Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Question of the Day

Question: What's with moonhoaxtards?

Answer: Every conspiracy needs a nut, every nut needs a conspiracy. I'll call that a "diamond in the rough" paraphrase of Proverbs.

I coined a new phrase:
"May you live long enough to reload." - WiredForStereo

P.S. That's a Halo reference.
Eat your heart out Spock. (That's a Star Trek reference.)

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Question of the Day

Question: If you are listening to music and you sing along with the backup singers, is that a sign of low self esteem?

Answer: You tell me.


Friday, October 9, 2009

Did Jesus Drink Alcohol? Wine? Or was it non-alcoholic?

For some reason after 2000 years there's still question as to if Jesus actually drank wine or not, so I've actually waited a while to answer this question because I wanted to get it right. Now I think I've got enough evidence so I'm going to go about this a few different ways. I've talked to pastors, professors, home brew beer makers, and made wine and mead myself. I've heard a bunch of arguments, and I've even heard if from the pulpit of several churches including First Baptist of Bentonville. I've actually even heard that the wine Jesus drank was nonalcoholic. So let's explore this.

First of all, let's talk about grape juice. It may surprise you to know that there really was no such thing as grape juice before about 150 years ago. This guy named Welch (that's right) came along and figured out that you could Pasteurize grape juice and refrigerate it and it wouldn't ferment. In fact, he even advertised and sold it as alcohol free communion wine. Until that point, virtually all communion wine was in fact wine.

I've also taken time to get a scientific perspective on this question. I've spoken to University of Arkansas microbiology Professor Dr. Timothy Kral about this subject and he has had quite a bit to say and in no uncertain terms. It goes like this. There are wild yeasts (single celled organisms of the fungi kingdom which produce alcohol as a waste product) which naturally grow on grapes. When the grapes are pressed, the yeasts begin to reproduce and rapidly consume sugar and oxygen in the juice until the whole mix becomes anaerobic. At this point, the yeasts cease respiration as a means of energy production and expand to fermentation as a sole means of survival. They feed off the glucose (sugar) and other nutrients in the mash until one of two things happens. First, they either run out of food, or second, alcohol (waste product) kills them off. Some yeasts can stand a higher alcohol content that others, but just about all yeasts can stand above 10% which is well higher than beer. The yeast completely spread throughout the liquid fermenting the sugar into alcohol. Since alcohol is a toxic waste product, it then preserves the entire batch and it can be stored indefinitely. I asked Dr. Kral if it were possible to keep the juice aerobic to keep the fermentation from happening and possibly make non-alcoholic wine. He said absolutely not. Firstly, if the juice were kept completely aerobic, it would spoil and no one would drink it because it would be nasty and disgustingly acidic. Secondly there will always be some yeasts in the mix making at least some alcohol.

Let's look at the Bible. One of the best known cases is the wedding at Cana when Jesus turns water into wine. There are several arguments here. Some say that the bad wine was wine wine while the "wine" Jesus makes and everyone likes so much is actually grape juice. There are a few problems with this. First, logically, which wine is good wine? The rule of thumb is generally the older the better. Any grape juice more than 6 hours old is wine. Better wine is older wine. Jesus made the better wine. Secondly, this even took place around the time of Passover, in the spring. Grape harvest is in the fall. Without pasteurization, refrigeration and hermetically sealed containers, all grape juice is completely fermented into wine by this time. There would have been some mighty suspicious people if Jesus showed up with grape juice. No, Jesus made the good wine, the aged high alcohol content good wine.

Jesus also tells a parable about wine skins. He says that if you put new wine in old wine skins it will burst the skins. He is right. "New wine" or freshly squeezed grape juice will begin to ferment immediately releasing carbon dioxide. A sealed container not able to stretch (an old wine skin for example) will burst within hours. A new wine skin will be fresh and able to stretch and so won't break. But there's another clue in here. Only a sealed container will have the possibility of bursting. Why would it be sealed? Because if it wasn't, it would not ferment and it would rot and ruin the wine and the skin. Jesus knew you had to seal the container to make wine, wine that has alcohol. There wasn't any uncertainty at all, Jesus was talking about real wine.

