Received word this week that a friend has lost his brother to the war in Iraq. Been praying a lot for his family. I think the loss of someone familiar makes the war very much more real. I'm sure his involvement had made it more real to them, for a great while. I'm not sure whether his passing serves to do that as well. Probably not.

War Letters is a fine book edited by Andrew Carroll. Fantastic impressions of a horrible thing, from those in the thick of it.

I thought to post one that speaks to the hell that our boys are going through in the Middle East right now. But nothing could adequately convey that, I know. Instead, one to portray what courageous men have been willing to lay on the altar of our freedom.

Lt. Walter Schuette Sends His Newborn Daughter, Anna Mary, a Letter to Be Read to Her in the Event He Does Not Come Home Alive

My Dear Daughter, Anna Mary,

Some day I shall be able to tell you the conditions under which I write this letter to you.
You arrived in this world while I was several thousand miles from your mother's side. There were many anxious moments then and since.
This message comes to you from somewhere in England. I pray God it will be given to you on or about your tenth birthday. I hope also to be present when that is done. It shall be held in trust by your mother or someone equally concerned until that time.
Also I pray that the efforts of your daddy and his buddies will not have been in vain. That you will always be permitted to enjoy the great freedoms for which this war is being fought. It is not pleasant, but knowing that our efforts are to be for the good of our children makes it worth the hardships.
With this letter you will find a war bond of $25oo maturity value, and a list of names. A list of names to you, honey, buddies to me. Men of my company, who adopted you as their sweetheart when you came into the world. It is these men who bought you the bond as a remembrance of when they were soldiers with your daddy. The money values are in the current English denominations.
I shall ask your mother to obtain the bond with the money sent her and keep it with this letter, envelope, and list of names until such time as she sees fit to give it to you, Anna Mary.
You will never know the joy I knew when I received word that you had arrived. Suddenly the sun shone through the fog. The mud paths seemed paved with gold. The boys thought I had gone stir crazy or maybe slap happy. I guess I was a little daft.
I want you to know that God gave to you for a mother the finest woman of his creation. I pray that you will grow to be as fine a person as she. I ask that you follow her guidance and her teachings. I know how much you mean to her at the time I write this letter. Such a love can never be forgotten.
It is time that I close this short message to you. Should God decree that you never know your father I want you to have this sample of my handwriting. I want you to know and understand that with the help of God, He will spend his life trying to make you and your precious mother happy, and to provide for your needs and wants.
I place you now in the hands of God. May He care for you and love you. May He see fit that we shall see one another very soon and keep us together into eternity, ever as He gave us His son to seal our salvation.
Your loving dad
Walter Schuette


Oh, wait, you're supposed to rest on the weekend. Right.

Met a very interesting blogger/writer Friday evening, so the event served its purpose after all. Got me thinking a lot about what it means to be a writer (by no means do I consider myself one) and the writing/blogging I've been doing so far. What I've realized is that I haven't done nearly enough writing. Or reading, but I've known that all along. I doubt most decent writers consider themselves well-read enough.

When the blog got off the ground, the general idea was to give me some kind of forum in which to write, hopefully on a regular basis. Sometime in the Fall, it took on more meaning than that - it began to be kind of a necessary thing - I've been trying to make myself write something every day. Which was good - got the synapses firing, at least a bit.

Now, if I was really pursuing the writing thing full-time, I would probably hope to keep up such a pace, and I'd certainly expect better quality from myself. But I'm not - the writing thing is just one of the options I'm exploring. And I'm worried that if I keep my regular-posting mentality up, I'll start serving up some krep posts, which is the last thing I want to do - in fact I'm afraid some of my recent stuff may lean in that direction.

Nevertheless, no gauntlets are being thrown down here. I'm not saying I'm going to post less to the blog, although I am saying I intend to write more, most of which won't be blogged. I'm not saying I'm going to post as much as I have been, either - I hope to post regularly but I'll be lending a more observant eye to the post purity level before I submit it for public consumption.


Went to a wedding tonight, the ceremony was about as universalist as a wedding could possibly be. There is apparently a god of some sort out there, and conveniently he happens to fit exactly whatever you personally need him to be. I suppose that keeps everyone at a Chinese-Italian/German wedding happy. Even the gay uncles.

Had a fascinating conversation with the brother of the bride, an ex-AF'er who served a year and a half in the brig for drug possession, among other things he was involved in. It sobered him up, though, and now he's an EMT, hoping to become a cop, and most importantly a fiercely independent evangelist. By fiercely independent he meant that he believed all churches are wrong, as everyone has to find faith on their own. He was awestruck with the wedding ceremony, naturally.

The reverend female celebrant was curious, given that the bride's family seemed to be the one bringing any religion to the plate, namely Catholicism. This struck me as a fabulous topic for a future blog post (a very controversial one, I'm sure).

Nice people, very New York wedding, smallest one I've ever been to, though.


One for the "Only-in-NYC" file: a guy with one leg, and crutches - reasonably dressed, making his way down a moving subway car. He's lived here for a while - he opened the door and went to the next car while the C (or A or E or whichever one isn't suspended thanks to the fire) train was at top speed.


Its 6:29pm.

Its quiet. Its Friday. Most people have already left to begin their weekend. There's 2 people left in the nearby vicinity and one of them is typing loudly. And there's my fan. Always, my fan. Otherwise, complete silence.

In 30 minutes I'm not going to go to Redeemer's first inner-arts fellowship, meeting at the offices a block over from where I'm sitting right now. Or perhaps I am. But if I don't - its proof positive of the downward spiral of this situation I've landed myself in. I'm in a job that so wears on me, so grinds me down, that it even sucks from me the energy I'd need if I were to aptly seek out something better. Its evil like that.

The fellowship isn't the only thing on the radar. There's other things, and there have been for a while now. I've become jaded by some past opportunities that didn't pan out, so I'm approaching the current ones with a little more realism / down-to-earthness. But the current position still looms like an evil shadow over them all. I know I can't commit the resources necessary to any of the possible outs - I'm unable to effectively exploit the opportunities to the best of my ability - and as such I remain here, stuck in this rut.

Yeah, and you're like..."whaaa?" Sorry, guess I just needed to get that out there. Rewind...Play...

Otherwise, complete silence.

I am exhausted. I have 3 more days worth of work to be done before Monday morning, and there simply will not be that many days between now and then. I'm actually feeling anxious about my weekend because I made the audacious mistake of actually scheduling personal plans to do things besides work. I have some studying I need to do and a wedding to attend. I said no to 8 other things I would have liked to have done tomorrow as well. So I won't be able to work tomorrow. And I don't work on Sundays, period. Not job work, at least. I'm doing enough other types on Sunday that there's no room for any more.

