Wednesday, December 23, 2009

There are WAY too many bowls

We have had too much experience with the doctor, and now it's the car doctor. I took the car in for an oil change and a tire rotation. Of course they found more. The front tires were worn out, as was the rotor and the brake pads. A $30 trip turned into $720.

Brother, can you spare a dime?

This isn't the only strange thing going on in this world… I was watching ESPN, and they were discussing bowls. Then they mentioned the "San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl". The Poinsettia Bowl is hardly tier one (or even tier three), but it makes me upset. If a Credit Union can buy a bowl, I could have had the Bowl.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Open Prayer Requests

I ask everyone to pray for the salvation of my great-uncle "R". He knows nothing about the Bible, little about Christianity, and has absolutely no hope. I've been working to witness to him ever since my grandfather (his brother) passed away, with little effect. He is too much of a boor to hear what I'm saying. For Christmas, I gave him a care package of a Bible and several study books, and wrote a letter to witness to him. Like the sower, I've spread my seeds. Now, please pray that God leads him to read those books and makes those seeds grow.

Second, my brother-in-law W has been tentatively diagnosed with esophageal cancer, and the doctor thinks it's spreading throughout his body. Since the tests (biopsy, etc.) are not done (they will occur this week and next), we are praying that the doctor is mistaken and it is either not a tumor or that it's not malignant. If the doctor is correct, please pray that W receives peace and comfort from the Holy Spirit (W is a baptized believer).

Monday, December 21, 2009

An open tribulation Theory Blog

Over at Vox Popoli, SugarPi posted:
OK, Starbuck and DrTorch, you're tempting me beyond what Markku's admonition is able to restrain me. I'm dying to ask a sincere question that no end times, post-trib scholar I've read has been able to illuminate satisfactorily.

Comments are unmoderated. Ask and talk away.

Friday, December 11, 2009

The Manhattan Declaration -- Why I agree, and won't sign

I was reading R. C. Sproul's blog for a post by Sinclair Ferguson (more about it later), when I noted a post about The Manhattan Declaration.

I've heard some about the Manhattan Declaration, but between work and Number One Son being back in the hospital twice in the last month, we've been busy. When I read Sproul's blog post, I went and read the Declaration. In general, it makes me glad to see the Church making a principled stand on three of the serious issues facing America. I would prefer more clarity on fighting the evils of divorce and fornication too, but that's just me.

I also have trouble agreeing with RC's insistence that it would be wrong to sign the document because of whom else is signing it: Roman Catholics and Orthodox Christians. Sproul says:
The Manhattan Declaration confuses common grace and special grace by combining them. While I would march with the bishop of Rome and an Orthodox prelate to resist the slaughter of innocents in the womb, I could never ground that cobelligerency on the assumption that we share a common faith and a unified understanding of the gospel.

As a Restoration Movement adherant, I am naturally hesitant to distinguish between types of Christians. I believe in "Not the only Christians, just Christians only" motto. Sproul goes too far (IMHO) in condemning Catholics and the Orthodox in not agreeing with his theology.

Nonetheless, I won't sign, because Sproul is not totally wrong. There is a difference between saying "You're not Christian enough" and saying "I can't co-sign on your theology". Chuck Colson said, "This document is, in fact, a form of catechism for the foundational truths of the faith." I don't believe it is an adequate catechism; that is reserved for the Bible itself. Second, the document is incomplete: any such document should have condemned divorce, fornication, and the sexualization of our society (porn, etc.) in equally strong terms.

Finally, if it is a statement of theology, then I can't agree that all Catholics and all Orthodox are preaching exactly the same Gospel as I am. There are saved Catholics and saved Orthodox. However, the Orthodox church and the Roman Catholic church both teach as doctrine non-Biblical principles. I may be in Christian union with believers in both organizations, I most certainly am NOT in union with either organization itself, and the document implies that I am.

Even without arguing the Stone-Campbell "no creed but Christ", I won't be signing the Manhattan Declaration, no matter how much I agree with 99% of it.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Crass Consumerism

Once again, I've been suckered out on Black Friday for the sales. I think I've done the best I've done since I lined up 6 or 7 years ago to get a "free" computer.

Here's my deals, in order:
  • Staples had their 50 pack of jewel cases at $5. Since I'm completely out, this wasn't bad.
    However, I still have a beef. I don't care how "easy" it is, a rebate still is crap. The store takes my money, and then may give it back 2-3 months later. No thank you! I was going to buy Staples' 100 pack of CD-Rs and 50 pack of DVD-Rs, but instead of $5 each, they were $14 each with $9 rebate (I think).
  • There's a new Computers Plus store in Lexington. The people are nice, and the first thing you see in the store is a MacBook Pro. :) They had a $10 8G USB flash drive (something I've been needing for a while), with a $10 coupon for later. Unlike Staples, I was willing to pay $10 for the drive, so the coupon is just a bonus.
    One problem with then though: the owner has a Marine-style haircut. I don't trust short-haired computer people much... ;)
  • My best deal by far was Radio Shack's Gigaware USB headset. They're flimsy, and Radio Shack is useless for drivers (if you have Vista, start searching Google). However, my Mac loves them, and they've got the best sound I've heard out of headphones (and almost the best I've heard out of a computer, period). I bought two, and I may go back and get one or two more at these prices.
The one sale I'm disappointed in not happening: and claimed that would sell the Linksys WRT320N for $7. Unfortunately, there's no sign that they have, or that they will. If they would, I'd buy 4 at least. They'll run DD-WRT, and that would let me move the home network off of G and onto 5GHz N. Maybe that price will show up sometime soon.

(Interest disclosures: None. I didn't even give you links that make me money.)

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Time to leave California

It seems that California is raising payroll withholdings, as an interest-free loan. (Sorry for no hat tips, I saw this too many different places....) I am SO glad that I never wandered too far left of the country. At this rate, I expect California to be bankrupt in months.

Monday, October 19, 2009

It is well with my soul

I'm sorry for ignoring the blog. In one sense, I've been suffering the death of a thousand cuts, but on the other side the Lord has been so very faithful.

