Tuesday, December 30, 2008

End of year post is late

I will be late getting the end of year post on this blog. I could make some (pretty legit) excuses, like having to deal with some infirmity, work and such, but the truth is that I just mismanaged my priorities. One of my new year's resolutions, which I started on yesterday, is to get that kind of stuff in order. Get my priorities straight.

I don't get many comments on this blog, so to those of you (especially Rob and DW: together they left more than half of all the comments this year) who take the time to comment on it, thank you. I will try to write here more often, so that you will have a reason to stop by.

I will stick my end of year blog entry on the end of this post, and while the software would let me hide my tardiness, if I so chose, I see no reason to obfuscate, so when you read this, if it says Updated and Complete, then it is done.

Till then . . .

UPDATED and complete 5Jan09: I started out this year embarking on a project to outline a method for Christians who are barely literate (like me) to study the Bible. And to study it well enough to get an understanding of it. More on that shortly.

It was not long till I got bogged down in the details, and sidetracked into politics, and into cataloging some of the slimeballs of our society. (BTW, "slimeballs and heroes" will no longer be monthly. But once in a while, when I find someone who epitomizes each category, I might add an entry.

It was a difficult wait for me, when the Supreme Court took on the question of gun control and deliberated for 99 days. When they came back with an anemic decision, I was disappointed, but decided it might be sufficient.

I did get the blog entries labeled and did a little on technology. The printer that died this spring has been replaced by a laser printer, and I will do a product review on that printer in the near future. I have developed a love / hate relationship with LED lights and CFL's, and have touched on the advantages and disadvantages of each.

As I have noted a couple of times, Christianity is beginning to come under attack from atheists, gays, and Islam. While persecution is not yet prevalent in the US, this should be a warning that it could be here soon. Especially if we, as a nation, fall victim to things like the "World Court" and other UN games. This means it is all the more important for Christians to study the Scriptures so we cannot be misled by the world.

As maddening high gas prices met up with maddening over inflation of housing prices, both spurred by a liberal leftist sickness of greed and entitlement, the economy collapsed, and for once I was way off on my gas price forecast for next year. If you still have a job, celebrate quietly and start squirreling away some funds for down the road.

I mentioned there may be terrorism and civil unrest in the near future. Now is not the time for others to see any display of wealth, and it is time to keep a gun at the ready - right along with plans for evacuation, or for hunkering down, should things go from bad to worse.

I think things may begin to get better in a couple of years - but I have been wrong before. We will see where things go next year. As I have said about Bible study, it is an adventure - and I am looking forward to it.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

US Gov Printing More Money

It seems Washington is printing money at an astonishing rate, in the hopes that they can buy us out of the mess that spending money like it grows on trees got us into. While I have not been able to find any government report saying the Fed is printing money, I have found several economists and newspapers all saying it, and one or two saying they have seen it in a government report.

Why I haven't gotten a smoking gun (a report right out of the federal government) may be explained by the last quote at the bottom of this entry. While that is good (it largely keeps the Fed away from the horse trading and arm twisting associated with the elected branches of the government), it does require a lot of calm thinking on the part of those running the Fed and a lot of trust from the rest of us. (The members are replaced, generally after 10 years or so, by the President)

Someone pseudonymed Pyrrho says that average people cannot fathom macroeconomics, and I tend to agree with him. I have argued macro economics with an acquaintance who is well versed in the subject, and often he has me scratching my head. I do, however suspect that he and I could agree that a federal government policy that encourages making things through manufacturing is superior in the long run to one that only encourages buying things and borrowing (or printing) money to do so. Let us hope and pray that Obama has and keeps that understanding.

Crunchy Conservative
The US Federal Reserve has committed itself to print as much money as it believes it needs

New York Times
Of much greater practical importance, the Fed bluntly announced that it would print as much money as necessary to revive the frozen credit markets
All of the tools involve borrowing by the Fed, which amounts to printing money in vast new quantities, a process the Fed has already started. Since September, the Fed’s balance sheet has ballooned from about $900 billion to more than $2 trillion as it has created money and lent it out.

said Ira Jersey, an interest-rate strategist at Credit Suisse Group AG.
"The Federal Reserve is increasing its balance sheet and now printing money, and that’s all quantitative easing is, printing money," Jersey said in an interview with Bloomberg Radio in New York. "Ultimately this ends with inflation being significantly higher than the market is anticipating right now.

U.S. fiscal policy today has a Ponzi-like character to it. We are printing money at a breakneck pace to keep up with entitlement spending programs that most experts say will grow faster than our gross national product. Our federal budget deficit this year could top $1 trillion.

Blogging Stocks
How far the Federal Reserve goes in printing money is anyone's guess. We have to keep in mind that, except for a few periodic reports to Congress, there are virtually no checks and balances on the Fed. They were intended to operate as a separate entity apart from any branch of government.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

death of newspapers

With the immanent bankruptcy of the tribune, some people, both outside and inside their industry have been discussing the financial in's and out's of the business. Seems no one inside the business has been willing to address the issue of bias, and how it may have played a role in their financial collapse.

Starting on Credit Slips, I traced commentary on the matter, to find out if they could be honest with each other. Beginning with the article, itself, the author (whom I know nothing about) says

Truth-seeking (for better or worse) has never been a for-profit
activity.. [and] If we as a country want to continue having a written representative in the “fourth branch” of government, we’re going to have to come up with another one.

I don't know if by "for better or worse," she is admitting right here that "truth" is not a reality in the newspaper business. As for the "forth branch of government" - the for profit news business of the MSM has become just a branch of the most liberal aspects of the Democratic Party. But will they get this?

I will say, right up front, that I read the local newspaper and watch the local news. It does two things that I can not yet get on line. I get local news, and I get an assortment of stories. On line, it tends to be national news, and I only get news that the sites I go to consider worthy. Of course, in the paper and on TV I get a lot of national news and only what the newspaper's editorial board feels is newsworthy, but it is a much wider variety.

The article mentions about investigative reporters and foreign bureaus. They are correct that blogging cannot replace these things. A new business model must emerge, where these people are paid a wage (or compensation) for their gathering of content. Someone must go out and gather content that corporations and governments don't want gathered, and support of those who do that is a must if we are not to slide into the Orwellian word of "1984"

Some other items in article and comments below it may be found incorrect in the future. The assembling of the news into a cohesive and eclectic (a paradox, I know) format can be done by blog editors, and even automation, just as well as an editorial board. There are already services that do this, such as The Memorandum and news.google, though at this time they still rely on the main stream news to provide the actual content. But this is an early phase.

Why no one seems to want to call them on the fact that one of the things MSM is killing itself with is their leftist views and political entanglements is beyond me. It may be that the Internet is killing the revenue stream for the newspapers, but it is their own lack of integrity that will assure their death. We can only hope that ultimately a day will come that a new version of news agency will emerge to fill the void.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

more improved blog reading

This is a follow up to the first note I posted on blog following.

As I have explored some of this thing called "blog following" I have found it works well for any blogs that you like to read, as long as they don't update too often. In other words, they work best for following blogs that update only a couple times a week, providing a way to see that they have updated without having to repeatedly go visit their site.

It does have a few drawbacks though. One is it won't notice if there are new comments on the site you are following. Another is I see no way to put a list of the blogs I am following on my front page in such a way that others can see if those blogs have updated. You can, however, click on my profile and see what blogs I am following (but not wheter or not they have updated).

I have also found that some people follow blogs through RSS. Don't know much about that yet, nor do I know much about blog rolling. I have seen an article on blogrolling that may provide what I am looking for, to show if other blogs have updated.

Meanwhile, keep reading the Gospel According to Luke, and I look forward next year to getting more posted on the subject of Bible Studies.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Time to read "Luke"

Or, time to read The Gospel According to Luke, again. The reason: A Charlie Brown Christmas Special is on TV this week. That's as good a reason as any.

If you're wondering what this is all about, Linus takes stage right in the middle of the show, and recites the second chapter of Luke, right from the King James translation of the Holy Bible.

Any Christian who has never studied the Bible, Luke is where I tell them to begin. Read it like a story, which it is. OK, you can skip the ancestry thing in chapter 4. That will be important later, but you can skip it for now. This is where the story of Christianity begins.

