Archive for June, 2009

Year 6A: The Long Overdue Report

Posted by on Monday, 29 June, 2009

Years One, Two, Three, Four, Five

I once stated the goal of answering the question, “Why do otherwise rational and intelligent people believe this absurd story?” I realize that there may be others following this blog who have wondered the same, but who likely have not put quite the amount of time and energy into “studying” the Christian life that I have. As such, I felt that some sort of report on my findings was in order.

I grew up with the stereotype that women were the religious ones and husbands only grudgingly went to church when their wives forced them. I presume that I must have acquired this view from Hollywood, and as a matter of fact, just last week I saw an example of this stereotype being reinforced in the movie Gran Torino. You can perhaps imagine my confusion upon learning that Christian doctrine dictates that the man is commanded to be the spiritual head of household, and that couples within the church seem to conform to that model (at least in outward appearance.)

While the aforementioned stereotype is not totally accurate, neither is it entirely without merit. I have heard at least four grown men deliver their testimony (the story of how they came to Jesus) in front of the church, and all of them began going to church in order to please their wife. Furthermore, I can not remember a grown man providing any other reason for coming to Christ. This leads me to suspect that at least on some level, all men within the church are merely putting on an overly elaborate, and quite likely subconscious, charade for the benefit of their wives.

This obviously does not account for the numerous single men within the church. I have even known a few divorced men whose ex-wives were the ones not interested in following God. The best I can say here is to not underestimate the power of the status quo. It was difficult for me to initially admit to my family that I had begun going to church, and my family does not even care about such things. It was difficult for me to officially stop going to church because even after just a few years, I felt that I had too much invested to walk away empty handed. I can hardly blame someone who has a whole lifetime involvement, plus actual family pressure, for not wanting to even consider alternatives.

While I was initially shocked to find that intelligent, scientifically-minded people would actually be active church participants, it eventually became clear to me that, by and large, men do not casually discuss theology and the things of God unless they are arranged a meeting with the expressed purpose of doing so. I find that the most intelligent discuss other interests such as technology and cell phones, more than you can possibly imagine.

To be continued.

[As this has been quite obviously backdated, I am forced admit that I started it on time but have been reluctant to come back to it, and I felt it best to just post what I had so far.]

Selling Out II: Redemption?

Posted by on Thursday, 25 June, 2009

Part I
A popular thing on Facebook recently was to make a “How Well Do You Know Me?” quiz. After taking a couple of those that my friends had made, I facetiously began to wonder if I could create a quiz on which all my friends would get perfect 0’s, thus proving that no one really knows me at all. To that end, I sat down and worked out a list that quickly reached around 40 questions. (I did soften my original stance and included a few things that certain people reasonably ought to know. Heck, if you do not even bother to read the questions, you are statistically likely to get between 20-25% anyway.) Of course, the quizzes that I had seen had all been around 10-12 questions long or so, so 40 seemed a little high.

I tried to throw out the weakest of the lot and then decided to just see how many the application would let me enter. At that point, I very quickly realized that several of my questions and answers themselves were too long for the allotted input space. Yeah, screw Facebook.

But what to do with my pile of questions? It turns out that around this time my two year web hosting contract auto-renewed, forcing me to acknowledge that so far, I have not really done much of anything with my site that could not be accomplished with other free sites. The choice seemed painfully obvious: I will just program my own bloody quiz! Take that Facebook!

Now, there really is no shortage of quiz-making tools and scripts available (…for free…), but I wanted to make use of some of these features in my hosting package that I have already been paying for, and have no idea what they do. Besides, it seemed like the ability to create interactive web content might be a useful skill.Maye I could even make a Facebook app! [timoth has no plans to make a facebook app.] I already knew basic HTML or there would not be a site at all, but I spent the last few weeks learning PHP, MySQL, XML, XHTML… I kept running across references to DOM, but I patently refused to find out what that was, because I felt that I had more than enough acronyms already.

It gradually dawned on me that… how do I put it? I do not know if you have poked around on the non-blog part of my website at all, but it is, in a word, “crappy.” So crappy that I never bothered to put a link from this blog back to the “main” site and merely relied on the extra-curious to manually delete “blog” from the address in their browsers. But now with my new quiz on the way, that junky old site was simply not going to fly. So I broke out my favorite graphics program and set about designing a new look from the ground up. Could I not have just gotten a nice template for free somewhere? Of course… but where is the fun in that? I started out all “Web 2.0” with shiny things and gradients, but quickly realized, “What? …That ain’t me.” So I pushed it in another direction. “Tattered Web 2.0” if you will. Of course, to make a common template for all my pages, I had to add CSS to my list of things to learn. Technically, this is about the third time I have learned it, but I go so long between uses that I always have to start over completely over. So, the rest of the website is still pretty lame, but at least it looks better now (I hope*). The “music” section needs a full re-imagining, and the blog is really a separate animal entirely, but it is a start. So who wants to pay me to build them a website now? Personne?

Oh yeah, who wants to take the quiz? I whittled it down to 32 questions, which is a nice round number (in binary). I hope they are the best of the best. There is one particularlly silly question on there that I had no intention of keeping, it was merely my “filler” question as I built and tested the code, but I spent so much time with it that when I was all done I could not bare to throw it out. So see if you can pick that one out. Even if you get everything wrong, you still get to see the right answers, so it sort of doubles as a “25 Random Things” list that was also popular awhile back… with 7 bonus facts!

*My server logs indicate that a significant percentage of people view my site with Internet Explorer 6. IE6 is a bad browser that does not conform to established web standards. However, due to its popularity, webmasters have been forced to use a number of tricks and hacks to try to get it to work properly. Webmasters hate you. Norway hates you. Me, I am not really one to tell people they need to upgrade. I tried for the better part of a day to get my layout to look the same in IE6 as it does in Firefox and Safari. Eventually I decided to just make the things that did not work invisible to you. There are a number of better browsers available. If you do not care then neither will I. Now if someone is using a real browser and things still look out of whack, I definitely want to know about it. I am still new at this after all.


Posted by on Thursday, 11 June, 2009

I was driving yesterday when a song came on the radio that my subconscious immediately recognized from back in the day and shouted, “Now we’re talkin’!” (Can your subconscious shout? Maybe I meant id. I don’t know.) Guitar, guitar, guitar aaaaand… BOOM!
Here you go way too fast
Don’t slow you’re gonna crash
You should watch – watch your step
Don’t look out you’re gonna break your neck

So shut – shut your mouth
‘Cause I’m not listening anyhow
I’ve had enough – enough of you
You know to last a lifetime through

Wait… is this an 80’s song? Nah, man, nah. Gotta be early 90’s. Really? Because it has that poppy upbeat tempo, that smooth female vocal, that glorifying a fast, irresponsible lifestyle, those ‘na nana na na na nana na na naa’s … what about this song isn’t 80’s? But it has that chugchugchugchug guitar thing that’s so 90’s going on!

Alright, who knows who this song is by? Anyone? The name I pulled out of thin air was “Jill Sobule.” This is wrong. It turns out the band in question is “The Primitives”, which I am pretty sure is a name that I never heard before, not one that I had merely forgotten. The song “Crash” was released in 1988. Damn it. BUT Another version of the song (“The ’95 Mix”) was featured on the soundtrack to Dumber and Dumber, released (counter-intuitively) in 1994. Which is likely the version that would be most familiar to anyone who happened to be in high school around that time.