") It's a new phase of my life but I no longer pay attention to those who criticize me for petty things that I see are actually one of my unique strengths but which they don't understand because they lack it and can't even go there psychologically.

It doesn't matter if you require a double-redundant system to meet your appointments; any disciplined and organized person does whatever works, and who the hell else should care about how they do it? It's an external thing that the small mind would pay attention to instead of the greater tasks that you accomplish through such disciplines; it's like asking the great author "So do you use a fine-lined or school-lined notebook?" instead of "So how did you get the inspiration for this character?" [It would be interesting to show others] my various systems over the years for organizing my incredible workflow [as well as a commercial product I helped launch in 2003]; I still envision a system to beat them all (this would be one of my software development projects).

It is possible, however, to try to be "too organized"; I think the key is having a cut-off line focused by one's larger goals and priorities. As you can agree with me, it's almost a curse to have high levels of imagination, memory and organization all at once; you come up with more to do than anyone else, you forget nothing, and you drive yourself crazy by trying to get it all done. I think there are two cognitive styles that people tend to adopt, at work or in life or in relationships: Forget 10-60% of the stuff that occurs or happens to you and move on, or forget nothing and work to resolve or accomplish the 40-90% that is humanly possible. I'd much rather be in the latter camp.

Internet: "Bar-code hair" [J-List]

(via J-List by Peter Payne)

The Japanese have an interesting sense of things sometimes, which never fails to impress me. A balding man with a comb-over and lines of hair on the top of his said is said to have "bar code hair," which is certainly an interesting way to look at things. On one Japanese TV show I caught, they touched a bar code reader to men's hair to see what amount came up on the register, then they gave that amount of money to each man.