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You're starting to see things again.  This line is Home n't really here. Do you still hear the voices too?

Y'know, this really is a cool service the good Googleers have whipped up for us here.  It's quite the easiest site to set up that I've messed with so far. Blogger is as easy, as far as the basics go, but there are a lot of options.  This one is clean and simple, with no more options than are necessary to make a decent-looking page.  Good on yer, Googleers!

Since I'm going to be using it mostly as a blog, I'll begin to keep the reverse chronology below, but I did want to compliment the folks at the Googleplex.  I'm a great Google fan.  I switched all my mail to Gmail not too long after it first came out, and I now do most of my writing online with Writely. I liked it before Google bought it, and I'm really interested in seeing what they'll do with it.  Minimal change is my guess, as they did with Blogger.  Yes, I've got a blog too - also hosted by Google - and I use a number of their other services.  Call me a fanboy if you will, but I know good stuff when I see it, and you can't beat the price.




I Just Don't Get It!

Now we have the Gospel of Judas.

I’ve got to tell you, I just don’t understand the (apparent) fear that drives the true believers. Folks claim to have the One True Faith. The various branches of the various faiths seem to have different beliefs, some of them claiming to be the O.T.F., others admitting that there’s a possibility that some others may have it more-or-less right (but they’re the rightest), and still others saying It’s All Good, and this is true not only of Christians but of all the other major religions. Some don’t really care what others believe, but they all seem to think they’re the ones on the right track. A fellow could go nuts just figuring out which One True Faith to espouse!

Of course, yours is the real One True Faith. All those other folks are misguided at best, and Servants of the Devil at worst, depending on the degree of paranoia that your local shaman managed to warp into your head.

OK. You’ve got the O.T.F. Good on yer. I’m glad for you. But if that’s the case, why do you have to keep defending it? I mean, if it’s the real thing, it’s the real thing. Period. No argument. You’ve got it, and they don’t. I can understand if you want to spread the Word - generous of you, and all that - but what’s with the defensive stuff? You’d thing God couldn’t take care of Himself, or something.

So here’s the Gospel of Judas, purporting to show that the Iscariot conspired with Jesus to get him arrested and put on trial. Well, heck, it was a prophecy, wasn’t it? What difference does it make? Fulfilled is fulfilled, isn’t it? And besides, who ya gonna believe, anyway? The other Gospels (four survivors out of several dozen, the historians tell us) have it outnumbered, and have had nearly 2000 years to get embedded in folks’ brains. What threat is a Johnny-come-lately jigsaw puzzle of a gospel to that? I mean, True Faith is true faith, isn’t it? If you really believe, what you say is something like "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but false jigsaw gospels can never hurt me," right? You ignore the thing, and watch with amusement while the religious historians mull it over for a few centuries, convinced (aren’t you?) that God will sort the Truth out in the long run.

Oddly enough, that seems to be pretty much what’s happening with the Gospel of Judas. The media have been giving it a bit of a run, but even the most conservative of the shamans seem to be taking it in stride. Which makes the response to The DaVinci Code seem even more ridiculous than it did to begin with.

I suppose we should be impressed by one thing: The DaVinci Code has brought Christian leaders into agreement on a basic matter of dogma, sort of (if anyone’s even sure what dogma it contradicted). Anyway, they seem to agree that it’s unacceptable to all right-thinking Christians and that it may well be a Work of the Devil or something like that. (Well, not everyone agrees, but you get the idea.)

How weird!

Dan Brown’s book isn’t even a very good novel. It’s OK, but not great work. If the Defenders of the Faith had ignored the thing, it would have run its course and sunk without a trace in a year or so. But no - they had to make it a cause celebre, and now it’s famous. Dumb. Just dumb. The Catholics commissioned books, made pronouncements from the pulpits, published letters from bishops and generally publicized the pondering of various biblical scholars who felt called to criticize the theology of a blinkin’ work of fiction! The other Christians did likewise, especially the more fundamentalist groups, creating the first real meeting of the various minds since the inception of the Right to Life campaign. Omigod! Jesus might have been a heterosexual! He might have really forgiven that hooker! Better straighten that out right away! Even the Muslims got involved, for heaven’s sake. Even Google.

