Do What You Love

Jun 19

germanheit:

This is the national German soccer team. Hilarious!
Let’s keep our fingers crossed for tonight - Germany vs. Denmark! :)
(found on facebook)

I love this team.

germanheit:

This is the national German soccer team. Hilarious!

Let’s keep our fingers crossed for tonight - Germany vs. Denmark! :)

(found on facebook)

I love this team.

(Source: germanheit)

Mar 24

Big Cat Love: Apple OS X’s 10th Birthday

Today, Apple should be cutting a big ol’ cake for their ten-year-old operating system. This is the beautifully designed, sturdy, safe, and easy-to-use OS that caused many of us to switch. Apple’s hardware is sleek and gorgeous, no doubt, but it’s the internal workings that really make Apple soar beyond the Windows-ridden PCs, despite the fact that you can usually spot traces or technically attempts by Microsoft to imitate Apple’s OS (e.g., Tiger for Vista and Leopard for 7). Even still, Apple’s operating system remains the best on the market.

My personal story began in 2005. I used a Compaq laptop at the time with Windows XP of course. Well, after repeated blue screens (dead horse beating), immense lag, and the loss of many hours of work that I put into my Greek exegetical papers, I decided enough was enough. That summer I received the magical 12” PowerBook G4. It came installed with Tiger (10.4), missing Panther (10.3) only by months. I was blown away. Since then, I’ve never wanted to look back. In fact, during my time at Apple, I was able to be a part of the release of Leopard (10.5) in 2007. Now I have Snow Leopard (10.6) installed and am eagerly awaiting Lion (10.7) which will be released this summer. I’ve yet to be disappointed. Thanks Apple for your wonderful cats!

Cheetah (10.0) - March 24, 2001
Puma (10.1) - September 25, 2001
Jaguar (10.2) - August 24, 2002
Panther (10.3) - October 24, 2003
Tiger (10.4) - April 29, 2005
Leopard (10.5) - October 26, 2007
Snow Leopard (10.6) - August 28, 2009
Lion (10.7) - Coming Soon!

TUAW has posted videos of each of the releases (save Puma) which show the evolution of OS X: http://www.tuaw.com/2011/03/24/happy-10th-birthday-os-x/ . They’re worth watching, so take a look at a great heritage!

Mar 23

Protestants love Latin-ish

In Protestantism, you only have to know six Latin words to be in the gang. Obviously, there’s “Sola” and then one of the biggies that follows it: “scriptura,” “fide,” “gratia,” “Christus” (technically, “Solus Christus”), or “gloria” (once again, technically, “Soli Deo gloria”). Well, it looks like we’ve stepped into uncharted territories and decided to try out another Latin word: “cultura.” It appears to have been too big of a leap for our Latin prowesses. What this conference title really says is “Scripture Alone or Agriculture Alone?” I’m not sure why we’d have to decide between those two. Perhaps they meant “humanitas” since that’s probably the closest Latin expression to our English word “culture.” Anyways, it sounded scholarly, right? The Reformers would be so proud.

Mar 16

Google’s Mobile App (iOS): Better, Buggy, and Still Missing Finance

Google just released a much welcomed update for their iOS app and a new moniker: Google Search for iPhone. It has a much crisper interface, and is a bit easier to use. I might actually use it now rather than searching within Safari.app. When you first open the app, you see a big Google, and underneath you see a break in the page with nothing below it. I thought this was unsightly and useless. It’s to temporarily show the results of whatever you’ve recently searched in the search bar, even though after you’ve submitted the search the big Google recedes and the whole screen becomes the desired search results. There’s also an option of swiping to the right to reveal specific categories in order to narrow down your search: Everything, Places, Images, News, Shopping, Videos, Updates, Blogs, and Discussions. I thought this was a neat feature. At the bottom of the screen there’s an “Apps” button where you can access more of Google’s apps, continuing its attempt to be a one-stop-shop (e.g., Gmail, Calendar, Docs, Talk, Buzz, etc.).

