Thursday, October 31, 2002

Public Service Announcement

Yes, I haven't posted much lately. I'm thinking. I've been reading Locke, Rousseau, Mill, and Marx, and all have certain points that are worth considering. I'm also considering the relationship between life and idealism and realism. I'm also trying to get ahead in my studies (for once), and so my schedule's really busy right now. There probably won't be much here for a bit (of course, whenever I say that, I usually spout off several posts in the next 24 hours, but...), but I will return before long. I think I've found that I've said most of the philosophical/religious things that I'd already worked out, and now it's time to build on those and fully develop some other ideas.

Tuesday, October 29, 2002


Have you ever noticed that the more you know you need to get ahead, the more you slack off? I need to get a bunch of stuff done now so I can go to New York City in a few weeks, but not only am I not ahead of schedule on my work, I'm actually behind.

Oh, and I'll have you know that breaking a CD isn't as easy as you might think. Civilization II: you robbed me of quite a few hours of my life and put up a noble physical defense, but I have finally conquered you, similar to my [temporary] victory over Half-Life/Counter-Strike my Freshman year when I sent the CD home with my roommate's girlfriend.

Sunday, October 27, 2002

Forehead-Slap Dept.

If you were going to have to pick a replacement candidate for the tragically-lost Paul Wellstone, don't you think that your number one pick would be this guy?

Now, let's quit imagining that we're Republicans for a moment, and pretend that we're Democrats.

Tuesday, October 22, 2002

Imbeciles and the Sniper

1. Despite people being offended by calling this killer a sniper, that's what he is. He shoots people from a concealed place. Thus, he is a sniper.
2. Are DC Metro area authorities stupid? The victims have been shot at places like gas stations and outside restaurants and stores. Do you know what happens when you cancel football games and other extracurricular activities? Kids to to gas stations, restaurants, and stores. To the best of my knowledge, the sniper hasn't fired into any crowds yet. Carry on with life as usual as much as possible. Your chances of getting shot are minimal, and living in fear is no way to live. You probably stand a better chance of dying in a car crash than getting shot by this guy, but I'll be you still drive, don't you?
3. Media: Shut up except when necessary. "News Flash: We still don't know what's going on, but we're all freaking terrified. This sniper is obviously well-trained, intelligent, and disciplined. We are in awe. There is no other news. Forget Iraq. This lone gunman scares us more than nuclear-armed terrorists." Here's what I would do if I was in charge of the media: "News Flash: Some nutcase is shooting people. However, police experts say the shots have all been sloppy and that it's only piss-poor luck that he's hitting his mark. No one has reported their crazy neighbor or relative missing, so we're assuming that this man is a friendless loser. Police also speculate that he may be suffering from sexual dysfunction, as packages of Xtra-Tinee condoms have been found several scenes. While people are generally annoyed by this disturbance, it's nothing compared to Lee Harvey Oswald, who scored headshots from a building with an old Italian rifle. This current copycat is only managing bodyshots with a nice rifle from heavy cover. Sissy."
4. Dear Sniper: I am Under-impressed.
Tres appropos, n'est-ce pas?


I hate having to disagree with a fellow Hokie, but I don't think raising taxes is the answer to the Virginia budget shortfall (in case you missed it, VT is cutting 11% of its academic budget immediately, and 15% next year, though I don't know if this is cumulative or not). This is blamed on the (nearly-completed, but stalled) phase-out of the hated car tax.
Obviously, Virginia is likely to have fewer revenues if it lowers taxes (though I suppose gains in other tax areas might off-set this). The problem isn't that we don't have enough money, but that we're spending it inefficiently and on stupid stuff. Basically, Virginia Tech is divided into several entities, such as academics, buildings/physical plant, dining services, residential services, athletics, an others. Money from one of these entitites may not be used in others. Thus, despite a budget shortfall for academics, athletics is spending many millions of dollars on upgrading Lane Stadium (the Hokie Stone facade for the alumni side alone costs a million dollars). The Marching Virginians get most of our money from the athletic department. We get free travel plus compensation to an average of a game a year (we didn't go anywhere this year, but went to Pitt and UVA last year), the same to a bowl game, all the Dasani water we can drink at games, food before games, and many other perks. My Freshman year, we had clear plastic ponchos for bad weather that cost $5 apiece. We now have maroon and orange full-length rain-jackets with the MV logo that, despite costing $70 each, have been used once in two years and aren't actually waterproof. The excuse for why this money can't be put where it needs to be is that Virginia law forbids it. The answer to this is to change the law. There's nothing in our Declaration of Rights (our equivalent to a state constitution) saying that monies for universities must be kept in separate cubbyholes. I know the athletic department, led by the football team, pays its own way. However, without Virginia Tech, they wouldn't exist. Simply leaving off the Hokie Stone from the stadium would fund twenty $50,000/year teaching positions. While I like my MV perks and having a good stellar football team as much as anyone else, that's not where the university and the Commonwealth's priority should lie.
As for raising taxes, this is a bad option. In my book, government should only have the power to raise taxes if it can show that it is both using all its available money wisely and needs more revenue in order to fund a something necessary. However, we're not in my book, so we'll go with how things are. The argument that we should raise taxes instead of tuition is saying that the rest of Virginia should help pay for your education because you don't want to. You're saying that what they want to do with their money is less important than what you want to do with it. They don't really benefit from you taking Intro to Wimmins' Studies as a free elective.
You do not have an absolute right to go to college immediately after graduating from high school (I think a good argument could be made that you shouldn't go straight to college, either). If you or someone willing to pay for you has enough to pay your expenses, then bully for you. If not, then you have to start making decisions. Can you afford community college for the first two years (your intro classes) and then transfer to a university? Do you need to take a year off to earn money to pay tuition? Can you get a student loan? Is it possible for you to graduate in three years and thus save 25% of the cost? You may have to enlist in the Army for four years and use your pay and the GI Bill to afford college. There is no inalienable right to have your Bachelor's degree by the time you're 22. You may even have to work hard for years and years like Rachel Lucas to scrape together enough money.
What this budget crunch means is that sacrifices are going to have to be made. This may mean taking a core requirement instead of Floral Design each semester in order to graduate early. It may mean delaying college by a period of time. It may mean taking on a loan or a part-time job. However, raising taxes is not the answer.
The answer is to spend what we've got better than we have been.

