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Tuesday Morning Musings

Quite often we, as Christians, are tasked to consider how we should live, and how we should relate to our Creator, and to each other, and to the world at large.  We have a wealth of information provided to us in the Bible, and the (hopefully) obvious suggestion would be to go and study, and learn therefrom.

Consider the following examples:  Adam, the father of us all, King David, and Elijah.

Adam had a perfect relationship with God before the fall.  He stands as an example of what humanity was meant to be, and how we were intended to relate to God.  There are so few verses describing this state, and yet we see an idyllic world.  The more adventurous of us might take issue with what would seem to be a boring and challenge-less lifestyle; in fact, we know so little about that world that one cannot honestly assess it properly.  Nonetheless, we see how things could have been, without Sin.

King David, larger than life, colorful beyond Hollywood, famous and possessing riches beyond measure, is described as a “man after God’s own heart.”  He was far from flawless, but that in itself stands as a testimony to the potential we have.  If David sinned and was forgiven, can we not also be forgiven?  David’s life is a standard to which we can aspire as leaders, as worshippers, and as fallen-and-forgiven members of the family of God.

Then we have Elijah.  The prophet, appearing shortly after the reign of King David, provides a bit of a glimpse of the mystery and supernatural attributes of God.  It is Elijah who calls fire from heaven to consume his offering, and his sarcastic jabs at the prophets of Baal warm my contrarian heart (“is your God perhaps busy taking a crap?”), as are his frequent run-ins with the government, that being King Ahab.  More importantly, he prefigures Christ in that he restores life to a widow’s son, and is caught up in fire and taken to Heaven.  His life was, in many ways, as colorful and turbulent as  was David’s, and Elijah offers us some ideas of how living for God might not consist of (solely) piety and quite contemplation.  Elijah was noisy, rebellious, and unwavering in his devotion to God.

There are many examples of people we should emulate.  Ruth, Moses, Abraham, Joshua, Joseph, Mary, Paul the apostle, St. Peter… Why did I choose these three?  More importantly, why did I not choose any examples from the New Testament?

Consider Elijah and David.  They did not have the New Testament as a roadmap for living.  They did not have many of the writings of the prophets (Elijah was a prophet).  David didn’t have the Psalms as a pattern of worship; in many ways, he invented worship.  Abraham had little more than the direct words from God himself, as did Moses.  Adam had nothing, other than his direct interation with God.

What would we do today, as children of God, if we didn’t have the words of Paul?  If we didn’t have the written words of Jesus?  What would we sing, if we didn’t have the Psalms as source material?  If we had none of the prophecies?  How would we know how to live?

We take for granted, an immeasurable wealth, uncountable riches, these words of God which are available to all of us.  How many Bibles do we have, untouched?  We can, in a few seconds, call up any scripture we like, in any of scores of translations, thanks to search engines.

What if we had none of that?  How would we live?

Adam, David, and Elijah knew.  How much of a shame is it, that we struggle to live, even to a tenth as they did, when we have the instruction manual at our fingertips, as they did not?


Thoughts on the Greek Tragedy

So I’ve been reading various opinions on the interesting debacle in Greece. The overwhelming ‘oxi’ (no) vote (anyone else thinking oxi-clean?) seem to be grounded in a desire of the Greek citizenry for autonomy.

While my Libertarian heart agrees with their sentiments, I have to ask, why did Greece think it was such a good idea to join the EU in the first place?

Answer: Because they were a poor country, looking to become rich by joining up with rich countries, while neglecting the causes of their own relative poverty. In short, they are the irresponsible relative who comes begging every month for money to pay the rent, all the while castigating you for having the temerity to suggest that they might want to stop pissing away money hand-over-fist for non-essentials, and possibly look for a job.

The bigger issue is this: An economy is a balance of various factors in a society — productivity, among other things. The Greek culture celebrates its leisure — Greece is known for its liberal policies on the work-week, retirement age, and generous pensions. All of this makes for a nice relaxed attitude toward life, except that, all other things held equal, there will eventually be an issue of being unable to put as much food on the table as one would like.

