Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Tough Times... for Everyone but the Oil Companies.

It's hard to miss mentions of oil company profits in the news these days, every quarter it's worse.

Read into the California energy crisis, the same thing is going on today as it was then, now, it's just a different form of energy. Then, money making middle men played strobe light with the power plants, turning them on and off to be able to sell the most energy for the best price on the free market, until it got to the point where they were making more and more money on less and less energy until there was none for people to use and therefore had to be shut off at times.

The difference now is that the energy supply really is dwindling, we can't exactly build more oil refineries, we actually need more oil, of which there isn't any. But what there is, supply is being restricted to jack up the price, and since demand isn't being reduced, a very few people are making a vary large amount of money.

I'm not into making a lot of predictions, but I predict $200 per barrel of oil inside of five years, and $300 before my son learns to drive. I will enter one exception, that is if there is a radical change in where our energy comes from, that being electric cars. Unfortunately, there are a few restrictions on that too, number one being that there is just not enough time for the new energy technology to catch up with the dwindling energy that we have. One good chance, for drivers and producers is if a good battery technology is released to the public so that we can make our own electric cars. But, Lithium won't be available to the public for a while because the car companies will be using it, and the NiMH large format patents won't expire until 2015, and Chevron is not letting anyone use them. Thier loss inevitably.

The fuel is running out, read my post on Peak Oil. In fact, more than the concept of peak supply of oil is peak oil per capita which happened some time back in the 80's.

The solution: Plugin series hybrid electric cars and shorter range plugin electric cars with diversification of the power producing infrastructure, and further extensive efficiency gains in all parts of society. I've not been a big global warming theorist, but I do appreciate the effect the subject has had on people, even if they need to be more worried about real pollution rather than CO2. If we eliminate CO2, other pollutants will follow. A car that uses less gas creates less of all types of pollution. The technology is here to mitigate coming problems, and there will be a time when we must live on drastically less gasoline.

With the current technology, most people can do it. Most people can do it on an inexpensive electric bicycle. I live six miles from anything I need to get to.

Think about this, if gasoline were to virtually disappear tomorrow, the electrical grid would still be up, unless there were riots and it got destroyed, but other than that, it would be there. Lifestyles would change, look at what happened to Cuba when the USSR fell. Big cities with electric busses would still be working, though likely completely overloaded. Things would change and quickly, but I'm not preaching the apocalypse here.

What can you do? Not much, just be aware. You can't hoard gas, it spoils. Maybe look into electric cars, education is really the key to alot of things. But don't freak out.


So, I'm like having a bad day, right?

No matter how bad your day is, someone else is having a worse one.

This is a real live picture, no Photoshop. Someone in Seattle is practicing to be a serial killer.

Friday, April 18, 2008

The Trinity Wind Project.

I was on my way to have lunch with my good friend Josh, (not Josh Wilson, I have lots of friends named Josh) and I was trucking up 540 on my motorcycle (47 mpg) and I looked over to the St. Thomas Episcopal Church and what did I see that totally made my day, but three brand new Skystream 3.7 wind turbines.

Now I've mentioned before the distinct lack of wind power in Arkansas, and I've talked about the Skystream before, but now I get to do both.

I decided to do a little research because such a visible change to the landscape had to be covered in some news somewhere, and not only did I find that on the Arkansas Renewable Energy page, but also, I found the feasibility study as well.

The whole project cost $42,000. The first thing about this that I see is that it is way too much. A Skystream costs less than $4500. But churches have always spent more money than needed to do stuff anyway. I suggest that instead of doing things the expensive way, we can do a thing the old fashioned way and build some community by inviting people out to help raise the barn, er wind turbines or whatever. This could have easily saved $10,000. Another waste I see is the monopole mounts. these are more expensive than the regular guyed tower type, plus they are comparibly short. The higher a turbine sits, the more power it will make. However, the monopoles do make for a very tidy and stylish look in front of the church.

Symbolism also went into the design process. They are perfectly lined up with the front of the church, and wind has been traditionally associated with the Holy Spirit and the work of God. Three turbines represent the Trinity, two at 45 feet, one at 60. They should have done them all at 100, but whatever.

Overall, I think this is an excellent project. It is very visible, very well done, and on church property. While putting this type of thing in front of everyone is a great idea to raise awareness, the quicker solution would have been to enhance the efficiency of the building since the turbines are expected to provide only 15% of the power for the church. That puts the church's monthly energy usage at 9000 kwh which is way way too much for such a new building, but this is the south. Remember that when considering a wind turbine, you must take into consideration that saving power by buying new windows and efficient appliances will save you much more money and have a quicker payback period than a wind turbine.

