Sunny Days in Heaven
Spiritual/Political/Philosophical Blog on the Nature of Truth and Falsehood and Heaven

Friday, November 07, 2003  

A meditation on true love between a man and woman

At my other blog for longer essays, I have a new one on true love.

People often say - "If everyone thought and felt alike, the world would be boring. It takes all kinds to make a world."

I refute this briefly. People love each other not because they're opposites, but because they are complimentary and alike. Men and women aren't opposites, for example. Difference in gender doesn't mean opposition.

Birds of a feather do flock together. People prefer to live with people who look, think, believe, and act like them. This principle applies to love whether agape, philia, or eros.

Anyway, take a look at my essay and see what you think.

posted by Mark Butterworth | 3:52 AM |

Where can they find a new Madison?

joyfulchristian has a great link to someone who fisks the Afghan Constitution (tentative).

posted by Mark Butterworth | 1:41 AM |

Today's Quotes

You might as well fall flat on your face as lean over too far backward.

James Thurber (1894 - 1961), New Yorker, Apr. 29, 1939 "The Bear Who Let It Alone"

She had a pretty gift for quotation, which is a serviceable substitute for wit.

W. Somerset Maugham (1874 - 1965)

Yup, that's why I quote.

posted by Mark Butterworth | 1:31 AM |

Is it old or Neo?

I saw the Matrix Revolutions tonight. I'm not going to make a long review. (But I have to say that the titles for the last two stink. Reloaded? Revolutions? Sorry, no.)

The movie is not bad, but it doesn't redeem the trilogy. The first movie, The Matrix, was fun. A syncretistic mixture of myths with a forward motion punctuated with moments of amazing action. It presented a rich, multi-layered world. Although the main characters left something to be desired, the ideas were intriguing enough to carry you along.

Matrix Reloaded, though, became a series of endless action scenes interrupted by moments of philosophical gibberish. The only enjoyable character was the villian, Agent Smith. And the love stories simply don't work at all. No is really human enough to qualify as a lover.

This latest movie manages to create concern for Zion and real tension in desire for them to beat the soulless machines, but the long fight between Neo and Smith is unsatisfying since you don't really care for either one, and the physics of it all - real or an extension of the matrix - is nonsensical. There have to be rules, even in fantasy and science fiction. Break too many of them, and everything falls apart. As it does here.

The conclusion is favorable, but the attempt to maintain some semblance of logic through philosophical and mythical perspectives on reality disintegrates, and wrecks the trilogy overall. It doesn't make sense, or rather leads to a bag of silly cliches.

Lileks has a lot to say, though. Particularly this : I took away something else from the Matrix trilogy: it is a product of deeply confused people. They want it all. They want individualism and community; they want secularism and transcendence; they want the purity of committed love and the licentious fun of an S&M club; they want peace and the thrill of violence; they want God, but they want to design him on their own screens with their own programs by their own terms for their own needs, and having defined the divine on their own terms, they bristle when anyone suggests they have simply built a room with a mirror and flattering lighting. All three Matrix movies, seen in total, ache for a God. But they can’t quite go all the way. They’re like three movies about circular flat meat patties that can never quite bring themselves to say the word “hamburger.”

posted by Mark Butterworth | 12:17 AM |

Thursday, November 06, 2003  

Revenge of the Fat Cat, Evil, Rich, White Men. Right?

relapsed Catholic has a fun blog and link about conservative comedians becoming popular.

I remember when I was still liberal (cough, cough) Democrat in Sacramento listening to Rush Limbaugh when he started here. He used to have a bit where Slim Whitman sang Una Paloma with his silly falsetto; and just as his voice climbed the stratosphere like the dove of peace, bombs would begin to burst, shells explode, and guns go off.

Cracked me up everytime, along with other bits he did. I disagreed then with a lot of his thoughts, and agreed with some (how can you not endorse the sobriquet - feminazis?), but he was awfully funny, too.

posted by Mark Butterworth | 3:34 PM |

From Maxwell Smart

From Japan (of course), a wristwatch phone called the Finger Whisper that uses vibrations to turn your finger into an earpiece -- the catch is that you have to actually stick your finger into your ear to get it to work, something that might get rather tedious. Beginning or finishing a call with the Finger Whisper is as simple as touching your forefinger to your thumb.

posted by Mark Butterworth | 3:12 PM |

The Amazing Spiderman

I suppose this guy wants to be the next Jackie Chan, but he's definitely as good as Spiderman - incredible physical stunts.

Once at the site, click on the TV that says - Speed Air Man.

The next one - Slomo - takes Follow the Leader to the next level. (Query. Do boys still play Follow the Leader, King of the Hill aka Monkey on the Mountain? I know they don't play Hide Go Seek much.)

