Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Detailed and Accessible Explanation of Why Mac OS X (especially Leopard) Blows Any and All Windows OS's Out of the Cosmos

Jovial ad campaigns aside, here is a link containing specific, yet accessible information about the incontrovertible superiority of the almighty Mac: Mac OS X Leopard: A Perfect 10.

Monday, November 26, 2007

How Google Assembles Each Search Result

If you want a quick and dirty cross-section of how Google assembles its search results (by which I mean, how they select text and links for each "snippet", not the algorithm's by which Google ranks each result relative to one another) check out Matt Cutts' recent 7 minute video on the subject (for those who don't know, Matt is the original "googleguy", the face of Google, etc.). I guess it just might be interesting, even for those of you outside the Search Industry.

The Anatomy of a Search Snippet

Saturday, November 24, 2007

4 Observations of the Church in Acts

Acts 6:1-3 reads
Now in these days when the disciples were increasing in number, a complaint by the Hellenists arose against the Hebrews because their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution. And the twelve summoned the full number of the disciples and said, “It is not right that we should give up preaching the word of God to serve tables.  Therefore, brothers, pick out from among you seven men of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we will appoint to this duty.
I notice 4 things about this passage.

1. The most obvious is the Apostolic recognition of the principle that preaching God's word is a non-negotiable for those to whom such a duty is entrusted.

2. The next is that serving, especially the needy, is also a must.

3. The third is that division of labor regarding these matters was embraced.

4. But the fourth thing I notice about this is change. This early local church was doing things one way, and when something came to their attention, they changed, and began doing things a new way, according to the principles that they all agreed upon. What got them to where they were wasn't sufficient to move them forward.

QUESTION: Which of these four observations is to be emulated, if not all? Why?

Friday, November 23, 2007

Black Friday's Things to be Thankful For

My wife just genuinely gave me the choice between watching "You've Got Mail" and "The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers". Also she made pop-corn and I grabbed a stout from the fridge. She is now knitting whilst I do a little logic work. Earlier we got to watch the Coeur d'Alene lighting ceremony from the super-exclusive deck on the roof of the Coeur d'Alene resort. My book on church polity came in the mail today. My computer case and filing cabinet came earlier this week. Not bad.

How to Tell if it is 10 Degrees or Less

If when you inhale through your nose, your nose hairs literally freeze. This is not a joke.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

10 Things I Learned While Hunting on Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving! I am thankful for your readership. To whom am I thankful? I am thankful to God for all the necessary conditions which enable to you be my reader, and I am thankful to you for each of the decisions you made that brought the antecedent degree of causation to a sufficient level to determine your reading of my blog.

I woke up at around 4:30am. I accompanied my father-in-law Jeff, brother-in-law Ryan. and (step?) brother-in-law Michael on a hunting trip. Mike shot a 4x4 white tail deer with a rifle. I saw it gutted, skinned, and decapitated.

10 Things I learned:

1. It is important to step softly
2. Don't make any noise while tracking deer
3. You can learn a lot from deer and elk tracks
4. Their is utility in stepping in coyote urine
5. It is imperative to not make noise while walking
6. Shhh!
7. Always hunt with the wind in your face
8. Don't move
9. Don't make noise
10. All about bullets

On a related note, an entry from this blog is #1 in Google for the query "types of logical evidence". It doesn't take much to rank for philosophical posts I guess. I should capitalize on that somehow.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Has the US military presence in Iraq brought a net benefit to the world?

Iraq says the worst is over in Baghdad, thanks to America's help, according to this LA Times article (viewing it requires a free registration to the website).

I have shifted toward agnosticism regarding so many of the issues related to our military presence in Iraq (I opt for neutral terms like "military presence" over emotionally charged terms like "invasion" or its rival, "liberation"). Moreover, I admit to ignorance and therefore agnosticism about way more political issues than philosophical issues (and wisdom encourages a precautionary neutrality regarding most philosophical quandaries).