I mentioned the Wal Mart Skystream in Lowell, and I have a picture of it and a little analysis. If you look closely, the tower has a substantial concrete base. This thing looks way more substantial than any of the other monopoles, but Wal Mart has money saving people, so I'm sure they know what they are doing. Perhaps they made it extra reinforced to eliminate the possibility of it being blown over. In any case, this is another excellent example of a wind turbine that is highly visible and a good example.

Indeed, all of the wind turbines I've seen in Arkansas are in very visible places. The one in Prairie Grove is not next to the freeway, but it is much bigger. I've just discovered that there are a few more small scale wind turbines in Arkansas including a couple of Bergeys, both an XL.1 and an Excel.

I am excited about the possibility of more and more wind turbines popping up in Arkansas, and I hope these four Skystreams next to the freeway will help bring that about.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Zionism and The Way

Strap yourselves in, here goes another “ism.”

Around the world, the American church, and indeed America is seen as very pro Israel. This is called Zionism, and there is a primary verse Zionists use to defend their position. Genesis 12:3 “I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse;” To take advantage of this verse, you must interpret in a certain way. That way is to say that when God said “you” he really meant “them.” If you’ve read anything I have written on eschatology, this is something I bring up all the time. If the verse says something, and we have no reason to think it is using some sort of metaphorical or prophetical language, then there’s no reason why it cannot be taken literally. That’s the literal interpretation of the Bible that everyone loves so much. However, as with many hard and fast rules in theology, it seems it can be broken whenever the need suits. That’s how we got dispensationalism, and that’s why I don’t like “isms.” Truth is often trampled to support a position.

This verse is simple and straightforward. Throughout the whole thing, the whole promise, God is speaking directly to Abraham, person to person, “Man to man.” Speaking directly to Abraham, God says, “I will do this stuff to you and for you” there are no promises to the rest of anybody other than there will be a lot of them.

We must not forget the rest of this often used verse. “and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed." Don’t you see it? If you say that God is telling Abraham that he will bless those who bless the Jews, then you are contradicting the second half of the verse, because God says that all will be blessed through Abraham. That’s the Christian part of the promise, because certainly not every nation was blessed through the nation of Israel, other than through Christ.

Even if we take this verse to mean what most take it to mean, we still have one more snag. In Romans, Paul makes it abundantly clear that foremost, there is no difference between Jew and Gentile, and secondly, Christians are co-inheritors of the same blessings, a recapitulation of the promises made to Abraham. Therefore, instead of being pro Israel, you should be pro-Christian. Israel was judged by Jesus when he returned to heaven and was seated at the right hand of God. Their nation was dismantled, people evicted, their temple destroyed, their land taken, and their national promises delivered to individual hearts. God judged the nation of Israel, and found that they had been in direct opposition to his plan. And the results are undeniable. Not 40 years after Jesus ascended into heaven, Israel was no more. And in my view, YHWH’s Israel still doesn’t exist, and never will.

So some read this and say “So you are anti-Israel?” Absolutely not, just as I am not anti any other country. That’s just another “ism.” How can I be against a country without being against every individual person therein. What if all the people in there are Jews or Black or Chinese, that would make me a racist. No, I am a full believer in what Paul said and what Jesus lived, in Christ, there are no Jews or Greeks, slaves or free persons, men or women. Again with the literal interpretation of the Bible, it says what it means. God sees no race, no sex, no age, only the heart, the thing that is on the inside. God does not bless the outside, but what is done on the outside.

It seems to me that Americans want to find every reason to defend their prosperity. So we cook up reasons, “God is blessing me because I give money to the church, God is blessing me because our country is good to Israel, God is blessing me because I am white, God is blessing me because my kids are home schooled, God is blessing me because I am a Republican, God blesses our country because it was founded by Christians.”

Those who say America is blessed are looking through colored glasses. America has done more evil in the world in the last hundred years than is even fathomable. Why won’t people understand that the United States of America is just another country who goes to war and strong-arms weaker countries to protect its interests and the interests of its wealthy. If you think America is blessed, then you were not in Iran when the US overthrew a democratically elected prime minister and started this forest fire we now call “The War on Terror.” If you think America is blessed, then you were not in Hawaii when a peaceful queen was ejected from her throne by businessmen willing to do anything to keep their fruit profits. If you still think America is blessed, than you weren’t in Israel when Western empowered Jews forcibly and violently evicted countless thousands of Palestinians from their homeland of a thousand years. The United States of America is not blessed, it is powerful. Possession of blessing and possession of power are not the same things, though if you are deluded just enough, you might think you have one when you really have the other.

I know the kind of crap I’m gonna get for this, so let's have it.


Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Why it was a Cross.

