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Weird Mega Man Weapons September 21, 2009

Posted by Tim in Uncategorized.
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And now for something completely different.

I’ve been playing through my second favorite franchise lately (favorite is Zelda, of course) and have thoroughly enjoyed the retreat back into the simple joys of childhood. The times when you were a little excited when you got sick because that meant you got to play NES all day. Sidescrolling days.

And I couldn’t help noticing, rounding up my run through Mega Mans 1-7 and X-X3, that just about every game the creators got a little too carried away. In fact, along with staples like a shield weapon and a jump upgrade, it seems one of the staples for each game was a new WTF? weapon. I’ve combed through and – in classic Mega Man fashion – picked my top 8 weirdest weapons. Here they are, in order of white-guy to wah? (more…)

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He Who Hesitates September 4, 2009

Posted by Tim in Observations, Politics.
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Just a follow-up on my post about the worrying polarization in politics of late.

It astounds me how quickly particular issues become the property of certain parties. If we were a multi-party state I might understand it, but we aren’t. The Democratic and Republican parties are massive, messy entities that embrace widely different cross-sections of America. Their platforms are not pure ideologically; instead, they are conglomerations of hodgepodge philosophies designed to work compromises and garner votes.

And the issues we face today are vast and intricate. Very few are satisfied with the status of the healthcare industry in America. Yet it is a hugely complex problem. What are the problems exactly? Is it that the system costs too much for the product it delivers? How do you measure that product – in pills popped or pounds dropped or some other arbitrary metric? Is the problem that the system does not include everyone? Or that it is means- and not needs-based? That is the tip of a very large iceberg. Why does the system cost too much? Why does it not deliver? Why are some priced out? All this could – and does – take hundreds of professional minds to make any sense of, and by then all the data is tinged by contrasting views of the role of health care, whether it is a right or a responsibility, etc. And all this chaos precedes the quagmire of solving whatever problems are identified.

There are other, equally complex issues.

How do we prosecute the war on terror? What balance is do we strike between physical protection and abstract ethics? Is fighting abroad denying safe havens or stirring hornets’ nests? Does dialogue with dogmatic nations defuse tensions or inspire fundamentalists’ fear that the Great Satan is laying a snare?

How do we win in Afghanistan? Is winning on the table? Does aid money solve problems or spawn corruption? Is our presence destabilizing or legitimizing?

What is our proper role with Russia, slowly wealth-building and newly belligerent? Do we make friends with China out of economic necessity or apply pressure for its outrageous human rights violations? What about Iran’s nuclear ambitions, or Sudanese genocide, or Honduran constitutional sparring?

What do we do about the millions of illegal immigrants living and working in our country? Should they be legalized quickly, to better monitor and tax them? Should they be deported, upholding the rule of law while we amend the system to adjust to the new realities of foreign threats and porous borders?

We are faced today with situations that are beyond complex. Experts in the respective fields – drenched in information and histories and theories and data, often reading from the same intelligence reports – cannot reach consensus on any of the above. Political philosophy may come into play, but more often these disagreements are at the root about different paradigms, questions over the validity of this data over that data, reasonable but nebulous questions of whether this principle can be applied to that predicament. I spent four years getting a university education on Russia – studying it from its greatest art to its deepest history to the politics of its nearest neighbors. I have lived in Russia for a year, seen all sides of it. And yet the rhetorical question above about Russia is the one I find most puzzling, truly the most paralyzing.

So we have complex and dynamic problems that are being grappled with by pundits and politicians representing massive and messy parties. Any sane person would expect there to be a lot of thinking and head-scratching. One would expect that a Republican and Democrat would equally throw up their hands in bewilderment when staring down immigration bills or Honduran intelligence reports. One would expect that when the President says to Congress, “Fix health care,” that the next few months are filled with a murmured silence, a felt question mark.

And yet that is not what we get. The President makes an announcement and that afternoon Sean Hannity can tell you why (not if) it is the worst mistake since JFK rode in an open convertible. People show up angry and frightened about health care and the Speaker of the House calls them “unAmerican”. Good grief – the President decided to give a speech to schoolchildren and Republicans are prespeech branding it demagoguery while the education bureaucracy prespeech sends talking points to teachers like the classroom discussion question, “What did President Obama inspire you to do?” Never mind that the last President to do this was a Republican (Bush 41) and that Obama just might not inspire. We have reached knee-jerk partisanship to the extreme. I think the roots of it are in the phenomenon I described last time. But where do you find the axe to chop this monster down?

