Monday, May 29, 2006

Print-On-Demand Self Publishing

I just found out about, and it looks amazing. What is it? Basically, it is self publishing from a company with ethics that seem comparable to Google. They give you full control over the process, and they let you set your own royalty fee (they take a small comission). There are no set up fees, and they offer a variety of formats, including other products like CD's and Calendars.

I plan on using this service for some projects that I have been dreaming about but considered impractical until now. If you're interested in expressing yourself, check out Lulu!

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Prints and Photographs Reading Room (Library of Congress)

I just found this amazing resource on the web:

Prints and Photographs Reading Room (Library of Congress)

It has a historical picture for just about anything. Plus, it seems to be growing daily :-)

I actually ran into this site when looking for a picture of someone preforming "Grecian Bends" (A fashion in the late 1800's).

Technology and Magic

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic -- A. C. Clark

Friday, May 26, 2006 vs

I think this says it all...

On, I see things like this:
<ul><li><a href="/a/party/chairman/index.php">Our Chairman</a></li></ul>

But on, I see this instead:
<td width="157" rowspan="3"><a href=""><img src="/images/RNC_indx_logo.gif" alt="" border="0" height="51" width="157" /></a></td>

I began by pondering about the choice of .com or .org for these sites. Making a quick review of the above we see that the democrats use .php and good html structure. The republicans are using table based layouts, gif images, and aspx.

Using the w3c validator to check their home pages, currently gets 27 errors, all simple things that I can easily see how to resolve, however gets 144 errors, almost all of which are grave sins in my eyes as a web developer, including the use of the long deprecated FONT tag, missing ALT attributes for accessibility on many images, and other critical syntax errors.

Judging from the navigation style, the republicans have horizontal dropdowns - very hard to use, normally... but they've opted to let them lag open for several seconds after moving the mouse off, which alleviates the problem somewhat. However, this causes the top portion of their page to become obscured and makes it difficult to click certain links in the page body. The democrats also use drop downs, not always the best choice, but they used the vertical style which is much more forgiving for people who have difficulty using the mouse.

Just look at the two pages.

My conclusion: The democrats hired a much better web designer.

Who eats oats?

Does eat oats and goats eat oats but little lambs eat ivy.
A kid'll eat ivy too, wouldn't you?

My wife contests that it should be:

Mares eat oats and does eat oats and little lambs eat ivy.

Yet another variation found on the web is:

Mares eat oats and goats eat oats but little lambs eat ivy.

I saw someone else faced with this quandry had proposed dropping the other animals entirely in lieu of giraffe.

Help? From whence should the absolute authority derive for this little rhyme?

P. S. I'm not necessarily looking for which one is older or more original, but which one is fundamentally better.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Americans United

Americans United: Home Page

Check this out. Many worthy articles of information are expressed on this site which strive to preserve people's Liberty.

Being "Left" on this issue (even if you take this side on no other) is beneficial to Religion, all religions. People who take the Right-wing side on this are a danger and are attempting to set precedents that essentially shoot themselves in the foot.

All Religious people should support separation of Church and State so that they may continue to act and worship as they please.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Horror and a Blind Eye

I recently read a news article from the Washington Post about Saudi Arabian school text books. I am sure that most people who read this article responded with horror or disdain. From a couple random blogs:

One can see how this sort of teaching is a recipe for terrorist violence.

As long as such hate-filled rhetoric is posed as religious truth, extremist and takfiri ideologies will have a fertile field in which to take root and grow.

Certainly, in light of the terrorism coming from the countries in the Middle East, this type of thought is understandable. But, I question the haughty righteousness of those people criticizing these teachings.

Consider these words from otherwise well meaning Christians (only one was taken from a fundamentalist group):

Most people are unsaved. This is confirmed in the Scriptures. Only a few inherit eternal life. When an unsaved person dies, they perish to a place called hell. In hell, they are tormented day and night in the flame. Their tongue, in some manner, is set on fire. ... Finally, they are cast into the eternal lake of fire, which was prepared for Satan and his angels. This is called "the second death." There they will be tormented day and night, for ever and ever. There will never be any hope of escape. There will never be any hope of release. This is the eternal destiny of most people.