Finally, think about the cultural perspective. Ancient cultures, the Jewish culture especially, used wine ubiquitously. It was the only way to purify water. Paul told Timothy to mix some wine with his water because of his stomach. Paul knew well as did everyone of the time that the alcohol in wine stopped stomach ailments which as we know now is due to the the killing of the microorganisms by the toxic alcohol. Think about what the main ingredient in hand sanitizer is. Wine or beer was the only way store or purify water. Many sources of water were polluted, especially near cities and the alcohol in wine was the only thing beside boiling that the ancients could use to kill the stomach bug.

The Jews were very much into wine. One of their official prayers basically says "Dear God, we like grapes, amen." Jesus was a Jew. Though there were some Jews, the Nazarites, who never consumed any wine or alcohol or grapes or anything, Jesus was not one, he was a Nazarene, they're different. The Nazarites eschewed even grapes because they as well as modern day scientists know that if you have grape juice, you have wine, it happens automatically. The yeast grows on the grapes, you can't escape it. In fact, it is general practice to boil wine after mixing it because you want to kill all the wild yeasts so you can add special breeds or blends to get just the right taste. You can't have unrefrigerated juice without having wine. Jesus most certainly drank real wine. He drank real wine with alcohol in it. Science says it, history says it, culture says it, the Bible tells it, logic dictates it.

Before 150 years ago, there was no big argument about whether Jesus drank grape juice or wine because everyone understood the reality that there was no such thing as grape juice. How ignorant some of us have become.


Wednesday, October 7, 2009

First Entertainment Review: Dexter

I already do movie and book reviews, but I like some other things too, so I decided to review them too. Entertainment reviews will be less specific and may contain anything that entertains, not just movies or books. Today, I am going to review the TV show Dexter starring Michael C. Hall.

Dexter appears on Showtime, and as such contains material not appropriate for many people, however, I don't watch it for the visual content. I watch it for the exploration of morality it represents.

Story: Dexter Morgan is a police blood spatter analyst by day, and a serial killer by night. His father, a police detective, realized what he was when he was young after he adopted him when he began to kill small animals. His father trained him to be extremely discreet and to kill only those who deserved it. Thus, Dexter avoids prison and serves a useful purpose by cleaning up what the justice system misses. Oh, and he also gets to be the most successful prolific serial killer in the world.

The question of morality comes when you understand what Dexter is. If we are really honest, Dexter is a cold blooded murdering psychopath. Well, maybe he's warm blooded. But properly understood, he doesn't kill for the justice in it, that's just a side effect. He kills to sate his "dark passenger" mentioned in the novels and recently more often on the show. One of the novels explains the dark passenger like a malevolent spirit or ancient god, though that specific novel was unpopular due to the spirituality therein.

Much of the show evolves around the "code" Dexter's father Harry taught him. The code keeps him from getting caught and keeps his activities in the realm of a service rather than a menace to society. In the first season, the main villain is Dexter's long lost biological brother who for the same reason is likewise a psychopath, only without the code, tries to kill Dex's sister, so he kills him. In the second season, Dexter's exploits are discovered but he gets lucky when his mistress frames someone else for him, so he has to kill her. In the third season, he reluctantly accepts an apprentice of sorts who won't follow the code and kills in anger, so Dexter kills him. Also in the third season is a Nicaraguan torture expert who though he says he tortures to extract information, really just does it because he likes it. He tries to kill Dexter so Dexter kills him. Now we have the fourth season where the villain is a long time serial killer and has been exposed in the first episode, and I'm not sure how it will play out, but I think Dexter will kill him.

I really like this show. They could really cut down on the swearing and nudity, but the gore seems pretty accurate generally speaking. I swing back and forth between for and against the death penalty, but it really comes down to being for it for all who deserve it regardless of race or economic status. As you may know, nearly all cases of the death penalty are executed upon people of the lower classes, and that's just not right. So pragmatically, I'm against the death penalty as law. But it would be a very interesting situation indeed if there were a guy in the world who kills only murderers and rapists. This show is definitely not for minors, and not for the squeamish.