In the course of two weeks, I have had the following items break

  • the video card on "Precious"(*), my work laptop
  • The battery on my supervisor's spare MacBook, which I was borrowing.
  • Then the hard drive on the same MacBook dies, leaving it down. I had to scrounge a hard drive out of an older Dell laptop and restore my files again.
  • My co-worker's hard drive decided to die a few days later.
  • We had to cancel a trip out of town with our neighbors because our 7 person cabin ended up being a 4 person cabin...
  • I spent Sunday afternoon taking out the vinyl flooring I put in the kitchen just a few months ago. We have no idea how water got under it, but it did. This would be less depressing if we were finished paying it off... *blush*

Even so, it is well with my soul. All four of us are healthy (including Number 1 Son), and no one has the swine flu yet. Our house is intact, and we aren't bankrupt. I have good friends, good co-workers, a good job, and a good church.

To quote the song:
My sin not in part but the whole
Is nailed to the cross and I bear it no more
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, oh my soul

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Something long forgotten

Roman Polanski drugged and raped a 13 year old girl.

His arrest isn't about a great artist being persecuted. It's about a pedophile and rapist being caught to face justice.

There was a plea bargain that the judge was waffling on. I don't know California law from the 70s, but most states didn't require judges to follow plea bargains for sentencing.

Even if it did, Mr. Polanski ran first and asked questions later. He should be in jail in California, awaiting the results of his appeal.

Sorry, Roman, you're no OJ. I tolerated the Not Guilty verdict for OJ because IMHO the state didn't prove its case. You on the other hand are a dirty old man who ran from his jail time and should face it.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

And now the fun starts

Early this year, I told Milady, "I really hope they don't keep using the Great Depression as a to-do list". They are.
President Barack Obama has imposed new punitive tariffs on all car and light truck tires coming into the U.S. from China, a move Beijing condemned Saturday as protectionism and a violation of the guidelines of global trade.

At first, I thought the powers that be were "just" going to try to repeat Japan's 20 year depression. The same people that told Japan to let their banks fail are now propping up ours. However, getting into a trade war with our #1 creditor, one who has already publicly expressed doubts to our ability to pay(*), just isn't smart.

(*) There's no doubt about our ability to pay off our Treasuries: we can't. Sorry, sucker!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

I watched Fearless Leader's Speech

I was impressed that Fearless Leader essentially allowed the progressives go under the bus to save his plan. That said, I have little trouble with the bullet points; they sound good. The devil will be in the details, of course.

The Republican who gave the response looked like a complete and total idiot. He outlined the 4 Republican points, but Fearless Leader had already put them in his speech. Once again, the Republicans failed to not fail.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Snow Leopard is faster

My work copy of Precious, um, Snow Leopard is here, and I installed it tonight.

Wow. I am impressed. Everything in the OS really is faster. Mail flows faster. Exchange integration does 80% of what I could ever need in Outlook. Safari is a LOT faster. The only feature I've lost so far is network scanning for my Brother MFC-420CN, and I'll pester Brother and Apple about that tomorrow.

Of course, my adventures in .0 land are probably only just beginning.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

New Tim Hawkins Video

Normally, I don't repost videos, but my hero John Stossel had this one up. Tim Hawkins is a favorite of the Packrat family (watch The Wife Song. Now.)

The Government Can.

Friday, August 28, 2009

I can't bend my arms

If you're not allergic to poison ivy, you just haven't been exposed enough.

I never did believe that old saying, because I never was allergic to poison ivy. When I was a kid, I could walk through the stuff, and not even get a blister. Even recently, I might get one or two blisters while Milady would break out in full-body rashes.

It seems that now, I've been exposed enough. My left forearm is a constant and solid rash, and my right arm is a third of the way there. I am alternating calamine lotion, hydrocortisone cream, and antihistamines. Generic Zyrtec was definitely the best antihistamine, but the 24 hour dose only lasted 12 hours...

Excuse me while I work on taping on oven mitts.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

A comment over on Roger Ebert's Journal

I'm not done on this, but this is too good a post to just leave as a comment somewhere else.

Ebert: The government woudn't run the health care system. It would make insurance more affordable.

The dirty little secret of "health care reform" is that there are only three ways to decrease costs (Adam Smith 101): increase supply, decrease demand, and remove overhead. Let's take on each one individually.

Milady and I have talked to doctors about overhead. For the birth of Number 1 Son, her ob/gyn was barely clearing enough to order a pizza after the delivery. He ended up retiring to take care of his ailing father. Why? Insurance paperwork and liability insurance. I would like to see a pseudo-criminal system completely replace the current tort liability system. If a doctor commits malpractice, he is criminally liable to losing his license for X number of years. Allow private prosecution (as England does some still), but institute loser pays for them. Make the doctor liable for consequences without opening up unending financial liabilities onto the entire system. The Democratic plans make no tort reform, and do nothing to lower Medicare overhead (which are running doctors out of the system).

We are also making no steps to increase the number of doctors out there. There are less medical schools now than in 1900, and less doctors per capita than in 1900. Most medical schools are turning away 4 or 5 equally-qualified students for every 1 admitted. Allow doctors a path through to where they aren't crushed by debt, and make a bunch more of them.

As an aside, make doctors publish price lists, and make insurance companies publish their payment lists. One price for everyone. I shouldn't pay $200 for what Humana pays $40. Instead, the doctor charges $50, and Humana pays up to $60, so I'm happy. Or maybe Humana pays $40, but the doctor charges $50, and I have to cough up $10. Most other people would face jail time for what is called business as usual in the insurance field.

The third step is lowering demand, aka rationing. No one wants to say "you can't have it", but we need to say so. We want to tell the lazy poor "get out of the ER, go to the free clinic in the morning". 90% of the people who get cholesterol medicine don't really need it; it's just that the 10% who do need it need it desperately. We just can't tell right now who the 10% are. Most areas of the country don't have enough need of a medical helicopter to justify it. They also don't need a trauma center enough to justify it either.

