Today is an anniversary I’ve commemorated before: it’s the anniversary this web site/blog (take your pick) got its start as the Wave Equation Page for Piling. It’s been twenty-four years since I put the first pages on GeoCities, and it’s been going (with spin-offs) ever since. It’s time for a little looking back, and some […]An Anniversary, An Announcement and Looking Ahead
It’s nice to mark milestones, so ten years ago today Positive Infinity began its migration (it took some time to complete it) to a WordPress blog. The post that announced it is here and you can catch up on some of the history up to that point. I want to look at two things: what’s happened to the Internet during that time and what’s happened to the communities and topics in which this blog takes part.
My sites had their genesis in 1997, when static sites were pretty much the norm. I’ve written code since I was eighteen; that came in handy to get my start with HTML. HTML has always been a type of code. For a static site that could get a little cumbersome; the advent of programs like Microsoft FrontPage was a blessing and made all of my sites looks better. I went on to Adobe GoLive in 2002 and Dreamweaver (for most my static sites) in 2010. In the process I got into PHP, and that’s what led me to WordPress.
It was (and is) possible to write an active site (a site which changes with comments, mobile devices, and the like) from the ground up. There are two things which make it especially difficult: a)appearance and functionality issues and b)security issues. As I delved into PHP, it became clear that an active site was doable, but the first vehicle I chose to get there just wasn’t up to the task. So when I found WordPress it seemed to fit the bill. It was a good choice: WordPress today is the single most used platform for websites, be they blogs, news sites, or whatever. It has worked well here.
Every silver lining has a cloud, and the shifting sands of the Internet were doing what they do best. With multiple sites, the most successful of which being vulcanhammer.net, I lacked the time to convert this one into a blog in a timely fashion. Blogging had its best day in the first half of the last decade, doing things like destroying Dan Rather’s stupid reporting and rallying the orthodox to the Anglican Revolt. As the decade wore on traffic started to shift towards social media, and even in the open net it tended to centralise. The dream of everyone a journalist began to fade.
Starting a PhD pursuit in 2011 forced me to put a great deal aside; I was forced to cut back on my commitment to this blog. Fortunately WordPress took care of the mechanics, but the problems of the open Internet have only gotten worse. It’s tempting to migrate entirely to social media (and I have shifted much of the day-to-day to Twitter) but I think that the free nature of the Internet—and of society in general—is imperilled by going behind the gates and their gatekeepers.
Getting past the technicalities, there have been several threads I have pursued over the years with varying results.
The Anglican Revolt is pretty much spent, and would be done if the Communion would split and be done. It was my aim to further the cause of the orthodox in this struggle; I think I have made my contribution, even before going to WordPress. It has been a gratifying experience, but I find myself shifting away towards discussing Roman Catholic issues.
Music blogging has been an up and down proposition. Many have been blessed by the effort, and I have made many friends in the process, especially among the artists and their friends (and in some cases their children.) The copyright issue persists, and the Kim Dotcom business in 2012 was a disaster. But it’s been worth it.
Political commentary has been a frustrating business. It’s difficult to get Americans to see a left-wing regime for what it is (which explains why they voted for one twice, and may repeat the feat in November) or come up with a workable alternative. It doesn’t help that some of my commenters feel it more important to be fashionable than right. I’ve cut back on political commentary; I think we’re going to have to seek personal solutions to our problems and not to look to a dysfunctional political system run by a self-centred, out-of-touch élite.
I’ve been gratified by the response to some of my mathematical and engineering posts, which mystify many of my other readers. My goal is to educate and surprise those who didn’t expect such things at a site like this, and I think I’ve achieved what I set out to do.
At this point it’s hard to predict the future. I think that basic freedom of expression is on the line here and elsewhere; too many debt-laden careerists and people who put sexual freedom at the top of the list are afraid of dissenting voices. That’s a sad state of affairs, but that’s where we’re at these days. As long as the opportunity presents itself I will make a contribution whether the morally anxious like it or not, because “We must do the work of him who sent me, while it is day; night is coming, when no one can work.” (John 9:4, TCNT.)