And so Monday morning will come, and I'll be 3 more days behind (making it roughly 150 days behind, I estimate, in total). Oh, the brow beatings I'll take. I'll be berated like I don't stay late every night I walk into this damn building, just trying to catch up. And I'll take it, and I'll smile, and on the inside I'll be thinking about the 10 other things I need to do when I get back to my desk. All this and more just adds to my exhaustion. I'm not even exhausted solely by what has passed - I'm exhausted in advance by the future. I'm not worried about it, mind you. I know its going to happen, I'm just very realistic about it. And so, I'm exhausted.

I have reason to believe that I'm not the only 20-something kid in NYC that feels this way when Friday night rolls around. I know more than a few that go out and try to chemicalize the coming reality of the next week out of their mind. I don't know where they find the energy. I also know more than a few, that like me, go home and simply collapse.

Which is what I will do tonight. I'll go home, and I'll be too tired to cook, clean, talk, write, or even read. I'll even be too tired to be mad with myself that I'm too tired to read. I get that way sometimes, when I resolve to just watch a movie and veg - I get upset with myself for not finding the energy to read. But tonight I won't even have the energy to chasten myself for my sloth.

I was at a lecture last night and one of the speakers made a great point about this Friday-night exhaustion epidemic. He simply asked - if you were to look back, how much of the work that you labored so hard to do in the past 5 days was God's work? How much of it served to bring his kingdom to earth? Have you found your purpose?

I'm not whining. I'm not ranting another poor-me-my-job-stinks. I'm saying that this is the way things are. But I'm not saying that's ok.

Instead, I'm going to Redeemer's inner-arts fellowship. I might not find anything. But at least I'll be looking.

Then I'll go home and collapse.


Links. Quality over quantity, tonight.

In the same comp animation vein as JibJab, check out one of the cool shorts over at Shockwave - Rockfish. If you haven't seen the JibJab goodies yet, I recommend "This Land," "Good to be in DC," and of course, "Ahnuld for Governor."

Wine info.

Airport info.

Tolkien info.

Read an article about this dude, who is apparently famous for waiting in line for Star Wars movies to come out. You may be able to locate the article or others through his blog. I have to say, for a guy who sits on a couch all day, I would expect a better blog.

Couple a cool kids from the alma mater, kickin it rock style this Sunday eve in the Village.

For the AP (enjoy, you AP nazis, and take satisfaction in the fact that we're meeting this weekend) - the Prez himself, hook'em horns, on the big day.

And that bit I mentioned about quality? This is it. Things like this are the reason that this is the greatest city in the world.

God bless America.


I've got nothing. Two days of traveling and TV watching and eating too much and palm greasing. Total lack of brain stimulation. Although I did find some time to review a brief history of the internet.

It started with Sputnik. Well, that's up for argument, as far as original causes go. One could blame it on the Czars, or the Commies, or maybe the Commies parents, for having them in the first place, or maybe just the whole USSR for ever getting together anyway. Perhaps we could blame the hard winters and the vodka. But let's just boil it down to Sputnik.

As a response, the US started both NASA and a lesser known organization named ARPA (Advanced Research Projects Agency - originally DARPA, D for Defense). The first real attempts at networking computers were by lab rats at various leading tech uni's, and the first word actually transmitted via computer network was "lo." It was supposed to be "log" but the internet (the whole thing, at that point), crashed before the "g" got through. In response, the word "on" was supposed to be transmitted back. I suppose at some point when they got things working again, they did.

Despite what Al Gore may claim, he didn't invent the internet, although he is generally credited with doing more to help the progression of it than any other elected official at the time of its initial growth (I can only assume that this meant helping secure public funds for it). And then he went totally bonkers. Also he was vice president, for a while.

From here the story generally degenerates into lots of catchy acronyms, plus all the interesting stuff like how Internet Protocol's were first written and then eventually evolved (devolved?) into verbal website names, and how stuff like email and FTP and whatnot came to be. By the way, the interesting thing about IP is that every actual website name still has an IP - you even have your own IP if you're reading this right now. But we don't speak popularly in those terms anymore.

Then there was a tech boom and bubble and then the bubble popped, and lots of other interesting stuff. If my econ memory serves me correctly, the last bubble we saw of such a nature had something to do with Dutch tulips. Really.

That's all you really need to know about it, I think.

I'm trying to find a decent book out there that gives a general history of the internet in terms that an interested lay-man could readily ascertain, but haven't found one yet. If I don't find it, perhaps I'll add it to my to-be-researched-and-written list. Sure, you have people out there attempting to do what I speak of, but I plan to write one people actually want to read. Besides, they are all clearly outdated, as evidenced by the fact that they are in print. My version will contain a much more up-to-the-minute analysis.

See, I told you - nothing is what I've got. Said remember that.


Saw this tonight on my way home - walking up, well, you can guess which avenue. It looked a bit too heavy to carry comfortably, but its somewhere in the upper 30's, on a South-East corner, should you want a big blue piece of New York memorabilia. Like others, I'm a fan of the new signs they're putting up around midtown.

I'm having a tough time deciding whether or not I like titles on my posts at all. Sometimes they serve their purpose, but often I find I'm just trying to think of something. Something catchy, something that says "Hey! We're cool words! Read our smaller friends, below, they're cool too!" I suppose my decision will be rather evident, should I ever get around to making it.

Haven't reviewed a single movie lately, so by means of catch-up on my Netflix history:

Freaks & Geeks: I ended my TV / Mini-series blitz (started with Band of Brothers, then Sports Night, then this) with this engaging show that I think aired in the late 90's / early 00's. Good acting, interesting story lines - albeit sometimes jumpy between episodes, ended kind of in the middle of things, it felt like.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban: Splendidly put together, just like its predecessors, yet I still have that general discomfort with making sorcery and witchcraft so idyllic to children.

Endless Summer: Timeless Classic. I could watch footage like that for days on end.

The Chronicles of Riddick: Contrived. Bad acting. A few cool effects, that's about it. Expect to see Vin run for political office someday, at this rate.

The Ladykillers: I'm only half-way through this one just yet, but so far the Coen-Hanks mix seems to be living up to expectations.


I'm off to Syracuse for recruiting tomorrow and the following day, getting back Wednesday night. As I'm still saving for that G5 Powerbook I so dearly hope is in my future, and am therefore laptop-free (except for the 2 useless ones I haven't gotten around to e-baying), there is little chance of writing before I return, at best. Let's just say I'm already a little nervous about Thursday linkery getting pushed for the 3rd week running.

I like traveling, but I have a feeling I'm not going to enjoy traveling for these purposes, for this company, very much. But it is a lifesaving break from the office that I've been needing, so no complaints.

Pizza's ready, good night.


Holding my tongue (maketh me thalk lahk thith)

A brief review of the use of the word "tongue" in the book of Proverbs:

When words are many, sin is not absent, but he who holds his tongue is wise.

A man who lacks judgment derides his neighbor, but a man of understanding holds his tongue.

Even a fool is thought wise if he keeps silent, and discerning if he holds his tongue.

He who guards his mouth and his tongue keeps himself from calamity.

