Thursday, August 30, 2007

going over the edge

My internet presence has changed a good bit since I first became a member of an online forum, I guess almost six years ago. I don't remember those early days so very well, I admit. Nor can I remember how many different such places I have at one time or another been a member of, though I am still a pretty steady contributor at the one that the first one eventually morphed into, or was taken in to, or whatever.

There are a few things I remember from those early days. I can't remember how, but early on I got on the wrong side of one other person, and someone I could only consider a crony of his, and for a bit we were at each other. Then, in another thing in which I can't remember, he and I became friends, at least as far as is possible in such a setting. I was more then a little saddened when he got into a row with some of the board's powers-that-were, and lost his membership there.

Probably the first really big battle I got into in which I was a focus was with someone in the cult of Christian Science. This went on for several weeks, and was quite eye-opening.

After that, I kind of went over into discussions of the end times--always a crazy place. It was my first introduction to some of the non-dispensationalist end-times views, and I can't say I was impressed by much except the tenacity of those who hold other views.

Throught both of those, there were the often lively discussion on certain modern ministers or tv personalities. Trust me, if you wanted to start a nice little headed debate, all you had to do was mention Benny Hinn, and sit back and watch the sparks fly.

Things changed against after a while--one can grow weary of making the same end-times arguments over and over again, after all--and next on my main interests was what is called Current Events. Again, eye-opening. Such discussions often centered on social or political issues, and could in themselves be rather sharp at times.

There've been other, less serioius and less heated, discussions as well. Books and movies have been subjects, and good ones, too. There was a completely whacky one in a fun section that went on for quite a while.

I guess all of this is to say that I've been involved in a few tussles on-line in my time. I understand the passions that such discussions can rouse, and have myself had to more then once go back and edit something I had just posted because I on my second thoughts I figured it was too sharp or too insulting. I'm not particularly proud of that, it's just how things were at times. Nor am I still above the use of sarcasm when I figure it's called for.

I understand as well the desire many people have for their ideas. For example, I am very strongly on the 'sound doctrine over feelings ' side in debates on doctrinal issues. There have been debates over such things as the Trinity, the humanity or divinity of Christ, and the reliability of the Bible that I have been one of the main contributors to, as well as discussions on the modern prophetic and apostolic movement, and more recently some things said by those who claim to be in the Emergent/Emergin Church Movement.

I have been among fundamentalists, evangelicals, and I think among emergents, and there are some things in each I can respect, and other things in each that rub me wrong. I am one person, so making me happy is not and should not be necessarily a big deal to any particular movement, but I am also one who must make the best decisions I am able to on any particular church.

For all that I think there are things to stand up for, I do think there are things and places in which it's just not worth getting riled over. For example, there is here...

Veggie Tales and the Wonderful World of Ha’s

I can understand and respect someone not wanting their kids to watch Veggie Tales, but to go as far as this person does in trying to denigrate them is to my mind rather silly. Can I also find it a bit questionable to in one paragraph decry the 'more merchandising of Christ' while in the next there are links to purchase CDs of hymns?

I don't know how much I really want to get into this. I frankly find the rhetoric of this Veggie-blast enough of a refutation in its own rights. I think that for most of us, we are glad to see when someone is on our side, and is teaching things we can agree with. Veggie-Tales is a cartoon, with cartoon characters, and I would dare say that children know that very well. Most of the children who watch VT no doubt have already learned that in real life vegetables do not talk, do not sing silly songs, and do not act. Most probably already know that the battle of Jericho did not have veggies throwing slushies at each other, or they will learn such when they are old enough to handle the reality.

More then that, I have seen in at least one setting where VT stories were used to minister to college students.

Again, the person who wrote this tirade can dislike VT, and not show them to children, and I am fine with that--such is this person's opinions, and I can respect that. But for this person to go on and condemn those who don't mind them and do show them to children is going too far, and I cannot accept such a "My way or the highway" mentality as being good. We are not dealing with great doctrinal issues, and I think such an attitude inappropriate and out-of-proportion.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Rod Wells Memorial chess tourney

My time in tournament chess can be divided into two periods, one was a couple of years in the early '90s between finishing high school and entering college, and the other beginning about a year ago and continuing to now. In the time back in the '90s, one of the chess club's regulars was Rod Wells. He was an older man, and quite a bit taller then myself. One thing he was known for was wearing these special types of glasses, I think they are called jeweler's glasses. He was never one of the stronger players in the club, but he was one of the club's mainstays and characters.

This tournament had a faster time control then has been normal, which also means that we played more games. We had seven rounds total, although I had a bye in the last round so only played six games.

The first game was intense. My opponent sacrificed to get a couple of passed pawns, and then I had to return the sac to get on of them, and we each wound up with passed pawns that we could almost but not quite promote. We ended up in an even rook-and-pawn endgame with time running out, so we agreed to a draw.

