Sunday, September 30, 2007

Beating up Straw Men

I'm in Chicago in a Hotel room, and for whatever reason I flipped on the tube and caught the Saturday, 9/29/07 Tim Russet MSNBC show. The topic was a debate between two authors, Christopher Hitchens who just wrote an anti religious book and a Christian dude that wrote a Christian book called The American Gospel.

Firstly, I love Hitchens. I think he has a sharp mind and I like a lot of what he has to say. I thought compared to the Christian dude that was doing a sad job of defending Jesus Hitchens was his mental superior. Yet I felt bad for Hitchens, because he is fighting against God and he is blind.

Hitchens is basically saying the there is no God and religion is anti progressive. The sad thing is that the two are not linked, where I think in Hitchen's mind they are. I bet if I picked up Hitchens's new book I would agree with 90% of Hitchens's criticisms of religion. Religion is ultimately man's attempt to pervert the truth of God for his own agenda. Maybe humans aren't comfortable with the fact that they can't earn their own salvation. Man tries to develop a system so that man can earn God's favor and differentiate himself from his fellow men. Hitchens sees the insanity of this, and tasks his sharp mind with picking religion apart.

Yet I wish Hitchens would watch himself on Tim Russet. He makes statements like “Humans seem to be designed to worship.” Why Chris? That is just one example of a few on the show where I think if Hitchens stepped outside of his anti religious dogma and really pondered the philosophical questions he himself brings up he might realize that the existence of God, not necessarily as man defines them, seems to be the best explanation for things such as right and wrong, the reason for being, where we all come from and why are we here.

Hitchens brought up an interesting point that actually really scared me when I took it a different direction then Chris did. He talked about if there was a really all knowing God, he would feel like he would be under 100% mental surveillance, and would have no privacy, and would feel obligated to just sit around worshiping God like God was some North Norean dictator. The sad and beautiful thing is in a sense Chris is right on. All our thoughts, actions, motivations, deeds, what have you, are constantly recorded and will one day be judged. Chris rightly assessed that for Chris this would go badly. In fact for all of us it will go badly. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” We all fail. We are all hell bound. That is why Jesus, the triune God, stepped into human flesh and came down and paid the price for all sin that was or ever will be committed by all humans that have ever existed or ever will. He asks us simply to believe that Jesus did this, and to allow Jesus to live in our hearts so that even though we will still sin, Jesus will begin to transform us in ways that we can't do ourself to live our lives “more abundantly”, lives in fellowship with God and away from things that displease God. But even if we do fall, Jesus says that He will “never forsake us or leave us” since we are new creatures in God's eyes and our spiritual selves have been “born again”.

Christopher Hitchens is right though in assuming that God's presence would completely ruin our ability to choose right or wrong. So God hides his presence from us. You don't see God Chris because God loves you enough to hide His presence from you so that you will have the freedom to choose to be saved or choose to live in willful ignorance of God. Don't get me wrong, creation declares that there is a God and God will hold all men accountable for that knowledge (see Romans chapter 1). Those who respond to this knowledge God will draw to Himself and they will know that Jesus is their savior and become born again.

But Chris, you and I are in the same boat in a lot of ways. I'm a Christian, who believes that Jesus is the only way of Salvation (John 14:6), but yet I am in willful, knowing sin right now. After the initial guilt it got easier because there was no immediate feedback. Romans 2:4-5, 2 Peter 3:9 talk about God not being slack in his promise of judgment, but is patient with us, not willing that we should perish but that we should repent. Chris, I hope your war against God is really just your road into his loving arms, and I hope my sinful journey is just a temporal thing. If not, we both might be in serious trouble, where we wind up facing a Holy God who will hold us to account for everything wrong that we have done. Jesus save us and we ask from mercy and not judgment.

I will be praying for you Hitchens, other Christians please pray for me.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Media Manipulation By The Left

Both sides are guilty of this, but since most of the media is left leaning, they tend to put themselves on a pedistool and try to show that they have better ethics then the right.

Of course, that isn't so. And [HERE] is an example.