I do admit to a few key opinions, however. Such include a tentative commitment to the specific proposition: if we completely and abruptly withdrawal our military presence from Iraq, then more harm will be done than prevented.

I am interested in hearing from my readers about matters related to the military action against terrorists primarily and geographically taking place in Iraq.

Comment on whether sending forces into the country was a good idea, and whether the matter has been handled properly since the decision. What would you have done differently?

I promise not to strip your comment out of its context and cite in an inflammatory post meant to undermine the greater political position of which each comment represents a part. But I reserve the right to make my own reaction known, with earnestly attempted humility and rhetorical clarity.

Keep OS X Applications Up to Date

Know about the App Update and Widget Update widgets for OS X? They are handy tools for keeping your software up to date. I use them once in a while.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Abortion and Torture: Call it Both Ways

I assert that if a fetus at a given time is a human person then it is morally reprehensible to abort it at that time. Such an act would literally constitute murder. The circumstances of the pregnancy are irrelevant to the morality of the abortion.

Think about it the following way. What are the possible major effects of rape? I assert 1. physical harm, 2. emotional harm, and 3. an unwanted pregnancy. Now imagine a woman is dealt these things another way: a man assaults her on the street, thereby causing physical and emotional damage, and then he places his own newborn infant in her arms and leaves. Is it morally acceptible for that woman to kill that baby, since she doesn't want it, and was wronged in the process of receiving it?

If you say no, and it is true that a fetus at a certain time is a human person, then it is morally reprehensible for even a rape victim to abort her fetus at such time (what would be the difference between the woman who killed the unwanted baby and the woman who killed the unwanted baby inside her?). The circumstances don't alter the morality of something that is inherently, fundamentally evil (that is, if and only if there is a such thing as "persons", and "morality", and the aborted fetus was in fact a person at the time of its death).

But what does this have to do with torture? Here is the crux of my comparison: if an "interrogation technique" is inherently, fundamentally morally wrong then the circumstances cannot change that fact.

It doesn't matter who did what. If a behavior or intention is inherently wrong, then it is wrong. I am not claiming anything too revolutionary here - I am simply calling for logical coherency.

I call our Executive branch to transparency (at the very least to its Congress) regarding its interrogation techniques. Some entity other than the one carrying out the interrogations needs to thoroughly evaluate each and every practice and properly decide whether each constitutes a behavior that is inherently morally wrong. And such a conclusion ought to be relevant, precise, concise, clear, complete, and actually binding.

Watch this informational waterboarding video <--click there.

Coveting in Costco

Steve Reeves and I walked through Costco to get bananas and chicken. We ate samples, and spent probably 40 minutes looking at books. The book isle is what incited the coveting.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Uber-Cheap PC With a Catch

A $200 desktop PC with Linux pre-installed? 'Tis true mates.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

OnyX and Chax Leopard Betas

Onyx, a system maintenance and preference utility for Mac OS X just released a Beta version for Leopard, as did Chax, an iChat plugin that adds a couple useful features.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

What is "Ontology"?

"Ontology" is the philosophical study of being. Ontology attempts to answer questions like the following:

Does X exist?
What does it mean for X to "exist"?
What is the being of X like?

There is a lot of rich discourse questioning whether one should include the nature of numbers or moral facts in one's "ontology". What else should be included in one's ontology, and how ontological inquiry should be gone about is also the topic of much debate.
ontology |änˈtäləjē|
the branch of metaphysics dealing with the nature of being.

ontological |ˌäntəˈläjikəl| |ˈɑntəˈlɑdʒəkəl| |ˈɔntəˈlɑdʒəkəl| |-təˈlɒdʒɪk(ə)l| adjective
ontologically |ˌäntəˈläjik(ə)lē| |ˈɑntəˈlɑdʒək(ə)li| |ˈɔntəˈlɑdʒək(ə)li| |-təˈlɒdʒɪk(ə)li| adverb
ontologist |-jist| |ɑnˈtɑlədʒəst| |ɔnˈtɑlədʒəst| noun

ORIGIN early 18th cent.: from modern Latin ontologia, from Greek ōn, ont- ‘being’ + -logy .