Why did they put the beginning of the story in the middle? Well, two reasons. First, the Bible is not the story of Christianity, it is the story of God. We come into play in the middle of the story. Second, the Bible is layed out by subject, and the four Gospels, found together at the beginning of the New Testament (the testament of Christ) is one of those subjects.

Why Luke? Two reasons: it is fairly simple to read (written as a story), and it starts out with a story most Christians know - Christmas.

Happy reading. More next week or so.

To find more of my writings on this subject, click on the label "Bible Student" on the right hand side of this blog.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Interesting artical

About the terrorist incident in India, and how the mainstream press tried to cover it up.

The press in this country, in colusion with the leftist elements in control of our government, continue to cover up who is really behind the destruction of America.

The press has also downplayed the likelyhood that terrorists will strike here in the next seveal months. In concert with this downplaying of the threat, the terror alert level has not changed in over 4 years. This will lead the public into complacency, and make things worse when things do happen.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Ephesus Project Now Bible Study

Well ThanksGiving is upon us. In this holiday time, we might just well reflect on what the first observers of ThanksGiving were all about. They fled to here from Europe, where they had been more or less persecuted by one Church or another for many years. To this end, I encourage everyone to show a little tolerance for people whose idea of Christianity is different from yours. We will need his solidarity in times to come.

Since I added the label "Bible Study" to my blog, I will no longer use the keyword "Ephesus" in my title lines. I also need to re-think how to present the whole concept of Bible Study for Bible Illiterates (which is what I was, only a few years ago). I am thinking along the line of "the part of tens" that I find in the back of all of the "For Dummies" guides.

Not that the Ephesus Project was wrong. I still think everything I put in there is good study advice. I just think there should be a little better way of presenting it.

Of course, blogging itself has its limitations. What I need for this project is a static page that can link to a dozen other pages that I can update from time to time. About the best I know how to do with Blogger is create a link list. I will be looking for some place on my front page to put that link list.

If there is any doubt about the importance of Bible Study, some of the entries on Crunchy Conservative last week.

Monday, November 17, 2008

future economics watch

As anybody who reads my writings (and rants) knows, I can see the future through mathematics, but that sight is obviously not perfect. I knew there was a downturn coming from quite some time ago (there were some hints as long as three years ago), but the suddenness and severity of it caught me off guard. I though we might get down to $3.50 a gallon for gas. I thought housing prices might drop 20%. I thought it might affect others as well as us.

I never expected $2 a gallon gas or housing prices dropping 40%. But here we are, looking at a global economic melt down. Global. Meltdown. Big stuff.

Now What?

Well, looking at the bond market can give a guess how long this is going to go on. From it I see that we are near (but everyone says "not at") the bottom. It also looks like this will go on for a couple of years. That is when "recovery" will begin. Most of the forecasters are saying it will take 10 years or so for people to get back to where they were two years ago. I concur.

(note: In re-reading this post, I notice I didn't link to anything. That is because most of my "hard data" is just listening to CNBC and looking at the bond rates as the go by on the ticker.)

In the short run, if you are in the position to buy into markets, now is the time to begin doing that. It doesn't matter whether you are interested in mutual funds, bond funds or gold coins. But I would advise doing it slowly, and planning to stay wherever you put your money for at least 10 years. And diversify. Always diversify.


Another afterthought: Of course, when I saw some of this coming, I didn't realise that some in Congress and HUD actually had demanded the banks (and especially Fannie and Freddie) continue and expand the lending practices that created this fiasco. Capitolism is no better than any other "ism" without some moral underpinning to keep it in check.

Friday, November 07, 2008

improved blog reading

Blogger has a couple of widgets I have recently been working with. First is "labels" which I added, so that entries can be looked into by subject matter. I wish I had started using this before. I won't be needing the "Ephesus" tag in my subject line any more. Just select the "Bible Study" label. Wow, simplicity. The labels are not perfect, as I have to make judgements about which blog entries should have which labels. I don't want too many labels, and some things don't fit neatly into the ones I picked - but still it is a great feature.

The other feature is "Blog Following" which allows me to see when some of my favorite "low traffic" blogs have been updated. Well, at least most of the time. I currently have four blogs loaded, and would have a couple more loaded, but can't seem to get it too work with certain blogs.

Like I said, it is good for low traffic blogs - basically any blog not updated more often than mine. But the word "updated" does bring up two flaws. First is that if the author updates a previous entry, this feature will not notice, and second, I have found no way to get it to track comments. Comments are an important feature in many blogs that I read.

Also, that is a hint to anyone
who reads my stuff
and I suspect most other
blog owners want comments too.

I still need to work more on the stuff along the right hand column, especially the permalinks. I also plan to add a "blogroll." The blogroll will provide a feature similar to blog following, for anyone who reads my blog.

UPDATE: I notice there are more than a fair share of entries related to politics, but I think that is somewhat of a side effect that politics touches so many areas of our lives. Also, I need to work more on things other than politics.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

after the election

As the dust settles on this election, I have been thinking on what I should write next. Certainly, things will not be as bad as we fear. Or will they? Only God knows.

There are some things I do like about President (elect) Obama's platform, though I was reluctant to speak of them during the race. There are some things about corporations that turn my stomach, and there is a (remote) chance that he will work to fix those. He believes in compulsory volunteering, and that is something I have come to embrace. (although the devil is in the details, and the programs could cause as much harm as good, if not done right)

I don't think he is a Christian. No, I don't think he is trying to decieve us, but rather that he does not have an understanding of what it means to be a Christian (which in my writings, would make him a christian).

There were many breakdowns in the polling equipment, but overall, it does not appear on the surface to be catastrophic. Of course, that is on the surface. In many places, paper ballots are no longer used (and in some, they have not been used for years), making it impossible to know how people really voted. Fortunately, my own districts allow the use of paper. Unfortunately, my own district also allows the use of unverifiable electronic voting.

The possibility exists that Al-Qaeda (or other wahhabists) may use the next few months to launch attacks, believing (an probably correctly) that we will be quite chaotic and indecisive in our response. I wrote about this a few days ago.

I will likely be looking for a different party affiliation in the next few years, unless much changes in the republican party. If the libertarians and constitutionalists could get their act together - and if they would understand that corporations are just another form of government - I might join up with them. Born-Again Democrats hold some promise, but I havent looked into their organization much yet. As always, the devil is in the details. I guess I might become a true independant.

Much remains to be thought out.
Much remains to be seen.

In the end, God is in charge.
In the mean time,
I feel I must try to make sense of it all.

Monday, November 03, 2008

In the crunch

As the economic meltdown continues, some things would be humorous, were their not so much human suffering attached.

UBS and Lehman Brothers
Don't know how long that link will be good, so here is a short snippet:
Nov. 3 (Bloomberg) -- UBS AG, Switzerland's largest bank, faces dozens of claims in the U.S. from clients who bought ``100 percent principal protected notes'' issued by Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. that are now almost worthless.

Trouble is, the market collapsed from the weight of too many people and organizations in too much debt, and much of it created by those now selling us a bill of goods that it was a republican venture.

Meanwhile, things have gotten so bad that gold coins are getting scarce, even as the price of gold drops. The article shows that so many people are now investing in gold for the first time that the supply of gold coins has been temporarily depleted. This has caused such an upheaval that many conspiracy theories are beginning to spring up.

After Notes:
Banks used "off balance sheet" to hide their insecurities. I wonder if anyone has realised, the reason banks are not loaning yet might be that they still have so much "off balance sheet" debt that they risk becoming insolvent when the rules change next summer? (If they don't get another reprieve from Barny Franks)

Sunday, November 02, 2008

time to be ready

Time to start.

The election will be over soon, and no matter who wins, it will be time to get disaster plans in place for you and your family. There are many reasons for this, but suffice it to say that terrorists didn't want us galvanized before the election, but now that it is over, they may take the opportunity to strike during the upheaval that always accompanies the transition to a new government (whether that is a McCain government, or an Obama government).

Have guns ready in case the worst happens. This is not to shoot the terrorists with, though that would be good too, but to keep the peace in your personal space - and allow the authorities to deal with the bigger fish.

Have food, water and other supplies on hand, in case they disrupt infrastructure or transportation. Check your evacuation plans if you live near something terrorists might hit. (you should already have these from 2002.) Have a couple possible destinations in mind for your family to meet up. Have transportation and routes thought out. Have gas in the car or truck. Have a couple changes of cloths packed.

