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Archive for July, 2008

Tulips and Theology

Posted by heyrandy on July 30, 2008

The theology of the Reformation is often called Calvinism, after John Calvin, a reformer based in Geneva in what is now Switzerland.  There were other theologians of the Reformation such as Luther, but it is Calvin’s thinking that dominates.

Calvin’s influence is no surprise.  He was a brilliant man.  His writings were prodigious. He wrote a commentary on every book of the New Testament except Revelation.  His main work, however, was the Institutes of the Christian Religion. He was constantly expanding this book.  The book is a masterly exposition of Christian doctrine.  His thinking was so profound that he gained a wide audience outside of Geneva.  His writings are still read by many today.

Calvinism is often associated with five points, as in the five points of Calvinism.  The five points did not originate with Calvin.  In fact, the five points were not spoken of until after Calvin’s death.  The five points did not originate from Calvin’s successors at Geneva.  The five points are Dutch.

The five points are from a protest, a remonstrance, brought by followers of Jacob Arminius objecting to the Dutch church’s doctrine in five areas.  It is this objection brought by the Arminians, or Remonstrants as they are sometimes called, was settled by the a committee appointed by the Dutch Parliament.  The committee met in the Dutch city of Dort.  The Canons of Dort are the work of this committee.  The Canons of Dort deny the protest and reaffirm the validity of Calvinist doctrine as the correct interpretation of the Bible.  The Arminians were declared to be heretics.

The five points are usually remembered by the word TULIP.  This is rather neat because the tulip flower is often associated with the country of Holland. The five points are usually stated thusly:

Total Depravity

Unconditional Election

Limited Atonement

Irresistible Grace

Perseverance of the Saints

Since these matters are important regardless of one’s theological views, I am going to start a short series to introduce each of these points.  I hope to explain them to help people understand them.  There is much objection to Calvinism, much of it based upon a faulty understanding of these key ideas.  If you are going to intelligently object and disagree, you must have a correct understanding of the opposing view.

I am writing as one who holds the five points to be correct.  I believe that the five points portray the correct understanding of the teaching of the Bible.  The points are true, and they are TRUTH.  It is my purpose to magnify these ideas so all the world may know of the glorious truth of God.  To Him alone be all praise and glory!

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Our Former Employee, R.I.P.

Posted by heyrandy on July 16, 2008

Saddam Hussein is now dead.  He is almost forgotten.  This is some legacy for a man the U.S. government used to love, sorta.

If today you ask people in the U.S. about Saddam, what will you get in reply?  Do you think that anything will be said of his being on the U.S. payroll?  Yes, he was.  Although a long time client of the Russians, during the Iran-Iraq war the U.S. shifted toward him.  He was a murderous thug, but since we had lost our murderous thug, the Shah of Iran, we needed some we could count on.  All the other players in the region are minor league.  Does anyone really think the Saudis can be much help?

Unlike the Shah, we didn’t install Saddam.  He did this on his own.  This guy knew power.  When it comes to thuggery, he was impressive.  Just read Republic of Fear. The entire area is run by a collection ruthless killers, but among them Saddam stood out as exceptional.  Does our government know quality, or what?

Knowing all this makes it interesting to wonder just why Saddam ended up at the end of his enemies’ rope.  It is about playing ball.

It is no secret Iraq’s only asset is oil.  Iraq is a virtually landlocked country.  It position is important, but not critical.  It is just the oil.  It is the oil game that did in Saddam.

Invading Kuwait threatened the oil supply.  The supply would never have been totally cutoff, but the price would have been affected, badly for buyers.  The western nations, i.e., the U.S. and its military allies, would have been harmed by Iraq’s actions.  Potentially more so if Iraq had conquered Saudi Arabia.  The western nations could not tolerate this.  It is better to have many suppliers competing with each other than to have a single oil czar setting the price.

Something had to be done.  The U.S. had a defense treaty with Kuwait.  Saddam was told otherwise by the U.S. ambassador when she was asked by the Thug himself.  So the legal framework was there, but how to get the consent of Congress and the American people?

The then U.S. president when on a sales campaign.  He bloviated on about this and that, about threats to the world’s oil supply, about Saddam being a new Hitler.  (Hitler was also our thug of the time, but was replace by Stalin, a much better thug.  Does the our government know quality, or what?)  None of the cant got any traction until the use of the N word.

No, not that one.  The other one.  The one that is really dangerous; the one that has killed thousands and is still killing.  Nuclear weapons, we were told, are being produced in Iraq.  These weapons are a threat to those we love (i.e., to those who are on our payroll), and this just cannot be.  Images of mushroom clouds in Manhattan were invoked.  Israel was mentioned, and the Israeli lobby went to work on Congress.  The deal was in the bag.

No mention was made of whether or not Iraq had an actual working bomb.  Nor was any mention made of how would Iraq deliver a bomb, if they had one, to our land.  Iraq had no long range air force or missiles.  I guess they could have just driven it by truck, or sent it FedEx.

Israel had already struck at Saddam’s nuclear program by bombing the reactor the French were building in Iraq.  (For an inside account of the work of Israel’s intelligence arm, the Mossad, read By Way of Deception.)  Saddam was not deterred, set back perhaps, but not deterred.