I mean, what’s that about, anyway? Here’s a gen-u-wine ancient papyrus document dating to the Third or Fourth Century, that they’ve known about for at least a couple of years. (Well, I knew about it; perhaps the shamans weren’t paying attention.) It’s not very revolutionary, but at least it’s historical as heck - worth a look and comment, perhaps. Throw a few stones at the Gnostics, beat our chests, say how right we are and how wrong they were. That sort of thing. It gets virtually no play at all except for the media trying to stir something up, with notable lack of success. Another gospel? Oh, that old thing...

But a work of fiction? Jump right on that sucker. Do you suppose it’s because they were afraid someone might actually read it? Well, they certainly guaranteed that, didn’t they? Just like the critics of A Million Little Pieces (or whatever it was called), they made the author and publishers very, very happy. Could be that some, reading the book, might actually have Had Their Faith Shaken. Good work, Christian apologists! Another example of well-considered theological inspiration. Must be the same folks who thought up the strategy for the War on Terror.

I’ll bet Dan Brown’s laughing all the way to the bank. I know I would.

Previously Published on  Backwash.Com

Copyright William E. Webb, 2006.  All Rights Reserved


The dorks at BlogExplosion say this doesn't qualify as a blog.  What's it look like to you? 


I've never been especially "proud" to be an American.  There's really nothing to be proud about.  I had nothing to do with it.  It's where my parents happened to live.  If they'd spoken Farsi, I'd be living in Iran or Eastern Iraq, and my life would have been greatly different.  It was simply luck.

I'm really turned off by the "I'm proud to be an American" crowd.  They had nothing to do with it, either, and the chances are that their values aren't quite the same as mine.  People who puff out their chests and take credit for living in a country that steals from the weak and gives to the powerful just aren't my kind of folks.  Some of them are my relatives.  I'm ashamed of them.

I believed in Bush the First's Thousand Points of Light.  I believed that the US tried to do the right thing.  I believed that we lived by some rule other than right makes might and all that stuff.  I believed our laws meant something, and that they reflected the ethics and morals of our country. Then came the year 2000.

I can't begin to express how ashamed I am of the people running our government.  I don't mean just the president and his gang of pigs, I mean the people in both houses of Congress who let them get away with their nasty doings.  I mean the people who elected such useless spineless pretenders to office - people who will send young men and women out to fight useless wars, and lie about the reasons.  I mean you, asshole...the guy who's "Proud to be an American."  I hope you're getting screwed in the ass like the rest of us - like most of the rest of the world - and hating it.  You deserve it.



 If it's Saturday, this must be the home computer.

Just contemplating the purchase of a new keyboard.  It would be the third for this machine, which is now going on seven years old.  It's a Gateway (800 MHz Pentium III), that originally had Windows ME when we got it in September of '99 to help my wife with some college work.  I added 512 MB of RAM a couple of years later, not too long before upgrading it to XP.  Since we got it, the only hardware problem has been a hard drive failure at a little over two years...and now a second worn-out keyboard.  I've re-installed XP three times, first because of the HDD failure, once due to an unknown problem that was probably a virus, and once just because I like the way a nice clean OS runs.  I may do so again pretty soon.  It's a pain in the butt, though. Because this installation is an upgrade, I have to reinstall ME to get the legacy programs, then install XP on top of it.  Maybe I'll put it off a bit longer - and this time I'll image the drive while it's all new and squeaky-clean, so I don't have to do it from scratch again.

Ol' "Elsie" is still perfectly adequate for most of the things we need in a home computer.  She's a bit slow opening programs like OpenOffice and Firefox, and processor-intensive tasks like noise reduction for digital imaging take longer than I'd like. Generally speaking, however, there's little to complain about.

Multitasking?  Right now I'm running Firefox, WinAmp, Gaim, ZoneAlarm Pro, NOD32 Antivirus, Weather Pulse, Memorizer (a clipboard management tool) and Yankee Clipper, another clip manager that I use as a sort of archive to keep from having to maintain a long list of clips in the other one.  Folding at Home is humming happily in the background, eating up the unused Hz, but I'm getting ready to shut it down because the text on this page is running a teensy bit behind my typing now and then.  I've still got 154 MB of RAM available, and the little ol' Intel 815E is having no problem distributing the input from the 6 MB internet connection, even though the channel I'm listening to on WinAmp is 200 MHz all by itself.

You just don't need a fancy high-speed machine for most stuff.  If you're a serious gamer, or do video editing or a lot of image manipulation (or watch DVD's on your computer), that's another thing, but the idea that you have to have a 3 GHz machine for everyday home use is a marketing ploy.  Trust me.  I'm proving it as I type this.