If nothing at all happens. Celebrate that things are better than we though. But be prepared in case they are worse. If nothing at all happens, thank the good Lord and keep those things handy in case a disaster hits in the future.

15 NOV UPDATE: Well, here is the media and national intelligence agencies saying I am right about the possible threat from terrorists.

Friday, October 31, 2008

end of quite a month

Well, God saw fit that my mission work would move up the road a little ways. I changed shifts twice this month, took a little road trip and now I have gotten transferred to a different section of the corporation I work for.

A few more miles to drive, and many new people to meet. I guess that is what being a local missionary is all about. I should have seen it coming. For several months, I was getting more questions from the Christians (and the christians) around me, but lately I have been seeing no change in those whom I was sent to. Now I am sent to others. And my bosses think it was their idea. :)

This month I just scratched the surface on batteries, generators, and energy. While lighting is really the least of the energy debate, it makes the news so often that I have written several articles on compact fluorescent lights and LED's. Maybe in the near future I will get around to more important issues of heating, air conditioning, and transportation.

I also opened, but didn't follow up on corporate misbehavior of Bank of America. My ire at them tends to spike from time to time, but I guess I should expect no less than the lowest base behavior, since they are a multinational multibillion dollar corporation (read: national government) interested only in making a lot of money for a few rich people (read: despotic).

I also touched on some of the problems with our elections, with ACORN buying votes, and both parties treating us like we are mushrooms. I did the latter in the blog of one of my main spiritual mentors.

This election will soon pass, but that only means we have more years (Lord willing) ahead of us to prepare for future elections. Hopefully, I will be able to post here some wisdom on how to make our voices heard by our nation's leadership.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Trip Report

I celebrated my apparent miscalculation on gas prices this fall by taking a trip to see some people that I don't get to see very often. The massive downturn in the economy, sparked by some slimeballs in the politically driven lending business has had an upside. Lower gas consumption has led to (rocket science alert) lower gas prices.

While the road trip was largely uneventful (praise God), a couple of things did stick out. First, I stayed at the M-Star Motel, formerly known as the Royalty Inn in Searcy Arkansas. While this place is rated as only one star, I would give it at least two stars because it has so consistently delivered good quality service.

The other thing I noticed is that while it has become more important than ever to keep your tires inflated, it seems to be getting harder to find an air hose to do so. Not a good commentary on our society.

Monday, October 13, 2008

paying for voters

Seems I need to make another one of my "off the cuff" rants, this morning. I just got through reading a couple pieces about ACORN, and a light popped on in my mind. Something rotten hit me that maybe should have dawned on me long ago.

Reading this piece from Fox News, I noticed two small, insignificant attempts to stop using federal dollars to fund ACORN . (I say small cause they totaled less than a dozen congressional voices)

Using federal dollars to fund ACORN? Yes, we seem to be using federal dollars to sign up voters - mostly liberal voters, of course. (Wonder if we are using federal dollars to fund get out the vote drives for conservative voters, too?)

In a statement defending itself ACORN all but admits that it actually pays workers to get filled out voter registration cards to the registrars. Of course, its aim was to keep us from seeing that, by saying they pay by the hour, but it seems they have a criteria that so many cards need to be filled out in each hour. ACORN is "proud of this unprecedented success" (their own words) at using taxpayer moneys to back liberal interests.

The mere fact that we are spending taxpayer money to sign up voters should be very disturbing. It is only one small step from using taxpayer money to pay for votes.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Cost of Electricity - Batt and Gen

There is simply no way to discuss energy, whether alternative sources of energy or ways to conserve it, without an understanding of what energy costs. The cost varies dramatically, depending on what kind of energy, where it is coming from, and what it is being used for. This is why I advocate for LED's for flashlights, but not for my living room light.

There is also no way for an individual to predict the exact costs of their energy use, but reasonable calculations can be made. Here I will make some reasonable calculations for different kinds of electric power sources that might be available during power outages, camping, working outdoors, or other times when the commercial power is not easily available. (As we shall see, commercial electricity is one of the most cost effective sources of energy available to the individual.)

To make this survey more readable, I will make calculations for all costs in US$ per Kilo Watt Hour (KWH), just to limit the use of very small numbers. (So I will say commercial power is $.15 per KWH, rather than $.00015 per watt hour)

One of the most expensive sources of electricity is the common, throw away battery. Using a reasonable cost per battery of $.35 for AA and $.80 for D cells, and a reasonable power yield of 2 watt hours for AA alkaline Batteries and 15 watt hours for D-Cell alkaline Batteries will automagically provide:
$175 per KWH for AA cells
$53.33 per KWH for D cells

(You don't even want to think of the cost for the coin shaped cells used in watches and hearing aids, which I have also seen in headlamps that fit on the bill of a cap)

The most common small rechargeable batteries today are NiMH based. AA sized batteries of this type can reasonably put out 1.5 watt hours for each of over 667 recharge and discharge cycles. It typically takes 50% more electricity to charge them than you get back each time, so these numbers add up to 1 KWH for ($.23 in electricity and the $2.27 cost of the battery) $2.50. This of course ignores the cost of the battery charger, but that might not be too much of a factor if you are using several batteries. This is not really the ideal for this kind of battery, so really judicious use of rechargeable batteries, or use of larger ones could make the cost much less. It does require a commitment, however, to use the batteries throughout their (typically two year) life span.

A 3kw Honda generator set, providing 2KW continuous, uses about one gallon of gasoline every 3 hours, and requires 1/2 maintenance ($15, including oil and spark plug) every 50 hours. After 900 hours this would be $135 for maint and $1200 for gas (at $4/gal) = $1335.
Generator cost about $2000, and after 900 hours could be worth $1000
1800KWH for $2335 = $1.3 per KWH

This is an almost ideal usage pattern for a generator set, and normal use would be intermittent and variable loads. True cost per KWH for a small gasoline powered generator would likely be two or more times as much.

Typical throw away flashlight batteries . . . $50 to $175 per KWH
Typical gasoline generator electric power. . . $1.30 or more per KWH
Typical rechargeable batteries . . . . . . . . . . . . $2 to $3 per KWH (or less)
Typical household electric power . . . . . . . . $0.15 per KWH

Now, knowing somewhat, the cost of energy, it is possible to begin discussing ways to reduce energy costs and return on investment for various energy saving or energy producing products.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

car and credit scammers

There are some calls going around, mostly to cell phones, but also to land lines.

They care not about the do-not-call-list

I found some interesting intell on them.
Approach with caution, everything is not as it seems.

Thanks, Cameo, whoever you are.


UPDATE: The calls just keep coming. They spoof the caller ID to show various numbes. I found a web site cataloging the caller ID numbers, and there are hundreds of them. I just cannot be convinced that, with CALEA and other technologies, the FTC cannot track these people down. Especially when Cameo (above) was able to, and found they are operating inside the US.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Efficient lighting pt 3

In the first two articles, I promoted the virtues of the newer CFL's. But, while they have come a long way, they are still not perfect. After much searching and measuring of CFL's, I am still not satisfied with the state of the art.

This is not to say I don't think they are a good idea, I do think we should be heading that way, but we (as a society) are not there yet. The best "green" products should put "green" in our pockets. If they don't, we need to rethink them. CFL's put green in our pockets, but only when they fit in the sockets and when they get a lot of use (like my desk, stove, garage, and reading lamps). A quick count says I have about 10 CFL's and 10 regular light bulbs in use in my home. These numbers probably won't change much for a couple years.

LED lamps for household use are not really ready for prime time, yet, but there may be exceptions. Several kinds of Christmas lights (and I assume similar lights for other functions or holidays) use LED's. Also, a standard night light uses over $5 a year in electricity. I have found some LED night lights that cost less than $3 each (and use about $.25 a year in electricity) making them worthwhile if you just need something so you won't stub your toe in the dark. The problem I had with the reading lamp was the cost, which was in excess of $30, making even a single failure unacceptable.

I tackled efficient household lighting because it seems to be on every body's mind. Talked about in the press, and advertised on TV. But in reality, it is a pretty small part of the picture, dwarfed by the costs of air conditioning, construction, manufacturing, and transportation. This is one reason cost of the light bulbs is so important - it represents energy use in manufacturing and transporting the light bulbs to you. And if there is no payback on that, there is no payoff in energy conservation.