Say’s law states that (basically) output is equal to input – you cannot enjoy the fruits of society unless society actually produces fruit. A society which congratulates itself on a low level of productivity, will be saddled with a corresponding low level of product – in short, if you work less, you had better be ready to enjoy less.

Greece (and they are by far alone in this) wanted the eat their cake and have it too. They insisted upon their right to produce less, while demanding (far more than) their fair share of the output. They managed to accommodate themselves by borrowing, then borrowing again. Indeed, their primary interest in joining the EU seemed to center around the fact that membership there-in, guaranteed them an unending bail-out for their poor economic sense.

Math being unaccommodating to wishes, Greece soon reached the point where they had to borrow to simply pay the interest on the loans.

When the creditors finally demanded that Greece straighten up, at least to the point of being able to pay interest, then, and ONLY then, did Greece rebel against the EU. They wanted the rest of Europe – specifically Germany – to shut up and pay their rent. Over and over.

So, yes, kudos to Greece for realizing that it sucks to have someone in a position to tell you to stop wasting money (and your life) away. But they deserve several wacks with a clue-bat for putting themselves into that position in the first place.

The concept behind the EU and the Euro was always stupid, and any honest economist could tell you that, and why that is the case, inside of two minutes. Unfortunately, the media and various governments are riddled with dishonest economists. The current debacle in Greece is the thoroughly predictable result.

Lunch Review: Thai Monkey Club (Louisville CO)

I traipsed down to the lunch room to collect the lunch of the day.  Our catered lunches are underwhelming, but free has its own quality.  Today, however, the quality of free was much less than acceptable.  I ate a few bites and gave up, heading out for a nice lunch-time walk to McDonalds instead.  Hey, I needed the exercise.

On the way, a banner caught my eye.  Advertised, was a new lunch place named “Thai Monkey Club.”  The banner did not say whether monkey was on the menu, but one can always hope for authentic food.  Ah yes… hope.

See, I had long ago given up expecting anything actually enticing and tasty from the typical Thai restaurant.  There was that one hot pot which tasted authentic (if strange)from the ever-inconsistent Thai Traditions in Wichita, and that same restaurant actually had quite a good authentic basil chicken — if you knew to ask for it.  But my Thai experiences in the main, have been disappointing — with one very notable exception in Louisville.

Thai Monkey Club is not that exception.

I entered, and was impressed by the interior – quite comfortable, with nice couches for waiting.  The only wait I had was for the hostess to appear from the kitchen.  The (otherwise) lack of waiting, and the attentiveness of the wait-staff was accounted-for by the near-lack of any other customers.  But it’s a new place; one should not expect a crowd.  In theory.

I’d hoped to have a nice basil chicken dish, but no dice.  They did have 8 different kinds of finely-differentiated curry rice dishes, the usual sampling of noodle dishes (including Pad Thai, of course), and some more of this and that.  The menu prices were discomforting, but I was willing to make allowances for exceptional food.  After all, there was an exceptional restaurant just a mile up the hill.  There could be another one here.

I ordered the Pad Prik Pao and a Thai Ice Coffee, then sat back to try repairing the Facebook installation on my iPhone.  My Thai Ice Tea arrived promptly, then disappeared just as quickly, as the hostess remembered I’d ordered Coffee, not Tea.  No harm, no foul.  The Coffee arrived shortly thereafter, and it was quite nice — not that I’d ever had Thai Coffee before.  But I liked it.

Then my appetizer arrived.  I looked at it in bewilderment, as I had not ordered one.  The waitress re-appeared, apologized again, and moved the disk to the correct table.  Again, there were four occupied tables, one can understand the confusion.  (Seriously, for a new restaurant, one should expect some logistical mix-ups – again, no big deal.  They’ll get that straightened out soon enough).

Finally, just as I’d given up on Facebook mobile, my dish arrived – Pad Prik Pao, with white rice and an egg roll.  I dug into it.  Now, I do speak a bit of several different south-east asian languages, but I don’t know a single word of Thai.  A quick google search, however, does not indicate that Pad Prik Pao translates to frozen-anonymous-asian-food-from-walmart-zapped-in-a-microwave.  It did taste that way, however.

