Saturday, March 31, 2007

Books, books, and more books

I picked up three books in the last couple of days, all three written by Dr. Robert Price. Two of which are responses to more popular works, The Da Vinci Fraud, and A Reason Driven Life. The third book I picked up is The Pre-Nicene New Testament. This looks the most interesting, and is the longest. It's a new translation of, not just the 27 books in the canonical Bible, but 27 additional books which were excluded for one reason or another. This collection hopes to express the theological diversity of early Christianity through the earliest surviving writings.

Earlier this afternoon, I attended a talk on the Pagan Parallels to the Christ Story. It was interesting to hear how similar the writing was of the new testament with Greek and Latin writers of around the same time. Tales of people rising from the dead were not unique to the story of Jesus, or ascension to heaven, or even the story of Jesus telling men to not give up catching fish, to drop their net again, and there are 153 fish there.

Dionysus turned water into into wine at his wedding to Adriadne. 153 was a sacred number to Pythagoreans, its mathematical ratio called the measure of the fish. The story of Pythagoras performing a similar miracle, however, the specific number of fish was guessed by Pythagoras, but never revealed. Jewish mysticism is full of importance on numbers, and there is no reason that the bible would be exempt from the same treatment from time to time. For example, the mark of the beast being 666 in John's Revelations, is speculated to be Caesar Nero by some people. There is an example of using a number to hide the person's name in Pompeii. The graffiti on the wall said, "I love the one who's number is 545." Of course, lots of names can add up to 666, and no one can be totally sure whether 666 was meant to be one person or not.

I have much more reading to do this weekend.

Friday, March 30, 2007

BEWARE! Women, nonbelievers and general idiots...

Attention to all women, Atheists, impoverished, mentally retarded and Christians! You have no Neshma. The road to heaven is not open to you. You are ALL GOING TO HELL. According to the Kabbalists that is. Sound crazy? Let me explain my outburst, and when I'm finished I would GREATLY appreciate your feedback, as it will help me write an essay due in May. (Thank you in advance).
Today in my Jewish Mysticism and Kabbalah class we discussed the human soul. I am aware of how Christians and Atheists view the soul, even vaguely the traditional Jewish view but this was new to me and I found it extremely interesting. There is a long back story involving Adam (surprisingly not so much Eve) and the original sin. Long story short, we are not inherently born with the divine part of the soul called the Neshma, but have to earn it. Unfortunately having this said Neshma is the only ticket into heaven. Even more alarming, attaining this Neshma is not very easy. First off you must follow the commandments.... this is broad umbrella. Second off you must know the Torah front to back. This counts out the Christians, unless they convert. This counts out women and the poor (keeping in mind antiquity). The Torah was written by Rabbis who more than likely did not want these people in heaven, and fortunately enough these populations did not have access to the Torah. BUT, you not only had to know the Torah in its entirety, but know the mystical meaning behind all the passages, and the Sefirotic context of the commandments. This got me thinking, this isn't very fair. What if you are too dumb to get it? What if you are smart, but not good at interpretation? Does this mean the mentally retarded have the same status as the animals? Than again, the idea of an elite heaven isn't so exotic. Many faiths believe non believers and animals don't get into heaven. Can someone who is mentally retarded really believe? Or do they just clap their hands in church and follow the sheep?
I also found it interesting that the Kabbalists don't let you merely go through the actions of reading the Torah and obeying the Commandments. They actually have to delve in, understand what they believe. There are still Kabbalists , and of course the rules have broadened to let in more people, including the Hollywood wave. Is it o.k to mix the words of the ancient book the Kabbalists follow, to fit more people into heaven? Christians nitpick the words of the bible all the time. There will never be room in heaven for a Secularist like me. Thats fine, but I do feel sorry for my pet cats that have died, and all the little retards I work with.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Did Jesus Rise from the Dead?

Tonight, Jeannette and I attended a debate between Dr. Robert Price and Rev. Dwight Knight called, "Did Jesus Rise from the Dead?" The debate featured two opposing viewpoints, one that Jesus rose form the dead, and the other, that Jesus may have risen from the dead, but it's pretty unlikely. The bigger question is, does it matter? Reverend Knight contradicted himself on this topic during the debate when asked what it would take for you to believe that Jesus didn't rise from the dead. He responded that even if he had a time machine to view for himself whether the tomb was empty or not, it didn't matter, he would believe Jesus rose from the dead anyway, but that isn't what he bases his faith in Jesus on anyway. In his closing remarks, he quotes Acts regarding Jesus' divinity being dependent on the ascension. He would cease to be a Christian if Jesus didn't rise from the dead.