What's Brown and Sounds Like a Bell?

Question: What's brown and sticky?

Answer: A stick.

(via Natalie Solent (link to post not working correctly))

Sunday, October 20, 2002

Call Me Crazy...

...but I like Celtic music. I like what I hear as spontaneity, I like hearing fiddles and bagpipes, and I like hearing many harmonies at once. It reminds me of an odd meld of Baroque and Bluegrass music, and it's addicting to listen to.

Thanks, Robin

There've been things that I don't like about Robin Williams, but that doesn't mean he's a bad guy. Personally, I think he showed a lot of class for this, and I'd like to extend a "thank you" to him.

Quote of the Day

"I waited until I was married. My virginity was an honor that I was bestowing on a man - he had to be worthy of it."

-Lisa Kudrow, in an interview with People magazine


We've secretly taken the Virginia Tech special teams unit and replaced it with Folger's Crystals...let's see if they notice!

Seriously, I'd like to know where our formerly outstanding STU has been these past few games. It used to be that we expected a blocked kick every game, very short returns by our opponents, and a decent field goal percentage. We haven't blocked a kick recently, we gave up a touchdown on a return against Boston College, and we've missed quite a few field goals. The Folger's Crystals comment could also apply to our secondary. I mean, once the ball has been caught, they're outstanding. Personally, though, I'd prefer if the opposing receivers were covered more closely and they didn't get the ball in the first place. I understand that there are limits to what college players can do, but really.
However, those woes shouldn't detract us from the fact that #3-ranked Virginia Tech advanced to 7-0 after beating lowly Rutgers 35-14 at Homecoming. We dominated, and Rutgers ended up with negative rushing yardage as compared to our 300+ yards (including both Lee Suggs and Kevin Jones racking up over 100 yards apiece). Brian Randall is getting more comfortable as a passer, and his first thought when threatened doesn't seem to be to run the ball himself anymore. The defensive line and linebackers are almost literally a wall, and we could probably compare the running game of our opponents to homosexuals sentenced to death by Sharia.
In other football news, Notre Dame beat Air Force, which, while most Hokies would love for Notre Dame to lose, helps in the long run since Air Force didn't really have any other opponents that might prevent them from going undefeated. Notre Dame still has a fair amount of work ahead of them, and so things should be okay. Oregon lost to Arizona State at home, and are thus also out of the ranks of the unbeatens. The Unbeatens currently consist of Miami, Oklahoma, Virginia Tech, Ohio State, Georgia, Notre Dame, and NC State. Bowling Green, though also undefeated, faces a creampuff schedule, and thus has no shot at the national championship. Again, a breakdown:
-Miami: While it has defeated quality teams from Florida, Boston College, and FSU, it still faces Tennessee, Pitt, and Tech. They probably have the talent to win all these games, but the slightest complacency could destroy them. Furthermore, WVU has an excellent running game, while Miami's run defense this year is fairly poor. With the 'Eers playing at home, they stand a small chance at an upset.
-Oklahoma: 'Bama, Texas, and Iowa State were quality wins, but Colorado and the underestimated-Aggies both pose considerable threats. Nonetheless, an undefeated season by them wouldn't really hurt our chances, though a few losses would certainly help.
-Virginia Tech: We've beaten Marshall, LSU, Texas A&M, and Boston College so far, but Pitt's tough run defense might be a challenge to our star running backs, and Miami's always a challenge. WVU and UVA also could pull off an upset, though it's not likely. We've passed the worst of our schedule, and so long as we don't get complacent, we should have a good shot at Tempe.
-Ohio State: Washington State and Wisconsin were tough, but I wouldn't want to face Penn State or Michigan if I were a Buckeye. Being the host for those games helps, but I'd personally be surprised if they can survive both onslaughts.
-Georgia: 'Bama and Tennessee we both big (if awfully close) victories, but Ole Miss and Florida will be tough to beat back-to-back. Kentucky, Auburn, and Georgia Tech are also sleepers, and Jawjah is going to have to keep it's head to win all five.
-Notre Dame: Yes, we know. They've beaten Maryland, Michigan, Pitt, and Air Force. Knute Rockne, Rudy, etc. Blah blah blah. Travelling down to FSU will probably not result in an unbeaten squad of Fighting Irish (Drunken Irish, quite possibly), and USC seems ready to do its part when it hosts ND as well. Boston College, while travelling to South Bend, is also a Catholic school, and thus we may see a veritable Reformation if all goes according to plan as Hokies hope it might.
-NC State: Yes, UNC was probably a quality win, but I think only beating Duke by two points probably negates it. I'd like to see them explain their undefeated status when the play Clemson, Georgia Tech, Maryland, UVA, amd FSU (mostly on the road, too).
Fiesta Bowl Prediction: Big East #1 vs. Oklahoma
Fiesta Bowl Pipe Dream: #1 Virginia Tech vs. #2 Miami