Hell is the reason why we are so eager to share the Gospel. The only antidote for hell is the Lord Jesus Christ. We cannot be happier than when someone becomes saved.
The only people who have done good in God's sight are those who have received the righteousness of Christ; while they were still living on earth, they became saved.
It is an awful thing to contemplate, but if we die unsaved, there is no hope and no possibility of salvation.

If you believe in Hell, not just abstractly, but practically, if you believe the lost die and go to hell, if you believe your neighbors, your children, your parents and those you work with will die and go to Hell, let me ask you this? When was the last time you gave out a tract? When was the last time you preached on the street corner? I mean, if you really believe those people down at the bus stop, waiting for the bus, are going to die and go to Hell, when was the last time you stood there and spoke to them?
If you do believe in Hell, you need to find a street corner and preach on the subject of Hell. Build the church. Get people saved. Get them baptized. Get them serving God, so that they can win others. Do you really believe in Hell? Then it is time to get busy.

Hell is literally the second death, for the sinner will be forever separated from God, and, inasmuch as Gehenna is a place of darkness, this separation will doubtless isolate him from the companionship of unsaved friends as well.

150,000 People Will Die Today
The counter to the side is ticking off the number of people who have died since you opened this webpage. [a javascript weblet counting off a death a second] The vast majority of those people are entering Hell. Christ commanded his followers to share the Gospel with those who are perishing... who have you shared with today?

I think that this is enough! Before you make sweeping judgments about how evil another group of people are, take a good look at what you yourself believe. Let me juxtapose some words into the first grade version of Islamic hate doctrine (changes in italic):

" Every religion other than Christianity is false."

"Fill in the blanks with the appropriate words (Christianity, hellfire):

Every religion other than ______________ is false. Whoever dies outside of Christ enters ____________."

Would your first grade students get the answer right? And believe it?

There are people who are "fed up" with the way modern journalism tends to be saying "we're just as bad as they are". Well, in this case, we are.

Next time you are tempted to rail against another religion for intolerance, don't turn a blind eye to your own beliefs, and perhaps feel a little horror for what you profess to believe as well.

On a related subject, Adnan Siddiqi speaks about friendship between Muslims and non Muslims, including verses from the Quran and the Bible.

Monday, May 22, 2006

What religion did Jesus profess?

If Jesus Christ walked the earth this day, I am convinced that the so-called Christian churches would consider him to be a Pagan, and they would do him no better than the Jews did. Perhaps they would not bestow upon him again the status of Martyr.

What is accepted as a depiction of him today is largely a product of hundreds of years of corruption by the early Church fathers. Evil has been made to appear Good, and Good to Evil.

Could it be that the Neo-Pagans or Occultists are closer to following in Jesus' footsteps than those who claim his name?

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Quasi-Religious by Email

We're experimenting with a new feature - Just let us know if you want to receive our latest blog posts by email, and we'll mail them out to you. To let us know, just email

The da Vinci Code

I don't really see what the big fuss is about. Dan Brown's book is entertaining, speculative, and thought provoking. I believe it is clearly possible that Jesus Christ had a wife (or wives), and several children. If he did, this in no way damages my faith, and in fact may increase it. What more fundamental, instinctual type of love is there than love of family, and shouldn't our great exemplar be allowed to exhibit this? One reason this book does not "shake up" my beliefs, is that my faith rests squarely in the Father of all, The Great Progenitor of the Human Race, and I believe that He provided a plan whereby mankind can transcend beyond the physical death, and by whatever means he went about enacting this plan, it does not, to me, matter so much as to be offended if more light should alter the relatively minor details about Christ's life, or whether or not he died and resurrected in the precise way we have been told by the traditions of our fathers.

Google What?

After reading this article, I have decided that many people have an improperly founded faith in Google.