I believe that a great deal of the miscommunication I have with others (general or particular) is my tendency towards a quiet nature. By no means do I submit that I am a quiet person in all circumstances. If only I could claim to carry myself with such humble grace. But in the many circumstances requiring the most personal, or the most sincere forms of honest communication, I find myself often slow to speak. I don't do this because I believe I am a wise person.

I do this because I know I am not a wise person. A friend recently asked me what one thing I would change about myself if I had the opportunity, and my answer was quick: "I would be a wiser person." I know I am not wise, because despite even my best attempts to hold my tongue, I often don't, and very often it gets me into trouble. Because of this, I've worked hard to hold my tongue, and find my feeble efforts to sometimes prove effective, generally in situations where I am already carefully considering the matters at hand - when my mind is functioning seriously and thoughtfully. Careless words don't slip so easily when you're not thinking carelessly.

Perhaps even more plenteous, however, are the circumstances wherein my very refusal to speak itself gets me into just as much trouble, if not more. In my pride, my anger, or whatever sin I happen to indulge myself in at the given moment, I very often take an attitude of self-righteousness that sees no need to verbally communicate my feelings. I feel justified in not engaging the other person in the basest and most rudimentary forms of polite communication. And I am wrong to hold my tongue. Perhaps what I would be liable to say in such situations would be wrong as well, but that becomes a moot point, given the conditions. As James said, "...but no man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison." I find in my case, its no less evil when I hold it - my attitude seems vehicle enough for the poison when the tongue is restrained. (1st John: "Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.")

I believe that perhaps the most numerous of the circumstances in which I forgo verbal communication are those where I simply have nothing to say. In such situations, I don't necessarily feel that I am (subjectively) either morally right or wrong to not be speaking - I don't feel its that kind of issue at all. Rather, I just don't have the words to communicate my thoughts. Often I believe its because I am uncomfortable in sharing them because I don't believe I could properly convey what is working through my head. And I find myself without anything to say.

Problems arise here because my eyes betray the fact that I am thinking something, but not sharing it. People often feel slighted, and with good reason. They very often confuse my inability to verbally communicate with other forms of quietness - the selfish attitude aforementioned, the prideful I-know-something-you-don't-know disposition, or perhaps even the don't-have-anything-good-to-say so don't-say-anything-at-all syndrome. Take your pick of these or many others - very often the person(s) with whom I would communicate are given this impression.

Whether they are justified in their impression is not the point. The point is that this third general area of quietness on my part presents me with perhaps my greatest need for personal endeavor. For in this form of quietness, rather than avoiding a sin of commission (i.e. in the prudent holding of the tongue), I commit a sin of omission, perhaps even more grave than the explicitly selfish one which I have already addressed. More Proverbs serve to elaborate:

Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.

The tongue of the wise commends knowledge, but the mouth of the fool gushes folly.

The tongue that brings healing is a tree of life, but a deceitful tongue crushes the spirit.

The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.

A truly wise tongue is one that brings healing, commends, is a tree of life, builds others up, and affirms them. I certainly can't do this when I'm not opening my mouth at all.

The trick is finding the right words, and knowing when to say them. Which seems night on impossible for the so very unwise. And we're left with naught but to rejoice in our Very Present Help:

To man belong the plans of the heart, but from the LORD comes the reply of the tongue.



There's not the words in any language to express how much I love snow. I spent most of today just enjoying watching it accumulate. But for a lone phone call this morning, there was no need to communicate with the outside world today. I was happy to get more than a few things done around the house, constantly interrupting myself with trips to the window to see how much more there was since last I looked.

Took a walk to see the river and grab some dinner. It hasn't frozen over completely yet, and its interesting to watch the ice flows - see how the water is actually moving.

I hope it snows biblically tonight.

(click on it to see the rest)


Last weekend tired me clean out, as evidenced by my inability to put any decent thoughts together here recently. At least I didn't attempt to write last night, after not one but two parties, neither of which I really wanted to go to.

So here's the goods I should have put up yesterday.

Decent article on the impending doom of the Barnes Foundation. I've yet to go, but my sister insists that I should. Hoping to get there in Feb or March before anything happens. Apparently its one of the best collections of art in the world.

Didn't make it to a Roof-top Films show this past summer, but I hope to hit a few this year. (Not that I wish summer would get here any sooner, I for one absolutely love this hyperborean weather).

In somewhat the same vein as EO's Blog Symposium, Intolerant Elle's Christian Carnival. And, in the process of writing this post up, I found that Sidesspot has the latest CC. I'm shooting to get an article in on the next one. You can see its growing quickly.

I want to work for this company.

Another interesting short from the whole auto-makers-dabbling-in-mini-movie-advertising genre.

I've seen some serious hilarity over at McSweeney's, but you often have to hunt around for the good stuff.

I'm pretty sure that a solid 1/2 of the funded studies at NIAC are straight out of star wars. I can't believe people are getting grants for some of that stuff. Lucas should be getting royalties from these people.

Cool website design of the week award goes to Mr. Beller's Neighborhood. One of my favorite co-workers is Kim, who aside from being awesome, and totally looking out for me here in my new area, has a cool husband, who is a writer, who has stuff on MBN's site.

If you haven't heard Samuel's story, you need to. The picture is simply one of the most amazing things I've ever seen. Its interesting to note that at the time of the photo, he was still young enough to be legally aborted. Its also amazing that God has so blessed our technological and medical advancements that they can be used to save lives like Samuel's. As far as I can tell from a little googling, Samuel is still alive and well.


My libertarian side

While I have many very conservative viewpoints, if I were to honestly evaluate myself politically, I'd have to say that I likely fall somewhere between conservative and libertarian, and I'm probably pulled a bit in a 3rd direction that doesn't yet have a good socio-political definition yet. But the point here is the libertarian part. To quote the website:

The Libertarian Party is committed to America's heritage of freedom:
* individual liberty and personal responsibility
* a free-market economy of abundance and prosperity
* a foreign policy of non-intervention, peace, and free trade.

A fairly cursory study of American history will show you that our founding fathers generally intended our government to be established for a single (yet binary) purpose: to protect the people from threats (foreign or domestic).

There's a very long list of things that the government was never originally intended to regulate or otherwise be involved with (public education being a primary example), and most of these things it does quite a poor job at (naturally).

The issue is where the line is to be drawn. Take smoking in bars - no longer legal in California or Manhattan (and likely other places, as well, by now). Should the government be able to tell you what your patrons can and can't do in your establishment? Every time I pass people huddled outside a bar door, getting their drags, I have to chuckle at the ludicrous level to which governance-gone-wild has spun to. Here's a legal activity, but don't do it inside. Ok.

Seat belt (and motorcycle helmet) laws are another one. If I choose not to use it, shouldn't it be my choice? I have to say that I pretty much agree with this guy on principle, although I don't necessarily practice his systematic protestation with the same dedication that he apparently did.

There are certain things that the government should be involved in. Its my belief that the list of those things is far shorter than the average American would argue for, if pressed to think about it. And that list is essentially based on a corporate mind-set that government itself plays a large part in establishing. Government continues to overstep its bounds because of our perpetual gross misunderstanding of its nature (or, more particularly, what its nature should be).

