Sunday, August 27, 2006

The Anti "Left Behind"

I am a dispensational premillinialist. Being Baptist, and having done my own research, that is the conclusion I have reached. The rapture, tribulation, second coming, and 1000 year rule and reign of Jesus is all still to come. The other choices are amillinialist, postmillinialism, and panmillinialism. For those of you who are paying attention and never heard of that last one, it is my brothers view. "It will all pan out in the end."

I am not quite as laid back as my brother on this issue, but it would appear that true believers and respected thinkers could easily come to different conclusions on this subject.

Having said all that, I have read the entire Left Behind series, including prequel and sequel, and am a big fan of Tim LaHaye (see my blog, Tim LaHaye Fan Page.)

Now comes Hank Hanegraaff who serves as president and chairman of the board of the North Carolina-based Christian Research Institute International, and who also hosts the Bible Answer Man radio program. I like Hank, too, although I think he may be a bit too rigid and legalistic. CRI does great work, and Hank's books on cults are legendary.

He has followed in the footsteps of numerous other Christian leaders and penned his first fiction book, "The Last Disciple." As with Bill Bright, Tim LaHaye, and others, this book was co-authored. Sigmund Brouwer has written numerous novels and children's books. The goal of this book is to provide an easy-to-understand version of preterist or postmillinial thinking as a counter to "Left Behind." This is made clear with an Afterword in "The Last Disciple" which details the differences Hank has with Tim.

I have done detailed reviews of "Left Behind" elsewhere in this blog. In summary, it is reasonably well written and fun to read. It does what it sets out to do. If anyone reads the whole thing, they will undoubtedly come away with a much clearer picture of the expectations that premillinialists have for end times.

This is also true for the first of the series now offered by Hanegraaff. Sometimes the portions that deal with end times theory are stated with a bit of a heavy hand, making it clear that they are pointing out the theology. The writing is better than Left Behind with one big exception. Anybody who can read at the 5th grade level can easily and happily sail through "Left Behind." I have 3 years of grad school and this was not an easy read by anyone's standards. Thus they are unlikely to reach anything like the audience Tim LaHaye reached.

The characters are well drawn and interesting. But there are soooo many of them. Since this is set in 1st century BC, they have names appropriate to the period. This slows down the reading another two notches. Maybe the appropriate names was unavoidable. But there could have been fewer named characters.

The basic argument of the preterist is that the tribulation took place in the first century, and that the temple was destroyed in 70 a.d. which was the end of the tribulation. This concept is well argued in the book, except for the parts about the gematria code. I won't pretend that I spent the extra hour or so it would have taken to fully appreciate all their arguments with regard to the use of Hebrew here and Greek there, but I left feeling that it would be a stretch even if I did. I was also unclear as to whether this was a key part of preterist thinking or part of the fiction.

I can recommend "The Last Disciple" for a good read and for an intro to postmillinialism, should you want one. One last bit of good news for book junkies who never have enough new material to keep them satiated, this is the first of a series.

The Energy Crisis - The Truth in Summary

I will not pretend to be an expert on the energy situation. However, over the last couple of years I have read countless articles, books, and blog postings on the subject, not to mention attending the two day Global Warming conference. The following summary must be read with the understanding that I am a an optimist by nature.

Energy is cheap and plentiful by historic standards. It has been cheaper during the past 25 years, and it has been more expensive. However, on balance energy is currently very plentiful, and pretty cheap. Compare the cost to heat or air condition a home in 1985 compared to now in constant dollars and you'll get some idea.

The earth has abundant resources of locked up energy. Different experts reach vastly different conclusions about known reserves of oil, natural, gas, coal, and shale. The truth is that no one really knows the potential for known fields as technology continuously increases extraction methods. And, no one knows how many fields are left to find. What we do know is that the experts can't even agree on how long existing reserves will last. 50-250 years seems to be the range.

New ways to create, store, and conserve energy are even more abundant. It is almost a lead pipe certainty that there will be one or more major breakthroughs in the energy equation in the next decade. The evolutionary improvements in batteries, engines, motors, solar power, wind power, fuel cells, hydrogen power, biomass, synfuels, and nuclear are already adding powerful potential to both boosting known reserves and lowering cost. It will not take much to create a revolutionary breakthrough.