I only found two bugs, which is expected I suppose. Of those restrictive search categories I mentioned, all of them allow the user to swipe back to that category column on the left while viewing the full-screen containing the search results except for Images and News. Once in the Images-only category, attempting to swipe back to the other categories doesn’t work and actually doesn’t budge. The reason, I suppose, is so that the user can wipe to the left to reveal other pages of images, and then be able to swipe back again; yet it makes no sense why they wouldn’t enable the user to swipe back to the other options from the first page (so maybe not a bug as much as a missing feature). The same goes for the News-only selection, but only in the first page of the search results. Unlike in Images, the News-only mode actually moves with your finger as if it’s going to let you get back to the other options (even partially revealing them) but then quickly bounces back; and it doesn’t allow for swiping to the left to reveal the following pages as does Images…which would be a great feature. For both, the user must swipe down to reveal the hidden big Google and then swipe again to the right on that upper-half of the screen.

Yet, I can handle all of that. What I can’t understand is why Google Finance continues to be neglected. To me, this omission is the most frustrating. I use it more than any other service except Gmail. If you’re into stocks, it’s immensely valuable. Come on Google! You included orkut and not Finance?! The U.S. only amounts to 2.2% of its user base! Oh well, you win Brazil with your 48%. Hopefully us “few” will be given our in-app Finance app one day. Hopefully.

Mar 15

Japan in View

At times it is fairly difficult to even moderately grasp what is going on across the world; for instance: the happenings in Japan right now. We know that an 8.9 earthquake struck and caused a tsunami that has devastated the country. Still, it is far away and if we personally haven’t experienced either it is even harder to imagine the devastation. The danger is that we can become indifferent as a result. Here are two links that have aided me visually and have painted much more perspective on the dire situation.

The first requires you to have a Facebook account (unfortunately). It is a six minute HD video showing the destructive power of the waters wiping out everything in its path.

http://www.facebook.com/video/video.php?v=1605260179420&comments

The second is a number of aerial photographs that you can scroll over to see the before and after shots.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/events/japan-quake-2011/beforeafter.htm

Obviously, unless you live there, the severity will never be understood. However, this helps (at least it did for me).

Also worth noting again, as I did on Twitter, is the great service Google provided by developing a Person Finder site for Japan; what an awesome thing.

http://japan.person-finder.appspot.com/?lang=en

Mar 13

Conceivably Confused About AAPL

ConceivablyTech writer, Wolfgang Gruener, posted an article on March 11th entitled Why Did Apple Upgrade the iPad, Exactly?. In it he stated that he and his colleagues didn’t quite get (or conceive I suppose) why the iPad 2 is being bolstered by Apple as “even more magical than the first generation.” Rather, he considers this installment to be more of an iPad 1.5, as “it does not deserve the second generation name” and that “deliver[ing] updates are no-brainer features for any tablet – but it delivers them on a level of quality we did not know Apple was willing to compromise on.” His conclusion: “We believe that Apple may actually shoot itself in the foot with the iPad 2…The iPad 2 is vulnerable. The key weaknesses of the original iPad have not been fixed. Apple’s magical tablet may be more vulnerable this year than we believe.” These short-comings or weaknesses he speaks of are lackluster cameras, “no USB or SD port and no 4G wireless option,” and to beat that decayed horse, no Flash. How could Apple make such oversights? Why would anyone who bought the first iPad even consider getting this one? Surely this thing should be practically DOA.

