Surly Curmudgeon

   The human race divides politically into those who want people to be controlled and those who have no such desire. The former are idealists acting from highest motives for the greatest good of the greatest number. The latter are surly curmudgeons, suspicious and lacking in altruism. But they are more comfortable neighbors than the other sort.
-- Robert A. Heinlein
  • Somewhere in the crusty outer layer of small towns surrounding the warm creamy center that is Oklahoma City.
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    Friday, December 17, 2004

    Finally, something new in architecture

    This is just cool:

    An unusual apartment building was inaugurated in Brazil, each of whose 11 storeys turns independently, giving lucky residents 360-degree views of the eco-friendly city of Curitiba.


    The owner may also change the direction and speed of the revolutions. At low speed, each floor takes an hour to revolve.

    Posted by Tom, 12/17/2004 7:15:00 AM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Monday, December 13, 2004

    Lord Have Mercy

    Jesus, I've forgotten the words that You have spoken
    Promises that burned within my heart have now grown dim
    With a doubting heart I follow the paths of earthly wisdom
    Forgive me for my unbelief
    Renew the fire again

    Lord have mercy
    Christ have mercy
    Lord have mercy on me

    I have built an altar where I worship things of God
    I have taken journeys that have drawn me far from You
    Now I am returning to Your mercies ever flowing
    Pardon my transgressions
    Help me love You again

    I have longed to know You & Your tender mercies
    Like a river of forgiveness ever flowing without end
    I bow my heart before You in the goodness of Your presence
    Your grace forever shining
    Like a beacon in the night

    -- Michael W. Smith

    Posted by Tom, 12/13/2004 7:12:00 AM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Friday, December 10, 2004

    From Rachel Remen

    I've been reading My Grandfather's Blessings, and just had to share the following, which is apparently a prayer offered at the beginning of the Sabbath in Jewish tradition:

    Days pass and the years vanish and we walk sightless among miracles. Lord fill our eyes with seeing and our minds with knowing. Let there be moments when Your Presence, like lightning, illumines the darkness in which we walk. Help us to see, wherever we gaze, that the bush burns unconsumed. And we, clay touched by God, will reach out for holiness and exclaim in wonder, "How filled with awe is this place and we did not know it!"


    Posted by Tom, 12/10/2004 5:30:00 PM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Hard Lessons

    This one has been giving me trouble for quite a while...

    So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God.

    James 1:19-20

    Posted by Tom, 12/10/2004 7:26:00 AM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Thursday, December 9, 2004

    Jackbooted thugs

    Here we are in the land of the free and the home of the brave, where modern government employees verge on the ancient rule of prima nocturne (go watch Braveheart if you don't know). Story number one, from ABC, can be found here and here:

    TSA Employee: "I couldn't imagine my sister or my mother going through that process. I was so upset."

    TSA Employee: "The look on their face would almost give you the sense that they felt like they were in a sense being raped. In a sense, being victimized and to a certain extent, they were. "

    TSA Employee: "That really incensed me that someone felt that they could just put on some gloves and they could just violate someone to that degree."

    TSA Employee: "They actually had the passenger remove the clothing that covered the sensitive area and perform a duck walk to see if something would fall out."

    Lucky for us, Rep. Ron Paul is on top of it. Unlucky for us, most of the country are mindless sheep who can't see anything wrong with this sort of behavior.

    If you traveled by air last week for the Thanksgiving holiday, you undoubtedly witnessed Transportation Security Administration agents conducting aggressive searches of some passengers. A new TSA policy begun in September calls for invasive and humiliating searches of random passengers; in some instances crude pat-downs have taken place in full public view. Some female travelers quite understandably have burst into tears upon being groped, and one can only imagine the lawsuits if TSA were a private company. But TSA is not private, TSA is a federal agency-- and therefore totally unaccountable to the American people.


