Saturday, April 29, 2006

Cultural Losses

Driving to visit the folks in Corpus this morning, I listened to a song from the early 80s.

The omnipresence of cell phones as resulted in certain losses. For example, this great lyrics from the song "You Win Again" no longer have the same significance:

"I'm standing here freezing at a phone booth baby,
In the middle of God knows where
I got one quarter left, your machine picks up
But baby, I know you're there.
And I just start crying cause it makes no sense
To waste these words and twenty-five cents."

It just doesn't have the same meaning. I suppose you could rewrite in terms of wasting these "anytime minutes", but it lacks something. That song couldn't be written today, not as it is. The opening line is all about struggling and searching for some desperate means to contact the one you love. We don't have an analogue to standing in a gas station in the freezing cold--cell phones work in many forms of shelter.

Oh well.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Women and Computers

From our ever-interesting office conversations:

*Word is your woman. You don't understand her, she doesn't do what you want, but you know how to make it work.

*LaTeX is like an S&M relationship: it's painful, but if you're with her, that must be what you want.

*WordPerfect is the girl you let get away: you have fond memories of her that you don't want to let go, and everyone once in a while you start to realize that she wasn't as perfect as she seemed, but you don't care.

*Notepad is just a quick fling--all physical, no style.


And now, I'm going to go wash my head out.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Strange Attractors

I've recently noticed that I tend to be drawn to women who are interested in infectious disease.

On the bright side, at ISMRM this year we have several sessions on the role of MR in infectious disease. Hmmm...

Sunday, April 16, 2006


So I'm sorting through the boxes of stuff in my apartment that need to be emptied so that I can put stuff in them.

So far, I've found:
*A sandwich maker
*A sign saying "Welcome to the home of Bobo and the Cameraman"
*A six year old math test
*The manual to a telephone that was lost in an explosion.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

One Last Easter Post

In the parable of the midow's mite, Jesus observes that the two pennies that she gives is a greater offering that ostentatious alms of the wealthy.

Part of the gift is the sacrifice you make to give it. For men, money, time, and the familiar suffice.

But, if as we believe, God has limits, what gift may he give?

His dignity. The gospel story is that he, who is magnified, lauded, and praised every Sunday morning, decided to be born as a bastard, live as a wanderer, be forsaken by his family, and die in the most humiliating way possible.

It was God's mite.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

The Theology of Harry S. Truman

Today is Good Friday, the day when we observe the crucifixion. Everyone who has ever shown up to Sunday School knows that it has something to do with Jesus dying to attone for the sins of men, but really, it doesn't make a lot of metaphysical sense.

We believe that everyone is responsible for his own sins, how then can someone die for us? Poetry aside, justice isn't blind.

I have, in years of struggle, found one answer that I can grasp. I'm not saying I'm right, I'm just saying it makes sense. Reformed churches emphasis that "Jesus is Lord". I don't agree with everything they claim follows from that, but I agree with that. It's not Lord in some wishy-washy "Lord of your heart" sense, it's Lord. The Big Kahuna. Boss. King. The Really Big Lebowski. El Jefe. The Man. It's his show.

And, as has been said many times, "The Buck Stops Here". The crucifixion is God claiming responsability for and paying the price for our mistakes. This also helps me to understand natural catastrophes. If you can ask me how a just God can create such a vicious world, with earthquakes and hurricanes and wildfares, I can only respond that he has taken responsability. If you ask me how he can permit all manner of evil from man unto man, he has taken responsability.

Not that the evil acts are in alignment with the will of God, that he might be morally culpable, but that this is his world, under his authority. And as it is under his authority, he may take responability for its errors, and pay the price we cannot afford.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

We Never Got It

I'm Church of Christ, a denomination that began with a few people trying to get back to Christianity like it was in the first century. It was a noble goal, I suppose, trying to return to paradise and correct every misstep we've made as a community in 2000 years. It was doomed, though, because they didn't know what they were doing back then either.

When you look back at the entire history of Judeochristianity, we never have really "gotten it". Let's not get into that whole Eden thing. Abraham didn't know what was going on. Moses was in denial half the time. The prophets spent all of their time trying to correct Israel's mistakes. Paul's letters are by and large admonishments. Heck, Jesus doesn't have a lot of praise for his apostles most of the time (even the golden boys, Peter and John).

We've never gotten it. We keep on erring, over and over, as individuals and as groups. All we were ever asked to do was to "love mercy, do justice, and walk humbly with God" (Micah 6:8), and it is an interesting question which of those we've failed most at. We don't act right. We don't believe right. And that doesn't matter.

It's not about law, that was only the Cliff Notes. (Galations. I might as well just cite the entire book.)Sins of action, sins of omission, and sins of doubt are forgiven. We are free of our pasts. It is the Easter season. For God has shown mercy. Because he has dealt with us with an honest voice. He came and walked humbly with us.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Babyshower, Dustin-style

So I arranged the office babyshower for Blake today.

The problem is, it was a party thrown by a bunch of nerds.

At one point I proposed that someone invite wormhole diapers. Instead of an absorbant layer, there's a wormhole layer that takes refuse and deposits it into an alternate dimension.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Evolution in Action

Let's review:

A rat escapes capture by a team of scientists for 18 weeks. They had a radio collar on them. He had his rodent cunning.

A sea lion is kicking the rear of the U.S. Army.

I, for one, welcome our new animal overlords.

Science and Religion

Recently a study came out regarding the effects of prayer on cardiac patients, concluding that prayer had no measureable effects on the outcomes of the patient's surgeries. Being both devout and scientific, I needed to read this.

The study divided patients into three groups. One group knew that people would be praying for them; two groups were told that people might be praying for them (and they did).

The results were illogical. The two groups that were in doubt had the same complication rate, while the group that knew others were praying for them had a significantly higher complication rate. All three groups did, however, have the same mortality (which does imply that the group with the most complications survived them best), although this was not necessarily statistically significant.

The true problem in the study, however, is theological. There are hundreds of theobloggers complaining about how these studies attempt to put God in a box that you can measure, and while I can't argue with them, I won't be joining them. I have other issues.

God is not a robot, or a machine. He makes choices. That he makes choices is at once the reason we pray, that we might influence his choices, and the reason prayers go unanswered, that he makes his own choices.

Perhaps, and if I may be permitted to speculate as to the mind of God, what happens to him if this study is a success?

God does not want empty worship. He wants love. He wants our hearts. How many people now attend services for shallow motives: social status, political connections, or the appearance of virtue? If it were scientifically proven that there was something, anything, out there, how many more would fill the pews with ignoble intent, hoping with hollow hearts to get something from the almighty?

It is a burden to those with faith that God hides. I struggle with belief each day. But perhaps it is better that I face fears alone than a thousand empty converts be won. Maybe.

Monday, April 03, 2006

I feel perky!

So today at work I am noteably more perky than my officemates. I suspect it has to do with the fact that I have an east-facing window and that God put me on daylight savings time a couple of weeks ago.