Wednesday, October 16, 2002

Status Report

I got my first paycheck today! With the money I already had, I've currently got 15% of the money I'll need to before heading to England for next summer. I also discovered that far less is taken out for taxes than I thought, and so I would be able to reach my target amount (barely) by simply working at my current rate, which takes away a lot of the pressure. I still intend to work as much as possible over Christmas anyway, and possibly even Thanksgiving. Every cent I earn now is 2/3 of a pence I don't have to earn while I'm there. Besides, it would be nice to come away from this summer with at least a small balance in Ye Olde Savings Account. I'm feeling confident that I can actually swing this, which, quite simply, is awesome.

Yes, I'm Sure

I think the concept of usury is misunderstood, especially in regards to bank interest and the stock market. It seems straightforward enough from one angle: you lend money to someone, and they pay the amount you gave back plus a little more for your inconvenience. However, there are flaws in that logic. Money is a measurement of value. Five dollars now isn't the same as it was in 1800, nor is it likely to be the same as it will be in 2525. Currently, $5 is roughly equal to four gallons of gas.
When people speak of usury, they're condemning two evils. The first is not loving your neighbor, since you're requiring something in return for helping him. The second is taking something that you haven't earned. In modern dictionaries, usury is usually defined not simply as "interest," but as "exorbitant interest," and this seems to be nearer the original intent. It's implied when you make a loan that you want the same amount back. A small interest rate should be enough to keep up with inflation, and though a perfect accounting is impossible to predict, the spirit is right. With stocks, you're buying part of a company. When you bought it, it was worth one amount, and when you sell it, it's worth another, but that's okay, since you didn't make a loan. You're under no obligation to ever sell your shares. With your aid, the company has either increased or decreased in value, and whatever the market value for your shares is when you decide to sell is what they're worth. It would only be wrong if you bought stocks at a certain price and then sold them for higher to someone else by preventing them from using the market value.

Of course, it's late and I've never taken a course in economics, so feel free to tear this to shreds where it deserves it.

Tuesday, October 15, 2002

To Paraphrase from Orwell...