The British and the Canadians have made those choices, and most of the time they work. If you have something simple, you get a treatment, and it works. But the edges are where the cost savings hit the road. If Natasha Richardson had been in the US, she would have been in range of a medical helicopter and a Grade 1 trauma center. Only God knows if she'd have lived, but because she was stuck with ground transportation and multiple hours from any trauma center, she didn't have a chance. Canada works because the US back-stops it. The really bad cases (troubled pregnancies, denied claims, etc.) can cross the border.

The real question: who pays for the really expensive stuff? I've heard some claims that 80% of Medicare costs are for caring for the last year of life. Number 1 Son cost our insurance $100k from pneumonia that destroyed half a lung, and then another 100K or so with pericarditis. That chopper, that trauma unit, that second MRI, that extra doctor in the ER, all those things cost a lot of money. The British and Canadians are saying no to the "extras", and it's starting to show.

Our health care providers currently have to compete on service, and it shows. They can do the 20% chance of success treatments enough times to convert them to 50% or 75%. They can drive the $50000 MRIs to $500. But, all that costs money.
There won't be "death panels" deciding individuals. That will be too gaudy. There may be appeal panels, but not often. Most of the time, there will be faceless groups making actuary tables, deciding that the chance of you living doesn't pay off, so you won't get the knee replacement, or the speech restoration surgery, or that quad bypass.

As a libertarian, I want a real market. Most people don't pay for car care insurance; it costs more than the actual work. Most health insurance is really health care plans. We pay the insurance X+Y dollars to spend X dollars on our behalf, when X is usually a well-defined minimum amount each year. 80% of the people in the US (under 65) would be better off having a plan that had a $4000 out of pocket minimum and paid 100% of everything else, and be able to put that $4000 back pre-tax. If you can't afford that plan or can't afford the $4000, then provide that money as charity or welfare, not by hiding the costs as health care overhead.

Push the spending decisions back onto the consumer. If it's important to do, then you spend the money, and pay for it.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Insomniac notes

Milady and Little Miss are camping with American Heritage Girls up in the Cincinnati metro area. When I'm away from Milady or Milady is away from me, I don't sleep well. That's why I'm up at 1:49AM local time.

  • Mr. Obama needs to quit campaigning. Even Number 1 Son is starting to notice that everything is a campaign issue.
  • I am teaching a computer science class to the little darlings at homeschool co-op. At the teacher's meeting this week, they asked us to tell one thing that few people might know. I thought about mentioning that I was becoming quite good at Omaha and was winning at Texas Hold-Em. I knew that wouldn't go over well. Instead, I mentioned that I am right-handed but left eye dominant.

Since I'm finally sleepy, it's time to go to bed. Fortunately, Milady will be back tomorrow.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Scraping the inside of your skull

Yesterday was the first day of a well-deserved vacation. Instead of shopping and playing with Milady and the kids, I was laying on my sister-in-law's bed. Why? My first awful migraine in almost two years. I took some aspirin before I left the house, and I thought that had it under control. Nope. By the time we were done shopping at Big Lots, I was in a full-blown migraine. We stopped by my sister-in-law's house, and I made it up into her yard before I threw up the peanuts I'd had as a 2PM snack. Boy do peanuts hurt coming back up...

Instead of a nice trip to Sam's Club, I ended up sleeping on her day bed. Vomiting always eases the worst of my migraine symptoms, but I want to sleep afterwards.

Fortunately, I'm better now. I just feel like I want to crack open my skull and scratch the insides of my head. This should pass a day or two.

Monday, July 20, 2009

A Reasonable Plan to end the "Housing Crisis"

Karl Denniger proposed a 4 point plan that IMHO is a wonderful way to fix the mortgage and banking markets. It is a one-time overpowering government intervention, but we've already made the mess; it's time to become a janitor and clean up the mess.

I've got a few other post building, but I'll wait until lunchtime for them.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

"I can't take it any more"

Mr. Obama's TelePrompTer tried to committed suicide yesterday. The spin is on, however, since the teleprompter is now denying any intent.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

A few notes

  • It's easy to call Michael Jackson a pedophile. It's easy to make fun of his plastic surgeries and financial problems. Then you look a bit deeper and you see an abused child with a lot of mental health issues crying out for God and fulfillment. It makes the criticisms a little less justifiable.

    Boy, could he dance....

  • Sarah Palin left her one big office. She should have said "They drove me broke, and I've got kids to feed. I can make enough on the rubber chicken circuit to pay off my debts and put my kids through college. My family comes first, and I know I'm leaving Alaska in good hands with the Lt. Governor."

    Does she still have a chance at President? Don't look at me, I'm usually wrong.

  • Why are the Federal Reserve Governors, Henry Paulson, and Tim Geithner still walking around without tar and feathers on themselves?

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

I'm sorry, but he's not "excessively evil"

Bernie Madoff is a jerk, and he's greedy. It looks like 10 of his closest friends and relatives will be going to jail with him. However, I don't understand the "excessively evil" part.

Madoff took people's money. That's it. He didn't kill, he didn't threaten, he didn't even extort. People who were greedy for "guaranteed results" flocked to give him money when they should have known he was crooked.

I'm sorry that a lot of innocent people lost their life's savings. If it is your life's savings, you shouldn't have every cent of it with one person anyway.

Bernie's old; any sentence worthy of his crime would be a life sentence. I just can't see the glee at 150 years when murderers get less.

Leaving Questionable Preachers to God

We are studying Phillipians for an in-home Bible study with the kids. Once again, Paul has struck me with something very uncomfortable:

Some indeed preach Christ even from envy and strife, and some also from goodwill: The former preach Christ from selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my chains; but the latter out of love, knowing that I am appointed for the defense of the gospel. What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is preached; and in this I rejoice, yes, and will rejoice. (Phillipians 1:15-18 New King James Version).

We have had issues with my previous church. I think the minister there was too young, and should have had a career before becoming a minister. This has reinforced my beliefs against the ministry career path for some time.