I haven't watched the others there yet.

posted by Mark Butterworth | 2:56 PM |

Compare and Contrast

Marvin Olasky writes at Townhall:

"In India this summer, I witnessed sacrifices of goats and sacrifices by Christians. Goats by the thousands have their throats slit at folk temples throughout India, with bodies left twitching for about 70 seconds. But some Christians work sacrificially to help children live for perhaps another 70 years, with eternal life thereafter. "

"Larger Hindu temples are such big business that the government has taken them over and pays the salaries of both gurus and guards. Many big temples are marketplaces, renting booths to shopkeepers who sell food, toys and baubles amid neon lights and an unholy cacophony. Hinduism, of course, does have an intellectual theology, but on a popular level much of Hinduism is karma marga: keep caste regulations, perform religious rites, offer sacrifices. "

"Tens of millions in India believe that such practice puts the cosmic powers in an indulgent frame of mind toward them. Children learn to fear gods and attempt to placate them in ways large and small. At one of India's largest temples, the famous Menakshi in Madurai, children and adults can pay 2 rupees (about four cents) to throw balls of butter at idols of Shiva and his wife Shakti, thus cooling down their anger. By late afternoon, the statues are dripping in butter. "

Superstition isn't restricted to Hinduism, of course. We see it every place where simple minded, and thoughtless people react childishly to fear or desire.

posted by Mark Butterworth | 2:40 PM |

I told you so, didn't I? Didn't I!

This Townhall article echoes what I've been preaching, for years - TV is bad for people. Especially children.

I have been saying that if we could do one thing to positively change the world (or this country) all we have to do is ban advertsing from electronic media (and restrict its formats in print media - like to a few font sizes, a few colors, and no models of people). Commercial speech is not protected speech the same as political or religious speech.

I wonder why priests and ministers don't teach their congregations to get along without TV. I have heard a few preach about it, but mostly in passing.

I find myself having less patience for TV shows. I hate the passivity. I want to interact in some way. I like the Internet. I control what I see and read, and can respond to it here or in emails.

I prefer to tape shows including sports so that I can zip through the commercials, or the content.

posted by Mark Butterworth | 2:24 PM |

Earth as Art

Another great satellite picture.

posted by Mark Butterworth | 12:41 AM |

Today's Quotes

I don't know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody.

Bill Cosby (1937 - )

When everyone is against you, it means that you are absolutely wrong-- or absolutely right.

Albert Guinon (1863 - 1923)

posted by Mark Butterworth | 12:39 AM |

Let's burn Joan of Arcardia

I saw about twenty minutes of this TV show and tuned out. I hated it. One review complained that it made God out to be a (liberal) high school guidance counselor. Exactly.

But this woman thinks it's better than that: "...The new show, Joan of Arcadia -- from my former RCIA student Barbara Hall - oh, did I let that slip? -- has been picked up by CBS for a full 22 episodes. Joan has won its timeslot every week since its debut. I lurk on a yahoo group of mostly 12-20 year old girls who love the show, and I am very encouraged by the discussion the show incites in their largely uincatechized little souls. The show is particularly good for such as these."

I never would have thought to go lurking like that, but it's a way to find out what kids think. I know lots of Ad people lurk (and instigate) in such places for the products they're pushing.

posted by Mark Butterworth | 12:20 AM |

Dick Tracy has a fit

Does it seem like some gadgets try to do too much?

Then read about this: "Just got word of a new camcorder phone from Samsung that can record up to two hours of video. But it gets even better. The SCH-V410 can also double as a remote control for a TV or DVD player, take still digital pictures (with flash), and play music stored on it without having to open up the phone. It also has a 262,000 color internal LCD screen, an external OLED screen, and support for video-on-demand services. "

Does anyone remember Asimov's Foundation Trilogy? One tale of it involves a man visiting a primitive planet with a gadget that was simply a slab of metal. Its electronics were built into the molecules of the metal. It could become just about anything. A radio, a computer, a video computer, and so on. But like Arthur Clarke said, it would be magic to the people he was seeing, although if they captured it, they'd never have a clue as how to operate it.

Well, we're getting there. They used what I'd call a Tricorder in Iraq in the search for WMDs. It was a handheld device that could analyze for chemicals in the air, and perform five spectro-analyses at once. Cellphones are, of course, the classic Trek "communicators". MRIs are Trek Sick Bay beds.

posted by Mark Butterworth | 12:03 AM |

Wednesday, November 05, 2003  

Can Conservatives be Optimists?

Paul Cella of Cella's Review has a column up at Tech Central Station asking and answering that question in that mellifluous style Paul has crafted.

Take this sentence, for example, "Our culture has come to despise the organic sources of its vitality, as when we refer scornfully to great men with terms of glib abuse like "dead white males"; and those who value their own heritage have become the outsiders."

I love this phrase - to great men with terms of glib abuse.

Paul's afraid Americans are living on the steam of our Founders and the boiler isn't being stoked afresh, but will peter out. I have the same fear.

posted by Mark Butterworth | 10:17 PM |

Inside Iraq with an Iraqi

If you don't read Instapundit, you might have missed this post from an Iraqi blogger. Want to know why Iraqis aren't in the news for helping Americans? He explains. And explains that they are, literally, dying to help stabilize their country.

It will give you heart and hope in what the press makes look like a hopeless situation with a misbegotten people.

Also, he has a great quote of Swift's on his blog header.

Instaman also linked to this post from the Arab News in which a columnist revises his opinion, thanks God (well, he doesn't go that far) for our war and occupatrion of Iraq, and explains why it's bound to be a good thing.

posted by Mark Butterworth | 9:59 PM |

Hopeful news on heart disease

I have coronary heart disease and so this new drug looks very promising. Italian cholesterol. Read about it here.

posted by Mark Butterworth | 2:35 PM |

For all you garage inventors and tinkerers

The Human Genome is now online along with mouse, rat, fruitfly and more. You can do your own biology in a jar experiments. Build a better mousetrap? No, no, no! Build a better mouse!

posted by Mark Butterworth | 2:03 PM |

Brave New World Toilets

Click on the 675K AVI Link at this little blog to see what those incredible Europeans have thought of now. You will have to watch the brief clip a few times to ponder the matter of this throne.

posted by Mark Butterworth | 1:59 PM |

Bush Signs Bill Ending Partial Birth Abortions, but then...