Dr. Robert Price, when asked what would it take for him to believe that Jesus rose from the dead, answered that he's agnostic on the issue. If he could go back in time, and if to him it seemed more probable that Jesus rose from the dead, then he would believe that Jesus rose from the dead. Dr. Price cites examples of other mythological figures and literary heroes who also rose from the dead, or who fit the hero model of classic literature, for example, who had virgin births, died on a hill, went missing, became king, had his followers turn on him, are killed by his followers, become a god. In discussion after the debate, Dr. Price made a good point. If you turn the Bible into history, you run into trouble with contradictions and different accounts. You can make excuses, like a philosophical argument that each person has their own account of what they see. That may be the case that four different people may describe a table four different ways, but they can all agree that there is a table there. The point is that, do the specifics matter? Did Mary and Mary go to the tomb, or was there just one Mary? Were their angels there? Were they inside or outside the tomb? Does it matter? The answer should be no. Christianity is not some evil religion, but like any religion it can be used for evil. The specifics of the Bible shouldn't be important, nor should the reliance of each word being infallible. You shouldn't have to have the Bible be historically accurate, or else all the good parts become invalidated. It's important to critically look at the Bible, think of why certain things are written the way they were, take a look at other writings around that time, understand the history, and then you'll have a better understanding of your own faith. Even if the Bible is all mythology and folklore, that doesn't mean that you can't be a Christian, or your going to hell if you don't believe that a woman's donkey talked to her, or a burning bush spoke. You can still follow rituals and traditions, recite incantations. That doesn't mean you are a fool, but you'll be better off focusing on your faith, and things you can't prove, then by trying to justify your faith through proving historical facts. There were great questions after the debate, like Luke's treatment of women in his gospel, the Sumerian origins of the pre-flood patriarchs, and why would Jesus be so upset about dying if he knew he was going to rise from the dead three days later. A girl in the classroom was upset because Dr. Price trivialized Jesus' suffering before death, that he not only physically suffered, but suffered spiritually. Spiritual suffering isn't mentioned in the Bible. She urged everyone to read the Bible, and find the truth. A number of us in the room said, "We have!" I think there is a feeling that, as atheists, we are ignorant of the Bible. There are a number of other myths about atheists, such as, atheists can not be moral or ethical, you can't know there is no God, because you can't prove he doesn't exist, atheists seek to remove religion from society, and atheists are smug and arrogant. Atheists can be, and often are, very moral people. Morality does not come from religion, but is a means for sustainable society which has developed over time. Atheists don't have to prove the non existence of God, just as atheists or theists don't have to prove the non existence of Zeus. Atheists don't try to push atheism on people, or seek to remove religion from society. However, atheists do try to remove theism from government and schools, so people have the freedom to make your own choice. Some atheists are smug and arrogant, just as there are smug and arrogant people who follow religions. People also believe that atheists have no purpose in life, so their lives are empty. I believe that life is meant to be lived. You shouldn't be good for fear that God will send you to hell otherwise. If you want to help someone, don't just pray for them, but do something. If your friend needs help overcoming an addiction, help them, go with them to treatment. If your kid is sick, don't just pray they'll get better, take them to a doctor. If you are angry with another group of people, don't blow yourself up for God so you can go to heaven with your 70 new virgins.

There were about 200 people at the debate, from both sides. The debate was put on by Christian Believers On Campus, and CASH, Campus Atheists and Secular Humanists. I thought both sides were well debated.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Jeannette looks like Tiger Woods

Silly Computers

Celebrity Look a likes

You're the One that I Want

Jeannette and I have been watching off and on the NBC show, Grease: You're the One that I Want. Since Grease is one of Jeannette's favorite movies, and the winners of this show will be performing in NYC this summer, AND one of the people suspected to win is from Minnesota, I decided we should go see the show on Broadway. We are seeing the third performance on Thursday July 26th. We'll be taking the traditional road trip, through Ohio, down to DC, to NJ, spending a few days in NY, maybe spending a day in PA, then to Ohio, and back home, all in one week. It'll be a blast. We haven't been out to NYC in too long. I'm looking forward to hitting all of the places we usually do, like Maxie's Deli, Little Italy, the museums, of course Broadway, and new places, like the Apple Store.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Support Comic Relief

Kwai Chi's Video Making Marathon on Youtube/Livevideo/Stickam

The challenge was to make and upload a total of 100 unique videos in the space of 24 hours on Comic relief day (16th March 2007) We ended up making 114!

My videos are available to view on

Along the way we were given lots of donations, please go to and place a bid now!

Chekc out all of the videos, there are a ton. This guy spent a lot of time editing all these videos, support Comic Relief and help this guy feel less silly for spending so much time making videos. Also, bid on an auction if you'd like. There's an amazing painting in there, as well as a Casino Royale cardboard cutout, umbrella, and red nose. Be warned, the donation is in pounds, so adjust accordingly. Even one pound helps.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Photo Albums

I have uploaded most of the pictures from vacations, and various things to Picasa Web Albums. You can get to them here.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Minneapolis Opossum?

