Much to be thankful for

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours as well.


What's next?

Two amusing news items today from the ISS:
Spider Missing Aboard International Space Station and Astronaut Loses Tool Bag in Space. Sounds like a bit of a rough trip to me. Actually the spider story is far less dramatic than the headline makes it sound, interesting weightless results from the orb spiders on board.


DEKA Revolt

There's a new concept car I'm drooling over... but this time appearance has nothing to do with it.

Dean Kamen's much-hyped Segway turned out to be little more than a curiosity. But his long-held interest in the Stirling Engine has the potential to be a world-changer.

Check out the story on my new favorite hybrid here.



This impresses me. A lot.

If you like that one, check out this one too.



Several people have asked me over the last few months about my comment some time ago on this blog that I believed Obama was probably the best choice to be our next president. With the elections just around the corner it seemed like a good idea to give an update on why I thought that then as well as what I think now and who I'm going to cast my ballot for next week. Most of this was cut-and-pasted directly from a couple of previous emails, it may look pretty familiar to a couple of you.

For me personally, the 'backstory' behind my approach to this year's election begins with a journey I have been on over the past three years or so through which I have become a pacifist. I have always in the past held something of a 'just war' approach, that killing in war is ok if the war is justified, etc etc. But a few years ago in talking with someone who is a pacifist, I was faced with a simple question: how can I kill the ones I'm supposed to love? Initially I passed it off and found ways to continue to justify my position. But over the months that followed, that question really dug its way into my heart. Pacifism still definitely *isn't* the most logical approach to me, or the one that comes first to my mind as I think through various situations. But, then, that's the case with a lot of what Jesus said... His Kingdom really is an upside-down kingdom, one where the logical thing to do is sometimes dead wrong. And although I can find lots of my own reasons for why war/killing may be justifiable, none of them negate the basic fact that Jesus told me that I need to love my enemies. And I think that starts by not killing them.

Fast forward to this election. I feel like I may never again get to vote on issues of the economy, educational policy, etc -- there are way bigger issues out there, issues of life and death. And there are two primary life and death issues: war and abortion. Unfortunately, it seems that almost no one holds what I would consider to be a 'pro-life' position on both of those issues; the republicans are solidly anti-abortion but support ongoing bloodshed around the world in the name of 'spreading democracy'... the democrats would mostly like to see us scale back our foreign military involvements but support this awful notion of 'choice' meaning a mother's right to end her child's life.

So, on which side to stand? There are lesser things about both candidates (and their parties) that I like, and lesser things that I dislike. But at the forefront for me is this issue of the preservation of life. And clearly, neither candidate holds a position that is completely acceptable to me.

And here's the thing: we've had 8 years of a republican president. What strides have been made in that time to curb the holocaust of abortion? Bush may be pro-life, but what difference has it made? The overall abortion rate has declined slightly, but it's been declining steadily since '81 -- so I don't really credit that to him. McCain also claims to be pro-life, but has made it clear that ending abortion is not a policy priority for him. So I see McCain's projected presidential report card as: Abortion: No Improvement. War: No Improvement.

On the other side we have Obama. He did not support the war in Iraq and was early to propose timelines for the exit of our troops. He has pushed change as a theme of his campaign, and in the early days of the campaign it seemed as though Obama's projected presidential report card could read: Abortion: No Improvement. War: Greatly Improved.

So although I abhor his position on abortion, the vote for him made sense -- it was the only vote I saw that stood a chance of making a difference on one of the two issues of life and death. Sidenote: in addition, yeah, I just plain *like* the guy. I like that he's not a bazillionaire, I like that he's young, I like that he's a great speaker, I like that he hasn't been in politics forever, I like that he's a black man with a legitimate chance of being our president.

As the campaign has progressed, however, Obama's war stance has moved further and further to the point where it's now not all that different from McCain's. I really like that he's willing to talk with Iran's Ahmedinejad, but overall he is presenting much more of a hawkish face these days. He has backed off many of his former statements about pulling us out of Iraq, and he supports increased miiltary activity in Afganistan. Plus there are his incendiary statements about bombing within Pakistan without their permission.

In relation to abortion, I don't know what changes he would be able to make in a negative direction -- but the more I have seen of his record it definitely seems clear that if he sees any chances to take us further down the abortion-is-ok road he will do so as energetically as possible.