LINCOLN, Neb. — A federal judge in Nebraska blocked implementation of a federal ban on partial-birth abortions Wednesday, less than an hour after President Bush signed the ban into law. Fox News

Well, you knew this was going to happen, but a little time, a few deaths averted, wouldn't that have been nice? I'm also wondering where these Federal judges get the authority to block duly created laws as though they are mere bagatelles.

posted by Mark Butterworth | 1:42 PM |

You've never heard it on Comedy Central

An Opinion on Abortion by Three Dead Trolls in a Baggie is here.

One farmer's opinion. You will laugh because it hurts. Conservative comedy from Canada? Hard to believe.

posted by Mark Butterworth | 3:52 AM |

The New Phone Books Are here! The New Phone Books Are here!

Okay, I promised beautiful music. Go here to amazon and listen to this tune. So lovely. It was for my two year old daughter in 1986 or so.

posted by Mark Butterworth | 3:42 AM |

Faberge might have something to say about this

Egg carving. You just never know what someone will think of next.

posted by Mark Butterworth | 3:23 AM |

Today's Quote

My life has no purpose, no direction, no aim, no meaning, and yet I'm happy. I can't figure it out. What am I doing right?

Charles M. Schulz

Ahh, if only I could feel the same.

posted by Mark Butterworth | 3:19 AM |

"British Saskatchalbertatoba"

"The western provinces of Canada secede from the country and form their own empire. This is their national anthem."

By Three Dead Trolls in a Baggie. Tres amusant.

It's Have to register. (But I told you before to do so. You have no excuse for missing these links, do you? Do you?)

posted by Mark Butterworth | 3:11 AM |

Joe Lieberman in his other life

This site is very amusing. Joe and his Star Wars career.

posted by Mark Butterworth | 3:07 AM |

On the Clock

If you don't have this clock, you've missed a very novel thing.

posted by Mark Butterworth | 3:04 AM |

Unions or Bust

Larry Miller, actor and funny man with a regular feature at The Weekly Standard, has brought me around to his point of view in this column.

I don't much like unions. I've been in a factory one which was corrupt, and I've been in a few public ones (Post Office, Forest Service). My wife is forced to be a member of the communist teacher's union.

But I also remember what it's like to be an ordinary working guy. You help to make others rich (or prosperous) and get a decent living if you're lucky.

I accept the fact that we've traded the fearful life of farmers, for that of ready-to-be-downsized-at-any-time workers. The economy is the new weather which keeps us on our toes and insecure.

But when the only ones who don't really profit from their labor are the workers, then I'm with the unions. Or some sort of group that can fight for a laborer.

A business is composed of three people (groups). Management, Investors, and Workers. Each group is entitled to a share of profit, and each group should suffer equally in times of down turn, but it never works that way. Workers always are the first to pay when there needs to be cost cutting. Most investors never have a real stake in a company. It simply exists for profit taking in stock trading. Capitalism needs to be better than quarterly profit lines.

I say this as an investor in mutual funds. I want lots of profit taking, but I think the clerk at the checkout counter ought to be able to put his kids through college, too.

Immigration, legal and illegal, will always undermine a workers bargaining power, though.

posted by Mark Butterworth | 2:51 AM |

I need a new drug (or word)

David Letterman has dropped in the ratings to Leno. I don't care (except that Leno is unwatchable. Talk about dirty minded, everything leads to a dirty joke and wink wink, nudge nudge. The guy has no wit.) except that Letterman was characterized as "ironic" as a comedian, and thus high brow and not appealing to dolts.

It seems to me, though, that Letterman wasn't ironic. Jonathan Swift was ironic. Shakespeare could be ironic. Greek tragedy is ironic. We need a new word for what Letterman and Gen X liked to laugh about. We can start with the words snide, smarmy, cold, and soulless.

I'm sorry, but Stupid Pet Tricks was not ironic. Dropping things off a high rise was not ironic. It was a bit incongruous, and sometimes funny what pet owners and their animals would do, but irony doesn't enter the picture.

It's like the song, Isn't it Ironic, by Alanis Morisette in which much of what she listed wasn't ironic as an english professor pointed out.

I think the word - stupid - probably covers Letterman's comedy.

Hey, stupid can be funny. After all, Dogberry is hilarious. It's just not ironic. That's all.

posted by Mark Butterworth | 1:53 AM |

In a Slump?

Is it just me, or has anyone else noticed that Jonah Goldberg at NRO hasn't written a good column in what seems like months?

His latest Townhall column really doesn't really zing or sing at all, and seems typical of what he's been writing lately.

I'm not trying to complain, maybe all his energy is going into his book, but I just noticed I'm not getting much pleasure out of reading him lately. Just an observation. Everyone has slumps and doldrums. A writer's are more obvious and public.

posted by Mark Butterworth | 1:28 AM |

Kid anecdotes

Whenever I read Lileks, I get mushy about little kids (how I miss little ones). So I recalled this story.

When my daughter was about seven, my brother and father showed up to visit. We took them to dinner where my brother ordered a beer from the list. He then looked across the booth at my daughter, and teased, "How about one for you?"

Without batting an eyelash, she replied, "No thanks. They don't have the kind I like here."

