Ron Paul for President

RonPaul_flag You probably don't know who Ron Paul is, but he's a Republican from Texas running for President. I've been observing the race so far and it took me a while to decide who I wanted to support during the Primaries. As seems to be my fate (I liked McCain in 2000) I have found I am most impressed by an underdog. Ron Paul is, in my opinion, the man. Since I know you won't read a long essay about him (and also since I don't want to write a long essay about him) here are some of the reasons I like the cut of Ron Paul's jib:

  • He speaks like a normal human - he sounds genuine and not rehearsed. It appears he speaks from his heart and gut. Too many people running for President come off like stuffed shirts.
  • Ron was the only Republican who said it would be wrong for the U.S. to pre-emptively nuke another country.
  • He wants to reduce the size of the Federal Government. Yes, we've heard that before but I'm pretty sure he means it. He wants to do away with the IRS, Dept of Education, etc. Ron think the Government has way overstepped its bounds and become too controlling.
  • He wants to get rid of the income tax. Ron thinks the Government can have enough money to do what it needs to do without an income tax.
  • He puts his money where his mouth is - Ron Paul does not participate in Congress' pension program and has never voted to raise congressional pay.
  • He's concerned about Personal Privacy and voted against the Patriot Act.
  • He votes against regulating (and taxing) the Internet.
  • He wants to end the War on Drugs.
  • He is Pro-Life.
  • He is pretty non-interventionist when it comes to foreign policy.
  • He wants the U.S. to not get involved with or start wars unless it's absolutely necessary. Of course "necessary" is up for debate, but still.
  • He wants to spread Democracy around the world but realizes that cannot be done through guns. It can be done by us being a thriving Democracy that people once again admire around the world.
  • As best I can tell, he has never strapped his dog to the roof of his car and driven around.

In some of the above cases I know there is no way in the world his goals can be achieved (eliminate the IRS?). And as with anybody I don't fully agree with every one of his positions. But I want a President who thinks this way. He doesn't just tow the party line. He also has about a snowball's chance in hell of winning the Republican nomination since he's currently polling somewhere in the vicinity of 3%. I have also lost much faith in our Government and think it's more about appeasing lobbyists and the friends of politicians than it is doing what's best for the people. I also am currently powerless to do anything to help him in the California Primary because I'm a registered Independent. I usually look at politicians and roll my eyes. Guys like Ron Paul give me hope that maybe something can change.

I think that while Paul will not win President in 2008, the increasing popularity of candidates like him - gives me hope that at some point in my life we'll see some sort of positive change.

Check out Ron Paul's website. I recommend looking at the videos, where you can see him interviewed on various shows and clips of him at the debates. Also take a look at the "Issues" section. So until I can support him no more, I support Ron Paul for President.


Hot Dog Eating Champion Crippled

kobayashi You may have heard of Kobayashi, the inhuman eating machine from Japan.  He's dominated the World Hot Dog Eating Championship for years now but it looks like his reign of terror may be at an end:

Takeru "Tsunami'' Kobayashi said he can only open his mouth to make a gap the size of a fingertip after being diagnosed with jaw arthritis.
In an entry on his blog entitled "Occupational hazard,'' Kobayashi said: "My jaw refused to fight any more.''

It is truly a sad day.  This man's titanic struggle against insolent hot dogs is no more.  It's a lesson to all of us: don't take your talents for granted.  Live it up while you have a chance, because the day may come when your mouth will only open to the size of a fingertip.  Your jaw may refuse to fight.


Not what you want to happen before bed

Something terrible happened last night as Janelle and I prepared for bed.  I could hear Janelle squeak with fear in the bedroom and I knew she'd spotted a spider.  I went in to check it out and there was in fact a quite large, healthy-looking spider directly above our bed, sitting there in the corner of the ceiling.  Our bed's headboard is up against the wall, and the spider was right above it, centered quite nicely between our pillows. 

Because this was a particularly large spider I went and got two paper towels to kill it.  With my fear level on the rise I knew I had to act fast or I'd end up staring at the spider and getting all worked up.  So as I approached the bedroom I picked up speed, stepped straight up onto the bed and went right for the spider with the paper towels.  Then the unthinkable happened.

As if anticipating my strike, the spider detached himself from the ceiling and dropped down onto our bed.  After the requisite jumping away and shrieking we set about trying to find out just where this very large spider ended up.  After about ten minutes of shaking out our bedding and looking all around we realized that we were not going to find the spider.  So we had to go to bed, knowing there was a big spider somewhere very close.  Man that sucked.


Redoing Root Canal

Today I get to go to the dentist to have one of my root canals redone.  The tooth has remained sensitive and whatnot; the guy looked at it to see what was wrong but couldn't determine exactly why I could still feel pain in the tooth.  So today I'm going in and he's going to redo the root canal.  And I get to pay a couple hundred more bucks for the pleasure.  I hope he figures out what da prollum is, because while sitting in a reclining chair is cool, doing so with a rubber dam shoved in your mouth while someone scrapes the inside of your teeth kinda blows.


Paris Hilton

Screaming Paris Hilton sent back to jail - Yahoo! News

Paris Hilton got a DUI a while ago and was placed on 36 months of probation and had her license suspended.  After being pulled over twice while driving with a suspended license she was sentenced to 43 days in jail.  After spending 3 days in jail she had a doctor come and say she has a condition that prevents her from being in jail, so the Sheriff sent her home to serve the rest of her sentence under house arrest.  Today she was sent back to jail, crying and screaming about how it isn't fair.