To take a small quote the article:
Users of the new Google-Talk-enabled Nokia device will be able to make calls -- either by talking directly into the device like a wireless handset or by attaching a headset -- to other users with the Google Talk software on their personal computers or handheld devices. Users won't, however, be able to make calls to regular phones.
Basically, Nokia is making this new tablet PC device, which holds some alluring cell-phone-like features, but they opted not to use a cell network, but instead to use the obscure Google Talk service. Google Talk, to anyone who is familiar (which, I think, is very few people), is an Instant Messenger service competing with Windows Messenger (Formerly MSN Messenger), AOL Instant Messenger, ICQ, and Yahoo! Messenger. My wife and I tried it one day, but were disappointed in the client software's lack of innovative features, and the total depravity of the userbase. Simply put, no one else we knew would have Google Talk, and everyone already has one or more of the other four. Why do we need yet another instant messenger? By embedding this into a tablet computing device, Nokia has chosen the smallest possible market. If I, as a computer geek type, cannot even find a person I know with Google Talk, how could any normal human being do so? Admittedly, there must be a few people onboard.

This seems to be a blind faith which has been put in Google, as if it will push its Google Talk service to be the mainstream IM protocol sometime within the next year. I have not seen any move to indicate that, and even if they tried, I am not sure if it would catch on, especially with their current feature set.

This, combined with Google's recent bumbling--oops, I meant bundling of the inadequate and agressive Symantec Norton Antivirus and Real Player with the supposedly 100% free software "Google Pack" which is likely to offend and put off many users who trusted Google implicitly in the past, makes the growth of their software products seem unclear.

Many things that Google does are EXCELLENT, however. They just need to be more attentive to their self-proclaimed mission to "Do No Evil", and other people need to choose things intelligently, rather than be willing to follow Google right off the edge of a cliff.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

The Four Elements of Man and God

I have spoken before on the blog about the Elements or "The Gifts." It is a topic favored by me. I feel inclined to share a few more things tonight.

In studying the elements, a progression exists which circles from South to East to West to North and possibly repeats. The elements are, in the same order: Fire, Air, Water, Earth, and the gifts are Seventy rods of Gold, Twelve pounds of Frankincense, Three pounds of Myrrh, and One Body (Adam or Christ, depending on which time through the cycle you are referring, the Alpha or the Omega)

The four words are: Light, Life, Love, and Law.

North. The Garden of Eden. Adam's Body. It is said in some old texts that the Law, or the study of the Torah was said to be man's sole original focus. Adam and Eve kept the Commandments of Jehovah until Eve partook of the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge.

South. Light. The golden rods shone forth light, which provided a way to see in the Cave of Treasures (see Apocalypse of Adam), and was the only gift taken from outside of the Garden.

East. Life, (or plural: Lives). The mortal existence, temporal needs, and life were represented by the prayers offered daily to God from the burning of sweet smelling incense upon the altar.

West. Love. The gift of Myrrh. Death. Sacrifice. Giving life to save another.

North (again). Law. Through the law, Christ becomes as Adam was in the Garden. The return to the exalted estate of paradise. The resurrection.

We have four interesting words here. Light, Lives, Love, Law.

I am not normally one to prescribe to Bible-code or linguistic coincidences, but this was very striking to me, and so I thought I would share. I do believe it is possible for God to create beautiful things through a long passage of time, and if Hebrew and English intermingle somehow here to achieve a more beautiful thing, then so be it. This could, however, be nonsense:

The "L" is the same shape as the Hebrew letter Gimel, which sounds like the word "Camel" and actually represents the "foot", to walk, to travel, and in modern calligraphic Hebrew it is drawn to look like the foot of a Camel. It is the contact point of Man and Earth, to tread upon the Ground. In Masonic symbology, it is the Architect's Square, representing the four corners of the earth.

