Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Quotes on Decision Making

For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong. 
 - H.L. Mencken

Our business in life is not to succeed, but to continue to fail in good spirits. 
 - Robert Louis Stephenson

Only one thing is certain - that is, nothing is certain. If this statement is true, it is also false. 
 - Ancient Paradox

Even if you're on the right track, you'll get run over if you just sit there. 
 - Will Rogers

There is nothing more frightful than ignorance in action. 
 - Goethe

A moment's insight is sometimes worth a life's experience. 
 - Oliver Wendell Holmes

Thinking is the hardest work there is, which is probably the reason why so few engage in it. 
 - Henry Ford

If everyone is thinking alike, then somebody isn't thinking.  
 - George Patton

Those who agree with us may not be right, but we admire their astuteness.  
 - Cullen Hightower

Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.  
 - Sun Tzu

Planning without action is futile; action without planning is fatal.  
 - Unknown

The general who wins the battle makes many calculations in his temple before the battle is fought. The general who loses makes but few calculations beforehand. 
 - Sun Tzu

Confidence is what you feel before you comprehend the situation.   
 - Proverb

A computer lets you make more mistakes faster than any invention in human history - with the possible exceptions of handguns and tequila.
 - Mitch Ratliffe

Monday, May 28, 2012

Father Profit vs. Mother Nature

"There is only one thing bigger than Mother Nature and that is Father Profit, and we have not even begun to enlist him in this struggle."

- Pulitzer Prize-winning author Thomas L. Friedman in Hot, Flat, and Crowded: Why We Need a Green Revolution - And How it Can Renew America, p. 291

This book changed my thinking substantially. I no longer look at global climate change the way I did before, and I believe I'm much better informed on the topic having read this book. Friedman's treatment of climate change within the context of several interrelated issues such as petrodictatorship, energy poverty, biodiversity, ecology, and the ethics behind the issues makes for not only interesting reading, but a much more compelling overall argument on why a green revolution is not just needed, but inevitable.

Additional quotes I found insightful:

"...'fuels from hell' - coal, oil, and natural gas. All these fuels from hell come from underground, are exhaustible, and emit CO2 and other pollutants when they are burned for transportation, heating, and industrial use. These fuels are in contrast to what Lefkowitz[1] calls 'fuels from heaven' - wind, hydroelectric, tidal, biomass, and solar power. These all come from above ground, and are endlessly renewable, and produce no harmful emissions." p.69
- [1] reference to Rochelle Lefkowitz, president of Pro-Media Communication

"I don't believe in evolution - I only believe in intelligent design. We need intelligently designed policies to give us the best chance possible to produce the breakthroughs we need." p.293
- Amos Avidan, a principal vice president of Bechtel Corporation and expert on building big power stations

"Socialism collapsed because it did not allow the market to tell the economic truth. Capitalism may collapse because it does not allow the market to tell the ecological truth." p.308
- Oystein Dahle, former vice president of Exxon for Norway and the North Sea

Friedman's book confirms my belief in TANSTAAFM which is a term I coined which plays off of TANSTAAFL.  Replace the final "L for lunch" with "M for market".  There ain't no such thing as a free market. As much as I'm a free market advocate, the truth is no market of truly free. Government regulation and special interest influence on government regulation is a fact of life as long as human beings with their penchant for power and money are in the equation. That is why the quote at the top is the one I found the most insightful. The only way to put market forces to work for good is to have price incentives and profit motives that support good stewardship of our planet's resources.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Quotes on Honesty

Regardless of policy, honesty is easier on the nerves.

The whole art of government consists in the art of being honest. 
- Thomas Jefferson

The badge of honesty is simplicity.

It matters not what you do—
Make a nation or a shoe;
For he who does an honest thing
In God's pure sight is ranked a king. 
- John Parnell

Even a little lie is dangerous; it deteriorates the conscience. And the importance of conscience is eternal, like love. 
- Pablo Casals

Not keeping an appointment is an act of clear dishonesty. You may as well borrow a person's money as his time.

It takes an honest person to admit if he's tired or just lazy.

He who loses honesty has nothing else to lose.

There's one way to find out if a man is honest--ask him. If he says yes, you know he is a crook. 
- Groucho Marx

An honest man is the noblest work of God. 
- Alexander Pope


Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Does Prayer Change God's Mind?

Brian Jones believes prayer changes God's mind.  I disagree because the Bible is clear that God is eternal and does not change.  My comment on Brian's blog was as follows:
I believe, but cannot comprehend, that God exists outside the universe of our space-time experience, i.e. space & time are part of God's creation so He's transcendent above them.   So, in the context of this belief which I cannot comprehend, I find the question about God changing his mind to be irrelevant or meaningless from God's perspective as he knows our future interaction with Him with as much or more certainty as we know our past interactions with Him.
A follow up comment from Chris states:
What compels you to assert that time is a thing that's been created by God, and that He is transcendent above it (i.e., exists outside of it)? Of course, I've heard this all of my life, but have lately found the evidence for this assertion to be less than intellectually satisfying. But you're likely aware of data about which I'm not familiar. (I hope this doesn't constitute a hijack of the thread here.)
First, I'd ask what evidence Chris finds "to be less than intellectually satisfying"? And, I'd ask why he believes that the evidence needs to be satisfying.  The longer I live the less certainty I have about what I really know about God, and the more mysterious and transcendent I find Him to be. Isaiah said "as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are [His] ways higher than your ways and [His] thoughts than your thoughts." We're not promised intellectually satisfying answers, and we're told flat out by the prophet that we cannot comprehend God's ways or thoughts.