    Problems within TSA are legion. In the rush to hire a new workforce, 28,000 screeners were put to work without background checks. Some of them were convicted felons. Many were very young, uneducated, with little job experience. At Kennedy and LaGuardia airports in New York, police arrested dozens of TSA employees who were simply stealing valuables from the luggage they were assigned to inspect. Of course TSA has banned locks on checked luggage, leaving passengers with checked bags totally at the mercy of screeners working behind closed doors. None of this is surprising for a government agency of any size, but we must understand the reality of TSA: its employees have no special training, wisdom, intelligence, or experience whatsoever that qualifies them to have any authority over you. They certainly have no better idea than you do how to prevent terrorism. TSA is about new bureaucratic turf and lucrative union makework, not terrorism.

    I feel safer, how about you?

    Posted by Tom, 12/9/2004 7:30:00 AM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Monday, December 6, 2004

    Live in Concert

    Went to the Third Day/tobymac concert last night. All I can say is "wow". I've seen Billy Joel. I've seen Rush. I've even seen Metallica.

    But I have never seen a band with as much pure energy as these two had. They were downright thrilled to be there, and got the audience excited as well. Mac Powell was dancing all over the stage like he was having the time of his life, and tobymac was running around like a hyperactive 5-year-old. I got exhausted just watching them, but in a good way. I can't wait for them to come back.

    Two really cool moments from the show: First, a group of fans front and center had a sign that said "All we want for Christmas is to sing with Mac [Powell]". So Mac invited them up on stage to sing the second verse of "Come Together". Second, a fan wanted to get a picture of Mac with his digital camera, but instead of posing, Mac took the camera from the guy and went around taking close-up shots of each of the band members before giving it back. This sort of connection with the fans is something I've never seen in secular music. Well, OK, that's not quite true -- I keep forgetting that Courtney Cox was a nobody when Bruce Springsteen got her up on stage to dance with him. But that was a long time ago, and my more recent memory is of Metallica's security guards looking like they thought they were guarding the President or something.

    Posted by Tom, 12/6/2004 7:22:00 AM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Nice shootin', pardner

    [Marine] Sniper stops insurgents from 950 yards

    Col. Cooper would be proud.

    Posted by Tom, 12/6/2004 6:58:00 AM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Chocolate, Drugs, and Porn

    Reason does an interesting (but short) editorial on addiction:

    Everyday Acts of Resistance

    By focusing on brain scans and analogies to drugs widely (though wrongly) believed to be irresistible, activists like Banzhaf obscure the possibility of self-control. As the psychiatrist Sally Satel observed at a 2003 conference on obesity, "virtually every pleasure we encounter is associated with surges in dopamine," and brain images "cannot distinguish between an irresistible impulse and an impulse that is not resisted."

    Yet anti-vice crusaders continue to cite such research as evidence that people cannot reasonably be expected to control themselves, and the tendency is not limited to activists on the left. At a recent hearing convened by Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.), Judith Reisman of the California Protective Parents Association testified that "pornography triggers myriad kinds of internal, natural drugs that mimic the 'high' from a street drug. Addiction to pornography is addiction to what I dub erotoxins."


    Reisman and other critics of pornography say it's dehumanizing, reducing people to genitals. The same could be said of a behavioral theory that looks at people and sees only biochemicals.

    Addiction is a choice. For some, it's not a choice of which they are consciously aware, but that doesn't mean that it isn't a choice.

    Posted by Tom, 12/6/2004 6:53:00 AM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Thursday, December 2, 2004

    Who the frell are you?

    D'argo: You are Ka D'argo, Heavy D. You shoot first
    and ask questions later. Intensely loyal,
    You're content with the role of side-kick while
    enjoying the fringe benefits of always having
    the bigger gun. Plus, there's that tongue

    Who the FRELL are you? A Farscape Personality Quiz.
    brought to you by Quizilla

    Posted by Tom, 12/2/2004 6:45:00 AM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Wednesday, December 1, 2004

    Lady Geekwear

    Scott Kurtz of PvPOnline has introduced a new shirt for lady geeks. It even has the word "woman" written across the front in code. Check it out.

    Addendum: My wife has pointed out that he even has a CenterDigit-appropriate shirt.

    Posted by Tom, 12/1/2004 6:59:00 AM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...