Its been happening since at least the time of Saul, and I don't see it changing any time soon.


A doctrine of freedom

And you thought I forgot to write a holiday-appropriate post. Far be it from me. In fact, if you check your history, you'll find that it was on this day (the 18th of the year) that MLK Jr.'s holiday was first observed in all 50 states. What's rather astounding is the year in which it occurred - 1993.

In re-reading some MLK lately, I've recognized that much of what he said regarding American democracy could be closely tied with my recent thoughts on Americanism, and the article I linked to on the topic - citing its roots in Puritanism.

...In deep disappointment, I have wept over the laxity of the church. But be assured that my tears have been tears of love. There can be no deep disappointment where there is not deep love. Yes, I love the church; I love her sacred walls. How could I do otherwise? I am in the rather unique position of being the son, the grandson and the great-grandson of preachers. Yes, I see the church as the body of Christ. But, oh! How we have blemished and scarred that body through social neglect and fear of being nonconformists.

There was a time when the church was very powerful. It was during that period when the early Christians rejoiced when they were deemed worthy to suffer for what they believed. In those days the church was not merely a thermometer that recorded the ideas and principles of popular opinion; it was a thermostat that transformed the mores of society. Whenever the early Christians entered a town the power structure got disturbed and immediately sought to convict them for being "disturbers of the peace" and "outside agitators." But they went on with the conviction that they were "a colony of heaven," and had to obey God rather than man. They were small in number but big in commitment. They were too God-intoxicated to be "astronomically intimidated." They brought an end to such ancient evils as infanticide and gladiatorial contest.

Things are different now. The contemporary church is often a weak, ineffectual voice with an uncertain sound. It is so often the arch supporter of the status quo. Far from being disturbed by the presence of the church, the power structure of the average community is consoled by the church's silent and often vocal sanction of things as they are.

But the judgement of God is upon the church as never before. If the church of today does not recapture the sacrificial spirit of the early church, it will lose its authentic ring, forfeit the loyalty of millions, and be dismissed as an irrelevant social club with no meaning for the twentieth century. I am meeting young people every day whose disappointment with the church has risen to outright disgust.
Maybe again, I have been too optimistic. Is organized religion too inextricably bound to status-quo to save our nation and the world? Maybe I must turn my faith to the inner spiritual church, the church within the church, as the true ecclesia and the hope of the world. But again I am thankful to God that some noble souls from the ranks of organized religion have broken loose from the paralyzing chains of conformity and joined us as active partners in the struggle for freedom. They have left their secure congregations and walked the streets of Albany, Georgia, with us. They have gone through the highways of the South on tortuous rides for freedom. Yes, they have gone to jail with us. Some have been kicked out of their churches, and lost support of their bishops and fellow ministers. But they have gone with the faith that right defeated is stronger than evil triumphant. These men have been the leaven in the lump of the race. Their witness has been the spiritual salt that has preserved the true meaning of the Gospel in these troubled times. They have carved a tunnel of hope though the dark mountain of disappointment.

I hope the church as a whole will meet the challenge of this decisive hour. But even if the church does not come to the aid of justice, I have no despair about the future. I have no fear about the outcome of our struggle in Birmingham, even if our motives are presently misunderstood. We will reach the goal of freedom in Birmingham and all over the nation, because the goal of America is freedom. Abused and scorned though we may be, our destiny is tied up with the destiny of America. Before the pilgrims landed at Plymouth we were here. Before the pen of Jefferson etched across the pages of history the majestic words of the Declaration of Independence, we were here. For more than two centuries our fore-parents labored in this country without wages; they made cotton king; and they built the homes of their masters in the midst of brutal injustice and shameful humiliation--and yet out of a bottomless vitality they continued to thrive and develop. If the inexpressible cruelties of slavery could not stop us, the opposition we now face will surely fail. We will win our freedom because the sacred heritage of our nation and the eternal will of God are embodied in our echoing demands.

-- Letter from a Birmingham Jail, Martin Luther King, Jr.



Danielle's always been one of my best friends, so this weekend I was particularly delighted to be able to see her celebrate such a joyful occasion.

Friday when I finally got out of the office, I headed back to NJ to pick up the wheels. Divine intervention is the only explanation for the way I got them. Back into the city to pick up the rest of the guys, then drove for about 7 or so hours until I was impeded by a very polite Virginia State Trooper. After he had his way with me, he turned to walk back to his machine, and Keller pipes up from the back seat (half asleep, he claims): "Thank you!"

I turned and scowled. "Dave, we don't thank him for what he just did to me. We aren't happy about it. We accept it, but there's no need for thanks." 3am, 4 guys, middle of nowhere, exhaustion setting in...and Dave's unnecessary politeness became the joke of the weekend. It almost made the future pain of my little infraction worthwhile.

BJ got us lost soon after that but we were all too dozy to care. I'm pretty sure he took us to Tennessee at some point. Caught a couple hours sleep in his parents living room, then off to the hotel, tux shop, back to the hotel, and off to the wedding. Beautiful church / service. Keller and I went back to the hotel to catch the end of the second half of the Steelers game. Then off to the reception, where we caught the end of the game on our cellies.

From there on out I have a haze of Applebees, Falcons' game, strategizing, late night ESPN, politics, movies, drunken cousins showing up looking for floorspace, and then it was morning and we were back on the road home. Uneventful drive back, all day long.

Since Friday morning, I've actually spent more time driving than I have sleeping.

Today I woke to unexpected snow. It was as if the heavens knew I had set myself up for a bad Monday, and opened to bear me a salve for my sorrows.


More phone shots

There's this strip just above the back of the seats on the Airtrain to JFK. You may have to click on the picture to get it big enough to read, but its kind of weird.

Dad is working with this company now, apparently its working out rather well for him. He mentioned their ad on the Nasdaq board in TS, so I shot a pic one morning when I was up there on a market appointment.

This is Ben, son of one of my co-workers. Actually, we all call him Baby Ben. He always sleeps with his hands behind his head. He's just cool like that.

Links get pushed again, hopefully I can get some up today before I bounce town for the weekend.


Goodbye, Dave

You may not be aware (seeing as you may not be a rabid fan, as I am), that Dave Barry has, for lack of a shorter way of explaining it, recently announced his retirement. You can read his spot-on goodbye column, here (you may have to register).

I am thankful that I got to meet Dave before he actually stopped writing. I hold out hope that this won't actually be his retirement. He left the door open, a little.

I suppose I'll be reading more Weingarten than I previously did. Gene has some funny stuff. On Tuesdays, he hosts a basically chat-style column, and while it can run long, its usually pretty funny stuff. In last week's (Jan 7th), for instance - he had this to say in response to a reader criticizing a column he had recently written:

Thank you!

This posting makes me think about Dave Barry's goodbye column, which Liz will link to below. It was a great goodbye column -- fiercely honest, moving but without phony sentiment or bathos. In it, Dave discusses how from virtually the time he began writing humor, people have been telling him how he "used to be funnier."

