Rest in Peace, Kitties

We’ve lost two cats now to the road.

I found Neko dead on the side of the road last September. He was an incredible cat, and just barely more than a year old. When he was going through kitty-puberty, he started to behave badly around the food bowl, growling and refusing to let the other cats eat. Jared took a page from the book of St. Francis and sat down and had a talk with Neko about this behavior. And believe it or not, Neko stopped. In fact, from that point on, he would normally wait until all the other cats had finished before he would eat. In the one picture we have of him, he had crawled onto Ernie’s lap and stretched out between Ernie and the computer to get a little people time. He would sometimes leap into my arms from the ground when he wanted attention when we were outside. At other times, he would come inside and simply sit and stare at one of us until he was invited onto a lap.

Today, when Ernie went out to his workshop, he found Oreo, one of our two-year old males, paralyzed from the middle down and dragging himself along by his front legs. Other than the paralysis, there was nothing visibly wrong with him. Before the x-ray, the vet thought that Oreo might recover after a couple of months of intensive care on our part. But the x-ray demolished all hope, showing massive internal damage. His spine was severed in two places, as was his pelvis. The vet said that he’d been hit by a car. We’re not sure how he could have made it from the road to Ernie’s workshop.

We hadn’t gotten Oreo fixed soon enough, so he was a fierce warrior cat who caused some mischief around the place and developed some bad habits. And yet, he was such a sweet cat who loved his people and wanted our attention. Once, when we’d put all the cats outside while we had dinner, Oreo popped in through an open window. As he walked quickly through the room and into the other room, he meowed at us as if to say, “Don’t mind me; just coming through.”

The vet gave Oreo a sedative before administering the lethal shot. Oreo relaxed, laid down, and began purring as he drifted off to sleep as Jared pet him.

Neko, you are so missed, and Oreo, you will be as well.

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A Slightly Different Point of View on the SCOTUS Decision re: Gay Marriage

As an anarchist, my first question is the one that I feel like people should have been asking all along: Why do we need the government’s permission to marry anyone at all? Why don’t people see the supreme weirdness of the phrase “by the power invested in me by God and the state of Texas”? If the government had never gotten involved in marriage, this would be a non-issue. It matters to people because the government, on behalf of the American people, is affirming a lifestyle that a great many Americans regard as sinful. And that’s not the government’s place.

If marriage were not seen as some government established sacrament, would it matter? Gay people have been having ceremonies where they dedicate themselves to one another for a long time now, and while many Christians see the choice as sinful, no one (to my knowledge) was trying to put a stop to such ceremonies. I never heard of anyone trying to pass a single law against such ceremonies. Why? Because it’s no one’s business how others want to live. But when the government chooses to affirm a lifestyle, on behalf of the American people, this changes things. The better decision would have been for the Supreme Court to say that the government doesn’t have any business making decisions about marriage because it’s a private matter. We should not need their permission to get married, and we certainly should not need their permission to decide that we’re no longer married; the government does not need to be in charge of marriage itself in order for the courts to arbitrate when a couple separates.

Of course, that’s tricky area because of the tax code and other government benefits which are tied to marriage. Giving these to one group while denying them to another was a clear cut case of discrimination, and the GOVERNMENT is not, SHOULD NOT, be allowed to discriminate against anyone in this country, no matter how they choose to live, as long as they are not hurting others. But this, too, could have been handled in a way that left the government out of marriage. We already have established common law in this country which says that if you claim someone is your spouse, that person is your spouse. If the government did not issue marriage licenses (a LICENSE to get married–think about that for a moment, and tell yourself how free we are), then they could simply ACCEPT, without DISCRIMINATION, a person’s stated marital status without discussion on any government form.

It’s not for Christians to judge those outside the ecclesia (1 Cor 5:12). Individuals and churches, unlike the government, should be free to make decisions about our own behavior and our own beliefs.

And so THIS is my problem with the idea of SCOTUS ordained gay marriage. As Bastiat said, “When law and force keep a man within the bounds of justice, they impose nothing upon him but a mere negation. They only oblige him to abstain from doing harm. They violate neither his personality, his liberty, nor his property. They only guard the personality, the liberty, the property of others. They hold themselves on the defensive; they defend the equal right of all. They fulfill a mission whose harmlessness is evident, whose utility is palpable, and whose legitimacy is not to be disputed. This is so true that, as a friend of mine once remarked to me, to say that the aim of the law is to cause justice to reign, is to use an expression that is not rigorously exact. It ought to be said, the aim of the law is to prevent injustice from reigning. In fact, it is not justice that has an existence of its own, it is injustice. The one results from the absence of the other.