I've noticed that a significant number of atheists out there are of the embittered kind, the sort who don't so much disbelieve in God as personally dislike Him. Of course, this isn't really atheism, since while it professes to disbelieve in God, it secretly acknowledges Him. I know that this is the way these embittered atheists think, because it's the way I thought when I was one. Life appears to suck, and there was nothing I could do about it. If God had made the world in such a way that I, Robert Bauer, was forced to suffer hardship, then He obviously wasn't someone worth my time. Oh, I knew He existed, such as when I railed against him personally in thoughts and even my (ironic) prayers. "If you love me, why do you make me suffer? You're not my friend; since I can't do anything physically to you, I'm going to deny your existence, just out of spite. That'll show you!" I would sometimes imagine God as different forms suitable to my will, such as at one point when I decided that God must be like the Supreme Court and be a tribunal of many gods. They could sometimes make mistakes, and that's why I suffered. Of course, they weren't worth worshipping, since they were obviously no better than I was, but merely obeying. I moved on, settling for a while on trying to prove God didn't exist by blaspheming and saying that since I wasn't struck down, God obviously didn't exist, since He didn't even have the power to stop a kid from telling what would be lies. After that, I moved into a sort of detente, where I didn't think about God at all. I decided that I would just do my best with what I'd been taught, and that a just God couldn't possibly condemn me for doing my best.
However, I was troubled and I was unhappy. I was troubled because I knew something was missing, and I was unhappy because I didn't have a refuge when the world got to me. Noticing that my Christian friends seemed to be more content than other people, I wondered if perhaps the something I was missing was the refuge I needed. I'd been baptized Episcopalian and the services I'd gone to were all at Episcopal churches, so I figured I'd use that as my home base while examining all the religions I could find and seeing which one seemed the best to me. I made the possible mistake of mentioning this to one of my Mormon friends, and before I knew it, I had missionaries at my door. Being naive, I talked to them and even went to some services at their church, though I fastidiously refused to take Communion. This was, firstly, because I wasn't actually a Mormon, and secondly, because there seemed to me something odd about taking bread crusts and water as Communion. I suppose this was more of an aspect of being from an Episcopalian background, but it still seemed wrong. I read some of the Book of Mormon, which was more-or-less innocuous enough, though the account of its discovery didn't seem all that plausible to me. I also went to Sunday school, which also was fairly normal, and may have even passed muster with Christian denominations. However, I also began looking into the actual doctrines myself, and noticed that there was some funky stuff going on. According to the Mormons, among other things, all men could become Gods and God (YHWH) had a wife and a body. This didn't square with what I knew to be in the Bible at all. I also noticed that the leaders seemed a me. I'm not sure if they were devious or merely complacent/brainwashed, but the combination of things appalled me, and I resolved to give up on the Mormons. They're good people and tend to be very moral, but their basis is wrong, and thus I don't believe they're on the right track. I also don't think of them as Christians, though they're about as close as you can get without actually being classified as such.
After that freakout, I decided to go to Episcopal services and learn about Protestantism, since the parts I already was familiar with there were acceptable to me theologically. Being an Episcopalian, though, I had a bit of leeway in what I could believe. Looking at the Bible, I decided that Jesus was a great teacher and moralist, but that I didn't buy the whole Son of God thing, except in perhaps the same way that each of us is a son of God (I'm still a little weak on my understanding of Jesus, but not as much as I was then). I found out that this was called Arianism, and revelled in the fact that I was a Christian outside the Catholic-derived mainstream. Around this time, I started reading C.S. Lewis' Mere Christianity, but put it on hiatus when I got to the part about Jesus being God's Son. I read up on the differences between Protestantism and Catholicism, between the various Protestant denominations, and decided that the differences between Protestants were pretty minor, and that even the differences between Protestants and Catholics weren't that bad, except for that wretched popery and Mariolatry. I was, though I didn't know it, firmly in the Evangelical camp at that point, and judged Christian doctrines explicitly on whether or not they were based on what the Bible seemed to say.
This conversion (or maybe just de-lapsing) started during 11th grade, and we're now near the end of 12th grade. I continued going to the local Episcopal church and to Fellowship of Christian Athletes meetings until graduation. I was starting to be a little uneasy, however, given that ECUSA (Episcopal Church, USA, which is the American branch of the Anglican Communion, which is all those churches in communion with Canterbury) seemed to be a little iffy in its biblical interpretation and willingness to be governed by the wishes of parishioners and not the Bible, and that furthermore I didn't think that priests were needed, since Christ was supposed to be our High Priest. When I got to Virginia Tech, I was horrified to discover that the local Episcopal church had a female priest, and consequently never attended services there. There was an Anglican Catholic church in town, though, and it turns out that they were part of a schism from ECUSA. I did go to services there, and while they seemed theologically sound, I didn't like them socially. Firstly, of the few parishioners, none were younger than 40, and most were much older. Also, the priest did things like insult the Baptists by name during his sermon, and that doesn't fly with me. I considered going to New Life Campus Fellowship and went to a Campus Crusade for Christ service, but I'd been raised in the old style, and contemporary services shocked me. From what I heard, though I confess I wasn't in a very sympathetic mood, it seemed as though they emphasized the gifts of being a Christian and didn't speak enough about the responsibilities.
Thus, it was time to go the low-church route and check out the Methodists. Services were nice, but I finally decided that the Anglican theological view (as opposed to ECUSA's practices) was more correct. I also decided that while the Methodist liturgy was accurate, it wasn't very beautiful, and didn't seem solemn enough for me (I also got sick of hearing grape juice, as directly opposed to wine, being constantly called "the unfermented juice of the grape"). However, I didn't have a car, and thus Anglican services weren't within my range. I had gotten a Christian ska CD, and, liking it, finally decided to break down and go and at least see what NLCF had to say. I dressed up, as I was accustomed to, having been raised Episcopalian and all, and sat near the exit so I could retreat if things started getting too weird for me. I'll admit that I disapproved of people coming to church in t-shirts, but stayed for the entire service. I was sort-of lost for a lot of the time, but I made it though, and found that I actually liked it. The people seemed sincere but not brainwashed, and while I didn't like the idea of their not dressing up for services, I decided that this wasn't a major problem, and that so long as they were glorifying God, everything was okay.
Over the summer, I went to England, and availed myself of the opportunity to go to services in Anglican churches and especially in cathedrals. On one hand, through the liturgy and solemnity, I felt like I was finding that peaceful refuge I'd been seeking, though I didn't really like the lack of evangelism and the liberal attitudes of many of the clergy. When I returned to America, I remembered hearing about Anglican Mission in America, which was a mission from Evangelical provinces to provide an Anglican alternative to ECUSA. I liked, and still like, NLCF, but it lacks the solemnity and dignity that a staid (yeah, I know, it doesn't seem like it if you know me) person like me needs. I think of it as being more like a pep rally, which is good for many things but does leave a few things out. Looking online, I found that there was an AMiA parish in nearby Roanoke, and attended services at Church of the Holy Spirit a few weeks ago. To my delight, the services were contemporary and friendly. I was a few minutes late, and when I asked one of the ushers what I could do to minimize my disturbing the singing of those already inside, I was told "oh honey, you couldn't disturb those people!" which was exactly the kind of response I needed. Contemporary songs, instead of the (bad) traditional hymns were used, and the priest felt free to make jokes during his sermon while still keeping it serious. I noticed that there were kneeling benches (a personal favorite of mine), and that there was the due solemnity and dignity during Communion. People were sincere, the music was good, and I'd found that refuge I'd been looking for. It also helped that instead of having the glad-handing during the middle of the service, which is awkward, they simply ended by asking us to greet those around us, which would've given me a quick exit if I'd wanted it. I stayed for a few minutes, and the people I talked to were enthusiastic without seeming forced or creepy.
I think I've found (or at least know where to find) my beliefs. I can't deny that God exists. I've always secretly known, and now that I look back, I see that all the things I suffered in the past have made me a stronger person now. I also find that I'm an Anglican, as opposed to a Protestant or Catholic, in thought. I think that baptism and communion are necessary sacraments, though I feel that the rest of the Catholic sacraments are merely useful, and not actually required. I also prefer the liturgy, though I disagree with the doctrines of papal infallibility or the praying for the intercession of saints. I also don't think that priests have any more authority than anyone else. It seems to me that if the Pope, an Orthodox Patriarch, Billy Graham, my parish priest, and I all blessed some bread and wine with equal sincerity, all that bread and wine would be equally blessed and suitable for Communion. However, while I agree with the Protestant tenet that it is faith and not works that get you into heaven, I add the caveat that the one work of actually having faith is necessary first. I'm not a Calvinist, and don't believe that some of us are predetermined to go to heaven, though I do think that different people face different challenges and will be judged based on how well they do in regards to those challenges, and not in who does the most good work.
To be fair, I've also looked at Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, and Hinduism. When looking at Judaism, I just can't help but see that Christ is the promised Messiah that the Jews were waiting for, and that Christianity is therefore the logical continuation of Judaism. I put Islam in the same camp as Mormonism. Neither the Koran nor the Book of Mormon convince me that they are the authentic Word of God. To be sure, they have some good ideas, but those alone do not make a book divinely inspired. Buddhism is actually very similar to Christianity, but its tragic flaw is that it denies a God separate from us. Every fiber of my being tells me that this isn't the case, and that just from looking at the world, the Bible's view is correct. Close, but no cigar. Hinduism is nice, but I don't see any evidence for actual reincarnation. Furthermore, karma would seem to imply that everything happens because it was preordained to do so, and that therefore we can do nothing to get to heaven or avoid hell. I just don't buy that.
I'm sure that I've offended and/or bored anyone who's made it this far, but it does feel good to finally say all this.