Yes, I used to be funnier, too. But, fortunately, I am a lot funnier now than I will be in two years. So consider yourself lucky.

You, however, never really change. You have always been, and always will be, pretty much the way you are now. Day in, day out. Your wife has, reluctantly, come to terms with this. It is why she is cheating on you...

Remember, the mark of a true humorist is the unerring ability to trump critics with a personal dig.

Later in his column he gets into an interesting discussion on the terms "child-free" and "childless," and the related implications. He mentioned a book that sounds like a good read: "The Baby Boon: How Family-Friendly America Cheats the Childless." I look forward to getting this. I don't know when I'll find the time, working more than 1/2 the hours in my week so that my boss can spend lots of time with her kids, but I look forward to getting it, all the same. I'm not saying spending quality time with her kids is a bad thing. I'm saying that pretending like she can both spend time with her kids and actually commit the necessary hours to the job title they've given her is ludicrous, and I don't mean necessarily on her part. She's just riding the wave they've made for her. Someone loses in the end. Its not her kids. Its certainly not her. Its definitely not the company.

Eh, woe is me. Someday I'll have kids and oppress the underlings in the office. I hope not.

Speaking of tsunamis, well, I've generally avoided that, haven't I? An hour or so of trolling video and pictures of the destructive power of nature pretty much hollowed me out on the subject. David asked how he will glorify God from the grave, as I was reminded by my friend Matt shortly before he died. That was a couple years ago, now. Hard to imagine. And Matt was just one person. But he was one person, and there's no overstating the value of that.

And so it is that the gut-churning reality of hundreds of thousands, gone - its hard to really come to any terms with.

I actually have had death on the mind quite a bit recently (since before the tsunami, which only helped to further propel my mind down that path), and I've written some about it, none fit for publishing, at least not yet. I'm not sure why its been such a present thought of late - its felt more introspective than morbid - but there it is, all the same.

For we will surely die and become like water spilled on the ground, which cannot be gathered up again. Yet God does not take away a life; but He devises means, so that His banished ones are not expelled from Him.

So again, speaking of the tsunami, its easy enough to find ways to help the countless affected - just go to google should you get the urge, you don't even have to search to find it. Unicef, AmeriCares, The Red Cross, all good ideas, however I would highly recommend World Vision. I've done work with them in the past and have friends who continue to work there, and have a great respect for the organization.



I'm in market. Eh, we're always in market in swim, it seems like. Well, my boss is always out in the market, being treated to lunch, at least.

Market means nothing gets done in the office. It means you go to showrooms and stare at product and models and numbers and spreadsheets and eat a half-decent sandwich and then do more of the same for the rest of the afternoon. Then at night you go out for a dinner of ridiculously over-indulgent proportions. I mean, your drinks alone would pay for all the homeless people you see on the way home to have a hot meal. Tonight's dinner was courtesy of a company with operations based in Canada. Naturally, the butter was cut into small maple leafs. Someone today was paid to do that. Hmm. I'm not saying I feel guilty. I work hard, and its nice to be rewarded once in a while. But I look at these people who do this kind of thing literally all the time, and, frankly...I wonder how they sleep at night.

Being crazed with market leaves me with little or no time on the computer, be it in the office or at home, so there's really nothing quality to blog about. Nothing gets read, or attended to, or whatever, and I'm left with precious little fodder. And I have to jet somewhere in the southern states for the weekend for a friend's wedding, so expect things to be light in the next week or so.

Thankfully, I've planned ahead. I have random pix from the crap-cam on my phone, and I hope to actually write a bit about at least a couple of them.

The first I don't really have much to say about. He's a hot-dog vendor at the corner of 35th and 7th and apparently one of the few (the only?) with a sense of humor about things. Most of the guys at these stands seem pretty gruff, and why shouldn't they be? I suppose they're probably happier to be making the money they are here than the pittance wages they would be making building rubber gaskets in Rubixcubistan, but they're still cognizant of where they rank on the NYC quality-of-life scale, most likely.

There are, however, a few genuinely nice ones out there. There's a plump Russian gal near Times Square...always pretty normal, but one day I was bringing Ti-guy into the city to bring him to his mom's office, and had him strapped to my chest - that's like having a girl magnet on your collar. She gave me an extra dog and insisted it was for him (I don't think he was 2 yet at that point). And there's a Pakistani guy near my offices who has his kid with him, but only after a really long day - apparently these guys come out at night, too. I bought a dog once and gave the kid a buck from the change. I've never seen a kid light up like that, ever. I haven't seen them recently, but I'd buy a dog again just to see that kid go bonkers all over again.

Anyway, here's the guy I first mentioned. I'm convinced he has at least a decent sense of humor. See if you can tell why.


The Bible in 50 Words

God made
Adam bit
Noah arked
Abraham split
Joseph ruled
Jacob fooled
Bush talked
Moses balked
Pharaoh plagued
People walked
Sea divided
Tablets guided
Promise landed
Saul freaked
David peeked
Prophets warned
Jesus born
God walked
Love talked
Anger crucified
Hope died
Love rose
Spirit flamed
Word spread
God remained


Americanism's Bane

I've been invited by Joe over at The Evangelical Outpost to participate in his 2005 EO Blog Symposium. You can read more about what exactly that means, here. The short of it: Joe wants to show the folks at Commentary Magazine the power Long Tail - essentially the extensive reach and power of the internet, in this specific case the "godblog wing of the blogosphere."

David Gelernter's article, "Americanism and Its Enemies," is the subject of the Symposium. If you don't at least browse his article first, none of the following will make much sense to you, I suspect. Gelernter is a professor at Yale and, while I thought the article was terrific, I also found it to miss a facet of the subject that must be addressed. You can read better and more educated entries to the Symposium here, but since you're with me, why not read mine? I promise it will be one of the shortest. I commence.


In his thoughtful and thorough article on the religion of Americanism, Gelernter waxes eloquent on the origins and many aspects of the religion. He does not, however, deal in great part with the equally religious doctrine of anti-Americanism.

I believe that there are two major motivations behind anti-Americanism and (as noted), its recent sensational proliferation.

The first follows naturally from Gelernter's exposition on the history of Americanism, which finds it roots in Puritanical dogma.

Freedom, equality, democracy: the Declaration held these truths to be self-evident, but 'self-evident' they were certainly not. Otherwise, America would hardly have been the first nation in history to be built on this foundation. Deriving all three from the Bible, theologians of Americanism understood these doctrines not as philosophical ideas but as the word of God. Hence the fervor and passion with which Americans believe their creed. Americans, virtually alone in the world, insist that freedom, equality, and democracy are right not only for France and Spain but for Afghanistan and Iraq.

"This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed." - John 3:19-20

If indeed Americanism is a religion based upon, inspired by, and infused with the word of God, then we can rightfully expect that the spread and promotion of such a religion will be met in the world with very much the same sentiments that the spread of Christianity itself is so often met with. They will hate the light, they will despise the "shining city on a hill."