Let’s start with his qualm with the cameras. A great many people didn’t buy the first iPad because of its lacking a front-facing camera for video chat and conferencing. Now there is one. No, the cameras aren’t great. Why would they need to be? How many people are really going to go around snapping stills wielding an iPad? Of course they’re not. People are going to pull out their phone or camera. The back camera is simply somewhat of a perk. The front-facing camera is the real issue, and it gets the job done well enough. Adding an expensive camera for negligible quality improvement in video chat doesn’t seem to be a wise move if the cost of the iPad is to remain the same. The same goes with the retina display (which is actually my biggest complaint about the iPad 2). That display would not be cheap, and once again the cost of the iPad would have to increase. The complaint about the lack of a USB port doesn’t hold water. What are you going to put into or take out of the iPad other than photos? There aren’t folder and file systems in the same manner as there are with computers. Everything is stored in apps. App everything. The SD slot would have been nice, but if you’re doing serious photography, you’ll probably want a computer on hand anyway; but sure, it would have added some convenience…not a deal breaker though. Lastly, Apple will continue to wait on the 4G option. It won’t jump into a system that isn’t fully supported (even if it’s solely Apple’s opinion on the manner).

Here is the problem with his rationale. He is somewhat, if not totally, confused about the society in which we live. We are consumerists above all else. We adhere to comfort and convenience as the highest priority, and will buy anything that will alleviate the tough things of life; like having to hold a 1.5 pound tablet for too long or having to wait an extra two seconds for an app to load. The earthquake and tsunami that devastated Japan the same day iPad 2 was released didn’t slow down anyone in the U.S. from seeking out that coveted gizmo. In fact, Apple could have simply released the same iPad in white and there would have been lines out the door as well. It doesn’t take much. It’s new (even just in color), therefore we must have it.

Why would Apple tout that the iPad 2 was “even more magical” than the first iPad? Really? Would it have worked better for Apple if they had announced that the iPad 2 was really only slightly superior than the first and that the improvements were minor at best. The specs are better, but you probably won’t noticeably feel the upgrade. Apple gets people excited about their toys; of course they’re going to talk them up! What they did was clearly enough to get a great many first gen owners to upgrade as well as those who waited to take the plunge. To me that seems like pretty good strategy. The iPad by its very nature is superfluous. At this point in time, it’s not a stand-alone device (i.e., you still have to have a computer). Yet, the masses keep coming back to buy the latest and greatest that Apple has to offer. Why release an iPad that isn’t miles ahead of the competitors? Apple doesn’t need to. The product just has to have something (anything!) different from the first one and those who bought it and those who waited will come running. Thus, once again, Apple maintains 80% of the tablet market. The competitors are off to a huge disadvantage. You can guarantee that if Apple releases iPad 3 this fall even those who bought the two previous generations will buy it, especially if it has a retina display. Why? The iPad is the easiest to use and Apple has the marketing prowess to get a person excited about a toothpick.

All in all, I think his critique was quite literally lame and weak. I’m very surprised that The Motley Fool actually reposted it (unless of course some are scrambling to short the stock).

Mar 08

Friends of Coal

Drive down any road in West Virginia and you’ll be hard pressed not to see a “Friends of Coal” sticker on a bumper or window. I usually see two to three per day. My personal favorite is the obnoxious full silhouette of a coal miner crawling which spans the whole length of the rear window and is normally found on trucks; at least in my experience. The question is, what does it mean to be a friend of coal? Is that the same thing as saying a person is coal-friendly? Does it really mean support your local sedimentary rock?

Coal is big business for West Virginia. According to an estimate by the West Virginia Office of Miners’ Health, the coal industry provides 30,000 jobs. It also generates half of the electricity used in the United States, and 99% in West Virginia. Since West Virginia’s coal industry affects so much of the United States and almost all of itself, why are we the lowest or just about the lowest on the economic totem pole? Who is pocketing that money? Both US News and the Kauffman Foundation ranked West Virginia as the No. 1 worst state to start a business. I digress. The economic aspect is a topic of a much later discussion. The topic at hand which I got side-tracked from deals with the “friendliness” of coal.

Plainly put, coal is a killer. 2010 was a stellar year for casualties in the coal industry in West Virginia alone, with 35 fatal accidents and 828 non-fatal accidents. The death rate is so bad that the Onion just released a “humorous” (albeit right-on-target) article that all of West Virginia celebrated because 32 people died from a non-mining related accident.