The economics of energy create the greatest roadblock to revolutionary change. How quickly we forget that only 6 years ago, oil was $12 a barrel and the oil industry in Texas and Oklahoma was devastated. Four years ago OPEC was trying to stabilize the cost of a barrel at $25. Natural gas is back to $6-$7 MMBtu after being at $12 late last year and early this.
When oil is at $25 and Natural gas is at $6 or less, other forms of energy can't currently compete. Therefore, smart money is not willing to invest in projects that can't make a profit.

When the price of oil is $70 a barrel, and natural gas is at $12, speculative money dances into the market hoping to underwrite the next big breakthrough. However, this speculative money generally only provides another layer of cash to fund evolutionary changes in other potential sources of energy. The good news is that each evolutionary improvement in solar, wind, biomass, brings these methods closer to competing with $25 oil.

In a future post, I will give a brief summary of the current status of various ways we are likely to keep energy cheap and plentiful into the very distant future.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Hooked on 24? Do You Think Jack Bauer is Better Than James Bond?

As "24" heads the list of Emmy nominees this year, I thought you might enjoy this. My good Friend Keyvan has produced the following list. If you are looking for a good copywriter, let me know in the comments.

Keyvan Attaie
  1. You say that you will watch only one episode of "24" but you end up watching 2 or more episodes back-to-back
  2. The first thing you say when you wake up is "THE FOLLOWING TAKES PLACE BETWEEN 6:00 a.m. and 7:00 a.m.
  3. You try to get other people hooked on "24"
  4. You pretend to be Jack Bauer or another character of the show
  5. You have the willpower to wait for the new season to be released on DVD
  6. You keep humming the show’s theme song
  7. You watch every season over and again
  8. On your birthday you subscribe to the official "24" fanclub because A) you feel that you deserve it, B) it is one way of proving your faithfulness to the show and C) it is your birthday gift to yourself
  9. You refuse to renew your subscription to the "24" official fanclub on any other day than on your birthday
  10. You can’t believe that the show’s events are happening in the city you live in
  11. As you are typing you think you are a CTU member
  12. You turn every conversation into a "24" conversation
  13. You watch the entire new season in a marathon on DVD
  14. Instead of doing your homework you draw "24" related stuff
  15. You get excited that your purchases came to a total of $24
  16. You get excited when it is 24 minutes after the hour
  17. You get excited when it is on the 24th second
  18. You get excited that you are turning 24
  19. you get excited upon seeing a "24" billboard
  20. When you see a "2" you put a "4" next to it and when you see a "4" you put a "2" in front of it
  21. You fantasize about meeting and/or pray to meet the cast of the show
  22. You make a countdown to the new season’s DVD release on your calander
  23. You own over 4 items related to the show
  24. You have all the released seasons of "24"on DVD
  25. Each time you see someone that you know is addicted to "24" you think of "24"
  26. For all the mathematics assignments you write 24 as the answer even when the answer is not 24
  27. You get excited because 24 is mentioned twice in the above 2 sentences
  28. You send your kids to their room just so you can watch the show
  29. You ask your kids’ teachers to give them more homework so you can watch the show
  30. You get excited because the church you go to has a series of sermons inspired by "24" which to you it is confirmation that you are at the right church
  31. You get excited because you think the sermons inspired by the show will last 24 weeks
  32. Weeks before the church started its sermons inspired by the show you were thinking about how cool it would be if the church had sermons inspired by the show
  33. You fantasize about Kiefer Sutherland showing up at church sometime between the beginning and the end of the sermons inspired by the show and ponder how he would react to them
  34. You can’t believe that the church and its members do not condemn the show
  35. You get saved at one of the sermons inspired by the show because you were looking for a reason to be saved, and the sermons inspired by the show were a sign to you
  36. You make a spoof of the show or fantasize about making one
  37. The show makes you question real life
  38. You fantasize about opening a church and naming it after the show (ex: The First 24 Church)
  39. You fantasize about opening a restaurant with "24" as its name and with the characters’ names as the menu names and a season number instead of the meal time name (ex: "Season One" instead of "Breakfast")
  40. You bake or order a cake with the show’s logo or name on it