Oh, man how I laughed. (Chuckled really, laughed hard later.) What a comeuppance to a smartass (that's my bro). Seven years old! The wit was immediate, and her tone was dry and completely matter of fact. She never cracked a smile. Talk about a proud father.

posted by Mark Butterworth | 12:41 AM |

Quick and dirty physics thoughts

I have a bias in science. I believe in observation and reproducible experiments, and certainty in conclusions. All must be demonstrable. My strongest belief is that the Universe, and all its myriad forces and operations, are perfectly simple and easily understood. In fact, if something cannot be explained logically with concrete terms (not fancy math with hidden asumptions and pretend values or functions) it isn't real. I am strong wielder of Occam's Razor. God does not throw dice.

1) We hear a lot about "the fabric of space". No one defines it or explains it realistically. By virtue of the very word "fabric" a false picture is generated. Space is "oceanic" if anything. Not a cloth.

2) We hear a lot about Time as a dimension, but dimension only means "spatial" and there can only be three spatial dimensions which humans can observe. Time functions solely as a result of matter moving in relation to other forms of matter. Time is not a dimension, it is a function, an operation. No one can prove that time is a dimension.

(Actually, time only exists in relation to living things which can observe it, experience it.)There were operations prior to life in the universe, but there really was no Time. There were no years, no nanoseconds. There was simply processes without measurement. ) Only consciousness can measure Time.

3) Any fool can say that 100 dimensions of space exist in a nonexistent imaginary point. No one can prove it is real.

4) Ain't it funny how some physicists keep calling for a higher and higher dimension to space? It's nonsense metaphysics, and BS math. Isn't the idea of 16 or more dimensions of space existing at a single point truly a question of how many angels can dance on the head of a pin?

5) Bertrand Russell pointed out that with one false value in math (3 = 4), and you can literally prove anything you can imagine. Much of the current model taught in physics is based on such fudged values, and overripe assumptions.

6) Einstein didn't discover the famous E = MC2. It was in a paper written five years before his in Nature.

The "100 YEARS AGO" item in the 6 April 2000 issue of Nature (Vol. 404, p. 553) is taken from the 5 April 1900 issue of Nature (note the dates), and it states:

"The calculations of M. Henri Becquerel show that this energy is of the order of one ten-millionth of a watt per second. Hence a loss of weight of about a milligram in a thousand million years would suffice to account for the observed effects, assuming the energy of the radiation to be derived from the actual loss of material. "

The assumption that accounts for the stated (in the 5 April 1900 issue of Nature) figures is E=mc2. But according to APS News, this is "Einstein's most famous formula" which in September 1905 was "a startling new insight".

Curious and curiouser.

posted by Mark Butterworth | 12:02 AM |

Tuesday, November 04, 2003  

You never know what you'll find

I once came across a web site to help atheists argue against Christians, and other religions in my travels. That's not unusual. Christians have sites, too, on how to argue with atheists.

What caught my eye was that the principle purpose of this site was to teach people how to be trolls. That is, to argue in a way to infuriate an opponent; and not in a way to honestly refute or engage.

One piece if advice in the list of arguments to make or avoid was to avoid facing the question of how you can get something from nothing as I said in the post below.

The primary advice to the atheist was for him to change the subject, shift the ground, deny the question, and insult the theist in order to make him lose his temper.

I also saw a book in a store's religious section for atheist arguments and gave similar advice about not answering basic questions on truth, logic, and being.

posted by Mark Butterworth | 10:40 PM |

A running debate

I've been having an email exchange with the atheist, Steven Den Beste, regarding physics and the impossibility of gravity curving Space as some models insist upon.

You can read it in detail at my other site here.

Steven generally tends to cut and run when the going gets tough for him, since he cannot define Truth, nor accept logic when it leads where he doesn't want to go. As an atheist, he refuses to answer the question - how can you get something from nothing (a universe, for example)?

Nor will he comprehend the Kalam Argument which proves there can be no such things as an actual infinity (as many mathemeticians also point out). Infinity only exists in reality as a potential, although it exists in math as an imaginary idea that can be represented.

His answer on the something from nothing question is to say it doesn't interest him. (How convenient.) Same with the question of Truth. He can't answer it, or rather won't, since he knows his answer will be shredded for illogic and contradiction, so he evades it. Just as in our exchange he refuses to answer how - if Space is nothing, how can force or gravity or anything act upon it and curve it? In other words, how can SOMEthing act on NOthing?

The principle object of Steven is that he doesn't want the universe to make sense. There is a class of scientists (among others like philosophers) who don't want the Universe to be sensible and comprehensible. That which we understand tends to lose its awe and novelty. It loses, mystery, complexity, and wonder like magic tricks we figure out. Once we get it, it no longer amuses.

For an atheist to see the Universe as coherent sense relatively easy to grasp is for him to lose the god he worships - his belief in a greater Mystery: himself and the bigger incomprehensible Self - the Cosmos. Occam's Razor becomes the enemy of such a person. Their dogmas depend on uncertainty, indeterminancy, and probability. 20th century physics was a graveyard for rationality, just as it was for moral verities.

Steven, and others like him, do everything they can to not think about facts and obvious truths to preserve their illusion of an unfathomable Cosmos. That's how they avoid God, by making God a Thing (and not a person) which they insist is ultimately incomprehensible.