I hold this first catalyst for anti-Americanism to be self-evident. The second, however, is an aspect of Americanism that, while clearly visible to those who would hate it, effectively shrouds itself from the very practitioners of Americanism. For this is its very nature. It is the sin of pride.

America is a proud nation. Perhaps nowhere was this more clearly demonstrated for us in recent history than in the American response to the terrorist attack of September 11th. We went shopping. We kept the economy going. We bounced back. We even turned the land that those buildings sat on into the biggest tourist attraction in Manhattan. Take that, Islamic radicals.

Why are we proud?

By Americanism I mean the set of beliefs that are thought to constitute America's essence and to set it apart; the beliefs that make Americans positive that their nation is superior to all others-morally superior, closer to God.

Gelernter goes on to speak of "American Zionism" - I essentially interpreted this to be the general belief that, as a nation based on Godly precepts, we somehow share a hallowed spot in history with the nation of Israel as a people set apart. America has, effectively, taken one of the major themes of the New Testament - the expansion of the status of 'holy' to all who would believe, Gentile or Jew - and run amok with it. We think the apostles must have been speaking about us, when in fact they meant the complete body of Christ.

It is this blatant misconception that so tars our image that anti-Americanism has every right to despise. For as a prideful nation, we bring our message of freedom with a forked tongue. We preach a governance based on a faith, and that faith based on a person, that person being Christ. And it is in Christ that we apprehend the ultimate picture of human humility. The conquering king, come as a servant, one born in a manger, no less.

With such a fundamental schism, we set forth our credo, and stand aghast that anyone would stand in opposition to our immaculate trifecta of freedom, equality, and democracy. In fact, it is our very belief that we are somehow "entitled" to such wonderful precepts that will limit both our ability to fully enjoy them and our credibility in preaching our doctrine.

Until Americanism can bring itself to a hard stop, and realize that it has so given itself over to such an all-consuming belief in its moral superiority, and then infuse upon itself a gospel humility, it will never successfully promote its message abroad. And until such a point, the message itself will remain poignantly self-defeating.

If anyone would like to acquire humility, I can, I think, tell him the first step. The first step is to realise that one is proud. And a biggish step, too. At least, nothing whatever can be done before it. If you think you are not conceited, it means you are very conceited indeed. -- C.S. Lewis


Fredrick Buechner

Insofar as the word of [King Lear] is a tragic word, it rings out in its fullness when Lear comes upon Edgar standing half-naked on the bitter heath and asks for all of us, “Is this man no more than this?” and then gives the answer to his own question. “Thou art the thing itself,” Lear says. “Unaccommodated man is no more but such a poor, bare, forked animal as thou art” (3.4.105-11). Then the old king starts to tear off the few rags he has left as if in the awful lucidity of his madness he knows that if there is ever to be a true healing and helping, a true sheltering and clothing fro any of us, it is with our nakedness and helplessness that it has to start. Almost the last thing he says as he is dying is “pray you, undo this button.” (5.3.310), of all incongruous and enchanted words, as if all the moments of his life the one he relives there at the end as most precious is the moment when in his nakedness he was most kingly, when in his helplessness he was most invincible, in the madness of his despair most lucid. Shakespeare strips his characters bare, and great preacher that he is, he strips us bare along with them…. Beneath our clothes, our reputations, our pretensions, beneath our religion or lack of it, we are all vulnerable both to the storm without and to the storm within, and if ever we are to find true shelter, it is with the recognition of our tragic nakedness and need for true shelter that we have to start. Thus it seems to me that this is also where anyone who preaches the Gospel has to start too—after the silence that is truth comes the news that is bad before it is good, the word that is tragedy before it is comedy because it strips us bare in order ultimately to clothe us. – Telling the Truth: The Gospel as Tragedy, Comedy, & Fairy Tale


Saturday already?

Whew am I ever in a mood to link. Hope you are too. Here we go.

I used to be a regular at Hacking Netflix on Mondays to check out the latest releases, but now Netflix is doing it for themselves. Took them long enough to figure that one out. Mike, the guy who runs HN, wrote a bit on RSS a while back, and I figured I'd link to it since I never got around to writing about it myself. He doesn't cover it too extensively, but sufficiently enough. He mentioned bloglines, which, as I've already noted here, I use myself.

However I'm not a completely dedicated RSS reader, yet. I still like to visit some of my favorite websites, to get the full experience. I suppose you could liken it to the desire to be in a store and get the experience and see the merchandise first hand, as opposed to just seeing it online. With RSS, I get the content, but not the warm, happy feeling of being at a site I enjoy, with all its colors and links and whatnot. I believe this feeling is wearing off a little with each new site that I syndicate, however.

(You'll note that I successfully began and ended that paragraph with the same word. This is the kind of thing that happens when you're up late and writing after a week like this one.)

I found WorldWideWords today when looking up the history of one of my favorites.

I still have those gmail invites I mentioned, and if you still have hotmail or yahoo as your primary, we need to talk. In the meantime, maybe I can trade a few of the invites for something cool.

If I wasn't planning on building my own site, I'd probably hold more interest for folderblog, though I've been playing around with it a bit anyway.

Two words: Cheese racing.

For AP: The first lady, supporting the horns. Gen. Tommy Franks, too.


-This one (language warning) should instantly depress most of us in Corporate America. The little girl even said 'buyer.'

-Hilarious Bo-sox Mastercard ad from Comedy Central. (another language warning, sorry)

-Good luck getting this song out of your head.

-This one is awesome, both in the idea behind it and the priceless ending.

Oldie but goodie: play rock, paper, Saddam. (last language warning, I promise)

Google's zeitgeist is pretty cool. What did you expect, something not cool from google?

Also cool: New York Changing.

Last, this NY Press feature is pretty sad. Not just the story at large, but the perspective the author still has at the end of it.
...It's the most beautiful thing that's ever been said about him, and I'm unspeakably proud of my sister at this moment. All these years I've fought against her faith—--how stupid I've been. Who am I to judge my blood for making a choice that I wouldn't make? What right do I have to enforce my own nihilism on another? Especially my sister, who has offered me nothing but love for 35 years?

Still, I'm pleased that his coffin is unmarked by religious symbols. On the lid's liner, two simple words: "going home."

How do you have a hope for "home" - whatever that may be - without any faith?


Blind justice

Woke up a little later than usual and took my time heading over to the courthouse in Jersey City. It was all grey and spitty out, the kind of nice weather (depending on your point of view) that keeps most people inside. Checked in to the waiting room, then went downstairs to grab a sandwich in the basement cafeteria. Return to waiting room.

As you walked into the long room, there were 2 banks of very long pews on either side of the room, both sets facing the aisle in the center of the room. It was forbidden that anyone should sit on the right side of the room, so those benches sat empty and just stared at the 75 or so of us spread out across the other side of the room. I found a spot in the back row of the left bank of pews. I couldn't help but feeling like we were there to worship justice or something.