Quote of the Day

"[They] wanted to know why I never write about foreign policy. Write about it? I don't even read about it unless it concerns England, in which case it's not foreign."

-Florence King

A Public Service Announcement

As you may know, but probably don't care, there's a section in my blogroll for those who don't fit neatly into other stereotypes. My old policy was to occasionally rip off a term from other people's blogrolls (most recently "Any Given Sunday" from Ben Domenech) and use that. However, I think the most apt description would be from something that occurred at band camp this year. As such, the un-named shall henceforth be known as "Team Pants."

Save the Adjectives!

You know, I get really indignant when people try and mess with the meanings of words. It's hard enough for people to get a really good vocabulary without people making up their own definitions. It was pointed out by Bill Bryson in his book Mother Tongue that "gentleman" originally had a specific meaning, something along the lines of "minor nobleman." However, it was changed to mean something that we already had a word for, which was "men." Thus, a useful word was lost for the sake of gaining a synonym. What set me off on this was something I read recently where an someone said that he considered himself to be an atheist, but refused to accept the definition of the dictionary and went on to define it himself. It was a decent explanation, but the fact remains that what he described isn't what either the dictionary or common usage defines as an atheist.
I hold several similar views on homosexuality. I'm opposed to gay marriage on moral grounds, but I understand that the government has the right to recognize a union among gay people if it feels so inclined (and, theoretically, any incorporation of private citizens into a body for legal purposes), so long as it continues to do so in cases of marriages. What I will not support, ever, is calling homosexual unions "marriage." Marriage is defined as being between a man and a woman. You cannot have a same-sex marriage any more than you can have an atheist Christian or an XX-chromosome male. If you'd like to make a phrase out of existing words ("civil union") or invent a word out of whole cloth (so long as it's not something like "maridge"), then feel free. However, stop messing with the language. While I don't think people should make fun of homosexuals (well, at least no more harshly than they would any other group), I do think that the backlash against using "gay" to mean "stupid or worthless" is hypocritical. "Gay" didn't originally have a meaning anywhere near "homosexual" until homosexuals annexed it. If another group wants to annex the word to mean something of their choice, whether it be "stupid" or "blue," then saying that they're stealing the word isn't the most convincing argument.
Now, this doesn't apply to science taking a normal word and giving it a nuanced meaning within a specific field. The word still means pretty much the same thing, though with a specific emphasis. What I'm opposed to is creating meanings out of whole cloth simply to take advantage of the esteem in which a word is currently held.

Sunday, October 13, 2002

Just a Thought

Pretend you're a soldier in the army of Blue. Red has just defeated your country, and all that's left is to imprison your leader and to mop up all remaining pockets of Blue resistance. Leaflets have been dropped, saying that those who surrender unconditionally will be saved, while those who resist will be destroyed. There is debate over whether the leaflets are genuine or not, but you've heard rumors that those who did as the leaflets said and surrendered were given amnesty, though Red did insist that they be re-educated before being released. Would you surrender, or would you fight to the death?