Some useful links:
usatoday 2008-02-28-light-bulb_N.htm

EnergyInvestmentStrategies dot com 2008 cfl-problems coming to light - good news for leds

energystar partners/downloads/meetings/Karney.pdf

Scientific American - the switch is on

stupidevilbastard-comments (the days of the incandescent light bulb in the US are numbered)

forums CNet message thread

BuildersSquare dot com Light Bulbs Buying Guide 45

Thursday, September 18, 2008


This is going to be a little more "off the cuff" than my usual writings.

I am going to stick to
discussion of the Gulf coast
because I don't live too far
from Houston.

In the foreseeable future (and yes, those of you who know me know that I have said similar things before) disasters will become the norm. If you are not currently recovering from a disaster, then you should be thinking about (and preparing for) the next one. This may sound a little calloused, but most of the people in New Orleans in 2005 and those in Houston and Galveston this month were deluded into thinking it never could happen to them.

I have asked many Texans why anyone would live in the Houston or Galveston area, and have always been told "money. That is where the highest paying jobs are. " Well show me the money now. These same people are now asking for handouts from us people living in the poor upstate regions. They have also been asking for donations of clothing. At first, they said they would only take new, or new looking clothing. As they got a little desperate (a little desperation is good for the soul), they got a little less picky.

First, if you have a good high paying
job, you need to be putting aside
some money in a savings account.
Second, if you have to bug out for
a completely predictable disaster,
like a hurricane, you should take
at least 3 sets of clothes
and an ATM card.

Next is on a government level.
How much should it bother us that thousands of FEMA trailers were built, but never used after Katrina? How much should it bother us that many of them sit neglected in places like Arkansas?
These things were in the papers on a regular basis before IKE came ashore on the 12th. How much more should it bother us that there is no discussion of using them for long term (one to six weeks) housing of IKE evacuees?

In numbers of fatalities, we got off easy on this disaster. In dollar damages, it is pretty steep. It will take a few months before things are back up and running again in Houston and Galveston. In the mean time, the poor upland people will take care of the comparably wealthy Houstonites until they get back home to their high paying jobs.
(I told you it would sound a little calloused.)

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Efficient lighting pt 2

A few days ago, in the first part of this article I wrote that the advances in compact fluorescent lights(CFL's) and major reductions in price, have made it a lot better choice for lighting than even a few years ago. This doesn't mean that you should go out and buy CFL's for every light in the house, but it does mean it may be time to begin moving in that direction. I would start with replacing any light that tends to burn for several hours every day. (I started with my reading lamp in my office. It is on the same switch as everything else in my office, and so runs about 10-15 hours a day.)

Two particular improvements have made the biggest difference. The first one is the addition of "bright white" and "daylight" CFL's to the older "warm white" and "cool white" bulbs. (In incandescent bulbs there is also "soft white" but I haven't seen it in CFL's and don't really know if it refers to a "color," or just the fact that the frosting on the glass softens the glare.) OK, "daylight" fluorescent lights have been around for several years, but they were always too expensive to consider. The other improvement is somewhat smaller CFL's are now available.

Each of these "colors" refers to what colors of light are more pronounced in the spectrum. Warm white has extra red and orange. Cool white has extra green and blue. Daylight is supposed to have a spectrum similar to the actual spectrum of daylight. Bright white seems to be a compromise between daylight and cool white, and the price is a compromise too.

About cost. The newer "colors" are somewhat more expensive to buy, and also put out less lumens than the cool white's, but they are worth it. The old (two years ago) advice was to buy the cool white bulbs, and go up one size. That means you replace a 40 watt incandescent with a 60W equivalent CFL. With the new "bright white" CFL's, this may or may not be necessary.

Even going up one size with the old bulbs wasn't satisfactory because the light "color" made things look different. Many people (mostly but not always, women) didn't like the way it made them look. One person said it made them look jaundiced. Chefs also didn't like what it made their food look like. (Anyone heard of green eggs and ham - in US Army mess halls? Compliments of cool white bulbs over scrambled eggs)

The newer colors fix that. There is a problem though. With the bright white, if the light is too strong, some people are bothered by the excess brightness. I went up one size AND switched to bright whites in my living room and ran into this problem. Too bright.

The one my wife complains about being too bright are also just long enough to be directly visible. They stick out of their shade about 1/2 inch, which of course is another problem. CFL's will not fit in many fixtures. This is also the other improvement I mentioned in the second paragraph. There has been a steady improvement in making the CFL's closer to the size of standard light bulbs. This has all but been accomplished. I don't think it will be 100% for several more years, but they have come quite a ways. I think, eventually, LED lights will have to be used in the smallest of fixtures.

I also tried a DayLight bulb. Went up two sizes, to a 75W equivalent, and while it is decidedly whiter and brighter than the 60W equivalent bright white CFL's, I don't think I would recommend it, unless you are really have a critical need for color balance (And there is still no guarantee you will like the color balance).

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Efficient lighting pt 1

While some time ago, I began a discussion of LED lights, I think the time is here to begin discussion of efficient lighting in general. Part of the reason for this is that electricity (including batteries) went up about 40% in the last two years, with another 30% rise expected in the next two years.

I began experimenting with LED lights a couple years ago, and found that the technology had matured to the point where they were useful in flashlights, or other battery powered applications. In addition to flashlights I also bought headlamps, lanterns, puck lights, and a reading lamp. The only light to fail out of these was the reading lamp. It was also the only one to run on household electric power, instead of batteries.

For applications that run on household electric power, I recommend fluorescent lighting. The advances made in this field a couple of years ago, and now becoming economical are terrific. In addition, the cost factor in batteries (battery power tends to be about 2000 times the cost of household electric power) makes the economics for the two situations quite different.

None of the lights I have bought are cutting edge, and I don't recommend buying cutting edge technology (living on the cutting edge is a good way to bleed green). However, they are fairly new, and most of the time I bought stuff that had been on the market for only a year or two.

I will, of course, have to write more on this subject, but there is plenty of time. The cost of good lights is going down, and the cost of electricity shouldn't be going up for a few more months.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

end of month roundup

It has been a pretty busy month - off line. Not much to talk about, just a lot of little things. I got my gas price forecast out. Real high prices. Now hurricane Gustov is bearing down on New Orleans, but as I have said before, the market kind of self corrects for these little glitches.

Next month I am hoping to revisit some of the Ephasis project, and maybe add to it.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Forcasting Gas Prices

I seem to be a few days late with this forecast. Things are changing on the world stage. I estimated a little low for 2008 prices, and they continued going up for more than a month longer than usual. The price drops we have been experiencing for about the past three weeks is the one we usually got around Memorial Day in past years, and we might not have gotten it at all, were it not for China curtailing driving during the Olympics. More on that later.

Right now, here is "The Bottom Line," right up front.
My forecast for May 2009 gas prices is $5.83 per gallon.
Sounds high, but here is how I got there.

I have been doing these forecasts for about 6 years now (but only about three years in this blog), and have refined my formula each of the past three years. It has however, been getting harder to forecast lately because of China's (and India's) ever increasing role in consumption. This summer gas prices have dropped off in August, but that may be due to China curtailing driving to keep the air cleaner for the Olympics. This may not pan out in future years, and the price may remain high until late fall, or may not drop at all and simply rise again the following spring.

My current formula for
the next April/May price spike is as follows:
Take the predominant price of crude oil
in (late) July (and some early Aug)
that would be $120 a barrel (more on this later),
divide by 25 (giving $4.80) and
add $.65 to account for the taxes ($5.45)
and factor in about 7% for inflation.
The result is a forecast of $5.83 per gallon for gas.

As noted in the first linked article below, these forecasts are not accurate enough for buying and selling futures on the commodities markets. I find it more and more difficult to get this across to others, but speculation is at best a gamble, as many who speculated on August oil found out. The rapid drop in oil prices made it difficult for me to do this forecast, but there are some speculators out there who likely went bankrupt. This forecast, however, should be useful enough for writing a budget for next years transportation costs. As such I hope city, state and county budget planners will not ignore the rising cost of fuel as they have in the past.

Here are some past articles I have written
My original forecast in this blog and my reasons for doing these forecasts
Discussion of my technique for forecasting.
Early spring discussion of gas prices and my formula.
Discussion of (in)accuracy in my forecast.
Discussion of Ethanol's failure to pan out as a fuel.
Epidemic of imports from China.
Gas Price forecast for May 2008.
Forecast update to account for inflation.