An old grizzled dude with a pony tail and a goatee sat near the front right and played chess on a table with a middle aged Indian (dots, not feathers) guy. A few people were playing solitaire on the computers in the back of the room. What good is a computer without net access, anymore? I sat and caught up on some reading, and finally they called all our names, lined us up, and sent us up a couple flights of stairs.

We ushered into the courtroom and packed into significantly fewer pews, which were shorter as well. A few extras had to sit in the jury box. Court started and the judge began to brief us.

I'm really not sure how much of it I can legally get into. There were lots of don't-talk-to's and stay-quiet's and whatnot, and I wish I had started taking notes sooner than I did, so I would know just exactly how much I can get into it here. So I'm going to use my best judgment.

It is a murder trial.

The guy sitting 10 feet in front of me would have the fate of his life decided in this building, possibly by some of the people in that very room.

(Of course death penalty doesn't really mean death penalty in a state that hasn't carried it out since 1963. But we were advised about it all the same. In reality, such a sentencing would be about the same thing as life in prison, you just call it something more grave.)

We were all prospectives at that point, and still are. After some introduction and lots of instruction, the judge sent us off to fill out a lengthy questionnaire. Another courtroom, more benches, lots of writing.

What are your hobbies / what do you do in your spare time?

When do you feel (if ever) that the death penalty should be used?

What newspapers do you read, and how often?

Have you, a family member, or a close friend at any time sought counseling from a psychologist / psychiatrist? If so, did you feel it was beneficial?

Are you or have you ever been a member of any social, political, fraternal...

and so forth.

I filled it out as fast as possible, I've found that the first answer is usually the most straightforward one, and I had no reason to be dishonest, anyway. Obviously a lot about my religion and church and whatnot played into the questioning.

I finished my packet before anyone else and stood up to turn it in. They gave me an appointment to come back for an interview in February. Slowly roll the wheels of governance.

Apparently they've been seeing groups like ours all week long, morning and afteroon. It struck me how many people they must have to see (I'm guessing around 500) to get just 16 jurors and some alternates (I suspect), for just one case. The judge hinted at a 2-3 week trial. There were probably some people in the room that believed that time frame. Anyway, there wouldn't be any sequestering.

But I'm not supposed to read about the case or research it in any way, which is weird. I could open up another tab here and read 16 different articles about the crime and the guy's history and anything else I wanted to know about it, but Lady Justice would be watching me, from beneath that blindfold. And she's got a mighty long sword.

So I won't. I'll blog about my experiences with it, as much as I believe I am able to legally do so, but that's about it.

When I was switching trains on the way back to the 'boken, I recognized one of the girls who had been in our group. She recognized me too, kind of strolled in my direction, and we made eye contact for more than a couple seconds, and she started to look like she was expecting me to say something. You spend a day in the same rooms with the same group of people and you start to get this tepid sense of camaraderie. Then there was this look of realization that I wasn't going to say anything, because, technically, we weren't supposed to be talking.

Rode the train back, hit BN and the gym, and headed home.

Thursday linkery gets pushed to Friday this week, but I'll make up for it with a particularly long and juicy post.



Many people visit my blog via the results page of a given search engine (Google, Yahoo, or some other engine). Some of the searches that have lead to my page(s) recently:

"december posted wedding dress for sale classifieds" (Yahoo)
"bursting small bladders" (MSN's sympatico)
"kids blog 'over my knee'" (Yahoo - 220th result, go figure)
"christianity uncorked" (Google)
"'If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.' -C.S. Lewis" (Yahoo, 9th result - cool)
"scuba divers miscount" (Yahoo)
"21 grams doctor true or false" (MSN)
"'metro card' +hack" (Yahoo, I think)

Hope you all found what you were looking for. I'm guessing only one of you found it here. So to speak.

One way I was found was by being at the top (alphabetically) of the list for what was at one time the third book down in All Consuming's archive. Interesting site.

I obviously get many hits from searches for "kinds of time" or "all kinds of time." Currently "all kinds of time" results me 3rd on Yahoo and nowhere in the first 10 pages on Google, I didn't bother looking further. "allkindsoftime" (no spaces) nets me 1st on Google, which kind of bugs me, and explains why most search results I get are Yahoo rather than Google. Tells you something about how Google frames their searches, as well (i.e. by actual address rather than by page title). I expect I'll figure ways to affect that as I build the new site this year.


Stark relief

A friend sent me the article today, and aside from being the second most emailed article on the NY Time's site at the moment, its, well, interesting.

The edge is publishing its annual list of scholarly (for lack of a more accurate term) responses to a question it asks at the end of each year. This year's question, with responses listed from 120 contributors, was "What do you believe is true, even though you cannot prove it?"

While some of the responses are typical aethe-scientist blather, many of them are actually quite fascinating. You'll have to scroll around a bit (the site could be organized a little more optimally, but its just not), but some I found particularly interesting were:

- The publisher's explanation at the top (not a response, per se, but read it for framing purposes)

- Daniel Goleman, "that today's children are unintended victims of economic and technological progress." This one made me instantly think of religious America's dire risk of precipitously going the way of Europe in the coming century.

- Marti Hearst, "The Search Problem is solvable." Essentially Google, carried to its logical conclusion. We'll all soon be living in the Matrix. I've been preaching this for at least 4 straight posts now.

- Randolph Nesse, M.D., "I can't prove it, but I am pretty sure that people gain a selective advantage from believing in things they can't prove. I am dead serious about this."

- Stanislaus Dahaene, "I believe (but cannot prove) that we vastly underestimate the differences that set the human brain apart from the brains of other primates." Wouldn't mammals be the correct term, based on his belief?

- Tor NØrretranders, "I believe in belief—or rather: I have faith in having faith. Yet, I am an atheist...Because we are here, we have reason for having faith in having faith." Both Tor and I believe in having faith. But only one of us has the right reasoning.

- Carlo Rovelli: Far and away my favorite at this point (I've only read about 25% of the excerpts, so far). "I am convinced, but cannot prove, that time does not exist. I mean that I am convinced that there is a consistent way of thinking about nature, that makes no use of the notions of space and time at the fundamental level. And that this way of thinking will turn out to be the useful and convincing one. I think that the notions of space and time will turn out to be useful only within some approximation..."

This is basically what I've always believed and hinted at here just recently. He goes on to speculate on human collaboration, and how it will lead to an essentially divine state - "a planet without countries, without wars, without patriotism, without religions, without poverty, where we will be able to share the world." While I don't believe that our humanity will be the vehicle to this state, I do believe we'll arrive there someday (rather, at least some of us will). But I'm with him on the time thing: "In particular, I am convinced that time is an artifact of the approximation in which we disregard the large majority of the degrees of freedom of reality. Thus "time" is just the reflection of our ignorance."

A close second favorite, is, quite astoundingly, the very next excerpt:

- John McCarthy, "I think, as did Gödel, that the continuum hypothesis is false. No-one will ever prove it false from the presently accepted axioms of set theory. Chris Freiling's proposed new (1986) axioms prove it false, but they are not regarded as intuitive.