I know that this would be a tough decision for me. Emotionally, I tend to romanticize the idea of gotterdammerung, the "final battle" where one side knows that they're all going to be killed and can't hope to defeat or even deflect their opponent, yet still fights to the death. On the other hand, I tend to favor practicality over aesthetics, so long as there is an appreciable difference. What would you do?

(Oh, and if you're a gamer, feel free to visualize the gameboard for Blitzkreig or Tactics II in the above scenario.)

Quote of the Day

"[T]he beginning of righteousness is the fear of the Lord."

-St. Sergius of Radonezh

With Sympathy

Tim Blair's been covering the recent bombing in Bali, where hundreds of Australians were killed or wounded. I pray for them, and I hope that as many could be saved have been, and how many can be will. Australia has been a good friend since before anyone can remember, and I hope we can be as good to them in response.

Holy Boy Redux

You'll be pleased to know that in addition to Carolina, there's another chick who thinks that I'm a jerk.

HokiePundit: Enlightening the world one person at a time since 1982.


Imagine you're walking across a frozen lake. You've seen people walking on it for days now, and some of them must, being Americans, weigh at least 100 pounds more than you do. Thus, you confidently walk out onto the ice, carrying your backpack. Suddenly, both straps break and the backpack crashes through the ice, revealing it to be only about an inch thick. It's only then that you truly realize your situation.

Just a warning: I'm fasting today, so don't be alarmed if some extremely weird posts appear later today. I find that when I have something I really need to think about, fasting from food or sleep (the fasting from sleeping isn't usually voluntary, but I take advantage of it when it happens) helps clear my mind. It occurs to me that this relates to the Biblical injunction against gluttony. When you're not suffering any privations, you're not usually thankful for what you've got. This is why, in good times, religions have trouble recruiting. It's only when something's gone that you notice how precarious is your hold on what you do have that you really appreciate it. After a good night's rest tonight and a hearty breakfast tomorrow, we'll see if my mind has been able to sort things out.

Tricks o' the Trade

You know, I'm reminded that anyone who publishes their AOL address on their blog can be IMed based off of that information.

The possibilities are endless, though I suspect that I personally would be appalled to do so unless there was an emergency.

You, gentle reader, may be under no such compunction.

Friday, October 11, 2002

A Breakthrough!

Okay, I think I've learned all the Latin I really will ever need. Now that we've gotten to Chapter 8 in my Elementary Latin 1 class, I can say the following:

"Gere, filius stultus meus."

What else could I possibly need?

Wednesday, October 09, 2002


Okay, I'm confused. I occasionally get hits from Xavier+, at I know it's a Christian blog, and is listed at Blogs4God and on Yahoo!. However, whenever I try to access that site, I get an error message. Am I just inept, or is there something tricky going on here?

Tuesday, October 08, 2002

En Fuego

Joshua Claybourn is on a two-day streak of great lists, with today's Rules for Politically Active Christians.

Oh, and I didn't mean to imply that Joshua was merely quoting someone else in his last post that I mentioned. I should've been more clear.

Separation of Church and State?

As I've noted before, I don't believe that there is any "separation of Church and State" clause implied in the Constitution. However, for the sake of argument, let's pretend that there is. To see what this would mean, let's define the terms:

State: a political establishment
Church: a religious establishment

Thus, Virginia and the United States are States, and the Roman Catholic Church and the Episcopal Church are Churches. The first arises from political will, and the second from religious will. To separate Church and State is to say that there cannot be an Episcopal Church Party candidate for Senate and that a speed limit of 55mph is not essential doctrine for the United Church of Christ. However, there is nothing saying that religion and society may not mix with each other. Furthermore, there is nothing saying that religion may not influence that State or that society may not influence the Church. If a person wants to make it part of their religious beliefs that jaywalking is a sin because it is forbidden by their State, there's nothing wrong with that. Likewise, if a person decides that abortion is wrong because their Church says so, this is also acceptable. Since I'm about to stray into very controversial territory, I'll start a new paragraph (I'll start out less controversially and work my way up).
Society may influence the Church. In the 19th Century, it was due to the pressure of the members' political beliefs that many Churches decided that slavery was immoral. It became a matter of Church doctrine, and so far as I know, there was no outcry against this, except in the American South, where society did not subscribe to this belief. Likewise, religion may influence the State. If the majority votes that the Lord's Prayer should be said instead of or after the Pledge of Allegiance, this does not violate Church and State. It is religion in the State, but so long as we're not pledging to "obey the Doctrines of the Presbyterian Church," the Church isn't involved. Thus, statements on State items such as "In God We Trust" are perfectly legal.
It is the will of the majority which must be followed in any Lockean society, of which we are one. However, the rights of the minority must not be infringed. Implied in the rights of life, liberty, and property is a right to be tolerated. However, this is not a right to make policy, but merely to not have this policy enforced upon them at the expense of their rights. Just as there is no requirement to say the Pledge of Allegiance (which I don't, since I think it's socialist claptrap and I'm a little offended that I'm expected to have to actually say that I owe my allegiance to my country when it should be understood), there could be no requirement to say the Lord's Prayer in school, though time could be set aside to do so and the disruption of such time could legally be punishable.
"Wait," you say, "my taxes go to fund schools, so my property rights are being violated by this prayer business!" And you'd be wrong. You owe taxes to The Man, aka the government to which you're, tacitly or explicitly, bound. Once you've paid those taxes, the money is no longer yours individually, but that of society's as a whole, and subject to the will of the majority. If the majority decides that tax revenue should be spent to lengthen the school day by a minute in order to accomodate this prayer in school, then there should be no problem so long as no one is actually forced to say the official or any prayer.

