Archive for March, 2010

Trying to get out of a rut

Tuesday, March 30th, 2010

I have not been happy with what I have been writing lately. I don’t find my life to be that interesting and I can’t manage to put much heart into writing about it. I generally spend my life in my own little world and the only thing that even comes close to explaining to others what is going on in my own little world is my essay site.

And I have not been writing for my essay site lately.

So I thought I would try to spend more time trying to write for my essay site and not worry so much about this site (especially since most of the other members of the challenge have dropped off anyway).

But on past form, I will delete everything I write for my essay site before I put it up and this tends to disappoint some people. So I thought I would experiment with putting up sections that I am working on as I am working on them (or deleting them), with some commentary. That way my few loyal readers can maybe understand what I am trying to accomplish and why I keep failing. Also, I can prove that I am as hard on myself as I am on other people.

This is probably a dumb idea that won’t work, but I am in a rut that I would like to get out of. And I guess the only way to get out of a rut is to try different things.

Now, I won’t be posting stuff every day. Most days it will be all I can do to work on the essay a bit. But I hope to post sections of progress (or things that I have deleted) at least twice a week with at least some commentary.

So after the commentary below you will find beginnings of the first real chapter of “A Critique of Christianity”. The part that is currently up on my essay site is only a prologue. A necessary prologue to be sure, as I will need to refer to it. But it is not directly related to flow of my argument.

I had written out past this first chapter long before I even put up the prologue. But I never really fleshed out the arguments in this first chapter for a variety reasons that mostly boil down to the fact that I did not want to.

To make a long story short, as soon as I realized that I had to write this chapter before I could finish anything else (which was a long time ago now), I knew what it was going to be called and the arguments that I wanted to make in the chapter. But I had various problems and I kept deleting everything I wrote.

My biggest problem was that I want to write this essay to express a bunch of things that I have long wanted to say to those Christians who wonder why I don’t go to Church. I know it will not accomplish anything (too long for anyone to read, for one thing). But for therapeutic reasons, I would like write out what I want to say in the manner that I wish I could say it. At least then I will have the satisfaction of having expressed myself, even if it is only to the void.

The reason I kept deleting all my stuff every time I tried to write this chapter previously is that I kept trying to (A) tie this chapter in with the prologue or (B) express the private agonies that lead me to want to write this dang thing. Often I would try to do both at once.

The end result was pages and pages of really stupid writing that was always just a couple of paragraphs away from starting to address what I really needed to addresses when I deleted it all.

And so here I am, trying again for the umpteenth time to spell out things that I know like the back of my hand.

Currently, I have the following structure in mind for “The Problem of Authority.”

(a) Define Christianity (kind of necessary if your over all title is “A Critique of Christianity”)

(b) Define the problem of Authority (particularly as it relates to Christianity)

(c) Explain in biblical terms why the Bible itself is not the solution to the problem of authority.

(d) Explain the conception of authority that will govern the rest of the Critique.

(e) Maybe foreshadow a bit what the next chapter will be about?

As I flesh out this structure, I am trying to keep two things in mind.

(1) Try to error on the side of underexplaining/defending/defining.

(2) Use utilitarian words to create logical flows. (i.e don’t worry about making it an interesting read, worry about making the argument flow).

Below is how I started trying to flesh out the above outline. Tune in next week for an explanation of why I deleted it all (that’s a joke, I hope. Have not slept on it long enough to really hate it yet).


Depressing News

Wednesday, March 24th, 2010

“What happened to you? You looked like you got dragged behind a truck for a couple of miles.”

Maybe he did not look that bad. But I had to wonder what caused him to be late and show up looking tired.

This guy was not ever late.

“I had a power outage and so my alarm did not wake me.”

“I thought you had a back up generator.”

“I will tell you about later.”

Long story short, his marriage of roughly 30 years was in the process of ending. Apparently his wife had decided that she did not love him some years prior. So she decided to clean him out of every red cent he had. His house was in process of being foreclosed on. Every bill you could think of was past due and there where plenty of other bills that he found that he knew nothing about. And he found out that he had no savings.

This was incredibly depressing news for me.

This guy has always struck me as being a decent family man. Unlike so many other men, he does not talk trash about his wife or chase after other woman. He is not profane. He does not party. He did not work ungodly hours. He gave every paycheck he got to his wife so that she could pay the bills and he would ask her for whatever money he needed (That is why she could clean him out so badly without him knowing).

Granted, there is always two sides to every story. In this case though, I think the other side of the story has to do with an addiction that spun out of control and a marriage that never should have happened in the first place. But I don’t know for sure and it is not my place to judge.