For all of you who have visited or contributed—even adversely—thanks, hopefully there will be more to come.
As we start another football season, it’s good to pause and look back at those who have hit the field, lead others to do so, or both. Nearly two score and two conferences back, Texas A&M‘s coach was Tom Wilson, who led the Aggies to victory in the 1981 Independence Bowl.
This week Coach Wilson was laid to rest. I’ll leave it to David Moon Walker, quarterback when Wilson was Emory Bellard’s Offensive Coordinator, to note the following on Facebook:
It was a beautiful service for Coach Tom Wilson yesterday in Corsicana. He gave everyone in attendance his final coaching point in the form of this card he designed. Tom was very much a man of Faith and Family, and he loved his football, golf and fishing.
We all remember from college how much he loved his fishing. What we didn’t know is he didn’t have a clue how to use an outboard motor when he first got to A&M, and he once threw an anchor into the water that he hadn’t yet tied to the boat.
And we’ll recall that every time the A&M coaching staff went out to play golf, Tom always won. But he got the only hole-in-one of his life just a few weeks before he died, only because his grandson insisted they play that day. He wanted to play one more round with his Papa.
But with all that said, what Coach wanted most was for all of us, his Red Raider teammates, fellow coaches, his high school and college players, family and friends, he wanted all of us to understand and appreciate how important the word of Jesus is in our lives.
This is the card he created weeks before with The Sinner’s Prayer. It was stapled to the Memory handout. Yesterday we celebrated Tom’s life, and he was still teaching. RIP.
It’s the most important lesson to learn. If you want to learn more about this, click here.
Instead of an album from the “Jesus Music” era, this entry is a little different: a live recording of the Latter Rain Christian Coffeehouse in Garland Texas in July, 1977. Located in downtown Garland, the Latter Rain was active through most of that year.
As opposed to the other coffeehouse recording I offer here, I’ve decided to present the entire recording in one track. That will give you a better flavour of what it was like to be in a Christian coffeehouse like this one. It’s probably too much to say that it was “typical” (and that’s not a really informative term either) but here it is, with teaching as well. As was also the case with this, the recording was room ambient and not off of the board, which means that the room reverberation is there, although my equipment had improved in the two years that separated the sessions.
The Latter Rain’s musicians were skilful, tending to a more folksy style somewhat reminiscent of this but with a more distinctively Texas influence.
The Latter Rain Christian Coffeehouse:
- Archie and Cindy Lowe
- Todd and Terri Groo
- Mike and Luba Goolsby
- Tim and Margaret LaPrade
The songs are a mix of original compositions and covers; some of them are:
- This is the Day (Psalm 118)
- There Was Jesus
- These Are the Last Days
- I’ve Got the Lord on My Side
- Over There
- Since I Met Jesus
- Ballad of Luke Warm
- The Second Coming Sunset
The subsequent history of the Latter Rain, and of Archie and Sindy Lowe, can be seen in this post.
I am indebted to Jen Lowe, Archie and Sindy’s daughter, for encouraging me to get this posted. It’s one of those things I have wanted to do for a long time but just haven’t gotten to it until now.
No, the original manger didn’t have a fire alarm; this nativity scene was in the lobby of what was then the Church Ministries building of the International Offices of the Church of God, where I worked at the time. You can read our ministry’s Christmas message at the time here; it’s still very relevant.
And in a rare glimpse of candor, Krugman appealed to a more “progressive” way of keeping health care costs down:
“We won’t be able to pay for the kind of government the society will want without some increase in taxes on the middle class, maybe a value added tax. And we’re also going to have to make decisions about health care, not pay for health care that has no demonstrated medical benefits. So the snarky version, which I shouldn’t even say because it will get me in trouble, is death panels and sales taxes is how we do this.”
Readers will remember the horror which greeted Sarah Palin over her observation re death panels. But perhaps, with nothing else to do one night, Krugman Googled this from my 2009 piece First Dollar, Last Dollar: An Employer’s View of the Shameful Campaign of the Left Against Whole Foods’ John Mackey’s Health Care Alternative:
More self-identified gay voters chose the GOP in the midterm elections than in previously recorded totals, according to a CNN exit poll.