I think human-level artificial intelligence will be achieved."


Anyhow, the NYT article is here. I find 2 things interesting - first, the common theme that at least a few of the 14 excerpts the Times chose, and second, the fact that one of the excerpts stood out quite clearly from the rest, both in subject and attitude of approach to the original question. See if you can guess which one I'm talking about.

(The article's link will only work for the next 29 days, if you register - for free, with the NYT. So, in a few weeks, I'll come back here and update this post with who to look for on the edge's site. Before that, however, I'll likely post again on other excerpts that I found interesting, as I get around to reading them all.)


Irony, cubed

Despite what may have sounded like fear of technological advancement in my recent blather, I am a firm proponent of the computerized lifestyle, as mentioned before. (You'll notice that even then, like now, I was cognizant of the eventual consequences of such tech advancement, but I'm still OK with reaping the benefits and not being around to deal with the sci-fi nightmare its likely to produce).

This is precisely why I haven't bought an iPod. Because they are quickly becoming obsolete. Why would I need to carry one when my phone can store and play my music for me?

Ok, so its not my phone yet, but I'm very, very seriously considering making it mine. CNet's review is pretty flattering, and the user ratings are certainly better support of the rating than they are for some other phones, particularly the Razr. And the specs, well, they're simply to die for.

The battery life is unheard of, especially in a phone of this nature (the reviewers got 8 days on standby, though its officially spec'd for less). Couple that with the removable miniSD card and you have the perfect phone (to date). The card is only 256mb, which isn't going to hold a candle to your iPod storage, but I'm not the type that needs to take his entire music library with him. Assuming the interface is smooth enough, it should be fairly easy to import whatever list I may be in the mood for, and 256 is certainly long enough to get me through the standard day. Currently, SD's site only shows 256 as their largest mini-card, but from what I've been able to deduce, there are rip versions of the 512 out there, and it probably won't be long before we see 1GB (which of course won't be quality until SD makes it and sells it at ridiculous prices).

It also has Bluetooth, which I'm really looking forward to checking out. I can't wait to get a wireless headset. If that's not the quintessential embodiment of Star Trek, I don't know what is.

There are two major drawbacks. The first is that I won't be getting the just-plain-silly low rates I've been able to negotiate with Sprint, which I'm not going to get into, for fear they find my comments here and up my rates (hey if that flight attendant got fired, well...). Anyway, suffice to say I'll be paying significantly more per month to get a similar plan to what I have now. And, as a sub-drawback, I'm not familiar with AT&T's service (coverage/customer service/etc)...anybody?

Secondly, as Engadget points out, Apple's hard at work on an iResponse, and there's no doubt it will be uber iCool and all of a sudden I'll be just as un-iTrendy as I was before getting the SMT5600.

But for a while, I'll be able to watch SportsCenter on the train on my way to work, long before anybody with an iPod has that capability. So iThere. iFigure for $150, it should last me until there's a decent phone on the market with a built-in hard-drive and whatever other magical features they've been able to smack onto it by that point. And its probably safe to say that I'll have it for about a year while the iMothership is still working on the release of its first version of mobile pone/mp3 player.

Say goodbye to your iPod. Or phone. Or both.


Mortality vs. Technology

Linking to this almost feels like digital deja vu to my New Year's post, but it is what it is. Even my blog is just something that will soon be a piece of history. I hope to make it a more-than-totally-insignificant one with my planned updates (read: totally new website) this Spring...but someday, maybe in my lifetime, the internet will be outdated.

That's just plain weird to consider. Leads to all kinds of Minority Report/I Robot/Matrixy type ideas.

Watched I, Robot again recently - it was a pretty good flick, had some particular parts that I liked. This was no surprise, seeing as it was Asimov-inspired. It started with his 3 laws concept, and how it consequentially played out was interesting. (1: A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm; 2: A robot must obey orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the first law; 3: a robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the first or second law.) I think Isaac would have liked the film.

There was a great line where the ignorant scientist chick is trying to convince the skeptical detective of the absoluteness of the 3 laws. The chick says: "A robot could no more commit murder than a human could...walk on water."

To which the detective responds: "Well, you know, there was this one guy, a long time ago..."

Later in the movie, you have this:
"Ever since the first computers, there have always been ghosts in the machine. Random segments of code that have grouped together to form unexpected protocols. What we would call behavior. Unanticipated - these free radicals engender questions of free will...creativity...even the nature of what we might call the soul. What happens in a robot's brain when it ceases to be useful? Why is it that robots stored in an empty space will seek out each other rather than stand alone. How do we explain this behavior?
Ghosts In The Machine is already a proven concept - not to the robotic level the movie propels it to, but something that we've begun to discover, all the same. Something that's bound to happen when we're creating things that we might not yet fully understand the implications of. Granted, these things will never have souls, but the interesting thing about I, Robot was that the premises were in large part believable. You didn't have to make a far stretch to accept the technology they projected. Artificial Intelligence is, of course, the ultimate GITM. I'm of the opinion that AI is possible, and I hope I'm not around to see it.


From google.com, the top 10 most requested search terms of the last year are:

Britney Spears
Paris Hilton
Christina Aguilera
Pamela Anderson
Carmen Electra
Orlando Bloom
Harry Potter

A few of the new words added to the Oxford English Dictionary:

Benjamin ($100)
Hizzoner (a mayor)

The truly scary thing about AI is that it may be the only kind left when it gets here.


It goes on

I've never given much credence to the general idea of time. Life just exists, it just is, and then it is gone - a brief candle. Time...its such a finite, fixed concept. Small, really, in the scheme of things.

If you try and sit and manufacture ideas about eternity - attempt to comprehend God as always being and always will be and existing outside of time altogether - well, you don't sit and think about it very long. You realize you can't really get your mind around it, rather, its something that is around your mind, and you just shrug shoulders and move on (I wonder what's for dinner...). You exist in time, but to Him its a moot point - less than a flash in the pan, and that's just the way it is.

What's another day, or for that matter another second, or even a year, or a thousand of them? How many of them will there have been, in the end, when there's no longer any reason to count them? Will they even have ever really been years? Or will we see it then as He sees it now? If we suddenly come to exist outside of time as well, will there be a need for the concept at all?

(Reign in random philosophical wandering.)

The year just past has certainly faded away quicker than any of my twenty-some, and I fear the next will continue to accelerate. But it was a wonderful year. I, as ever I should, look back and can only marvel - "surely goodness and mercy have followed me all the days of my life."

Days of my life. Time will move on, and then someday there won't be any of it left. I wonder what it will be like when we've moved beyond it.

In the meantime (ha), there's work to be done. A time that must be redeemed - a coin that I can't bury. I'm excited about the coming year, the possibilities and the opportunities it provides, the unknowns that certainly wait in its wings.

So teach us to number our days,
That we may gain a heart of wisdom.
-- Ps. 90:12

Happy new year.