I think this article could also be the rational for choosing a car that is stingy on gas for next year's driving season. I did, and am glad for it.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

End of July round up

Well, July came and went. In some ways it went by pretty fast, but the five days when my Air Conditioning was out didn't go too fast. (Remember, I live in central Texas)

Late last month, the Supreme Court finally got around to issuing a landmark opinion in a straightforward guns vs gungrabber case. They, in a 5-4 decision decided that the word people means people. Only took them about 99 days.

There was a swift reaction in Georgia and many other places, actually it is obvious they anticipated the ruling in several of those places, and they immediately began allowing people their 2nd amendment rights. Just goes to show that, in addition to having legitimacy, we have to fight to maintain our freedom.

I published two pieces this month, one on Grace vs The Law that I wrote over the past couple months, and one on recent history of the Bible, I wrote a few years ago, but never really published. I got a few lively questions from a friend on Grace vs The Law, and I must remember to thank him for the feedback.

I have begun a series on representative government, by asking if anyone knows which party they would belong to if they really had a choice and who represents them in our government. So far, no one has raised a question or an answer to that.

In my monthly Heroes and Slimeballs section, for the first time, the hero is post humus. For the non military out there, it means he was killed in the process of becoming a hero. I usually point out civilians (non police) who make us safer in our day to day life for this item, so while it does require courage (there must be some risk, and the action must be by choice) to get my attention, the hero doesn't usually pay with his life. But from time to time they do, making them all the more heroic.

My next energy forecast should be out within a couple days, and while the price of gas should drop off another 10 cents or so, I am looking at $5.70, give or take some next spring.

I am thinking of making several of these reoccurring items into regular monthly items, but I don't know if I am up to that. Promising to do something, even monthly is a big thing for me.
Maybe. We shall see.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Of Heroes and Slimeballs

I missed my monthly "Heroes and Slimeballs" installment last month. Guess I am not yet a professional writer.

As a reminder of what this is all about, see my January Article.

Or just remember this: "For evil to triumph, it only requires that good men should do nothing." - Edmund Burke

For this month's Heroes:
The guys who jumped on the man who was shooting up a church with a shotgun.

"John Bohstedt tackled the shooter. Immediately two others were on top of him."

Three heroes in less than one minute. It matters not that I seriously don't agree with what that Church teaches, my only regret is that at least one of them, John Bohstedt, died defending his Church.

Note to LESTER PHINNEY, should he find his way here. Good observation.

Slimeball award: I am going to take the easy way out this month. Since I really don't have time to narrow this down to which ever ones are the worst of the bunch, I will simply say Mortgage Servicing Companies in general.

These are generally the companies who you send your mortgage payments to, and who will process the paperwork if you default. They are also the ones who will reap more of a profit if you are late on payments, and still more profit if you default or get foreclosed on. In a few instances, they may even run the "mortgage rescue" companies, organizations proposing to help people who are behind in their mortgage payments, but many just take the money sent to them, and then tell their "clients" (victims) to declare bankruptcy or to walk away.

Hat tip to Credit Slips, especially at the following links:
They sometimes get involved in some brazen, illegal, behavior, as seen here.

Runner up. The producers and programmers who insist on draconian protection of their "work," and add copy protection to news sites, preventing fair use. Attempting to cut and paste from some of the links above gets a pop up warning about copyright. Sad.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

How can we know

I get asked, from time to time, how we can know that what we have in the Bible in our hands today is the same as what was written hundreds and hundreds of years ago. (I also get asked why I believe that what is in the Bible is what God intended to be in it, but that is a different matter) This is a short essay I wrote as a summary of what I have learned while studying the history of the scriptures. As with any writing, I gained a great deal of precision while writing it. I originally wrote this in 2004, and have updated it every year or two, mostly to improve the grammar.

It is still in a greatly simplified form.

I have tried to keep it to less than
three printed pages. There are
about half dozen notes at the end.

The Jews have had responsibility for assembling and keeping the Old Testament scriptures intact ever since they were written. The first five books were written around 2000 BC, the rest of them were passed down verbally until the time of the prophets[1] - when they were put into written form - while the Jews were in exile. Before this time, many of them were written in one form or another - but at the time of the prophets (and by the prophets), they were assembled and the whole was created. The elders and leaders were taken as captives to Babylon about this time and many of the peasants either went to Egypt, or were scattered. Some families[5] of them were not found until around 1970, in eastern Africa.

The Jews took the responsibility of keeping the scriptures seriously - to the extent that any error at all would result in doing an entire page over from beginning to end. But were they successful in keeping them intact? Here is some of the evidence that the scriptures are still intact.

The scattering of the Jews - and later, the scattering of the Christians - has become instrumental in keeping the purity of the scriptures. Ever since about 400 years BC, a few spiritual leaders of the Jews from every known region they occupied have met about every 100 years and compared their copies. This has prevented errors from creeping into the text - as an error found in one region's copies would be obvious to the representatives from other regions. In addition, some copies of he scriptures were lost to the world for many hundreds of years - and were found later. These also show that the scriptures have been kept faithfully.

Christians have done a similar job with the New Testament. Like the Jews, repeated persecutions caused them to scatter from west of Egypt to east of Persia and North of Bavaria (Southern Germany) in the first couple hundred years AD. Again, the spiritual leaders from these scattered regions met from time to time (sometimes with hundreds of years lapse in between) and one of the activities they engaged in at these meetings was to compare their copies of the Scriptures and their thoughts on interpretations of those Scriptures. Any changes to one set of Scriptures would show up as different from copies brought from other parts of the world.

While transcription has been precise, and fairly easy to prove (each one is simply an exact replica of all others), translation from the original languages to another has been a lot messier. While the original words never change - the languages we translate into are in continuous flux, and to a lesser extent the meaning of the original words is sometimes disputed.

Be advised, the King James Version is not the end all of accuracy. While great pains were taken to ensure its accuracy ( about 90 people worked on it for something like 15 years) they could not be any more accurate than the material they had to work with and, as they were all Englishmen, the particular world view they held. There are certain feature of it that are invaluable in studying, and no scholar of the Bible should be without a copy of the King James Version.

Also, the Roman Catholic Bible is not considered in this essay, since I do not study from it and it includes the apocrypic[2] writings, which are not considered by many Christian scholars to be sacred text. Most Bible scholars read these writings after studying the rest of the Bible, but most don't teach from them.

There are many different translations of the Bible into English, not because the Bible has changed but, because English has changed. In most translations the fight is over which words are best to use, to convey the original meaning. For instance, one passage in the New Testament says that Jesus will send us a councilor. There is some debate as to whether to translate the word as comforter, helper, advocate, or teacher, because the original word has a shade of meaning that encompasses some traits of each of those things. The King James translates it comforter. (Some translations, however, ARE considered inaccurate [3])

After the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered in 1947, the New American Standard Bible (NASB - published and refined from 1952 to 1995) and the New International Version (NIV - first published in1974 and refined in 1984) were created (And the Revised Standard Edition - for the Brit's).

The differences of substance due to our improved knowledge, from earlier translations, is less than 1%, but they are substantially easier for today's reader. The NASB is considered THE standard for exacting translation. The NIV has had some controversy. The original (1974) seems to have been released prematurely - and became the subject of much venom. (Christians take accuracy seriously.) The later releases largely corrected the deficiencies (some differences from the King James and the NASB exist for readability), but many Christians have been slow to forgive.

[1] Time of the Prophets refers to an era around 400 to 800 BC, when many prophets rose up to witness to the people of Israel that they were going astray and that they would be driven into exile from the Promised Land.

[2] The apocrypha is a set of writings, added to the scriptures by the Roman Church in the 1500's. Some of them were present at the time of the Prophets, but were not included - the prophets didn't consider them cannon. Also, there is no record of Jesus quoting from any of them. When the New Testament was assembled in the 3rd (or was it the 4th?) century they were not included, primarily because Jesus did not quote from any of them, and secondarily because the Jews did not consider them cannon. (The word cannon means measure - it is the standard by which all things are measured)

[3] A few good and a few bad translations are named in the FAQ on the Electronic Bible web site E Bible dot Org - maintained by Micheal Paul Johnson. My own standard for accuracy is slightly more conservative than his, but we are in general agreement.