The marvelous thing about God is that he is personable, comprehensible, demonstrative. There is nothing which he will not reveal. It requires patience is all. (Yes, I know people often claim God is beyond our comprehension as he is, but how would they know? All my experience of God shows me that God hides nothing; and has a way of exposing his nature. We are not God, of course, but we will be as gods. I can know my father perfectly as he is, but I may not be able to exhaust all that he knows.)

posted by Mark Butterworth | 10:06 PM |

It makes you mad

My wife teaches second grade. Her school serves immigrant families primarily. She is one of the few teachers who says the Pledge of Allegiance everyday; and tries to teach about American heroes like George Washington.

She says none of her colleagues will teach anything about the American Revolution and our Founders and heroes like Nathan Hale, or figures like Daniel Boone and Davey Crockett. (They spend most time on the Civil War and Lincoln.)

One of her students is a girl who is an Arab. She calls herself Palestinian and claims to come from the country of Palestine. This girl used to say the Pledge everyday along with all the other students until today. Today, she said her father told her not to do it anymore.

No, not because she is a Jehovah's Witness, an atheist, or conscientious objector. She can no longer say it because her father doesn't want her to pledge allegiance to the USA. These are the kinds of people we are letting into this nation. We taking vipers to our very bosom.

posted by Mark Butterworth | 9:08 PM |

Homosexual Bishop Robinson Sued for Infringement

From Scrappleface:

(2003-11-03) -- Following the weekend consecration of the Episcopal Church's first openly-homosexual bishop, another bishop has filed an infringement suit against Bishop V. Gene Robinson.

"All the other bishops know about my lifestyle," said the plaintiff bishop, who wished to remain anonymous. "I'm not only homosexual but I'm also promiscuous, which is something our new golden boy apparently can't claim."

The bishop said his homosexual profligacy "demonstrates the love of Christ to sinners and also that I'm the one who should get any future book and movie deals."

This guy, Scrappleface, is good.

posted by Mark Butterworth | 1:32 AM |

The information superhighway

Now that I just got cable broadband, guess what? Fiber-optic cable is coming to my neighborhood from a different company.

If it's cheaper and faster, or the same price and faster, I'll probably go with it. I have a NEED FOR SPEED!

posted by Mark Butterworth | 1:18 AM |

Two Quotes for Today

Man is a rational animal who always loses his temper when called upon to act in accordance with the dictates of reason.

Orson Welles (1915 - 1985)

Every journalist has a novel in him, which is an excellent place for it.

Russel Lynes

Yes, most books should never have been written, but then most things we say could be just as well left unsaid.

posted by Mark Butterworth | 12:52 AM |

Fantastic simplisme

This fellow sees some negatives in Tolkien and LOTR.

"Tolkien is the wen on the arse of fantasy literature. His oeuvre is massive and contagious - you can't ignore it, so don't even try. The best you can do is consciously try to lance the boil. And there's a lot to dislike - his cod-Wagnerian pomposity, his boys-own-adventure glorying in war, his small-minded and reactionary love for hierarchical status-quos, his belief in absolute morality that blurs moral and political complexity. Tolkien's clichés - elves 'n' dwarfs 'n' magic rings - have spread like viruses. He wrote that the function of fantasy was 'consolation', thereby making it an article of policy that a fantasy writer should mollycoddle the reader. "

"Glorying in war"? I suppose if anyone had a right to glory in war, it would be Tolkien who knew the horror first hand in the trenches in WW1.

This is really an attack on J.R.R.'s Christian/Catholic moralism. The problem for fantasy writers is that Tolkien's Middle Earth is not only epic, but it is so fully realized in both its myth and characters - its races, histories, languages, and primitive pitch like Norse sagas and Homeric legends.

Everybody else's fantasy world thus suffers by comparison as small, pinched, shallow, trite, and thin. Tolkien is the Tolstoy of the genre (and transcends it), whereas others try to be John Grisham - plot driven pot boilers with cliche observations, and one dimensional characters.

posted by Mark Butterworth | 12:48 AM |

Life imitates art

"Rob Baur, a huge Simpsons fan, grafted a tomato plant to a tobacco plant, grew it, and tonight he has proof from the lab that it worked. "What we found was nicotine in the leaves". said scientist Ray Grimsbo. The plant grew off the tobacco roots and sucked up the nicotine, just like Tomacco on The Simpsons. The lab hasn't tested if the actual tomato has nicotine in it yet, but they say it probably does. "Generally in the fruit there is more material concentrated because that's what everything's going through to produce the fruit for the next generation. I would expect there would be more." And that would make the real life tomacco plant very poisonous. Rob Baur says he grew the tomacco plant just for fun, just to see if it would really work. But what's next for him? "I'll have to review my DVD's to see if there is more Simpsons science available.""

You can view the news video feature here.

posted by Mark Butterworth | 12:30 AM |

Prayer Policy

joyfulchristian makes a good point in response to my blog a few posts below on prayer.

He writes: "While I don't fall into the "If we can just accumulate enough prayers, God will change his mind" camp, I do tend to petition God for the same thing repeatedly. In fact, I tend to continue to pray to God for something until the matter has been conclusively resolved one way or the other."

When there was or is something about myself (or someone else) that is ongoing or unresolved, the desire to keep asking for God to do something is very strong. Catholics may be familiar with St. Monica's endless prayers for her son, the fellow who became St. Augustine.

One occasion when I continually beseeched God for help was when I desperately wanted to quit smoking tobacco. The funny thing was, though, that it wasn't until I gave up begging for grace that it came, and I was able to quit quite easily.