My very intelligent cousin (who as you may have seen here before is a Jehovah's Witness) gave me a reply on a question I had asked about when JW's believe that the apostate church began to use the T (tau) shaped cross as the one Jesus was crucified on. So this is pretty much why the T shaped cross is the correct one.

Well, since you asked……………….

Actually, I was reading about the historical concept of crucifixion after listening to a pastor talk about how it disgusts him to see non Christians wearing crosses considering how much of a tortuous death it represented. And then I came across an item called the Alexamenos Graffito. It was discovered in Rome and dates as far back as 85 CE. Most scholars believe it shows the mocking description of a Christian. It appears to show a man on a cross with the head of a donkey and contains the caption "Alexamenos worships [his] God." Naturally, I wondered at the dating of the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ apostasy and when they believe Christians changed the shape of the stake into the cross.

I understand your initial answer, but you misunderstood my question. What I was asking was when you believe people began to believe that Jesus was crucified on a cross and not a stake, not when they began using crosses as symbols and in worship. So I appreciate all your research, however, it does not answer the question. However, you did say that it was around the middle of the third century, so that answers my question.

I know why you brought up the other cultures and their cross similarities, it is because you were taught that the origin of the cross was pagan. However, you are committing what people in debate call the genetic fallacy. Basically it means you are comparing someone and something they do to someone who did the same thing who is bad and saying that the someone shouldn’t do that because the someone who did it before was bad. For instance, just because Hitler was a vegetarian doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be vegetarians. Other examples abound. JW’s policies on birthdays and holidays follow the same fallacy. Our not doing something needs to be based in whether or not it is actually sin, not whether or not a sinner has done it. What I am saying is this, just because some other pagan culture has used a cross does not mean we cannot. Pagans use Bibles for all sorts of strange rituals, it doesn’t mean we can’t use the Bible legitimately.

Another thing that does not at all surprise me from Jehovah’s Witnesses, but does surprise me coming from you was your choice of what page to send me. On the very page from which you quote and forwarded to me, the historical record shows that early Christians thought of the cross of Christ as a T (tau,) (last paragraph.) I encounter this time after time after time. This is called selective quoting or sometimes deceptive quoting. It is when a person quotes a book to support a position when the book substantially disagrees with the position. I have found that the tract “Should You Believe in the Trinity” is full of these. In fact, I believe more than one author quoted there has released a statement saying that the quote was taken out of context and in fact means the opposite of what it was purported to say.

Here’s my position, based on historicity.

By Jesus time, the words stauros and xylon could mean stake, cross, or a number of other wooden items, so we cannot deduce an exact meaning from a single one of the definitions of the word. So we must look at the historical evidence. From the time of Jesus, none of the Christian fathers or other writers espoused the idea that Jesus was crucified on anything but a cross, either a T or t. That idea has only been explored in the last 150 years or so.

Church fathers support the idea of a cross beam well before the JW’s claim the switch happened. Second century writers Justin Martyr and Irenaeus claim the cross. Also in the same century were Clement of Alexandria and whoever wrote the Epistle of Barnabas written before 135. And before the end of that century Tertullian wrote that Christians were known for marking themselves with the sign of the cross. Others before the end of the second century include Origen, Lucian, Celsus, whoever wrote the Odes of Solomon, the writer of the Acts of Peter, and Hyppolytus of Rome. Marcus Minucius Felix responded to the charge that Christians worshiped crosses and made the distinction between the cross of Christ which was not worshiped and the crosses of pagans. All this before Jehovah’s Witnesses say the change took place. I was actually surprised how much evidence there is. And the only counter argument is based on one of many definitions of two words.

Furthermore, from a perspective of the purpose of the cross, a single upright stake makes no sense. The purpose of the cross was to draw out death, to be as tortuous as possible. Roman citizens were not to be crucified. A vertical pole causes death by asphyxiation in minutes when Jesus death took hours, and the Romans were even surprised when he died so quickly.

The last thing I must challenge you to look upon with a critical eye is your opinion on the cross itself. I know Jehovah’s Witnesses are taught to look upon the cross with disgust as an instrument of torture, however, this is not exactly biblical. Galatians 6:14 says “But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.” Paul said that he should boast in nothing except the cross. He actually said to boast in the cross, not to be disgusted by it as one might be with an electric chair or hangman’s noose. For Christians, the cross is not a symbol of death, but of life and victory. The cross is empty, because Jesus is no longer there. His death would be useless if not for his bodily resurrection which as he said would be his triumph over death.

In conclusion, “The cross was not … worshiped by the early Christians.” (Beliefs and Customs That Displease God. Quoted from the official Jehovah’s Witnesses website.) I agree with this because it agrees with history, however, the assertion that Jesus was not crucified on a T or t shaped cross simply does not follow the evidence.

Thanks for your time and I hope I have been polite.