Thursday, February 28, 2008

End of Month Round Up

Well, it was a short month. With some wind and some cold and dry, it has been a constant danger of fires most of the month for most of Texas. Good news is a friend of mine is getting married tomorrow to a long time friend.

I added some new information about dictionaries to the Ephesus Project, and established what may be copied from this blog under the copyright laws.

Gas prices have begun to spike upwards. This is an entirely normal phenom, but in the climate of constant campaigning and constant political posturing nowadays, every penny is a feeding frenzy for the press.

Well, less than 30 hours until March.
Until then...

Monday, February 25, 2008

Of Heros and Slimeballs (monthly)

As I have said before, this feature will only continue as long as I can find a hero to feature each month.

Our hero of the month goes to the homeowner who shot one of three men attempting a robbery. This took three thugs off the streets of a small city in Washington - one permanently.

14 Feb 2008 Yakima Washington
YAKIMA -- Two men are arrested at gunpoint Thursday afternoon after a deadly shooting in a house in Terrace Heights.

Police say the shooting happened just after 11 a.m. on the 200 block of Observation Drive. They say three suspects entered a home. The homeowner and a guest were home at the time. The homeowner shot one of the suspects, who was dead when investigators arrived. The guest was also accidentally shot by the home owner, he has been treated and released from the hospital.

The other two suspects ran away from the scene to the Burger King on Yakima Avenue where they were arrested at gun point inside the restaurant.

Slimeball of the Month award FEB 2008 goes to:
"JG Wentworth" where you can "Sell your structured settlement or annuity payments" according to their own advertisements. I give this award both for the frequency of the ads (others are probably just as bad, but they come to mind because I hear them more often - advertising works)

As the analysis done here shows, they often take 30% to 50% of the money as a reward for this "service." I put service in quotes, since any financial councilor can tell you that giving a lump sum of money to someone who can't manage a cash flow will make them much worse off in the end.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Copyright Information

It should come to no surprise that I find the current state of affairs in the area of copyright law disgusting, immoral, and opposed to what the Constitution intended. The DMCA is both immoral and unconstitutional, providing power to a thuggish band of professional criminal families (such as the RIAA, MPAA, Sony BMG and other producers).

If anyone doubts these people are thugs, read this:

I only read the first few comments to that article, but something struck me. They think the RIAA and such will be fearful of their liability if their is a lawsuit. In the ruling against Sony for planting rootkits into thousands (maybe millions) of computers, the court ruled that damages would only be about $8 for each computer that was compromised. This, despite the fact that it takes about 2 days work to successfully remove such a rootkit. Not exactly something to strike fear into their hearts. Of course the lawyers that arbitrated the case got millions (in one of their documents, they listed their fees as a "reasonable" $245 dollars an hour.

Having said this, I must tell my readers what copyright law says about this blog. Up until recently, anyone wanting to cut and paste from this blog had to get written permission from me to do so, or the FBI could come knocking at your door, unless you are one of those thuggish bands of professional criminal families mentioned earlier. And the protection against that crime of spreading information without a license from the king lasts until about 70 years after I die. Since I despise such despotism, I guess I need to correct that.

I am placing all information on this blog under Creative Commons License. I looked at other, similar licenses (many worse, and a few better), but finally decided this would be the one easiest to use. Don't know how to "install" their logo on my blog, so a couple links in the linklist will have to do.

There will be more information, including some clarifications of license rights in the near future. For now, the following will suffice:

You may use portions of this blog, under the following guidelines:
You may copy whole articles as long as attribution is given.
You may draw material out of pages only if a reference (link) to the original article is included.
Comments by others are not part of my work, but may provide context therefore, quoting comments
is permissible, as long as the entire chain of comments for an article is used.
If you use any of this blog for commercial purposes, such as a book, you must
reciprocate by providing me a copy of the work.

UPDATE: More Thuggish Behavior from RIAA
Despite collecting an estimated several hundred million dollars in P2P related settlements from the likes of Napster, KaZaA and Bolt, prominent artists’ managers are complaining that so far, they haven’t received any compensation from the labels. According to a lawyer, some are considering legal action.
RIAA keeps settlement money - torrentfreak news
and Infringement - NY Post

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Bad news but good

The worst kind of good news is when someone you want to leave has no work and therefore must go back home. It should be noted the subject of this article is illegal immigrants, something you have to read almost all the way to the end to find out (and even then she calls them undocumented, to obscure reality).

Day Laborers Feel Foreclosure Fallout (EVELYN NIEVES 16 Feb 08)

GRATON, Calif. (AP) — The most desperate men park themselves on corners well before dawn, hoping for first dibs on jobs.

Most days, no one gets dibs — no one gets jobs.