So, on the one hand, I don't want to discourage repetitive appeals, but on the other hand, I've seen that it can also take staying attuned to notice the grace when it comes. We can often be so focused on our emotional need and the result we want, that we ignore the divine response in the small, still quality of voice when it comes.

But my recommendation is the same as you find in the Gospel. Pray constantly.

posted by Mark Butterworth | 12:17 AM |

Monday, November 03, 2003  

I Stump Einstein?

Steven Den Beste replied to an email, and follow up of mine at his site.

If you're at all familiar with 20th century physics, my query and his replies may interest you. But to Steven and non-euclidian geometry, I say this - I know how the idea of triangles drawn on a basketball (sphere) form more degrees than 360.

That still doesn't explain how you can curve Space, particularly when you realize that Space is more like water, an ocean in which all things are immersed. An ocean can have currents, different pressures and temperatures, but you can never curve it non-Euclid or not.

Saying that Einstein proved that Space is curved is a poor fallback position. What Einstein proved was that light gets bent. Not that Space is curved. As you often say, correlation is not cause.

Also, String theory is a crock of you know what. It ignores the fact that Space/Vacuum is a substance, and not a nothing. That being the case, strings in the super sub-atomic level could not exist alone, but would have to be either smaller or interact with the "beer foam" as Hawkings describes Vacuum. String theory does not account for Vacuum as substance at all, from what I've heard of it.

What is actually more possible (but not acceptable to the faithful believers in the Standard Model) is that Einstein and Quantum theory are wrong. Accurate enough in some predictability (like Newton's Laws) to prove useful, but not accurate enough to reconcile the anomalies.

Carver Mead has a lot to say about these things and is worth reading here.

The original American Spectator article is no longer online, but I have it cached on my hard drive if anyone wants it.

posted by Mark Butterworth | 11:48 PM |

God's Prayer Policy

Asking Jonah Goldberg to host a symposium (of sorts) on prayer is like having a colorblind man to run a workshop on impressionist painting. I hope that's not too harsh, but Jonah simply hasn't much interest in religious belief other than as artifacts of human experience he doesn't quite get.

It began with his blog: "I constantly hear about the power of prayer. Often, when I listen to televaneglists, represenatives of the Catholic Church and a host of lay and civil leaders there is a declared or implied view that the more people who pray for something the more likely it is that it will happen....Anyway, so my question is: Why should the number of prayers or praying petitioners matter? Surely God isn't a politician."

I was going to talk a little about how some studies on prayer indicate objective results, but this article on prayer research debunks those claims.

Which is just as well. There is a notion in all the major religions that some sort of prayer tank needs to be filled before some concern will be met by God. No one knows how many prayers it will take, but spinning enough wheels or saying rosaries will eventually do the trick.

When asked to pray for someone or on my own initiative for others (like our soldiers and their families), I say one prayer and that's it. I usually say it immediately. I don't care whether it comes across as especially sincere or not. I mean to express my concern, and leave the rest up to God.

I believe in the efficacy of petitionary prayer, but I don't make my faith depend on it.

My love of prayer involves what it does to change and alter the Self. Development in prayer is the way in which righteousness grows, where insight and wisdom flourishes.

posted by Mark Butterworth | 4:17 PM |

This is possible, but sickening

Best of the Web mention this: "In London's Daily Telegraph, Barbara Amiel observes that "I've heard Americans gloat over their own casualties in Iraq, as if every death were a stab in Bush's heart alone rather than in American soldiers, so profound is their hatred."

Don't read the London article. It's a rehash on Bush haters.

posted by Mark Butterworth | 3:39 PM |

Today's Quote:

I love acting. It is so much more real than life.

Oscar Wilde (1854 - 1900), The Picture of Dorian Gray, 1891

My daughter would agree with this. I agree with it, too, but I'd extend the saying to all art. (But then, my taste goes for sublime art.)

posted by Mark Butterworth | 5:04 AM |

Jonah's least favorite pet

Got this picture
from The Corner a few weeks ago. It will be funny to you if you haven't seen it and aren't a child.

Well, it made me laugh.

posted by Mark Butterworth | 4:16 AM |

Eye Candy

This picture with scripture will make a nice bit of desktop wallpaper to please for awhile.

Of course, if anyone can advise me as to how I can add photos directly to my blog, I'd appreciate it.

posted by Mark Butterworth | 3:51 AM |

Modest Scarring

A student film. " A young man toying with the idea of getting a tattoo interviews his family, tattoo artists and other people to see how they feel about it. "

It's at IFilm here.

Runs about 28 min.

I don't want to give away the ending since the whole thing is his debate on whether to get a tattoo or not, but his argument comes down to whether he will regret never having been rebellious enough to mutilate his body when he felt like doing so. Even though he knows he may not like having a tattoo when he's 30 or 40.

His attitude about bourgeois (bore-jee-wah) people is curious. He really hates the idea of being an ordinary joe. Makes you want to shove Ecclesiates under his nose - "Vanity of vanities, all is vanity saith the Lord."

That text made a deep impression on me when I was young.

(I never let my daughter get her ears pierced. Bodies don't need extra holes in them.)

posted by Mark Butterworth | 3:41 AM |

Why don't we duh-do it in the road?