Why would he be deterred?  Why should he not pursue nuclear weapons?  Lots of countries have them.  We are not about to give up ours.  This was never mentioned in the propaganda leading up to the counter invasion of Kuwait.  Besides, the U.N. said it was okay to kick Iraq’s army out of Kuwait but not for Iraq to have nuclear weapons. You know what the U.N. is.  So tell me.

The American people were scared (and lied) into agreeing with the U.S.’s involvement.  The Congress was won over by the Israeli lobby.  The U.N. made three in favor.  Any opposing votes?  Good, it is unanimous.  To war we go.

The war was impressive.  How often do you get to see a fourth rate military take on a first rate military and get clobbered?  At least the Iraqi’s were smart enough to surrender.

Kuwait was made safe for democracy, even though it was and still is a monarchy with little freedom.  Most Kuwaitis prefer to live outside of the country were there is the good life.  Saudi Arabia was saved for totalitarianism.  But Iraq’s oil did not flow.

Saddam was still in power, and he was not about to give up.  What was a little military defeat?  He still had the bulk of the military and all the secret police.  He was not going hungary.  That was the duty of the people.  The sanctions imposed by the victors ensured that would happen.

Saddam still had not learned not to mess with the West’s oil.  Just because it was under the ground in Iraq did not mean that it belonged to Iraq.  The West wanted it, and the West was going to get it.  Saddam forgot that when you are on our payroll you better obey.  We pay for quality, and we expect to get quality.  Just ask what’s his name from Panama.

Saddam had to go.  Bill wasn’t up to the task, so the job was given to a Yale man.  Not just any Yale man, but a Yale man who is the son of a Yale man who was the son of a Yale man who financed Hitler.  (Does our government know quality, or what?)  By one of those meaningless, crazy coincidences, all these Yale men were members of the Skull and Bones fraternity.  Blood is thicker than mud.

A new sales job was needed.  There was no defense treaty.  Lying ambassadors were not required.  But how to convince the Congress and the people?  The nuclear issue had not really been resolved.  This time it was repacked as a broader “weapons of mass destruction” concern.  Still, so what?  We have plenty of weapons of mass destruction.  We used lots of them in firebombing Tokyo.  They worked well, and they still do.  This nugget of information was not forwarded to the common folks.  No need to needlessly worry folks.  The fact that Saddam’s army could not do much beyond Iraq’s borders was also concealed.

Into war we went.  Confident we would find the ever abundant WMD’s.  We found sand and people happy to get rid of the Thug, but there were no WMD’s.  We looked everywhere.  There was egg.  It was all over our faces.  Not to worry.  The government’s top spy was rewarded with a presidental medal and given a nice retirement.

Once you jump into the lava pool you must swim or drown.  We tried to swim.  The little matter of this 1000 year grudge between the Shiites and the Sunni factions of Islam surfaced.  It seems that there is a lot of hate here.  This is a feud that is usually settled by violence.  There is nothing we are going to do to stop this.  We can only control this by being there to present another target.  If we play this right, these two groups might just stop shooting at each other long enough to start shooting at us.  At least this is how it seems to be working.

It is tempting to say that you know how the story ended: Saddam was hanged by those who should have joined him and all lived happily ever after.  The end.  p.s., The oil is flowing!

No.  The misery is only beginning.  The oil is not flowing and probably won’t for some time. The place has degenerated in to chaos and civil war.  The Iranians will make much of this to their advantage.  Their guy is not on the payroll.  He has got to go, but right now we are a little busy killing folks in neighboring countries.  He will have to wait his turn.

But don’t lose hope about Iraq. It is just a matter of time; sooner or later some one will take control and rule the country the way Saddam did.  Then all we have to do is put him on our payroll.

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A Novelty With a Purpose

Posted by heyrandy on July 8, 2008

My son today bought one of those computer keyboards that comes in a tube.  He had it hooked up and running when I came home from work.  It functions just like a regular keyboard, but has the unnecessary advantage of being flexible.

I cannot think of a reason why anyone decided to design and manufacture such a device.  I guess it is for those users of laptop computers who do not like the built in keyboard and want a full size unit.  How big of a market is there for this thing?

The only other advantage of this flexible unit it is so flexible that if the unit is dropped it will likely not break, itself or the floor.  Protecting carpets is no small concern.

The layout of the keyboard is that of a standard, full sized unit.  But the keys are not discrete.  They are covered with vinyl, so the whole keyboard has a rubbery feel.  I did not find this to be a problem, but it was a little odd.  The vinyl coating acts as a seal to keep out dust and debris.  This is actually an advantage is some places.  On shop floors, people making adjustments to machine controls may find that the sealed units are more durable and reliable than the rigid ones often used.  I have no data to support this; it is just a guess on my part.

I found the key function to be unsatisfactory.  The keys had a tendency to roll when pushed.  I did not like this.  Several times the enter key did not respond; I had to deliberately hit it squarely in the center to get it to work.

My son also did not like the keyboard, so he disconnected it, rolled it up, and put it in its tube.  It has since disappeared into his room.  It can stay there.

Posted in product reviews | Tagged: | 3 Comments »