Can you tell that I had my Political Theory test on Locke and Rousseau today?

Monday, October 07, 2002

Contradictions, Shmontradictions!

Joshua Claybourn (famously of Joshua Claybourn's Domain) has a list of contradictions he's found, mostly dealing with politics. My favorites:

It's vital to have a protective shield around abortion clinics, but not vital to have one around the country to protect us from nuclear weapons.

Teaching a child to use a condom is promoting safety, not usage. However the same logic doesn't apply to guns.

Killing animal eggs is wrong. However, killing human eggs and fetuses is a moral right.

College Football Predictin'

Mark Byron attempts to predict the BCS bowls. However, he omits one detail:

The bowl bids are announced before the Miami-Virginia Tech game.

"Oh no," you say, "Virginia Tech can't possibly vie for the national championship at the Fiesta Bowl if they haven't beaten Miami by the time of the announcement!"

However, you could be wrong. According to ESPN, Miami and Virginia Tech would get the bids if the BCS were to be announced today. Miami is currently #1 in the ESPN and AP polls, while Virginia Tech is #4 in each. However, the #2 and #3 teams in both polls (one in each), Texas and Oklahoma, play each other this week, and thus one will drop out of the top three, with the probable result that the victor will be solidly #2 in each poll and the Hokies will be #3 in each. Provided that both Miami and Virginia Tech continue to win handily, I see no reason why either should drop in the current BCS predictions. If Texas should triumph over Oklahoma, they still have to face the ranked teams from Kansas State and Iowa State in the following two weeks. Should Oklahoma beat Texas, they still need to face Iowa State and Texas A&M, though they'll be spared Kansas State. Meanwhile, Miami's only ranked opponents left before the final game are Florida State and Tennessee. Both are capable, but not up to Miami's level this year. Virginia Tech, having already polished off then-ranked teams from LSU, Marshall, and Texas A&M in consecutive weeks, has only a road game against barely-unranked Boston College and a home game against always-unpredictable Pittsburgh before their showdown with Miami.

Yes, you say, but what about Ohio State, Notre Dame, Georgia, and Oregon?
While Ohio State has beaten the ranked Washington State, they still have to face ranked teams from Michigan, Penn State, and Wisconsin. Sorry Kevin, but I don't see the Buckeyes in the Big Show this year.
Ah, Notre Dame, formerly on the waiting list for the ESPN Bottom 10. They still have big games against Air Force, Florida State, and USC, but none are high enough in the Top 25 for them to jump over Tech. When FSU was in the top five, it was hoped that an ND victory could put them in the Fiesta Bowl. However, barring a stumble from Miami or VT, I can't see them getting there.
Georgia has played well, but they still have games against ranked teams from Tennessee, Florida, and Auburn, and only just squeaked by Alabama last week.
Likewise, Oregon still needs to play USC, UCLA, Washington, and Washington State.

In short, Virginia Tech has the easiest remaining schedule of the true contenders, and Miami's strong enough to steamroller their remaining opponents. The only way for anyone else to prevent the Big East Bowl for the national championship is for one of them to lose prior to their season-closer. It's ours to lose.


Go read Tim Blair now.

And That's Why

Heretical Ideas explains why it's not okay for tin-pot dictators of larger countries to bully smaller ones. Check it out.

A Lesson

If there's one thing I've learned in my twenty years of life, besides the chemical formula for glucose, it's that if you want something, you need to keep trying to get it even after your initial attempt fails. You need to try three or four times. If those fail, you have to try again. If it really is important to you, then there are only three ways you could stop trying to obtain it.
1. You actually get it.
2. It becomes literally impossible to obtain it, no matter what you do.
3. You die.

Never become discouraged when your first try fails miserably/spectacularly. Look over what you did wrong and see if you can find an obvious mistake (they're closed for the day, you didn't budget enough time, her dog just died, you didn't do enough research). If you find one, fix it and try again. If you didn't find one, try again anyway. You might get lucky or at least be able to see where the problem lies.