  41. You name your child after a character or star of the show
  42. You see a movie just because one of the stars of "24" is in it
  43. You change the chorus of Robert Palmer’s song "Addicted To Love" to "Addicted To 24"
  44. You change Twister Sisters’ song "We’re Not Gonna Take It" to "Jack’s Not Gonna Take It"
  45. You can’t believe that you know someone who does not like the show and/or is not addicted to it
  46. You make up your own trailer for the show
  47. You put the trailer in your e-mail signature
  48. You change your Myspace display name to a "24" character or something related to the show
  49. You write "Jack Bauer" or another character from the show in the "HEROES" section of your Myspace profile
  50. You are thinking about the next season of the show when the current season is not over
  51. You spend more time thinking about "24" than anything else
  52. At random times you make the ticking sound of the show’s seconds that come before and after the commercials
  53. After having watched the new season you can’t believe it’s over-even after watching twice on DVD
  54. Each time Jack tortures, kidnaps, arrests and/or kills a terrorist you scream cheers to him from the top of your lungs
  55. You tell your friends that "24" is the best show on television and/or DVD
  56. You tell your friends that "24" is the best show to ever exist
  57. You can’t believe how fast Kim Bauer falls in love
  58. You realize that watching all the seasons of "24" stopped you from living your regular life
  59. During your "24" marathon you have a DO NOT DISTURB: I’M WATCHING "24" sign on your doorknob
  60. You buy a street parking sign that says PARKING FOR "24" FANS ONLY
  61. You can’t believe that you are going to e-mail this list to your pastor
  62. You start making your own list of ways to know you're addicted to "24"
  63. You believe that "do not be unequally yoked" means that if one of you does not like "24" you are not made for each other
  64. You hope and/or pray that Jesus Christ won’t come back until you have watched the entire new season on TV and/or DVD
  65. You spend more time talking about "24" than Jesus Christ
  66. You spend more time watching "24" than reading the Bible
  67. You claim that "W.W.J.D" stands for "What Would Jack Do" instead of "What Would Jesus Do"
  68. You take the time to read this list instead of the Bible
  69. You count the number of time 24 is mentioned in this list in hopes that it is mentions 24 times and/or as a simple act of boredom
  70. You e-mail this list to everyone you know is addicted to the show and has seen all the season currently out on DVD
  71. You rejoice over the awards the people involved with the show won
  72. You hope that there will be a "24" movie
  73. You get excited that the writers mentioned they are working on making a "24" movie
  74. During election season you wear a "David Palmer for president" t-shirt
  75. You make a "24" fansite
  76. You try to imitate Jack Bauer in every way you can
  77. You speculate the DVD release date of the current season when no announcement has been made about it yet.
  78. You can’t believe that this list was created during the time of the sermons inspired by the show
  79. You can’t believe that there are 80 ways of being a "24" addict
  80. You actually took the time to read all the 80 reasons that let you know what makes you a "24" addict.

A Week With Nicholas Sparks

I may or may not have previously admitted in this place that I like Chick Flicks. Well, not all of them. Not the really sappy stuff that borders on or is soap opera. But give the movie a little solid mystery or intrigue, and I'll go along with the sensitivity.

Enter Nicholas Sparks. Pam and I haven't seen Message in a Bottle or The Notebook, though folks we respect have certainly suggested that these are fine films. However, while on our recent vacation Pam had ventured into Spark's world, and suggested that I join her.

So, I read Message in a Bottle, The Notebook, and The Wedding while lapping up the Sun in Kihei. I will review all three over the course of the next week or so, but here is the impact segment (apologies to Bill O'Reilly.) I don't know a thing about romance. And I'm probably at the top of my class among men. Not a brag, just true. So where does that leave the rest of womankind in their need to be romanced? I can assure you that my wife wishes I were more romantic, and I wish that for her. Is there any hope for slugs like me to become like characters in a Sparks novel?

In The Wedding, Wilson Lewis has been a perfect provider for his family over 30 years of marriage. But he has been either a typical husband, or possibly worse, when it comes to expressing his feelings, love, devotion, concern, empathy, and encouragement towards his wife and kids. The empty nest arrives, and wife Jane takes a hard look at Wilson, and doesn't "love" him any more. It won't ruin the plot or the ending to tell you that Wilson "gets it" and makes a dramatic course correction.