The reason I assert that space-time, or without the hyphen as spacetime, is created is the nature of time as proposed by Einstein in his General Theory of Relativity.  The best theory we have so far about gravity shows time is just another dimension in the universe and distorted by gravity just like spatial dimensions.  If God is truly the creator of the universe then we have to look at the created order as it is, and it appears that spacetime is not space and time.  It is spacetime - one word, one thing.

So, could there be time outside of our spacetime? That is, could God exist in a time continuum outside of our four (or more) dimensional universe? I suppose, but when you start throwing in philosophical ideas like multi-verse theories, we quickly get into the speculative realm of philosophy and away from the physics. My training was in physics. I try to follow the evidence wherever it leads, and I'm skeptical of anything beyond our immediate experience and reason. So, why does this mean God doesn't change his mind? If every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows, then I tend to believe what James says.  It is in the Book.  God does not change like shifting shadows. Period.

Brian Jones says that Genesis 18:17-33 is about prayer, and how God responds to it.  I can agree with that.  If you broadly define prayer as any conversation with God, then this negotiation with God could be seen as a prayer.  However, I've played the same game with my kids.  I'll let them negotiate with me about some purchase they want to make or some permission they are trying to obtain, but this "negotiation" with my kids is not changing my mind.  I'm selectively letting out the information about my firm and fixed position.  It may appear to them that I'm changing my mind if they didn't know my answer to begin with, and I'm simply letting them work through the issue and come to my conclusion.  I think God was doing exactly this with Abraham.

God didn't change his mind.  In fact, the entire negotiation could have been cut off at the beginning if God had just told Abraham that there were not even ten righteous people in Sodom.  God knew that from the beginning.  He knew he was going to destroy the wicked city.  Abraham didn't succeed in getting God to change his mind.  Sodom still went up in smoke.  So, we have no evidence of God changing his mind in this story, or anywhere else that I know of.  Still, I'm willing to change my mind about prayer changing God's mind if someone can provide a compelling argument.

Comments anyone?

Obama Care EMS Unit

...and to answer the question on the back of this truck: "No, I don't miss Bush, 41 or 43."  George Wallace famously said "There's not a dime's worth of difference between the Republicans and Democrats."  He said that in 1968 when a dime was still worth something.  The same statement is still true, and a dime is worth far less today than in 1968.  So, I just refer to our current duopoly as the Republicrats.

On the whole, the mainline Republicrats don't have solutions to the problems facing the United States of America, and the duopoly has done a very good job of keeping good ideas out of the conversation.  Neither Romney or Obama will save us.  We need better choices at the polls, and as long as people vote to win rather than voting on principle, good ideas like those of Ron Paul will be kept out of the conversation.

We are doomed to repeat the same stupid mistakes under our current Republicrat duopoly.  So, vote for some real change.  Don't vote for either of the main parties.  Vote for truth.  If you still vote to win rather than voting on principle, wake up!  Fear of "losing" is False Evidence Appearing Real.  See past the FEAR.  Stop thinking about the "next four years" and think about your children and grandchildren.  Romney is just Obama light.  If you want real change, it starts with voting for what you believe. Otherwise, the "big tent" of duopoly politics is simply not going to change much.

Friday, May 04, 2012

Truth Seeking Information for the Thinker

Secularists counter prayer day with National Day of Reason

Mathematics of Eternity Prove The Universe Must Have Had A Beginning
Cosmologists use the mathematical properties of eternity to show that although universe may last forever, it must have had a beginning. Published by MIT.

Stephen Law on the Non-existence of Jesus of Nazareth

Dr. Gary Habermas' Dissertation
Michigan State University, 1976
The Resurrection of Jesus:  A Rational Inquiry​books.htm

Ancient Non-Christian Sources for the Life of Jesus Christ​historicaljesus/​historicaljesus.htm#ch9

Atheist Arizona State University Physics Professor Lawrence Krauss debates “A Universe From Nothing” with an astrophysicist

"Who Are You to Judge Others?" by Dr. Paul Copan​articles/pdf/​who-are-you-to-judge.pdf

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Spiritual Discipline: Study

by Kent Perigo (from Vertical)

Study is defined as “the application of the mind to the acquisition of knowledge; as by reading, investigation, or reflection.” We study to prepare for tests, our careers and hobbies, so why shouldn’t we study what is most important to us: God, those close to us, ourselves and life.  When you are around people long enough, you will come to know how they are feeling, what they mean to say, and what they need.  With God this becomes more difficult, which brings us to Scripture.

The Bible reveals God in a way that nature can’t.  While we can’t fully comprehend all that God is, He has revealed plenty to give us a reliable framework through which to understand Him and ourselves.  Will studying remove the wonder and mystery of God?  No.  It will actually increase it as you discover all of the facets of His nature and works.

So to be able to obey the command to love the Lord your God with all of your heart, soul, mind and strength, you need to both know God and know about God.  Throughout the Bible, God emphasizes the importance of knowledge as a necessary part of our maturity so that we would be effective and fruitful (2 Peter 1:3-9).  The Bible is a magnificent treasure just waiting to be explored and mined.

Thankfully, God has blessed us with access to many good Bible study resources.  This is extremely important because before you can apply what God is teaching you in His Word, you need to discover what He was saying to the original readers in their culture and situations.  Once you know what God has revealed to them (and then you), what you should believe and what He wants you to do (or not do), I encourage you to learn how to pray and meditate on Scripture.  Christians have long understood that when we set our minds on the things of God (Philippians 4:8; Colossians 3:2) the Spirit takes what we have learned and applies them to our minds and hearts.

You might also find it helpful to write down what you have learned and keep your notes organized, constantly adding to them as you continue to grow in Christ.  This will be invaluable as you go through trials and need to review what you have learned for reassurance and comfort, without sorting through all of your notes in the margins of your Bible.

“True wisdom consists in two things: Knowledge of God and Knowledge of Self.”—John Calvin