Foreclosures are at record highs, home sales are at record lows and skittish consumers are cutting back on spending, all of which means contractors, construction crews and carpenters are no longer hiring. Neither are landscapers, cleaning services or homeowners.

Work, never a given for day laborers in the best of times, is almost nonexistent these days.

"These are the worst of times," would-be worker Ramon De la Cruz said recently in Spanish, noting that he had worked only one day in the previous six.

To read the rest of the article, you will have to chase it down somewhere else, since AP will likely only carry it for a couple weeks.

Still, the only real progress we will make in this matter will have to be after we build a fence, closing the entire southern border. Mexican officials (naturally) have condemned US plans for a 700-mile (1,125km) fence along the two states' border. But they seem to have no problem with their conscience when securing their own southern border.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Ephesus: Dictionaries, Part 2

Some weeks ago I posted an article on dictionaries, especially Bible dictionaries.

In that article, I mentioned some things I require of a Bible dictionary, like it must have pictures, and around 5000 or more entries. In addition, before I recommend a Bible dictionary, I check some of the words in it to insure it isn't way out in left field theologically. (The good news is that all of the dictionaries I have found so far meet this test, except the one that didn't have all of the words)

Currently, I look up the following seven words and read their definitions. They are essential to the central theme of the Biblical, and must be right to preclude some of the distortions of Biblical teachings that were common until the 70's.

Here are the seven words I currently look up:
- baptism - sin - Jesus - principalities
- wine - profane - elect(ion)

In addition to the above two tests for dictionaries, I have noticed there are several words that most dictionaries do not do justice. Many times the dictionary (even a Christian dictionary) will list the correct definition along with several popular but less correct definitions without distinction, just because those lesser definitions are used frequently in modern times. Words in the Bible have very specific meanings, and their dilution in today's language is an unfortunate side effect of our culture.

Here is a list of words and definitions I believe a beginning Bible student should know without having to rely on modern dictionaries. In the future, I plan to have a list of vocabulary words at the end of most articles, with definitions that will reduce confusion for the student.

Epistle - This is an old english term for a letter of serious matter. If you did indeed look up all of the words in Ephesians, you may have already found this one.

Church - Many people think this is a building. In the Bible, this word ALWAYS refers to a group of believers, or to all believers.

Fold - In old times, this was a protective corral, used to keep sheep safe from wolves and such, especially at night. To be in the "fold" means to have the safety of the group, under the watchful eye of the Shepard.

Love - NOT an emotion. This may be one of the most misunderstood words in the Bible. In virtually every instance, this word refers to decisions, work, and actions. It means "to do that which benefits the person who is loved." For instance, when a man is told to Love his wife - it is a command to do that which will benefit his wife.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Ephesus: Why? Part 2

Why Christians need to study the Bible.

At the beginning of January, I wrote about why I started this project, but I did not answer the other side of the question, which is "Why should a Christian put effort into reading the Bible?" You may ask why isn't praying and singing in Church enough?

Of course, the easy way out of this would be "why would anyone NOT want to read and study the Bible?" Anyone knowing my own history would see both, the answers to that question, and the hypocrisy of my taking that route.

While the Bible doesn't say that you cannot be a Christian without reading and/or studying the Bible, I would roundly assert that the Bible teaches that if you are able to study it, you have an obligation to try. As evidence, I will point you to:
Paul's letters to Timothy (a young pastor), where he says "All Scripture is profitable" and "Teach these things to faithful men." Also, the letter from Jude to Christians everywhere, telling us that "certain men have crept [into the Church] unnoticed" and that these pretenders will pervert the Scripture.

Indeed, the Word of God has always been under attack from pretenders throughout the centuries. In some times and places, the attack was obvious, as in the martyring of Christians under the ancient Roman government, and more recently under the governments of virtually all Islamic nations.

Many times the attack is more subtle, as in the perversion of scripture for profit by many former and current "televangelists" and others (such as cult leaders) who will use various passages of Scripture out of context to control their victims. (I should note here that not all televangelists are bad, but without knowledge of the scripture, how will you know) Chief among these pretenders who pervert the Scriptures is the Pope, (and no, he is not the Antichrist, but that is for another day) who I have written much about over the years.

Also, I should point out a little noticed phrase in the Gospel according to John (17:3) "and this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ" which begs the question: What better way to know Him than to read His Word.

The entire Ephesus project is based on a desire to learn the Bible, and the purpose of the project is to help the new student get the most benefit in the least amount of time (and without spending too much on books or other tools).

Friday, February 08, 2008

Mitt Romney sets the Bar

And he shows the world how to graciously bow out of a race.

He did it without compromising his beliefs, and without endorsing nor bashing any other Republican candidate. He let Us, and the world, know what is at stake and what is important (in his view, and mostly, in mine).