Archive for December, 2007

PostHeaderIcon It was 40 years ago to day …

Sgt. Pepper taught the band to play …  

Anyway, I promised to post here a picture of myself with long hair, if and when my bluddy Rob would post a picture of his recent, partly self-administered and self-maintained, crew cut.

He kept his side of the deal here: http://lagesse.org/the-crew-cut-photo/

So, here’s my part of the deal … (This was when I was a teenager and thought I knew it all … oh wait, I still do!).

sweet16

PostHeaderIcon Xmas (or Festivus for the rest of us)

labarumI meant to make this my Xmas post, but hey, I’m a procrastinator.  Bite me!

Anyway, I recently read the CNN commentary “You can’t take Christ out of Christmas” by a certain Roland S. Martin. You can read it here:

http://www.cnn.com/2007/US/12/20/roland.martin/index.html

Somewhere in the article Mr. Martin tells us:

And I’m sorry, forget X-M-A-S. Malcolm X? Yes. X replacing Christ? No. 

I immediately decided to write a post about this in order to clarify this misconception to ignorant people like Mr. Martin. Share knowledge and educate .. you know.

But before I get to XMAS and the origin of the word, I must confess that I was somewhat surprised that an obvious deeply religious man like Mr. Martin can be so ignorant concerning ages old habits and traditions of his own religion. After reading such a grand blooper, I wondered who IS this Mr. Martin? Forunately, the footnotes in his article shed some some light on this question:

Roland S. Martin is a nationally award-winning journalist and CNN contributor. Martin is studying to receive his master’s degree in Christian communications at Louisiana Baptist University, and he is the author of “Listening to the Spirit Within: 50 Perspectives on Faith.”

I admit, I had no clue what “Christian Communications” meant. So I looked it up: you can get an idea here:

http://www.gotquestions.org/Christian-communication.html

I guess the command “Be kind to one another – Ephesians 4:32” sums it all up nicely. And in that respect, I fear that Mr. Martin, in calling people “idiots” and their different views “ridiculous” and “pathetic”, still has a looooong way to go in his studies.

I can’t resist quoting a few more gems from this article. Says Mr. Martin:

What the heck are “Seasons Greetings”? Can someone tell me what season we are greeting folks about? 

Then a bit later he answers his own question by the befuddling:

we should continue to remember that Jesus is the reason for the season.

Thereby a) acknowledging that he DOES know what season we’re greeting and b) acknowledging his ignorance concerning the REAL reason for the seasons (the Earth’s axis being tilted to its orbital plane).

Here’s another curious remark:

Don’t get me wrong; I’m very respectful of other religions.

A rather non-Christian attitude! The Bible is less respectful of other religions (Deuteronomy 13:6-10). And I won’t even mention the Inquisition.

And when Mr. Martin said:

we shouldn’t dismiss Muslims when the annual pilgrimage to Mecca is held during December. In fact, Americans are so ignorant of other faiths..

Speaking of “ignorant of other faiths”: I wonder if Mr. Martin is aware of the fact that the annual pilgrimage to Mecca is not necessarily always in December. But what IS clear, is that Mr. Martin is ignorant of certain aspects of even his OWN faith, which brings us back to his nonsensical remark about the word Xmas.

I won’t touch on the mystifying reference to Malcolm X (which is, to adopt Mr. Martin’s Christian Communications writing style, “so ridiculous that it’s pathetic”). I only would like to explain that the X in Xmas, contrary to what Mr. Martin seems to believe, does NOT stand for ‘crossing out Christ from Christmas’. To abbreviate ‘Christ’ by the letter X is a centuries old CHRISTIAN tradition and is based on the Greek spelling of “Christ”. This ages old symbol for Christ(usually depicted as a combination of an X and P) is known as Labarum. In modern typesetting, the P is now often dropped and just the X remains. But it is STILL a thoroughly Christian (Xian!) symbol and tradition.

It’s ironic that Mr. Martin is now discarding part of his own Christian heritage, solely based on a religious ignorance that he so easily accuses other Americans of.

Mr. Martin… here are some simple research tips for you:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Xmas:

In ancient Christian art, X and XP are abbreviations for Christ’s name. In many manuscripts of the New Testament and icons, X is an abbreviation for Christos ..

http://www.christmaspast.info/forums/Main01/messages/647932485.html

The scribes who copied New Testament manuscripts had no intention of taking Christ out of the New Testament. They used the abbreviation simply to save time and space. …

http://www.snopes.com/holidays/christmas/xmasabbr.asp

Oh, and yes, I DO know that Xmas is a holiday that got hijacked by Christianity from a much older Pagan tradition and that it’s based on celebrating the winter solstice (in the Northern hemisphere), but I fear that would be too advanced a topic for Mr. Martin.

See for instance: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christmas#Pre-Christian_origins

In part, the Christmas celebration was created by the early Church in order to entice pagan Romans to convert to Christianity without losing their own winter celebrations

PostHeaderIcon 666

749For a long time, Judeo-Christian people have considered the number 666 to be the mark of The Beast (The Devil Himself).

Interestingly, it now appears that this number once had a lower value: 616 to be exact.

See:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Number_of_the_Beast

In May 2005, it was reported that scholars at Oxford University using advanced imaging techniques[9] had been able to read previously illegible portions of the earliest known record of the Book of Revelation, from the Oxyrhynchus site, Papyrus 115 or P115, dating to the mid to late third century. The fragment gives the Number of the Beast as 616 (chi, iota, stigma), rather than the majority text 666 (chi, xi, stigma).[1] The other early witness Codex Ephraemi Rescriptus (C) has it written in full: hexakosiai deka hex(lit. six hundred sixteen).[10]

Significantly, P115 aligns with Codex Alexandrinus (A) and Codex Ephraemi Rescriptus (C) which are generally regarded as providing the best testimony to Revelation. Thus, P115 has superior testimony to that of P47 which aligns with Codex Sinaiticus and together form the second-best witness to the Book of Revelation. This has led some scholars to conclude that 616 is the original number of the beast

This means that the devil’s number is subject to inflation!

Which made me wonder what the devil’s number is TODAY.

So, after two years of focussing my considerable mathematical knowledge and skills on this problem I can now reveal the 21st century value of the number of The Beast.

It’s …

 749.

(I’m SO sorry for the folks in Reeves, Louisiana:

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,318765,00.html)

PostHeaderIcon Airlines

I just got back from a trip to Amsterdam.

I booked my flight to Amsterdam with Northwest Airlines, the first leg (to Newark) was operated by Continental, the transatlantic leg by KLM.

Guess where my frequent flyer miles for this trip ended up.

Right! In my Delta Airlines account.

PostHeaderIcon Microsoft Encourages Piracy

An odd thing happened to me the other day and I’m both puzzled by, and pissed at Microsoft.

Here’s what happened:

I built a PC for my daughter. Then I went to Best Buy and bought a FULL version (no upgrade: I’m an honest man) of Windows XP Home Edition (version 2002, so 5 years old!) for $200.

I installed it, but I didn’t activate it, since I first wanted to be sure I could get everything to work right (Windows didn’t recognize the integrated sound card).

Then I downloaded and tried to install Windows Live Messenger.

This failed, because it didn’t get past the ‘Genuine Microsoft’ test: it said something about the fact that this copy hadn’t been activated yet, which apparently is a requirement for this ‘Genuine Microsoft’ test.

And here it comes:

It said: If this is indeed a non-Genuine Microsoft copy (i.e. “if you are a thief”), then we would happily turn it into a Genuine Microsoft copy for you and send you a valid product key, no questions asked, for … 99 bucks!

So, here I am, with a $200 version of Windows XP, and Microsoft now tells me if I had STOLEN it, rather than paying $200 for it, I could have had it at half price.

Can you imagine a big sign at Walmart saying something like:

“If we catch you shoplifting, we will politely offer you to purchase the stolen goods at half the price honest and decent people pay for it: no questions asked”

That would certainly make for shorter lines at the cash registers!

PostHeaderIcon Nonsensors

The shuttle launch has been scrubbed again. Technicians have been unable to fix the faulty engine cutoff sensors since last Thursday. The same sensors that have plagued earlier launches too. Which suggests they were never fixed in the first place. Which is scary, because a bad sensor can result in cutting the engines before the shuttle is in orbit.

You don’t want that to happen.

From this CNN article, the following quote had me frown..

The sensors are much like the low-fuel indicators in an automobile. As the shuttle rockets toward space, the sensors monitor the amount of liquid hydrogen in the external tank and automatically shut off the main engines when the tank is empty.

I have a tip for NASA: remove those sensors!

That would fix the problem with them reporting an empty tank, while in fact it still contains fuel.

But, you may ask, how would they then tell when the tank is really empty?

Easy: the engines will shut off!

PostHeaderIcon Mitt Romney’s faith

Mitt Romney faith speechJust a few loose remarks about Mitt Romney’s “faith”-speech:



Mr. Romney said:

..I am an American running for president. I do not define my candidacy by my religion. A person should not be elected because of his faith nor should he be rejected because of his faith.

Considering that he also mentioned that he did not “confuse” religion and politics, I wonder if he would agree with a slight broadening of the last sentence of the quote given above: “A person should not be elected because of his faith or lack thereof nor should he be rejected because of his faith or lack thereof.”

I fear his campaign would have been over had he said it that way …

As for his remark:

Freedom requires religion, just as religion requires freedom

uhm… been to Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Sudan or Iran lately, Mitt? And if you plan a trip to these countries, better keep that quote to yourself! Religion is NEVER about freedom.

He furthermore mentioned that:

… some have taken the idea of separation of church and state beyond its original meaning by trying to remove any acknowledgment of God from the public arena

Not quite. The vast majority of ‘secularists’ simply don’t want their tax dollars being spent on such “acknowledgements of God”. That’s all. Sure, there may be a handful of folks who’d like to see it “removed from the public arena” altogether, but they are greatly outnumbered by the ones who prefer to force their beliefs down everyone’s throat (10 commandments in courthouses, religious dogma in science classes, you name it). In that respect: the number of people who take the constitution beyond its original meaning is negligible compared to the ones knowingly violating it on a daily basis.

On the same topic he reminded us that:

It is as if they are intent on establishing a new religion in America — the religion of secularism. They are wrong.

This, of course, is nonsense. NOBODY who favors a strict separation of church and state favors the establishment of a new religion. They either are “in it” to protect the freedom of the faith they already have (quite a few!), or they’re not interested in a religion to begin with. To call ‘secularism’ a religion is not understanding the issue.

But all in all, compared to a Mike Huckabee, who calls himself “a Christian Leader” and actively plays the “faith card” .. Romney’s slight downplaying of his faith and its influence on his politics is .. ever so slightly .. refreshing.