I make this pledge: He who hesitates, I will vote for. If there is a presidential, senate, or gubernatorial race, regardless of issue and regardless of the ultimate policy conclusion, I will give my vote to the candidate who convinces me that she or he is capable of stopping and thinking. Of gathering facts. The one who says, seriously and not as a cop-out, when popped a big question in a debate: “I need to think about that more before I take a position.” One who could even say, against the stream of their party’s rhetoric, “I like what the other side is proposing, and want to look over it closely. They might have found the best solution to this.”

Because politics and elections aren’t about picking up seats in the House. It’s about giving us the best government. And the best government is not some coincidental triangulation of power spat out by the last round of elections. The best government is one where smart, connected people put their brains and their connections’ brains together to wrestle with issues and subdue them. Who can agree to disagree, but much more crucially, can agree to agree. Who can let this week’s polls slip to the other guy’s party in the interest of doing what seems to be best for the nation. And who can convince across the aisle not because they can bandy words and call in favors, but because they have mulled over the reports and the briefings, and after honest searching, they too have become convinced.

Political Philosophy September 2, 2009

Posted by Tim in Observations, Politics.
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One day I’ll figure out what this blog is for. Anyway…

I can’t help be frustrated by the condition of politics in the United States national government. It’s not that I’m a liberal Democrat, angry about Republican “no”-ism and Blue Dog cronyism scuppering health care reform. It’s not that I’m a conservative Republican, angry that Obama’s campaign rhetoric about bipartisanship turned out to be nothing more than campaign rhetoric. What upsets me is that I am neither one of those things, and so I have effectively have no voice in government. (more…)

1 Timothy 1:6 April 17, 2009

Posted by Tim in Life in Christ.
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Certain persons, by swerving from these, have wandered away into vain discussion

I find it curious Paul’s use of ‘certain persons’. It is much more specific than, say, ‘some’. And yet he names no names. I see a double effect to this. One, as this is ultimately a public letter, it singles out people without shaming. As is already clear, Paul is meaning to correct and focus them, not punish or evict them. There is a sharp tenderness to this approach. The other effect is to carry a sense of warning. It is as if he says, “Certain persons, Timothy, have wandered away… don’t you be one of them.” It invites self-reflection, not accusation.

And what has happened? They have wandered into vain discussion. Translation: they are no longer relevant. They have placed their faith in One who cleanses their conscience and purifies their heart – but all for naught. They’d rather debate Numbers.

Paul, a Pharisee, knew the tendency of religious leaders to vainly discuss things. In the end it must have been unbearable, that those with God’s revealed word used it not for transformation but argumentation.

How little we have changed. How vain are our discussions. A sincere faith. A clear conscience. A pure heart. Love. These are universal, fundamental. These things, when true, truly are the opposite of vain: they change the world.

1 Timothy 1:4 April 16, 2009

Posted by Tim in Uncategorized.
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nor to devote themselves to myths and endless geneologies, which promote speculations rather than the stewardship from God that is by faith.

The true gospel preached in the New Testament is radically reasonable, centrist, plain. We like to get heady describing the unthinkable acts of God in the incarnation, resurrection, crucifixion, the provision of the Holy Spirit. But rarely are such events painted as surprising. Perhaps unexpected, but not unprophesied, perhaps miraculous, but not the kind that stretches the laws of physics to their breaking point.

Paul lays out the two types of teachers he finds in that age of the Church: the speculators and the stewards. Speculation smacks of dissipation, distraction, a prideful disconnect from reality, like a Londoner debating Prometheus while outside his city is burning. Paul here seems to divide them into two camps: Gentiles with their myths, and Jews with their geneologies (though elsewhere Paul does traget ‘Jewish myths’). But rather than wager them against the other, as they undoubtably were doing, he dismisses their obsessions as just promoting speculation.

In contrast, he offers the better aim: stewardship from God, by faith. Faith implies a sincerity of heart and a humility of mind. Stewardship rings of a relevance, responsibility, and meaningful investment. And it is from God,who rewards those who seek him.