Thirty-one percent of self-identified gay voters cast their ballots for Republicans on Tuesday, 4 percentage points more than in 2008, according to a similar CNN exit poll…
“The gay left would have you believe that gay conservatives don’t exist,” said GOProud Executive Director Jimmy LaSalvia. “Now we see that almost a third of self-identified gay voters cast ballots for Republican candidates for Congress in this year’s midterm.”
In Europe, the trend of LGBT people voting with the right is driven by the Islamicists. In this country, I suspect the economy is causing this. The Tea Party, for all of the catcalls from the left, has put economic issues at the centre of the agenda as opposed to social ones, and that in turn reflects the state of the country. It’s hard to maintain any kind of lifestyle when the economy is in the tank.
Now if we could just get civil marriage abolished…
This piece was originally written 5 June 2006, when legislation was being considered to make ethnic Hawaiians a “protected group.” The whole business of protected groups is very much still with us in American life and politics.
Back in the early 1980’s, our family business had an ongoing business relationship with the People’s Republic of China. Getting there in those days from the U.S. wasn’t straightforward; it was necessary to pass through Tokyo on the way to Beijing. This involved a layover at Narita, an airport the subject of the longest running violent opposition of its kind in modern times.
Those who travel by air know that sitting in airports waiting for flights is pretty much a given. So while waiting to get on the plane for Beijing, I sat in the airport lobby and looked around my fellow passengers. Of particular interest were a group of “oriental” looking teenagers who were drawing attention to themselves by the noise they were making. So I asked myself, “where are these people from? And why do they, looking like they do, act like this?” (I had come to expect better in my travels to East Asia.) The giveaway finally came when they started to throw their American passports at each other and their hapless chaperones scolded them, “You’re going to China, you’d better behave!” Closer examination showed that these young people were from the William McKinley High School in Honolulu; as their school’s band, they were going to China to perform.
Today we have the spectacle of at least some of these people being made into yet another “special” ethnic group, together with all of the “privileges” that go with that. This balkanisation of our population is getting one more division, and that in a place which is mostly non-white and which has a high rate of racial mixing. It’s one thing to impose this in areas where a form of “apartheid” had been constructed by the “white” majority. It’s quite another to do this in a place like Hawaii. So what gives?
Let’s start by stipulating that the tropical and sub-tropical fringes of the US stretch what it means to be “American.” (I know this: I grew up in one.) Beyond that, the whole idea of the US is not an ethnic expression but an idea, an idea based on the God-given rights of its people. One of the main jobs of the government is to insure that these rights are guaranteed to its people in an equitable fashion.
Unfortunately that dream has been lost in in the invasion of “modernist” identity politics. In the rapid rate of change that characterises our time, people want to hold on to whatever identity they have, and the most fundamental human identity they have is that of their ethnic origin. The flip side to this is the assertion by some that they are some kind of “master race.” This was of course a leitmotif of Adolf Hitler, who inflicted it with deadly seriousness during World War II. Other groups in the US have attempted to assert the same thing; they would be laughable if they weren’t backed up with bull-headed persistence and occasional violence.
This is why we have the system we do. Additionally making certain groups “special” is expedient politically because it creates a patron-client relationship between the group benefiting from it and those who make it possible.
So now we have the Hawaiians gunning for the same status. There are some powerful patronage issues here as well. In the short run these will benefit. But in the long run the result will be resentment by the rest of the population. The more groups that seek such status, the less “special” it will be. It will degenerate national life into a slugfest of competing interest and ethnic groups. The dream for unity and God-given rights will die, and the country’s own survival will be in doubt. The only thing that will mark us as Americans is our bad behaviour, as was the case with the McKinley students in the Tokyo airport lobby. We are further down that road than many of us realise.