Even so, Paul doesn't give me that option. So long as the Gospel is preached, I'm supposed to rejoice that it's being preached. It's not my job to question the motives; God will take care of that. We should correct incorrect teaching, and lead all who will be lead. Even so, those who are not against us are for us, as Jesus said.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Not quite 100%

I looked at the test twice, and I still couldn't figure out which answer it wanted for a couple. Oh, well....

88% Geek

Hat tip to The Grey Monk.

Monday, June 8, 2009

A surprise WWDC

Apple has made an impressive WWDC. First, they snuck a complete refresh of the MacBook Pros under the radar. There wasn't a single rumor out there of any of it, and boy, are they sweet! Then, they make Snow Leopard $29, and integrate it with Exchange (that's my work killer app).

Then, iPhone OS 3.0 is announced, and its very nice too. IMHO, the killer app is "Remote Wipe". If you lose your iPhone, you can log into MobileMe and brick it remotely. You can also make it make noise, even if you had the phone ringer off. That alone might be worth the $99/year for MobileMe. Plus the idea of writing third party hardware add-ons (think old school) is just too neat.

Now, if Jobs had just walked out with the iPhone Tablet as one last thing...

Number 1 Son has pericarditis again

Last weekend, Number 1 son started hurting all over, including his chest. Of course, he doesn't ever hurt on weekdays, only the weekend. His body loves going to the ER even if the rest of us don't.

This time, it acted more like the flu than pericarditis, so we treated him with ibuprofen for the fevers and body aches and waited until Monday. This let just enough fluid build up to let them tell that the pericarditis was back, and had probably never gone completely away the last time.

He's back on the colchicine, a steroid, and ibuprofen.

Monday, June 1, 2009

The United States of Europe

We now have nationalized banks and a zombified national automobile maker. All we need is a national strike or two, and we'll be Britain or France.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Political payback, Chicago-style

The Chrysler bailout is going from tragedy to farce: several bloggers have all but proven that the Obama administration is rewarding political supporters and Democrats at the cost of Republican supporters and non-political owners. A small list of links:

I could post at least 10 other links, but I think this is a good start. It's clear: the Obama campaign is rewarding its supporters, Clinton's supporters, and other Democrats, and punishing Republican supporters under the color of a Government Motors bailout.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Why is GM's stock above 0?

According to Reuters, GM is going to go bankrupt soon, becoming Government Motors. Even ignoring the insanity of the government essentially nationalizing two car builders at the same time, the markets are past irrational.

GM will go bankrupt. Their good assets will be bought to pay off their secured debt (at least they're not robbing bondholders like Chrysler). The trash gets left to pay off the unsecured debt (hah!). Yet, at the time of writing GM's stock is 1.29 and rising.

Essentially, GM is going to destroy itself and void the stock. The current stock will at best be worth pennies on the dollar, and most likely is now worth 0. Even so, people are buying it.

As Milady pointed out, perhaps there's a deal to save the stockholders over the bondholders. Maybe program buying of the Dow or S&P 500 is holding up GM. Or maybe people are just plain dumb.

I would short GM with borrowed money if I wasn't afraid that the fix was in.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Jeff posted! Jeff posted!

I knew if I kept Jeff of Think Sink fame in my RSS Folder, he would finally post. And he did!!!.

Now, if I could just post more...

Friday, May 8, 2009

Why the Stress Tests were fraud

Karl over at The Market Ticker has nothing good to say about the "Stress Tests":

Second, some of the data points and "expected losses" are comical. For example, the banks are expected under the "more adverse" situation to believe that prime mortgage losses will not exceed 4%, and ALT-A (liar loans and Option ARMs) will not exceed 13%. HELOC loss (most of which is unsecured!) is expected not to exceed 11%.

Commercial Real Estate, in total, is not expected to produce more than a 12% loss.


If these numbers have any sort of credibility then this paper should be trading at 85 cents or so.

The truth is that you can't find a bid for anything over 40 cents, and the reason is that for those pools where the internals are exposed the known loss figures are high enough to make the actual "today" value of that paper 40 cents, not 85 or 90.

I suspect we're looking at the complete insolvency of most of the banking system by 2011. We would be much better off in just allowing them to die now, and spread what's left of their capital out to work. Until then, I think we're stuck in a Japan-style deflation.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Would you like a little cheese with that whine?

Michelle Caruso-Cabrera over at CNBC is in full whine mode. Why? Amazon has released a new Kindle too soon. Her 3 month old one is now obsolete.

Ms. Caruso-Cabrera needs to go back to her brick analog cell phone and her two-ton 486 IBM clone (with the turbo button!). Technology improves. The whiz-bang cutting-edge item of today is second-string tomorrow.

To steal a phrase: Give me a break! Unless you're obsessed (and rich), you can never stay on the cutting edge. You buy what you need at the time, and then you use it. If Michelle really needed the Kindle DX, then she should have waited. Instead, she'd jealous (and covetous), and wants someone else to fix her lack of judgement and toy money.

I am glad that we no longer have the dish, so that we don't get polluted by CNBC.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Why I am still a bear

Several people, including Mark Perry over at Carpe Diem, are becoming bullish about the economy. The stock markets seem to be going with them, rising from bottoms over the last month.

Don't buy in. Yes, manufacturing inventories are dropping, but that's because factories are closing or furlowing, dropping supply, not because of an increase in demand. The fundamental problem, a crushing debt load, hasn't yet been solved.

Until all of that debt is unwound, one way or another, this economy is a dead cat bouncing.

Friday, May 1, 2009

The loan sharks have taken over

If I were a hedge fund manager with a secured loan from Chrysler, I'd be so pissed off right now. They are getting all but raped in order to give Chrysler to Fiat and the UAW.

Fiat? Are they the only car company greedy (or insane) enough to get in bed with this merger?

If it was my hedge fund, I'd insist on getting the asset or a 100% payoff, just on the principle of the matter. With asset in hand, you can at least threaten to box it up and ship it to China, or scrap it.

I used to think it was the Republican neo-cons that wanted business socialism. I had no idea that the neo-lib Democrats were in on it too.