It appears to me that the psychological condition she may or may not have was brought on more by a privileged upbringing than anything else.  Her life has been incredibly different than the lives of 99.9% of the rest of us.  It's not her fault she was born into it and it's quite likely she's been surrounded by people pampering her and telling her that the rules don't apply to her.  It's no surprise that she'd then react this way when she's shown that the rules do apply to her.  I also think of Lindsey Lohan.  After her latest problems her mother appears to be trying to make money from the whole thing and her dad is passing her messages through the press.  It's popular to hate on these privileged people who come off as completely self-absorbed, narcissistic, ignorant and entitled - but the more I see this stuff the more I kind of feel sorry for them.  They are a testament to the emptiness of money and fame and beauty if they aren't accompanied by a real point to being alive.  And I hate to blame the parents...but I blame the parents.  And society, and the press, and the system.  I really wish I could see what will be written about this time period in history books 100 years from now.


Salang Pass Restaurant

Sunday night Janelle and I went out for dinner and a date. As we were driving away, leaving Belle in my Dad's capable hands, I realized it was only the second time since Belle had been born that we had some time in the evening with just the two of us. It was nice. We went to the Salang Pass restaurant, an Afghan place in Little Kabul (Centerville area on Fremont Blvd, for those of you not in the know). There's nothing to distinguish it from its surroundings - in fact, even looking for it we drove past it one time. It was a great dining experience, though.

Most of you who know me know that I am a somewhat finicky eater. I enjoy some non-standard things but in most cases I have a pretty particular white-boy palate. I generally don't like weird stuff. I'd been to an Afghan restaurant once and was a little put off by it but heard lots of good things about Salang Pass so I decided to give it a whirl. Any of you looking for a place to go eat that isn't like the usual chain stuff, check out Salang Pass. We ordered Bolani (thin bread with potatoes and leeks and some good spices inside), Borani (pumpkin with spices, really really good) and Mantoo (sounds like a Star Wars planet but is actually some kind of ground beef and pasta dish - I was less fond of this because of the yogurt sauce). I'm looking forward to heading back there to try out some of the other stuff like the Tandoori chicken and some of the curries.

They have a cool seating area where you sit low to the ground, on pillows and stuff - that's where we sat and it was a neat little change. Anyway, check it out. We are in Fremont, we have a lot of internationals and legitimate ethnic cuisine; may as well take advantage.


What is Biblical Authority

lastword The other day I finished reading The Last Word: Beyond the Bible Wars to a New Understanding of the Authority of Scripture by N.T. Wright.  I thoroughly enjoyed reading it.  It's fairly short, coming in around 120 pages, but Wright is able to communicate a lot in that time.  He goes through a quick history of how "authority of scripture" has been used and understood.  There are chapters on "Scripture and Jesus," "the 'Word of God' in the Apostolic Church," The Enlightenment, and so on.

There's a lot of argument about how we are to understand and figure out what the Bible has to say, and what we're to do about it (in the Christian and non-Christian communities).  In my experience many of the criticisms of the Bible, and many of the seemingly stupid opinions Christians have, are largely attributable to a misunderstanding of what the Bible is in the first place.  We misunderstand what it is and then we misunderstand how to get information from it or what it's trying to say - then we make it say things it doesn't say and criticize it for things it doesn't say because we think it says those things. (Got that?)

Several worthwhile quotes present themselves in the book, but I'll just put one or two down here that I found helpful and that characterize some of his points in the book.

Here we have the roots of a fully Christian theology of scriptural authority: planted firmly in the soil of the missionary community, confronting the powers of the world with the news of the Kingdom of God, refreshed and invigorated by the Spirit, growing particularly through the preaching and teaching of the apostles, and bearing fruit in the transformation of human lives as the start of God's project to put the whole cosmos to rights. (p. 50)

The above quote comes from Wright discussing the use of scripture in the Early Church.  The Bible is more than just an encyclopedia of religious factoids - it's one of the ways God has decided to work in the world and through people.

Once you can make scripture stand on its hind legs and dance a jig, it becomes a tame pet rather than a roaring lion.  It is no longer "authoritative" in any strict sense; that is, it may be cited as though in "proof" of some point or other, but it is not leading the way, energizing the church with the fresh breath of God himself. The question must always be asked, whether scripture is being used to serve and existing theology or vice versa. (p. 70)

Here Wright discusses how it's important for us to try to find the message within the Bible instead of putting our own meaning onto it.  If God has used the Bible to speak, then what's important is hearing the message, not inventing it.  There is a definite message in there to be found.  Our method of discerning the message is what often leads to conflict.  I like Wright's suggestions in this area.  Historically Christians have put the sources of scripture, tradition, reason, and experience at odds.  We say "my tradition values scripture, while this other tradition values reason."  It's a way of considering what our final authority will be - is our authority scripture or is it reason?  I think Wright has good stuff to say about how to move past that often unhelpful model:

To change the picture, scripture, tradition, and reason are not like three different bookshelves, each of which can be ransacked for answers to key questions.  Rather, scripture is the bookshelf; tradition is the memory of what people in the house have read and understood (or perhaps misunderstood) from that shelf; and reason is the set of spectacles that people wear in order to make sense of what they read - though, worryingly, the spectacles have varied over time, and there are signs that some readers, using the "reason" available to them, have severely distorted the texts they were reading. 'Experience' is something different again, referring to the effect on readers of what they read, and/or the worldview, the life experience, the political circumstances, and so on, within which that reading takes place. (p. 101-102)

This post has already gone on too long.  Suffice it to say if you want to consider some more mature ways of looking at what the Bible has to say or if you're at all interested in the current discourse on Biblical interpretation, I suggest you take a look at this book.  Whether you think the Bible is the Word of God or you think it's a book of fairy tales, this is a way to seriously interact with some of the more thoughtful ways Christians are looking at the Bible.  I think it's useful for either group.