So, I had (technically) two lunches today.  Neither of them had much to recommend them.  However, my first bland lunch was free.  My second cost twelve.ninety five.

The coffee was good.

I suppose one could say I should have ordered a spicier dish; be that as it may, I suspect I won’t return, especially given that previously-mentioned exceptional Thai restaurant, which is just a mile up the hill.  That is a mile I will gladly walk each direction, for the difference.

More bemusing is the fact that Thai Monkey Club is not a one-off restaurant – indeed, it is a chain of such restaurants around the Denver area.  You’d think, being a chain, they’d have got it right by now.  But then, there is also Panda Express – with food no better, and locations across the country.  There’s no accounting for the public’s taste, I suppose.

The takeaway:

Thai Monkey Club had better not monkey around in this area.  They need to improve their food quality and lower their prices, else the exceptional Thai restaurant a mile up the hill will eat their lunch, without even trying.

(p.s. – as of this writing, Facebook is still not working on my iPhone)

“If It’s Not Baroque…”

I wonder who came up with serif fonts. I suppose they were inspired by the Baroque period. Baroque is a style in which an object — art, sculpture, music, rap, whatever — is adorned with many little doo-dads and hoo-haws to make it look… well… silly I guess. But it’s a thing.

So, somebody, somewhere, took a look at the perfectly good Latin character set, and decided it needed some doo-dads and hoo-haws added to it. I suppose they wanted credit for being creative, or artistic, or whatever.
The point is, it was entirely unnecessary. Serif’d fonts are hard to read. Harder than nice sans-serif fonts. Why do we use them, then? Because somebody, somewhere, decided on our behalf, that Times Roman was the font everyone should use. And thus, we all fell into line like little sheep bleating about how amazing the sun is, how green the grass is, and how glittery-special Times Roman is.
And they added it to computers. Computers don’t need doo-dads and hoo-haws. Computers need this:
They can do almost anything in terms of managing data, presenting media, or controlling external devices, using nothing but an amazing array of ones and zeroes (or if you want to be picky about it, circuits which are either on or off). Baroque is simply non-essential for function.
Form, however, is a different story. Computers were boring and dull and hard to use, until they suddenly aquired Times Roman. From that point forward, they were awesome productive engines fueling the creative class, and making the world spin.
All because the characters, translated from ones and zeroes, acquired doo-dads and hoo-haws, and became harder to read.
Why do so many people prefer Times Roman over functionality? I don’t know, but I suspect it lies behind the tendency of Liberty-minded people to vote, over and over again, for Authoritarian, Baroque politicians, who simply cannot leave a working system alone without adorning it with useless doo-dads and hoo-haws which look nice, but accomplish nothing.

Politically Incorrect take on Memorial Day

The hot dogs have been eaten, the hamburgers burnt.  Tents taken down and washed, paper plates returned to the cupboard.  Our nation has dutifully spent its one minute of silence honoring those who gave all for this nation, and we return to our regular lives.

This post isn’t going where you think it is.

Dia de muertos – Day of the Dead – is a holiday celebrated in Mexico (and spread across the world), with origins in Aztec civilization, so says the ever-believable (but I sarcast [which is totally a verb – I just made it one]) Wikipedia.  Of course, the idea of celebrating the departed is not an Aztecian original.  See this helpful list, or simply consider the ancestor worship practiced in the east, or even the practice of visiting the grave of a departed family member.  Or consider the most-recently-concluded holiday, conveniently named Memorial Day.

The point is, most cultures (all?) have some tradition of honoring or remembering their dearly departed.

The process of grieving for the departed is different – it is a response to what is (hopefully) a recent event, and it is the subject of a subset of psychology.  It is, perhaps, the immediate response to loss, whereas the memorial celebrations are the long-tail release of the reaction spike of grief.  They are two related, and common, reactions to loss.

Generally, we expect the grieving period to occur, last a short time, and give way to the memorial period.  We grieve briefly, then remember, and honor the memories — without the grieving part — for a long time thereafter.

That is how it is supposed to work.  Sometimes a person, for whatever reason, gets stuck in the grief.  That’s where the psychology comes into play.

Now, what does that have to do with the most recent holiday, and how is that politically incorrect?

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