-Oxford American Dictionary
Further reading:
Logic and Ontology (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)
Ontology - Wikipedia

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

The Second Amendment

...protects the right to keep and bear arms. And yet I am not permitted to purchase a nuclear submarine.

You see, we already regulate arms. Now we are just arguing over where to draw the line.

If you really want to say that any and all gun control is unconstitutional, you have to be willing to allow me to purchase an Intercontinental Ballistic Missile. And don't think I won't.

All I ask for is logical coherency.

An Easy Writing Tip

"Whether" can almost always replace "whether or not".

Monday, November 12, 2007

Motivational Posters for the Emerging...

David showed me the page from which this image came. Hilarious - admit it.

Smaller Governments

...are more efficient than larger governments. But you know what's inefficient? Anarchy. It's not about relative size; it's about optimal size.

Democracy not the gospel, so stop pretending.

An Attempt at Autonomy

Out of a value for discipline in lifestyle and efficiency in advancing toward goals, I have decided to regiment my week. For this week, I am going to wake up at 6am and pray until 6:30am. Then I will eat breakfast and enter into my "brick". This consists of two hour workouts on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. But on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday it will consist of reading and writing for two hours. After my brick I will get reoriented and read the sections of the Bible assigned by the "Read the Bible in a Year" program. This reading should be finished by 9:30am. After this point I will work until lunch at noon, during which time I may use the internet for personal tasks, such as reading and writing blogs, and participating in online social networks. At 1pm I will continue working until 6pm or 7pm, depending on my evening plans. There are details and various moving parts I will leave unexplained. Next week will be different.

This morning I got up at 6am, with the hope of cycling the entire circumference of Hayden Lake. I did, but it was much farther and colder than I thought. 36 miles. Up and down significant hills (I can tell you from experience that this is a more challenging course than the Coeur d'Alene Triathlon bike course). Below 4o degrees Fahrenheit. And it rained on the tail end of my trek (I am lucky it didn't snow).

I saw a good number of horses, but no deer. However on a former bike ride through the hills by Coeur d'Alene Lake, I saw three distinct wild deer.

I finished at 10am (I started at 7am, as planned), and I was hungry enough to eat a second breakfast ("I am a Hobbit in all but size"), and that's why I am taking a late lunch and posting this after 1pm.

Fascinating, I know.

Friday, November 9, 2007

How to Reform Education the Right-Wing Way

My father believes that right-wing methods are the best way to achieve what liberals say they want. In the case of tonight's issue I assert that right-wing methods are also the best way to achieve what conservatives say they want.

Conservatives say they want to improve the quality of education in America. To achieve this however, our conservative federal government has only further tampered with the system and created more problems than they solved.

I prefer the right-wing way. Instead of threading tax money through the offices in Washington DC, which only sends it back down to schools with strings attached, we should short-circuit the process by letting each state control its own education system. Why not let states and local representatives decide how best to use funds to increase their own community's academic achievement?

Exercise: Read the 10th amendment to the document literally constituting the United States of America. Then search for the word "education" in it.

But it's not just that the constitution reserves the power of education for the states and the people, it's that there is a good reason it does so.

G Funk

Where rhythm is life, and life, is rhythm.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

My Dad's One Liners: Vol. 1, Idealism

I once asked my dad,
Which is more idealistic: communism or capitalism?
To which he replied,
That's like asking "which is more of a fruit: an apple, or an orange?"

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Mac (+ PC) Bible Software

I am a MacUser: first by blood, and then by preference. But I also want some decent Bible study software. So I surveyed the landscape. I here present my findings.

It basically comes down to this: Bible Desktop is the best free application, and Quickverse Bible Study White Box for Mac looks like the best affordable purchasable option.

Free Online Bible Study Tools (Mac + PC):
This site has Bible study tools, Bible search tools, theological essays, lesson helps, and more. It is also home of the New English Translation, or "NET" Bible: a brand new, ground-up translation available for searching, printing and distributing at no charge.
This is primarily a Bible keyword search and passage lookup tool. It is fast and easy to look up and link to individual passages.