So, I read these three books (and to make it even more interesting, my Bible study is currently in Job), and my only conclusion can be that when God was building me, he must have left out some of the parts.

I don't do certain feelings well. OK. Some I don't do at all. No interest in anger, depression, angst, pity, negativity, dwelling on the past, or pessimism. Not having these in my tool kit will undoubtedly lengthen my life and allow me to live that life healthier. But it results in some folks thinking I'm fake. "Nobody can be up all the time," as one close friend observed.

So, my conversations with my wife, kids, or other intimates, may seem one dimensional, and I suspect that wives want to feel included in all dimensions. That inclusion is part of intimacy and is apparently romantic.

I'm through with this for today. Can anyone help me with this?

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Journalistic Hype

I have XM radio in my car. Now I can listen to Fox when I can't watch it. I can also listen to the John Batchelor Show, which is excellent by the way. However, I'm beginning to get something about journalism which was probably always there, but maybe not so obvious. HYPE

Fox has breaking news every 5 minutes. It is rarely "breaking" anything that hasn't already been said for hours. CNN is no different. Their anchors never use any adjective that isn't a superlative. Why use big when you can use huge.

Sure, I expect this from the tabloids at the grocery check out. Even the popular magazines now do it. But Hype now dominates every media. As a result, I am regularly disappointed by the full story when what follows after the break doesn't come close to deserving the lead.

I'm a salesman by birth, so I know about Hype. But, as I have matured (?), I find it harder to do. It might be effecting my sales, my readership here, and even my book sales. Should I resort to overstatements and drama to boost my numbers?

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Conservatives Outproduce Democrats - Future Belongs to Repubicans

Kids are very likely to adopt the politics of their parents. Conservatives have 2.1 children per adult. Liberals only have 1.5. Its only a matter of time, according to this article, before even California will be safe for Conservative opinion again.

A state that was split 50-50 between left and right in 2004 will tilt right by 2012, 54% to 46%. By 2020, it will be certifiably right-wing, 59% to 41%. A state that is currently 55-45 in favor of liberals (like California) will be 54-46 in favor of conservatives by 2020--and all for no other reason than babies
I suspect that almost the entire effect seen here can be traced to one source. Abortion. I'm certain that liberals have way more abortions, and those very abortions may cause a swing in the population that ultimately results in enough voters to OUTLAW abortion. Pretty cool.

Prediction - Pat Buchanan's New Book Will Change Lots of Minds

The most important book of 2006 will turn out to be Pat Buchanan's new and fearful view of the future of America. He is totally over the top in his anxiety regarding a future where 40% of the population will be of Hispanic origin. The book is already number one on Amazon, and it will sell jillions of copies. Unfortunately, it is also likely to drive a deep wedge between many whites and Spanish speakers or even anyone who looks Hispanic.

Buchanan believes that the Mexican government is purposely exporting its population in order to recover the land it lost to the US. Even if they have an actual goal to do so, which I doubt, I'm not sure the xenophobia is the way to solve the problem.

He also claims that Mexicans and other Hispanics are not assimilating at the same rates as prior immigrant groups. Sorry Pat. In St. Louis, we had the Italian section, the German section, and the Jewish section. I know it was and is true for Chicago, New York and other hoods around the country.

I hope my prediction is wrong, but this type of garbage usually sells and persuades. There is just enough truth to make it seem right. I mean we all know that the Jews control Hollywood, Whites can't jump, and black can't swim. Hopefully, Buchanan will be seen as just another windbag.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Muslims Look to Past, Westerners Towards Future

I haven't asked permission to use his name, so I won't, but a very close Muslim (Iranian-American) friend of mine has a couple of theories well worth repeating concering the mid-east mess.

1. For Muslims, Arabs, Turks, even Israelites, the world and politics is viewed through a prism of the past. For America, the world and politics is viewed through a prism of the future. This is almost as difficult a gulf to travers as love of baseball vs love of soccer.