Two days ago The Herald Dispatch released it’s annual Progress section of the newspaper. Entitled “Progress 2011: Industry,” the main focus was coal. Nick Carter the president and CEO of Natural Resource Partners, which owns and leases coal properties, said concerning the difficulties they have had with getting permits from federal agencies that, “It’s not as much fun as it used to be to be a coal miner.” Really? I guess that all depends on how you define “fun.” The safety issues presented by the coal mining industry are terrible today, but not even close to what they used to be. The United States Department of Labor tells a different story altogether. Including both coal and non-coal related fatalities and injuries (but predominantly coal), the numbers have decreased from over 1,000 deaths and over 80,000 injuries annually to 69 deaths and 11,800 injuries. None of this discussion has even touched on the annual deaths caused by coal plant pollution, which is also another rant for another day.

So what does the slogan “Friends of Coal” mean? The answer is nothing. It’s propaganda. It’s much the same as the slogan “Support Our Troops.” Noam Chomsky in his very telling book, Media Control: The Spectacular Achievements of Propaganda, states that phrases such as “Support Our Troops” are solely propaganda and have really nothing to do with the actual troops or a person’s support of them. It has everything to do with an administration’s decision to send troops into war. Thus, the appropriate hidden phrase is “Support Our Administration’s Decision;” but that doesn’t resonate with people as much as “Support Our Troops.” That’s very clever propaganda in the sense that not many are going to say, “No, I don’t support our troops,” because that wouldn’t be patriotic at all. The key: make a slogan that doesn’t mean anything, that most everyone will support, and makes those who disagree with it look bad. Are you a friend of coal? If you’ve thought that you were in the past, what you’ve really been is a supporter of a few rich corporations and a few very rich men who profit from your dying.

No, I don’t have a solution of how we can shift away from our dependence on coal. However, I do think we should taper back our advertisement of our “love” for coal and at least come to terms with what it means. It’s not our friend. It kills your family members. It locks people into a way of life that is totally dependent on the mining industry. Forget furthering your education, we’re a coal mining family. Yes, it’s a good paying job, but at what cost? Also, don’t ever forget that the big few companies are the ones really rolling in the cash because of the miners’ dedication to death by black lung and mine accidents. You can guarantee Nick Carter has a “Friends of Coal” sticker on his brand new vehicle. I bet he’ll even print one out for you.

Mar 06

Give Him Hell For His Disbelief Of It!

Why is Josh Ritter tweeting about Rob Bell? He tweeted this yesterday: “Just read a nytimes article on @realrobbell. Want to get him Thin Blue Flame. Anyone know how?” The New York Times article entitled, “Pastor Stirs Wrath With His Views on Old Questions,” discusses the uproar that erupted over a promotional video of Bell’s upcoming book, Love Wins, set for release later this month. On Twitter I dialogued with others about it, but hadn’t written anything of length so I thought I should in the very least steal and laud some views of others. This issue involves Rob Bell’s possible view of Hell. Man, we love Hell. Oddly enough, last year I wrote on my Blogger account this:

"In Protestantism, we fight like Hell for Hell (a literal one). We hold on to it like we do other sweet doctrines such as grace and the resurrection. I’m sure at the beginning, we meant well. We assumed that the Scriptures taught it. We also assumed that any watering down of this belief would in turn be a watering down of the gospel. However, along the way, we decided to become crazy about this terrible thing. Hell is the worst concept and/or reality ever, if it is literal. Yet, we actually desire it. We wouldn’t have it any other way. I remember getting so perturbed at those who would want to lessen the beautiful doctrine of eternal suffering at God’s hand. What a tragedy! We should hate Hell. We should wish that it were figurative, or even Stott’s view of annihilationism, or anything other than an eternal, never ceasing damnation. I’m not saying that I don’t believe in a literal, torturous Hell. What I am saying is that we shouldn’t be such braggarts about it. Our reward is Jesus. That is salvation. Hell should make us cringe with humility and gung-ho with the Gospel…but not proud."

It’s seems to have had a predictive nature to it.