It still depresses me though.


Monday, March 22nd, 2010

The recently passed health care bill demonstrates how insane the American political process has become. The fact that American cannot afford the costs is the least of its problems.

Lets face it. No matter how personally repugnant the idea is to our ideological sensibilities, America can afford national health care. The reason America can’t afford this health care bill is because America wants everything.

We want to be a super power. We want to subsidize agriculture. We want to drive the biggest cars and eat the biggest burgers. We want everyone to be able to buy their own home (and we spend more government money subsidizing mortgages than any socialist European country). And so on and so on.

A “progressive” sort of person might reasonably argue that it is unfair to blame the health care bill itself for the fact that American can not afford it. To me, that still means that we should wait until the country is not on the verge of bankruptcy before we even begin to debate the issue.

But whatever. I am a charitable sort of dude. So lets forget the fact that the bill is going to help bankrupt this country. This bill is still one of the most insane things that this nation has ever done.

The simple fact of matter is that the same people who talked about the evil nature of insurance companies are going to give the insurance companies an extra 200 billion dollars a year. On top of that, they are going to force lot of people to pay their own money for insurance who have previously spent their money on other things.

To help pay for this bill, they are going to cut payments to health care providers. This will make providing health care less profitable.

If your goal is to make it easier for people to see a doctor, this is an insane way of going about it. At very least, it is not very cost effective. At the worst, you will have insurance, but you will not be able to get an appointment because everyone will be able to afford to go to the doctor but very few people will want to be doctors for the pay offered.

It’s almost funny

Friday, March 19th, 2010

Listen up, all you dirty scum without health insurance, the IRS is going to be monitoring you for compliance with the new health care bill. This process is going to be modeled on the famed campaign run by a certain Santa Claus. Just make sure you do the right thing and you will not have anything to worry about.

And don’t worry your pretty little head about the fiscal impact of this bill. A lot of work was put into the bill to make it fiscally responsible. But you don’t need to dig into the details. Just rest assured that every angle has been covered to ensure that this bill is as good for the fiscal health of America as it is for its physical health. The only thing that could go wrong is if some of the more backwards states fail to pay their share.

Granted, to understand how this bill is fiscally responsible, you need to have a good working knowledge of higher math. But such sophistication should not alarm you. Rather you should feel relived that such people are working on your behalf.

Another indication of their brilliance is the parliamentary brilliance behind the sophisticated parliamentary tactics being used to both pass and not pass some of the more unpopular bits of the bill.

Have a good night’s sleep everyone.

Some things I found today

Wednesday, March 17th, 2010

I am not sure how much I liked the dilapidation, but I sure liked the over all design. At least, as much as I could see of it in the pictures.

You never know what you are going to find when you wander over to Andrew Cusack’s web site. But then, that is the beauty of the internet as a whole. You can find out all sorts of things that you would have never expected.

For example, today I was reading in Spiegel about places that Germans are loved because of Hitler. In part, this strange love for Germans goes hand in hand with hatred for the Jews. But I think it also a reflection of how much racial identity is the backbone of nationalism in most of the world.

But even though it is a bit unsettling to think of how many people in the world think Hitler was cool, I found this even more unsettling.

I don’t know if I could do a good job of explaining why. You would think regrowing lost limbs would be a good thing. But for some reason, the thought strikes me as being very creepy.

This story was not creepy in and off itself, but it made me wonder if some of those creepy internet drug sellers were getting their product via this means.

A Dangerous Situation

Tuesday, March 16th, 2010

I thought a certain person who is prone to dreams when I read this article. The guy is nuts, there is no doubt about that.

Having said that, I hope he makes it even so. It would be kind of cool to know that the human body can break the sound barrier. I am just not sure it is worth risking your life to find out this bit of information. Especially since there is no practical use for that information at the moment.

But no body seems to be paying attention to the information for which we do have practical use for, so maybe my criteria is out dated.

Personally, I am waiting for the next panic to start. A lot of bad news has been accumulating on the sovereign debt front and I am not just talking about the US. The Economist made a pretty good case that Japan was close to running out of rope and there are a lot of other nations that are in a similar boat.

Yet all of this seems to be ignored by the markets and the investors at large. It reminds me of when the run up to when the housing bauble finally caused some serious pain. Back then, the bad news just kept piling up and the markets just kept shrugging it off.

Until suddenly they stopped shrugging it off.

I wonder how long it is going to take them to stop shrugging of the bad news on the sovereign debt front.

The Beginnings of a Trade War?

Monday, March 15th, 2010

This is making the rounds.

The irony is just so sweet. Or sicking. I can’t decided which.