In English, the letter "L" which has retained the shape of the Hebrew Gimel, differs in that it has transformed to now sound like the Hebrew letter "El". The Hebrew letter/word "El" means "God," from whence is derived Elohim, The Gods, or The Judges. The Hebrew letter/word "Vav" was used to represent the hooks of silver which fastened the curtain (yeriah) to the posts, thus enclosing the Old Testament Tabernacle. The sound Vav matches in English the letter "V" which is the Masonic Compasses, used to circumscribe around a point, to create circles. It can be said to represent the Heavens being opened to man, God reaching down to man.

If the Garden of Eden (or the Temple) is presumed to be the contact point between Heaven and Earth, the place where El and Vav meet, it is amazing to find that LIVES, LOVE, and LAW are all the same hebrew letters El and Vav (for W is equivalent to V in Hebrew, they could both have been pronunciations of Vav) LiVE LoVE LaW. LV LV LV. Whereas LIGHT is either El Tet or El Tav (someone with more Hebrew knowledge may be able to help me discern which). Tet is a letter that represents both Good and Evil. The Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil is what separated Adam from returning to the Garden. In primitive Hebrew alef-bet, the Tet is actually formed by blending the Vav and Zayin characters together and appears as either a snake coiled in a basket, or a man bowing to a crowned man wielding a sword. Tav is a stamp or a seal. Tav makes an impression on the Ancient of Days. The secret of the power that links worlds and generations together.

So we have LT, the one outside the garden.

Followed by LV, LV, LV. Life, Love, and Law. El Vav. Square and Compass. Urim and Thummim. Lux et Veritas. Light and Truth. Light and Knowledge.

These four words describe God, or the perfected Man. Light, being innate within us, is quite possibly what we are composed of, and is cultivated to become stronger. It is the first step, (remember, the Foot, the Camel) on our Journey into Enlightenment. Adding to this innate, eternal light, we receive the Breath of Life. It is a gift, and we must respect it. The power to Give Life is one of the attributes that makes a God, or a Man, special. These first two attributes are given to us freely. The next two must be developed within us by our own choice. They are Love and Law, perfectly equivalent to the holy principles of Mercy and Justice.

We start here with Light. Casual, every day, out in the world, walking upon the ground. Everybody has it. We become clothed with the other three as we begin to journey through the courtyard of the Temple, having Incense offered (prayer and supplications to Deity) and approaching the Holy Place and the Sanctom Sanctorum or Holy of Holies to worship God through emulation.

And once we attain all this, we will have returned to Paradise, which all men must pass through before they reach their final abode, and there we will start with Law, the highest of all, and after receiving it finally, we will be required of necessity to set it aside in order to progress further.

In the Spirit of Light and Revelation, it is my hope that this information has been of some benefit to you.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Theology - Achieving Balance

I want to comment a little, regarding the nature and character of deity...

I think anyone would be lying to themself to deny that a "higher power" exists. I believe in at least two such powers. One of them is impersonal, it is a spiritual force, and although it has a mind, and a body in the sense that it is comprised of everything residing within it, and those thingscontain intelligence and substance. This is what I personally call "The Universe". Some people take this same force and call it God. I believe that The Universe is both spiritual and physical, in fact, I believe there is no difference between these two things, except that the physical is more crude, and able to be discerned by our human intellect with the greatest ease. Spiritual is one of our words for anything so miniscule, or so complex that we cannot perceive the way in which it works. Prayer, for example, works by way of physical means, although it is such an amazingly miniscule process that we cannot (as yet) build machines to manipulate it, although I think science has admitted now that it does cause bodily changes and is healthful to engage in (although they would often prefer to attribute this process to other ideas, to a non-religious terminology.) I also believe in a God who is a personal being, with whom it is possible for us to communicate, who watches over us, guides and blesses us by manipulating The Universe in ways that we OFTEN cannot do (but that Jesus could do, and which he suggested we all could do if we had Faith enough). The reason we pray to this personal God, (for I think anyone praying, even if they acknowledge The Universe as God, are probably leaning towards the concept of a personal God any time they speak a prayer.) is because we relate to this personal God in a way that we cannot totally relate to The Universe. Quite simply, we are persons, we are not universes, although some of our parts resemble them, and so dwelling on The Universe although mind opening, can also become a way to lose our mind, if we fall too deeply into, to the point that we are excluding the personal God.