In fact, the left tends to by, IMHO, more corrupt and less ethical then the right.

But, neither right now meet the standard that we need to have a government that is free enough from big interest to make the hard choices that this country needs for its long term prosperity.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Another Virtual World: Something Maybe To Watch

Amoung the anounced vaporware products that claim to be the next big thing on the virtual world horizion is MetaPlace. Maybe worth keeping an eye on.

Ruby on Steel

I haven't had time to play with Ruby on Rails, which is a programming framework which is all the rage right now, and I may never get around to it as by the time I do the next rage might be here. But for those of you have heard and like Ruby, but are stuck in a windows environment, this link might be for you.

Meet Ruby on Steel, Ruby on Rails development in MS Visual Studio 2005.

Read more [HERE].

Friday, September 21, 2007

Rolemaster: Thumbs Sideways

Before I left Phoenix I walked into a Bookman's used books in Mesa and to my suprise they had the entire Rolemaster Standard Rules System available used for about 60 bucks. I used to own the first version of Rolemaster and Spacemaster, and I really liked the games (especially Space Master) so I bought the books.

Well, I finally got a chance to mess with new (but not newest) version of pen and pencil RGP Rolemaster last night. I started rolling up a character, just to mess around, and one thing dawned on me.

If you had never before played Rolemaster, let alone another role playing game, you would be absolutely lost trying to wade your way through "chart master". I knew roughly what I was doing, but as a beginner or experienced RPG'er who is new to Role Master, I would have been lost.

So, as a product review, I'm going to have to give my beloved Rolemaster a thumbs sideways. Why?

1) It is to complex in general.
2) Hard to get rolling as a beginner.
3) A lot of time needs to be spent as a GM getting a campaign setup (more then in other games).

On the plus side, Role Master is
1) More "realistic" then other RPG Fantasy games.
2) Provides a better combat system that is descriptive and more dangerous then most RPG's.

So, if you are a die hard RPG fan, pick up Role Master. If you haven't played it before, you might want to invest in AD & D or another fantasy RPG. I think it is awesome that I.C.E (the parent company of Rolemaster and Spacemaster) lives on in some capacity, and I encourage die hards to support ICE by buying their products. But the rest of you, I'd advise leaving "Rule Master" on the shelf.
1) Has

Dark Tower Online

Remember good old Dark Tower? I still lament the demise of my tower. It stopped working about 10 years ago, but I still have all the game pieces and parts so one day the tower can fixed and the glory of Dark Tower the board game can return.

Until then, you can get your Dark Tower fix by going [HERE].

Thanks Wakefield family, whoever you are!

Cold War Secret Revealed: Meet the A-12, The SR-71's Older but Smaller Brother

Pretty cool, I wasn't aware that these existed.

Read more [HERE].

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Viet Nam type B.S. in Iraq

The military has invested lots of money in small UAV's to give troops in the field better eyes on the local battlefield. Apparently, due to red tape, many of these expensive little UAV's sit on the shelves.

This is from the wired defense blog, which after thinking about things they kind of disappoint me. The preponderance of their articles are somewhat negative. This article is worth referencing because things need to be corrected, but basically the wired defense blogger guys are a bunch of leftie hacks who know a little bit about defense that are just looking for any way they can poke sarcasm at the U.S. Military. Even when they report on something good, it is usually wrapped in sarcasm. So they get a big f*ck you. But they do reference interesting things sometimes, so I'll keep reading.

Read more [HERE].

Anti Matter Powered X-Ray Laser

I remember in the 80ies hearing about the possible future development of Anti-Matter bombs as a super alternative to using nukes. Now, it looks like anti-matter is once again on the table as a power source for lasers. Pretty wild. Still in the theoretical realm...or is it?

Read more [HERE].

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Meteor Causes Sickness

I saw a few blips of this on my RSS feeds yesterday and today. A meteor his somewhere in South America, and apparently spewed forth some kind of murky substance that made a bunch of people sick. At least it wasn't a bunch of organic goo that eats people, but kinda freaky none the less.

Read about the incident [HERE].