Friday, April 24, 2009

What I'm Listening to today

As I've mentioned in comments on other blogs, I have grown tired of Contemporary Christian Music. I've not heard many people who are new, fresh, or even very interesting. Until Wednesday.

Every Tuesday, Apple releases 3 or 4 free songs on iTunes, and I make sure I grab the free music. I enjoy joking about creeping out Little Miss with If I Had A Heart, which was a free tune a couple of weeks ago. I freely admit to liking strange songs; they are something new and different. I've grown tired of hearing the same old formula from the same over-produced pop singers.

This week, I downloaded Come Save off of Sweet Sweet Sound and was amazed. Sarah Reeves knocked me off my feet. Her voice is good, the song is powerful, and it's the first Christian song to make me cry since Rich Mullins.

Go download Come Save now. Or even better, go buy all of Sweet Sweet Sound.

(Disclosure: I am a new iTunes affiliate, and clicking the links will throw a few cents my way. Go get the songs anyway. If the links don't work, please try again in an hour.)

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Filing taxes

I hate tax day.

The little company would have made money if the county government wouldn't take their $100 off the top, and if the state wouldn't take their $175 off the top. Yes, it's sad for a business to only pull in less than $275 profit, but that was going to be $275 profit....

Looks like I need to put a little more elbow grease into it.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Welcome Coach Cal

OK, we now have the richest coach in college basketball. Nothing like how a little constructive desperation can make a "rough" choice sound good. I just hope that Sandy Bell keeps the NCAA on speed dial, and that Cal keeps a short leash on "World Wide Wes" (or even better, leaves him in Memphis).

Please stay clean, John. I'll sacrifice a title or two for a fun, clean set of seasons.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

G's gone

Billy Gillespie was fired. Good job. One down, one Mitch Barnhart to go...

I think Billy would have gotten a third season if he'd just have signed the contract. Yes, the UK coach gets millions a year, but most of that money doesn't come directly from UK. UK pays around $600k - $800k (or so) of the salary directly from the Athletic Association. The rest comes from advertisements, endorsements, and speaking engagements. I think Billy G. wanted to keep getting his millions of dollars, but not do the advertisements, endorsements, and speaking engagements that paid for those millions. That just wasn't going to happen.

I'm disappointed that UK is paying some of the $6 million parachute, but I can understand why they did pay it off. First, they have to fire Gillespie to hire someone else. Second, the next coach has to know that UK will pay off their golden parachute if the deal doesn't work out. I don't think that the letter was a contract (they can argue that Gillespie failed to make a good faith effort to sign a deal), but it's cheaper to pay out that sue.

I personally like the idea of Travis Ford for UK coach. Donovan needs to really consider it, but his wife is probably already told him no way. (Tip to Mitch Barnhart: woo Mrs. Donovan more than you've ever romanced your own wife. It might just get you the #1 coach in the country.)

If John Calipari comes to UK, then we need to take pitchforks and torches to Maxwell Place. Calipari is a sleezeball who cuts corners and leaves storm clouds behind him. If we hire him, we'll have the death penalty within 10 years.

One final aside: I'm surprised that Billy G. can't outrun Alan Cutler.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Evaluating Dave Wilkerson

Dave Wilkerson has had a vision of New York City burning. He is advising the stockpiling of food and water. In general, I find most modern-day "prophets" unreliable. I used to watch Hal Lindsey's TV show, until I started totaling up his predictions and realizing how many hadn't come true. I also like Perry Stone, and think he can speak the truth more often than not. Even so, he has a tendency to go towards the deep end of "connecting the dots".

David Reagan is one end-times ministry leader I like. He doesn't make predictions or set dates. He just preaches God's word. However, on Lamb and Lion Ministry's blog, he is supporting Wilkerson a second time. Since I believe that David Reagan is a Spirit-filled man, I took a second look at Wilkerson's message and some of his others.

I'm not sure about his message. I do know it's easy to test: it will either happen in the next couple of years, or it won't. I do think his suggestions are wise: storing up supplies are essential, just given this economy. Any significant jolt could disrupt our current "just in time" supply chain (like the Atlanta-area gas shortages).

Fortunately, I'm not headed anywhere near the Megalopolis until next year at the earliest, so I don't have to put this theory to the test.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

UK rant, based on a post for Vox Day

(The original post is here.)

Jamsco: 3/19/09 12:15 PM:
Nate: 3/19/09 12:10 PM:
10 losses a year at UK gets you fired.

Okay, I'm ignorant: Why is that?

A historical culture to win more? Better players? They pay the coach more?
Yes, to all three. We have a "tradition of excellence" and a record of good coaching. Rupp was in a league nearly all his own, and Patino was close (I still respect Patino as a coach). I still believe that Tubby Smith is one of the best active Division 1 coaches, but his last 2 UK years showed a deep level of burnout and lack of quality in his staff. He wasn't recruiting players that played well together, and he wasn't taking the kids he did recruit and make them into a cohesive team. I wish him well at Minnesota, because he needed to go when he did.

Now, if we can just get some minor-league professional basketball team to unload Billy Gillespie from UK, life would be perfect. He has a work ethic that can be admired, but its obvious that he's not that good of a coach.

First, you can't ask a team to do every-day full-speed practice sessions, even on game day, for 5 straight months and then expect them to have that extra step at the end of the season. You could tell in the SEC tournament that there just wasn't much left in the Cats. He needed to work them hard at the start of the season, and then back off (physically, at least) towards the end.

Also, our current team was a two-trick pony. Let Jodie Meeks drive. Post Patrick Patterson up. Run Man to Man. Lather, rinse, repeat. While Meeks and Patterson are two of the best players in college basketball today, they aren't God's gift to basketball. They set their early scoring levels because they played (and LOST!) to teams like Virginia Military Institute. When the SEC got to around the halfway mark, the opposition finally figured out how to shut down Meeks and Patterson (can we say zone and "double team"?). Gillespie showed no ability to change things up, or to vary UK's style to match what was happening. No other player could come out of the doghouse long enough to make an impact, letting an SEC full of other "two good player" teams compensate for Meeks and Patterson.

