Monthly Archives: May 2007

Thoughts on Blasphemy

I have to share something that is on my mind and close to my heart. Consider the following movies…

  • The Matrix
  • A Beautiful Mind
  • Hitch
  • Shall We Dance?
  • With Honors
  • Office Space
  • Weekend at Bernie’s
  • The Cinderella Man

What have they in common?

All got good reviews, all looked good in the trailers… but the trailers somehow failed to mention the indiscriminate use of God and Jesus Christ as all-purpose swearwords. In many cases I started to watch them but could not bring myself to watch all the way to the end.

How far we have come; The ancient Hebrews revered God’s name so highly that they could not bring themselves to write it down. When they absolutely had to, they wrote down just the consonants – YHWH, which we have anglicized to “Yahweh”.

In the dark ages, scribes wrote out Bibles longhand using quills. When they wrote the name of the LORD they would do so in capitals (as a mark of respect); then they would break the quill, wash their hands and get a new quill before continuing.

Only a few decades ago,, blasphemy was considered offensive. In these enlightened days it is considered an amusing affectation of Valley Girls and Hollywood types.

What went wrong?

Before you dismiss me as an overly-sensitive zealot, imagine releasing one of the above movies overdubbed with the words “Allah” and “Mohammed” substituted for “God” and “Jesus”.

Two things would happen.

  • First it would be next to impossible to get it released – we wouldn’t want to offend the Muslim population now, would we?
  • Secondly, the Muslim Leaders would not allow you the privilege of living very long.

This is not a screed against Islam; in some ways I admire their stand, though they do tend to take it to an extreme. But it seems ironic in our “inclusive” and “tolerant” society that Christians somehow do not qualify for the same degree of protection.

It seems like opposing sets of rules are being applied to the two sets of religious beliefs. In Hollywood’s eyes it is open season on Christians, but the recent events in Europe (the Danish Cartoon scandal, for instance) show that the media is absloutely terrified of upsetting the Moslem community – many of whom despise the very nations and cultures in which they have chosen to live. Why is this, I wonder?

Perhaps it might be because their faith allows them the luxury of killing people who disagree with them.

That’s it. I’m done. Feel free to tell me how narrow-minded and bigoted I am.

Now Reading: Financial Peace Revisited, by Dave Ramsey

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I’m a lackluster veteran – Yay!

Spotted this interesting piece of news. Traditionally, the boys and girls in marketing split people into three groups: “elite technology users”, “moderate users” and the rest, whom I shall call the technophobes, for lack of a better title.

The problem with this is that I do not fit into any of those categories. I work in IT, but I have a PDA and a cellphone. That makes me look like a techno-elite, until you consider the following:

  • The OS of the PDA has a copyright date of 2003.
  • The phone has no Camera and no MP3 player, and is on a Pay-as-you-go-plan. It is used typically 1-2 minutes a day.
  • I am absolutely opposed to buying a combined phone/PDA; I feel that they work better as separate devices.
  • My home machines Run Windows 2000, Windows 98 and Ubuntu Linux.
  • I have an unopened copy of XP professional (given to me by Microsoft). I have no immediate plans to install it on any machine, though I eventually will.
  • I have run the beta version of Vista for about six months. I was unimpressed, and have no intention of buying it.
  • I have talked several people OUT of buying Vista.
  • My fastest home machine runs at 2.4GHz – fairly pedestrian by today’s standard.

This makes me look like some kind of weird throwback to the days when Dinosaurs roamed the Earth… until I read the USA Today article I referenced earlier. These clever folks figured out that Techno-elites can be further subdivided into three groups. One of those groups is “Lackluster veterans,” those who use technology frequently but aren’t thrilled by it.

That’s me!

Now Reading: Women who make the world worse…, by Katie O’Beirne

Why Gas-outs don’t work

Every so often I get a chain e-mail exhorting me to teach Big Oil a lesson by not buying gas on this day or that day. Since I only fill up 2-3 times a month, this is hardly an effort. However, lately I have done some thinking about this and have come to the conclusion that gas-outs simply don’t work.

Firstly, only a subset of the population has access to e-mail, and many of those don’t read all of their e-mail. Of those who do, some disregard it, and many of the others don’t need to fill-up on that particular day.

Secondly, a gas-out does not change behavior. A gas-out on Wednesday just means higher sales on Tuesday and Thursday. To put it bluntly, we do not consume any less gas. Big oil thinks in Quarters. A bad day bothers them not at all.

Let’s take this to its logical conclusion, shall we? Suppose that a national gas-out is arranged for next Wednesday. What would happen? As I said before, sales on Tuesday and Thursday would be up by about 50%, so as far as Big Oil is concerned it would be a zero-sum equation.

Well, not quite… many Gas stations would close that day, and most of their staff would still get paid. Which hurts the individual store managers. Big Oil looks on and chuckles quietly to themselves as the almighty consumer flexes his muscles like the proverbial ninety-eight-pound weakling.

So what would hurt these bozos? In the short term, the only thing that would upset them is a drop in sales. If Mr and Mrs America downsize from their two-ton SUVs to small, light vehicles that use less fuel, sales would drop. Scooters would be even better, but some of us need a car, and others are too much in love with the comfort level of a car to expose themselves to elements and risk.

However, even if America downsized, that would not solve the problem. Big Oil has gotten used to more than more than a Billion dollars a week in profits (2005 profits were $64Bn. Horrifying, isn’t it?), and they are not likely to want to settle for less. Over the long term they would simply raise prices to compensate. If everyone drove fuel-efficient vehicles, gas would soon be $10/gallon.

The Government can also help, by requiring realistic MPG ratings rather than the overly optimistic guesses that we currently have, and getting rid of the CAFE mileage standards loopholes that SUVs and Trucks currently enjoy. A foreign policy that makes enemies out of half of the world’s oil producers does not exactly help, either.

What really scares the Crude out of Big Oil is consumers saying “no” and walking away. This is why they are pushing hybrids (which use Gas) and Hydrogen (which will require filling stations), and why they (along with the Auto Industry, who are terrified of the idea of maintenance-free vehicles) fought the electric car until they killed it.

At the moment, we cannot say “no” to buying gas. Until then, moving our purchases around will not help any more than paying off all of your Credit Cards with a HELOC will change your spending habits.

Now Reading: Pandora’s Star, by Peter F. Hamilton