[4] Much of the information in this article can be
found in Zondervan's Pictorial Bible Dictionary.
Any errors are entirely my fault.

[5] Most of those found were evacuated to Israel shortly before a local war. It was determined they were indeed Jews, through DNA testing.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Represenative Govmnt, evolving thoughts

So, the presidential races are pretty well settled. If you live in one of about 20 states, like Texas, you don't have to worry about who to vote for, for president. We will go republican, several others will too, even if McCain stumbles or steers left, he will get our electoral votes.

So then, what is a voter to do?

Two things. Do you have a favorite third party?
There is a short (29 questions) quiz to see how your views stack up against the parties.
Matchmaker Quiz

Local elections. Do you know who your real representative is? If you can find yourself on a map, you should know who your representative is. Giant first step. Simply download the PDF of your state and find your county on the map. Now you know what district you are in.

More to come later.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Grace, The Law, and Works

Salvation, in a nutshell.
A New Testament Perspective

Salvation occurs when a person realizes that they are a sinner, and no matter how hard they try they will never achieve the righteousness needed to please God. In fact they, as a sinner, are repulsive to God. But God, in His infinite love, gave His only begotten Son to pay the price to redeem us, and His righteousness is imparted to us for salvation. It means turning away from the worldly idea that we can be "good enough" to earn our way to heaven and instead having faith that the grace of God is sufficient, if we will trust in Him. After that, and only after that, we should, out of gratitude for what He has already done for us, seek to follow Him. Following Him means Loving God, Loving one another, and spreading the good news of Salvation through Jesus, to others.

"I do not set aside
the grace of God:
for if righteousness
comes through the law,
then Christ died in vain"
(Galatians 2:21)

Grace, The Law, and Works:
A short study on the New Covenant,
why The Law does not apply to Christians, and why that does not give them a free pass, or fire escape, to Heaven.

Disclaimer: I am an Evangelical (aka "Born Again") Christian who has been studying the Bible seriously for only a few years. I am not a Jew (except in the "grafted in" sense of the title). I also have more than a few disputes with other evangelicals about their interpretation of how Christians are supposed to conduct their affairs. I am in no way a conformist, but have listened to many pastors and scholars on this subject. After much analysis, I must set down my own viewpoint in writing.

First, a few definitions.

  • Church: As in the Bible, this does not refer to a building. It refers to a group of Believers,
    or it can refer to All Believers everywhere. I will occasionally use church without
    capitalizing it to refer to the building. When used properly, it will be capitalized.
  • Grace: Often stated as God's Riches At Christ's Expense, the word means to be given
    something as a gift, wholly undeserved, and without any debt owed in return.
    Grace differs from Mercy in that Grace is getting something you don't deserve
    and Mercy is escaping something you do deserve.
  • Love: Not a feeling, as the world knows it, but a call to action. Love is acting in a manner
    beneficial to the object of that love, and placing their benefit ahead of the one showing love.
    (Most good, Old English dictionaries will list this, but usually mixed in with lots
    of newer, touchy freely, definitions)
  • The Law: This usually refers to the Mosaic Law, or all of the legal requirements found in Exodus, Leviticus, and Deuteronomy. It sometimes includes Noaic Law (there is a dispute as to whether this even exists) or Rabinical Law, that which was developed as a result of the Priests studying the Mosaic Law.
  • Scriptures : 1. For this document, or any other of my writings only, (when others use the word "scripture" it may mean something somewhat different) When not capitalized, I am referring to any writings from around the time of Christ or before that carry weight in the Protestant Christian Churches (whether mainstream Protestant, Lutheran, or Methodist or sectarian, like the Baptists, Puritans, or Assembly of God.)
  • Scriptures: 2. When capitalized, it refers to either the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament) or the Christian Scriptures (New Testament), or both. And I will always try to point out which. Temple For this discussion, will mean any place where Jews meet to worship or learn. (Synagogue)
  • Works: These are all of the actions taken by a person, whether related to God, or to other persons.

Bible Translations used in this article:
ASB American Standard Bible (1901)
KJV King James Authorized Version (1611)
NASB New American Standard Bible (1971 or 1995)
(Found at http://nasb.scripturetext.com/)
NIV New International Version (1984)
NKJV New King James Version (1982)

1. There is (and has been, for many years) a struggle going on between different viewpoints in various Christian (and Messianic Jewish) Churches. The main thrust of this struggle is to define what must a Christian do or not do. Are we bound by The Law or, through the freedom of Grace, do we live outside the control of The Law? Related to this, if salvation is not by works, why is there so much emphasis on works in so much of the scriptures.

2. Part of the confusion comes from the language the Bible uses to describe our situation. It talks about sin, and about liberty. About keeping His commands, and about being dead to The Law. About being circumcised of the heart, and being wary of those who call themselves circumcised. How are we then to know? We must read carefully, and we must understand the context. As such, I will excerpt verses and some small quotes, but I implore the reader to go and study the context of each of these excerpts and quotes. I will also, on occasion refer to more than one English translation of a verse, since English is a fluid language where many words don't mean what they did in centuries past, and also, in some cases there may be trouble getting the correct flavor of meaning as translated from the Greek. In many instances I will provide my view of the context, but that doesn't lessen my desire for the reader to go there themselves to study on their own. (In fact, much of my other writings have been trying to get others to study the Scriptures, because a Christian with even just 1000 hours of study behind them is almost impossible to be mislead by others.)

3. In studying the New Testament, a couple of the first things we come to are John the Baptist and the Sermon On the Mount. John the Baptist tells the Pharisees "produce fruit" and Jesus, in the the opening paragraphs to the Sermon on the Mount (Matt 5:17-20) tells people "one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass away from the law" and "except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no wise enter into the kingdom of heaven." How then is anyone supposed to get to Heaven?

4. Grace, of course. And Grace is the stumbling block
laid before many religious leaders, both then, and now.

5. Now we come to this thing about the Sermon on the Mount in a different light. Since NO ONE can live up to the standard demanded of us, and Grace is the only way to Heaven, what is the overall point of the entire sermon. Jesus is simply showing beyond a shadow of a doubt that the standard cannot be met. In the process of that sermon, however, I will note one statement: "I came ...to fulfil" (5:17ASB), we will come back to it later.

6. Next we must consider what Jesus to His disciples at various times and in various parables. For instance, in Matt 9:12 (and 12:7) He says "But go and learn what this means: ‘I DESIRE COMPASSION, AND NOT SACRIFICE,’ for I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners." (NASB) and in Matt 16:5-12 He warns them about the teachings of the Pharisees. In addition, on the subject of the Temple Tax (Tithing), He asks Peter "What do you think, Simon? From whom do the kings of the earth collect customs or poll-tax, from their sons or from strangers?" Thereby showing Peter that they, as Sons of the King, will no longer be bound to paying "the Tithe" to the Temple (don't think this gets you out of giving to your Church, I will get to that later).

7. Here we must note in Matthew 18:3 that He says we must become like children, in John 14:18 says "I will not leave you as orphans" and in Luke 11 (NASB) He teaches them to pray: "Father, hallowed be Your name" and later in the same chapter warns: "Woe to you lawyers! For you have taken away the key of knowledge; you yourselves did not enter, and you hindered those who were entering." (NASB)

8. We should also know that, although God is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow, some things do change, in how we relate to God. Many try to explain this through the doctrines of Dispensationalism and others through Covenant Theology, but I will leave that for another day. For the time being, I will simply point out that some things do change, and give a small example: Luke 22:35-36 (NASB) And He said to them, "When I sent you out without money belt and bag and sandals, you did not lack anything, did you?" They said, "No, nothing." And He said to them, "But now, whoever has a money belt is to take it along, likewise also a bag, and whoever has no sword is to sell his coat and buy one."

9. Shortly after the above discussions Jesus shows that he is to finish what is written about Him. In Luke 11:37 "that which refers to Me has its fulfillment" and John 19:30, as He died on the Cross, He said "It is finished." (this is what I told you we would come back to at the end of paragraph 5) I believe this refers to what is referred to in Hebrews 8:13, that He made the Old Covenant of The Law obsolete.

10. So then, what was Jesus referring to when He said: "He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me; and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father" ?