I'm also not a fan of "doghouse" coaches. UK would have a player shine for a game, but then said player will enter the doghouse and never come out again. OTOH, a non-doghouse player will quit or commit a rules violation, and the entire thing goes away. I don't care how great a coach is, that randomness messes with a team.

Finally, I have no respect for whining. Gillespie said our pre-conference schedule was too hard. No, says I. We lost at home to VMI and Miami! UK has the longest home winning streak record, and probably has the highest home win percentage, in Division 1. With the SEC in the toilet this year, UK was ranked 236th in schedule strength. You expect that from VMI or Miami, NOT from a team bringing VMI in to play at home. If Gillespie can't coach through that kind of schedule with two all-SEC players (one in contention for the Naismith Trophy), he needs to pack it in.

The players on this year's UK team should have taken the SEC championship and tournament, and at least made the elite 8. In my humble, and completely unexpert, opinion, they were overworked and miscoached. A better coach could, and would, have taken this team much farther than Billy G did. When a coach fails a team like he did, then he needs to go.

No, I don't feel the need to rant about this....

Fraud on the Scientific Method

Normally, I won't post on something Vox Day talks about, because I can rarely add to the discussion (and if I can, I post there). I just couldn't ignore this post.

To trail the links back to a root post, Scott Reuben did all of the foundational work in multimodal analgesia. Unfortunately for analgesia, Dr. Reuben partially or completely fabricated enough data to undo most of the foundational studies he did.

I find it most interesting that peer review had absolutely no part in discovering Reuben's fraud. Instead, he forgot to falsify patient consent and human test permission forms. A hospital administrator went to verify the patient consent forms, and didn't find them.

Essentially, an auditor found what a peer reviewer couldn't. How appropriate.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Feed update

I've got most of the feed stuff sorted out.

feed:// will work correctly now. feed:// will start working sometime today or tomorrow.

Sorry for the inconvenience.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

"Leopard Theology"

"The Bible is inspired in spots, and I'm inspired to spot the spots." -- Robert Jeffress paraphrasing W. A. Criswell on Christ in Prophesy.

I absolutely adore this quote.

Feed change

I thought that I had to create an all new blogger feed because FeedBurner wasn't going to recognize my old one. Then, I logged in and magically, it converted. Supposedly, all 4 of you will automatically get redirected to the new feed address.

If you don't, please manually change over to feed:// .

Sorry for the trouble.

EDIT: If you're trying to use or, they may be broken. Sorry. Use the address above.

Save Me, Obama!

There's one minor bad word, but I think it's worth the risk. Just put your headphones on at work, since it's certainly not politically correct.

Save Me, Obama from The FuMP Project:

My favorite line from the lyrics:
Purge the graft from hell-holes like Zimbabwe
And Illinois!

Go download it now!

Friday, March 6, 2009

Secret White House Transcripts

Staffer: Sir, Mr. Brown brought some gifts. He brought your kids some expensive clothes, and you some nice books and a pen set.

O: That's nice. We have something to give him back, right.


O: [deleted expletive] Flunky #1, run over to the gift shop and purchase something for the kids. Flunky #2, there's a box of swag in the back of my closet in the bedroom. Find something nice looking with the wrapper still on it.

Fearless Leader has outdone himself. He received two priceless historical artifacts, one that relates to his own personal history and the second the paperwork that goes with the desk. His kids gets expensive clothes.

What does he do? Hands out two toys from the White House Gift Shop, and gives a nearly-blind man who doesn't like movies a collection of DVDs. It sounds exactly like what I would have done before marrying Milady.

Not very reassuring for the professionalism of the White House.

Selling Sqlite encryption patches, maybe

While I'm not fond of programming, I am capable of doing it. I tend towards filling needs I see in my own life. One of the needs I've seen is -- well, let's not go too deep into that since I'm still working on it before looking to sell it.

That said, I needed a product called Sqlite to do my database storage. Sqlite is an awesome embedded SQL database product that I've already used for stuff at work. Because of "Program1", I needed it to do encryption inside its code. Since I'm broke, I couldn't pay for the encryption that Hwaci sells for Sqlite. Rather than give up on encrypted Sqlite, I went ahead and rewrote the code myself.

Now I'm divided. Normally, I'd just put this kind of code up under a BSD or GPL license and let it be free. OTOH, Hwaci sells it, why not me too? rms would be terribly disappointed, but I've always been a BSD kind of guy anyway.

The fundamental problem is that the value of software is approaching zero. The work that has funded Hwaci and Sqlite cost me a couple of bus ride's worth of code; a pastime that would have otherwise been wasted elsewhere. I could price my labor at $100, and drive their $2000 down. If I license it with the new BSD license, then it drives their $2000 down to $0.

So, if you need Sqlite encryption and can't afford Hwaci, talk to me. Otherwise, wait and I might just pull an rms and release it for free.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Two comments over at John Kenneth Muir's blog

As I have posted before, I am a great fan of John Kenneth Muir's The House Between. On his blog, Mr. Muir reviews Religulous, a movie I've not seen yet. Even so, I had to react to a couple of Mr. Muir's assertions. Go over to his blog to see the post and his comments, but here's mine:

I haven't yet watched Religulous, although I have had it on my "round tuit" list. If you don't mind, I may post a second comment about Bill Maher.

I wanted to focus on your comments about the Bible itself. (I'll use italics to quote you John.) After all, the Bible was written, re-written, and translated into new languages... The last 100 to 125 years has been very kind to Biblical scholars, especially the collecting of manuscripts in electronic form. Scholars have not only found Greek New Testamet manuscripts that can be dated back to the 400s and 500s, but quotes of the New Testament from the early Christian church writers that can be dated into the first three centuries AD (or CE, if you insist).