Unbound Bible
This is an excellent Bible search tool, which enables you to perform a little bit more complex queries. There are also schedules for you to read through the Bible in a year, and some other related Bible study tools.
This is the "e4" group's free software website. They give away a lot of free CD's, but request modest donations. You can also simply purchase their software and it's extensions. The software not only provides a platform for Bible study, but for searching and studying other great works by strong historical and contemporary Christian authors. As far as I know, their program and it's modules are only available for PC, but it is worth mentioning for those MacUsers running Boot Camp, VMWare Fusion, or Parallels.

Aside from these search and study tools, you can look up trusted names to get access to some pretty good resources. For example, John Piper's site,, has a wealth of insightful and accessible tools, sermons, lesson helps, podcasts, links, and videos.
Free (mostly) Mac Bible Software:
Bible Reader (Mac)
This is an application that you can download for free, along with several (admittedly archaic and obscure) Bible translations. The benefit to this is that you can perform word and passage searches while offline.

MacSword (Mac)
This is the Mac equivalent of PC's eSword. It is another free application that can search free Bible translation downloads. The selection is quite a bit better than Bible Reader's, and it includes lexicons, lessons, concordances, and more (even foreign language Bibles). There are also some premium modules available for purchase.

Bible Desktop (Mac)
This platform reads "Sword" project modules, like eSword and MacSword. It's also free. Of all the free Mac bible applications, I like this one the best, mostly because of the interface, and also because of the convenience of finding and installing modules.

Bible Time (Linux)
This is a Linux Sword Project module reader.

You can find some other information about some of these programs here.
Bible Software For Sale:
Logos (Mac [coming soon] + PC)
Logos needs no introduction. It is probably the most powerful and widely used Bible study software. This bad boy is a behemoth. Apparently they are working on a Mac version.

Bible Works (Mac? + PC)
This is a respected Bible study program (probably second only to Logos), which is apparently only available for PC's (let me know if I am wrong). But again, worth mentioning for you MacUser's running Windows (or you PC owners out there - I don't expect you to name yourselves, you fiends).

Accordance(Mac + PC)
This is a powerful alternative to Logos and Bible Works, and it includes tools for studying the original language, commentaries, searches, and other study tools. It is available for Mac.

GramCord (Mac? + PC)
This looks like a tool primarily for Hebrew and Greek scholars. However it appears as though it would be hugely beneficial for us regular folk, too. I've heard that it is either originally for Mac, and/or that the Mac version is actually better than the PC version, but I can't sort things out by browsing their website. I can't even really tell whether a Mac version still exists. Let me know if you know anything about GramCord for Mac.

iLumina(Mac + PC?)
This looks like a very interesting study tool, including a lot of the standard features with one major exception: it is animated. The site is at least worth a look. And it is available for Mac.

Quickverse Bible Study White Box for Mac
Quickverse (Mac + PC?)
While I have used MacSword in the past, and I have downloaded other free tools, this is the Mac bible software I would eventually like to own personally. The price is fair, it looks pretty powerful and intuitive to operate, and it is fully native and Universal Binary. QuickVerse basically looks like the only full-blown Mac bible software available for purchase and decently priced. The Gold Version of QuickVerse Bible for Mac looks like the best choice for the really serious layman.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

No Rule Has an Exception

Max Clark quoted a young boy who had said that it is wrong to say that something "works in theory, but not in reality". You just have a bad theory.

Last night a similar thought dawned on me.

It is wrong to say that something is "the exception, not the rule". You just have a bad rule.

Why hasn't there been a GPhone announcement?

Disappointed that Google never got around to announcing the GPhone? Let me introduce you to Android:

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Abortion: Acceptable or Reprehensible?

Whilst concealing my own position on the matter, I here assert that the question of the moral acceptability or reprehensibility of abortion at a given stage of pregnancy comes down to exactly what this LA Times writer says:
The question is... whether the fetus... is a human person, and when it becomes one.