Went to a movie Friday night (to avoid Halloween), and my wife and I were treated for our money with commercials (not a slide show, but made for the movie house film commercials). That was infuriating enough, but at the end of the last commercial, a long screen shot of a Coke logo with the slogan - Do What you Feel.

Apparently, we're way past the day of - if it feels good, do it. Using the word "good" now is too judgmental. Just do it - do what you feel. Want to kill somebody - if you feel like it, do it! Want to yell at somebody - do it! Feel like spitting on someone - go ahead, don't hold back; repressing your feelings is bad!

The movie started about a half hour later than its listed time, and worse, the movie was a liberal piece of trash like - The Life of David Gale. Only this was Runaway Jury.

Very effective propaganda, though. Guns bad - gun haters good. Guns always hurt other people. Guns never save anyone. Gun companies run by a club of rich, evil, Southern white men.

The movie's good white guy played by Dustin Hoffman makes no bones about the fact that he's intent on using the courts to change the law - and there's nothing wrong with that!

I thought I was watching an episode of The West Wing. Or Boston Public. A couple of shows I've seen only once. (And hate.)

My daughter recommended Runaway Jury to me as a fine court drama and thriller. No review I read said it was politicized and deeply biased to the left. My daughter, for Pete's sake! A good Christian girl with conservative values completely failed to notice the movie was a vehicle for propaganda.

That is why we are losing the Culture War. Our young people are absorbing notions through the emotionalism of TV and movies. There is no rebuttal in a movie or to a TV show. It is uninterrupted preaching and subverting. A good plot with exciting twists makes the bitter medicine of false and evil morality go down so easy. It just makes you furious.

Where are our TV and movie producers, directors, writers? Christians try to provide a counter cultural alternative in music, books, and schools, but as artists - Christians and conservatives can't seem to find and support any fine artists who can compete with the secular world.

For example, go rent TimeChanger. A serious Christian movie, a sort of fish out of water story with good production values. Rent it, but you'll be disappointed by it overall. There are a few good scenes, and some strong points it makes, but its didacticism leaves it quite stiff and arch, and far too preachey (and precious at times).

Yet, I could not get the filmmaking brothers to read my beautiful tale, Brightness Springs. It's not that they rejected it, but that they wouldn't read it. Why? Because they write all their own movies (and they are quite mediocre at it).

Anyway, Runaway Jury stinks, and so does paying to watch Coke commercials.

posted by Mark Butterworth | 2:46 AM |

Saturday, November 01, 2003  

Obsolete? No way.

I'm seeing that my template is so yesterday that it's actually verging on retro, which would make it way cool.

posted by Mark Butterworth | 11:20 PM |

Earth as Art

Very cool site. These clouds make a strange/lovely picture. Looks more like a painting than a picture. Click on picture to isolate and enlarge.

posted by Mark Butterworth | 10:07 PM |

Today's Quote

An author is a fool who, not content with boring those he lives with, insists on boring future generations.

Charles de Montesquieu (1689 - 1755)

I plead guilty.

posted by Mark Butterworth | 9:32 PM |

This could save your life!!!! And that of soldiers.

The Corner Shot. A rifle that shoots around corners. Must see it to believe it.

posted by Mark Butterworth | 9:29 PM |

Kings rock.

I don't care too much about sports, now, but I do enjoy the basketball Kings. The real beauty of it is this - for so many years Sacramento endured being the laughingstock of the league. But we supported our hapless dolts like nobody's business.

Then all of a sudden, the Kings became, not just a good team, but one of the best teams to watch. Not only are they fun to watch, but I am convinced that they are one of the best teams in the history of the league. Like the old Celtics, Lakers, Dr. J 76er's, Walton's Trailblazers, and some others, the Kings make basketball fun and a clinic for everyone who appreciates great team play, fast offense, outstanding passing, unselfish teamwork, and tense defense.

The coach, Rick Adelman, deserves a lot of credit, but he isn't getting it. Too bad.

Even if the Kings never win a championship (we wuz robbed!), they will be remembered.

posted by Mark Butterworth | 8:16 PM |

Hooray for me!

Thanks Kathy! for the kind mention at relapsed Catholic.

posted by Mark Butterworth | 7:41 PM |

Coming Attractions

Reasons to stay tuned to this site. In a week or so I will have MP3's available for download (free) at

Why should you care?

Because I also happen to be a virtuoso guitar player ( a heckuva composer, and song writer, to boot) who makes a beautiful noise.

I'll also be linking to friends of mine who are doing wonderful, but obscured work in music and song.

In fact, try this site and song. Very powerful and original Christian tune by Alan Horvath - Who Do You Say.

I also love the drive and music on this tune of his - Straight and Narrow.

Alan's an old Nashville pro and has a host of LOTR's tunes he's been working on long before the current movies. Many, many people really dig them, man. Including David Bowie. Check out Alan's website. He has lots of nice things to say about himself, just like I do (about him and myself).

posted by Mark Butterworth | 7:35 PM |

Eat the Rich Dept.

Dan Weintraub reports: Rob Reiner and the California Teachers Association are preparing to file a ballot measure for November, 2004 that would increase commercial property taxes by 55 percent and dedicate the money -- $4.5 billion annually -- to expanded pre-school and K-12 education.

Prop. 13 kept business property taxes low since there is generally less turnover (hence less re-assessment).

I can see the campaign now - those bloody fat cat businessman are starving our schools of money. it's all "for the children!"

Half our school money is already wasted on a jobs program for liberals. Of course, they will never give the parents their own money back to choose for themselves, but the answer for terribly spent money is to spend even more of it badly.