Overall then, I now project Obama's presidential report card as: War: Little/No Improvement. Abortion: No Improvement / Some Deterioration.

I have come to a point where the election of either Barack Obama or John McCain will bring me some joy and great fear. Their agendas are radically opposite, but there are elements in each of them that give me great hope and elements in each of them that make me wonder if the future will even be recognizable. And on the issues that I see as most important, neither of them will make a substantive difference.

So who am I voting for? I'm approaching it from this standpoint: Will my single vote make a difference as to who gets elected? No. Washington state will be won by a margin of hundreds of thousands of votes. So my vote for either McCain or Obama will be insignificant, one among millions. When it comes time to vote, then, I will cast a ballot for Ralph Nader. Not because I agree with anything he has to say -- but because I think our country would be better off with a legitimate, viable third party, and my drop-in-the-bucket vote for him 'goes farther' in terms of proportionally increasing the total number of third-party votes cast.

OAU April - October Report Card

Good Intentions: A-
Content Ideas: C+
Follow-through: F


Words to live by...?

I ran across the LOLcat Bible this morning -- they are 61% done translating New and Old Testaments into LOLcat. I think I'll just let it speak for itself:

25 so i sez, stop havin teh kittehz bout ur lifes, wat cheezburgerz or drinx u is havin, or about ur bodeez n wat u iz wearin. Iz life not moar importint den teh foodz, and teh bodeez moar importint den teh cloathz?26 Lookit teh birdz in teh ceilingz, dey dont be in teh fieldz gatherin teh f00dz or puttin dem away in teh barnz, but teh Ceiling Cat givez dem f00dz anywayz lolz. Wat, u aint more better den dem?27 Who can make teh life longur by havin teh kittehz newayz?
28 And y u be havin teh kittehz about teh raimentz? Lookit teh lileez in teh fieldz. Dey dont work or nuffingz29 but Solom0n cant pwn them even with his pimp outfitz. No rly.30 If teh Ceiling Cat makes teh grass all pritty, and it gets thrwn into teh 0venz 2morr0w, wat about u, peeplz who no beleiv dat much?31 So plz to be stoppin havin teh kittehz n sayin "oh noez, i can has cheezburger?" or "wat 2 be wearin 2dae?"32 Bcuz onlee teh n00bz be havin kittehz about thees thingz, k? Ceiling Cat noez wat u need. srsly.33 Look around first for teh kingd0m and teh r0xorz of teh Ceiling Cat, an u can has all thees thingz.34 So stop havin teh kittehz bout teh fut00r bcuz it have enuff kittehz alreddy. 2dae pwns u enuff. kthxbai.


Parenting makes me glad I went to Bible College.

Our normal bedtime routine is fairly predictable around here -- we send the kids into the bedroom, I follow a couple of minutes later. I often ask the kids if either of them wants to pray, they usually both say no; I pray, give each of them about 15 seconds worth of goodnightiloveyousleepwells, and walk out. Somewhere in the neighborhood of 5 minutes total.

Not so tonight.

I was in the process of saying the final goodnight to Ezra when he tells me he has a question. Not too much of a deviation from normal so far, he often comes out with questions like "How do you spell doozleboozlewoozlefoozlegungungungbaguk?" in an attempt to forestall the inevitable. This one was a little different, though: "Daddy, the Bible says that people who love God, obey God. I love God, but sometimes it's really hard to be obedient and I don't always obey Him. How can that be?"

Wow. I shifted gears and answered him as best as I could -- habits, trends, a lifestyle of obedience -- but he wasn't done.

"We're supposed to listen to God, but I never hear Him. I know that the Bible is, like, God's word, but it was written like two thousand years ago. How do we know He still thinks that?"

Wow again -- immutability, omniscience, inspiration, then on to conscience, listening prayer, and the voice of God -- mind racing, trying to answer the questions accurately myself, organize and prioritize my answers, and translate them into the language of a 5 year old.

"We need to read the Bible more. I don't know very many of the stories in it."

Whoaaa. The hand of God, prompting that which I want more than anything else for my kids but have no power whatsoever to force.

++Thank You. ++


OAU April Report Card

Good Intentions: A
Content Ideas: B+
Follow-through: D-