- Garry Wills
It seems to me that if a fetus at a given time is a human person, then at such time it is morally reprehensible to end its life. Doing so is literally the same thing as murdering an infant.

However, if a fetus at a given time is not a human person, then it is morally acceptable to remove it, thereby ending its growth. This would be just like clipping fingernails or getting a haircut - or rather, like removing a cyst inside a woman's abdomen.

If you truly believe that a fetus becomes a human person at conception, then you have to be willing to recognize that your view entails that women who get abortions are having their babies killed, and that doctors who perform abortions are murdering infants. As one who has made up his mind in this way, Don Johnson says,
...if it is proper to punish people for hiring someone to commit murder, than it is proper to punish mothers for hiring someone to kill their babies. To do any less is demeaning to women.

- Don Johnson
On the other hand, if you truly believe that fetuses do not become human persons until a particular point, you should then talk accordingly. To articulate this point, a man who concurs with Don Johnson, comments on a recent episode of "The View":
...Goldberg's assertion that few women want to have an abortion flies in the face of the reality that nearly 50 million children have been aborted since the Roe decision in 1973.

But Goldberg's self-serving declaration that women who choose to have an abortion deserve our reverence takes the cake. Abortion champions have never been able to explain why they believe abortions should be rare if the unborn is not a human life, or even a "potential" life. If we're dealing merely with an unviable tissue mass, why is the decision to remove it "the hardest decision that a woman ever has to make"?

Either it isn't a life or potential life, which renders the decision no more difficult than that to remove a suspicious mole, or it is, which makes abortion absolutely unpraiseworthy and worse. But in our upside culture, we are not only forbidden to condemn such actions in willful blindness to their moral content but exhorted to celebrate those who engage in them. The unreasonableness of the liberal position is further exposed by reference to singer Barry Manilow's recent cancellation of an appearance on "The View" when the producers wouldn't accede to his demand to remove Hasselbeck from the set because he found her views "dangerous" and "offensive." What possible danger do Hasselbeck's views -- as opposed to Goldberg's and Manilow's -- represent to anyone? Once again, we see liberal "tolerance" on display.

- David Limbaugh
If you are committed to the proposition that a fetus at a given time is not a human person, then you ought not refer to its carrier as a "mother", or assert that the decision whether to abort it is difficult. You cannot treat crimes that end such a fetus' growth as "murder".

Listen to this:
FOURTH-year medical student Megan Lederer recently helped deliver a premature baby at barely six months gestation. The newborn was tiny, unimaginably fragile, but she survived.

Caught up in the moment, Lederer didn't think about the implication for her chosen career. Later, though, she wondered: Could I have aborted that pregnancy?

- Stephanie Simon
Given the belief in persons, morality, and the evil of murder, the moral acceptability or reprehensibility of abortion hinges on whether and when a fetus is a person.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

The Two Tiers and Two Domains of Philosophy

There are two tiers of philosophy, and two domains of philosophy. These lines of distinction cut across each other.

The first tier of philosophy is one that everyone should work hard to stay on: simple, clear thinking.

The second tier of philosophy is professional; some men choose to spend their lives dedicated to learning how to think, thinking, and teaching others how to think. Professional philosophy usually involves specialized jargon, to facilitate precision and speedy discussion.

The first domain of philosophy is “a priori”. This means of reasoning is built on pure thinking, without any observation. A priori arguments apply clear analysis to thoughts that can be found without inspection of the external world (for example, “2+2=4”, and “I exist”).

The second domain of philosophy is “a posteriori”. This means of reasoning is built on observation. A posteriori arguments apply clear analysis to data gathered by inspection of the external world (for example, “a man named Thomas existed in the first century and was convinced that he had seen Jesus alive, after Jesus had died”, and “at 5:07 PM, on August 26th, 2007, it was 71 degrees Fahrenheit inside Java on Sherman, in downtown Coeur d’Alene, Idaho”).