To think that Krugman was one of those who thought George Bush was stupid for invading Iraq. At least George Bush was not stupid enough to pick of fight with the very people who were financing his wars. On the the other hand, Krugman is at the fore front of those arguing that Obama should borrow a lot more money than George Bush ever did. And yet, Krugman is arguing that Obama should pick a fight with America’s biggest lender.

I could expound all day on why this is a bad idea. But I would just be wasting my breath. Most economists are shaking their heads at the shear stupidity of Krugman’s purposed course of action (a good take down here using Krugman’s own prior arguments). Yet their arguments are all futile. The dangerous thing about Krugman’s post is that it does not need to make sense because it is what people want to believe.

It sits well with most of the American public to see China as the evil one responsible for all of our economic ills. Your average red stater and your average blue stater can not agree on much. But they can both pile on the hate for China.

Therefore, it is in Obama’s political interests to pick a fight when China The only real question is if he is going to fake a trade fight with China or really go for it with gusto.

Since most of the things that Obama’s has done have been half-hearted at best, one is tempted bet on the fake a trade fight.

But the problem is, these things can take on a life of their own.

Feeling Like A Winner

Thursday, March 11th, 2010

I won today. Or I passed. Or something.

At least that is what I feel like.

I have no good reason for feeling like this. I have a list of problems a mile long and no sign that the list is going to get shorter. There is plenty of disasters just waiting for me. And there are lots of political problems to deal with as well.

But today somebody who ought to know looked over my work and pronounced it good. I think he is full of crap for a variety of reasons. For one thing, I don’t think he is as smart as me.

Still, he manged to prove to me that I did not have at least one problem that I was afraid I did. And despite my disbelief, his seal of approval did give me an emotional boost over all.

The project is still is not done. In fact, the parts that are not done might take longer than the parts that have been done. Yet emotionally, I feel like most of the work is done and I have passed most of the major hurdles.

You could make a good argument on empirical grounds to support this emotional view point, but that would be ignoring the fact that the last 10% takes 90% of the time.

But the bottom line is that I felt better today than I have in a long time. And try as I might, I can’t argue myself out of that feeling.

I guess that is what naturally occurring events are for.

Not Bored

Tuesday, March 9th, 2010

“So how come you are still bored with all your projects?”

That is what one person wanted to know after yesterday’s post.

So for everyone who is wondering, I am not bored. I am so busy I hardly have time to eat lunch. And this is a good thing. Being busy helps keep my discontent in check.

And I don’t regret getting the projects going. Things would probably be even worse for me if I did not have them going right now.

At the same time, the projects are highlighting things that make me unhappy. I guess that just proves that I am in the mood to be unhappy right about now.

But all this is irrelevant anyway. What I do does not change much whether I am happy or unhappy. And I can’t think of something really stupid that I did just because I was unhappy. In fact, I think a good argument could be made that I am more likely to do stupid things when I am happy.

The main detriment of my current emotional state is that I am finding it awfully hard to write. Right now all I really want when I get done being busy is oblivion. And writing provides the exact opposite of that.


Monday, March 8th, 2010

Lately I have been having it pounded into me that I am not a very good tradesman. I wish I did not have to be reminded of this so often, but it is unavoidable when my job title calls for me to actually be a tradesman. All things considered, I should be grateful this does not happen more often.

Only I am not. Sometimes I think it would be better if it was widely known how much I suck so that I wouldn’t have to feel like I was living some kind of lie. But really I know I would hate it if everyone found out before I got a different job title that didn’t say that I was a tradesman. Nobody wants to be known as the guy who cannot do his job.

I have complained about this often enough that you’re all probably sick of it. But right now it is feeding into the winter doldrums and other things that are making me unhappy to raise the “I got to get out of this title” feeling to a fevered pitch.

And this is bad, because plausible opportunities for getting out of Dodge have been coming thick and fast. Or at least it seems that way.

Actually, there have only been two opportunities. One was a no-job-security job supervising a bad crew in a place that I don’t ever want to be regardless of the circumstances. Another is the equivalent of going back to kindergarten just so I will feel competent.

And I guess that is what’s scaring me. I want out so bad right about now that really bad ideas almost seem like good ones. I am afraid that if given a bad choice that is not so obviously bad, I would take it even though I know better.

‘The grass is greener someplace else’ is one of those stupid lies that we tell ourselves all the time. For all my griping, I don’t have it bad at all. I need to keep that in mind and ride through this. I don’t want to make any decisions with my emotions.

But it does not help that I feel like that shortly all doors are going to slam shut and I will be trapped in this situation.