2. It is very hard to negotiate with someone who is more willing to die than you are. You can extrapolate this idea to any kind of negotiation and to any kind of dying. A strong willed child may be more willing to give up all kinds of privileges and to be punished severely rather than give up what they want. The parent may not be willing to sacrifice in any way in order to make certain that they win the battle.

The only way you can win such a battle is by asserting that you will win at any cost because its your job to do so. This is what the President is saying, but the Islamofacists aren't listening, because they believe the American people are not willing to sacrifice as much as may be needed for victory.

HT to Drudgereport for the image

Inconvenient Truths Stacking Up Against Al Gore

Two major headlines today in Drudge. Hurricanes are way behind normal this year and Greenlands glaciers have been shrinking for 100 years, having nothing to do with man's contribution. Stay posted for more shrinking of Al Gore's theories.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Hard to Find, Even With a Guidebook

After four trips down the road to Hana, and never bothering to visit the Lindburgh gravesight, we decided this was the trip to do so. It is a very pretty area, and interesting to visit the grave, if those kinds of things intrigue you, but the side road off of the Hana Highway is impossible to find. Hint: It is within .2 mile of a little church on the East side of the road, but that is not the church mentioned in the guide book. You need to find the unmarked road, and there are several nearby, that takes you to the other church.

Maui North Side - Secret Stuff

Almost anyone who travels to Hawaii is aware of the much storied drive to Hana. The first time I took the road it was truly worthy of the popular T Shirt of the time: "I survived the road to Hana. Three plus hours of twisty roads, some only allowing one car at a time, and some barely passable, eventually provided the spectacles that drew folks to work so hard. There are some seven waterfalls along the way, most only a few feet from the road. There is a black sand beach with cool caves and lava tubes, and then there are the Seven Sacred Pools. One of the most enchanted places in the world, this stream travels through seven pools, connected by waterfalls, then empties into a boiling cauldron of heaving waves at its mouth.

Ok. I'll admit it is a great drive, and the drive to the north is not as good. It is however, shorter, and much easier. The road to Hana is still at least 2.5 hours from Kihei, but it is in good repair. Driving to the great sites of North Maui is more like an hour and change, and all but the last 15 minutes is really good highway.

The first stop on the tour is the blow hole. It is one of the best I've visited, and you can still go play in it. Most of the others in Hawaii are now blocked off with big warning signs (thanks lawyers.) This one shoot easily 50 feet into the air, and sometimes provides an almost continuous spout for 30 seconds. The few folks who walked the 15 minute journey from the road to the blowhole were all oohing and aahing as the surging surf provided a great show.

Just up the road a few miles there is another 15 minute hike to a natural lava pool that is continuously being freshened up by waves that crash over a lava wall that partially protects it.

These two stops alone are worth the drive, but there are numerous vistas and lookouts along the way that will keep your digital camera busy with spectacular sights.

Maui Is Still the Best, and Kihei May Be the Future of Maui

Everyone has different views regarding the Islands. I know folks who even think Kawaii is the best place to stay. And, truth is, different folks want different things. Since my goal when vacationing is to do things I wouldn't do otherwise, and to see God's creation, and marvel at His handiwork, Maui is the big winner for us.

On my first visit to Maui I was able to get free accomodations in Kihei. This was 35 years ago, and Kihei was basically the split in the road. The vast majority of the folks who hit that split went North to Lahaina, Kaanapali, Kahana, and Napili. You stayed in Kihei because you couldn't afford anything else on the West side of the Island.

Then came Wailea to anchor Kihei. Possibly the most beautiful resort area on any of the Islands, this planned community is also the most expensive. The support services necessary to make Wailea work created a growth spurt for Kihei. Lacking the charm of any of the other Westside cities, it nevertheless has come into its own. 1500 square foot townhouses with a small beach view are almost $1m. The cheapest condos are around $500,000.

Best of all, Kihei is now the central point for all island activities, 45 minutes to Lahaina, 2 hours to Hana, 20 minutes to the airport. It has several docking areas with whale watching, snorkling, and other boating adventures.

In another post, I will tell you of three great new finds on Maui that just add to its wonders. This is my 15th or so visit, but these three stops are just amazing (one is pictured at top of this post.) Remind me to also mention the Lavender gardens.