I remember being at the 55th annual Evangelical Theological Society in Atlanta, Georgia when Clark Pinnock was grilled over issues of open theism and inerrancy. He clearly loved the Society, but you could see the anguish in his face over the whole ordeal. I spoke with him afterwards (he appeared 8 feet tall and it seemed he had a glass bird’s eye) and he was a very sweet and genuine man. I thought to myself, while I disagree with his views at this time, I’m not a big fan of the trial-by-fire the Society gave him. Now it seems hipster Rob Bell is next on deck. Blogger Tim Ricchuiti submitted very good pieces on the matter. One in particular, What’s Wrong With Questions?, really struck me as one of the hearts of the matter. Despite that fact that advanced copies were given out, the general public hadn’t been given an opportunity to even read the book for themselves. I imagine now that after John Piper, Justin Taylor, Kevin DeYoung, and Albert Mohler provided their popular stinks about the book, a great many will not even consider reading it. This is a shame. This is conservative evangelical censorship. It’s not even “Warning, Read With Caution!” It’s “Do Not Read. This Book Is Bad.” Really? Is that the best approach? Will believers truly grow or be strengthened if they refuse to dialogue with seemingly “alternative” views? The book hasn’t even come out yet, and Rob Bell has already been black-balled by the high court of Protestantism. It’s really dangerous to think for yourself. You might change your view! Let us do the thinking for you, for in us lies safety. That’s the perk/purpose of orthodoxy right, to keep us in line with the traditional teachings of the church. Yet, this type of pre-release critique is surely to bring about the next generation of Ehrman’s when the standard setters like Piper are gone. Christians will have to think for themselves with untrained brains because they never grappled with the tough issues. That’s scary.

There are two things I think we should consider. One, I have a great distaste for this preemptive strike against Rob Bell. John Piper’s tweet, “Farewell Rob Bell,” disgusts me. It’s as if he said, “You’re out of the club.” Christians really shouldn’t be that dismissive of their own. We’re not supposed to eat our own, or kick them when they’re down, or not even let them speak, or to sway others to do so. The second thing deals with discernment. It’s O.K., no, it’s pertinent, to ask hard questions. It’s important to dialogue with issues that make us uncomfortable. Don’t go on what Piper or Taylor or DeYoung have said. Don’t let that put a bad taste in your mouth towards another writer. Read Bell’s book for yourself. Want to avoid heresy or unorthodoxy? Be able to think for yourself.

Jan 27

A view from crazy. (Taken with picplz in Dallas, TX.)

A view from crazy. (Taken with picplz in Dallas, TX.)

Dec 26

“Willst Du nicht, daß gewisse Menschen in ein Zimmer gehen, so hänge ein Schloß vor, wozu sie keinen Schlüssel haben. Aber es ist sinnlos, darüber mit ihnen zu reden, außen Du willst doch, daß sie das Zimmer von außen bewundern!” — Ludwig Wittgenstein, Vermischte Bemerkungen

Dec 19

Scoot, you will be missed.

Scoot, you will be missed.

Nov 29

Reading Freud (Taken with instagram at Plano Home)

Reading Freud (Taken with instagram at Plano Home)

Nov 24

Thankful 2010

2010. What a year. I thought 2008 had been tough. Then I experienced a reprieve the following year. 2009 turned out to be the most joyous year or stretch of time that I had ever lived: a small rustic town, the love of my life, an old eclectic apartment, a handful of odd-jobs, and an unbeatable landlord. Like in Einstein’s Dreams, I wish that time would have slowed down so drastically, or better, stood still in 2009. Sure, it had it’s abundant fill of rocky times, but all in all I had never encountered joy or love or home like that. 2010. This year I lost my fiance/best friend, moved back to a city that I had sworn I’d never live in again, got looked over by 52 jobs (only one took me in), received no scholarships for PhD, missed out yet again from being perhaps the last student to study under one of greatest Early Christian scholars of our time, had plans fall through in moving to Germany and living in Europe before I turned 30, got stuck back in Dallas with bags packed and no car, my cat died, and my two mowing tractors were stolen…all of which was overshadowed and intensified by the first loss.