 There are perfectly good reasons for upgrading a computer if you can't do the everyday maintenance that it takes to keep an older one operating.  But if you can open it up, clean cable connectors, blow dust out, replace fans and drives, and if you backup your files religiously "just in case," most of the time there's no reason a home machine can't last for - well, for six and a half years - and counting.

 Of course, now that we can run Windows on a Mac...



Idle thought: I'm often bemused, sometimes amused,  and occasionally exasperated by the way certain folks (no one specific, let me add, hastily) who have decided that they don't believe in God seem compelled to (a.) tell everyone about it and (b.) try to convince others.  Don't they realize that they're still religion-driven; that people who are really sure of themselves don't need to proselytize their beliefs?  Those folks are doing precisely the same thing that is being done by the evangelists they abhor - trying to change the minds of others when it's none of their business. I mean, what's that about?

 The acorn of atheism doesn't fall very far from the tree, it seems.



I am determined to make it through the day without looking at, reading, listening to, writing about or otherwise participating in the political process.  Sometimes you just have to take a break!

If you're a visiting Yankee, it's a beautiful Florida day.  Those of us who look beneath the surface know that the seventh or eights consecutive day with no rain and low humidity (56% ) are a prescription for fires, especially with a 12 mph wind like we also have. 

It's amazing how our perceptions, clouded by various symbols, can range so far outside of reality.  Here we have a potential fire hazard, a UV index of 7 - headed for 10, and we say "Isn't it a beautiful day."  A beautiful day, in the practical sense, would be overcast with light rain for about the next 72 hours, followed regularly by daily rains after that.  Semi-arid subtropical areas with lots of drought-adapted vegetation do not do well in the current conditions.

Folks don't usually thing of Florida as being semi-arid, but with only 55-60" of rain annually, and 85-90% of that within the six months from May through October, it's hard to imagine what else you could call it - at least for half of the year.  We call it a tropical paradise, but it isn't - not really.  If it weren't for drainage (reducing humidity and insects) and air conditioning, the place would hardly be habitable. 

Then maybe the Yankees would go home early.



Why does there always have to be a moral?  

I get all sorts of cute stuff over the internet, some of which I actually open and read.  You get down to the bottom, and some deep thinker has added a (totally obvious) "moral," or has appended some sort of sickening sweet crap intended to make a point that the original writer - at least as good, if not better at it than our philosopher who, after all, is changing someone else's work, not writing original stuff - failed to make. One wonders why, if they're that good, they don't write their own internet garbage.

Why are people unable to let other people's work stand on its own?  I mean, if they were improving it that might excuse them, but it's never an improvement, and often as not it takes the punch out of whatever went before.  These are probably the same people who keep on talking after they've made their point, and bore you so that you forget whatever they said that was worthwhile.

Every man a philosopher, even those who have trouble thinking.



Just ate about a half pound of frozen grapes.  (Hey, don't knock it if you haven't tried it!)  Probably end up with the Napa Valley two-step, but it's better than the Aztec variety. 

Got the mail, with three books that I broke down and ordered from Amazoom.  If you order enough stuff at a time, you can save some decent $$ with those folks.  I could have gotten about $45 worth of books for under $30, including shipping, but being the good addict that I am I chose to get the faster shipping for six bucks more. Anyway, I got (like you care):

                            Language in Thought and Action by S. I. Hayakawa,
                            Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg, and
                            Everyday Zen by Charlotte Joko Beck.

I hope you're pleased.  I know I am.  (Actually, I don't give a rat's patootie whether you're pleased or not, but I'm trying to be light and polite here.)  I'm sure in no time I'll be using enlightened language, doing enlightened writing and just be well...pretty enlightened.  On the other hand, "they" say that if you care about it one way or the other, you aren't.  Who knows?  And I guess if you even think about it, except in passing, that means...  OH! It's all so confusing. (That's dukkha, by the way...Buddhist talk.)

Just signed up with DonationCoder.  Sent 'em ten bucks and they made me a charter member.  Too late for you, though, unless you do it by midnight tonight, and you probably didn't even find this site by midnight tonight. On the other hand, does anybody really know what time it is?  BTW...what do you think?  Did time exist before the universe got started?  Which begs the question, is "before" the correct word to use if it didn't?  How about the other end?  How would you make reservations at the restaurant?  Maybe if you're enlightened you don't need reservations.

See?  And I haven't even cracked the books yet!  It's working!