How Bush Can Turn His Numbers Around

It is not a new idea that the liberal elites don't like Bush because he isn't able to speak very well. I know I have posted on this idea previously. But my Mom suggests that Bush could do just a single small thing that might increase his credibility immediately. You see, I don't think his basic Texas slang is the problem. I'm not even sure it is the mangling of a word or a phrase ... everybody does that. Ok. Here's the secret:

Just stop saying "ta" instead of "to." It is almost certain to increase his numbers by 3-5 points.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Oahu Still a Great Destination - Don't Stay in Waikiki

This is my 10th time or so to Oahu. The first time was 1974, so much has changed in 32 years. Between this trip and our last time 2 years ago, we pretty much hit all the best known tourist traps. Germain's Luau is still the best on any of the islands. The incredibly beautiful Mrs. Kirk said that the food wasn't that great. But then, it isn't about the food. The entertainment is outstanding.

Hanauma Bay is one of the most incredible views on the planet. The snorkling was so-so, and they have closed the pathways on both sides of the bay. A big disappointment. I love going out and watching the breakers crash and send the spash 50 feet and more into the air. There are some new features, but be sure to take your food and drink.

The North Shore doesn't have the great waves in August, so we headed over to Waimai Falls and the park. This was great fun, especially since "Lost" is filmed here.

The Dole Center has much more to do and buy then it did last time we visited. Take lots of cash.

HOWEVER, we can't say strongly enough that staying in Waikiki is not the way to go. Last time we stayed in a house on the North East Shore. It had so much more space for the money, no parking issues, no bumper-to-bumper traffic, and no noise.

We just returned from the Pali Lookout. Don't miss this fun spot if you come to Oahu. The winds are 40-60 miles per hour or so all the time, and it is fun to stand in them. It is only 10 minutes from the freeway.

Tomorrow we're going to climb the historic Diamond Head volcano. Its a great hike and the history of the craters use in WWII is quite interesting.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

What is Real? Really!?!

Some friends of ours just moved a very long way away. They have been making some noises to the effect that the folks in the new place are somehow better, nicer, more real than the folks in the old place (L.A.) It kind of reminds me of a day many years ago when one of our kids was comparing how real the folks were in another urb of Southern California (in this case Palmdale), compared to the "real" of the folks where she'd spent most of her life, West L.A.

Now, it is pretty well known that the average individual in Los Angeles, especially West Los Angeles, didn't start out here. This is likely the most diverse place in the world. Palmdale is now the most deadly suburb in our area (crime). And the place where my friends moved is losing population. And both of these locations would be made up of a substantially more homogeneous population than W.L.A.

But I digress, and for today, I'm not going to give my two cents on what make a person or group "real." I'd love to hear from y'all. Especially those who think they have found a place where reality is abundant. What does that look like?

How Do We Humans Actually Use Energy - Where Are Potential Savings?

Here is more info on details of our use of energy. The reason I'm reporting on this is that all the emphasis seems to be cars and industry for the savings. But as you can see from this and other posts over the last week or so, our usage in our homes would appear to be an easier and less expensive way to conserve. Here is part of an article on the subject.

A typical household uses about 7,000-10,000 kilowatt-hours (kwh) of electricity every year. Each kwh we save keeps about 1.5 pounds of CO2 out of the atmosphere.

* Households use about 750 therms of natural gas a year, on the average. Some of it leaks out of pipes and contributes directly to the greenhouse effect. The rest produces CO2 when it burns -- about 12 pounds for every therm.
* The average car uses 500 gallons of gasoline in a year. Every gallon burned adds 20 pounds of carbon dioxide to the air.
* Even wasting water contributes to the greenhouse effect because of the energy it took to pump, purify and treat that water. According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, about 6 pounds of CO2 are emitted for every 1,000 gallons of water we use.

Said another way, electricity creates about 10,000 pounds per household per year,
gas produces another 10,000, and each car about 10,000. This would mean if the average household has two cars, the amount of CO2 contribution would be about the same for cars as for lighting, heating, etc.

If this can be confirmed elsewhere, it would suggest that, at least with regard to the CO2 effect on global warming, we can make as many gains from reducing use of energy in homes as with our personal cars.