Jeannette and I saw an opossum on the Greenway in Minneapolis on Monday night. We had one of the best nights that night. The weather was nice enough to go on a long walk, so at 7:00 we left to go to Punch for pizza, then to Ben and Jerry's for a sundae. The weather was great, we saw two rabbits, and this odd opossum sitting on a fence, just staring at us. No matter how close we got, it didn't move. We didn't get THAT close, like three feet away, but it was fun anyway.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

DST, hockey and popes

The Gophers lost last night, and it was painful to watch the 3rd period. On a better note, the Daylight Saving Time change happened as expected, and nothing appears out of sync at work or home. Most of my little gadgets have set themselves correctly.

The Pope and the Witch was acted very well, but the story didn't flow very well. It seemed written backwards. How can we create a situation where the pope distributes drugs safely and cheaply, allows the use contraception, and changes the church's view on abortion. Here's how, insert a Bantu witch doctor. Throw in some goofy physical humor, cell phone jokes, and strange musical numbers, and you have yourself a play. The comedy didn't seem smart enough. For example, one of the better lines was "Sir, we don't have time for fables right now!" The pope replies, "A pope should know as many fables as possible, God knows I tell enough of them."

Saturday, March 10, 2007

The Pope and the Witch

Last night Bjorn and I saw the Pope and the Witch. It was a pretty solid performance. However, I was disappointed there wasn't more satire. It wasn't "satireless". There was a point made early on in the play that Bjorn and I discuss often. The issue is hypocrisy and the power of man. The pope and his council are discussing the evils of contraception. The whole argument is that it isn't natural, and is condemned by the bible. Someone brought up the fact that there was a point in history where vaccinations weren't considered natural, but it was decided that there wasn't technically anywhere in the bible that said it was o.k. There is so much nit picking of the bible by Christians it is ridiculous. Many Christians see horrible things in the bible, such as the issue of homosexuality, and use that as an excuse for bigotry. However, when it comes to other issues, they say"well we don't believe in that". This point leads me to believe that the only real Christians are the fundamentalists, who take everything literally. I was raised Lutheran and to be "good" people we were taught to follow the bible. The crazy fundamentalists seem to be the only ones that do that in entirety. The second point is the whole issue of deciding. When it comes down to it, most things are controlled by man, including religion. Man wrote the bible. I believe man came up with the concept of God in the first place (feel free to disagree). How can man say that limbo existed, than centuries later say it didn't. Even man decided the dates of holidays. In 325 the council of Nicea decided the date of Easter.
What am I getting at? Maybe nothing, I admit sometimes I just rant. But remember, our fellow man is important. We are what makes the world.

Friday, March 9, 2007


Jeannette and I saw 300 at a midnight showing at Southdale last night. I think they had it playing at 5 screens, and it looks like all were sold out. I don't think I've ever seen so many people at a midnight showing before. The movie was good, and it strongly appealed to a male demographic of 18 to 24 year olds. There was plenty of blood, and gore, and nudity and sex. Yes, there was a tiny message about fighting for freedom in there but that's overshadowed by a 2 minute scene of a naked teenage girl writhing about on drugs as the oracle. I think this movie will make a lot of money.

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Jesus Camp and TechNet

Last night, Jeannette and I saw Jesus Camp. I thought it was really short, poorly produced, and the message wasn't clear. It's really easy to pick out crazy fundamentalists, and make a movie about a handful of them. I don't know if it was supposed to be more striking because these were children. One thing I felt from the movie is the attachment of social conservative values into services. This is where I believe the power of the conservative movement comes from, tying your emotional response to one issue, and you're roped in. For example, the abortion issue. If you are pro life, it's like you have to vote republican. The republicans don't even have to take that issue seriously, they can introduce bills now and again, which will fail, just to prove to the masses that they are working for the cause. Then they are sure to win votes, no matter how much money they waste on pet projects, send people to war, or eliminate civil liberties, the most important issue to these people is saving unborn babies. As a guy, I don't feel like my opinion matters much, but I believe the decision rests with the woman on what to do. As long as it's within the first trimester. I also think that counseling should be mandatory, and all options should be discussed beforehand. I'm by no means "pro abortion" in that I don't want every unwanted pregnancy to be terminated, but I think it as an option, within reason, and throughly though about, is the safest option. I do think abortion should be rare, but not illegal.