Game two was a win. My opponent's position acquired some defects in the pawn structure, though I'm not sure I did the best I could fighting against them. We came to another ending, but the rooks were about to be exchanged and one of my pawns was going to promote when my opponent resigned.

I lost the third game, but it was still a very intense game. Things were pretty quiet at first, but then we each made some sharp moves, and for a few moves things got crazy--pieces and pawns under attack, sacrificial possibilities came up, attack and counter-attack. But I didn't handle it right, and so wound up a piece down and, well, resigned.

The fourth game was another intense game. I had a good position, but my opponent was holding, and so I sacced a rook for his good knight and a pawn. We exchanged rooks, and so I had a bishop against his other rook, and I also had two passed pawns on the queen's side, though they were both isolated. He probably could have at least held the draw, even when he had to sac the rook for a newly created queen, but instead he let the kingside get closed and all I had to do was to bring my king over and win his pawns.

The fifth and sixth games are almost best left forgotten, though somehow the last game did end in a draw. The fifth was a good fight at first, but I missed something and dropped a piece, and he held the ending for the win. In the last game, my opponent came after me from the first, but I was able to hold. Right when I though I was evening things up, if not getting a bit ahead, I missed a tactic that I had taken into account in some previous moves, and he won a piece. The, out of the blus and on the verge of winning, he left a piece hanging, and we ended up in a rook ending, which I held for the draw.

And in the last round, I had a bye, which gave me an extra point.

So, four points in seven round. Not bad, but not great either. A few too many mistakes.

Friday, August 17, 2007


Oxford professor: The Matrix is real!

Proof once again that even the strangest of fiction just can't trump reality.

From the original article, linked to in the documented linked above.

Dr. Bostrom doesn’t pretend to know which of these hypotheses is more likely, but he thinks none of them can be ruled out. “My gut feeling, and it’s nothing more than that,” he says, “is that there’s a 20 percent chance we’re living in a computer simulation.”

My gut feeling is that the odds are better than 20 percent, maybe better than even. I think it’s highly likely that civilization could endure to produce those supercomputers. And if owners of the computers were anything like the millions of people immersed in virtual worlds like Second Life, SimCity and World of Warcraft, they’d be running simulations just to get a chance to control history — or maybe give themselves virtual roles as Cleopatra or Napoleon.

Coming next month, the theory that we all really do live in a yellow submarine.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

superficial similarities

With virtues and sins, there is often a point of similarity between them that seems to cause some people to get confused, and even to think that they are not really much different from each other.

As an example, image that there are two men who know the same woman. One man loves her as truly as he able, cares for her and wants to see her happy. He tries to help and protect, and would give his life for hers should the need arise.

The other man sees her as an object of desire, and wants only to consume her on his own lusts. Perhaps he will treat her kindly, but it is all calculated to his own ends.

On a superficial level, one could say that if either man had his way, the results would be the same--whether through marriage or not (and there's no reason to think that the second man would not marry her, especially if he regarded it as 'only a ceremony') each would have a sexual encounter with her.

And the same could be said of other virtue/vice pairs. In both justice and revenge, there is the desire for the punishing of the guilty, and even to the point of ending the guilty person's life should the crime be so heinous. Chesterton in 'Orthodoxy' points out that some in his time tried to say that the martyr and the suicide were actually the same, because both choose death. Peace and cowardice are too often mistaken for each other, because both do not want conflict.

But they are not the same, despite the one point of superficial similarity they may have. Love and lust are not the same, and saying that each would lead to sex is not saying they are the same. For the man who loves a woman, she will be much more then just a sexual partner, much more then just a body. She will be a person, and he will care for the whole of her. For the man with lust only, she will be only an object, a thing by which he pleases himself.

And it is here that the true difference comes out. It was C.S. Lewis who noted that the modern virtue has become 'unselfishness', while the old virtue was 'love'. The difference was subtle but important--'unselfishness' is actually a selfish 'virtue', because the important aspect is the doing without, while 'love' has the wants and needs of the one loved as its main consideration.

For the man in love, the woman, the beloved, is his concern. For the man in lust, his own desires are his main concern. For those wanting justice, the law and it's consequence are what is important, while to those wanting revenge the main thing is their own 'blood lust'. The martyr dies for things higher then himself or herself, while the suicide dies only for his or her own self. Those who love peace will see the need to fight for it at times, while cowards will have no conflict but also no peace.

And perhaps that should be expected. Evil may be likened to a parasite, or a leech. It can only exist because it has a good think to take life from. Evil may also been seen as the deformation of a good thing. If such is the case, the point of connection between the good and the evil would be similar, but that would not make the them the same things--if anything, it makes the evil more evil, because it must lessen the good and take life from it in order to exist.

Monday, August 6, 2007

the duggars

I thought this was an interesting bit of news that has developed into a lively debate.

Arkansas Couple Welcomes 17th Child

They also have a pretty nice website, too. Rather tastefully done. I would recommend not centering the paragraph text like that, but at least they don't have huge red Helvetica text screaming at the viewers.

Duggar's website