What on EARTH would I be thankful for after nearing the end of my most painful year?

Everything.

Since returning to Dallas I have worked a job that only works me an hour and a half a day. That’s 30 hours…a month. For the most part, for the far majority, the rest of my time I’ve spent time alone, in isolation; not just alone, but intentionally alone with God, yelling at God, trying to listen to God. I began reading the Gospels, not in Greek, but just an English translation and as a new believer would; fresh, as if I’ve never read it before. Through this time alone and in prayer and in the New Testament I discovered something damningly terrifying: I had wasted my life. Every year of my life, every hour, I’ve wasted it. In the closure conversation that I had with my ex-fiance earlier this year she said that I had never believed in God. She was right.

Rather than loving Christ and loving others and selling all that I have and desiring nothing on this Earth, I’ve been consumed with what was most precious to me; namely, me. I have lived immorally. I have worshiped women. I’ve worshiped stuff. Stuff. Stuff. Stuff. If I just had this. If I just had a good wife. If I just had a decent job, a job I didn’t hate. I don’t have to be rich, I just want to be comfortable and not have to worry about money. If I just had ANYTHING but Jesus, and as long as it made me happy, I AM SATISFIED. Wrong, I made an eternal mistake. I’ve wasted it. As a result, I have nothing; am nothing: a dead man with lots and lots of toys. What’s my latest kick? Don’t worry about that, it’ll change in two weeks. I’ve wasted life.

I am 27. I lived a cheap life. I’ve loved cheaply, and I have been satisfied cheaply. I am thankful that God did not kill me…I’m astonished he didn’t. I am thankful that God didn’t let me get married, or run away to Europe, or any of the other MILLION things I’ve wanted, desperately wanted this year. I am thankful for the Gospel of Mark that showed me that my life resembles NOTHING of what is found in it’s words; in the life of Christ; in the lives of the first followers. Where is my suffering? Why am I not despised? Why do people not experience Christ because of my life? Because there is NOTHING that I have or desire that is different than what they have or desire. I want comfort, a good wife, an ok job, a sufficient retirement…and THAT’S EXACTLY WHAT THEY WANT. No difference. Knowing the Bible, some theological phrases, and some history…and who gives a rip! No difference. No difference. No difference.

I am thankful for Pastor Jeffress of First Baptist Church of Dallas. He entered my life midway through my reading of Mark’s Gospel with an encouragement, “You’ve been doing the right thing. You’ve led a fulfilled life. Keep at it. It’s ok to spend the money the way you want, love any way you want, desire really nice things, look good…so long as you hate other religions and hate homosexuality. You’re doing just fine. Enjoy life!” Everything that shocked and sickened me about his church’s FOOLISH and repulsively WASTEFUL decision to make their building more “up-to-date,” I found the same mindset in my own life. I was no different, I just didn’t have $115 MILLION to blow on myself. Thank you, for waking me up. I do not ever want to waste another second, another dollar, another passion, another desire, another ounce of my life.

Thank you Jesus, for dying for even me, even knowing that I would waste your cross and trade your cross for comfort. My “suffering” or “hardships” that I experienced this year are only commensurate to how small my life and dreams were. Thank you Jesus, that you’ve given me breath and life still, and have rocked my desires and plans until I’ve finally woken up.

Resolution of my Life: I will NEVER AGAIN hang my hope and affections and joy on anything on this earth save Jesus’ cross, but will live my life as if my life does not matter; free from comfort, free from slavery, free to suffer, free to die, for King Jesus’ glory.

Nov 22

“It is not scientific doubt, not atheism, not pantheism, not agnosticism, that in our day and in this land is likely to quench the light of the gospel. It is a proud, sensuous, selfish, luxurious, church-going, hollow-hearted prosperity.” — Frederic D. Huntington

Nov 21

[video]