A while ago, there was a girl I really wanted to ask out. First, I asked her if she was going to the office party of the place where we worked. She had a conflict. The next week, I asked if she was going to that week's after-work get-together. She also had a conflict. I then asked her if she wanted to go see the movie some of my co-workers and I were planning on seeing. Once again, a conflict (she only worked at this place one day per week, and had a regular job the other days, which is where the conflict came from). Then I asked her if she wanted to see that movie on Sunday when she didn't have work. She said she would, but that Sunday turned out to be a gorgeous day, and so she didn't want to be inside, but went to the park with two of her friends. However, she invited me to come along. I'm very shy around people I don't know (her friends), but I figured that I had nothing to lose by simply going. I had a good time, and I think she got to know me in a non-work, not-alone environment and thus saw that I wasn't a raging psychopath (I'm good at hiding that). However, I wasn't sure if she was just being polite. Finally, I asked her once again if she wanted to see the movie with me (and I knew she wanted to see the movie), and added that this was the last time I'd bug her. Happily, she said that she'd love to, that the time was fine, and that I most certainly was not bugging her at all. We went out several times, and while we didn't go past being simple friends (I was taking a plane 3000 miles in about two weeks, so that would've been pretty irresponsible), we had a good time and still correspond. There were a lot of times where I just got frustrated. Being very happy can turn very rapidly into being awfully depressed, and vice versa. However, I kept my head (after requisite periods of angst), and my persistence paid off.

If you're a Christian, remember that the rain falls on both the righteous and the wicked. No matter how deserving or undeserving of something in the world you may be, you may or may not get it by a sheer stroke of fortune. All sorts of things may happen to try to keep you from your goal, but only death or the destruction of what you want can ultimately stop you.

Song Lyrics of the Day

"And holiness, holiness is what I long for
And holiness is what I need
And holiness, holiness is what you want from me

And brokenness, brokenness is what I long for
And brokenness is what I need
And brokenness, brokenness is what you want from me

So take my heart and form it
Take my mind, transform it
Take my will and conform it
To yours, to yours, oh Lord

And faithfulness, faithfulness is what I long for
And faithfulness is what I need
And faithfulness, faithfulness is what you want from me

So take my heart and form it
Take my mind, transform it
Take my will and conform it
To yours, to yours, oh Lord"

-Scott Underwood (covered by the O.C. Supertones), Take My Life (Holiness)

Quote of the Day

"Christianity is a completely spiritual religion, concerned exclusively with things heavenly. The homeland of the Christian is not of this world. He does his duty, it is true, but he does it with a profound indifference toward the success or failure of his efforts. So long as he has nothing to reproach himself for, it matters little to him whether anything is going well or poorly down here. If the state is flourishing, he hardly dares to enjoy the public felicity, for fear of becoming puffed up with his country's glory. If the state is in decline, he blesses the hand of God that weights heavily on his people.
Christianity preaches only servitude and dependence. Its spirit is too favorable to tyranny for tyranny not to take advantage of it at all times. True Christians are made to be slaves. They know it and are hardly moved by this. This brief life has too little value in their eyes."

-Jean-Jacques Rousseau, On the Social Contract

Sunday, October 06, 2002


Apparently, I can type 68 words per minute, which stunned me (all this blogging and Instant Messaging hasn't been for nothing!). The last time I took a typing test, back in seventh grade, I had about 40 words per minute, and that was the number I'd been giving out whenever I was asked, which was constantly; random people would come up and demand how many wpm I could type, and it got so bad that I had to buy a katana and flay several of them alive rarely happened. Still, I'm looking for jobs while I'm in Britain, and the ones that actually pay money are mostly temp jobs for things like audio notetaking, and want 50+ wpm. I had thought that I'd need to work to increase my speed, but it seems that slacking off has improved my job skills. Come to think of it, wouldn't that make a great "learn at home" course?

Thursday, October 03, 2002


You know, if Bigwig's right, then two can play this Rope-a-Dope game. Hopefully he's wrong, but I don't know at all.

Wednesday, October 02, 2002

First Test of the Week

You are Fozzie!
Wokka Wokka! You love to make lame jokes. Your sense of humor might be a bit off, but you're a great friend and can always be counted on.

To recap:
Philosopher: St. Thomas Aquinas
Colossal Death Robot: Optimus Prime
Monty Pyton Character: Sir Galahad the Pure
Past Life: Nun
50's Stereotype: Square
Keirsey Personality Type: INFP Idealist Healer


Okay, this is just a test for a new template. I've still got the one we all know and love saved on my computer, but I'd like to see if this one works better (I'm not very techno-savvy).

Pictures, links, and comments have all been added (again, thanks to Patrick Carver for the advice). However, I'm now working on figuring out how to resize my comments and put them next to the post's permalink. If you're visiting and the page looks like a Picasso masterpiece, I probably messed up and am working on figuring it out (alternatively, I could just be messing with you; I'm like that).

Technical Problems: Yep, We've Got That

Okay, two problems:
1. Despite pressing "Republish All," my archive links have all disappeared. I can still access them from the edit window, but I'm concerned that these aren't appearing.
2. According to my Comments box, I need to update my YACCS code. However, when I go to the site, it tells me to delete my current code, go to the Control Panel on Blogger, and automatically have it inserted. Being a liberal arts major, I can't find any such thing as a Control Panel. I've also noticed that Blogger is no longer accepting users. Perhaps they're trying to trick me into un-using their service?

UPDATE: Despite some kind help from Patrick Carver, you can see that Our Hero is still somewhere in-between Canaan and Egypt on this whole Comments thing. Patience is a virtue.

Attention All Planets of the Solar Federation...

Expect posts on Christian themes in secular music, deadly sins, an ethical problem proposed by Peter Singer (really), and such after I finish my Political Science paper later today.

You may now resume your regularly-scheduled procrastination.

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