I used to love California so much. It was once the greatest place on earth to live. Stop the insanity!

posted by Mark Butterworth | 7:18 PM |

People like this soldier here are beginning to find out how crazy middle eastern culture is.

There was an article a few days ago (which I can't find to hand) that talked about Arab addiction to irregular warfare relating it to their honor/shame/victim culture.

The upshot is that of tribal people with little sense of personal responsibility (everything else is a conspiracy against one no matter how absurd), plus an enormous sense of honor (revenge is essential to restoring self-esteem). Arabs lie incessantly since it would dishonor them to admit failure, a mistake, a lack of skill or knowledge, or inability to deliver on a contract. They can be very gracious hosts, but lying and deception is an entire way of life.

In my less gracious moments, I wonder if such a culture can possible persuade itself to change; and if maybe the Romans and others had the cruel, but better idea of simply annihilating obnoxious peoples rather than having to endure further annoyance (and assaults).

Frontline/World had a feature on trying to rebuild a bombed village in Afghanistan and the endemic problems with the culture, a warlord, and lawlessness.

The video of the show isn't up yet at the site (will be up Monday), but there are articles to read.

posted by Mark Butterworth | 7:05 PM |

Slap Happy in Helena

This guy only did what I've wanted to do hundreds of times to snotty, punk kids.

Deserves a raise, if you ask me (and you are, aren't you?)

posted by Mark Butterworth | 6:47 PM |

MTV comes to Medina (Sharif don't like it. Rock the Casbah!)

Got links from NRO to Reason about Arab music videos - think - "sexy, whiskey, democracy!"

One of the more provocative female singers has a hot video of her dancing in the rain in a red dress. Her site is a bit tricky and tedius in doing all sorts of flash things, but stick with it to get to her home page and video clips.

Apparently many of these sexy Arab female singers are Christians. Many commentators believe that such pop culture indulgence will transform Muslim and Arab societies.

I suppose it will, but is that really a good thing? Is the West better for having MTV, VH-1, Playboy, satellite porn, and the sexualization of children? Can we not understand why Islamic moralists might think this kind of license is harmful to a society? Decadence and depravity are not pretty sights.

posted by Mark Butterworth | 5:03 PM |

The New Day

Judgement Day or the separation of sheep and goats. This painting would look good in a church or as desktop wallpaper.

Scroll down for other paintings if you wish. I like "Healing", also. Not stupendous artworks, but they please the eye.

posted by Mark Butterworth | 3:30 AM |

Like rats deserting a sinking...

I've noticed that a great many bloggers have left Blogger for other sites like TypePad. I'd love to know if the grass is really greener and why, so send an email or make a comment. Is there anyone who hasn't lost some hair (from pulling it out) to Blogger?

No, not rats; or maybe smart, brilliant rats who have evolved past former limitations and angst.

posted by Mark Butterworth | 3:22 AM |

What is Libel?

Instapundit links to a brouhaha about an NR columnist, Luskin and a blogger called Atrios. Luskin is claiming libel about being labeled a stalker of Paul Krugman by others.

Bill Quick says: Leaving aside the question of whether Luskin is enough of a public figure that he cannot effectively be libeled (I think he is), by dragging in the lawyers to muzzle Atrios in what I believe is his right to free expression moves Luskin beyond the pale of the blogosphere, particularly the ethic that underlies the very existence of the blogosphere.

Something I've been careful about from day one of my blogging is that people are liable for what they write. You can't simply defame, denigrate, and slander at will. You don't have a right to do it in your local tavern, at work, or anywhere public.

I've felt for a long time that our libel laws (court rulings against our former libel laws) are much too lax. Having any kind of public identity makes anyone a helpless target. The blogosphere doesn't mean free, unfettered speech. Rules of decorum and law still apply.

Maybe Luskin should have a thicker skin, but if he can throw a scare into bloggers who use the web as a giant megaphone to spout vicious slurs, then I'm for it. Some speech ought to be chilled. Some people should be forced to shut their ugly mouths.

P.S. I could be wrong about this, but I believe the J.D. Salinger case created the ruling that letters have a copyright which belongs to their author, and cannot be printed without permission. So for all those who print emails or letters from lawyers like Atrios did, they might wish to remember whose rights are whose.

posted by Mark Butterworth | 2:42 AM |

New blog sites of Me! Me! Me!

I'm working on creating new blog sites for myself. One for longer essays and thoughts, and another for one of my books. That one's already operational but I can't get the permalinks to work right. The book is divided into five or six sections.

It's called A Martian Bible, and contains much fine writing from many perspectives. Prophecies, Psalms, Lamentations, Parables, a new Gospel of Jesus, and Letters.

I've poured everything I've thought about, and learned about God into it from every possible angle. I have new stories about Jesus and parables by him ( by me, but they are new). I call it a Martian Bible because the word Markan is already taken, and I've been using the term to call my recordings Martian Music for a long time. Mark means son of Mars in Latin, and so martian is appropriate for a warrior for righteousness.

When you look at the breadth, invention, and extent of the work, well, I am rather amazed at it. I hope others will find it to be fascinating and beautiful.

Some may find a passage or idea here or there to be heretical, but I believe that a large part of it was inspired, and is ripe with fresh analogies, metaphors, ways of looking at God and humanity, our salvation and suffering.

posted by Mark Butterworth | 1:50 AM |