“But when the law, through the medium of its necessary agent—force—imposes a form of labor, a method or a subject of instruction, a creed, or a worship, it is no longer ne??gative; it acts? positively upon men. It substitutes the will of the legislator for their own will, the initiative of the legislator for their own initiative. They have no need to consult, to compare, or to foresee; the law does all that for them. The intellect is for them a useless encumbrance; they cease to be men; they lose their personality, their liberty, their property.”

It is the force to which I object, the force that other countries have already seen in action. It is the force that says that this person’s desires can FORCE another to do something, even if it goes against his conscience. It is the force of the government choosing to act “positively,” in the opinions of some, upon others, substituting the will of the legislator–or the Supreme Court Justice–over the will of individuals to act according to their own consciences.

What you do is your business, and none of mine, up until the point where you try to force me to accept or participate in your business. At that point, why would you be surprised and offended if I refuse to participate?

If the government had chosen to step out of marriage, then I could join in the celebration for the the government removing itself from something it never had a right to be involved in to begin with! But they didn’t.

I stand for freedom, even for the people with whom I disagree. There were two roads. One would have led to more freedom, for all Americans. The other will likely lead to more tyranny, for all Americans. We stood at another crossroads, and America stayed on the scary path to totalitarianism.

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Christian Citizenship

A person cannot be both a good Christian and a good citizen. On the surface, this seems untrue. A Christian is someone who should always be striving to do unto others. That means that by definition, a Christian will be opposed to any action which has a victim. A Christian will be against murder, rape, theft, kidnapping. According to the Golden Rule, a Christian should also be against doing things that might harm others such as driving recklessly or polluting the environment.

But it’s a mistake to believe that being a “good citizen” means not leaving victims in one’s wake. A good citizen, according to government agencies, is one who lets the government know who the trouble makers are. A good citizen is concerned with any law breaker, even if the law in question is one of compliance which has no victim. A good citizen is a collaborator with the government, keeping tabs on those around him and reporting them when he deems it necessary. It’s not his job to worry about whether someone’s actions are right or wrong. He doesn’t even worry in every case about whether someone’s actions are legal or illegal. A good citizen worries instead about whether or not someone is in compliance with not only the law, but also prevailing sentiments that the government hasn’t quite gotten around to regulating. This is the government’s idea of a good citizen. This is why every agency has a phone number to report on your neighbors, and it’s why the government will investigate even when the report does not claim that a person has actually broken the law.

A Christian, on the other hand, cannot be so supportive of the government that he forgets his duty to his fellow man. A Christian “must obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29). And what did He tell us? He said to love our neighbor as ourselves. On this and loving God “depend the whole Law and the Prophets” (Matthew 22:36-40).

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Jared’s Papers: Narration: The Elegant Universe Chapter 1

This is a narration from his science reading.

For a sizable portion of the last century, scientists have largely ignored the makings of a serious complication in their model of the universe. This model of the universe has largely been formed by two major theories in physics.

Without a doubt, the two most important fields of the 20th Century have been the general theory of relativity and quantum mechanics. These fields have together come to describe much of the universe, allowing us to finally gain a glimmer of understanding of the strange forces that govern the world. The general theory of relativity, broadly speaking, describes time and space as a whole, explaining the motions of some of the largest objects we are aware of, from planets to stars to black holes. Relativity tells us that time and space are not fixed constants across the universe. Instead, they remain in flux depending on the way matter moves and other conditions. Quantum mechanics explains the opposite side of the universe, describing how particles inside of atoms move and behave. This field speaks of even stranger wonders than relativity, such as objects that appear out of nowhere and objects with variable characteristics until they are measured.

As far as we can tell, both fields are true. Elaborate, almost unbelievably accurate experimentation has confirmed both of them. Our knowledge of relativity keeps GPS working accurately, while many modern computers wouldn’t be possible without quantum mechanics. Both theories correctly describe the basic nature of the universe. The complication lies in the fact that they contradict each other.

It is not simply that they say mildly different things about the universe. They are too wildly different to be compatible. Any equation that attempts to factor both the general theory of relativity and quantum mechanics will fall apart into a string of nonsense. Both theories are true, but both hold the other to be false.

Could it be that the laws of nature are different between the colossal and the infinitesimal? If so, then what size is the dividing line? Scientists have managed to ignore these questions for decades, but it is quickly becoming apparent that they can do so no more. There are circumstances in which relativity and quantum mechanics interact with one another, and we currently have no knowledge of how this is possible. In the inside of a black hole, entire star systems are pressed into microscopic spaces. How are we to calculate what happens next—by using relativity, or quantum mechanics? What of our models of the Big Bang, when the entire universe exploded out of a subatomic space? If two indisputably true theories contradict one another, then how does one make sense of the universe?