11. Well, if we read the New Testament we can see that He gave His disciples some new commandments. Some are easy to spot: "Love one another" (John 13:34). Be on guard against greed (Luke 12:15). Pray always, and don't be discouraged (Luke 18:1). Watch, that no one deceives you (Matt 24:4). There are many others.

12. Further, we might consider the Apostle Paul's teachings. Most of Paul's letters were written to Churches, therefore they are named for the Churches he wrote them to. Some are to encourage the Church (the Church in Philippi is a shining example of this) but most of them are to correct doctrinal errors which were either creeping in (or being smuggled in by Judaisers), or to chasten them to get back on track (Corinthians). Three of them were written to Pastors Timothy and Titus, for direction as to how a Church is to be run.

13. In Galatians 2:11 - 3:18 Paul discusses The Law and Grace. Note that Peter is said to "live like a Gentile" when "those who were of the circumcision" were not around. Paul said that Peter was "not straightforward about the truth of the gospel" and he was compelling the Gentiles to live like Jews. And further tells the Galatians to consider if they are saved by faith, how do they think they can be kept saved by works of The Law? (paraphrased). And yet further, Paul tells them if they are going to live by The Law, they must live by ALL of The Law - which, of course, we know is impossible.

14. Again, in Ephesians, Paul visits this issue. Beginning with my favorite verses, Eph 2:8-9 "For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast" (don't worry, we will get to verse 10 shortly). He really gets explicit in verse 15 with "having abolished in the flesh the hostility, the law of commandments contained in ordinances." Also check out Collossians 2:11-23, 1 Timothy 1:9 and Matthew 15:11.

15. What of works?

16. Does this mean works are worthless? Not so. Indeed, we "are created for" good works, as it says in Ephesians 2:10 (I told you we would get back to that one) we are "created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them." This mean not only are we to do good works, but that is what we were created for. In addition, we can see that God Himself prepared these good works that we should do them. He knew we would be there, and He arranged the opportunities for us to do the good works.

17. One of the most famous so called contradictions in the Bible is James telling us to show our faith through our works. But we can see how these fit together if we go back to John 13:34, where Jesus says: "Love one another" and if you look at the definition of Love supplied at the beginning of this essay, you will see that is something you do. It is a work.

18. Several times in the New Testament (Matt 7:15-16, 7:20, 8:8, Luke 12:35, 13:8, John 15:10) Jesus talks about fruit. And not only Jesus, but Paul and some of the others talk about "The Fruit of the Spirit." What can this "fruit" be, except works, and the results of works?

19. What are these fruit, and what should be the result? James (1:27) tells us that true religion is to look after widows and orphans. In James 2:15-16, the author asks what profit are pious words if you are not generous towards your brothers and sisters (in Christ) with food and clothing. In Corinthians 13, Paul says all other gifts are worthless without love ("charity" in the old english). In Acts and Timothy, we are instructed to care for each other and widows. (In Timothy it also is very direct about children taking care of their widowed mothers - and it should be mentioned that the term widow means to be deprived, not just through death of a spouse).

20. We can often and easily become confused, if we do not study (and not merely read) the scriptures. For instance, Malachi says to bring in the tithe (tenth) into the storehouse. But look at who it is written to. Not to Christians, but to the Israelites. And then, not even to individuals, but to the nation as a whole (See chapter 1 verse 1). And which storehouse? The nation of Israel had storehouses for the priests and temples, and the nation was to care for their priests and temples (or synagogues) with their tithes. In the New Testament, the "Church" is the body of believers. But we are told in 1 Corinthians 9 (especially verses 13 and 14) to support those who teach (or preach) the Gospel. While the old Law of the Tithe is gone, a new commandment to support those who teach has taken its place. No set amount is given, but we are to give generously out of a spirit of Joy.

21. How then are we to discern the truth? We must read the Scriptures, but read them with care for the context. We must study them to discern their meaning. Look again at 1 Corinthians 9, but this time at verses 7 - 12. Paul shows that we should be aware of the "meaning behind the meaning." There is no magic to this, but it is the result of the Spirit revealing Truth to us through a continued effort to study the Scriptures.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Swift reaction in Georgia

Is this swift reaction? No, actually I think it anticipated the decision from the Supreme Court. Meanwhile, the director of the FBI takes a decidedly un-American stand.

From various articles:

Effective today, the Georgia House Bill 89 becomes law and allows Georgia residents with firearm licenses permission to bring concealed weapons onto public transportation, in parks and recreational areas and into restaurants that serve alcohol.

Most employees with a valid concealed weapons license are now allowed to keep a gun in their locked vehicles while at work — regardless of whether employers ban weapons on the property. Exceptions include schools, governmental buildings, courthouses, correctional facilities, airports and other businesses considered "high security."

The Preservation and Protection of the Right to Keep and Bear Arms in Motor Vehicles Act of 2008 was immediately challenged after Gov. Charlie Crist signed the bill into law in April. The Florida Chamber of Commerce and the Florida Retail Federation filed a joint lawsuit claiming the law violates the rights of business owners.

ATLANTA (AP) Starting Tuesday, Georgians with gun permits will be able to bring their firearms in restaurants that serve alcohol, aboard public transportation and in state parks.

The gun measure is of one of more than 100 new laws set to take effect on the July 1 start of the fiscal year. Critics and supporters alike say it's the largest expansion of gun rights in Georgia in decades.

Meanwhile, the director of the FBI is not happy with the Supreme Court's recent handgun ruling.

Robert Mueller says he tends to believe that "weapons harm people, He says communities will now have to decide their own licensing programs. Mueller was speaking at a convention of the International Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators in Hartford, Connecticut. He says with his grandchildren going to college, he hopes "those campuses will be weapons-free."

What is he, shilling for HCI, or in league with Al-Qaeda and China? Of course, he, like many who don't want us to be able to defend ourselves, carries his own gun, and has his own personal protection. Many others who don't want you to be able to defend yourself even have armed body guards, as well as their own guns. They just don't want normal people to have the same rights as them and their elitest friends.

Monday, June 30, 2008

June End of Month Roundup

In the past, I used this as a collection point for things I had not gotten to in the month, but that isn't the right thing to do. In the future, I will use it to rehash some recent (maybe more than a month) discussions, and maybe to add something to them.

Without a doubt, the biggest news this month has been the Supreme Court ruling on the 2nd Amendment. There has also been stories of persecution of Christians in Canada, under the guise of Human Rights Tribunals. A little more on the subject.

Fuel prices continue to be high, and speculation is part of the cause. But the biggest cause is China's steadily increasing usage. When you want to blame someone for the high price of gas, some of the blame has to go to our willingness to trade with a nation that has no qualms about persecuting Christians and poisoning us. I would expect the price to stay near $4 a gallon for the rest of the year, then rise to over $5 a gallon next spring. This is just some preliminary forecasting.

I recently added some information on my policies for copying articles from this blog, and have begun a section on permanent links to that and other articles of enduring interest. The Ephesus Project is still on hold, but should be getting under way again soon.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Anemic ruling may be sufficient

Less than a week after the release of the ruling by the Supreme Court on the handgun ban in Washington DC, thousands of articles and blogs have already presented analysis of it. Many will have good analysis and some will be tripe. I have read virtually none of it, but I have put in some time looking at the ruling itself, and therefor will add my two cents to the growing mountain of analysis. I only pray that I may be clear and accurate.

The US Supreme Court ruling on the 2nd Amendment is overly narrow and shallow. After 99 days of deliberation (and apparently, some infighting) they came to a 5 to 4 decision, with the minority providing not just one, but two, dissenting opinions. Despite Justice Scalia writing 63 pages of well defined logic, the resulting majority opinion is downright anemic.

But it may be sufficient.

The actual ruling only applies to Washington DC. And only to the encroachment of a total ban on any working firearm. And only to those kept in the home. And it leaves an opening to force registration and licensing of ALL firearms.
(I must admit, at this point, that some of these limitations on their ruling are inherent in the underlying case brought before them - especially that the plaintiff sought ONLY permission to own a handgun in his own home for self defense, and was content to allow the District of Columbia to regulate and license that right as if it were a permission.)

But it decouples the first and second clauses of the 2nd Amendment. And that may be the key. It also clarifies that the word "people" means people, and does not have some cryptic satanic reverse meaning that can only be seen by liberals.