Anyway, on a completely different note, I attended a TechNet event in Eden Prairie this morning about Office 2007, Exchange 2007, and Vista. It seems like all three platforms are a huge shift in technology. All products will require significant training for anyone who plans to use them, even if they are familiar with their previous versions. Office has an issue with opening old versions of files, and older office applications can't open the new files without a converter. Yes, the converter is free, but that's a hassle. Exchange 2007 can't upgrade a 2003 box, you must perform a full migration. The migration isn't too hard, but the management is totally different. Also, Exchange 2007 must be installed on a 64 bit server. I don't have any extra servers around for that upgrade, and certainly none with 64 bit processors. Vista does have good features on the back end that make for better management. For example, Microsoft bought an Anti Virus company, and will be offering AV for servers and workstations. I think it only covers XP and Vista, which stinks if you have 150 Windows 2000 workstations like I do. There are some new features, like Network Access Protection. This can keep a computer off of your network, or provide limited access if the AV on the client is out of date, or security patches aren't applied. There's also policies to control devices, like USB drives. With that, you can keep your staff from plugging in a drive, and anonymously copying files off to do whatever they want to later. One thing I thought was interesting was the evaluation questionnaire. In it, they asked twice about linux, about what you are using currently, and if you plan to implement linux soon. I think with this large shift in technology, the cost to upgrade becomes the same between the two platforms. If you have to spend time training anyway, do it with the less expensive software. Granted, linux is more secure, but only if you know how to admin it. It's the same with Windows, if you know how to properly secure your systems, you can save yourself from vulnerabilities. If you're a novice with linux, you'll make the same mistakes a novice on Windows will make regarding security. By the way, the annoying Cancel or Allow crap was recommended as mandatory by the presenter. People in the audience wanted to know how to remove it. It's UAC, or user access control. It's an annoyance, and provides no additional security. If a user has admin rights, they shouldn't be alerted each time they open a control panel. If a user doesn't have admin rights, then it's ok to prompt for authentication of an admin. This does nothing but annoy the user at their desk. It does nothing to prevent a script from running in the back ground. That's where your vulnerabilities are, from a script accessing your kernel files, scripts don't click on boxes, and don't interface with the GUI at all. Well, from the technet presentation, I am far less likely to deploy any of these technologies right away. I'll wait until they mature, and wait until I can upgrade hardware before I do anything. Only half of our workstations can run Windows Vista Business, and most of our computers are under four years old.

Oh, I also won Microsoft Flight Simulator X Deluxe Edition. So, now I think everything Microsoft makes is great, yay Microsoft!

And another thing, Jeannette and I signed a 12 month lease with the same place we are at now. We really can't move out until Jeannette has a good job, and the soonest that would happen is in December of this year. The new property management company has a no winter move out policy, because they can't rent rooms from november to feburary, so you're stuck where ever you are for four months. I did get to explain some of the problems in the building, like the parking lot having a pot hole, and the laundry room sucking, and they are going to fix what's wrong.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007


I went to the doctor, a regular checkup, and I'm healthy, all for not having a functioning pancreas. I did gain a pound since last November, but it's not such a big deal. Early on in the diet craze, Jeannette and I both obsessed about what we were eating, how many calories it had, fat, carbs, etc. It became too much of a hassle, and we both were hungry all day because we felt too guilty to eat. This resulted in us both having very few calories each day, way under what we should eat, but feeling awful. I think our food situation isn't so bad, it's the exercise that is lacking.

On another note, I donated platelets for the 7th time on Saturday. It is two hours of sitting in a chair with needles in your arms, but it's well worth it.

Sunday, March 4, 2007


We now have a webcam featured on the page. We'll see how that goes. My car was towed on Friday. Everyone got out of work early on Thursday, except for me and a handful of other people, who worked until 4. Friday was canceled too, so I thought I'd go in to get some stuff done while no one was around. I left work around noon, and I parked in front of my building. There were other cars there, so I thought it was alright. I would have parked in the back, but there was a garbage truck in the alley blocking it, so I skipped it. Well, at 4, I rebooted a server remotely from home, but it didn't come back. It was our main database server, so it needs to be up. Well, it didn't come back, it shut down instead. So, I told Jeannette we should go to work, turn the server on, then go to a movie in Rosedale. I looked out, at my car was missing. I figured it had been towed, so I called 311, and it was. I printed out the bus route we needed to take, and hopped out. We started the adventure around 5. We got to the impound lot around 6, got to the car around 7, and got pulled out of the spot we were stuck in around 8.A helpful tow truck guy named Buzz pulled us out. I offered him some money, because it took him about 15 minutes to yank us out of snow that the last truck driver dumped us in. He didn't take the money. So, all in all, things went fine. If I hadn't come home at noon, I would have never been towed, if I was only one hour later, I could have parked after the plow went through. Ah well, it was my fault for not checking into things myself, and relying on the other people on the road to be right.