The answer, according to some scientists, is to introduce a third theory. Superstring theory, often shortened to string theory, is an attempt by scientists worldwide to discover the basic rules of reality in order to gain a fresh vantage point with which to compare relativity and quantum mechanics. String theorists maintain that from a more knowledgeable perspective, we may find that relativity and quantum mechanics don’t contradict each other at all, and may even compliment one another. They search for the unified theory longed for by Albert Einstein, who formulated the general theory of relativity to that end only to be frustrated by quantum mechanics in his later years. The researchers of string theory seek the ability to define the universe in a simple statement.

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Jared’s Papers: Narration: Visual History of the 20th Century

This is a narration from his history reading. He found the topic of interest, so he did a bit of additional online reading on the topic before he wrote this. I think his report reads better than both of his models.

The early 20th Century was a time marked by significant technological advancements. Automobiles slowly began to replace carriages, and the Wright brothers built the first airplane at Kitty Hawk. Geniuses like Thomas Edison and Nikola Tesla worked hard to achieve new mechanical marvels, creating devices never before seen on the planet. Guglielmo Marconi was one of these geniuses, a pioneer in the field of long-distance radio communication.

Marconi’s radios were truly marvelous pieces of engineering, capable of delivering messages instantly over great distances, without even wires to carry signals. The nations of the world immediately saw a great future for the device. But as is usual for new pieces of technology, there were uses that were not immediately forseen. The year of 1910 saw the first criminal caught with the aide of the wireless radio.

Hawley Harvey Crippen was a certified doctor from the U. S. A., married to an opera singer who went by the stage name of Belle Elmore. In 1897, Crippen and his wife moved to England, where, with insufficient certifications for medical practitioning, Crippen began to work for a pharmaceuticals company. To make up for his meager check, he supplemented their family income by renting their building to lodgers. Not long afterwards, his wife began to openly have affairs with these same lodgers, provoking Crippen in turn to take a local typist named Ethel Le Neve as his mistress.

While clearly dysfunctional, nothing truly suspicious occurred in the Crippen residence until January 31st, 1910. In the aftermath of a party taking place in their home, Belle Elmore disappeared. Hawley Crippen began to tell local residents that his wife had taken time off to visit America. At the same time, Ethel Le Neve moved into the house, and was frequently seen wearing Elmore’s clothes and jewelry. As his former wife’s friends grew more and more suspicious, Crippen told them that his wife had died while in America, and her remains had been cremated in California. Skeptical of the claims, one of Belle Elmore’s friends in the entertainment industry alerted the local police to the going-ons at the Crippen residence. A Scotland Yard Inspector named Walter Dew arrived at the home with a search warrant, where he discovered a dismembered corpse in the cellar and a suspicious absence of Crippen and Le Neve.

Unbeknownst to the Inspector, the couple had already fled from the house and arrived in Belgium. Crippen had shaved his moustache and removed his glasses, going by the name of Mr. Robinson. Le Neve disguised herself as a young man and claimed to be his son. The duo planned on taking a ship to Quebec, Canada, where they planned on starting a new life together away from the meddling of the law.

Unfortunately for them, the ship they had boarded was in the possession of a wireless radio transmitter and an observant captain. Captain Henry Kendall recognized the pair from the descriptions on local police posters, and used his radio to inform Scotland Yard about his confidence that the fugitives had taken refuge on his ship. On July 31st, Crippen and his mistress arrived in Quebec only to be introduced to Inspector Dew. According to eyewitnesses, Crippen admitted that the suspense of the chase had been getting to him and cheerfully surrendered himself into custody.

Upon returning to England, a trial was conducted to investigate Crippen’s involvement with his wife’s disappearance. While the body in Crippen’s cellar was too mutilated for immediate identification, a scar found on a piece of torso matched a specific scar Belle Elmore was known to possess. The body was also found to contain a high quantity of a poison Crippen was known to have purchased. In November, Hawley Crippen was found guilty of murder and hanged, claiming his innocence till the very end. Ethel Le Neve was acquitted of her charge as an accomplice.

This last century, Hawley Crippen has become moderately well-known as the first criminal to be captured with the aide of wireless communication technology, starting a long involvement between police and new technologies culminating in the modern use of 9-1-1 as an emergency telephone number. The incident was perhaps the dawn of a new age of technology, as new devices began to work their way into fields never considered by their creators.

Ironically, just as a new technology was responsible for the capture of Hawley Crippen, even newer technology might establish his innocence. In 2007, a team of researchers working with tissue samples from the crime scene claimed that the corpse found in Crippen’s cellar had an entirely different genetic structure than Belle Elmore. Another team of American researchers performed an even deeper genetic analysis, and determined that the body wasn’t even that of a woman. While debate rages as to the validity of the tests, there is certainly a new element of doubt in the case. The possibility may always remain that Marconi’s radio transmitter may have caught the wrong man.

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