Already, several suits have been filed, attempting to force other cities to
grant those rights which are granted by God, and guaranteed by our Constitution. Many of these will be successful. Especially in the Fifth Circuit, where I live. Some of them will fail. Quite possibly, the Ninth Circuit might find some cryptic satanic message in the writings of the Supreme Court that allow it to ignore the plain meaning of Justice Scalia's writings.

But the decoupling of the first and second phrases in the Amendment and defining the word "people" to mean citizens, will dispel a lot of the liberal tripe that surrounds this subject.


Supreme Court Decision, pdf format

May it please be sufficient.

And if anyone wishes further analysis from me, I will try to oblige.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Supreme Court, Busy Day

Well, it is looking like a busy day in the blogging and talk radio worlds. The Supreme Court is supposed to return several decisions today, possibly the most important of which is the case of DC v Heller, that they deliberated on for apparently 99 days (since March 18th). Could they really be this slow? Most of their cases are resolved in 2 to 4 weeks, and this could only mean they are somewhat scared to make a ruling.

My previous entry on this subject and the article on the Supreme Court's simi-official news outlet provide details of what could be so difficult in this case.

Frankly, I could have saved them 3 months work by sending each of them copies of Webster's Dictionary and Black's Law Dictionary. Nonetheless, they will of course, try to hedge and limit the scope of their judgement. They always do. Maybe it's job security, but they always try to reach as narrow a judgement as possible.

The Supreme Court, and the Appellate Courts (about nine of them, known as the Circuit Courts) act like the keel of a boat - forcing the boat to keep as straight a line as possible, and keeping the Law of the Land as constant as possible. Without these courts, the country's laws could be very different every 4 years.

The Supreme Court news site is expecting a lot of traffic today, so I might wait an extra day to look into this. Then of course, it will take a few days for me to analyse it, so I will probably comment again on this in a week or so.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Persecution comes to Canada

Some who know me know that I support the Persecuted Church through some (admittedly, very small) donations to the Voice of the Martyrs.

One of the items they mailed me a while back, is a map showing in which countries and regions persecution takes place on a major or nationally sanctioned level. With only a couple exceptions, persecution of Christians in all parts of the world can be credited to Muslims or Communists.

Muslims try to cozy up to Christians in the US, by telling the public that we are not that much different, and that they are no threat to us, but anyone who looks at Muslims around the world knows better.

In addition, even while trying to cozy up to us, they try to undermine Christianity by trying to undermine the Bible as Truth.

But it seems persecution is happening closer and closer to home. In the US, the attacks are more subtle, such as Hollywood portraying us as weird, and the
occasional school administrator using Political Correctness to attack Christianity

However, in Canada (and several countries in Europe) the PC attack has gained an unprecedented foothold in the legal system. Much like the ACLU has been hostile to Christianity in the US, and gets paid - to be - hostile, there are so called government watchdogs in Canada who are being paid to persecute the Church under the guise of Political Correctness.

These are tribunals, kangaroo courts really, supposedly set up to help people get along in polite society. But in reality, they are being used to persecute Christians for practicing their religion. Yes, I know the article references a government sponsored attack on a Roman Catholic Priest, and that I always have very little good to say about that religion, but an attack on them by Muslims or Gays, (more here) sponsored by the Canadian government, is still an attack on all Christianity.

The pen is reputed to be mightier than the sword -- and probably is, over the longer stretches of history. Over the shorter stretches, the sword is definitive; or, as that great Leftist sage, Mao Tse-Tung, expressed it: "Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun."

So, if you think it can't happen here, just remember, it is already happening in Canada.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Red Cross

Well, the Red Cross disaster relief fund is all tapped out. Had to happen sooner or later. There has been, and will continue to be an upwards trend in disasters. And in some of those disasters, the "victims" have been freeloaders for years and will be freeloaders in the future.

Does that mean we shouldn't help? Of course not. But while I won't tell you not to give to the Red Cross (this is in contrast to my opinion on the United Way and the CFC where I said people should not give), I will say there are others who you might want to give to first.

The Red Cross will not get my money, but that is because I will give it to the Salvation Army first. There are three reasons. First, the Salvation Army is a Christian organization, second the Salvation Army tends to help people faster, and for a shorter period of time, third is the involvement of the Red Cross in Lebanon with Hezbollah (it was only a singe chapter, but that indicates they have loose moral restraint on where their loyalty lies).

I still tell people that charitable giving is not an option for a Christian (unless you are completely broke) but to be careful who you give to, lest your own generosity undermines the work Christians are here for.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008


While all the world oooh's and aah's over China's civilised facade for the Olympics. Let us not forget what a barbaric totalitarian regime they really are.

This is the 19th anniversary of the massacre at Tienanmen Square. There is now a concerted effort to rewrite history to remove the massacre from encyclopedic references. Some of the references I made to the massacre in an article three years ago have disappeared, and others have been rewritten.

However, the wikipedia article is still mostly there, although enough "related stuff" has been added to it that much of it is difficult to read.

There has been an ongoing campaign by Chinese sympathizers to rewrite the wikipedia article, as this quote shows:
"At present, the Western world still uses this event, which occurred almost two decades ago to break down the Chinese unity. This is a propaganda still used by the West. It is clearly obvious that China is the world's next superpower and has changed a great deal since 1989. However the West still insists that nothing has changed, even though an immense change has taken place."

If anyone thinks that China is becoming nice, think about this (especially the first half of this quote:
9 House Church Christians in Henan Detained for Helping Quake Victims; Two Bible Teachers in Shandong Sentenced to Criminal Detention
Then go to China Aid Association and read the rest of the article.
Here is another quote from the article:
"6 remain in detention under a charge of sending money to a disaster area in the name of a house church"
Note that this article is dated June 3rd. Yesterday, not ancient history.

Not that I am a real big fan of Hal Linsey (I do like him), but from time to time he puts things in a real good perspective.

For those too young to remember the massacre:

China's Olympic blacklist
Targets 43 'types' of religious infiltrators, media employees, 'cult' members
November 10, 2007
© 2008 WorldNetDaily.com

Beijing's 'new' patriotism fuels anti-Americanism
Dissident Harry Wu: Communist leadership as tyrannical as ever
---Posted: April 14, 2005

Friday, May 30, 2008

End of May Roundup

In the past, I used this as a collection point for things I had not gotten to in the month, but that isn't quite right. In the future, I will use it to rehash some recent (maybe more than a month) discussions, and maybe to add something to them. This hasn't been a real productive month, and I will blame it on the weather. (There has been a bumper crop of twisters in the Midwest, but what has really slowed me down is the heat and humidity here in Central Texas.) In addition, my old printer died and I had to get a new one. Kind of a daunting task. There are many models to choose from, and they all expect you to print a lot more than I do.

Blaming the weather is
kind of a cop-out,
but it beats blaming
the real problem - me.

At the end of April, I linked to a couple essays: one on Moral Bankruptcy (mostly in the system that corporations exist under) and another on The Insanity of Black Liberation Theology. Both are links to blog called Crunchy Conservatives. He gets right to the point in both essays, and shows the hypocrisy of one group and the beliefs of the other group that has them squarely at odds with real Christians.

Late last fall, I did an update on gas prices from my last summer's forecast. Even with the update (compensating for the ever weakening dollar), I came in a little low. In addition, gas prices don't seem to be slacking off any. I can say with confidence we will not see $3 a gallon gasoline again, and I expect right now to see $5 a gallon gas next May. (see update at bottom)

I finally got around to putting together a copyright and license page for this blog, but haven't put the finishing touches on it. (It is pretty good as is) Any time copyright is brought up, there seems to be some discussions of those who abuse it. And make no mistake, the government is right in the pocket of those who abuse the copyright system of law. What can we do. Not much. And if we do much, we had best keep our mouth shut about it. In the mean time, we can each make a promise to ourselves to not be one of the abusers. Like Google used to say "don't be evil" (I don't know what they say nowadays). For those of you who haven't gotten around to dealing with the copyrights on your own works, you might have a look at the Creative Commons license. (See links at right hand side of page)

UPDATE (7 June): Oil and gas prices have continued to climb almost daily. I am not sure what is happening here, but it means either consumption is still way up, or speculators are pumping money into the market. Who is consuming more fuel and/or where the speculators are getting the money to pump into the market is the question. Currently, oil is above $135 a barrel, and using my formula for finding gas prices, that would mean gas will go to $5.80 a gallon in a few months if the price of oil does not fall soon.