A few years ago I was standing in another airport line talking with a high official in my church. He was making arrangements to go to South Africa to visit with our two churches there. Legal apartheid had been ended, and his job was to inform the two churches—one white, one “coloured”—that they either needed to come together or get out of our denomination. Years ago, liberals thought they would break Christianity by branding it as a racist affair, but the American church is beating that rap to create a true multi-racial unity. It may be the only multi-racial unity left standing if things keep going as they are.
This was actually my first blog article, posted 14 April 2005.
After a hiatus, this past spring I found myself back teaching Civil Engineering at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. This is an activity I find professionally and personally satisfying, if not financially.
During the hiatus, the campus had made some major technological changes. One of them enabled anyone on the UTC staff to spam the entire staff. Being a closed group, this meant that the staff could have a spam dialogue, with people being either participants or spectators in the process.
A bill had been introduced in the Tennessee General Assembly which would give students additional redress in the event they felt they had been downgraded by a professor became same faculty member didn’t care for the student’s views. This is primarily aimed at liberal faculty of the arts.
Needless to say, this piece of legislation got a cool response from the faculty. The surprise came from which part of the faculty; the most vociferous opposition came from evolutionists, who feared that another Scopes trial was in the making. Coming back at them were the new earth creationists, and this led to a long, generally informative but serious debate on the subject of creation and evolution.
I mentioned this to my state representative, who coolly responded that the faculty should have stuck to the subject matter at hand. For me, however, as a Christian, an old earth creationist, an adjunct and someone who deals with geological issues in Soil Mechanics, this was a perilous situation. If the evolutionists win, I get the boot over the origin of the universe and being a theist (the evolutionists are for the most part rabid secular humanists.) If the new earth creationists win, I get the boot over the age of the earth. Real academic freedom these days consists of forcing the administration to find really creative ways to give people the boot!
As the debate drug on, things started to get a little satirical, and one evolutionist mused that the state would endorse Lysenkoism for the teaching of biology. Paul Krugman made a similar statement in an column for the New York Times; evidently this is becoming a liberal talking point. But brining up Lysenko is a perilous business for secular humanists of any stripe.
The story of the Ukrainian agronomist Trofim Denisovich Lysenko, his rise and those of his theories and the liquidation of his opponents, is a complicated one, but it basically involves a combination of genetic theory and Marxist ideology that resulted in science being thwarted by political considerations. The problem in bringing up a controversy from Stalin’s Soviet Union is that creationists are nowhere to be found. The regime that oversaw this purge (along with all of the others) was fuelled by the most important single secular ideology in human history–Marxism.
As was the case with both of the major ideologies that turned the twentieth century into a bloodbath (the other was of course fascism,) Marxism drew a great deal of inspiration from Darwin’s work. Both Marx and Engels (especially the latter) were committed Darwinists. When Marx died in 1883, Engels pronounced at his graveside “just as Darwin discovered the law of the development of organic nature, so Marx discovered the law of development of human history.” Marxism was “scientific” socialism, as opposed to the “utopian” kind popular in Europe at the time. At the same time Lysenko was running like a bull in a china closet through the Soviet biological establishment, Stalin’s regime was attempting to destroy belief in God throughout the country by killing or sending believers to gulags and blowing up churches, a result that many secular humanists probably find satisfying.
After all that, though, we have a situation where a “scientific” regime not only stymies research for ideological reasons; it now gets pilloried by secular humanists with short memories! The whole story of Marxism is a reminder that it’s easy to turn any system of thought–no matter how secular–into a religion when it comes time to force it on humanity. One of the things that bothers me about secular humanists, this debate included, is how they on the one hand tell us that the basis of science is “free inquiry” and then fanatically defend their dogmas when they are attacked.
With such contradictions, it’s hard to know whether one should take an ideology like secular humanism seriously outside of their access to power in our society. Such was the case with Marxism. At one time Marx got into a conversation with the wife of the publisher of Das Kapital in Germany about who would do the chores in Marx’s “new world.” It started light heartedly but turned serious, at which point the woman said, “I cannot picture you in an egalitarian period since your inclinations and habits are thoroughly aristocratic.”
“Neither can I,” Marx replied, “those times must come but we must be gone by then.”