This is actually a relatively small part of the theology which I accept, but I think it is a profound part, and wanted to share it, but -- more importantly, I wanted to share this idea:

There is a Truth (with a capital T). Often we (the left side of religion or whatever "we" are) may use words which seem to deny it, and some of us may in actuality deny it, but to do so is an error - an overcompensation. It is a tendency which comes from rejecting what the orthodox, dogmatic religionists have propogated for years. I think we need to acknowledge this Truth, however, or else we are being less than honest. Let me defend my case here: If The Universe is "real", which I assert, and if all other "real" things reside in it, including physical and spiritual things, which I also assert (possibly expanding the meaning of the word Universe to be a little larger than the popular definition, to do so), those real things exist as an undisputable fact, whether or not we as imperfect humans, have a capability to perceive or document them. They are simply there. For the sake of simplicity (and this is oversimplicity -- not implying that this metaphor is part of my theology) let me call them pixels. If two people are examining the same pixel, The Universe is well aware of the color of that particular pixel, a human may perceive the pixel, or they may not. We perceive only a few that are around us. But, say two humans do perceive the same pixel. One may call it Aqua, and another may call it Light Blue, Sky Blue, or Teal. All of these humans may be seeing the same pixel. One trained in color may give it a more precise name. The Universe alone holds the numerical Red/Green/Blue value to it -- not because it is all knowing, but because it actually Contains that Pixel, it is part of it. Thus it
belongs to The Universe in that way. The Universe cannot "think" about it, beyond the thinking all other rational beings do to try to identify that Pixel's color. Ok, but all who see the pixel may disagree, and a colorblind person may even call it red. But, nonetheless, it is there, and it is a discrete, particular color. That is the Truth (capital). There is only one way things actually are. That way might not be a narrow pathway of a particular creed in the style of the old Catholic tradition, but there simply is a way that it really is. We can't throw that out the window just because we embrace the idea of Freedom of Religion, Free Thought, and Free Speech. It should be our constant hope to come closer to that Truth so that we have a real understanding and not something skewed by our own tunnel vision.

By acknowledging this, we are faced with some difficulties:

First, we must admit that it is possible for us to be outright wrong. I have been wrong on several things in the past, and I've tried to adapt as new information reaches me from any source (sometimes divine revelation). To admit this and to be willing to accept correction is Humility.

Second, we must recognize that each Truth-seeker has a different piece or pieces of the puzzle figured out, and that they deserve deep respect for the portion of it which they do have, the offering that they bring to the table. Sometimes it is hard for us to acknowledge what they have, because we become blinded by the error that they carry along with it. To see them for what they are, and to overcome our prejudice is to Love.

Third, (and it is really just the logical result of the other two ideas) we must not be afraid when others do point out our errors, (or what they imagine to be our errors.) These are actually opportunities for both parties to grow, to enable them to come closer to the truth.

Fourth, for the sake of others on the same road, we should never be afraid to boldly proclaim those things that we do have. Being afraid to share because of fear that we might offend others (who are really just like ourselves) only slows everyone down. Trying to share a piece of the Truth, isn't creating Dogma (of the bad variety), unless you let weaker recipients of your teachings believe it without somehow "earning it" along the way, and they begin to cling to it as though it is the Truth itself instead of a mere description of the Truth.

Divine revelation always has a little baggage attached, because it filters and expands as it passes through a human being (be it ourself, or someone else) before it is written down or otherwise communicated. Filtering, meaning that the person was not able to fully express it, and thus part of it was lost on the way. Expanding, meaning that the person embellished it with additions due to their own cultural and philosophical ideas in order to best express things in the words that make sense to them.

Every piece of revelation that ever has been recorded passes through this scenario with, I believe, the sole possible exception of real and actual voices heard and written down (because it *is* within fairly common human capacity to simply scribe what has been heard.)