[Update]. So what made the people sick? Who let's just call it "Mass Hysteria" or "Mass Hypnosis". Typical scientific B.S. that you hear when science doesn't understand what is going on. Read the lame explanation of the meteorite sickness [HERE].

Monday, September 17, 2007

Robert Jordan Passes On...Leaving the Wheel of Time Series Still Spinning

First off, I thought Robert Jordan wrote excellent Conan books. They were small (about 300 pages) and not meant to be taken too seriously. When I saw the Wheel of Time series begin by Jordan back in 1990 I was glad Jordan was writing his own stuff in a fantasy world of his own creation, but after seeing the thickness of the first book in the series I wisely decided to hold off. The Wheel of Time series came out right when I thought publishers were really pushing their authors to write the mega epic series novels. Nothing wrong with that, as long as the story and vision is grand enough to warrant it. I think publishers where more out to hook and gouge rather then to epically entertain. Even though I loved Jordan's Conan books, I had a feeling that no fantasy series justified 12 1200 page books to tell its story.

Well, it looks like Robert Jordan died before completing the 12th book in the series. My thoughts go out to his family, and the world looses another great author, but I'm really glad I didn't get caught up in reading those series of books... I'm sure they have their moments, but the lesson learned here, and I've seen it time and time again whether it be the author looses interest, the publisher pulls the plug, what have you, don't get bogged down in non-semi stand alone fiction series.
An author who pulls off writing fantasy novels that are all linked together but are stand alone reads is Raymond R. Feist.

Read more about Robert Jordan's passing [HERE].

Monday, September 10, 2007

Ugly Websites That Sell

I love Apparently a lot of very successful websites, like craig's list, google, and others are very successful without being "pretty". Why? Apparently many people love substance over form, functionality over flash. A good thing to remember when developing websites. People buy products and services, not necessarily web technology.

KISS...Keep It Simple Stupid.

Read more [HERE].

Linked off of Amir's blog [HERE].

Friday, September 07, 2007

Wiggler Communications: Now a Reality

As soon as I heard about quantum entanglement, I thought to myself, wow, that is the ultimate communications technology. In my sci fi roleplaying worlds there were things like "Wiggler Communications" and "Multi Band Wiggle Coms". Essentially parts of atoms that were quantum entangled could be separated by vast distances. Since manipulating one part of the atom would effect the other part instantly, regardless of the distance, I figured this would facilitate faster then light communications.

Well, it looks like the bright folks at the University of Michigan are hard at work making a quantum communicator of sorts. They have a way to go, but they are on the right path.

I both slap myself on the back for recognizing this potential as well as slap myself in the face for being to stupid to even come close to being able to attempt this myself. Both my parents are hard core scientist, I know the genes are there, but Dungeons and Dragons killed my interest in science as well as my social life growing up. Oh well. Hats off to U of Michigan, some local boys and gals doing good.

Read the slashdotted article [HERE]

More on Virtual Relationships

Apparently I have a growing fascination with what I will call "the blur", where virtual worlds collide with the real. Part of that fascination is how we will behave as human beings in these worlds. I consider human nature to be pretty dark, so I'm pretty sure all sorts of interesting psychological ramifications, few of them good, will arise as people hide their identities, cheat on their spouses, claim sin as not sin as long as it is virtual, etc... I see a growing field of study here that will touch upon multiple disciplines.

And along those lines, here is an article from wired that deals with the fact that relationships are relationships, even if they are "virtual", and those relationships affect our actions in the real world.

Click [HERE] to read the article.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Creating a Box in Photoshop

Not much going on today (at least not triggering my interest) so I'll toss out a link to a great Photoshop tutorial on how to make a product box.

Read the tutorial [HERE].

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Seal Boy Makes His Unclassified Debut

Well, not quite. I'm sure in some deep dark labs somewhere on the globe this has been worked on since the '70ies, but it is now just coming to public in the form of "chimera" human/animal hybrid embryos. Our scientist are playing Dr. Moreau in public now, at least in the U.K. anyway. Of course, it is all for our "good".

Read more [HERE].
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