The truth is opposite of how can I overlook a thousand years of interference in this supposedly sacred text from monks, popes and other avaricious schemers. The Bible has been protected because there have been so many copies held by so many different sources. The Dead Sea Scrolls are essentially identical to the Hebrew Codices (like the Leningrad Codex) that date to ~1000 AD. We have multiple sources for the Greek New Testament that come from multiple branches of the church, and translations that date from well before AD500.

One of the biggest argument in textual analysis right now is whether Luke added an extra line "the son of Cainan" into Jesus' genealogy, or if the Septuagint was modified, or if there's an error in the Hebrew manuscripts. (See ). The concept that the intent of the book authors hasn't been conveyed down to us is IMHO over.

Now, as you also state, that's hardly the end of the religious discussion. We can't "prove" that 4 guys named Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John were in the vicinity of Jerusalem in AD30-AD90 writing these books. We have somewhere between 0.001% and 0.1% of the books that were written in that timeframe available to us (this shouldn't surprise a student of film, considering how much of the films of the early 20th century we've already lost), and all of the Jewish genealogy records that would have been stored at the Temple are gone.

I can't absolutely prove to you that the Jesus Seminar was blowing smoke when it tried to decide "what Jesus really said". (I can say that it was hardly original; read what Jefferson tried to do in that area.) I can say that they weren't true to the text. The authors intended to tell you about a Jewish man who was somehow also God; a man who died on the Cross, and as such could forgive your (and my) sins.

Now, the text isn't "in sync" like some might want. It was written by a bunch of men over 2000 years (counting the Hebrew Scriptures). The Gospels were written by 4 people talking to 4 different audiences, with 4 different forms of accuracy, and 4 different set of sources of information. Then you have the Letters, written by multiple men with differing ideas at differing times.

There are differences. I personally think most can be resolved by people reasoning things out. I don't pretend to know all of them, but I doubt any one person can.

Mr. Muir comments on my post, so I reply again:

...Okay, accepted. But that means The Bible is not the literal Word of God then (as some people take it to be), but the word of man; or of men, rather. Right?

No, not at all. I find it fascinating that 30-40 men, in different times in different situations, are essentially consistent in describing a single story. The fact that Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John tell similar but not identical stories is realistic: 4 people telling the exact same story are just copying.

There has been a lot of debate about the exact nature of how God's "inspiration". Some want to say that the Holy Spirit wrote every word. I am more inclined towards an alternative theory: humans wrote the texts, but the Holy Spirit ensured that they were accurate. I think that they can be shown logically equivalent, and I'm working on that post on my blog, but that's going to be a while....

I think that the Bible (outside of minor scribal errors) is historically accurate, accurately describes Jesus' actions and statements (including those implying or stating that he was divine), and accurately documents that multiple persons saw Jesus after his crucifixion. To misuse Fermet, the proof is too small for this margin. ;)

I could argue this stuff for hours and hours, so I'd better stop here. :)

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Dealing with eye strain

About 10 years ago, my allergies got so bad I needed a very light pair of reading glasses to use the computers. When the allergies cleared, so did my need for glasses. I've had to occasionally break the glasses out when my eyes get really tired or when working with small wiring.

Last week, the pain started. By the end of a day, it hurt to read or to work on the computer too long.

I am going to the eye doctor tomorrow. I'm hoping it's something simple and treatable, since the reading glasses are still too strong (and they're the weakest made) but the pain is only easing a little.

I'll try to report the results tomorrow.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Dirt in the soul

We don't get to non-kids movies much, so I'm just now getting around to watching The Dark Knight. In one way, I'm very glad they made the movie. Keith Ledger's Joker is actually someone who could exist; someone who makes sense beyond the comic book buffoon of the TV series.

On the other hand, I'm not sure I ever want to see it again. As I grow older, I don't find it difficult to see the evil in men's souls. It seems that I become more aware of it every day in myself, as I see where I eat a little too much, snap too much at the kids, etc. I don't need a TV show reminding me how base people are (like the new Battlestar Galactica), or a movie to know how depraved and close to the animals man can fall.

We are the only creatures who desire to fall. Our new dog loves us, and loves to be around us. The two cats have traded "the wild" for lots of food and throwing up on our bed. In so far as they can "know" anything, they like where they're at and wouldn't change much. (Well, our alley cat would get rid of the puppy, but he may eventually get over that.)

It's only us humans that want to call ourselves animals, and to say we can't control our impulses. Throw a bone for my pup, and she chases it. Show a man a bit of flesh, and he can control what he does. Seeing what happens when men decides not to control himself just doesn't sit well with my soul any more.

Perhaps that's why I like Iron Man. Tony Stark had an empty soul, and was starting to know it. Bruce Wayne has a dark soul, and thinks that everyone else does too, and that's the natural state.

We Christians know that it may be the "natural" state, but it's not our created state nor the one God wants. God wants us all to be cleansed. God wants to see us clean, and he sent His son to do it.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

A comment I posted over at Hoyazo's Blog

Hoyazo, aka the Hammer Player, is a Poker blogger who also does his share of economic commentary. In this post, he rants about Obama and Geither's new TARP 2 plan. I won't quote the post, but here's my comment I left at his site:
Dub was a "center-right" Keynesian, and Obama is a center-left Keynesian. They have the same people in their economic teams, and they're reacting in exactly the same way. Who is insane enough to expect real change out of a Chicago politician?

IMHO, neo-Keynesian thought breaks down in a depression. You can't cure alcoholics by giving them more hooch, and you can't cure an abundance of debt by pushing more debt.

As painful as it will be, we need to let the big banks fail, the derivative markets evaporate, and the survivors make a mint off of picking up the broken pieces of the shattered companies and rebuild.

The alternative is Argentina.

Monday, February 2, 2009

My reason for keeping the good stuff off computers leading a perfectly boring life:

(Comic from xkcd : link here. Linked under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.5 License.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Not watching commercials this year

Unlike years past, we've missed most of the Super Bowl. My grandmother has power back, but had an empty fridge. Rather than run back to home, we took her to Wal-Mart for groceries.

I may comment on the commercials after watching them on a summary site.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Night Glow

Central Kentucky has been pounded by a bad winter storm, and much of the city is without power. The Packrat household has been staying warm; our biggest problem is that we are addicted to the kerosene heater now, and we're going to have to stop using it lest we run out of kerosene before the storms.

Even so, we have the best part of city living occuring at night: night glow. I grew up in the country, so I hadn't ever seen the city light in a big snow. The first big snow we had in Lexington was when I was living in an apartment in college. When the clouds come in completely and the snow is iced over, not a single photon of light is absorbed before its time. I've seen it brighter than most days out in town. It's one of the most beautiful sights I've ever seen.

We've got it back with the clouds and ice. It's quiet and bright out at night, and every time I go out I just want to go walking on campus like I did in college.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Tending a sick machine

Instead of heading to bed like a good little Packrat, I'm sitting here at work in the machine room, with a CE who was expecting to replace 1 bad CPU. Instead, he is instead arguing with support about why all 4 processor boards called out multiple errors in a 5 minute period. The poor machine isn't very happy, and neither am I.

EDIT: We think it's the systems firmware. I upgraded the one system, and the rest will be done soon.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

We've lost two great actors

I didn't realize that both Ricardo Montalban and Patrick McGoohan have died. Wired has an article that links in a very nice video by McGoohan about the end of the show. I like how he admits that he didn't have an ending to the series until the very end... :) He was loyal to his wife, to the point of refusing any love scenes. He also is a Christian, having originally studied to be a Roman Catholic priest.

Also, YouTube has a video up with Mr. Montalban talking about his career. Skip to 21 minutes into the video, when he's talking about reading the Wrath of Khan script. I love Mr. Montalban's humility in saying "I being getting acquainted with the character.... and to my despair, I sound to me like Mr. Roarke. They're going to laugh me off the screen." He stayed with his wife and was a practicing Roman Catholic Christian. He even was 10 times more buff at 60 (yes, in Wrath of Khan that's his own chest) and even 70 than I am at 35...

It's interesting that this nice Protestant packrat admires two good Catholic men. So be it.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Definitions: "Plain Sense Meaning"

(If you're reading this for the first time, please come back in few days. I'm not really happy with this, and am going to rewrite it.)

One of my New Year's resolutions is to write more commentary on the Bible, especially on texts I'm studying in the mornings. Before I post here, I wanted to define a couple of terms that I think are important. The first is "plain sense meaning".

David Reagan is the first person I've heard describe "plain sense meaning". In an article about Revelation, he said:
Another key to understanding the book of Revelation, a very important key, is to accept the plain sense meaning of each passage. Even if you don't understand it, the best rule of thumb is to just accept the plain sense meaning. My "Golden Rule of Interpretation" that I use throughout the Bible from beginning to end, whether it's prophecy or not, is this "If the plain sense makes sense, don't look for any other sense, or you will end up with nonsense."
I extend this to all of the Bible. Each author has a plain sense meaning that applies to each section. Sometimes, it's an idiom. When the Hebrew Scriptures says "water of the feet", it's probably talking about urine. The Law's restrictions of meat cuts to avoid are probably a euphemism to tell people not to eat an animal's sexual organs. The plain sense meaning requires interpretation, not 100% literal translation.

Also, you can end up with a verse-level plain sense meaning that seems to contradict a second verse's plain sense meeting. In that case, we work on synthesizing the two verses. Often, we find that the two verses are complimentary.

Watching Tin Man

I am paying attention to the classics.... I just finished Fall Out for The Prisoner, so I'll start re-watching the series and commenting on it here. But first, we watched the 4 hour (really 3, plus commercials) version of Tin Man tonight. I watched some of the 6 hour version earlier, and I just couldn't get interested.

The 4 hour version worked better, but it was still a 2 star effort. Zooey Deschanel had two expressions, and neither of them were appropriate for any scene. I started to want her to die, Jar-Jar style. The director wants you to know that Kathleen Robertson has cleavage. Since she didn't want to act for him, he must be trying to distract you. Alan Cumming recycled his performance from Spy Kids 1, and not in a good way. (By the way, special effects guys, if you're going to take half a brain out of a fellow, don't show the brain in the jar as a whole brain....) Richard Dreyfuss was completely and utterly wasted here.

The 3 hour run should have been a 3.25 hour run. OTOH, it's clear from the fact that it was a decent cut that the 4.5/6 hour cut must have been awful. I just don't care enough to go back and see.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Resurrection of a machine

Our old laptop has looked like this for a while now:

It's hard to tell from the picture, but the screen is dead and so are the LEDs. We paid $2000 for a very nice laptop in 2005, and it breaks off a $0.20 power adapter. The Toshibas of that era have power connectors that are soldered to the motherboard. Every time you plugged or unplugged the power cord, it strained the soldier joints, and eventually they break. I fixed the laptop once, but it didn't stay fixed for more than a few weeks.

After digging on the Internet, I finally found the pictures (sorry, but I couldn't find the link again...) that suggested soldering a wire instead of replacing the silly Toshiba part. I didn't take a picture of the soldier joint, but here's an out-of-focus picture of the wire job:

I did break one rule: I used a sound plug (a 0.25" mono plug, to be exact). I did at least make the power cord the female plug, so that at least there's less dangers of shorting out:

Now, it works, for as long as it'll hold:

Tolerating the intolerable

Somehow, I expect that France would not tolerate Monaco shelling Cannes, nor would the English tolerate the Welsh shelling Bath. The US wouldn't write off San Diego or Del Rio. So, why should Israel not respond when the Arabs of Gaza either tolerate or actively help Hamas to attack Israeli cities?

The Israelis should be praised for their restraint. Most reasonable people (including Europe through its entire history) would have just wiped out the entire population and let the refugees find another home. Israel has at least attempted to not kill civilians.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy New Year!

I've been in a bit of a post-election slump, even before the carb comas from the various family dinners. Plus, I've been distracted by The Prisoner from NetFlix.

Even so, have a happy New Year.

Coming up this month from Kentucky Packrat: my new pet theories on The Prisoner. (No, Number 6 is NOT Number 1....)